Champions Emerge at the 2013 Nutrena USEA AEC

Winners of the Open Intermediate Division, Bonner Carpenter and Basco.
Winners of the Open Intermediate Division, Bonner Carpenter and Basco.

Today the first champions were crowned at the 2013 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by VTO Saddlery. Training through Intermediate competitors gave their best efforts over fences in show jumping while the Novice and Beginner Novice took to the galloping lanes.

The big news of the day is the officials were forced to delay the grand finale of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Championship due to severe weather this evening. As soon as the Intermediate division completed the awards ceremony, horses, riders, and spectators were seeking cover as the black clouds drew closer over the tree line. After much thunder and cracking lightning, it was formally announced that the Advanced Championship would proceed with show jumping at 7:45 a.m. Sunday. It presents some problems as many Advanced riders find themselves rearranging their departure schedules, but it was without a doubt the right decision for the sake of safety.

“At the end of the day, the horses have to come first,” said Michael Pollard (GA), who is competing Mensa G in the Advanced division. “We probably could have gotten it in, but as big a class as that is and as important as that is, it would be crazy for the last couple people to feel like they didn’t have the right light.”

Intermediate Championships
It came down to the wire in the Open Intermediate Championship division, which started with 25 competitive pairs. Though Pollard took the initial lead with his wife Nathalie’s grey mare Schoensgreen Hanni, they gave it up on cross-country with just a few seconds too many over the optimum time. Bonner Carpenter (TX) took the lead then, but Pollard kept the pressure on with a double-clear show jumping round over a tough course built by Richard Jeffery. When Bonner entered the ring, she knew she could not afford a rail, but she had faith her horse Basco.

“It was probably the best weekend he’s had from start to finish,” Carpenter said. “He’s normally a really good show jumper but I really was trying not to think about that because I didn’t want to jinx myself. I was just trying to think about riding how I normally ride him and having a good canter and letting the fences come to me and making sure I had enough power and riding forward.”

Carpenter and Basco have only been partnered for a year, but she says she has never bonded with another horse quite like she has with him. Her trainer Heather Morris saw him in Europe and knew he was perfect for her student. Morris said later that she was very proud of the pair and that Carpenter rode the course really well. Carpenter said the horse knows he won, and based on his high energy back at the barns, is very proud of himself, too.

Second place Michael Pollard had two great Intermediate rides with Schoensgreen Hanni and Cheyenne Blue, leaving all the rails in the cups despite riding with an injured ankle. Yesterday on cross-country, his foot got caught between a jump and a horse and twisted it rather badly. “I found a good spot in the stirrup where I could put the foot where it didn’t hurt.” He joked that being really sore keeps you from thinking too hard about the jumping.

“Hanni was as reliable as ever. She’s such a good horse in all three phases and didn’t disappoint today,” Pollard said. “[Course Designer Richard Jeffery] has probably been doing it longer than anybody and does a great course. Ultimately the standard that he sets, and Marc Donovan also, is the types of courses I think we need in the sport. They’re up to height, they reward good riding. You never feel like there is anything tricky, but everything is a question and you have to ride properly for the horses to jump well. And if you make a mistake at one fence, it may not hurt you there, but it affects you in some of the others.”

Pollard hopes that the sport continues to use designers like Jeffery and Marc Donovan, who have roots in pure show jumping design to continue to better prepare the U.S. for overseas competition. “I’ve seen a big difference in the show jumping over the last two years. There are more places that have really good show jumping course design. Certainly Richard is a big part of that which is influencing the technical aspect.”

Frankie Thieriot (CA) and Tory Smith’s Uphoria clung to their good positions this weekend. They moved from second to fourth after cross-country, but Thieriot worked hard for a clear round today and crossed the finish just one second over the time, which was good enough for third place.

Preliminary Championships
The footing in the jumping ring was a mucky mess after a deluge that brought the show to a screeching halt this afternoon. Though the fences were broken down and dragged before start of Intermediate, the Preliminary competitors had to slightly alter their plan of attack to work around the puddles. Those that were happy to get messy and really attacked the course had the best trips.

Elizabeth New (TX) and Uppercrust D laid down a gorgeous clear round to under pressure to become the Junior Novice Preliminary Champion on a score of 25.7. Reagan Lafleur (LA) produced two of the four double-clear rounds in the division to finish Reserve Champion with Tawney and sixth with Orient Des Touches. Nicole Baronne (LA) and Double Rivers Spinnaker worked her way up the leaderboard from an initial 13th position to third overall.

Kimberly Keeton (GA) also led her division, Senior Preliminary Amateur, from start to finish. She and Hope Thomas’s Accolade added 0.4 time penalties on cross-country and four penalties today in show jumping, but the Warmblood stallion put in an overall excellent performance for a final score of 34.4, well ahead of the pack. Darlene McInnes (CO) and Warlord were second with a 45.0, and Janet Marden (TX) finished third overall with Flagmount’s Amazing Grace.

Beatrice Rey-Herm's Tout de Suite adds another win to his record, this time as Preliminary Horse Champion with Leslie Law (FL) in the irons. They won handily on a score of 23.7. In second with a 30.1 was Rochelle Costanza (CO) and Lionhart. Clayton Fredericks and Sorrento round out the top three with a 32.6.

Training Championships
Madeline Backus, a 17-year-old from Colorado, led the Junior Training from start to finish on her homebred P.S. King of Hearts, owned by her mom Laura Backus. Rails were not uncommon in the division, and so Madeline had some breathing room to forgive their one rail. They are the 2013 Junior Training Champions on a score of 34.0. Reserve Champion honors go to Zoey Gudger (IL) and Jiminy Cricket, who also pulled a rail, but retained second place on a score of 35.4. Third place went to Sam Kelly (MN) and Apres Ski with a score of 35.8.

In the Senior Training Amateur division, Beth Weisberger (OH) and R. Hocus Pocus took top honors, moving up from fifth after dressage with two double-clear rounds over fences. They finished on a score of 32.7. Susan Sulentic (TX) and Just Do It will be very pleased with a Reserve Champion finish, having started the competition tied for 15th. The pair posted on of very few double-clear cross-country rounds (remember time penalties were abundant) to move up to fourth. Another double-clear round today moved them up another two places to finish on their dressage score of 34.6. Rounding out the top three in the division is Kate Shoemaker (OK) and Pacifec M, another to move well up the leaderboard with good jumping rounds.

Tamra Smith (CA) and Sunsprite Syrius had a rail in hand going into show jumping today, and it turned out they needed it. Adding those four faults, they finished with a score of 27.6, but they are this year’s Training Horse Champions nevertheless. Kyle Carter (FL) and Serengeti moved from third to the Reserve Champion position, and Leslie Law (FL) and Unborn de Lelo, owned by Beatric Rey-Herme, was third with 29.1.

Open Novice Championships
Show jumping is still to come for Novice and Beginner Novice competitors, who got their chance at Captain Mark Phillips’s cross-country course today. Olivia Brashear (TX) and Apple Jack bested a field of 41 to take the lead in Junior Novice after dressage, and they held onto that lead with a clear round across the country. The pressure is on for this pair tomorrow, with the top 21 breathing down their necks within two rails of the lead. Kristen Turner (TX) riding Lil’ Albert and Hayley Clark riding Bold Impression are right on Olivia’s heels on a 25.5.

Sher Schwartz (GA) and her lovely dark mare Jamocean, maintain their lead in Senior Novice Amateur after a beautiful clear round. They enter show jumping on a score of 22.5 with no room for error. Julia Denton (TX) riding Win/Win Situation and Janet Gordon (CO) riding Irish Beginnings sit right behind Sher on scores of 25.5.

The lead in Novice Horse is held by Elliott Blackmon (FL) and W.H. Topgun. Emma Kate Fisher (OK) riding Cooley Performer and Carrie Meehan (KS) both crossed the finish in four minutes and 29 seconds, entering the show jumping in a true tie for second.

Beginner Novice Championships
Emilie Mudd (LA) and Le Cheval Royale maintained their lead in the (new this year) Beginner Novice division for riders aged 14 and under. They remained on their very good score of 22.4, but within striking distance are Emma Ciafone (CO) and Cady O’Daly Gabriel, who moved up from third to second with a double-clear round. Grace Lebrecht (UT) and I Can Only Imagine moved from fifth to third after cross-country.

The Beginner Novice course was big and imposing for riders, and each division at the level saw no shortage of trouble. There was significant shake-up in the Junior Beginner Novice division. Anna Conley (KY) and Reba’s Song moved up from third to first with one of just eight clear rounds in a field of 20 starters.  Ally Ault (NC) and Hope moved up from seventh to second, and Savannah Welch (TX) and Bernadean Britt’s Flying Dutchman leapt from tenth to third, a nearly unheard of accomplishment at Beginner Novice level. It is not a dressage show this time!

The top two in the Senior Beginner Novice division, however, remained the same. Andrea Mitchell (WI) and Divine lead with a score of 21.0 while Hannah Smitherman (TX) and Buster Brown are close in second on a 22.9. In third is Bobby Covington (TX) and Halo.

There were more complications in Beginner Novice horse, with several stops and a handful of eliminations. Beth Stelzleni (GA) and Giselle made easy work of the course to retain their lead in 26.7. Elliott Blackmon (FL) moved up to second from third with Foothill’s Field Marshall while Jenna Jones (TX) and Truly Twilight are third, also with a clear round.

Novice and Beginner Novice will crown their champions on Sunday while the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced competitors will be up bright and early for an exciting conclusion to the Series.

The praise for Texas Rose Horse Park as the new host to the AEC continues to roll in. “I think it’s gone better than we all expected. It’s run so smoothly. Everything has flowed really well,” Bonner Carpenter said.

Pollard complimented the organization and the courses and looks forward to the venue’s prolonged success. “I think as the site develops it will be a great venue for future big Advanced classes, and hopefully this will be a legacy for the state of Texas that they have a really nice Advanced course going forward,” he said. “It would be crazy for some of my fellow competitors on the East Coast not to come out here and do it because it is up to standard, it’s a really good run. The course is good, the footing is good, and there is a lot of prize money which is what we have said we wanted for a long time. I don’t see why more people haven’t come.”

It has been a highly competitive week, but tonight, the competitors let their hair down at the competitors party to the tune of live local music with bellies full of barbecue.

For full AEC results visit

About the American Eventing Championships
Each September, over 500 horses travel from across the nation to participate in the American Eventing Championships. This prestigious national championships provides the opportunity for riders at every level of the sport – from Beginner Novice to Advanced – to compete for significant prize money and the chance to be named the best in the nation at their respective levels. Now in its tenth year, the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships will be held for the first time at the Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas. The 2013 competition will run from September 26 – 29. For more details on the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by VTO Saddlery, visit the

About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels with the final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships September 26-29 in Tyler, Texas. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.

The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors:  Adequan; Nunn Finer; SmartPak Equine; Nutrena; Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two; Dubarry; and FITS.

The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada in 2013 featuring the best riders and most entertainment. Riders and Horses are awarded points on the PRO Tour Rider Leader Board and PRO Tour Horse Leader Board. Riders can also earn points on the PRO Tour Series at the Intermediate or two-star level for the Multi Radiance Intermediate Challenge. The 2013 Multi Radiance Challenge Leader Board Champion will win a Multi Radiance MR4 ACTIVET Portable Laser System.

The Professional Riders Organization would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the 2013 PRO Tour Series: Martin Collins USA, The Official Footing of PRO;  Multi Radiance Medical, The Official Laser Therapy of PRO & Sponsor of the Multi Radiance Medical Intermediate Challenge ; Tex Sutton, the Official US Equine Air Carrier of PRO; SSG Riding Gloves; Finish Line Horse Products; Midlantic Ltd.; and Mythic Landing Events.