From the Desk of Phillip Dutton: 2022 in Review

2022 started out for us at our new property in Loxahatchee, FL. It’s a 10-acre, beautiful area with good access to fitness spaces for the horses. Evie and I were lucky to partner in ownership of the property with Isabella Timon, Dr. Kevin Keane, David & Patricia Vos and Leonie & Barry Padgett. Although we missed being in Aiken, it’s exciting to be a part of everything that Wellington has to offer.

We’ve had some new horse additions to our family this year. Azure, or “Sky,” joined us from Ireland, thanks to her new owners Michael & Anne Moran and Caroline Moran. Sky’s year was unexpectedly interrupted by a small injury, but she finished the year with an impressive third at the Tryon 4*-L after a very abbreviated preparation period. Watch for this incredible mare in the future once her dressage gets more established!

Azure finishing third at the Tryon International CCI4*-L. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Denim landed in the USA early in the year and quickly started to show his talent. A close second at the CCI2*-L at Bromont and a seventh at CCI3*L Young Event Horse Championships at Mondial du Lion capped a remarkable first year. Many thanks to his owners Annie Jones, Caroline Moran, Neill Sites and Ann Lapides.

Fernhill Shutterfly or “Boo” is also a new addition. Boo is a Julie Richards’ Irish import, now owned by Caroline Moran and Dr. Kevin Keane. I have only just started on Boo, but I could not be more impressed. I’m really excited about his future.

Denim jumping to seventh place at Mondial du Lion. Photo by Libby Law

This year, Z and I went to Badminton instead of Kentucky. Our result wasn’t quite what I had hoped for after a very tense dressage and show jumping. However, it truly is a remarkable event, and I must say, it’s pretty rewarding to jump around one of Badminton’s biggest cross-country courses.

Z was much more competitive at the Maryland Five Star at the end of the year, finishing fourth and ending on his dressage score. Z and I are blessed to have a group of owners that make it possible to campaign this extraordinary horse – Tom Tierney, Caroline Moran, Annie Jones, Suzanne Lacy, David & Patricia Vos and Evie Dutton.

Quasi Cool is shaping up to be a world-class horse with a second-place finish in the Land Rover Kentucky CCI4*-S and a great finish at the CCI4*-L at Bromont. He needed some easy time after that event, but hopefully he will be fighting fit next year!

Z at Badminton. Photo by EMS Photo

Hachi was sent to me to sell by John and Stephanie Ingram. Not only was it a privilege to introduce Hachi to eventing, it has been a highlight for Evie and I to get know John and Stephanie (who was a friend and classmate at college of Evie’s). I’m also now a fan of the Nashville Soccer Club! Hachi’s rise through the ranks was pretty extraordinary which is an indication of his talent. He now has a new jockey in Hannah Sue Hollberg, and I’m excited for what they can both do in the future.

Sea of Clouds or “Socs” did his second CCI5* at Kentucky this year, and he could not have tried any harder, ending up in 10th. Thanks to all of his owners, Socs is now being campaigned by Olivia Dutton. This is an incredible opportunity for her to take over an experienced horse and also to get the feel of an American Thoroughbred on cross-country. They have finished this year winning an intermediate class at the Virginia Horse Trials, beating our neighbor, Boyd Martin, which gave Olivia a lot of satisfaction.

Thanks to Caroline Moran’s generosity, Carlchen or “Carl,” is now also part of Olivia’s growing string. Carl is such a genuine, beautiful horse, and this is another great opportunity for Liv.

Another of our OTTBs, Lincoln’s Address, ended the year at Tryon in the CCI2*-L. His year was also interrupted with an injury, but I’m looking forward to this upcoming year with him, as he is a great athlete and just gorgeous. Lincoln and I are fortunate to have a great group of owners including Justina Dodge, Annie Jones, Caroline Moran, Anita Motion, Evie Dutton, Isabella Timon and R. Larry Johnson.

I appreciate the help of Stephanie Speakman and Kimberly Iuele with an investment horse that is starting to look promising.

Our non-horse daughter, Mary, has been doing a semester of school in Madrid, so Evie, Olivia and I had a non-horse trip to Spain over Thanksgiving. It was just the greatest time together, and I could not be prouder of Mary and what she’s doing.

Sea of Clouds had a great year and will now be campaigned by Olivia Dutton. Photo by US Equestrian

Lee Lee is still her enthusiastic self, and there are always small improvements. She is getting more stamina and just loves company and overall has a great outlook on life.

Evie and I are about to celebrate 25 years of marriage. It’s remarkable how quickly time flies. How unbelievably fortunate I am to have Evie as my best friend, wife and life director!

The saddest part of the year was watching my great friend and coach Richard Picken slowly deteriorate and die from cancer. Richard’s influence on me as a friend and a coach will always be remembered.

As the year comes to a close, we are still pretty busy at True Prospect Farm. All the horses are back in work, and we are preparing for when Brook Ledge Horse Transportation picks up all of the horses for the trip to Loxahatchee.

We are very fortunate to have a great group that makes everything happen. Olivia is now pretty much working full time, while also doing college online. After a few months with Pippa Funnell, she returned with great enthusiasm, and it’s really rewarding working with her each day.

Kirsten Schuitema is indispensable for us. In addition to her barn responsibilities, she helps out when needed with Lee Lee and is a great friend to her as well. Kirsten’s riding is also improving in leaps and bounds. She has two OTTBs now to compete next year, and I’m excited to help her career progress.

The Phillip Dutton Eventing team at our annual holiday party. Photo by RandolphPR

Joe Bowersox is new to us but a very talented rider who has a great work ethic and is a great asset to us. Krista Semenero is here from California and is a very helpful part of the group. Her desire to learn and improve is impressive, and we are lucky to have her with us. Julio Colin helps everything run smoothly at home, and he has an incredible way with the horses.

Grace Harris will be my competition manager next year. Grace’s accent is similar to mine as she’s from New Zealand! Grace previously worked for Blyth Tait and Piggy March, and I’m fortunate to have her as my groom next year.

In addition to our great team, we have a group of sponsors that make this all possible. I’m very thankful for these partnerships – some spanning more than 20 years! Thank you Dr. Bob and Todd Henderson and the whole Cosequin team; thank you to Triple Crown, especially Triple Crown’s owner, Rob Daugherty.

Antarès not only has the best saddles on the market, they are a great team to work with. Ariat continues to grow and expand, and I frequently see their brand outside of horse events, making them great ambassadors for equestrian sport.

We miss not having Roy Burek at the top of Charles Owen, but it’s rewarding being involved with a great company. I’ve also pleased to now be wearing the Kunkle Gloves. Ken Kunkle seems very keen to expand into the eventing world as well.

I’m proud to be associated with VIP Equestrian and FLAIR Strips owner, Jim Chiapetta. He is constantly looking for new ideas and advances, hence the VIP Saddle Pad. EquiFit have a great range of beautiful products, and the Majyk Equipe cross-country boots are second to none. Special thanks also to EquiLume, Shapley’s, EcoGold, RevitaVet and Tack Butter.

Our farrier, TR Serio, plays a special role in keeping our horses competing week in and week out. His dedication and talent are second to none.

Our in-house students, Dr. Kevin Keane and Amy Ruth Borun, also make coming to the barn that much more special. Kevin also doubles as our indispensable veterinarian and has an incredible way of understanding the horses’ health and wellness and making sure they are at their best.

Also, a big thank you to Emily Randolph who finds a way to keep me current in the digital age, which I find challenging!

After all this time in the sport, it’s fascinating to me that I keep learning and trying to improve every day (or maybe I’m just a slow learner)! It’s an amazing journey working with the horses, and I have to say, I still love the day to day. Having great coaches like Lauren Hough, Erik Duvander and Scott Hassler also makes the horses and me better each week.

I want to wish everyone happy, healthy holidays and all the best for 2023 – and go Eagles!

                                                                                        – Phillip Dutton