Competition for the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is in motion at various events across the country. Designed to encourage safe and proper cross country riding, this competition rewards an amateur and a junior from each training division at selected events for demonstrating proper cross country technique. Ten events, one from each area of the country, host the award.
This year the award made its debut on April 20-22 at the Holly Hill Spring Horse Trials. Alexa Ehlers led the junior division with a score of 86, and Bonner Carpenter won the amateur division with a score of 93. The Arrowhead Horse Trials also had two well ridden cross-country rounds. Jude McKenzie won the award in the senior division with a score of 81.5, and Hailey Patno took the junior division with a score of 76. The Otter Creek Horse Trials awarded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to adult amateur Liz Schuman with a score of 76.4, and junior Hayley Rich with a score of 79.2. The Virginia Horse Trials witnessed the highest cross-country score to date. Terry Lockhart won the Merit Award in the adult amateur division with a score of 90.2, and Grace Fulton set the record in the junior division with a score of 94.8. The Woodside Horse Trials hosted a Charles Owen Technical Merit Award on May 25-27, but the final results from the award winners are pending.
Eventers seem to support the Merit Award and appreciate the helpful advice that they receive on their score sheets after their cross country run. Terry Lockhart of Bristow, Virginia and her horse, Just Floor It, are among the supportive winners. Lockhart had never heard of the award before the Virginia Horse Trials. She was shocked and tickled to be the winner.
“For me, it was very emotional,” Lockhart said. “I hadn’t even heard of the award before this event, and it was very gratifying to get an award for something I’d worked so hard at.”
Lockhart also found it helpful to receive a jumping score sheet with scores, comments, and suggestions at the end of the day.
“It was really helpful to get [the score sheet], because we never get that in the jumping phase,” Lockhart said. “We are used to getting a sheet after dressage, but not in jumping. I could feel what they were seeing.”
With ten events offering the Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards, the country wide competition has five awards left. Next up on the list of events hosting a Merit award is the Stuart Horse Trials and the Event at Rebecca Farm, both on the weekend of July 11-15. The last few Merits of the year will be awarded at the Event at Santa Fe, the Kentucky Classique, and the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships.