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Mike Winter Steals the Day at FENCE
Landrum, SC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Selena Pape and Anticipation
Well into the spring season in Area III, Mike Winter (CAN) and Unsteelable, owned by Jim Walker, outperformed a field 13 entries to win on a score of 33.3 with the fastest cross-country round of the day at the FENCE horse trials in Landrum, SC. Donna Miller and Limerick finished second followed by Dana Burke and Social Buck. It was a dramatic division, with three falls in the water jump, but Winter made it look easy as he piloted the big bay gelding around.

Unsteelable is usually ridden by Winter's wife Emma, who is training in England for a while, so Mike took the ride. The pair placed second at Poplar Place last weekend, the horse's first time at Preliminary level, then won at FENCE in his second Prelim run.

"He has a good temperament and is a careful jumper," said Winter. "He's very easy to ride - Emma has done a beautiful job, so it hasn't been work, it's been a pleasure."

Winter also rode Zoe, owned by Robin Bass, in Preliminary and said that he plans to take both Zoe and Unsteelable to a one-star this spring. In the Novice level he rode Steely Dan, owned by Jennifer Neiss, and Riddler, owned by Jill Phelan. Riddler is a PMU horse that Neiss and Emma Winter found on the Internet, and FENCE was his first event.

In the Preliminary/Intermediate division Selena Pape and Anticipation galloped around the cross-country course at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in an early morning fog to claim victory.
Mike Winter and Unsteelable
Pape, 32 of Louisville, Kentucky has competed the 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare for the past three years, up to the intermediate level. "She's sensitive and quirky but brave and honest," she said. "She's a fancy mover - really lovely - and strong cross-country. She's getting better and starting to realize who the boss is, though!"

A dentist by profession and mother of a two-year-old daughter, Pape is expecting her second child this summer and plans to give the ride on Anticipation to a friend to give the mare mileage at intermediate level. Eventually she hopes to move her up to Advanced.

215 horses started in the event at FENCE, from divisions of Beginner Novice to Intermediate/Prelim (in which competitors perform an Intermediate dressage test and stadium course, but jump a Preliminary level cross-country course). Inclement weather was predicted for the weekend but aside from a few light showers on Sunday it was a mild weekend in the Carolina foothills, with many competitors stopping at FENCE on their way from Aiken, SC or Ocala, FL back to northern locations.

Young Rider Brooke Harlow, 15 spent the winter training in Aiken Karen Loranzo and is heading home to Concord, Massachusetts. She and her 15-year-old Irish thoroughbred gelding Fibber Magee won the Young Riders Open Preliminary on a score of 35.

"He was awesome in dressage and show jumping," she said. "We had a 25.8 in dressage so I knew I could afford some time faults on cross-country. It was slippery out there and I was the last prelim competitor on course so I took it slow and had 9.2 time faults. The clay in the woods got slick, but he runs well in the mud."

Harlow, who won the training level championships at last year's Wellpride American Eventing Championships in Raeford, NC plans to run at her first one-star in Virginia in May, and said that this event was part of the plan for preparing for the one-star. It looks like she is ready for the challenge.

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