Aug 29, 2020

Now On Course: Seeing Double with the Curtis Twins

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Twins Jack and Sam Curtis both compete in eventing. Photo courtesy of Jack and Sam Curtis.

It’s not every day that you see siblings competing against each other in any sport, but twins Jack and Sam Curtis have been doing just that in eventing since they were both about 12 years old. Horses run in their blood as their mother grew up riding, and she wanted her sons to learn as well. “We began taking lessons at the age of 6 at a barn right down the street from our house,” they shared. “At the time, we had no idea that equestrians had any specific disciplines and this barn was primarily an eventing barn, so we have always stuck to eventing.”

Growing up outside of Boston, Jack and Sam learned the ropes of eventing on their Connemara ponies: Turk Everlasting and My Saint Patrick. Jack, who rode Turk Everlasting, and Sam, who rode My Saint Patrick, explained that they started out leasing the ponies from their barn over one summer before purchasing them. “We both did our first events and had a year of Beginner Novice with them before we moved on to the next step,” they explained. Competing at venues like GMHA and Course Brook Farm, Jack and Sam got their first taste of eventing, and even brought home some ribbons!

Sam and his current partner, Blyth's Centurion FE, at the Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials. Amy Dragoo Photo.

In 2016, Jack and Sam switched barns and began searching for their next equine partners. Sam bought Cruising On, an Irish Sport Horse gelding who has competed through the Training level with Meghan O’Donoghue, and Jack leased In Flight N Out of Sight, an Anglo Arab gelding owned by Jessye Ebzery who had competed through the Preliminary level. “These horses moved us up to Novice and started to make us understand the true basics of eventing,” they explained. “Unfortunately, Sam’s horse was challenging to keep sound, so he is now retired, and Jack’s horse went back to his owner when the lease was over.”

Both horseless and ready to move up to Training level, Jack and Sam started to horse-hunt once again in the summer of 2017. Jack found a suitable match in Lucky Strike, an off-the-track Thoroughbred who raced under the name Hunter’s Charm. Jack and Lucky Strike competed several Novice level events together in the summer and fall of 2017 before Lucky Strike passed away suddenly over the winter.

Sam continued to search for the right match for the rest of 2017 and into the spring of 2018 when he found Cooley Cut Copy, who was running Preliminary with Dom Schramm at the time. The pair hit it off, winning their second event together at the Novice level before stepping up to Training in the summer of 2018. Jack, meanwhile, imported a young Holsteiner gelding named Playmate III from England, and the pair spent the rest of the 2018 season getting to know each other at the Training level.

Jack and Luska Candy Clover at the Plantation Field Horse Trials. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

It was around this time that Jack and Sam began working with five-star eventer Caitlin Silliman, who is based in Cochranville, Pennsylvania. The twins’ uncle’s college roommate is also from the Cochranville area and had known Silliman for years, and so he put their mom in touch with Silliman. “One of our close friends Morgan McCue, who owns Caitlin’s Advanced mare Ally KGO, also recommended Caitlin to us,” the twins elaborated. “We absolutely love being under the guidance of Caitlin because she makes every day fun, professional, and educational.”

In the winter of 2019, Jack and Sam had the opportunity to travel to Silliman’s winter base in Aiken, South Carolina to do some competing in Area III. Jack, aboard Playmate III, and Sam, aboard Cooley Cut Copy, both completed their first Preliminary level event at Sporting Days Farm, finishing fourth and seventh, respectively. “Both of these horses have truly taught us how to ride correctly and accurately,” they said. Both continued to compete at the Preliminary level throughout the spring and summer, with Jack and Playmate III even completing their first CCI2*-S at the Horse Park of New Jersey, where they were sixth.

“At this point in our career, we both were looking for the horse that would take us around our first Advanced,” the twins said. So, in the winter of 2020, Sam made the decision to sell Cooley Cut Copy on “to his dream home, where he couldn’t be happier!” The search for a horse for Sam began again, and in no time at all he found Blyth’s Centurion FE, a German Sport Horse gelding who had been competing at the Intermediate/CCI3* level with Canadian April Simmonds. While Jack still has Playmate III, he was also able to acquire Luska Candy Clover, an Irish Sport Horse gelding, from Daniel Clasing, who had competed him through the Preliminary/CCI2* level. Jack and Sam were each able to squeeze in a Training level event down in Georgia with their new mounts before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the competition season to a screeching halt.

Now that the competition season has gotten back underway, Jack and Sam have been out with their horses at some local Area II events, with Sam and Blyth’s Centurion FE bringing home a first and second place at Plantation Field in June and Horse Park of New Jersey in July and Jack finishing first and third in the Junior/Young Rider Open Preliminary division at Horse Park of New Jersey. “We are looking forward to the remainder of the 2020 season with these outstanding horses!” they said.

Jack (left) and Sam (right). Photo courtesy of Jack and Sam Curtis.

Jack and Sam said that despite the fact that they compete in the same divisions frequently, they don’t get very competitive towards one another. “We both enjoy competing against each other,” they said, “but at the end of the day we are happy for each other. Growing up, eventing is all we have ever wanted to do, and to be able to do it with each other is invaluable. We can always discuss what we’re thinking about a specific combination on course or how many strides we might do in a show jumping line. At times we can be competitive, but it’s pretty even between us. Every other event goes differently, sometimes one of us beats the other, or it goes the other way around! It’s all part of the game.”

As the Curtis twins look to the future, they say careers as eventing professionals are definitely goals they have in mind. “Hopefully we’ll compete at the North American Youth Championships on the three-star team next year, and we’d like to compete in the Under 25 division at Bramham,” they said. “We would both love to pursue eventing as a profession in the future and to compete at the highest level!”

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.

Jun 07, 2023 Eventing News

Fast Facts: MARS Bromont CCI

After not running in 2020 and 2021, the MARS Bromont CCI Three-Day Event returned to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Center in Quebec, Canada, in 2022. America's Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) and Twilightslastgleam won the CCI4*-L, as the chestnut Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) bred and owned by Nina Gardner moved up from eighth after dressage into the lead after cross-country with the fastest round on wet ground over the tracks designed by Derek di Grazia. Canada's Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a bay Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Lelia) owned by Patricia Pearce, finished second, and they are among four from the top-10 in the CCI4*-L in 2022 that return in 2023.

Jun 06, 2023 Eventing News

Hollberg Takes Top Honors in Open Intermediate and Preliminary Divisions at 2023 Essex Horse Trials

Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.

Jun 06, 2023 Profile

“And again, and again, and again”: Knowing When to Come Again and When to Switch Up an Exercise

The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jun 05, 2023 Eventing News

USEF Announces Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S at the Strzegom Horse Trials (Poland) from June 21-25, 2023. The team will be under the direction of USEF Eventing Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA