November 2019 - Show Report: Woodside International Horse Trials
Written by article & photos by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 23:07
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Bouscaren, Smith-Cook and Braitling top International divisions.

article & photos by Kim F. Miller

Ebay had a nice pre-wedding gift for his owner Helen Bouscaren. It took the form of what the bride-to-be described as a “very brave” run over Ian Stark’s CCI4*-S course at the Woodside International Horse Trials, held Oct. 4-6 at The Horse Park at Woodside.

They led the small but strong 4* field by a slim margin after Saturday’s dressage and show jumping, then stayed atop after 8.40 time penalties on cross-country. A partner with her fiancée James Alliston in Alliston Eventing, Helen did her part, too. “I was very determined to ride him aggressively, and to ride him to the base of the jumps, which is how he feels confident.”

Helen and James have their wedding set for Nov. 3, at Galway Downs in Temecula, right after they finish their show jumping rounds in the Galway Downs International Horse Trials.
Helen and the big-looking, but only 15.3hh white Oldenburg gelding were second after dressage with a 31.70. Even with a heartbreaker final fence rail and a few time faults in stadium, they stayed there going into cross-country. “My main goal was to jump clean and have him confident,” she said, so she wasn’t pressing the gas pedal too hard.

Alliston Eventing crew.

Helen and James base their business about 45 minutes from Woodside, but they felt a bit of a home field advantage with a crew of students and Woodside Pony Club members assisting through the weekend. The Alliston posse hauls over to school at the South San Francisco Bay Horse Park at Woodside regularly, which Helen says can be a mixed blessing come show time. “It’s great for cross-country, but it can be tough for dressage because when the horses unload here, they think they’re going out on cross-country so it can be a little hard to settle them here.”

“Ebay loves to perform,” Helen continued of the 10-year-old she’s had for three years. “He has so much energy, he could go around 20 times and be fine. He loves the atmosphere here and always jumps really well.”

The time penalties that resulted from Helen prioritizing a clean, confident round put the win on pins and needles as Amber Levine on her second ride, Cinzano, a Holsteiner, headed out last after two others retired on course. The 8-year-old’s run-out at the coffin fence put paid to their victory hopes, but Amber and her veteran Carry On, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood, wound up a close second on a 45.20. Canada’s Leah Breakey and Master Class were third.

The Alliston Eventing students and Woodside Pony Club helpers came in handy on Saturday night as Helen was loaded with trophies. She received the Founder’s Cup, given in honor of Robert E. Smith, whose ideas were instrumental in the Combined Training Equestrian Team Alliance from which The Horse Park at Woodside was born. Helen also took home the Fric Frac Berence Heart Trophy, donated by 5* rider Frankie Thieriot-Stutes in honor of her retired eventer.

Helen Bouscaren & Ebay.

Kaylawna Smith-Cook & Passepartout Win the CCI3*-S

Pan Am Team gold medalist Tamie Smith was full of advice as her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook warmed up for the 3*-S cross-country, in which she and her mount of seven months sat second. “My mom asked me, ‘What do you need from me?’,” Kaylawna relayed. “I said, ‘I need you to go to the airport and not miss your plane for Boekelo!’” So, off went Tamie to represent the United States Equestrian Team in the Nations Cup there, leaving her daughter to fend for herself.

Kaylawna, a young professional, did so rather nicely.

Passepartout came Kaylawna’s way in March, as a sale prospect, but mother and daughter fell in love with the 10-year-old German Sporthorse and he never made it out of the Temecula, California stable where both base their training businesses. “I didn’t come to this event thinking we would win,” Kaylawna noted. “He gave me his all in every phase.” They earned a 32 in dressage from international judges Richard Baldwin and Gretchen Butts to sit fourth; were one of very few to jump double clear in stadium, and only added four penalties on cross-country.

Amateur Asia Vedder and Isi had a big lead going into cross-country, but a pilot error: jumping the 4* hanging log instead of the 3* duck coming out of the North Water Complex led to technical elimination. “He was so good out there and really deserved the win,” Asia said of her German Thoroughbred. She’d lost a little time earlier on course, along with focus on the right water complex exit, while trying to make it up. They were able to complete the course and Asia was otherwise thrilled with the 9-year-old’s performance. Their next outing is the Galway Downs International 3*-L.

Typical of the 3* level, most finishers had cross-country time faults, but Erin Kellerhouse and her Irish Sporthorse Woodford Reserve nabbed a #2 finish by having the fewest at 3.20. Woodside veteran James Alliston and the handsome Paint Trakehner stallion, Cassio’s Picasso KD, finished third on a 39.80.

Kaylawna Smith & Passerpartout.

Bec Braitling & Dassett Ricochet Stick Their 2* Standing

Riding for Arnell Sporthorses, Bec Braitling had a busy weekend highlighted by a fault-free trip over the 2* cross-country designed by Stark and Bert Wood. Her partner is the fast-rising star, 7-year-old Dassett Ricochet. Since splashing on the scene a year ago as winner of the Galway Downs Training Three Day, the Swedish Warmblood has steadily ascended with confidence and scope to spare.

“When I first tried him, I thought he would be a good amateur horse because he’s very relaxed: very chill,” Bec recalled. “There’s actually more in there than we thought. He’s chill but he uses the excitement to be really good.” The careful youngster is a reliable stadium jumper equally at ease out of the ring. “He looks carefully at everything, whether it’s scary or not. Then he lands and wants to run on. He can be pretty quick.”

Arnell partner, amateur rider Lauren Burnell, was fourth in the 2* with Freedom Hill, and Bec rode Arnell’s Penhill Celtic to a solid middle-of-the-pack finish in the same division. The native Australian rode the sporthorse sourcing company’s Caravaggio II to fifth in the the 3*. He’s just 8 and is another quickly moving up the levels. Being based at Central California eventing venue, Twin Rivers Ranch, Bec is able to “do the right homework” to enable all horses “to really come out and compete.”

Fifteen-year-old rider Meg Pellegrini continued a remarkable two years with her reserve finish aboard the Thoroughbred RF Eloquence, and a fifth aboard her Connemara/TB pony Ganymede. Lauren Billys and her rising youngster Can Be Sweet, a 7-year-old German sporthorse, held their third-place position after stadium with a fault-free cross-country.

Bec Braitling & Dassett Ricochet.

Stephanie Goodman & Caroline Morning Top Intermediate

Professional Stephanie Goodman regularly treks from Idaho to Woodside and other California venues, but today’s Open Intermediate victory with her own Carolina Morning made the long haul especially worthwhile. She and the 8-year-old Thoroughbred finished on their 33.60 dressage score from judge Gretchen Butts.

The Boise, Idaho-based trainer wasn’t sure of the horse’s jumping potential when he came from the track as a 4-year-old. As a 5-year-old, he eschewed anything resembling a ditch or bank and, as the trainer’s personal horse, “he spends a lot of time not being ridden.” Nonetheless, he keeps rising to each upward challenge, including this weekend in his third Intermediate outing.

Dressage has been a particular challenge. “He’s a very confident horse and he doesn’t like being told what to do,” Stephanie said. “And there’s really a lot in the Intermediate B test.” Yet, he’s also obedient and has a huge heart that’s helped him tackle each new challenge and Stephanie’s patient, one-step-at-a-time has served the pair well. “I just hope he keeps getting stronger and better,” she noted.

The overnight standings after Saturday’s cross-country held in this division. Marissa Nielsen and Vinetta M incurred only 2.40 time penalties over Marc Donovan’s stadium jumping track to stay in second. She and the 10-year-old Hanoverian were clear over Bert Wood’s cross-country on Saturday. Right behind them in third were Kelly Pugh and Ringwood Trendsetter, an 8-year-old Irish Sporthorse.

David Adamo & Solaguayre California.

Adamo & Lilley Win the Preliminaries

With over 40 Preliminary entries, the division was split in two, with familiar faces –horses and riders – emerging the winners. Bay Area professional David Adamo had three horses entered and rode each to top five finishes. The best among those was A group winner Solaguayre California, the 8-year-old Argentinian sporthorse with whom Adamo won the inaugural Modified Training Horse Challenge at the same venue, The Horse Park at Woodside, in August.

“When I heard about that new division, I thought it would be great preparation for Preliminary,” Adamo explained. Apparently Solaguayre California agreed, finishing on her 24.60 dressage score earned Friday from judge Vicki Matisi. They cruised on to make the time over Bert Wood’s cross-country route without pushing the pace. This being the young mare’s first try at the level, Adamo was pleasantly surprised to breeze across the finish line under the time. Show jumping has been the horse’s strength from the get-go, so Adamo was happy but not surprised to get the clear needed to maintain the top spot.

Adamo was fifth in the A group with another Modified Training Challenge star, Dos Lunas Filipo, the Argentinian gelding with whom he finished third in the August competition. The Modified Training Challenge was developed by veteran event organizer Robert Kellerhouse to be a suitable stepping stone for the big move from Training to Preliminary. Adamo’s results with both horses validate its value in a young horse’s development.

Argentina has become a favorite sporthorse source for Adamo. Solaguayre California and Dos Lunas Filipo epitomize the country’s bold and talented bloodlines, and the trainer loves the range of experiences to which these horses have typically been exposed when they come up for sale.

In the Preliminary B group, Adamo finished third aboard Fred. The 10-year-old is a Holsteiner, not Argentine-bred, but the trainer loves his potential, too. Fred was purchased for an amateur client a few years back and Adamo is enjoying bringing out his potential.

Rounding out the A group top three, Josh Barnacle and Happiness Is were second as the 11-year-old Hosteiner finished fault free on their 27.20 dressage score. Shannon Lilley and Carrigdhoun Cool Lad held their overnight third spot to finish on a 31.10 for the 7-year-old Irish Sporthorse.

Organizer Robert Kellerhouse, with wife & competitor Erin Kellerhouse, with Ian Stark on their horse Eli.

Lilley Looks Ahead

Shannon Lilley has only had Ideal HX for one month but her high hopes for the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood are already being realized with their victory in the Preliminary B group. Shannon owns the horse with her father, Alex Lilley. The last horse they partnered in was Ballingowan Pizzaz, Shannon’s partner in a 2011 Pan Am gold medal. Like Pizzaz, Ideal also got the nod from coach Dayna Lynd-Pugh. “So, we hope this guy might be just as good!” Lilley said of the horse sourced through Caroline Martin Eventing.

“He’s still learning connection for dressage,” she said, which was not evident in the 25.20 score from judge Vicki Matisi on Friday. That and a clear cross-country effort had them in third coming into Sunday stadium, when a double clear trip elevated them two first after the two pairs above had a rail.

“He has a big rangy canter and he’s game on cross-country,” explained Shannon, who is also president of the Eventing Riders Association of North America. And, he’s fun to campaign and to be in the barn with. “He has the most personality of any horse I’ve ever owned. He is totally in your pocket all the time and very sweet.”

The overnight leaders were junior rider Jordan Crabo and the 17-year-old German Riding Pony, Black Gold. The bold pair had a show jumping rail to bring their dressage score to a 28.60 for second. Adamo and Fred’s rail took them from second to third.

Kelly and Shannon James, designers of the center court graveyard in the Grand Prix arena.

Prizes & Praise

Along with beautiful ribbons and prize money, top finishers received generous prizes from Professional’s Choice, Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography, Auburn Labs and Ride On Video. Woodside organizers and competitors are grateful to long time sponsors Devoucoux, Parker Equine Insurance and Auburn Labs.

International division course designer Ian Stark, of Great Britain, enjoyed his latest visit to California. “Over the many years I’ve been coming to America, I’ve really seen the quality of horses and riding improve. Noting the relatively small 4* field, he stressed that lower entry numbers don’t equal lower course demands. “We’ve got standards to adhere to and, if we soften them, those horses and riders qualify for the next level and have troubles. Instead, they have to come up and meet the level.”

Organizers including Woodside’s Robert Kellerhouse, Rebecca Farm’ Broussard family and others on the West Coast have been instrumental in improving the level of the sport, he added.

Stark looks forward to his next California visit, serving as the star attraction for the Galway Downs fundraising clinic in January of 2020, a long-standing West Coast eventing tradition.