Oct 05, 2023

Sundance Farm Hosts USEA Area IV Championships

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff

Area IV riders flocked to the Sundance Farm Horse Trials in Plymouth, Wisconsin, this past weekend for the Area IV Championships. Featuring Championship divisions at the Preliminary, Modified, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice levels, the Championships at Sundance Farm received much praise from all of those competing. Get to know each of the five 2023 Area IV Champions a little bit better below.

Preliminary Champions: Brynna Jovanovich & Arthur | 47.9

Brynna Jovanovich and Arthur. Photo by Diane Jovanovich

Brynna Jovanovich has brought the 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Arthur through the levels herself, with the help of her coach Brad Hall, since she purchased him from Bluefield Farm Sporthorses as a 4-year-old.

“We have had highs and lows, but I am forever grateful to have such a willing partner,” shared Jovanovich. “Arthur comes out ready for anything. We enjoy a bareback hack in a halter as much as galloping through the fields or trotting down the centerline.”

The pair started out in the lead on their dressage score of 35.9 and had a double-clear trip around to hold onto that top spot. Jovanovich noted that cross-country is both her and Arthur’s favorite phase.

“Arthur made easy work of the tough course and was the only Prelim horse to make time at Sundance Farm Horse Trials,” she shared. “He's fast, bold, and clever. He got me out of a few mistakes on my end, and really made the course feel effortless.”

Jovanovich is no stranger to Sundance Farm, having competed there for many years, even prior to their establishment of a recognized horse trial. That familiarity with the grounds and the friendly atmosphere at the facility made the win even more special.

“Winning the championships still doesn't feel real," she said. "As a graduate student who works full time, it feels so good to know the effort I have been putting in was worth it. The early mornings, late nights, and long days were all worth it. Thank you to Sundance Farm, the sponsors, the USEA, and of course, Arthur, for making this possible.”

Modified Champions: Nicolette Adams & Total Access | 41.8

Nicolette Adams and Total Access. Photo courtesy of Adams

When Nicolette Adams first pulled Total Access (Freedom Child x More Everything) off the track as a 3-year-old, she thought the Thoroughbred gelding would make a nice trail mount for her mother. After getting to know the now 6-year-old, however, Adams had hopes of steering “Otis” in a different direction.

“As time went on, I convinced her that he is an indomitable spirit that could excel in the eventing world,” Adams recalled. “He has grown tremendously in the past three years and has become such a fun partner.”

The pair first made the move up to the Modified level at the start of the summer, with Adams noting that Otis is still a bit green to the level. However, the young horse laid down a wonderful dressage test to put them in the lead on a score of 29.8 and had no troubles on cross-country—a feat that Adams is beyond thrilled with.

“As Otis is still a green at the level, I am most proud of our cross-country phase,” she shared. “He was so game and tried his best the whole way around to deliver a double clear round. The event is always adding new features and jumps which keeps it exciting each year.”

Adams noted that the atmosphere at Sundance Farm was perfect for a championship setting. The stunning venue, supportive spirit of the competitors and volunteers, and the thrill of having spectators cheering the pair all along cross-country really made the experience one to remember.

“At the start of the weekend I was just grateful for the opportunity to compete in a championship event,” reflected Adams, “so to win just made it even better. As the event is close to our home base, it allowed my family and friends to come out to watch and support us through the weekend.”

Training Champions: Anna Banks & Primrose BMD | 21.7

Anna Banks and Primrose BMD. Claire Mulder Photography photo

Anna Banks and her 10-year-old Dutch Harness Horse mare Primrose BMD (C-Galaxy x Anna) not only won the Area IV Training Championship on their dressage score, but they also had the lowest winning score of all of the Area IV Championship division, finishing on a 21.7. It hasn’t been an easy road to this point, Banks noted, but their tribulations made their triumph this weekend even more rewarding.

“I got this mare as a green 5-year-old from a dressage trainer in Michigan who thought she would thrive in eventing and believed I was the person she needed,” Banks shared. “She’s never been easy, but she has so much talent and I have been trying to go slow with her because her future is quite bright! We were the IEA Classic 3-Day Training winners and finished fourth at the USEA American Eventing Championships in the Training Rider division this year! I am so proud of her for finishing the season with the Area IV Championship win.”

But Banks’ weekend almost didn’t start off on the right foot. She was feeling quite under the weather all week and wasn’t 100% sure how she was going to be able to perform, but Primrose pulled through for her.

“She absolutely blew me away with how mature she has gotten this year,” she commented. “It feels amazing to win, but even better to say that we added nothing to our 21.7 dressage score. Definitely our personal best to date and still a lot of room to improve which is even more exciting!”

Banks described the atmosphere at Sundance Farm as “well organized, friendly, and challenging,”—the perfect combination for a USEA Area Championships.

“The atmosphere is always a good balance where it is not too stressful and overwhelming, while still creating the pressure situation, particularly for stadium and keeping with the reverse order of go," she said. "The team of people thinks of everything there to make everyone happy and the grounds always look spectacular!”

Novice Champions: Madelyn Reicher and CMF Cougar Roo | 32.3

Madelyn Reicher and CMF Cougar Roo. Clair Mulder Photography photo

Madelyn Reicher’s partnership with Ingvill Ramburg and Virginia King Kirby’s 13-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse gelding CMF Cougar Roo is still fairly new with the pair having made their first USEA debut together in May of this year, but that didn’t stop them from leading the USEA Area IV Novice Championship from start to finish to bring home the win!

“CMF Cougar Roo, otherwise known as Rouger, is my best friend’s horse that I have the opportunity to lease this year,” Reicher shared. “I have had a blast competing with him and our newfound partnership. Both of us have had some injuries that have set us back in the past, so it is really exciting to come back better than ever.”

After laying down a dressage test that the judges deemed worthy of a 28.3 to lead the division, the pair made their way across the country at Sundance Farm in top form, adding no penalties to their score.

“I was really proud of my cross-country ride at Sundance,” she shared. “It was really fun to finally be able to open Rouger up and feel confident about the speed we were going as that had been our difficulty at past shows. He felt super confident coming up to every jump and I had a blast.”

Their lead after the second phase gave them just enough wiggle room to have a rail in hand, so despite one rail down they still won their division - just one-tenth of a point ahead of the second-place pair. Reicher is still living on cloud nine after their victory.

“When I finished my show jump round and realized that I had just won the championship, I was in shock and just super excited. A lot of hard work has been put into this journey and it is awesome to see it all pay off!”

Beginner Novice Champions: Sue Goepfert & Isabeau VT | 26.3

Sue Goepfert and Isabeau VT. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

This has been quite the year for the USEA Area IV Beginner Novice Champion pair Sue Goepfert and Isabeau VT (Ideal x Flambeau). She and Susan Coleman’s 11-year-old Oldenburg mare not only won the Area Championships this weekend but were also champions at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds in August.

Goepfert and Isabeau, whom Goepfert has been leasing for the past two years, have been on quite the winning streak having won the last six outings they have had together. Goepfert attributes that to their ability to bond quickly and Iseabeau’s knack for dressage.

“We developed a bond pretty quickly and she is a perfect fit for this senior rider as she is a little bit smaller and closer to the ground,” said Goepfet. “Dressage is her strong phase, and she loves to show off. You can feel her lift herself up as you enter the dressage ring and start to strut her stuff. She has an ‘I got this—you just steer’ type attitude.”

While they have had quite the run of successes, Goepfert is quick to acknowledge that none of it would have been possible without her community around her and, of course, Isabeau.

“I’m proud of us both,” she shared. “We recently won the Beginner Novice Rider Championship at the AEC, and it was nothing short of a village to get us there. I was on a bucket list vacation the two weeks prior to the AEC, and my friends kept her going for me while I was gone prior to the Area IV Championships, we were dealing with some hard ground problems and had a bit of time off, really prepping only the week prior. But again, Isabeau is a pro and knows her job and stepped up to the plate.”

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