Ask 5: Who Is Your Cross-Country Idol?

Mar 8, 2015 - 4:41 AM

Each rider has his or her own style on cross-country, but all of us have to learn from somewhere or someone. We asked some of the top riders at the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Fla., who their cross-country idols are and why. Photos by Lindsay Berreth.

Hannah Sue Burnett (leading the CIC* on Jitter Bug after cross-country)

“I’ve always tried to ride like Karen O’Connor on cross-country. I’ve ridden with her for about 10 years now and when I’m really nervous about cross-country and trying to think about who I want to ride like, I always remember her in 2007 at Kentucky with Theodore O’Connor and that ride of hers kind of gets me going.”


Jennie Brannigan (third after cross-country in the CIC*** on Cambalda)

“Without a doubt, Phillip Dutton. He’s been a huge influence in my career and someone I immensely look up to. I think for the whole country, that’s who we look to for guidance and he’s just the man. I’m very lucky that I got to work for him for five years and I hope one day I can ride cross-country like him. I think he just has great feel and confidence and true grit, which I think is something that our country lacks and I think he’s just an unbelievable horseman that way.”


Marilyn Little (leading the CIC** on RF Scandalous)

“To pick one is really hard, but I think one of the most incredible people to watch is William Fox-Pitt. I think he’s just so smooth, so accurate and he can take a horse that doesn’t have so much confidence or a green horse and carry it around, sometimes literally at moments. He’s got a stopwatch in his head and he doesn’t push past what’s needed and he does what’s necessary and he’s brilliant to watch.”


Liz Halliday-Sharp (second after cross-country in the CIC*** with HHS Cooley)

“William too. I think for me, he is the greatest rider there is right now on cross-country, and in all phases really. For being such a tall man, he has such a grace with his horses and he never gets in their way, and I think that’s incredible. I was lucky enough to be based with him for awhile and he’s always been a great help and still is. I like that he’s always positive about what he’s doing and takes a positive approach to every horse he takes on, no matter what he thinks about it—big, small, anything. I think that’s something we can all take with us—let the horses do their job and stay positive.”


Lauren Kieffer (leading CIC*** with Czechmate)

“Andrew Nicholson, for sure. He’s always gets it done. I used to look up to Amy Tryon a lot when I was younger because she got a lot out of her horses, and sometimes not the best horses. She could really get the most out of them and I thought that was really inspirational.”


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