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 2020 Area IX Championships were held on September 11-13 at The Event at Skyline in Mt. Pleasant, Utah at the Skyline Eventing Park. To be qualified to compete in the Area IX Championships, riders needed to earn one first through fifth place at an event with at least five starters in their division between January 1, 2019 and August 25, 2020. One championship division was held at each level for Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice.
Rosie Smith and Seamus, her 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by the stallion Corrcullen RID, were the winners of the Area IX Preliminary Championship on a score of 32.5. "Our weekend was definitely one of the best shows we’ve had yet!" Smith shared happily. "We started out with a decent dressage to score a 28.1. It wasn’t our best test or score, but Seamus was a good boy! Cross-country looked like a very fun course – the only thing I was worried about was the last combination coming out of the water. It was an upright brushed ramp going downhill to a left-hand corner. It walked either a really short four or a flying three. I decided on the four, as Seamus is just a little guy (15.1 hands). The only times we’ve ever had cross-country penalties were at left-hand corners, so I was a bit nervous!"
"Of course Seamus didn’t have any problems with the combination because I remembered how to ride," she continued. "We had one of our best cross-country runs at the Preliminary level, coming in with only 4.4 time faults. Galloping can be hard for Seamus, as he is a draft cross and is 18 years old, but we had really been working on fitness the past couple weeks and it paid off! The show jump course was pretty big and had lots of tight turns, but the flying marshmallow (Seamus) jumped around great for me, giving us our first double clear Preliminary round in two years! We have had at least one rail at every recognized Preliminary we have done since going clear in our first Preliminary. Most of these were from me forgetting how to ride, as Seamus is usually a super careful jumper. It has just been a mental block in my head and I was so happy to finally get over it."
"Going through those finish flags double clear was definitely the highlight of my weekend. I’m so proud of my little Irish horse, we have done our first Novice through Preliminary together, and this win just felt like the icing on the cake!"
Leanne Asper and her own Alter Ego (Loughehoe Guy x Errigals Clover), a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, placed second on a score of 44.0. Ashley Carr and Elite Envy, her own 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Formula One, were third on score of 55.0.
Kris Greenway and Ash B'Dash (Espino x Keyless Entry), her 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, completed the Area IX Training Championship in first place on a final score of 25.2 - adding just 0.4 time faults to their dressage score of 24.8. "Our weekend was a bit of a rollercoaster ride," Greenway admitted. "Asher had some great moments and some not-so-great moments (as is typical of our sport that demands so much)."
"Dressage went very well and I was pleased with his dressage score, and stadium went well, too. Cross-country was more eventful! Asher refused the ramp in cross-country warm-up, I came off, and he split for the hills! By the time we caught him and I mounted back up, we had five minutes to get to the start box! Despite the less than ideal warm-up, it went well on course and we got the job done."
"My favorite parts of the weekend were hanging out with my barn friends from Platinum Farms, making some new friends, and enjoying this great facility. The day we arrived was smoky, but thankfully the smoke cleared and the weather was gorgeous. We came to Skyline last fall, too, and had a wonderful time.
"We love the Event at Skyline and are so appreciative of all of the volunteers that stepped up to make the event possible," Greenway concluded. "Skyline is well run, in a beautiful setting, and has great facilities and footing. We will be back every fall to enjoy this venue!
Angelika Beutel took second and third places with her own Romeo (Rubitano x Pepita), an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding, and Stephanie Hopkins's Alwin (Acorado's Ass x Positana), a 13-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar gelding, on 26.5 and 27.3, respectively.
Carr, who was third in the Area IX Preliminary Championship, was also the big winner in the Area IX Novice Championship aboard Fernhill Me and You 2, her 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Warrenstown You 2. The pair scored an impressive 19.8 in dressage and added one rail to their score to finish in first place on 23.8.
"I just recently acquired 'Fernhill Me and You 2,' fondly known as Liem, and I am so lucky to have the ride on such a talented horse," Carr said. "My favorite part of the weekend was getting out on the awesome cross-country tracks and enjoying my horses."
"I love the Skyline venue, the organizers, and the cross-country track," she added. "This is my favorite venue in Area IX and it is well worth the drive from Colorado. The organizers at Skyline are amazing and always do a phenomenal job of making the event run so smoothly."
"I am grateful for my support team, it really takes a village to make it all come together."
Second place in the Novice Championship was Chris Kawcak and his own FGF Admiral Z (Consul x Cazandra), a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, on 24.5. Angelika Beutel and Sally Dalton's 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding Harrison (Harvard x Pirouette) were third just 0.3 points behind Kawcak on 24.8.
Madeline Backus swept the first two spots in the Area IX Beginner Novice Championship with Nancy Rush Isbell's 17-year-old Thoroughbred mare Piper's Sonatina and Garcia Wood's 7-year-old Draft gelding Finn, finishing both horses on their dressage scores of 21.0 and 26.5.
"Both are completely different rides, yet very nice horses," Backus observed about her two championship mounts. "I was riding them for their owners, and it’s been fun to have a very successful season on both, finishing this year with the top two placings in the division. It was my last show for the season, as both horses are going back to their owners. I’d like to thank them for taking great care of their horses and allowing me to compete them, and to our awesome team for helping the weekend run smoothly. It was a really fun group! Also, much gratitude for my sponsors for keeping me outfitted in some amazing gear."
"Skyline is such a wonderful event, and it’s always worth the drive there," said Backus, who traveled to the event from her home base in Larkspur, Colorado. "The fact that cross-country is run on footing is amazing - we can always anticipate great footing on course thanks to all the volunteers who help run it. Skyline is known for their super fun competitors' parties, which unfortunately couldn’t be held this year. Still, we were not disappointed by the dinner they sent us with, adapting to COVID-19 regulations and keeping everyone safe while still making it enjoyable with delicious food."
For full results from the Area IX Championships at The Event at Skyline, click here. Congratulations to all the Area IX 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.
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