Jan 31, 2021

Cooley Stormwater: 2020 USEA 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Cooley Stormwater and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp. Samantha Clark Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp.

It’s been a big year for Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp. Not only did she take home the World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year and Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year titles, she also piloted Cooley Stormwater (Camillo VDL x Thornfield Calypso), The Stormwater Group’s 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, to the title of 2020 USEA 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year.

Two new national leaderboards, the 6-year-old horse and 7-year-old horse leaderboards, were introduced in 2019 at the suggestion of USEA Young Event Horse Committee co-chair Dr. Tim Holekamp. The 6-year-old horse leaderboard ranks 6-year-old horses at the Preliminary, CCI2*-S, and CCI2*-L levels and the 7-year-old horse leaderboard ranks 7-year-old horses at the Intermediate, CCI3*-S, and CCI3*-L levels.

The 6-year-old leaderboard focuses on Preliminary and the 7-year-old leaderboard focuses on Intermediate because these are the levels at which these age groups are tested at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships at Le Lion d’Angers each fall. The Holekamp/Turner Le Lion d’Angers Grant, created by Tim Holekamp and Christine Turner, awards the highest scoring horse of the USEA YEH 5-year-old Championships with a cash prize that enables them to travel to Le Lion d’Angers in France in their 7-year-old year to compete in the CCI3*-L Championship. Last year, Laurie Cameron’s Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) was awarded the title of 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year, piloted by Maya Black.

Halliday-Sharp found “Danny” in Ireland as a 4-year-old. “Richard Sheane of Cooley Farm and I were at a young horse show and I spotted him there and immediately thought he was a horse with real potential,” she said. “He is a sensitive horse and tries very hard, nearly too hard sometimes, so I have tried to keep in mind his personality in my training. Each time he has moved up a level it has taken him time to find confidence in each phase, but once he learns it, he then he is very good and gives me everything! He has all of the scope, gallop, and heart to be a top horse and I am looking forward to seeing what 2021 holds for him.”

Meagan DeLise/Phelps Sports Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp.

One moment this year that Halliday-Sharp was most proud of was winning the CCI3*-L at Hagyard Midsouth in Kentucky at the end of the season. “He really found himself there and fought for me the whole way,” she praised. “He had a couple blips along the way at the three-star level this year while he was learning, especially as he has a big jump and a huge stride, but I always still believed that he was ready for the long format at Midsouth. He gave me such a great ride in all three phases and he found it easy - I was really proud of him!”

“My plan is to bring Danny out at the Intermediate level and to really make sure that he is 100 percent confident and solidified at the three-star level,” Halliday-Sharp explained. “He is still young and I am thinking of the long term future for him, of course. I am very confident that he will move up to Advanced level [in 2021], and I think that he will tell me when he is ready for that next step up – he is definitely a horse with five-star ability, so I am just going to keep producing him correctly without pushing him up to the next level until he is ready.”

“I am so thrilled that Danny was the leading 7-year-old old for 2020 – he certainly earned it!” Halliday-Sharp concluded. “I am also very happy for his owners, The Stormwater Group, who have been so supportive while he was learning and growing in his 7-year-old year. It was especially tough for them as they were not able to watch him compete very much last year, but their belief in him never wavered. There is no better feeling than to produce a young horse from the beginning of their career and to watch them find their strength and confidence as they go up the levels. Danny and I have a great partnership now and I am very proud of how far he has come.”

Cooley Stormwater was honored along with all the other USEA year-end award winners in the USEA Year-End Award Ceremony on Friday, January 8. You can view the awards ceremony on demand here. To view the 2020 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year leaderboard, click here.

About the USEA Young Event Horse Program

The USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.

The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Hay Company, and Etalon Diagnostics for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program.

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