Aspen Farms Horse Trials in beautiful Yelm, Washington is new to the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series calendar this year. Today, nine horse and rider combinations sloshed through their dressage tests in the Advanced division to post their initial weekend scores. The marks were fairly close, with nearly every pair breaking into the thirties.
“Generally speaking, they all had a good idea and concept of what was required in this test,” said Mark Weissbecker, President of the Ground Jury and the dressage judge for the Advanced division. “They all rode and performed to the best of their ability today. Some horses had a little tension. Overall, it was nice to see everyone having a good concept of the basics and what was required in the test.”
Jordan Linstedt, 25, of Redmond, Washington, and Revitavet Capato, owned by Barbara and Gary Linstedt floated over the ground with enviable suspension and freedom of movement. The 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding got more airtime than necessary once or twice, but he impressed the judge enough to receive a 33.4 to lead the division after dressage in his first Advanced competition.
Each pair dealt with the puddled arena surface differently, with some leaping over their reflections on their way to an exuberant flying change, while others were far too focused on the audience seated some 20 feet above the arena. There is something to be said, however, for obedience and accuracy, and one pair stood out in that regard. What Caroline Smith’s Quarter Horse mare, Tessa, lacks in flash, she more than makes up for in effort. She was rewarded with a third place standing after the first phase of competition.
“I’m thrilled because she finds the dressage hard,” Smith said. “She’s stiff as a board. She’s not fancy. And she’s a little Quarter Horse. But she’s very accurate and obedient.”
Smith said her job is to just stay out of the mare’s way and do her best to stay soft and relaxed. Tessa’s forte is jumping, and her rider describes her as careful, clever, and quick with her feet. “She’s not fast, though,” Smith said laughing. “Her legs are going really, really quickly, but nothing’s happening.”
Smith picked Tessa up for $800 in northern Canada, saving her from slaughter at just three years old. The mare is now 12, and they have worked their way up the levels together.
“I never thought I’d go Intermediate, never thought I’d do a two-star, never thought I’d go Advanced,” Smith said. “She’s my forever horse. I will never sell her. She’s taken me places I never thought I’d go. I’m just on amateur on a budget scraping and saving to do all of this, and there she is.”
What makes her story even more impressive is Tessa fractured her hock three years ago, and the vets expected her to be done with competition. “I gave her a year-and-a-half off, and she came out last year and went Advanced,” Smith said. “But that’s her nature. You can’t beat heart. She’s not the fanciest, not the scopiest, not the quickest. But she’s got a big heart. And you can’t buy that, you can’t make that. They either have it or they don’t.”
Smith said the cross-country track is similar to last year’s. “It is big and imposing. There are a lot of fences to back the rider off, but if you ride assertively, it will work out. If you try to do too much it will catch you. It’s still a test. It’s a tough Advanced. It’s a fantastic course, and it’s so well built. A lot of thought has gone into making it visually fantastic but without making it false.”
Due to the immense amount of rain that has fallen in the last 48 hours, the course officials are forced to make necessary safety adjustments to the track. The loop through the hay field, which is on lower ground than the rest of the course, has pooled with water and is collecting more runoff every hour. As a result, this section has been removed from the Advanced and Intermediate tracks.
“It’s a little bit spongy and squishy unfortunately,” Weissbecker said. “Better to be safe than sorry, but that’s the way it goes. At least we can carry on and run the horse show.”
The first Advanced competitors leave the start box at noon Pacific Time on Saturday. Happily, the weather is expected to be much improved for the remainder of the weekend.
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels with the final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships September 26-29 in Tyler, Texas. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors: Adequan; Nunn Finer; SmartPak Equine; Nutrena; Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two; Dubarry; and FITS.
The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada in 2013 featuring the best riders and most entertainment. Riders and Horses are awarded points on the PRO Tour Rider Leader Board and PRO Tour Horse Leader Board. Riders can also earn points on the PRO Tour Series at the Intermediate or two-star level for the Multi Radiance Intermediate Challenge. The 2013 Multi Radiance Challenge Leader Board Champion will win a Multi Radiance MR4 ACTIVET Portable Laser System.
The Professional Riders Organization would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the 2013 PRO Tour Series: Martin Collins USA, The Official Footing of PRO; Multi Radiance Medical, The Official Laser Therapy of PRO & Sponsor of the Multi Radiance Medical Intermediate Challenge ; Tex Sutton, the Official US Equine Air Carrier of PRO; SSG Riding Gloves; Finish Line Horse Products; Midlantic Ltd.; and Mythic Landing Events.