Monday, May. 27, 2024

The Desperate Horsewives Receive More Rave Reviews At Eastern ATC


Two members from last year’s Eastern ATC novice team step up to the plate to win at training this year, along with two freshman ATC-ers.

Don’t touch that dial! The Desperate Horsewives were at it again this season, earning rave reviews in a new division and with two new cast members.
PUBLISHED

ADVERTISEMENT


Two members from last year’s Eastern ATC novice team step up to the plate to win at training this year, along with two freshman ATC-ers.

Don’t touch that dial! The Desperate Horsewives were at it again this season, earning rave reviews in a new division and with two new cast members.

It all happened at the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club Horse Trials on Aug. 25-26 in Tryon, N.C. Elisabeth Fouche and Abbie Jones renewed their The Chronicle of the Horse/USEA Eastern Adult Team Challenge team and recruited two young guns, Marcea Funk and Kim Keeton.

Fouche’s homebred, 10-year-old Hanoverian mare, Posh, and Jones’ 12-year-old Dutch Warm-blood N 36 Degrees, joined Funk’s 6-year-old Thoroughbred The Dutchmen, and Keeton’s 6-year-old Thoroughbred Wade And Tay.

The Dutchmen not only led the Horsewives to victory, but also had the lowest score of all five training divisions, finishing on his dressage score of 23.5.

“There’s your story!” Jones exclaimed to Funk. “You have a $500 ex-race horse and you won dressage!”
Funk picked The Dutchmen off the track as a 3-year-old. He was emaciated and looked as if he could barely trot, let alone gallop a cross-country course. Needless to say, she brought him back to life and then some.

Funk qualified for the North American Young Riders Championships CCI* in 1999 while training with Darren Chiacchia. Unfortunately, her horse got sick and she was unable to compete. She’s mostly self-guided now and has close inspiration from her husband, Chris Funk, who fostered a booming Young Riders career in the late ’90s.

“This has been a really great experience for [The Dutchmen],” Funk said, “because I’m taking him up to the [American Eventing Championships (Ill.)]. This was a really good prep course.”

Jones added, “The cross-country course was difficult but interesting. The real fun started, though, when we all got over the water jump and only had three fences left.”

Fixing Our Flaws

Keeton also bought Wade And Tay off the track and he became some what of a savior for her. She picked him up the same day her last mare died.

“He was very much a soul saver,” she said sincerely. “I probably wouldn’t have kept riding if he hadn’t been standing in my barn.” That would have left a big hole in her life to say the least. “I’m a horse vet, so I eat, sleep, breath and live horses.”

Jones, on the other hand, is a chemist for Arizona Chemical in Savannah, Ga. The chemistry between her and N 36 Degrees is undeniable.

Before she took his reins, he competed up to intermediate before developing “issues.” His past owners donated him to Georgia Southern University’s equestrian team, but he wasn’t happy there either. He needed a good home.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He wouldn’t jump a log on the ground when I got him,” Jones said. “He’d been over faced. I was just coming back from a long time without a horse. So we started back together and have done really well.”

“We have all worked so hard to get here and fix our flaws,” Fouche said. “Nobody had any regrets [this weekend] except for me losing my way on course.”

If not for that one unused oxer in the show jumping ring, Fouche would have joined Funk in finishing on her dressage score. Of course, it wasn’t fun to add 13 time faults to a previously spotless second-placed score, but it could have been worse if she weren’t quick enough on her toes to serpentine back to the final fence instead of crossing her path.

At least she could pin the slip-up on sleep deprivation. “I was at a high school reunion in another state until 2:30 [the night before],” she reasoned with a chuckle.

Regardless of what Sunday morning brought for any of the Desperate Horsewives, the weekend would have been a hit. Building camaraderie at the “Kick Off” party, shopping at Target for matching polo shirts, walking courses and preparing together became the real weekend victory.

“Doing the team challenge is like a party on your horse with your friends,” Jones said. “It’s like being in Pony Club again, like being a kid again.”

Charlie’s Angels

But what were the other two Horsewives from last year’s team doing that weekend? They weren’t sitting at home watching TV, that’s for sure. They were right there in Tryon reaping their own rave reviews in the novice team division with Charlie’s Angels.

Danielle Hewitt and Anne Wilson were happy enough enjoying their horses at novice so they formed another prime-time team with long-time pals Minge Wiseman and Robert Bezzeg and blew away the competition.

Hewitt and her flashy, 8-year-old, pinto Oldenburg gelding, Mardi Gras, led the charge. Their 24-fault score topped all six novice divisions. It would have been 20 if not for the second-to-last fence in show
jumping. But that rail was practically forgotten as soon as she wrapped a blue sash around “Lenny’s” withers.

Few things please Hewitt more than sitting aboard her handsome little homebred boy, all grown up and decorated with ribbons. Hewitt’s husband Robby is a veterinarian and performed the insemination that brought Lenny to the world.

Lenny is as “loveable and confident” today as he was when he was born, Hewitt said. “He’s the whole package; a real ham,” she added.

Wiseman, on the other hand, opted to adopt. She got hooked on Mr. Starbucks, her 8-year-old, off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding (out of Brewed Decaffeinated), about six years ago.

He was Wiseman’s first and favorite. She’s since adopted 10 ex-race horses, brought them along and sold them to good homes as lower-level event horses.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He had a lot of baggage and took a long time [to bring along],” said Wiseman’s trainer Kathy Faulk.
Wiseman added with an adoring pat on Mr. Starbucks withers, “But he’s turned into such a lovely horse!”

I Couldn’t Do It Without Her

Faulk seemed to have a way with the Charlie’s Angels’ horses and riders. Wilson also trains with her, for almost 20 years now.

She works in banking full time so primarily must concern herself with currency rather than training and riding.
 
“I don’t get to ride except for the weekends,” Wilson explained. “Kathy keeps him in shape for me during the week so I can have fun with him on weekends. Otherwise I couldn’t do it.”

She imported Ringwood Casino, her 8-year-old Irish gelding, sight unseen as a 5-year-old. But it was a pretty safe bet he’d have some talent coming from Ringwood Stud, where Ringwood Cockatoo—Bettina Hoy’s Olympic and World Championship mount—was bred.

“Anne has brought him along from the very beginning,” Faulk said. “He knew how to jump and knew some basic flat work, but that was about it. She’s done everything.”

“I plan to keep him around and, much to other people’s dismay, will keep him at novice,” Wilson said with a laugh. “He could do more, but his mother just doesn’t want to.”

The only member of Charlie’s Angels who doesn’t train with Faulk is Bezzeg. He trains with Beth Perkins and Carol Bishop now, but his wife, Lisa, started him.

She became an unfaltering source of moral support and horsemanship for him, and she still is. Bezzeg lost his left hand in an industrial accident when he was 21. He later met Lisa, who was building a successful eventing career. They married in 1981 and Bezzeg saddled up with his first horse at the age of 30, complete with custom reins designed by his wife to fit his needs.

But it wasn’t as difficult as one might think. “It actually wasn’t any more difficult because I didn’t know how to ride with two hands anyway,” Bezzeg said.

Before he knew it, the show rings and cross-country courses beckoned. His wife coached him at shows and still does while also helping with tasks most riders take for granted, like braiding and tacking.

At Tryon, Bezzeg finished third individually aboard his homebred Thoroughbred, Bedroom Pal. The 6-year-old gelding is by Loyal Pal and out of Bedroom Nashwood.
 
Bezzeg, though, is forever modest. “My wife is the real rider in the family. I’m just along for the ride,” he said brightly. “I couldn’t do it without her.”

Joshua A. Walker

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse