The USEA Area Championships are held every year in each of the 10 USEA Areas where the best horses and riders have the opportunity to be crowned the Area Champion at their level. Each Area maintains slightly different qualification requirements for their respective Championships, and that information can be found here.
The Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland hosted the Area II Championships at their event on October 9-11, 2020. To qualify for the Area II Championships, riders needed to secure first through fifth place at one event from October 4, 2019 to September 22, 2020. There were nine different championship divisions from Beginner Novice to Intermediate, including Modified.
In the Area II Junior Beginner Novice Championship, Claire Wheeler and Mary Alice Brown (Hilltop Bugatti x Velvet Brown), Judy McGaughan’s 7-year-old Oldenburg mare, took home the championship title on an impressive score of 19.8, the lowest winning score of the weekend.
“We are really proud of Mary Alice Brown as this only her sixth USEA [recognized] event ever!” Wheeler said. “We are so grateful to Judy McGaughan for leasing us this wonderful mare. The day was fun and so exciting when it started out with such an amazing dressage score. We are thankful the rain held off until show jumping, making cross-country the most fun of the day. She was forward and ready to go! We are also very grateful to Carolyn Mackintosh and the entire Loch Moy Farm team for putting on such a wonderful event!”
Eleven-year-old Leeci Rowsell and Dot Com, Cadence Clucas’ 25-year-old Welsh gelding, scored a 23.8, giving them second place in the Junior Beginner Novice Championship. Third place went to Madison Springle and Andante (Cezanne x Society Lynn), a 20-year-old Chincoteague Pony gelding, on a score of 27.3.
Beth Zielinski and BSF Ducati 696 (Desperados x Kallisto), her 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, won the Area II Open Beginner Novice Championship on their dressage score of 28.0. BSF Ducati is bred by Thora Pollack of Beall Spring Farm, who is also the breeder of the Area II Preliminary Champion Frame Shamrock and the Area II Open Training Champion Olympus, both piloted by Zielinski’s trainer Martin Douzant. Olympus is also Ducati’s half-brother on the dam side.
Zielinski bought Ducati two years ago as a 4-year-old. “We showed a bit last year, but this year our partnership finally solidified and we've clicked in the past couple of months and I felt really good coming into this show,” she said. “Ducati has a big personality and started the morning off showing that off. He was galloping around his field and wouldn't let me catch him, was pawing the entire time I was braiding him, and wouldn't load in the trailer. When I was warming up for dressage, he was being fussy at first and it was all making me nervous. But then he stepped into the ring and was 100 percent business and I knew he was on.”
“As I was walking the cross-country course with Martin, the dressage scores came in and I found out I was in the lead – but only by 0.5,” Zielinski continued. “I knew there was no room for error, so it turned up the pressure. We had a great cross-country school at Morven Park earlier in the week, so I was feeling confident about the track. We found a great gallop and Ducati jumped everything forward and out of stride like he was just cantering over cavalettis. It felt amazing and was so much fun I forgot I was competing! The three-hour wait leading up to show jumping was nerve-wracking. Show jumping is consistently the phase we struggle the most with and I knew I had to be perfect. He warmed up great and when we stepped into the ring I could feel his confidence and knew we had it. As I walked out of the show jumping ring, Martin handed me the phone. Thora was on the line in tears, ecstatic with our win. I'm so happy I have a relationship with Ducati's breeder and she can celebrate in the long term victories of all the hours and energy she spent to breed the best horses possible. There are some phenomenal U.S.-based breeding programs and we need to tip our hats to the work they are doing to put quality horses on the ground.”
It was Douzant who encouraged Zielinski to look at youngsters at Beall Spring Farm when she lost her heart horse, Lucy, to a lightning strike. “It wasn't easy for me to find my groove with Ducati. We've had a lot of ups and downs building our partnership, but Martin has been fundamental in keeping me focused and problem solving to find the magic formula that keeps Ducati relaxed and happy,” Zielinkski said. “Ducati and I finally trust each other and that's the element that let us excel this weekend.”
“We are spoiled to have so many quality horse trials in the area, and Loch Moy is no exception,” Zielinski concluded. “Carolyn Mackintosh and her volunteer troops are a force to be reckoned with, and everything about the event was spot on. It’s important to remember that our sport couldn't continue without volunteers, and I spent the day before championships volunteering as a jump judge for the horse trials.”
Jaclyn Burke and Chance of Liftoff (Haynesfield x Honey Wondegirl), her 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, finished just 0.5 behind Zielinski and Ducati on a score of 28.5. Tara Astacio and Money to Burn (Wedderlie Mardi Gras x Nootka), her 10-year-old Sport Pony gelding, were another 0.5 behind Burke and Chance of Liftoff on a 29.0.
Francesca Broggini and her own 8-year-old Hanoverian mare Esuberanza won the Area II Open Novice Championship on their dressage score of 26.9. “Hayati” is a homebred of Broggini’s and she said it was a pleasure to win the Novice Championship with her. “She has such an incredible work ethic and even though she was pretty exhausted after cross-country (she LOVES the running and jumping) she tried her little heart out for me in show jumping!” Broggini said. “I'm in my third year of law school and sometimes competing on top of all the studying and pressure of school can feel like a lot, but she was so well behaved (somewhat unusual!) and made the whole day a real pleasure. It was great to be at the competition with both my mom and our farm manager Stephen, who takes impeccable care of our horses, and the organizers did a fantastic job managing so many different divisions. I even got some studying in between rides!”
Runner up to Broggini and Hayati was Diane Zrimsek and her own Coronado Charlie (Bwana Charlie x Pleasure Hunt), an 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, on a score of 27.4. Kendyl Tracy and Obora’s Goldwing (Gemini x Obora’s Samantha), Alexandra Tatham's 5-year-old Estonian Sport Horse gelding, scored a 29.5 for third place.
Linden Wiesman and her own Clifton’s Patriot (Wendegott x Nadia VT), a 5-year-old Hanoverian gelding, claimed the Area II Novice Horse Championship on a final score of 31.6. “My young Novice horse had a positive educational day on Sunday,” Wiseman said. “The team at Loch Moy Farm put on a great event that was so much fun. They always do an exceptional job, but they have gone above and beyond during this unusual time of COVID-19. The cross-country courses were championship level and made the weekend feel special. Thank you so much to them and all the volunteers for making it happen and bringing a sense of normalcy to this crazy year. My favorite part of the weekend was having the opportunity to compete!”
Second place in the Novice Horse Championship was awarded to Sarah Crocker and Call Sign Charlie (WH Topgun x Liberty River), a 6-year-old Connemara mare, with a score of 32.6. April Shepherd and Rocketman, a Hanoverian gelding by Rosenthall, finished in third place on a final score of 33.3.
The Area II Junior Novice Championship title went to Olivia Devening and Maximus (Mmm White Chocolate x Blaze), a 7-year-old Welsh gelding, on a score of 20.7. "This past weekend at Maryland has definitely been one of the highlights in my eventing career," Devening said. "My pony, Max, tried his heart out for me and proved that all our hard work has been paying off. I’ve been riding him for a little bit less than a year now, and over the past few weeks it definitely feels like our relationship has gotten stronger and stronger. That was especially clear at Maryland. He is truly a pleasure to ride, especially on cross-country; I can tell he loves his job when he’s galloping around searching for every jump!"
Maggie Proffitt and Suzanne Smetana’s Astor, a 12-year-old Percheron gelding, were second on a score of 25.7. Emma Humble and Elizabeth Weick’s 16-year-old Pinto mare My Painted Princess finished their weekend in third place on 28.8.
In the Area II Junior/Young Rider Training Championship, Kiera Kenny and Annette Kenny’s FE Chardonnay (Clinton I x Callina), a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were the winners on a score of 30.9. It was Kenny’s first time competing at Loch Moy Farm and she traveled with her mother all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina to compete. “It was a fantastic experience!” she said. “I loved the amazing venue, the barn, the hospitality, and how extremely well-run the show was. Winning the Junior Training Championships was icing on the cake – 'Fabio' is my dream horse, I’ve only owned him since March of this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled about how our partnership has grown since then.”
“I want to thank my amazing trainers and support team, without whom this would not have been possible. A big thanks also to Loch Moy Farm/Maryland Horse Trials and the USEA Area II Young Rider Program for the opportunity!”
Carlin Keefe piloted Rumsey Keefe and Patricia Gilbert’s 20-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred Flintstar (Zabalu x Croftlea Firequeen) to a second-place finish in the Junior/Young Rider Training Championships on a final score of 32.3. Grace Mykityshyn and her own Lusi, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by R Johnson, rounded out the top three with a score of 32.7.
Elizabeth Stewart and Innsbruck VDO (Dakar VDL x Tagonetta), a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, led the Area II Modified Championship from wire to wire, adding just 3.6 time penalties to their dressage score to finish on 29.3. “He makes me feel like an amateur a lot of the time as he really makes me smile like a buffoon every time I ride him,” Stewart said of “Ian.” “He’s always trying to figure out what you want and gives his all to please you!”
Stewart was aiming Ian for a two-star this fall, but between COVID-19 and a bone bruise she decided to return to the Modified Championships, which they won last year, instead. “[Last year] I had a wonderful time winning one of my first events on him and definitely my first championship of any kind,” Stewart said. “I have had quite a string of difficult horses and Ian has made me competitive for the first time as I’ve taken him slowly up the levels.”
“Having qualified again for Modified where I felt he could be competitive again, the Area II Championships were a no brainer with the amazing job they do at the Maryland Horse Trials,” Stewart praised. “The grounds are constantly being updated and they have thoughtful course designers, officials, and volunteers who make the weekend such a great experience! The courses were challenging enough to make you work but fair and a great learning experience for horses of all levels. I brought two students also competing in the championships at Beginner Novice and Novice who also had great experiences in their competitive divisions. I plan on making the championships a yearly goal and can’t thank all the people and organizations involved in keeping it going in such a turbulent year.”
Mikki Kuchta and her 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Special Reserve (The Visualizer x Deco Jazz) wrapped up their weekend in the Modified Championship in second place on a 30.2. Arden Wildasin took home yet another yellow championship ribbon with her own 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Dusky Shadow on a 31.4.
Martin Douzant took home not one, but two Area II Championship titles. He and Frame Shamrock (Shakespeare RSF x Sahara), his own 7-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, won the Area II Preliminary Championship finishing on a score of 29.8. Douzant also won the Area II Open Training Championship aboard Olympus (Ferro x Kallisto), Diane Tauber’s 5-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, leading from start to finish on their dressage score of 30.70.
“I always knew that ‘Shammy’ was a champion, and it was great for him to get his moment in the spotlight this weekend," Douzant said of his win with Frame Shamrock. "He’s one of four full siblings that I have in my program, and I’m thankful to Thora for breeding such incredible athletes.”
Second in the Preliminary Championship went to Brooke Bayley and her own Lotos (Top Gun x Lotta), a 7-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding, on a score of 34.4. Arden Wildasin and Sunday Times (Cult Hero x Lackagher Crest), Sarah Wildasin’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, finished third on a score of 35.4.
“Olympus has been in my program since the very beginning when Diane [Tauber] purchased him as a young horse from Beall Spring Farm," Douzant said. "The goal the entire time has been for him to be Diane’s granddaughter’s competition horse, and I’m so thrilled to be able to turn over the reins at the end of this year having won this Championship for them.”
Ryan Wood and Julia Strawbridge’s 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding The Optimist (Natal x ARD Golden Girl) came second in the Open Training Championship on a score of 33.4. Arden Wildasin and Sarah Wildasin’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Tokyo Drift (OBOS Quality x GTI Diamond) were third on 35.7.
Elizabeth Bortuzzo and John Witte’s 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Belongs to Teufer (Teuflesberg x Belongs to Bandit) were the Area II Intermediate Championship winners on a final score of 37.3. "I’m extremely proud of how well Teufer performed on all three phases," Bortuzzo said. "The cross-country is the special part of every event, especially when you’re on a full Thoroughbred, and Teufer felt confident and bold! The event was extremely well organized and the championship was a great success notwithstanding the uncertain COVID-19 times we are living in. I would like to thank the whole team who supports all my horses and their efforts and the whole community that stands behind the great sport of eventing!"
Second place went to Erin Harrington and her own Viola (Democraat x Pascal), an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, on 41.4. Courtney Sendak and DGE TheManInTheGlass (Malibu Moon x Valid Tenet), her own 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, rounded out the top three on a final score of 45.9.
For full results from the Area II Championships at the Maryland Horse Trials, click here. Congratulations to all the Area II Championship competitors!
Stay tuned this fall to find out who finishes on top of the other USEA Area Championships! For additional information about the USEA Area Championships, click here.
It’s the turn of the world’s best eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.