In its first year, the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) had five qualifiers and the championships were held at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Sixteen years later, the YEH program now has over 30 YEH competitions across the country, prestigious championships on both the East and West Coasts, and the opportunity to receive the Holekamp/Turner Lion d’Angers Grant. This well-established program has seen many horses go through its doors, but more importantly, there are several horses that have fulfilled the program’s mission in becoming a successful upper level event horse. The 2004 YEH graduate horses that went on to reach the highest levels of eventing include Gaspar II, Orion XII, Maldini, Cruise Lion, Loose ‘N Cool, Pepperbox, and Queen Bee.
The very first USEA YEH 5-year-old champion was Gaspar II (Gigolo x Schatzeli), a 1999 German Warmblood gelding bred by Iannenfels Stables and owned by Greg Luce. Gaspar II and rider Darren Chiacchia scored an 81 percent to win the 2004 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship held at Morven Park.
The German Warmblood gelding started his eventing career with the YEH program and continued to climb up the ranks of eventing, as both Darren Chiacchia and Michael Pollard successfully competed him at the Advanced/CCI4*-S level. In 2006, with Chiacchia as the rider, Gaspar II finished fourth in the CCI4*-S at The Fork H.T., fifth in the Advanced at Richland Park, and third in the CCI4*-S at the Wits End H.T. In 2008, Michael Pollard acquired the ride, and they finished fourth in the CCI3*-S at Red Hills International, second in the CCI3*-S at Poplar Place Farm, second in the Intermediate at River Glen, and won the Advanced at Five Points. Gaspar II’s last event was in 2008 where he finished eighth in the CCI4*-S at Poplar Place Farm with Pollard.
Finishing third in the 2004 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship was Orion XII, the 1999 Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Craig Thompson. One year later, Orion XII finished fourth in his first Intermediate horse trials as a 6-year-old at the Morven Park Spring H.T. The Thoroughbred gelding went on to compete at the upper levels for over seven years with four different riders. He took two riders, Emily Dufort and Claire Kelley, to their first Intermediate and competed at the Advanced level with Thompson and Kelley. With Thompson as the rider, Orion XII won the CCI2*-S Virginia Three-Day Event in 2005 and finished fifth in the Advanced at The Fork H.T. in 2006. In 2007, he finished second in the Intermediate at the Pine Top Winter II H.T., third in the Advanced at the Pine Top Spring Advanced H.T., third in the Advanced at the Plantation Field H.T., and fifth in the CCI4-S* at The Fork H.T. In 2010, Bridgette Kuchta and Orion XII finished second in the Preliminary divisions at the Groton House Farm H.T. and King Oak Farm H.T.
In 2011, with Dufort as the rider, he finished fifth in the Intermediate at Red Hills and fourth in the Intermediate at Poplar Place. Later that year, with Kelley as the rider, Orion XII finished second in the Intermediate at Millbrook and third in the Intermediate at the Kentucky Classique H.T. In 2012, he finished fifth in the Intermediate at Fair Hill International, third in the Intermediate at the Maryland H.T., and second in the Intermediate at the Virginia H.T. At the Intermediate or Advanced level, Orion XII finished within the top five over 24 times. His last event was in 2013 where he finished sixth in the Intermediate at the Pine Top Spring H.T.
The 1999 Irish Sport Horse gelding Cruise Lion (Cruising x Cara Lion), owned and ridden by Bruce Davidson Sr., accumulated 89 points over the five YEH qualifiers that were offered in 2004. One year later, the Irish Sport Horse gelding finished fourth at his first Intermediate level horse trials at Fair Hill International. Davidson and Cruise Lion competed at the upper levels from 2005 to 2012. They finished second in the CCI3* at the Ocala Fall International in 2007. In 2008, they won the Intermediate at Surefire, finished second in the Advanced at Maui Jim, and finished fifth in the CCI4*-S at the Plantation Field H.T. In 2010, Davidson and Cruise Lion finished third in the Advanced at Plantation Field and tenth in the CCI4*-L at Fair Hill International. In 2009, Cruise Lion and Davidson competed in the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L and jumped clear on cross-country to finish within the top 20.
As an upper level event horse, Cruise Lion finished within the top five at the Intermediate/CCI3* or Advanced/CCI4* level over 15 times. Cruise Lion’s last event was in 2012 in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse.
Another 2004 YEH graduate horse is Loose ‘N Cool, a 1999 Australian Stock Horse gelding ridden by Evie Dutton, Phillip Dutton, and Corinne Frankel. Evie competed Loose ‘N Cool as a 5- and 6-year-old at the Training and Preliminary level. From 2005 to 2008, Phillip competed Loose ‘N Cool, and finished within the top three at the Intermediate/CCI3* level and Advanced/CCI4* level 16 times.
In 2007, Phillip and Loose ‘N Cool finished second in the Intermediate at the Plantation Field H.T., Fair Hill H.T., Seneca Valley H.T., and the CCI2* at the Bromont Three-Day Event. In the same year, they also won the Intermediate at the Virginia H.T. and the CCI3*-S at the Southern Pines H.T. In 2008, Phillip and Loose ‘N Cool won the Intermediate at Full Gallop and Fair Hill and the Advanced at Morven Park. They also finished third in the CCI4*-S at Plantation Field H.T.
Loose ‘N Cool completed his last event in 2012 with rider and now owner, Corinne T. Frankel. They won the Preliminary Rider at the Waredaca Farm H.T.
Maldini (Harlequine du Carel x Ballybeg Miracle), a 1999 Selle Francais gelding, owned and ridden by Liza Horan placed fifth in the 2004 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championships. Several years later, they successfully competed up to the Intermediate level. At the Preliminary and Intermediate level, Maldini and Horan jumped clear on cross-country at every event they completed.
The 1999 Thoroughbred gelding Pepperbox was successful in multiple 2004 YEH qualifiers and went on to compete up to the Intermediate/CCI3* level with rider Patrick Wilcher. Wilcher and Pepperbox jumped clear on cross-country at every Intermediate level event they completed.
Queen Bee (Lion King x Honey) a 1999 Irish Sport Horse mare, was also successful in several 2004 YEH qualifiers and went on to compete up to the Intermediate/CCI3* level with two riders, Bonnie Mosser and Marley Stone Bourke.
Several other 2004 YEH graduates who successfully competed up to the Preliminary/CCI2* level include Cyrillic, a 1999 Bulgarian Sport Horse gelding owned and ridden by Charlotte Merle-Smith, and Tom’s Pick (Piccolino x Top Tea), a 1999 Thoroughbred gelding owned and ridden by Jessica Duffy. Cyrillic was very competitive throughout his career and finished within the top three over 20 times. His last event was in 2007 where he finished second in the CCI* at Morven Park with rider Charlotte Merle-Smith.
Tom’s Pick competed successfully at the CCI2* level with two riders, Pam Wiedemann and Jessica Duffy. Last year, at 20 years old, the Thoroughbred gelding continued to compete at the Novice and Training level with rider Deborah Doneen. The pair recently won the Senior Novice Rider division at Galway Downs.
Congratulations to all the YEH graduates, and stay tuned for the next class – the class of 2005! To look back at previous YEH Yearbooks, click here.
About the USEA Young Event Horse Program
The USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
US Equestrian is pleased to announce the dates and location for the 2022 USEF Young Rider Eventing Championship. This championship will take place at the Tryon International Three-Day Event November 10-13 in Mill Spring, N.C.
Sidnee Milner and My Valentine did not become partners out of sheer coincidence. The pony and rider combination that took home the 2021 SmartPak USEA Pony of the Year award were a product of the thoughtfulness and generosity of family friend and trainer Tawn Edwards. Milner was, at the time, a young and inexperienced child rider looking for a partner to teach her the ropes of eventing; My Valentine was a well-seasoned eventing pony who knew the job of advancing young riders well and was looking for her next partner. Over their three-year relationship, the duo have accumulated various ribbons and accolades together with 2021 being the most impressive of their seasons thus far.
Updated January 18, 2022: The 2023 Eventing Calendar webinar, originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. EST, has been postponed and will be rescheduled with an additional commmunication in the coming weeks.