WAGENER--Aiken based upper level eventer Pippa Moon had set her sights on being an architect when she attended North Carolina State University, and really didn’t entertain the thought of becoming a professional horseman.
However, as fate would have it, the Maine native would not only direct her energies toward eventing, but competing at the upper levels. Moon would travel the country in her mid-20s and participate in the discipline at many of the sport’s major venues.
And, it was while growing up on her parents farm that Moon had the opportunity to foster her love of the outdoors. Moon was also exposed to her parents Morgan horses.
“It wasn’t a working farm, it was sort of a private horse farm,” said Moon. “It was a hobby for my parents.”
It was those same early experiences that provided Moon with a foundation to build on. The horseman fortuitously would become involved with the sport of eventing. Aurora Boris, a horse Moon referred to as a novice packer, would help her evolve from those nascent stages into a stronger rider.
“I got a horse that was really experienced in it, without really knowing what eventing was,” said Moon, who would learn more about the sport from friends and trainers in the area, before she began competing the gelding.
And as her career progressed, Moon began trading up horses, reselling ones she was in the process of producing and riding, in a quest to find a more suitable ride. Moon wasn’t your typical junior rider, and didn’t have a great deal of experience at the upper levels.
“That’s how I ended up with my advanced horse,” said Moon. “When I bought him in 2003, I had only run a few preliminaries.”
Ribbo, is a 17 hand, liver chestnut Irish Sport Horse, and is currently being leased by Sarah Murphy, who finished fourth with the gelding last weekend at Chattahoochee Hills going intermediate.
“I brought him along and produced him myself,” said Moon. “I didn’t want to quit with him after college. I didn’t want to sell him. He was actually injured at the time, so he wasn’t really salable. I gave myself a few years to ride him to see how far I could take him, and the few years turned into a few more.”
It was at that time, Moon realized she could make a living working with horses, and the business began to flourish.
“It all sort of came together, little by little, little moves and different clients, getting more confident over time,” said Moon.
The eventer who would compete at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C. while attending college, relocated to Southern Pines after graduating from school.
“I went back to North Carolina because that kind of seemed like home,” said Moon. “I really enjoyed college there. I went to Southern Pines instead of Raleigh. I ended up riding with Bobby Costello and John Williams.”
The horseman spent a year, 2006, working and riding for upper level eventer Jan Bynny, and benefitted greatly from the experience at Surefire Eventing.
“She went to the World Equestrian Games that year, she was first and second in a three star with Water Front and Task Force, they were at the top together. It was a great year. It was busy but it gave me the opportunity to get a lot of exposure to what it takes to produce upper level horses. But, she also had a good sales business. I learned so much that year, everything from learning how to train off the track Thoroughbreds to how to produce upper level horses.”
Eventing, like any other sport is filled with its highs and lows, and Moon experienced disappointment when Ribbo, who qualified for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI**** sustained a soft tissue injury.
“He qualified when he was relatively young, 13, to run at Rolex, and I just kept having injuries in the spring, and he kept not being able to go in the years he was qualified,” said Moon. “And then, when I got him back out to the three star level, I didn’t get qualified again. I was a little too slow cross country, again, I was sort of hesitant because of the soft tissue injuries. I didn’t exactly run him as fast as I needed, to requalify.”
The current focal point of Moon’s business is her clients’ goals, and the emphasis is on their horses and the sale horses in her barn.
“I sold the one serious upper level potential horse (Le Corsair) I had to a really sweet girl in North Carolina named Alex Martone,” said Moon.
And although her focus in the present is placing an emphasis in selling her clients’ horses, the eventer is always looking for that next upper level horse. It can be a challenge competing and having a sales business, she said.
“I find it difficult to do both 100 percent, to be diligent in selling my clients’ horses, and to be here enough on the weekends to be available for prospective buyers,” said Moon. “It gets hard to be on the road with a serious caliber horse, and be at home doing my due diligience on clients’ horses. They pay for it, and they deserve to have me riding their horses.”
Moon, who has been in Aiken the past two and a-half years, is based at Cadence Farm and finds the facility to be an ideal location.
“This is one of the few facilities around here that’s designed for sport horses,” said Moon. “It had a number of medium sized paddocks, a dressage ring, jump fields, a center aisle barn and has the amenities that clients like. It’s a one of a kind facility in Aiken.”