Mill Spring, N.C.—April 6
Rachel Wilks didn’t have the usual preparation for her spring season with Great Expectations before heading to The Fork for their first CCI4*-S together.
Wilks, who normally works for Sharon White, spent the winter working for Canadian Olympic dressage rider Jacquie Brooks in Florida.
She took show jump lessons from Jonathon Millar and practiced her jumping at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“On Mondays on my day off I’d go to Ocala, and school cross-country with Sharon then go to some events in Ocala and go back to Wellington,” said Wilks. “It’s been a different lifestyle for [my horses], but it’s been pretty useful.”
Wilks is currently sitting 13th with the gelding, adding just .4 time penalties during today’s show jumping.
Wilks, 25, got “Scooby” as a 5-year-old from J.P. Sheffield in England. She’d ridden to advanced on her former schoolmaster River King, and brought Scooby up from the CCI2*-S level.
He did his first advanced at Rocking Horse Winter II (Florida) in February.
“He’s not the easiest of horses, but he makes it worth it,” she said of the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra—Cusheen Beauty, Aldato). “He has his own personality, and sort of does whatever he wants. It’s a little bit my fault because I let him do whatever he wants. He’s great. He takes care of me.”
Wilks and Scooby completed the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI3*-L (Maryland) last fall, and the gelding has come out much stronger this season.
“People always said that the horses come out differently after a CCI-L, and I thought, yeah, OK,” she said. “It was really interesting for me to take Scooby to Fair Hill last year and do the [CCI3*-L]. He came out this spring and was a different horse. I never quite understood it, and now I really get it. He has a bit more motivation about life, and he gets really excited about it. He’s a bit tricky in the start box, so we’ve been working on how to manage that, but he’s very food motivated, and that worked for the last outing, so we’ll see! Doing Fair Hill has made him a completely different horse in the sense that he has an extra gear when going. He was a bit on the lazier side, and that helped bring that out a bit.”
Wilks has ridden with White for seven years. It started as summers as a working student, then morphed into a full-time job. She graduated from Shenandoah University (Virginia) with a degree in business in December, and it’s come in handy since she does a lot for the business side of White’s Last Frontier Farm.
“I do all of her office stuff,” she said. “I do all her entries, all the ride times, communications with sponsors, her clinic and lesson schedules. I did that all throughout school. It keeps me busy!”
Wilks also keeps busy with Truly Wiley, Kelly Prather’s former five-star partner, and a young horse, Zig Zag 4, who’s doing novice.
“This weekend I want to jump around confidently [with Scooby],” she said. “He’s a very good show jumper if I give him the opportunities. He’s become a very honest cross-country horse as well. He makes it really fun.”
For full results, click here.
We’re on site at The Fork at the Tryon International Equestrian Center all weekend to bring you news, photos and stories. Check out the April 22 print edition of the Chronicle for much more.