For many competitors, finishing a traditional long format event is major bucket list item. Waredaca Farm and the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event make that dream possible by offering Novice, Training and Preliminary USEA Classic Series divisions between their two competitions. Participating in a USEA Classic Series event keeps the tradition and history of the sport alive, and gives competitors an opportunity to experience the original layout of eventing. After months of conditioning, riders from up and down the East Coast came together at these events to give a traditional long format event their best effort.
At Waredaca Horse Trials in Laytonsville, Md., it was Nanette Schumaker & La Cosa Nostra and Kristen Parris & Untouchable who came out on top, while Michael Willham & Ferhnhill Cayenne and Lauren Kieffer & Landmark’s Mochachino dominated at the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event in Lexington, Ky.
Schumaker and her longtime partner La Cosa Nostra have ridden a rollercoaster of experiences in recent years, all leading to this high point at Waredaca as they led a victory gallop with a shiny blue ribbon, winning the Training Three-Day division.
“’Kozi’ and I have had some rocky moments over the years . . . broken collarbone, eliminations at a ditch, at a down bank, etc., but I am a testament of hard work self-belief and determination,” Schumaker affirmed. “I just never gave up believing that Kozi was a special horse.”
Nanette Schumaker with her coach, Sharon White. Photo via Sharon White's Facebook page.
Special indeed. The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood was in fourth after dressage with a score of 30.60, and moved into the lead after two flawless jump rounds. “I was really surprised with the win. My entire focus for 2016 was to qualify for [The USEA American Eventing Championships] and then go to the Three-Day. It has been a magical year,” she explained.
After being named Master Training Amateur Reserve Champion at AEC, Schumaker switched her focus to Waredaca. “I was concerned that because I was so focused on the AECs that I had waited too late to start conditioning. In the end, it was exhilarating! I was so proud of Kozi. He gave me everything he had, and tried his little heart out for me.”
Kozi and Schumaker rose to the occasion this weekend, besting the rest of this 36-pair division. In the Training Three-Day there were many clear cross-country rounds, 19 of those being double clear, but rails were easily had in the final show jumping, which caused a sizeable shuffle to the leaderboard of this very competitive class.
Also celebrating a great weekend at Waredaca is Kristen Parris after piloting her best friend Tricia Capone’s Untouchable to a wire-to-wire win the Novice Three-Day division. Parris picked up the ride on “Monte” this summer when Capone became pregnant with her second child.
“I thought the long format would be a really good test for him,” Parris said. “I’ve done it with three other horses and they’ve all come out better because of it.” The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood preformed like a polished professional all weekend, adding nothing to his dressage score of 25.9 for the win.
She added, “This was ideal for Monte. The steeplechase set him up perfectly for the cross-country. We got into a really good rhythm, and he just stayed there. It was an incredible feeling as he was just galloping with ease.”
Kristen Parris, Tricia Capone and Untouchable. Photo courtesy of Kristen Parris.
“My favorite part has to be competing my best friend’s horse and having my best friend by my side every step of the way. I feel very blessed that we can share all this together. I feel lucky that she lets me ride her pretty boy!” Parris smiled.
The Novice Three-Day division was even bigger than its Training level counterpart. Out of the 37 starters, impressively there were impressively 22 double clear cross-country rounds, and 17 of those also had a double clear show jumping rounds the following day, proving Parris and Monte were up against a very stout group of horses and riders.
While Schumaker and Parris were holding their own in Maryland, Willham and Keiffer earned their own top honors in Kentucky.
Willham and his own Fernhill Cayenne, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, returned to the Kentucky Horse Park as reigning champions, having won the Training Three-Day at this event in 2015, and they cleaned up again, wrapping up their whirlwind year with this Preliminary Three-Day win.
After their many successes at Training level last year, the pair made the step up to Preliminary this spring, winning their first event at the level. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, and they battled some miscommunications over the summer, but ultimately conquered two CIC* events this fall in preparation for their long format event.
Michael Willham and Fernhill Cayenne. Photo by JJ Sillman.
“I can do a CCI* at plenty of places, but this was my only chance to do the Preliminary Three-Day,” Willham remarked on his choice to do another long format rather than a final CCI. “I obviously have a fantastic horse, but I also take pride in my commitment and dedication to the sport. I did a lot of conditioning and preparation for this. I think that’s where the results come from. I think that’s why I picked the three-day, because it can really weed out and show whether or not you’ve put in all the effort. It has that special effect of really finding if there are any cracks in the preparation.”
“In the back of my mind there was also a little nagging, competitive voice that wanted to see if I could make back-to-back long format wins!” he joked.
Willham and Cayenne held their lead from the very beginning, earning a 27.4 in dressage – to which Willham attributes to their time at pure dressage shows this summer – and picked up just 1.2 time penalties on Phase D of endurance day to win by a five-point margin.
Michael Willham and Fernhill Cayenne. Photo by Photography In Stride.
“[The most memorable] moment had to be once I cleared that last show jump and gave the last little squeeze to get through the finish flags in show jumping. I threw my arms around him because I was just so proud of how absolutely fantastic he was all weekend. I started riding too late to make it to Young Riders, so to me this was my own personal championship,” he added.
The Preliminary Three-Day was certainly a big test for horse and rider combinations. Only half this field completed the event, and of those who did, no one finished on their dressage score, picking up at least one rail or a handful of time penalties. This was a hard-fought win for Willham and Cayenne, speaking volumes about their preparation for the event.
The story was a bit different for this venue’s Training Three-Day. This ultra-prepared 44-member division saw very few jumping penalties, so Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Mochachino had to pull out a perfect performance in each phase to earn their blue ribbon.
The pinto-colored warmblood is a homebred of huge U.S. Eventing supporter, Jacqueline Mars, who is also his current owner. Only a 5-year-old, Mochachino arrived in Kentucky after a successful showing at the USEA East Coast Young Event Horse Championships two weeks before where he finished in sixth place.
Lauren Kieffer and Landmark's Mochachino. Photo by Photography In Stride.
“He’s by Maxamillion out of Tyrell and was born and raised at Landmark Stables in Virginia,” Kieffer explained. “He’s a true graduate of the YEH program, having done the [USEA Future Event Horse] as a 3-year-old and the YEH competitions as a 4- and 5-year-old.”
Mochachino didn’t put a foot out of place all weekend. He was awarded a 23.80 in the dressage, which gave him a six-point lead going into endurance day, where he jumped clear. On the final day of competition, Kieffer piloted him to a second faultless round for the overall victory.
The Landmark Young Event Horse Program carefully brings up their young horses with a network of talented riders to help them achieve their best. “My excellent assistant rider Jess Brumfield competed him with a lot of top placings since he was four, and I took the ride this summer. He’s very mature for his age, so I thought [a long format event] would be very educational,” Kieffer said.
“He handled the weekend very well. He grew up a lot, and it told me a lot about him. I believe he’s going to grow up into a top horse. He will make the move up to preliminary next year, and we will take our time letting him develop at that level,” she continued.
The history and traditions of eventing are kept alive each year thanks to the many efforts of the organizing and volunteer staff at Waredaca Three-Day and the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event, and all the competitors who spend many weeks preparing for this true test of endurance! The United States is one of the very few countries in the world who still supports the long format through the USEA Classic Series, and everyone’s dedication and hard work is a testament to their love of the sport.
About the USEA Classic Series
The thrill of the 'chase lives on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic format three-day event!
Long-format events from the Preliminary to Beginner Novice levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. Educational activities are offered at the Classic Series Events.
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