After 15 years of successfully cultivating and establishing the Future Event Horse (FEH) program for eventing breeders and owners, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) has merged the FEH program with the Young Horse Show Series (YHS). The updated YHS allows for a more comprehensive show series for sport horses in the U.S., as the YHS is now open to young talent with a future in eventing, as well as hunters, jumpers, and dressage.
The YHS was designed to provide breeders, owners, trainers, and riders a cost-effective show environment for their young sport horses. YHS allows young horses to experience special classes suitable for proper development.
On the outskirts of Tropical Storm Ophelia, the first YHS Regional Championship was held at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland, on Sept. 23. Previously the site of the FEH East Coast Championship, Loch Moy Farm owner Carolyn Mackintosh easily accommodated the updated show series, hosting a qualifier event and this regional championship. The regional championship was judged by Jos Sevriens, a certified Dutch National Riding School Instructor and a USDF Level 4 certified instructor with many years of evaluating young horses.
Out of the 17 entries in the yearling, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old divisions, seven were eventers, six were hunters, and four were jumpers. The young horses were presented in-hand by Joe DeSantis of The Frame Sporthorses to Sevriens for conformation evaluation. After walking one circuit of the arena with DeSantis, the horse was released for at-liberty evaluation. DeSantis freely guided the young horses around the ring, alternating their direction and adjusting their gaits as requested by Sevriens. The 2-, 3- and 4-year-old horses had the option of participating in the jump-chute class.
At previous FEH competitions, the young eventers were presented in hand for their entire evaluation– standing for conformation, walking the first triangle, and trotting the larger triangle.
“Safety was first, they want to see the horse in control [in the triangle],” Sevriens said. “You positioned the horse…to the inside, and on the long side, you open them up, and then they come back to you. [It showed their] correct gaits, conformation, and movement.
“[However] at the end of the day, you don’t see the gaits [naturally enough]. So if you go at liberty, now the horse goes freer," he continued. "Now you see the uphill tendency of the mover. In their body shape, if the horse is built that way and moves that way, that’s what we like.”
Sevriens evaluates their conformation and movement and assesses their level of balance, as these are helpful indicators of a future performer.
“You want to breed for particular performance qualities,” Sevriens said. “We like to see horses that are suitable for that [discipline]. You cannot breed an event horse, you are going to train an event horse. You have to have a horse with stability, [and a] disposition [that] is very good. A horse that is a smart horse can respond and not overload itself, so that it can develop a physical and mental effort while performing. This show is an introduction to the show environment, so you don’t stress them out. You can see their reactions and see which horses are smart in their responses. The first impression is the best impression.”
In the in-hand yearling class, two of the four entries were bred with eventing in mind. Of those two, placing second in the yearling class with 8.07 was Folsom (Floraldik x Shirley/Saccor), a Westphalian gelding bred and owned by Jessica Chappell. “I foaled him myself, and there is a personal connection,” Chappell shared. “He’s very easy in the barn, loves attention and comes right to you in the field. Not to mention, hops right on the trailer to attend the shows.”
Folsom’s sire Floraldik (Florenz x Highlight/Heraldik xx), owned and trained by Zaragoza Acres, has an exciting up-and-coming eventing career. “Folsom was produced from his first crop so it is exciting to see his top results from this year's YHS, showing great potential for a successful performance career,” Chappell said.
This was Chappell’s first year participating in the program, and she plans to use the scores and comments to improve her breeding program. “It has been a great experience for the young ones to come out in a relaxed show atmosphere and gain confidence in different environments,” Chappell said. She plans to attend the finals in Tryon (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in November.
Princess Pixie (Capone I x Lady Leia/Ruffian), a yearling Holsteiner filly, placed third in the yearling class with a score of 8.0. As a working mom with a full-time job, Cynthia Gartrell, the filly’s breeder and owner, was thankful for a young horse show close to home and on the weekend. Gartrell participated in the original FEH program with Lady Leia, and her filly Pixie is a second-generation homebred for her breeding program and a fourth-generation homebred for Gartrell and her mother.
With scores of 8.5 from the in-hand class and 8.46 in the jump chute, Ladyhawke (Lord Ferragamo x Forbidden/Florestan), a Hanoverian filly, took home top honors for both of the 2-year-old classes. The YHS qualifier show in June was "Emma’s" first show where she placed second and third, and owner Lisa Cliser noted her scores had improved from the qualifier.
“I bought her from a breeder, Marilyn Gilligan, who is amazing, has the best eye, and breeds ammy-friendly horses,” Cliser said. “I saw Ladyhawke at 6 weeks [old], and I sent her a check.” Cliser plans to breed Emma next year and will let the mare decide what riding career path they’ll pursue together.
Scoring 7.8 in the 2-year-old in-hand class earned Oldenburg gelding Royale Escapade (Ridley x Itsy Bitsy Betty/Chinaco) fifth place. Royal Escapade was bred by Chris Rush and is owned by Andrea Bonney. “His mother is a registered Thoroughbred that I event,” Bonney said. “'Reggie' is a sweetheart. I’d like to event him, but obviously you let the horse decide.”
Enchantée FHF (Escher DFEN x Don’t Get Me/Don't Get Mad), a 3-year-old Hanoverian mare, scored 8.23 in-hand to earn second and 7.99 in the jump chute to earn third place, in her respective age classes. “We've been very happy to have YHS take up the eventing shows for the young horses,” breeder and owner Olivia Schlicting of Fox Hole Farm in Warrenton, Virgina, shared. “We had previously done FEH, but the format of YHS is a little more friendly to the youngsters, with more at liberty and less in hand. If ‘Emmy’ shows aptitude for the higher levels, our goal is to place her with a professional eventer to maximize her potential.”
Earning third in the 3-year-old in-hand class with 8.12 and second in the jump with 8.49 was Compass (Coeur d'Amour x Furstin Annika/Furst Impression), an Oldenburg gelding bred by High Point Hanoverians and owned by Caroline Chaney. This is Chaney’s second show (in the rain) with Compass. “I think it’s a great opportunity to get them out and get experience going to a show, it’s been a lot of fun,” Chaney said.
Bellavista Illumination (Foxhollow Navigator x A Charming Pose/Posse) earned a 7.7 in the 3-year-old in-hand class and a 7.99 in the jump chute to earn fourth in each class. Bred by Bella Vista Farm in Maryland and purchased by Aija Clancy, the goal is to ideally event the mare. “We’re going to do whatever she tells me she wants to do,” Clancy said. “I’ll be happy with a happy, healthy horse that I can go on a trail ride, do some low-level eventing with. She’s great, for three, she’s so cool. Everything I’ve faced her with, she’s taken it in and self-regulated.”
All qualified horses in each age division will be emailed if they are qualified for the 2023 YHS National Finals at Tryon International in Mill Spring, North Carolina, from Nov. 7-11.
About the Future Event Horse Program and Young Horse Show Series
The USEA introduced the Future Event Horse Program in 2007 in response to the popularity of the already established USEA Young Event Horse Program. Where the YEH program assesses 4- and 5-year-old prospective event horses based on their performance, the FEH program evaluated yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. The FEH program is now run by the Young Horse Show Series, under their umbrella.
United States Eventing Association (USEA) members at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention were in for a treat on Friday as the U.S. Eventing Team was on hand to discuss their accomplishments this year at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.