Jun 07, 2024

IEA Horse Trials Kicks Off the 2024 USEA Classic Series

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
(from left) Cory Coulter photo, Xpress Foto photo, photo courtesy of Josie Jacobs

The 2024 USEA Classic Series calendar kicked off this past weekend at the Indiana Eventing Association (IEA) H.T. which took place from May 31-June 2 in Edinburgh, Indiana. Three long-format divisions were offered at the Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training levels.

Read on to learn more about the three IEA winners.

Bonnie Coulter and Network News won the Training Three-Day division. Cory Coulter photo

Training Three-Day

Bonnie Coulter wasn’t sure she’d ever return to eventing after she broke her back in a riding fall in 2017, and after she went horse shopping the following year, she wasn’t really looking for a Thoroughbred, but fate had a different idea.

Network News, or “Ollie,” had competed through Training with his former owner and rider Molly Laird.

“I knew as soon as I threw a leg over him that he was going to be my next partner,” said Coulter, 42, Robinson, Illinois. “He's a wee bit quirky but has the sweetest soul and the biggest heart. He's taught me to be a more compassionate rider and has taken me places I never even dared dream of. After my accident in 2017, I wasn't sure I would ever return to competing at the Novice level. He helped me do even more than that and later took me around [the IEA Novice Three-Day] in 2021 just 45 days after completing active [breast] cancer treatment. I'm forever grateful for Molly for entrusting me with such a special creature. He truly is one in a million.”

Now 15, Ollie (Kitten’s Joy x Roja) was bred by Kenneth L. Ramsey and Sarah K. Ramsey and had 26 starts on the track in both flat and steeplechase races.

At IEA, he and Coulter were in seventh in the Training Three-Day division after dressage and stayed on their score of 34.7 to win.

“Ollie is an OTTB war horse and not only flat raced, but steeplechased as well,” said “He absolutely eats up B phase, and I always have the best cross-country rounds during the classic formats. He also lives for conditioning days at home because he just loves to go fast!”

Classic Three-Days have always been a goal for Coulter. “I did my first Beginner-Novice Three-Day at Southern 8ths [Chesterfield, South Carolina] many years ago. When I moved up to Training a couple of years ago, I had the farfetched pipe dream to do a Training Three-Day,” she said. “IEA was always my ultimate goal as the Indy Eventers are my home. After completing the the Training Three-Day at Hagyard [Lexington, Kentucky] last fall, I felt like the stars were aligning for me to be able to chase my dream of the three-day at IEA.”

Coulter says her husband Cory Coulter is her biggest supporter, and also her farrier, and she was excited to have her best friend Andrea Baker alongside at IEA. She's been cancer-free for three years after battling it alongside her mother-in-law during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seeing Andrea's smiling face at the gate after my stadium round is not something I will forget for a long time,” she said. “My dad, my brother and his family were all there in the 10-minute box for endurance day, wearing pink, and my mom even wore her matching T-shirt on Saturday while house sitting for us. My family is a huge part of my life, and to be able to share this with them is priceless. I honestly had no idea that I had won. After my stadium round, I was just so ecstatic to complete on a happy horse that I didn't even pay any attention to the rest of the rounds. I was in complete shock when they pinned the blue ribbon on us, and to hear my family cheering during the victory gallop brought some tears to my eyes.”

Bonnie was lucky enough to be one of the recipient’s of this year’s Wofford Legacy Fund Scholarship, established by Waredaca, which provides financial assistance to riders working towards a Classic Three-Day.

"I live in the middle of trail riding and barrel racing country.," she said. "Most people around me don't even know what eventing is! I have a grass arena and jumps that I use for schooling at home and set up a dressage arena with jump poles and orange cones and letters I bought at Lowes. I do conditioning sets in my hay field. I clinic when I can, but am particular on who I ride with. Doug Payne is my all time favorite, and I cliniced with him a couple of weeks before IEA.

“I want to thank the WEEF for their continued support of the Classic Format as well as their efforts to help make sure riders have the financial support and opportunity to achieve their dreams,” said Bonnie. “Do [a Classic!] The experience is like no other and so very rewarding. You'll learn more about yourself and your horse than you could ever imagine. It's such a rewarding experience, and all it takes is some planning and hard work. I don't have a fancy barn or a fancy arena. If I can do it, anyone can!”

Claire Rigney and Cobra King won the Novice Three-Day. Xpress Foto photo

Novice Three-Day

Claire Rigney, 14, just got Cobra King last November, so she’s still getting to know the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra x Highland Destiny). “Dawson” had previously competed to the CCI2*-L level with his previous rider Catharina Ardakani, and Rigney’s hoping he’ll get her to that level someday too.

Growing up in a family who breeds and races Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, Rigney spent time at race tracks and on the backside any chance she got. She’s trained at Spring Run Farm with coaches Susan Perellis and Samantha McLean in Prospect, Kentucky, since she was 9 and has ridden with Covered Bridge Pony Club and Peggi Binder.

Perellis recommended she try a Novice Three-Day this year. “She said it would be really fun and felt that I could be very competitive in this division, as well,” said Rigney. “She also felt that it would be a very good learning experience for me to test my horsemanship skills. It would also benefit me to get to know Dawson better since we are still relatively new together.

“When [Dawson and I] started training together, I struggled a bit because he is a big strong Irish Sport Horse with a lot of quirks,” she added. “I have been working on getting stronger and figuring his personality out. Things are just starting to click. We have quickly developed a strong partnership.”

The pair led the division from start to finish and ended on their dressage score of 28.7.

Rigney found that training for the three-day helped Dawson physically, and she loved endurance day at the event.

“Not only was it a new experience, but it was also fun and showed me that I can push myself to achieve my goals. Plus, I was really able to imagine the potential for Dawson and me together,” she said. “It was amazing to see how our entire barn, my family, the organizers and all the volunteers worked together to make this such a wonderful weekend for all the riders.”

Josie Jacobs, with trainers Sam McLean and Susan Harris, won the Beginner Novice Three-Day with Junior Mint. Photo courtesy of Josie Jacobs

Beginner Novice Three-Day

Another Spring Run rider, Josie Jacobs, picked up the win in the Beginner Novice Three-Day.

She and her own Junior Mint, a 14-year-old Welsh/Hanoverian gelding of unrecorded breeding topped the division 31.1, moving up from fourth after dressage with just .4 time penalties added on Phase B.

“Our barn was going to the Three-Day event, and my trainer thought it would a great experience for us,” said Jacobs, 15, Prospect, Kentucky. “Before she could completely ask if I was interested, I answered yes! We love going to shows and doing new things together."

Jacobs paired up with “Junior” last spring. “We prayed for the perfect horse, and when we found Junior Mint and spoke to his owner [Teah Wilson] it seemed a perfect match,” she said. “She was graduating college and moving up in levels, and he was the star of her social media. He seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. He is very kind yet strong. Very gentle yet determined. He has been everything I could imagine.”

Jacobs enjoyed the Three-Day and felt she was able to better understand her horse and his abilities.

“I was able to see a glimpse of what he can do. I think he loved it just as much as I did,” she said. “Saturday was my favorite day. I enjoyed all the parts individually and how they all had to come together in order to be successful. It was a lot of pieces put together, and they all had to fit. It was so fun to feel him go. I loved it. He did everything I asked him to.”

“You have to take each day as it comes,” she added. “You cannot get ahead of yourself. You want to be focused and prepared. This is what you train for; why you spend so many days at the barn—to get to come out and do what you know how to do. I can’t wait for the next three-day; sign me up!”

For full results, click here.

The next USEA Classic Series event will take place July 17-21,2024, at The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana and will feature Classic Series divisions at the Novice and Training levels. Entries opened on June 4, 2024, and will close on July 2, 2024.

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 Three-Day 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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