The final West Coast winners have been crowned at the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Championships and USEA FEH West Coast Championships. On the final day of competition at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, eager owners, anxious riders, and excited spectators watched as the respective judges determined the fate of their young horses in the YEH West Coast 4-Year-Old and 5-Year-Old divisions as well as in the FEH West Coast 3-Year-Old and 4-Year-Old divisions. With the young mounts competing for their respective titles this weekend producing some of the highest scores across all regional championships, the West Coast is proving it could be the best coast.
Kicking off the day, the YEH-4 and YEH-5 competitors took to the final jumping phase contesting over a field of cross-country fences following a brief trip around the showjumping ring. Following the first day of competition, the 4-year-olds were a tightly packed group with one fraction of a point separating the bulk of the pack, but it was ultimately Cellar Farm Corp’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Natagho-w (Comthago x Odorette-W) ridden by Kristin Joly who made the most of their jumping round, which made up 70% of the total score, to win the West Coast Championships with 84.10 points.
Having only been partnered with the gelding for a few weeks, Natagho-w came ready for action showing off his expansive, efficient stride and powerhouse jump to YEH judges, Marilyn Payne (USA) and Martin Plewa (GER). “This is actually his first show in America,” stated Joly after winning the Last Chance Qualifier at Twin Rivers earlier in the week. “We only imported him from Holland a month ago, and he is just an amazing jumper and mover. He was great today and the cross-country course was so much fun. I thought it was decorated beautifully, the questions it asked of the horses were awesome, and we just had a great time out there.”
The 4-year-old Reserve Champion was Cindy Hahn's Tristan (Titulus x Elaisa), who was ridden by Michele Pestl, earning an 83.20 with third place rounding out with Wynnville (Lakerville x Tebowing), ridden by Ella Garcia, and owned by Ella and Christy Garcia. Wynnville also took home the Go Get 'Em Best Gallop Award, which is presented by Stillwater Farm in loving memory of Don Trotter. The third-place pair also won the high-score American Bred award.
Immediately following the conclusion of the 4-year-olds, the 5-year-olds took to the course to show off their form, scope, and most importantly,potential. While Tommy Greengard led the pack after day one aboard Lisa Peecook’s Holsteiner mare, Macha (Don Frederic x Com Airline), the talented young rider ended up in the winner’s circle with another one of his entries, That's Me Z. Owned by Greengard and Andrea Pfeiffer, the Zangersheide gelding by Take A Chance On Me Z out of Venetia was “...the most prepared to show himself off,” stated Greengard.
Greengard has made it a theme of not only standing on numerous USEA Championship podiums but also winning aboard horses he has only ridden for a short amount of time. Coming off of several championships at Rebecca Farm this summer for the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships, his performance this weekend marked his first YEH Championship win. He went on to state, “We have only had him for a month or two. He came from Matt Flynn over in England. He has sourced a few horses for us before and Andrea Pfeiffer, who owns the horse with me, saw him and was like this is the next horse, and before I knew it he was in the barn. He has been everything Matt said he was and then some.”
Tucking another feather in their caps, Greengard and Pfeiffer’s talented import not only took the top score out of all of the entries for the West Coast region with an 85.30 but claimed the title of highest-scoring 5-year-old out of both East and West Coast YEH Championships besting the 84.29 score that Patricia Luttgen’s Trakehner gelding, Sky Moon (E.H. Sixtus x Pr. St. Sky Lady) laid down with rider Boyd Martin at The Maryland 5 Star in the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships presented by Dubarry.
The Holekamp/Turner Grant is given to the horse that has the highest score from both East and West Coast YEH Championships combined, pending their qualifications for the 7-year-old World Eventing Breeding Championships in Le Lion d'Angers, France. Out of both coasts, That's Me Z is currently the highest-scoring horse in contention for the grant in 2024.
Nick Cwick piloted two of Amy Cwick's young horses to the second and third place spots in the YEH 5-year-old West Coast Championship, with Picadilly's Pride M.E. (Colmander x Narew xx) taking Reserve Champion, and Lowmax, a Hanoverian gelding, scooping third place.
Switching gears to the USEA FEH West Coast Championships, Stacia Lloyd’s Oldenburg mare, Secret Romance (Schwarzenegger x SH Romance) who was bred by Cathie and Kaylie Bruner took to the jump chute where they scored an 81.30 nearly five points ahead of the second-place finisher to claim the title of 2022 USEA Future Event Horse 3-Year-Old Champion. Though Lloyd stated she was “wild” earlier on in the year, she showcased potential to be a great eventer catching the eyes of judges Marilyn Payne and Kate Rocco (USA).
“She was bred in Alberta, Canada, and I acquired her over the pandemic,” stated Lloyd. “When it all first started, I decided to look for something really nice, but I could not afford a three or four-year-old. I saw her baby pictures and ended up purchasing her as a nine-month-old. She had a beautiful head and a very uphill movement. Her damn’s pictures were also very beautiful and she also had a beautiful head. I did not know much about the bloodlines, but I liked her dark bay color and I especially like mares and the name seemed to be good so I went with her.”
As the final champion of the weekend was crowned, it appeared as though all of the winners were going to be from just north of the U.S. border as Barbara Hanel’s Canadian Warmblood mare, Valiane (Valentino x Joey) prevailed over the talented pack scoring an 82.60. Bred at A.C. Training Stables Ltd. by Shannon Carr, this mare showcased her impressive power and form most certainly related to her Voltaire bloodlines.
“I helped start her this year and so far she is coming along nicely. Her grandsire is Voltaire and she was picked up with a couple of different horses. How I got the ride on this horse was very much an accident. I went to go ride a different chestnut mare and they were out in the pasture all wooly and blanketed. I ended up grabbing this one out of the field when she was three, and I hopped on her and she hadn't been ridden in six months and was barely broke. I was very confused, but it turned out I got on the wrong horse! I stuck with her and the owner, Barbara, gave me the ride on her. Either I or one of the daughters of the owners of Elk Run Farm will start her in her eventing career whenever she is ready to go.”
The highest-scoring American-bred horse in the 2022 USEA FEH 4-Year-Old Championships was Katrina Rivas' Irish Sport Horse mare, Temptress Of Love, who was bred by Paisley Phelps of Valley Center, California.
“I’ve been a member of the YEH and FEH program for a really long time as a rider, trainer, breeder, and more,” said Andrea Baxter of Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California. I’ve also been a member of both committees for a long time, and I’ve been trying really hard to keep it alive on the west coast and do the best we can to grow the programs. We tried to put our best foot forward and it just kind of got lost in the mix when we tried to combine [the Championships] with our recognized events, and it would get missed, so we decided to take it over and make it it’s own standalone event and Championship. It’s actually fortunately growing, and we even had people come all the way down from Washington State just for this, which means a lot for the program and shows the direction it is going and growing.”
The USEA would like to thank all of the West Coast venues that stepped up to host USEA FEH and YEH qualifying competitions this year. The USEA would also like to thank the Baxter family and Twin Rivers Ranch for hosting this year's Championships.
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About the USEA Young Event Horse Program
The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses aged four and five, that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Premium Products, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
About The Holekamp/Turner Grant
Founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm, the Holekamp/Turner Grant provides a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor with the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. With the sole purpose of paving a clear pathway for U.S. team horses to progress in the sport of eventing, recipients who are North American bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500, while imported horses are awarded $8,000. Additionally, The Dutta Corp. offers a prize to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient, consisting of a round trip flight from the Eastern United States to Europe.
About the USEA Future Event Horse Program
The USEA introduced the Future Event Horse Program in 2007 in response to the popularity of the already established USEA Young Event Horse Program. Where the YEH program assesses 4- and 5-year-old prospective event horses based on their performance, the FEH program evaluates yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. Yearlings, 2-year-olds, and 3-year-olds are presented in-hand while 4-year-olds are presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated on their conformation. Divisions are separated by year and gender. At the Championships, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential over fences in an additional free-jump division. Click here to learn more about the Future Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, Parker Equine Insurance, SmartPak, Standlee , Kerrits, Capital Square and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Future Event Horse Program.
One of my passions is continuing to be a good student, because I think no matter how old I get, there are multiple reasons learning new things inspires me. First and foremost, it helps me be a better rider and trainer, so my horses benefit. Second, it helps me be a better teacher by exposing me to different ways to have a relationship with a horse or a student.
This month we’re going to begin a three-part series on how to create positive riding experiences by making sure the words you say to yourself and the thoughts you think to yourself are positive. Referred to as self-talk, internal dialogue, or brain babble; the words you say to yourself can have a huge impact on your performance. In fact, your thoughts and voice are actually considered behaviors, and just like how positive physical behaviors (i.e. a balanced transition) can create success, your verbal behaviors can also accomplish the very same thing. So let's spend the next few months talking about how to talk to yourself!
Being spontaneous has paid off for Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy. “I bought him on a Wednesday and showed him on a Thursday,” Keane recalls about his first event with his Irish Sport Horse gelding, then 9 years old, at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) in September 2016. “I owned him for part of a day, and the next morning I showed up at a CCI and jogged him up for a two-star, and we went clean and clean and clean.”
THANK YOU to everyone who has already entered the USEF/USEA Recognized CDCTA Spring Horse Trials scheduled for Sunday, April 9 in Berryville, VA. We will continue to take late entries through Friday, March 24 using USEA’s Xentry system. If you still want to come compete, please enter! The late fee has been waived through Friday, March 24.