Nine horses competed for the 2018 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) West Coast Championship title today at the Fresno County Horse Park in Fresno, Calif. and it was the girls who prevailed. While only nine horses showed up to the West Coast YEH Championships compared to the 53 on the East Coast, Championship judges Sally Ike (USA), Lucinda Green (GBR), and Chris Ryan (IRL) stated they saw great talent on both coasts. The judges flew straight from the YEH East Coast Championships at Fair Hill International in Elkton, Md. to Fresno and got right to it, crowning two sets of female teams as Champions.
“I loved the quality of what came before us on the West Coast, there just weren’t enough of them, which is sad,” said Green. “I was pleasantly surprised with how advanced the Thoroughbreds here were though, because we had a few Thoroughbreds at Fair Hill where one or two were already quite mature, but then we had many others that were not. Some Thoroughbreds just take longer than others to mature, but the ones here on the west coast are well on their way.”
Andrea Baxter rode Lauren Burnell’s Thoroughbred mare Melkenna (Sea of Secrets x Cheesewright) to an 82.55 to claim the title as the 2018 USEA Young Event Horse West Coast 4-year-old Champion. “She was perfect. I love her and I’m really thrilled for her and her owners and the [YEH] program really, that she won. Melkenna truly is what I believe as a four-star horse for the future,” said Baxter.
“Bec Braitling’s owner Lauren Burnell found [Melkenna] at the racetrack last year. She was a bit difficult and no one really had time for her, so I offered to put some ground work on her and basically restart her, and she kind of just earned a spot in my heart. Then, Lauren decided to let me keep her, and my best buddy (Braitling) is really a good buddy for not taking her off of me,” laughed Baxter with Braitling standing beside her.
Jennifer Wooten’s Thoroughbred gelding TE Pacific Passage stepped up as the 4-year-old Reserve Champion with Becky Leisz in the irons. The Thoroughbred gelding by Stormy Jack and out of Aunt Polly scored an 82.40, just nipping at the heels of Baxter and Melkenna. The third place position in the 4-year-old class was claimed by Allyson Hartenburg’s own Mucho Me Gusto (Macho Uno x Ghostkeeper), earning a respective 76.5.
The YEH West Coast 5-year-old Champion title was earned by another Thoroughbred mare, MVP Madbum (Papa Clem x Dancing Stripes), who is owned and ridden by Madison Temkin. The off-the-track Thoroughbred mare scored an 82.4 and also took home the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) award. “We got her off the race track as a two-year-old," said Temkin. “I had always wanted a horse off the track, and one night super late I was looking around on canter.com and I saw [MVP Madbum]. We went down the next day, and I handed over the cash, and we took home this little plain bay 2-year-old. It’s been quite the journey with her, but I really love her, and the partnership is there, and I can’t wait for her future,” exclaimed Temkin.
Since ending her racehorse career, MVP Madbum has grown up through the USEA Future Event Horse Program (FEH), and now into the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH), and Temkin believes it’s helped her develop the mare a bit better. “Madbum did the FEH as a 3-year-old and then went right into the YEH as a 4-year-old. The in-hand 3-year-old stuff got her used to going to shows. She was a little difficult at the beginning, so it helped us figure her out. Then the 4-year-old YEH classes were a good way to get her in the ring without having to put too many miles on her legs. As a 5-year-old, I’m so happy with her now. She seems to always know when to turn it on, and today she really did,” said Temkin with a smile. Temkin is entering the mare in the Training Three-Day Event at Galway Downs this fall, and then plans to give her a nice rest in the pasture before making plans for what is to come in 2019. MVP Madbum was also awarded the Safe Harbor Award, which is awarded to the young horse who consistently exhibits the most graceful and rider-friendly performance throughout the competition.
The 5-year-old YEH West Coast Reserve Champion was Nancy Read’s CrissCross PCH (Con Capilot x unknown), who was ridden by Nicole Carroll, earning an 81.45. Third place was claimed by Stunner (Escudo II x Whiz Bang), Vicky Koss’ Hanoverian gelding, ridden by David Koss on a 75.4.
The USEA YEH Committee developed an entirely new scoring and judging system in 2018, and the Championship judges seemed to really appreciate the new structure. “There have been tweaks made to the scoring system, and Marilyn Payne did a wonderful job calculating it all and putting it together with your [YEH Committee]. Having the addition of the conformation at the Championships with Chris Ryan is important, and he is very, very good,” Championship judge Green commended. "I love the new scoring system,” stated Ike. “I found it very easy to use.”
The conformation section was removed from YEH qualifying competitions in 2018, but kept at the Championships. Conformation judge Chris Ryan expressed that he thought it would be beneficial to keep conformation at the qualifiers in order to guarantee finer quality at the Championships. “On the East Coast, there were four horses that came under my eye that I wouldn’t have liked to see as finalists. To me, they should have gone through a qualification process where conformation was judged and they wouldn’t have passed through. It was disappointing seeing those horses at the final,” explained Ryan. “Conformation is just one section I know, but I like to think that good conformation equals good soundness, which equals longevity. It takes time and money to bring a horse from a baby up to the three- or potentially four-star level, and when you get there, you want them to stay there for a long time, and good conformation ensures that. That all being said, there were certainly some horses on both coasts that got me excited too.”
All three YEH judges expressed their gratitude to Fresno County Horse Park organizer John Marshall and event secretary Christina Gray and their teams for putting on such a wonderful competition. “Kudos to their efforts because the young horses are this sport’s future, and to be able to identify them is key,” stated Ike.
The USEA would also like to thank John Marshall and the entire team at the Fresno County Horse Park for hosting the USEA YEH West Coast Championships.
For full results, click here.
About the USEA Young Event Horse Program
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 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 three- and four-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 view the jumping standards and specifications.
"No matter how old you are, be open to all disciplines, learn how to ride a dressage horse, a gaited horse, a show jumper. Go fox hunting and point-to-pointing and horse showing. You’ll learn from all of them and when you do decide which discipline you want to do, you’ll be better at it anyway.”
The University of Findlay’s Three-Day Eventing Team was established in 2013, the same year USEA voted and approved the USEA intercollegiate program. The UF team has over 30 members encompassing a variety of majors at the university. The team has access to two indoor arenas, a large outdoor arena, and 70 acres of on-site cross-country fences.
Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.