The first of the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) East Coast Champions were crowned today at the FEH East Coast Championships held at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland. Eight colts and fillies were presented to judges Robin Walker and Lori Hoos in the FEH 4-year-old Championship, while the 3-year-old division was split into two sections: a FEH 4-year-old Colt Championship consisting of eight colts, and a FEH 4-year-old Filly Championship consisting of ten fillies.
In the 4-year-old division, the entrants were ridden under saddle at a walk, trot, and canter, before being stripped of tack for the judges to assess their confirmation. Each horse had five trips through the jump chute under the watchful eye of Martin Douzant and his team of professional handlers.
Setting the bar high as the first to compete in the 4-year-old Championship after receiving marks worth an overall score of 83.65, Ronald Zabala-Goetschel’s Anglo-Arab filly Wise Ravissant Du Defey (Wonderboy Stal Ghyvan x Simpar) was named the Overall Champion in the FEH East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship. “All of my horses are special to me, but this filly is very, very special because we lost her dam,” he shared. Zabala-Goetschel had three entries in the 4-year-old Championship, all presented by handler Martin Douzant, and he shared that the two fillies in the division are full twins.
“They were the last two oocytes we pulled from Simpar,” said Zabala-Goetschel. “All that pure eventing blood [that is in Wise Ravissant Du Defey’s pedigree], it was not a coincidence, it was really pure breeding for that purpose, for eventing,” he shared. “She’s very quiet and friendly, she’s a laid-back filly. She was easy to break, we just started riding her a month ago. She’s been under tack maybe ten times,” Zabala-Goestchel said of his winning filly. “I go slow with my horses, I don’t like to jump them until they are seven years old. I think she’ll be doing the upper levels when she’s nine or ten, so why rush it?”
Reserve honors in the FEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship were awarded to Whitney Digney’s Oldenburg filly Dark Angel d”Avalon (Dracula d”Avalon x Chanel d”Avalon) who closed out the day on a score of 82.075. This was Dark Angel d”Avalon’s second appearance at the FEH Each Coast Championships, having been awarded 4th place in the 3-year-old Championship in 2020.
“Kathy St. Martin posted a picture of her when she was a week old, and I literally bought her from the picture,” reflected Digney. “We drove out to pick her up when she was nine months old. It wasn’t my plan to think that I had an upper-level event horse, but it’s a great program to get people to do things with young horses. When asked what it meant to her to have her horse be awarded the Reserve Champion title, Digney teared up. “It means a lot to me, but I’m thrilled for Kathy and her program. [Dark Angel d”Avalon’s] sister was the Central FEH Grand Champion for 4-Year-Olds last year, so it validates the success of this cross and [Kathy’s] breeding program. It’s fun to support a U.S. breeder and be successful.”
Rounding out the top three with a cumulative score of 81.1 was 2020 USEA FEH East Coast Grand Champion, Emeraude Sharer's Holsteiner filly Knuit d’Emeraude.
In the largest field of the weekend’s competition, entries in the FEH East Coast 3-year-old Championship were presented in hand to the judges. The colts and fillies’ conformation was first scored by the judges, followed by walking and trotting the triangle in hand. Before all entrants displayed their talent in the jump chute, they cantered at liberty for the judges as well.
Rising to the top of the pack with a score of 85.325 was Monica Fiss Burdette’s Thoroughbred filly Miss Roxy (Noble Mission x Macaabra). The Thoroughbred filly, who raced as a 2-year-old, was crowned FEH 3-year-old Filly Champion and Overall 3-year-old Champion. Since transitioning to her new career as a sport horse, Fiss has ridden Miss Roxy lightly at home and introduced her to a bit of over fences work.
“I didn’t want to push it too much too soon since she’s young still,” Fiss reflected. “She loves having a job. She can be pretty relaxed, but then she can be a bit tuned in. Especially when it’s jumping, she sees those jumps and she loves it. That enthusiasm for her new career today was apparent in the jump chute as she displayed exceptional form and athleticism. Impressed with the filly’s jump style and overall quality, the judges awarded ‘Roxy’ a 90.75, the highest jumping marks for the day, and commented that the filly seemed to have springs in her feet.
The afternoon’s Overall Reserve Champion for the FEH East Coast 3-Year-Old Championship was awarded to the FEH 3-year-old Colt Champion in the division, Wise Master Zaphiro (Wise Quick Silver x Master Ruby). Bred and owned by Zabala-Goetschel, the bay Thoroughbred colt is a returning competitor to East Coast FEH Championships and was awarded Reserve Champion honors in the 2019 Yearling Championship. For the 2021 FEH East Coast 3-year-old Championship, Wise Master Zaphiro received a 82.76 from the judges.
“He was great, I’m really happy with him. He’s not easy, he’s funny and spicy, very athletic,” explained Zabala-Goetschel. While he has high hopes for the colt’s competitive career as an eventer in the future, Wise Master Zaphiro has a special place in the Zabala-Goetschel household. “When my wife and I were dating, she said to me, ‘if you ever want to get married, you have to give me a horse, not a ring.’ So I gave her this colt when he was born, then two years later, she asked for a ring!”
Third place went to Marcia Brody and Julie Pifer's Cleveland bay filly Magnific C'Imagination who judges awarded an overall score of 80.568.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's coverage for the FEH East Coast 2-year-old and yearling Championships!
The USEA introduced the Future Event Horse Program in 2007 in response to the popularity of the already established USEA Young Event Horse Program. Where the YEH program assesses 4- and 5-year-old prospective event horses based on their performance, the FEH program evaluates yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. Yearlings, 2-year-olds, and 3-year-olds are presented in-hand while 4-year-olds are presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated on their conformation. Divisions are separated by year and gender. At the Championships, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential over fences in an additional free-jump division. Click here to learn more about the Future Event Horse Program.
United States Eventing Association (USEA) members at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention were in for a treat on Friday as the U.S. Eventing Team was on hand to discuss their accomplishments this year at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.