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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