Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 23, 2016 – As the 12-week long Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit hit the halfway mark with the conclusion of Week Six on Sunday, Sock Inc. finished with top results throughout the first six weeks of competition, kicking off a strong start to the season and the rest of the show year.
The Sock Inc. team did not waste any time during Week One grabbing tricolor ribbons in the Adult Amateur 18–35 Hunter division with Paige Wilson and Dicaprio and the Adult Amateur 50 & Older Hunter division with Jane Olson Fisher and So Lucky under the guidance of Sock Inc. owner and head trainer, Steve Heinecke.
Twenty-one-year-old Wilson is a junior at Auburn University studying chemistry and has owned Dicaprio since 2014. She travels back and forth from Auburn, Alabama, to Wellington, Florida, every few weeks to compete Dicaprio in the Adult Amateur 18–35 Hunter division at WEF.
“It was so exciting being champion in Week One,” said Wilson. “It had been since Kentucky that I’d shown. I’m in college so I don’t get a whole lot of time to show as often as I’d like. So I wasn’t really expecting much but we won two classes the first day! Moving forward, I’d like to get a couple more champions in the adults. That’d be great. I’d also like to move up to the 3’3″ Amateur-Owner division.”
Throughout the first half of WEF, Wilson has also started trying her luck in the jumper ring riding Lucie Oken’s Aaron 287 in the Adult Jumper division.
“The jumpers have been a lot of fun,” said Wilson. “This is the first time I’ve done the jumpers ever in my life. It’s been going really, really well. I’m just trying something new. I’m a perfectionist, so I still love the hunters and trying to make everything look perfect, but with the jumpers it’s fun to have that adrenaline rush and switch it up.”
In addition, Fisher, a long-time client of Heinecke’s, has three horses competing at WEF this season: Stoli, So Lucky and Swag.
“So Lucky — we were champion the first week in the adults,” said Fisher. “He was excellent. It was a great way to start the WEF season; it was really exciting!”
One of Fisher’s young horses, Swag, is proving to be a regular hack winner taking top honors with Heinecke winning the Pre-Green Hunter Under Saddle Week Four and Five, and taking second during Week One and Week Six.
Having been with Heinecke for almost 16 years, Fisher has grown fond of Heinecke’s teaching style and personality as a trainer. She is thrilled with his recent launch of his new business and is excited to be a part of the Sock Inc. team.
“I’m very attached to [Steve] and feel really safe with him as a student,” said Fisher. “I know he’s going to take top care of my horses. My two younger horses, So Lucky, who I’ve had since he was 4, and Swag — Steve really brings them along in a very authentic way. He doesn’t rush them. If they have a little set back, he just keeps going forward with them. Nothing is forced or manufactured.
“This is [Steve’s] passion and I can’t imagine him doing anything else,” continued Fisher. “He really can do it all. I’m really excited that he’s back in his own deal. I love him dearly and wish him the best of luck with it. He’s one of my favorite people in the whole world. Of course Olive and Charlie are so wonderful as well and Ken and Steve are like family to Bryan and I. We really know that his business can be top-of-the-line. His teaching is second to none. He’s an amazing teacher and so dedicated to the process of teaching. He loves it. Steve knows how to do everything very high quality and just right. I don’t doubt that he’ll be very successful.”
Meanwhile, Alise Oken of HiHopes Farm LLC, which Sock Inc. shares a barn with and strongly supports from the sidelines, also experienced a successful start to the WEF season, capturing the win in the $1,500 Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.30m aboard Cavalia and the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic 1.45m on Belmont as well as placing third in the $5,000 High Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.40m on Belmont during Week Three. Oken also went on to place second in the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic 1.45m class on Belmont during Week Six.
As the final six weeks of WEF 2016 commence on Wednesday, Feb. 24, Heinecke looks to achieve one goal for his clients, horses and himself: consistency.
“I’m trying to get Swag prepared for Jane to show in the adults, that’s our goal with him,” said Heinecke. “He’ll be great in the adults. He’s an amazing mover and has a really good head. He’s only 6 so I’m helping to build him up to be ready for Jane. He’s adorable with Jane. With Dicaprio — the same thing. Paige would like to bump up to the amateurs but then she won that first week so now she’s thinking she should stay in her division and keep winning!
“Everything’s been good,” continued Heinecke. “The horses are great. The clients are happy and showing a lot — as much as we can based on the weather. The first week was awesome! Two champions! That was great and in good company too! They were big classes. Paige and Jane rode great; the horses went well so we’re hoping to continue that in the next six weeks.”
Sock Inc. would also like to congratulate Ashley and Brody Netzky of Maria Rasmussen’s Sea Change Farm in Chicago on their lease of Sock Inc. client Sarah Laffoday’s pony, Wynnbrook’s Sandcastle, while at WEF!