Jul 14, 2023

Trainer and Student Take Coconino Classic Three-Day Wins for the Second Year in a Row

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Faye Gandolfi Photography photos

Three new USEA Classic Series champions were crowned during the Summer Coconino HT and Western Underground, Inc. Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice 3-Day Event, held July 7-8 in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in a repeat of 2022, trainer Brittney Caflisch and her student Jaeli Uselding took home two of those wins.

Caflisch rode Balance Due, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Redding Colliery x Stage Five Clinger), to the win in the Training Three-Day, finishing on a score of 35.2.

Caflisch is based in Amarillo, Texas, at River Falls Equestrian Center. She enjoys restarting off-the-track Thoroughbreds, including Balance Due, or “Lance,” who is a graduate of New Vocations in Louisiana.

Lance came to Caflisch as a 4-year-old, and she admits, things weren’t always easy. “He is very spirited and opinionated,” she said. “Many times his legs are off the ground and not quite doing what he should be. I love him dearly, and we have grown to respect each other and love our partnership we have created.”

The pair won the Novice Three-Day at Coconino in 2022, and Caflisch wanted to return because Coconino is a favorite event.

Brittney Caflisch and Balance Due.

“Our barn loves going to the Coconino Horse Trials,” she said. “Being in the forest is such a fun experience and so different than our normal terrain that we have in Area V. On top of that, the scenery, the temperature ,and dry air is a nice change for the Texas temps and some humidity. Being able to compete in the Three-Day Classic is such a treat! Coconino Horse Trials do an amazing job running they event, and everyone should try to find somewhere to be able to do so.”

Caflisch said Lance benefitted the most from the steeplechase phase on endurance day. “Lance has not always taken me to the jumps, and it’s been myself encouraging him to get there. He has never been one to stop or run out, but always would love to shorten his stride to give himself more time to look at the jumps. With steeplechase I feel like Lance would tackle the cross-country course after being so much more bold and really hunting the jumps. I feel like galloping at such a big speed around the track and up to the steeplechase jumps really gave him confidence.

The Texas trainer noted the importance of a team at the vet box on endurance day, and said it’s a valuable learning experience.

“Last year we were so lucky to team up with another barn because we didn’t have much help except my mom and my student’s mom,” she said. “This year we were more prepared in numbers of people ready to start cooling horses as they entered the vet box and making sure Lance and the other horses at our barn competing in the Classic were being cooled and walked in preparation for their recheck by the vet to see if they were able to go on to cross-country.”

Jaeli Uselding and Benmore Westonhouse Boy.

In a repeat of 2022, Caflisch’s student Jaeli Uselding also took home a win in the Beginner Novice Three-Day division with Caflisch’s Benmore Westonhouse Boy, an 11-year-old Connemara gelding (Westonhouse Straboe x Benmore Betty). They finished on their dressage score of 33.2
Uselding, 14, started riding with Caflisch when she was 7 and did her first recognized event when she was 9.

"Weston" stepped in for Uselding's 2022 Beginner Novice Three-Day winner My Fair Prince when he was unable to go to an event in May, and she decided to keep riding him. They won both their Beginner Novice starts before heading to Coconino.

"It took us a bit to figure each other out because he’s so different from what I’m used to riding, but he was so good and took everything in stride," she said. "Prince still wasn’t quite ready to show, so I continued to ride Weston, and we decided to try and get qualified for [USEA American Eventing Championships] on him. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse and I feel so lucky to be able to ride him.

Uselding enjoyed her experience at the Three-Day last year and was glad to come back. "I actually really enjoy prepping for such a tough competition and it was so much fun getting to do the jogs and all of the experiences that go along with this type of competition. This is one of my favorite events we do," she said. "Weston was already in pretty good shape, but prepping for this competition motivated me to really focus on my horsemanship and make sure he was ready to go and feeling his best. He is already super brave, and I think him getting to experience everything on roads and tracks, steeplechase and the cross- country course made him even better.

Taylor Timmerman and Windanu.

Taylor Timmerman and Windanu topped the Novice Three-Day on their dressage score of 37.4.

Timmerman started her riding career at a hunter/jumper barn in South Carolina and got valuable teaching experience in the mountains of North Carolina when she was 16 working at an all-girls summer camp where she managed the riding program.

She got her first taste of eventing through foxhunting, team chases, and local schooling shows in college.

When she moved to Utah, she started competing at USEA-recognized events, winning the Area IX Preliminary Championship in 2021 on a Thoroughbred named Spirit, who she’d brought along from his first cross-rail. He’s the inspiration for her farm in Utah, Little Bay Farm, and just celebrated his 19th birthday.

Timmerman bought Windanu, or “Dani,” as a green 4-year-old. The now-6-year-old Westphalian mare (Windeco x Tango) was at a dressage barn where was proving to be too “dramatic” to be an amateur dressage mount.

“The first few months were a bit rocky as she preferred to spend most of the time with all four feet off the ground or standing on her two hind feet, but as with most mares, partnership is key to trust, and when you have a spicy mare’s trust, the sky is the limit,” said Timmerman, who’s hoping to run the mare’s first Training next month.

“Although nothing thrills Dani as much as leaving the start box, she’s also turned into a trust-worthy mountain horse and enjoys trail rides in our little mountain valley. I often refer to her as an ‘all-terrain warmblood,’” said Timmerman.

Dani had surgery to remove a chip in her fetlock this spring, so Coconino I was the pair’s first outing of the year. Timmerman was weary of moving her up at the next competition weekend at Coconino, which would be her second event of the year, so she thought the Novice Three-Day was a great alternative to push them both out of their comfort zone just a bit.

“When I started to warm up Dani for stadium on the final day of the competition, I realized that she was actually a bit tired and needed extra support from me to help guide her through the final day of competition,” said Timmerman. “She jumped a beautiful, clean round and was quite pleased with herself. The Three-Day format pushed her in a way that she has never been pushed before and taught her that, even when she’s a bit tired, she can still focus and get the job done, which is an important lesson for a young event horse. It was also beneficial that this lesson was taught at a level in which Dani and me are very comfortable so that she is not intimidated or insecure when her body feels different. She definitely came out of the competition with a new level of confidence.”

Timmerman enjoyed learning about the vet box and experiencing the camaraderie of working with her team.

“The trot-ups were also an excellent introduction to what is expected of horse and handler at the FEI level, and I realized that it’s something that we should definitely practice more before a FEI debut,” she said.

Ultimately, Timmerman said she learned to, “Listen to you horse throughout the duration of the long-format event and ask yourself, ‘What does my teammate need from me in this moment’? A long format is an opportunity to continue the development of the horse/rider partnership. Because each phase is longer, especially the endurance phases, you can listen to your horse, think about how they are interpreting each of the phases, and provide the support they need in the moment.”

Full results.

For more information on the Classic Series, visit the USEA Classic Series webpage.

About the USEA Classic Series

The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long ­format three­-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross­-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long ­format three-­day event. Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors, and earn leaderboard points. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank bronze sponsors SmartPak Equine and D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, as well as contributing sponsors Bates Saddles and Parker Equine Insurance for supporting the USEA Classic Series.

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