In 2013, after taking a 10-year break from riding after college, I knew it was time to get back into eventing again. With the help of a friend, I found a horse off Craigslist that fit what I was looking for perfectly: a black 14-year-old registered American Warmblood mare named Clos du Bois, or "Chloe" for short. I went out and tried her and purchased her two hours later. I knew this horse would get me back into eventing at the lower levels, which is what I wanted to do. She was brave and honest with an amazing ability to take care of me on the trails and cross-country. Once I got her registration paperwork, I tracked down her original owner, Jennifer Lawson, who had owned her from the age of 2 to 13, in Alabama. We reconnected and I learned that Chloe had foaled one colt in 2012, but he had been sold.
In July of 2015, Jennifer contacted me and said that she had purchased back Chloe's only offspring and asked if I would be interested in buying him. She had hopes of doing barrels with him but unfortunately he was too easygoing and slow for that discipline, but I am convinced she purchased him back just to give me the opportunity to have him. He was a small 3-year-old 15.1 Appendix Quarter Horse who was broke to sit on and that was it. I wasn’t in the market to have a second horse but after much convincing to my husband, a few pictures, and a grainy video, I thought, "Sure, what do I have to lose." I grew up breaking and riding young horses and thought this was a great opportunity to get back to my roots. I couldn’t pass up the chance to own Chloe's only offspring, who I decided to name Remy. If he had half the heart she did then I would be more than pleased.
To make the trip easier, I had Remy transported via Equine Express from Alabama to Texas. I spent the day he was to arrive preparing his stall, shopping for supplies, and making sure everything was ready for his arrival. He arrived in the late afternoon and when they pulled him off the trailer, I couldn’t help but laugh! He was possibly the most unsightly looking 3-and-a-half-year-old I have ever laid eyes on. He was your typical unmuscled, long mane, sun bleached, gangly looking youngster. I thought to myself, "Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into!?" My husband looked at me and said, "We bought...this?" I promised him that I had a good feeling about Remy and to give it time. I knew I would have to do some serious beauty treatments on Remy to convince everyone, as well as myself, that taking a chance on him would be worth it in the end.
Remy settled in well and had a lay down overnight which made me happy that he was comfortable in his new home. The next day consisted of a major mane pull, bath, and spending hours just getting to know each other. Within moments I was falling more in love with my new youngster. He was so personable and loved attention. I learned that Chloe rejected him at birth and he had to be bottle-fed for a few months before Chloe finally accepted him. This explained his sweet personality and connection with humans. The next two weeks I took it slow - lunging him with a saddle, then getting on him and riding in our square pen, then graduating to our large arena. Each new exercise and experience he took like a perfect gentleman and was always respectful of me and my safety. After two weeks I felt comfortable trail riding alone in the park and he did not put a hoof wrong.
I’m a firm believer in taking it slow with young horses. The next few months were filled with learning experiences. I wanted to expose him to everything that I could. I took him off property to get in different arenas, play over cross-country fences, and competed in local schooling shows to get an idea of how he would handle the "show atmosphere". Remy's first USEA recognized event was in May of 2016 at Greenwood Farms H.T. where he competed at the Starter level. I was so proud of him for handling the overnight weekend experience so well. We finished fourth out of a division of 12 and followed up with finishing in first place out of 18 in the Starter division at the June 2016 Texas Rose Summer H.T. From there I knew I had something special. The next few months were used to expand his understanding of dressage, larger show jumps, and cross-country fences.
November 2016 was Remy's first recognized Beginner Novice show at my favorite one-day venue, Willow Draw in Weatherford, Texas. I was nervous moving him up at a one-day event but knew if he was going to make it in this sport, he would have to learn how to handle shows like this. When we finished in second place, I knew this horse had a heart just like his mom. We continued competing at Beginner Novice through the 2017 season and then moved up to Novice in 2018. Remy has consistently been in the top four after dressage and top five in final placings with over 15 top-three finishes in his career and even some first places. Out of 21 recognized events, we have had no cross-country jump penalties! To say he was made for this sport is an understatement.
The bond I have with my Remy is undeniable. Anyone that knows me knows how much this horse means to me. I have done all his training on my own with help here and there from professionals. His trust in me and what I ask of him makes him the greatest partner I have ever had the pleasure to work with. We always take care of each other and pick up each other’s slack. But keep in mind, Remy is not perfect! He is a poor drinker in the winter, which requires extra attention and time on my part. He is extremely playful and can get him into trouble in turn out. He likes to do what we call the "TootScoot," which is his way to let me know how fast he can be for two seconds. Remy will put anything in his mouth and eat it - edible or not - and doesn't understand the personal space of horses or humans.
I’m so glad I took a chance on him. He’s a prime example that you don't have to always have a horse with special breeding nor special training to be successful in this sport. Remy has a huge brand on his shoulder and is a small 15.2 hands but he’s my forever horse and whatever his limitations are they too will be mine. I hopefully plan on moving up to Training level in the fall and see where the road takes us. Will he ever be an upper level horse? Who knows. He’s not the perfect horse for everyone, but he’s the perfect horse for me, and I couldn’t imagine competing in this sport without him as my partner.
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Jessica Duffy to be featured.
Yesterday Andreas Dibowski said that he was ready for the “fun stuff” and today he had the chance to share his knowledge of both show jumping and cross-country to a large audience who attended day two of the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium. The morning started out in the ring at Barnstaple South with three groups of riders – Beginner Novice, Training, and Preliminary, and three groups of the same levels took to the cross-country in the afternoon. While the exercises and jumps got progressively harder throughout the day, the warm-ups and themes stayed the same.
A horse’s first steps out in the cross-country field determine the foundation upon which his entire cross-country education will be laid. How can you give your horse the best chance of success? What are some of the ways you can help teach your horse about cross-country jumping?
The USEA Educational Symposium is a unique opportunity each winter for eventers to gather together to soak in knowledge. The first two days of the 2020 Symposium focus on the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) with attendees learning how to be better, more effective instructors. German Olympian and world-renowned rider Andreas Dibowski is this year’s guest instructor and he spent the first day dedicated to dressage with one Advanced show jumping group to wrap-up the day. Dibowski taught the instructors to teach using demo riders and horses from Beginner Novice to Advanced of all ages, breeds, and sizes.
In episode #251 Nicole catches up with Buck Davidson after his great second-place finish in the $50,000 MARS Eventing Showcase and then brings you all of the latest USEA news with the rest of the team. From tornadoes, prize money, and volunteers, it's all covered!