Tryon, NC: You might be hearing a lot about the Four Leaf Clovers in the next couple of weeks, they are going to be SO famous (hope springs eternal!), so who are they? The “Clovers” are an adult amateur team that will be competing at Training Level at the American Eventing Championships (AEC’s) in Tryon, NC on Sept 1-5, 2016….and they are ALL purebred Connemaras!
They are Blue Ridge Breckenridge, owned and ridden by Cynthia Holbrook of Lewsville, NC, Foothills Field Marshall, owned by Donna Duckworth and ridden by Elliott Blackmon of Ocala, FL, Hideaway's Special Delivery, owned and ridden by Cathy Blackmon, Hillsborough, NC, and Valley Creek Carlin LeBeau, owned and ridden by Carla Jimmerson, Alpharetta, GA. We say Connemaras can do it all and it looks like these guys definitely can!
Cathy Blackmon who was instrumental in forming the team had this to say, “All four ponies qualified individually for the AEC’s, 2016. In order to qualify, each pony must complete at least four USEA horse trials at the level with only one XC jump penalty and must place 1st, 2nd or 3rd. It is impressive for four Connemaras to qualify at Training level. (3.3 jump height, 470 mpm XC). Once my daughter, Elliott, and I had ponies qualified we started watching for other purebreds. Carla and Carlin popped up on our radar and then Cynthia and Breck. Our team is so excited to be able to promote our ‘Do It All’ ponies at this prestigious event. We invite anyone attending the AEC's at Tryon to come visit us in the stabling. We hope to have extra copies Pony Quarterly to give out, and will have a display table set up.”
Blue Ridge Breckinridge aka Breck is a 15.1h, 11 year old buckskin gelding by Moxley Duncan out of Hayselden Persephone (2015 Broodmare Hall of Fame). Cynthia explains how he came into her life. “A friend and I decided to go on a trek to look at Connemara stallions to breed to my TB mare. I love playing and working with foals so off we went. When we arrived at Katherine Wilkins’ farm, she showed us her babies and one stood out (the Matt Dillon horse look-a-like for those who remember the show Gunsmoke). So being that I wanted a nice, versatile, small horse to train and break and use for anyone (my husband who likes to trail ride), we decided instead of breeding and waiting for a foal then breaking in a few years, we would just buy this 14.2 hand, (yes, 14.2 and darn it, he grew to 15.1!!) 2 yr old so I could get started.
“We have certainly had our ups and downs! At one point I even considered selling Breck – but something inside me just couldn’t. And here we are after years of hard work, we are enjoying our combined training discipline and trail riding. With the help of two great coaches, support from many of my riding friends, my wonderful husband, and the good Lord willing, I hope to continue working hard at least for a few more years.”
Foothills Field Marshall, known to most everyone as Bruiser, is a 9 year old, 15hh, bay stallion. He is by *Gunsmoke out of Foothills Maybee (X Balmullo’s Beacon). Although Bruiser is owned by Donna Duckworth of Richmond, VA, he actually lives in Florida where he is trained and ridden in horse trials by Elliott Blackmon. He is super talented, both in dressage and jumping, with cross country his absolute favorite. He was originally trained by Luke McLaughlin, now assistant trainer at Lyndon Rife Dressage in Dallas, who showed him to great success. At his first Connemara show at Pine Top Farm in Georgia he won the high-point dressage award with a score in the 70’s. At next year’s Region IV show in Florida, he was the Grand Champion In- Hand as well as dressage star. At his next two shows, USDF recognized Dressage shows, he won every class he entered and qualified for the Regional Championships in Georgia where he was 12th out of 27.
When Luke left Florida for Texas, his training was taken over by Elliott, an event rider, and daughter of Cathy Blackmon who rides Hideaway’s Special Delivery. Elliott also rides and trains another Connemara stallion by *Gunsmoke, WH Top Gun, as well as her own Irish Sport Horse. At Bruiser’s first horse trial, he beat all others in his division by some 20 points and had clean stadium and cross country rounds. He has qualified for the last three years for the American Eventing Championships, although he did not attend in 2015. In 2013 he was the reserve champion in the Beginner Novice division and in 2014 he was 10th in the Novice division. His latest accomplishment was winning the POP one-day event in Ocala on his dressage score of 21!! Besides eventing he has found time to sire six foals, with three on the way, including an embryo-transfer scheduled to be born in the Spring.
Hideaway's Special Delivery is the old man of the group. He is 21 years old this year !! He is a 15 hh grey gelding by Greystone Dallen McMor out of Hideaway's Celebration (x Hideaway's Erin Smithereen ). Cathy says, “Special and I came together when he was coming 9, and at 21 is still going strong. Neither of us had done much. But something happened and the stars lined up for us. He is my once in a life time partner and soulmate. Goodness, we have qualified for AEC's 10 years in a row, competed nine of those years at AEC's, always finishing in the top 1/3 of the competitive field. We have completed Training level Classic long format horse trials which I cannot recommend enough for all Connemara owners. He LOVED the long format and it was such a learning experience for both of us. We have played in the Show Jump arena, up to 1.1 meters, Dressage arena, currently Second level, and of course can also take a bareback trail ride, because that is the essence of the Connemara. They can really "do it all".
“Special and I were lured into the eventing world by my hero/daughter, Elliott Blackmon and for a decade now we have been able to share amazing times, training, competing and just loving our ponies. I am truly blessed by my family, coach and an incredibly athletic pony that has a heart the size of Texas and deserves all the credit.
“His funny things: He loves red grapes, pears, peaches, watermelon, carrots and apples. He loves getting scratched all over, rolls in the pasture and leaving the xc start box!!
“Special has been an ambassador for the Connemara, some of his accomplishments:
- USEF HOTY for Purebred eventing: 2012, 5th, 2013, 5th, 2014, 6th
- USEF HOTY for Purebred jumpers: 2015, 3rd
- AEC Training Level 5th, 2013
- ACPS Hall of Fame 2013, Performance winner, Camlin Trophy
- ACPS Award of Excellence, Eventing
- ACPS Bronze Dressage
- ACPS Bronze Jumpers
Carla Jimmerson has owned Carlin LeBeau from day one. He was born on her farm in Alpharetta Ga in 2005. He is a 14.3hh bay gelding. Says Carla, “I knew he was special the minute I laid eyes on him.” His name Carlin is Irish and means Little Champion. LeBeau comes from his sire, Heaven's Ridge Patrick LeBeau. LeBeau means beautiful. This is very fitting because he is my beautiful little champion. His dam is Beacon's Cherubin Cathleen (X Balmullo’s Beacon). Raising him from a foal has been very special and we have such a strong bond. In 2012 we started eventing and in his very first year he won Region Champion with USEA region 3. That same year he qualified for AEC's and was 11th in the Beginner Novice division. He qualified again in 2013, 2014, and 2015 in Novice division placing 8th in 2013 and 2014. He has also done very well in dressage and qualified to show in the 2015 USDF Region championships. This year we have moved up to Training level and he was 8th in Region Championships for region 3. We are looking forward to 2016 AEC’s and riding with 3 other awesome Connemara ponies as a team representing ACPS!”
It is interesting to note that Bruiser and Carlin are related through Balmullo’s Beacon, and Carlin and Special are related through Dallen McMor.