Beginner Novice took center stage on the cross-country course with over 200 competitors tackling Capt. Mark Phillips’ course at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C. on day four of the 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena ®. After the Beginner Novice riders had their chance to cross the finish line, the Boehringer Ingelheim Intermediate riders set out on what would prove to be a difficult track.
Beginner Novice Horse
Amanda Ruane and her own Bally Lord Who, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, maintained their lead in the Beginner Novice Horse division, mastering the track and continuing on their original dressage score of 22.3 to hold top honors heading into show jumping tomorrow.
“He felt so good today. Cross-country is always his favorite phase,” said Ruane. “The biggest thing with him is that he’s 17hh. He’s a big horse, so we need to work on not eating up the time so quickly. A couple of times I had to check my watch and then say ‘Okay, let’s take a breather and tone it down a notch.’ He’s bold and brave, and he’s a really fun ride.”
Beth Stelzleni and Mighty Handsome, a 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Mighty Magic x SPS Whitney) kept their second-place position with a score of 25.8, while Holly Payne-Caravella piloted Benjamin Button, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Classic Alliance x Lively Lady) owned by Kathleen Hall, also maintaining their 25.8 score to remained tied with Stelzeni for second place.
The Beginner Novice Horse division will conclude tomorrow, as horse and rider combinations complete the final phase of competition at 9:50 a.m. in the George H. Morris Arena.
Leah Backus and Diamond of Truth. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Beginner Novice Amateur
After moving up from third place, Leah Backus and her own Diamond of Truth, a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Salute the Truth x Mainways Queen of Diamonds), have taken the lead in the Beginner Novice Amateur division heading into tomorrow’s show jumping phase.
Backus bred Diamond of Truth and has enjoyed bringing him along for the past few years, she said, and was excited to achieve her goal of making it to AECs this year. “I liked going up on the hill so that you could look out over the [cross-country] course,” she said about today’s ride. “When we got up there, my horse kind of looked out over the field, and our course was going pretty well at that point, so it was pretty exciting. For tomorrow, he’s never been in a ring that big, so I think he’ll be excited. He’s enjoying the show scene, so I think he’ll like it, and maybe he’ll perform extra well.”
Despite two time penalties, Diane Zrimsek aboard her own Coronado Charlie, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Bwana Charlie x Pleasure Hunt), sit tied for second place with Nicole Thomas and her own Here N’ Now, an 18-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding.
Kathleen Bertuna and Millye's Mojave. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Beginner Novice Rider
After two phases Kathleen Bertuna and her own Millye’s Mojave, a 12-year-old OTTB gelding (Mojave Moon x Slew the Dragoness) have moved from third to first place in the Beginner Novice Rider division following their clear cross-country round.
Bertuna was happy with her mount’s focus on the fences and said the course encompassed the many tests of horse and rider she’s seen all year. “There were a lot of tests, from the changes in terrain to riding towards and away from the warm up area, towards and away from the barn area, and the difference between the ring and the wet, sometimes muddy grass, up and down the hill—it definitely tested all those facets that we’ve been working on all year in all the different courses and put them all into one big course,” she explained.
After 19 years away from the sport and wanting to return to the sport on a safe horse, Bertuna connected with Millye’s Mojave last November. The Seattle Slew-bred gelding is “just a prince,” she said, and the pair will likely move up to Novice.
“He is wonderful. He takes care of me and has gotten me back into the business very nicely. At the beginning of this season Beginner Novice was looking really big, but now it’s looking more manageable, so I’m hoping that there will be a nice move up in the spring.” For now, she’s just looking to put in an accurate and forward course tomorrow in the show jumping phase.
Kymberly Pullen and Sara Webb’s Homer, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Golden Missile x Zaza), currently sit in second place 1.5 points behind Bertuna, while Amber Duncan and her own Renegade, a 10-year-old paint gelding (Reflecting Merle x Windy’ Rascal Dottie), hold third place.
Carrie Griffen and Feuertanzer ES. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Master Beginner Novice Amateur
Carrie Griffen continues her lead going into the show jumping round tomorrow, clutching first place aboard her own Feuertanzer ES, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Nicholas x Daybreak) on their original dressage score of 23.3.
Robin Barr and her own Tout Fini, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Purge x Firehouse Waltz), maintain their second-place spot with a score of 24.8, while Cindi Moravec and her own Holloway have a new hold on third place after receiving a 27.3. The Master Beginner Novice Amateur division will conclude tomorrow with their final phase of show jumping.
Brynn Hershbine and Cadenza Aria. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Junior Beginner Novice
Brynn Hershbine and Rowan Edmonds both went around the cross-country today without a hitch, so they remain tied for first in the Junior Beginner Novice division. If they both jump double clear tomorrow in show jumping, it will be Hershbine who is named champion as she crossed the finish line closer to the optimum time of 5:02 with Julie Hershbine’s Cadenza Aria, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Turnofthecentury x Whisper). Edmonds, riding Liberty Bell, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Hellion x Beth) owned by Michelle Jones was eight seconds faster.
Rowan Edmonds and Liberty Bell. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Sydney Lee accrued 1.2 time penalties with Sweet Georgia Brown, dropping her from third to fourth. Carson Birdsong moved up into third with Ballygrace Laralai, an 11-year-old Irish Draught mare (Glenlara x Significadre) owned by Brooke Birdsong.
First through sixth are all within a rail of each other, so show jumping could prove to be quite influential as the riders head into the George Morris Arena at 3:25 p.m. tomorrow.
Ashley Stout and Deo Volente. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under
Ashley Stout and her own Deo Volente, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, remain on top of the Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under division following their clear round in the cross-country phase.
Stout commented that today’s ride was a huge improvement from the pair’s two most recent cross-country runs, so she’s pleased with her mount’s effort. “I felt like it went really well. We were a little looky at some fences, but we managed to get over them and push through it and he was very willing with everything. We were actually a little fast – we had a minute left at the third to last jump, so we ended up doing some circles and making it through with four minutes and thirty seconds. I’m super proud of him,” she explained. “My plan [for tomorrow] is to get through without knocking anything down. I’ve looked at the course, and it’s challenging, but not too bad,” she concluded.
Avery Cascarino remains in second aboard Gloria Cascarino’s Dudley Do Right, a 13-year-old gelding, with a score of 20, while Viktorija Petraitis and Our Little Secret, a 15-year-old Arabian gelding owned by the Petraitis Family, continue to hold third place with a score of 25.
Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Boehringer Ingelheim Open Intermediate:
Jennie Brannigan has maintained her first-place lead with Nina Gardner's FE Lifestyle, a 7-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Leo von Faelz x Berina A), as well as jumped from seventeenth to second place aboard Twilightslastgleam, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) after two 0.4 time penalized cross-country runs.
Brannigan has been busy gathering top finishes across multiple divisions throughout the week, and called this afternoon’s cross-county run a success: “Today was good. I ate some Mexican food, took a nap and woke up to watch Lynn [Symansky] and Donner ride at Burghley on the replay, and I was like, ‘alright, let’s go fast.’ And they’re both cool horses—they’re both only 7 years old.”
“I’ve always believed in Twilightslastgleam—he loves cross-country and is a Thoroughbred, so he’s quite natural at it. He’s got a smaller step so there’s a lot of options for doing different strides on this course, so I actually did one set of strides on one horse and one on the other, which is different for me,” she commented.
Brannigan learned that Twilightslastgleam had risen the ranks to first place while she was already on course with FE Lifestyle. “You’re always wondering whether to go for time or not, on FE Lifestyle I knew I was tied for first, but on Twilightslastgleam I wasn’t sure, and then I decided to have a crack at it anyway,” she said. “So we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Both of these are exciting horses for the Gardners, because we need the future, and they are the future, and it’s cool to see them stepping up to the game and into the spotlight,” she concluded.
Charlotte Collier, aboard Parker Collier’s Clifford M, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cristo x Naomi IV), sits in third after finishing with 3.6 time penalties on cross-country, improving her first day rank by two.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Land Rover and Nutrena® is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, this event draws together the best competitors from across the country vying for national titles from the Beginner Novice through the Advanced level. This year's AEC is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, N.C. August 30-September 3, 2017.
The 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover and Nutrena would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Presenting Sponsors: Land Rover and Nutrena, Gold Cup Advanced Title Sponsor: Adequan, Intermediate Division Title Sponsor: Boehringer Ingelheim, Training Level Title Sponsor: Professional’s Choice Platinum Sponsor: Devoucoux Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, Noble Outfitters Silver Level Sponsors: VTO Saddlery, Point Two Air Jackets, Mountain Horse Bronze Level Sponsors: Back on Track, SmartPak, Chronicle of the Horse, Dubarry of Ireland, Stackhouse & Ellis, Auburn Laboratories, FITS, CWD, FLAIR. Contributing Level Sponsors: Eventing Training Online, The Jockey Club, Ovation, Nelson Manufacturing, and Prize Level Sponsors: I Love My Horse, GumBits, Exceptional Equestrian, The Scoring Chix, Horse Hydrator, C4 Belts, Ride Heels Down, Ride Safe, LM Custom Boots.
*Many of these sponsors are in attendance at the AEC with vendor spaces in the USEA Sponsor Village, located directly next to the George Morris Arena at TIEC. Get ready to shop!