The 2022 Area IV Championships took place in Wheeler, Wisconsin at the Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials on September 16-18. Four new champions were crowned in four divisions: Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice. Meet your newest USEA Area IV Champions below.
Preliminary Champions: Ali Kuhn & Little Hail | 33.9
Rising to the top of the field in the Preliminary Championship was Ali Kuhn riding John Crowell’s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Little Hail (Malibu Moon x The Legend Grows). The win was the cherry on top of a challenging year.
“I’m absolutely elated with the win. We have worked hard this year and it’s certainly paid off. John Crowell so kindly handed me the reins last season after my Preliminary horse suddenly passed away. I love this quirky little bay and he’s just an absolute blast to show in every phase. I wish I had mapped out doing a two-star this fall, but it’s on the roster for next season instead!”
The duo started out in second with a dressage score of 29.1, a score which would prove influential in the later phases. Following a double-clear cross-country effort, the pair moved up to first with a six-point lead - giving them enough wiggle room to have a rail in hand and still claim the champion title. While they did add just one rail to their score and 0.8 time penalties in show jumping to finish on a 33.9, their low score in the first phase gave them the edge to cling tightly to their lead.
“Otter Creek has been a staple show facility in Area IV for many years,” shared Kuhn. “They constantly bring new challenges in terrain and build new fences for all of us to appreciate every year. They did a super job hosting the Championships this year and we so appreciate them sharing their stunning farm with us a few weekends each year! Area IV is such a tight-knit and supportive group of eventers. I love that we can cheer each other on and there is never a lack of kind words passed between competitors.”
Training Champions: Sarah Coltrin & Madam Dragon | 29.4
Area IV Traning Champion Sarah Coltrin describes her 8-year-old Welsh mare Madam Dragon (Smoke Tree Dragon Tail x Crazy Madam), aka “Penelope” as a once-in-a-lifetime pony.
“I am still walking on a cloud after championships! I was so proud of her for bringing her A-game to the Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials and Area IV Championships,” shared Coltrin. The pair kicked off their weekend seated in second following dressage, an effort that Coltrin is especially proud of.
“Penelope has a lot of personality and heart which she has a hard time keeping under wraps during dressage. After a couple of months of working to really take the edge off, all the pieces came together this weekend for a personal best dressage score of 25. She was super rideable and correct and it felt so good to put down a test I have always known she was capable of and what perfect timing it was!”
Even with adding 4.4 time penalties to their score in cross-country, their low dressage score and double-clear show jumping effort helped move the pair up from second to first to bring home the win this past weekend.
The Area IV and Otter Creek community joined together to celebrate Coltrin at the end of her final phase of competition. “Otter Creek Farm is my favorite place we show all year so it was extra special to win the Championships there,” reflected Coltrin. “Penelope has worked up quite the fan club up at Otter so crossing the finish flags after a double clear show jump to a huge round of applause was really special.”
Novice Champions: Alexandria Novotny Pasker & Soft Spoken 307 | 30.9
Winning the Novice Championship from start to finish was Alexanrai Novotny Pasker and her 5-year-old Hanoverian mare Soft Spoken 307 (Sir Wanabi x Simone Signoret). Making the win even more special is that Novotny Pasker has been a part of “Zelda’s” life since she purchased her sight unseen from Canada as a 2-year-old.
“I joke that Zelda was the best random internet purchase my friend ever talked me into,” joked Novotny Pasker. “She had just been hanging out in a pasture and was a bit of a diamond in the rough. She came from a breeder I trusted, was a lovely mover, well-bred, and I thought I could get along with most any horse, so I took the gamble.”
After having a friend lightly back Zelda as a 3-year-old, the young mare had a lighter workload through her 4-year-old year and gave her first Starter level a try. This summer, however, Novotny Pasker made the trek to Aiken, South Carolina with Zelda in town for a few months, which is where she saw the young horse really blossom.
“My coach, Meaghan Marinovich-Burdick, was instrumental in helping me get her consistent as initially, she was quite spooky and opinionated. We did a few Beginner Novices and then moved up to Novice this summer, culminating with this show where all the pieces came together quite well.”
Leading the way on their dressage score of 26.9, Novotny Pasker and Zelda had a six-point lead going into show jumping following their double-clear cross-country round. One rail adjusted their score to 30.9, but the pair held onto the Championship title for their division.
Beginner Novice Champions: Lianne Burgess & Marisol | 32.5
Lianne Burgess shares her beloved 6-year-old Trakehner mare Marisol with her daughter, Kristine, who found the mare in early 2021 and put some of the earlier training rides on her. “Marisol is such a sweet horse & I am so lucky to have her. She’s fairly straightforward to ride but can be sassy as well, so she’s always keeping on my toes,” shared Burgess.
A dressage score of 32.5 would put the pair, who has won four out of five events they have completed together this year so far, in eighth place, but they would creep up to fourth after putting in a great double-clear cross-country round. Going into show jumping, Burgess had no expectations, so finding out that she had moved up to the first place position thanks to their addition of no faults in the final phase was a sweet surprise.
“I was really shocked to win the Championships in Area IV. We didn’t start with our best dressage score, but I never gave up,” Burgess reflected. “She really took care of me as I didn’t ride her great in show jumping either – just a bit too nervous. However, in the end, the ‘eventing’ stars aligned for us on this show.”
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For seasoned and novice riders alike, it is always good to revisit the basics. Serving as the foundation for any eventer, the positions used on the cross-country course differ from those in the dressage or show jumping ring. The USEA tuned into five-time Olympian, three-time World Equestrian Games rider, two Pan-American Games rider, and USEA ECP certified coach Karen O'Connor as she walked coaches and students at the USEA ECP Symposium through the basic positions for effective cross-country riding.
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