World-class combined driving is center stage this week at Live Oak International, taking place March 18-22 in Ocala, Florida. Lisa Lach brings us a report from the second day of competition.
What a day of competition at Live Oak in Ocala! The driven dressage continued with Intermediate divisions, and it was once again an impressive display of driving. It was especially cool to see Ellen Epstein’s test in the Intermediate Single Horse division, where she scored a 39.23 and became the only driver other than Chester Weber to break 40.
It was also fun to see Max Montoya in the Intermediate Pair Horse division, which he won last year. His pair of black-and-white pinto horses are so flashy! He scored a 51.71 to sit in first place in the division going into marathon tomorrow.
In the afternoon, the showjumpers took to the ring for the 1.35m Power & Speed and the 1.40m Welcome Stake. (Confession time: This was my first opportunity to see this level of jumping in person and it was so awesome.)
The Latin American riders were really burning up the courses, and Venezuela’s Angel Karolyi won the 1.35m on Angel, followed closely by Cian O’Connor of Ireland aboard Chandon Blue. The two flipped positions in the 1.40m, with O’Connor taking first on Quidam’s Cherie, and Karolyi in second with Venus.
There were a number of big-name U.S. riders there, as well, and the answer is yes — I was totally starstruck. Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut both put in nice rounds without pushing for the speed required to get on the podium. Jessica Springsteen also put in a slow round but left all the rails up. It seems that they’re preparing for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, which is also the last chance for riders to qualify for the FEI World Cup.
Photo gallery — click any image to view full-size:
It’s pretty amazing to be in the presence of such great riders and horses. The bleachers are quite small and very close to the arena, so you feel like you’re practically in the arena. With such beautiful facilities, and excellent riders and drivers, Live Oak really is a world-class event.
Up next: Day 3, with marathon for the drivers (which is similar to cross-country day in eventing), and the $50,000 CSI 2*-W Live Oak International Grand Prix. A.K.A. The most exciting day yet!
Go Combined Driving!
In addition to updates here on Horse Nation, look for posts from Lisa on the Driving Radio Show Facebook page. Dr. Wendy Ying and Glenn the Geek, hosts of the Driving Radio Show, will be commentating on the USEF Network live feed on Marathon Day Saturday and Cones on Sunday.
Lisa Lach has been riding for 17 years in a variety of disciplines. She currently rides at Lakefield Farm in Grafton, WI, where she competes in the hunter ring and rides anything she can get her hands on. In her free time, she works at her small equine industry marketing business, Top Line Marketing, and blogs at Centered in the Saddle.