“He is the sweetest.” That is the response all the girls that work for Lynn Symansky gave when asked about her Pan American Games mount, RF Cool Play. Coolio, as he is known in the barn, is an 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding by Condor’s Champion and out of Roxana (by the Trakehner stallion Radscha). He was born and bred in Germany by Johannes-Hinrich Wollesen who runs Reiterhof Wollensen in Süderlügum near the border of Denmark.
Coolio has a cool connection to Symansky’s legendary mount, Donner, as he is owned by the same syndicate. The group of eight members – Sarah Berhalter, Judith Berhalter, Madelyn Curto, Mary Ann Ghadban, Amanda Healy, Molly and Peter Jenkins, Po Tatham, and John Tavana – purchased Coolio in 2016. While Donner has been in the spotlight for the last few years as the traveling reserve for the 2016 Olympics and member of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Team, Coolio has amassed several great results himself.
Coolio was imported by Alexa Perkiel in 2014 and the pair competed through the CIC2* level. With Clayton Fredricks in the irons, he won Pine Top CIC2* and was sixth at Richland Park CCI2*. Since Lynn started riding him, he has had 12 top-five finishes and four wins – including the Virginia CCI2*, the Area II Advanced Championships, and twice at Plantation Field CIC2*. Last year he was seventh in the CIC3* at the WEG test event at The Fork at TIEC and third in the Jersey Fresh CCI3*.
Similar to his syndicate-mate, Coolio is also making his team debut at a Pan American Games (Donner was part of the 2011 gold medal U.S. team in Guadalajara, Mexico). Coolio will be traveling to Lima with Kendyl Tracy who was the 2016 USEA Groom of the Year. Tracy has been working for Symansky since 2014 and in that time has traveled the world with Donner, but this will be her first international trip with Coolio.
“Coolio is a great guy to be around,” says Tracy. “He loves to hack out, graze in his field all night, or just hang out in his stall and have a good cuddle. His absolute favorite thing is his salt lick – he has a massive one compared to all the other horses and he can go through them in no time."
"He isn't too fussed about the other horses," Tracy continued, "but loves his people and his food. He is very food motivated and is the best in the barn at carrot stretches.
Tracy said Coolio can make a bit of a mess in his stall (all of that salt equals a lot of water consumption!) and it can take forever to clean because Coolio always tries to snuggle up and keep his nose on her shoulder.
Despite being well over 17 hands with his large uphill build, Symansky likes to joke that Coolio is actually a German Riding Pony when asked about his breeding, and his smashing good looks and in-your-pocket personality fit the bill quite well!
Coolio’s great attitude in the barn translates to his riding and Symansky says he is the ultimate trier both on the flat and over fences although he internalizes his nerves which has been something she has been working hard on the last few years. “He’s very fancy – almost to an extreme sometimes – so we've been working on getting him to take more in the competition ring, rather than show off his sometimes too extravagant gaits. He’s sensitive, but can also be a bit of a pony as he can also be behind the leg and hold his breath when the nerves get to him (as well as when he’s being girthed up). We’ve been working on getting him to breathe and relax more to show off his true quality . . .”
“He’s an incredibly honest cross-country horse. He has a bit of a unique style in the way he goes, but he wants to be careful, he’s quick-footed, and has an incredible gallop,” concluded Symansky.
In addition to his owners, groom, and rider, Coolio also has lots of people on his team including his vet, Dr. Susan Johns, and his favorite vet tech, Lauren Hagarty. His farrier is Randy Pawlak, who has been shoeing Symansky’s horses since she was in high school. Shelby Crowley and Abigail Fulmer will be staying at home to cheer Coolio on the live stream and to take care of all of his barn mates, but they are also an integral part of his daily care.
The University of Findlay’s Three-Day Eventing Team was established in 2013, the same year USEA voted and approved the USEA intercollegiate program. The UF team has over 30 members encompassing a variety of majors at the university. The team has access to two indoor arenas, a large outdoor arena, and 70 acres of on-site cross-country fences.
Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.