May 13, 2024

Now On Course: Devon MHF Has Found His Person in Samantha Thomas

Samantha Thomas and Devon MHF. Xpress Foto photo

Before his fifth birthday, Devon MHF has already passed through a number of different programs. As a 3-year-old, he was started in part of a lesson program where he learned a special trick of bucking people off before they ever got on. This was a trait he held onto.

When he arrived at Redbud Farm to be sold, “Devon” was still difficult to mount, but his talent for jumping was obvious. My trainer Betsy Ball said from the very beginning that Devon would jump anything that you pointed him at and always had a great sense of where he was in relation to the fence. She knew he was a talented little horse, but he wasn’t going to be for just anyone.

I came to try Devon (Murrumbeena Magic x Murrumbeena Cricket) and fell in love. I really liked that he was so little. I also really liked that he was quick on his feet and had good instincts. He was slightly out of my price range, but Betsy let me make payments on him.

Like all young horses, bringing Devon along has been a process. When we got Devon home to my farm in Massachussetts, I had to work on the mounting issue alone. Half the time I’d get ready to ride, and he didn’t want to be mounted, and I’d just be like, OK well, riding wasn’t going to happen today. I did a ton of groundwork with him when I got him, just hanging out with him and letting him know that I’m his person.

Devon’s type doesn’t fit the typical event horse mold. He’s only 15.1 and a Hackney/Arabian cross. He was bred to be part of a driving team by Renée Tucci of Murder Hollow Farm, but he didn’t grow tall enough. Renée has been our biggest cheerleader.

Devon and I headed back to Redbud Farm in Ocala, Florida, this winter for some training before our move up to Training level. I wanted to go back to work with Betsy and Jessie Shull because they had such confidence in this little horse.

He’s easier to mount now, and we moved up to Training level this winter, picking up a few ribbons along the way. What does the future hold for the two of us? I want to be able to produce him the best that I can, and in a way that he has confidence and will be successful. I’ve really enjoyed bringing him along. It’s not about blue ribbons and where we stand on the leaderboard. It’s about seeing his life change.

The little horse who was so tricky to mount has been my horse for a year and a half now, and the future looks bright. His dressage score continues to improve, and the show jumping phase is getting more consistent.

Everyone says to trust the process, but it’s really true. You just have to keep putting your head down and doing the work and enjoying the little moments along the way. Appreciate all the little victories, even the ones that aren’t on paper. The ones that no one knows but you. You have to stay in your own lane and not compare yourself to anyone else on social media, which is easier said than done, but important to master. You just have to focus on riding the horse that you have.

Do you know a horse with a cool story? Email Lindsay at [email protected] for a chance to be featured in our Now On Course series.

May 21, 2024 Eventing News

USEA Now Accepting Coach Applications for 2025 EA21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is excited to announce that coach applications are now being accepted for the 2025 USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21). One additional coach will be selected and hired for a three-year term for the EA21 program, teaching one two-day summertime regional clinic annually throughout the term.

May 21, 2024 Eventing News

Now On Course: Laury Marshall and Finley Have Learned The Sport Together

Sometimes, a kind word is all it takes to make someone’s day, says Laury Marshall. Marshall and Finley, her 17-hand Thoroughbred mare, had just finished their dressage test at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds. They’d performed solidly, good for a 36.4 and middle-of-the-pack standing in the Beginner Novice Rider championship division at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

May 20, 2024 Interscholastic

USEA Podcast #361: Reliving the USEA Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Eventing Championships

We are still riding on a bit of a high after the success of the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Eventing Championships, so we loved taking the opportunity to chat about this year's event with Stable View's Barry Oliff, member of the winning Intercollegiate team Hayden Wathen, and member of the winning Interscholastic team Collins Zgutowicz. Let the countdown to the 2025 championships begin...

May 19, 2024 Eventing News

From Kalispell to Kentucky: A Trip East Proves Fruitful for Jen Moody

For eventer Jen Moody, the trek from Montana to compete at this year’s Defender Kentucky Cosequin Lexington CCI4*S was a long, chilly journey, but she had big goals for her kind-hearted Thoroughbred, Eye Of The Storm. With her 4-year-old daughter, Valkyrie, and longtime friend and supporter, Sarah Broussard, by her side, the journey to the Bluegrass State—and beyond—exceeded her expectations.

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