"People ask me, 'Did you name the horse after yourself? Are you that conceited?'" Creech laughed. "It's the name she came with! It's so funny that it's not only Diana, but Diana C. She was meant to be, and I'm really excited about having her."
Creech and Diana C showed they work well as a pair in the mare's 2014 debut in the show ring on Jan. 18. They earned a score of 67.297 percent to take second place in Fourth Level Test 2 at the Gold Coast Opener national show, held at The Stadium at PBIEC in Wellington, FL.
"I'm ecstatic," Creech said after her ride. "I just rode her quietly through. There's a lot more power in there. She's a very, very special mare. I really love her, and she'll be something really good."
Diana C, a bay Hanoverian mare by Leatherdale Farms' stallion Damsey, will turn 7 this year. Doug and Louise Leatherdale purchased Diana C after seeing her in Germany in 2010 at the prestigious Herwart von der Decken-Show, where she was named champion dressage mare. Creech has been training the mare for about a year.
Diana C has competed lightly thus far, so the Gold Coast Opener was a good opportunity for her to gain some experience. Creech was impressed with how well the young mare handled the atmosphere and the challenge of shipping in to compete at an unfamiliar venue.
"I'm really glad that she stayed focused and with me," Creech said. "That was my main goal. I know she can do all the movements - that is not a problem for her. So all I wanted was for her to come out here and be happy and relaxed, stay focused and stay with me. She was super. I'm very excited about her."
"I know Doug and Louise [Leatherdale] will be too," she added.
Creech plans to keep working at Fourth Level with Diana C and give her time to get completely comfortable before moving up.
"She's still so young," she said. "We'll work on making her stronger and confirming where she's at now. Once she's really confirmed in that kind of work, going into the small tour is not going to be hard for her. It's just taking her to shows and getting some experience."
Creech also rode Hallmark 3 in his Intermediaire II debut at the Gold Coast Opener. The pair earned a score of 66.382 percent and finished fourth in a large FEI Test of Choice class. Hallmark 3, who will turn 10 this year, is a black Hanoverian gelding by the Leatherdales' late stallion, His Highness.
"It was very exciting to ride him in his first Intermediaire II," Creech said. "He did some beautiful work. He was a happy, good boy."
She said the pirouettes and half-passes were highlights for Hallmark 3, and she was pleased with his positive effort in stepping up a level.
"I don't want to push him too early to get into the Grand Prix," Creech said. "I like the Intermediaire II test and it's a good challenge for him. He'll be a great Grand Prix horse."
Creech will continue competing her lineup of top horses owned by Leatherdale Farms throughout the show season in Wellington.