Woods Baughman Takes Advanced Lead at Millbrook

Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

The Millbrook Horse Trials, held July 27-30 in Dutchess County, NY wrapped up the first two days of competition Friday, with the upper levels taking to the dressage phase at Riga Meadow at Coole Park Farm, and the lower levels heading out on the cross country course across the road.

In the Advanced division, Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I — Anette, by Aarking xx) took the lead on a sore of 25.7. With a heat advisory in the Millbrook area today, Baughman said that the big, black gelding was feeling the effects of the weather and was less energetic than usual.

“He’s a really fun horse. I mostly work on suppleness and keeping him feeling good in his body. At shows he’s like a different horse and all I really have to do is guide him.” Woods has been working with German Olympian and dressage coach Bettina Hoy on improving his performance in the first phase.

For tomorrow’s cross country, hot temperatures would be to Woods’ advantage, as “Contendro”, as he calls C’est La Vie at home, tends to be strong and hard to handle in the cross country phase. But the forecast appears cooler tomorrow, so time will tell if the weather helps or hinders their performance.

“He’s a bit of a beast,” said Baughman. “I’ve started riding with Will Faudree and he’s helped me with cross country technique, managing rather than trying to control the horse — because ‘control’ is not going to just happen. It’s more trying to regulate him and take advantage of his unreal athleticism.”

They’ll be heading to the American Eventing Championships in Kentucky next, and will plan their fall season depending on the results of their next few outings. Admitting he’s struggled to get the job done at the top level, Woods is always aiming for that goal but won’t make the plans unless the rest of the boxes are ticked successfully.

Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Baughman is also competing Kamara in the Open Intermediate A and is currently tied for 7th place (32.3).

Baughman’s coach, Will Faudree, holds second and third places in the Advanced division riding Pfun, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tadmus x Celerina/Cento) owned by Jennifer Mosing (27.3) and Mama’s Magic Way, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic x Straightaway/Star Regent xx)(28.6). Young Rider Cassie Sanger is in fourth place riding Fernhill Zoro, (Verdi x Oronia 2/Voltaire) (29.8), fresh off a trip to Strzegom’s Nations Cup leg last month.

Will has competed Pfun internationally and said that since the gelding is 16 years old he plans to back him down from the 5* level. He said that the lesser demands on the horse’s fitness have resulted in him being more supple in the dressage.

“I decided last year that I wasn’t going to do the five-star level on him anymore,” he said. “He struggled with the speed and the fitness. But I’ve been having a lot of fun with him. I’ve jumped some big jumper rounds — some big 1.40 classes. With backing off the fitness needed for five-star, I’ve been able to keep him more supple.”

Of Mama’s Magic Way, he said, “He’s one the nicest horses I’ve ridden – he’s amazing – but he’s tough. We’ve been working really hard with Bettina Hoy. I’ve been lucky throughout my career to be coached by a bunch of fantastic people. He’s done four five-stars now and he’s now mentally strong enough that he’s handling the pressure at home to really train him. I was conservative on him today but he went in the ring and really stayed with me, I was thrilled.”

Will is entered at Burghley Horse Trials, the next CCI5* on the calendar at the end of August, with Mama’s Magic Way.

In the Open Intermediate A division local rider Ariel Grald, who represented the USA at last year’s World Championships at Pratoni, Italy took the early lead riding Forrest Gump 124 (30.). In Open Intermediate B Caroline Pamukcu (nee Martin), who just returned to the US after representing the US on the Nations Cup team is Strzegom, Poland, took the lead riding HSH Connor (27.3).

Beginner Novice through Training level did the cross country phase of the event today and Preliminary through Advanced will go cross country tomorrow. The Advanced track, designed by Morgan Rowsell, features an optimum time of 6 minutes, 9 seconds with 23 numbered obstacles. You can view maps for all cross country courses at Millbrook here.

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