The 2023 FEI Eventing Nations Cup Netherlands CCIO4*-NC-L, held at the Military Boekelo-Enschede from Oct. 5-8, proved to be a serious competition with 112 combinations and 12 teams competing in the final Nations Cup series event of the year. With Chef d’Equipe Leslie Law at the helm, the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team of James Alliston and Karma, Jennie Brannigan and FE Connory, Phillip Dutton and Denim, and Cassie Sanger and Fernhill Zoro finished in fourth place on a score of 131.0—only two points out of third place. France took top honors with a score of 97.8, while Great Britain was second with a score of 111.2 and Belgium was third on 129.0.
“It was great to work with all four on the team,” said Law. “They worked well together, and it was a good atmosphere. With young horses and our young riders, to be two points off the podium was a great result.”
Alliston (San Ramon, California) and Karma were the top U.S. finishers at Boekelo. They began the competition with a dressage score of 35.9. Alliston and the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare, owned by Alliston Equestrian and Ric Plummer, tackled the influential cross-country course designed by Adrian Ditcham (GBR) with ease, having a double-clear round. They delivered another double-clear round over the jumping course built by Kris van Gelder (NED), finishing on their dressage score of 35.9 in 14th place in the horse’s first trip competing abroad.
“James was our pathfinder, and what more could you have asked for,” said Law. “I saw his dressage test at Rebecca Farm back in July, and the horse did a really good test. She’s a young horse, and I think she has improved since then. James and the horse absolutely ate up the cross-country up and ended with a fantastic show jumping round to finish on his dressage score, which is very impressive.”
Sanger (Wilmington, Delaware) and Fernhill Zoro had the top dressage performance for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team with a score of 35.1. They tallied 4.4 time penalties after a tactful round in the cross-country phase. Sanger and her 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding closed out the competition with one rail down for 4.0 penalties in the jumping phase to finish on a score of 43.5 in 35th place in their debut at the CCI4*-L level.
“Cassie, who is 19, was the youngest competitor there. That is something to be very proud of, and she absolutely performed way above her age,” said Law. “I think her mark should’ve been better than what she got in dressage. She rode fantastic on the cross-country yesterday and show jumped super today, having a very unlucky rail at the last jump.”
Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pennsylvania) and Denim scored 35.2 in the dressage phase to kick off the competition. The pair added 12.0 time penalties to their score in the cross-country phase as Dutton guided Denim around the horse’s first CCI4*-L track. Dutton and the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Caroline Moran, Ann Lapides, Neil Sites, and Ann Jones, had one rail and four-tenths of a time penalty for 4.4 penalties to finish on a score of 51.6 in 45th place.
“Phillip was there on a young horse—only an 8-year-old. It goes without saying that Phillip has so much experience,” said Law. “He did a great job in each phase, and he has a very nice horse for the future.”
Brannigan (West Grove, Pennsylvania) and FE Connory, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Nina Gardner, Timothy Gardner, and Brannigan, began the competition with a dressage score of 37.1. They had nearly completed the cross-country course when a stumble in the final water complex at 26AB unseated Brannigan, ending their day prematurely but leaving them none the worse for wear.
“I feel so sorry for Jennie. She put in a great ride. She was just so unlucky that the horse galloped into that water crossing, missed its feet, and unfortunately came down through nobody’s fault,” said Law. “It wasn’t Jennie’s fault, it wasn’t the horse’s fault, and it was one of those things that shouldn’t have happened but did. She put in a great round and has a great horse for the future.”
Law thought the event had a supportive team feel from start to finish for the U.S. contingent, noting that the team worked well together and made it an enjoyable experience.
“I want to thank everybody who made it all possible,” said Law. “The USEF, [Team Leader] Christina Vaughn who puts in a lot of hard work behind the scenes, and everybody there who was involved—owners, vets, and parents. I just want to thank them all for making a great trip possible.”
Three individual U.S. combinations competed at Boekelo and had respectable results. Cosby Green (Lexington, Kentucky) and Jos UFO de Quidam, a 15-year-old Argentine Silla gelding owned by Heather Morris, were the second-highest U.S. combination on a score of 40.0 in 25th place and finished as the highest-placed rookie. British-based Tiana Coudrayand D’Artagnan, her own and Annabelle James’s 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, finished on a score of 44.1 in 36th place. Hallie Coon (Ocala, Florida) and Cute Girl, her and Helen Coon’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare, ended on a score of 60.2 in 59th place.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.
To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.