(Archive: February 23, 2002 - June 17, 2005)
Notes from Phyllis

Phyllis and Enniskerry Imp at Plantation Field.

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June 17, 2002
Another successful outing for Team NAFTA at the to Menfelt Horse Trials this past weekend!   Melissa Hunsberger again had a great go on Star Bright, finishing 4th in the Young Riders Intermediate, and Siobhain O'Connor was 6th in her Intermediate division on the talented Flying Advance.   Both put in lovely clear cross-country rounds.   Pedro Gutierrez also had an excellent day with his athletic New Zealand horse Andale, so once again Windchase represented Mexico, Canada and the USA in good form!
     I rode Clifden Castle in the Open Training, and he went really nicely, having figured out the system now, to finish 4th.   Melissa also had a fun ride in the Open Novice aboard Dunraven, to place second.   Both of these horses will be a lot of fun to compete!

Siobhain and Flying Advance

Philip on Half Magic

     One of the highlights of the weekend was watching Philip Naggar, our working student from Switzerland, ride in his first competition ever.   He rode my wonderful former Advanced Horse, Half Magic, in the Open Training, and had a terrific time.   He performed a lovely dressage test, but was a bit sticky in the Show Jumping, needing mileage.   Then he had a superb ride cross-country, and came back high as a kite!   It was really fun to see Philip ride so well and have a such a great outing; he has improved immensely since he took his first ever riding lesson last September!   Philip's enthusiasm and appreciation for the opportunities made it very much a pleasure to give him this chance to go Eventing.   And Half Magic was thrilled to be back in action, too!
     Menfelt was the final Event of the spring season for Windchase.   I love the Eventing season, going to competitions every weekend; but by the end of the season, I am always ready for a break from competing.   The upper level horses have a short holiday, and we can all take it a little bit easier for a couple of months.   I really enjoy the summer; a time to school the young horses, break in the two year olds, and enjoy being home on the farm.   There is always plenty of work to be done, but also time for some relaxation and a swim in the lake on those hot summer afternoons.   Then by mid-summer, we will be cranking back up in preparation for the autumn season!

Until next time,

June 12, 2002
It has been kind of a low key week this past week; summer is here and the Event season is winding down.   We are having a good time with all the babies! 
     Escapade had her foal last week, a lovely dark gray filly.   After having missed it the last two years when she managed to fool us and foal out in the field, Jineen was ready for her this time.   She had it on June 3, my mother Grace's birthday, so we named her Graceful Star.
     The two foals are great fun, getting teeth and learning to chew on everyone.   They are very playful, and it is always a blast to watch them play in the field. 
     We also have two awesome kittens, Smudge and Nike, just at that wonderful playful age!   We get plenty of amusement from watching them play in the tack room.   Much thanks to my friend Kathy Finkbiner for the kittens, though I admit that when I originally got her e-mail about them with the subject line 'Pussy Heaven', I thought it was from one of those porn sites and almost didn't open it!   I didn't realize it referred to the fact that her farm has dozens of cats and kittens!   The dogs are quite jealous, of course, as they have to be shut out of the tack room while the kittens are loose; I hope they are not plotting their revenge.
     We have been having a number of fun cross-country schools around the farm with the working students.   We had an especially fun one the other day.   Philip provided the highlight, when he jumped into the water jump a little too fast, and didn't turn soon enough, and ended up with both him and his horse swimming all the way across the pond!   He definitely got the award for 'Most Outrageous Ever Water Jump Attempt at Windchase'!   See the 'Working Student Photos' page for pictures of cross-country schooling around the farm.
     I finally got a good picture of Goldie! You may remember (if you have been paying attention to this column), I have a giant (18 inch) algae-eating gold fish in my lake.   He is absolutely beautiful, iridescent, he glows in the sunlight.   I have been trying to get his picture, but though I see him almost every time I ride around the lake, he is rarely in view when I have my camera in hand.   But the other day I was able to get the shot, so here it is! 


     Oh, one other really exciting thing happened this week.   I got a new truck!!!   It is absolutely beautiful.   A Dodge diesel, one-ton, dual wheel, Patriot blue.   It is the most beautiful blue I ever saw!   I have decided that I won't ever drive it, it's too pretty; I'll just park it in front of my house and look at it!   I can just sit in it in the driveway and play the CD player and run the air conditioner.   And I may have to block off the driveway so nobody can drive past and get dust on it!
Until next time,

June 3, 2002
Waredaca Horse Trials was this past weekend, and Windchase was represented in the Intermediate division by Pedro Gutierrez of Mexico, Siobhain O'Connor of Canada, and Melissa Hunsberger from the USA.   We dubbed them Team NAFTA! 
     Pedro had a great go for his first Intermediate with Andale, putting in quite a nice dressage test, and having a super go cross-country over a challenging course, to finish 9th.   This horse is a cross-country machine, he just keeps getting better and better!
     Melissa rode Star Bright in quite a competitive Young Rider division of Intermediate, and they put in a super performance in all three phases, displaying quite a partnership.   Siobhain had a great weekend with Flying Advance as well, finishing 8th despite a technical penalty coming out of the water jump. 
     I also had a wonderful time; Kilroe Bay was great in his first Preliminary, finishing 5th.   He went like an old hand, good in all phases, and quite a fun ride on the cross-country! 
     To top off the weekend, Melissa won the Training on her young up-and-coming mare Expedience.   All in all, a super weekend for team NAFTA! 
     Much thanks to our friends at Brandenburg Farm, Joerg and David, for making this weekend possible by lending me their truck to go to Waredaca in, as mine still has the rear wheels unattached!
     The bad news is, Enniskerry Imp has wrenched an ankle, nothing serious, but just enough to keep him from going to Bromont.   I am very disappointed to miss the Three-Day, but it is best not to take a chance.   The injury is very small, just bad timing.   This is one of the most frustrating things about this sport, when you put so much time and work and money and heartache into preparing for a competition, and some little thing prevents you from getting there.   Oh well, the good news is it is nothing serious, and I have a whole slew of youngsters to work on this summer!

Until next time,

May 26, 2002
The CDCTA Horse Trials were this weekend, and it became quite an interesting trip.   Disaster was narrowly averted!
     The weekend started out well on Saturday.   Kilroe Bay went very nicely in the Preliminary, and the two Novice horses, Clifden Castle and Given Wings, performed beautifully.   Melissa also took her young horse Expedience out for her first Preliminary.   We walked the cross country course, and it was lovely, we were really looking forward to riding it.
     Melissa and I set out Sunday morning with all four horses on the trailer, full of anticipation.   We were on Route 7 at about 55 miles per hour when I heard a strange high pitched roaring noise, and the next thing I knew I was fighting to control the truck and trailer and get it stopped.   The rear axle on my truck had broken, the rear dual wheels had come completely off on one side, and the back of the truck was dragging on the pavement.   When I finally wrestled the rig to a standstill and jumped out, the axle was blazing on fire, just to complete the picture.   I was shaking like a leaf!
     I called Jineen on my cell phone (which certainly paid for itself that morning!), and she came to my rescue, borrowing our friends the Mountz's truck and trailer from next door, and bringing Melissa's Dad's truck with our small trailer as well.   We then had the pleasant experience of unloading the horses on a four lane highway and transferring them to the two rescue trailers.   Once the horses were safely home, with the assistance of a helpful Loudoun County Sheriff, we hooked the Mountz's truck to my trailer to take it home, and had my poor old truck hauled off to the truck hospital, where it will either be repaired or put out of it's misery.   All in all, it was quite an exciting morning; a few more gray hairs for me!   The good news was nobody was hurt, so it could have been a lot worse.
     Needless to say, I did not ever get the two Preliminary horses to the Event to go cross-country.   By the time we got the logistics sorted out, it was too late.   But Melissa did kindly haul me over to Great Meadows with the two Novice horses, as they did not go until afternoon.   Both of them jumped really well cross-country.   Clifden seems to be figuring out the system, he was very confident and fun to ride.   Given Wings (a.k.a. Flier) was much improved from last weekend, where he didn't want to get near the first fence.   In fact, he seems to have gotten the running and jumping part down pat.   Now we need to work on the half-halting and slowing down when asked part, he wasn't quite so good at that! 

Brooks and Ivanhoe.

     Congratulations also to Brooks Lyon, who took her young horse Ivanhoe to the Full Moon Horse Trials today, where she finished 3rd.   What a long way this talented young horse has come in five months!
     Also, congratulations to Emilee Libby and Cahir, a horse she bought last autumn from Windchase.  They just won their first Preliminary together at Fair Hill!

Until next time,

May 21, 2002
We have a baby!   While I was away at Virginia Horse Trials last weekend, one of the broodmares, Fast Babe, had a lovely foal.   She was not due for another week, and we didn't really think she was close, but we had started bringing her in to the barn at night.   But she had it out in the field in the middle of the day!   I think she has been taking lessons from our other mare Escapade, who did the same thing two out of the last three years!   Anyway, she had a beautiful chestnut filly with a big white blaze.   The filly has the cutest little pointed ears that turn in at the top, like an little elf.   I think we will name her Arwen Star.

Arwen Star and her Mom.

     Virginia Horse Trials went well, Tenor Star was super in the Preliminary, jumping like a pro.   Given Wings did his first Event, and thought it was the most fun ever.   He enjoyed the attention immensely, but he was quite spooky in the beginning of the cross-country, needing to examine the first fence rather closely before jumping it.   Pedro Gutierrez of Mexico came up and rode his talented New Zealand horse Andale in the Preliminary, and he went really well.   He will go Intermediate at his next outing.   He is one of the NZ imported horses for resale, but we will aim him for Radnor if he is not sold before then.
     Also, congratulations to Mariah Evans, who was third at Menfelt on her mare Circe.   Her dressage has come along very well, and the mare is a bold jumper.   It is nice to see the two of them having such success!

Until next time,

May 15, 2002
We went to Plantation Field again last weekend.   I rode Enniskerry Imp in the Open Intermediate as his last prep before the CCI at Bromont, Canada, in June.   He was a bit tense and naughty in dressage; the fitter he gets the harder this phase is for him!   But he jumped really well, so I think we are ready for Canada.   Kilroe Bay went super in the Open Training, he is going really well now, and will be in the Preliminary next time out.   And Melissa Hunsberger had a super weekend with Star Bright, in the Preliminary.   She had an excellent cross-country ride, even though one of her stirrups came off her saddle early in the course, and she had to ride the rest of the way with one stirrup!   Bright is so happy to be back out competing again after a prolonged rest following a hock injury, and it is great to watch Melissa do such a good job with him.
     There is a pair of Canadian geese who nest by the lake here at Windchase every year, and raise their babies.   Two darling little goslings hatched this past weekend, it is always fun to watch them in the spring.   But there is a difference this year.   We also have one duck that lives on the lake, named Lucky.   He is so named because we started with about 25 ducks a number of years ago, but the foxes and other wild critters caught all of the other ducks except Lucky, so he is the only one left.   Not having any other ducks for company, over the years he has decided that he must be a goose, and he hangs out with them.   Well, this year, Lucky has decided that those baby goslings must be his.   He sat with the mother goose the entire time she sat on the eggs (about four weeks), and wouldn't let anyone else near her, including the father goose!   Now that the babies are hatched, he has adopted them; it is a great scene, the mother goose, two darling gosling fluff balls, and Lucky!   The father goose is allowed to bring up the rear, as long as he doesn't get between Lucky and the babies.

Until next time,

May 8, 2002
I rode three horses at the Difficult Run Horse Trials this past weekend.   It was really a strange sense of déjà vu, going back to Frying Pan Park, in Herndon, VA.   I spent a good deal of my childhood at Frying Pan Park, as that is where most of our 4-H and Pony Club activities were held.   I went to High School in Herndon.   But now, when I drive through the Herndon area, it is totally unrecognizable, it has been built up so much.   There are shopping malls and wall to wall houses where there used to be open fields, and you can't even believe that it is the same town; but once you turn into the driveway at Frying Pan, the Park itself looks just the same!
     I was particularly pleased with Tenor Star.   She did her first Preliminary, and was absolutely super.   She was third in dressage, clear SJ, and though I went slow cross-country, since it was her first Prelim and the footing was not very good, she jumped just perfectly.   She is going to be a lot of fun to compete, I will aim her for the Morven Park CCI in the autumn.   
     The greener horses went well in the Training and Novice as well, so it was a good educational weekend for them all.

Until next time,

April 29, 2002
A wet weekend at Loudoun!   We had lovely weather on Saturday, and I rode Tenor Star, Kilroe Bay and Clifden Castle in the Open Training; they all went quite nicely in Dressage and Show Jumping.   Unfortunately, it rained all night, and poured Sunday morning, and the organizers decided to cancel the cross-country and just place the competition as a combined test.   I was very disappointed not to get to ride the course, as it is a really good one, but I was pleased with the performance of my horses.   Kilroe Bay won his division, and Tenor Star was seventh.  They are both ready to move up to Preliminary.

Star Bright and Melissa.

     Melissa Hunsberger had a super ride on Star Bright in the Open Preliminary, to finish second.   It is so great to see him out competing again, after a year and a half lay up after his hock injury! 

Until next time,

April 26, 2002
Last weekend was the Redlands Hunt P. C. Horse Trials.   I rode the two new horses I bought in Ireland in December, both completing their first Event.   Hallo Money has a lot of experience in the Show Jumpers, but had never Evented.   He went great at Redlands, finishing fourth.   He is just learning what cross-country is all about, and he is starting to realize what fun it is!   His stable mate, Clifden Castle, has no experience competing at all, but he was a lot of fun, and I can tell he is going to be really special.
     On Saturday night, we went out on the town.   My niece Stacy Dawson, the actress/dancer from New York, was doing a show called 'Pearl River' in Washington.   A bunch of us, including Mom, myself, Stacy's parents Lad and Sandee, Jineen, Melissa and friend Nancy Mountz, all went to see it.   It was really a lot of fun, something quite different from our normal lifestyle.   We successfully negotiated Washington traffic, which was a challenge in itself.   My brother Lad, Stacy's dad, drove, and Jineen had to follow with the second carload.   As we criss-crossed back and forth through Georgetown, I think Lad managed to go through every light on the yellow, leaving Jineen with the choice of running the red or getting left behind.   She definitely decided that running the red was the lesser of two evils, and eventually we arrived at the dance studio, after following a very convoluted route.   The show was great, Stacy and her troupe were brilliant, and we had a great time, finally arriving home at almost three in the morning!   So we have all had our culture for the month!
     Off to Loudoun tomorrow with all of the Training level horses, so it should be a fun weekend.

Until next time,

April 15, 2002
Plantation Field has become one of my favorite Events.   The cross country course is marvelous, and the setting is extremely beautiful.   It takes place in Unionville, PA, right next door to Bruce Davidson's farm Chesterland, so being there brings back a lot of memories.   It is really fun to ride the cross country course over that awesome field where I used to hack, back in the late seventies!
     I took Enniskerry Imp up for the Advanced division.   I was a bit nervous, because it was only Imp's second Advanced Event, but he came through with.   He likes the dressage tests at that level, he really enjoys doing the flying changes in the canter work.   Unfortunately, he can't seem to limit himself to doing them when asked, and he likes to do them with a big buck!   He can win the dressage when he settles down and tries, but he can also be quite naughty!   This was one of his in between times, he did some very good work, but exploded a few times.   Our show jumping was rather undistinguished, but that was my fault, not Imp's.
     But cross country was awesome!   He flew around the course and never put a foot wrong.   It was one of the most fun rides I have ever had!   I couldn't have been more pleased with him.   I am no longer riding a whole string of upper level horses like I used to, but concentrating more on bringing along the youngsters that are offered for sale, but I still really love a chance to go around the big courses on a horse like Imp!

Imp at Plantation Field.

     All of our Windchase group did well.   Pedro Gutierrez had a good clean cross country go on Andale in the Preliminary, even though he first sat on the horse two days before the Event!   This horse is being offered for sale, and will move up to Intermediate soon.   I think if you asked him to, he would jump the moon!   Natalie Hollis from Water's Edge Farm had a super go on her mare Sirius in the Intermediate, making the jumps look small, so she is now qualified for Bromont CCI**.   Jean Bowman also had a terrific round on her wonderful Irish horse Mullingar in that division, and Megan Hansen went really well on Razzamatazz.   It's great fun when there is a whole group of us at the Events, much better than going by yourself, and even more fun when we all do well!

Until next time,

April 11, 2002
I just love this weather!   It is my favorite time of year.   Everything is turning green, the flowers are blooming, and the pink Weeping Cherry tree in my yard is in full bloom.   Every day, I hack around the farm and think how lucky I am to be here!  (Well, I do that every day all year round anyway, but even more so in the spring!)

     I saw Goldie the other day, for the first time this spring.   Goldie is our giant goldfish.   He lives in our pond, is about 18 inches long, and is a bright iridescent orangey gold color.   He actually sort of glows he is so bright!   We also saw an albino/appaloosa deer out in the Galloping Field this week.   I had never seen one like that, it was about 75 percent white, with spots of brown! 
     Last weekend, I took Tenor Star and Kilroe Bay to a new Event in Maryland, Weave a Dream Farm.   They both went beautifully in the Open Training, and jumped super.   They will both move up to Preliminary quite soon.
     And now it is off to Plantation Field for the Advanced with Imp this weekend!

Until next time,

March 31, 2002
I just got home from the Morven Park Horse Trials. What a fun Event!   I rode Enniskerry Imp in the CIC** division, where he went very well.   It was a beautiful weekend, we had a blast!
     Dressage was on Friday.   As it was the first outing of the season for Imp, he was a little tense, but well behaved, putting in a fairly good test with no major mistakes.   On Saturday, we had perfect weather and footing for cross country.   It was really a super course, fairly stiff, with plenty of combinations and accuracy questions.   Imp was super around the course, jumping really well.   We had a few time penalties, being the first run of the year I didn't want to push him too hard, but he really performed well.   He put in a perfect clear round today in the show jumping, finishing up 6th in the division.   Imp was then very proud of himself, showing off in the awards ceremony, and bucking and prancing all the way back to the trailer. 

Imp at Morven Park

     Other Windchase students went well, with Natalie Hollis on Sirius putting in an excellent round in the Intermediate, and Jean Bowman successfully completing her first Intermediate, in good form, on her Mullingar.
     The Easter Bunny visited this morning, Imp ate the head off of the chocolate bunny.   He really likes the candy holidays.

Until next time,

March 26, 2002
Event Season has arrived!   Middletown Horse Trials were this past weekend, and we had a great Event to kick off the season. 
     My young Irish horses went very well.   Tenor Star was second in the Open Training, finishing on a fantastic dressage score of 28.   She went like a dream the entire weekend, she definitely feels ready for Preliminary!   Kilroe Bay was excellent also, going superbly in all three phases to finish in the ribbons.
     The most exciting part of the weekend was Star Bright's return to competition.   Bright slipped the tendon off of the point of his hock about a year and a half ago, requiring surgery.   He spent all of 2001 recuperating and slowly returning to work, and Middletown was his first Event since his injury.   Melissa Hunsberger, Windchase's Assistant Trainer, rode him in the Open Preliminary division, putting in a great performance.   They tied for first in the dressage, and had a great Show Jumping and Cross Country, though incurring a few time penalties by riding conservatively to orders.   I was thrilled to see Bright returning to competition, and so was he!   Melissa did a great job with him, so it was fun all the way around.  
     Pedro Gutierrez had a great go on his Secret Notion, finishing fourth in the Open Preliminary, and Megan Hansen on Razzamatazz and Natalie Compton on Sirius also went really well.   All in all, an excellent start to the season.
     And now off to Morven Park this coming weekend with Imp!

Until next time,

March 17, 2002
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

     Spring is here!   Not that the winter was very tough this year, with it being so mild, but we are finally getting some much needed rain, and in the last few days, spring has really sprung!   The grass is turning green, the crocuses and daffodils are up, and the tree-frog peepers are out in full blast.   I love this time of year!

     I found this picture of Imp when he was still in Ireland, wearing green, decked out for St. Paddy's Day.   I thought it was appropriate!

Until next time,

March 8, 2002

Spirit of the Horse

I am Horse, gift of Creator, Wind given form.
I am not Cat, I am not Dog, I am my own Nature. 
I cannot speak your words.  If you would know me, ask me, and I shall teach you. 
Respect me.  Learn my ways, and I shall be your sharer of burdens.
Wind shall dance around us, and laugh in our hearts, when we ride.
Love me, and I will return that love many fold.
Disrespect me, and my Spirit shall leave. 
My body may serve you, but there will be no Heart.
Wind will be cold in your face when you ride. 
Do not fear me, for I am what Creator made me to be.
I can only speak to the Spirits that listen. 
I will test you, for that is my nature, 
To see that you remember my words, and know my ways.
Tell me your secrets, and I will keep them safe.
And carry them to Creator. 
I am not as long lived as you, for my fire burns brightly,
And in the fullness of time, I shall return to Creator.
If I am injured or ill beyond healing, let me go with dignity,
And my Spirit will give thanks.
Do not weep, look in your heart, I am there.
You will feel me when Wind touches your face. 
When it is your time to join Creator, I will meet you at the beginning of His land,
And my spirit will carry you to Him,
And we will run with Wind.

     ~~ Author Unknown ~~

February 23, 2002
If I had my druthers I'd go flying, WHOOO!   Yes, I got to go flying on Thursday!   Gary Spurlock, who is one of the top veterinarians in the area, is also a pilot; he called and invited me to go flying with him.   He flies a small two-seater Cessna out of Leesburg Airport.   It was quite a spur of the moment thing, but I dropped everything I was supposed to be doing and jumped at the opportunity!   We took off and went north from Leesburg to Lovettsville, then towards Purcellville.   We flew up the Between The Hills valley, and circled over Windchase.   It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon, and as we flew fairly low, I was able to take some pictures out of the window.   We followed along the Potomac River a ways, and then headed back to the airport.   It was magical!   Dr. Gary is a super pilot, the landing was like silk.   I have always loved to fly, and it is always special to get a chance to go up in a small aircraft.   In my next life, maybe I will take lessons and become a pilot: I could probably do it in this life if I did not spend all my time and money on horses!

     I have really been enjoying watching the Winter Olympics on television.   I love the ice skating and skiing; I have been staying up until midnight every night to see it all.   The one thing that I don't like though, is the way the media sometimes totally focuses on winning the gold medal, to the point that it is perceived as defeat if someone 'only' gets the silver!   Actually, I feel that everyone who is good enough to qualify for an Olympic Games deserves an enormous amount of credit, and for most of the athletes, even if they are nowhere near a medal, just participating is the experience of a lifetime.   If they are able to put in a personal best performance, then they have definitely won!   I myself will never forget the feeling in Seoul of riding around the outside of the dressage arena just before my test and looking up at the billboard and seeing: 'Phyllis Dawson, Albany II, USA' up there in lights!   And the feeling when I went through the finish flags of the cross-country course, after putting in a clean round, was definitely one of the highlights of my life.

Until next time,


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

Read about Phyllis and Jineen's latest trip to Ireland, December 2001.

Go to the Site Map to read accounts of some of Phyllis's other trips.

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