Elkton, Md.—Oct. 13
Selena O’Hanlon’s been gunning for an international win all season on Foxwood High, and she’s come awfully close—a third at the Plantation Field CIC*** (Pa.) in September and fifth at the Great Meadow International CICO*** (Va.).
Now she’s positioned herself well to give it a go at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI***, leading after dressage on 39.4.
Colleen Rutledge took the early lead this morning on Covert Rights, scoring a 39.8, so she’s in second now, followed by Buck Davidson on Carlevo and Ryan Wood on Powell, both tied for third on 40.3.
This was the first time O’Hanlon and “Woody,” a 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse owned by John and Judy Rumble, have scored in the 30s at an FEI competiton.
“He felt a little bit fitter in the ring today, which is great because he put it to good use being that much older he’s started to become more rideable in the ring,” she said. “I was very pleased that he didn’t let it get the better of us and have a little swap when I didn’t want it. I’m super excited to be in the 30s.”
O’Hanlon’s been working with Canadian dressage rider Christilot Boylen and got help today from David O’Connor, who’s been coaching the Canadian riders since leaving his position as technical advisor of the U.S. eventing team.
“David O’Connor has been coaching us a little bit, and he warmed me up today, which was great to have somebody on the ground,” said O’Hanlon. “At this stage there’s no good ideas right before you go in the ring, but to have somebody on the ground to say, ‘the elevation is enough and the suspension is enough,’ because I think that kind of separates the top five from the top 10, which is what I’ve been trying to go for—just working on sustaining elevation and suspension throughout the lateral work.”
Rutledge recently earned a personal best dressage score on “CR,” an 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Clydesdale bred by Lisa Reid, when they won the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.) with a 33.3. They topped the Morven Park CIC*** (Va.) two weeks ago with a dressage score of 39.7.
“CR is really cool because he always feels good even if I’m wrong. It’s just amazing to ride a horse like that. He’s my homebred, and I love him to pieces, and he can go out and perform,” said Rutledge. “It’s polishing the little details. It’s getting his walk to be just slightly more relaxed. He tries so incredibly hard he almost tries too hard. Sometimes he needs to tell me no. But that’s what makes him so amazing.”
Davidson and Carlevo, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, didn’t quite beat their personal best score, but Davidson was still pleased.
“He’s just getting stronger and more mature,” he said. “I was very proud of him. I know why I’m in third—my first halt I was there for too long, and he took a step back. That was my fault.”
Wood earned a personal best score on Powell, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding bred by Ilona English.
“He’s really rideable in the ring, and he’s flashy, and we were able to go through mistake-free,” said Wood. “It’s exciting to be riding a horse for the breeder. To have him at this level and to have the breeder to have done such a good job and to be able to perform like that is pretty exciting. But there’s a long way to go. The cross-country looks challenging. It’s pretty relentless. Derek’s got questions going all the way to the end, so you’re going to have to have a fit horse and stay sharp.”
O’Hanlon agreed, adding, “It feels long to walk. The ground is good and fast. I hope I’ve done my homework to make sure Woody’s fit enough, but I feel like the course is vey fair. It’s got a lot of breather fences in between and questions, but right up to the end it doesn’t give up.”
Rutledge know she’ll have her work cut out for her tomorrow on cross-country, but she trusts CR’s ability.
“Fair Hill is never a dressage show,” she said. “It’s a true Derek course. He definitely asks you the questions, he uses the terrain in every fence. It’s a good, open, bold course. I’m looking forward to it.”
In the CCI**, yesterday’s leaders Tamra Smith and Sunsprite Syrius remain on top with a 40.9. Cornelia Dorr and Louis M moved into second today on 48.1, and Allison Springer and Lord Willing are in third on 48.3.
Cross-country starts tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. with the CCI**. The CCI*** begins at 1:15 p.m.
Ride times can be found here.