(Archive: August 13, 2005 - December 24, 2005)

Notes from Phyllis

Phyllis and Viatar at Morven Park.

New!  Click here to learn about Phyllis and Jineen's trip to Ireland, July 2005

Visit the Trip Report Page to read about Phyllis's travels!

December 24, 2005
About a week ago we had an ice storm in the night.  The next morning, when I went outside, everything was covered with almost a half inch of ice; every branch and twig was coated.  Then the sun came out and turned the world to crystal.  It was incredible, like being in a fairy land, with a million prisms reflecting off of the ice-covered snow. 

     Just another reminder of how lucky I am to be here at Windchase!
Merry Christmas!
Peace on Earth - and in Space.

Until next time,

December 19, 2005
I have been so busy traveling that I have not had a chance to get ready for Christmas!  First I went to the USEA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC, weekend before last; then I was back to North Carolina this past week to teach an Instructor's Workshop.
     This past weekend, I taught a clinic at the Kreutzer's WinDancer Farm near Denver.  It was a lot of fun, but boy was it ever cold in Colorado; I'm not sure the temperatures ever got out of the single digits!
     I did notice that the flight home seemed a bit bumpy; in fact it felt like we hit something!  I don't really know what happened, but here is a picture of the plane after we landed. 

     I guess I am not the only one having a tough time getting ready for Christmas!

Until next time,

December 10, 2005
Winter is definitely here.  It has gotten cold the last couple of weeks, and we have had snow twice already. 
     While I am not thrilled with the cold weather, I really do enjoy the change of seasons.  Coming outside in the morning after a fresh snowfall is magic; it's like being in a fairyland.  Windchase sits in a narrow valley between two mountain ridges, and especially this time of year, depending on the weather and the snow, the scenery every day is different!

Albany II

     Albany II, my old friend and partner in the 1988 Olympics, likes this time of year too, but for a different reason.  He is 26 years old and quite sore and creaky, and his feet sometimes bother him.  So when the ground freezes hard in the winter, instead of turning him out in the field with his pasture mates, we just let him roam loose around the farm.  He thinks this is great; he wanders around and comes and goes as he pleases.  He knows all the places along the creek and the driveway where the grass is the best; since no other horses can graze there he has them all to himself.  When he gets bored he wanders into the barn and raids the carrot bags or the supplement jars, and everyone who passes gives him a treat. And he deserves all of it!

Until next time,

November 28, 2005
I had the most lovely ride on Sunday.  We had beautiful autumn weather with the temperature in the fifties, and after a very busy and hectic week, I had a great day scheduled, with no lessons, meetings, sale showings or other obligations; all I had to do was ride my horses!
     In the morning I rode out on Viatar and headed up the mountain.  Being a Sunday, I didn't have to worry about the deer hunters, so it was a great day to go out for a long ride in the countryside.  The last of the autumn colors on the trees, a clear blue sunny sky, rolling green hills and a good horse underneath you; it just doesn't get any better!
     Leaving the farm, I must have seen a dozen deer; there are so many around this year you can barely set foot out of the stableyard without encountering them.  Crossing the fields, I listened to the high-pitched cry of a bird of prey and watched a red-tailed hawk circling above me. 
     Not far from our farm is a large beaver pond.  It used to be a wooded valley with a creek running through it, but beavers moved in years ago and dammed up the creek to flood the whole area, creating a large pond amid the forest.  The landowners tried several times to break up the dam and to get rid of the beavers by trapping or shooting them, but the beavers prevailed, and now they have about ten acres under water!  They keep their dam in perfect shape, and the whole pond they created is now their aquatic playground.  It has an eerie kind of beauty, with the barren trunks from the trees that used to grow there sticking up out of the still water.  As I passed by, a group of mallard ducks took flight through the trees, and a great blue heron majestically glided along just above the surface of the water.
     Leaving the valley, I started up Short Hill Mountain, following an old logging road up through the woods.  The higher we went the quieter it became.  It is thick forest all the way up the mountainside, and most of the leaves were off of the trees, making a thick carpet on the ground.  The huge old oak trees had lost most of their foliage, but they still held on to the remnants of the summer leaves; they were crowned with a light canopy of burgundy, rusted green and muted gold.  The trail up the mountain is steep and demanding in places, but Viatar seemed to be enjoying the ride as much as I was. 
     The higher we went the wilder everything became.  It felt like we were leaving civilization behind.  We passed rocky cliffs and outcroppings, many with small caves in them.  I wondered if bears inhabited any of them!  It was quiet and sort of desolate up that high; just the trees and rocks and the leaves underfoot. 
     When we got to the top, I could look out through the trees and see the valley below us, almost like looking out of an airplane.  Traveling along the top of the ridge, I could see out on both sides of the mountain.  We were far enough above the lands below that I could hear nothing but the wind in the trees and the sound of Viatar's hooves in the leaves.  It felt timeless, like we could have been walking that ridge centuries ago.  It was easy to imagine, looking out over the valley, that Indians had once stood and watched from that very spot.
     After exploring some of the trails along the top of the ridge (and getting to jump a couple of good-sized logs that blocked the path, Viatar's favorite part of the whole ride!), we headed home.  The ride back down the mountainside was a gradual return to civilization.  As we got back to the farm, we had a lovely gallop across the hayfield to end the ride.  Viatar and I agreed that it had been an excellent morning!  It was a super way to end the Thanksgiving weekend, and a good reminder of how much I have to be thankful for.  I don't take it for granted though; there isn't a day that goes by that I don't ride around Windchase and think about how lucky I am to be here!

Until next time,

November 24, 2005
     Happy Thanksgiving!
We finished up the Event season at the Rubicon Horse Trials in Leesburg weekend before last.  I had a great ride with Viatar; I took him in the Open Preliminary (they didn't have an Intermediate division) just for fun, since we had only gotten to run cross-country once all autumn.  He was super, finishing fourth and just missing winning it because of a silly rail in show jumping.
     I also rode King's Journey, my new four-year-old from Ireland, in the Novice; it was his first ever outing and he was great fun!  He was a little confused during his first time in a dressage ring; he couldn't understand why I kept pointing him at those little white jumps and then turning him away before he could jump them!  But he was super around the cross-country and show jumping, and I look forward to competing him next year.  I imported Journey from Ireland in August, and I have become really attached to him.  He is amazingly like Albany II, the horse I rode in the Olympics in Seoul.  He has the same sweet temperament and great attitude; he tries to do the right thing all the time.  Journey has very similar movement and jump to Albany; it is like a sense of déjà vu every time I ride him!
     Melissa rode Noble Touch, my other new horse from Ireland, and he went very well in the Novice.  This horse has incredible talent and scope.  He is very green and still somewhat flighty, but when he gets trained up he is going to be something special.  Cyndi Boughen had a good day on her mare Divine Intervention, finishing her season placing 5th in the Open Training division.

     Last weekend I got a chance to have some fun of another sort; I went flying!  A friend of mine, Gary Spurlock, is a pilot, and he took me flying in a small two-seater aircraft on Sunday.  I have always loved to fly, especially when I get the chance to go up in a small plane. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and we flew over Windchase; I took some pictures of the farm.  We then went on to Martinsburg, WV, and did a touch and go on the runway, then came back to Leesburg Airport following the Potomac River and passing over Harper's Ferry.  It was awesome!

     I have also been to Washington twice in the last week; that's a lot of time in the city for me - I usually don't go down there twice in two years!  We went to see the Lippizans, from the Spanish Riding School in Austria, at the MCI Center.  I really enjoyed the show! I had seen them once when I was a little kid, and when I saw them perform this time I was really surprised at how much I remembered from that first time.  I particularly enjoyed the quadrille; it was amazing how perfectly synchronized the stallions were as they performed the highest levels of dressage.
     Then the other night we went to the show Cavalia, which is right next door to the Pentagon.  It was amazing!  It is a fabulous show featuring 47 horses, about half of which are stallions, and a dozen different breeds.  The show encompasses a wide variety of incredible performances by horses and humans.  Horses performed both with riders and at freedom, and there were extraordinary displays of human acrobatics.  The show featured many types of horsemanship, including liberty training, dressage, vaulting, riding over jumps Roman style, and incredible cowboy trick riding.  It was all set to music, with constantly changing lighting patterns and scenery projected on the backdrop.  It was a very artistic and beautiful show, with a strong element of imagination and fantasy, and a good bit of humor and fun thrown in as well!  Cavalia is being held over through this coming weekend; you can get tickets on  If you haven't seen it yet, you should go! 

Until next time,

November 10, 2005
At last, a beautiful sunny day for an Event!  I went down to Lexington, VA for the Virginia Horse Trials last weekend and had an absolutely marvelous time.
     I rode Viatar in the Open Intermediate; he was excellent.  His dressage has really improved, and he jumped in his usual great style.  Having waited all autumn to go cross-country with him, first because of him recovering from a leg infection and then because of bad-weather cancellations, it was an absolute delight to get to ride the fabulous Intermediate course at the Virginia Horse Park.  The weather was perfect, the footing was ideal, and as I jumped around the first part of the course and came to the hilltop after fence 7 the whole valley was spread out below me in a glory of autumn foliage.  It felt like flying! Viatar enjoyed jumping around the course as much as I did, and we finished 8th.  The only bummer is, now that he is finally back in full competition, the season is almost over!

Viatar and Phyllis at the Virginia Horse Trials

     Pedro Gutierrez came up from Mexico City to ride Orujo in the Open Training; he won the division handily.  Pedro has had a great season with his talented young stallion; in addition to tying for the USEA Young Event Horse 5-year old Championship, he was in the top placings just about every time he competed.  Nice to finish off the season with another win!
     It has also been fun to watch the progress of Brandenburg's Windstar's first offspring in competition.  Katie Willis was 6th in the Preliminary Championships with her talented 6-year-old Polar Storm, jumping clear around a tough championship caliber cross-country course.  Arthur has been winning consistently at the Preliminary level all year with Alison Springer, and 5-year-old Star Flight has had been very successful at Training level with Lyn Symansky, including placing 2nd in the Training Championships at Waredaca.  Catherine Rochester is winning at novice with Grand Marnier II, and will move up soon.  My own Cor Leonis placed 2nd in the Novice at his first Event.  These youngsters are all going great guns, and I look forward to watching them progress as they get older and move up through the levels.  And I have a super crop of 2 and 3-year-olds coming up behind them!

Until next time,

October 24, 2005
We had another wet and rainy weekend for Waredaca.  I had been really looking forward to this event, because it was the first one that my Intermediate horse Viatar was going to be ready for this autumn, after having missed time in the summer from a leg infection.  I was very excited to be taking him out competing again!  So what happens?  It rains all day Friday, all that night, and most of Saturday.  We slogged around in the wet and the mud for dressage and show jumping, and then the cross-country was cancelled.  Major bummer!  Nothing we could do about it though, so we will just have to wait for Virginia Horse Trials in two weeks.

     Melissa Hunsberger represented Windchase at the Fair Hill CCI*** the week before; this was very exciting, as it was her first three-star.  She did a great job, but unfortunately had some bad luck.  She was going great and was about 3/4 of the way around the really difficult cross-country course when her horse slipped on a turn after a fence and went down on his side.  The rules read that a fall between fences from such a slip is not penalized, but because she was only a few strides after a jump they ruled that it was related to the obstacle, so it was considered mandatory retirement.  Melissa was of course disappointed to not be allowed to complete, but she should be very proud of the excellent season she has had, successfully moving both of her horses up to the Advanced level and placing so well at Radnor.  Look out for her and these two talented horses next year!
     In the meantime, horses are always great humblers; after all of Melissa's success this year, she got dumped in the mud in the parking lot at Waredaca before dressage on Saturday by one of the youngsters!

Until next time,

October 13, 2005
At last!  I have finally finished the report on my trip to Ireland in July, 2005.  Now you can read about the further adventures of the Knights of the Drop-Leaf Table.  Sorry it took me so long!

Until next time,

October 11, 2005
Once again, congratulations to Melissa!  She was a star at the Radnor CCI**!  She finished 6th in a very competitive field of over 50 starters.
     In one respect, Radnor turned out to be a matter of 'be careful what you wish for.'  We have been having a terrible drought this autumn, with virtually no rain for the last two months, so we have all been hoping for rain.  Well, we got it.  A lot of it.  All at once.  It started raining on Friday morning and poured for two days, accumulating more than 5 inches and causing major flooding.  Fortunately, the Radnor organizers and course builders were determined to make it work; they went to major effort to swap the show jumping to Saturday and run the cross-country on Sunday, modifying the track of the course to make it possible.  By Sunday the footing was wet but not too bad, and the competition was a success.
     Melissa rode her mare Expedience, and the pair of them were super.  They put in a very credible dressage test, and had a lovely show jumping round.  On the cross-country they really shined; they had a foot perfect round to be one of just a handful to finish clear and in the time.  I am very proud of Melissa, and so is everyone here at Windchase.

     Oh, and check out the November issue of Practical Horseman magazine. There is a feature story about Melissa, and she is on the cover!

Until next time,

October 2, 2005
Congratulations to Melissa Hunsberger and Pedro Gutierrez!  The Morven Park Horse Trials were this weekend, and Windchase was well represented by these two!
     The Young Event Horse Finals were held at Morven Park, and Pedro won the five-year-old Championship with his lovely homebred stallion Orujo!  This talented thoroughbred has been training at Windchase since June, and we have really enjoyed working with him.  Pedro came up from Mexico City to ride him in the finals, and they put in a great performance, earning a well-deserved victory.

Pedro and Orujo

     Melissa continued with her successful Advanced season on Just Fun Stuff.  She has long dreamed of getting to ride the Advanced course at Morven Park, and this weekend she got the opportunity to do it.  And she did it in fine style!  She was competitive in all three phases, and ended up 7th in the Advanced division.  Now she has her sights set on the Fair Hill CCI***! 

Melissa and Just Fun Stuff

Until next time,

September 26, 2005
The weather is finally cooling off a bit, after one of the hottest summers in this area that anyone can remember.  The leaves are starting to turn and autumn is in the air, but we have been having a major drought; everything is very dry and the ground is as hard as a brick.  We are really hoping for rain!
     We went to the Middleburg Horse Trials this past weekend, held at the steeplechase racecourse at Glenwood Park.  It is such a delight to ride there on that beautiful turf! 
     My Intermediate horse Viatar is returning to competition after missing work this summer due to a leg infection, and he went very well on Saturday, ending the day in 1st place after Dressage and Show Jumping.  But because he has returned to serious work fairly recently and because the ground was extremely hard, I made the difficult decision not to run him cross-country on Sunday; I felt that it wasn't worth the risk.  Hopefully we will get some rain soon to improve the footing, and aim for the competitions later in the season! 
     However, I did have a great outing on Cor Leonis.  This talented young horse is a 4-year-old by our Irish stallion Brandenburg's Windstar, and Middleburg was his first competition.  He was an absolute gentleman, going superbly in all three phases, to finish 2nd in the Open Novice.  Not bad for his first time off of the farm!  Several other horses by Windstar also had successful outings; Arthur was 2nd in the Open Preliminary division with Allison Springer, and Katie Willis' Polar Storm was 4th.

Alpha Bravo, offered for sale.

     Windchase working student Kathy Rienks put in a great performance on Alpha Bravo, finishing 2nd in the Young Riders Open Preliminary.  They put in a competitive dressage ride and show jumping round, and their fast and clean cross-country round over an extremely difficult course assured them a top placing.  This talented New Zealand Eventers is offered for sale.

September 17, 2005
I am having a ball with my new Irish horses.  It is always fun to have new toys! 
     One of them is a four-year-old by King's Master, he is really lovely to ride.  I have named him King's Journey, and I am really enjoying him a lot.  He has a lovely jump and a great attitude, but I am not in a hurry with him as I think he is really special, so I plan to just spend the autumn hacking and quietly schooling, and not really be in a hurry to compete him.  He will be a super ride for next year!
     The other new Irish horse is a five-year-old named Noble Touch.  He is an athletic and bold chestnut who has done the Young Event Horse classes in Ireland.  He was a little nervous at first in his new environment, but now he has settled in and is going really well.  He is a super jumper, and hopefully he will be ready to run in some Events this autumn.

     Today I went to the Irish Draught Horse Society of North America Regional Show, and rode Bridon's Blue Diamond (known around the barn as Jasper) for his owner, Marsha Lehr.  Jasper did himself proud today, placing first in both of his dressage classes, and winning the overall Dressage Championship of the show!
     Also, last weekend, Melissa Hunsberger rode the talented mare Greta Garbo at Seneca Valley.  She went very well to finish 5th in the Open Training; very good for Greta's first outing at that level.

     Jineen and I got a little culture last weekend; we went down to the MCI Center in Washington DC and saw Elton John in concert!  This was great fun; I have always loved Elton John's music, but I had never seen him in concert before.  It was an amazing show, and he sounded just as great as ever.  It was also fun to go downtown and have dinner there, and walk around town a bit before the show.  Having grown up in Great Falls and spent basically my whole life within 60 miles of Washington, I could probably count on two hands the number of times I have actually gone downtown.  I guess I don't get off the farm enough!  Oh well, what can I say, I'm a country girl at heart!

Until next time,

September 7, 2005

     Event season is in full swing now, and Windchase had a successful weekend. 
     Kathy Rienks rode Alpha Bravo in the Junior Open Preliminary division at Loudoun, and put in an excellent performance in all three phases.  They were leading after the dressage and show jumping, and put in a super cross-country round with just a few time penalties due to the hard ground, to finish 6th overall.  Kathy also finished 3rd in the Open Training on Bold Star, one of Windstar's babies doing his first Training level competition.

Alpha Bravo, offered for sale.

     Pedro Gutierrez of Mexico City had an excellent clear XC run with his Intermediate horse Ebro, and also was well placed with his talented young homebred stallion Orujo in the Open Training. Andrea Courson was thrilled with her clear cross-country ride on her talented mare Mystic; this is another Windchase homebred.  A number of other former Windchase horses were well placed also, including the talented New Zealand horse Sportz, who added a second place in the Open Intermediate to his already long list of top placings.

     And congratulations once again to Melissa Hunsberger! She competed at Poplar Place, in Georgia, where she had a clear XC round and finished 6th with Just Fun Stuff in the Advanced division.  Now she has her sights set on the CCI*** at Fair Hill! 

Until next time,

August 26, 2005
     Congratulations to Melissa Hunsberger; she just rode both of her horses to clear cross-country rounds in the Advanced Division at Millbrook, NY last weekend!  Melissa has done a great job training and competing these two talented horses, and we are very proud of the job she is doing representing Windchase!

Melissa and Just Fun Stuff.

     The other exciting news is that my new Irish horses have arrived!  The two youngsters that I bought in July shipped this week, and I brought them home on Wednesday.  They have settled in well, and I am very much looking forward to starting work with them.  I think they are very special.  Its always great to have new toys!

Until next time,

August 13, 2005
     What is the saying, "the dog days of summer"?  That is certainly what we are experiencing here at Windchase.  This summer has been brutally hot, with day after day in the mid to high nineties.  We expect hot weather this time of year, but recently it has been excessive!
     As usual during this time of year, we are concentrating on schooling the youngsters and starting the three-year-olds under saddle.  We are biding our time waiting for cooler weather and the autumn Event Season, and it is a great opportunity to get the babies going. 

     Windchase would like to offer congratulations to Pedro Gutierrez on the recent success of his young homebred stallion Orujo.  I won with him at Surefire Farm Horse Trials in the 5-year-old class of the Young Event Horse series in July; he is a really fun horse to ride.  And just this weekend, Pedro won the Young Horse Open Training division at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials in Maryland.  This is a really promising young stallion with a bright future!
     I am disappointed that I will not be able to aim for the Radnor CCI** with my top horse Viatar as I had intended; an unlucky leg infection has put those plans to rest for the season.  But I really am looking forward to the arrival to my two new horses from Ireland!  I have purchased a 4-year-old by King's Master and a 5-year-old by Touchdown; I think that both of them are really outstanding.  I plan to have a lot of fun with them this autumn!

Until next time,


For past news from Phyllis and the crew at Windchase, go to the
Windchase News Archives


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Phyllis Dawson
Phone: (540) 668-6024 stable
(540) 668-6548 home

(540) 668-7210 fax
Address: 36502 Kidwell Road
Purcellville, VA 20132  USA