The babies came out to play on the second and final day of the 2020 USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) Championships at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. The FEH Central Championships took place this past Thursday at Haras Hacienda in Magnolia, Texas and the first day of the two-day FEH East Coast Championships wrapped yesterday after crowning the 3- and 4-year-old Champions. Today, FEH East Coast Championship judges Robin Walker and Susan Graham White evaluated 10 2-year-olds and seven yearlings to decide the final champions on the East Coast.
The seven yearling competitors – three fillies and four colts – presented to Walker and Graham-White this afternoon. Utah Beach (Ulmar Mail x Avalan), Monica Fiss’s Oldenburg colt, earned the highest score of the weekend, an 87.15, to be named the FEH East Coast Yearling Overall Champion and Colt Champion. Utah Beach was also the recipient of The Maryland Horse Industry Board Maryland-Bred Award.
Utah Beach, or “Fitch” as he is known in the barn, was bred by Elizabeth Callahan of Cool Na Grena Sporthorses in Oxford, Maryland. Fiss described the happenstance that brought her to meet Callahan, and thus Fitch. “I’d been saving up some money for something really nice,” Fiss said. “I didn’t know Didi, but I had parked next to her twice at shows and gotten to know her a bit. She told me how she breeds event horses, and one of hers was there that day at Waredaca and when I saw it go by I thought, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a nice horse!’ So when I started looking I contacted her and she said that she had one that she hadn’t put on the market yet but that was for sale. He was about five months old when I went to meet him. Didi took him in the field and had the plastic bag on the end of the whip and when she got it out, he took this massive gallop stride away and I said, ‘Yep, that’s him.’ It was love at first sight – hook, line, and sinker!”
Per the Oldenburg Registry, Utah Beach’s registered name needed to begin with a “U,” like his sire’s name. As his birthday was June 6 – D-Day – they decided on a World War II-themed name. They chose Utah Beach for the westernmost beach of the Normandy Invasion, and his barn name, Fitch, was the name of one of the destroyers. “And he’s battleship grey, so it goes perfectly - big, strong, and grey!”
“He’s very smart – sometimes too smart – and he’s very playful,” Fiss described. “I think eventing will be perfect for him – it’ll keep his mind occupied. He’s very sweet and coming to these shows he’s really learned how to be a show horse and just chill out about it.” In fact, when Fitch went to his FEH Qualifier, he fell asleep on the trailer and Fiss braided him while he was sleeping. “I think he likes the attention!”
The FEH East Coast Yearling Overall Reserve Champion and Filly Champion titles went to Delta Dawn PVF (Alpine x Delta Crisis), Ellen Ziemer’s Holsteiner filly and half-sister of Delta’s Darling PVF, yesterday’s FEH East Coast 3-year-old Filly Reserve Champion. Delta Dawn PVF earned a score of 78.775 from the judges. Third place in the Overall Yearling Championship went to Silverfern Rangiora (Riverman x Lumiere), Maryann Luke’s Oldenburg filly.
Another progeny of Callahan’s breeding program sat at the top of the leaderboard today – this time in the 2-year-old Championship. Grace Bay (Grafenstolz x Rehoboth), Melissa Stubenberg’s Holsteiner filly, scored an 82.15 to claim the FEH East Coast 2-year-old Overall Champion and Filly Champion titles.
Stubenberg purchased Grace as a weanling from Callahan after losing one of her breeding program’s broodmares. “I had bred a horse of similar breeding to one of my Thoroughbreds and unfortunately lost her in a breach,” Stubenberg explained. “I wanted the bloodlines in my program and Didi had a mare in foal to Grafenstolz and I texted her and said, ‘If it’s a filly, I’ll be tempted to buy her,’ and it was. She was bought to be a performance horse and then hopefully be a broodmare.”
“Future breedings to her will be mostly of blood, because she needs more blood for a true upper level horse,” Stubenberg went on. “She’s a warmblood through and through. She’s very smart and very brave and she has opinions. Because of that, we did actually back her this year as a 2-year-old, just for four or five weeks, because she’s going to be a big girl and I wanted her to have a job before she got too big. She was quite good to start. Again – smart, brave, opinionated.”
Stubenberg works with Sally Cousins and expects that Cousins will take the ride on Grace when the time comes. “Sally is riding my 4-year-old, Protego, and she also competed Grace’s mother. I have a small breeding program, and it’s all about having good mares,” Stubenberg said. “I wanted something quite correct and a nice type, and she showed that today!”
Arden Augustus (Jaguar Mail x Juneau), Anita Antenucci’s Warmblood gelding, was the sole 2-year-old colt competitor and took home the titles of FEH East Coast 2-year-old Overall Reserve Champion and Colt Champion on a score of 80.225. Jennifer Neil’s Oldenburg filly, Soluna TWF (Bon Coeur x Sumptuous), was third place overall in the 2-year-old Championship on a score of 78.925.
The Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) Champion and Reserve Champion Awards are presented to the two highest-scoring Thoroughbreds of the entire FEH competition, regardless of age. These awards are given to encourage the retraining of Thoroughbreds in other disciplines upon completion of careers in racing or breeding. The Jockey Club provides cash and prizes to the highest placing registered Thoroughbred in many USEA events, and this year in the FEH Championships. Both awards went to horses that competed yesterday - Luprian (Union Rags x Winter View), Julie Pate's Thoroughbred gelding, scored a 76.9825 in the 3-year-old Championship to earn the T.I.P. Champion title, and the T.I.P. Reserve Champion award went to Nicolette Merle-Smith's Raven Sky (Dances with Ravens x Skyler's Rainbow) on a score of 76.0625. The ribbon and award will be mailed to the recipients. Please keep in mind that in order to be eligible for this award, Thoroughbreds have to be registered with T.I.P.
"We had a highly successful weekend," commented Susan Graham-White upon completion of the competition. "We saw the best overall quality we've had at a Championship so far. The horses were turned out well, handled well, and presented well. The facilities at Loch Moy Farm worked beautifully for the Championships and we're grateful to Carolyn Mackintosh and her team of volunteers for hosting us each year. I thought that the horses looked the best prepared and presented that we have had yet. Absolutely our top year!"
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.
USEA podcast host Nicole Brown chats with Interim Eventing Chef d’Equipe and Team Manager of the U.S. Eventing Team Bobby Costello about the Silver Medal Performance put forward by the U.S. Team at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships.
There is still time to experience the long format of three-day eventing this year, by competing in a fall USEA Classic Series Event! The USEA Classic Series offers long-format eventing at the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels, and there are still a few left on the fall calendar in various Areas.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.