Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

Carvin Gets Back In The Game At HITS Thermal

He’s enjoyed returning to his hunter-riding roots with an impressive regular conformation horse.

Growing up in the junior ranks, Dick Carvin had a picture in his head.

“I had this vision of what a beautiful hunter looks like,” he said.
   
Now, Carvin’s vision isn’t just in his head, it’s in his barn. For Carvin, Back In The Game epitomizes the four-foot hunter.
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He’s enjoyed returning to his hunter-riding roots with an impressive regular conformation horse.

Growing up in the junior ranks, Dick Carvin had a picture in his head.

“I had this vision of what a beautiful hunter looks like,” he said.
   
Now, Carvin’s vision isn’t just in his head, it’s in his barn. For Carvin, Back In The Game epitomizes the four-foot hunter.

“What I like best about him is that he’s everything I’d want in a hunter; every quality you’d want, he has. He’s talented and just drop-dead beautiful,” he said.

Back In The Game and Carvin teamed up to take regular conformation hunter championships for three of the four weeks that they showed at the HITS Thermal Winter Circuit (Calif.), clinching the circuit championship.

“He’s very scopey and has a big stride. It’s nice to know that I can walk into a four-foot class anywhere and lope the lines. The jumps are just so easy for him; they could be bigger, and it wouldn’t make any difference to him. He’s great on big fields and also indoors,” Carvin said.

The bay gelding’s name is only fitting, since he’s the only hunter Carvin shows now. After making his name as a young professional in the hunters, Carvin moved to the jumper ring, leaving the hunters behind. It’s with Back In The Game, or “Corey,” that he’s gotten, well, back in the game.

Carvin found Corey for junior rider and owner Parris Sellon in Florida in 2004, where he was winning in the second year green division with Penny Lombardo.

“He didn’t have much of a first year, so his second year green year was really his first year,” Carvin said. Corey finished 2004 with good ribbons at the fall indoor shows in the second year green division.

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They kept winning in 2005 and ’06 in the regular working division, while Sellon began claiming ribbons on Corey as well in the large junior, 15 and under, division. For 2007, Carvin decided to switch Corey to the conformation classes.

“He had had a little splint, so I’d kept him out of the conformation divisions, but when that got smoothed out, I put him in the conformation because he’s so beautiful,” he said. “He’s very solid now. I can count on him everywhere.”

Sellon has qualified for the indoor shows on Corey each year she’s owned him and has become a consistent force in the junior divisions with him as well.

Carvin has enjoyed his return to his roots in the hunters. As one of six children, Carvin grew up in a horsey area of Northern California.

“The horses would come down the road. Of all the kids, I was the only one who would run out and sit there on the lawn and watch the horses go by,” he recalled. “By the time I was 7, I got to take lessons. My parents saw me liking it and let me keep doing it.”

A solid career in the juniors followed, but Carvin left horses behind to attend the University of California- Berkley. Three years into his college education, horses beckoned again.

“I got an offer to come to Los Angeles and ride for Mike Edrick. I had a year left of college, and I left early to ride hunters for Mike. I did that for four years, and then I thought to myself, ‘I only have one year left of college.’ I was 24 at the time, and I said, ‘I’m going to go finish.’ I packed it all up and moved home and finished school. Then I decided to try something else, so I got my real estate broker’s license and sold real estate for more than three years.”

In those years, Carvin didn’t ride or  show. But he met grand prix rider Francie Steinwedell through mutual friends, and they started dating. And Carvin heard hoof beats again.

“After a while, I wondered, ‘What do I really want to do?’ And I decided to go back to the horses,” he said. “I moved back to L.A., and went back to work for Mike Edrick, and rode hunters for him again for more than three years. By then, Francie and I had gotten married, and we decided to start our own barn.”

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Carvin and Steinwedell-Carvin joined forces with trainer Susie Schroer in Meadow Grove Farm in Lakeview Terrace, Calif. Steinwedell-Carvin has seven jumpers of her own, and Carvin and Schroer train “20 to 25 horses here at Meadow Grove, but we also train the Chad family of Stone Ridge Farm in Canada. They have about 15 showing,” Carvin said.
 
But starting the business in the late ’90s meant a shift in focus for Carvin. “We really focused on the jumpers. And I loved the hunters too much to do them halfway. I felt like I’d be running to the ring and not putting the time into the hunters that they deserved, so I decided to stop hunters altogether,” he said.

Carvin excelled in his new ring as well, riding the Burrows’ Sam Malone to many grand prix victories and in the 2000 and 2001 FEI World Cup Finals.

Back In The Game brought Carvin back to his first love, however.

“When you have one like that, you make the time to get to that ring and really enjoy it,” he said.

Carvin’s not done in the jumper ring, however. He’s got a young grand prix prospect of his own and rides jumpers for China Blue Farm.

The Meadow Grove trainers and students are fixtures at California shows, but this year they’re going to try something different.

“We’re going to [the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.)] this year. When there was talk of WEF going to new facilities, we thought, ‘Let’s go do it before it goes away or moves.’ Or course, now it’s staying put, but we’re really glad we made the decision to do something different this year. I think we have a total of 37 going, so that will keep us busy,” Carvin said.

They plan to be back at the HITS Thermal showgrounds in 2009, however.

“It’s hard to leave a facility you know so well, like Indio. But they grew out of Indio. Thermal was new, and it was a little bit of an adjustment. They have some work to do, but they’re working on it, and we’re optimistic.”

Molly Sorge

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