Australia’s Kelly Layne Posts Her Highest Big Tour Score in 3 Years With Samhitas in Wellington CDI3* Freestyle

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Kelly Layne and Samhitas in Wellington’s Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2020

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 22, 2020–Kelly Layne posted her highest Big Tour score in three years when the Australian rode Samhitas in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night.

Kelly, based in Wellington, and the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding scored 72.625% for second place behind Japan’s Kiichi Harada on Egistar in the centerpiece international arena where the weather had turned unseasonably cold and windy. In the Grand Prix Thursday, the placed third on 66.109%.

The result was the highest for Kelly since logging 72.935% on Udon P in a musical performance on the Florida winter circuit in April 2017.

She took over competing Samhitas last year from America’s Endel Ots who had taken the horse to the World Young Horse Championships as a six-year-old but since then the only other international competition was a CDI2*at Small Tour in 2016.

The first CDI for Kelly and Samhitas was last fall and before this weekend had four starts at Global last month.

She recently began working with U.S. Olympian Steffen Peters who is in Florida with Suppenkasper seeking to go to his fifth Games.

“I have followed Samhitas for the last five years and was very excited when we had the opportunity to purchase him,” Kelly said. “The first time I sat on him I felt a good connection. I like sensitive horses and I know you need to handle them just right. He had very little competition experience when I got him but I decided with my experience and his talent that we should pursue the Grand Prix.

“After a very tense start in January I asked Steffen if he would help me with Samhitas. I had worked with Steffen during his many private clinics in Florida over the years.

“With Steffen’s help we improved our scores by 5% after only a few lessons. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to work with him this season.”

She described herself as “super happy” with the performance in the Freestyle Friday night, only his second time in the big atmosphere but “with me all the way.”

“As we get to know each other better I am getting braver about asking the harder questions in the competition arena,” she said. “This takes time. To ride Samhitas is like floating on air and it is effortless for him. The piaffe and the changes need to be more secure but I don’t think we are far away from putting it all together.”