Your Monster, Mega, Multi-Division Saturday AEC Report

The first 2018 AEC champions were crowned today! Shown here: Jr. Training winners Madison Santley and Excellence. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The American Eventing Championships is no ordinary event. There’s no hierarchy of prestige here: Every last competitor earned his or her place on the entry list, and nobody’s journey was easy. At the AEC, Beginner Novice is just as important as Advanced. While the jumps may be smaller or larger, the obstacles competitors faced to get here — whether it’s the adult amateur working mom who rides at 5 a.m. because it’s the only time she has, or the professionals who risk everything to hedge their bets on a dream — are all worthy of our respect, and all the riders worthy of our admiration.

That’s why, instead of just focusing on the upper levels, this week we are striving to shine the spotlight on all the championship divisions. But we can’t do it alone — the AEC is simply too expansive.

The comprehensive AEC coverage EN has shared this week would not have been possible without the media teams of the USEA and Colorado Horse Park, who have been working feverishly to make sure each and every division gets the attention it deserves. Even at this moment, with the competitors’ party in full swing just outside the media center, they are hunkered down at their laptops, writing and editing photos, all in the name of sharing AEC rider stories and celebrating their successes with the larger eventing community.

Thank you Leslie Mintz and Jessica Duffy of the USEA, and Kim Beaudoin and Kristin Rashid of the Colorado Horse Park. Teamwork makes the dream work!

And without further ado, here is your sprawling 5,400-word recap of Saturday’s AEC action! (View Advanced here and Beginner Novice here.)


Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

>Heather Morris of California and Charlie Tango, the Team Express Group, LLC’s 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Shannondale Sarco St. Ghyvan x Our Queen Bee), jumped around the cross country course clear to continue to lead on their dressage score of 25.8.

“The cross country course was just beautifully done by Tremaine [Cooper] and his crew,” said Morris, “so my hat goes off to them for a job well done. The rain that we had last night made the footing absolutely perfect. It was really, really nice so the horses were quite quick.”

Intermediate completed their dressage phase on Thursday, but inclement weather shut the event down on Friday before the group could run cross country. Despite the day off from competition, Morris stated that ‘Chuck’ “felt better than ever” when he ran early Saturday morning. “Not running yesterday wasn’t a hindrance,” she said. “I’m sure it helped the footing and the horses were fresh to go this morning. It was good for them to be able to run on amazing footing today, so we are really happy.”

Bella Mowbray of California and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue, a 2005 Hanoverian mare (Earl x Laurena), are 2nd on their score of 30.5, followed closely by Julie Wolfert and Iowa Lot of Money, her own 2011 Thoroughbred gelding (Fusaichi Pegasus x Lion N Cheatin), on a 33.1.

Preliminary Amateur

Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Julia Spatt of Arkansas and 5o1 Macintosh quietly stalked the leaders all weekend, sitting in a respectable tie for seventh place on a score of 34.3 following dressage and then moving up into second place after adding just 0.8 time faults on cross country day. Finally, Spatt and her own 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding turned in a double clean show jumping round this afternoon to take home the title.

Her familiarity with the venue served her well, as Spatt was able to adequately prepare 5o1 Macintosh for the challenge. “We did a lot of trot sets and gallop sets to get conditioned. We have a nice hill at the farm, so we did a lot of nice slow gallops, up a slow, gradual hill, to make sure he was fit and prepared for the altitude. I felt like my conditioning program paid off, he felt very good yesterday.”

“It was really exciting to come back to the AEC this year,” said Spatt, who competed in both the 2012 and 2018 AEC. “I’m actually from Colorado. I’ve been living in Arkansas and it was really fun to come back to my home turf and compete at the AEC, and especially to have such a good result. It was quite a homecoming. I love showing at CHP. It’s always been one of my favorite venues.”

Spatt said, “Show jumping can tend to me my Achilles heel for competing. I was trying to keep mentally calm and keep a rhythm and let him do his job.”

Second place went to Erin Hofmann and her own Darkwatch (Royal Academy x Without), a 2008 Thoroughbred gelding. The pair moved from fifth to first with a double clear cross country round and dropped back into second-place after pulling a single rail in show jumping.

“The AEC has been wonderful,” said Hofmann, for whom the Colorado Horse Park is home turf. “I’m from Utah and have a bit of home turf advantage. I’ve been coming here for a long time. I didn’t really think about the altitude being an issue for some people, but when I got here I heard a lot of people talking about it, but we didn’t really feel a difference.”

Hofmann enjoyed the course that Tremaine Cooper put together. “I loved the big, bold gallops on the course. There were big tables and then you had really coming back and do something technical. It really kept you on your toes.”

Ruth Bley and her own 2005 Selle Francais gelding Rodrigue Du Granit (Robin II Z x Delight Gee) started and finished the competition in third place, dropping back to fourth after cross country with 6.0 time faults, but moving back up into third with a flawless show jumping round.

“It’s been great!” said Bley of competing at the AEC. “It was a lot of fun. This is a great facility. I have loved the trails that we could ride on. We got here on Sunday and we hacked around and tried to acclimate our horses that were coming from [sea level] to altitude. Actually, I think the horses did better than I did. We forget that we need to acclimate, too.”

“On cross country I had to remind myself to breathe,” Bley continued, “but my horse came off and acted like it wasn’t bad. I was like ‘Oh, I could have kicked you harder!’ It’s a very different course than we’re used to because there’s not a lot of track so, I actually got lost, which is why he has time penalties. I stumbled around for a while out there. If I could do it again, I would go walk that part of the course over and over and over again.”

Preliminary Rider

Whitney Tucker Billeter and Karvaleo. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Places shifted and changed once more in the Preliminary Rider division, which saw Californian Whitney Tucker Billeter guide her own 2011 Irish Sport Horse gelding Karvaleo (Kanna x Finod Cavalier) to the blue ribbon. The duo earned a collective score of 70.3. “This is my first AEC and it’s beautiful here. I want to come live here during the summer!” Billeter exclaimed.

Due to yesterday’s inclement weather, the Preliminary Rider division was sent back to the barn before they were set to run cross country. The group resumed on Saturday morning, and then contested their final phase later in the afternoon.

Billeter explained, “I just had to work a little bit harder to get him in front of my leg in the warmup but he answered everything. We had a little bauble. I got too tight coming into a combination and pushed him into the B element, but never got organized. If I had to do anything differently it would have been to ride the 9AB a bit better so I could be more organized to get him into the water. He felt tired warming up twice yesterday and then doing cross country and show jumping today. Luckily he has had practice. He’s a really cool young horse that I’m super excited about.”

Travis Atkinson of Utah rode Don Darco, his own 2009 Zweibrucker gelding (Damarco x Gong Lee), to second place on 74.7 penalties. Of his overall weekend, Atkinson said, “It didn’t go as planned, but it was alright. It was a tough cross country course that eliminated a lot of our division and we were the only two left when it came to the show jumping. It was mine to lose.”

Junior/Young Rider Preliminary

Madelyn Floyd and Clementine. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Rails were falling in the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division, but each of the top three had one rail apiece so their placings remained unchanged. Madelyn Floyd led the victory gallop aboard her own Clementine, a 2009 Hanoverian mare (Carrico x La Belle), making her journey from Washington State well worth it. “She’s a really good jumper, so I tried to stay out of her way,” said Floyd. “I tried to give her her head, let her do her thing, and keep the tempo the same.”

The penalties were hard to track, so Floyd wasn’t sure if she had a rail in hand when she cantered into the ring. “Show jumping is our hardest phase, so I just tried to relax and jump a good round. She was great. I couldn’t have asked her to be any better. I made a mistake at fence two but she was awesome.”

Floyd and Clementine finished on a 33.5 which was good enough to take the win over reserve champion Camryn Holcomb and Michaela Holcomb’s Cloud Nine, a 2005 Thoroughbred gelding. Like Floyd’s Clementine, Holcomb said that show jumping isn’t the best phase for Cloud Nine. “He can be pretty tense,” said Holcomb, who hails from Kansas. “He’s small and he’s shaped so weird, so if you ride him normally that’s when he pulls a rail. You have to go really slow, take your time. I was trying to breathe and stay calm. I knew we could do it. We’ve had double clears before, so we just tried to take it in stride.”

Rounding out the top three was Callia Englund and her own Xyder, a 2010 Cheval Canadien gelding (D D D-Cromwell Prince 2 I x Cosyland Start Kandi). “The AEC was so fun,” said Englund who traveled from Washington State. “I’m so glad we made the trip up here. It’s my first time to the CHP and the AEC.”

“The cross country course was difficult! He’s such a good boy on cross country. He just ate everything up and had a lot of fun with it,” said Englund.

Preliminary Horse

Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Ghost. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Yesterday’s course was influential in the Preliminary Horse division, which gave Tamie Smith the opportunity to climb up the leaderboard into first. Once Smith had the lead, she wasn’t letting go of it and a double clear show jumping round secured her win. Riding Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Ghost, a 2012 Irish Sport Horse/Belgian Warmblood mare (Dhannondale Sarco x Riverlon Mist), Smith finished on her dressage score of 29.0.

“Ghost is just a sweetheart,” said Smith. “My daughter has been riding her and producing her. In the victory gallop they even congratulated her, which was so exciting because she did all of the work! I just sat there on her. She’s just such a professional, so good and careful.”

She continued, “She was a little tired today from yesterday because she’s not as bold as the other horse, but she tries her heart out and she’s careful and you just keep on going.”

Second-place was captured by another California native, Gina Economou, riding Lauren Rath’s 2005 Thoroughbred gelding (Devil His Due x Synful Maid), who also finished on their dressage score of 30.4. Of her experience at CHP, Economou said, “They did a fabulous job here. It’s so nice to have an AEC that is in the Midwest and to have one that we could make it to. It was wonderful this year.

“I came out with the expectations to put in some solid dressage and cross country, which is kind of his forte. He met every expectation that I set and went above that. He jumped very clean and I’m so proud of him. Basically, his owner got pregnant, so I got to ride! It’s beautiful here. We haven’t been here in a long time, so it was really nice to come back.”

Smith also claimed third-place in the Preliminary Horse division, this time aboard MaiBlume, the MB Group LLC’s 2010 German Sport Horse/ Thoroughbred mare (Sir Schiwago x Free Lady), also concluding on a dressage score of 31.9. Of her second Preliminary Horse mount, Smith said, “She was absolutely super. Super rideable, she had a very beautiful round, I was really proud of her. Still full of energy, she’s never tired. She’s spicy so sometimes she can get a little funny in the lines to get to the next jump, but today she wasn’t. She was super and I couldn’t have asked her to be better.”

Smith credited CHP and its facility as a valuable asset to the training of her competition string. “It’s so fun to come here and have both of them do so well. I love the ring. It’s so nice to be able to have those green horses handle that kind of atmosphere.”

Training Horse

McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

As the first division champion to be crowned at the 15th annual AEC, Training Horse winner McKenzie Rollins was nothing but smiles as she galloped around the Coors Arena in her lap of victory. “It’s just such an honor to be able to come here in the first place,” she said. “To compete at such a beautiful venue, to make the trek out from California, with my best friend. It was just so fun. It’s a dream come true.”

Rollins moved from first place after dressage into second place after cross country with her own Excel Star Lord, a 2012 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Non-Stop x Korea B), then clinched the victory on a score of 34.9.

“He’s still quite young,” Rollins said, “so I really wanted to take my time to produce him, to not skip over anything. It’s really important to me that he’s happy and comfortable to do the job and that I’m not over-facing him with anything and I feel like this is just such a feather in his cap. He’s my first young horse that I’ve brought along and it’s been really fun. He’s such a pleasure to ride. He’s so lovely and he’s so kind and enjoys the work, which makes it that much more worth it.”

Second-place was awarded to Sam Kelly of Minnesota aboard Robinstown Ballivor, her own 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Watermill Swatch x Coevers Dock). The pair made a comeback from fifth place after cross country to end on 37.5 penalties.

“It was a great weekend,” said Kelly. “We traveled 20 hours, so it took forever for us to get here and we’ve been here since last Saturday.” Of her weekend, she said, “Dressage, he was amazing. He had a couple spooks, which is kind of unlike him, but with cross country too, he was amazing. We had time, which was a bummer, but he’s a strong jumper, so I knew he had it in the bag. It was just a strong overall weekend.”

Idaho’s Attila Rajnai rounded out the top three with Maximus de la Tombe, his own 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Esperanto van Paemel x Fidji de la Tombe), earning a score of 39.9. Commenting on his horse’s overall performance, Rajnai said, “The dressage test was very good. He felt like he was pretty relaxed for him. He’s still a very young horse, so I thought he did a good job. On cross country he was a little bit stronger than I wish he had been, so it took me a little time to prepare for the jumps and I feel like that cost us a little time. In the last phase, he was very tight as well so through one turn he got a bit discombobulated and had a rail, but all in all I’m very happy with his performance.”

Junior Training

Madison Santley and Excellence. Photo by
USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The Junior Training division concluded with Madison Santley of California, who moved to finish on top of the podium aboard Excellence, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vaillant x Wolinda), after clear rounds in both jumping phases. 

Santley and her mount finished on their dressage score of 31.7. She said, “This [AEC] has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. It took a long time to get out here. We had a bumpy road, but he was so good. He was an angel and I love him with all of my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse and a better week.”

Colorado native Cora Severs rode Cuervo, Stacey Severs’ 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Judgement ISF x Alexis Titty 11 Z), to the reserve championship on their dressage score of 35.6. “I had a great AEC experience,” Severs said. “I’ve qualified every year, but this is the first time in four years that I have been able to go. Overall it went really well. I wasn’t able to ride him for two weeks leading up to the event, as I was at college, but all in all, he listened very well and I had a great time.”

Madison Flanders of Oregon finished in third place with Michele Flanders’ Arwen II, a 2008 Thoroughbred mare (Silver Patriarch x Sally Smith), on a final score of 35.8. “I’ve had the greatest AEC experience,” Flanders said. “It’s really cool that it was close, here in Colorado this time. We usually can’t go because it’s on the East Coast. The whole entire weekend was really fun, especially cross country. We went a little bit too fast, but it was so much fun, I don’t even care! My mare was just perfect the entire time.”

Training Amateur

Linda Quist and Belle Gambe. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

Linda Quist of Colorado led from start to finish aboard her own Belle Gambe, a 2004 Iberian Warmblood mare (Temerario VII x Mojave), in the Training Amateur division, finishing on a score of 27.3.

“I had a wonderful experience here this year,” Quist said. “This is my third AEC, I rode in Novice, Training, and now Training again. I thought the cross country course was fabulous, I had a wonderful time out there. Going into the last phase, all I could think of was ‘Leave the rails up please!'”

Texan Cherye Huber and her own Sam I Am, a 2006 British Sport Horse gelding (Cameo’s Reflection x Castle War Rebel), captured third place with a total score of 34.2. This is Huber’s fourth AEC and the time surrounded by her fellow competitors was one she will remember fondly.

She said, “I always love the AEC. It’s always such a festive group. Riding in the Amateur division, we always cheer each other on. I love it here. We had a nice trip and loved the cross country.”

Dawn Robbins of California and her own Diablo Tejano, a 2003 Thoroughbred gelding (Sandpit x Soar Like An Eagle), earned second place on a score of 31.1. Of her inaugural AEC, she said, “The AEC has been the time of my life. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve heard about it for years and we’ve qualified for many years, but it was always too far away for me. I got this chance to come to Colorado and just had to grab ahold of it. I’ve enjoyed being with all of the competitors and the facility is beautiful. The course was challenging, but not overly so. It was a real championship course.”

Training Rider

Tracy Alvez and Romulus. Photo by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The AEC is to be Romulus’ last competition, so it is only fitting that he went out on top. Luckily, he and owner/rider Tracy Alvez put in a double clear show jumping round to hold o to their overnight lead and win the division. “The show jumping course was so fun,” said Alvez of the Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango x Divottii). “My strategy was to keep him in front of my leg. He sucks back really easily.”

Alvez came into the AEC with Romulus in top-notch condition, but also was prepared to withdraw him at any point. “He kept telling me ‘No way, Mom, we’re going,'” said Alvez. She worked hard to prepare and ensure that Romulus was in ideal condition and ready to take on the competition at his age. “I’m really glad we did our conditioning in the heat of the day,” said Alvez. “In California, where I live, we don’t have the opportunity to train at elevation. We train at about 100 feet above sea level, which is nowhere near 5,280 feet.”

Jessica Maranto used her home field advantage to take home the reserve championship in the Training Rider division. “I liked having the AEC here this year because I live about five minutes from here,” said Maranto. She and Czardus, a 2007 American Warmblood gelding (Sweet’s Lucky Moondancer x Cadence), made a steady climb up the leaderboard throughout the weekend. They sat in seventh on a 32.8 after dressage and added nothing to that score in either jump phase.

Third placed Cindy Pavusko, who finished on her dressage score of 34.1, had a bit longer of a journey than Maranto, coming from California. “This is my first AEC. It was such a great experience and such an amazing opportunity to be able to come here and compete,” said Pavusko, who rode her own Sir Walter Raleigh, a 2007 American Warmblood gelding by Call Breeder. “I love it here. It’s beautiful. It’s HUGE! I’d never been here before, but my parents have and I was not expecting such a big venue. The course was a lot of fun.”

Novice Amateur

Erin Contino and Handsome Ransom. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

In the Novice Amateur division, the top three riders held on to their placings. Erin Contino of Colorado and Handsome Ransom, her 2012 Thoroughbred gelding (Desert Warrior x St. Casmir’s Secret), earned a 25.8 yesterday in dressage to lead the division. Contino said she felt very pleased with her steady mount as she guided him faultlessly around the cross country course.

“When I walked the course,” said Contino, “I thought it had a lot of turns, so I thought it might not ride as fluidly as I wanted, but it actually rolled really well. He hit a rhythm right out of the gate and we didn’t really have any issues. He’s a really honest horse, so I’m very lucky in that he tends to just know that his job is to get to the other side. He does that without questioning me, and he stays very straight, very honest.”

Moving into the final jumping phase tomorrow, Contino has one plan, and she’s sticking to it: “I am really going to work on keeping my nerves in check and not get impatient.”

Michelle Meghrouni of California and Swizzle, a 2011 Holsteiner mare (Blauer Vogel x Swiss Detail), sit in second place on a score of 27.0. The third place pair, Lorilee Hanson of Washington and Hypnotik, her own 2011 Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding (Montego Bay x Trelawny), are half a point behind on a 27.5.

Junior Novice

Julia Brittain and Haiku. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Yesterday Julia Brittain of California, riding her own Haiku, a 2012 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Sir Donnerhall, earned a 29.2 for first place. They jumped clear and inside the time today on cross country to maintain their impressive lead.

“I didn’t think much about the cross country course when I walked it,” said Brittain, “but riding was much different than what I expected. I was a lot more tough than I had originally anticipated, and was a harder ride than what I’m used to. My horse is young, but he hasn’t felt that green in a while, so I was a little unprepared for how he ended up acting to things like the ditch and a few of the combinations. I felt like I had to ride it a lot harder than I had initially expected to.”

Brittain also noted that show jumping is her hardest phase, so tomorrow will be the ultimate test for her. “Show jumping is definitely the phase that makes me the most nervous,” she said. “When I get nervous it hinders his performance, so I think that I just have to stay calm and keep him energetic while moving forward.”

Amanda Boyce, also of California, and her own 2006 Welsh Cob gelding Mercury (Machno Carwyn), sit in second place on a score of 32.3. Madison Boesch and her own Seamless, a 2009 Warmblood mare, moved into third on 33.3 with a clear round.

Novice Horse

Tamra Smith and MB MaiStein. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Tamra Smith sits in yet another top place position moving into Sunday’s show jumping phase in the Novice Horse division. This time she’s aboard MB MaiStein, the MB Group LLC’s 2013 Oldenburg gelding, on a score of 28.1.

“He’s ready to go Training and he’s looking to go to the Young Event Horse Championships,” said Smith of her young mount. “He’s such a bright talent for the future. He’s 80% Thoroughbred and is an unbelievable horse. His gallop is tremendous and he just has a great mind. He put a perfect test out and came out to cross country and jumped beautifully. It’s just so fun to produce them from three-year-olds. He used to be really nervous about ditches, so we came to the ditch and didn’t know what was going to happen. He just popped over it and that is so fulfilling to see him grow up and do his job perfectly. I’m just so proud of him.”

Colorado’s own Madeline Backus is sitting in second on her dressage score of 29.5 with Reflektion’s Rio, Lynn Roberts’ 2007 Swedish Warmblood gelding (Reggasoni x L.A. Baltic Reflektion). Whitney Tucker Billeter of California is also heading into tomorrow’s final phase on her dressage score of 31.0, holding third place, and the reins of Bill’s MidnightMagic, John Herich’s 2004 Hanoverian gelding (Espri x Rena Ramzi).

Novice Rider

Chris Kawcak and Maggie Belle. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

The Novice Rider division saw a new combination rise to the top of the leaderboard as Colorado’s Chris Kawcak and his own Maggie Belle, a 2003 Canadian Warmblood mare, took over the lead after cross country. They head into the final phase tomorrow on a score of 25.0.

“I grew up riding team roping horses and I just started riding her about three-years ago,” said Kawcak, whose wife Erin Contino is currently sitting atop the Novice Amateur division.

“Because Erin has been an eventer for years, we just started competing too. We’ve had some pretty good success over a period of time. The mare has been great. She’s really good at dressage, but she’d never done cross country until just a few years ago. She’s very ‘lookie’ but as long as it’s a confident ride, she’s great. She’s fun and she’ll never owe me anything.”

“We’ve competed here for the past few years and around the Midwest as well. I thought the course today was good. It was a little different because it had a lot of turns on it and a great set-up, but the mare went out and was awesome. I was really proud of her because there were a lot of things to look at.”

Kansas native Anna Howell piloted her own 2003 Thoroughbred-Shire gelding (Kaeson’s Tuxedo Affair x Exclusive Ballerina) to second in the standings, with a score of 25.2. Julie Kuhle of Iowa and her own Orion, a 2008 Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding (JS Ebony N Ivory x Lucinda), sit in third on a 26.0.

Beginner Novice Horse

Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer. Photo by
USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Alexa Ehlers of Kentucky and Clear Laveer, her own 2006 Hanoverian gelding (Rascalino x Hauptstutbuch Wincenta 2), cruised around clear out on cross country to lead on their dressage score of 27.4.

“It was fun!” said Ehlers. “It was good. He came out not 100% focused and understanding what his job was, but then as he went along he figured out the game and he became way more confident. That was the goal. I was pleased. By the end he was cantering up to everything, not even looking at them. He had a big peek at the ditch and the gully. I was really proud of him. It’s cool to have that kind of a relationship built up now. He tried really hard!”

Of the course, Ehlers said, “I thought the course was perfect for the level. Just challenging enough. It seemed like good questions for the level. It was really cool how they used the terrain to make it more challenging.”

Taylor Lindsten of Arizona and Chestnut Oak’s Drummer Boy, Claudia Channing’s 2007 Shire gelding (Clononeen Romantic Traveler x Steege’s Beth), remain on their score of 25.0 for second place, followed closely by Sophie Mueller of Colorado and 24Karat Magic, Dawn Holmes’ 2011 Australian Stock Horse gelding by Icewood’s Cadabra, on a score of 29.6.

Junior Beginner Novice

Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

When the dressage leader of the Junior Beginner Novice division ran into some trouble on cross country, Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin were ready to step into the lead with a double clear round. Miller and her own 2011 Thoroughbred gelding (Compromise x Leona’s Hope) sit on a score of 29.1 heading into show jumping.

Miller does not have a rail in hand tomorrow, which spells some pressure in the final phase: “Going into tomorrow my goal is just to trust him; he’s going to do great!”

“Both CHP and the AEC are amazing!” said Miller, who is from Texas. “My dressage test was okay. I didn’t think that it was the greatest, but, he’s just Melvin. He’s a good boy! I liked the cross country course. I thought it was pretty straight forward. It rode like it walked. There were some spots that he was green, but I just gave him a push and we got over it.”

Sitting on a 30.3 and in a tie for second are Californian Maya Pessin and This Bird, her own 2009 Thoroughbred gelding, and Texan Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix, her own 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Nabab de Reve x Untouchable).

Beginner Novice Rider

Tricia Leslie and Inate Dignity. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Beginner Novice Rider was one of five divisions that were not able to complete yesterday due to the weather, so the riders performed their dressage tests this morning before setting out on cross country this afternoon. Tricia Leslie of Colorado and her own Inate Dignity, a 2006 Thoroughbred gelding (Subordination x Indygo), held the lead following dressage on 23.3 and added nothing to their score on cross country.

As show jumping is their toughest phase, Leslie has a plan for success for tomorrow. “Our Achilles heel is the stadium phase!” she confided. “The plan is to just make sure that he’s really in front of my leg and to give him as much support as he needs. It’s kind of a fine line, so I hope we are able to find that for him so I’m not pushing too hard. He’s a good boy.”

“You never know [how your test is going to to],” said Leslie, “so when I came out I was like, ‘Gosh, that felt very good.’ It went better than I expected. Going into cross country, I didn’t want to get it over with, so I was totally ready to go. The course was pretty straightforward, so there weren’t any big surprises.”

Fifth-placed Liz Reilman and her own Diamondexpectation, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding (Valid Expectations x Appeasement), moved up to second place on their dressage score of 29.8 following cross country. Sixth-placed Sarah Sousa and Black Tye Affair, her own 2002 Thoroughbred gelding (Haymarket x Gone Lady), also jumped up the leaderboard into third-place on 31.5 after putting in a double clear round.

Beginner Novice Amateur

Cami Pease and Vibrant. Photo by USEA/Jessica Duffy.

Washington D.C.’s Cami Pease and her own Vibrant, a 2000 Belgian Warmblood gelding, dominated the Beginner Novice Amateur division today and lead on a score of 24.5. They have a rail in hand heading into show jumping tomorrow. 

“Cross country was really good,” said Pease, “really fun, big, open, nicely set up and well designed. Gorgeous scenery. He was bold, confident, and positive. That’s what I wanted.”

Looking to the final phase of competition, Pease just hopes to successfully maneuver the track. “Show jumping is actually my favorite phase,” she said. “That’s where I’m most comfortable and cross country is where I’m most nervous. I’m the opposite of most eventers. Now I feel like the hard part is over. Tomorrow I’ll go in the ring and just go around. Sit up and put your leg on, that’s all you have to do.”

Kelly Green of Texas piloted her own Woodstock Classic Rock, a 2009 Thoroughbred gelding (Rock Slide x Sally Q), to second place on a score of 28.5, while California resident Nikki Lloyd and Wil’ya Dance, a 2012 Hanoverian gelding (Wild Dance x Paloma Paz), sit third on a 29.3.

More to come tomorrow!

[2018 USEA American Eventing Championships Presented by Nutrena® Feeds Crown First Divisional Winners at The Colorado Horse Park]

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