It was a whirlwind two weeks in Ocala last month. The weather was iffy the first week (temps in the 20’s???) and then gorgeous the second. For week 5, we had six riders with us (four horses from Clairvaux, plus two riders leasing horses down there), and for week 6, we had nine (one more horse from Clairvaux and two more riders leasing horses). It was busy, but I think everyone will agree that it was a great time with awesome results and a phenomenal learning experience.
Two of the Clairvaux horses, Milo (aka American Honey, owned by Shannon deWit) and Lucky (aka Love Affair, owned by Jennifer Smith), were newbies to the large-scale, overnight horse show. It took some time to settle in, but they both performed admirably and really shone for their riders by the time we were finished. Jenn and Shannon worked hard and between the all of us (I showed Lucky and Milo in the Baby Green Hunters each week), we put some solid show mileage on the two youngsters. Jenn and Shannon garnered some great ribbons in competitive classes along the way, too.
Kirsten, Brooke and Morgan Van Nortwick brought Al, Porter and Lucky (McDreamy) to Ocala. Their mounts have extensive experience and this was a great way to step up their game and get some intense competitive experience. Kirsten came away with Reserve Champion in the Older Children’s Hunters (out of 37!), while Brooke placed well in her Pony Equitation classes, including the Washington Pony Eq and the USEF Pony Medal (and she got some jogs and a ribbon in her extremely competitive Large Pony Hunters). Morgan ended up being Champion in the Small/Medium Children’s Pony Hunters.
Kim Campbell, and her daughter, Codie, leased horses for our time down there. Kim rode a gorgeous warmblood named Vetall in the 2’6″ Adult Hunters and Equitation. Vetall was a great mount for Kim, allowing her to work on her show ring riding (and garner some great placings). Codie leased a great pony named Mr. Bean for the Short Stirrup. Cole (as he’s known in the barn) was the perfect pony. Kind and experienced, he loped around the ring quietly every time. Codie won some great ribbons, including Champion honors in week six in the Short Stirrup Hunter.
For week six, Carolyn Campbell and Alexandra Gil joined us. They leased two wonderful horses, named Fletcher and Pumpkin. Carolyn gave jumpers a try for the first time on Fletcher and had a great time. Alexandra showed for the first time at an A-Rated show and did so with aplomb. Both riders earned some great ribbons in their classes. This was a chance to ride some different, but very experienced horses in extremely competitive company, while soaking up the atmosphere of a great show. (Awesome shopping! Great dinners out! Fantastic weather!)
For everyone, it was a “boot camp” – lots of riding, lots of showing – completely immersed in a high level of competition. I often say “a rising tide raises all boats” – going to Ocala provided a superb education for our riders and they are all ready to show off their polished skills at the next show!