Oct 31, 2018

Mattison and Weisjahn Win in Wisconsin with the Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards at Otter Creek

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
McKayla Mattison and A Sky Full of Starz. Photo courtesy of McKayla Mattison.

Wisconsin, the state of cheese heads and diehard Green Bay Packer fans, is also home to Area IV’s Charles Owen Technical Merit Award at the Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials on September 14-16, 2018. Out of 48 Training cross-country rides, McKayla Mattison and Annika Weisjahn were the recipients of the junior and adult amateur Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards for their appropriate and effective cross-country riding.

McKayla Mattison described why earning the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award meant more than just receiving a ribbon and a Charles Owen body protector: “What I found most beneficial about this experience is that for me as a rider, I've always just been that person that's never felt good enough. I like to pick myself apart and look at the things I did wrong rather than the things I did right. So, by receiving this award, it has really helped me see that I am a capable rider and that I have grown as tremendously in the past year.” Mattison continued, “It has also helped me see that all my time, hard work, and dedication to my horses and this sport is really starting to show and pay off!”

Mattison was certainly good enough to walk away from Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials with a double win as she was also the winner of the Junior Training Rider division. Her winning partner, A Sky Full of Starz (or Athena for short), is a 12-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred cross mare who was purchased six months ago from John Michael Durr. “[Athena] puts her heart into everything she does and tries her hardest every ride. I feel very grateful and fortunate to be able to learn from her. She is a very talented horse and has a lot to teach me. Our partnership is really starting to come together and I can’t wait to see what our future has in store,” said Mattison.

After convincing her parents to sign her up for a horse summer camp at ‘Lost Creek Ranch’, Mattison was hooked on riding in 2013. Unsure of which direction she wanted to take her riding, Mattison explained, “I did a little bit of everything; western, dressage, local hunter/jumper schooling shows, and a few WSCA.” Once she crossed paths with Alexis Faith-Anderson, there was no question about which direction she wanted to take her riding. In order to move up the levels of eventing, Mattison found her current coach, “Alexis Faith-Anderson or as I call her 'Allie' and her team Ad Astra Eventing. I have now been with Allie for almost a year and I hope I never have to leave her.”

With a winning horse, a supportive coach, and praise for her talented cross-country riding, Mattison is on the right path for Preliminary. Her future plans include, “moving up to Preliminary in the 2019 season and hopefully in the next two to three years my ultimate goal would be to be able to represent Area IV at NAYC.”

Annika Weisjahn and The Flying Iris. Derith Vogt Photo courtesy of Annika Weisjahn.

Although horses have always been a part of Annika Weisjahn’s life, it wasn’t until a clinic with Lainey Ashker got her hooked on eventing. “I had always known about eventing, but I was a really nervous kid when it came to jumping so I never did any eventing beyond Pony Club. Seven years ago our Pony Club put on a clinic with Lainey Ashker. I remember my mom told me she would try to see if I could do dressage lesson on the jump days and I said, ‘No, I want to jump.' She was shocked. I had an amazing weekend and got hooked on eventing. The next spring I signed up for my first event and the rest is history!”

Transferring from Mercyhurst University to Drake University in order to be closer to her trainer, Meaghan Marinovich, Weisjahn continues to be hooked on eventing. “I decided to change schools and move to Iowa to go to Drake University so I could be closer to my trainer Meaghan Marinovich and the horses.”

Weisjahn described how she found the ride on The Flying Iris, a 10-year-old Appaloosa Sport Horse/Percheron cross mare owned by Stephanie Caston: “We decided that I should get a young horse that I could take my time to produce. I came back from my year at school and rode [The Flying Iris] in the JDRP (Junior Developing Rider Program) with Becky Holder as our first ride [together]. Then I took her to our first horse trial at Training level and finished on our dressage score. Since then we have jumped around a bunch of Training level [horse trials], including the Training Three-Day at Rebecca Farm, and her first Preliminary, where she jumped a clear cross-country!”

Weisjahn praised Charles Owen for offering the award. "It is such an honor to be recognized with this award as my cross-country riding is something I have been working hard to improve! Thank you so much to Charles Owen for sponsoring this great award!”

Congratulations to both Annika Weisjahn and McKayla Mattison on their talented cross-country riding!

About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award
In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council in partnership with Charles Owen founded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to reward juniors and adult amateurs for demonstrating safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding.

The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented at one event in each USEA Area each year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross-country round on the five criteria listed below and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. Level III and IV ICP instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders are all qualified to judge the Award. Click here to learn more about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award.

The USEA would like to thank Charles Owen for sponsoring the Technical Merit Award.

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