Professional rider Ashley Kehoe has been eventing since she was 13. The former hunter/jumper rider who got her start at the early age of nine had the opportunity to attend the Radnor Hunt Three-Day event on endurance day and was bitten by the eventing bug.
“I always wanted to be a professional rider, but my journey to having my own business was a long one,” shared Kehoe who has lived overseas producing young horses, ridden for many five-star riders, and produced several of her own young horses up to the FEI level.
After selling her older four-star horse last spring, Ashley Kehoe imported her now 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding Daktaris (Dinkin x Europa VIII) from Germany with hopes of producing him through the levels to be her next upper-level mount. “He was young and wild, but had a lot of talent,” Kehoe reflected. She trusted her friend Svenja Eckart’s assessment of the horse and her word that Kehoe would love him, so she took a gamble and bought him off of a video.
Following a successful season with Daktaris at the Training level and with Preliminary on the horizon, Kehoe wanted to find a way to get a good base of fitness on the young horse, all while showing him what the life of a real event horse was like. A USEA Classic Series event seemed like just the right fit for helping continue “Tari’s” education.
“I was excited for Tari to get a chance to do the steeplechase to really show him how to run and jump and not be so perfect with his jump all the time,” Kehoe commented. “He's a Holsteiner and jumps high and round easily. The steeplechase stepped him into a new gear and he just flew around the cross-country. I wish there were more opportunities for us to do steeplechase with young horses. For my OTTBs, it's not needed- they were trained to flatten and run. But for the warmbloods trained to jump, the steeplechase is such a great training tool!”
With 28 entries in the Hagyard Midsouth Training Three-Day Event, getting an early lead was key to kicking off the weekend on the right foot. That task proved easy for Kehoe and Tari who led the division from start to finish on their dressage score of 27.7, just one point ahead of the second-place finishers.
It was a great weekend for the Training Three-Day competitors overall with all but two of the starters finishing the event and just five entries acquiring jump faults across the endurance phases. The top three finishers held onto their leading positions from dressage through to show jumping at the end, with both Kehoe and Tari as well as the second-place pair, Amanda Richard and her 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Count Julian (Count the Time x Believen It), finishing on the score they started the weekend with. The third-place pair, Maya Clarkson riding her own 7-year-old German Sport Horse mare FE Velvet Underground (Larimar x Loulinda) added 0.8 time faults to their score in the cross-country phase.
Interested in participating in your first Classic Series event but not sure where to start? Kehoe thinks the experience is one you shouldn’t miss out on. “I have quite a bit of experience riding long-format events, but for amateurs and young riders, this is such a great way to learn how to prepare their horse's fitness for longer cross-country runs. There were also educational seminars, both mounted and unmounted, that were offered at the event to explain everything.”
“You should absolutely do it,” Kehoe continued. “It's what the sport once was. I appreciate the effort everyone put into this event, and all the volunteers - it was no small feat.”
About the USEA Classic Series
The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long format three-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels, now including the Modified level too. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long format three-day event. Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.
In the final USEA Classic Series event of 2022, three horse and rider pairs rode their way to the top of the podium in the Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice 3-Day divisions offered during the Ram Tap Horse Park Horse Trials which took place November 18-20 in Fresno, California.
US Equestrian opened a bid process for one event to host the Advanced level in Area 3 on Week 10 for 2023-2027 due to an event cancellation. The bid process was conducted in accordance with the 2023-2027 U.S. Eventing Calendar CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, & Advanced Policies and Procedures. The USEF Eventing Strategic Calendar Review Task Force made recommendations to the USEF Eventing Sport Committee who made recommendations for final approval by the USEF Board of Directors.
Concluding the 2022 Area Championships season was the Area X Championships held during the SAzEA H.T. which took place November 19-20 in Tucson, Arizona. Three Championship divisions were offered, allowing three horse and rider pairs the opportunity to conclude their 2022 eventing season by being crowned champion!
“The highest priority must be given by instructors to developing in their riders a correct, balanced, supple, effective, and independent seat for dressage and for jumping.” - “Teaching Principles” in the new ECP Eventing Handbook by the Levels