Lee Kellogg had the old saying “practice makes perfect” in mind when she bought Gratified in the fall of 2005. Purchased as a horse to practice on before showing her other two amateur-owner hunters, Gifted and Duplicated, she never imagined that Gratified would be the horse that she’d take home the amateur-owner, 18-35, championship on at the I Love New York Horse Show, July 5-9 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“When I bought him in the fall, I didn’t really know what to do with him. I just wanted a horse to practice on, so I didn’t expect much from him,” said Kellogg who took lessons on Gratified on Fridays with trainers Rolf and Jennifer Bauersachs during the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Fla., so as not to tire her amateur-owner mounts.
Gratified never showed while in Florida this year and instead hung out in the sun for three months and enjoyed the luxury of never being braided or longed.
In March, after the horses returned to their Frenchtown, N.J., farm, Kellogg, 35, was so preoccupied with work that she didn’t have time to show for several months.
The first horse show back in preparation for the summer circuit, the Bauersachs and Kellogg decided to send all three of her horses to the Hunter Farms Spring Classic in Princeton, N.J., April 27-30.
No stranger to showing, Kellogg, who started riding at the age of 8, grew up in a family of equestrians, so a short hiatus from both riding and the show ring was of little concern.
Both Kellogg’s mother and older brother rode, and she recalled accompanying them out to the barn as a child. “I really wasn’t interested in riding, but I remember the first time I saw a girl come to the farm on a pony–the first pony I had ever seen–and I told my mom I wanted a pony to ride,” said Kellogg. “I had to promise my mom that I would ride for two months before she would buy me a pony. I was addicted from then on.”
Kellogg continued to ride and show throughout college with trainers Sandy and Barry Lobel and then took a break for a few years after entering the working world.
Almost 30 years after her first time on an equine, Kellogg piloted Gratified to several first-place honors during their Hunter Farm show ring debut, convincing her to start showing the horse in the amateur-owners.
“I figured, ‘Why not?’ He’s fun and really easy to ride, and it was obvious that he was fancy enough at three foot,” explained Kellogg, who didn’t have lofty expectations for the12-year-old Oldenburg.
“I really didn’t have a plan for him, so I have to admit I was surprised when we ended up champion. It’s sort of a lark that I’m
showing him at all!”
Back In Black
After competing in the jumper ranks for the past 10 years, Nicole Shahinian Simpson, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., received a phone call from friend and colleague Tom Wright asking her to compete All Seasons Farm’s In The Black in the second year green and regular working hunter divisions at I Love New York.
“He asked me if I wanted to ride a horse for the Lindners, and since I showed junior hunters for them as a kid, I knew it would be a nice horse, so I agreed,” explained Simpson of her decision to fly across the country to Lake Placid.
Familiar with catch riding, Simpson had no problem adjusting her jumper ride to the soft and quiet ride necessitated in the hunter ring. But what did it feel like for her to return to the hunter ring after 10 years?
“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking,” admitted Simpson. “But, it was fun to be part of the Lindner team again. The only pressure I felt was the pressure I put on myself.
“In The Black has a real nice even rhythm and big stride, so he was pretty easy to get on and go,” she added. Simpson knew little about the horse’s history prior to riding him the first day of the show, but the pair clicked instantaneously and took home the championship honors in both divisions, as well as the title of grand hunter champion.
In The Black was purchased after the Tampa, Fla., circuit for Frances Lindner, who plans to debut with the horse in the adult amateur division during the 2007 WEF circuit, also after a 12-year vacation from the show ring.
It was during the Lake Placid Horse Show in 2005 that Wright first noticed In The Black, formerly shown under the name Rock Star, showing with Jack Hardin Towell Jr. for then owner Missy Clark. “In The Black, or Rocky, as we call him, reminded me of a famous old hunter called Arrivederci,” said Wright of his attraction to the 7-year-old, Oldenburg gelding.
Lindner rides the horse while he’s home (he has dual residences in Wellington, Fla., and Cincinnati, Ohio), and so far Wright is optimistic about the match and excited about the upcoming WEF circuit.
“I love showing in Lake Placid, but it’s usually a terrible horse show for me,” said Sarah Levick, of Philadelphia, Pa., who turned her luck around and was champion in the small junior, 16-17, division with her horse Millennium.
During the Lake Placid Horse Show CSI***, June 28-July 2, Levick celebrated her 17th birthday following the culmination of the small junior hunter division. While she didn’t take away the championship, she did succeed in breaking her streak of riding poorly while in the Adirondacks.
The second week, the 15.3-hand Dutch Warmblood Millennium and Levick were on top of their game. The pair finished with two firsts, a second and a fifth out of 13 starters.
“He’s my favorite of my horses because he’s really funny and social in the barn,” said Levick. “He’s very moody, and I can tell when he’s mad and when he’s happy.”
After showing together for three years, the pair have developed quite the camaraderie.
“I love riding and basically everything about the sport from the horses to the people,” said Levick who commutes an hour on the train every day after school to trainer Sissy Wickes’ Yarmouth Stables in West Grove, Pa.
Aside from competing her junior hunter, Levick recently entered the ranks in the junior jumpers with her newest mount, Indoctro. Purchased in early 2006, Levick hopes to move Indoctro up to the high juniors by the end of the summer.
While the junior jumpers are a far cry from her first ride six years ago on the 20-year-old shaggy pony named Ginger, Levick hasn’t forgotten what attracted her to riding in the first place.
“I do whatever it takes to be able to ride every day because I just absolutely love seeing the passion involved in the sport,” she said.
Judging by the number of horses and ponies she rides each day, Jennifer Waxman clearly shares Levick’s enthusiasm for the sport.
Balancing her time between the pony hunter, junior hunter, equitation and jumper rings, Waxman, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, rarely has time to take a deep breath and think about adjusting her ride to fit her latest mount.
As one of the most renowned pony catch riders, Waxman is trying to get her foot in the door to the junior jumpers and leave the pony ring behind her.
“It’s hard,” she said. “I love showing all of the horses and ponies, but I really want to show competitively in the junior jumpers, so I’m hoping this year will be my last in the pony ring.”
Waxman, 14, took home reserve cham-pionship honors on Far Niente Equine’s large pony Grey Goose and also won a class on her large pony, American Dreams.
“I had a lot of fun showing Goose because I showed him last year in the large greens, and I got to see how far he’d come,” she said.
While taking home the reserve championship on Grey Goose was certainly an honor, her dual championship and grand junior hunter title was perhaps a little more gratifying for Waxman. She piloted Whitney Roper’s Sister Parish to the large junior, 15 and under, title as well as Vanity, owned by Becky Gochman, to the small junior, 15 and under, tricolor.
“It was certainly an honor, but my horses were great,” said Waxman a tad sheepishly. “I really owe my success to my trainers, Ken and Emily Smith, my parents, and the rest of the staff at Ashland Farms.”
Her equestrian career blossomed at the age of 5 when she went out to a local stable with her aunts.
“I knew right away that I loved riding,” said Waxman who, during the school year, attends a private school and flies to the horse shows. “It’s really hard during the school year because often I’m only in school two days a week. I manage to keep my grades up, but it certainly isn’t easy.”
When not on the road, Waxman keeps her four horses and two ponies at a stable down the road where she makes a conscious effort to ride them all every day.
All of the practice helps her when it comes time to make quick transitions between mounts and rings. “It’s hard when there are a lot of ring conflicts, and I don’t have a ton of time to think about how I need to adjust my ride,” she said. “Over time, I’ve gotten used to it, but I usually miss the distances the first few jumps when I change horses because I have to figure out their stride.”
For Waxman, the I Love New York Horse Show marks the first time she gave Sister Parish the ride the mare prefers–soft and quiet.
“This was only my fourth show on her, and I felt like we were both more confident with one another. I’ve gotten her program down, softened my ride a little, and learned that less is more–I have a tendency to over-do things,” she added with a giggle.
While she doesn’t get nervous when she competes her own horses, Waxman confessed that she does feel the jitters when she catch rides for other people.
“I always want to do well,” she said. “But I feel more pressure when I ride horses or ponies for other people because I don’t want to let them down.”