“The course was difficult and a lot of the growing pains I have had with this horse have come from trying to do too much,” Nick said. “He is so brave and careful that he really prefers it when the rider stays out of his way and doesn’t try to help him. I decided to just let him jump around how he was most comfortable today and clearly it paid off.”
None of it would have been possible had Nick’s head not been turned by the Oldenburg gelding, while horse shopping in Switzerland.
“I was trying horses in Switzerland and, when I was trying a different horse, saw him in the barn,” said Nick. “I was told he wasn’t for sale, but I asked for a price anyway, and after several days of communicating I was able to try him. I took him off property when I went to try him the second time, and he just came alive. Between that experience, and his show record, I was sold. I had a good feeling about him, and he was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
A large field of 70 horse and rider combinations took on the first-round challenge of Canadian Michel Vaillancourt’s course design. Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Volnay Du Boisdeville produced the first clear effort on Saint Patrick’s Day, which saw a contest featuring 17 different nations come down to three Irishmen, three Americans, Beat Mändli as the lone representative for Switzerland, and Ben Maher as the sole contender for Great Britain in the jump-off.
Nick with The Berry Group LLC’s Cornet’s Cambridge (Balou Du Reventon x Cambridge 8) finished at 37.87 seconds – two seconds ahead of the closest challenger.
“He is not the type of horse that would ever catch your eye in a smaller class, but he is extremely intelligent and he knows when to kick it into gear,” said Nick. “He’s naturally very careful so he makes it easy to get ahead of yourself. I have taken it slow with him since coming to Florida and wanted to build him up.”
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