The bright autumn leaves and the early morning fog helped set the scene for Halloween as well as the final day of competition on Saturday in the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, CA.
The YEH 4-year-old’s were the first to contest the course around the misty morning track that included the jumping/galloping test. Judges Chris Ryan and Debbie Adams were tasked with evaluating 10 promising 4-year-olds and 12 5-year-olds.
Quinn HSR (Quarterback x Bonne Chance) and Kaylawna Smith led the way through the fog to complete the Championship on top. The Oldenburg gelding is owned and bred by Anita Nardine. Smith, who broke the horse herself, has had him for less than a year. “I was super proud of him,” says Smith, “We know he is a very special horse and to see him blossom and then come out here and really show what he can do has been really fun.” The pair finished on a score of 84.20.
Taking home the Reserve Champion title in the YEH 4-year-old Championship was Rebecca Braitling aboard Michlynn Sterling’s, Dutch Warmblood gelding Musquito (Fly x Silona). The pair trailed the leader by just 0.1 of a point finishing on a score of 84.10. Braitling also navigated Sterling's Irish Sport Horse gelding Gaelic Gamble (Island Commander x Marlton Dusk) to third place with a score of 82.00.
Amber Birtcil, a force to be reckoned with when it comes to young horse competition, once again captured this year’s YEH 5-year-old title with Cellar Farm Corp's Lex D (Freeman VDL x Berber). Finishing on a score of 92.90, the imported Dutch Warmblood gelding produced the highest conformation score of the class.
The Reserve Champion in the YEH 5-year-old Championship was taken by Andrea Baxter and her Dutch Warmblood gelding Liefhebber (Connect x Vrijbuiter) who moved up from third place overnight with a score of 92.30, just 0.6 points off the leader. Third place honors went to Kaylawna Smith and Marcella Ashton's German Sport Horse mare AEV Zara on a score of 91.30.
The excitement wasn’t over as the focus turned to the FEH 3-year-olds & 4-year-olds. Twelve promising youngsters were put through the jump chute to show their potential as event horses and to make their final mark on the judges.
Returning 2020 FEH 2-year-old champion, RSH Goliath (Gringo-Gallipoli x Sam’s Girl) handily took top honors in the 3-year-old Championship with a score of 80.30 for owner Michelle Cameron Donaldson. “It’s such a thrill to win again,” said Donaldson, “He’s such an amazing horse, I am so blessed to have him."
This is the Hanoverian gelding's third time competing in the FEH Championships and his first outing was a bit of a last-minute opportunity. "We bought him sight unseen. He was transported here [to Twin Rivers] where we were going to pick him up. We decided last minute to throw him in the yearling class that year. It was the first time he had been off the farm. We pulled his mane and showed him and he was completely calm.“
The Holsteiner/Thoroughbred cross mare NSF Cassiopeia (Chiron x Be A Star) earned Reserved Champion for owner/handler, Rylin Clarke. Third place went to Warmblood mare Idaho’s Icewater (Ciceras Icewater x Addie) who was handled by her owner Tanya Adamson.
As the last class of the 2021 FEH Championship, the very well-mannered group of 4-year-olds horses returned to show their prowess in the jump chute. Charlotte Freeman was pleasantly surprised when her Oldenburg/Hanoverian cross mare Graceland’s Ladera (Libero Star x Rittersporn) moved up several placings to take the Championship with a final score of 85.30. “She has the best personality, she is just super fun,” said Freeman, “I am thrilled that she is clearly super talented and has upper-level potential.”
The Reserve Champion ribbon was awarded to Louise Leslie and her Hanoverian gelding Cnick Cnack JJM (Comte x Estefania) with a score of 83.60. In third was Mell Freeman’s Holsteiner gelding LeFabulous J (LaMarque x Jo Be Fantastic) handled by Kaylawna Smith with a score of 80.20.
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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 aged four and five 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 four- and five-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 learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Premium Western Forage, Parker Equine Insurance, Etalon Diagnostics, and Saratoga Horseworks for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
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.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, Parker Equine Insurance, SmartPak, Standlee Premium Western Forage, and Etalon Diagnostics for sponsoring the Future Event Horse Program.
If you have been involved at a higher level with the USEA, you probably recognize the names of the two ladies that spearhead all of the efforts of the USEA’s Programs, Partnerships, and Marketing department: Kate Lokey, Director of Programs and Marketing, and Kaleigh Collett, Marketing Coordinator, but a new member of this team has also joined the USEA staff in Heather Johnson, Programs and Inventory Assistant. If you have considered advertising with the USEA or are involved in the USEA’s Young Event Horse, Emerging Athletes U21, New Event Horse, Adult Riders, Young Riders, Classic Series, or Grooms programs, you probably have or most likely will interact with one of these staff members.
The countdown to competition is on as 13 colleges and universities converge on the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina, for the 2023 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship! This Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28, a total of 89 entries and 24 teams will go head-to-head to compete for the Intercollegiate Eventing Championship title and the coveted Spirit Award.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors (BOG) recently approved a change to the USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) levels.
In 2021, the ECP, then known as the Instructors Certification Program, changed levels to align with FEI competition levels. Since then, the ECP Committee has learned that having certification levels that included more than one competition level was making it difficult for coaches to achieve eligibility to obtain certification at Level I and II due to the requirement that a coach have at least three students competing at the top level of certification.