Sep 20, 2023

Meet the 11 New Champions from the Area VII Championships at Aspen Farms

By Chesna Klimek - Edited Press Release
Courtney Drake Photography photos

Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington, served as the beautiful backdrop for this year’s USEA Area VII Championships. In total, there were 11 championship divisions offered from the Beginner Novice level through Intermediate, in addition to the event’s regular horse trial divisions. USEA President Lou Leslie was onsite to lend a helping hand and help issue awards during the prize-giving ceremonies. Meet the 11 new USEA Area VII Champions below!

Open Intermediate Champions: Cristina Rennie & Flight of the Arabesque | 44.7

Cristina Rennie and Flight of the Arabesque

Moving up from third place after dressage to first after cross-country was Cristina Rennie and her 12-year-old homebred Westphalian gelding Flight of the Arabesque (Farscape DSF x Wunder Waltz).

“The whole weekend was a highlight,” Rennie said after their victory lap. “He really rocked the cross-country and made it so I just had to hold on. I bred him 12 years ago. He was supposed to be 16 hands, and he’s about 18 hands, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”

For future goals, Rennie is aiming for a CCI3*-L.

Open Preliminary Champions: Harper Padgett & Captivate | 26.1

Harper Padgett and Captivate

USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) rider Harper Padgett won the Area VII Open Preliminary Championship from start to finish aboard Leonie Padgett’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Captivate (Cunningham x Dorothy’s Cabin). They started their weekend on a score of 23.3 and only added 2.8 seconds of time on cross-country to their score.

Looking back on the weekend, Harper had a clear highlight phase in mind: “The show jump and the way that it rode. I really liked the course this year. I thought that it was open and flowing, which helped a lot of horses in this ring.”

Junior Training Champions: Simone Clark & Indio BMW | 20.7

Simone Clark and Indio BMW

Acquiring the lowest winning score of the Area VII Championships and the horse trial overall was this year’s Area VII Junior Training Champions Simone Clark and Laura Clark’s 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding Indio BMW. Their highly impressive dressage score of 20.7 remained fault-free all weekend long to earn them the win.

“The highlight of the weekend was finishing on my dressage score–I’ve never done that before,” Clark said. “But cross-country was so much fun. It’s always about the cross-country for me. Everything else is fun too, but cross-country is what I do this for.”

Open Training Champions: Mary Burke & Valentino | 21.2

Mary Burke and Valentino

Winning on another impressively low, untouched dressage score was Mary Burke riding her 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding Valentino (Buckingham x St. Pr. Hauptstutbuch Charlotta) who won the Area VII Open Training Championship on a 21.2.

Valentino is still fairly new to the Training level, so this win was very exciting for the pair.

“We just moved Valentino up a couple of shows ago from Novice to the Training division,” Burke shared. “He was second in his first Training, and then first in his second Training, and then won the Training Championships here. We’re extremely proud of him. For a young horse that I imported from Germany and developed—he’s everything I hoped he would grow up to be.”

Training Rider Champions: Shruti Bona & Freesela | 27.3

Shruti Bona and Freesela

When her own horse required downtime due to an injury, Shruti Bona was happy to pick up a catch ride on Hope Cochran’s 15-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare Freesela (Freestyle x Gizela W). She had no idea, however, that her catch ride would help her claim the Area VII Training Rider Champion title.

“I was just hoping for fun rounds this weekend,” said Bona. “It definitely exceeded all my expectations. My cross-country was super, but I was really happy with my dressage test. We had a great test. It was a good feeling to be able to keep her focused in a kind of chaotic ring. Of course, nothing can beat cross-country–it was super fun! It rode awesome. It was a great course.”

The pair started the weekend out in second on a dressage score of 23.3. A double-clear cross-country round moved them up to first, and they held onto their lead despite one rail down in the show jumping to finish on a score of 27.3.

Junior Novice Champions: Sarah Buehler & Orion’s Shining Star | 28.3

Sarah Buehler and Orion’s Shining Star

It was a FOD for this year’s Area VII Junior Novice Champions Sarah Buehler and Roxanne Moore’s 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding Orion’s Shining Star. That 28.3 they earned in dressage slotted them in second, but their double-clear performances in cross-country and show jumping allowed them to move up to the top of the leaderboard.

“The show jumping round today was the highlight for me,” said Buehler. “He felt amazing, and he was amazing in the warm up. We’ve really come together. I’ve only been riding him since July. We got fourth at Rebecca Farm, second at Equestrian Institute Horse Trials, and now we have won champs. Thanks to Roxanne, I have been really lucky to be able to ride him as my catch ride, since my horse is hurt. He is just amazing!”

Novice Rider Champions: Tracey Trewin & Coby R | 22.5

Tracey Trewin and Coby R

Tracey Trewin was dubbed Area VII’s Novice Rider Champion this year riding Cauleen C. Glass’ 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding Coby R (Contendro I x Hermine R). They led the division from day 1 on their dressage score of 22.5, which remained unharmed all weekend long.

“He’s still a new horse to me,” shared Trewin. “He’s such a different ride from my last horse—a Thoroughbred. It’s so different learning how to ride a Warmblood. I know there’s so much more inside of him to get out. Being able to progress together is super fun. I’m starting to trust him a lot. I feel like I’m getting comfortable enough that we could go up to Training level.”

Open Novice Champions: Patience O’Neal & Barney Come Home

Patience O’Neal and Barney Come Home

The Area VII Championships were packed with low scores, including Patience O’Neal’s winning score of 22.2 in the Open Novice Championship aboard Wendy J. Wadhwani’s 10-year-old Barney Come Home (One Way Love x Barlee Cat). O’Neal noted that this win was a great way to conclude the 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding’s season this year.

“The highlight for him this weekend was Stadium,” she said. “He can be a little bit clunky at times in show jumping. He’s still getting the hang of how to be careful. The work we did in the last two weeks really helped with me being able to ride him positively in the show jump and with him also trying a little harder for me. He has improved tremendously since the Equestrian Institute Horse Trials two weeks ago. I’m very proud of him.”

Beginner Novice Rider Champions: Melissa Mohr & Ferrani | 24.4

Melissa Mohr and Ferrani

Melissa Mohr and her 6-year-old German Sport Horse mare Ferrani (Finest x Comtess Ferrara) moved up from second in the final phase of the championship weekend to take home the Area VII Beginner Novice Rider Champion title on a score of 24.4. In addition, the pair also won The Arion Challenge, a special prize sponsored by Arion HST specifically for amateur riders. Because Mohr won the Rider division at the June Aspen Farms Horse Trials in addition to their win in the Rider Championship this past weekend, they were the challenge champions and will receive a custom Arion saddle.

“We love Aspen,” shared Mohr. “I love the facility, and she loves the cross-country course here. It’s the one course where we’ve had the best luck with her. Everyone has been so welcoming and warm—the whole environment here is awesome. I’m super proud to be part of this region.”

Beginner Novice Junior Champions: Kylie Hoxeng & D’eva’s Fleurie | 23.1

Kylie Hoxeng and D’Eva’s Fleurie

In only their second season of eventing together, Kylie Hoxeng and her 13-year-old Welsh Cob mare D’Eva’s Fleurie were named the Area VII Beginner Novice Junior Champions this year at Aspen Farms. They led their division from the first phase and concluded their championship weekend on the same score that they started on: a 23.1.

“I’ve worked really hard with her, and she’s done so much for me,” said Hoxeng. “She was brought up as a dressage horse and just recently I’ve been teaching her to jump. This is our last show for the year, but next year we will kickstart the season off at Novice level!”

Open Beginner Novice Champions: Catie Cejka & Smitten | 28.1.

Catie Cejka and Smitten

Jessica Wickersham, the owner of the 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Smitten (Minister’s Wildcat x Cee’s Tizzy) had an extra special birthday surprise when her young OTTB and his rider Catie Cejka were named the Area VII Open Beginner Novice Champions after wrapping up their weekend on their dressage score of 28.1.

“This horse has come a very long way,” shared Cejka, who was all smiles after their winning show jumping round. “He came off the racetrack and was almost given up on. His owner took him and spent a whole year rehabbing him. For him to get here competing at Championships is amazing!”

For full results, click here.

Full press releases from the Aspen Farm Horse Trials and Area VII Championships can be accessed here.

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Weekend Quick Links: May 18-19

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

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