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.
Hannah Warner wears many hats: student at the University of Kentucky, UK Eventing Team President, competitor, and head groom for Alexa Ehlers. Fitting in all of her roles and responsibilities into her day-to-day life can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that Warner finds rewarding. The college senior is working towards a business degree through UK's online business program, so Warner is able to get creative with her schedule to pursue all of her academic and eventing related goals.
The Area III Championships kicked off the 2022 USEA Area Championship season June 24-26 at the Stable View Summer H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina. Offering 12 different championship divisions from Intermediate to Beginner Novice, the championships were highly contested as riders from all across Area III put in a gallant effort in hopes of being deemed division champion. The USEA caught up with many of the individual champions to look back on their performances in Aiken that helped them bring home the top prize.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program. USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program, which aims to creates a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are just two months away. The AEC moves to the mountains this year, taking place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana across a long Labor Day weekend.