Spokane Sport Horse Farm is the only event in the country to host all four levels of the Hylofit USEA Classic Series: Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, and Preliminary. They do so at their Fall Event, which took place this year on October 3-6 in Spokane, Washington. Sonya Françoise, Jodie Willow Maguire, Lorilee Hanson, and Jhett Jenkins all led wire-to-wire in their respective Hylofit USEA Classic Series divisions.
In the Preliminary Three-Day divisions, Sonya Françoise and her 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Two Tickets (Taste of Paradise x Chalk Buster) led on their dressage score of 28.2 through the first two phases and picked up 0.8 time faults in show jumping, maintaining their lead and taking home the win on 29.0.
Françoise says she got into eventing by chance. “When I was 15 I decided I wanted to jump rather than continue in the western/trail ride world,” she said. “The trainer who had the most experience in my area happened to be an eventer, Frances O'Reilly.”
“I competed in my first Classic Series Three-Day last year and had an absolute blast,” Françoise continued. “The challenge of having to get your horse fit enough for endurance day but still work on the rideability for dressage and the precision for show jumping is such a fun process. I knew Benny would love it too (especially the steeplechase) so it was a no-brainer to go for the Preliminary Three-Day.”
Two Tickets, or “Benny” as he is known in the barn, and Françoise teamed up at the beginning of 2018. “He's very brave across the country but gets nervous in the arena (for the dressage as well). It took about one show season to get him to trust me in the dressage and this last season he's finally trusting me in the show jumping. Luckily we get along so well, he has a slightly quirky personality but is kind and just wants to please. He's not the most stylish horse but he really gives me his all and I feel very lucky to have him.”
In addition to taking home the win, Françoise and Benny were also presented with the Best Conditioned Award. “The most important thing to me is keeping my horses healthy and happy so to get that award really meant a lot,” she said.
“Enjoy the process,” Françoise advised. “If possible, take your horse out on the trail to do your conditioning and enjoy the partnership that develops. It is the heart of our sport and both horse and rider can learn so much from it.”
Jodie Willow Maguire and her own Flint and Steel (Prestigious Promise x Beduino Cee), a 10-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, took the early lead on a score of 30.5, added 2 time penalties on cross-country, and picked up a single rail in show jumping to finish the weekend in first on a score of 36.5.
Maguire began riding western at age 4, but the barn she was riding at didn’t have an indoor arena and she wanted to keep riding through the winter. That was when she switched barns and began riding with Sarah Berkowitz. “I was riding a very naughty pony named Holly,” Maguire recalled. “I rode her for four to five years and I never completed an event. She would throw me off every cross-country course!”
Maguire eventually completed her first Introductory level event at Golden Spike and her first Beginner Novice event at Skyline. Then, she met Flint and Steel, aka “Flint.” “I got him the spring of 2018,” Maguire said. “We started by leasing him for a few months before we bought him. He was very different horse than Link, the horse I had before. It took us a while to get used to each other. But once we did, we did one Beginner Novice and then moved up to Novice at Golden Spike.”
Flint and Maguire moved up to Training level this spring, winning their first event at the level at Equestrians’ Institute. Several more top finishes later and they decided to enter the Training Three-Day at Spokane. “We decided to compete at the Training Three-Day because it was an educational experience along with more of a challenge than a normal Training, and the season was going so well,” she said.
“My favorite part of the competition was cross-country because I love Flint’s enthusiasm during cross-country,” she said. “He's so fun and he didn't get tired once, he just kept on going! I also loved steeplechase – it was so fun, but I wish it didn’t have speed faults. Don't be afraid to be 5 to 10 seconds early on roads and tracks, because I was a little late and I ended up getting a couple time faults, but also have so much fun! You will most likely have the best cross-country run ever!”
Lorilee Hanson and Hypnotik (Montego Bay x Trelawny), her 8-year-old Warmblood gelding, took the lead in the Novice Three-Day and never looked back, maintaining their dressage score of 24.9 throughout the competition to take home the win.
A western and saddle seat rider as a child, Hanson was first introduced to eventing by a pair of sisters in the 4-H club she led in the 1980s. “They invited me to come watch them compete and when I saw them go cross-country I was impressed, then I watched the 1984 Olympics and was hooked,” she recalled. “When I was first married, I took jumping lessons until we bought an OTTB. I started eventing him in 1986 and have been eventing ever since.”
Hypnotik, or “Tico” around the barn, is a homebred out of Hanson’s daughter’s Young Rider horse, Trelawny, and by Theresa Cullis’ warmblood stallion, Montego Bay. “I have done most of Tico's training, with help from my instructors, Lexi Lind and Allyson Green,” Hanson explained. “I loved presenting my sparkling white pinto to everyone. It's not easy keeping all that white clean, but when you do, it is impressive. I got so many ‘how do you keep him so clean’ comments. My answer, ‘elbow grease!’”
Having competed in a Training Three-Day previously with another horse, Hanson was eager to repeat the experience. “I have been focusing on moving up to Training this year, but decided to give the Novice Three-Day a go instead as my final competition of the season,” she said.
“Tico started out on the muscle in phase A and phase B (Steeplechase), but settled down in phase C,” Hanson described. “After the 10 minute vet box, when we started phase D, it was like Tico said, ‘What the heck, I thought we were done?’ but by fence 4, he kicked it into gear and was back in the groove.”
“Be sure to participate in all the educational opportunities,” Hanson recommended. “They are informative and interesting, plus it gives you an opportunity to meet your fellow competitors. Also, unless you have a groom, just focus on your Three-Day horse (don't compete more than one). I had a Beginner Novice horse I was also competing and struggled to have time to participate in all the activities. It's a good thing the Beginner Novice horse was dark bay, as his grooming would not have passed the white glove test.”
Jhett Jenkins and Barb Trompeter’s Carnage Minstrel (Clochanard Paddy x Robe Moonlight), a 6-year-old Connemara gelding, scored a 29.1 in dressage and added 6.8 cross-country time penalties to their score for a first-place finish on 35.9.
Jenkins has been riding since birth and got involved in her local Pony Club as a child – that’s where she got her start in eventing. “After a few years I switched to Flying W Stables in Wilson, Wyoming where I still train with Heather Haubrich. I owe all of my knowledge about the sport to her, Marybeth Hansen, Wendy Webb, and the late Wanda Webb – they have given me so much! I have ridden at the Flying W for nearly 10 years and they have seen me through Beginner Novice to my most recent move up to Training level and several horses in between that.”
Carnage Minstrel aka “Carney” was imported by Barb Trompeter in January of 2018 and came from Kentucky to Wyoming, where Jenkins began working with him. “We did one show at Intro level in the fall of 2018 and then moved up to Beginner Novice this June and has had a full and successful season. We decided to do the Beginner Novice Three-Day because we have been on the fence about moving him up to Novice and this was a way to feel like a move up while still making sure he gets confident enough at the Beginner Novice level!”
“[My] advice would be to do your homework and put in the time for your conditioning,” Jenkins said. “Having a horse that recovers well in the 10 minutes box and after cross-country is such a joy and relief. And just have fun! The long formats are such an opportunity for more education about our sport and your horse so to soak up all the knowledge you can!”
“It was an amazing weekend! Spokane Sport Horse Farm does an amazing job and the facility was beautiful. I loved roads and tracks – it was seriously the most beautiful track through the trees and it was so fun to come in and out of the forest! I had my other pony there in the Jr. Training and rode him cross-country before Carney did his endurance so I was able to be completely focused on the task at hand and pony underneath me the whole time we rode. It was a complete dream come true and I can't say thank you enough to everyone who made it all happen!”
Françoise closed with, “A huge thank you to Christel Carlson and all the staff at Spokane Sport Horse Farm for taking on the monumental task of running a Hylofit USEA Classic Series Three-Day. The most enjoyable educational opportunities were offered and wonderful prizes for us lucky enough to win them. This event has been a huge asset to our area.”
About the Hylofit USEA Classic Series
The Hylofit 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 Hylofit USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.
Now available to purchase, the Hylofit system hit the marketplace in 2018. The Hylofit system is the only equine wearable to offer in-ride feedback for horse and rider. Hylofit’s state-of-the-art product is designed to maximize communication between horse and rider, improve training results, and promote the overall health and well-being of the horse. Hylofit unique features include real-time feedback, post-ride insights, rider insights, overall well-being of the horse and rider, zone training, sharing features, video features, weather impact features, and more. The Hylofit system that tracks both horse and rider’s heart rate is comprised of four hardware components, an app for iOS or Android, and an optional app for the iWatch.
Hylofit is generously providing a 10 percent discount for Hylofit products to all USEA Classic Series competitors! Hylofit will also provide 11 Hylofit systems to the high scorers of each USEA Classic Series event at the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
Five Rings Eventing, organizers of the MARS Great Meadow International, is pleased to announce the addition of a Preliminary division to the 2020 event, scheduled for August 20 to 23.
Town Hill Farm in Lakeville, Connecticut (Area I) hosts one horse trials each year at the end of August offering Introductory through Preliminary horse trials as well as USEA Young Event Horse, Future Event Horse, and New Event Horse classes.
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