While the U.S. Eventing Team was winning team silver at the FEI Eventing World Championship in Pratoni, Italy, the future of U.S. eventing was being discovered on day two of the USEA FEH East Coast Championships, with two more FEH champions crowned for the 2 and 4-year-old Championship divisions.
Marcia Brody's Cleveland Bay Magnific Coco Chanel (Magnific Cimon x Duckling) won the Two-Year-Old Filly Championship and Overall Two-Year-Old Championship with 86.775. The filly was bred by Magnific Sporthorses, a Cleveland Bay sporthorse breeder.
"I was surprised and gratified," said Brody. "I've been breeding these horses for probably 20 years with the goal of developing a legitimate upper-level event horse with a bit of Cleveland Bay in the mix. I think that was recognized with Coco today. When I worked for a veterinarian, I met one of his clients who was an international rider who had a couple of Cleveland Bays, and I found out how endangered they were."
Soon after meeting that rider, Brody acquired a Cleveland Bay mare and a stallion and developed her breeding program around the Cleveland Bay and champions the breed in various disciplines.
The winner of the Two-Year-Old Colts/Geldings Championship was Kai Bradley's Linq, a Friesian/American Quarter Horse cross gelding, with an 83.8, which landed him in third place overall for two-year-olds.
This year was Bradley's first experience with FEH. She has previously participated in USEA's New Event Horse (NEH) program. "I recently purchased my horse from an auction in May. He turned 2 in June. When I saw him on the video, I purchased him online, believe it or not. I wasn't even there! When I saw him, I thought, 'this is going to be a great FEH horse.' So here we are! It's been a great journey. We've had a great time and he's been a pleasure, an absolute pleasure.
"In the end, we'd like to event him. [I want] a wonderful amateur mount and truly enjoy him," said Bradley of her long-term goals with Linq. "Maybe next year [we will do the] 3-year-olds. That would be the plan."
Jamie Leuenberger and N'Chantress (Toronto x Gremlin N Gold), a Dutch Warmblood filly, took home top honors for the Four-Year-Old Filly Championship and Overall Four-Year-Old Championship with 87.538. "We've been coming to the Future Event Horse Championships every year with her, so I really thought it would be something fun to do this year. Every time we've come, it's never quite been her weekend, so it's really nice for it to finally be her moment," said Leuenberger. "Next year, I'd love to get her to horse trials and see how she goes. I want to make sure I take it slow and give her the best experience possible."
The winner of the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) Award as the highest scoring Thoroughbred of the weekend was Miss Roxy, a 4-year-old filly, owned by Monica Fiss. The highest-scoring U.S.-born horse was VVS Aniyah, owned and handled by Bill Payne.
Judges Stephen Bradley and Katie Rocco are relatively new to the FEH world but not to judging or competing in eventing and dressage. While this was Stephen Bradley's first time judging an FEH Championship, he is a well-known and respected eventing rider. He has represented the U.S. at the Olympic and World Equestrian Games, won Burghley CCI4* and ridden around the Kentucky Three-Day Event three times.
"It was all the way around a very positive and fun experience for me, being new to this," Bradley said. "I enjoyed the competitors and thought the quality of the horses we saw was wonderful. It was fun to talk to some of the trainers, meet other judges, talk to the handlers and learn from them. I think this is a really important program that we need to keep developing and getting people and breeders interested in because it serves a real important purpose for this country."
The long-term goal for the FEH program is to develop horses who can reach the four and five-star eventing levels. "We need to let people know what this is all about so they don't get discouraged," Rocco said. The judges also recognize that eventing at the grassroots level is key to keeping the sport thriving.
"We saw some very nice babies. What's so fun about this too is I try to keep track of these horses, so down the line, you start to see them come up," Rocco said. "This isn't a crystal ball, you can look at a horse that isn't correct or didn't score so high, but for some reason, it has the heart or the tenacity or really good training to move on. I think we keep seeing that, more and more, the breeding in the United States is starting to work."
Find the 2022 USEA FEH East Coast Championships digital event program here.
Find the Championship results 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.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
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