Dec 14, 2023

Standout Quotes from the USEA Classic Series Open Forum at the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
The panelists of this year's USEA Classic Series Open Forum included (from left to right) Chris Donovan, Christel Carlson, Gretchen Butts, Sharon White, and Sarah Broussard. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The last Olympic long-format was run in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and the last Kentucky long-format was in 2005. After the transition to the current eventing format, the USEA Classic Three-Day Task Force was born by supporters of the traditional format who felt that its influence on the sport was critical in the education of horses and riders.

This year, the USEA Classic Three-Day Task Force gathered together to host an open forum to discuss the benefits of participating in and hosting a Classic Series event. As a video from the Waredaca Classic 3-Day (Laytonsville, Maryland) event rolled in the background, Task Force members Christel Carlson, Sharon White, Sarah Broussard, Chris Donovon, and Gretchen Butts shared their history with the Classic Series and why they personally advocate for the continuation of this historic competition.

Christel Carlson, Organizer of the Spokane Sport Horse Annual Fall H.T.

“The philosophy for the Classic Series is that the riders who are truly prepared would come to know every bit of their horse much better and be better horsemen. The emphasis over the last 20 years has been training, both physically and mentally, for completing an event for all the various phases.

Carlson noted that the wonderful thing about the Classic Series is that it enables riders of all levels to get the feel for an FEI level competition down to the Beginner Novice level, typically making a USEA Classic series event the pinnacle of an individual rider’s season.

Sharon White, 2023 Pan American Games Team Silver Medalist and Classic Series Educator

“I grew up on the three-day. I have done many of them at all levels. It is the epitome of the sport of eventing. As a trainer of horses, the Classic teaches a horse depth and how to gallop across the ground. As a competitor, coach, and trainer, if you don’t teach your horse how to gallop across the ground, they aren’t going to stay sound. I can teach horses to gallop really well, and I started to think about why, and it is because of what I did growing up. It is what I learned without realizing I was learning it because I grew up on it. It is an invaluable experience.”

Sarah Broussard, Organizer of The Event at Rebecca Farm

“Seeing people learn is pretty amazing. Seeing them walk out to their steeplechase school, they have a mix of excitement and a little bit of dread. Then you see them coming back, and their smiles are this big and you know they went out and had some fun.

"That is the self-serving side of being an organizer. As an organizer, having the Classic Series draws people to make my event a pinnacle event for their year that year. It is a lot of work. You are doing the educational clinics, you have to have space for roads and tracks and steeplechase, you have to flag and measure all of it, but the return from what you see in the competitors makes it 100 percent worth it. Being able to offer that to competitors is very near and dear to me, because it was so near and dear to me while I was competing."

Chris Donovan, Young Rider Coordinator and Member of the Waredaca Classic Three-Day Event Organizing Committee

“At a Classic, you are not alone. You will have been coached, most likely, on your dressage test and how to ride it. Someone is going to watch your steeplechase practice and will give you feedback. There are people watching you and giving you recommendations as a rider that you can learn from.”

Gretchen Butts, Organizer of the Waredaca Classic Three-Day Event

“One of the most important things we need to convey is that the higher entry fee for a Classic is for a very justifiable reason because of what the experience provides. It is the only competition that combines the importance and benefit of the educational parts of it while participating in the competition. It is a proper competition supported by a lot of support through educational sessions and the organizational team who are working to make it that way. Think of it as a clinic and a competition at the same time.”

About the USEA Classic Series

The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long ­format three­-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels, now including the Modified level too. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross­-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long ­format three-­day event. Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, FITS, SmartPak Equine, Parker Equine Insurance, and Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles for sponsoring the USEA Classic Series.

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About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, on Dec. 7-10, 2023. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The USEA would like to thank the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Sponsors: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Capital Square, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Kerrits, Horse & Country, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, RevitaVet, SmartPak, Standlee, and World Equestrian Brands.

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