It’s A Family Affair For Webb And FVF Sailor Man At The Pennsylvania National

Oct 22, 2021 - 5:37 PM

Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 22

Most riders who head to a major horse show bring a slew of support staff and perhaps a cheering section, but not Christina Webb. She came to the Pennsylvania National with her sister, Laura Gaither Ulrich, who serves as her trainer and groom, and her mother Shirley Gaither, who was back in the barn to lend a hand.

“We have 100-acre horse farm in Bahama, North Carolina, and my sister’s the professional there,” said Webb, who lives on the farm with her husband and 6-year-old daughter. “So it was just going to be me and one of her other students here, and we said we can do it all ourselves, no problem, we know what to do. We did, but it’s been a tiring week. And I have a full-time job on top of that, so I’ll run back and check email and work on my computer and run back and walk the course.”

web FVF Sailor-Christina Webb PNN_3688
FVF Sailor Man and Christina Webb earned the amateur/amateur-owner jumper championship Friday at the Pennsylvania National. Mollie Bailey Photos

But winning the amateur-owner jumper championship aboard FVF Sailor Man made all that stress worth it for Webb. She sealed her tricolor with a second-placed finish in today’s $10,000 Amateur/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The winners of that class, Grace Thames and Diamaria, claimed the division reserve championship.

“The plan is always to try and win,” Webb said. “I wanted to have a nice, smooth first round, and then in the jump-off there were a couple places I could have been a little quicker, but that’s the sport. That’s part of it. [Thames] had a beautifully smooth round, too, and very fast as well.”

Webb and FVF Sailor Man share a special bond that goes beyond winning championships.

web FVF Sailor-Christina Webb PNN_3487
A second-place finish in today’s classic gave FVF Sailor Man and Christina Webb the division championship.

“My mom bred him, and he was supposed to be my amateur-owner hunter, so she bred to Popeye K to get me a nice hunter,” said Webb of the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood out of Baby Grande. “She has bred all of my horses, pretty much.

“He’s just been a phenomenal horse from the get-go,” Webb continued. “Maryann Charles showed him in the jumpers before me, and I think I’ve been showing him now for two years. He’s been wonderful. We were high amateur horse of the year last year. He’s my pet, and I’m grateful every time I get to ride him.”

web FVF Sailor-Christina Webb  PNN_3484
Christina Webb’s mother bred FVF Sailor Man intending to get a hunter, but she ended up with a top jumper instead.

Webb started out as a hunter rider and just swapped to the other side of the showgrounds about 10 years ago, but “Oliver” is by far her best mount.

While they do have staff at their 30-horse Fox View Farm, Webb and Gaither Ulrich are very involved with the horses’ daily care, including breaking the four or so horses they breed every year.

WEB Grace Thames Diamaria PNN_3604
Grace Thames and Diamaria topped Friday’s $10,000 Amateur/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic to take the reserve ribbon in the division.

“I broke [Oliver],” said Gaither Ulrich. “He was the hardest horse I ever broke. He went around like a pogo stick for the first month.”

At home Oliver lives in a little paddock with two stalls attached with Webb’s daughter’s pony, Alice.

“They go in and out and hang out together, and they’re best buddies until it’s time for food and Oliver doesn’t want to have anything to do with Alice,” Webb said.

“They whinny to each other when one leaves,” she added. “It’s quite sweet.”

web 3 Alexandria Beneson RMF Retro PNN_3515
Alexandria Beneson and RMF Retro finished third in today’s classic.
web 4 Jean Sheptoff MONTE CRISTO VD WITHOEVE PNN_3411
Jean Sheptoff and Monte Cristo VD Withoeve jumped to fourth in today’s classic.

See full 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. 8 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

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