USA’s Devin Ryan was on top for the entirety of the $73,800 International Welcome Stake at the 2022 National Horse Show. He and Eddie Blue, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, were sixth in the order and first to go clear and under the time allowed out of 38 horse-and-rider combinations. The duo was also first in the ring for the jump-off, which they completed clear in the fastest time to claim victory.
“When it came down to the jump-off, I know [Eddie Blue] is not naturally not the quickest horse, but he has a big stride,” Ryan said of his mount. “The thing is, he is a very careful horse, so I can turn back on a fence and trust him. I don’t have to give him as much room to get it done. He jumps so many clear rounds.”
Only seven other pairs joined them in the jump-off. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and James Kann Cruz, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Gizmo Partners, LLC, finished second. Evan M. Coluccio (USA) rounded out the top three with Valdes Z, a 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Hampton Green Farm, LLC.
The 1.50m course proved trickier than one might have originally thought. Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) admitted that he expected about twelve riders in the jump-off. But the tight turns inside Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, were a challenge for many. “Some of those oxers out of those turns … I didn’t think there were going to be that many clear,” said Ryan. “I didn’t think there were even going to be seven [others] clear.”
Collection and Rideability are Key
Though big-bodied and standing at 16.2hh, “Eddie” had no trouble in close quarters. Collection and rideability are two skills that Ryan has worked hard on with Eddie to be able to handle these circumstances. “When he was a younger horse … collection was hard for him,” Ryan admitted. “Now, he collects really easily, he collects really well, but he’s also very scopey. I can collect and rock him back and he has and the scope to get out. So, it works out for indoors, even though it’s tight.”
Training at Home
To hone those skills, Ryan says he practices adjusting Eddie’s stride when they’re schooling. “[At home], I work him on a forward pace, but he has to be adjustable. I’ll lengthen and then I’ll do a 20-meter circle where I practice as slow as I can go. … Then, just after one circle, whatever [I] get accomplished in the circle, that’s it, then go forward again.”
Ryan added, though, that riders often “forget that [lines are] based off a 12-foot stride,” and end up working too much on collection. “I practice a lot more forward work with my horses at home so they’re very comfortable working on that stride. Then, I throw in a little bit of collection. I don’t often do just a lot of collection work with my horses.”
Keep Up with the 2022 National Horse Show
For full results, click here.
Competition resumes tomorrow, November 4th, at 7 a.m. with the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under under saddle.
To watch the 2022 National Horse Show live, click here.
Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2022 National Horse Show, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!