Bonnie Mosser guided Happy Valley to a smooth and fault-free show jumping round on Sunday, Nov. 6, to climb to the top of the Virginia CCI**, at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va. It was one of only three perfect show jumping rounds among the top 10 horses as the final phase shook up the standings.
Third-placed Wendy Southam, of Stouffville, Ont., literally leaped from 10th as Ruba Z recorded one of those faultless trips. Mara Dean kept all the rails up with Jos Ambition but recorded 6 time faults to retain the second place she’d held from dressage.
Stephanie Wear kept the lead she’d taken in dressage to capture the young riders division over Merloch and Alexandra Zavoyna.
After 21 open division starters jumped the short-format cross-country course with no jumping or time faults, show jumping, in the VHC’s indoor coliseum, became decisive. Eight horses who finished with 4 faults or fewer climbed five to 10 places, while overnight leader Emily Beshear on Three Wishes dropped all the way to 14th after lowering five rails and adding 6 time faults. Beshear also fell on cross-country with third-placed Woodburn and retired, clearly shaken.
For Mosser, victory on the 8-year-old Irish-bred gelding, owned by Sanford Freeman, was especially rewarding since the juggled schedule at last month’s Radnor Hunt CCI** (Pa.) had robbed the pair of a top-five placing. Torrential rains that weekend forced the organizers to swap cross-country and show jumping, and since FEI rules require two horse inspections, officials required all finishers to appear before the ground jury within 90 minutes of finishing cross-country. But Happy Valley had hit his hindquarters on fence and gotten a bruise, making him temporarily lame.
“I had a little fire in my belly after that,” said Mosser, of Unionville, Pa.
Wear had some fire in her belly too, but for a different reason. She and Lionel The Stalker won the CIC** at Virginia in May, but a few weeks later “Lionel” spooked while galloping at coach Phillip Dutton’s farm and threw Wear, 21, into a wooden fence post. The impact broke her left elbow “into a million pieces” and prevented her from contesting the North American Young Riders Championships at the VHC. (This two-star course used almost exactly the same course as the NAYRC.)
Several reconstructive surgeries and months of physical therapy later, Wear competed Lionel again for the first time the week prior to Virginia, in open preliminary at CDCTA (Va.). She had no problems there, but Virginia was a much bigger question.
“I was extremely nervous because I wasn’t sure how it would hold up, especially with all the terrain here and the drop fences,” said Wear. “But my horse really stepped up to the plate for me,” she added, tears welling in her eyes.
During her rehabilitation, Dean, whom Dean starting working with at age 14, kept Lionel in work. “I have a lot of people to thank for this,” said Wear, of Newark, Del.