Elkton, Md.-Oct. 13
At this time last year, Ben's eventing career was just beginning. With Phillip Dutton in the saddle, Ben took a resounding lead in the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI*** after the first day of dressage competition. The horse's test scored 47.2 penalties.
"It's been a quick progression up the levels for Ben," said Dutton, of West Grove, Pa. "Today he was a bit softer, which was my goal. He's always such a flamboyant mover, but sometimes he looks a bit tense."
Dutton started competing Ben, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Mr. Wizard—Baroque) owned by Team Rebecca LLC, this spring. Together the two topped the advanced division at The Event At Rebecca Farm (Mont.) in July. Dutton admitted the climb up the levels is nothing short of amazing for a horse who was running novice last October.
"I bought him off Julie Richards; she got sent the horse," said Dutton. "He'd been a family horse for a friend of hers, and he'd done a lot of show jumping training and dressage training, but he hadn't actually competed. I'm pretty excited about him, and I'm so grateful that Sarah [Broussard Kelly] bought him for me to ride. This is going to be a big test for him, obviously, but I've been galloping him like crazy, so hopefully he's fit enough."
Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries moved into second with 54.4 penalties while Nina Ligon and Tipperary Liadhnan took the third slot (56.2 penalties).
In the CCI**, Andrea Leatherman and Mystic My stepped into first with 47.5 penalties, just ahead of Karl Slezak and VDL Ulando H's 48.9 penalties. Leatherman and Mystic My, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare owned jointly by Leatherman and Suzan Johnston, have been working hard on their dressage during their partnership.
"She was pretty wild at first," Leatherman said. "She would get 40s in the dressage at training level and then have a few rails. We've been moving her up the levels, and she always keeps getting better. She's not the easiest horse, but she does try really hard."
Dressage for the CCI** and CCI*** resumes in the morning. Live scores available online at EventEntries.