The 2012 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Bit of Britain, wrapped up today, crowning new and returning national champions and putting to rest the ruthless country-wide competition for another year. After a weekend of varying weather, the temperatures cooled and a light breeze made for a perfect end to the event.
The 2011 Junior Beginner Novice Champions, Logan Elliot and Cady O’ Daly Michael, were victorious for the second consecutive year, this time winning the competitive Novice Amateur division. Logan and her Connemara cross, Mikey, led from start to finish and added no penalties to their dressage score of 21.5, the best finishing score of the entire competition
Choking back tears, Logan said Mikey would do anything for her: “Getting to be here twice and winning it last year after not eventing ever and being able to come again and have such a good horse that can come back and win it two years in a row is just amazing.”
The Novice Amateur reserve champion was Elisabeth Lee and Free Verse, followed by Tanya BeGole and Pardon My French in third.
The Novice Horse title went to Heather Morris and Cherye Huber’s 4-year-old homebred gelding Barnabus. This pair led from the start and finished on their dressage score of 24.0. According to Heather, Barnabus won quite a bit in Florida this year then had a light summer; the plan now is for Cherye to take over the ride on him soon.
Second and third place in Novice Horse went to Lauren DeNeve and Cindy One and Chimene Evans and Fernhill Sam; both of these pairs maintained their original placings after dressage throughout the event.
When Alex Cole and her mount, Pure Revenge, entered the arena as overnight leaders of Novice Junior, they were focused on the task at hand: “He was amazing. There just are not words. I felt like he wanted to win, too, almost. He came into that one arena and he was like ‘alright we are here to do this. We are here to win.’ I could not ask for a better partner.”
Alex and Pure Revenge led the division of 45 starters from the centerline to the finish flags, finishing on a 27.5. Francesca Crichton and Chez Pierre jumped a double-clear round to move up from fourth into the second place position, and a clear round jumped Hailey McLaughlin and Sportsfield Finnegan from fifth into third.
Lauren Weil is another who was champion for a second year in a row. She and Jennifer Tucker’s Thoroughbred mare Commit were reserve champions in Beginner Novice Horse last year when Lauren took first on Ann Edmundson’s Pippen, but Commit came back this year with an eye on the grand prize. They finished on their dressage score of a 29.5 nearly three points ahead of second place Carrie Meehan and Up In Flames. “It was just a dream come true, especially for the last ride that I get on this mare. Gosh, it was perfect,” Lauren said. “She was amazing in dressage, brilliant in cross-country, and completely saved it in stadium. I attribute this one all to her.”
Lauren does a great service to her adult amateur and young rider clients, developing green horses to make them safe and reliable. She says the key is to take it slow, be patient, and listen to what the horses want and need. Now that Commit has some experience under her belt, she will go on to compete with her owner, Jennifer.
Championship honors in the Beginner Novice Amateur division went to Letha Calvin and Look Cody Look, who had the spectators holding their breath as they show jumped a double-clear round to finish on a 25.3. Letha credited her horse with taking good care of her in the ring while she tried to keep her focus and think about the fence in front of her. “He is such a superstar,” she said. “I cannot describe the excitement. I am still processing it.”
Second place in Beginner Novice Amateur went to Sher Schwartz and Jamocean on a 26.7, and third belonged to Hannah Reinke and Aiden Star on a 27.1.
Lauren Weil’s student Katie McCrory had an excellent week competing in Beginner Novice Junior. She won Champion riding her pony My Prince Charming in the division of 81 starters and was also seventh on her other mount, Kentucky Bourbon. Katie and My Prince Charming were also the winners of the Captain Mark Phillips Pony Award. My Prince Charming has been with Katie for six years, teaching her from the ground up with walk, trot, canter, and cross rails. She was thrilled to win a horse trials for the first time at the AEC with her longtime friend.
Second place in Beginner Novice Junior went to Molly Sherman and her pony, Bento Box; they finished on their dressage score of a 29.5. Darragh Looney and CoCo Channel were third, finishing on a 29.5.
This year may have been the last year Chattahoochee Hills hosts the AEC, as next year it moves to Tyler, Texas and the Texas Rose Horse Park, but Carl Bouckaert and his team made sure this year was one to remember. Both the cross-country, designed by Hugh Lochore, and the show jumping, designed by Marc Donovan, kept the competitors on their toes throughout the week; by any stretch of the imagination, this was not a dressage show. The volunteers were priceless and precious in their assistance, time, and appreciation for the sport. Thank you to Carl, organizer JJ Johnson, secretary Rick Dunkerton, the judges, the volunteers, and Chattahoochee Hills’ long list of supporters for a wonderful year of national competition. A big thank you as well to the generous AEC sponsors, who rewarded the riders with exceptional prizes. We hope to see you at the AEC in Texas next year, where for the first time, the national championship will be equidistant from both ends of the USA.
Full scores from the 2012 Nutrena USEA AEC are available at this link.
The 2012 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Nutrena, Bit of Britain, Merial, Charles Owen, Broadstone, SSG, Wise Equestrian, Fleeceworks, World Equestrian Brands, VTO Saddlery, FITS, Auburn Labs, The Chronicle of the Horse, Omega Alpha, Dubarry, Stackhouse Saddles, FLAIR, Saratoga Horseworks, Ovation, SmartPak, Adequan, HoofWraps, Coldflex, Essex, Mrs. Pastures, and Jump4Joy.