Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 2
What does it feel like to earn your first three-star win on a horse you bred yourself? A 15-year-old horse who, until a few weeks ago, you thought would never do another CCI? Barbara Crabo can’t tell you—at least not exactly.
“I’m trying not to swear!” she said. “But it feels awesome. I was there when he was born, and I was the first one on him. I’ve done everything with him, and it means everything to me.”
Crabo and Eveready II were the only pair to jump clear over Marc Donovan’s show jumping course here at Galway Downs, and that earned them the win (over Buck Davidson on Copper Beech. Davidson lowered just one rail to drop from his leading position, but his own second-placed predicament didn’t upset him too much.
“I think it’s so cool that Barb has done everything with the horse, and she deserved to win,” Davidson said. “My horse jumped awesome. I didn’t think I rode terribly, and it was just one of those things. She won fair and square. It’s cool see what she’s made of a really difficult horse. She did it better than the rest of us this week. That’s what horsemanship is about.”
And Crabo admitted that “Ready,” a Swedish Warmblood (Irco Mena—Fleetswinger, Cruise On In), wasn’t easy all the way up—and at times back down—the levels.
“I was thinking that I probably only have a couple more seasons with him,” said Crabo, “and I was like, ‘Why couldn’t he be 11?’ But when he was 11, he was unrideable.”
This event was only added to Ready’s schedule about a month ago, after he went well at the Nutrena AECs (Texas). A few years ago Crabo, Scottsdale, Ariz., decided to stay away from CCIs with Ready. Now she’s again eyeing the biggest one North America has to offer.
“He’s been feeling super fit,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming with him because I was concerned about the longevity of his legs. I doubled up on his swimming, and it really paid off. He felt so fit this weekend. I was worried it wasn’t going to work. I was paying attention to make sure it was going to work. He was super sound this morning, but I don’t know what’s going to happen next. You want to say the R word [for Rolex Kentucky CCI****] for spring, but I’m a little scared to right now, so I won’t.”
Crabo’s clear was the only one of the division, as rails fell all over the course. The last fence came down numerous times, including for third-placed Maya Black on Doesn’t Play Fair. Davidson’s one rub was so light he didn’t even know the rail had fallen.
“When I made the turn, I looked back and was like, ‘Ah, you’ve gotta be kidding me. I just lost the event,’ ” he said. “But he really tries. He jumps well; he doesn’t want to hit them. It was just one of those days, but the better person won today.”
“I was ready to vomit before I went in,” Crabo added. “I wasn’t concerned about the track. He’s an amazing show jumper, and I’ve done jumper shows with him quite a bit bigger than this. But there’s always that cheap rail that I think just about everyone experienced out there. He was breathing fire and just jumping the heck out of everything. He knows when it counts, and he jumps clear every time. It’s awesome.”
Marilyn Little won the one- and two-stars here at Galway with RF Scandalous and RF West Indie, respectively. She was one of only three double-clear trips in the two-star. Time was tight, and after second-placed James Atkinson jumped clear on Gustav, Little couldn’t afford even a single time penalty with “Indie.”
“It was a lot harder to ride right after you watched James go clear and really fast,” said Little. “It was one thing to watch it and think, ‘OK, time allowed is hard, but no one is getting it done,’ and then he went in and laid down a beautifully executed fast and clean round. He made it look easy, and I had a feeling it was not going to be. He added a lot of pressure, which made for a fun day.”
Little also jumped faultlessly on both of her one-star horses—winner RF Scandalous and fourth-placed RF Typecast.
“This weekend Scandalous proved to be everything we hoped she’d be,” said Little. “I really believe in this horse, and I’m really excited to see the direction the partnership is going, and she absolutely came through all weekend here.”