Raeford, N.C. – March 19
Phillip Dutton may only have the ride on Kristen Bond’s I’m Sew Ready for a limited time before she gets back in the saddle after having her first child, but he may not be so ready to give the gelding back after taking the top spot in the CIC*** after dressage at the Cloud 11- Gavilan North LLC Carolina International.
Dutton’s been riding the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lupicor—Jarda, Elcaro), who’s owned by Kristine and John Norton, for Bond since last summer. They completed the CIC*** at Plantation Field (Pa.) and the CCI** at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International (Md.) and Dutton’s found their partnership growing this spring.
“He’s a very good jumper and actually this has been the hardest phase—the dressage,” said Dutton. “He’s a big mover and is pretty educated in all the movements. I’m just trying to get him to use himself. He’s a little bit stiff and so actually because I had so many [to ride, I didn’t ride him twice, and I got on him for nearly an hour today and I think it helps a bit to have plenty of time, just to not rush the warm up and let him loosen up. So I was pleased.”
The pair scored a 43.1 as one of the last group to go on a chilly, rainy day. While many horses were quite fresh and up, “Jackson” was focused, soft and steady, but that didn’t mean Dutton didn’t have to work for it.
“He doesn’t get nervous or whatever,” he said. “He’s a bit of an upright horse, so he doesn’t naturally go really round and through without a lot of work. So just to get him to do the movements and keep using himself and staying soft is the main stuff we’ve been working on.”
Lainey Ashker slotted into second place (44.3) behind Dutton with her longtime partner Anthony Patch.
The 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Castle Guard—Aimee Alexis, Right Mind) last competed in an FEI event in March of 2014, and Ashker’s got her eye on the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in April with “Al”.
“I was really pleased with it,” said Ashker. “I was in Wellington [Fla.] last weekend for a dressage show and I got some help from Jacquie Brooks, who’s been awesome. So he always puts in a pretty steady test and what I lack a lot is the brilliance in the test, which is what I need to take into Kentucky, so that’s what I was focusing on.”
Ashker was happy to have the USEF Network live feed going so her mother, Valerie, could watch from afar in her home in California.
“They’ve done an amazing job [with the event]—the trade fair, and the live feed, it’s great because my mom is back in California and my mom’s always here at all my big shows and so she’s sort of living very close to the computer these next couple of days!” she said. “It’s really great to have this added atmosphere for the horses and a level of competition to ride—I think it really preps us for our spring three days.”
A Big Day For Little
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous took the lead in the CIC** after scoring a 38.6 in dressage. The pair was fresh off a win from the week before in the Red Hills CIC** (Fla.), but the chill and wind at the Carolina Horse Park added a new challenge.
“This was the freshest and least attentive she’s been in awhile! I think the cold climate coming from Florida is hard for [the horses],” said Little. “And she didn’t get ridden twice; she just kind of got a quick warm-up and a ride yesterday, but the partnership is getting stronger so it’s been easier and easier. She was a lot more animated today. I was happy to see that even though she probably had twice as much energy and enthusiasm, she kept it under wraps in the test, and so she’s maturing.”
Germany’s Vivien Reddig campaigned “Kitty” to the one-star level until 2013, and Little has been racking up good placings on the mare ever since. She’s won their most recent outings—Pine Top CIC** (Ga.) in February and Red Hills CIC** in March—proving the 10-year-old Oldenburg’s (Carry Gold—Richardia, Lario) consistency.
Little, of Frederick, Md., added that the test, new to riders this year, may have caused an upward skew in all of the dressage scores. “I think the three-star test was busy in the walk work and then you could end up with a bit of an unsettled horse in the canter. I would expect you’ll see the scores getting better and better as the year goes on and the riders get to ride it more because we’ll find ways and loopholes of making certain things easier for certain horses once we get a little more comfortable with these events.”
The CIC** marked only Carlevo’s second FEI outing with Buck Davidson, who piloted the gelding to the second spot on a score of 41.6 behind Little and Kitty.
“The best part is, I haven’t had him very long so I haven’t had time to mess him up!” joked Davidson, of Riegelsville, Pa. and Ocala, Fla. “He seems to know what he’s doing; he’s quiet and easy. I’m very excited about him.”
In fact, Davidson was so excited about taking on the new ride that he closed the deal on the way to his own wedding to Andrea Leatherman. “Carlevo came up in maybe November—actually, when I was driving to my wedding. I got a call and he said, ‘I think I found a horse.’ ”
A few calls, one ceremony and a honeymoon later, Davidson swung a leg over the 8-year-old Holsteiner (Caresino—Ramatuelle, Levernois), formerly campaigned by Germany’s Dirk Schrade, and was glad he’d taken the word of JP Sheffield, a horse dealer in England, who passed on the word.
While Davidson describes Carlevo as the “quietest horse in the world,” he’s got a quirky aversion to tractors, so that’s the only thing he has to watch out for come show time. Fitness will be the major focus in their training program.
“He’s been galloping but doesn’t seem super fit, so he’s entered at [the Ocala CCI**] but we might wait for Jersey [Fresh (N.J.)],” said Davidson, who rode him to second place earlier this month in the Red Hills CIC*. “But I don’t really have a big agenda; I just kind of want to get to know him. I’m going to kind of let him tell me where to go.”
Little also took the lead in the CIC* on RF West Indie (34.9), sits third on RF Overdressed (36.8), while Doug Payne filled the second slot aboard Lysander (35.8).
Show jumping for the CIC*** and CIC** divisions get underway tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., while cross-country for the CIC* begins at 12 p.m.
Watch a live stream of the CIC*** competition all weekend on USEF Network.
Scores are available on EventEntries.com.