Jun 19, 2023

Cross-Country Riding Reigns Supreme at Aspen Farms

Molly Duda and Disco Traveler, winners of the CCI3*-S. Cortney Drake photo

It was an influential cross-country day at the Aspen Farms Horse Trials for the upper-level divisions and CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S. The leaderboards for the Preliminary, Intermediate, and FEI classes featured all new names by end of day Sunday—none of the overnight leaders from Saturday held their leads. Combinations who could jump clean and fast rose up the ranks.

In the CCI3*-S, Molly Duda of California and the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Disco Traveler (Donatelli x Cadence) rocketed from fifth to first after delivering the only double-clear cross-country round in the division out of 12 starters. They were fourth after dressage with a score 32.4, dropped to fifth after show jumping due to a single rail, but jumped right to the top of the leaderboard as the only pair in the division to jump clean and inside the time over the challenging cross-country track designed by Morgan Rowsell.

Madeleine Scott and her 13-year-old Canadian Thoroughbred gelding Crosby’s Gold (Bright Valour x Circle of Flags) moved up from fourth to second after cross-country with just 3.6 time penalties. Sophie Click and Tarantino 54 (Quattro B x Los Argentina) jumped beautifully but moved down to third with 11.6 time penalties.

“It was incredible!” Duda said after her cross-country ride. “This is my first time at Aspen Farms. It’s so beautiful out here in the woods. It was so much fun.”

Duda purchased Disco Traveler from her trainer Mickayla Howard a year and a half ago, and he’s taken her from Training level to Intermediate in that time. This is the pair’s fourth straight win at the Intermediate/three-star level this season.

“We had a bit of rain today on cross-country, but the footing held up pretty well,” Duda said. “We took it slow around the turns. He was super. He was full of run by the end of it. It was different than in California—the skinnies are a lot skinnier here. It’s challenging in different ways—a lot of hills. But he was definitely up for the challenge!”

Duda also finished in third place in the CCI2*-S with her Oldenburg mare, Lilly (Check In x Contender. They added just two time faults to their dressage score to finish on 34.2.

Tommy Greengard and Kremer VD Falieberg, winners of the CCI2*-S. Cortney Drake photo

The standout in the CCI2*-S was Tommy Greengard from California. Not only did he win the division with Kremer VD Falieberg, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Up to Date x Odermus R) owned by Morgan Wenell, on their dressage score of 26.1, he placed second with Joshuay MBF (Foreign Affair x Fernacchy MBF) and fourth with Count Me In (Tizbud x Our Girl Cassidy, an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred mare he co-owns with Andrea Pfeiffer.

“Kremer was amazing!” Greengard said shortly after finishing his double-clear cross-country round with him. “This is Kremer’s first two-star short. He moved up to Preliminary earlier this spring. He was lovely. He kept trying all the way around out there. We’ve been working a lot on his fitness. It was really nice to come up here to Aspen Farms and feel like he’s taken a positive step forward on his fitness. He looks primed and ready to give the two-star long at Rebecca Farm [in Montana] a shot.”

Greengard was equally pleased with the performance of his second-place finisher, Joshuay MBF.

“Joshuay was so happy to be back out,” Greengard said. “He pulled me around the course, so we had a little bit of time here and there. He was great.”

They plan to run an Intermediate at Twin Rivers and aim for FEI at Rebecca Farm in July.

Greengard also didn’t want to leave out any praise for his fourth-place finisher in the CCI2*-S, Count Me In.

“I’m so proud of her!” he said. “She did her first show ever at Aspen Farms two years ago, and won at the Beginner Novice level in the pouring rain. For her to be fourth here just behind the boys, Andrea and I are thrilled! She’s been a serious long-term project. She’s surprised us every single day.”

Additionally, Greengard won the Open Training division this weekend with That’s Me Z, a 6-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Take A Chance On Me Z x Venetia he co-owns with Andrea Pfeiffer. They previously won the 5-Year-Old Championship at the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships.

“This was his first time competing on the grass,” said Greengard. “We are so excited for him to have come up here and taken it all in stride. He jumped around great. He loved it; he seemed to have a really good time.”

Hailey Blackburn and Kilbunny Amigo, winners of the Open Intermediate. Cortney Drake photo

In Open Intermediate, Hailey Blackburn and Kilbunny Amigo (Eurocommerce Pittsburg x Ballyglisheen Sky) ran away with the win, moving right up from fifth to first. Stephanie Goodman and Carolina Morning finished second and Kelsey Horn and Cleared For Take Off finished third—both jumping clean but with time faults.

Blackburn,a young rider originally from USEA Area VII but currently living in California while attending UC Davis’ pre-veterinary program, could not have been happier with her horse. The win was a somewhat-unexpected but welcome achievement for her and her team.

“The last time I won anything we went Novice!” shared Blackburn. “He felt absolutely incredible. We’ve spent many years getting him to steer and to listen to me. Everyone describes him as a very talented weirdo. It’s been so long building our bond and building our partnership. He’s such a special horse. Any time I make a mistake he picks up that slack for me. It’s really been the both of us growing together. To be able to finish so well, regardless of the win, on the horse who took me from Novice level to my first few Intermediates is a total miracle. I couldn’t have done it without the team at Chocolate Horse Farm. I’m just so happy–a dream come true!”

Madison Langerak and Normandy Kivalo won Preliminary Rider. Cortney Drake photo

Madison Langerak won the Preliminary Rider division with her Hungarian Sport Horse gelding Normandy Kivalo (Kalaska De Semilly x Carina). They stayed focused despite some rain during their cross-country round, jumping clean with just six time faults.

Kylie Cemulini and her jumper-turned-eventer Eddison finished a close second to Langerak.

“The course rode really well,” said Cemulini. “It was really positive and forward. My horse felt really, really good. He was very confident today. He was flying over every combination.”

Todd Trewin and Cooley High Society won Open Preliminary. Cortney Drake photo

In Open Preliminary, Todd Trewin and Cooley High Society (Rehy High Society x Forans Sunny Hogan), a chestnut Irish Sport Horse owned by Tracey Trewin, jumped fast and clear on cross-country, moving up from second for the win.

“He was absolutely fabulous,” said Trewin. “It’s the fastest we’ve run. This show was good prep for us to get him ready for Rebecca Farms. I’ve got to figure his gallop out. He is a Warmblood; I’m used to riding Thoroughbreds! He’s such a good horse. This ride today was the most rideable, fluid ride I’ve had on him.”

Trewin also finished third in a competitive Training Horse division with Vespers at Eight. Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and Aventinus, owned by Louise LaRue won that division on 28.1, and Cayden Gaffney and Incovnito placed second on 28.3. Not even one full point separated the top three.

Eight Beginner Novice and Novice divisions contested the show jumping track designed by Chris Barnard today, some in sunny conditions and some in rain. There were impressive performances at every level. The low-point score of the weekend was earned by Melissa Mohr and Ferrani, who finished on 22.4 in the Beginner Novice Amateur division.

“It was another good event,” according to show organizer Jonathan Elliott. “In particular, it was really fun to see the crowds up on the hill for the party and the FEI show jumping on Saturday; that was great. I also think the crew we have working the show is super. They make everything go smoothly which is nice for everyone.”

Competitors consistently expressed relief that the rain was limited today, and some praised the cross-country courses as a particular highlight.

“Cross-country course design was great,” said Elliott. “Our course designer, Morgan, had some very good questions. There were problems on course, but they were spread out. I think the courses rode well, and there were lots of compliments from competitors on the use of terrain, including from the lower levels.”

More than $30,000 worth of prizes were awarded to top finishers this weekend thanks to generous sponsors including Windermere Equestrian Living, Gallops Saddlery, Toklat, Arion Horse Sport Tack, Kerrits, Stubben, and others.

Aspen Farms was also thrilled to announce this weekend The Arion Challenge for Amateur/Rider competitors: one horse/rider pair that wins an Amateur/Rider division at the June Aspen Farms Horse Trials and again at the September Aspen Farms Horse Trials this year is eligible to win a fully-customized Arion saddle.

Aspen Farms will host the USEA Area VII Championships September 15-17, 2023. Competitors must place first through fifth at a qualifying horse trials before August 29, 2023 to enter Championship classes.

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