(Archive: April 24, 2007 - August 26, 2007)

Notes from Phyllis

Phyllis and Viatar

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

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for Phyllis's last New Zealand trip!

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

August 26, 2007
We have been suffering from a severe drought all summer; we had almost no rain for over two months.  But finally we have gotten a good amount of rain in the last week or so, and the fields are once again green.  How great to be able to go gallop on good footing again.  I will welcome the cooler weather and the start of the autumn Event season. 
     Unfortunately, one of our working students, Meagan Sentinel, sustained a significant injury when she got knocked down while leading a young horse out to the pasture, and she has had to return home to Canada to recuperate.  Everyone here at Windchase misses her, and we wish her a speedy recovery, and look forward to her return next year.
     We have been a little short handed all summer, but Dana Bivens, Nina Bence, Kaitlin Spurlock and of course Meagan have done a super job taking up the slack and keeping everything running smoothly. And with Nina and Kaitlin now returning to school, Windchase is happy to welcome new working students Lauren Thomas, Clare Higgs and Maggie Nichols.  And congratulations to Maggie for passing her 'B' Pony Club testing! 
     We are also really glad to have Jineen nearly back up to full speed; she has made a great recovery from her broken pelvis in May and is now starting to ride again.

     Summer at Windchase is a time for having a break from the competition season, and concentrating on breaking in the babies and schooling the young horses.  At the same time, we are preparing the upper level horses for the autumn Events, so life is always quite busy. But sometimes there is time enough for special things, like photographing hummingbirds!

Until next time,

August 5, 2007
Well, I thought I was going to get away with it.  I should have known better. 
     Friday before last, July 27, was my birthday.  Not just any birthday, but the big five-oh!  I thought I was going to get away with just a small celebration. 
     Jineen planned a small dinner party for me, with a few close friends, at The Village Square restaurant in Winchester, owned by our good friends and former Windchasers, Joerg Eichmann and David Smith.  (Go there if you get the chance, by the way, it's excellent.)  Jineen presented me with the most wonderful birthday gift - a bronze bust of Albany II, that she had made by Robyn Ryan, a very talented artist.  It is absolutely gorgeous, and captures Albany's likeness and expression beautifully.

     Then on Sunday, for her birthday present, Melissa took me white-water kayaking.  I did have a little concern when she told me that she had signed us up for the 'intermediate' lesson, seeing as neither of us had ever been in a kayak before; but it all turned out well, and we certainly weren't bored.  We both became reasonably adept at controlling the kayaks, and we each only turned over once.  The only drawback was that the instructor, who seemed to have had a little too much caffeine, somehow had gotten the impression that I was Melissa's mother.  He spent the whole day calling me 'Birthday Girl' or 'Mom."  Oh well, can't have everything!

     Then on Sunday evening, I sat on my balcony and watched a terrific thunderstorm roll through the valley.  When the lightning comes down in this area known as 'Between the Hills,' the narrow valley we live in between the Short Hill Mountain and the Blue Ridge, the noise the thunder makes is just amazing.  The hills seem to trap the sound and amplify it.  The crack of the lightning seems to split the sky apart, and then the noise goes on forever; it reverberates through your very bones.  Watching the storm and hearing that amazing thunder was beautiful, awe-inspiring, and a little scary.  Moments like that make you appreciate the immensity of nature, and how little we can control it. 

     About the time the storm was over, my presence was requested at the barn.  Well, that's putting it too nicely; more accurately, Melissa dragged me to the barn blindfolded, on the false pretense that the working students had a gift they wanted to present to me.  She then guided me into the indoor arena, and to my complete and utter surprise, when the blindfold came off there were about 50 people there, along with a full barbeque, gobs of food, and plenty of champagne.  They had completely succeeded in making this a total surprise, I had no idea that my friends had planned a birthday party.  So much for my thinking that perhaps my fiftieth would fly under the radar! 
     It was a great party, and thanks to everyone who was involved in making sure my fiftieth birthday would be a memorable one. 

Until next time,

July 27, 2007
I came across this verse not long ago. I didn't write it, but I liked its thoughts and wanted to pass them along.  Many of you may have already seen it because it made its way around the Internet a while back; but for those of you who haven't, it might be of interest to some.

Always There Are the Horses

I ride because I rode as a child when life was simpler and somehow more complete. 
Only the whiff of a clean horse is needed to remind of days gone by. 
For always there have been the horses.

I ride because of all the great horse souls who have shared their lives with me and taught me more than I can say. Their names and faces flash before me as old friends. 
I ride because of all the horses I shall never ride. Those I have watched and marveled at from afar for all their grace and beauty. 
This the stuff of a child's dream, the kind that doesn't die with time. 
Always there are the horses.

I ride because the seasons call to me. Each unique in its appeal and all quite frequently best viewed from the back of a favorite horse. 
I ride because of all things, horses are my passion. They inspire and encourage, energize, and challenge in ways I cannot explain to the un-initiated. 
I ride because of the rush of stretching one's self just a bit farther today than before both mind and body. 
Always there are the horses.

I ride because of those briefest of spans when the partnership comes to full promise. 
When the path twists and barriers fall, each footfall is measured and balanced between the two as a dance. There are no others ....only this moment and this single step to ride. 
The memories of those times stand vivid in my mind to be recalled with all the freshness of the day at will and in times less grand.

But if I must choose, I ride because I have dreams yet to live. 
I ride because I have dreams yet to have and what exactly they will be tomorrow I cannot say . . .
. . . but always there will be the horses.

M. Adelia Ellis Ramey

Until next time,

July 20, 2007
Although the weather can be hot, I really love the summer.  It is a time when our hectic pace of life slows down a little, and we can enjoy each day as it comes.
     As I hacked one of the young horses around the edge of the farm the other day, I came across a doe with twin fawns, still with white spots on their coats.  A bit further on, I rode through a family of wild turkeys; their must of been twenty little ones, frantically flying to catch up to their parents.  Shortly after that I came upon a bunch of half-grown bunnies, and then a young fox, one of this spring's cubs.  I watched a startled groundhog run partway up a tree (I never knew they could do that!), and sighted a pair of rare Red Headed Woodpeckers.  Not a day goes by that I don't ride around Windchase and totally enjoy the wonderful connection with nature that we have here!

Until next time,

June 25, 2007
Summer is here, along with the hot weather.  It got up to around 100 degrees today, which was just miserable.  Hopefully it will cool off soon, and we are hoping to get some rain.
     We have another lovely foal, born about a week ago; a filly out of North River Lady, by our Irish stallion Windstar.  The filly is very beautiful and elegant, and has a sweet personality.  I have named her Fairlight Star, and I think she will be quite special. Four down and one to go!

Fairlight Star, with her dam North River Lady.

     The spring Event Season is winding to a close for the upper level horses, and we are concentrating on schooling the young horses and getting them out to some competitions.  My nice new youngster from Ireland, Aherlow, went great at Seneca Valley, placing 3rd in his first Novice, ridden by Melissa Hunsberger.  And Dana Bivens had a good competition with Altamira (by Brandenburg's Windstar) in the Novice at CDCTA, with a clear XC and good performances in all three phases.  Nina Bence also had a successful competition debut on her nice young TB four year old JJ.  It is good fun to get these youngsters out to learn the ropes of competing.

Until next time,

June 8, 2007

     Windchase riders made a good showing at the last Three-day Event of the spring season, the Jersey Fresh CCI, at the Horse Park of New Jersey.  Despite brutally hot temperatures, the course was excellent, and the event organization did a good job of aerating to improve the footing.  Both the three-star and the two-star had strong competitive fields of over 50 starters, making for an excellent competition.
     Melissa Hunsberger rode her talented TB mare Expedience in the CCI***.  The dressage phase is still a work in progress for this pair, but they had a good clear cross-country round over the demanding three-star course, and put in one of the few clean show jumping rounds in the division, moving up to finish in 16th place.

Melissa and Expedience in the CCI***

     Pedro Gutierrez, representing Mexico, had a great performance in the CCI** on his New Zealand horse Mitchell.  The two-star cross-country caused a huge amount of difficulty, and Pedro had one of the best rides around it of the day.  Having also done a solid dressage test, and show jumping well on the final day, this pair finished 19th in a competitive field.

     Congratulations to Kim Severson on the purchase of Fantasy Impromptu.  This fabulous youngster is one of the fanciest and most talented horses that I have ever ridden, and he seems to have unlimited potential.  It was a little hard to let him go, but I am thrilled that he has gone to Kim, and it will be fun to watch him go to the top of the sport.

Until next time,

May 30, 2007
     As you know if you have been following this column, Jineen Reed, Windchase's dressage trainer and manager, and my best friend, had a serious riding accident recently and sustained multiple fractures to her pelvis.  She is home recuperating, and is doing well.  Below is a message she asked me to post here on this site.

A Message from Jineen:

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for the love and support I've received since my accident.  Flowers, phone calls, e-mails, cards - it's really been amazing!

Not long ago, I read "The Five People You Meet In Heaven," an interesting story about a man who regretted that he hadn't accomplished more in his life.  While reading, I really identified with the man because I have often wondered what it is that I am meant to do - in the big scheme of things.  In the story, the man dies and subsequently meets five strangers in heaven whose lives he has influenced without knowing it.  He comes to realize that many people benefited from the way he lived his life; so he had really accomplished much more than he thought.

Thanks to all of you, that is how I feel.  Lucky to be alive, blessed by knowing each and every one of you, and grateful to realize at this point in my life that this out-pouring of concern, love and support comes because I have touched each of you in some small, and perhaps unforgettable, way.


May 29, 2007
     Congratulations to Windchase working student Dana Bivens, who successfully completed the CCI* at the Virginia Horse Trials this past weekend.  The cross-country course was big and really demanding, and it was great to see her have such a good ride around it.     
     Another Windchase student who had a good weekend was Kaitlin Spurlock; she placed 4th in the Preliminary division with her New Zealand horse Purr.  This talented pair have successfully moved up to Prelim this spring, and we expect great things from them in the future. 

Kaitlin and Purr

     The Virginia Horse Trials is always one of my favorite competitions of the year.  The facilities at the Virginia Horse Park are second to none, and Brian and Penny Ross do a fabulous job of organizing and running the competition with over 500 horses at all levels.  We were particularly impressed by the good job they did aerating the ground and improving the footing for the FEI divisions.  

Until next time,

May 24, 2007
I just wanted to let all of you well wishers know that Jineen came home from the hospital today, and she is doing very well. She is able to move around her house with the aid of a walker or crutches, and I suspect she will be back on her feet before too long; though it might be a while before she is doing that sit trot again.  We are certainly glad she is home!

Until next time,

May 20, 2007
I have bad news to report this week. Windchase's trainer and manager, Jineen Reed, had a serious accident a couple of days ago when a horse she was schooling fell on her, breaking her pelvis in several places.  She is currently in the Loudoun Hospital recuperating.  She is fairly immobile at the moment, but the breaks do not involve joints and she should make a complete recover.  She is hoping to be able to come home in the next few days, but she is going to be pretty sore for quite a while.  Everyone here at Windchase is wishing her a speedy recovery.

Sara and Bright Venus

     On a more positive note, our broodmare Sara had a lovely filly earlier this week by our Irish stallion Windstar.  I noticed that Venus was shining bright in the sky when she was born, and I used that as the inspiration for her name.

Until next time,

May 13, 2007

     Happy Mother's Day!  Here is our most recent Mother, Gold Trinket and her one week old colt Starbourne.

Until next time,

May 11, 2007
There is nothing better in this life than riding really fine horses, and we are lucky at Windchase right now to have a super new group of lovely horses to ride!  We have a couple of new young Eventers from New Zealand that are phenomenal; they are some of the nicest we have brought over.  And my new youngster from Ireland is extremely special; a real joy to ride every day.  We also have several nice American-bred youngsters that are now ready for sale, so we have quite a good group in work.  I have just listed six new horses on the sales page, and I don't know when I have ever had a nicer selection of quality horses for sale.  So let me know if you are in the market!

Until next time,

May 9, 2007
Windchase was well represented at the MCTA Horse Trials this past weekend, held at the lovely Shawan Downs near Baltimore.  The weather was perfect, the courses were beautiful and challenging, and we couldn't have asked for a nicer event.
     Two of my youngsters made their competition debut in the USEA Young Event Horse class on Friday.  These classes are judged on potential and talent, designed to identify young prospects suitable to excel at the highest levels of Eventing.  The horses do a dressage test, and then jump a course that is made up of both cross-country and show jumping fences.  They are also judged on conformation, their gallop, and suitability for Eventing.  My mare Angel Unaware won the four-year-old class, and my gelding Fantasy Impromptu was second in the five-year-old class, winning the dressage.  Not bad for their first outing!
     I had a great run with Viatar in the Open Intermediate; he went really well in all three phases.  He was foot perfect around the quite challenging cross-country course, to end up finishing 3rd - I couldn't have been more thrilled with him.
     Pedro Gutierrez rode his spectacular black stallion, Orujo de la Galerna, in the Open Preliminary, and he put in a super performance with this young horse to win the division, having one of the few double clear show jumping rounds.  Pedro also had a good go on his New Zealand horse Mitchell, placing 8th in the OI.
     Melissa Hunsberger finished 3rd with her TB mare Expedience in the Advanced; this was a good prep for their next outing, the CCI**
* at Jersey Fresh. Other good performances from Windchase riders included Dana Bivens placing 8th on her mare Carpe Diem, and Megan Hansen placing 5th on Aurora.  Congratulations also to Kaitlin Spurlock, who rode her young NZ horse Purr at the Difficult Run Horse Trials, placing 2nd at his first Preliminary.
     And to top off a super weekend, our broodmare Gold Trinket had a beautiful foal early Sunday morning!  I'll get photos soon.

Until next time,

May 2, 2007
Sometimes dreams come true, and this past weekend many of Melissa Hunsberger's did.  She has dreamed of riding at the top levels of Eventing ever since she watched the Rolex Kentucky CCI four-star in 1999, when she decided this was the path she wanted to take.  She has worked long and hard to get to the top of our sport, overcoming the setbacks and disappointments that crop up along the way.  Last week all of her hard work and dedication paid off, and Melissa completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** on Just Fun Stuff, a horse she has trained herself, finishing 17th out of a field of about fifty that included many of the best horses and riders in the world.  She jumped clear around the huge and demanding cross-country course, taking all of the straight options.  The joy on her face when she crossed the finish line said it all! 

     I am very proud of Melissa, and glad to have played a part in helping her attain some of her goals. Indeed, after over twenty years of riding at Rolex as a competitor, it felt quite strange for me to be there as a trainer.  (Being back at the Kentucky Horse Park brought back a thousand memories, most of them good.)  You can't have success at a competition like this without a good support team, and Melissa was lucky to have the best, with Natalie Hollis and Siobhain O'Connor grooming for her as well as offering moral support.  Many of Melissa's friends and family went to watch, so she had quite a large cheering section!
     It was great to have Melissa representing Windchase at Rolex, and we are all very proud of her success.  Hopefully it will lead to even bigger and better things in the future!

Until next time,

April 25, 2007

     ROLEX BOUND!!! 
     Melissa Hunsberger is down in Lexington, KY this week with her horse Just Fun Stuff, preparing to compete in the CCI**** at Rolex.  Everyone here at Windchase is extremely proud of her, and we wish her the very best of luck at this top class four-star competition. 

     The Rolex four-star CCI at Lexington, Kentucky is the most important Eventing competition in our country, and indeed one of the most prestigious in the world.  Melissa attended this event as a spectator about 10 years ago, as a teenager, and like so many who go to watch at Rolex, she set her sights on competing there one day.  It inspired her to set out on her chosen path of Eventing.
     Melissa has worked her way up through the ranks.  Without sponsorship or financial support, she has done it the old-fashioned way; through determination, dedication, and hard work.  Riding at Rolex has been Melissa's dream for years, and now her chance is here.  She has developed a wonderful partnership with her talented thoroughbred gelding Just Fun Stuff, and together the two of them will contest the CCI**** at Rolex.

Melissa and Just Fun Stuff

     I am extremely excited about Melissa going to Kentucky, and I am really proud of her achievements in getting there.  I competed at Rolex pretty much every year from 1979 through 2001, and now I am really looking forward to going back, this time in the role of trainer.  My favorite philosophy is 'Invest it the Journey rather than the Destination,' and Melissa is finally taking that to heart.  She is going into the competition determined to enjoy every minute of it.
     Wish us luck!!!

Until next time,

April 24, 2007
Spring is finally here.  The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, and the grass is finally lush and green.  When I looked out my window this morning there were leaves on the maple trees.  The days are full of bird songs and sunshine.  Each day I appreciate how lucky I am to be at such a magical place as Windchase.
     We had a lovely weekend at Fair Hill, MD. I rode Viatar in the Open Intermediate, and he went like a dream.  I also had a great time riding around the show grounds on my fancy young horse Fantasy Impromptu; he wasn't competing, but went along for the education and experience.  He was extremely well-behaved, and his spectacular movement attracted a lot of attention.  I can't wait to start Eventing him!

     Pedro Gutierrez competed his homebred TB stallion Orujo de la Galerna in the CIC* division, and put in a great performance in all three phases to finish fourth.  This talented young stallion gets better with each outing, and has a bright future.

Until next time,

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


United We Stand


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

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