It was a year of firsts for the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) in 2009. It was the first time the USEA YEH East Coast Championships were held at Fair Hill International and it was the first time the West Coast hosted their own USEA YEH Championships at Galway Downs International. As the program blossomed, so did the horses. Over 15 horses who competed in a 2009 YEH 5-year-old division went on to be upper level event horses, some of whom are still competing today.
Now, the YEH program has YEH competitions across the country, The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse Championships take place on both the East and West Coasts, and there is 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 to become a successful upper level event horse. The 2009 YEH 5-year-old graduate horses who went on to reach the highest levels of eventing include Breakthrough, Master Frisky, Muggle, Miss Carlisle, Project Runway, High Times, Houdini, Zara, Florenz, Satin Art, Defensive Player, Joint Venture, Jaunty Star, Smarty Pants, and Taboo.
Three out of the top six in the 2009 USEA YEH East Coast Championships went on to compete in the Intermediate and Advanced levels including the Overall Champion, Breakthrough, who finished on a score of 80.22 at the YEH East Coast Championships. The 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding is sired by Heartbreaker, owned by Kathleen and Patrick Flynn, and ridden by Matt Flynn. After winning the YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship in 2009, the next year Flynn and Breakthrough moved up to the Preliminary level where they placed second in the Preliminary at the Seneca Valley Pony Club Horse Trials and fifth in the Preliminary Horse division at the 2010 Land Rover USEA American Eventing Championships. In 2011, the pair ran a successful season at the Intermediate/CCI3* level and finished in the top 10 at the CIC2* (now CCI3*-S) at Fair Hill International and at the CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event. They also won the Intermediate division at Waredaca that same year. Retiring from the upper levels in 2012, Barbara Werther took Breakthrough to his last event in 2016 where they finished third in the Beginner Novice Rider division at the Marlborough Horse Trials.
Finishing on a score of 79.16 to take third place at the 2009 YEH East Coast Championships was Stephen Blauner’s Irish Sport Horse gelding Master Frisky (Master Imp x Frisky Legs), who was first ridden by Kurt Martin. Master Frisky started his eventing career off with a bang and in his first six events, he finished in the top three every time. One year after the YEH Championships, Kurt successfully piloted the 6-year-old gelding up through the Intermediate level. His Intermediate level debut was in 2010 at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm where he jumped clear in both cross-country and show jumping to finish sixth. His first Intermediate level horse trials was a success and an accurate predictor of what was to come.
In 2012, Boyd Martin acquired the ride and from 2012 to 2016, Boyd and Master Frisky successfully ran at the Advanced level. In 2014, the pair finished second in the CIC3* (now CCI4*-L) at Fair Hill International, and in 2015, the pair also finished second at the CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) at Carolina International. That same year, Master Frisky made his four-star (now five-star) debut at the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4* (now CCI5*-L) and finished seventh. With both Kurt and Boyd, Master Frisky jumped clear on cross-country every time.
In 2016, the reins were passed onto Emma Lomangino and Master Frisky has had similar success at the upper levels and is still out competing today. The pair finished fourth in the CCI3*-L at Bromont and finished within the top 15 in the CCI4*-L at Fair Hill International in 2019.
Finishing right behind Master Frisky with a score of 78.83 at the 2009 USEA YEH East Coast Championships was Muggle (Obadiah x Isn’t She Nice), a Warmblood gelding owned by The Phoenix Syndicate and Kim Hardesty. Muggle was first ridden by Ryan Wood at the 2009 YEH Championships and then Boyd Martin competed him up to the Preliminary level. In 2013, Nilson Moreira Da Silva acquired the ride and in that same year Muggle made his Intermediate level debut, finishing second at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm. The following year, Da Silva and Muggle moved up to the Advanced level and finished second in the CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) at Chattahoochee Hills. From 2014 to 2019, Da Silva and Muggle successfully competed at the Advanced/CCI4* level. Now retired from the upper levels, the 16-year-old gelding currently competes at the Training level with Sophia Hardesty.
Another top finisher at the 2009 USEA YEH East Coast Championships was Miss Carlisle (Wall Street Blues x Fettucina), a Hanoverian mare ridden and owned by K.C. Cowles, who finished seventh with a score of 75.49. Miss Carlisle was very active in YEH as she competed in a total of five YEH competitions (four YEH 5-year-old competitions in 2009 and one YEH 4-year-old competition in 2008). After graduating from YEH, Cowles and Miss Carlisle successfully competed up to the Intermediate level.
The very first USEA YEH West Coast Championships was in 2009 and two top horses from the 5-year-old Championship graduated on to become upper level event horses. The YEH West Coast 5-year-old Reserve Champion, who finished on a score of 81, was Project Runway (Windfall x Polarschecke), a Trakehner gelding ridden and owned by Maxance McManamy and bred by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp. Project Runway was also very active in the program as he competed in a total of six YEH competitions (four YEH 5-year-old competitions in 2009 and two YEH 4-year-old competitions in 2008) – and he finished in the top three five out of the six times. After graduating from the program, Project Runway and McManamy were very competitive at every level of the sport up through the Advanced level. The pair finished in the top three 21 times which included a win in the CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) at Twin Rivers and third place in the CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) at Galway Downs International in 2011. Project Runway’s last event was in 2016 where he and McManamy finished fourth in the Preliminary division at The Event at Woodside.
Finishing third with a score of 80 percent at the YEH West Coast 5-year-old Championship was Jennifer McFall’s Holsteiner gelding, High Times (Hunter x Gerda I). Three years later and a couple of seasons at the Preliminary level under his belt, High Times made his Intermediate level debut with McFall. The pair moved up to the Advanced level in 2014 and that same year High Times made his four-star (now five-star) debut at the 2014 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4* (now CCI5*-L). The pair would return to the four-star level two more times to make a total of three trips to the Kentucky Three-Day Event (2014, 2017, and 2018). In 2019, the reins were passed on to McFall’s daughter, Taylor, and they now successfully compete at the Intermediate level. Their most recent completion was this year at Twin Rivers International where they finished fifth in the Intermediate.
The Thoroughbred gelding Houdini (Hot Rock x Nancy’s Star), owned by Stephen Steinhoff and ridden by Katie Ruppel, first started his eventing career as a 4-year-old at Waredaca’s YEH competition in 2008. One year later, in 2009, he competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at Waredaca. After graduating from YEH, he went on to be a competitive Advanced/CCI4* horse with Ruppel as well as Clayton Fredricks. Ruppel and Houdini competed at the four-star (now five-star) level five different times – at the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 and at Les Étoiles de Pau in 2015. From 2010 to 2018, Houdini finished in the top five at an Intermediate/CCI3* or Advanced/CCI4* level event over 21 times. His last completion was in 2018 where he and Ruppel finished fourth in the Intermediate at the Ocala Winter Horse Trials.
Another Advanced level YEH graduate is Zara (Scimitar x Queen Liz) a Thoroughbred cross mare bred by Steuart Pittman, currently owned by Tracey Tucker and ridden by Lauren Tucker. Pittman first started Zara's eventing career in 2009 and competed in two YEH 5-year-old competitions. Later in 2009, Tracey Bienemann acquired the ride and three years later, in 2012, Zara made her Advanced level debut. For two years, Bienemann and Zara successfully competed at the Advanced/CCI4* level. In 2017, Carrie Mulks started to compete Zara and also earned many completions at the Intermediate level. Now, Zara is ridden by Lauren Tucker and competing at the Modified level.
Florenz (Florencio I x WATIDA), an Oldenburg mare owned by Anne-Marie Rasch and ridden by Robin Walker, first started her eventing career at the YEH competition at Richland Park. She went on to compete up to the Intermediate level with Walker and she won at almost every level. Over the course of her eventing career, she finished either first or second 19 times. Her last event was in 2012 at the same venue where she started her eventing career, Richland Park, where she and Walker won the Preliminary division on a score of 26.10.
Several YEH graduates who also competed in YEH 5-year-old competitions in 2009 and went on to successfully compete at the Intermediate level included Satin Art (Indian Art x Epic Satin), a Warmblood stallion ridden, owned, and bred by Susan Moessner; Defensive Player (Defensive Play x Valentine Serenade), a Thoroughbred gelding ridden and owned by Sarah Haff; Jaunty Star (Alice’s Diamond Slipper x Kitty O’Sullivan), an Irish Draught stallion ridden by Rebecca Lee; and Joint Venture (Forsyth x Baden-Baden I), a Hessen gelding currently owned and ridden by Heather Strawbridge.
Finishing third in the YEH 5-year-old division at Jersey Fresh in 2009 was the now Advanced/CCI4*-L level Canadian Thoroughbred gelding, Smarty Pants (Whiskey Wisdom x Slick Prospector), ridden and owned by Kelly List. List and Smarty Pants completed every Advanced level event they entered in including the CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) at Bromont in 2012 and the CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) at Fair Hill International in 2013.
Rounding out the last of YEH 5-year-old graduates who competed at the Advanced/CCI4* level is Taboo (Alymagic x Ulana P Prociuk) a Thoroughbred mare owned and ridden by Jennifer Kelly. The West Coast graduate competed in two YEH competitions (the YEH 4-year-old division at Twin Rivers in 2008 and the YEH 5-year-old division at Galway Downs in 2009). After graduating from YEH, Kelly and Taboo made their Intermediate level debut in 2011. From 2011 to 2015, Kelly and Taboo successfully competed at the Intermediate and Advanced level. Both Taboo and Project Runway were also on the short list to represent the U.S. at the 2011 Pan American Games. Taboo and Kelly's most recent event was this year at the Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials in the Preliminary division.
Congratulations to all the YEH graduates and stay tuned for the next class – the class of 2010! 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, 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.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.