Earning a spot on a USEA National Leaderboard is a victory that takes years of hard work, and for some, the hard work started with the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program. Increasing in popularity since its creation in 2004, the mission of the program is to identify upper level event horses during their 4- and 5-year-old years. A true testament to the program’s success, this year, over 20 YEH graduate horses have claimed top spots on the upper level leaderboards.
Not just limited to the upper levels, almost every level has a YEH graduate on top of the leaderboard. The following leaderboards have YEH graduates holding either the first or second spot: Horse of the Year, Intermediate Horse, Preliminary Horse, the two new leaderboards (7-year-old Horse and 6-year-old Horse), Modified Horse, and Novice Horse.
With an impressive 201 points, Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana) is ranked second on the Overall Horse of the Year Leaderboard. Tsetserleg is a 12-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, bred by Timothy Holekamp, and ridden by Boyd Martin.
Tsetserleg, while the ‘T’ is silent in the pronunciation, goes by the barn name of Thomas. Thomas started his eventing career with a YEH 5-year-old competition at Longwood Farm in 2012 with rider Cristin Stoop. Since then he’s become one of the leading event horses for the United States.
Described by Boyd Martin as “the sweetest, kindest horse,” Thomas has had a very sweet year. Thomas and Martin have either placed first or second in every competition they’ve entered in 2019. They won The Fork CCI4*-S division, placed second at the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*, won the Maryland International CCI3*-S division, and brought home double gold for the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Confidence Game (Morluc x Pam’s Ruckus) is the second-highest ranked stallion of 2019 with 27 points. Confidence Game is a 9-year-old Thoroughbred stallion owned and ridden by Colleen Rutledge.
In 2015, Confidence Game competed in YEH as a 5-year-old at Loch Moy Farm and the 2015 USEA YEH East Coast Championships. Four years later, Confidence Game is sitting second on the top stallion of the year. This past year, Confidence Game and Rutledge won the Intermediate division at MCTA, finished third in the Intermediate division at Loch Moy Farm, and placed second in the Advanced/Intermediate division at VHT International.
A total of three YEH graduates are featured on the Stallion of the Year leaderboard: Confidence Game (#2), Geluk HVF (#3), and K-Cosimo SE (#5).
Accumulating 107 points, Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik) is the highest-ranked Intermediate level horse of 2019. Danito is a 10-year-old Hanoverian chestnut gelding owned by Ruth Bley and ridden by Tamra Smith.
Described as a horse with a heart of gold, Danito started his winning streak in 2014 at Lone Tree Farm’s YEH competition with John Michael Durr in the irons. Since then, Danito has picked up over 15 wins.
This past year, the Hanoverian gelding earned the title of USEA Horse of the Month in February, won the CCI3*-S division at Fresno County Horse Park, finished second in the CCI3*-S at Galway Downs International, won the Intermediate division at Woodside, was the Intermediate Reserve Champion at the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC), placed third in the CCI4*-S division at Twin Rivers Fall H.T. and won his most recent outing at Galway Downs International in the CCI3*-L division.
A total of three YEH graduates are featured on the Intermediate Horse of the Year leaderboard: Danito (#1), Miks Master C (#3), and Woodford Reserve (#7).
Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) is the highest-ranked 7-year-old horse of 2019 with 88 points. Miks Master C is a Swedish Warmblood gelding owned and bred by Laurie Cameron and ridden by Maya Black. Miks Master C is also ranked third on the Intermediate Horse of the Year leaderboard.
As a 3-year-old, Miks Master C started his eventing career with the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) program. He competed in the 3-year-old division at Applewood Farm in 2015 where he won on a score of 77.5. Graduating from the FEH program and into the YEH program, Miks Master C went on to win his first YEH competition at Surefire with rider Waylon Roberts in 2016. He successfully competed in the 2016 USEA YEH East Coast Championships as a 4-year-old and 2017 USEA YEH East Coast Championships as a 5-year-old.
Now, two years later, Miks Master C has racked up numerous top placings at the Intermediate/CCI3* level. In 2019, he placed second in the Intermediate division at both Red Hills and Millbrook, third in the Intermediate division at Surefire, fourth in the Intermediate division at the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds, second in the CCI3*-S division at Plantation Field International, and wrapped up the year with a ninth-place finish in the CCI3*-L division at Fair Hill International.
Five YEH graduates are featured on the 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year leaderboard: Miks Master C (#1), Cascor (#6), R-Perfect Storm (#7), Wil Celtic Charlie (#9), and FE Golden Eye (#10).
With 56 points, Get Gaudi (Alicante HBC x Second Floor) is the second-highest ranked Preliminary level horse of 2019. Get Gaudi is an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Jacqueline Mars and ridden by Lauren Kieffer.
In 2016, Get Gaudi started her U.S. eventing career with the YEH program. Ridden by Matt Flynn, the Dutch Warmblood gelding won the YEH 5-year-old division at Surefire in 2016. Later that year, Flynn and Get Gaudi placed second at the 2016 USEA YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships with a score of 87.08. Three years later, Get Gaudi is one of the leading Preliminary horses in the country.
This past year, Get Gaudi and Lauren Kieffer never finished outside of the top four. They recently placed second in the CCI2*-S division at Plantation Field International, fourth in the CCI2*-S at Great Meadow International, and won the CCI2*-L at Ocala International.
Two YEH graduates are featured on the Preliminary Horse of the Year Leaderboard: Get Gaudi (#2) and Lup the Loop (#8).
Crystal Crescent Moon (Catherston Dazzler x Ebony Moon) is the highest-ranked 6-year-old horse of 2019 with 44 points. Crystal Crescent Moon is a Connemara/British Sport Horse gelding owned and bred by Nancy Winter and ridden by Allison Springer.
Crystal Crescent Moon started his eventing career as a 4-year-old with the YEH competition at Surefire in 2017. The following year he came back to Surefire to win the 5-year-old division. He also finished within the top 15 at the 2018 USEA YEH East Coast Championships. In just two years, Crystal Crescent Moon and Allison Springer have already added 10 wins to their record.
Seven YEH graduates are featured on the 6-Year-Old Horse of the Year leaderboard: Crystal Crescent Moon (#1), Baymax (#3), Kosmo K (#4), Stunner (#4), Foxdale’s Celtic Charm (#6), Miss LuLu Herself (#7), and Quadrocona (#9).
Landjaeger is the highest-ranked Modified level horse of 2019 with 23 points. Landjaeger (Landkonig x Drink of Die xx) is a 5-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned and ridden by Katie Malensek. Landjaeger competed in YEH last year as a 4-year-old at Ocala International. Since then he’s taken home either first or second in four events at the Modified level.
Drummer Boy is the highest-ranked Novice level horse of 2019 with 61 points. Drummer Boy (Don Principe x Winterzauber) is an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned and ridden by Madeline Bletzacker. As a 4-year-old, Drummer Boy first started his U.S. eventing career with YEH in 2012. He won the YEH 4-year-old competition at South Farm with a score of 81.15. He went on the following year to win the YEH 5-year-old competition at South Farm. His winning didn’t stop there - since 2012, Madeline Bletzacker and Drummer Boy have added over 50 wins to their USEA record!
**Leaderboard information is current as of November 14, 2019.
Congratulations to the YEH graduates!
The USEA 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 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.
Over the previous decade, the number of upper level event horses that remain at the highest levels of the sport for extended periods of time has anecdotally been dwindling. Also, it is rare to see horses return to represent the U.S. on international teams. This discussion features statistics provided by the USEA and EquiRatings to strengthen our understanding of this issue and perspectives from coaches, trainers, riders, grooms, and veterinary professionals on the possible reasons and solutions.
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