We recently returned home from a wonderful weekend at the Young Horse Show Finals (YHS) where we had taken a herd of 12 horses comprised of 7 stallions and 5 mares. Let me tell you loading all of those horses onto a semi was nerve wracking, but they could not have behaved any better. YHS is a young organization and AliBoo Farm really wanted to show our support for it as well as gain the experience for our young ones. Just like any horse show, hiccups occurred throughout the weekend, yet they were immediately attended to. I really have to commend Jean Yves Tola the founder and manager of these shows for running a great show. What makes these shows different from 90% of the other shows I have been to over the years is that he (Jean Yves) actually listens and efforts to find immediate solutions. He also takes suggestions to heart and wants to make this the best and safest learning environment for the horses. These shows are all about the horses, not just making money. The other aspect that I love is you can go talk to the judges at the end of the day and ask whatever questions you would like and they will give you a thorough and honest answer. They are happy to educate!
Not only was the show itself ran very nicely but as Katie mentioned in her article, it was also a fun atmosphere. The camaraderie that the exhibitors, handlers, and spectators shared at this event made it a great place to go and show. Of course, we were all stressed about our young horses and want them to do well but on the same token, we realize they are young horses. The handlers made it a great experience for the young ones because they were experienced professionals who handle the horses in a relaxed and beautiful manner. I said to Jean Yves while at the horse show that the beauty of this show is the “boutique” atmosphere, or the fact that there are not 500 horses here competing. It gave everyone a chance to make new acquaintances, forge new relationships, as well as reconnect with old friends. You never know who you will find here with a young horse. Sharer Dale, is a professional whom I knew many years ago and have not seen in 10 years. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out she was stabled next to us with her new young project.
You will not just find breeders at these horse shows. There are riders, owners, and even interested buyers who come to check out what is available. I met so many new contacts that will stay with me for life and who were great to meet as a young professional.
It does not hurt that Spy Coast has the comic relief from the Irish Contingent who make everything more fun. Truly though, Spy Coast has an amazing team who helped step up to volunteer and make everyone feel at home. I jokingly said to Laurie, the barn manager that I was just going to move in; not only because it is a beautiful farm, but also because the people there make it such a great atmosphere.
Friday was a qualifier, with the finals held on Saturday. There were about 65-70 horses that competed over the course of the two days and I was totally impressed with the quality there. These were super nice young ones and you can really see the quality improving with our breeding here in the states.
There will always be people out there who are skeptics and do not understand the value of free jumping young stock or having these shows for them to gain experience. These shows are truly professionally run and the people that are here competing are true professionals. I think I saw some tall boots here that were shinier than those I see in the equitation ring at Wellington. The horses were beautifully turned out and behaved very nicely during these two days of windy, fall weather.
I had 4 three year old stallions here that I have never ridden off the farm and surrounding trails before. This is something I know that I need to work on; taking them on field trips, there just never seems to be enough time. Yet, they were awesome, they were excited and fresh, but they held themselves together beautifully and unlike at a rated horse show, people understand the youngness here. That is why these shows were started, so that young horses could have a place to go and be young, where they could get experience. I must say though, kudos to the dressage farms here whose young horses were awesome to watch and acted like pros. If I did not know better I would have thought these 3 year olds were 6. They made us jumper riders have to step our game up.
I could not have been more proud of my babies during this weekend, they all performed beautifully and I am so excited to be part of their future. They are like my kids and this was their first big school assignment. Diamant d’Heure ABF or Wilbur (Diamant d’Semilly x Rio Grande) as we call him won the 3 year old free jumping final and was also approved with the NAS Studbook; we will begin collecting him this year. It was even more of a proud moment for all of us at AliBoo Farm because he was our first colt born here at AliBoo Farm out of a mare we also bred. He is the grandson of my first jumper and I have very high hopes for him. Another of our approved stallions, Carrasca Z (Asca Z x Calato), bred by Hyperion Stud and purchased as a weanling, was the reserve champion; he will also be collected this year. Carrasca or Hank as we call him is a true GQ man and everyone there stopped to stare when he showed off his athletic ability in the schooling ring. Calano Z (Calato x Calvaro), a 2 yr. old colt bred by Piet Janssen and again purchased as a weanling, won both the 2 year old free jumping qualifier and the finals. He was amazing; they all were.
All of the other young horses received great ribbons and great scores with lots of wonderful feedback. My goal was achieved!! My sister has a beautiful 3-year-old mare, Cosmea, that I picked out for her as a foal; last year and this year she led the qualifiers in the free jumping. As sisters are, we are super competitive and she kept telling me she her mare was going to score higher than my boys at the final. Luckily, my boys pulled through and were amazing!
I am already excited about going back next year to the qualifiers and finals.