It was another year of growth for the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) in 2011. The USEA YEH East Coast Championships were in their seventh year and were held at Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland. The USEA YEH West Coast Championships were in their third year and were held at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California. The results from the two championships correctly predicted the outcome for the future stars of the sport. Four out of the top six finishers on the East Coast, and two out of the top three finishers on the West Coast went on to compete at the highest levels of eventing.
This well-established program has seen many horses go through its doors, but more importantly, there are several horses that have fulfilled the program’s mission to become successful upper-level event horses. The 2011 YEH 5-year-old graduate horses who went on to reach the highest levels of eventing include Royal Tribute, DB Cooper, D.A. Bjorn, Topgun, Happenstance, Indy 500, Covert Rights, Mai Baum, Flagmount’s Nightcap, Infinite Truth, Someday Never Comes, Maxwell Smart, Epona, Astro, Special Ops, San City, and Lopster.
The 2011 YEH 5-year-old East Coast Champion was Royal Tribute (Royal Prince x Firstar), an Oldenburg gelding owned by Kirsten Burgess at the time and ridden by Doug Payne. The Oldenburg gelding was also a USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) graduate and won every YEH and FEH competition he competed in. After winning the 2011 YEH East Coast Championships, Royal Tribute, who is now owned by Cynthia Corso, successfully competed up through the Intermediate level with Payne. His last even was in 2013 at Plantation Field H.T. where he jumped clear on cross-country in the Intermediate division.
Finishing fourth in the 2011 USEA YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships was DB Cooper, a Holsteiner gelding owned by C.S. Equestrian who was first ridden by Kylie Lyman. Lyman competed him up to the Preliminary level and in 2014 Kyle Carter acquired the ride and competed him up to the Intermediate level. The following year, in 2015, Dasha Ivandaeva started competing DB Cooper and he did his Advanced debut in 2019 at Rocking Horse H.T. Now, the 15-year-old gelding is competing at the lower levels with Stephen Fulton and the pair recently finished fourth at the 2021 Sporting Days H.T. in the Beginner Novice division.
The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, D.A. Bjorn (Vittorio x Lipita) ridden and owned by Debbie Adams finished right behind DB Cooper to finish fifth at the 2011 Championships. After Championships, D.A. Bjorn and Adams had several successful seasons at the Preliminary level and moved up to Intermediate in 2013. Their last Intermediate completion was at Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. in 2013 where they finished fifth.
Rounding out the top six at the 2011 YEH 5-year-old East Coast Championships was Topgun (Buskhill Gunnar x Wait for the Will) a Dutch Warmblood gelding who was ridden by Matt Flynn and is now owned by Nicole Carolan. Following Championships, Topgun successfully competed at the Preliminary level with three separate riders - Nicole Carolan, Doug Payne, and Sinead Maynard. In 2015, Maynard moved him up to the Intermediate level and the pair had two successful seasons competing at the Intermediate/CCI3* level.
In 2011, the USEA also hosted a YEH West Coast Championships at the Twin Rivers Fall H.T. Out of the top three, two horses went on to compete very successfully at the Advanced level. The YEH 5-year-old West Coast Reserve Champion was Happenstance (Hunter x S’Brina) a Holsteiner gelding bred by Mary Webster, owned by Mary Mckee, and first ridden by Kelly Prather. Following Championships, Happenstance competed up to the Advanced level with two riders - Matt Brown and James Alliston. Happenstance was very competitive with both riders at the upper levels and finished in the top three 20 times. His last three outings were in 2017 with Alliston and he won all three - he won the CCI4*-L at Galway Downs International, the CCI4*-S at Woodside International, and the Advanced division at Twin Rivers Spring H.T.
Finishing third, closely behind Happenstance was the 15-year-old Thoroughbred mare ridden and owned by Andrea Baxter, Indy 500 (Cromwell x Tensofthousands). The 15-year-old mare first started her eventing career with YEH and competed as a 4-year-old. She competed in a total of 6 YEH competitions and finished in the top four every time. After graduating from the YEH program, Baxter and Indy 500 have racked up countless top finishes at the Advanced level.
They have been competing at the Advanced level for nine years and have completed some of the toughest events in the world. They successfully completed the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L three times (2017, 2018, and 2019) and have competed at Burghley Horse Trials twice (2017 and 2018).
Another five-star event horse who graduated from the YEH program in 2011 is Covert Rights (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get It Right) a 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden, owned, and bred by Colleen Rutledge. The pair had a competitive career straight out the gate as they finished fifth in the USEA YEH 4-year-old Championships in 2010 and seventh in the 5-year-old Championships in 2011.
Two years later, in 2013, Covert Rights won his Advanced level debut at Millbrook H.T. and has been competing at the Advanced/CCI5*-L level ever since. He successfully completed Burghley in 2015 and has competed in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event three times (2015, 2018, and 2021).
Another highly competitive event horse who graduated from the YEH class of 2011 is Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira) a 15-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, and ridden by Tamie Smith. Mai Baum 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.
Mai Baum and Smith helped secure the team gold medal for the U.S. at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and the pair recently had a very competitive finish at the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event where they finished ninth overall.
A total of 19 horses competed in the YEH 5-year-old division at Rebecca Farm in 2011 and another top finisher was Flagmount’s Nightcap (Flagmount’s Freedom x Memorial Cap) an Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Colette Green and bred by Bruce Davidson. Ridden by Kelly Prather at the time, Flagmount’s Nightcap finished seventh in Rebecca Farm’s YEH 5-year-old division at Rebecca Farm. Since graduating from YEH, Flagmount’s Nightcap has been successful at the Intermediate/CCI3* with two riders - Kelly Prather and John Michael Durr. Prather and Flagmount’s Nightcap won the Intermediate at Poplar Place and Plantation Field in 2014. Several years later, Durr and Flagmount’s Nightcap finished third in the CCI3*-S at River Glen and second in the Intermediate at Chattahoochee Hills in 2019.
Infinite Truth (Salute the Truth x Princess J) is a Thoroughbred gelding owned by Anne and Liz Riley also competed successfully at the upper levels with multiple riders. The YEH graduate competed in the YEH 5-year-old competition at Jersey Fresh in 2011 and since then he has competed at the Intermediate/CCI3* level with three different riders - Liz Riley, Gabby Dickerson, and Meagan Bingham. He also competed at the Advanced level with Liz Riley in 2015.
Seven additional horses who graduated from YEH in 2011 that competed at the Intermediate/CCI3* level include Someday Never Comes (Frenchman x Dau Dau de Dau) a Selle Francis mare bred by Maute Horse Farm and ridden and owned by Sam Kelly; Maxwell Smart (Windfall x Millenium) a Trakehner gelding owned by Connie Dunham; Epona (Escudo I x Farewell Columbia) a Hanoverian mare owned by Alexandra Scannell; Astro, a Thoroughbred gelding sired by Comet Shine, owned by Randy Nunnik and ridden by Kristi Nunnik; Special Ops, a Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Stacie Ostasz; San City (San Remo x SPS Bounty) a Hanoverian stallion owned by Linda Crabtree and bred by Marefield Meadows; and Lopster, a Thoroughbred cross gelding sired by Tripple Pro, owned by Tracey Tucker, and ridden by Lauren Tucker.
Congratulations to all the YEH graduates and stay tuned for the next class – the class of 2012! To look back at previous YEH Yearbooks, click here.
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, and 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.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S at the Strzegom Horse Trials (Poland) from June 21-25, 2023. The team will be under the direction of USEF Eventing Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is excited to announce the launch of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) New Judge Education Program. Qualifying candidates, who are no longer required to hold a USEF judge’s license, will be encouraged to sign up to participate in the YEH New Judge Education Program to receive certification to judge the Jumping and Galloping phases of Young Event Horse competitions.
USEA podcast host Nicole Brown is joined by Dr. Barry Miller of the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab and Catherine Winter of Ride EquiSafe for an important, informative, and engaging discussion about helmet safety. For more than a decade, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has investigated helmets in football, cycling, equestrian sports, and more, collecting more than 2 million data points related to injury and biomechanics research.
If a horse doesn’t have a proven eventing record, those interested in finding their next eventing partner must use other criteria to evaluate a horse’s potential in the sport. Understanding and appraising a horse’s conformation can be a way to look into a crystal ball for that horse’s future suitability for eventing.