Healing Hearts Holds Combined Test
The rich calendar of local schooling shows — headed by top-notch offerings at Foxtrack Training Center, Tamarack Farm, Antares Farm and others — has a welcome new addition.
Healing Hearts Equine Rescue, based in Carthage, held the first-ever Healing Hearts Combined Test and Dressage Show, a benefit for the rescue, on Dec. 9 at The Fields in Cameron.
With the fundraiser, the rescue was looking to build up a nice nest egg of funds for the horses going into the harsh winter months.
When publicizing the event to the community, rescue president Libby Schmittdiel was adamant about how she envisioned the competition.
“I told everyone, this is supposed to be a schooling show to raise money for the horses,” she said.
The mere mention of big-name competition grounds like the Carolina Horse Park and the Pinehurst Harness Track often scares timid novice riders away. The goal here, Schmittdiel said, was to keep the environment laid back.
“I wanted people to feel comfortable,” she said. “Whenever someone looked a little nervous or worried, I told them, ‘Remember, you’re doing this for the horses.’”
Schmittdiel grew up in New Jersey watching her mother run the prestigious Essex Three Day Event, so she was more than ready to take on the challenge of organizing her own event.
Sue Smithson and Marc Donovan graciously donated their services for the show in the dressage judging and course designing areas.
Competition day dawned with bright sunshine, 70-degree temperatures and a reliable cohort of enthusiastic volunteers ready to welcome and serve a full field of horses and riders.
After originally expecting only 20 to 25 entries, Schmittdiel was dealt quite a surprise when, on closing day, she had no less than 81 competitors lined up.
“It was unbelievable,” Schmittdiel said.
In all, 72 combinations turned out on show day, keeping Schmittdiel and her team running full speed ahead until late Sunday afternoon.
Feedback from competitors has been overwhelming positive. All phases ran professionally and on schedule, and riders said they appreciated the low-key environment the show provided, good for all ages and all experience levels.
Riders as young as 3-year-old Hailey Atwell, sitting proudly on her trusty steed Gingersnap, strutted their stuff on the main stage. Atwell completed an introductory dressage test with fellow competitor Farrin Wallace running alongside.
Local professional Diana Hoberecht, of Raeford, rode one of her client’s green horses in a low-level division and also brought two students and their horses.
Hoberecht said they were all looking for a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere — and the Healing Hearts Combined Test delivered.
“They gave me extra time with my 4-year-old; there was no pressure to get in the ring right away,” she said. “They hit a home run with this one.”
Competitors also praised the facilities at The Fields — despite a significant amount of heavy rain the day before, the top-of-the-line rubber footing in the dressage and jumping rings was left unscathed.
“It all came together perfectly,” Schmittdiel said.
Next time Healing Hearts decides to hold a show, Hoberecht said she plans to be one of the first on the entry list — but there are no immediate plans for another competition.
Between a tack sale, the show, a volunteers interest meeting and an open house for the rescue, all in the first three weeks of December, Schmittdiel said she is in need of a break.
But the demand will be high among the Sandhills equestrian community for an encore, and Schmittdiel hopes to fulfill that request as soon as she can.
Contact Sarah Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story