New Jump Snakes Through Foxtrack
A brightly-colored snake-themed cross country fence made its debut July 15 at Foxtrack Training Center, slithering through the orchard at the farm’s third schooling horse trials of the season.
It’s been a recent tradition at Foxtrack to add a new jump to the cross-country course each year during the summer show season. Past fence additions include a train and a lighthouse.
Farm owner Mel Wyatt and the Foxtrack crew come up with the theme ideas and build the fences.
The snake’s intimidating look and name didn’t cause any competitors to fall victim last weekend. Wyatt said horses and riders went over it smoothly all day.
Despite the torrid temperatures that have at times made it difficult to ride for the last few weeks, competitors put on quite an impressive spectacle at Foxtrack.
One of the most eye-catching performances came from Kai Hadlich, who piloted Wyatt's seasoned event horse Townsend Hill to the win in the novice division.
Hadlich and 19-year-old Irish Thoroughbred Townsend Hill turned in one of the best dressage tests of the day, scoring a 27 from judge Kris Hamilton.
The combination went into the cross country phase tied for first with Brenna Dickerson and Elliot, who also earned a 27 in dressage.
Both posted fault-free cross country rounds, but a 4-fault effort from Dickerson in the stadium jumping left Hadlich on top, as he added nothing to his dressage score.
In the junior beginner novice class, only one horse and rider completed the two jumping phases with no penalties — Oliver and Blair Spencer, who ended up the winners of the division.
Ten-year-old Spencer, who has been riding since she was 3, lives in Chicago, Il. with her mother, Cassie Spencer, during the school year. Both she and her brother Henry come to the Sandhills for much of their summer vacation.
They stay with their grandmother, Elaine Zelch, of Pinehurst, and ride at Foxtrack with Wyatt.
Oliver, a 14-year-old Quarter Horse cross, has been part of the Spencer family for almost nine years. After Henry outgrew Oliver last year, Spencer, who was 9 at the time, took over the mount.
“Oliver is really nice to ride,” Spencer said. “He adjusts to what kind of rider you are. He's such a sweet horse.”
A 31.9 in dressage left them in first after phase one. Even though dressage calls for ample hard work and time spent in training, Spencer said dressage is one of the most enjoyable parts of the event for her.
“I always learn something in dressage, both when I’m practicing and when I’m doing the actual test (in a show),” she said. “It’s fun. I take something away every time.”
The new snake jump on cross country did little to faze Spencer and Oliver. The pair hopped over it easily.
“I watched other horses go, and it didn't seem to be a problem,” Spencer said. “(Oliver) jumped it like any other fence.”
Spencer has found much competitive success over the past two weeks.
In addition to their horse trials victory, she and Oliver earned several top ribbons in the PSJ Hunter-Jumper Show at the Pinehurst Harness Track July 6-8. They competed in pony hunters and in equitation.
Besides eventing and hunter competitions, Spencer’s other equestrian passion is foxhunting. She’s ridden with the Moore County Hounds for the past three years.
Although she’ll be back in Chicago when MCH start roading hounds in a couple of months, she hopes to make a few trips south to hunt during fall and winter, as her school schedule allows.
Other class winners included Alex Martone and NZ Highlander (37.0) in the training combined test, Joan Hilsman and Henley Regatta (33.3) in senior beginner novice division A, Debbie Adams-Saunders and Next Segment (33.8) in division B, Maud Eno and Hanky Pank (30.9) in super maiden, Laura Getz and Snickers (31.2) in senior maiden, and Juliette Neveu and Kelsey (38.5) in junior maiden.
The fourth horse trials in the Foxtrack series will take place Aug. 19, with cross country schooling available the day before the show. The season high point champion winners will be decided at the final competition on Sept. 2.
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