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2022 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH and FEH West Coast Championships Recap

It was a case of mistaken identity for chestnut mares that gave a glimpse into the future. Catie Cejka went to school a client’s experienced eventing horse this winter but instead grabbed a different chestnut mare. To this point, the rising 4-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare Valiane (Valentino x Joey) had been lightly backed but was not anywhere near the caliber of the horse she thought she would be riding.

“She hadn’t been out and handled for six months and was actually able to stay with me for the whole time and trust me,” Cejka said.

It was quite a ride, and it’s been quite a ride since, culminating in Valiane winning the 2022 USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Championship for 4-year-olds ridden and presented by Cejka for owner Barb Hanel on Saturday at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles, Calif. In addition to Valiane, Stacia Lloyd’s bay Oldenburg filly Secret Romance (Schwarzenegger x SH Romance) was crowned West Coast champion 3-year-old presented by Chloe Smyth. They joined Friday’s FEH winners, Michlynn Sterling’s 2-year-old Trakehner filly High And Mighty (Mighty Magic x High Priestess) and Sarah Cullum’s Westphalian gelding Cape Fear (Crumble x Sweet City Woman xx), to culminate the biggest field in the history of the USEA FEH West Coast Championships since the event was inaugurated in 2019.

There were a total of 31 yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds that presented before FEH championship judges Marilyn Payne from New Jersey and Katie Rocco from Massachusetts. That represented significant growth from the previous USEA FEH West Coast Championships—21 in 2019, 19 in 2020, and 18 in 2021.

For the FEH 4-year-olds, they were judged under saddle and for conformation on Friday and then in the jump chute arena on Saturday. Valiane was fourth heading into the jump chute, and her jumping score of 86.5 jumped them to the win with a final score of 82.6.

Coincidentally, Valiane will continue to learn to event with Cejka and may eventually partner with 16-year-old Hanni Sreenan, the rider of Zena, the horse Cejka mixed up with Valiane in the winter.

“Hopefully, she might be the kid’s move-up move-up horse, or I might get to ride her,” Cejka said. “I think they’re a little shocked with how well she’s doing.”

Arnell Sporthorses’ Dutch Warmblood gelding Nicolai Van De Heering (Hernandez TN x Candy D) ridden by Bec Braitling was second with a score of 81.2. Emilie Melnychuk’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Handsome Boy (Hardwell x Walykes) was third with a score of 78.5. Katrina Rivas’ Temptress Of Love, an Irish Sport Horse and Canadian Warmblood cross that finished fourth, won the Born In America Award presented to the highest-scoring American-bred horse.

Valiane. Tina Fitch Photography.

For the FEH 3-year-olds, they were presented in-hand and at-liberty for judging their conformation and gaits before going through the jump chute. Secret Romance was the only entrant to score in the 80s for both conformation and jumping and finished on a final score of 81.3.
“When the pandemic started, I decided to look for something really nice,” owner Lloyd said. “I could not afford a 3- or 4-year-old going. So, I saw her baby pictures, and I ended up purchasing her at 9 months old.”

A lot of factors went into choosing Secret Romance, according to Lloyd.

“Beautiful head, very uphill movement, her dam’s pictures were beautiful,” she said. “I didn’t know a lot about the bloodlines, but I liked the dark bay, and I like mares especially. And, the name just seemed to be a good name. So, I went with it.”

The good feeling paid off, with Secret Romance steadily improving each of the three times she has competed in FEH events at Twin Rivers in 2022.

“At the beginning of the year, she was wild when I brought her for the first time,” Lloyd said. “She’s not a very confident lady, and the second time showed some improvement. I was really impressed with her how she handled herself, and I was just hoping for the best really.”

Lauren Salgueiro’s Oldenburg filly Carolina Comet W.E. (Rabble Rouser x Comet Swinger) finished second with a score of 76.8. Megan Bittle’s American Warmblood filly Nevadas Ember BDF, who was fourth as a 2-year-old in the 2021 USEA FEH West Coast Championships, finished third as a 3-year-old in 2022 with a score of 76.2.

From right to left, Secret Romance with owner Stacia Lloyd, handler Chloe Smyth,
FEH judge Marilyn Payne, and FEH judge Katie Rocco. Tina Fitch Photography.

The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program award for the highest-scoring Thoroughbred in the 2022 USEA FEH West Coast Championships went to Gemma-Cieli Richards’ Tappington (Eddington x Tap the Till), a 2-year-old chestnut gelding that was race training at Golden Gate Fields as recently as last month.

The FEH competition had people at Twin Rivers not only excited about the future for the talented young horses but also for future of the FEH series.

“We’re thrilled with how this program is growing on the West Coast and look forward to what’s in store for the future,” said Connie Baxter, organizer of events at Twin Rivers.

2022 USEA FEH West Coast Champions
FEH-4: Valiane (82.6)
FEH-3: Secret Romance (81.3)
FEH-2: High And Mighty (78.3)
FEH-Yearling: Cape Fear (87.6)

The 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) West Coast Championships produced the highest-scoring 5-year-old champion on either coast with That’s Me Z (Take A Chance On Me Z x Venetia) and Tommy Greengard, as well as Natagho-w (Comthago x Odorette-W) and Kristin Joly capturing the 4-year-old title on Saturday at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif.

There were 18 5-year-olds and 12 4-year-olds competing, representing the largest YEH field in the history of the West Coast championships since they were first held as a standalone event in 2020.

That’s Me Z, a chestnut Zangersheide gelding that Greengard owns together with Andrea Pfeiffer, debuted in USEA recognized events earlier in October, competing at Novice at Woodside and Ram Tap in California before taking on the best 5-year-olds on the West Coast as part of the event that culminated 34 YEH qualifiers and the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast and West Coast Championships.

“We’ve had him like a month or so,” Greengard said. “I was just excited to have him out, and the cards were going to fall where they fell. He’s a lovely young horse, and I’m so proud of him for showing off what a nice quality horse he is.”

That’s Me Z and Tommy Greengard. Tina Fitch Photography.

That’s Me Z and Greengard tied for the best dressage score of 16.8 out of a possible 20, followed by a score of 7.9 out of 10 for conformation and type on Friday. Then, on Saturday, they added the best jumping score of 60.6, which included having the best cumulative scores for both stadium jumping and cross country efforts. Their final score of 85.3 topped the 84.2 by the East Coast 5-year-old champion, chestnut Trakehner gelding Sky Moon (E. H. Sixtus x Pr. St. Sky Lady) ridden by Boyd Martin. That could put That’s Me Z and Greengard in position to be awarded the prestigious Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Grant should they qualify for the FEI World Young Horse Championships at Mondial du Lion when the horse is 7.

Nick Cwick finished second and third with his bay Swedish Warmblood gelding Piccadilly’s Pride M.E. (Colmander x Narew xx) and chestnut Hanoverian gelding Lowmax. Starting Over (Street Sense x Indy Five Hundred), a former stakes-winning racehorse under the name of Albert Park, won The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program award recognizing the top-finishing Thoroughbred. Michlynn Sterling and her Irish Sport Horse gelding Gaelic Gamble (Island Commander x Marlton Dusk) were the recipients of the Safe Harbor Award recognizing their partnership.

Just like how That’s Me Z and Greengard represent a new partnership, so too did the 4-year-old West Coast champion Natagho-w and Joly.

“Amber Birtcil owns him through Cellar Farm, and she got him in Holland earlier this year,” Joly said. “He just got to America a month ago. This was her intention, and I get to be lucky enough to go along for the ride.”

Their first USEA recognized event together was the Last Chance Qualifier held on Thursday at Twin Rivers. They had the best score among the nine 4-year-olds. In the championships, they moved up from sixth after dressage and conformation to first with the best jumping score on day two.

“He’s super easy,” Joly said. “He’s just a good boy.”

Natagho-w and Kristin Joly. Tina Fitch Photography.

Cindy Hahn’s German Sport Horse gelding Tristan (Titulus x Elaisa) ridden by Michele Pestl, the leader after dressage and conformation, was reserve champion 4-year-old. Christy Garcia’s Thoroughbred gelding Wynnville ridden by Ella Garcia was third, as well as being the winner of the Go Get ‘Em Award presented by Stillwater Farm in memory of Don Trotter for the best gallop score and the Born In America Award presented to the highest-scoring American-bred horse.

The growing popularity of the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH and FEH West Coast Championships reflects the
vision of the Baxter family at Twin Rivers.

“It’s my vision to make it look and feel like an FEI event for these young horses,” Andrea Baxter, a member of the USEA’s YEH and FEH committees, said before the championships. “They’re only young once, so it’s a unique opportunity for these special young horses to show themselves off.”

2022 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Champions
YEH-5: That’s Me Z and Tommy Greengard (85.3)
YEH-4: Natagho-w and Kristin Joly (84.1)

FEH & YEH Last Chance Qualifier & West Coast Championships (Paso Robles, CA): [Website] [Entries/Times/Scoring] [Volunteer]

Yearling and 2-Year-Old FEH Champions Crowned on First Day of Competition at the USEA YEH and FEH West Coast Championships

From right to left, Cape Fear with owner Sarah Cullum, handler Nolan Spence, FEH judge
Marilyn Payne, and FEH judge Katie Rocco. Tina Fitch Photography.

Sarah Cullum’s Westphalian gelding Cape Fear (Crumble x Sweet City Woman xx) was champion yearling with the best West Coast championship score in history, and Michlynn Sterling’s Trakehner filly High And Mighty (Mighty Magic x High Priestess), whose sire, Mighty Magic, was the World 7-Year-Old Eventing Champion at Le Lion d’Angers in 2010, was champion 2-year-old at the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif., on Friday.

Yearlings and 2-year-olds were first presented for conformation before FEH judges Marilyn Payne from New Jersey and Katie Rocco from Massachusetts. Then, their gaits were evaluated with handlers walking their horses clockwise in a 15-meter triangle followed at the trot in a 30-meter triangle.
Cape Fear, owned by Cullum and handled by Nolan Spence, scored 87.625, the highest among the three FEH champions in 2022. East Coast champion VV-Aniyah (SGF Ahmour x Second Base), an Anglo Arab owned by Bill Payne, scored 87.57 at Loch Moy Farm in Maryland. Central champion Beatrice MRF (Barbarossa x Bayadere), a Trakehner filly owned by Elizabeth Mulroney, scored 79.12 at Haras Hacienda in Texas.

“Just to do the best we could, I just want to make the breeder proud of her line,” said Cullum, who bought Cape Fear from breeder Elizabeth Callahan. “His dad is a Holsteiner, and his mom is an off-track Thoroughbred.”

Cape Fear’s score was also the highest in the history of the West Coast championships, which were first held in 2019, and the best in any FEH championships since Oldenburg gelding Royal Casino (Rosenthal x Lady Logan) and Cynthia Gartrell finished on an 88.33 at the 2018 USEA FEH East Coast Championships.

“Winning is the ultimate goal, but I wasn’t going to be disappointed with however he did because I know how much of a great horse he is,” Cullum said. “He’s been an awesome baby for me. The breeder just did such a great job before I ever bought him.”

The top-finishing yearling filly was Amaya Davis’ Thoroughbred-Irish Draught Sport Horse Sealebrity (Sea Lion x DKH Estrelita) with a score of 75.4. Cullum said she plans to return to Twin Rivers next year for the 2023 USEA FEH West Coast Championships.

For the FEH 2-year-olds, Sterling’s filly High And Mighty won with a score of 78.3, ahead of the top finishing gelding, Erin Storey’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Prachtige Schatt (Markus Des Jardins x Mijin Schatje).

“I just came in wanting to give the two horses an experience,” Sterling said about High And Mighty and her other FEH 2-year-old entrant, Corona Especial (Coranado x Really Elegant). “We bred her with the full intention of the upper levels. We bred the mare [High Priestess] to Mighty Magic thinking that would be a pretty incredible event horse.”

From right to left, High And Mighty with owner and handler Michlynn Sterling,
FEH judge Marilyn Payne, and FEH judge Katie Rocco. Tina Fitch Photography.

Sterling is already looking to the future.

“I love the program,” Sterling said. “I think it just brings on the horses and gives a whole balanced education. Ideally, I’ll bring her back next year for the 3-year-olds and then after that for the 4- and 5- year-olds.”

The first day of competition for the Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse (YEH) West Coast Championships included dressage tests judged by Payne and evaluations for conformation and type for judge Martin Plewa from Germany.

Tommy Greengard rode the two best-scoring 5-year-olds. Both Macha (Don Frederic x Com Airline), a Holsteiner mare owned by Lisa Peecook, and That’s Me Z (Take A Chance On Me Z x Venetia, a Zangersheide gelding owned by Andrea Pfeiffer, came from Germany and began competing in USEA recognized events in October at the Novice level in California ridden by Greengard. Both horses tied for the best dressage score of 16.8, which accounts for 20 percent of the overall score. Macha’s score for conformation and type was 8.0, for an overall score of 24.8. That’s Me Z’s score of 7.9 for conformation and type gave them an overall score of 24.7.

Also with a 24.7 after day one was Lowmax, a Hanoverian chestnut gelding ridden by Nicholas Cwick with four wins at the Training level at events in California in 2022.

For the YEH 4-year-olds, Cindy Hahn’s German Sport Horse Tristan (Titulus x Elaisa) is currently in first-place with a score of 23.7 ridden by Michelle Pestl.

The YEH 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds will do their jumping tests on Saturday to account for the remaining 70 percent of their score.

The FEH 4-year-olds also had their first day of competition on Friday with evaluations under saddle and for conformation before they do the jump chute on Saturday. The current leader is Arnell Sporthorses’ Dutch Warmblood gelding Nicolai Van De Heering (Hernandez TN x Candy D). The FEH 3-year-olds will also go through the jump chute on Saturday. Ride On Video will live stream Saturday’s competition.

Twin Rivers is proud to host the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) and Future Event  Horse (FEH) West Coast Championships with generous support from sponsors. 

Presenting sponsors for the season include: LEGIS Equine, horsemen insuring horsemen, Auburn Labs,  manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black  Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports  medicine boots for equine athletes. 

Supporting sponsors include: Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; Riding Warehouse,  the horse gear and apparel supplier; RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative  infrared therapy devices; and Devoucoux, saddle makers dedicated to the partnership between horse and  rider.  

FEH & YEH Last Chance Qualifier & West Coast Championships (Paso Robles, CA): [Website] [Entries/Times/Scoring] [Volunteer]

Previewing the Biggest YEH and FEH West Coast Championships

Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International. Ride On Photo.

Twin Rivers Ranch is preparing to host the largest field for the Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) and Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Championships since they were first run as a standalone event in Paso Robles, Calif., in 2020. A total of 65 horses were entered as of the start of the week of the competition that will culminate the year of YEH events for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds and FEH events for yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds.

The entrants include former YEH and FEH West Coast champions. Some will begin their weekend by competing in the Last Chance Qualifier on Thursday, Oct. 27, before the championships take place with dressage and conformation evaluations on Friday, Oct. 28, and jumping tests on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“We feel like we’re starting to develop a tradition,” said Connie Baxter, organizer for events at Twin Rivers. “We’re thrilled with how this event has grown and how excited riders on the West Coast are to showcase their young talent.”

The Baxter family’s commitment to growing the YEH and FEH series on the West Coast is also reflected in Andrea Baxter being a member of both the USEA’s YEH and FEH committees.

“I’ve worked very hard to keep the West Coast relative and growing,” Andrea Baxter said. “It’s my vision to make it look and feel like an FEI event for these young horses. They’re only young once, so it’s a unique opportunity for these special young horses to show themselves off.”

There were 41 horses that competed in each of the 2020 and 2021 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH and FEH West Coast Championships.

Among the 20 horses entered in the 5-year-old championships in 2022 are the top three 4-year-olds from 2021—Anita Nardine’s Oldenburg gelding Quinn HSR (Quarterback x Bonne Chance) ridden by Kaylawna Smith-Cook, Michlynn Sterling’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Musquito (Fly x Silona), and Sterling’s Irish Sport Horse gelding Gaelic Gamble (Island Commander x Marlton Dusk).

Sterling’s third 5-year-old entry is Irish Sport Horse gelding Carrigfadda (Luidam x The Big Lady), who is coming off posting the best YEH 5-year-old qualifying score in the country in 2022 with 87.3 and winning the Novice Amateur division on their dressage score of 23.9 at the Twin Rivers Fall International in September.

Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International. Ride On Photo.

“He is the best jumper I’ve ever sat on,” Sterling said about Carrigfadda. “He loves to jump. He just eats it up. I’ve never felt something like that.”
Also in the 5-year-old field is the 2021 USEA FEH 4-Year-Old West Coast champion, Oldenburg mare Graceland’s Ladera (Libero Star x Rittersporn) ridden by Charlotte Freeman. They won a YEH 5-year old qualifying event at Shepherd Ranch in California in June.

For the 12 YEH 4-year-olds, with 10 currently entered in the championships and an additional two in the Last Chance Qualifier, Layla Self’s Oldenburg gelding Indelible (Sandro’s Star x Ava) had the third highest 4-year-old qualifying score in the country in 2022 with 85.3 ridden by Maxance McManamy at Shepherd Ranch in August. McManamy was the 2009 USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year across all breeds and disciplines.

Four of the nine riders with horses entered for the 4-year-old championships will be traveling from outside of California—Ashley Horowitz from Colorado on Irish Sport Horse gelding Monbeg Salt Fever (Womanizer x Eden Breeze), Catie Cejka from Washington on Irish Sport Horse mare MRF Nonchalant (Metropole x Cavalier Carnival Rose), Erin Storey from Idaho on Canadian Warmblood gelding Grayscape (Farscape DSF x Lotta), and Michele Pestl from Washington on German Sport horse gelding Tristan (Titulus x Elaisa).

The field of 10 for the USEA FEH 4-Year-Old West Coast Championships includes Hanoverian gelding RSH Goliath (Gringo-Gallipoli x Sam’s Girl), an FEH West Coast champion as a 2-year-old in 2020 and as a 3-year-old in 2021 when presented by Chloe Smyth.

Two FEH 4-year-olds, The Big Easy (Mr Lincoln B x PLS Hippo Q) and MBF Kingsriver Romeo (Womanizer x Soraja), both Irish Sport Horse geldings, are also entered in the YEH 4-year-old Last Chance Qualifier.

Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International. Ride On Photo.

Among the eight FEH 3-year-olds, Belgian Warmblood mare Trilogy (Claire de Lune x Honor Jean) was the FEH West Coast champion as a yearling in 2020 when presented by owner Janine Jaro and as a 2-year-old in 2021 with Ghislaine Homan-Taylor. Megan Bittle’s 3-year-old American Warmblood gelding Nevadas Ember BDF, fourth as a 2-year-old in 2021, enters the 2022 championships off of the highest FEH qualifying score across all ages this year with 88.3 at the Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials in June.

Martin Plewa from Germany and Marilyn Payne from New Jersey will be the YEH judges at Twin Rivers. Earlier this month, Plewa and Payne judged at the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. Plewa was the national coach of German eventing team from 1985 to 2001 and is well-regarded for his work with young horses. Payne, an eventing judge at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics and recently President of the Ground Jury at the 2022 American Eventing Championships, is the chair of the USEA Young Event Horse Committee.

Payne and Katie Rocco from Massachusetts will be the FEH judges at Twin Rivers. Rocco judged the USEA FEH East Coast Championships at Loch Moy Farm in Maryland last month.

Ride On Video will again produce a livestream of the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH and FEH West Coast Championships. Last year’s livestream attracted approximately 1,000 viewers.

“You ride your upper-level horses, and you know them really well, and then the young horses, it’s like, ‘I wonder what they’re going to do,’” Rebecca Braitling, who rode three YEH championship horses in 2021, said about the camaraderie among riders after last year’s event. “Coming out, you feel like you’re ready to go to the Olympics.”

FEH & YEH Last Chance Qualifier & West Coast Championships (Paso Robles, CA): [Website] [Entries/Times/Scoring] [Volunteer]

Number of Horses (as of Oct. 24)
YEH-5: 20
YEH-4: 10 (with potentially 2 more in Last Chance Qualifier)
FEH-4: 10
FEH-3: 8
FEH-2: 7
FEH-YR: 10
TOTAL: 65 (includes 2 with entries in both YEH-4 and FEH-4)

Sponsors and Volunteers

Twin Rivers is proud to host the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) and Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Championships with generous support from sponsors.

Presenting sponsors for the season include: LEGIS Equine, horsemen insuring horsemen, Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes.

Supporting sponsors include: Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative infrared therapy devices; and Devoucoux, saddle makers dedicated to the partnership between horse and rider.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected].

Volunteers play a major part of events at Twin Rivers. Twin Rivers’ generous volunteer incentive program includes vouchers for show stabling and credits for schooling between events at the beautiful 500-acre venue. That is in addition to the genuine appreciation of the Baxter family and the entire Twin Rivers team. To sign up, please visit www.twinrivershorsepark/volunteer.

Bec Braitling and Caravaggio II Produce Milestone Win in FEI Comeback at Twin Rivers

A double clear cross country round propelled Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II to their first blue ribbon together in the CCI4*-Short, and Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector continued their run of sub-30 dressage tests to win the CCI3*-Short at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International in Paso Robles, Calif.

Other highlights included victory by Grace Wechser and Raskadero on their dressage score in the CCI2*-Short, the best 5-year-old qualifying score in the country this year for the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) by Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda, and the YEH 4-year-old win by Nicole Fuentes and Jungle Love DF.

The CCI4*-Short marked a return to FEI competition for Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses’ 11-year-old British Sport Horse gelding Caravaggio II (Vangelis-S x Courtesan) following their fourth-place finish in the CCI4*-Long at Galway Downs in November 2021.

Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II. Ride On Photo.

“I had my sights set on Kentucky, and we had a health setback in March,” Braitling said. “So, this has been pretty exciting to get him back at that level.”

They continued their streak of never having a cross-country jump fault in the 26 events they’ve completed since they started competing together in 2019. They added just 1.2 time penalties in stadium jumping to finish on a score of 42.6. Kaylawna Smith-Cook finished second and third with the 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding Passepartout (Pasco x Preschel) that she co-owns with Gretchen Cook and the 12-year-old German Sport Horse mare MB MaiBlume (Sir Schiwago x Free Lady) owned by the MB Group LLC.

“He’s a super cross country horse,” Braitling said about Caravaggio II. “He really loves it. It’s funny because he’s quite a spooky horse, so it’s odd that he’s so brave at the same time. But, he is a little bit spooky, which is a good thing because it keeps him careful.”

Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II. Ride On Photo.

Braitling said that she and the owners of Caravaggio II plan to donate their prize money back to the show in appreciation for Twin Rivers’ hosting the FEI levels of eventing.

In the CCI3*-Short, Turner and her 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Shadow Inspector (Tinaranas Inspector x Caragh Roller) improved to 21 of 23 events with sub-30 dressage scores since they started competing together in 2019 after the horse had previously done FEI events in Great Britain. They added 6.8 time penalties on cross country to their dressage score of 26.1 to finish on a score of 32.9 while leading after each phase.

“He really kept the energy well,” Turner said. “I was very happy with him because he’s always so steady and obedient. It’s just adding that next level of brilliance to help continue to get our scores better.”

Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector. Ride On Photo.

The victory was their first since the CCI2*-Short at the 2020 Twin Rivers Fall International. In 2022, the CCI2*Short was won by Wechser and her 16-year-old Westphalian gelding Raskadero (Rascalino x Naddel), who finished on their dressage score of 28.1.

With Twin Rivers Ranch set to host the USEA Young & Future Event Horse West Coast Championships on October 28 and 29, Sterling and her bay Irish Sport Horse gelding Carrigfadda (Luidam x The Big Lady) recorded the best qualifying score in the nation for 5-year-olds in 2022.

Sterling said she plans to return to Twin Rivers to compete in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Championships for the first time, a milestone in a journey that began when she bought Carrigfadda off a video from Ireland in July 2021.

“He has been a handful,” Sterling said. “We call him ‘Oscar the Grouch’ and ‘Trashcan Man’ depending on the day. I actually did not show him at all last year. I tried to sort him out and get to know him. He had such a huge ego. He’s not mean and thinks it’s funny. But, his saving grace is that when you get on him, he’s pretty amazing.”

Sterling and Carrigfadda earned 22.4 out of a possible 30.0 in dressage and 64.9 out of 70.0 in jumping and potential for a total score of 87.3. They also won the Novice Amateur division, finishing on their dressage score of 23.9.

Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda. Ride On Photo.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “He is the best jumper I’ve ever sat on. He loves to jump. He just eats it up. I’ve never felt something like that.”

The next best YEH 5-year-old qualifying scores in the United States this year are 86.7 by the Anglo-Arab gelding A-Debussy Royale (Adzaro de L’Abbaye x Zorosa) ridden by Michael Pendleton and owned by Kelli Temple at the Waredaca Farm Horse Trials in Maryland in August and 86.4 by the Dutch Warmblood mare K.M. Baliaretto (Adagio de Talma x Ubalia) ridden and owned by Kurt Martin at the Flora Lea Fall Horse Trials in New Jersey in September. One more YEH qualifying event will take place at the Spokane Sport Horse Fall Horse Trials in Washington on September 29 before the East Coast and West Coast championships are held in October.

For Fuentes and Jungle Love DF (The Twain x Vanity), the YEH 4-year-old winners at the Twin Rivers Fall International with a score of 75.7, their connection began with the bay Oldenburg mare being foaled at the Dragonfire Farm of Earl and Jennifer McFall where Fuentes is a working student, in addition to having a full-time job in IT for the State of California. Fuentes bought Jungle Love DF as a 2-year-old and finished third with her at the USEA FEH West Coast Championships for 2-year-olds in 2020.

“She loves her job, so it’s been a treat to have a horse that loves to do what they’re doing,” Fuentes said. “She’s always been really brave to fences. She took to jumping really well. It’s one of her favorite things.”

Nicole Fuentes and Jungle Love DF. Ride On Photo.

Winners of FEH qualifiers at the Twin Rivers Fall International were Andrea Baxter and her Irish Sport Horse gelding The Big Easy (Mr Lincoln B x PLS Hippo Q) for 4-year-olds, Anastasia Keyser and Sharon Steinhauser’s Belgian Warmblood mare Saphira De Lune (Clair de Lune SE x Bella Luna) for 3-year-olds, and Gemma Forshaw and her Belgian Warmblood gelding Uno Momento (Donar Weiss x
K GFF Cailida) for 2-year-olds.

“There was great turnout and quality this weekend, particularly for Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse, and we’re excited about the momentum heading into the West Coast championships,” said Connie Baxter, organizer for events at Twin Rivers. “We’re looking forward to hosting and continuing to promote these valuable series.”

Entries for the USEA Young & Future Event Horse West Coast Championships, the final recognized
event to be held at Twin Rivers in 2022, close on October 11.

The full list of winners from the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International:
CCI4*-S: Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II (42.6)
CCI3*-S: Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector (32.9)
CCI2*-S: Grace Wechser and Raskadero (28.1)
Open Intermediate: Josey Thompson and Pistol Annie (50.3)
Open Preliminary: James Alliston and Keep Calm (28.1)
Preliminary Rider: Sophia Merz and Clara Bö (31.9)
Open Training: Nicholas Cwick and Lowmax (24.8)
Jr. Training Rider: Kelson Frieden and RHS Caspar Conthargos (30.0)
Sr. Training Rider: Kendra Mitchell and Calcourt Legend (28.3)
Training Amateur: Stacia Lloyd and Kid A (28.3)
Open Novice: Alexis Helffrich and Dolce Flame (25.8)
Jr. Novice Rider: Sofia Seto and Armi (23.9)
Sr. Novice Rider: Isabella Robinson and Ringwood Rouge (24.4)
Novice Amateur: Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda (23.9)
Open Beginner Novice A: Toora O’Mahony and Kiki’s Delivery Service (25.0)
Open Beginner Novice B: Chloe Smyth and Constantine Stanislavsky (26.9)
Jr. Beginner Novice Rider: Fiona Holland and Joshua Tree (22.8)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider A: Kelly Schwisow and Redfield Out Of The Blue (25.9)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider B: Erin Rousey and Winsome Willow (29.7)
Introductory A: Kassandra Barajas and Sean O’Connor (27.3)
Introductory B: Toora O’Mahony and Presumida MR II (26.0)
FEH-2: Gemma Forshaw and Uno Momento (81.2)
FEH-3: Anastasia Keyser and Saphira De Lune (80.5)
FEH-4: Andrea Baxter and The Big Easy (82.4)
YEH-4: Nicole Fuentes and Jungle Love DF (75.7)
YEH-5: Michlynn Sterling and Carrigfadda (87.3)

Twin Rivers Fall International (Paso Robles, CA): [Website] [Results]

Solaguayre California Takes a Step Forward with Win at Twin Rivers

Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California. Photo by Ride On Photo.

After traveling the world last year and campaigning on the East Coast to start this year, Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria) returned to competition in the home state of her rider, Tamie Smith, to win the Advanced level at the Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials held over Fourth of July Weekend in Paso Robles, California.

The Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials marked the two-year anniversary since Smith took the mount on Solaguayre California and won at the Preliminary level at this event in 2020 aboard Julianne Guariglia’s bay Argentinian Sport Horse that used to compete in 1.3-meter show jumpers in Argentina.

“We’ve definitely been going at a steady uphill speed,” Smith said. “She’s awesome. It’s great to have a horse like her because she’s the real deal.” In the 2022 Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials, they jumped clear and added just time penalties to their dressage score of 29.8 to finish on a score of 35.4.

“She was super,” Smith said. “She was great in all three phases. She really has matured a lot from her East Coast trip.”

This time last year, Solaguayre California and Smith were preparing to compete at Arville in Belgium and Boekelo in the Netherlands. “She handled it like a champ, a very exciting horse for the future,” Smith said. “It’s still a new partnership. It’s only my second year competing and riding her, and she was going Training level when I got her.”

Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California will tackle the 4*-L at Rebecca Farm this month. Photo by Ride On Photo.

Now 11 years old, Solaguayre California’s next event will be the CCI4*-Short at The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. “She’s a bit new to the level and she traveled to the East Coast this spring, so we were trying to get her a run—she hasn’t run since Kentucky in April—so get her out of the box and get her going before the fall season starts,” Smith said.

Finishing second, third, and fourth at Advanced at the Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials were a trio of horses ridden by James Alliston. Alliston Equestrian’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding RevitaVet Calaro (Camiros x Tanner) was second with a score of 35.6. “That was only his second Advanced, so he’s moving up, and I’m really happy with how he’s taking to going Advanced,” Alliston said.

Alliston Equestrian’s 8-year-old Canadian Warmblood Nemesis (by Novalis) was third at 37.5. Helen Alliston’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding Paper Jam (Paparazzo x Reely Jamin XX) was fourth at 39.1. Coincidentally, all three of Alliston’s horses finished the Advanced cross country course designed by Morgan Rowsell within a second of each other’s time. Nemesis and Paper Jam are entered in the CCI4*-Long at Rebecca and RevitaVet Calaro in the CCI4*-Short there.

“I love doing the Twin show three weeks out from Rebecca,” Alliston said. “It’s a really good tune-up and fitness for the horses doing the ‘Longs’ at Rebecca. The ground is nice at Twin, so you can give them a quickish run there.”

Sophia Johnson and Arogorn’s Elegant Falcon took third in the Junior Novice at Twin. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The 2022 Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials also served as the United States Pony Clubs Eventing Championships West. Of the five horses and riders that took part across the Novice and Beginner Novice levels, the top finishers were third-places by Sophia Johnson aboard Arogorn’s Elegant Falcon (by Beyond Time) in the Junior Novice Rider division and by Ryann Bodman and Mohikan (Midnight Lute x Indiam Slipper) in the Senior Novice Rider A division. Bodman and Johnson, with Kayla Bentham as stable manager, were part of the winning Camino Real team.

“Smooth, great, fun, energetic, what Pony Club is supposed to be like, a positive experience,” said Stacey Bodman, the mother of 19-year-old Ryann.

Twin River’s July event featured competition in the USEA’s Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse series. Twin Rivers will host the USEA Young & Future Event Horse West Coast Championships on October 28 and 29. The next event at Twin Rivers will be the Fall International from September 22 to 25.

The full list of winners from the 2022 Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials:

Advanced: Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California (35.4)
Open Intermediate: Helen Alliston and Ebay (26.8)
Open Preliminary: Taren Hoffos and Regalla (28.3)
Preliminary Rider: Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild (29.3)
Open Training: Tommy Greengard and Cappachina (25.5)
Sr. Training Rider: Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb (24.8)
Jr. Training Rider: Lauren Crabtree and Excellence (26.2)
Training Horse: Nicholas Cwick and Lowmax (26.2)
Open Novice: Helen Alliston and Call Me Rudi (26.7)
Sr. Novice Rider A: Mackenzie Davison and Lockdown JPL (27.8)
Sr. Novice Rider B: Carrie Finno and Zahara (28.9)
Jr. Novice Rider: Gracie Pitts and Valeureux (32.5)
Novice Horse: Haley Turner and Remember Me (26.4)
Open Beginner Novice: Tommy Greengard and Shark (29.1)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider: Julienne Biglin and Reverie GWF (23.1)
Jr. Beginner Novice Rider: Marilyn Schackner and Georgie Z (35.0)
Starter: Ellen Gudiksen and Kilkenny Fugitive (35.3)
FEH-3: Megan Bittle and Nevadas Ember BDF (88.3)
FEH-4: Celina Sanchez and Solaguayre Dina (81.3)
FEH-Yearling: John Lyons and Chatsworth Sea Hawk (86.8)
YEH-5: Sigourney Jellins and Catlina PJ (82.4)

Twin Rivers Spring International Has Best in West Looking Ahead to Big Goals

James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The 2022 Twin Rivers Spring International held over Easter Weekend in Paso Robles, Calif., was a key event for some of the West Coast’s top riders to assess their horses, and it proved to be a confidence booster for their journeys to the upper levels of the sport. In the first event of the year held at Twin Rivers Ranch, horses and riders faced questions on cross country presented by new cross country course designer Morgan Rowsell.

India McEvoy returned to competition for the first time since August 2021 and eight weeks after giving birth to her first son, Sam, to reunite with E’zara and win the CCI2*-Long in the black Oldenburg mare’s FEI debut.

Andrea Baxter’s Laguna Seca turned in his best score in an FEI event to win the CCI3*-Short for the bay Holsteiner gelding’s first blue ribbon since last year’s Twin Rivers Spring International at the CCI4*-Short.

James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro followed up their CCI3*-Short victory at the Galway Downs International earlier in April with a win in the CCI3*-Long. Alliston also used Twin Rivers as the final prep for Paper Jam before the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Paper Jam was second at Advanced to Alliston’s other mount at the level, Nemesis. Plus, Irish Pop won at Intermediate for Alliston.

Helen Alliston successfully returned to the CCI4*-Short level aboard Ebay for the first time since breaking her hip and pelvis in May 2021.

And, Castle Larchfield Purdy, now 20 years old and making his first start since competing at the Tokyo Olympics with Lauren Billys of Puerto Rico, won the Preliminary Rider B division with new rider Maddie Smith. The bay Irish Sport Horse gelding and Billys were also Olympians in Rio in 2016.

Welcoming New FEI Cross Country Course Designer Morgan Rowsell to Twin Rivers

India McEvoy and E’zara. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The Twin Rivers Spring International marked the first time for the event that the FEI cross country courses were designed by Morgan Rowsell (FEI Level 3 and USEA “S” course designer).

“I think ultimately the West Coast riders really want to have these courses up to snuff so that they can prepare for Kentucky and international competitions without having to spend all their time, money, and effort going out East,” he said. “My three-year plan would be to get some more infrastructure out to the racetrack [at Twin Rivers] and notch it up to the standard. We have a great event.”

Rowsell said that this is the first time he has designed cross country courses on dirt and that he was pleased with the footing at Twin Rivers. The background he brought from designing up to the Advanced level at the Millbrook Horse Trials, at the Horse Park of New Jersey, at Rocking Horse, at the Aspen Farm Horse Trials, and more was appreciated by riders on the West Coast.

“I thought it was awesome,” James Alliston said. “They used all the water jumps for the 3-star long, which is great. If you have them, why not use them—there was a bounce in, a big drop in, a water-to- water jump. It had everything, so I thought it was a really, really good course. It was long, which I think is important on flattish grounds to make it an endurance test. It had every sort of fence really.”

Added Twin Rivers organizer Connie Baxter: “We were really excited to welcome everyone back to Twin Rivers this year, and we appreciate all the support from the volunteers, sponsors, course builders, staff, and officials to make it happen. We’re excited to have Morgan be part of the team and what he will continue to bring to the course design of the event.”

CCI2*-Long: India McEvoy and E’Zara

India McEvoy and E’zara. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The lowest finishing score at the FEI levels was turned in by India McEvoy and E’zara with a 30.8. McEvoy was competing on the mare that she says stands just 15.1hh for the first time since having a baby eights weeks ago.

“I’ve had this goal of a two-star for like five years,” McEvoy said. “So, it was a big weekend for us to complete and do well. It was a fun weekend.” McEvoy’s coach, James Alliston, had ridden E’zara in her two previous events at the end of 2021.

“I just started riding her six weeks ago after I had my boy,” McEvoy said.

In addition to getting back in the saddle after giving birth, McEvoy’s sense of timing also showed through by finishing her double clear cross country round on the optimum time of 7:19, giving her the tiebreaker over Taylor McFall and Stoneman, who finished with an identical score of 30.8.

CCI3*-Short: Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca

In the CCI3*-Short, Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca were the only pair without a rail in stadium jumping and the only pair to finish within the time while jumping clear on cross country to finish on their dressage score of 33.0. Their cross country time of 6:01 was 10 seconds below optimum and 13 seconds faster than any other competitor at the level.

“By riding him fast on the cross country, I really realized that he finds his scope out of a more forward step and gained a lot of confidence from doing that,” Baxter said. “I think going forward, I’ve discovered a new ride on him.”

Gina Economou and her bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Exclusive were second at 39.7, and Tommy Greengard and his bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Joshuay MBF were third at 39.9.

Baxter said she plans to move Laguna Seca back up to the Advanced level for his next show.

“I moved him up to Advanced last year, probably a little bit prematurely,” Baxter said. “He was going well, but not as well as I would have liked. So, I stepped him back down to Intermediate, 3-star to make it a little smoother and figure out where I could fill in the gaps. This weekend, I had the pressure on to win and finally went fast and think he had the best round he’s ever had. I’m really excited.”

CCI3*-Long: James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro

James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro. Photo by Ride On Photo.

In the CCI3*-Long, James Alliston and his bay Holsteiner gelding RevitaVet Calaro recorded a double- clear cross country round and added four jumping penalties to finish at 38.6 and defeat two entrants ridden by Chloe Smyth, the dark brown Thoroughbred gelding Flyin Huckleberry in second at 44.7 and the bay Belgian Warmblood gelding Guinness on Draught in third at 45.1.

“He’s a bit buzzy in the mind, but he’s really talented,” James Alliston said. “He’s just hot, and it takes a bit of work to have him relaxed in the dressage. He’s just sort of a bit lit-up in general on the show grounds, kind of nervy. He has a lot of talent, going well, and will have learned a lot this weekend.”

James Alliston completed a trifecta of blue ribbons with the chestnut Canadian Warmblood gelding Nemesis at Advanced and the bay Hanoverian gelding Irish Pop at Intermediate.

Nemesis has not been outside of the top two in seven events since July 2021. He overtook James Alliston’s other entrant at Advanced, the chestnut Hanoverian-Thoroughbred gelding Paper Jam, by jumping clear and just adding time penalties to finish on a score of 47.6.

“Nemesis is green and has only done one Advanced two weeks ago, but he’s a very nice horse,” he said. “Just giving him mileage at the level really. It was a nice, strong course, had all sort of different jumps, lots of different jumps in the water. So, I think he will have learned a lot.”

James Alliston is scheduled to compete at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event for the first time since 2017 with Paper Jam.

“I’m quite nervous,” said Alliston, who previously competed in Kentucky every year from 2011 to 2017. “I think when you’re going every year, it’s just sort of routine. But, I haven’t been in a while, and it’s the horse’s first time going.”

Irish Pop finished on his dressage score of 30.6 at Intermediate over Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector.

CCI4*-Short: Helen Alliston and Ebay

Helen Alliston and Ebay. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The CCI4*-Short was the 16th victory for Ebay since Helen Alliston began competing on the grey Oldenburg gelding in 2016, but she said this win was particularly significant.

“This was our first big one; we had a bit of a crash last May and I broke my hip and my pelvis,” she said. “It was a little bit nerve-racking going into this one. This was my first time back at the level, but he felt fantastic and confident. So, I was thrilled.”

Helen Alliston and Ebay also won at the level at the Woodside International in October 2019. Their win at Twin Rivers over Madison Temkin and the bay Thoroughbred gelding Dr. Hart came after a 29.1 in dressage and adding four stadium jumping penalties plus some time penalties in the jumping phases to finish on 42.3.

Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro. Photo by Ride On Photo.

In Open Preliminary, Jordan Linstedt and the bay Hanoverian mare Lovely Lola only added 1.6 time penalties on cross country to their dressage score of 22.6 to finish at 24.2 for their fifth win in a row at the Preliminary level. Maddie Smith and the bay Thoroughbred gelding Versace won Preliminary Rider A with a score of 32.7, while Smith and Castle Larchfield Purdy moved up from 12th after dressage to win Preliminary Rider B with a score of 39.3.

Looking ahead in the 2022 calendar, Twin Rivers is scheduled to host the Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials from June 30 to July 3, the Twin Rivers Fall International from Sept. 22 to 25, and the FEH & YEH Last Chance Qualifier and West Coast Championships from Oct. 27 to 29.

The full list of winners from the 2022 Twin Rivers Spring International:

CCI4*-S: Helen Alliston and Ebay (42.3)
CCI3*-L: James Alliston and RevitaVet Calaro (38.6)
CCI3*-S: Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca (33.0)
CCI2*-L: India McEvoy and E’zara (30.8)
Advanced: James Alliston and Nemesis (47.6)
Open Intermediate: James Alliston and Irish Pop (30.6)
Open Preliminary: Jordan Linstedt and Lovely Lola (24.2)
Preliminary Rider A: Maddie Smith and Versace (32.7)
Preliminary Rider B: Maddie Smith and Castle Larchfield Purdy (39.3) Open Training: Tommy Greengard and Shannondale Fionn (28.1)
Sr. Training Rider A: Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild (26.4)
Sr. Training Rider B: Audrey Morrissey and Lord Limon (30.6)
Jr. Training Rider: Morgan Tyler and Livius (26.9)
Training Amateur: Kristin Terris and Rathcash Olympia (29.7) Training Horse: Rebecca Braitling and Conlino PS (29.4)
Open Novice: Tommy Greengard and Global Barouma (23.6)
Sr. Novice Rider: Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb (33.0)
Jr. Novice Rider: Abigail Huth and London Calling OHF (26.4) Novice Amateur: Margaret Crow and Gusto (30.8)
Novice Horse: Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Cooley Sky Watch (20.6) Open Beginner Novice: Caitlin Davison and Manaslu (27.9)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider: Angela Bryson and Petite Pavarotti (29.7) Jr. Beginner Novice Rider: Gracie Pitts and Valeureux (28.4)

Sponsors and Volunteers

Twin Rivers was proud to host the 2022 Twin Rivers Spring International with generous support from sponsors.

Presenting sponsors for the season include: LEGIS Equine, horsemen insuring horsemen, Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes.

Supporting sponsors include: Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; and RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative infrared therapy devices.

For 2022 sponsorship opportunities, please contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected].

Volunteers play a major part of events at Twin Rivers. Twin Rivers’ generous volunteer incentive program includes vouchers for show stabling and credits for schooling between events at the beautiful 500-acre venue. That is in addition to the genuine appreciation of the Baxter family and the entire Twin Rivers team. To sign up, please visit www.twinrivershorsepark/volunteer.

Many thanks to Ride On Photo for the images — click here to shop your rider gallery if you competed at Twin Rivers this weekend!

YEH and FEH West Coast Championships Puts Eventing’s Rising Stars in Spotlight

Lex D, owned by Cellar Farm Corp and ridden by Amber Birtcil. PC: Tina Fitch Photography/US Eventing

The 2021 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) and USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Championships held on Oct. 29 and 30 at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif., gave young horses the chance to shine on a big stage. The 4-year-olds and 5‑year-olds that culminated a year of YEH events and the yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds that finished the FEH calendar for 2021 left the judges, their riders, and those in attendance excited about what lies ahead for the future of the sport of eventing.

YEH 5-Year-Old West Coast Championship

Lex D, a bay Dutch Warmblood gelding ridden by Amber Birtcil and owned by Cellar Farm, captured the YEH 5-Year-Old West Coast Championship. Quinn HSR, a chestnut Oldenburg gelding ridden by Kaylawna Smith-Cook and bred and owned by Anita Nardine, won the YEH 4-Year-Old West Coast Championship.

Birtcil started working with Lex D in the spring after the horse came to the United States from the Netherlands. Maarten Groeneveld, who bred the bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Carry On that Birtcil rode to wins at the Advanced level in 2016 and 2019, connected Birtcil with the bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Lex D.

“My goal all year with him was to do the 5-year-old Young Event Horse [West Coast] Championships,” Birtcil said. “I knew he had a great amount of talent and it would be a great showcase for him to show that off in.”

YEH judges Chris Ryan from Ireland and Debbie Adams from the United States scored the West Coast Championship horses in three sections: conformation/type, dressage, and jumping test/gallop/general impression. Lex D scored highest of the 13 5-year-olds in conformation/type with a 9.7 out of 10 and combined that with the second-best dressage score of 16.6 out of 20 and fourth-best jumping score of 66.6 out of 70 for a total of 92.9.

 

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“He’s a super mover and very much a head-turner just to look at,” Birtcil said. “On top of that, he’s super brave and has a great jump. He was at a show jump barn in Holland where I get most of my horses from, but the big thing that Maarten and I both look for is that they just have to be brave and willing.”

The West Coast reserve champion for the 5-year-olds, the brown Dutch Warmblood/Holsteiner mare Liefhebber ridden by Andrea Baxter, turned in the best dressage score of 16.8 and second-best jumping test score of 66.9.

“She is a fabulous mover and a fabulous jumper,” Baxter said. “I’m still getting to know her, and she’s green. But, in a weird way, my mistakes almost showed off her talent better. She was fabulous in the whole thing.”

Montecristo, a bay Thoroughbred gelding with a previous racing career under the name of Swope, had the top jumping test score of 67.5 ridden by Joe McKinley. Montecristo won The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) award for the YEH 5-Year-Old West Coast Championship.

 

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YEH 4-Year-Old West Coast Championship

While the YEH 5-Year-Old West Coast Champion came from Europe, the YEH 4-Year-Old West Coast Champion Quinn HSR was bred in Southern California. Smith-Cook, whose work with youngsters also includes being a new mom to her 1-year-old daughter Kennedi, said that the talent of Quinn HSR has only shown through recently.

“His brain is just so easygoing,” Smith-Cook said. “He’s pretty go-with-the-flow, and then he has the gaits. He moves super well. He jumps fantastic. He just wants to do his job.”

They combined the third-best dressage score of 15.8 with the second-best conformation score of 8.7 and second-best jumping test score of 59.7 for a winning total of 84.2.

“It’s kind of hard to pick one thing or one phase,” Smith-Cook said. “I would say he’s super good at the flat work, but his gallop is unreal.”

West Coast reserve champion Musquito, a bay Dutch Warmblood gelding ridden by Bec Braitling and owned by Michlynn Sterling, recorded the best jumping test score of 60.8 among the 10 4-year-olds. Braitling also finished third with Gaelic Gamble, a chestnut Irish Sport Horse gelding also owned by Sterling.

NSF R-Twain Star ridden by Jillian Terzian and Magnesium Overcast ridden by Lani Homan-Taylor had the top dressage scores of 15.9 while finishing sixth and eighth, respectively, overall.

McKinley’s bay Thoroughbred gelding Starting Over, a former racehorse under the name of Albert Park, captured the Stillwater Farm Award for the best gallop score for the 4‑year-olds and The Jockey Club’s T.I.P. Award for the 4-year-old class.

The Safe Harbor Award for the YEH competitor exhibiting the most rider-friendly performance went to 5-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Leonardo Diterma, the 2020 YEH 4-Year-Old West Coast Champion.

 

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USEA FEH West Coast Championships

For the USEA FEH West Coast Championships, Graceland’s Ladera, a bay Oldenburg mare owned and handled by Charlotte Freeman, was West Coast champion 4-year-old after Friday’s evaluations of horses’ gaits under saddle and conformation and Saturday’s free jump by judges Susan Graham‑White from the United States and Chris Ryan from Ireland.

Graceland’s Ladera also qualified for The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Championship through Twin Rivers’ Last Chance Qualifier held on Oct. 28, but Freeman opted to focus on the FEH series as a better fit for where the mare was in her training.

RSH Goliath, who is owned by Michelle Cameron Donaldson and handled by Chloe Smyth, captured the 3-year-old West Coast championship following Friday’s conformation and Saturday’s free jump. The chestnut Hanoverian gelding was also the 2-year-old West Coast champion in 2020.

Trilogy, a grey Belgian Warmblood/Thoroughbred filly bred and owned by Janine Jaro and handled by Homan‑Taylor, was 2-year-old West Coast champion based on Friday’s conformation evaluation after also winning as a yearling in 2020.

Megan Bittle’s bay American Warmblood gelding Charmander BDF was West Coast champion yearling.

 

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Super Second Year

With 2020 being the first year that the YEH and FEH West Coast Championships were run as a standalone event at Twin Rivers, 2021 saw the event grow in popularity.

“We’re year two into it, and it was impressive how many more people traveled from a far distance to come here,” organizer Connie Baxter said.

The weekend gave young horses their own special-event experience. In addition to several hundred in attendance, the livestream produced by Ride On Video attracted approximately 1,000 viewers.

“For as quiet as a show that it is with it being a standalone event, it still has a ton of atmosphere which is great exposure for the young horses,” Birtcil said. “If they are going to move forward in this sport, I think it’s a great opportunity for them. It’s fun to do with the young horses and really builds their confidence.”

It also gave the riders a chance to appreciate their rising stars.

“You ride your upper-level horses, and you know them really well, and then the young horses, it’s like, ‘I wonder what they’re going to do,’” Braitling said about the camaraderie among riders. “Coming out, you feel like you’re ready to go to the Olympics.”

All Systems Go for Spring Gulch Horse Trials

Farrago S and Ron Stephens were winners at Training at the Spring Gulch Horse Trials in May. They are entered for the second recognized event of 2021 to be held at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area. Photo by Zina Balash.

Recent improvements to the cross country course at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area in Colorado will highlight the second Spring Gulch Horse Trials of 2021 that will take place on August 7 and 8.

The combination of new jumps built by Greg Schlappi, the painting of existing jumps by the MSEA-CCC organization that runs the event, and new tracks set by organizer and course designer Andy Bowles will welcome approximately 120 entries.

“We’re always looking to keep Spring Gulch fresh,” Bowles said. “This event means so much to the local community, so we’re honoring its legacy while also looking to the future.”

The Spring Gulch Horse Trials will be run as one-day events with Prelim, Training, Novice, and part of Beginner Novice scheduled to compete on Saturday. The remainder of Beginner Novice, as well as Intro, will take place on Sunday.

Farrago S ridden by Ron Stephens at Training and Maggie Belle ridden by Chris Kawcak at Novice were division winners in May that are entered in August. Also, Vegas and Dean Santistevan, a winner at Beginner Novice in May, returns at Novice. P.S. Etoile De Nord, a winner at Intro with Brittany Mintz in May, will be ridden by Abby Williams at Intro this weekend.

The Spring Gulch Equestrian Area is a 106-acre space owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that has been a public equestrian park for more than three decades. Through a partnership between the Mountain Sports Eventing Association Central Colorado Chapter (MSEA-CCC) and the Highlands Ranch Metro District, multiple recognized events and schooling shows are held at Spring Gulch each year. After this month’s recognized event, the next competition will be the Spring Gulch Combined Test on September 25.

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Spring Gulch H.T. to Kick Off Recognized Eventing in Colorado in 2021

Dani Sussman and Jos Bravio clear a Prelim table at the Spring Gulch Horse Trials on July 4, 2020. It was their first event together en route to moving up to CCI3*-S in 2021. Photo by Ashley Horowitz.

USEA recognized events are scheduled to return to Colorado in 2021 with the Spring Gulch Horse Trials on May 22 and 23. The longstanding event held at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area, a 106-acre public equestrian park owned by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, will feature levels from Prelim to Intro offered as one-day events. On Saturday, May 22, will be Prelim to Beginner Novice, with Intro taking the spotlight on
Sunday, May 23.

“The one-day format that we implemented last year takes advantage of the strengths of the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area and was positively received,” show organizer Andy Bowles said. “Competitors can enjoy a full day of eventing on the day of their level and also have a weekend day outside of the competition.”

Having a day devoted to Intro will also give new eventers and their horses, some of whom will be competing in their first show, a relaxed atmosphere focused on their level.

There will be a second horse trials at Spring Gulch on August 7 and 8. Bowles said he plans to update the cross country course between the two recognized events. The organizer of the Virginia Horse Trials has also overseen the Spring Gulch Horse Trials since 2019. “We like to keep the course fresh and offer riders and horses in this area opportunities to grow,” he said.

The Spring Gulch Equestrian Area is also open year-round for schooling through a partnership between the Mountain Sports Eventing Association Central Colorado Chapter (MSEA-CCC), Friends of Spring Gulch, and the Highlands Ranch Metro District.

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