Tamie Smith almost cried when she finished her dressage test with Mai Baum during the second day of dressage at the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L. It was their debut together at this level and “Lexus” put in his best performance despite being a little nervous.
“It was kind of cute because normally he doesn’t really get nerves,” said Smith of the 15-year-old German Sporthorse gelding. “He kind of just kept blowing his nose and he wasn’t eating today. I think he knew it was a big day. And he went in and was stunning. I almost cried.”
With a score of 78.21 percent, the pair sit just behind the first day leaders, Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, who scored 78.33.
Smith began riding Lexus in 2015 after his owner, Alexandra Ahearn, who rode him to the two-star level, took Smith to dinner and said she wanted Smith to ride him. “I’m getting chills … every time I remember that night because it changed my career actually … It’s a little bit of a fairy tale.”
While it took time for Smith to develop a partnership with Lexus, now “I feel like we’re a hand in a glove now. We’re such good friends now and kind of think alike.” She thinks tomorrow’s cross-country course will very much suit him because he’s a big, galloping type horse who is quick and naturally fast.
Boyd Martin moved into fourth place with Tsetserleg TSF behind Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class from Day 1. “He’s a great little horse. He’s a veteran at this level now and he’s just fun to ride,” Martin said of the 14-year-old Trakehner gelding. “He’s such a trier. He goes in there and gives it his all every time. I’m really pleased with him.”
Martin said that his wife, dressage rider Silva Martin, has been schooling his horses. “It’s a huge advantage having her school them and train them and having a dressage coach here watching you every single ride you’re riding them,” he said. “A few of them got a bit hot in the warm-up and she quickly went to some exercises which diffused them and relaxed them, so I’m pretty lucky.”
Martin has three horses competing in the five-star tomorrow. In addition to Tsetserleg, he has On Cue, with whom he sits in seventh place after dressage and Long Island T, with whom he’s tied for 11th. Of his strategy for riding cross-country: “You get sort of nervous and fired up and terrified on the first horse, and if you get around well, it’s important that you don’t relax and think it’s an easy day. I’ve made that mistake before. And vice versa, if something goes wrong on the early ride, you’ve got to put that behind you and pick yourself up and get on with the next one.”
In addition to sitting third, Townend moved into the fifth spot on Ballaghmor Class after their dressage test today. Townend said he was a little disappointed in their test because they’ve done much better, but “that’s life and horses. It’s a three-day event and we’re still close enough.” He thinks his horse will run a little fresh tomorrow, but “he’s been around Badminton and Burghley five times altogether. He’s got plenty of mileage. He knows what he’s doing.”
CCI4*-S: Tamie Smith Takes the Lead
As for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4*-S, the top of the leaderboard changed on the second day of dressage to include a “tomboy” mare and an “emotional” 18.2-hand giant who is “scared of everything.”
Smith, who was in a three-way tie for the top spot after the first day of dressage, took the lead all for herself today with the 16-year-old Hanoverian mare EnVogue with a score of 74.64 percent. Canada’s Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye moved into second place with a score of 72.98 percent.
“She tried really hard in there because she was really worried about the cameras, and I could see one eye on them the whole time,” Smith said. “But she’s just such a professional and was a really good girl. I was proud of her.”
Back at the barn, EnVogue doesn’t like much done to her, including shots, having her mane pulled and clipping. “She’s a bit of a tomboy,” Smith said. “She doesn’t like all the primping and prepping before an event.”
Smith had planned to do the five-star in Kentucky with the mare, but in the spring said she realized the mare needed more time. “I just really want to set them up for success and there wasn’t a lot of success. I just had to stop and reflect and go, ‘Is this really the right thing for her?’ I think she needs to do another four-long.”
Loach was happy with Vermont, who can sometimes get nervous. The 9-year-old Hanoverian is still green to this level and this is the biggest atmosphere he’s seen. “He really was listening to every step and I was able to really ride him,” Loach said. “When I asked, he gave. He seemed actually really happy with himself after as well.”
A giant at 18.2 hands, “Monty” is “scared of everything and very emotional, so he’s kind of funny,” Loach said. He can be difficult to deal with on the ground sometimes, but he’s growing out of it with experience and time.
Despite all this, Loach said “he’s been a superb cross-country horse up-to-date with me. He looks for the flags, and he’s got a great, big stride and keeps a rhythm the whole way around. So as long as he’s feeling like usual, I’m going to go for it.”