Carol Lavell and Much Ado Excel at Region 1 Championships

Carol Lavell and Much Ado traveled a thousand miles to win the Second and Third level championships at the ABIC/USDF Region 1 Finals in Raleigh, NC, August 31-September 2. "I like the footing in the indoor here," she said. Having won the First level championships last year in New England's Region 8, the winner's circle was old hat for the pair.

Ever the perfectionist, Lavell has her mind on ways to improve the performance, but she's glad to be moving on from third level. "It's not a good test for him because of the mini-diagonal," she said of third level, test 3, the one ridden in championships. "There's not enough room for his big gaits. HE hasn't got real engagement yet; he's very supple, and it's harder to ride than a stiff horse. You can't have a connection without muscle connection, and he needs more strength. But he's one hundred per cent happy to go to work."

Having grown an inch and a half this year, the seven-year-old gelding is now 17.3 inches. "There's no chance to get all his parts together, but this age is when Gifted got the biggest, so I'm used to that." Much Ado has is often compared to Gifted, but Carol Lavell says the two horses are nothing alike.

"He's not the same as Gifted, no way!" she said emphatically. "I like it because he's different. I love that he loves people; he's all over you like a wet T-shirt. Gifted wasn't a people horse, but this guy was a people horse from the start."

Their lifestyle in rural Vermont excludes constant exposure. On a farm where Much Ado is the only horse in residence, Lavell says, "I like it peaceful where I work." She says that all this time one on one has made them a close-knit partnership.

I think there is an overall lack of appreciation as to what it takes to bring a horse from two years old, who's a live wire and growing this much, never even had a halter on, to compete with sanity and training," she said.

Much Ado came from Dr. Jan Greve in the Netherlands, where he was in a field of eighty stallions. At the bottom of the pecking order, he had had his tail chewed off and was not the big attractive horse that he is now, but Lavell said she recognized something special in him and bought him anyway. He eats 22 pounds of corn a day to keep his weight up and keep growing.

"He was still afraid of the indoor," said Lavel,," but the good news is that he's a hot horse and someday when we're doing Grand Prix and it's hot out, he'll keep going. I'd rather say whoa than go. He's just not mature or exposed enough to always be in control yet. We used to not ride in the warm-up with all the other horses, but now he's okay." They led their victory lap this weekend at a controlled walk, just in case.

Now on their way to Florida, Lavell plans to spend a month in Asheville, NC to see how she likes it and whether a move south may be in order. Perhaps next year she won't be driving a thousand miles to get to Raleigh.

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