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About the Owner

I love to ride, I've been riding since I was 3, and have ridden hundreds of horses. I started in Pony Club, moved on to hunters and equitation, then jumpers, eventing, dressage, competitive trail riding, foxhunting, and now natural horsemanship - a full circle where each element adds to the other. I love learning and teaching, which you're constantly doing when you work with horses! My horses are "all around". We work in the ring, out in the open, new places, new challenges, different disciplines. When the trust, communication, knowledge, relaxation, leadership, and fitness are there, you can have a go at anything.             

The best thing about riding is all the life experiences created with friends, family, and animals.

I grew up riding in Connecticut, as a member of the Lonetown Pony Club, I learned how to jump up and down banks in an open field, learned tons of horse care facts studying for "Know-downs", now called "Quiz". We'd ride across town to get to the pony club fields for our weekly lessons, meet at "The Pit" to go swimming with our ponies, riding bareback with just halter and lead rope. We'd ride in the annual parade. I went to local shows, always aiming for those that had "Sit-a-bucks" - a way to make money!! I'd ride without stirrups, without a saddle, or without a girth to learn how to keep my legs tight. I had a monster pony who would run home at the slightest opportunity, who took hours to catch, who'd get loose and run to the neighbors' house. That pony taught me perseverance! At age 8, my sister and I were booking farrier appointments, finding people to come trailer us to shows, riding across town with buckets of stuff in hand to meet them, feeding the ponies morning and night, ordering hay and grain, it was a different era. Our parents supported financially, but were not involved beyond that. My sister and I just figured it all out ourselves with support from pony club and local riding instructors.

As a teen, I started showing in the "Big Eq." - Medal, Maclay, USET classes, and qualified for the Regional Finals and was ranked in the top 10 nationally in the Professional Horseman Association Equitation class. I got to experience some "A" horse shows, Ox Ridge, Farmington, the Hampton Classic, taking advantage of having family located in all those areas! I braided and braided and braided to make some money to offset expenses.

In college, I rode on the Tufts Equestrian Team - so much fun! We'd ride random horses that we could scrounge up for the shows - with no ability to get on them before entering to compete. You'd have to assess your ride instantly, and finesse, finesse, finesse. We went to nationals 3 out of 4 years. During that time, I had a chestnut Thoroughbred given to me because he was so hard to ride. But, we did the jumper shows all summer long, and I got my first taste of eventing. I figured, "we jump 3'6" at the shows, I guess I'll enter Training Level." (!)

In grad school, I found a great dressage barn (Leslie McDonald's Full Cry Farm) and competed at First Level throughout Ohio and Indiana on her school horse, and then got a young horse and started him in dressage and eventing. When I moved to Minnesota, I rode in the Adult Riders program (Ralph Hill was the coach), and ended up Adult Amateur First Level Regional Dressage champion, and Adult Amateur/Owner of the year at the Preliminary Level of Eventing.  That horse unfortunately got injured as he could have likely gone far in any discipline. He did hunters, jumpers, eventing and dressage equally well, and was schooling 3rd level dressage and 4' jumpers. He was definitely my best horse.

I moved to Virginia in 1999 and have been working with off-the-track Thoroughbreds for the past 15 years, they are "hot", generally hard to ride, and have a lot of baggage that needs undoing, but they are extremely athletic and fun if you can get them in the right mind-set. This is when I discovered Natural Horsemanship techniques, which have really been wonderful for instilling confidence, trust, calmness and relaxation in a horse. It can be an amazing transformation from a head-high, hot, nervous, tense, quick-to-react horse, to one that can lope around on a loose rein, with a relaxed head, neck and back, calmly look at what's going on around, and be completely confident, and ready to work on what you want to work on! You can then collect, jump, trail ride, have them stand still(!), and not fidget, shy, chomp on the bit, toss their head, drag you around, etc.  I continue to take clinics from natural horsemanship instructors, and apply and practice these techniques in all aspects of working with horses.

The other great thing I discovered in Virginia is fox hunting! This is a wonderful sport as it brings people and horses together to share their love of riding and the countryside. Land conservation is such an important component, to keep the land open for wildlife to thrive, which is such a big challenge in our country and in the world. Virginia is blessed to have thousands of acres of land in conservation, to stem all the development that is ever-encroaching. I joined the Farmington Hunt, and have met tons of people who come together in all sorts of ways, not just for hunting, but to put on other horse activities, such as horse shows, trail rides, hunter paces, hunter trials, hunt teams, combined tests, and clinics, as well as social events, such as picnics, black tie parties, yard sales, sporting art auctions, golf tournaments, trail clearing, etc. -- whatever the membership brings to the table to meet the goals of the club. The riding component of fox hunting brings on its own challenges, as horses and riders need to know how to ride in large groups, in silence, in order to let the hounds and huntsman work. Sometimes it can be very still and quiet. Other times, the chase is on, and one can encounter all sorts of obstacles, such as crossing a deep ditch, or having to get 28 horses off the trail immediately in order to let the huntsman pass, having some groups standing still while others are galloping by - this requires a confident horse and rider! So you can imagine taking an off-the-track thoroughbred and trying to get him to the point of confidently riding in a group, staying in his spot, behind one horse and in front of another, and not getting rattled in all these situations. The hardest challenge for such a horse is to be able to stand still for 5-10 minutes at a time which is sometimes required. It takes a lot of time, but it is rewarding to have a horse transform from a nervous ex-racehorse to one that truly enjoys a day in the country.

From a rider's perspective, the other new component of fox hunting is watching and listening to the hounds and the fox - the fox is so smart, he never gets caught, we will see him cross a field, stop to turn and listen, and continue on his way, with hounds crossing the field a few minutes later, noses to the ground, trying to figure out where he went. The fox has all sorts of tricks to throw off the pack, such as crossing a stream, crossing his path, and entering a den.  I'll never forget one hunt where the fox joined us riders, he sat on top of a large stick pile, watching as we were, as all the hounds were in the woods searching for his scent. He stayed with us for almost 10 minutes, trotted off to the other side of the field, the hounds eventually made it out to the field, discovered he had been there, and followed the line that we had seen the fox take.

The latest and most recent element I've added to my "horse career" is breeding and raising a young horse. "C'mon Carmen", a Holsteiner/TB cross was born in the spring of 2012, and, as a baby, playing with her, teaching her things like having her hooves picked out, backing up, haltering, leading, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, being introduced to clippers, blankets, and trailering, loud sounds, quick movements, things on her back, around her middle, around her legs, anything that she might encounter and need to handle in her journey through life. Each year she's been learning new things, and we are now successfully competing at 2'6", she's been champion at almost every show we've competed in this year at that level. We are hoping to move up to the 3' Adult Hunters very soon.

I would be remiss to not mention my other current horse, Brooklyn. She is a great foxhunter and a beautiful horse. She was purchased as a 4 y.o. in 2015 and with the help of my trainer, Baily Dent, we've brought her through the ranks from local 2'6" shows to competing successfully in the 3'6" Amateur-Owner Hunter division on the A circuit. On Brooklyn, I won the 2015 Tad Coffin Performance challenge class, the 2016 SWVHJA Adult Medal Finals and the 2017 VHSA Adult Medal Finals. We have recently switched to jumpers to give that a go. 

So, now that I've been riding for forty years, and have learned a new aspect of the sport every five years or so, I develop horses who can accommodate my desire to still be able to compete in hunters, jumpers, equitation, and eventing, but also be able to trail ride, fox hunt, do natural horsemanship, or go on a hunter pace on any given day. It keeps me busy, is so much fun, and is a continual learning process. The horses are happy, they gain more confidence with each new outing, and seem to really enjoy the variety of ways they can move four legs to meet various objectives.

My latest leap-of-faith was to leave my permanent position as a tenured professor at the University of Virginia, and move to a part-time faculty position so that I can devote more time to riding and training horses, which has been my passion since age 3 and one that I cannot shake and never want to shake. An even greater leap-of-faith was to purchase Sugarday Farm. I could not do any of this without the continued love, support, and help provided by my husband, Bob Haschart, who is always there for me and to help in every way possible. He is the kindest, smartest, most loving person I know.

You're welcome to peruse videos of me riding/training various horses on my YouTube channel (although a few of the videos there are of friends and their horses).

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2901 Barracks Rd.
Charlottesville, VA 22901