This summer I had the very rewarding experience of leasing an Otterbein horse, Ginnetts Manricko aka Ricko. Because of the opportunities that Otterbein’s Equestrian Program provides with its lease and half-lease options, I have had the ability to not only achieve several long-term goals I had with the United States Pony Club, but also have a full and very successful competition season as well. I’m extremely grateful for my chance to work with such a talented horse and continue not only his training but improve my own skills as well.
I chose to lease a horse from Otterbein this summer for several reasons. I am an out of state student who is originally from Denver, Colorado. When I came to Otterbein in the fall of 2010, I had my own thoroughbred gelding who I competed in the sport of eventing, in tow. I chose to sell him that winter and since then have relied on Otterbein’s equine program to continue riding consistently. This summer, I chose to stay in Westerville rather than make the trip home to Colorado, and so I took a full lease on Ricko, a horse I had enjoyed riding in the lesson program. My main goals for the summer were to achieve my Pony Club H-A and A national examinations, a goal I have had since I joined Pony Club in 2000. My hope was also to have a horse to lightly compete in the sport of eventing, something I have enjoyed for several years as well. My Pony Club A was a bit of a lofty goal for a new horse but I was excited at the prospect of having a new ‘project’ for the summer.
Ricko is a 10 year old Irish sporthorse who was donated to Otterbein’s program this past winter. He is an incredibly flashy chestnut with lots of “chrome” with the sweetest personality. Working with him has been an incredibly rewarding experience and he has exceeded every goal that I had for him at the beginning of the summer. He has turned out to be a very talented horse who had a very good ‘education’ before his time at Otterbein. With the help of Bruce Mandeville (my advisor, professor and now coach!) Ricko and I have improved our skills at dressage and jumping. The beginning of the summer involved a lot of ‘tune up’ for both of us as we improved our fitness together and were reminded of the training we both have received for several years! After eight weeks we have both progressed in leaps and bounds and have gone from basic dressage and jumping about 3 foot to riding Intermediate eventing dressage tests and jumping 3’9” courses. Ricko and I have forged an extremely rewarding partnership in eight weeks- something that can take months or even years to achieve with some horses.
As far as my summer goals went, Ricko went above and beyond there as well. The ‘A’ USPC rating is a demanding test of both horse and rider. Riders must be able to show advanced work in dressage, show jumping and cross country in front of a panel of national examiners. Many pony clubbers struggle to find a find an appropriate horse for this testing and end up borrowing horses from professionals. It is a pretty intense test, as horses must put up with being ridden for about two-hour long periods of difficult dressage and jumping as well as be well-suited for a ‘switch ride’ with someone who has never ridden them before. For my ‘A’ examination it was just me and one other rider who had a fairly hot thoroughbred with her. The first day that I met her I told her “you are going to love your switch ride, he’ll take good care of you,” and I was right! Ricko and I achieved an exceeds standards on both sections of our flatwork and he passed his switch ride with her as well. He jumped a 3’9” grid with ease earning both of another exceeds standards as well as jumped a large and difficult show-jumping course as well. He was a perfect switch ride in the jumping again and finished off a long and tiring weekend by jumping preliminary level cross-country fences as well. Not too bad for his first pony club rating! There is one section that I am going back to re-test on, but for a national test at this level, Ricko couldn’t have been better.
I have also had success eventing Ricko for fun this summer as well. We have competed at the novice and training level and had lots of success together. Together we have qualified for the American Eventing Championships, which we will be traveling to Georgia in September for, along with another Otterbein owned horse and student! My plan is to move him up to the preliminary level of eventing this fall, something I haven’t been able to do in several years. Because of the partnership we have forged so quickly, I am planning on continuing my lease on Ricko this fall to see what else we can achieve together and so I can continue to enjoy this amazing little horse! The Otterbein Equestrian Program has given me the opportunity to continue to broaden my riding education, something that I came to this school specifically to do. The program is full of wonderful horses who enjoy their jobs and are perfectly suited to help students learn and enjoy the world of riding. I am so grateful for the opportunities Ricko has given me and that the program at Otterbein has so generously allowed me to use him to do so! This summer has been extremely rewarding and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Ginnetts Manricko and I!
Thank you again Otterbein Equestrian Program, we couldn’t have done any of it without you!