Bromont, Quebec—June 7
Colleen Rutledge has known Covert Rights since his very first steps, and from the start of his eventing career he’s had opinions.
Rutledge and the now-13-year-old Thoroughbred-cross gelding (BFF Incognito—Let’s Get It Right, Covert Operation) moved up the levels confidently, but an injury in 2016, followed by a strong comeback, then another period of time off last year has made for some up and down results as they look to return to the five-star level.
“It’s been a series of ups and downs for the last four years,” said Rutledge, Frederick, Maryland. “He’s gone fantastically, and then he’s gone less than fantastically. You think he’s completely confirmed at something, and then he throws in an absolutely feral test, or three phases [like at the Jersey Fresh CCI4*-S (New Jersey)]. It’s just surprising, every time you show up to a venue, it’s ‘Which one am I getting today?’ Today, 95 percent of the time I got good ‘CR.’ ”
Rutledge and CR are leading the CCI3*-S at the Mars Equestrian Bromont International with a 27.6, just ahead of Canadian rider Dana Cooke and FE Whole Lotta Rosie (27.7).
“He’s been feeling really well,” said Rutledge. “I’m incredibly pleased with his dressage today because even though we had a couple of bobbles and some things that could be ironed out more, I actually went in trying to work more on me then worry about him. He actually said, ‘Thank you for letting me do my job.’ We all know he’s a nice horse, it’s being able to get it out of him and not have the opinions show up.”
Rutledge said CR’s mother was a chestnut mare, and that shines through sometimes. He can be prone to a spook or walking on his hind legs.
“He is the most chestnut bay you’ll ever meet,” she said with a laugh. “Everybody looks at him and thinks he’s this laid-back, relaxed guy, and he is 95 percent of the time. Five percent of the time he’s put me in the rafters, stood up on his hind legs and walked for about 15 steps; we’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time teaching him to be the strongest athlete we can, and it only bites me in the ass a little bit! He can definitely throw down opinions. At 13 he actually has more opinions now then he did when he was younger because he was willing to believe I knew everything when he was younger. He’s less willing to believe it now.”
Even so, the pair have had a lot of success at the top of the sport, winning several short format four-stars and completing two five-stars. Rutledge is looking forward to Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course tomorrow to get a good run.
“It’s a good course. Even for a three-star short, it’s got enough questions and enough things to do that if you aren’t on it all the way around, you’re gonna have a hiccup. It’s whether or not the hiccup snowballs into an oopsie,” she said. “It’s why we come here. It’s not to play in a sandbox.”
We’re on site at the Mars Equestrian Bromont CCI this weekend to bring you news, photos and results! Check back at coth.com and be sure to pick up the July 1 print edition of the Chronicle for more.