Parker, CO – June 6, 2014 – The CHP Horse Trials on May 31-June 1 attracted a strong contingent of competitors to the Colorado Horse Park. Riders at all levels, from Intro and Beginner Novice up through Intermediate, enjoyed the beautiful setting, top notch organization and inviting cross country courses designed by James Atkinson.
Martha McDowell and Nabouco de Lessay took home the honors in the Open Intermediate division, finishing on a score of 35.90 penalties. The pair sat in second place after dressage and show jumping but made a move up the leaderboard in the cross country phase, where they were the only competitors to finish within the time allowed.
McDowell felt the key to her cross country success was establishing a good rhythm from the beginning and riding forward to the fences.
“It was the kind of course that required you to come right out of the start box with a bold forward gallop,” she explained. “My horse is coming off training in California this winter and is very fit. I just stayed in a really strong gallop all the way around.”
“Kudos to James Atkinson, because all the courses, I thought, were very good, bold, confidence building courses for the horses if you came out and rode them with conviction,” she added.
McDowell usually comes to the Colorado Horse Park twice a year from her home base in Billings, MT.
“The cross country course is very nice – there are not many places that offer that kind of terrain, and they have three waters and good footing,” she said. “They’ve been getting a lot of rain, but I thought the footing was excellent. And it’s very well run. It’s always a treat to go out and gallop around a course like that. This is a true, legitimate cross country test.”
Dani Sussman of Larkspur, CO, prevailed in the competitive Open Preliminary division, riding Kaptain America to a final score of 30.8 penalties that was good enough for first place out of 16 combinations. Like McDowell, Sussman is a frequent visitor to the Colorado Horse Park.
“I think it’s a fantastic venue,” she said. “The footing is always good for the arenas and on the cross country course. I love the courses, and I appreciate that they change them up annually.”
She said she enjoyed the challenges of this spring’s cross country course.
“It flowed really well,” she noted. “I liked the new questions that James had put on the course. I thought they were fair and asked the riders to make a couple decisions. I took more of the direct routes, and all the fences rode beautifully.”
Sussman began riding Kaptain America in November 2013 and the pair has already forged a strong connection.
“We’ve come huge strides and have built a pretty amazing partnership so far,” she said.
Hank Rothwell of Holladay, UT, and Buster came out on top of the 15-horse Open Training division, while Linda Quist and Belle Gambe won the 16-horse Training Rider division.
Rothwell, who led all the way in Open Training and finished with a score of 34.3 penalties, credited his horse, a warmblood/Thoroughbred cross whom he purchased in England 18 months ago.
“He is a much better horse than I am a rider,” he said. “So I’m learning from him. We had trouble moving up to prelim, so running training at the Horse Park was a very good schooling experience for me and confidence building for both of us.”
“I’m so impressed with the work James Atkinson has done on behalf of the Horse Park,” Rothwell added. “The course was in beautiful condition and ran very well. The facilities are first class, and the organizers work very hard to create a good experience for the riders.”
The Colorado Horse Park will next host a CCI**, Training Three-Day and Horse Trials Aug. 22-24. In addition, the venue welcomes horses and riders for cross country schooling July 27-31 and Aug. 25-28.
View full results from the CHP Horse Trials at http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15607.html.