Jul 23, 2018

The Road to AEC: From the Plains to the Arena

Cayla Stone and Atalanta at The Event at Archer in 2017. Photo courtesy of Cayla Stone.

The Road to AEC is a series of articles contributed by our members about their journeys to compete in the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds at The Colorad Horse Park in Parker, Colorado, August 30-September 2, 2018.

I am an eventing trainer and instructor in Fort Collins, Colorado. But, I also do a lot of work with Mustangs, and with other dedicated individuals have also recently started a non-profit group benefiting mustangs on and off the range. I have competed multiple times in the Extreme Mustang Makeover and was a top 10 finalist twice.

In 2016, I competed in the Fort Collins Extreme Mustang Makeover. Trainers are given an untouched horse at random, and my pick was a 6-year-old small bay mare. I have worked with many untouched Mustangs, both before and after her, but I can still say she was the most difficult horse I’ve had. I named her Atalanta after a woman in Greek mythology known for her speed and determination.

Cayla working with Atalanta in her first few weeks of training. Photo courtesy of Cayla Stone.

It took four weeks of patience and hours of sitting in her pen before I could touch her, another four weeks more (and a bad concussion) before she was rideable. With only one month left before the competition, no one believed we would make it. But, she proved them wrong and made the top 10 finals and we placed fifth overall.

I had not planned to buy her back after the competition because I did not have room for another horse. But, I told myself if she sold for less than $1,500 I’d buy her back (I really wanted to keep her but couldn’t afford much). She sold to me for $1,400 and since then has been the best partner I could ask for and an amazing ambassador for the Mustang breed.

Cayla and Atalanta in the dressage ring. Photo courtesy of Cayla Stone.

That first year, I knew she had a talent for jumping and we continued practicing, competing in Beginner Novice level events successfully. In 2017, we moved up to Novice, my goal being to qualify for the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC). She proved herself yet again and in three events was qualified with ease.

This year, we have continued showing at Novice and participating in almost every clinic in our area, hoping to show everyone what Mustangs can do as well as learn all we can from top riders in the sport. Our plan is to move up to Training level soon and my long-term goal is for her to be my daughter’s event horse in the future.

In addition to Atta, I have an amazing group of students and Mustangs starting their eventing careers, proving that these horses can be safe, willing partners for any age and ability.


Photo courtesy of Cayla Stone.

Do you have a Road to AEC story to share? Email your submissions to [email protected] for the chance to be featured!

Oct 16, 2019 Competitions

Fast Facts: 2019 Fair Hill International

The last ever CCI4*-L at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day Event is set to begin this afternoon in Elkton, Md. with the first horse inspection. After 31 years of hosting a CCI4*-L (previously CCI3*), Fair Hill says farewell to the level and hello to the CCI5*. In 2020 Fair Hill will host the Maryland Five-Star and will also run the CCI3*-L. So who will be the final CCI4*-L winner?

Oct 15, 2019 Eventing News

Carolina Horse Park to Host Anniversary Challenge

The Carolina Horse Park Foundation is pleased to announce the 2019 Anniversary Challenge, an online fundraising challenge. The Challenge focuses on the wonderful community who support the Park and make it what it is. CHP is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of open space for equestrian and recreational purposes.

Oct 15, 2019 Research Studies

Equine Medical Research Funding Receives USEA Board of Governors Approval

At the USEA Board of Governors meeting in August, the Equine Medical Research Committee recommended the funding of four studies using the $39,581 collected in 2018 and the Board approved their recommendation.

Oct 15, 2019 Association News

Blue Ribbon Award and Medal Certificate Error

The USEA has discovered that there was a printing error with the Blue Ribbon Award and Medal certificates and we are working to correct the mistake. If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Hardwick at [email protected] Thank you for your patience!

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Riding Helmet of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA