Jun 11, 2019

A Pair of OTTBs Claim Hylofit USEA Classic Series Victories in the Hoosier State

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Erin Walsh and Notice the Trick. Xpress Foto Photo courtesy of Erin Walsh.

The Indiana Eventing Association (IEA) Horse Trials hosted the second Hylofit USEA Classic Series Event of the 2019 season over the first weekend in June at the Hoosier Horse Park in Edinburgh, Indiana. The Training and Novice Three-Day divisions were the highlight of the weekend with Illinois natives Erin Walsh and Caroline Charette taking home top honors on their off-the-track Thoroughbreds.

Walsh and her own Notice the Trick (Phone Trick x Little Notice), a 13-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding, led the Training Three-Day division from start to finish, scoring a 28.2 in dressage, adding 2.4 time faults on phase D of cross-country, and picking up a single rail and two seconds of time in stadium to finish the weekend on a score of 35.4.

Walsh rode as a teenager but hung up her stirrup leathers to attend college and didn’t ride for many years. About 15 years ago, Walsh picked up the reins once more and within a year owned her own horse and was competing actively. “I moved to a barn that had eventers and I kept thinking that they looked like they were having so much fun in their training that I might be missing something,” Walsh recalled. She attended the Maui Jim Horse Trials as a spectator and knew she had to give it a go.

Erin Walsh and Notice the Trick. Xpress Foto Photo courtesy of Erin Walsh.

Notice the Trick is a retired racehorse who was nominated to run in the Breeder’s Cup. Acquired from Lili Bennett as an 8-year-old, Walsh and “Trick” have been together for five years. “He is a good mover, a super solid citizen cross-country, and tries his hardest to keep the rails up,” Walsh commented. “Not only does he try so very hard for me, but he is also the kindest, most well-mannered horse on the ground. I look forward to having him on my property when he retires. He'll be like another larger dog.”

Having competed in a long format three-day event once before, Walsh said she looked forward to the challenge of riding in the Training Three-Day. “I love the partnership that is required to do the long format,” she said. “You need to know your horse, and you get to enjoy new experiences with them and have a lot of together time. There is also the camaraderie of being part of something special and spending so much time with your horse – getting them ready, nursing them after working hard, and attending to all their needs. I like taking care of him – especially when I’m asking so much of him.”

“Cross-country is always special, but this time more so because you are asking for so much more after all that they have been through leading up to it,” Walsh continued. “I loved going out there and seeing what he was going to give me on course. Trick has so much heart – I was just amazed at how much more he continued to give right through the finish flags.”

Caroline Charette and Moondance. Xpress Foto Photo courtesy of Caroline Charette.

Charette and Moondance (Malibu Moon x Catinca), her own 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, were third after dressage in the Novice Three-Day on a score of 32.9 and jumped double clear on endurance day and in show jumping to move up and take home the win on their dressage score.

A Canada native, Charette was introduced to the equestrian world through the Canadian Pony Club. Charette’s parents bought her an off-the-track Thoroughbred while she was in high school under the agreement that he would be sold by the time she left for college. “When most potential buyers showed interest in him as an event prospect, I decided to try a summer of competing in local horse trials,” she recalled. “I have been hooked ever since!”

All through college and during her corporate job after school, Charette couldn’t get eventing out of her mind. “Through it all, I always continued to ride as much as I could but life and trying to be an adult often got in the way,” she said. “I owned and evented two more off-the-track Thoroughbreds (I’ve always favored Thoroughbreds – I love their work ethic and athleticism) since that first one, continuing to juggle riding with work and later motherhood. At the time of my move to the U.S. three years ago, I was juggling being a new mom with a busy corporate career in the city with horses and riding/eventing.”

Charette began training with Jennifer Rousseau and that’s where she met Moondance, an off-the-track Thoroughbred who had been purchased as a resale project but turned out to have behavioral issues on the ground that would make him difficult to resell. He was given some downtime to be a horse and, in the fall of 2017, Charette asked Rousseau if she could try working with “Van.” “I won’t lie, Van did try to bite and kick me when I first started working with him, but with consistency, he just kept getting better and better and more trusting,” Charette explained.

“There was just something about him – he is so athletic and elastic and has the most amazing rocking horse canter,” she continued. “He also has an incredible work ethic and he and I were just a good fit. He has pushed me to refine my riding skills and become very aware of my symmetry when I ride because he is so sensitive. He doesn’t forgive mistakes very easily but at the same time, he always tries really hard for me. He keeps me humble and reminds me to enjoy the journey and that being patient is a virtue with horses. But despite these challenges, there has always been something about him. Last weekend, all the pieces came together and it was just a really good weekend.”

Caroline Charette and Moondance. Xpress Foto Photo courtesy of Caroline Charette.

Having competed in the Novice Three-Day two years ago on a previous horse, Charette knew the positive effect that endurance day can have on a horse’s cross-country performance and hoped that it would do the same for Van. “My trainer and I did hesitate to enter Van in the Novice Three-Day at first because one of the biggest issues holding me back from a Training upgrade with him was his rideability galloping on cross-country,” Charette admitted. “He can get very fast and run through the bridle. However, we also felt that phase A-C prior to cross-country could be a good way for him to get his initial tension out and prepare him well for cross-country. The latter proved to be true. I had so much fun on steeplechase, never felt out of control, and Van was the most rideable he’s ever been on cross-country, putting in a beautiful, very bold round. I am now feeling confident about an upgrade to Training level.”

“IEA and all the officials and the wonderful volunteers really do a great job of taking the Classic Series Three-Day divisions really seriously and making them feel like the real deal. The multiple rider meetings and learning opportunities (course walks, roads and tracks group hacks, steeplechase lesson, the jogs, and the final awards ceremony) really bring everyone together and keeps the weekend feeling really exciting and special for all the three-day competitors and their support crews," continued Charette.

“If you are qualified and your horse is fit enough - just go and do one! If you are qualified and your horse isn’t fit enough, get him fit enough and go and do one! If you are not qualified, get qualified and go and do one!” Charette said. “Especially if you are thinking about an upgrade – do a Classic Series Three-Day first as preparation. If it is your first experience competing in a long format three-day and you haven’t groomed for anyone for one prior, make sure you attend all the meetings and take advantage of all the learning opportunities available to you throughout the weekend (steeplechase lesson, course walks, etc. – they are invaluable). Your weekend will be a little busier than a regular horse trial, but well worth it!”

“Go for it,” Walsh agreed. “It’s a commitment for sure – you need to put in the time in advance so that your horse is fit and healthy. I have an agreement with Trick, I’ll do whatever it takes to give him all the tools he needs to do his job – and that includes health and training – and in return, he needs to perform and do his very best for me. The long format deepens the bond you have with your horse, gives you a greater sense of confidence in your abilities and allows you to push the envelope in a safe environment. And, it’s just plain FUN!”

About the Hylofit USEA Classic Series

The Hylofit 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 Hylofit USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank Hylofit, FLAIR, FITS, SmartPak Equine, Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, and Parker Equine Insurance for sponsoring the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.

About Hylofit

Now available to purchase, the Hylofit system hit the marketplace in 2018. The Hylofit system is the only equine wearable to offer in-ride feedback for horse and rider. Hylofit’s state-of-the-art product is designed to maximize communication between horse and rider, improve training results, and promote the overall health and well-being of the horse. Hylofit unique features include real-time feedback, post-ride insights, rider insights, overall well-being of the horse and rider, zone training, sharing features, video features, weather impact features, and more. The Hylofit system that tracks both horse and rider’s heart rate is comprised of four hardware components, an app for iOS or Android, and an optional app for the iWatch.

Hylofit is generously providing a 10 percent discount for Hylofit products to all USEA Classic Series competitors! Hylofit will also provide 11 Hylofit systems to the high scorers of each USEA Classic Series event at the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

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