The USEA Area VII Championships and Aspen Farms Horse Trials concluded [this weekend] in Yelm, WA, which included the only Advanced division offered in Washington State. Over $35,000 worth of prizes were distributed to top finishers thanks to generous show sponsors.
Karen O’Neal and Clooney 14 stayed in winning form all weekend, show jumping double clear to win the Tin Men Supply Advanced, including $2,000 in prize money. Sophie Click and Tarantino 54 were second in the division.
This was Clooney 14’s first time competing at the Advanced level. His owner, Annika Asling, recently had a baby and allowed Karen–who has ridden the horse in years past and also was rebounding from a broken foot this spring–to take on the ride.
“Annika has been so great giving me the ride,” said Karen, who was overjoyed with Clooney’s performance today. “I don’t have my own horse right now, so it’s really special.”
“The show jumping course was designed very well,” said Karen after their clear round. “It rode how we walked it. The plan worked really well. There were places if you got too far in or too far out it would be hard–that was the question presented–but if you stuck to the plan, it rode great.”
Karen and Clooney 14 aim to run a 3-star short next, and also work on fitness for a 3-star long in the near future.
In the USEA Area VII Open Intermediate Championships, Cristina Rennie and her homebred Flight of the Arabesque won on a score of 44.7. Kelsey Horn and Cleared For Take Off got second, and Marc Grandia and GHS Calexico got third.
“The whole weekend was a highlight,” Cristina said after their victory lap. “He really rocked the cross-country, and made it so I just had to hold on. I bred him 12 years ago. He was supposed to be 16 hands and he’s about 18 hands, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
They are now qualified for an Advanced and Cristina hopes to take on a 3-star long.
The Open Intermediate division had significant movement on the leaderboard over the course of the weekend. Ultimately, Anni Grandia-Dodson and HSH Bold Decision, owned by Andrew Hoff, finished in first up from seventh after dressage on day one. Sophie Click and Quidproquo finished second, and Devin Robel and Gillou finished third.
HSH Bold Decision was imported from Ireland less than a year ago. According to Anni, “the show jumping has been a struggle for us. At our last show–Equestrian Institute Horse Trials–I had my first double clean with him. Going in this ring today is hard because it’s so small. He’s such a good cross-country horse because he gallops across the ground, but it has made the show jumping really difficult. So today feeling like even though it started to fall apart, I could put it back together and finish, was good progress. His show jumping is getting better and better.”
Harper Padgett and Captivate were unshakeable in the Area VII Open Preliminary Championship division, winning on a score of 26.1. Hanni Sreenan and Ebenholtz, owned by Amy Haugen, got second, and Anna Stein and her off-the-track-Thoroughbred Lucy Lucy Lucy got third.
Harper says of the three phases, the one that stood out for them this weekend was, “the show jump and the way that it rode. I really liked the course this year. I thought that it was open and flowing, which helped a lot of horses in this ring.”
In Open Preliminary, Nicole Aden and Truckee Bash jumped double clear on Morgan Rowsell’s cross-country track to win the division handily on 25.5. Marc Grandia and Levino, owned by Full Gallop Syndicate, LLC, finished second on 32.6, and Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and Bodhizafa, owned by Louise LaRue, finished third on 34.2.
After a clear and fast cross-country round today, Nicole said the best part of the weekend was “just feeling how confident and happy my horse is to be back out. He’s coming back from a year off. I wanted him to come out and have a good run and be confident and leave confidently–that was the most important thing. Winning is just icing on the cake. I just want my horse to be happy and confident, and that’s how he felt. I’m thrilled! As for what’s next for him, I will let him tell me.”
In a division with no margin for error, Mary Burke and Valentino delivered a clear show jumping round to win the Area VII Open Training Championship. Hayden Brown and Cooley Merrywell, owned by Mint Hayden, finished second, and Patience O’Neal and Winston, owned by Bobbie Smith-Ede, finished third.
“We just moved Valentino up a couple of shows ago from Novice to the Training division,” said Mary. “He was second in his first Training, and then first in his second Training, and then winning Training Championships here… We’re extremally proud of him. For a young horse that I imported from Germany and developed–he’s everything I hoped he would grow up to be.”
The next stop for them this season is to compete in the United States Dressage Federation Regional Championship show in Devonwood, Oregon where they qualified at 2nd level.
Shruti Bona won the Area VII Training Rider Championship with her catch ride, Freesela, owned and qualified by Hope Cochran. With her own horse out with an injury, Shruti was happy to get the ride on Freesela.
“I was just hoping for fun rounds this weekend,” said Shruti. “It definitely exceeded all my expectations. My cross-country was super, but I was really happy with my dressage test. We had a great test. It was a good feeling to be able to keep her focused in a kind of chaotic ring. Of course nothing can beat cross-country–it was super fun! It rode awesome. It was a great course.”
Simone Clark and Indio BMW, owned by Simone’s mom Laura Clark, led the Area VII Junior Training Championship from start to finish. They won on their dressage score of 20.7–the lowest finishing score at the show.
“The highlight of the weekend was finishing on my dressage score–I’ve never done that before,” Simone said. “But cross-country was so much fun… It’s always about the cross-country for me. Everything else is fun too, but cross-country is what I do this for.”
Patience O’Neal and Barney Come Home, owned by Wendy Wadhwani, finished the weekend on their dressage score of 22.2 to win the Area VII Open Novice Championship. Emily Sloop and Five Star Perfect finished second, and Jessica Heidemann and Falconess, owned by Joyce Osborn, finished third.
Patience said Barney is ending his 2023 eventing season for now on this high-note.
“The highlight for him this weekend was Stadium,” she said. “He can be a little bit klunky at times in show jumping… He’s still getting the hang of how to be careful. The work we did in the last 2 weeks really helped with me being able to ride him positively in the show jump and with him also trying a little harder for me. He has improved tremendously since Equestrian Institute Horse Trials 2 weeks ago. I’m very proud of him.”
In Area VII Junior Novice Championship, Sarah Buehler the Oldenburg gelding Orion’s Shining Star, owned by Roxanne Moore, won the division on 28.3. Parker Kronemeyer and Twisted Oliver, owned by Michelle Cameron Donaldson placed second, and Chanelle Dahl and Balian placed third.
“The show jumping round today was the highlight for me,” said Sarah. “He felt amazing, and he was amazing in warm-up. We’ve really come together. I’ve only been riding him since July. We got fourth at Rebecca Farm, second at Equestrian Institute Horse Trials, and now we have won Champs. Thanks to Roxanne, I have been really lucky to be able to ride him as my catch ride, since my horse is hurt. He is just amazing!”
In Area VII Novice Rider Championship, Tracey Trewin and Coby R jumped double clear in show jumping to secure the win. Alexandra McBride and Peter Parker, owned by Kiran D’Souza, got second and Tanya Stricker and Handsome Harri got third.
“He’s still a new horse to me,” shared Tracey. “He’s such a different ride from my last horse–a Thoroughbred. It’s so different learning how to ride a Warmblood. I know there’s so much more inside of him to get out. Being able to progress together is super fun. I’m starting to trust him a lot. I feel like I’m getting comfortable enough we could go up to Training level.”
Catie Cejka and the petite off-the-track-Thoroughbred gelding Smitten took the win in the Area VII Open Beginner Novice Championships on a score of 28.1. It was an exciting Birthday present for Smitten’s owner, Jessica Wickersham, who was there to celebrate his achievement.
“This horse has come a very long ways,” shared Catie, who was all smiles after their winning show jumping round. “He came off the racetrack and was almost given up on. His owner Rebecca took him and spent a whole year rehabbing him. For him to get here competing at Championships is amazing!”
Kylie Hoxeng and her 13-year-old Welsh Cob x Thoroughbred mare D’Eva’s Fleurie delivered consistent performances in all three phases to win the Area VII Junior Beginner Novice Championship on a score of 23.1. Gabi Anderton and Honey Do Sunday were second, and Lily Rhea and Mugzy finished third.
Kylie was all happiness after her show jumping round and said the best part of the show was “bringing this horse. I’ve worked really hard with her, and she’s done so much for me. She was brought up as a dressage horse and just recently I’ve been teaching her to jump. This is our last show for the year, but next year we will kickstart the season off at Novice level!”
In one of the most exciting moments of the weekend, Melissa Mohr and Ferrani jumped clear in show jumping, moving from second to first to win the Area VII Beginner Novice Rider Championship as well as The Arion Challenge–a special prize sponsored by Arion HST.
“We love Aspen,” shared Melissa after her winning ride. “I love the facility, and she loves the cross-country course here. It’s the one course where we’ve had the best luck with her. Everyone has been so welcoming and warm–the whole environment here is awesome. I’m super proud to be part of this region.”
Since Melissa and Ferrani won their Rider division at the June Aspen Farms Horse Trials as well as their Rider division today, they were the only pair to successfully achieve The Arion Challenge at Aspen Farms for Amateur riders. For this feat, they will receive a custom Arion saddle.
“It’s so nice for Arion to sponsor this, especially at the Beginner Novice and Amateur level. The fact that they put in effort to support us, as well as the big riders, is really incredible. I’m in shock! My husband jokes that there’s no ‘Return on Investment’ ever on my horse, but for once she has won something that is very nice! I’m super excited–I’ve heard amazing things about the Arion saddles.”
United States Eventing Association President, Louise Leslie, was in attendance for the weekend, and she helped hand out awards during the USEA Area VII Championship prize giving ceremonies.
“It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Area VII Championships,” said Louise. “It was great having all the sponsorship and participation in Area VII.”
The complete scores for all divisions are available on Startbox Scoring, here.