The 2022 Twin Rivers Spring International held over Easter Weekend in Paso Robles, Calif., was a key event for some of the West Coast’s top riders to assess their horses, and it proved to be a confidence booster for their journeys to the upper levels of the sport. In the first event of the year held at Twin Rivers Ranch, horses and riders faced questions on cross country presented by new cross country course designer Morgan Rowsell.
India McEvoy returned to competition for the first time since August 2021 and eight weeks after giving birth to her first son, Sam, to reunite with her own 12-year-old Oldenburg mare E’zara (Escudo II x Phanny) and win the CCI2*-Long mare’s FEI debut. The pair had the lowest finishing score at the FEI levels with a 30.8.
“I’ve had this goal of a 2-star for like five years,” McEvoy said. “So, it was a big weekend for us to complete and do well. It was a fun weekend.”
McEvoy’s coach, James Alliston, had ridden E’zara in her two previous events at the end of 2021.
“I just started riding her six weeks ago after I had my boy,” McEvoy said.
In addition to getting back in the saddle after giving birth, McEvoy’s sense of timing also showed through by finishing her double clear cross-country round on the optimum time of 7:19, giving her the tiebreaker over the second place finisher.
Andrea Baxter’s Laguna Seca (Linaro x Indy 500) turned in his best score in an FEI event to win the CCI3*-Short for the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s first blue ribbon since last year’s Twin Rivers Spring International at the CCI4*-Short. They were the only pair without a rail in stadium jumping and the only pair to finish within the time while jumping clear on cross-country to finish on their dressage score of 33.0. Their cross country time of 6:01 was 10 seconds below optimum and 13 seconds faster than any other competitor at the level.
“By riding him fast on the cross-country, I really realized that he finds his scope out of a more forward step and gained a lot of confidence from doing that,” Baxter said. “I think going forward, I’ve discovered a new ride on him.”
Baxter said she plans to move Laguna Seca back up to the Advanced level for his next show.
“I moved him up to Advanced last year, probably a little bit prematurely,” Baxter said. “He was going well, but not as well as I would have liked. So, I stepped him back down to Intermediate, three-star to make it a little smoother and figure out where I could fill in the gaps. This weekend, I had the pressure on to win and finally went fast and think he had the best round he’s ever had. I’m really excited.”
James Alliston and Alliston Equestrian's 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding RevitaVet Calaro (Camiros x Tanner) followed up their CCI3*-Short victory at the Galway Downs International earlier in April with a win in the CCI3*-Long. Alliston also used Twin Rivers as the final prep for Helen Alliston's 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding Paper Jam (Paparazzo x Reely Jamin XX) before the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Paper Jam was second at Advanced to Alliston’s other mount at the level, the 8-year-old Canadian Warmblood Nemesis (by Novalis) owned by Alliston Equestrian LLC.
Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro recorded a double-clear cross country round and added four jumping penalties to finish at 38.6.
“He’s a bit buzzy in the mind, but he’s really talented,” James Alliston said. “He’s just hot, and it takes a bit of work to have him relaxed in the dressage. He’s just sort of a bit lit-up in general on the show grounds, kind of nervy. He has a lot of talent, going well, and will have learned a lot this weekend.”
James Alliston completed a trifecta of blue ribbons with the chestnut Canadian Warmblood gelding Nemesis at Advanced and the Alliston Equestrian owned 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding Irish Pop (Inliner x Haupsttubuch) at Intermediate.
Nemesis has not been outside of the top two in seven events since July 2021. He overtook James Alliston’s other entrant at Advanced, Paper Jam, by jumping clear and just adding time penalties to finish on a score of 47.6.
“Nemesis is green and has only done one Advanced two weeks ago, but he’s a very nice horse,” he said. “Just giving him mileage at the level really. It was a nice, strong course, had all sort of different jumps, lots of different jumps in the water. So, I think he will have learned a lot.”
Helen Alliston successfully returned to the CCI4*-Short level aboard her 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Ebay for the first time since breaking her hip and pelvis in May 2021. The CCI4*-Short was the 16th victory for Ebay since Helen Alliston began competing on the grey Oldenburg gelding in 2016, but she said this win was particularly significant.
“This was our first big one; we had a bit of a crash last May and I broke my hip and my pelvis,” she said. “It was a little bit nerve-racking going into this one. This was my first time back at the level, but he felt fantastic and confident. So, I was thrilled.”
Helen Alliston and Ebay also won at the level at the Woodside International in October 2019. Their win at Twin Rivers came after a 29.1 in dressage and adding four stadium jumping penalties plus some time penalties in the jumping phases to finish on 42.3.
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