In 2007, upper level eventer Jennie Brannigan was working for Mike and Emma Winter when she called good friend and fellow Californian rider and trainer Dayna Lynd-Pugh and said there was a horse in the Winters’ barn that Dayna might be interested in. “We were not looking at the time but like any horse person, you are always kind of in the market,” recalled Kelly Pugh, Dayna’s daughter. “Jennie followed it up with a video and without trying her we decided to buy her sight unseen.”
The horse was Copycat Chloe. Bred by Christyn Edwards and born in 2002, Copycat Chloe is by the Trakehner stallion Stiletto and out of Copy’s Dancer, an off-the-track Thoroughbred mare. “She was quite green when I got her,” Kelly said. “She didn’t have a show record and had maybe only schooled cross-country a couple of times.”
“It was definitely not love at first sight,” she continued. “She bucked me off almost daily for the first few months, but at some point, things clicked. We started speaking the same language and then things really progressed quite quickly and easily. They say a partnership with a good mare may take a bit longer, but it’s always worth it. I can attest to this.”
Kelly and Chloe ran their first event together in February of 2008 at the Ram Tap Horse Trials in Fresno, California at the Novice level and progressed quickly from there. By the spring of 2009, the pair was successfully competing at the Intermediate level. They placed second in their first CCI* together at Rebecca Farm in 2009 and later that year finished 11th in the CCI2* at Galway Downs. In 2010, Kelly and Chloe were named to the Area VI Young Rider team and traveled to Kentucky to represent Area VI at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships, where they won individual gold and team silver medals in the CCI2*-Y.
2011 saw Kelly and Chloe travel to the East Coast to work for Allison Springer, and the pair continued to progress. They moved up to the Advanced level that year and went on to successfully complete the Plantation Field CIC3* and Fair Hill International CCI3*. Kelly received the Markham Trophy as the highest placed Young Rider at Fair Hill, where they added only cross-country time to their dressage score. “I just kept thinking how none of this would have been possible without Chloe,” Kelly said. “Winning Young Riders on her and then venturing east, those years of my life I really owe to her. We traveled the country together, rode with some of the best instructors, competed against some of the best riders, shared many highs and many lows. I wouldn’t trade that time with Chloe for anything.”
Chloe and Kelly returned to the West Coast in 2012 and that fall the decision was made to sell Chloe on. When Allison Springer heard about this, she called Dayna to ask if she could try the mare. “I always really loved the mare – she was such a good jumper,” Springer said. “She was never an easy mare – I just really was intrigued by her so I went out and tried her.” Springer ended up putting together a syndicate and purchased Chloe in the winter of 2012.
Over the span of two years together, Springer and Chloe achieved several top results at the Advanced and three-star level, including third place in the Advanced Championships at Morven Park in 2013, ninth place in the Jersey Fresh International CCI3* in 2014, and third place in the CCI3* at Fair Hill International later that year. “It was a particularly tough show jumping course and everyone was having time, and I was so excited because I knew I could just whip around there and go fast and that’s what we did,” Springer remembered.
In 2015, Springer made the decision to sell Chloe to junior rider Madeline Foley from New York. “She was never going to be totally reliable in the dressage to make a team and do all that and that’s why we bought her – we hoped that I could get her turned around all the way and I didn’t quite get that done.”
Foley competed Chloe at the Training level during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but leaving for college prompted the Foleys to search for a lease for Chloe. As luck would have it, one of Springer’s working students at the time, Olivia Caspers, was looking for something to ride while her horse recovered from an injury and Chloe seemed like a great fit. So, Chloe ended back up in Springer’s barn, this time with Caspers, and the pair spent the spring of 2018 competing together at the Training level.
When Chloe’s lease to Caspers ended last summer, the Foleys sold her to Nicholas Beshear, son of five-star rider Emily Beshear. “She was coming off a lease and Allison thought she might be a good fit,” Nicholas said. “We completed the Virginia CCI* last fall which qualified us for NAYC CCI2*-L.” With several top-five finishes under their belt over the last year, Nicholas said he plans to move up to Intermediate and try to qualify for the CCI3*-S at NAYC.
“It’s a perfect match,” Springer observed. “I watched them at Fair Hill [in April] and I think she found her soul mate in Nicholas. It’s really fun to watch. She’s a great teacher – I really think he’s going to be able to do some cool stuff with her. She’s just one of those horses that you learn a ton from and certainly I think she’s been a huge part of my education for some of the other horses that I’ve had that have come along and are going so well.”
“She was definitely my ‘heart horse,’” Kelly concluded. “I have so many good memories with her and we had so many ‘firsts’ together. My first FEI win, her first FEI, we did our first Advanced together, my first NAJYRC individual gold medal, our first three-star together, our first mini grand prix. I had never brought a horse along from the beginning before, and although there were definitely some hiccups it was mostly a very rewarding process and I think made me that much closer to her. Dressage was not always her strongest point but if I could get through that I knew the rest would be fine. The feeling Chloe gave me jumping is a feeling I look for in every horse I have tried for myself since then.”
The USEA Horse Heroes series celebrates equine athletes who have contributed to the sport again and again, competing with multiple riders at the upper levels of the sport. Do you know of a horse hero who deserves recognition? Email your tips to [email protected].
As they hiked through the Galway Irish countryside, Shelley Bridges and John Whelpley soon found themselves amid a herd of curious Irish Draught mares grazing calmly around them. Bridges, an endurance rider extraordinaire with a well-known, educated eye for all things horse, noticed one of the mares in particular and said, “What about that one?” and our unlikely story began.
With the holiday spirit in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the 2024 eventing season. From paperwork to packing, there’s quite a bit to do before you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season with your horse. Check out these tips from the team at STRIDER, and get your 2024 season kicked off in the most organized way possible.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce the Eventing Pathway Program Lists for 2024, including the Elite, Pre-Elite, Development, and Emerging Programs. In addition to these Eventing Pathway Program updates, several opportunities will be available in 2024 for both Program and non-Program athletes.
The United States Eventing Associations’ (USEA) Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) is pleased to announce the dates and location of the upcoming 2024 ECP Symposium. The annual ECP Symposium, which is held in the southeast to accommodate the migration of eventers for the winter season, will be hosted at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, on Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2024. This three-day immersive educational experience is recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about eventing coaching, including current coaches, riders, parents, owners or avid supporters. Click here to download the registration form today!