The first Hylofit USEA Classic Series Three-Day Event of the 2019 season took place last month at the Fresno County Horse Park (FCHP) Horse Trials in Fresno, California. While five-star riders were busy galloping over the bluegrass at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, riders at FCHP were experiencing the thrill of endurance day, complete with the roads and tracks and steeplechase phases of the old long format three-day events. Anna Nowak and Kendra Mitchell both put in dominant performances, leading their divisions wire-to-wire to take home the first Classic Series wins of the year.
Kendra Mitchell and Russian Roulette (Count Me In x Viva Evita), her own 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, started the weekend off with a commanding dressage test, scoring a 31.5 to take the early lead in the Training Three-Day. The pair incurred no faults on endurance day and jumped a double clear show jumping round on Sunday to walk away with the win.
Mitchell is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, having ridden in pure dressage and pure show jumping as well as eventing. “I grew up riding at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley, California after doing a summer camp there in elementary school,” Mitchell explained. “My coaches, Marie Hudson and Summer Hensley, got me into eventing.” Mitchell attended UC Davis, where she was on the Three-Day Event Team, and competed at the California Dressage Society JR/YR Championships five times, riding up through 4th Level. “Getting to work with coaches specializing in different disciplines has been invaluable to my riding.”
Mitchell said that Russian Roulette, aka “Liam,” “checked none of the boxes” for her on paper, but she fell in love with him the first time she sat on him. An off-the-track Thoroughbred who had never raced, Mitchell acquired Liam as a 3-year-old. “With the help of a lot of people - specifically Summer, Bec Braitling, Peter McGregor, and Lynae Ormsby - we somehow managed to take him from an awkward, gangly baby who had never jumped under saddle to a competitive eventer!”
The Training Three-Day at FCHP is one step on the path Mitchell has laid out to get them to the Training Three-Day at Rebecca Farm this summer. “I wanted to make sure that we knew what we were doing beforehand, and the FCHP Training Three-Day was the perfect opportunity to do that,” she said. “We're also planning to move up to Preliminary at the Spring Woodside Horse Trials at the end of May, so this was a good half-step.”
“Liam and I had a blast on steeplechase and cross-country, and it was so cool to have such a supportive and fun team out there helping with Liam all weekend,” Mitchell said. “It was super fun to get all cleaned up for jogs as well, especially with the inspiration of Kentucky going on at the same time.”
Anna Nowak and Fleeceworks Ghost (Shannondale Sarco x Riverlon Mist), her own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, had a similarly successful weekend as Mitchell and Russian Roulette in the Novice Three-Day. The pair scored a 29.2 to sit in first after dressage, had a faultless ride across the country on Saturday, and wrapped the weekend with a double-clear show jumping round to take home the blue ribbon.
Nowak, who has been riding since she was 9 years old, didn’t start eventing until high school. “I started taking lessons at Copper Meadows [in Ramona, California] and when I saw riders out schooling on their cross-country course, I knew I had to try it! I've been addicted ever since.”
Fleeceworks Ghost is a new ride for Nowak, who purchased her from Tamra and Kaylawna Smith earlier this year. “They've done such a great job producing her and giving her a solid foundation; it's a lot of fun to be able to hop on her and just go,” Nowak said. “I am fortunate to get to develop a partnership with such a talented and willing mare and am looking forward to what our future brings.”
The Novice Three-Day was only Nowak and Ghost’s second event as a team, but Nowak has always wanted to compete in a Classic Series event and wasn’t going to pass up the chance. “I've always wanted to try one, but the timing has never worked out right,” she shared. “I was really excited to try everything for the first time – steeplechase, jog outs, roads and tracks. Fresno provided the perfect atmosphere to learn since they offered educational sessions before the start of the competition and explained what to do at each point during the competition.”
“Steeplechase was both Ghost's and my favorite part of the competition,” Nowak said. “We both had a blast on endurance day and loved getting to do some extra cross-country jumping and galloping.”
Both Mitchell and Nowak had the same advice to give to anyone considering a Classic Series event: “Definitely do it!”
“Not only was it one of the most exciting and fun competitions I've done, it's also extremely educational,” Mitchell continued. “We were lucky enough to have Gina Miles spend the majority of her day teaching us the ins and outs of the long format. I think most venues host educational events beforehand, so make sure you go to those and pay attention!”
“Don't let a lack of knowledge about long format events hold you back from trying it out,” Nowak said. “The eventing community is very friendly and willing to answer any questions throughout the competition.”
“I want to extend a huge thank you to John Marshall, Christina Gray, and Gina Miles (and all the other volunteers!) for all of their time and effort into making the three-day happen. We are so lucky to have a long format event in Northern California, and it was such a fantastic experience. I can't wait for the next one!”
About the Hylofit USEA Classic Series
The Hylofit USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long format three-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long format three-day event. Riders who compete in a Hylofit USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.
Now available to purchase, the Hylofit system hit the marketplace in 2018. The Hylofit system is the only equine wearable to offer in-ride feedback for horse and rider. Hylofit’s state-of-the-art product is designed to maximize communication between horse and rider, improve training results, and promote the overall health and well-being of the horse. Hylofit unique features include real-time feedback, post-ride insights, rider insights, overall well-being of the horse and rider, zone training, sharing features, video features, weather impact features, and more. The Hylofit system that tracks both horse and rider’s heart rate is comprised of four hardware components, an app for iOS or Android, and an optional app for the iWatch.
Hylofit is generously providing a 10 percent discount for Hylofit products to all USEA Classic Series competitors! Hylofit will also provide 11 Hylofit systems to the high scorers of each USEA Classic Series event at the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
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Over the previous decade, the number of upper level event horses that remain at the highest levels of the sport for extended periods of time has anecdotally been dwindling. Also, it is rare to see horses return to represent the U.S. on international teams. This discussion features statistics provided by the USEA and EquiRatings to strengthen our understanding of this issue and perspectives from coaches, trainers, riders, grooms, and veterinary professionals on the possible reasons and solutions.
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