Aug 31, 2023

Getting Noticed in Novice: Leaders Dance Into Position at the AEC

By Chelsea Lyn Agro - USEA | Press Release
Hannah Reeser and Ltl Ireland Summr Soldier. SDH Photography for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Lexington, Ky.—August 31— It was the first day of competition for Novice division riders in the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. A sunny and breezy day allowed them the opportunity to strut down the centerline and secure a solid foundation for their overall score.

USEA Novice Amateur Championship

Hannah Reeser rode down centerline aboard Ltl Ireland Summr Soldier (October Fox x Abby Darling), the 9-year-old bay Morgan mare owned by Virginia Reeser. A dressage score of 26.3 makes her today’s leading Novice Amateur rider.

“I think the lead up has gone pretty well. I wouldn’t say I was expecting to be in the lead coming out of dressage—we’ve been working on a few things, and it just hasn’t been perfect,” said Reeser. “She tends to come behind the vertical a lot so I’ve been working on getting her more out in front…I’m just glad it all came together.”

Traveling here from Whiteville, Tennessee, Reeser is pretty proud to have a fierce competitive mare underneath her. “I personally love [mares’] personalities. If you get along with them, they’ll do anything for you,” said Reeser. But that competitive nature doesn’t stop “Soldier” (aptly named from being born on Memorial Day) from being a total sweetheart in the barn. “She’s basically like a big dog in the barn—loves her cuddles, loves treats.”

Samantha Reinbold is close behind today’s leader by .4 of a point, making her score 26.7, aboard her own 6-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding Donald Drake (Diarado x Ninett). Mandolin Whitten is even closer on the heels of second place rider with a score of 26.8, aboard her own 12-year-old bay Hanoverian gelding, setting her up in third place position going into cross-country.

USEA Novice Junior Championship

Emerson Padgett and MSH Giant Jac’ka. Kate Hall for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Emerson Padgett earned a 24.9 in her dressage test today aboard her own 7-year-old chestnut Selle Francais gelding MSH Giant Jac’ka (Quebracho Semilly x Loupaline Du Haul). The Ohio-based pair competed at Cobblestone Farms Horse Trials earlier this month and brought home a win, ending on their dressage score of 21.9. Their eyes will be set on their cross-country trip tomorrow morning in an attempt to keep their lead.

In second-place standing with a score of 25.7 is Katie Johnson riding her own 14-year-old bay Thoroughbred gelding Darth Raider (Gray Raider x Amy’s Starr). And 0.1 of a second behind them is third-place rider Caroline Burkhardt aboard Erika Burkhardt’s 14-year-old bay Holsteiner mare Stonehavens dream (by Caricello).

USEA Novice Junior 15 & Under Championship

Kendal Fansler and Delilah's Boy. Kristin Lee for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Kendal Fansler claims to have ridden her best test yet on Hedgerow Farm’s Delilah’s Boy, the 13-year-old Connemara-cross gelding, earning a 28.3.

“He waited for me the whole test, just listened to everything I asked,” said Fansler, of Clarksville, Maryland. The pair have been working hard on preparing for cross-country so Fansler’s sights are already set on tomorrow’s course. “I’ve really been working on downhills. He likes to kind of pull down his nose and keep it down…we’ve just been working on our speed down hills.” She noted that she thinks it’ll go well with the correct preparation and support behind her. The pair had a first place win at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) earlier this summer, and they are enthusiastic about chasing another one here in Kentucky.

In second-place standing is Riley Mueller aboard Gemily, the 15-year-old bay Irish Sport Horse mare with a score of 29.7. And in third-place standing is Ashby Hunt riding 5-year-old chestnut Thoroughbred-Cleveland Bay mare Riot’s Fabulous (A Fine Romance x Simplicity), owned by Brighton Craig, with a score of 30.1.

USEA Novice Horse Championship

Elisa Gibbs and Cooley Valentine. Kristin Lee for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Kentucky native Elissa Gibbs received a 27.6 in today’s dressage test, and she’s pretty proud of how her gray 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley Valentine (OBOS Quality x Curraghgraigue Coevers Z) handled the lively atmosphere of this event.

“Any time you can get a young horse in atmosphere like this it’s worth the experience. Whether they really succeed or get a little worried, I think they go home better,” said Gibbs. She really knows this horse inside and out, which is why he’s in her sales program at the moment. “He really wants to be an amateur’s horse. He really wants a person to spend a lot of time with him.”

With a tight riding schedule, Gibbs feels that she isn’t his forever person because of the specific needs he has, but that yearning for more one-on-one time doesn’t keep him from trying his absolute best for her come competition.

“He’s just been wonderful,” said Gibbs, who is impressed with his dressage test today and is very much looking forward to their cross-country trip tomorrow. “He picked up a little bit with that atmosphere, and it kind of added to the flavor…I think [the course is] really appropriate for where we are—it’s a big track. He learned very early how to be a good cross-country horse, and that’s just kind of worked in my favor.”

Sitting in second-place standing is Booli Selmayr aboard her own Uptown Girl (Uriko x Effina), the bay 5-year-old Holsteiner mare with a score of 28.1. In third-place standing is Katarzyna Jachymczyk riding her own 15-year-old chestnut Thoroughbred gelding Sock Monkey (Van Nistelrooy x Candy Cane Delight) with a score of 29.2.

USEA Novice Master Amateur Championship

Jane Musselman and Engapore. Zenya Lepper for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Kentucky resident Jane Musselman is in the lead with a dressage score of 23.8—nearly 6 points over her competition—aboard her own 14-year-old gray Dutch Warmblood gelding Engapore (Singapore x Orize). Musselman admitted that she’s not always sure what kind of horse will be underneath her despite having been to the Kentucky Horse Park before.

“He’s a lovely horse—he’s quite quirky. He’s lovely to be around on the ground. On his back, he’s a little bit different,” said Musselman. “He can be very spooky, he can get very tense but he tries very hard to be a good boy. I just got lucky today. Usually you can feel the tension rise as you’re going around the outside of the arena but today he was so relaxed—it was lovely. You never know with him.”

It’s obvious that Musselman cares a great deal about “Frosty’s” delicate mood because she is driving him to and from the Park each day so he can go out at night in his home pasture, as he prefers. And Musselman, also a dedicated mom to humans—not just Frosty—is able to spend time with her family each night before another phase takes place.

Cross-country is no big concern as it’s probably Frosty’s favorite phase. “I think he loves it. He loves to run and jump and I’m excited about it. It should be fun!” said Musselman.

In second-place standing is Ashley Allison aboard her own 11-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood mare Sophie’s Story (Calido I x Utivia M) with a 29.2. And sitting in the third place going into cross-country is Megan Beachler riding her own Cooley Sligo (Sligo Candy boy x Townland Pride), the 11-year-old gray Irish Sport Horse gelding, with a 29.4.

USEA Novice Rider Championship

Madeline Bletzacker and Landtino S. Kira Topeka for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

“He’s 23 years old,” said Ohio resident Madeline Bletzacker in a prideful voice about the chestnut Danish Warmblood Landtino S (Solos Lantinus x Chess S), who’s had quite the tale to tell about his riding history. The pair secured a dressage score of 27.6 in today’s test.

But that score wouldn’t have been possible back when he was only 8-years-old. Bletzacker wasn’t necessarily looking for a horse when she went to see him as a favor to a friend but when that friend got accepted into law school the day after they viewed and rode him, Bletzacker purchased him at a fair price. After all, he had a rearing problem and was turned out for a year.

“It took a long time to get him to do dressage,” said Bletzacker, but her devotion to undoing some training and then retraining really paid off when he was horse of year in 2014. “I call him my boyfriend,” said Bletzacker with a laugh. “He kisses, he bows—he lives at my house so I’m with him all the time.”

The pair are bonded, and it’s safe to say that he met his match with Bletzacker. While all of his early concerns of yesteryear are water under the bridge, Bletzacker still has concerns—the sun being her primary worry going into cross-country.

“I know from experience driving a car—at 8 o’clock in the morning the sun is dead in your face. He’s never gone early like that.”

Holding second-place position is Katherine Holzrichter piloting her own 16-year-old bay Cleveland Bay-Thoroughbred mare Idlehour Center Stage (Idlehour Yorktown x Opening Night) with a score of 28.9. In third position on the leaderboard is Kalie Beckers aboard her own Calla GBF (by Carush), the 8-year-old palomino American Warmblood mare with a score of 29.3.

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is the pinnacle of the sport at the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of combinations from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles; Gold Level Sponsors: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.

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