I definitely work weekends in my job as rider, trainer, competitor and salesman for Neil Jones Equestrian America and my own Gallop Apace.
Well, I pretty much work every day. A day off is when I give my grooms or barn manager the day off and I just hang out in the barn feeding, grooming and turning out.
Some weekends stand out above the rest, and the Palm Beach Masters [in Wellington, Fla., on Feb. 2-5] was most definitely one of those.
Mighty Mouse, or Cornetiero on paper, had the week off, and I went to see how I would manage doing a little 1.60-meter FEI classes on the grass at the gorgeous Deeridge Farms on Dubai.
I’ve been riding Dubai, (AKA Little Bear) for about a year and we have developed a nice connection. Neil Jones truly helps me to believe I can actually do 1.60-meter and survive. A year ago I would’ve said no way would I be jumping with the big guys over the big sticks in the big international competitions.
But Dubai has the scope, the stride and I had the support of his owner, Sarah Ryan, and my indispensable right-hand woman Lauren Dreyer who is sure the horse is GAME READY.
As I walked the qualifying class on Friday, which had over 100 entries—several with two horses—I thought to myself, ‘OK, if I get around this course that’ll be enough for the week. Who needs Sunday, let’s just make it over this track.’
I somehow managed to exceed my expectations! I jumped clean with only a time fault or two.
Here I thought I would be sitting in the giant two-story VIP tent, wearing jeans and sandals, watching everyone who qualified compete on Sunday. And now I was one of the everyone competing! No sandals on Sunday—I was pulling up my bootstraps and riding that Little Bear around the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier track.
Just me and, oh, Olympians Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden, Cian O’Connor, Ben Maher and a few other veterans.
Now walking the course on Friday was nervewracking enough but on Sunday I was barely breathing. It was HUGE.
I went fifth, and no one had jumped clean when I went in the ring. That Little Bear was a giant rockstar. Aside from a touch of overriding on my part in the triple combination at the very end for 4 faults, we jumped around that tough track. I was ecstatic. So proud of that talented horse, and so appreciative of the tremendous team who got me there. It was quite a ride!
The facility at Deeridge Farms was outstanding, and the images masterfully captured by The Book LLC tell the story. As I said on Instagram @mavisspence, this is what Cloud Nine feels like.
Jumping around my third World Cup class, with only one small error, and then being recognized with the M. Michael Meller Style of Riding Award, it does take a village. Teamwork makes the dream work and my weekend at the Palm Beach Masters was definitely one to remember.
Mavis Spencer is an up-and-coming U.S. show jumper who works for the dealer Neil Jones and runs her own Gallop Apace business. Spencer rode in the jumper, equitation and hunter rings as a junior, then took a few years to work as a groom and barn manager before getting back in the show ring. You can read more about her journey in “One To Watch: Mavis Spencer Has Gone From Grooming To Grand Prix.”