Sep 01, 2022

Novice Leaders had No Vices in First Phase at #AEC2022

Jennifer Williams Southworth. Shannon Brinkman photo

For Immediate Release: With a westward sun slung up in another clear sky, day two of the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds came in dancing with Novice Division riders vying for a top spot on the leaderboard, and that's exactly what these riders received by end of day. The first phase for this division was an elegant success as riders piloted their steeds with exemplary fluidity and connectedness.

Novice Amateur Championship

Kentucky resident Jennifer Williams Southworth and 13-year-old gelding Thoroughbred Special Agent (Dance with Ravens x Butterwood) rose to the top of the leaderboard today after a phenomenal dressage test scoring a 27.2. Southworth purchased the gelding in March of this year, and impressively qualified for this spectacular AEC western venue just in the nick of time.

“I purchased him with the thought of ‘I want to go prelim one more time,’ and he was the kind of horse that could get me there safely,” said Southworth. “I travel by myself the majority of the time. I haul alone and ride alone a lot. He’s an easy horse to have around and that was part of the appeal of him when I was looking for a horse.” Worth his weight in gold, Special Agent is indeed a special mount who has elegant dance moves that undoubtedly impressed the judges. “I thought it was a super consistent test. I was quite surprised that we did as well as we did. He stayed soft, he was very relaxed. There’s always things to improve on but I felt really comfortable with the test that we did.

And as for cross-country tomorrow, Southworth is excited, claiming the course to be amazing from an on-foot perspective. “I can’t wait to ride it,” said Southworth. If you’re curious as to how Special Agent performs during cross-country, Southworth is confident when she says, “that’s why I bought him,” which lends all sorts of assumptions that will get sorted out when they hit the start box tomorrow. Without a shadow of a doubt, he will pack Southworth around safely and hopefully allow for some laughs and a good time.

USEA Novice Horse Championship

Tommy Greengard and Cappachina. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Tommy Greengard and Cappachina. Shannon Brinkman Photo

Tommy Greengard and the 7-year-old Oldenburg mare Cappachina (Coeur d’Amour x Rhythm-n-Blues), who is owned by Rebecca Slater, danced their way into the top placing with a score of 23.3 today as the first phase came to a close. A lovely mover with an impressive ability to float around the arena in unison with her teammate, Cappachina is praised for her efforts by Greengard.

“She is absolutely lovely. She has been super successful for us all year,” said Greengard. “We are super excited to have her. This has been the plan for her all year. She did her first training level at Twin Rivers in prep for this, which she won. She was super fluid today and stayed with me the entire time.” It’s a brilliant moment in time when everything comes together, especially in the dressage test. “She kept her swing in the ring. Every now and then I will lose a mark or two for a moment of inconsistency and today she was super consistent and absolutely awesome to ride.”

Greengard is hoping this same consistency carries over into cross-country tomorrow when they tackle new questions and work together to find the answers. “It looks great, everything looks great. Cappuccino is a great jumping horse so it should be super fun tomorrow.”

USEA Novice Junior Championship

Olivia Keye and Oso Mighty. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Olivia Keye and Oso Mighty. Shannon Brinkman Photo

Olivia Keye and 20-year-old Oldenburg Oso Mighty (Idocus x Unknown) made a confident top placing with a score of 27.2 to kickstart their first phase. Earning a top score today might as well have been a red carpet for all the miles traveled from Park City, Utah for Keye for this special event.

“He was awesome–I had a great ride,” said Keye. “I’m extremely happy. He came into the warm-up actually a little bit lazy and going into the ring he put in a lot of effort.” That’s the turn of events that every rider beckons when they enter the arena to pull a top score and Keye certainly received it, thanks to her consistency and ability to communicate effectively and discretely. And a good dose of Montana air never hurts, especially when your stay is extended.

“He’s been good–we’ve been out here since the Rebecca Farm Event in July, so he had time to recover and I didn’t have to make the trip twice,” said Keye. “We’re at Jill Walton’s farm out here.” With cross-country coming up tomorrow, Keye is excited and not shying away from the fact that it’s a big championship course and may offer new questions that will be answered on course.

USEA Novice Rider Championship

Alyssa Cairo and Alyssa Cairo. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Alyssa Cairo and Alyssa Cairo. Shannon Brinkman Photo

The 17-year-old Connemara named Paddington (Yavari x Unknown) ridden by Alyssa Cairo brought in a top placing today with a dressage test score of 25.4. All the way here from Area VIII, Michigan, this novice rider made the trip worth the miles with a great start in this first phase.

“I’m so fortunate, honestly, to have such a great partner in Paddington. Anytime I compete him he steps up to the plate and does what I ask,” said Cairo. That willingness is a great thing to have in your back pocket when new challenges arise, especially with such a long trip prior to the event. “I knew in warm-up he was feeling pretty good, and I was hopeful, but you never can tell. My husband and I trailered Paddington out here, and he’s not always the best traveler so we made sure to stop in North Dakota so he could have an 8-hour break, which was important.”

Cairo knows her steed and his tendencies after putting miles on him in the saddle and on the road, both of which are being put to the test this week at a glorious new venue for the top placing duo. Knowing those intricacies can also lend good foresight into what the next phase may offer Paddington. “It’s a tough course and it’s very intuitive, it’s very challenging, and has a lot of twists and turns, so it’s still anybody’s game.”

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport at 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 4 at the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles Gold Level Sponsors: Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Capital Square, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club, Kerrits; Bronze Level Sponsors: Athletux, The Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equilume, Devoucoux, Fifth Third Bank, Gallops Saddlery, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Clark Nissan; Contributing Level Sponsors: CrossCountry App, WeRideTogether, Haygain, First Interstate Bank, Schellinger Construction, Glacier Bank, Animal Health Solutions Inc., Discover Kalispell; Prize Level Sponsors: Vet Blue, Practical Horseman, Hound & Hare, Strides of Equality Equestrians, Horse & Country TV, Bemer Independent Distributors, Freelance Design, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Flexible Fit Equestrian USA, and more! ATC Sponsors: The Chronicle of the Horse, FITS Riding, Nutrena Feeds, SmartPak, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Kerrits, and Horse & Country TV

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Get a Taste of Eventing with the New Event Horse Program

Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.

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The VIP Volunteer: Julie Murray

Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.

Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.

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