Saturday, January 31, 2015

Living the Amateur's Dream - A Report On Training With Bruce Davidson at Chesterland!

For some, the concept of training with the great Bruce Davidson may seem a bit daunting.  But for those who are part of the team at Chesterland, we know the truth about training with such a legendary horseman and accomplished Olympian.  Bruce cares deeply about his horses, his breeding program and his clients, and is eager to pass his knowledge onto others.

Laura Fazio, who came to ride with Bruce last winter season in Ocala, eagerly agreed to share her story of training with Bruce over the past year.  Laura is an amateur rider who has juggled a demanding career in the NYC financial market, but this year she decided to focus on her equestrian pursuits.  We are so thankful to her for her insights into riding with Bruce!

Here is her story.........................................

It should be incredibly intimidating to ride with the legendary Bruce Davidson Sr.;  the Olympic medals, unparalleled wins at ROLEX and the other global 4 star events are truly remarkable........ But the experience of training with Bruce is just the opposite.    This is my story:

Bruce is relaxed and chatty, sitting on one of his absolutely perfectly mannered Charlie babies, recounting names and tales from past Badminton or Burghley events.  He always has a story or quip from other legends one only reads about, but he is always getting to the heart of understanding dressage, jumping or general horsemanship question at hand.  If you have the heart for it, you will achieve more in your riding than you ever dreamed.
Bruce on homebred Moses while instructing Laura, on Bunny.
Photo Nora Battig
Training with Bruce is about filling in the gaps of your equestrian education,  and for me it's about living out a dream that started many years ago as a child.   Watching the equestrian segment of the Olympics I marveled at the abilities of these athletes (both horse and rider) and their ability to jump unprecedented heights in perfect form.

It's been a long time coming, with the usual travails of work and family superseding my equestrian passion. I spent a few years as a weekend foxhunter and then began eventing at the lower levels 10 years ago.  It's hard to make too much progress riding just weekends but I managed to get the basics down with a local trainer.  Last year the stars aligned and I came to Chesterland South with two of my horses, Bunny, a well bred Irish Sport Horse, and Howie,  my newly purchased American Warmblood.  

Profile of Bruce and Howie!

Bruce on Howie at Ocala I
Photo Credits Palmer Photo

My checklist of things to improve and concerns about my riding technique was endless, and Bruce listened patiently.   Day by day, my riding and confidence changed as I began to truly understand how to get the best out of myself and my horses.  I had desperately wanted a formula for success, which I could quickly memorize and execute, but Bruce showed me that each ride needed to be custom tailored.  He taught me how to listen to my horse and ride each one to the best of their individual capabilities.  How many people also get to have Bruce Davidson "tune up" their horses?

Moving up to Preliminary had always been my dream, as to me it signified a higher level of competition where one could became a rider with a capital "R"!  I moved up to prelim late last season in area 2 and managed to complete 2 events.  For the 2015 season I'm focused on going clear in prelim here in Florida,  shooting for the Ocala HT 1* in April with my mare Bunny.  Competing in a 1* is a dream I thought unattainable until now. 

Laura Competing Bunny at Prelim

I've also checked off another bucket list item by breeding my kind, forgiving and super talented mare, Bunny, to Bruce's perfect stallion Keltic Lion (aka Charlie).   If you ever have the opportunity to come visit at Chesterland to see Charlie's amazing crop of foals, you will be impressed.  All of his offspring throw Charlie's lovely temperament, bone size and athletic ability.  The babies are very engaging and love to entertain visitors who take the tour of the farm.

Charlie Babies!
Photo Credit Lisa Thomas
Bunny managed to take on the first try when we bred her in May (which I'm told is quite amazing!) and we are now awaiting the birth of the foal out of a surrogate mare, Princess Julia.  Jan Smith, who oversees Chesterland's breeding activities, is closely watching Princess Julia up north. 

The colt will be born around Easter and I can't wait for "Keltic Pride" to come into the world.   I know he is going to be special, perhaps a Rolex horse for me?   I know this sounds improbable,  but since Bruce has helped me realize all my other dreams in 2014,  my future goals do not seem out of the question!

I'm confident that with Bruce bringing along my colt,  he will be as mannerly and talented as all the Charlie babies he's produced to date.  ~  Laura Fazio

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