It all started with a phone call in March. Tamra Smith’s good friend Leigh Mesher called to inform her that she would be withdrawing her horse Mar De Amor from the March 4-6 Twin Rivers Horse Trials in Paso Robles, Calif. Mesher is pregnant, and her doctor thought it was time to take a break from riding. Smith jokingly mentioned to Mesher that she would ride the gelding anytime. And thus the partnership began.
Smith hadn’t expected Mesher to take her suggestion seriously. “It was really a chance thing that I got to compete him,” said Smith, Murrieta, Calif.
Since then, she and the 11-year-old Selle Français (Anarcos—Baika De Baussy, Grand Veneur) finished fifth in the intermediate division at the March Twin Rivers Horse Trials and placed second in The Event at 3 Day Ranch (Calif.) on March 18-20 in the advanced/intermediate division. They had a stutter in their progress at the March 31-April 3 Galway CIC*** (Calif.), with a stop in cross-country.
But they seemed to have the cross-country down pat in the CIC*** at the Twin Rivers Spring Event, April 21-24. They won the dressage on a score of 50.4 penalties, and though none of the entries made it around cross-country without time penalties, Smith, 36, and Mar De Amor were by far the fastest. They went into show jumping 15.7 points ahead of second-placed Barbara Crabo and Eveready II.
Smith and Mar De Amor have been working with John Camlin and Susie Hutchison to stay relaxed and not rush to the fences in show jumping—yet still make the time.
“He has an enormous jump, so if you don’t take an inside turn or speed him up, you’ll have time penalties,” said Smith.
With such a large lead, she decided it was the perfect opportunity to test out their progress. Though they had 2 time penalties, all of the jumps stayed in the cups. “It was my plan to ride him the way I rode him, and he was very rideable and relaxed. It was the best he’s ever gone in show jumping,” said Smith.
Their win marked a big milestone, since the bay gelding has proven to be more difficult than Smith expected. She now has a greater respect for Mesher, who is smaller than Smith but always handled the gelding well. “I thought that if [Mesher], being her weight, could control him, then it shouldn’t be too bad. I’d have more leverage on my side. But she did a really good job to do what she did with him,” said Smith.
Smith plans to take Mar De Amor to the Bromont CCI*** (Que.). She also put in her application for the Pan Ameri-can Games (Mexico) this fall and hopes to be selected for the 2012 Olympic Games (London). If everything falls into place, Mesher has granted Smith permission to ride the horse through the Olympics.
“Anyone who has those kind of expec-tations also needs some luck,” said Smith.
Project Runway Models Sophistication
As she prepared for her show jumping round in the CCI**, Max McManamy was nervous. She and Project Runway sat in first place by a mere .5 points—they had to be flawless.
Seven of eight competitors managed clear rounds, and McManamy, of Templeton, Calif., and “Devon” were among them. They took home the win over Anna Collier and Uppercrust D.
The win was especially sweet for McManamy, who has brought Devon through the ranks herself. She purchased the Trakehner gelding (Windfall—Polarschecke, Sacred Indian) as a 3-year-old at the end of 2007. Her trainers Derek and Bea di Grazia have helped her bring the horse along.
“He’s my baby and the first young horse that I’ve owned, so he’s very special to me,” said McManamy.
Devon and McManamy sat in second place after dressage with a score of 50.8 penalties. The entire field struggled with the time on Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course, but McManamy posted the second-fastest round.
“[Di Grazia] made the course a lot more twisty than most people were used to. My horse is only 15.2. He’s an incredible jumper, but it bites us in the butt because he jumps everything so big that he wastes time,” said McManamy. However, with only 3.6 time penalties, Devon and McManamy moved into first.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to go into show jumping in first at a big competition, so it was pretty nerve wracking,” said McManamy, who still had confidence in her horse. “No matter how tired he is, he comes out like he has wings and just flies over the fences.”
Though horses are her passion, McManamy, 19, takes classes at a junior college, and next year she hopes to transfer to a four-year school. Keeping up with schoolwork and four event horses can be tough, but McManamy wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It definitely can get a little crazy. My barn hours can be anywhere from 6 in the morning to 8:30 at night. I’ve ridden in the dark, but my horses need to be ridden, so I find a way to get them done,” said McManamy, who hopes to make it to the Pan American Games this fall.
The Governess Rules In CCI* Jolie Wentworth and Governess had no room for error in the CCI* competition at Twin Rivers, but they finished on their dressage score to bring home the win.
The decision to bring “Czara” was last minute, so Wentworth wasn’t banking on a spectacular performance. “We didn’t have a whole lot of preparation time. I was pretty confident she’d do well, but I didn’t think she’d win,” said Wentworth, Martinez, Calif.
She and the Selle Français mare (Jamestown—Black Diamond, Chin Chin) had 50.6 penalties after dressage, a mere .3 ahead of Gina Miles and Sunsprite Patronus and less than 3 points behind Erin Kellerhouse on Parfait. Going into cross-country, Went-worth knew that making time would be a challenge, but she was up for it.
“I rode five horses over the weekend. I had a game plan by the time I went out there on her. I was prepared about what to do, where I could go fast, where I could go slowly. I could adjust accordingly,” she said.
The top three horses all made it around double clear, so it all came down to show jumping. Wentworth was hopeful the 9-year-old bay mare would be on her game. “She doesn’t want to touch a rail. She’s both bold and careful, which makes her a nice combination,” said Wentworth, 29. Czara came through as usual, narrowly earning the win when Parfait dropped a rail.
Czara is for sale, since owner Kate Miller will be moving to Switzerland following her upcoming wedding.