The marathon to Mondial du Lion is in the home stretch. For the past two years, horses competing in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) series are nearing the end of one of the most unique and trying qualifying periods in the sport’s history. Following the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic presented to eventers and other equestrians alike during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, athletes and breeders are eager to jet off to the 2022 FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France.
There were 39 young horses contesting the 2017 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old Championships between the East and West Coast Championships which were held in Elkton, Maryland and Woodside, California, respectively. Following 2017’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2017 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have worked their way up through the rankings to leave a mark on upper-level eventing.
The USEA offers many programs to help the development of upcoming event horses such as the Future Event Horse (FEH) program which focuses on yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds, the Young Event Horse (YEH) program which serves as an eventing talent search for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds under saddle, and the New Event Horse program which is an adaption of the YEH program that was designed to serve as an introduction of the sport of eventing for horse and rider that provides a stepping stone to recognized eventing. For the first time ever, USEA Area IV will be hosting a competition that features all three of these programs at Woodloch Stable in Hugo, Minnesota on July 9, 2022.
Over 88,000 spectators flocked to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky April 27-May 1 for the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Excitingly enough, at least one American-bred horse sat in the top three each day of the competition, with the ultimate treat on the final day when the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program graduate and American-bred Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) ridden by Doug Payne finished in third and was declared National Champion.
Did you know that the USEA Foundation currently administers 15 grants and scholarships designed to help event riders reach their goals? From funds used to assist juniors have access to additional training to aiding up-and-coming riders fund international competition to helping adult amateurs gain education, the current grant opportunities offered by the USEA Foundation has something for almost everyone.
The 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event will take place April 27 to May 1, and this year has a star-studded entry list. The entries consist of the only two Rolex Grand Slam winners (Pippa Funnell and Michael Jung), the full U.S. Tokyo Olympic team riders, and 10 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) graduate horses.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) proudly offers three regional Future Event Horse (FEH) Championships and two regional Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships annually. Together, the FEH and YEH programs have created a pipeline for young horses to showcase their talent, while judges identify horses that will be successful at the four-star and five-star levels of eventing.
The USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program and the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) Program evaluates the potential of young horses aged 5 and under. The YEH program is eligible for 4- and 5-year-old horses and the FEH program is eligible for yearlings through 4-year-olds. Purchasing a young horse can be challenging but, four eventing professionals, who specialize in young horse training, provide advice when shopping for a young event horse.
It was eight years ago when the O’Neals first started breeding event horses, and they have been hooked ever since. “The whole process of watching them grow from foals to taking them to their first event to competing internationally for the first time is hugely rewarding. It’s also interesting for us as professional riders because if we breed and produce a horse to four years old it is a fraction of the cost of importing a 4-year-old of the same quality and it's one that we have produced and know well,” said Ellie O’Neal.
The 2016 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old Championships saw over 40 competitors between the East and West Coast Championships held at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland, and the Woodside International in Woodside, California. Following 2016’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2016 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have worked their way up through the rankings to leave a mark on upper-level eventing.
The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.