Jan 12, 2024

Young Event Horses Shine on the World Stage in 2023

By Kaleigh Collett - USEA Staff
HSH Blake and Caroline Pamukcu jump for the gold medal in front of a packed crowd at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Shannon Brinkman Photography photo

The USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was created with the mission to identify future 4- and 5-star horses, and yet again in 2023, graduates of the program proved that they were up to the task. With historic results secured by YEH grads at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, the FEI Eventing Nations Cups in Poland and Germany, the $60,000 Adequan Advanced Final at the USEA AEC, the Burghley Horse Trials, the Pan American Games, and the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, as well as gracing several USEA year-end leaderboards, the YEH program once again demonstrated that it has played a major role in the production of some of the U.S.’s top mounts.

Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Mai Baum poses with his winnings at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event with rider Tamie Smith and owners Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Perhaps the most exciting achievement on home soil for a YEH graduate last year was Mai Baum’s win at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L in April. Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira), the 17-year-old German Sport Horse gelding bred by Gunter Gerling, wrote his name in the history books when he and rider Tamie Smith became the first U.S. combination to win the event in 15 years. In addition to the championship title, Mai Baum also won the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian for owners Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell.

Mai Baum and Tamie Smith. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo.

As if this incredible feat wasn’t enough, Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF), an 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding bred by Dr. Laurie Cameron, also finished in the top-3 overall and took home the reserve champion title for the CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship in his debut at the five-star level. This would end up being the start of an incredibly successful year for the gelding, who is owned by Deborah Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties, LLC.

Miks Master C and Liz Halliday secured third place overall and reserve champion in the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Two other YEH graduates would round out the top-10 in the CCI5*-L division with Off the Record (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Off the Record Syndicate and ridden by Will Coleman, finishing in seventh place, and Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy), a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding bred in the U.S. by Didi Callahan and owned and ridden by Doug Payne, taking ninth place. A total of six graduates completed the event.

FEI Eventing Nations Cups: Poland & Germany

HSH Blake and Pamukcu on the cross-country course at the LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials on their way to team silver in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S. Libby Law photo

The summer kicked off in spectacular form for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S. As part of the U.S. Eventing Development Tour for the summer of 2023, a team comprised of Jenny Caras, Andrew McConnon, Caroline Pamukcu, and Cassie Sanger fought from start to finish to hold onto second-place in the LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials.

The top individual result for the team came from none other than the 2020 Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Champion and 2022 Holekamp/Turner Le Lion Grant recipient, HSH Blake (Tolan R x Doughiska Lass) and Pamukcu. HSH Blake, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding bred by Justin Burke and owned by Sherrie Martin and Molly Hoff, gave an exceptional performance throughout the weekend, adding just a few time penalties to his dressage score to finish less than two points behind the winner, Austria’s Lea Siegl and Van Helsing P. McConnon also rode a YEH graduate in Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza), an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jeanne Shigo and bred by J. Sneller, who contributed to Team U.S.A.’s silver medal finish.

Mai Baum and Smith on the cross-country course at CHIO Aachen. Peter Nixon photo

Shortly after, the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team comprised of Coleman, Phillip Dutton, Halliday, and Smith brought home another silver medal in the SAP Cup CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen in Germany. Three out of the four team mounts were former participants of the YEH program. Mai Baum secured the highest placing for Team U.S.A. by following up his five-star win in Kentucky with another stellar performance to finish in third place individually with Smith in the irons. Again, Miks Master C and Halliday finished just two spots behind in fifth place. Finally, Off the Record rounded out the star-studded list of graduates that contributed to the team’s podium finish.

$60,000 Adequan Advanced Final at the USEA American Eventing Championships

Miks Master C and Halliday take a well-deserved victory gallop after winning the $60,000 Adequan Advanced Final at the 2023 USEA AEC. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

By mid-year, Miks Master C was becoming a household name when it came to international success. The horse had finished in the top-5 in all four of his international starts so far, but a win had remained just out of reach in 2023. "Mikki" and Halliday entered the $60,000 Adequan Advanced Final at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds (Lexington, Kentucky) favored to win, and they did not disappoint. The pair took a strong lead after dressage on score of 23.1 and would only add a few time penalties and one rail in show jumping to command their wire-to-wire victory. In addition to a whooping $30,000 check and an array of prizes from generous USEA sponsors, Mikki and Halliday were also crowned the USEF Advanced Horse Trials National Champions for the year.

Two other familiar names joined Mikki in the top-10. Off the Record came back with a vengeance after an uncharacteristic placing at Aachen to finish in seventh with Coleman in the tack. Quantum Leap climbed the leaderboard from 27th place after dressage to finish in ninth after two favorable jumping rounds with Payne. Three additional YEH graduates completed the event as well, including Ferrie’s Cello, Camarillo (Chicardo x Rehobeth), the 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding bred by Didi Callahan and ridden and owned by Payne, and Vandyke (Vancouver x Shannondale Willow), the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who was bred by Ms. Deborah Palmer, is owned by The Rico Syndicate, LLC, and is ridden by Allison Springer.

Burghley Horse Trials

Tsetserleg TSF and Boyd Martin at their prep run at Bromont before the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials. Cealy Tetley Photography photo

More U.S. five-star success came in the fall season when Tokyo Olympian and YEH graduate Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall x Thabana), logged another top-10 finish at the level at the Defender Burghley Horse Trials in England. "Thomas," the now 16-year-old Trakehner gelding who was bred by Tim and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm, is a stalwart in the upper levels of the sport and marked his sixth five-star completion at Burghley. After a hard-fought event, the horse added some time on cross-country and a few rails in show jumping with rider Boyd Martin to earn ninth place for owner Christine Turner.

2023 Pan American Games Santiago

HSH Blake and Martin showing off their new hardware in the victory gallop at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Shannon Brinkman Photography photo

The U.S. Eventing Team made their country proud in Santiago, Chile, in October when they brought home individual gold and team silver at the Pan American Games. Yet again, the stars of the show were YEH graduates HSH Blake and Miks Master C. HSH Blake and Pamukcu made their debut representing the U.S. on a senior team and truly capitalized on the opportunity. After dressage, HSH Blake and Pamukcu sat in second place behind fellow teammates Miks Master C and Halliday. A double-clear round on cross-country and a nail-biting finish in stadium with just one rail falling out of the cups would clinch the gold medal for this exciting young pair.

The U.S. Eventing Team accepts their silver medals at the 2023 Pan American Games. Shannon Brinkman Photography photo

Miks Master C and Halliday had a fantastic start to the competition as well, but after a few uncharacteristic rails in show jumping, the pair dropped out of individual medal contention to finish in seventh place. The final phase at the Pan American Games proved to be incredibly challenging for the field, with only one pair, FE Golden Eye and Colleen Loach of Canada, recording a double-clear result. None the less, HSH Blake and Miks Master C’s scores anchored the team’s silver medal result, which was just .1 points behind the gold medal team from Canada.

Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill

Quantum Leap and Doug Payne show jump to eighth place on the final day of the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

To cap off another incredible year of sport, two YEH grads finished in the top-15 at the third edition of the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. Quantum Leap clinched his fifth top-10 performance out of six attempts at the CCI5*-L level by earning eighth place. Ferrie’s Cello closed out a spectacular year as well with his and McConnon’s first five-star completion to finish in 13th place at an event that only saw 54% of the field complete all three phases.

Ferrie's Cello and Andrew McConnon completed their first five-star at Maryland in 2023. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

USEA Overall Year-End Leaderboards

A number of YEH graduates topped the USEA year-end leaderboards in 2023. Miks Master C was the highest placed YEH graduate on the Standlee Horse of the Year Leaderboard, finishing in the reserve champion spot with less than 20 points between him and the champion, Christa Schmidt’s Capitol H I M (Con Air x O-Heraldika), the 16-year-old Holsteiner gelding ridden by Hannah Sue Hollberg. Fellow program graduate Mai Baum was also recognized in the top-10. Miks Master C earned Horse of the Year honors at the Advanced level as well, bringing home even more hardware for owners Ocala Horse Properties, LLC and Deborah Palmer.

HSH Connor and Caroline Pamukcu on their way to winning the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

After a smashing 6-year-old year that included the highest placing ever for an American at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships (France), HSH Connor claimed two leaderboard titles for owners Pamukcu, Luan McElduff, Molly Hoff, and Sherrie Martin in 2023. With Pamukcu in the irons, the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse collected a stunning total of four wins at the CCI3* level, including two shorts and two longs, on his way to winning the Intermediate Horse of the Year and the 7-year-old Horse of the Year title.

HSH Connor has shown great promise from the start, winning the 2020 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 4-Year-Old championship and claiming the East Coast 5-Year-Old Reserve Championship in 2021. Fellow program graduates Invictus (by Diarado), owned by Karen O’Connor and ridden by Mia Farley, Crafty Don (Tolan R x Diamond Breaker), owned by Julianne Guariglia and ridden by Smith, Lincoln’s Address (Union Rags x Sincerely), owned by Evie Dutton and ridden by Phillip Dutton, and Rappahannock (Rosenthal x Sunny Dey), owned and bred by Lynn Berry and ridden by Chris Talley, also graced the 7-Year-Old Horse of the Year leaderboard.

USEA 6-Year-Old Horse of the Year Adorrado and Michael Pendleton. SDH Photography for Erin Gilmore Photography photo

The 6-Year-Old Horse of the Year leaderboard was also full of YEH grads. Adorrado (Adagio de Talm x Chiava), a Holsteiner gelding owned by Kara Angulo, bred by Gripp Torsten, and ridden by Michael Pendleton, won the title after a very successful season that included a win in the Preliminary division at the Virginia Horse Center Eventing Fall and the CCI2*-S division at Great Meadow International (The Plains, Virginia).

That’s Me Z (Take a Chance on Me Z x Venetia), the winner of the 2022 USEA YEH West Coast 5-Year-Old Championship, claimed third place on the 6-Year-Old leaderboard for owners Tommy Greengard and Andrea Pfeiffer. That’s Me Z has been ridden by Greengard for the entirety of his career and was bred by Simons Roeland.

Dassett Evermore (Pullux de Muze Z x Carneyhaugh Troubadour), owned by Plain Dealing Farm, bred by Patrick Breen, and ridden by Benita Strini, Top Carrera (Carridam PJ x Cecil 16), owned by Roland Millican and Gabby Dickerson and ridden by Dickerson, Electric Quality (S Creevagh Ferro Ex Siebe x Tynan Lily), owned by Lisa Takada, Barbara Cassani, and Marley Stone Bourke and ridden by Tim Bourke, and Monbeg Zebedee (Dignified Van’t Zorgvliet x Bolcreane Dolly), owned by The Zebedee Group, bred by Marti Rudd, and ridden by Allison Springer, were also mentioned in the top-10.

SmartPak Stallion of the Year, Geluk HVF and Bethany Hutchins-Kristen. Allison Green for Shannon Brinkman Photography photo

Once again, the SmartPak Stallion of the Year title went to YEH graduate Geluk HVF (Jazz x Bronte HVF), a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion who is owned and ridden by Bethany Hutchins-Kristen. The pair had multiple top-3 placings at the Preliminary and Intermediate levels throughout the year on their way to securing the champion title. All but two of the remaining horses on the SmartPak Stallion of the Year leaderboard also participated in the YEH Program.

Quiberon (Quite Easy x Avalon), the 8-year-old Oldenburg stallion bred by Didi Callahan, who is owned and ridden by Payne, claimed third place. Satin Art (Indian Art x Epic Satin), the 19-year-old Warmblood stallion who is bred, owned, and ridden by Susan Moessner, came in fourth place. Quaden AF (Qredit HTF x Glitter), a 7-year-old Oldenburg stallion owned by the Red Head Synidcate, bred by Matthew Bryner, and ridden by Matthew Lewis, finished in sixth place. Ladino (Stiletto x Lucona), a 9-year-old Trakehner stallion bred by Jean Brinkman, ridden by Andrew Palmer, and owned in partnership by the rider and Patricia Luttgen, secured seventh place. Finally, Dickens of Holme Ranch (Tzigane *Pb* x Holme Grove Devaux), a 9-year-old Trakehner stallion owned and bred by Sandra Wilkes and ridden by Andrew Palmer, ended in eighth place.

Two of the top-10 finalists in the Devoucoux Mare of the Year leaderboard competed in the YEH Program as 5-year-olds, too. The 9-year-old Connemara mare, No May Moon (Catherston Dazzler x Ebony Moon) accumulated 97 points with Springer in the irons this year, including a win in the CCI3*-S at Stable View’s Oktoberfest Horse Trials (Aiken, South Carolina) in September. No May Moon finished in eighth place in this category, as well as reserve champion in the Intermediate Horse of the Year standings, for owner Nancy Winter.

OKE Ruby R (Namelus R x B Termie R 6), finished close on her tails in ninth place with 97 points for owners John and Michelle Koppin. The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare was originally campaigned by Madison Hogan, and Waylon Roberts took over the reins in 2021. Their most notable finishes in 2023 were a win in the Advanced division at The Event at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida) in November and reserve champion in the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (Fairburn, Georgia) in October.

Here's to another year of fantastic success for the graduates of the YEH Program in 2024!

About the 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, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club 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.

About The Holekamp/Turner Grant

Founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm, the Holekamp/Turner Grant provides a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor with the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. With the sole purpose of paving a clear pathway for U.S. team horses to progress in the sport of eventing, recipients who are North American bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500, while imported horses are awarded $8,000. Additionally, The Dutta Corp. offers a prize to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient, consisting of a round trip flight from the Eastern United States to Europe.

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