Five more champions were crowned today at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds.
Kimmy Cecere and Jacqueline Mars’ Hindine, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Cambell 1 VDL x Lundiroondnoot) jumped a double clean round in the Rolex Stadium this morning to take home the win in the Equistro Modified/Training division on their dressage score of 29.9.
“She’s actually Lauren [Kieffer]’s ride but Lauren’s over at Burghley right now so I was lucky enough to bring her here this weekend,” Cerece explained. “I was a little bit worried about today because we took almost a complete tumble in the water yesterday but she came out this morning and felt really good. She’s a loose rein pointer and a kind of go type of horse so she just went around and did her thing and she was really fun, a really good girl.”
On her epic save at the Head of the Lake yesterday, Cerece said, “She’s such a tough mare, she just jumped right into the second water, she had no idea that she almost fell down.”
“I was extra excited [to come to the AEC] because I went to University of Kentucky and this is the first time I’ve been back since so [Lauren] said we could come to Lexington and I’ve been screaming ever since,” Cecere shared. “She knew I really wanted to come and every time we come it’s such a good experience . . . The venue, especially at the Kentucky Horse Park and the way it’s put on and everything, it gives the horses the feel of what they’re going to do in the future hopefully without having to ride at that level yet. It’s a good experience for them.”
Alexander O’Neal and Sally Cox’s Clara Bö (Concours Complet x Charlotte), a 6-year-old Hanoverian mare, jumped a double clear round to move up from fourth into second on their dressage score of 31.4.
“She really woke up in there,” O’Neal observed. “I haven’t ridden her much because it’s my wife’s horse, but [my wife] is pregnant so I was lucky enough to have the chance to ride her this weekend. It was a lot of fun. I’ve ridden her a little bit at home – [my wife] Ellie still does most of the riding and she’s done an awesome job with her and made it really easy. She’s such a nice mare – she really woke up in stadium and we were excited to see that because she’s a bit quiet at home. I had a blast.”
“Everyone that’s in this professionally hopes to be here in April so to come here in August and maybe get a taste is always fun,” he said. “They did a great job with the ground and after doing [the AEC] here there’s really no other place to have this event. Everybody’s so excited to be here whether you’re doing Beginner Novice or Advanced.”
Diana Craven and her own Mr. Fernhill also finished on their dressage score of 32.6 to take home the yellow ribbon.
“He was amazing,” she said of the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, who she imported from Ireland two years ago. “I definitely didn’t expect him to take the atmosphere as well as he did considering it’s his first championship in the states. He went in the Rolex Stadium as chill as can be and jumped around great.”
Clean rides paid off in the Training Rider division, with Ashley Mozingo Perrin and Kathelen Amos’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding I Claudius (Marius Claudius x Bonny Jean) moving up from fourth place to take the win on their dressage score of 30.7.
“He was spectacular, he took care of me as usual,” she said. “He went around, he was nice and forward, felt great, and did his job. He has been a gem [this weekend]. He jumped cross-country bold and brave yesterday, put in our best test – very steady – on Wednesday. He’s been a lot of fun.”
Perrin is back in the ring after a 15-year hiatus. “I decided after 15 years it sounded like a good idea to go to a recognized competition and we won that one and it upped the ante and somehow we ended up here,” she explained. “This season has really brought back the fun of competing and being part of this. . . It’s just been kind of a whirlwind and been so much fun and that’s kind of been our theme, just go out and have fun and it’s amazing that it worked out this way.”
Gabbie Van Scoy and her own Cuernsey Z (Cuba x Winnipeg), an 8-year-old Holsteiner mare, scored a 32.8 in dressage and rode that score up the leaderboard from 19th place all the way to second.
“It was absolutely amazing. The whole experience – it hasn’t really sunk in yet. [Riding in the Rolex Stadium] was nothing like I thought. I’ve been here for jumper shows and watched the Grand Prixes in here and to actually get to be in there and look up . . . I don’t know, it hasn’t sunk in.”
Van Scoy has had Cuernsey Z for just over a year now, and they’ve been working on building a partnership. “I bought her from a family friend of ours and we did a couple Beginner Novices and Novices and came up to Training this year and it’s just been an incredible year.”
Emily Coulter and Artibella (Sinclair B x No Discipline), her 10-year-old Bavarian Warmblood mare rounded out the top three on their dressage score of 33.1, moving up from 23rd place.
“The dressage was really tense for her,” Coulter said. “Usually she’s a show horse and she knows her job but she got a little disturbed by the Arabians and there was some bolting happening. We actually pulled out a better score than we could have done, considering. I was pleased with her that she tried for me even though she was pretty upset.”
“I actually think it helped to get to go show jumping on the last day, she was really relaxed and I could really put my leg on and ride around,” Coulter commented. “She was fantastic yesterday – she just went around like it was nothing, it was great. It’s exciting to make it feel easy on her.”
Madeline Backus and Lynn Roberts’ 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Reflektion’s Rio (Reggasoni x L.A. Baltic Reflektion) led the Training Horse division wire-to-wire to take home the win on a score of 27.4, finishing the weekend four points ahead of the competition.
“He’s been stellar all week and he’s a bit hit-or-miss with show jumping – sometimes we’ll go in and he’ll be great others he pulls down a lot,” Backus explained. “We tried a new thing today and it worked and I’m really proud of him.”
“[We tried] very little warmup – like one fence,” she elaborated. “It was very nerve-wracking for me but he’s got like 15 good fences in him before he starts not caring. He got in the ring and I think the atmosphere helped. It’s so great to be able to bring younger horses into this arena. I think that atmosphere set him back a little and he was more careful – it was great, I was really proud of him.”
Backus will be giving Rio a little vacation before deciding what’s in store for the fall season. “He’s going to get a little break after this,” she said. “He’s one that we take our time with. He’s 12 this year but we just take it slow and go with what he needs. He’ll get a break and we’ll schedule our fall season after that.”
“I love the American Eventing Championships, I’ve been coming to them for so many years,” Backus said. “Being from Colorado we travel a lot so it’s nice that it’s in Kentukcy because I think it’s a little closer than some of the locations have been and it’s so fun to get out here and be competing next to big names and seeing everyone again. It’s amazing that we’ve had so many entries this show – it’s just really incredible. Thanks to all the sponsors for making it possible and all the volunteers because without them we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Ryan Wood and The Optimist sat tied with Elle Choate and Paddrick throughout the weekend – both scored 31.4 in dressage to sit tied for ninth place, went double clear to move up to a tie for seventh after cross-country, and both jumped double clean in show jumping. Wood’s time on cross-country was closest to the optimum, meaning he and The Optimist finished in the red-ribbon position.
“He was great,” Wood said of Julia Strawbridge’s 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Natal x ARD Golden Girl). “He started off with a really good dressage test and the cross-country was a true test I thought for the level and you had to work for it which is good for a championship, he stepped up and we had a great round there. He came out today and jumped out of his skin – I don’t think he’s ever jumped so good. The atmosphere sort of gave him a couple extra springs over the jumps . . . We’ve been gently chipping away with bringing him along and he’s doing very well.”
Elle Choate and Paddrick, her own 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Kroongraaf x Temple Clover), finished out the weekend in third place on a score of 31.4.
“Paddy was really good today,” Choate praised. “I didn’t expect the ride I got from him in the arena because he’s super green at the level. He’s only run a couple, so I thought the atmosphere would be super overwhelming for him but he actually came in and gave me a great ride. I was really impressed with his attitude today.”
“I’ve had him for 2.5 years, he was imported from Ireland as a 4-year-old I’ve had him ever since then,” she elaborated. “He truly is my best friend.”
“It’s unreal to be here, she commented. “I’ve competed at the Horse Park before but never in the Rolex Stadium and I’ve never gone through the Head of the Lake before so it means a lot for me to be here and to be here with my team and my friends means the world.”
Abigail Mazzatta and Samantha Lendl’s Woodstock's Little Nev (Luftikus x One Lucky One), a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, took home top honors in the Junior Training division after their double clear round bumped them up the leaderboard from second place into the winning position.
Mazzatta acquired the ride on Woodstock’s Little Nev from Jennie Brannigan. “[Jennie and his owner, Samantha Lendl,] were just so nice to lend me him for my lease that I have with him. They have done such an amazing job with him; it’s incredible. It’s an honor to ride such a wonderful horse. He is just the best!”
“Dressage was great – he was super calm throughout the whole thing,” she reflected. “I was just trying to make it through the whole test and not forgot anything, and I have just been preparing really hard with him. It is just a lot to take in that he was so good for everything, just constant calm throughout the whole thing. Then, cross-country came, and he is super lazy throughout the whole day until he gets to the start box. Then, when he gets to the start box, he is all game, and that’s when he really took over and just had a blast. Then, for show jumping I was all nerves and he just took care of me the whole way through. I had a complete miss at 10, and he just took care of me, which is great.
What are her goals with Woodstock’s Little Nev? “Just to move up the levels, maybe go to Young Riders. I don’t know, just take me up the levels I hope. That’d be great.”
Mazzatta said the most amazing part of her AEC experience has been the incredible atmosphere at the Kentucky Horse Park. “It is just so amazing, especially the cross-country, too. The cross-country was great. It was put together, it rode great. The Head of the Lake was amazing. It was just so fun jumping in there.”
Cassie Sanger and her own Born Ready (From Down Town x Jilly’s Red Sixty Six) moved up from a tie for third place to end the weekend in second place on a score of 29.1.
Sanger acquired the 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding from Waylon Roberts about a year ago. “He is still kind of new to me; it’s our first competition season. He is kind of a dufus in the barn; he is not always paying attention, but he really is such a sweet horse. We are moving up to Preliminary in two weeks about, so that should be fun.”
“Today, he was great,” she shared. “I luckily wasn’t that nervous for some reason. And then, he just jumped awesome, and it was probably one of my better stadium rounds I have ever had on him.”
Darcy Drury and Fernhill Bijzonder (Indoctro x Grafin), her own 13-year-old Holsteiner mare, started and finished the weekend in third place, having dropped to sixth place after cross-country due to 2.8 time faults but climbing back up with a double-clear round today. “I got a little lost on the way to the gulley so I had some time [penalties], but that was okay because she was so perfect jumping today that it didn’t even matter,” she said.
Drury hadn’t ever competed above Novice before she got Fernhill Bijzonder. “I got her from one of Julie Richards’ other students. I moved her up after one show. She was great. We won our first Training together. She is just so fun to sit on every time; I have never had a bad ride on her.”
“I just had a really great time hanging out with my horse. I mean she was perfect in the stadium, so that was probably my favorite part.”
Erin Liedle and her own Fernhill Boodle (by Ramiro B), a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, rose from third to first after putting in a double clear round over Bobby Murphy’s show jumping course.
“He was absolutely brilliant,” she said. “I’m so proud of that horse. We had a couple of bobbles – had some physical issues coming into this, both him and myself, and I just had to put faith in the good Lord above that we were prepared and had done our homework and it all came together at the right moment. I’m beyond thrilled for my horse. He totally steps up in big atmospheres.”
Liedle suffered from an acute episode of back pain and her horse took a bad step during a conditioning set, so the first proper training ride they had before the AEC was the day before dressage. “My first real ride back was Tuesday. My second ride back was our warmup. I think it was a test of my faith. I felt like we had done our homework and we have a great team surrounding us and my barn family is absolutely incredible. They were so supportive – they all kept me in positive spirits. I think the horse knew that he needed the rest. It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to us, for myself and for him.”
Rebecca Hunt and her own 7-year-old Thoroughbred mare Snowflake Lane (Dunkirk x Correoso) jumped double clear to move up from fourth to second and take home the red ribbon.
“She was super, I couldn’t have asked for better,” Hunt said. “She saved my butt twice. She’s worth her weight in gold. She’s very sweet, one of the sweetest mares I’ve ever had. She’s very much a people person.”
“[Cross-country] was good,” she continued. “She’s had a little trouble with dropping into water so we did a run-through of the water and then did the drop so we had a little bit of time.
Carly Eddahri and her own and Vincent Eddahri’s La Perle Noire (Diamant de Semilly x Majestic Susan), an 8-year-old Selle Francais mare, moved all the way up the leaderboard from 10th place to third on a double clear round.
“She can get a little jazzed up in the show jumping warmup so I was like, ‘Let’s keep it cool today,’ and she was really good,” she said. “She’s a homebred – we bred her, my husband and I and I brought her up the levels. I’m really happy she loves eventing. She was really good in this ring – I was really happy with her.”
“She’s been great this whole week,” she continued. “Dressage was really good – I had an error, so I was kicking myself over that. But she didn’t know it and she was good. Cross-country she’s a beast she loves it it was such a fun course. It’s been an unreal experience.”
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds 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 AEC will be held August 27 – September 1 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 the following sponsors for their support of the AEC: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsors: Bates Saddles, Equistro; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: Mountain Horse; The Jockey Club, Park Equine; Bronze Level Sponsors: Arnall’s Naturals, State Line Tack, Black Petticoat, Devoucoux, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, LandSafe SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, Ovation, Lanier Sand and Soil, Event Cooling Solutions, Farm House Tack; Contributing Level Sponsors: Ariat, Meanwhile Back on the Farm, L.V. Harkness, Lexmark, GLC Direct, Georgetown Tourism, FarmVet, FLAIR Nasal Strips, Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Resvantage Equine, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: GumBits, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Bluegrass Vibershield, Bluegrass Animal Products, Caracol, Active Interest Media, Astrid’s Oil, Baekgaard, On The Bit Horse Supplies, Luxe EQ, EQ AM Magazine, Jetti Spa, Great British Equinery, Foxden Equine, The Scoring Chix, Pure Form Equine; Competitor’s Party Sponsors:Jacqueline Mars, Kat and Roberto Cuca, United States Hunter Jumper Association, and United States Dressage Federation.
The Virginia Horse Trials are held twice yearly at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia (Area II). At their event in May, they offer Starter through Advanced/Intermediate horse trials, CCI*-L, CCI2*-L, CCI2*-S, and CCI3*-S FEI classes, and USEA Young Event Horse classes. At their event in October, they offer Starter through Advanced/Intermediate Horse Trials and CCI*-L, CCI2*-L, CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI3*-L, FEI divisions.
"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.