Everyone in eventing knows the name Phillip Dutton - but, have you heard of the little pony that could named Phillip Buttons?
When Lilyanna Wood first saw the then 6-year-old German Riding Pony by Makuba, she knew the gelding was meant for her. Wood is no stranger to producing eventing mounts, but the start of her relationship with the pony she now affectionately calls Spike for his sassy personality was unique.
“Three years ago, I was horseless,” she explained. “I had sold my last mount and I had my eyes open for another, and was even working two jobs to make sure I could afford it. One day I came home and my mom had gotten several horses in; while they were all nice horses I saw him and just immediately fell in love.”
The two have formed an inseparable partnership in the years since. Although the gelding the gelding had been left sitting in a field for some time after having been originally broke and presented challenges for Wood along the way, she guided him through his first dressage work, jumping exercises, and cross-country experiences.
“For the longest time after I had acquired him, he would dump me several times a week,” she laughed. “He was definitely a bit of a handful but I love the challenge.”
The pair are currently competing at the Training level and swiftly moving up the divisions with his newfound skill in the dressage. According to Wood, Spike has always had a natural jumping ability but struggled with understanding and riding through the dressage phase. The two dedicated much time with dressage trainer Jenni Hogan in Nashville and are currently spending a year in Wellington, Fla. under the tutelage of dressage professional Laura Ashley Killian to lock in their knowledge before the eventing season begins.
However, if you ask Wood, she will tell you that the biggest breakthrough she feels they have had so far is successfully attending the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds at the Kentucky Horse Park this past year.
“I quite honestly was not sure we would ever get to go and compete at something of that caliber,” she explained. “When we first started training him, he was a bit uncontrollable. So to compete at such an event and to hold our own was really a testament to the work that both he and I have put in and to how our partnership has grown.”
She is especially grateful for the dedication of trainers Danny Moguel and Zully Castrejon whom she says never gave up on the pair despite some antics from Spike, and are the reason he is so successful today.
Spike owes his cleverly thought of name to Wood’s mother who got the play-on-words from a friend with a mount by the name of Boyd Marden, of course after eventing champion Boyd Martin.
“My mom just thought it was so funny when she heard about her friends' horse and so when she came up with this I just went along with it,” Wood laughed. “He does, however, live up to his name.”
Unfortunately, an untimely tire malfunction incident kept the pony from meeting his namesake at a clinic he was set to attend in 2021, but Wood is confident the opportunity will arise again when the time is right.
The young rider has big plans for the aptly named pony, whom she hopes to continue to produce up the eventing levels to at least Preliminary.
Does your horse or pony have an extra-special or unique show name? We want to hear all about them. Email Meagan DeLisle at [email protected] to tell us more and for a chance to be featured in our next What's In a Name column on useventing.com.
Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.
Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.
The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.