Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2024

Ingalls Shines in the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic

Plenty of teenagers can find their way around a tough equitation course with a veteran trainer on hand to decide on a schooling regime, choose how many strides to put in a line set on a half-stride and pick which inside turns will pay off and which would backfire. But for the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic on March 20 at HITS Thermal VIII, the trainers settled into the VIP Oasis Club to hit the bar and let their students tackle a tough course on their own.

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Plenty of teenagers can find their way around a tough equitation course with a veteran trainer on hand to decide on a schooling regime, choose how many strides to put in a line set on a half-stride and pick which inside turns will pay off and which would backfire. But for the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic on March 20 at HITS Thermal VIII, the trainers settled into the VIP Oasis Club to hit the bar and let their students tackle a tough course on their own.

In the end, Hap Hansen’s student Caroline Ingalls rose to the challenge, edging out Cayla Richards, trained by Jenny Karazissis. Richards’ mount Asparagus was honored as the best equitation horse of the class. Karen Healey rider Samantha Harrison catapulted from seventh to third after laying down the best-scoring trip of the class the second go around.

John Manning and Jill Henselwood judged the riders as they schooled their mounts, awarding up to 2 points to be added or subtracted from the over fences score, and Steve Wall, Eddie Macken, Keith Hastings and Laura Balisky presided over the performance in the grand prix field.

With no professional help in sight, normally competitive teenagers coupled up to try to decipher the technical track on the grand prix field. As the only Hap Hansen Stables student, Ingalls joined friend Jocelyn Neff, who trains with Karen Healey, on foot.

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“There were a lot of decisions to make,” said Ingalls. “You had to figure out where to take the inside turns, and there were some tough lines that were set really long. We discussed it for a while, and in the end I went with what Hap always says, ‘When in doubt, leave it out.’ Because my horse is still pretty green I had to keep that in mind when I was making my plan.”

The first round found plenty of victims, with a few refusals and rails hitting the dirt for the more novice riders and median scores settling into the upper 60s. Ingalls laid down a foot-perfect round to take the lead from the start, returning last in the second round. The second course included a trot fence and tough counter-canter fence off a tight turn.

“I was very confident in her ability to walk the course and know what to do,” said Hansen. “She rode well, and there was only one place where I would have advised her to do something different: the last line I wanted her to gallop up and leave out a stride. But by the time she went it was heading into dark, so actually she probably made the right choice.”

The win proved especially sweet for Ingalls, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., as she focuses solely on the equitation. Next year she’ll head to the Savannah College of Art and Design (Ga.) in the fall. “I’ve always had a creative passion,” said Ingalls. “But their riding program doesn’t hurt either!”

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