Just four of the eight Novice and Beginner Novice divisions scheduled to perform their dressage tests today in the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena® Feeds at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado were completed before a lightning storm swept through the area, prompting the suspension of competition at 2:00 p.m. for the remainder of the day. While the Novice Amateur, Junior Novice, Beginner Novice Amateur, and Beginner Novice Horse divisions all wrapped up dressage today, there are still four riders to go in Beginner Novice Rider, 10 to go in Novice Rider, 20 to go in Junior Beginner Novice, and all of the Novice Horse competitors.
Frequent CHP competitor Erin Contino and her 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Handsome Ransom (Desert Warrior x St. Casmir’s Secret) swept the Novice Amateur division after the dressage phase with a score of 25.8. “Yesterday in my warmup ride he was obedient but tight and definitely a little distracted,” said Contino. “He was just a bit more reactive than I wanted him. But today when I got on him, I felt him take a deep breath. I rode a little ahead of my scheduled time, the horse in front of me must have scratched. I debated waiting for my time because he was still a little bit up. But I decided to use that to my advantage to keep him a bit brighter and to come up with a bigger test than I normally do. It could have backfired, but it didn’t.”
This AEC is Contino’s first, and she said she was thrilled to hear about the Championships coming to Colorado. “It’s nice that it’s here. We’re really excited. We figured we had better take advantage of that!”
Second place in the division went to Michelle Meghrouni and Swizzle (Blauer Vogel x Swiss Detail), a 7-year-old Holsteiner mare, on a score of 27.0, with Lorilee Hanson and her own 7-year-old Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding Hypnotik (Montego Bay x Trelawny) close behind in third on a 27.5.
Julia Brittain and Haiku. Shannon Brinkman Photo.
Julia Brittain and Haiku, her own 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Sir Donnerhall, lead the 19-horse Junior Novice division on a 29.2. “I got him almost two years ago,” stated Brittain. “I introduced him to eventing, so it’s a big deal to be here. We switched barns a year ago, and my partnership with him hasn’t been as smooth as I would have liked, but we’re definitely on an upward trajectory at this point.”
Going into tomorrow’s cross-country phase, Brittain explained that her goal will be to “not take any of the jumps for granted. Cross-country and dressage are probably our strongest phases. I just need to ride him forward and strong and straight, especially to the combinations.”
Just 0.4 points behind Brittain and Haiku with a score of 29.6 are Miriam Copeland and her own D’Stinctive, an 11-year-old Friesian gelding (Diederik x Rippin And Snortin). Blake Foley and Ellen Doughty-Hume’s 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Judicial Review sit behind them in third place on a 31.8.
Beginner Novice Amateur
Cami Pease and Vibrant. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Cami Pease scored a 24.5 to lead the Beginner Novice Amateur division aboard Vibrant (Orlando x Fatima Van De Heffenk), her own 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. The pair have been working to improve their dressage and the hard work paid off as they went in and laid out a well-executed pattern. “We have been working really hard on dressage,” she explained. “I want to do the dressage regionals this year. I just wanted to go in and be positive; he felt really good. I was a little bit surprised by the score. There were a couple of moments that I thought could have been improved, but that’s always true. He was great. Last year at the AEC he was kind of spooky in the ring; Tryon is kind of a big atmosphere. It was nice that the Horse Park let us get them acclimated and get in the rings. He was great, focused and happy.”
After walking the course, Pease said she is looking forward to running cross-country tomorrow. “It looks great! It looks really fun.” She concluded, “I love that it’s galloping and there are open fields with plenty of space to get into a rhythm. The fences look incredible. It looks like a lot of fun. It’s an incredible backdrop, the sky is huge out here! You can see for miles.”
Sherry Pound and Gestalt, her 6-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (Gloriosus x Celine), sit in second place on a score of 27.4, and the third-place pair, Meagan Counts and Aviator, her own 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding, are just behind on 27.5 penalties.
Beginner Novice Horse
Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer. Shannon Brinkman Photo.
The Beginner Novice Horse division went to Alexa Ehlers and her own 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Clear Laveer (Rascalino x Hauptstutbuch Wincenta 2), who lead the field on a 27.4. “Our test today was good,” said Ehlers. “I’m pleased with him. He was really obedient, which was good. But with that said, he was also pretty fresh. Yesterday we schooled, and that went great. He’s just a really happy dude. The whole point of me eventing him is just for him to learn to enjoy working. I got him for that reason. Today he just seemed really happy, and I’m happy for that reason. He was really steady and did everything I asked of him. He threw in a little porpoise-like move, having way too much fun with himself. I’m just happy that he was having fun the whole time. He’s super rideable.”
After traveling over 20 hours to compete at this year’s AEC, Ehlers hopes to continue her weekend with a strong grip on the first-place position, but her main goal is to continue to have fun. “My plan will be to go out there and get it done, but, I’m merely here to have fun. I just want my horse to have a really good time. I’m going to be the ridiculous person, patting him. Doing all of the things that I don’t do with the other horses. But I want him to go out and have a good time and be confident and come home confident. That’s the whole point.”
In second place are Taylor Lindsten and Claudia Channing’s Chestnut Oak’s Drummer Boy, an 11-year-old Shire gelding (Clononeen Romantic Traveler x Steege’s Beth) on a score of 28.1, and a point and a half behind them in third place are Sophie Mueller and Dawn Holmes’ 24Karat Magic, a 7-year-old Australian Stock Horse gelding by Icewood’s Cadabra, with a score of 29.6.
Click here to view the complete scores.
Officials are working to create a new schedule to accommodate the competitors that were not able to ride today because of the weather. An announcement will be made on the USEA website and social media once a new schedule has been decided upon. But, the Adult Rider and Young Rider parties are still on for 6:30 p.m. this evening!
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. This year, the USEA American Eventing Championships will be held August 29-September 2, 2018 at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the USEA American Eventing Championships: Presenting Sponsors: Nutrena Feeds; Gold Cup Advanced Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Sponsor: Devoucoux; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: VTO Saddlery, Mountain Horse; Bronze Level Sponsors: SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, CWD, Ovation, Acuswede, and Equipparel; Contributing Level Sponsors: Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Emerald Valley Natural Health, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: Ride Safe, GumBits, Equus Magnificus, Scoring Chix, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, A Little Pet Vet, ChubbyCov LLC, The Jockey Club, Absorbine, Arenus Animal Health, Equestrian Athlete Camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
This is it! The weekend we've all been waiting for is finally here - the return to competition has arrived! After nearly three months of suspended competitions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the country and the world, riders are shining up their boots and preparing to trot down the centerline. While our "new normal" will certainly look different than things did before the pandemic, these new regulations are in place for all our safety.
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