Aug 19, 2023

The Road to the AEC: The Unbreakable Bond Between Belmont and Adalena Campisi

Adalena Campisi and Belmont. Photos by Jessica Campisi

“Every horse, at least once in its life, deserves to be loved by a little girl.”

The now 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Belmont (Boundary x Capiana) has been lucky enough to have been loved by several little girls in his life. For almost three years now, he has been helping his current girl, Adalena Campisi, solidify her love for eventing and make her dreams come true.

Adalena received Belmont for her 10th birthday. She had been searching with her trainer, Lauren Lutcavage, out of Bit’O’Woods Farm in New Jersey, to find a small horse to move up to from the wonderful pony Adalena had started her eventing career with. After months of just not finding the right one, Lauren’s best friend, Jill Henneberg, told her she had the perfect horse. There were just two catches: he was all the way down in Georgia, and she had to convince his owner to sell him! Time for a road trip!

It was a perfect match, and fortunately, Jill can be very convincing, so an agreement was made and Belmont found himself on a trailer up to New Jersey. Adalena was smitten with her new horse and they spent their first winter getting to know each other. Belmont had a wealth of knowledge to give to this little girl just starting out in the eventing world. The next spring he helped Adalena overcome nerves at their first event to pull out a win! He continued to give Adalena the confidence she needed to become a solid Beginner Novice rider that season, culminating with a strong showing at Area II Championships that fall.

The pair continued to work hard to improve over the winter. They set their sights on moving up to Novice the next season with dreams of going back to Area II Championships and maybe even qualifying for the USEA American Eventing Championship. They started the season strong with qualifying scores, but after only one start at Novice, Belmont sustained a small injury, taking him out of commission for most of the summer and dashing hopes for the trip to the AEC.

A few weeks back into work Belmont again came up lame, this time with a suspensory injury. Focus shifted from championship events to Belmont’s recovery. While disappointed with the loss of the rest of the season, Adalena was determined to do everything in her power to make sure her best friend made a full recovery. Easier said than done as the then 18-year-old Belmont never really acted his age. His Coggins may show a 2004 birthday, but sometimes Belmont thought he was no older than five! Being on stall rest did not help. Through the winter Adalena dealt with the spooks, the bolts, and all the silliness and showed up every day to make sure her buddy got better. At only 12 years old, Adalena was getting a full education on the challenging process of rehabbing horses.

Through Belmont’s rehab, Adalena had a major growth spurt. Lauren started having Adalena ride larger horses that fit her long legs. She was finding success with those horses and proved she was ready for more. It was decided that once Belmont was back in full work, we would find him his next kid to teach and Adalena would find the next horse to continue her journey up the levels. Though saddened at the thought of parting with her first horse, Adalena was excited to find a new partner to learn how to “jump the big jumps” with.

She and Belmont had a fun spring getting back into shape at local dressage and jumper shows, but as the time to part with her buddy came closer, Adalena realized she couldn’t do it. She had grown closer than ever to Belmont during the rehab process. He meant the world to her, and she wasn’t ready to move on. Wise beyond her years, Adalena decided that she had plenty of time in the future to move up the levels and didn’t care if she looked a little tall on her 15.2-hand horse. She wanted to spend one last season riding and competing with her best friend.

Given his age and recent injury, it was decided not to push Belmont past Beginner Novice, so Adalena decided to work to be the best Beginner Novice rider she could be! With new goals in mind, Adalena and Belmont trained even harder with Lauren to improve on their scores from last spring and started their 2023 Beginner Novice campaign with a win. The duo has come back stronger than ever after last year's disappointments! Adalena and Belmont have won two of their four starts this season and have not finished lower than third place in the others. Adalena’s dream of competing Belmont at the AEC has been restored, and she can’t wait to have the best week ever with the best little horse a girl could ask for!

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.

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Check in with the Team Challenge Champions of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League

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