De Luetje MF had just won the Grand Championship at a show in Georgia when Elly Schobel saw the Hanoverian filly (Don Principe x La Dolce Vita) for the first time. “I walked by her stall and it was like someone had hit me,” said Elly. “I just thought wow look at that mare! Her expression is just like someone is looking at you all the time.”
Elly travelled all the way from Aiken, South Carolina to Leesburg, Virginia to compete in the 2012 IDHSNA USEA Future Event Horse East Coast Championships - her first FEH Championships experience. She made her long journey well worth it with the Overall Grand Champion win with De Luetje MF and a Reserve Champion Yearling win with Dat’s Mein Deern (Don Principe x Royalander). The half sisters were both handled in the competition by Bruce Griffin.
“I live in Aiken and have fallen deeply in love with eventing,” said Elly. “My good friend Maryanna Haymon bred “Nini” with a specific purpose of being an all around athlete, and I am lucky to own her. Her sire, Don Principe, is a Grand Prix Dressage horse, but because he was bred by smart breeders to really talented all around mares we now have really good moving young event horses who can jump the moon.”
“I love, love the fact that we have the opportunity to show the young horses and have judges who will educate us and we need to bring these horses along. I have waited a lifetime to have horses like my girls - they aren’t for sale.”
Since Nini is now three-years-old she will be aged out of the FEH program next year, but her owner Elly hopes that she can continue along the pipeline the USEA has created for young horses.
“I would like to have Nini continue on in the four-year-old Young Event Horse competition next year," said Elly. "And I am very grateful to the USEA that the program is available to American bred event horses as we desperately need opportunities to bring the young ones along. If I am not gutsy enough to ride her then Mollie Zobel will ride her.”
Before pinning the top three in the Overall Grand Championship Class, head judge Faith Fessenden confessed that it was a difficult decision and any of the top horses could have been swapped out for each other.
“In the Championship round, [De Luetje MF] just really, really carried herself well where the others who had before that had shown themselves worthy of their pinnings in their classes just didn’t pull it out all, explained Faith. “They just didn’t want to win today and that filly did. Bruce of course showed her brilliantly too.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to judge, and I was very impressed with the quality of the horses - all of them have promise and should give their riders pleasure going forward. There were several stellar individuals that feel have the type, conformation, structure, and movement to go on and it will be fun to see them in Young Event Horse.”
The two-year-old Hanoverian filly, Sentimental Baby (Sinatra Song x MS Susanna), earned Overall Reserve Champion for the second year in the row, surely proving that owner/breeder Valerie Fox has something special on her hands. Sentimental Baby has a show stopping trot that she strutted with handler Brandi Smith for the judges.
The IDHSNA USEA Future Event Horse program focuses on yearlings, two-year-olds, and three-year-olds, and judging the potential they have to become a successful event horse. In FEH classes, horses are judged on both their conformation and the quality and correctness of their gaits. Upon entering the arena, their handlers are asked to stand the horses up for inspection to allow the judge to analyze the strengths and weaknesses in their conformation. Then, they are asked to walk a 15-meter triangle, and then trot a 30-meter triangle. Finally, they are asked to stand up one last time for the judge to make their final observations.
All horses competing in the FEH Championships have to earn a qualifying score of 68%.
The Future Event Horse Series is made possible thanks to its Title Sponsor, the Irish Draught Horse Society of North America. Gift Certificates for the winners in championships were provided by Dover Saddlery.