March 23, 2022

5 weeks at Sunshine Tour with 30 horses: Sun, sweat and a lot of success!

Kendra Claricia Brinkop and Michael Hughes are back from Sunshine Tour Montenmedio. They’re looking sun kissed, a little tired, but very happy. And rightly so! During their time in Spain they both experienced loads of success. Both riders brought around 15 horses with them, including at least seven young horses. Even though they had their hands full, achieving over 100 placings combined made it all worth it and gave both teams a lot to be proud of.

Kendra and Michael gave us a little look inside their past five weeks, telling us about their scheduling, horses and personal learning experiences.


Before leaving, how did you decide which horses to take with you?

Kendra: As we’ve already been to the Sunshine Tour the past couple of years, we know that it is a perfect environment to develop the young horses for the upcoming season. And as they have loads of 4* and ranking classes for the older ones, we ended up bringing all of our horses, and staying a bit longer.

Michael: At Sunshine Tour there are so many classes for horses of all levels. You can pretty much bring the entire stable with you. And that’s what we did. There is something for everyone, so scheduling the horses in was quite straightforward.

Which horse was the MVP (most valuable player) during your time at Sunshine Tour?

K: All of my young horses performed perfectly throughout the weeks. I must give a shoutout to I’m Fancy VDM, who placed 3rd in the 7YO Final. Not that her success surprised me, but it just showed her quality. I was also very happy with Malissa de Muze who stepped up in the Grand Prix. She will be my main horse this season, and she proved her determination over the weeks.

M: For sure Kashmir van d’Oude Pastory. For three weeks straight he was placed every week in the 4* Grand Prix, and he only had one pole down in 10 rounds.

Which horse did you see the most improvement in?

K: Definitely all of the young ones. I have the 6 year old’s, the 7 year old’s and even the 8- year old’s stepping up in the 145cm classes. The young ones are stepping up the most, learning the most and overall improving the most.  As there were so many different arenas, and each week showing in a new one. It gave them an opportunity to consistently experience something new.

M: For sure my 8 year old Loui LN. He jumped his two first 145cm rounds clear. Two months ago he was at 130cm level, so now to be at 145cm level is definitely very impressive. 

What did you learn during your trip?

K: Never give up (*Laughs)*. No, I learned how to plan well over the weeks. For such a lengthy show, with so many horses you have to schedule.  Especially if you want to show the good horses in the big classes, they need a proper schedule so that you do not over-jump them. All in all, really planning how many classes one horse is showing, when it’s showing etcetera. That’s really the main key of staying up in the rankings.

M: I learned a lot about the level of my horses. Being at Sunshine Tour with all of my horses, showing them for 5 weeks straight gave me a clear understanding of what each horse is capable of – and how to plan the upcoming season taking their current progress into consideration.

How did you spend your free time at Sunshine Tour?

K: Free time? That was an unfamiliar concept at Sunshine Tour *Laughs*. Monday was the so called “day off”, as on Tuesday the young horses started already. But on the Monday we usually prepared the young ones for the week. And once the young horses were done, we kicked it off with the older ones. So there were no days off. Which wasn’t bad! Considering the weather here in Belgium, just being in Spain was very enjoyable.

M: *Laughs* well…. Kendra and I did go to Gibraltar to see the monkeys! There was not much time for anything else but that’s what we managed to do!

Welcome home Team Kendra and Team Michael! We are looking forward to following your successes in the upcoming 2022 season ahead.

Photo By: Ahmed Al Maawali

5 weeks at Sunshine Tour with 30 horses: Sun, sweat and a lot of success! Stephex stables

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