Photo by Abby Powell

Valerie Pride at the MARS Bromont CCI – June, 2022

Eventing Nation (published June 11, 2022)

Overnight leaders Sara Kozumplik took a tumble from Rubens d’Ysieux — the result, Sara wrote later on, of trying to add an additional stride and prompting Rubens to slide down onto his hocks to pat the ground. “Hindsight is 20/20 but I should have just kept going in four,” she wrote.

In fact, just one of the original top five after dressage finished, leaving Valerie Pride and Favian (French Kiss – Risiko, by Relevant) to sit atop the board with 19.2 time penalties collected. In total, five pairs opted to retire after trouble and two parted ways. No injuries to horses or riders have been reported at the time of publication.

Valerie jokes that the front half of the season has been “warm-up” for the fall. Come August, she’s planning to fly to England with Favian to base with William Fox-Pitt, do a little judging to get the skinny on just why the heck the Brits are so good, and prepare for the prestigious Blenheim CCI4*-L in mid-September (the same week as eventing at World Championships, incidentally).

“This was maybe the universe’s way of telling me that I need to buy some different studs and get ready,” Valerie said this afternoon. “I think Favian just really showed our partnership. You warm up on footing. And you don’t really have an idea until you’re going down to the first jump, and then you realize what the conditions are. And he just he felt great. He dug in so deep.”

Asked about the trouble for many riders, Valerie noted that this would have been a vastly different question than Kentucky, where the going was fast. The testing conditions got the best of multiple riders, but the preparation from the grounds crew and organizer Sue Ockendon was commended by many for its horses-first motivation. “To move those chevrons at our last water [the crew moved the C element prior to the start of competition] you can’t use a machine for that, it was so wet. So thank you to literally every man and woman who picked that thing up and moved it so that our horses could have better grounds. That does not go unnoticed.”

Ultimately, this run gives Valerie a fresh boost of confidence as her early August departure races closer. “I love him. He owes me nothing. But he’s such a cross country horse. And I’m really glad that he had kind of a moment to shine because there was no wavering, it was just go and get it done. And I’m sure it’s going to be hard to show jump tomorrow after the effort that they put in today, but that’s why you come here, to test those skills and figure out what you need to work on at home.”