Samantha Farrow, a former British eventer, and NTEC Quooper, a gelding who started his life as a German driving horse, got one step closer to their FEI dreams at the Great American/USDF Region 9 Championships.
Farrow, 47, is originally from Chester, England, but moved to the United States in 2013 for her husband’s job. She met Quooper (Quaterback—Stella) in Texas and hopes to reach the FEI levels with him. The pair are off to a good start; they won the GAIG/USDF Region 9 adult amateur training and adult amateur first level championships in Katy, Texas.
COTH: How did you get NTEC Quooper?
Farrow: Quooper came over from Germany last December. He had originally been a driving horse but didn’t turn out the way they wanted so Kai Handt imported him. He didn’t really know how to steer when he first came over. It was like starting from scratch as if you were riding a 4-year-old instead of a 7-year-old. He’s come leaps and bounds since then.
COTH: What drew you to him?
Farrow: I rode him when he first came over so I got to know him a little before I bought him. He’s got a really lovely temperament, he’s very athletic and powerful, he’s got great gaits. He’s the whole package and very forgiving. And, of course, he’s beautiful to look at.
COTH: What kind of riding experience do you have?
Farrow: I’ve been horse crazy forever. I started out foxhunting in the United Kingdom and then I moved to an eventing barn and thought, “Well, how hard can eventing be?” So I evented for many years, but I’d always been best in dressage.
I stopped eventing when I came to the United States in 2013 because my horse had reached his level and I didn’t want to push him anymore. I could have sold him and bought a higher level horse, but I got to an age where I didn’t want to do cross-country at the higher levels— it hurts too much to fall off once you get past 40. And I’d always loved dressage, loved the training and the psychology behind it.
COTH: What do you do professionally?
Farrow: In the U.K. I was a city planner. I still am a city planner, I’ve kept up with my certification, but it’s very hard to get a job here because they want a U.S. certification. There’s a local high-end boarding kennel and I do all the office work there; they’re flexible and let me work around my riding.
COTH: Was there a big difference between showing in the U.K. and showing in the U.S.?
Farrow: There was a big culture shock coming from U.K. The biggest difference is in that people do more things themselves in the U.K. It’s very rare that someone would bring a trainer to a show unless it’s a really big show. You braid yourself and groom yourself—that’s just the way it is.
Coming over to the States someone warned me that trainers control everything and I saw that, nobody seems to go to a show without a trainer and a groom. Now I do have Kai at most shows, but I keep my horses at home and Kai kind of knows now that I don’t like him being too involved when we’re at the show. He’ll let me warm up on my own and give me a little extra polish just before I go in.
COTH: Does your eventing past affect your dressage riding?
Farrow: I suppose I treat Quooper like an event horse, which Kai doesn’t always like, but I feel it’s important for them to get out of the arena. I trail ride him around the property at home. I do as much work out of the arena as in the arena.
They learn to balance in the canter and trot up and down hills, across rough ground, and after you ask them to do that cantering in the ring is easy.
COTH: Are you going to make a run for nationals?
Farrow: We would love to go to nationals, but I’m not a U.S. citizen, so I can’t. I have a green card and permanent resident status but that’s not sufficient, it has to be citizenship. So we plan to stay in the U.S. and hopefully get our citizenship in 18 months to two years.
COTH: What did these wins mean to you?
Farrow: It means a lot. I’ve been to regionals before on different horses but I really think Quooper can take me up the levels, so it’s exciting to take the first steps with him. Regionals was a goal this year and it was amazing; it was wonderful.
I just had to go in and not think about winning, just think about riding the best I could. My horse really pulled out all the stops for me and just did it. There’s a big atmosphere at regionals, it’s a big ring with people looking down on you, which can be scary for a young horse.
Quooper can be quite a handful on the first day, but this time I felt from him, “OK, I can do this.”
COTH: What are your goals for next year?
Farrow: Next year we’re planning to show second level, teach the flying changes over the winter and keep working toward FEI level. I may go to the Global Dressage Festival (Fla.); I have some friends with a place down there, so we might do some competing.
Like this story? We’re featuring lots of GAIG/USEF Regional winners on www.coth.com—including a neurosurgeon amateur’s bittersweet win, how North Forks Cardi helped his amateur rider overcome nerves, and more. Read about them all!