Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Rising 20 (and hopefully has stopped growing) and hailing from Beiseker Canada, near Calgary, David Ziegler joined the Blue Hill Farm team as a working student approximately a year ago.  Prior to joining BHF, David has had a life rich in horses and multiple disciplines.  His Mom has ridden both english and western, showing in equitation & jumper divisions before competing on the western paint horse circuit. 

The whole family has ridden western (David has two sisters, one his twin) but David started pony club at 7 and caught the eventing bug early.  Lots of boys in that area rode western or did the jumpers, but he focused on eventing from the beginning.   Initially he got a taste for eventing through pony club, riding through his D1 rating, until 2006 when he left to train seriously within the Canadian event world.
Topper at Prelim
He started to show jump with Marilyn Dixon (Irish eventing team), evented with Sandra Donnelly (highest placed Canadian at Beijing) and Lorraine Lafraimboise (former Canadian eventing team coach).  In 2009/10 he headed to Ocala to ride with Leslie Law, as his sisters had since switched to eventing, and his older sister was a working student for Leslie for 3 years. His mother rented an apartment in Ocala in 2009 and all kids went with Mom to Florida, while attending the Rockyview Virtual School.  They were not new to this winter migration, as the  prior 2 winters they lived in Ca and show jumped at HITS Thermal.  
During the winter of 2010/11, David started to train with Missy in Ocala, returning home in the spring to finish high school.  Later that year, he received a call from Missy that Steph had been hurt and would he be willing to start early as a working student.  The next day in Nov 2011, he hopped on a plane and came to Blue Hill Farm!
BG Making Prelim Look Like Short Stirrup!!
During this time Missy was bringing BG back into training and Feb 2012 they ran at Rocking Horse & then Advanced at Poplar, where he unfortunately pulled his hamstring on XC.   BG returned home to recover and his ability to return to the 4* level was in question.  Missy and Jess decided that it was best to retire him from the top level and to re-evaluate an appropriate career for the horse who has successfully competed in France, England & brought home a 3rd place prize from Rolex in 2008.
Last winter David asked Missy whether she would potentially lease him out to a young rider, as it became clear that would be a great direction for BG.  He was not necessarily plugging for his own career, but was curious about this school master’s next move.   Missy replied that he would only go to a perfect home.  They never discussed it again, but in Aug David was asked to get in the tack to bring BG slowly back for conditioning work.  The relationship solidified and soon they had competition plans.  At one point David O’Connor actually called to see if they would lease him out to his YR program, but it appeared that BG (Big Guy) had found his next eventing partner in a 6’4” young man from Canada!
David showing upper level form!
With the goal of prepping David and BG for Young Riders, a plan was put into action to qualify. With the FEI rule changes, in order for David & BG to compete at future championships, BG needed to have his nationality changed to that of his rider, so for $1 and a cup of maple syrup, BG was "sold" to David and is now a Canadian!
He recently ran the combined Prelim test at the Florida Horse Park where he was in the lead before withdrawing prior to XC.  David joked that at the next event he took off in dressage & was a wee bit strong!  BG decided he wanted to get done the dressage done early & the medium trot was anything but medium!  He was fabulous in show jumping, marching right in without a warm up, jumping clear with 1 time fault.  
They had a ton of time on XC because BG was so strong that David contained him to show jumping canter.  Even with these time faults, he came off course feeling amazing.   Afterwards  David went over and hugged Missy, telling her that he felt like a child from the Make a  Wish Foundation who had just checked off his final bucket list items!  
The ultimate goal with BG is to run a 2 CIC & 1 CCI 2* to qualify, but finding qualifying events this year for Young Riders in mid July may prove challenging.  They can’t do Bromont because of visa restriction, as once they leave the US, they can't re-enter. 

David’s own horse,
Peninsula Topman (aka Topper) is also in the cards for Young  Riders.  This is the horse he brought to BHF, who has run a CCI 1* before the decision was made to focus on the dressage.  He’s a talented jumper with perfect form but not enough bravery on XC, so their sites are set on qualifying in dressage for YR’s.  They plan to qualify for Devon this fall,  take him to Wellington next year and to qualify in 2014.  Perhaps that year we will see the first ever Young Rider to qualify both a horse in Dressage and Eventing?!

I asked David for a bit of feedback on his experience at Blue Hill Farm since joining as a working student, and having first hand knowledge of their barn community, his commentary is spot on!  
“ Blue Hill has the best working student position on the continent, as everyone is family. It’s not just tacking up horses and slave labor, there is a real focus on improving your riding, not just on your own horse, but every horse you ride.  Something that so many other programs lack. Missy has had more influence on my riding than anyone else and there's no place I'd rather be.  

Riding BG has shown me the end result of Missy and Jessica’s training program, and I aspire to the challenge that one day I'll be able to produce horses as well as they do. I feel that since having the ride on BG, my own riding on Topper has improved exponentially.”

In the immediate future BG and David will run Intermediate this upcoming weekend at Poplar.  They’re hoping the bigger fences will make the XC a bit more ride-able.  The rest of the BHF crew will be at Poplar as well, with Steph running the combined Int/Prelim, Megan Lynn running 2* and Kathleen Sullivan taking both her horses in the Training.

Good luck and safe riding to the entire BHF team this weekend!  Next stop Pennsylvania.  We can’t wait to have everyone back home!!