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Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy leaped into the lead today with a double clear show jumping at the Plantation Field International CCI4*-S.
Colleen Rutledge of Frederick, Maryland took a commanding lead after dressage, scoring 26.3 at the Plantation Field International CIC4*-S today riding Covert Rights, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred/Draft cross gelding. Boyd Martin of Cochranville, PA and Bonito, a Westphalian gelding owned by Stephen Blauner and Nancy Hathaway, were the second to last pair of the day to enter the arena, and laid down a 28.2 to claim second place. There are 57 entries in the CCI4*-S division.
Rutledge said that Covert Rights has had a few small injuries over the years that have slowed down his training progress, but he feels strong now. The pair recently finished second at the Great Meadow International in Virginia and she felt like he had a little more “pizazz” in his test today. “After he was a lumberjack on the show jumping course at Jersey Fresh [in June] we really went back to the drawing board in all three phases,” she said. Rutledge is also competing C Me Fly in the CCI3*-S.
Martin said, “Bonito’s a lovely mover. He was injured about a year ago and I’ve gently brought him back, slowly moving him back up the levels. He’s very flamboyant in the ring and it’s nice to have him back at this level. He won the Bromont three-day in 2016 and he’s competed at the four-star level before. I plan to be a little cautious with him this year, maybe take him to Fair Hill in October, with the big goal of competing at Kentucky next April.”
Martin is also competing two horses, Z and Fernhill Singapore, for Phillip Dutton, who was injured in a charity polo match last week. “It’s been a good experience,” he said. “I rode them a couple of times this week with Phillip teaching me which buttons to press. It’s a privilege to sit on them and nice to return the favor since Phillip is usually riding my horses when I’m sidelined with an injury.”
With little rain leading up to event there has been concern about the footing being too hard but Martin said, “The ground is fantastic. The guy who is aerating the footing should be paid a bonus! It’s a big strong course and I think it’ll be a good education for the horses.” Martin is also riding Luke 150, 7th and Barry, 9th and Carlsburg, 24th-T in the CCI3*-S.
Erin Sylvester, a longtime student of Martin who also resides in Cochranville, is third after dressage in the four-star with 29.5 riding the 2007 Irish Thoroughbred gelding Paddy the Caddy, whom she owns in partnership with Frank McEntee. Sylvester has owned the gelding since he was three years old and said that he always performs well at Plantation Field.
“He likes the footing and atmosphere at this event,” she said. “I was happy with him today. He was really good in Kentucky this spring but has been struggling a bit since then. I’ve been working on keeping him relaxed in the ring. He tends to be relaxed in the warmup and then light up in the ring; I really rode him in the warmup today and he was the same horse in the competition ring.”
Enjoy a few more lovely snapshots from Amy Dragoo and her talented team:
Plantation Field CCI4*-S Top 10 After Dressage:
Two adult amateur event riders, Pierre Colin and Paul Swart, are taking up the challenge of running the London Marathon on Sunday, April 22 to raise valuable funds to help protect Africa’s rhinoceros population through the charitable organization Rhino Conservation Botswana.
It is a little-known fact that rhinos are the closest living relative of the horse. These iconic animals are on the brink of extinction as they are poached for their horns under the false belief that it has medicinal value. In reality the horn is made of keratin, the same material as horse hooves and human fingernails, but it has long been believed that the ground-up horn of wild rhinos increases virility, thus they have been poached mercilessly.
Pierre has competed at the Training level with his horse Triskelion and along with his wife, Denise Lahey, is also an owner for Boyd Martin. Pierre and Denise are half-owners of Boyd’s four-star mount Steady Eddie, who will compete in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event next week.
Paul, originally from South Africa, lives in Aiken, South Carolina and has competed at the Preliminary level on his horse HJ Eros. He has an adventurous background with horses.
“We were conscripted in South Africa, and I was actually in the Border War on horseback,” Paul said. “I spent a full year riding there in a war zone and the training is very similar to eventing training; you have to hang on and be able to jump ditches and brush and so on. I also did show jumping as a kid in South Africa and later became a safari guide, and I became an amateur eventer after I moved to the States.”
Paul volunteers his time as the USA trustee of Rhino Conservation Botswana, whose patron is HRH Prince Harry of England. “We take the rhinos from heavily poached areas to Botswana and protect them,” Paul said. “We are creating genetic breeding pools with wild black and white rhinos to keep the population going.”
Denise explained that the conservation moves rhinos from countries where there are numerous poachers and brings them to Botswana, which has a no-poaching policy. In addition to raising general funds for the conservation, the London Marathon will also raise money for the conservation to add more rhino protection dogs, which are trained to thwart poachers.
It’s expensive to buy and train the rhino protection dogs and also to maintain them, but they are valuable assets to the conservation’s anti-poaching program. So far the conservation has two rhino protection dogs, Savas and Luna, in their program, with an aim to expand to six dogs.
It seems that every other day another animal is added to the endangered list, and all too frequently species become extinct. Many of us feel sadness for what is lost, perhaps scrolling through the news online with a pang of regret, but quickly move on with our lives. Paul and Pierre, however, decided to take action.
Pierre and Denise donated to build a monitoring camp in Botswana that will house a crew to track and protect rhinos, which ultimately led to the opportunity to meet Prince Harry and run the London Marathon.
Paul recalls, “Last year in October we were given four spots through the conservation trust to run the London Marathon. Pierre had just run the Boston half marathon and I knew he was in pretty good shape — so we decided to go for it.”
The two men started an intense 16-week training program and will run the marathon on April 22. “We’re both feeling great, it’s actually been an incredible learning exercise and it’s a mental game. It was a challenge and we decided, ‘why not?’ Pierre and Denise are big supporters of ours as well, and I thought it would be really cool for us to do this together and make a difference,” Paul said.
“Rhinos belong to the world and the poaching is a global issue; there’s tremendous pressure to save them. We’ve all got to do something if we all want our kids to enjoy the natural world, and we’ve all got to play an active role.”
Paul is the USA trustee for the conservation and one of four trustees worldwide: in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the USA and Botswana. “I do this pro bono so that I can support doing something good,” he said. “We’re hoping to raise some funds which will go directly to the front lines to protect rhinos.”
Boyd added, “Denise and Pierre are great supporters of rhino conservation. They are very passionate about animals in general, and the wild rhinos in Africa in particular. Paul is also a great guy, and I’d love all the eventers out there to chip in on their run.”
If you are interested in supporting Paul and Pierre’s run in the London Marathon, please visit their GoFundMe page at this link. All donations will go directly to the Rhino Conservation Botswana USA Trust.
Click here to learn more about the plight of rhinos on the Rhino Conservation Botswana website.