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hen Tom Murray and his partner Steven Schachter moved up to Canby, Oregon last year
to start their professional dressage and Hanoverian breeding business, they brought along
Toms eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Balanchine. At that time, he was just learning to do a single
change of lead.
By March, he made his debut in Prix St. George and by the end of the year, he qualified for the U.S.
Finals in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Mr. B. loves his job and loves to learn. It’s
amazing how quickly he catches on. He is the
greatest horse I’ve ever partnered with.”
First Year at Prix St. George,
Balanchine Takes Tom Murray
to U.S. Dressage Finals
By Barbara Pinnella
Top Left: Tom and daughter Kelley
Bottom Left: Alltech Arena
Center Top: Tom Murray and Balanchine
Center Bottom: Tom at gateway to
Kentucky Horse Park
Right: Tom and Balanchine
On November 5
, with the help of sponsors and friends and the
Region 6 Travel Fund, Tom and Mr. B. set out for Kentucky with
Brooke Voldbaek and her mare, Dimora. Brooke had been Toms
first coach when he arrived in Portland and it was very exciting
for him to be able to make the trip with her and her husband,
Don Powers as colleagues.
After four grueling 14-hour driving days, they arrived at
Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
“The facility was breathtaking,” Tom said. “The Alltech Arena was
enormous and impressive – there were numerous museums and
exhibits and restaurants. Everything was perfectly suited for this
event (as well as Rolex), and credit goes to the State of Kentucky
for providing this facility for the equestrian community. I wish the
State of Oregon had something of this caliber.”
The night before his first class however, Tom got some bad
news. I received a call from my partner Steven that his mother was
dying. I wanted to be there with them, but there was no possible way
– and thankfully, he understood.”
The next morning, Tom dedicated his ride at Prix St. George to
Stevens mother – and he won the class.
As luck would have it, on day two and with temperatures
plunging to 28 degrees, Tom was the first 8 a.m. go.
“I’m from California. My hands were frozen to the reins and
certainly Mr. B. had never ridden in that type of weather. But it
energized him and he was just phenomenal to ride the Intermediare
1 test.”
They took second place and Toms daughter, who flew from
California to groom for him, recorded it live on Facebook
complete with commentary – The “Kelley Cam”.
“I think Kelley found a new profession, though she is also a fabulous
E.R. nurse,” Tom said proudly.
Day three was the U.S. finals Prix St. George championship in
the intimidating Alltech Arena. “We were up against 16 of the
best Prix St. George riders in the country and I was excited to
get out there and show what this horse can do. We had a great
ride. He was unfazed by the scale of the arena and I really felt he
clicked into it and understood what he was there for. He gave his
all – and I was so proud of him.”
With a score of 65.8 and three judges, they placed 9
and Tom
was thrilled. Balanchine and Tom are now preparing for the
CDIs down in Southern California and the small tour, which is
Prix St. Georges, Intermediare 1 and the Intermediare 1 freestyle.
Tom and Steven have just completed the construction of their
new covered arena at Viola Farm in Canby and that came just
in time to practice for their March CDI debut in Burbank and
Del Mar, CA. Tom is also excited about opening his Dressage
Training business with 12 new oversized stalls attached to the
arena, and will be giving his first introduction clinic in February.
Balanchine is only eight years old and Tom has done all of the
work on him himself. “We found him in a backyard as a green
broke five-year-old and he was learning to be a western pleasure
horse, but his aptitude for dressage is off the chart.”
Tom has high hopes that this horse can take them to
International competition. It will be exciting to follow their
journey together.
Arriving at Kentucky Horse Park
Tom Murray and Balanchine
Tom Murray and Balanchine - Intermediare 1 Test
Call to schedule a private tour or audit a lesson:
Contact Tom Murray: 626 644 3008 or
Quality Riding Arena Bases & Surfaces
• 216’ x 80’ arena
• Equiloft footing
• 12’ x 14’ stalls
hot water wash racks
• 1st class dressage training
• Daily turnout
• Quality horse care
Active show schedule
• Private horse estate with pool
& tennis court
• 20 miles south of Portlan
Quality Riding Arena Bases & Surfaces
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28815 S. NEEDY RD. CANBY, OR 97013