First Year of LEGISequine Optimum Time Awards Take Eventing by Storm

LEGISequine values education and safety for riders, and one of their goals is to find innovative ways to promote both of those concepts. The LEGIS Optimum Time Award debuted at Fresno County Horse Park in February of this year and culminated at FCHP in November. Throughout the year, LEGIS Optimum Time Awards were given out at Copper Meadows and Shepherd Ranch Santa Ynez Valley Pony Club Horse Trials as well. The program was popular with riders, giving them a chance to earn another award while being rewarded for riding an appropriate pace on the cross country phase.

“Awards like these really show riders that there is a great community of sponsors backing them,” commented Sarah Wood (Taren Atkinson, trainer), who won a LEGIS Optimum Time Award at Copper Meadows in September on her Diggin’ The Blues. “This particular award is notable because it recognizes our favorite phase: cross country.”

This year’s season finished at the Nov. 15-17 horse trials at Fresno County Horse Park, where riders navigated the new and improved course set on rolling terrain. Earning the second place award for LEGIS Optimum Time and also for the Open Training division was Frankie Thieriot aboard Caddilac FS Z (Robyn Fisher-Nash, owner and trainer), finishing on their dressage score of 25.9 and with a time of 5:02 on cross country—just four seconds under the optimum time. “I think this award is a great idea because the closer to optimum time you are, especially at the upper levels, the more you save your horse’s legs,” Frankie remarked.

Frankie enjoyed her ride on Caddilac FS Z, a 5-year-old gray Zangersheide. “Robin is a terrific trainer and rider and produces, in my opinion, some of the nicest young horses around,” Frankie shared. “She was kind enough to let me ride a couple of her young horses during the weekend and I had a ton of fun. Cadillac FS Z has tremendous potential.” Frankie was also fifth for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award and fourth overall in the Training division with Vivid (Tessa Robinson, owner).

In the Intro A division, Elizabeth Kerin (David Murdoch, trainer) rode Super Mario (owner, David Murdoch) to second place for LEGIS Optimum Time and fourth overall. They finished their cross country go with a time of 5:16. “It was a surprise for me that I placed second!” Elizabeth stated. “I like the idea of an optimum time award, since meeting the optimum time is one way to measure the quality of a cross country ride. It helps tell you if were going a safe speed, had good control, rode a good track, things like that, instead of just finishing and saying, ‘I survived!’”

It was Elizabeth and Super Mario’s first event together, and she was happy to finish on their dressage score of 43.0. “I was really happy with my ride. I liked all the turns along the cross country course and the chance to school both water complexes,” she explained. “I have to admit I didn’t actually wear a watch. I was mostly focused on the quality of my ride up to the fences. I remember practicing cross country paces for pony club, but that was years ago, so I might have gotten a little lucky to be so close this time.”

Elizabeth has been leasing Mario for about a year and a half. He was shown as a jumper before she started riding him, and she thinks this was his first horse trial. “Mario likes to jump and he loves to gallop out on the trails, but he thinks dressage is hard work!” she said of the New Zealand Thoroughbred.

Along with taking jumping lessons from David Murdoch of Isola Stables in Portola Valley, Elizabeth also trains with Amanda Fisher and takes dressage lessons with Hillary Martin. “It’s a nice set up because the barn has its own cross country course, and students can go to horse trials, or do jumper shows with David, or show dressage with Hillary,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”

In the Novice divisions, Scout Sanders and 90 Shilling were first for the Beginner Novice LEGIS Optimum Time and third overall in Junior Beginner Novice Rider, finishing on their dressage score of 32.9. Kaiti Curry and her Bond Street were first for the Novice LEGIS Optimum Time Award and fifth overall in Senior Novice Rider, finishing on their dressage score of 35.5.

Sheryl North (Gina Economou, trainer) was thrilled to win a LEGISequine Optimum Time Award at the August horse trials at Shepherd Ranch. “As much time, effort and money as we put into getting to a horse show, it’s nice to have as many awards to compete for as possible,” Sheryl commented. “Also, prior to this award, I paid only minimal attention to time on course as my horse’s natural pace usually puts me square in the middle between Beginner Novice speed fault time and optimum time. For me, riding for an optimum time award like I did this time makes me pay more attention to my time on course. I think this will be of great benefit at the next levels.”

It was a great first year for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award, so look for it at horse trials in 2014. The 2014 LEGIS Optimum Time Award season will kick off with the February event at Fresno County Horse Park.

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