American Thoroughbreds Rise to the Top at Horse Trials
Two good old American thoroughbreds proved that the breed is still tops when it comes to galloping and jumping at the Southern Pines Horse Trials I held last weekend at the Carolina Horse Park. Over 300 horses competed over the course of the two-day event.
Mark Weissbecker piloted Dare Devil, a former steeplechaser, to first place in the Open Training A Division with a score of 29.0. Dare Devil is a 6-year-old Thorough-bred co-owned by Birch Field Farm and Southern Pines newcomer Tiffany Teeter.
Hot on the heels of Dare Devil was Fifty Caliber, also ridden by Mark Weissbecker and owned by Birch Field Farm.
Fifty Caliber, a former flat racer, finished second in the Open Training Division with a score of 29.50, just .50 off his stable-mate's score. Both horses rested on their dressage scores, putting in clean cross country rounds and clean stadium jumping rounds.
"Both horses were really good that day," said Weissbecker. "Both of them are lovely movers and have a lot of get up and go. It was nice that they were settled and relaxed. They can get tense in anticipation of running and jumping."
Weissbecker plans on moving both horses up to the Preliminary level at their next outing.
"They were very comfortable with the challenge the course presented," said Weissbecker. "John Williams (the cross country course designer) does a nice job asking fair questions. The course served the purpose of creating a challenge as well as instilling confidence."
Another confident ride was put in by Michele Lobsinger, who captured first place in the Open Novice B Division with her 4-year-old mare Brandenburg's Able Starlight. Lobsinger rested on her dressage score of 27.0, given by judge Lucy Eddins.
"She was electric in the dressage warmup," said Lobsinger. "But she settled down in the ring and put in a steady and rhythmic test. I came out of the ring feeling like it was the best test she has ever done."
Lobsinger thinks she and her Irish Sport Horse mare had a bit of Irish luck pulling the competitor number of 244, since she considers 24 her lucky number.
"I was not expecting to go in and win," said Lobsinger.
"I would have been happy to be in the top-half with the caliber of riders who were in my division. It's nice when you compete against the best -- you know your score means something."
Holly Hepp and Dillon had a bit of bad luck, pulling a rail in stadium jumping, to put her in second place in the Open Novice B Division with a score of 28.50.
Two former dressage horses proved that they could gallop and jump as well at the Horse Trials. Barbara Gibson rode Joan Strawson's Hawkeye (trained to Prix St. George) to a first-place finish in the Beginner Novice Division with a score of 32.60. Gibson leases Hawkeye from Strawson.
"Joan gets a kick out of watching Hawkeye go cross country," said Gibson. "It blows her mind that he can jump. He loves it."
Gibson went clean cross country and clean in stadium despite not having a chance to walk the stadium course ahead of time. Due to a slight delay on Saturday because of bad weather, Gibson had to do both phases Sunday morning.
"Stadium wasn't the most beautiful ride. Since I didn't get a chance to walk the course, I had no idea how tight the turn was to fence 7," said Gibson. "I was flustered but Hawkeye got me through it. He can get me through anything."
Doreen Schlicht and her former Dressage horse Classico repeated their performance from the week before at Tamarack Farm and captured first place in the Novice Rider B division with a score of 28.0. Kathleen Gurley and Rebel's Last Yell came in second with a score of 38.50.
Steel Smile proved his versatility for owner Shellie Sommerson, coming in second in the Novice Rider A Division with a score of 32. Steel Smile, a 12-year-old thoroughbred is Sommerson's hunt horse and recently successfully competed in the Moore County Hounds Hunter Trials. "We had a thrilling weekend," said Sommerson.
Juniors Claim Top Ribbons
Fifteen-year-old Sarah Dabolt of Sanford won the Junior Novice Division (score of 27.0) with her 16.1-hand thoroughbred Funny Bones, whom she started eventing two and one-half years ago.
"Everything clicked for us," said Dabolt, whose horse had no eventing experience prior to her owning him.
Moore County Pony Clubber and O'Neal seventh-grader Kaily Meeks came in second, scoring 33.0 with her new 9-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse Sir Piney Four Socks.
"During show jumping I was very nervous," said Meeks. "But Piney gets in a zone and you can't stop him. You just hope he jumps the right fence. Piney is an excellent partner."
Another Moore County Pony Clubber and O'Neal student, Bernadine Dembosky, also had a good show, finishing second in the Junior Beginner Novice Rider Division aboard her Welsh/thoroughbred cross Carousel Prince. It was the first recognized event for the pair.
"The cross country course was really fun," said 14-year-old Dembosky. "He (Prince) lights up on course. Stadium was a little rough in some places. Dressage was easy for him because he was trained to Second Level."
Dembosky's score was 31.10 after incurring 1.6 time faults in the cross country phase.
Andrew Diemer and The Big Easy made it look easy as they won the Open Beginner Novice A Division with a score of 27.40, continuing their consistent performance at Horse Trials.
Meri Hyoky and Burton were second in the same division with a score of 31.10.
Sandhills Turf Holds Up
Despite rain on Saturday, the footing held up well at the Horse Park, proving that the sandy soil of the Sandhills drains off well instead of creating a muddy mire for horses to slog through.
There was a 30-minute hold on Saturday due to lightning. The last horse on course before the hold was aptly named Storm Chaser. And chase the storm away he did as the threat of severe weather luckily did not amount to anything catastrophic (like the tornado that hit Atlanta the day before.)
Over the Easter weekend, the Horse Park is hosting Southern Pines Horse Trials II that includes Training through Advanced divisions.
For full results of last weekend's horse trials, go to www.carolinahorsepark.com.
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