Touch n GO Farm

Whitesburg Georgia

2001 in Review PDF Print E-mail
Wendel2001.jpgWho in the world can reflect on the year 2001 and not see their life changed in some way? It was one of our riders, Peggy Carspecken, who first called and said that something horrible had occurred. We in turn broke the news to our veterinarian and several students.

The tragic events of September 11th touched our lives in many ways. Gigi is originally from the Pocono mountain region of east Pennsylvania. Many old clients and friends live in New Jersey and New York. Luckily, no one was directly affected.

I work for Delta Air Lines and have seen my company suffer greatly. As New Years Eve rolled around, over 13,000 employees had left through retirement, voluntary leave or furlough. The airline industry will never be the same.

Ironically, three days after that terrible Tuesday morning Gigi, Cassidy and I were at the Georgia International Horse Park with several Touch 'n Go riders. Despite enormous difficulty getting judges and volunteers, Ann Genovese managed to put on a wonderful dressage and breeding show. It did everyone's heart good to see the American flags hanging on stalls and patriotic pins clipped to lapels.

In the following weeks America steeled itself for a long campaign against the sponsors of terrorism. Those who share a love of horses tried to follow the advice of President Bush and "go about our normal lives." Here at Touch 'n Go riders continued to train and compete. By years end many realized their goals and several received local or national awards. We feel that those achievements deserve recognition.

The farm is a place of almost constant activity and most riders who train here know our family, including the dogs, cats, goats and horses, by name. Because of this familiarity, I occasionally forget that all of our riders do not know each other. So please take the time to read the "Year in Review" and share in our excitement at some of the positive accomplishments of the equestrians at Touch 'n GO Farm.

- Scott Nutter

In January Gigi represented the Georgia Dressage & Combined Training Association at the 2001 Georgia Horse Fair in Perry. Equine enthusiasts for all breeds and disciplines attended the event. The Saturday and Sunday demonstrations captured the audience's attention and were met with rousing applause. Wendel has never been fond of the intense environment of the Georgia Fair Grounds indoor arena but he managed to perform all of the Grand Prix movements with few mistakes.

March and April ushered in the show season for many. As always, it was fun to see riders testing the waters at a higher level after a winter of dedicated training. Gigi was no exception as she showed Wendel at Intermediare II through the spring and performed his first test at Grand Prix in March. She also began competing Dr. Julie Ballard-Haralson's Dutch mare Jezebel at Third level. The pair quickly captured their share of blue ribbons.

Touch 'n Go event riders got a special treat in May when Gigi and Wendel kicked off the Foxhall Cup 3-star event. Early Thursday morning they performed the "test ride" that traditionally begins the dressage portion of the competition. Riding an unfamiliar test at a new venue with wet grass footing had Gigi concerned. After a flawless ride, she saluted the judges, smiled and said, "I don't care about my score, at least I didn't go off course!"

May also saw Gigi return to Montgomery for a dressage clinic for the MADCTA. The Alford's did a fine job of organizing the event and Liz Hunter proved, once again, to be a fabulous host. As the month drew to a close, Peggy Carspecken brought her new Dutch mare, Lestera, to Gigi for training. "Lala" began to show promise right away.

The Birmingham BDCTA hosted a clinic with Gigi in June. The event was held at Ray and Frances Dudley's farm in Indian Springs, Alabama. The Dudley's may not be a household name to many but over lunch it became clear that they had been ardent supporters of English riding for five decades and essentially brought dressage to Birmingham.

One event worth mentioning occurred on Father's Day. Tammy Opperman has worked with Gigi for about a year. When she arrived we knew her TB mare Tessa was pregnant and would foal in June. Late that night, the birth began and progressed rather normally. As the foal reached the halfway point, everything stopped. Tessa quit pushing and even began to graze! The excited call to the vet was placed and his advice was simple but firm; "tell Scott to grab on tight and PULL OUT AND DOWN....HARD!" I did as instructed and a few minutes later Spree whinnied to let the world know she was all right.

The competition season picked back up in July and many T'nG riders qualified for the USDF Region 3 Championships. The event riders realized success at Novice and Training level with several qualifying for the USCTA Area III Championships. Gigi began to concentrate on showing Wendel at Grand Prix. He lacked confidence but the scores steadily improved. Late in the season Jezebel moved up to Fourth level and managed to qualify for the finals at Third & Fourth level.

GDCTA hosted the Regional Championships in conjunction with the Atlanta National Fall Dressage show on October 13th & 14th. Don Faso, Liz Faso and Lynn Garrett put on a super competition that attracted riders from eight states. When Sunday afternoon rolled around the Touch 'n Go tally was impressive: Four Championships, three Reserve Champions, numerous top-five finishes and two "High score" award winners.

Any thoughts of relaxing were quickly dispelled when Spanish Riding School Master, Karl Mikolka returned to Diane & Alan Thomas' Merichase Farm in Newnan the week after the finals. The clinic was deemed by many as the best ever. Everyone left with months of homework.

As the holiday's approached, Gigi returned to Montgomery for one more clinic with the MADCTA. In December she attended the USDF Annual convention in Orlando. The Awards Banquet offered the opportunity to visit with friends, both northern and southern. While Gigi and I were almost the only locals in attendance, it was nice to see other Touch 'n Go riders names listed throughout the program.


Adrienne Rogers & Milky Way

adrienne_chm.jpgThis young lady continues to show that hard work and consistent training pay off. For the last few years she rode the Connemara mare Katie O'Hara thought Prix St. Georges. The team won regional championships and Adrienne's USDF Bronze and Silver Rider medals. In 2001 Adrienne began to compete her new Dutch gelding Milky Way. The pair formed a lovely but occasionally explosive partnership. Their early competitive outings were unpredictable, ranging from great to gruesome. By fall Adrienne had found ways to channel Mickey's energy and the big scores rolled in. Their competition ended with the following achievements:

  • USDF Horse of the Year award: Third Level, Jr/YR - 3rd Place
  • ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships: Champion - First Level Jr/YR (72.647%)
  • ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships: Champion - Second Level JR/YR (67.442%)
  • All Breed Award - NA/KWPN: Second Level Jr/YR - 3rd Place (66.53%)
  • All Breed Award - NA/KWPN: Third Level Jr/YR - 1st Place (66.667%)
  • GDCTA Year end awards: Champion-Third Level Jr/YR (67.05%)
  • GDCTA Year end awards: Champion-Second Level Jr/YR (70.35%)

Not bad for a sixteen-year-old! Everyone needs to keep their eyes out for this team.

Julie Ballard-Haralson, Katinka, Jezebel & Original

No one can accuse Julie of being lazy. Somehow this gal managed to show the complete 2001 competition season while sponsoring both dressage and event riders and showing in DSHB events! This would constitute a busy year for anyone, let alone a practicing ER physician. On the rider front Julie competed the Dutch mare Katinka at Second level for most of the year and slipped in a few Third level classes in the fall. This resulted in Julie winning her USDF Bronze rider medal. At the ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships she and "Katie" took Reserve Champion at Second Level - AA. The pair also won the GDCTA Year end Award at Second Level - AA. Original is a five-year-old Dutch mare that Julie imported in 2000. "Ginny" cleaned up at the DSHB show at the Georgia International Horse Park and later won Reserve Champion Mare at the Cosequin/USDF Breeder's Championship Series Finals in Newberry, Florida. Rock Candy is Julie's bay three-year-old Thoroughbred mare by Rock Point. Even in competition against the flashy warmbloods, Rock Candy managed to place fourth in the Cosequin/USDF Dressage Sport Horse Prospect class judged by Hilda Gurney.

Diane Thomas & Wondrous

diane.jpgFor several years Gigi has spent her Wednesday's with the "Merichase Gang." Diane and Alan Thomas' beautiful farm has hosted clinics with Karl Mikolka and is home to several devoted dressage riders. Over the years Diane has moved her Hanoverian mare "Hannah" up the competitive ladder. By 2000 she had won her USDF Silver Rider Medal and was realizing consistent success at Prix St. Georges. While in Florida early in 2001, Hannah made it clear that she didn't acclimate well to the change of scenery. Upon returning home both Diane and Hannah were a little frustrated. Weekly lessons and Diane's determination brought the mare back around and their success in the show ring returned. By fall the pair had qualified for the ABIC/USDF Region 3 dressage Championships at Prix St. George. They placed fourth at the finals in the AA division. After another clinic with Karl and some encouragement from Gigi, we might see Diane and Hannah competing at I-1 next year.

coleen.jpgColeen Pridemore & Jinius

Coleen spent most of the year getting to know her new mount "Jimmy". He's a big Dutch gelding with a lot of potential. Coleen had just begun to compete her former horse Mozart at Fourth level when he became ill and had to be retired. Not one to be deterred, she and Jimmy spent most of the year competing at Fourth level and began to click. The pair won the GDCTA Fourth Level - AA Championship in the Year End Awards program and placed third at the ABIC/USDF Regional Dressage Championships.

Imtiaz Anees & Spring Invader

Imti came to Gigi for instruction in the middle of 2001. He went to Sydney as the first citizen of India to compete in the Olympic games equestrian events. With the 2002 World Equestrian Games as his next goal, Imti and "Kevin" continue to show improvement. The team placed tenth at the Kentucky Classic Horse Trials and put in a good showing at Fair Hill. Now that Kevin is growing accustomed to flying changes, the sky's the limit for this ambitious eventing team.

Kathy Erdmann-Beall & Axel

axeledit.jpgNot many people would spot Axel, a diminutive TB/Percheron cross, and think of dressage. Nonetheless, Kathy has managed to bring out the best in the gelding and in their first full season of competition, the two did very well.

Along with wins at First and Second level against much flashier competition, Kathy and Axel qualified for the ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships. Late in the fall the pair gave Third level a try and received the two scores necessary for Kathy to win her USDF Bronze Rider Medal. In two large classes at the Finals, Axel and Kathy took 6th place at First level - AA and 5th place at Second level - AA.

Lee Burton & Grelonus

On a trip to Holland, Lee managed to find a schooled, Dutch gelding named Grelonus. While still in the early stages of forming a partnership, Lee and "Gus" began to compete at First level. In relatively short order they qualified for the Regional Championships and moved up to Second level. These two have trained diligently through the winter and plan to take the show circuit by storm next year.

Rebecca Cleveland & Chase

Rebecca Cleve.jpgWhat a difference a year makes. After a slow start in April, Rebecca and Chase began to click at Third and Fourth level. With Gigi's encouragement and support at home in Alabama, Rebecca earned her two scores at Fourth level towards her Silver Rider Medal. In September these two earned a 64% at 4-2 and a 72% at 3-3! This led to the first of two "High Score - AA" awards for the year.

To cap off their competition year, Rebecca and Chase won the Third Level - AA division at the ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships with a 66%. With their determination, watch for these two in the FEI ring sometime next year.


caesar.jpgGina Benson, Caesar & Guardian

2001 was a busy year in many ways for Gina. She opened Centaur Farms with fiancee Hershel Cook, formed a partnership for a new Dutch stallion Guardian and competed in performance and breed shows. Gina and Caesar have been competing at Prix St. Georges for over a year.

This year Caesar qualified for the ABIC/USDF Regional Dressage Championships and took second place in the GDCTA Year End Awards program at PSG Open as well as winning the FEI High Score award at Turning Point. Gina's new stallion Guardian won Stallion Champion and Mature Horse Champion at the Good Horseman Breeders Championships. He also qualified for the Cosequin USDF/DSHB Southeast 2001 Championships.

Janie Montgomery & Jasper

Janie started trailering in from Birmingham in the summer of 2001. She has been active in the dressage community for years and wanted to continue progressing with her talented, Dutch gelding Jasper. The pair came to Touch 'n Go whenever scheduling allowed. Although their training with Gigi has just begun, the future looks very promising. Janie and Jasper earned a USDF All-Breeds award with the NA-KWPN placing Second at Third level - Vintage Cup division. They took Reserve Champion at the Region 3 Championships at Third level - AA and won the Fourth Level "High score" awards at the Atlanta National Fall dressage show. Janie's year finished with the GDCTA Year End Awards Championship at Third Level - AA.

Robbie Rice, Almost Heaven & Avalanche

Robbie is another relative newcomer to Touch 'n Go. She and her show-buddy Janie Montgomery had chatted with Gigi at competitions for several years. This summer Robbie began trailering in from Knoxville, TN for intense training stays. She also attended the clinics held in Montgomery, AL. Working with two green horses has been a challenge but Robbie took Almost Heaven to several shows and won the High Point - First Level in Baker, Florida. "Allie" also placed fourth in the GDCTA Year End Awards at First Level - AA. Robbie also qualified Allie for the Region 3 Dressage Championships and earned her First Level USDF Performance Certificate. Robbie's other horse, a youngster named Avalanche, went to his first show this year and placed first in one of the Turning Point breed show classes.

Liz Lynn & Minerva

Beneath her sweet exterior lies the heart of a fierce competitor. Liz came out in early 2001 at First Level and began to collect her share of ribbons by spring. After qualifying for the Region 3 Dressage Championships at First, she moved up to Second level and had success there too. Unfortunately, due to lameness, the two were unable to compete at the finals but they had done well enough to place third in the GDCTA Year End Awards at First Level - AA.

Tammy Opperman & Expressiv

tammy_family.jpgTammy didn't wait long to show the world her new baby. Expressiv debuted at the Turning Point Breeding Show in September. There she placed first in the 2001 Fillies class and 5th in the Filly Championship. At the Good Horseman's Breeders Showcase "Spree" placed fifth in the 2001 Filly class. At the AWS inspection held at Cherrie Bevers Belle Cheval Farm, Tammy's filly earned Red Preferred status and took home a silver medal. Their breed show season ended with a fifth place Year-end award from the American Warmblood Society.


Stacy Ryan & Kuesveld

Stacy started bringing Kuesveld over to Touch 'n Go in the spring. Gigi was pleased to work with someone as dedicated as Stacy and as talented as "Kuzy." Through the show season their scores steadily improved at Second Level they easily qualified for the Region 3 Dressage Championships. They received a 62.79% in their finals class and took first place in the open show Second Level - Open class with a 65.75%. They finished the year placing third in the GDCTA Year End Awards at Second Level - Open.

Erin Doolittle & Sunday's Best

erind.jpgErin started riding hunters with Gigi several years ago and later decided to focus on dressage. She purchased the TB/Percheron mare Sunday's Child from Rebecca Kemp and also one of "Sonny's" foalsÉ Sunday's Best. Alternating horses each week, Erin decided to start competing at dressage.

As it turns out Erin and four-year-old "Bessie" have become a team to be reckoned with. They qualified for the Regional Dressage Championships while only attending a few shows. Despite the relative competitive inexperience Erin managed to place ninth in a class of twenty-six in the Training Level - AA finals class. Only more determined, she then took second place in the TL - 2 AA class and second place in the TL - 4 AA class with a 72%! She and Bessie finished the year by winning Reserve Champion at Training Level - AA in the GDCTA Year End Awards.

dale.jpgDale Bowers & Dance Partner

Dale had an extraordinary 2001. She sold her Point to Point Farm, had a barn full of babies to sell and a family to take care of. Somehow she managed to attend two dressage shows. It turns out that was all she needed to get her Training Level scores (one a 68%) to qualify for the Regional Dressage Championships.

When not riding she worked at the Foxhall Cup as a steeplechase judge and took her youngsters to breed inspections. She wound up with one approved Oldenburg and two approved Westfalens. Dale ended her year with the happy news that she is in foal herself!

Peggy Carspecken, Virginia Dare & Lestera

In late May, Peggy purchased the Dutch mare Lestera and sent her straight to Touch 'n GO. Peggy already had a wonderful TB/Connemara mare Virginia to ride and she wanted Gigi to train another horse to FEI so she could have a schooled horse to learn on. By December "Lala" was doing credible 4th/PSG work and beginning her one-tempi's. Peggy has been riding her as often as possible. Watch for Lala, Gigi and Peggy in the show ring in 2002.

Leslie Hatcher & Twiggy

Having her son, Little Charlie, may have slowed Leslie down for a few months but she managed to find time to compete at Pine Top, Farewell and Poplar Place in 2001. Leslie earned several top-six finishes and missed a First at Poplar Place by 1 second! These two continue to work with Gigi over fences and on the flat but the lesson schedule might slow down a bit as Leslie is in foal once again.

Sherry Farley, Rollie & Stilts

After a year plagued by injuries, Sherry keeps working to improve herself and her horses. Barring any mishaps, Sherry and Stilts should be back in competition next year.

Jodie Smith & Tulley

Jodie spent 2001 getting to know her new horse Tulley. They soon hit the event competitions and placed third at Pine Top and Farewell. At Poplar Place they took fourth place at Training Level - Open.

Shelby Miller & Justice

Despite physical challenges, Shelby just keeps plugging away. She and Justice competed at Beginner Novice at the Jump Start Horse trials in Lexington and did super. First after dressage, they completed a clean cross-country and clean stadium round to win the division. Shelby plans to breed Justice in 2002.

Ann Brown & Junior

Along with Michelle Parkinson, Ann is one of the "Pike Road Greys," the self-appointed title for these two Alabama event riders. Ann and "Junior" took first place at Hopeland in the Beginner Novice division and first at Novice Horse at Turning Point. The pair finished fifth at J-3 and first at Canterbury.

Michelle Parkinson & Zodiac

The other half of the "Pike Road Greys," Michelle also performed well at the 2001 events. She was second after dressage and finished fourth at Turning Point, Beginner Novice. Michelle finished fourth at J-3 and won her division at the October show at Canterbury. Michelle and Ann exhibit a wonderful work ethic and should give their competition cause to worry.

Jeanie Hanley and Harley

From January to December, Jeanie made great strides with her horse Harley. It has been pleasant to watch the two begin to respect each other. As a flight attendant for United Airlines, Jeanie directly felt the effects of 9/11. She also spent a great deal of time caring for family members. During these trying times, Harley has been a great source of therapy. Look for these two in competition next year.

Linda Berry & too many to count!

Most readers can appreciate the thrill and frustration of the "hunt for a new horse." Linda was in such a search for most of the year. She doesn't let something as small as the lack of a dedicated dressage horse stop her from training regularly. Linda continues to be an active member of the "Merichase Gang." She just bring whichever horse she is trying out or pulls out one of the others in the barn at Bear Creek Farm. 2001 brought the completion of her new indoor arena as well as grandchild number 5!

Lisa Goldman & Hank

Trailering in from Griffin, Lisa began working her Mustang Hank with Gigi this year. Hank was a very timid and untrusting sort but the pair have made great strides and have formed a solid partnership. Cassidy always looks forward to Lisa's visits since that means an afternoon of horseplay with her daughter Rosie.

Pam Schwartz, Patriot, Melbourne and Schnapps

Many area riders know Pam as a competitor, judge, instructor and trainer. When not jetting around the globe as a Delta Air Lines flight attendant, she works three horses and teaches. Starting to train at Touch 'n GO in 2001, Pam works hard but always keeps a smile on her face. Gigi has made it a goal to tap into Pam's inner feistiness.

Gail Quattlebaum and Ami

These two made a return to regular lessons after a hiatus. Despite the stress and time needed to care for her mother, Gail has continued to make steady progress with Ami. In 2001, Gail seemed to find that elusive satisfaction in training your horse correctly and enjoying the partnership without having to prove anything in the show ring. We're all proud of her progress and wish her mother a speedy recovery.

Chimen Rogers, Beau & Chico

When Chimen's Azteca, gelding Beau developed a leg problem, she simply took advantage of his time off to start working her other horse Chico. He is a big, powerful Percheron/Andalusian cross. Chimen started him herself and is using all of the classical principles learned over the last few years at Touch 'n GO to bring him along correctly.

Tish Ray & Fairfax

Tish and her husband are die-hard fox hunters. They travel the countryside throughout the hunt season and she always drops a note telling of their latest adventures. The fun part about working with Tish has been her realization that the dressage work pays dividends on the hunt. Nothing beats having an honest, schooled horse regardless of discipline. On the flat, over fences or in the field, Tish is a true horse lover.

Sheila Martin

Sheila is a recent addition to the Touch 'n GO family. As an event rider, she has worked diligently to bring along her 6-year-old Thoroughbred, mare. She will be moving up to training level in the spring.

Rebecca Kemp & Sierra

These two are back on track and you can expect to see them in the show ring next year. Under Gigi, Sierra did well through Second level and Rebecca has build o upon that foundation. Rebecca wants to earn her USDF Bronze and Silver Rider medals aboard Sierra.

Kathy Frazier

Gigi never knows what to expect when she hears from Kathy. Much of Kathy's time with horses is spent starting youngsters. She has worked with Gigi's colt Legacy and exhibits an excellent touch. The stretches between lessons can be long but everyone at the farm is glad to see Kathy is still in one piece!

And last but not least....... Gigi, Jezebel & Fahrenheit

jezebel_finals.jpgJezebel came to Touch 'n GO in January for training with Gigi. Despite loosing a few weeks due to an illness, Gigi and Jezebel came out at Third Level in March. As the year progressed, Julie Ballard-Haralson's Dutch mare moved up to Fourth level and qualified for the regional finals. With only a handful of Fourth level tests under her belt, Gigi and Jezebel managed to place third in the Fourth Level - Open class at the ABIC/USDF Region 3 Championships. They took Reserve Champion at Third Level - Open. The GDCTA Year end Awards resulted in a Championship at Third Level - Open (67%) and Reserve Champion at Fourth Level - Open (65%). Jezebel is well on her way to becoming an honest FEI horse.

Everyone knows Fahrenheit is actually "Wendel" around the barn. In 2001 Gigi's jumper prospect proved himself a respectable FEI horse. Starting the season at Intermediare II, Gigi managed to steadily improve their scores at that level and moved Wendel up to Grand Prix at the spring Turning Point show. Lacking the confidence of a seasoned Grand Prix horse, Gigi and Wendel did manage to score as high as 68% at Intermediare II and 66% at Grand Prix. The competition year ended with this team winning the Intermediare II - Open class at the ABIC/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships. As the competition season came to a close, Gigi discovered that Wendel had done well in both local and national rankings. The two were Champion at Intermediare II and Grand Prix in the GDCTA Year End Awards program. The American Hanoverian Society awarded them Champion at Intermediare II and Reserve Champion at Grand Prix in the All-Breeds Awards. USDF placed them third at Intermediare II in the Horse of the Year Awards. Truly, a season to be proud of.Wendel2001.jpg

Despite the fact that most of the accomplishments listed here are competition related, everyone at Touch 'n Go understands that showing is certainly not the true measure of success. Those who read this review should realize that these results were achieved while holding true to the classical training principles Gigi emphasizes. The riders mentioned above work with a wide variety of breeds and conformations. None of the horses listed is an "international mover." Instead these diligent and dedicated equestrians are proof that the time-tested, traditional training methods work well with all horses and, if desired, lead to success in competition. Under Gigi's guidance, all of these riders school their horses to train them......not just "ride to show." As always........

Regardless of style, breed or discipline, the basic skills of riding never change.
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