May 09, 2018

Smiles, Sass, and Style: Young Event Horse Graduates Shine at Kentucky

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
USEA Young Event Horse Program Graduates at the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. USEA/Leslie Mintz and Jessica Duffy Photos.

Seven horses that graduated from the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse Program (YEH) showed off their top talent in the toughest event in North America: The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Kentucky held on April 25-29, 2018. To visit our preview article, please follow the link Foundation for a Four Star: Young Event Horse Graduates Entered at Kentucky. Read on below for details on the action-packed Kentucky weekend.

Martin and Tsetserleg make the Land Rover Head of the Lake look easy. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

#8 - All eyes were on the little engine that could. The YEH graduate Tsetserleg (aka Thomas), owned by Christine Turner and bred in the United States by Tim Holekamp, was top class from start to finish at his four-star debut. Thomas and Boyd Martin put in a stunning dressage test on Thursday morning. “Excellent for a young horse,” from Marilyn Payne who was commentating during dressage. “Seamless,” Payne commented on their transitions. An impressive score of 31.2 put this pair in sixth place after dressage.  

On cross-country, Martin lived up to his Olympic style by piloting the horse to jump clear. “He’s taking good care of that little horse and having a great ride,” Karen O’Connor said after Martin and Thomas finished the head of the lake in beautiful form.

‘Tiny Thomas’ was the nickname used over the Kentucky weekend as the small yet mighty horse put in three strong phases. Thomas (Windfall x Thabana) was the only Trakehner entered in Kentucky and it’s Martin’s first ride on a Trakehner at the four-star level. This pair only added two time penalties on cross-country and a single rail in show jumping to finish on a socre of 37.2 in 11th place. The 11th place finish is quite the accomplishment for this YEH graduate’s first four-star event!

Prather and Truly Wiley climbed up the leaderboard 25 places to finish in 16th place. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

#39 - Truly Wiley and Kelly Prather started their weekend on Friday morning with a dressage score of 42.4. Truly Wiley (Salute The Truth x Cheers of A Loss) showed off his Thoroughbred blood by producing one of the few double clear cross-country rounds in the field. He had a single rail in show jumping which resulted in a 16th place finish. From being 41st after dressage to finishing in 16th place, Prather and Wiley proved it wasn’t just a dressage show and moved up 25 places.

“Kelly’s done an amazing job. She’s produced Boyd Martin’s Olympic mount Blackfoot Mystery and D.A. Duras [another YEH graduate] all while having Truly Wiley in the background. She is a very, very, very, good horsewoman,” Sinead Halpin stated while commentating cross-country. “Incredibly classy round from a classy rider,” Halpin said as the pair wrapped up their flawless cross-country round.

From losing a shoe down the jog strip (Prather’s shoe) to tackling the toughest cross-country course in North America, Prather had a smile on her face the whole weekend. “Truly Wiley made me smile the whole way around the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event,” Prather shared on her Facebook page.  

Severson and Crossy left all the rails up to put in the first double clear show jumping round. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

#51 – A top U.S. favorite was the 2012 YEH Champion Cooley Cross Border (aka Crossy) and the three-time winner of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, Kim Severson. This pair did their dressage test in the packed arena on Friday afternoon and laid down a 28.3 to put them in fourth place after dressage. Crossy (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz) and Severson were on fire on Saturday and put in a beautiful cross-country round. Unfortunately, they picked up twenty penalties at the troublesome Mighty Moguls, one of the last combinations on course.

Severson wasn’t going to let the minor blip affect her and showed the world on Sunday why she’s one of the most experienced, heavily decorated, and top riders in our country. This world class pair rose to the occasion in show jumping. They put in the first double clear of the day and were only one out of eight combinations to jump double clear in show jumping. Out of 46 starters, they finished in the top half, in 21st  place for Cooley Cross Border’s first four-star completion.

Baxter and Indy 500 confidently cruise through element 19A of the Land Rover Head of the Lake. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

#18 - Indy 500, a bay Thoroughbred mare (Cromwell x Tens of Thousands) and Andrea Baxter showed grit, determination, and talent to finish their second four-star completion. Thirty-one must be this pair’s lucky number as this pair finished their weekend in 31st place (which happened to be the exact same placing at last year’s finish in the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.) With two four-star completions under their belt, this girl power duo have their sights set on Burghley.

To wrap up their weekend, Baxter shared on her Facebook page, “I’m so proud of my horse for being such a fighter and so resilient. Indy dug deep this week and tried her guts out. Indy’s my hero. Second four-star completion in the books.”

CR and Rutledge laid down a 31.7 in a jam-packed arena on Friday afternoon. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

#52 - Covert Rights (CR for short) and Colleen Rutledge followed directly after the YEH graduate, Crossy, in the buzzing arena on Friday afternoon. Rutledge and CR (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get it Right) remained cool, calm, and collected to score a 31.7 putting them into 10th place. Biting on the heels of his fellow classmate, Crossy; CR proved he could put in a highly competitive four-star dressage test.

CR had an “uncharacteristic cross-country” round and showing great horsemanship, Rutledge decided to withdraw before show jumping. Rutledge posted to her Facebook page: “While our destination was seeing the finish at [Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event], we realize our journey does not end here. Leading up to this week CR has felt stronger than ever. He left it all on the table, putting in a stellar dressage test. Unfortunately, we had an uncharacteristic cross-country day. While CR is ready to give his heart out tomorrow, we feel it is in his best interest to wait for another day. We will head home and CR will get a much appreciated vacation! We look forward to [cruising] around #LRK3DE next year!”

Landioso and Shea splash into the Rolex Grand Slam water combination. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

#36 - Blinding white socks and a saddle pad to match, Landioso and Mackenna Shea were immaculately turned out going down the centerline on Friday morning. They had a dressage test that matched their pristine style. “Very forward and uphill,” Karen O’Connor stated about their test. Landioso, a Bavarian Warmblood (Legender I x Aspen) and Shea’s lovely performance scored a 33.2 to put them in 13th place after dressage.

They shined on cross-country day to deliver a smooth round. “They had the decision making and confidence to get it done,” Sinead Halpin described their ride through the Land Rover Head of the Lake. They have “such a great relationship,” Halpin noted on the partnership between Landioso and Shea. They jumped clear on cross-country and only added 8.4 time penalties to their dressage score.

Unfortunately, this pair decided to withdraw from the competition before the second horse inspection. However, we look forward to seeing this winning pair at their next outing, wherever that might be! 

McFall and Billy showed off their moves Thursday afternoon to score a 37.6. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

#22 - High Times (aka Billy) and Jennifer McFall went down the centerline on Thursday afternoon. McFall showed off Billy’s three exceptional gaits to impress not only the judges but the commentator at the time, Will Coleman. He has “such a big canter,” Coleman stated while McFall and Billy performed their test. McFall and Billy, an American bred Holsteiner (Hunter x Gerda I) received a final score of 37.6.

McFall showed true wisdom and an empathetic heart when she made the tough decision to withdraw before cross-country. McFall posted to the Dragonfire Farm Facebook page: “Sometimes you have to make a hard but smart decision. Today was one of those days for me. Unfortunately, I’ve been very sick for a few days, which has been accompanied by asthma attacks. Today I knew I couldn’t pilot Billy around a [four-star] course the way he deserved so I elected to withdraw in the best interest of saving our partnership for another day. Thanks to all my amazing friends, family, sponsors and supporters for everything you have and continue to do for us!”

About the USEA Young Event Horse Program

The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the three- and four-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.

The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to view the jumping standards and specifications.

The USEA would like to thank SmartPakStandlee Hay CompanyProfessional’s Choice, and Merck Animal Health for sponsoring the Young Event Horse program.

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