Age was truly no boundary at the SmartPak Equine/USEA Training Three-Day at Meadowcreek Horse Trials in Kosse, Texas. Forty-five years of age difference separated the top two riders, but less than three penalty points separated their final standings. Fifteen riders started the competition with 12 completing.
Seventeen-year-old Larkin Gill aboard her own Thoroughbred gelding, When It Counts, led from wire to wire to finish on her dressage score of 30.2 and take home the blue. “I've been riding ever since I was little,” Gill explained. “I started as a hunter/jumper and when I was changing barns I found Rebecca Brown and she told me all about eventing and that's when I knew it was what I wanted to do. I started eventing with my first horse, Harley, about six years ago. When he started having suspensory ligament problems three years ago, Rebecca Brown found me Butler (When It Counts). I've been eventing him for about two years now and it’s been a roller coaster, but we've finally started to get a good grip on things.”
Gill saw a Training three-day for the first time in 2008, and immediately asked her trainer if she thought she could participate in 2009. Brown agreed to allow Gill to run the Training three-day at Meadowcreek in 2009, and she did so with both of her horses. “It was the most tiring thing I've ever done!” said Gill. “After last year’s three-day, which didn't have the best outcome for me, I went back home and worked even harder through some problems Butler and I were having.”
“My favorite part of the weekend was definitely the endurance day,” said Gill. “Steeplechase and cross-country are such a rush, and Butler loves getting out there and going for it. Looking back, I was prouder of my horse than I have ever been after our show jumping round. He was a trooper and he picked his legs up and went for it and he gave 150% and I couldn't have asked for more! Butler and I are moving up to Preliminary at the upcoming Feather Creek Horse Trials. We are going to be patient and work to be the best we can. I don't expect to win them all, although I would like him to!”
Hot on Gill’s heels was 62-year-old Janet Taylor who rode Keno’s Beduino to second place. Taylor and her Paint gelding also finished on their dressage score of 33.8. Although Taylor has been eventing for nearly a quarter of a century, eight years ago she was diagnosed with a type of fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Because of the fibromyalgia, which often causes severe fatigue, she has recently been struggling with an entirely new set of physical challenges.
Last year Taylor retired after 30 years as a commissioned public officer, so had plenty of time to focus on getting Keno ready for the competition. “I decided to compete in the Training three-day because of the challenge of it,” Taylor said. “I can’t foresee myself ever moving up to Preliminary, so it was a great goal to have. I also was excited to get to experience the thrill of steeplechase and the fun of roads and tracks. My real goal was just to compete and see if I would have the endurance to complete. I knew Keno had the ability; I just hoped I wouldn’t mess it up!”
Taylor bought Keno as a four-year-old, and since then they’ve had a roller-coaster career. “Keno is a Paint, but I got a really good deal on him because he is a shadow paint and the breeder didn’t like that Keno didn’t have flashy coloring,” Taylor explained. “After I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my trainer took over the ride on Keno. He then was injured, and we had three different vets recommend to put Keno down. However, we didn’t give up on him, and after his layup a friend of mine leased him out and competed Keno at Novice. When I retired I took the ride back, and we just moved up to Training together this year.”
The season is winding down in the hot summer of Texas, but Taylor is already looking forward to competing at next year’s Training three-day with Keno or maybe another horse.
Rounding out the top three was another junior rider, Audrey Figari. Riding her own Hanoverian mare, Landofire, Figari jumped two double clear rounds to finish on a 35.2.
For her win in the SmartPak Equine/USEA Classic Series, Gill took home: a $200 SmartPak Equine gift certificate; a bridle from Five Star Tack; a pair of FITS breeches; a pair of Nunn Finer galloping boots; a chance to win a Stackhouse saddle in a year-end drawing; and a chance to win a Point Two Air Vest, courtesy of SmartPak Equine, also in a year-end drawing.
The SmartPak Equine/USEA Classic Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors: Title Sponsor: SmartPak Equine; Presenting Sponsor: Stackhouse Saddles; Silver Level Sponsor: Fleeceworks; Legacy Sponsors: Five Star Tack and VitalWear; Elite Sponsors: FITS and Nunn Finer
The Training Three-Day at Indiana Eventing Association in Edinburgh, IN (Area VIII) is next up on the SmartPak Equine/USEA Classic Series Calendar on June 3-6 followed by Inavale Farms in Philomath, Oregon (Area VII) on June 25-27. For a complete listing of Training Three-Days and Preliminary Three-Days check out the Classic Series page.
Following yesterday’s downpour, the temperatures for the final jog this morning were brisk but the CCI5*-L horses remained professional for the last horse inspection leading into show jumping later today. Of the 35 pairs set to move forward with the final phase of competition, only 34 presented to judges Angela Tucker (GBR), Martin Plewa (GER), and Mark Weissbecker after Lisa Marie Fergusson opted not to bring forward her own 15-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding (Brynarian Brennin x Dream Contessa) Honor Me.
After a jam-packed week, the final day of competition at the Maryland 5 Star is upon us. Riders have shown off their style in the horse inspection, danced their way down the centerline in dressage, and contested some serious obstacles in cross-country up until this point. Now it's time to demonstrate the fitness and accuracy that each horse possesses in the final phase: show jumping.
It was a great day of cross-country riding at the Maryland 5 Star. There were 35 horses who crossed the finish and 11 of those finished double clear. With British, French, New Zealand, Canadian, and American riders coming through the finish flags – it was a true world class competition. The USEA was at the finish to see what the riders thought of the very first Maryland 5 Star cross-country track designed by Ian Stark.
Weren’t able to spend your morning glued to the livestream of the 2021 Maryland 5 Star cross-country? Couldn’t be there in person to trek up the hills? We have you covered with a play-by-play of what happened on Ian Stark’s cross-country course which gave both the designer and the riders many sleepless nights, but ended up riding quite well for the majority of the field.