Icabad Crane enjoying spring lessons

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“Phillip wants me to come ride him.”  Anita Motion seemed somewhat taken aback by the invitation.  Icabad Crane’s owner is most certainly a very accomplished horsewoman, but having handed the gelding over to Phillip Dutton – one of Three Day Eventing’s superstars – the thought of hopping on board the horse herself isn’t one that crosses her mind.

Things didn’t start out that way. 

Former owner Earle Mack decided well before the horse’s retirement that he would be sold to Anita for $1.  Initially, she thought he’d be a great project and would give her the opportunity to spend time riding again.  But keeping up with an ever-burgeoning business and the schedules of daughter Jane, 17, and 11-year old son “Chappy” relegated that idea to the back burner. 

Then Anita and husband Graham met and struck up a friendship with Phillip and Evie Dutton.  Phillip is also sponsored by Cosequin, and his training facility in West Grove, Pa. is a convenient drive from Fair Hill.  A plan was hatched to send a few select retired runners to Phillip for evaluation as second-career combined training competitors.  One of the first to go, in fact, was Van Tassel, Icabad Crane’s younger half-brother (by Corinthian).  He didn’t pass muster.  But Icabad Crane showed immediate promise and continues his steady progress, much to the delight of all parties.

He stepped up to Novice level at the Fair Hill Horse Trials May 18, finishing eighth in his division after having a rail down in show jumping. 

“He was foot-perfect in dressage,” Phillip said, “and I was very pleased with him.”

Evie Dutton occasionally rides Icabad Crane as well.  “He’s a gentleman,” she said recently, “but he’s very opinionated.  He likes to think things are his idea.”

That comes as no surprise to anyone at Herringswell Stables, most all of whom can attest that the affable Icabad Crane, always a barn favorite, was a pleasure to be around but also serious about his work.  It’s a trait that is serving him well in his new role.

Icabad Crane and Phillip Dutton’s assistant Waylon Roberts competed at a USEF-recognized event at Waredaca in Laytonsville, Md. June 1 and again placed eighth in the Novice division. With no penalties in either jumping phase, he finished on his dressage score of 31.30.

Roberts was again in the tack for a competition at Seneca Valley Horse Trials in Montgomery Country, Md. June 15. Icabad Crane wound up second in the Novice division with a dressage score of 33.90 and no further penalties.

The 9-year-old New York-bred has two scheduled competitions at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Md. July 12-13 and 18-20 with a return to Fair Hill on deck Aug. 9-10.