I had the opportunity to catch up with Bruce tonight, after he had finished a day of training down at Chesterland South, in Ocala.
Everyone has settled into the southern way of life, with a barn full of horses & top level riders. Bruce made the decision this year to bring down his younger horses, so there are 6 two year olds & 6 of the three year olds enjoying the milder climate in Florida.
One of Bruce's exciting young horses is a mare by the name of Here's Lola (the striking grey mare in our photo album). Lola is out of Our Staple (out of JJ Babu’s full sister) by the NZ stallion Heroisity, one of the few TB stallions that stood at Hilltop and was approved for warmblood stud book. Owned in partnership with their friend & client Christina Watkins, Here's Lola remains in training with Bruce in Ocala Fl. They plan to show her at HITS in the hunter/jumper ring this winter in preparation for the eventing season. The grand plan is to send her to Lyon D’Anges in France for their 2* for 6 & 7 year old event horses. There is an in-hand portion of this event, which adds an interesting element to the development of these top level prospects. The best event trainers and riders in Europe send their best prospects to this event, and Bruce is looking forward to attending with HRH Patricia as well.
This year Gerd Zuther & Fanny Lee have returned, as well as Buck and Randy. Top young rider Nina Ligon, who has 5 of her own horses in the barn this year, perfects her dressage skills with Gerd, and is also calling Chesterland South home base for the winter. So the barn is definitely a busy scene each day.
At 6, Keltic Lion is proving himself to be one to watch, with a fabulous work ethic on the flat & tremendous form over fences (please see the striking bay in the slideshow). The plan is to get him into the jumper ring at HITS, then start out the eventing season at Rocking Horse, going Training Level. He has produced some wonderful foals over the past 2 seasons & we are all anxious to see how he performs out in competition!
It is always fascinating to pick Bruce's brain on his training goals with his home bred youngsters. Among the horses that he has bred for the sport horse world, he has also produced several young thoroughbreds for the track. They have 2 coming 3 year olds (a colt & a filly) in the barn who will be leaving shortly for formal race preparation at the track down in Florida. Bruce wisely states that having race horses in training teaches everyone in the barn so much about the conditioning of horses & makes them better event riders!
We also want to mention that Petite Flower was recently purchased by Caroline Martin, a young rider from NJ who trains with Buck. She goes to the George school in Newtown Square, but goes down to Ocala on her breaks to work and train with Buck. Petite Flower has gone with Buck to Florida to prepare for the event season, but Caroline will fly down for certain events & will kick off her event season this weekend at the Horse Park! Bruce had only high praises for this young lady and for her bright future as an upper level event rider.
We're hoping to get new pictures and videos to you throughout the winter season, so please check back soon for updates. Keep warm & safe riding!!