The 2019 eventing season wrapped up on a positive note for Liz and Ocala Horse Properties’ horse Deniro Z, with an incredible 15th place finish at Burghley last September. The original plan was to give Niro a well deserved break in Ocala before tackling the 2020 eventing season, but then the world went on hold.
With time to recalibrate and strategize with her entire string of horses, Liz took full advantage of her training schedule. The quieter 2020 season meant more time to focus on fitness, flatwork and competition strategy, while aiming for the postponed 2020 Olympics. This past weekend at Great Meadow International in Virginia, Liz and Niro came out swinging in the CCI 4* short, proving that the extra time to train has only made them stronger.
At the end of last year’s eventing season, all of Liz’s horses got a well deserved 2 week break, enjoying 2 weeks of extended turnout at Horsepower Equestrian farm in Ocala, Florida. Once the horses were all back in work, she was busy preparing for the 2020 season, kicking it off in February with two solid performances on both Niro and Cooley Quicksilver (owned by Ocala Horse Properties, LLC and the Monster Partnership – Renee and Joe Lane, Deborah Halliday) at The Wellington Eventing Showcase.
During March, and as the reality of Covid cancelations set in, Liz realized it was time to regroup and take advantage of training at her equestrian property in Marion County, Florida. The blessings of still being able to operate “in the bubble” in Ocala horse country helped Liz focus on each horse’s individual training program, tailored to improving fitness and flatwork. Niro, Monster and Flash Cooley spent much of March and April working on strength and balance, learning to perfect their flying changes in anticipation of a revised competition schedule. Luckily for Marion County equestrians, schooling shows in Ocala were well organized and enforced Covid safety protocols, allowing riders to stay on course with their training goals.
Another advantage of being in the heart of Ocala, Florida’s horse country is the proximity to so many other exemplary horsemen and facilities. Liz and the team at Ocala Horse Properties have enjoyed their friendship and partnership with Renee and Joe Lane, who own Lane’s Mark Farm, an expansive training, layup and conditioning facility in the heart of NW Ocala’s horse country. The Lanes, whose roots are in the thoroughbred racing industry, offers conditioning packages on their AquaTred, which Liz took full advantage of during quarantine. Ask any qualified professional horseman and they will confirm that adding Lane’s Mark Farm’s weekly AquaTred program to their equine athletes training program is a game changer!
Liz and Niro prove that their training time in Ocala during Covid was well executed, as they not only won the CCI 4* Short, but did so by setting an event record, on their 2020 4* debut on a 24.2! After their big win at Great Meadow International, she caught up with members of the press.
“I wasn’t totally sure if I would be able to do it because I knew how fast Will was, and when he had a rail, I thought, well, it’s on, because he’s so fast, and he had an absolutely mega cross-country round,” she told The Chronicle of The Horse. “I was in the warm-up and heard he went inside the time and was like, ‘Right then. Let’s get this done.’ He’s such a wonderful horse. He just tries so hard, and we have such an amazing partnership now.”
As for the remainder of Liz’s horses owned in partnership with Ocala Horse Properties, those results at Great Meadow were also quite impressive. Cooley Quicksilver (The Monster Partnership) finished 12th in the 4*, while Cooley Be Cool (owned by OHP, and The Monster Partnership) nearly stole the 3* division, missing the win on a 32.2 with 2 time faults on XC. Cooley Be Cool, aka Dave, is also Liz’s newest ride and this was his 3* debut! Clearly the extra time spent in Ocala, FL focusing on the horse’s individual training programs will pay dividends heading into the remainder of the paired down 2020 eventing season.
Leading up to the conclusion of this unusual season, Liz and her team are focusing on more hill work and swimming for endurance. She does plan to take Cooley Seeking Fortune, who is also owned by Ocala Horse Properties, to Chatahoochee Hills in Georgia with some of the less seasoned horses.
All eyes are on competing at 3 main international equestrian competitions in the fall; Plantation Field International in September, Galway Downs International in late October and then Tryon for the last big show of 2020 season. Galway Downs will be contingent on arrangements for east coast riders to get USEF grants for transport to California, but both Galway and Tryon will afford the riders the opportunity to ride in the CCI L format – which is paramount leading up to 2021 in Kentucky and an eventual team selection.
Rob and Chris Desino, along with the entire Ocala Horse Properties’ and Monster Group’s cheering section, feel fortunate to be able to be part of such a high caliber eventing team. Liz’s talent, sheer determination and fierce competitiveness make her a leading member of the US Team’s high performance eventing team. After her performance at Great Meadow International, she now sits firmly on the top of the USEA’s leaderboard for all riders in the country. Upon conclusion of the fall circuit, Ocala Horse Properties looks forward to welcoming Liz, Al and their entire group of hardworking staff back to Marion County, Florida. Ocala Horse Properties is hopeful that 2021 will bring continued success for Liz and all members of our greater Ocala eventing community!
Now more than ever is the perfect time to move your horses to sunny Ocala, Florida.
Contact the Team at Ocala Horse Properties and find your dream farm here!