Monday, December 29, 2014

Dragonfire Kublakhan: My Time With A Legend

We have suffered a great loss in the equestrian world with the passing of Dragonfire Kublakhan.

Dragonfire Kublakhan April 26, 1983 - December 19, 2014
Named after the powerful Mongolian leader, the life of Kublakhan began during the fledgling years of Dragonfire Farm, our then small, family owned, Morgan horse breeding operation in Loomis, California. His sire was the Park Harness Champion turned Western Pleasure winner, UC Viscount, a beautiful and petite horse with a kind eye. His can-do attitude and willingness to try new things was a consistent trait in his foals. Kublakhan's dam was Dragonfire Chi Lin, a mare full of stamina and lust for life. Her career was mainly focused on Dressage, but she also spent many hours on the trail with her young rider, Jennifer Forrest. I was nine at the time of his birth, and I was already an avid horse lover and adventurist.

Khan and I as kids at the Loomis farm
As a young horse, Khan showed much promise for the sport field, and was sold to Dressage rider/judge, Lynn Brown, as a two year old Dressage prospect. When Lynn started a family and found that time was short for her then four year old stallion, Kublakhan, our farm purchased him back and had him started under saddle by Winnie Northcutt. Our adventures together started in earnest when he was five and I was thirteen.

My mother decided to geld Khan and give him to me to ride, as the mare I rode at the time, Dragonfire Phoenix, just didn't seem to be the right match for me.  Although she was gifted and we won at most everything we tried, I was easily frustrated with her and simply was not mature enough to handle her feminine perspective. I'm not exactly sure why my mother would take a leap of faith and hand Kublakhan over to me. Considering the fact that Khan was actually a lovely stallion prospect for her Morgan breeding program, and I was a snotty pre-teen who probably barely deserved a Shetland to ride. Although the "why" remains a mystery to me, I am forever grateful for that decision of hers!

One of the pictures used of Khan on the cover of The Morgan Horse Magazine
Khan became the center of my life; he was a challenge, he was a winner, he was a kind soul. He and I were a pair determined to try everything, whether it was going to Fairs and competing for High Point, costume classes dressed as a double headed dragon with my friend Sheryl and her horse Spider, Pony Club Nationals in Dressage, upper level Eventing, racing boys in cars along the road at Folsom Lake, or chasing down bobcats while boonie-crashing. He was the friend that kept me from being interested in trouble, listened to my problems without judgement, and helped me run out my teenage frustrations on legs that were far more capable than my own.

We won our first major Morgan horse titles in 1989, starting with the AMHA Dressage Gold Medal Finals. Kublakhan would go on to win this title two more times in his career, in 1992 with Stacy Maier, and in 1997 with Melissa (Hart) Votaw. I also won the AMHA Hunter Seat Over Fences Gold Medal Final, as well as countless National and World titles in Dressage and Jumpers with Kublakhan.

Melissa and her sister Sam had a successful year in 1997
Stacy Maier and Khan after winning the 1992 Gold Medal 
Lynn Roberts, though reluctant to teach children, had been my Dressage trainer when I rode Phoenix. She was instrumental in my career once I had graduated to Khan and we enjoyed many great wins together. She travelled all the way to Oklahoma City with me to coach at the The Morgan Grand Nationals, and guided me to World Titles. She would also be there for me at my eventing competitions, forever a stern voice and avid supporter. She was willing to work with Khan's bounding exuberance for any job put to him, and would never turn up her nose at his unconventional movement and size. She was such a supportive coach, I believe she publicly scolded anyone rude enough to poke fun at my Morgan Horse during a time when his breed was considered "strange" in open circles.

Khan and I were lucky to have Lynn in our corner! She stands here presenting the bouquet of roses.
Khan broke down many barriers on the open circuit, particularly in Eventing. He was everything that a fashionable event horse was not. He was a breed known for pulling carts, he was small, he had high knee action, he was hot, and he had a look in him.  When my interests focused mainly on Eventing, I was told by many that I would need another horse. But, my mother told me that this was the horse I had and I didn't need anymore than that... I would have to figure it out. Happily for me, my luck with good coaching wasn't limited to Dressage. 

I had met Valerie (Williams) Owens when I was a seven year old Pony Clubber on my even smaller Morgan mare, Rosie. Val's beautiful personality made her the pied piper of little horse girls, and I was just crazy about her. She would be a positive influence in my life through three horses, including Khan. Her encouragement to keep working through the refusals on my spooky boy, Khan, was instrumental to our continuation in Eventing. Before she moved to England, she saw me through my first ever long-format CCI*, The Fritz Cup hosted at Ram Tap. By this time, Khan was over his need to stop and evaluate each obstacle on cross country, and he was becoming known as the little horse that could instead. He ended up 6th in that first FEI appearance, with a clean cross country and stadium round to his credit.

My first official trot up

Khan had beautiful form in our first CCI
As we ventured into the upper levels of Eventing, Beth Perkins came on board as my new coach. Beth's vast knowledge and infamous bravery were the exact ingredients we needed to continue to excel. As I look back, Beth's unwavering belief in us as a pair was likely the reason that we went as far as we did.

Kublakhan gained notoriety across the country, in a time when there was no social media to expedite awareness. He brought credibility to the Morgan breed as he moved up to the Advanced level of Eventing, the first of his breed to do so, and took top honors at many of his competitions. During his career, he would be on several covers of magazines, and even the cover the Pony Club A Manual, as a symbol of correct form and style. He had overcome any preconceived notions that others had of him and turned cynics into fans. He adored his job as an event horse, which was obvious after his jump rounds as he would passage the entire way back to the barn.

Kublakhan winning an Open Intermediate division in 1992
Khan became fearless and often posted some of the fasted rounds cross country
Khan's image was often used as an example of form, such as this photo
Khan in his induction to the Morgan Hall of Fame, performing his trick that is now copied by other Morgan Jumpers 
Khan's retirement from high performance was just as significant as his younger days. I became a professional at eighteen, and my business was focused on the Morgan Show circuit. Khan spent time with adult amateurs, Toast Coley in the Bay Area,  and Kathy Smith of Scottsdale, continuing as an ambassador to his breed in the Dressage world. He then came back to our Wilton farm as one of our most reliable teachers in our  Academy @ Dragonfire, nurturing youngsters' love for horses. He was kind and gentle with adults and babes, giving them all a special connection with the animal world that they will certainly never forget.

Khan with my daughter, Taylor, when she was a two year old
Khan and Melissa continued their relationship as joint teachers to beginners in our Academy

Taylor and I take a bareback ride aboard our most trusted friend
Retired from the Academy, Khan was often a beautiful centerpiece on Dragonfire's lawn
Toni Casados gave great comfort to Khan in his twilight years with weekly massage treatments
Losing Khan has been one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. He has been a constant love in my life, an anchor of friendship during my teen years, starting a business, marriage and motherhood. He was my teacher not only in riding, but in life, helping me learn not to set limits on myself. He was 15.1 hands of the purest heart, that showed me to create opportunity by believing in the possibilities. He will be forever remembered as the greatest soul I have been lucky enough to have met. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dragonfire To Host Hawley Bennett January 24-25, 2015

Still scrambling around Holiday shopping??? Here's a perfect gift for the competitive rider in your life: a clinic at Dragonfire with Hawley Bennett! With her extraordinary accomplishments on all of the Canadian Teams including the Pam Ams, WEG's and the Olympics, this elite equestrienne hardly needs an introduction! Her drive and her youthful energy is not only unsurpassed in the industry it is also infectious as she has had a hand in several top young rider's careers. With her keen eye and direct teaching style, Hawley will undoubtably give you a clinic to remember.

The clinic fee is $215 for two days of intimate sized groups that will guarantee that Hawley will be able to give you the attention you need to improve. The Dragonfire facility also boasts a fantastically large ring with several types of stadium and cross country type obstacles that will give you the challenge you desire. Auditors will be just as pleased with the large seating area on the raised berm.

Be a part of this sensational rider's team as she continues to set the international scene on fire and learn from her vast experience. Make checks out to Dragonfire and send to 13247 Orange Rd. Wilton, CA 95693 to reserve your spot now, along with your experience level. VERY limited stabling is available for those traveling over distance for $40/day.

There will be no refunds on clinic fees unless your spot can be filled from a wait list. Late entries will only be accepted if space warrants, and will be on a CASH basis only.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Check Out The YouTube Channel PonyTube!

Check out the new YouTube channel, PonyTube! Taylor and her friends will have fun adventures with ponies while learning important lessons. All skits are written, directed, and edited by an 11 year old, with a perspective only a child can convey!

Here is the first episode:

Make sure to subscribe to the channel to keep up with the Adventures of Taylor and Prince!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dragonfire Welcomes Walsh Products To Our Team

Walsh products has a long and rich heritage of producing peerless products known for their craftsmanship, longevity and ease of use. Founded in 1914 by James Walsh, the company grew to prominence by developing distinctive products like the innovative Walsh No-Buckle Harness. Dragonfire has been using their top of the line leather halters for years when showing their Morgans, and they are excited to now use them and other products for their event horses. Check out their website by clicking here!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Jennifer McFall Awarded Rebecca Broussard Grant

Jennifer McFall and High Times

At the 2014 USEA Convention, Jennifer McFall was awarded the Rebecca Broussard National Developing Rider Grant, which includes a check for $10,000.

This grant is bestowed by the Broussard Family through the United States Eventing Association Endowment Trust in honor of the memory of Rebecca Chaney Broussard. Mrs. Broussard supported numerous international riders through both her generous financial contributions and horse ownership. Mrs. Broussard (familiarly known as "Becky") was truly respected and admired by all who knew her, and the sport of Eventing has benefited at all levels from her extraordinary vision, involvement and loyalty.

The Rebecca Broussard National Developing Rider Grant is designed to assist and to encourage the development of Event Riders at the highest level of the sport. This grant will be awarded to offset some of the travel and training expenses that go along with competing in the sport of eventing at the top levels.

Jennifer is so thankful for the help she will receive from this grant, and to the Broussard's who are supporting her dreams to compete at the highest levels of the sport. It is a great honor and one that she will be forever grateful for.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

High Times Finishes Top Ten At Galway Downs CCI***

photo by COTH
High Times and Jennifer McFall remain consistent at the CCI*** level, with their second 9th place finish, this time at Galway Downs. 2013 saw them take the same result at the Jersey Fresh Three Day Event, their first attempt at the level. The partnership between the two is obviously deepening, with improved performances throughout the season. 2015 could really be their year, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for them.

Enjoy this video of their cross country round as the trailblazers to Ian Stark's tough new and improved course at Galway Downs. 


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Wilton, CA
A full service equestrian facility offering lessons for all ages, training, showing, breeding and sales.

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