BY SISSY WICKES
Vinissa Blann is a familiar face at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. With a breadth of expertise, she can be found in the hunter, equitation, and jumper rings. As a rider, she competes her clients’ horses in order to prepare them for the amateur or junior arenas. As a trainer, she is as comfortable instructing pony riders as she is teaching advanced riders in all disciplines.
Vinissa earned her well rounded knowledge as a perennial student of horses and horsemanship. “I rode my entire childhood with Penny Silcox,” she explains. “Her barn was two miles from our house, so I would drop off my backpack after school and go to the barn every day. This where I learned about dedication and hard work.” Silcox taught her young student horsemanship from the ground up. Long hours in the barn were centered around care and grooming as well as riding and training. From the very beginning of her equestrian career, Blann learned the essential interrelationship between the stall and the ring, care and performance.
At the age of sixteen, Vinissa had the invaluable opportunity to trailer in to Hunterdon and lesson with George Morris. During this time, Hunterdon was brimming with great riders and trainers not only in Morris, but Olympians Chris Kappler and Anne Kursinski. When on the ground, she worked as jump crew or just quietly observed the daily activities of the famed facility, learning the tenets of horsemanship, equitation, and equine business from the best of the era. “We would trailer to Hunterdon for lessons as much as possible,” Blann recalls. “The organization of the farm and the care of the horses and training were the main priorities. I knew that experience would be a building block for my own business someday.”
Graduating from Arcadia University with a degree in psychology, Vinissa journeyed to Wellington, Florida to immerse herself in the horse business. After working for Ken and Emily Smith’s Ashland Farm and for Ray Texel, she took a position as a part time assistant trainer for Jane Fennessy’s Carriage Hill Farm. “I knew I wanted to be in the horse business and I would do whatever it took to make it happen. I did any job at the barn and bartended at night,” she says humbly. For almost twenty years, Vinissa worked under the Carriage Hill banner as a rider and trainer. “Jane is one of the most influential people in my life. We did great work together and it was time for me to move on. I learned a tremendous amount over the years that I now apply to my own business.”
In May of 2017, Day Dream Farm was established as a year round Florida business based at a beautiful, private farm in Loxahatchee. Twenty four stalls on five acres, grass paddocks, a large sand ring with state of the art footing- Day Dream offers a quiet, friendly atmosphere for horse and rider. “Our facility is lovely,” Vinissa boasts. “We provide affordable luxury in the Wellington area.” Day Dream’s clients range from younger working students to juniors to more seasoned adult riders. Working students are a new aspect to Day Dream and one that Vinissa is excited about. “I love helping these kids learn from the ground up. They are both home schooled, so they are at the farm all day working and learning. It is very rewarding to all involved,” she explains.
From her years observing the Hunterdon system, Vinissa developed a training and schooling program emphasizing flat work and consistency. “I approach teaching like a clinic situation. We start with flat work and zero in on one or two things that need work, keeping the lesson simple and positive,” she states. “I challenge my students and want them to feel like they are accomplishing something every time they take a lesson.” Vinissa consistently spends time riding her clients’ horses in order to keep the horses supple and to assess their status. By understanding the horse and what the rider may be feeling, she can best formulate an effective program for horse and rider. “Safety is a priority at Day Dream and knowing the limitations of horse and rider helps to keep everyone safe and progressing smoothly. I treat horses and riders with respect and kindness; it is the most effective path to success.”
Twenty five years later, Blann continues to train with Morris throughout the WEF show season as their schedules permit. “I love that he can bring back the basics and challenge me at the same time,” she states. “It is important to keep learning whether it is by reading, watching videos, or getting lessons from the masters.” The cornerstones of Day Dream Farm are horsemanship, attention to detail, and individualized instruction. Always learning, always putting in the extra effort for clients and horses, Vinissa is dedicated to quality in every aspect.
Day Dream Farm is named as a nod to Vinissa Blann’s lifelong dream of owning her own show horse business. Based in Loxahatchee, the barn participates in the extensive show circuit in Wellington and other venues in Florida. Beginning in 2019, Day Dream Farm will offer a summer camp program for kids at the beautiful facility. Known for her kindness and upbeat attitude, Vinissa believes that positive thoughts bring good fortune and positive people bring great results.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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