Liza Dennehy and Now You Know, Amateur Owner Hunter 3’3″ Champions at the Colorado Horse Park’s Summer in the Rockies II.
Parker, CO – June 16, 2013 – Liza Dennehy demonstrated that life-threatening medical conditions and a resulting hiatus from riding could not stop her from shining in the show ring as Summer in the Rockies II came to a close at the Colorado Horse Park. Dennehy rode Now You Know to the 3’3″ Amateur Owner Hunter championship and also piloted Sir Topham Hat to a win, a second and a third in the 3’6″ A/O division.
Dennehy, who suffered cardiac arrest while schooling Sir Topham Hat at the Capital Challenge in September 2012 and also incurred a head injury as she fell from the horse, fought back after doctors gave her a one percent chance of survival. She used the same fighting spirit to get back in the saddle and continue doing what she loves most: riding, competing, and being around horses.
“It changes your life when you have sliding glass doors like that – what would my son’s life have been like if I hadn’t been around anymore?” she reflected. “He’s six years old. I’m just really thankful I’m still here. I’m thankful to everyone I had on my side that day. I would have missed this, if I weren’t still here. I would have missed this, for sure.”
Dennehy was happy to be back in the show ring at the Colorado Horse Park, a venue that is particularly special to her because of the involvement of her father, Wilson Dennehy, in the Horse Park’s earliest years. “My father was one of the original partners in starting this place and these horse shows,” she said. “We were involved from the very beginning.”
Dennehy, who is an “R” judge and a licensed course designer, appreciated the questions asked by Sunday’s Amateur Owner Hunter courses. “I thought the hardest thing was the single oxer on the outside because of the placement of the vertical with the barns,” she said. “If you went around it, you kind of went beyond the oxer, so I wanted to turn inside. That was easy in the first class, but much harder in the second class after the in-and-out, because it was a very quick turn.”
She said she was very happy with her horses, who are both owned by The Cottonwoods Ltd. “They were good today,” she said, noting that she was especially pleased with her final round on Sir Topham Hat after miscommunications resulted in a fall the week before. “I was a little nervous, but I think we were all back together by that last class. I was very happy with the one I won. We’re back on the same track.”
“I call Sir Topham Hat my magic carpet, because that’s usually what he’s like to ride,” Dennehy added. “He’s very easy to ride and he’s got a lot of scope.”
She rarely rides big horses since her two brothers, professional trainers Michael and Charlie Dennehy, usually end up with the rides on them. The 17.2-hand Sir Topham Hat is the exception to the rule.
“I love him just because he’s big,” she laughed. “It’s like driving a big car. There’s something safe about it. It’s a little more luxury. You gain in stride, you gain in scope, you gain in view!”
Dennehy also enjoys the ride on the more diminutive Now You Know. “She’s a fancy horse,” she said. “I’ve been showing her since she was a Pre-Green horse. Here in the state, I believe she was Pre-Green Champion, First-Year Champion, maybe Second-Year Reserve that year.”
Like Dennehy, Now You Know had to take some time off for medical reasons. She injured a leg by kicking at a fly, forcing a yearlong hiatus. “She was hurt last year, so this is her first year back,” Dennehy explained. “It’s a pretty good start! I’m very happy.”
Dennehy and Now You Know scored two wins under saddle and over fences in the 3’3″ Amateur Owner Hunters after picking up a second place over the first course of the day. Their standout performance earned them the championship over Madeleine Stover and Concierge, who took the reserve.
Dennehy also made a run with Sir Topham Hat to challenge the leaders in the 3’6″ division but couldn’t quite crack the top two spots overall. Nicole Lyvere and Promo came into Sunday with a first and a second in the 3’6″ Amateur Owner Hunter classes, and they notched a win, a second and a fourth in the remaining classes to secure the championship. Despite not feeling well herself, Lyvere summoned her energy to encourage her horse through solid performances.
“He’s lazy so the second day is always hardest,” she said. “I had to work really hard to make sure he kept going. He didn’t want to jog either! I had to rejog in the first round.”
Lyvere plans to do the 3′ hunter derbies as well as some A/O or Open divisions during the summer shows, though she hasn’t finalized her plans. “We’ll see how much energy he has,” she said.
Susan Winston and Quite Nice also collected top ribbons in the 3’6″ division, striving to challenge Lyvere for the championship but eventually settling for the reserve. They won the first over fences class and were second in the other. Winston, who purchased Quite Nice four years ago, competed with him in Junior Hunters for two years and then moved to the Amateur Owner Hunters last year.
“He’s really adjustable, which is nice, and he jumps pretty well from anywhere,” Winston said. “You can get him right to the base and he’ll still snap his knees up. He’s pretty clever.”
“The courses were a lot of fun,” she added. “The lines were right on.”
Caitlin Burns rode On the Money to the top prize in the $1,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic on a combined score of 157.5. Madeleine Stover and Concierge finished just a notch behind them with 156. Burns purchased On the Money this winter, and the pair looks to be at the beginning of a promising partnership. Burns said she is learning more about the mare every time they compete.
“She’s a newer horse for me, so I’m just trying to figure out how to ride each course each time to get the best out of the both of us,” she said. “Each time you’re learning, making mistakes, fixing mistakes and trying to better each other.”
When asked what she is finding out about On the Money, Burns replied, “That she’s so fun!”
“She tries really hard and wants to be good,” Burns continued. “It’s just figuring out how to get that out of her consistently.”
Burns also competes in the Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers with her other horse, and she said she enjoys the challenges inherent to both disciplines. “They’re both equally challenging, rewarding, frustrating – all of it,” she said. “It’s fun to do both. You get different ends of the spectrum.”
She lives in Longmont, CO, about an hour away from the Horse Park. “It’s a really nice place to have in your backyard, for sure,” she said. “I love the new footing – my horses seem to really like it. All the improvements are great.”
Dennehy, who grew up in Colorado, also emphasized the importance of the Horse Park to equestrians in the region. “It’s like a dream come true to have these horse shows in Colorado,” she said. “We always knew we had some of the best summer weather. We only had three A-rated horse shows here when I was a kid. We had to actually relocate to base out of the Midwest – where my dad’s originally from, in Chicago – to qualify. It could not be done by staying home. So having these shows is truly a dream come true for anyone in Colorado who shows horses.”
Sunday marked the end of Summer in the Rockies II. The Colorado Horse Park will next host Summer in the Rockies III, which begins on Wednesday, June 19, and runs through Sunday, June 23. Highlights include a $15,000 Welcome Stake, a $30,000 Grand Prix, a $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, and a $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby alongside a full array of hunter/jumper competition.
The Colorado Horse Park Summer in the Rockies Fast Facts
What: Summer in the Rockies AA-Rated Hunter Jumper Show Series
Summer in the Rockies I June 5-9, 2013
Summer in the Rockies II June 12-16, 2013
Summer in the Rockies III June 19-23, 2013
Summer in the Rockies IV July 3-7, 2013
Summer in the Rockies V July 10-14, 2013
Summer in the Rockies VI July 17-21, 2013
Click here for an online version of the prize list. For a hard copy of the prize list, please e-mail email@example.com with your name, address and phone number and specify which prize list you would like (spring/fall or summer).
Mail to The Colorado Horse Park, 7522 South Pinery Drive, Parker, CO 80134 or fax to (303) 841-7879. Opening date for Stall Reservations: April 1, 2013. Closing date May 20, 2013.
Pat Boyle, Show Manager (847) 274-6834
Brian Curry, Show Manager (303) 918-2908
Show Office (303) 841-7461
Show Office Fax (303) 841-1419
Colorado Horse Park Main Office (303) 841-5550
Colorado Horse Park Main Office Fax (303) 841-7879
Wed – Sun: Show starts daily at 8 a.m. unless otherwise noted
Address: 7375 E Bayou Gulch Rd, Parker, CO 80134
From North: I-25S exit Ridgegate Parkway – go east under the freeway. Ridgegate Parkway to S. Chambers Road, approx 3 miles (Traffic light) – turn right/south onto Chambers Road. At end of Chambers Road turn left/east onto Hess Road. Hess Road to Parker Road/Hwy 83 – turn right/south onto Hwy 83 approx 4 miles to Bayou Gulch Road. (Traffic light). Follow signs to Colorado Horse Park.
From South: I-25N, exit Founder’s Parkway. Founder’s Parkway to Highway 86, approx 4 miles (traffic light). Turn east/left onto Hwy. 86 to Franktown/Hwy 83. At Franktown go north on 83 approx. 7 mi. to Bayou Gulch Rd. (Traffic light), turn right/east onto Bayou Gulch Rd. Follow signs to Colorado Horse Park.
About the Colorado Horse Park
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Colorado Horse Park was founded by visionary Helen Krieble who acknowledged the need for a high-volume horse show and horse boarding facility to serve Colorado. The Colorado Horse Park welcomes more than 75,000 visitors per year and hosts over 40 competitions annually. CHP features a derby arena designed by Olympic-designer Linda Allen and a cross-country course designed by Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor and eventing super-star James Atkinson. There are 300 permanent stalls with capacity for more than 1,000 stalls.
The picturesque property, located only minutes from the town of Parker, hosts international equestrian events in multiple disciplines. Visitors enjoy the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain surroundings and access to miles of trails and open space. The Colorado Horse Park is committed to supporting equestrian education and amateur athletics, preserving open space, fundraising for local charities and supporting the community.
Mary Adelaide Brakenridge for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International