As the countdown to the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event ticks on, 10 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) graduates are gearing up to compete in one of the most prestigious events in the world. The YEH program is designed to identify the up-and-coming superstars of the sport. The series offers classes for 4- and 5-year-olds where judges evaluate their suitability for the highest levels of eventing, and now years later we have a successful pool of gradutes who have made it. Meet the alumni:
The 2012 USEA YEH East Coast Champion Cooley Cross Border is among the most successful YEH graduates. Finishing his first 5-year-old division on a standout score of 85.42 (out of 100), the now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse went on to win the YEH East Coast Championship later that year on a score of 78.99 with Kim Severson in the tack.
Owned by The Cross Syndicate, “Cross” is by the Irish Draught Sport Horse Diamond Roller, who comes from the Cor De La Breyere stallion line, and he’s out of the mare Whos Diaz. Cross was bred by Johnny Duffy in Ireland before being imported to the United States in 2011.
Cooley Cross Border, the 2012 Young Event Horse East Coast 5-year-old Champion takes a victory gallop. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Ridden by Severson, Cross has seen many successes in the nearly five years since being crowned YEH Champion. The pair moved steadily up the levels together before Cross won his first international event at the CCI* level in 2013. First place finishes continued to mark the young horse’s competitive record including his first Advanced completion at Richland Park in 2015 where he again took home a blue ribbon. He heads to Rolex after two top ten CCI3* finishes (third at the 2015 Fair Hill International and seventh in 2016), and a win in the Advanced at Carolina International last month.
He is joined by fellow 2012 YEH graduate Pfun. Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables’ Irish Sport Horse only participated in one 5-year-old class, where he earned a score of 75.21 with then-rider Robert Costello.
“Teddy” was bred in Ireland by Tracy Priest. He is by the Dutch Warmblood Tadmus and out of the Holsteiner mare Celerina. Like his classmate Cross, Teddy also made his debut to international competition in 2013. He’s since managed 18 FEI completions through the CCI3* level.
Four graduates from the 2011 class are headed to Lexington next week: Four-star veterans Covert Rights, Indy 500 and Never Outfoxed, and first timer Truly Wiley.
Covert Rights on his way to finishing 11th at his first four-star in 2015. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Colleen Rutledge’s Covert Rights had top ten finishes as both a 4-year-old in 2010 and a 5-year-old in 2011 at the YEH East Coast Championships. Born and bred in the U.S, “CR” is a Thoroughbred Cross bred by Rutledge. He’s by Thoroughbred BFF Incognito and out of another Thoroughbred Let’s Get It Right.
Rutledge and CR have completed two CCI4* events together, finishing 11th at Rolex Kentucky and 22nd at Burghley Horse Trials in 2015.
Andrea Baxter’s Indy 500 was originally destined for a career on the track. A granddaughter of AP Indy, the Jockey Club Registered ‘My Gifted Inyanna’, is by Cromwell and out of Tensofthousands. She was bed by Clyde Hunsaker.
Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 at the 2009 USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. Photo by Josh Walker.
“Indy” won her first 4-year-old class at Cottonwood Ranch in 2009. In 2010, the mare’s true 5-year-old year, Baxter decided to breed Indy to the Holsteiner Linaro, and thanks to the “maternity year” rule, she could compete in the 5-year-old classes in 2011. Indy’s foal, Laguna Seca (Linaro x Indy 500), also competed in the YEH program and is now a 7-year-old competing at the Preliminary Level.
The Fox Syndicate’s Never Outfoxed participated in the YEH program as a 4-year-old with Mary Kate Mallory as his rider. Holly Payne Caravella took over the ride in 2011, and since then the two have had 13 international completions through the CCI4* level.
Bred by the eventing legend Bruce Davidson, Truly Wiley is aimed to tackle his first four-star at Kentucky with Kelly Prather. “Wiley” is a 10-year-old Thoroughbred by Salute the Truth and out of Tears of Loss. Along with Never Outfoxed, Wiley also only competed in 4-year-old classes.
The High Times Syndicate’s High Times and Katie Ruppel’s Houdini will head up the 2009 class in Kentucky. Houdini competed as both a 4- and 5-year-old with Ruppel. Now 13, Houdini is an off-the-track Thoroughbred with five starts. He’s by Hot Rock and out of Nancy’s Star. He’s experienced at this level now with three CCI4* completions, two at Kentucky and one at Pau in France.
High Times and Jennifer McFall at the 2009 USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. Photo by Josh Walker.
High Times is an American-bred Holsteiner by Hunter and out of Gerda I. His grandsire, Heraldik, can also be found in the lineage of double Olympic champion La Biosthetique Sam. He participated in the Young Event Horse Program as a 5-year-old, never earning scores lower than 80 including his third-place finish at the 2009 YEH West Coast Championship.
Owned by the High Times Syndicate, “Billy” made his four-star debut at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2014 where he and Jennifer McFall finished 36th. He’s also had extensive experience at the three-star and Advanced level.
Who's A Star and Courtney Cooper at the 2008 USEA Young Event Horse Championship. USEA Photo.
The sole entry from the 2008 class is Courtney Cooper and Neal Camens’ Who’s A Star. “Tag,” a 14-year-old Irish/New Zealand Thoroughbred out of Cooper’s previous event horse, Heavenly Star, and by Aberjack, who is known for competing through the Advanced level with Mark Todd.
He competed in the YEH program as a 4-year-old in 2007 and as a 5-year-old in 2008, where he finished fourth in the Championship held during the AEC at Lamplight. Tag and Cooper successfully started and completed their first CCI4* last April in Kentucky.
The final graduate participated in YEH when the fledgling program was only in its second year. Kristin Schmolze and Janet Geiler’s Ballylaffin Bracken competed as a 5-year-old in 2005 after being imported to the U.S. from Ireland the previous year. At the second-annual USEA YEH Championships, “Rox” finished 6th on a score of 77.6.
Ballylaffin Bracken as a 5-year-old preparing for the 2005 Young Event Horse Championships at Millbrook Horse Trials with Kristin Schmolze. Photo by Sporthorsestudio.com.
Foaled in 2000, Rox is an Irish Sport Horse by the one of the world’s leading show jumping sires, Ricardo Z, and out of the Irish mare Ballylaffin Florence. He was bred by Catherine Long.
Schmolze has piloted Rox through over a decade of international competition. They contested their first four-star as a pair at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2013, and have two other completions there since. The pair were also named U.S. alternates for the 2011 Pan American Games.
About the USEA Young Event Horse Program
The USEA Young Event Horse Series (YEH) is best described as an eventing talent search. The goal is to identify young horses that possesses the talent and disposition that, with proper training, can excel in the uppermost levels of eventing. The Series gives owners and breeders the opportunity to showcase the potential of their 4- and 5-year-old horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top-level event horses for the future. Classes focus on education and preparation of the event horse in a correct and progressive manner as young horses are judged on conformation, dressage and jumping/galloping. To learn more about the YEH Program, click here.