Kalispell, Mont.—July 27
Many riders would be wrought with nerves thinking about riding the CCI4*-L course at Rebecca Farm, but for Lauren Billys, every day she gets to ride Castle Larchfield Purdy is a good one since he survived a serious colic surgery last fall.
“I walked this morning and had an incredible sense of peace, and I think it’s because I get to ride ‘Purdy,’ ” she said. “He showed a lot of heart. I started to cry when I was on course, and I was like, ‘Get it together!’ It’s so exhilarating.”
Billys and “Purdy,” a 17-year-old Irish Thoroughbred gelding (Karistos—Hallo Purdy, Hallo), finished as one of four pairs to make the optimum time over Ian Stark’s cross-country course today—and it marked the first round of their career with no time penalties at a CCI4*-L.
“[Coach Derek di Grazia] and I had a firm plan on where we wanted to be because we felt the time was the thing to catch today,” she said. “He’s not a particularly fast horse, but we knew where to be up, and he was there, and all the lines jumped exactly as Derek described they would jump, even if I made a mistake, it was the exact mistake he said it would be.”
Billys, who rides for Puerto Rico and is eyeing a qualifying finish this weekend for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, said Purdy finished better than ever, likely due to a change in maintenance after discovering he had moderate inflammatory airway disease this spring.
With a nebulizer and steamed hay as part of his lifestyle now, Purdy feels like a new horse.
“He cut his respiration recovery time in half after starting that treatment,” said Billys. “He feels like a different ride this year after that treatment, even in the dressage. He got a new lease on life.”
Billys doesn’t have a rail in hand tomorrow over second-placed Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois.
“I have not run a four-long in awhile, so I’ll be curious to see how he jumps tomorrow, but he’s got a lot of heart, and he’s very brave, and he’s very careful. I hope this track suits him,” she said.
Sabrina Glaser’s last run with Rembrandt didn’t go to plan when she fell off at the first water at the MARS Incorporated Bromont CCI4*-L (Canada), but with four water fences on course in today’s CCI4*-S, she had plenty of practice with Patricia Yust’s 11-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding (Galouet—Last Rose Of Summer, Travelling Victor).
They sailed through all the water questions to add 3.2 time penalties and take the lead.
“He really had his confidence shaken from that, so this was his first run back,” said Glaser. “I really didn’t know what was going to happen. We had lots of runs through the water, so our day was either going to end early or finish better than it started, and he didn’t show any hesitation at all. He went out there like a trooper.”
Glaser stopped at a few schooling facilities on her way back to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from Bromont to help Rembrandt get his confidence back.
“He didn’t even want to step into water coming back from Bromont,” she said. “I took him to different locations instead of doing any competitions, and started him like a baby, walking him in and out, I would stay for a few days until he would do it on a long rein. Just lots of pats, and lots of ‘Good boys,’ and he came out here ears pricked and happy to be out here.”
Glaser’s had the ride on the gelding since he was 3, and his owner had become “like a second mom” to her.
“The horse owes me nothing,” she said. “He was bought to be a resale horse and bucked everybody off, including me, but I just fell in love with him.”
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