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 Area V Championships were split between two events: the Novice and Beginner Novice Championships were held at the Meadowcreek Park Fall Social Event in Kosse, Texas on September 19-20, 2020, and the Preliminary and Training Championships were held at the Texas Rose Horse Park Fall Horse Trials in Tyler, Texas on November 7-8, 2020. While the qualifying periods for the two events differ – October 8, 2019 to October 20, 2020 for Preliminary and Training and March 1, 2019 to September 1, 2020 for Novice and Beginner Novice – all combinations must have achieved a first through fifth place finish at one event to be qualified to participate in the Championships. There was one championship division for each level from Beginner Novice to Preliminary.
Camdyn Rahe and Fashion Forward (Carracci 2 x Gamine de Jaquet), Lida McAllister’s 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, won this year’s Area V Preliminary Championship, leading the division from start to finish on their dressage score of 30.4.
“Dressage we have really improved on and show jumping was a lot of fun,” Rahe reflected. “It was a challenging course they set up so I was nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun and I was also happy that we went clear. Cross-country is so much fun on my horse – she just knows what jumps to jump and she locks on and goes. My favorite part of this weekend was definitely cross-country – the course was a lot of fun and it was challenging!”
Ellen Doughty-Hume took both second and third place in the Preliminary Championship aboard Two Step Program (Two Step Salsa x Itzcocktailtime), her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, and Breakin’ All the Rules (Due Date x Lisa), her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred mare.
In the Area V Training Championship, Savannah Welch and her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding Langcaster (Languster x Galiffi) were in second place after dressage on a score of 26.2. A clear show jumping round solidified their second-place spot on the leaderboard, and they ultimately took home the win with a fast and clear cross-country round.
“I’m over-the-moon happy with my weekend,” Welch shared. “I’ve been really working on improving my dressage and Langcaster showed a huge improvement this weekend with his connection and consistency. We still have some things to work on, but his progress from this summer was tremendous.”
“Show jumping went great,” Welch continued. “We have always been very tidy show jumpers until this summer when we pulled our first rails since 2014! So, we have really been working hard for a clean round again. We had a wonderful tidy round and I was very pleased with it!”
“Cross-country has grown to be our new love. I used to be timid with cross-country but I’ve grown more confident. I missed jump 4 and had to circle back to get it before I jumped 5. Thankfully I saw it! I lost quite a bit of time, so I really had to gallop to make the optimum time. But Langcaster was so game and really rose to the occasion to make it 12 seconds under optimum. All the jumps I was worried about he jumped perfectly and made the strides in every combination.”
“My horse and I have been going through some growing pains from him moving out of a boarding barn with a lesson program to moving home with me, and it took a while for us to slowly start having some gaps in our training,” Welch elaborated. “I eventually sat down with my trainer when we spent the summer on the road and decided to sit out a few months from showing and reestablish a training program. This summer I went through a lot of disappointing shows, but it gave me the kick to buckle down and get a lesson program established, and it sure paid off!”
“My favorite part of the weekend was seeing the big progress we’ve made!” Welch concluded. “But also cross-country where Langcaster really stepped up to the plate on helping make up time and putting in a really great round.”
Second place in the Training Championship went to Heidi Crowell and Tinraher Diamond (Jack of Diamonds x Lucky Mermaid), Craig McCallum’s 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, while Melissa Rickman and her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Lefty (Pleasantly Perfect x Mocha Brown) finished in third place. Both scored a 27.4, but Crowell was closer to the optimum time and therefore took home second over Rickman.
Brittney Caflisch and When Stars Align (Marino Marini x Bhudda Bing), her 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare, were crowned the victors of the Area V Novice Championship on a final score of 25.9. They began their weekend with a dressage score of 21.9 to take the early lead, and even the 4 points accrued because of a dropped pole couldn’t knock them out of first place.
“The weekend was a blast!” Caflisch said. “We couldn’t have had any better weather and the facility looked fantastic! Going into cross-country, I was curious how Joli would tackle the course. It was our first time there going Novice and we live so far that we hadn’t schooled either. She was amazing and took everything in stride!”
Crowell earned a second Area V Reserve Championship title, this time at Novice aboard Sunsprite’s Anastasia (Sunsprite’s Cali x Damera Eclipse), Kira Tushman’s 7-year-old German Warmblood mare, on a score of 29.2. Debra Dealcuaz and Fernhill Flyer (Je T’aime Flamenco x Warrenstown Cassy), her own 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, rounded out the top three on a score of 31.7.
Casey Locklear and FLS Major Bounce (Major Bounce x HS Dun Toa Turn), her 7-year-old British Sport Horse gelding, brought home the Area V Beginner Novice Championship title with a flawless weekend, leading wire-to-wire on their dressage score of 30.0.
Locklear shared that “Bounce” is a “cookie, cat, and nap-loving British Sport Horse that was sourced by Kaitlyn and Karl Slezak at the Monart Sale. I bought Bounce as a 4-year-old from the Slezaks after knowing he was my perfect fit. I was ready to walk away completely from riding, but a really special coach convinced me to give the horse search and riding one more try; I'm so grateful she did!”
“I was confident Bouncer would give me a solid performance, however, he can be a bit tricky to keep rideable in dressage if we don’t get into the show ring often enough (don’t tell him, but it’s really due to my tension!)” Locklear said. “Given this was only our third event of the year and we hadn’t gone down the centerline since June, I knew I needed to step up my game to keep myself relaxed in the dressage arena and it worked! We had our most rideable test to date, and being the trailblazer horse, he literally led the pack wire-to-wire. In show jumping, he gave me a forward ride and great shape over all the fences, my coach was beaming – she's pretty tough so that is quite the accomplishment. Bouncer felt like he really came into himself on that course. Cross-country is our favorite phase and the course looked inviting, the only gamble was if we would meet the infamous Meadowcreek Park train while we were out there! Luckily, the train came as we crossed finish line, Bouncer was a bit exuberant, but spot on from the moment he left the start box – it was exhilarating to cross the finish line with my best friend and know we did it!”
Locklear has fond memories of competing at Meadowcreek Park as a child, but she hadn’t been there recently until the Championships. “Meadowcreek has come under new ownership and they have done a phenomenal job making updates and creating a warm, safe, welcoming environment; I couldn’t think of a better place for the Area Championships,” she said.
“There was a time not long ago that completing a USEA event was just a distant dream, I would never have guessed there would be a Championship win in my future!” Locklear said happily. “All of that said, the thing I will never forget about the weekend was leaving the dressage ring to meet my mom, smiling from ear-to-ear saying, ‘The judge said ‘8’ as you were coming down centerline!’ My mom has been my tireless cheering squad and groom – seeing her pride and happiness will forever be my favorite part of winning the Beginner Novice Championships. Bouncer and I are so lucky to have her and my husband believing in us as we chase crazy dreams.”
Jennifer Brown and Mr. Hughes (En Dixie x Bipity), her 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, were second on a score of 31.8, and Stephenie Villines and Fuerst Shiloh (Fuerst Gotthard x Ali Can Go), her 14-year-old Oldenburg mare, were third on a score of 32.0.
For full results from the Area V Preliminary and Training Championships at the Texas Rose Horse Park, click here. For results from the Area V Novice and Beginner Novice Championships at Meadowcreek Park, click here. Congratulations to all the Area IV Championship competitors!
For additional information about the USEA Area Championships and to read other Area Championships Round-Up articles, click here.
Lisa Pragg is a busy woman, but between her normal day job and competing her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred Impeccable she still prioritizes time to volunteer - both at horse trials and as a volunteer firefighter. Pragg understands the importance that volunteers play in the eventing community and makes sure to give whatever time she can back as a fair gesture.
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