Jan 19, 2022

My Valentine Steals Hearts as the 2021 Pony of the Year

USEA/ Taylor Pence photo.

Sidnee Milner and My Valentine did not become partners out of sheer coincidence. The pony and rider combination that took home the 2021 SmartPak USEA Pony of the Year award were a product of the thoughtfulness and generosity of family friend and trainer Tawn Edwards. Sidnee was, at the time, a young and inexperienced child rider looking for a partner to teach her the ropes of eventing; My Valentine was a well-seasoned eventing pony who knew the job of advancing young riders well and was looking for her next partner. Over their three-year relationship, the duo have accumulated various ribbons and accolades together with 2021 being the most impressive of their seasons thus far.

Sidnee, even at her young age, has already had a crash course in what it takes to rise up the event level ranks as her mom, Halliea Milner, is the owner and trainer of Go With It Farm out of Sandy Springs, Georgia. The partnership formed between her and the Welsh pony mix seemed destined with the family’s close relationship to esteemed eventing professional Tawn Edwards.

“I was at the point that I was looking for a pony that could take me through Novice level potentially and My Valentine has plenty of experience with that,” explained Sidnee. In her time with Tawn Edwards, the pony had been the trusted companion of both Tawn’s niece and her own son in safely climbing up the levels.

“It was a personal gift for us to even have the opportunity to have this pony,” Halliea chimed in. “She is very treasured by their whole family and certainly was not for sale at the time, but Tawn called and proposed the idea to us. It was a huge deal for her to even offer the pony to us for Sidnee to gain knowledge on.”

USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Besides her extensive knowledge of the job, Sidnee says that it is My Valentine’s overall personality and attitude that has made her such an invaluable asset to her career and development.

“I think part of what makes her so special is that, on top of being very athletic, she is also extremely forgiving,” Sidnee detailed. “She is extremely kind and patient with all people - other horses, not so much! When you are riding her though, her attitude is very patient, and she is the type that if you mess up quite a bit she will just continue on and encourage you to try again. That kind of personality has been amazing to learn on.”

The duo have competed in over 30 events together since their official show debut in January of 2020 and raised the bar on their previous personal best of reserve on the leaderboard for Beginner Novice in 2020. The USEA’s new point system adds up points accumulated over the exhibitors' top six events to produce its leaders. Certain events such as long-format events may also count for more points than other regular show formats. With a busy season behind them, the pair proved they had mastered the level and emerged as the 2021 Pony of the Year leaderboard champions.

“I fell in love with her immediately, and have been so fortunate to grow up on her” gushed Sidnee. “She really has taught me everything I know.”

USEA/ Taylor Pence photo.

Sidnee has since moved on to another horse to continue her growth but the family has no plans of saying any goodbyes to the special mount. My Valentine is currently doing what she does best and producing yet another young, determined rider up the ranks under the tutelage of mom Halliea at Go With It Farm.

“I’m so excited for this pairing,” Sidnee added. “Her new leasor is one of my best friends and My Valentine has been so special to me- I know they will do a great job together!”

May 26, 2022 Education

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Beginner Novice or Novice Level?

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels. You can access this guide by logging into your online services account.

May 25, 2022 Profile

Now On Course: Handing Over The Reins

I’m not one for the spotlight. As the voice of the Association, you don’t need to know my personal views, political, eventing, or otherwise. So despite my byline appearing on thousands of articles on the USEA website and magazine, this is probably only the second time I’m writing about myself (the first was about my love for lessons, and reading it now makes me laugh as I am still 100% addicted). But as I am now just a USEA member I thought I would share a bit of my journey to add to our member spotlight series, Now on Course.

May 24, 2022 Education

Tips for Successful Haul-In Schooling

You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

May 23, 2022 Eventing News

US Equestrian Announces Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, from July 1-2, 2022. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello.

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