Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023

Building Trust, The Four-Year-Plus-One Project And Head Of The Lake Dreams Fulfilled: Day 3 Of The AEC



Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 29

There was plenty of action to be had during the third day of the USEA American Eventing Championships, with 17 divisions competing across all three phases. The intermediate and preliminary divisions crowned their victors, training horses galloped across the hallowed grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park and novice danced their way around the sandbox.

Read about some of the pairs who headlined the day:

Open Intermediate: Tamie Smith and En Vogue (30.0)

Tamie Smith has spent the time since she first catch-rode Ruth Bley’s En Vogue in an event in February working on building a partnership, and that paid off—she led from start to finish in the intermediate.

“I just feel like now this weekend we’re just really on the same page,” said Smith. “I wasn’t sure what she’d feel like in the show jumping. That would probably be her biggest track that she’s done. She’s really spooky. When I first start warming her up I can’t get her over a 1-foot pole. She’s trying to stop at it because she’s so spooky at it.”


Tamie Smith and En Vogue led the intermediate from start to finish. Kimberly Loushin Photo

With the help of U.S. eventing high performance director Erik Duvander, Smith has been working on using small cavaletti exercises to help build the mare’s trust.

“She’s a trier—almost tries too hard and then tries in the wrong way,” she said. “He gave me a lot of cavaletti exercises and working on her trusting me and not tricking her to jump clean, just jumping the jumps and letting her be in the shape she wants to be because it’s a little bit unconventional. That over the last six months, she finally goes ‘OK, you’re not going to trick me, you’re not going to make me hit a rail.’ That can be hard for some horses. I think Erik’s brought that to the program. You teach horses to jump well by setting them up to jump well, not by making them hit a rail so they’re too careful. I would say I’ve learned the most from him that technique, and I think it’s paid off quite a bit with all my horses.”

Training Rider Championship Tie: Jackson Dillard and Layla Q and Steph Kohr and Irisina (29.8)

The training rider division is going to come down to the wire in show jumping as Jackson Dillard on Layla Q is currently tied with Steph Kohr and Irisina. They were tied for seventh after dressage, and double-clear cross-country efforts in a division that had a lot of shuffling moved them up to the top.

“ ‘Layla’ was my high school project; I got her as I started my freshman year of high school before she really knew a whole lot,” Dillard said of the 8-year-old Hanoverian (Loerke—Ayla Q). “She’s really been the horse that’s allowed me to grow and do so much. I’m so glad I can have a horse that’s so game and willing for me. I just graduated high school, and I’m actually taking a gap year, so my four-year project just turned into my four-year-plus-one project.”


Jackson Dillard and Layla Q are tied for the lead in the training rider division. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo

Kohr works as an instructor at Waredaca (Maryland), teaching all the way from starter through preliminary. She purchased Irisina, a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood, a year and a half ago, and the pair was qualified for the 5-year-old young event horse championships last year but missed out because of an abscess.

“She wants to be pretty careful,” Kohr said of how things look for show jumping. “Show jumping is probably my weakest phase, so we’ll see, but she’s a very good jumper. She’s certainly never seen anything like this, so we’ll just have to see how she handles it.”



Steph Kohr and Irisina are also tied for the lead in training rider. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Novice Horse Championship: Shanon Baker and Honor Society (27.7)

It wasn’t necessarily Shanon Baker’s plan to bring Honor Society to the AEC this year, but since she was bringing her intermediate horse Ballingowan Zeal, she decided to bring “Stanley” along for the ride when she saw he was qualified as well.

The 7-year-old Thoroughbred has so far proven it was worth throwing him on the trailer, as he leads novice horse championship after dressage on a 27.7.

“I came down with an intermediate horse and realized when we walked the course that they didn’t get to jump through the Head of the Lake, but the novice does, so I’m so excited, because by the time I’m done with my weekend I will have galloped around all of the Kentucky Horse Park because of the way the two different courses are set up, so my novice horse will get to run through the Head of the Lake. I’m really looking forward to it.”


Shanon Baker and the off-the-track Thoroughbred Honor Society lead novice horse. Samantha Haynie for Shannon Brinkman Photo

Other winners and leaders from the day:

Division Winners

Preliminary Amateur Championship: Arden Wildasin and Watch Out (28.6)

Preliminary Horse Championship: Bobby Meyerhoff and Lumumba (26.9)


Bobby Meyerhoff and Lumumba led the Bates preliminary horse division wire-to-wire. Kimberly Loushin Photo

Preliminary Junior/Young Rider Championship: Savannah Blackstock and Garryndruig Albie (29.3) (read about them here)


After winning the preliminary amateur division last year, Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh topped the Bates preliminary rider division this year. Kimberly Loushin Photo

Preliminary Rider Championship: Julia Spatt and 5o1 MacIntosh (30.4)

Leaders After Cross-Country

Open Modified/Training Championship: Kendyl Tracy and Bobbie Burns (27.5)


A clear cross-country round helped Kendyl Tracy and Bobbie Burns move into the lead of the modified/training division. Kimberly Loushin Photo

Training Amateur Championship: Eleanor Leonard and Alvescot Moneymaker (26.6)


Training Horse Championship: Madeline Backus and Reflektion’s Rio (27.0)

Training Junior Championship: Kiersten Miller and Mama Mia (24.3)

Leaders After Dressage

Adequan USEA Advanced Final: Boyd Martin and Long Island T (25.6) (read about the advanced here)

Novice Amateur Championship: Katilyn Brittendall and Blyth’s Madeline GS (26.3)

Novice Junior 15 And Under Championship: Crockett Miller and Mr. Panda (26.5)

Novice Junior Championship: Adalee Ladwig and Diego (28.5)

Novice Master Amateur Championship: Jane Musselman and Engapore (27.4)


Jane Musselman rode to the lead of the novice master amateur division with Engapore. Marie Cobb for Shannon Brinkman Photo

Novice Rider Championship: Madeline Bletzacker and Drummer Boy (25.8)

The Chronicle is on-site at the USEA American Eventing Championships bringing you coverage and beautiful photos from the competition. If you know a pair with a unique story, email Kimberly at

All of the Chronicle’s AEC coverage.

Ride times and live scoring are here:

The schedule is available here:




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