Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Hi all!  While we are enjoying a lovely Holiday break (our horses too!) we thought we’d put a little bug in your ear.  While it seems so far away, the beginning of our horse show season is actually fast approaching.  More so, the entry deadlines are fast approaching and nobody wants those pesky late fees or the possibility of being on a wait list! 

To start our 2014 FCF Show Season, we’re heading south to 2 wonderful venues from mid-February to mid-March.  Our first stop will be at the HITS Arizona Winter Circuit, located in Tucson.  Our plan will be to compete in the Sahuaro Classic Feb 19-23 and the Arizona Winter Festival Feb 26- March 2, better known as weeks 4 and 5 of the Circuit.  Now this is what we’re hoping to be a good, confidence-building start to our year.  The Circuit in Arizona, while being a quality venue with good footing, large arenas, top-notch course designers and great prizes, is perhaps a little more relaxed than the Thermal circuit.  Smaller class counts, shorter days and quieter atmosphere make for a less intense experience and a great way to get back into the swing of competition without being overwhelmed.  Also, while being a little further, the show is in general less expensive.  Cheaper stalls, quality lodging at lesser prices and reduced class prices make for an easier time on the wallet.  We love this show as a start to the year, as our horses and riders have always returned confident, sharper and ready win, all while having a blast.

After our little warm-up in Arizona, we will be heading for the big leagues at the HITS Thermal Desert Circuit.  We intend on loading up and heading directly over to Thermal from AZ for DC VI March 4-9 and DCII March 11-16.  This is truly a fantastic show, located just outside of the gorgeous Palm Springs, it has everything one could want in quality competition.  The best footing, the best course designers, the best jumps, large arenas, it’s a horsey playland.  The quality of the show and location is reflected in the prices, such has more expensive stalls and lodging option.  Although, to mediate costs, a favorite thing for people to do is band together and rent a house in the area.  Also, being so close to Palm Springs, it’s a great destination spot for the whole family.  The weeks we are planning on offer many prize money classes for all divisions and the spectating can’t be beat.  A $1,000,000 Grand Prix and a $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge make this a special show and super fun to watch!  This is a great place to challenge oneself and compete in one of the best venues with the best competition the west coast has to offer.  We’ve been traveling to Thermal for many years now and our well-prepared horses and riders always excel and have one of the most enjoyable showing experiences of the year.

Both Horse Shows are suitable and recommended for all our riders and horses at FCF.  Each venue offers classes for all level of rider in the hunter, jumper, pony or equitation arenas.  The trips can be catered to your schedule as well.  You can only do 1 week?  No problem.  We will arrange shipping for anywhere, anytime.  Have to fly back and forth?  Totally cool.  FCF Professionals will be on hand to care for and manage your equine partner.  There are many options and we encourage all of our customers to consider these incredible horse shows.  Not only is it fun to travel, but competing in new arenas with new course designers against new competition can only lend to improvement.  We will leave schedules and entry forms for all 4 weeks in the main client tack room for everyone to look over.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to find your nearest FCF Pro!  Looking for more info on the shows or lodging?  Check out the HITS website: http://hitsshows.com/

Looking forward to a fantastic and exciting 2014 Show Season!!!

FCF Pro Chelsea and Hugo in Thermal last year

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


It was the trip that almost didn’t happen.  The Dallas/Fort Worth airport had apparently become our nemesis with ice storms making for delayed and cancelled flights.  We arrived at SFO on Saturday, with a late morning flight booked to Dallas and then an evening connecting flight to Queretaro.  Upon arrival (after a police escort to our parking spot… no joke!), we found out our flight to Dallas was delayed by 3 hours and our flight to Queretaro cancelled.  Well shoot.  It was either fly to Dallas and wait or stay in SF and wait, bottom line: no horse show on Sunday for us.  Ok, lets stay here and try again tomorrow.
Told you we had a police escort!

And try we did, arriving at the SFO airport at 5:30 am hoping for good news.  We were quickly disappointed.  No go through Dallas.  We were thankfully re-routed through Houston, although our flight didn’t leave til 10:30 am, it was now only 6:15 am. Ugh.  After a lovely meander through the airport and a lengthy breakfast, we were finally on our way, a day late.

When we finally arrived at our final destination of Queretaro, we were met with a little bit of good news:  The horse show had been rained out on the weekend so they were holding the Grand Prix and the Open Classic on Monday, which was now tomorrow.  Perfect!  We would now get to watch several horses we were interested in.  After a night of rest, we were up early, ready to get a few trials in before the Grand Prix started at 9.  Our business partner in this sales venture, Antonio Maurer, had several quality horses lined up and waiting when we walked into the warm up arena.  After a bit of riding and videoing, we enjoyed breakfast while watching an incredible Grand Prix at a beautiful venue.  Balvanera has an enormous grass field, beautiful jumps and a great atmosphere.  So fun!  After that, it was time for more riding and videoing, then time for the Classic.  Much to everyone’s delight, Antonio brought home the blue ribbon on a horse we intend to bring up.  Yay!  Check his round out:

We enjoyed a quick dinner, then hopped in the car for the 2 hour trip to Leon, where Antonio’s new facility is located.  We’d never been here before so it was exciting to check out the new digs.  Boy they didn’t disappoint either!  After a night of rest in preparation for an extremely busy day, we were at the stables by 6 am.  While waiting for the sun to rise enough for us to ride, we checked things out. A beautiful 40 stall barn with many organized tack rooms sits behind 2 massive outdoor arenas, a huge clubhouse and an indoor ring, used mainly to keep out of the hot sun.  With plans to expand and create a Grass Jumping field, the place is pretty close to perfection.  6:30 am rolled around, and it was light enough for us to ride, and ride we did!  With time on the mind (we had to be at the airport in Guadalajara at 2:30 pm) we quickly went through our list, trying beautiful horse after beautiful horse.  Here are a couple of our favorites:
-Precioso: Precioso Jumping
-Taxco de la Nutria: Taxco Jumping

The handsome Precioso

Outside Antonio's barn

Looking down the barn aisle, hi horsies!

Talia, the adorable dog we want!

Upon completion of our list of available horses at this facility, we jumped into the car and took of on another 2 hour journey to Guadalajara with 15 more horses waiting to be tried. Yikes!  We arrived in good time and got to work, quickly trying and videoing more gorgeous horses.  Here are another couple of our faves from Guadalajara:
-Corita: Corita Jumping
-Rio Negro: Rio Negro Jumping
-Quidance: Quidance Jumping

One of the pretty rings in Guadalajara

The barn

Another ring

A quick change and wash and off again, this time to the airport, which we arrived at right on time! Success!  We always have such an incredible time on our shopping trips, and encourage anyone interested to join us on our next adventures!  See anything you like on the videos?  Email us and we can give you all the info you might need J  We’re very excited to hopefully bring a few of these talented, wonderful horses home to CA!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Viva Las Vegas!

What do you do when you have 2 quality horses and 2 trainers look to end their show season with a bang?  Head to Vegas baby!!  Our FCF Pro’s Chelsea and Giana rounded up a horse trailer (thanks Dina!) loaded up and made the 10 hr drive to the Nevada desert for a week of the best horse showing on the west coast.

Our epic lunch spot during the drive

The drive was smooth and uneventful (yay), and the arrival was intense.  With only 1 way in and 1 way out through the indoor stables, you have to wait in line until you can pull through and then you have 30 minutes on the clock to get your horses/stuff unloaded and get outta there... or else!  So as soon as we pulled in, the race was on and we’re proud to say we clocked in at 23 minutes (go us!).   Now, this show is very unique in that it is hosted inside of a huge hotel just off the Vegas strip.  You literally walk down the hotel hall to the indoor arena and exit through a door in the side to the stabling.  If it wasn’t for the one outdoor hacking arena (beside the freeway I might add) you would never see the light of day.  Very reminiscent of Indoor Finals.  Although, it’s truly interesting, and fun to be able to go throw some money down at the roulette table, eat lunch at fantastic restaurants or visit the spa between rounds!  Other perks: food delivery to your stalls, a live feed of the ring to your hotel room tv and the best footing, jumps, course designers and competition a show can offer.

Vegas Main Show Arena

The tiny Warm Up!

Vegas Baby!

Our week of showing was one to remember.  Dusty Z and Giana competed throughout the week in the open classes, executing beautiful clean rounds over challenging courses.  Dusty Z proved to everyone what a brave and bold horse he is by walking off the trailer Monday night and straight into a class Tuesday morning with no preparation and immediately going clear.  Good boy! We love that horse.  It was also a big week for our boy Peter and Chelsea.  They started the week with a warm up class on Tuesday, rest day Wednesday and the FEI Welcome Grand Prix on Thursday night.  Peter jumped so well in the Thursday Grand Prix (watch his round here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY85roHRuqE ) that the decision was made: it was time for his first World Cup Qualifier!  Saturday night came around and the course was HUGE for the $54,000 Grand Prix of Las Vegas.  Peter proved that while inexperienced, he is a man of heart.  A few of the wider oxers proved difficult and maybe a little surprising (this class being by far the largest Peter as ever jumped) but he jumped around with class and style, even clearing the last vertical which clocked in at a towering 1.65m!  We’re so proud of Peter and know that with a little more experience, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Giana in the outdoor Hacking Ring
FEI Jog Order

Peter resting up for his Jog!
Jogging in the middle of Vegas

One thing I forgot to mention: with only 2 horses competing, we made the decision to do our own grooming.  It was busy, sticking to feed schedules, mucking, grooming, bathing, wrapping, the whole nine yards, but it is something we enjoy doing when we have the opportunity,  Majority of us started this sport purely based on our love of these gorgeous creatures and with this whirlwind lifestyle, it can be easy to feel as if we lose our connection with these animals.  By being their caretakers, we had the opportunity to reconnect with our horses and spend a little quality time getting to know them on a deeper level.  Sometimes that can make all the difference inside the arena.  Also, special thank you and shout out to our helping hand and Groom Extraordinaire, Skyler Brittner, for helping us to take top notch care of our boys.  From hand walking, to mucking, to bathing, he was there to help us out!
Skyler and Dusty Z returning from the show arena

After all that, and on 4 hours sleep, we loaded our boys and equipment back up and drove on home.  It was sad to see the sights of Vegas recede into the distance, but one thought comforted us: Next Year!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Show Halloween

Let's Show Halloween, always a fan favorite for it's good times, costumes, more decorations than you can shake a stick at and the easy-going atmosphere.  While only being a B rated show, the fun, prize money, prizes and quality venue make it a yearly must-stop on the schedule.

The week started well, all our wonderful horses competing at their best, producing top ribbons in all their respective divisions and taking in the massive amounts of decorations in-stride.  Pun intended.  Thursday brought about the first of the fun night classes featured throughout the week: the $6000 Jem Stables Haunted Hunter Derby.  Held at night in the indoor ring, with highly decorated jumps, it's a test of bravery for our hunters.  Square One, under the guidance of FCF Pro Chelsea, passed the test with flying colours to say the least.  They breezed around the first course, coming out with a score of 91, meaning they returned in 1st position.  The handy course proved to be tough, but not for our boy, who was flawless for another score in the 90's and ending with the win out of 43 other entries!  The best part?  This was Square One's second victory in a row in this class!

Way to go Square One!

On to Friday and the start of the Jr/Am divisions.  Our clients, ready to end the year on a high note, stepped in to the ring and showed their skills.  Our Jumper riders Ashlee, Brittany, Avery, and Lynne all had smooth clean rounds with top ribbons, and Lynne coming out with a blue her first time in the 1.20m division on Cielo.  Our hunters were equally as successful, with Joan, Sharon and Claire on her new mount Karat all having solid ribbon-winning rounds.  Cheryl, our apparent equitation superstar, got her 2 Medal Finals classes started with an 80 score in the first round of the Zone 10 Mini Medal Finals and a beautifully ridden flat phase in the Carolyn Day Medal Finals.

The weekend brought more fun, clear rounds, high scores and ribbons.  Cheryl continued to excel in her Medal finals, riding a strong second round and work off in the Zone 10 Mini Medal finals, walking away as Reserve Champion! The prize? a $1000 shopping spree at Stirrup Cup Tack!!  Her winning ways continued when she was named Reserve Champion of the Carolyn Day 31 +Over Division after a gruelling flat phase, written test, gymnastics phase and jumping phase.  Oh and Boardwalk was Baby Green Hunter Champion earlier in the week.  We're so proud and happy for you Cheryl!  The weekend continued with Joan, Sharon and Claire delivering top rides in their hunter divisions, as well as the presentation of the $1000 Joan Gamble Adult Amateur Classic.  FCF was proud to organize the class and Perpetual Trophy in honour of one of the best horsewomen we know.  She has done so much for our sport and for FCF, we could never truly express our gratitude to her.  We love you Joan!  

Joan presenting her Perpetual Trophy to the winner

Things continued on the up and up for our Jumper girls, with Ashlee and Brittany producing more clean rounds, finishing with a win for Brittany and Galeon in the 1.00m.  Go girls!  Cord, at his first show with FCF, fit right in to our winning group, coming out as Champion in the .95m division and a 2nd place finish in the $1000 Classic.  I think we're really going to love this guy.  Lynne and Cielo finished with another win and the division Championship in the Modified Jr/Am, not bad for their 1.20m debut! Our Grand Prix horses also finished up well, with Valentino Z the Champion of the 1.30m and a 6th place finish in the $15,000 Jumper Classic.  Dusty Z jumped a fabulous clean round, with 1 pesky time fault keeping him just out of the ribbons.  Oh and possibly the biggest success of the weekend??  Jesse James flying to a 1st place finish in the Pup Pup High Jump!  Do you think we could turn him into a horse?

Cheryl with all her loot, winner winner chicken dinner!

It was a fun filled week, with the festive atmosphere lending to a relaxed, cheerful experience.  We love our horses for being the wonderful creatures they are, and we love our clients for being such hardworkers and great supporters.  It makes our job a dream come true!

Perhaps the biggest winner of the week: Jesse James!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Packing for a Fall Show

Hi all, quick on the heels of our last blog, we wanted to add this little side-note.  Since we have the wonderful Sonoma Horse Park offering 7 competition weeks throughout the year, for many of you the Halloween Show will be your first off the property this year.  Packing and preparing, therefore, could pose some questions.  We are here to answer!  Please ensure everything on our upcoming list is clean and packed neatly inside your tack trunk by sunday morning, as the horses will be leaving monday morning and we like to be organized!  Ok here is the FCF packing list:

-Bridle & Martingale
-Boots or clean Polo Wraps
-Clean Standing Wraps and Bandages (some of you may not be in ownership of these, as it is easy to use the FCF stockpile when at home. Please note, we will NOT be packing extras, you are responsible for these items and your hard-working horse deserves them.  If you do not own these items, please visit the Equestrian's Concierge, who will happily outfit you!)
-Clean Saddle Pads
-Shipping Halter or Leather Halter (Safest when tied in the horse vans)
-1 Clean Sheet
-1 Clean Heavy Blanket (yes it's getting that cold at night, your newly clipped horses will appreciate it!)
-Your Personal Equipment (helmets, boots, gloves, spurs, etc should all be inside)
-1 Clean Tack Trunk Cover

Hopefully that covers the essentials, what is not needed are grooming or care supplies.  These will all be supplied by the FCF set-up.  If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to ask Dusty, Chelsea, or Giana.  They will happily steer you in the right direction!  We're very excited for this fun event and hope it entices more of you to visit the many wonderful show facilities offered in California!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Late Summer Recap

Ok, I know, I know.  We're probably the worst bloggers, maybe ever.  They are far and few between and probably lengthy and rambly when published.  I apologize!  It's been a pretty crazy 2 months which included many horse shows, horse sales and spotty internet reception.  I will try to make it quick, precise, informative, interesting, and you know, all that good stuff.

We left off at the last blog from the wonderful Menlo Charity Horse Show.  Upon our return from Menlo, our 2 Grand Prix horses, Peter and Nickel, took a little trip to the beautiful Del Mar Horse Park for 2 weeks of fun by the beach.  They had a successful 2 weeks of competition, bringing home blue ribbons and posting beautiful trips in the first FEI classes of the year.  Sadly, this was to be our last show with our beloved Nickel.  Congratulations to Joie Gatlin Show Stables on the purchase of this incredible horse, we will truly miss him!

Go Peter!
We miss you Nickel!

After that, it was on to the final 2 weeks of horse shows at our home, Sonoma Horse Park.  We had many great moments, wins, championships, goals met and of course fun!  Lynne Lancaster and her fab mare Cielo were Champions in the Modified Jr/Am division (with 2 wins!), Cielo was the winner of the Open Jumper Stake with Chelsea aboard, mother-daughter team Cheryl Gray and Claire Daniels each earned blue ribbons in their divisions, newcomer Avery Romano and Coppacabana made their debut together in the jumper ring with multiple clear rounds (go girls!), Brittany Shehi and Remonta Galeon made the move up to the Low Adult division with clear rounds across the board and Sharon Mackenzie also earned her share of top ribbons in the Adult Amateur hunter division. Go team FCF!  Also showing were sales horses Monte Carlo and R Lobo, each earning blue ribbons and Monte Carlo walked away with 2 Championships.  Dusty Z and Giana Roberge made the move up to the 1.25m division with top ribbons and Manicero and Chelsea also made the move up earning top ribbons themselves.  Peter, now our main man, had great rounds in the Grand Prix's and was the winner of the Open Welcome the first week!  It's been such a fabulous year of horse shows at Sonoma Horse Park, and we are so so lucky to call it home :)

Cielo is such a Champ.

As soon as Sonoma ended, Sacramento International started!  As they say: no rest for the wicked.  That monday we were loaded up and headed out for 2 weeks of incredible competition.  The 2 weeks brought about the USHJA Adult Jumper Championships, the arrival of new Grand Prix horse Valentino Z, Rambo and Ashlee Segard's return to the show ring after a year's hiatus and some beautiful footing, jumps, course designing and show jumping!  Lynne and Cielo gave it a go in the hotly contested USHJA Adult Jumper Championships, which included a team and individual competition.  Lynne was a part of the bronze medal winning team (our fearless leader, Dusty, acting as Chef d'Equipe!) and her consistent efforts throughout the week earned her 7th place individually.  Congrats Lynne!  Ashlee and Rambo had beautiful rounds in the Low Adult division, earning many top ribbons and Rambo jumped a fantastic double clear to finish 8th in the Open Classic with Chelsea.  Valentino Z, literally fresh off the van, stepped right into the show ring and earned ribbons in the 1.30m - 1.40m classes both weeks and even delivered beautiful trips in the Grand Prix the first week and the $25,000 Open Stake the second week!  Not bad, seeing as Chelsea had only ever ridden the horse one time before, a year and a half ago!  We're very excited for this new prospect.  Lastly, Peter, our new man of the hour.  He has certainly taken the role of #1 to heart and couldn't have jumped better if he tried!  Top ribbons in the 1.30m and 1.40m classes started it off.  Thursday night of the second week brought about the $33,000 FEI Welcome Speed Grand Prix (only his 2nd FEI class ever) and he threw down a beautiful clear round for an 8th place finish out of 58 horses.  What a man!  On Sunday, he again threw down a double clear effort, finishing 5th out of 68 starters in the $25,000 Open Stake.  Do I see World Cup classes in this horses' future??....  All in all, it was a fantastic 2 weeks of stellar competition, can't wait for next year!

Lynne enjoys one of her favourite activities: the Victory Gallop!!

Welcome Valentino Z

The main man, Peter

Now that the dust has cleared and we've had a chance to catch our breath, it's on to the final 2 horse shows of the season for FCF.  Let's Show Halloween is just around the corner, quickly followed by the Las Vegas National.  We're so proud of all our clients and horses progress and success over the year's show season and can't wait for an exciting end to 2013!

Oh, and a side note:  for those that haven't seen it, our own Dusty Blackwood was recently the "featured professional" on our fav website Proequest.  Check out the article!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Menlo Charity Horse Show

Last week was the ever-popular Menlo horse show.  This show is like no other on our calender, as it's truly a social event.  Every night has a different social activity, from dinners to Gala's, fashion shows to silent auctions and some of the best shopping around

Some sights at the beautiful Menlo

.  It's almost more for the spectator than the exhibitor.  Almost.  While all these fun events are going on, there are some pretty fantastic classes being held.  International Hunter Derbies, Take Your Own Line Speed Classes, Horse and Hound Races, and the Grand Prix to name a few.  It was an exciting week, whether you were there for the horses or to have fun with friends.

The first part of the week was all about our two attending hunters, Square One and Journey.  FCF Pro Chelsea enjoyed the rides on these two lovely horses, prepping them for a busy weekend.  Journey performed beautifully in his classes, always the business man in the show ring.  Square One tried his end in the uber-competitive Performance division, coming out with scores in 80s and 4th place finishes.  He's such a competitor.
Square One

Thursday brought the start of the Adult divisions.  Owners Joan Gamble and Sharon Mackenzie have never looked better.  Throughout the whole weekend the ladies proved what consistent and educated horsewomen they are, laying down trip after trip and earning top ribbons along the way.  Sharon, in her very first Menlo appearance, was the winner of her age group's U/S and her well-ridden rounds earned her many 3rds, 4ths and 5ths against some stiff competition.  Joan herself had many ribbons flying from her horse's bridle, as her gorgeous trips earned her scores of 83 and 84.  May we just remind everyone that this was Joan's return to the ring after a year's absence??  Unbelievable, this lady sure can ride.  We are so proud to call you both part of Team FCF.
Square One waiting for the jog!

The weekend brought about the arrival of our Grand Prix horse's, Peter and Nickel for the $40,000 Bentley Grand Prix.  This highlight event brought some of the best competition in Northern CA to contend for such a hefty purse.  Our boys were at a slight disadvantage, as their first time in the ring was for the Grand Prix itself, but being the ultimate showmen they are, this would be no problem.  In front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd, the boys jumped their hearts out, with Nickel earning a spot in the jump-off.  Nickel, always fleet of foot, flew around the course and came in with an excellent 3rd place finish.  Peter, not far behind, landed in 9th position.  A great evenings work for our boys, words can't express how much we love them!  After the victory gallop, we wrapped up, packed up and headed home.  Phew.  Busy week but gotta love this heritage horse show!