byEsther Hahn| Oct 18, 2016
Photos by Shannon Brinkman
Chris Talley is only 22 years old, but the native Pennsylvanian, who is currently based in Virginia, has already accomplished so much. Riding since the age of 4 and eventing by the age of 10, he bought his second horse, a rescue from the kill pen at the New Holland Sales, at the age of 12.
Talley and his parents didn’t know it at the time, but the mare was pregnant. “It was a blessing in disguise, her surprise kid, Comanchee,” he said. “I started him, produced him up through to the intermediate level. He’s now retired from the upper levels but he’s still in my program with one of my students now.”
These days, Talley is developing an exciting group of young horses, that are a mix of Warmbloods and off-the-track, American Thoroughbreds, for upper-level eventing and for sales. Unmarked Bills is one of these rising talents. A seven-year-old, American-bred OTTB, he raced in California then raced on the East Coast before coming to Talley in January 2015, according to the rider and trainer.
“The trainer and owner at the track sent him to me originally to be sold,” Talley said. “I was riding him around as a sale horse, preparing him for competition and he progressed up the levels so quickly that I thought he would be a big-time horse. I was able to convince the owners to let him stick around and to not sell him.”
Talley and the talented Thoroughbred rode their first intermediate together in March, when they placed 3rd. Then, through the next few months, they qualified for Fair Hill International with results from three CIC events. At Fair Hill, the pair finished in overall 15th, and Unmarked Bill was awarded with the USEF National Young Horse reserve champion.
But even before Talley recorded the impressive result, he turned heads and caught eyes with his unconventional, stylish jog outfit.
“My outfit was definitely out of the box and not very traditional,” he said. “I’m eccentric and I like to have my own style. I like to be very unique and to show my personality. I always do different things for the jogs. I like to mix it up and do things that no one is expecting.”
He paired Asos leather pants with a Guess neoprene and patent leather jacket that also featured a hood. The biker boots were Aldo and the black patent leather tie was Alfani. He finished the look with his favorite pair of Raybans. And the black-on-black outfit complemented Unmarked Bills’ black boots and black bridle with subtle bling.
“I like to wear ties to keep the look classy, and ties complete the outfits,” Talley said. “And the chrome on my favorite pair of sunglasses tied everything in, with the zippers on the jacket and on the boots. It finished off the look.”