The USET Foundation has announced this year’s recipients of the Jacqueline B. Mars International Competition Grants: Douglas Payne, Tamra Smith and Sharon White. The grant is awarded to eventing athletes who have been identified as having an impressive record and potential to represent the United States in future international competitions. These three riders will be traveling to Eschede, the Netherlands, to represent the United States during the Military Boekelo CCIO***.
Payne, of Aiken, South Carolina, has had a break-out spring season with the 11-year-old gelding Getaway, owned by Lisa Wall. The pair placed eighth at the Cloud 11-Gavilan North Carolina International CIC*** and then went on to place sixth at The Fork CIC*** before winning the advanced division at the Virginia Horse Trials. Most recently, the pair placed sixth at the Mars Inc. Bromont International CCI***.
This opportunity will allow Payne to be part of a team and work closely with U.S. Eventing Chef d’Équipe Erik Duvander, which will be critical in helping him take the next step forward in his career.
“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity provided to me by the USET Foundation and Jacqueline Mars,” said Payne. “The support that the USET Foundation and its donors provide makes it going overseas to compete possible. This grant will allow for the much needed experience for me and Getaway, an exceptionally talented horse with a bright future, owned by Lisa and Bob Wall.”
Smith, Murrieta, California, boasts an extensive resume of accomplishments and has been named to the United States Eventing Developing Rider list, is consistently ranked among the top 10 on the U.S. Eventing Association’s Lady Rider of the Year leaderboard and earned the Area VI Rider of the Year for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.
Fleeceworks Royal, a 9-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Judith McSwain, most recently won the CIC*** at The Event at Rebecca Farm with Smith in the irons.
“I am so excited,” said Smith. “It really makes it feasible to be able to travel there. This has really provided that opportunity to travel and further my education in Europe. Fleeceworks Royal is a great horse for that trip. I am super grateful to Ms. Mars for supporting the team and all that she does for the sport.
“Fleeceworks Royal has become such a rideable horse,” continued Smith. “There was a point in time that I would have been a little nervous about taking her to Boekelo because she was such a bold, attacking cross country horse, but this year she has turned into a super rideable horse and I feel like this year she is ready for that challenge. Thank you to Ms. Mars, the USET Foundation, the selectors, my sponsors and Ms. McSwain—I couldn’t do this without all of the support.”
White, of Summit Point, West Virginia, is part of the reserve list for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina with her 11-year-old gelding Cooley On Show. The pair has had solid, consistent four-star performances over the last 12 months, and White has had a great deal of individual success throughout her career. The pair’s last competition was the CCI**** at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, where they finished on their dressage score.
“I am really grateful and appreciative of everything Ms. Mars does for the sport and the opportunity that the grant allows to go overseas is huge,” said White. “Cooley is a fabulous horse, and the opportunity to take him overseas is an extremely important part of his long-term plan. And again, I think it’s very important to acknowledge everything that the USET Foundation and Ms. Mars do for the sport. As riders, we are very grateful for all of the opportunities that she enables us to have.”
The Military Boekelo CCIO*** is scheduled for Oct. 10-14.