Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.
Tryon, NC USA – April 6, 2018 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous were uncatchable on the second day of dressage competition at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) and FEI World Equestrian Games™ Eventing Test Event (WEG), remaining in first place position and heading into the cross-country phase with 24.2 penalties. Second place was captured by Kimberly Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border on a score of 24.5, while Phillip Dutton (USA) and I’m Sew Ready held a tight grip on the third place position with a 26.4. The FEI CIC 3* competition continues April 7 on the White Oak Course, and concludes on April 8 with show jumping in the George H. Morris Arena.
Little reflected that her strategy for cross-country largely depends on how the 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) reacts in the warm-up.
“I got to see the course yesterday and there are so many fly fences. I’m sure plenty will make the time, and I’m just not sure this is the event to push her. I’m working on rideability and control and it would be easy for the horses to get going out there because [Captain Mark Phillips] is using so many portables. So, we’ll have to see how she warms up. I just rode her down there and back and she’s been pretty calm, so it’s nice to see that she’s changed a lot in a year. We’ll just see how she feels.”
Little has been recovering from a broken foot injury that occurred last November, but wasted no time getting back in the tack just two weeks post the start of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, where she went on to compete successfully throughout the course of the circuit. “Initially, when I injured it, they thought I had just broken a lot of bones,” Little explained. “It wasn’t until January that they found there was more damage to the soft tissue. At that point we were getting quite close, so I thought I would try to see if it would heal, and I decided to keep riding and heading in this direction.”
Kimberly Severson of Charlottesville, VA and the Cross Syndicate-owned 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding, Cooley Cross Border (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz), snuck into second place after putting in a solid day two dressage test. Severson commented, “He was very good today. I missed both of my flying changes – this has been quite a thing with him and me – but he’s a really good boy and does a good job, and he tries really hard. I am most happy with his rhythm and frame, but we still have little things to fix, like everybody.”
Severson, who has represented the United States at four FEI World Equestrian Games™, commented on the venue in regard to its purposes come September. “I think there’s a lot of room in there [George Morris Arena]. It’s obviously going to feel a little bit smaller with the seating full, but I actually went all the way to the outside and it feels a lot roomier than it has certainly in a number of other WEG locations.”
As she plans a strategy for her run on the cross-country course, Severson also has Kentucky in mind. Much of her goal will be focused on a smooth water ride. She joked, “You mean don’t fall off in the water?! No, I think he’s good. We did two little water schools in the past weeks. He’ll either be really good for it or worse for it, but I actually think he’ll do much better. That’s how I’m going to plan to ride it – the whole thing.”
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Bronze Medalist Phillip Dutton moved down one spot from second place standing, but will still enter the cross-country phase in the top three rankings, aboard I’m Sew Ready, the 2004 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lupicor x Jarda), owned by Kristine and John Norton.
“I was pleased with my tests, but like Kim said, there’s a lot to improve on,” said Dutton. “I haven’t run them a lot, so it is good to see where your training is at and what you’ve got to work on. The cross-country course I think is nice and not overly taxing, which I like at this time of year. The ground’s a bit firm, but I think they’re holding off watering because of the rain coming and I think that ultimately the footing’s going to be really good.”
Dutton is riding a total of three horses across the FEI CIC 3* track, and noted, “[I’m Sew Ready] wouldn’t be the easiest horse I’ve ever had to ride, but we’re just working on getting him reaching in his neck and not being tight in his back. You have to kind of be patient in the warm-up because he doesn’t give you the greatest feel in the beginning, and a lot of times in the past I’ve reacted to that and tried to fix him too quickly, so a long warm-up is good for him because over time he just loosens up anyway. He’s a very quiet horse, so that’s just kind of him. So, I was pleased with yesterday, and had him more forward than I’ve had him and we started to lose a little bit of power at the trot, but otherwise it was good.”
Like his cohorts, Dutton is here in preparation for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. “I feel that horses go better once they’ve been to an event at least once,” he said, “and you see this a lot at Championships where a brand new course causes a lot of trouble and rides much better the next year. So I think there’s definitely an advantage to being here, and that’s one of the reasons I sent my entry in!”
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