Jul 04, 2023

Young Horses Take the Spotlight at Twin Rivers Summer H.T.

James Alliston and Karma. Ride On Photo photos

The 2023 Twin Rivers Summer H.T. was highlighted by performances of young horses. From the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse competition that kicked off the event on Thursday to the win by Karma ridden by James Alliston as the youngest horse at the Advanced level on Sunday, the future of the sport of eventing on the West Coast looked bright on a hot weekend in Paso Robles, California.

The top-two finishers at the Advanced level were two special mares in West Coast eventing and the youngest and oldest competing at the highest national level at Twin Rivers. Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell), a 19-year-old British Sport Horse mare, led after a dressage score of 25.5. This was the first Advanced that Jollybo has done at Twin Rivers since 2017—before the mare competed in her first five-star at the Kentucky Three-Day Event that year. Bennett-Awad and Jollybo would go on to represent Canada at the 2018 World Equestrian Games (Mill Spring, North Carolina) and the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships (Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy).

Alliston and Karma (Escudo II x Travita), a 9-year-old Oldenburg mare, overtook Jollybo with a double-clear cross-country round, the only one at the level to jump clear and finish inside the time on the course designed by Morgan Rowsell. The mare added one rail and two seconds of time penalties in show jumping to win with a score of 38.4.

“She’s definitely improving all the time,” Alliston said. “She’s naturally obviously very fast with lots of energy and enthusiastic about her cross-country and her jumping. So that’s nice to have naturally.”

Karma was coming off a strong eighth-place finish in the CCI4*-S at this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Alliston said his short-term goal for Karma would be the CCI4*-L at
The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana, at the end of the month, and the long-term goal would be her CCI5*-L debut at the 2024 Kentucky Three-Day Event.

“There were hard enough fences to make sure we’re awake with the four-long to come, but hopefully it was a nice confidence builder as well,” Alliston said. “She is a warmblood, but she’s a very good galloping warmblood. This [was] a nice, good fitness run here. I went pretty quickly just to bring the fitness along.”

Cobain PJ and Sigourney Jellins.

The event kicked off on Thursday with its first Young Event Horse qualifier on the road to the Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships that will be held at Twin Rivers Ranch on Oct. 27-28.

Cobain PJ (Carridam PJ x Evian), a Hanoverian gelding owned and ridden by Sigourney Jellins, won the 4-year-old qualifier with a score of 83.1, the third-highest 4-year-old qualifying score in the United States so far this year.

“I couldn’t be any happier,” Jellins said. “It’s his first show over here and only his second time away from home. So, he’s just a really cool horse, and I’m really excited about his future.”

Jellins acquired Cobain PJ at the end of March because he’s a full-brother to her 6-year-old Hanoverian mare Catalina PJ that she moved up to the Modified level at the Twin Rivers Summer H.T. Jellins and Catalina PJ won the YEH 5-year-old qualifier at this event last year.

“I loved her so much that I bought the full-brother,” she said. “I let him hang out for the first couple months to hang out and be a horse. I started just doing groundwork with him. He was already under saddle with a breeder in Germany, and I’ve had him under saddle here for a month and a half or so, and he’s fantastic. What a sensible guy and so sweet. He’s kind of one of those horses that thinks everything is easy.”

New Galliard AJK and Amber Birtcil.

New Gaillard AJK (Gaillard De La Pomme x Pikolina), a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Cellar Farm Corp. and ridden by Amber Birtcil, won the 5-year-old qualifier with a score of 87.3, the seventh-highest 5-year-old qualifying score in the U.S. so far this year.

“He’s super to ride,” Birtcil said. “He’s brave. He’s just been lovely to develop.”

Birtcil bought “Gary” (“It suits his personality; he’s a little bit of a goofball,” she said) when he was 2 years old. He remained in the Netherlands until coming to America shortly before the 2022 USEA YEH West Coast Championships, where he finished fifth as a 4-year-old.

“I love it,” Birtcil said about the YEH program. “I think it’s a great introduction for them as far as learning to go in the water and be in the show atmosphere. Especially, I love doing the Championships with the horses. They go up in the big ring with the flags. The jumping is so beautifully decorated. It’s challenging, but it’s inviting for the young horses at the same time. So, any 4- and 5-year-old we have in the barn, we drag them out, and they all get to do a qualifier or the Last Chance Qualifier, and everything we have goes and does the Championships, if nothing else just for the experience, because I think it’s a great way to introduce them to the sport.”

Other highlights from the Twin Rivers Summer H.T. included victory at Intermediate by Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF (Foreign Affair x Fernacchy MBF) with a score of 29.7. It was the first blue ribbon for the 9-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding since the Intermediate championship at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (Kalispell, Montana).

Joshua MBF and Tommy Greengard.

Molly Duda continued her strong 2023 with a win in the Open Preliminary division on her 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Carlingfords Hes a Clover (Polanski x Fourleaf Clover) with a score of 20.2. In 16 competitions this year, Duda has won six times and been in the top-three 12 times at levels ranging from Training to Intermediate/three-star.

Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild (Plot-Blue x Cantana), the 2022 Area VI Preliminary champions, won the Preliminary Rider division with the lowest finishing score of the weekend of 19.5. They also won the Preliminary Rider division at last year’s Twin Rivers Summer H.T.

Adri Doyal designed the cross-country courses from Intermediate through Starter at Twin Rivers. The cross-country building and facilities management teams at Twin Rivers put in extra hours managing the courses in a heat wave. Organizers adjusted ride times in response to triple-digit temperatures, and competitors ensured positive experiences for their horses.

While the West Coast eventing community came together at Twin Rivers during the weekend, two West-Coast-based pairs were representing their countries at the prestigious CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S at the World Equestrian Festival in Germany. Tamie Smith and Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira) followed up their historic victory in the Kentucky five-star by finishing third individually as part of the silver-medal-winning United States team at Aachen. Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II (Vangelis-S x Courtesan), who train out of Twin Rivers and won the Advanced level at the 2023 Twin Rivers Spring International, were part of the Australian team.

“The competition at Twin Rivers and at Aachen shows how strong eventing on the West Coast is,” said Connie Baxter, organizer of events at Twin Rivers. “We’re very grateful for all the riders, volunteers, officials, and sponsors that helped make this weekend a success. We appreciate the support of everyone during an unusually hot weekend, and it was a total team effort. We look forward to the remaining events we’re hosting this year.”

Twin Rivers Ranch will next host the Twin Rivers Fall International on Sept. 21-24. The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships will take place on Oct. 27-28, with a Last Chance Qualifier on October 26. Twin Rivers will also host events that are part of the Young Horse Show (YHS) Series on September 16 and October 26. The YHS/FEH Regional Finals will take place on October 28, combining Future Event Horse and Young Event Horse championships.

The full list of winners from the 2023 Twin Rivers Summer H.T.:

Advanced: James Alliston and Karma (38.4)
Open Intermediate: Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF (29.7)
Open Preliminary: Molly Duda and Carlingfords Hes a Clover (20.2) Preliminary Rider: Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild (19.5)
Open Modified: Anna Pierce and Dreamweaver (39.2)
Open Training: Helen Alliston and Barony (30.2)
Sr. Training Rider: Mackenzie Davison and Lockdown JPL (32.8)
Jr. Training Rider: Ellie Ryhorchuk and Jacobite (28.6)
Open Novice: Grace Brownrigg and Dhaulagiri (31.7)
Sr. Novice Rider: Ashley McCaughan and Excel Star Megawatt (33.6) Jr. Novice Rider: Lauren Klein and Little Ghost (29.7)
Open Beginner Novice: Auburn Excell Brady and Carlo R (31.3) Beginner Novice Rider: Annie Desmond and Little Elf (32.2)
Starter: Daniela Zarate and Lexington DF (33.0)
YEH-4: Sigourney Jellins and Cobain PJ (83.1)
YEH-5: Amber Birtcil and New Gaillard AJK (87.3)

Links Results | Website

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