The USEA’s Young Event Horse program (sponsored by our friends at Fleeceworks) wrapped up its East Coast Championships today at Fair Hill International Horse Trials in Maryland. Team Fleeceworks rider Danny Warrington awarded the top prizes, which went to Kim and Jackie Severson’s Cooley Cross Border in the 5-year-old division and Katie Murphy’s Esccord RGS in the 4-year-old division.
Jenni Autry has the report.
Top photo: Katie Murphy and Esccord RGS, left, won the Young Event Horse 4-year-old division. Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border, right, won the 5-year-old Young Event Horse division.
It was survival of the fittest in the jumping portion of today’s USEA Spalding Labs East Coast Young Event Horse Championships. The rain was already falling when Danielle Dichting and Last Diplomat started out on course in the 5-year-old division. By the time Julie Richards and Parc Cooley, third on the order of go, were set to start, we were getting pounded with heavy rain storms. After the hour-long rain delay, the Young Event Horses resumed — still battling the rain. At the end of the competition, Kim and Jackie Severson’s Cooley Cross Border won the 5-year-old division and Katie Murphy’s Escoord RGS triumphed in the 4-year-old division.
Kim Severson said the main reason she decided to get involved in the Young Event Horse series was to give a hat tip to Richard Sheane, who bred Cooley Cross Border and Cooley Streetwise, who competed in the 4-year-old division. “He picks out exquisite horse and does a wonderful job once he has them,” Kim said. She spoke of trouble spots she anticipated on the course, as well as the decision by USEA officials to alter the course. “I thought today rode really well,” Kim said. “I had a couple of concerns about the course yesterday. I thought it was a great decision to remove the trakehner. I was worried about the table going in the water, but it didn’t cause any major problems. Although I had concerns yesterday, it was fine today, so what do I know?” she joked.
Cross is aiming for the first preliminary event of his career at the Virginia Horse Trials next month. “We have a little bit of a mini issue to sort out, then he’ll go preliminary all next year,” Kim said. “I’ve got things to work on this winter, as everyone does. I would like to do a long format, perhaps in the spring. He doesn’t have the fitness base that Thoroughbreds do, so it’s something that would probably benefit him.” This horse has now won his last three events. If the USEA’s goal with the Young Event Horse program is to scout out and reward the sport’s up-and-coming talent, I’d say they’ve accomplished that in spades.
Katie spoke highly of Garth’s breeding; the horse is a Hanoverian with excellent jumping and dressage lines, she said. “Toward the end of the season he has started to gain more confidence and started really looking to the fences,” Katie said. “He was good in dressage; he got a little bit hot and tight in his back. Down the centerline he gave a scoot. He really was quite exceptional. This is by far the biggest environment he’s been exposed to.” While Katie has participated in the Future Event Horse series, this was her first year of involvement in the Young Event Horse series. “It’s a great way to supplement their education — particularly in such a big environment like this — but it’s a smaller scale for them performance wise,” Katie said. She plans to move Garth up to training level next year.
Pedro Gutierrez, a judge for both the Young Event Horse East and West Coast Championships, compared the two different events. “Overall, the quality of the horses is about the same. The number of horses (entered in the series) is higher on East Coast,” Pedro said. “Over here, I will say you see more eventing-type horses. On the West Coast, you see too much of a warmblood-type of horse.” When it comes to awarding each horse a jumping score, Pedro said it can be difficult to accurately assess all aspects of the horse in a single number. “I can tell you that it is very tough to really separate the good jumpers from the good gallopers,” especially with the show jumping and cross-country portions running back-to-back. He indicated that the Young Event Horse committee will evaluate the program and discuss potential tweaks at the upcoming USEA convention.