The small Northern town of Dexter, Michigan is home to the Cobblestone Farms Horse Trials, the host of Area VIII’s Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. Nicole Maynard and Kiersten Miller took top honors for their safe, appropriate cross-country rounds at Cobblestone Farms Horse Trials on August 3 – 5, 2018.
Maynard, aboard Cathy Wieschhoff’s off-the-track-Thoroughbred Title Contender, took more than just one blue ribbon home with them. Winners of the Open Training B division and winners of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award, Maynard is grateful for her coach, Cathy Wieschhoff. “I really do owe a lot of this to Cathy [Wieschhoff], from everything she’s taught me, the opportunities she’s given me, and for trusting me to compete her horse.”
A hometown horseshow, Maynard grew up riding around Cobblestone Farms before making the move to Kentucky. “I actually grew up riding around Michigan and showed and schooled at Cobblestone Farms more times than I can count, so it was really cool to win that award and win the division so close to where I grew up. None of my family members ride and I actually got into riding by chance, my mom got me a riding lesson for my birthday and it just took off from there.”
Hooked from her first riding lesson, Maynard moved to Lexington, Kentucky to go to University of Kentucky and ride with Wieschhoff. “After training with Cathy [Wieschhoff] for a while she asked me to start working for her, I’ve been grooming for her for over a year now and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Cathy owns Title Contender, we call him Sheldon in the barn because the marking on his face resembles a seahorse and the seahorse in Finding Nemo is called Sheldon. Cathy gave me the ride on him in April and I moved him up to Training at May Daze. He’s a really cool horse [and] a cross-country machine. He’s brave and has such a great gallop which I think is a big reason we got this award.”
“I’m fortunate to have a coach that does a fantastic job stressing the fundamentals in riding and receiving this award has shown that hard work and practicing building a strong foundation truly puts forth a great ride so I believe the most beneficial part about this experience is showing that hard work pays off.” Hard work, safe riding, and an educated coach were factors that contributed to Maynard and Title Contender’s double wins at Cobblestone Farms.
Kiersten Miller and Pierre. Lumineer Photography Photo.
“After completing my first event at age 11 I fell in love with the sport and completely became addicted,” Kiersten Miller, the junior recipient of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award, described how she got into eventing. “One lesson a week became two lessons and then that became three. Soon after that I got my first pony when I was 10 years old, a little, speckled backyard pony named Gina who I learned to event on. She was safe and forgiving which helped me grow my base in eventing. After three years of riding Gina, it was decided that I needed more of a teacher who had “been there done that” and that’s where Pierre came in. I was 14 when I got Pierre and I got him in hopes of being taught the ropes of the upper levels."
The 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding and Miller formed their relationship in 2016 when Miller was 14 years old and Pierre was already a confirmed two-star horse. Miller describes their partnership as one that took time and patience. “Our partnership by no means started out perfect, in fact, it started out quite rocky. By that I mean I could barely trot him down the long-side without him tensing up or shutting down in the beginning. I still had a lot to learn and he was definitely a hard horse to click with given how sensitive and particular he was. Building a strong partnership proved to be very difficult in the first year because every time we were headed in the right direction, a setback would occur.” After their string of setbacks, Miller and Pierre started to click this past spring season. “I could finally feel that we were working together as a team and it was such a rewarding feeling. Since then, we’ve had numerous runs at the Training level and are hoping to move up to Preliminary soon.”
On the right track for Preliminary, Miller and Pierre brought home two blue ribbons from Cobblestone Farms H.T., as they were winners of the Training Rider division and winners of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. Miller is thankful for the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. “I think the most beneficial thing about winning this award would not only be the vest that was given as a prize but also just knowing that I’m heading in the right direction with the way I ride on cross-country. It’s surreal as well as flattering to have won the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award,” emphasized Miller.
Jordan Riske and Amazingly Lucky. Lumineer Photography Photo.
“He is one of the sweetest horses you will ever meet,” Jordan Riske, the runner up by one fifth of a point in the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award beamed over Amazingly Lucky, a Percheron Thoroughbred cross. “We’ve owned Amazingly Lucky since he was five months old and he is currently 10 years old. My mom was the one who first showed him and got him experience at shows. Three years ago I started riding and showing him. We have loads of fun together and have gone from Novice up to the Preliminary level. One of my favorite things about him now is our extended trot, I could do it for days and not get sick of it.”
Riske credits her mom, Amy Riske, as the main influencer who got her hooked on eventing. “I got into eventing because of my mom, she rode when she was younger and has been eventing since she was 13."
Congratulations to all three competitors, Nicole Maynard, Kiersten Miller, and Jordan Riske on their talented cross-country riding!
About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award
In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council in partnership with Charles Owen founded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to reward juniors and adult amateurs for demonstrating safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding.
The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented at one event in each USEA Area each year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross-country round on the five criteria listed below and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. Level III and IV ICP instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders are all qualified to judge the Award. Click here to learn more about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award.
The USEA would like to thank Charles Owen for sponsoring the Technical Merit Award.