Do you believe in fate or karma? Well, I don’t think I did before, but that has changed.
In August of 2017, my horse Harlequin underwent colic surgery. Recovery went perfectly, so we started to bring him back into work only to discover he had severe knee arthritis and had to be retired. I went home that day – angry, sad, defeated – and started to look for retirement homes for Quinn.
After a few hours of searching for homes, I needed a break and went to mindlessly scroll through Facebook (isn’t that what everyone does?), and there he was. The first thing that popped up was an ad for a 5-year-old chestnut Thoroughbred gelding that was located a little over an hour away from me. I really didn’t want to start looking for a new horse, but something about him made me contact his owner, Laura. The following weekend I went to try him and fell in love! A couple of weeks later I brought Leo home.
With the help of my outstanding trainer Sara McGowan – who made me work slowly, correctly, and form a relationship with Leo before jumping in the show ring - we attended our first event, the Silverwood Farm Horse Trials in September of 2018. Much to my surprise, we finished in second place. This is when I set my sights on the AEC. Now of course, whenever you make plans things tend to go wrong! Our next event was supposed to be the Sundance Horse Trials a few weeks after, but that week Leo decided to throw the same hind shoe twice in one day (how is that even possible?) and then ended up with a hot nail which concluded the 2018 season.
Winter came and went and looking forward to the spring show season we entered IEA Horse Trials in May. Well apparently, Leo had other plans and scraped his knee the day before we were supposed to leave. Friday morning it was swollen so I needed to scratch him from the event. Now it’s crunch time - only a few more months to qualify and limited time and events. Fortunately, Leo was in top form for his next two outings, placing fourth at Fox River Valley Pony Club and winning at Silverwood Farm with clear cross-country rounds, earning us the qualifications we needed to compete at the AEC!
I’m excited to say we have managed to qualify for the AEC at Beginner Novice in just three events with an average score of 30.3. Leo grows and improves with every outing and I‘m excited to see what he can accomplish in Kentucky!
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.