“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” 

Former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher uttered those words. American show jumper Jeffrey Fields is putting them into action with mount Sherlina Ale.

The 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare is owned by Sahana Ganesan but has been campaigned by Fields for the past two years, gaining valuable experience—and consistent results—at the 2* and 3* level. The pair has a 57% clear round average at 1.40m and 1.45m and a 50% average at 1.50m by Jumpr App stats.

As is often the case when developing a horse up the ranks, they’ve had breakthrough moments and set backs along the way.

“I had a little bit of a rocky Sunshine Tour here [in the fall] and I’ve just kind of been rebuilding over the last six weeks,” he shared. “[I’ve been working on] just confidence really. She’s quite careful.”

Fields’ plan coming into Desert Circuit was to move the mare slowly up the heights. They started Week IV in the 1.30m division and methodically moved up to 1.35m and 1.40 the following two weeks. After the off-week, they jumped in the national division, contesting Saturday’s national Grand Prix under the lights on Week VII.

“She was fantastic and I thought it was quite meaty for a National Grand Prix and she jumped it really well. I made a mistake in the triple combination and had one down, but she felt super confident there. So then the plan was to try to jog for [week IX] because it was on the grass and she loves the grass.

“So I stuck to my plan. [Thursday], it worked out well. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

By worked out well, Fields means they won. Sherlina Ale and the American show jumper topped a 30-horse field in the Morning Star Sporthorses CSI4* Normal Two Phase 1.40m on Thursday. Making their 4* debut, the pair stopped the clock at 38.4 seconds, just two tenths of a second ahead of Matt Archer and Zibaloubet Z.

“I really trust the mare and she’s got a lot of heart and I feel like a lot of scope,” shared Fields, crediting a bit change to a Scourier bit and finding the right studs for their calm, confident performance.

“She’s a pet. She’s like a little Labrador. She’s so sweet. She’s cuddly. She can be a little bit of a dragon at times, like at the jog. But [on Wednesday] she was just totally relaxed. It’s almost like she knew she was in FEI this weekend,” said Fields. “She’s just like this complete calm about her. Even warming up and flatting yesterday, she felt like she’s in the zone and when she feels like that, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do on her.”