Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) said that Cooley Nutcracker is a nervous horse who is green at the four-star level. But that didn’t stop the pair from finishing at the top of the leaderboard in the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S on the first day of dressage at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. She attributes that partly to the trust they have in each other.
“A lot of it with him is just the teamwork and him trusting me, and the more that goes along, the better he is, and today was proof of that,” said Halliday-Sharp. “This would’ve been a huge atmosphere for him, and not long ago he would’ve been very spooky. He just really fought for me today. I’m totally thrilled with him.”
The Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S kicked off today and runs through Sunday. There are 49 horses scheduled to compete; 24 rode their dressage tests today and the rest will ride tomorrow before cross country on Saturday.
Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Nutcracker scored 24.5. Following close behind is Tamie Smith (USA) and Solaguayre California with a score of 27.6. Third is Colleen Loach (CAN) and Vermont with 29.8.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Nutcracker
Of the 9-year-old Cooley Nutcracker, Halliday-Sharp said he’s still green at this level, but she’s excited for his future. “This is showing everyone what this horse is going to be,” she said. “It’s very exciting because now when we add strength—because he’s still not even close to strong enough, I have to carry him a little bit—and when we get strength in there, I think he’s world class.”
She started riding him last March (2022). “We still have a ways to go, but I really believe in him, and I think he’s a five-star horse,” she added. Though he’s a little nervous, in terms of his personality, “he’s very lovely, kind horse. He’s very chatty. He’s sort of that horse that you want in the barn that talks to you every morning when you walk in.”
Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California
Smith said that Solaguayre California is also green at this level. “She’s just been a work in progress …. So, she still shows her weaknesses, but she tried really hard, and the improvement is just getting better and better. So, I’m very pleased.”
Smith has ridden the mare for about three years, where they started at the Preliminary level. “She’s a mare too, but I feel like she really fights for me now. … She just keeps trying. And it’s funny because in the warm-up, she can be quite naughty, but she always goes in the ring, she enters at A and she just knows it’s the stage. So, I’m grateful for that.”
In terms of what the horse is like to ride and train, Smith said it was “terrifying sometimes. She’s really spicy and athletic. She bucked me off three times in a week before. I was hacking home yesterday, and she decided to explode and squeal at the same time. And she has never squealed. So that really scared me. And I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa.”
Colleen Loach and Vermont
As with Halliday-Sharp, Loach says trust is the basis for her relationship with Vermont. “I started riding him as a 4-year-old, and we’ve come up the levels together,” she said. “He’s a very, very sensitive horse, very emotional horse, but I feel like he trusts me and that goes a long way to keeping him mentally focused and calm. I’m lucky to be able to ride him. He’s an amazing animal, a great athlete and a super competitor.”
As for their dressage test, Loach said his personality of reacting to noise made an appearance. “He felt super in the trot work and right down the centerline,” she said. “Then when I walked, I heard a horse call from the warm-up arena, and he heard it, too. He’s very reactive to that sort of thing, so he called back, and he got a little bit of tension in his walk. But then when we picked up the canter, and he was very rideable and stayed with me.”
For complete results, click here.
The second day of dressage starts at 8 a.m. Friday. For ride times and the competitor’s list, click here.
Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!