If I was in school and my teacher asked me to write a paper on what I did over the weekend, this is what I would turn in.
No one was enjoying the crisp spring air more than Carmac in the cross-country warmup at River Glen Spring Horse Trials Sunday morning. The horse bucked and cut up, his copper coat ablaze in the sunlight, as rider Bill Hoos grudgingly attempted to channel his exuberance into something productive. Leaving the start box, though, he seemed all business, tackling each obstacle with ease to clinch the win in Open Intermediate.
“He’s so capable,” Hoos says, “he’s just a little silly at times. It’s never malicious.”
Hoos has been guiding the horse up the ranks of eventing since his first Beginner Novice horse trial in 2009. Owned by Morgan Shaw, the thoroughbred is a grandson of A.P. Indy and showed talent early on. Hoos rode him in a Young Event Horse competition as a 5-year-old in 2010, and while they didn’t win, the judges commented that if there was one horse in the group they’d expect to see in a four-star someday, it was Carmac.
“We just took things one step at a time–maybe he’ll do this, maybe he’ll do that,” Hoos recalls. “He kept stepping up.”
Now with a handful of two- and three-stars under his belt, it seems possible that the 8-year-old may fulfill the judges’ prophesy after all. Hoos is aiming Carmac for the CIC*** at Chattahoochee Hills in May, then Fair Hill in the fall, and then, lord willing and the creek don’t rise, Rolex next spring.
Bill Hoos and Carmac at River Glen. Photo used with permission from WNC Photography.
Bill and the Hoos family are standard fixtures at River Glen–this weekend he and daughter Becca were competing four horses apiece and coaching students in between rides. Based out of Wil-lo Blue Farm in Franklin, TN, they’ve been making seasonal treks to River Glen for many years and are big supporters of the event.
“For one, it’s a stunningly beautiful venue,” Hoos explains. “The river and the fog and the bagpipes, it’s just spectacular in the mornings.”
River Glen is, truly, one-of-a-kind. It has a homegrown, Appalachian feel, tucked neatly into a bend in the Holston River at the foot of dramatic hills. This weekend seemed to be spring at its peak–all bright green grass and bursts of redbud and sapphire blue skies.
Another thing that continually draws Wil-lo Blue to River Glen is the people. In particular, Hoos describes the graciousness of River Glen owner Bill Graves.
“He’s so accommodating,” Hoos says. “He’s always talking to the riders, asking them what he can do to make the event better.”
River Glen is a family affair as well. Graves’ girlfriend Tracey Bise designs the stadium courses, his sister Cathy works in the office, son Jamie builds jumps and works around the farm, and another son Wesley drives down from Chicago to help at the shows. Tracey’s daughters Jesse and Molly were jump judges, and Jesse placed third in Open Training.
Graves says River Glen is committed to remaining a viable horse trial even as Area III has become saturated with an increasing number of high-quality events. This weekend’s cross-country course debuted 14 new jumps, and Graves hopes that it is just the beginning.
“We’re taking an aggressive attitude toward the evolution of the track,” he says. He mentions a number of improvements that he hopes to make with the assistance of Canadian course designer Steve Buckman, including rebuilding the main water complex. River Glen currently hosts three horse trials a year, but there’s some talk about adding a fourth in June 2014.
“We’re on a roll and I want to keep it going,” Graves says.
Full River Glen results can be viewed here.