Dec 29, 2019

2020 Worth the Trust Adult Amateur Scholarship Winner: Brandy Savarese

Brandy Savarese, winner of the 2020 Worth the Trust Scholarship. Terrie Hatcher Photo.

The Worth the Trust Educational Scholarships are awarded annually to one Adult Amateur and one Young Adult Amateur to help fund training opportunities like clinics, working student positions, and private instruction. Below is the winning essay of the 2020 Worth the Trust Adult Amateur Scholarship. Congratulations to Brandy Savarese and best of luck in the future!

Today I completed my first Novice horse trials. It was a whirlwind, one-day show, and I’m exhausted and probably more than a little dehydrated. But I’m also on cloud nine. You see, just 15 days shy of one year ago, I got the ride of a lifetime when I signed a lease on and loaded Novelle on my trailer.

I’d had a mostly terrible 2018, spending the better part of the year going through all the steps to determine that my 7-year-old mare’s erratic and unsafe behavior was due to neuropathy caused by severe spinal stenosis and C-spine deformations. I made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize Clue in July and spent the following few months taking stock of a still-unfulfilled dream to compete in my first horse trials.

I got the event bug in March 2013 when I tagged along on a cross-country schooling outing with a local trainer. I had grown up riding in the jumper ring and foxhunting but had taken 15 years off to pursue non-equestrian activities. The desire to ride again came galloping back when I moved to Austin, Texas. I wasn’t surprised that foxhunting isn’t a big thing in Texas, but I knew that I wanted to be outside the arena as much as in. Eventing was the answer and that weekend in March crystalized it. Fast forward through a first horse that wasn’t suited to the job and losing Clue and I found myself discouraged. To make matters even more complicated, I had struggled to find an eventing trainer local to me. Austin is a bit of an eventing desert, with most of the facilities and trainers located at least three hours away in North Texas. I was at a real crossroads: Should I throw in the towel, or should I start over again with a new trainer and a new horse?

Well, I did what any of us with “insanity in the middle” would do, I kicked on. I reached out to Rebecca Brown both to start shopping for a new eventer and to establish a new training relationship. I explained the deal: I have an off-the-track Thoroughbred budget, I wanted another bay Thoroughbred mare, and I’d have to haul up to her farm 200 miles away for weekends of coaching. Thankfully, she was game to help me and within a month or so she called with an update on the horse hunt. She had a horse in her barn coming for sale and she had heard about a lease option. Both were bay mares! The draft-cross mare in her barn probably wasn’t the ideal match, she said, but she wanted to tell me about her. The mare for lease, a Thoroughbred, had a ton of miles and upper-level experience. “Oooooh, that sounds promising,” I said. She chuckled, “You probably know her: Her name is Novelle.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Of course, I knew Novelle, and not just from watching her two runs at Rolex! Through the many years of trying and trying to compete in my first horse trials, I have filled my weekends with hours of volunteering at area horse trials. I also serve in multiple roles on the Area V Council. Novelle and her rider, Angela Bowles, were familiar faces. Still, their familiarity didn’t diminish my awe at the opportunity: Novie, just 16 years young, was retired from the upper levels but still had so much to teach and she needed a new pupil. (Or, as I know now, she needed someone to boss around on cross-country!)

So, I nervously made the drive to Tempus Eventing one day in October to meet Rebecca and “try” Novie. Thankfully, Angela was not there; I think I would have been 10 times more intimidated and would have ridden even more like a drunken monkey than I did. The weather was atrocious – it seemed as if a tornado was sitting on top of the covered arena. As the rain came sideways in sheets, I popped Novie over a few tiny jumps. I was sold. She was unflappable and I was in love. (Another thing I have since learned is that, had we had a dressage ride, I’d likely have felt much different!) Angela and I ironed out the details and I picked up Novie on October 20. We did our first schooling shows in November and December and set our sights on our Beginner Novice debut in spring 2019.

Six years to the weekend that I had first been bitten by the eventing bug, Novelle and I completed our first Beginner Novice horse trials. Angela had started competing her at Novice, so I have the distinct honor of being the first to compete Novie at Beginner Novice. We competed Beginner Novice at almost every Area V horse trials that spring and ended our season with my first ribbon: sixth place from the Texas Rose May Horse Trials (affectionately known in Area V as the “Beginner Novice Olympics”).

We have spent the summer raising the jumps and improving our flatwork, and I’ve now transitioned from RB Riding to Tempus Eventing. As I reflect on what a year it’s been, I’m overcome with gratitude for Rebecca and Angela. I am a more confident rider than I’ve ever been, and I’m looking ahead to a fun and challenging season at Novice. I feel the support of a broad and deep eventing family. Receiving the Worth the Trust Scholarship will allow me to take Novelle to Florida in the early spring 2020 – to take lessons from ICP certified instructors including Angela Bowles and Robin Walker in pursuit of my stretch goal of qualifying for the USEA American Eventing Championships and for the Training Three-Day at Hagyard Midsouth in October 2020.

My gratitude to Novelle, the ride of a lifetime, is immeasurable. She has unlocked a dream that I have had for decades: to enjoy those horse-slow days galloping and jumping confidently with a true partner. She is teaching me to be a better horsewoman while we’re having the time of our lives. I can’t wait to see where we go in 2020.

Applications for the 2021 Worth the Trust Educational and Sports Psychology Scholarships will be available soon. For more information, please contact Nancy Knight, (703) 669-9997.

About the Worth the Trust Scholarship

Dean Graham Photo.

Since 2000, the Worth the Trust Scholarships has provided financial assistance for young adult amateurs and adult amateurs for the purpose of pursuing continued education in eventing. These scholarships is provided by Joan Iversen Goswell in honor of her horse, Worth the Trust, a 15.3 hand Thoroughbred gelding (Wind and Wuthering x Stop Over Station), who competed successfully for many years, including winning the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 1997 with Karen O'Connor. In 2017, to continue to offer a helping hand, Goswell created the Worth the Trust Sports Psychology Scholarships to help amateurs master the ever-challenging mental side of the sport. Click here to read the story of Worth the Trust's 1997 Kentucky Three-Day Event win.

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