BY DANI SCHNEIDER
In 2012, Marina Samad tried a small but mighty mare, Capri. They immediately connected, and what was supposed to be a lease for the show season turned into a forever partnership when Samad’s parents surprised her in August with Capri. “The lease was ending in August and I was leaving for my Freshman year of college when my parents surprised me with her, which was amazing,” Marina Samad shared.
Coming off a Junior Hunter that was a jack of all trades, Samad had little experience in the jumper ring except for the low-level jumpers she did on her hunter purchased from Ralph Caristo. Immediately Capri and Samad connected and started their career together in the Children’s Jumpers and moved up through the levels with great success. “I trust Capri so much for virtually anything. She always tries her hardest for me, and would die for me in the show ring. She is amazing,” Samad exclaimed.
Their eight year long partnership has been nothing short of a dream, “Capri has helped me achieve every level that I have ever wanted to do and be competitive, safe, and most of all have fun.” Together, the pair has competed in the Children’s Jumpers, Low Junior Jumpers, Low and Medium Amateur Owner, and 1.30 Speed Open classes. “At every show we have gone to, we have always had top 12 placings. I am so lucky.”
Capri has been competing at Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), in Wellington, Florida for 13 seasons and at 20 years old, the mare is still eager to show. The pair competed in the Low Adult Jumpers and placed in their classes. “Last year we did the Adult Jumpers. This year, Ralph and I decided to just do this for fun and take her in the Lows,” Samad shared, “It is really cool that she still wants to go in and show and is feeling good enough.”
“If Capri were to decide tomorrow that she didn’t want to jump or be ridden, it wouldn’t matter because she is ours no matter what,” Samad commented. “Every day that I have to ride her is exciting. I am so lucky.”
“The best part about Capri is how ridiculously brave and educated she is; she knows her job and it’s so fun to go in the ring because there’s nothing I wouldn’t ask her to do, I trust her wholeheartedly,” Samad commented.
“Horse shows are her favorite place to be. She always knows when she is at a show. She can practically walk herself to the ring and back,” Samad shared. The pair have competed across New York and in Florida at Lake Placid, HITS, Old Salem, Gold Cup, Palm Beach Masters and WEF.
“We try our best to keep her really happy. She hardly jumps at home, and she gets a lot of turnout time and a ton of trail riding” Samad added, “Ralph and Heather have always allowed us to have a program conducive to a horse like her.” When they are at a show, the pair will only jump 4 jumps or less, two verticals and one or two oxers.
“It’s pretty simplistic with Capri,” Samad shared. For as long as the pair has been together, Capri has had the same tack; bit, bridle, saddle, brand of boots. Nothing has changed. “It has been good practice not reinventing the wheel; she has two bridles, a loose ring for flatting and a Waterford for the show ring. It just worked, and we have left it,” Samad commented, “It is cool finding something that works, and sticking with it—especially from the beginning.”
“Having the same cast of characters has been very helpful too. Ralph and Heather know Capri so well, and they know me really well as a rider. It has been fun having that journey with them because they don’t question anything,” Samad commented. “We all have a really good understanding of how things are with her and we don’t mess with the balance. I think that is really cool with having her for so long and let that play out over the years.”
Samad takes extensive care of Capri herself which she notes has really helped their overall relationship together. “I groom her a lot by myself and at shows and that has been helpful because I like having my own routine with her and I feel that has really helped me mentally get ready to go in the ring when I know I have spent the time with her and prepared her myself,” Samad shared, “It helps my confidence going into the ring when I know the horse so well and I think it is really important that horse knows me so well too.”
“Capri is funny. She is very much like a person. She is very well mannered, and you wouldn’t even know she is a mare with how kind she is,” Samad shared. While Capri is not mare-ish at all, and oftentimes is the babysitter in the turnout because of how unfazed she is by anything; the round pen is where she lets loose, bucks and plays. “Before shows, I put her in the round pen, and she loves to buck which is funny because on a day-to-day basis she is very professional and super quiet, but the round pen makes her so excited.”
“It is pretty unusual to have so many successful ventures in their lifetime and the fact she has done so much for me at so many levels is really cool,” Samad shared.
Regardless of how long her successful show career lasts, this special mare will always have a place in Samad’s life. “Capri is like our family heirloom; she isn’t going anywhere,” Samad shared, “She doesn’t owe me, or anybody, anything.”