Kentucky Contenders: Vandiver and Quantum Leap

An inside look at the lives of Doug Payne's two Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L mounts, Vandiver and Quantum Leap.

Olympian Doug Payne is no stranger to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. He’s been prepping all spring with two of his top mounts, Quantum Leap and Vandiver, both of which he’ll be riding in the CCI5*-L at Kentucky. At the 2022 Carolina International CCI4*-S in March, Payne claimed 5th place aboard Vandiver and 11th place with Quantum Leap. Just a few weeks later, he and Vandiver won the CCI4*-S at The Fork at Tryon, while he and Quantum Leap earned 9th. Going into Kentucky following four solid outings, Payne has high hopes for Vandiver and Quantum.

Get to know these two elite sport horses through the eyes of Payne and his stable manager and traveling groom, Courtney Carson.


Nickname: Quinn
Breed: Trakehner
Age: 18
Sex: Gelding
Owners: Doug and Jessica Payne, Debi and Kevin Crowley

Quantum Leap

Nickname: Quantum
Breed: DSP (ZWEIB)
Age: 11
Sex: Gelding
Owners: Doug and Jessica Payne, Susan Drillock

Doug Payne and Vandiver at the 2022 Carolina International CCI4*-S.
©Julia Murphy

What do their nutrition routines look like?

Doug: We’re very lucky to be sponsored with Purina. They feed us excellent. Quinn’s got his own bag. He eats the Omolene® #500 bag. And I think good hay quality is absolutely critical. They get a Timothy-alfalfa mix and we have a supplier up in Canada.

Courtney: I’m a big proprietor of small meals multiple times a day. I would rather feed three or four meals than give them pounds and pounds of grain at a time. Then, I’m huge on good quality hay and lots of grazing. I’ll do a lot of hand grazing with these two in the afternoon cause we have grass all over, and if they can get out for an hour of good grazing every day, I’m really happy with that. I love doing the soaked alfalfa as kind of a buffer for them. All of my big horses that are galloping and my big jumpers all get a decent amount of soaked alfalfa.

Too much food overwhelms [Quinn] and he’ll stop eating. Yeah. So right now, I’m pretty happy with where his weight is right now, so we’re actually just at two meals a day. But I’m sure the closer we get to Kentucky, I’m going to have to go smaller on those meals and probably do four a day.

Quantum is a really good eater, he’s just really slow. He’s one of those that like, anytime you give him a cookie or he eats or anything, he will lick his bucket to death. He doesn’t chew on it or anything … It’s like anytime after he eats, he just gets this really weird tongue complex.

What is their turnout situation?

Doug: They get turned out next to each other or they’re let out together every day, whenever they’re home. They’re inseparable at this point.

Courtney: They go out overnight. They’re across from each other and they’re very much buddies. They have to walk to the field together. They have to come in together. I actually have to put our grand prix show jumper between them at home so that they’re not wickedly attached to each other. But they’re really good out. They’re actually not in my front fields like my first ones that have to come in, they can stay out.

What is Quinn’s personality like?

Doug: We always joke that he’s got Trakehner moments. He’s super genuine, but he’s a little weird. If there was a bag that flew by or like the loose piece of paper, he would totally panic.

He does get attached to friends. He and Quantum travel a lot [together] now and they’re kind of a little bit “twinning it” right now.

Courtney: He’s a very interesting creature. Everything’s kind of on his terms. If he wants to eat cookies or if he wants to eat at all … you kind of do everything his way. I have a little bit created this monster and I’m not ashamed to say it. He’s like my first and only child.

Quinn’s getting more social, but the minute you go to pet him, he might be like, “Whoa, I’m not quite sure about that, actually.”

What is Quantum’s personality like?

Doug: He’s a big dog. He’d be a little bit more grounded than Quinn. He loves attention for sure. Loves the kids. He’s just like a big lab, basically. He would totally curl up on the couch and watch some TV.

Courtney: Quantum is a bit of a goober. We joked when we had him at Kentucky for the five-star last year, he was kind of like, “Whoa, did I do all five stars guys? Like, can I count that high?” But he would do anything. He would jump off a cliff if you asked him to.

Quantum is going to have a spot on my couch when he’s done. He would totally come in and be a lapdog.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap at the 2022 Carolina International CCI4*-S.
©Julia Murphy

What is Quinn like to ride and what is his training schedule like on a day-to-day basis?

Doug: At this stage, he’s 18, you’re not going to really teach him anything new. We’re constantly working to increase his core strength and his ability to maintain his balance. I’m lucky actually, Jess (Doug’s wife) actually rides him a fair bit now. I think he actually likes that she does a lot of just stretching with him—sort of long and low and loose.

I probably ride him, honestly it’s not that often, on a normal week, maybe twice a week. Low maintenance, for sure. He jumps once a week and we generally do footwork and gymnastic type exercises. It’s so nice because he knows his job so well. With some of the babies, we’re are always looking to figure out a way to teach them to do this or that better. Quinn is kind of a known quantity. We’ve had him now for long enough, we know how to prepare him. He cross-country schools like once a year. Honestly, you could probably go cold into the first event of the year and not worry about it.

Courtney: For Quinn at this point in his career, a lot of it is just maintaining his fitness so that he’s fit enough to do the job in the ring. We do a lot of sets with him. He’ll flat for five minutes in a pretty good frame and then take a walk break and then flat for six minutes in a pretty good frame and take a walk break.

We have utilized the Equiband® System with the core band and everything on him. Anyone that’s seen the horse knows he’s long enough for the whole family to ride. So to have that strength in the back is more key than teaching him movements at this point in time.

And what about Quantum?

Doug: Quantum is like cruise control. You just tell him how fast you want to go and you stay there. He’s quite sensitive. He’s a little bit more thoroughbred-y in his mindset. He wants to do it right. If it’s wrong, he would be probably a little bit more worried about it than Quinn, but they’re kind of the same horse in a very weird way.

We try to make everything spooky. We’ve got a bunch of flags, we’ve got speaker system. We have everything set up to try to make the arena at home the biggest environment we can. I don’t shy away from the mower or anything, I’ll have them bring the mower right up to the ring. We don’t avoid anything that could potentially be exciting, we encourage it.

He’s getting better and better as he gets stronger. That’s the thing with him, when he gets tired and he can’t do it, then he gets worried and he gets tight. Quinn’s best in the first 15 minutes or 20 minutes, but you can’t quite pull it off with Quantum yet because he still has that nervous energy.

Courtney: It’s mostly just Doug on Quantum. At this point in his career, it’s still teaching him to be quiet. Especially with him being so much blood, he’s got all the buttons installed, but it’s kind of like driving a Ferrari with over-tuned breaks. Everything’s there, but if you hit something the wrong way, he’s going to completely overdo it or completely do something you’re not expecting. That’s where Doug is so good in being so subtle in everything he asks for and being so precise. It’s much easier, until [Quantum] takes a bit more of a breath, to just let Doug flat him.

What are some of Quinn’s strengths?

Doug: Cross-country would be number one, for sure. He’s super brave, almost to a fault. He’s got an excellent gallop, he’s very efficient. He’s quite nimble and quick on his feet. So in that way, it makes it advantageous. On cross-country you can go on any sort of inside line you’d ever want. You’re never going to shake this confidence. If you’re in a sticky spot, he’s probably the one you want to be on because he’s seen it all and he’ll figure out how to get out of trouble. Going out on course, it’s not that you’re not nervous, but there’s not really an unknown. There could be an oddball thing like he trips or something and you’re not thinking, “Oh, I wonder how he’s going to read this,” because, frankly, he’s not going to care.

What are some of Quantum’s strengths?

Doug: Jumping. I mean, he’s excellent. He’s actually got probably more scope and ability and movement than Quinn, but he’s not established [yet]. He’s an overachiever for sure. He’s super scopey. He did his first Grand Prix jumping last fall. We put him in the welcome [stakes] at Tryon and he won it.

Thanks to Kent Nutrition GroupMane ‘n Tail, and Cosequin® for our coverage during the countdown to the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including lead-up competitions, rider interviews, horse reports, photos, videos and more!⁣

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