Four new USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) West Coast Champions were crowned today at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, but they have more in common than just being FEH Champions – they were all bred in America and every one of their dams were successful event horses.
Judges Peter Gray and Chris Ryan evaluated 22 horses across the four ages: yearling, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old. “It was a great day and I am happy there is so much enthusiasm for the program out on the West Coast,” said Gray. “You would love to see a handful of horses that can go to the very top, but if you can get one or two like you did today it is an exciting program.”
“We saw some lovely young horses here today,” added Ryan. “It is so essential that the breeders are producing the right horses that can go up the levels and here in California we saw some lovely examples of that.”
Both of the judges were very complimentary of the 4-year-old class and were excited to bestow the 4-year-old Champion title on Nite Life who earned a 78.0. Owned and shown by Chloe Smyth, the Thoroughbred gelding by Blaur Vogel and out of Happy Hour, was bred by Linda Paine.
Nite Life’s dam is full sister to the legendary Gin N Juice and has competed herself through the CCI2*-L level with Smyth. Paine decided to breed Happy Hour when she was off for a year with a splint, and Smyth purchased the gelding as a young horse. “I really wanted to keep one. I kept starting [all of Paine’s horses] and as soon they would get really good and start competing Preliminary they would get sold, and I wanted to keep one underneath me. I watched him since he was a baby.”
Nite Life had an exciting beginning to his life as he was born early out in the field so Paine transported him up to the barn in her Prius, which might contribute to his easy-going personality! “He makes it easy because he has a good brain for it, and he likes to learn. I think he will do a couple of Novices this fall and come out at Training next year,” said Smyth.
The 3-year-old Championship went to Iluminada, the Irish Sport Horse mare by Mighty Magic and out of La Patrona. Bred and owned by Ann Patton, Illuminada scored a 74.1 to successfully defend her title as she won the 2-year-old championship here last year.
“I am an amateur and I wanted to breed my mare, her mother, La Patrona, who I love very much,” explained Patton. “I consulted Earl and Jenn McFall and my trainer David Adamo and we decided on Mighty Magic [for the stallion] and this is the result.”
La Patrona competed through the CCI2*-L level with Adamo and is now being ridden at the Modified/Training level with Sarah March. Patton sent La Patrona to the McFalls to foal out and they have done everything with Illuminada since including starting her under saddle. “I am excited for her,” said Earl McFall. “You look at her and think she is going to be a little unimpressive, but then you watch her and you are like ‘nope – she is going to be impressive’. . . She reminds me a bit of a horse like McKinlaigh because everyone kind of doubted him because of the shape, but then every level he succeeded, and she has kind of been the same way. Defying the odds and winning at every level.”
Nsf Bye The Way earned her 2-year-old title with a 76.5. Randy and Kristi Nunnink’s Oldenburg mare (The Twain x R-Star) has eventing running deep through her veins as her dam competed at several five-stars and her sire is owned by the eventing power couple, Jenn and Earl McFall. When Kristi Nunnink decided to breed R-Star she wanted it to be to a Thoroughbred since she claimed R-Star was “always a lot of work to get fit. She was older when we got around to breeding her so we needed live semen and the McFalls were gracious enough to bring their Thoroughbred stallion to Davis and we bred her!”
Nunnink is planning to breed Nsf Bye The Way next year as well as getting her started under saddle. “Jillian Terzian has done all of the work with both of my young horses – I broke my neck in January so she has done everything with everyone all year,” explained Nunnink. “It is very exciting because her mother was so spectacular and started her career off winning and finished her career winning, so nice to have her daughter stepping up to the plate.”
Ferao DFEN has a double dose of talent as his mother was an eventer and his father an Olympic show jumper, and despite only being a yearling he is living up to his winning pedigree as he earned the highest score of the day – a 78.1 to take the Yearling Championship.
“He is out of a mare I evented through Preliminary and is the love of my life, and I really wanted to cross her with Flexible and for a long time I just couldn’t afford it, just couldn’t do it and I finally did get the opportunity and produced this colt and he has just come out exactly what I would have chosen to pick from both parents. My mare needed a little more gallop, a little more speed and he’s going to have that. She prettied up his head a little bit and he’s just been wonderful,” explained Sarah McCarthy of the Hanoverian colt (Flexible x Bella Patriot).
“It is a wonderful feeling [to see him win]. There is so much work and so many goals that we have. Anyone who breeds horses knows how many don’t turn out the way you want or just don’t show up on the day, and he really showed up today. I am really proud of him.”
The Born In America Award, which is presented to the highest scoring horse in the 3-year-old Championship that is American-bred, was given to Illuminada. The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) Award was won by Lisa Martin’s Tina Sparkle, a 3-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Animal Kingdom x Crimson Palace).
Stay tuned for the USEA FEH Central Championships which will be held at Snowdonia Farms in Tomball, Texas on September 26 and the USEA FEH East Coast Championships which will be held at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland on September 28-29. After the completion of all three Championships, the FEH National Awards presented by Guardian Horse Bedding will be awarded to the highest scoring yearling, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old. Each National Award winner will be given a $500 prize check as well as an engraved trophy courtesy of Guardian Horse Bedding. Learn more about the awards here. Champions will also earn the chance to win a Minipanel PLUS test from Etalon Diagnostics. Learn more about those prizes here.
Full scores from the USEA FEH West Coast Championships are available here.
About the USEA Future Event Horse Program
The USEA introduced the Future Event Horse Program in 2007 in response to the popularity of the already established USEA Young Event Horse Program. Where the YEH program assesses 4- and 5-year-old prospective event horses based on their performance, the FEH program evaluates yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. Yearlings, 2-year-olds, and 3-year-olds are presented in-hand while 4-year-olds are presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated on their conformation. Divisions are separated by year and gender. At the Championships, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential over fences in an additional free-jump division. Click here to learn more about the Future Event Horse Program.
On this episode of the Equiratings Eventing Podcast, show host Nicole Brown talks to Pan American Games gold medalist and U.S. team stalwart Boyd Martin about his career to date, highs and lows, and coming back from injury.
On Monday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, USEF will host a member webinar providing updates on the impacts of the case of EHV-1 (neurological) reported in Ocala, Florida. This case is similar in nature, but unrelated to the neurological strain of EHV-1 impacting Valencia (ESP) and other European countries.
As competitors rise through the levels, they often see the costs associated with competition rise and, unfortunately for most organizers, this can’t be avoided. With fewer competitors requiring more jumps, officials, footing management, etc., the expenses for running higher levels – especially FEI – are greater than lower levels.
Our sport is going to present you with many amazing opportunities, and some equally amazing challenges. While you’re sure to enjoy the opportunities, it sometimes takes a little more effort to enjoy the challenges. Contrary to the common misconception (from non-equestrians) that our sport is easy, it’s actually one of the hardest and most demanding sports of all!