Q: In our last glimpse of you in your magazine story, you’d put in a winning November catch-ride at the Galway Downs (California) Intermediate three-day on 1992 Olympian Jil Walton’s Andiamo. What’s happened since then?
A: First of all, I’m in Ocala, Florida, based out of the barn of Peter Green and Denise Rath while I oversee the ground-breaking for a barn and house on a nearby property that I hope will become a winter haven for me. It’s lovely here ? perfect footing everywhere, green grass in February, and the birds are singing. On the other hand, the Advanced horse Polaris (“Jack”), with whom I completed the 2001 Blenheim PetPlan CCI*** in England, is no longer part of my operation. He’s now representing Canada with Canadian eventer Stuart Black.
Fortunately I have a very promising young horse, six-year-old Billy Bathgate, bought from English international eventer William Fox-Pitt. Billy is a horse with a big personality, still young and a bit disobedient at times but a good mover in all his gaits and very brave. On his first introduction to water a few days ago, he was quick to take it on. I’m looking forward to bringing Billy out at Training Level at our first competition together, Red Hills (Florida) Horse Trials at the beginning of March. Meanwhile I’m hoping to find an owner interested in putting a horse under me that’s going at a somewhat higher level.
Q: How have you progressed with plans to move back East into what Olympian David O’Connor calls “the frying pan” of stiffer competition?
A: It’s happening! After Billy and I complete our second horse trials, Rocking Horse Farm, at the end of March, we’re heading north. Our next competition will probably be in the Unionville, Pennsylvania area, where I’ve already made arrangements to re-locate. This is a big change and it’s a little overwhelming right now. My big challenge is to build up my business and get it going again back East. I’ve been in the sport long enough to know it’s going to take a while-especially since I’m moving to an area with such a huge pool of talent. I’m turning thirty this spring, and even if I need a few years to get going again with some good upper-level horses, I’ll still have time to frame big competitive goals. My business is also about taking on horses in training. I currently have a Maryland event horse that I’m retraining for the hunter/jumper ring; I hope to expand this aspect of my barn.
Meanwhile, the large number of top event riders in my new Eastern location is an advantage, too. Part of my plan is to tap into that huge pool of knowledge with some lessons and other input from my very accomplished neighbors.
This article first appeared in Practical Horseman magazine.