Sep 03, 2021

Overnight Novice Leaders Remain in Pole Position after Cross-Country

Jane Musselman and Engapore. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle Photo.

For Immediate Release: Novice competitors donned their safety vests and sported their favorite colors as the sun rose over the cross-country track Friday morning. With the first of six divisions kicking off at 8:00 a.m., the famous head of the lake saw rider after rider through later in the afternoon. While there was some shuffling of placings, the overnight leaders from dressage in each division held onto the coveted top spot upon the conclusion of their cross-country tests.

Novice Rider

Jane Musselman and Bentley's Best. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


A clear cross-country ride inside the time was just the ticket for Jane Musselman. She’s still in the top placing of the competitive 53-entry USEA Novice Rider Championship aboard Bentley’s Best.

Hauling in from Louisville, Ky., Musselman competes often at the Kentucky Horse Park, but this week is a different ball game. “It's great to always to be able to show at the Horse Park, but you know it's a totally different experience [during AEC]. Everything is just bigger and grander and all the competition and it's pretty special,” she said.

The 14-year-old Trakehner gelding boasts an impressive 24.2 going into the final phase.

Less than two points behind the overnight leaders, Nancy Z. Wilson, of Flat Rock, N.C., and Lagerfeld, a 10-year-old German Sport Horse (Last Man Standing x Bonja), went penalty-free today to stay on 25.6 points.

Madeline Bletzacker, Galena, Ohio, stepped into third place with Drummer Boy on a score of 26.6. Her 13-year-old Hanoverian (Don Principe x Winterzauber) added nothing to his score on Friday.

Novice Master Amateur

Jane Musselman and Engapore. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


Jane Musselman is two-for-two. She’s leading two championship divisions for the second day in a row. Her Engapore tops the USEA Novice Master Amateur Championship.

The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Engapore (Singapore x Orize) stands ahead of the pack on a dressage score that carries no additional penalties of 26.

“[Bentley’s Best] is very strong. He likes to run, actually both of them are pretty, pretty much the same cross country — very bold and they like to go fast so I have to be very mindful of the time at this level.,” Mussleman said.

Darlene Walters, Franklin, Ind., and Concord Dawn, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred (Smart Guy x Della Street) stepped up one position to hold second overnight on a score of 26.6. Making the trek from Santa Fe, N.M., Jennifer Achilles rounds out the top three on 26.8 penalties aboard Excel Star Lance, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse by ​​Lancelot who was sourced by Courtney Cooper.

Junior Novice

Mia Brown and Duke HW. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle Photo


California native Mia Brown is now in a two-day lead of the Junior Novice Championship on the impressive score of 22.3. Partnered with Duke HW, her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Delatio x Stella Girl), Brown, she finished double clear thanks to a tack change in warm-up.

“This was only my second time riding him on the grass, and the first time using studs in warm-up. He actually felt stickier than he usually does because we were both getting used to the amount of grip the studs give us. So I ended up putting on a small pair of spurs, and I think it really helps both of us just get a little quicker off the ground,” she said. “He came like super forward to everything. I was a little worried about the terrain, but it ended up helping us a lot because it made him sit down on his hind end, so I put my leg on and it was super bold to all the fences.”

They have a rail in hand heading into Saturday’s finale.

Ava Stevens and Two Against The World, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Reputed Testamony x Black Orchid), sit in second place. Past AEC Champions, these Indianapolis, Ind. natives are on their dressage score of 27.6.

Partnered with her own Peter Pan, Cincinnati, Ohio’s Zoe Hagedorn is third. She and the 6-year-old Holsteiner (Connor x Wanda PP) are also sub-30 with a score of 28.2.

Junior Novice 15 & Under

Margaret Frost and Euro Star. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


Margaret Frost, a 15-year-old from Newnan, Ga., galloped easily around the Kentucky Horse Park to remain in control of the USEA Junior Novice 15 & Under Championship.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” was coach Julie Richards’ advice before Frost went on course, and that’s exactly what she did to go clean with Euro Star, her 12-year-old Warmblood gelding (Qredo Van De Kempenhoeve x Panama).

“[The Head of the Lake] I felt was just super fun. I mean, he was a little spooky going in but he just fared everything so well,” Frost said. “He just listened to me perfectly. He was just on his game. And he didn't look at anything.”

Laura Voorheis and Sally Smedley maintained the top three as well, holding on to second and third place, respectively. Voorheis is on a score of 30.7 with Herbst, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Aldato x Miss Beckett). Smedley is partnered with Golden Ticket CR, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse (Danny Gold x Stutbuch 1), on 31.2 points.

Novice Horse

Adalee Ladwig and Argenta MSF. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


Lexington, Ky. resident Adalee Ladwig swelled with pride after completing the USEA Novice Horse Championship cross country with Argenta MSF, a horse she produced herself.

The 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Jesper x Callie) went double clear to keep her dressage score of 27.

“It's pretty much a dream come true,” Ladwig said. “I love eventing so much, and be able to do it with a horse that you brought up yourself. It's so rewarding.”

Hailing from Poway, Calif., Chloe Smyth and Michelle Donaldson’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Breitling x unknown) Byzantine SC made easy work of the Novice cross-country track to remain on 28.3 penalty points. Team Holling LLC’s Fernhill Copain, a 5-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Corico Z x De Zazoe VH ST Anneke) also stays in third place with Jonathan Holling, Ocala, Fla., in the irons. Their dressage result of 28.8 carries on to the final phase.

Novice Amateur

Cecilia Emilsson and Blazing Angel. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


Sitting in first after dressage isn’t an unusual scenario for Cecilia Emilsson and Blazing Angel, her own 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Firecard x Angliana). The duo have gone into the second phase of competition in the lead at several events in the past, but with the second-place pair just one point behind her, Emilsson was feeling the pressure before her warm-up began.

“My nerves have been wracked the entire day. She felt absolutely phenomenal in the warm-up so I felt confident, but also a little terrified to mess up. It felt really good. There was a lot of pressure! She is a really good girl and is really brave!”

After a successful warm-up, Emilsson felt confident in the start box and had a plan in place – a plan that was almost spoiled when Emilsson’s watch froze at the three-minute mark while on course. “I looked down at my watch and thought to myself, ‘why is my watch stopped at minute three?’ I knew that I was fast, so I really tried to pace myself coming in, but I wasn’t sure when I crossed the finish if I ended too fast.”

Emilsson’s trainer Julie Penshorn of Sunborn Stables in Chisago City, Minnesota, laughed as she recalled the time glitch, “She was going really fast! She was probably running at 440mpm, she was close to Training speed! Thankfully, she really slowed down!”

Emilsson and the Blazing Angel will go into show jumping sitting on a two-phase score of 21.1. The remainder of the top three in the Novice Amateur division remain unchanged after cross-country with Kai Bradley aboard Diamonds Forever, her own 9-year-old Hanoverian mare (Donar Weiss GGF x Whizzo) sitting in second on a 22.5 and Samantha Schwartz and Rumble Fish, her 15-year-old Quarter Horse gelding (Pure Pauli x Miss Diamond B Okie) rounding out the top three on a 28.1.

Novice show jumping gets underway at 7:30 a.m tomorrow.

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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 for 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. With over 1,000 entries the 2021 AEC is set to be the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 5 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

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