John Steinbeck once said, “It seems to me Montana is a great splash of grandeur.” There will be 23 teams competing for their own grandeur in the upcoming Adult Team Championships (ATC) at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds on August 31 - September 4 at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. With 92 riders representing nine of the ten areas competing, fellow adult riders will add a great splash of splendor to Montana.
While there are no Area 1 riders competing this year, as the Area 1 Adult Rider Coordinator I am delighted to be collaborating with Area VII in hosting and coordinating the ATC at Rebecca Farm. As a competitor at the AEC in 2019 and 2021, I was lucky enough to be part of an ATC team both years. The ATC added another aspect of camaraderie and competitive spirit to the event.
I was ecstatic for our Area 1 Novice team the “Area 1 Avengers” when the three of them won the ATC in 2021. For one team member, who had a personally disappointing stadium round shared: “being part of and winning the ATC made the entire journey to Kentucky extra special, especially the ability to connect with other adult riders at the event.”
As we were finalizing the teams for the challenge, I asked a few members what they are looking forward to as the competition quickly approaches.
Kady Ellifritz from Oregon is part of the Area VII Beginner Novice team, Best or Bust: “I am most looking forward to spending eight more-or-less uninterrupted days with my friend and partner, Yankee Bay. We will drive each other nuts, but as we cruise around Rebecca Farm’s wide-open cross-country course, with the mountains in the background and the wind in our bonnet, the experience will be beyond fantastic!”
Michelle Wagner is making an 18-hour drive from California to be part of the TexiCali mixed area Novice team, composed of Area V and VI riders: "I’m excited to be a part of the team challenge rather than just ride for myself. It is an extra layer of pressure to do well for the team, but also a chance to meet more adult riders and cheer them on throughout the competition.”
Cindy Phillips Kennedy is the Area III Adult Rider Coordinator. She and her horse, Third Times the Charm, are making the trek from Georgia to be part of the Training Level Team Shaken Not Spurred. She has family in the area and has been planning this trip for a couple of years. “Being from Area 3, I’ve been on and organized many ATC competitions, this one will be extra special as I am on a mixed team. Looking forward to meeting Adult Riders from other areas, Wisconsin and Texas. Go Team!”
Eilleen Galoostain, is bringing two of her horses from Utah to compete on the Preliminary level team, Rocky Mountain High, composed of riders from Area IX and X. She is a long time Adult Rider Program member. “I join the Adult Rider program annually because it promotes education, fosters relationships, and introduces us to new people. Erin, one of my teammates, is a good friend of mine. I haven’t yet met my other teammate, Ashley, or our coordinator, Amy. I’m excited to get to know both at the AEC at Rebecca Farm! Being on a team at a Championship event like this is a prime example of the camaraderie that the USEA Adult Rider program fosters.”
I am excited to see the team spirit and camaraderie of the Adult Rider Program come to life in Montana. Good luck to all the riders and teams!
The USEA Adult Team Challenges have been held across the country for over 20 years. At first, the Adult Rider Program held three regional championships – East, West, and Central. In 2014, those three championships morphed into one as the USEA Board of Governors approved a new model to inspire members of the Adult Rider Program. This year, the ATC team spirit will return to the AEC!
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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 at 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 4 at the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles Gold Level Sponsors: Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Capital Square, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club, Kerrits; Bronze Level Sponsors: Athletux, The Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equilume, Devoucoux, Fifth Third Bank, Gallops Saddlery, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Clark Nissan; Contributing Level Sponsors: CrossCountry App, WeRideTogether, Haygain, First Interstate Bank, Schellinger Construction, Glacier Bank, Animal Health Solutions Inc., Discover Kalispell; Prize Level Sponsors: Vet Blue, Practical Horseman, Hound & Hare, Strides of Equality Equestrians, Horse & Country TV, Bemer Independent Distributors, Freelance Design, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Flexible Fit Equestrian USA, and more!
About the Adult Team Championships
The USEA Adult Team Challenges have been generously sponsored by The Chronicle of the Horse for more than 20 years. The Challenges have given adult riders a chance to compete in a friendly team competition. For many years, the Challenges were held annually in different locations (Eastern, Central, and Western) around the United States, but in an effort to re-energize the program, the membership of the USEA voted to change the overall model of the program. Starting in 2014, every Area was encouraged to hold Adult Team Challenges to offer adult riders the opportunity to compete in team competitions leading up to the USEA Adult Team Championships held at the USEA American Eventing Championships. As a result, Adult Team Challenges were no longer isolated to the three challenges around the country. Instead, there may be as many as 10 opportunities to compete in a Challenge, with a final occurring at the Adult Team Championships at the AEC!
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.
Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.
Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.
Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.
Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.