The final day of the Nutrena/USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Bit of Britain, belonged to the lower levels, as approximately 150 horses in both Novice and Beginner Novice competed in the final phase of the competition.
Amy Barrington and Gallerone sat in second place after dressage and cross-country in Novice Horse. “I had a wonderful time! The footing and the facility was so beautiful, and the weather really cooperated with us,” said Barrington, a trainer based in South Carolina.
“He’s very competitive in the dressage – I don’t usually ride warmbloods, but he does well in that, and he’s a good jumper,” she said of the 17.2-hand Dutch Warmblood-cross gelding. “He’s kind of a character in the barns…he tears the buckets off the walls, and spills his water, and is always in your pocket. But he’s a really fun horse, a really smart guy.”
Emily Wendling and Magic of Spring unfortunately knocked a few rails, which dropped them dropped them from first to fifth. Barrington pulled a single rail, tying with Lauren Weil and Shenandoah King; however, Barrington and Gallerone were closer to the optimum time on cross-country, and inched ahead for the win.
Calvin Ramsay, 14, of Lafayette, Louisiana and Landmark’s Miss Liberty won the 57-strong Novice Junior division. The pair guaranteed a third place ribbon after finishing the competition on their dressage score, but the scores were so close that when the top two, Ashley Guidry and Aisling Carroll, dropped one rail apiece, and Calvin and Miss Liberty moved into the top position after finishing on their dressage score of 28.8.
Ramsay and his Irish Sport Horse mare, bred by Jacqueline Mars, have already moved up to Training, and the teen is hoping to make it to the Training Junior division at AEC next year.
Catherine Luvisi and Alongaboutdaybreak moved up two spots to win the Reserve Championship, while overnight leaders Guidry and Mercendes had to settle for third after dropping the very last rail.
The competition is never over until the last fence is jumped, and the show jumping phase made all the difference in the final standing for Novice Amateur. Several competitors far out of the ribbons after cross-country were catapulted up the leaderboard with clear jumping rounds. Anne Wilson, the leader after cross-country, was the last rider of the competition to compete today and sadly took a tumble at fence six after leaving out a stride in the double combination and becoming a bit unbalanced.
Liz Messaglia, of Indiana, and her Trakehner gelding Apollo Star were tied for second after dressage and moved into the top spot with two clear jumping rounds. Their pristine show jumping round was a tip of the cap to the grey gelding’s famous jumper sire, Abdullah.
“I’m so proud of my horse—he was just a rock star all weekend,” said an excited Messaglia after their show jumping round. “The cross-country course was challenging, yet doable if you had your horse under control—you could move him up and bring him back up and down the hills, which is kind of challenging with a horse this big,” she said, pointing to her 17-hand partner.
Apollo Star was looking fit as a fiddle for the AEC, though Messaglia admitted that wasn’t always the case. “I bought him out of a field two years ago and he weighed two-hundred pounds more than he does now,” she added with a laugh. “We’ve come a long way—he didn’t even have a right-lead canter when I bought him.”
Alyssa Ford and Bold Discovery moved up from seventh to second. Katie Bartz and the pinto pony, As You Wish, moved from eighth to third, and Erin Bartle and Firestorm jumped into fourth place from ninth. Clear rounds from Erin Strader, Ivan Blumberg, Jennifer Smith, Kimberly Rushton and Gracie Schmitt moved them into the ribbons.
Beginner Novice Horse
Local rider and trainer, Lauren Weil had her head in the game this week, and she finished with four horses in the top ten in two divisions. She started and finished the Beginner Novice Horse competition in first and second place with Ann Edmundson’s Pippen and Jennifer Tucker’s Commit.
“Oh my gosh, they are absolutely wonderful horses—I have fantastic owners!” said a thrilled Weil after her successful rounds. “One of them, this is his third event and he went in there and just nailed it, it was just amazing. I’m very proud of them! Thank you both to Ann Edmundson and Jennifer Tucker, my fabulous owners—I couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
Weil, who lives only about an hour away, frequently enjoys her trips to Chattahoochee Hills. “I have the pleasure of being able to come down here as often as we can—it’s just an amazing event, and Carl and Ritch do a great job.”
In the Novice Horse division, Lauren and JD Sosa’s Cookie Dough finished in eighth place. After show jumping, she and Robert Jett’s Shenandoah King were tied with the eventual winners, and took home a second reserve champion ribbon based on cross-country optimum time. All four of Lauren’s rides finished on their dressage scores, and she and the owners will take home a truckload of prizes and a comfortable amount of cash.
Beginner Novice Junior
The largest division in the competition, Beginner Novice Junior, was led from the start by Logan Elliott, 18, and her blue-eyed creme Connemara, Cady O’Daly Michael. Elliott has partnered with Mikey for just five months, and clearly hit it off as Mikey and her have placed in the top two in each of their four events together.
“I’m so glad that in five months we could come this far and win something this big—it’s a really big deal to me!” said Elliott. The pair plans to move up to Novice after the Area II Championships this fall.
Tayler Stewart and Strictly Business moved up one position to claim the Reserve Championship honors after their double clear round, and Mattie Kelly and The Highlander were also boosted one spot for a faultless trip to take third.
Beginner Novice Amateur
Thirty-nine combinations started the competition in Beginner Novice Amateur, but the top three remained the same throughout. Sandra Holden, of New York, scored a 27 in dressage with her lovely Holsteiner gelding Cano Cristales. They had a rail in hand today, but they didn’t need any wiggle room as they show jumped a gorgeous clear round for the win. Anne Huberth (NC) and Elizabeth Aboody’s Legend VII finished second on their dressage score as did third place, Elisabeth Lee (GA) and Free Verse.
The 2011 AEC is made possible by our wonderful sponsors. Title: Nutrena; Presenting: Bit of Britain; Advanced Level: Merial; Platinum: Charles Owen, Broadstone, SSG Gloves, SUCCEED; Gold: World Equestrian Brands, Practical Horseman, and Fleeceworks; Silver: Back on Track, Dubarry, VTO Saddlery, Omega Alpha, FITS, Auburn Labs, The Chronicle of the Horse, Point Two USA, Bronze: SmartPak, Stackhouse Saddles, Flair, Saratoga Horseworks; Contributing: Finish Line, Equinature, Adequan, HoofWraps.
Photos: Amy Barrington and Gallerone; Calvin Ramsay and Landmark's Miss Liberty; Liz Messaglia and Apollo Star and Lauren Weil and Commit.