By Catie Staszak
O'Neill Show Jumping and Nicole DiCorti Bush have formed a successful sales relationship in Northern California.
On a Tuesday morning in Santa Cruz, CA, you can find Nicole DiCorti Bush getting in some extra training at O'Neill Show Jumping.
DiCorti Bush recently purchased the 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Chelly Raa (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve—Chellana Z) from Sweden with the help of O'Neill Show Jumping's head trainer, Mariano Maggi, the culmination of a partnership that's been flourishing over the course of the past two years.
Since 2018, DiCorti Bush, who operates her own DiCorti Bush Equestrian out of Gilroy, CA, has purchased seven horses from O'Neill Show Jumping, home to international show jumpers Maggi (SWE) and Uma O'Neill (NZL). Specializing in developing young high performance prospects and importing hand-selected sales horses for the U.S. market, O'Neill Show Jumping has become a frequent destination for DiCorti Bush when scouting horses for both herself and her clients.
"I've had a few horses come from them," DiCorti Bush said, "and I have two in my barn now that I have for clients. Mariano has always been very supportive and happy to have [my clients] come over [with the horses] and work with them [after they leave his care]. He tries to watch, and he tries to be around and participate in a way that’s always really helpful."
A first impactful deal set the tone for the relationship, when DiCorti Bush purchased the Swedish Warmblood mare Fia Lotta (Hip Hop—Feherina), a Maggi homebred, for client Laryssa Wagenaar in late 2018. When Maggi offered to be a continued source of support for the new partnership, DiCorti Bush took him up on his offer. The results spoke for themselves, with Wagenaar and Fia Lotta finding success in the junior/amateur-owner jumper divisions on the west coast.
"I had a very good feeling with Nicole with the way she handled that first deal, what she was looking for when she tried the horse, and how she spoke to her clients," Maggi said. "I told her, 'If you have any problems with training and want me to ride [the horse] and help [your client], don’t hesitate to contact me. This is something I always did in Europe. When I sell a horse that I know myself, that I bred at my place, I want them to have every chance to succeed." With great trust in play on both sides, the O'Neill Show Jumping horses Divino, Conrad AF Herred, Swing, Lukas, Donna Karen and Chelly Raa have all found new partnerships through DiCorti Bush Equestrian. Divino (Diarado—Feherina), a half-brother to Fia Lotta, has proven his versatility in multiple rings with a junior rider, while Conrad AF Herred (Camaro M—Tortilla), a former ride of Maggi's daughter, is teaching another DiCorti Bush client the ropes in the jumper ring. Lukas (Lasirico—Quincy Girl), an investment horse for DiCorti Bush, was resold after just one horse show. "I’ve been [in the U.S.] now over two years watching American riders ride in the lower classes," Maggi said. "I try to find horses [in Europe] that are really forward in the way they take the course, brave and easy to ride. I’m lucky that I have enough people in Germany and Sweden that know exactly what I’m looking for and filter the horses to me. Nothing is 100% secure, but it gives us a high [probability] to succeed here."
Fia Lotta was the first horse DiCorti Bush acquired from O'Neill Show Jumping, securing the Swedish Warmblood mare for client Laryssa Wagenaar. Photo Courtesy Nicole DiCorti Bush.
DiCorti Bush hopes the newest acquisition, Chelly Raa can take her to the 1.45m or even 1.50m level, goals she's temporarily had to defer while focusing on growing her own business. She's continuing her new mount's development with Maggi's guidance, as her relationship with O'Neill Show Jumping continues to evolve.
"Mariano and Uma are so professional," DiCorti Bush said. "They work their butts off, and it shows in how organized they are, how fit the horses are, and how well their horses go. They are so detail-oriented, yet there is still a relaxed environment in the barn, and the horses are relaxed because of that."
O'Neill and Maggi look forward to the future, as they prepare for a return to competition in Northern California following the suspension of horse shows due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Both riders are bringing up some exciting 6-year-olds for O'Neill Show Jumping as well as continuing forward with their seasoned veterans, as O'Neill makes her bid for New Zealand's team at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. The continued growth of their sales business is also a focus, with a couple European imports arriving in Santa Cruz each month. The future looks bright with DiCorti Bush's involvement.
"We can do a lot of things together, and I look forward to it," Maggi said. "[Nicole] is very easy to work with, and everything has come naturally. With a little bit of help, I think she can go very far. Our relationship has the basis to be something really good."
About O'Neill Jumping
A family-run operation based out of Santa Cruz, CA, O'Neill Show Jumping has achieved success on the global stage. Home to Swedish stalwart Mariano Maggi and New Zealand's Uma O'Neill, winner of the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, O'Neill Show Jumping has committed itself to developing equine athletes for the top levels of the sport—from the ground, up. With a select group of talented sales horses, from high quality prospects to proven performers, contact O'Neill Show Jumping for your next show ring star.