Tamra Smith and Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell’s 12-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, Mai Baum sailed to the lead in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final. It’s been a while since Mai Baum has been inside the white box, but he certainly seemed to be enjoying the spotlight, strutting to the lead on a score of 26.4.
Since winning the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI*** in 2015, Mai Baum has had just three outings, two in 2017 and one this summer at intermediate at Twin Rivers (California). After recovering from a mild strain sustained at Fair Hill, Mai Baum contracted an infection in his gut that prolonged his return to competition in 2017. Then, on the way home from an event, he fell in the trailer and injured his leg, requiring more time off. “Dr. Rantanen and Dr. Martinelli at California Equine Orthopedics have this high-powered laser. There are only a handful in the world, and we decided that since he was going to have time off that we would do the laser on the leg he strained at Fair Hill and that gave us even more time,” Smith said. “We’ve been bringing him back slowly. He had that time off, so it’s taken quite a while to get him fit and strong, but he feels strong and fit now.”
“He was completely wild today,” Smith continued.
“Well, he likes to run and jump!” Eric Markell chimed in.
“He smiles when he runs cross-country.” Smith said. “I wasn’t sure what he was going to do in the ring, and he was strong, not listening to my half-halts and flinging his legs. I think he was very happy to be on a stage like that. I picked up the canter and went around the ring, and I couldn’t help but smile. He’s so special, and he’s such a showman. It’s really fun. It’s hilarious when he’s naughty because it’s not often that he’s naughty. In my test, I was doing my half-pass, and then I went to go forward to do my change, and he leapt in the air, kicked at my right foot and then bolted. Right after that came my stretchy circle, so I didn’t even start it until it was too late. It was fun, but he was wild.”
“When I was leaving I heard one man say to another, ‘That horse comes in the ring and takes it over with his personality,’ ” Markell said.
Tomorrow, Smith’s plan is to go out and have a smooth ride across the course. “Phillip [Dutton] told me once that the challenge when you go out of the start box is to look slow but be fast,” Smith said. “That’s my plan, just be efficient in the lines and be smooth and feel what the ground feels like, and if it feels good then kick on, and if it doesn’t just stay steady.”
Second place went to Jordán Linstedt and RevitaVet Capato, Barbara and Gary Linstedt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, who scored a 27.5. Smith also sits in third place aboard Judith McSwain’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare Fleeceworks Royal on a score of 30.8.
Charlie Tango’s On Fire
Heather Morris and The Team Express Group LLC’s Charlie Tango, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Shannondale Sarco St. Ghyvan—Our Queen Bee), lead a competitive intermediate division on a score of 25.8. Erin Kellerhouse, and her own Woodford Reserve, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding have a tight grasp on second place with a 28.0, while Bella Mowbray and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare rounded out the top three on a 30.5.
“I actually imported ‘Chuck’ from Ireland when he was 4,” said Morris, “so I’ve really had him since the beginning. He’s done some advanced; we did drop him back down for AEC, and for the remaining shows this year he’ll just do the CCI** level, then we’ll move him back up next year.
“He’s a pretty reliable horse,” she continued. “He’s quite good in the ring, quite accurate. I think I would like for it to be more expressive, so that’s what we’ll work toward in the shows this fall and focusing on just making it a little more rideable.”
Other Dressage Leaders:
• School teacher Cara Lavigna piloted her own Carrick Diamond Duke, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding to an early lead in the preliminary amateur division, after scoring a 31.1 in dressage.
“I’ve had ‘Duke’ for three years,” said Lavigna. “I got him as a 5-year-old. He’s always been a fancy mover. He jumps really big and tries really hard. As he’s become older and more mature, watching his progression has been really fun and creating a bond has been cool. He really enjoys his cross-country. We are currently learning how to put the pieces together because now things are getting harder. We are developing our partnership. When he goes into the ring for show jumping and dressage, he knows his job; he perks up; he really likes to show off, and that’s fun for both of us.”
• Texan Mike Huber rode Ann Adams’ 11-year-old Oldenburg mare Calliope to first-place position in the preliminary rider division, after finishing on a score of 25.7
“The horse is one that I ride for a client of mine,” said Huber, “Ann Adams normally rides the horse, and I don’t ride her that frequently. Ann is getting ready to move up to preliminary, and she’s been riding Calliope in training level, so I’ve taken her out a few times at this level this year and obviously qualified for the AEC; so we are competing here this weekend.”
• Linstedt danced to the highest score of the morning in the Preliminary Horse division, riding Janine Jaro’s 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding, scoring27.6. The combination was the first in the ring for the class of 24 and maintained their grip on first throughout the phase.
“He’s really been quite strong in all three phases recently,” Linstedt said. “When I first got him, he was a challenging young horse, a bit of a late developer. He has really blossomed this past year, so he’s been really fun to work with and produce. He’s stunning on the flat, very elegant, and puts in a good test.”
• California competitor Charlotte Babbitt and her own 2 A.M., a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding currently sit atop the junior/young rider preliminary division, as they look to cross-country tomorrow on a 23.3.
“It was interesting, when I got him he wasn’t really my ride, but he’s young, so it was a very good experience for me, developing him into the horse I wanted him to be,” Babbitt said. “It’s pretty cool now—he’s my exact ride. I love him to death, and I couldn’t imagine having any other horse. It’s been a struggle, but with the help of my trainers Andrea [Pfeiffer] and Amber [Levine] I’ve been able to work with him. He’s pretty easy to work with. He’s a super nice horse and he just wants to learn and do well so it’s been really fun developing a partnership.”
• The training amateur division saw the top dressage score of 27.3 go to Linda Quist and her own 14-year-old Iberian Warmblood, Belle Gambe.
The duo has been partnered since the mare’s birth, and their bond speaks for itself in and out of the show ring.
“My horse is amazing,” Quist said. “I’ve had her since she was born, so we have an incredible partnership. She’s my friend; she’s another mare, and we connect like a pair of girlfriends. Sometimes we argue, sometimes things go great, sometimes they go not-so-great. She has her opinions; I have mine.”
• McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, have a commanding lead in the training horse division on a score of 28.5, leading by 4.6 points.
“He was great, but I was very nervous,” said Rollins. “He does very well in atmosphere, and that helps calm me down. It’s surprising, because he just turned 6 in June, but he has never really given me any trouble. He shines in the dressage ring, and he loves to get in there. He was a little bit fresh, so he got a little heavy in some places, but he’s just so lovely, and it’s really fun to ride him.”
• Oregon-native Kelsey Horn pranced to the lead in the training rider division with the 6-year-old Oldenburg mare Swingtown. With a talent for riding young horses, Horn has focused her efforts on creating a steady string of top event horses over the past few years.
“I’ve been riding [Swingtown] since I broke her as a 3-year-old. She won the 4-Year-Old West Coast Event Championship in 2016, and then in 2017 she had a year off due to an injury. This season we are back at it and we did a couple of novice events at the beginning of the season, bumped up to training, and we will see where the rest of the year takes us!”
• Eva Jacroux and her own Rubel, a 12-year-old Zweibrucker gelding lead a competitive Junior training division on a score of 31.4.
Jacroux admitted that her excursion with “Ru” began on a rocky note but has since shaped up to be a positive partnership. “I got Ru about two years ago, and this is my second season on him. It did start off a bit rocky. He was way too much horse for me, and I was a little worried whether or not I’d be able to ride him. I came from a push button ride, but I decided that I was going to try my hardest to make it work. I started doing a lot of ground work. I started going back to the basics, and it seems to have really worked because he’s come into his own.”
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