Eleven 4-year-olds and seven 5-year-olds competed in the 2016 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) West Coast Championship at Woodside International in Woodside, Calif. yesterday. In YEH classes, horses are required to perform a dressage test, and then immediately be stripped of their tack to be judged in conformation. Then, the horses perform a jumping and galloping test, and they end on a cumulative score.
The goal of the program is to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition that, with proper training, can excel in the upper levels of eventing. The 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds each perform their own dressage tests, and the jumping standards are different for each age group as well. For the 4-year-old Championship, thirty percent of the jumps must be at the maximum height of 3'3" to mirror the specifications for the Training level, and the 5-year-old Championship must have about thirty percent of the jumps at the maximum height of 3'7" to mirror the specifications for the Preliminary level.
Erin Kellerhouse rode her own Woodford Reserve to the top of the 2016 USEA YEH West Coast 5-Year-Old leaderboard. The Irish Sport horse gelding had the best dressage score and a very competitive conformation score, giving them the lead heading into the jumping and galloping test. After completing a very bold and accurate jumping round, Woodford Reserve secured the Champion title after receiving the best jumping/galloping score of all the horses in the class. The 5-year-old gelding by Tinarana’s Inspector and out of Laharn’s Laughton (bred by Frank Hickey) finished the day on a score of 83.94%.
Woodford Reserve. Carol Mingst photo.
Kellerhouse imported the gelding exactly a year ago, yesterday on her birthday. She found him in Ireland at Anne O’Grady’s yard and fell in love with him at first sight.
“He was so great today,” Kellerhouse smiled. “I was in Sonoma with my sisters and my mom for my birthday before this, so I just got to show up and ride him, and he was so good, especially for a 5-year-old. I think this [YEH] is a great program, and it’s nice for the horses to get out and gallop and do a mixture of jumps in a new atmosphere. It’s a great experience, and it’s really nice to come here and win it.”
Jolie Wentworth rode Tracy Bowman’s Hanoverian gelding, KF Peroni (Furest Gottard x Pablo) took the Reserve Champion title in the five-year-old division, earning a very competitive score of 81.75. For all the five-year-old scores, click here.
The USEA and Woodside welcomed back the YEH judging panelists Ian Stark, Bea di Grazia, and Cathy Tucker-Slaterbeck, who were all thrilled with today’s Championship. Ian Stark, who also designed the YEH jumping course, said that he was quite pleased with how his course rode, and that he saw quite a few lovely horses.
“The riders started off riding defensively, as they began a bit desperate to ride correctly, but by the end they were riding forward, which was pleasing to see, and we were able to see some great potential in these horses,” stated Stark. “It’s interesting to judge the YEH Championship because you have to work out whether the horses are ‘green’ or not, or if they’re too willing, or too bold. You have all the varieties, and you have to assess what’s going on behind the scenes, and try not to be too judgmental. But we saw quite a few lovely horses today, and the horse that won [the 5-year-old division] was very nice. He was a bit quick at times on the flat and on the jumping, but he had a great attitude and it shows a lot of potential and I think he’ll become lighter on his feet as he develops. The four-year-old winner was also quite nice.”
Swingtown. Photo by Carol Mingst.
Kelsey Horn’s own horse Swingtown claimed the 4-Year-Old West Coast Championship Title. Swingtown is also owned in partnership with Caroline Ajootean and Gayle Atkins, who also bred the horse. The Oldenburg mare by Sagnol and out of Dynamica led throughout all three phases of competition, and ended on an impressive score of 83.15%. Swingtown held more than a 7-point lead over second place horse Newmarket Joy, ridden by Josh Barnacle and owned by Lee Webster Ramensky, who finished on a 76.11.
To view all the results from the four-year-old west coast Championship, click here.
“Today was fun!” exclaimed judge Bea di Grazia. “In general, I thought the horses showed refinement and athletic ability, and we saw a lot of very impressive gallop ability in both the four- and five-year-olds. The quality is improving all the time.”
Cathy Tucker-Slaterbeck, who judged the conformation said that she is excited for next week’s East Coast YEH Championship. “The quality of the horses on the west coast has drastically improved over the last few years since I’ve been coming,” said Tucker-Slaterbeck. “We’re seeing lovely types now, and I gave much higher scores today [in conformation] than I have in the past. It’s exciting to see the quality coming up on the west coast, and it should put the pressure on the east coast.”
The East Coast USEA YEH Championships take place next week at Fair Hill in Elkton, Md., where the same three judges will travel to determine if any young horses can top Woodford Reserve’s impressive scores. The overall champion will become the top contender for the 2018 Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Grant, which would secure funds to help them compete at the FEI World Breeding Championships as a 7-year-old.
The USEA would like to thank all of the generous YEH Sponsors, who make the Series and the Championships possible: Fleeceworks, Priefert, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, SmartPak, and Professional’s Choice. The USEA would also like to thank Tim Holekamp and Christine Turner for their donations and support for the Holekamp/Turner YEH Lion d’Angers Grant.