It has been a magical dream to gallop across the cross-county course at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana with the mountains and big blue sky surrounding me. Every year, when The Event at Rebecca Farm is hosted, my social media is flooded with the most beautiful images of the show. It had always seemed with the distance, finances, work requirements, and life in general that I would never make it there myself. At the end of 2021 I found out this dream could become a reality with the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) at Rebecca Farm and a new horse of a lifetime!
My name is Tammy Seaborn, and I am an adult amateur from Area IV. I live just outside of St. Louis, Missouri where I rent a house at a little private farm and care for all the retired horses. I have worked for 15+ years as an equine and small animal veterinary technician. I have ridden at the lower levels for most of my life. My journey to this year’s AEC started back in 2019; I refer to it as the dark year of my horse life. That year started by finding out my 2018 Retired Racehorse Thoroughbred, Rustin, sustained a career-ending injury while on vacation in the pasture. Around the same time, my old campaigner was fully put on the retired list due to re-injuring her suspensory ligament. When Covid hit in early 2020, it seemed to add insult to injury with the lockdown, broken horses, and not riding. Covid was especially difficult for the farm owners and my dear friends - Tammy Martin is an Emergency Physician and Rob Forstot is an Anesthesiologist, both were and continue to be on the front lines of the pandemic.
While Tammy, Rob, and I were trying to cope with everything going on, we all came up with a plan: to buy a horse together. It seemed foolproof: we all needed a bright light to help ourselves deal with everything going on in the world. It is hard enough in normal times to find an event horse in Area IV, but it was nearly impossible with the country on lockdown to go horse shopping locally. Additionally, this horse had to be something for me to compete and for Rob to enjoy at home. Rob and I are very different riders. He had recently been focusing on dressage whereas I have a strong jumping background. We needed our own version of a unicorn.
We decided to enlist Meghan O’Donoghue to find it. We got connected with Meghan by my friend Christina DeMauro who had a young horse in training with her at the time. I was also comfortable with Meghan as I had taken several clinics with her over the years. After some searching, Meghan found a big, beautiful bay 6-year-old Hanoverian/Thoroughbred gelding named Independence Day (aka Indy) who had been bred by Alex MacLeod. We jumped on the first flight we could find to Virginia after lockdown restrictions started to lift to try him. I wasn’t sure I believed in love at first sight until I met Indy, and thankfully Rob and Tammy agreed! From the instant I sat on him I knew he was the right horse. Despite being young, he had the perfect amateur brain. I hadn't jumped a cross-county fence in two years, and he took perfect care of me both in the ring and out in the field.
Indy had to spend a bit of time at Meghan’s waiting to find a ride to the Midwest, which handily allowed for some extra time in her program. He made it home in the heart of the summer. I spent the rest of 2020 just getting to know him, and we finished the year with our first Beginner Novice run at Hagyard in Kentucky. In early 2021 Indy went down to Ocala for winter boot camp with Meghan, which allowed me to experience the magic that is winter in Florida and we made the move up to Novice while there. We spent the rest of the year at the level having a blast competing around the Midwest. Our improvements were notable and exciting - we started off the season a bit rusty and being a complete slowpoke on cross-country but capped off the year getting Area IV Reserve Champion at Heritage Park Horse Trials! I knew this qualified us for the 2022 AEC.
Soon after it was announced that they would be hosted at Rebecca Farm. I knew I had to go! This is how the adventure begins. Planning alone has been so fun and challenging. It’s going to be a long two-day haul to get to Kalispell, but thankfully I have a village of people to help. I have enlisted my friend and trainer Amanda Pezold to be my co-pilot and coach during the competition. Christina is letting me borrow her trailer so that Indy can ride in comfort. Co-Owner Tammy Martin is joining us and is known for being the ultimate horse show mom. We are planning so many fun things to do in Montana and are turning the trip into quite the vacation. Current plans include white water rafting and hiking in Glacier National Park.
There are still quite a few details to figure out as the show is rapidly approaching. Many people have told me that I’m absolutely crazy to make this trip and sometimes I do believe them. But Covid has taught us you only have this one life, and you must take every opportunity to enjoy every minute of it. Right now, our goal is to work hard to get better every day so we can perform our best. At the end of the day, all I want to do is go on this exciting adventure and come home with a safe and sound horse. Every night I dream about galloping across the beautiful Montana landscape with my horse of a lifetime. I still can’t believe this is going to be reality in just a few weeks!
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport at 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 4 at the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles Gold Level Sponsors: Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Capital Square, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club, Kerrits; Bronze Level Sponsors: Athletux, The Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equilume, Devoucoux, Fifth Third Bank, Gallops Saddlery, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Clark Nissan; Contributing Level Sponsors: CrossCountry App, WeRideTogether, Haygain, First Interstate Bank, Schellinger Construction, Glacier Bank, Animal Health Solutions Inc., Discover Kalispell; Prize Level Sponsors: Vet Blue, Practical Horseman, Hound & Hare, Strides of Equality Equestrians, Horse & Country TV, Bemer Independent Distributors, Freelance Design, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Flexible Fit Equestrian USA, and more! ATC Sponsors:
“The highest priority must be given by instructors to developing in their riders a correct, balanced, supple, effective, and independent seat for dressage and for jumping.” - “Teaching Principles” in the new ECP Eventing Handbook by the Levels
If you are on the fence about attending the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention this December 7-11 in Savannah, GA, the schedule of thought-provoking and insightful educational sessions planned for the event is sure to convince you to register today! To learn more about the various sessions and their hosts, click here.
This summer, five USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Clinics took place across the country giving young riders the opportunity to hone in on their horsemanship skills, improve their consistency in the saddle and show ring, and create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent. We caught up with many of the riders from the two West Coast sessions to hear their takes on the USEA’s newest program.
It’s about that time of year again when eventers across the country are packing their trunks and making arrangements to new locations for the winter months. While some owners might feel more comfortable transporting their own horses, time and resources make it more expedient for others to load their horses onto someone else’s rig for the potentially long journey to their winter quarters. For the safety and peace of mind of everyone involved – especially the equine passengers – two trusted shippers based on the east coast shared their tips for best practices when preparing horses for long trailer rides.