Sapphire -- Rest in Peace
McLain Ward's two-time Olympic gold medal partner Sapphire passed away June 22 due to colic-related complications. The Belgian Warmblood mare was one of the most beloved horses in the sport. "Sara" will be sorely missed by McLain, the team at his Castle Hill in New York State and many, many fans worldwide.
Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy
Boost For Billys' Olympic Bid
Eventer Lauren Billys checked an important item off her international to-do list with the recent arrival of Castle Larchfield Purdy, an Irish Sport Horse registered Selle Francais with solid Three-Star mileage. He was purchased for Lauren by the Purdy Syndicate, LLC.
Along with her long-time international horse, the mare Ballingowan Ginger, Lauren now has the horsepower needed for a realistic bid at the 2016 Olympic Games, where she hopes to represent Puerto Rico. The birthplace of Lauren's grandmother, the U.S. territory is developing its presence in international equestrian competition with help from the International Equestrian Federation, The first to carry its flag was California-based show jumper Mark Watring, who's been a big help to Lauren in navigating the process.
Lauren and Ginger represented Puerto Rico at the 2011 Pan American Games, then the Sangar-based rider put the Rio Olympics on her goal sheet. In the coming 18 months, she and Ginger and Purdy need to accumulate enough points in U.S. competition to be viewed as the top eventer among those representing Central and South America. That's what she needs to get a bid for Rio. Because equestrian sports and eventing, in particular, are not big in that part of the world, Lauren considers the game plan to be very realistic.
Getting a second horse, in addition to a third possible, but young, contender, Jitterbug, is a huge item to check off the list, Lauren reports. The syndicate to buy a new horse was mostly in place when Purdy came on the market, and there are a few spots still available in his ownership group.
In addition to preparing as horse and rider to qualify and compete at the Olympics, there's a lot to do on the business side. Most Olympic hopeful riders have to be savvy fundraisers and business managers and that's all the more true for those riding for developing equestrian regions because they don't have the support and sponsorship networks that the United States Equestrian Federation makes available to its athletes. Lauren is impressed and grateful with the help she's received so far from Puerto Rico and is confident that her circle of family, friends and supporters will be able to fill in the gaps, one way or another, although "It's a little nerve wracking," she confesses.
To join or follow Lauren's quest, visit her blog on www.laurenbillys.com.
Freestyling Farms is Open For Business
Jill Prieto and her partner Trevor Gaffney have teamed up in the new Freestyling Farms at American Canyon Training Center in Southern Napa County. The USEF's Junior Equestrian of the Year in 1998, Jill and her spectacular little jumper, Freestyling, were a top pair in the nation in the junior and young rider ranks.
Jill has since added remarkable horsemanship knowledge and riding, training and competing experience working in Europe and East Coast equestrian hotbeds, including Wellington, FL. Irish horseman Trevor brings an equal amount of experience. He was stable manager and head groom for Swiss Olympic show jumper Paul Estermann at the London Olympics, and worked for the fourth-placed Swiss team. More resume highlights include working for 2010 WEG show jumping champion Phillippe LeJeune and, most recently, the Coulter family in Petaluma.
"I've been doing mostly jumpers for the last five years, and Trevor's expertise is sales, training, and horse management," Jill explains. Their collective experience enables them to master just about any task in the hunter/jumper world. They currently have several young horses in development and look forward to maintaining a stable of 15 to 20 horses in training. Jill is excited to fulfill her passion for teaching again and the pair welcome riders of all ages and experience levels. As far as show schedule and competition level, they'll tailor the program around their clients' goals and desires.
Quality over quantity is Freestyling Farms' modus operandi. Jill and Trevor are well-grounded, hard-working equestrians accustomed to the demands of the sport at its highest levels. Whether or not their clients aspire to that level, they are excited to share their experience and their love for horses and the sport itself.
For more information, visit www.freestylingfarms.com, find Freestyling Farms on Facebook or call Jill Prieto at 707-772-9618.
Steinberg Steps Down
Jeremy Steinberg, who has served as the USEF Youth Dressage Coach since 2011, will be stepping down from the position, following the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, July 15-20. Jeremy relocated his dressage training business to California in the fall, when he set up shop at Ridgemar Equestrian in Del Mar.
"It has been an absolute pleasure working with everyone over the last three years and I will miss working with the youth of the U.S. more than words can express," said Jeremy. "I would like to be spending more time at home riding and training myself and continue to push to one day make a U.S. team myself."
In addition to his role as USEF Youth Dressage Coach at major championships and competitions, Steinberg has worked in concert with USEF Dressage overseeing and assisting with development of the youth dressage programs.
"We thank Jeremy for everything he has done for our Dressage Youth athletes and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors," said Jenny Van Wieren-Page USEF Managing Director of Dressage.
Details regarding the application process to name the next USEF Youth Dressage Coach will be available shortly at www.usef.org.