In 2005, the second year of the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH), there were a total of 258 starters at YEH competitions and over 30 horses competed in the championships held at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Fifteen years later, the YEH program has YEH competitions across the country, The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse Championships on both the East and West Coasts, and the opportunity to receive the Holekamp/Turner Lion d’Angers Grant, where the recipient wins a cash prize up to $17,500 to travel to the FEI World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers in France. In addition, The Dutta Corp. will donate a roundtrip flight to the grant recipient.
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 2005 YEH 5-year-old graduate horses that went on to reach the highest levels of eventing include Jireh, Diamonds and Pearls, Risk Taker, McClintock, Special Blend, Tickle Me, Russian Roulette, R. Hocus Pocus, Slewacharms, Carlingford Master Brew, and Ballylaffin Bracken.
Ballylaffin Bracken (Ricardo Z x Ballylaffin Florence) is a 2000 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Kristin Schmolze and Janet Geiler. The 20-year-old gelding first started his U.S. eventing career in 2005 with the YEH program. He won the YEH 5-year-old division at Waredaca with a score of 84 percent and finished second with a score of 86 percent in the YEH 5-year-old division at Millbrook. Later that year, he placed sixth at the 2005 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championships at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Once he graduated from the program, he went on to successfully compete at the upper levels of eventing for 12 years with his rider, Kristin Schmolze.
His first international event was as a 7-year-old at the 2007 Poplar Place Farm CCI2*-S where he placed second and as an 8-year-old he moved up to the Intermediate level. His first trip to the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L was in 2013. He competed at Kentucky in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017, and he jumped clear on cross-country all four times.
The Irish Sport Horse gelding collected a total of 33 top-five finishes, and his last event was in 2017 at the Ocala Jockey Club CCI4*-S where he finished within the top 15.
Carlingford Master Brew (Ballinvella x Caval Clover), a 2000 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Denise Rath, Francis Rath, and Grey Fox Farm, competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at Surefire Farm in 2005. He went on to successfully compete up to the Intermediate level and finished within the top 10 in the Intermediate at the Poplar Place Farm March H.T. in 2007.
The 2000 Thoroughbred mare Slewacharms (Jokester x Melonie’s Charms), owned by Karen Conk, competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at CDCTA with rider Rebecca Howard. The Thoroughbred mare competed up to the Intermediate level with Rebecca Howard and finished seventh in the Intermediate at the Pine Top Winter H.T. and fourth in the Intermediate at The Fork H.T. in 2007. Several years later, Slewacharms competed again at the Intermediate/CCI3* level with Karen Conk in 2012 and 2013.
The 2000 American Warmblood gelding R. Hocus Pocus (Regulus x Barts Top Lady), owned and ridden by Beth Weisberger, scored a 79.5 to finish second in the Gemwood YEH 5-year-old division in 2005. After the gelding graduated from the YEH program, R. Hocus Pocus continued to have a competitive career with Beth Weisberger and competed up to the Intermediate level with Cathy Wieschhoff in 2009. R. Hocus Pocus and Weisberger were the Preliminary Amateur Reserve Champions in 2010 at the USEA American Eventing Champions and the Training Amateur Champions in 2013 at the USEA American Eventing Championships. Since 2005, R. Hocus Pocus and Weisberger have collected over 15 wins. The gelding’s last event was in 2018 where he finished third with rider Bristen Wells in the Open Beginner Novice at Stone Gate Farm H.T.
Susan Runco’s 2000 Australian Thoroughbred gelding Russian Roulette competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at CDCTA and Surefire Farm in 2005. Four years later, Russian Roulette competed in his first international event, the CCI2*-L at Bromont with rider Sharon White. Later that year, he finished second at his first Intermediate level event at the 2009 Morven Park H.T. He finished within the top five at seven out of the nine Intermediate level events he competed at, including a fourth-place finish at the CCI3*-S at Fair Hill International in 2010.
Out of all the YEH competitions in 2005, Surefire Farm saw the most, with 33 entries. One of those entries was Tickle Me (Cavalier Royale x Salome), a 2000 Irish Sport Horse Mare owned by Christine and Jane Sleeper. After 2005, Tickle Me competed up to the Intermediate level with Phillip Dutton and finished second in the Intermediate at Waredaca H.T. in 2009.
The first YEH competition on the 2005 YEH calendar was Jersey Fresh on May 12-15 and three horses that finished in the top five in the 5-year-old division went on to compete at the Intermediate and/or Advanced level. Finishing fifth with a score of 76 percent was Special Blend (Northern Idol x Seppie), a 2000 Thoroughbred gelding owned and ridden by Casey McKissock. After graduating from the YEH program in 2005, McKissock and Special Blend moved up to the Preliminary level in 2006. The following year they successfully moved up to the Intermediate level, and their first Advanced level event was in 2009 at the Maui Jim H.T. From 2009 to 2011 they successfully competed at the Advanced/CCI4* level. Special Blend’s last event was in 2011 in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills International H.T. where he finished just outside the top 15.
Finishing third in the 5-year-old division at the Jersey Fresh was the 2000 Thoroughbred gelding, McClintock ridden by Dorothy Crowell. Now known by the name of Calvin Hobbes, he’s owned by Gabrielle Clements and has competed up to the Intermediate/CCI3* level with rider Amanda Barnes.
The winner of the YEH 5-year-old division at Jersey Fresh with a score of 87 percent was Risk Taker (Fruition x Tahoma Cat) a 2000 Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Holly Payne. Payne successfully competed Risk Taker up to the Preliminary level, and in 2006, Phillip Dutton acquired the ride. In 2007, Dutton and Risk Taker won the Preliminary at the Full Gallop Farm H.T., Paradise Farm H.T., and Plantation Field H.T. That same year he also won the Intermediate at the Five Points H.T. In 2008, Dutton and Risk Taker won the Intermediate at the Pine Top H.T., finished fifth at the CCI3*-S at Red Hills International, second in the Intermediate at The Fork, and third at the CCI3*-L at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event.
Risk Taker completed his last event in 2008 with rider Sarah Kamensky in the Junior Training at the Poplar Place Farm H.T. During his event career, Risk Taker finished within the top three over 20 times.
After 2008, Risk Taker traded in upper level eventing for full-time dressage with his current owner, Susan Shelton. “I had never competed in a recognized dressage show before getting him, and together we [went] up the levels all the way to Grand Prix. He is an amazing horse! Incredibly quirky, but amazing,” emphasized Shelton.
The 2000 Thoroughbred mare Diamonds and Pearls (Icy Adonis x Jiwani’s Laser) owned, ridden, and bred by Sarah Berkowitz won the YEH 5-year-old division at Moon Rock in 2005 and competed in the 2005 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship. Three years later, the Thoroughbred mare won her first Intermediate level event at The Event at Rebecca Farm in 2008. The pair competed up and down the West Coast at the Intermediate/CCI3* level for five years, from 2008 to 2012.
Becky Roper’s 2000 Thoroughbred gelding Jireh (Same Day Delivery x Carr Town) started his eventing career with two wins in the YEH program. Jireh won the YEH 5-year-old division at Trinity River and Las Colinas Horse Trials. After graduating from the program, his competitive career continued up the levels of eventing. From Novice to the Advanced level, Jireh finished in the top five at least once at every level. He placed second in the Intermediate at Meadowcreek Park Fall H.T in 2008, fourth in the CCI3*-S at the Maui Jim H.T. in 2009, and third in the CCI3*-S at Chattahoochee Hills in 2010. In 2012, Roper and Jireh placed fourth in the CCI4*-S at Woodside International, and in 2013 they won the Intermediate at Texas Rose Horse Park and finished third in the Advanced/Intermediate at the Holly Hill Spring H.T. The last event the pair completed was in 2014 where they finished third in the Intermediate at the Holly Hill Spring H.T.
Congratulations to all the YEH graduates, and stay tuned for the next class – the class of 2006! To look back at previous YEH Yearbooks, click here.
The 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 aged four and five, 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.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Hay Company, Parker Equine Insurance, C4 Belts, and Etalon Diagnostics for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S at the Strzegom Horse Trials (Poland) from June 21-25, 2023. The team will be under the direction of USEF Eventing Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is excited to announce the launch of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) New Judge Education Program. Qualifying candidates, who are no longer required to hold a USEF judge’s license, will be encouraged to sign up to participate in the YEH New Judge Education Program to receive certification to judge the Jumping and Galloping phases of Young Event Horse competitions.
USEA podcast host Nicole Brown is joined by Dr. Barry Miller of the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab and Catherine Winter of Ride EquiSafe for an important, informative, and engaging discussion about helmet safety. For more than a decade, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has investigated helmets in football, cycling, equestrian sports, and more, collecting more than 2 million data points related to injury and biomechanics research.
If a horse doesn’t have a proven eventing record, those interested in finding their next eventing partner must use other criteria to evaluate a horse’s potential in the sport. Understanding and appraising a horse’s conformation can be a way to look into a crystal ball for that horse’s future suitability for eventing.