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 United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.
Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.
Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.
Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.
Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.