The second day of the Evaluation of the Young Event Horse Prospect Symposium built upon the first with the focus moving to 4- and 5-year-olds. Marilyn Payne began the morning with an exciting announcement that Denis Glaccum and Didi Callahan have secured donations for a minimum commitment of $1500 for the top American bred horse at the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championship and a second award that will be a minimum of $1000 to be awarded to the top American Thoroughbred at the East Coast YEH Championship. Ideally the funds will be raised for West Coast Awards as well and the USEA encourages any interested contributors to reach out.
Payne handed the microphone over to Kai-Steffen Meier, a top German event rider who is based on the German/Belgium border and is experienced with both country’s young horse series. The German system is the Bundeschampionat which is just for German-bred 5- and 6-year-olds and the horses qualify in special cross-country only classes plus a top placing in a full competition (1.00m for 5-year-olds and CIC*/CCI* for 6-year-olds). The Belgian system is open to horses 4- to 7-year-olds bred in any country and the horses qualify in classes that increase in difficulty throughout the year. Meier finds pros and cons with both systems and targets different horses at both Championships each year.
Meier is constantly sourcing and breeding young horses to develop into top horses for both himself and sale. When he looks at a young horse, Meier says he uses eight criteria to make the selection.
What horses are born with:
What the rider can improve:
What the rider has to train:
“If you find a horse with all eight aspects just buy it,” said Meier. “Don’t think about the price, just do it. It is rare to find a horse with all the criteria and you often have to decide which you can live with or without.”
Once Meier has selected a prospect or one he has bred is ready to be started he prescribes to the following: a 3-year-old is ridden three times per week, a 4-year-old is ridden four times per week and a 5-year-old is ridden five times per week. The 3-year-olds are ridden in sections with six week holidays every six weeks, and Meier says that it is kindergarten – not real training just playing around. The 4-year-olds go to small shows and may be aimed at the Belgian Championships if they are ready, but they still get extended holidays and go out with older horses to get leads over cross-country obstacles. The 5-year-old year is when the real training begins with light conditioning work, more technical cross-country schooling and true dressage and show jumping schools.
Although Meier has a set program he uses he says, “Not every horse develops in the same way and the same speed, and not every horse is meant to be a Champion. You can still produce a horse that someone can have a lot of fun with whether at the two-star level or lower levels. It is always better to go a bit too slow than just a bit too fast when training a horse.”
Payne then gave a presentation with tips on how to present your horse at YEH competitions. She went through each phase and some of her advice included:
Payne also thanked all the wonderful owners who have supported the YEH program as well as Dr. Tim Holekamp and Christine Turner for their grant which allowed Debbie Adams to take her horse, D.A. Duras to Le Lion d’Angers last fall. Adams gave a presentation during the lunch break sharing her experience with her trip and Duras’ results.
Dr. Daniel Marks concluded the classroom portion of the day with a talk about how conformation relates to horse movement, jumping ability and gallop. He used photos of competition horses to illustrate the parts of the horse used in jumping and how various conformational structures enabled or inhibited a horse to do its job. Dr. Marks also touched on what keeps a horse sound for a long career and he said, “the problem with a horse staying sound for a long time is not when you start them, but at the age that you start to show it at a very high level.”
The attendees then moved back over to Longwood for the demo riding portion led by Meier, Payne and Leslie Law. Several demo riders brought their young horses over and Meier evaluated them both on the flat and over fences. Law rode a 7-year-old who he believes has four-star potential and both explained and demonstrated why the horse was special. Law and Meier then rode young horses they had never been on before and went through the steps they take to evaluate a young horse and basic training advice. The riding portion then concluded with an evaluation of gallop by several of the demo horses.
Interesting tidbits Meier and Law shared included:
The Symposium was packed full of information over the two days and attendees were treated to a wealth of knowledge from a variety of expert sources. The judges return on Wednesday for training and to continue to develop both the YEH and FEH programs. Thank you to the Ocala Jockey Club and Longwood Farm for hosting as well as all of the wonderful panelists.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is humbled to announce the return of long-time partner The Dutta Corporation as the “Title Sponsor of the 2023 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships,” which include the East Coast Championships at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in Elkton, Maryland, on Oct. 19-20 and the West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, on Oct. 27-28.
When Team SmartPak Rider Silva Martin saddles up, it’s always with a helmet. Silva’s riding career has taken her from Germany all across the world before she settled in the United States in 2007—well before helmets were popular in dressage. When the traditional top hat ruled the dressage ring, riders often schooled in baseball caps or nothing at all.
Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington, served as the beautiful backdrop for this year’s USEA Area VII Championships. In total, there were 11 championship divisions offered from the Beginner Novice level through Intermediate, in addition to the event’s regular horse trial divisions. USEA President Lou Leslie was onsite to lend a helping hand and help issue awards during the prize-giving ceremonies. Meet the 11 new USEA Area VII Champions below!
The USEA is sad to report that Mr. Medicott (Cruising x Slieveluachra) passed away on September 17 at Ms. Jacqueline Mars’ Stonehall Farm in Virginia where he has enjoyed his retirement since 2019. The Irish Sport Horse gelding made quite the mark on the sport of eventing in the U.S., completing more than 50 FEI events over the course of his career with five different riders and finishing in the top 10 at 30 of those competitions. Mr. Medicott attended two Olympic Games and one World Equestrian Games for two different countries over the course of his career. “Cave,” as he was known around the barn, was 24 years old at the time of his death.