Veteran show jumper Susan Hutchison’s winning mount in the 6-year-old YJC Qualifier at Blenheim Spring Classic 3 is the product of a development program that is very different than most young jumpers.
Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman – Marisol, by Corofino) is a purpose-bred event horse and winner of the 2014 West Coast Young Event Horse Championship as a 5-year-old. The grey Holsteiner mare is a full sibling to well-known 4* eventer R-Star, winner of the 2014 Galway Downs International 3* with Kristi Nunnink.
Owner Judith McSwain is the owner and founder of Fleeceworks. A retired Naval critical care nurse, McSwain is combining tradition and technology to create nature-based products that enhance the performance and comfort of our equine partners.
Fleeceworks Royal was bred in the U.S. by Charlotte Wrather, and is a daughter of Hilltop Farms’ Riverman, winner of the USEF South Pacific Award (presented to the leading US-based sire of show jumpers) in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and USEF Eventing Sire of the Year in 2009 and 2010.
Fleeceworks Royal’s regular rider, Tamra Smith, is currently vying for a spot on the team for the Pan American Games, so Hutchison stepped up to help out. Smith had initially talked to Lane Clarke about riding, but Lane is a new Dad, so that plan fell through. Smith ended up texting Susie the morning before the first class, and in what she calls “a disorganized group effort,” it all fell into place.
The request wasn’t completely out of the blue, as Smith has ridden with Susie Hutchison over the years to help her improve her show jumping.
“It was so much fun to have Susie ride her,” Smith explained. “And such an honor to have someone with her expertise give me insight into the kind of ride she needs. It really was a blessing in disguise that I’m tied up on the east coast right now.”
Judith McSwain remembers when they first went to check out the Riverman filly.
“One thing that is really important to me is to buy US-bred horses,” she said. “So, when we heard about this filly I said, ‘Why not check her out?’”
“Tamra really liked her. She told me, ‘I think she’s the real deal’,” McSwain recalled. “And when she trotted over a 4 foot oxer, Allen Clarke (father of show jumper Lane Clarke) said if we didn’t take her, he would!”
“What’s really cool is Judy has always been a big supporter of the show jumping phase,” explains Smith. “It is great to have an owner who understands how to produce these horses for the long haul.”
It is also important to McSwain to compete Fleeceworks Royal in the Young Jumpers, to create a foundation for the future. “So often, the outcome [at the big events] comes down to the show jumping round on the last day. We want her to make her mistakes now, so she can learn from them, and engage that muscle-memory when she needs it in the future.”
“We are looking to the long term.”