Jun 25, 2019

FEH Stars Will Be Judged By Legends at Championships

By Kate Lokey - USEA Staff
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) Future Event Horse Program (FEH) will host East, West, and Central Championships in September 2019. The West Coast Championships will take place at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California on September 19. The Central Championships will move to Snowdonia Farms in Tomball, Texas the following Thursday, September 26 with the East Coast quickly following Saturday and Sunday, September 28-29 at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland.

All three championships will offer FEH yearling, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old divisions. Horses are presented in hand and divisions will be separated by gender, and then pinned overall. At the Championships, the 3-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential at the canter and over fences in an additional free-jump division. The 4-year-olds will be presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated based on conformation. Additionally, the 4-year-olds also participate in the free-jump divisions to show their potential over fences. All of the jump specs and FEH rules may be found here.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

There will be additional free-jumping clinics and last minute qualification opportunities at all FEH Championships the day before at each venue. Each venue will also be providing a professional handling team in the jump chute to ensure safety and professionalism.

Three months stand until between now and the Championships, giving youngsters ample time to still get qualified as nearly 20 FEH competitions remain on the calendar. Horses must earn a minimum qualifying score of 72 percent at any qualifier to be eligible to compete in the FEH Championships. Horses may qualify at any qualifiers in the country, but may only compete at one of the FEH Championships, whether it be East, West, or Central. Four-year-old horses may qualify for both FEH and YEH Championships, but must only choose one championship to compete in; they may not compete in both the FEH and YEH Championships as a 4-year-old. A list of the FEH horses that have qualified for the 2019 Championships thus far may be found here.

The 2019 FEH Championship judges will be Peter Gray (CAN) and Chris Ryan (IRL). Both international professionals have stood as Championship judges and symposium clinicians for the FEH program - read on below for more information about each judge.

About Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan saying hello to an inquisitive young horse at the FEH Jump Chute Clinic at Loch Moy Farm. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Chris Ryan comes from one of the most respected equestrian families in Ireland. Following in his father’s footsteps, Chris Ryan hunted the legendary Scarteen hounds for 28 seasons. The Scarteen hounds have been in the Ryan family for more than 400 years. From racing in his youth to huntsman and now as a judge and commentator, Ryan has become a regular part of eventing life in Ireland and Europe. One of the foundation selectors of the Goresbridge “Go For Gold" Elite Event Horse Sale held every November in Wexford, Ryan has developed a keen eye for young stock.

In the United States, we know him best for finding and producing McKinlaigh (individual silver medal in Beijing) through his 5-year-old year. International winning and top-placed horses Copper Beach, Cooley Rourke's Drift, Cooley SRS, November Night, Prince Mayo, Glencento, Reenmore Duke, Ballymurphy Mark, and many others all came under Ryan’s eye. Blending his experience with an instinct for what is required and the genetics to operate at the highest level gives us an insight into what has kept Ireland at the top of the world eventing rankings for 21 of the 23 years they have been in existence.

About Peter Gray

Peter Gray (left) and Robin Walker (right) at the 2018 East Coast Future Event Horse Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

One of the most well-known eventing judges in the country, Gray has years of experience judging dressage at both national and international levels. Originally from Bermuda, Gray became the first Bermudian rider to compete at an international level in 1980. Gray became a Canadian citizen in 1995 and now resides in Ocala, Florida. Gray has competed in three Olympic Games, Badminton, Burghley, and two World Equestrian Games. A USEF ‘R’ Dressage Judge, a certified USEA YEH and FEH judge, and co-owner Equiventures LLC, Gray is extremely active in the eventing world. As a member of the FEH committee, Gray worked alongside Robin Walker as a 2018 FEH Championship judge.

About the USEA Future Event Horse Program

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, and 3-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. Horses are presented in-hand and divisions are separated by year and gender. At the Championships, 3-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential over fences in an additional free-jump division.

In 2017, the FEH added a 4-year-old division designed for youngsters not quite ready for the rigors of the YEH program. These horses are presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated on their conformation. Additionally, 4-year-olds also participate in the free-jump divisions at Championships to show their potential over fences. Click here to learn more about the USEA Future Event Horse Program.

The USEA would like to thank SmartPak, Standlee Hay Company, and C4 Belts for sponsoring the USEA Future Event Horse Program.

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