Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah E. Coleman
Lisa Dean Fine Art Photography
As happens to so many passionate equestrians, life forced Jeri Fuller-Matheny to take almost a decade off from the horses and the show ring. While she was unable to control the circumstances that caused her break from the ring, as soon as she was able, she returned to competition with a vengeance on self-made horses she has campaigned up the ranks. Now a USDF Bronze medalist and a “r” eventing TD, Jeri owns and operates Winy Ridge Farm, where she and husband Andy rehabilitate sport horses of all breeds in a family atmosphere.
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Jeri Fuller-Matheny: Central Ohio
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
JFM: I grew up riding Quarter Horses in western pleasure, halter, hunt seat equitation and the lower levels of dressage. I don't remember initially learning to ride. My youngest memories always involved horses. I don't believe one ever stops learning “how to ride.” It's one of the reasons I love this profession so much. Every horse, every rider brings new opportunities for growth and learning.
MSEDA: What is your background in horses?
JFM: My Dad was a former bareback bronc rider and my Mom was a leader with the local 4-H horse clubs who taught riding lessons at the family’s Johnstown, OH, farm. I moved to Shelby County, KY, while still in high school, when my Mom remarried.
I was absolutely astounded watching the 1984 Olympics on television. It was my first introduction into the world of three-day eventing and I was hooked! So, upon moving to Kentucky, we purchased my first OTTB, event horse to-be, Timshol. Less than a year later, the picnic table mysteriously went missing from the yard. I mean, I needed "something" to jump, right? So, mother decided perhaps some formal jumping lessons were in order. I began eventing in 1986, and have competed thru the international one-star level. Timshol was my first self-made, one-star horse. Since then, I have trained with many former and current Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalists and pass on my expertise to horses and students of all levels. Most recent years, I have trained with Linda Zang, Alex Domingez and Kim Herslow for dressage and Peter Atkins for jumping coaching.
MSEDA: At what level do you compete?
JFM: I have competed and trained at the FEI levels in both dressage and eventing on several self-made horses.
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
WM: My current main horses are Master Oliver, an OTTB, and the Hanoverian dressage mare Whimzical Princess.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
WM: Master Oliver LOVES Honey Nut Cheerios cereal and Whim will knock you over for a peppermint.
MSEDA: What are some of your accomplishments?
JFM: I earned my USDF Bronze Medal in 2013 with Whimzical. Princess who also holds the title of 2013, 2014, and 2016 USDF Region 2 Sport Horse Mare Champion.
Lisa Dean Fine Art Photography
MSEDA: How did you get your horses?
JFM: I am slowly merging into the world of dressage with Whim. One of 13 horses we currently have, I acquired Whim because she wasn't supposed to even be sound enough to be a broodmare. She was supposed to have been put down, as advised by more than just a vet or two.
At just 8 months old, she jumped a four-board fence, breaking her hip and pelvis. Her breeder/owner was professional golfer Donna Andrews from North Carolina, who insisted on giving her a chance. I LOVE a challenge and being an underdog myself, Whim and I are a match. She is now 16 years old. I was offered the ride on her as a green 9-year-old who spent most of her life turned out. Whim is currently schooling PSG with me and has never had an unsound step.
MSEDA: What is your favorite event?
JFM: It's hard to choose just one favorite event, as the eventing community is so supportive and encouraging of one another. I love them all, especially the fall events, where everyone seems more relaxed and the weather is perfect.
I can easily say my favorite dressage show is Dressage at Devon, a dream come true for me to have attended the last two years. There is something so nostalgic about stepping onto the show grounds at Devon. It's like stepping back in time and the management is fantastic.
MSEDA: What are your goals for the coming year?
JFM: Each year brings new aspirations and dreams. I have always been very goal oriented and 2018 is no exception. With enough support, Whim and I will go down centerline at PSG and earn our USDF silver medal scores. Master Oliver will continue teaching our youth to jump with confidence and may hit a few combined tests at Intermediate or dressage at 3rd. level. I have a handful of green event horses we are prepping to sell in the months to come.
MSEDA: What do you do full-time?
WM I own and operate Wind Ridge Farm, LLC in Campbellsburg, KY, located between Louisville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH.
MSEDA: What did you do before you bought your farm?
JFM: I hold a B.S. in Political Science with a minor in History. Prior to starting my family, I worked as a veterinary technician for several Kentucky-area equine veterinarians.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
WM: I, like many others, have a few select brands I LOVE and believe in. So much so, I have become a dealer, or try to help market them in one way or another. Puritan Premium Equine Bedding Crumbles, UVEX helmets and gloves, HALO Joint Supplement, Kentucky Horse Jumps, ProElite Equine Feeds, Devoucoux Harmony Dressage saddle-OH MY GOSH!!! The most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in and very important for those of us humans with joint problems.
Lisa Dean Fine Art Photography
MSEDA: What obstacles have you had to overcome with your horses?
JFM: There are several obstacles we all have overcome as riders and in our personal lives. My biggest was compounded in a matter of a few short years. I had just lost my mare, Euroaquillo to a brain aneurism. A mare labeled with being crazy and having a screw loose, I was able to take her out of an elevator bit and into a soft rubber dog bone, and from Novice eventing to Preliminary in just under a year, when no one else wanted to touch her.
My mare and my dreams were once again gone. A couple of years earlier, Timshol had suffered a career-ending injury at the AHSA Olympic Field Trials in Georgia. Then, in 2008, I moved my grandmother in with me to live out the remaining months of her life after a terminal cancer diagnosis. This, on top of having taken 7 years off from competing to care for my son, born right after the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 with a bone marrow disorder and being told he probably wouldn't make it to age 5.
I held my grandmother's hand while she passed into heaven that April and then held my husband's hand while he was diagnosed with terminal cancer that September. He passed a year and a half later in 2010 just before the World Equestrian Games (WEG). Volunteering at WEG rekindled those dusty dreams and reminded me I had two young people to live for and new goals waiting in the shadows.
The return to riding became my therapy. I had two children, a large farm and several young pasture ornaments to face every day.
I have since remarried to the one who brought laughter back into our hearts and who pushes me every day to remain focused. Andy is my cowboy husband turned dressage/eventing/equestrian supporter who has taken over showing Whim in hand. His long legs enable him to run her so much better than I could. If he could sport his black felt hat in the show ring, he'd be happy!
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
JFM: Our farm is a bit of a zoo, filled with several animals that otherwise would've likely died. Two orphaned calves, Gabe and Lilly Moo, both spent their first week of life being bottle fed in our kitchen. Gabe required braces, which Andy made, to correct contracted tendons. We have a couple of parrots, and of course the typical dogs, cats, and an orphaned fawn that took up residence on the farm and comes and goes as she pleases.
MSEDA: Do you hold any positions on local equine organizations?
JFM:I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Dressage Association, the Louisville Dressage Society and as the Region 2 USDF Group Member Organization Representative. In 2011, I became a licensed Eventing Technical Delegate with the USEF.
MSEDA: What else would MSEDA members be interested in knowing about you?
JFM: I am married to my favorite farrier, Andy, and together we have four children; Riley, Gretchen, Colbi and Grant. Together, Andy and I enjoy rehabilitating sporthorses of all breeds at Wind Ridge Farm LLC. I especially love the occasional post-op patient and helping to rehab sports injuries with our wonderful team of professionals who regularly provide massage, chiropractic, laser and acupuncture to aid in the healing process. We are a semi-private farm, a boutique-style barn, and work hard to provide specialized attention in a family atmosphere.
MSEDA: What advice would you give others?
JFM: If I had it all to over again, there isn't much I would change. Every challenge, decisions both good and bad, every setback and every person who tells you that you will never achieve your goals … it makes you who you are. We can choose to be happy in the most adverse conditions. It IS a choice. Some view themselves as a victim, others choose to be a victor. Don't EVER give up!