It Takes All Kinds in the Rebecca Farm Novice Three-Day

Rachael Smith and Cinco De Mayo. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Rachael Smith and Cinco De Mayo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Watching upper level horses and riders compete is nice in a jaw-drop way, but the most FUN divisions to watch are sometimes the lower levels — especially when there’s some serious swag and glory at stake.

That’s the case here at the Event at Rebecca Farm. More than 600 competitors from 20 states and five countries are on the entry list, nearly 75 of which are contesting the USEA Classic Series Novice and Training Three-Day divisions.

For many of these three-day riders in particular, getting to Rebecca is a dream come true. Preparing a horse for a three-day is a consuming process and a major accomplishment for “the rest of us” riders who are trying to balance life at the barn with careers, families and an untold number of other spinning plates.

Another element that makes these lower-level goalpost events so engaging is the diversity of participating horses and riders. Each pair has a unique story to tell, a tug-of-war narrative split between happy moments and hardships. That they’ve all found their way to a common startbox is a testament to their determination and hard work.

Watching the Novice Three-Day dressage on Thursday at Rebecca, each pair that entered at A brought something different to the table.

Can we get a closer look at that Appy’s ears?

Makana Hilton and Hudson. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

It’s like they’re dipped in paint! Makana Hilton and Hudson. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Two of the most “unique” horse/rider combinations that jumped out at me were Rachael Smith and her Norwegian Fjord pony Cinco De Mayo …

Rachael Smith and Cinco De Mayo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rachael Smith and Cinco De Mayo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… and Gina Shaman and her Connemara stallion Canal Prince.

Gina Shaman and Canal Prince. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Gina Shaman and Canal Prince. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

When I approached them after their tests I was surprised/not surprised to learn that Rachael is actually a student of Gina’s at Team Grey Matter. It was a 22-hour drive from their Bay Area base to Rebecca, and the team also includes Abby Holstead who is competing her horse Sabina in the Training Three-Day and Gina’s CCI* horse InForAPound Dunvegan.

Team Grey Matter was excited to make the drive — it’s their first time here — and seems like the type of crew that can keep themselves entertained! Also in tow is Gina’s mother, who is battling breast cancer, which makes their week here at Rebecca Farm an especially special and emotional experience.

Team Grey Matter kindly took a few moments to share the stories of their horses and their experience so far:

Best of luck to Team Grey Matter and all of Rebecca’s competitors!

Looking to the N3D leaderboards, Jen McFall is currently leading both divisions after dressage: A on a 23.9 with her own Stoneman DF and B on a 30.0 with the Be Real Syndicate’s Be Real. Click here to view scores.

Friday’s action kicks off at 8 a.m. in the dressage ring with the CCI2* and the CIC3*/CCI3* running from 11:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT. Cross country continues with both the Novice and Training Three Day divisions from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT. 

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