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Wed, 2015-03-11 09:54

A Red-Headed Problem Child Goes from the Racetrack to a Young Event Horse Reserve Champion

Jennie and Twilightslastgleam at the 2014 YEH Championships at Fair Hill. USEA photo.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA. 

When Jennie Brannigan was first introduced to Twilightslastgleam when he was three years old, the gelding may not have seemed like her next top-class event prospect. Bred by long-time owner and supporter Nina Gardner, “Komik” was well known as a naughty bucker and had gone to Phillip Dutton’s farm where Willie McCarthy took him on as a project. The Thoroughbred gelding was bred to race but while he was on the track, he bucked off just about every rider that got on his back.

After realizing that the track was not the place that he wanted to be, he arrived back at Phillip’s where Waylon Roberts spent a lot of time in the tack. He eventually made his Novice eventing debut at the Bucks County Horse Trials where he jumped clean and showed everyone that eventing was what he was meant to do. Since then, Jennie has taken over the ride and has achieved a number of accomplishments in their short partnership together.

“I give all the credit to Willie and Waylon who really got the horse going. I know he’s going to be something special,” said Jennie.

His presence in the ring has gotten the attention of the judges at the Young Event Horse qualifiers. He won the 4-year-old YEH qualifier at Greystone Farm, finished in 4th place at Surefire Farm with new assistant Stephanie Cauffman in the irons, and went on to become the East Coast Young Event Horse Reserve Champion with Jennie at Fair Hill. Komik received the highest marks in the jumping of any 4-year-old on the East Coast.  

Although he can be quite tough at times, Jennie appreciates his quirky personality and his level of talent. “He’s everything you could ever want in an event horse. He knows when to turn it on when it really matters,” she said. 

Jennie has been a participant of the Young Event Horse program for the past year.

“To be honest, I was always a little skeptical of the program. However, I’ve come to really value and appreciate the judges opinions.”

She explains that having the right judges is extremely important to the betterment of the program. They must be experienced and accredited.

“This past year [at Championships] the judges were spot on,” Jennie exclaimed. “I’m glad that they rewarded my Thoroughbred. They really rewarded the quality of his gallop, which is important. Horses that are going to be successful at the top level of this sport need to be able to gallop for 12 minutes, not just perform well in the dressage ring.”

Jennie describes this program as an excellent starting place for young horses to get their feet wet in the sport. “You don’t have to over-prepare your horse to be able to compete," she said. "You’re able to train just enough and still put in a good performance.”

Jennie explained that the dressage phase is just enough to judge the quality of the horse’s movement and then they are able to go out and do one jump course and be done for the day. It’s not too much of an overload and they begin to look forward to their next competition. As young horses, it is important that they aren’t hounded too much in their training to be perfect.

“Be sure to do a lot of riding outside and ground work with a lot of praise. Take it slow and let them tell you what they’re ready for.”

As for Komik, he has had a few months off this winter and will slowly get back into work. Jennie plans on competing in the 5-year-old YEH division this spring! For more information about Jennie and her program, be sure to visit her web site at: http://branniganeventing.com/

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