Hope and Hunters Head East
We had a chance to speak with professional Hope Glynn, who owns Sonoma Valley Stables (SVS) with her husband Ned in northern California. Once they realized there was an opportunity to compete for a large purse on hunters, the hunter clan at SVS made it a goal to participate.
They’ve qualified three riders for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and plan to head east for a series of shows, including the Hampton Classic and Saugerties for HITS on the Hudson with the much anticipated finals on the weekend. The parents are thrilled, not only with the prize money offered, but with all the pomp and circumstance of the entire event. The collective group feels that even if you don’t make the Top 20, you can still have a great experience both on and off the horse – awesome prize money, a new venue, great competition, the east coast, an adventure to the Big Apple, the Pfizer Million – that and more await the northern California competitors and their families.
EqSol: Tell us about your plans for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final this coming September in Saugerties? You’re qualified on Woodstock, but you have the option to select another mount.
HG: My highest placing horse was Woodstock and I’m definitely planning on riding him in the Finals. For me, he’s one of my most consistent mounts and I know him very well. I feel very confident riding him in the class. He will also have done the International Hunter Derby Finals in Lexington with me, so I’ll have had that experience under my belt. It will be good preparation for us.
EqSol: Describe Woodstock for us…
HG: His barn name is Woody – he came from Brandy Hollway in Kansas. He also competes in the Low A/O Hunters with Amateur rider Olivia Hellman. He has a lot of personality, he’s a horse that is easy to like – he jumps great every time you bring him out, he’s easy to work with at home and if he has a fault it would be that he may jump and try too hard, which is a good problem to have as a rider. He’s consistently one of the best jumpers I’ve ever ridden, which is really important when you’re doing a big class like these prestigious hunter finals.
EqSol: You and two of your students, Avery Hellman and Erin Bland, are making the trip to Saugerties. Can you tell us more about them?
HG: Both riders are 19 years old and they are very excited about the competing at the hunter prix finals. This is the highlight of their riding careers.
Avery Hellman is riding her 7-year-old Westphalian gelding Rococco. He was the Circuit Champion in the 2nd years at HITS (Thermal). Avery rides on her high school equestrian team. She’s also a very good student and doesn’t miss school. She rides on the weekends and during show season, she typically leaves school Friday, gets to the show and heads into the show ring. She’s been training at Sonoma Valley Stables for nine years. She’s actually more excited to do these finals than indoors.
Erin Bland lives in Carlsbad, CA and trains with Liza Applebaum at home and does the A-Shows with us. Her mount for the finals is Weatherly, an 8-year-old WB gelding. This is her first year competing as an Amateur — she and Weatherly competed in the A/O Hunters and were Reserve Circuit Champions at Thermal and she was also Champion at Del Mar National this past May. As for academics, she currently attends Mira Costa College and she’d like to transfer to Sonoma State this next school year, so she can ride and attend college. Erin is extremely excited about the Finals, mainly because she feels like it’s a class where amateurs, juniors and professionals can compete at an equal level. To her, it’s more than just a hunter class back east – it’s an event!
EqSol: Tell us about SVS “Team” coming east…
HG: I have a fantastic group of horses that I get to ride and the clients are excited to watch them go. We have about 25 people coming to support SVS at the Hunter Prix Finals; between CA barn mates and family on east coast – people are excited to come. Like any big money class, this final draws a significant amount of attention. Honestly, no matter how well they do, they just want to see how the horses go. For us, it’s difficult to get people to travel down south, but because of the prestige of the class, the beautiful and exciting venue, they are traveling from CA to the east coast JUST to watch. As a barn, to have three competing is truly an honor.
EqSol: Since the pressure will be on at these finals, how do you help your clients handle it?
HG: With our riders, we really feel that positive reinforcement and hard work are key ingredients to their success. Most of these kids are extremely critical of themselves, so we try to teach and maintain a holistic picture: the goal is not “I want to win this hunter prix” – we all aim to win, it’s why we compete, but it’s not just about winning. It’s about what each student wants to achieve as a rider and as a horseman.
EqSol: You had to qualify your horses at HITS Thermal – how did you find the circuit this year?
HG: Classes were big and quality was good. The facility has developed into a premier place to be on the west coast during the winter circuit. I was particularly pleased with the footing. Footing, in both the show and warm up rings, is paramount to me above everything else. I also like HITS because there is so much space to ride your horses. A lot of barns have great show rings but not good warm up areas. At HITS they have great practice rings available all day.
Since we spend a lot of time in the hunter rings, we also really enjoyed the improvements they made to the Hunter Berm and the hospitality tent. It provided another area for people to watch and enjoy it.
EqSol: It’s been a good year for SVS. Can you share some of your personal highlights, aside from the success?
HG: I truly LOVE horses and I LOVE being around them, so I’m lucky that they are in my life everyday. Even when I’m old and retired, I will still have horses because being around them brings me happiness.
There was one afternoon when Avery rode up with her pony to watch one of high-performance classes I was in. After our final jump, I heard her clapping on the rail screaming “Go Mommy! Go Mommy!” – that takes the cake for me – when you hear your daughter clapping and cheering you on, it doesn’t matter what happened in the class.
She even told me to keep my eyes up and my heels down as I came out of that class at Thermal.
EqSol: Mantra for life?
HG: Integrity sums it up in one word. Living with integrity is the utmost important thing to me in how I run my business and how I live my life.
Thank you Hope for your time and your insights – we wish you and your students the best of luck in your upcoming east coast adventures!