Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 31
There were no wild gallops down to a big oxer. No turns that would’ve left those watching gasping as the gray horse turned in places few would’ve thought possible. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue were out for a schooling round. Their speed was deceptive—but they didn’t need speed.
They needed to jump clear.
Of the seven pairs that advanced to the jump-off in the $213,300 National Horse Show Grand Prix CSI4* only two left all the jumps up. And with a time of 35.13 seconds, Ryan just edged out Spencer Smith and Quibelle for the win.
“Guillerme [Jorge] definitely put together a nice course tonight, and I didn’t think as many were going to go clean,” said Ryan. “There were some tall verticals and wide oxers out there, and some of the lines rode a little technical. I thought early on was the more technical part of the course, but it took a little bit of scope out there, some of those wide oxers—and he’s a scopey horse. It was my night.”
Ryan has ridden the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (VDL Zirocco Bluye—Silvana, Marlon) since his days in the young jumper divisions. From third at the Longines FEI World Cup Finals (France) and team gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina) in 2018, the pair have seen a lot together, which means Ryan knows Eddie Blue as well as anyone.
“I’m a big guy; we come in all shapes and sizes like the horses,” he said. “He’s a bigger horse, and he fits me. He has plenty of blood when he’s in the ring, but when he’s not in the ring he’s actually sometimes a lazy horse. He always steps up a little bit going into the ring. I think for a person like me who is a big, strong guy, it is good to have a horse who can take a little bit more movement, leg or pressure. I think that’s why he suits me.”
Like many, Ryan’s had a quiet year, and he hopes to be in top form to make a bid at the Olympics in Tokyo next year, should they run. They’ve jumped a handful of classes this fall, but Ryan is trying to be strategic on when he uses the gray.
“I think we will wait and see what’s happening with everything going on in the world right now,” he said. “There’s a couple four-star classes coming up in Wellington [Florida] at the end of November that I am thinking about, because the next show after that wouldn’t be until the middle of January. I don’t jump too many smaller classes with him; I try to save his jumps. Because of his brain, he doesn’t need too many warm-up classes. He can just jump right in and do what he’s good at.”
Whenever she’s facing a difficult course in a high-stakes event, Raleigh Hiler knows exactly who she wants to ride: Cassina 64. She’s been riding the 11-year-old Oldenburg (Collado—Loise, Lacantus) for two years, and they’ve tackled a lot of tough tracks together. Their experience paid off with a win in the $25,000 Show Jumping Hall Of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix.
“Cassina is great,” she said. “I love her so much. I have had her for about two years now. I’ve done a lot of the high [amateur-owner] classes and some CSI2* classes on her, so she is one of my best horses that I feel most comfortable on. I was really glad to have her here for that reason, and she is also great at indoors.”
Hiler is in college, so she’s been traveling back and forth in order to be able to ride, but the effort’s been worth it after a fantastic week at the National Horse Show.
“I felt really confident on her,” she said. “She jumped great the first day and then the second day she jumped even better. The speed class yesterday was definitely really technical, and she is a typey horse and great at turning, so I was really happy that I had her here for this. Since we got second yesterday, I felt amazing going in today. I went 23rd, so I was watching the class and it looked like it was a little tough for some people. It was definitely tough, for sure, and she just gave me her all. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
A Dream Achieved
Like many young riders, ever since Mia Chimenti heard about the famed National Horse Show she wanted nothing more than to be able to compete there. Last year she finally got the chance to compete and even pulled out a win in the handy round for the 3’3″ junior hunter, 15 and under, division with Ericcson. This year she did one better, earning the division championship with Balito and taking home the grand 3’3″ junior hunter title to boot.
“It is insane! It is unbelievable!” she said. “I still remember when I first started riding and dreamed of coming to the National Horse Show, and I was able to, which is an amazing accomplishment on its own, but to be able to come out of it grand champion is a dream come true! I will never forget it for the rest of my life.”
Balito, an 11-year-old Westphalian by Balou Du Rouet, is a newer ride for Chimenti, and he doubles as her equitation horse.
“Balito felt the best he ever has,” she said. “He had a great energy. He was very excited to be here just like I was, and it made it just go so nicely. He was a great partner this weekend, and I can’t thank him enough.”