Eventers Ignore Weather at Horse Trials
Three hundred eventers from as far away as California and Michigan descended on the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford to compete in the Southern Pines Horse Trials II March 16-18, braving pouring rain and bone-chilling winds.
Riders in four divisions -- Training, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced -- were competing all weekend, along with two International divisions (CIC* and a CIC**).
Good preparation and a wee bit of Irish luck on St. Paddy's day put numerous local riders in the winner's circle.
Mark Weissbecker, of Southern Pines and Richmond, Mass., was resting in third place after the Dressage phase and moved up two places to capture first place in the Open Intermediate A division with a final score of 39.0. He was riding Top Gallant, a 12-year-old thoroughbred.
Weissbecker thought the cross country course was of "moderate difficulty."
"My biggest concern was fence number 13 which was an airy oxer to a corner turn," he said. "It required a bold effort to the oxer which had a significant drop on landing. Then you had to organize and switch to a more technical mode to bring the horse back and get the 4-5 strides to the corner fence."
Weissbecker did his homework and went clean in the stadium phase to clinch his win. His plan was to ride forward as his horse had two sliding stops in the stadium phase at a previous event (Pine Top in Georgia) where Weissbecker was eliminated from the competition. A new rule allows only one stop in the stadium jumping phase before elimination.
"It was a very nerve-racking time (in stadium)," Weissbecker said. "I was a wee bit concerned that the horse would stop. I had to be a bit of a cowboy and ride really forward to the jumps. I wasn't concerned with winning a ribbon. I was more concerned that my horse be successful. It was confirmation that the homework I did since Pine Top paid off."
Weissbecker also had a second-place finish aboard Tatham in Open Preliminary B.
He went double-clear in cross country and stadium to finish on his Dressage score of 30.40. Weissbecker finished in fifth place aboard Catchin Some Rays with a 50.0 in the same division.
Will Faudree, of Southern Pines, had a spectacular ride with Mr. McWhinney to finish second behind Weissbecker in the Open Intermediate A division. Faudree moved from an 11th-place finish in Dressage to finish second in his division with a score of 41.40. Faudree had a double-clear round in cross country and stadium.
John Williams, a member of the 2004 bronze medal eventing team, riding his 15-year-old seasoned veteran Sloopy, moved up a place after Dressage to take first place in the Open Intermediate B division with a final score of 33.50. Williams also took home a third-place ribbon on Sweepea Dean in the Open Preliminary B division with a score of 31.60.
Linda Dreher of Vass protected her Dressage score of 25.50 with a double-clear round in cross country and stadium to win the Training Rider division with her Remington.
Remington is an 8-year-old, 17.2-hand, registered quarter horse. Dreher purchased him as a 3-year-old after he had been raced in Oklahoma.
"He (Remington) is very reliable. I know that he will jump anything he is pointed at as long as I point him correctly," Dreher said.
Other local riders finished with top ribbons.
Jane Murray aboard Tokay took home a blue ribbon in the Preliminary Rider division with a score of 38.30. Susan Reynolds riding Dominick was second with a 39.0 and Rachel Jurgens was third aboard Ignition (40.30).
In Open Preliminary A, Allison Kelley-Coates placed fourth with her Irish Cavalier (42.30).
Gina Fiore-Kelley finished third in the Open Training A division riding Julia Carolina with a score of 31.50 with Holly Hepp close behind for a fourth-place ribbon (33.50).
In the Open Training C division, Robert Costello finished third (25.50) on Hannah II.
Denny Emerson was hot on Costello's heels with Loftus Fox to finish fourth (26.0).
Following closely behind were Tim Murray riding Quiet Council (26.5) and Michele Lobsinger with her Able Sportsfield (26.5).
The advanced division was won by Corrin Ashton of Massachusetts and the CIC** division was won by Philip Dutton. Ashton and Corrin split the Adequan Gold Cup Series $1,000 prize money.
Cross country took its toll in the CIC**. Out of thirteen entries in the division three horses retired from the course, one horse withdrew and one was eliminated. Two riders fell at the water complex and one was taken away by the EMS after hitting her head. She checked out okay after a trip to the hospital.
The event was well attended by spectators either cheering on their favorite rider or taking a day out at the horse park to watch eventing.
John Barrett from Fayetteville asked, "Is the water (at the Duck Pond) green because it is St. Patrick's day?" Perhaps a few four-leaf clovers were added to the water for good luck.
For full results, go to: www.carolinahorsepark.com
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