Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

A Crazy Old Coot Conquers The Central ATC

Local veterinarian Chris Newton leads his team to the preliminary level title in The Chronicle of the Horse/USEA Adult Team Challenge.

Even before the mimosas started flowing on Sunday morning, the Three Chicks And A Crazy Old Coot were in good spirits. After scoring a win for the home team in the preliminary level of The Chronicle of the Horse/USEA Adult Team Challenge, the four Lexington, Ky., riders were in a celebratory mood.


Local veterinarian Chris Newton leads his team to the preliminary level title in The Chronicle of the Horse/USEA Adult Team Challenge.

Even before the mimosas started flowing on Sunday morning, the Three Chicks And A Crazy Old Coot were in good spirits. After scoring a win for the home team in the preliminary level of The Chronicle of the Horse/USEA Adult Team Challenge, the four Lexington, Ky., riders were in a celebratory mood.

“I’m no longer the crazy old coot,” joked the team’s leader, Chris Newton, DVM, after his individual win in
open preliminary, division 3, bolstered them to the team title at the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event And Team Challenge, Oct. 17-21. “I am now the young, hot gigolo.”

Having trailered in to the Kentucky Horse Park from their home just down the road at Newton’s Antebellum Farm, the members of the Three Chicks And A Crazy Old Coot Team had the home turf advantage. With four bay off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Newton and Keely Maginnis, Jennifer O’Neill and Lauren Clark stole the show.

“Dr. Newton is our beloved vet,” explained 22-year-old Maginnis wryly, after being teased by Newton for being the team’s drop score. “We all ended up at Antebellum because of the crazy old coot.”

A former working student of Dorothy Crowell’s who now works in product sales at Bluegrass Equine Products, Inc., Maginnis had an unfortunate stop on cross-country with her 12-year-old gelding Bourbon Bay to place 14th in open preliminary, division 2, but was an integral part of the team nonetheless.

O’Neill and Clark both placed in open preliminary, division 1, taking fourth and ninth, respectively.

Habermehl Has The Winning Ride In Open CCI*

Kaitlyn Habermehl’s Dutch Warmblood-Selle Francais gelding Roux won the CCI* at Bromont (Que.) with Darren Chiacchia in 2005, but after stepping on frozen manure and fracturing a coffin bone in the paddock last winter, she wasn’t sure he’d ever compete again.

That accident made her victory in the Midsouth CCI* open division even sweeter, as the 9-year-old gelding proved his fitness and finesse by winning the division by nearly 10 points.

“He really stepped it up in the dressage,” said Habermehl, of Barrie, Ont. “He’s so fit that he’s gotten a little cheeky. So I was really pleased that he buckled down and stuck to business.”

That fitness did make for an interesting, though ultimately rewarding, cross-country ride.

“I had to incur time penalties because he was almost too cheeky,” Habermehl said of the 17-hand gelding.

“He’s quite big, so he sometimes forgets that I’m onboard. He was a little distracted at the Head Of The Lake, so that was an interesting ride. He thought the grandstands might come and eat him.”

Even with 6.8 time penalties on Saturday added to their winning dressage score of 45, the pair topped the division with ease, logging an impressive double-clear show jumping round.

Hebermehl, 23, spent a year as Chiacchia’s working student but now teaches at Grandview Farms in Hawkestone, Ont., where she and Roux are coached by her fellow instructor, Bob Holman. She’s also pursuing a degree in interior design.

“He’s my only one,” Habermehl said of her horse. “He’s a potential team horse, hopefully. I really owe thanks to Bob Holman because he was really instrumental in getting him, and me, back into shape. We weren’t even sure he would be able to come back.”

O’Neill, 27, works as the manager and trainer at Antebellum and rode That’ll Do, an 8-year-old gelding. After being eliminated on cross-country at the American Eventing Championships (Ill.) in September, O’Neill was concerned her horse’s confidence might have been affected, but he showed no qualms about the course at Midsouth.

“He got a 33 in the dressage, and he smoked [the cross-country],” she said. “He was great.”

Clark, who works at the University of Kentucky’s beef cattle research facility, rode Constant Faith, a 16-year-old gelding. The 27-year-old won her last two preliminary events with “Romeo,” but had a stop in the water on cross-country.

“I got him there too weak,” she admitted.

Their low score from the previous phase kept them in the running, however. “He had the best dressage score [28.8] he’s ever had.”

It was Newton who played the role of fearless leader for his younger cohorts, however. A field veterinarian who specializes in reproduction and performance horses at Rood And Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Newton rode Antebellum Jewel, a formerly “slightly psychotic” 9-year-old mare. The pair placed third after dressage and added nothing to their initial score in subsequent phases to move into first overall.

“Eventing is truly her calling,” said Newton, who hopes to see the horse progress up the levels quickly. Clark has also helped compete the mare, and O’Neill gives her diligent care at the farm. “We’ve made her life happy,” he said.

Hairy Trotters Triumphant

Thinking they were going to have this year’s American Eventing Championship amateur training level winner on their team until their friend Ashley DeBoer had to scratch at the last minute, the members of the Hairy Trotter Event Team were initially disappointed.

But Michigan riders Laura Mungioli, Kirsten Anderson and Courtney Ainsworth welcomed their new West Virginia teammate, Shannon Loomis, with open arms, and they ended up with a win in the training ATC by a margin of nearly 20 points.

“I was going to do a 100 [mile endurance ride], but then we got in to this,” said Loomis, who rode her versatile 8-year-old Morgan, Quest For Star, to 21st place individually in open training, division 3. “I was on the wait list, and they called me last Sunday.

“I’m mostly an endurance rider, but I also do this for fun,” she explained. “I would like to take him prelim, but also do some FEI 100s, and I’m hoping to get into a CDE.”


For Loomis, a veterinarian from Philippi, W.Va., riding is a family affair. She owns six Morgans, which allows her family to enjoy an array of disciplines. Her 8-year-old daughter competes in 50-mile endurance rides and baby green level events, while her 5-year-old son is doing 25-mile rides. “My daughter started at 4, but he’s a late bloomer,” she said.

It was Ainsworth who led the way to victory in DeBoer’s absence, though the latter rider was on hand to encourage and support her friends from the ground. Placing second in open training, division 3, with Skyz The Limit, Ainsworth said DeBoer’s coaching was highly appreciated.

Ainsworth, who works for Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids, Mich., began eventing six years ago with “Will,” a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she admitted. “I just bought this horse, and it worked out. He was a 5-year-old bred in Michigan with 30 days on him. He’s my baby. Even my husband says Will’s first, he’s second.”

The pair has now moved up to preliminary with the help of their coach, Philippa Richards, who also trains Anderson. Riding Red Comet, a 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, Anderson finished 10th in open training, division 2.

“He’s not the bravest horse,” admitted Anderson. “He looks at every jump. He doesn’t stop, and he’s very honest—he just wiggles around out there. But he loves to run.”

An obstetrician from Ada, Mich., Anderson said it’s sometimes difficult to find time to compete since she’s often on call, but she managed to make it to six competitions this summer, and she hopes to move up to preliminary next year.

“This is my outlet, my hobby and my exercise,” she said.

Mungioli rounded out the team with If By Chance, a 9-year-old Trakehner gelding. The pair placed seventh in open training, division 1.

A One-Star Win For Whitehouse

A throng of local supporters turned out to witness young rider Marty Whitehouse’s triumph in the CCI* division and the USEF 19- to 21-year-old CCI* championship, though the University of Kentucky junior believed the crowd was there as much for her horse, Final Score, as for her.

“Everyone knows ‘Banks’ around here,” said Whitehouse of her veteran Thoroughbred gelding. “He absolutely loved all the attention he got around here. He was looking for peppermints the whole time throughout the awards.”

The 20-year-old pre-veterinary student from Nicholasville, Ky., has six one-stars, including two team bronze medals from the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships, under her belt, but the CCI* win at Lexington was the first for the pair.

“He really is a saint,” said Whitehouse of the 12-year-old bay. “He’s just the perfect prelim and one-star horse. I got my [Pony Club] A rating on him two years ago, he’s done the quadrille demonstration at Rolex [Kentucky CCI****], and I even give lessons on him. Our vet’s 4-year-old daughter walks around on him.”

Whitehouse and Banks sat second after dressage and made quick work of the endurance test on Saturday,
moving into first after Jamie Furtado and Come Out And Play incurred time penalties on phase D.

Despite several hard rubs in the show jumping, the rails stayed aloft, and Whitehouse and Banks stopped the timers exactly on the optimum.

“It was one of the best show jumping rounds he’s had, and it all came together for once,” Whitehouse

Aside from her pre-vet courses and her work with Banks, she trains her own young horse and four Holsteiners for a local veterinarian, and she also teaches lessons and participates actively in her sorority.

“I was going to run at the American Eventing Championships [Ill., in September], but because of my school schedule, I had to withdraw. It’s been crazy around the barn, but everything ran perfectly, and I’ve just timed things well this fall. It’s definitely worth it.”

“He’s wonderful,” the 22-year-old Metamora, Mich., rider said simply. “I’ve had him for 2 1⁄2 years, and the first year was spent bucking and bolting, but his breeders now love the fact that he’s doing something great.

“This season has been hit or miss on cross-country,” she continued. “But when we got out there, it was like he just said ‘Leave me alone, Mom. I got it!’ He’s really teaching me to be a good rider.”

Currently a student at Michigan State University, Mungioli is applying for veterinary school, but plans to relocate to Tennessee in January to train with Bill Hoos for a year.

Foxy Ladies Lead The Way

Having completed their final rides before noon on Sunday, the members of the Fox Force Four novice team were kept in suspense until the final scores were posted almost five hours later. But the wait was well worth it when they moved up from fourth to first.

Named in reference to Uma Thurman’s character in the movie Pulp Fiction, the four femme fatales from Ohio captured the team title after logging excellent scores in the final cross-country phase.

Though Alison Kroviak was kicking herself for forgetting to start her watch on cross-country and incurring speed penalties with her Percheron-Thoroughbred mare, Kona, she still placed third in open novice, division 8.

“I was too fast on a draft cross!” Kroviak said, laughing. “She won her dressage, though, which was a big success, and I can’t remember the last time I had a clean stadium round. It was an absolutely great cross-country ride. If I can stay out of her way, she will find a way over it. All I had to do was get her locked on and soften my arm.”

A chemist from Cleveland, Kroviak just relocated to Nashville, Tenn., so a team win was the cherry on top of a reunion with her Ohio friends.

“I traded my trailer for Kona in July, so somebody at my new barn who had known me three weeks loaned me her rig,” she said. “It was incredibly generous.”

Kroviak’s teammates Helen Rutter, Joanna Rae and Maggie Simak were quick to label their friend as generous as well.


“I would not have been as successful as I was last year if I had not been with Alison,” said Simak, whose mount Cappuccino was named the 2006 USEA Beginner Novice Horse of the Year based on points and placed second in the inaugural beginner novice division at the AEC.

Though Simak had an unfortunate fall on cross-country, her friends laughed good-naturedly at the fact that she used the very same jump at which she fell as a mounting block and continued on to finish the course.
“I was glad I was able to do that,” said Simak.

A 22-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding, “Cappy” has been Simak’s partner for almost nine years. The tax

Shull Steals The Show

By the end of the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon, there wasn’t a bare buckle to be found on Just My Style’s tack. With eight different rosettes to her name, Karen Shull was running out of room on her CCI* mount by the time her final victory gallop commenced.

Shull, 18, topped the CCI*-J division with “Paddy” on a score of 43.6, which earned her the USEF Junior CCI* National Championship, and led the Area V to a victory in the team competition.

And because her score bested that of every other one-star competitor, she also earned the overall USEF CCI* National Championship. In addition, her second horse, Rustic Design, finished seventh in the junior one-star division and championship.

“I never thought I’d have the best score and win the overall thing, and my team was amazing, so this was a huge payoff,” said the College Station, Texas, rider.
It was the Midsouth Three-Day that initially led Shull to Paddy, an 11-year-old gelding of unknown breeding, three years ago.

“My horse went lame at the first jog, so I went to look at horses with Nick Larkin all weekend,” recalled Shull.
Despite his questionable heritage, she took a chance on Paddy. “We had papers on him from the Paint Horse Registry, but when we contacted them, they said the name on the papers was from a horse that had died like 20 years ago. So we really don’t know. He does gait every once in awhile, so he may be part Saddlebred.”

At this year’s Midsouth, however, Shull led the competition from start to finish on her dressage score.

“I knew he could win dressage, but he’s never been a strong show jumper, so that was nerve-wracking,” she said. “Even though I had two rails in hand, I knew he usually averages about two rails. It was the first time I’d had a clean stadium in I don’t remember how long. He was the best I’ve ever had him go for me.”

A biology student at Texas A&M University, Shull plans to aim for medical school, but not before reaching another goal that has been eluding her over the past two years: competing at the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships.

attorney from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, said he came off the track, then participated in foxhunting, show hunters, dressage and now eventing.

Next year Simak plans to show at third level and try for her U.S. Dressage Federation bronze medal with the horse.

In open novice, division 6, Rae claimed fourth with another veteran, her 18-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding Subzero. Once dubbed “The Professor” by Jim Wofford at a clinic Rae attended, the 16-hand gray was the perfect partner for her after taking a seven-year break from competition.

“We’ve done three trainings this year already, so I was only worried about being lackadaisical,” she said. “I’m going to ride him next year and see how he does, but I don’t want to push him into his 20s.”

Rae, Newbury, Ohio, works part-time as an executive assistant and at Scenic Run Equestrian Center, where she and Simak board. In addition, she also earned her equine appraiser license.

Rutter, the team’s fourth member and a veterinarian from Athens, Ohio, finished 13th in open novice, division 5, with Pushthelight, a 6-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred who is co-owned by her neighbor, Terri Anderson.

After working as a correspondent for the Associated Press and enduring seven years as a prisoner of war in Lebanon, Anderson returned to the States and now runs a ranch and practices natural horsemanship. Although his bent turns to western riding, Rutter said he has been a terrific co-owner of “Push.”

At the AEC in September, Rutter and Push placed 19th in the amateur novice division, and Midsouth saw them putting in a flawless performance on cross-country.

“He sailed through [the cross-country],” said Rutter. “He went really well this weekend, but we came here to do this really as a team, so that’s what really paid off.”

Hagyard Midsouth Tidbits

•    After volunteering as chef d’equipe for all of Area VIII’s ATC teams from novice to preliminary level, Kate Grant won the Kerrits “Who I Am Makes A Difference” Award, given to the individual who showcases a positive personality and exemplifies team spirit.

•    Ruthie Harbison’s CCI* mount Emily’s Fancy was named best presented horse at the one-star level by the ground jury.

•    Though illness forced him to postpone his cross-country ride until later in the day on Saturday, Sean McQuillan still took second place in the open CCI* division with Dunlavin Mertise, who was also named the best conditioned horse.

•    A second-placed finish in the CCI* division with Come Out And Play made Jamie Furtado this year’s USEF amateur national champion.

•    The Area V team, comprised of riders Karen Shull withy Just My Style, Abbie Golden with Phantom Pursuit and Kate Owens with Much Ado II, clinched the USEF Eastern Jr./Young Rider CCI* team title.

Kat Netzler




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