The cancellation of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event was heartbreaking for all of us, but it was especially frustrating for Zoe Crawford and her 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, K.E.C. Zara (Aldatus Z x Puissance Flight, by Puissance). The pair had their sights set on Kentucky being their first CCI5*, but this year came with a different outcome.
“It was disappointing in the spring not being able to go, but knowing that I had a lot of downtime, I was able to go back and have a refresher on the basics with her and practice seemingly simple things,” Zoe, a 25-year-old from Reddick, Florida, said. “Fine-tuning the basics has let me ride her faster and be a bit more confident in everything we do.”
Clearly, their hard work is paying off because the pair had the fastest CCI4*-S cross country at Stable View Oktoberfest last month, only coming in five seconds over the optimum time. They carried two time penalties, adding to their dressage score of a 37.3 to end in 10th in a massive division of 40 riders. (View EN’s coverage of the event here.)
“I knew she’s always been a really fast horse, but it’s taken a while to sort of find the balance of being able to go quickly and have enough control to get everything done,” Zoe said. “I walked parts of the course where I could shave off a few seconds, like cutting close to some trees or taking tighter turns into a few combinations, but she’s also incredibly quick across the ground, so I knew that she would be pretty quick around the course.”
Zoe and “Zara” have been partners for eight years, working their way from both of their first Novice events to becoming a competitive pair at the 4* level. The bond between this pair is evident, especially since they have worked up the levels together. They claimed a fourth-place individual finish in the CICY2* at NAJYRC in 2016 and started the 2020 season with a 12th place finish in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills. They were named to the 2020 USEF Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete Program.
The pair is aiming for the CCI4*-L at Tryon to continue out the season and Zoe is determined to head to Kentucky next year. “At this point, I know the events in the spring that are good for her, to get her prepared, so I have an idea of what events I am going to run leading up to Kentucky. She’s a horse that is incredibly easy to get fit, she never really gets tired,” Zoe said.
Zoe and Zara’s strong partnership will be one to keep your eye on!