September 28, 2022 3 min read
Covington, La. - Sep. 28, 2022 - Gallagher's Water ambassador Valerie Pride, FEI five-star eventer and FEI Level 3 licensed judge, competed for the first time in the CCI4*-L at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials Sept. 15-16 in Oxfordshire, England. Pride made the international trek to England with her 14-year-old Oldenburg Favian (French Kiss x Risiko) from her Harwood, Maryland, home base in early August to begin training for the event under the expert eye of Olympian William Fox-Pitt.
"I'm living the dream with my horse of a lifetime! Pride said. "I've had him [Favian] since he was 6 and to look back on where we have been and what we have become is amazing. It was another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at Blenheim! After an inspirational six weeks of training with William Fox-Pitt, we were as ready as we could ever be and I was so optimistic heading into the competition."
Her first day of competition was in the dressage ring on Friday, and she came out with a score of 33.1. "He was so brilliant in the dressage," she said. "He puffed up and really performed, did everything I asked except walk, which we will have to continue to discuss."
The demanding cross-country obstacles the next day did not phase the experienced pair, and they finished outside the optimal time of 10:37 with a time of 11:11, adding 13.6 time faults to their dressage score.
"He was confused about why, the day after dressage, we were now entering the main arena at 600 miles per minute," Pride said of Favian. "Cross-country had perfect conditions and a lot of questions, some of them well suited for his type and some not so much. He was as very brave and bold and quick and honest when he needed to be - all the makings of a top horse."
Photo by The Jockey Club
Backdropped by the historic Blenheim Palace, the pair returned to the ring for their show jumping round Sunday. With two rails down in the early triple combination, Pride and Favian jumped within the time allowed, earning a total score of 54.7. Pride placed 31 out of over 100 starters.
"It was a very technical course with a very challenging triple early on," Pride said. "We aren't used to jumping on grass and Favian wasn't phased one bit! I got too bold going into the triple and desperately want a redo because he wanted to jump clear. He made the time; I was very proud of my inside turns and controlling his stride and power on the final day. It was like an eternity and a blur all at the same time!"
Pride said that competing at a new venue for the first time is a challenge and makes you realize how you can take things for granted.
"I am so proud, even though, of course, I wish I had a top finish," she said. "Favian and all of his supporters deserve it. After years of watching it and having friends compete there, nothing does justice to being in front of the palace yourself!"
Pride hopes that she and Favian can represent the USA overseas again.
Photo by The Jockey Club
"Thanks to Gallagher's Water, we have conditioned Favian to want to drink!" Pride said. "After cross-country schooling, galloping and competing, we always have it there waiting for him like a treat. He went from a scary non-drinker that gave himself heat stroke to ready to plunge into a bucket as soon as he gets back to his stall or the trailer! I am so thankful for my staff who are so consistent with this and for the creators of Gallagher's Water!"
Gallagher's Water is available to purchase online and in select stores.
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