Mill Spring, N.C.—April 8
Looking towards her second Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI**** (England) with Veronica, Lauren Kieffer has a bit of score to settle.
Last year she rode conservatively on cross-country and added double-digit time penalties to finish 17th, but after a solid run at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (England) last fall and capturing the win in the advanced, test B, division at The Fork this morning as one of her final prep runs, Kieffer is feeling more confident than ever headed to England.
Kieffer, Ocala, Florida, and Middleburg, Virginia, was in second place at The Fork after dressage on Team Rebecca LLC’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Pacific—Kimball), and even after adding 10.8 time penalties to her score on yesterday’s cross-country, she moved into first. A clear show jumping round over Chris Barnard’s course this morning sealed the win.
“She was really good in there,” she said. “In the past we’ve had the odd time penalty, especially with the time being tight. The goal is to make smart turns and be quick. I was really happy with that. She’s got a ton of experience in the rings. Funny enough, courses like this are harder on her because there’s not a ton of atmosphere or fillers, and she can get a little blasé now that she’s been around so much. She was a little tappy in the beginning, but she kind of woke up a bit. I was thrilled with the way she jumped today. She certainly doesn’t feel like she’s 16. Nobody’s told her.”
Kieffer, a two-time USEF National Four-Star Champion, would like to defend her title again with Veronica, but she’ll be taking Landmark’s Monte Carlo and Vermiculus to Kentucky instead.
“I really want to take her to Kentucky, but I also don’t think I can do as good a job if I have three horses,” she said. “I’d like another crack at Badminton with her too. Hopefully the same kind of dressage, and clear but faster now that I know the course. Vermiculus and Monte Carlo are greener, so I’d rather take them to Kentucky.
“She’s pretty fit, so it will just be putting the last ticks on the fitness and peaking at the right time; cleaning up the dressage test,” she continued. “We always do our final jump schools with Scott Keach to make sure she’s sharp. At this point, you know what works for them to peak them at the right time, hopefully.”
Lynn Symansky isn’t heading towards a four-star with Mary Ann Ghadban’s Under Suspection, but she got another solid run under her belt with the 14-year-old Holsteiner mare (Contender—Naomagic I, Exhorbitant XX), who she just got the ride on this spring.
The pair topped the advanced, test A, division, adding 8.8 time penalties on cross-country yesterday and 3 time penalties in show jumping today.
“I’d like to take all the credit for her being awesome, but she’s had a lot of work put into her over the years,” said Symansky of “Pippy,” who was formerly campaigned by Sharon White and Hannah Sue Burnett. “I get to ride a very nice horse. She was awesome all weekend. She put in a great test. Cross-country, she has bigger plans, and she just ran two weeks ago, so I didn’t want to go crazy quick on her. It was just another opportunity for me to get to know her before she heads to a CCI*** [at Jersey Fresh]. She always really tries her heart out, and she’s a beast. I was really happy with how she went and just getting to know her a bit more.”
Symansky has to run a CCI*** with Pippy despite being a category A rider, but she’s happy to take the time to get to know the mare.
“There’s more points to be had in the dressage for sure; I made some mistakes,” she said. “Cross-country, she’s strong. She’s a long horse, so she likes to be a bit low. It’s a different ride for me. I’m on ones that are a little more Thoroughbred-y and up there, so it’s little bit of an adjustment for me to figure out how to shave seconds off. In the show jumping, I think time was incredibly hard to make, but I didn’t get to see anything earlier, so it was just finding ways to shave off seconds.”
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