Wellington, Fla. – April 6, 2016 – Throughout the final six weeks of competition at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Sock Inc. saw great performances and improvements from clients and horses since the start of the 12-week long winter circuit.
After giving the horses a break during Week Seven, the Sock Inc. team came back strong in Week Eight with Jane Olson Fisher grabbing two seconds and a third place on her 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Stoli in the Adult Amateur Hunter 50+ division. Fisher also took another third place on her second mount in the division, So Lucky, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
In the Adult Amateur Hunter 18–35 division, Paige Wilson took second and third place honors on her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Dicaprio, also known as “Leo” in the barn, during Week Nine. The pair stayed consistent throughout Week Ten, winning two red ribbons in the division, and claiming another third place during Week Twelve.
Sock Inc. owner and head trainer Steve Heinecke rode Fisher’s Swag to a second place finish in the Pre-Green Hunter Under Saddle during Week Ten. The 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding has proved to be a consistent hack winner throughout the WEF season and is being developed, with the help of Heinecke, to be a competitive mount for Fisher in the adult divisions.
In the meantime, Fisher and Swag have already started showing signs of a strong and winning partnership after claiming a second and fourth place together in the Low Adult Hunter 2’6″ division during Week Eleven.
“I was really pleased with the development of Swag this WEF season — Steve has shown him in the 3’3″ Pre-Green division and brought him along so that I was able to show him Week Eleven with second and fourths over fences,” said Fisher. “He is becoming a mature gentleman who also is brave to trail ride. His niche we believe will be the Adult Amateur division. Steve has won many hacks on him and is very talented bringing young horses along in an authentic way. Steve works on teaching me how to make a plan and ride each horse and each course thoughtfully. It was a challenge for me this winter riding three different horses at various stages of development. The great thing is that Steve always had them prepared.”
Sock Inc. would also like to congratulate Paige Wilson on her recent purchase of 14-year-old Rhinelander gelding Aaron 287 from HiHopes Farm LLC’s Lucie Oken. Wilson debuted her talents in the jumper ring for the first time ever in the Adult Jumper division during the first half of WEF with “Aaron” and the two demonstrated great teamwork, proving to be an excellent fit for each other as Wilson continues to pursue the fast-paced sport of show jumping. The pair went on to finish fifth out of 28 in their first Adult Jumper 18–35 class after the purchase during Week Twelve.
“I like that I’ve never done jumpers before Aaron,” said Wilson. “I like that I get to be doing something different. I love it! Aaron and I just clicked. We were perfect from day one.”
“Paige has never done the jumpers before; this is all new,” said Heinecke. “Aaron’s a perfect match for her; they get along really well. It just made sense. It was unexpected though. She didn’t come in to this season wanting to do the jumpers and looking for a new horse, but it worked out. Paige is a great student. She’s a smart rider.”
As the spring and summer show season gets underway, Wilson’s goal with Aaron will be to move up to the Low Amateur-Owner division, but to also just simply have fun.
“Honestly, my goal is just to have fun and enjoy it!” said Wilson. “If I could win a couple of classes here and there that would be great — that would be wonderful! Doing some big classes would be cool. Overall I just want to have fun on him.”
The main, overarching theme of the 2016 WEF season for Sock Inc. was all about learning for both Wilson and Fisher.
“This season was a very big learning experience, in a good way!” said Wilson. “We started off winning champion the first weekend in the hunters. Since then, Steve’s really transitioned to teaching me more about connection and not just jumping eight jumps, but connecting [Dicaprio] and making the eight jumps his best. When we started riding Aaron, we just used him to further that same concept.”
Fisher added, “I was really happy with WEF 2016 and feel so fortunate to have had this education and get to sit on these horses.”
Heinecke shared similar sentiments regarding the 2016 winter season saying, “The season for us was good. In both cases [of Jane and Paige], I definitely saw maturity. The conversation outside the ring is more sophisticated and at a higher level. We’re not talking about the basics as much anymore. We’ve evolved to discussing how do I jump rub-free, how do I jump a clear round, and we build from that; I know they’re getting it. We start at pace, path and position and I would say a lot of times now we’re talking about connection. A lot of people understand that, but doing it is something else. The connection comes from the sensitivity and the feel.
“Overall the season went off really well,” continued Heinecke. “We’ve had a lot of sales this season so it was a good season for selling. It was a great winter circuit, and I can see clearly where we’re going from here.”
As the winter circuit wraps up, the Sock Inc. team will be traveling back home to their farm, based in Matthews, North Carolina, before heading to Tryon in May and June for Tryon Spring V–VIII and then Lexington for the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows series in July and August.
In addition, Heinecke also has plans to continue to expand his business in reaching its highest potential of world-class functionality.
“For spring and summer, I have some young horses I want to develop,” said Heinecke. “I have a couple of at-home clients that will come back in the barn so I want to focus on them more and develop that part of it. I want to organize the barn, and I also want to do more judging this year and possibly a clinic. I’d like to get the kids riding a little more as well. I’m looking forward to a great spring and summer season!”