Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Bebie Is Back On Course At Plantation Field

Wendy Bebie walked her show jumping course three times, just to make absolutely sure. It wasn't because she needed to carefully plan her inside turns. It certainly wasn't because her horse, Phoenix, is a bad jumper--the 14-year-old Selle Francais had a career in the jumpers before she bought him six years ago. It was because she didn't want to repeat her mistake from a week earlier in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), where she was eliminated for going off course.
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Wendy Bebie walked her show jumping course three times, just to make absolutely sure. It wasn’t because she needed to carefully plan her inside turns. It certainly wasn’t because her horse, Phoenix, is a bad jumper–the 14-year-old Selle Francais had a career in the jumpers before she bought him six years ago. It was because she didn’t want to repeat her mistake from a week earlier in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), where she was eliminated for going off course.

The triple walk paid off, and the pair not only show jumped clean but also went on to win the advanced division at Plantation Field, April 15-16 in Unionville, Pa., on their dressage score of 36.3.

The win puts the pair back on the form they first had when moving up to advanced last year and finishing first at Pine Top (Ga.) and Southern Pines (N.C).

“He’s a great horse and an incredible athlete, but last year and this year it’s been so inconsistent,” said Bebie, an adult amateur from Round Hill, Va. “When I first moved him up to advanced, he got so drunk on speed that I couldn’t turn him.”

Working with Kim Keppick and Jim Wofford helped them overcome those problems. On Easter weekend at Plantation, they were able to put in a relaxed, solid dressage test and build from there.

For Bebie, the location of the advanced dressage ring–in a field separate from the other arenas, with its own, remote warm-up–worked to her advantage.

“Dressage has always been a problem because he’s so tense, but there was a maximum of four horses in the warm-up here, so I just under rode and was able to keep him relaxed,” she said.

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Their test put them in third place. When the dressage leaders, Jan Thompson and Task Force, withdrew before show jumping, they moved up to second place, less than a point behind Missy Ransehousen and Critical Decision.

Ransehousen show jumped clean to keep her lead going into the final phase, but she jumped a clear, conservative cross-country round. Time penalties dropped her to fourth place and opened the door for Bebie, Julia Briskin and Phillip Dutton to move ahead with fault-free cross-country rounds.

For 17-year-old Julia Briskin, of Radnor, Pa., competing in her first advanced was a year in the making, which just made her second-placed finish, one spot ahead of Dutton on Handyman Hughie, all that much sweeter.

“It was the most exciting experience of my life,” said the high school junior, who trains with Bonnie Mosser and works daily with Chris Grant–two people she gives huge credit for her success.

Mosser pronounced Briskin and her horse, Stina, a 10-year-old American Thoroughbred, ready for advanced a year ago. The only problem? Then 16, Briskin was too young to compete at that level.

Instead, they checked their calendars, waited for 2006, planned one intermediate run–at Morven Park (Va.) in early April–and then chose the familiar stomping grounds of Plantation Field for the big move up.

“I’ve been to Plantation a ton and knew a lot of the combinations would be on the harder intermediate [cross-country course] later in the year,” she said.

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For Briskin, however, starting the weekend by doing dressage in the remote advanced arena had an entirely different effect than it had for Bebie. Away from the other horses, Stina was tense during the dressage, Briskin said. The pair’s score of 43.3 reflected Stina’s tension, but they set out for show jumping–usually the mare’s best phase–with the goal of moving up in the rankings.

The mare was on her game over a course that combined uneven terrain, tight turns and forward riding, and the pair put in the advanced division’s first double-clear show jumping round of the day.

“She was foot-perfect,” a proud Briskin said. “She was right there for me. Her head was really in the game, and she was ready to win.”

Walking the cross-country course, she found that organizer Denis Glaccum had included some new accuracy questions on the course, including the Deer Stand, a 3’10” box-like skinny with a four-foot face and five-foot spread. So despite her familiarity with Plantation, there was plenty to keep Briskin’s mind on her ride.

“She’s had a couple of issues at skinnies, and there were an abundance of skinnies,” Briskin said. “She was so good, though, and she was so confident. She jumped right through the middle of everything.”

Looking ahead, Briskin plans to forego the spring three-days in favor of gaining horse trials experience at the advanced level with an eye on competing at the Fair Hill International CCI*** (Md.) in the fall.

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