When Jennifer Wooten decided to retire her four-star veteran, The Good Witch, a year and a half ago, she knew the mare wouldn’t be content sitting in a pasture.
“Pooh” had been around the world, traveling to Europe five times, completing four four-stars, and was short-listed for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
Together with Pooh’s owner, Daisy Tognazzini, and her trainer, Ginny Bryant, Wooten found the 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare her match in 13-year-old Mia Farley.
“Jennifer felt very clearly that ‘The Witch’ was not ready to be retired, so it was very important to find a rider that suited her,” said Bryant. “I knew her, so it was a great transition to make. She seemed to understand [competing at the lower levels] right from the start. She’s a really smart horse and has an amazing work ethic. She loves to work.”
“We both get along very well,” said Farley, Orange County, Calif. “We both have our sass parts!”
Farley had experience at training level on her Appaloosa, Sir Stoney, but she was still excited to get the ride on Pooh.
“I was super-excited, and I wanted to go shopping right when I found out, but it was two months early, so I couldn’t go shopping quite yet!” she said. “I was just breathless, basically.”
While Pooh can be a bit of a handful, she’s taught Farley a lot, and they came to the Nutrena/U.S. Eventing Association American Eventing Championships in Tyler, Texas, fully prepared.
“You learn a lot,” said Farley. “They teach you. She really helps me. She’s hard to ride because she’s got so many buttons, but that’s what I love about her. She’s so high all the time.”
Although Farley was hoping for a better dressage score at AECs, she moved up from ninth to fifth place in the junior training division on the strength of Pooh’s jumping.
“It’s our strongest point,” she said. “Her gallop is amazing, and everything is amazing on cross-country.
“She always needs a longe before dressage,” she explained. “This weekend a bug flew into her face, so she was a little distracted after that. Dressage is probably our most challenging because she has a whole bunch of buttons that I have to be careful not to touch.”
Farley is planning to move up to preliminary soon with the help of Bryant.
“She is just the best horse anyone could ever get, and this weekend was really fun,” she said.