RELEASE: March 6, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Wellington, Fla. – Julie Coles of The Plains, VA, and Remarkable Farm LP’s Cobalt were champions of Section B of the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over division on Sunday morning at the FTI WEF. Coles and the nine-year-old Wurtemberger gelding, out of Little Lou by Cornet Obolensky, won the final two over fences rounds for the division, as well as jumping to third and second place ribbons. The pair also earned seventh place under saddle.
The reserve champion for the division was Contral, owned and ridden by Martin Schlaeppi. Schlaeppi piloted Contral to third, fifth, second, and third over fences and placed third under saddle.
Cobalt is yet another hunter enjoying success after transitioning out of the jumper ring. The gelding originally belonged to grand prix rider Brianne Goutal as her speed horse before coming to Coles and her daughter, trainer Sloane Coles.
“Brianne’s a really good friend of my daughter’s. They were trying to figure out what division he would be happy in, because he just wasn’t quite comfortable as a speed horse or as a jumper. So we shipped him over from France. We thought he’d be a really good hunter and he is,” Coles recounted.
“He just loves being a hunter,” Coles continued. “It’s nice that horses can transition divisions. A lot of times, the jumpers that can’t jump the big jumps, there’s no place else for them to go. It’s amazing, he’s settled right in. This week is the first week that I feel like that he’s really settled in and been quiet about doing the hunters.”
Coles admitted there wasn’t a lot of retraining to be done to prepare Cobalt for his new career. While Coles’ daughter has given her plenty of help along the way, time has been the biggest factor in Cobalt’s newfound success.
“Nobody really had to retrain him. Basically, it’s been very uncomplicated, it’s just giving him the time to realize that he doesn’t have to jump 1.40m!” Coles described.
She continued, “Giving him time [has been the most important part of transitioning Cobalt]. It’s just letting him take a deep breath. Everybody knew that. He had an excellent background with Brianne, excellent horsemanship there, he just wasn’t going to be a top jumper. It’s really nice that he doesn’t have to go down the ranks as a jumper and be worried; he can be a hunter and have a very easy life.”
Cobalt looked every bit the part of a happy hunter, calmly standing ringside while searching Coles’ pockets for treats. It took some time for the ability to relax and hang out by the ring to develop, but his puppy dog personality has been there since day one. Coles has been grateful to enjoy the opportunity to return to the show ring, especially with a gelding that is just plain fun.
“I don’t show very often. It’s fun for me to have a nice, quiet horse. He’s just a real sweetheart,” she smiled. “It’s like riding a made large pony, really!”
Of riding Cobalt, Coles described, “He always jumps in good form. He always jerks his knees. I’m 59 years old, and he doesn’t throw me out of the tack. He’s very uncomplicated. Unless I do something really stupid, he always changes his lead. He’ll land on either lead. It’s just a pleasure [riding him].”
After just six weeks in the hunter ring, Cole declared that Cobalt had “passed the test” of whether he would be suited to life as a hunter. She’s heavily considering making Cobalt her own, but is weighing whether to buy a horse for her daughter instead, an upcoming professional that Coles is eager to support.
“Sloane was very successful as a junior,” Cole noted. “This is her first year as a professional, taking clients and everything. She’s doing really well and has some young jumpers she’s been winning on. I’m very proud of her.”