Sep 02, 2017

Divisional Winners Crowned for the First Time on Third Day of 2017 AEC

Cindy Buchanan and Flying Candles. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center's George Morris Arena set quite the stage for the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena (AEC) as the first of the 2017 Champions were named. From the first Preliminary Amateur rider at 8:00 a.m. to the final Professional's Choice Junior Training rider at 6:30 p.m. riders tackled Chris Barnard's show jump courses in an effort to take home top honors and a slew of prizes!

Preliminary Amateur

Yesterday’s cross-country was very influential in the Preliminary Amateur division, which gave Cindy Buchanan the opportunity to climb up the leaderboard into first. Once Buchanan had the lead, she wasn’t letting go of it and a double clear show jumping round secured her the win.

Riding her homebred, Flying Candles, an 11-year-old ¼ Clydesdale and ¾ Thoroughbred mare (Icognito x Flying Pidgeon), Buchanan finished on her dressage score of 35.1.

“She was a little tired today,” said Buchanan. “We went fast yesterday. She jumped really well, and I was very pleased with her. She was a little flatter than usual, but she was keen enough to complete it.”

“Candles” won four of her last five events (she finished second at the fifth) so Buchanan decided this would be a great year to bring her to the AEC and then she turned it into a family affair with her two daughters competing as well. “I had never been to AEC before,” continued Buchanan. “My whole family is here and this is the first time for all of us. We figured this was the time to go. We are here until the end of this competition, and then we are going to drive home and make it to the opening fox hunting meet on Monday, because I’m a field master [for Chesire Hunt] and have to be there.”

Buchanan paid ode to her great partner who is by the same stallion as Colleen Rutledge’s four-star partner, Covert Rights. “[Candles] has the greatest personality ever. I fox hunt her; I ride side-saddle on her; she goes in hunter horse shows at Devon; she’s just an all-around great mare and I love her.”

Like Buchanan, Kathy Cain, had moved up in the standings following cross-country and maintained her overnight placing with a double clear round aboard her own Legal Limit, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Secret Prince x Cheese Blintze).

“I was thrilled with my horse,” said Cain. “He was wonderful. He’s used to jumps on grass so this [show jumping] was a little bit different for him, but he had lots of energy and the warm-up went well, and we went in there and he was amazing, I couldn’t be happier with him.”

“The week was fantastic,” continued Cain. “It was so nice to come out to such a beautiful facility, and it’s wonderful that you’re riding in the same facility that the WEG is going to be held in, and get to ride around on a similar track on the golf course side. My horse was wonderful in all three phases, I was a little slow on cross-country, but it was a great weekend.”

Leah Snowden and her own Ivy League, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Seattle Syn x Don't Even) started out the competition in 12th and made an impressive climb throughout the weekend to end up in third place in the Preliminary Amateur, adding nothing to her dressage score of 37.3.

“I had a fabulous weekend,” said Snowden. “I had never ridden a course like this before, but I live in Kentucky, so I get to ride at the Kentucky Horse Oark all of the time. I’m used to big galloping fields, but this is a little more like the Wellington Showcase. Because of that, I didn’t know how my horses would handle it. The course rode so much better than expected.

“My trainer rode before me and came back and said that we needed to stud up a little more so we did,” continued Snowden. “And we went out and my horse really galloped; we had a ball. I had a good time, the place is beautiful.”

Coti Hausman and Quantico. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Preliminary Rider

Four months ago Coti Hausman was lying in the ICU in a hospital with a grade 5 liver laceration caused when a horse kicked her. Today she was crowned the champion of the Preliminary Rider division.

“I remember one of the first things I thought [after I was kicked] was, ‘I can’t do AEC this year!’ because I had already qualified,” said Hausman. “The second day, the doctor came in and told me that I wouldn’t be able to ride for two and a half months and I started crying.”

Bobby Meyerhoff kept Quantico, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Quite Easy I x Little Black) in work and Hausman rook back the reins in early July. Hausman worked towards her goal of competing in the AEC and her determination paid off.

“He’s just so awesome,” continued Hausman. “Whenever I’m not completely right he says ‘it’s okay little lady, I got this!’ Otherwise he felt good, I wasn’t as anxious as I thought I would be. Usually I get very nervous, and I was quite calm in warm-up, I was very workman like and didn’t freak out mentally. That definitely played a role going into the ring. Last year riding in that ring was a lot, and I kind of lost my nerve but this year I held it together which definitely helped him get around clean.”

Caitlin Silliman rode two horses in the division and they swapped positions after show jumping with Q-brook Stables LLC’s Monbeg Myth moving above stablemate, Ally KGO. A 6-year-old Trakehner mare, Ally KGO (Hirtentanz x Anabel Lee), had one rail down to maintain her third place finish. Monbeg Myth, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Capitalist x Piltown Precious) made a steady climb throughout the weekend to finish from seventh to second to finish on his dressage score of 34.0.

“They were great,” said Silliman. “They’re both awesome. [Monbeg Myth] is a little more experienced, and so it was great to go out with him first, especially yesterday, and kind of feel out the course. He’s really fast – he’s like a little pocket rocket, so it was great to have him around before Ally.”

“The show jumping courses rode great, and it’s awesome to get young horses in the atmosphere of a big stadium today, and have them perform well, to keep that in mind for future big events. I’m going to Plantation [Field International] with both of them in two weeks, and this was a really good tune-up for them because there won’t be so much atmosphere, and they’ll really be on their toes because of this experience.”

As for yesterday’s cross-country course, it was a good experience for Silliman. “This is definitely a different style of cross-country riding than I’m used to in Pennsylvania … you have to think fast, ride fast, be quick on your feet and make quick turns, have the horses focused, so it was fun and definitely educational for me.”

Katherine Knowles and Cillnabradden Ceonna. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Junior/Young Rider Preliminary

Katherine Knowles didn’t have a rail in hand heading into show jumping in the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division, however it wasn’t Knowles who felt the pressure, but rather Caroline Martin. “[Caroline] gets very competitive, which is pretty funny. She was more nervous this morning than I was! It’s really great having her support,” Knowles said of Martin who she worked for during her gap year between high school and college. “[Working for her] really got me into it. I had been eventing, but not that seriously. I saw what it could be, and that got me hooked on it even more.”

Knowles rode her own 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Cillnabradden Ceonna (Creevagh Grey Rebel x Willow Garden) who she found in Ireland while grooming for Martin a few years back.

“I thought she was great today,” said Knowles. “I didn’t ride the best round, but Ceonna was perfect, and she’s a good jumper, so as long as I don’t mess up too badly I’m usually all right,” she said. “She helped me out there. This was definitely the biggest atmosphere I’ve ever ridden in. The course rode beautifully.”

Throughout the competition, Knowles added just 0.8 time penalties to finish on a 28.2 – one point over second-placed Ali Scannell and her own Faolan, a 13-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse gelding.

“I thought the course rode well, and yesterday I didn’t mess up which was nice,” Scannell said. “He was calm, and he tends to get a little up and excited in this atmosphere and usually that creates more nervous energy and less constructive energy. We’ve had some down time while I was away at college, so we’ve just been working on getting better over the last couple of months.”

Rounding out the division was Abby Dubrawski and Cobble Creek, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Storm Creek x Dance Moccasin) owned by Beth Dubrawski. “I thought it was a great course, my horse was really great. We had a relaxing dressage test, cross country also went nicely, I thought the course rode well.”

Brittany Hebets and MTF Bugatti. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Professional’s Choice Training Amateur

The Professional's Choice Training Amateur division concluded with Brittany Hebets moving up from second place to finish on top, aboard LeighAnn Hazel-Groux’s MTF Bugatti, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Wisconchin x Jessica) after clear rounds in both cross-country and show jumping phases.

Hebets, who has been a working student under Skyler Voss for three years, says that her first AECs experience is a dream come true. “Today’s ride felt so good—he can be kind of a spooky horse sometimes so it was nice to go out and feel his confidence and it gave me confidence to go and ride each fence that came. I was thrilled.”

Ruth Bley and her own Frankfurt, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Edition x Charen) took second place, also posting clear cross-country and show jumping phases after earning sixth place in the dressage phase. She said she loves competing at Tryon and is pleased with Frankfurt’s performance, especially in show jumping.

“He’s a little bit green, so it was a challenge to get him through cross-country, but he’s such a good jumper. He’s so balanced and he’s just been wonderful about that,” she commented. “We didn’t get to do as much eventing as we wanted to this year... I broke my arm and separated my shoulder, and then I broke my leg and I had to re-qualify to get here. We’re happy just to be here and to get it done,” she concluded.

Sandra Holden and her own Cano Cristales, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Conteur x Hauptstupbuch konny), took third after posting a four-fault run in show jumping—a ride she’s proud of, she said.

“I was happy with my ride today because I actually made it through the course. I spent this entire year preparing mentally, to conquer my issues with show jumping,” she explained. “It’s my weakest of the three and he’s so sensitive that if I don’t soften my mind, he reacts. I’m so happy that I made it through—that was the biggest accomplishment for me.”

Jordan Good and Danito. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Professional’s Choice Training Rider

Jordan Good led from start to finish this week in the Professional’s Choice Training Rider division aboard Danito, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Dancier x Wie Musik) owned by Ruth Bley, concluding their competition on their dressage score of 28.0. Erin Liedle and her own Fernhill Boodle, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding finished in second on their original dressage score of 30.7, while Brynn Littlehale and her own Lagerfeld, a 6-year-old German Sport Horse (Last Man Standing x Bonja), completed their show jumping phase on their first phase score of 30.9.

Good spoke of her round today aboard Danito saying, “My horse was listening really well today. Usually I have to ride with a lot of half-halts because he’s really forward, but he was really good and came back really well. He just stayed super consistent.”

Danito is a bit of a different ride for Good, who only took the ride over a year ago. The gelding is flashy and talented, but was also an adjustment due to his laid-back nature. “I’ve always had sort of hotter Thoroughbreds, but he’s super talented and I can actually go do a dressage test and ride it. He’s super brave, so it’s been really good. We are going to continue on and see how far he goes. I think he has all of the talent in the world.”

Liedle jumped up the leaderboard following cross-country and was proud of the show jumping round the pair produced to secure second place. “My horse is fantastic. My other horse in the Preliminary division has been my main focus this year, so he’s hasn’t been out since March and he really stepped up to the plate. I was very proud of him. He was great.”

Littlehale traveled all of the way from California to compete at this year’s championship event and was thrilled with the performance of Lagerfeld. She stated, “Charlie was really great today. He’s pretty young, so I thought he would be a little spooky, but he went in there, and was super laid back. He put in a really great round.”

“It was well worth the drive. They really make it feel like a special occasion. It’s fun for all of the horses and it’s fun seeing all of my friends from California again, so it’s been great.”

Madeline Hartsock and Prinz S.W. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Professional’s Choice Junior Training

Madeline Hartsock led from start to finish aboard her own Prinz S.W., a 8-year-old German Sport Horse Pony (PR H. Principal Boy x St. Pr. St. Hauptstutbuch Bienchen) in the Professional’s Choice Junior Training division, as the pair finished their competition on a score of 25.0 to secure their top title. Isabella Gunningham and her own Leroy, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Lucio Silla x Hetty) earned second place on a score of 26.8, while Claire Howard and her own Fernhill Euro Star, an 8-year-old Warmblood gelding by Qredo van de Kampenhoeve out of Panama, captured third place with a total score of 28.7.

“I’m feeling really excited right now. I had two lessons before I came down here, and then I rode with Sharon White on cross-country when we stopped in Virginia, which I think really helped,” explained Hartsock. “When we got here I did a flat ride, and then I went right into competition and he felt really good.”

Hartsock has enjoyed every moment competing Prinz, who she purchased two years ago from Germany. She explained, “We imported Prinz two years ago, and brought him to Florida because that’s where I was riding at the time. We started competing down there. He’s really great to handle and is quite the personality.”

Gunningham, who drove all of the way from Washington state to test her skills at the event this year, was thrilled with her finish aboard Leroy and commented on the progress the pair made this week, as well as how her horses handled the travel.

“I’m really happy and excited to be here. We came down from a very long drive from Washington. Because of that, my horses were fairly tired after the trek, but I thought they were fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for us.”

Howard, a Georgia native, expressed her excitement and love for Fernhill Euro Star, who she feels has changed her riding career and goals in the best of ways.

“I came in and he was great on the flat, the cross-country he was solid, really focused and the show jumping was probably one of the best rounds we’ve had so far. It was really good. He’s my dream horse. We have a great bond and he trusts me. That’s more than anything you can ask of a horse!”

Chris Talley and Aura CF. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Professional’s Choice Training Horse

Chris Talley and Aura CF, a 6-year-old Oldenburg mare (Belissimo x Aussprache) have been a force in the Professional’s Choice Training Horse division as the duo finished the week on their original dressage score of 24.1, completing a strong competition in all three phases.

Courtney Cooper and Caia Z, a 6-year-old Zangersheide mare (Calato Z x Djerba Z) owned by Caia Z Group, finished in second place with a score of 24.8, while Megan Sykes and her own Classic’s Mojah, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chabertin x Hauptstutbuch Senna), collected third place honors with a score of 25.1.

“My horse jumped really well, my stirrup broke after fence 3 and I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to go, but she’s a really careful horse and she’s been really super so I’m happy with her,” said Talley. “This is my first time at AEC and my first time competing at Tryon. The courses were really good. There was a lot of water and the footing held really well. I thought the show jumping rode well, but was also challenging.”

“Caia is a lovely mare. We did have a few discussions about things, but she is going to be a great athlete. She was great,” said Cooper.

Second and third place were very close, capping an exciting competition for the riders in the division. Sykes commented that she was very proud with her gelding’s ability to finish the competition on such a positive note.

“Mo was awesome. He did his best jumping, and unfortunately my inexperience did show through on that last combination. I got a little too excited and we had that last rail, but I’m super happy with how he went and he jumped great all the way around the course,” she concluded.

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Land Rover and Nutrena® is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, this event draws together the best competitors from across the country vying for national titles from the Beginner Novice through the Advanced level. This year's AEC is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, N.C. August 30-September 3, 2017.

The 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Presenting Sponsors: Land Rover and Nutrena, Gold Cup Advanced Title Sponsor: Adequan, Intermediate Division Title Sponsor: Boehringer Ingelheim, Training Level Title Sponsor: Professional’s Choice Platinum Sponsor: Devoucoux Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, Noble Outfitters Silver Level Sponsors: VTO Saddlery, Point Two Air Jackets, Mountain Horse Bronze Level Sponsors: Back on Track, SmartPak, Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, Stackhouse & Ellis, Auburn Laboratories, FITS, CWD, FLAIR. Contributing Level Sponsors: Eventing Training Online, The Jockey Club, Ovation, Nelson Manufacturing, and Prize Level Sponsors: I Love My Horse, GumBits, Exceptional Equestrian, The Scoring Chix, Horse Hydrator, C4 Belts, Ride Heels Down, Ride Safe, LM Custom Boots.

*Many of these sponsors are in attendance at the AEC with vendor spaces in the USEA Sponsor Village, located directly next to the George Morris Arena at TIEC. Get ready to shop!

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