The second round of competitors at the 2016 Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championship presented by Land Rover (AEC) rode down the centerline today at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Five divisions danced on one end of the venue, while seven other divisions began their cross-country courses on the other side of the venue.
Merial Open Intermediate
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, Phoebe Manders and Michael Manders, returned to competition in fine form this afternoon at TIEC taking a commanding lead in the competitive Merial Open Intermediate division on a score of 22.3. The pair, who won an individual and team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015, found their stride in the dressage phase of competition today, besting Clayton Fredericks, who holds second and third place aboard FE Money Made, a 7-year-old Westphalian gelding by Conteur, and FE Bowman (Balloon x Zuchtbuch Con Corde), an 8-year-old Wurttemburg gelding, with a 27.0 and 28.2 respectively.
Little and Scandalous put together a fabulous test that was relaxed and smooth, earning them nearly a five point lead ahead of a competitive class, which featured 54 entries. The pair have quickly become one of the top combinations in the United States and their test today proved that they’re back on their game after a few months off this winter.
“It’s a pleasure to ride Scandalous in any major dressage test. She’s a real dancer and she was beautifully focused and smooth today. This is only her second weekend back competing in eventing since early June. She had a bit of a break of Boekelo last year,” said Little. “She’s been back in work since March and we had the privilege of competing at the July jumper shows early this summer.”
TIEC is a familiar place for Little, who is only one of two riders competing this week who have also contested FEI CSI show jumping competition at the venue. Little has contested both the “Saturday Night Lights” Grand Prix classes, earning top finishes in the show jumping discipline as well.
“There are only a few places in the world that could host an event like this. Hopefully in the future we will see something like this in Wellington where eventing will take more of a hold. It’s very exciting for horse sport in general. It’s not just about promoting one discipline. You really have to promote horses together. This is a place that does that and it’s an asset for our country and for the sport around the world.”
Looking forward to tomorrow’s competition, Little feels that RF Scandalous has a the skill to contest the difficult track, but also feels as though cross-country will shake around the standings quite a bit.
“We’ve brought her back slowly with her return to competition, but that was only because of the time of the year. We worked on her show jumping and got her a bit more confirmed since she has only been in this sport for two years,” she commented. “I think the course suits her quite well. She’s very handy to ride, but she’s very smart and looks for the flags, which I think will be important, especially at the beginning of the course.”
The Merial Open Intermediate division will head out on the cross-country track at 2:20 p.m.
Broadstone Master Beginner Novice Amateur
Letha Calvin and her own Look Cody Look (Code Word R x Look N Good Darling), a 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, rose to the top of the class in the Broadstone Master Beginner Novice Amateur division with a score of 27.5. The division, which featured 40 entries, will head out on the galloping track tomorrow, and Calvin, looking forward to contesting the course
“I rode two horses today and I felt that I lost both of their right shoulders at the beginning of the year, but in the last month I found them again,” she smiled. “It felt pretty good to have two solid tests today. I’m super proud of both of them.”
Piloting her second mount Quigley O’Higgins to a tenth place finish in the dressage phase, Calvin was thrilled to be back atop the leaderboard, as she won the division in 2010 and returned to AEC this year to prove to herself that she could repeat her past victory.
“I wanted to convince myself that I wasn’t a one-time-wonder. I wanted to prove to myself that I knew how to ride and that I could come back and do well again. The person that I most like to compete with is myself,” she explained. “I want everyone to do well, but I always think about what I can do better than the last time I was in the ring.”
Calvin and Look Cody Look will leave the start tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. and will look to maintain their lead heading into the final phase of show jumping on Saturday. Tracey Tapman and her own Just Dew It earned a 27.8 to finish just behind Calvin, while William Barclay and his own Stormn Hudson KD (Blitz und Donner x Stormn Doreen KD), a 7-year-old Trakehner gelding, received a 28.3 for third.
Broadstone Beginner Novice Amateur
When Eleanor Lawson’s 4- and 6-year-old daughters started to ride ponies at her parents' farm, Lawson’s 20-year break from horses officially ended. “The smell brought me back,” explained Lawson who rode her own Matapeake to the top of the Broadstone Beginner Novice Amateur division on a score of 25.5.
“I rode when I was younger, and I have only been back for a year and a half,” said Lawson. “In that time I have broken my arm and my hand, so just getting [to the AEC] was the goal.”
The 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding previously evented through the three-star level with Sarah Dunkerton before Lawson purchased him in 2015. “The test went really well” said Lawson. We have been working very hard for this and I was finally able to put it all together and it just worked out great.”
Shea Foley and Erin Bottner’s Captain My Captain, a 14-year-old Stock horse, rode to second on an even 27 and Invictus, a 6-year-old Holsteiner (Ibisco x Viness SH) owned and ridden by Krissy Smith Shellenberger earned a 27.5 for third.
When Sarah Fischetto headed into the ring aboard her unusually spooky mare Sin Fallo (Favio x Sellin) she wasn’t sure what kind of ride she was about to have. “I came in the ring and she was jumping around. I thought, ‘oh I’m done for,” so I went in expecting the worst.” The 9-year-old Lipizzaner had other plans, putting on her game face in front of the judge to earn a 24.3 for the lead of the Novice Amateur division.
Fischetto is celebrating their accomplishments so far, but she knows the show is far from over. “Dressage is definitely our strongest [phase] with stadium a close second. She’s not as bold as some of the Thoroughbreds would be, so cross-country is our challenge phase,” she explained. “Tomorrow I’m going to go out there, take a deep breath and ride aggressive to make she stays focused and get it done.”
Alison Wilaby and her own Mr. Mile High follow behind in second place. The 8-year-old Thoroughbred scored a 26.3 on the flat. Finally in third place is Cecelia Bette and Mystery K, an 8 -year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by the rider. This division will head out on the cross-country course between 11:10 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.
Master Novice Amateur
Anne Wilson didn’t let the severe thunderstorms that came rolling through Tryon today dampen her dressage test with Call Me Waylon, the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassado. Although they ended up soaked afterwards, the pair earned a score of 24.8 for first in the large Master Novice Amateur division.
“Luckily I got to go a little early as I saw that lightening in the distance,” said Wilson. “I put my coat on and told my trainer ready or not I think it will be better now than if I wait. He was a very good boy, so I was excited about my ride.”
Wilson and Waylon have been working on polishing their dressage so have been putting in extra time in the sandbox. “I came up here in June for the dressage show, and we did some first level classes which he won, so I was excited about that,” continued Wilson. “Because at my level you kind of have to set the stage there. Obviously cross-country is going to be formidable tomorrow, but you can’t do any better than your dressage score.”
Robin Bickel and her 17-year-old Saddlebred, Rocky, aren’t too far behind Wilson on a 26.0 and Alston Kerr with her own 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Sir Earl Grey are in third on a 28.0.
About the AEC
The Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, this event draws together the best competitors from across the country vying for national titles from the Beginner Novice through the Advanced level. This year's AEC is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C. August 31-September 4, 2016.
The 2016 Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Nutrena, Land Rover, Adequan, Merial, Broadstone Equine Insurance Company, Professional's Choice, Devoucoux,Merck Animal Health, Standlee Hay, Charles Owen, Fleeceworks, CWD, The Chronicle of the Horse, Noble Outfitters, Auburn Laboratories Inc., Smartpak, Stackhouse Saddles, Point Two, VTO Saddlery, FLAIR, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equine Art by Julie, Ride Safe, The Jockey Club, Ovation, Eventing Training Online, Kastel Denmark, Happy Saddle Treats, I Love My Horse, GumBits, Horse Hydrator, Phoenix Bodyworks, C4 Belts, The Scoring Chix, and more.
*Many of these sponsors are in attendance at the AEC with vendor spaces in the USEA Sponsor Village, located directly next to the George Morris Arena at TIEC. Get ready to shop!