Just back from international competition at the Luhmuhlen CCI four-star in Germany, Phillip Dutton was admittedly pleased and impressed with Icabad Crane’s progress over the past few weeks.
New to Icabad Crane’s training was the introduction of apex, or corner, fences much like those he will face going cross country as he progresses from level to level in eventing. And Dutton feels the retired stakes winner is ready to graduate from Novice to Training level when he and the horse pair up next at Fair Hill in August.
“I think he’s ready for it,” Dutton said. “It’s all about keeping him confident and thinking and challenging him. Novice is pretty easy for him, and these will be a little bit bigger jumps those will help in his education.”
Continuing to jump fences that are too simple, Dutton said, does little for horses’ education or their athletic development, nor does it hold their interest. And Icabad Crane has proven to be a quick study, eager to absorb each new lesson.
An accomplished racehorse for owner Earle Mack and trainer Graham Motion, Icabad Crane finished third in the 2008 Preakness behind Big Brown and Macho Again. They became stallions – Big Brown in Kentucky, Macho Again in Venezuela – while Icabad Crane kept racing through age 8 and tackled a new career with Dutton toward the end of 2013. In a few short months, the New York-bred has progressed enough to move up a level and received a compliment from his new trainer.
“I’d actually call him an event horse now,” Dutton said. “Up until this stage, we were in transition, trying to make him an event horse. But these last couple weeks, I feel that he comes out and he knows his job and he’s ready for the next challenge. Before, I was always encouraging him to do it. Now I feel it’s more of a partnership and we’re working together. He’s an up-and-coming event horse now.”
For a look – and some narration by Dutton – of Icabad Crane tackling some apex jumps at the farm in Pennsylvania, check out this video.