October 20, 2015
Between travel and Events, this has been a hectic
month. I recently went to The Netherlands for the Boekelo
CCI*** on behalf of the USEA Selection Committee; it was
really interesting to return, 30 years after competing
there in 1985! The
US team was second in the Nations Cup team competition, so
it was a successful trip. Two days after getting home it
was time to go to Fair Hill International; now I am glad
to be back home for a while!
by Windchase, at Fair Hill International with Sara
Things have been going well on the competition
front. Cindy rode Windchase Phoenix Star at the Maryland
Horse Trials, placing 4th in the Open
Intermediate, and she was also 8th at that
level with her own Two Tickets. (I was sorry to have
missed seeing these horses run, but I was at Boekelo at
last weekend at the MD starter trial, Cindy won the BN
with Aries. In the Training, Cindy was 5th with
Gunner, and Tori Miller placed 6th with Reiver.
Rachel was 5th in the Novice with Finders
Keepers, and Regan Hoffman rode Accolade LSF to 6th
place in his Eventing debut in the Elementary.
are enjoying the glorious autumn weather as we watch the
trees change color, with cool crisp mornings and warm
sunny afternoons. How lucky we are to get spend our days
riding over the beautiful fields of Windchase.
It was a wet miserable weekend at Morven Park, with
over 8 inches of rain falling over the course of the week.
Unfortunately the Horse Trials divisions had the
cross-country cancelled due to the weather, but our horse
went very well in the resulting combined test.
Cindy was 2nd in the Open Intermediate
with Windchase Phoenix Star, and Rachel won the
Preliminary Rider with Starstruck.
A good performance for both of these Windchase
was way to rainy to take any photos at Morven, so I will
leave you with this image from our Africa trip instead!
Autumn is here, one of my favorite times of the
mornings are cool and crisp, and the trees are starting to
show splashes of red, orange and gold.
The horses are feeling fresh and frisky, and also
starting to grow their winter coats.
Windchase Phoenix Star
Our homebred Irish horse, Windchase Phoenix Star,
did his first CIC** at Plantation Field last weekend, with
Cindy Anderson-Blank in the irons.
The cross-country course was quite demanding, and
we were thrilled with how Phoenix jumped around it – he
is just seven, and has a bright future.
Rachel on Starstruck at Plantation Field
Rachel Nymeyer also had a great go in the CIC*, on
another Windchase homebred, Lesley Erdmann’s talented
and Starstruck put in a personal best performance
together, and it was fun to watch.
Cindy and Windchase Phoenix Star had a great run
today in the Intermediate at Seneca Valley.
It was Phoenix’s first Intermediate, and he
stepped up to the plate with a super go, jumping clear
both XC and SJ to finish 7th.
Cindy rode great, and I am very proud of both of
forgot to take my camera to Seneca today so no photos of
Phoenix and Cindy, so instead I am putting up another
Africa picture. After dozens of photos of bare twigs that
a lilac-breasted roller bird had just vacated, I finally
got this shot of a roller flying.
Summer is almost over and we are really gearing up
for the autumn Event season.
Cindy will be campaigning Windchase Phoenix Star
and her own Two Tickets at the two-star level.
Congratulations to Sue Martin on the purchase of
Windchase Aquilla; we will miss Aquilla, but look forward
to watching his career progress with Robin Walker in the
saddle. And in
the meantime, Cindy will be riding his little brother,
Windchase Starry Skies, who looks to be every bit as good,
and who knows, maybe even better!
Still working on my masses of photos from Africa;
here is a little preview.
We heard some very sad news today.
our recent trip to Africa, Jineen and I, along with a
group of friends and family members, visited Hwange
National Park in Zimbabwe.
We just learned today that one of our guides there,
Quinn Swales, was fatally mauled by a lion on Saturday.
It turned out to be the very same lion, Nxaha that
had chased one of our safari vehicles, and had a
reputation for being aggressive.
The lion charged Quinn when he was leading a group
on a safari walk, and he placed himself between his guests
and the lion, successfully protecting them but paying the
ultimate price. I
can’t imagine what it would have been like to witness
such a thing. We are very saddened by this news, and
extend out condolences and best wishes to Quinn’s family
and the staff at Camp Hwange.
I am still trying to get caught up on business
after my fabulous trip to Africa.
I am not ready for the safari to be over; I wish I
could turn back time for a month and go do it all again. Usually
by the end of a vacation I am ready to come home, but this
time I wanted to stay on safari for another month! Really,
I am already trying to figure out how and when I can go
back. But in
the meantime, I am happily beginning to sort through the
thousands of photos I took.
We went to Waredaca Horse Trials last weekend.
Tori Miller placed 2nd in the Novice
with her lovely new thoroughbred, Like Magic, and Morgan
McGrath was well placed with both of her Arabians.
Cindy rode Windchase Phoenix Star in the
Preliminary as a tune-up for moving up to Intermediate
this autumn. He
did a fabulous dressage test and show jumped great, but
the ground was as hard as a rock so we did not run him
was disappointed that Waredaca had not done a better job
of aerating the course; it is usually a super event but in
this case I did not feel that the footing on course was
Jineen and I just returned
from a fantastic safari in Africa. Along with several
other friends and family members, we spent six days in
Zimbabwe, visiting Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park
and Imbabala Lodge. Then
we crossed into northern Botswana, where we did a ten day
mobile camping trip with Letaka Safaris through Chobe
National Park, the Khwai Community Area, and Moremi Game
Reserve in the Okavango Delta.
It was an absolutely amazing trip, just magical.
We got within a few feet of lions, leopards and
elephants. We saw hundreds of stunning exotic birds. We
watched zebras and giraffes at close quarters, and joined
a pack of African wild dogs on a hunt.
We heard lions calling and hippos laughing in the
night, and hyenas walked within a yard of our tent. We
had elephants wandering through our camp during the day,
and monkeys raiding our tents.
It is impossible to explain to someone who has not
been to Africa what the experience is like; it is life
I took a million photos, which I am still sorting
through downloading, while trying to play catch-up on
business matters. I
plan to write up a full detailed report of the trip with
photos for this column, but this is a busy time of year
and it will take me quite a while to get it finished.
But in the meantime, I will be posting a few
photos, both here and on Facebook, so look out for them.
Jineen and I, along with several friends and family
members, head to Africa this Sunday for a two-week safari
in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
We fly to Johannesburg, then on to Victoria Falls.
We will first stay at several small lodges in
Zimbabwe, and then go on a ten day mobile camping safari
in Botswana in Chobe and the Okavango Delta.
I can hardly wait!
The Spring Event Season is winding down; time to
give the competition a lighter work load and concentrate
on the youngsters. We
have a super new group of prospects in; look for them soon
on the Horses for Sale page.
also have three lovely new Windstar babies on the ground!
We have had plenty of rain during June, so the
footing has remained good for plenty of cross-country
speaking of footing, we recently replaced the footing in
the indoor arena with a new mix of sand and rubber, so it
is like riding on a cloud.
We have also improved the footing in the outdoor
dressage ring; the jumping area is next.
is also a time to enjoy other aspects of life on the farm.
Though we are plenty busy at the barn, I try to
take some time for photography, swimming in the lake, and
happy hour on the patio.
I never cease to marvel at the beauty and diversity
of nature at Windchase.
June 13, 2015
Congratulations to Cindy and Windchase Aquilla, for
winning the Open Preliminary at Seneca Valley this
was second in the Preliminary Rider division on Starstruck.
Cindy also piloted Martin Vella’s Achilles around
the Prelim for his first event at this level.
A good day, all in all.
Windchase Aquilla and Cindy at
We had a good weekend at Waredaca.
Cindy was 6th with Two Tickets in the
Intermediate, with Windchase Aquilla in the Open
Preliminary, and also with Windchase Kilcooley in the
Novice – apparently she has a thing for green ribbons.
All of the Windchase
riders went well. Tori
Miller was 3rd with her new horse Like Magic in
the BN, and also in the ribbons with Nicola Hasling’s
Reiver in the Novice.
Pedro Gutierrez placed with his TB mare Mizz Indy
Cat at Novice, and Morgan McGrath was 2nd in BN
on her Arabian, Massada Wahhab.
Starstruck winning the Preliminary!
But the real star of the weekend was Rachel
Nymeyer, who won the Preliminary Rider with Leslie
These two have formed a super partnership, and we
are very proud of them!
May 27, 2015
Virginia Horse Trials is always one of my favorite
Events, and last weekend Cindy Anderson-Blank rode my
homebred Windchase Phoenix Star in the CCI*.
They went really well in all three phases, putting
in a good dressage test, jumping around the cross-country
like it was child’s play, and putting in one of just
five double-clear show jumping rounds to finish 9th
out of 40 starters. Congratulations
to both of them!
Windchase Phoenix Star at the Virginia Horse
I have recently been quite remiss in updating this
page, as I have been reminded by way of admonishment from
several old friends and Windchase alumni. The excuse that
I have been extremely busy is glaringly insufficient.
I shall endeavor to do better.
competition horses have been going well for Cindy. Our
homebreds Windchase Phoenix Star and Windchase Aquilla
have been doing really well at Preliminary, and Martin
Vella’s Thoroughbred Achilles has been very competitive
in the Training. Cindy
successfully moved up to Intermediate with Two Tickets at
Fair Hill. Rachel
Nymeyer had a really super Preliminary debut with
Starstruck; this pair has formed a great partnership.
We have a really nice group of young sale horses
available, and we have been extremely busy showing them
for sale. Contact
us if you need help selling your horse; we have been very
successful at matching sales horses to new riders.
We also have some spots available for horses in
training this summer, so contact me if your horse needs
have a new baby at Windchase; the thoroughbred mare Mah
had a lovely filly by Brandenburg’s Windstar last
foal appears to be bay now, but hard to tell if she will
turn grey. It
is always so much fun to watch the foals frolic in the
paddock and dream about what their future holds.
April 16, 2015
Event season is in full swing, and things have been
busy at Windchase. After
all our hard work in the indoor arena this winter, it’s
great to finally get the horses out competing and see if
it paid off.
Anderson-Blank had good rides with Windchase Phoenix Star
and her own Two Tickets in the Preliminary at Morven Park
a few weeks ago; being short on gallops because of the
harsh winter she took them slow on cross-country but they
both jumped great.
last weekend Cindy rode five at Loch Moy, and they all (or
almost all) went really well.
She placed 3rd with Martin Vella’s
Achilles in the Training, and 3rd with
Kilcooley in the Novice.
Raven and Windchase Starry Skies both did their
first ever competition in the BN; Raven won, and Starry
put on a bit of a rodeo show to make it more exciting.
Windchase working student Ali Redling also had a
good go in the Novice on her own Brego.
This past weekend, Cindy
rode Windchase Aquilla and Windchase Phoenix Star in the
Preliminary at Fair Hill, and Two Tickets in the CIC*.
My two Irish homebred greys were a little naughty
in warmup, but all three horses came through with great
performances in all phases.
The highlight was Windchase Aquilla placing 4th
in his first outing of the year.
This is my favorite time of year, and not just
because of Event season.
After the long cold winter, the renewal and rebirth
of spring is wonderful.
And now to be riding again after being out of the
saddle for months with a bum knee makes it especially
never take for granted the beauty of Windchase.
I had a particularly lovely ride the other evening
on my Irish horse, Kilcooley.
First we hacked out through the ‘Galloping
Field,’ where a thick green carpet of new spring grass
surrounds the cross-country jumps, and the Blue Ridge
Mountain stands watch in the background.
A dozen deer bounded across the field, and a hawk
soared overhead. I
reflected that this is probably my favorite spot on all
Kilcooley and I took the short path through the
woods, watching blue jays flitting through the trees, and
admiring the dipping, swooping flight of a pileated
came out in the ‘XC Hayfield,’ and Kilcooley was an
eager as I to have a canter.
I decided this was probably my second favorite
place on the planet.
Taking the short path
through the woods and across the second hay field, I took
a good hold of the reins to avoid Kilcooley spooking at
the wild turkeys crossing in front of us.
The trees were budding out in a myriad of color;
Robert Frost may maintain that Nature’s first green is
gold, but the edge of the forest was a palette of reds,
oranges and magentas as well as gold and pale green, like
a delicate preview of autumn foliage.
went down a lane through the woods on to the neighboring
property, following it back to the old Abel Cemetery.
The way was carpeted with periwinkle and a million
tiny white flowers. The
small rectangular cemetery is deep in the woods, the last
remnants of a long-forgotten homestead. Clumps
of old-fashioned triple-centered daffodils grow all around
it, probably planted there by some farmer’s wife
centuries before. The
grave markers, surrounded by a beautiful stone wall, date
back to the late
1700s. I like
to imagine the family who would have lived in the house
and farmed the land, and what their life was like.
The little cemetery in the woods is all that
remains to show they once lived here.
Heading back, we went
along the creek trail.
A red-winged blackbird called from a perch high in
a tree. A
great blue heron flew across the meadow, slightly
reminiscent of a pterodactyl in his flight.
As we neared the lake, triple-centered daffodils,
transplanted from the Abel cemetery, lined the creek. The
lake bank was strewn with purple and white violets.
We dodged a nesting pair of Canadian geese that had
staked out their territory along the edge of the lake, and
watched as several wood ducks and wild mallards flew in
for the evening to share in the corn I put out for the
As I passed the water jump, to my delight I saw 12
big goldfish! Around
a foot and a half in length, they vary in hue from pale
gold to bright orange to purple and white.
It was the first time this spring I had seen the
koi, and I was happy to see that they had survived the
Kilcooley and I stood on
the edge of the lawn looking out on the lake.
The white bark of the giant sycamore and the
greens, purples and golds of the budding trees were
reflected in the mirror surface.
A kingfisher swooped over the water, and then lit
on a high branch in the sycamore.
I thought to myself, maybe I was wrong before.
is my favorite place on the earth.
March 26, 2015
Mother Nature keeps giving us a few warm days here
and there - just enough to keep me thinking Spring has
finally arrived – only for it to turn cold, wet and
windy again. The
grass has yet to start to grow, but I do have a few
crocuses blooming in my yard.
Hopefully soon these brief glimpses of Spring will
turn into the real thing.
But cold weather aside, seven weeks after my knee
replacement surgery, at last I am able to start riding
again - though on a limited (and careful) basis. I
hadn’t been able to ride for two months before the
surgery, so after almost four months out of the saddle,
boy does it feel good to be back on a horse again!