TEMECULA — Galway Downs International is a popular year-end destination for West Coast eventers, offering not only international CCI divisions, but also a chance to tackle a traditional long format event with their USEA Classic Series divisions. These proved increasingly popular at Galway Nov. 4-6, with entries warranting two training three-day divisions.
Megan Noelle Wilson and her own Classic’s Mojah (Chambertin x Sevillano) led the Training Three-Day A division from start to finish. The 7-year-old Oldenburg was originally slated for a career in dressage, and carried theses skills into the first phase of competition, scoring a 26 on the flat.
“He was in training with Steffan Peters, but didn’t quite cut it as a dressage horse,” said Wilson, who works and rides with Tamie Smith in Temecula. Fortunately, the bay gelding was rerouted to eventing, a career switch that has worked out nicely.
“Steffen reached out to Tamie to see if he could be sold as an event horse, and they thought we would be a good pair, said Wilson. “It was pretty much love at first ride.”
The pair’s dressage score remained untouched throughout the competition after two faultless jump rounds.
Wilson purchased “Mojah” in June of this year, and the pair has already racked up their share of successes, using this three-day to conclude their first season together.
“We decided to do the training three-day because we were thinking about moving up to preliminary, but since he is so new to eventing, we wanted to give Mo and I a chance to do something a little more difficult than a regular training before we moved up,” Wilson said.
This was a first attempt at a traditional long format event for both horse and rider, and Wilson thinks the learning experience alone was invaluable.
“The long format really prepares you for a good cross-country round I think. Steeplechase really gets them in front of your leg! Mo is more on the lazy side, so it surprised me when he I went out of the start box and he was so forward,” she explained. “Because he was in front of my leg he was really able to figure out his own feet.”
“It feels similar to doing an FEI event, which makes it so much more thrilling with the big crowds and atmosphere. I think Mo and I really had an opportunity to learn so much about our partnership because of the long format.”
The A division was a capable bunch. Out of the 21 starters, 19 finished the weekend and did so with no cross-country jump penalties. In fact, there were very few penalties across either jumping phase, with eleven competitors finishing on their dressage score.
In the second USEA Classic Series division, Megan Compton and her own Five O’clock Somewhere (Audio x Qtrpastree) also led a wire-to-wire win of the Training Three-Day B division. “Chunky,” a 15-year-old Thoroughbred earned a score of 31 in dressage, and added nothing to it through the rest of the competition.
Keeping the pressure on all weekend was Chunky’s full sibling, Linda Paine’s Happy Hour, ridden by Kaylawna Smith. Also bred by Terry and Linda Paine, 8-year-old Thoroughbred “Happy” gave her brother a run for his money, finishing only .3 behind him. The success of these two California-bred siblings was a significant nod to Terry and Linda, who are very involved in not only the breeding, but also the training of their horses. “It was fun for me to see [Terry and Linda] there because they don’t own Chunky anymore, but they still keep up with him and appreciate seeing him out. I love that they’re involved,” said Wilson.
Kaylawna’s family rivalry extended beyond last weekend, as she also found herself tied with her mother, Tamie Smith, and Graceland’s Liebling after dressage — both with 31.3 penalty points. But at the end of endurance day, it was Kaylawna who broke the tie after finishing closer to optimum time than her mother.
“I was determined, I’ll say that!”, she said. “I went out on cross-country and made sure I was right on the dot — I beat her!”
Tamra graciously accepted her third place finish with Peggy Moore’s 5-year-old Oldenburg mare.
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