The day that everyone had been waiting for had arrived – the endurance phase including two sessions of roads and tracks, the all-important and much discussed steeplechase, and finally Jon Wells' cross-country course featuring a brand new second water complex. Riders, coaches, grooms, officials and volunteers all look forward to this day at any event and at the 2017 Indiana Eventing Association Horse Trials and Classic Format Three-Day it was especially true.
In the Novice Three-Day the top six riders are within a rail of one another in the point standings. Any additional rails for any of them would also open the door for the horses and riders currently in the next four slots to move up if they go clear, the opportunity to move up is quite possible. So show jumping will be exciting.
Whitney Morris, Lexington, Ky., and her 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Carry Me Home moved up two slots after cross-country to take first place by staying and staying on their dressage score of 29.5. In second is Jessica Smith, 32, Madison, Wis., who rode her 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Mia flawlessly all day and move up two places as well. Barbara Lyons-Sprouse, Mantua, Ohio, and her 9-year-old Shire-Thoroughbred (American Warmblood) mare Wishful Thinking had a great day and moved up three places to third.
Morris talked about her day with Carry Me Home and had praise for the people behind the IEA Horse Trials, “The course rode as I walked it. It was really, really great. I have ridden Jon’s courses before, so I knew what we might expect to see. I had a lot of horse on cross-country, more than I thought that I would. It was probably due to the steeplechase. He was really bold and forward. Everyone here has been fantastic!”
Jessica Smith, Madison, Wis., and her 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Mia over fence #5 on the Novice Three-Day course at the IEA Horse Trials. They were ranked second at the end of the endurance phase. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Smith and Mia have been together for four years. One of her coach’s former clients bred Mia and she came to Smith as a very green 8-year-old. This year’s IEA Horse Trials Three-Day is their second one together. Smith rides as an amateur and is a physical therapist and works in a health care system in Madison. She rides whenever she has free time.
“I’ve always wanted to event,” said Smith who explained why she started the sport, “I grew up in a part of Wisconsin where eventing did not exist. I read the Saddle Club series of books and the biggest regret of my youth was not having Pony Club. So I was always very, very interested in eventing. Where I grew up there was nowhere to jump; it was all Quarter Horses and Arabs and open shows and 4-H. So, when I went to college at the University of Wisconsin I had the opportunity to join the intercollegiate equestrian team. I was able to start jumping, quite badly, with the intercollegiate series, which was fantastic. From there my best friend and I bought a different Irish Sport Horse mare together right out of college. We had no idea what we were doing, none at all. Then my friend moved to Chicago and I bought her out. But, the mare had a trailering issue where she would panic and scramble up the side of the inside of the trailer; it was terrifying. After she had that issue, and I worked with her and worked with her on it, and a tendon injury, she was donated to a therapeutic riding program. Then my trainer said he had this 8-year-old that he had no time for and said ‘Why don’t you try her.’ So, I tried Mia and I bought her.”
She and Mia competed in the Novice Three-Day at the Indiana Horse Trials two years ago. She came back to the Indiana Horse Trials primarily because they offer the Novice Classic Three-Day Format. “My overall ambition, for my eventing career if you will, is to someday do a Training Three-Day. We’re getting a lot closer to that. We had a few bobbles a couple of years ago, and so coming here again it was really nice to see the improvement in all three phases from two years. Obviously, I’m thrilled to be sitting in second, but it’s really that competition with myself, to be able to say ‘Wow, I see such a difference.’”
“And, there is such a difference in our confidence,” she continued. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared doing steeplechase two years ago. Whereas today, I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go it!’ And the cross-country just felt very easy. So, it is really confidence building to go and have a three-day be really easy as you are preparing to move up the levels.”
The Novice Three-Day Water Complex at the Hoosier Horse Park. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Smith also likes the training and conditioning aspects of preparing for and doing a long-format three-day. Being a physical therapist she likes the training, conditioning, horse inspection and cool-out procedures and aspects of three-day eventing.
She talked about her dressage and said she was pleased with her dressage test and said that she and Mia are schooling Third Level at home. She also said that two years ago they had a rough steeplechase. Then they had a cross-country school the week before too and she didn’t feel it went as well as she wanted, even though it didn’t go badly. So, this year she was more nervous going into the steeplechase schooling on Friday afternoon, but it went well.
Looking back at their endurance day performance, mostly because of the good steeplechase school the day before, she was much more confident going into the endurance phase. “I knew it was very much in my capabilities to execute and go double clear. I was also up on time in all four phases, which was a really good feeling that didn’t have to press for time. In general everything went very well on cross-country, except she got very spooky in an area on the back of the course, but I wouldn’t let her spook there. I think she was mad that she didn’t get the spook in there so she bolted later so I had to circle, but it was not anywhere near a jump, still I was on the track so I was worried that they might count it presenting [to the jump]. So, I held my breath until they posted the scores. On the one hand I’m very happy that she was feeling good enough to want to play more than half way through Phase D, but on the other hand I was like ‘Ahh!’”
Barbara Lyons-Sprouse, Mantua, Ohio, and Wishful Thinking, a 9-year-old American Warmblood mare, moved up from sixth to third after the endurance day in the Classic Novice Three-Day course at the IEA Horse Trials. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Barbara Lyons-Sprouse, 23, Mantua, OH, was very happy with her third place position after cross-country on her 9year-old Shire-Thoroughbred cross mare Wishful Thinking whose barn name is “Willow.” She grew up riding another draft-cross and has had Willow for five years. “I got her as an unbroken 4-year-old and we started eventing the next year. I found her on DreamHorse.com. She’s a puppy dog; she’s the sweetest mare. ”
She and Willow have not done a Classic Three-Day before. She plans to move up Training this year and she’d always wanted to try a long-format three-day, so that is why she chose to come to the IEA Horse Trials to try it. She agreed with clinician Dorothy Crowell who advised the three-day riders over the weekend that the steeplechase and roads and tracks really help position the horse and rider for a beautiful cross-country round. “It was a great run! She was forward, willing and really locking onto the next fence. Steeplechase was a blast! She was ready for it.”
Lyons-Sprouse said she trains with a mixture of people including Sarah Freeman who from whom she takes dressage lessons. She rides as an amateur and works full-time at a concrete plant. She praised the Indiana Horse Trials and the staff and volunteers, “This was my first time here. I would come back!”
Corinna Garcia, Ft. Wayne, Ind., and her 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Gun Slinger during their steeplechase run. They finished endurance day maintaining their first place position in the IEA Classic Training Three-Day. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Corrina Garcia maintained her status at the top of the leaderboard on her grey Thoroughbred gelding Gun Slinger with a flawless round in all four parts of endurance day to stay on her dressage score of 31. Not far behind Garcia and Gun Slinger are Kathy Baar and her Selle Francais gelding Quick Car, who also finished on their dressage score of 31.5 to hold the number two slot in the rankings.
The fourth place horse and rider after dressage, Natasha Erschen and FE Gran Torino, also completed endurance day with no points added to their dressage score and moved up to third with a total of 33.8. So, the top three riders are within one rail (4 faults) of each other going into the show jumping on Sunday.
Riders in fourth through eighth places also completed all four parts of endurance day with no jumping or time penalties which makes the dressage scores and a clean round in stadium critical to how the final standings will shake out. Fourth place rider Erin Strader from Ann Arbor, Mich., and her 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Live and Learn are in striking distance if they go clean tomorrow with a score of 35.7 and if the top two have more than one rail or if the third place pair have a rail down.
Garcia, who is from Fort Wayne, IN originally, spoke about her day with her gelding Gun Slinger, “He was great! I felt like the steeplechase helped him out – just educated him a bit more; I let him figure it out. He came out of the start box [on cross-country] just ready to go. I think education wise the three day was great for him. On the roads and tracks he was a little fresh; he’s kind of got a little buck in there, so I had to be mindful of that. I think he really enjoyed himself. The course was great. I want to move him back up to Preliminary again, so it was great [preparation]. I think it was just enough room to have to be mindful and to focus on the questions.”
“I always try to come to the Hoosier Horse Park for IEA Horse Trials; there’s probably maybe two years that I’ve missed just because of a horse injury, but I always come here if I can. And, not just because it’s my home state – my roots. But, just the fact that they always try to improve something – the cross-country, the stadium, something. I like the new water complex. I’m glad that they put something different out there; it utilizes the space better,” she added.
Kathy Baar, Nicholasville, Ky., and her 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding Quick Bar on Phase C, the steeplechase. They held onto their dressage score going clear on all four endurance day phases to stay in second place. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Second-placed Baar shared her thoughts about her day with Quick Car, “I’m really proud of him! We had a ton of fun – it was a blast. It was fun to keep track of the kilometer marks. For me cross-country rode really well. I was most concerned about steeplechase, but about half way through it started to be fun.”
She also praised the staff and volunteers she encountered at the event. “The people on course, the volunteers, were great! Everyone was smiling and so helpful.”
Natasha Erschen and her 7-year-old German Sport Horse gelding FE Gran Torino ended the day in third place in the IEA Classic Training Three-Day. Allen MacMillan Photo.
Erschen, 20, from East Dubuque, IL, which is just across the river from Iowa, had a great ride her 7-year-old German Sport Horse gelding FE Gran Torino and talked about how she found “Clint” and what they’ve done together so far. “Last year in February I got him from Clayton Fredericks. When I bought him he’d only done one Training in the U.S. So, last year did a year at Training and this year we moved up to Preliminary and we’ve done about five Prelims. But he needed a step down, because he doesn’t always focus on cross-country. So the Training Three-Day really helped him. The reason I came here was so we could do the roads and tracks and the steeplechase. It helped. He felt like a different horse on phase D.”
“Clint was a little excited on Phase A, the first roads and tracks. He didn‘t really know what was going on. But once we got to Phase B, the steeplechase, and we came out of the box he was just ready to go and was perfect right away. Then on Phase C, he was way more relaxed and figured it out a bit more. He was willing to trot; he didn’t want to keep cantering. And then on Phase D, right out of the box he is usually a bit distracted by things around him, but he doesn’t look at the jumps, he’s not scared of them. It’s just the people and the atmosphere that catches his eye a lot and makes it hard for him to focus on what am saying to him. Today he acted like a grown-up. He definitely matured over the three days here. I would definitely endorse the Classic Three-Day. It really changed my riding and also my horses mentally. It helped my younger horses mature a lot.”
Erschen rides with Brad Hall. She is taking business classes in college with the goal to have her own horse business. She also rode the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Emerald Lion, a.k.a. “Emie” in the Training Three-Day. She has had Emie for three years and they had done one other Training Three-Day previous to this one.
All riders in the Training Classic Three-Day completed the day. In the Novice Classic Format Three-Day, 20 of the 23 starters completed. Of the three who didn’t finish in Novice one was due to a rider fall with the corresponding mandatory elimination (horse and rider are reported to be doing fine), one horse and rider pair who were eliminated due to four refusals, and one horse was retired voluntarily by the rider before starting on cross-country.
To see all of the scores go to here.
Novice Three-Day rider Mary McSweeney’s crew works on cooling down her mare Indian Summer in the vet box after they finished endurance day at the IEA Horse Trials. Kim MacMillan Photo.
About the USEA Classic Series
The thrill of the 'chase lives on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic long format three-day event!
Long-format events from the Beginner Novice to Preliminary levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. Educational activities are offered at the Classic Series Events. Check out the schedule below, and check here to see if you are qualified!
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the USEA Classic Series Event winners have the opportunity to compete for a variety of prizes including SmartPak engraved halters and leadshanks; the chance to win a year of SmartPaks; Point Two Air Jackets; online subscriptions to Eventing Training Online; USEA logowear; Fleeceworks saddle pads; and Stackhouse saddles!
Fence judge volunteers Kathy and Chuck Christoph, Camby, Ind., have been judging at the Indiana Eventing Association Horse Trials for at least five years. They have three horses at home: an Arabian gelding named Maverick, and two mares, Dixie, a Thoroughbred and Georgie, a Morgan. They are both respiratory therapists. They compete in dressage and endurance. Kim MacMillan Photo.