Lauren describes her handsome partner as a “total dude”

in the barn. “He’s very chill and very appreciative of all the amenities of civilized life, probably because he was pretty feral until he was seven and lived in the field with his best friend Ronald. To ride and train, he’s a totally different beast: long story short he’s fairly untrainable, he can be quite pony- ish, but he’s incredibly smart and I learned to ask him, not tell him. I think that’s something that just works for us since I’ve had him from the start. I’m not sure what kind of horse he would be if our partnership hadn’t started from the very beginning. He’s actually been very suspicious and would defi- nitely be a conspiracy theorist if he was a human.” “I’ve always believed in him because he’s got that gritty

mentality, especially cross country, and he’s an amazing athlete. It’s just been the slow progression of building expe- rience and tools. Dressage has always been mentally his

Marilyn Little (Frederick, MD) and RF Scandalous, a 13-year- old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia/Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders.

The WEG will not be Marilyn’s first team experience: she won team and individual gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 riding RF Scandalous. However the WEG will be the pair’s first global championship. Marilyn imported her mare, bred by Horst Bührmann

in Germany, in August of 2014. Nicknamed “Kitty” for her cat-like qualities, she had competed more than 25 times in Germany but was still green at the upper levels. The pair has made a quick ascent to the top of the sport, especially domi- nating the dressage and show jumping phases. At the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, the

pair took the lead after dressage but added eight time faults on cross country to finish third overall with a clear show jumping round, cementing their place on the WEG team. Marilyn has competed extensively in Grand Prix show jumping and her skill over big, technical courses is certainly an asset to the team. In the run-up to the WEG she won the $132,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* riding Karen O’Connor’s Clearwater, giving herself mileage in the stadium at the WEG venue. “There is no greater honor for an athlete than being

named to a team to represent your country,” Marilyn says. “In horse sports, the incredible amount of support and commit- ment from the owners, sponsors, trainers and the group of people around each horse and rider that have the privilege of carrying their country’s flag on their saddle pad is truly stag- gering to comprehend, though perhaps appropriate given the size of such a dream!” “I am very fortunate Kitty has been a partner for a very

long time, and that we know each other very well,” she continues. “She is perhaps the most intelligent horse I have ever worked with—a real character—and is a truly fierce competitor who has a wonderful sense of ‘the moment.’ These are invaluable qualities in a championship horse,

18 September/October 2018

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous at the Land Rover Kentucky 4* where the pair were in first place after dressage, ending in third place overall.

because you can count on them to give you their best when it counts.” “Kitty is that partner for me, but she is also a real friend with whom I have spent years developing the trusting rela- tionship that has been our foundation for success. When she arrived to my stable, she was a bit of a lone wolf—only look- ing out for herself, skeptical, slightly neurotic and incredibly opinionated! She is still extremely opinionated—and often- times notoriously difficult if your agenda doesn’t match hers, but luckily my program made sense to her and gave her confidence to overcome the fears that led some (including Kitty herself at times) to believe she was unlikely to make it as a high performance eventer. After a short time, positive expe- riences became like-mindedness, and from that grew a trust- ing partnership.” Marilyn says one of the greatest challenges leading up to

the Kentucky four-star was preparing for the event from their winter base in Wellington, Florida, where there are no hills.

weakest phase; I’m just getting him to a place in his training and strength to where he can enjoy it. He’s always loved the challenge of jumping,” she continues. “I think it’s a benefit to all of us that the [WEG selection]

list was put out so far in advance because now we can focus on our horses peaking at the right moment and not trying to prove ourselves. The key is to peak at the right time and not burn out too soon, and also not to change our programs in the lead up. Horses and athletes thrive on routine and the worst thing you can do is throw everything out the window for a championship.” “The great thing for our country is that it was an incred- ibly close fight for the team, and I don’t envy the selectors at all. Everyone on the alternate list is not only ready to step up as a team member but also to be competitive on their own on the WEG stage,” Lauren concludes. v

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