Earning national recognition in the sport 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, two YEH graduate horses represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, the historic winner of CHIO Aachen was a YEH graduate, the USET Connaught Grant Recipient was a YEH graduate, and almost every national year-end leaderboard has at least one YEH graduate ranked in the top 10.
Tokyo Olympic Team
Two out of the four horses on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team were graduates of the YEH program. Tsetserleg TSF and the traveling reserve, Mai Baum both started their eventing career through the YEH program. The 2012 YEH graduate Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall x Thabana) aka Thomas is a 14-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, bred by Timothy Holekamp, and ridden by Boyd Martin. Tsetserleg, a 2012 YEH graduate competed in the USEA YEH program as a 5-year-old in 2012 with rider Cristin Stoop. Six years later, Tsetserleg completed his first five-star event in 2018 at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event where he and Martin finished 11th. Since then, he and Martin have represented the U.S. at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrians Games, the 2019 Lima Pan American Games where the pair took home double gold - individual gold and team gold, and at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira), the 15-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, and ridden by Tamra Smith went to his first event in 2010 as a 4-year-old and finished 4th in the YEH 4-year-old division at Rebecca Farm. The following year, Mai Baum finished 5th in the YEH 5-year-old division at Rebecca Farm both years, he was ridden by Michele Pestl. Now, as a 15-year-old, the five-star horse has earned 11 international wins, a top 10 finish at Kentucky, and represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, and were members of the gold medal team in the CCI)4*-S at CHIO Aachen.
On September 18, 2021 history was made for U.S. Eventing as American athletes achieved their best results ever in the CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen. William Coleman and Off The Record, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), owned by the Off the Record Syndicate, took first place individually, becoming the first American combination to top the eventing podium at Aachen.
Off The Record, formerly known as Cooley Off The Record, was a graduate of the YEH program in 2014. As a 5-year-old, he finished second in the YEH 5-year-old division at Waredaca and ninth at the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship with Coleman as the rider. This 12-year-old gelding has finished in the top three in 12 CCI events including a third-place finish at the CCI4*-L at Tattersalls in Ireland and the historic win in Aachen, Germany.
USET Connaught Grant Recipient
The YEH graduate, Chin Tonic was awarded the USET Connaught Grant during the 2021 USEA Year-End Awards Ceremony on Saturday, December 11, 2021. The 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wildera) ridden by William Coleman and owned by Hyperion Stud graduated from the YEH program in 2017 as a 5-year-old. He finished fifth in the 2017 USEA YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships and since then he’s collected wins at the Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced/CCI4* level. In 2020, he won the CCI3*-L at Tryon and in 2021 he won the CCI4*-S at Morven and finished third in the CCI4*-L at Tryon International.
USEA Novice Horse of the Year
Drummer Boy is the highest-ranked Novice level horse of 2021. Drummer Boy (Don Principe x Winterzauber) is a Hanoverian gelding owned and ridden by Madeline Bletzacker. He was also the 2019 USEA Novice Horse of the Year. 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!
USEA Overall Year-End Leaderboards
On the Standlee Premium Western Forage® USEA Horse of the Year leaderboard there are two YEH graduates holding top spots. Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding ridden and owned by Doug Payne and bred by Elizabeth Callahan is ranked fourth with 174 points. Ranked sixth is Off The Record a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), owned by the Off the Record Syndicate and ridden by William Coleman.
There are three YEH graduates featured on the SmartPak Stallion of the Year USEA overall leaderboard. Tied for fourth is Quaden AF (Qredit HTF x Glitter) a 2016 Oldenburg stallion owned by the Red Head Syndicate and ridden by Matthew Bryner and Quiberon (Quite Easy x Avalon) a 2015 Oldenburg stallion owned and ridden by Doug Payne and bred by Elizabeth Callahan. Ranked seventh is Redtail Achiever (Bernardini x Nana Knows) a 2015 Thoroughbred stallion ridden by Alex O’Neal and owned by Elinor O’Neal.
Congratulations to the YEH graduates!
About the USEA Young Event Horse 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, 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 Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Hay Company, Parker Equine Insurance 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.
Tamie Smith’s year has been nothing short of action-packed as she packed up all 25 of her competition horses and made her way to the East Coast for the first part of the year before hopping on a jet to Tokyo where she served as the U.S. team reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She then stayed overseas and competed abroad for a little while before returning home to the West Coast. While this year has been full of opportunities to show, her aspirations are bigger than just competition. The 2021 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year has been full steam ahead chasing goals in both her riding career as well as in her impact on the sport’s future.
Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.
Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.
The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.