WAGENER--It was an opportunity eventer Jeannette Ford couldn’t let pass by. The horseman was among those participating this weekend at the J.J. Tate Clinic at Toi Trent and Sandy Harris’ Quintynne Hill Farm.

The Durham, N.C.-based horseman brought two horses with her to the clinic, both Thoroughbreds. However, Ford was initially going to bring her Warmblood mare, who is doing fourth level, but withdrew her from consideration after she had come up lame.

The two off the track Thoroughbreds are from the 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses also known as CANTER.

Ford’s objective is to move the Warmblood up into the Federation Equestre Internationale levels with Prix St. George on the horizon for the mare. The rider is in the process of working toward getting her USDF Silver medal.

It was through Scott and Susanne Hassler’s Young Dressage Horse Trainers Symposium that Ford knew Tate, but she had ridden with her only once previously prior to this weekend.

“I’ve been so impressed with watching and hearing her think, that when I got a chance to ride with her a couple of months ago in North Carolina, I jumped at it,” said Ford.

Larry is a chestnut gelding that Ford has been eventing through preliminary level, but collectively they may not have the courage to go intermediate. The rider/horse combination rode second level.

“He’s an awfully nice mover, and has a fabulous mind,” said Ford. “I’m really wanting to focus more on dressage with him.”

Ford referred to her horses, Larry and her 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare Emily Bug, as cobbler’s children.

“I teach at a lower level than J.J. does, but I teach people who are maybe thinking about heading out to training or first level, or to their first horse trials, doing their first novice or training.”

The biggest challenge for Ford is not moving the horses up the levels, but getting those first steps right, she said.

“The thing I like about competing is that it’s very humbling, and it really shows your holes,” said Ford. “On the mare I didn’t bring, I think the problem is good, clean flying changes. Really, my problem is the acceptance of the aids all the time, not just when she wants to. And, I think that’s with this mare (Emily Bug) too.”

Emily Bug has made the transition to her new vocation. The 9-year-old daugther of Coastal Storm didn’t have the most illustrious career on the racetrack, but possesses a number of outstanding attributes that should make her a formidable talent in the dressage ring.

“She’s the smartest one on my farm and that includes me,” said Ford. “She’s frighteningly bright, and a little opinionated, and by participating in this clinic, I’m expecting to get huge insight. When I get it together and she sets her mind to it, she can really be pretty fancy.”