Mar 10, 2024

The Horizons are Clear for Alexa Thompson and Her Homebreds

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Left: Parlez Clear. Xpress Foto photo. Middle: Alexa Thompson with baby Prix and Prez. Photo courtesy of Thompson. Right: Clear Candidate. Helene Palmer photo

When Alexa Thompson (née Ehlers) looks back at her eventing career, she can without a doubt trace where she is now back to a little Thoroughbred mare she got when she was just 10 years old named Crystal Clear (Far Out Wadleigh x Rollem Katrina).

“She was a really, really cool little mare,” reflected Thompson. “She took me up through Young Riders and the old one-star. She was only 15.2, so that really was kind of the top of her ability. I ended up leasing her out and eventually selling her when I moved to college.”

Over the next couple of years, with the support of her parents Jeff and Stacy Ehlers, Thompson bought a farm in Lexington, Kentucky, while attending college. She dubbed it Clear View Farm in honor of her beloved partner. Little did she know, however, that “Crystal” would be on her way back to Thompson’s farm soon.

“The girl I sold her to decided to quit riding after two years of having her, and they gave her back to me,” Thompson recalled. “So there I was sitting with a 14-year-old Thoroughbred mare that I loved and had already had a really hard time emotionally selling the first time, so I was just kind of looking for a job for her. Ultimately, we decided to try and breed her and see if that could be her next purpose in life.”

At that same time, Thompson had another Thoroughbred mare named La Vie En Rose in the pasture who was in need of a new purpose after a small hock injury, so she decided to dip her toes into the realm of breeding with the both of them. After doing some initial research, Thompson decided to check out the stallions offered at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington. Ultimately, she decided on the Belgian Warmblood stallion Diktator van de Boslandhoeve (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Lys de Darm) for both mares.

“I loved the way that he was so careful, but also not in a way that he stayed up in the air for a long time. He was quite efficient in the way that he was careful,” she said. “They let me come over and see him, and he seemed very kind, and he was a nice horse in the stable. And then I got to watch him school at the horse show and then later jump in the Grand Prix, and that is how we decided to use him.”

In 2015, just seven days apart, Parlez Clear, or "Prix," Crystal Clear’s filly, and Clear Candidate, or "Prez," La Vie En Rose’s colt were born.

Baby Prez at right and baby Prix on the left. Photos courtesy of Thompson

Looking back, Thompson admits she always had high hopes for her two homebreds.

“At the time, I had really big hopes for them, kind of like the little kid who dreams of going to the Olympics,” she reflected. “I'm very blessed and so lucky to have such a supportive family but also, we really weren't in a place to go out and buy top horses from overseas, so I guess that was the goal that they might one day be my big horses.”

The fall after they turned 3, the pair went to Dan James and his team at Double Dan Horsemanship in Midway, Kentucky, for 45 days to get a solid head start on the ground and to be backed.

“They came home from that, and they were so simple,” said Thompson. “I was so nervous that if I backed them, I was going to mess them up. But they came home from Dan’s, and you could put on a rope halter and ride them around bareback, which was pretty cool.”

Thompson really got the duo going in their 4-year-old year, and by the time they turned 5, both Prix and Prez had a great introduction to the sport of eventing. They even had quite the success competing in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program in the 5-year-old division and year-end Championships where Prix finished third on the East Coast and Prez finished fifth on the East Coast.

Bringing them along side-by-side has been an eye-opening experience for Thompson, and she has appreciated the opportunity to see the two blossom at their own rate.

“Prez is a bit more lanky and longer. He wants to be careful, but he hasn’t always known exactly where all of his parts and pieces are,” she said. “I have always joked from the beginning that he would be a bit of the slow bloomer, but for the most part he has kept up, and even more so; he was the first to do the three-long.”

Alexa Thompson and Prez with her parents Stacy and Jeff Ehlers. Photo courtesy of Thompson

She has thoroughly enjoyed seeing a bit of each of their dams come out in their personalities as they have matured.

“Knowing Prez’s mom has really helped in producing him because it was so similar to producing ‘Ella’ [La Vie en Rose,]" she said. "I could go into things and think, ‘Well this is how Ella would have handled this,’ and then take my time and introduce that to Prez slowly, whereas with Prix you could really be more direct with her because that is how Crystal was.”

In 2023, Thompson got to check off a major mark from her bucket list—traveling overseas to train and compete. Both Prix and Prez got to go with her, which was a huge stepping stone in their developing careers.

“I have always really wanted to learn more and get better, but my parents were really serious about me going to college and having that education, and I am very grateful for that,” she reflected. “But I always felt a little frustrated like I might have missed out on a lot of learning opportunities like with the U25 and then the U21 or not having been able to go and immerse myself into a program as a working student.”

After participating in a clinic locally with French eventer Maxime Livio last spring, Thompson joked with Livio’s barn manager about her coming over to ride with him. That joke grew into an opportunity that Thompson couldn’t turn down.

“It was all kind of on a whim,” she reflected. “I had just gotten married, and my business was going really well. It was probably a little crazy to be honest as I look back on it, but I am so grateful that my husband and all of my clients supported it.”

While in France, both of her horses moved up a level. Prix has now competed up to the CCI3*-S level, and Prez concluded his 2023 season in his first ever CCI3*-L. Livio spoke highly of both horses, which in itself is a feather that Thompson can put in her hat.

“He was really really impressed with them and thinks that they both are top quality,” she shared. “He made me giggle—he said that he thought Prez was definitely a five-star horse, but that I'm not allowed to give up on him. I joke that Prez is like my little brother; he annoys the goshness out of you. I probably never would have bought a horse like him. He is not really my type. I really had to learn to ride him, which is great for me as a professional.”

Thompson is taking everything day by day and letting her horses truly guide the way, but the ultimate goal for Prez this year would be to have a top-3 finish in a CCI3*-L before turning their sights to the four-star level.

Parlez Clear finishing 4th out of 84 starters on her dressage score of 25.5 at Saulieu 2*L (FR). Photo by Marine Bouchot photography

“Prix is smaller and a bit more petite. She tries really, really, hard and probably has more heart than she has ability in the grand scheme of things, so we are really just going to take our time and see where she is at,” noted Thompson. “She is probably going to be one who is super competitive at the three-, maybe four- short levels, and if she wants to be a four-long horse, I am here for it. Riding her is probably the highlight of any day. There is no horse that digs deeper; she tries so hard. She could do nothing, and I would keep her and be very happy.”

Nine years ago, Thompson bred two horses with hope in her heart and here they are, nine years later, making all of her wildest dreams come true. As great as it is to see these two horses continue to grow through the levels, for Thompson it’s just the bigger picture of working with them that brings the most reward.

“They feel like family, like my children almost,” she said. “Every day has just been me trying to help them be their best selves. Being able to know that I am helping them live up to their full potential really is the coolest part of this whole experience.”

About the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program

The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses aged four- and five-years-old, that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.

The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.

The USEA would like to thank ARMA, Bates Saddles, Capital Square, HorseWeek, Kerrits, Parker Equine Insurance, SmartPak, Standlee, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.

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