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.
This is it! The weekend we've all been waiting for is finally here - the return to competition has arrived! After nearly three months of suspended competitions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the country and the world, riders are shining up their boots and preparing to trot down the centerline. While our "new normal" will certainly look different than things did before the pandemic, these new regulations are in place for all our safety.
The return to competition upon us! This week on the show Nicole Brown is joined by Sinead Halpin Maynard to talk about how you can make sure you and your horse are prepared to get back to competing.
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