The action continued Saturday at TIEC, with another round of 2017 American Eventing Championship crowns distributed among deserving athletes. Saturday saw the coronation of Novice and Prelim Horse divisions, with Beginner Novice, Intermediate and Advanced divisions competition to continue on Sunday.
Once again we have the hardworking USEA/TIEC press team to thank for chasing down the winners and leaders of each #AEC17 division at day’s end yesterday to collect ride reflections and thoughts going forward.
Adequan® USEA Advanced Gold Cup
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous produced a double clear show jumping round to keep a tight hold on their lead in front of an enthusiastic crowd, as they head into the final phase of cross-country tomorrow in the Adequan® USEA Advanced Gold Cup division. The pair made easy work of the track underneath the lights to remain on their score of 27.8.
“I’ve jumped a lot of classes in this ring, and it’s been a lucky ring for me so far,” said Little. “I hope I get luckier, but it’s been a great experience. It’s special to get to bring Scandalous in here to take center stage; she deserves this so it’s cool for me.”
In preparation for jumping under the lights, Little arranged for RF Scandalous, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe & Michael Manders, to travel with her show jumping string to Balmoral Park in Chicago, IL, to contest an evening class.
“I actually drove her to Chicago so I could do a night class. I was really glad that I did because it also affected her quite seriously in the warm-up area. She’s just a smart horse and she was a little nervous in the ring under the lights last time, so I didn’t know if she was still going to be that way, but, she’s such a smart horse and she’s a good partner, so she took what she learned and came out really solid
Jennie Brannigan continues to sit in second place aboard her longtime and veteran mount Cambalda, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Balda Beau out of Cathy’s Lady and is owned by Nina Gardner. Brannigan, who managed an unusually sensitive “Ping” in the warm-up, encountered some trouble before heading into the ring, but produced a nearly foot perfect round to hold their placing on the leaderboard.
“I had an interesting warm-up. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped that horse under the lights before. He was quite fresh and I thought that was going to be a good thing. I warmed up with Phillip and he was building square oxers. I don’t know if it was the combination of the lights, but I crashed into a jump and fell on my hand,” she explained.
“I know that horse well and I haven’t had a bad warm-up like that ever, but he jumped well, so that’s good. He’s consistent, so I was a little worried about what he was going to do, but he jumped great once we got out in the ring.”
Angela Bowles traveled all of the way from the state of Texas to contest the 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena® and was thrilled with her rise up the leaderboard on Bliss III, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Corland x Lenja) owned by Alyssa Phillips. The pair were holding fifth place following dressage, but a strong show jumping round propelled them up the leaderboard where they now occupy third place.
“I’ve been helping Alyssa with Bliss since we imported the horse about three years ago, and I’ve ridden her on and off throughout that time as Alyssa has been transitioning from high school to college. I recently retired my upper level horse and Alyssa has been super busy with school. She has two other horses to ride, so she was really gracious to let me have the ride on her,” explained Bowles. “We targeted this because we were qualified, so we came and I’ve show jumped the horse a lot. I like to do ‘A’ shows in Texas and I’ve done a couple of grand prix classes on the mare. I did the Wellington Eventing Showcase on the mare, so I know her very well and it’s a big atmosphere.”
The pair’s last Advanced level outing together was at The Colorado Horse Park earlier in the month, so Bowles is excited to test the track at TIEC to better gauge where their blossoming partnership stands. She added, “I’m going to go have another look around the course tomorrow. I don’t know the mare as well at this level, so our first Advanced cross-country was a month ago in Colorado. I’m going to get out there in the morning and then make a plan from there.”
The cross-country phase for the Adequan® USEA Advanced Gold Cup division will begin at 9:45 a.m. at the White Oak Complex at TIEC. Public parking will be available at 4099 Pea Ridge Road.
Boehringer Ingelheim Open Intermediate
Jennie Brannigan has been busy gathering top finishes across multiple divisions throughout the week, and called this afternoon’s cross-county run a success. “Today was good. I ate some Mexican food, took a nap and woke up to watch Lynn and Donner ride at Burghley on the replay, and I was like, ‘Alright, let’s go fast.’ And they’re both cool horses. They’re both only seven years old.”
“I’ve always believed in Twilightslastgleam. He loves cross-country and is a Thoroughbred, so he’s quite natural at it. He’s got a smaller step, so there’s a lot of options for doing different strides on this course, so I actually did one set of strides on one horse and one on the other, which is different for me,” she commented.
Brannigan learned that Twilightslastgleam had risen the ranks to first place while she was already on course with FE Lifestyle. “You’re always wondering whether to go for time or not. On FE Lifestyle I knew I was tied for first, but on Twilightslastgleam I wasn’t sure, and then I decided to have a crack at it anyway,” she said. “So we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Both of these are exciting horses for the Gardiners, because we need the future, and they are the future, and it’s cool to see them stepping up to the game and into the spotlight,” she concluded.
Charlotte Collier, aboard Parker Collier’s Clifford M, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cristo x Naomi IV), sits in third after finishing with 3.6 time penalties on cross-country, improving her first day rank by two.
The Novice Horse division saw Booli Selmayr and Thomas Duggan’s Kildare’s MHS Tampa, a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Quintender x Lady Ligustra)remain in first place throughout all three phases of competition to finish on top of the division.
The course today was so nice,” said Selmayr. “It flowed so nicely, made you think a little and not just gallop around. It tests the obedience and the stamina of the horse.”
Despite only working with this horse since the spring, Selmayr says that the young mare has taken to the atmosphere of Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) remarkably well.
“We got here Monday after a 15.5-hour drive from NY, so I was interested in seeing how she was going to be this weekend. It’s such a big atmosphere and she’s just five, but she’s been so calm the whole time. She’s such a competitor and she’s such a workhorse. She doesn’t really get flustered by anything,” she explained.
Next, the pair will finish off the year with Young Horse Championships at Fair Hill. “After that we will take her down to Aiken, and I definitely think she can do a 1* next year. She’s a classy mare and she has the breeding to be a top-level horse, and as long as she’s still happy doing that, that’s what we are going to do.”
Ashley Giles and her own Chayenne, a 6-year-old Trakehner mare (Elfado x Charima), also stayed consistent throughout all three phases to finish in second place. Giles explained that she qualified for this week’s competition aboard Chayenne after competing and winning their first show together with a broken back.
“I got this mare back in November and I was coming back from a three-year eventing hiatus. I started bonding with her, and then we entered our first horse trial. The day beforehand, I broke my back and didn’t figure it out until after I’d competed. She’s a fabulous horse and won that horse trial, and then we qualified, which was our goal all along.”
Coming into today’s course, Giles was feeling the pressure, she said, but her mount performed beautifully nonetheless. “She was fabulous yesterday, and I thought the cross-country course was super fun, and I loved [how it twisted]. It was super fun to ride. I had never been sitting in this position before going into the final phase, so I was pretty nervous going into show jumping, but she went in, and she did her job. She’s a brilliant horse. Every day that I get to sit on her, I feel lucky,” she concluded.
Jennie Brannigan rode Justine Dutton’s Arctic Tiger, a 5-year-old British Sport Horse, to a third-place finish, moving up from their previously-held fourth place rank and posting two double clear rounds.
“Unfortunately Justine is hurt, so she asked me to take the ride. I had only sat on him twice before this week, and it’s his first AEC, so I know that she was really happy. I’m happy that she trusts me enough to take him out,” said Brannigan. “He’s a great mover, and this was a lot, since it’s a big atmosphere. He was a little nervous out on cross-country, but I was really impressed with him today. He went out and stepped up to the plate,” she concluded.
Bailey Snyder and her own Corina, a 7-year-old Holsteiner mare (Acorino x Phaedre), cruised through the show jumping phase to remain at the top of the Novice Amateur division, maintaining the first-place slot they had occupied since Thursday’s dressage test.
“Going into dressage she was just being a star, despite the weather and the rain, and she put in a really good test followed by a super confident cross-country round, so today there was definitely some pressure,” she said. “It’s a great division and scores were all really high, so my goal was to just go in and do the best we could. It was awesome and she was a super star.”
The pair has been climbing the ranks in eventing since Corina came to Snyder as an unbroken four-year-old, and she’s excited to see where they go from here.
“I’m going into my senior year of college, so my goal with her is to just keep her happy and healthy. I’m up for whatever she is confident enough to do. We’ve got an easy fall planned after this, and then we will look to the spring to get to some good shows that we can travel to and see some more exciting venues. We will definitely come back to Tryon to see what she can take on. She’s still a young horse so we are trying to get her more confident and ready to move up,” she concluded.
Savannah Welch and her own Langcaster, an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Languster x Galiffi), maintained her second-place status throughout the week despite a hectic effort to save her horse from the path of Hurricane Harvey. “We are from Houston, so we kind of just threw the horse in the trailer and say ‘we are leaving NOW,’ two days early,” she said.
“It takes him a while to get used to everything because he is also young and is still learning how to settle in with situations like this. With dressage, he did everything right, and I couldn’t have asked more of him,” she commented. “We bought him as a four-year-old that didn’t really know anything and my trainer and I have taken him along, improving his scores and working on his confidence. Now we are just taking his education step by step.”
As a senior in college, Welch said it’s sometimes difficult to keep a strict competition schedule, but she plans to end her fall strong, adding, “Maybe we’ll compete in more Novices and hopefully move up to Training next year,” she concluded.
Krissy Smith Shellenberger and her own Invictus, a 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Ibisco x Viness SH) rose from fourth place to claim the third-place slot with a four-fault show jumping round.
Ryan Bell and Way Jose, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred (Jose x Riverside Charmer) owned by Karen Czarick, climbed to the top of the leaderboard in the Novice Rider division at the 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena®. Bell, a dressage competitor that recently began eventing, won the division on his dressage score of 25.8.
“I was a dressage rider and I got bucked off a couple of dressage horses, so I got a little nervous riding my own horses and I thought ‘Okay, I really need to push myself out of my comfort zone.’ So, what’s more out of a dressage rider’s comfort zone than eventing? So here we are,” commented Bell. “It feels amazing,” he continued. “I’m a little shocked because I didn’t think it would happen. I think I got lucky, but I tried really hard and did the best I could, so I’m really happy that it all paid off.”
Lenora Evan Hollmann moved up in the standings following cross-country and rode a double clear round aboard her own Christian Grey, a 7-year-old PMU gelding. “He’s such a trier,” said Hollmann, “He’s always there for me. I want to move up to Training with him, but for now we are just having so much fun together enjoying the moment.”
Hollmann adopted the gelding as a 3-year-old from LastChance Corral in Ohio. “LastChance Corral got him at about a week old and so he was a bucket fed baby, and he was sold to me only with the description, ‘has done parades.'”
Liza Bunce and Gail Bunce’s 17-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding, Chance, started out the competition in ninth and made a climb throughout the weekend to end up in third place, adding nothing to her dressage score of 27.3. Of her experience at AEC, Bunce said, “It’s been a great weekend. It’s wonderful for my horse to get this exposure. The course was incredible; the footing was amazing. We really don’t get too much of the opportunity to go from the arena to grass back to the arena. It was so different but so worth coming here to compete.”
Master Novice Amateur
Megan Northrop maintained her first-place position throughout the phases aboard her own Fleur De Lis, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred mare, to finish on top of the Master Novice Amateur division.
“Show jumping tends to be my weakest phase, and I felt a little rattled coming in on the top. My mare jumped so great yesterday,” she said. “She has grown so much this year. I knew she was brave and I knew that if I just left her alone a little bit, she would go. She got a little too forward on me a couple of times today, and I had to correct that, but for the most part, she did what I asked and I’m really proud of her for that.”
Sarah Wildasin and James Wildasin’s Totally Awesome Bosco, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, improved their third-place spot to finish in second. “I was just very happy to remember where I had to go,” she commented. “My horse is amazing and does everything. I just have to steer and go along for the ride!”
Jenny Brinkley and her own Guinness X, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, rose from fifth place after cross-country to collect third in the division final. “I have one of those once in a lifetime horses,” she said. “I did the first AEC that they ever held, and then topped out at Preliminary level with him. He was so talented that my trainer took him through Advanced, and then my daughter took him out at Intermediate and was very successful at Young Riders with him,” she continued. “[My daughter] went off to college and then I got him back, and my goal was to get back here to AEC. Now, I’m just happy to be here.”
Sunny Courtwright and her 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Around Midnight, were crowned the final champions of the 2017 AEC. Courtwright lead the Junior Novice division from start to finish on her dressage score of 23.5.
“Marble was really good today. I just can’t believe this,” said an awestruck Courtwright. “I loved the course. I was just worried about the distractions, but she was perfect. This whole week has been so fun. It’s gone by so fast and I’m sad it’s going to be over soon.”
Courtwright and third place finisher Suzanne Stevens both ride out of Mike Huber’s Gold Chip Stables in Fort Worth, TX. “It’s really fun to be here with Sonny and my other barn mates from Texas,” commented Stevens.
Kira Cibak and her own October Tryst had a clear round in the show jumping to move them from fourth to second. She and the 11-year-old Morgan gelding finished on their dressage score of 27.8. Cibak said, “This was my first AEC so I was really happy with my horse. We are going to try to move to Training, we are going to try to move up and see where that goes!”
Suzanne Stevens and her own Smokin’ Boots, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred mare (More Smoke x Miss Boot Scoot) ended in third on a 28.8. “This is the biggest show my horse has been to, so it’s been a great experience for the both of us. She’s come so far,” Stevens concluded.
Beginner Novice Horse
Amanda Ruane and her own Bally Lord Who, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, maintained their lead in the Beginner Novice Horse division, mastering the track and continuing on their original dressage score of 22.3 to hold top honors heading into show jumping tomorrow.
“He felt so good today. Cross-country is always his favorite phase,” said Ruane. “The biggest thing with him is that he’s 17hh. He’s a big horse, so we need to work on not eating up the time so quickly. A couple of times I had to check my watch and then say ‘Okay, let’s take a breather and tone it down a notch.’ He’s bold and brave, and he’s a really fun ride.”
Beth Stelzleni and Mighty Handsome, a 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Mighty Magic x SPS Whitney) kept their second-place position with a score of 25.8, while Holly Payne-Caravella piloted Benjamin Button, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Classic Alliance x Lively Lady) owned by Kathleen Hall, also maintaining their 25.8 score to remained tied with Stelzeni for second place.
The Beginner Novice Horse division will conclude tomorrow, as horse and rider combinations complete the final phase of competition at 9:50 a.m. in the George H. Morris Arena.
Beginner Novice Amateur
After moving up from third place, Leah Backus and her own Diamond of Truth, a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Salute the Truth x Mainways Queen of Diamonds), have taken the lead in the Beginner Novice Amateur division heading into tomorrow’s show jumping phase.
Backus bred Diamond of Truth and has enjoyed bringing him along for the past few years, she said, and was excited to achieve her goal of making it to AECs this year. “I liked going up on the hill so that you could look out over the [cross-country] course,” she said about today’s ride.
“When we got up there, my horse kind of looked out over the field, and our course was going pretty well at that point, so it was pretty exciting. For tomorrow, he’s never been in a ring that big, so I think he’ll be excited. He’s enjoying the show scene, so I think he’ll like it, and maybe he’ll perform extra well.”
Despite two time penalties, Diane Zrimsek aboard her own Coronado Charlie, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Bwana Charlie x Pleasure Hunt), sit tied for second place with Nicole Thomas and her own Here N’ Now, an 18-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding.
Beginner Novice Rider
After two phases Kathleen Bertuna and her own Millye’s Mojave, a 12-year-old OTTB gelding (Mojave Moon x Slew the Dragoness) have moved from third to first place in the Beginner Novice Rider division following their clear cross-country round.
Bertuna was happy with her mount’s focus on the fences and said the course encompassed the many tests of horse and rider she’s seen all year. “There were a lot of tests, from the changes in terrain to riding towards and away from the warm up area, towards and away from the barn area, and the difference between the ring and the wet, sometimes muddy grass, up and down the hill-it definitely tested all those facets that we’ve been working on all year in all the different courses and put them all into one big course,” she explained.
After nineteen years away from the sport and wanting to return on a safe horse, Bertuna connected with Millye’s Mojave last November. The Seattle Slew-bred gelding is “just a prince,” she said, and the pair will likely move up to Novice.
“He is wonderful. He takes care of me and has gotten me back into the business very nicely. At the beginning of this season Beginner Novice was looking really big, but now it’s looking more manageable, so I’m hoping that there will be a nice move up in the spring.” For now, she’s just looking to put in an accurate and forward course tomorrow in the show jumping phase.
Kymberly Pullen and Sara Webb’s Homer, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Golden Missile x Zaza), currently sit in second place 1.5 points behind Bertuna, while Amber Duncan and her own Renegade, a 10-year-old paint gelding (Reflecting Merle x Windy’ Rascal Dottie), hold third place.
Master Beginner Novice Amateur
Carrie Griffen continues her lead going into the show jumping round tomorrow, clutching first place aboard her own Feuertanzer ES, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Nicholas x Daybreak) on their original dressage score of 23.3.
Robin Barr and her own Tout Fini, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Purge x Firehouse Waltz), maintain their second-place spot with a score of 24.8, while Cindi Moravec and her own Holloway have a new hold on third place after receiving a 27.3. The Master Beginner Novice Amateur division will conclude tomorrow with their final phase of show jumping.
Junior Beginner Novice Fourteen and Under
Ashley Stout and her own Deo Volente, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, remain on top of the Junior Beginner Novice Fourteen and Under division following their clear round in the cross-country phase.
Stout commented that today’s ride was a huge improvement from the pair’s two most recent cross-country runs, so she’s pleased with her mount’s effort. “I felt like it went really well. We were a little looky at some fences, but we managed to get over them and push through it and he was very willing with everything.”
“We were actually a little fast-we had a minute left at the third to last jump, so we ended up doing some circles and making it through with four minutes and thirty seconds. I’m super proud of him,” she explained. “My plan [for tomorrow] is to get through without knocking anything down. I’ve looked at the course, and it’s challenging, but not too bad,” she concluded.
Avery Cascarino remains in second aboard Gloria Cascarino’s Dudley Do Right, a 13-year-old gelding, with a score of 20, while Viktorija Petraitis and Our Little Secret, a 15-year-old Arabian gelding owned by the Petraitis Family, continue to hold third place with a score of 25.
Junior Beginner Novice
Brynn Hershbine and Rowan Edmonds both went around the cross-country today without a hitch, so they remain tied for first in the Junior Beginner Novice division. If they both jump double clear tomorrow in show jumping, it will be Hershbine who is named champion as she crossed the finish line closer to the optimum time of 5:02 with Julie Hershbine’s Cadenza Aria, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Turnofthecentury x Whisper).
Edmonds, riding Liberty Bell, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Hellion x Beth) owned by Michelle Jones was eight seconds faster.
Sydney Lee accrued 1.2 time penalties with Sweet Georgia Brown, dropping her from third to fourth. Carson Birdsong moved up into third with Ballygrace Laralai, an 11-year-old Irish Draught mare (Glenlara x Significadre) owned by Brooke Birdsong.
First through sixth are all within a rail of each other, so show jumping could prove to be quite influential as the riders head into the George Morris Arena at 3:25 p.m. tomorrow.
Jennie Brannigan moved up from second place to finish on top of the Preliminary Horse division concluding with a clear round in the show jumping phase aboard Grayson Wall’s Balmoral Oakey, a 10-year-old Australian Warmblood mare (Falchrich x Diamond Sea Road).
Brannigan explained that Balmoral Oakey is for sale, and that this horse has the potential to move past the Preliminary division. “I knew [coming into today] that she hadn’t had a rail in like two years or something like that, so I was a little bit nervous thinking ‘Wow,’ I’m going to be the one to mess that up,’ but she jumped great. She’s obviously a super horse so I just trusted her to do her job, and she obviously knows what that job is.”
Brannigan has been winning across multiple divisions this week and currently sits in second place in the competitive Adequan® USEA Advanced Gold Cup division aboard her longtime mount Cambalda.
“I was joking around [earlier] because last year I brought a bunch of horses and I think only placed 15th with one of them, so I’d say this year has gotten off to a better start. I’m really grateful for that and I just hope that I can continue to keep things going in the right direction,” she commented.
Leslie Law and Beatrice Rey-Herme’s LCC Vogue, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kroongraaf x Clear Cavalier), rode to a second-place finish, and he said that LCC Vogue has only done a handful of Preliminary level competitions so far. “We could have gone at this at training level, but I thought that the Prelim would be a decent challenge for him, and would be much more educational,” he said. “He’s a lovely horse and he has an incredible future. I’m excited that he was second. I think that this facility is a wonderful experience for the younger horses, and I think in the end it was all done very well,” he noted.
Third place went to Alexandra Knowles aboard Katherine O’Brien’s Business Class, a 7-year-old Selle Francais gelding, moving up from sixth place after cross-country. Business Class was imported from Ireland at the beginning of this year.
“I actually haven’t done a lot with him due to an injury in March, but he’s an absolutely fantastic horse. He’s cool as a cucumber, and all of the pressure is on me to do it right because if I do it right, he’ll definitely step up to the plate. He cruised around cross-country this week, and was great. I really enjoy riding him and am looking forward to moving up to the next level with him,” she commented.
“I thought the course was very fun, and it was very different from anything that I have done before. I really enjoyed it. The facility is second to none-it’s been a great experience. I never want to leave! Everything you need is here, and it’s beautiful. It doesn’t get much better than this,” Knowles concluded.