Kelly Layne of Australia Rides Samhitas in Wellington CDI3* Freestyle to Career High Score Day After Posting Lifetime Best in Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 26, 2021–Samhitas that rider Kelly Layne says has a trot “just from God” and Steffen Peters describes as “an extension like Totilas,” carried the Australian to victory in the Friday Night Stars under lights in the Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle.
The performance by Kelly Layne and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding earned the duo a score of 76.500% just a day after the rider posted her first Big Tour victory in seven years on a career high Grand Prix score of 71.935%.
On the first Friday night under the lights in the seventh week of the winter-long Global circuit the performance by Kelly and Samhitas was a highlight that judge Michael Osinski of the United States who was on the panel for the back-to-back CDI3* and CDI5* Freestyles said was “very dynamic, very exceptional that could be in the 5* as well.”
Kelly, 45 years old and who has lived in Wellington for the past decade with her American husband, said the ride felt like they were glued together, “I felt like I was floating… I think we were!”
“I think the horse has an exceptionally beautiful trot, just from God,” she said. “It’s nothing that I’ve done to it. My job is to show it off to the best of my ability. The trot half-passes really felt like a highlight, the passage was a highlight.”
Kelly and Samhitas have been together two years after American Endel Ots rode the horse to the U.S. six-year-old title in 2015 and also competing at the World Young Horse Championships before moving up to Small Tour the following year.
“I feel like we’re becoming a combination,” Kelly said. “For sure it takes that long; you can’t do it in less time, to know each other and all your little quirks. He has to understand my strengths and weaknesses as well, and he covers for some of them, that’s for sure.”
The audience was captivated by the performance to the music by Robbie Williams–“a little bit 20-year-old music actually! I loved Robbie Williams when I was in my 20s and 30s–that Gary Patterson put to Kelly’s floor plan.
She was surprised that Steffen Peters showed up to help prepare her for the competition although he had to be ready for his own CDI5* freestyle on Suppenkasper shortly after, which he won.
“Kelly’s an amazing intelligent person,” he told dressage-news.com. “She remembers every single detail. I get to work with her once or twice a week. It is just a blast to train with her. I think Kelly has a great future. To be slightly involved in her training is a big honor.”
He described her ride on Samhitas as “phenomenal,” and that the horse “does an extension like Totilas, and he does half passes like Totilas. The neat thing is Kelly is an extremely intelligent rider who gets it done. And on top of that a really nice person. Aussies seem to be that way.”
Kelly rode Amoucher on the Australian team at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany in 2006 and campaigned Udon P for a place on the 2016 Olympic team.
Before this week, her last Big Tour victory was in a Grand Prix Freestyle on Udon at these same Palm Beach International Equestrian Center grounds in 2014.
Her plans after the Wellington circuit the first week of April is to compete at the CDI in the newly built World Equestrian Center in Ocala, four hours north of Wellington.
She plays down the possibility of selection for Australia’s team at the Tokyo Olympics in July, saying it will be “awesome” if she is invited but will be happy to continue focusing on developing Samhitas and other horses in her barn.