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Awesome Dressage for Allison Springer at The Fork CIC***-W
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Allison Springer and Arthur
Showing off what she learned over a winter of intensive training, Allison Springer is well ahead of the pack in the CIC***-W at The Fork in Norwood, NC with an impressive 38.4 after dressage. Mara Dean and High Patriot are second (43.10) followed by Kim Severson on Tipperary Liadhan (46.20).

Springer has been training hard all winter, first with JJ Tate and Anne Kursinksi on the jumper circuit in Wellington, Florida and then with Phillip Dutton in Aiken, South Carolina. As a member of the USEF Winter Training list she also attended team training sessions with Capt. Mark Phillips and show jumper Laura Kraut.  Though he had a little room for improvement, Arthur looked balanced, forward and rhythmical through most of his test.

"The training sessions have gone really well," she said. "Mark has been incredible with Arthur. Arthur is a spooky sort of horse; he's very good on the flat, supple and well schooled but still nervous." Springer is a perfectionist, still looking for ways to make the test better. "Today our score was really good but he was still nervous in the arena. He broke at the trot, and I couldn't really go for the extended canter."
Boyd Martin and Ying Yang Yo
Though she was pleased with Arthur's score, and even felt that it was on the generous side, Springer was disappointed with the judges' estimation of her other CIC-3* entry, Destination Known, who received a 70.9. "The test was not perfect but there was a lot of stuff that was very good that should have offset the bad marks," she said. "They should score every movement separately. At Red Hills he blew up in the ring and still scored 68. Today they said he was uneven, but I trotted him after the test and the stewards said he is totally sound. It kind of overshadows Arthur's good score."

Springer is also riding two young horses in preliminary: Tiamo, 7, owned by Katie Saunders and A Jack of Hearts, 7, owned by Eric and Sheryl Williams of Rubicon Farm. Both horses are by the sire A Fine Romance, which Springer said she likes. A Jack of Hearts is a new ride for her and Springer said she is excited about him. "We bought him at the end of last year and his flat work is still in the making but he's an exceptional jumper."

It seems that Boyd Martin has been taking some pointers from his dressage trainer wife Silva: in the advanced division he and his proven partner Ying Yang Yo took the early lead on 27.9 penalties. Bonnie Mosser and Merloch are close behind (28.3) tied with Michael Pollard on Kate Luce's handsome big gelding Tia Lusso. Martin is also seventh in the three-star riding his less experienced partner, Neville Bardos (50.0).

The competition, which also includes divisions of intermediate and preliminary, continues tomorrow with the second half of the dressage competition. It's a talented lineup, so the standings are likely to change. The already cold and drizzly weather is only supposed to get worse, so the competition will not only test the style but the toughness of the remaining competitors. Then on Saturday the fun really begins when riders tackle Mark Phillips' challenging cross-country track.  

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