Wednesday #AEC2019 Quotes from the Top: Intermediate and Prelim XC, Training Dressage

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A new day, and a new list of current leaders 🔝⁣ ⁣ Open Intermediate Championship: Tamra Smith & En Vogue ⁣ Preliminary Amateur Championship: Arden Wildasin & Watch Out⁣ Preliminary Horse Championship: Robert Meyerhoff & Lumumba⁣ Preliminary Junior/Young Rider Championship: Leila Saxe & Quasar⁣ Preliminary Rider Championship: Julia Spatt & 5o1 Macintosh⁣ Open Modified/Training: Katie Malensek & Landjaeger⁣ Training Amateur Championship: Eleanor Leonard & Alvescot Moneymaker⁣ Training Horse Championship: Madeline Backus & Reflektion's Rio⁣ Training Junior Championship: Kiersten Miller & Mama Mia⁣ Training Rider Championship: Elizabeth Sauter & Giana⁣ ⁣ Good luck tomorrow, everyone! 🥇🎉#AEC2019 #USEventing #BetterTogether 📸: @shannonbrinkman / @useventing

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Talk about an event firing on all cylinders … it’s Wednesday and we’re already two days deep into AEC action! One Intermediate and four Prelim divisions hit the Kentucky Horse Park’s storied cross country course today; meanwhile, five Training divisions took to the sandbox.

Many thanks to Jessica Duffy from the USEA, who from what I can tell is leashed to a desk in the media center transcribing rider interviews all day. You’re a hero, girl. On that note, thanks to all of the USEA staff for their hard work in producing such an incredible showcase of the true heart and soul of American eventing.

Let’s catch up with our Wednesday leaders!

Intermediate: Tamie Smith & En Vogue

On their cross country round: “I couldn’t have asked her to be better. I expected her to be a bit backed off because she hasn’t run, but she knows her job and you have to trust that if you prepare them properly and get them ready that they don’t have to run a ton. I wasn’t certain how she was going to feel and she felt amazing, I was super happy.

“I knew that, if I was going to make the time, I needed to be on my first minute. Both of those horses are horses you can go out of the box quick on – some horses you can’t, you have to settle into it – but I knew I could come out of the box strong. The first combination walks in a seven and I got it in seven on Danito and with Evie I knew I could get six so I got six in there and I was on my first minute and stayed on it the whole time. They’re both really fast horses and have a ton of blood in them. You basically had to land and sprint to the next combination and try not to have to bring them back too soon. They’re both so rideable – the both go in snaffles – it’s easy when you can go really fast because then they just come right back when you bring your shoulders up and they’re right there and paying attention.

“Evie was a little more green than Danito – he was kind of sleeping out there a bit, it was just super easy for him – but he just ran a few weeks ago so I think that probably helped and the course is quite stiff for a horse that hasn’t run since Twin in April. She wasn’t as bold through the coffin and then the last water she overjumped the brush and I added a stride in there, but she was super. She was just looking for the flags and wants to do it and is just a fun horse to ride.”

Looking ahead to show jumping: “We’re working on that, it’s a work in progress. She needs quite a technical ride and I just hope I ride her the best I can and that she tries to jump the jumps as clean as possible. I do have rails on her in the past but she is capable of jumping clean, as long as she stays rideable. I’ve been working with Erik Duvander – he’s helped me a ton with her, working on her shape, and she’s getting better and starting to do that and I felt that out on the cross-country. I hope it transfers over to tomorrow!”

Top 5 after cross country (view full leaderboard here):

Preliminary Rider: Julia Spatt & 5o1 Macintosh

On their cross country round: “He was wonderful, he was really on. I was definitely feeling a little bit nervous in the warmup hearing about some of the trouble on course and I knew that the time was going to be really hard to make, but he was really on. He was listening the whole way around and he was actually really good to me in two of the combinations where I wasn’t exactly right and he gave me a really great feeling all the way around. I had to really keep kicking to make the time though, we just kept going and he was right there with me, I’m really pleased.”

On their partnership: “I’ve had him since he was a 5-year-old – I bought him from Jacob Fletcher who I was working for at the time. Jacob did his first two Novices but I’ve done everything since then, so his first Training, his first Preliminary, his first FEI, and he actually ran his first Intermediate this summer. He’s a really exciting horse and I’ve had him for four years so we’ve had a really long partnership and we know each other really well. It’s cool to still be together and he seems like he gets better every year.”

On winning the Prelim Amateur division at last year’s AEC: “I can no longer declare as an amateur because I work for a college as a coach but we managed to win last year, which was a little surprising and unexpected and really exciting. And we were planning to come and try to be competitive this year so it’s exciting that it’s worked out so far.”

Looking ahead to show jumping: “He’s really very good in show jumping. I tend to get a little nervous and can ride a little backwards sometimes but if I give him a good ride he’s great. He’s careful, he’s listening, sometimes he just gets a little bold and will get a little strong but if I can keep him rideable he’s a wonderful jumper.”

Top 5 after cross country (view full leaderboard here):

Junior/Young Rider Preliminary: Leila Saxe and Quasar

On their journey to the AEC: “Kyle Carter and Jen Carter are my trainers. [The drive] was good, but it was very long. We left at 4 a.m. It was 12 hours.”

On their cross country round: “Quasar was super. He jumped around like a star. He was five seconds under time and he was just perfect. He’s very solid and he jumps pretty much everything.”

On their partnership: “I’ve had him for almost two years in October. I got him from Buck Davidson, he had run an old three-star but he needs to be a lower level horse so I did an Intermediate on him and it went really well so we just moved down to Prelim for the AEC and then after we’re going to do the three-star at Stable View.”

Looking ahead to show jumping: “He’s very perfect, he listens to everything. He’s a little bit nervous sometimes but he’s perfect. He’s not a very careful jumper, I’m just praying that tomorrow goes well because he does not jump clean but I’m just going to pray and hopefully he picks up his feet.”

Top 5 after cross country (view full leaderboard here):

Preliminary Amateur: Arden Wildasin & Watch Out

On her cross country rounds: “My horses were very happy with cross-country. They loved today and I loved today, it was fantastic. Walter, who is sitting in first right now, I’ve had him for almost ten years, so he’s one of my fun Preliminary kids. He won’t go above that, but we just have so much fun together doing that. With Sunny, this is his second year at this level. He was out there answering all of the questions that were being asked. They didn’t do anything wrong. I might’ve done something, but they were there to save me.”

Of the track: “The course was fantastic. It’s awesome galloping across Kentucky ground. I’ve come here before, but coming [to the AEC], this event has a bit of a different feel. It’s a great track, asked tough questions — my favorite being the bank bounce with the log on top. That was fun!”

Top 5 after cross country (view full leaderboard here):

Modified: Katie Malensek & Landjaeger

On their test strategy: “He’s generally a pretty cool-minded horse so I tried to just not expel too much energy in the warmup and he ended up going in and he was a solid citizen who just put in a good test. I’m really proud of him.”


On their partnership: “I keep my horses at home so my horses are my babies, we spend a lot of time together. He’s a sweet horse, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and he’s just a little pushy but easy to get along with. He loves his food and his treats. He’s just a really sweet horse and he’s been an easy horse to bring along.”

On the Modified level: “Both of my horses are young and they’d had a good winter season around the Training level and I just wasn’t thinking they were quite ready as 5-year-olds to go up to Preliminary so I started looking for some alternatives. Thankfully, Area III has a ton of Modifieds and I’d never done them before so I just thought let’s just give it a whirl. It’s the perfect in-between level for them. A little more challenging than Training and not so hard on them as youngsters as Preliminary. Coming here, I thought I want do a little harder dressage test and a little harder show jumping – I was hoping the cross-country would be Modified but that’s alright, we’ll have some fun around the Training level.”

Looking ahead to cross country: “[The course] looks fantastic. We’re from Florida where everything’s flat – this horse has hardly ever left the flat sand so he’ll have some fun on the hills I’m sure. It’ll be a little different for him, that’s for sure. I love him, he’s a good boy.”

Top 5 after dressage (view full leaderboard here):

Training Rider: Elizabeth Sauter and Giana 

On their dressage test: “It went really well today, I was super happy with her. We’ve had kind of an up and down season, but she just went in there today feeling very relaxed and was with me the entire way.”

On their partnership: “I’ve been lucky enough to ride her for her whole career, I backed her when she was three. I’m very lucky, my coach owns her and allows me to rider her, and she is an incredible horse. She’s so fun, very honest, and loves her job. She’s a pleasure to work with every day.”

Looking ahead to cross country: “The course looks great. It looks really fun, and there’s certainly a lot to do. The terrain is great and it’s all beautifully presented. I think it’s certainly within her capabilities if I do my job and allow her to do hers.”

Top 5 after dressage (view full leaderboard here):

Training Amateur: Eleanor Leonard & Alvescot Moneymaker

On her horse: “Her name is Maisie, she’s a 9-year-old Anglo European Sport Horse. We imported her from England from Susie Pragnell three years ago and we’ve just been kind of getting to know each other. She’s really great. I took Maisie Preliminary around a year ago and she’s really forgiving horse but she can be challenging, too. So I think right now right now it’s us finding our own confidence and we’re just kind of getting to a really good spot where everything’s clicking.”

On their test: “It was really good. It felt like one of our stronger tests so I was really excited that we were able to go in and be bolder and more confident than we have before. She was really good though, she was more expressive than she’s been in the past.”

On the AEC: “I’ve wanted to come to the AEC for a few years but it’s never really been the right timing. I just had a gap year in Virginia working for Chris Talley and Hannah Salazar so I was coming this way anyway and I thought it would be a good pit stop on the way home to California. I’ve always wanted to come to AEC because it looks like a really special experience, and having it in Kentucky at the Horse Park was really exciting so I wanted to be here.”

On moving east: “I think that moving the East Coast was really beneficial in gaining some independence. Chris was really helpful with the cross country and just being able to show so much more and go schooling, because it’s kind of hard on the west coast sometimes and it’s been really helpful.”

Top 5 after dressage (view full leaderboard here):

 Training Horse: Madeline Backus & Reflektion’s Rio

On their test: “It went really well. He is a pure dressage horse so we’ve done up through third level. He’s really good at dressage but he prefers the jumping – we event to keep him happy and he loves it. I was really pleased with his test today. He stayed focused, which doesn’t always happen, and he was just really rideable. He put in a really nice test I couldn’t be more happy.”

On their best phase: “He’s lovely cross country, it’s his favorite. He used to do dressage with other people and he wasn’t happy and then he got to do cross country and that was it, he loves that so much. Show jumping is probably his weakest phase – sometimes the rails come down and we just accept that. As long as he’s happy we’re all happy.”

On their partnership: “He’s owned by a woman named Lynn Roberts, she’s a client of my mom’s at Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center. I‘ve been competing him for about four years now – it’s been a while. I’ve been riding him on and off because I’ve traveled overseas and competed my upper level horse for a while so my mom’s done a lot of the training on him as well. The last two years we’ve been doing really well and moving up the levels and taking our time and keeping him happy.”

Looking ahead to cross country: “It’s a great championship course I’m really excited to get out there. There’s a lot of good questions but at the same time it’s super fair. It’s just a really good course.”

Top 5 after dressage (view full leaderboard here):

Junior Training: Kiersten Miller & Mama Mia

On their test: “She was amazing. I knew that if I kept my head on straight and went in did what I know how to do it would be fine. I definitely felt more nervous than usual so I was kind of worried about that because she can tend to feed off that because she’s quite electric in these environments. It all ended up going well though.”

On their partnership: “We just recently started our partnership back in June – I got her back in April. I got a few rides in here and there but she was in a different state than me so I wasn’t able to rider her very much for the first two months. Then in June she came home to Michigan with me and we kind of hit the ground running and we got a few events in and are building a partnership as we go and getting better and better at each event.”

On heading south: “We decided to keep her down there for a little bit longer because she’s not really used to Michigan and Michigan gets warmer a lot later so we were afraid she wouldn’t do well in that environment so we kept her down [in Ocala] with one of my trainers for two months and I was able to fly down on the weekends so I wouldn’t miss school. I got about eight rides in with her during that time. It was two rides here, three rides there, but it wasn’t very consistent. It was difficult to start learning about each other but I did my best to spend some time on the ground with her and just get to know her in that way.”

On their favorite phase: “She’s actually quite new to cross-country – she just started eventing this winter but she loves it. I remember for my first event with her back in June I was nervous, I had no clue how she was really going to react because obviously we haven’t done much together. She just ate it up – every fence I was just smiling. She loves cross-country – that’s definitely her favorite part. It’s fun out there with her.

Looking ahead to cross country: “[The course] is absolutely amazing. I think it’s cool how in the beginning he kind of lets you feel your horse out before he gives you anything too technical and then he slowly amps it up, especially at the head of the lake – I really like the questions there. I’m pretty excited.”

Top 5 after dressage (view full leaderboard here):

Much more to come. Go Eventing!

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