In 2006, the third year of the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH), there were 18 qualifiers on the YEH calendar and 20 horses that competed in the championships held at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Now, 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 Breeding Eventing 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 2006 YEH 5-year-old graduate horses that went on to reach the highest levels of eventing include Pikadilly, Abecca GS, Text, Grace Kelley, Sam I Am, Wade and Tay, Moneymaker, Poker Run, and Walkabout.
Pikadilly, the 2001 Hanoverian gelding owned by Ann Banks first started his eventing career through the YEH program. In 2006, he was ridden by Dorothy Crowell and placed second in the YEH 5-year-old division at MCTA, first in the YEH 5-year-old division at River Glen, and sixth at the 2006 USEA YEH Championships at Morven Park. Two years later, in 2008, he moved up to the Intermediate level. After two seasons at the Intermediate level with Crowell, Michelle Romero acquired the ride. Pikadilly took Romero up the levels of eventing from Novice to the Intermediate level. His last event was at Ocala Horse Trials in 2011 where he placed third in the Intermediate Rider division with Romero.
The 2001 Trakehner mare bred by Gerhard Schickedanz and owned by Lance McCue, Abecca GS (Hilton GS x Amourette GS) proved to be a highly competitive event horse from the start. As a 5-year-old, she placed third in the YEH competition at Richland Park in 2006. As a 6-year-old, the Trakehner mare was successfully running Preliminary level with rider Cristin Stoop and had already collected 10 top-three finishes. In 2007, Justine Dutton acquired the ride and from 2007 to 2012, Dutton and Abecca GS racked up top finishes at the Intermediate/CCI3* level. In 2012, the pair won the Intermediate Rider division at Rocking Horse H.T., finished fourth in the Open Intermediate at Fair Hill, third in the CCI3*-S at Virginia, second in the Open Intermediate at Seneca, and fifth in the Intermediate at the USEA American Eventing Championships.
Morgan McCue took over the ride in 2012 and found similar success earning top placings at the Intermediate/CCI3* level. McCue and Abecca GS won the Intermediate in 2014 at Pine Top and Carolina. In 2015, Sarah Cousins piloted Abecca GS around her first Advanced level horse trial at The Fork H.T. Cousins and Abecca GS went on to win the Advanced at MCTA H.T. and finish sixth in the Advanced at Fair Hill H.T.
Abecca GS took three different riders up to the Intermediate level and two riders up to the Advanced level (Cousins and McCue). She finished in the top three with every rider she had (a total of seven riders) and has earned 48 top-three finishes. Her most recent finish was in 2019 at Surefire H.T. where she finished fourth in the Junior Training division with rider Nell Nicastro.
Text, the 2001 New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jennifer Williams Southworth, made his eventing debut with a second-place finish in the YEH 5-year-old division at Rocking Horse. Three years later, Text completed his first Intermediate level event at the Ocala Winter H.T. with rider Eric Dierks. From 2009 to 2011, Dierks and Text successfully competed at the Intermediate/CCI3* level. After 2011, he took Mikaela Kantoworski to her first Training level event and the pair went on to win the Training at Maryland and finish third in the Training at Five Points. The last event he completed resulted in a win – Jennifer Williams and Text won the Beginner Novice Rider division at the May-Daze at the Park H.T. in 2014.
Grace Kelley (formerly known as Grace Kelly) is a 2001 Dutch Warmblood mare sired by Voltair and owned by Kathryn Yozamp. The Dutch Warmblood mare won the YEH 5-year-old division at the Lincoln Creek H.T. with an impressive score of 84.06 in 2006. Karen O’Neal rode her up to the Preliminary level and in 2009, Yozamp took over the ride. The pair successfully competed up to the Intermediate level with top finishes, including a second-place finish in 2011 in the Intermediate at the Northwest Equestrian Fall Gala H.T.
The 2001 Thoroughbred gelding Sam I Am (Carsh x Midnight Kahn), owned by Rebecca Braitling, was introduced to eventing in 2006. He competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at the Maui Jim H.T. with rider Madison Foote. Foote brought him up the levels of eventing from Beginner Novice through the Intermediate/CCI3* level. In 2008, Sam I Am completed his first Intermediate level event where he finished fourth in the Open Intermediate at Plantation Field. In 2010, Foote and Sam I Am finished third in the Intermediate at the Otter Creek Spring H.T. and fifth in the Intermediate at the Otter Creek Fall H.T. In 2013, Braitling took the ride and in 2013, Braitling rode Sam I Am at his first Advanced level horse trial at Copper Meadows. From 2013 to 2014, Braitling and Sam I Am successfully competed at the Advanced/CCI4* level. This pair never had a cross-country jump penalty in their partnership together.
Wade and Tay (Majestys Imp x Pushy Princess), the 2001 Thoroughbred gelding owned and ridden by Kimberly Keeton, made his eventing debut at River Glen’s YEH competition where he finished third. From 2006 to 2013, Kimberly Keeton was Wade and Tay's sole rider and successfully brought him up to the Intermediate level, finishing second in the Intermediate at Chattahoochee Hills in 2009. The last event the pair completed, they won – the Preliminary Rider division at Southern Pines in 2013.
Moneymaker (Monte Carlo x French Step), a 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Nina Ligon, won her first eventing competition - the YEH 5-year-old division at the Maui Jim H.T. Ridden by Kelli Temple, Moneymaker (who is now known as Chai Thai) finished in the top three at her first four events. In 2007, Nina Ligon started to compete Chai Thai and had many years of top placings and competed up to the Intermediate level. From 2006 to 2011, Chai Thai earned 34 top-three placings including 20 wins.
Another 2006 YEH graduate who competed in the YEH competition at Maui Jim was Poker Run (Zagor x Platonic Interest), a 2001 Thoroughbred gelding owned by Hendley Welch. Poker Run finished fourth in the YEH 5-year-old division at Maui Jim and second in the YEH 5-year-old division at Richland Park. From 2005 to 2016, Poker Run was ridden by Jamie Price and brought up the levels of eventing, from Beginner Novice to the Intermediate/CCI3* level. Together they completed nine Intermediate level events and jumped clear on cross-country every time. After Price, Hendley Welch acquired the ride on Poker Run, and his last event was in 2017 at Tryon Hunt Club where he finished on his dressage score of 38.9 in the Novice Rider division.
The YEH competition held at Maui Jim Horse trials had 14 entries and four of those horses fulfilled the YEH program’s mission in reaching the highest levels of eventing. Competing alongside Moneymaker, Poker Run, and Text, Walkabout (Private Terms x Lisa’s Type) was one of those four horses. The 2001 Thoroughbred gelding owned by Lynne Bauer competed up to the CCI4* level with rider Jennie Brannigan. As a 5-year-old, Amanda Hund competed Walkabout through the Training level and in 2010, Brannigan acquired the ride. At the Advanced level, Brannigan and Walkabout finished second at Fair Hill and fifth at MCTA. In 2012, they completed the CCI4*-S at Plantation Field and the CCI4*-S at Richland Park. One year later, Bauer started to compete Walkabout in 2013 and their last event together was in 2014 in the Training at Virginia Horse Trials.
Congratulations to all the YEH graduates and stay tuned for the next class – the class of 2007!
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.
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