Weather Doesn't Dampen Hunter Turnout For Southern Pines Horse Trials-I
Neither inclement weather nor the economic recession kept competitors away from the Southern Pines Horse Trials I held last weekend at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford.
More than 330 riders competed in four divisions: Beginner Novice, Novice Rider, Training level and Preliminary level.
Professional Mark Weissbecker, who winters in Southern Pines, competed five Thoroughbred horses out of his Birch Hill Farm stable. The biggest challenge he had according to Weissbecker was "keeping my concentration when I got tired. By the time of the fifth cross-country ride, I had to smack myself on the side of my head."
Weissbecker won the Open Preliminary A division aboard Maracopa, a 7-year-old competing at the Preliminary Level for the first time. Weissbecker had double-clean rounds cross-country and in stadium jumping to rest on a Dressage score of -32.60. "Maracopa is very straight forward and uncomplicated to ride. I opted for the faster routes on the well-designed John Williams cross-country course."
Weissbecker took second place in the same division with a score of -37.20 aboard Kingsley, who has been at the Preliminary level for one season.
A rail down in the stadium course, designed by Marc Donovan, dropped Weissbecker and Dare Devil to third place overall in the Open Preliminary B division scoring a -42.90. Weissbecker finished sixth in the same division with Taxi scoring a -49.10. Taxi is a bit of an oddball for Weissbecker who usually campaigns American Thoroughbreds. Taxi is half Oldenburg and half Thoroughbred.
In the Open Training B division, Weissbecker rode War Flag to a seventh place finish scoring a -35.50. "War Flag is one of my horses for the future," said Weissbecker. "He's forward-thinking, bright and brave with above average jumping ability."
Bobby Costello's mount, Good News, lived up to his name providing good news for his owner, 12-year-old Payton Garson who purchased the horse in a move up from riding ponies. Costello has been riding the horse over the winter to prepare him for his new owner. Good News won the Open Novice A division resting on a Dressage score of -31.50. "I was very pleased with him," said Costello. "He seems to have a great brain. He was very rideable in all three phases. I think he'll make a good horse for Payton."
Costello also coaches Payton's 15-year-old sister, Paige Garson, who won the Junior/Young Rider Open Preliminary A Division aboard Combalache. The Garsons split their time between Southern Pines and Bangor, Maine.
Other local first place finishers were Holly Hepp in the Open Training A division scoring a 29.00 aboard Dillon and Bobby Stevenson who won the Open Novice C division riding Icewine scoring a -28.50.
The unbeatable Doreen Schlicht and Classico continue to heap on the first place finishes, taking the blue ribbon in the Novice Rider division with a -31.00.
The Horse Trials went off without any major injuries to horse or rider. There was only one call for the ambulance on Sunday, March 1, 5when a Beginner Novice rider took a tumble.
A Carolina Horse Park spokesperson reported that the rider is OK.
For full results, turn to the Carolina Horse Park Web site at www.carolinahorsepark.com.
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