Jul 06, 2024

USEA Area III Championships Kick Off with a Bang with 13 New Champions Crowned

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Meet the 2024 USEA Area III Champions

Thirteen lucky horse and rider teams concluded the Bouckaert Equestrian H.T. and Area III Championships in Fairburn, Georgia, from June 28-30 with the honor of being named a 2024 USEA Area III Champion. Get to know each of the winners of each championship division below.

Intermediate Champions: Lexi Scovil & Chico’s Man VDF Z | 36.5

Rising to the top of the Area III Intermediate Championship was Lexi Scovil (Reddick, Florida) and her 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding Chico’s Man VDF Z (Chico’s Boy x Chardonnay Z).

This marks Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z’s third top-2 finish at the Intermediate level for the 2024 season. They also finished in the top 15 in the CCI3*-S at the Tryon International Three-Day Event (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in May.

The pair scored a 32.1 on the flat to take the early lead. They added just 4.4 time penalties to their score on cross-country to finish in first place.

Preliminary Champions: Chris Talley & Fast Forward | 28.8

Patricia J. Luttgen’s 7-year-old Trakehner gelding Fast Forward (Windfall x First Flight Romance) is a new horse for Chris Talley (Jeffersonton, Virginia) for the 2024 season, but that hasn’t slowed this pair down. They have now racked up five wins at the Modified and Preliminary levels and also placed fourth in the horse’s first FEI outing in the CCI2*-L at the Virginia Horse Center in May.

Continuing on their winning streak, this pair won the Area III Preliminary Championship from start to finish on their dressage score of 28.8.

Modified Champions: Joe Meyer & Gold de Riverland | 29.0

Owner/rider Joe Meyer (Anthony, Florida) has given the 8-year-old Selle Français Gold de Riverland (Arc de Triomphe x Frenchie) a fabulous start since the gelding started his USEA career in 2022. The horse has had several top placings at the Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels up to this point.

At the Area III Championships, the duo saw themselves in good shape after their dressage score of 25.0 put them at the top of the leaderboard. They only added one rail to their score all weekend to see them concluding the competition in first on a score of 29.0.

Junior Training Rider Champions: Tessa Geven & Caheradoo Jack | 31.0

Tessa Geven and Caheradoo Jack. Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Tessa Geven and Kathelen V. Amos’ 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Caheradoo Jack (Jack’s Delight x Caheradoo Echo) are no stranger to the podium. The Cataula, Georgia-based pair finished second in the Junior Training Rider Championship at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (Lexington, Kentucky). Now, nearly a full year later, they are adding a win in the Junior Training Rider division at the Area III Championships to their resume.

“Placing second at the AEC last August, and then to come here and win the Area III Junior Training Championship on Caheradoo Jack this past weekend is pretty amazing,” said Geven. “I am so lucky to have the opportunity to compete and ride Kathleen Amos’ fox hunting horse. He is so incredibly talented and so fun to work with.”

The pair held the lead from start-to-finish on their dressage score of 31.0. As she looked back on their performance together, Geven struggled to single out one favorite moment as she felt “Jack” was in top form all throughout the weekend.

“I was extremely pleased with Caheradoo Jack in all three phases,” she said. “We had a great dressage starting off leading the division, wonderful cross-country, and a beautiful show jump round, finishing on our dressage score. If I had to pick I would say that we were strongest in cross-country. Jack has always shined on cross-country, and this weekend was no different. He and I loved the course, but I was so happy with his performance this past weekend in all three phases.”

Senior Training Rider Champions: Marisa Shulman & Samurai Sam | 32.6

Marisa Shulman and Samurai Sam. Maren English photo

The 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Samurai Sam (Verazzano x Shilla) and owner/rider Marisa Shulman (Soddy Daisy, Tennessee) are no strangers to the winner’s circle at the Area III Championships. In 2023, this pair found themselves at the top of the field in the Senior Novice Rider Championship, and they made it a repeat event this year in the Senior Training Rider Championship.

“I got Sam a little over two years ago after he was restarted from his career as a racehorse,” said Shulman. “His goofy personality matched with his athleticism have come together into such a perfect package for me. I'm so proud of the horse he is growing into and the rider he is creating in me! He really is a special guy.”

Their dressage score of 32.6 put them in second at the start of the weekend. After going double-clear in both cross-country and show jumping, the pair found themselves leading the victory gallop just as they had done in 2023.

Shulman was especially proud of their cross-country performance at Bouckaert Farms this past weekend, especially when there was one question she referred to as “really tough” that they tackled with ease. She also really enjoyed getting to kick back and watch some of the other riders compete.

“My favorite moment of the weekend was watching all of the combinations of beautiful horses and ponies and their incredible riders show off their skills. I can learn so much from watching others!” she said.

Training Horse Champions: Cindy Rawson & Fourfields Classek | 35.7

Cindy Rawson and Fourfields Classek. Liz Crawley Photography photo

Citra, Florida, resident Cindy Rawson only just teamed up with FourFields Classek (Classe VDL x Agent M) six months ago. They haven’t placed outside of the top-3 in any of their outings together so far.

“We've spent the time building a partnership and competing mostly at unrecognized shows,” noted Rawson. “I was delighted when we started USEA shows in May, and he immediately qualified for the Area III championships. Although it seemed a bit early after just two recognized Training level events, I thought why not, let's go and see what happens!”

At the Area III Championships, Rawson and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, who she calls Billy, were sitting in second after dressage on a score of 35.7. After a double-clear outing on cross-country, they were still in second, just fractions of a point behind the leader.

It was his double-clear show jumping phase that launched the duo up to the top of the leaderboard, making that final phase a standout moment in Rawson’s mind.

“No one was more surprised than I was when Billy won his section,” she shared. “He is a lovely genuine horse and an out-and-out jumper, so I think we will have great fun in the future!”

Junior Novice Rider Champions: Kaitlyn Cobey & Sarrasin | 30.8

Kaitlyn Cobey and Sarrasin. J. Bishop Photography photo

Kaitlyn Cobey (Acworth, Georgia) has spent the last three years building her partnership with her 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Sarrasin (Monsun x Sand River), aka “Joey.”

“I am beyond thrilled and proud of this win,” said Cobey of the pair’s victory in the Area III Junior Novice Rider Championship. “Joey is an excellent partner, always willing and ready to work. He has all of the characteristics you would ever want in your eventing partner. He also has the sweetest disposition, loves everyone, and is a barn favorite.”

Joey has taken Cobey to her first horse trial, her first Area III Championships and later this summer will take her to her first ever AEC.

“It has not always been easy, but Joey and I have worked hard and persevered,” said Cobey. “Last year, we qualified for the Area III Championships but somehow Joey got a puncture wound, and we had to scratch the morning of the show. We weren't giving up though, we got back into work under the careful and constant guidance of my trainer, Lauren New, continued developing our skills, and kept our eye on the Championship this year.”

As with many off-track Thoroughbreds, Cobey noted that Joey has a lot of gas in the tank, and getting him to focus in the dressage phase has been their biggest challenge.

“Blood, sweat, and tears have definitely been a part of our journey to get to where we are today. The best advice someone told me was, ‘You will see the failure before the success.’ This win has shown me that all the hours and all the days at the barn are worth it," she said.

The duo lead the division from the very first phase, finishing on their unharmed dressage score of 30.8.

Novice Horse Champions: Ashley Greene & Galway Lad | 29.4

Ashley Greene and Galway Lad. Lisa Madren photo

Ashley Greene (Morriston, Florida) originally purchased the now 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Galway Lad (Petionville x Celtic Music) from Benchmark Sport Horses as a resale prospect.

“He seemed quiet and sweet, and we thought he’d be a quick flip. Throughout the first few weeks, he really impressed us, and it was obvious that there was something special about him,” Greene noted. “However, he was passed over for months by prospective buyers mostly because he was an unassuming-looking chestnut that was just barely 15.3 at the time. He would have sold very quickly had he been a leggy 16.2-hand bay, as his conformation, brain, and talent were as good as anyone could hope for.”

When he wasn’t scooped up by a buyer, Greene decided to produce him herself and show off just how special he is, and he's lived up to that potential.

“Whenever we start trotting around the dressage arena, he naturally gets lighter and rounder and starts flicking his toes even more," said Greene. "He becomes completely focused and obedient. He’s so fun. I have won more horse trials on him throughout the mere year he has been competing than I have on any other horse in my career.”

After winning his first Novice completion, Greene decided to showcase him at the Area III Championships.

“I knew when I was warming him up at the Area III Championships that he was there to win that as well," she said. "I was especially proud of his stadium round in a large environment as his carefulness can get the best of him when he’s distracted. I am looking forward to taking him to the AEC and moving him up to Training this fall. Maybe his perfect person will come along, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the ride!”

The pair earned a 29.4 on the flat and maintained that score through all three phases to win their division.

Senior Novice Rider Champions: Susan Faulkner & HelloHello | 27.2

Susan Faulkner and HelloHello. Liz Crawley Photography photo

The winter and spring eventing season was full of hard work for Susan Faulkner (Greer, South Carolina) and her 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HelloHello (Rock Hopper x Ballinglen Dream). That effort has made this victory even more special to Faulkner.

“Winning at the Area III Championships has been a major goal and I'm so thrilled to have achieved it,” she shared. “We have worked very hard to improve rideability. As a result, HelloHello and I have developed a wonderful partnership and look forward to accomplishing our next goal, competing at the AEC.”

Faulkner noted that she finds great joy in dressage because of the challenges it poses.

“There is always more to do and something to improve,” she said.

She came into the Area III Championships with a clear plan for her dressage test with HelloHello.

“At this specific horse trial, I was able to take the score sheet notes from the previous horse trial with the same judge and make the necessary improvements to shave three points off my previous score. That was very rewarding," she said.

That three-point improvement put Faulkner and HelloHello in a great place at the start of the division on a dressage score of 27.2. They went on to have double-clear performances in both cross-country and show jumping to win the division.

Beginner Novice Horse Champions: Miriam Offermanns & Totally Tinker | 24.4

Mirian Offermanns and Totolly Tinker. Liz Crawley Photography photo

Miriam Offermanns’ 8-year-old Hanoverian mare Totolly Tinker (Glock’s Toto Jr x Sundance) may have just started her USEA career this year, but she is starting it off with a bang by winning her first-ever championship title at the Area III Championships.

“It feels incredible to have developed ‘Tinkerbell’ from the beginning and accomplish such an impressive goal only three shows into her eventing career,” noted Offermanns. “We have always focused on dressage, but recently we started jumping and she seems to be having a blast!”

Tinkerbell was bred by Huck’s Hill Hanoverians and Offermanns (Woodstock, Georgia) has had the honor of starting, training, and showing all of her siblings and relatives. She is excited about what the young mare might have in store for the future.

“Longterm, I see her becoming the perfect Young Rider horse in my program at BellaRose Equestrian,” shared Offermanns. “She is brave, level-headed, and extremely athletic. My hope is that she continues to have fun learning about eventing and enjoys competing through the upper levels.”

Offermanns and Tinkerbell finished on their impressive dressage score of 24.4 to win the division.

Junior Beginner Novice Rider Champions: Stevens Moseley & SLE Ocean Ablaze | 31.9

Stevens Moseley and SLE Oceans Ablaze. Liz Crawley Photography photo

Stevens Moseley of Anderson, South Carolina, refers to her 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding SLE Ocean Ablaze as her best friend.

“Ocean is my best big red boy! He is laid back and has a go-with-the-flow attitude. After a couple of years of struggling with my last horse, I feel like I have found my heart horse! He loves people, always wants to be in the middle of the action, and has a playful and affectionate personality," she said.

The pair have had an exceptional 2024 season at the Beginner Novice level, placing first or second in every outing they have had so far. Their dressage score of 31.9 put them in second at the start of the Area III Championships, but their double clear performances in both cross-country and show jumping moved them up the leaderboard to bring home the win.

“Cross-country is usually always my favorite, but especially this weekend because it started pouring down rain and made us have to trust each other even more!” she said. “It didn't hurt that it cooled the temperature down a lot and made it a little more fun too!”

Senior Beginner Novice Rider Champions: Lydia Abernathy & Subtle Dream Unveiled | 30.3

Lydia Abernathy and Subtle Dream Unveiled. Photo courtesy of Lydia Abernathy

Lydia Abernathy’s (Vestavia Hills, Alabama) relationship with her Thoroughbred mare Subtle Dream Unveiled has been one that is now 16 years in the making.

“I rode her all through middle school and high school,” Abernathy said of the now 20-year-old mare. “However, when I went to college, I bought an upper-level event horse and leased Dreamer through those years. I took a little break from riding after college to get used to the adult world. I just recently got Dreamer back last August after being leased out for around 10 years.”

Abernathy was shocked when she and Dreamer qualified for the Area III Championships in their first show back together and in Abernathy’s first show back since 2019. She decided to head into the Area III Championships with an open mind and to just enjoy the ride.

“I didn't have any expectations and came into the weekend with the hopes of just having fun and surviving the heat,” she shared. “To win the Area III Championship as my second show back is such an honor. I know how much time and effort goes into riding and preparing your horse for these events. Everyone in my division brought their A-game and kept the pressure high! I want to thank Werner and Marjolein Geven for all their help and coaching over the last 15 years. I definitely wouldn't be the rider I am today without them, and Dreamer wouldn't be the horse she is today without them!”

Abernathy noted that her beloved partner has a nickname amongst those who know her well: “The Unicorn.”

“‘I think this nickname speaks for itself. She is a one-of-a-kind horse and is the same horse at home as she is at shows," she said. "She is steady in dressage but gets excited to go out and jump. She knows her job so well that it makes every phase feel easy and fun. I have had a blast at the few shows I have been to this year and can't wait to finish the season with her.”

Abernathy and Dreamer won the division on their dressage score of 30.3.

Starter Champions: Paige Markel & Tinkerbelle | 32.7

Paige Markel and Tinkerbelle. Liz Crawley Photography photo

Nine-year-old rider Paige Markel of Franklin, Tennessee, started riding the 15-year-old Pony of the Americas Pony Tinkerbelle as a walk/trot lesson pony when Markel was just 5. She describes their relationship over the past four-and-a-half years as “up and down.”

“I loved my weekly lessons with Tink and after a couple of years, I progressed to riding two to three times a week," said Markel. "Tinkerbelle and I eventually started competing at local schooling shows, and she rarely had a clear round. Even though our results were disappointing, I always loved competing with her."

Last October, the pair entered their first ever Starter level division, and they won.

“It felt amazing to celebrate our years of hard work together,” she shared. “When we learned that Starter was going to become a recognized division and be included at the 2024 AEC, my mom and I set the goal for Tinkerbelle and me to qualify. I was disappointed when I learned my first place finish last October wouldn’t qualify, and I was nervous about earning another first or second place finish.”

With a new goal in mind, the pair entered their first recognized show together in May of this year at the River Glen Spring H.T. (New Market, Tennessee) where they finished second on their dressage score. Since then, they have completed three additional USEA events, each of which they placed first or second at, including their performance at the Area III Championships. They are now setting their sights on the AEC this August.

Paige and Tinkerbelle led their division this past weekend on their dressage score of 32.7.

“My favorite memory from the Area II Championships was leading the victory lap,” said Markel. “I didn’t even know that was something I would get to do! It felt amazing racing Tinkerbelle around the arena with the huge championship ribbon clipped to her bridle. I love my pony!”

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