Allison Springer: ‘Arthur Has Been the Longest, Steadiest Thing In My Life’

Allison Springer and Arthur. Photo by Jenni Autry. Allison Springer and Arthur. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Allison Springer and Arthur delivered the leading dressage test today in the CIC3* at Carolina International, scoring 40.7 to hold the overnight lead as we look ahead to tomorrow’s show jumping. Last year they jumped a clear round over Marc Donovan’s course and went on to win the CIC3*, and that’s exactly what Allison hopes to do again this year.

“He’s been the longest, steadiest thing in my life for sure,” Allison said. “Honestly if you look at the grand picture, I’ve been really lucky. What I did last year is similar to what I did this year. … I just keep giving him big breaks and he keeps coming out and feeling good.”

Of course, he is still and will always be the same old Arthur. “He gave me a beautiful ride last night, and this morning he spooked at a letter in the practice ring and almost got me off. I was thinking, ‘You’re 18, horse!’ But that’s Arthur.”

As for whether Arthur will aim for an eighth appearance at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event next month, Allison said “that’s the million-dollar question.” The Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Arthur Syndicate continues to impress at the highest level of the sport, and Allison said if he handles Ian Stark’s cross country course well, she will send in her entry for Rolex.

“The water is really solid, and they put in a proper coffin — a Kentucky-esque coffin with a steep downhill to a ditch, and that’s something we really struggle with. It’s a great prep for us.”

(EN’s own Kate Samuels just walked the CIC3* cross country course and will be bringing you a full fence-by-fence preview soon.)

Allison said she feels incredibly lucky to have Arthur out for his 10th season competing at Advanced level. “It’s a blessed thing to have a four-star star horse, period. It’s really hard to get horses to that top level, and to keep practicing and keep yourself sharp as you’re producing horses is really important. He definitely keeps me on my toes.”

(Watch a video of Allison and Arthur’s leading test here.)

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen sit in second place on 41.3, and Clark said the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, owned by Jessica Montgomery, Kathryn Kraft, and Holly and William Becker, felt a bit tight in his test today.

“When he gets tight, he gets stuck. I didn’t get to ride him yesterday, so I just rode him this morning, which might have been part of it, but I’m not going to complain about a 41.”

As is his typical game plan with “Glen,” Clark has been focusing heavily on his fitness work, incorporating a lot of galloping ahead of Rolex and working less on the dressage, which is the horse’s strongest phase.

“He’s peaking easier than he ever has,” Clark said. “Finally at the ripe old age of 14 he has a depth of fitness. It’s easier to peak him back each time. He seems super healthy in his body this spring after last summer, so that’s really nice to feel. It’s just keeping the wheels on the wagon.”

Glen has plenty of experience jumping on grass after spending four years in England, but Clark said he isn’t taking anything for granted tomorrow on Marc Donovan’s course, as he had a rail down at Pine Top CIC3* last month (though they did go on to win on 36.3).

As for Clark’s strategy for cross country on Saturday: “You need to go fast enough to work on fitness. I never really ride him very slow because he needs the confidence. He likes to go fast, but we need to make sure we get to Kentucky too.”

(Click here to watch Clark and Glen’s test.)

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda, who led after the first day of dressage on 41.5, now sit in third place at the conclusion of the first phase. The 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Tim and Nina Gardner has never competed this event, and Jennie hasn’t been either since it became Carolina International in 2014.

“I remember watching the results last year and thinking this wasn’t a dressage show, and walking the course I can see why. I love Ian as a designer, and it looks proper. I always think show jumping on grass is really influential, too.”

The scores are tightly bunched on the CIC3* leaderboard, with less than a rail separating the top nine horses and riders. Less than two rails separate the entire top 20, so the stage is set for a nail-biter tomorrow, and cross country will be equally influential.

The heavy storm that drenched the grounds on Tuesday night improved the quality of the footing on much of the course, and Jennie said it’s the best footing she’s seen in a long time. “They’ve improved a lot since the last time I was here,” she said. “It takes awhile to develop a string of horses to run at both Red Hills and Carolina, and I’m excited to be able to do both.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Looking to the rest of the CIC3* leaderboard, Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deborah Halliday’s Fernhill By Night sit in fourth place on 42.5, with Will Faudree and Jennifer Mosing’s Hans Dampf delivering a personal best of 42.7 to round out the top five.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Jacqueline Mars’ Harbour Pilot are in sixth on 43.1, with Buck Davidson and Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo in seventh on 43.8. Caroline Martin and Sherrie Martin’s The Apprentice sit eighth on 44.3, with Clayton Fredericks and Katie Ruppel’s Houdini in ninth on 44.4, and Phillip Dutton and Tom Tierney and Annie Jones Fernhill Fugitive in 10th on 45.4.

Last year just 20 percent of the CIC3* jumped clear rounds inside the time on Marc’s show jumping course, so we can expect poles to go flying if this tricky course lives up to its reputation. CIC3* starts at 1 p.m. EST tomorrow and will stream live on EQSportsNet.

It’s going to be a busy day at the Carolina Horse Park with the National divisions starting dressage, CIC3* and CIC2* show jumping, and CIC* cross country. CIC2* show jumping will also stream live starting at 9:30 a.m. EST. Stay tuned for a full report on the CIC2* and CIC* from the one and only Leslie Threlkeld.

Keep checking Instagram for more photos from today, and be sure to click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of Carolina so far. Thank you so much for reading, and thank you once again to the wonderful volunteers, officials and staff for another wonderful (albeit chilly!) day in Southern Pines. Go Eventing.

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