The inaugural Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials (BRMHT) at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) concluded Sunday, following two days of national-level eventing competition at the venue. The event marked the first time competitors of all lower levels were welcomed to test the White Oak cross-country course, the same to host cross-country competition during the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG). World-renowned course designer Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) designed seven layouts to host nearly 150 entries from Beginner Novice through Advanced, including Modified.
In the Advanced Division, Doug Payne (Aiken, S.C.) piloted Quantum Leap to top honors after finishing with a final score of 40.60. Allison Springer (Upperville, Va.) and Katie Lichten’s Sapphire Blue B, a 2010 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Heritage Fortunus x Lucy Blue), finished in second place after earning a final score of 51.70, while Ema Klugman (Clarksburg, MD) and Jeni Klugman’s Bendigo, a 2002 Trakehner gelding (Unknown x Unknown), took third place after a final score 52.40.
"He [Quantum Leap] is an 8-year-old and still greenish to the [Advanced] level for sure; he has probably five events under his belt at this point,” Payne shared of the 2011 Zweibrucker gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy), co-owned with his wife, Jessica Payne.
Payne continued, “I wasn't looking to going crazy fast, but he's a very efficient and good galloping horse, so he just covers the ground so well. I'm very, very lucky to have such a talented and willing horse to go with. He goes in a rubber snaffle, and you barely have to touch him.”
Payne commended Phillips’ course-building to accommodate multiple courses on one footprint. “Initially I was thinking [the course] might get real busy, but there is enough space here that it's quite good.” Payne concluded, “The course was wonderful. I think the footing couldn't have been any better. It was a good, flowing course, and I think the whole competition has been excellent.”
After the Show Jumping phase on Saturday night under the lights in Tryon Stadium, Springer and Sapphire Blue B were leading after earning a score of 27.70 in the Dressage phase and putting in a clear round in Tryon Stadium. “He [Sapphire Blue B] is my student Katie Lichten’s horse. We call him Steve in the barn -- he’s a unicorn.”
Springer continued: “He’s young, and was definitely spooky in there [Tryon Stadium] but he jumped great. He’s a talented young horse, and I feel really honored to be able to ride him for [Katie Lichten].”
Lucienne Elms and Mistralou Win the Open Intermediate Division
Lucienne Elms (Campobello, S.C.) and her own Mistralou claimed the win in Open Intermediate after a speedy cross-country performance bringing her final score to 46.40. Second place was awarded to Annie Goodwin (Aiken, S.C.) and Mettraise, owned by Jeanne Sylvester, after their final score of 52.50, while John Michael Durr (Shelby, N.C.) earned third just behind, finishing with a final score of 52.60 with Becky Brown’s entry Tilikum.
“It was a fantastic course design; Mark Phillips is ever the master,” Elms said of the cross-country course designer’s work after piloting horses through two different levels. “[The course] rode really well, there were plenty of questions, with all combinations rewarding to just keep a forward rhythm, too.”
Although Elms just started competing again after sustaining injuries in late 2018, she admitted that she was still determined to be competitive: “I wanted a strong result; he [Mistralou] is not green, so I intended to set out for the time. He is a full-blood horse and always a pleasure to finish on, [since] he just keeps galloping, so I was confident I would be competitive providing the time wasn’t easy to attain.”
Elms hopes to return Mistralou to CCI4*-L competition later this year and looks forward to returning to TIEC in 2020. “TIEC really is a world-class venue: the cross-country venue has the best ground you could ask for, the show jumping gives great mileage to the horses prepping for an international run, as the main arena really creates an educational atmosphere for both horse and rider requiring the exposure, and the footing for dressage is immaculate with plenty of space to work in,” concluded Elms.
Kimberly Steinbuch (Shelby, N.C.) aboard PDQ Leigh, owned by Jil Walton, led the pack Saturday after scoring a 29.30 to lead the dressage phase and producing a fault-free show jumping round. “He’s very new to me: I’ve had him for just over two and a half weeks,” Steinbuch admitted. “I’m very excited about him and looking forward to a very good partnership.”
Steinbuch shared that the course set by course designer Chris Barnard was her first show jumping round “under the lights,” and her second show jumping round with PDQ Leigh. “It was a little back-and-forth and a little discussionary, but he knows his job is just to leave all of the rails in the cups,” stated Steinbuch.
Steinbuch revealed that she is not used to riding a horse of PDQ Leigh’s size and that it could be a challenging dynamic on cross-country: “He’s definitely over 17 hands, so it’s very different for me to have a horse his size to try and ride around, but he’s pretty straight forward and he knows his job.”
Steinbuch and her husband, John Michael Durr, operate out of Shelby, North Carolina, which allows them to compete at TIEC as often as they wish, she said. “We’re here two to three weeks a month, so we basically live here. We do all the jumpers and hunters here, and then we do eventing on the weekends. It’s nice to be centrally located,” concluded Steinbuch.
John Michael Durr and Casofino Claim the Open Preliminary Division
John Michael Durr (Shelby, N.C.) maintained his lead from the first day of competition in the Open Preliminary division to win it all, earning a final score of 29.10 aboard Casofino, owned by Madigan Murphy. Ema Klugman (Clarksburg, Md.) and Jeni Klugman’s Bronte Beach Z came in a close second after finishing with a final score of 30.00, while Doug Payne (Aiken, S.C.) and Stephen Blauner’s Baymax finished in third with a final score of 34.40.
“The course rode really well; Mark [Phillips] did an amazing job; even though there were a lot of courses it felt like the horses were never confused about where they were going,” explained Durr of the White Oak Course adjacent to TIEC. “It was really well done. There were several different tracks, and he nailed it.”
Durr explained that he has been working on giving Casofino “consistent miles and education” before turning the reins back over to his adult amateur owner, who is also Durr’s student. “He’s a really exciting young horse. He just needed a little making up to win with his adult amateur.” Durr continued, “This was the first time he had been in a ring like this under the lights. His heart was going a million miles a minute and he saw every kid rolling down the grass, but he focused on the jumps and did his job.”
Durr concluded, “Every part of what Tryon does makes you feel special - it doesn’t matter whether you’re there for a national horse trials, a B-rated hunter/jumper show, or the five-star week. Tryon gives you that championship feeling all the time, so when my students do go to the championships or go to Young Riders or something like that, they don’t fall apart, because they’re used to being in a big atmosphere.”
For full results from the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials at TIEC, click here.
World-class equestrian competition is back with full spectator attendance and opportunities for giving back
After a one-year hiatus for spectators due to Covid-19, The Event at Rebecca Farm will be running at full strength for competitors and spectators, July 21-25. The Event draws more than 600 riders and 8,000 spectators each year to the picturesque Flathead Valley in northwest Montana.
Max Corcoran, President of the USEA & 5* event groom, joins host Nicole Brown. Talking all things from preparations & time management tips to specific top-level grooming insights. Max shares her wealth of experience with us, highlighting that knowing your horse is the most important factor when considering all elements of equine management.
“My whole journey has been a series of interconnected circles,” says Gina Miles.
The central compass point of those circles has been the Olympics. The Games are what set the Californian on her path, and where she reached her pinnacle - the individual silver medal in Hong Kong in 2008.
Gina, now 47, was 10 when the Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984.
Plenty of event riders have chosen to cross oceans and base themselves thousands of miles away from “home” in pursuit of their career dreams - look at the likes of New Zealanders Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, and now Tim and Jonelle Price, while Andrew Hoy, Clayton Fredericks and of course Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton have set sail from Australian shores. Not many American riders do it, though, probably because the sport is big enough and competitive enough in the U.S. not to make it necessary.