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Yet now that her owners and rider learned the hard way to heed the Irish Sport Horse mare’s voice, they gladly treat her with all the trappings of royalty.

Two years ago Pippa was on the rise. With Kelly Prather in the saddle, coaching from owner Andrea Pfeiffer and support from owner James Pfeiffer, she won the World Cup CIC*** at Rebecca Farms in Montana 26 points ahead of second place. She also captured the Pan Am Selection Trials at Woodside, California. At the highly competitive Pebble Beach (Cal.) Dressage Show, fit enough for a three star event, this girl won the Third Level stakes class with a 76 percent. She was the only horse at the entire five day show to earn a 10, and it was for a medium trot.

Next the team zeroed in on 2007 Fair Hill International CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland, where their story took a bad turn.

Pippa traveled East from her Northern California barn two months early to train at Bruce Davidson’s farm where her galloping boots created infected sores on her front legs. Her team didn’t see the sores as serious and she did well in her dressage at Fair Hill. But about two thirds around the cross coun- try course, Kelly pulled her up. The mare wasn’t right. By the time Pippa got back to the barn, she was crip- pled.

Through the winter the legs healed, but not the team’s feelings of defeat. They were plagued by doubt whether they had a three star horse. Spring did not go well. Pippa fell in a water jump, and another time Kelly fell off. At last they came to realize how much pain the mare had been in and how it was affecting her attitude.

From that experience they learned to listen to the mare. “You can’t talk over her. She

Kelly and Pippa wait their turn during an inspection at a 3 day event.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Pfeiffer.

is tough and will do her job, but we had to learn to listen. After all, she’s a mare.”

“I had no intention of buying a mare. Importing is so expensive.”

The year was painful and Pippa’s team continually ques- tioned if they were doing right by the horse. “Many want- ed us to push her. But the mare and I don’t like losing. We dropped her down a level so she didn’t run at top level at every show. Horses lose heart if they’re stressed and challenged every time out. She will always rise to the occa- sion at the big events,” contends Andrea. They took her to Montana for a one star show which she handily won.

A fundraiser at the Pfeiffer’s Chocolate Horse Farm in Petaluma, California, allowed the team to return to the East

Coast in the Fall of 2008, this time to the Fair Hill CCI** where out of 85 horses, Pippa and Kelly closed their weekend with a perfect show jumping round and won the division.

This spring the 16.3 hand Pippa and Kelly captured sec- ond at the Galway Downs CIC***, 1.5 points behind Olympian Amy Tryon. Clearly the team has at the very least a three star horse.

Pippa, now ten, was not always a star and a princess. In fact, she was born an Irish country girl ultimately bought out of a farmer’s field by a novice horse shopper.

Since age eight, Kelly had rid- den with Andrea, a Northern California eventing and dres- sage trainer and competitor who holds certification from the British Horse Society. To broaden her experience, the then 16 year old Kelly moved to England, and later Ireland where she rode young horses for an eventing sales barn. Andrea asked her protégée to keep an eye out for an event prospect.

“I had no intention of buying a mare. Importing is so expen- sive,” Andrea recalls. In her pictures Pippa was as plain and as brown as she could be. But Kelly raved about the three year old and Andrea gave her the go ahead.

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