Sep 29, 2023

Young Horses Stand Out from the Crowd at 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
P.S. I Love You and Alexandra Knowles. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photos

Aiken, SC—September 29— It was a busy day at Stable View Oktoberfest in Aiken, South Carolina as all FEI divisions and a few national divisions kicked off their competition weekend, including the 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships. Both the 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds got their chance to shine down the centerline at the start of the day, with the 7-year-olds also giving their best effort across Michael Vallaincourt’s show jumping track later this afternoon.

P.S. I Love You and Alexandra Knowles In Pole Position in 7-year-old Championship

Alexandra Knowles found herself in a pretty good place after the conclusion of dressage on Friday morning, sitting in first and second in the 7-year-old CCI3*-S Championship with Katherine O'Brien's Irish Sport Horse gelding P.S. I Love You (FSS Correlli Bravo x Woodmount Queen) and her daughter Atticus Knowles-Tatum’s Thoroughbred Boo Radley (Flatter x Lisa B) respectively. Following show jumping, Knowles held onto her lead with “Jerry” on a score of 32.6, and now sits in third with “Nike” with a score of 41.

Her partnership with both horses has been forged on her respect and understanding for each of their quirks.

“Jerry is just an unbelievable show jumper,” Knowles commented, “but he's a little bit temperamental on the flat. He put in a great test today, except for the one moment where he reared. He always just likes to make sure that I'm on my toes. He is particular. You know, he's not the most patient, but he loves treats and he loves naps. So like with that temperament, if he is napping, we wouldn't get him out. But overall, he's a sweet horse. We just respect him and his hind end that way.”

Both of Knowles’ 7-year-old Championship entries are debuting at the level, and she was quite proud of how each of them has performed so far. Jerry was sourced for Knowles by JP Sheffield three years ago, and Nike came to her from her friend and fellow rider Cosby Green.

“I got him as a 4-year-old,” reflected Knowles. “He did race, her grandfather bred him to race, but he wasn’t very good. She took them as a 3-year-old and basically started him and I wanted to buy him, but I was pregnant at the time. And I was like, ‘I don't know if I should be bringing home a horse when I'm pregnant.’ So I waited until I had Atticus and she was about two weeks old and I bought him. And since her name is Atticus, I named him Boo Radley. And I've had him ever since.”

Knowles commented that the show jumping didn’t come the most naturally to Nike, so the pair have spent plenty of time working on developing the horse’s shape. Despite having two down today to drop to third, Knowles was beyond thrilled with his performance.

“He's jumped a bunch of clean rounds at Preliminary. He's also jumped a bunch of clean rounds and Preliminary. He came out here and and jumped really well and had one rail that was for sure mine and one was his, but only by greenness and not by laziness. He certainly tried his heart out out there and I felt like he's really improved this year.”

Moving up from third to second thanks to a double-clear show jumping round was Cornelia Fletcher's Zangersheide DHI Qyaracolle Z (Quinnar Z x Celiacolle Z). The pair go into the final phase tomorrow on a score of 36.8.

Just cross-country remains in the CCI3*-S Championship. The first pair will gallop out of the start box at 9:25 a.m.

Allison Springer and Monbeg Zebedee Make their Mark in 6-year-old Championship

Monbeg Zebedee and Allison Springer.

Leading the division in the 6-year-old CCI2*-S Championship with a score of 28.6 is Monbeg Zebedee (Dignified Van't Zorgvliet x Bolacreane Dolly) the Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Zebedee Group. Allison Springer has had the ride on this USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) graduate since she purchased him from Kitty King off of video in March of last year.

“Richard Picken and Joanie Morris had bought a horse for another client from Kitty and they said it was just like a wonderful experience,” said Springer. “They knew I was looking for a young horse, so they sent me the video of him. Kitty was amazing. I asked her some questions and she sent all the videos I asked for. I had my friend Rebecca Howard, who is a Canadian rider based in England, just go and sit on him to let me know if there were any cold, hard stops, but she liked him a lot. He seemed like he had all of the ingredients to be a great horse for me, but if it wasn’t going to pan out I felt like he would be a super sales horse.”

And that was that- Zebedee made his way to the States to join Springer’s string. He had his first official outing on U.S. soil in May of 2022 and continued to grow and learn as the season went on. Springer took advantage of the YEH classes to help Zebedee adjust to his new career, but she shared that he has been wonderful every step of the way.

“He’s grown a lot since we bought him,” Springer reflected. “He was a tiny little model when he came and now, like typical Irish horses, he’s grown quite a bit. I felt like he was going through some growing pains at Great Meadow this summer. He was still good, he was fantastic cross-country, but I think he is just now getting used to his body. But that is what they do at this age.”

Springer was thrilled with Zebedee’s performance in the dressage this morning, sharing that despite a hectic ring familiarization last night, the young horse settled right into work today.

“He’s just jolly and has a lovely demeanor,” she said. “I was really pleased with his dressage because he went through a phase where his hind end, which is very powerful, almost overpowered his front end for a while. Now he seems to have leveled out a bit. He is just super reliable going into the ring. He really is a fabulous young horse.”

Gabby Dickerson and Top Carrera (Carridam x Cecil), the 6-year-old Hannoverian gelding whom Dickerson co-owns with Roland Millican, sit just behind the overnight leaders with a dressage score of 29.6. In third on a score of 30.7 is Bill and Roslyn Johnson’s 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley Corraghey Diamond (Diamond Roller x Seoladh) ridden by Kim Severson.

Competitors in the CCI2*-S Championship will show jump Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. and then move onto cross-country at 2:03 p.m. to conclude their weekend.

To learn more about the USEF/USEA Eventing Developing Horse Championships please click here.

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