Jumping without tack, pair takes 1st place

Chesna and Solar demonstrate win the Freestyle at Emerald Downs trainer challenge

Chesna and Solar demonstrate win the Freestyle at Emerald Downs trainer challenge. Both photos by Monica Bretherton, and courtesy Emerald  Downs

USDF silver medalist Chesna Klimek and off-track Thoroughbred Solar walked away with the win at the Emerald Downs trainer challenge last month after she rode the beautiful black horse over a jump— bareback, and without a bridle.

The pair took first place in the 100-day Trainer Challenge, after outperforming other competitors in two divisions— the in-hand demonstration, and a three-and-a-half minute freestyle completion, which featured the daring jump.

Says Klimek, “Three minutes isn’t a lot of time to showcase what they’ve learned. But I knew he seemed pretty calm at the show, so I decided to do the bridle-less jumping.

“I was so glad I got to showcase this because poor Thoroughbreds get the reputation of being hard to control, even dangerous, and I was so glad Solar could show how safe and willing they really can be.”

Sire: Include
Dam: Desert Liaison
Foal date: March 30, 2006
Klimek started riding Solar bareback and without a bridle, about mid-way through their 100-day training. It was nothing she planned. She just did it unexpectedly one day in the schooling ring, and according to Klimek, it just felt right.

“While I was still in the saddle, I reached forward, after bending his head around, and unhooked the bridle and pulled it off. I had a neck rope on his neck” as a safeguard “and we just went about our ride as we normally would.”

She took him through his paces, and when it came time for the first whoa, his initial confusion cleared up when she sat deeper and gave a little pull on the neck rope. After that, working free of tack was another skill to which Solar quickly adapted.

“When you take the bridle away, you get to know their personality better. You see how he responds without those tools. And he continued to be very willing,” she says.

Solar and Klimek demonstrate their ease with one another during the in-hand phase

Solar and Klimek demonstrate their ease with one another during the in-hand phase

The duo took home a $1,000 first prize check for their win, and Jack Hodge, who owns Oak Crest Farm, where Solar was bred, presented it.

Finishing a close second were fan favorites Dakota Demon and rider/trainer Mark Bolender, who won a $500 prize. As fan favorites, they were also awarded a special halter at the prize ceremony.

A retired veterinarian in Ohio, who followed Solar’s progress in blog posts, snapped him up. “His new owner flew out to Washington to meet him, and last week she took him home,” says Klimek, noting that his new owner plans to ride him in dressage and on trails.

The 26-year-old Rainier, Wash., native was thrilled to win the trainer challenge, but she was even more pleased to have a hand in finding the 7-year-old gelding a new home.


3 responses to “Jumping without tack, pair takes 1st place”

  1. Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips : EVENTING NATION

    […] How do you think you would fair in a no-tack jumping competition? […]

  2. PK Training

    The performance of Chesna and Solar at the show was breathtaking. There are videos on youtube of the pair that are definitely worth watching. When Solar finished the freestyle and stood up on the platform he had a look on his face that said, “Hey everyone, we did it! We stole the show!!”

    I was so happy when they won; it even brought a tear to my eye to see such a special horse doing amazing things. Chesna did her in-hand class without a halter and won that one, too.

    I can hardly wait to see what the thoroughbred showcase has in store for next year. 😉

  3. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    Wow. What a great job. Such a beautiful, sweet and intelligent horse…

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