Riders were thrilled to be cantering down centerline in the first CCI4*-S since the suspension of events. “So many events have been canceled, and this has been such a beacon on the calendar for all of the riders,” said Marilyn Little. “To have a place like this to come during a pandemic is really special. Without MARS’ support, this would never have happened. The feeling from the riders, we’re all just really grateful, and everyone’s happy to be here.”
Great Meadow International saw 25 pairs of the 69-horse CCI4*-S do their dressage tests today in front of Peter Gray and Valerie Vizcarrando. It was Little and RF Scandalous, Phoebe and Michael Manders and Jacqueline Mars’ 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia), who came out on top of the pack. “Kitty” ran the Advanced/Intermediate at the Ocala Horse Trials last weekend, but before that the pair hadn’t competed since Red Hills Horse Trials in March. However, they didn’t let the long break stop them from smashing the Great Meadow International CCI4*-S dressage record, which stood since 2016 when Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen scored a 24.2.
“She was beautiful; she was really focused, very relaxed today which was great,” said Little of Kitty who scored a 21.8. “She has been here a few times and it is a great ring to ride in. I think horses tend to go really well here. She had a bit of a long ship – we have been based in Florida – but we got here on Monday and we really only had one day to prep, but she was totally a professional as always. I underrode a bit and probably didn’t give it enough in the extensions, but my mistake and she was perfect.”
“I gave [Kitty] a bit of a break when I realized that we were ramping up for some different ideas and everything just kept getting canceled, so I said when they have an idea of what the calendar is going to be I will ramp her back up,” continued Little. “July was quite a lot of fitness work and then started showing again in August. I did a show jumping show with her and a pure dressage show and then she went to the Ocala Horse Trials last weekend and did the Advanced/Intermediate. It has definitely been a challenge to be in Florida in the summer to find all the events and check all the boxes so you are prepared as you can be. Fortunately, she has had a lot of experience and she feels great – I am looking forward to the weekend.”
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver, The Monster Partnership's 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal), sit in second on a 26.1 while Hannah Sue Burnett and the veteran Harbour Pilot, Jacqueline Mars’ 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cruising x Shannon), are in third on a 26.8.
The remaining 44 CCI4*-S pairs will do dressage tomorrow, show jump on Saturday, and go cross-country on Sunday.
Of David O’Connor’s cross-country course Little said, “The course looks beautiful. It is a great confident galloping course. Plenty technical, footing is absolutely incredible, and it is a good place to gallop on and use the hills and hopefully they come out of it better than they came in.”
A case of EHV-1 (neurological) has been reported in Ocala, Florida, similar in nature, but unrelated to the neurological strain of EHV-1 impacting Valencia (ESP) and other European countries. The horse was not shipped from Europe and was not on show grounds at the onset of symptoms. USEF is working closely with the Florida Department of Agriculture and state authorities who are completing contact tracing and identifying the potential source of the virus exposure.
Five-star eventer Kim Severson taught a show jumping clinic in January at Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, Virginia where she instructed riders on the importance of forward riding for successful jumping. In this exercise, which Severson progressively adds additional pieces to, riders are instructed to focus on the quality of their canter.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.