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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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