The arenas were packed full today at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Horse Trials in Elkton, Md. Running alongside the USEA East Coast Young Event Horse Championship was the CCI3* division, where Marilyn Little and Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, Phoebe Manders and Michael Manders’ RF Scandalous (Carry Gold x Richardia) took the leading position on the flat.
Little and “Kitty” are looking to redeem themselves after their last CCI3* attempt at Military Boekelo Enschedein 2015 ended in a disappointing withdrawal. “She has been out of it for a year, so this is the first three-star test I’ve done on her in a year. It’s a pleasure to have her here and so much fun to rider her on the flat,” Little commented. The 11-year-old Oldenburg mare established a seven-point lead over second placed Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready, starting the weekend on a 41.5.
Despite the brilliance of the test, Little said the dressage has been more difficult lately with Kitty’s increased fitness. “This is only the second time in her life she’s been this fit. For most horses, you’re getting that when they’re 9- and 10-year-olds. You expect that,” she explained. “I think of her as a very seasoned competitor, and yet she’s dealing with this level of fitness and she’s very excited, so for her to be that focused and workmanlike today, it was wonderful.”
Phillip Dutton and I'm Sew Ready. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
I’m Sew Ready (Lupicor x Jarda) and Phillip Dutton we’re the very first pair in the arena this morning, earning a score of 49.2 for second place. Kristine and John Norton’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood is a catch ride for Dutton, as his usual rider, Kristen Bond, is pregnant with her second child. They come here after a very strong third-place finish at Plantation Fields CIC3*, after adding only time on cross-country.
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz) round out the top three on a score of 50.8. The Cross Syndicate’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse finished third at this event last year, so he will certainly be one to watch this weekend.
The remainder of the division will perform their tests tomorrow, and the group will tackle the cross-country on Saturday.
Emily Beshear and Silver Night Lady. Shannon Brinkman Photo.
In the CCI2* Emily Beshear piloted Silver Night Lady, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse out of Kings Aire, into the first spot. Deep Purple Eventing’s mare sits on a score of 43 going into Saturday’s cross-country. They are followed by Michael Walton and his own Woodstock Wallaby, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse, in second place with 48.8 penalty points. Third place goes toMcKena Knott and her own Flanigan. The 12-year-old Thoroughbred holds a score of 50.3 before the jumping phases.
"She's a pretty new ride for me," said Beshear. "I've spent the summer getting to know her. She was very focused and had a super test; one little bobble where the sand hit the edge of the ring, I can forgive that!" Regarding Saturday's cross-country course, "I'm really excited for the 2* for her. She's never done a CCI**, the biggest question for me is feeling out her fitness level. It has plenty of good questions to test your readiness."