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November 2, 2012

San Morino's Win That Almost Wasn't At Alltech National Horse Show

Lisa Williams and San Morino survived a hectic morning to claim the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, tricolor.

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 2

Ever have that dream that you’re late for a big, important class? You’re due to show in a class that would clinch you a championship at a major indoor show, but your clothes are back at the hotel and your horse isn’t braided?

Lisa Williams lived out that scenario this morning. Thankfully, with the assistance of many helping hands, she made it to the ring with San Morino on time to win the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, stake class and claim the division championship.

There aren’t many amateur riders who can say that top trainer Louise Serio braided their horse’s tail, but when the barn aisle scrambled into life to get San Morino braided and spiffed up to show at the last minute, Serio stepped up and put her fingers to work twisting hair. “It was her lucky braided tail today, and it looked good!” Williams said.

Williams had good reason for the last-minute panic. After she’d won the first class in the amateur-owner, 36 and over, division the day before, San Morino had gone back to his stall for a break. When they went to pull him out for the handy class, he was lame. “He was actually holding his foot up,” Williams said. “He must have stung himself or turned funny or something.” Williams scratched from the handy class, and a veterinarian came to examine “Mo.” He found no obvious injury, so Williams and her trainers, Norah Ross and Lindy Townley, decided to just ice Mo’s foot and leg and see what he looked like in the morning.

This morning, Williams was fully prepared to not be showing. Mo wasn’t braided, and she left her show clothes at the hotel. “I didn’t want to jinx myself by getting dressed,” she said.” But when the vet arrived at 9 a.m., Mo was perfectly sound. “He must have just stung himself, because we couldn’t find anything wrong and he jogged great,” Williams said. But, they had about an hour to be at the ring.

Operation “Get Mo To The Show” hit full swing. Three people climbed ladders to braid his mane. Serio got started braiding his tail. And Williams raced back to her hotel to get dressed.

“It was a whole team effort, and it was amazing we got it done,” she said.

The adrenaline rush of the last-minute preparations didn’t fluster Williams too much. “Sometimes I tend to run a bit late, so I can be good under pressure,” she said with a wink.

When Williams and Mo trotted into the ring for the stake class, they were as composed and cool as could be and turned in a lovely round for the blue. Combined with her win the day before, it was enough for the tricolor. “I am just so happy to have had this experience with him,” said Williams. “He is my horse of a lifetime. I feel so blessed to have had him in my life. We have such a close bond, and I know him so well.”

Williams, of Victoria, British Columbia, and Mo had claimed the grand amateur-owner hunter tricolor at the National Horse Show in 2010, when the show was held in Syracuse, N.Y. But Mo had all of last year off. “Our goal was to try and do indoors again,” she said. They were grand amateur-owner hunter champions at the Pennsylvania National this fall as well.

Williams works full time as a realtor with Sotheby’s International. “The work pays the bills and pays for the hay and for this, so I have to go home and sell some houses!” she said. She drives an hour each way to ride Mo at Ross’s farm in Duncan, British Columbia, and occasionally treks the hour and a half by ferry to ride with Townley in Vancouver.

Throughout this year’s indoor circuit, Williams has been stabled with Serio’s group of riders, and she’s enjoyed getting to know Serio. “I have always been in awe of Louise and her talent and her horses. So it’s thrilling to be with her barn and have her as another person helping on the ground,” she said.

Tracy Scheriff-Muser’s morning was a little less dramatic, but no less thrilling. She rode her Absolut to the amateur-owner, 18-35, tricolor and the grand amateur-owner hunter title as well. “The National Horse Show is the best of the best, and it’s amazing to win against everyone who’s here,” Scheriff-Muser said. “I went into the stake and just tried my best and went for it, and he was right there for me. He tried hard, so I was very happy.”

Scheriff-Muser and Absolut have made quite a sweep of the indoor shows, claiming the grand honors at the Capital Challenge (Md.) and the amateur-owner, 18-35, tricolor at the Pennsylvania National. “He’s really come into his own. He’s always been pretty consistent, but al of a sudden, he’s like, ‘OK, I’m your steady Eddy now.’ He’s so much fun, and I’m very lucky,” said Scheriff-Muser.

The junior hunters started their trips today and will conclude tomorrow before the $250,000 Alltech Grand Prix. Then, the ASPCA Maclay Finals take center stage for Sunday’s action.

See all of the Chronicle’s coverage of the Alltech National Horse Show.

Check out full results of the Alltech National Horse Show.

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