Valentine's Day—it's a special day dedicated to sharing your affection for your loved ones. At the USEA, we recognize who our members love most—their horses. Last week we asked our USEA membership a very loaded question on social media: what do you most love about your horse? We received over 150 responses sharing heartwarming tales and sweet sentiments from our members to their four-legged friends. Check out some of the standout submissions below!
Samantha B: "What I love most about my mare Aurora Borealis is her heart. She was a horse that pushed me to be the best version of myself every time I sat in the saddle. Originally bought to be my upper-level jumper, a random day on a cross-country course showed us where she belonged. I took her from her first show to the Preliminary level! Shortly after her move up to Prelim, she got an ulcer on her eye which led us to find out that she was competing completely blind. This horse almost never had a cross-country penalty and has a gallop that dreams are made of. She taught me that eventing is truly about the partnership, and all my horses benefit from the lessons she taught me. Now she follows me around the paddock scouring for cookies, and I reminisce about the days I got to leave the startbox on her."
Megan Y: "Rodeo came into my life five years ago, and I just purchased him last month. He was rescued as an orphaned nurse mare foal when he was weeks old. This horse rescued me when he came into my life. I learned to ride again on him as a 40-year-old adult amateur, and he took me to my first recognized horse trials two years ago. He has made my dreams come true along with dreams I didn't even know I had. I never had a horse as a little girl and dreamed of riding my own and galloping through the woods someday. Whenever I get on him I turn into that 10-year-old little girl on her dream horse, grinning ear to ear. He has given me wings and taught me to fly, to believe in myself, and just smile."
Sharon C: "These two are my life. Ati is on the left and Tory on the right. I've had Ati since the day she was born in 1999, and her daughter was born in 2015. Ati was my previous event horse, and now her daughter is following in her mother's hoof steps. It has been an amazing journey to have both from the day they were born. For the first three days of both their lives, I could carry them, and now they carry me. It has truly been an amazing journey to see the similarities and differences between the two and to also know everything that has happened to them every day of their lives. Words cannot express how much love I have for both of these two girls."
Meagan M: "My best buddy Neptune (Imperial's Catch) making my lifelong dream of competing at the [USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Nutrena Feeds] come true in 2021. This is us over the last jump on the Preliminary course. He is a self-made OTTB, and I've had him for eight years now. He is a saint and goes on lots of adventures with me outside of eventing, from riding on the beach to pulling a sled in the snow. He's always up for anything. He's even teaching my mom to event and took her around her first grasshopper course! He is worth his weight in gold and is a true unicorn."
Jenna D: "I got Bailey a year ago, and we competed at the 2022 Retired Racehorse Project for eventing and dressage in which we took first overall for eventing, second dressage, and overall champion. She was my first ever solo project horse along with my first time at the Makeover. I love Bailey because she's full of talent. She has her quirks and chestnut mare sass, but her talent 100% overpowers that. She has taught me how to be patient with the training process. When I first got Bailey, she was not very eager to go forward. She didn’t have the gaits I was hoping for. With a lot of muscle building, groundwork, and overall time and patience, she has quite the gait on her. Although she does live up to being a chestnut mare, I admire her heart. Bailey will always try her heart out for me, and that’s what I love most about her."
Mandy S: "Big love for the big boy Fargerik Hest after completing our first Beginner Novice. After losing my horse suddenly, dear friends of mine sent 'Cerus' to me so I would have something to ride. I had no idea my lifelong hunter-rider self and this giant, wiggly, young horse would ever step foot into the world of eventing, but we are here to stay. He has helped heal my broken heart and rekindled my love of riding again."
Celeste P: "I took a very extended break from riding (about 15 years) and found my amazing gelding Killian in my late 30s. I went from backyard riding to eventing without really knowing much at all about the sport, and he’s given me all the confidence I could have dreamed of and a true passion for eventing. I’ve fallen in love with dressage and especially cross-country with him as my teammate and partner. Killian is Mr. Personality and never fails to cheer me up. My son has special needs, and I trust Killian wholeheartedly around him. He is truly a horse of many talents; my son and I can ride him double bareback one day, he fox hunts the next, and then absolutely nails a dressage test to round out his week. He loves being surrounded by people and other horses and is always the first to greet me at the gate. I cannot imagine my life without this wonderful horse. Also, he’s perfect for a Valentine's Day post because he looks so dashing in red!"
Chelsea H: "Despite losing his right eye at 21 years old, my heart horse came back to compete at Novice just five months later! Uno has taken me from the racetrack and ponying the Kentucky Derby to flying around cross-country courses, both with the same level of enthusiasm. He's also the kindest, most gentle horse I've ever had the privilege to work with. There's nothing as peaceful as simply standing next to him in the field when he chooses to wrap his head around me and lean into my arms."
Morgan M: "Newton (Could’ve Ben and Jerry’s) was love at first ride for me. A quirky 17-year-old three-star horse isn’t for everyone, but he is perfect for me. I’m not a pro, nor do I have any intent to be, but he’s taken me to huge competitions and venues I could only dream to compete at. I hope we get to do our first Advanced together next year once we come back from our injury."
And we couldn't leave out this honorable mention from McKayla M: "Can’t forget about our parents behind the scenes. My mom and I still have yet to figure out what we were so happy about while getting me ready for cross-country!"
From horse trials in her home state of California where she prepared herself and her horses to take on the best in the nation and around the world to five-star events overseas where she represented the United States on some of eventing’s biggest stages, Tamie Smith had a remarkable season and finished 2022 as the Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year for the second year in a row.
TerraNova Equestrian Center in Myakka City, Florida, held its first CCI4*-S competition in the fall of 2021 and is now gearing up for the location’s third-ever FEI event and inaugural spring event this weekend during The Event at TerraNova which takes place March 30-April 2.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
Many riders across all levels have found that working with young horses has provided them with the most valuable experiences in eventing. The opportunities for young event horses have never been more exciting. The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast and West Coast Championships continue to grow in profile as the culmination of a calendar of qualifying events is expanding to more areas of the country. More American riders and their young horses are aiming for the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion D’Angers, France, particularly thanks to programs like the Holekamp/Turner YEH Lion d’Angers Grant. That’s become one of the most attended sporting events in the entire country. It’s given young event horses from the United States a chance to represent the growth of the American eventing community’s dedication to properly developing talent in the sport.