Tryon, NC:  The Four Leaf Clovers didn’t come home with a whole bunch of ribbons but they were all winners nonetheless!!  Much fun was had, many lessons were learned, and lifelong friendships were made.

 Just in case you’ve forgotten, The “Clovers” are an adult amateur team that competed  at Training Level at the American Eventing Championships (AEC’s) in Tryon, NC on Sept 1-5, 2016….and they are ALL purebred Connemaras!  They are Blue Ridge Breckenridge, owned and ridden by Cynthia Holbrook of  Lewsville, NC, Foothills Field Marshall, owned by Donna Duckworth and ridden by Elliott Blackmon of Ocala, FL, Hideaway's Special Delivery, owned and ridden by Cathy Blackmon, Hillsborough, NC, and Valley Creek Carlin LeBeau, owned and ridden by Carla Jimmerson, Alpharetta, GA.  We predicted they would be famous, and famous they became!!

But first, about the championships….Everything started propitiously.  All dressage scores were within the winning range, with Carla Jimmerson’s the lowest (best) at 28 penalties.  Cynthia Holbrook was not far behind with a 28.6.  Cathy Blackmon had her lowest score ever at a Championship (and she has been to many) with a 30.2, while Elliott Blackmon turned in a respectable 31.6.    Much has been said about the cross country course with many riders swearing they would never show their faces at Tryon again, but every rider had to compete over the same course regardless of its plusses and minuses.  Again, Carla and Carlin performed fabulously,  rocketing around the course with no time or jumping faults.  Bruiser and Elliott received 1.6 time faults, possibly because Bruiser insisted on jumping all the stripes on the galloping course that resulted from underground pipes being laid across the course and covered with dirt.   Cynthia and Breck accumulated 30.4 faults, while Special did not have his best day at all, refusing three times at the water before Cathy retired.  That left the team with only three riders, a severe disadvantage as no scores could be dropped as could happen with a four-man team.   In stadium, Carla and Carlin relinquished a spot in the top ten with two rails down, but still finished overall in 12th place, a great showing!!  Bruiser and Elliott also had two rails while Cynthia and Breck had one rail down leaving them and the team out of the ribbons.  However, a Connemara/TB saved the day for Connemaras as a member of the winning Training level team, the ATC's on ATV's at AEC's,  and earning his rider, Laura Duhamel, a fourth place overall….this was Balmullo’s Patriot (CR Roaringwater Bay X Catch a Dollar [TB]) who Laura shows as Fate’s Patriot.

And the fame?  Well, they didn’t get the ribbons but they got the groom…  the bridegroom (and possibly the horse groom as well). During the awarding of the ribbons for Training Level, Elliott was called back into the ring for a special award.  There she found Eli Timmons on one knee asking her to marry him.  It was the first proposal ever for the AEC’s and the USEA proudly sent a photo of the event out on Facebook…which promptly galloped around the world!    And, of course, Elliott  said yes.

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