This year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L will be the first five-star event to take place in the U.S. since 2019. The entry list has familiar names, five-star veterans, rookies, and many horses who have been eventing in the U.S. since they were 4 years old.
To help introduce young horses to the sport of eventing, a popular program among competitors is the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH). This well-established program was founded in 2004, and the program’s goal is to identify 4- and 5-year-old horses that possess the talent and disposition that, with proper training, can excel in the four and five-star levels of eventing.
A total of 16 YEH graduates will be making the trip to the bluegrass state to compete in the CCI5*-L or in the inaugural CCI4*-S. Five of the YEH graduates entered in the CCI5*-L (Mai Baum, Business Ben, Off the Record, Dondante, and Quantum Leap) will all be aiming to complete their first five-star event.
The 2012 YEH graduate Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana) aka Thomas is a 14-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, bred by Timothy Holekamp, and ridden by Boyd Martin. Tsetserleg, a 2012 YEH graduate competed in the USEA YEH program as a 5-year-old in 2012 with rider Cristin Stoop. Six years later, Tsetserleg completed his first five-star event in 2018 at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event where he and Martin finished 11th. Since then, he and Martin have represented the U.S. at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrians Games and the 2019 Lima Pan American Games where the pair took home double gold - individual gold and team gold. In 2019, Martin and Tsetserleg also finished 2nd at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event to be the highest placed American pair.
Both the breeder and the owner of Tsetserleg are generous supporters of the YEH program and are responsible for the Holekamp/Turner Lion d’Angers Grant.
Fun fact: Windfall, the Trakehner stallion owned by Timothy Holekamp, has two offspring competing at LRK3DE this year: Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana) and Vandiver (Windfall x Visions of Grandeur), a Trakehner gelding owned by Debi Crowley and ridden by Doug Payne. In 2019, these two horses both finished within the top five at LRK3DE.
Doug Payne will be riding two horses in the CCI5*-L and his second ride is the 2016 YEH graduate, Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) a 2011 Holsteiner gelding bred by Elizabeth Callahan and owned by Doug Payne. The 10-year-old gelding competed in the 2015 USEA YEH East Coast Championships as a 4-year-old where he finished third and again as a 5-year-old in 2016 where he finished seventh. Two years later, Quantum Leap was the 2018 Holekamp/Turner grant recipient where he and Payne represented the U.S. at the FEI World Breeding Eventing 7-year-old Championships at Le Lion d’Angers. Now, this year Quantum Leap will make his five-star debut in Kentucky.
Tsetserleg’s teammate at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games was Mai Baum, a 2011 YEH graduate. Ridden by Tamie Smith, Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira) a 15-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, went to his first event in 2010 as a 4-year-old, and finished 4th in the YEH 4-year-old division at Rebecca Farm. The following year, Mai Baum finished 5th in the YEH 5-year-old division at Rebecca Farm both years he was ridden by Michele Pestl. The now 15-year-old gelding has racked up an impressive record over the past 10 years and has earned 11 international wins.
Business Ben (Artie Schiller x Min Elreeh) The 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Allison Springer and owned by the Business Ben Partnership will be making his 5-star debut at this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. The 2015 YEH graduate had a successful YEH career as he finished fourth in the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship on an impressive score of 80.42. The following year, in 2015, Business Ben won the Waredaca YEH 5-year-old division on a score of 82.94.
Formerly known as Cooley Off the Record, Off the Record
the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden by William Coleman and also owned by the Off the Record Syndicate is a 2014 YEH graduate. This 12-year-old gelding has finished in the top three in 11 CCI events including a third-place finish at the CCI4*-L at Tattersalls in Ireland. As a 5-year-old, he finished second in the YEH 5-year-old division at Waredaca and ninth at the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship with Coleman as the rider.
Another ride of Coleman’s who has graduated from the YEH program is Dondante an Irish Sport Horse gelding sired by Pachio and owned by Team Rebecca LLC. As a 5-year-old, Dondante finished third with a score 81.96 in the 2015 YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship with Coleman in the irons. The now 11-year-old gelding will be making his 5-star debut at Kentucky with Coleman.
Rounding out the five star entries is the 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Covert Rights (BFF Incognito x Let's Get It Right) ridden, owned, and bred by Colleen Rutledge. Covert Rights is a 2011 YEH graduate and finished seventh in the 2011 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship and fifth at the 2010 USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship. Since graduating from the YEH program, Covert Rights and Rutledge have competed at Kentucky twice (2015 and 2018) and Burghley (2015). This will be the pair's fourth competition at the five star level.
In the inaugural CCI4*-S, there are a total of nine YEH graduates competing. These graduates include: Woodford Reserve (Tinarana's Inspector x Laharns Laughton) a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding bred by Frank Hickey, and ridden and owned by Erin Kellerhouse; Houdini
(Hot Rock x Nancy’s Star) a 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden and owned by Katie Ruppel; Rock Phantom (Spirit House x Ballycroy Rose) a 2011 Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden and owned by Nilson Moreira Da Silva; FE Golden Eye (Goldfever x Cascade) a 2012 Holsteiner gelding owned and ridden by Colleen Loach; Truly Wiley (Salute the Truth x Cheers of A Loss) a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding bred by Bruce Davidson, owned by The Truly Wiley Syndicate, and ridden by Sarah Cousins; Confidence Game (Morluc x Pam’s Ruckus) a 2010 Thoroughbred stallion ridden and owned by Collen Rutledge; Danito
(Dancier x Wie Musik) a 2009 Hanoverian gelding owned by Ruth Bley and ridden by Tamie Smith; Riot Gear a 2009 Oldenburg gelding sired by Confetti, owned by Eileen Kenney and ridden by Elisa Wallace; and Let It Be Lee (Bernstein x Sugaree) a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by the Five Pine Partnership and ridden by Elisa Wallace.
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 Hay Company, Parker Equine Insurance, Etalon Diagnostics 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.
Marley Bridges lived and breathed gymnastics. “I started at the age of 5,” said Bridges. “You always had to have the time and the mindset for gymnastics. You had to allow yourself to commit to it. You had to commit to working out four hours a day, five days a week, doing cardio every single day, train every single day. You had to stay committed to yourself, the team, and the sport.”
If you’re like most riders you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “Your last mistake is your best teacher,” or “if you’re doing everything right you’re doing something wrong because you’re in your comfort zone.” While I agree whole-heartedly with these sentiments, I actually prefer, “Equestrians don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make equestrians.” They make us bolder, braver, and brighter; but only when we develop a positive relationship with our mistakes and respond to them in productive ways.
Up-and-coming eventing athlete Tommy Greengard of Malibu, California, was named the recipient of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant for 2024. A current competitor on the U.S. Equestrian Federation's (USEF) Eventing Emerging Program List, Greengard has aspirations of representing the United States internationally.
Bethany Hutchins-Kristen headed into 2023 with hopes of earning the SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year award for a second year in a row on her homebred Geluk HVF, and after a stellar season, including a top-10 finish at the TerraNova CCI2*-L (Myakka City, Florida), she took home the top prize with an 18-point lead.