Tamra Smith had a rail in hand as she galloped into the arena aboard Ruth Bley’s En Vogue (Earl x Laurena), so even dropping the rail on the fourth fence couldn’t knock her out of the top spot in the Intermediate division at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds.
“I got on her [this morning] and I went so fast yesterday that I wasn’t certain how she’d feel fitness-wise but she was shaking her head and almost gave me a little buck so I knew she was feeling really good,” Smith said. “She really rose to the occasion. She’s taken some time to trust me and I feel like today the rail I had was my rail, which I’m really happy about, because she has been tricky in the show jumping. The rail I had was more because of how she’s been in the past and I rode her instead of the way she feels now. I’m ecstatic.”
Smith and the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare have only been partnered together since February of this year, and she said it’s taken some time to get “Evie” to trust her. “I just feel now that this weekend we really are on the same page,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what she’d feel like in the show jumping, that would probably be the biggest track that she’s done and she’s really spooky . . . that’s part of why I had the rail, because I rode too forward in and I almost should have put five in the first line instead of six.”
“That’s what I love about mares – as soon as they start to trust you then they give you 110 percent. I feel like she’s really doing that.”
Even if she had dropped out of the top spot with En Vogue, stablemate Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik) was waiting in the wings. Just a single time fault with Ruth Bley’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding ensured a winning finish for Smith, but Danito would ultimately have to settle for second place.
“Him and I have been together longer and you can see that we have a good partnership now,” Smith commented. “He really trusts me now and he was really relaxed. I love that horse, he’s so my ride and he’s little but really mighty and strong. He tried super hard.”
“He’s a funny horse because when he’s bored he doesn’t try quite as hard,” Smith continued. “At the last event he jumped clean but it was a little by braille so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the jumps are impressive here so he actually gave it some effort and jumped really beautiful."
"I think the best top horses rise to the occasion for something like this," Smith observed. "They might not to the normal horse trials, but you want a horse that when it gets in this kind of atmosphere, because this is a championship atmosphere like the Olympics Games or WEG or the Pan Ams, you want them to rise to the occasion. You learn whether your horse can do this and it was really helpful because I know those two both can."
Hallie Coon and Helen Coon’s Cooley SOS (Emilion x Dalways Courage) were situated just inside the top 20 after dressage on a score of 32.1, climbing to seventh place after cross-country with 3.6 time penalties. A double-clear round over Bobby Murphy’s show jumping course this morning saw them climb the leaderboard into third place to finish the weekend with a yellow ribbon.
“He’s quite a small horse but with a gigantic ego,” Coon described. “It gets to be a struggle sometime in the dressage – he thinks he’s a little bit too important to be doing what he’s doing. But he has the most incredible stride and jump on the cross-country and in the show jumping, he just eats it up. I mean, [he has] twice the stride of any of my other horses and he’s by far the smallest. So that can be challenging in itself, knowing where I am, but he tried his heart out yesterday.”
“He did get quite tired out on course yesterday because I pushed him quite a bit – he left strides out everywhere, as he always does – so I was curious to see how he was this morning. But, usually after a big effort like that he comes out and he jumps even better than usual and he stayed true today. I’m really thrilled with him.”
Coon and the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding have been together for a little over two years one, the last of which they’ve spent at the intermediate level. Coon explained that she came to the AEC in part to test Cooley SOS before their move-up to Advanced later this month. “I didn’t come here to be competitive, honestly. I came here to test the waters and I think he told me that he’s ready.”
The Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) Awards were presented to Whitney Maloch and Military Mind and Melanie Smith and Shakedown Street.
The A. Martin Simensen Award, presented to the lowest scoring junior or young rider age 16-21 in the Intermediate division, went to Ivie Cullen-Dean and Fernhill Full Throttle.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. This year, the AEC will be held August 27 – September 1 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the AEC: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsors: Bates Saddles, Equistro; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: Mountain Horse; The Jockey Club, Park Equine; Bronze Level Sponsors: Arnall’s Naturals, State Line Tack, Black Petticoat, Devoucoux, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, LandSafe SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, Ovation, Lanier Sand and Soil, Event Cooling Solutions, Farm House Tack; Contributing Level Sponsors: Ariat, Meanwhile Back on the Farm, L.V. Harkness, Lexmark, GLC Direct, Georgetown Tourism, FarmVet, FLAIR Nasal Strips, Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Resvantage Equine, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: GumBits, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Bluegrass Vibershield, Bluegrass Animal Products, Caracol, Active Interest Media, Astrid’s Oil, Baekgaard, On The Bit Horse Supplies, Luxe EQ, EQ AM Magazine, Jetti Spa, Great British Equinery, Foxden Equine, The Scoring Chix, Pure Form Equine; Competitor’s Party Sponsors:Jacqueline Mars, Kat and Roberto Cuca, United States Hunter Jumper Association, and United States Dressage Federation.
Five-star eventer Kim Severson taught a show jumping clinic in January at Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, Virginia where she instructed riders on the importance of forward riding for successful jumping. In this exercise, which Severson progressively adds additional pieces to, riders are instructed to focus on the quality of their canter.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.