Thursday, October 8, 2015

Galloping with Ping

(From Executive Director Carla Geiersbach):

How much do I love my new job?  A lot!  I just had the best morning ever!  I got to watch Cambalda, aka Ping, winner of last year’s The Dutta Corp FHI CCI3*, complete his last training gallop before leaving for Les 4 Etoiles inPau, France.  Pretty neat that rider Jennie Brannigan is using her Dutta Corp flight that she won last year to get Ping to France!

For today’s gallop, Jennie was on foot to watch Peter Brette gallop Ping.  Peter has ridden all over the world and is now Assistant Trainer at Michael Matz’s Vintage Farm at the Fair Hill Training Center.  Peter was Barbaro’s rider and has consistently galloped Ping for Jennie.  Jennie explained, “Ping was a little cold-blooded and needed to learn to gallop. Peter has done a wonderful job with him.”
Jennie and Steph on the rail at the Fair Hill Training Center

Ok, so it isn’t even 8:15 yet, and I have been in the presence of greatness – Olympic Show Jump Silver Medal winner Michael Matz; Barbaro’s rider and Matz’ Assistant Trainer, Peter Brette; CCI4* rider Jennie Brannigan and her equine partner Cambalda, 2015 US Pan Am Team alternates.  Really?  Does it get any better?

Yup…I got to watch Ping gallop.  Really gallop.  Oh, did I mention Graham Motion’s horses were on the track galloping at the same time?  Truly awesome.

As we stood at the rail watching the horses, Jennie’s assistant trainer, Stephanie Cauffman, explained to me the ins and outs of traveling abroad with a horse.  She is Ping’s travelling companion who will keep him ready and fit to run in France while Jennie competes her three entries at Fair Hill next week.  Stephanie, a CCI2* rider in her own right, handles the intricate arrangements of the trip:  leaving today to overnight at JFK (who KNEW there were stalls at JFK??) to board a KLM flight on Friday for France.  Ping will be in a crate about stall size and Steph will be on a jump seat next to him.  Ping is already a world traveler with a full FEI passport (yes, the horses’ passports get stamped, too…I asked) though this is Steph’s first trans-Atlantic flight. 

Ping galloped past nice and easy…we continued to chat…around again, this time picking up speed…still chatting…then he came around the last turn…no more chatting…just watching Ping gallop FAST.   So very cool. 

Once I stopped being star-struck and came back down to earth I heard Jennie and Peter talking about the gallop and how great Ping felt.  He sure looked happy to me – ears could not go more forward!  Steph was already analyzing the data from the smartphone Peter had carried with him – heart rate on warm up, gallop, and cool down; speed; where all the lines intersected on the graph.  Who knew training horses was so scientific?  The trio was happy.  Ping was happy.  All are ready for France!

Jennie and Ping!

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