The Process Is Half The Prize

Apr 15, 2013 - 6:30 AM
Jennie Brannigan is just as excited about her training level horses, like I Bella, as she is about her upcoming performance at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.

Rolex, Rolex, Rolex is all that seems to be on everyone’s minds these days, including my own. But while I’m very excited about Kentucky and getting to compete Ping there, I’m also so excited about how well my lower level horses are going and holding my breath that they’ll continue on a good path for the future.

It’s funny when you think about competing—how it’s always the goal to be going at the upper levels and aiming towards big events. But in the end, I enjoy producing the young horses, and I get such a thrill out of their progress.

When last fall came, I had quite a different string of horses than I do now. I’ve had some of my older upper level horses move on to their next jockeys to teach them as much as they’ve taught me. Both Walkabout and No Objection seem to be in great situations now, and I can’t wait to see each of them out and about eventing. It brings me so much pleasure to have others enjoy them as much as I did, considering they’re both quirky creatures! 

It was interesting for me at The Fork this spring, because I went from having five intermediate and advanced horses last fall to having a whole string of young, up-and-coming horses this season. I was lucky to have three completely different young horses come into my life this winter. Two are owned by Nina and Tim Gardner: I Bella (a former show jumper from West Coast based Ashlee Bond) and Right Above It (who came to me through Flynn Sport Horses and Carol Gee’s Fernhill Sport Horses in Ireland). Both of these horses currently compete at the training level and have been in the ribbons at nearly every show they’ve entered this spring.

As Cool As Ice, or “Casi,” as she’s called in the barn, is owned by longtime supporter Beth Battel. She’s one of the last homebreds Beth will have. This mare is also currently competing training level and has also had impressive results this spring. I also get to ride Gambado, who is owned and bred by Cheryl Gamboney and had two back-to-back training wins this spring.

I find this time exciting, because last fall after competing in Europe I made the decision that I needed to rethink each horse I was competing and realistically consider whether it’s going to be a team-quality horse for the future. In the end, this process of bringing horses through the levels is quite enjoyable for me, and while it takes a long time, it gives me so much pleasure and excitement that I think will make it easier for me to have longevity in this sport.

In the end, it isn’t just about enjoying riding the “big” horses at the upper levels—it’s about enjoying the sport, the up-and-comers, and the journey that it takes to get each one there. 

I hope everyone has knocked off the rust from the winter and is back in action competing and enjoying it! 

All the best,


Brannigan Eventing


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