The 2-year-old carries on a long winning tradition.
This spring, Capitol Hill caught Kenny Wheeler’s eye. And he’s spent the summer winning for Wheeler
Capitol Hill (Nob Hill—Pardon Me Mister, Mr. Inspector) followed up his Devon Horse Show (Pa.) Best Young Horse title by taking the crown of the Sallie B. Wheeler National Hunter Breeding Championship.
“He moves just about as good as a horse can move,” Wheeler said of the flashy bay, 2-year-old gelding. “He’s just a lovely horse.”
The national title is named for Wheeler’s late wife, Sallie, a legend herself in the show ring. “It’s a great, great honor to win this; I’m tickled to death,” Wheeler said. “She was a great judge of horses, and we always enjoyed specializing in the young horses together.”
Wheeler bought Capitol Hill in March from breeder Diana Dodge, who stands his sire, Nob Hill.
Last year’s Sallie B. Wheeler National title winner—Wheeler’s Spanish Spear—showed over fences in the International Hunter Futurity East Coast regional competition and took the reserve championship in the 3-year-old division.
In the Sallie B. Wheeler National Hunter Breeding Championship, the judges—this year Randy Roy and Otis Brown—evaluate horses on each coast on the same weekend and then declare an overall national winner. Capitol Hill won the Best Young Horse title at the East Coast phase during the Warrenton Horse Show in Warrenton, Va., on Sept. 1.
A New Challenge
Three days before, on Aug. 29, Roy and Brown had been in Del Mar, Calif., at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Classic.
And while Wheeler is certainly a familiar face at the front of the line in the breeding division, there was a lesser-known name holding the reins of C’czar, who earned the Best Young Horse title in the West Coast phase of the championship and was named the overall reserve champion.
Hope Glynn showed C’czar (Alla Czar—Bazalgreg, Gergorian) to the win. Glynn is a relative newcomer to the hunter breeding divisions, though she’s a well-established hunter/jumper trainer.
“It was overwhelmingly exciting for me. I’ve had the opportunity to win a lot of exciting classes, but this was a whole new element for me,” Glynn said. “There were a ton of people in the breeding business there for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration, so for me to be able to win in that company gave me an especially good feeling.”
Glynn found C’czar, a 3-year-old Oldenburg gelding, for owner Helen McEvoy in June. McEvoy’s mother wanted her 14-year-old daughter to expand her horizons.
“She said, ‘I’d really like for my daughter to see what it takes to bring a horse along and make it into a made horse, because the only thing she’s ever seen are horses that have been there and done that.’ It was very exciting for me, because we have a large show barn, but we don’t have very many babies; they’re all going show horses,” Glynn said.
Glynn went on the hunt for a nice 3-year-old and learned of C’czar. Lolo Thimell of Olathe, Kan., had bought the striking chestnut as a yearling from the breeder, South Point Farms in Belton, Mo., and brought him along. Glynn advised the McEvoys to buy him just from seeing a sales video.
“Lolo sent me a video that wasn’t your typical sales video,” she said. “She was riding him in a pasture and then walking him into a trailer. She showed grooming him, washing him, loading and unloading, everything.
“We said, if this horse has this much quality and has had this much attention, it’s probably worth us spending the time with him. We brought him back, and it just happened that conformationally he’s lovely as well,” Glynn continued.
“He’s been a gem to work with and a really quality young horse. I have to give a lot of credit to Lolo—he’s well-mannered for a 3-year-old. I have two other 3-year-olds in the barn now, and they don’t steer so well. He’s an exceptional young horse.”
C’czar came with a note with the usual shoeing, feeding and working instructions, but “on the back was a note from Lolo saying ‘By the way, he really enjoys a cold beer after a horse show.’ I laughed, but he can drink beer out of a bottle, and he loves it. Most people tell you ‘He loves peppermints, or carrots,’ but this one looks for beer. Only me! I don’t even drink, but I get a horse that does,” Glynn said.
Thimell had shown C’czar lightly on the line as a 2-year-old. “He’s almost 16.3 now, so he was kind of butt-high and a little thin last year. He’s really developed into a good-looking performance type,” Glynn said.
“The appealing thing is that now you can see almost a finished product. He’s developed and tall; he looks like a 6-year-old horse in a 3-year-old body. He’s got beautiful long legs and a beautiful forward trot. I think being able to trot across a big ring like at Showpark probably really helped us; I think his trot made the difference for us.”
Glynn only had three months to get to know C’czar, so she took him along to shows even where there weren’t hunter breeding classes, to experience the show environment and hack around. C’czar and Glynn also competed in the International Hunter Futurity East Coast Regional competition, and Glynn plans to ship him to Kentucky for the IHF Finals in late September.
Glynn showed ponies on the line when she was young, but her professional career at her farm in Petaluma, Calif., concentrates on older horses. She usually focuses on the hunters in the barn of 35 horses in training, while her husband, Ned, works with the jumpers. She’s hoping to continue branching out into the hunter breeding.
“You have the greats, who always win. And they win because they continue to bring back beautiful, wonderful animals,” she said. “I think, in some ways, having someone different win on the West Coast brought recognition to that fact that you can be a hunter and jumper trainer, not a breeder, and get into this. You don’t have be a full-time breeder, but just a trainer with a nice young horse, to support the hunter breeding division.”
The long-term goal for C’czar is a performance career, first with Glynn and later with McEvoy. And while she’s waiting to take over the reins, McEvoy, who currently shows in the children’s hunters and equitation divisions, has been involved in C’czar’s training.
“She comes out to the barn one afternoon during the week and on the weekends,” Glynn said. “She grooms the horses and tacks them up for me. Part of what I want to teach her is the exercises we use to teach young horses—lead changes and over fences. She’ll come out and watch me ride, and she’ll help me set a course or a gymnastic line. She’s about as hands-on as she can be at this stage. If C’czar is having a day when his concentration isn’t the best, she takes him out and hand-grazes him, so that he gets out and does something that’s positive.
“I think in this sport you can all too easily lose sight of all the time and energy you have to put into it and how special the horse has to be to become a really good, consistent performance horse. I admire her parents for saying, ‘We don’t want to put her on a young, green horse, since that’s not safe, but we’d like her to be involved in the process and see the horse come along.’ ”