No time like now to knock items off the
So says international eventing competitor and trainer Natalie Rooney. When she heard that Ann Taylor, the owner of the 200-acre Woodland Stallion Station, wanted to build a cross-country course, Natalie knew they needed to talk. It was such a meeting of the minds that Natalie packed up her training business and moved it to WSS this past November.
A full-scale cross-country course was the missing piece in Natalie's long-held desire to organize a top-flight eventing competition. Plans for an unrated combined training event are now set for September 7-8, with a rated version set to follow next year. "We have several amazing events on the West Coast and we would like ours to become one of the premiere competitions on the list," she says. Per governing body guidelines, the event will first offer competition up through Preliminary, then eventually step up to staging Intermediate and Advanced level competitions.
The gently rolling hills that surround the breeding and training facility are a perfect setting for an eventing competition. The beautiful countryside makes for an appealing destination in an easily reached area 15 miles from Sacramento. At presstime, Natalie was awaiting the arrival of 45 cross-country obstacles recently purchased from Three Day Ranch. They are nearly new and suitable for Beginner Novice through Intermediate levels of competition. Natalie expected the course to be ready for schooling by early April.
Buying the jumps and preparing the terrain are among many considerable expenses incurred on the way to staging an event. A series of fundraisers are in the works to help offset those costs, starting with a special dinner this month and combined test events on April 6 and June 8. Combined tests consist of dressage and stadium jumping rounds, but participants will also have the option of schooling over the newly built course. Hauling in for schooling will be another way to support the course's cost and get valuable mileage.
An Ideal Fit
The Woodland Stallion Station's event suitability was not the only reason Natalie was drawn to make it her base of operation. It is well known as a full-service breeding facility and is home to the Morgan World Champion stallions Wintergreen Beaufort and Wintergreen Shaman. As such, it's a great fit for Virginian Sky, the approved Trakehner Stallion Natalie owns with Das Fontana Syndikat. By Best Before Midnight and out of Virginian Girl XX, Virginian Sky is on track for Intermediate level eventing competition by the end of this year and is schooling Prix St. Georges dressage. The plan is to campaign him in competition and in the breeding barn concurrently. It's going well so far with many Preliminary level successes and a gorgeous first foal, Of Wind And Sky, on the ground last July and already jumping in knees-up-to-her-ears form. Virginian Sky has two other foals due this year.
A March 9 Trakehner Rendevous is scheduled to showcase Virginian Sky's jumping and dressage abilities. It takes place at WSS and will also include presentation of several for-sale young horses, plus a visit from Trakehner expert Maren Engelhardt of Germany. She will offer advice on choosing the right stallion for specific mares (bring photos and bloodline info) and discuss the value of the Thoroughbred in the pedigrees of today's Warmbloods. Maren will also share the interesting role of Shagya Arabians in international sporthorses. The free event includes wine
The Rendevous is one of several events on Woodland Stallion Station's 2013 agenda, many of them with Natalie as point person. Greg Best will be there May 10-12 and again Sept. 27-29 for his regular show jumping clinics hosted by Natalie. May 21 and July 2-3 clinics with piaffe and passage expert Alfredo Hernandez are also hot tickets on a diverse schedule that includes Sacramento Area Hunter Jumper association schooling shows and the Vineyard Classic Combined Driving event in May.
Natalie is thrilled to be located at WSS and she brings a wealth of experience, energy and enthusiasm with her. The Napa native has ridden, competed and built upon her horsemanship knowledge throughout her life. She has a degree in genetics from UC Davis and worked briefly in the pharmaceutical industry before becoming a professional horsewoman.
Riding Trakehners for most of her internationally competitive career, Natalie has credentials that include a North American Young Riders Championships gold medal, a sixth place finish at Rolex Four Star in Kentucky, the alternate spot for the 2002 World Equestrian Games, riding in the World Cup Eventing final and earning a silver medal from the US Dressage Federation. And that's just as a competitor.
She is a Level III instructor per the US Eventing Assn.'s Instructor Certification Program and holds a USDF learners judging card. In her spare time over the years, Natalie played polo and worked as an exercise rider at the racetrack.
Last but far from least, Natalie is the proud mom of 9-year-old Tyler and 4-and-a-half-year-old Sydney, whose basketball team Natalie coaches. Tyler is a soccer player, but Sydney seems destined for the horse world, having recently debuted in a hunter/jumper schooling show at WSS.
Dressage Young Rider and Preliminary eventer Taylor Lindsten joined Four Star Farm at WSS in January and she's already a great addition to
Prior to moving to Woodland Stallion Station, Natalie ran Four Star Farm out of locations in Napa and Bodega. She has closed up shop in Bodega, but maintains her lesson and riding camp program in Napa. She'll also host riding camps at WSS and is especially looking forward to her sessions for advanced riders with competitive aspirations. Promoting safe and successful horsemanship is the crux of Natalie's work at every level, from her riding school and Pony Club students to clients who aspire to give her a run for the money at the highest levels.
Another favorite of Natalie's is an annual October trip to Germany with students. "We go to a stallion testing and market and visit several stud farms," she explains. "It is designed to be a learning experience and a way to enjoy magnificent horses, the culture and meet other people as horse crazy as we are!"
Four Star Farm always has a variety of horses for sale. Currently, Natalie has about 15, ranging from ponies and a ready-to-go 3-year-old to a school master and two horses that she believe have Grand Prix dressage and jumping potential.
For more information on the many upcoming events and opportunities at Woodland Stallion Station, please call Natalie Rooney at
707-312-1119 or visit www.fourstarfarm.com
and/or www.woodlandstallion.com. You can also learn more about breeding to Virginian Sky at www.VirginianSky.com.