Jun 17, 2024

O'Neal and Clooney 14 Capture the Win at Inaugural Aspen Farms CCI4*-S

By Chesna Klimek - Edited Press Release
Karen O'Neal and Clooney 14. Ashley Kemp Photography photos

Yelm, Wash.—June 16—At the end of an exciting weekend at Aspen Farms Horse Trials, Karen O'Neal and Clooney 14, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Annika Asling, sealed the win in the inaugural CCI4*-S. They started the division in the lead with a dressage score of 35.0, but then dropped to second after show jumping on Saturday due to one rail. On Sunday they delivered a clean cross-country jumping effort with just 1.2 time penalties to overtake Marc Grandia and Campari FFF, owned by Team Rebecca LLC, who had jumping penalties on the track designed by Morgan Rowsell.

"He was calm in the cross-country warmup; super chill," said O'Neal. "Then he came out of the start box like a dragon. He felt like he was part of me. He did everything I asked him to do out there. It felt great! He just had 3 seconds over the time. For a winding course on grass, and for it raining yesterday, I'm super proud of him. He ended strong. The course was set well and rode beautifully. It was one of the most fun courses I've ever ridden."

O'Neal and Clooney, who reside in North Bend, Washington, won their first Advanced at Aspen Farms last September, and they competed at the four-star level in California earlier this season. Asling has been supporting them throughout their rise to the Advanced level.

"I never thought a four-star could look easy until he started doing it," said Asling. "Now that we're seeing what he can do, it's cool having bigger hopes and dreams. We knew he could do it, but we're also in shock that it happened. It's a team affair, and this is a team win for sure. Karen has been working hard to get cued in at this level to make it happen. Watching her over the years have very nice horses but not quite get to her dreams; this is so rewarding to see her be so successful and be the rider we all know she can be. It came together really well today."

O'Neal and Asling found Clooney as an unstarted 3-year-old and purchased him from a free-jump video. They started him together, taking turns with the ride. After having children, Asling offered the ride to Karen so she could pursue her upper level eventing dreams.

"He's been a dream come true for all of us," said Asling. "He's such a sweet horse to have around. My mom helps take care of him; our kids hang out with him—he's a good boy through and through. He tries his heart out. He loves Karen, loves us, and we love him. He's been amazing."

O'Neal was not the only competitor to move up after cross-country in the CCI4*-S. Sophie Click and her 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Quidproquo, jumped clear cross-country with time added to claim second.

Marc Grandia and GHS Calexico.

Marc Grandia and Campari FFF had two run-outs on course, dropping from the overnight lead to third.

"He's such an aggressive cross-country horse," said Grandia after his ride. "It kind of caught us out today. He's got a lot of jumps left in him, and I just need to figure out where that's going to be next."

While CCI4*-S success was elusive, Grandia did have winning rides in other divisions this weekend. He won Open Novice with Obligado VD Watermolen, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Melissa Jaten.

"He didn't do any competitions last year," shared Grandia. "He did one Beginner Novice this spring at Twin Rivers [Paso Robles, California], and this is first Novice. He's a super horse; he's growing up. He was good this weekend and surprisingly focused. Sometimes he's bothered by the atmosphere; he wasn't at all this weekend."

Grandia and GHS Calexico, owned by Calexico Syndicate LLC, took the title in the competitive CCI3*-S, which consisted of 14 competitors from USEA Area VII, California, and Canada.

The CCI3*-S competition was a crowd-favorite as it proved to be a race against partners. Grandia's spouse Erin Grandia and her mare Hyacinth led the division after show jumping and led the way around the cross-country track, with Marc and GHS Calexico quite literally following behind as the next horse out of the start box. Ultimately, thanks to a slightly faster cross-country ride, Marc was able to overtake Erin by .2 penalties to claim the win.

"Oh, that was fun!" said Marc. ".2—you can't get much closer than that! Erin had a great run; she got to go really fast, and so did I. It was fun to meet at the finish line. She was waiting there for me, and we watched the scores come in. I just barely eked in front of her. My mare was really good. We've been working on going fast and keeping her focused, and that's what she did today. It was wonderful. I went back and forth on doing the four-star with her here, but I ultimately decided I wanted to put three good phases together because I've never actually done that with her. Sometimes we have a tense dressage and good jumping. This weekend all three phases came together. So now we move on; we'll do another CCI4*-S at Rebecca Farm [Kalispell, Montana]."

"It's Father's Day, so I had to let Marc have that," joked Erin after her second-place finish in the CCI3*-S. "But .2 behind him—one stride I could have left out and had it! But it's OK; Hyacinth was great. It was a lot of fun. I felt like I could go a little bit faster. I wanted less than 5 time, and I got it. I'm really happy with that."

Erin and Hyacinth will do the CCI3*-S at Rebecca Farm in July, and they are aiming for the CCI3*-L at Maryland in the fall.

Erin had another successful ride this weekend finishing first on her dressage score in Open Training with Riptide Rio, an Irish Sport Horse gelding she is schooling for Adriane Jimenez. Erin reflected, "he was quite good this weekend. He's not the biggest or fanciest horse, but he's very consistent. He was great to ride."

Todd Trewin and Cooley High Society.

The CCI2*-S division was the largest FEI division this weekend with 19 starters. In the end, clean and consistent riding paid off for Todd Trewin, who moved up from fourth to first aboard his wife Tracey Trewin's horse, Cooley High Society. This was Todd's first return to an FEI division in 30 years, and the 1992 Olympian showcased his years of experience making the questions set forth by show jump designer Chris Barnard and cross-country designer Rowsell look easy.

"It rode great," said Todd after cross-country. "I'm so glad the footing held up. I was worried after the rain yesterday hoping the ground would keep drying out, and it did. The crew does an amazing job with the footing here. Cooley High Society ran well for his first two-star. What a Father's Day present to me!"

Hailey Blackburn and Baral Villester.

Open Intermediate featured a repeat winner: Hailey Blackburn of Santa Rosa, California. She won the Intermediate at Aspen Farms in June 2023 with Kilybunny Amigo, and she won the division this weekend with her newest partner, Baral Villester, an 8-year-old sport horse gelding from Argentina whom she has only had since this January.

"He has been absolutely incredible," said Blackburn. "Every question we ask of him he rises to the occasion. The cross-country course was so fun. It was very different from the courses I've ridden here in the past. I'm from Area VII originally, so I've been around here for quite a while. The open oxer in the back field gave the best feel, and the coffin walked tricky, but he absolutely demolished it. He loves his job; he made it all so exciting. I'd like to thank my team at Chocolate Horse, and Andrea Pfeiffer and Tommy Greengard for finding this horse for me. I'm grateful for the endless support from my crew and family—my dad is here on Father's Day taking out my studs!"

Sara Sellmer and JB Virgin Electric.

In Open Preliminary, Sara Sellmer from British Columbia, Canada, and JB Virgin Electric, owned and bred by Jil Walton, went double clear cross-country to win the division on 25.6.

"She keeps rising to the occasion," said Sellmer after her win. "She has the heart of a lion. She just rocked it today on cross-country. She got a 21 in dressage—that was awesome. But the highlight today was making time. It felt easy. She was full of jump and run. She's not a big horse, but she has a huge heart. I'm grateful for her. And having someone like Jil behind me is invigorating and exciting."

Tommy Greengard of California and I’m All In finished second in Open Preliminary. They were standouts on Friday for scoring the lowest dressage score of the day: 13.4. Emily Schmitz and Fernhill Blueprint finished third in the division.

In Preliminary Rider, Madison Langerak and Normandy Kivalo led the field of 11 from start to finish, adding just 1.2 time faults to their dressage score. Reese Blinks and I'M Jaguar finished second, and Bailie Corless and Casualleigh finished third.

"The highlight of the weekend was the feel he gave me today on cross-country," said Langerak. "The first three jumps I was not on my A-game. I needed to shape up for the rest of the course. He was on it from then on. 10ab with the first skinny chevron was his first moment of pause. He really listened to me when I told him he had to jump it. This was a test for me to practice setting him up less. I have a tendency to slow him down for things. This weekend I wanted to let him grow up more by not carrying him through it so much. We had a lot less time on cross-country than we usually have because of that. It was a really great feeling."

Langerak's show schedule is limited by her commitments to nursing school, but she's hoping she and Norman can make it to the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds later this year.

Aspen Farms has prided itself on elevating the sport of eventing in the Pacific Northwest ever since they ran their first horse trials in 2007. Adding a CCI4*-S was another milestone for the venue, Jonathan Elliott the show organizer, and for USEA Area VII. The 4-star Reception on Saturday attracted one of the largest crowds in Aspen Farms' history.

Max Corcoran, a prior USEA president, was in attendance from the East Coast. Like many who came from near or far, Corcoran enjoyed celebrating the inaugural CCI4*-S in Washington State at Aspen Farms.

"There's so much that stands out to me here at Aspen Farms," said Corcoran. "It's an incredible venue. It's such a special community of people—not only riders and competitors, but the staff and crew that come and run this competition. They run it like a top-notch competition. There's nothing that anyone wants or needs, because all your needs are met here. It's fantastic footing. The cross-country course is stunning. It's a hidden gem. It's far away, but it's well worth the travel."

A key element that makes Aspen Farms shine is their relationship with supportive sponsors such as Gallops Saddlery, Toklat, Enchanting Homes & Farms, Arion, and many others. Together the show sponsors contributed over $32,000 worth of prizes for the top finishers.

An example of the unique prize offerings at Aspen Farms is the "The Arion Challenge," sponsored by Arion. One amateur/ider competitor who wins their amateur/rider division on the same horse at Aspen Farms in both June and September can win a custom Arion jump or dressage saddle.

"Congratulations to all the winners this weekend," said Stacy Von Marenholtz of Arion after the final results from amateur/rider divisions were released. "We're super excited to see you come back to Aspen Farms in September to have a chance to win a custom Arion saddle!"

The next Horse Trials (including the Tin Men Supply Advanced division) and Area VII Championships (Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Preliminary, and Intermediate) at Aspen Farms will run September 13-15.

All scores are available online here.

Follow along with more show coverage on Instagram @AspenFarmsHorseTrials

Or on the Aspen Farms Horse Trials Facebook page.

Jul 13, 2024 Eventing News

Road to the AEC: Chalman and 'War Horse' Classic Greeley Are Headed to Kentucky

I have been working towards my goal of qualifying for AEC for quite some time now. I made the switch from hunters to eventing about eight years ago because I loved the adrenaline rush of cross-country. Although my family wasn’t able to buy a horse that had “been there, done that,” they have shown so much support for me in this dream.

Jul 12, 2024 Classic Series

Keyser, Caflisch, and Romero Add USEA Classic Series Wins to their Resume at Coconino H.T.

The Summer Coconino H.T. and Western Underground Inc. T, N, BN 3 Day Event is a staple on the Area X calendar for its fun environment and, of course, its Classic Series divisions. Competitors from all over flock to Flagstaff, Arizona, to check the box on one of their eventing goals. This year, the event at Coconino offered three long-format divisions and saw two first time winners and one Classic Series veteran rise to the top.

Jul 12, 2024 Adult Riders

Adult Riders All Over the U.S. Forge New Friendships Thanks to USEA Adult Team Challenges

One of the exciting ways that members of the USEA Adult Rider program can come together throughout the year is by participating in a USEA Adult Team Challenge! Adult Team Challenges give adult riders from across the country a chance to compete in a friendly team competition. Read up on some of the Adult Team Challenges that have taken place across the country so far below.

Jul 11, 2024 Eventing News

Weekend Quick Links: July 13-14

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered!

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA

Official Shockwave of the USEA

Official Horse Wear of the USEA