Mill Spring, NC - Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous took a commanding lead in the FEI CIC 3* division at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), as the pair received a score of 41.70 to begin the first day of competition.
Kim Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border currently sit in second with a 43.70, while Phillip Dutton (USA) and Fernhill Revelation round out the top three on a 48.30. Competition continues tomorrow featuring dressage, cross-country, and show jumping competition for an array of national and international divisions.
Little and RF Scandalous, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe & Michael Manders, performed a fluid and relaxed test in the George H. Morris Arena. Little, who has been focusing on flatwork and show jumping with RF Scandalous at her home base in Wellington, FL, in the off-season, felt that their hard work paid off in the ring.
"I was really pleased with her today. I thought she did a good job. She was very focused and did a nice test," she commented. "We've been working on bringing her frame up for a bit more consistency throughout the test. We want the second canter tour to be the same as the first trot tour and I think we're really getting there."
Serving as their first major outing of 2017, Little admitted to riding a bit conservative and felt that RF Scandalous handled the larger atmosphere well and is looking forward to a strong showing in both the show jumping and cross-country phases.
"This will be Kitty's first run of the season, which has always been the plan. She's been in Wellington the whole season and the gallops and the fitness has been a bit creative," laughed Little. "She's been galloping and exercising in the Everglades on the dikes and through people's yards. We're going to see where her fitness is, regardless, we want a good first run to start her season."
Severson and Cooley Cross Border, a 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Osilvis) owned by The Cross Syndicate, hold on tightly to second place, just two points behind Little and RF Scandalous. At only ten years of age, Cooley Cross Border is an exceptional mount for Severson, and the pair have improved their dressage work significantly this past season.
"I feel like we're making good progress. I've gotten him better connected but also more expressive. There's more power in his gaits now and he's more relaxed," she explained. "He's doing really well and is taking it really well. He was very good today. I thought the lateral work was very good."
Dutton, who is competing at TIEC for the first time, felt that both the atmosphere and competition are a welcomed preparation for the larger competitions he is looking towards this season. Guiding Fernhill Revelation, a 2006 Irish Sport Horse gelding (You x Hallo) owned by Revelation Group, Dutton is continuing to finesse the flatwork, as he only started working with the gelding at the end of 2016.
"I think it was worth the trip here to have these horses in this main arena. It's great preparation for the bigger events to come this season," said Dutton, who holds third place aboard Fernhill Revelation. "It was a good test. I was riding a bit conservative just to try and make it a mistake free test. Revelation is a new horse for me so I'm excited about him and his future in our program. I think he's going to be pretty smart on the flat."
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night lead the Advanced-A division with a score of 25.90, ahead of Courtney Cooper and Who's A Star, who received a 28.80. Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti round out the top three on a 29.20.
Jordan Lindstedt and Revitavet Capato currently sit in first place in the Advanced-B division on a 31.50, while Emily Beshear and Silver Night Lady earned a 32.80 to stand in second. Jessica Phoenix and Bentleys Best follow in third with a score of 34.60.
Competition continues tomorrow with dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center, please visit www.tryon.com.