Aspen Farms Advanced + Area VII Championships: Movers and Shakers from Saturday’s Action

Karen O’Neal and Clooney 14. Photo by Cortney Drake Photography.

On day two of Aspen Farms Horse Trials and USEA Area VII Championships in Yelm, WA, Karen O’Neal and Clooney 14, owned by Annika Asling, delivered a solid cross-country round in the Tin Men Supply Advanced with no jump penalties and 7.6 time faults to hold their overnight lead ahead of Sophie Click and Tarantino 54 in second.

“This was our first move up to the Advanced level,” said Karen after her cross-country ride. “Everything rode so well on course. He was so good. He still needs to get fitter… He’s a big Warmblood. He started out on time on course, but got a little tired at the end. But he was amazing. He took me to all the jumps. He didn’t spook–he used to be a big spooker–so we’ve come a long way. The course was amazing–the footing was perfect, the jumps rode great, they rode the way they walked. Some of it was massive, but it rode really well.”

The pair have a rail in hand going into show jumping on Sunday.

“Usually show jumping is a strong suit for him,” said Karen. “Usually he’s good at recovering after cross-country. But this will be the biggest course we’ve ever jumped.”

Jessica Hamilton and Dark Knight’s Light. Photo by Cortney Drake Photography.

In Open Intermediate, the leaderboard saw dramatic changes after cross-country. Jessica Hamilton and her off-the-track-Thoroughbred mare Dark Knight’s Light moved up from sixth to first thanks to a clear cross-country jump round and just 8.4 time penalties. Anni Grandia-Dodson and HSH Bold Decision, owned by Andrew Hoff, moved from seventh to second, and Devin Robel and Gillou moved from second to third after one stop.

Jessica got her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare over 10 years ago and has done all the training to bring her along the levels to this point.

“It was foot perfect,” Jessica said about her cr0ss-country ride. “It was smooth; it was fast; it was a lot of fun! My horse stayed underneath me and kept with me the whole time. There were no sticky moments like we’ve had in the past. It felt amazing.”

Jessica is optimistic going into show jumping tomorrow.

“She’s been having some ‘cheap rails’ at shows, but we’ve been targeting some body wellness and she has been feeling better and better. Hopefully there’s a little more gas in the tank tomorrow than there has been in the past.”

Cristina Rennie and Flight of the Arabesque. Photo by Cortney Drake Photography.

In the Open Intermediate Area VII Championship, Cristina Rennie and Flight of the Arabesque jumped clear with 8 time faults to take over the lead from Kelsey Horn and Cleared For Take Off, who disabled a frangible pin to pick up 11 faults and move down to second.

Harper Padgett and Captivate. Photo by Cortney Drake Photography.

In the USEA Area VII Open Preliminary Championship, Harper Padgett and Captivate held their lead, adding just 2.8 time faults on cross-country to their dressage score.

“The course was really good,” said Harper. “All the lines and striding were good. I was focusing on making time. I thought the time was pretty hard to make because of the turns.”

Her strategy for tomorrow’s show jumping is developing a forward rhythm. “He’s pretty tight-backed and not too forward,” she said. “Opening him up helps a lot.”

In Open Preliminary, Nicole Aden and Truckee Bash moved up to the lead on a score of 25.5. Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and Bodhizafa, owned by Louise LaRue, are second, and Marc Grandia and Levino Full are third.

“We’ve gone up the levels together,” said Nicole about her Thoroughbred gelding, Truckee Bash, whom she’s ridden for the past 8 years. “He’s out having fun this weekend. He was great today; he knows his job. He went into the ring and was awesome.”

Going into cross country on Sunday, Nicole thinks the course designed by Morgan Rowsell “looks good. It looks fun. It has some fun questions. I’m looking forward to. My horse is a total cross-country machine. I think he’s looking forward to getting out there and running around.”

Simone Clark and Indio BMW. Photo by Cortney Drake Photography.

In Area VII Junior Training Championship, Simone Clark and her mom’s horse, Indio BMW, jumped double clear cross-country to hold their lead ahead of Kate Schultheis and Ready Or Knot Here’s Mouse! in second and Sarah Haberman and Kingsman in third.

“The course was great,” Simone said after cross-country. “I liked how technical it was in places. It was challenging but fun at the same time. Everything rode smoothly. It was easy to make the time for the first time for me. He felt awesome. He’s such a champ–he tries so hard for me and is super honest.”

Patience O’Neal is first in Area VII Open Novice Championship aboard Barney Come Home, owned by Wendy Wadhwani, ahead of her mom, Karen O’Neal in second on MNF North Forks Summit, owned by Angela Wilson, and herself aboard Yellow Wolf, owned by Penelope Leggott, in third.

“It was really really nice,” Patience said after her cross-country round with Barney Come Home, a 10-year-old off-the-track-Thoroughbred. “He has improved tremendously. This is only his fifth or sixth show ever. Major improvement since Equestrian Institute Horse Trials a couple of weeks ago. He has a lot of potential, he just needs to wrap his mind around the sport.”

Looking ahead to show jumping, Patience said she is “looking forward to it. We’ve had some really good training rides the last couple of weeks. He’s a little unpredictable at times–he likes to take a good hard look at things and then jump it. Especially here at Aspen Farms with the colorfully painted show jumps, we will see how it goes. But after cross-country today he felt amazing.”

Lindsey Ellis and her Swedish Warmblood x Appaloosa gelding, Sir Winston Churchill, lead the Area VII Junior Novice Championships.

“He was perfect,” Lindsay said about their cross-country round. “He was really strong. He saved me a couple of times. It was very fun.”

Supported by her team, Lindsey said, “I’m going to rock my show jump tomorrow.”

The complete scores for all divisions are available on Startbox Scoring, here.

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