Spruce Meadows Week Two

Another guest blog post from Chestnut Hill rider Madison Bradshaw, this one featuring her second week at Spruce Meadows. 

The first week finished up really well as far as the horses were concerned however, the weather continued to deteriorate.

The storms held off for all the divisions except the 1.40m and everyday it poured for the 1.40m.

The worst came when Katina 12 (Kat) went on Friday.  The sky opened up and there was a torrential downpour as we stepped into the ring.  It was so bad that I couldn’t even see fence two.  The following two riders after us pulled up because the visibility was so bad.

Despite the conditions Kat still qualified to compete in the final four, a class where the top four rider from each division ride each of the top four horses over a shortened course.  We however opted out of competing in the final four because of Kat’s upcoming trip to Kentucky.

Sunday was back to normal competition. Fellow Chestnut Hill rider and 1.0M team member Kris Loewenthal and Solo put in a double clean round to finish 5th in the 1.00m Barrage, a fabulous conclusion to the first week at Spruce.

Solo and Katina 12

The competition week two didn’t begin until Thursday.  Fortunately, the rain ceased for the second week, however the absence of rain brought out the giant Spruce Meadows mosquitoes.  Thursday Ithaca (Moofy) was clean in her class and finished 7th in the 1.20m Jr welcome class. Kat put in a 4 fault round and finished just out of the ribbons in the 1.40m. Friday Moofy was clean and finished 3rd in the accumulator and I had a rail on Kat, but we were the fastest of the 4 faulters so we finished 11th.  Just Moofy showed Saturday and she had a rail in the first round, but no one jumped clear so we jumped off four faulters, and although we had the fastest time a rail at the last fence resigned us to 5th.

Although putting in solid trips and placing doing well was amazing, the Spruce experience was even more incredible. The caliber of horses and riders is unmatched at every level, especially in the higher levels.  Every horse there is normally one of the nicest horses on the show grounds but at Spruce they are just average.  I learned so much by watching the best in the world compete in the 1.60m everyday.  Both the US and Canadian teams were there preparing for the Olympics.  It was incredible to watch the best in the world tackle some of the most challenging courses in the world.

Team members Destry Spielberg, Hannah Von Heidegger, Collette, and blog author and Chestnut Hill rider, Madison.

Madison, and team coach Jeff Cook with poster of Chestnut Hill trainer, Beverly Jovais ("Flat Bev")

Another unique factor at Spruce is the community support.  Spectators from Calgary come to all of the Grand Prixs.  It is cool to have the local support and be able to share our sport beyond the equestrian community.  The caliber of Spruce is unmatched by any other show in the Americas in every aspect and that is why it draws riders from all around the world.

Spruce Meadows Guest Post

Today’s Chestnut Hill blog post is again courtesy of rider Madison Bradshaw.  She and fellow-rider Kris Loewenthal traveled up to Canada with assistant trainer John Wohr to compete at the legendary facility, Spruce Meadows.  

The horses  left Sunday afternoon to travel to Spruce Meadows. Each traveled via box stall in Glenn’s trailer for the 30 hour trip.

Each of the four tack trunks was packed to the brim, complete with an itemized list required to cross the border.  They arrived safe and sound midnight Monday/Tuesday.  Despite the long trip, altitude and drastic weather change they held up really well.  Katina 12 literally jumped off of the trailer.  The next day, however, they spent plenty of time resting before their hacks.

Some of the Spruce Meadows residents turned out in one of the 18 rings.

Kat doesn't like Canadian food (I can't blame her). Behind are the tents where the horse are stabled.

The Spruce Meadows facility is truly unmatched in the Americas with its 7 sprawling grass fields.   The show is run on time down to the second and the caliber of horses and riders is incredible.  Just walking around the show grounds it is common to see Rich Fellers hacking Flexible or Beezie Madden on Coral Reef’s Via Volo.  The caliber of competition and the beauty of the facility is truly unfathomable unless you see it first hand.

Jeff Cook, John’s mentor, traveled up here to school us and made a seamless transition in the training program. The first day of showing went extremely well.  Despite only arriving 36 hours prior and never having seen the spooky rings and jumps each horse had just one unlucky rail.  Thursday, team competition day, went even better.  My horse Ithaca (Moofy) had 1 rail in the 1.20m and her team finished fifth.  My other horse, Katina 12’s team qualified to jump both rounds of team competition where she had 1 down in each round to finish sixth.  The highlights of the day however were Kris’s trips.  Her team “NorCal Teens and Queens” qualified to jump both rounds.  Kris put in 2 solid trips with 1 rail in the first round and a clean second round.  At the end of the both rounds there was a 3-way tie for first and they were forced to jump off for the final placings.  After the jump-off, NorCal Teens and Queens came out on top, winning the 1m Prix des Nations competition!

Kris and Solo taking a victory gallop after their big win.

The trip so far has been incredible but there is still a lot more to go with the “Grand Prix” rounds tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather holds out, but that is always a toss up at Spruce, where it is common knowledge that you will get all four seasons in 1 day! Fingers crossed…

Madison Bradshaw Update from Oaks

Grand Prix field at The Oaks

Welcome to guest editor, and fellow Chestnut Hill rider, Madison Bradshaw.  This is her first post for the Chestnut Hill blog, and takes the reader inside her the Blenheim June Classic at The Oaks.  

The four huge grass fields of the Oaks are truly unmatched in California.

We had such a blast down there.  The horses were amazing, rising to the challenge of Linda Allen’s precise courses. The show also played host to the final qualifier for the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships teams, which made the weekend extra intense. The whole show reflected this level of competition. The rounds, although solid in height were not gigantic, but they were deceivingly difficult.  Each round walked straight forward, but if you veered from the Linda’s intended track – even a little – the results proved disastrous.  The horses trying out for young riders also had to follow FEI regulations.  They had to jog for soundness at the beginning of the week and follow FEI medication rules (horses can’t have anything, not even bute).

Kat grazing outside the East Field after the trial

The level of competition was fabulous bringing the best horses and riders on the west coast together. Despite the high level of competition, a unique camaraderie – similar to the one we have at Chestnut Hill, exists between the riders.  All of the kids trying out for Young Riders were there at the ring supporting each other.  One even clucked from the rail to help me out of the combination.  The bond is really unique and it is really cool to be a part of that.

"Flat Bev" with young rider team members Madison, Killian McGrath, Alicia Gasser, and Hannah von Heidegger.

Of course it was not all work.  There was a fair amount of time spent shopping down the long row of fabulous vendors like Allon and EQU Lifestyle.

Carter, Shirley, and Kris shopping at Brown Beauty.

We were all so well-prepared by the Chestnut Hill team.  Our horses looked fantastic from their coats to their performances. Groom Guelano Herrera and Assistant Trainer John Wohr did an incredible job preparing the horses so they could tackle anything that was thrown at them.

Team Chestnut Hill after a super successful week. Not only did we perform well but we did it as a team.

Fellow Chestnut Hill rider Kris Loewenthal had 3 double clear rounds on Solo and a double clear on Ari.  My horse Katina 12 finished as the top qualifier for the Young Rider B team and was second in the $10,000 High Jr/AO classic.  My younger mare Ithaca finished off the trip by winning the $1,200 Mod. Jr/Am jumper classic.  All in all it was a fabulous trip. As Kris said, “everything is good at the Oaks.”






Marvelous Mondays

Hayley's "Right On Time" relives his latest victory gallop in his paddock.

Mondays at the barn are horse heaven. Nobody works. Everyone gets turned out.  Mashes are made. Massages, body work and chiropractic treatments are given. Fun and relaxation is the name of the game.

Gwen's jumper, "Huckleberry" twists and shouts.

Most barns have at least one day a week when the horses just get to be horses – we have Sundays and Mondays.  It never ceases to amaze us just how much our horses enjoy these days, and how much we enjoy their enjoyment.

Emma's "Lucky Charm" strutting his stuff.

Superstar of the AA ring, Gillett's "Illux" kicks up his heels.


Gwen's hunter, "Olympic" makes his move.

'Madison's mare, "Katina 12" does a dance.

Kat's horse, "Sky" floats like a butterfly.

Bev's retired lesson horse, "Tommy" takes it easy.

Ligeia's "Incanto" takes it easier.

Madison's "Lottie" takes it easiest!

What is your horse’s favorite day?



Marguerite Burbank

Our dear friend, avid dog and horse lover, and fellow rider, Marguerite Burbank died suddenly and tragically in a car accident on Friday afternoon while leaving the horse show at Sonoma Horse Park.  She had just finished up doing what she loved – riding her beloved horse Stuart.  (Pictured above: Stuart, husband Russ, daughter Katie, Marguerite, Encore and dogs Molly and Max.)

Marguerite successfully juggled working as a real estate agent at Pacific Union’s Mill Valley office and was an active member and former president of the Rotary Club of Mill Valley. Her family is asking that donations in her memory be sent to the Rotary Club of Mill Valley, http://www.millvalleyrotary.org.

Shortly after arriving at Chestnut Hill several years ago, she took on the daunting task of organizing the annual holiday gift to the barn, which she accomplished quietly and beautifully every year.  One year, she and her husband also volunteered to host the annual barn Christmas party.  She was always looking for ways to help out others, and was quick with a compliment, and a cheery hello (“Hi Sweetie”). We will always treasure her unbridled generosity, kind heart, quick smile and foil-wrapped loaves of homemade banana bread.

Marguerite and Encore (Cheeks).

Marguerite and Stuart.

Marguerite (in the white blouse) at a barn birthday party.

Farewell to a friend.

Spring babies

We at Chestnut Hill do not have a breeding program, but the barn next door does, which is fun. There are a few new little Arabian foals running around that are too adorable.  Here’s a little tyke whose mother is very alert to the fact that they are being watched.

Mom stands guard while the little one relaxes by nursing.  You’ll notice the other foal is totally conked out asleep next to his mother, without a care in the world.  Babies enjoy such profoundly deep naps, it makes some of us jealous!

These miniature horse foals are spending their first days in the tall grass of a farm along Lakeville Highway in Petaluma, and they may just be so dang cute as to be deemed illegal.

This little one looks like Misty of Chincoteague in miniature. (You did read that book didn’t you? More or less than 100 times? Or, was there another horsey book you read a million times over as a kid?)

Fuzzy little one here does not want to let his very tired Mom take a load off, and is trying a variety of nifty moves to get her up on and on her feet so he can nurse.  (Is he a foal or a puppy? Look at that woolly coat! Hysterical.)

Maybe biting her on the ear will work.

Or a front leg over her neck?

He finally won the battle, but we missed the shot.

Hope you enjoyed this little interlude of ridiculously adorable baby horses living in the heaven that is Sonoma County in the springtime!


Springtime friends

Chlarissa and all the horses are getting out to graze on the spring’s glorious grass.  It’s the height of the season, and wildflowers are everywhere.

Reggie is also enjoying the spring grass, and he likes having a next door neighbor.

Reggie wishes he could open the gate!

Chlarissa is curious.

Reggie turns to his pasture-mate, last year’s lamb, Clark, to get advice on how to proceed.


By this time, Chlarissa is busy grazing again.

Bernie Traurig Clinic

Legendary rider, trainer coach and founder of the on-line learning system, Equestriancoach.com, Bernie Traurig, returned to Chestnut Hill for a fantastic two-day clinic. Bernie reached the top of the sport in all three of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines (Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing) was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame in 2009, and is a master teacher and clinician.

He worked tirelessly to connect with each rider, and identified what each person already knew how to do well, so he could build on those basics. He then calmly and with great enthusiasm and encouragement introduced flat and jumping exercises and classic teachings to boost riders’ confidence, and ultimately, their abilities. He also gave numerous mounted demonstrations to provide riders a visual of the points he was stressing.

This was Bernie’s fourth clinic with Chestnut Hill, and he gets better and better every time. Everyone benefitted greatly, and we can’t wait to have him back.

NEW HORSE: Twist n Shout

Congratulations to Sidney Conroy on the lease of fellow-rider Madison Bradshaw’s horse, “Twist n’ Shout.” Look for Sidney and her lovely new mount in the Adult Amateur Hunter and Equitation divisions this year. That’s “Quinn” above with Sidney’s daughter Kelly in the irons, and Quinn standing below with Sidney on the ground and Kelly.  Good luck to this great new team!