Phillip Dutton Spends a Rainy Day at Paradise Farm in Aiken, SC
Thanks to Practical Horseman’s 40th year anniversary and “Training with the Stars: Win a Day with Phillip Dutton” clinic, sponsored by Cosequin, and the use of Lellie Ward’s Paradise Farm, Shannon Brown of Guyton, Georgia along with 9 of her friends spent the entire wet day of December 14th attending a private clinic with Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton.
Shannon Brown entered a 250 word essay offered by Practical Horseman, along with 464 other contestants, explaining why their particular barn deserved a free clinic with a equestrian super star like Phillip Dutton. Practical Horseman struggled to whittle it down to the 10 people, that were asked to send in videos as well. Phillip was instrumental in picking the the winner out of the top 3 contestants, and is the first to admit that it was not an easy decision, and there was a lot of work put into the decision by many people… One group was from Montana, another from New Jersey and Shannon Brown from Georgia. The winning essay and video, was determined by a couple of factors. According to Phillip, “Shannon’s barn didn’t have an opportunity to train with very experienced riders and were a little underprivileged there, and maybe I could help.”
Phillip had originally planned to travel to the winner’s farm, but when it was discovered that there was not a cross country venue available close by, he called Lellie Ward and asked if they could use her facility, Paradise Farm in Aiken, South Carolina. Lellie was very accommodating, and the participants thoroughly enjoyed riding at such a top notch facility.
The riders were definitely a diversified group, in age, discipline and horse flesh. Phillip’s experienced eye and tenacious style of teaching along with the attitude of gratitude by the participants was quite exhilarating to watch. It was obvious that each rider was determined to learn.
This particular barn group ranged from preteens to to middle-aged women and were mounted on a variety of horses; thoroughbreds off the track, warm blood crosses, draft cross, ponies, Irish Sporthorse as well as a 5 yr old “leggy” paint stallion. Their riding background was equally diverse. The group was split into 2 groups of 5, starting with flat work and stadium jumping in the morning, and moving on to cross country in the afternoon.
Phillip’s fastidious, and persistant way of teaching combined with attentive and grateful students resulted in accomplishments that were worthwhile. The weather forecast was heavy rain showers, which fortunately turned into pendulous skies, with an occasional shower, that did not seem to affect either teacher or student. There were a few students who had never jumped cross-country, and needless to say, what a memorable way to learn. Phillips’ no nonsense way of teaching resulted in the student riding ability exceeding any of the riders’ expectations. Shannon actually had a little bit of difficulty jumping over a ditch, which may or may not have stemmed form a 2011 “ditch accident” that resulted in a shattered arm, along with plates and screws in her arm. Needless to say, she was a bit self conscious when it came to the “ditch” exercise, and as she expected, her horse Black Jack felt her tenseness before the ditch and lowered his head as Shannon gracefully slid down his neck to the ground without any injuries. Phillip gave her leg up, broke a dead branch off a pine tree and with little hesitation got behind the horse as he jumped the ditch with ease, back and forth a few times and actually finishing the exercise by proudly jumping the training level ditch.
Phillip concluded his cross country instruction emphasizing the importance of position and balance and staying in your tack without interfering with your horse. He continued by saying that needs to be 2nd nature, and something you simply do not even need to think about. He then mentioned how refreshing this particular group of students were and as everyone by this time was soaked to the bone, he ended saying, “Now, let’s get out of the rain!”
When Shannon was asked how her day went, she said that words could not explain the feeling she had! What a great way to celebrate Practical Horseman’s 40th year anniversary. Cosequine and Phillip Dutton’s obvious love of the Equestrian Sport of Eventing, paired with the opportunity that Practical Horseman supplied will be appreciated for many years to come.
Photos and story by Nancy Bruen Smith