March 25—Raeford, N.C.
Liz Halliday-Sharp bought Deniro Z as a sales horse in 2015, but over the last year since reaching the Fédération Equestre International levels, he’s come into his own, and she’s had to rethink her plan for him.
Today he confirmed her decision to keep him when he won the Cloud 11-Gavilan North LLC Carolina International CIC**, just a few weeks after topping the Pine Top CIC** (Ga.).
“He’s an incredible horse. It’s only his second two-star, and he’s already won two. It’s unreal,” said Halliday-Sharp. “It’s funny because I think he’s going to come into himself. We weren’t really sure what sort of horse he’d be. He was a sales horse, but he’s just become this really awesome dude.”
Halliday-Sharp bought the gelding from Francis Whittington in England, and he’s continued to step up at each level.
“Each level you sort of challenged him, and he was like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ Each one we just thought, ‘Geez!’ He’s been an amazing horse,” she said. “He is his own person, and I think the two of us get on very well, which is important. It’s nice when you produce them from the beginning to really know the horses. He really likes the party. He gets it. He likes to compete, and he nearly always goes in the ring and delivers. We’re great friends, which helps!”
Halliday-Sharp is hoping to move “Niro” up to the advanced level this summer.
“He’s nearly doing advanced now. It’s just solidifying him at each step of the way. He was wowed by the 1.20-meter classes when he first moved up to that, now it’s easy,” she said. “He’s always been that kind of horse that needs that kind of progression—OK, now it’s easy, now we go up to the next level.”
Hannah Sue Burnett only recently took over the ride on RF Demeter from Marilyn Little, and after a run-out on cross-country at their first FEI event at the Red Hills CIC** two weeks ago, Burnett was looking for a confidence-boosting run today.
She got that and more, as the pair finished in second place adding just 2 time penalties.
“I walked the course with Karen [O’Connor] this morning, and she had talked to Marilyn, and we kind of came up with a game plan of how ‘Demi’ likes to be ridden, and I stuck to that plan, and it worked very well. It’s very different than how I ride my horses cross-country. Most of mine go in the contact when they gallop, and she doesn’t like that at all, so every jump after I land, I’m usually holding to kick or just hold, and with her I had to keep reminding myself to stop picking up the contact because she gets very nervous, which is kind of what happened at Red Hills,” she said. “By fence 5 I figured that out, and she took a breath, and I had so much fun. It was such a blast. Everything rode great, and she felt like my horse. That was really cool.”
Burnett is hoping to take Demi to the CIC*** at Chattahoochee Hills (Ga.) in two weeks, then go from there.
“After today—I wasn’t really feeling that [plan] after Red Hills, but today I felt like I could have run around Kentucky she was so amazing. It’s funny once you figure out how they need to be ridden,” she said.
Matt Brown was thrilled just to have BCF Belicoso out competing this weekend, and he was even happier when they won the CIC* today with a clear show jumping round.
An alternate for the Pan American Games (Canada) in 2015, the gelding had a minor tendon injury and Brown gave him a lot of time to recover.
Carolina was his second full event back.
“He felt great. I think the break and the time rebuilding was actually very good for him because he feels a lot stronger, and doesn’t have the base of fitness obviously, so we need to take out time to build him up, but he’s just a super fun horse to have in the barn,” he said. “Not only does he have a great personality, but he’s super fun to jump. His dressage has come along the most since we were doing a lot of flatwork during the rehab, so I was really happy with his dressage tests. This event I actually wasn’t freaking out the whole time on cross-country worrying about him. I let him gallop a little bit more and he feels great.”
Brown will see where the season takes “Holden,” but for now he’s planning on The Fork CIC** (N.C.) as his next run.
Click here for full results.