By KATIE BROWN
The Daily Inter Lake
Kalispell resident Kim Liddell was still breathless and beaming even though it was more than an hour since her cross-country ride on Saturday.
Her gray poodle, Scout, followed closely behind as she strode toward the stable.
She and horse Eye of the Storm, or Ollie, stand in fifth place in the CCI4*-L division after two days at The Event at Rebecca Farm.
“I had a really, really good cross-country just now, and I had a really, really good dressage yesterday (Friday),” Liddell said as she watched Ollie nibble grass outside the stabling area with groom Lucy Beard, also of Kalispell. “I’m a very happy girl. I have a really good horse and good help.”
Liddell purchased Ollie for $1 from a friend, who rescued him from the track at Golden Gate Fields in San Francisco, California, as a 3-year old.
“He’s a really sweet, sweet horse,” she said.
Ollie, a 16.2 hand Thoroughbred, is 10 now. His show name, Eye of the Storm, describes the easygoing bay gelding perfectly, according to Liddell.
“The reason his name is Eye of the Storm is the center of the storm is the calm,” Liddell said. “He’s just really easy to be around. Some horses aren’t so good in stalls and stuff and he’s just easy. He’s just a good boy. Everything he does is enjoyable to be around. I’ll never sell him.”
Liddell has lived in Kalispell for 35 years since relocating from California. Montana winters make it difficult to train at a high level, so Liddell spends the colder season in Ocala, Florida. She will be in the Valley until September.
She remembers the old days of the Herron Park Horse Trials and even the first year of The Event at Rebecca Farm 18 years ago.
“It was really fun, quaint and small, really fun,” Liddell said of Herron Park.
On The Event: “I can’t visualize what it looked like back then,” Liddell said, gazing out toward the green fields of the cross-country course. “There was one stadium ring. It was dirt. It was totally different.”
Beard has known Liddell for many years, and ridden with her back as far the Herron Park days. She’s groomed for Liddell for six or seven years and helps her during the winter.
Grooms typically handle day-to-day care of horses, including feeding, watering, stall-mucking and tacking the horse up to be ridden.
“I live in Florida now,” Beard said. “I just like to come back for this event but I’ve been helping with this horse for several years. I like him a lot.”
Liddell is shooting for two more events this year, Fair Hill International in Maryland and the Morven Park Horse Trials in Virginia.
She also recently rescued a horse from a kill pen in Louisiana.
“He’s a little chestnut and just so precious,” she said.
Both horses are stabled on Liddell’s property in Kalispell.
“I really like to just have two (horses),” she said,
Liddell’s final event is show-jumping today at 3:50 p.m.
“I love this horse (Ollie) more than anything, but he’s not the best showjumper, so if he has rails I’ll still love him,” she said with a chuckle.