Aug 31, 2023

Training Riders Find Their Stride on Cross-Country at the AEC

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff | Press Release
Stephanie Letarte and GarryNDruig Albie. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Lexington, Ky.—August 31— All four Training championship divisions completed their cross-country today at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds, and three of the four dressage leaders maintained their first place standings.

USEA Training Amateur Championship

Tennessee rider Stephanie Letarte could spare a couple of time penalties on cross-country, and she added 1.2 to carry a 26.7 into tomorrow’s show jumping in the USEA Training Amateur Championship with her own GarryNDruig Albie (VDL Arkansas x Diamond Abbey), a 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood-Irish Sport Horse cross.

“I was just trying to have fun out there and take the pressure off and have a good time,” she said. “He was so good. I’m notoriously slow, so I was trying to go! I had a good, solid, steady round, and he was on fire.”

Letarte said she was “good nervous” as she headed out onto Jay Hambly’s course with her partner of 1 ½ years. “He definitely saved my bacon out of the little hollow to the brush vertical,” she said. “I put him on a terrible line, and he got himself through the flags. He really earned his cookies there! He’s just amazing. It’s a great feeling.”

Amanda Smith on her own 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Tug of War (Majestic Warrior x Gaslight Gossip) remained in second place with a double clear round. Lisa Hickey moved into third place with her own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Blackjack.

USEA Training Horse Championship

Jane Jennings and SF Vancouver 2.

Professional rider Jane Jennings and her own 8-year-old German Sport Horse gelding SF Vancouver 2 (Validation S x Nanna) stayed on top of the USEA Training Horse Championship with a double clear round (26.0).

“I was really pleased with him,” said Jennings, Aiken, South Carolina. “I thought it was a challenging course, but he came off of it feeling confident, and it rode really smoothly, and he was fast and didn't look at anything. I'm just I'm thrilled because he's had a little bit of a break, so he's coming back. And he just really rose to the occasion. It was awesome.”

The gelding has been back in work since June after a rare inner ear infection that took awhile to figure out. “This is definitely the biggest course he's had since his break, and everything rode smoothly; he was readable,” said Jennings. “I thought maybe he might be a little bit too wild out there and keen, but he was very rideable.

Jennings turned professional in 2009 and started an equestrian sales business. Before that she was in the corporate world in organizational psychology, working in Fortune 500 companies and riding on the side.

While she has a lot of horses come and go for sale through her barn, Jennings is planning to keep “Teddy.” “He's definitely a one-person kind of horse,” she said. “He really looks to the rider for trust, and he tries so hard, and sometimes too hard. He is a fast machine out there on cross-country, and I just have to kind of tone it down. He's very sensitive, and so I just always have to keep a level head about myself and not get too anxious or not get too worried about anything and just reassure him that everything's fine. And then he just picks up on that."

Andrew McConnon with Jeanne Shigo's 6-year-old Zangersheide gelding Connery Cooper Z (Cornado II Z x Zindyloma) remained in second place, and Rachel Miles and her own 6-year-old British Sport Horse gelding Cooley Keystone slotted into third.

USEA Training Rider Championship

Susan Gallagher and HH Rockstar.

The USEA Training Rider Championship has a new leader at the end of cross-country. Susan Gallagher and her own HH Rockstar moved into first on their score of 25.0 after dressage leader Sierra Lesny fell from Sebastian on course.

“I’ve been trying to get here for 10 years. It was a highlight for me,” said Gallagher after her ride.

Between back to school for her two children and the timing with her and “Rockstar,” the AEC never quite worked out until this year. Gallagher (Millwood, Virginia) choked up when she told the story of how she bought Rockstar five years ago.

Her longtime trainer Packy McGaughan found him, but McGaughan died suddenly in 2020. After his passing, she started training with Allison Springer. “It took me a really long time to find the right coach after Packy died,” she said. “Allison’s been great. I clicked with her. I also get help from Mark Coombs.”

Rockstar had done much when Gallagher bought him, but since then, he’s helped her earn her USDF Bronze Medal in dressage, taken her through Modified in eventing, gone to jumper shows and even foxhunted. “He’s my dream horse because he does everything,” Gallagher said.

The 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Chacco-Blue x Cherly Z) is jumper-bred, so “I have to work on cross-country to make the time!” Gallagher was happy her plan worked out today on course, and she’s looking forward to show jumping tomorrow. “I thought it was so fun,” she said. “I had a plan, and I was able to ride to plan, and that means it’s a really good, fair course in my mind. But it was a championship course—there were some big fences. But it was a lot of fun.

"This is a really fun show, and I appreciate that they hold it,” she added. “Unlike the big FEI competitions, people are just happy to be here. They introduce themselves to each other, and they’ve got stories to tell, and it’s just a terrific atmosphere. It’s everything I hoped it would be.”

Anna Banks and her own 10-year-old Dutch Harness Horse-Andalusian Primrose BMD (C-Galaxy x Anna) moved from seventh into second place, while Kyla Tovar and her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Kilcoltrim Jacko (Jack Of Diamonds x Sky Rise) moved form ninth place into third.

USEA Training Junior Championship

Marina Cassou and Castleturvin Mungo.

Dressage leaders Marina Cassou (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and her mother Beatrice’s 14-year-old Connemara gelding Castleturvin Mungo jumped a stylish double clear to stay in first place in the USEA Training Junior Championship on their score of 29.6.

“Right as I went into the start box I was like, oh crap, am I gonna puke during this? Which I have never done, but I always feel like I’m going to!” she said with a laugh. “But he was really good, and I was really excited to do this course, and he was really amazing. All of it was fun. The coffin was the most fun because of the chevron out. It was a decent sized chevron. He’s a machine. He loves cross-country, and he’s just a rockstar.”

Cassou is going to be doing some positive self-talk until her show jumping round tomorrow. “He always likes to curse me with a rail or two, so hopefully no rails. I am telling myself, you’re not having rails!” she said.

Avery Grantham and her own Watch Maker C (Watermill Rolex x Lilli Marleen), an 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Hanoverian cross gelding remained in second place, and Tessa Geven rode Kathleen Amos’ 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse Caheradoo Jack (Jack’s Delight x Caheradoo Echo) remained in third place.

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is the pinnacle of the sport at 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 combinations 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.

The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles; Gold Level Sponsors: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.

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Meet the Newest Area IX Champions

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Martin and Luke 140 Take CCI4-S Dressage Lead at Plantation Field International

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Sep 22, 2023 Young Event Horse

The Dutta Corporation Returns as Title Sponsor of the USEA Young Event Horse Championships

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