It was a great year, but a bizarre one. That’s the way upper level eventer Allison Springer described 2012 after a second place finish on her 17 hand, liver chestnut Irish Thoroughbred gelding Arthur at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event CCI****, the emotional experience of not being selected for the U.S. Olympic team, and then the rider/horse combination demonstrated their resilience by placing sixth at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI****. The Upperville, Va.-based rider who originally hails from Barrington Hills, Ill. spent the winter in Aiken, and hopes to build on her success from last year.
“Rolex was probably my favorite event of the year because my whole spring season was geared toward having my best performance there, and I really got to concentrate on what would be the best result for that horse,” said Springer. “It was just an enjoyable weekend. I just concentrated on a good ride every phase, and it was fantastic. Everything was supposed to peak there and it did.”
However, Burghley was a far different experience for the 38 year old rider.
“My goal was to make the Olympic team, so I spent the whole summer there (England),” said Springer. “Sinead (Halpin), myself and (Will) Faudree stayed on (for Burghley), which was a month later. Burghley as a plan b is daunting. Burghley should be what Rolex in the spring is for me. It’s a much tougher competition than the Olympics. It has a huge, scary course, so I was a little worried going into it, about producing the same result again, especially after the emotion of the summer with the Olympics.”
Springer and Arthur are a formidable combination, and the Thoroughbred has performed consistently at the highest level in recent years, but that hasn’t always been the case, said the rider.
“He’s a tricky horse,” said Springer. “I’m looking forward to the next Olympic cycle. He’s taking a break this spring cycle. He’ll be gearing up for and hopefully doing Pau at the end of the year in preparation for WEG next year.”
Arthur, who’s now 14, has done a number of four-stars, and the objective is to keep the elite athlete healthy and sound for the next Olympic cycle, said Springer.
“We’re going to pick and choose,” said Springer. “I’ve been blessed with how much I’ve been able to compete this horse. I needed to get him to where he would perform consistently. Last year, was just a bizarre year, great in the end, but bizarre.”
Copycat Chloe is a Thoroughbred-Trakehner cross, and the mare foaled in 2002, is a horse the eventer believes has great promise.
“I’m pretty darn excited about her,” said Springer. “She was owned and ridden by a former working student of mine. I know the horse really well, and I like her a lot. She’s not an easy ride. She’s a different ride from Arthur, but they actually have a lot of similarities. I love her jump, and she has great dressage in her.”
Going For Gusto is an off the track Thoroughbred owned by Michael French. The 10-year-old gelding proved durable in his previous career going postward 42 times.
“He’s pretty amazing,” said Springer. “He’s probably been the kindest and easiest ride I’ve had, ever. He’s just a wonderful horse. He tries really hard all the time, which is great. I’m really excited about him. He’s got four-star written all over him as far as his big gallop and scopey jump.”
However, there are a couple of other horses in Springer’s barn that the eventer is currently producing.
“I have a couple of Selle Francais-Thoroughbred crosses owned by a good friend of mine from my hometown of Barrington, Ill., Christy Cressey, and they’re at training level,” said Springer. “I’m really excited about them. I’ll see if they have what it takes to be a horse for me. or a team sort of horse, or whatever they choose to be in life. I really try to listen to my horses amd make the best decisions to help them be successful.”
The 2008 United States Eventing Association Reserve Champion Horse of the Year, Destination Known, a 15-year-old gray Thoroughbred gelding, is being leased by Springer to her good friend and student Gabby Ledger, who will be going preliminary this weekend at the Southern Pine Horse Trials in Raeford, N.C.
“He looks fantastic,” said Springer. “I love that horse. He’s like a frat boy. I know I have to find that perfect home, but it’s worked out so well to be able to just have him in my barn, and to have someone lease him that I love, that rides him well. He certainly has more personality than any horse on the planet. He’s a ham. He’s been so much fun, and everyone wants to lease him. I don’t want to send him away and lease him. He’s wonderful.”
The horseman loves Thoroughbreds, and is always loooking for the next horse, more sponsors, and people who might be able to provide financial support with some of the horses.
“I need to complete the syndicate on Chloe,” said Springer. “That’s so exciting. If anyone has a fabulous Thoroughbred, I’m all about that.”
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