By Nancy Jaffer
August 9, 2017
Andrew Ramsay has gone to all the right places seeking help with his ambition to ride on U.S. show jumping teams.
During his quest, the native of California was mentored by Alan Waldman in the Netherlands, worked with George Morris and now has combined his enterprise with Chris Kappler Inc. at the Pittstown farm that formerly was George’s Hunterdon Inc.
Andrew and Sarah Segal are the competition riders at Chris’s operation and also train others, though Andrew said he puts most of his emphasis on being in the saddle himself. They work with Katie Martin Hartmann, a veteran of Hunterdon Inc., whose management skills keep the 35-horse operation going.
Andrew is nearly in awe of being a part of the iconic facility where so many top riders honed their skills. Growing up, he had always heard tales about the challenges of the imposing grand prix field at Hunterdon.
“To be at the old Hunterdon and riding on the field itself is fantastic,” said Andrew, whose winning string of horses includes Molly Ashe’s former ride, the Dutchbred Cocq A Doodle, “a horse that has a presence,” and the winner of the grand prix qualifying class last weekend in Bromont, Quebec, as well as grands prix at Tryon and Old Salem. “When you have a good mare, there’s not much better,” commented Andrew.
The rest of his string includes Jadalco, Stranger and California 62, “the most mature of the group.
History is in a way repeating itself with Andrew’s arrival at the Pittstown farm. Chris came to work there with George nearly a quarter-century ago.
“I’m very much into developing the next generation of riders,” said Chris, who no longer is interested in competing himself.
“George had already been working with Andrew and we found Doodle and California together, so I felt really close to that situation. I talked to George and said, `Do you think you could break the ice and see if Andrew would be on board for joining? Like I came to you, George, in ’93, I need someone to drop in and be my professional rider.’”
Added Chris, “It just seemed to be a partnership that made sense. There was a certain comfort zone and we both are George disciples. He’s still like our godfather and is there for us every step of the way,” continued Chris, noting he speaks to George weekly.
“He gave it a blessing and so far, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.”
Andrew’s eyes sparkle when he talks about his horses, and that type of enthusiasm is important to Chris.
“He has real genuine values for the sport. I really like his temperament with the horses and how he works with them,” Chris observed.
“He likes producing horses. He’s inquisitive and interested about how it works, how we can keep doing it better. He’s goal-oriented, it’s not just short-term results. We have a plan. We want to make the World Cup final; we want to get to Paris next year.” Andrew finished seventh on Stranger “a small horse with a big heart” last weekend in the first North American Longines FEI World Cup qualifier of the 2017-2018 season.
While he always knew what he wanted to achieve with his show jumping, Andrew, 32, “wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.” So he took a route that has been traveled by so many before him.
“I reached out to George. He was a great influence, providing guidance and direction,” Andrew said about his experience with the former U.S. show jumping coach.
Moving on to Chris’ operation was seamless.
“It was a nice transition. It’s fantastic working closely with Chris,” said Andrew, noting he didn’t have to spend “a lot of time adjusting to a different style. The care of the horses, the structure of the stable, I was all accustomed to with George.”
Andrew lives at the Riverside Victorian B&B in Clinton when he’s in New Jersey, but like all show jumpers with aspirations, he’s on the road much of the time. He has found success in his new approach, with a good run this spring and summer.
Growing up on the West Coast, he started riding with Duncan and Gry MacFarlane. Their son, Ian, is now associated with Chris Kappler Inc. as a rider. Andrew went on to train with Linda Hough and Stephanie Simmonds.
He and his mother, Nonie, rode out of their Shalanno Farms, and they still have the Shalanno operation in the Netherlands, where there is a focus on young horses. The Shalanno farm in Wellington, Fla., is the base for Chris Kappler Inc’s operation during the winter.
The Shalanno name may be familiar to you—the Shalanno Style of Riding Award handed out in the presentation ceremony goes to the show jumping rider who exhibits classical form in competition.
As Andrew notes, the award, an idea visualized with his mother’s input, is “a way of giving back and a way to keep focused on the American style of riding, which in many ways is a tribute to equitation and the future of show jumping,”
After wrapping up his junior career, Andrew took a break from horses and went to Colby College in Maine, majoring in computer science. But following a five-year hiatus, Andrew decided he needed to be back with the horses, so he headed to Europe.
When he returned to the U.S., he started competing in California, then headed East and began working with George. Andrew moved into his partnership with Chris after the Florida circuit this year.
The results since then “have been reflective of the program, the culmination of a lot,” said Andrew.
“It’s really come together in a nice way.”