~ with files from Nation Media

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) at the Maryland International CCI4*-S, held July 5-7 in Adamstown.

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.”

Also in the CCI4*-S, fellow Canadian Jessica Phoenix made the podium in third place riding Sara Irving’s Aeronautics; she was also third in the CCI3*-S with Obeah Dancer GS.

Mégane Sauve and Nuance win Young Rider CCI3*

After a competitive day of cross-country on Saturday, the riders tackled Chris Barnard’s show jumping course on Sunday. Winners took their turns on a podium in an award ceremony full of pomp and circumstance to top off a weekend of firsts for these young eventers. In the CCI3* division, Canada’s Mégane Sauve and her own Nuance brought home the blue ribbon with a score of 46.9. Lizzie Hoff and HSH Limited Edition finished in second place with a score of 50.4. Caitlin O’Rourke rounded out the top three slots with What the Devil, finishing on a score of 66.7.

A young woman sitting on a bay horse in an awards ceremony.

Mégane Sauve and Nuance. (Veronica Green-Gott photo)

With only four FEI competitions under her belt, the Maryland International was Mégane Sauve’s first time competing at the CCI3* level. “It’s our first CCI3*-S and it was big on cross country. I really pushed for it, and she just came out and gave me all she had,” Sauve said. “And then this morning, she saved my butt couple times, and she was like, ‘I got you Mom, we’re going for it.’ I gave her a better ride after that.”

Sauve has been competing the 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare for the last six years, making this win not only her first CCI3*-S, her first win at the FEI level, and an all-around sentimental moment. “I’m just really proud of her. She’s like my best friend. She’s been my best friend for six years. It’s just really fun to get out here and work with her and have good results and see the work pay off.”

The USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships are designed to introduce North America’s up-and-coming riders to both upper level competitions and what it’s like to be a professional eventer. As such, the event follows the same format as a top championship event, complete with an opening ceremony, jog, and award ceremony. Riders were also introduced to the team format of competition.

“This is my third time at the Young Rider Championships, but I make new friends every time, and it’s always so fun to be on the team and to be supporting my friends and getting to watch them,” Sauve said. “We were all talking earlier about how so much of Young Riders is about the experience and not so much the results— it’s not the end all, be all. It’s so good to get the experience and hopefully use it for the future.”

In the CCI2*-S division, Audrey Ogan took first place with her own Always Cooley. Canada’s Chelsea Lowe took second with Donna Pledge’s Fernhill Malito Park and was followed closely by Canada’s Saffron Klotz with her own Ballingowan Clarity.

This is second-place winner Chelsea Lowe’s second time at the Young Rider Championships. While she started the day with a healthy dose of pre-competition nerves, she pulled off a double clear show jumping to stay just 0.1 points ahead of third place. “[Fernhill Malito Park] was a really good boy, he tries for me all the time. I’m so very thankful to ride a horse like him, who just keeps trying and keeps giving his all at every show,” Lowe said.

Results here.