Mar 07, 2022

How On Cue Won the 2021 USEA Horse and Mare of the Year

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Boyd Martin and On Cue. USEA/ Leslie Mintz photo.

The Turner family’s 16-year-old Anglo European mare On Cue (Cabri d’Elle x On High) has had no shortage of headlines written about her recently. Her 2021 season with 2021 World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year Boyd Martin can be summed up in one word: impressive. Out of the mare’s six official outings in 2021, On Cue brought home five top-five finishes with four of those being international placings.

Before diving into On Cue’s competitive history and stellar 2021 performance, it’s worthwhile to take a look back at the mare’s origins. British-bred by Alyse Clancey and Jolyse Bell-Syer at their home-based program On Horses, On Cue is by the Selle Francais showjumper Cabri D’Elle and out of a Primitive Rising mare named On High. The On Horses breeding program traces back to one Anglo European mare, Augermist. Clancey purchased Augermist locally as an unbroken 3-year-old as a dressage prospect but later found themselves completing Badminton and Burghley. After retiring sound, it was the plan to transition Augermist to be the On Horses foundation broodmare, but unfortunately, they were only able to acquire one live foal from her, On Song.

On Song was by the Hanoverian stallion Louella Wendekreis II and was registered in the Anglo European studbook. The mare competed up to the three-star level with Clancey before Bell-Syer won a junior team bronze medal aboard her in 2004 and would later produce two foals, On High (Primitive Rising x On Song) and On Show (Cabri d’Elle x On Song). On High competed at the two-star level before producing several foals: On Fire, On Air, On Springs, On Cue, On Flight, On Luxe, and On Safari, three of which (not counting On Cue) moved on to the Advanced level of eventing.

On Cue’s career in the U.S. began with Sinead Halpin in 2012 when Halpin and Christine Turner imported the mare. Halpin competed her through Intermediate before Turner bought Halpin’s share in her in 2014 and Michael Pollard took over the reins through the end of 2015. In 2017, Turner sent On Cue to Martin to be marketed for sale, but having adored the mare previously and knowing the potential that she possessed, Martin convinced Turner to let him test the waters a bit and keep her as a competition horse.

“I actually tried to buy her when she was a young horse,” Boyd said of On Cue. “When she was sent to me, it was to be sold. I had always loved the horse and fancied the horse, thought she was amazing. I convinced Christine to keep going with the horse a bit. She’s everything you dream of in a horse. She’s got movement and gallop, she is a real trier. She is elegant, she’s a real mare.”

The pair’s first outing together was in January of 2017 in the Training division at Full Gallop Farm where they finished out the weekend on their dressage score to end in third, not a bad way to come back from a two-year gap in competition. From there, the duo moved up to Preliminary in February of the same year where they won the Open Preliminary division at Pine Top. Just a few outings later, they would accomplish their first international win together at Bromont in the then CIC2*.

While the pair has had their fair share of success together over the years (they have 25 wins on their record together to be exact), 2021 really seemed to be On Cue’s year to shine. She opened up her season in the Intermediate at Pine Top in fourth place before moving back up to the CCI4*-S level at The Fork where they would place fourth amongst a highly competitive field.

Erin Gilmore photography.

At the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, On Cue stepped up to be Martin’s highest-placing mount in the CCI5*, her first time ever at the level, finishing the challenging cross-country track with just 0.8-time penalties and closing out the weekend with one rail in hand to finish in fourth and as the National Champion. “On Cue is such a class animal, she’s a real trier, she’s a great galloper and she’s got a heart of gold, so I was just thrilled with her round,” said Martin. “She’s unbelievable. She gave everything she had this weekend.”

From there, On Cue made her way around the world with Martin as his backup mount for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but that international travel didn’t knock the wind out of her sails at all. She dominated her first event back in the U.S., the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final.

“To be honest, coming into the show jumping phase I didn’t think I was going to win,” Martin said. “There were plenty of good horses and riders ahead of me and it is a very high-pressure event. [On Cue] is everything you dream of in a horse— she’s a mover, she’s a galloper, she’s sensitive, she’s elegant, she’s bright, and I’m just blessed to have her, she’s been on fire this year.”

USEA/ KTB Creative photo.

But Martin had no clue what was to come in their 2021 season. Following a respectable ninth-place finish in the CCI4*-S at Plantation Field, the pair would go on to break a longstanding drought in U.S. Eventing history: they would win the first-ever Maryland 5 Star adding nothing to their dressage score of 25 to seal the deal.

“I would’ve been happy with third or second,” said Martin following his win, “so to win is a great honor and great privilege. Today was On Cue’s day and it was great to win it.”

Overall in her time with Martin, On Cue has had just one cross-country jump fault and 21 clear show jumping rounds. Her lowest international dressage score has been a 23.50 at the CCI3*-S level. Looking at On Cue’s 2021 season overall, all of her dressage scores were sub-30 with a season-low of 23.8 and she only had one rail at two events throughout the year. Her top performances in 2021 totaled up to result in her receiving the honors of 2021 USEA Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year and Bates USEA Mare of the Year.

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