Jul 31, 2017

Charles Owen Technical Merit Award Rewards Cross-Country Technique at Coconino

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Dan Michaels and Landonn III OHF, winners of the adult amateur Charles Owen Technical Merit Award at Coconino, competing at Abbe Ranch Horse Trials in 2015. Photo courtesy of Dan Michaels.

The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award was established in 2009 by the USEA Professional Horseman’s Council (PHC) to encourage safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique. The award is presented at a series of events throughout the year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who demonstrate technique on cross-country for a list of criteria including gallop, preparation, execution of jump, rider position, and general impressions. The winners at each event receive a Charles Owen Body Protector and helmet bag, and year-end high-point winners will receive a Charles Owen helmet.

The second event in the 2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit series was the Coconino Summer I Horse Trials at the Coconino County Fairgrounds in Flagstaff, Arizona (Area X). Dan Michaels and Megan Compton received the award recognizing their demonstration of safe and effective cross-country riding. This leg was judged by Karin Bishop.

Seventeen-year-old Compton was the winner of the junior Technical Merit Award aboard Linda Paine’s Happy Hour, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Audio x Qtrpastree). The pair finished third in the Junior Training Rider division, scoring a 36.8 in dressage and adding just a single rail to their dressage score.

Michaels was the adult amateur winner of the prize on his own Landonn III OHF, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Lordship x Madeleine). The pair placed third in the Open Training division on their dressage score of 35. He also competed Landonn III OHF’s full brother, Landonn II OHF, in the Senior Training Rider division at Coconino, where they finished seventh.

“The answer to that question is very long-winded,” Michaels said when asked about how he came to own the two brothers. The story started when his children got involved in 4H, and his wife decided she really wanted a horse. “I resisted, heavily” said Michaels, “Because I had been through goats and sheep and birds, and I always got more involved than I really wanted.” And he was right to be worried. His wife ultimately purchased a mare who taught their children in the hunter/jumpers, and Michaels said, “I ended up spending so much time with the kids doing this that I decided to try it, and when I got going over fences, I got hooked.”

Their small farm eventually flourished into a full-fledges boarding and training operation, and Michaels and his wife decided they wanted to breed their mare. They chose to breed her to the Holsteiner stallion, Lordship, who stands at October Hill Farm in Hudson Oaks, Texas, but through a series of unfortunate events, they never got a foal from the mare. After two unsuccessful pregnancies, Michaels and his wife still wanted a foal, and so traveled to October Hill Farm to look at their young stock. Landonn II OHF was a yearling at the time. “He was remarkable in all of his gaits, and when I worked with him he was very pliable, even for an amateur,” said Michaels. “I started him, and I’ve pretty much done most everything with him. He worked out so well that when Landon III OHF became available his breeder called me up and asked me if I was interested. I went down to look and bought him on the spot at six months old.”

“We call them Landon and Lance. Landonn II is ‘Landon’ and Landonn III is ‘Lance,’ that’s how we keep it straight,” said Michaels. “[Lance] is every bit as remarkable as Landon, but he stands a whole hand taller. It’s taken me quite a bit to get him packaged and put together.”

Dan Michaels and Lance. Patricia Jarvis Photo.

When asked about his fitness work with his horses, Michaels said “I’m at the point where I am beginning to feel when the horse has got his butt underneath my seat, when he’s got a proper approach, when he’s not on the forehand, when he’s up in front. So that’s what I try to focus on in my warm-ups, getting that feeling and getting is right. We do very little jumping in warm-up, but really focus on the quality of the gait.”

Looking at the comments from the judge, Karin Bishop, on his score sheet, Michaels said, “On Execution of Jump, she said, ‘Stayed organized and balanced while maneuvering through woods.’ ‘Balanced, calm, technically correct position, in partnership with horse’ is what she said under General Impression.”

“To me, having Charles Owen support this award is a big deal,” commented Michaels. “[Having an award focused on the amateur rider at the lower levels] is really helpful. I think this is one of the most significant prizes that an amateur rider can win. It’s really a big deal, and it’s not something you can set out to try to win. What you set out to do is do a good job on course. It’s wonderful to have somebody recognize that.”

“It’s more than just [the ride on] the day, it’s the horsemanship that precedes the day. It’s the days, and years, and that’s what shows here. Three or four of her comments were about the relationship that we’ve developed over the years,” concluded Michaels.

Visit the Charles Owen Technical Merit page on the USEA website to learn more about the program, and click here to view the complete judging criteria.

2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit Schedule

Pine Top Advanced H.T. | Feb. 23-26, 2017 | Thomson, GA (Area 3)

Coconino Summer I H.T. | July 8-9, 2017 | Flagstaff, AZ (Area 10)

The Event At Rebecca Farm | July 19-23, 2017 | Kalispell, MT (Area 7)

Fitch's Corner H.T. | July 22-23, 2017 | Millbrook, NY (Area 1)

Cobblestone Farms H.T. | July 28-30, 2017 | Dexter, MI (Area 8)

Colorado Horse Park H.T. | Aug. 12-13, 2017 | Parker, CO (Area 9)

Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II | Aug. 25-27, 2017 | Santa Ynez, CA (Area 6)

Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. | Sept. 2-3 2017 | Poolesville, MD (Area 2)

Otter Creek Fall H.T. | Sept. 15-17, 2017 | Wheeler, WI (Area 4)

Texas Rose Horse Park | November 11-12, 2017 | Tyler, TX (Area 5)

About Charles Owen

Charles Owen has been elevating the standards of safety in our sport by manufacturing to some of the top international safety standards for riding helmets and body protectors. At their design headquarters, Charles Owen uses an advanced computer simulation to perform impact analysis for their products. Charles Owen is the official riding helmet of the USEA. To learn more about Charles Owen visit their website.

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