Aug 29, 2019

Spotlight Turns to Novice at the AEC

Kaitlyn Brittendall and Blyth's Madeline GS. Samantha Haynie for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

The Novice divisions took center stage in dressage today with all six divisions starting the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds.

Novice Amateur

Kaitlyn Brittendall and Blyth's Madeline GS scored a 26.3 to take the lead after the first phase of competition in the Novice Amateur Championship. The 10-year-old Trakehner mare (Heling x Marionette GS) has been competing at the Preliminary level, but Brittendall dropped her down to Novice for what might be their last show together.

“I love the mare more than anything,” Brittendall said. “I always go into dressage knowing that she’ll do pretty good because she’s amazing. We’ve been partnered together for a year. I went down to Ocala and tried some horses, and when I saw her walk out of the barn I think I started drooling. I rode her, trotted her, and knew I had to have her.”

Brittendall purchased her from Clayton Fredericks, but “she is sadly for sale,” explained Britendall. “She doesn’t really want to run Preliminary anymore. I bought her as my young rider horse, but I can’t ask the horse to do what she doesn’t want to do so this is probably my last show with her. Going out with a bang!”

Emily Cardin and Schwalbestrum, her own 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Bright White x Sommer Schwalbe) earned a 29.3 for second while third belongs to Erin Walker and Mth Shannondale Khaleesi, her own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Shannondale Sarco ST Ghyvan x Greygrove Salle).

Adalee Ladwig and Diego. Kasey Mueller for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Novice Junior

Adalee Ladwig and Diego, her own 10-year-old Oldenburg by Balta Czar, have only been partnered together since November, but Ladwig didn’t let that short relationship stop her from laying down what she says is Diego’s best-ever dressage test. The pair scored a 28.5 to lead the Novice Junior division.

“It’s been rough, he’s not the easiest horse to ride, he’s quite strong-willed,” said Ladwig of Diego. “He’s just now starting to level out, and we’re working together very well. He’s 10 years old now, and he was started as a 3-year-old, and then was kind of left alone. When we got him, I had to start from square one.”

“I think cross-country looks doable,” said Ladwig. “We did Training just a month ago and that was a lot harder. He loves jumping, so I’m excited.”

Stephanie Cordell and Codename Toby, Amanda Tamminga’s 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Treasure Cove x Go Bubby Go) are a mere 0.3 penalties behind to sit in second on a 28.8. Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin, her own 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Compromise x Leona’s Hope) scored a 29.6 for third.

Crockett Miller and Mr. Panda. Kasey Mueller for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Novice Junior 15 and Under

Crockett Miller and Mr. Panda (Abbeyfield Comet x Clooneen Tara Lady) lead the Junior Novice 15 and Under division on a score of 26.5.

“It couldn’t have gone better today, Miller said of her test with the 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. “I haven’t been doing super well in dressage lately, but my horse was great and did exactly what was expected of him. It’s the second time I’ve ever sat the trot for this test, so I was a bit worried. But he stayed content and carried me around, he was just so nice to me.

“I found him in England, thanks to Grace Taylor Eventing,” she explained. “He was already doing really well over there, and when I started with him, we started slowly because it was the first time we’d ever imported a horse. It went well and was kind of a dream. He’s a dream horse; he’s tall, dark, lanky, just so pretty and seems to get better every time I sit on him. It’s a surreal feeling to have this horse that you only talk about or read about.”

Just 0.1 points behind Miller and Panda are Finley Habenicht and her 15-year-old Trakehner mare Aleta NSF (Windfall x Astra) on a score of 26.6.

“Aleta felt really good,” Habenicht said. “We have been working on the canter a lot over the years and it finally felt like we today really got it that she got it in the circle. She wasn’t stiff and felt like she really did everything I asked.”

Kiera Delahanty and Silver Wend (Silver Granite x Wendefirst), her 11-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse mare, sit in third place on 29.5.

Madeline Bletzacker and Drummer Boy. Bianca McCarty for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Novice Rider Division

Ohio native Madeline Bletzacker rode her own Drummer Boy to the lead position, after ending the day on a score of 25.7. Bletzacker and the Hanoverian gelding (Don Principe x Winterzauber) bested competition in the ring, putting in a solid ride in the Novice Rider division. “My husband bought this horse for me, unbroke, as a 3-year-old, off the internet from somebody that we trusted,” Bletzacker explained. He was just a young, green baby, and he always did everything great, he was champion at dressage shows, he was champion at a few hunter shows. He’s just an awesome, awesome horse. I’m so lucky to have him. I broke him, I trained him, I have him at home, I ride him every day, I take care of him every day, so we’re very close.”

The pair’s bond has proven to be successful, as the 11-year-old took the title of Horse of the Year in the Novice Division last year. “He does pretty well,” said Bletzacker, “and if he does win, it will be his 50th USEA victory.”

Trailing behind Bletzacker is Leighanne Sadley of New Jersey, aboard her own Licorice, a twelve-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse mare (Snowford O’Donnell x Diamond Spring Fever), with a 26.7. Julie Kuhle of Iowa, is currently sitting in third-place with her own Orion, an 11-year-old Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding (JS Ebony N Ivory x Lucinda) on a score of 27.9.

Shanon Baker and Honor Society. Samantha Haynie for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Novice Horse

New Hampshire competitor Shanon Baker and her own Honor Society, a 7-year-old OTTB gelding (Bernardini x Our Rite Of Spring), currently sit atop the Novice Horse division, as they look to cross-country tomorrow on a 27.7. “He was fantastic today,” Baker noted. “Going up there into that ring, you couldn't see anything from warmup and I wasn't sure if he was going to be a bit spooky. He's an OTTB, but he went up into the ring and all business and really let me ride him and put in a wonderful test. I was just thrilled.”

The pair has been together for two years now and their connection grows stronger by the day. Babbitt stated: “It's coming along. he's really fun to ride. I found him as a 5-year-old in Ocala, he was a successful racehorse and we've been competing on and off since then. I was bringing my other horse out to Kentucky for the AEC and Stanley was qualified as well, so I decided I'd bring him and take him in the Novice, and I thought it'd be great fun to gallop him around the Kentucky Horse Park.”

Courtney Cooper and the Dare to Dream Team’s owned Excel Star Time To Shine, a 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Luidam x Lismore Bella) are tied for second place on a 29.3, alongside Cooper and her other mount, the Neal Camens owned Hunting Stars, a 4-year-old Holsteiner mare (Hunter x Heavenly Star).

Jane Musselman and Engapore. Marie Cobb for Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Novice Master Amateur

Jane Musselman and Engapore (Singapore x Orize), her own 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, scored a 27.4 to lead the Novice Master Amateur division.

“He is a very sensitive horse, but he went in there and was a professional and did everything I asked of him,” Musselman said of her test aboard Engapore. Any mistakes were definitely mine, but I was really pleased with him.”

Musselman just bought Engapore at the end of 2018 from Clark Montgomery and has been getting to know her new partner. “He is super sensitive, very quirky, and our first event together wasn't until May of this year. This is our third one. it's taken us a while to build a partnership because he is super sensitive and just took him a little while to trust me, but I think it's coming along.”

Cherye Huber and her own Sam I Am (Cameo’s Reflection x Castle War Rebel), a 13-year-old British Sport Horse gelding, are 0.2 points behind the leaders on a score of 27.6. Cindy De Porter and Ana D, her 13-year-old Hanoverian mare by Waldord, round out the top three on 28.8.

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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.

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