Jul 06, 2024

Teamwork Triumphs at USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Megane Sauve and Nuance lead the CCI3*YRC-S. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Adamstown, Md.—July 6—Cross-country day always comes with a sense of anticipation, maybe some nerves or maybe excitement, but when you have a team counting on your score, those nerves usually kick into overdrive.

For the 37 riders in the USEF Eventing Young Rider National Championship who headed out onto Ian Stark's cross-country courses today at the Maryland International, those nerves were eased as soon as they crossed the finish line to the celebratory cheers of teammates, friends, and family. Riding on a team might come with more pressure, but it also comes with more support, whether things go right or wrong.

The CCI3*YRC-S kicked off the day, with Megane Sauve taking over the lead as an individual riding for Canada.

The Quebec native rode her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare Nuance (Jappura’s Pride x Vaillante), who’s the first horse she’s ever owned.

A working student for Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix, Sauve said she’s done all of her firsts with Nuance, including this year in her first Young Rider Championships appearance.

“We’ve done all of our first together from pre-Training to Intermediate, and now a three-star course,” she said. “It’s so fun to know she can do it, and she still feels like she’s on a mission. She gets out of the start box, and is like, ‘OK Mom, we’re going!’ She did that when we were going pre-Training. We’re hoping to go Advanced in the next few years, and I’m just really proud of our progress together.”

Sauve found Stark’s course to be twisting and turning, but her mare had no problems, adding 6.8 time penalties to move them from a tie to fourth to the overnight lead on a score of 42.9.

“My horse was a bit surprised at 4a, like oh there’s a B there. We got over B, and she was locking on her mission as usual on cross-country. We tried to make time, but it was tight,” she said. “I think when you walked it, it could look a bit tricky, but when you got into it, if you were riding positively, it worked out great and was still super safe and nice for horses to go around it.”

While it was hot and humid, Sauve said she tried to just focus on having fun—"that’s why we get through dressage and show jumping—so we can get to go around cross-country. Just visualizing the course and being hot and tired after. I try not to think about it!”

Lizzie Hoff and HSH Limited Edition are leading the CCI3*YRC-S team from Areas I, VII, and IV and are in silver-medal position individually after cross-country..

Lizzie Hoff, Gig Harbor, Washington, helped her combined team from Areas I, VII, and IV (Rebecca Roth on Chapter Two and Elizabeth Gill and Opportunity Knoxx) to the lead in the three-star with a good round on Andy and Mollie Hoff’s HSH Limited Edition, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Sibon W x Tinarana Velvet). They’re currently in second place on a score of 50.4.

While none of the teammates knew each other before this weekend, they’ve enjoyed getting to know each other.

“I think it’s fun to have someone to bounce off of, and you’re doing the same thing, and you’re there for the same reason. It’s a really good bonding experience, especially with people you don’t know because you’re forced into it,” said Hoff, who’s riding for Area VII. “I think [riding on a team] relieves pressure because you’re all working together, and it’s not just your score that’s the only thing that matters. You can have a bad day, or something goes wrong, but you can still pull it out of the bag for the team.”

Hoff is looking forward to showing off her horse in tomorrow’s show jumping. “My horse is a very good show jumper, so my goal is always to represent him well because I know he can jump clear rounds,” she said. “I get really nervous going into the last day of show jumping. I’ll try to be relaxed and ride how I know how to ride without freaking out!”

Annabelle Sprague and Da Vinci Code lead the CCI2*YRC-S individually and helped the combined team from Areas I, V, and III to sit in gold-medal position.

In the CCI2*YRC-S, the combined team from Areas I, V, and III has just one rail in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping over the second-placed team from Area II.

Annabelle Sprague, Brookfield, Vermont, is representing Area I on the team and hung on to her individual dressage lead in the division with Kylie Lyman’s Da Vinci Code, adding just 2.8 time penalties to sit on a score of 26.4.

“I thought Ian designed a really technical course that forced me to be super accurate, fast where I could be—towards the end he had just a skinny by itself, and I thought that was a real accuracy question to make sure you still have your focus and you’re still riding,” she said.

Da Vinci Code, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp x Clovers Appollo) has plenty of experience at the Advanced level with Lyman, and he’s taken well to his schoolmaster role with Sprague.

“It’s just seeing what buttons to push and what makes him happy and how to make his job easier for him—that’s my biggest challenge,” she said.

Sprague has been enjoying her first trip to Young Riders with her teammates, Audrey Littlefield (Mr. Pumpkin), Addison Craig (OT Bandini), and Chloe Paddack (Hawthornestud Fortunate Love).

“I think the team here at Maryland have done a great job of giving that team atmosphere and making it feel really sophisticated and formal. It’s a really good experience for all of us,” she said.

Berkley Gardner and In Vogue are leading the CCI1*YRC-S and are on the leading team from Area II.

The CCI1*YRS-S division is the most hotly contested with four team vying for the win. After cross-country, the team from Area II leads with just 4.3 penalties in hand over the team from Area III.

Berkley Gardner and In Vogue are leading individually on a score of 29.8 after overnight leaders Adelyn Rinehart and Corona Life had a fall on the flat.

“When I walked the course, I thought it was going to be super easy, but there were definitely a lot more spots where it challenged me,” said Gardner, Leesburg, Virginia. “It was kind of unexpected how much it challenged you. I like a challenge, so it was fun still.”

She’s been paired with Jenni Bickerstaff’s In Vogue, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Future Trend x Ballymolloy x Hollyhock) for just a few months. Five-star rider Ariel Grald had produced the mare to the Intermediate level.

“With my last horse, she was small, and I did one-stars with her, but we kind of got to the peak of her ability, so we decided to move on,” said Gardner. “I’m only going to ride for another year because I’m going to college. She’s so sweet; she’s so amazing and willing to build a connection with me, and I feel like we already have a connection even in a few months. Every time I get out to ride her, I’m excited to test our connection, and so far, she’s just been amazing.”

Gardner knew her teammates, Sophia Stolley (BWE Stopping Waves), Leeci Rowsell (Man Of Conviction), and Claire Allen (Crazy Choice), and appreciated the opportunity to ride on a team with them.

“It’s really nice having a team with everyone you know,” she said. “Having a mixed team, I can imagine is more difficult because you don’t know them as much. Even just being in the barn is fun because you have people to talk to and people to ask questions with. You can go on course walks with them, which is really nice and then supporting them is really nice. Everyone’s families get in on it and you really feel a full support team.”

Gardner enjoyed Thursday’s opening ceremonies and thought they helped kicked the weekend off right.

“I thought the opening ceremony was a bunch of fun,” she said. “I didn’t really know that there were going to be games, so I was pleasantly surprised that there were water guns and water balloons and stuff like that. I got to have fun with my team, and I think it set us off on a really good step together.”

Show jumping for the Championships begins tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST.

​​Helpful Links

Follow the USEA event coverage on social media!

Facebook | Instagram | Threads | TikTok

Jul 24, 2024 Eventing News

USEF Announces Horse Change for U.S. Olympic Eventing Team Prior to Competition Start at Paris 2024

U.S. Eventing Team Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello has confirmed U.S. Eventing Team athlete Will Coleman will now compete direct reserve selection, Diabolo, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diarado x Aljano 2) owned by the Diabolo Group and cared for by Hailey Burlock and Erin Jarboe.

Jul 24, 2024 Instructors

Getting Out of the Box For Cross-Country Schooling

Recently, while teaching the USEA EA21 Central Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, I found myself reflecting on what it means to produce eventing horses all around this huge country where trainers, coaches, and athletes find themselves with vast differences in access to cross-country courses, schooling fields, or just open land.

Jul 23, 2024 Eventing News

Pick Your Lane: Day 1 of the USEA EA21 East Coast II Clinic

"Pick your lane and stick with it; it's all building blocks in the training scale." This was coach Emily Mastervich Beshear's central message for each of the morning dressage sessions during day 1 of the USEA Emerging Athlete U21 (EA21) East Coast II Regional Clinic held at Stable View.

Jul 23, 2024 Eventing News

PulseVet via Zomedica Corp. to be Official Shockwave of the USEA for 2024

The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is delighted to announce PulseVet via Zomedica Corp. as the “Official Shockwave of the USEA” for 2024.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA

Official Shockwave of the USEA

Official Horse Wear of the USEA