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.

Aug 18, 2022 Competitions

Weekend Quick Links: Aug 17-21

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

Aug 18, 2022 Young Riders

Tackling the Mental Game that is Dressage at Day One of Twin Rivers EA21 Regional Clinic

The USEA Emerging Athlete (EA21) Regional Clinics continued farther down the West Coast yesterday to the picturesque town of Paso Robles, California. Nestled in the countryside between rolling hills and vineyards, the beautiful Twin Rivers Ranch played host to this invitational event.

Aug 17, 2022 News

In Memoriam: Richard Picken

Richard Mark Picken, 53, lost a courageous battle with cancer on August 13, 2022, dying peacefully at home. Born in the UK, he emigrated to Kentucky in 2013 and became an instant fixture on the US Equestrian Federation’s eventing and show jumping circuits. A top coach and trainer, he traveled throughout the USA and overseas with his students to competitions. He enjoyed coaching young riders and training inexperienced horses as much as he thrived under the pressure of an international championship.

Aug 17, 2022 Young Riders

Cadence, Canter, and Candidness Conquer Day Two of Aspen Farms EA21 Regional Clinic

Riders returned to Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington for the final day of the USEA Emerging Athlete (EA21) Regional Clinic with USEA Instructor's Certification Program (ICP) Level IV Certified Instructors Rebecca Brown on Tuesday. Coming off of a solid first day focusing primarily on proper flatwork and dressage basics, the twelve young riders took to the outdoor arena for the show jumping portion of the clinic.

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