October in Maryland means only one thing for fans of Classic format eventing – the SmartPak/USEA Training Three-Day at the Waredaca Horse Trials. This year 27 riders competed in three divisions for the chance to experience the ‘thrill of the chase. The winners of each of the three divisions led wire to wire.
Nancy Wise and Carousel Man Dance To The Blue Ribbon
In division A, Nancy Wise riding her own 10-year-old Canadian Sport Horse, Carousel Man, added nothing to her dressage score of 33.2 throughout the weekend to finish with a blue ribbon. “I only started competing at horse trials in 2005 at the "young" age of 50 and up to that point had never ridden a 20 meter circle or jumped in competition although I have ridden since I was a child. So I am the true adult amateur!” explained Nancy.
In 2006 Nancy bought Carousel Man as a young five-year-old primarily to be her field hunter. Although quite green, he seemed to have an aptitude for dressage so Nancy took him to one Beginner Novice, moved up to Novice, and was competing at Training level by their second season together.
“Almost as soon as we moved up to Training level I had the T3D in my mind as a goal,” said Nancy. “I read all about it on the Waredaca website and also in all of the articles that I could find about the long format three-day. I went to Rolex in 2004 or 2005 which was the last or one of the last years for the long format and of course the steeplechase phase really appealed to me. The idea of being able to compete in the same phases but at a level that was within my ability to ride safely was very exciting to me. I heard nothing but great things from those who competed at the Area II T3D. In the end it took us three years to attain the qualifying cross-country rides in one season that are needed to compete in the T3D. It seemed I was always one short of what was necessary. We also struggled with show jumping and at one point I almost gave up thinking that it just wasn't what my horse was cut out to do. Early on though I was introduced by a friend to Kristin Bachman an upper level rider and instructor and we have been training with her for three and a half years now. She has never given up on us even when I was so discouraged I was ready to sell my horse or try another equestrian sport. She has played a significant role in our success and I have learned a lot from her about the sport and also how to appreciate the horse that I have and his potential.”
Endurance day is what makes the Classic Format so unique of an event and is the favorite part for nearly all who compete in the Training Three-Days. “Steeplechase of course was my favorite part!” explained Nancy. “But that is the short answer. It is hard to say in just a few words or sentences because it was all such a great experience. I met such an amazing variety of people from all different professions with all different types of horse and riding backgrounds. All of them were amateurs just like me and we were together 12 hours a day for almost four days. You really form a bond with people over that amount of time and especially in the rain which we had quite a lot of the first 24 hours! But everyone from the organizers to the volunteers to the competitors all contributed to what was a unique, rewarding and memorable four days. I am happy and thankful that I had the opportunity to compete in the T3D. It is true what everyone says about it. It improves your horse's performance as well as your own riding. It give you confidence as a rider and exposes you to a format that although no longer an official part of the upper level eventing world is affording hundreds of riders at the lower levels the opportunity to experience what many professionals have in years past. The rush of the long format 3D!”
A Royal Win for Kristen Parris and Lord Ivanhoe
The Training B Division was won by Kristen Parris and her and Nancy Girzaitis’s six-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Lord Ivanhoe who finished on the lowest score of the competition – an impressive 29. Kristen has only been eventing since 2007, but has owned Ivan since he was only six months old. “Ivan’s breeder, Carol Girzaitis passed away from Ovarian Cancer when he was only three months old,” explained Kristen. “Nancy, Carol's sister had taken over ownership of both Ivan and his dam, Escapade. A mutual friend introduced Nancy and I and the rest is history. Carol named Ivan, Lord Ivanhoe, as the Lord came from his sire (Mine Lord Prince), and Ivanhoe, means a gift from god. Ivan got the nickname "goober" at a very young age and it has stuck! He's always getting into something, always interested in meeting new friends, gets distracted at the drop of a hat. When it comes down to it though he's all business when he needs to be and he has the best work ethic I could ever ask for. He wears his heart on his sleeve and we've grown to be so close and he is so very special to me. Over the years Nancy and I have formed a great friendship, and she has become my business manager as well. Carol wanted to do so many things with Ivan and wanted so badly to see him compete, so I'm just trying to live out Carol's dream!”
Differing from many of her fellow competitor’s favorite part of the competition, Kristen said that Dressage was her favorite part of the Waredaca Training Three-Day. “Ivan was amazing! I was feeling quite nervous, but thankfully Vanessa Swartz, my Dressage trainer has a good way of understanding my perfection tendencies and having me work through it and get the best possible ride out of myself. Walking out of the ring, I knew we just gave it all we had, I was literally holding back tears as I made eye contact with Vanessa and that test was something that we had been working so hard towards and we finally delivered. Sue Smithson (one of our judges) came out of the car and mentioned what a lovely test we had just preformed, and that took my breath away. I was in the moment and so proud of my goober, he really grew up and owned that ring!”
Ivan is now on a well-deserved vacation and Kristen has the big move up to Preliminary in mind for the near future.
Grand Cru Bounces Back to Win Junior Division with Nicholas Hansen
The final division was of the event, the Junior section was won by Nicholas Hansen and his own Grand Cru, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
“I got Grand Cru three-years-ago when I was 13 and going through a growth spurt,” said Nicholas. “My previous pony was an experienced eventer who would jump anything in front of him. In contrast, Cru was primarily a dressage horse who makes me work for every jump. My trainer Danny Warrington and Cru have taught me a lot about jumping over the last three years!”
“In 2009, we went Novice and placed second at the American Eventing Championships,” continued Nicholas. “In 2010, we moved up to Training and placed third at the AEC. Unfortunately, while there, Cru got a fungal abscess in his eye - he went directly from the show in Georgia to New Bolton Hospital in Pennsylvania. Despite aggressive treatment, his eye got worse and then he developed right dorsal colitis from the banamine that was being given to treat his pain. He was so sick that he had to be stabilized for weeks until he could go to surgery to remove the abscess. When he went into surgery, the doctors said there was a 90% chance that Cru would lose his eye, but fortunately they were able to save his eye with a corneal transplant. Three months later, in December 2010, Cru came home to recuperate.”
“When we started 2011, we weren't sure how long it would take to bring Cru back into condition after everything he went through. But, Cru is a trooper and came back better than ever. He won at Stuart in July, placed second in 3rd level division at Dressage4Kids festival, took me to a successful "B traditional", Pony Club rating in August, and wound up at the AEC in September 2011. Despite a huge split between the judges on his dressage score that placed him 17th, Cru jumped beautifully and climbed up to finish 10th place. Since then, he won at Morven Park at the end of the September and the win at Waredaca Three-Day was an exciting way to finish the year.”
Nicholas is planning on moving Cru up to Preliminary next year in addition to moving up the Fourth Level in Dressage, and doing his “A” Pony Club Rating at the end of the next season.
The Waredaca Training Three-Day offered a multitude of other special awards in addition to the traditional ribbons for winners. The special award winners included:
Best Conditioned - Adorion
Best Turned-Out - Lara Chance
Oldest Horse - Grand Cru
Oldest Competitor - Mary Millhiser
Best Mare (Brown Betty Award) - Leader's Finale
Best Area 2 Adult Rider Member - Suzy Gehris (pictured right)
Five Star Tack Sportsmanship Award - Stan Gargiulo
Best Groom - Clair McElwain
Best Thoroughbred - Patagonia II
Cross-Country Enthusiasm Award - Janiine Babcock
The SmartPak Equine/USEA Classic Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors: Title Sponsor: SmartPak Equine; Presenting Sponsor: Stackhouse Saddles; Silver Level Sponsor: Fleeceworks; Legacy Sponsor: Five Star Tack Elite Sponsors: FITS and Nunn Finer
Leslie Mintz/USEA Photos.
The 2020 show season has looked a bit different than any of us anticipated, and for many people season-planning was placed on hold. In an episode that was recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicole Brown and Diarm Byrne welcome international five-star eventer Will Coleman and British high performance veterinarian Spike "The Vet" Milligan to the show to discuss some of the considerations for planning your season from each of their unique perspectives.
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