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    Show-jumping horse ‘Summer’ retires after successful
    Grand Prix career

    Honors include PCHA Horse of the Year and competing in two World Cup Finals

    By DANIEL K. LEW / Horsetrader staff - September 17th, 2009 - Show & Event News

    Summer, a Grand Prix show-jumping horse, retires during an Aug. 29 ceremony at Del Mar Horsepark. The 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare is accompanied by rider Mandy Porter, owner Barb Ellison and groom Cece Ratz.

    Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

    Summer, a Grand Prix show-jumping horse, retires during an Aug. 29 ceremony at Del Mar Horsepark. The 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare is accompanied by rider Mandy Porter, owner Barb Ellison and groom Cece Ratz.

    DEL MAR — After a decorated show-jumping career, Summer, a gray 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, entered the show ring for the last time Aug. 29 for her retirement ceremony. Summer and her long-time rider, Mandy Porter of Encinitas, Calif., have won numerous Grand Prix events, and competed at prestigious events, such as the 2007 and 2008 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals. Summer was also honored as the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association 2006 Horse of the Year.

    Summer’s retirement was held at Blenheim EquiSport’s All Seasons Summer Tournament at Del Mar Horsepark, prior to the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, the first in a series of World Cup Qualifiers for the 2010 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals. The evening of Summer’s retirement marked the end to her Grand Prix and World Cup career, but it was the start of competition for next year’s World Cup hopefuls.

    The partnership between Summer and Porter began in 2004 when Summer, then 9, was purchased at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, from Norman Dello Joio by Barb Ellison’s Wild Turkey Farm in Woodside, Calif.

    Ellison remembers the day well, as they were trying Summer for Ellison to ride. “After about two jumps, I knew she wasn’t for me, but I asked Mandy if she felt like she could be a Grand Prix horse,” Ellison said. “We started putting the jumps up and up and up, and she won our hearts. How could she not? She was this lovely big mare who tried so hard for you each and every time.”

    Within their first year together, Summer and Porter won the Del Mar International Grand Prix. It didn’t take long for Porter to figure out the 16.3-hand, Belgian Warmblood mare (by Capitol x Melissa x Lys de Darmen) loved to be the center of attention, and thrived on being treated like the diva she is. Summer would “cuddle” on her own terms, sometimes squealing if you touch her when it wasn’t her idea. A true diva, she travels with an entourage–a stuffed pig, Porter said.

    Cece Ratz, Summer’s groom, loved bringing the big gray mare to the ring. “When she was all braided up and looked so pretty, she knew that she was special,” Ratz said. “She knew it was a big important class; she knew when she did well; and she knew how you felt, too.”

    The star treatment worked and in 2005, Porter and Summer were the ones to watch winning back-to-back $75,000 Desert Circuit Grand Prix at HITS Indio, and a total of four Grand Prix wins for the year. In 2006, the pair’s win streak continued at numerous events, such as a repeat victory at the Del Mar International Grand Prix, and capped with Summer being named the PCHA Grand Prix Horse of the Year.

    Mandy Porter and Summer compete at the 2007 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Las Vegas. They also represented the United States at the 2008 World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

    Mandy Porter and Summer compete at the 2007 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Las Vegas. They also represented the United States at the 2008 World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Summer knew when to turn it on for the crowds and they loved it. “When the stakes were high, Summer would give it her all–the more difficult or technical the better,” Porter said. “We make each other work hard. Once we step into the ring, she is all business; ready to play the game and she knows what she is suppose to do.”

    It was also fitting for Summer to retire in Del Mar since crowds there have been known to give loud cheers and applause to Summer’s performances and jumping rounds. “She absolutely loves Del Mar,” Porter. “That sort of atmosphere helps spark her, with all the people and the lights. What might sometimes intimidate another horse, it makes her better. She has quite a bit of fight in her when it comes to competing.”

    In 2007, Summer and Porter placed third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, and then represented the United States at the FEI World Cup Finals in 2007 Las Vegas, and again in 2008 Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Porter and Ellison both agree there wasn’t a single win that was most important to them, but cherish Summer’s consistency and the reward of watching the partnership that developed between horse and rider.

    There is a consistent thread among those who have watched Porter and Summer reach their high level of success, and that is the bond between the two. Their fans have spoken of how they will miss seeing the pair together; they are not referred to individually, but as “Summer and Mandy.”

    “She’s the horse I’ve had the most success with here in California and she got me to where I am,” Porter said. “I have to thank Barb Ellison and Wild Turkey Farm for the relationship that I have been able to have with her; she got me to two World Cup Finals and numerous Grand Prix wins. We’ve had a very good relationship; we might nearly be like sisters–we’re like family.”

    At the retirement ceremony, “Summer and Mandy” entered Del Mar Horsepark’s covered arena and rode around the show ring to a standing ovation. Summer jumped her last fence and then Porter removed Summer’s saddle, while accompanied by Ellison and Ratz.

    Summer will retire to lush paddocks, trail rides, and her new career of motherhood as a broodmare at Wild Turkey Farm in Woodside.

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