Seven horses that have graduated from the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse Program (YEH) are entered to compete in the toughest event in North America: The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Kentucky on April 25-29. Read on below to learn more about the YEH alumni competing at the prestigious CCI4*.
#51 - Cooley Cross Border, a poster boy for USEA’s YEH program, is currently one of the strongest competing horses in the country. Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border (aka Cross) have racked up numerous victories including last year’s win at the Blenheim CCI3*. Prior to Severson's win aboard Coss, Blenheim had not been won by an American pair for over 20 years.
From the start of Cross’s career, Severson has successfully piloted the dark bay Irish Sport Horse (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz) through the ranks of eventing on a national and global scale.
Coming off a second-place finish at The Fork CIC3*, this international superstar has finished within the top three 47 times. Out of those 47 top-three finishes, 28 are wins! This winning record is something most people only dream of, however for this pair, winning seems to be in their blood. Severson and Cross are an unstoppable force that first originated in 2012 with a second-place finish (on a final score of 85.43) in the 5-year-old YEH division at Waredeca Farm. After their first YEH competition, they went on to win the YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships at Fair Hill, declaring them the 2012 USEA YEH East Coast Champions.
#8 - Another 2012 graduate, Tsetserleg (or Thomas for short) will make his Kentucky debut with Boyd Martin in the irons. Tsetserleg is a jet black Trakehner (Windfall x Thabana), owned by Christine Turner and bred by Timothy Holekamp; this horse could be considered a lovechild of USEA’s YEH Program. Holekamp and Turner are generous supporters of the YEH program and are responsible for the Holekamp/Turner Lion d’Angers Grant.
At 15.3 hands, this YEH graduate is a small yet mighty powerhouse. In 2012, Thomas was shown the ropes of eventing at the Longwood Farm YEH 5-year-old division with rider Cristin Stoop guiding him to a fourth-place finish.
Martin and Thomas started their strong partnership in 2016. Since Martin acquired the horse, staying true to his Olympic style – Thomas’s cross-country jump record is nearly flawless.
#39 - Truly Wiley and Kelly Prather are coming back full force in their second appearance at Kentucky. With a successful completion last year, this pair already has one four-star completion on their record. From his first YEH competition to his first four-star, Prather has been Truly Wiley’s rider since day one.
This pair started their career in 2011, where they placed seventh in the YEH 4-year-old division at Rebecca Farm. Bred by Bruce Davidson Sr. and owned by Prather, Truly Wiley, a full Thoroughbred (Salute The Truth x Cheers of A Loss), possesses the classic components of a four-star horse: elegance, power, and stamina.
#52 - One might consider our next graduate an overachiever of the YEH program. Covert Rights competed in both YEH 4-year-old and 5-year-old competitions, including a win in Waredeca Farm’s YEH 5-year-old division with an impressive score of 81.5. A 2011 graduate, Covert Rights has been shown the levels of eventing by his rider, Colleen Rutledge. Rider, owner, and breeder, Rutledge has successfully guided the bay Thoroughbred gelding (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get it Right) from birth to four-star. Fun fact: Covert Rights also has a small percentage of Clydesdale in his breeding!
Covert Rights is one of the two horses in this field of graduates to have completed Burghley, arguably one of the toughest four-stars in the world. Not only did Rutledge and Covert Rights complete Burghley, but they jumped clean to land them within the top 25. This team continues their overachieving ways with recent wins at Morven Park CIC3*, Richland Park CIC3*, and Maryland H.T. CIC2*.
#18 - Three shining stars graduated from the class of 2011, and Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 are the final ones. Last but certainly not least, this elegant pair brings girl power to the highest level of eventing. Indy 500, a bay Thoroughbred mare (Cromwell x Tens of Thousands) already has a Kentucky four-star completion under her belt. Similar to her classmate, Truly Wiley, both made their first Kentucky appearance last year and are coming back for their second. Last year’s top 25 finish at the Blenheim CCI3* proved they could be successful on international turf. Their latest outing resulted in a third-place finish in the CIC3* at Galway Downs International.
Showing potential at an early age, Baxter and Indy 500 competed in a total of five YEH competitions and always placed within the top four! This mighty mare represents the finest features of a Thoroughbred: the brain, the heart, and the strength to compete at the four-star level.
#22 - Out of this field of graduates, High Times (aka Billy), holds the most experience when it comes to Kentucky performances. With each Kentucky appearance resulting in a completion, this year Jennifer McFall and High Times are looking to complete their third Kentucky four-star event. Owned by the High Times Syndicate and ridden by Jennifer McFall, this team started off their successful career by never earning a YEH score lower than 80. Their first YEH competition, Billy finished on a notable score of 87.55 at Twin Rivers, and then went on to place third at the 2009 USEA YEH West Coast Championships.
The 16.3 hand, American bred Holsteiner (Hunter x Gerda I) turned dreams into reality for McFall with their first completion of Kentucky in 2014. Four years later and their partnership continues to remain strong, with wins at almost every level and a top-25 finish at Kentucky last year.
#36 - By winning both YEH 4-year-old competitions he entered in, Landioso, a 2006 graduate, met success at an early age. As a pioneer for the YEH program, Landioso and his then rider, Michele Pestl, received first place in the Lincoln Creek YEH 4-year-old division and first place in the Event at Rebecca Fam YEH 4-year-old division. With two wins under his belt before the age of 5, Landioso set a high standard for years to come.
Mackenna Shea acquired Landioso, the 16.2 Bavarian Warmblood (Legender I x Aspen), in 2007 and since then they have formed an incredible partnership. Traveling from coast to coast, North and South, Canada, and Europe, this pair has experienced eventing in a wide variety of settings.
Still holding dear to those high standards, Landioso and Shea will make their third Kentucky appearance together. With a Burghley completion and Kentucky completion, Landioso and Shea have proven that they can play among the best of the best at the highest levels of eventing.
The USEA would like to wish the seven YEH graduates the best of luck at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event!
About the USEA Young Event Horse Program
The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the three- and four-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to view the jumping standards and specifications.
Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.