Sep 23, 2019

Where Are They Now? The 2018 USEA Young Event Horse Champions

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
Courtney Cooper and R River Star at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

In just one month, some of the most promising young event horses will compete at the 2019 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships. The 2019 USEA YEH East Coast Championships will be held at Fair Hill International on Thursday, October 17 and Friday, October 18. The 2019 USEA YEH West Coast Championships will be held at Fresno County Horse Park on Sunday, October 20. Last year at this time, over 60 horses were gearing up to compete at the 2018 USEA Young Event Horse Championships but only four were named champions: MB Maistein, R River Star, MVP Madbum, and Melkenna.

The YEH program's goal is to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition that, with proper training, can excel in the highest levels of eventing. A true testament to the program’s success - all four of the 2018 YEH champions have multiple wins on their USEA record, three of the four are currently competing at the Preliminary level, and the two 4-year-old Champions are both qualified to compete in the 2019 USEA YEH 5-year-old Championships.

Tamra Smith and MB Maistein at the 2018 USEA Young Event Horse Championships. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

“He’s very rideable and has such a tremendous gallop,” Tamra Smith said of MB Maistein (Rocky Lee x High Ovation) who won the 2018 USEA YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships on an impressive score of 88.29. During his YEH career, the 6-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by the MB Group LLC and ridden by Tamra Smith competed in five YEH competitions and won four. He’s won over seven recognized horse trials, he was the Novice Horse Champion at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships, and he was the YEH 5-year-old East Coast Champion at the 2018 USEA YEH Championships.

At 6 years old, MB Maistein has already collected more wins than most collect in a lifetime. His winning streak is still going strong as he recently won the Open Preliminary division at Shepherd Ranch SYVPC Horse Trials on August 23, 2019.

Courtney Cooper and R River Star at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Irish Sport Horse/Dutch Warmblood gelding, R River Star (Riverman x R Star) and Courtney Cooper won the 2018 USEA YEH 4-year-old East Coast Championships on a score of 83.24. Affectionately known as River, R River Star was bred by Courtney Cooper and her husband, Neil Camens, at their farm/breeding program, C Square Farm. “[River’s] mother, R Star, was also in my breeding program and went up through the Intermediate level before being sold,” said Cooper.

The now 5-year-old gelding is qualified to compete at the 2019 USEA YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships as he earned a qualifying score of 76.55 to finish second at the YEH 5-year-old qualifier in April at Loch Moy Farm.

Last month, Cooper and R River Star traveled to Kentucky to jump in the Rolex Stadium at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds. Competing in the Training Horse division, the pair finished fifth in a field of 42 starters. Last week, they successfully moved up to the Preliminary level at Flora Lea Farm H.T. River, who’s described by Cooper as “a really good jumper, thoughtful, and light on his feet,” will be one to watch in the upcoming 2019 USEA YEH East Coast Championships.

Madison Temkin and MVP Madbum at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Thoroughbred mare, MVP Madbum (Papa Clem x Dancing Stripes), owned and ridden by Madison Temkin won the 2018 YEH 5-year-old West Coast Championship on a score of 82.4. Madison Temkin spotted the plain bay as a 2-year-old on

After MVP Madbum’s racing career came to an end, Temkin started her eventing career with the USEA Future Event Horse Program (FEH), and then made the transition into YEH when the mare turned 4 years old. “Madbum did FEH as a 3-year-old and then went right into the YEH as a 4-year-old. The in-hand 3-year-old [classes] got her used to going to shows [and] the YEH classes were a good way to get her in the ring without having to put too many miles on her legs,” said Temkin.

Now, the 6-year-old Thoroughbred is established at the Preliminary level with six Preliminary completions in 2019. Her most recent finish was a top 20 finish in the 2019 AEC Preliminary Horse division that had 55 starters. In 2019, the 6-year-old Thoroughbred mare has jumped clean at every outing in both cross-country and show jumping.

Andrea Baxter and Melkenna at the 2018 USEA YEH West Coast Championships. USEA/Kate Lokey Photo.

Lauren Burnell’s Thoroughbred mare, Melkenna (Sea of Secrets x Cheesewright), ridden by Andrea Baxter, won the 2018 YEH 4-year-old West Coast Championship with a final score of 82.55. “Melkenna is what I believe is a four-star horse for the future,” described Baxter.

Melkenna and Baxter have qualified for the 2019 USEA YEH Championships as they scored a 79.8 to finish second at the YEH 5-year-old qualifier in July at Twin Rivers Ranch.

Check the YEH Qualified Horse list here.

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 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 Hay Company, C4 Belts and Etalon Diagnostics for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program.

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