Many young riders dream of the day that they will get to ride at the Advanced level but for Bailey Moran, of San Antonio, Texas, that dream is about to become reality this weekend with her amazing mount Loughnatousa Caislean (Leo).
Leo came into Bailey’s life from Loughnatoosa Farms in Ireland as a 5-year-old that had just been broke eight months prior. Bailey says, “He had never evented but had been schooled well. I tried him out in the cross-country field and after I did my first ditch, I told my dad that I had never felt this brave on a horse. That was our shining moment and I thought he could be really cool. He never had a day of dressage training and he didn’t know much but I bought him and he shipped to the USA in late August 2011. I gave him time to settle in and we did our first Novice on Halloween weekend at Holly Hill Horse Trials in Louisiana. He won on a 25. It was a long time before that happened again. But I loved him and he clicked with eventing right off.”
Very rarely, young riders are able to take a young horse from Novice to Advanced in four years. Bailey is one of those exceptional talents and she is very proud of their accomplishments. “I would not want to do it any other way. I would not be comfortable taking a made Advanced horse at that level because I would not know another horse like I know Leo.”
If their Advanced record comes close to their Intermediate record, the USA may have a seriously competitive pair coming up the ranks. Since upgrading to the Intermediate level in January 2014, they have finished 16 competitions, with five wins, six top-three finishes, and only placed out of the top 10 once. With a record like that it is no surprise they won the USEA Intermediate Young Rider of the Year.
After conquering the Intermediate level, they are ready to make the step up to Advanced. To prepare for this weekend Bailey and Leo have completed a couple of Intermediate runs in January where they did very well placing 3rd and 2nd respectively. They also ran the Advanced Combined Test at the Ocala Horse Park last weekend and Bailey was very happy with her dressage test and stadium round. “The jumps were big, but he handled it really well and only had the last one down,” she says. “I have been working on dressage as that changes quite a bit with the Advanced test. I work with Joe Meyer and my boyfriend Nicholas Hansen and he is pretty awesome too as he is a Prix St. George dressage rider. He knows the ropes to get me through Advanced. I will be doing the course walks with Joe.”
After this weekend Bailey will be working to build Leo’s confidence at the Advanced level. She says, “I would like us both to feel brave when we go out of the start box instead of saying ‘oh crap this is really big’. If this weekend goes well he will run the Advanced at Red Hills. Then he will be done until the CCI2* at Ocala that we need for young riders. We are tentatively aiming for the CIC3* at Jersey Fresh. It will all depend on building up his confidence at that level and see how he is going. If everything goes well, I would love to aim for the CCI3* at Fair Hill. But that is so far away right now, I can’t even really think about it.”
Despite all the excitement and anticipation coming over the next couple of days, Bailey wants people to understand that she did not get to this point alone. She says, “I could not be here without all of my family. I have the best support group ever. My parents are in Texas as they could not stay this year as it ends up being too much money. As soon as I get off of the horse, I have 10 texts checking in with me to see how it went. They usually know the score before I do as they follow online. So it literally feels like they are here with me. I have amazing friends They help me tack up and keep me from losing my mind when I am walking courses and trying to remember dressage tests. From now until the weekend is over I just need to remember to eat. I don’t care about the score. I just want to have fun and be relaxed and keep him relaxed.”
Bailey was named to the USEF 2015 Under 25 Riders. The way her career is progressing we can expect to see her on that list again.
Good luck Bailey and Leo. We will keep you posted all weekend on Bailey’s progress.
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