The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is a staple on the U.S. eventing calendar that many riders dream of competing at. This year six U.S. riders will be checking the event off of their bucket list as they trot down the centerline of the Rolex Arena as Kentucky first-timers. The USEA caught up with each rider to hear about their first-ever Kentucky experience and how it compares to now having their name on the entry list.
Alexandra MacLeod | Age: 29 | Horse: Newmarket Jack (Newmarket Jewel x Newmarket Chantepie), 13-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Alexandra and Carla MacLeod and bred by Billy Daily
On her first Kentucky experience: “I have actually only been to Kentucky one time as a spectator in 2014. I went with my mom and we had the most amazing time; I had a few friends competing that year so it was very fun to watch them go too! That is also the year I got Jack - serendipity perhaps?”
On competing at Kentucky: “The fact that Kentucky is currently in my grasp is pretty surreal. I have always wanted to compete at this level, but it was certainly never a sure thing that it would happen given my career goals outside of horses. Now, with this horse, after the amazing last season we had, it feels like I need to take my shot because who knows when I will have an opportunity like this again. I am really just hoping we can do our best in each phase; put in a respectable dressage test for us, jump cleanly and confidently around the cross-country, and have a smooth show jumping round. Jack and I are best friends and I am hoping to do him justice. He is the most amazing partner, especially in the jumping phases, so I just need to make sure I do my part!”
Marc Grandia | Age: 34 | Horse: Campari FFF (Camiros x Tanner), 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Team Rebecca LLC and bred by Foxfire Farms
On his first Kentucky experience: “My first time at Kentucky was as an apprentice course designer (thanks to a USEA grant for course design in 2016) with Derek Di Grazia. I had the opportunity to walk the course with Derek and the rest of the officials several times, as well as watch Derek make the last-minute adjustments and final setting of things. I got to sit in on the rider meetings and watch much of the cross-country with head builder Mick Costello. One thing that stands out from that experience was that on Sunday for show jumping I sat with Richard Jeffery and the rest of the show jumping crew in the gazebo in the Rolex Arena and helped set rails. The wind was really strong that day and we had to go around and change the cups on the planks and panels because they were blowing down during rounds.”
On competing at Kentucky: “I'm feeling very excited about my first chance to compete at Kentucky. My horse feels fit and ready for a big course. I have developed Campari from a 5-year-old and am really grateful to the Broussard family for that opportunity. This year I was awarded the “Little Becky” Rebecca Broussard developing rider grant which made it possible for me to travel East for our Kentucky prep.”
Woods Baughman | Age: 26 | Horse: C’est La Vie 135 (Contendro I x Anette), 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Woods Baughman
On his first Kentucky experience: “I am actually from Lexington, so the first time I attended the Kentucky five-star was when I was 6 or 7. My grandfather took me out because it was a neat event they did at the horse park and I had just started riding. We went out to watch on Saturday and that was pretty much the point that I decided I was going to event and I was going to compete there.”
On competing at Kentucky: “I am obviously a bit nervous, but at the same time I am really excited because I have been wanting to compete here for over 20 years now. To finally be going is just so exciting. All of my family and my friends that I grew up with will be there, so my goal for the weekend is to just put in good rides and have a nice first experience. Obviously, everyone wants to go to win, but I just want to focus on going around for the first year.”
Booli Selmayr | Age: 34 | Horse: Millfield Lancando, 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Booli Selmayr, Kelly Morgan, and Jacqueline Thorne
On her first Kentucky experience: “Despite it being my lifelong goal to ride and compete at the five-star level and at Kentucky, my first time attending was only five years ago. I had the chance to walk the cross country course with Boyd [Martin] and seeing the course only made me want to get to Kentucky that much more.”
On competing at Kentucky: “I’m trying to keep my feelings contained so I can stay clear-headed for ‘Lance’ and give him the best rides and care possible on these final days leading up to Kentucky. My goal is to finish with a happy and sound horse. Chances are, once we’ve finished all these bottled feelings will come pouring out!”
Ashlynn Meuchel | Age: 26 | Horse: Emporium (Cartano x Upana), 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ashley Creek Stables and Ashlynn Meuchel
On Kentucky: “I have never actually been to Kentucky. I competed at the Kentucky Horse Park when the Young Rider Championships were there in 2013, but that was it. It is such a landmark competition in the U.S. calendar that it just made sense as the next thing on my docket to do. Last year was kind of a push for me to go to the Maryland 5 Star experience-wise, but I am hoping with a bit more experience that Kentucky will be better. I have obviously watched lots of live streams so I know a little bit what to expect, but I am trying not to get too into my head before I get there and get a lay of the land.”
On competing at Kentucky: “It is interesting, I am from out West originally and it is such a different feeling from out there. It feels so huge, but having been out East for a while it feels more routine almost. As I think back over growing up, it feels like I should just really enjoy it and be in the moment and enjoy the competition with my horse. I really want to jump around clean because I didn’t at Maryland, so I really want to aim for that. Otherwise, I just want to enjoy this with my buddy!”
Lexi Scovil | Age: 30 | Horse: Chico’s Man VDF Z (Chico’s Boy x Chardonnay Z), 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Lexi Scovil
On her first Kentucky experience: “I’ve been to Kentucky as a spectator a couple of times. I’m pretty sure I was 13 or 14 my first time. I remember being so excited to see it in person, but also looking at the jumps on the cross-country and thinking they looked fun and pretty doable. The farther something is from reality the more achievable it seems! I definitely always believed I’d be jumping around there someday.”
On competing at Kentucky: “I’m really excited to be leaving the start box for my first five-star. I’m sure I will be all nerves once I get there, but right now I feel like I have a very solid partnership with my horse and I trust him 100% to be tackling our first five-star together. We were lucky enough to compete at a number of four-stars in England together and I think that will help me mentally with the pressure and anything the weather might throw at us! I’m aiming for completing without jumping faults but as long as I come home with a happy horse I’ll be happy!”
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