Every year, the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented in each of the 10 USEA areas, awarding junior and adult amateur riders for their safe and effective cross-country riding technique. The Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club Horse Trials (GVRDC), August 17-18, 2019, hosted the Area I leg of the award and adult amateur rider Jax Maxian was named the recipient.
Maxian and Brazen Sky (Simon Pure x Millennium Sky), her 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, were winners at Genesee Valley, leading their division from the start on a dressage score of 30.2 and adding a single rail to their score to finish as the winners on a score of 34.2. Maxian got her start riding horses at a hunter/jumper barn, but converted to eventing after her first cross-country schooling. “A neighbor of ours invited me to go cross-country schooling at her farm,” Maxian recalled. “Not knowing what that was I happily accepted and, if my memory is right, my appaloosa pony refused every single jump, but I couldn't stop smiling . . . I was addicted ever since.”
Maxian has had the opportunity to work with a number of different upper level riders over the course of her riding career, each of whom taught her something different. “As I became a more competitive rider I started to branch out [from Pony Club] and ride with different trainers in the New York area, one of the most influential being Cat Hill, who encouraged me to become a working student so I could learn more about the industry and the upper levels of eventing,” she shared. “My senior year of high school I worked for Hannah Sue Burnett, who helped me quickly move up the levels of eventing and really focused on developing my cross-country seat and position. My freshman year of college I became a groom for Mara DePuy, who not only worked on my technical style over fences and started fine tuning my dressage skills, but also increased my horsemanship and has helped every aspect of my riding.”
“I moved back to New York to attend college and after graduating this spring there was a short period of time (two months) that I worked for an accounting firm to try the whole office-job thing out . . . it didn't last very long,” Maxian continued. “I decided to follow my dream of becoming a professional rider and am currently working for Daisy Trayford at Exmoor Eventing, where I've already learned many invaluable lessons about horse management and my riding has progressed rapidly. I am really excited to see what the future brings!”
Maxian purchased Brazen Sky this past winter as a potential upper-level eventing prospect. “He had competed numerous Training level events with his previous owner,” she said. “This summer I really focused on building our partnership at the Training level and we both have really progressed well and ended up winning our last event at GVRDC HT. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the same goal of running around Kentucky as me so he is for sale!”
“The feedback I received from the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award generally focused on our balance to different combinations, where sometimes we could have been a bit more collected for the combination that was being asked,” Maxian reflected. “Brazen Sky and I have had a lack of confidence recently, and I was trying to ride very positively to the combinations. In doing that I probably lost the collection and rhythm I should be maintaining to be moving up the levels. The feedback to our galloping fences was very encouraging and everyone thought my galloping position was strong. It's always nice to hear positive feedback, especially as I've worked hard at this particular skill, with Hannah Sue, Mara, and now Daisy, who have all focused on its importance.”
Maxian reflected that it is very beneficial to be judged on cross-country riding technique, as the cross-country phase is not typically judged that way and it can be easy to become sloppy in your riding without realizing it. “It is so important to be riding correct to every cross-country fence and doing everything possible to help your horse jump it safely,” she said. “All the feedback, I feel, will be very beneficial to my future cross-country rides and riding career in general.”
“I'm so excited about winning this award and thankful for all the volunteers at GVRDC for their feedback and efforts to run such a successful event,” Maxian concluded. “I also just received my brand new Charles Owen Airowear AirMesh vest in the mail. It fits perfectly and I cannot wait to run around cross-country with it. I will definitely feel safe knowing that I am in such a top of the line safety vest.”
About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award
In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council and 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 of the 10 USEA Areas 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 and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. ICP Certified Level III and IV 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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