Woodside, Calif.—Oct. 6
Ebay had a nice pre-wedding gift for his owner Helen Bouscaren. It took the form of what the bride-to-be described as a “very brave” run over Ian Stark’s CCI4*-S course at the Woodside International Horse Trials, where the international divisions concluded in Woodside, California.
They led the small but strong four-star field by a slim margin after Saturday’s dressage and show jumping, then stayed atop after 8.4 time penalties on cross-country. A partner with her fiancée James Alliston in Alliston Eventing, Bourscaren did her part, too. “I was very determined to ride him aggressively and to ride him to the base of the jumps, which is how he feels confident,” she said.
Bouscaren and Allison have their wedding set for Nov. 3, at Galway Downs in Temecula, California, right after they finish their show jumping rounds in the Galway Downs International Horse Trials.
Bouscaren and the big-looking, but only 15.3-hand Oldenburg gelding were second after dressage with a 31.7. Even with a heartbreaker final fence rail and a few time faults in stadium, they stayed there going into cross-country. “My main goal was to jump clean and have him confident,” she said, so she wasn’t pressing the gas pedal too hard.
Bouscaren and Alliston base their business about 45 minutes from Woodside, but they felt a bit of a home field advantage with a crew of students and Woodside Pony Club members assisting through the weekend.
The Alliston posse hauls over to school at the South San Francisco Bay Horse Park at Woodside regularly, which Bouscaren says can be a mixed blessing come show time. “It’s great for cross-country, but it can be tough for dressage because when the horses unload here, they think they’re going out on cross-country so it can be a little hard to settle them here,” she said.
“Ebay loves to perform,” she continued of the 10-year-old she’s had for three years. “He has so much energy, he could go around 20 times and be fine. He loves the atmosphere here and always jumps really well.”
The Alliston Eventing students and Woodside Pony Club helpers came in handy on Saturday night as Bouscaren was loaded with trophies. She received the Founder’s Cup, given in honor of Robert E. Smith, whose ideas were instrumental in the Combined Training Equestrian Team Alliance from which The Horse Park at Woodside was born. She also took home the Fric Frac Berence Heart Trophy, donated by five-star rider Frankie Thieriot-Stutes in honor of her retired eventer.
Pan Am Team gold medalist Tamie Smith was full of advice as her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook warmed up for the CCI3*-S cross-country, in which she and her mount of seven months sat second.
“My mom asked me, ‘What do you need from me?’ ”Smith-Cook relayed. “I said, ‘I need you to go to the airport and not miss your plane for Boekelo!’ ” So, off went Smith to represent the U.S. in the Nations Cup in the Netherlands, leaving her daughter to fend for herself.
Smith-Cook, a young professional, did so rather nicely. Passepartout came her way in March as a sale prospect, but mother and daughter fell in love with the 10-year-old German Sport Horse, and he never made it out of the Temecula stable where both base their training businesses. “I didn’t come to this event thinking we would win,” Smith-Cook noted. “He gave me his all in every phase.”
They earned a 32 in dressage from international judges Richard Baldwin and Gretchen Butts to sit fourth; were one of very few to jump double clear in stadium, and only added four penalties on cross-country.
Riding for Arnell Sporthorses, Bec Braitling had a busy weekend highlighted by a fault-free trip over the CCI2*-S cross-country designed by Stark and Bert Wood. Her partner is the fast-rising star, 7-year-old Dassett Ricochet. Since splashing on the scene a year ago as winner of the Galway Downs Training Three-Day, the Swedish Warmblood has steadily ascended with confidence and scope to spare.
“When I first tried him, I thought he would be a good amateur horse because he’s very relaxed; very chill,” Braitling recalled. “There’s actually more in there than we thought. He’s chill, but he uses the excitement to be really good.”
The careful youngster is a reliable stadium jumper equally at ease out of the ring. “He looks carefully at everything, whether it’s scary or not. Then he lands and wants to run on. He can be pretty quick,” she said.
International division course designer Stark, of Great Britain, enjoyed his latest visit to California. “Over the many years I’ve been coming to America, I’ve really seen the quality of horses and riding improve,” he said. Noting the relatively small four-star field, he stressed that lower entry numbers don’t equal lower course demands. “We’ve got standards to adhere to and, if we soften them, those horses and riders qualify for the next level and have troubles. Instead, they have to come up and meet the level,” he said.
Organizers, including Woodside’s Robert Kellerhouse, Rebecca Farm’ Broussard family and others on the West Coast, have been instrumental in improving the level of the sport, he added.
Stark looks forward to his next California visit, serving as the star attraction for the Galway Downs fundraising clinic in January of 2020, a long-standing West Coast eventing tradition.
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