Sep 03, 2021

Beginner Novice Pairs Bring Their Best to the Dressage

Erin Buckner and Picassi. Xpress Foto Photo.

Beginner Novice competition at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds got underway Friday morning with six divisions taking over the numerous dressage rings set up across the Kentucky Horse Park. Competitors of all ages from across the country put their best foot forward for the judges, with one Beginner Novice competitor receiving a score of 18.5 which is officially the lowest score of the 2021 AEC.

Junior Beginner Novice

Erin Buckner of Buckhead, Georgia, and her 17-year-old gelding, Picassi (Paparazzo x Lady Lily) put forward an impressive display to score an 18.5 for the early lead in the Junior Beginner Novice and earn the only score in the teens in the AEC this year.

“He just loves dressage, I think that is by far his favorite phase,” Buckner detailed. “He perked up immediately and was so bright but relaxed at the same time; he just did great.”

When asked about his low-penalty score, Buckner simply stated she thought the gelding’s attitude was the winning ticket.

“I think his whole demeanor was really the key, he just went in there wanting to work and wanting to please.

“We originally bought him for my sister but when she stopped riding I took over the ride,” she continued. “We started over some very small stuff like tadpole jumps and have just been taking our time moving up.”

Scarlett Peinado of Aubrey, Texas and the 11-year-old American Warmblood mare (Carrington x unknown) 50 Shades of Envy followed suit with a score of 21.6. Elkhorn, Wisconsin resident Abigail Haydam and the 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Noteworthy x What A Tattle Tale) C-Note added on 0.7 faults to round out the top three lineup.

Beginner Novice Horse

Kristine Burgess and Marisol. Xpress Foto Photo

Hugo, Montana’s Kristine Burgess displayed fancy footwork with her 5-year-old Trakehner mare Marisol to emerge victorious in the dressage phase of the Beginner Novice Horse division with a score of 25.5.

“We actually purchased her as a mount for my mom but because she is only 5 I have been putting some riding and training on her for now,” Burgess said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for another horse but the minute I saw her I sent the link to my mom anyways because she reminded me so much of the mare she already had that she absolutely adored.”

“We basically ended up buying her off a video,” Burgess laughed, “but she has already exceeded our expectations. She takes on every challenge and wants to figure it out and do the right thing.”

Laura Kosiorek-Smith of Hanoverton, Ohio and Crissteen Miller’s 7-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare (Schwarzenegger x Garcia) Star Quality CSF took to second place after dressage with a penalty of 28.00. Kalie Beckers and her own 6-year-old American Warmblood mare, Calla BGF (Carush x unknown) put their best foot forward to finish with 28.3

Junior Beginner Novice 14 & Under

Laura Voorheis and Hillcrest Hop. Xpress Foto Photo.

All the way from New York, New York, Laura Voorheis put forward her best fancy footwork with Hillcrest Hop, her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dilshaan x Queen Judy) for a first-place score of 27.1

“He is definitely my youngest horse at the moment but it has been so fun to watch him develop since buying him in December,” she commented. “He’s always been a bit feisty but he was phenomenal in the test today. His canter work has gotten a lot stronger over the past few months so I think that was one of our best movements today.”

Crestwood, Kentucky’s Larkyn Hendren showed some things really do get better with age as she waltzed into second place with her 20-year-old Arabian mare, Sandy with 29.0. Carolyn Wheeler’s 14-year-old Sport Horse mare Karisma and Maisy Sullivan added only 0.9 penalties to Hendren’s score to finish third.

Beginner Novice Amateur

Cami Pease and Vibrant. Xpress Foto Photo.

Cami Pease, Washington, D.C., leads the way for the USEA Beginner Novice Amateur Championship. She earned a respectable 24.8 with Vibrant, her 21-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Orlando x Fatima Van De Heffenk). These two are no strangers to the top of the leaderboard, they won the Beginner Novice Amateur Championship in 2018, and they’ll rely heavily on that experience in the coming jumping phases.

Emily Nichols, Greenfield, Ind., piloted Galway Girl, her 9-year-old Thoroughbred (Trifecta Scott x Blues Muse) into second place on a score of 26.3. Third place belongs to The Plains, Va.’s Sophie Ann Stremple on a dressage result of 27.3 with Dolly, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Shannon Davis.

Beginner Novice Rider

Susan Goodman and Cinna.

It’s been 23 years since Susan Goodman, Wickenburg, Ariz., competed at the Kentucky Horse Park, and she made her return a memorable one, leading the USEA Beginner Novice Rider Championship after dressage on a 26.8.

“We did the long format, [now CCI2*-L] three-day event here in 1998. So I did get to ride around here and do the roads and tracks and steeplechase, and that was very fun,” Goodman said. “That was kind of my bucket list thing. And then I really, several years ago, I lost my older horse that I had ridden for a long time, and thought, ‘I'm done. I'm not gonna ride anymore.’ And then these girls came up with this boy for me.”

The 9-year-old draft gelding, who was picked out by one of Goodman’s daughter’s students, turned out to be the perfect fit for Goodman, who at 73 is the second oldest competitor this weekend.

“I've had a lot of fun on him. I've just, I've just taken it real slow. And I haven’t evented for a long time, but I'm now in my 70s and so I just have this new-to-me horse, and we’re just having fun,” she said.

Second place in the division belongs to Purcellville, Va.'s Leigh Wood and Dollar Mountain, her own 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Forestry x Formal Tango) on a 27.1 and Katherine Rutherford of White Heath, Ill. with Amazingly Lucky, her own 13-year-old Paint gelding sit in third on a 27.8.

Beginner Novice Master Amateur

Penny Welsch and Mr. Poppers. Xpress Foto Photo.

The 2021 AEC is also somewhat of a renaissance for Penny Welsch, who leads the USEA Beginner Novice Amateur Championship after dressage on a score of 25.1 with Stuart Brown’s Mr. Poppers, a 13-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding.

“It's been almost 40 years since I evented,” Welsch, from Ocala, Fla., said. “ I never thought I'd ever step foot on this ground with a horse. You know, I just evented as a teenager, you know, and not big time then either. It was the small stuff up in New Jersey. So this is a dream come true.”

Renee Senter, Overland Park, Kan., is the second-placed rider aboard Regina, the 14-year-old Holsteiner (Regulus x Nellina), on a score of 27. Just behind on 27.8 is Amy Winnen, Rochester, N.Y., and Galatea HU, a 15-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar (Galant Du Serein x Rohmanie), on a score of 27.8.

Now that dressage is over for the Beginner Novice riders they are on to cross-country tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

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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.

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