by Katherine O. Rizzo (first published in the December 2021 Equiery)
Just last month, Lucy Tidd, DVM, of Poolesville and her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ellert HB headed to Kentucky for the U.S. Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan. This year, the pair competed at the Grand Prix level and came home with championship honors for their Adult Amateur Grand Prix Freestyle class. Tidd and Ellert are no strangers to the national finals and their road to Kentucky has been bumpy but rewarding.
Tidd first sat on a horse when she was 10 years old and as a junior mainly rode in the hunter ring. Her parents owned a lesson and boarding facility in upstate New York where Tidd expanded her equestrian resume to include some eventing and “a bit of everything really,” she said. Tidd even played polo as an undergrad at Cornell University.
Over time, however, it was dressage that piqued her interests. “I love how methodical it is in moving up the levels. You have to do your homework and take things one step at a time to progress,” Tidd explained. The process of learning each movement in this progressive way challenged Tidd and her horses in rewarding ways.
“I’ve never had made horses and always had to train my own horses so we learned together,” she said. This togetherness also has created more than one championship horse for Tidd, as many Equiery readers will recall previous stories about Tidd’s successes with the Morgan stallion GKB Coal Magic.
Tidd began riding GKB Coal Magic in 2003 when he was owned by Maryland breeder Joanna Kelly of Blue White Morgans. Tidd purchased the young stallion when he was six years old, and he became the base of her own breeding program out of Locks Edge Farm in Poolesville. Tidd competed GKB Coal Magic in dressage up through the Prix St. Georges level and won several breed and open titles at the regional, national and international levels. “We just missed out on getting to Grand Prix as he got an injury and had to be retired from competitions,” Tidd explained.
Tidd did not achieve her goal of competing at the highest levels of the sport until just two years ago, with another young horse Tidd developed.
The Dutch Horse
Tidd was on the hunt for a quality young horse nine years ago when she selected a three-year-old Dutch Warmblood from Holland. Ellert HB had just begun his under saddle training before he arrived in the U.S., and Tidd described his early training as, “a bit of a bumpy process.”
He was skittish at first and would shake even when someone would just reach out to pet him. “I’m not sure what happened to him when he was younger but it took a while to get through to him,” she said, adding that she came off him a few times in that first year of training. Once Ellert HB began to trust Tidd, his inner talent began to shine.
At just four years old, Ellert HB won the Training Level and First Level Adult Amateur titles at the very first U.S. Dressage Finals back in 2013. “He is super athletic and talented with big gaits,” she said. “Most of the work [in the tests] is fairly easy for him.”
Tidd methodically moved Ellert HB up the levels and in 2019 the pair made their Grand Prix debut. “He’s my first Grand Prix horse so the whole thing is new for both of us,” she said. Tidd did not compete him at Grand Prix at the national finals until this year because she wanted to wait until he was more confirmed at the level.
The wait paid off. They won the 2021 Grand Prix Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship this year. “He was very good for our regular [Grand Prix] test on the first day. We had a few mistakes but he did well and we finished fifth,” she said. “But then in the musical, he just really stepped it up. He really enjoys the freestyle and having the music helps him. Plus we can tailor the test to his strengths.”
Tidd added that at one point in the test she got off her music but that “it was my fault, not his” and they received an error penalty. Even with the error however, the pair scored a 70% to win the championship. “I love competing in that Kentucky arena. It is the biggest venue we go to all year. It’s just special.”
A Winning Team
Tidd believes strongly that her personal success would not be there without the help of the team of people who support her and her horses. “We have so many great people at Locks Edge,” she said. One of these people is head trainer Siobhan Byrne, who joined the Locks Edge team almost four years ago.
Byrne is a graduate of the young horse program conducted by Harmony Sporthorses and Hassler Dressage. She has been training and riding in Maryland since 2007, and Tidd says, “She is a very good instructor who has a positive and effective way of working with horses and people.” Tidd added, “It is inspiring to see her teach other people to move up the levels too.”
Tidd feels very fortunate to have been able to build Locks Edge and surround herself with fellow dressage enthusiasts. She moved to Maryland after graduating from Cornell University’s veterinary school. “My ex-husband was an equine vet who was done with the New York winters and wanted to move south,” she explained. “And I had already decided to be a small animal vet and ended up getting a job with a Germantown practice.” Tidd now owns that practice, as well as a second small animal practice in Urbana.
She built Locks Edge specifically with dressage riders in mind and it has grown into its own family of riders, trainers and horses. “It really is fun because we have a very supportive group of riders at all levels,” she said. Tidd also explained that because her day job as a veterinarian and owner of two practices means she is never in one place for very long, having a farm full of people to help allows her to be able to pursue her dressage dreams.
These dreams now include competing at the top of the sport internationally as well as nationally. “This horse has the talent to be an international horse,” she said. “We just need to keep working on consistency and being able to show what he can do at home when he’s in the competition ring.”
Tidd plans to head down to Florida this winter to get ready to compete Ellert HB in the spring FEI-rated dressage competitions as well as continue to bring some young horses along.