Simone Tranfaglia and Theresa Simmons were among the riders that made the two-day trip from Petaluma, California with trainer David Adamo to compete at the 2018 Event at Rebecca Farm. Seventeen-year-old Simone had been working hard for over a year to prepare to compete in her first ever USEA Classic Series Event, the Rebecca Farm Training Three-Day, with Maggie Bronson’s 21-year-old Westphalian gelding Finnegan’s Wake (Abdullah x Seren). Theresa Simmons, who recently retired from working with the California Highway Patrol’s K9 Unit, was planning to compete aboard her own Fred (Cicero’s Ice Water x Winnies Tash xx), a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who she has been competing at the Novice level for the last year.
Preparing to compete in a USEA Classic Series Event is no small feat, requiring months of preparation to obtain qualifications and establish both horse and rider fitness before even sending in an entry form. Needless to say that when Finnegan’s Wake was spun at the first horse inspection for the Training Three-Day, it was a disappointing blow for Simone, who had worked so hard to get there. “This would be devastating for any of us; and to add to the disappointment was that Simone’s entire family, including grandparents, had made the trek to see her compete,” shared Vickie Morse, one of David Adamo’s students who had traveled to Rebecca Farm to spectate and support her fellow teammates.
“Simone is the only junior rider with Adamo Eventing and her ‘older’ teammates always mentor, support, and make her feel she is an equal,” said Denise Tranfaglia, Simone’s mother. “The news of [Simone] not being able to compete affected the entire team.”
Photo courtesy of Theresa Simmons.
Simmons, upon hearing the news that Simone wouldn’t be able to compete, offered up Fred for Simone to ride. “When Theresa told me that she was going to let Simone catch a ride on Fred, needless to say, I was bowled over,” commented Denise. “Simone and I were humbled by her generosity, but politely declined. I mean, who does that? Well, Theresa Simmons does this. She refused our no and it was decided. Theresa, who just hauled five horses over 1,100 miles, would not ride her Fred, but let Simone ride instead.”
As it was after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday by the time Simone’s entry on Fred in the Junior Open Novice division was confirmed, she didn’t have much time to get to know the gelding, whom she had never ridden before. “They got a quick flatwork lesson and that was it,” Denise explained.
“The whole team was on the sidelines as Fred and Simone entered the sandbox,” recalled Denise. “Fred was such a good boy to Simone and Simone was such a great rider to Fred; they ended with a 29.5 on the first day. The team knew then, it was going to be okay.” Although Simone only had her cross-country warm-up to become accustomed to jumping with Fred, they put in a double clean ride across the country on Friday and another double clean round in show jumping on Saturday to take home the fourth place ribbon. “There were a lot of happy tears.”
Simone and Fred posing with Theresa after placing fourth in the Junior Open Novice division at Rebecca Farm. Photo courtesy of Theresa Simmons.
“When Theresa gave up her ride so I could ride at Rebecca, it is one of the most generous acts anyone has ever done for me,” reflected Simone. “I am go grateful I ended up being able to get to ride at the beautiful Rebecca Farm and it is all thanks to Theresa's selfless deed. I am just as happy Fred and I got to have a good and fun ride there. Thanks to Theresa, it was an unforgettable experience.”
“I was happy that I was able to loan Fred to Simone,” said Simmons. “She worked so hard to get to Rebecca Farms. For me, there is always next year!”
“As a mom, I was sad Simone couldn't ride Finn, but absolutely so proud of Simone, of Theresa, of Fred, and our team, Adamo Eventing,” Denise shared. “The lesson about kindness was not lost on me. This act of compassion and generosity lifted us. I know our family will always remember this act of kindness. We have a family tradition to pay it forward. Theresa just reminded us to continue this practice.”
“It is people like Theresa that make this world a better place” Morse concluded. “I think [this kind of story] helps us all remember that human kindness is the best gift we all have to give, receive, and share. I am sure that Simone will always remember this gift, and I look forward to seeing Theresa back in the saddle and galloping cross-country on her boy Fred soon!”
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. Now on Course 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.
There is still time to experience the long format of three-day eventing this year, by competing in a fall USEA Classic Series Event! The USEA Classic Series offers long-format eventing at the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels, and there are still a few left on the fall calendar in various Areas.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.
It is hard to believe it, but Old Tavern Horse Trials is already here. This weekend's event, which runs September 24- September 25, will host over 300 entries, running Beginner Novice through Intermediate.
The 2022 Area IV Championships took place in Wheeler, Wisconsin at the Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials on September 16-18. Four new champions were crowned in four divisions: Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice. Meet your newest USEA Area IV Champions below.