Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington hosted its first horse trials of the Area VII season this past weekend, June 10-12. Over 300 horses and riders competed in divisions from Beginner Novice to Intermediate, and for the second year in a row Aspen Farms offered CIC1* and CIC2* classes which attracted riders from Area VII, Canada and California.
Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and her Bavarian Warmblood, Airlington, took the early lead in the CIC2* on a dressage score of 41.6 and held their position Saturday after delivering a spotless stadium round. Tremaine Cooper’s cross-country course posed a challenging optimum time, and on Sunday Marc Grandia and the Beamer Syndicate LLC’s 8-year-old gelding, Indio BMW, claimed the win thanks to clear jumping efforts and just 3.6 time faults.
“My horse was really good,” said Marc, reflecting on Indio’s first attempt at the two star level. “His dressage performance wasn’t the best he could put in, but it was right up there. It was the best show jumping round he’s put in in a few years; he did very well over a difficult course. On cross-country it was tough to make time here. That’s been one of my biggest worries with him — whether or not he’s going to be able to gallop — and he did it. He was great! And what a venue to do it at.”
Marc and Indio are looking ahead to the two star at Rebecca Farm in July.
Emily and Airlington bumped down to third finishing on 52…
…behind Mary Burke and her OTTB, Prince William, who finished second on 48.6.
Sara Mittleider and Gin & Juice finished fourth.
Maris Burns of Carnation, WA, claimed the CIC1* victory aboard Cooley Wick, a horse she purchased as a 3-year-old from Kim Severson.
“Overall the weekend went really, really well,” said Maris. “He was steady, consistent, and happy in the dressage ring. He show jumped really well. It was a tough show jumping course, so I was impressed with him. On cross-country the ground was great; the jumps are amazing. He ate it up; he’s getting the idea of leaving the box and attacking the fences.”
Young rider Patience O’Neal delivered a solid performance in the CIC1* to finish second aboard the gigantic 5-year-old Thoroughbred/Welsh Cob gelding, BC Huw, in his first one star.
“He’s always been a solid dressage horse: super balanced. It was his first time ever in a long court and he scored in the 40s; I was super proud of him,” Patience shared. “He’s never looked at anything on cross country. He trusts me and I trust him. Over the past year he has progressed so much. I was very excited about going double clear; I actually started crying after we finished. I am so happy with him.”
Sarah Haff and her own Thoroughbred, Defensive Player, finished third on their dressage score…
…followed by Jessica Heidemann and her homebred Warmblood, Encore, in fourth.
Horse Trial Divisions
In the Open Intermediate Kelsey Holmes made an impression, finishing first and second with her own horses Heart of Gold SE and NZB The Chosen One respectively.
Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer rounded out the top three.
In Open Preliminary, Sarah Matuszewski and Saint Ignatius scored a 29.1 for the win, and in Open Preliminary B Attila Rajnai and Harry Houdini won on 26.8. Both pairs delivered clear jumping efforts, with just a bit of cross country time penalties on Sunday.
Sadly, Amy Evan‘s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Harrison, was euthanized after retiring from the cross-country phase in Open Preliminary B. Amy pulled Harrison up after landing a clean jumping effort at Fence 11, a brush jump on a downward incline. He was transported off the course and received immediate care from the veterinary team, who subsequently diagnosed a fracture on the right fore. Aspen Farms issued a statement on its website.
The Area VII eventing community extends condolences to the Evans family for the loss of this special horse and partner.
A positive aspect of the weekend included celebrating top finishers in all divisions during final award ceremonies and victory gallops. Thanks to Aspen Farms H.T.’s dedicated sponsors, over $25,000 of cash and prizes were awarded to top finishers, including cash payouts of $1,750 per class in the popular and highly competitive Zeit Capital lower level divisions.
As is often the case, many competitors praised the Elliotts, their crew and officials, and all the Area VII volunteers for their continued efforts to provide a top class show in the Pacific Northwest.
“Aspen Farms is an incredible event,” reflected Maris Burns. “Suzy and Jonathan Elliott and their team do an absolutely amazing job — it’s an honor to compete here.”
Aspen Farms will host its final horse trials, including their once-yearly Advanced division, Sept. 9-11. In addition, the September Aspen Farms Horse Trials will host the Area VII Championships for the first year of a three year tenure in Area VII.