The FEI competition kicked off to a strong start today with the first day of CCI2*-L dressage, which continues on Friday. The top three riders are veteran competitors at Rebecca Farm, although their horses are all fairly new to the level.
Tommy Greengard and his self-owned horse, Joshuay MBF, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood, scored a 25.4 to lead the division. Tommy said that his horse was super today and that, although Josh isn’t really a “natural dressage horse, he really lights up in the ring in all the best ways. He is naturally very relaxed and he allows me to show him off in the ring. And he doesn’t get too bothered by atmosphere.” Tommy also said they’ve been working hard for a long time to improve the suppleness that’s introduced in the lateral work at the 2* level, and Josh was really with him all the way today.
Tommy, who rides and trains in California, enjoys the change of scenery, terrain, and footing here in Montana. He said they essentially run the same four events over and over again in California, and the footing is primarily sand. It’s really good for the horses to come here and be able to hack, exercise, and run cross country on grass.
Maya Black and Double Diamond C, a 6-year-old Hanoverian owned by Laurie Cameron, stand in second place with a score of 27.0. Maya was proud of his performance today saying, “He’s a young horse – he’s six – and he was as good as he could be for where we’re at right now.” Maya drove her horses out from the east coast and was thrilled with how well he traveled and settled in after arriving in Montana on Saturday, particularly because this is only his third event that is a long distance from home.
Although Maya trains in Virginia now, she is originally from Washington State and still considers Rebecca Farm to be a local event. One of her favorite things about competing at The Event is spending a week with her friends from home. She said Rebecca Farm has a different feel and
atmosphere than any other event she has been to and there is nothing quite like the homecoming feeling for her. In addition to riding her two FEI horses, Maya has been enjoying some evening swims at nearby Foys Lake.
Currently standing in third place with a score of 30.9 are Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Arnell Sport Horses. Lauren said he is normally quite spooky at the judges’ boxes and cameras, but “today he really held it together.” She said she was nervous- heading into the ring because the warm-up didn’t go as well as she hoped, but ultimately he tried really hard and “it was one of his better tests.” Lauren thought perhaps he enjoyed being first in the ring, or maybe he just knew it was an important ride.
Lauren agreed with Maya’s comments about The Event at Rebecca Farm being a unique and special venue. She loves the atmosphere and people here in Montana, and that The Event feels special. Lauren is also particularly looking forward to having more open space and time to roll on cross
country. Her horse can come out of the start box a little strong, so this should be a good course for him with plenty of room to open up his stride.
All three riders are feeling good and looking forward to cross country. Tommy said his horse is “a phenomenal jumping horse … I just want to get in a good rhythm and try my best to support him but not interfere with him. He’s ready to do the job and it’s just fun to be back up here and to let him run on the grass.”
Maya and Lauren both agreed about being excited to run on excellent grass footing this year, as well as having a longer course that allows more room to gallop in a steady rhythm and jump out of stride. All three riders have experience competing on courses designed by Ian Stark, so they know to expect some “rider terrifiers” out there. Maya noted that they jump through the saloon in the old west town at the very end of the course, which is potentially tricky on a horse that might be a bit tired as well as looky at key-hole type jumps.
However, these riders also appreciate the care and planning Ian puts into his courses to make them horse friendly. The CCI 2*- L division begins cross country at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday.
CCI2*-L Photo Gallery by Hope Carlin Photography:
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