“Seymoure” Honored at Capital Challenge Horse Show
Seymoure started working with Phoebe at the Creighton’s Stonebridge Farm in the early 1970s, but his relationship with horses, grooming, handling, and caring for them, goes much farther back. “I’ve been working with horses since I was 8 years old,” Seymoure said. “I grew up on Wildwood Farm; in fact, I was born on Wildwood Farm. My father worked for Ned Cook at Cotton Plant Farm.”
In his young days he walked out polo ponies, worked on the polo fields, and did a myriad other tasks needed to keep multiple teams of polo ponies going. While at Wildwood, Seymoure often saw Phoebe riding her horses across Wildwood. “She was always riding horses. That was her passion and still is today,” he said.
Seymoure certainly has a passion for horses, too. All his four brothers and his father worked with horses, but they eventually went on to other jobs. “I’m the only one who stayed with the horses,” he said.
Seymoure says he gets in his own little world when grooming. Grooming horses “just comes natural,” he said. “I’ve been doing it all my life. Brushing, combing, it’s like dancing with your partner. Get in the swing of things!”
The aspect of the job that he likes the most is longeing horses. “I longe very well and I like the one-on-one relationship with the horses. I get to know the horse better and I can get results from longeing. But I’ve had my share of being dragged, too. The first thing I tell people is to let go of the horse if you’re on the ground. But at Nashville, a horse dragged me and I didn’t let go, mainly because I didn’t want the horse to get hurt. I try not to put myself in a position to get hurt, which is sometimes hard with animals this big. But I try to protect myself and protect the horse.
“Sometimes I try singing to the horses. I like heavy metal music,” he said. “So in a position where a horse can get scared, they can relax more. It all depends on how you’re feeling that day. We might listen to a little James Taylor and mellow out.”
Seymoure and Phoebe have been at Crosswind Stables on Pisgah Road for three years. “All our horses here are very special and we’ve got some nice horses here,” he said. “We had the Horse of the Year in 2010 – Ruby,” owned and ridden by Holly Labry, who was Small Junior Hunter Champion. One is his favorites is Stella, one of Mindy Wurzburg’s retired hunters whom he used to ride. “All the horses have their own personalities.” For example, “Johnny must have his cookies. That’s must – no question about it.”
One aspect of working with the show horses that Seymoure really likes is traveling. “I’ve been halfway around the U.S. I love it! When we go out of town, I’m always among friends.” Seymoure has friends all over – nationwide. And the people who know Seymoure know that horses are very special to him. To win the prestigious David Peterson Perpetual Trophy, the nominee has to be voted on by management of horse shows and judges from all over the country. “And only one person in the nation gets the trophy,” Seymoure added. “To think that a hillbilly could win this is such an honor! I cried for a week every time I thought about it! All the other grooms there that I know came up and congratulated me. They told me I deserved it and were happy for me. It was really breath taking!”
Seymoure didn’t have a clue he was slated to win the award. Phoebe said they’d go to the horse show even thought they weren’t taking horses this time. “She told me we’ll just go watch the show and hang out. While I was there, they gave me a job to do – helping set up the trophies in the arena; helping get the horses to perk their ears for photos. But I still didn’t have a clue” something was in the works. Then he heard his name called, or he thought he heard his name called. “I thought maybe somebody was paging me. Then I looked up on the big screen and saw old photos of me.” They were telling his life story, complete with a lot of photos people had dug up and brought to the show. “I was so surprised!” He still gets excited just thinking about the honor he received. Seymoure is only the 11th person to win the trophy since 1993. The trophy is not awarded every year.
About the WCHR: The USHJA World Champion Hunter Rider Program was founded in 1995 to recognize and celebrate the hunter rider. Each year the top ten nationally ranked riders, and top six regionally ranked riders in seven categories, come together to compete in the WCHR Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD.
Read more about WCHR at http://www.ushja.org/content/wchr/wchr_default.aspx .
Pheobe Sheets: (910) 854-5266 or (9010 483-8811 (cell)
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