timberland backpack ‘Stars were in alignment’
Kingston’s Selena O’Hanlon, riding Foxwood High, has become the first Canadian to win the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI 3 title, an elite three day eventing horse show in Elkton, Md.
O’Hanlon, who is a rider and a teaching instructor at Balsam Hall, a 100 acre facility at the end of Gore Road in east Kingston, became the first Canadian in the 28 year history of Fair Hill to win the top international rider award. O’Hanlon is only the second non American to ever win at Fair Hill, one of the most renowned international three day events in the world.
“The stars were in alignment. It was personal bests all the way through,” O’Hanlon stated in an email interview Tuesday from Buenos Aires in Argentina, where she is attending an international teaching and riding event.
“We’ve been working hard and slowly climbing the leaderboard at each of the shows this year.”
The 36 year old O’Hanlon said “it feels exhilarating” to come out on top in what was her biggest victory outside of Canada.
O’Hanlon collected two additional trophies at Fair Hill: the Linda Moore Trophy for highest placed foreign entry and the Beale Wright Morris Memorial Trophy for the leading lady among CCI 3 competitors.
“Very cool to win those. This was definitely our most competitive dressage score and felt it,” O’Hanlon said.
O’Hanlon and Foxwood High were in the lead after the dressage phase with their personal best score of 39.4 points. A time penalty on the cross country stage caused them to slip back to second. O’Hanlon and Foxwood High, known as “Woody” by his handlers, were clean in the jumping phase with no rails down, clinching the victory.
O’Hanlon joins some very select company by winning at Fair Hill. Gina Miles, the 2008 silver medallist at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, won in 2006 at Fair Hill. Karen O’Connor, David O’Connor,
Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Bruce Davidson are other riders who have won at Fair Hill and also competed at the Olympics.
O’Hanlon believes the sky is the limit for her and Foxwood High, a 14 year old gelding owned by John and Judy Rumble of Blenheim, Ont.
“I’ve loved Woody right from the start,” O’Hanlon told Horse Canada. “He’s all heart and has the biggest fan club of any horse I’ve ever met. People from all over the world write, call and want to visit Woody. What’s not to love? He’s tall, dark and handsome, tries his guts out and is sweet and easy as pie to work with.”
Foxwood High made his international debut with O’Hanlon in the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the Canadian team took a silver medal. O’Hanlon and Foxwood High were 23rd in the individual competition.
O’Hanlon was on Foxwood High again in 2014 at the World Equestrian Championships in Normandy, France. They helped the Canadian team finish sixth and qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
O’Hanlon and Foxwood High were within days of departing for Brazil last July when word came that the pair had been bumped off the Canadian team. O’Hanlon said she has moved on from that setback.
“After last year’s tremendous disappointment, I will be sticking to the program that the Rumbles and I feel suits us best,” O’Hanlon said.
“We’re enjoying the process and the journey. If the team picks Wood, great. If not, that’s fine, too, because we’ll be doing what we love.”
Foxwood High has earned a rest now and will return to training when O’Hanlon goes to Ocala, Fla.,
for the winter. O’Hanlon said she will be at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto next month doing indoor eventing on a different horse.