The road to the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds looks different for every horse and rider who competes there. We are sharing some of those stories in the lead-up to the 2020 USEA AEC, which will take place August 25-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. To read more Road to AEC stories, click here.
I first met my horse, Nike aka "Fallo e Basta," just hours after she was born in August of 2014. At the time, I was taken with Nike’s bright red color, and she was so tiny! She was curious and spunky and so fun to hang out with. I was only 9 years old at the time and I had no idea that someday she would be my horse, the greatest partner I could ever possibly ask for, and we would be teaming up for the USEA American Eventing Championships together.
Nike spent the first four years of her life hanging out in the pasture just being a horse and growing a little. During those years I began doing my first recognized events on Nike’s mom, Pippa. Pippa showed me the ropes - she knew it all and she did it all with confidence. This helped me to grow as a rider and truly begin to understand and excel at eventing. On Pippa, I never placed below fourth in any event. She knew her job well and she taught me so much. She was the perfect seasoned horse to bring me along.
In late 2018, when Nike was 4 years old, I started riding her a little bit as my trainer began working her under saddle. Nike was zesty and strong-willed, but by the same token, she was bright and so willing. Eager to learn, Nike always approached training times with great curiosity. It was easy to see that she was trying to understand the questions we asked of her and usually caught on so quickly to the new things! I began spending time with her just hanging out and getting to know each other. I fell in love with this horse. I loved her personality, her spunk, and I loved how she moved. As she grew stronger in her gaits it became apparent that she moved so beautifully. She was growing up and she was becoming my best friend.
For my 13th birthday in March of 2019, my parents made the decision to make Nike mine. My first horse is a horse that I have known since she was born. My first horse is a horse who has known no other rider (except for my trainer occasionally). My first horse is a horse that I started. My mom and I gave Nike her new show name, “Fallo e Basta,” which means “just do it” in Italian. It’s the perfect complement to her barn name of Nike.
For the past year, I have been training only on Nike. As a 14-year-old bringing up a green baby horse, I have learned SO much. I am her teacher now. Because of that, she has made me a much better rider. The only time she makes mistakes is when I do. She needs me to be clear with my aids, she needs me to be confident, she needs ME to believe in US. Nike learns from me and I feel such pride in knowing that what she has learned is that she loves her job and she loves being my partner.
Nike is so very special - I am honored to be her person. This year is our first year doing recognized events together and I had set my goal to qualify for the AEC with her this season at the Beginner Novice level. It turns out that Nike is just like her mama - she knows when it is show time and she shows up ready to go! At every show this season, Nike has placed in the top three. She’s a dream in dressage, and she runs cross-country like a pro! Nike is small in stature, at barely 15 hands, but the size of her heart is unmatched. She is bold, brave, loyal, and a true competitor. I feel blessed beyond measure that I am on this journey with such a special horse as Nike. I am so thankful to my sweet horse, my amazing trainer, Madison Bonamarte, and my selfless parents for helping me achieve this dream of making it to the AEC! I am SO ready to get to the Kentucky Horse Park and take in this amazing experience!
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. The 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 25-August 30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
There were surprisingly few shakeups to the top of the leaderboards Friday at the MARS Bromont CCI, but the incredibly close scores leave no margin for error heading into Saturday’s exciting cross-country phase across all five levels.
Tomorrow, the first of five regional clinics for the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Program kicks off in the central region of the country in Benton, Louisiana, at Holly Hill Farm. Throughout the summer, the remaining clinics on the East and West Coast will follow. At each clinic, 12 hand-selected riders will participate in a two-day clinic led by USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) coaches. The purpose of the EA21 program is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency. The intention is to provide young athletes with access to an added level of horsemanship and riding skills to further their training and skill development with greater consistency.
After the first day of competition, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and her horse FE Golden Eye lead an international field in the CCI4*-L division of the MARS Bromont CCI.