Raeford, N.C.—March 24
Show jumping on the grass derby field at the Cloud 11-Gavilan North LLC Carolina International typically throws off many pairs, especially in the CIC***, but it was no problem for Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen today.
Despite the atmosphere around the ring and the turf, the pair put in a clear round over Marc Donovan’s course to move into the lead in the CIC*** after dressage leaders Allison Springer and Arthur dropped a rail to fall to fourth place.
Montgomery and “Glen,” a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, returned to the United States after the 2016 Olympic Games (Brazil), having spent several years in England where jumping on grass is common.
“He’s kind of become this one-rail horse at CICs. But I’m not really concerned about it because he’s got a great Sunday show jump record,” said Montgomery, who came to the Carolina International off a win at the Pine Top CIC*** (Ga.) where they had one down.
“He felt super. He was really energetic and popped good off the grass,” he said of his ride today. ““I thought it could have been a little bigger to be honest. I didn’t think it was up to height. Maybe they did that because of the grass, I’m not sure.”
Riders had an option at fence 9—turn left to a tight rollback to a vertical set near the Stonehenge cross-country complex which was situated in the ring, or turn right and jump a vertical on the short side of the ring before the final line.
In all, 22 pairs jumped clear out of 51 to jump.
Montgomery said the key to his show jumping success is that he doesn’t jump Glen much at home. He’s been working alone, but has taken a lesson from Richard Picken recently.
“I don’t jump him that much anymore. We all know about his little things now, so I don’t jump him to death,” he said. “I do enough to keep him fresh and make sure he’s jumping fit. He’s older now, so there’s not a whole lot of gymnastic work or exercises to do. Actually every time I’ve tried to do that during his career it made his jumping worse. The best thing is to create the energy and hold on, and he has that big, round jump.”
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are another pair with a great show jumping record, and they held true to form with a clear to move them up one spot into second place.
“Ping” is making a comeback at the top levels this year after taking off last year due to an injury.
“I was laughing because I was thinking this is the first time I’ve ever ridden him where he was in front of my leg. It was a nice feeling to feel like I could actually sit still on him, so that was really cool for me because I felt like it was one of my smoother rounds on him,” she said. “I always feel like I’m kicking him. But I always find, with that horse particularly, jumping in grass is difficult, and I thought that there was a lot of atmosphere there, and he jumped really well. I would say it was probably one of the nicest rounds I’ve had on him. He’s historically a good show jumper, but a lot of times I feel like I come out of the ring and it felt like I was working really hard. It was fun.”
Caroline Martin has recently taken the ride on The Apprentice, who was produced to the upper levels by Buck Davidson and is owned by her mother Sherrie.
The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding can be a tough show jumper, so Caroline was beaming when she came out of the ring with a clear round that moved her into third place.
“He jumps really well, the biggest thing is keeping him relaxed because he tries so hard and gets a little mental about it. If he taps one, he gets nervous because he made a mistake. It’s kind of like the dressage a little bit. But he jumped so well,” she said. “I thought it rode well. They gave you options if you needed to add a stride and get your horse a little more collected before the combination and gave you the chance to do seven or eight or five or six, and rewarded the people who rode strong to it. It didn’t go so well if you had to be a little bit careful in the combinations.”
As for tomorrow’s cross-country, each rider has a different plan to tackle Ian Stark’s big, bold track.
“The course is nice. It’s big enough. It’s a little twisty, but it’s nice,” said Montgomery. “I really can’t ever go that slow on him. He likes a forward, more aggressive ride. I’ll just have to see how it feels—how flat out do I stay towards the middle and the beginning with all the downhills? It walks a bit firm. If it sounds kind of slappy and dead as he’s galloping, I’ll probably back him off just a little bit. If it’s quite nice and he feels comfortable, I’ll keep going because I do want it for fitness as well. But I don’t want him to end up being sore.”
Brannigan knows Ping is up for the challenge, but she admitted she’s still got butterflies.
“I think this is an impressive CIC***. I think Ian’s a great designer and rewards bold riding, and I certainly came here to compete. I think that those leaderboards will change a lot, and I’ll just go out and do the best I can try to do. But I certainly think the coffin and the first water are really difficult, but I’m sure it will catch people out everywhere! It’s impressive. It’s tough enough that you’ll be thinking about it when you go to bed tonight,” she said.
Caroline is looking for experience in her first CIC*** with “Dirk.”
“I’ll just ride how I feel comfortable and how he feels comfortable. The thing with this horse is I’m not trying to change the way he goes or change my style of riding,” she said. “He’s giving me experience at the upper levels because I want to make a career out of this. He’s a partner to have to learn from. He’s beautifully produced, and I want to learn from what he knows, and I’ll ride to the best of my ability, and what happens, happens.”
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