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.”

Nov 27, 2021 Convention

World Equestrian Brands Joins as Title Sponsor of the USEA Rider of the Year Leaderboard and Contributing Sponsor of the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is thrilled to welcome back World Equestrian Brands as the Title Sponsor of the USEA Rider of the Year Leaderboard for 2021 and 2022. This year’s USEA Rider of the Year will be honored at the 2021 USEA Year-End Awards Ceremony held during the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention on Saturday, Dec. 11 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico. World Equestrian Brands will generously provide the winner with a prize of $500 in value. Next year, the USEA Rider of the Year will be recognized during the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention which will take place in Savannah, Georgia on Dec. 7-11, 2022.

Nov 27, 2021 Classic Series

Slaughter, Berry, and Shade Conclude 2021 Season with Wins in Fresno Classic Three-Day Event

What better way to draw the competition season to a close than with a win in a USEA Classic Series division? Three competitors did just that on the weekend of November 17-18 at the Fresno Horse Park in Fresno, California.

Nov 26, 2021 Convention

Rebecca Farm Returns as Gold Level Sponsor for the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the renewed partnership with Rebecca Farm. Rebecca Farm will return as a Gold Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention and will be the exclusive sponsor for the Annual Meeting continental breakfast. This year’s Annual Meeting & Convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 9-12, 2021.

Nov 26, 2021 Rules

What You Need to Know: New Eventing Rules Effective December 1, 2021

With the new competition season kicking off officially on December 1, it’s time to brush up on the USEF Rules For Eventing ! There are five new rules and amendments that will take effect at the start of the new season regarding competition approvals, officials, and more. To access the full 2022 USEF Rulebook, click here.

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