riding Little Gem
Michelle Robbins was a star on her Irish Draught mare
Little Gem; she won the BN division with a dressage score of 19.
Tara Swersie had a great go with her young horse Whiskey
Tango, finishing second. Emma
Dixon also had good rides with Stella.
Speagle successfully moved Griffin’s Echo up to Preliminary, and
Dawn Zambito had a good clear XC round in the Novice with Cobble
Boyd Martin and Quinn
It was great fun to watch Boyd Martin ride Bonnie Stedt’s
talented young ISH Quinn Himself, one of our homebreds by Brandenburg’s
was Quinn’s first Training Level event, and he went beautifully.
Jineen went to watch him as well; we had to restrain her
from stealing him back and sneaking him on to the Windchase
October 24, 2011
The Waredaca Horse Trials were held this past weekend, and I rode Drifter in the Open Preliminary on Sunday.
After competing him in the rain and the mud in our last three outings, I was really excited when the competition morning dawned clear and cool, perfect Eventing weather.
The cross-country course was lovely and the footing was excellent; a recipe for a great day.
Drifter, who can be quite grumpy at home, was in a great mood at Waredaca.
He put in a decent (though perhaps overly enthusiastic) dressage test, and show-jumped perfectly, to go into the XC well placed.
He warmed up great and came out of the starting box full of enthusiasm; we jumped the first fence at speed, setting the tone for the course, ready to go for broke and make the time.
But halfway to the second fence something went suddenly wrong; I felt Drifter’s gait change, and pulled him up – he was quite
lame . He had somehow managed to twist a shoe and step down on the clip, driving it into the sole of his foot, bringing our potentially brilliant cross-country round to an abrupt and premature end.
Damn! I had really looked forward to riding that course.
Tori and Aileron
Other Windchase horses had more successful results at Waredaca.
Tori Rosenblatt rode Aileron in the Training level Three-day Event, jumping a good clear cross-country round to finish 5th.
Heidi Wardle placed second in the Novice with the talented Organillero, finishing on their dressage score of 27, and Carrie Trimble was 5th with RambleNRoll.
Adhara went great in the Novice for Melissa, though a slip on a turn caused a technical 20.
On another note, I have recently been pressed into service as an Alien Hunter.
This autumn we started noticing these weird jelly-like blobs floating in the lake.
At first I thought they were masses of frog eggs, but as they continued to grow I realized that they must be some kind of alien being.
Googling ‘gelatinous blobs in my lake’ yielded over 449,000 results, with the majority indicating that each of these blobs are actually colonies of tens of thousands of small organisms, related to coral, called Bryozoans.
But they still look like aliens to me, so I have been launching search-and-destroy missions.
Armed with fishing nets, pitchforks and rowboats, we have been striving to eradicate them from the lake.
Never a dull moment!
October 19, 2011
Finally, we have been getting the chance to enjoy some beautiful autumn weather.
After six weeks of nearly non-stop rain, the weather has been lovely. We had perfect conditions the last two weekends at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy.
Unfortunately, having competed Drifter the previous two weekends in the rain and mud, he was not entered for Maryland where the weather was perfect!
Windchase was well represented, though.
At the recognized MD HT, our new working student Tori Rosenblatt had a great cross-country run with Aileron in the Open Training, as a final prep for the Training Three-day at Waredaca.
Chloe Brownlee went really well on her talented new mare Mistica in the BN, and Heidi Wardle had a good run with Organillero in the Novice, finishing on her dressage score of 33.
Mariah Ben-David and
Then last weekend we had ten horses at the Loch Moy Starter trials, which made for a really fun,
though long, day. The highlights included two of our really promising youngsters, Flagship Sandy and Reiver, making their Eventing debut – they both won their division, ridden by Melissa Hunsberger and Heidi Wardle.
Heidi was also second on Bridget Kroger’s talented TB-Draft cross Sir Prancelot in his first outing.
Mariah Ben-David won the Beginner Novice with her mare Caledonia.
Michelle Robbins was second with her Irish Draught mare Little Gem, and Emma Dixon was fourth with Stella.
Ballinore made his Training level debut with Melissa, jumping boldly to finish 5th.
Jineen and I managed to slip away from the farm for a day to go hiking in the Shenandoah National Park at Skyline Drive.
Though it was rainy when we left in the morning, by the time we arrived it was clearing, and the scenery was spectacular, with the autumn colors at their peak.
We hiked to Mary’s Rock and sat on an outcropping, looking down at the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Later we watched the sun set over the Shenandoah Valley.
This past weekend was the Morven Park Horse Trials, always
one of my favorite Events on the calendar.
I was over at Morven on Friday as one of the judges for the
Future Event Horse Championship, which was actually a lot of fun.
I walked the Preliminary course in the afternoon, and I was
really excited to be riding Drifter there the next day.
After raining pretty much the entire month of September,
the weather had finally cleared up, it was a lovely afternoon, and
the footing was perfect. I
went to bed Friday night full of anticipation.
When I woke up Saturday morning,
it was raining.
it was forty degrees.
getting thoroughly soggy doing dressage, I almost didn’t go to
jump. But Drifter had
done a nice test, and I thought oh well, it will be too wet to go
cross-country, but at least the Show Jumping is in a sand arena,
so I might as well go give it a go.
When I went down to the arena the wind was blowing the rain
sideways, thoroughly miserable.
But Drifter jumped great, and never came close to touching
a fence. Unfortunately
my foot hit the standard on the narrow fence and knocked it down,
but that was my error, not Drifter’s.
actually stopped raining for a few minutes about the time I
finished jumping, and someone said the footing was holding up
well, so I decided to go XC after all.
Of course the rain started again as I got to the start box,
but by then I was committed. Setting
out on course I thought the footing really wasn’t all that
great, but Drifter handled it well and jumped a good clear round -
though with the deep going and slippery footing I went fairly
slowly and had some time penalties.
But Drifter and I both had fun, which after all, was the
Sunday, Melissa was rode two of the good young horses, Ballinore
and Adhara, in the Novice.
both horses went great, and Ballinore actually ended up winning
the Open Novice division. Also
in the Novice, Ashlynn Riefenrath rode Cobble Creek to a good
clear XC round, and Megan Delgado-Mitchell had an excellent go
with her feisty Quarter Horse mare Miss King of Kings.
was raining today . . .
Is it ever
going to stop raining? This has been the wettest September I
can remember. In fact,
it has been just about the wettest month I can remember!
Literally, I don’t think there has hardly been a day this
month when it has not rained.
We went to
the Middleburg Horse Trials this past weekend.
It rained. Walking
the course on Friday (in the pouring rain), I seriously doubted I
would jump my horse, but on Saturday it stopped raining for a
while and the sun actually came out briefly.
Though the ground was wet and slick, it held up better than
I had expected for show jumping, so I came back Sunday morning for
cross-country. It was
raining, of course. But
not too hard, so we all gave it a go.
Drifter went great in the Open Preliminary; I went fairly
slow because of the wet footing but still finished 9th
out of a large division of around 35.
The star of the day was our
working student Ashlynn Riefenrath, who completed her first
Intermediate with her little mare Arden. Ashlynn rode great
and Arden went like a champ, and they jumped around XC in great
style to finish 10th.
I am very proud of them both!
Melissa rode Castano in his first recognized Novice, where
he also went well with a clear cross-country round, and Jeff
Speagle had a good ride on Griffin in the Training.
Here is the current
Today – Cloudy with showers, thunderstorms likely.
Tomorrow - Partly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms.
Friday - Partly sunny with chance of rain.
much the same forecast it has been all month!
By the way, it is pouring rain as I write this . . .
September 21, 2011
I had a nice trip down to Atlanta, Georgia for the American
Eventing Championships earlier this month.
Heidi Wardle qualified in the Novice on Kilronan Farm’s
Irish Draught mare Little Gem, and owners Larry and Michelle
Robbins were nice enough to fly me down for the competition.
It was the first time I had been to this lovely facility or
to the AECs, and it really was an amazing competition.
Little Gem performed well and we all had a lot of fun.
has arrived. I love
the cooler temperatures, and the leaves are just starting to show
a hint of their fall colors. The
horses are feeling fresh and we have good competitions coming up
just about every weekend through September and October.
We have had an inordinate amount of rain over the last
three weeks and I would welcome a bit more sunshine, but I love
this time of year and so I am not complaining.
Last Sunday Jineen and I were
given tickets to go see the Redskins play at FedEx field, and we
had a blast. It was a
very close and exciting game and the ‘Skins barely managed to
pull off the win - let’s hope they can keep it up!
September 7, 2011
It’s September already; hard to believe.
Windchase’s Event season got off
to a good start, with Heidi Wardle winning the Open Novice at
Loudoun Horse Trials riding Michelle and Larry Robbins’ good
Irish Draught mare Little Gem.
Our summer working student from Bulgaria, Veronika Iskarov,
placed 4th with Organillero de la Galerna.
Veronika Iskarov riding Organillero
last weekend, Drifter and I went to Seneca Valley.
Drifter was very happy to be competing again; he can be
quite grumpy at home, but loves to go to the Events.
He ran well and jumped great, to finish 6th in
the Open Preliminary.
Melissa had a nice ride on the
promising youngster Ballinore to place 6th in the
Novice, and Heidi Wardle was 5th in the BN on Castano.
Look for these excellent youngsters on the Horse
for Sale page.
Ashlynn Riefenrath had a great run
on her clever little mare Arden to finish 2nd in the
Preliminary Rider division. Also,
our working student from Texas, Megan Mitchell, had a successful
Novice debut on her Quarter Horse mare, Miss King of Kings.
Riding with little Phyllis and Lilly
have had a great visit the past week from my niece Stacy and her
daughter little Phyllis. Though
only six, Phyllis is already showing great ability in the saddle,
and we enjoyed many long trail rides together.
Great thanks to Mary Hallisy for the loan of her kind mare
Lilly, making this possible.
Earthquakes, Hurricanes – what’s next, maybe a volcano?
was rather famously hit with a 5.9 earthquake this past Tuesday;
apparently it was a big news item, but it seemed pretty unexciting
from our viewpoint. I
was riding and didn’t feel a thing, but Jineen was sitting in
the gazebo teaching and noticed it shaking; she wondered if the
plane flying over had caused it.
The working students in the tack room thought it was just
Drifter kicking his stall walls again.
On the whole we were surprised the press made such a big
deal of it; must have been a slow news day.
Hurricane Irene looks like a different matter.
According to the Weather Channel she is 430 miles wide, and
although there are various different models tracking where the
storm might go, all of them show her passing close to Windchase.
So we will be battening down the hatches and preparing for
high winds and torrential rains.
It doesn’t look to good for the horses that are supposed
to run at the Loudoun Horse Trials on Sunday!
When you are away on vacation for a couple of weeks, it
always seems to take forever to get caught up again and get
everything on track. Melissa
did a super job of keeping the farm going while Jineen and I were
away, but I am still catching up on the paperwork! (This is
my flimsy excuse for being so tardy in posting on this website.)
horses are going great, and we are having fun over the summer
schooling up the young ones. We
have sold quite a few horses this summer, which is exciting –
but even more fun is how that gives us the chance to work with the
new batch of up-and-coming youngsters. And
we have a really exciting group of those! I
was schooling in the arena this morning and watching my staff
riding the three and four year olds, and I was really struck by
the outstanding quality of the homebreds and horses in training.
There is nothing better in this life than riding good
horses. (Wow, that was
profound – I may have to use that in the Windchase Quotes
few of our horses went to Waredaca last weekend; Melissa rode the
talented NZ horse Hendrix to 6th place in the Open
Preliminary, and reported he was just a cross-country machine.
Heidi had a good run with Little Gem in preparation for the
AECs, finishing 3rd in the Open Novice, and she also
competed Mistica in her first recognized event, placing 5th
in the BN. Melissa
also had a good BN run with Castano for his first sanctioned
we are enjoying life at Windchase and preparing for the autumn
Event season. August
has been a lot cooler than July, and we are finally getting some
much needed rain. And
I can’t wait for those September competitions!
July 29, 2011
fabulous, and Jineen and I had a super trip - in fact, we wished
we could stay another month! We
spent the first two weeks at two different lodges in the Limpopo
Valley, the Tuli Lodge and the Mashatu Tented Camp, where we went
out on driving safari each day in Landrovers.
The second week we had the unique privilege of getting to
experience Africa from horseback, with Limpopo Valley Horse
Safaris. It was a
mobile safari; we rode 6 to 8 hours per day, camping in a
different spot each night. We
were able to explore places where no vehicles can go, and to get
closer to some animals than you could any other way.
We slept in the open some nights, and could hear the lions
calling less than 100 meters from our beds.
It was an amazing trip - we made new friends and collected
memories to last a lifetime.
I took thousands of photos!
When I get time, I will write up a much more detailed
journal of the trip and post it on this website with photos –
but as always after being away, I have a million things to catch
up on, so it will take me a while to get it done.
to the Windchase barn staff and working students, headed up by
trainer Melissa Hunsberger, for taking good care of the farm while
Jineen and I were away. They
did a great job, and everything was in good shape when we came
July 8, 2011
Jineen and I
are off to the airport in an hour, for the coolest vacation ever.
We are going on a horseback safari in Botswana.
We have been looking forward to this trip all year, and are
really excited to be going. On
hearing about the trip, my cousin’s advice was, “Don’t feed
July 4, 2011
I think I am
always happiest when things are the busiest, so if that is true
then the month of June has been sheer bliss.
three busy competition weekends in a row, Windchase hosted an
Assessment (testing) for the USEA’s Instructor Certification
Program. As I was also
one of the Assessors, it made for a hectic week.
It was great to work with Jim Graham and Sue Hershey, and
we saw some very talented Instructors during the course of the
testing. Much thanks
to Windchase’s students and friends who participated as
it was time for the 2011 Dawson Family Reunion. My
mother and I, accompanied by Jineen (who is an honorary Dawson),
headed down to Lynchburg where my brother George was hosting this
year’s party. We had
a super time, with great food, excellent music, fun and games, and
photo opportunities for the family to get a portrait done with
Gramma Grace. I am
very lucky to be part of a large and close-knit family, and it is
really great when we all get together each summer.
Heather, Lilly, Chipper and Gracie.
My niece Heather and her kids Gracie and Chipper spent the
following week with us. It
was super to get to spend time with them, and amazing to see how
much the kids have grown. They
both like to ride, so many hours were spent on lead-line trail
mother’s little yellow cat Goldie delivered four darling kittens
at the beginning of June, and they are the most fun.
I am absolutely a sucker for kittens and puppies, and
Goldie’s litter is a source of endless delight.
They are four weeks old now and just beginning to romp and
Saturday we took a bunch of young horses over to Sharon White’s
Last Frontier Farm for the Jumping Derby.
The classes were a combination of show jumping and
cross-country, with the entry fees going to help fund Sharon’s
trip to Burghley this autumn.
The atmosphere was informal and educational, and a very
vocal cheering section of kids and spectators wearing Sharon’s
trademark orange helped ensure that everyone had a lot of fun.
Emma Dixon and Stella
Emma Dixon won
the Baby Novice class with her excellent mare Stella.
Daniela Theurel, from Mexico, had a great go on
Windchase’s young mare Adhara, and our new working student from
Bulgaria, Veronika Iskarov, had a successful ride on Organillero
de la Galerna, owned by Pedro Gutierrez.
Heidi Wardle did a great job with several of our
youngsters, Mistica and Keep on Dancing.
On a very sad
note, we were sorry to say goodbye to Charles Hutchings’s lovely
Irish mare Shamrock. She
was a generous and talented horse who helped teach many of
Windchase’s working students.
Sadly she was lost in a pasture accident last week, and we
will all miss her.
We ended up
the spring Event season at Seneca Valley this past weekend, with
most of the horses going great, and a few of them putting in less
than stellar performances. The
training of young horses is always interesting, and some of them
are a work in progress. It
reminds me of something I saw on the internet the other day:
Rules of Eventing:
Leave together and come back together
Don't scare the spectators
No crying in Eventing (unless it’s with sheer joy in
Nobody cares on Monday
Two of the youngsters making their Recognized Event debut
at BN were stars, with Willmore placing 5th with
Ashlynn Riefenrath and Ballinore ending up 9th with
Melissa Hunsberger. Both
of them went great, and will go Novice next time out.
Melissa also had a good go with Hendrix in the Preliminary,
placing 8th. Look
for them on the horses for sale page.
Windchase always has its own special magic, and every day
brings splendid beauty. Out
hacking the other day I saw a red fox, two mother deer with
newborn fawns, and a turkey hen with about 30 tiny chicks.
Later, standing by the lake, I watched an osprey dive and
catch a fish. An
evening storm blew up with a brief and windy downpour, followed by
a brilliant rainbow; living at Windchase is better than any pot of
gold at the end of it.
is always one of the best organized Events on the circuit, and
their Horse Trials last weekend was no exception.
But after all of the wet weather and deep footing we have
had this spring, it came as somewhat of a shock to run on
rock-hard footing. I
had a nice run with Drifter in the Preliminary to place 8th.
Jeff Speagle also had a good Prelim round with
Wardle placed third with Larry and Michelle Robbins’ mare Little
Gem in the Training division, and Karen Eichert was fifth in the
BN with Lochcarron. My
homebred mare Adhara moved up to Novice with Melissa Hunsberger
and went great, placing third.
It was with mixed feelings that I said goodbye to my two
fancy up-and-coming homebreds Starbourne and Polaris.
I will miss riding these two talented youngsters, but I am
thrilled that they have both gone to Boyd Martin’s stable.
One of Boyd’s students has acquired Polaris to hopefully
take her to the four-star level in the future, and Starbourne, now
renamed Quinn Himself, will be for Boyd to ride.
Boyd Martin and Quinn
Boyd had seen Starbourne a few weeks
ago and been very interested in trying to put together a syndicate
to buy him. But then
he had his tragic barn fire.
A few days later one of Boyd’s supporters, Bonnie Stedt,
contacted me and arranged to buy Starbourne for Boyd.
Wanting to lift Boyd’s spirits, she kept the purchase a
secret, until I delivered him to Boyd on Sunday at Waredaca.
Boyd came by my trailer, still
completely in the dark, and I took
the horse off the trailer and handed the lead rope to Boyd, and
is a present from Bonnie." It was a great moment!
Later Boyd said that the moment he received the horse was a
turning point for him emotionally in recovering from the tragedy
of the fire.
Grace blowing out her
Birthday Candles with friends.
We celebrated my
mother Grace’s 91st
birthday on June 3 with and old fashioned potluck party and
cookout on the lawn. It
was great to get together with friends, some of whom we see often
and some we haven’t seen in years.
And then yesterday, mom’s little yellow cat, Goldie,
presented her with four kittens!
Spring seems to have sprung, and summer weather has
arrived, with temperatures in the high nineties this week.
Our busy season continues, with the older horses competing
well and the youngsters getting valuable experience.
Windchase working student Ashlynn
Riefenrath had a great run with her athletic little TB mare Arden
in the CCI* at the Virginia Horse Trials, finishing 7th
in the Young Rider division. Dana
Bivens also had a good ride with Happy Go Lucky, jumping clear
around the cross country. Dana
is returning to school, so we will miss her here at Windchase.
Ashlynn Riefenath and Arden, on their final gallop before
the Virginia Three Day.
young horses have continued to progress well at Elysian Hills,
with Mistica winning in the BN division with Dana, and Melissa
riding Ballinore to second place in the Elementary for his first
competition outing. Check
them out on the Horses for Sale
On a much sadder note, our hearts go out to Boyd Martin and
all of his crew up at True Prospect Farm in PA.
As you may have heard, his barn burned down early Tuesday
morning, and some really nice horses were lost.
I thank my lucky stars every day that when our barn burned
in 2008 no horses or people were injured.
Check the Eventing
Nation website for details on how to help Boyd and his