Sep 02, 2022

USEA Beginner Novice Championship Divisions Lead the Charge To Weekend Competition at the #2022AEC

By Olivia Airhart - USEA Staff
Jenna McFadden and Take a Shot. Shannon Brinkman Photo

After waiting with bated breath to kick off their own competition, competitors in the USEA Beginner Novice Championship divisions of the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds finally made their way down the centerline on Friday. The four divisions took to the dressage rings at Rebecca Farm in hopes of securing a solid score heading into the weekend.


One of the first groups to step foot in the ring this morning, the USEA Beginner Novice Amateur field consisted of 25 horse and rider pairs. Following stiff competition, it was ultimately Jenna McFadden and Mackenzie Johnson’s 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Take a Shot (Grindstone x Easy Elegance) who currently lead the pack on their score of 28.3.

“My horse was wonderful. ‘Whiskey’ went into the arena and acted like a professional. He wasn’t too freaked out by the spectacle and he listened very well. He was a little excited the first day we got here, but he settled in pretty nicely and my warm-up went just how I planned it. We traveled from Oregon and stayed over in Spokane so we could split up the drive. It was very beautiful, especially in the second half. I haven’t been to this side of Montana so it was cool. This is my first time at Rebecca Farm, and I’ve wanted to go for so long and the cards laid out correctly this year for us to come here for the AEC. It looks like a really fun cross-country course, I’m excited and I hope he won’t be too looky at all the pretty jumps but I think he’ll think it’s pretty cool.”


Madeline Backus and Slew the Blues. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Madeline Backus and Slew the Blues. Shannon Brinkman Photo

In the Beginner Novice Horse division, the 9-year-old Quarter Horse mare, Slew the Blues (Slews Gold x Only Blue Crystal) owned by Brad Ray topped the field with her textbook movements. Madeline Backus, who has only competed the mare four times prior to the AEC, mounted up and guided Slew the Blues to a score of 26.6.

“She’s in temporary stabling for the first time, and has had a hard time not being able to see horses, but I’m so impressed how she’s gone out into the arenas ready to work and she’s attentive and has been listening. Right now, this horse is just getting experience. If we go clean and clear, fantastic, but I’m just here to get her more experience at a bigger venue with more atmosphere. I’m looking forward to seeing how she handles all of that. The course looks good – it’s a challenging Beginner Novice course and I’m excited to see how it goes. I’ve had her for a year - she had never been ridden as of July of last year. She came to Florida with us during the winter season and she has grown and become such an amazing athlete.”


Bridget Kelly and Windover Tarragon. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Bridget Kelly and Windover Tarragon. Shannon Brinkman Photo

Young riders were the next to saddle up for their turn in the arena. Though the riders put forth their best attempts to claim the top spot on the leaderboard, it was Bridget Kelly and her own Windover Tarragon, a 13-year-old Connemara mare by Irish Parks Caraway Finn out of Del Poco Princess who topped the field.

“It feels really good, I wasn’t sure after my test. I knew we had the potential to have a really good test, but I let my pony have energy. Since she’s a pony she gets sticky off my leg but I knew if I could get her forward we could have a really good test. I just wanted to get a sub-30 and we ended up doing it, and it felt great. It looks really fun, there are a few challenges. The terrain is hilly but it looks fun. Kind of challenging but it looks really fun. This is my first time at Rebecca Farm, it’s beautiful here.”


Mandy Collins and Vatino. Shannon Brinkman Photo
Mandy Collins and Vatino. Shannon Brinkman Photo

Mandy Collins and Lillian Thiel and Bettijean Collins’ 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Vatino (Patino x Inta) laid down one of their best dressage scores this year to take the first place position on a score of 29.2 heading into Saturday’s cross-country phase.

"He was really super, he’s an older guy who’s done the upper levels with another young rider so he can get a little bit jazzed watching cross-country. The previous day he was doing some mini rears and threw in a spin, but as soon as you put those braids in he understands where he is and he’s all business and he’s just relaxed. As an adult amateur, it’s really nice having that kind of confident ride. He knows when he’s at a show, he’s definitely a showman.”

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About the USEA American Eventing Championships

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 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. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 4 at the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. 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: Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Capital Square, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club, Kerrits; Bronze Level Sponsors: Athletux, The Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, FITS Riding, Equilume, Devoucoux, Fifth Third Bank, Gallops Saddlery, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Clark Nissan; Contributing Level Sponsors: CrossCountry App, WeRideTogether, Haygain, First Interstate Bank, Schellinger Construction, Glacier Bank, Animal Health Solutions Inc., Discover Kalispell; Prize Level Sponsors: Vet Blue, Practical Horseman, Hound & Hare, Strides of Equality Equestrians, Horse & Country TV, Bemer Independent Distributors, Freelance Design, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Flexible Fit Equestrian USA, and more! ATC Sponsors: The Chronicle of the Horse, FITS Riding, Nutrena Feeds, SmartPak, Achieve Equine/FLAIR, Kerrits, and Horse & Country TV

Dec 08, 2023 Convention

‘Test the Best Without Hurting the Rest:’ Barnard and Donovan Lead Show Jumping Seminar at USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

Dec 07, 2023 Convention

USEA Board of Governors Meet for the First Time During 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.

Dec 06, 2023 Convention

Fast Facts: 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.

Dec 05, 2023 Education

Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community

To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.

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