Last year at this time, Marilyn Little-Meredith was just getting used to jumping into the water instead of flying over it, as she branched out from a successful grand prix show jumping career to try her hand at eventing .
But now she’s got multiple advanced events and a ninth-placed finish at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) with RF Rovano Rex on her résumé. And she’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new top horse, Cavalor Demeter, in Florida on Dec. 7.
Little-Meredith put together a syndicate to buy Cavalor Demeter, a 9-year-old Oldenburg mare (Rubin-Royal—Patricia, Kanudos xx) and the former ride of Dutch eventer Raf Kooremans. “There are so many qualities about her that I really feel like are a match. I think she’s super intelligent, and she loves her job. She’s very talented in the dressage ring, and she’s got so much Thoroughbred blood that she’s got the gallop—not just a fast gallop, but a ton of power behind it,” Little-Meredith said.
Kooremans announced the sale on his website  on Dec. 3. He had not planned to sell Demeter, and the mare was not actively on the market. “But after Boekelo CCI*** [in October] the situation became untenable, and actually we came to a point that we just had to think about whether we really wanted to or not. How much risk should or can you take on your athletic dreams? It's certainly a shame to my career, but at the end of the story we had no choice, really. We spent hours talking, often with a lump in our throats, and when I think of when ‘Demi’ effectively will leave our barn, my eyes fill with tears. But eventually we made the decision and promised, ‘Yes, she is for sale.’ The next day she was sold,” said Kooreman in a statement on his website.
Kooremans brought Demeter along from a green prospect, and they were fourth at the Strzegom CCI*** (Poland) in June and third in the Vairano MI CCI*** (Italy) in April, but they had 20 penalties on cross-country in their last two outings, at the Luhmuhlen CCI*** (Germany) that served as the European Championships, and at the Boekelo CCI. They were considered to be a top combination for the Dutch team for the London Olympic Games next year.
Little-Meredith’s interest in the mare originally wasn’t for herself. Trainer Karen O’Connor had asked Little-Meredith to find some upper level prospects for O’Connor. Demeter had caught Little-Meredith’s eye as she watched Boekelo on FEI TV. “She was one of the ones I thought might be ideal for Karen. She was certainly the quality that we were looking for,” Little-Meredith said.
“I had offered her Demeter and Mr. Medicott. When we left Europe, she was pretty sure Demeter was going to be the one for her, but Mr. Medicott just had a little more experience, and that was her choice in the end . I was plenty happy with that, so I could go back and see if I could somehow buy Demeter,” she continued. “When I got the OK that she could be available, I was really hurrying along to put together a syndicate.”
Little-Meredith knows that there are whispers that she purchased Demeter with a bid for the 2012 Olympic Games in mind, but she insists that she’s thinking much further into the future. “That’s not why I bought her. Obviously, I’m stupid if I haven’t dreamed about that, but at the same time, at no point have I ever said, ‘I really want to go to the Olympics next year, and that’s all I want to do.’ That’s not it,” she said.
“I’m not thinking just through July of 2012. This is a horse for the future. I have Rex now, who is 13, so I’ve hopefully got another few good years with him. I needed to start thinking about building a partnership for the years after that.” Little-Meredith plans to aim both Rex and Demeter for the 2012 Rolex Kentucky CCI****, then spend the summer competing in Europe and hopefully contest a four-star with them in the fall.
Little-Meredith grew up as the daughter of active horse dealers Ray and Lynne Little, who have a thriving sales business in the hunter/jumper world. And she’s begun a successful eventing sales business herself. But making long-range goals is new for her. “Karen asked me the other day, ‘What is your plan?’ and I said, ‘Honestly, I’ve never had the luxury of having a horse that I could really plan into the future with.’ It’s always been about the sales,” she said.
“But right now, with Rex and Demeter, I feel like for the first time in my life, I know where I want to be and how I plan to get there. I can think about the fall, and that’s something I’ve never been able to do, and I’m really enjoying that,” Little-Meredith continued.