Unionville, Pa.—Sept. 21
Erin Sylvester’s show jumping preparation with Paddy The Caddy may be a bit unorthodox compared to some advanced horses, but she’s found the key to clear rounds with the 12-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding (Azamore—Slamy), and she’s sticking to it.
Very few show jumping schools and lots of cavaletti keep “Paddy” fresh, and he showed his skill today at the Plantation Field International CCI4*-S, jumping a stylish clear to move into the lead. Nineteen of 50 pairs show jumped clear over Marc Donovan’s course, with dressage leaders Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights dropping a rail to fall to third, and Caroline Martin and Danger Mouse moving up to second with a clear round.
“It felt like he jumped out of his skin, and he was keen, and he was happy to be in the ring,” said Sylvester, of Cochranville, Pennsylvania. “I really don’t do much [at home]. We try to save the jumps on his legs for cross-country schooling. I usually do a few jump schools at the beginning of the season just to get him going, then once he’s competing he usually doesn’t show jump in between the shows. It’s a very special thing just for him. He’s a really careful horse. He loves the challenge in show jumping. He’s very happy in the ring.”
Sylvester’s had Paddy since the end of his 3-year-old year when Frank McEntee, who now co-owns him with Sylvester, decided he wasn’t going to pan out as a race horse.
“He took to everything pretty easily,” said Sylvester. “He’s a fun horse to work with because he’s a much better mover on the flat than the average Thoroughbred, and he has a lot of presence about him. I think he takes pride in his work and has a really funny personality. He’s been really fun to bring along.”
Watch Sylvester’s round via USEF Network.
The pair won the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L (Montana) in 2017 and completed their first Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L this spring.
“He feels like he’s getting into his prime and feels like the same horse every time I take him out of the start box,” said Sylvester. “It took a really long time to get him to that place. He was really nervous running cross-country when he was a bit younger, and he would kind of get wild on course and unrideable, and not in a good way, but he’s great now. He’s a blast to ride.”
Sylvester suffered a fall this afternoon with her CCI3*-S horse Morning Glory SE when she “rode poorly,” in her words, to a gallop fence, and they both went down. Both are OK, but she said she’ll see how she feels before deciding whether to run Paddy and her other four-star horse Campground tomorrow.
“I would like to,” she said. “I just popped off my three-star horse, and I’m feeling a bit sore from that, so I want to make sure I feel 100 percent before running them around cross-country. [The course has] got plenty of good questions on it with a lead-up in mind for Fair Hill or the Jockey Club. There’s enough challenge on it without being unfair.”
Cross-country starts at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.