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Cantano can-do, and Susie can, too

In each of her four years with Cantano, Susan Hutchison has taken him a step up

From Horsetrader staff reports - January 6th, 2011 - Cover Story, Feature Article

January 6 CoverTEMECULA –After a stellar 2010 campaign that resulted in a Pacific Coast Horse Show Association Grand Prix Horse of the Year title, Cantano is ready for more.

His rider, Susie Hutchison, is confident the 11-year-old Holsteiner stallion owned by the El Dorado 29 partnership is set for success in 2011, too. Actually, it’s their teamwork that appears ready as they head into the upcoming HITS Thermal campaign.

“Right now, we are in such synch,” said Hutchison, a former AGA Rider of the Year and four-time World Cup finalist who has been bringing Cantano along four years now.

Susan Hutchison and Cantano, owned by El Dorado 29, started their winning ways in 2010 at the April 11 $35,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix in San Juan Capistrano. The year ended with the PCHA Horse of the Year Award.

(C) Dirk Gallion JumpShot photo

Susan Hutchison and Cantano, owned by El Dorado 29, started their winning ways in 2010 at the April 11 $35,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix in San Juan Capistrano. The year ended with the PCHA Horse of the Year Award.

“I just think turn, and he turns,” she said. “I think slow down, he slows down. I think faster, and he goes faster. He and I have become such a team, that’s what we’ve been really working and waiting for. We didn’t have that last year or in 2009. We didn’t have that working for us.”

Even without their telepathy, the Cantano-Susie duo managed an impressive year. In addition to the Horse of the Year honor, they finished just .56 seconds from being “the” horse in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix at HITS last winter. A shade over a half-second separated Hutchison from winner Jill Henselwood aboard Bottom Line in the jump-off. The big purse still provided $39,000 third-place winnings, helping putting Hutchison and Cantano in good qualifying position for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that was held Sept. 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties in New York.

Cantano wasn’t ready for such a trip last year. Not so in 2011.

“Our 2011 direction will be determined by our outcome of Thermal,” Hutchison said. “Depending on the horses I have and how well Cantano does there this year — there’s a $200,000 class at the end of the circuit. If we do well with that, then I would certainly love this year to go to Syracuse.”

“We missed last year because the Young Horse finals at Showpark was the week prior to Saugerties – that and the fact that I didn’t think Cantano quite had the foundation underneath him to get up, get on an airplane and fly to new show grounds and to a big event like that.”

“Had we been able to go the week prior and show and familiarize him with the show grounds a little bit, we would have been ready for that type of event,” she added. “It’s taking baby steps. With any horse. I think if you really try to do all the steps right, it’s terrific. But if you do one step wrong, and you pay for it. They seem to remember the bad stuff a lot better than they remember all the good stuff.”

Hutchison is eager to test Cantano in the indoor events at Thermal, another step in his progress.

“He’s at a point now where he has a strong foundation, so if something was to go a little awry and wasn’t quite what we wanted it to be, it would be OK — we would just be able to get right back on track and continue,” she said. “Patience is very much a part of it, and we’ve been patient. Now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Like the $30,000 qualifiers for the World Cup in the past year, I’ve just used them as a real school for the grand prix for the World Cup qualifier and not tried to go fast in those speed classes. This year, he’s going to go in every class — he’s going to go and try to win.”

Her ground person at her Temecula stable, Sandy Aston, has influenced Cantano’s preparation.

“I think every horse is different,” Hutchison said. “Sandy has been a big advisor with this horse, and she’s very wise. She feels that as an 8-year old, the horses — if they are going to make it — that’s the year to start them in the grand prix ring and see what they are really made out of. That’s kind of what we’ve done with this horse.”

Two years ago when they entered him in some of those $30,000 qualifiers, Hutchison walked the course and pulled him.

“We just thought it was too much,” she said. “Indoors versus outdoors — had the same course been built indoors that was built outdoors, we’d have been able to handle it. At that point he didn’t have the rideability. He wasn’t schooled enough.”

And now?

“He’s ready,” she smiled.

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