Eventing Nation’s coverage of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products. We want to share the joy of eventing this week, so we invite you to nominate an AEC rider for our “Kentucky Performance of the Week” contest, happening now in partnership with Kentucky Performance Products. Learn more here.
Do you know what I like about the American Eventing Championships? What puts a tiny joyful tear in my eye and a happy little spring in my step? It’s not the sight of Olympians dousing another another in champagne on a podium — a waste of good bubbles, IMO. It’s not someone posing with a giant cardboard check worth more than my annual salary, or the professionals for whom the AEC is just another day at the office.
What sets my heart aloft are the stories, the REAL stories, of the AEC adult amateurs and junior riders that make up the heart and soul of our sport. Like that of our AEC Beginner Novice Master Amateur division dressage leaders, Penny Welsch and Mr. Poppers, who lead the massive 51-horse field on a score of 25.1.
Penny, of Ocala, FL, says, “It’s been almost 40 years since I evented. I never thought I’d ever step foot on this ground with a horse. You know, I just evented as a teenager, you know, and not big time then either. It was the small stuff up in New Jersey. So this is a dream come true.”
Hey, I know Penny! And I bet a bunch of you reading this do, too. Her vendor, I Love My Horse Eventing & Dressage Boutique, is a staple at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and many Area 3 events and has been a much-valued supporter of EN. She sells a hand-picked selection of breeches, show attire and outerwear plus tack, stable supplies and gifts. The boutique is at the AEC this week, so please go visit it or shop its website here.
I bet you know Mr. Poppins, too. After a tragic riding accident that claimed his owner Christine Brown’s life in 2013, her husband Stuart had to make decisions on what to do with Christine’s horses, namely Mr. Poppers, a now 13-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding. “Stuart asked if I’d be willing to take ‘Sam’ into my barn,” Buck Davidson told EN a few years back. “I was honored that a man of his stature would have one of his horses in my barn, and we took Sam in and began working with him.” Buck’s wife Andrea competed Sam through Training, winning many events and finishing 10th at the last AEC in 2019.
Penny, a student of Andrea’s, began leasing Sam from Stuart in February. Within three events, they had qualified for the AEC having earned one red and two yellow ribbons.
“Sam’s pretty famous,” she says. “People know Sam. When I’m walking around the Park, you know, between having this store and having Mr. Poppers, people are always talking to me.”
Renee Senter, Overland Park, Kan., is the second-placed rider aboard Regina, the 14-year-old Holsteiner (Regulus x Nellina), on a score of 27.
Just behind on 27.8 is Amy Winnen, Rochester, N.Y., and Galatea HU, a 15-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar (Galant Du Serein x Rohmanie), on a score of 27.8.
Beginner Novice cross country begins on Saturday at 8 a.m. Best of luck and HAVE FUN to all!