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Leslie Threlkeld


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VHT International & Horse Trials Bids a Fond Farewell

Lexington, VA — The final rendition of the VHT International & Horse Trials took place November 3-6, 2022 at the Virginia Horse Center. After more than 30 years of quality eventing competition, the Virginia Horse Trials leaves behind a special legacy and contribution to the sport.

In a special presentation, Andy and Angela Bowles were presented with a VHT logo hand-painted by Demmi Hersh and a second canvas with hundreds of signatures and thank you notes from VHT fans. They were joined in the ring by a small portion of the VHT family (not everyone was present, as the show was still running). Teamwork makes the dream work. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

VHT was founded by Brian and Penny Ross in 1989. Andy and Angela Bowles took the reins in 2015. VHT has been a mainstay and destination event on the East Coast throughout its history, regularly hosting 500-600 entries in recent years, catering to amateurs and professionals alike from Starter through CCI3* levels.

Following the May 2022 event, the Virginia Horse Center withdrew from contract negotiations with the organizers to continue running VHT. The Bowles hope to continue running the event on the same dates at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC, pending USEF approval.

For the VHT staff, the conclusion of the event in its current form is deeply felt. It is the end of an era that is difficult to sum up in words as we bid VHT – as we know it – a fond farewell.

Andy Bowles, Co-Organizer: “I’ve always said that running an event of this magnitude is a team effort. Every single staff member and volunteer is part of the team, but we’ve also grown as a family over the last eight years. I’m unendingly grateful to the people, competitors, and family for all their support over the years. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication. Thank you to our customers – over 500 starters! – who turned out for the last VHT at the Horse Center. We are so grateful for your generous support and words of encouragement.”

Angela Bowles, Co-Organizer: “It took a lot to get me to move from Texas. It was hard to leave my family there, but I knew I had a family in Virginia, too, and that’s largely because of everyone at Virginia Horse Trials. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll never regret the relationships that I’ve made because of it.”

Emily Kolokowsky, Volunteer Organizer: “VHT means 15 days a year I get to spend with some of the best people I know. I have gained invaluable friendships and connections the last six years. I cannot thank Andy, Angela, and every single volunteer enough for all the love and support they have always given me. It has always been a dream of mine to compete at VHT. Instead I got something even better – an opportunity to be part of an incredible team.”

Terry Abrams, Secretary: “I cannot say what VHT has meant to me in a few words under Andy and Angela Bowles. My kids and farm kids grew up riding here! As the VHT show secretary, I have found a family and part of a beautiful, well-run organization that I am proud to have done my part to help grow into the thriving, well-organized show it has become. My prayer is we continue to bring this special group to our next venue to continue to advance our beloved sport and service our riders.”

David Taylor, Course Designer: “Five years ago I became part of VHT and have not looked back since. VHT is more than a horse show, it’s a well-oiled machine with many moving parts that act more like a family unit. Every single one of us worked together for the common good, stepping up when others needed help. My one greatest regret is not being able to run the cross-country one last time, but the memories I’ve had galloping the hills of the Blue Ridge will live on forever thanks to Andy and Angela.”

As for this scribe, it is the disruption of the family unit that is most profound. I never went through a VHT event without hearing “you’re part of the team” at least several times. Andy and Angela made people feel valued and built a close-knit, determined community. We worked hard for the sport, but we were most inspired to work hard for them.

We hope to see everyone again and continue with our traditions at Tryon. We hope the Federations see the support that has been lobbied behind the organizers and respond positively. On behalf of the entire VHT family, thank you for following along through the years and thank you for all your support.

Angela Bowles Retires Novelle After 113 Horse Trials

Angela Bowles and Novelle at Kentucky in 2016. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of a 500-entry event at Virginia International Horse Trials, co-organizer Angela Bowles took time to celebrate and reflect on the lengthy and impactful career of her longtime partner, Novelle. After 14 years eventing, Novelle has been officially retired from competition.

“It was a hard decision to retire Novelle from competition as she has far from lost the fire to compete. But as the stewards of these wonderful horses, it is our duty and privilege to make sure that we care for them in the twilight of their careers,” Bowles said.

“I can’t put into words what she has meant to me and so many others. Novelle was the horse that no one believed in as a racehorse, so much so that she was given to me. I feel like no one expected great things of her, or of me – a small town girl from nowhere Texas.”

The now 20-year-old off-track Thoroughbred mare had a storied career. Together, Bowles and Novelle contested the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* in 2015 and 2016. Novelle also finished second in a jumping grand prix, competed in 22 FEI events, and earned 2010 USEA Preliminary Horse of the Year. She had 10 wins and finished in the top ten in 88% of her runs She also jumped clear in show jumping in 83%.

Angela Bowles and Novelle. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“Novelle always kept me safe, she kept me humble, she showed me the world of upper-level eventing, she taught me, she made me feel like there was no jump too big or too hard. I owe my entire riding career to this horse,” Bowles said.

After stepping down from the upper-levels of the sport, Novelle showed several riders the ropes around the lower levels, from Beginner Novice to CCI2*-L. Novelle’s USEA record spans seven pages. In total, she finished a remarkable 113 USEA events with 10 different riders.

“It is obvious all the things that Novelle did for my career, but not reflective of what truly makes Novelle special,” Bowles said. “What she has done that is the most special is show such a variety of riders how to have confidence and love of the sport. To watch riders who previously had confidence issues or were suffering the loss of their horses be re-ignited in the sport solely because of this diminutive mare means more to me than I can ever express. Thank you Novelle, for keeping us all safe and always giving your absolute all.”

Happy retirement, Novelle.

Lisa Chan Wins Virginia H.T. CCI1*-L in First FEI Appearance

Lisa Chan and Fernhill Picture This, CCI1*-L winner. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Nearly 500 horses competed at VHT International May 26-29, 2022 at the sprawling Virginia Horse Center in Lexington.

Only five CCI2*-L horse-and-rider combinations show jumped double-clear Sunday afternoon, and two of those rounds were produced by Lucia Strini (USA). With both of her mounts finishing on their dressage scores, Strini took home first and third place in a class of 28 starters.

Strini and Kevin G, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Plain Dealing Farm, led from start to finish, ending on a 29.5.

“He’s only just moved up to Prelim this spring. We weren’t aiming at a three-day but he’s taken to it so quickly. He’s been perfect,” Strini said of the striking grey gelding. “Cross-country was really hilly so he had to work pretty hard, but he’s really honest and he’s a great show jumper. So I was hoping he’d keep them up today and he did! He’s my sister’s horse and it’s been fun to ride him this spring.”

Kevin G’s stablemate Keynote Dassett, also owned by Plain Dealing Farm, finished on 33.9, moving up from eighth after dressage with fault-free cross-country and jumping tests.

Lucia Strini and Kevin G, CCI2*-L winner. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

“We’ve just been getting to know each other,” said Strini, who imported the 7-year-old Warmblood from Dassett Eventing in England last October. “He’s pretty quirky but he’s an amazing athlete and found it all really easy this weekend. He’s just a joy.”

Strini and her family hail from nearby Charlottesville, Virginia. VHT is their “hometown event” and they’ve been competing here since they were children riding in Pony Club rallies.

“This is such a great facility. The courses and rings are getting better and better,” she said. “It’s such a big atmosphere and a great start for the young ones especially.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp took home several top finishes at VHT. She piloted the Calmaria Partnership’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Cooley HHS Calmaria to first place in the CCI3*-S, finishing on a 37.4. She also followed closely on a 37.5 with second place Cooley Nutcracker, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Halliday-Sharp, Deborah Halliday, Renee Lane, and Ocala Horse Properties. Halliday-Sharp also topped the Advanced/Intermediate on a 34.2 with her longtime partner Deniro Z, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties, and won the Modified on 22.7 with Deborah Palmer’s 6-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, Maybach. Halliday-Sharp topped off the event Sunday finishing second in the CCI2*-L with her own 7-year-old Westphalian mare Alina SD

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley HHS Calmaria, CCI3*-S winner. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“We always come here because it has good terrain and they work hard on the ground. I’ve enjoyed coming here for the last couple of years,” Halliday-Sharp said. “It was a busy weekend. I think the courses were challenging enough and had enough to do. All the rain we had presented trickier conditions on cross-country which meant we had to work a little harder.”

With a full barn at home in Kentucky, Halliday-Sharp is busy traveling to competitions with different horses each week. She was at Chattahoochee Hills in Georgia last weekend. From Virginia she heads to Bromont in Canada and then it’s on to Germany for the Luhmühlen CCI5*-L. VHT’s undulating terrain served as a good fitness run.

“We have a lot of horses in the barn, so we try to place everyone in the right event,” she said. “This weekend I had one prepping for Bromont, and another in their first run at the level. I wanted them to run quick enough and get a good puff in. That’s why I like coming here; the horses come away having had to work a little bit.”

Lisa Chan and her 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse Fernhill Picture This were sitting in sixth place prior to the start of the final phase. They lowered one rail to add 4.0 penalties to their score, but with several rails and technical errors occurring in the division, they climbed the leaderboard to ultimately win their first international event on a 39.9.

Chan purchased Fernhill Picture This from her trainer Daryl Kinney one-and-a-half years ago. She describes him as goofy and food motivated, but “he’s a solid citizen when it comes to work.” The pair were seventh after dressage on a 35.9, and posted a double-clear cross-country round in their first trip around a CCI1*-L. “He acted like he’d been doing it his whole life,” Chan said.

“He’s my tangerine dream,” Chan said of the chestnut gelding, gesturing to her stock tie adorned with images of the orange fruit. “We’re both very green and this is our first FEI. We were just looking to have a solid experience. He was a star and super ridable and lovely. We had a blast.”

Jillian Dean and her 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Kingcarra Cooley Diamond finished second in the CCI2*-L with a 40.6. Holly Shade and her 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse/Oldenburg mare Hang On Caitlyn moved up to third with a final score of 43.2.

Nicholas Beshear and Rio de Janeiro, CCI2*-S winner. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Beshear picked up his first international victory with a win in the CCI2*-S riding Rio de Janeiro. In only their second event together, Beshear and the 13-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding owned by Nicholas’s father Jeff Beshear, moved up from seventh after dressage to finish on a 34.4, having added 1.6 time penalties to their initial score.

Chris Talley and his 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Loughtown Cici ZA finished on their dressage score of 35.9 to move up from 11th to finish second in the CCI2*-S.

Ariel Grald earned third place in both the CCI3*-S with Annie Eldridge’s 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Belline Cavalry Man and the CCI2*-S with Eldridge’s 8-year-old Holsteiner mare Isla de Coco. Additionally, Grald finished second in the Advanced/Intermediate with Eldridge’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Forrest Gump 124.

VHT is pleased to host competitors representing many nations, from Barbados to Canada to the Netherlands, from Starter level up to Advanced/Intermediate. “We are always grateful for the competitors who choose to come to VHT. We hope that they have come to know they will enjoy comfortable facilities and great sport when they come here,” VHT organizer Andy Bowles said.

“This weekend presented some challenges for us with the schedule changes due to weather as well as missing some key members of the team due to matters beyond our control. I want to thank the competitors for their flexibility and understanding with the schedule changes. I also want to thank my team for working together, picking up the slack, and making sure the show ran smoothly. Angela and I can’t run this event without a great team in place and I think ours is one of the very best.”

VHT International & H.T. (Lexington, Va.): [Website] [Scoring]

Intercollegiate Eventing Comes to Area 1

Photo courtesy of Town Hill Farm.

Calling all college students! Town Hill Horse Trials in Lakeville, CT, will host Area I’s first Intercollegiate Team Challenge on August 28, 2022. All levels are welcome and your school does not need an official eventing team to participate.

The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2014. The program was originally established to provide a framework on which eventing teams and individual competitors could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. It has developed into a thriving program through which college aged eventers can identify a supportive and like-minded community to support the pursuance of their equestrian goals while balancing the rigors of a college education.

Intercollegiate team challenges have become popular additions to recognized horse trials across the country and give students the chance to experience the fun and camaraderie of riding on a team.

Interested in riding in the intercollegiate team challenge at Town Hill? Here are some important things to know:

  • You do not have to have a USEA Collegiate Membership, you only have to be a current undergraduate college student! This is only a requirement for the USEA Eventing Championships.
  • Your school does not have to have an official eventing team. Only the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships requires the team to be a registered affiliate.
  • It doesn’t matter if you go to a private college, state university, or community college. All college students are welcome!
  • Intercollegiate eventing is for all levels! Teams made up of mixed levels are very common. A level factor coefficient will be applied in scoring to “even the playing field.”
  • Teams are made up of 3 or 4 competitors. Teams of 4 have a “drop” score.
  • Wearing your school colors and decorating your stalls in team gear is encouraged!

To enter Town Hill’s Intercollegiate team challenge, enter the competition as an individual like you normally would, then get to work forming your team! Email your team roster to the event secretary. And have fun! Learn more about USEA Intercollegiate Eventing here.

Caroline Martin Defends USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship Title at VHT International

Caroline Martin and Galwaybay Blake. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

At Sunday’s conclusion of the VHT International & Horse Trials, Caroline Martin won her second consecutive USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship and the Richard Collins Trophy. She took home both the Champion and Reserve Champion titles riding Galwaybay Blake and HSH Did It Anyway, respectively, jumping fault-free rounds under pressure to hold their overnight positions.

“I’m really proud of them. It’s not often we do show jumping last anymore with the new format,” Martin said. “They are six years old and they did a lot yesterday. For them to come out and jump phenomenal and have a lot of gas in the tank is extremely important to me. I think we did our homework and they felt fit and ready.”

Both Galwaybay Blake and HSH Did It Anyway were sourced by Martin’s business partner Kelly Hutchison, who also paired Martin with this year’s USEA 4-Year-Old Young Event Horse Champion HSH Best Kept Secret and 5-year-old Young Event Horse Reserve Champion Galwaybay Redfield HSH Connor. Martin, who runs a thriving sales business, hopes to keep and produce Galwaybay Blake and HSH Did It Anyway to the top levels.

Caroline Martin and HSH Did It Anyway. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“With each horse we have a plan. Last year my goal with Galwaybay Blake was to do as well as I could at the USEA Young Event Horse Championships, and he won that. This year my prep was to start thinking about getting him ready for Le Lion as a 7-year-old,” Martin explained. “Next year my goal is to get him as fit as possible and a bit more educated at the Intermediate level so we can fly over to Le Lion and be competitive.

“HSH Did It Anyway went from never eventing all the way to Preliminary level since the spring. I’m excited how easy it’s been to transfer him to the eventing world. Galwaybay Blake has fitness where Did It Anyway needs a little bit more. I don’t know if I’ll move him up to Intermediate or do another CCI2*-L so I can keep increasing the baseline of fitness. They are both super, proper horses and I think the world of them.”

While Martin has big plans for these promising young horses, they will get a well-deserved break first. “We’re going to take off their hind shoes and then chuck them out in the field for a month or two.”

Megan Loughnane and Flamenco Ping. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The top placed Jr/YR in the CCI2*-L and presented with the Harry T. Peters Trophy was Megan Loughnane and Flamenco Ping. They jumped a double-clear round to finish 12th overall in their first CCI2*-L competition.

“He’s a fun horse. He loves to jump. He was a little spooky on cross-country so we didn’t quite get the time but he was super brave,” Loughnane said. “He’s going to get a little break and hopefully move up to the three-star level next year.”

Loughnane is a student at University of Virginia and works hard to balance her school work with riding. “It’s a lot to get all my work done and ride but it’s worked out so far. I tried to make my schedule so I have time to ride every day and then go back and do homework,” she said.

Alexis Poe and Tell ‘M Nothin earned second highest placed Jr/YR in the CCI2*-L, finishing a fraction of a penalty point behind Loughnane in 13th place.

Ariel Grald and Diara. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ariel Grald entered the final phase of the CCI3*-L in first and second place. Two double-clear rounds secured her positions with Diara, who led from start to finish, and Isla de Coco, who moved up from equal third after dressage to finish second. Both mares owned by Annie Eldridge were competing in their first CCI3*-L.

“I’m really proud of them,” Grald said. “They’re really just stepping up to the plate for seven year olds. I’m really happy with where they’re at and they both put in three good phases.”

Both horses finished on their dressage scores of 26.4 and 27.9 in a competitive division. “It’s what I hoped for,” Grald said. “I have confidence in their flatwork and jumping and my fitness program, so I knew I had done all the prep and they were schooling really well. It was within their capabilities, but they both rose to the occasion.”

Ainslee Myers and Ballinglen Quality came out on top in the CCI1*-L. Posting one of only three faultless show jumping rounds in the class, they moved up from equal third after cross-country to win the pair’s first FEI event.

“I got him a year ago from Sharon White. He had done one Novice. I brought him home, jumped him around, and thought ‘I love this one,’” Myers said. “I did my first event with him in Aiken in February. He got third in his first Training and it’s only gone upwards from there.”

Scoring a 31.1 in dressage, the pair went double-clear on cross-country. Sunday’s show jumping shook up the standings, but Myers and her grey gelding ultimately finished on their dressage score.

Ainslee Myers and Ballinglen Quality. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“He’s lovely on the flat. A lot of it is getting my balance with him. On cross-country he is so bold and does what I tell him to do. He’s always listening,” Myers said of the 9-year-old gelding — a favorite in the barn and lovingly known as Sweet Boy Echo. “He is the most perfect horse.”

In addition to the FEI divisions, VHT hosts Starter through Advanced/Intermediate levels and a variety of team competitions.

“We are proud and pleased to have the FEI and national divisions come together at VHT for a true celebration of the sport at all levels,” VHT Organizer Andy Bowles said. “It is unfortunate that VHT is losing the CCI3*-L in 2023 due to USEF feeling like it’s not required. We would be happy to continue running it. Thank you to all the competitors and their support teams for another great competition. We hope to see you again in May.”

VHT International & H.T. Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook | General Schedule | Live Scores | Ride Times | Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge Scores | Area II Team Challenge Final Results | Interscholastic Team Challenge Final Results

Caroline Martin Commands USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship; Ariel Grald Tops 3* Divisions

Caroline Martin and Galwaybay Blake. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Caroline Martin is hunting her second consecutive win in the CCI2*-L division at the VHT International & Horse Trials. Sitting first and second after cross-country riding Galwaybay Blake and HSH Did It Anyway respectively, Martin is also leading the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship.

Both geldings are six years old and competing for the first time in a CCI2*-L. In fact, HSH Did It Anyway, previously a show jumper, only just started eventing in the spring. They carry two phase scores of 25.5 and 29.7 to the final phase of competition.

“A CCI2*-L is the hardest thing they can do for their age,” Martin said. “Both went out and were fantastic. My job is to give them a positive run, and just try to further their education. I want to take them to the highest level, so my priority is to give them good runs and ride them confidently with their futures in mind.”

Martin admits to not having the ideal prep for her young horses having been on the road at other events, including the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in France, in the weeks prior to VHT.

Caroline Martin and HSH Did It Anyway. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“I want to give a huge shout out to my team – my groom Hannah Koehler and my business partner and best friend, Casey McKissock. They kept the horses ticking for me when I was gone the past three weeks. I am lucky to show up and just get on the horses,” Martin said.

Both Galwaybay Blake and HSH Did It Anyway coped well with the terrain at Virginia Horse Center. Galwaybay Blake posted a double-clear round while HSH Did It Anyway added just 2.4 time penalties.

“Andy Bowles did a good job designing the courses. This is a great stepping stone for horses. The terrain is phenomenal,” Martin said. “I like bringing young ones because you can put a good baseline of fitness on them with the hill and the brush. It’s a fair course but extremely educational for this young bunch.”

With show jumping as the final day, Martin expects it to be a unique challenge for their first long format competition. “They’re good jumpers, but their bodies have never had to run that kind of cross-country course. It’s different jumping the last day on six year olds than horses that are used to this.”

Megan Loughane and Flamenco Ping. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The highest placed Jr/YR in the CCI2*-L Championship is Megan Loughnane and Flamenco Ping, who took over the position from Alexis Poe and Tell ‘M Nothin after crossing the finish line one second faster than her competitor.

Ariel Grald maintained her lead in the CCI3*-L riding Diara and moved Isla de Coco up to second with a double-clear cross-country round. Grald also won the CCI3*-S, leading from start to finish with Forrest Gump 124.

Ariel Grald and Forrest Gump. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Grald partnered with Annie Eldridge’s Forrest Gump just this summer and they are working to get to know one another. They are off to a good start, winning on a score of 28.3, having added just 3.2 time penalties on cross-country.

Ariel Grald and Diara. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ariel Grald and Isla de Coco. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“I wanted to give my horse a good fitness run and go quick but I also wasn’t trying to fly. I probably could have gone faster but just trying to build a partnership and don’t need to run him off his feet,” Grald said. “He’s a really sweet, genuine horse, and very honest. I’m just trying to be a good pilot. He’ll be doing the CCI3*-L at Tryon so I brought him to do a good fitness run and get to know his gallop a bit more.”

With one phase remaining in the CCI3*-L, Grald holds the top two positions. It is the first attempt at the level for Diara and Isla de Coco, both seven year olds owned by Annie Eldridge.

“This is the first time they’ve really had to be good and fit. That hill [on cross-country] is very good for them,” Grald said. “Of the two, Diara is the faster, more racecar type horse. She zoomed right up the hill. The other mare pleasantly surprised me. She has done the same fitness routine working up to this. I thought the hill would take more out of Coco but she stormed up and kept running. Both will have learned a lot.”

Both mares finished the course fault-free and crossed the finish with the same elapsed time.

Alexis Poe and Tell ‘M Nothin. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The scores are tight at the top in the CCI3*-L, but Grald says she is sitting on good jumpers. “It will be an interesting education for both mares and me as a pilot. We rarely get to jump on the third day anymore. It will be a different feeling. I’m sure they’ll be a bit tired.”

VHT is hosting Starter through CCI3*-L divisions, plus an Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge. CCI2*-L competitors compete for the Richard Collins Trophy (Overall Champion) and the Harry T. Peters Trophy (14–21-year-old rider) as part of the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing Championships.

VHT International & H.T. Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook | General Schedule | Live Scores | Ride Times | Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge Scores

VHT International & Horse Trials, USEF CCI2*-L Eventing Championships Set to Start

CCI3*-L competitors Ariel Grald and Diara. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the organizers of VHT International & Horse Trials are pleased to host over 450 horses at the Virginia Horse Center this weekend as well as the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championships.

“We are happy to welcome competitors back to Virginia Horse Trials this weekend. There is something very special about the Autumn competition,” VHT Organizer Andy Bowles said. “For me, it’s about the community and the celebration of the sport. We are always working to make improvements to the venue so competitors have the best possible experience, and we appreciate their continued support in making VHT a destination event. We wish everyone good luck this weekend.”

VHT is hosting Starter through CCI3*-L divisions, plus an Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge. CCI2*-L competitors will vie for the Richard Collins Trophy (Overall Champion) and the Harry T. Peters Trophy (14–21-year-old rider) as part of the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing Championships.

The first horse inspection was held Thursday afternoon for the CCI3*-L, CCI2*-L, and CCI1*-L competitors. All horses presented were accepted by the ground juries. The competition gets underway Friday, with all three phases running concurrently across the sprawling Virginia Horse Center.

Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook | General Schedule | Live Scores | Ride Times

University of Kentucky Wildcats Win USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships at VHT International, Auburn University Earns Coveted Spirit Award

University of Kentucky celebrates a win for the Wildcats. Photo by Claire Kelley.

Throughout the history of the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships, the University of Kentucky has competed every year and fought hard for the Wildcats of Lexington. On Sunday, UK earned its first Championship title at the 2021 edition during the VHT International at the Virginia Horse Center.

The team of Cosby Green, Ivie Cullen-Dean, Caroline Dannemiller, and Abbey O’Day posted a team score of 94.41, winning by just over 2.0 penalty points. Cullen-Dean finished second individually in Open Beginner Novice Horse with her brand new ride Redfield Lorimer. Green won Training Horse A with McCreary, earning the team’s best individual score of 30.0. Dannemiller and Fernhill Dreaming finished third in Modified B.

“I think this is the biggest team we’ve ever had,” Cullen-Dean said. “It’s just the best atmosphere. Walking up and down the aisle you’re always saying good luck and have fun or they’re saying it back to you.”

When it came to how to best structure UK’s eight teams, O’Day explained, “We looked mostly over our records from last year to this year because this year we didn’t get to come out a lot. We looked at the scores between each other and stacked our teams in certain ways so we could help each other the most.”

University of Georgia team rider Madison McCauley gallops across the country with her teammates cheering her on in the background. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Finishing second in the team competition was the University of Georgia Red Team. UGA brought two teams of three to the Championships and both finished in the ribbons.

“We’re so honored to have two teams here,” said Sierra Schurtz, a psychology and criminal justice major at UGA. She finished fourth individually in Open Novice riding Zach Eyed Pea. “We weren’t allowed to compete leading up to [VHT]. This is the only competition we were allowed to compete at because COVID rules got lifted. It feels great to come out and kill it.”

The Randolph-Macon College Yellow Jackets were the overnight leaders on Saturday, but unfortunate penalties in show jumping dropped them down to third place on a score of 98.99. The competition was incredibly close, with fewer than five penalty points separating the top three.

In the Graduate division, reserved for current graduate students as well as 2020 seniors who missed out on the Championships due to COVID-19, a scramble team from James Madison University (Amelia Bayer), University of Kentucky (Macy Clark) and Virginia Tech (Makenzie Krason) took top honors.

The coveted Spirit Award was hard fought this year. The students pulled out all the stops to show their school spirit and exhibit teamwork. Ultimately, the panel of judges who observed the students throughout the week named Auburn University the winners of the Spirit Award. This team not only supported each other but fellow competitors from other schools, too. They also put in volunteer hours for the event.

“We wanted to represent Auburn and what Auburn stands for and be excited to be with other schools that are here,” Stephanie Lambert said.

The winners of the Spirit Award receive a refund on their entry fees, not to mention bragging rights. While Auburn won the Championship in 2018 and 2019, this is their first time taking home the Spirit Award.

A friend congratulates Morgyn Johnson and Peter Parker GS after the double-clear show jumping that helped Randolph-Macon College to third place. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Randolph-Macon College also put in a strong showing for the Spirit Award, volunteering for the event as jump judges and assisting in setting up a show jumping course. VHT Organizer Andy Bowles decided to award Randolph-Macon with partial refunds on their entries in recognition of their team spirit and dedication to the sport.

“For me, the Spirit Award gets to the heart of the sport and its foundation in volunteerism, sportsmanship, and horsemanship,” Bowles said. “The Intercollegiate program and championships are a great example of the qualities that make this sport great. These students are the future of the sport and they are setting the example for the next generation. We truly enjoy hosting the Intercollegiate Championships at VHT and look forward to their return.”

The 2022 Intercollegiate Championships will take place at Chattahoochee Hills in Fairburn, GA before returning to VHT in 2023.

Daniel Clasing and Olney Uncle Sam, winners of the CCI3*-L. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Looking to individual FEI placings, all four overnight leaders jumped double-clear to win their respective divisions. Daniel Clasing and Olney Uncle Sam took home top honors in the CCI3*-L. Liz Halliday-Sharp won the CCI2*-L (A) with Shanroe Cooley. Christina Henriksen and CIERRA commanded the CCI2*-L (B) from start to finish. Finally, Liz Messaglia and Greenfort Carnival bested the CCI1*-L.

Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets Fly to First in USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships at VHT International

Randolph-Macon competitor Morgyn Johnson and Peter Parker GS sit second in the CCI1*-L, helping their team to the overnight lead in the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Randolph-Macon College is hunting down its first victory in the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships at VHT International, with their two teams sitting in the top ten on Saturday.

The Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets lead the way against 27 other undergraduate teams on a team score of 87.79. Morgyn Johnson has the top score on her team and is second in the CCI1*-L with a 30.2.

“He was really great. He is such an honest horse and such a superstar. He took every question in stride,” Johnson said after her double clear cross-country ride with Peter Parker GS.

Johnson is a rising senior studying business management and communications. When it comes to balancing riding with school work, she makes sure to stick to a schedule.

“It’s definitely possible to ride and be in college, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!” Johnson said. “Being a part of Randolph-Macon [Eventing] is one of the best experiences of my life, if I’m being honest. The team is so great. Everyone is so supportive of each other and, as you can tell with [the opening ceremony] last night, we definitely don’t lack in team spirit.”

The current second placed team is University of Kentucky Wildcats on a score of 90.41. As an individual, team member Cosby Green is leading the Training Horse A division with McCreary (30.0). Ivie Cullen-Dean is another member of the UK Wildcats and is leading the Open Beginner Novice Horse with Redfield Lorimer (31.4). She also leads the Open Training with Michael Dean’s Fernhill Full Throttle (scoring 31.0 for team UK Cats).

“I have three horses here which was quite a bit – six rides today,” Cullen-Dean said. “It’s been a bit chaotic but I’ve had some super good rides on all of them.

“It’s a little bit emotional for me. [Fernhill Full Throttle] had an injury last summer and we weren’t quite sure where we were going to go after that. This is his second show back. It’s a dream to be on him and icing on top that he’s leading the division…I’m just getting to know [new ride Redfield Lorimer] and hoping that he will have a confident round around the Beginner Novice.”

Auburn University shows their school spirit as they head to cross-country to cheer on teammates. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cullen-Dean is a communications major in digital media and manages the University of Kentucky social media accounts. As a sophomore, this is her first time competing in the Intercollegiate Championships.

“Having everybody come and cheer for you at every single ride is kind of something you never really think about in riding. You always have a support group but having your friends and also your teammates with you on your side is one of the best feelings possible.”

Rounding out the top three in the team competition is Auburn University Orange on a score of 96.035. As the two-time reigning champions, Auburn is looking for a hat trick this weekend at the Virginia Horse Center, but it’s all to play for on the final day of competition.

1. Randolph-Macon College Yellow Jackets (87.79)
Morgyn Johnson / Peter Parker GS
Holly Shade / Hang on Caitlyn
Austin Skeens / What Gives
Sydney Guy / Renegade

2. University of Kentucky Wildcats (90.41)
Cosby Green / McCreary
Ivie Cullen Dean / Redfield Lorimer
Caroline Dannemiller / Fernhill Dreaming
Abbey O’Day / Casper 385

3. Auburn University Orange (96.035)
Kaitlyn Dendy / Highland Reign
Jennifer Mulholland / Casanova
Suzanne Hillhouse / FGF Bob’n For Silver
Barbara Brogan / Lyell

Looking to the individual horse trials, Daniel Clasing and Jennifer Ward’s Olney Uncle Sam (27.7) held on to their lead in the CCI3*-L with a double-clear cross-country round, followed closely by University of Kentucky rider Cosby Green and Copper Beach (28.7).

Tokyo-bound U.S. team rider Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp leads the way in the CCI2*-L (A) with Shanroe Cooley (31.1), owned by Ocala Horse Properties. Christina Henriksen has control of the CCI2*-L (B) riding CIERRA (28.4).

The CCI3*-S concluded Saturday. Lucienne Elms scored a win with Horse Scout Eventing’s Tremanton (32.1). Caroline Martin and Galwaybay Blake, owned by Caroline and Sherrie Martin, won the CCI2*-S (30.3).

Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook |General Schedule | Competitor List | Live Scores | YEH Results | USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships Program | Saturday Intercollegiate Scores

University of Kentucky Makes a Statement at VHT International

Cosby Green and Copper Beach ride for University of Kentucky in the CCI3*-L. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

VHT International welcomes over 500 horses for the Memorial Day weekend event at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington. The premiere competition is the fifth annual USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships, which Virginia Horse Trials is pleased to host for the fourth time.

Students from 14 colleges and universities around the country are housed together in “College Town,” which is decorated top to bottom with streamers, balloons, and flags. Students are showing their school spirit, wearing school colors and cheering for their classmates ringside.

The 2021 Intercollegiate Championships is breaking records with a total of 105 entries and 29 teams. There are two separate Championship divisions: the traditional Championship for undergraduate students and a Graduate division.

At the conclusion of dressage for the CCI3*-L, University of Kentucky (UK) rider Cosby Green sits in second place with Bel Mar Farm’s Copper Beach. Their score of 28.7 is just one point behind division leader Daniel Clasing and Olney Uncle Sam.

“I was given the ride on ‘Sean’ about eight months ago from Buck Davidson Jr,” Green said. “We’ve just really started to get to know one another, and this winter we have really started to click. It just keeps getting better each time, and we are definitely falling more and more in love with one another, so it’s a great partnership.”

Green is competing two horses for UK, which brought eight teams forward to the Championships.

“I never thought that I wanted to go to college, but the fact that I’m here and I’m doing it makes me very proud to be able to do all that I can with everyone here,” Green said. “It’s fun to be here with friends — that’s the best part. My best friends are a part of this barn, and it’s not often that we all get to be here together, so that’s special to be able to cheer everyone on. It’s a professional environment, but it’s also very supportive and fun.”

UK is on a roll, with a leader in the CCI1*-L division. Hannah Warner and Drombane Dynamite scored a 27.6 to top the division of 18 starters.

“Everything we’ve been working on finally came together. And he tries so hard,” Warner said. “I’m so happy to be here with everybody. We have such a great group here this weekend to support. I did my final salute in my test and I got a ‘Go Cats!’ chant.”

The opening ceremonies for the Intercollegiate Championships took place Friday evening, kicking off the Championships in style. Schools entered the coliseum showing their very best and loudest school spirit.

“It was so much fun. I think we did our Cats chant 20 times and it still didn’t feel like enough,” Warner said. “We’re just excited to get the weekend going and keep the spirit going.”

VHT Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook |General Schedule | Competitor List | Live Scores | YEH Results | USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships Program | Friday Intercollegiate Scores

Burnett, Stillfried Lead USEF CCI2*-L National Championships After XC at Virginia HT

Hannah Sue Burnett and Carsontown. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Hannah Sue Burnett leads the way in the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship at the Virginia Horse Trials. Riding Christa Schmidt’s Carsonstown to third place in dressage, the pair moved up with a double-clear cross-country round for a two-phase score of 32.3.

Burnett and Stakkato Bronx, owned by Jacqueline Mars and Christa Schmidt, are tied for second with Caroline Martin and her own Redfield Dexter. The two pairs were tied for fourth after dressage with a 32.5. Both were fault-free on cross-country and finished on the exact same elapsed time of 7:06 to remain tied.

Charlotte Stillfried and Palma D. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Charlotte Stillfried and Palma D head to the final phase leading the USEF CCI2*-L Junior/Young Rider Eventing National Championship. They scored a 30.6 in dressage and added 7.2 time penalties on cross-country to sit in fifth place in the division CCI2*-L division overnight.

Annabelle Kress and Canny Calypso. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Second in the USEF CCI2*-L Junior/Young Rider Eventing National Championship is Annabelle Kress and Canny Calypso.

Several divisions wrapped up on Saturday at the VHT International & Horse Trials. Allison Springer and Nancy Winter’s Crystal Crescent Moon, last year’s USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Champions, won the CCI3*-S. They started in third place on a 33.6 in dressage. A double clear show jumping moved them up to second, and a clear cross-country round with 5.2 time penalties moved them into first place.

Alyssa Phillips and Cornelius Bo took home the win in the CCI2*-S. Scoring a 30.1 in dressage they began the competition in fifth place. Double-clear show jumping and cross-country rounds moved them up to the top spot.

Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way, owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables, won the Advanced Intermediate-A division, moving up from sixth place after dressage. Tim Bourke and Kristen and Mark Anderson’s Lennard won the Open Intermediate division with a final score of 37.1.

Competition continues Sunday with show jumping and cross-country at the Virginia Horse Center.

Links: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Ride Schedule | YEH Live Scores | YEH Program | Facebook

[Hannah Sue Burnett, Charlotte Stillfried Lead USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championships After Cross-Country at Virginia Horse Trials]

Caroline Martin Takes Home Two Dutta Corp. USEA YEH Championships at Virginia Horse Trials

Caroline Martin and Redfield King. Photo by Brant Gamma.

The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitors were the first to take the stage this week at VHT International & Horse Trials. Caroline Martin will be returning home happy with two championship titles.

Martin and Redfield King (Connect x Cha Cha Cha Special) took the lead in the 5-year-old championship after yesterday’s dressage and conformation phases. During today’s jumping phase, they secured victory earning a perfect score in both the cross-country section and the general impression. The pair earned a final winning score of 93.52.

“It’s actually really special,” Martin said of the gelding owned by the HX Redfield King Especiale Group. “I work with Emil Spadone and Paul Hendrix and last year I flew to Holland to visit Paul. He bred King and when he knew I was coming he said, ‘Caroline I have the perfect horse.’ I was like ‘we will see,’ and I get there and he throws me right up on him and he was 100% right. He is so special.”

Standing at nearly 18 hands, “King” is impressive in every way, but Martin calls him a gentle giant. “He’s just massive, but so easy to deal with,” she said. “He is so brave and such a great jumper. The gallop is unreal and the flatwork is, too.”

Jennifer Brannigan and Kismet. Photo by Brant Gamma

The Reserve Champion title went to Jennifer Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s homebred Kismet (National Anthem x Ularinka), who earned a total score of 89.13. The Warmblood gelding holds a special place in Brannigan’s heart.

“Phillip [Dutton] and I both competed his mother, a Dutch mare called Ularinka, and she went up through the CCI3*-S level. She was a favorite at Phillip’s barn and I rode her when I worked for him,” Brannigan said. “She passed away this year, so it makes it extra special. He is the second one I have had out of her – the other one was lovely as well… His barn name is Herbie and he is very well-loved.”

Kismet scored a 29.1 out of 30 in the cross-country phase and earned a 9.6 out of 10 for general impression. “He is just a really good, steady boy. He wouldn’t have the biggest trot, but he has a really good canter and he has a good mouth and he’s just very, very steady and reliable, which is awesome,” Brannigan said. “I was thrilled with how he performed. He just goes in and handles the atmosphere. This is his first away show and he was pretty happy to be out there doing it all.”

With persistent rain falling throughout the morning, the VHT staff worked tirelessly on the footing. Jumps were moved over to better ground and stone added to the takeoffs and landings. Despite their best efforts to combat the weather-related ground issues, competition was suspended halfway through the division. The USEA decided to pin the class using the scores of the competitors who had completed the jumping phase already. At this time, the weather-dependent plan is to run the remainder of the YEH 5-year-old championship on Sunday and pin that class separately so that all entrants are eligible for associated grants.

Caroline Martin and Redfield HSH Connor. Photo by Brant Gamma.

On Wednesday, Martin piloted Redfield Farm’s Redfield HSH Connor to a win in the 4-Year-Old Championship. He earned the highest scores in both the dressage (17.32) and cross-country (28.5) portions of the division, which helped them to a final winning score of 89.37.

“Connor” is an Irish Sport Horse by Touchstone and was sourced for Martin by her good friend and agent Kelly Hutchison. “He’s just a lovely creature. I couldn’t be happier with him,” Martin said.

“He’s a bit quirky on the ground. You can’t tie him – you have to hold him when you tack him up. In the awards ceremony I tried to get on from the ground and he spun me off… he’s one of those, you know? But I always find that the good ones are a little bit quirky like that.”

Martin mused that she thought her other 4-year-old, Redfield Haras, had a good chance of winning the championship. He ultimately finished fifth. “It’s interesting at this [championship] to see which horses ‘peak.’ Last week, all of a sudden, [Conner] became super workmanlike, not spooky, very brave to the jumps. I honestly think he had a really good day.”

Tim Bourke and Quality Collusion. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Reserve Champion for the 4-year-olds went to Quality Collusion (OBOS Quality x KEC Sassari) ridden by Tim Bourke. They had a final score of 87.92 and won the Stillwater Farm Award presented to the 4-year-old on each coast with the best gallop score. This trophy is awarded in memory of Donald Trotter.

Quality Collusion was bred by the Kennedys, who own his sire OBOS Quality. He is out of a dam called KEC Sassari. Bourke’s description of the gelding makes him sound like the most well-behaved 4-year-old you’ll find.

“One of the girls in the barn, Lisa Takada, took him to a qualifier because I was away at a clinic. He’s just that type – anyone can ride him. He’s so simple and so good. This was the fifth time he’s been in a trailer since he got here,” Bourke said of the Irish Sport Horse gelding.

“I’d love to keep him and I have some really good owners that may want to step in and own part of him with me. You usually end up selling the best ones and keeping the hard ones, and he’s probably one of the easiest ones I’ve ever ridden.”

Virginia Horse Trials: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Ride Schedule | YEH Live Scores | YEH Program | Facebook

[Caroline Martin Takes Home Two Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse Championship Titles at Virginia Horse Trials]

Liz Halliday-Sharp Finishes First, Second in VHT International CCI2*-L

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool, winners of the CCI2*-L. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

CCI2*-S victor Liz Halliday-Sharp capped off a winning week at Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International with a first and second place finish in the CCI2*-L.

Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool, owned by The Monster Partnership and Ocala Horse Properties, led from start to finish, ultimately adding 0.4 time penalties in show jumping to win on 25.1.

“They both came out really good this morning. They looked great after running yesterday in their first long format,” Halliday-Sharp said of the two 7-year-old Irish Sport Horses. “I purposely went quiet [in show jumping with Cooley Be Cool] because I knew he had a lot in hand. I wanted to keep him settled as he can get steamed up in the ring.”

Cooley Seeking Fortune, owned by Ocala Horse Properties, sat second behind his half-brother through all three phases. One rail added in today’s final phase gave them a finishing score of 32.6.

“He warmed up amazing. He’s really a jumper but he can be a little difficult at smaller heights. He’s better at 1.20 meters than 1.10 meters,” Halliday-Sharp said. “He had one rail just being a bit sleepy but he jumped the rest really well. It’s just a matter of getting him stronger and more grown up.”

This was Halliday-Sharp’s first visit to VHT and she was pleased with more than just her wins. “I thought they did a good job on the course and the ground. [The footing] was good even before all the rain because they aerated it so much. The hills of course are a good test of fitness. The horses were good, they ran well. I’d definitely like to come back.”

Alexandra Green Kerby and Fernhill Leitrim Lass were the only pair in the CCI2*-L to finish on their dressage score, rounding out the top three with a 39.1.

Andrew McConnon and D’Luxe Steel. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Andrew McConnon and Jeanne Shigo’s D’Luxe Steel took an early lead in the CCI1*-L. Today they lowered one rail to win the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood’s first international event on a 33.6. Joanie Morris and Betterthanexpected finished second with a final score of 38.1.

D’Luxe Steel spent most of last year focused on moving up to Training level and competing in the USEA Young Event Horse Series. McConnon feels the next logical step in a young horse’s progression is the Modified division and an international debut in the CCI1*. He lamented that more riders should take advantage of this level.

“Personally, any 6-year-old of mine isn’t going to do a CCI2*-L,” McConnon said. “But having the opportunity to go to a CCI1*-L and teach them to trot up and be there four or five days — I learned more about him this week than I would have just coming and competing. It’s a great experience; they grow up quite a bit.”

McConnon appreciated the opportunities afforded by VHT’s midweek event, to gain both qualifications and education for his horses. He also finished fourth in the CCI3*-S riding Ferrie’s Cello and fourth in the CCI2*-L riding Wakita 54.

“I understand [a midweek competition] isn’t a reality for everyone, but to be able to bring some horses during the week and potentially compete some others over the weekend is great,” McConnon said. “VHT always does a great job. I love to go there. This week in particular running midweek and the added challenges with the virus, they did great making it professional and relaxed.”

Thus concludes another successful week at the Virginia Horse Trials. Organizer Andy Bowles commented, “Thanks everyone for a good week. We were taking a chance rescheduling to midweek in July, and we had added challenges associated with COVID-19 — even the weather gave us a run for our money. It all came together and I’m grateful to my team and to everyone who participated or supported us in other ways.”

Links: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Event Program | Ride Times | Results | Facebook

[Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp Finishes First, Second in VHT International CCI2*-L]

Liz Halliday-Sharp Wins VHT International CCI2*-S, Holds Top Two Placings in CCI2*-L

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Maryville Sir Henry, winners of the CCI2*-S. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

It was a good day at the office for Liz Halliday-Sharp, who won the CCI2*-S and holds the top two placings after cross country in the CCI2*-L at the Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International.

A weather delay on Wednesday pushed the show jumping phase of the CCI2*-S to this morning, so competitors completed show jumping and cross country back-to-back. Halliday-Sharp and Maryville Sir Henry were second after dressage on a 26.1. They lowered one rail in show jumping but moved into the lead. A fault-free cross country round secured their win.

“He was first to go in dressage and did a really smart test considering he is still quite green,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I heard them announce we were in the lead as we were going into the startbox. He was brilliant cross country. He’s come a long way.”

Maryville Sir Henry is a new partner for Halliday-Sharp, who has competed him now just three times.

“He’s a very nice horse and he’s this incredible jumper and amazing athlete,” she said. “I’d like to do a long format on him this year. If he’s ready for Intermediate at the end of the year, great, but he’s very careful and we’re not in a hurry. He will tell us what he’s ready for. I think a lot of him and he gave me a great feel on the cross country.”

Katarina Midgley and Ditch finished second in the CCI2*-S, moving up from seventh after dressage thanks to two double-clear jumping phases. Candace Elizabeth Bell and Fernhill Philm Star placed third.

Halliday-Sharp’s success continued in the CCI2*-L division. After dressage and cross country, she sits first and second with half-brothers Cooley Be Cool, owned by The Monster Partnership and Ocala Horse Properties, and Cooley Seeking Fortune, owned by Ocala Horse Properties. Neither horse added cross country jumping or time penalties to their dressage scores of 24.7 and 28.6.

“Both of them did very good tests and put up scores that would have them up there [on the leaderboard] at any long format. They were super today and finished well,” Halliday-Sharp said. “They found the course good and made the time easy. I’m hoping they will both jump clear tomorrow. They are good jumpers and have a bit in hand which is a nice place to be in.

“They are both seven but started eventing last year. They needed a long format. I’m hoping to get some horses qualified for [the Eventing Championships for Young Horses at] Le Lion and this is part of the path to get there.”

It’s been a busy week for Halliday-Sharp, who recently moved to Kentucky to permanently base herself in the United States instead of splitting time in the United Kingdom. “My girls have been awesome. There are five horses here, it’s been busy enough. I have a good team.”

Andrew McConnon leads the way in the CCI1*-L with D’Luxe Steel on a two phase score of 29.6.

McConnon and Wakita 54 are third before the final phase in the CCI2*-L.

CCI2*-S Final Top 10: 

Links: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Event Program | Ride Times | Results | Facebook

[Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp Wins VHT International CCI2*-S, Holds Top Two Placings in CCI2*-L]

Boyd Martin Secures First International Win of the Year at VHT International

Boyd Martin and Luke 140, winners of the CCI3*-S. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Boyd Martin came to Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International to get himself and his horses back into the swing of competing, and he picked up an international win along the way. Leading from start to finish, Martin and the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding Luke 140, owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate, won the CCI3*-S on a final score of 35.5.

Starting off with a dressage score of 23.9, they show jumped double clear on Tuesday. They entered today’s cross country test with plenty of breathing room, allowing for the addition of 11.6 time penalties.

“Luke was brilliant in all three phases. I wanted to set him up for an assault on the second half of the year,” Martin said. “It was fantastic doing all the dressage in the shade of the indoor arenas, and the new jumping ring was brilliant to ride on.”

With the majority of the spring season being cancelled due to COVID-19, many competitors are just getting going with their competition season this summer. Martin commented that designer Andy Bowles’ cross country course was appropriate for horses who haven’t been out in a while, but there were “a couple of combinations that really tested the horses, and it’s a true test of fitness with a big, long gallop up the hill in the middle of the course.”

Having finished up his competition on Wednesday afternoon, Martin was already on his way home to prepare for another outing this weekend. “I love the idea of the midweek eventing, especially for the pro riders looking to get horses out,” Martin said. “I’m slowly getting better from surgery a couple months ago, and it was great just getting the horses out and seeing my eventing buddies I haven’t seen in months.”

Coming second in the CCI3*-S was Joe Meyer and his longtime partner Clip Clop. They added only 2.0 time penalties to their initial score, moving up from 11th after dressage. Benjamin Noonan and Keep Kitty rounded out the top three.

CCI3*-S Final Top 10: 

In the CCI1*-L division, Andrew McConnon leads the way with D’Luxe Steel followed by Joanie Morris riding Betterthanexpected.

Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp holds the top two spots in the CCI2*-L with Cooley Be Cool and Cooley Seeking Fortune, respectively, with show jumping still to go. Halliday-Sharp won the CCI2*-S with Marysville Sir Henry – here’s the final top 10 from that division:

VHT’s original date had been postponed due to COVID-19 and this week the event is strictly adhering to necessary protocols, including paperless entries, mandatory face coverings, and social distancing. Martin offered this sentiment: “Everyone is keen to get back to normal life, and everyone is understanding it’s a huge privilege to do this sport [right now]. We are grateful to the organizers who have had to jump through many hoops to get events going.”

The competition continues Thursday with all three phases running concurrently at the Virginia Horse Center.

Links: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Event Program | Ride Times | Results | Facebook

[Boyd Martin Secures First International Win of the Year at VHT International]

Virginia Horse Trials Hosts Nearly 400 Entries at Midweek Event

Novice competitors Alex Holliday and Gold Peak. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

The Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International got underway Tuesday at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va. The organizing staff is pleased to welcome nearly 400 horse and rider combinations to this week’s competition.

This event was rescheduled from its original Memorial Day weekend date due to COVID-19.

“In rescheduling the event, we wanted to make sure competitors requiring qualifications would have the opportunity to obtain them,” said VHT Organizer Andy Bowles. “The Virginia Horse Center kindly worked us into their busy schedule, and we are grateful that so many competitors have chosen to come to VHT this week. I want to thank everyone for their support.”

VHT is hosting Starter through Advanced/Intermediate horse trials plus CCI1*-L, CCI2*-S, CCI2*-L, CCI3*-S, and Young Event Horse Series divisions. The schedule spans Tuesday through Friday, with national classes running as either a one-day or two-day competition.

On the first day of competition, the CCI2*-L and CCI1*-L competitors presented to the ground jury of Gretchen Butts (USA) and Helen Brettell (GBR) for the first horse inspection. Dressage for these divisions will begin on Wednesday.

The CCI3*-S wrapped up its competition today, with Boyd Martin and Luke 140, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate, winning on a score of 35.5. They led from start to finish beginning with a dressage score of 23.9, followed by a clear show jumping and cross country round with 11.6 time faults. Joe Meyer and Clip Clop finished 2nd in the division on 37.7; Benjamin Noonan and Keep Kitty were 3rd on 29.3.

Rebecca Brown and Dassett Choice won the Advanced Intermediate division on 29.4, followed by Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi in 2nd (39.4) and Boyd Martin and On Cue in 3rd (40.0). Open Intermediate A was won by Maxine Preston with Shannondale Magnum (47.7); Open Intermediate B was won by Jackie LeMastus and Lup The Loop (36.9).

Three Novice divisions and one Beginner Novice division completed a one-day format competition. Future stars of the sport also competed in the USEA Young Event Horse Series 4- and 5-year-old classes.

VHT is strictly adhering to all USEF, USEA, state, and local health and safety requirements for COVID-19, and we thank all participants for their cooperation.

CCI3*-S Top 10 Finishers:

Links: Website | Omnibus | General Schedule | Event Program | Ride Times | Results | Facebook

[Virginia Horse Trials Hosts Nearly 400 Entries at Midweek Event]

The Barn Isn’t a Safe Place Anymore

To ride or not to ride? Well, that question has been answered for me. As of 5 p.m. Friday, March 27, the barn where I board my horse, Beau, was closed to visitors in response to the COVID-19 threat.

The same day, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide, 30-day, stay-at-home order — an order that permits outdoor activities. The decision to close the barn had been made several days prior to the Governor’s announcement based on recommendations by the NC Horse Council, which advised “to cease all unnecessary operations and activities, engage in horse care activities ONLY, and close your facilities to all but essential staff.”

To some it may seem like an obvious choice to close the barn, but it was an agonizing decision for our barn manager, who debated and considered every angle for days. She knows as well as we all do that the horses are family. They are also our peace, our emotional relief, our escape, our therapy. But the barn isn’t a safe place anymore. We’ve already been on restricted hours to minimize contact between barn staff and boarders. Now, the barn is off limits entirely (except in the event of an emergency), and we don’t know for how long.

It sucks. And I’m sad. Like, really sad. But the whole world sees the importance of minimizing contact with one another, and our boarders are all for it. Not one of them expressed anger at the decision. On the contrary, they applauded the barn manager making that call.

At least half of the boarders who come to the barn regularly are over 60, and some boarders are essential employees who have been working in their offices since the start of this mess. My own part-time job in town has remained open, and while our blessed little community is trying to support small businesses, the risks of those interactions cannot be entirely eliminated, no matter how often we sanitize all the things.

As much as we consider the barn to be a sanctuary, it is not immune to COVID-19. Think about how many things we touch there, from halters to stall doors, all the gates and latches, the hose, the bathroom door, brooms, pitch forks, buckets. It is impossible to keep everything clean enough to protect each other and ­– above all – protect the barn staff. Because if they go down, what then? The fear of the barn staff or other boarders getting sick far outweighs the frustrations of not being able to ride.

When we first got the news that the barn would be closed to boarders, my initial reaction was passive: “Yea, that felt inevitable. Bummer, but I get it.” The next day, as I planned my last visits to literally say goodbye to Beau for who knows how long, I got really, really sad. Until now, the pandemic hasn’t affected a whole lot of my day-to-day routine. I felt a little bit like I was watching everything unfold from a distance, safe in my little mountain town. But it’s here now. It’s all around us.

I’m not just sad for myself (In fact, it feels very selfish and silly to be sad about not being able to go to the barn to see my horsey, given the realities other people are facing around the world.) but this whole tragic situation. I feel sad for the medical professionals who can’t hide from danger at home, for those unlucky individuals who are sick and afraid, for the innumerable businesses that have had to shut down, likely to the detriment of their future.

I’m also feeling some shame, because I was one of the people early on who felt fairly underwhelmed by the threat of the virus and was pointedly annoyed by the media hype. Don’t @ me. I know now I was wrong.

But not all hope is lost. There are many reasons to feel a lot of pride. We’re seeing communities big and small come together to take care of each other. Locals are calling into small businesses, buying gift cards and advancing big tips. Farmers and restaurant owners are giving free meals to children who are missing out on their school lunches. Major corporations like Ford, Tesla, and Dyson are restructuring their assembly lines to manufacture much needed medical supplies. In the clutches of a global pandemic, it’s the humanity we’re witnessing that gives me hope.

So even though I’ll miss Beau tremendously, I think I can manage to be “horse-less” for a little while. By all of us doing our part and making the most of these – let’s be honest – shitty circumstances, we’ll come out the other side better for it, with renewed motivation and appreciation for what we have.

#Foalspam: A Cure for Quarantine Blues

Fey and Bonny in April 2018. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Fey and Bonny in April 2018. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Back in 2015, I started blogging about breeding my maiden mare, Cor de Fe (Cor Magnifique – Leap of Faith, Malthus) with the help of Mary Quarles at Ketchen Place Farm (KPF). We had teased and covered Fey without incident, and she got pregnant easily. In fact, she got pregnant twice but both times slipped the pregnancy within 60 days. We were perplexed but not discouraged. After the second time, we decided to hold off on a third attempt and try again the next year. The blog I hoped would bring readers along a journey to a live foal stopped there.

It wasn’t until 2017 that we bred Fey again, this time to a different stallion on the farm ­– a big, kind Thoroughbred named Corollary (Expensive Decision – Kristin S., Kris S.). I did not blog about it this go around — call it superstition. Fey took immediately and this time held on to the pregnancy without issue. She carried the foal to term and gave birth to a beautiful filly on March 6, 2018. The dam is chestnut and the stallion was bay, so we were surprised when the filly was born a mousy gray color. We named her Bon Cor, which means “good heart” and call her Bonny for short. She’s a bonny lass indeed.

You never really know how a mare is going to be as a mother until she’s faced with a foal at her side. I was delighted and relieved when Fey grasped the responsibility immediately. With Bonny, Fey was attentive, protective (but not excessively), and very proud. She looked after the filly and taught her to love people, but she didn’t take any crap. By the time Bonny was ready to be weaned, Fey said “sayonara” with little drama. Today Bonny is an awkward, hairy two-year-old, but you can see the athletic outline of a well-bred sport horse underneath.

Bon Cor (Corollary – Cor de Fe, Cor Magnifique). Bonny is two days old in this photo, resting during her first field trip outside in March 2018. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

We were delighted with Fey’s first foaling, both in terms of her handling of the pregnancy, easy birth, and mothering skills. However, we did not breed her the following year when Corollary passed away unexpectedly. His death left a chasm both in the breeding program and the hearts of the Ketchen Place family. He was not just a foundation stallion but a member of the family. He was incredibly gentle with horses, humans, kids, and kitties. He could be trusted and relied upon to make the sometimes stressful act of live cover a relatively easy affair. His memory lives on, of course, in his offspring. They are fulfilling the dreams of their amateur owners as well as making a name for themselves climbing the levels of the sport. Preserving the memory of special beings such as Corollary is the gift given by successful breedings.

In the fall of 2018, Ketchen Place Farm acquired a new stallion called Gran Duque, a Thoroughbred by Rock Hampton (Storm Cat) out of Emeldir (Royal Applause). Sourced from the racetrack by Zeb Fry of Little Kentucky Farm, I was hired to photograph “Des,” who was intended to be sold as an event horse. His castration had been scheduled, but I was really impressed by, well, everything about him. Knowing KPF was looking for a new Thoroughbred stallion to incorporate into their breeding program, I encouraged the two parties to connect. KPF liked the stallion’s pedigree, rich with known sport horse producers and European influence, and especially appreciated his friendly demeanor. So the deal was done.

Gran Duque (Rock Hampton – Emeldir, Royal Applause) in September 2018, not long off the track. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Fey was one of two KPF mares bred to Des in early 2019. Des turned out to be a natural at his new job and both mares became pregnant. They foaled within a week of each other in March 2020. Eighteenkaratgold, a Thoroughbred mare, had a pretty bay filly named Elwing (any Tolkien fans out there?). Fey, a Thoroughbred/Holsteiner, had a big, dark bay colt.

Elwing (Gran Duque – Eighteenkaratgold, Borrego) in March 2020. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Once again Fey is proving to be a great mom, validating my intentions for her when I purchased Fey from her breeder, Elisa Wallace, when she was four years old. I bought her specifically because of her bloodlines and had been harboring an interest in her since she’d been born. Fey is out of Elisa’s four-star eventing mare, Leap of Faith, who sadly passed away last fall. Fey is also a product of the breeding program at the barn where I first started eventing as a kid.

Nancy Gosch, of Newnan, Georgia, was one of the first in America to breed sport horses specifically for eventing. She bred Fey’s sire, Cor Magnifique, who was the culmination of decades of careful pairings. Mrs. Gosch’s program can be traced back to the great steeplechaser Cormac, a stallion who has had more of an impact on eventing than is generally known, but I won’t jump on that soap box just now. If you’re interested to learn more, I wrote a feature article about Mrs. Gosch and her horses for Eventing USA in 2014.

Cor Michael (Gran Duque – Cor de Fe, Cor Magnifique) just four days old, March 2020. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Back to Fey. I have a book of names, so I already had a name picked out for her second foal if it were a colt. And I was really, really hoping for a colt. Some people honor their loved ones with tattoos. Me? I name horses after them. Fey’s colt is called Cor Michael, which is a play on Carmichael, my late grandmother’s maiden name and a nod to our family’s Scottish ancestry. “Cor” of course is the prefix honoring Fey’s pedigree.

You know the old saying about leading horses to water? Well, you also can’t make them foal at a time that can be exactly predicted, and it is almost never convenient. Both times Fey has foaled at a polite 9-ish in the evening, but when she decided she was ready, there was little time to spare. Mary’s descriptions of both events have been similar: “She was acting normal then laid down quietly. So I thought I’d go take a peek and darned if there weren’t feet sticking out.” Sadly, I’ve missed both births. The first, I was driving on the interstate on my way to the farm. The second, I had tucked into dinner moments after checking the foal cam. But honestly, it’s okay. Fey was in good hands.

Five years ago, I had a young mare with a family history close to my heart and a dream to keep that heritage alive. I also had no experience breeding horses. I was volunteering at a local event when I met Mary, and we arranged a photoshoot for her homebreds. Since then Mary has become one of my dearest friends and the person who has made the dream of having Fey-babies a reality. Her expertise and attention as a breeder has so far led to two successful, uneventful pregnancies. We are so fortunate to have two beautiful youngsters from Fey, but I am more grateful that Mary has taken such good care of my girl from the start. I am so excited for the futures in store for Fey’s offspring and the legacies of their ancestors that they will carry forward.

It goes without saying that these are trying times. Equestrian sport has come to a standstill and the whole world balances on the hopeful success of social distancing, clean hands, and functioning healthcare systems. We are all making sacrifices now for the sake of the future, but long days in quarantine can be dark, boring, and downright lonely. I encourage you all to find silver linings, look to the bright sides of life, and check in with each other often. If you still need a pick-me-up, remember it’s foal season, and #foalspam is headed your way! Breeders, don’t hold back. We need all the cute we can get!

Allison Springer, Francesca Spoltore Crowned USEF Two-Star Eventing National Champions

Allison Springer and Crystal Crescent Moon, USEF Two-Star Champion. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Australia’s Ryan Wood defended his title in the VHT International CCI2*-L, winning the A division for the second consecutive year with Ruby, a 10-year-old Oldenburg owned by Summit Sporthorses’ Ltd, Inc. They were tied for the lead through the first two phases and clinched the win with a fault-free show jumping round, finishing on 29.5.

“She warmed up super. I didn’t jump too many warm-up jumps because she felt fresh and was trying really hard, so I thought we’d keep it for the ring and it paid off,” Wood said. “I’m very proud to ride for [Ruby’s breeder] Ilona English. To breed a horse and get it to an international level is one thing but then to win is pretty awesome.”

Ryan Wood and Ruby, winners of CCI2*-LA. Photo by Brant Gamma.

As the highest placed American in the CCI2*-LA, Allison Springer and Crystal Crescent Moon take home the USEF Two-Star Eventing National Championship and the Richard Collins Trophy. They scored a 30.0 in dressage and added no jumping or time penalties throughout the competition.

“He’s my little brown unicorn. He’s really fast and trainable. I think he’s going to do great things,” Springer said. “He was perfect in dressage. He’s like a little dirt bike cross country, and he put in a great show jump round. He’s very careful and scopey and just a fun horse to ride.”

The 6-year-old Connemara Cross is owned by his breeder, Nancy Winter. Springer has known Crystal Crescent Moon since he was a foal. He was started under saddle by Cathy Wieschhoff and partnered with Springer early in his 4-year-old year. Springer said, “It means a lot to me and it means a lot to Nancy because it’s so fun watching them come up and do their thing.”

Jan Byyny and Unbridled Numbers, USEF Two-Star Reserve Champion. Photo by Brant Gamma.

The Reserve Champion title went to Jan Byyny and Unbridled Numbers, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Kaylin Dines. They scored 30.1 in dressage and were double clear in both cross country and show jumping.

Francesca Spoltore and her 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Millstreet Mitch won the CCI2*-LB division, the USEF Two-Star JR/YR Two-Star Eventing National Championship, and the Harry T. Peters Trophy. Leading the way after dressage, they dropped to second with 4.0 time penalties added across the country. In the final phase, the pair clinched the win with a double clear show jumping round.

“He was amazing jumping in there. He didn’t feel tired at all. He helped me out a little in one of the lines and he was so good today,” Spoltore said. “My plan when we bought him was to take him to the three-star short at NAYC next year. Hopefully we will bring him out at Prelim next year, move up to Intermediate and get my qualifiers for Young Riders.”

Francesca Spoltore and Millstreet Mitch, USEF JR/YR Two-Star Champion. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Spoltore has only been partnered with “Mitch” for four months and are still getting to know each other. “He was amazing this weekend. It was the best he’s been, the best we’ve been together. So for only four months, it was a good finish.”

Jackie LeMastus and Lup the Loop, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by James LeMastus, moved up from seventh after dressage to finish second and take home the Reserve Champion title in the JR/YR Championship.

Jackie LeMastus and Lup the Loop, USEF JR/YR Two-Star Reserve Champion. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Woods Baughman and Masterel topped the CCI3*-L leaderboard from the start. The Chris Barnard-designed show jumping course saw no clear rounds in the division, but Baughman had some breathing room to take the win despite 8.0 penalties added to their score.

“Show jumping can be his weak point. Today it didn’t matter too much and we got lucky. It helped that we had a rail in hand going in. That took a lot of pressure off,” Baughman said of the 10-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Denis Glaccum and Sharon White. Baughman partnered up with Masterel at the beginning of the year.

Baughman was delighted with Masterel’s dressage test, which tied them for the lead with a 32.1. Of their double clear cross country Baughman said, “He’s so honest to the jumps. If he sees the flags he will jump.”

Woods Baughman and Masterel, winners of CCI3*-L. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Mikki Kuchta and Special Reserve led the inaugural CCI1*-L for the first two phases of competition, but lowered two rails in show jumping, dropping them to second. Adding four faults to their final score and winning the class was Cassie Sanger and her 10-year-old Thoroughbred Born Ready. They moved up from second after dressage and cross country, finishing on 34.3.

“This is my first FEI and I’ve had ‘Red’ for about a year, so it’s exciting to win this,” said Sanger, who just turned 15. “It took me a while to get my rhythm going [on cross country] and I was a bit slow so I had to go quicker at the end. Today I was waiting to see a distance but after I had a rail I clicked in and kept riding forward.”

The CCI1*-L is the Modified (3’5”) level run under the international long format rules, with show jumping being the final phase run in reverse order of standing. VHT is currently the only event in the country to offer the CCI1*-L.

Of the division Sanger said, “It’s a great building block to get to the two-star and Prelim levels. It’s a great in-between.”

The winning team in the Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge was the alumni team from University of Georgia and Fresno State. Cindy Phillips, Kim Keeton, and Kimberly Steinbuch won on a team score of 87.3. The University of Virginia Orange team took second, while Randolph-Macon College teams claimed both third and fourth place. View full team scores at this link.

“That concludes another incredible week at Virginia Horse Trials,” VHT Organizer Andy Bowles said. “Thanks to everyone for coming and enjoying this beautiful venue. We hope to see you back in the spring.”

Virginia 3DE & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Ryan Wood and Jane Jennings Tied for CCI2*-L Lead at Virginia Horse Trials

Jane Jennings and Kontessa M. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

The Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International continued Saturday with all phases running concurrently on the sprawling property. Six dressage arenas, two cross country courses, and a show jumping arena accommodated this year’s record entries.

Following cross country, dressage leaders Jane Jennings and Ryan Wood remain tied for the lead in the CCI2*-LA. Both combinations went double clear to remain on 29.5. Should both combinations show jump clear on Sunday, Wood and Summit Sporthorses Ltd, Inc’s 10-year-old Oldenburg Ruby would win the tiebreaker, as they crossed the finish line one second closer to the optimum time.

Ryan Wood and Ruby. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

“All the questions rode well today. It was a fitness test but a lot of horses made the time. The ground was great, the temperature was ideal,” Wood said. “We’re sitting in a good position for tomorrow. It’s going to be a nail-biting finish. Hopefully Lady Luck is on our side. Ruby is a good jumper, but after cross country anything can happen.”

As the highest placed American in the division, Jennings retains the lead in the USEF Two-Star Eventing National Championship with her 9-year-old Oldenburg mare Kontessa M. Jennings was delighted with today’s performance.

“She ate up the course. We lucked out with the rain earlier this week; the footing was perfect. Because we’re still building our partnership it was a really confidence building round,” Jennings said. “She’s a new horse and a different kind of ride for me, but all our hard work is paying off. I was worried about the hills but she was on form. I live in Unionville, PA, and I use Boyd Martin’s famous hill to condition and prepare.

“She’s good show jumping and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I just need to ride well and stay focused.”

Kelsey Ann Quinn and Dandy Longlegs. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

The top two after dressage in the CCI2*-LB switched places following cross country. Dressage leader Francesca Spoltore and Millstreet Mitch added 4.0 time penalties, dropping to second. That left the door open for Kelsey Ann Quinn, 17, and Julie Quinn’s 13-year-old Thoroughbred Dandy Longlegs to move into the lead with a double clear round.

Friday’s tie after dressage in the CCI3*-L was broken Saturday by Woods Baughman and Masterel, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Denis Glaccum and Sharon White, who produced a stellar double clear cross country round.

Mikki Kuchta and the 6-year-old Thoroughbred Special Reserve remain in first place in the inaugural CCI1*-L after a double clear cross country round. They sit on a two-phase score of 29.7.

Phillip Dutton dominated the CCI3*-S, taking the top three positions after the final phase with Lee Lee Jones’ Fernhill Pick Pocket (36.4), the Sea of Clouds Partnership’s Sea of Clouds (45.2), and Fernhill Mystery (45.4), who is owned by Bridget Colman, Caroline Moran, Thomas Tierney, and David Vos.

Sara Shulman and her own 12-year-old Thoroughbred Not for Nothing claimed the CCI2*-S, moving up from eighth after dressage to win after two fault-free jumping rounds.

Currently leading the 18-team Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge is the combined University of Georgia & Fresno State Alumni team, which joined forces in honor of their shared mascot, the bulldog. Cindy Phillips, Kim Keeton, and Kimberly Steinbuch have a team score of 84.51. View the team scoresheet at this link.

Virginia 3DE & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Jennings & Spoltore Take Charge of USEF Two-Star National Championships at VHT International

On a brisk morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the first horses started down centerline Friday at the Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International. Following the first phase of competition, Australia’s Ryan Wood and USA’s Jane Jennings are tied for the lead in the CCI2*-LA division on a score of 29.5.

Ryan Wood and Ruby, tied for lead in CCI2*-LA. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Wood is riding Ruby, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Summit Sporthorses Ltd, Inc. The pair won this same division last year and also won the CCI2*-S last spring at The Fork at Tryon.

“She’s feeling great. She pulled out a cracking test today,” Wood said. “I’m excited for her owner and breeder Ilona English, who stuck with this horse and believed in her since she was a foal. She won the two-star here last year and her brother Powell also won the two-star here [in 2014]. She’s from New Jersey but she’s bred a bunch of Virginia winners.”

Cross country course designer Carsten Meyer has set a testing two-star track for Saturday. On the rolling hills of the Virginia Horse Center, endurance plays a heavy role.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fitness, thankfully, because it’s a serious track out there for the two-star. There is lots of terrain and it’s a long course at 7 minutes, 38 seconds,” Wood said. “Ruby is a really honest jumper and she’s seasoned at the level. We’re looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.”

Jane Jennings and Kontessa M, tied for lead in CCI2*-LA. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Jennings and Kontessa M are fresh off a win at Morven Park’s CCI2*-S. As the highest placed American rider in the CCI2*-LA division, she and the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare currently lead the USEF Two-Star Eventing National Championship.

Francesca Spoltore and Millstreet Mitch, leading the CCI2*-LB. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Leading the way in the CCI2*-LB division and in the hunt for the USEF National Two-Star JR/YR Championship is Francesca Spoltore with Millstreet Mitch. With a leading score of 31.4, Spoltore, 19, and her 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding got a positive start to their first international competition as a pair.

“He was really super today. He’s really trained on the flat. It’s been me learning how to get the perfect test out of him,” Spoltore said. “That’s probably the best test he’s had. I was able to get him uphill and he grew a lot in there.”

Spoltore and “Mitch” partnered only four months ago. He arrived at her trainer Alex Green’s barn to be sold and he was the perfect fit to help Spoltore gain competition miles at the level. The plan for tomorrow’s cross country is to try and stay up on the minute markers early.

“I’m not super fast on the cross country, especially since I don’t know him that well. The times I have run him I’ve just been learning how to ride him,” Spoltore said. “I’m hoping I can go quick tomorrow. It’s a very long course and the terrain here guts them a little bit by the end.”

The CCI3*-L also has a tie for the top spot after dressage. Woods Baughman and the 10-year-old Masterel, a Thoroughbred owned by Denis Glaccum and Sharon White, sit in equal first on a score of 32.1 with John Michael Durr and Becky Brown’s 13-year-old CDE, Tilikum.

Mikki Kuchta and Special Reserve, leading the CCI1*-L. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Earning the best dressage score to lead the inaugural VHT CCI1*-L are Mikki Kuchta and Special Reserve. They scored a 29.7, a solid start to the 6-year-old Thoroughbred’s first international competition.

The remainder of the national horse trials divisions, from Modified all the way to Starter, will begin their competition Saturday while the international combinations tackle cross country.

[Jane Jennings and Francesca Spoltore Take Charge of USEF Two-Star Eventing National Championships at VHT International]

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Virginia Horse Trials International Kicks Off With Spooky Horse Inspection

Pleasant Humphrey and his unicorn (Will Faudree). Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International kicked off Thursday with the first horse inspection for the CCI1*-L, CCI2*-L, and CCI3*-L divisions. Sixty-five international horse and rider combinations presented to the ground juries, and 61 will move on to the dressage phase.

All horses presented in the CCI3*-L were accepted. In the CCI2*-LA, Brittany Crandall and Cooley Almighty were sent to the hold box but opted to withdraw. Jessica Shull’s Valleyofthesun was held but sadly not accepted on re-presentation. In the CCI2*-LB, Rachel Ziemann and Highland Storm were held and withdrew without re-presenting. Olivia Hayes and Astrana De La Galerna were also held but later accepted. In the CCI1*-L, Claudia Iannucci’s Gregory the Great was held and withdrawn from the hold box. Mellisa Warden’s Deadpool was held but accepted on re-presentation.

Mellisa Davis Warden’s Deadpool is ready to take on the inaugural VHT CCI1*-L. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Vanda Stewart (IRL) and Robyn Fisher (USA) presided over the inaugural CCI1*-L. The ground jury for the CCI2*-L includes Nicki Herbert (GBR) and Aniko Vincze (HUN). The CCI3*-L ground jury of Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride (USA) and Marilyn Payne (USA) got into the holiday spirit, arriving at the horse inspection wearing matching witch outfits.

What a “witchy” ground jury. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Announcer Brian O’Connor is hoping for a call up to the Washington Nationals. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Many competitors took advantage of the first jog falling on Halloween and dressed up for the occasion. We saw spooky fascinators …

Arden Wildasin donned a spooky fascinator. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Samantha Bertin and Cresendo. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

… a masked man …

Can you name the masked man? (Answer: Bobby Meyerhoff!) Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

and a unicorn onesie take a pass down the jog lane.

An Intercollegiate & Alumni Team Challenge taking place this weekend includes competitors of every level competing in a friendly team competition. Seventeen teams from 11 schools with both current and former students participating make up the complete roster. Team entries can be viewed at this link.

With around 580 horses set to compete, this is the largest VHT International to date. The competition gets underway Friday with the international, Intermediate, Modified, Preliminary, and Novice dressage. Preliminary will run cross-country, and Advanced/Intermediate and Intermediate will show jump.

“It’s thrilling for our team to have such a positive turnout,” said VHT Organizer Andy Bowles. “We’ve worked hard to put together a fluid schedule and present an excellent competition. We are grateful to everyone for coming. We wish you all good luck and great rides.”

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Virginia Horse Trials International to Host U.S. Debut of CCI1*-L Level

Isabel Finemore and Rutherglen, winners of 2018 USEF JR/YR CCI2* Eventing National Championship. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Virginia Horse Trials International (VHT) is pleased to announce that it will host the first CCI1*-L in the United States at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2019. The CCI1*-L is the Modified (3’5”) level run under the international long format rules, with show jumping being the final phase run in reverse order of standing. VHT is currently the only event in the country to offer the CCI1*-L.

“We are excited to be adding the CCI1*-L to our international offerings at Virginia,” VHT Organizer Andy Bowles said. “It’s a great introduction to FEI competition at the Modified height, and it fits perfectly with our mission at Virginia to provide competitors with positive growth opportunities. We ran two large national Modified divisions at both the November 2018 and May 2019 competitions, so we’re hopeful that the interest in the CCI1*-L will be positive.”

VHT will also host the USEF CCI2* Eventing National Championship for the second consecutive year. Both adult and junior/young rider (21 and under) titles will be awarded. The Championship will run concurrently with the CCI2*-L division, and the Championship titles will be given to the highest placed American rider in each age group.

Back by popular demand is the Intercollegiate and Alumni Team Challenge. Whether currently in school, recently graduated, or graduated any number of years ago, riders are invited to don their school colors, chant fight songs, and enjoy a healthy dose of school rivalry.

“The intercollegiate team challenges have always been one of our favorite components of VHT,” Bowles said. “We realized that recent grads were wanting to stay involved and alumni wanted to get in on the fun, so we are happy to host a team challenge with a mix of current and former students.”

Teams may be made up of alumni only, current students only, or a mix of both. Teams of mixed levels will have coefficients applied to account for the level of difficulty. Scramble teams may be formed with multiple schools. Send your team roster and any questions to the team coordinator, Leslie Threlkeld, at [email protected].

In addition to the CCI1*-L and CCI2*-L, VHT’s fall edition offers CCI3*-L, CCI3*-S, and the CCI2*-S, which was offered for the first time at the May event. National competitors have a broad choice of Beginner Novice through Advanced/Intermediate, including national Modified, and a Starter level for newcomers to the sport. Bowles, Carsten Meyer, and David Taylor will design the tracks on two separate cross-country courses, and Chris Barnard returns as the show jumping course designer.

Come for the competition, stay for the extras. Prize money is once again on the table for the FEI competitors, as well as special awards for Best Conditioned horse and Best Turned Out rider, ribbons through tenth place, and additional gifts and prizes. The top three finishers of every national horse trials division receive discount coupons for future entries. Finally, everyone is invited to a complimentary supper at the Saturday night competitor party.

Entries for the VHT International open Sept. 17, 2019. Find entry information at or the USEA Omnibus listing.

Links: Website | Omnibus | Facebook | Instagram

[CCI1*-L Debuts at Virginia Horse Trials International, USEF CCI2* Eventing National Championship Returns]