Imagine you’re leaving the ring after laying down the kind of dressage test that sets a new U.S. record for best score. Do you celebrate? Take a moment to bask in how all your hard work has led to this moment?
If you’re Phillip Dutton, you hop off, reflect on how the test could still be improved, and then get ready to ride your next horse. All in a day’s work, of course.
Dutton and Carlchen, owned by Caroline Moran, set a new U.S. Eventing Association advanced dressage record on Feb. 26, with a score of 15.0 in the advanced, test B, division at the Pine Top Advanced Horse Trials in Thomson, Georgia.
“I’m very proud of Carlchen,” said Dutton. “In dressage, you always feel that you can do things better; I know there’s still some throughness and softness that I can continue to improve, but he is obviously a huge talent.”
The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding’s substantial lead after the dressage phase set him up to clinch the win on the following day with a final score of 34.2.
Dutton, who’s based out of West Grove, Pennsylvania, spent much of the winter in Wellington, Florida, and he in part credits Carlchen’s success to the horse’s winter training there.
“I had Scott Hassler and Erik Duvander [USEF eventing high performance director] training me in dressage every week to 10 days,” said Dutton. “Being in the Wellington environment where you are exposed to great horsemanship and top dressage riders on a daily basis also makes you aim that much higher and expect that much more.”
Watch Dutton’s winning test:
Moran purchased Carlchen (Clinton—Sunshine, Lordanos) in the fall of 2019, and Dutton ran him in one CCI3*-S before a minor injury kept him out of competition through the end of that year.
Canceled events and changing competition and travel circumstances throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Carlchen did not return to the show ring with Dutton until October 2020.
“It’s certainly exciting to have Carlchen back out competing,” said Dutton of the gelding that competed successfully through the CCI4* level in Australia and Europe with multiple riders before being imported.
“Caroline Moran has been, and continues to be, an extremely supportive and a wonderful owner,” continued Dutton. “She approached me about purchasing a new horse a few years back, and Carol Gee of Fernhill Sport Horses found Carlchen for us. He’s not hot, but he’s certainly a forward-thinking horse, which suits me. He’s had some good education before me, and we’re continuing to build on that education and to get to know each other at the higher performance level.”
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