Sparrow’s Nio (Grange Finn Sparrow X JB), a 15.3-hand 17-year-old Connemara/Thoroughbred gelding owned and ridden by Alexandra Sacksen, collapsed between fences while on cross-country in the Advanced division at the Morven Park Fall International Horse Trials on Saturday, October 3. In their 10 years spent competing together in eventing, Sacksen and Nio went all the way up the levels, competing at the prestigious Kentucky Three-Day Event three times.
Sacksen first met Nio on her parents’ farm when he was a yearling, and she reconnected with him when his owner contacted her about possibly purchasing him. In the summer of 2010, Sacksen took Nio to his first event at the Novice level. By the same time next year, Nio and Sacksen were competing at the Preliminary level, and he completed his first CCI* (now CCI2*-L) at Midsouth in the fall of 2011.
Nio completed his first Intermediate event in the summer of 2012, progressing to the CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) that fall. In the fall of 2013, Nio and Sacksen placed 11th in their first Advanced, followed that up with a second-place finish in the Advanced at Morven Park, and were named the USEF CCI2* National Champions after winning the CCI2* at Fair Hill International.
In 2014, Nio earned a seventh-place finish at the Fair Hill International CIC3* (now CCI4*-S), returning to the same venue in the fall for his first CCI3* (now CCI4*-L), where he was 27th. The following year he and Sacksen made their first trip to Kentucky for the CCI4* (now CCI5*-L), finishing in 36th.
Nio and Sacksen continued to compete successfully at the Advanced/three-star (now four-star) level in the spring of 2016 before Sacksen took some time out of the saddle for the birth of her first child. In 2017 they were ninth in the CIC3* at Pine Top in February and 24th in the CIC3* at Carolina International before making their second trip to Kentucky.
In 2018, Nio and Sacksen competed around Northern America at venues including Carolina International, Fair Hill International, Jersey Fresh, and Bromont. Following their 26th place finish in the CIC3* at Jersey Fresh, Sacksen was awarded the Philippa Humphreys Memorial Sportsmanship Award.
Nio and Sacksen returned to Kentucky for the third time in 2019, this time finishing in 30th place and jumping clean on cross-country. In the fall, they were 13th in the Adequan USEA Advanced Final at the USEA American Eventing Championships, they finished second in the CCI4*-S at Morven Park, and they capped off their season with a 13th place finish in the CCI4*-L at the Ocala Jockey Club.
Together, Nio and Sacksen completed 66 USEA recognized events, 23 at the Advanced, four-star, and five-star level. The competed in 26 FEI competitions, earning seven top-10 finishes. Nio was known by his friends and fans as a powerhouse who loved nothing more than a good gallop across the country.
The USEA sends our deepest condolences to Sacksen and all of Nio’s connections and fans.
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.
The USEA would like to feature your IEL team! The USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) is in its first year and currently has 82 registered teams from every USEA area and 46 events hosting an interscholastic team challenge.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is thrilled to welcome back longtime sponsor, FITS Riding, Ltd. for 2021. They are returning as a Bronze Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds, a Contributing Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Adult Team Championships, a Contributing Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Classic Series, and a Contributing Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships. As a sponsor of these USEA programs, FITS Riding will generously provide gift certificates as prizes for the Intercollegiate championship competitors, AEC and ATC competitors, and Classic Series winners.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it was an amazing experience.” Twenty-five years ago, Kerry Millikin and her off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding, Out and About (who was only 8 years old at the time) won the individual Olympic bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, making her one of five females to have earned an individual Olympic medal for the U.S.