Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous stepped into the arena today in the Buckeye Nutrition CCI4*L at the MARS Equestrian Tryon International having not started a long-format event since Kentucky in 2018. The pair has stepped out at horse trials and CCI4*S competitions during a competition year punctuated by the pandemic, and Marilyn says the year has been anything but ordinary.
Marilyn calls “Kitty” the “ultimate ‘big day horse'”, but the abnormal year, combined with the injury that kept the mare off the 2018 World Equestrian Games team, certainly caused its fair share of disruption for a horse that had been mostly saved for the big events.
“I only have one shot out there, and so I try to be patient and careful to never overuse or risk her in a competition that isn’t critical to the greater goal,” Marilyn said. “My preparation for this weekend has been different than any other in my career. There have been a host of new challenges, some of which have required me to dig deeper to find answers than I thought possible. The fact that I have the chance to be here at all with Kitty this weekend, with all the excitement that I have is both a blessing – and frankly – a miracle produced by the many incredible people around us. Their support deserves a personal best from both of us. We have to take one day at a time, but each day, that is what we have come here hoping to deliver.”
Marilyn and the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Michael and Phoebe Manders along with Ms. Jacqueline Mars earned a 21.5 to take a handy lead over early second placed Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery. As the day wore on, a handful of pairs would move into the top five on sub-30 scores, but Marilyn will take the overnight lead looking ahead to tomorrow’s conclusion of dressage.
Doug Payne and his Pan American Games partner Starr Witness will take second place overnight after earning a 26.6 from the judging panel consisting of Gretchen Butts, Bobby Stevenson, and Helen Brettell. This is the first CCI4*L start for the 9-year-old KWPN mare owned by Doug, Laurie McRee, and Catherine Winter, who began her career in the hunter ring.
Coming in third for the day are Boyd Martin with Christine Turner’s On Cue, a 14-year-old Selle Francais mare who was third in her first CCI4*L at Bromont last year. Her score of 27.7 comes as a personal best at the Advanced/4* level to date.
Other notable tests from the day include Tamie Smith and Ruth Bley’s EnVogue, who earned a 29.2 for overnight seventh place. Tamie and Andrea Baxter (Indy 500) traveled from California with the help of the Land Rover Competition Grant (Tamie) and the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider’s Grant (Andrea). We’ll see Indy 500 as well as Tamie’s second 4*L ride, Ruth Bley’s Danito, tomorrow.
Maya Black and Laurie Cameron’s Miks Master C will take hold of fourth place overnight after a lovely showing that scored a 28.4. Completing the top five are Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’ysieux on a score of 28.6.
Have you joined Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE) yet? One great benefit of membership is that all members will receive a lapel pin that can be proudly worn in support of diversity and inclusion in equestrian sport. You can learn more about Strides for Equality Equestrians here.
We also saw three CCI4*L rookies make their debuts in the sandbox today: Woods Baughman with C’est La Vie (6th – 29.1), Annie Goodwin with Fedarman B (23-T – 34.9), and Kaelen Speck with Sweet Rebellion (28th – 36.3).
Kaelen Speck was thrilled with Sweet Rebellion, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred mare that Kaelen owns. “Today we had a couple bobbles where she tripped but overall I was really happy with the effort she gave me and so was she,” Kaelen said. “We’ve been working a lot on rideability and forward relaxation. She’s very quick to get hot and lose focus in the ring and on course, but we’ve figured out a few techniques to work through it. Probably the most notable is my two-point dressage warmup. We’ve also been working on a lot of turning exercises over the jumps.”
We’ll keep tabs on the rest of our CCI4*L rookies this weekend; it’s always exciting to see up-and-coming talent making their way to the top.
Heavy rain this week prompted the organizing team at Tryon to push all cross country scheduled for Friday to Saturday. Under the new scheduling, cross country will begin at 8:00 a.m. ET with the CCI2*L. The Buckeye Nutrition CCI4*L will start cross country at 10:10 a.m.. There is some additional rain on the forecast for tonight, but tomorrow is forecasted to be clearer which should, with any luck, dry out the cross country course a little in time for Saturday. View the updated schedule here.
Tomorrow will see the conclusion of dressage for the CCI4*L, which kicks off at 8:00 a.m. ET with Arielle Aharoni and Dutch Times. You can view the ride times for tomorrow here.
We are pleased to partner with Shannon Brinkman Photography this weekend. Enjoy some shots from today’s action: