Washington D.C.—Oct. 26
The warm-up ring at the Capital One Arena for the Washington International Horse Show can be intimidating for even the most experienced horse, with giant pillars in the middle, other horses racing by and only two jumps.
On the first day of the show, Lauren McCaulley’s Tenacious D got a little overwhelmed with the cramped space and only time for one warm-up jump before heading into the arena, but she put her game face on in the ring to win the low junior/amateur-owner class on Thursday and finish second yesterday, culminating in the low junior/amateur-owner jumper championship today.
“The weekend was great,” said McCaulley. “We had some issues in the warm-up ring the first day—she can be a little energetic so I only got to catch one warm-up jump but we ended up winning that day. The second day I rode the first round bad but she was great.”
McCaulley, St. Charles, Illinois, has partnered with “Darcy,” an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Carthino Z and owned by her sister Kennedy McCaulley, for a year and a half. Kennedy won the same championship last year aboard Zershina.
“She’s perfect; she’s such a steady mare, and she knows her job and helps me out whenever she can,” said McCaulley. “She’s helped me so much. I go in the ring and know she’s going to do her job so I just have to do mine. She’s helped me become more confident and more consistent. Going in the ring yesterday, I was fourth in the jump-off. I went in and after the rollback did a leave out. We’ve become so confident as a pair; I know what I can do with her and what adjustments I can make in the ring—where I can leave out a stride.”
McCaulley started training with Stacia Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables in New Jersey last winter and has learned to be more consistent with her riding with a focus on flatwork.
On the ground, Darcy is a “sweetheart,” but is sometimes a bit too friendly.
“Sometimes she doesn’t understand that other horses aren’t as sweet as her and she’ll go up to everyone; she always wants to make friends,” said McCaulley. “Her old owners taught her to ‘smile’ for a treat. Everyone knows her as very energetic; if you just see her you might think she’s kind of crazy, but she’s one of the steadiest horses I’ve ever had, and she’s helped me learn a lot. The minute you put her in the ring and point her at a jump she knows what she’s doing and she’s going no matter what.”
Being the first to go in a class can be tough, but Paige Matthies relishes the challenge. She was first in the ring this afternoon for the $15,500 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic on Climbus, and ended up with the only clear round of the class over Olaf Petersen Jr.’s course, taking home the high junior/amateur-owner jumper championship.
“I think it really helped that I went first,” she said. “Usually a lot of people don’t prefer that because you don’t get to watch one go and see how the course rides, but with as many tricks that showed up in the course, it was almost better that I wasn’t thinking about them and I was just going out and riding my horse. There were a lot of blind turns. Even from one to two, you had to look around the triple combination. It was a forward line, so you really had to know where you were. It was also a test of the horse’s scope because it was a big and wide course.”
Matthies, 18, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, has had the ride on Barbara Smith’s 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cartani—Santa Fe) for two and a half years. Melissa Hurt and Nancy Whitehead helped her find him, and she’s been training with Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms this season.
A freshman at Auburn University (Alabama) studying pre-business, Matthies has been going back and forth from school to the barn in Kentucky and letting Ashland Farm riders ride the gelding when she can’t.
“He has a heart of gold,” she said. “He wants to win, he wants a clear round. He’ll really put his all in if he feels like you need it, and he did today. He is kind of an unconventional horse. He goes with his head up, he’s very quick on his feet. You have to ride him. He wants a polite rider, but you have to be effective and tell him what you want, and if you do that, he will do the job for you.”
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