Paso Robles, Calif.—Sept. 20
The CCI4*-S had an exciting shake up of the top placings to finish out the international divisions at the Twin Rivers Fall International. It was Tamie Smith and Passepartout, owned by her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook, who came out on top with the fastest cross-country time of the group. Ruth Bley’s 11-year-old Hanoverian Danito took second. Erin Kellerhouse and her own Woodford Reserve rounded out the top three.
Smith has made the most of the long break in show schedule. Show jumping focus with international grand prix riders Ali Nilforushan and Peter Wylde at home at Kings Way Farm in Temecula, California, paid off in the performances of Passepartout and the rest of the deep string of talent she brought to Twin Rivers.
“It’s been really good to have the extra attention in jumping,” she said after logging three clear rounds on Friday over Jose Nava’s courses, including on Passepartout and Danito.
“It was my plan to go out and have a steady quiet go with Danito,” she said. “The handsome chestnut is “really coming into his own,” she explained. He initially led the standings on his 25.1 dressage score and a clear show jump. “I asked Kaylawna if she wanted me to go fast on her horse, and she said yes. I had never ridden him cross-country and so was pleasantly surprised at what an incredible horse my daughter has! I am so excited for their future together,” said Smith.
Smith-Cook and Passepartout have had a remarkable first year together, logging their first advanced finish at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March. Smith has the ride on the talented horse now because Smith-Cook and her husband are expecting.
“All my horses were incredible today,” Smith said. “The courses and footing rode great;, the attention to the footing was greatly appreciated.”
While she has been back competing since July, with a trip to Rebecca Farm [Montana], Smith acknowledges that the “new normal” still takes some getting used to. “We feel so fortunate that the organizers are going above and beyond to enable us to enjoy competitions again. It seems like we have figured it out. Everybody is diligent about wearing masks and the organizers are enforcing things like taking temperatures. It’s a new era for all of us,” she said.
Kellerhouse was thrilled with her Woodford Reserve’s performance. “‘Woody’ was really good in his first CCI4*-S, he answered all the questions easily and galloped really well. The courses were really fun and gallopy with good questions,” she said.
“It was amazing!” said almost-18-year-old Haley Turner of her win with Shadow Inspector in the CCI2*-S. Their 26.8 dressage score stayed put over the show jumping, designed by Jose Nava. The afternoon’s run over totally new cross-country routes by Hugh Lochore went smoothly, too. Just a .4 time fault, to end on a 27.2.
“It’s been quite a long journey for us,” said the student of Bea and Derek DiGrazia. The 10-year-old Irish sport horse sustained an injury the first year she had him, then she was injured in the second year of their partnership. This year, their third together, began with high hopes for a North American Youth Championships spot and started well at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March, when they finished second in the preliminary junior/young rider division. Then came COVID.
“It’s wonderful to get back out there. The cross-country course is completely different than it was in March,” said Turner. “It was fun and a good challenge while also being inviting.”
An online student through high school, Turner graduated early last spring and plans to take a gap year partly because of COVID’s impact on the college experience. The opportunity to focus full time on her riding has been a plus and a pleasure. “It’s almost like we’ve had a second winter to practice and improve our skills,” she said.
Amateur rider Lauren Burnell and Counterpoint finished second, on their 29.0 dressage score. Emilee Libby and Natalia Valente’s Toska moved up steadily, from an eighth-place tie after dressage, into third thanks to penalty-free show jumping and cross-country.
Smith picked up another win over the weekend with Linda and Terry Paine’s 8-year-old homebred Thoroughbred, Cheers, who was the only horse without time faults on Lochore’s CCI3*-S cross-country. That speed helped him move up from an eighth ranked 34.3 dressage score, and a show jumping rail, which Smith described as “my rail,” to win the day.
“He’s been a work in progress, and it’s really cool to have him seal the deal here. Every horse is different; he’s hot and has been a bit slow to develop,” she said. “As the final phase neared, Smith’s “right hand person,” Bridget London calculated that a double-clear would earn the win, and that’s what the pair delivered. “He is an amazing cross-country horse,” she said.
She had a different tactic with her second-place winner, Solaguayre California, a relatively new ride. Third after dressage on a 32.3, they had a rail Smith again took the blame for, then 4 time penalties on cross-country. “Out of the box, I am always going for what I need with each different horse. She’d had a beautiful, solid show jumping round, and the time was hard to make on cross-country. It was not an easy track to make up time on. So, I wasn’t trying to go crazy fast on her because she is green and more spooky than Cheers,” she said. “We went at the level that I needed to for her training.”
The Argentine Thoroughbred was developed by David Adamo, who “did a phenomenal job with her,” she added.
Bec Braitling and Arnell Sport Horses’ Caravaggio II finished third in the division. After leading dressage with a 30.6, a show jumping rail and cross-country time faults slipped them to third.
For full results, click here.