Aug 03, 2015

Evaluating the Future and Young Event Horse Program With Professional Breeder & Amateur Rider, Elizabeth Callahan

Elizabeth Callahan and Balmoral at the 2009 USEA YEH East Coast Championships. USEA/Josh Walker Photo.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA.

Elizabeth Callahan is behind the Cool Na Grena Sporthorses breeding operation that specializes in producing Oldenburg Sporthorses for all disciplines. In 2009 Callahan received the USEF Leading Eventing Breeder award and has since then continued to produce a few of Eventing’s leading upper-level horses. Her success is undeniable in the breeding industry and she has additionally been well recognized as an owner and rider in the USEA Future and Young Event Horse programs.

Callahan began breeding horses close to 30 years ago and started experimenting with pairing mares and stallions together by simply choosing horses that she would want to ride herself. In 2005, she rode in her first Young Event Horse competition with one of her homebreds and has continued over the years to either ride her horses herself at the competitions or pass them along to a professional to ride. No matter how she is participating, it is always a thrill.

“I love showcasing my own horses that I’ve produced,” Callahan explains. I’m by no means a professional rider and although there are always many professionals competing in these divisions, it’s very suitable for amateur riders like me that have a full-time job and still want to compete and be competitive. I find the qualifiers to be very doable and the championships to be a bit more challenging, which is a good thing! It’s fun to evaluate our horses against their peers that are the same age and around the same experience level.”

One of the main purposes of the program is to select and identify what will make a successful, upper-level contender from both a conformation and technical standpoint. Callahan continues, “It’s so easy to pick out a beautiful jumper and an exceptional mover, but we can’t measure heart. Heart is what truly separates a successful 4* event horse from the rest.”

For the program to continue in the future, advice and suggestions from those involved directly in the program are vital so that it can continue to improve. Callahan says, “For me and other adult amateurs, it’s hard for us to have a 4-year-old that is prepared for solid Novice courses and 5-year-olds that are easily competing and Training level and getting ready to move-up to Preliminary. To encourage even more participants, I would love to have a division for 4-year-olds that are ready for Beginner Novice and are being evaluated for success at the 1* level.”

Callahan continues, “I think it would be beneficial for the sport to continue to watch the successful horses that go from winning in the Future and Young Event Horse divisions and then continue to be successful at the 2* and 3* level. We must pay attention to this to continue to understand what makes that internationally competitive Event horse.”

With many years of showing as an amateur under her belt, Callahan offers advice to those non-pro riders that have youngsters they would like to showcase. “Relax and have fun! Know that the judges are going to be lenient with mistakes here and there with the young horses. They’re very forgiving when it comes to balance issues, if they don’t jump in perfect form or if you don’t have that perfectly round circle in the dressage ring. You’re there to show off the young horse that you’ve produced so don’t be intimidated by the pros. As an amateur, you can be just as successful.”

To learn more about Callahan and her program, please visit her website at:

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