Last winter, the organizers of the Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club Horse Trials made the decision last winter to offer a Modified division at our event in August. We run a small event and knew entries would be limited but felt that the quality of what we offer, combined with the novelty of being the first to do so in Area I, made it an attractive prospect. Plus, a few members had asked us to do it! We're very proud of our courses, designed by Jeff Kibbie, and he did not disappoint. The Modified tracks he put together for cross-country and show jumping were true to their purpose, very much a stepping stone between Training and Preliminary.
The event ended up having an odd twist of fate for me, but first for a little history. In 2003, I bred a lovely thoroughbred mare to the Connemara stallion Hideaway's Erin Go Bragh in the hopes of putting another eventing sport horse on the ground. Lookover Erin, the foal born the following year, wasn't quite what I'd imagined - small, opinionated, and tending toward chubbiness. She was destined to take a back seat in my program when I doubted her ability to compete above Novice.
I sold her about six years ago through Courtney Cooper and few years later heard that one of my former students was teaching one of her clients, Patty Clucas, on the mare. I met Patty at a clinic I taught near Gladstone, New Jersey, and was thrilled to see Erin looking plump and content as ever. I also taught Patty's daughter, Cadence, on a lovely pony - Cady seemed to be a great little rider.
I noticed last year that Patty had moved Erin up to Training level with fairly good results. Then, at the beginning of this year, I saw that Cady had ridden Erin at the Plantation Field Horse Trials this spring in the Training and done really well. I sent them a congratulatory note and Patty responded saying Cady's pony was recovering from an injury so Cady would be riding Erin this season and asking if it would it be possible for her to spend some time with me this summer? We agreed on a time frame and the two spent a few weeks at my barn after Fitch's Corner, where she tore it up again. I can't tell you how much fun it was to coach them and even get on Erin a few times to show Cady something. The two went cross-country schooling and jumped around most of local Preliminary level course. It was a blast.
Finally getting to the neat part of the story! I told Patty and Cady that moving up using a Modified division was just what they needed. And . . . we just happened to be having one here in western New York in mid- August. At GVRDC, Cady and Erin were on fire, winning the dressage, scorching around the cross-country, and, with their one rail well in hand, won the division by a significant margin. I happened to be available to present the awards, donning my official "USEA President" hat and was delighted to pin the blue ribbon on the little mare that I bred and thought would only be a Novice horse. The really cool part is that the GVRDC event is held at Hideaway Farm, where Hideaway's Erin Go Bragh, Lookover Erin's sire, was bred and lived his 30 years.
It was so much fun for so many people to see a Go Bragh daughter run and jump on his home turf, and I had to do some explaining to people about how I happened to let this lovely little horse slip through my fingers! But it's all good. Her home with the Clucas family is a wonderful one and it made me so happy to watch her go and have a part in her training. I see big things in store for Cady and Erin!
This year, the Area VI Championships took place on a sweltering weekend in Ramona, California at the Copper Meadows Horse Trials. In order to qualify to compete in the Area VI Championships in 2020, riders had to earn two MERs at the level at an event in Area VI during the qualifying period from August 1, 2019 to August 18, 2020.
Wildfires are currently ravaging the West Coast of the United States. According to the state of California, since the beginning of the year, there have been nearly 7,900 wildfires that have burned over 3.4 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 25 fatalities and nearly 5,400 structures destroyed. In Washington wildfires have burned over 626,000 acres, 181 homes had been lost, and one death occurred as a result. In Oregon, over 1 million acres were burned, and about 40,000 people were evacuated, with about 500,000 people in evacuation warning areas.
“There are people who want to be right and people who want to get better.” Tamie Smith is one of the latter. A member of the 2019 Pan American Games gold medal-winning team with multiple successes through the five-star level, Smith’s career is propelled by a desire for continued improvement and a commitment to good horsemanship.
Having this historic competition close isn't the right result for the sport, and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is working hard to find a solution. The organizer and landowners operate exceptional events on a beautiful piece of land. We are deeply sensitive to the history of the word "plantation" and its connection to slavery; however, this property has no known connections to slavery and was instead named after 'plantings' on the property.