Nov 06, 2012

SmartPak Equine USEA Classic Series Shines at Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event

Jonathan Ketzler and Sal on their favorite part of the competition, Steeplechase. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ketzler.

While the SmartPak Equine USEA Classic Series has been growing stronger every year at the Training Level, the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event was the only competition to offer the Preliminary Three-Day level in 2012. Out of the seven pairs starting the division at the Kentucky Horse Park, Jonathan Ketzler of Belleville, WI riding his own 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Sal, were the only pair to finish on their dressage score.

Sal was bred by Bruce Davidson and campaigned through the CCI2* level by Buck Davidson before Jonathan purchased him.” I have had him about 18 months and the first few were trying,” said Jonathan. “I had several falls before we got together, and I learned what he needed from me as a rider and partner.”

Before Sal and Jonathan even went down center line, Jonathan had to get through a nerve-wracking part of the competition, the veterinary inspection. “Having had several marginally sound horses in the past the trot out is always stressful for me,” explained Jonathan. “Dressage was our usual, nothing special but good. Phase A was a perfect warm up. I walked to the gate arrived about four minutes early then was off, a brisk trot with one good canter and gallop for 16 minutes. Steeplechase was a little worrisome because the finish line crossed right in front of the start box and it was a three minute course and we were going out at three minute intervals. I was sent out as the rider before me came in, but Sal was so fast out of the box it was not an issue. I arrived at my second minute mark 45 seconds early so we coasted the final part of the course. I had not adequately walked Phase C so I got a little disoriented towards the end and went back a bit requiring me to gallop into the vet box.”

“Sal was in great shape so his heart rate and respiration came down quickly. It was the perfect temperature for the Endurance phase so when we left the start box on D Sal was ready to go. He has a ditch problem and the 18th fence was a bending line coffin with a deep dark ditch filled with water. This was my nemesis but when we got there he had been so strong so far I went in with confidence and he only stuttered a little at the ditch. We finished well within the time.”

Following Endurance Day, Sal and Jonathan moved up into the third spot on the leaderboard, but the show jumping phase would prove to be quite influential and when the two pairs ahead of them both dropped a rail, Sal and Jonathan became the winners with a clean round.

“He was so ready for show jumping that I only needed a few fences in warm-up to know he was on. It was probably one of the best stadium rounds we have had. I had participated in a clinic with Kim Severson the week before and she had really gotten working as a team.”

For his win in the SmartPak Equine USEA Preliminary Three-Day Event, Jonathan took home a SmartPak Wellfleet Event Bridle and was entered in a drawing to win a year’s supply of SmartPaks and a custom Stackhouse Saddle.

Jennifer Dougherty and Bayside Cruise to the Win in the Training Three-Day

While the Preliminary Three-Day may have been a small division, the Training Three-Day definitely was not with over 30 pairs competing. Despite the stiff competition, Jennifer Dougherty and Bayside led wire-to-wire.

Bayside is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Devil His Due x Supah Star) who Jennifer picked out at the Arlington race track through a friend, Anne Smith, about two and a half years ago.

Jennifer and Bayside scored a 26.1 in dressage, the only pair to break the 30 barrier. “His flat work has really come along this summer,” said Jennifer. “He tries almost too hard which can sometimes look tense. He really relaxed and enjoyed himself at Midsouth. I was finally able to produce some of the work we get at home in the ring which was really exciting.”

Their momentum only grew stronger as they headed out for Endurance day where they added no penalties to their leading dressage score. “I was worried about steeplechase because he is so careful and would not have had a warm-up jump,” said Jennifer. : He looked hard at the first but then really gained confidence as he went. I have always felt that ‘Lane’ lacked confidence in himself and really didn't know who he was. By the end of phase D I finally felt like I had a horse that knew and loved his job. That was also my favorite part of the event.”

“The cross-country was fair but challenging especially the first water. We shared a lot of fences with the Preliminary which I thought was fitting seeing as that would be the next step. He came out of the box quite aggressively but then settled in and was smart and bold the whole way around.”

Going into show jumping Jennifer had a rail in hand to maintain her lead. “He show jumped well although I felt that I had to search a bit for the right canter. He tries so hard and is so careful he rarely has a rail. I just need to trust a better canter and stay out of his way.”

Jennifer hopes to have a solid season of Preliminary next year ending with a one star. “I think he is a long term horse for me,” said Jennifer. “And I am willing to take the time he needs. Some have said that I have been moving him up too slowly, but I would rather take small steps forward than big steps backward. The process has been worth it, to have my horse finally comfortable in his own skin.”

For her T3D win at Midsouth, Jennifer took home a Five Star Tack Bridle, a SmartPak Wellfleet Halter and engraved lead, a pair of FITS Breeches, and a $200 Point Two Gift Certificate. She was also entered in a drawing to win a Stackhouse Saddle, a year’s supply of SmartPaks, and a Fleeceworks Saddle Pad Set.

Both Jennifer and Jonathan thanked the wonderful team at Midsouth for putting on such a fabulous event.

This Series would not be possible without the support of: Title Sponsor: SmartPak Equine; Presenting Sponsor:Stackhouse Saddles; Silver Level Sponsor: Fleeceworks; Legacy Sponsor: Five Star Tack; Platinum Sponsor: Point Two; Elite Sponsor: FITS

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