Tiffany Stewart hasn’t always been an eventer. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where she rode primarily in the hunters. In 2011, she was competing on the A circuit and owned her own farm, where she always kept a stall open to foster horses with the Georgia Equine Rescue League. She got a notification that they needed help for an upcoming auction and so she signed up to lend a hand. That’s where she met Clover.
Crimson Clover, or “Clover” as he’s called in the barn, was discovered by the police tied to a cinder block in the yard of a meth lab when he was 10 months old. The police called the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) and had Clover impounded, but he was so emaciated that the GDA didn’t think he would make it. But, he pulled through and was sent to a prison in Northern Georgia where horses were used as part of their prisoner rehabilitation program.
Almost a year later, at 20 months old, Clover was dubbed healthy enough to be auctioned off. It was at that auction where Stewart saw Clover for the first time. “When Clover trotted out, no one wanted him,” Stewart recalled. “He was little, lanky, and had a huge head and ears. I thought he was adorable, so I decided to take him home.”
“When I picked him up from the auction, you couldn't touch his head,” she described. “You couldn't move quickly around him.” Stewart waited until after Clover had turned 3 to back him. “When I had Clover broken, we all thought he might be gaited. I had no plans for him.”
Thirty days after Clover had been started, Stewart’s hunter trainer offered to buy her current competition horse off of her. “He wasn't a great fit for me,” Stewart said of her Warmblood, “so I said yes. He was sold within a week. I figured I would ride my newly broke rescue horse until I found another big pretty warmblood to do the hunters with. I fell in love with riding Clover, though! He is small and weird, but there was something about him that I fell in love with.”
Knowing Clover wasn’t going to be a good fit for the hunter ring, she called up Mary Bess Davis, an eventing trainer at Triple Creek Eventing in nearby Mansfield, Georgia. “At the time, I knew nothing about eventing, only that it was a sport for very brave people,” Stewart said. “Mary Bess taught him to jump and taught me how to ride outside of an arena.”
Davis took Clover to his first USEA recognized event at Chattahoochee Hills in August of 2015 just months after he’d been started and he won on his dressage score of 23.5. Stewart’s first-ever horse trials was with Clover just three weeks later at the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Horse Trials at the FENCE Equestrian Center. “Keep in mind I had been riding on a flat surface in an arena my entire career – I stress that because it still scares me to canter downhill!” Stewart said. “Now I was going to canter up and down hills, over ditches, up banks (which is almost impossible to do with perfect equitation), and jump fences that look like houses. I was terrified. So was Clover. We made it around clean and when we passed through the finish flags, I teared up. It was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I had ever had on a horse. I have been riding my whole life and nothing ever challenged me like cross-country.” Stewart and Clover finished that weekend in fourth place on their dressage score.
In the five years since his first event, Clover has made the trip to the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) twice, has more than 20 top-5 finishes at the Beginner Novice and Novice level, six of which are blue ribbons, and recently won the Area III Beginner Novice Championship with Stewart in the irons. “He still has some lingering skeletons in his closet and can be spooky under saddle,” Stewart said. “He is very careful over fences and almost never has a rail. He is quirky in dressage but goes into the ring thinking he is the fanciest horse at the show. He is like a dog in the barn and is everyone's favorite. He loves to lick and he will lick any part of your body. He is a very sweet little horse!”
After a stop in the Novice division at the AEC last year, Stewart made the decision to drop Clover back down to Beginner Novice. “He is very spooky on cross-country,” she described, “so I decided to move him back to Beginner Novice. We have had a great time this year competing at Beginner Novice and he has done very well. I am itching to try Novice again, but who knows!”
“I’m always the only one at competitions where, when I trot into the show jumping arena, the announcer says, ‘Now on course, Tiffany Stewart riding Crimson Clover, a gelding of unknown breeding,’” Stewart observed. “I think having an unknown breed because you rescued a horse is a badge of honor.”
“The thing I love about eventing is that, no matter what breed your horse is, you can do it,” Stewart concluded. “The horse needs to have the ability, but I think you can find that in rescue horses, at least at the lower levels. There are a lot of horses that need homes and I don't think you should overlook a horse with a difficult past when finding your next horse. Especially if you don't have thousands to spend. Plus, isn't it nice knowing you saved a horse?”
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.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.
To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.
Every horse who participated this year in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program has a story—a background that involves a breeder who labored over bloodlines, veterinary care, initial training, and so much more. This year’s highest-placing U.S.-bred horse in the 5-year-old division at the Dutta Corp./USEA Young Event Horse Championships, Arden Augustus, is no exception. His breeder and owner, Anita Antenucci of Arden Farms in Upperville, Virginia, started her program nine years ago and said that the Warmblood gelding was a more emotionally driven breeding for her than others due to his connections with Antenucci’s long-time friend Sharon White.