By Kaleigh Collett, WIHS Intern
Veterinarian Hope Bachelor has set her sights on qualifying for the $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship at Capital One Arena with her new mare, Carolina Z. They're currently 20th in the rankings with 30 spots available. No newcomer to Washington, Hope placed 2nd with Orlando, now retired, in the same division in 2013.
While a successful competitor in her limited available time, Hope's first priority is her veterinary practice, Pickering Equine, in her hometown of Chester Springs, Pa. I caught up with Dr. Batchelor between client calls and competitions to discuss her plans for the summer show season.
Q: What's your strategy for qualifying for the WIHS Adult Jumper Championship?
A: I wish I could tell you that I had a very organized and planned out strategy for qualifying, but I really don't. I just try to be competitive at all the shows I go to because I don't show that often.
Normally I don't even have the 15 shows required to qualify for Devon, however, I just got word that Carolina is now qualified. Now I have to look towards the indoors. I have been very lucky to have wonderful horses like Orlando and Carolina that make being competitive and qualifying obtainable.
I am the horse show vet at multiple shows over the summer and fall which dictates my schedule to a large degree. The management at these shows has been gracious enough to permit me to both ride and work. So I will be at Swan Lake Stables for a majority of its shows, as well as the Devon Fall Classic and PJA Jumper Classic.
Q: How do you balance training with your busy schedule as a veterinarian?
A: Finding time to ride is always a very difficult challenge because my main priority is always the clients and horses in my care. Whether they’re stabled with me at Pickering Equine for rehabilitation, or client-owned horses at different farms, they are paramount.
I have always felt very passionately about placing my role as a veterinarian first, so naturally riding gets shuffled in whenever there is time, which there never seems to be enough of.
My work schedule dictates my riding schedule. Some weeks I ride several times and some weeks I don't ride at all. Joanne, my longtime coach, does the best she can with my crazy schedule and helps me as often as possible. Normally, if I get one jumping lesson in before a horse show, that's a success. Amanda, my barn manager, will help with riding my personal horses when she has time.
Q: Tell us about your new horse, Carolina Z.
A: Carolina is a new horse for me. Her name is totally fitting for me since I attended vet school at North Carolina State University, and shockingly she came with the name. I leased her first and then bought out the lease last summer. I started to lease her because Orlando, my previous jumper, was getting older, and I knew that he would need to retire at some point in the near future.
Orlando was a wonderful partner for me from 2012 until just last year. He is now retired here at Pickering Equine. Since his retirement, Carolina has really stepped up and been wonderful. I am fairly certain she thinks she's faster than Orlando.
She is a wonderful mare. I know that she will always do what she can to help me out, which is really a special quality that doesn't come around frequently. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ride such a special horse.
Q: How does your knowledge of veterinary medicine translate into the care of your horses?
A: The great thing about being a veterinarian is that I have access to all the greatest equipment. I have a water treadmill and a dry treadmill that my horses can use if riding time is not available. The RLT laser has been a wonderful addition to what I can offer for the treatment of a multitude of ailments. It’s an amazing aid in treating sore backs and necks, and improves the quality of healing related to soft tissue injuries, such as suspensories. I own a Bemer blanket, which uses electro-magnetic energy to improve circulation and oxygenation of the tissues. My horses get to use the spa services at Pickering Equine fairly regularly.
Q: Are there any conflicts serving as a show vet and competing at the same show?
A: I think horse showing for me is different than for most people because I'm essentially at work. All my clients are at the shows and they have X-rays to be read and lamenesses to fix. So I always address the needs of the clients and their horses first. I know that it means I may have to scratch from a class or, at a minimum, move in the order. I have to make sure I'm mentally focused on the job at hand, so I may be treating colic at 10 AM and then walking my course at 11 AM.
I would say my job adds some extra challenges to horse showing, but I would never trade it for the world.
Look for Hope Batchelor and Carolina Z at the $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. in October.
Would you like to compete in the WIHS Children's and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championship this fall? Learn more at http://www.wihs.org/wihs-championships/.