Maryland Hunt Cup a two horse race

Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is showing up. The 2017 Maryland Hunt Club demonstrated the truth to that statement when eight out of the 10 starters failed to

MHC
Derwins Prospector (left) and Drift Society battle it out in the Maryland Hunt Cup. After 8 out of 10 entries fell, it literally became a two horse race.

finish. The result? Long shot Derwins Prospector crossed the finish line three-quarters of a length ahead of Drift Society to take home the $60,000 winner’s purse.

The Maryland Hunt Cup lived up to it’s reputation as the toughest timber race this year. With three miles to go, only four horses remained. Field leader Old Timer held on until the second to last fence before unseating his jockey.

The unlikely winner was described as a “superb jumper” by Joseph Davies. Unfortunately, last year, he unseated his rider at the first fence. This year, Davies arranged for French jockey, Gozague Cottreau, to take the reins. The pair finished fourth at the Grand National in Butler, where he finished fourth.

 

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Dressage at Rolex

After two days of dressage, Clark Montgomery on Loughan is firmly in the lead with an impressive 33.6%.

Michel Jung and FischerRocana sits in second place with 37.1%.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border are in third place with 41.0%.

Perhaps stealing the show was the retirement ride by Allison Springer and Arthur.

Sprenger chose to retire the 18 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding at what would have been his eighth start at Rolex. Arthur was recently diagnosed with aortic regurgitation — leakage from the aortic valve, which is a common degenerative problem in older horses.

“Arthur is my one of my oldest friends. He and I have traveled the

world together, and we have had many moments of triumph and some moments of heartbreak, but in every moment, he has been my partner and I have always been incredibly proud to get to ride him,” Allison said.

 

Caught in Motion

horse Sculpture
Sculptor Charles Elliott has released his first Horse in Motion sculpture, created in conjunction with his show jumper wife, Abbe.
stag sculpture
Elliott’s stag sculpture is made from up-cycled horses shoes.

Caught at the moment of extension, the life sized horse sculpture is a study of motion, stopped in a moment of time.

Sculptor Charles Elliott (Elliott of London) is known for his use of upcycled horse shoes and traditional blacksmithing techniques — he has a series of Stag and Bull sculptures using traditional blacksmithing and modern metal manipulating techniques.

But this is the first in a planned series of equestrian sculptures that he is working on with his wife, international show jumper Abbe Elliot.

It’s not the first time Elliott’s sculpture has reflected his wife’s interests. With his brother, James, a farrier, he produced a hand forged horse head light. The interest

Elliott also makes horse head lights. Wouldn’t it be fun to have these in your house?

in this sculptural hand-forged ironwork prompted Elliott to expand his business and create a range of iron and metalwork.

He invested in a range of machines, some more than 120 years old, and now produces a range of sculptures taking advantage of both traditional and modern metal working techniques.

The new horse sculpture has tapped into Charles’ wife, Abbe’s, expertise.

Charles says “I would speak to Abbe 2-3 times a day whilst working on my sculptures, to ask her about details of muscle layouts and conformation, whilst looking through piles of close ups of horses in motion. She is very critical of our work and a perfectionist when it comes to the horses, metal or real life!”

You can tell — the sculpture is very much alive.

Horses don’t care about potential

Kronefurst
Kroni turned out to be a very talented horse, once I found him the “right” job.

Sometimes you’re lucky and you buy a horse that ends up with more talent than you expected. More talent than you, perhaps, need for the type of riding you prefer. And, more times than not, I hear those lucky people lament the fact that they are “holding back” the horse, who could achieve greater things with a better rider.

I read this on a friend’s FB page last week as she talked about her horse:

Honestly, she has so much ability! Sometimes I think she is wasted on me. Not that I don’t love her and do things with her, but she is capable of so much more.

She’s right that she has a lovely, athletic horse who has a lot of ability. But she is certainly not wasting that talent. Nope, this is a sensitive horse with, shall we call, an amount of “exuberance” that many people would not be able to ride. My friend rides this horse beautifully and they have a fantastic partnership. It sure looks like a happy horse to me.

I do understand where she’s coming from because years ago, I said the same thing about my Trakehner, Kronefurst, to my trainer. Kroni was a beautiful and athletic horse with extravagant gaits and a big jump. He also had some quirks, including a tendency to rear and a very defined opinion about how he liked to be ridden. After I said how much more Kroni could have done with a better rider, my trainer laughed and said he was damned lucky to have found me because his quirks might have led to a bad ending.

Patriot's day
For several years I rode him in a Patriot’s Day Re-enactment, rousing the Lincoln Minutemen. I could tell that he wasn’t crazy about riding down into the crowds, but he did it because I asked him.

Let’s face it. Horses don’t understand potential. They don’t hunker down at night and bemoan the fact that they will never gallop around Rolex.

I do believe they know when they’ve done a good job, and I certainly think that many horses like to have a job that they understand and can excel at. But they don’t care about ribbons and they never berate themselves for not achieving the human definition of success.  They want to please their human and that may well be enough. Well, that and lots of turnout and grass.

I bought Kroni with the intention of eventing him, but I only took him to a couple of competitions. He was always fussy with his mouth — partially it was because he had a thick tongue and a low palate; partially it was because he felt trapped when asked for any collection. After struggling with the dressage phase for several years, it became clear to me that this was never going to be his strong suit.

Kroni
Kronefurst, my Trakehner, found his true purpose in life foxhunting. Here is is in his bitless bridle, waiting patiently for the first cast.

Ultimately, he found his calling as a hunt horse. From the very first time I hunted him he let me know that this was what he’d been waiting to do. Out hunting, he didn’t need to have a bit — he was completely controllable with a bitless bridle. He was bold but never out of control. He jumped anything that was in front of him. And he stood at the checks on the buckle. We had a deal: I would never ask him to do something that he couldn’t do and he would take care of me.

Sure, if he’d had a different rider, he might have won more ribbons but I don’t think he would have had more fun.

If you’re lucky enough to have one of those horses with a little bit more scope than you actually need, just remember that your horse doesn’t care about potential. He only wants to be well cared for and loved, and to please you. So enjoy that extra bit of ability, give him a pat and know that he is only performing for you.

Burghley Horse Trials Underway – XC on Saturday!

Burghley xc preview
Watch the cross country preview on the Burghley.TV site. You can watch the action live or on demand.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are underway and if you didn’t get enough equestrian coverage during the Olympics, this should be a great treat. Burghley always does a great job of making the coverage accessible — and free.

Dressage standingsAfter dressage, New Zealand and Australia dominated the standings, with Bettina Hoy (2nd) and Oliver Towend (5th) breaking the trend.

Andrew Nicholson is back in fine form after recovering from a broken neck last year.

Cross country starts at 11:15am GB time (6:15am US eastern) and the last horse is due on course at 3:45 pm (10:45am US eastern) but you will able to watch on demand on Burghley.tv. It being the UK, it is supposed to rain tomorrow so fingers crossed that the footing stays good.

 

Nick Skelton and Big Star win Individual Gold in Show Jumping

After seven Olympics and one team gold medal, Nick Skelton has won the individual gold in show jumping riding “the best horse that I’ve ever had or likely ever will,” Big Star. Skelton is the first British rider to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics and, at 58, is the oldest equestrian to win the gold.

The crowd favorite won a six way jump off.  Peder Fredericson (Sweden) won the  and Eric Lamaze (Canada) the bronze.

Big star
Nick Skelton on Big Star won the individual gold at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Skelton’s win today on Big Star is quite a comeback story — for both horse and rider. Skelton retired in 2000 after a fall that broke two his neck in two places and damaged a ligament. Doctors told him that another fall from a horse could be fatal. His retirement lasted a year, then he was back in the saddle. He started competing again two years after the accident.

He had a hip replacement in 2011, but that didn’t stop him either. In 2012, he and Big Star were part of the gold medal winning team at the London Olympics but only finished fifth in the individual standings.

Big Star, a 13-year old Dutch warmblood stallion has been sidelined with injuries since 2013 when he won his last Grand Prix event. Even Skelton described him as “rusty” when they came into the Olympics. For the past two years, Skelton has nursed the stallion back to health. So to ask the stallion to jump a course of this height and at such speed, was an act of faith.

“I always knew in the back of my mind, if we could get him right, he could do this.

“He’s an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him. He wants to do it. He has all the right attributes. He’s the best horse that I’ve ever had.

“I’m so pleased for him. He has worked so hard. This is for him.”

Skelton, who is in chronic pain from his injuries, says Big Star is the only horse he still rides. He will retire when the stallion does, he says.