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Farewell Gerd Zuther

 

It’s with a very heavy heart that we say goodbye to an incredible member of Team Thailand and a wonderful coach and mentor, Gerd Zuther.

Gerd was an incredibly kind human being and the embodiment of true horsemanship. I first began training with him in 1-2 day clinics and his disciplined approach and firm belief in understanding the fundamentals resulted in an immediate change in how I approached dressage. Gerd helped me so much in the years leading up to the Olympics, developing not just my skills but also my mindset when approaching the arena. He worked with me to think about training both in the saddle and on the ground, teaching me to think critically about my own actions as a rider and understand how those translated to my horses.

It was incredible to watch him work with each horse, understanding the nuances of their personalities (and quirks ) and what they needed to flourish. Every step of the way, Gerd was with us, teaching not just a sport, but a way of life (which earned him the loving nickname “Sensei”).

Whether it was whispering sweet German words into Leon’s ear, or chasing Jazz down to the arena asking him to please, for once “just keep your head still!”, Gerd would do so with an exuberance and energy that amazed us all.

And it’s this light that we will miss most.

So thank you Gerd for spending so many early warm-ups, muddy show days, long barn nights, and Thai family dinners with us.

And to Yvonne Zuther and your beautiful family, we are sending so much love. Thank you for your help bringing Gerd into our lives. We are all the better for it.

Love,

Nina and Team Thailand

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Farewell Fernhill Fearless

This weekend, we lost one of the most incredible, lovable, and talented horses I’ve ever known. It’s with a very heavy heart I write that Sunday evening, Fernhill Fearless (or more fondly, Sparky) was laid to rest after a stable accident.

It’s difficult to find the words to express how sad and shocked I feel right now. Sparky gave me so much and I owe him far beyond what I can ever repay.

I found Sparky at a time when my confidence was very shaken and it was his fearlessness that carried us both forward. He completely changed me as a rider and horsewoman, and I will be forever grateful to him. His love of cross-country taught me to be confident and committed, while his sensitive nature showed me how to be patient and gentle. He was a true partner and teacher, with the biggest, most selfless heart.

Sparky doing what he loves most:

 

While he often left us all holding our breath as he flew around course, he was always the gentlest soul in the barn. He won over all our hearts the moment we met him and was a true joy to be around every day. I’m so thankful to have had the chance to love him, and my heart goes out to all the people whose lives he touched.

Sparky, I miss you and will always be thinking of you. Thank you.

Read more about Sparky and his many accomplishments here.

Jersey Fresh SJ

 

Nina graduates from Stanford University

Nina has graduated from Stanford with a BS in Mechanical Engineering/Product design. Here she is with Mom and freshman room mate, Maria. For the summer Nina is  working as an user experience design intern at Headspace, a meditation app company based in LA.  Check out the app please.

Mom

5 unforgettable eventing pairs from London 2012 (who didn’t win gold…)

Everyone loves an individual Olympic medallist, but others made an indelible mark at London 2012, too. While we eagerly await the stories that will arise from Rio, Paula Lester and Catherine Austen remember some of the eventers who won our hearts with their skill, flamboyance and courage in London

Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon and Borough Pennyz

After Michael Jung, this perfectly suited pair came closest to finishing on their dressage score, adding just one time-fault in the second, individual showjumping phase. Super-fit and super-nippy, the Gloucestershire-based rider and her then nine-year-old mare, bred and owned by Sally Bullen, jumped impeccably. If their dressage warm-up had gone to plan, they would have finished higher than 11th.

Belgium’s Karin Donckers and Gazelle De La Brasserie

Karin Donckers retired her consistent and long-serving 18-year-old Swiss warmblood mare after finishing 15th — the best of the Belgians — at London 2012. Their harmonious dressage tests scored highly for years — seventh here and second in the 2008 Games — and they were good showjumpers, with just one down in each round at Greenwich. But time-penalties across country once again caught them out.

Italy’s Stefano Brecciaroli and Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve

This horse’s stunning test, scoring 38.5, left them second after dressage. Could they follow up on this start and take a medal home to Italy? Sadly not. Stefano set off across country like a man possessed but they picked up time-penalties. Stefano was resigned to dropping down the order, explaining with affection: “My horse is very special, but he cannot gallop for 10 minutes. I respect him and do not want to push him. We took the direct routes and did as much as we could.”

The first Asian woman to ride in the Olympic eventing was only 20 years old. We waited with bated breath to see if Nina would finish her first Games. She did. Although down the pack in 41st, she impressed onlookers with her quiet riding.

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New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson and Nereo

Fourth is the worst place to finish — so near, yet so far. Andrew was furious to have his dressage preparation interrupted by the judges halting the competition for 10min during an electrical storm. An effortless cross-country round and one fence down in the two showjumping rounds couldn’t make up the deficit.

Rio 2016

As Rio 2016 appraoches, and Nina’s graduation from Stanford is happening this weekend,  we think back to London 2012.  Here is one permanent historic reminder of Nina’s ride at the the London 2012.

 

Not only was Nina the youngest rider, she was also the first female to ever compete at the Olympics in the sport of eventing.

Mom