Thirty-four riders were entered in the competitive CCI2* division at the Florida International last weekend in Ocala, Florida, but when the dust settled on Sunday afternoon it was Tiffani Loudon-Meetze riding Kim Lampert’s Lo Fino who took home top honors.
The CCI2* division awarded $20,000 in prize money, which was generously donated by an anonymous donor. Loudon-Meetze said that she knew about the prize money, but she was shocked during the ceremony on Sunday when they announced that she was the winner of $6,600. “All of the riders were so pleased that the organizers put in the effort and time to find sponsorship for prize money,” Loudon-Meetze said. “I want to be sure to thank the organizers as it is great to get something back from all of our hard work.”
The 34-year-old who hails from Winnsboro, SC took the lead Friday morning with a dressage score of 43.5. Finishing the cross-country course seven seconds under optimum time and leaving all the rails in their cups on Sunday sealed the win for Loudon-Meetze. “His dressage was super, probably the best he has ever been in the show ring as far as rideability, as we normally struggle with tenseness,” said Loudon-Meetze. “I was very proud of him. Cross-country was great, and he found it very easy – went around like it was nothing. The course was very nice with nothing too trappy; Lo Fino finished very strong. The pressure was on going into show jumping as the second and fourth place riders both put in double clears; luckily, I was able to hold it together and put in a double clear as well.”
(Peter Gray and Ocala Horse Properties CEO Rob Desino present Tiffani Loudon-Meetze with her prize money. Photo Courtesy of Peter Gray)
“I picked Lo Fino, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, from an auction in Germany two and a half years ago,” Loudon-Meetze explained. “With the help of Kim Lampert I was able to purchase Lo Fino and import him to the U.S. He was pretty green and had not done much of anything in Germany so all of his competing has occurred here. I am so thankful for Kim for helping me with this horse as I would not have been able to do it without her.”
Hometown pair, Leahona Rowland and Lorenzo III, also put in two double clear phases to finish in second place on their dressage score of 46.4. Rounding out the top three was 20-year-old Danielle Dichting aboard Tops.
Hannah Burnett riding Jacqueline Mars’ Harbour Pilot bested a field of 28 riders to take home the largest chunk of the $3,000 prize money generously donated by Carl Segal in the CCI1*. The 23-year-old rode the Irish gelding in lieu of her coach, David O’Connor, who was in Switzerland and therefore unable to ride Harbour Pilot in the competition.
(Hannah Burnett and Harbour Pilot jump boldly through the water combination on the CCI1* course. StockImageServices.com Photo)
After dressage Burnett was tied with Lisa Marie Fergusson on a score of 42.5. Both riders went double clear on cross-country Saturday. Burnett show jumped first out of the pair and while she left all the jumps up she added one second of time to her score. Fergusson then entered the ring and had three fences down to give Burnett the win.
“Harbour Pilot aka ‘William’ is a very special horse,” Burnett said. “I have been begging David for the ride for a long time, and it is honor to ride a horse that David has been training and competing. I only got the ride three weeks ago and ran William at a Preliminary at The Fork before riding him here. I worked really hard to develop our partnership on the flat, and he was just fantastic in the dressage phase. The cross-country course had a good mix of tough combinations and galloping fences that gave the horse a really good feeling crossing over the finish line. William was really bold and pulled me to the fences, so I ended up crossing the finish line at a slow canter to get as close to optimum time as possible. There was a lot of pressure going into show jumping as I was still tied, and I really wanted William to win. I don’t think I gave him the best ride but he tried really hard and proved himself well over the twisty course.”
“I have had a really luck six months,” Burnett explained. “William needs a bit more time at the Preliminary Level, but I hope to be able to keep the ride and take him to the Bromont CCI1*. I want to be sure to thank Karen and David and especially Ms. Mars for all their support.”
Leahona Rowland scored another second place victory this time aboard El Paso and third place went to the Connemara stallion, ArdCeltic Art with Donna Miller in the irons.
"Our CCI1* and CCI2* competitions completed a series of four competitions at the Florida Horse Park this winter,” co-organizer, Peter Gray said. “Equiventures would like to thank the title sponsor OCALA HORSE PROPERTIES and Rob and Chris Desino for their support throughout these competitions. The goal of Equiventures is to have an even better series next year with increased prize money at all of our competitions, great courses, and top officials"
Cardio Study Fundraiser
Despite the fierce competition, the competitors still had time for a little bit of fun. Saturday night a Cajun Fais Do-Do Party (Craw Fish Boil) was hosted by SuppleKrunch, The RV Zone, Florida Horse Park, and EquiVentures. Tickets to the party were $10 with all proceeds benefiting the USEA Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study.
“Six hundred and fourty pounds of craw fish was served,” said Missy Miller who helped organize the party. “It was one of the biggest competitor parties I had ever seen and everyone seemed to have a great time, even people that didn’t even know what craw fish was!” In addition to the craw fish there was music and entertainment and a speech and demo from a veterinarian about the cardio study.
“I think the event was a huge success especially because we raised about $7,000 for the cardio study,” Miller said.
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.