Allison Springer and Arthur. Photos ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.
Mill Spring, NC – September 2, 2016 – The 2016 Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC) continued at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), as the first of many championships honors were awarded in the George H. Morris Arena following the final phase of show jumping for seven different divisions.
Adequan® Gold Cup Advanced Finals
Allison Springer and longtime mount Arthur, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Windstar x Kelly) owned by Arthur Syndicate LLC, rose to the occasion once again in their admitted strongest phase of dressage, as the pair earned a 25.3 to hold a slight lead over Ryan Wood and Powell, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Pablito x Dinara) owned by Summit Sport Horses, who received a 25.4. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter, a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare (Rubin-Royal x Patricia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Raylyn Farms, and Patrick Witte, are currently in third with a score of 28.0.
The division, which is an annual highlight of the Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships each year, features some of the best riders in the country including experienced CCI 4* riders and Olympians. Springer is no stranger to holding a lead heading into the second day of competition as Arthur, who is notoriously spooky in the two remaining phases, excels in dressage. The pair consistently scores below average on the flat at the Advanced level and will continue their success on cross-country Saturday.
“He was super today. I had not my usual prep for him because he was first out at 8 a.m. He hasn’t been anywhere since Kentucky this spring. I got injured and his first cross-country school was last week since then,” explained Springer. “The last couple of weeks I’ve been working with Karen O’Connor and I feel good and he feels good. He just was so happy to be at a show and doing something again.”
“I was a bit late getting to the warm-up, but he was focused and ready to do his job. When Arthur is good, he’s so good. It was just a fluid nice test,” she added.
The pair, who has been together for the entirety of Arthur’s career, has experienced both ups and downs in their performances together, but Springer is hopeful that the duo will be able to lay down a solid round Saturday around a difficult track, that could be an interesting test for Arthur.
“He is very very spooky. He’s not spooky at the jumps, but everything around them. When he’s like that he gets very tense in his back and jump a little low and tight. I think I’ve had to learn a lot about how to ride and train more like a show jumper,” she commented. “Certainly this type of event with a lot to look at on course makes it difficult to make up time and we’ll just see. He’s a good horse and he knows his job.”
Ryan Wood and Powell found themselves hot on the heels of the veteran pair, sitting just a tenth of a point behind the leaders, a subtle contrast to the levels of experience, as this duo is just finding their feet at the Advanced and FEI CCI 3* level, compared to Springer and Arthur who have been together for more than ten years.
“He felt fantastic. I thought I smoked the test today,” he laughed. “We’ve been working a lot on the flying changes. I had four horses in the Advanced division and we hit all of our changes. It’s usually a 50/50 change of getting them and we’re starting to get the hang of it.”
Marilyn Little continued her domination at the AECs, as she leads the Merial Open Intermediate division aboard RF Scandalous and holds second aboard RF Overdressed. She also guided her veteran Advanced mount, RF Demeter, to a current third place position in the Adequan® Gold Cup Advanced Finals.
“She held it together quite well. There was no familiarization so she perked up again heading into the ring,” said Little. “I thought she let me position her really well for the lateral work and the rideabilty will sometimes go there. That and the tension are typically the first things that creep up on her, but we didn’t see that today.”
Broadstone Masters Beginner Novice
Letha Calvin and Look Cody Look, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Code Word R x Look N Good Darling), maintained their lead in the Broadstone Masters Beginner Novice division adding nothing to their original score of 27.5 heading into show jumping Saturday. Calvin and Look Cody Look made easy work of the course, while William Barclay and Stormn Hudson KD, a 7-year-old Trakehner gelding (Blitz und Donner x Stormn Doreen KD), moved into second place with a 28.3, while Erin Wiel and Boomtown II, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred, sit in third place with a score of 28.8.
“I was very pleased because we had a double clear ride on both horses in the division. They both looked at a lot of things out there and if I hadn’t ridden with my pants on fire today, they both would have had stops,” she laughed. “I thought it would be challenging and it was even a little bit more challenging than I thought it would be.
“I was concerned about the purple jump after the water and it rode a lot better than I thought it was going to ride. What I’ve figured out over the years is that I like to overthink things and I have learned that whether I’m first or last or anywhere in between the goal in each of the jumping phases is a clear round,” she added.
Merial Open Intermediate
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, a 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, Phoebe Manders and Michael Manders, maintained their lead in the Merial Open Intermediate division after finishing one of the quickest rounds of the day, crossing through the finish line just .4 seconds over the optimum time to hold first place leading into the final day of division competition with a 22.7. Doug Payne piloted his own Lysander, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred/Holsteiner (Lordship x Just for Terry), to hold second place after adding .8 time faults to their dressage score for a total of 29.7. Little guided her second mount in the division, RF Overdressed, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Countdown x Delia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Raylyn Farms, to third place, finishing as one of only of two combinations to complete the track inside of the optimum time.
With two horses sitting within the top three of the largest division of the week, as well as RF Demeter placed in the top three of the Adequan® Gold Cup Advanced Finals, Little has set herself up to have a banner week. Speaking of both horses on course, she commented, “I tried to come out of the box really strong. I’m not sure it’s possible to leave the first field up on your minutes, but I tried as hard as I could to get there. I tried to start the way I wanted to finish.
“They were both very focused and I felt like Overdressed went beautifully. He’s really coming into his own. He handled everything very well and it is always a great feeling when they show you they’re ready for more,” she added, commenting on her trip around the track with RF Overdressed.
RF Scandalous, who still has a tight hold on the lead, felt great on course, as the outing served as one of her first in a few months after returning from an injury last year. Little noted, “I was glad that there were quite a few turns at the beginning because she was amped at the beginning. The turns helped to keep her thinking and aware.”
Professional’s Choice Training Amateur
Kristen Paysinger and her own, 8-year-old Oldenburg mare Luistana (Linton x Espersica) have been a force in the Professional’s Choice Training Amateur division as the duo finished the week on their original dressage score of 25.0, completing a fantastic competition in all three phases. Patricia Hidalgo and Sapphire Storm, a 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Orchard Park x Sailor’s Gold) finished in second place with a score of 26.4, while Natasha Erschen and 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse Emerald Lion (Keltic Lion x Unknown) collected third place honors with a score of 26.8.
“I thought my horse was amazing. I thought the atmosphere was really going to through her off and she was just on it,” said Paysinger. “There was a lot of pressure and I’m really proud of her. She didn’t want to go into the combination at 4ab, but listened to me really well.
“This week I’ve learned to really keep my focus and not let all of the hustle and bustle of the venue get to you. You have to stay focused with just you and your horse and that really helped a lot and was something new for me,” said Hidalgo.
Second and third place were only separated by four tenths of a point, capping an exciting competition for the riders in the division. Erschen commented that she was particularly pleased with her mare’s ability to finish on their dressage score.
“I was proud to finish on her dressage score. This is her first year at Training, and for her to come here and jump as well as she did, as well as put in a solid round in each phase, I was just really happy,” she concluded.
Sarah Fishetto and Sin Fallo kept a hold on their lead after the cross-country portion of the Novice Amateur division on their strong starting score of 24.3. The duo, who have had some difficulty with the phase in the past, felt they gained an immense amount of confidence after their completion of the track. Alison Wilably and her own Mr. Mile High are currently seated in second place with a 26.3, while Cecelia Bette piloted her own Mystery K hold third place with a score of 27.5.
“We came out and she was super bold and ready to go. We’ve had some issues in the past so we decided to roll out with a little bit of a bolder take on the course,” she explained. “The footing held up really well and it all fell into place.
“A lot of our practice has been keeping her from rushing. She’s a horse that really fakes the confidence. She will rush at things and then stop or run out because she gets nervous. We’ve been working on keeping her up and the backend going,” noted Fischetto.
The Novice Horse division rounded out the final day of competition for the 35 riders entered in the competitive class, which was championed by Ashley Phillips and her own Bayani Slade with a final score of 25.3, to complete the week on her original dressage score. Dominic Schramm and Cooley Renaissance Man, owned by Stormy Craine, rode to second place, with a tied score of 25.3, but Phillip’s cross-country round was closer to the optimum time, which ultimately gave her the win. Martha Lambert and her own Sutton finished the week in third place with a score of 26.8.
“He came out and he was very jazzed so I knew the atmosphere in here would get to him. He was a little bit fresh to begin with but really started to focus on me after fence three so I was proud of him,” said Phillips. “We’ve had issues with him not being able to focus at competitions and this week he was really in the zone, which was really great.”
Schramm, who finished a successful week with Cooley Renaissance Man, was pleased with the progress and maturity the gelding showed throughout the competition and feels that he has finally solidified himself in each of the three phases.
“He doesn’t really pay much attention to the smaller jumps so the biggest thing is managing him and trying to keep his focus. We want to keep him fresh and towards the end he started to tap the rails, which was making me a bit nervous. He’s such a good horse and really knows and understands his job now.”
Broadstone Beginner Novice Horse
Doug Payne and Mr. Mitchel, a 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, rode to victory with a 28.3 in the Broadstone Beginner Novice Horse division, as the pair surpassed Rumsey Keefe and her own Eightofasttocatch, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, who finished on their dressage score of 30.5, as well as Lauren Chumley and Nikolas, a 5-year-old Sport Pony Nikolas (Novalis T x Capina Mia), owned by Melissa Dowling, who completed the weekend on a 31.3.
Payne and Mr. Mitchel have just started their eventing career together, as the gelding was imported in late fall and began in full training with Payne in early January. The atmosphere of TIEC has been a major talking point for the riders, as they feel it helps horses of all ages and levels gain valuable experience.
“I think this particular facility has a distinct advantage over any of the AECs I’ve been to, in that it’s such a big atmosphere and both of these horses will continue on to do big things. I think that placing them in a bigger environment will only serve them better in the future,” said Payne, who also sits towards the top of the leaderboard in the Merial Open Intermediate division and will pilot Vandiver around the Adequan® Gold Cup Advanced Finals cross-country track Saturday afternoon. “I think the cross-country course was an asset. I think having a tighter and more energetic environment really prepares them for the bigger things ahead overseas if they are able to get that far. If you can introduce young horses to that, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal down the line.”
Keefe and Eightofasttocatch rose up the leaderboard to ultimately finish second in the final division of the day at TIEC. Keefe is a major supporter of the Thoroughbred breed and was proud to display the breed’s best qualities this week.
“He’s been doing this for about a year after finishing on the track. He’s actually much better in this type of environment. He loves this atmosphere. He can be a little bit hot, but he can also be quiet sometimes so it’s about keeping a rhythm with him,” said Keefe, describing her ride and Eightofasttocatch, who earned more than $1,000,000 during his time on the racetrack. “He loves the galloping and running on cross-country and I really felt like he ate it up yesterday.”
Chumley, an established dressage rider who was bit by the eventing bug as a cross-training tool for her horses, finished in third place after leading the division aboard Nikolas, as the pair dropped a single rail in stadium and placed them in fourth.
“He’s a green horse and this is only his fourth or fifth horse trial. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing in the stadium out there, but he was really focused for this big of an atmosphere. For being five and at his first AEC, I’m really proud. I’m excited to see what he can do in the future,” commented Chumley.
To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), please visit www.tryon.com.
About the AEC
The Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Land Rover 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, NC from Wednesday, August 31 through Sunday, September 4.
Leslie Mintz & Shelby Allen for USEA/Carly Weilminster for TIEC