Jul 29, 2020

The Road to AEC: Lily Hamilton and Fallo e Basta

Lumineer Photography Photo.

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.

Lily and her trainer, Madison, meeting baby Nike for the first time. Noelle Hamilton Photo.

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.

Lily and Nike at the Cobblestone Farms Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of Noelle Hamilton.

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!

About the USEA American Eventing Championships

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.

Jan 27, 2023 ATC

Introducing the New Modified Rider Division at the 2023 AEC

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.

Jan 26, 2023 Young Event Horse

Get a Taste of Eventing with the New Event Horse Program

Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.

Jan 25, 2023 Profile

Dondante Steps Into The Spotlight with 2022 Standlee USEA Horse of the Year Title

Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.

Jan 24, 2023 Volunteers

The VIP Volunteer: Julie Murray

Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.

Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.

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