When Sloane Coles cantered onto the field of the International Ring at Spruce Meadows during the ‘Masters’ Tournament, she had to pinch herself. She had donned a pinque coat for the first time, had a U.S. flag sewn onto her breast pocket for the first time, and sat astride a very special horse. It was, quite literally, a dream come true.
While Sloane has been dreaming of competing for her country since her days in the pony ranks, it was her budding partnership with a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding that helped her achieve her goals. She got the ride on Chippendale’s Boy DZ last year and was named to her first NetJets U.S. Jumping Nations Cup team this summer before heading to the Spruce Meadows CSIO5* in Calgary, Alberta, to ride alongside U.S. teammates McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, and Charlie Jacobs.
The experience was all the things Sloane expected it to be: exhilarating, gratifying, and maybe a little scary. But, she did her best to also make it a learning experience. She soaked up all she could from the events that led up to her first CSIO5* jump and is still reveling in the moments that came after. Here are five things she learned from her first Nations Cup:
1. Dreams do come true.
“I did the summer series at Spruce Meadows and jumped clear in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. After the class, a lot of people were approaching me and encouraging me to apply for the team in the fall. I thought it would be a long shot, but I did it because I was confident my horse was comfortable and competitive at that venue.
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Top up-and-coming U.S. athlete Sloane Coles (31) of The Plains, VA, has been named to the NetJets U.S. Jumping Team for the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Jumping Nations Cup Calgary CSIO5*, which will take place during the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament on September 4 to 8, 2019, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The appointment comes following a successful summer that began during her two weeks of competition at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series. She and Chippendale’s Boy DZ had strong placings in five-star competition against some of the best show jumpers in the world, including a 10th place finish in the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5* during the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, on July 6.
“That was big for us and it’s the reason why I decided to apply to compete at the ‘Masters’; I feel like he’s ready,” said Coles of the 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Chippendale Z x Lupicor. “He learns something every week. Spruce Meadows suits him so well because it’s a big field with scopey jumps. We went early in the Queen Elizabeth Cup and he felt like he knew what he was doing, like he had done it before. He did it easily.”
The pair went on to finish runner-up following a double clear performance in the $133,700 Staller Grand Traverse Grand Prix CSI3* at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, on August 4.
They recently competed at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. At the Summer Fort Classic held from August 13 to 18, they jumped clear for a top 10 finish in the $36,100 Cypress Point Stables Cup CSI3*. The following week at the CSI4*-W Summer Fort Festival held August 20 to 25, they were again clear in the $75,000 Steel-Craft Cup.
These successful outings led to Coles being named to her first senior Nations Cup team representing the United States. It will also be her first time competing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters,’ one of the premier show jumping events in the world. She was named to the team along with Olympic team gold medalists McLain Ward and Beezie Madden (with whom she trained and worked for as a young professional), as well as fellow up-and-comer Jennifer Gates. The team is led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, who competed for the United States in show jumping at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
Coles started riding Chippendale’s Boy DZ, fondly known as “Chip,” in January of 2018. She found the talented horse through Katherine Walsh and Ben Schroeder in the Netherlands, where he had competed up to the 1.40m level. He is owned by The Springledge Group, which includes Alan and Eileen Wurtzel, Landon and Carol Butler, and her parents, John and Julie Coles.
Coles recalled, “[Katherine and Ben] really believed in him. I only jumped a few jumps when we tried him. We rode a vertical-oxer combination and you could feel the scope. We figured out a way to buy him and a way to get him here. He’s one we got lucky with.
“Chip is scopey and careful and learning to be competitive,” she continued. “I think he’s a horse I can get a break with and do some bigger things, like the ‘Masters.’ It’s a big first team experience and I feel like it’s a good venue for him and he’s peaking now. It’s pretty amazing to be on your first team with Beezie and McLain.”
Coles will don her team coat for the first time at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament where the U.S. team will take on nine other countries in the BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday, September 7. The U.S., who has won the event on nine occasions, last hoisted the winning trophy in 2017.
The Spring Ledge Team had an amazing two weeks in Lexington, Kentucky in August attending the Bluegrass Festival and the KHJA horse shows!
Catherine Brentzel came to her second show ever on a horse and won six out of six of her classes in the Children’s Jumpers and Low Children’s jumpers. She finished the KHJA Horse Show with the Low Children’s Jumper championship aboard Zalandra and the reserve championship with Ollywood Des Horts. She also earned the Children’s Jumper reserve championship with Biaggi and won the Children’s Jumper Classic.
Megan Fitzgerald and Betina won the Adult Jumper Classic at the KHJA show with a very fast jump-off and finished with the Adult Amateur Jumper reserve championship.
Esprit and Sloane Coles were fourth in the $40,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix. Connor Husain jumped several clear classes in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers and completed his first 1.45m High Amateur-Owner Classic with just 4 faults.
Finally, Whiskey Business won the $5,000 1.40m Jump-off class. Thanks to everyone for a great two weeks!
Traverse City, Michigan – July 16, 2017 – The $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan CSI2* highlighted Week Two of competition at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) on Sunday. Twenty-four international athletes went head-to-head in the Grand Prix Ring, but it was Sloane Coles who took home the first win for the United States during the first week of FEI competition at GLEF with Esprit, owned by The Springledge Group.
Course designer Manuel Esparza of Mexico challenged horses and riders over a 13-fence serpentine in the first round, but only seven were invited back to jump-off after going clear.
Twenty-one-year-old Kaely Tomeu (USA) and Gentille, owned by Siboney Ranch, produced the first double-clear round of the jump-off, stopping the timers in 40.930 seconds as second to go in the order.
It looked as though Tomeu would take the win as the only exhibitor to go clear in the tie-breaking round, as faults were collected throughout the next four rounds, until Coles and the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding entered the ring as the final combination to jump-off.
The pair galloped around the shortened track, adding no faults to their name, and crossed the finish line in 40.450 seconds to clinch the blue ribbon.
David Beisel and Harlow Investment Enterprises LLC’s Call Me Hannes finished in third place as the fastest of the 4 faulters in 39.860 seconds.
In addition to her winning title and prize money, Coles took home a bottle of wine, courtesy of Black Star Farms, and a gift certificate for a free custom portrait from Kristi’s Canvas. Coles was also presented with one of Bloomfield Open Hunts’ historic trophies, the Wayne State University Grand Prix Trophy from the historic Motor City Horse Show, by Dean and Wendly Groulx.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Sloane Coles – $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan CSI2*
“I’m pretty excited with Esprit. He’s really been on all year. He jumped great all spring after Florida. He came out, jumped well in Kentucky and then jumped with one down in the 4* at Upperville. I kind of came here really wanting a win in the 2*. He was third on Friday and I was lucky enough to go last in the jump-off, but Kaely, who was second, went pretty fast. I had to be right on everywhere. Esprit’s just been jumping amazing. He feels younger and younger so it’s nice.”
On the jump-off:
“It was a hard jump-off. There were only two clear but we were both very fast. I think everybody was really trying to win. He jumped easy today so I felt like I could really go a lot faster. He’s really peaking now but I’ve always believed in him. I just feel like I can go fast on him and he’s careful so it’s nice to be able to have these shows where you can compete in a 2*.”
“I really love it here. This is my first year. I think the Morrisseys are doing a really great job. It’s just a beautiful area and you can spend time on the lake. The horse show has great footing and it’s been a nice change. I’ll be back next year!”
$50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan CSI2*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Esprit / Sloane Coles / USA / The Springledge Group / 0 / 0 / 40.450
Hunter/jumper rider Sloane Coles has certainly learned from the best. Not only did she grow up with two horse riding parents, she cut her teeth traveling the country and the world to train with some of the top names in the industry—from John and Beezie Madden to Mark Leone and Lauren Hough, and Belgian Olympian, Francois Mathy Sr.
Four years ago, Sloane decided to return to the place where she began: The Plains, Virgina, and the vast, rolling hills of Orange County hunt country where she works for top training facility, Spring Ledge Farm. And while, these days, Sloane is equally successful in the hunter and grand prix jumper rings, she hasn’t forgotten those important, early lessons she learned outside the arena, as a young rider growing up on horseback in Virginia’s bountiful countryside.
Sloane Coles and her father John Coles
“I [still] try to get out as often as I can,” Sloane says, adding that the picture below was taken just last fall.
Here are 10 riding lessons Sloane Coles has learned from the hunt field:
1. Changing position.
Learning what to do with your weight and body as the different terrain and uphill/downhill gradient changes the balance of your horse.
2. How to ride at speed.
What to do with your body, weight, and control at a much faster pace than you would in the show ring.
3. Developing feel.
I learned to ride by the seat of my pants and worked at developing my natural feel in the field before I had many lessons in a ring.
4. Lean back!
When leaning back and riding down a hill, it’s more about using the entire body weight behind you. Believe it or not, this is about much more than leaning back—it’s about getting every ounce of your weight behind your heels. Creating this subtle shift is a huge advantage in triple combinations in the show ring as well as when simply protecting a horse’s front end.
5. Letting go of the distance.
In the field, it’s not a matter of looking for the perfect distance. What’s more important is concentrating on the obstacles behind the fence—ditch, stream or fallen tree—whatever it may be.
6. Gallop 101
Hunt riding has taught me how to truly gallop in all kinds of natural environments.
This one is simple, but if you don’t trust your horse, you aren’t going to get very far in this environment.
8. One-handed riding.
Riding with one hand on the rein (one of my personal favorites!).
9. Love of the Thoroughbred.
The American Thoroughbred’s natural ability to gallop and jump in an open field is unmatched.
10. Enjoying the moment.
There’s nothing like the thrill of being able to experience the beautiful countryside by horseback!
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.
Connor Husain and MTF Saint Simeon
“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.
Sloane Coles and Binja
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.”
Connor Husain and MTF Saint Simeon making their 1.40m debut.
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.
Sloane Coles and MTF Madame X
“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.
Spring Ledge riders and horses have enjoyed a wonderful winter so far on the 2106 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, with great ribbons in the Hunter and Jumper sections under the watchful eye of trainer Sloane Coles during weeks 1-6.
Nilani Trent and her hunter Autumn Rhythm garnered top ribbons in the Amateur-Owner, 18-35, sections, with especially impressive showings early in the circuit with wins in the 3’3″ section. The pair moved up to the 3’6″ height, and during the super competitive WCHR Week 6, they collected excellent scores and ribbons.
Nilani Trent and Autumn Rhythm
Nilani also guided her Casablanca 108 to consistent performances in the Adult Amateur Jumper, 18-35, section, with ribbons throughout the circuit.
Rocky Rochlin’s Fabricio 23 has also made his presence known in the hunters, with nice ribbons in the 3’6″ Performance Working Hunters with Sloane and in the 3’6″ Amateur-Owner, 36 and over, section with his owner.
Over in the jumper rings, Spring Ledge has found success as well. Rose Alba has been doing double duty in the Adult Amateur and Children’s Jumpers, earning ribbons with Alexandra and Madison Christina Warner. Bon Vivant and Helena Le Picart earned good prizes in the Medium Amateur-Owners, and Ilona has carried multiple riders to ribbons, including Gabriela Reutter and Robert Murphy.
Esprit and Sloane have continued on with their grand prix success, taking an impressive eighth place in the $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix during, along with ribbons throughout the circuit in a variety of 1.35m and 1.40m classes.
Please enjoy the gallery of special moments (below) in and around the horse show. Best of luck to everyone at Spring Ledge for the remainder of the 12-week circuit!
Spring Ledge collected a variety of blue ribbons and championship rosettes during their time at the Lake Placid and I Love NY horse shows, held June 23-July 5 in Lake Placid, New York.
Nilani Trent and Autumn Rhythm
During the first week it was Autumn Rhythm who shined brightest in the hunters, taking top calls in the Green and Amateur-Owner 3’3″ sections with Sloane Coles and Nilani Trent, respectively.
“This was so exciting. It was her first time in the Amateur-Owners with him,” said Sloane. “Nilani won two over fences classes and the reserve championship. He just marched right around and was so consistent with her. She showed him at Old Salem (in May) in the Adults and was champion. He just jumps so well it’s hard for him not to win, and Nilani did a great job!”
Nilani also piloted her new horse Casablanca 108 to top ribbons in the Adult Amateur Jumpers. “Old Salem was their first show together, so they haven’t had much time to get to know each other, but they posted lots of clear rounds here,” said Sloane. “I wasn’t intending to buy her a 7-year-old, but this mare has the best attitude. She walks straight out of her stall to the ring with no preparation. She’s very mellow and does her job extremely well. I’m very excited about her. I’d like to show her a little, too, to see what she has in her and maybe jump a little bigger. It would be great if she could move up to the Low Amateur-Owners with Nilani in the future.”
In the 7-year-old Young Jumpers, The Windwood Group’s WEC Damokles picked up excellent ribbons, while their L’Ami Noir did the same in the 1.35m open jumpers.
During the second week’s I Love NY show, it was Sloane and The Spring Ledge Group’s Esprit who took center stage in the jumpers, claiming second in the $30,000 Welcome. “There were 11 in the jump-off, and I went last,” said Sloane. “I was conservative to fences 1 through 4 and then stepped on the gas for the last three fences to make up time. It was really exciting because I haven’t done many jump-offs with him. He’s so fast across the ground. I decided not to do the grand prix and instead save him for the third week’s $100,000 class on Friday (July 10).”
In the hunter ring, it was Sloane’s mom Julie Coles who hung a tricolor on the banner with top honors in the Adult Amateur, 50 and over, section. She guided the 13-year-old Odiel, owned by Janice Aron, to victory in three out of four over fences classes for the championship. Odiel started the year in the 1.40m jumpers but has successfully transitioned to the hunters this spring. The Spanish-bred earned the Performance Working Hunter 3’3″ Reserve Championship at Upperville and placed 12th in his first USHJA International Hunter Derby outing there.
“We weren’t planning on having my mom show him, but he did the High Performance the previous week and had gotten an 85 in the handy. So, I did him in the derby, and he was great. He just got a little jumpery over one fence,” said Sloane. “Since he didn’t do a division, I thought it would be good for him to go around and have some nice trips, and my mom gets along really well with him. They ended up winning, and it was the first time she’d ever shown him. She was amazing!”
Julie Coles and Odiel
While Sloane was up in New York, Assistant Trainer Lillibet Motion stayed in Virginia to hold down the fort and attend the Showday National in Culpeper, Virginia. There, she helped Rachel Paradise to top ribbons in the Junior Hunters aboard Island Life. Lillibet will remain in Culpeper for the Cavalier Classic, and Sloane will join her after she returns from New York.
Spring Ledge had another great year at Upperville! We are very lucky to have such a great show right around the corner from us, and we enjoy it every year.
We would like to congratulate all our riders and horses on their accomplishments! Nilani Trent’s Autumn Rhythm won two out of four over fences in the Second Year Green section and took home the championship! He also placed 10th in the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Odiel, owned by Janice Aron, took 12th in the Derby with Sloane as well as some blues and a reserve championship in the 3’3” Performance Hunters.
Our amateurs and juniors had a great day in the hunters, with Julie Coles winning the Woodslane Farm Adult Amateur Hunter Classic with Atilla and Nilani Trent taking second in the Adult Amateurs on MVP. Rachel Paradise and Island Life also took home great ribbons in the junior hunters!
On the jumper side, we were very happy to debut L’Ami Noir in his first 1.50M class, jumping amazingly with only a cheap 4 faults. WEC Damokles took second in the 7-year-old jumpers, and Le’Roi, owned by Olivia Pirovano, took home two blues in the schooling jumpers with Sloane. Madison Warner nabbed a third-placed ribbon in the Children’s Classic on her new mount Rose Alba. We would also like to congratulate her sister, Alexandra Warner, on a great first show with her new mount Accolade, owned by Skyler Voss! They put in a perfect double-clear round in the High Children’s and took eighth in the Classic.