Twelve-year-old Izzy Lenk has been riding since she was just 1 year old. At 2 years old, her mother signed her up for her very first riding lessons. “I’ve loved horses all my life,” Lenk explained. “We came across Waredaca when I was 5 years old, and that’s when my love for eventing began.”
Lenk switched to taking lessons at Waredaca and that was when she first learned about eventing. Every year, Lenk and her mother would volunteer at the Waredaca Classic Series Three-Day. “It was one of my favorite things to see, riders and their horses gallop around cross-country,” Lenk reflected. “I remember I said to myself, ‘One day I want to do this,’ . . . I was so interested in competing in it because from volunteering I could see that this was not easy – I could see all the hard work that has paid off. My favorite phase to volunteer in was cross-country, even though at the time most of the jumps were bigger than me. It always looked like so much fun!”
The thought stuck with Lenk – the goal of competing in the Waredaca Three-Day. “It’s always been one of my dreams and goals,” she affirmed. At the age of nine, Lenk competed in her very first horse trials with her 13-hand Welsh gelding, I Believe in Ghost aka “Ghost.” “I knew even more then, ‘One day I am going to do Waredaca Three-Day,’” she said.
In May of 2019, she started riding her current horse, George 43 aka “George,” an 11-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred cross gelding. Together, Lenk and George earned several top finishes at Beginner Novice in the fall of 2019 and the summer of 2020. “As I started eventing George, my dream started to feel closer to becoming true,” Lenk said. “I knew if we gave it our all, this horse and I would accomplish my dream.”
“George is my best friend,” Lenk described. “He has an eventing background – he was bred to be a hunter pony but grew too big. He’s definitely a goofball! He loves treats, he loves to pick out his brushes from his grooming kit and toss them around, he loves to take his neighbor’s halter and pull it into his stall, and he zooms over the fences.”
In August of 2020, Lenk and George completed their first Novice level horse trials at Waredaca, placing second. Shortly after, they won their Novice division at Seneca, and were fifth at CDCTA and sixth at the Middleburg Horse Trials. Except for a single rail in show jumping at Middleburg, Lenk and George finished all four events on their dressage score, qualifying them for the Novice Three-Day at Waredaca.
Finally, the Waredaca Classic Three-Day arrived, and Lenk and George were entered to compete! They scored a 36.2 in dressage to sit in 23rd place after the first phase and they added no faults on endurance day to move up to 15th place. “He was a little excited walking away from the barn over to phase A, but no complaints,” Lenk said. “Steeplechase was so much fun – we both loved galloping over the fences. Phase C was great, and cross-country was so much fun! It really felt like I was living my dream!”
On the final day, Lenk and George jumped double clear in show jumping to move up to 14th place, finishing on their dressage score. “I was super happy with show jumping,” she reflected. “And it was so much fun to get dressed up for jogs! My favorite phase was definitely cross-country, George and I both love it. Another thing that was also so much fun was having the clinicians, they all helped me so much and I learned so much from them.”
“Competing in the Waredaca Three-Day was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Lenk reflected. “The feeling of making your dream come true and accomplishing one of your lifetime goals is the most incredible feeling ever. It’s so much more than just competing, it’s having that special bond with your horse to do the Three-Day, and it’s crazy how much that bond grew throughout the days! To have done that with your best friend, that’s a memory that I will never forget.”
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Jessica Duffy at [email protected] to be featured.
There were surprisingly few shakeups to the top of the leaderboards Friday at the MARS Bromont CCI, but the incredibly close scores leave no margin for error heading into Saturday’s exciting cross-country phase across all five levels.
Tomorrow, the first of five regional clinics for the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Program kicks off in the central region of the country in Benton, Louisiana, at Holly Hill Farm. Throughout the summer, the remaining clinics on the East and West Coast will follow. At each clinic, 12 hand-selected riders will participate in a two-day clinic led by USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) coaches. The purpose of the EA21 program is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency. The intention is to provide young athletes with access to an added level of horsemanship and riding skills to further their training and skill development with greater consistency.
After the first day of competition, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and her horse FE Golden Eye lead an international field in the CCI4*-L division of the MARS Bromont CCI.