September 26, 2006 -- Kristin Bachman almost met her goal of a clear show jumping round September 24 at the 2006 Wellpride American Eventing Championships (AEC) at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C. But even with one rail down, she and Gryffindor finished on 37.3 penalties, well ahead of Mara Dean on Nicki Henley with 51.60, to win the 2006 Wellpride AEC Advanced division.
"There were some big fences out there," she said. "You had to think about the course and really ride it."
Bachman, 34, relocated from Redmond, Wash., to The Plains, Va., earlier this year to train with Jan Byyny and Mara Dean. Her win validates her choice and proves that she is making progress in her riding. "This obviously means we're going in the right direction and putting it all together," she said.
Young rider Loreen Kay placed third overall and Emma Winter of Newnan, Ga., placed fourth on Mahogany Chief.
In the Open Training division the win came down to a rail, and since the leaders were tied, Susan Wainwright's clear round really put the pressure on Susan Reynolds to leave all the rails in their cups. In the end Reynolds knocked the front rail off an oxer and Wainwright, from Pike Road, Ala., was victorious.
Riding a homebred Irish Sport Horse named Hunter, Wainwright finished on her dressage score of 29.2. A former advanced level competitor, she has taken time off from the upper levels to focus on raising her 16-year-old son with her husband.
"I asked God to just give me peace and let me do my best--now that it's over, I can't stop shaking! I am so overwhelmed," Reynolds said.
The Training Horse division in particular kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. About a third of the division had rails down, and with all the placings separated by fractions of a point, those rails could be expensive. Kelli Temple and Karen Mahaffey found out just how expensive, in fact, when they each had one rail down, altering their placings.
Local trainer Holly Hepp of Southern Pines benefited from the leaders' errors and won the Training Horse division riding her own eight-year-old Thoroughbred, Ladyslipper, a sale project that she purchased a year ago. An unraced Thoroughbred by Mohiba out of a Babamist mare, Ladyslipper had already won three training level events this year.
"She's a quirky mare and I've figured out how to get the best out of her," said Hepp. "Now she has a lot of mileage and is ready to go to a good amateur or young rider."
Hepp also placed second in the Novice Horse division on Icewine, a horse that also placed second in that division last year with Bobby Stevenson in the irons.
In the Training Junior/Young Rider division 15-year-old Brooke Harlow of Concord, Mass., kept her cool as she piloted Fibber Magee around to finish on their dressage score of 32.6. Thirteen-year-old Retsy Holliday, one of the youngest competitors at the Wellpride AEC, finished second, less than two points behind, while Kaitlin Spurlock moved up from sixth to finish third.
Harlow bought the Fibber Magee from Jessica Moore in February, and they have moved up to Preliminary already, which she said gave her a lot of confidence competing at the Training championships.
Harlow's parents flew down today to watch her compete, but didn't tell their daughter that they were at the Horse Park because she gets nervous when they watch her compete. They were there to congratulate her when she walked out of the ring.
"My heart was in my throat watching her, but we wouldn't have missed it for the world," said her mother, Amy Harlow.
Visit the U.S. Eventing Association website for more results.