Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 21
Christina Webb has a habit every time she swings a leg over FVF Sailor Man’s back.
“He owes me absolutely nothing,” she said. “I’ve had him his whole life. I tell him that every day that I ride him—how special he is and how he owes me absolutely nothing. Whenever something goes wrong, I always ask him if he doesn’t want to do it anymore. He could just go out to the pasture and that’d be it, but you can see he loves it. I definitely always ask him, and as soon as he tells me he’s had enough he knows he has his retirement on our farm for the rest of his life.”
“Oliver” has been a part of Webb’s life since birth. Her mom bred the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Popeye K—Baby Grande) with hopes that he’d be a nice hunter. But Maryann Charles, who trained Webb and her sister, Laura Gaither Ulrich, at the time, saw his potential for the jumper ring and eventually rode him to the grand prix level.
“He’s just a very special horse,” Webb said. “I never thought I’d be able to repeat anything that she did, and it just makes everything that much better.”
The pair hit a bit of a couple of rough patches over the summer, so Webb was thrilled when they were able to pull things together at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. They earned second and third in their first two amateur jumper classes, and a win in the $10,000 Amateur Jumper Classic boosted them to the amateur jumper championship for the second time. Webb was also named leading amateur rider.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It’s always an honor to show here and ride here. Actually, we won last year, so it was like extra pressure. So I’m glad it all came together. I wasn’t so sure it was going to happen, but we managed to pull it off, so that was great.”
Webb, 39, Bahama, North Carolina, qualified both Oliver and her other mount Caillou VL for the jump-off, with Oliver as the last to go. When none of the other riders were able to produce a clear round, Webb could go for the careful clear.
“He’s a very fast horse, so I basically just have to contain it,” she said. “And I mean, he was ready to go out there and go fast. I think I kind of caught him by surprise because he always knows when it’s jump-off time, and he was like, ‘Why aren’t we going?’ I was able to calm him down and just try to have a smooth round, be efficient, nothing crazy. Try not to take any chances. It’s hard enough to just go out there and do it.”
Find results here. Want more Pennsylvania National? The Chronicle will be on the scene through grand prix night bringing you photos and stories. Plus see more analysis from the Pennsylvania National in the Nov. 7 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.