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Your Monster, Mega, Multi-Division Saturday AEC Report

The first 2018 AEC champions were crowned today! Shown here: Jr. Training winners Madison Santley and Excellence. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The American Eventing Championships is no ordinary event. There’s no hierarchy of prestige here: Every last competitor earned his or her place on the entry list, and nobody’s journey was easy. At the AEC, Beginner Novice is just as important as Advanced. While the jumps may be smaller or larger, the obstacles competitors faced to get here — whether it’s the adult amateur working mom who rides at 5 a.m. because it’s the only time she has, or the professionals who risk everything to hedge their bets on a dream — are all worthy of our respect, and all the riders worthy of our admiration.

That’s why, instead of just focusing on the upper levels, this week we are striving to shine the spotlight on all the championship divisions. But we can’t do it alone — the AEC is simply too expansive.

The comprehensive AEC coverage EN has shared this week would not have been possible without the media teams of the USEA and Colorado Horse Park, who have been working feverishly to make sure each and every division gets the attention it deserves. Even at this moment, with the competitors’ party in full swing just outside the media center, they are hunkered down at their laptops, writing and editing photos, all in the name of sharing AEC rider stories and celebrating their successes with the larger eventing community.

Thank you Leslie Mintz and Jessica Duffy of the USEA, and Kim Beaudoin and Kristin Rashid of the Colorado Horse Park. Teamwork makes the dream work!

And without further ado, here is your sprawling 5,400-word recap of Saturday’s AEC action! (View Advanced here and Beginner Novice here.)

Intermediate

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

>Heather Morris of California and Charlie Tango, the Team Express Group, LLC’s 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Shannondale Sarco St. Ghyvan x Our Queen Bee), jumped around the cross country course clear to continue to lead on their dressage score of 25.8.

“The cross country course was just beautifully done by Tremaine [Cooper] and his crew,” said Morris, “so my hat goes off to them for a job well done. The rain that we had last night made the footing absolutely perfect. It was really, really nice so the horses were quite quick.”

Intermediate completed their dressage phase on Thursday, but inclement weather shut the event down on Friday before the group could run cross country. Despite the day off from competition, Morris stated that ‘Chuck’ “felt better than ever” when he ran early Saturday morning. “Not running yesterday wasn’t a hindrance,” she said. “I’m sure it helped the footing and the horses were fresh to go this morning. It was good for them to be able to run on amazing footing today, so we are really happy.”

Bella Mowbray of California and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue, a 2005 Hanoverian mare (Earl x Laurena), are 2nd on their score of 30.5, followed closely by Julie Wolfert and Iowa Lot of Money, her own 2011 Thoroughbred gelding (Fusaichi Pegasus x Lion N Cheatin), on a 33.1.

Preliminary Amateur

Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Julia Spatt of Arkansas and 5o1 Macintosh quietly stalked the leaders all weekend, sitting in a respectable tie for seventh place on a score of 34.3 following dressage and then moving up into second place after adding just 0.8 time faults on cross country day. Finally, Spatt and her own 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding turned in a double clean show jumping round this afternoon to take home the title.

Her familiarity with the venue served her well, as Spatt was able to adequately prepare 5o1 Macintosh for the challenge. “We did a lot of trot sets and gallop sets to get conditioned. We have a nice hill at the farm, so we did a lot of nice slow gallops, up a slow, gradual hill, to make sure he was fit and prepared for the altitude. I felt like my conditioning program paid off, he felt very good yesterday.”

“It was really exciting to come back to the AEC this year,” said Spatt, who competed in both the 2012 and 2018 AEC. “I’m actually from Colorado. I’ve been living in Arkansas and it was really fun to come back to my home turf and compete at the AEC, and especially to have such a good result. It was quite a homecoming. I love showing at CHP. It’s always been one of my favorite venues.”

Spatt said, “Show jumping can tend to me my Achilles heel for competing. I was trying to keep mentally calm and keep a rhythm and let him do his job.”

Second place went to Erin Hofmann and her own Darkwatch (Royal Academy x Without), a 2008 Thoroughbred gelding. The pair moved from fifth to first with a double clear cross country round and dropped back into second-place after pulling a single rail in show jumping.

“The AEC has been wonderful,” said Hofmann, for whom the Colorado Horse Park is home turf. “I’m from Utah and have a bit of home turf advantage. I’ve been coming here for a long time. I didn’t really think about the altitude being an issue for some people, but when I got here I heard a lot of people talking about it, but we didn’t really feel a difference.”

Hofmann enjoyed the course that Tremaine Cooper put together. “I loved the big, bold gallops on the course. There were big tables and then you had really coming back and do something technical. It really kept you on your toes.”

Ruth Bley and her own 2005 Selle Francais gelding Rodrigue Du Granit (Robin II Z x Delight Gee) started and finished the competition in third place, dropping back to fourth after cross country with 6.0 time faults, but moving back up into third with a flawless show jumping round.

“It’s been great!” said Bley of competing at the AEC. “It was a lot of fun. This is a great facility. I have loved the trails that we could ride on. We got here on Sunday and we hacked around and tried to acclimate our horses that were coming from [sea level] to altitude. Actually, I think the horses did better than I did. We forget that we need to acclimate, too.”

“On cross country I had to remind myself to breathe,” Bley continued, “but my horse came off and acted like it wasn’t bad. I was like ‘Oh, I could have kicked you harder!’ It’s a very different course than we’re used to because there’s not a lot of track so, I actually got lost, which is why he has time penalties. I stumbled around for a while out there. If I could do it again, I would go walk that part of the course over and over and over again.”

Preliminary Rider

Whitney Tucker Billeter and Karvaleo. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Places shifted and changed once more in the Preliminary Rider division, which saw Californian Whitney Tucker Billeter guide her own 2011 Irish Sport Horse gelding Karvaleo (Kanna x Finod Cavalier) to the blue ribbon. The duo earned a collective score of 70.3. “This is my first AEC and it’s beautiful here. I want to come live here during the summer!” Billeter exclaimed.

Due to yesterday’s inclement weather, the Preliminary Rider division was sent back to the barn before they were set to run cross country. The group resumed on Saturday morning, and then contested their final phase later in the afternoon.

Billeter explained, “I just had to work a little bit harder to get him in front of my leg in the warmup but he answered everything. We had a little bauble. I got too tight coming into a combination and pushed him into the B element, but never got organized. If I had to do anything differently it would have been to ride the 9AB a bit better so I could be more organized to get him into the water. He felt tired warming up twice yesterday and then doing cross country and show jumping today. Luckily he has had practice. He’s a really cool young horse that I’m super excited about.”

Travis Atkinson of Utah rode Don Darco, his own 2009 Zweibrucker gelding (Damarco x Gong Lee), to second place on 74.7 penalties. Of his overall weekend, Atkinson said, “It didn’t go as planned, but it was alright. It was a tough cross country course that eliminated a lot of our division and we were the only two left when it came to the show jumping. It was mine to lose.”

Junior/Young Rider Preliminary

Madelyn Floyd and Clementine. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Rails were falling in the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division, but each of the top three had one rail apiece so their placings remained unchanged. Madelyn Floyd led the victory gallop aboard her own Clementine, a 2009 Hanoverian mare (Carrico x La Belle), making her journey from Washington State well worth it. “She’s a really good jumper, so I tried to stay out of her way,” said Floyd. “I tried to give her her head, let her do her thing, and keep the tempo the same.”

The penalties were hard to track, so Floyd wasn’t sure if she had a rail in hand when she cantered into the ring. “Show jumping is our hardest phase, so I just tried to relax and jump a good round. She was great. I couldn’t have asked her to be any better. I made a mistake at fence two but she was awesome.”

Floyd and Clementine finished on a 33.5 which was good enough to take the win over reserve champion Camryn Holcomb and Michaela Holcomb’s Cloud Nine, a 2005 Thoroughbred gelding. Like Floyd’s Clementine, Holcomb said that show jumping isn’t the best phase for Cloud Nine. “He can be pretty tense,” said Holcomb, who hails from Kansas. “He’s small and he’s shaped so weird, so if you ride him normally that’s when he pulls a rail. You have to go really slow, take your time. I was trying to breathe and stay calm. I knew we could do it. We’ve had double clears before, so we just tried to take it in stride.”

Rounding out the top three was Callia Englund and her own Xyder, a 2010 Cheval Canadien gelding (D D D-Cromwell Prince 2 I x Cosyland Start Kandi). “The AEC was so fun,” said Englund who traveled from Washington State. “I’m so glad we made the trip up here. It’s my first time to the CHP and the AEC.”

“The cross country course was difficult! He’s such a good boy on cross country. He just ate everything up and had a lot of fun with it,” said Englund.

Preliminary Horse

Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Ghost. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Yesterday’s course was influential in the Preliminary Horse division, which gave Tamie Smith the opportunity to climb up the leaderboard into first. Once Smith had the lead, she wasn’t letting go of it and a double clear show jumping round secured her win. Riding Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Ghost, a 2012 Irish Sport Horse/Belgian Warmblood mare (Dhannondale Sarco x Riverlon Mist), Smith finished on her dressage score of 29.0.

“Ghost is just a sweetheart,” said Smith. “My daughter has been riding her and producing her. In the victory gallop they even congratulated her, which was so exciting because she did all of the work! I just sat there on her. She’s just such a professional, so good and careful.”

She continued, “She was a little tired today from yesterday because she’s not as bold as the other horse, but she tries her heart out and she’s careful and you just keep on going.”

Second-place was captured by another California native, Gina Economou, riding Lauren Rath’s 2005 Thoroughbred gelding (Devil His Due x Synful Maid), who also finished on their dressage score of 30.4. Of her experience at CHP, Economou said, “They did a fabulous job here. It’s so nice to have an AEC that is in the Midwest and to have one that we could make it to. It was wonderful this year.

“I came out with the expectations to put in some solid dressage and cross country, which is kind of his forte. He met every expectation that I set and went above that. He jumped very clean and I’m so proud of him. Basically, his owner got pregnant, so I got to ride! It’s beautiful here. We haven’t been here in a long time, so it was really nice to come back.”

Smith also claimed third-place in the Preliminary Horse division, this time aboard MaiBlume, the MB Group LLC’s 2010 German Sport Horse/ Thoroughbred mare (Sir Schiwago x Free Lady), also concluding on a dressage score of 31.9. Of her second Preliminary Horse mount, Smith said, “She was absolutely super. Super rideable, she had a very beautiful round, I was really proud of her. Still full of energy, she’s never tired. She’s spicy so sometimes she can get a little funny in the lines to get to the next jump, but today she wasn’t. She was super and I couldn’t have asked her to be better.”

Smith credited CHP and its facility as a valuable asset to the training of her competition string. “It’s so fun to come here and have both of them do so well. I love the ring. It’s so nice to be able to have those green horses handle that kind of atmosphere.”

Training Horse

McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

As the first division champion to be crowned at the 15th annual AEC, Training Horse winner McKenzie Rollins was nothing but smiles as she galloped around the Coors Arena in her lap of victory. “It’s just such an honor to be able to come here in the first place,” she said. “To compete at such a beautiful venue, to make the trek out from California, with my best friend. It was just so fun. It’s a dream come true.”

Rollins moved from first place after dressage into second place after cross country with her own Excel Star Lord, a 2012 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Non-Stop x Korea B), then clinched the victory on a score of 34.9.

“He’s still quite young,” Rollins said, “so I really wanted to take my time to produce him, to not skip over anything. It’s really important to me that he’s happy and comfortable to do the job and that I’m not over-facing him with anything and I feel like this is just such a feather in his cap. He’s my first young horse that I’ve brought along and it’s been really fun. He’s such a pleasure to ride. He’s so lovely and he’s so kind and enjoys the work, which makes it that much more worth it.”

Second-place was awarded to Sam Kelly of Minnesota aboard Robinstown Ballivor, her own 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Watermill Swatch x Coevers Dock). The pair made a comeback from fifth place after cross country to end on 37.5 penalties.

“It was a great weekend,” said Kelly. “We traveled 20 hours, so it took forever for us to get here and we’ve been here since last Saturday.” Of her weekend, she said, “Dressage, he was amazing. He had a couple spooks, which is kind of unlike him, but with cross country too, he was amazing. We had time, which was a bummer, but he’s a strong jumper, so I knew he had it in the bag. It was just a strong overall weekend.”

Idaho’s Attila Rajnai rounded out the top three with Maximus de la Tombe, his own 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Esperanto van Paemel x Fidji de la Tombe), earning a score of 39.9. Commenting on his horse’s overall performance, Rajnai said, “The dressage test was very good. He felt like he was pretty relaxed for him. He’s still a very young horse, so I thought he did a good job. On cross country he was a little bit stronger than I wish he had been, so it took me a little time to prepare for the jumps and I feel like that cost us a little time. In the last phase, he was very tight as well so through one turn he got a bit discombobulated and had a rail, but all in all I’m very happy with his performance.”

Junior Training

Madison Santley and Excellence. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The Junior Training division concluded with Madison Santley of California, who moved to finish on top of the podium aboard Excellence, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vaillant x Wolinda), after clear rounds in both jumping phases. 

Santley and her mount finished on their dressage score of 31.7. She said, “This [AEC] has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. It took a long time to get out here. We had a bumpy road, but he was so good. He was an angel and I love him with all of my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse and a better week.”

Colorado native Cora Severs rode Cuervo, Stacey Severs’ 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Judgement ISF x Alexis Titty 11 Z), to the reserve championship on their dressage score of 35.6. “I had a great AEC experience,” Severs said. “I’ve qualified every year, but this is the first time in four years that I have been able to go. Overall it went really well. I wasn’t able to ride him for two weeks leading up to the event, as I was at college, but all in all, he listened very well and I had a great time.”

Madison Flanders of Oregon finished in third place with Michele Flanders’ Arwen II, a 2008 Thoroughbred mare (Silver Patriarch x Sally Smith), on a final score of 35.8. “I’ve had the greatest AEC experience,” Flanders said. “It’s really cool that it was close, here in Colorado this time. We usually can’t go because it’s on the East Coast. The whole entire weekend was really fun, especially cross country. We went a little bit too fast, but it was so much fun, I don’t even care! My mare was just perfect the entire time.”

Training Amateur

Linda Quist and Belle Gambe. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Linda Quist of Colorado led from start to finish aboard her own Belle Gambe, a 2004 Iberian Warmblood mare (Temerario VII x Mojave), in the Training Amateur division, finishing on a score of 27.3.

“I had a wonderful experience here this year,” Quist said. “This is my third AEC, I rode in Novice, Training, and now Training again. I thought the cross country course was fabulous, I had a wonderful time out there. Going into the last phase, all I could think of was ‘Leave the rails up please!'”

Texan Cherye Huber and her own Sam I Am, a 2006 British Sport Horse gelding (Cameo’s Reflection x Castle War Rebel), captured third place with a total score of 34.2. This is Huber’s fourth AEC and the time surrounded by her fellow competitors was one she will remember fondly.

She said, “I always love the AEC. It’s always such a festive group. Riding in the Amateur division, we always cheer each other on. I love it here. We had a nice trip and loved the cross country.”

Dawn Robbins of California and her own Diablo Tejano, a 2003 Thoroughbred gelding (Sandpit x Soar Like An Eagle), earned second place on a score of 31.1. Of her inaugural AEC, she said, “The AEC has been the time of my life. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve heard about it for years and we’ve qualified for many years, but it was always too far away for me. I got this chance to come to Colorado and just had to grab ahold of it. I’ve enjoyed being with all of the competitors and the facility is beautiful. The course was challenging, but not overly so. It was a real championship course.”

Training Rider

Tracy Alvez and Romulus. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The AEC is to be Romulus’ last competition, so it is only fitting that he went out on top. Luckily, he and owner/rider Tracy Alvez put in a double clear show jumping round to hold o to their overnight lead and win the division. “The show jumping course was so fun,” said Alvez of the Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango x Divottii). “My strategy was to keep him in front of my leg. He sucks back really easily.”

Alvez came into the AEC with Romulus in top-notch condition, but also was prepared to withdraw him at any point. “He kept telling me ‘No way, Mom, we’re going,'” said Alvez. She worked hard to prepare and ensure that Romulus was in ideal condition and ready to take on the competition at his age. “I’m really glad we did our conditioning in the heat of the day,” said Alvez. “In California, where I live, we don’t have the opportunity to train at elevation. We train at about 100 feet above sea level, which is nowhere near 5,280 feet.”

Jessica Maranto used her home field advantage to take home the reserve championship in the Training Rider division. “I liked having the AEC here this year because I live about five minutes from here,” said Maranto. She and Czardus, a 2007 American Warmblood gelding (Sweet’s Lucky Moondancer x Cadence), made a steady climb up the leaderboard throughout the weekend. They sat in seventh on a 32.8 after dressage and added nothing to that score in either jump phase.

Third placed Cindy Pavusko, who finished on her dressage score of 34.1, had a bit longer of a journey than Maranto, coming from California. “This is my first AEC. It was such a great experience and such an amazing opportunity to be able to come here and compete,” said Pavusko, who rode her own Sir Walter Raleigh, a 2007 American Warmblood gelding by Call Breeder. “I love it here. It’s beautiful. It’s HUGE! I’d never been here before, but my parents have and I was not expecting such a big venue. The course was a lot of fun.”

Novice Amateur

Erin Contino and Handsome Ransom. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

In the Novice Amateur division, the top three riders held on to their placings. Erin Contino of Colorado and Handsome Ransom, her 2012 Thoroughbred gelding (Desert Warrior x St. Casmir’s Secret), earned a 25.8 yesterday in dressage to lead the division. Contino said she felt very pleased with her steady mount as she guided him faultlessly around the cross country course.

“When I walked the course,” said Contino, “I thought it had a lot of turns, so I thought it might not ride as fluidly as I wanted, but it actually rolled really well. He hit a rhythm right out of the gate and we didn’t really have any issues. He’s a really honest horse, so I’m very lucky in that he tends to just know that his job is to get to the other side. He does that without questioning me, and he stays very straight, very honest.”

Moving into the final jumping phase tomorrow, Contino has one plan, and she’s sticking to it: “I am really going to work on keeping my nerves in check and not get impatient.”

Michelle Meghrouni of California and Swizzle, a 2011 Holsteiner mare (Blauer Vogel x Swiss Detail), sit in second place on a score of 27.0. The third place pair, Lorilee Hanson of Washington and Hypnotik, her own 2011 Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding (Montego Bay x Trelawny), are half a point behind on a 27.5.

Junior Novice

Julia Brittain and Haiku. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Yesterday Julia Brittain of California, riding her own Haiku, a 2012 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Sir Donnerhall, earned a 29.2 for first place. They jumped clear and inside the time today on cross country to maintain their impressive lead.

“I didn’t think much about the cross country course when I walked it,” said Brittain, “but riding was much different than what I expected. I was a lot more tough than I had originally anticipated, and was a harder ride than what I’m used to. My horse is young, but he hasn’t felt that green in a while, so I was a little unprepared for how he ended up acting to things like the ditch and a few of the combinations. I felt like I had to ride it a lot harder than I had initially expected to.”

Brittain also noted that show jumping is her hardest phase, so tomorrow will be the ultimate test for her. “Show jumping is definitely the phase that makes me the most nervous,” she said. “When I get nervous it hinders his performance, so I think that I just have to stay calm and keep him energetic while moving forward.”

Amanda Boyce, also of California, and her own 2006 Welsh Cob gelding Mercury (Machno Carwyn), sit in second place on a score of 32.3. Madison Boesch and her own Seamless, a 2009 Warmblood mare, moved into third on 33.3 with a clear round.

Novice Horse

Tamra Smith and MB MaiStein. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Tamra Smith sits in yet another top place position moving into Sunday’s show jumping phase in the Novice Horse division. This time she’s aboard MB MaiStein, the MB Group LLC’s 2013 Oldenburg gelding, on a score of 28.1.

“He’s ready to go Training and he’s looking to go to the Young Event Horse Championships,” said Smith of her young mount. “He’s such a bright talent for the future. He’s 80% Thoroughbred and is an unbelievable horse. His gallop is tremendous and he just has a great mind. He put a perfect test out and came out to cross country and jumped beautifully. It’s just so fun to produce them from three-year-olds. He used to be really nervous about ditches, so we came to the ditch and didn’t know what was going to happen. He just popped over it and that is so fulfilling to see him grow up and do his job perfectly. I’m just so proud of him.”

Colorado’s own Madeline Backus is sitting in second on her dressage score of 29.5 with Reflektion’s Rio, Lynn Roberts’ 2007 Swedish Warmblood gelding (Reggasoni x L.A. Baltic Reflektion). Whitney Tucker Billeter of California is also heading into tomorrow’s final phase on her dressage score of 31.0, holding third place, and the reins of Bill’s MidnightMagic, John Herich’s 2004 Hanoverian gelding (Espri x Rena Ramzi).

Novice Rider

Chris Kawcak and Maggie Belle. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

The Novice Rider division saw a new combination rise to the top of the leaderboard as Colorado’s Chris Kawcak and his own Maggie Belle, a 2003 Canadian Warmblood mare, took over the lead after cross country. They head into the final phase tomorrow on a score of 25.0.

“I grew up riding team roping horses and I just started riding her about three-years ago,” said Kawcak, whose wife Erin Contino is currently sitting atop the Novice Amateur division.

“Because Erin has been an eventer for years, we just started competing too. We’ve had some pretty good success over a period of time. The mare has been great. She’s really good at dressage, but she’d never done cross country until just a few years ago. She’s very ‘lookie’ but as long as it’s a confident ride, she’s great. She’s fun and she’ll never owe me anything.”

“We’ve competed here for the past few years and around the Midwest as well. I thought the course today was good. It was a little different because it had a lot of turns on it and a great set-up, but the mare went out and was awesome. I was really proud of her because there were a lot of things to look at.”

Kansas native Anna Howell piloted her own 2003 Thoroughbred-Shire gelding (Kaeson’s Tuxedo Affair x Exclusive Ballerina) to second in the standings, with a score of 25.2. Julie Kuhle of Iowa and her own Orion, a 2008 Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding (JS Ebony N Ivory x Lucinda), sit in third on a 26.0.

Beginner Novice Horse

Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer. Photo by
USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Alexa Ehlers of Kentucky and Clear Laveer, her own 2006 Hanoverian gelding (Rascalino x Hauptstutbuch Wincenta 2), cruised around clear out on cross country to lead on their dressage score of 27.4.

“It was fun!” said Ehlers. “It was good. He came out not 100% focused and understanding what his job was, but then as he went along he figured out the game and he became way more confident. That was the goal. I was pleased. By the end he was cantering up to everything, not even looking at them. He had a big peek at the ditch and the gully. I was really proud of him. It’s cool to have that kind of a relationship built up now. He tried really hard!”

Of the course, Ehlers said, “I thought the course was perfect for the level. Just challenging enough. It seemed like good questions for the level. It was really cool how they used the terrain to make it more challenging.”

Taylor Lindsten of Arizona and Chestnut Oak’s Drummer Boy, Claudia Channing’s 2007 Shire gelding (Clononeen Romantic Traveler x Steege’s Beth), remain on their score of 25.0 for second place, followed closely by Sophie Mueller of Colorado and 24Karat Magic, Dawn Holmes’ 2011 Australian Stock Horse gelding by Icewood’s Cadabra, on a score of 29.6.

Junior Beginner Novice

Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

When the dressage leader of the Junior Beginner Novice division ran into some trouble on cross country, Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin were ready to step into the lead with a double clear round. Miller and her own 2011 Thoroughbred gelding (Compromise x Leona’s Hope) sit on a score of 29.1 heading into show jumping.

Miller does not have a rail in hand tomorrow, which spells some pressure in the final phase: “Going into tomorrow my goal is just to trust him; he’s going to do great!”

“Both CHP and the AEC are amazing!” said Miller, who is from Texas. “My dressage test was okay. I didn’t think that it was the greatest, but, he’s just Melvin. He’s a good boy! I liked the cross country course. I thought it was pretty straight forward. It rode like it walked. There were some spots that he was green, but I just gave him a push and we got over it.”

Sitting on a 30.3 and in a tie for second are Californian Maya Pessin and This Bird, her own 2009 Thoroughbred gelding, and Texan Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix, her own 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Nabab de Reve x Untouchable).

Beginner Novice Rider

Tricia Leslie and Inate Dignity. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Beginner Novice Rider was one of five divisions that were not able to complete yesterday due to the weather, so the riders performed their dressage tests this morning before setting out on cross country this afternoon. Tricia Leslie of Colorado and her own Inate Dignity, a 2006 Thoroughbred gelding (Subordination x Indygo), held the lead following dressage on 23.3 and added nothing to their score on cross country.

As show jumping is their toughest phase, Leslie has a plan for success for tomorrow. “Our Achilles heel is the stadium phase!” she confided. “The plan is to just make sure that he’s really in front of my leg and to give him as much support as he needs. It’s kind of a fine line, so I hope we are able to find that for him so I’m not pushing too hard. He’s a good boy.”

“You never know [how your test is going to to],” said Leslie, “so when I came out I was like, ‘Gosh, that felt very good.’ It went better than I expected. Going into cross country, I didn’t want to get it over with, so I was totally ready to go. The course was pretty straightforward, so there weren’t any big surprises.”

Fifth-placed Liz Reilman and her own Diamondexpectation, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding (Valid Expectations x Appeasement), moved up to second place on their dressage score of 29.8 following cross country. Sixth-placed Sarah Sousa and Black Tye Affair, her own 2002 Thoroughbred gelding (Haymarket x Gone Lady), also jumped up the leaderboard into third-place on 31.5 after putting in a double clear round.

Beginner Novice Amateur

Cami Pease and Vibrant. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Washington D.C.’s Cami Pease and her own Vibrant, a 2000 Belgian Warmblood gelding, dominated the Beginner Novice Amateur division today and lead on a score of 24.5. They have a rail in hand heading into show jumping tomorrow. 

“Cross country was really good,” said Pease, “really fun, big, open, nicely set up and well designed. Gorgeous scenery. He was bold, confident, and positive. That’s what I wanted.”

Looking to the final phase of competition, Pease just hopes to successfully maneuver the track. “Show jumping is actually my favorite phase,” she said. “That’s where I’m most comfortable and cross country is where I’m most nervous. I’m the opposite of most eventers. Now I feel like the hard part is over. Tomorrow I’ll go in the ring and just go around. Sit up and put your leg on, that’s all you have to do.”

Kelly Green of Texas piloted her own Woodstock Classic Rock, a 2009 Thoroughbred gelding (Rock Slide x Sally Q), to second place on a score of 28.5, while California resident Nikki Lloyd and Wil’ya Dance, a 2012 Hanoverian gelding (Wild Dance x Paloma Paz), sit third on a 29.3.

More to come tomorrow!

[2018 USEA American Eventing Championships Presented by Nutrena® Feeds Crown First Divisional Winners at The Colorado Horse Park]

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AEC Cross Country Instagram Roundup: A Video Is Worth 1,000 Pictures

AEC’s Friday 🐎🐎🐎🐎 #teamequites #teamequitesaec

A post shared by Equites Riding club (@equites.riding.club) on

Can’t wait for AEC helmet cams to start showing up! Have one? Send the link our way at [email protected] 

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, is a video worth 1,000 pictures? Mmmmm. However that measures out, cross country is much too dynamic to capture in a photo. Here are a few of your Instagram videos from the run-and-jump phase of #AEC2018 at the Colorado Horse Park!

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In case you were feeling particularly athletic today. #aec2018 #crosscountryjumping

A post shared by Natasha Daigle (@natasha.m.daigle) on

Good boy today!!

A post shared by Samantha Hollow-Bist (@gallopfarm) on

Running into September like… 👉🏼🏃🏼‍♀️ #AEC18

A post shared by Kimberlyn Beaudoin (@k_t_beaudoin) on

Go Eventing.

AEC Not-Quite-Live Updates: Jr. Beginner Novice XC Faceoff Showdown

What’s this Burghley live stream garbage? I’m ready for AEC Jr. Beginner Novice cross country!

Move over Burghley, it’s time for Jr. Beginner Novice cross country at the American Eventing Championships! This is the division to watch, as the country’s most formidable junior riders face off over the toughest yellow numbered jumps in the land.

Yesterday was intense, with lightning storms thrice interrupting Jr. Beginner Novice dressage with lengthy holds and ultimately postponing the remainder of the division until this morning. Riders were forced them to reevaluate their warmup gameplans on the fly and roll with the punches. Clearly, these kids are packing ice in their veins. Can they keep it up through cross country? We’re about to find out!

1:58 p.m.: Our first pair, Erin Roane and Beau Tie, is on course. Let’s do this thing, y’all!

2:01 p.m.: Drama! We have falls from two of the first four riders out, Erin Roane and Gracie Friend. Gracie’s mount, Feature Presentation, has left her for dead at fence #9 and is now on a mission to return to his nice, cozy stall ASAP, galloping lanes be darned.

Loose horse! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rope in the air, don’t care. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Challenging poor Mackenzie Lowe and Addie Okie, who have just crossed the finish line, to a foot race. Don’t take the bait, Addie Okie! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

And on into the spectator section … Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… with 60 feet of line and stakes in tow. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:08 p.m.: Phew! We’re just glad nobody got hurt and the horse checked out OK. Onward and upward. Meanwhile, Maggie Morris and Trump Lion have posted the first double-clear round of the division, followed by McKenzie and Addie Okie. Hayley Hayden and Lady Black Hawk pick up a couple stops at fence #7, the ditch, but finish strong. Hayden Brown and California Girl pick up 20 at #9, the water.

The game-faced duo of Emma Franklin and Teddybear spring forth out of the box …

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… and come home triumphant!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tell us about your super round on your superstar pony, Emma:

2:10 p.m.: Another clear round from Shaeleigh O’Brien and A Beautiful Promise.

Big pats! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:12 p.m.: Ingrid Hofmeister and Berklee pick up 20 at fence #8, the Wiggly Rails, which several horses are giving the side-eye. They look great at the finish, big smiles and braids a-flying

Is that a dark storm cloud in the distance?

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:14 p.m.: Jr. Beginner Novice cross country is a great place to pick up turnout tips that are fashionable yet functional, like this electrical tape wrapped neck strap sported by Sophia Hardesty and San Marco. This pair goes on to come home double-clear.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:16 p.m.: Ava Cunningham and Johnny’s Private Collection look solid from start to finish.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:18 p.m.: The Wiggly Rails claim another victim in Riley Croft and Gallod Welsh Fashion, who have a stop there.

2:20 p.m.: Avery Daigle and FR’s Check It Out Now are pretty in pink …

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… and you can deduce how their run went from this photo of their cheer squad:

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:22 p.m.: Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin look confident and steady around the course. (Don’t tell them we told you this, but in the future they’re going to move into the lead.)

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:26 p.m.: Both Ashley Smith with Oaxaca and Anna Santy with Balligomingo find the finish line with no jump faults.

2:28 p.m.: Maya Pessin and This Bird come home clear!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Love her flash black and gold cross country colors. Yes, duct tape comes in gold apparently!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:30 p.m.: P.S. American Girl, a 25-year-old Pinto ridden by Emma Sletten, is making a huge comeback after earning the Jr. Training AEC reserve championship in 2008 with owner Madeline Backus — who was 12 at the time! When Madeline outgrew P.S. American Girl she began riding P.S. Ariana, her future four-star horse. Happy 10-year AEC homecoming, P.S. American Girl! You look 25 years young out there.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:32 p.m.: Kendall Miller and King’s Ransom set out on course, but they’ll be the last to head out before officials spot lightning and send everybody back to the barn. Deja vu! Not again!!!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2:45 p.m.: In the downtime, we flag down Maya Pessin and make her recap her great ride. (She doesn’t know this yet, but her double-clear will move her from a tie for 3rd after dressage into a tie for 2nd!)

2:55 p.m. We then spot dressage leader Emily Hedberg and Mr. Mile High, who are waiting out the lighting hold.

4 p.m.: Finally, we have the greenlight to continue on! Game on. Adriana Cuellar and Ipso Facto leave the box …

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:02 p.m.: … followed by Ruth Mock and Wodie. Both come home clear.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:04 p.m.: Anita Hawkes’ Silver Charm, the only Arabian in the division, caught my eye in the warm-up. Those pointy little ears! I just want to put them in my mouth and eat them. (I wouldn’t actually do that, Anita. Probably.)

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tail flagged the whole way around, they made short work of the course.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:06 p.m.: Dressage leaders Emily Hedberg and Mr. Mile High are next up. They pick up a couple stops along the way — bummer!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:08 p.m.: There are couple of paints in the division, including Paige Borylo’s Talisker. What a cute face!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:10 p.m.: A lovely round for Kathryn Macomber and Gabe’s Gold!

4:12 p.m.: Tatum Gray had best smile of the division, and she wore it all the way around her course with Reds Loyal Flame, who had the best ear bonnet!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

 4:14 p.m.: Lauren Garcia is looking good on Park Avenue III.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:16 p.m.: Just three more to go! Ella Robinson gets it done on Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix, which will move her into a tie for 2nd place.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

4:20 p.m.: And our last two Jr. Beginner Novice competitors, Natalie Nabor with Lonely Soldier and Alexis Ehrlich with Poncho, come home clear!

Natalie Nabor and Lonely Soldier. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Job well done to all!

Here are your Jr. Beginner Novice top 10 after cross country:

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Go Eventing.

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Tamie Smith and Mai Baum Are Kids in a Candy Shop on AEC Advanced Cross Country

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Nobody looked more thrilled to leave a cross country startbox this morning than Mai Baum. With Tamie Smith in the pilot seat, he tackled every obstacle with air to spare and the expression of a child on Christmas morning tearing through presents. They turned in the speediest round of the division, collecting just 1.6 time penalties to maintain their lead in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final here at the 2018 American Eventing Championships.

As we mentioned in our Thursday dressage report, Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell’s 12-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano x Ramira) has had just three runs on account of a run of bad luck and injury since winning the Fair Hill CCI3* in 2015. You wouldn’t have known it from watching them today, though — the pair was looked full of running … and sass. Five or so superfluous tempi changes on the approach to 6AB, the open oxer to corner combination where I was sitting, created an optical illusion that he was giddily hop-skipping along. Just being extra!

“I literally wanted to cry going through the finish flag,” Tamie says. “It’s been such a long patient road to get him back to this level. He was unbelievable. He’s the best horse in the world, and I’m just so fortunate to be sitting on him. I was chancy out there, I was cutting turns and lines to save time so that I didn’t have to go so fast. I got him to one jump and asked for a big one, and he just took off and was like ‘I got you mom.’ It felt so good to have him back.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The top three positions remained unchanged after today’s cross country test. Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, Barbara and Gary Linstedt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro x Annabelle), held fast to second. The pair looked foot-perfect despite losing a shoe in the warm-up, which they managed to get tacked back on with only a few moments of delay. They picked up 4 time faults to finish the day on a 31.5, just 3.5 points — less than a rail — behind Tamie and Mai Baum’s 28.0.

Jordan Lindstedt and Revitavet Capato. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tamie also sits third on Fleeceworks Royal, Judith McSwain’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol), who came home with 11.6 time penalties. Tamie is on fire this week: Additionally, she leads the Prelim Horse championship with Fleeceworks Ghost, with whom she jumped a fault-free country country round this morning, as well as the Novice Horse championship with MB MaiStein.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Two more Advanced pairs managed Tremaine Cooper’s course with no jumping difficulties: Emily Libby and Jakobi, her own and Linda Libby’s 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ustinov x Expression, by Coriano), had 16.4 time penalties to move from 5th to 4th.

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Braitling and Soaring Bird, Andrea Baxter’s 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, had 22 time penalties to move from 6th to 5th.

Rebecca Braitling and Soaring Bird. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Kim Liddel and Eye of the Storm picked up 20 at fence 10AB, the water, but rallied to finish strong. The second element of the open oxer to corner combination at 6AB solicited a runout from both Alexa Ehlers with Amistoso and Andrea Nielsen and LC O’Shawnisee. Alexa retired after a second runout at 10AB; Andrea was eliminated after another couple stops two fences later at 8AB, a steeply angled rolltop combination. Ellen Doughy-Hume and Sir Oberon were initially scored in the dressage but subsequently eliminated by the ground jury for unsoundness. That leaves a total of six horses to start show jumping tomorrow.

Alexa Ehlers and Amistoso. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Advanced standings after cross country:

Much more to come. Go Eventing!

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Rain on Our Parade: All the Friday AEC Action That Didn’t Get Stormed Out

Hayden Brown and California Girl lead Jr. Beginner Novice dressage with another two-thirds of the division still to go. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The last sound you want to hear in the middle of your dressage test is the judge urgently ringing a bell, but in the case of Jr. Beginner Novice rider Ava Cunningham, it wasn’t because she’d gone off course. She was being rung out of the ring because an order had just come down from show management for all riders to dismount and proceed to the barn immediately, even if they were in the middle of a test.

For poor Ava and several other riders, it was the third time they’d been sent back to the barns; after two warmups terminated by holds for lightning, she’d finally made it up the centerline and then … ding-ding-ding! An ominous incoming storm was the final straw, forcing all remaining Friday competition to be postponed until Saturday.

We eventers are champions at rolling with the punches, though, and we wish Ava a happy rematch tomorrow. Let’s hear it for all our Jr. Beginner Novice competitors, in fact! They’re an inspiration, perhaps still too young and fresh to be saddled with all the neurotic garage we heap upon ourselves as adults.

Take, for instance, Mackenzie Lowe and Addie Oakie. Addie did not like that judge’s box. Not. One. Bit. Refused to go near that cursed devil hut before their test.

Addie Oakie: “Are those aliens in there? DEFINITELY ALIENS. Grab mane, mom, Imma get us out of here.” Photo by Leslie Wylie.

But Mackenzie just kept breathing and rode him quietly through it, and once she got him in the ring he mostly forgot about the aliens and was all business.

Mackenzie Lowe and Addie Okie. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We caught up with Mackenzie after her ride to ask what was going through her head:

Well-played, Mackenzie! Gracie Friend was another rider who did a pro job of soothing her horse’s nerves:

Jr. Beginner Novice is the largest AEC division, and only about a third of the competitors squeezed their tests in before the storm delay. Best of luck to the rest of the field tomorrow! Click here for the new schedule and here for new ride times.

Only four of the eight Novice and Beginner Novice divisions scheduled to tackle dressage today were completed before the competition suspension; Novice Amateur, Junior Novice, Beginner Novice Amateur and Beginner Novice Horse all wrapped up dressage today, and there are still four riders to go in Beginner Novice Rider, 10 to go in Novice Rider, 20 to go in Junior Beginner Novice, and all of the Novice Horse competitors.

Meanwhile over at cross country, a full day of action was scheduled for Training, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced divisions, but mother nature intervened. Only Training and three of the four Preliminary divisions had their chance to leave the start box on Tremaine Cooper’s cross-country course (check out a virtual preview here). The remaining Preliminary division, Intermediate and Advanced will now go cross country on Saturday morning. Preliminary will show jump on Saturday, while Intermediate and Advanced will Show Jump on Sunday morning. Click here for the revised schedule.

Here’s a roundup of the day’s action, with quotes from the leaders of each division! Many thanks to the good-looking, hardworking media folks at USEA and Colorado Horse Park for making such comprehensive coverage possible.

Jr. Novice

Julia Brittain and Haiku. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

In the lead after dressage: Julia Brittain and Haiku, her own 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Sir Donnerhall, on a 29.2.

On their partnership: “I got him almost two years ago. I introduced him to eventing, so it’s a big deal to be here. We switched barns a year ago, and my partnership with him hasn’t been as smooth as I would have liked, but we’re definitely on an upward trajectory at this point.”

Her cross country plan: “Not take any of the jumps for granted. Cross country and dressage are probably our strongest phases. I just need to ride him forward and strong and straight, especially to the combinations.”

On their heels: Miriam Copeland and her own D’Stinctive, an 11-year-old Friesian gelding (Diederik x Rippin And Snortin), are 2nd on a score of 29.2. Blake Foley and Judicial Review, Ellen Doughty-Hume’s 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are 3rd on a 31.8.

Top three after dressage: 

Novice Amateur

Erin Contino and Handsome Ransom. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

In the lead after dressage: Erin Contino and Handsome Ransom, her 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding  (Desert Warrior x St. Casmir’s Secret), on a score of 25.8.

On their test: “Yesterday in my warmup ride he was obedient but tight and definitely a little distracted,” said Contino. “He was just a bit more reactive than I wanted him. But today when I got on him, I felt him take a deep breath. I rode a little ahead of my scheduled time, the horse in front of me must have scratched. I debated waiting for my time because he was still a little bit up. But I decided to use that to my advantage to keep him a bit brighter and to come up with a bigger test than I normally do. It could have backfired, but it didn’t.”

On the Colorado resident’s first AEC: “It’s nice that it’s here. We’re really excited. We figured we had better take advantage of that!”

On their heels: Michelle Meghrouni and Swizzle, a 7-year-old Holsteiner mare (Blauer Vogel x Swiss Detail), are 2nd on a score of 27.0. with Lorilee Hanson and Hypnotik, her own 7-year-old Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding Hypnotik (Montego Bay x Trelawny), are 3rd on a 27.5.

Top three after dressage: 

Beg. Novice Amateur

Cami Pease and Vibrant. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

In the lead after dressage: Cami Pease and Vibrant, her own 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Orlando x Fatima Van De Heffenk), on a score of 24.5.

On their test: “We have been working really hard on dressage. I want to do the dressage regionals this year. I just wanted to go in and be positive; he felt really good. I was a little bit surprised by the score. There were a couple of moments that I thought could have been improved, but that’s always true. He was great. Last year at the AEC he was kind of spooky in the ring; Tryon is kind of a big atmosphere. It was nice that the Horse Park let us get them acclimated and get in the rings. He was great, focused and happy.”

On the cross country course: “It looks great! It looks really fun. I love that it’s galloping and there are open fields with plenty of space to get into a rhythm. The fences look incredible. It looks like a lot of fun. It’s an incredible backdrop, the sky is huge out here! You can see for miles.”

On their heels: Sherry Pound and Gestalt, her 6-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (Gloriosus x Celine), are 2nd on a 27.4. Meagan Counts and Aviator, her own 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding, are 3rd on 27.5 penalties.

Top three after dressage: 

Beg. Novice Horse

Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

In the lead after dressage: Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer, her own 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rascalino x Hauptstutbuch Wincenta 2), on a 27.4.

On their test: “Our test today was good. I’m pleased with him. He was really obedient, which was good. But with that said, he was also pretty fresh. Yesterday we schooled, and that went great. He’s just a really happy dude. The whole point of me eventing him is just for him to learn to enjoy working. I got him for that reason. Today he just seemed really happy, and I’m happy for that reason. He was really steady and did everything I asked of him. He threw in a little porpoise-like move, having way too much fun with himself. I’m just happy that he was having fun the whole time. He’s super rideable.”

On their plan for the weekend: “My plan will be to go out there and get it done, but, I’m merely here to have fun. I just want my horse to have a really good time. I’m going to be the ridiculous person, patting him. Doing all of the things that I don’t do with the other horses. But I want him to go out and have a good time and be confident and come home confident. That’s the whole point.”

On their heels: Taylor Lindsten and Claudia Channing’s Chestnut Oak’s Drummer Boy, an 11-year-old Shire gelding (Clononeen Romantic Traveler x Steege’s Beth), are 2nd on a score of 28.1. Sophie Mueller and Dawn Holmes’ 24Karat Magic, a 7-year-old Australian Stock Horse gelding by Icewood’s Cadabra, are 3rd on a 29.6.

Top three after dressage: 

Junior/Young Rider Preliminary

Madelyn Floyd and Clementine lead the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Madelyn Floyd and her own Clementine, a 9-year-old Hanoverian mare (Carrico x La Belle), on a score of 29.5.

On their run: “The course rode great. My mare was super good, and I was really happy with the overall performance. This is our first year doing the full Preliminary level, so I have been really proud of her. She was super bold and confident to everything, and just gave me a nice overall feel. I just came off of the Intermediate at Woodside which gave me some preparation, it was a bit big but it was a competitive track and I enjoyed it. She and I both love cross-country!”

On having the AECs close-ish to home (Madelyn lives in Washington): “I’ve never been here to CHP before and this is my first AEC. It was really exciting for me, because I couldn’t have made it to the East Coast with school and stuff, so I was very happy to find out it was coming to the Midwest.”

On their heels: Camryn Holcomb and Michaela Holcomb’s Cloud Nine, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are 2nd on a 32.7. Callia Englund and her own Xyder, an 8-year-old Cheval Canadien gelding (D D D-Cromwell Prince 2 I x Cosyland Start Kandi), sit 3rd on a 42.3.

Top three after cross country: 

Preliminary Horse

Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Ghost. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Ghost, Judith McSwain’s 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse/Belgian Warmblood mare  (Shannondale Sarco x Riverlon Mist), on their dressage score of 29.0.

On their run: “I wasn’t sure how the time was going to run. We metered it and it was pretty right on, so I figured that the time wouldn’t be super hard to make, but it actually was hard to make, and the course rode a lot more tough than I had anticipated. That mare is pretty experienced and she had her eyes open. I had to ride. All the questions were fair. I thought it presented itself very well. It’s a championship. It should be at the top of the level. I thought Tremaine [Cooper] did a great job with the design. It was very much a championship course.”

On their show jumping plan: “She’s a good jumper, I’m really happy to be on her going into day three. I mean, she can occasionally have a rail. She tries really hard and she’s a good jumper, so I’m hoping that it works out great.”

On their heels: Gina Economou and Syntax, Lauren Rath’s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Devil His Due x Synful Maid), on a score of 30.4. Smith also rounds out the top three on the MB Group LLC’s MB MaiBlume, an 8-year-old German Sport Horse/Thoroughbred gelding (Sir Schiwago x Free Lady), on their dressage score of 31.9.

Top three after cross country:

Preliminary Amateur

Erin Hofmann and Darkwatch. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Erin Hofmann and her own Darkwatch, a 2008 Thoroughbred gelding (Royal Academy x Without), on their dressage score of 32.4.

On their run: “Our cross country run today was really good. I was a little nervous at the beginning, but my horse is really bold and likes a good galloping course so it was a good fit for him. It was a lot of fun, and it rode really well.”

On competing at the AEC: “I was at the very first AEC as a volunteer, but this is my first AEC as a competitor. It’s so nice to be here, and to have this in our home court is a dream. We love coming here, it’s a great facility and a great event.”

On their heels: Julia Spatt and her own 5o1 Macintosh, an 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, are 2nd, having collected 0.8 time penalties for a score of 35.1. Darlene McInnes and her own Speed Bump, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Pomeroy x Everdream), are in 3rd on a 35.5.

Top three after cross country: 

Junior Training

Eva Jacroux and Rubel. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Eva Jacroux and Rubel, a 12-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Radikal x When the Worlds Unite), on a 31.4.

On their run: “Rue was really good today. We were a little sticky in warm up, but as soon as we got out there it was fun! Today I really went out with the goal to not pick up any time faults, so I worked on going a little more forward than I normally do. He was good and seemed to like being pushed a bit more. All of the jumps seemed friendly, but there were some tricky questions in there, which is what this is all about.”

On her plan for show jumping: “It’s always been the toughest phase for us, so tomorrow I want to make sure that I do my job to the best of my ability, so that he can try his hardest for me too. Hopefully it’ll work out!”

On their heels: Rosie Smith and her own Seamus, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Corrcullen, RID are 2nd on a 33.8. Sunny Courtwright and Around Midnight, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, sit in 3rd on a score of 34.3.

Top three after cross country: 

Training Horse

Lizzy Jahnke and Patrickswell Royal. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Lizzy Jahnke and Patrickswell Royal, Lightspeed Equestrian LLC’s 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Royal Storm x Rahard Sally), moved up from fourth to first place with a total score of 33.6.

On the mare: “She’s six this year, and she’s for sale. We imported her last year with the idea of a resale. We got her out of Ireland and she’s been with me for about a year and a half now. I click well with her. She’s lovely, super sweet, and a really nice horse.”

Of the day’s cross country course: “I thought it was a really nice course. Definitely the biggest course this mare has ever jumped – she’s super young. It was a challenge, but fair. It was beautifully decorated, and they made really good use of the terrain. I thought everything rode really well.”

On their heels: McKenzie Rollins moved into second place with Excel Star Lord, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Non-Stop x Korea B), with a 34.9. Marc Grandia aboard Michelle Jones’ Command N’ Rule, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are 3rd on a score of 35.5 penalties.

Top three after cross country: 

Training Amateur

Linda Quist and Belle Gambe. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Linda Quist and Belle Gambe, her 14-year-old Iberian Warmblood mare  (Temerario VII x Mojave), on their dressage score of 27.3.

On the course: “I thought it was a very fun course, and my horse was a rockstar. It just flowed really nicely, one thing came to you after the next. The big jumps were big, but nothing too hard to handle!”

On their plan for tomorrow: “Going into tomorrow, I’m just going to try really hard to leave all of the rails up. She likes show jumping, but she wants to jump stadium like it’s cross country, so it’s our tough spot.”

On their heels: Cherye Huber and her own Sam I Am, a 12-year-old British Sport Horse gelding (Cameo’s Reflection x Castle War Rebel), moved up from 5th to 2nd place with 30.2 penalties. Dawn Robbins and her own Diablo Tejano, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Sandpit x Soar Like An Eagle), also jumped up the leaderboard from 9th into 3rd on a 31.1.

Top three after cross country: 

Training Rider

Tracy Alvez and Romulus. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In the lead after cross country: Tracy Alvez and Romulus, her own 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango x Divottii), overtook the lead and move forward on a score of 26.8.

On their four-year partnership: “We’ve only had one solid year of showing because we had two years of quarter cracks and other things that we were dealing with. This is our first year back, but it’s also his retirement year so today was our final competitive cross country together. I’d like him to dabble in some dressage moving forward, but I won’t be doing the cross country with him, because I’ve just found that the conditioning for it can take a toll on him.”

On his favorite phase: “People tend to think that his strongest phase is dressage because he has a good education, but his favorite phase is cross country. Yesterday he was really quiet in the warm-up, and I thought ‘oh man, he’s behind my leg and I’m in trouble!’ when we got in the ring and started going around, he got way more excited. He turns into quite a showman.”

On their heels: Rebecca Mortensen and her own Seattle Freckles, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are 2nd on a 28.8. Jessica Maranto and Czardus, an 11-year-old American Warmblood gelding (Sweet’s Lucky Moondancer x Cadence), are 3rd on a 32.8.

Top three after cross country: 

If you thought that was a long event report, just imagine how much longer if could have been if half the day hadn’t gotten postponed. Tomorrow is going to be a monster — get ready!

Go Eventing.

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AEC Friday Instagram Roundup: Riders of the Storm

You know that saying, “I could see it coming from a mile away?” Well, you could see this storm coming from maybe the next state over. Ominous clouds, dramatic lightning, booming thunder … it was actually pretty neat to watch unless, of course, you were a rider waiting to do your dressage test or start cross country. Then it was just a bummer.

After a couple holds, Friday’s competition was halted mid-afternoon to be continued Saturday. We’ll be along soon with our daily report, and of course we’ll update you with regard to the revised schedule when it’s posted! In the meantime here are a few snapshots from the day:

How we feel about lightning delay. #rbf

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So this happened ⚡️

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Rain hold at the AEC's #aec2018 #eventingnation #pouringrain

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Thunder, lightning, and rain!! #colorado #imissthis

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Welcome to Colorado 🌩 . . . #aecs #americaneventingchampionships #coloradohorsepark

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Kross Kountry Will Make You Jump Jump: AEC Cross Country Course Preview

I woke up this morning to Tilly Berendt’s dressage headline from Burghley, “Guess Who’s Back, Back Again – Townend’s Back, to Defend,” and while I don’t even know how to compete with that, I see it and raise her this 1992 Kriss Kross lyric reference. Your move, Tillz.

Indeed, kross kountry cross country kicks off here today at the American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena, with Training level underway to be followed by Prelim, Intermediate and Advanced this afternoon.

We had a stroll around the courses, all designed by Tremaine Cooper with assistance from builder Travers Schick. The first thing that jumps off the page is the terrain, which is quite rolling and thus a significant change from the last two years at Tryon. Upper and lower level horses alike will need to be fit, as even the Festival Introductory division horses must negotiate legit hills.

The event crew has been working day and night on the footing, and their effort has paid off. Tamie Smith, who leads Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced dressage with Mai Baum and is 3rd with Fleeceworks Royal, remarked yesterday, “I just got done from walking the course and they’ve aerated it and gone over it again and now they’re watering it and it feels great. The track is very good. It’s not overly technical, but technical enough, and it’s big. I think Tremaine Cooper did a super job. The design and the fences are beautiful.”

Each division gets off to a galloping start before encountering their first combinations, which arrive at #4 for Prelim through Advanced, #5 for Beginner Novice through Training, and the Adequan Water is about halfway around each course. There’s plenty to do out there but it looks horse-friendly and the wide open track is prime real estate for kicking on.

The coolest jump award goes to fence #18A on the Prelim course, which is followed by a drop on a bending line to a rolltop C element. We’ll let Training Amateur competitor Marina Bynum model it:

A set of real live antlers were spotted on course by Prelim Amateur competitor Jeanine Allred:

Thirsty critter #aec2018 #eventingnation

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Nature! Pretty cool.

You can take a virtual course walk of all the AEC courses at CrossCountryCourse App here, or check ’em out below!

Advanced

Intermediate

Preliminary

Training

Novice

Beginner Novice

Get on out there and jump, jump! Go Eventing.

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Tamie Smith & Maui Baum Lead AEC Advanced Dressage + Thursday Leader Quotes

Training through Advanced divisions were our trailblazers today here at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena, with 10 championship divisions taking their turns in the rectangle. It’s a lot to take in, but with the help of our hardworking friends at USEA and the Colorado Horse Park here’s a rather massive roundup of the day’s action!

Advanced

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

All eyes were on the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final, the last division of the day to start, and we were all cheering for the very last pair up the centerline: Tamie Smith and the striking black Mai Baum.

We haven’t seen much of Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell’s 12-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano x Ramira) since his memorable Fair Hill International CCI3* win in 2015, with a run of injury and bad luck to blame. After recovering from a mild strain sustained at Fair Hill, his return to competition was further delayed when he contracted an infection in his gut and then, on his way home from an event, fell and injured a leg, which necessitated more time off.

Now officially back in action, he entered the AEC with just three outings under his belt since Fair Hill: two in 2017 and one Intermediate this summer at Twin Rivers. Not much rust there to scrape off so far as we can tell! After putting on quite a show in the warm-up (“Just lemme at it already, mum!”) Mai Baum channeled his energy into an expressive, buyant test. Their score of 26.4 gives them the early Advanced lead — Tamie brings us up to speed on their comeback.

On bringing Mai Baum back: “Dr. Rantanen and Dr. Martinelli at California Equine Orthopedics have this high-powered laser, there are only a handful in the world, and we decided that since he was going to have time off that we would do the laser on the leg he strained at Fair Hill, and that gave us even more time. We’ve been bringing him back slowly. He had that time off, so it’s taken quite a while to get him fit and strong, but he feels fit and strong now.”

On today’s exuberant dressage: “He was completely wild today. (‘Well, he likes to run and jump!’ chimes in Eric Markell.) He smiles when he runs cross country. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do in the ring and he was strong, not listening to my half-halts and flinging his legs. I think he was very happy to be on a stage like that. I picked up the canter and went around the ring and I couldn’t help but smile. He’s so special and he’s such a showman, it’s really fun.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

On that saucy lead change: “It’s hilarious when he’s naughty because it’s not often that he’s naughty. In my test I was doing my half-pass and then I went to go forward to do my change and he leapt in the air, kicked my right foot, and then bolted. And right after that came my stretchy circle so I didn’t even start it until it was too late. It was fun, but he was wild.” Markell adds, “When I was leaving I heard one man say to another, ‘That horse comes in the ring and takes it over with his personality.’”

On the cross country course: “They’ve done a tremendous job on the footing. They’ve been working all night and my hat goes off to the officials who have been very diligent about getting a plan. I just got done from walking the course and they’ve aerated it and gone over it again and now they’re watering it and it feels great. The track is very good. It’s not overly technical, but technical enough, and it’s big. I think Tremaine Cooper did a super job. The design and the fences are beautiful.”

On her strategy for tomorrow: “Phillip [Dutton] told me once that the challenge when you go out of the start box is to look slow but be fast. That’s my plan, just be efficient in the lines and be smooth and feel what the ground feels like and if it feels good then kick on and if it doesn’t just stay steady.”

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, Barbara and Gary Linstedt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro x Annabelle), sit in 2nd on a score of 27.5.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tamie is also 3rd place with Fleeceworks Royal, Judith McSwain’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol), on a score of 30.8.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

 

 Top 5 after dressage:

Intermediate

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. Photo by Leslie Wylie.Californians have a stronghold on the top of the Intermediate dressage scoreboard. We catch up with the dressage leader.

Leader: Heather Morris and The Team Express Group LLC’s Charlie Tango, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Shannondale Sarco St. Ghyvan x Our Queen Bee), on a score of 25.8.

On Charlie Tango’s career: “I actually imported ‘Chuck’ from Ireland when he was four so I’ve really had him since the beginning. He’s done some Advanced, we did drop him back down for AEC and for the remaining shows this year he’ll just do the CCI 2* level, then we’ll move him back up next year.”

On goals for the future: “He’s a pretty reliable horse. He’s quite good in the ring, quite accurate. I think I would like for it to be more expressive, so that’s what we’ll work toward in the shows this fall and focusing on just making it a little more rideable.”

On being in Colorado: “Being from the West Coast now, having the AEC here makes everything so much easier. I’m happy that this was out here because I love coming here. It’s great!”

On their heels: Erin Kellerhouse and her own Woodford Reserve, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tinarana’s Inspector x Laharns Laughton), sit 2nd on a 28.0. Bella Mowbray and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Earl x Laurena), round out the top three on a 30.5.

Top 5 after dressage:

Preliminary Amateur

Cara Lavigna and Carrick Diamond Duke Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Leader: Cara Lavigna and her own Carrick Diamond Duke, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Carrick Diamond Lad x Uskerty Barnaby), on a score of 31.1.

On her history with Carrick Diamond Duke: “I’ve had ‘Duke’ for three years. I got him as a five-year-old. He’s always been a fancy mover. He jumps really big and tries really hard. As he’s become older and more mature, watching his progression has been really fun and creating a bond has been cool. He really enjoys his cross country. We are currently learning how to put the pieces together because now that things are getting harder. We are developing our partnership. When he goes into the ring for show jumping and dressage, he knows his job, he perks up, he really likes to show off and that’s fun for both of us.”

On coming to Colorado: “Having the AEC here in Colorado is lovely,” she commented. “To only have to take one week off from work (she’s a school teacher), as opposed to more, that was nice. I’ve never been to the AEC, I’ve never been to a show in Colorado, so I was excited that it was so much closer!”

On their heels: Lauren Hoover and Atlanta, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vancouver x Philadelphia GHR), are 2nd on a 31.8. Ruth Bley and Rodrigue Du Granit, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Robin II Z x Delight Gree), are 3rd on a 31.9.

Top 5 after dressage:

Preliminary Horse

Jordan Linstedt and Staccato. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Leader: Jordan Linstedt and Staccato, Janine Jaro’s 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Stakkato x Certosa), on a score of 27.6.

On their test: “I didn’t feel like today was our very best but I was really happy with him. I was excited to see the leaderboard stay consistent throughout the morning. I was first in the ring, and I’m never normally in that position. You never know how the judging is going to be, and how that’ll carry on.”

On Staccato’s development: “He’s really been quite strong in all three phases recently,” Linstedt noted.”When I first got him, he was a challenging young horse, a bit of a late developer. He has really blossomed this past year so he’s been really fun to work with and produce. He’s stunning on the flat, very elegant, and puts in a good test.”

On their heels: Tamara Smith and Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Ghost, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Dhannondale Sarco x Riverlon Mist), sit 2nd on 29.0 penalties. In 3rd is Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet with R. Lawrence Sawyer’s BSP Tuxedo, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Apokalipsis x Stutbuch 1), on a score of 29.1.

Top 5 after dressage:

Preliminary Rider

Mike Huber and Calliope. Photo by USEA.

Leader: Mike Huber and Calliope, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Consul x Clintina) owned by Ann Adams, on a score of 25.7.

On his connection with the horse: “The horse is one that I ride for a client of mine,” stated Huber, “Ann Adams normally rides the horse and I don’t ride her that frequently. Ann is getting ready to move up to Preliminary and she’s been riding Calliope in Training level, so I’ve taken her out a few times at this level this year and obviously qualified for the AEC; so we are competing here this weekend.”

On the benefits of having the AEC in the Midwest: “It’s always hard to find an AEC location that is good for everyone and you’re not going to, because it’s such a big event and we live in a big country. We’re kind of lucky. We’re from Texas so we are right in the middle, so it’s usually pretty doable! I think it’s great to have it out here, so the people who may not be able to go all the way to the East Coast finally get a chance to participate.”

On their heels: Whitney Tucker Billeter and her own Karvaleo, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kanna x Finod Cavalier), sit 2nd on a 29.1. Travis Atkinson and his own Don Darco, a 9-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Damarco x Gong Lee), is in 3rd on a score of 31.1.

Top 4 after dressage:

Jr./Y.R. Preliminary

Charlotte Babbitt and 2 A.M. Photo by USEA.

Leader: Charlotte Babbitt and her own 2 A.M., a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Sheraton x Regina K), on a score of 23.3.

On their test: “He was very good today. He put in a very nice test. We’ve been working really hard recently. He’s had a bit of a rough go since [Rebecca Farm], so we’ve only had a couple of flat schools, but he’s trained and he really just wants to go in the arena and try really hard. That’s what he did. He knows his job and he went in and did his job. I’m super happy with him.”

On their year-and-a-half old partnership:“It was interesting, when I got him he wasn’t really my ride but he’s young so it was a very good experience for me, developing him into the horse I wanted him to be. It’s pretty cool now — he’s my exact ride. I love him to death and I couldn’t imagine having any other horse. It’s been a struggle, but with the help of my trainers Andrea [Pfeiffer] and Amber [Levine] I’ve been able to work with him. He’s pretty easy to work with. He’s a super nice horse and he just wants to learn and do well so it’s been really fun developing a partnership.”

On their plan for the rest of the season: “The plan right now is to do the CIC 1* at Woodside and the CCI 1* at Galway,” she said. “That’s our plan and we’ll take it day by day until then and see how it goes.”

On NAYC 2019: “We’ll see. I’ll definitely put my name in and we’ll see how his season starts next year and see how it goes.”

On their heels: Nicole Hatley and Flagmount’s Rebel, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse/Thoroughbred gelding (Flagmount’s Freedom x Devious Princess) owned by Clarissa Bliss, are in second place on a 27.8. Kaitlin Vosseller and her own Clear Approval, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding out of All Best Wishes is third with a score of 29.2.

Top 5 after dressage:

Training Amateur

Linda Quist and Belle Gambe. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Leader: Linda Quist and Belle Gambe, her own 14-year-old Iberian Warmblood (Temerario VII x Mojave), on a score of 27.3.

On their performance: “With today’s test, I think I rode it well, I think she rode it well. There were a few spots where I kept thinking ‘oh my gosh, we need to do better!’ Apparently, we did good enough though, as we have the leading score for today! I’m definitely excited about that, this has been a dream.”

On their partnership: “My horse is amazing. I’ve had her since she was born, so we have an incredible partnership. She’s my friend, she’s another mare and we connect like a pair of girlfriends. Sometimes we argue, sometimes things go great, sometimes they go not-so-great. She has her opinions, I have mine.”

On their Heels: Nikki Lloyd and Mighty Smart, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic x Ravenna) owned by Ruth Bley, are 2nd on a 28.2. Leslie LaBraque and Falkonet, her own 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are 3rd on a 28.4.

Top 5 after dressage:

Training Horse

McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Leader: McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord, her own six-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Non-Stop x Korea B), on a score of 28.5.

On their test: “He was great, but I was very nervous. He does very well in atmosphere and that helps calm me down. It’s surprising, because he just turned six in June, but he has never really given me any trouble. He shines in the dressage ring and he loves to get in there. He was a little bit fresh, so he got a little heavy in some places but he’s just so lovely and it’s really fun to ride him.”

On moving from Massachusetts to Los Angeles a few years ago: “I did a Google search barns outside of Los Angeles and I ended up at Mill Creek where I met Jennifer Johnson and she’s helped me all along since I brought Frankie in.”

On her partnership with “Frankie,” whom she imported from Ireland with the help of Courtney Cooper: “He came in as a four-year-old and we did a number of Novice [level events] and then moved up to Training. I think we’ll be ready to move up to Preliminary after this. I’ve really been wanting to take my time with him and make sure I’m not pushing him or rushing him. He’s so lovely. I didn’t want to put any pressure on him.”

On their heels: Tied for 2nd are Sam Kelly and Robinstown Ballivor, Copeland Farms’ nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Watermill Swatch x Coevers Dock), and Attila Rajnai and her own and Sara Mittleider’s Maximus de la Tombe, a six-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Esperanto van Paemel x Fidji de la Tombe), who both sit on 33.1.

Top 5 after dressage:

Training Rider

Kelsey Horn and Swingtown. Photo by the USEA.

Leader: Kelsey Horn and Swingtown, Swingtown Partners’ 6-year-old Oldenburg mare (Sagnol x Dynamica), on a 24.2.

On coming to Colorado from Oregon: “When we heard that the AEC was going to be in Colorado, we knew we had to aim for that. We wanted to participate, so having it at CHP made a huge impact on our ability to get here.”

On young horses and developing a string: “They’re just so fun to work with. Initially, I had a few clients purchase me a younger horse for Pinnacle Syndicate and then I just kind of collected some others that were younger. As they’ve gotten older I have this great string of horses coming up the line.”

Of her partnership with Swingtown: “I’ve been riding her since I broke her as a 3-year-old. She won the 4-Year-Old West Coast Event Championship in 2016, and then in 2017 she had a year off due to an injury. This season we are back at it and we did a couple of Novice events at the beginning of the season, bumped up to Training, and we will see where the rest of the year takes us!”

On their heels: Tracy Alves and her own Romulus, a 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango x Divottii), are 2nd on a 26.8. Rebecca Mortensen and Seattle Freckles, her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, round out the top three with a 28.8.

Top 5 after dressage:

Jr. Training

Eva Jacroux and Rubel. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Leader: Eva Jacroux and her own Rubel, a 12-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Radikal x When the Worlds Unite), on a score of 31.4.

On their relationship: “I got ‘Ru’ about two years ago and this is my second season on him. It did start off a bit rocky. He was way too much horse for me and I was a little worried whether or not I’d be able to ride him. I came from a push button ride, but I decided that I was going to try my hardest to make it work. I started doing a lot of ground work. I started going back to the basic and it seems to have really worked because he’s come into his own.”

On their test: “I really didn’t think this test went very well. Ru was a little tense and I was worried about whether or not I was going to be able to handle him, but it ended up being just fine. He was such a good boy, he paid attention to me and listened to what we’ve been working on.”

On cross country: “Dressage is probably his strongest phase, but he does seem to also love cross country. I’ve already walked the course and I think it’s going to be really fun!”

On their heels: Madison Santley and Excellence, her own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vaillant x Wolinda), sit 2nd with a 31.7. Rosie Smith and her own Seamus, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Corrcullen, RID, round out the top three on a 33.8.

Top 5 after dressage:

Phew. Much, much more to come. Go Eventing!

[2018 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena® Feeds Commence at The Colorado Horse Park]

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#AEC2018 Thursday Instagram Roundup: Dressage So Hard

The American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds is off and running here in Parker, Colorado. Well, hopefully not actually “running,” as that speed doesn’t score too terribly well with dressage judges.

The sandboxes were a flurry of activity today with more to come tomorrow, plus the start of cross country! Here are a few of your snapshots from the day:

Getting ready to start competing at #AEC #goteamtrinity

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Bacon studying for tomorrow. #aec18 #nofilter #colorfulcolorado #areaiveventing

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Prepping @kelsholmes and Squid! 💪🏻🤩

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Oh Frankfurt 😍 #AEC2018

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Go Eventing.

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#AEC2018 Wednesday Instagram Roundup: Welcome to Mile High Eventing

The eventers have landed at Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado! Many made lengthy, even days-long treks to get here, all for their hard-earned chance to contest the 2018 American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds.

With 18 AEC divisions, 450 starters and boatloads of cash and prizes at stake, it’s sure to be a thrill-a-minute sort of week. For now, though, it’s the calm before the storm: all around horses are being hand-grazed, schooled and settled in after long journeys.

The cross country course opens today at 3 p.m., and we’re sure competitors are itching to get out there and check out Tremaine Cooper’s handiwork! We’ll be back tomorrow with live coverage as the event unfolds. In the meantime, be sure to check out the USEA’s AEC Fast Facts for an overview of the championship event that lies ahead.

A few of your snapshots from #AEC2018!

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We made it!!!

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••• Even though he’s difficult more than half the time, he can always put a smile on my face❤️ • I’m not sure why I haven’t told you guys this yet but Saturday night Beau got injured at the barn we were staying at before we left for the horse park Monday. For those of you that follow me on Snapchat, you’d know this. I told most people he tried to jump a cross country jump out in the field because that’s what I assumed since I didn’t see it. Under further investigation we found out he ran through the fence. The fence at this barn was a wire fencing ( the fencing at home has wood and sort of like chicken wire), Beau didn’t see it and just when straight trough it ( it was dark). We know Beau can’t see the best in the dark but we didn’t think he’d run through the fence. The vet came out and wrapped him up Saturday night. Over the past few days he’s been healing nicely! There’s been no swelling and he hasn’t been lame. Only slightly short in his hind end, he worked out of that though for the most part last night. I walked him for an hour or so, maybe more, this morning and he looks fine! When I ride him in about an hour we will see how he is. As of right now we are still going to compete! Beau doesn’t seem to fazed by the incident and is still ready to work! The silver stuff on his legs are what’s covering all the cuts to help dry them up since they were superficial and didn’t need stitches ( thank God). More details will be in one of my vlogs! I’m just so thankful he didn’t seriously injure himself!

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Monique & Dickey soaking in the sunset 😍

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All settled in and chillin with my buddy Jakob. #AEC2018

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All settled in @coloradohorsepark for the #AEC2018 😍🐎🎉❤️

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Twinning with my favorite at American Eventing Championships

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#fauxmountains #allears #firstridedone #aec2018

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Go Eventing!

By the Numbers: AEC Jr. Beginner Novice

Erin Roane and her “quirky, fun and overly loving” OTTB Beau Tie are one of EN’s picks to dominate AEC Jr. Beginner Novice cross country. “The trip from Texas to Colorado was long, but we’re ready to compete!,” Erin says. “Me and Beau have definitely had our ups and downs, but it’s been enjoyable. This AEC we are shooting for top 10! And of course to have a good experience at our first AEC.” Photo by Troy Roane Photography (TroyRoanePhotography.com).

Move over, Advanced, with your fancy dressage tailcoats and show-boaty jumps. For one glorious week each year, we shove the Big Name Riders out of the limelight and focus instead on the cutthroat ranks of … Jr. Beginner Novice.

This year 31 of the country’s most formidable junior riders are facing off over the toughest yellow numbered jumps in the land right here in Parker, Colorado for the 2018 American Eventing Championships. The field is wide open but this much is certain: The competition will be fierce. When was the last time you finished an event on a score of 19.8? Yeah, insert crickets here. Yet that was the winning score from last year’s Jr. Beginner Novice 14 & Under championship, earned by Ashley Stout and Deo Volente.

Make no mistake — these kids are coming for us all, and we can’t wait to follow all the dramatic twists and turns of this year’s Jr. Beginner Novice showdown.

The Field

  • Jr. Beginner Novice and Jr. Beginner Novice 14 & Under are usually separate divisions, but for 2018 they have been combined into one mega-division.
  • Thoroughbreds far outnumber any other breed represented, but it’s a diverse field:

Shaeleigh O’Brien, a 13-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, is competing one of two Friesians in the division. She and A Beautiful Promise have been a partnership for a little over a year and have won two out of their last three events together. “I have an insanely close bond with my horse,” Shaleigh says. “This will be my first AECs and my goals are to finish clean and clear and have tons of fun.” Photo by Marcus Greene Photography.

  • We have three veteran AEC horses in the field. FR’s Check It Out, a 2009 bay Thoroughbred gelding owned and ridden by Avery Daigle, finished 17th at the 2016 AEC in the Training Amateur division with Emily Cox. Mr. Mile High, a 2008 chestnut Thoroughbred gelding owned by Heidi Hedberg and ridden by Emily Hedberg, finished 9th in the 2017 Training Rider championship with Alison Wilaby. P.S. American Girl, a 25-year-old Pinto ridden by Emma Sletten, is making a huge comeback after earning the Jr. Training AEC reserve championship in 2008 with owner Madeline Backus — who was 12 at the time! When Madeline outgrew P.S. American Girl she began riding P.S. Ariana, her future four-star horse. Happy 10-year AEC homecoming, P.S. American Girl!

Dressage Divas

The 2018 AEC is something of a homecoming for our dressage diva Emily Hedberg, age 12 from Maple Plain, Minnesota, and her horse Mr. Mile High (“Manning”). The OTTB was born in Colorado, thus his show name, with a barn name inspired by former Broncos QB Peyton Manning. “I am so excited to be competing in his home state and against some of the best riders in the U.S.,” Emily says. “I really just want to do my best to make everyone back home proud. Of course I’d love a ribbon, but I’m so happy and proud that I’ve made it this far at my age doing what I love to do and being with people who love horses as much as me. ” Photo courtesy of Emily Hedberg.

AEC Jr. Beginner Novice is sure to bring the heat in the sandbox. Leading dressage scores from the 14 & Under division for the past four years: 19.8 (2017), 26.5 (2016), 23.8 (2015), 23.5 (2014). Zing!

Eighteen out of this year’s 31 Jr. Beginner Novice entries have proven that they’re capable of scoring in the 20s, but three in particular have a track record of sub-25.0 tests which could give them the edge in Friday’s stiff competition:

  • Sophia Hardesty and San Marco, a 2010 bay Thoroughbred/Oldenburg gelding owned by Kim Hardesty, have won two out of their last three events together on their dressage score. The pair earned an impressive 21.9 at The Event at Skyline in May.
  • Emily Hedberg and Mr. Mile High, a 2008 chestnut Thoroughbred gelding owned by Heidi Hedberg, are coming in hot, having scored a 24.0 at Otter Creek earlier this month.
  • Maya Pessin and This Bird, her own 2009 chestnut Thoroughbred gelding, are on a tear, having scored a 25.20, 24.7 and 25.3 at their past three events.

Emma Franklin, age 13 from Smiths, Alabama, and Teddybear traveled 1,430 miles — a four-day journey — to contest the AEC. She and her 15.2-hand mount have been inseparable for almost five years; Emma bought him with 60 days under saddle from a hunter/jumper barn and the rest was history. The pair completed their first horse trial in September 2017, almost a year ago to the day. “Teddy has always had a lot of self confidence, we have taken our time bringing him along, and it has definitely paid off as he still has the sweetest puppy dog like personality,” Emma says. “Although this is his first year doing horse trials his confidence has really shined out on cross country! Teddy has had such a willing and sweet personality that I have been able to remain his only rider thru his competition career.” They’ve spent the last few months in dressage boot camp and are ready to shine this week: “Teddy is definitely the star of the relationship so this weekend will be all about how I manage him!” Photos courtesy of Emma Franklin.

Cross Country Machines

Seven horses in the field have never had a cross country jump penalty, and we don’t expect them to sully that spotless record this Saturday! Here are five who have shown consistency in the phase:

  • Emma Franklin and Teddybear, her own 2007 German Riding Pony/Dutch Warmblood gelding, have had double-clear cross country trips in their last eight outings.
  • Lauren Garcia and Park Avenue III, a 1998 dark bay Thoroughbred gelding owned by Ellen Doughty-Hume, have a clear cross country slate, and the horse has been double-clear cross country in all seven of its USEA events, winning the last two.
  • Natalie Nabor and Lonely Soldier, her own 2003 bay Thoroughbred gelding, only have four events under their belt but cross the finish flags without penalty each time.
  • Erin Roane and Beau Tie, her own 2005 chestnut Thoroughbred gelding, have collected only 0.4 time faults in eight cross country trips.
  • Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix, her own 2010 bay Dutch Warmblood gelding, are a fairly new partnership, but the horse has cross country mileage through Prelim and has never had a jump penalty.

Tatum Grey, age 17 from Hugo, Minnesota, says Reds Loyal Flame is strongest in the cross country phase — “She’s always incredibly confident and will zoom around the course” — but their fault-free show jumping track record is equally impressive. “Little Red” was originally intended to be part of their lesson horse program but was too young and green, so Tatum bought her and brought her along over the past three-and-a-half years. “She is incredibly quiet and will do whatever I ask,” Tatum says. “She will also eat anything you put in front of her — a blessing and a curse!” Photo by Merrick Studios Fine Art.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

It’s never over until it’s over in eventing. Who can we count on handle the pressure on show jumping day? Here are three who’ve never dropped a rail.

  • Tatum Grey and Reds Loyal Flame, her own 2011 chestnut Quarter Horse mare, have won two of their last four events, turning in double-clear cross country AND show jumping rounds each time.
  • Ingrid Hofmeister and Berklee, a 2010 chestnut/white Paint/Clydesdale gelding owned by Melinda Hofmeister, have yet to pick up a show jumping penalty in their three events together.
  • Maggie Morris and Trump Lion, her own 1997 black Irish Sport Horse gelding, are super jumpers across the board; in their five events together they’ve had no cross country jump penalties and turned in five double-clear show jumping performances.

PREDICTED WINNER: It’s anybody’s game! Best of luck to all!

Go Eventing.

AEC: WebsiteScheduleRide TimesEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

#EventerProblems Vol. 157 from Ecovet: Horse Balloons

Despite the heft of their bodies, horses certainly have a knack for gravity-defying feats. Check out the airtime on these two horse balloons…

Boggles the mind. As does much of their behavior. Here’s your weekly dose of #EventerProblems!

Go Eventing!

Weekend Winners: Town Hill, Loudoun Hunt, Shepherd Ranch, Caber, Archer, Stone Gate

Another great summer weekend of U.S. eventing is on the books, with six horse trials taking place around the country. There’s always something going on somewhere — ye olde Omnibus just keeps getting thicker and thicker.

Shout out to the Dani Sussman and Windchase Radiance, our lowest scoring finishers of the weekend! The pair posted a 20.5 to win the Novice A division at The Event at Archer.

And now, your weekend winners:

Town Hill Farm H.T. [Website] [Results]
Open Preliminary: Isabel Finemore & Rutherglen (22.4)
Preliminary Championships: Alice Roosevelt & Fernhill Zoro (30.6)
Open Training A: Kay Slater & Quizow (26.4)
Open Training B: Jane Hamlin & Fernhill Mischief (28.6)
Preliminary / Training: Dale Eddy & Poker Run (34.9)
Training Championships: Erika Hendricks & Twice Wild (27.3)
Training Horse Championships: Barbara Cassani & King’s Mustard (31.2)
Novice Championships: Marcia Kulak & Gran Torino (25.7)
Novice Horse Championships: Mikki Kuchta & ABF Special Reserve (23.3)
Open Novice A: Cooper Madden-Hennessey & Dance Kodachrome (23.6)
Open Novice B: Pamela Lyon & Castelturvin Mungo (24.5)
Open Novice C: Finnian O’Malia & Tamerackin (29.8)
Beginner Novice Championships: Jessica Katz & Fernhill Sylvus (20.8)
Beginner Novice Horse Championships: Isabel Estes & Fernhill Blue Moon (26.3)
Open Beginner Novice A: Jocelyn Hawe & Danceteria (30.0)
Open Beginner Novice B: Jennifer Bagley & Intrinsic (22.8)
Open Beginner Novice C: Michele Marrin & Patient Investor “PI” (32.8)
Open Beginner Novice D: Benjamin Carlan & Don’s Grey Galvin (29.4)

What a weekend at Town Hill. Rutherglen did a fantastic dressage test to score my personal best of 22.4! Then even in the sticky footing my superstar jumped 2 double clears to WIN our second prelim by 12.3 points 🌟. Tom was also a beast scoring a dressage score of 23.5 though after a couple of rails and the hard footing we decided it would be safer for both him and I to wait for a better day to go cross country. I’m so lucky to have a team of horses and a supportive group to help me get through competition after competition. Thank you @maddieduggan123 @thomasduggan50 @addisongeron @booliselmayr @___odaria___ and @finemosh and a very well done to my dear friends @josephine.duggan @moore.eventing @booliselmayr

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Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Fall H.T. [Website] [Results]
Open Intermediate A: Arden Wildasin & Il Vici (33.7)
Open Intermediate B: Boyd Martin & Kyra (27.6)
Open Preliminary A: Arden Wildasin & Udi-la (30.0)
Open Preliminary B: Laine Ashker & Call Him Paddy (36.2)
Open Preliminary C: Arden Wildasin & Hellohello (34.7)
Jr/YR Open Training: Emma Keahon & PS Duty Calls (29.6)
Open Training: Dasha Ivandaeva & Kingcarra Cooley Diamond (29.8)
Training Rider: Natalie Epstein & Fanta (34.5)
Jr/YR Open Novice: Campbell Jones & Aura CF (22.4)
Novice Horse: Daniel Clasing & Grove Hill Bob (28.6)
Novice Rider: Alice Lawaetz & Schiller (30.7)
Open Novice: Lauren Kieffer & Bishop de Selah (27.9)
Beginner Novice Rider: Alice Johnson & Piedmont Sun (24.7)
Jr/YR Open Beginner Novice: Megan Smallwood & Kilronan’s Countess (32.2)
Open Beginner Novice: Suzannah Cornue & Fashionable Man (28.6)
Introductory Open: Jesus Zarate & Caliente (31.5)

Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II [Website] [Results]
Open Preliminary: Megan Beyer & Passepartout (33.3)
Open Training: Bunnie Sexton & Phiero SR (31.1)
Training Rider: Emily Doneen & This One’s For Mat (34.8)
Novice Rider: Sloan Bryson & Red Cloud’s War (30.0)
Open Novice: Madelyn Holtzman & Stan (21.7)
Introductory-A: Natalie Billings & Velvet Thunder (33.9)
Introductory-B: Kiersti Wylie & Elindi CBF (35.6)
Junior Beginner Novice Rider: Hayden Salfen & Blue Szeptaj (32.0)
Open Beginner Novice: Ashley Shrader & Cliffside Academy Award (30.0)
Senior Beginner Novice Rider: Meghan Lewis & Rayastrada (31.5)

not our best rides this weekend but such a fun time! congrats to sloan on the win!! ❤️🎉

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Caber Farm Horse Trial [Website] [Results]
Open Intermediate: Anni Grandia & Chaos (50.1)
Open Preliminary A: Cassie Weber & Minnie (32.8)
Open Preliminary B: Lauren Hansen & Jackie O De Carlier (29.4)
Jr. Training: Alina Patterson & Flashback (28.0)
Sr. Open Training A: Karen Lounsbery & Stewart (30.5)
Sr. Open Training B: Allison Sparks & Rio Diamante (32.1)
Sr. Open Training C: Leigh Mesher & Finally DG (30.0)
Jr. Novice A: Katherine Hinds & Idle Hour (29.1)
Jr. Novice B: Cheyenne Clark & Benjamin (35.0)
Sr. Open Novice A: Eliza Diegel & M One Rifle (31.7)
Sr. Open Novice B: Tanya Stricker & Handsome Harri (31.5)
Sr. Open Novice C: Anna Collier & Dune (28.8)
Jr. Beg. Novice: Teaguen Weise Bentley (28.6)
Sr. Open Beg. Novice A: Roger McKimmy & Rafferty Star (27.5)
Sr. Open Beg. Novice B: Sarah Matuszewski & Filaz (32.5)

The Event at Archer [Website] [Results]
* Advanced, Intermediate, Prelim and Training final scores not yet posted
Preliminary: Travis Atkinson & Don Darco (36.1)
Training: Linda Quist & Belle Gambe (29.2)
Novice-A: Dani Sussman & Windchase Radiance (20.5)
Novice-B: Christiana Schultz & Alexa Dawn (21.7)
Beginner Novice-A: Kelly Green & Woodstock Classic Rock (27.0)
Beginner Novice-B: Taylor Faccio & Denali VT (33.5)
Starter: Abigail Sullivan & Micnimbus (31.5)

Stone Gate Farm H.T. [Website] [Results]
Prelim: Kelly Ransom & Prince Cavanagh (31.5)
Training: Kelly Ransom & City Mudd (31.1)
Novice: Madeline Bletzacker & Drummer Boy (25.5)
Novice Jr/YR: Grace Gyetko & Flight of the Phoenix (26.4)
Beginner Novice Jr/YR:Carolyn Randolph Oakforest & Carbon Copy (26.3)
Beginner Novice: Ruth Siegfried & One of Equine Express (29.0)
Starter: Laura Podboy & Part of the Plan (42.9)

Go Eventing!

#EventerFailFriday: Can I Get an Extra Side of Failsauce, Please?

You guys have been hard at work on the fails this week, great job! Thank you for bringing a joyful little cringe into our lives on an otherwise humdrum Friday homestretch. Remember: The road to success is paved with fail, which means every last one of you (and many of us reading this, if we’re doing it right) are full-speed ahead.

Unfortunately for me, What started out as a fabulous outing at Otter Creek ended rather soggily 😂😂😂. We had a fantastic dressage test that gave us a 32.7 and placed us tied for 2nd on Friday. Saturday he warmed up like a champ and jumped the first 3rd of the course in great style. The water was very busy resulting in spookiness and lack of respect for my leg. Further miscommunication at the water to water fence lead to an unceremonious baptizing and a dirt christened white breeches. 🙃🙃🙃 Also I had to test my air vest sometime! However I am still utterly thrilled with my boy. He was so good the rest of the weekend and I could have ridden smarter to make sure he really understood the question at hand. Lesson learned! #runfree #builtinlifevest #crosscountry #jumpallthethings #butnotfromastandstillRicky #badidea #eventerproblems #eventersofinstagram #horselife #horseshowproblems #equestrian #equestrianlife #barnlife #hhfeventing #MrShenanigans 📷Xpress Foto Design

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Oops 😂 #failfriday #atedirt #slid4feet #eventerproblems #secondtimewemadeit

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Go Eventing.

Tryon WEG Volunteer Applications Are Still Being Accepted

Want to volunteer at the World Equestrian Games? Applications are still being accepted, with many more volunteer positions left to fill before the fast-approaching Games next month.

According to a recent WEG memo, “An estimated 2,500 people are needed to cover the 7,500 volunteer positions available over the three weeks, with two to three six-hour shifts available per day for operational positions ranging from greeters, ushers and golf cart drivers to marketing and media positions, information services and more. While more than 1,100 people have already signed up, TIEC is still in need of volunteers to help make the event experience exceptional for all attendees and participants.”

How to Apply

To apply, visit the WEG Volunteer Portal at volunteers.tryon2018.com and complete the following process:
  1. Create a profile or login to a pre-existing account.
  2. Complete all required components of a Volunteer Profile, including entering security information and answering vetting questions.
  3. Select “Upcoming Events,” then select “Event Days.”
  4. Volunteers will not receive a call or email confirming placement, but will be able to view the status change on the Volunteer Portal.

Upon approval, login to the TIEC Volunteer Portal to check or make updates to your schedule. An email will be sent notifying all volunteers when the online orientation is available.

TIEC has some of the friendliest volunteers in the biz! Photo courtesy of TIEC.

Volunteer Perks

The uniform package includes a complimentary hat, “Team Tryon” pin and branded uniform shirts. Volunteers will also receive credentials and a parking pass, as well as access to the Volunteer HQ for snacks and meals for the days they are working. Access to watching events is limited and seat access based on availability during the week(s) volunteers are working.

Volunteers who have been approved for three shifts can request complimentary housing at the Shelby Mission Camp or secure a rental through the lodging portal on Tryon2018.com here. The Community Hosting Initiative Host Application is available at Tryon2018.com under the Volunteer tab for home owners interested in hosting WEG volunteers.

Most importantly, volunteering is just a good way to give back to the sport you love.

“We have already received an immense amount of interest, so please take a moment to apply today,” says Director of Community Outreach Kathryn McMahon. “Volunteering is a brilliant way to get involved in this phenomenal event that will surely make incredible new connections and memories for all. We hope you will join us as we form a strong volunteer team of exceptional individuals for the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018.”

The Tryon WEG takes place Sept. 11-23, 2018, at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Tryon, North Carolina. For more information visit Tryon2018.com.

[Sign Up Online to Volunteer at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018]

#EventerProblems Vol. 156 from Ecovet: We’re All Mad Here

You’re looking good out there, Eventing Nation! And by “good” I mean even crazier than usual.

But hey, life on the crazy train is the only life for us. And at least we’re all aboard together!

Here’s your latest batch of reader-submitted #EventerProblems:

Barn days #equestrianlife #eventerproblems #abscess #stopraining

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Fly season be like…. 🤺#morganhorse #premierequine #orangeandblue #eventerproblems 🔷🔶

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Go Eventing!

#TripleAmputeeEventer Scores 8.5 on Rider Position in Show Ring Return

Jessica Thoma and Sugar at Dressage By The River, held at River Glen Equestrian Center. Photo courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

Earlier this year we shared the heart-wrenching yet inspirational story of Jessica Thoma, the 25-year-old Tennessee eventer whose legs and left arm were amputated in January of this year. For all her losses, Jessica’s determination to return to the saddle was unwavering, and horses have been her rock through both her illness and recovery. By late spring she was on the lunge line, but her sights were already set much higher than that.

“I have some really big dreams and plans and I have a HUGE support team cheering me on!,” she told EN. “I will do eventing again soon! Hopefully next year! #TripleAmputeeEventer isn’t just a tag I put on my photos — it is my dream.”

Jessica made a huge leap forward toward making that dream a reality last weekend, when she returned to the show ring at Dressage By The River. The competition, held at at USEA event venue River Glen Equestrian Park in Newmarket, Tennessee, was a happy homecoming for Jessica and her partner Sugar, a 20-year-old Spotted Saddle Horse mare she rescued from starvation in 2009 and calls her “heart pony.”

Jessica and Sugar at their last River Glen competition, before Jessica’s illness. Photo courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

Jessica and Sugar were stars, earning scores over 60% in both their Para test and USDF Intro A.

Collective marks from her Intro test: “The girl with no legs and only one arm got an 8.5 in Rider’s Position!” Photo courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

“The halt that got an 8 in my Para test. I love this horse to the end of the universe and back. She is one of a kind. From jumping 2’6″ bareback, going bridleless, to being the horse I need her to be now … there are no words that can measure my love for her.” Photo courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

“I was on cloud 9 the whole day,” Jessica says. “My last show was over a year ago. I had some people who didn’t believe I would be able to ride again. Now look where I am! I have trotted, I have cantered, and now I have shown! The people who believed in me far outweighed the negatives, and for that I am thankful.”

Jessica was surrounded by a big support system of family, friends and fellow equestrians. She’s been training with Kaylen Moon, clinic-ing with Emily Curtis when she can, and is sitting tall in a new Custom Saddlery Icon Flight dressage saddle thanks to a community effort spearheaded by saddle fitter Kate Wooten.

Jessica and her supporters. Photos courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

Jessica has prosthetics on the way, due to arrive this week — she jokes that she ordered equestrian specific lower legs with the heels already down. In the meantime, she hasn’t let the absence of limbs hold her back from pursuing her goals. Nor has she allowed it to dampen her spirit or sense of humor.  The funniest thing from the dressage show: “Someone mistook me and Sugar for someone else! So I asked them if that person didn’t have legs either and she said she didn’t even notice. Kinda funny but also feels good!”

Since Jessica’s story has gotten out, thousands have begun following her social media accounts via Instagram (@TripleAmputeeEventer) and Facebook (Jessica Thoma). Often in her posts inspiration and dark humor collide. “Life is hard,” she recently wrote. “You either take it lying down or you kick it in the ass! Or, in my case, #nubsomeass.”

Her irreverent outlook makes some people uncomfortable, she says, but insists, “What even is life without a little humor? It helps to laugh at your pain.”

She’s also used her position to education others about interaction with disabled persons. “Please do not scold your children for staring and asking, ‘Momma, where are her legs?’ You are teaching your child that curiosity is bad, different should be shamed, and asking questions is wrong. I for one love it when children stare or ask questions. It is a great teachable moment!”

Jessica’s heart, grit and humor make it almost impossible to believe that, just one year ago, her normal life and limbs were still intact. But, she says, she’s stronger now than she was even then, and her strength is contagious. She motivates constantly with both her words and her actions. “Don’t ever let anyone put you in a category,” she says. “You are whatever you want to be.

Double blue! Photo courtesy of Jessica Thoma.

So with a horse show on the books, what’s next on Jessica’s horizon? She doesn’t hesitate: “More dressage shows! Walking! Jumping! Eventing!”

Go eventing, Jessica.

Weekend Winners: Bromont, GVRDC, Huntington, Waredaca, Full Gallop

Summer’s hot and the competition even hotter at horse trials over the weekend. While EN was up in Quebec covering Bromont, winners were crowned at four USEA-recognized events.

And now, your weekend winners!

Bromont WebsiteResultsEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram
CIC3*: Selena O’Hanlon & Foxwood High (30.4)
CIC2*: Boyd Martin & Contestor (32.2)
CIC*: Waylon Roberts & Wil Celtic Charlie (28.0)
CIC* – Under 25: Cole Horn & Cooley Sligo (29.5)
Open Training: Lauren Kieffer & Get Gaudi (22.1)
Training Young Rider: Amanda Beale Clement & BE Kilgoric Felix (26.9)

GVRDC H.T. [Website] [Results]
Open Preliminary: Kelly Ransom & Prince Cavanagh (33.0)
Open Modified: Cadence Clucas & Lookover Erin (31.2)
Open Training: Kelly Ransom & City Mudd (32.1)
Jr/YR Novice: Jax Maxian & Blue Lightning (30.4)
Open Novice A: Olivia Lapham & Tedesco (26.4)
Open Novice B: Hillary Marshall & Interference (24.8)
Jr/YR BNovice: Rebecca Blackburn & Regally Blonde (30.5)
Open Beginner Novice A: Carol Kozlowski & Full Gallop’s King Red (25.8)
Open Beginner Novice B: Gretchen Creesy & Tigerlily (29.5)
FEH-3 year old: Katherine Riecke & Bellavista Dulany (79.0)

 

A well deserved victory lap for one of our Novice divisions! #gvrdcFallHT

Posted by Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club on Sunday, August 19, 2018

Huntington Farm H.T. [Website] [Results]
Preliminary: Libby Scruton & Silver Flash (36.9)
Open Training: Kaitlyn Sutherland & Jack Be Nimble (29.8)
Junior Training: Dean Tengdin & Watson’s Autumn (40.9)
Junior Novice: Maya Gaines & Bantry Bays Winston (34.1)
Senior Novice A: Katie Murphy & Joshua Tree (30.4)
Senior Novice B: Danielle Downing & Oldfield Frenchglen (29.3)
Junior Beginner Novice: Kiera Delahanty & Silver Wend (32.2)
Senior Beginner Novice: Althea Holland & KCF Magic Hat (33.4)

Waredaca Farm H.T. [Website] [Results] [FEH Scores] [YEH/NEH Scores]
Intermediate: Tatiana Herrero Bernstein & Callisto (34.6)
Intermediate/Preliminary: Valerie Vizcarrondo & Favian (46.2)
Open Preliminary: Colleen Rutledge & C Me Fly (22.8)
Preliminary Rider: Keely Cooley & Don’t Ask Why (35.9)
Open Training-A: Jessica Ebzery & Share Option (25.7)
Open Training-B: Erika Nesler & Bon Voyage DSF (28.0)
Preliminary/Training: Jane Jennings & Kontessa M (31.5)
Training Rider-A: Brooke Bayley & Unbroken (29.3)
Training Rider-B: Delaney O’Neil & An Irish Blessing (32.1)
Novice Rider: Brynn Hershbine & Cadenza Aria (26.7)
Open Novice: Colleen Rutledge & Astute (28.1)
Training/Novice: Skyler Decker & Excel Star Eminem m2s (33.6)
Beginner Novice Rider-A: Meghan Fillius & Dress Blues (38.6)
Beginner Novice Rider-B: Mason Reidy & Hoodwink (28.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Mia Farley & Mama Mia (29.9)
FEH Yearling: Katie Hasse & Sybil (72.95)
FEH 2-Year-Old: Eileen Pritchard-Bryan & Reposado WG (76.40)
FEH 3-Year-Old: Adrienne Classen & Comet Chrome (74.8)
YEH 4-Year-Old: Tim Bourke & Quality Control (84.90)
YEH 5-Year-Old: Tim Bourke & Quality Obsession (87.0)
NEH: Chelsea Eldridge & Celestial Bliss (87.25)

Full Gallop Farm H.T. [Website] [Results]
Advanced Intermediate: Werner Geven & L’Avventura (39.0)
Intermediate: John Michael Durr & SL Belly (34.8)
Intermediate/Preliminary: Erin Strader & Live and Learn (45.6)
Preliminary: Kate Brown & Carnaby (28.7)
Preliminary/Training: Matthew Ulmer & Palmetto Conair (26.9)
Training-A: Karli Wright & Remastered (32.3)
Training-B: Morgan Batton & Toby The Coal Man (27.3)
Training-C: Ashlynn Meuchel & CopaCabana (26.5)
Novice-A: Jessica Shull & Contemporary Art (30.7)
Novice-B: Mary Bess Davis & Bahian Macadamia (29.1)
Novice-C: Hayden Jones & Kimora (29.5)
Training/Novice: Laurie Wettstone & Fandango (34.8)
Beginner Novice-A: Kristin Schmolze & Jupiler (27.8)
Beginner Novice-B: Morgan Batton & Bananarama (27.5)
Starter: Kaitlin Hartford & Bazillion Bells (42.1)

Great weekend for Live and Learn in the Intermediate/Preliminary division at Full Gallop Farm! Finished first with a double clear show jump round 🎉💙🐎

Posted by Strader Event Team on Sunday, August 19, 2018

Congrats to all. Go Eventing!

#EventerProblems Vol. 155 from Ecovet: A Cinderella Story

For all the money we sink into our horses’ footwear, we could have Carrie Bradshaw-caliber shoe closets of our own. I double-dare you to do the math on how many pairs of $800 Manolo Blahniks you would own right now if you’d put your horse’s shoe budget toward your own.

And yet, they have the nerve to wander off into the field and lose them, usually at the least convenient time possible — the night before an event is a classic. It’s like they fancy themselves as Cinderella or something.

Public service announcement, horses: You are NOT Cinderella. Keep your shoes on!!

And now, for the rest of this week’s #EventerProblems:

Go Eventing.

#EventerFailFriday: Trust Me, I’m a Professional

I’m sure I’m not the only horse show photographer who keeps a little black book of fail pics. If you spend enough time watching horses jump through the lens of a camera, you’re bound to rack ’em up. For the most part mine is a private collection; riders aren’t always stoked to have their least dignified moments immortalized on the Internet. Every now and again, though, you snap a fail that’s just too good to keep to yourself.

Like this one from last weekend’s GMHA Festival of Eventing, from Joan Davis of Flatlandsfoto. You know I’m a jaded, terrible person because my first thought was, “I sure hope that iPhone was OK.”

And this one, posted by Chronicle of the Horse reporter Ann Glavan in advance of last week’s hallowed Pony Finals — not a fail necessarily, but a first-rate “oh crap” face nonetheless. The Chronicle‘s #MissedItMondays pics on Instagram are a real highlight of my week, more proof that I am a horrible person, so be sure to follow them if you are, too.

Ah, Pony Finals week. May the odds ever be in your favor, kids 😂😂😂

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Next up, you better believe that Amy Dragoo of AK Dragoo Photography has seen some things out there that cannot be unseen. Luckily she has a wicked sense of humor to match.

But no one, probably, has captured more epic fail than Nico Morgan of Nico Morgan Photography. Between hunt field derring-do and the upped-ante of UK eventing, that man could curate a museum exhibit with all his photos of misses and mishaps.

A bit of excitement for Denis Mesples during the trot up on Wednesday.

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“It wasn’t a great idea” … I’m dying. Steer clear of 5-foot tall metal gates, EN, and Go Eventing!

On the Fence about the AEC? 7 Reasons to Get That Entry in Today!

Jr. Beginner Novice 14 & Under competitors Hannah Sullivan and Nebraska are clear over the final cross country fence at the 2017 AEC. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Closing date for the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is today! Still hemming and hawing about whether to enter the event, to be held Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in Parker, Colorado? I’ve attended the AEC at its past four locations (Illinois, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina) in various capacities (rider, friend, coach, press), and I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.

Maybe this year’s AEC is off the beaten path for you geographically, but it’s well worth the trek — a true destination event. You better believe I’m heading to the 15th annual edition, and I don’t want you guys to miss out!

Here are seven reasons to just put that entry in already:

  1. You earned it. You worked hard, you qualified (see AEC qualified riders and horses), and now it’s time to go enjoy the victory lap of your successful season. Don’t miss the opportunity to test yourself against horses and riders from around the country for the chance to earn the ultimate title of National Champion.
  2. It’s the feel-good event of the year. The USEA goes above and beyond to make sure competitors and their peeps have a fun, celebratory and memorable experience. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes + swag galore + parties every evening = why would you miss this, seriously?
  3. It’s a picture-perfect venue. Just imagine your cross country photos with the dramatic Rocky Mountains looming in the background! Feel the sun on your back and the alpine wind on your face! The Colorado Horse Park is a beautiful, first-class facility with a variety of amenities to make horses and riders alike feel at home — visit the website here.
  4. Bring the whole barn. In addition to championship divisions, the event includes non-championship “festival classes” from Beginner Novice through Preliminary. There’s even an Intro level with an optional ditch and water jump. Comparable to normal horse trial divisions as far as cost, prizes and difficulty (they will run the same Tremaine Cooper-designed courses as the AEC divisions but with some non-championship options), the festival classes offer non-qualified horses the chance to gain experience in a big show atmosphere.
  5. Bring the whole family. The Colorado Horse Park is located less than an hour outside Denver, one of the U.S.’s friendliest, cleanest and most colorful cities, and outdoorsy activities abound in the area. With a little creativity you can convince that fam that this isn’t just an event, it’s a vacation. If the long road trip is a sticking point, look into budget airlines — my flight from Knoxville to Denver was $206 through Frontier.
  6. It’s more than JUST an event. The AEC is a panoramic view of eventing as it exists here in the U.S. — the pyramid-shaped representation of Beginner Novice to Advanced level riders, the connective tissue that exists between amateurs and pros, the sport’s sweeping geographic scope, and the heroic roles performed by organizers, volunteers and supporters.
  7. It’s an opportunity to give back. Speaking of volunteers, the AEC is in need of some. Can you lend a helping hand? Volunteering is a great way to show your support for the sport you love; AEC helpers will be provided with goodies including coffee and donuts, lunch and 2018 AEC hats. Sign up through the Eventing Volunteers portal to make your hours credible with the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP). Teamwork makes the dream work!

For more information, visit the AEC website. Ready to enter? Excellent choice. Check out the Omnibus listing here and enter via Xentry here.

 

#DogsOfEN: Barn Life Is Ruff

Barn dogs work hard and play hard, and by extension they must nap hard. We are loving these pics of knackered pups.

So what exactly is it that they’re doing out there that has them so exhausted? Well, lots of very important stuff, thank you very much. A few examples …

He's a mini cheetah #rossthepup #fastasthewind #dogsofen

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✨Supervising the day✨ #weldon #barndog #barnsupervisor #dogsofinstagram #dogsofen

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I spy with my little eye… a little barn dog in the making 💗

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Where there are horse people, there are dogs — and we love showing them off! Here’s your latest batch of canine Instagram pics, plus a few other assorted friendly barnyard creatures because we’re equal opportunity like that.

Be sure to tag your ‘Grams with #DogsOfEN for inclusion in a future edition!

Go Eventing.

Weekend Winners: GMHA, Fair Hill, WindRidge, Otter Creek, Woodside, Area VII YR Benefit

The competition was HOT out there this weekend! Big, shiny blue ribbons were doled to deserving recipients at five events around the vast Eventing Nation.

Gotta give a shout-out to EN’s own Jenni Autry, who finished 4th in a division of Training at Fair Hill International in her debut outing with new stud-muffin Imperial Striker (“Derry”). Great to see Jenni partnered with such a cool ride. Just one spot above them in the placings was EN blogger extraordinaire Holly Covey, who finished 3rd with Tully Cross Hamish. Way to represent, team!

First show with a new horse … always an adventure! Derry is a pretty cool customer at home, and he perked right up at Fair Hill today. 28.0 is a personal best for me in dressage, and there is so much more there once we polish up the test. We have been working hard to get him more in front of the leg for show jumping, and needless to say we did not have that problem today! He was raring to go and had an exuberant two rails down, but that was forgiven on cross country. He was absolutely foot perfect and cruised around well inside the time to finish 4th. It's a bummer to know he would have won without the rails, but today was a big step forward in building our partnership. THANK YOU to @domschramm @jimmiehschramm @joshautry @gailmink @emilylehman21 @riverrunak for slogging through a very hot and humid day. Shoutout to @jprettyman_ for getting it done with Cooley Mullingar 💪 Thank you to @stevenjberkowitz for the fabulous photo. Onwards and upwards! 🍀🦄

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An extra special shout-out to our lowest scoring winner in the country this weekend, Kristen Davignon with Fürst Floid. The pair handily won the Senior Novice division on their dressage score of 19.3 at the Area VII Young Rider Benefit H.T. in Centralia, Washington.

Shelby Allen rounded up the weekend’s Intermediate and one-star winners in this post yesterday, so be sure to check that out. And now, here’s the complete winner roster!

GMHA Festival of Eventing August H.T.  [Website] [Results]
CIC One Star: Holly Jacks Smither & Finely Brewed (27.3)
Open Intermediate: Anna Loschiavo & Prince Renan (34.6)
Open Preliminary: Buck Davidson Jr. & Gaya (32.4)
Preliminary/Training: Denise Goyea & Quickest (27.5)
Junior Training: Katerina Garcia-Chope Samba Dromo (32.6)
Open Training: Sharon White & Juneau (26.3)
Training Rider: Ann Grenier & Almost Famous (29.8)
Junior Novice-A: Rachel Hoar & Lanzz (30.5)
Junior Novice-B: Erin Sheehan & Sharp Dressed Man (24.5)
Junior Novice – Weekend: Sam Curtis & Cooley Cut Copy (25.7)
Novice Rider-A: Karen Dronzek & Sportsfield Jinx (23.6)
Novice Rider-B: Ashley Miller & Irish Sea (22.6)
Novice Rider – Weekend: Andrea Brainard & Watson’s Beijing (27.9)
Open Novice: Kristin Schlachter & Backgammon (27.9)
Open Novice – Weekend: Marcia Kulak & Gran Torino (25.0)
Beginner Novice Rider-A: Michele Marrin & Patient Investor (27.0)
Beginner Novice Rider-B: Tori Donaghue & Otto Rocket (30.3)
Junior Beginner Novice-A: Anna Meretei & Fernhill Danforth (27.5)
Junior Beginner Novice-B: Katie Sheehan & Big Sexy (22.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Ro Nelson & Curious George (24.5)

Enjoy this gallery of GMHA winners courtesy of the talented Joan Davis of Flatlandsfoto.

Fair Hill International H.T.  [Website] [Results]
Intermediate-A: Lexi Scovil & Chico’s Man VDF Z (32.4)
Intermediate-B: Boyd Martin & Kyra (24.6)
Junior Young Riders Open Preliminary: Benjamin Noonan & Keep Kitty (29.1)
Preliminary-A: Phillip Dutton & Concord Dawn (25.9)
Preliminary-B: Boyd Martin & Wabanaki (25.4)
Preliminary Rider: Hannah Simmons & Ducati III (38.2)
Junior Open Training: Emma Hilt & The Blues Man (30.2)
Training-A: Meghan O’Donoghue & Sun Nature (23.9)
Training-B: Mike Pendleton & Woodstock Easy (25.9)
Training-C: Hillary Moses & Save Magic (28.2)
Training Rider-A: Sarah Choate & Cooley Blue (32.5)
Training Rider-B: Kim Russell Jordan & Alpengeist (28.3)
Junior Open Novice: Natalie Tedeschi & Jitter Bug (21.7)
Novice-A: Jenny Caras & Riverview Starboy (23.8)
Novice-B: Elizabeth Stewart & Innsbruck VDO (24.1)
Novice Rider-A: Lauren Chumley & Santa Barbara Dash (19.8)
Novice Rider-B: Cami Pease & Vibrant (26.9)

Amazing weekend at Fair Hill Horse Trials for Team PDF! 4 horses, 0 jump penalties, and 4 ribbons! Chloe rocked around the prelim adding only a few time penalties to her dressage score to finish in 6th. Dawson finally cracked into the 20’s in dressage and added nothing to his score to finish 6th in the Training. James was a bit sassy in dressage but was a total beast in show jumping and cross country to finish in 7th place in the Novice. This little red headed pocket rocket is going to need some bigger jumps soon! So proud of my three kids and the progress they’ve made so far this year! Super-groom @skceventer has the best result of the weekend with a WIN in the Training Rider division! Sarah’s been working so hard to form a partnership with Oliver and it’s awesome to see their hard work pay off! So proud of you Sarah 😘🎉🥇 Thank you to our amazing sponsors who help make successful weekends like this one possible! #eventing #superweekend #teamblue @triplecrownfeed @revitavetofficial @eqyss @horsequencher @decopony @stubbenna @equinecomfortproducts @cooleyfarmhorses #guardianhorsebedding

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WindRidge Farm Summer H.T. [Website] [Results]
Preliminary: John Michael Durr & SL Belly (28.8)
Training-A: John Michael Durr & VFE Saphira (31.2)
Training-B: Cindy Phillips & 3rd Times The Charm (31.0)
Training-C: Jamie Miess & Gentleman Barton (35.0)
Novice-A: Sara Beth Anton & Q Course (27.9)
Novice-B: Harley Austin & Sword of Ireland (25.7)
Novice-C: Devon Tresan & I Am Superman (27.6)
Novice CT: Alison Kroviak & Dolce (29.1)
Beginner Novice-A: Lauren Bergrud & Finally (26.9)
Beginner Novice-B: Sara Beth Anton & Vision Quest (23.9)
Beginner Novice CT: Kennedy Smith & Bradson Ralph (35.3)
Starter: Elisabth Larson & Peter Pan (35.6)

Otter Creek Summer H.T. [Website] [Results]
Open Intermediate: Genevieve Faith Burned You Too (61.8)
Open Preliminary: Alexis Anderson & Holly Golightly (65.0)
Junior Training Rider: Kate McGown & Encore (40.5)
Open Training: Matthew Trynoski & The Gidget (34.1)
Preliminary/Training: Kristine Burgess & Thorondor (40.5)
Senior Training Rider: Mark Ward & Juniper (43.5)
Junior Novice Rider: Natalie Hazen & Caalif Elmy (30.5)
Open Novice: Bernard Morauw & VC Atilla (25.6)
Senior Novice Rider-A: Morgan Risseeuw & Farina VT (37.3)
Senior Novice Rider-B: Kristin Kubsch & CMF Royal Diamond (22.6)
Junior Beginner Novice Rider: Emily Hedberg & Mr. Mile High (28.0)
Open Beginner Novice: Todd Wulf & Kando (27.8)
Senior Beginner Novice Rider: Alisha Flohr & C.Sincerity (29.3)
Starter Beginner Novice-A: Heather Salden & Sobella (30.3)
Starter Beginner Novice-B: Meaghan Kelley & Sierra’s Goldmine (30.5)

The Summer Event at Woodside [Website] [Results]
Open Intermediate: Helen Bouscaren & Ebay (32.7)
Open Preliminary-A: Meg Pellegrini & Ganymede (27.6)
Open Preliminary-B: Jordan Linstedt & Revitavet Capato (23.7)
Jr. Training Rider: Haley Turner & Orion’s Sweet Rubio (28.2)
Open Training: Ruth Bley & Frankfurt (26.6)
Sr. Training Rider-A: Ruth Bley & Spartacus D’L’Herbage (28.9)
Sr. Training Rider-B: Rebecca Severt & Zena (25.5)
Jr. Novice Rider: Sophie Dever & Clever Notion (28.6)
Novice Amateur: Golly Martin & Kaptain Jak (26.0)
Novice Horse: Amber Levine & High Life (27.6)
Open Novice: Bella Silveira & Celeste (26.2)
Sr. Novice Rider: Tori Traube & Coupe De Ville (26.4)
Jr. Beginner Novice Rider-A: Mackenzie Davison & Skye’s the Limit (31.3)
Jr. Beginner Novice Rider-B: Morgan Lunn & Feels Like Carolina (36.0)
Open Beginner Novice: Toora Nolan & Adelaide SWF (31.3)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider: Annie Desmond & Little Elf (25.3)
Intro-A: Silvia Szabo & Simpatico (29.2)
Intro-B: Elsa Warble & Snip Commands A Kiss (28.1)
Future Event Horse 2-year-old: Earl McFall & Iluminada
Future Event Horse 3-year-old: Brook Morrison & Bravehearts Renegade

Area VII Young Rider Benefit H.T. [Website] [Results]
Preliminary Jr/YR: Cadence Michel & Kedrah House Lux (48.9)
Preliminary Open: Kristi Walker & Just A Dream (38.4)
Training Jr/YR: Madison Langerak & Normandy’s Kivalo (19.7)
Training Junior: Rio Jensen & Calgino Z (21.0)
Training Open: Marc Grandia & Gildegunde (27.6)
Training Senior: Amy Haugen & Ebenholtz (30.0)
Novice Jr/YR: Lauren Jester & Slingshot (31.9)
Novice Junior: Audrey Ogan & Blended With My Best (32.2)
Novice Open: Erika Lee & Bentley (22.1)
Novice Senior: Kristen Davignon & Fürst Floid (19.3)
Beginner Novice Jr/YR: Makayla Watterson & Foxwood Belle (33.1)
Beginner Novice Junior: Brianna Philipp & Rio de Janeiro (32.5)
Beginner Novice Open: Sarah Lorenz & Garbo STF (26.4)
Beginner Novice Senior: Piper Newman & Ferngully (23.8)
Intro Open: Tammy Kienitz & Anonymous (26.1)
Future Event Horse-2yo: Sonya Françoise & Glendalough’s Dahlné (74.6)
Future Event Horse-3yo: Linda Smyth & Patriot (83.2)
Future Event Horse-4yo: Anna Collier & Dune (80.2)
Future Event Horse-Yearling: Jennifer Ryan & Berracos’ Last Valentino (78.0)

Go Eventing.