Competition Continues at 2016 Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover


Shannon Brinkman Photo

The inaugural Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC) at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) kicked off with seven divisions taking their turn in the dressage rings in Mill Spring, NC, on Wednesday, August 31 followed by the highly anticipated first day of cross-country competition on Thursday, September 1.

Close to 700 entries will compete in dressage, cross-country, and show jumping throughout the week, culminating the seasonal efforts of riders from across the country. Competition continues through Sunday, September 4 and will highlight Beginner Novice through Advanced divisions.

Professional’s Choice Training Horse 
Without a single dressage score above a 26.1 in her competition history, the skies were truly the limit for Sky’s The Limit, owned by Tracey Corey, in the dressage ring of the Training Horse division. Ridden by Leslie Law, the 6-year-old Westphalian mare scored a 21.8 to lead the packed division, where each of the combinations sitting in the top 25 all scored sub-30.

“I am pleased with the way she handled it all quite honestly because she is inexperienced and it is quite an occasion to walk in there,” said Law. “Apart from her actually putting down a really good performance, I was delighted with her temperament. She makes my job very easy because she has three super paces and a super temperament. She is very laid back, so it really is about her education at this point and teaching her to be in a better balance and keeping her supple.”

Sitting in second place is Tender Bravissimo, owned by Dare to Dream Team, and ridden by Courtney Cooper. The 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding scored a 22.5, while there is a tie for third on a 22.7. Both piloting mares into the top three, Denise Goyeaand aboard Highlife’s Je T’aime, an 8-year-old Oldenburg owned by Madeline Hartsock, and Lynn Symansky and SpectraVET Cohiba, a 6-year-old Wurttemburg sit in a two-way tie for third.

Professional’s Choice Master Training Amateur
Sandra Holden and her own Cano Cristales made their way to the top of the leaderboard after a strong showing in the Master Training Amateur division, receiving a 21.6 to sit in first place heading into cross-country tomorrow. The pair, who traveled from New York, have been working on their connection and communication, specifically in their transitions leading up to the event. “We were having some trouble with our walk to trot transitions, from the free walk to the medium walk and then the trot. I couldn’t get it on the mark and it felt like he just couldn’t get on the aids. I worked really hard on that with my trainer before we came and on grounds here,” said Holden. “I felt really good about our test. He was with me the entire time and when I came out, usually I think my dressage test is awful, but it was one of the first times that I came out and was satisfied with the test.”

Holden and Cano Cristales kept a strong hold on their lead after the cross-country phase, finishing on their dressage score. The pair laid down a confident round and head into show jumping tomorrow with a 1.8 point lead ahead of Ruth Bley and Spartacus D’L’Herbage, a 10-year-old Selle Francais, who are sitting in second on a 23.4. Nanette Schumaker and La Cosa Nostra (by Kevekka), a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, rounded out the top three, adding nothing to their dressage score of 24.6 around cross-country today. 

Broadstone Beginner Novice Amateur
Adding another sub-thirty score on the leaderboard was Lauren Chumley and Nikolas. Melissa Dowling’s 5-year-old Sport Pony put his best hoof forward to earn a 27.3 in the Beginner Novice Amateur division. Chumley is a full-time dressage trainer with “an annoying eventing habit,” and “Niko” was bought to be a dressage horse, so no one was surprised to see her atop the leaderboard today. The pair competes at Second Level, schools Third Level at home, and are aimed at the dressage regionals in just two weeks time. 

In the very first division to head out on the cross-country course, Chumley and Nikolas held onto their lead as they jumped bold and clear without even a second thought. They remain on their dressage score of 27.3. “He ate up the cross-country. He’s about the bravest thing on the planet,” Chumley said, and added that he’s maybe even too bold throwing in a few bucks in the warm-up. “He’s figured the whole eventing thing out now. He’s a little bit cocky.”

Despite the stellar run today, Chumley is a realist and has no hesitation in sharing their shared weakness: show jumping, and she’s not excluding extreme measures to keep her lead. “I saw Doug Payne on cross-country. He’s in second behind me. I tried to pay him off but it didn’t work,” she joked. “I thought about pushing him off his bike, but Andrea Davidson, my trainer, told me that was probably also a bad, so I didn’t do that. Unfortunately, now, I’m going to have to actually jump the jumps,” she laughed. Doug Payne and Stephen Blauner’s Mr. Mitchell, a 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse, follow Chumley on a 28.3, so she must jump clear to finish as the winner of this division. Payne also lacks any cushion in his score as Susan Thomas and Leslie Allen’s Tango are right behind them with 30 penalty points for third place. 

Shannon Brinkman Photo

Professional’s Choice Training Amateur
When Anna Kristen Paysinger entered the AEC with her 8-year-old Oldenburg mare, Lusitana, she wasn’t expecting to be sitting in the press conference following the first phase of the Training Amateur division. Paysinger and “Luna” earned a 25.0, a mere .9 points ahead of Nicole Carolan and her own Topgun, to lead the 37 entry strong division. “The biggest thing with my mare is keeping her relaxed,” said Paysinger. “She definitely has it in her if she stays quiet. She likes jumping better than dressage, so dressage has been a little bit hard, but she is coming along. She is pretty much a cross-country machine, so if I can just steer correctly and put my leg on she should be fine. Show jumping might be a bit tricky because of the atmosphere in the arena.”

Paysinger and Luna continued to hold their lead after finishing a double clear trip around the cross-country track and will move forward to show jumping on their dressage score of 25.0. She noted, “I thought my mare was really brave throughout the course. I was fretting the most about jump six, but she jumped it fine and didn’t seem to notice all of the people at all and went right into the water after that.”

Patricia Hildalgo and her own Sapphire Storm are currently placed within striking distance on a 26.4, while Natascha Erschen and her own Emerald Lion, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Keltic Lion, secured third place with a double clear effort and a score of 26.8.

Preliminary Horse
The Preliminary Horse division saw Dana Cooke and Kingfisher Park’s FE Mississippi ride into the lead after dressage in a very competitive division. The 6-year-old Wurttemburg mare barely snuck into first, besting Allison Springer and Lord Willing’s second place score by .1 points. “We’ve been working on getting her a lot stronger. I had lessons with Clayton Fredericks in the last couple of days that helped put the pieces all together,” explained Cooke, pleased to see their dressage score reflect recent tune-ups.

The division saw a shake up of the leaderboard as Boyd Martin and Barry, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Windurra USA, took over the lead from third place, heading into show jumping with a 26.0. “It was an amazing cross-country course. [It] really opened up to be galloping and open towards the end. The first part of the track tested accuracy and control and then the horse’s stamina,” commented Martin. The pair added nothing to their dressage score while Martin also piloted Contessa into the top ten after a speedy trip around the course. “I think that the cross-country will be a very influential phase here at the AECs, which is good. It’s very interesting for the Intermediate and Advanced divisions because if you try to go slowly around the course you’ll get around, but you’ll pick up quite a bit of time penalties,” he explained. “You’ve got to be quick and take a chance out there to win.”

Ryan Wood aboard Sarah Hughes’ Shannondale Percy, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Shannondale Sarco, are currently in second place with a 29.1 and Maya Black aboard her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred, Mowgli, sit in third place on a 29.2 after cross-country. 

Novice Horse
Plain Dealing Farm’s Cooley Daydream is only 5-years-old and in only her fifth event, she belied her age and experience, scoring a 24.3 to lead the Novice Horse division with Lucia Strini. The Irish Sport Horse mare by Chacoa, is normally ridden by Lucia’s sister, Benita, but Lucia took the ride over for the AEC. “She was really good,” said Lucia. “This is definitely the most atmosphere she has been in, so when she got here yesterday she was all kind of wide-eyed. I was just really happy that she went in [the dressage] and stayed calm. She was really well-behaved, and I was just really happy with her score.”

The mare rose to the challenge and the pair remain on their dressage score of 24.3 after a double clear finish today. “Whenever she saw the jumps she settled a bit,” Strini explained.”She was really bold and brave. By the time we came into the derby field she was super full of herself. She finished more confident than she started, which is always good.” Looking toward show jumping, Strini doesn’t have a rail in hand as the second and third placed pairs are only one point behind. Ashley Phillips and Bayni Slade and Dominic Shramm and Cooley Renaissance Man were tied on a 25.3, but Phillips finished closer to the optimum time, which gave her second place.

Preliminary Amateur
Ruth Bley made her journey across the country from California well worth it, as she sat atop the pack in the Preliminary Amateur division with Rodrigue Du Granit. The 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding earned a 27.2, looking forward into the cross-country phase in first place. Nita Sanfilippo and Alarmabull were just behind Bley, as the 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding scored a 28.5. Randa Sorzano and Pleasant Rendezvous, 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, earned a 30.5 for third place.

After cross-country, Bley and Rodrigue Du Granit maintained their lead, mastering the track and only adding .4 time faults to their dressage score of 27.2. Sanfilippo piloted Alarmabull to second in the standings, collecting an additional 1.6 time penalties for a 30.1. Randa Sorzano and Pleasant Rendezvous secured third, after crossing through the finish with a double clear trip to sit on a 30.5. 

Shannon Brinkman Photo

Merial Open Intermediate
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, Phoebe Manders and Michael Manders, returned to competition in fine form taking a commanding lead in the competitive Open Intermediate division on a score of 22.3. The pair, who won an individual and team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015, found their stride in the dressage phase of competition, besting Clayton Fredericks, who holds third and second place aboard FEI Money Made and FE Bowman with a 27.0 and 28.2, respectively.

Little and Scandalous, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, put together a fabulous test that was relaxed and smooth, earning them nearly a five point lead ahead of the competitive class, which featured 54 entries. The pair have quickly become one of the top combinations in the United States and their test today proved that they’re back on their game after a few months away from competition. “It’s a pleasure to ride Scandalous in any major dressage test. She’s a real dancer and she was beautifully focused and smooth today. This is only her second weekend back competing in eventing since early June,” said Little.

Looking forward to the cross-country competition, Little feels that RF Scandalous has the skill to contest the difficult track, but also feels that cross-country will change the standings around quite a bit. “I think the course suits her quite well. She’s very handy to ride, but she’s very smart and looks for the flags, which I think will be important, especially at the beginning of the course,” she commented.

Broadstone Master Beginner Novice Amateur
Letha Calvin and her own Look Cody Look rose to the top of the class in the Master Beginner Novice Amateur division with a score of 27.5. “I rode two horses today and I felt that I lost both of their right shoulders at the beginning of the year, but in the last month I found them again,” she smiled. “It felt pretty good to have two solid tests today. I’m super proud of both of them.” 

Calvin and Look Cody Look will leave the start box and will look to maintain their lead. Tracey Tapman and her own Just Dew It earned a 27.8 to finish just behind Calvin, while William Barclay and his own Stormn Hudson KD received a 28.3 for third. 

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