Last week on EN’s Got Talent, we introduced you to Kelly Pugh’s talented young horse, Corazon, owned by David and Candace Garrett. Corazon recently completed his first CCI* with Kelly in the irons at Rebecca Farm, solidifying his status as one to keep an eye on for the future.
Kelly entered the CCI* at Rebecca Farm last month with realistic expectations. It was a new partnership with few miles under its belt, and Kelly knew that Rebecca Farm would yield a tough and competitive field.
“The event we’d done before was very low key without a lot of atmosphere,” Kelly said. “The cross country asked all the right questions but didn’t ask for a lot of galloping. I knew Rebecca would be tough with the atmosphere and the big galloping track from Ian. I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
“Toddy” stepped up to the plate, though. Kelly took the lead with a lovely dressage test in a very large CCI* field and never looked back, adding nothing to their dressage score of 41.3 at the end of the weekend.
Although there was plenty of pressure to jump clear after second placed Tamie Smith and Under Wraps also jumped a double clear to leave Kelly without a rail in hand, she and the Dutch Warmblood gelding rose to the occasion and produced a clear round to hold onto their lead.
“I definitely wanted to do right by him,” she said. “The morning of dressage I had a short lesson with David O’Connor, and he said ‘This is fine, you’re good!’ I knew he could be competitive as long as I was, and I found out that we really could do this. I wasn’t surprised by his score, but my goal was just to be up there near the top.”
Kelly again set her expectations realistically looking ahead to the jumping phases. “I went out (on cross country) riding a little conservatively,” she recalled. “You can’t really ride conservatively on an Ian Stark course, and I realized that if I just asked correctly, he was going to do it. He was just great out there.”
One observation Kelly has made is that Toddy tends to warm up a bit less flashy than one might expect. “He doesn’t quite light up until you’re going around the ring — once he gets in there, he’s really competitive and in that sense it’s really cool. I remember warming up for show jumping at Rebecca and thinking, ‘Well I hope I get a little more in the ring,’ but I didn’t need to worry.”
Kelly is still getting used to the powerful horse she has, but she is enjoying every step of the process. “There’s a lot of horse underneath me,” she said. “He takes me to jumps more than any horse I’ve ever sat on, and I just need to get used to that. It will just take more time in the saddle. The more I get to know him, the more I’ll know how to ask correctly. It’s all about getting on the same page together.”