As the 2017 season draws to a close, riders all over the country are competing in long-format USEA Classic Series events as the culmination of their fall season. Hagyard Midsouth Horse Trials at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, hosted both a Training Three-Day as well as the only Preliminary Three-Day in the country at their event on October 18-22, 2017. Eleven pairs contested the Preliminary Three-Day, while the Training Three-Day saw 29 horse-and-rider combinations.
Fourteen-year-old Makayla Rydzik of Ontario, Canada and her own Fluorescent Adolescent, a 9-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare, ultimately came out on top of the Preliminary Three-Day. The pair were in sixth after dressage on a score of 35.5 and moved up into the lead after an influential endurance day. Rydzik didn’t have a rail in hand going into the final phase, but she put in the only clean ride of the division to secure the win.
Rydzik has always loved being around horses, and received riding lessons as a Christmas gift when she was five years old. “Jessica Phoenix recommended Dreamcrest, owned by Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz,” said Rydzik. “I rode my first horse, Milo, to Training level and purchased Fluorescent Adolescent, aka “Lacey” in December 2016.” Lacey was bred by Kelly Plitz.
Makayla Rydzik and Fluorescent Adolescent, winners of the Preliminary Three-Day. Photo courtesy of Makayla Rydzik.
After discussing next steps with her coach, Ian Roberts, Rydzik made the decision to compete in the Preliminary Three-Day event as he thought it would be a good learning experience for them both. “Lacey and I have had a very strong connection from the start,” said Rydzik. “Lacey is a special mare and the best partner I can ask for. I didn’t think our connection could be any stronger but after doing the Hagyard Midsouth long format event I trust her even more.”
“My favorite part was definitely the steeplechase,” said Rydzik. “Going 600 meters-per-minute and jumping eight fences was a blast. I learned that no matter what my horse would always try and make sure we got to the other side of each jump together.”
“I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers for making my experience at Hagyard Midsouth one I will never forget,” Rydzik concluded. “I would also like to thank my coach Ian Roberts and everyone that helped me through the week.”
Makayla Rydzik and Fluorescent Adolescent competing in the Preliminary Three-Day at Hagyard Midsouth. Video courtesy of RNS Video Media.
Michael Nolan and John Kerr’s Bad Moon Rising, a 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, were the winners of the Hagyard Midsouth Training Three-Day. The pair stalked the leaders all weekend, moving from fifth place after dressage into fourth after a double clean endurance day and claiming the win by a fraction of a point with a double-clear show jumping round on the final day of competition.
Michael Nolan and Bad Moon Rising. Xpress Foto Photo.
Nolan grew up riding ponies in Ireland, mostly doing show jumping but he was also in Pony Club so had some exposure to eventing. He began to show jump competitively in college and was ultimately offered the opportunity to show jump some of Suzanne Maguire’s eventers with Tomgar Sport Horses, and ran in his first recognized event in the summer of 2013. “That winter I came to the United States to ride with Robin Walker for a few months to learn during our off-season in Ireland,” said Nolan. “I did one more year in Ireland and I've been working for Robin since then.”
Robin Walker and Kara Andrew bough Bad Moon Rising off the track as a 2-year-old and he ran his first event in the spring of 2016. He qualified for the Young Event Horse Championships at Fair Hill that year, where he placed eighth overall and was the top-placed off-the-track Thoroughbred. With Nolan in the tack, Bad Moon Rising moved up to Training level this spring with the goal of competing in the Training Three-Day at the end of the year.
“We aimed him at the Training Three-Day to hopefully set him up for an easy move up to Preliminary next year,” said Nolan. It was Nolan’s first long format event, as well as Bad Moon Rising’s. “You find out so much about your horse when doing the Three-Day, like how the handle the stamina aspect and the challenge of show jumping on Sunday after a really long and tough Saturday. It's nice to learn some of this before CCI* level.”
Michael Nolan and Bad Moon Rising all decked out in their winnings from the Training Three-Day. Photo courtesy of Michael Nolan.
Nolan acknowledged that a huge aspect of success in a long format event is fitness. “I think you need a pretty fit horse. It's a lot of roads and tracks and a seven-minute cross-country course which is a lot different to the regular Training level you would do at another event.”
“I’d like to thank the whole team at Maute House Farm, specifically Robin Walker and Kara Andrew for finding him, his current owner John Kerr, McKena Knott for riding him up to the event while I was competing at Fair Hill International, and Robin Walker for his coaching." said Nolan.
View the complete results from the competition by clicking here.
About the USEA Classic Series
The thrill of the 'chase lives on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic long format three-day event!
Long-format events from the Beginner Novice to Preliminary levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. Educational activities are offered at the Classic Series Events. Visit the USEA Classic Series page to learn more about the Series and see upcoming classic format events in your area, and check here to see if you are qualified!
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the USEA Classic Series Event winners have the opportunity to compete for a variety of prizes including SmartPak engraved halters and leadshanks; the chance to win a year of SmartPaks; Point Two Air Jackets; online subscriptions to Eventing Training Online; USEA logowear; Fleeceworks saddle pads; and Stackhouse Saddles!