We have had amazing weather here in Aiken, with consistent rain so that the footing is ideal. And, with The Vista schooling facility being irrigated, we have great conditions for training. We’ve had a chance to run a few more horse trials with the babies and the girls’ horses. Stable View really does a great job, from the footing to the rings to the courses it’s top notch. Plus, Electrik (Elvis) even got some money for winning his Training division! All three of my horses did well—aside from Elvis winning, Vulcan and Dashwood (Nora) were good in the dressage and the jumping phases and both got a ribbon. In addition, Nora won the TIP High Point. I was completely thrilled that Francesca’s Broggini’s horse, Cooley High Flyer, won his Novice division. He’s a beautiful mover, quite a good jumper, and has grown up a bit, so his jumping, galloping and steering are much better.
Madlen (Lesesne) and Melissa (Lempicki) competed at Full Gallop in the Beginner Novice on the weekend before Stable View. Madlen was able to complete her first recognized show and get over all the jumps and Melissa came in second. I’ve been lucky to have Madlen, a student of Mimi Combs who’s here for her J-Term, helping me this winter, and also 15-year-old Alissa Recapito, who’s doing school and working for me as well. Alissa was second on Bonnie After Dark in ONB.
Aiken’s so great because I could compete at Stable View Tuesday and Wednesday and have all my students compete on the weekend at Sporting Days. I was back at Sporting Days February 5th and Alissa did Training, and other than having a little blond moment in dressage, she jumped great. Madlen was hugely improved from her first show, jumped all the jumps the first time and improved her dressage by 12 points. I’m so proud of her! The Lichten sisters did their first show of the year and Katie was first on Luminati and Maddie was second on Yarrow. Both rode quite well even though there was a little dressage confusion in terms of which test they learned. There’s always something, it’s how you handle it that counts!
I rode Francesca’s young horse, Cooley High Flyer, in the Training and he won from start to finish. I’m quite proud of him. I also had the pleasure of riding the Lichten’s young horse, Kortina, in the Beginner Novice and she won her first event. We have to celebrate while we can because these things don’t happen that often. Madlen was tenth in the division.
After having a full weekend, I went to a rated dressage show on Wednesday and did a first level test with my three training horses, Elvis, Volcan and Dashwood. Elvis won and the other two tied for second. It was my first show in almost three years with JR (Inmidair) and he was fourth in First Level test 1. He was quite excited!
I had a really good jump school with Phillip in preparation for Pine Top and on the weekend competed. The three Training horses were pretty good except for poor Elvis, who was going cross-country when the train was going through the back of farm. He was so nervous—it was a huge train! What’s the likelihood of that happening? There are things you just can’t control and you have to deal with them.
Francesca ran in the Preliminary with her horse, Petit Blue Marine, and had a good learning weekend as far as making sure she could stay in rhythm and practice the details. Eventing this time of year is like spring training for baseball! The Lichten girls were great and they continue to ride well and improve every time. Their horses have come out this year stronger than ever. Katie was second and Maddie fifth in quite a competitive JYOP division. The highlight of my winter so far is that I got to do Preliminary on my good friend, JR. He put in a really nice dressage test although was quite excited for show jumping. I just let him go around cross-country conservatively because he was so excited—it’s the first time he’s run since Kentucky three years ago. JR’s such a pleasure to ride and such a great cross-country horse, we couldn’t take the smiles off our faces!
As you can tell, it’s been an exciting three weeks in Aiken. We have a couple horses at Paradise this weekend and then Pine Top Advanced. I have no major plans for JR—every day I get to ride him is a bonus, and it’s nice to see him so happy, a good reminder of why we do this.
I hope everyone had a great New Year and holiday season, I did! Tom and I enjoyed being with my family and had a blast skiing for five days. I got home on January 2nd, packed up and drove down to Aiken on the 3rd to set up, and by the evening of the 4th, Surefire south was open for business. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Adolfo and Alissa for all their packing, to Tom, his brother, Jimmy, and his friend, Carl, for loading 150 bales of hay in 20 minutes, and to MJ transport, who once again shipped all the horses beautifully. We have a great crew: Adolfo, who runs the whole barn; Alissa Ricapito, who’s here for the Aiken season with her horse; and Madlen Lesesen, who’s here for her J term from Randolph Macon and will stay until the 5th of February.
We got to Aiken and the weather was great at first but then we had three days of freezing cold. Coming from Virginia it wasn’t too bad; there were snowflakes in the sky but they didn’t touch the ground. Since I didn’t go to Wellington this year, I’d entered the event at Stable View, which is quite early, and I had to get ready to compete! In Aiken, we’re lucky because we have The Vista, where we can cross-country school, gallop, and do dressage or show jumping. The whole facility is irrigated and run really professionally, allowing our horses be up and ready to run.
I ran Volcan, Dashwood (Nora) and Francesca’s, Cooley High Flyer, at Stable View, Dashwood and Volcan in the Training and Cooley in the the Novice. All of them were quite good. Volcan ended second, and I think he’s almost ready for Preliminary. Other than a steering mishap on cross-country with Cooley, when I couldn’t turn, everything else was great.
Inmidair (JR) is galloping five miles and starting to jump and I’ve entered him at Pine Top in the Preliminary. Who knows what’s going to happen, I’m taking it day by day, but I’m certainly having a lot of fun riding him! Urrem (Rem) is feeling well and is enjoying the Aiken (mostly) sunshine. In my 14 years of coming down here it’s never been this warm or this nice. The girls and Francesca compete this weekend at Full Gallop, and my horses will do Stable View Tuesday and Wednesday.
It was great to see Phillip on the weekend and get some great help from him. We’re all thinking about Phillip, Evie, Leelee, Olivia, Mary and Richie, praying for them and hoping we can help them stay strong.
I’ve also had a couple lessons with Boyd and I really enjoyed his attention to detail. He reminded me about being precise in my position, and to make sure I ride all sides of the horse.
My goal this year is to concentrate on what I do well and not sweat the small stuff—I’ll let you know how it’s going!
Because we have such a great team of people—including every last volunteer—that help put the whole thing on, our Fall Horse trials once again ran really well. We were able to make our footing on cross-country work out in spite of our drought—I felt it was some of the best footing around all year—thanks to my partner, Tom Finnen’s, countless hours on the aggravator.
It always amazes me what a great team we have, so efficient that the Monday before, you wouldn’t know an event was about to happen, and the Monday after, you wouldn’t know it had happened! By Sunday night, every single flag, flower, ring, rope, tent and sign is down and put away.
Christy Stauffer and her partner in crime, Lisa Welch, assemble the A-team of people that surround us and help out. I feel truly blessed to be part of the horse trials because of the amazing group of people I get to work with.
I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, huge thanks to:
My parents, Dick and Jo
Robin Schaefer & her daughter, Sarah
George Kinglsey and parking crew
Our judges Valerie Vizcarrondo, Cathy Tucker Slaterbeck, Eileen Pritchard Bryan, Helen Brettell & Sara Leary
Kathy White—show jump judge
Tremaine Cooper course design
Trav Schick, Josh Sylce & Tom Finnen—course builders
Dr. Susan Johns and Dr. Jena Porto—veterinarians
Michele Sargent, Sarah Griffith & Joel Sauer—EMTs
Dale Yeager show jump set-up
Kendall Church and Pat Palmer—scoring
Ann Welch-setup, scoring
Bill and Susan Watson—cross-country start and timer
Kelly and Emma Wick
THANK YOU to our loyal and generous corporate sponsors—we could not put on the quality event we do without your help!
Landmark's Young Event Horse
Dick and Jo Byyny
The Dines Family
The EMO Agency
Walsh's VIP Auto Service
The Lichten Family
Southern Equine Service
Top Rail Tack
The Tack Box
Virginia Equine Imaging
Sue Smith, Sold by Sue
Tremaine Cooper Cross-Country Designs
Skyland Farm, Denise and Roy Perry
Akre Capital Management
Marlene Lyons & Tom Shreve
Little River Construction, Tom Shreve
Tribute & CFC
Mike's Subs Purcellville
Allison Springer Eventing
Carlyle & Anderson
Lynn Symansky Equestrian
Phillip Dutton Eventing
Journeyman Saddlers, Ltd.
Claire, Terri & Sean O'Connor
Broadstone Equine Insurance
Once again we were able to make a donation to The Stroke Comeback Center, and I was so pleased and proud to be able to help out such a great organization. Here’s a link to a story about my relationship with the Center, published in Middleburg Life, http://www.middleburglife.com/news/2016/10/23/eventer-jan-byyny-gives-back-to-stroke-comeback-center.
I had a blast riding Urrem at Plantation and was quite happy with her dressage, though she’s still not quite on my aids enough to show the quality and relaxation she's capable of throughout the walk in the test. To be honest, her trot and canter were the most relaxed she’s been. She was great in the show jumping, easy and rideable. I might have been able to help her a little more to the triple combination—I was a bit deep into it— but Rem didn’t care, and was still able to jump in her amazing form. I decided before Plantation that I wanted to use it as a fitness run, as would be last before Fair Hill. I wanted to use the great terrain they have there to help, and she was very fast and handled the terrain well. Rem amazes me every time I ride her because she’s so smart, careful and she loves the sport.
Unfortunately, Plantation suffered from the drought we all felt. The footing left a lot to be desired, although hats off to the crew who did the best they could. When I got off the course, I realized Rem had grabbed the outside of her hoof on the coronet band quite badly. After her adrenaline had worn off, it was clear it was painful for her.
Something came not-quite-right with Rem after Plantation, and it wasn’t just a grab. Even though she was sound she didn’t seem herself, and it turned out two weeks later, when I had her tendon ultrasounded, that she had a small tear. My only thought was that the grass must have caused her to compensate and change the way she was traveling at the gallop, stressing something and hurting her tendon.
I’m thankful that I had the vet ultrasound Rem so I didn’t run at Fair Hill, but gutted all the same. She doesn’t get why we’re not doing anything with her and she’s bored. But, she’ll be back mid-spring, and this time will let me really work on her flatwork. It’s not the most fun for me, but it’s how we all get better to the jumps.
After our Surefire Fall Horse Trials, we got a whole week of rain, which really improved the footing before Morven Park. The baby horses, Nora and Elvis, were awesome there, and though I didn’t run for time, both were competitive on the flat. I didn’t take Volcan because he had over-reached in his stall and was quite sore, so we gave him the week off. Maryland was our last competition of the year, with all three young horses going. Unfortunately, I had two rails on Nora and one on Elvis. Nora’s were unlucky, and I held Elvis a bit too much off the ground, but all three horses were fast and fun cross-country, and it was a nice way to finish the season.
Until the weather gets too frozen I’ll work on the youngsters’ cross-country, get off the farm to ride with Katie Prudent, work on the flat and do some conditioning, and have a little fun at home. It’s a nice time of year, especially because it’s my favorite weather, not too hot or cold, and I love the fall colors.
Here we are the weekend before our Surefire Horse Trials and of course I’m in the truck headed up to Plantation so I can do the 2-star with Rem. I’ll head back on Sunday to try and have the farm ready for everyone; we start Friday with the FEH and YEH. I swear, just like I said in my last blog, it seems like time just flies!
I’ve had such a nice month of riding and feel like my horses have been getting better and more educated. I’ve really been working to get the young horses and Rem a bit more broke on the flat, and my weekly lessons with Sallie Spenard and the opportunity to have her ride my horses when I’m gone, have really helped the consistency in the way my horses have been going. I’m seeing the results in my young horses and at Loudon I had two firsts: Anita’s Dashwood easily won the dressage and ended up first, and Electrik was second after dressage and won his division, too. Volcan got robbed a little in the lack of warmup but was good in the jumping phases to end up fifth.
This last weekend at CDCTA, Volcan won the dressage and Dashwood was second to him, and they ended first and second, and Electrik was second after dressage and ended up second. Henri Prudent came to watch and help me warm up Volcan, who he found for me, which was fun. I think he was pretty proud of “his” horse. It’s really nice to have young horses that are going to be really competitive down the road—they’re all good movers and jumpers with really great minds.
My lovely Rem has been fun as well. I took her to the AECs, which was quite an experience. Tryon is like going to a five-star resort for horses, and although it’s quite overwhelming when you drive in, the facility is actually quite easy to get around and quite accessible to riders and spectators. I wasn’t sure what to think about the cross-country because you spend the first minute and forty seconds in the derby field, but to be honest, once they get the footing a bit more sorted it’s going to be a great facility for any event they hold there. I was quite happy with dressage, though I had two baubles at the end that were a bit costly as far as my score. I didn’t want to run for time because I felt it wasn’t the right place to try and win in lieu of what I want do at Fair Hill this fall, so I just tried to be swift and efficient. Rem was really fun and then she had a great show jumping, going clear with just two time, which was completely my fault because I added in two of the lines. I think it will be a really good event in the future when they can open up the cross-country onto the new golf course they just acquired.
I’m looking forward to competing at Plantation and will let you know how it goes!
I can’t believe our Surefire Fall Horse Trials opened this week, it seems we just got done with the last one! Maybe it’s because it’s taken me a month to do this update...
I did go over to see the Nation’s Cup at Great Meadow last month, to watch a little dressage and walk the cross-country course. I watched show jumping on the computer. I think it’s going to be lovely event, though I feel they’ll need to manage the footing, because even where the course went on the race track, it could be improved. Overall, though, it was a great competition for the area, and a great thing to have in this country.
As far as my horses go, I took the young horses, Elvis (Electrik), Nora (Dashwood), and Volcan (Volcan de Caverie), and my mare, Rem, to Maryland and everyone was pretty good for the most part. It was nice to do the dressage and show jumping on Rem in the 2*, but I decided not to run cross-country—the footing was harder than I would have liked and I decided she didn’t need it, having run Bromont the month before. The babies still behaved like babies, but two weeks later I took them to Hunt Club, and they were all much better after working hard on their flatwork and show jumping. Other than rider error on Elvis, getting him into 8a in the wrong balance and having a run-by, all three were really, really great.
Outside of horses, I was inspired by my brother this month, who went to Whistler, BC to compete in the Iron Man. He was 5th in his age group of 45-49, one of the most competitive, and 52nd overall. And, he got a spot for Kona, the championships in October. He ran a great race and it made everything I do all day seem easy! Iron Man competitions include a two mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon. It’s nice to be inspired by one’s sibling!
We’ve had a week of mowing for our Fall Horse Trials, and of schooling the horses to keep up with preparation for Fair Hill, where the three Training horses will run, along with Rem in Intermediate. I’m hoping to do AECs with Rem, then the CIC 2* at the great event at Plantation. (If you haven’t given to the event, they need our financial support to keep going, and it’s a great one for this country.) Then I plan on Morven Park and finally the 2* at Fair Hill.
Happy riding and channel your inner Michael Jung, Phillip Dutton or Boyd Martin!
I can’t believe how busy the summers are, it feels like time is flying by! I was so lucky to be able to go to Bromont with my mare, Urrem, after having a little bit of problem at Jersey in the jog. It was really fun to reconnect and have my horse travel with Mara Depuy and super groom Lara Chance. I had a great weekend—I hadn’t competed there since 2012. It’s such a top-notch facility, the cross-country course was really well designed and the footing was amazing. I was really pleased with Rem in all three phases, and I’m super excited about this mare, she just makes me smile. My parents were kind enough to come and support me. We rented a house and it was a really nice way to do something in North America and still feel like you’ve had an international experience.
I got home from Bromont and quickly flew to Kentucky to teach a clinic in Louisville. It’s always so fun to teach the people there and this year Austin and Janie Musselman, who own Duke of Diamond (Dyson) put on a really nice dinner party for me. It was so sweet of them, I feel like I have a second home with really nice people that I can be proud to call my friends.
I got home to start woking on the Surefire Horse Trials and I just have to say I’m so thankful to all the volunteers and crew that helped us out. This year’s event was really well-attended, the footing was amazing, and we had a new addition to our group in Gill Lucas. She did a great job with the trade fair and helping us with the the sponsorship details. As always, the event could not run without Christy Stauffer and Tom Finnen—they are the backbone of the horse trials! Not to mention Christy’s right-hand woman Lisa Welsh and our ever-supportive crew that helps us year after year: delicious food thanks to Nanky Doubleday, who supplies all the judges’ lunches and caters lunches and dinners for everyone who helps; my amazing parents—Dad is Safety Officer, my Mom does every job under the sun, and they both make sure everyone gets fed at night; Po Tatham, who every year has done the flowers with various helpers and also runs the snack cart to make sure that helpers are well-hydrated and have everything they need; Kaitlin Calder, who came back again for the whole week to run set-up, take-down and a lot else; Course Builders Josh Sylce, and Trav and Graham Schick; Course Designer Tremaine Cooper; the amazing Kendall Church and Pat Palmer who run scoring; Heather Novak, who does the show jumping in-gate; Bill and Susie at the start and finish; Secretary Mary Coldron; and of course, Announcer Brian O’Connor. I’m feeling like I might be forgetting people, the list goes on and on!
We were so proud to support the Stroke Comeback Center this year, and we'll support them with our Fall event, and hopefully for years to come. They have made such a big difference in my life.
It was fun to have a great group of Intermediate horses competing for the $10,000 Airowear Challenge, which was won by Marilyn Little. She and Lauren Kieffer were tied for first place going into cross-country, but Lauren had one second of time so Marilyn won.
Thank you so much to all our sponsors! We’re already planning for the fall; as much as time flies by these days, it will be here before we know it.
Entries for the 13th annual Surefire Horse Trials, sponsored by Airowear Equestrian, have opened! Once again, Jan Byyny, Tom Finnen, Christy Stauffer, Mary Coldren and crew are offering five levels of eventing competition, from Beginner Novice through Intermediate, as well as YEH 4- and 5-year-old classes. Tremaine Cooper is the course designer, with Trav and Graham Schick and Josh Sylce signed on to build.
$10,000 in prize money will be awarded to the Intermediate division, and the return of the Wine and Beer Garden, Tailgating on cross-country and an impressive Trade Fair make the Surefire Horse Trials a great weekend in the country for competitors, spectators, families and friends.
Jan is donating a portion of this year’s proceeds to the Stroke Comeback Center, a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers ongoing programs and support to families living with aphasia as a result of stroke or brain trauma.
From Jan: “I learned about the Stroke Comeback Center from my neurologist after I suffered a stroke as the result of a fall at Pine Top. The Center teaches people how to talk again, and offers patients a sense of community after a stroke or head trauma. They work with people like me, and also many veterans and children. Because insurance coverage for therapy typically runs out before a patient is finished the program, the non-profit Center relies on donations to help cover costs, keeping their program affordable for those who need it.”
For more information about the Stroke Comeback Center, go to http://www.strokecomebackcenter.org.
I just drove back from Jersey and unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. My mare Urrem, who’s probably one of the most sound horses I’ve ever had, was spun at the 2* jog. She was suffering from a little dew poisoning from all the wet ground, so I had started her on antibiotics Sunday. In hindsight, I probably should have been more aggressive, because by Wednesday morning it looked really angry, to the point that she was intermittently off about a grade and a half in her right front. Hindsight always 20/20, isn’t it? By the time I got home, with a stronger antibiotic in her, it was a lot better and she was quickly sound and looking great.
Of course I’m gutted, but its better that it’s not a serious injury and we’ll just move to plan B, which is the CIC 2* at Virginia and then travel up to Bromont. I was quite excited about Jersey so I took all the horses to a dressage show the Sunday before and practiced the 2* test twice on Rem. We got a 45 the first time and a 42.4 the second. She was super fun to ride and hopefully we’ll be able to repeat or even improve on that at our next competition. I rode the young horses in First Level test 1 and they were all good, with Elvis winning the class.
We’re busy at Surefire and hoping the ground dries up so we can get mowing. Trav, Josh and Graham are coming on Monday to work on the course for our horse trials. Never a dull moment!