Invest in the Journey
  Invest in the Journey, not the Destination.

(Archive: Jan 1, 2011 - May 17, 2011)
Notes from Phyllis



Read about Phyllis and Jineen's
trip to Canada in 2010.

Canada 2010

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

Phyllis's Travels

See our new and improved
Windchase Photos page.
Windchase Photos

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


Windchase Quotes:
Celebrate what's right with the world! 
                             ~ Dewitt Jones ~


For some light entertainment, visit our new page:  WINDCHASE BLOOPERS
New: Read about Phyllis and Jineen's trip to the Canadian Rockies. 

May 17, 2011
     It’s been an eventful couple of weeks since I last wrote – May is always one of the busiest months here at Windchase and this year has been no exception.  It is also one of the most beautiful times of the year and I have been enjoying every moment of it.
     I rode Drifter in the Open Preliminary at MCTA weekend before last, and he went really well, jumping clear in SJ and XC over demanding courses.  Drifter is an exceptional jumper, and really fun to compete – though I fear his recent success at Preliminary has gone to his head and he is more spoiled than ever.  Ashlynn Riefenrath also ran well at MCTA, and placed 2nd in the Junior Prelim with her good TB mare Arden.  This pair has a great partnership, and it is really fun to watch them in action.
     On the night after the competition, my Irish mare Sirius had her foal; a tall elegant bay filly by Salute the Truth. I have named her Radiance.

Sirius and Radiance
Sirius and Radiance

     A few nights later, we got another nice filly, this time by our Irish Sport Horse stallion Brandenburg’s Windstar, out of Annie Jones’ lovely mare Gemma. She is a feisty little thing with strong opinions, and is already giving her dam a hard time. 

Gemma and her filly

     This past Saturday we had a dozen horses competing at the unrecognized horse trials at Loch Moy, home of the Maryland Horse Trials.  It was a great chance to get some of the young horses out for their first competitions, and to move up a level with others.  They all went great and we had a very successful day.
     Melissa Hunsberger rode three of Windchase’s homebreds by Windstar.  The ultra-talented Polaris was second in the Novice, and his little sister Adhara won the Beginner Novice in excellent form.  Starbourne, a really fancy four year old in his first competitive outing, went great in the Elementary to place third. Look for these talented youngsters on our Horses for Sale page.

     Larry and Michelle Robbins of Kilronan Farm had a great day with both of their Irish Draught horses moving up a level.  Little Gem had a successful Training level debut, winning her division with Heidi Wardle aboard, and Dana Bivens piloted the young stallion Kilronan’s Glenstone in his first Novice outing, also winning.  Kaitlin Hardy also successfully moved up to Training, placing fourth with Castine’s Path, and Heidi was 7th with her own Double Agent.

Kilronan's Glenstone
Kilronan's Glenstone, winning at Loch Moy

     Ashlynn Riefenrath had a great ride on the talented young thoroughbred Willmore; look for this horse to progress really quickly.  Dana Bivens was also third at this level with Mistica, by Mistic Replica.  And Chloe Brownlee won the Intro division with Pinto Stella. These horses can all also be found on the Horses for Sale page.


May 3, 2011
     I had a blast riding Drifter in the Loudoun Horse Trials last Saturday.  I had just barely moved him up to Prelim at the end of the season last year, so this was his first chance to be competitive around a big solid Prelim course, taking all the straight routes and going for time.  After putting in a somewhat mediocre dressage test (too much hacking and not enough dressage practice!), Drifter put in a good clear Show Jumping round.  Then on cross-country he was foot perfect, running and jumping like a dream.  The course was lovely, very open and gallopy, but with plenty to do, and Drifter gave me a fabulous ride to finish 2nd in his division.  
Dana Bivens jumped a good double clear in the Open Intermediate with Happy Go Lucky, only to find that she had been marked down as eliminated for a controversial technical error – but nonetheless Dana and Lucky had a great run, and they are a pair to watch for in the future.
     All the other Windchase riders also had a good weekend.  Ashlynn Riefenrath won the dressage in the Junior Preliminary, and jumped clear but with some time faults to finish 5th with her classy little TB mare Arden.  Jeff Speagle also jumped clear for his first Preliminary completion on his talented NZ horse Maungatautari.  
In the novice, Heidi Wardle won for the third consecutive time with Michelle and Larry Robbins’ lovely Irish Draught mare Little Gem, finishing on her dressage score of 20.5 – they look forward to moving up at the next competition.  Our working student Kaitlin Hardy placed 3rd with her lovely mare Castine’s Path.
     The Robbins’ young Irish stallion, Kilronan’s Glenstone, placed second in the Beginner Novice, and Karen Eichert was 4th with Lochcarron.  Andrea Courson also jumped well with her mare Itsy Bitsy Betty to finish in 7th.

Polaris, offered for sale.

     Melissa Hunsberger rode two of my homebreds; Polaris did his first Novice, and Adhara went Beginner Novice, in her first ever competition.  Both of them went great and jumped clear XC rounds.  These talented youngsters have a bright future; look for them on the Horses for Sale page.    
In the meantime, I am enjoying the springtime.  The Canadian Geese have started hatching their babies, and all the flowering trees are in bloom.  Each day is a delight.  I love nothing better than to hack around the farm enjoying the beauty of the season.  I guess that dressage practice will have to wait!


April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!
It was a beautiful sunny Easter morning, and a perfect time to get out with my new camera – a Nikon D7000 – and play a little.  Photography is one of my favorite hobbies, and what fun to have a new toy.  Spring is at her finest, and the pink trees in my yard are a delight.

Easter Morning      (click here for larger image)

     But what a change in weather from 24 hours ago!  While this morning it was sunny and near 80, but yesterday when we set off for the Redlands Pony Club Horse Trials it was rainy and 46 degrees.  But despite the wet footing and gloomy weather for the start of the weekend, Windchase had a very successful competition.  

Polaris, by Brandenburg's Windstar, offered for sale.

     Melissa Hunsberger rode my fancy homebred youngster Polaris in his first recognized horse trials, and he went beautifully, adding no faults to his dressage score of 28, to win handily in the BN division.  Heidi Wardle also won a BN division with her youngster Double Agent, and Jeff Speagle was 4th in the Training with Maungatautari.  
Today Heidi won again, this time in the Novice with Michelle and Larry Robbins’ Irish Draught mare Little Gem, and Melissa was 3rd with Maggie Nichols’ horse Western Tern.  We are all looking forward to the Loudoun horse trials next weekend.


April 12, 2011

     We had a good day at Loch Moy on Saturday, taking the young horses out for their first run of the year -  and they made a good showing.  I rode my fancy homebred youngster Polaris in the BN, and despite him being a bit fresh in the show jumping I was very happy with him.  Melissa Hunsberger was second in the novice with Western Tern, who never put a foot wrong.  

Western Tern, offered for sale by Windchase
Western Tern, 2nd in the Novice at Loch Moy - offered For Sale

     Dana Bivens won the BN with Larry and Michelle Robbins’ talented young stallion Kilronan’s Glenstone.  This was Kilronan Farm’s second win in as many weeks, as their Little Gem won the Novice at Morven Park last weekend with Heidi Wardle aboard.  The season is off to a good start!  
We had one glorious day of warm sunshine yesterday, and now we are back to cold rain.  I am still looking forward to springtime weather.  


April 3, 2011

     In my last posting I said that spring was here, but now I am not so sure.  The cold weather has continued, and though Mother Nature has been teasing us with hints of spring such as daffodils and a little green grass, freezing nights and daytime highs in the mid forties have not convinced me that the winter is over.
     Our event season got underway today at Morven Park, and the weather did nothing to break the recent chilly pattern.  In fact, every time I got on my horse it proceeded to sleet and hail.  I rode Drifter in the Training – he had just moved up to Preliminary at the end of the season last autumn, but because Morven is early and chances to school cross-country this time of year are uncertain, I decided to give him an easy run to start off the season.  Despite being soaked with cold rain and pummeled by icy pellets of hail in both dressage and show jumping, Drifter went really well, jumping a double clear and finishing 3rd.  After spending most of the winter in the indoor arena, what fun to be back galloping cross-country again!  We will be back to Prelim level in a couple of weeks at Loudoun.
     Dana Bivens also had a good day, placing 6th in the Open Intermediate on her Happy Go Lucky.  Better weather is expected for tomorrow, when we go back with more Windchase horses and students.  It is supposed to be sunny and sixty, maybe spring will be here after all . . .


March 23, 2011
     Spring is here, and I am enjoying every minute of it.  Though we have had a few gloriously warm days, mostly the weather has still been on the cool side due to the unique weather patterns here at Windchase.  It always seems to be about five degrees colder here than anywhere around – even compared to Hillsboro, just a mile away.  In fact, the cold pocket starts when you turn up our gravel road; when the snow has melted everywhere else Windchase is often still covered in white.  But not now!  The grass is growing fast and turning green, the daffodils are blooming, and the horses are shedding like mad.  We have had a lot of rain so there hasn’t been much cross-country schooling, but even just getting outside for a trot or a gallop feels glorious.  The spring Event season is just around the corner, and we are ready to rock.


March 1, 2011 

     In like a lion, out like a lamb.  March weather is always interesting; you never know from one day to the next what you will get.  I think it is Mother Nature's way of saying don't get too comfortable.  But at least for today we have the lamb – it is a beautiful morning, sunny, with a high near fifty predicted.  If you look closely you can see the grass starting to turn a little green, and yesterday I saw the tip of a daffodil bud peeking out of the ground.  The best thing is getting to ride out across the fields again; even if the footing is too wet to do anything more than a walk, it still makes a nice change from the indoor arena.  What a wonderful time of year, with winter almost over and the whole of spring ahead of us, waiting to be enjoyed.


February 17, 2011

Dare we hope that spring is here?  I know it is only mid-February, and a year ago we had three feet of snow on the ground about this time, but with the temperatures in the sixties this week, it certainly feels like the worst is over.  Oh, sure, I know we will have some more cold days and nights, but my prediction, for what it is worth, is that it will be warmer from here on out, and spring will come early.  Hopefully it isn’t just wishful thinking.
But really, I don’t so much mind the winter.  It is a quiet time, a sort of break from the busy hustle and bustle of the other warmer seasons.  It is a time to concentrate on bringing along the training of the young horses, and we have an exceptional group of those this year.  It is a time for waiting and looking forward, anticipating the coming spring and the Event season ahead.  I am not saying it is my favorite time of year, but every season has its joys, and I can enjoy the winter while waiting for the spring.
And in the meantime, I am ignoring the fact that they are predicting snow on Tuesday . . .


January 29, 2011
     Last winter we had ridiculous amounts of snow; around 90 inches total, and during February’s blizzards we actually shoveled 446 tons of it off the indoor arena roof.  So having had enough snow to last a decade or two, I have been widely proclaiming that we will not be having any snow this winter.  Of course I remind you that after last February’s storms we consider that anything under a foot doesn’t count!  Fortunately this week’s little flurry only brought us eleven inches, and so far we are in the clear.

     But I must admit that our little eleven inch dusting was beautiful.  It was a heavy wet snow that clung to every tree and branch, and transformed the forest into a winter wonderland.  I got the opportunity to ride out on Drifter on the morning after the storm, and it was sheer magic.  Everyone should get the chance to ride a nice horse across beautiful countryside on a silent morning after a snowfall.


January 15, 2011

     It’s been cold again, but we are all getting used to it.  I heard the other day that there was snow on the ground in 49 states.  That being said, I am holding firmly to my theory that we are not going to have any snow here this year; we had enough last winter to last several decades.  Of course, anything under a foot deep doesn’t count . . .
     Actually, though, I kind of enjoy the winter.  It is a quiet time of year, and with the shorter days there is a bit more time to relax.  Since it is a break from competition season, it is a time to concentrate on bringing along the young horses and improving the basics on the more experienced ones.  It is the season where a lot of the actual training gets done, and those long hours in the indoor arena will pay off come spring.
     We have a really super nice group of young sale horses in training at the moment.  We are concentrating on the four and five year olds, and they are progressing well and showing real promise for the future.  Some of these youngsters have exceptional talent and potential, so any of you who are looking for a future Eventing partner, you should come and see them.
     In the meantime, we have started up the Windchase Jumping Mini-clinics.  Every Sunday afternoon we have an informal jumping clinic in the indoor arena.  It is a lot of fun, and we have groups for all levels.  Follow this link if you want more info on the Windchase Mini-clinics; we would love to have you come join the fun.


January 1, 2011

Happy MMXI!
After most of December being bitter cold, it has warmed up beautifully, with temperatures in the 40s all week.  Starting the year out right.  After weeks of freezing toes and being stuck in the indoor arena, it is really great to be able to enjoy hacking out in pleasant weather.  Not that I am complaining about having an indoor arena to ride in, mind you, but I do love to ride outside.  
Reflecting on the past year, I am struck both by how fast it has flown by, and also how long it seems since the start of it.  Looking back over the Archives of my Windchase News column during 2010, I am reminded of all that happened during the year.  Each of our days is packed with joys, frustrations, expectations and exertions.  Savor each one.

     Here are my hopes for the New Year.  I want to learn something new, do something I have never done before, and go somewhere I have never been.  I hope to make new friends, spend plenty of time with old friends, see something wondrous, and surprise myself.


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