Aug 05, 2023

The Road to the AEC: Plane Jane Goes from Craigslist to the AEC with Alayna Joseph

Terrie Hatcher Photography photo courtesy of Alayna Joseph

Plane Jane affectionately known as “Jane” did not have a glamorous start to her life. After being found in a kill pen as a yearling before being adopted as an older horse’s companion, she began to prove to be too much as an intended companion and as a result, the then 2-year-old mare was posted for sale on Craigslist.

I remember looking at her advertisement and thinking, was I seriously considering a horse that looked straight out of a commercial for a collaboration between Pantene and Barbie? We’re talking strawberry roan, mane and forelock extremely long, it’s all flowing, and she’s trotting towards the camera as if the whole thing was completely staged. At the time, I already had a Belgian draft cross that I had rescued and started eventing, and had grown to adore the breed’s work ethic and brain which is why I was so interested in the first place. When I went to see her in person, she just wanted to snuggle; a complete ham of a personality. She didn’t care what you did to her or asked of her. It was an easy decision, and she loaded up in the trailer with no problems.

Plane Jane's Craiglist ad photo. Lori Mellen photo.

Her career had a slow start. We worked to start her under saddle appropriately, with tons of hacking out and exposure to new things. She handled everything new with ease. I had done quite a bit of stock horse riding in college and reining in high school and mainly worked on the basics and making her a solid citizen which was not hard to do in the slightest.

In January 2016, we took her to her first schooling horse trial at Pine Hill in Bellville, Texas. She brought home second place and had a blast in the Beginner Novice division. With lots of improvement still possible, we continued to school and make the best of it. Every cross-country schooling or schooling show, she took my breath away with how much she loved it.

Later that year, I thought about breeding her because when you like something, you want more right? Our first attempt to breed her to Holsteiner Stallion Cathalido was successful but ended in sadness after there was evidence of reabsorption of the embryo during a routine heartbeat check. I decided to try again with a different stallion and wait until the spring when it would be much cooler. The stallion this time was Hosteiner Lotus T.

That spring of 2017, there was tornadic activity across the Gulf Coast Plains that claimed my not-so-grand but still considered “home” 1970’s single-wide. My future husband and I moved into an RV to save money, and I remembered the breeding plans. Even tight on funds, I convinced myself that this breeding was for the future of my riding career, the hardship was now but I should always be thinking ahead.

Success! Heartbeat and all. I turned my focus to saving up for building a house and a wedding after getting engaged in May. I was showing very little and just going out to play here and there with the horses. Fast forward to March 2018, Jane had her filly on Good Friday surprising us all with what a lovely job she had done. Once weaning was complete later that year, we got back to riding. Funds recovered and with my living situation much more stable, it was time to get back to showing and learning. That filly went on to win the 3-year-old filly division in 2021 in the Central Region Future Event Horse Championships.

Jane and I started to make real progress in 2019, although it became clear that her balance was not the best. She (still) finds it difficult to find a rhythm and stay in it. As her pilot, I kept working to help her improve and do everything I could to manage the canter. Often the result was us steamrolling across the course with seemingly very little control all whilst I’m having the time of my life.

We continued to work on our shortcomings, and she has met every challenge with me head-on. Every few months I would have a different area to improve upon because of the progress that we had made from before. Solving some problems would create new ones and constantly challenged my ability as a rider to remain adaptable and think on the fly. I couldn’t focus solely on the exercises with her, but I had to think about her physiology, the physics of the situation, and what was going to create a stronger foundation to yield rhythm and balance. If you find pictures from shows of us cantering in the dressage ring from 2020 and compare them to now, you’ll laugh and wonder if it’s the same horse.

Over the past year or more, a good friend of mine has been really encouraging us to qualify for the AEC at Novice level, and it has been a fun challenge to meet. I am a very thoughtful and deliberate person and tried to play to Jane’s advantages as best as I could and be strategic. For the longest time, I felt we were always going to be destined to score in the 30s on our dressage tests. I would just shake my head knowing we can knock some more points off the tests and really start to shine. Our personal best at a recognized came in at 26.7. I was stunned and absolutely overwhelmed with pride and continued adoration for the sweet mare that works so hard with me. Anyone who knows Jane knows she’d rather be running around with her hair on fire on cross-country.

Troy Roane Photography photo

It has been my dream to ride at the Kentucky Horse Park. I know this is a dream many of us share, and I am beyond excited to compete with a horse I’ve helped mold from the beginning at a national level. She is a true gem, and you might not think that at first glance but you’re sure to be captivated by the sparkle in her eye before long (if she hasn’t already tried to mug you for treats, sorry!).

My advice is, if you know you’ve got a good horse underneath you and their heart is in it, don’t give up. With time, proper coaching, and aggressive and reasonable achievable goal setting—you never know what you’ll accomplish. No, I’m not riding Intermediate or Preliminary, yet—but I’m having a blast, and so is my horse. I’m excited for the opportunity to go and have fun with you all, despite my very serious face in the warm-up. I hope you have a great ride!

About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)

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 combinations 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 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. 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: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.

Oct 01, 2023 Convention

Two Months Until the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention: Registration is Open!

Registration for the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is now open! Join the USEA in St. Louis, Missouri, this Dec. 7-10 for a weekend of mingling with fellow enthusiastic eventers to partake in discussions about the future of the sport. This year’s event will include a keynote address by Dr. Temple Grandin, a world-renowned scientist and author, a celebration of champions at the Annual Awards Dinner, and more! The city of St. Louis also has so many opportunities to sight-see and explore.

Sep 30, 2023 Competitions

The Future for U.S. Eventing is Promising Following 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships

The second and final day of competition at the 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships was all about precision as the 6-year-old CCI2*-S Championship competitors tackled both jumping phases and the 7-year-old CCI3*-S Championship pairs conquered Mogie Bearden-Muller’s cross-country track at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina.

Sep 30, 2023 Sponsor

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) Shows Support for Horse Week 2023

Equine Network is thrilled to have the support of the United States Eventing Association (USEA) for the third annual Horse Week event brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Sep 29, 2023 Competitions

Young Horses Stand Out from the Crowd at 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships

It was a busy day at Stable View Oktoberfest in Aiken, South Carolina as all FEI divisions and a few national divisions kicked off their competition weekend, including the 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships. Both the 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds got their chance to shine down the centerline at the start of the day, with the 7-year-olds also giving their best effort across Michael Vallaincourt’s show jumping track later this afternoon.

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