Four-year-olds and their respective riders kicked off competition on day one of the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Championships and USEA FEH West Coast Championships early this morning in the dressage ring at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California. Having seen the largest turn-out for the West Coast Championships in the program's histories, the day was filled with tight competition, championship crownings, and the lingering feeling of a bright future for the sport of eventing on the West Coast.
With a large field of talented mounts, The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH West Coast Championships were broken up across two days of competition with the first consisting of the dressage and conformation phases, while the cross-country phase was saved for last to determine a winner. At the conclusion of the day, it was Cindy Hahn’s German Sport Horse gelding, Tristan (Titulus x Elaisa) who was bred by Miriam Bray in Germany who took the top spot on the YEH-4 leaderboard with a score of 23.70.
Rider and trainer, Michele Pestl noted, “He was actually an approved stallion as a three-and-a-half-year-old and I imported him in March of this year for his owner, Cindy [Hahn] who lives in Spokane, but he is staying training with me on the west side of Washington. Out of all of the horses that I have imported since 2006, I really enjoy him the most and he is the most natural of all the cross-country horses I have brought over.”
Up-and-coming rider and no stranger to the winner circle Tommy Greengard piloted Lisa Peecook’s Holsteiner mare, Macha (Don Frederic x Com Airline) to the first-place position on a score of 24.80 in the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH Five-Year-Old Championship. Though the talented mare was fresh off of a “serious health scare,” landing her in the hospital for a total of four months, her stellar dressage test spoke for itself as the pair plan to take on the final phase of competition tomorrow.
“She was super. She is super quality and has three super nice gaits on her. She really showed herself off in the ring today,” stated Greengard of her test today. Looking forward to tomorrow’s jumping phase he noted, “She has only been back for the last five weeks, so she is still pretty green and weak in the jumping, but she should be very ready to go out there and show herself off and jump to her best ability at this time.”
Following the conclusion of the first two phases of YEH competition, the Future Event Horses took center stage as spectators watched as the first champions of the weekend were crowned. Sarah Cullum’s Westphalian colt, Cape Fear (Crumble x Sweet City Woman xx) bred by Elizabeth Callahan took the cake in the 2022 USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Yearling Championship on a score of 87.60. The colt not only took the tri-color for the West Coast Championship, but also claimed the highest score for a yearling out of all three regionalUSEA FEH Championships.
Nearly a full seven points ahead of the Reserve Champion, Cullum’s first time out at the FEH West Coast Championships was a successful one. “Obviously he is just a yearling and I think he is nice, but I don’t know what other people think, noted Cullum. “We just happened to hear through Doug Payne riding Quantum Leap that Elizabeth had some babies for sale and I asked if she had anything in my budget. I ended up getting him and I was so impressed when I first saw him. When he came off the truck he just had this presence about him.”
Though, Cape Fear was not the only yearling with “presence” about him, as Amaya Davis’ Thoroughbred filly, Sealebrity (Sea Lion x DKH Estrelita) claimed the FEH West Coast Championship Yearling Filly title on her score of 75.40. Bred by Amy Clemmons in Liberty Hills, Texas, this U.S. bred filly was one of the more spirited yearlings in the pack, but Davis claims, “I like the crazy ones.”
Just a junior rider herself Davis was all business stating, “She is just this really brave little yearling and such a character. She is super willing to learn, and this is just her second time to one of these shows and she was really good. I am hoping to just take it slow and take her up the levels. I don’t want to push it, so I will keep taking her to new places and see what her potential is.”
The final champion to receive their tri-color ribbon was two-year-old Trakehner mare, High and Mighty (Mighty Magic x High Priestess) owned and bred by Michlynn Sterling. Finishing on a score of 78.30, Sterling is a veteran of both the YEH and FEH programs having had numerous youngsters come through the FEH program and even showing her horse Carrigfadda in the 5-year-old YEH Championship earlier on in the day. With countless graduates of both programs, Sterling finally got vindication taking the Championship victory with her horse having always gotten the Reserve Championship title in previous years.
“She is out of High Priestess who is a full sister to my three-star horse and we bred her to Mighty Magic because we thought that would be a fun cross and it has turned out to be pretty special, stated Sterling. “It is pretty amazing to have a thought of what a horse should be and to breed it and have it turn out so nice is so rewarding.”
Taking the Reserve Champion title and the Champion colt in the USEA FEH West Coast Two-Year-Old Championship was Erin Storey’s KWPN gelding, Prachtige Schat (Markus Des Jardins x Mijin Schatje) who was accidentally bred at Storey Tails. Though how the duo ended up at the West Coast Championships was a mishap, their score of 78.00 proved they were more than qualified to be there having only 0.3 of a point separating them from the 2-year-old Champion.
“...he actually was an accident baby, stated Storey. “A freshly imported young stallion jumped the fence, and my very good friend actually bought a young mare, who she did not know was pregnant from there. When she did his foaling and she was ready to sell him we connected and gave me a pretty good deal on him and said let’s jump him as high as he can go!”
Competition concludes tomorrow, October 29, with the Jumping phase for both the YEH four and five-year-olds as well as the FEH Jumping Chute phase for the three and four-year-olds followed by the crowning of the rest of the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse & USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Champions.
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.
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