The four Training level divisions at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena® Feeds all danced in the sandbox today at The Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. With 63 horses trotting down centerline today, Training riders represented the largest number of competitors at a single level performing their dressage tests on the first day of competition.
Eva Jacroux and her own Rubel (Radikal x When the Worlds Unite), a 12-year-old Zweibrucker gelding, lead a competitive Junior Training division on a score of 31.4, topping 20 other entries. Jacroux admitted that her partnership with “Ru” began on a rocky note, but has since shaped up to be a positive partnership. “I got Ru about two years ago, this is my second season on him. It did start off a little bit rocky, he was way too much horse for me, and I was a little worried whether or not I’d be able to ride him. I came from a push button ride, but I decided that I was going to try my hardest to make it work. I started doing a lot of ground work, I started going back to the basics, and it seems to have really worked because he’s come into his own.”
The 18-year-old, who will head to Washington University in the fall, was hesitant to even know where she sat after the first day of competition. “I really didn’t think this test went very well,” said Jacroux. “Ru was a little tense and I was worried about whether or not I was going to be able to handle him, but it ended up being just fine. He was such a good boy, he really paid attention to me and listened to what we’ve been working on.”
As the pair head into tomorrow’s cross-country phase, they will look to hold the lead. Jacroux concluded, “Dressage is probably his strongest phase, but he does seem to also love cross-country. I’ve already walked the course, and I think it’s going to be really fun!”
Madison Santley and Excellence (Vaillant x Wolinda), a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Santley, have a firm grip on second place with a 31.7, while Rosie Smith and her own Seamus, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Corrcullen, RID, round out the top three on a 33.8.
McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord. Shannon Brinkman Photo.
McKenzie Rollins and Excel Star Lord (Non-Stop x Korea B), her own 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, have a commanding lead in the Training Horse division on a score of 28.5, leading by 4.6 points. “He was great, but I was very nervous,” shared Rollins. “He does very well in atmosphere and that helps calm me down. It’s surprising, because he just turned six in June, but he has never really given me any trouble. He shines in the dressage ring and he loves to get in there. He was a little bit fresh so he got a little heavy in some places but he’s just so lovely and it’s really fun to ride him.”
Originally from Massachusetts, Rollins moved to Los Angeles a few years ago looking for a change of pace. “I did a Google search barns outside of Los Angeles and I ended up at Mill Creek where I met Jennifer Johnson and she’s helped me all along since I brought Frankie in.”
Rollins imported Frankie as a 4-year-old from Ireland with the help of Courtney Cooper. “He came in as a 4-year-old and we did a number of Novice [level events] and then moved up to Training. I think we’ll be ready to move up to Preliminary after this. I’ve really been wanting to take my time with him and make sure I’m not pushing him or rushing him. He’s so lovely, I didn’t want to put any pressure on him.”
Second place is a tie between Sam Kelly and Robinstown Ballivor (Watermill Swatch x Coevers Dock), Copeland Farms’ 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, and Attila Rajnai and her own and Sara Mittleider’s 6-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Maximus de la Tombe (Esperanto van Paemel x Fidji de la Tombe), who both sit on 33.1 heading into tomorrow’s cross-country competition.
Kelsey Horn and Swingtown. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
The Training Rider division watched Oregon native Kelsey Horn prance to the lead with the Swingtown Partners’ entry, Swingtown. Horn and the 6-year-old Oldenburg mare (Sagnol x Dynamica) held strong to the first-place position, besting second place by more than two points on a 24.2. “When we heard that the AEC was going to be in Colorado,” said Horn, “we knew we had to aim for that. We wanted to participate, so having it at CHP made a huge impact on our ability to get here.”
With a talent for riding young horses, Horn has focused her efforts on creating a steady string of top event horses over the past few years. “They’re just so fun to work with,” Horn said of her younger mounts. “Initially, I had a few clients purchase me a younger horse for Pinnacle Syndicate, and then I just kind of collected some others that were younger. As they’ve gotten older I have this great string of horses coming up the line.”
Of her partnership with Swingtown, Horn concluded, “I’ve been riding her since I broke her as a 3-year-old. She won the 4-Year-Old West Coast Event Championship in 2016, and then in 2017 she had a year off due to an injury. This season we are back at it, and we did a couple of Novice events at the beginning of the season, bumped up to Training, and we will see where the rest of the year takes us!”
Tracy Alves and her own Romulus (Contango x Divottii), a 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, are currently sitting in second place heading into cross-country tomorrow after earning a 26.8, while Rebecca Mortensen and Seattle Freckles, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, rounded out the top three with a 28.8.
Linda Quist and Belle Gambe. Shannon Brinkman Photo.
The Training Amateur division saw the top dressage score of 27.3 go to Linda Quist of Colorado and her own 14-year-old Iberian Warmblood, Belle Gambe (Temerario VII x Mojave). “With today’s test,” said Quist, “I think I rode it well, I think she rode it well. There were a few spots where I kept thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we need to do better!’ Apparently, we did good enough though, as we have the leading score for today! I’m definitely excited about that, this has been a dream.”
The duo has been partnered since the mare’s birth, and their bond speaks for itself in and out of the show ring. “My horse is amazing,” continued Quist. “I’ve had her since she was born, so we have an incredible partnership. She’s my friend, she’s another mare - she and I connect like a pair of girlfriends. Sometimes we argue, sometimes things go great, sometimes they go not-so-great. She has her opinions, I have mine.”
Following Quist and Belle Gambe is Mighty Smart, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic x Ravenna) owned by Ruth Bley and ridden by Nikki Lloyd, sitting on a 28.2. Leslie LaBraque and Falkonet, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, sit in third place after dressage and will head into the second day of competition on a 28.4 after the first phase.
Training cross-country kicks things off tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. with the Preliminary Horse division, followed by Junior Training at 8:48 a.m., Training Amateur at 9:30 a.m., and wrapping up with Training Rider at 10:06 a.m.
Click here to view the complete scores.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. This year, the USEA American Eventing Championships will be held August 29-September 2, 2018 at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the USEA American Eventing Championships: Presenting Sponsors: Nutrena Feeds; Gold Cup Advanced Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Sponsor: Devoucoux; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: VTO Saddlery, Mountain Horse; Bronze Level Sponsors: SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, CWD, Ovation, Acuswede, and Equipparel; Contributing Level Sponsors: Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Emerald Valley Natural Health, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: Ride Safe, GumBits, Equus Magnificus, Scoring Chix, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, A Little Pet Vet, ChubbyCov LLC, The Jockey Club, Absorbine, Arenus Animal Health, Equestrian Athlete Camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center
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