Aug 29, 2023

Caught Up in a Moment with Modified Leaders at AEC

By Chelsea Lyn Agro - Press Release
Marty Riney and George Alexander. Erin Gilmore Photography photos

Lexington, Ky.—August 29—The first day of competition at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds featured dressage competition for the Modified level competitors, allowing them the opportunity to dance down the centerline and secure a solid foundation for their overall score.

USEA Open Modified Championship

The handsome 10-year-old Holsteiner-Thoroughbred gelding George Alexander (Ambassador x Mahala), who bears no resemblance to Prince George of Wales despite his namesake, secured a 28.1 in the Open Modified division with rider and co-owner Marty Riney aboard. Riney shares her obvious pride for "George" and his development alongside co-owner and breeder Claire Latimer. “Claire has always loved the breeding aspect of it. We don’t really pick them out. We just ride them and try to make them happy, so in a way it’s a little different because we’re not picking them out to produce. She’s bred them, which is really cool,” said Riney.

Having ridden and competed two of George’s siblings in the past, Riney, Nicholasville, Kentucky, is ecstatic to be back in the arena with the horse she’s worked with for the last seven years after some time away from competition. “He’s a really cool horse. He likes playing the game, and I sure like playing the game,” said Riney. She’s had two children since 2019 and while a break in competition for George wasn’t necessarily planned to further develop him, Riney believes it worked out just perfectly.

“I think it really worked in his favor because we really thought he was kind of a dud,” said Riney with a laugh. “He’s very nonchalant about everything but being in a stall—he’s terrible in a stall so that’s why he trailers in—and he has a miniature pony he likes to torture if he does have to be in a stall, but he loves the game. He has just gone so slowly, and we’re pretty painfully slow with him to make sure things are right. He’s just a really good boy.”

And that maturity is an exciting new part of the puzzle for Riney as she sets her sights on cross-country. “It is like a true nice championship course," she said. "I think it’s really fair but I think it asks a lot of questions. We have a great partnership, but you never know—I always say, ‘It’s not a dressage show—there’s two more phases!’ ”

The pair leave the start box at 8:14 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

USEA Modified Rider Championship

Darlene Walters and Concord Dawn

Concord Dawn (Smart x Della Street), a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, and owner Darlene Walters claimed the leading position in the Modified Rider division with a score of 27.7 after what seems like a whirlwind of changes and circumstance for Walters.

“The trainer that I had moved to Florida full-time so it was a year of change for us, and it was a move up year for us as well,” said Walters. “I was a jumper rider as a kid and a young adult, and I took 20 years off to chase a career, and I ran into a friend who said, ‘Hey, I’ve got more horses than I can ride. Can you help me?’ And then the rest is history.”

And by history, Walters meant her future—buying a horse and a truck and trailer and putting out a test like the one she rode today after only three years of eventing. “It’s been interesting, it’s been fun, it’s been a learning curve every year; this year the challenge is ‘Oh gosh, I’ve never ridden without a trainer and one being at the barn all the time’ and just trying to find our groove from there.”

Walters, Franklin, Indiana, admits that the hurdles have made her and “Mason” more independent as a team, thinking more about what she’s doing and how he feels, instead of being told.

Her growth as a rider is directly linked to her intuition, picking up on Mason’s emotions and needs along the way. “It’s such a step change, you know, your body position in each [phase] From being in an arena to doing cross-country is so vastly different, and it has been thrilling and challenging at the same time,” said Walters. Listening to her speak about Mason is like hearing a parent gush about their kid. She refers to him as a lover, cuddler, patient, pleasant, and a real teacher’s pet for the vet and farrier with his quiet gentleman tendencies.

“I have a horse who I dearly love who takes such great care of me,” she said. “He lets me make all kinds of mistakes and still does a really nice job. He’s by far the nicest animal I’ve ever had.”

With a deep newfound love for cross-country, Walters is excited to tackle the course tomorrow. “He’s an off-the-track Thoroughbred who’s very uphill and has a huge gallop so if I stay out of his way and keep myself where I need to be and support him, I think he’s got a really good chance to do well throughout the weekend.”

This team departs the start box at 9:06 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is the pinnacle of the sport at 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 combinations 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles; Gold Level Sponsors: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.

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