Featured Rider - Doug Payne
|Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4|
I've got to say, it's a strange and exciting task to begin writing this series. At the moment I'm sitting in the sand at the foot Bruce Davidson's Florida barn. My laptop battery is dead, so I'm attached by my extension cord enjoying the warm weather! Rocking Horse Horse Trials was running this weekend, but funny enough I'm down here to compete at HITS. At our winter base in Aiken, SC we have roughly 16 horses at the moment of which 4 are jumpers, 11 are eventers and the remaining is a dressage horse.
This is a very exciting opportunity, I'm riding a horse whom I taught to jump in the $25k Grand Prix this afternoon. Along with Courage, we brought two other jumpers. We arrived late on Wednesday. Larry (Urlando) and Llama (Vesko W) jumped well over the past few days. Both competed in the level 4's and 5's (3'9" and 4') both came home with a bunch of ribbons. In addition to Courage's GP today, he jumped like a rock star, finishing 6th in the $15k 1.40m mini prix on Friday. I've been lucky enough to be able to fit in the jumpers in addition to the eventers over the past few years. It's great fun and without a doubt be an asset come Sunday in April!
So back to the eventers...This will be my first time competing at Rolex. I'm still struggling how to exactly put my thoughts into words. It might be best to start with my background and what got me here. I was born into a very active horse family. My mom has now judged at Kentucky a few times as well as nearly every other 4* in the world. She was also judging at the Olympics in 2008 as well as the president of the ground jury at the World Equestrian Games in 2010. So riding was something that my sister and I naturally fell into. We both grew up in Pony Club and both were graduate 'A' members. I was on two international tetratholon teams (1997 and 2001) and won the national championships in 2000. My mom always had horses coming into the barn for training etc, so I was lucky enough to ride a lot of them. By the time I entered college I had competed through Intermediare I dressage and Advanced eventing. I finished up with a Silver medial from the North American Young Riders Championships.
I actually never in 1,000,000 years thought I'd be riding professionally. I'm currently 30 yrs old based in Gladstone, NJ and Aiken, SC. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering from RIT (Rochester, NY). The plan upon graduation was to become a forensic engineering. One thing lead to another and given the opportunity to ride I figured I'd regret not trying later in life. I haven't looked back since.
The professional years have lead me to places I would have never dreamed possible. I've competed over in Europe and all over the US and Canada, I am now a USEF judge and TD as well as an ICP instructor. I've produced an instructional DVD with Jimmy Wofford and am in the process of writing a book. Rolex is just another step along the way, and I can't wait!
Enough about me, I'm sure you'd rather hear more about Running Order. He is a horse of a lifetime, without a doubt! Around the barn he's known as Running Order, RO, Skinny or Elvis (his name in Ireland). He was sent to me by his owner, Patti Springsteen, just under 4 years ago. He is a 10 yr old 17.1 hh Irish TB Gelding by Luso. He was born in Ireland and was trained by Enda Boldger to steeplechase. Although the Irish but their own twist adding banks, ditches, hedges and timber. Conveniently just what a potential eventer needs. He spent a brief unsuccessful stint in the Florida jumper scene before arriving at our farm.
I still have a vivid picture of the first day he stepped foot on the farm. He and another horse stepped off the trailer together. Barney came off first, he too was Irish and in a very plump Irish type at that. Running Order was next off, and the contrast was stark. He was a tall, lanky, rangy horse with his hip bones sticking out. Unfortunately, they still are prominent :). He was, from that moment on known as Skinny. Of course the first day I had to see how he'd jump. I have to admit, I didn't expect much. So warmed up, picked up a canter and aimed at a cavaletti that couldn't have been more than 12". He backed off and kept my leg on and holy $#@*! He jumped it as if it were 4'6" and his knees were by his ears! From that moment I knew he was the real deal, it was just a matter of time.
Around the barn, he is a very curious, spooky and athletic horse with an exceptional gallop and jump. You can't leave anything within reach of his stall, if he's able to grab it he will and it'll be across the isle way in an instant. He's a bit of an attention lover! If you're nearby you must pet him! He also loves to play with my dog Bacon. They will both grab at each other all day long as seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CZYIEofHLo
Running Order finished up last year 3rd place in the USEA horse of the year rankings. He has a number of successes to his record. He won the last CCI* long format at the Virginia Horse Trials (2009). He was 2nd at the Fair Hill CCI** (2009), a member of the silver medal nations cup team at Boekelo CCI*** (2010) in Holland, 3rd at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (2011), 6th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (2011) and 3rd at the 2011 AEC's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKcvrJnmCUc) and (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iUU58GKWwQ).
The eventers are just ramping up at the moment. Running Order's first event will be in Feb at Pine Top (Ga). He'll certainly make some appearances at some dressage and jumper shows as well.
Photo Credit: Top right, Sumner Crosby; left, Mark Waler Lehner.