Oct 28, 2021

Rider Reflections: Area V Championships Conclude with Smiles All Around

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Photos courtesy of Lauren Hoover, Madyx Guidry, Laura McEvoy, and Eleanor McClain.

The Area V Championships were split into two action-packed weekends with the Novice and Beginner Novice sections taking place during the Meadowcreek Park event in Kosse, Texas in September, and the Preliminary and Training sections running during the Holly Hill Horse Trials in Benton, Louisiana in late October. Four horse and rider pairs rose to the occasion and claimed Champion honors, and we caught up with each pair to recap their thoughts on their successful weekends.

Preliminary Champion: Lauren Hoover & Atlanta VII | 34.0

Atlanta VII following the Area V Championships. Courtesy of Lauren Hoover.


Lauren Hoover describes her relationship with her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Atlanta VII (Vancouver x Phildelphia GHR), a.k.a. Blackie, as that of an old married couple. “He’s been the most consistent part of my life through college and work,” Hoover recalled. “Competing with him now is like hanging out with a best friend. As long as I point him in the right direction, he'll take me wherever I want to be.”

Hoover and Blackie have had a successful 2021 so far, but the first-place finish at the Area V Championships was the icing on the cake. After delivering a dressage test worthy of a 32.0, the pair put in a double-clear show jumping round to sit in third. It all boiled down to cross-country, and after a clear round with only 2.0 time penalties, the duo moved up to first to finish on a 34.0. On their experience at Area V Championships, Hoover shared, “Holly Hill Farms is a fantastic event venue, and the owners always put on a top-rated show. For Halloween this year, the rider/horse costumes out on cross-country were especially creative, which just added to the festive energy always present at Holly Hill Horse Trials.”

Training Champion: Madyx Guidry & Dancin’With Thunder | 37.6

Madyx Guidry and Dancin'With Thunder. Photo courtesy of Madyx Guidry.


Adding just one rail to their dressage score to finish on a 37.6 in the Training Championship was Madyx Guidry aboard her 7-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding Dancin’With Thunder. Guidry and “Dirk” have been together since the summer of 2020 and she most admires the gelding’s personality. “He is one of the goofiest horses I know,” she shared. “He can always brighten up my day with the little things he does, whether it’s his grumpy moods, lip quivers, or wanting to eat 24/7. He also always tries to please me even if he isn’t sure. We may have had our ups and downs, but his attitude through it all is amazing. He can be challenging, but is also so rewarding.”

The highlight of Guidry’s weekend was overcoming obstacles that the pair have worked on all season long. “This was our first Training show back after coming back from a setback in the spring and it went perfectly. I am so proud of the hard work that Dirk put in. My favorite memory would have to be crossing the finish line after cross-country, knowing that not only did we go double clear but that we won!”

Novice Champion: Laura McEvoy & Visconti | 26.2

Laura McEvoy and Visconti. Photo courtesy of Laura McEvoy.


Laura McEvoy took a chance in 2017 and purchased her now 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding Visconti (Viscount x Passionata) based on his free jump video. “I thought, 'wow – this horse could be a phenomenal event horse,’” she reflected. “But after working with him for several months, I started to worry he might not be cut out for eventing. While he had tons of scope and great form, he was not particularly brave.” Hoping that Visconti’s show-off type attitude would excel in a competitive atmosphere and schooling the course at Willow Draw a few times, she decided to enter him in the 2018 Willow Draw Charity Show. While the duo won their first outing together, McEvoy claimed cross-country was a struggle and she steered Visconti to a career in the show jumping ring.

“Over the next two years, we competed at a few jumper shows and a dressage show, which he seemed more suited to,” she continued. “I didn’t have any real plan to try eventing him again. It was more a result of my getting tired of traipsing around after my students cross-country schooling. I thought, ‘I’ll just bring him along next time and hack him about and maybe play in the water.’” To McEvoy’s amazement, Visconti seemed to enjoy the work in the cross-country field this time around, and so his eventing career began again. A decision that seems to have paid off as the horse has won every event he has entered in 2021, including the very competitive Area V Novice Championships where he added a single rail to his dressage score of 26.0 to lead the victory gallop on a final score of 30.0.

Beginner Novice Champion: Eleanor McClain & Abbigael | 32.0

Eleanor McClain and Abbigael. Photo courtesy of Eleanor McClain.


Eleanor McClain keeps her new horse, the 15-year-old Warmblood mare Abbigael, at her small barn and is solely responsible for her care, a fact that McClain believes has allowed her to know the gray mare in a much deeper way. “It was a difficult transition at first,” McClain said of her relationship with her new mount. “Month after month I worked, desperately trying to connect with her.” The pair has overcome a huge learning curve as they got to know one another, but despite some bumps in the road, McClain left each show with a positive mentality and asked herself, “What did I learn from that, and how can I fix it?”

After all of the triumphs and tribulations, crossing the finish line at the Area V championships and knowing they had won the event from start to finish on their dressage score of 28.3 felt unbelievable. “I was hesitant to do the championships because I would be competing against adults, but it ended up being an incredible experience,” McClain shared. “ I am so thankful for the opportunity, so thankful to Meadowcreek for hosting, to my trainer Mrs. Lisa Phillips for always believing in me, and for Abbigael, for always giving me her absolute best and teaching me so well.”

May 15, 2022 Competitions

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B Master the CCI 4*-L Division at Tryon Spring International Three-Day Event

Boyd Martin claimed the win aboard Fedarman B on a final score of 29.0 in the CCI4*-L division to claim the CCI4*-L USET Foundation National Championship, adding nothing to their dressage score after two double-clear jumping rounds. In reserve, and the highest-ranked international rider, Colleen Loach and Vermont, the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing x Heraldik XX) owned by Peter Barry, also completed their weekend without adding any points, ending on a score of 29.3. Clinching third place honors via double-clear stadium round for a total of 31.0 points was Leslie Law and Lady Chatterley, the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor 48 x Mytens XX) owned by Lesley Grant-Law, Jackie Brown and Steve Brown.

May 15, 2022 USEA Foundation

Ever So Sweet Scholarship Recipient Sierra Lesny Looks Back on a Successful Season

In 2021, Strides for Equality Equestrian (SEE) and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) established the Ever So Sweet Scholarship which provides a fully-funded opportunity for riders from diverse backgrounds to train with five-star eventing Sara Kozumplik Murphy for one season (winter or summer). The scholarship funds cover full board and training costs for one horse, several lessons per week, housing, a stipend for living expenses, competition fees, and coaching at competitions. During the duration of their working student opportunity, participants learn to manage, care for, and compete horses in an immersive program and will have the opportunity to work as part of the team in all aspects of running a large, competitive barn, in addition to making critical professional connections that would otherwise be unattainable.

May 14, 2022 Association News

Equine Fatality at the Majestic Oaks Ocala H.T.

Reddick, FL - The organizing committee of the Majestic Oaks Ocala H.T. is sad to report that No Limits, Oops a 16-year-old gelding ridden by Aline Briot in the Training Rider division experienced a fall at fence 17 on the cross-country course. The horse received immediate veterinary attention at the fence and was euthanized onsite. Aline Briot was uninjured in the fall.

May 14, 2022 Education

Eventing Fact: You Will Sometimes Fall Off

This story first appeared in the May 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.

In all horse sport, there’s a risk that you might hit the deck. But if you’re an event rider, that is pretty much guaranteed.

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