Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Piro Aims For The Stars With Fernhill Fullmoon At Fitch’s Corner

A little good luck mixed with excellent preparation made for a weekend of firsts.

Samantha Piro and Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials had something in common this year. It was the first CIC* for each.

Piro, a 23-year-old from Norwich, Vt., won the inaugural Fitch’s Corner CIC*, held July 25-27, in Millbrook, N.Y. Although an eventer since childhood, she’d never competed in an international horse trial.
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A little good luck mixed with excellent preparation made for a weekend of firsts.

Samantha Piro and Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials had something in common this year. It was the first CIC* for each.

Piro, a 23-year-old from Norwich, Vt., won the inaugural Fitch’s Corner CIC*, held July 25-27, in Millbrook, N.Y. Although an eventer since childhood, she’d never competed in an international horse trial.

Piro took the win with Fernhill Fullmoon over Heather Maytham and In The Net. Fernhill Fullmoon is a 14-year-old, Irish Sport Horse mare (Able Albert—Old Abby Girl) imported from Ireland three years ago. Cross-country is “Monica’s” strength, according to Piro.

“That’s her most favorite thing,” she said. “She’d probably do it without me on her back. It’s what she was bred for, and she loves it. And this course rode just great. It was a big course and nice and galloping, which is what Monica likes best, so it was the perfect course for us.”

Although it was Piro’s first CIC*, her mare had competed in one in Ireland. As a pair, Piro and Monica have successfully competed at preliminary level for the last three years, so Piro felt prepared.

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“She’s gotten through some of the harder prelims in our area,” Piro said. “I’d never been to Fitch’s Corner before, but I had heard good things about it. I heard it was a challenging course and decided to take the challenge. I felt we were ready.”

And Piro had only praise for the event. “I want the people involved with Fitch’s Corner to know that it was so wonderful to be there. It’s so beautiful, and the owners of the farm did a great job. I know it takes so much to run an event like that, and people often don’t get the praise they deserve.”

Days of heavy rains prior to the event gave way to sunny skies for the first two days, leaving the cross-country course in prime shape. But the weather took a turn for the worse on the final day of competition, just after the CIC* riders finished show jumping, as thunderstorms nailed the show grounds.

“It was one of the scariest thunderstorms I had been in. It was so terrifying. We were afraid to keep the horses in the tents, so we ran them onto the trailer at the last minute. And once it calmed down, we pulled out. It was crazy,” Piro said.

The show grounds lost power, and once that happened, several divisions of show jumping had to be cancelled. Placings were determined based on dressage and cross-country scores.

Piro said downed trees and power lines extended her trip home from the usual four hours to six. Despite the scary ending, she was thrilled with her first CIC*.

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“I was thrilled, really. It was a big division of really experienced people, and I was surprised to get a nice dressage score that put us in the lead from the start. It was the first time I’d ridden in a shadbelly, and it was fun to get all dressed up,” Piro said.

Piro trains with Jane Hamlin and credited her emphasis on dressage for their winning ride. “In my lessons with Jane over the years, she has helped me become better on the flat,” she said. “So, I take the time in the dressage arena, because it makes the horses so much more rideable. At the same time, you don’t want to spend so much time in the dressage arena that the horses forget that on the cross-country course they have to think for themselves. You have to have a balance.”

It also helps that dressage is a big part of life in the Piro family. The family owns Pirouette Farm in Norwich, Vt., and her mother, Mary, and sister, Jacquelyn, are serious dressage riders. Her father, Robert, shares her passion for eventing.

“Actually, everyone in the family started with eventing, but my mom and sister decided they like dressage best. But I love the thrill of cross-country. I think that’s what it’s all about,” Piro said.

A recent college graduate in biology, Piro said she’s focused on eventing right now since she currently has such a talented horse. Although her future work career is uncertain, her career with horses is not. She’s already planning to tackle another one-star later this year.

Lynndee Kemmet

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