The ease with which Woods Baughman, who originally hails from Kentucky but now bases in West Virginia, and C’est La Vie 135 (Contendro I – Anette, by Aarking xx) tackled the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship at The Dutta Corp. Tryon International didn’t give away the work that has gone into this moment. Woods and “Contendro” have just been crowed the 2021 4*-L National Champions — but in all honesty, Woods came here hoping and expecting to just have a confident, safe weekend.
Three months ago, Woods recalls, the 13-year-old son Hanoverian gelding was “making himself dangerous” — the result of a falling off of the wheels that began at the start of this season. Midway through this year, Woods was at a low point in his young career. He’d endured two brutal falls at the 4* level and struggled to regain his strength and confidence after breaking two lumbar vertebrae at the Kentucky 4*-S in April. He’d felt his horse, who’d carried him to a 3*-L National Championship in 2019 and a third place finish in this event at Tryon last November, lose the brave confidence and rideability that had made him such a force to reckon with before.
“He hasn’t given up,” Woods’ coach, Sharon White, described. “And that’s the thing. You put one foot in front of the other, you figure it out, and you’re willing to go through the agony. You keep on soldiering through, and you learn from it. He is closer to being an expert now, with his year, because that is how you learn — by it all going wrong.”
After a gutting elimination in the 4*-L at Rebecca Farm in July, Woods and Sharon went back to the drawing board; or, rather, back to the basics. “He has such a good partnership with the horse,” Sharon explained. “And what happens is, then all of the sudden you have pressure and horses that try so very hard and then you have all of this pressure — you have to learn how to handle that. That’s all it is. You have to learn how to handle that and not ruin that special relationship, knowing that our horses are really trying hard. So Woods has spent the whole year trying as hard as he can, and sometimes you have to take a step back from that so that you realize what you already do know.”
In this case, it involved stepping down to the Preliminary level and rebuilding from there. Little by little, Woods felt the confidence and belief returning. He took his time, and after some increasingly solid runs at the 3* level, he filled out his entry for Tryon.
Which brings us to now, where Woods went on to earn a dressage score of 29.4 and would never look back nor add penalties to it — the only pair in the small-but-mighty 4*-L field to accomplish this. But Woods was feeling that aforementioned pressure this morning.
“I wasn’t doing so well this morning,” he laughed. “Mia [Farley] was making fun of me at breakfast because my hand was shaking so bad and I was just drinking coffee! But [Cest La Vie] is so genuine and he jumps so well, and by the time I warmed up I relaxed, because he’s not going to touch a rail and if he does, I messed up really bad.”
Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 maintained their lead with a double clear round 💪🏼 to win the 2022 The Dutta Corporation CCI4*L National Championship! 🥇
Posted by USA Eventing on Sunday, November 14, 2021
And the icing on the cake? Woods finally gets a win over his coach. He laughed about this in the press conference: “[Sharon and I] have been joking because whenever we compete against each other, I’m always like half a point behind her. And the only other time that I was beating her was at Bromont a couple years ago. I was so excited that I forgot my show jumping course and did a circle. So I walked my course a few times today, and was really glad that I didn’t do that again!”
Woods also wins a free international flight from the always-generous The Dutta Corp., which donates the flight as a prize for the top-placed U.S. rider in this National Championship, though he’s unsure of what he’ll use it for just yet (we just think you’d just love the Netherlands, Woods…).
For her part, Sharon White put an emphatic stamp on her season with the rising star Claus 63 (Catoo – Tina II, by Levisto), who is nine this year and has just completed his first 4*-L in second place, ending the weekend on a score of 36.7. It’s been a season of growing pains for this pair too, but Sharon has never lost faith in him.
“He was a real competitor in the ring,” she said. “So I was really thrilled with that, because you never know. But he actually really got in the arena and was like, ‘I’m on it’. And that was real fun.”
The thing with producing these horses to this level — and all of the miles, money, time, tears, and sweat that you pour into the process — is that you never truly know if you’ve got “the horse” until you do it. Sharon, like many of her counterparts, combats this uncertainty by releasing herself from expectations. “I didn’t have any [expectations], I was curious to see how he felt and how he ended up…how he felt in his body and whatnot. And horses will tell you a lot of how much they are competitors and how much they put into it. And he definitely told me he was going to dig deep.”
Sharon also wound up third in the CCI4*-S here with Cooley On Show (Ricardo – Jogantina, by Grand D’espagne), who was intended to run the Maryland 5 Star but was spun at the first horse inspection. As disappointing as this was in the moment, Sharon says, everything does happen for a reason — and “Louie” felt as good as he’s ever felt out on cross country today. “Fair Hill was pretty tough,” she said. “But I’m thrilled to have him here. He just had the best time running around that cross country. I’m just thrilled for the end of my season.”
Third in the 4*-L National Championship are Will Coleman with Hyperion Stud and Vicky Castegren’s Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar), who also completes his first CCI4*-L this weekend. Leading the way early after dressage, some time on cross country and an eventual single rail down today would put them into third overall on a score of 38.0. “Chin” has been with Will almost since the beginning, making this that much more special of an accomplishment.
“We’ve been carefully producing this horse since he was a baby, and this was a very proud weekend for us,” Will said. “He handled the whole weekend with class and showed basically everyone how exciting I think his future could be if we keep doing things right by him. I’m just really, really proud of him and proud of everyone in my program. A bit bummed to have that rail, but it happens and I thought the horse jumped well, so I really have no reason to be upset. And I’m very happy for Woods and for Sharon, both of whom I think a lot of, and so it’s a great result for everyone.”
Two newly-crowned 4*-L horses complete the top five: Hannah Sue Burnett with Christa Schmidt’s 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Capitol H I M ends in fourth on a score of 47.6, while Jimmie Schramm and the Bellissimo Partnership’s Eclaire finish the weekend in fifth on a 53.6.
Phillip Dutton and Z Don’t Miss a Beat, Win CCI4*-S
Phillip Dutton brought his Tokyo partner, the Z Partnership’s Z (Asca – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z), back out this weekend after a healthy break post-Olympics. Z, ever the workman, put in three solid phases to take home the CCI4*-S win on a final score of 35.6. “It was good to get him back on cross-country,” Phillip said. “It was the ideal one to bring him back for: it was challenging enough, but it wasn’t too stiff and the conditions were pretty close to ideal. The footing and everything else were spot on.”
What’s next for the 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding? “We’ll go back into the winter now and give him a short break, then gear him up for next year,” Phillip said. “Ideally, I’d like to maybe head to Badminton next year, so we’ll see how everything’s going.”
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights (BFF Incognito – Let’s Get It Right, by Covert Operation) rerouted here after an early parting of ways on the Maryland 5 Star cross country, and they end their season on a high note in second in the 4*-S division on a final score of 40.6.
There was one horse fall in the 4*-S on cross country today: Mia Farley and BGS Firecracker fell at one of the final fences up the long hill, but Mia has confirmed they are both ok.
Ariel Grald and Forrest Gump 124 Claim CCI3*-L Victory
It wouldn’t wind up ending in a fairytale for Indiana-based Dan Kreitl, who held the overnight lead ahead of today’s show jumping with Kay Dixon’s Carmango. With two rails down, Dan would still finish his weekend with two horses in the top five: Carmango in fifth and Horales in 10th.
Those rails paved the way for Ariel Grald to take home another win to close out her banner season, this time with Annie Eldridge’s Forrest Gump 124 (Fuerst Nymphenburg – Amaterasu, by Amerigo Vespucci xx). Second-placed ahead of show jumping, Ariel would finish on her dressage score of 27.7 with no penalties added around Chris Barnard’s show jumping track this morning.
This is a horse, 10 this year, originally campaigned by British rider Tom Jackson, and Ariel took over the ride in July of this year. “I’m just getting to know him,” Ariel explained. “We’ve had a few events together now, and he’s the ultimate professional. I just try to give him a good ride. It’s really all credit to the horse! He’s a good boy and a real trier. This is the most atmosphere and biggest venue I’ve taken him to so far. I was honestly just coming here to get to know him and ride him in a different environment and on different courses.”
Ariel has a longtime partnership with Annie Eldridge, whom she began working for in 2012 when she first moved to Southern Pines, Nc. It was Annie who would purchase Ariel’s five-star partner, Leamore Master Plan, as a five-year-old, and she’s gone on to own nearly all of Ariel’s competition horses through the years.
“I just want to thank Annie Eldridge,” Ariel reflected. “She’s an incredible lady and her generosity has allowed me to get to where I am today. Unfortunately, she’s not here this weekend, but she usually travels to the big events. She was in Virginia with us a couple of weeks ago. I know she’s watching on the live stream at home, though! It’s a journey that we’ve had together for the last few years, and I couldn’t do it without her.”
Riding in honor and memory of Annie Goodwin, Boyd Martin finished his first 3*-L with Fedarman B (Eurocommerce Washington – Paulien B, by Fedor) in second place on a final score of 30.2. Annie, who passed away in a cross country schooling accident earlier this year, had produced “Bruno” through the Advanced and four-star level. After her passing, her family decided to keep the 11-year-old KWPN gelding in work with Boyd. This is just their fifth event together and Boyd continues to be complimentary of the work and love Annie put into her partner as he continues to ride in her honor.
“Obviously Bruno is a phenomenal horse and it’s a real honor and privilege to be riding him after Annie’s passing,” Boyd said. “It’s funny how special horses are — I’ve become a lot closer to Annie’s friends and Annie’s fiancé came up to cheer us on this weekend. I’ve been lucky enough through Bruno to get to know Annie’s family closer. It’s a mega-talented horse and it’s exciting that he’s performing so well.”
Third in the CCI3*-L are Canada’s Kendal Lehari with her 8-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding, Audacious. This pair, who get their second 3*-L completion this weekend, ended on their dressage score of 31.0, steadily climbing the leaderboard from eighth following dressage.
Scramble Team Wins CCI3*-L Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Final
The scramble team consisting of Alex Baugh, Elizabeth Bortuzzo, Sarah Bowman and Ben Noonan clinched the team win in the 3*-L division, adding just one rail to their total score to end the weekend on a score of 119.1. The Youth Team Challenge is a new format this year, replacing the former North American Youth Championship. Now, instead of one championship, young riders competing at the 1*, 2* and 3* levels can earn points at various YTC legs on each coast throughout the season that feed into this end of year championship.
Ben Noonan, who rides with Karen O’Connor, and Sarah Bowman, who rides with Kyle Carter, reflected that despite the team being new acquaintances, they were quick to form a bond that would help carry them to a victory.
“Being on a team this weekend is wonderful,” Ben said. “Having it in a lower pressure, but still high pressure, situation lets you be a part of the team. It’s more and more that you’re wanting the best for your teammates. It’s definitely a good teacher that you want to help more people, and it’s really enjoyable.”
“I’ve never been on an eventing team,” Sarah said, comparing this experience to other team sports she participated in previously. “It’s a lot different because you want everyone to do well, even on the other teams. I’d never met anyone else on my team, and now we act like we’ve known each other forever. It’s a great experience.”
As for any takeaways from the weekend?
“Get here earlier,” Sarah laughed ruefully. “When in doubt, always be more prepared.”
We’re still underway with the CCI2*-L and CCI1*-L conclusions as I wrap this report up, so we’ll have much more to update you on later as the competition winds to a close.
As always, I can’t thank you enough for following along with our coverage of Tryon this year. It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of another eventing season — I know I’m not alone when I say I’m ready for some R&R, but what a year it has been! It’s been a real pleasure to follow the sport for another year; I know we say it all the time, but eventing is just…immeasurably special. And at the end of the day, it’s beneficial to always remember this.
The following portion of this report was taken from a press release:
Tik Maynard Maintains Lead to Win CCI 2*-L Division with Galileo
Tik Maynard (CAN) and Galileo galloped home with a win in the largest division of the week, scoring a 21.8 on the weekend after adding .4 penalties to their total. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) took second and fourth, scoring 25.1 with Quite Nice 11, the 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quadros 3 x Carentino 2) owned by Emilie Mudd, and earning fourth aboard Caison, the 2008 Hanoverian gelding owned by Larry Stevenson, with a score of 28.7. Skyler Decker (USA) and Cooley Monsoon, her own 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding, scored a 27.7 for third place honors after their double-clear performance.
“I knew Galileo was tired,” Maynard revealed after his winning round. “He felt tired in the warm-up, but he really tried so hard for me, and I was really happy with him.” Maynard emphasized that he’s walking away from the weekend full of gratitude. “Thanksgiving is coming up, and I just feel so grateful and thankful for the horses, my parents, my wife, my son, my mother-in-law, and my owners and sponsors … I just feel very lucky and privileged to be here.”
There was a strong Canadian contingent at the venue all weekend, from the young rider teams to the riders at the highest level. Maynard complimented the venue, and said that he felt like he was on vacation with his family and not just competing at the international level.
“I love it here. We try to put Tryon on our calendar every year and find any excuse to get up here. My wife’s family is from this area and her mom still lives here, so we have a lot of connections here. I love the mountains and I love the weather, and it’s such a nice place.”
Boyd Martin Gets His First CCI 1*-L Win with Gestalt
Boyd Martin (USA) had never before competed at the CCI 1*-L level prior to this weekend, he revealed, but he took the win with Gestalt on a score of 27.7, adding just .4 penalty points to his Dressage score. Chloe Johnson (USA) and Chilli Bean, who held the lead all weekend, dropped a single rail in Tryon Stadium to finish in reserve on a score of 30.3 with her 2011 New Zealand Sport Horse mare (Chilli Morning x Steal the Show). Third place went to Claudia Oppedisano (CAN) and her own God of Thunder, the 2006 Thoroughbred Cross gelding (Matter of Courage x Unknown), who combined for a total score of 31.7 over the weekend.
Martin and the 2012 Mecklenburger gelding (Gloriosus 1 x Colander 2) owned by Sherry Pound were paired together for this competition due to his owner recovering from an injury. Martin was thrilled to take over the reins and finish out his 2021 competition season at TIEC, he detailed.
“He’s a new horse for me. I managed to break the owner’s leg teaching her,” he kidded, “and so that’s how I, sort of, acquired the horse. But, Sherry Pratt Pound, a fellow Australian, she’s a great lady. I teach a little bit at her farm in Texas and am very grateful that she’s left the horse with me while her leg heals up.”
The CCI 1*-L competitors closed out the weekend in Tryon Stadium, with competitors unexpectedly competing under the lights due to a large number of entries in the three-day event, and it was a first-time experience for many riders. While Martin is no stranger to TIEC, nor to high stakes jumping competition beneath the lights, he was experiencing a first of his own.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever competed at the one-star level, actually, so I’ve never done Modified or anything like that,” he revealed. For Martin, the unique ending at Tryon was a great way to finish off his year. “It was a great weekend. I’m glad the end of the year is here, and it’s been an epic year of Eventing. What better place to finish it than at Tryon? This is a magnificent venue. Obviously, world class facilities, brilliant courses and very competitive fields. And it was kind of cool jumping under the lights, and I’m really pleased with the horse. [The weekend was] good.”
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