I'll take one for the entrance to our farm! Thanks!
I recently had a short trip to Aiken and during that trip got the opportunity to hang out at Doug and Jess Payne's barn for a couple days.
I have been a big Doug Payne fan for quite some time now. I can't remember exactly when I first started really following him but I recently stumbled across a really old post I shared to someone's wall in 2011 about him. So, since 2011 atleast. This link is his helmet cam from High Society III at the Fair Hill*** in 2011.
I have always liked the way he rides, his training, and the way he conducts himself. I did do a course walk with him a few years ago and that was the first time I had met him in person. He was super nice and down to Earth. Some of these pros act like everyone needs to bow down and kiss their hand before they speak to them. Not Doug, and not Jess either. They are both very, very cool people.
Anyway, one of those days I got to watch all of Doug and Jess' rides. Both of them kept apologizing that a lot of the horses were coming off their short winter break so there wouldn't be any big jumping to see that day. I was happy to watch them ride no matter what.
Well, Quincy must have heard that little bit of information and decided that sounded a bit boring. Quincy is one of his young horses, and he was FRESH to say the least. Sure, Doug is a 4* eventer and GP jumper rider but, you know what is really impressive? The way he handles his firecrackers.
Despite Quincy leaping and hopping all over, Doug just had this big smile and kept him moving forward. There was no yelling, no yanking, no smacking. None. Just a smile. At one point he even laughed a little bit and said "Is that all you got today??" You want to see all Quincy had that day? Here you go:
I don't care how wild Quincy wants to get, he was hands down my favorite in the barn. He caught my eye as soon as he started trotting in the ring and I said "What is he?" Holsteiner. I knew it. These Holsteiners have had my eye this entire year. Every single time I've seen something I instantly fall in love with at an event and go look it up, it's a Holsteiner. So, Quincy just pretty much sealed the deal for me. I will add a Holsteiner to my collection.
His other firecracker that day was one of his GP jumpers, Portugal. Drop dead gorgeous horse, but he must have saw Quincy's rodeo tricks and decided he couldn't let Quincy win that competition. Portugal was LEAPING off the ground like he was part of the Lippazaner show. I didn't get any pics of him because I was too busy watching. The entire time Doug was maintaining a calm conversation with me ring side too. Here's Portugal courtesy of Doug's IG, quite the athlete as you can see:
Ok, so, you guys think Klein is big, right? I tell people all the time that despite her size, there ARE warmbloods BIGGER than her. By bigger I mean both taller, weigh more, and wear a bigger blanket than she does. Here's one!
Big Leo! I remember watching this big guy run Training level in Area 3, now he's a 3* horse.
But, when you're 6'3" Big Leo looks average size.
Mr. Rolex himself, Quinn, aka Vandiver. Huge congrats to Doug too, he and this superstar here were just named to the Eventing High Performance Training List today!
The barn. Absolutely stunning.
Can I just live in a stall??
After Doug and Jess were done with their rides we all went for lunch, then we went to dinner that evening at the Willcox, a well known equestrian establishment in Aiken (wait, isn't that all of Aiken?). The food was awesome, definitely go if you are ever in the area.
Big thanks to Doug and Jess (as well as their team) for the hospitality. They are two very cool, down to earth, talented people that work very hard and deserve all the success they achieve.
If scheduling works out, Klein and I will be making a little trip to Aiken for a week this spring for a little DPEquestrian spring tune up.