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Team #635 Stayner Haller and Briarlane Regal Fortune

Team #635: Stayner Haller and Briarlane Regal Fortune
From: Lansing, Michigan
Ages: 85 & 15
Combined Age: 100
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: May 6, 2023

After having become Team #77 of the Century Club in 2010 with LGM Challenger (Chally), I didn’t imagine that another opportunity for a Century Club ride might come my way, but it did!

In the summer of 2020, I drove to Mt. Pleasant, MI, to look at a black Morgan, Briarlane Regal Fortune. I visited Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania twice, and Maryland in search of a new partner. Regal, as he was then known, was a 13-year-old black Morgan who stood about 1 mm. shy of 14.3 hands. He was owned by Jeanine Mahaffey who took very good care of him. During his six years with Jeanine, he was primarily a trail horse & companion. His formal training consisted of two lessons and a lot of homeschooling. He was very polite and had excellent ground manners. A trial ride showed him to be a bit resistant to picking up his left lead, but he was otherwise quite agreeable.  

I went home and thought about him. There was something intangible that made me want to see him again! When I returned for a second trial ride, Jeanine “interviewed” me and asked what I planned to do with him if I bought him. She was clearly very concerned about his happiness. I told her that we would do a lot of trail riding and that I felt strongly about the importance of learning dressage. I also indicated that we might do some jumping if he liked it.

I invited her to visit Stapleton Farm to see what his new home would provide, which she did. I gave her a tour of everything including some beautiful and well-groomed trails. She was very impressed, and we agreed to a two-week trial period.

It wasn’t long before I had him out on the trails. When I asked for a trot, he immediately sped off with his Morgan road trot! His feet spent more time in the air than on the ground! So far so good. Then I asked for a canter or hand gallop. He erupted and accelerated so rapidly that I had to force myself forward to counter the G forces that wanted me to somersault off backward!

Ruth asked me how the ride went. I replied that he had all the speed and more that I wanted to ride! That is how he earned his new barn name, Comet!

Now it was time to learn dressage. Teaching a 13-year-old spicy Morgan to bend was a daunting task. With Ruth’s expert guidance and patience and my persistence, we managed to accomplish our goal.

When my Century Club ride arrived, a great number of the Stapleton Farm barn family was there to lend moral support to cheer us on. Soon we were on our way up the centerline. The first 3/4 of the test went well, then Comet decided that things were too tame. He threw in a bit of his own choreography! He burst into a well-elevated extended trot and punctuated it by erupting into a strong gallop! After getting him back under control and a pause for a discussion with Judge Maryal Barnett, we completed the test. As we exited the ring, everyone was grinning from ear to ear and giving us a big thumbs-up! What a warm fuzzy feeling that was!

Many thanks to Ruth Hill-Schorsch for the great arrangements, to Maryal Barnett for being such a gracious judge, to Anna Greiner for a beautiful braid job, to Gayle Yarick for some marvelous photography, to Judy Neiberg for being another marvelous photographer as well as the after-ride celebration party hostess including champagne, red roses, and cake. Thank you to all of the Stapleton Farm family who came to the event!! And a big thanks to The Dressage Foundation for sponsoring the Century Club!

It was a very memorable day for me!