The final Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards of the year were presented to two riders at the Full Moon Farm Horse Trials in Finksburg, Maryland on November 9-10, 2019. Sydney Schultz was the recipient of the Junior Award and Jennifer Jacobs received the Adult Amateur award for their safe and effective cross-country riding.
Sydney Schultz and Excel Star B (Talon R x Lady Tranquility), a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, were in seventh after dressage in the Training Rider division on a score of 35.5, adding nothing to their dressage score to move up the leaderboard to fifth place.
Schultz’s passion for horses began at age 3 and she began riding at Equi-Best Equestrian Center in Covington, Louisiana with Lynn Quast at the age of 7. “Ms. Lynn taught me everything about Eventing and competing up until I was 17,” Schultz said. “I’ve been eventing for 11 years now and have qualified and competed at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) with three different horses.”
“Once riding my Dutch Warmblood cross Double Dutch at the Beginner Novice level in 2017, he gave me troubles in the cross-country phase resulting in a rider fall,” Schultz shared. “His inconsistency on cross-country led us in the search of a new partner, and that’s how we met Courtney Cooper. We were told that Courtney had experienced eventers for sale and was a great trainer to work with on finding my new match. Our introduction to Courtney started a new and exciting journey and mentorship for me!”
The off-the-track Thoroughbred Schultz purchased from Cooper took her all the way through the Training level, including the Junior Training Championship at the 2019 USEA AEC. After graduating high school, Schultz moved to C Square Farm in Pennsylvania to begin working for Cooper. “It’s been a lifelong dream to work in the horse industry and develop my riding skills with my goal of one day competing at the five-star level.”
Schultz purchased Excel Star B from Cooper this fall and has been competing with him at Training level for the last three months. “He is a light in my life and I was hesitant to go back to a young, green horse because of everything I went through with Double Dutch, but Star B has shown me how trusting, willing, and talented he is,” she said. “It has been wonderful training on him with Courtney and I can’t wait to see where we go from here! I am beyond blessed to have parents that support me in my dream, an amazing coach that continues to help me develop as a rider and support my dream, and an athletic young horse that is my ‘soul partner.’”
“It was a wonderful surprise to have been chosen for the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. Star B and I have been working very hard on building and fine-tuning our cross-country runs. We continue to build our relationship and get so excited about our future! I am so pleased that the work that Star B and I have put forth was not only noticed but award-worthy! Many thanks to those at Charles Owen for offering this generous award!”
Jennifer Jacobs and her own That’s Tequila (That’s Our Buck x Tequila Nights), a 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, scored a 40.2 for 12th place after dressage in the Open Training division and jumped two double clear phases to move up and finish the weekend in 10th place.
Jacobs started riding and showing in 4-H, but always wanted to learn about cross-country. When she aged out of 4-H, she went looking for an eventing barn and found Candle Light Farms. “Noell has had her work cut out helping me fix bad habits and become a more confident rider over the years,” Jacobs said. “In many ways, I'm thankful for being able to start my riding career just messing around with the horses. It gave me a chance to learn how they think and develop my natural balance.”
After college, Jacobs was able to get more serious about competing and knew that she would need a horse of her own. “Lainey Ashker had been out to the farm for a few clinics and after seeing me ride several different horses at various clinics she suggested to Noell I might be a good fit for Tequila,” she recalled. “I was a bit nervous about this because he was known as a bit of a hothead and definitely not a horse that would be considered amateur friendly. [Ashker] said, ‘There are only a couple of people I would recommend ride that horse and you are one of them. He will teach you a lot and make you learn how to ride correctly.’”
“I do enjoy the sensitive type horses and I knew to get past his anxiety I would have to spend some time to figure out what made him tick,” she continued. “The first six months we followed a strict routine, I made sure anything I did was in the same order. I started working for the little victories and building him back up from square one. Literally learning how to walk calmly and flat-footed again. Each small success quickly added up to real progress.”
They slowly progressed from unrecognized mini-events to recognized horse trials and finally to the Novice Three-Day Event at the IEA Horse Trials in May of 2018. “This experience helped me learn how to get him fit enough to move up to Training level and how to help him keep up with the longer, faster-paced courses,” Jacobs shared.
A lot of work spent on developing their connection has led to a more responsive and adjustable horse. “Suddenly I was galloping cross-country and could sit up and he would rock back and listen for what was next – something we had been working hard to achieve,” Jacobs said. “Also, his dressage demons were long in the past and he began to allow me to really start to push him into the connection, even at the shows. And the show jumping rails were beginning to stay up more often than not.”
Jacobs said that one of the things that has been best for her cross-country riding has been taking every advantage to get out there and do it. “I try to take advantage of any schooling opportunities I have just to help keep my eye tuned up to the larger stride,” she said. “It really has been a fun journey with my quirky boy. He still has a big ego but he is so much more willing to work with me, and as his anxiety has become a distant memory.”
About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award
In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council and Charles Owen founded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to reward juniors and adult amateurs for demonstrating safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding.
The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented at one event in each of the 10 USEA Areas at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross-country round and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. ICP Certified Level III and IV Instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders are all qualified to judge the Award. Click here to learn more about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award.
The USEA would like to thank Charles Owen for sponsoring the Technical Merit Award.
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