Jul 28, 2023

Grandia and O'Neal Claim Rebecca Farm Classic Series Victories

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Hope Carlin photos

The Event at Rebecca Farm is known for its stunning venue, energetic atmosphere, its CCI4*-L competition, and its much-loved USEA Classic Series divisions. This year, Rebecca Farm hosted both a Training and Novice Three-Day level, both of which were hotly contested with 27 entries in the Training division and 32 competitors entered in the Novice division.

Washington-based professional Marc Grandia brought home the win in the Training Three-Day aboard the Full Gallop Syndicate, LLC’s Levino (Lint x R-Cora II). After starting the weekend off in second place on their dressage score of 25.4, Grandia and the 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding produced double-clear rounds in all phases of endurance and show jumping to claim the win.

Grandia, who said eventing was in his blood, owns his own business, Full Gallop Eventing, with his wife, Erin. Together, the team not only works with clients but also produce their string of competition horses, like Levino.

Marc Grandia and Levino.

“Levino is a promising young horse for me,” shared Grandia. “Funny story, he was originally bought out of Holland by a friend of mine, Amber [Levin] Birtcil. She got married that year, and he caught her eye with his name being so close to her maiden name. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase him from her last year with the help of my syndicate group, and this year he's proving he's worthy of the name. He’s matured a lot this year and been quite competitive at the Novice and Training level, and we’re prepping for his move up to Preliminary."

With that move up in mind, Grandia felt that the Three-Day at Rebecca would be a great stepping stone in both Levino’s career and that of his second entry, Sunsprite Ranch, LLC’s 8-year-old Trakehner mare Sunsprite Chiasso (Silvermoon x Cara Admira).

“Specifically, with both my Three-Day horses I had to choose between running them in their first Preliminary or doing the Three-Day. I think the Three-Day is a great opportunity to teach young horses to gallop and what it means to be fit and tough. I wanted ‘Vino’ to experience the galloping in the steeplechase and the fitness preparation to help with his education for the future,” he said.

The experience, Grandia said, required Vino to fight through mentally and physically as he made his way through the endurance phases for the first time, but he gave it his all and showed up on the final day for show jumping in top form. Of all the phases of the weekend, however, Grandia said the horse inspection was his favorite memory with Vino.

“Vino was rather excited for the first trot up, and he was happy to show the crowd what a nice horse he is,” he joked.

As a professional, Grandia encourages everyone to compete in a traditional long-format event if the chance presents itself. “It's a bit of work but an invaluable experience that cannot be replaced,” he said. “You and your horse will be better off for it.”

The win in the Novice Three-Day went to another Washington-based professional, Patience O’Neal, riding Elizabeth Linde’s 8-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding High Khaliber Angel (CJA High Kailber x Believe in Angels).

O’Neal first got her start in the eventing scene at five years old thanks to the guidance and training from her mother, Karen O’Neal. Her love of the sport was immediate, but the last few years have heavily influenced her love for the dressage phase and training young horses up the levels. To this day, Patience still works alongside her mother as she runs her “non-traditional” Seattle-based business traveling to multiple area facilities to teach and ride.

Patience became connected with “Khal” through owner Elizabeth Linde, who has competed the young horse through third-level dressage. When Linde wanted to put more jumping miles under Khal’s belt, she passed the ride over to Patience for The Event at Rebecca Farm.

Patience O'Neal and High Khaliber Angel.

“He is a sweet guy who gets very excited about the jumping,” said Patience. “Khal has an abundant amount of energy and loves to perform. His owner has been doing lots of dressage work and conditioning so he would be prepared for a long-format event even in the heat of Montana. We thought that with his enthusiasm to perform and fitness level, he could do well in the Novice Three-Day with no problems.”

Khal lived up to those expectations, leading the division from start to finish on his dressage score of 23.6.

“I believe that Khal benefited greatly from the roads and tracks phase because we had to stay focused the entire time,” Patience reflected. “I really enjoyed the long trots and gallops that are required for this phase because it gives you extra quality time with your horse. Also, the steeplechase gave him a great, confident school before going on cross-country.”

A lot of focus and preparation was put into Khal’s fitness prior to the event, but Patience emphasized that the fitness of the rider is equally as important to anyone wanting to participate in a traditional long-format event.

“I believe that it is just as important for us as riders to be just as fit and prepared for the event as it is for our horses. Our horses do so much for us and being prepared and fit as riders makes the horse's job much easier.”

In addition to her positive experience in the competition, Patience was very complimentary of the atmosphere and organization at Rebecca Farm.

“Rebecca Farm always does a great job organizing the event,” she said. “From ride times to footing, everything is always so well prepared and safe for the competition.”

Preparation for a Classic Series event begins long before the competition. For those who have The Event at Rebecca Farm on their wishlist for 2024, consider kicking off your training program now so you can mark off a USEA Classic Series event from your bucket list as well.

Full results.

For more information on the Classic Series, visit the USEA Classic Series webpage.

About the USEA Classic Series

The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long ­format three­-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross­-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long ­format three-­day event. Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors, and earn leaderboard points. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank bronze sponsors SmartPak Equine and D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, as well as contributing sponsors Bates Saddles and Parker Equine Insurance for supporting the USEA Classic Series.

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