Aug 17, 2023

The YEH Yearbook: Class of 2019

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA photos, Libby Law photo.

There were 40 young horses who contested the 2019 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old Championships between the East and West Coast Championships which were held in Elkton, Maryland, and Woodside, California, respectively. Following 2019’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2019 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have worked their way up through the rankings as they establish themselves as upper-level event horse prospects.

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 2019 YEH 5-year-old graduate horses who have since gone on to compete at the CCI3* and CCI2* levels include Camarillo, Global Absolute, Va Va Voom, D’Luxe Steel, Quality Explosion, Grand Finale, My Atlantic Spark, MBF Cooley Permission To Land, R River Star, Quiana AF, Fernhill DiCaprio, and Showman.

Doug Payne and Camarillo. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo

Doug Payne’s U.S.-bred German Sport Horse gelding Camarillo (Chicardo x Rehobeth), bred by Elizabeth Callahan, placed sixth in the YEH East Coast Championships in 2019, landing him in the ninth place overall. Payne has continued to campaign the young horse since and the duo made the move up to the CCI3* and Intermediate level in 2021. After the horse proved himself at the level by completing five events, Payne moved him up to his first Advanced in 2022 before contesting their first CCI4* just a month later at the Carolina International CCI & H.T. (Raeford, North Carolina) where Camarillo placed within the top 20. Most recently, Payne and Camarillo competed back-to-back in the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event followed by the Tryon International Three-Day Event (Mill Spring, North Carolina) where they placed 10th.

Colleen Rutledge and Global Absolute. USEA/Leslie Mintz photo

After placing seventh at the YEH East Coast Championships and 10th in the country, Colleen Rutledge continued to produce Black Diamond Partner, LLC’s Mecklenburg gelding Global Absolute (Do It x Ballerina II) through the Preliminary level before handing over the ride to West Coast rider Marissa Nielsen. Nielsen introduced the young horse to the FEI levels at the CCI2* level, including earning a top-10 finish in the CCI2*-L at The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) in 2021. Shortly after, Nielsen and Global Absolute made their debut at the Intermediate level in the fall of 2021, Global Absolute made his way back east as John Michael Durr took on the ride.

Matthew Bryner and Va Va Voom. USEA/Leslie Mintz photo

The Holsteiner gelding Va Va Voom (by Connelly), who also competed in the Future Event Horse program, placed eighth in the YEH East Coast Championship and 11th in the country as a 5-year-old with Matthew Bryner in the tack. In 2020, the pair tackled their first FEI event at the two-star level at Plantation Field (Coatesville, Pennsylvania). Bryner brought the young horse through the three-star level before Matthew Lewis purchased Va Va Voom and took over the ride in 2021. Since then, Lewis and Va Va Voom have spent the past two years getting to know one another, culminating in a seventh place finish this May in the CCI3*-S at the Virginia Horse Center in only their second time at the level together.

Andrew McConnon and D'Luxe Steel. USEA/Leslie Mintz photo

Andrew McConnon has had the ride on Jeanne Shigo’s Dutch Warmblood gelding D’Luxe Steel (Up to Date x Nicola D.) for his entire USEA career. The pair placed ninth in the East Coast finals in 2019 and 12th overall before winning their first FEI event at the one-star level in 2020 at the VHT International.

In 2021, they saw similar success at their move up to the CCI2* level when they won their division at Carolina International. In the fall of 2021, they moved up to three-star and held their own to finish in third at the GMHA Festival of Eventing August H.T (South Woodstock, Vermont). Since moving up to the three-star level, D’Luxe Steel has had several impressive results including a win in April of 2022 at the Chattahoochee Hills International CC3*-S (Fairburn, Georgia), a second-place finish at the Tryon International Spring 3-Day Event in the CCI3*-L in May of 2022, and a top-ten finish out of a field of 58 in the CCI3*-L USEF National Championship at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill.

Tim Bourke and Quality Explosion. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Quality Explosion (by OBOS Quality) rounded out the top ten on the East Coast in his 5-year-old year and concluded his YEH career 15th in the nation. Irish rider Tim Bourke piloted the Irish Sport Horse gelding through the kickoff of his eventing career through early 2022, bringing him up through the three-star level when they had a second place finish in the CCI3*-S at the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event (Lexington, Kentucky) in October of 2021. The young horse now belongs to Romulo Roux who has ridden him both at the one-star and two-star levels. Most recently, the horse has been showing at the Preliminary level with Janelle Fleming in the irons.

Leila Cluff-Ryan has brought along her own Oldenburg mare Grand Finale (Gatsby x Sweden), bred by Debora Gregoire, all the way from their 11th place finish at the East Coast championships to the CCI3*-S level since 2019. Grand Finale made her FEI debut in 2021 and has since had a top-10 finish at River Glen (New Market, Tennessee) CCI2*-S in 2021, the VHT International CCI2*-L in 2022, and the VHT International CCI3*-S (their first time at the level) in 2022.

Following his YEH career with Chris Talley, the ride on the Irish Sport Horse gelding My Atlantic Spark (Atlantic Sparkey x Atlantic Tracey) went back to owner Jessica Chappell through 2021 where the pair worked their way up to the CCI2* level and had a fourth place finish in the CCI2*-S at the Fair Hill International April H.T. Chappell handed the reins back over to Talley for the young horse to contest his first CCI2*-L and later in the season, Talley moved My Atlantic Spark up to the three-star level at Great Meadow (The Plains, Virginia).

MBF Cooley Permission to Land. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

The Holekamp/Turner Grant Recipient for the 2019 graduating class, MBF Cooley Permission to Land (Cobra x Deeply Dippy K), bred by Knightfield Stud, and owner/rider Cole Horn blossomed after their YEH debut. In the lead-up to Le Lion, Horn and MBF Cooley Permission to Land competed at both the two- and three-star level, with a first-place finish in the CCI3*-S at River Glen in August of 2021. They had a top 20 finish in the three-star at Stable View Oktoberfest (Aiken, South Carolina) before heading overseas to compete in the 2021 FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion in France. There, the pair finished in 31st.

R River Star and Courtney Cooper. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Courtney Cooper has produced her own and Neal Carmens’ homebred R River Star (Riverman x R Star) through the CCI3*-L level since the Irish Sport Horse gelding competed in the YEH Championships in 2019. The duo have had 12 FEI starts at the two and three-star levels including a fourth place finish in the CCI2*-S at Morven Park (Leesburg, Virginia) in 2021, a 10th place finish in the CCI2*-S at the Stable View Spring H.T. in 2022, and an 11th place finish in the CCI3*-L at the Tryon International Three-Day Event in May of 2023.

Quiana AF and Matthew Bryner. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Another member of the 2019 YEH graduating class is the Oldenburg mare Quiana AF (Quite Easy x All That Glitters), who is owned and ridden by Blake Fortson. The pair have competed up to the two-star level with four completions and one top-10 finish under their belt. Most recently, Fortson and Quiana AF have had two second-place finishes at the Intermediate level in May of this year at the Chattahoochee Hills H.T. and the Stable View Local Charities H.T.

Sallie Jonson and Fernhill DiCaprio. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Sallie Johnson has continued to campaign her own Fernhill DiCaprio (Finnaloon Flight x Finnan Scarlet) past his YEH career and has since moved the Irish Sport Horse gelding up the levels to the CCI3* division. Fernhill DiCaprio placed in the top ten in the CCI3*-S at the Chattahoochee Hill H.T. in 2022 and earlier this year, the duo competed in the CCI2*-S at The Event at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida) and the CCI3*-L at the Ocala International Festival of Eventing (Ocala, Florida).

DHI Showman and Sami Crandall. USEA/Leslie Mintz photo.

Last, but definitely not least, is the warmblood gelding DHI Showman (Elvis Ter Putte x Bubertha) owned and ridden by Noah E. Stanlaske. During his YEH years, Showman was ridden by former owner Sami Crandell. Buck Davidson snagged the ride on the developing horse in early 2020 and brought him up through the three-star level. Davidson and Showman had four top-5 finishes at the three-star level before Stanlaske purchased him. With his new owner, Showman has been competing at the two-star level and had an impressive third-place finish in the CCI2*-L at Bromont (Quebec, Canada) in June of 2023.

Congratulations to all the YEH graduates and stay tuned for the next class—the class of 2020! To look back at previous YEH Yearbooks, click here.

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