Greetings from sunny Florida! As the holidays have quickly faded, the herd here in Wellington is rapidly gearing up for another great year. On the two-legged front, we have super groom Amy Spink back to join us for her second winter, as well as the familiar faces of Tommi Frate and our ever faithful Elsido Ramirez. New to the team is Susan Nally from upstate NY. She has been wide eyed getting her first glimpse of the sights and sounds of Wellington. Michelle Realmuto, rider and assistant trainer extraordinaire, and of course Mrs. K and Marcia, are all the backbone of the Kulak Equestrian crew!

We would like to welcome Jackie Fernandes, Allison Springer’s client, who winters in Miami, and has joined us for the season with her lovely horses Barrichello and Jagger before returning to Virginia in the spring. Back again for a second year is South African native Jane Clement and her homebred Remington. When Jane is not busy piloting a Boeing 777’s around the world for American Airlines, she is soaking up every bit of lesson time she can get. It’s wonderful to have new faces in the barn and both girls bring great energy and some entertaining stories!

Meanwhile, the event horse string is strong this year. In early January we filled the trailer and headed off for a cross country school at Karen and David O’Connors lovely Florida base. It just happened to coincide with OCET groom Sara McKenna’s 30th birthday party! Then on to Ocala Winter I Horse Trials later that week. In the Open Training, Marcia piloted Michelle Chester’s Paladin and Claudine Kundrun’s Quantico to a successful first outing of the year. Paladin will be moving up to Prelim soon, while the young Quantico logs a few more miles in his current division. Michelle Realmuto continues her successful ways with her sale horse Fresa finishing 4th in a very competitive Open Novice. Karri Bellamy flew down on the polar express to ride her own Cool Connection in the Training Rider division. We returned to Wellington, shifted gears and started the hunters in the ring at WEF!

Having sold the late Lora Schultz’s dream hunter, Special K last year to Mary Kay Shaughnessy we thought we’d be absent from the hunter ring this season, until Decadence walked in the barn! A stunning Oldenburg owned by Kara Angulo. Chester, was previously evented to the Preliminary level, before embarking on his new career as a show hunter. He must have done it in a previous life and was winning ribbons at the most competitive horse show circuit in the country in short order!

Next up we head to the Ocala Winter II and Rocking Horse Winter II HT. Click here for our complete show schedule.

Rounding out the crew in the barn this year we have a few of our old-timers. Black Swan or “Chops” has been with us for the majority of his career and has given several riders experience eventing at the lower levels. He is truly an exceptional horse to learn on and he is currently educating Inglath Cooper’s three daughters, Toddi, Kavvi, and Nadia. They escape a freezing Virginia to spend a few warm weeks at their home in Palm Beach each month. The girls love Chops dearly, are riding well and have become expert hands in the barn.

The other two infamous schoolmasters are Ollie and Joey. Both trained to the upper levels in classical dressage, these two are enjoying their daily work with owners Michael Schultz and Allan White. Mike, our host at the beautiful Seven Pines Farm, is riding better than ever! He is a huge part of our team and we owe him many thanks for all that he provides for us.

This season we welcome a host of newcomers from around the country. Betsey Couch French (student of Martha and Lauren Lambert’s) brings her two eventers up from Delray for lessons, she and the horses have made huge strides and really embrace the program. Also, we welcome our new neighbors, Ben Meyers and Alyssa with their show hunters. Pilot Jane’s good friend Linda Dowd (a flight attendant, god bless her!) has been getting a taste of the magic as well, along with Marilyn Heaton who is a veteran of the Kulak Equestrian program. Sharon White, a top international event rider, is spending a month in Wellington with a barn full of top horses. She is riding with Jackie Brooks on the flat and jumping with Ian Millar! She and Marcia have also had a blast helping each other and sharing all kinds of ideas. No matter what level you ride, anyone in the area wishing to further their education is always welcome to come for a visit, to ride or simply watch and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Speaking of lessons, Marcia is a big believer in continuing education and she herself has been busy riding with some of the best in the business. She participated in a two day dressage clinic with the legendary Kyra Kyrklund and her assistant Richard White. The lessons centered around correct posture and revolutionized the way one sits on a horse. After the second day Richard commented how Marcia’s position was exceptional enough to be a Grand Prix rider! Quite a compliment from some pretty hardcore Olympic dressage trainers!

Marcia won’t be riding dressage exclusively anytime soon. The next day she headed off for some advice from show jumping Olympic gold medalist Peter Wyle. Marcia gave Keator and Paladin a great jump school and got some helpful input for both horses. She cannot wait to head back for more! As always, dressage rider Ruth Poulsen and Natural Horsemanship trainer Louis Wood help us on a regular basis all winter.

Kulak Equestrian will bring you more updates soon on all of our happenings. In the meantime, stay warm and happy riding!