Highest of highs and lowest of lows — we use that phrase to describe the sport for a reason. Clark Montgomery was on top of the world Friday afternoon after winning the dressage at Badminton Horse Trials with Loughan Glen on a phenomenal score of 33.3, becoming the first American in history to be in first after the phase at this event. And tense little Universe also pulled himself together in very windy, spooky conditions to turn in his best dressage score in a CCI4* to date.
But that all changed Saturday when horses and riders tackled the most grueling cross-country track in recent memory under less-than-ideal conditions, and Clark ultimately retired both horses on course at the same combination, Huntsmans Close at fence 23, after they ran out of steam. Samantha Clark caught up with Clark for the PRO blog to get his thoughts on the weekend. Click here to read her excellent interview; here’s a few notable quotes:
On Loughan Glen: “Of course, as far as winning the dressage goes, it’s nice to know that one phase is there, but we’re all three-day eventers; we want to finish. It’s not a dressage competition; you hate to be known or for your horse to be known as just a dressage horse and not to finish, but then I think about all the proven, good cross-country horses here that weren’t able to finish, so I think I just have to put it out of my mind for this show. So now we regroup, fix whatever went wrong and go on to the next one.”
On Universe: “At first I thought he just got tired too, but once he got back to the stables, he was quite stiff on his right hind fetlock, and I do remember that at the New Pond he jumped in very bold and he put down on the rail behind and actually broke the pin, so I think he must have hit that right hind fetlock on that rail pretty hard in order to do that. He probably then jumped the Vicarage Vee section on adrenaline, but as soon as we’d finished that section, his jump began to feel not normal, his fetlock was probably hurting and he started compensating and he got tired, physically tired, really quickly.”
Kudos to Clark for putting the welfare of both Glen and Buzz first and retiring them when it was clear they weren’t going to make it around. Had Clark gone later in the day with Buzz, he would have known the time was going to be impossible to make and would have set out at a much slower pace to save every bit of horse he could. But he went very early in the order of go when riders were still figuring out how best to tackle the course, unfortunately, so set out at a fast pace. Buzz looked fantastic through the first part of the course until banging his fetlock — those are the silver linings we have to look for.