It was a big ask for the 4- and 5-year-old horses competing in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships today as the famous row of Fair Hill flags were whipping in the wind and there was action in every corner of the main arena in Elkton, Md. With entry numbers in the 4-year-old division nearly doubled this year it was a fight against daylight to fit everyone in for the dressage and conformation phases.
When the final horse had trotted down centerline for judge Sally Ike, and Chris Ryan had evaluated the last horse – it was Double Diamond C and Butt’s Aria W who sat atop the leaderboards for the 4- and 5-year-old divisions respectively. At the YEH Championships, the dressage counts for 20 percent of the total score and the conformation and type for 10 percent, so 70 percent is still to be earned tomorrow in the jumping and gallop phases.
Laurie Cameron brought four homebreds to Fair Hill this year – two 4-year-olds, a CCI3*-L horse, and a CCI4*-L entry – and Maya Black is riding three of them. It is the Hanoverian gelding, Double Diamond C (Diacontinus x Lois Lane CBF) who is leading the charge for Cameron’s herd. “Petey” scored a 16.2 for dressage and an 8.67 for conformation/type to be currently sitting on a 24.87 in a very tightly packed class – 16 of the 27 horses are within a point of each other.
“Perfect Petey,” is what Black calls Cameron’s gelding who started under saddle last November. “He is lovely. I really enjoy riding [Cameron’s] horses. He comes to work everyday and is pretty focused on what you want him to do and just shows up and wants to do his job.”
Petey was a perfect gentleman in the electric arena, but that didn’t happen just by chance. Black has made sure that he and his stablemates were well-prepared. “I had them in Florida with me last winter and I really do try to put them in all the different environments – even if it is blowing wind or pouring rain I ride them, so when you do get to a show today. I was really impressed with all of them.”
Petey has competed at a few Novice competitions so feels confident in tomorrow’s jumping phase for the 4-year-old. “I just went out and walked the jumping phases for tomorrow and it looks like a lot of fun. He should go out and there and he should hopefully be prepared. He is a good jumper, so I am looking forward to it.”
Holly Payne Caravella and Mary Bancroft’s Dito 16, a German Sport Horse gelding (Dr. Jackson D x Kassandra) earned a 24.72 for second place. Payne Caravella and Dito 16 were the USEA American Eventing Championships Beginner Novice Horse Reserve Champions last month so should be well-prepared for the jumping and gallop tomorrow.
Just 0.02 behind is Mike Pendleton and Esprit de Jaguar – one of his four rides of the day. The 4-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Jaguar Mail x Rising Spirit) is owned by Denise Lahey and Boyd Martin and was bred in the U.S. by Stony Brook Farm.
Starting at 7:44 a.m. the 5-year-olds strutted their stuff in the main arena, but it was Butt’s Aria W who impressed the judges the most to lead the 36-horse division on a 24.59.
“I am in a very fortunate position right now as Boyd’s injured, so I am getting to ride a lot of his up-and-coming horses,” explained Pendleton on how he got the ride on Brandye Randerman’s Hanoverian mare. “We are very grateful that Brandye purchased the horse from Germany earlier this year. She is impeccably bred by the famous Butts breeding station that has been famous for some of Andreas Dibowski’s horses – this mare is by Nobre XX who is the same sire as Nobilis (Chris Burton’s great partner) and by a Heraldik mother. She has it all. She oozes with class, jump, and conformation. I am feeling strong going into tomorrow.”
“We have a great partnership going and I am learning a lot helping to produce these horses,” concluded Pendleton.
Sitting in second is Betterthanexpected, The Admiral Partnership’s Thoroughbred gelding (Malibu Moon x The Best Day Ever), who Joanie Morris rode to a 24.35.
In a tie for third on a 24.29 is another Thoroughbred, Not Ours (Cherokee’s Boy x Ketubah), owned by Nicole Scherrer and ridden by Erin Sylvester, and Cerafino D, a Holsteiner of unknown breeding ridden by Andrea Davidson and owned by Carl Segal and Kathleen Cuca.
The jumping and gallop phases get underway at 8:00 a.m. with the 4-year-olds up first. Follow along with the live scoring 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 United States Eventing Association (USEA) American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are the pinnacle of the season for many eventers – a goal that they strive towards year round, hoping for the chance to test their mettle against the best riders in the country.
If you’ve been to any of my recent clinics, you are probably familiar with the centerline exercise featured here. It is a staple to my program for several reasons, the main one being that it is suitable for horses and riders of all levels. While the exercise is fairly basic on paper, it is quite effective in teaching the rider about two important concepts: inside leg to outside rein and using your leg before your hand.
The USEA is sad to share that the 2008 Olympic Silver medalist, McKinlaigh, was laid to rest last Saturday, January 18 in Templeton, California at the age of 26.
Since the start of the USEA Classic Series in 2008, Classic Series competitors have had the chance to earn twice the amount of USEA leaderboard points than a recognized horse trial. The reason behind this is because a Classic Series event is considered “a more challenging competition than that of a horse trial."