Parker, Colo.—Sept. 2
When Chris Kawcak, the overnight leader in the novice rider division, dropped a rail near the end of his show jumping course he opened the door for Anna Howell, who was sitting in second on Bodacious Affair.
“He was perfect. We got caught in the storm delay on Friday, so we ended up doing dressage on Saturday, but it worked out for us,” Howell, 39, said. “[Beau is] pretty easy. He’s kind of the same, every time he comes out.”
Howell promised her husband she was “just looking” at the Shire-Thoroughbred cross she’d spotted on the internet when she went to see Beau as a yearling in Texas.
“Then I called my husband after I saw [Beau] and said ‘I bought a horse!’ ” Howell, Wichita, Kansas, said. “Beau just turned 15 years old and our bond is incredible. We know each other inside and out. I’ve done all the work myself [on him] with only a little outside help from trainers and he’s just been easy and amazing.”
Howell grew up riding on a farm in Colorado, “mostly bareback, galloping around and jumping anything we could find.” But as one of nine children she couldn’t afford to show. Howell held on to her competitive dreams until she could afford her own horse, then wanted to start with a clean slate. Her success with Beau inspired her to purchase an Irish Sport Horse filly, now a yearling, to eventually fill Beau’s considerable shoes.
“My favorite part about the AEC was all of the people that I met,” Howell said. “I was on the adult team challenge. Being at the bottom of Area IV, I actually don’t compete in it very often so I don’t know many people in my area. Obviously the win is great but everyone was so friendly, and the camaraderie.”
Tamra Smith and MB MaiStein put in a foot-perfect show jumping round to assure their victory in the novice horse division. They finished on their dressage score of 28.1.
“The stadium round was fantastic,” Smith said. “He’s a little over-qualified for the show jumping because he’s so good at it. He was a little up in there and the lines are almost a little tight for them, so I had to kind of wrangle him in. His stride is naturally huge, but he’s so careful and such a good boy. I think I cross-cantered a few turns, but he’s 5 so it happens. I was just really pleased with how he handled the pressure.”
Erin Contino and her 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Handsome Ransom (Desert Warrior—St Casmir’s Secret, Demidoff) concluded their trip to the 2018 AEC by finishing on their dressage score of 25.8 and winning the novice amateur division.
“My plan going into stadium was to be patient and keep my nerves under control,” Contino said. “But in warm-up I didn’t have very much horse. Everything was just really dull, almost overly quiet. So then I just had to focus on just keeping him in front of my leg, even if I didn’t see my distance, I just had to focus on keeping him coming. I guess it worked out, I got a little lucky, but sometimes luck goes your way. My favorite memory of this AEC will be the fact that coming in to today, both my husband [Chris Kawcak] and I were in first place in our divisions. I think that’s pretty special. It’s just fun to be able to share it with him.”
Amanda Boyce and Mercury took over the top spot in the junior novice division by going double-clear in show jumping. They finished on a score of 32.3.
“This is my first AEC and my first time at the [Colorado] Horse Park,” Boyce said. “[Mercury] was perfect the whole show. We met a few of our goals and the victory lap was really cool.
“The cross-country course was really good. It was really challenging but not too bad. My trainer and I have a system, which is zip (which is forward), counter bend, steady, and then [go] quick. We’ve been practicing that a lot.”
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