It’s been nearly a year since Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous last cantered down the centerline in a four-star test, but they didn’t need any time to shake the rust off. The pair laid down one of their signature leading tests today to score a 24.4 in the CCI4*-S at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event. Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders’ 14-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia) was injured in the lead-up to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, and Little has been working hard to get her back to this level.
“I can’t tell you how much fun it is to be able to ride her here and have her back,” said Little of “Kitty.” “When you have lost something and you get it back it is really cool, so this is a really special weekend for me. It has been a long road. There has been an incredible team of people that have helped get her back here. . . The last big event she was preparing for was WEG and before that was Kentucky and they absolutely know when they are preparing – I think she thought she was going to a championship level event this weekend. It felt like it was that kind of day.”
Little and Kitty are over 8 points in the lead with their 24.4, but Little did say that Kitty was a bit excited in the atmosphere. “Two years ago we were here and that translated into not such a great test, but she has become so mature and such a great partner that she went in and did her job as she always does,” she explained.
Kitty is the last event horse in Little’s barn as she has returned to show jumping full time, and while she has been out at a few events coaching she was saving her return to the saddle at an event for Kitty. “She is such a special horse for me – it is wonderful to be back at an event, but it is even better being back with my best friend. If I didn’t have this horse I wouldn’t be eventing, I event for her, because I love her. It didn’t make sense to be at an event without her. This is a great one to be back at. It has a great energy and is so beautiful and so well organized. I am really excited.”
This season Little has taken Kitty to two Preliminary level events – winning both of them – and just one Advanced combined test, but they stopped at Liz Halliday-Sharp’s facility for a cross-country school on the way here. “I just have to rely a bit on the fact that she knows what she is doing out there,” explained Little.
Sitting in second is another comeback kid – Rubens D’ysieux, the syndicate owned 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Balougran x Davidoff Silver Shadow), who scored a 32.4 with Sara Kozumplik Murphy in the tack. Rubens had colic surgery in April and Murphy has been bringing him back slowly. “He had never been sick ever, and I have never had to go through that before, so I have just been taking my time making sure he feels good and taking it one day at a time,” she explained. “I was really happy with him, he feels really strong. He is always a competitor, so I have never had to worry from that perspective because he never wants to be embarrassed.”
“I was a little surprised that I got a 32, I thought at worst I would be a 30, but I think I maybe wasn’t as accurate as I should have been on my serpentines and my reinback, so that may have lost a few points, I couldn’t have been happier with the horse so I couldn’t get too fussed about it,” she concluded.
Rounding out the top three is a CCI4*-S debutant, Dassett Choice, Rebecca Brown’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Caricello x Vilja), who scored a 34.7. Dassett Choice has done just one Advanced which he handily won at Chattahoochee Hills in August after scoring a 27.3 in dressage.
“I actually didn’t love [my test],” said Brown. “He can really do an amazing test and I had two little blips. We have been working really hard, so it was still pretty competitive, so I am pleased, but I always know I can do better.”
The CCI4*-S has a day off tomorrow before show jumping on Saturday morning. The CCI3*-L and CCI2*-L both got underway with their dressage tests today and will finish up in the morning, with the CCI4*-L starting at mid-morning.
Nestled in the heart of St. Louis County is Queeny Park, the former estate of the late Mr. and Mrs. Edgar M. Queeny. This gorgeous public park features trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, a dog park, and so much more. On any given day you can find cyclists, walkers, families, and more enjoying the sprawling grounds of Queeny Park, but once a year eventers take over as the park hosts the Queeny Park Horse Trials. It is not uncommon for park visitors to watch from a safe distance as horses gallop across the grounds at Queeny Park, making it an event that truly anyone in the community can enjoy. This family-friendly staple in the St. Louis equestrian community has run for over 40 years, offering eventers in Area IV and beyond the opportunity to enjoy the park's ample space and terrain during the weekend-long event.
Where can you find fierce competition at every level, an overwhelming team atmosphere, and tons of spirit? The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships of course! The 2022 Championships get underway tonight at 6:00 p.m. EST with the Opening Ceremony and Senior Awards Presentation, and official competition kicks off first thing Saturday morning. A total of 87 championship competitors will be representing 12 schools and make up 22 championship teams which will compete over the course of the weekend at the Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to welcome back longtime sponsor, FITS Riding, Ltd. for 2022. They are returning as a ‘Bronze Sponsor of the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC)’, a ‘Contributing Sponsor of the USEA Adult Team Championships (ATC)’, a ‘Contributing Sponsor of the USEA Classic Series’, and a ‘Contributing Sponsor of the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships.’ As a sponsor of these USEA programs, FITS will generously provide gift certificates as prizes for the Intercollegiate championship competitors, AEC and ATC competitors, and Classic Series winners.