Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jodie Kelly and Wencenza Leave a Hurricane and Get Back in the 5-Year-Old Final by Winning the Consolation Class

Jodie Kelly is a top rider and trainer, who works with Julie Calzone and her horses. She is making her way in the world of dressage. Check out her latest accomplishment.

Jodie Kelly and Wencenza Leave a Hurricane and Get Back in the 5-Year-Old Final by Winning the Consolation Class
By Jeannie Blanq Putney for DressageDaily

With just 72 hours to go before the start of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championship, competitor Jodie Stevens Kelly had no idea whether or not she’d be making the trip to Kentucky. At home in Destin, FL, Hurricane Ike was brewing, and although the Kelly’s have a solid evacuation plan no one knew where Ike would land. Last week Destin was in the projected path for most of the week. “Until it hits the Gulf, we have no idea which way it will go,” said Jodie.

It appeared after the first day of the Five-Year-Old Championship that maybe Jodie’s first trip to the championship wouldn’t have been worthwhile, but in the consolation class today she proved that was not the case. With a score of 7.76 Jodie earned first place in the class buying her a coveted spot in tomorrow’s finale. The judges’ first comment was that they couldn’t figure out why Jodie and Wencenza were in the consolation class. Tomorrow they will give the other 14 competitors a run for their money. Wencenza, a Dutch Warmblood mare by Contango out of Piacenza by Juventus, bred and owned by Beth and Roy Godwin is one of the promising U.S.-bred horses in this year’s championship. Jodie is no stranger to tough competition. As a 14-year-old she showed her stallion (at the time) Manhattan at the PAVO cup, a competition for young horses in Holland, under the tutelage of Toine Hoefs. Jodie ended up 16th out of some 600-plus competitors.

Back home in Destin, things seem to be settling down, and the 30 horses at Jodie’s training and boarding barn are safe-and-sound. “We are literally sitting ducks,” she said. “The Gulf is a mile south of us, and the Bay is less than a mile north of us so we’re between two bodies of water that could flood at any time. It’s the price you pay for living in paradise.” Her thoughts have constantly been with her horses and her farm, and she said she was ready to drive home at any moment and implement their evacuation plan. “We have a very intricate plan that we develop at the beginning of every hurricane season,” she said. “I could tell you right now which horse goes in which trailer and who is driving it.”

They evacuate to a cinderblock barn that is an hour and a half north of them that includes 29 stalls along with a small barn across the way. “At the beginning of every hurricane season we pay put a deposit down on the stalls,” Jodie said. “It guarantees us that that barn is available no matter what. It’s a pretty good deal for us being where we are.” The Kelly’s opted to leave all their trucks and trailers at home after Beth offered to trailer her horse up, since she is north of the Bay and would be out of harm’s way. Jodie and mom Laurie followed.

"The storm wasn’t one of the strongest, but it was so big in diameter,” said Jodie. "Destin was receiving huge storm surges and a lot of the bridges were closed. A barge actually hit one of the bridges as a result of the high winds. The causeway for one of the bridges was closed so Destin was pretty much closed to incoming and ongoing traffic the day of the jog.”

The Kelly’s rented a house in Kentucky and will have the ability to stay on if need be, but now that their minds are eased temporarily it is time to gear up for some more great competition.