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Tue, 2015-08-18 08:42

How the USEA Young Event Horse Program Helped Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken Reach Four-Star Success

Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA. 

Kristin Schmolze made her mark on the Eventing scene in 2003 when she was named the U.S. Eventing Association’s Young Rider of the Year. That year she was the top-placing Young Rider at two CCI3* Events and went on to bring home the individual silver and team gold medals at the North American Young Rider Championships. Two years later, Kristin made a lasting impression when she finished in 7th place nationally and 12th place internationally at her first four-star at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Since then, Kristin has gone on to achieve impressive results in the USEA Young Event Horse competitions as well as through the highest levels of Eventing.

When Kristin was on one of her annual trips to Ireland looking for young horses at Paul Donovan’s yard, she wasn’t even supposed to see her current four-star mount, Ballylaffin Bracken (Ricardo Z x Ballylaffin Florence), otherwise known as “Rox.” Kristin explains, “I had gotten to the farm a bit early and the owner was actually riding him at the time. He was a 4-year-old stallion, which wasn’t what I was looking for but when I got on him I absolutely fell in love.” Kedrah House Stud and Tom Meagher helped Kristin in the process of collecting and freezing straws from Rox before he was imported and then gelded so she could continue breeding him for her young stock.  Once he arrived in the United States he immediately began his Eventing career.

Rox began competing in the Young Event Horse divisions as a 5-year-old in 2005. He easily qualified for the championships where he ultimately finished in 6th place in the championship division that year. Kristin continues, “The program was a really great introduction for Rox, especially since he got a bit of a late start. All the competitions were friendly and I think he progressed well because of the program. It was a slow introduction and he never felt over-faced. I only wish I had him a year earlier to do the 4-year-old division!”

The goal of every Young Event Horse competition is to prepare the horses for the step-up to competing in bigger, more competitive divisions with tougher questions. Kristin says, “The courses are all very well-rounded and inviting for the horses just learning about the sport and what is expected of them. It really hits all the areas that we should be training and gives riders a good set of guidelines of where our horses should be in their training. The shows provide a wonderful atmosphere to be able to compete in and we can ask our horses different questions in a competitive yet low-key environment. All of this I believe aided in the process of getting Rox to the 4* level.”

For an amateur rider looking to take their talented youngster to their first young event horse competition, Kristin puts a lot of value of heading over to an event hosting these divisions as a spectator.

“Just hearing about what will be expected of you and your horse at the show isn’t enough before entering your first one. Seeing the competition first hand is very educational! You want to know exactly what to expect so that you can give your horse as much confidence as possible.”

Kristin continues, “It’s really important before taking your horse to one of these shows that you’ve done all your homework and have exposed your horse to all sorts of things! Make sure they’re comfortable with water, ditches and banks so that when you’re there competing you can get everything you possibly can out of that experience. The goal is for both you and your horse to be beaming with confidence when you come off the course with plenty of feedback from the judges to keep on improving!”

To learn more about Kristin and her program, please visit her website at


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