As Grand Prix-groom-turned-Grand Prix-rider Mavis Spencer readied her mount Dubai for this Saturday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Sacramento, she turned to a simple gymnastic to tune him up and slow down his mind after racing in a recent jump-off. Placing a ground rail on the take-off and landing side of a vertical, then an oxer, “gets him to slow down a bit at the fence and really use his body,” she explains. “We don’t do a ton of involved gymnastic exercises,” she adds, but this one is a go-to for between-show schools.
“It’s not about the fence height, it’s about getting them to slow down.” When the vertical is 3'3 to 3'6 (or lower), placing the rail nine feet in front of, and 10 feet behind, the jump is a good distance. When using these ground poles with an oxer or with a larger fence, Mavis has the pole on the landing side pushed a bit further out. “If your horse is not used to the exercise, give them an extra foot or two on either side of the jump.”
Mavis and Dubai contested their first Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League competition a year ago in Del Mar, California. A top junior jumper rider under the tutelage of Meadow Grove Farm in her native Los Angeles, Mavis is the daughter of actress Alfre Woodard. But parental celebrity status has not been a factor in her current success. Upon aging out of the junior ranks in 2009, she lit out on her own. She groomed for Kent Farrington, Darragh Kenny and Neil Jones Equestrian, with whom she spent a working student summer in Belgium as a junior. The latter gig led to her current position as the U.S. rep and rider for that sales horse agency. Mavis also has clients, horses and students under her own banner, Gallop Apace, LLC.
The intimate covered arena at the Murieta Equestrian Center is the site for Saturday’s 7:25 p.m. showdown: the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Sacramento presented by Lasher’s Elk Grove Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram. This third tournament in the NAL’s 14 rounds has elite human and equine athletes representing six nations ready to rumble for points toward a berth in next spring’s Finals in Paris.
Follow along with all our coverage of this week's Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Sacramento. We'll bring you live updates of the event, photos and videos of your favorite horses and riders and the latest news and results.