Tyler, Texas - The 2014 USEF National Open Horse Trial Championship got underway Thursday afternoon at the Texas Rose Horse Park with 12 horse-and-rider combinations performing their dressage tests. Becky Holder and her veteran, Can't Fire Me, seized the early lead with a near flawless performance in the championship being held in conjunction with the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series Final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by VTO Saddlery.
Holder (Palmetto, GA) has claimed the Open Horse National Title twice before and looks to add her name to the Jack Le Goff Trophy for a third time this weekend. The 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veteran has put herself in a good position to do just that after riding Phil and Melissa Town and Tom Holder's 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Can't Fire Me, into lead on a score of 31.2.
Holder was pleased with Can't Fire Me throughout the test and felt that, with the exception of a mistake in the medium trot, they earned all the marks they set out to get.
"It certainly was the test we've been schooling and training for. It has a lot of walk work and turn on the haunches but he was great; he had two really clear walk pirouettes and two clean changes with just one bobble in the medium trot," said Holder. "He was right on the mark throughout and really let me ride him through the corners, and we didn't leave too many points on the table."
Laying less than a point behind Holder in second place are Mathew Brown (Sebastopol, CA) and Blossom Creek Foundation's eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Super Socks BCF. The Event at Rebecca Farm CIC3* winners stand well within touch of the lead on a score of 32.5.
Reigning champions Lainey Ashker (Richmond, VA) and her own 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Anthony Patch, head out onto the cross country in third place with a score of 33.4.
USEF National Open Horse Trial Championship competition continues Friday as riders head out on Capt. Mark Phillips' cross country track. Jonathan Holing (Ocala, FL) and Meghan Richey's Proper Timing will be first on the Advanced course at 4:18pm local time.
To learn more about the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by VTO Saddlery visit: http://useventing.com/aec.