Elkton, Md.—Oct. 13
As Woods Baughman cantered around the outside of the dressage ring with C’est La Vie 135 at the Mars Maryland 5 Star, he could hardly see.
Baughman thought he might get lucky and miss the rain this afternoon, but as the last to go down centerline, he rode in the heaviest downpour of the day.
“I kept having to remind myself to look up because I couldn’t see across the ring with all the rain in my eyes,” he said. “It did make the lateral work a bit easy because he wanted to go sideways to get away from the rain! Then he was pretty supple because he was always moving away from the rain.”
Despite the tough conditions, Baughman and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I—Anette, Arking xx) put in the best test of the day, scoring a 27.2 to slip ahead of France’s Astier Nicolas on Babylon De Gamma (29.1) and Liz Halliday-Sharp on Cooley Quicksilver (29.3).
“He’s a bit quirky, so it’s always trying to keep him relaxed because once something happens he can blow up,” said Baughman. “In the arena familiarization yesterday he stood up pretty violently. It’s always trying to keep him calm and focused on what I need to do, then he can be good. He can be a little bit strong and stiff, but if we give him enough time then he’s relaxed.”
Watch Baughman’s test via USEF Network.
Baughman is rerouting from the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (England), where he pulled up on course after 40 jumping penalties when “Contendro” got too strong. They’d successfully completed their first five-star at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April with 40 cross-country jumping penalties.
When they returned home from Burghley, they headed to the Plantation Field International CCI4*-S (Pennsylvania) for a confidence-boosting run where they finished second. From there, Baughman decided to run at Maryland. He’s changed bits from a mullen mouth pelham with a shank, which was allowing Contendro to cross his jaw and shake his head on course, to a hackabit with a softer mouthpiece.
Baughman, 26, is based in Summit Point, West Virginia, and works as an assistant trainer to five-star rider Sharon White.
Contendro came to the barn three years ago from German eventer Dirk Schrade.
“He’s a fantastic horse,” said Baughman. “It just took a little while to figure out what we needed to do to keep him happy all the time. He definitely thrives on as much free time as possible. He doesn’t like to be touched a lot and likes to be left alone. He likes to stand at the back of the stall. So we give him as much time as we can to just be him, and the more time you give him, the less likely he is to be kind of nappy and a bit ‘donkey.’ He’s a big, strong horse and doesn’t like to be pushed around too much. The more I could let him be himself the better, and then stepping in at the last minute to tell him what we actually need to do and directing him.”
Five-star dressage will continue tomorrow at 2:05 p.m.
Will Coleman only started his partnership with Cold Red Rum a year ago, but the 9-year-old Westphalian gelding (Cassone—Quo Vada, Quo Vadas) has blossomed this year.
“He was really raw as an 8-year-old, and I basically threw all our plans out the window as soon as I got him home,” said Coleman, who also sourced his horse from Schrade. “I didn’t even compete him for the first three or four months. I just felt like I had to give him a lot of time to emotionally and also physically develop. He was an incredibly weak horse for his age. A lot of good horses have come from Dirk, and my show jumping coach Brian Murphy told me I should go look at this horse.”
“Rum,” who’s owned by the Cold Red Rum Syndicate, made an impressive debut in his first CCI3*-L this morning, scoring a 27.1 to take the early lead after half the division completed their rides.
“I was really pleased with him. I thought he did everything pretty cleanly” said Coleman. “He tightened up maybe a little in there, and there were some unsteady moments, but overall it was pretty solid. I can’t ask for more right now from him.”
When Rum first arrived, he was a bit nervous, but after being turned out with Scooby, a 20-year-old Canadian draft horse that lives on Coleman’s farm, he’s settled in well.
“Scooby has sort of changed Rum’s life,” Coleman said with a laugh. “He loves being outside now. He’s relaxed a lot and has become a very laid-back horse. He’s come along. We’ve given him a lot of time. I try not to be in a rush. He’s got a long way to go, but I’m pleased with where he is at the moment. We’ve still got a couple of big days to go, but this event is going to be an incredible experience for him.”
Coleman’s impressed with Ian Stark’s three-star cross-country course, which riders will tackle on Saturday morning.
“It’s big, gallop and an endurance test, but it’s also a fair test,” he said. “I think it will give me a good sense of where my horse is and what he’s going to be ready for in the next 18 months. He rides like a blood horse. He wants to do the right thing. In all phases, if he makes mistakes I never feel like it’s not him genuinely trying. He’s a nice horse to ride and train.”
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We’re on site all week to bring you news, photos and interviews from the country’s second five-star event. Check back at coth.com all weekend and be sure to pick up the Nov. 7 print edition of The Chronicle of the Horse for more.
Lindsay Berreth / Oct 14, 2022 8:47 pm