Qualifying for the American Eventing Championships is an achievement for anyone, but it’s particularly special when an entire family can do it together. For the Beshear family, three generations and four members of their family pulled off this feat and will be competing next weekend at the 2016 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC) at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).
Former First Lady of Kentucky Jane Beshear, of Lexington, Ky. will be competing in the Master Novice Amateur Novice Mountain Light; her son Jeff, a large animal veterinarian from Somerset, VA, is riding Say Cheese in Broadstone Beginner Novice Master Amateur; Jeff’s wife Emily, a professional event rider, is riding Shame on the Moon in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced and Silver Night Lady in the Merial Intermediate, and Jeff and Emily’s son Nicholas, 13, will be competing Badlands Echo in the Junior Novice.
It’s not the first time that three generations of Beshears will be competing at the same event: Jane, Jeff and Nicholas formed a winning team last year for the Midsouth Team Challenge at the Kentucky Horse Park. At the AEC, Emily’s participation will make the family experience complete.
The Beshears winning the Beginner Novice Midsouth Team Challenge. From left, Jeff, Former Kentucky Governor Steve, Nicholas and Jane Beshear. Photo courtesy of Jane Beshear.
“It’s phenomenal, amazing, I can’t event find the right adjective to describe it,” said Jane, who started eventing when her son Jeff was a senior in high school. She also fox hunts and does dressage with her Irish Sport Horse. “Now that my kids are grown and my husband’s out of politics, I have time to indulge my passion,” she said. “Every time I ride my horse I have a smile on my face.”
“I think it’s a lot of fun,” said Jeff, who began eventing when he met wife Emily after he’d finished vet school. “Obviously we’re used to being at events together but usually we’re supporting Emily. I’m sure it’ll be busy, but it’ll be neat to have us all there riding together.”
Jeff doesn’t plan to work at the event, but says that he frequently has clients at events, and if they need anything he’ll help them out. He has competed through intermediate and did a few preliminary competitions a few years ago, including the AEC in Southern Pines, N.C. These days, with his work schedule, he has more time for beginner novice and novice horses. “For me it’s fun; it’s not exactly a career, but make time for it and try not to do anything stupid and get myself hurt!”
Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon at Great Meadow International. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
As the pro of the family, the first thing that Emily did to prepare for AEC was hire a good groom to help her out. “Claire Kelly starting working for me a couple of weeks ago and it’s made my life much easier,” she said. “Number one in my planning was to get her help.”
To have the youngest generation involved is a thrill for the whole family.
“We’ve never forced Nicholas to ride, but we’ve always provided him with a pony, and if he wanted to go to competitions we made sure he was ready,” said Jeff. “This past year he’s gotten really interested and has done a couple trainings and is looking at the training 3-day at Waredaca. It’s nice that he’s self motivated; we’re there cheerleading but he’s really the driving force. With our lives embedded in the sport, he’s always come along with us, and while we never pushed him to do chores at events, of course now he’s responsible for his own horse. Phillip Dutton talked to him the other day after winning the Olympic bronze, so he feels like a real big shot!”
Nicholas Beshear competing at Waredaca last weekend. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Emily said, “The nice thing is that Nicholas has always been a part of everything happening at events. From a coaching standpoint it’s easy because he already knows all the rules! He’s really taking to it; he did his first recognized event last July, on a pony, and now he has a very cool, very experienced, 21-year-old former Young Rider’s horse, and he’s going gangbusters. The mare has given him a lot of confidence.”
The Tryon International Equestrian Center boasts numerous outdoor competition rings, the George Morris Grand Prix Stadium, a Derby Field, and a newly completed cross country course designed by Capt. Mark Phillips and built by ETB Equine Construction. Emily’s is taking her horses to Tryon for a jumper show this weekend, to get them used to the rings at TIEC. “I hear it’s a lot of atmosphere, and even though it’s a lot of extra driving to go down there this week and next week, my horses can be a bit spooky so it could make a big difference for them,” she said.
The Beshear family feel quite at home when they spend time together at events. Photo courtesy of Jane Beshear.
Jane is competing at Richland Park this weekend, and will stop over in Kentucky for a clean change of riding clothes before she travels to Tryon next week. “Like most people, we’re very passionate about the sport,” she said, “but never did I dream that all four of us would have the opportunity to compete together at the AECs.”
About the AEC
The Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, this event draws together the best competitors from across the country vying for national titles from the Beginner Novice through the Advanced level. This year's AEC is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C. August 31-September 4, 2016.
The 2016 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Nutrena, Land Rover, Adequan, Merial, Broadstone Equine Insurance Company, Professional's Choice, Devoucoux,Merck Animal Health, Standlee Hay, Charles Owen, Fleeceworks, CWD, The Chronicle of the Horse, Noble Outfitters, Auburn Laboratories Inc., Smartpak, Stackhouse Saddles, Point Two, VTO Saddlery, FLAIR, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equine Art by Julie, Ride Safe, The Jockey Club, Ovation, Eventing Training Online, Kastel Denmark, Happy Saddle Treats, I Love My Horse, GumBits, Horse Hydrator, Phoenix Bodyworks, C4 Belts, The Scoring Chix, and more.
*Many of these sponsors will also be in attendance at the AEC with vendor spaces in the USEA Sponsor Village, located directly next to the George Morris arena at Tryon. Get ready to shop!