It was a soggy weekend at Fresno County Horse Park CCI & H.T. over the weekend, with no trademark California sunshine in sight. But the rain, wind and cold couldn’t stop Tamie Smith and Danito from posting a wire-to-wire win in the CCI3*-S — the fourth consecutive win for this pair and the horse’s debut at the level.
Tamie and the 10-year-old Anglo Arab/Hanoverian gelding (Dancier x Wie Musik, by Wolkenstein II), owned by Ruth Bley, have been on fire since they joined forces last year.
“Danito came to me in June as a sales horse and I knew there was something special about him,” Tamie says. “I hadn’t competed him yet but did a lot of ground work and spent last year getting to know him. Around August sometime, I called Ruth and said, ‘Are you sure you want to sell this one?'”
Ruth gave them the go-ahead and after finishing 4th in their first competition together, the 2018 American Eventing Championships Open Prelim division, the pair won the Stable View CIC1* in September, the Open Prelim division at Chattahoochee Hills in October, and the Ocala Jockey Club CCI1* in November. Each time they won the pair finished on their dressage score, which dipped as low as a 22.0 at the AEC.
“He has a very genuine soul. There is just something about him that I’ve really loved from the beginning,” Tamie says of the bright chestnut gelding, better known as “Cheeto” and/or “Burrito” around the barn. “He kind of reminds me of me. Hard shell on the outside and it takes a lot to let someone in but when you do we give you everything.”
Video from their Fresno County Horse Park win:
Ruth Bley’s “Danito” won his first CCI3s wire to wire this weekend! Class horse and so happy to be riding such great horses!! So proud of the Cheeto!! My hat goes off to John Marshall & the crew at Fresno County Horse Park, but especially to Jay Hambley & Bert Wood for prepping the tracks so that we had great footing to run on!! #cheetopuff #angloarab #germanunicorn thanks Tommy for the video clip ❤️
Posted by Tamie Smith on Saturday, February 16, 2019
Ruth Bley’s Danito is currently winning the CCI3S after a super dressage and clean show jumping. Onto XC tomorrow.
Posted by Tamie Smith on Friday, February 15, 2019
Despite being on the small side — he stands just 16 hands — Danito has a big jump and no shortage of heart. “Most of the horses I ride are very self-confident and think they are the best in the world,” Tamie says. “Danito doesn’t know how good he is, which makes it even more wonderful. He tries every day to be better.”
Danito is a one-person horse, and has clearly picked Tamie as his person. “He will test Heather (Morris) every time she sits on him for me if I’m away. It’s kind of funny,” she says. “He’s a super sweet boy on the ground and super easy to be around.”
Tamie and Danito posted the second fastest time of their 15-horse CCI3*-S field at Fresno, collecting 6 time faults. Tamie credits Jay Hambley and Bert Wood for prepping the tracks so that, despite the rain, they had great footing to run on.
Of Danito, she says, “I feel really lucky to have him part of my string of horses now. It’s been really fun building our partnership and after this weekend I think it’s there!”
Amber Levine and Carry On Win Advanced Division
Advanced winner Amber Levine also had words of praise for the event’s management. “The Fresno County Horse Park did a wonderful job pulling off a very wet and muddy weekend,” she says. “They built a fantastic course for the Advanced, and the footing really held up very nicely.”
Amber and Carry On, her own 12-year-old Dutch gelding (Vittorio x Jaraica, by Bredero), didn’t have too much competition at the early season event, but Amber says she was pleased with her longtime partner’s return to the level.
“It just felt great to be out there with ‘Cory’ as this was his first Advanced run in almost two years,” she says. “Our plan is to gear up for the CCI4*-S at Twin Rivers in April followed by the CCI4-L at Rebecca Farm in July.”
View complete Fresno County Horse Park results here.