Fergusson Captures a First in Maryland International CCI4*S; Young Rider Championships Hotly Contested on Cross Country Day

Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me. Photo Credit: Erin Gilmore Photography.

Canadian World Championships rider (Tryon – 2018) Lisa Marie Fergusson has collected six FEI wins throughout her career, but it’s been 17 years since she last won at what is now the CCI4*-S level. Victories in any level of competition are hard-earned in the sport of eventing, and Fergusson now adds a seventh win to her belt, this one with her once-in-a-lifetime partner, Honor Me (Brynarian Brenin AP Maldwyn – Dream Contessa, by Royal Chocolate). 

Honor Me may be 18 this year, but you wouldn’t want to remind him of that fact. With over 30 4* completions and 8 seasons of CCI5* competition under his belt, “Tali” is an example of longevity and heart. 

“He was really bred to do nothing,” Fergusson laughed. Honor Me is an unusual combination of Welsh Cob and Thoroughbred, bred by a Pony Club friend of Fergusson’s but not intended to become a top level sport horse. “He is just an example of what heart and adrenaline can do for you.”

At this point in Honor Me’s career, Fergusson is placing zero expectations on what events she takes the horse to or how competitive they are. “I am just letting him tell me what he wants to do,” she said, noting that one of the biggest lessons she has learned from her time with Honor Me is to really listen to your horse and your horse’s body at all times. “Not all horses read the textbooks. And he didn’t read the textbook on anything – training, vet work, anything. You really just have to be in the moment and pay attention as best you can to feel what’s going on and try every day to make it a little better.”

Honor Me has historically turned his nose up at the dressage phase, but this weekend especially his jumping prowess proved its mettle. He and Fergusson steadily climbed the board after starting the weekend in 9th place, and despite a healthy amount of time penalties given the intense heat and the fact that Fergusson chose to let her horse choose his comfortable pace were able to secure the victory on a score of 75.1.

“This weekend when I entered I had no expectations other than to enjoy myself, but he did show that every once in a while the cross country will make or break you,” Fergusson said. “And it was nice to have a horse that’s never been that solid in the dressage but was a strong cross country horse, to see that pay off. Not everyone can afford to buy those big fancy movers and there’s still a place for them in this sport. He teaches you to not take yourself too seriously. Go out and remember that you do this for fun, go out and enjoy the moment and have a sense of humor because it’s not always going to go perfectly. Focus on getting a little bit better and keep chipping away.”

Top Quotes from FEI Division Winners

CCI3*-S: Kim Severson and Cooley Corraghy Diamond (42.1)

“He is a half brother to [Severson’s former 4* horse, Cooley Cross Border]. I saw him a couple years ago as a three year old coming four at the Goresbridge sale. I asked Richard [Sheane of Cooley Farm] to go and look at him and see what he thought. He wasn’t really sure. He was slow to have his technique get going, but after he’d had him a month or so, Richard said ‘ok he gets a ticket.’ So Bill and Ros Johnson own him with me. He’s a very sensitive horse and very introspective. He’s not an out there, go get it horse. You kind of have to let him come to you. He sort of needs time. So his history is just him needing time, but once he got going, off you go and he’s really good. So we’ve just been bringing him along slowly as you do.”

CCI2*-S: Katherine Maroko and Redfield Champion (40.7)

“He’s so talented and smart, it’s just been getting to know him and figuring out what works for him. We moved up to Prelim at Fair Hill and we’ve been working on smoothing things out, but we’re starting to figure each other out and he is so enjoyable and clever. I’ve been working a lot with my coaches, Hannah Sue Hollberg and Matt Hollberg, on having a really established canter [in the show jumping] so even if we get a bad stride or come to it poorly, the horse is still capable of jumping out of that. We’re always working on giving him the best chance to jump no matter how we end up at the jump. I definitely did not expect to finish where we did in such a competitive division, but now with this result I think we’ll aim for the Prelim Championships at AEC.”

CCI1*-S: Valerie Pride and Kiss My Jambo M (33.9)

“It was fun coming to this event and supporting it. It’s amazing what they’ve done at the Maryland International and it was fun because the 1* is still appropriately challenging until he gets a little stronger, so the rest of this season he might do a fall 2*. He’s done a 2*-Long before with his former rider, but it’s kind of about getting him to be my horse and doing 2* in a way that’s going to be a sequential to step up to 3*. I think it’s worth taking the time producing horses. I think I’ve gotten older and wiser and realized you can go and win some 1*s while he’s gaining experience and strength. He’s a really exciting horse for the future.”

Looking to the USEF Young Riders Championship, the scramble team made up of Areas 1, 3 and 7 are currently leading the CCIYRC3*-S after cross country on a team score of 1124.1. All Young Rider divisions will wrap up their competition on Sunday with show jumping. 

CCIYRC3*-S Individual Leader: Megane Suave (CAN) and Nuance (42.9)

“I think when you walked [the cross country track], it could look a bit tricky, and then when you got into it if you were riding positively it worked out great and was still super safe and nice for horses to go around it. Nuance is actually my first horse, so I got her six years ago now. So we’ve done all of our firsts together from the first  pre-Training level to the first Intermediate to now [the first] three-star course, so it’s just so fun to know that she can do it. She still feels like she’s on a mission – she gets out of the start box like ‘okay, Mom, we’re going!’ just like she did when we were going through Training. And I just, I love this little girl and we’re hoping to go maybe Advanced in the next few years and I’m just really proud of our progress together.”

In the 2*-S Young Rider division, a mixed team of Areas 1, 5, and 3 currently hold the lead on collective score of 103.7.

CCIYRC2*-S Individual Leader: Annabelle Sprague and Da Vinci Code (26.4)

“Ontario is a small group of us, but it’s really good to know each other in the past few days and it feels more like a family just coming together and traveling distance. And then this is my first Young Riders and I think the team here in Maryland has done a great job of giving that team atmosphere and making it feel really sophisticated and formal. And I think it’s just like a really good experience for all of us.”

Area 2 leads the CCIYRC1*-S with a team score of 103.6.

CCIYRC1*-S Individual Leader: Berkley Gardner and In Vogue (29.8)

“I got my horse only a few months ago. With my last horse, she was small and I did one-stars with her but we kind of got to the peak of her abilities. So we decided to move on because I’m only going to ride for another year, so we really kind of wanted to get something that I could do what I wanted to get done. She’s so sweet and she’s so amazing. She’s so willing to build a connection with me and I feel like we already have a connection even just a few months so every time I get out and ride her I’m excited to test our connection and so far she’s been just amazing with everything.”

Sunday’s competition will see the National divisions running all three phases, while the Young Riders conclude with show jumping. Competition will get underway at 8:00 a.m. for National dressage and at 9:00 a.m. for Young Riders show jumping, starting with the CCI3*-S division.

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