The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award was established in 2009 by the USEA Professional Horseman’s Council (PHC) to encourage safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique. The award is presented at a series of events throughout the year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who demonstrate technique on cross-country for a list of criteria including gallop, preparation, execution of jump, rider position, and general impressions. Judges, who must be either Level III or IV ICP certified, USEF Licensed Eventing Officials or USET Senior Team Riders, reward the top riders who excel at these skills. The winners at each event receive a Charles Owen Body Protector and helmet bag, and the year-end high-point junior and amateur winners will receive a Charles Owen helmet.
Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas hosted the final leg of the 2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit Series at their Fall Horse Trials, November 11-12, 2017. A total of 55 riders competed at the Training level at Texas Rose, but it was Katherine Hindy and Nick Staples who ultimately walked away with the final Adult Amateur and Junior Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards of the year. Sue Smithson, who judged the Area IX leg of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award, also judged the award for Area V.
Hindy and Plain Dealing Farm’s Cooley Blue, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, placed eighth in the Senior Training Rider division after adding just four time faults on cross-country to their dressage score. Hindy began eventing through her local Pony Club in Louisiana at the age of nine and never looked back. “I have been blessed with the support of my parents from the very beginning and was afforded opportunities to ride and work for multiple professionals throughout Area V, Area II, and Area III,” said Hindy.
Cooley Blue, also know as Oliver, was imported by the Strini sisters to Plain Dealing Farm as a 4-year-old. Hindy was working at Plain Dealing at the time and “took an immediate fondness to the dark grey menace.” She explained, “Oliver was a bit mischievous during those times, never malicious but consistently…annoying. Nonetheless, I loved the little bugger. I was lucky enough to care for Oliver as his groom from his arrival to the states until age six. It was at that point that the girls felt that he might be better suited for a capable amateur and scrapped their previous upper level aspirations for him. Lucky, lucky me...I became that capable amateur! I am forever indebted to the Strini sisters for this once in a lifetime partnership. That little Irish unicorn was literally made for me, and vice versa.”
Hindy said the feedback she received from Smithson was both helpful and encouraging. “I received validation for my efforts via positive feedback and was in complete agreement with any constructive criticism. I particularly loved the comment regarding our gallop: ‘Smooth, quick over ground.’ The gallop has been a struggle - he would prefer to just move his feet really fast, not open his stride, if left to his own devices. It was nice to hear from an outsider that this has improved.”
“I am the cross-country rider I am today because of my amazing coach, stellar boss, and dearest friend, Angela Bowles,” commented Hindy. “She is an inspiration in and out of the tack, and has single-handedly given me the knowledge to navigate a cross-country course effectively AND safely. She values my horse’s safety as well as mine, and I am forever grateful for her support and shared knowledge. Angela has a gift, both as a rider and a teacher. This is extremely rare and Oliver and I are blessed to have found our way to her and the fabulous Tempus Eventing family.”
Nick Staples and WF Drousseau (Rousseau x Prizarma Elite), John Staples’ 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, added one rail to their dressage score to finish fifth in the Junior Training Rider division. “I feel very honored to receive this award,” said Nick. “It really means a lot to me.”
Eventing is in Nick’s blood. His father, John, is an upper-level eventer, and Nick has had the opportunity to compete with several different horses. “I started with a stick horse at age two and worked my way to my first pony, The Golden Snitch, owned by Hannah Channin,” said Nick. “My first horse was Major Impact who had been competed by Buck Davidson and owned by Paul Popiel. Major Impact, whose barn name is Paul, took me through Novice. Then I was given the opportunity to ride Bound by Blood, owned by Jennifer Boyer. I took Bounder to his first Preliminary and one-star in the fall of 2015.”
WF Drousseau had been a broodmare and didn’t have any prior show experience when John purchased her as a 7-year-old. “My dad took her to her first event and then gave me the reins. Texas Rose Horse Trials was my fourth Training level ride with her,” explained Nick.
“I appreciate [the Charles Owen Technical Merit Series] and how it encourages better riding,” Nick commented. “My dad has been involved in the safety of our sport for a long time. Just recently I have earned the ‘right to wear a watch on cross-country’ after learning to feel the proper pace to jump the fences appropriately.”
Nick expressed his gratitude for receiving the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award, saying, “It is nice to see that I am heading in the right direction.”
2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit Schedule
Pine Top Advanced H.T. | Feb. 23-26, 2017 | Thomson, GA (Area 3)
Coconino Summer I H.T. | July 8-9, 2017 | Flagstaff, AZ (Area 10)
The Event At Rebecca Farm | July 19-23, 2017 | Kalispell, MT (Area 7)
Fitch's Corner H.T. | July 22-23, 2017 | Millbrook, NY (Area 1)
Cobblestone Farms H.T. | July 28-30, 2017 | Dexter, MI (Area 8)
Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II | Aug. 25-27, 2017 | Santa Ynez, CA (Area 6)
Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. | Sept. 2-3 2017 | Poolesville, MD (Area 2)
Otter Creek Fall H.T. | Sept. 15-17, 2017 | Wheeler, WI (Area 4)
Colorado Horse Park H.T. | Sept. 15-17, 2017 | Parker, CO (Area 9)
Texas Rose Horse Park | November 11-12, 2017 | Tyler, TX (Area 5)
About Charles Owen
Charles Owen has been elevating the standards of safety in our sport by manufacturing to some of the top international safety standards for riding helmets and body protectors. At their design headquarters, Charles Owen uses an advanced computer simulation to perform impact analysis for their products. Charles Owen is the official riding helmet of the USEA. To learn more about Charles Owen visit their website.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
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