Monday, Apr. 15, 2024

Behind The Stall Door With: Landon

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At last fall’s Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, Landon put in a spectacular performance that helped earn the United States its spot in the Paris Olympics, and served as the official stamp that the young gelding, who moved up to the five-star level in late 2022, has become Kent Farrington’s newest top partner. In that high pressure environment, the hot-blooded chestnut owned by Haity McNerney kept his cool when it was all on the line and helped secure Team USA’s qualification for this year’s Paris Olympic Games.

“It was like he matured 10 years in 10 days at the Pan Am Games,” says Denise Moriarty, Landon’s fulltime handler and Team KPF’s top groom for the past 12 years. “He really just stepped up, and I don’t know if he was talking to [McLain Ward’s championship partner] Contagious or what he was doing, but it all just came together.”

Erin Gilmore Photos.

When standing up close and personal with Landon at his home barn in Wellington, Florida, the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Comilfo Plus Z—Indigo Van De Meulenberg, Quadrillo) is tall but slight—the exact type of light-boned jumper that Farrington has gravitated toward throughout his career.

Landon and Farrington finished 2023 as the top-placed Fédération Equestre Internationale combination in jumping.  The team gold and individual silver they earned in Santiago certainly helped their points lead, but a great season that included five-star wins at Spruce Meadows (Alberta) and the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida) helped too.

“He’s big, he’s brave, he’s scopey,” says Moriarty. “Nations Cups are something he’s very good at. He’s actually better the more he goes; you saw that in the Pan Ams. By the last day he was probably jumping his best. He’s very much a championship horse in that sense.”

• Landon, formerly named Crack De Nyze Z, was bred outside of Antwerp, Belgium, by Danny Nijs at his Stal De Nyze. He and Farrington partnered up when the gelding was 8.

• Landon has a very famous best friend, who might be his mentor as well. At home in the barn, Landon loves Farrington’s recently retired superstar Creedance. He never misses an opportunity to stop at Creedance’s stall and nuzzle his friend’s bottom lip. There’s never any squealing, just quality time between the two friends before Creedance heads to Kentucky later this year to begin his retirement.

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Landon (right) says hello to his bestie, Creedance.

• Landon is sensitive—a quality that Moriarty and Farrington have plenty of experience nurturing with quiet consistency.

“He really feeds off people’s emotions; if you’re tense around him, he will feel that,” Moriarty explains. “He naturally has blood and he’s super, so in regards to the course, stamina and stuff, that is never really the question with him. It’s just super important to keep him relaxed. Even if you’re in a rush to get to the ring, you can’t rush him. He’ll just put his head up and that’s the end of it, so even when you’re in a rush, you have to be slow with him.”

• His fitness and active lifestyle mean that he’s usually best when he’s showing consistently, “otherwise his brain tends to forget what you’ve already told him,” Moriarty says. So he’ll continue to show during the 2024 winter season in Florida.

• But Landon’s routine includes plenty of rest, as well. Like all of the horses at Farrington’s home base, the gelding likes the routine of Florida, and is more relaxed in the home barn and paddocks. He spends much of his outdoor time sleeping in the field, and a good portion more chasing the big Florida lizards that dare to enter his paddock.

• With four flashy white socks and his chestnut coat, Landon does require plenty of careful grooming care, especially in Florida. Moriarty puts him in front of multiple fans after a bath and uses her deep well of experience to care for his sensitive skin.

• Landon has multiple toys to keep him busy, both while lounging in his stall and in the field. If Moriarty hangs an Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball or a Likit—his two favorite treats—in his stall, it’s guaranteed that Landon will make quick of work of them. Geometric hay balls, another favorite, dot the turnout paddocks. 

• Purely by coincidence, Landon is currently the only gelding in Farrington’s 13-horse string of show jumpers. 

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