Jun 03, 2017

Tight Competition at the Top Following Dressage Day at the IEA H.T. Training and Novice Three-Days

Sitting atop the leaderboard after dressage in the Indiana Eventing Association (IEA) Training Three-Day Event are Corinna Garcia and her 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Gun Slinger. Kim MacMillan Photo.

The Indiana Eventing Association Horse Trials' dressage competition made use of arenas which were first developed on the property in the late 1980s when Indianapolis hosted the 1987 Pan American Games. The arena footing and rails have been revamped over the last 10 years thanks to cooperation between the Indiana Horse Council, the Johnson County Parks system, and the various breed and discipline groups that actively use the Hoosier Horse Park (HHP).

A member of the Ground Jury, Wayne Quarles, did the test ride at 7:10 a.m. before the first competition ride at 7:30. Even though he rode “hors concours” (which means he did not compete for a placing or prize), Quarles’ dressage score would have been good enough for second place in the Training Three-Day. Quarles holds "R" USEF judge cards in dressage and eventing, is a “R” Eventing TD, an FEI “I” International Event Judge, and a United States Pony Club National Examiner. He has officiated at the Rolex Three-Day Event CCI4* competition.

Both three-day divisions were quite competitive with tightly-bunched scores at the top of the leaderboard. In the Training division, the top eight riders have scores under 40 with the remaining two scoring in the 40s. Less than a point separates the leaders, Corinna Garcia, 30, Fort Wayne, Ind., and her 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Gun Slinger from second placed Kathy Baar, Nicholasville, Ky., who rode her 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Quick Car. Sitting in third only 2.7 points behind the leader is Mary McSweeny, Belleville, Wis., who rode her 12-year-old home-bred American Warmblood mare Indian Summer.

Garcia said that she actually completed a long-format three-day years ago when they were common in the upper levels of eventing. “But it’s a treat to do one again with my young guy [Gun Slinger, a.k.a. ‘Slinger’],” she said. “He’s got a real, laid-back kind of attitude. He is very kind and very willing and just a smart kind of cookie. I’ve had him for three years. Since Slinger is young, I want to use the full-format to help our partnership and give him a better foundation.”

She is a firm believer in the long-format three-day. “Just to see how the horses change, not so much physically, but mentally, and to see how they come out of it. It really makes us work on our horsemanship,” emphasized Garcia.

Second in the IEA Training Three-Day are Kathy Baar, Nicholasville, Ky., and her 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Quick Car. Kim MacMillan Photo.

Baar, 35, had never done a long-format three-day before this event. She rides with upper-level eventer Cathy Wieschhoff who strongly recommended that she try a long-format event. “I was pretty happy with my horse. He did really well. I was a little bit tight this being my first three-day and the big arena. But I was super happy with him and the preparation was there. My horse is a pretty nice guy and he’s really laid back. He has a tendency to sleep rather than run off, so I spend a lot of time waking him up when we go somewhere. I’m interested to see what he feels like after the ten-minute box, because I will have dismounted and there will be a chance for him to think maybe the day is done. So, I am kind of ready for some different horses that show up at the end of that. I am excited to see what comes out.”

Mary McSweeney from Belleville, Wis., and her 12-year-old home-bred American Warmblood mare Indian Summer are currently third after dressage in the IEA Training Three-Day Event. Kim MacMillan Photo.

“She’s a handful; she’s a chestnut mare,” laughed McSweeney, 55, who is an anesthesiologist in Madison, Wisconsin, when she described her home-bred mare Indian Summer. “I delivered her. I had a mare who was a really good eventer; she had a good heart, but didn’t quite have the conformation to do the higher levels. So, I bred her to a much more uphill stallion named Indian Art. I’ve trained her [Indian Summer] totally myself.”

Haley Madden, Madison, Wisconsin, and Ingrid Krause’s 9-year-old American Sport Horse mare Ballerina IK put in a smooth, flowing dressage round to take the lead in the Novice Three-Day Event. Kim MacMillan Photo.

In the Novice Three-Day only one point separates first from third place with the top three horse and rider combos scoring under 30. Most of the remainder of the Novice Three-Day scored in the 30s. First after dressage is Haley Madden, Madison, Wis., riding Ingrid Krause’s 9-year-old American Sport Horse mare Ballerina IK with Jennifer McClain, Augusta, Mich., riding Kimberly Eckler’s 13-year-old Quarter Horse gelding Kodak Moment sitting in second, and Whitney Morris, Lexington, Ky., in third riding her 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Carry Me Home.

Haley Madden, 30, rides as a professional since she teaches beginner riding lessons, but she is also finishing her Ph.D. in health science communications this summer. Ballerina IK is an American-bred horse and her barn name is “Bella”. Bella is three-quarters German Riding Pony and one quarter Haflinger. Madden also rode Bella’s dam and granddam. Madden specializes in dressage and says that this is her first three-day. My friend talked me into it. “She felt great today. She just comes out and is ready to go; she also loves to jump. I really don’t care about how we finish in the long-format. My goal is to be here, get over the jumps and learn more about the long format.”

Jenifer McClain, Augusta, Michigan, piloted Kimberly Eckler’s 13-year-old Quarter Horse gelding Kodak Moment to a close second after dressage in the IEA Novice Three-Day. Kim MacMillan Photo.

When Jenifer McClain’s own event horse went lame, Kodak Moment’s owner offered McClain the ride. “Kody” had never evented before, but this spring they did a long-format three-day at The Heart of the Carolinas in South Carolina before coming to Indiana. “He’s very brave and willing. He has the biggest heart in the world. I was really, really happy with the whole ride today overall. He is a hard horse to keep through going from trot to canter, just because he is so compact. We did a lot of counter canter in the warm-up to help him because he was stiff,” she said.

McClain, 35, rides as a professional and operates Skyline Stables in Michigan. She endorses the long-format three-day. “I love the confidence it gives my horses. It is so much more educational. You have to learn fitness. You have to learn fitness for your horse and to know what his normal vital signs. You can’t just come and do one; you have to condition. It is a whole different level. I think it is extremely important for horses do this kind of stuff and that they know how to balance themselves and I think it is helps riders to be a lot more courageous.”

Whitney Morris, Lexington, Kentucky, is all smiles after her test with her 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Carry Me Home. Kim MacMillan Photo.

Whitney Morris, 33, talked about her third place ride on Carry Me Home, who she calls “Miles” around the barn. “He loves he dressage. He really, really settles and goes well. I am actually kind of mad at myself that I didn’t push him for a little bit more, because he was so quiet and willing. But, I was kind of worried that in the big ring with the flowers and the extra judge that if I pushed it might go wrong.”

It is the first long-format three-day for both Morris and Miles. “He’s been pretty difficult to bring along mentally. And, we are at the place where he is very comfortable at Novice and we want to move up to Training. And I thought this would be a great push to get him over that little hump. He was actually brilliant in our first steeplechase practice today. We did each jump once and got the thumbs up from Dorothy and we went on to hack the roads and tracks,” explained Morris.

Sunshine and Education

It was another beautiful day at the HHP with temps again in the high 70s, no rain and fairly low humidity. The words “no rain” mean quite a lot since Indiana has seen one of the top-five rainiest Mays in recorded history this year.

Education about how to do a full-format three-day continued today with Advanced-level eventer and Rolex Kentucky veteran Dorothy Crowell, who led the “Endurance Day Walk-Through” discussion yesterday, conducting a steeplechase schooling session and a three-day course walk. Having the experienced event riders be teachers and mentors at the lower-level three-days is part of the USEA’s support of the Classic Series. This actually gives the entrants in the long-format events more bang for their entry fee bucks because they also get a complimentary clinic and the chance to ask questions in addition to the competition.

The Indiana Eventing Association, the IAE Horse Trials Ground Jury and horse trials office staff, the Hoosier Horse Park staff, and the many volunteers did a great job today! All were encouraging, approachable, friendly and very helpful any time they were asked for something, so kudos to all of them.

Endurance Day Is Next!

The action starts on endurance (cross-country) day at 9 a.m. on Saturday with the first horse and rider starting Phase A. There are two sets of roads and tracks (Phases A and C respectively) and a steeplechase run (Phase B) before going to the ten-minute hold (vet or D box). From there, assuming all pass the veterinary checks in the hold box, it is out onto the cross-country course designed by Jon Wells from Tennessee. The Novice Three-Day course has 18 numbered obstacles with 20 jumping efforts and the Training Three-Day course has 19 numbered jumps with 25 jumping efforts.

Keep up with all the action by following the live scores here.

Erin Sheets, Indianapolis, Indiana, volunteered on dressage day as a score runner. Her job was to collect the dressage test sheets from the judge’s scribes and quickly deliver them to the scorers’ table for tabulation. Her 1-year-old red Boston Terrier Jolene accompanied Sheets to the event. She also brought two Thoroughbreds to compete at the IEA Horse Trials, one in the regular Novice division and one in Beginner Novice. She said that she usually volunteers at the IEA Horse Trials since many hands are needed. Kim MacMillan Photo.

About the USEA Classic Series

The thrill of the 'chase lives on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic long format three-day event!

Long-format events from the Beginner Novice to Preliminary levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. Educational activities are offered at the Classic Series Events. Check out the schedule below, and check here to see if you are qualified!

Thanks to our generous sponsors, the USEA Classic Series Event winners have the opportunity to compete for a variety of prizes including SmartPak engraved halters and leadshanks; the chance to win a year of SmartPaks; Point Two Air Jackets; online subscriptions to Eventing Training Online; USEA logowear; Fleeceworks saddle pads; and Stackhouse saddles!

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