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Sally Spickard

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About Sally Spickard

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Tuesday Video from SpectraVET: Novice and Beginner Novice AEC Highlights

RNS Video has done a great job of putting up highlight reels from the Nutrena American Eventing Championships this weekend. The recap of the Novice and Beginner Novice winners is now available for our viewing enjoyment.

We particularly enjoyed watching Novice Horse winners Corinna Garcia and Jamaica Skodstrupp, her “horse of a different color,” the second pair in the Novice video. What a cool looking horse!

For more highlights from AEC weekend, be sure to check out both our coverage and the RNS Video YouTube page.

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Novice and Beginner Novice Wraps Up a Big Texas Weekend

Ashley Russell and Philharmonic. Photo by Sally Spickard. Ashley Russell and Philharmonic. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The Nutrena American Eventing Championships have officially wrapped up at the Texas Rose Horse Park, and I can say with confidence that it was a great, well-organized event for all in attendance. Once again, I can’t thank the USEA and Robert Kellerhouse enough for their organization, Michelle Dunn for managing the press center efficiently with a smile all weekend, and all of the countless volunteers, judges, officials, and riders that helped make this event run smoothly. It’s not easy to host this many divisions and competitors, but Texas pulled it off once again. I can’t wait to be back next year!

The Novice and Beginner Novice combinations show jumped today to close out the competition, and we saw some more great results coming through.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

Another wire to wire win was seen in the Junior Novice division, with Seguin Alexander and Motion Granted finishing on their dressage score of 22.5. Emma Ciafone and Cady O’Daly Gabriel also finished on their dressage score to finish in second, followed by Lily Huval and Simply Archie.

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Corinna Garcia and Jamaica Skodstrupp came from behind with a double clear round to take the Novice Horse win after overnight leaders Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers had one rail down to finish in third. Julie Wolfert and Buenas Suerte picked up second place with a clear round, which Julie will be pleased with considering the Thoroughbred gelding has still been figuring out which way his legs go in show jumping!

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Colorado’s Kristin Hardy and Enchanted swept the top honors in the Senior Novice division, adding no penalties to their dressage score of 27.5. Hannah Smitherton and Sir Lamp Chop (cute name!) moved up from third to take over second, followed by Carrie Landry and Our Questionnaire, Heather Gillette’s former upper level ride.

I also have to make mention of Britt Sabbah and Saint Louie, one of my oldest friends from the summer camp days at the barn. Britt recently converted to the dark side eventing and rides with Jennifer Wooten of Trinity Eventing. When I spoke with her earlier this week, she said Louie had settled in exceptionally well at Texas Rose, and that calmness translated into a fifth place finish in their first AECs. Congratulations, Britt!

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In the Beginner Novice Horse division, Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly maintained their lead from dressage and never looked back, finishing on an impressive 20.0. I was able to see Erin out on cross country, and she really looked to be having a blast with Strider as they flew around.

Laura Corsentino and Gravitas picked up second place, also finishing on their dressage score of 22.0. Cathy Wieschhoff and Yacht Club Debt (also a great name!) moved up from fourth to take home the yellow for their efforts this weekend.

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Melissa Morris and RSR Private Eye will go home with the blue ribbon in the Junior Beginner Novice, moving up from third with a double clear round. Leading overnight, Hannah Gurske and Buenos Dias had an unlucky rail and take second place home with them – a great achievement for this new partnership! Kelly Rischard and Wyatt ended their weekend in third on a score of 28.0.

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Maddalyn Hunt and Jos Estoico won the Junior Beginner Novice – 14 & Under on their dressage score of 24.5, followed by Molly Humes and Madoc Golden Graham and Grace Peters aboard Dream Catcher. I’m always just so impressed seeing these young riders do so well in very large divisions – I’m not sure I could handle the pressure, myself!

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And finally, Area IV darling Jill Wagenknecht and C.D. Dancer led from start to finish in the Senior Beginner Novice to take home the winner’s spoils. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Jill’s mare is just to die for, and after catching a glimpse in a video earlier this week, I might just have to agree!

Kelly Quick and Better Than Chocolate also finished with no added penalties in second place, followed by Jenna Calcaterra and Santos, who were able to move up to third from seventh place – a great finish for this pair!

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Preliminary Riders Close Out Exciting AEC Weekend

Alex Wikstrom and Change Order, who took second place in the Senior Preliminary. Photo by Sally Spickard. Alex Wikstrom and Change Order, who took second place in the Senior Preliminary. Photo by Sally Spickard.

We saw some really classy Preliminary show jumping rounds yesterday and have to send a shout out to the winners. Darlenne McInnis and Warlord took home the top honors in the senior division, the only pair to finish on their dressage score and one of just two double clear show jump rounds yesterday to finish on a score of 28.3.

Alex Wikstrom and Change Order lowered one rail but still moved up from fourth to second overall. She’s taking home some really great prizes, and she looks understandably thrilled, as you can see in the photo above.

Rounding out the top three is Christina Henriksen and Princess Paven, who had two rails down for a final score of 39.4. Christina commented earlier this week that her mare was still a bit green, and with that considered she should be thrilled with her finish at her first AEC.

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In the junior division, the pressure was on for Meghan Noelle Wilson after the riders before her jumped double clear rounds. Cool as a cucumber, she piloted Ghypsy to a double clear herself, cementing the wire to wire victory on a final score of 27.6.

Apologies for cutting off the top of the head, but look at that smile over the last from Meghan! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Apologies for cutting off the top of the head, but look at that smile over the last from Meghan! Photo by Sally Spickard.

In second place were Mia Farley and The Good Witch, who jumped a beautiful round to remain on their dressage score. The junior riders also put in some super show jumping rounds, which is very exciting considering that they represent part of the next generation of the sport.

Caroline Testi and Crimson Tide. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Caroline Testi and Crimson Tide. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Caroline Testi and Crimson Tide finished in third place, also on their dressage score of 30.9. Congrats to the top finishers!

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Heather Morris and Charlie Tango were the wire-to-wire winners in the Preliminary Horse division, adding nothing to their dressage score of 25.4. This is Charlie Tango’s first year at Prelim, and the win this weekend marks his third at this level.

Tamie Smith continued her great weekend with a second place finish aboard Dempsey. Tamie was in fourth for the majority of the weekend and was able to move up with a strong double clear round on a day when rails were falling frequently.

Moving up from fifth to third was Kadi Eykamp and Double Rivers Rockstar, who also finished on their dressage score of 30.0. Interestingly enough, it looks like Kadi more or less catch rode this horse for the weekend, as she’s only competed him a handful of times in the past couple of years. Well done, Kadi!

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We’ll be back later on today with a wrap up from the Beginner Novice and Novice divisions, which complete competition today, as well as a wrap on the rest of the events running this weekend. Stay tuned!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

Memory of Christine Brown Lives On In Mr. Poppers

Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers. Photo via Lainey Ashker's IG. Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers. Photo via Lainey Ashker's IG.

A handsome black horse trotted around the Novice Horse dressage arena on Friday, turning heads and scoring a 21.5 to take the lead in a large and highly competitive division. But it wasn’t the dressage score that meant the most to this horse’s owners and connections – it was the fact that he was here in Texas competing in the first place.

Mr. Poppers is a six-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned by Dr. Stuart Brown, husband to the late Christine Brown. Piloted by Andrea Leatherman, “Sam” represents much more than a 21.5. He represents the fond memories of a woman who loved her animals more than just about anything else.

“I met Stuart and Christine a few years ago when Christine called me and asked if I’d come and do a clinic in Kentucky,” Buck Davidson said. “I stayed at their house and I just loved them from the start. They were the most genuine, caring people.

Christine had a strong affinity for animals, rescuing any animal she could to give it a better life at her home. “The care that the Browns put into their animals was so thoughtful, and I just admired them. Since the tragedy, Stuart and I have become very close and I am honored to call him one of my best friends now.”

After the tragic riding accident that claimed Christine’s life in 2013, Stuart had to make decisions on what to do with Christine’s horses, namely Mr. Poppers. “Stuart asked if I’d be willing to take ‘Sam’ into my barn,” Buck recalled. “I was honored that a man of his stature would have one of his horses in my barn, and we took Sam in and began working with him.”

Stuart and Christine both held Buck in a high regard when it comes to his care and love for the horses in his barn, and Stuart was confident that sending Sam to Buck for training would be what Christine wanted for the talented horse.

“Stuart is a gentle, compassionate, and classy guy,” Buck said. “They also have a racehorse that was with Graham Motion, because they had a lot of respect for him. It’s been such an honor to have Sam and represent Christine. I only hope I can treat Andrea the same way he treated Christine.”

It was Buck’s soon to be wife, Andrea, who ended up taking over the ride on the fancy gelding, and the pair has now completed five events at the Novice level this year, including the American Eventing Championships this weekend.

The Davidson camp celebrating Mr. Poppers’ impressive dressage score and double clear cross country and focused on the final phase, set to compete earlier this morning. Stuart took time off of work to come down to Texas to watch his horse compete, and it’s been a great weekend of reminiscing and laughing – what Christine would have wanted.

Andrea and Mr. Poppers lowered one rail in the show jumping this morning to take third overall. “Win, lose, or draw, we’ve still won this weekend,” Buck said. “Just to be able to have Stuart here and to see Andrea and Sam, knowing what the horse represents, it’s what Christine would have wanted. If a rail comes down, so be it. What’s important is that we’re all here celebrating Christine and enjoying the horses, and that is really what the sport is about.”

Avery Klunick Wins ‘Best Save Ever’ Award

Avery Klunick and It It to Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard. Avery Klunick and It It to Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Avery Klunick and In It to Win It enjoyed a smooth round around Richard Jeffery’s show jumping course in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup final yesterday – until fence 9, that is. Approaching a black and white vertical, In It to Win It slammed on the brakes, the momentum causing Avery to go up the neck a bit, taking the bridle off in the process.

With the bridle off, In It to Win It took a few trot steps towards the in gate but stayed calm and stopped when Avery asked. Since both dismounting and asking for or accepting assistance would have resulted in elimination, Avery only had one choice if she were to continue on her way: find a way to get the bridle back in its place.

“It was really surprising that he stopped, he was jumping so well up to that point,” Avery said. “I just didn’t close my leg enough and he stopped pretty hard and I literally thought I was falling off.

“He was a really good boy and he just let me push myself back on. And then I wasn’t sure what to do, I looked at the people by the arena and asked if anyone could help and they said they couldn’t if I wanted to continue. And Tamie (Smith) said ‘Put it on!’ so I just reached down and grabbed the bridle. I felt like it was taking forever, and I was thinking ‘why are they letting me just run around the arena?’ I was waiting for them to buzz me out!

Clear on the second attempt! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Clear on the second attempt! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Avery calmly reached forward and slipped the bridle back on her horse’s head. Luckily, she was riding in a hackamore, which likely made it much easier to put back on. Avery got the main parts of the bridle back on, but the throatlatch remained over her horse’s forehead. “Everyone was asking why I had my throatlatch that way, but I just couldn’t get it back underneath!,” Avery said.  Either way, Avery magically got situated and continued on her way.

“I was just crawling on him and hanging on him like a spider, and he was such a saint,” Avery said. “I’m really lucky that he didn’t run off or jump out because it easily could have been really bad and one or both of us could have gotten hurt.”

The crowd roared its delight, and the pair went on to finish their round with a big smile (and perhaps a slight smirk from In It to Win It). Avery is heading to Fair Hill next, and in her racing mind after “Winston” stopped, she thought that she really needed to finish on a good note so that they were ready for Fair Hill.

“I was literally thinking a million things at the time, which felt like 10 minutes passing, and I just really wanted to finish. I really thought they were just laughing at me up in the announcer booth so they weren’t going to buzz me out!”

I asked Avery last night if she planned to purchase the video so we could all relive the epic save, and she answered with a definitive ‘yes!’. This came as a relief, as Maggie and I were talking about starting a Kickstarter to purchase it if Avery wasn’t going to. Thanks for saving us the work, Avery!

Check out Avery’s epic save in the video below, thanks to RNS Video. What’s your most epic save moment?

Girls’ Day Out: Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster Win 2014 Merial Open Intermediate at AECs

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard. Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard.

I’ve been watching Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster’s partnership all weekend, and I couldn’t helped but be impressed by the talent this mare shows. After putting in a relaxed dressage test that put this pair into fifth place, Tamie and “Chloe” moved up to fifth after a clear and fast cross country run, and finally clinched the win with a double clear trip around Richard Jeffery’s show jump course this afternoon.

Tamie and Chloe received some of the loudest cheers we heard all day – clearly this California pair is popular! This seven-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare jumped beautifully today, adding another accolade to her already impressive resume. Keep your eye out for this one, EN!

Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Overnight leaders Buck Davidson and Quasar unfortunately had just one unlucky rail down today, leaving them in second place overall. Quasar is still relatively young and a newer ride for Buck, so you can expect this pair to continue to build on this weekend as their time together continues.

Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Young rider Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean had a rock star weekend as well, steadily moving up from sixth after dressage to take home the third place honors. This pair has only finished outside of the top 10 one time since moving up to the Intermediate level this year. I’m sure we can expect an Eventing Dad blog any day now full of proud father moments for Bailey.

Julie Richards rode two professional looking rounds aboard Beaulieu’s Cayenne and Urlanmore Beauty to finish in fourth and fifth, respectively. This is the first year at this level for both horses, and this weekend was Urlanmore Beauty’s fourth run at the level, including a CIC2* last month.

Two fences seemed to come down the most, both of which were red,white, and blue USEA jumps. The first was an oxer heading directly towards the spectators watching on a hill, and the second was the last fence on course, a vertical that was pointed towards the in-gate. The course was demanding and required a rider to really ride accurate turns and keep their horses in front of their leg.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

In second place after cross country, Elisa Wallace and Corteo knocked two disappointing rails to end their weekend in seventh. Elisa posted on her Facebook page later on that she was disappointed in her rails, but she can still go home pleased with the effort that Corteo put in this weekend.

A bit less than half of the division were able to turn in clear rounds. One pair was unfortunately eliminated: Caroline Martin and Roller Skate, who took a strong disliking to oxers and stopped twice. Caroline gave Roller Skate a pat as they exited the ring, and I’m sure this pair will bounce back just fine.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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Buck Davidson and Petite Flower Win 2014 Adequan USEA Gold Cup

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard. Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower put all of the pieces together today, jumping a lovely and quiet clear round to win the 2014 Adequan USEA Gold Cup here at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships.

Buck entered the arena originally in fourth place, but one rail dropped by each of the top three ushered Buck in to take home the winnings. Buck commented in yesterday’s press conference that he’s really been working hard with Flower to get her prepared for Fair Hill, and he will be thrilled with his results this weekend leading up to the big three-day in October.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Defending champions Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch entered the ring looking cool and collected, and really jumped a lovely round with a heartbreaking rail that came at the first fence of one of the triple combinations. Laine will surely be disappointed, but she should still be supremely proud of a lovely performance all weekend, even with a night spent in the hospital!

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matthew Brown continued his successful weekend in his first trip East with his two California horses, taking home third with Super Socks BCF. “Flaxen” got away with a few rubs and had just one rail down to drop from second to third, but he should still feel prepared for the Fair Hill CCI3*, the next stop on his road trip.

Jon Holling and DHI Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jon Holling and DHI Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jonathan Holling said last night that he’s been working to get DHI Zatopek B back on track after a patchy spring season, and the horse looked strong and confident in the show jumping today, dropping one rail in the first treble to drop down from third into fourth. Jon’s other horse, Proper Timing, was the first in the ring this afternoon and also dropped a single round.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Barbara Crabo turned in the only other double clear round of the day aboard Eveready – what a lovely weekend for these two! Hailing from California, Barb added just eight time on cross country to take away fifth place overall.

Avery Klunick officially wins the “true grit” award for her tough round today. In It To Win It put on the breaks at a black and pink vertical about midway through the course, and the horse’s bridle slid off in the process. In It To Win It was a good boy and didn’t run off, and Avery was able to slip her bridle back on, much to the delight of the crowd, and finished her round to raucous cheers that resembled a reining competition. You go, girl!

I have to now drive as fast as I (il)legally can to make my departing flight, I will have full recaps on the Intermediate as well as the other divisions that competed today later on tonight.

In the meantime, I must give a HUGE thank you to the USEA and all of the officials, volunteers, judges, announcers, and spectators for making this a great weekend in Texas. It may be a hike for some, but I can’t recommend this event enough. I could go on for many more paragraphs, but I will leave it at this: the AECs rock!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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Who Jumped It Best? Broadstone Beginner Novice Horse Edition

Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly. Photo by Sally Spickard. Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Our Junior Training edition of the Who Jumped It Best? series was a huge hit yesterday, so we’ve got another one for you today! The Beginner Novice and Novice horses were out on cross country today, and I was able to get out to see some of the Broadstone Beginner Novice Horse this afternoon.

So, EN, you know what to do! Pick your favorite and vote for the winner of the eternal EN karma.

Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ingvill Ramberg and Jamie's Private Collection. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ingvill Ramberg and Jamie’s Private Collection. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jennifer Taxay Kelly and Granstom. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jennifer Taxay Kelly and Granstom. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jenny Lantz and Kawliga. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jenny Lantz and Kawliga. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Kimberly Willnow and Ashes to Ashes. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Kimberly Willnow and Ashes to Ashes. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ashley Russell and Philharmonic. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ashley Russell and Philharmonic. Photo by Sally Spickard.

AEC Training Level Divisions Wrap Up in Exciting Finale

Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard. Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Emerson Gotcher and Kurious won two prestigious events today at the AECs: the Junior Training division and the Who Jumped It Best? from yesterday’s cross country. What a weekend for Emerson!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

Emerson and her Irish Sport Horse gelding have won here at Texas Rose previously, picking up the blue in their Training division back in March. Since then, the pair has finished in the top five at their other Training starts this year and culminated their hard work with a come from behind win in the show jumping today.

Richard Jeffery’s show jumping course proved to be influential for the Junior Training riders today, with overnight leader Natasha Erschen knocking picking up a total of nine penalties to move down into seventh. A clear round from Emerson allowed her to move up and take the top spot after sitting in third after cross country.

Arden Stephens and No More Rocks also moved up, coming from fourth to finish second with a clear round. Sofia Guarachi and Fernhill Shannondale moved from fifth into third after jumping clear.

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Brittany Vinson and Falcon Dusty Tiger also came from behind to win the Senior Training division after taking third place into today’s show jumping. This is a solid Training level pair, having competed at this level for a couple of years now with a few runs at Preliminary. A well deserved win, Brittany!

Claire Gordon and Ole Boy also jumped clear to move from fourth into second overall. This pair was in fifth after the dressage and steadily climbed up the board to finish on their dressage score of 30.5.

Melissa Fox and Diamond Legacy moved up as well, coming from fifth to finish third after jumping double clear.

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Heather Morris and Russell are enjoying a win in the Training Horse division after a double clear round today. This pair moved up from a tie for second to win the whole thing. This horse moved up to Training level this year, only placing outside of the top 10 once. This is Heather and Russell’s second consecutive win, with the last coming here at Texas Rose back in June.

Beau Gimmond and Filibuster ST had one unfortunate rail in their round today to go into second overall. Candace Wheeler Bell and Fernhill Jet, in tenth after the dressage, finished on their dressage score of 33.6 after two double clear jumping rounds to take third overall.

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Golf Carts Gone Wild at the AECs

We launched an awesome contest for those in attendance at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships this weekend, challenging contestants to decorate their stall or golf carts with the most insanity they could possibly manage.

We’re happy to report that our entrants were most definitely up to the challenge and delivered some of the craziest, most fun decorations we’ve ever seen. We’re thinking that this might have to be a perennial contest – what do you think, EN?

Our first place winners hail from BABS Eventing out of Great Falls, Virginia. We profiled Ashley Russell’s incredible story here on EN a few days ago, and she and her cohorts took their golf cart decorations to the next level. Judge Laine Ashker was beside herself with the skeleton (“Babs”), the C4 belt, and all of the pink she could handle. Way to steal the judge’s heart, Team BABS!

Team BABS for the win! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Team BABS for the win! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ashley and the rest of Team BABS came away with plenty of loot from our generous sponsors: Cosequin, FLAIR, Success Equestrian, Do or Do Knot, and Smart Tie. Enjoy your spoils, Ashley!

That's a winner! Ashley Russell and Laine Ashker. Photo by Sally Spickard.

That’s a winner! Ashley Russell and Laine Ashker. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The rest of the competition was close, making for a very tough decision for Laine. Not to be outdone, our second placed finisher hails from Minnesota, so they did a fun take on a northern theme for their golf cart.

A modern horse-drawn sleigh? Photo by Sally Spickard.

A modern horse-drawn sleigh? Photo by Sally Spickard.

Decorated by Bill and Ingvill Ramberg and Jennifer Stevens, this cart looks like a modern take on the horse-drawn sleigh – something that’s probably much needed during those cold Minnesota winters!

Photo by Sally Spickard.

Photo by Sally Spickard.

And last, but certainly not least, we had an appearance from the world’s cutest minions on our third placed entry. Decorated by Bigtime Eventing, consisting of Lauren Eckardt, Leila Saxe, Carla Jimmerson, and Annie Stolberg, this golf cart had two minions at the helm and plenty of color to stand out in the crowd.

Minions

How did they manage to see out the back? Photo by Sally Spickard.

Here’s where I share an embarrassing tidbit with you, EN: I actually have a massive phobia of balloons. I think I had some sort of traumatic (or as traumatic as you can get with balloons!) experience as a youngster and always feel some anxiety when I’m in close range. Luckily, I had Laine with me to judge so I didn’t have to get too close!

Look at those minion smiles! Photo by Sally Spickard.

Look at those minion smiles! Photo by Sally Spickard.

All of the winners were thrilled to receive their prizes, rightfully so! We’re so happy to have had the chance to see everyone’s creativity. Once again, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors who made this contest possible, as well as to Laine Ashker for taking the time out of her busy schedule to help out. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Ingvill Ramberg enjoys her prize. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ingvill Ramberg enjoys her prize. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Much more still to come from the AECs, so keep it locked right here on EN!

 

Prelim and Training AEC Riders Take Charge of Challenging Cross Country Day

Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard. Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard.

I spent a bit of time out on the course today watching the Training riders. The courses seemed to be riding fairly well, while still holding true to their championship status. The rides I saw in the Junior Training division looked solid, although the technicality of some of the combinations definitely made some riders really earn their keep.

In the Junior Training, Natasha Erschen and Magic Drummer were able to move from second into first after overnight leader Kelsey Holmes decided to retire after picking up two refusals. Tashi Brundige and Ringo Star (one of my favorite names, behind Fernhill Patronus Charm #potterheadsunite) moved up from fourth to second, and Emerson Gotcher with Kurious also moved up, from fifth to third.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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In the Senior Training, Anne Kornak and Double Rivers Really Cool have taken command after a clear and fast round. Unfortunately, leaders Carrie Meehan and Cavalier retired on course, saying on Facebook that it just wasn’t their day. We know Carrie will be back to her winning ways in no time at all!

The remainder of the top three remains unchanged, with the third and fourth placed riders after dressage moving up into second and third: Pamela Kimmel and Special Performance and Brittany Vinson with Falcon Dusky Tiger.

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Beau Gimmond took sole possession of the Training Horse division aboard Filibuster ST after a double clear run across country today. Heather Morris and Russell jumped from a tie for fifth to second after today, and Elliot Blackmon and W.H. Topgun retained their third place position.

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In the Training Adult Team Challenge, the division is down to just two riders after Jean Fowler and NZ Bay of Islands retired on course. Aside from that, the standings remain unchanged with Carrie Polson and High Maintenance holding onto the lead and Cindy De Porter with Drop the Buck holding second place.

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The Preliminary riders also had a great day out on cross country today. In the Jr/YR division, Megan Noelle Wilson and Mia Farley are still battling for the top placings, remaining in first and second, respectively, after double clear runs. I had a chance to speak with Mia about her leased ride, The Good Witch, so keep an eye out for another story forthcoming.

Impressively, the majority of these young riders went double clear around a very challenging track. Five pairs came home with time, and there was one rider fall on the scores. What a successful day for these next-gen eventers!

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Heather Morris holds onto the lead in the Preliminary Horse division with Charlie Tango, sitting on a 25.4 after a double clear round today. Erin Kellerhouse positively rocked her way around the course with Rafaella to remain in second. A tie for fourth place was broken when Leslie Law came home closer to the optimum time with Unborn de Lelo, followed by Tamie Smith on Dempsey.

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In the Senior division, overnight leaders Christina Henriksen and Princess Paven came home with just 1.2 time penalties, which was unfortunately enough to drop them into second. Christina will likely be thrilled with her talented mare, who she has produced herself, and heads into show jumping less than a rail behind new leaders Darlene McInnes and Warlord.

Kentucky’s Pamela Kimmel and Midnight Special moved up from fifth to third after another clear and fast round.

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In the Adult Team Challenge, the standings remain relatively unchanged, with just second and third swapping spots after today. Catie Cejka and Light in the Dark remain in the lead with a double clear round, one of two in the division.

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Novice and Beginner Novice Riders Take AEC Dressage By Storm

Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers. Photo via Lainey Ashker's IG. Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers. Photo via Lainey Ashker's IG.

The Novice and Beginner Novice riders have perhaps the biggest challenge this weekend, competing in very large divisions for their shot at the top prize. We see some very good scores coming out of these divisions from the first phase of competition and are excited to see these pairs finish the weekend out strong with cross country tomorrow and show jumping on Sunday.

In the Junior Novice, Seguin Alexander took one for the home Texas team and scored the first place award aboard Motion Granted with a 22.5. Side note here, every Novice and Beginner Novice division is currently lead by a score in the 20s. Very impressive!

Emily Ciafone and Cady O’Daly Gabriel hold second place on a 23.5, and Amber Curry with Taylor Mea Rainbow are in third on a 25.0. Just 10 points separate the top 18 riders in this division, so it’s still very much anyone’s game, especially considering that every other division’s cross country has been tough on the time.

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Andrea Leatherman and Mr. Poppers took the lead in the Novice Horse division, scoring a competition low 21.5. This horse has yet to finish outside of the top 10 at this level, and you can expect a very capable ride from Andrea tomorrow on the cross country.

Corinna Garcia and Jamaica Skodstrupp are in second on a score of 23.0, followed by Julie Norman and Neferhotep on a 23.5. I also must shout out to my coach extraordinaire, Julie Wolfert, who earned a 25.5 with Buenas Suerte to sit in fourth overnight.

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The Senior Novice division is currently led by both Kristin Hardy and Enchanted and Julie Denton with Win/Win Situation, who both scored a 27.5. It was an emotional press conference this afternoon for Kristin, as she is here riding with Team Fearless in honor of the late Avery Dudasch. Being here this year is so meaningful to this team, and their touching story had the whole press room wiping their eyes by the end.

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Erin Pullen and Strider Can Fly won the dressage in the Beginner Novice Horse division, scoring a 20.0. Teach us your ways, Erin! Laura Corsentino and Gravitas are in second on a score of 22.0, followed by Ellie Celarak and Princess Song of Joy on a 23.0. This is another tightly bunched division, with less than 10 points separating the top 11 right now.

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Hannah Gurske and Buenos Dias are the dressage winners in the Junior Beginner Novice. You may recognize these names from a story we did on them earlier this year. I caught up with Hannah after her ride, and she said she has really learned to use her leg and ask for more from “Dia.” Hannah feels confident going into cross country and says as long as she rides the right way, she thinks she and Dia will have a great remainder of their weekend.

Jane Cook and Dun Luck are in second after dressage with a score of 24.0, followed by Melissa Morris and RSR Private Eye.

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Grace Peters and Dream Catcher are your Junior 14 & Under leaders, scoring a 23.0 to take a 1.5 point lead over Maddalyn Hunt and Jos Estoico. Molly Humes and Madoc Golden Graham are in third overnight on a score of 25.0.

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In the Senior Beginner Novice, Missouri’s own Jill Wagenknecht and C.D. Dancer scored a 23.5 to take the lead into cross country. Jill has attended every AEC since the event’s inception and is thrilled to be here in Texas with her eye catching mare. Kelly Quick and Better Than Chocolate, who has Hershey’s wrappers all over his stall door as a temptation to starving journalists, are in second place on a 26.0, followed by Jennifer Ramsey and Lil’ Birnie.

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Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch Take Lead in Adequan USEA Gold Cup

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country course for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup division had riders checking their watches and opening their horses up between fences in an effort to make the time. Overall, the course rode very well, although no pairs managed to come home inside the time, and Laine Ashker has officially taken command with the fastest time of the day.

Laine is recovering from a mysterious illness that placed her in the hospital on Wednesday night, and she said yesterday that she planned to get a full night’s sleep and go for gusto this weekend. She certainly looked in command and in sync with Al, and she commented in the press conference today that she really felt like knowing the course from last year helped her prepare.

“Instead of longer gallops, I did shorter sprints sets,” Laine said. “I think this year he really delivered as soon as I asked because I changed my preparation. Last year I felt he got a bit more tired than usual.”

Laine knows the pressure is officially on for a repeat win in the Gold Cup tomorrow, but she’s staying focused on ensuring she still has a happy, confident horse at the end of the day.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Unfortunately, the only blip on the scoreboard was a major one, as overnight leaders Becky Holder had a very scary fall from Can’t Fire Me at the skinny chevron at fence 6B. It appeared that Becky and Teddy had a miscommunication on the distance, and Becky came off over Teddy’s head, his bridle pulling completely off in the process. Becky remained on the ground but appeared to be conscious, and was quickly attended to by medics. She was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the hospital; we will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Matt Brown retained his second place position with a clear and fast round aboard Super Socks BCF, a trip he’s likely to be thrilled with. This pair really looked on point in the early parts of the course that I saw. Matt came home with 4.8 time penalties and is sitting just .7 off from Laine.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jonathan Holling was the last on course after the lengthy hold from Becky’s fall and looked very strong aboard a game Zatopek B. Jon has been working through a right drifting issue with this horse, and they had no qualms for taking direct routes and making it around while going for the time. They came home strong, also with 4.8 time, to go into third.

“Zack” was loaded onto a trailer following his cross country run and vanned back to the stables, but Jon confirmed that the horse lost a shoe and that since the trailer was already there he thought he’d save Zack from having to walk back on the hard ground.

“(With Zack), he was really on point all day. This is our last prep before Fair Hill so I knew I wanted to press for some more speed,” Jon said. “There were a couple of places where I probably could have gone a bit quicker, but I’m really pleased with him. The one big question for him was the oxer to the corner, and once he locked on and did that I knew we were good to go for Fair Hill. I’m lucky that I’ve had Leslie (Law) coaching me and helping me get Zack back on track this summer.

“I thought the course rode exactly the way it walked; it was very technical and twisty. I knew we really needed a good run for Fair Hill, and I think both horses are right where they need to be at this point.”

Jon is recovering from getting a kick to the stomach when he arrived here in Texas, which he says has had little ill effect except for causing a bit of an upset stomach.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower looked handy and keen through the fences I watched them through and will hold their fourth place position going into tomorrow’s show jumping. This mare looked confident and rideable for Buck, and they were able to keep a strong rhythm throughout their ride.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Both Jen McFall and Debbie Rosen withdrew their horses prior to cross country today. Jen McFall cited a heel bruise that had become aggravated as her reason for withdrawing, and Debbie posted on her Facebook that she had elected to enjoy her last couple of days with The Alchemyst hacking and spending quality time together.

Going into the show jumping finale tomorrow, less than a rail separates the top four riders. This will definitely be an exciting finish – show jumping begins at 5:30 p.m. CST tomorrow evening.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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Buck Davidson and Quasar Retain Merial Intermediate Lead

Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard. Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The Intermediate horses and riders have just wrapped up here at the Nutrena American a Eventing Championships. Buck Davidson and Quasar, holding the overnight lead, went out about mid-pack and cruised around to come home one second under the optimum time of six minutes and four seconds to take their lead into show jumping tomorrow.

Buck commented yesterday that this horse has been easy for him to get to know and ride, and today’s trip certainly looked effortless for this pair. In the press conference this afternoon, Buck said that he was very pleased with how Quasar had gone, and that he made for an adjustable and confident ride around Capt. Mark Phillips’ course today.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Moving up with a double clear round from a tie for third is Elisa Wallace and Corteo. This is another pair who made a tricky course, and even trickier time, look like a walk in the park. This is only Corteo’s third run at this level, which makes their smooth cross country round and current placing all the more impressive.

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Tamie Smith needed a day brightener after taking a tumble on another horse earlier, and she got it with a foot perfect round with Twizted Syster. This pair is another who looked quite polished and professional around a challenging and technical track. I saw Tamie through the second half of the course, and she really gave the mare a great ride. Twizted Syster has a great, ground-covering gallop that really made the time attainable, saving time in between fences and opening up when there was room to gallop.

Matt Brown and Happenstance. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Happenstance. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Happenstance also had a great run, looking confident and full of gallop even towards the end of the course. Happenstance seemed to be jumping quite big and excitedly; Matt is here on a mission to get to Fair Hill, and he had two great prep runs for the CCI3* and CCI2* today, which he should be quite pleased with.

I saw most of the pairs through their two trips to the second of two water complexes on course. The great thing about this layout is that you can see a good amount of the course from one spot, which Capt. Phillips has remarked was a big factor when it came time to design this year’s course.

Problems popped up throughout, with the big corner following a table at 6AB causing a good amount of trouble. There were also a few hairy moments through the water I was at, with many horses jumping quite exuberantly into it.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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Who Jumped It Best? AEC Junior Training Edition

Tashi Brundige and Ringo Star. Photo by Sally Spickard. Tashi Brundige and Ringo Star. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Cross country got underway first thing this morning at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships, and the Training level horses have completed their runs. I went out to check out the course and snap some photos for Who Jumped It Best, and it seems to riding smoothly overall for the junior riders I watched. You can listen live to John Kyle’s commentary here.

The fence pictured is the eighth fence on the Training course, which came after two technical combinations early on in course. Riders came off of a bending line on a slightly downhill approach to this fence. After setting up for the previous combinations, this was a good galloping fence to get the pairs back into their rhythm.

Preliminary is underway now, followed by the Merial Intermediate and the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced, so we’ll have much more coming your way from Texas! In the meantime, check out this gallery of a handful of the junior riders and vote for who you think jumped it best in the poll below. The winner gets infinite chinchilla karma and plenty of cool points to last for the weekend.

Anna Duggan and Instant Impact. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Anna Duggan and Instant Impact. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Hayley Clark and Bold Impression. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Hayley Clark and Bold Impression. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Anna Honeycutt and Two Out Rally. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Anna Honeycutt and Two Out Rally. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Emerson Gotcher and Kurious. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Sofia Gurachi and Fernhill Shannondale. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Sofia Gurachi and Fernhill Shannondale. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Hannah Slade and Kingfisher II. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Hannah Slade and Kingfisher II. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Arden Stephens and No More Rocks. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Arden Stephens and No More Rocks. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Decorate Your Stall or Golf Cart at AECs, Win Awesome Prizes

*Chinch not included. First place prize pack shown. *Chinch not included. First place prize pack shown.

By now you’ve surely heard of EN’s awesome stall and golf cart decorating contest at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships, right? Well, if you’re on the fence about entering, here’s a little extra motivation for you. Want to know exactly what is up for grabs tonight when reigning Adequan USEA Gold Cup champion Laine Ashker judges the contest? Here’s the breakdown:

First Place:
Success Equestrian Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap Pad
Cosequin Bucket
Cosequin ASU joint Supplement
Cosequin Joint Supplement Treats for Dogs
Cosequin ASU Joint Supplement Capsules for Humans
FLAIR Equine Nasal Strip
Do or Do Knot Rope Halter
Smart Tie Safe Clip Cross-tie Set
Official EN Hat and Sticker
Autographed photo of 2013 Adequan USEA Gold Cup champion Laine Ashker

Second Place:
Success Equestrian Deluxe Cross Country Jumper Pad
Cosequin Bucket
Cosequin ASU Joint Supplement
Cosequin Joint Supplement Treats for Dogs
Cosequin ASU Joint Supplement Capsules for Humans
FLAIR Equine Nasal Strip
Do or Do Knot Rope Halter
Official EN Hat and Sticker
Autographed photo of 2013 Adequan USEA Gold Cup champion Laine Ashker

Third Place:
Success Equestrian Deluxe Cross Country Dressage Pad
Cosequin bucket
Cosequin ASU Joint Supplement
Cosequin Joint Supplement Treats for Dogs
Cosequin ASU Joint Supplement Capsules for Humans
FLAIR Equine Nasal Strip
Official EN Hat and Sticker
Autographed photo of 2013 Adequan USEA Gold Cup champion Laine Ashker

Don’t forget, Laine Ashker is our guest judge, and entries will be judged this evening following the conclusion of Advanced cross country. To enter, decorate your golf cart or stall — the more INSANE the better — and text/call Sally at 314-813-8171 or email sally@eventingnation.com with your stall number and name. We will give you a time frame for judging once we receive your entry. Please send us your entries no later than 4:30 p.m. CST today!

We’re so excited to see your creative (and insane) entries tonight! Once again, we’d like to thank our wonderful sponsors as well as Laine for helping us put on this great contest. Good luck, and Go AECs!

AEC Video Gallery: Day One Dressage Leaders

Day two of the Nutrena American Eventing Championships is officially here, and RNS Video is on hand to bring us the latest and greatest in videography this weekend. The Training through Advanced divisions played in the little white box yesterday, and RNS has compiled video showcasing all of the division leaders going into today’s cross country.

In case you missed out on any of the action, be sure to check out all of EN’s coverage here, as well as the links below.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

 

And They’re Off! What Went Down in Day One of AECs?

Buck Davidson leads Training riders on a course walk this evening. Photo via USEA on Facebook. Buck Davidson leads Training riders on a course walk this evening. Photo via USEA on Facebook.

Whew! That’s about the best way my sleep-deprived brain can describe a whirlwind of a first day of competition at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships. They do say everything is bigger than Texas, and they sure weren’t kidding when it comes to the size of this competition!

While I was unable to head over to check out any of the other divisions doing their dressage today, I did get the chance to speak with a couple of the leaders thanks to some very conscientious peers in the media center. I definitely plan to check out some of the action tomorrow before the Intermediate and Advanced go out on cross country, so keep checking back for more from Texas!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

The training through preliminary horses and riders completed their first phase of competition today, and some really impressive scores are popping up on the scoreboard tonight.

In the Jr/YR Preliminary division, Texas’ own Megan Noelle Wilson and Ghypsy are currently leading after scoring a 27.6 for the dressage. This pair has been averaging scores in the 30s for the most part this year, so it seems that their hard work and practice really paid off today.

Megan doesn’t have a ton of breathing room, though, as Mia Farley and former Jennifer Wooten ride, The Good Witch, are hot on their heels with a score of 29.1. This pair has been unstoppable this year, winning all five of their starts at this level. There should be some sort of award for that, don’t you think? Tomorrow’s cross country course is twisty and full of accuracy questions, but Mia’s got a good horse underneath her and this pair should do quite well.

In third and also from Texas are Clara Cargile and White Indian. This pair is also having a very strong season in 2014 and has not finished out of the top 10 once yet. Clara and White Indian scored a 30.7 to keep the leaderboard quite tight for the next phase.

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In the Preliminary Adult Team Challenge division, Catie Cejka, hailing from Washington, and Light in the Dark are your early leaders on a score of 31.3. Catie and Light in the Dark stepped up to Prelim this year and have only finished outside of the top 10 once, making it no surprise that they’re taking the lead here this weekend.

Area IV’s Camie Stockhausen and Best Etiquette are close behind in second on a 31.3, and this is also their first year together at Preliminary. Camie and Best Etiquette are making just their fourth Preliminary start together this weekend – quite impressive!

Louise Leslie and Santarae, also from Washington, will take third place overnight after scoring a 38.0. Joy Simon and Wlloughby Bay complete the division on a score of 42.0.

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Heather Morris and Charlie Tango are your Preliminary Horse leaders following the dressage on a score of 25.4. This horse competed in the Training division last year, placing fifth, and looks to improve on that in the next level up this year. Heather and Charlie Tango have done well with their time at Prelim so far, so a top finish is definitely not out of the question for these two.

Erin Kellerhouse and Raffaella are in second place after scoring a 26.3. Erin has had the ride on this Oldenburg mare for a couple of years now and moved her up to this level in the spring of 2014.

Florida’s Natalia Neneman and Legate round out the top three on a score of 27.8. Natalia and Legate have also been together for awhile now and look to be having a great season of Prelim competition this year. Here’s hoping for a strong finish from all of these talented competitors!

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We were able to grab Christina Henrikson, who leads the Senior Amateur Preliminary tonight with Princess Paven, for a quick interview today. This is one to keep your eye on, EN! Christina spent a lot of time in nursing school, which put her big time eventing plans on the back burner for awhile. Now, though, she’s got a talented horse in Princess Paven who has answered every question Christina has asked so far.

Christina and Princess Paven are entered in their first CCI event at Midsouth next month, and this weekend should be a great prep for their next step up. Be sure to check out the video below for more from Christina.

Darlene McInnis and Warlord are in second after dressage with a score of 28.3. This pair is quite solid at this level and has finished out of the top three just once this year (to finish fourth!), so this weekend will certainly be a good challenge for this pair.

Alexandra Wikstrom and Change Order are in third overnight on a 28.9. Alexandra and Change Order have won here before, taking home the blue just this past June in the Preliminary Rider division – look for them to defend their title on home turf tomorrow!

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We also got to speak with Jr. Training leader Kelsey Holmes, of Mailbu, Ca., who scored a 21.4 with Heart of Gold SE to take the early lead.

Natasha Erschen and Magic Drummer are currently in second on a score of 22.3. This is Natasha’s first trip to AECs and her second year at Training level with Magic Drummer.

Gigi Hogan and Aron round out the top three with a score of 23.6, making for yet another tightly packed leaderboard going into cross country. This pair has enjoyed four wins at Training level so far this year – will they pick up another this weekend?

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Another Area IV shoutout! Carrie Meehan and Cavalier currently lead the Sr. Training division after scoring a 27.7. Carrie is no stranger to the AEC atmosphere, and she definitely brought her ‘A’ game today. This pair has really been putting the pieces together at this level this year and has locked in three consecutive second place finishes leading up to this weekend. Will this weekend bring their sought after first win?

Anne Kornak and Double Rivers Really Cool will take second place overnight on a 29.1. Anne has come up the levels with this horse, who was formerly campaigned by Kadi Eykamp, and this is just their fifth start at Training level together.

Pamela Kimmel and Special Performance, from Kentucky, complete the top three with a 29.6. This is another pair who has come up the levels together, and they’re looking quite strong for a good finish this weekend.

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The Adult Team Challenge for Training riders is comprised of just three riders, but it’s a tightly packed race. Carrie Polson and High Maintenance currently lead on a 37.7, followed by Cindy De Porter and Drop the Buck (38.2) and Jean Fowler and NZ Bay of Islands (41.4). Look for an exciting finish for this division as the weekend continues!

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And last, but certainly not least, we have the Training Horse division that began competition today. Your two leaders are Beau Guimond with Filibuster ST, who scored a 28.2 for equal first with Lisa Mendell and Teslin Bay. Filibuster ST has campaigned at Training level all year and has not been beaten yet. Aside from two early eliminations, this pair has won an astounding seven times at this level this year! Can they make it eight this weekend?

Lisa Mendell and Teslin Bay would sure like to take that lead over on their own to put the cherry on top of a great first season at Training level. They’re coming off of a five place finish at Five Points, and they’ve already bested their dressage score from that weekend.

Rebecca Brown and Belafonte d’Avalon are in equal second with Elliot Blackmon and W.H. Topgun after the first place tie with a 28.6 – so close to being a four-way tie!

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These divisions will run cross country, along with the Intermediate and Advanced, tomorrow, while the Beginner Novice and Novice riders begin their competition with the dressage. Stay tuned for much more from AECs!

Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me Take Command of USEA Adequan Gold Cup

Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me. Photo by Sally Spickard. Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me. Photo by Sally Spickard.

It’s all about the grays today in the Merial Intermediate and Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced divisions at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships, and Becky Holder turned in a positively lovely test aboard Can’t Fire Me to take the overnight lead with a 31.2.

Becky and “Teddy” have had a lighter year in 2014, originally aiming for Rolex but sidetracked when Becky injured her knee walking cross country at The Fork in April. Becky also mentioned in the press conference that Teddy still struggled with hoof regrowth since coming back from an injury last fall. Since then, the pair have a first place finish in the Intermediate at River Glen last month but have otherwise taken it easy on their way to Texas.

No ill effects were to be found this afternoon, as the pair effortlessly executed their test, looking quite relaxed and engaged. The Gold Cup final is now in Becky’s hands as the Advanced pairs look ahead to Capt. Mark Phillips cross country course tomorrow afternoon.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Also turning in a great looking test was Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF, who will take second place into tomorrow with a score of 32.5. Matt had a slight bobble in the extended canter but recovered nicely and was all business for the rest of his test. This is our first time seeing Super Socks in the flesh, and he definitely looked impressive and no worse for the wear after his long trek to get here. This pair is heading to the CCI3* at Fair Hill next.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Defending champions Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch entered the arena with their game faces on and put in the solid test we’ve come to expect from them. They took the early lead with a score of 33.4, a couple of points higher than their score from 2013.

Laine informed us in the press conference this afternoon that she spent the night in the hospital last night with a mystery ailment that left her still feeling weak today. She said she was pleased with her test, although she is definitely feeling the effects of a less than ideal night. This pair will now look forward to the cross country course tomorrow, hopefully after a full night of sleep!

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower also looked spot on their game today. Flower is such an elegant mover and she really tries hard for Buck. Buck noted in a brief interview that he’s thrilled to be here in Texas again – we’re sure he was talking about the pseudo-vacation he’s taking with just two horses competing! This pair scored a 34.0 to sit in fourth place overnight.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jon Holling has both Zatopek B and Proper Timing in fifth and sixth, respectively, after putting in lovely tests on both. Proper Timing was the first horse in the ring for the Advanced division and really put in a solid effort. The Thoroughbred gelding is coming off of a 14th place finish in the CIC3* at Richland Park and looks primed to go for a top placing this weekend.

Go AECs!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

Becky Holder Post-Ride Interview:

Laine Ashker Post-Ride Interview:

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch:

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar:

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Leslie Law and Fernhill Whatever Slide Into Second After AEC Intermediate Dressage

Leslie Law and Fernhill Whatever. Photo by Sally Spickard. Leslie Law and Fernhill Whatever. Photo by Sally Spickard.

No one could quite catch morning leaders Buck Davidson and Quasar in the last group of 10 this afternoon, but a couple did give it their best shot. Leslie Law and Fernhill Whatever showed their professionalism and polish by laying down a lovely test for a 31.0 from the judges, good enough to take over second place.

The Irish Sport Horse gelding is coming off of a second place finish in the CIC2* at Poplar Place, and Leslie has commented in the past that this horse definitely has a plethora of talent, which was evident today.

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Elisa Wallace and Julie Richards’ tie will move down to equal third place with Leslie’s score, and Tamie Smith moves into fourth place with Twizted Syster on a 33.3. This pair likely wins my favorite test of the day, as the mare looked relaxed, complete with floppy ears, for a fluid and put together test. Tamie gave Twizted Syster lots of big pats after her final halt and salute, and she is surely thrilled with her ride today. I plan to catch up with Tamie later on today, so stay tuned for more.

Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Also moving up to challenge in the final group was Eventing Dad’s daughter, Bailey Moran, and Loughnatousa Caislean. Bailey and her chestnut Irish Sport Horse put in a very accurate test that really showed off the horse’s movement. This pair scored a 34.2 for fifth place going into cross country.

Julie Richards and Beaulieu's Cayenne. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Julie Richards and Beaulieu’s Cayenne. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Julie Richards also brought her second ride into the top 10, tying for ninth aboard Beaulieu’s Cayenne with a 35.4. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this mare’s owner, Sher Schwartz, here in Texas, and she’s thrilled to be here not only riding her own horses but cheering Julie on.

We’re on just a brief break now before the USEA Adequan Gold Cup final kicks off with Jon Holling and Proper Timing at 3:08 p.m. CST. Stay tuned for much more from the first day of competition here at the AECs!

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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Buck Davidson and Quasar Best of Intermediate at AEC Lunch Break

Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard. Buck Davidson and Quasar. Photo by Sally Spickard.

It’s a hot and sunny day here at Texas Rose Horse Park, and we’ve just seen about two-thirds of the Merial Open Intermediate division ride dressage, with 10 more to come after the lunch break.

Buck Davidson and Quasar, a 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding, put in a lovely, rhythmic test to score 30.4 for the lead going into the lunch break today. Quasar is a new ride for Buck this year, and the pair has enjoyed success at the level, most recently notching a 12th place finish at GMHA last month. You can view a video of Buck’s test below.

Julie Richards and Urlanmore Beauty. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Julie Richards and Urlanmore Beauty. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Julie Richards and Urlanmore Beauty took an early lead this morning, earning a 31.7 from the judges with an expressive test from the big Irish gelding. This horse really had a great presence in the ring, and Julie’s expert piloting earned them a very competitive score.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Elisa Wallace and Corteo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Julie is currently tied for second with Elisa Wallace and Corteo, who also turned in a lovely test. We featured the 6-year-old Dutch gelding on EN’s Got Talent nearly two years ago, and he really is an expressive mover who tried his heart out for Elisa today. This pair is coming off of a fourth-place finish in the CIC2* at Poplar Place. Fun fact about this pair: Elisa had Corteo here at the AECs last year in the Training division where they placed fourth. What a difference a year makes!

Sara Beth Anton and Blitz Volo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Sara Beth Anton and Blitz Volo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Sara Beth Anton and Blitz Volo have had a successful year, earning four wins at the one-star and Intermediate levels in their prep for AECs. This pair rode an accurate and fluid test for fourth place currently on a score of 34.4.

Riding his first test in Texas after the cross-country trek, Matt Brown and Happenstance battled just a bit of tension to score a 35.6, which will slot them into sixth place for now. The handsome dark bay gelding really is a nice mover, and he seems to have a “can-do” attitude with Matt, but a couple of naughty moments hurt an otherwise lovely test.

Ellen Doughty-Hume and Fuerst Harrisburg. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Ellen Doughty-Hume and Fuerst Harrisburg. Photo by Sally Spickard.

I have to give a shout-out to Ellen Doughty-Hume, who really rode Fuerst Harrisburg well even though he was clearly already thinking about the next phase. This big Hanoverian gelding wanted to get a bit behind the vertical, and he just oozes power; Ellen definitely had to work to keep the medium canter in check!

We’re on a lunch break now, and Bailey Moran with Loughnatousa Caislean will kick us back off at 1:28 p.m. CST. I’ll be back after the conclusion of the Intermediate with a final recap, and then we’ll see the Advanced riders go later on this afternoon.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram

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AEC Advanced Cross Country Course Preview

The first water complex on course. The first water complex on course.

AEC week is finally here! The Texas Rose Horse Park was already bustling with activity in preparation for the weekend when I arrived yesterday, and competition officially kicks off today with the Training, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced dressage. Stay tuned all weekend for updates from the Intermediate and Advanced all weekend, as well as any other divisions I can squeeze in.

Capt. Mark Phillips’ Advanced cross country course is definitely looking up to speed for a championship level course. The terrain here definitely needs to be taken seriously, and Capt. Phillips has integrated the course into the undulating hills here at the Texas Rose Horse Park

If I had to pick one word to describe this year’s Advanced course, it would be “twisty.” Debbie Rosen commented that the course is definitely a “rider’s course” in that it demands accuracy and has a lot of “land and turn” questions throughout.

Spectators will want to camp out at the first water complex, fences 12ABC and 13, which is a new addition for this year’s course. It’s quite an interesting looking complex, with a table leading into the water, four strides to a vertical brush, five to a rather steep bank and over another brush vertical, followed by another table, which rides at an angled four strides.

Stay tuned for much more from the AECs, and click here to see all of EN’s coverage so far.

#USEAAEC: WebsiteLive ScoresRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageUSEA’s Coverage@eventingnationEN’s Instagram