Lea Adams-Blackmore laughs as she remembers Frostbite’s first starter horse trials when he was just getting started.
“I’m pretty sure he stopped at every single cross-country jump the first time,” she said. “I remember walking off the course, and [my trainer Jane Hamlin] was shaking her head and said, ‘It’s OK. We’ll get ‘em. We’ll figure it out.’”
It didn’t take long for “Frosty” to get the hang of it, and by the time the pair got to Preliminary, he had the competitive drive Adams-Blackmore had hoped for.
Last year, they moved up to Intermediate, and they’ve started out their 2023 season with a bang, winning the open Preliminary at Rocking Horse Winter II (Altoona, Florida) and the Intermediate rider division at Ocala Winter I (Ocala, Florida).
On the weekend of April 1-2, they topped a field of 71 at the CCI3*-S at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida), leaping from a tie for 31st after dressage and finishing on their dressage score of 34.3.
“I think that’s the closest I’ve ever seen the spread, even though I was in 31st after dressage, I was like 4 points from second place, which was insane,” said Adams-Blackmore, who works for Sharon White. “I was not expecting [to win] after the first day, but I remember walking the course with Sharon, and I remember her saying, ‘It’s probably going to be pretty tough to make time here just because there aren’t a lot of galloping stretches,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m on a pretty darn good cross-country horse, so I think we’ll just give it a really good go and see if we can move up,’ and it worked out!”
Adams-Blackmore, 21, grew up in Vermont training with eventing dressage judge Jane Hamlin. They went to Ireland to find Frosty, who’d just done some baby jumpers in the Netherlands where he was bred.
Hamlin connected her with White, and Adams-Blackmore took some clinics with her over a summer at White’s Summit Point, West Virginia, base, then decided to work for White officially in January 2020.
Adams-Blackmore hopes to become a professional in the future, and she’s enjoying the mentorship she’s receiving from White.
“Seeing how she runs her operation; she’s a proper business woman,” she said. “She didn’t have any of it handed to her, and she had to build everything up, and I think that was one of the huge things that really drew me to her program. It’s a working farm. She has to earn all the things in order to make all the things happen.”
During her first winter in Ocala in 2020 with White, Adams-Blackmore rode Frosty,a now-10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zirocco Blue VDL x Zanna) to a 17.1 on the flat and took that as a cue to move up. They’ve steadily climbed the levels, and last year they completed the Tryon CCI3*-L (Mill Spring, North Carolina). Adams-Blackmore is eyeing the Mars Bromont CCI3*-L (Quebec, Canada) this summer. She’s benefitted from the USEA Emerging Athletes Program (EA21), riding in a regional camp last year and the National Camp in Ocala in January.
“Both camps were awesome,” she said. “The regional one was really cool to meet so many people that I didn’t know who were pretty close to where I was. The national camp, everything there was super educational—the lectures and watching all of the other people’s lessons was just really helpful. I felt like you kind of looked around and thought, ‘Yeah, these are people who are probably going to be on teams with me in the future.’”
At TerraNova, Adams-Blackmore wanted to be competitive and use the event as a prep run for Bromont. They’d completed the CCI3*-S at Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International two weeks prior.
“He’s a really good cross-country horse,” she said. “He’s so careful, and he really doesn’t want to make a mistake. He’s a very good jumper, but he’s careful enough that if it’s not going to work he’s not going to be stupid. He’s got self-preservation.”
“It’s a very different course than we had run at Carolina, which has so much terrain, and this was flat,” she added. “Using the turning and twistiness of it to practice rideability and make him super adjustable. He’s so naturally in a good balance that you just have to basically ride the lines, and he takes care of the jumping part.”
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.