October 2020 - Twin Rivers Fall International
Written by by Kim F Miller • Photos: MGO Photography
Thursday, 01 October 2020 16:28
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Tamie Smith takes top two spots in the CCI 4*-S & CCI3*-S; junior rider Haley Turner wins the CCI2*-S.

by Kim F Miller • Photos: MGO Photography

The resumption of international eventing competition on the West Coast featured new and familiar looks. New were facemasks, temperature checks and volunteering as the only way for non-exhibitors to get an in-person view of the competition. Familiar was the sight of Tamie Smith riding multiple horses in multiple division to multiple victories.


At the Twin Rivers Fall International in Central California’s Paso Robles, the Temecula-based 2019 Pan Am Games team gold medalist took the top two spots in CCI4*-S and the CCI3*-S, with four finishes in the 4*, five in the 3*, horses going in lower divisions and Next Level Eventing students to coach.


With fires in both ends of the state, some had to cancel close to the Sept. 17-20 competition, largely because smoke in their home areas prevented proper prep. But skies were clear and the Baxter family’s beautiful 500-acre venue was full of fresh air throughout the weekend. It was filled with horses and riders happy to be back out dancing in the dressage court, whizzing around the show jumping ring and galloping over a cross-country track with many new fences, routes and repositioned jumps. As CCI2* champion Haley Turner noted, “It’s wonderful to get back out there!”

A junior rider, Haley and Shadow Inspector laid down a wire-to-wire win in the 2*, while the 3* standings changed dramatically as Tamie Smith and Terry and Linda Paine’s Cheers moved from eighth after dressage to first. Tamie’s five rides in the 15-horse field included runner-up Solaguayre California, owned by Julianne Guariglia.

The CCI4*-S was originally set to conclude Friday afternoon along with the 2* and 3*s. Due to a change in the weather, the reschedule gave the Twin Rivers crew extra time to make some adjustments to the cross-country footing before the 3* and Intermediate pairs ran on Friday afternoon, pushing the CCI4*-S cross-country finale to Saturday morning. Those adjustments, as well as hosting the competition period amid COVID protocols, received much praise and appreciation from exhibitors throughout the weekend.

Tamie Smith & Passepartout.

It’s Turner’s 2*

“It was amazing!” said almost-18-year-old Haley of her win with “Chief” in the CCI2*-S. Thursday’s 26.8 dressage score stayed put over Friday morning’s show jumping on a course designed by Jose Nava. The afternoon’s cross-country over totally new routes by Hugh Lochore went smoothly, too. Just a .4 time fault, to end on a 27.2. The new course, “was fun and a good challenge while also being inviting,” Haley said.

“It’s been quite a long journey for us,” said the student of Bea and Derek DiGrazia. The 10-year-old Irish sport horse sustained an injury the first year Haley had him, then she was injured in the second year of their partnership. This year, their third together, began with high hopes for a North American Youth Championships spot and started well at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March, when they finished second in the Preliminary JR/YR division. Then came COVID.

An online student through high school, Haley graduated early last spring and plans to take a gap year partly because of COVID’s impact on the college experience. The opportunity to focus full time on her riding has been a plus and a pleasure, she says. “It’s almost like we’ve had a second winter to practice and improve our skills.”

Amateur rider Lauren Burnell and Counterpoint finished second, on their 29 dressage score. Emilee Libby and Natalia Valente’s Toska moved up steadily, from an eighth-place tie after dressage, into third thanks to penalty-free show jumping and cross-country.

Haley Turner & Shadow Inspector.

Tamie Time

Tamie Smith used the COVID-caused show break to stock up on expert advice at her Next Level Eventing training base in Temecula. Along with visits from US Eventing Performance director Erik Duvander, Tamie worked with show jumping Olympians Ali Nilforushan and Peter Wylde to refine that phase. It paid off especially with three clear rounds on Friday’s show jumping, including on Passepartout, the 4*-S winner, and Danito, the runner-up in that division.

Giving each of her many rides whatever they needed per their level and goals, she stepped on the gas on Passepartout, incurring the fewest time faults over cross-country. “Pasco” is owned by Tamie’s daughter and fellow professional, Kaylawna Smith-Cook, who is on maternity leave. Kaylawna and Pasco completed their first Advanced at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March, and Kaylawna gave her mom the green light to go for the win in the final phase. “I had never ridden him cross-country and so was pleasantly surprised at what an incredible horse my daughter has!” Tamie said. “I am so excited for their future together.”

Leslie van der Wal and Doonhill Dancer, Senior Beginning Novice Rider Champs.

Ruth Bley’s Danito, who was in the lead after dressage and show jumping, needed a steadier paced ride and finished second. Erin Kellerhouse and her own Woodford Reserve finished third, continuing a steady upward progression for the Irish Sporthorse.

In the CCI3*, Linda and Terry Paine’s 8-year-old homebred Thoroughbred Cheers was the only horse without time faults on Hugh Lochore’s cross-country. (He’s the little brother of Gin N Juice, Hawley Bennett-Awad’s Olympic and WEG partner). Cheers’ speed helped him move up from an 8th-ranked 34.3 dressage score, and a show jumping rail, which Tamie described as “my rail,” to win the day.

“He’s been a work in progress, and it’s really cool to have him seal the deal here,” Tamie said of Cheers. “Every horse is different: he’s hot and has been a bit slow to develop.” As the final phase of the 3* neared, Tamie’s “right hand person,” Bridget London, calculated that a double clear would earn the win, and that’s what the pair delivered. “He is an amazing cross-country horse,” Tamie concluded.

Rylan Tucker and My Box of Crayons, Junior Beginning Novice Rider champs.

Tamie had a different tact with her second-place winner in the CCI3*, Solaguayre California, a relatively new ride. Third after dressage on a 32.3, they had a rail Tamie again took the blame for, then four time penalties on cross-country. “Out of the box, I am always going for what I need with each different horse. She’d had a beautiful, solid show jumping round and the time was hard to make on cross-country. It was not an easy track to make up time on. So, I wasn’t trying to go crazy fast on her because she is green and more spooky than Cheers. We went at the level that I needed to for her training.” The Argentine Thoroughbred was developed by David Adamo, who “did a phenomenal job with her,” Tamie added.

Bec Braitling and Arnell Sport Horses’ Caravaggio II finished third in the division. After leading dressage with a 30.6, a show jumping rail and cross-country time faults slipped them to third.

Sophia Merz & Clara Bö, Junior Training Rider champ.

Up Next

The Fall International hosted qualifiers for the USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Championships and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. This special showcase for young horses will be hosted by Twin Rivers on Oct. 23-24. An unrated one-day event is slated for Sunday, Oct. 24, and a new, rated Horse Trials is set for Nov. 13-15.

For more information and full results, visit www.TwinRiversHorsePark.com.