Monday, May 20, 2013

One Moment In Time

Who’s a Star and I had a magical weekend at the Jersey Fresh Three Day Event held May 7-12, 2013.

Competing in our first CCI 3* (Advanced Three Day Event), we had a good dressage test, placing in the top ten, but did not quite match some of our recent dressage performances. In keeping with the standards for a CCI 3*, the cross country course was nearly 10 minutes long.  “Tag” and I jumped clear with the 5th fastest time to move up to 4th place.  We saved our best performance for Sunday’s Stadium Jumping, as we were one of only two double clear rounds, moving up again to finish in 3rd in a competitive field.
Courtney & Neal after Stadium Jumping (Shannon Brinkman Photo)
I know I am dating myself by referencing the song "One Moment in Time," but it always gave me goosebumps when Whitney Houston sang it.  Professional horseman live for that one moment….like when they sing My Old Kentucky Home  before the Derby, or when you are an event rider and you get to show jump late in the day on a Sunday at the a big Three Day Event, because of a high placing.

These moments help keep us going.

The trials and tribulations to produce an upper level competition horse are numerous, and everyone has a different list of them, including soundness, training problems, rider health, money, and life issues.

Getting a horse to a CCI 3* requires intense focus and an outstanding support crew.  These individuals will pick you up when you are feeling down, brush you off, and kick you back out the door!

They will also be there to help you keep your eye on the prize and help maintain your focus when outside distractions come in and cloud your vision.

I would personally like to thank some of those who helped me achieve this one moment in time when I accomplished my goal of performing to my best on a Sunday in May.  My team includes many people, but I would like to thank:

  • My parents, who taught me right from wrong, and that if you want something, make a plan and be prepared to follow through, but change it as needed.
  • Rich House, one of my horse owners and business partners, who has stood by me as I have gone through the ups and downs one does in building a successful business.
  • Teresa and Anne, two long standing friends who have been there whenever I needed them.
  • My past and current trainers and collaborators, including Bruce Davidson, Jimmy Wofford, Belinda Wertmann, Phillip Dutton, Jan Bynny, Chris Hickey, and Sally Cousins.

Most importantly, I would like to thank my husband Neal; it is with his support, generosity, and caring that I can work on producing my personal bests regardless of the ribbons, and my wonderful horse Who’s A Star who has grown up into an amazing athlete and a special horse in my life, especially as I helped birth him and have trained him since he was a foal and have been his only rider.
Who's a Star on Cross Country (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

I am looking forward to having many more “moments in time” and to having people & animals to share them with.

Here’s hoping we all have moments to share,


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Aiken Recap and Morven

Hello to All,

As usual Aiken was a whirlwind and I was surprising how quickly it passed.

Many goals were accomplished including having me compete Tag at the Advanced level, with runs at Pine Top and Poplar.  He is a wonderful horse, and terrific partner, and everyday I am thankful to be able to ride him!

R Star is starting back to work after her surgery and should be back on the scene in May.  Her full sister Rock Star, aka DJ, made her debut this Winter, and we still have work to do but she shows the same athletic ability and tenacity as all of the other Stars did at that age; so I am super excited about her too.

Unfortunately Vegas had a minor injury, and I think will now become Neal's new partner, which is great as we have been half-heartedly looking for a horse for Neal, and he and Vegas get along wonderfully.  It will be great watching Neal and Vegas forge a partnership this Summer.

The biggest turnaround from last year to this one though has been Sport.  He has been a challenge for me, as last year he was quite shy in warmups, and now he has won twice at the beginner novice level, including Sporting Days and just this weekend at Morven and was fourth at Pine Top.  He will move up to Novice at Plantation and we are excited to see how Sport continues to progress.

The Dare to Dream group of owners who own Sport have also recently purchased another horse, Cooley Vancouver.  He is a special 4 year old who I found in Ireland, and I have great hope for him.  We look forward to making this group of owners proud!  He arrives at the end of this week and will look forward to competing probably in the Summer.

Many of you also probably remember the picture of Michaela with the truckload of hay, well she and Tatum really also stepped up to the plate.  Tatum Stam came out and had multiple good outings at Training including two 6ths and a 5th place finish, and Michaela Holcomb went from beginner novice at the start of Aiken to her first Training at Morven yesterday, along the way she also picked up multiple rosettes.

We also sold multiple horses in Aiken, all told we have placed 9 horses into new homes this year and have a barnful of new horses here in Pennsylvania.  Our clients came from Kentucky, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and points in between.  We hope for only the best for the new matches and look forward to hearing about their new careers.

Two new students joined us in Aiken for their Spring Break from the Ethel Walker School: Haley Glofka and Charlotte Gardiner.  Haley brought her leased horse, Outstanding Rhythm, and she completed 3 novices with a well earned 3rd place at Poplar Farm.  We look forward to having Haley back in the Summer as a working student and having her move up to Training!

Charlotte came with Coletrane, who she purchased through us last year and what a splash she made. Doing three competitions and coming 3rd once and winning twice!  They are an exciting pair and we will look forward to watching them.

We are on foal watch now at the farm eagerly awaiting Believe In The Stars foal, and I head to The Fork this week with Tag.

Fingers crossed for everyone, have a great Spring,


Monday, March 4, 2013

Aiken coming and goings....

Hello to All,

It has been a while since I last wrote and it has been a is always an interesting time here, and this year is no different.

A week ago I was able to compete in my first Advanced in several years.  It was very special as it was on my wonderful homebred Who's A Star.  To think 11 years ago when we bred his mother,  we would get here is pretty amazing.  All breeders hope to have it all work out, and things go in different ways as the babies grow up; so it is all the more rewarding to get him to that level.

Easy and fun were the words for that weekend....Tag skipped around the advanced and even had a piece on

Between Pine Top and Sporting Days this past weekend, we showed horses and sold a couple including Lady in Red, who was sold to Rachel Remmers to continue her growth as a rider.  We are super excited for her.  We also sold Song of Songs to Camille Stewart and her family to allow her to reach for her goals.  Song of Songs is a beautiful 9 year old TB mare with experience to the Intermediate level.  We would like to express our thanks to Nicole Parkin for all of her hard work.

We also got to see our farrier, Butch Groves, who made his annual journey to Aiken to shoe our horses.  Butch is wonderfully light hearted; so he is always a refreshing breath of air.

And Mamie Duff visited with us with her friend Martha.  Mamie is considering a move and made a tour of horsey towns.  It was great to see both of them.

After our busy week, and a great dinner at Rose Hill Estate on Friday, with Mamie, Martha, working students Michaela and Tatum, Tatum's Mom, Laura, who was down for the weekend to watch her daughter ride,  Kim Russell, who was down for the weekend to compete, Butch, Cormac and Anna, our wonderful riders, and our new students Haley Glofka and Charlotte Gardiner, we headed to Sporting Days in Aiken.
The Gang at Sporting Days

Joannah, Carolyn and Mary, the organizer and secretaries of Sporting Days did a great job getting the venue prepared, and we always love competing there.

We had three horses go on Saturday with Kim Russell's two horses doing well, but finishing outside of the ribbons.  Tatum Stam and Catch Me if U Can put it all together again and finished with a double clear jumping performance and in 6th place at Training.  This is a pair to watch!

On Sunday we had 6 horses in the trailer...our two new students Haley Glofka and Charlotte Gardiner came and rode their horses along with working student, Michaela. They were all very good with Charlotte ending up 3rd and Michalea 4th in the novices.

Then it was off to me.  I started on Tough Love, aka Diego, and he was very good in the dressage and finished with a double clear for 6th place.

Sport came to Sporting Days for his first competition of 2013.  As some of you are aware, he has been a bit of a challenge in warmups in the past.  He did not put a foot wrong this weekend and was outstanding. He won the dressage and never looked back finishing in first.

I also competed our homebred Rock Star (DJ) in what was her first event ever.  She showed some good signs of being remarkable as well,  but she needs some work...however, she is very similar to all of her siblings so we can look forward to a new star.

I hope all of you are well, videos and pictures of Sporting Days will be up later this week....Talk soon,


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Groundhog Day 2013

Hello to All,

It seems sometimes days in Aiken are like Groundhog Day in the movie Groundhog Day.

We have the same major cast of characters more or less, and new ones come in in the form of owners and clients.

Now I don't know about you, but I really like the idea of the movie Groundhog Day.  Every day you get to wake up and make this day just a bit better, a bit kinder...

We had an awesome Groundhog Day yesterday.  Tatum Stam and I started the day at 4:30 am to get the Training Level horses fed and over to Sporting Days Farm for the event with Tatum's dressage at 7:30...she and Catch Me if U Can (Chase) had a good test, but they still have to work to improve a few things.  However Chase and her were tremendous in their jumping phases, and other than one moment that we will redo on our next Groundhog Day on Wednesday at the next horse trials (Full Gallop), she showed how much her riding has grown in the time she has been with us.

Vegas was next up with me. This was our Groundhog Day, after as my farrier so eloquently put it, "I had purchased some real estate," coming off him last week.  Vegas tried his hardest and received his best dressage score yet of 22 and jumped a double clean to finish 2nd, outstanding.

Next I rode Beau Voyageur. He as well put in a very good dressage test to finish that phase on a 29.  He jumped a clean show jumping, and then we decided to not go cross country and save him for another day.

A quick trip home was made to drop off Tatum and the morning's competition horses and to pick up Michaela Holcomb, who had been tending to the barn in our absence, the Begineer Novice horses: Michaela's horse Cloud Nine (Leo) and sale horse Thurman Richardson (Ambrose).

Ambrose started the afternoon off,competing in his first recognized horse trials, and he showed the way, finishing first in dressage on a 28.  He continued his winning ways and finished 1st.  He is an outstanding small horse and pictures can be seen on our website,

To finish our day, Michaela, showed the results of her and Leo's ever-improving training, with a great dressage test and two clean jumping rounds to finish 4th in her division.  Must have been from all the hard work she put in during the week...
Michaela Holcomb thinking,
"Wow, she wasn't kidding when
 she said we were getting a lot of hay!"
So we packed up our trailer, finished up at the barn and headed home....a Groundhog Day to remember.

Hope yours was too...

All the best,


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Greetings from the South...

Hello to All,

I first want to wish all of my friends and family in the chilly Northeast good luck with dealing with the frigid temps.

Aiken has been beautiful, even if a little cooler than we would like....

The team starts competing on Sunday with Tag doing the Prelim and Vegas in the Training.

Both have cross country schooled and were amazing.  I am so fortunate to have such amazing horses to ride and compete.

All of the horses continue to do well, and are getting ready for the Season in Aiken.  We also have our first sets of clients in this week.  They are headed from Canada, Washington State, and North Carolina.

Our two working students, Tatum and Michaela, have also been absolutely awesome.

We have attached some pictures of the lovely farm we have been blessed to lease.  It is spacious and perfect for training and showing horses.

I hope all of you are well...I am so lucky to be doing what I love again,All the best,


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas is here...yippee!

Christmas 2012 has finally arrived and with it my wait to ride is over....

I was grazing one of the horses today and talking to a friend who had stopped by to watch "the first Rides back" and she asked me to remember seems a very long time ago, and I have a bunch of people to thank for keeping my spirits up.  They know who they are, they have called, or emailed, or texted or simply kept me in their thoughts, and to all of you, I am forever grateful.

Who's a Star (Tag) and R Star (Hope) had the chore of being the first ones...I was a little awkward, and a bit unbalanced, but we got back into the groove quickly.  I really look forward to what the year will bring with my two "stars."

Back in the Saddle on Tag

On Christmas Eve, we learned that Hope was the Silver Stirrup Preliminary Champion for the country with only 6 months of competing, which was unexpected and exciting.  She is a wonderful girl, and I hope we can fulfill all of her promise

Tag and I look to pick up where we left off, and then I have a few new ones in the wings.

I hope the Holidays found you and yours happy and enjoying each other, and that the Season brings you health, wealth, healing, love and laughter.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and Happy Riding!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Finding inspiration and noticing courage...

Several recent visitors to the farm said I should update the blog, and to be honest, I am not sure where to start or what to say.  Since my accident, the farm business has gone on; we have continued to show and sell horses, and I have an amazing new working student and rider who are on board (I will write more on them in the future).

But for me personally, it has been a time with lots of different emotions and feelings: pain, loneliness, jealousy, fearfulness, luck, gratefulness, happiness and joy.

Being laid up and not riding has given me a very different perspective on a lot of things.  I have spent a lot of time wishing I were riding, figuring things out, appreciating changes I make in the way my horses go, or just enjoying a hack.  However with the reality of the situation being that I still have four more months to go before riding again, I can get frustrated, feel angry, alone and just downright in the dumps.  So what do I do?  Try to find inspiration and courage to move forward...and keep plugging away.

My inspiration has come from a variety of sources, one source has been my husband, friends and especially my groom, Jodi, all of who have gone out of their way to stay in touch, help, and just call to say hello to catch up and keep me in the loop of their activities.  I am ever grateful for their support, good cheer, inclusion and well wishes.

Another easy inspriaton came from the great performances of our clients and friends at Burghley and the American Eventing Championships; the competitors were, as a whole, outstanding and proved that hard work and relationships produce definite dividends.

Courage has sometimes come from unlikely places.  Recently I had someone come and try horses and unfortunately her previous horse had made cross country schooling not so much fun. After trying my horse in the ring, she decided to go and try him at a cross country schooling facility.  Her body language to start was down trodden and not very confident.  After she had jumped a few sets of fences, we added a larger fence at the end of one of her loops; she was scared, and her coach and I had to convince her to give it a try.  The smile she had on her face after she jumped it was, as they say, priceless.

The courage to face her fears and to start conquering them gave me hope about doing the same with some of mine.

Putting things into perspective has also played a big part in this whole experience. I've been reminded that looking outside my own world can bring a different hue to the colors of every day.  The Olympics and  the Paralympics have made me appreciate that there are a lot of other athletes with struggles much greater than any of mine who have continued to progress again by putting one foot in front of the other.  And being involved with physical therapists make you appreciate you never have it as bad as "the other guy."
Tag and Me at the 2011 Fair Hill International - GRC Photo
I wish it were easier to put into words how I feel, perhaps it is best represented by the kind words and acts of one individual which especially touched me.  She has been here, after an injury, knowing the road to recovery was a long one with bumps and setbacks along the way and to be frank, she was just kind, and caring and thoughtful.  I will remember that for a long time.

I've had some setbacks in the last few weeks, and it would have been easy for me not to confront some of the issues or let them get me down. Instead, I thought of the people who inspired me and found solutions to my problems.  Relying on some of the intestinal fortitude that life with horses has given me, I kept at it, and things are now looking better again.

Neal and I continue to look forward.  Tag (Who's A Star) and Hope (R Star) are enjoying their vacations; Vegas is working on his flat work; and Nevaeh & Sport are going well with different riders as we look for new homes for them.  Our horse ownership group, the Dare to Dream Team, has added new members, and I am very thankful for their continued support.  We will be looking for our next superstar as soon as I am cleared to ride.

Come January we will be ready to rock n' roll with a great staff, great team of owners and great horses.

We hope that the ups and downs in your journey provide insights into life, or as we at C Square Farm are fond of saying "character building opportunities."  I keep reminding myself that character provides the wrinkles, edges and color in our lives.

All the best, and see you soon,