I am a competitor from Wisconsin who grew up in the Racine County Pony Club. I bought my horse Ninjutsu in 2013 as a second horse to bring to my A level Pony Club certification. At that time, Ninja only had six months of under saddle training, but he was showing in the jumpers with a Grand Prix rider from our area. My plan was to spend the next two years getting to know him and continue his training to bring him to my USPC testing. Several things led to my decision to withdraw Ninja from the certification, and only bring my one other horse who had been eventing at Preliminary at the time.
Fast forward several years and several A circuit jumper shows later, Ninja had not done much in the way of cross-country. I planned to sell him as a jumper since he clearly had more jumping capabilities in the jumper ring than I thought I needed in an event horse. Shortly after this decision, I was signed up for an eventing clinic with Zach Brandt, when my Preliminary event horse came up sore. I decided to add Ninja into the clinic last minute, with the full intention of skipping the cross-country portion of the clinic.
After the first show jump lesson, somehow I was talked into trying the cross-country the next day. On that hot day in July 2017, Ninja had his first cross-country school, which involved banks into water, ditches, and cross-country combinations. Much to my surprise, my super careful and scopey jumper took to cross-country like an experienced horse who had been doing it his entire life. I was thrilled with how confident and happy he felt galloping down to his first solid fences. After a rough ending to my Preliminary event horse’s career, this cross-country school was such an influential part of my journey in this very difficult sport. A single cross-country school opened a brand new door of opportunities for myself and my horse.
In September of 2017 I competed Ninja in his first event, where he finished on his dressage score in the Novice. The following year, he moved up to Training level and won his first Training event, which was the start of his AEC qualifiers. A wedding, purchasing our first house, and graduation from Dental Hygiene school all added excitement to these last two years of competing. We have had an unconventional path to the AEC, but it helps me truly understand how blessed I am to have a wonderful partner to compete at the AEC for the first time!
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) 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 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships will be held August 27-September 1, 2019 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
A double clear cross-country round propelled Rebecca Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses' 11-year-old British Sport Horse gelding Caravaggio II (Vangelis-S x Courtesan) to their first blue ribbon together in the CCI4*-Short, and Haley Turner and her own 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Shadow Inspector (Tinaranas Inspector x Caragh Roller) continued their run of sub-30 dressage tests to win the CCI3*-Short at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International in Paso Robles, California.
USEA podcast host Nicole Brown chats with Interim Eventing Chef d’Equipe and Team Manager of the U.S. Eventing Team Bobby Costello about the Silver Medal Performance put forward by the U.S. Team at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships.
There is still time to experience the long format of three-day eventing this year, by competing in a fall USEA Classic Series Event! The USEA Classic Series offers long-format eventing at the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels, and there are still a few left on the fall calendar in various Areas.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.