Will Faudree and his “little pocket rocket” Caeleste zipped around the Carolina International CIC2* cross country track to complete their eight-place jump up the scoreboard into the top spot.
Only two out of 64 starters came home double-clear, with sixth placed Jessica Schultz and Lock N’ Load being the other. Will and “Mouse” were the fastest of the day, galloping across the finish with three seconds to spare.
Carolina marks Will’s first FEI event since undergoing neck surgery last September. A fall on the Advanced cross country course at Five Points H.T. resulted in broken C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck and required the surgical fusion of two sections of his spine to stabilize the injury.
That put an early end to Will’s 2015 season but with two top-three CIC2* results this weekend, he has clearly rebounded with a vengeance! The Carolina Horse Park is Will’s stomping ground and he owned it out there today, making short work of Ian Stark’s imposing CIC2* gauntlet. He had a hairy moment when he fell from Socialite, his first ride in the two-star, but he bounced back to take the win.
“It was nice to be back riding. It was nice to fall and get up. That’s the first time I’ve fallen since the accident, but I’m feeling great. Caeleste was fantastic,” Will said. “I knew the time was tough to get, but I know Caeleste very well, and she is a funny horse because at some of the longer tracks she has gotten tired on me. … When I went to set her up for the second jump, she took a big deep breath, so I actually think it was really educational for her.”
Will and Mouse, a 9-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables, have come within a hairsbreadth of winning a CIC2* on several occasions. Shortly after he imported her from England in the summer of 2014, they finished third in the Chattahoochee Hills CIC2* and second in the Plantation Field CIC2*. They came fourth in the Carolina International CIC2* last year and had another close call at the Virginia CIC2*, where they finished second.
This weekend the pair finally got their day in the sun. We can’t wait to watch this partnership continue to develop, as Mouse seems to be custom-fitted to Will’s wheelhouse.
That’s what Clark and Jess Montgomery thought, too, when they first spotted the mare in England, where she was being campaigned at the one-star level by Kitty King. It was a whirlwind romance: They told Will they thought he would like her, he flew to England the next day, rode and vetted her the following day, and his longtime owner and supporter Jennifer Mosing generously agreed to buy her the day after.
“I love mares, and she’s a little pocket rocket,” Will told EN when introducing us to his new ride at Plantation Field. “She’s little and fiery and opinionated but in such a great way, and she knows when to go to work and is very happy to go to work.”
Could Mouse be Will’s next superstar? She’s got some big horseshoes to fill….
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, the leaders coming into today’s CIC2* competition, slipped to second on account of 6.40 time penalties, but it was exactly the confidence-boosting run she wanted for Blackie, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Deborah Halliday.
“I came here with a real plan, and I was very lucky to have some help from Phillip (Dutton) in the last week with Blackie. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter than you’re in the lead, don’t worry about it. The horse doesn’t need to win another two-star.’ It’s always nice to win, but he’s a three-star horse, so the plan was always to ride every jump perfectly and give him the best run possible,” Liz said.
“He felt the best he’s felt in a long time and felt really on the job and very happy. It was exactly what he needed. … He’ll run the Advanced at The Fork next. I think this was a strong enough two-star and were enough questions for the horse. Obviously he’s in the good books now, and we’ll see what happens at The Fork. Today the plan worked, and if anyone was going to win, I’m glad it was Will. I think it was totally deserved.”
Not content to simply win the division, Will took third as well with Hans Dampf. A great day all around here at the Carolina Horse Park! Click here to see the full fence report courtesy of Master of All Things Rick Dunkerton.
Meanwhile, in the CIC*, Katie Lichten and RF Luminati turned in three solid performances to take the no. 1 spot. Katie, a 17-year-old young rider from Hamilton, Massachusetts, finished 12th in the CIC* here last year and are surely over-the-moon with this year’s result, having bettered their dressage score by 5.8 points.
Katie and Harold Lichten’s 9-year-old Hanoverian/Holsteiner gelding, known around the barn as “Toothless” (from How to Train Your Dragon), have been on a roll since taking up with one another not-quite two years ago. In addition to some top one-star finishes, including a fourth in the Virginia CCI* last spring, the pair represented Area 1 in the 2015 North American Junior & Young Rider Championships.
“He’s a really good show jumper and he really takes care of me, so I was really happy with him,” Katie said. “On cross country, I definitely thought it was a challenging course for the level. There was a lot to do and a lot to look at — a lot of colors. He handled it really well. He’s a pretty fast horse, and he’s really careful so I could just whizz around. He was awesome. I knew the time was hard to make, but we came him in a bit under.”
Katie got Toothless about two years ago from Jan Byyny, who she also trains with now and said has helped immensely with her riding. Their goal is to aim for Young Riders again this year, and Katie said she’s looking forward to competing at the Colorado Horse Park this year.
Jenny Caras finished second on her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse Fernhill Full Throttle in their first FEI competition together. On their heels was Matthew Flynn and Wizzerd, an 8-year-old Dutch gelding with whom he recently finished 6th in the Red Hills CIC1*.
Jenni’s out roaming the fields, watching the final cross-country rides of the CIC3* division, so check back later for her full report!