My horse, Northern Isaac, had his introduction to eventing with Vaughan Ellis in October 2012. Vaughan did a fabulous job teaching Isaac to jump, starting with a pole on the ground. They started competing at Inverleigh in February 2013, and their final performance was the “Friends of Werribee” Prelim in 2014, which they won.
Vaughan had decided he couldn’t keep riding Isaac and be able to fit in riding his own horse, so he was turned out with the future uncertain. Sam’s aunt, Sharon, mentioned that Sam was interested in getting another horse. Vaughan also knew Sam and he thought Sam and Isaac would get on really well, and he was right!
Sam came over to my place to look at, and ride Isaac. Isaac was a bit feral after having time off, and I was amazed how well Sam managed to stick on whilst still insisting that Isaac get on with the job. Sam was keen to take Isaac on and he moved to Sam’s place in October 2015.
Right from the start I was welcomed into the “Jeffree Eventing Team” by all the Jeffrees. Wendy and Sam keep me informed all the way, and are happy for me to watch at any time. They always make sure I am able to have somewhere to sit down. If a competition is close enough I can go to watch, as they assist me the whole time. If it’s too far for me, Sam and Wendy ring or text to tell me how they are progressing, with a final phone call from Sam to debrief, going through the highs and lows and discussing any changes to be made.
When decisions are being talked about with anything to do with Isaac, they always include me. My knowledge of eventing was very limited, and both Sam and Wendy patiently explain the grades, types of competition and types of jumps that Isaac will be doing.
Whilst competing at Melbourne International 2016 in the CCI1*, Sam and Isaac were winning after the dressage and a clear cross country round. However, although it wasn’t visible immediately on the day, Isaac had twisted and strained the outside, suspensory ligament and could not continue with the show-jumping, in case it resulted in permanent damage. This was a particularly difficult time as Sam and Isaac were winning coming into the show-jumping.
Isaac’s rehab program included initially being kept in a box for over a month – with a horse confined for 24 hours a day in a stable, the work is intensive. Rather than sending him home, Sam and Wendy did all the work involved right through the long and tedious 12 month program from light exercise back to a full work. Isaac’s good health is always their priority, with regular blood tests, scans and so on when needed.
Sam is coached by Will Enzinger, who in turn was taught by Heath Ryan, both well-known competitors and trainers at national and international level. Both are also extremely knowledgeable, as well as being friendly, polite and enthusiastic people who are happy to teach all levels. Now listening to Sam teach I can hear those same traits being passed on!
Sam and Isaac have been very successful competitors taking many wins and places together from EvA105 through to 2 star level. It has been a pleasure to watch their journey and I greatly admire Sam as a brilliant rider.
When my horse retires from Jeffree Eventing due to old age, I certainly won’t!