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Penny Rowland in Winning Form at Pine Top
Thomson, GA, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Penny Rowland and Windswept
Canadian Pan-Ams contender Penny Rowland gave selectors something to think about when she won two divisions of Advanced at Pine Top Horse Trials, March 3-4 in Thomson, Georgia. Windswept, her Pan-Am hopeful owned by Don J. Good, won the Advanced, FEI test, (45.4) and Roundabout, also owned by Good, won Advanced, divison 2, (38.3). With Eric, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Usha Knabe, she placed second by a slim margin in the Advanced Intermediate (46.1).

Rowland, of Orangeville, Ontario is no stranger to international competition: she broke onto the Canadian eventing scene in 1998 when she enjoyed top ten placings at both the CCI** Bromont International with Aberdare and the CCI** Balvanera Three Day Event in Mexico riding Strike A Pose. She and Aberdare represented Canada at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, and were members of the Silver Medal Team at the 2003 Pan American Championships.

With Windswept, a 12-year-old  Connemara-Thoroughbred cross, Rowland enjoyed top twenty finishes in both the 2004 and 2005 CCI*** Fair Hill International, qualifying them for the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Since the gelding has already completed six three-stars, Rowland will bypass the spring three-days with him in favor of horse trials, already claiming the advanced division at Rocking Horse near Ocala, Florida.

At Pine Top Windswept galloped around in perfect form even though it was only his second outing of the year. They led from the start, with a dressage score of 34.6, and despite cross-country time faults held the lead since everyone else had time, too. Rowland was especially pleased with Windswepts' show jumping, which she said has been her weakest phase, so she has been working extra hard over the winter to get it right. She has even competed in jumper shows in Ocala, which she said has been a lot of fun and helped her riding too.

"Windy just come out this year 'on' - he's on a mission," she said. "I think he gets bored easily so I've just been trying to keep things fun for him, and actually doing less training than usual."

Rowland has been attending training sessions with Canadian team technical advisor David O'Connor by traveling to Ocala, Florida for two-week sessions, then flying home to run her small animal veterinary practice for week-long segments. Her groom, Lisa Tripp, keeps the horses going while she's away. "I have a very loyal group of clients," she said of her vet practice, also noting, "I could not do this without the help of people at home and in Florida. It's a lot of work and a team effort. Don and Usha are both amazing supporters of Canadian eventing."

Roundabout was also in good form at Pine Top. The Canadian Sport Horse, discovered by owner Don J. Good pulling a Mennonite cart, is not the easiest ride in the barn. He is strong and fast, but he is a good jumper and when Rowland lets him go for it, they are strong contenders. Roundabout had the fastest time of the day at Pine Top, adding only 0.8 penalties to his dressage score.

The least experienced of the superstar trio, Eric just moved up to Advanced level last year, so he still needs a two-star before he can compete at the three-star level. Rowland plans to run all three horses in the Advanced at Poplar Place in Columbus, Georgia next weekend and then Windswept and Roundabout will compete in the CIC-W*** at The Fork (NC) while Eric goes to the two-star in Ocala.

Since Rolex, Kentucky and Jersey Fresh are both qualifiers for the Pan-Am Games, Rowland will not know for a couple of months if selectors will choose her and "Windy" for the team. "It's always fun to be on a team," she said. "I was on the Pan-Am team before and we won the silver medal, and the WEG team before that, and it's interesting. Since I've had some experience, I could help out the younger ones." Meanwhile she plans to keep her training on track and her horses sound and fit.

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