Rebecca Bruce & Evermore Win HMI Equestrian Classic at Sonoma Park

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Whether it’s the 2'6" modified children’s hunters or an international hunter derby, Evermore’s affable personality means he can do it all for professional Rebecca Bruce and her student Camille Cheng.

And on July 26, the striking gray gelding cantered into the main ring of the Sonoma Horse Park at the HMI Equestrian Classic in Petaluma, California, with Bruce and topped the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.

“He’s very easygoing,” said Bruce. “He has such a good brain that I gathered [competing with two different riders] would not be a problem, but until you’re actually in that moment and doing the job you don’t really know. It’s only been two shows now where we’ve shared him, and he’s been perfect for both jobs. It’s nice to walk in on one that you know you can count on and depend on. Even though it was his first [international derby] he jumped great during the week. He won both 3'6" green classes. I knew he was ready to go.”

Bruce, who credited Ned Glynn of Sonoma Valley Stables with helping her prepare for her derby rounds, won the class by .5 points over Kylee Arbuckle on Davinci.

Bruce had only competed at the Sonoma Horse Park once several years ago, and she was impressed with the improvements since then.

“It was really great to be back,” she said. “It’s an awesome venue. They have something for everyone at every level. They’re accommodating. It’s really nice to be at a horse show where you feel like they want you there, and they go out of their way for the spectators and exhibitors.”

Bruce bought Evermore, an 11-year- old Dutch Warmblood gelding of unrecorded breeding, this winter and picked up ribbons in 3'6" and 3'9" divisions before selling him to Cheng recently. She’s excited to keep “Carlos” in the barn and share the ride.

“He’s a good guy,” said Bruce, 30, of Santa Barbara, California. “He’s willing; he’s sweet; he has a big personality, and I wish we had more horses like him that just want to come out and work their hardest and try their best every day— the ones that make our lives so much easier and make us truly love what we do. We’re lucky to have him.”

While Bruce grew up doing the hunters, she’s also enjoyed dabbling in the jumpers. An experienced catch-rider as a junior, she trained with Mary Gatti and Kim Tasker at Rainbow Canyon Ranch in Azusa, California.

“They were like my second family growing up,” said Bruce. “I would be dropped off on the weekends at their place, and that’s where I started learning a ton. I would sit on any horse I possibly could, and I worked day in and day out with them. Later on as I learned my way they allowed me to come to the horse shows and be a working student and see how to do things correctly from the beginning. I feel so lucky to have had the support. Still to this day if I have any questions I’ll call them up.”

Bruce’s family bought Sunnybrook Farm & Ranch in Carpinteria, California, when she was 10, and she’s has been there since. Her mother, Erin Bruce, has been a constant supporter throughout her career. “I couldn’t ask for a better horse show mom,” said Rebecca. “I’m really lucky to have the support behind me growing up through the years with her by my side. She can watch a horse, and she knows the ins and outs of the business and the horses. I started my business when I was 13, and she’s been in it every step of the way.”

Rebecca got interested in jumpers during her last two junior years and has spent time in Ireland riding with Greg Broderick. She’s taken a large group of students to his farm to get international experience, and they’ve also enjoyed riding across the Irish countryside.

For the last six years Rebecca has focused on her jumpers while teaching clients of all ages at Sunnybrook—she taught supermodel Gigi Hadid when Hadid was growing up—with the help of her assistant Shane Lezcano. But recently she’s taken on more hunters, and she now says she has about a 50/50 split in her barn.

“For me it’s about watching them grow as riders,” said Rebecca. “We have a handful of adults, and a lot of pony kids and our crop of junior riders.” Rebecca buys a lot of her jumpers from Broderick, who’s become a good friend. She spent two weeks in Spain on the Sunshine Tour this winter riding one of his horses.

“That was an unbelievable experience,” she said. “He gave me a really nice horse to ride. Talk about a horseman. He rides phenomenal; he runs his barn phenomenally. There’s no detail left untouched, whatsoever. He’s definitely someone I look up to.” With Broderick as inspiration, Rebecca makes sure to always put the horses first. “The connection with the horses is what keeps me going at the end of the day and is what I really love,” she said.

- Lindsey Barreth
The Chronicles of the Horse, August 20th, 2018

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