Two hours south of Canada and five hours east of Seattle lies Washington state’s second largest city, Spokane. “Near Nature, Near Perfect” is Spokane, Washington's motto and near perfect were the winners of the fourth annual Fall Spokane Sport Horse Farm Horse Trials. As summer fades to fall with dropping temperatures, colorful trees, and pumpkin spice, Spokane Sport Horse Farm hosted a USEA Classic Series event with a Training Three-Day (T3D), Novice Three-Day (N3D), and Beginner Novice Three-Day (BN3D) on October 4-7. The ‘near perfect’ winners were Alessandra Allen-Shinn on Mixologeigh, Alexis Larson on PL Diamond’s Inspiration, and Elizabeth Gold on Frigal.
Alessandra Allen-Shinn was introduced to eventing as a pony clubber and riding a Grulla Quarter Horse. “I was addicted, and then I spent the next 15 years trying to convince myself that bartending and working at a diesel shop was interesting enough,” said Allen-Shinn. Trading in the bar for a barn, Allen-Shinn shares how she found her winning mount, Mixologeigh, an off-the-track-Thoroughbred sourced from Leigh Gray at Thoroughbred Rehab Center in Southern California. “Mixologeigh and I met when I started working for Jil Walton, who like me, is a huge Thoroughbred fan. I have so far managed to keep the ride thanks to a sponsorship from ChubbyCov.”
“It was a fabulous weekend and my favorite part of the three-day was the second lap of steeplechase and that he dragged me around cross-country!” Allen-Shinn went on to describe Mixologeigh, or Mixio for short, as “a superhero” on the final day.
A passionate course designer, a Thoroughbred lover, and a dedicated competitor at Spokane H.T., Allen-Shinn explained, “I have been to almost every event at Spokane Sport Horse Farm and it’s one of my favorites. I especially love that Christel [the owner of Spokane Sport Horse Farm] is so willing to support eventing. Not only was it a great experience for Mixio, but also the long format morphs my ideas on course design.”
“After all, jumping a horse on cross-country after steeplechase is incomparable.”
Some girls dream of becoming the homecoming queen or having their high school crush ask them to the school dance, but not Alexis Larson, the winner of the Novice Three-Day at Spokane Horse Trials. Choosing between high heels and helmets, Larson is happy she competed the weekend of October 4-7. “I had to choose between my freshman homecoming dance or the Spokane [Horse Trials]. I’m so glad I made the choice I did,” said Larson.
Barely reaching the double digits in horse hands, Larson learned to ride on a 10hh pony named Belle. The first blue ribbon Larson earned was when she was three years old in a lead line class aboard Belle. “I still have my blue ribbon,” Larson said with a smile. “I tried other sports, but nothing compared to my passion for riding.”
“I have high hopes for our future,” Larson said of PL Diamond’s Inspiration, an Irish Sport Horse mare that Larson’s mother, Malia Larson spotted in an online ad as a two-year-old filly. Now at six years old, PL Diamond’s Inspiration, also known as Izzy, has added a wire-to-wire win to her record. Resting on their dressage score, Larson and Izzy were victors of the Novice Three-Day. “[Izzy] has proved to be extremely brave and she is one of the most athletic horses I’ve ridden. In just a short few months, we’ve developed a very strong bond together.”
The top reason why Larson made the decision to ditch the dance was because of endurance day. “My favorite part had to be the phases on Saturday - roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country, because I love jumping out in the field and letting her gallop.”
A road with twists, turns, and bumps; all the pieces came together for Elizabeth Gold and Frigal as they led the Beginner Novice Three-Day from start to finish on a 27.9. “This was the first show where we finally put it all together and I finished on my dressage score!” emphasized Gold.
Frigal (pronounced Free-gall) who is known around the barn as Muchi (pronounced Mookie) can blame his German upbringing for the name pronunciations. Gold explained how she found the 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding, “Michele Pestl and I found Frigal in Bavaria [as] a 7-year-old stallion. I gelded him in Germany and imported him. He was extremely green and so initially my trainers, Marc Grandia and Allyson Green, did most of the showing, but I did a bit until an ‘unplanned dismount.” With the unplanned dismount resulting in a broken arm, Green helped to restart Frigal and get Gold back in the tack.
Back and better than ever, Gold’s favorite part of her winning weekend was split between endurance day and the educational opportunities. “We had our best round ever and easily made the time. I also really appreciated the educational opportunities the day before the competition. The steeplechase lesson with Wayne Quarles was really helpful.”
As for their future goals, Gold shared “I hope I’ll get to try a Novice Three-Day next year!”
Congratulations to the Classic Series winners: Elizabeth Gold, Alexis Larson, and Alessandra Allen-Shinn!
About the USEA Classic Series
The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long format three-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long format three-day event.
Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events and will also be entered in a drawing held at the USEA Year End Award Ceremony for a year’s supply of SmartPak supplements and a custom fitted Stackhouse and Ellis saddle. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.
How competitive have your Novice results been? What’s a good final score? What’s a good dressage score? What does it take to win? In our third installment of this series, EquiRatings showcases the Novice level. Use these graphs and statistics to help evaluate your Novice game.
Conditioning makes the horse fit and increases his endurance performance with less wear and tear on feet and legs. The idea is to work his heart and lungs in short intervals, let him recover a bit, then work him again. The following schedule for Training level horse provides an introduction for the horse and rider at the lower levels to the principle of interval training.
Within their first few years of being born, young horses have the opportunity to get a taste of U.S. Eventing through the USEA’s young horse programs. The USEA Future Event Horse Program (FEH) evaluates the potential of yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds under saddle to become successful upper level event horses while the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) evaluates the potential of 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds to become successful upper level event horses.
If your farm has the space to set up a cross-country schooling course, it can be to your advantage to have cross-country jumps available for schooling purposes. Safety should be the number one priority when designing and building cross-country jumps, and an expert should be consulted whenever possible.