Jun 13, 2017

The USEA Classic Series is the Backbone of the Heart of the Carolinas

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
Holly Breaux thanks her BN3D winner, Wapz Hot Dan for a great ride. Eileen Diamond Photo.

For the Heart of the Carolinas, the Training Three-Day, Novice Three-Day and Beginner Novice Three-Day are just more divisions – they are the heart of the competition. Southern 8ths Farm in Chesterfield, S.C. is determined to keep the USEA Classic Series alive and thriving with their ace team of volunteers and officials.

Beginner Novice Three-Day

The Heart of the Carolinas is the only venue to host a Beginner Novice Three-Day (BN3D) division. While technically an eventing test, the division still counts towards USEA leaderboard points and American Eventing Championship qualifications as a normal recognized event.

Holly Breaux, a veterinarian from Georgia, and her 6-year-old Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding, Wapz Hot Dan, were the ultimate winners of the BN3D moving up from second after overnight leader, Georgia Ranson had a rail down with Brambleridge Capability Brown.

For Breaux it has been Appaloosas all the way in her riding career. As a kid she rode in the jumpers, but when she went to college Breaux brought her Appaloosa mare, Roany, and the barn she boarded at had two trainers – a hunter/jumper and an eventing coach. “I planned to take two lessons and see which trainer I preferred,” explained Breaux “I only got through the one lesson with the eventer before I was hooked! I showed up to my first cross-country lesson at Big Bear Farm in a tank top, no vest and no boots on my horse other than front splint boots. But we had a blast!”

After retiring Roany at the age of 22, Breaux purchased another Appaloosa (this time crossed with Thoroughbred), Flecken Awesome, who she evented from Novice through Preliminary. When Fleck started getting older, Breaux was ready for her next Appaloosa and bought Wapz Hot Dan. Danny was bred by Rugby Creek Sport Horses and is by the Appaloosa Stallion, Wapuzzan out of an Irish Sport Horse mare. “I pretty much bought Danny hours after he was born,” said Breaux. “I visited him at 10 days old and wrote them the check, and brought him home after weaning.”

With a few half-siblings already eventing at the upper levels, Breaux has high hopes for Danny.

“My goal with Danny is to get to the Preliminary Three-Day, as Fleck and I didn't quite make it. (I did the T3D in Kentucky with Fleck and has so much fun),” continued Breaux. “I just love everything about the long format . . . the fitness, the conditioning, getting to really know your horse and the sport, and of course, steeplechase. I had been looking forward to it for a very long time.”

As for the actual event, Breaux’s favorite part of the Heart of the Carolinas was the comradery. “There is so much help and team spirit between you and the horse, you and your fellow eventers and you and the organizers,” said Breaux. Eventers are such a happy, helpful group and we cheer each other on and help each other out. It's maybe a little more evident at the long format events. And the organizers and volunteers are so amazing! There is a tremendous educational aspect that you just don't get in a regular horse trial and it really felt like they were all out to help us all be the best we could be.”

Lawlor Brown and Ulysses, winners of the N3D. Eileen Diamond Photo.

Novice Three-Day

Lawlor Brown laid down a 24.70 in the first phase of the Novice Three-Day (N3D) riding his 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Ulysses (Wild Desert x Spotted Trick), and from there he didn’t relinquish the top spot of the largest of the three-day divisions – winning on his dressage score.

Originally from London, Ontario, Brown is a retired high school teacher who didn’t start riding until he was 34, but a background in rowing gave him the fitness to make the switch later in life than most. “I got into eventing when my former partner and I were buying horses and turning them into hunters for resale,” explained Lawlor. “We picked up an OTTB and when I hacked him by himself he was really bold. My partner suggested that he might make a good eventer. I took him over to a farm owned by a friend of hers for the winter and trained him to event. We did 62 events together up to and including Preliminary. I never wanted to go back to the hunter/ jumper world.”

Brown started riding with Heidi White 13 years ago and when he retired full time to Aiken, S.C. he began to work for her and even competed her four-star partner, Northern Spy. “Her clients have wonderful horses and I have jogged and flatted horses for her for the past four winters,” said Brown. “She has helped me to become a much better rider.”

“Ulysses’ story is sad with a happy ending,” explained Brown of his winning ride. “My best friend since I was 8-years-old, Jamie Lowe, died of cancer two years ago. He left me a small amount of money. I was looking for a new project horse, or as Heidi and I say, ‘the One.’ My wife, Denise Norton, (who completed the T3D on her mare!) found some horses for us to look at and there was one OTTB I found who was a little nutty, but had something about him I really liked so we took a chance. The name Ulysses is after Jamie's boat we had so much fun on as teenagers. We waterskied, flew on kites, took trips, and did so many fun things on Ulysses. It seemed the best way to honor my friend and thank him for a great horse!

The Heart of the Carolinas wasn’t Brown’s first trip around a long format event and he even helped organize a Training Three-Day alongside Andrew Pocock at his Belvoir Farm in Ontario. “I think the long format appeals to my organizational side,” said Brown. “It requires such a high degree of fitness and planning, something I was used to in the sport of rowing. I think every eventer should try to do at least one during their career. It is a real test of horse and horsemanship. As well the steeplechase is two minutes of pure adrenaline!”

At the N3D Brown enjoyed “the support among competitors and the effort on the part of the organizers to make sure we had everything we needed made it a great competition! I had great help in the ten minute box between Carol Kozlowski and Mellisa Ward from Aiken. They took such good care of Ulysses and me. It was so nice to have a veteran of the three-day format telling me to sit down and relax before cross-country!”

Huxley Greer and Marked Ruler, winners of the T3D. Eileen Diamond Photo.

Training Three-Day

Huxley Greer made her trip from Wirtz, Va. well worth it as she not only won the Training Three-Day (T3D), but also was a close second in the Novice Three-Day. Unlike many young riders today, Greer had the opportunity to compete in an FEI long format event when she competed at the Morven Park CCI* when she was just 17-years-old aboard her Young Rider horse, Octavian.

Greer grew up in a ‘horsey’ family – her mom was a dressage rider who had evented and ridden in the jumpers as a child – which gave Greer a head start in the eventing world as she did her first Novice when she was only 11. “I first knew I wanted to event for sure when I watched a video of the 2000 Olympics on my 10th birthday,” said Greer. “When I outgrew my pony, I started riding a horse that I had grown up with – a Thoroughbred/Clydesdale cross gelding that was blind in his left eye. We moved up the levels together and went to NAJYRC together at the one star level in 2009. Octavian retired in 2011 and I started working on bringing young, green OTTBs up the levels. Along the way, I also started competing in pure dressage and have competed through fourth level on another one of my horses, Vesuvian, who was second in the N3D!”

Riding her own Marked Ruler (Make your Mark x Go Queenie Go), Greer had a wire-to-wire win in the T3D finishing on her dressage score of 30.90. Known in the barn as Marcus, the 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding came off the track and ended up in a few different places before coming into Greer’s life. “I first met [Marcus] when I went out to teach a lesson to a new student,” explained Greer. “She ended up becoming a good friend and I watched Marcus begin to grow and mature – she took him to his first Novice event at which point I leased him for 6 months and then bought him in the fall of 2015. We moved up to Training in the spring of 2016, and recently moved up to Preliminary this March. Marcus loves taking long naps which often involve him laying flat out in his stall or pasture. I feel incredibly lucky to have him as a partner – we've definitely struggled most with the show jumping phase, but have and continue to learn a lot from each other.”

As Greer said, Marcus had moved up to Preliminary in March, but after a few bobbles Greer decided a T3D run would give him more confidence. “Going out on roads and tracks and then into steeplechase, and finally cross-country is just so different than a normal horse trial,” said Greer. “You spend so much more time with your horse and the way they feel going out of the start box for D is wonderful. Some of my best cross-country rounds have been with the long format. It never fails to amaze me how my horse – in a good way – feels so different going around a long format. Also, I've found that they do gain a ton of confidence from it and are braver and have a better gallop afterwards. You also get to a learn a ton about your horse's fitness in the months and weeks leading up to a long format, and that seems like such invaluable information to have!”

Greer rode Vesuvian, her second-placed N3D horse in the BN3D last year, so had experience with Heart of Carolinas before and knew what a great Classic Series event they put on. “I was super impressed at how much effort the staff and officials at Heart of the Carolinas put toward making sure everything was the absolute best it could be,” Greer said of the event this year. “A and C were fairly wet from rain, but as I was riding around, there were people out there trying to improve the footing. I was incredibly impressed. The facility is beautiful and they don't cut corners. Heart of the Carolinas also has excellent clinicians and it's a great learning opportunity in addition to a competition.”

Holly Breaux and Wapz Hot Dan on course. Eileen Diamond Photo.

View the final results here

Best Conditioned: Wapz Hot Dan, owned and ridden by Holly Breaux, DVM

Low Score Adult Rider: Holly Breaux, DVM riding Wapz Hot Dan

Best Turned Out
Beginner Novice Three-Day: Francesca Toms with Top Secret
Novice Three-Day: Sarah Wildasin with Totally Awesome Bosco
Training Three-Day: Brooke Kahl with Pabst Blue Ribbon

Caroline Eventing Challenge Winners
Beginner Novice: Georgia Ranson and Brambleridge Capability Brown
Novice: Sarah Wildasin and Totally Awesome Bosco
Training: Brooke Kahl and Pabst Blue Ribbon
Preliminary: Lisa Borgia and Laurelin

Jim Baker Horsemanship Award – Cindy Phillips

Thoroughbred Incentive Award
Training Three-Day
TIP: Huxley Greer and Marked Ruler
TIP Reserve: Mellissa Warden and Deadpool

Novice Three-Day
TIP: Lawlor Brown and Ulysses
TIP Reserve: Huxley Greer and Vesuvian

Beginner Novice Three-Day
TIP: Kathleen Neuhoff and Logan

About the USEA Classic Series

The thrill of the 'chase lives on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic long format three-day event!

Long-format events from the Beginner Novice to Preliminary levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. Educational activities are offered at the Classic Series Events. Check out the schedule below, and check here to see if you are qualified!

Thanks to our generous sponsors, the USEA Classic Series Event winners have the opportunity to compete for a variety of prizes including SmartPak engraved halters and leadshanks; the chance to win a year of SmartPaks; Point Two Air Jackets; online subscriptions to Eventing Training Online; USEA logowear; Fleeceworks saddle pads; and Stackhouse saddles!

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