The Gossip Girls – The Girls…


WE have spent most of the winter flying around in THE PHELPS SPORTS JET ! Here is a bit about our winter adventures…

MUST say the that the PALM BEACH MASTERS is great… Over the top in fact ! The two story tent and the amazing food ! Pretty photographs taken by PEGGY JACOBS hanging from the ceiling of the tent.

The ring is lovely. Just taking a walk around the grounds is amazing and the people who maintain them do an great job. Opening their DEERIDGE FARM to create a few weeks of top competition is gift to everyone…

OUR only complaint is about the exhibitors who threw their trash on the ground. There isn’t any excuse to leave your coffee cups or sandwich wrappers in the schooling area – or anywhere on the grounds!

WE loved seeing the show officials dressed in coats and ties. The fact that the JACOBS FAMILY is there to present trophies and ribbons is so nice! Nice shops – Fun to see B.J. and PABLO with their one of a kind treasures.

NOT only were the world’s top riders there to compete, but there were classes for young riders and horses.

A FEW DAYS later, the hunters had their opportunity to show in the huge ring…

Private Practice and Tori Colvin

TORI COLVIN once again showed the competition how it is done as she cantered around the ring… She rides so beautifully – almost an old-fashioned style – lovely release – no death grip on the reins… Trust us Darlings – It is much more difficult to hunt on down to a jump on a light rein than hanging on for dear life while desperately looking for some sort of a distance. She lets the horse be a horse without ever letting anyone see her corrections.

WHILE there might have been scheduling difficulties, those are something that are easily fixed… If everyone had gotten their entries in on time those scheduling problems might not have existed…..

Shame on the pony folks who certainly didn’t support the event – WE wouldn’t be surprised if they are dropped from next year’s schedule – just our own thought.

Ian Millar and Dixson
Ian Millar and Dixson

OCALA was home to a 5* competition including a Nations Cup… Best part of that day was watching IAN MILLAR ride double clear rounds for Canada’s win… Later, ERIC LAMAZE equaled his teammates feat and they split a big cash prize for riders who go double clear in the Nations Cup class. There was something very special watching IAN’S expression as he walked out of the ring on a GRANGE FAMILY horse…

WE don’t know how many more Nations Cup double clear rounds IAN has in his back pocket, but WE will enjoy each and every one. WE well remember when IAN first started riding in the big time jumper classes with RANDY ROY at his side…

IAN has always been a terrific ambassador for the sport – he always takes a few moments to speak with spectators about his horses, gives them that good old smile, looks them in the eye and shakes their hand – he treats each person as though it is his special honor to speak with them…

He is most deserving of the title CAPTAIN CANADA.

TRACY FENNEY rode the pants off her big gray horse for a win in the Grand Prix… Her husband, MIKE MCCORMICK, had knee surgery in Texas a couple weeks prior and then contracted the flu… He lost about twenty pounds, had a pretty good limp, and spent weeks recovering in their motor home. He dragged himself out his sick bed to help school the horses for the big class – there is nothing like a win to bring a smile to your face and make you feel better.

WE heard there were a more than a few comments made when one of ” the top powers that be ” was in his car and out the Ocala driveway before the last horse was out of the ring… even though he was supposed to be in the ring for presentations.

OUCH ! WE hear that HEATHER CARISTO WILLIAMS had a fall in a speed class and suffered a broken shoulder… No surgery for HEATHER but she will on the sidelines for a while….

A local Dr. was quoted as saying he had done four surgeries involving riders on a single day and this year appeared have the most injuries to riders that he could remember.

OH NO !! How could any horse show cancel their show two weeks early and tell all the officials it was because of bad weather?? Do these folks have a crystal ball? The word on the street is that their entries were low and they didn’t want to take a financial hit. Couldn’t be the weather as the show is weeks away…. It is bad form to brag on social media how much money ya spent on yer new facility & what a wonderful thing you are doing for the area and then stiff the officials and leave those who sent in their entries hanging.

USUALLY, when a show has to cancel for real reasons, they immediately offer the officials for another date – not just leave them hung out to dry. This is another thing that makes US wonder what will happen when big box horse shows rule the world.

WE HEAR that RICHARD FELDMAN passed away recently… He owned Bet Twice who won the Belmont Stakes, was a foxhunter, and a member of The Lake Placid Hall of Fame. He rode every day – often with an exhibitor or the parent of a pony rider. His horses lived just ‘cross the creek from the horse show grounds…

He was the strength behind the LAKE PLACID HORSE SHOWS for many years…. He was everywhere on the grounds from watching the tiny kids to applauding the jumper riders… Holding a meeting with the committee or exhibitors to find out how to improve the show…

He awarded the ribbons and placed the Championship coolers on each of the winners with the care of a presenter placing an Olympic Gold Medal around an athlete’s neck … He treated the lead line and short stirrup riders as through they were winners of the medal finals… His lovely wife DIANA was always by his side… More horse shows need a RICHARD FELDMAN…

PHILLIP RICHTER is the new President of the LAKE PLAICD HORSE SHOWS… Time for everyone to offer him all the help you can. He has tall boots to fill.

WE HEAR that LINDA VASS hasn’t been feeling the best recently… She rode for her father, JOHN VASS, and later went on to a professional career. Few girls were as brave as LINDA who broke and galloped race horses and showed her own SUGAR EXPRESS and her father’s PHA winner OKLAHOMA in the big jumper division with great success. Give her a call or send a note.

THE ANNUAL GROOMS’ REUNION was recently held in Wellington… This is a great evening with lots of stories, pictures, food and a little, well maybe more than a little drinking… JIMMY HERRING served as ringmaster… From GEORGE MORRIS to GEORGIA COYLE… MICHELLE GRUBB to BOBBY KNEE ( CARL KNEE’S SON )… A veritable Who’s Who of horsedom… If you are ever lucky enough to get an invite don’t turn it down !!

RONNIE FRANKLIN, a high school drop out at the age of sixteen, who went on to win major races across the country passed away recently at the age of 58 from lung cancer… With more than 1,403 wins and $14 million in prize money when he retired… Best known for his great wins on SPECTACULAR BID who was trained by BUDDY DELP.

ONE of the finest parents to ever come to the horse shows, SETH B. FRENCH, jr., passed away recently… MR. FRENCH was a lovely gentleman who always had a quiet hello and a charming smile – even for those who barely knew him. He loved watching his daughter, BUNNY, show her hunters and was ringside whenever possible. Condolences to the family.

A clinic for the Hunter Breeding judges was recently held at EMIL SPADONE’S breeding farm in Ocala, Florida… His staff did an outstanding job presenting the young horses – no easy job ! It was fun to see the foals led out, several were only a few days old and were amazingly well-behaved.

WE enjoyed sitting and listening from the side, but had to question the idea that the judges were in the ring to teach the exhibitors. Every exhibitor needs to make an effort learn. Good horsemanship and knowledge are best learned at the knee of expert horsemen – not looking at the judge’s card after a class…

Judges are paid to judge the horse show not teach a clinic in every class and place the horses in the class in the best order they can – that is your lesson.

MAKING UP your own horses is a concept lost to most riders today… Most would rather hop on a plane and go to Europe and see what’s available…. One of the best guys ever when it came to scouting the good American horses was a man named IRA SCHULMAN. Read on….

IRA SCHULMAN, a life long horseman, grew up on Long Island, New York, in the same era and area as BENNY O’MEARA, MIKEY COHEN and RALPH CARISTO – was there something in the water?? Starting out, he did everything from selling tack at BUNCHY GRANT’S weekly auction to walking the shed rows at the race track looking for the slow ones that he could fix up and sell.

Along the way, IRA had the good luck to meet a man who would become his life-long friend and business partner, DAVID HOPPER…

They were joined at the hip – it was always IRA & DAVID or DAVID & IRA… They became one of the places to shop for horses.

IRA had an uncanny eye for a horse – looking at horses was like panning for gold.

Beyond the horses, IRA had a great sense of humor and could joke about himself as “The Jewish Cowboy”. He was thoughtful and when his friends had problems – he was never too busy for a ‘phone call or to drive over to check in and say hello.

For the past few years, IRA fought a long, valiant fight with cancer… Still buying and selling horses and becoming involved with the Retired Racehorse Project…

He had made peace with his disease, and at a recent meeting with his pals while in Kentucky, when he came up with a name no one else recognized IRA said, “Don’t worry – you’ll meet him at the funeral”.

Always looking for the next nice horse, IRA bought two thoroughbred just weeks before he passed away… ” Nice ones ” his friends said.

Everyone has a good IRA story… Stop and listen because they are stories about a great horseman and a kind soul….

WE ARE sorry this note from us has so much sadness…

But perhaps it is a wake up call for the people in the sport – silly us still calling it a sport – to sit up and listen to those who came before. The horsemen who went to New Holland to buy a cheap horse, who spent every available moment to learn at the stable, who rode every horse offered to them, who listened to every word that came from great horsemen…

Anyone can learn to ride a horse – few will learn to be a horseman.



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