The final day of The Dutta Corp Tryon International Three-Day Event at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) saw the new national champion crowned at the CCI 4*-L level Sunday after a thrilling Show Jumping competition. Woods Baughman (USA) claimed the Dutta Corp/USEF 4*-L Eventing National Championship with C’est La Vie 135 on a score of 29.4, enjoying a sweet comeback after overcoming a broken back and improving from a third place finish in 2020. Sweetening the victory even more was finishing just ahead of his coach, Sharon White (USA) aboard Claus 63, her own 2012 Holsteiner gelding (Catoo x Levisto), who wrapped up their weekend on a score of 36.7 for reserve after adding .8 penalties for time to their total. Will Coleman (USA) and Chin Tonic HS had one rail down to finish third, scoring an even 38 points with the 2012 Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Quinar) owned by Hyperion Stud LLC.
Baughman was the only CCI 4*-L rider to pilot his mount to a double-clear over the Cross-Country course set by Captain Mark Phillips (GBR), solidifying his lead heading into Show Jumping competition in Tryon Stadium. The goal was to keep the 2008 Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Aarking xx) owned in partnership with James Baughman Jr. and Kim Baughman calm and relaxed, Baughman reported, but also himself:
“On Cross-Country yesterday, he was such a machine. I wasn’t sure about the time at the end, so I just dropped the reins. I let him do his thing, and we ended up well inside the time. Overnight, I was just keeping him as relaxed as possible, so he didn’t get all tight, especially with it being so cold this morning.” Though worried about his horse’s energy after flying around the track on Saturday, it was evident that C’est La Vie 135 was full of run after his win, Baughman noted. “He had so much energy left today that I was still holding him back in the Show Jumping. I felt pretty confident going in. I actually lost control a little bit in the victory gallop, but it’s all good!
“I wasn’t doing so well this morning,” Baughman admitted of his own trouble relaxing before the final phase. “Mia was making fun of me at breakfast because my hand was shaking so bad while I was just trying to drink coffee! He is so genuine and he jumps so well, though, that by the time I was done warming up, I was quite relaxed. I just had faith in my horse and let him do his thing.”
Baughman, as part of his national championship win, was awarded a free international flight with The Dutta Corp., allowing him to compete internationally wherever he chooses. That decision will have to wait, Baughman revealed. “I just realized a couple of weeks ago that that was a possibility. I don’t know which event I want to go to, but I definitely want to get over there [to Europe] as soon as possible. Maybe in the fall. We’ll see.” In the meantime, “it feels really good to have won. Especially because the year didn’t start so well, to have it end with this is a really nice change.”
For Coleman, the weekend was an important test of Chin Tonic’s abilities as an advanced mount, in only his third start at the level and his first CCI 4*-L attempt. “We’ve been carefully producing the horse since he was just a baby, and this was a very proud weekend for us.”
“Chin” had one rail down in the Tryon Stadium to finish in third place, but Coleman said he can’t be disappointed with the result. “He handled the whole weekend with class and showed everyone how exciting his future could be if we just keep doing the right things by him. I’m just really proud of him and proud of everybody in my program, and I think that we can be very happy with this result. We’re a bit bummed to have a rail, but it happens. I think he did what he could do for me right now.”
For White, who coaches Baughman, it was a fulfilling weekend with Claus 63 and she saw her mount’s capabilities shining through after his first long-format competition:
“He’s a super show jumper. Sometimes he’s a little too brave.” After contesting Cross-Country, White had to work to get back in sync with him, but said he “really was good to listen to me in the warm-up and loosened up well. I just did some low wide jumps to get us back and working together. And then, he was a real competitor in the ring. I was really thrilled with that, because you never know.”
The same was true for Claus after Cross-Country, where White realized that “he’s going to dig deep” when called upon, she recapped. “I was curious to see how he felt and how he ended up, you know, how he felt in his body and whatnot. Horses will tell you how much they are competitors, and how much they put into it. And he definitely told me he’s going to dig deep.”
Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z made light work of the CCI 4*-S track to win the weekend, enjoying their first outing post-Olympics and closing out the 2021 competition season with a win. Dutton concluded his Cross-Country round on a score of 35.6, adding 6.4 time penalties to their Show Jumping score. Colleen Rutledge (USA) and Covert Rights, the 2006 Thoroughbred cross gelding (BFF Incognito x Covert Operation) owned in partnership with FSG Inc., concluded their weekend in reserve with a score of 40.6, having accrued 9.2 time penalties on course. Sharon White (USA) and Cooley On Show, her own 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ricardo x Grand D’espagne), added 7.2 time penalties to their score to earn third on a total of 43.2.
There were no riders within the time, with all three podium finishers keeping under ten penalty points to stay on top. Dutton and the 2008 Zangersheide gelding (Asca x Babouche VH Gehucht Z) owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Morgan, Simon Roosevelt, and Thomas Tierney had as relaxing a weekend as they could manage, Dutton reported.
Ariel Grald (USA) rode Forrest Gump 124 to a win in the CCI 3*-L Division, keeping her Dressage score of 27.7 all weekend. Boyd Martin (USA) and Fedarman B, the 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Eurocommerce Washington x Fedor) owned by the Annie Goodwin Syndicate, produced a double-clear stadium round to end up reserve on a score of 30.2. Improving from fifth to finish in third place thanks to a double-clear round in Tryon Stadium was Kendal Lehari (CAN), who piloted Audacious, her own 2013 Canadian Sport Horse gelding, to a total score of 31 points.
“He’s a real competitor and loves everything about competing. He’s certainly not laidback at a show, and he’s always trying to put his best foot forward. It was good for me to get him back out and compete. It was the ideal event and division to bring him back for,” Dutton assessed. “It was challenging enough, but it wasn’t too stiff and the conditions were pretty close to ideal. The footing and everything else were spot on.
“It probably rode just a little bit harder than it walked,” Dutton reviewed of the Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) CCI 4*-S course. “Obviously, he’s a pretty experienced horse, so he was able to step up to the challenge pretty easily. We’ll give him a short break, then gear him up for next year. Ideally, I’d like to maybe head to Badminton next year, so we’ll see how everything goes,” Dutton concluded.
Grald and the 2011 Hanoverian gelding (Fuerst Nymphenburg x Amerigo Vespucci XX) owned by Anne Eldridge paired up in late July, and have already gelled together nicely, she shared.
“He was amazing! He’s a new horse for me, and I’m just getting to know him. We’ve had a few events together now, and he’s the ultimate professional. I just try to give him a good ride … it’s really all credit to the horse! He’s a good boy and a real trier.
“This is the most atmosphere and biggest venue I’ve taken him to so far. I was honestly just coming here to get to know him and ride him in a different environment and on different courses,” Grald detailed. “He was super on Cross-Country. He charged right up the hill at the end and was still full of run. He felt super in his body and was really good today. He’s a good jumper and really wants to be careful.”
Grald is a frequent competitor in TIEC Eventing competitions, and is based in Southern Pines, NC, with easy access to the venue. “Tryon is just amazing,” she raved. “There’s a reason why I come to as many of these events as I can! We’re lucky that I’m based just over three hours away. I take every opportunity I can to bring horses here because they learn a lot from the venue. There’s a lot to look at and it’s a good atmosphere to produce horses for the future. It’s a good test even for the older horses to put them in the bigger rings. We love coming here.”
She concluded by acknowledging the support around her, saying, “I just want to thank Annie Eldridge, who is the owner of the horse and my sponsor. She’s an incredible lady and her generosity has allowed me to get to where I am today. It’s a journey that we’ve had together for the last few years, and I couldn’t do it without her!”
Tik Maynard (CAN) and Galileo galloped home with a win in the CCI2*-L, the largest division of the week, scoring a 21.8 on the weekend after adding .4 penalties to their total. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) took second and fourth, scoring 25.1 with Quite Nice 11, the 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quadros 3 x Carentino 2) owned by Emilie Mudd, and earning fourth aboard Caison, the 2008 Hanoverian gelding owned by Larry Stevenson, with a score of 28.7. Skyler Decker (USA) and Cooley Monsoon, her own 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding, scored a 27.7 for third place honors after their double-clear performance.
“I knew Galileo was tired,” Maynard revealed after his winning round. “He felt tired in the warm-up, but he really tried so hard for me, and I was really happy with him.” Maynard emphasized that he’s walking away from the weekend full of gratitude. “Thanksgiving is coming up, and I just feel so grateful and thankful for the horses, my parents, my wife, my son, my mother-in-law, and my owners and sponsors … I just feel very lucky and privileged to be here.”
There was a strong Canadian contingent at the venue all weekend, from the young rider teams to the riders at the highest level. Maynard complimented the venue, and said that he felt like he was on vacation with his family and not just competing at the international level.
“I love it here. We try to put Tryon on our calendar every year and find any excuse to get up here. My wife’s family is from this area and her mom still lives here, so we have a lot of connections here. I love the mountains and I love the weather, and it’s such a nice place.”
Boyd Martin (USA) had never before competed at the CCI 1*-L level prior to this weekend, he revealed, but he took the win with Gestalt on a score of 27.7, adding just .4 penalty points to his Dressage score. Chloe Johnson (USA) and Chilli Bean, who held the lead all weekend, dropped a single rail in Tryon Stadium to finish in reserve on a score of 30.3 with her 2011 New Zealand Sport Horse mare (Chilli Morning x Steal the Show). Third place went to Claudia Oppedisano (CAN) and her own God of Thunder, the 2006 Thoroughbred Cross gelding (Matter of Courage x Unknown), who combined for a total score of 31.7 over the weekend.
Martin and the 2012 Mecklenburger gelding (Gloriosus 1 x Colander 2) owned by Sherry Pound were paired together for this competition due to his owner recovering from an injury. Martin was thrilled to take over the reins and finish out his 2021 competition season at TIEC, he detailed.
“He’s a new horse for me. I managed to break the owner’s leg teaching her,” he kidded, “and so that’s how I, sort of, acquired the horse. But, Sherry Pratt Pound, a fellow Australian, she’s a great lady. I teach a little bit at her farm in Texas and am very grateful that she’s left the horse with me while her leg heals up.”
The CCI 1*-L competitors closed out the weekend in Tryon Stadium, with competitors unexpectedly competing under the lights due to a large number of entries in the three-day event, and it was a first-time experience for many riders. While Martin is no stranger to TIEC, nor to high stakes jumping competition beneath the lights, he was experiencing a first of his own.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever competed at the one-star level, actually, so I’ve never done Modified or anything like that,” he revealed. For Martin, the unique ending at Tryon was a great way to finish off his year. “It was a great weekend. I’m glad the end of the year is here, and it’s been an epic year of Eventing. What better place to finish it than at Tryon? This is a magnificent venue. Obviously, world class facilities, brilliant courses and very competitive fields. And it was kind of cool jumping under the lights, and I’m really pleased with the horse. [The weekend was] good.”
After a one-year gap, eventers from all over are ready to gather together and engage in four days of seminars, presentations, and gatherings at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. This year’s convention begins Thursday morning at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Hotel and continues through the weekend.
Over 40 horses competed in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old East and West Coast Championships in 2015. The YEH East Coast Championships were held during the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland, while the YEH West Coast Championships took place at Galway Downs in Temecula, California. Following 2015’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2015 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have gone on to make their mark on the upper levels of eventing.
Nicole Brown is joined by a panel of experts including top FEI veterinarian Dr. Emily Sandler-Burtness, five-star eventer Will Faudree, and professional eventer and horsemanship expert Tik Maynard to answer all of your biggest questions.
I’d like to start my Holiday Pressure Proof Tip with an excerpt from my new book Bolder Braver Brighter.
"Imagine leaning against a tree while your horse grazes happily beside you. You feel the warm sunshine and breeze on your cheek, hear the chirping of nearby birds, and smell the fragrance of the grass and wildflowers. Your horse nickers quietly and all you can think about is how lucky you are to have this horse and this sport and this life… right here, right now.