For Immediate Release: It was a full day of Beginner Novice cross-country as 286 horses and riders in six divisions left the start box on the Derek di Grazia-designed course to take on their second phase of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The Beginner Novice horses followed the hoofprints of the five-star horses as they galloped through the Head of the Lake and took on the complexes that make the Kentucky Horse Park courses unlike any others.
Beginner Novice Horse
With only three events under her belt, the 5-year-old Trakehner mare Marisol rose to the challenge on the Beginner Novice Horse Championship cross-country course on Saturday. With Kristine Burgess in the irons, she stays in the leading position on a 25.5 heading into the show jumping finale.
“This is only her fourth show, so she doesn’t have much experience, but she's just a good horse. She's kind of starting to figure out the show life and really starting to settle into her own, which is awesome as a 5-year-old,” Burgess, Hugo, Minn., said. “She takes every challenge on and without much hesitation. She just took me over the fences and let me have fun out there instead of making me off to work for it.”
Laura Kosiorek-Smith of Hanoverton, Ohio piloted Crissteen Miller’s Star Quality CSF, a 7-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare (Schwarzenegger x Garcia), around clear inside the time for second place on 28 points. Kalie Beckers and her own 6-year-old American Warmblood mare, Calla BGF (Carush x unknown) came through the finish flag on their original dressage result of 28.3 for third place on the second day.
Beginner Novice Master Amateur
A large field of 51 combinations consisting of amateur riders over the age of 40 years old and their mounts debuted on the cross-country Saturday morning. Derek di Grazia designed an exciting and challenging track for competitors as all Novice divisions.
The beloved combination of Penny Welsch and Stuart Brown’s Mr. Poppers masterfully tackled the course and maintained their 1.9 point lead with a fault-free completion in the optimum time of 5 minutes and 35 seconds.
“I had so much fun out there. I loved it, and he loves it too. He had lots of cheers! Everyone knows ‘Sam,’” she said. “It was amazing. I couldn’t even believe that we were out there running around Kentucky”
Welsch took over the ride on the special 13-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding in February under the tutelage of Andrea Davidson and the pair qualified for the AEC in only three events.
Mr. Poppers has been under the care of Buck and Andrea Davidson since owner Stuart Brown asked if they would home the gelding in 2013 following the tragic loss of the gelding’s rider and Brown’s wife, Christine Brown.
Welsch is also a staple in the event community, most often seen on vendor row with her I Love My Horse Eventing and Dressage Boutique.
Renee Senter managed to navigate a clear effort with her 14-year-old Holsteiner mare (Regulus x Nellina) Regina to claim the second-place position on a score of 27.0. The Rochester, New York native Amy Winnen piloted the 15-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar mare (Galant Du Serein x Rohmanie) Galatea HU into third only 0.8 points behind second place.
Beginner Novice Amateur
The Beginner Novice Amateur division also saw roughly 50 entries go up against the iconic cross-country jumps at the Kentucky Horse Park. Early class leader Cami Pease once again rose to the occasion with her partner of 10 years, Vibrant on a final penalty of 24.8.
“At his age, our focus is really on the day-to-day care and how we manage his comfort,” she explained. “We know each other well so I can normally tell where he’s at and he was feeling good this week, so it worked out for us.”
The 21-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Orlando x Fatima Van De Heffenk) was originally Pease’s former equitation mount but made the switch to the cross-country discipline after moving to the East Coast.
“I purchased him in college to compete on in the equitation,” Pease continued. “We moved to Washington, D.C. from California when I went to grad school, and I sort of just fell into the eventing discipline. Coming from the equitation background, I didn’t think he was going to take to eventing that well, so I didn’t have any plans to compete, but surprisingly he has really loved it and I think he’s had the best five or six years of his life!”
Emily Nichols and Sophie Anne Stremple both maintained their runner-up and third place positions respectively by successfully navigating all obstacles and crossing through the timers within di Grazia’s optimum time limit. Nichols and the 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Trifecta Scott x Blues Muse) Galway Girl finished with 26.3 penalties from day one; while Stremple and Shannon Davis’ 15-year-old Hanoverian mare Dolly is only one point behind Nichols’ score to sit in third.
Beginner Novice Rider
Overnight leader Susan Goodman knew the clock would be her biggest opponent on Saturday’s cross-country, but she and Cinna put the pedal down to keep their lead of the USEA Beginner Novice Rider Championship.
“I tried to go fast and I got there 10 seconds under the time,” Goodman said. She and the 9-year-old draft gelding remain on their dressage result of 26.8.
Goodman’s last appearance here was in 1998 in a traditional long-format three-day event, but today was no less of an accomplishment for the Wickenburg, Ariz. rider. “It was equally challenging for me to go Beginner Novice today as it was to go Preliminary all those years ago. I had two hip replacements. I’ve had a stroke. I’ve had all kinds of, you know, old ladies things that have happened, and so I feel very fortunate to be able to come back from all that junk and ride,” she said.
Second place was held by Purcellville, Va.'s Leigh Wood and Dollar Mountain, her own 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Forestry x Formal Tango) on a 27.1. Traveling from Sarasota, Fla., Crissa Gillette and EPA Wildfire, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Carlo Bank x Clongeel Lady, take over third place without penalty points on a score of 29.1.
Junior Beginner Novice
Erin Buckner is the only rider who boasts a sub-20 score at AEC. She and her Picassi’s two-day result of 18.8 made them unbeatable on cross-country in the USEA Junior Beginner Novice Championship.
“It was really good. You know he went in there, and normally he can be kind of sticky and spooky at the bright, colorful fences, but honestly, he didn't have an issue with anything. He was game for all of it,” Buckner said.
Her weekend doesn’t end here, though, as she and the 17-year-old gelding (Paparazzo x Lady Lily) do not have a pole in hand for show jumping. If this promising pair do jump clear tomorrow, they will have the lowest finishing score ever for Beginner Novice at the AEC.
Scarlett Peinado of Aubrey, Texas and the 11-year-old American Warmblood mare (Carrington x unknown) 50 Shades of Envy keep the pressure on the leaders, sitting on the score of 21.6 after a double clear round. The third-placed pair also jumped clear today. Anneka Williams, Scottsbluff, Neb., and Juneaux, her 14-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse, have a two-day score of 22.3.
Junior Beginner Novice 14 & Under
The youngest of the AEC competitors headed out to the cross-country course today as the Beginner Novice Junior 14 & Under division wrapped up the week on the cross-country. After finishing second in the Novice Junior 15 & Under division aboard Herbst Accapella, Laura Voorheis was determined to continue her winning streak with her younger mount, Hillcrest Hop.
Voorheis took confidence from her earlier victory and channeled that success into leaving the course fault-free at the end of the day with the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dilshaan x Queen Judy).
“I had walked my cross-country course prior to my show jumping round earlier so I just was trying to remember the course and my plan up till it was my turn to go on the turf,” Voorheis described. “It was definitely our best cross-country to date even when we completely missed the distance at the last jump, but I can’t even be too upset about that because the rest was so great.”
Larkyn Hendren of Crestwood, Kentucky, and the 20-year-old Arabian mare Sandy made easy work of the track and held on to their second-place score of only 29.0. Maisy Sullivan and Carolyne Wheeler’s 14-year-old Sport Horse mare Karisma also stayed fast and efficient taking third with 29.9.
Beginner Novice show jumping gets underway at 7:30 a.m tomorrow.
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About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. With over 1,000 entries the 2021 AEC is set to be the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 5 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors! The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles, Vetoquinol; Gold Level Sponsors: Parker Equine Insurance, ShowConnect, Smartpak, Standlee Hay; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Park Equine Hospital, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club; Saratoga Horseworks; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, Dubarry of Ireland, Equilume, FITS Riding, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, LandSafe Equestrian, Parks Tax & Consulting, Retired Racehorse Project, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Contributing Level Sponsors: Big Ass Fans, CrossCountry App, FarmVet, GLC Direct, Haygain, John Deere, L.V. Harkness, Santa Cruz Animal Health; Prize Level Sponsors: American Saddlebred Horse Association, Astrid’s Oil, Bluegrass Animal Products, Dressage TestPro, EQuine AMerica Magazine, Flexible Fit Equestrian, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Great British Equinery, Horse & Country, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Romitelli Riding Boots, Strides for Equality Equestrians, Tack of the Town, VetBlue, The Equine Network, and Horse&Country
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