The USEA is following along with Cortney McDaniel and her horse, Charlotte the eventing Clydesdale, on their journey to compete at the Novice Three-Day USEA Classic Series Event at The Event at Rebecca Farm.
The light at the end of the tunnel to Rebecca Farm is shining bright. Charlotte and I returned from Whidbey Island Horse Trials last weekend to finalize our plans for the journey to compete in the Novice Three-Day. We are finally on the last leg of the Road to Rebecca and becoming the very first Clydesdale to compete in a long format three-day event. There is no better place to make history than the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana.
Whidbey Island Horse Trials was great preparation for the challenging long format three-day event we have spent all year preparing for. Charlotte had a beautiful dressage test, one of our best to date, which scored us a 31.4. Due to Charlotte's custom fitness program, she has been the equivalent of a thoroughbred. Dressage has been the most challenging day, so you can imagine how pleased I was when we scored so well.
Charlotte and Cortney all decked out for dressage. Photo courtesy of Cortney McDaniel.
Time for some cross-country! We were up super early. I personally love to ride early in the morning, the cool air benefits Charlotte. Warming up and getting ready the nerves started to kick in. I suddenly realized that this event will be the last qualifier that we need for our Rebecca Farm debut. This is it, I felt like everything was riding on the line, time to put our game face on. With the help of all the other competitors and friends we have made along the way, the cheers heard across the field as we left the start box were all I needed to start off strong. The first few jumps were challenging, followed by two tricky A/B combinations we were headed for the first water.
Charlotte despises the water, this is our most difficult time out on cross-country. My thoughts were on the small amount of ground in between the end of the water hazard and the next jump that was up hill and slightly at an angle. When we jumped the log headed toward the water, Charlotte came to a screeching halt at the edge of the water, which threw me off balance. A little leg and a promise to wash her beautiful feathers after the course, we were off! Now to cover more ground and get back on out time.
Galloping across the last open section of the course, I could hear all of Charlotte's fans cheering us on. You could feel Charlotte gain more energy and power through the second water like she has no fear in the world. Over the last few jumps we raced through the finish flags! With a few time faults and no jump faults, it started to feel more real. Montana was not just a dream, the long format three-day was going to be in our future.
Charlotte and Cortney ready to tackle the final phase of competition. Photo courtesy of Cortney McDaniel.
Last day, walking up to the sand arena after multiple pep talks, we made it to our final phase: show jumping. The last section to qualify for the three-day. I have never felt so ready to make my dreams a reality. Jumping through our show jump course was a blur, it was a dream come true. She flew over everything with ease and had more energy than ever at the end of the weekend.
Walking back to the stall with my Clydesdale in hand, while I fed her cookies and gave her all the love she deserved, I thought about what we had accomplished. The dream of going to Rebecca Farm and competing in the long format three-day was not just an idea, it is going to come true. I am going to compete with the very first Clydesdale to run a long format three-day event! After four Novice qualifiers in two and a half months, sweat, tears, and lots of horse cookies, Charlotte is going to make history! And we would not be even close to this with out the help of the amazing and encouraging team behind us. It truly takes a village, from our trainer, vet, farrier, and families to the outpouring of love and support from our fans!
So we start our packing, start our journey to Montana. Start the beginning of the most thrilling show of the season. Charlotte is here in Montana making history and we are having the time of our lives. We have made it down the Road to Rebecca and now we start the fun part!
Can’t wait for the next installment? Follow along with Charlotte and Cortney on their blog!
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.