All posts by Bryce Kinnamon

Katie Mays has spent her last two years with Molly Kinnamon and the MK-Equestrian team. Katie works with the team out of their farm in Kirkwood, PA and completed two winter training sessions in Aiken, SC. Check out why Katie chose MK-Equestrain, what she is learning from the experience, and don’t miss her thoughts for those individuals interested in the working student lifestyle. 
 
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Photo credit – Lisa Thomas
 
1. Tell us about your equine background and how you chose to join Molly’s team.
My family had horses my entire childhood, but it wasn’t until I was 8 years old that I took interest in them. After several years of being consumed by riding and taking care of horses, I turned that passion into a career, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Science at Morrisville State College in NY. Through my degree, I completed a 15 week internship at an Eventing farm, since I had always had a fascination with the thrills and challenges of trying to master the 3 Eventing disciplines.
 
With the help of my internship supervisor, I learned that Molly had a working student position available. I visited Molly when she had 3 horses competing in the CIC divisions at the September Plantation Fields Horse Trials (AKA the Best Event Ever). It was a long weekend, but I enjoyed working with her head groom, and admired the “teamwork makes the dream work” mentality that everyone had. I decided to join this team because it was made up of fun, hard-working, dedicated people. And I could learn the aspects of caring for, managing, and training upper level event horses. Plus we are surrounded by some of the best events and riders on the East Coast!
 
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2. What have you learned over the past two years at MK-Equestrian?
I had little experience working with event horses prior to this, so I learned all about icing, studs, braiding, the various equipment needed for each phase, the vet box, etc.
 
The biggest things I learned have not been about horses, but about myself. We all have various personal skills that are strengths we have acquired over time. I’ve always been an organized person. Growing up and through school, I planned for things days in advance; I set aside time for various projects, and I stuck to a schedule. This has been excruciatingly vital to my time at MK Equestrian. Having a schedule/plan, goal lists for each day, and planning ahead makes the day productive and efficient. This skill allows me to accomplish a lot of things on a daily basis, and keeps the ship flowing steady on horse show days. I also have a good memory, and can memorize quite a few things, which was also a skill I developed in all of my years studying at school. This has made it easier for me to recall what the horses eat, what gear they wear, etc.
 
I feel that anyone can learn about taking care of horses, training them, and even riding them. But learning about your personal skills and how to use them to their full potential is the best lesson you can get from wherever you may be working because they can be applied to anything you do, so own them!
 
3. Tell us about your rides and your goals for the year?
Since I started working at MK-Equestrian, I have had the opportunity to ride quite a few awesome horses. During my first year, I acquired the ride on one of Molly’s sale horses, Kynynmont’s Cassidy. This lady was quite the sassy princess, I can remember one of my first rides on her resulted in me getting a bloody nose! She was the sweetest horse in the barn, and she had the athleticism of a 4 star horse. I spent  lot of time riding hunters growing up and through college, and she quickly taught me how to ride like an Eventer. Within a few months, she took me from Beginner Novice all the way to Training Level. I think we were so successful because we had spent a lot of time developing a partnership and I just felt so confident with her. We had multiple successful events at Training level before she returned to her breeder. Out of all of the horses that have come and will come into my life, she will always be one of the special ones.
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Knowing that Cassidy was a sale horse and would not be around forever, I began leasing The Queen Bee, a fabulous Mustang owned by Camilla Grover-Dodge. She too is a sassy princess, but she has been a phenomenal teacher. Cassidy gave me a break on some of my rookie habits, but Tuesday will not hesitate to tell me if I’m not riding the right way. She has been essential to improving my overall technique, and I am grateful for what she is teaching me. We just tackled Training level at NJ finishing in 9th. My goal for the rest of this year is to continue building my partnership with Tuesday and have some successful Training level events under our belt (or girth!) before the end of the season. The long-term goal is perhaps moving up to Preliminary! 
 
4. What advice do you have for working students searching for an opportunity?
I have several things to advise potential working students about. I think this is what separates this blog from others because it isn’t what you typically see.
 
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The most important advice I can give is to put YOUR well-being before anything else. When I say this, I am talking about your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Working students work harder than anyone in the horse industry. We are working LONG days with little breaks, in all sorts of weather conditions, and with half-ton animals with minds of their own. Sometimes in our desire to please, we will push ourselves beyond our limitations. I think it is healthy to push yourself past your comfort zone at times, but know your limits. In order to be a successful operation, your farm needs everyone to be at their best. If you’re not, you can’t be efficient and productive, and like dominoes, the stress will increase, the positivity and work ethic will decrease, and you will find less reasons to enjoy your life. I say life because being a working student isn’t just a job, it’s a LIFE. Being honest about anything is one of the main requirements any employer, owner, or fellow employee will look for in you. 
 
Do not be afraid to speak your mind about various situations. We all see the world differently from one another, so you might see a more efficient way of doing things than your employer. I encourage you to suggest ideas that can improve the business, but if your employer is firm in their ways, then do not ignore those ways and do your own thing, that is how you will break their trust and lose opportunities or your job. At the end of the day, it is their business, and as their working student, you are expected to do it their way.
If you choose to move forward to something else, you can decide to take or leave their methods.
 
Lastly, give your employers reasons to trust you, value you, and respect you. Have a work ethic that inspires productivity, be honest about yourself or the situation, be appreciative of every lesson, clinic, horse show, or ride that you can partake in, love and care for the horses as if they were your own, and work together with your team. Inspire others, help others, share in the victories and defeats, ask questions, and enjoy the journey!
 
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Last October during the Fair Hill International CCI, Lisa Thomas, the creator of the MK Equestrian website, took a photo of Molly and I after her dressage test on The Diesel Boy. 
 
The caption I wrote for it: “I am grateful and lucky to have joined something that has given so much back to me, something that has wrapped me in its emotions and energy that charges my soul.”
 
This statement still sticks with me to this day. I think this is the feeling that every working student should have about their job. This feeling is what separates being a working student as a job verses as a LIFE!

 

It is absolutely spring here in PA – all the colorful trees and flowers are blooming and it’s impossible to look outside and not smile.  This is when as a full time event rider and trainer I can say and really mean it “Im living the dream!”

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There are definitely plenty of struggles in this industry but luckily, for me at least, the reward of seeing and feeling horses develop and riders become accomplished far out weighs the stresses of running an equestrian program.  I’d like to share with all of you a bit about what my program, MKE, has been up to these last few months and some of our goals for the future.

It’s no secret that in order for us to keep up with the daily care of the horses being boarded, trained, competed and prepped we need to have very thoughtful, caring and devoted help.  This winter we were fortunate enough to come across Amy Hall to help oversee the Principia Stables while the competition set were off to Aiken, SC.  Amy kept a full time job and made sure that the horses were safe, had the right food and healthy at night check.  Betsy Weaver with the help of Beth and Amy Hall watched over the ponies during the day and got quite a bit of winter clean up done on the farm with help of the ever so fabulous ROB!  The start of 2016 also brought us Chelsea Veccharelli, a college graduate business woman who was looking for a few months of proper horse boot camp!  Chelsea came with Katie Mays and myself to Aiken and for coming out of the corporate world into our fast paced, barely eat, hardly sleep, work work work work mentality… she did an amazing job.  Chelsea is still helping us out at the farm in Kirkwood but will soon be back to the life of the office lady and we’ll be on the prowl for another deserving working student… keep your ears and eyes open for us!

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My business is in many ways made possible by an amazing group of students.  This is one of the pieces that not only provides me a way to make a living but it brings me true happiness.  I want to make a shout out to a few students that have had some exciting adventures already in the 4 months of 2016.  To start off, Katie Mays, has had a few remarkable and very successful showings with the sales horse, Kynynonts Cassidy at training level in Aiken; she ALSO has begun to start a very promising relationship with the Queen Bee who she is leasing from owner Camilla Grover-Dodge. I love this new partnership as they both have much to gain from one another and its tremendous to partake in this process.  Chelsea Veccharelli came to Aiken with us on a very green mount named PZ.  I would say in honesty that the both were pretty green and both have talent and plenty of girl sass 🙂  Chelsea has been 100% committed to getting this training and eventing thing figured out and after our xc schooling at Fair Hill yesterday it’s confirmed that all of her hard work the last few months has paid off in a huge way.  I hope Chelsea continues with her path and enjoys the fruits of her labour! Dr. Steve Berkowitz had sold his mount, Zoomalong, at the end of 2015 and begun leasing the one and only fabulous REMINGTON.  Not too long after MKE had a perfect tall, bay, plain, gelding in to sell… it was a match made in heaven and fit all of Dr. Steve’s life long horse wishes.  SO the full time vet, photographer, baker and grass cutter now has TWO horses to ride.  We even got him out of Chester County to come and visit Aiken.  The man is showing great dedication and his horses love him… I’m so proud! Vanessa Stolzfus is one that definitely has earned an award of sorts for sticking out a tough learning curve when she started the ride on Teddy Sarco.  Vanessa had to go from riding like a little girl to becoming committed; mentally and physically.  Teddy is an amazing horse and from putting in lots of patience, time and effort Vanessa now is enjoying the thrill of riding this very valid young event horse.  One of our newest additions to our team, Elle, has sent her new OTTB, Wimpy, over to get a jump start on his new career.  We are all really excited to have Wimpy and Elle on the team! Now back home in PA I am thrilled to get back together with many other of my students; the ones that ride with me regularly or come for visits…

Principia Stables is the facility that I’ve dreamed of training out of since I was a little girl.  This facility was a dressage and sales barn before the Hulmes purchased it so we have been slowly but surely changing it over into an eventing training site.  MUCH of the thanks is really owed to Steve Parisan for being our right hand man and taking good care of us.  Principia now has an “in house” trail loop around the new back pastures and we are up to having 4 creek crossings which is just a great way to train event horses! Our outdoor jump ring got a big improvement last year from Ringmasters and our big grass jump field now has a 3 sided corner and a fabulous narrow wedge jump all built by Eric Bull – thanks to Bryce Kinnamon, Besty and Robyn Weaver and Steve Berkowitz. Our facility is now neighbored by a huge parcel of land owned by Ron and Densey Juvonen that is going to become absolutely prime for hill trots and canters as we develop the paths.  Our stables may not be brand new but we have character in the farm and surrounding community that keeps everything fresh and full of vibrance.

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Photo of Rio, GRC Photo

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The horse string. We have sales horses, competition horses and those horses that are truly family.  Very important horses to our group are Havarah’s Charly and Riven.  Charly, has recently won the heart of Maria Lewis – this brings tears of happiness to my eyes as they are both incredibly special.  Riven has continued his perfect partnership with Betsy Weaver, in much thanks to his breeder and owner, Pamela Benfield.  Both horses were born in ’98 and if they were humans all the ladies would be fighting over them for their hand in marriage.  So not sure who’s luckier – Charly, Riven, Betsy or Maria… I’m going to say me since I get to hang out with all of them! The sales horses Kynynmonts Cassidy, Kynynmont’s Rio, Pepper and Bristol Indian are all in top notch form- its very exciting having the range of equine athletes that we do and I love helping match them up with their people.  My competition rides these days are super exciting.  Puttin on the Ritz has been mainly spending the year developing and conditioning as we decide whats best for his next step- as always having the Klavans as owners has been amazing, they are always there to put the horses happiness first and foremost. Masterel had taken much of 2015 off from an injury and is now back and showing more athletic promise than ever; his co-owner Denis Glaccum and myself know that we have an amazing horse on our hands, and we’re doing our best to guide his fancy french prince self in the right direction! MK’S Concord Dawn has really stepped up as a top horse of mine; having finished 2015 as the TB horse of the year in the Plantation series we stepped in 2016 excited to see how the next step would be. “Mason” just finished his first Preliminary event in very fine form – I can’t thank my husband enough for helping me acquire this horse and being so supportive of the process.  Last but certainly not least, DZL Syndicate’s, THE DIESEL BOY, has developed into a total champion.  Our last event out was Fair Hill at the Intermediate level of which he only added a few time penalties onto his dressage score to secure the win.  The horse is very exciting in so many ways. I am thrilled about how he has improved in every way and how well our partnership is going.  I’m excited to join together a group of people to partake in this with me as the path to competing at the highest of levels and one day representing the US is quite the journey; this is a horse I’d like to challenge the road with!

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MK Equestrian, my business, is about to launch something very very exciting.  A brand new website!  This has been a project that we have been piecing together over the winter and with much thanks to Lisa Thomas of Mid-Atlantic Equestrian Services and also the help of Chelsea Veccharelli I will now be able to host an up-dated, functioning on all platforms and informative website!  I hope that through this web site our friends near and far as well as new and old will be able to understand what MKE is all about and partake in our endeavors on and off the farm.  It is so important to me to take each horse and each rider as individuals and work with them as such – it will be exciting to share with you a bit more about each of our individuals here at MKE.

Stay tuned for the soon to be released new and improved website!

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In 2016… what are YOU going to do?

MKE is going to Aiken for 2 months and we have an opening – this could be YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

This position could fit many individuals-
A bright eyed youngster eager to learn the ways of the eventing world – AIKEN has so many schooling facilities and opportunities – it is THE place to teach horses and riders about eventing.

Seasoned eventer looking to fine tune certain skills and perhaps get ready for a move up?  No better place to sort out some eventing practice than actually getting to “practice” eventing.  Aiken is all about DOING.  We do a LOT while in Aiken.

Perhaps you have your dream partner who is just coming back from an injury or needs some time to be a horse.  MKE takes our Aiken “base” conditioning work very seriously- no running and jumping without building the stamina and strength in body and mind – Hacks, canters, and turn out!

The individuals that MKE wants to grow and prosper with in 2016 MUST have the desire to learn, be extremely trustworthy, and most importantly be ambitious about taking pride in all aspects of horse care.

Details-
MKE bases out of Principia Stables in Kirkwood PA for 8 months out of the year.  We will be in PA until late January.  MKE will work out of Hopeland Farms in Aiken, SC for 2 months- this is a relaxing and safe environment for our horses with all the amenities we need PLUS its super close to town and the local Aiken schoolings/competitions. Housing is available and there is space for your horse to join in the MKE training program.

MKE is looking forward to spending time working on our goals for the up-coming year with each of the horses.  Our training program is currently filled with horses ranging from FEI level competitors to younger talents looking to move on up the levels as well as some looking to find their perfect partners to continue life with.

For specific details on this position please email Molly at molly@mkequestrian.com

 

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Katie competing Cassidy at Loch Moy 2015 Training Level

Katie Mays came to MK Equestrian in 2014 from up state NY.   Following high school, she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Science at Morrisville State College in NY and upon graduating, decided to put her lifelong passion to work.

Katie was looking to work for someone in the Eventing world who was actively competing at the upper levels and could help her devote time to reaching her own training goals.  After some interviewing, she accepted the position at MK Equestrian, and has been an integral part of our stable management ever since!
“Migrating from Buffalo, NY, I am not as much of a softie as Molly when it comes to cold weather. You will find me in the barn at all hours doing all sorts of things: grooming horses, scrubbing water buckets, sweeping aisles, the list goes on!  I am also MK Equestrian’s professional arena dragger, resident Pepsi addict, and groom for Molly at her competitions. My memory is scarily accurate; you can ask me to recite what every horse in the barn eats, even what temperature was taken on 10 horses!”
After a successful season at Training Level with one of Molly’s sale horses, Kynynmont’s Cassidy, Katie has leased the Juvonen’s fabulous Mustang pony,  The Queen Bee, known as Tuesday in the barn. Her goal is to move up to Preliminary with Tuesday in 2016.

 

The Story

This is a story about an unusual alignment of relationships within a Pennsylvania horse community and one particular retired race horse who has flourished as a result of these connections.  Perhaps this wasn’t the path that his breeder envisioned, but it is the beginning of his promising future.

The Beginning

MK’s Concord Dawn, registered with the jockey club as Mason, was born in 2009 at Tim F. Ritchey Racing Stables. Tim, who previously evented at the top level of the sport in the 70’s, is a 5 time leading race trainer at Delaware Park. He and his wife Janet have a well known training and bloodstock business, making headlines in 2005 for training Grade I Belmont and Preakness winner, Afleet Alex!

Janet shared a bit of history on Mason’s racing career, “Mason was bred to be a racehorse. His mother, whom we also bred, Della Street, had earned over $100,000 for us, and his daddy Smart Guy was bought by us for $10,000 as a yearling and went on to earn over $500,000 including the Pennsylvania Derby. Mason was always very friendly, good with other horses, easy to break and to train, so when he won his first race quite easily we really were not surprised.”

“What did surprise us was his subsequent racing career through 2012 and part of 2013, which can only be described as lackluster. He trained well but went through the motions in his races but never returned tired. We decided he was not the racehorse we had hoped he would be but he was handsome and his attitude pointed to being a useful show horse in the right hands and luckily that’s what he found. Although financially it’s not what we had planned we couldn’t be happier to see our ‘Mason’ flourish.”

The Connections

Two years ago one of Molly’s long time working students, Hannah Metz, was rising up through the levels of eventing at the age of 18.  She and her horse Zhen were competing at the 1* level when Zhen was injured.  Dr. Kathy Anderson, who was the primary veterinarian for MK Equestrian, was involved in the treatment of Zhen.   She was also a vet for the Ritchey’s race stable and knew of Mason’s potential retirement from the track.  Since Tim had a background in eventing, he favored his horses being repurposed into quality eventing programs.  Knowing that Molly’s young rider was in need of a potential project horse, Dr. Anderson made the initial introduction. 

Dr. Anderson thought MK Equestrian could be the perfect retraining facility for Mason. Molly had previously re-trained many OTTB’s in California and spent considerable time breaking and exercising race horses once she came east.  Molly felt her time working with these young horses gave her a better understanding of how to bridge the gap from track to the XC course.  Having gained so much from the experience she encouraged many students, including Hannah, to gallop race horses.  

Break Away Farm, located near Molly’s facility in Kirkwood, Pa., was Molly’s starting point with race horse training on the east coast and where many of her students have gotten experience as well. Luck would have it that Mason was initially backed at Breakaway Farm by the owner/trainer (and Bryce’s brother) Travis Kinnamon.  The Kinnamon brothers clearly gravitated towards horse women, as Travis is married to Wendy (Houghton) Kinnamon who’s family has a long history of training race horses for steeplechase & flat racing in the area!

 
Hannah & Mason
Photo Steven J. Berkowitz

The Decision

 Hannah Metz did a wonderful job working with Mason during his first year off the track, introducing him to the sport of eventing at some starter trials while working and training with Molly.  Ultimately she made the decision to sell Mason as she recognized his great talent and knew she didn’t have the resources to take him to the top of his potential.  The opportunity presented itself for Molly and Bryce to buy this rising star and to keep him within the program at MK Equestrian.  Hannah was thrilled with this next step for her horse. Months later it became a clear choice to use this break from riding to pursue a degree in nursing.
 
Mason & Molly – Loudon Training Level

The Thoroughbred Series

The timing was perfect for Molly and Mason as Plantation Field Equestrian Events announced their $5000 Thoroughbred Competition Series for the 2015 eventing season.  Sponsored by Kathleen Crompton, over 90 horses competed for this competition awarded to the owner of the Thoroughbred earning the most points during the season.  Points were accumulated in the recognized and starter horse trials in the Beginner Novice, Novice and Training divisions.  In addition, this program also rewards the original breeder of the horse by awarding them with a $500 breeder incentive.   For Molly this has been an exciting addition to the program as she’s been able to stay actively involved with the Ritchey’s as Mason has progressed through the levels of eventing!

Mason began his 2015 eventing career with a win at Sporting Days Horse Trials and then several other top finishes before coming back from Aiken last winter.  He finished 2nd at his first recognized competition at Plantation in the Novice division and was awarded points for being the top OTTB for that division.  He continued to accumulate points by winning his Novice divisions in May and June before moving up to Training level over the summer and then eventually winning his training level division at the October starter trials as well!  

Mason & Molly receiving the PFI Award!
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Molly and Bryce Kinnamon’s MK’s Concord Dawn, became the first winner of the Plantation Thoroughbred series. Presenting the $5,000 check to Molly and Bryce is Kathleen Crompton with (pictured left to right) Janet Ritchey (breeder),  Kathleen Crompton, Molly & Bryce Kinnamon and Hannah Metz.  

The Future

The continuation of the series has already been announced for the 2016 season, with hopes that this will encourage area equestrians to continue to seek partnerships with talented young thoroughbreds.  Denis and Kathleen are hopeful that the program will grow in popularity to the point that they can have entire divisions dedicated to off the track thoroughbreds.  The Unionville community has long been a region dedicated to breeding, racing, fox hunting and producing top thoroughbred sport horses for multiple disciplines.  This new incentive will certainly help support that purpose within the eventing community, and Molly is honored to be the first recipient.

“Kathleen Crompton had a vision a year ago and from her idea and generosity along with the help of Denis Glaccum and his generosity… The TB Challenge at Plantation Field was developed. I am so honored and thankful to be riding MK’s Concord Dawn. He is all class and this award means so much to myself, my husband and my team at MKE. There are so many great TB’s out there- I hope this program will encourage people to find these shining stars and develop them into their second careers. Thank you Tim and Janet Ritchey for helping source Mason into eventing as his second career.”

Molly would also like to thank her supporters and sponsors who have been involved throughout Mason’s retraining and development:  Phillip Dutton, Dr. Kathy Anderson, Steve Teichman, Cwd, Nunn finer, Ecogold, Charles Owen, Omega Alpha & Triple Crown