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December 5, 2011

On Vacation... At A Horse Show

Most eventers wouldn't choose to use their vacation for a trip to Wellington for a horse show, but Jennie Brannigan decided to skip down to Florida's Palm Beach International Equestrian Center to spend a week with her good friend Rachel Dwyer.

I had an interesting week down in Wellington, Fla., for my winter vacation, and I have to say that although it was a very horsey vacation, I think it was the best break I’ve yet to have.

Going to see my good friend Rachel Dwyer was long overdue, and if you’ve been following my blogs here on the fabulous ChronofHorse, you’ve heard about the life changing experience that Rachel recently went through. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I went to see her, knowing that she would be working at a jumper show there for Sharn Wordley all week, but since it was the only time I could get away, I went for it.

Needless to say, it was quite the adventure, with some of the highlights being driving a Porsche, dancing in West Palm Beach and riding (not “driving,” as I am told that is incorrect biker lingo) on the back of a Harley... And though all those things were great, getting to see one of my best friends and catch up after such a long time was the best of all.

It’s ironic that show jumping used to be Rachel’s Achilles heel, and now she’s “running the show” at Sharn’s place. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see her jump, but from the sounds of it, the difference is amazing. Even though I went down there to visit her, and most people would think it’s a bit strange for a professional rider to go to a horse show for vacation, I think I was the one who got the most out of the trip.

I spent a long time chatting with Scotty Keach about the differences between how eventers show jump and how actual show jumpers ride. And since it’s been a long time since my California jumper days, after sitting and having Scotty talk to me about different styles and technical aspects, it made me go back and look at some of my videos from events where I thought I had pretty good rounds.

My reaction: “Wow… I really, really, really need to get a whole lot better.”

It’s a shame that our eventing and jumper worlds are so separate that we rarely surround ourselves with the people who show jump so well. As Scott said, “Monkey see, monkey do.” And though I know we do three sports in one, I think it would be time well spent to get into that environment for more than a week or two.

I was lucky to receive a USEF grant last spring to ride in Wellington, but I have to say I think I would really love to, at some point in my career, re-focus on my show jumping for an extended period of time. (After I save a whole lot of money and figure out how to create more time in a year!) I left Wellington completely wired and ready to get back to competing and get better. 

It was also interesting to hear Sharn and his business partner Craig Martin, who run Wordley Martin Equestrian together, talk about footing. They’re the ones who did the footing in our new outdoor jump ring at Phillip’s, and they also have their footing in the warm-up for the main arena at WEF now. I got taken on a ride to see some of the arenas they’re doing over in grand prix village, which is literally right next to the show. It’s so interesting to hear about how they create footing and each element that goes into making it just right. It was seriously eye-opening.

Now that I’m back to Pennsylvania, I’m moving into my first-ever condo, which is in Kennett Square, and I’m excited to have former TPF employee turned Wise Equestrian manager Kelley Merrette living with me. I’m also renting rooms to Faye and Eliza Woolf so that when they’re in town to watch their amazing ponies go with Boyd and Silva, they have a home away from home. 

In other grand news, Cambalda gets back to jogging this month, while No Objection and Indie come back from their winter break. Ollie’s going great, though his new buddy Samson just sold to Sarah Delaney. She’ll be taking over the reins from me on this very talented young horse. Though I only got to compete him once, I can tell he’s going to be a good one... 

Well, for an off-season month, it’s been busy! Enjoy the pictures from my Wellington adventure. :)

Jen 

Brannigan Eventing