Making Memories Happen At Menlo Charity Horse Show
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 07 August 2019 00:00

The opening day of the 49th Menlo Charity Horse Show Grass Hunter Field began in earnest with a day of classes in which Professional riders held the reins. It was clear in talking to seasoned trainers husband and wife team Harley and Olivia Brown of Harley Brown Equestrian, and Philip Cillis of Westwood Showjumping Stables that a win at MCHS is a special moment.

Harley Brown competed in the 1.30m Jumper class with the goal of preparing Absolute Du Mio (aka Vodka) for owner Alessandra Volpi to ride in classes later in the week. Of the five horses that Brown showed in this event, Vodka was the horse of the moment and took home the blue ribbon.

“We bought this horse for Alessandra (Alex) Volpi who rides with us. Alex has just competed in the Young Riders and gained a Silver Medal. We purchased this horse a month ago for her. Vodka is only 9 years old and has competed in a couple of bigger classes in Europe….a very special horse. Alex will probably do her first Grand Prix here later this week, that is the plan at this moment." Brown explained.

18 year-old Alex has been in training with Harley Brown Equestrian for two years and is an experienced Grand Prix rider, but this team has more than one horse competing in Saturday’s $40,000 Stephen Silver Grand Prix. This jet set barn of young equestrian talent also has a group of riders flying in from New York “ Their horses will not compete at MCHS, but we have fresh horses on the grounds ready to compete. So in total three or four riders will compete in the Grand Prix and others will enter Hunters and Equitation Classes".


“We really have a great bunch of kids, supported by a great bunch of parents, it makes it very rewarding. We have been here for over seven years and I am lucky to have grown a large equestrian program. We are very blessed” said Brown.

Olivia Brown, Harley's wife and business partner had the ride on Chacco D'accord, and was over the moon with her first blue ribbon in a Hunter class at Menlo winning one of the 3'6" Performance Hunter classes. "Chacco D'accord is a 6 year-old that we bought as a 4 year-old in Europe, so we have produced him. He was purchased for Emma Riechow who rides him in the 3'6" Juniors, so it is pretty special to win on a horse that we have made. Last year he did the 5 year-olds here at MCHS and he was very green and spooky, so to come back here and have him march right around was wonderful."

Harley and Olivia Brown work as a great team and when asked about the family dynamics Olivia Brown said with a laugh "It really works well. He is very loud and vocal and I am very stubborn. I put him back in his place every once in a while and we carry on. We really do work well together. We have two children, Zoe who is 14 years old is a rider and our son Dexter is eight. Dexter enjoys martial arts and likes computers and has not found his true passion yet. He understands our work and comes to the barn on occasion and causes havoc. Zoe enjoys both Hunters and Jumpers, and is doing 1.40m Jumpers and 3'6" Junior Hunters and Equitation, she really likes it all and is pretty on a horse so could really go anywhere."

The final of the three winners that shared their story was Philip Cillis of Westwood Showjumping Stables. Cillis had the ride on Bayou owned by Michelle Filanc in the 3'6" Performance Hunter and was winner of the first class "Bayou (aka Cricket) was purchased from Meridith Herman last spring, she had started him in the 7 year-old Young Hunters and he ended up being Horse of the Year. I bought him for Michelle Filanc who is an Amateur Owner rider and she does a great job on him. She has had great success with him and he is just fun and nice to ride, a great horse to have in the barn.

I have ten here this week…. mostly Amateur ladies, but I do have one Junior with me. I am very much focused on my clients, so there are very few rides for me. Today the horses I rode in the 3'6" Performance were all being prepared for their real job, which is to be good for their ladies. I am now done for the rest of the week.

We really have a great team at Westwood; Jenn Marun is my assistant and I could not do it without her, Jesus Chewy López is my head groom and I have two of his brothers that work with me Manuel López and Lioba López. Between them and the clients I have I am a pretty lucky guy.

I look forward to coming to Menlo every year. It is really special, and one of my favorite shows. Winning here is so wonderful, I remember being Champion in 1988 and I came the show long before that with Hap Hansen. Today I hoped that I had a score to win and I did!”

The Menlo Charity Horse Show, a 501(C)(3) organization recognized as a USEF Heritage Competition, benefits Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired by producing a premiere equestrian event while educating the community on the issues of the visually impaired.

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