Monday, Apr. 15, 2024

Eikan Tango Dances To The Win At The Weatherford CIC**

Danielle Williams gets her gray mare back on track in Texas.

A quick turn of foot put Danielle Williams and Eikan Tango into the top spot of the Weatherford CIC** on May 2-4 at Greenwood Farm in Weatherford, Texas.
PUBLISHED

ADVERTISEMENT

Danielle Williams gets her gray mare back on track in Texas.

A quick turn of foot put Danielle Williams and Eikan Tango into the top spot of the Weatherford CIC** on May 2-4 at Greenwood Farm in Weatherford, Texas.

Heather Morris and Williams enjoy a friendly rivalry at the upper levels in Texas. Consistent with a trend they have well established, Morris and Genial won the dressage phase with a score of 50.6, chased by Williams and Eikan Tango in second (57.6). Williams’ score was a strong improvement over her previous CIC** tests, and she was well seated with her placing to excel in the jumping tests with her scopey mount.

Both Williams and Morris have ridden their horses over the John Williams-designed cross-country course before, but some new obstacles and modifications presented them with different challenges this year. At the 2007 CIC** competition, Morris and Williams finished the weekend placed first and second respectively, despite each posting 20 penalties for run outs on the course.

This year, they were each older and wiser and a little bit faster on the course, over which it has been notoriously difficult to achieve optimum time. Eikan Tango was bit more fleet of foot than Genial and added only 4.8 penalties to Williams’ score, while Morris and Genial posted 12.8 time penalties.

“The course was a bit busy early on,” said Morris. “Before I knew it I was down on the clock, but I was not going to go balls to the wall at that point as it wasn’t right for the ride I was having.”

Their placings now swapped, and with less than a rail between them, the riders were both determined to earn the prize money on the show jumping field.

ADVERTISEMENT

No one had achieved a clear show jumping round before Morris entered. The falling rails before her ride increased her margin over the third-placed position to three rails. But just 1 penalty point separated her from Williams.

A recent change to jumping in a hackamore has made a significant improvement in Morris and Genial’s teamwork over the show jumps. A picture-perfect round commenced. But just before fence 9, Genial took a subtly awkward step. Even though Genial had jumped the fence cleanly, Morris pulled him up several strides after landing. Morris waved a hand to the judge’s box as a sign of her withdrawal and leapt from the back of her horse, looking to his legs in inquiry.

Morris called for the farrier to remove the left front shoe that had twisted, driving the clip into Genial’s hoof. Once the shoe was removed, Morris led Genial from the field to respectful applause.

Despite the unanticipated delay that preceded her ride, Williams maintained her focus while held in the warm-up ring. By now no stranger to jumping in the pressure position, Williams executed a quick and tidy round with one rail. Williams and her mare earned the lion’s share of the prize money and a well-deserved victory gallop in her first FEI win.

Williams, an amateur rider with a full-time job as an engineer at Bell Helicopter, finished 2007 with a win in the intermediate division at the Holly Hill Horse Trials (La.) in November but had encountered problems at her first two outings this February, at intermediate at Pine Top Winter II (Ga.) and at advanced at Pine Top Spring Advanced. But upon returning home to Aubrey, Texas, she promptly won an intermediate division at the Holly Hill I Horse Trials in April.

Junior rider Olivia Upham and her New Zealand Sporthorse, In Any Event, bested the 27 pairings in the CIC*. She led from the start with a 47.9 in dressage, rode faultlessly across country and survived dropping the two rails she had in hand and earning 1 time penalty in the show jumping to finish on a score of 56.9.

Upham, 16, from Mineral Wells, Texas, has been riding “Mitch” for a year, after Clark Montgomery recommended him. The horse had previously competed at the advanced level with Amy Tryon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Upham has ridden with Montgomery since she worked for him as a summer student four years ago and moved to Virginia for a year to train with him. Montgomery recently relocated to train in England, so Upham returned to Texas after finishing second at the Morven Park CCI*-Y (Va.) in October.

After her East Coast successes this spring, the return to Texas was a little disruptive, and the pair had two outings that weren’t to their satisfaction. “Our last two shows weren’t very good. He gets really excited, and we have been trying to figure out a better balance for him with feed and warm-up,” Upham said.

Mary D’Arcy O’Conner, with whom Upham rides while in Texas, has helped them work through the issues.

“It was a big change for Olivia to come back here and be with all of her friends. Nothing really went wrong in her riding; it just wasn’t going well,” O’Conner said. “In the past couple of weeks we’ve worked on leaving no stone unturned and really being prepared for this competiton. It’s all come together and Olivia rode very maturely. She didn’t chase the time, she didn’t make foolish assumptions, she rode very well, and I am pleased for her.”

Upham enjoyed her time on the East Coast but was happy to be home. “It was harder than I thought it would be. I discovered that I like being with family and friends, but it was such a great learning experience. I’ll probably be staying here for now—I need to focus on school and worry about getting into college,” Upham said.

Stacey Quarles

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse