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.
Come join the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Associatin (IDCTA) on February 16th, 2023 at 7 p.m. CST to hear about Abigail’s journey through her competing years, what she’s overcome, and how and what she has to share as a Sports Psychologist.Learn tools to overcome some of your anxieties and become the best you in and out of the show ring.
There was a sense of déjà vu chatting with Liz Halliday-Sharp about the superstar young Irish Sport Horse Shanroe Cooley (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire), owned by Ocala Horse Properties, LLC. The now 8-year-old gelding was the 2021 USEA 6-Year-Old Preliminary Horse of the Year and 2021 USEA Preliminary Horse of the Year and he followed up that impressive 2021 season with an even more exciting competition year in 2022 bringing home second in his first-ever CCI3*-S followed by two victories at the level. He had a top-five finish in his first CCI3*-L across the border at Bromont and then made his way overseas to place eighth in Halliday-Sharp’s goal event for the young horse: the highly competitive FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Mondial du Lion D’Angers. Add up all of those super results, and it's no surprise that Shanroe Cooley was awarded two USEA leaderboard titles for the second year in a row— 2022 Intermediate Horse of the Year and 2022 USEA 7-Year-Old Intermediate Horse of the Year.
The USEA is heartbroken to hear about the loss of James “Jimmy” C. Wofford. A lifelong lover and supporter of the sport, Wofford has had an astounding influence on where eventing is today and has tirelessly supported the goals of the United States Eventing Association. He served as president of the American Horse Show Association (now U.S. Equestrian (USEF)), was the first vice-president of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET), and served as secretary of the USCTA (now USEA). He served two terms as a member of the FEI Eventing Committee, including two years as vice chairman. In addition, he has served on numerous committees during his career.
Experience the thrill of traditional long format three-day eventing by competing in a USEA Classic Series event in 2023! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that the 2023 Classic Series calendar is now available.