While her two horses swapped places for first and second after cross-country, Tamra Smith maintained both the lead and second place with two clear rounds and minimal time faults at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event Presented by BW Furlong and Associates and Zoetis. The 16-year-old Hanoverian mare En Vogue (Earl x Laurena) is just a little more experienced than her barn mate Danito, also owned by Ruth Bley, so she was also a little quicker around the big, challenging course that twisted and turned through the Horse Park of New Jersey. En Vogue leads on a 27.1 and Danito is second with 31.9, with Boyd Martin maintaining third place with the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Luke 140 (Landos x Omega VI), owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate.
“Danito is green, so I went out of the box nice and easy with him,” said Smith of the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Dancier x Wie Musik). “I wanted him to feel good about it. He did Tryon’s CCI4*-L but I went significantly slower there - I had probably 25-time faults. Today I just wanted a good, solid go. En Vogue was quite fast but in comparison to the rest of the field, Danito was one of the faster times for the greener horses so I was really happy with him. I was tired too, physically, and could probably have ridden faster otherwise.”
She said that the course felt easy for En Vogue. “She’s super game and has always been a phenomenal cross-country horse. I probably could have been a little gutsier at the double corners today, but I didn’t want to have a blip.”
Both long-format divisions conclude with show jumping tomorrow and Smith is optimistic that both of her horses will perform well. “I’ve worked very hard in figuring out En Vogue’s technique,” she said. “I rode a lot with Scott Keach out here while I was wintering in Florida, and I work with Ollie Nilforushan in California. She show jumped great at Tryon and Kentucky so I hope she’s feeling good tomorrow.”
Smith also holds the lead in the CCI3*-L with Solaguayre California, David and Julianne Guariglia's 10-year-old Argentinian mare (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria). She had a double clear round to maintain her dressage score of 26.2. Smith said, “California was amazing, she’s such a machine! I haven’t found a course that didn’t suit her, she’s been incredible with all of it. It felt easy, actually.”
Smith and her team return to California next week, and she said that she plans to give the mare a few weeks of rest, then take her to Twin Rivers as a warm-up for the CCI4*-S at Rebecca Farm in Montana later this summer. Asked what the future is for this mare, Smith said, “She’s definitely in the string - I’m selling a lot of horses, but not her!”
In the short-format CCI4*, Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine were just fast enough around the cross-country course to take the lead (32.8) from Boyd Martin and Long Island T (33.8), the 15-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding owned by the Long Island T Syndicate (Ludwig Von Bayern x Haupstsbuch Highlight), winning by one penalty point. Both pairs show jumped double clear today, so it all came down to cross-country time. Third place in the CCI4*-S went to Jacob Fletcher and Atlantic Domino, with 44.7 penalties.
“I’m totally thrilled,” said Halliday-Sharp of the Monster Partnership’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Cobra x Kilpatrick Duchess). “He’s a young horse, only 9, and this is his first season at this level. I’ve had him since he was 5 and he’s very strong on cross-country, so we’ve been working on rideability and he’s so much better. I’m waiting to do a long format in the autumn when we have all the pieces in place.”
While big, ominous black clouds loomed over the horizon, the rain held off until later in the day. “I thought we were going to have another Kentucky; that was enough rain for a lifetime!” she laughed, noting that they were lucky to have had rain earlier this week because the footing was in good shape today. She also noted that event organizers looked out for riders, providing food and drinks throughout the weekend, and said how much she and her hard-working team appreciated it.
She is also competing Cooley HHS Calmaria in the mare’s first CCI3*-L. “She only did her first Prelim last July, she’s a very talented mare,” she said. “Last year was about figuring things out; she’s strong and hot and opinionated, so I’ve been getting to know her. She’d only done a couple of training events in Ireland and did some jumpers before she came over here. She won the CCI2*-L at Tryon last fall and then moved up this spring. Today she had a good round and I think she’ll be a better horse for it.”
Martin said, “Long Island T just blasted around. He show jumped really well this morning and was a bit wound up in the cross-country, where he got a bit frisky. But then I’ve got to say, on the second half of the course he settled in. I was halfway between wanting to give him a fast round and just wanting to keep him confident, and he finished well. I’m quite pleased with that because the last time we went to a show, I crashed him!”
Martin will ride four more horses tomorrow, with Luke 140 currently third in the CCI4*-L and three more horses, Penhill Celtic, Fernhill Prezley, and Wabanaki running in the CCI3*-L.
In the CCI3*-S, Cosby Green moved up from fourth to win the division by adding just 1.2 time penalties aboard Bel Mar Farm's 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Copper Beach.
Cross-country course designer-builder Morgan Rowsell said that he thought it was a great day. “The scoreboard changed so the cross-country did what it was supposed to do. I think overall the courses today did their job: the riders and horses got an education out of it. You don’t want any falls and we certainly kept them to a minimum. The frangible pins were exciting, the frangible corners came down three times, and the table came down. They worked by design, none of the horses flipped over and none of the horses got hurt. I think it’s a new era and we just need to keep pumping more of this stuff out. We had the grant from the USEA Foundation Frangible Fence Fund and it was a big help.”
Show jumping concludes tomorrow after the CCI horse inspection at 8:00 a.m. CCI3*-L show jumping will begin at 10:00 a.m, while CCI4*-L competition commences at 1:00 p.m.
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One of my passions is continuing to be a good student, because I think no matter how old I get, there are multiple reasons learning new things inspires me. First and foremost, it helps me be a better rider and trainer, so my horses benefit. Second, it helps me be a better teacher by exposing me to different ways to have a relationship with a horse or a student.
This month we’re going to begin a three-part series on how to create positive riding experiences by making sure the words you say to yourself and the thoughts you think to yourself are positive. Referred to as self-talk, internal dialogue, or brain babble; the words you say to yourself can have a huge impact on your performance. In fact, your thoughts and voice are actually considered behaviors, and just like how positive physical behaviors (i.e. a balanced transition) can create success, your verbal behaviors can also accomplish the very same thing. So let's spend the next few months talking about how to talk to yourself!
Being spontaneous has paid off for Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy. “I bought him on a Wednesday and showed him on a Thursday,” Keane recalls about his first event with his Irish Sport Horse gelding, then 9 years old, at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) in September 2016. “I owned him for part of a day, and the next morning I showed up at a CCI and jogged him up for a two-star, and we went clean and clean and clean.”
THANK YOU to everyone who has already entered the USEF/USEA Recognized CDCTA Spring Horse Trials scheduled for Sunday, April 9 in Berryville, VA. We will continue to take late entries through Friday, March 24 using USEA’s Xentry system. If you still want to come compete, please enter! The late fee has been waived through Friday, March 24.