Twelve-year-old Pryce Chrisman first sat on a horse at Mill Creek Riding School in Topanga, California. Pryce’s mom, Jennifer, had ridden horses as a girl and thought her daughter might want to try it out. “One day I made the huge mistake of asking Pryce, ‘Would you ever want to try it?’” Jennifer joked. “Then my entire life changed.”
Pryce began taking group lessons at Mill Creek and soon, like all horse-crazy girls, began talking about wanting a horse of her own. “I started telling her all the reasons why getting a pony is so impractical and it could never happen, and my husband said, ‘Why are you telling her that?’” Jennifer recalled. “I said, ‘Because it’s a lot of work,’ and he said, ‘But couldn’t we do it?’”
So, the hunt for Pryce’s first horse began. Pryce’s instructor at the time found a horse that seemed to fit the bill and Jennifer purchased “Peanut” sight unseen. “I was either completely naive or totally trusting, or both. I bought a 10-year-old a Thoroughbred!” Unfortunately, the pre-purchase exam didn’t pick up arthritis in Peanut’s neck, a limitation that would keep Peanut from being comfortable jumping. “She started jumping and she started hurting and she started changing, so we had to let her go.”
Jennifer reflected that rehoming Peanut was a good experience for Pryce. “As she’s been evolving on Tahoe Blue, she understands that horse will have to go away too to enable her to move up one day, so that’s good that experience has already happened.”
Jennifer and Pryce began looking for a new horse to replace Peanut. “McKenzie Rollins, [Pryce’s current trainer], had seen Tahoe Blue at a show and though Pryce should try Tahoe,” Jennifer said. However, the 11-year-old Fjord was all the way up in Santa Cruz and Jennifer was hoping to find something closer to home. They kept searching, but ultimately Rollins convinced Jennifer that Tahoe was worth a try. “Pryce sat on that horse – and she had sat on a lot of horses – and I don’t know how you riders know, but she knew immediately she wanted that horse.”
“He has a very broad personality,” Pryce described. “In the barn he’s sometimes naughty, sometimes he’s good. It depends on if there is food in his stall most of the time! He trusts me, and that I will take care of him. When I’m riding him, he’ll go through the water – I make sure that he’s comfortable.”
Pryce and Tahoe went to their first event at the Intro level in 2018. “She did okay in her Intro year – there was a lot of learning. McKenzie helped the horse a lot, and then McKenzie, my daughter, and the horse learned to be a pair, or a trio, I should say.”
In 2019, Pryce and Tahoe started the year at the Beginner Novice level at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials in March and won their division on a score of 29.2. Jennifer and Rollins were ready to chalk that up to beginner’s luck, but then Pryce and Tahoe won their Beginner Novice division at Twin Rivers on a score of 25.6. After taking first place at their third event in a row at Galway Downs in May on a 25.8, it was clear that Pryce and Tahoe were on a winning streak. Now, Pryce and Tahoe find themselves tied for second place on the USEA Junior Beginner Novice Rider of the Year leaderboard.
Pryce is most proud of that first blue ribbon she won with Tahoe, but she’s also excited to see what the rest of the year will bring. “[The Beginner Novice at Galway] was my first one and I wasn’t really expecting to win but he went double clear and ended on his dressage score and I felt like that was pretty cool,” she said. “I’m most excited about seeing where we end up in the end of the year after we go to the rest of the shows! We’ll go to Shepherd Ranch [in June] and Woodside [in August.]”
“We didn’t have a long-term goal coming into the year, but now I think she’d like to win every single other event she has coming up!” Jennifer laughed.
“I have been fortunate enough to introduce Pryce to eventing which, as a teacher and coach, is such an enjoyable process,” Rollins said. “Pryce is such a diligent student and a delight to teach because she has a lot of natural talent and really enjoys learning about each discipline. Her family adores Tahoe and Jennifer has really become a professional horse show mom. We always have so much fun together, which is what it's all about!”
Jennifer noted how the eventing community has welcomed them with open arms. “I haven’t met one youngster or one parent that hasn’t been amazing, including all the people that work the events. You get to know the people like the photographers and the Ride On Video people, too – everyone is amazing.”
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 at [email protected] to be featured.
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This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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