Devon, Pa.—Sept. 29
Cecily Clark spends most of her weekends at events supporting her husband Matt Brown, but this weekend she got to step into the spotlight herself as she cantered down centerline at her first CDI at Dressage At Devon.
Clark rode Ringwood Galaxy, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp—Clover Dame, Clover Hill), in the Intermediaire I CDI*** today, scoring a 64.51 percent for 16th place.
“They were running early, and I was so busy thinking about the fact that I didn’t get to do any trot work in my warm-up that it didn’t give me a chance to be nervous!” said Clark. “It was OK. I had a couple of little mistakes, but it was fine. He felt good in there. I’m always sitting there thinking, this could be better, and that could be better. It was just fun to be in there with him. I just love him.”
“Galaxy” came to Brown and Clark in 2006 when they were still based in California. He was competed to the preliminary level by Derek di Grazia and was meant to be Brown’s prospect.
After Clark started rehabbing him from a minor injury though, it was clear they had a good partnership.
“I never got him back,” said Brown with a laugh. “Cecily really took her time in the beginning to establish this great relationship with him.”
Galaxy didn’t love the cross-country, so he and Clark started pursuing dressage together. They’ve competed on and off over the years, but this year they made Devon a goal.
Clark started out as a hunter/jumper rider but has been riding dressage for several years. The couple moved to Pennsylvania in 2015 to focus on Brown’s career.
“I was really nervous coming here because I don’t show a lot,” Clark said. “I thought, I’m not going to fit in, I’m an outsider. I follow [Matt] around to the events, so I’m used to the event community, but I’m not an eventer. I don’t show a lot so I don’t really feel like a dressage person, I sort of feel like this in-between person. I was very intimidated coming. Are my boots the wrong color? I don’t have enough outfits! I definitely don’t think I had enough bling! But everyone’s been so nice, and there’s been some incredible horses to watch, so it’s been really inspiring.”
Brown’s been enjoying the role reversal this weekend as he grooms for Clark, although Clark admitted it was really hard to let go of that.
“We’re lucky the horse was as shiny as it was because with me as the groom, I don’t know if it was going to be to Cecily’s standards!” said Brown. “I like doing the grooming thing, but I’m not a very good groom. I like being at the show and just being able to support her and be nervous in that way and not be nervous about showing. It’s nice for me to watch her come out and be at a show. I watch her all the time at home and think it’s great and amazing, but it’s nice for me to see her go out and show everybody else how good it is. When I’m watching them in the ring, that’s really what I see—that amazing connection. The way she rides him, it never looks like they’re trying.”
Clark said showing isn’t very important to her because she’s a bit of a perfectionist. Since she’s not always able to keep Galaxy show ring fit while traveling with Brown to events, she hasn’t been consistently showing. She’s been able to work consistently this year with Pierre Cousyn to prepare for Devon.
“Just getting the time in to focus on him as much as I want has been tough with [Matt’s] career being a priority,” she said. “But this was a big goal. He’s getting older, and I felt like I may as well do this with him. I really enjoy the training, and I really enjoy the relationship that I have with him, so for me it’s about challenging myself there and trying to get that as good as possible knowing that he’s an event horse. He’s a really well-bred event horse! Who knows when I’ll ever have an opportunity for this again on a horse like him.”
At home, Galaxy is turned out with Brown’s four-star horse Super Socks BCF to keep him in line.
He enjoys popping over a jump from time to time, and ponying the babies. He and Clark have also given bridleless and saddleless demonstrations over the years.
“I never did ponies, but he’s sort of like the pony I never had,” said Clark, 37. “He’s just my horse. I would like to clone him and give one of him to all of the people that I love because he’s just the horse that everyone should get to have. He’s just so sweet and kind, and he just has such a good heart. He does nothing wrong, and when he does it’s funny!”
“We feel very lucky to have Galaxy,” Brown added. “For Cecily he’s been one of those once in a lifetime horses. It’s been really fun to be at Devon and be a part of this big show and get away from the eventing scene and just be in a new environment.”
We’re on site at Dressage At Devon to bring you news and tons of photos. Check back all weekend at coth.com, and check out the Oct. 22 print edition of the Chronicle for much more.