Elkton, Md.—Oct. 19
Sharon White had just one piece of advice for her student Woods Baughman before he headed out on cross-country today in the CCI3*-L at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International with C’est La Vie 135—“Don’t get weird. Just keep it zen.”
“He gets wild, so I have to just try to stay relaxed, and I whisper in his ear and keep him quiet,” said Baughman.
White’s advice worked, as Baughman and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I—Anette, Aarking xx) sped around Derek di Grazia’s track inside the optimum time of 8 minutes 46 seconds to move into the lead. Sixty pairs started and 50 came home. Thirteen pairs made the time, and there were five rider falls, but all horses and riders were reported to be fine.
Baughman, 23, Lexington, Kentucky, just partnered up with the gelding last year while he was spending a year working in Germany for Dirk Schrade.
“He was awesome,” he said. “He’s just a giant, big galloping horse, and he just tore into it. He was a little wild in warm-up so I popped off my spurs and tossed my whip and let him drag me around the whole way. This is my first time clear at Fair Hill. The farthest I had made it so far was the seventh jump, so I was pretty happy when I jumped over the corner at 7! I was pretty much ready to go home then. It made me so happy [to cross the finish line.]”
Previously campaigned by Ben Leuwer to the CCI3*-S level, “Contendro” is quite the character.
“He’s such a dingus,” said Baughman. “He has to see and touch everything. He can be very stubborn but once he switches on he’s full business.”
Canada’s Colleen Loach moved up from third to second with Vermont, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing—Hollywood, Heraldik xx) owned by Peter Barry.
“He felt great,” she said. “He really galloped well. He was really listening to whatever I asked him. His first [three-star long] we had a run out—pilot error. He’s got a huge stride, but he’s very adjustable and rideable. This was a good course for him; as usual Derek put out a great course, and it invited a lot of bold, forward riding, but there were also places where you had to be smart.”