Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 4—While Liz Halliday had five rails in hand heading into this afternoon’s CCI4*-L show jumping at Galway Downs, she tried to stay focused on giving Cooley Nutcracker the best ride she could in the buzzy atmosphere of the main arena.
In the end, she didn’t need any of that cushion, jumping a clear round to secure the win and the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship on “Bali,” a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tolant R x Cobra) owned by Halliday, Ocala Horse Properties, Renee Lane, and Deborah Halliday.
“I really, really wanted him to jump a good, class, clear round. My goal was to try and make the time without chasing him for it,” she said. “He’s such a beautiful, classy horse, and he felt very fresh today, which is amazing. That’s exactly what you want for a 10-minute [cross-country] course. I think there were a couple of places I could have maybe ridden a little better, but he was pretty sharp in this atmosphere. He’s just an amazing horse, and I have a great partnership with him now. I’m very excited about how well he took this all in.”
Liz has had a big year with her horses, including coming straight to Galway from Santiago, Chile, where she helped the U.S. team to a silver medal with Miks Master C at the Pan American Games, but she was disappointed in her own performance with three rails down in show jumping that dropped her out of individual medal contention.
“Last weekend was a little disappointing, so it was really fun for the owners to come here and watch their young horse do this. It’s sort of given them the lift that they needed. It’s a wonderful way to finish the season,” she said.
Bec Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses’ 12-year-old British Sport Horse gelding (Vangelis S x Handstreich) Caravaggio II jumped a clear round to finish in second place and will likely be heading to his first five-star next season.
Braitling spent three months in Europe this summer competing, including at the Blenheim CCI4*-L (England) in September, and she’s reaping the rewards.
“I haven’t jumped clean in a four-long, so that was nice,” she said. “It’s something I’ve been working on with him. He’s 12, and I’ve done a lot on him. He’s a good jumper, but he struggles to keep everything together. I was in Europe all summer, and I feel like I gained a lot of experience from that so I could come here and be confident going into the ring.”
Tommy Greengard was all smiles as he finished third in his first CCI4*-L with Joshuay MBF, his own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Foreign Affair x Fernacchy MBF).
Since Braitling rides for Australia, Greengard earned the reserve championship in the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship, but the weekend was more about ticking the box of the first CCI4*-L—only the pair’s fourth Advanced start.
“It’s been terrific. It totally exceeded my expectations,” said Greengard, who’s based in northern California. “It was a really longshot goal to get him here this year due to some health issues, and he’s a really special horse, and he’s always been a really special horse. I couldn’t be more grateful he took me around my first four-long this weekend.”
Greengard’s brought the gelding along since he was 5. “He’s taken me through all the levels, and he’s been an amazing horse for us and continues to prove what an amazing horse he is,” he said.
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Have you ever wondered why professional riders love bringing their horses through the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program? USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown chats with two of this year's YEH Champions, Caroline Pamukcu who won the USEA YEH 4-year-old East Coast Championship aboard HSH Afterglow, and Andrea Baxter who won the USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship with Camelot PJ, to discuss this year's Championships and all of the great things that the program has to offer.
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As they hiked through the Galway Irish countryside, Shelley Bridges and John Whelpley soon found themselves amid a herd of curious Irish Draught mares grazing calmly around them. Bridges, an endurance rider extraordinaire with a well-known, educated eye for all things horse, noticed one of the mares in particular and said, “What about that one?” and our unlikely story began.
With the holiday spirit in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the 2024 eventing season. From paperwork to packing, there’s quite a bit to do before you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season with your horse. Check out these tips from the team at STRIDER, and get your 2024 season kicked off in the most organized way possible.