Monday, May. 27, 2024

Bourgeois’ Hard Work Pays Off At The Country Classic

This 16-year-old rider is earning her own way in the grand prix classes.

Kendall Bourgeois didn’t have much time to chat with all of her well-wishers between the first round and jump-off of the $25,000 Team NW Grand Prix.

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This 16-year-old rider is earning her own way in the grand prix classes.

Kendall Bourgeois didn’t have much time to chat with all of her well-wishers between the first round and jump-off of the $25,000 Team NW Grand Prix.

“She got out of the ring after jumping clean in the first round and all of these people were congratulating her. She asked, ‘Can you just hang on one second until I change my studs for the jump-off and then I’ll talk to you?’ It was a priceless moment. There she was with her white breeches, wrench in her pocket, doing her studs,” said trainer Shelley Campf.

Bourgeois ended up third in that grand prix aboard Bon Figlioli, behind Megan Jordan who took first and second aboard Lolita and Top Shelf, respectively.

Bourgeois also won two junior jumper classes during the Country Classic in Wilsonville, Ore., July 8-12. It’s a remarkable effort for a 16-year-old who has learned to make every penny count.

A few years ago, Bourgeois was a typical show rider, with multiple horses on training board and showing week after week. But last year, her family’s circumstances changed. Her father, Jeff Bourgeois, is a builder, and the drop in the housing market meant some changes had to be made.

In the fall of 2008, all of Bourgeois’ horses came home to the family’s property in Sherwood, Ore., and Kendall started caring for them full-time. “In the beginning it was hard—I had to wake up early, and I couldn’t ever sleep in. But now I’m used to it,” Kendall said.

Each morning she begins her day with feeding and cleaning stalls.

“I definitely appreciate riding and showing a lot more now that I’m understanding how much time and effort goes into taking care of horses,” she added. “Before I rode around and did well and loved it, but now I have a whole new perspective on it.”

Not only is Kendall running her own show, she’s also working off lessons and training at Shelley and Jeff Campf’s Oz Inc.

“A lot of kids say, ‘Can I help you with anything?’ And you know that they secretly hope you say no,” Shelley said. “But she always means it. She sets jumps all day whether she’s getting paid or not. She’s hungry to learn, and she’ll do whatever she can to do it.”

Kendall is enormously appreciative of the opportunities the Campfs have given her. “They’ve done so much,” she said. “They always give me horses to hack and practice on, and they help me with my horse. They’ve been so great about making sure it all works out. I can’t even thank them enough.”

Quite A Pair

Kendall had brought Bon Figlioli, nicknamed “Figli,” up from the junior jumpers to the smaller grand prix classes by 2008. In August of last year, they were 10th in the $40,000 Evergreen Classic Grand Prix. But then Kendall had to take a step back from showing.

Figli, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood, was turned out in the pasture at the family’s five-acre property. “This winter, he had some time off while I was focusing on school,” Kendall said. “He had a bit of a break, but I kept riding at [the Campf’s farm] Oz and hacking horses there.

“I became better and better, and when I started bringing him back to work in January, I definitely noticed a difference,” she recalled. “I could tell how all of my bad habits had affected him, and I was able to fix that. And I was determined—I wanted to jump in those big classes. And it all just started coming together.”

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Kendall worked hard, hauling Figli the 30 minutes to Oz to ride and take lessons after school. And since they’ve been showing this summer, it’s rare for them to be out of the ribbons.

“This year, he’s been fabulous and doing very well,” she said. “Figli has been paying for himself all year long. I use the prize money for entries, and it helps with grain and shavings and shoes for all of the horses. He’s kind of supporting the whole team!”

Shelley laughed when talking about Figli and Kendall. “They’re the same personality,” she said. “He’s a little unmanageable and a freak talent with his own ways, but when you show him how to do it correctly, he’s open to suggestion. They’re a pair, those two.

“Kendall has always been a really talented rider, but when they’re talented like that, sometimes they’re difficult to teach. Their way has worked for them, so they’re not as motivated to learn a different way. That had always kind of been the case with her, but now, she’s unbelievable to teach,” Shelley continued.

Asking Questions

Kendall’s thirst for knowledge carries over into her horsemanship. “Jeff and Shelley have been very helpful about teaching me all the ropes in that area. I always ask the vet and farrier questions when they’re out. I’m not shy about it—I ask questions!” she said.

Figli lives at home with Kendall’s hunter, a retired horse and two ponies. “It’s a lot of responsibility. I have to be on top of what they need—when they need to be shod and dewormed. I have to change their feed program depending on how fat or skinny they are. I’ve definitely become more responsible dealing with these kinds of things.’’

Kendall has also discovered that she really enjoys the horse care side of horses.

“There are people out there who don’t even know what their horses eat, and that baffles me,” she said. “I’m so intrigued by all of it. When the vet comes out to work on a horse, I’m so interested. I love to watch and learn about it.”

Kendall’s home facilities are workmanlike, not fancy. She doesn’t even have a ring.

“I have pastures and some small jumps that I play over in the summer. But in the winter it’s too muddy to ride at home, so I haul to Oz. I usually just do that with Figli. The other horses have the winter off. In the summer I ride around the field and take them on a lot of trail rides,” she said.

Her hard work isn’t limited to her own farm and horses. She assists Shelley at Oz with office work and horse show management, gets horses ready for the ring, helps unbraid and put them away after they show and sets lots of jumps.

“She does pretty much anything and everything,” Shelley said. “Her work ethic is unprecedented.”

Old Beyond Her Years

One unexpected benefit of Kendall’s situation is that she’s been spending more time with her father, who now frequently travels to shows to help her. Sometimes Jeff will ship Figli home from a show for the night so he can enjoy some turn-out, and then he’ll bring him back the next morning.

“It’s more fun for me because now I understand how good she is,” Jeff said. “For years, I was always just complaining about how much everything costs so much money. I didn’t go to many shows, and I was kind of against the whole thing because it’s so expensive. But now, having spent the time with Kendall at the shows, I’ve realized that it’s all worth it.”

Kendall agreed, “He’s been a lot more involved—he holds my horse while I walk the course, and he’s learned how to put the horses in the trailer. It’s been nice to have him around.”

Kendall got her driver’s license last summer and has been driving the family’s truck and trailer ever since.

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“She’s old beyond her years,” Jeff said. “We have a shift tractor, so ever since she’s been able to push the clutch in, she’s been driving that around. But she can back that truck and trailer in the driveway perfectly.”

While driving the rig came easily to her, one of Kendall’s biggest challenges has been budgeting.

“I save up and try to buy only things I need. I wasn’t planning on showing much this summer, but since Figli’s been doing so well I’ve been showing more than I’d hoped. I enter classes accordingly. I don’t jump around as many junior jumper classes because there’s not much money there—I try to save him for the big stuff,” she said.

Kendall hopes to repeat her good showing in the Evergreen Classic Grand Prix (Wash.) in August, and she was accepted to ride in the 4-foot division of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Emerging Athletes Level I Training Session in Bend, Ore., on July 20-21.

“I think that Kendall can do nothing but benefit from it at this point. She’s hungry for knowledge, and she knows enough to be able to understand the education she’s getting,” Shelley said.

Special T Gets An Extreme Makeover

Kendall Bourgeois’ junior hunter, Special T, had been living the good life, turned out in a field for a year. But this summer Bourgeois decided it might be fun to take him for a spin.

“I just bring him out every now and then when I feel like showing him,” she said of the 9-year-old. “I started riding him a little bit in the beginning of the summer. Then, I took him to some shows on the schooling days, and [during the Country Classic] I just decided to show him.”

Trainer Shelley Campf laughed when she recalled Bourgeois’ plan.

“She pulled this horse out of the field and brought him to the horse show and asked if I would help her with him. [Our assistant trainer Tara Nicu-lescu] walked up and said, ‘Kendall, you can’t be serious. He’s all bleached out and has guard hairs all over. He looks like a retired horse.’

“Kendall said, ‘Have no fear. He’s going to have an extreme makeover tonight.’ The next day, he looked like a show horse,” said Shelley laughing. “She’d pulled his mane, plucked the guard hairs out by hand, trimmed him up, and given him a good bath. And she was reserve champion in the small junior hunter division and eighth in the $10,000 NW Working Hunter Classic.”

TIDBITS

• Kendall Bourgeois’ sister, Nicole, attends the University of South Carolina on a full riding scholarship and shows with their Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team.

• Kendall understands the struggle to balance responsibilities and fun. “[Taking care of the horses] kind of limits me,” she said. “I don’t hang out at my friends’ houses a whole lot. But if I want to go to a basketball or football game at night, I can set the horses’ feed up and my dad or mom will go out and feed them. They’re great about helping me. They know it’s a lot of work.”

• One of Kendall’s biggest challenges is balancing her time with her horses and schoolwork. “It’s hard, but I talk to my counselors a lot. And my friends are helpful. It’s a lot of late nights doing homework, but it’s worth it,” she said.

• Kendall will be a senior in high school in the fall and plans to take a year off before college to concentrate on riding

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