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.

Sep 28, 2023 Awards

Nominations for 2023 USEA Appreciation Awards Now Open through October 29

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.

Sep 28, 2023 Interscholastic

Stable View is Ramping Up for the 2024 Intercollegiate & IEL Championships

Anticipation for the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship and inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) Championship is growing, and the host venue, Stable View, is up for the task of making both events an unforgettable experience for all involved. For the first time, the Intercollegiate and IEL program championships will be hosted on the same weekend at the Stable View H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5, 2024, creating greater unity between the programs and demonstrating a clear pipeline of participation in the sport from grade school through college and beyond.

Sep 27, 2023 Rules

New Eventing Rule Changes Going into Effect October 1, 2023

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has made five rule changes which will go into effect October 1, 2023. Familiarize yourself with these rule changes below to make sure you are in compliance before heading out for your next event.

Sep 27, 2023 Competitions

Fast Facts: 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships

With the goal of creating a pathway for young horses in the U.S. and participants of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program, earlier this year the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and USEA joined forces to launch the USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA