The Springledge team of horses and riders, based in The Plains, Virginia, traveled to the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, for the 2017 winter season and has already enjoyed ample success during the first four weeks.
During WEF 1, held January 11-15 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Connor Husain earned Springledge’s first blue ribbon with victory in the Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers aboard MTF Betina. The pair sped to victory in a field of 75 competitors for an impressive win.
“She’s a really cool horse, and I get along with her really well,” said Connor, who purchased the bay mare in Europe where he spent the summer of 2016 training and showing. “I competed her there in the 1.35m speed classes, and she always placed well. She’s naturally quick without trying.”
After beginning his riding career in the eventing world and achieving international-level success at the Junior and Young Rider levels, Connor, 23, has transitioned full-time to show jumping and is working to rise up the levels in the discipline under the tutelage of trainer Sloane Coles.
“I’m currently showing in the Low and Medium Amateur-Owners and came to Florida to gain more experience,” he said. “In the eventing world I was pretty far along, but in show jumping I’m still facing a learning curve. I’m improving quickly now, but I’m still making small mistakes and hope to stay it this level until I get confirmed with the horses I have. My aspiration is to represent the United States on a senior team one day. I’m still a long way off, but I’m going to work hard to make that happen!”
Connor’s family owns Morningside Training Farm in The Plains, Virginia, a United States Equestrian Federation elite training center, with the mission to produce top three-day eventing students at all levels. When not on the road, Connor is based there with his string of horses, including Betina, Birmingham, MTF Saint Simeon and MTF Madame X.
Sloane enjoyed ribbons of her own during WEF 1, including 10th place in the $8,000 1.45m class aboard Esprit and seventh out of 51 in a 1.35m class riding Binja. Both horses are owned by The Springledge Group.
During WEF Weeks 2, 3 and 4, Springledge continued to achieve major goals and added more ribbons to the banner.
Highlights included Binja’s two blue ribbons in the 1.40m classes with Sloane aboard. During WEF 3, she outran a field of 33 for the top call,and during week 4 she repeated the victory over 22 challengers. Sloane found the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Colandro—Naomie) in the Netherlands last summer and imported her as a sales horse.
“She’s stepped up and done the 1.45m classes, too,” said Sloane. “I think she’ll be a super Junior Jumper. She’s extremely fast. I actually didn’t set out to win both classes; she just turns so quickly and doesn’t take much time in the air, so she’s naturally fast. She’s a real competitor. I’ll continue to bring her along until a good kid comes along to buy her.”
Connor debuted with MTF Saint Simeon during Week 1 in the Amateur-Owner Jumpers and moved up to the Medium level during Week 3, where he earned ribbons at the 1.35m level. During Week 4, the pair moved up to the 1.40m level during the Palm Beach Masters CSI3*, where they produced solid results.
“She’s very exciting,” said Sloane of Connor’s newest horse. “She’s going to be the horse he moves up with. They were great in the $25,000 1.40m this week. He had a couple of rails down, but he was solid from start to finish. Connor is riding great, and being able to get in the ring so often has allowed him to improve so quickly.”
During Week 4, February 1-5, Sloane and Esprit contested the $216,000 Ariat Grand Prix CSI4* out on the expansive grass field. “The jumps were huge!” said Sloane. “There were some 1.60m fences out there. We had a couple down, but I was thrilled. He tried really hard, and it’s so nice to be out there in that company. I’m especially proud to be able to do those kinds of classes on a horse that was bought as a Junior Jumper. I’m so lucky to have him!”
Sloane was also proud of Connor’s MTF Madame X , a 10-year-old mare he purchased to bring up the ranks. With Sloane aboard, the bay Oldenburg (Continio—Walona) placed fifth out of 43 in the $6,000 1.40m Speed Challenge.
“I’m really excited about her; she gives you an amazing feeling,” said Sloane. “Jumping is so easy for her, and she’s naturally careful. She’ll have a bright future with me or someone else. She’s only 10, and she’s very talented.”
Springledge will remain in Wellington through the 12-week WEF circuit, where Sloane is accepting new clients and horses.