Ocala, Fla.—March 16
It’s not often a rider takes first and second place in a world ranking class, and it’s even less often that the rider has produced both mounts, but that’s exactly what Devin Ryan did.
Ryan galloped to the win in the $35,000 Longines World Ranking Class, a speed event, aboard Cooper and took second on Eddie Blue. Ryan has ridden the now 11-year-old Cooper since he was 5 and 9-year-old Eddie Blue since he was 4.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s definitely rewarding,” Ryan said. “It’s nice at this point in their life; I mean it took a long time to get there, but I know them really well now, so it makes it easy to prep.
“It’s hard when a horse is given to you to form that partnership; it’s like a long-term relationship,” Ryan continued.
Friday’s speed round qualifies riders for Sunday’s $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping class, which is the final opportunity for riders to accumulate points to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Paris in April. Ryan is right on the edge of having enough points to qualify, and he’ll jump Eddie Blue in Sunday’s class to try to seal the deal. If Ryan qualifies and competes in Paris it would be the 36-year old-rider’s inaugural World Cup Final appearance.
“Cooper I brought here for his two classes and to try to get some good ranking points, and for Eddie it was based on World Cup Finals,” Ryan said. “They start with the speed as the first leg, and they move on to the jump-off rounds, so I said I’m not going to go crazy here, but I want to go prompt enough to prep for World Cup Finals.”
Ryan has produced both horses through the young jumper classes, but their similarities stop there.
“Eddie has a massive stride, and Cooper has a big stride, but he’s a better adder,” said Ryan. “He’s quick with his legs, so Eddie the first line I did five versus I think most of the class did six. I could easily do the leave out with him, and Cooper I was just efficient on the turns, and he’s such an athlete I didn’t have to do anything else.”
For the first time in Live Oak’s six years of hosting show jumping classes the main ring was laid with footing, not grass. Event organizer and Live Oak owner Chester Weber said the change was due to damage from Hurricane Irma that couldn’t be remedied quickly enough. The footing in the ring is a different material than traditional synthetic materials—grass can be planted on top of it—and that’s what Weber plans to do at the close of this show. For now, the footing has a slightly spongier consistency than traditional synthetic footing, but Ryan certainly found it suitable.
“The footing was great; I know walking the course people were worrying if it was too soft, but the horses got off the ground great,” Ryan said. “Both of mine jumped great off the ground, and I think it’s a good thing having it a little softer; it takes less of a pounding on the horses on the landing side.”