The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation is thrilled to announce Ariel Grald as the 2019 recipient of the Jacqueline B. Mars International Grant, and Ellie MacPhail O'Neal as the recipient of the Jacqueline B. Mars National Grant. These distinguished eventing athletes boast impressive records and demonstrate high-performance potential to represent the United States in future international competitions, making them the ideal recipients of the annual grants that provide training and competition resources for athletes and their horses.
Grald of Vass, North Carolina, has had a standout year with Anne Eldridge's 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Leamore Master Plan, proving herself as a consistent upper-level competitor. In Kentucky this spring at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L, the pair competed in their first 5* event, earning 12th out of a competitive field. Her current participation in the Developmental Potential group sets her up for the FEI 2022 World Equestrian Games.
With the opportunity to travel overseas Grald is looking forward to maximizing her time in the United Kingdom. Her plans to compete in the Millstreet CCI4*-S this month are part of the goal of preparing for the prestigious Burghley CCI5* set to take place at Burghley House in September.
"It is an immense honor to receive the Jacqueline B. Mars International Grant," said Grald. "I've dreamed of competing in Europe and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity from the USET Foundation and Jacqueline Mars to make this goal a reality. It means a lot to have their support and faith in me and my horse. This trip will help us gain valuable international experience as we build towards representing the USA in the future. Grants such as this are crucial for Americans to compete abroad and I'm very thankful for this exciting and educational opportunity."
Using the Jacqueline B. Mars National Grant, MacPhail O'Neal plans to compete at the Fair Hill International CCI4*-L with Zeta, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Sally Cox. She has participated in both Futures Challenges in 2019 and her development thus far has sparked her determination to be an excellent team competitor. Last month, MacPhail O'Neal and Zeta made the trip to Canada for the 2019 Bromont Mars Equestrian CCI4* where they were able to gain more experience on a terrain made up of hills and mountains, an exciting opportunity for Reddick, a Florida native.
"Receiving the Jacqueline B. Mars National Grant is such an honor," MacPhail O'Neal said. "I am really excited to have the opportunity. It makes me so excited and appreciative that the USET Foundation provides funding for riders. I would also like to thank Sally Cox, who owns Zeta, and my mother for their support."
On this episode of the Equiratings Eventing Podcast, show host Nicole Brown talks to Pan American Games gold medalist and U.S. team stalwart Boyd Martin about his career to date, highs and lows, and coming back from injury.
On Monday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, USEF will host a member webinar providing updates on the impacts of the case of EHV-1 (neurological) reported in Ocala, Florida. This case is similar in nature, but unrelated to the neurological strain of EHV-1 impacting Valencia (ESP) and other European countries.
As competitors rise through the levels, they often see the costs associated with competition rise and, unfortunately for most organizers, this can’t be avoided. With fewer competitors requiring more jumps, officials, footing management, etc., the expenses for running higher levels – especially FEI – are greater than lower levels.
Our sport is going to present you with many amazing opportunities, and some equally amazing challenges. While you’re sure to enjoy the opportunities, it sometimes takes a little more effort to enjoy the challenges. Contrary to the common misconception (from non-equestrians) that our sport is easy, it’s actually one of the hardest and most demanding sports of all!