Parker, Colo.—Sept. 2
Cami Pease, 27, took an early lead in the beginner novice amateur division at the American Eventing Championships and didn’t let go. She was faultless in cross-country and bested 22 other riders in show jumping to win the championship on a score of 24.5.
“You can’t ever count on anything, but we are both very comfortable in the arena, and I could tell that he was having a lot of fun,” Pease said of her Belgian Warmblood gelding, Vibrant.
Pease started her riding career in the equitation ring and bought Vibrant, who had been doing the junior jumper classes, with the intention of making him her next serious contender. A meniscus injury in 2015 limited Vibrant’s jumping options, and when Pease moved from Palo Alto, California, to Washington, D.C., for work they realized Vibrant’s jumping days didn’t have to be over.
“We found ourselves in the middle of eventing country!” Pease said. “So I found an eventing barn and decided to give it a try. Cross-country is our hardest battle. Both of us started out in the equitation ring, so we can do flatwork, that’s all fine, but cross-country still makes us a little nervous.”
The two contested the AEC last year at Tryon, North Carolina, but weren’t happy with the results, so this year was their chance at redemption.
“Logistically getting here was pretty complicated since we’re all the way in D.C.,” Pease said. “But my team was really really helpful; they made everything possible.”
Tricia Leslie, 45, defended her overnight lead in the beginner novice rider division through cross-country on Saturday, but came through the finish already feeling humble about the task ahead.
“Now just to leave all the rails up!” She joked while patting her Thoroughbred gelding, Inate Dignity. They were able to do just that on Sunday and finished on their dressage score of 27.3.
“[Winning is] so awesome! I was not expecting it, but it’s really wonderful!” Leslie said. “Inate Dignity and I have been together for about three years. I got him from a friend of mine out in Iowa, because I was a little ‘over-horsed,’ so we did a switch. My favorite part about him is his mind! He’s like a kitten; he’s just wonderful. He’s so easy and just a good boy. Stadium is our hardest phase, so I got lucky. He really took care of me out there today.”
Leslie is a 911 dispatcher for the Fort Collins police and half-leases “Tango” with a friend to ensure he gets ridden enough around her hectic work hours.
“I’ve been doing it for 18 or 19 years,” Leslie said. “My brother is a paramedic and I’m not a blood and guts person, but I wanted to be part of it so dispatching was my forte.”
Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless Des Terdrix jumped up from second place to win the junior beginner novice championship. She finished on her dressage score of 30.3, the ideal ending to her beginner novice career as she looks to move up to novice at her next show.
“Stadium went really well. I did everything according to plan,” Robinson, 13, said. She partnered with Fernhill Fearless Des Terdrix last October after outgrowing her previous mount.
“We started out a little rough,” Robinson said. “It’s been a challenge to adjust to horse strides and things like that but it’s been fun, his ride is just way different from a pony.”
Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer cruised to a win in the beginner novice horse division. They were first after dressage and went faultless through cross-country and stadium to finish on a score of 27.4.
“I thought the stadium course, again, was perfect for the level. The ring has a little bit of a slope and so you had to think about how the terrain was going to affect their step and there was enough room to make choices, whether you added or took one out,” Ehlers said. “I have loved the AEC because I’ve been able to spend time with my family and my friends. I grew up in Texas, and then I moved to Kentucky, so I haven’t seen a lot of people in five or six years.
“This is my first AEC! When I was in college, I went to try and go, I had a preliminary horse that was actually here with a preliminary junior rider, but I broke my back the day before we were supposed to leave,” she added. “It just never worked out. It’s cool that it finally worked, and it worked like this. I definitely got the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. In here with this horse and out there with the other horse on the cross-country course. But that’s eventing!”
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