The students became the teachers this weekend as young riders, Jacob Fletcher and Caroline Martin, stole the top two positions of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final. Fletcher added only four cross-country time penalties to his final score all weekend to take home the $20,000, a trailerful of prizes and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion. Martin had the distinct honor of becoming the only Gold Cup competitor to finish on her dressage score and took home $7,000 in addition to fabulous prizes.
Jacob Fletcher sealed the deal on his picture perfect weekend by jumping a fault free show jumping round around a technical Marc Donovan course. Fletcher reflects, “I thought it was a tricky enough course that required a lot of technical thinking.” Fletcher made a point to attend this year’s AEC in hopes for an Area V rider to bring home the blue. “Laine’s won it, Buck’s won it, Caroline was nearly going to win it today. Somebody from Area V had to win it before the AEC left Texas. I’m glad I could get it done.” Buck Davidson rounded out the top three aboard Sharon White and Richard Weber's Wundermaske.
Heather Morris led the Merial Intermediate division from start to finish aboard the Team Express Group LLC’s 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Charlie Tango. “I was really nervous because a lot of different riders were having rails down in the ring and the horse in front of me went clean so that really put the pressure on. Our partnership is great and he never wants to touch the rails so I’m really happy with him,” Morris explains.
Tamra Smith jumped a double clean round on Judith McSwain’s 6-year-old Holsteiner, Fleeceworks Royal to secure the top spot in the USEA Preliminary Horse division. Smith describes, “I’m thrilled with her, she can be a bit casual in show jumping but she was very rideable and felt comfortable in the ring today. I’m super proud of her!”
Arden Stephens and her own Oldenburg gelding, No More Rocks took home the championship title in the Junior Young Rider Open Preliminary division. Stephens didn’t add a single penalty to her dressage score the entire weekend. “I was really nervous heading into the ring today because I was in the lead, and I had already done the Training level course on my other horse and the course had changed quite a bit. Rocky was right on it and I had so much fun,” Stephens exclaimed. Stephens is hoping to qualify for Young Riders with No More Rocks and this result will definitely put her one step closer to that goal.
Tristen Hooks and her own 15-year-old Holsteiner, Learning to Fly led the USEA Preliminary Amateur from start to finish. “He has such a heart and wants so badly to do right by me and have that victory gallop,” Hooks explains. “When I crossed the finish line in the ring I started crying, it’s just unbelievable. It really is a credit to how good my horse is and the team that we’ve become.” Tristen recalled a special moment when heading out to cross-country yesterday that she says will always stick with her. “When I was warming-up for cross-country I was walking along the hillside and this bright yellow butterfly flew along with me for 15 minutes and I thought this must be a good omen! It felt like it was my guardian angel in Texas.”
Ashley Hays jumped a double clear show jumping round to win the Professional’s Choice Training Amateur division aboard her own Call It Courage, a 7-year-old Holsteiner. Hays comments, “It’s been a long road. I’ve only had Call It Courage for a year and he’s worked so hard and done everything I’ve asked him to do. This competition wasn’t for me, it was for him. I just wanted to do my job so he could take home that ribbon because he really deserved it.” Hays didn’t even know where to start when she was asked to discuss her favorite moments of the weekend. “There are so many moments that I remember. My mom screaming when I scored a 23 after dressage, my coach’s face, Julie Norman after I won, my dad crying after my show-jumping round, a lot of moments are really special to me.”
Arden Stephens took home her second win of weekend aboard the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Ultra T in the Professional’s Choice Junior Training division when she jumped one of only a few clear rounds to move up from second to first place. “Ultra T was fantastic! All I have to do is sit up there and point him to the jumps and he does his job.” Stephens has only had Ultra T for three weeks so it’s safe to say that the pair is definitely looking to have a bright future together. “We’re just getting our partnership started but he really took care of me this weekend. I’m not always going to do everything perfect and he really made up for my mistakes.”
Full results can be found here.
About the AEC
The Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, Presented by VTO Saddlery is the annual American championship for every level of the Olympic equestrian sport of Eventing, from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This year the AEC is being held from September 24-27 at the Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas.
The USEA would like to thank all the generous sponsors of the 2015 AEC including:
Nutrena, VTO Saddlery, Adequan, Merial, Professional’s Choice, Broadstone,Devoucoux, Priefert, Standlee Hay, Charles Owen, Merck Animal Health, Pyranha Fly and Insect Control, Practical Horseman, DG Stackhouse, Animals to Wear, Fleeceworks, The Chronicle of the Horse, FLAIR, SmartPak, CWD, Brody Robertson Show Jumps, Point Two Air Jackets, Equine Art by Julie, Ovation, Eventing Training Online, Auburn Laboratories, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Back on Track, FITS,The Jockey Club, GumBits, NTEA, Schneiders Tack, Greenwood Farm, Pro View Global Digital Surveillance, The Scoring Chix, C4 Belts, Horse Hydrator, Kastel Denmark, SportsBrainUSA, Nature’s Select, EasyCare Inc, Likit, Noble Outfittersand more!