Alexis Brown thought for sure there’d been a miscalculation when she checked the scores for the Novice Horse-B division. Her dressage score read 11.7. “I thought it was a misprint,” she said.
“I’m very critical of myself; I thought it was a good test, but I had no idea it was going to score that. When I saw the score, I was joking about it, saying, ‘Oh, that’ll change,’ thinking that they’d done the math wrong, but it didn’t! It was a nice surprise.” Brown’s score of 11.7 would be the equivalent of an 89 percent in a dressage show, and her nearest competition was almost 9 points behind. Her test was littered with 9s and 8s,
And then her dressage leader, Acclimation, jumped clean on cross-country and stadium to finish on that remarkable dressage score in the mare’s first event of her career at the Rocking Horse Winter Horse Trials I on Jan. 23-25.
“The score was unexpected, but she’s well trained and has a great base on the flat,” Brown said. Acclimation, a 10-year-old Trakehner (Ferrari GS—Ada), was shown in dressage up to second level by her former owner, Samantha Savage. Savage had bought the mare as a 3-year-old from her Ontario, Canada, breeders, Galten Farms.
Brown traded another sales horse for Acclimation in May 2014. “[Savage] wanted to do upper level dressage and while this mare has the movement and ability for it, she has a forward-going, brave personality,” Brown said. “She seemed to really like jumping, so that owner decided to find her a home where she jumps. The mare really does love to jump, so I think she has a lot of potential to move up, so it’s kind of exciting.”
Brown didn’t do much with Acclimation last year. “I live in Florida and we don’t really do much over the summer in Florida!” she said. Brown is based in Gainesville. “She had surgery in September to have a small OCD removed from her hock and so she really just came back from that and started jumping in January. I entered her in the event and crossed my fingers. I was surprised we finished on that score. She’s a great horse, but it was her first event, so she was really fantastic.”
Watch Brown and Acclimation’s cross-country round…
While Brown has ridden and evented her whole life, competing to the intermediate levels, she focuses on bringing young horses along at the lower levels. She grew up working for and riding with Trakehner breeders Sue and Terry Williams, the owners of the ‘84 Olympic gold and silver show jumping medalist Abdullah. “I didn’t have a horse of my own growing up and they were wonderful, like second parents to me. They let me ride all of their young horses that were for sale,” Brown said.
“I really like doing the young horses. I’m a professional, but I just enjoy doing the lower levels and producing a nice horse for the regular-riding amateur. I do it for a living, but more on the lower level side. I’ve worked for some great Trakehner breeders promoting their sales horses.”
Brown, 33, has Acclimation entered at training level at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter Series 3 event on Feb. 7-8 and she’s marketing the mare for sale. “I have a great opportunity to take a riding job in Germany and I’m leaving in April. As much as I’d love to keep her, I don’t have the funds to support her while I’m gone. I’m hoping to find her a great home before I leave,” she said.
Brown rode in a clinic with Dr. Christian Schacht last year and was impressed with his teaching. “He happened to be looking for someone to ride his own horses since he travels quite a bit teaching and judging,” she said. “So, I’m going to go over there and ride his horses and work with him, which I’m really excited about. I’m looking forward to learning the whole German program. I don’t take all that many lessons now—I don’t have the funds to do that—so I’m pretty excited to have that much instruction all the time. Hopefully I can learn a lot and bring it all back.”