Aug 06, 2022

The Road to the AEC: The Opportunity of a Lifetime for Wildenschild

Cortney Drake Photography photo

I grew up in Denmark and am a mature rider who was a very active horse person from the age of four and into my early 20s. I did not really ride for 30 years after that, but I am now on the road to the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) at Rebecca Farm!

I grew up on a farm with all the freedom that brings to goof around with horses: I rode trails, did some dressage (sort-of-weekly lessons), and showed in the show jumpers. I had this amazing Holsteiner mare who was super brave and incredibly easy to jump – she sorted out distances on her own and would jump anything I pointed her at. Sadly, she died when I was in college, and there wasn’t a good path forward for more horses at that time. When I was in high school, my Dad and I also bred and raced trotters (harness racing) and I briefly held an amateur’s license to race at the tracks, but a year away as an au-pair in a Chicago suburb ended that, and I never renewed my license. I would often condition the trotters by riding them on trails, beaches, etc. I would happily throw a saddle on and hop on not knowing if they had ever been under saddle. It was easier than putting on the elaborate harness and hooking up a sulky and driving around our rudimentary track out in one of the fields. And I was in my teens and never fell off a horse – I would have probably bounced.

After college and obtaining a Ph.D. in engineering, I moved to the U.S., got busy with my career and family, and didn’t think much about horses. I have lived in Oregon since 2002 and teach at Oregon State University. I stayed busy with “low-cost” and “low-impact” activities like skiing, climbing, and mountain biking. I did get “thrown” off my mountain bike, resulting in the need for shoulder surgery, but otherwise kept both my bank account and body in pretty good shape.

In 2016, I started riding a little again because my son was taking lessons at a local barn and I decided to ride with him instead of sitting around watching. I entered a one-day event at Inavale Farm on a 24-year-old lesson horse and it all came back. How could I have missed out on the joy of galloping (probably more like cantering…) through a field, and jumping logs in the forest for so many years? So, in 2017 I bought an OTTB thinking I could easily handle a somewhat troublesome Thoroughbred gelding because my riding memory was what was frozen in my mind in the mid-1980s when I was young, had a solid seat, and still bounced.

After some bucking episodes, I did not feel so bouncy anymore, and I bought a more compliant Hanovarian-cross mare in 2018 and started eventing – because why not try that at the age of 53? I showed in my first recognized event in 2019, and have been busy “conquering” Beginner Novice since. Because Rebecca Farm doesn’t normally offer BN at their shows, this year’s AEC is a unique opportunity for me and my mare. At this point, I may be content to compete BN forever, we will see if I get brave enough for Novice, so I don’t have great hopes of making it to an event at Rebecca Farm otherwise. We did go to Rebecca in 2020 when they offered BN as a COVID “fluke”, but my mare came up lame as I was warming up for cross-country and I was almost in tears, realizing this could be my only chance to ride in that beautiful field.

Being able to compete in the AEC at Rebecca Farm has been an unreal dream since I qualified last year. I booked a hotel room in Sept 2021, and my 85-year-old father is planning to travel from Denmark to Montana to see me ride in the AEC. I can’t wait to be there and share this with him! Much thanks goes to Kelsey Horn at Inavale who has patiently yelled “sit up” at me in jumping lessons for three years and to Kimberlee Barker of KB Dressage who has been helping me move up the levels in my flat work. I couldn’t have qualified without their help! Nor without the patience of my family, who has come to realize that I enter a separate time-space reality when I “go down to the barn” and don’t reappear for hours.

Mar 22, 2023 Classic Series

Memories from the Vet Box with Max Corcoran

When super groom Max Corcoran mentioned in 2005 that it would be fun to participate in a USEA Classic Series event, her employer and eventing legend Karen O’Connor took that to heart. “I did a lot of grooming for the classic format when Kentucky and all those other competitions were proper long format,” Corcoran shared. “When Gretchen [Butts] started offering the Classic Series at Waredaca [Gaithersburg, Maryland,] she asked if I would come up and do some lectures to help people understand what the 10-minute box was and how to pack for it. I did that a few times and said to Karen, ‘Man, it would be so fun to do one of these.’ And so Karen's like, 'You want to do one? Yeah, you're gonna do one next year.'”

Mar 21, 2023 Education

Conformation Critique with Chris Ryan: Stella

Has this horse quality? The answer is definitely yes. This first impression is so important. As a selector for the Goresbridge Go for Gold Event horse sale, I have an abbreviation ‘GPO’ which stands for "Good Pull Out." It means that the first look prompts the potential client the need to bring the horse out of his box for a further look.

Mar 20, 2023 News

Through The Lens: SRF Carolina International

It was a beautiful but chilly weekend in the pines at the Setters' Run Farm Carolina International. After a record-setting 19.4 in the CCI4*-S dressage, Will Coleman became the first three-time winner in the event's history when he led from start to finish on Hyperion Stud's Chin Tonic HS.

Mar 20, 2023 Classic Series

Get to Know What’s Happening in Area VI in 2023

West Coast eventers experienced tremendous success in 2022. Tamie Smith recorded top-10 finishes at Badminton in England, at the FEI World Championships at Pratoni in Italy, and at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. Helen Alliston won the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final, and Tommy Greengard captured the USEA Intermediate Championship at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. James Alliston returned to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event for the first time since 2017 and finished third in the CCI4*-S.

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