Past Winners, Future Glory
by Katherine O. Rizzo
Over the past 12 years,
The Equiery has highlighted the accomplishments of Maryland event riders
successfully competing at the Training Level with the Perpetual Combined
Training Award. This annual award was created to not only recognize
those competing at the Training Level, but promote eventing within Maryland
and encourage event riders to aspire to higher levels.
As the sport of eventing has grown in Maryland, so has the requirements
for this award. In 1996, the first year the award was given, there were
only about eight horse trials held in Maryland. That year, to win the
award, the rider had to be a Maryland Combined Training Association
member and compete in at least half of the Maryland recognized horse
trials, which was about four events. Though the MCTA membership requirement
has never changed, “half of the Maryland recognized horse trials”
has grown, and in the last few years, The Equiery has changed the requirement
to at least six events. (See sidebar for the 2009 requirements.)
Six events may seem like a lot; however, past winners have completed
many more than that in a single season. Some have gone on to compete
at the upper levels. Others have continued at Training Level, ever improving
their skills. These are the stories behind the winners, their horses,
their dreams and their accomplishments.
Michele Buford &
As Easy As
Michele Buford and As Easy As were the first winners of the trophy in
1996. Michele owned Weave-A-Dream Farm in Hampstead with her husband
Dave. There they ran a successful eventing stable that hosted multiple
USEA horse trials a year. The couple recently moved their business to
In 1997, Barbara Foose rode As Easy As in several Preliminary events.
She finished second at Menfelt that June and second again at the Virginia
Horse Trials in November. They also competed in Radnor Hunt’s
three-day in the one-star division. The following year, the pair continued
to improve at Preliminary, winning three horse trials and finishing
fourth at Bromont’s three-day event.
Michele is still active within the eventing community.
& Sir Maxwell
In 1997, then 13-year-old Stephanie Butts of Laytonsville won the trophy
aboard Sir Maxwell, affectionately known as “Willy.” Stephanie
rode in her first event in 1992 and has since ridden up through the
Advanced Level. She had only been riding Willy for about a year before
they won the award. “He was phenomenal and helped me out a lot.
I had fun on the flat for the first time, and learned something new
at every event,” she said. Stephanie credited Willy for getting
her interested in the sport and giving her the drive to want to do her
best at every level.
While still eventing Willy at Training level, Stephanie bought Bungee.
At the time, Bungee was only 4 years old. Stephanie’s proudest
moment since winning the award was riding Bungee, a horse she trained
herself, through the Advanced Level. “For sure, riding Z was a
great experience,” she added, referring to her mother Gretchen’s
four-star horse who Stephanie competed at the Advanced level as well.
Now Stephanie really enjoys “starting the young horses and bringing
them along.” She spent the winter competing a few up through Preliminary
and plans to ride some of the younger horses in Young Event Horse competitions
Willy went on to compete with several other riders, including the 2003
trophy winner Alexandra Curtiss. “He was a great horse to teach
people the ropes,” Stephanie said. Willy passed away in 2007 after
teaching countless riders about the joys of eventing.
Curtis Green &
In their first season together, Curtis Green of Derwood and Alterman
won the trophy in 1998. Curtis had been eventing for five years prior
to buying “Moe” and moved the horse up to Preliminary the
Curtis won his first Preliminary horse trials aboard Moe, which was
at Elysian Hills in Virginia. Also in 1999, Curtis and Moe were on the
winning Area II team that competed in the Adult Team Championship.
Curtis never did a one-star with Moe, deciding to retire him at 18 years
old instead. Today, Moe still lives at Curtis’s farm and is a
happy and healthy 26-year-old horse.
Laura Pitts &
Laura Pitts and Luna won the trophy in 1999. That same year, the Dickerson
rider moved Luna up to Preliminary. More recently, Laura has campaigned
several horses at the Novice and Training Levels.
Mindy Soethe &
The 2000 trophy winners were Mindy Soethe of Churc Hill and Deliparad.
That season, the pair moved up to Preliminary, placing second at Waredaca
and Elysian Hills, both in October. The following year, Mindy and Deliparad
continued to compete at the Preliminary Level.
Abigail Gibbon &
In 2001, Abigail Gibbon of Silver Spring won the trophy aboard the Trakenhner
Forever. Highlights of their 2001 season included wins at both Plantation
Field in May and Waredaca in September. They also placed second three
other times that year and third once. In fact, the pair never placed
outside the ribbons in its eight completed horse trials that season;
two of which were at the Preliminary Level.
In 2004, Forever hit the eventing scene once again. This time with Christina
McNemar of New Windsor aboard who placed seventh at Fair Hill in May.
Lizzie Wisner &
Top of the Mast
Before Top of the Mast and Lizzie Wisner of Upperco won the trophy in
2002, the Thoroughbred had been competing up through Intermediate with
owner Karen Elbert of New Jersey. He had won at both Preliminary and
Intermediate with Karen and finished fourth at Advanced with Buck Davidson.
The horse’s success continued with Lizzie aboard in 2003 when
they placed in the ribbons at every Training-level event they entered.
Moving up to Preliminary that same year, Lizzie and Top of the Mast
placed seventh at Flora Lea’s fall horse trials. He was then evented
by Karen’s daughter before sustaining a life-ending injury.
In 2005, Lizzie began to campaign String Me Along, a horse her older
sister had trained. Together they quickly moved up to Preliminary. The
next year, Lizzie started competing Fast Quadrant, another one of her
Today, Lizzie attends Cornell University where she rides on the school’s
polo team and fox hunts String Me Along.
In 2003, Alexandra Curtiss rode her family’s homebred Clydesdale
cross to win the trophy. Alex started eventing Pumpernickel as a 4-year-old
and he was 6 years old the year he won the trophy.
The following year, the pair moved up to Preliminary. “With his
size, he really did not want to run at [Preliminary],” Alex said.
Instead the Curtiss family rode him as a foxhunter, which he still does
today. In 2008, Pumpernickel was brought out of “retirement”
so that Alex could ride him for her “A” rating through Howard
County Pony Club. Her younger sister Molly Curtiss (the 2007 trophy
winner) also rode him that year during her “B” rating. Both
girls were successful in achieving their ratings.
Alex went on to ride Tara Zieglar’s horse Carakat through the
Intermediate Level. Together Alex rode on both the Area II Young Rider
one- and two-star teams. “It was a great experience to represent
the country and the area,” she said. Alex is now finishing college
at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and will be attending
vet school at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. As for Pumpernickel,
“he’s never leaving our barn!” exclaimed Alex.
& Wil’ Ya Love Me
Courtney Sendak of Sparks rode the Connemara Wil’ Ya Love Me,
another winning “Willy,” to earn the 2004 trophy. Courtney
had been eventing since 1998 and owned Willy since he was 2 years old.
Since winning the award, Courtney and Willy have steadily moved up the
levels and represented both Area II and the Maryland Pony Club region
in several national and international competitions.
Just two years after Courtney’s winning season, the pair won a
silver medal as part of the Area II Young Rider one-star team at the
North American Junior Young Riders Championships. At the competition,
they completed the traditional long format three-day with flying colors.
Last year, the pair was on the winning Maryland Region Pony Club Level
3 Show Jumping team. It also won a special award for being the only
pair with five clean championship rounds.
Courtney recently began her own business, which is called Defining Gravity
Eventing. Now competing at Intermediate, she is looking to earn a spot
on this year’s Area II Young Rider two-star team. “I also
want to get my “HA” and “A” through Pony Club
and do the Instructor Certification Program through the United States
Eventing Association,” she said. Courtney added that winning the
trophy “was a great confidence boost that I needed! So many people
have told me I was crazy to compete Willy at Training, and now look
at him: a successful Intermediate horse!”
Teresa Ormsby &
Bryce Be Quick
Teresa Ormsby, now living in York, Pennsylvania, won the trophy on Bryce
Be Quick in 2005. Teresa did not start riding until she was 23 years
old and began her riding career in the hunter ring. After she bought
Bryce in 1994, a hunter trainer advised her that she should either sell
the horse or take up eventing.
Teresa promptly entered her first horse trials. The pair moved up the
levels quickly and competed at Preliminary before ever winning the trophy.
In 2005, Teresa started graduate school at Villa Julie College in Stevenson.
She found it difficult to keep Bryce Preliminary fit and attend classes
so they competed Training only. Her 2005 season was near perfect, placing
in the top six in all but one event entered.
The following year, Teresa focused on completing classes and took a
brief hiatus from competing. Then in 2007, Teresa took another season
off to have her first child. In 2008, the pair returned to eventing
at MCTA where Teresa eased back into things, competing at Novice. This
season, she plans to do the same. “Bryce turned 20 [years old]
this year. The most we’ll do is a Training just for fun. It’s
now about me competing against myself, no other goals,” she said.
Mardi Herman &
Mardi Herman of Darlington had been eventing for about four years before
she and Zoe won the trophy in 2006. Mardi and the then-11-year-old Zoe,
a homebred mare, competed in 10 events that season, one of which was
the Training three-day event at Waredaca where she finished seventh.
The only non-Maryland event in which they competed was the Area II Training
Level Championships, which was held in New Jersey. They finished fourth
at that event.
The following season, the pair moved up to Preliminary and has since
competed at that level for about one and a half seasons. “[Zoe]
was always good; it was more me figuring it out,” she said. Mardi
says the highlight of the pair’s Preliminary career so far was
in 2008 when she completed her first one-star.
Mardi plans to continue competing Zoe at Preliminary this season.
Molly Curtis &
Molly Curtis of Brookeville is the most recent winner of the trophy,
having won the award in 2007 aboard Savannah. That season they competed
in 13 events, seven events in Maryland at the Training level, plus the
Training Three-day at Waredaca.
The pair also moved up to Preliminary that season and represented Howard
County Pony Club at the U.S. Pony Club Championships in Kentucky. The
following season, Molly and Savannah traveled around the U.S. and Canada
competing at both the national and international level. They competed
at the Bromont CCI one-star in Canada and then went to Colorado to represent
the U.S. on the Area II Young Rider team. Molly also passed her Pony
Club “B” rating in 2008.
This year, Molly and Savannah will continue to compete at the Preliminary
Level and would like to grab a spot on the Area II Young Rider team
once again. Molly will be attending Elon University in North Carolina