Kelly Sult wasn’t discouraged to find herself in 33rd place after dressage with her off-the-track Thoroughbred, Hollywood.
After all, she and the 17-year-old gelding had never finished lower than 13th in their last two appearances at the Fair Hill CCI***, and they’d done so with much higher scores. The 23-year-old rider from Erie, Pa., burst on the international scene there in 2007, posting just 3.6 time faults on cross-country and a double-clear show jumping round to finish eighth out of a field of 66.
So it was a bit of déjà vu when, two years later, Sult and Hollywood (Mighty Adversary—True Knight) found themselves under the same circumstances: another starting field of 66, another 3.6 time penalties on Saturday and another double-clear on Sunday.
This time, however, they went home with third place overall (60.0), and Sult won the USEF National Under-25 Championship, the USEF National Owner/Rider Championship and the Edward Johnson Memorial Trophy for the best-placed adult amateur.
Now an experienced pair with two four-stars to their credit, Sult and Hollywood easily ate up the cross-country course at Fair Hill and didn’t flinch at the footing. Their fault-free show jumping performance moved them up from fifth to third.
“He’s fantastic,” Sult said of her longtime partner. “The older he’s getting, the better he’s getting. Everyone tells me that they can’t believe he’s 17.”
Sult boards at a dressage barn in Northwestern Pennsylvania and now winters in Aiken, S.C., to train with Bobby Costello. But she advanced up to the three-star level with little more than a few training books, a supportive family and a brave and talented mount.
“We’ve just finally gotten his dressage down to where he doesn’t do extra moves,” she said, laughing. “And his jumping’s gotten so much better too. He’s got a big heart and loves his job. He’s just a good horse.”