Sep 02, 2023

Polished Plans Pan Out for Beginner Novice on Cross-Country at the AEC

By Chelsea Lyn Agro - USEA | Press Release
Amie Loring and Excel Star Cast Away lead the USEA Beginner Novice Horse Championship. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

Lexington, Ky.—September 2— Beginner Novice riders left the start box today and are still sporting high levels of enthusiasm despite the relentless nature of competition, and all that needs to be done in-between phases, as the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds heads into its final day. The big atmosphere inspired mighty plans, all of which went swimmingly for our first-place leaders who are still hanging onto their overnight dressage scores after going through the notable head of the lake.


USEA Beginner Novice Horse Championship

Amie Loring’s 6-year-old Thoroughbred/Holsteiner cross gelding Excel Star Cast Away (Ulysses x Lost In Glann) realized where he was today during his cross-country trip, bringing more energy to the table. “He was a bit of a lunatic this morning. He was quieter yesterday. I think he’s just catching on to his job,” said Loring. “The course was absolutely fantastic. I think he did a nice job. It was fair, it rode really well—it was just a great course.”

Loring opted to warm up her horse away from the actual warm up area and then gradually move closer, as to introduce the big atmosphere at a pace that was more digestible for both horse and rider. Show jumping brings on its own case of nerves, especially when you’re last in line and the pressure is relentless.

“I think I tend to get the most nerved up about show jumping…he’s a bit spooky so the grandstands will be very hard for him I think, as will some of the fillers,” said Loring. “It’s funny, he tends to be spooky but when you point him at something, he wants to take you to it at least.” They have a score of 25.6 going into the third and final phase.

Tied for second as we make way for the show jumping phase are Carol Kozlowski aboard Jill McNicol DVM’s 7-year-old Connemara stallion Elodon Zodiac (Century Hill’s Aedan Zodiac x Castlebar Gaelic) and Deborah Snyder riding her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred chestnut mare Eagle Eyed Lady (Elite Squadron x War Eagle Lady), both holding onto their dressage score of 27.5.

USEA Beginner Novice Rider Championship

Sue Goepfert and Isabeau VT.

Sue Goepfert and Susan Coleman’s 11-year-old Oldenburg/Hanoverian cross mare Isabeau VT (Ideal x Flambeau) had a little bit of a spooky start to their cross-country trip today, but it didn’t rattle the impressive lead she has over her fellow competitors. She still sits on her dressage score of 27.5 going into the show jumping phase.

“She was quite spooky at the first four jumps, looking at the jump judges and various spectators,” said Goepfert. “After that she clicked in and was quite game.” Goepfert claimed that dressage is their strongest phase, which isn’t hard to believe since they do hold some cushion on the leaderboard. “She was bred for [dressage] but enjoys jumping, too. I’m working on getting my bronze medal with her in my spare time. I will be retiring at the end of the year so I hope to have more time to work on that,” said Goepfert.

There is no doubt that every ride will work toward an overall goal for Goepfert, but she is feeling the pressure of this specific competition. “I’m very hard on myself and feel like I need to not screw up to tarnish her show record.”

Nicola Tucker and her 15-year-old Belgian Draft/Thoroughbred cross mare Pandora were tied for second-place after dressage but cross-country offered the opportunity for them to claim that position theirs alone with just maintaining their dressage score of 30.9. Louise Gillam moved from fourth to third-place standing on the leaderboard with a successful cross-country trip on Wicked Worry, her own 6-year-old bay Thoroughbred gelding. They have a score of 31.3 going into show jumping.

USEA Beginner Novice Amateur Championship

Ryan Ballou and Astaire.

Ryan Ballou was as calculated as he could be in his cross-country trip today on his own 7-year-old gelding Astaire (Egescovs Habibi x Karet), the Danish Warmblood who goes by “Fred.”

“We left super early for warmup," said Ballou. "It was definitely our goal to make sure we got out there, we got myself and Fred really situated and comfortable with everything. We didn’t want to go out there and feel rushed, feel hectic.” Ballou joked that he is a type-A personality, meaning he prefers a plan and tries to stick to said plan to the best of his abilities. But he’s not unrealistic. After all, this is eventing.

“You can have a plan but nothing’s a given. At a certain point you’re going into it all entirely blind. You don’t know exactly how the course is going to look when you’re out there, but we did everything we could and it really paid off.”

What Ballou can count on with certainty is that he and trainer Julie will be on the same wavelength every step of the way. “Julie and I go to jumper shows, we do a lot of work together—she knows exactly how I’m going to ride before I’m even tacked up, and we both know what to be looking for. I know that she’s going to be there to help me out.”

And that mentality—knowing someone is in your corner—can take a rider all the way to the end of each phase with hope and confidence. The support Ballou has is evident in his riding and stable time. “It really takes a village and we’ve built a village here in barn 12 this year.” They have a score of 26.6 going into the show jumping phase.

Moving up from third to second-place standing is Nancy Braghirol on Elizabeth Coulter’s 16-year-old Cleveland Bay mare Chakolas In Style (Knaresborough Fusilier x Chakolas Calgary) with her dressage score of 29.7. Newly in third place is Michaela Holmes (Wisconsin) aboard her own Stonewall Georgia (Hillcrest’s Top Hat), the 16-year-old chestnut Welsh-Thoroughbred mare, maintaining her dressage score of 30.6.

USEA Beginner Novice Master Amateur Championship

Lori Mullen and Fantastic Flair.

Lori Mullen and Fantastic Flair, her own 10-year-old off the track Thoroughbred gelding (Western Expression x Coracao Beijo), rode her plan and edited the ride as necessary, which drew out some playful technical decisions.

Mullen was concerned about all the color on the field today, and after her trainer mentioned that the third fence had some refusals she put up a mental sticky note after she left the start box. “He did kind of back off—I think maybe because it was shady—and so I just tapped him on the shoulder and he went on,” said Mullen.

It’s always a good day when we can laugh at our own mistakes, especially if it means that we don’t compromise a leading score in the process. “I made a few mistakes! I had walked my lines in a different place then [where] the dirt went over the asphalt.” Mullen noted that she realized she was in the wrong place but didn’t want to make a turn on the asphalt so she quickly righted her course when she could safely do so. And since she was already in the mood for on-course decision-making, Mullen white-knuckled her score by thinking of the fly.

“I went to the left finish flag to add a little more time because it was the furthest distance and I knew I was going to be tight on the speed fault, so the announcer said, ‘Oh she barely made the finish flag,’ but actually that was totally planned,” said Mullin with a laugh. The pair have a score of 23.1 as they head into show jump.

Nancy Read held onto her overnight score of 25.8 aboard her own Oldenburg gelding Classic Chrome PCH (con capilot x Southern Belle). Anna Wallace also held onto her overnight score of 26.3 on her own 8-year-old Trakehner mare Kalaska (Ivanhoe x Koko K) to stay in third.

USEA Beginner Novice Junior Championship

Kelsi Goodare and Carli 13.

Kelsi Goodare piloted Carli 13 (Crunch x Herri), the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, around the cross-country course today and is still beaming from the whole experience. And how could she not? She’s sitting in first-place standing on her dressage score of 23.

“I’m over-the-moon about it,” said Goodare. “We were a little spicy in our warmup. He can get a little anxious with all the chaos so we just had a chill warm up off to the side but he was super good.”

That anxiousness came out as a wiggle here or there coming to the first fence but Goodare is good at being the buddy her partner needs every time he has an opinion or question about something. “He was a little wiggly to the first [fence] but there were lots of words of encouragement from me,” said Goodare. “He’s normally a pretty spooky horse but as long as I keep him straight he’ll jump anything.”

As for show jumping, Goodare finds it her favorite phase. She’s also her biggest competition as she does some self inventory as a rider. “It’s so much fun to ride out in the big arena. That’s just such a staple. It’ll be really good to see where I’m at and how I ride it. He knows his job and it’s good for me. It’ll really just be on me and how I work through it.”

Emma Bialko and her 17-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar-Thoroughbred cross gelding Fullerton (Freshman SPF x Doctor Hilary) remain in second place with their dressage score of 24.1 and Brynn Kiel riding her own Princeton still sits in third place on 25.9. Princeton is a 20-year-old Friesian Paint gelding (Xamy out of XXXtra Foolish April).

USEA Beginner Novice Junior 14 & Under Championship

Georgia Gobos and Black Gold.

Georgia Gobos rode Barb Crabo’s 20-year-old German Sport Pony Black Gold to keep a brilliant overnight score of 24.1 after their cross-country trip today. “It was really good, we went really fast,” said Gobos, with a laugh. “Normally we go way too slow, or we go way too fast—one of the two. Everything was good. The last jump was a little rocky. I just went to trot and I didn’t really set him up well so it was kind of not good but he was a good boy and he did it.”

And Gobos is careful not to upset the fiery but steady pony. “Because he’s older, he doesn’t really like the bigger jumps and he kind of takes a lot of things personally, so we’ve just been really trying to work on getting him comfortable with everything and confident.”

With her trainer Maddie Temkin, Gobos has been devoted to show jumping as of late and she’s feeling confident over the third and final phase. “We’ve been working on the show jumping part and it’s gone really well—it’s definitely one of our stronger phases.” She joked that her goal is to not throw up tomorrow no matter how high those nerves take her.

Charlotte Schaef sits in second-place standing with a score of 25.5 on Georgia Dillard’s Normandy’s Cole’s Clover, a 19-year-old Irish Sport Horse Mare (Normandy’s Four Leaf Clover x Racin’ Rosa). And in third-place standing is Emma Whitaker (Clarksville, MD) riding Hedgerow Farms 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HSH Golden Boy (Eastern Hero x Princess Boo) on a score of 25.8.

About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is the pinnacle of the sport at 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 combinations 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles; Gold Level Sponsors: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.

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