Regional stars took center stage Sunday, Nov. 5, with all the razzle dazzle afforded to Saturday night’s contenders in the 2023 USEF CCI4*-L and CCI2*-L Eventing Championships, the Adequan CCI3*-L and the USEF Eventing Young Riders Championships presented by USEA.
Organizer Robert Kellerhouse remained on Cloud 9 seeing seniors, juniors and professionals at all levels showcased on the glitzy stage built for the Eventing Championships’ star-studded international roster.
The jumbotron displayed real time scoring for the final phases of 14 USEA Area VI Championship divisions, and contenders navigated the showcase stadium filled with colorful, creative fences in the jazzed atmosphere of the Grand Prix Arena.
“I think for our first attempt we knocked it out of the park,” said Andrea Pfeiffer, Area VI Chairman and Area VI Council member.
Along with added atmosphere, there was much more at stake in this year’s Area VI Championships because riders from all USEA regions were invited to take their shot at the titles. This unprecedented opportunity arose from the Area VI Council’s desire to plant the seeds for a true regional championship in the West. It’s also about promoting the idea that competing in different regions, environments and against different competitors is important to building winning horsemanship skills – a point emphasized by leaders at every level of the sport.
In addition to having contenders in all the divisions, those contenders and their crews helped pack the stands for the FEI competition, revving the amperage meter for everyone involved. “That really made me smile!” Pfeiffer said. “It was a national championship and it really felt like it.”
“My vision for the Area VI Championships is to make it special. If a show wants to host them, we need to ask how they are going to do that?” She acknowledges that filling the Championships divisions has been a challenge in the past, and that combining it this year with the multi-faceted Eventing Championships helped tremendously with that. So did special prizes, swag and being spotlit in the Grand Prix Arena.
Speaking of the spotlight, here are the 2023 AREA VI Champions.
Preliminary Championships – Mikayla Howard and HH Ontario
Having won the Modified Training Challenge at Galway Downs last year, Mikayla Howard set her mind on prepping HH Ontario for a successful move up this year. She was surprised to be able to win the competitive division with two show jumping rails, but it was one of those days. HH Ontario’s characteristic nice dressage netted a 27.6, while cross-country required an extra push throughout to stay relatively close to the optimal time. That may have tired Ontario out a bit for show jumping, and Howard felt a few pilot errors may have played their part.
Nonetheless, it was a great way to finish a competition that Howard and her Avon Eventing crew look forward to and gear their goals toward all year. The Northern California professional had three Area VI Young Riders contending the USEF Championship and several horses and riders who took advantage of the Galway Downs’ popular Challenge divisions.
“We really appreciate all these different types of classes and we always have such a good time.”
Busy Tommy Greengard and Quick Quinn were reserve champions, and McKenzie Rollins and O Gigi SE were third.
Modified Championships – Stephanie Goodman & Global Monmore
Competing in the Area VI Championships was icing on the cake for Eagle, ID-based professional Stephanie Goodman. Her crew makes the 15-hour annual trek to Galway Downs every fall, this year with seven horses. She was thrilled to give Global Monmore, a young client’s horse, a terrific experience in what she described as a well-calibrated Modified event. These are few and far between, period, she noted, and finding one that hits that balance between “smaller than Prelim and a step above Training” is tough.
With just a few time faults on cross-country, Global Monmore rose easily to carry the division on a 36.4 and end his season on “super high point,” Goodman said. “Being able to ride in the Grand Prix ring for all these horses is great. There’s a lot of atmosphere and all our horses are actually jumping really well. Plus, it was really fun!”
Emily Schmitz and Fernhill Blueprint were second, and Audrey Fisher and GoldRiverDancer were third.
Modified/Training Championships – Tommy Greengard and Cooley Sligo
Still aglow from finishing as reserve champ in the USEF CCI4*-L Championships Saturday night, Tommy Greengard piloted Cooley Sligo to the top, adding nothing to their 22.7 dressage score. One of 5 horses Greengard rode in his post with Chocolate Horse Farm, Cooley Sligo is owned by client Megan Beachler, who finished an impressive 2nd in the American Eventing Championships Novice division earlier this year.
“He’s one of those unique horses who is very good in all three phases. He’s a terrific jumping horse, quite relaxed and a good mover, which helps with dressage.” Greengard loved having all the previous night’s atmospheric effects in place. “It’s great that they have the jumbotron and everything else going for the horses in the lower levels who haven’t seen that before.”
Taren Hoffos and Gusto were second on a 29.8 and Andrea Baxter and Camelot PJ followed on a 31.6
Training Novice Championships – Seika Streets and Counterpoint
“This was a high point!” said Seika Streets, who leases the veteran upper-level campaigner, “Count” from Arnell Sporthorses. “We had a win at Novice at Woodside, and my trainers said, ‘Why don’t you keep this going and give this a shot!”
“It is a total privilege to ride him. He knows when the show is happening and gets super pumped up, he kicks into gear on cross-country, you know he’s going to make it home safe and he’ll jump everything more than it needs in stadium.”
“I was pretty confident in our abilities, and I knew we were going to give it our best out there.”
Alice Chan and Merriewold Quintessa were reserve champions.
Senior Training Rider Championships – Teresa Harcourt & Csongor
“It’s great to put a bow on the end of the year,” said Teresa Harcourt of her win with her own Csongor, aka “Blue.” She purchased him in August of 2022 after a seven-year hiatus from competing herself, during which she groomed for Bec Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses. “I’ve been able to build up a strong partnership with him, and it was great to have this week’s big environment of a national championship and to be around so many upper-level riders.”
The pair finished on their 28.6 dressage, amid a hectic, happy week. Teresa is USEA Area VI’s Young Rider Coordinator and was heavily involved in the preparations for the team’s CCI2*-L gold and CCI1*-L silver efforts. “It was a lot of work, but we cleaned up and it was a great weekend!” As a member of the Arnell Sporthorses posse, Teresa also had Bec Braitling’s reserve finish in the CCI4*-L National Championships to celebrate.
Shelby Murray and Mannoury vd Watermolen were second on a 30, and Eri Takada and Toronto Z were third on a 35.6.
Junior Training Rider Championships – Maddie Kelly and Favoloso
18-year-old Maddie Kelly had a happy trip back to Idaho, reflecting on how “all the stars aligned this weekend.” A student of Stephanie Goodman, Kelly began leasing Favoloso early this year and initially struggled to “feel on the same page” – especially in dressage. Finally, dressage felt “easy,” resulting in a 30.6 score. A few time faults impacted a cross-country track that “was good for him – it kept him engaged, but was not too challenging. That’s one of his hardest phases and he was a very good boy.” They sailed double-clear in show jumping, to retake the top spot.
Sophie Celeste and Max Attraction finished second on a 33.1, and Raney Wolfers and Kingston V.E. were third on a 33.4.
Senior Novice Rider Championship – Keelari Mauzy and West Coast Cooley
It was love at first sight when Keelari Mauzy set eyes on her dream horse on a dream horse shopping trip to Ireland two years ago. Since then, random realities made consistent progress difficult but it’s all come together this year, and especially in their fault-free 29.4 finish in this division. The San Diego-based amateur produced West Coast Cooley on her own and was thrilled to qualify for the Area VI Championships and to have it be close to home.
“With the really great success we had this weekend, I’m thinking of setting a new goal for next year,” reports the owner of a PEMF business for horses, people and small animals. She’s qualified already for the American Eventing Championships and looks forward to returning to Galway Downs.
Johana Ligtenberg and Hunters Bolero finished second on their 30 dressage, and Maxine Beck and Laguna Seca followed on their 30.6 effort for third.
Junior Novice Rider Championship – Isabella Rega and Blurred Lines
A 4th place finish in the huge field at the American Eventing Championships in August, in Kentucky, inspired Isabella Rega to see if she could keep her roll going here at the Area VI Championships. “We’ve done so many Novice divisions it feels pretty easy,” she said of a 26.9 dressage score and flawless cross-country and show jumping. “It was all pretty straight forward.”
A student of Sabrina Miller’s Riding Academy, Rega said a move up next year is on the agenda.
Lauren Hsieh and Happy Prospect were tied with Rega throughout the run, taking second on a hair’s breadth time difference in cross-country. Kennedy Wiklund and Atta Boy Atticus were third.
Junior Beginner Novice Rider Championship — Charlotte Boleda & Bellechase
Great advice from a great rider helped Charlotte Boleda and Bellechase get where they are today. “Tamie Smith told me easy horses don’t make great riders,” Boleda said. Through the tough times of their first year together, “I said, ‘This guy has too much potential to let it go to waste,” explained Boleda, who trains regularly with Olivia Putrino.
The 6-year-old Irish Sporthorse came through for Charlotte today, finishing fault free on their 30 dressage score. “He’s super brave and I like horses that are spicy! They’re more fun.”
Katherine Jackman and Prada were reserve champions on a 34.1 effort.
Novice/Beginner Novice Championship – Chloe Smyth and Topper
Marian Cerrilly’s “Topper” is a really great young horse,” said the professional, who won on a 27.7. “He has been a pleasure to bring along.
“We love coming to Galway and always enjoying seeing the improvements. I want to give a huge thank you to my team at White Horse Eventing for keeping everything running smoothly.”
Dawn Scott and Cappa Aoife finished second on a 32.
Senior Beginner Novice Rider Championship – Justin Flach & Aracelli
The Area VI Championships “became a goal as we’ve had sort of a rough year,” explained Justin Flach. “We had to re-set and learn a few hard lessons.” Warm-up ring anxiety was the main issue for the 2012 Oldenburg mare and the former county-level show jumping rider. “We focused on re-introducing her to ideas and concepts that would get her comfortable in the warm-up arena and this week is the culmination of those efforts and of working through some tough times.”
Flach is also grateful to his fellow competitors for their welcoming attitude and approach to the competition, and to his wife for encouraging him to try eventing. These last two years, he’s “put a lot of miles” into dressage and cross-country, including work with trainers Robin Garrett and Darci Bayney, for dressage and show jumping respectively.
And, it looks like I’ll be getting an eventing trainer soon,” he said. “Because, I’m not going to stop now!” Afterall, they already have a basic principle mastered – try to finish on your dressage score, in their case, a 32.1, to which they added nothing.
Annie Desmond and Little Elf were close behind on a 32.4 for second, and Mia Roeser and Miss Magnolia were third on a 36.7.
Senior Starter Championship – Britt Sabbah and Delilah 111
It’s not a typo. Britt Sabbah’s 5-year-old German Riding Pony, Delilah 111, in her second-ever away from home show, logged a 16.7 dressage score. Britt bought her to be a “dressage pony” and the mare is delivering the goods. “She really likes to jump so we do eventing to give her more life experiences.” Along with the lowest score of the show, Delilah got a “bright future” note on her score sheet from judge Axel Steiner. “He can be a tough one to impress, so that was very nice.”
Delilah handled the Championships amped up atmosphere just fine, but being separated from her “brother,” Sabbah’s other horse, was hard to handle. “I think everybody on the show grounds probably heard her calling to him during her cross-country warm-up. She’s extremely vocal. But once she was out on course, she was fine!”
Amber Ryan and Finding Nemo finished second with a 31, and Lisa Prior and May As Well were third.
Junior Starter Championship – Bo Moore and Zodiac Kowboy
“It was really fun,” said 15-year-old Bo Moore of her experience en route to winning this division. Initially locked in a tie after her 33.7 dressage ride with Zodiac Kowboy, this student of Sigourney Jones set out determined to be close as possible to cross-country’s optimal time. She and the 10-year-old Thoroughbred were a little too fast, in fact, but they wound up edging into the top spot after only 1.6 time faults in stadium. It was a high point in their one-year partnership for this Northern California-based duo.
USEA, Presenting Sponsor of the USEF Eventing Young Riders Championships
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