Kim Severson and Will Faudree had a lot to smile about after they finished Tremaine Cooper’s advanced course at Southern Pines Horse Trials II, in Raeford, N.C. Severson and Tipperary Liadhnan jumped around strong and clear to maintain their dressage lead. Faudree and Pawlow’s fast round moved them up four places to sit on top of the leaderboard in the advanced, division 2.
“I thought it was great,” Severson said of the course. “I thought the question at 11 was hugely substantial. It was a very hard questions for the majority of advanced horses.”
The combination in question started with a skinny palisade fence between two trees and then two strides to a steeply angled corner. It turned out to be the most influential jump on the advanced course. It caused problems for at least five different horses. While many riders took the straight route, both Karen O’Connor on Mandiba and Phillip Dutton on Jan Byyny’s Waterfront had run-outs at the second element. Diana Brown fell from One2One at the fence as well.
Severson kept her lead in advanced, division 1, from the previous day when she won the dressage with a 25.9. “Paddy” is returning to competition this year after sitting out most of 2009 to recover from surgery on a splint bone.
“He’s always been a really good cross-country horse,” Severson explained. “His maturity level in the dressage has really gone through the roof. He’s a lot stronger, so he’s a lot more confident in himself and what he can do. The thing with him is that he wants to be so good that it makes him tense. He’s the same in the show jumping.”
No horses made time in the advanced, but Severson came close, adding only 6 penalties to her score (31.9), and giving herself a seven-point lead over Becky Holder and Courageous Comet (38.9) and John Williams on Sweepea Dean (40.8). Ashlee Kehoe and Mazetto were the fastest pair of the day, adding only 4.8 time penalties to their score and finishing in eighth place in advanced, division 2.
Faudree and Pawlow finished in first in the second advanced division—their first run around advanced since finishing 11th at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (England) in September of 2009. They were the second-fastest combination of the day, coming in at 7:04 and adding only 5.2 penalties to their dressage score of 29.4. They hold a small lead over Kate Hicks on Belmont II (36.5) and Phillip Dutton on The Foreman (37.10).
Although the corner at 7 caused the majority of issues on the advanced, it wasn’t the only fence to create problems. Stephen Bradley, who took over the rides on Amy Tryon’s horses for the day, fell on Coal Creek at the second water, fence 15. He returned to jump around nicely on Leyland. Missy Ransenhousen retired between fences 18 and 19 when Critical Decision came up lame. Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos, the trailblazers around the advanced, had an unfortunate stop at the second-to-last fence.
“I didn’t want to make it easy, but I wanted to make it as open and galloping and as flowing as possible,” Cooper said. It was his first year designing the cross-country at Southern Pines; John Williams did the course previously.
“The whole group here was great to work with,” said Cooper.
The palisade corner caused many problems on the intermediate course as well, where it was fence 7. Riders had many options, but the straight route required them to jump a palisade, complete a turning three strides to a second palisade, and then another turning three to a corner. At least seven horses incurred run-outs there, and many more chose an alternate route.
The first intermediate water also had a few people worried, especially when the first pair out of the start box—Doug Payne and Running Order—fell while jumping off the island back into the water. The water asked horses to drop in, canter three strides before jumping up onto a bank, then take one stride and drop down again, and then three more strides to another bank and one more stride out over a skinny log. It caused no other major problems for the rest of the riders.
Nine riders jumped double clear in the intermediate.