Lexington, Ky.—Sept. 1
Six days, 969 competitors, 23 championships. The sun is setting on the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships, and no matter how the week ended for the competitors, most were in agreement on one thing: The opportunity to gallop across a cross-country course that’s seen some of the greatest names in eventing and then to walk down the ramp into the grand prix ring is an unforgettable experience.
After an action-packed week, the beginner novice competitors got to close out the championship, so let’s take a look at the winners from those divisions.
Beginner Novice Master Amateur Championship: Carla Jimmerson and Valley Creek Carlin LeBeau (25.1)
Carla Jimmerson never intended to keep her homebred Connemara Valley Creek Carlin LeBeau. After owning both of his parents (Heaven’s Ridge Patrick LeBeau—Beacon’s Cherubin Cathleen) she bred the gelding thinking she’d sell him. But once he was on the ground, she knew he’d probably stick around.
“I named him Carlin LeBeau which is French for beautiful little champion, which is so appropriate because now he is a beautiful little champion,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed of this moment; I’m just so proud of him. It’s been a long, fun partnership.”
After starting back at the beginning following some nerve-pain issues on “Carlin’s” part, Jimmerson had a foot-perfect weekend in the beginner novice master amateur championship to take the win.
“It’s just been magical the whole weekend, even to the first day for dressage—someone accidentally braided my horse, and it was like the best braid job I’ve ever seen, so I knew it was starting out great,” she said. “I found out it was somebody behind me that was meant to be braided, and I got braided instead, but it was beautiful! That was kind of fun. I had a great test, and my cross-country couldn’t have been better, and then today, it couldn’t be any better. He was just forward and in front of my leg, and it just felt good.”
Beginner Novice Rider Championship: Sherry Pound and Gestalt (28.1)
Sherry Pound needed a little redemption at this year’s USEA American Eventing Championships. At last year’s championships in Colorado things were looking pretty good for her, and she and Gestalt sat second after dressage, but things fell apart from there.
“I’ve wanted to come since last year, hoping that we could do a bit of a better showing than last year,” she said. “We were second after dressage last year and then had a disastrous, wild cross-country that put us to last place. I was hoping for a better result today. The fact that it’s in Kentucky at the Horse Park is just fantastic and to ride in the Rolex Stadium was super fun. I liked it all. It was a good weekend.”
They haven’t had the easiest season though. Gestalt got Pound off in January while going cross-country, and she broke her leg.
“I was non-weight-bearing for five weeks in a wheelchair, and I probably started riding again in April seriously; in March I’d get on and walk a little bit. This is our third show this year—good result!” she said. “I knew we were as ready as we were going to be. I’m not sure that I thought I’d win, but I knew we were ready for it.”
Beginner Novice Horse Championship: Alexa Ehlers and Clear Laveer (26.1)
Clear Laveer wasn’t supposed to come back to the AEC this year. After the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rascalino—Wincenta II) won the 2018 edition of the AEC, he was supposed to go to Alexa Ehlers’ older sister in Georgia. And while he did eventually go, his trip got delayed and he spent the winter sitting in a field.
After spending the spring and summer in Georgia, he returned to Ehlers’ farm in Lexington last month, and when Doug Payne suggested she bring him back, she decided why not.
“It’s a dressage horse,” she said. “But the thing is, I have to be honest, I’m so impressed with him coming in and wanting to go to each fence, and he was seeking them out. In the very beginning of him learning how to jump and all that stuff that wasn’t necessarily his first instinct. And so especially after yesterday it was exactly how I hoped. He came in, and he was starting to hunt stuff down.”
Beginner Novice Junior Championship: Ava Stevens and Two Against The World (29.6)
Once Ava Stevens landed from the final fence with all of the rails still in the cups, she was overcome with emotion. She smiled; she threw up her hands in victory, and yes there were some tears too. There was a lot riding on her ability to jump a clear round because the scores in the beginner novice junior championship were tightly bunched. But she did exactly what she needed to do, so it became an emotional moment.
“I had a fantastic day,” she said. “Oh my gosh, he was so good. He was amazing. It was the most intense stadium jumping of my life. I was scared out of my mind—I was dying emotionally throughout my ride. But my horse was with me the entire time; he gave me all the confidence in the world that I needed. I’m just so happy with him. There are no words.”
Beginner Novice Amateur Championship: Lily Barlow and Big Bear’s Cepheus (25.9)
Things looked a little different the last time Lily Barlow rode at the Kentucky Horse Park. The circumstances were wildly different, because last time she rode Grayboo in the Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships in 2013 and 2014, and this year she brought Werner Geven’s 5-year-old Connemara-Oldenburg (Cor De Lux—Big Bear’s Esther). Though the jumps were much smaller this time around, the pressure was no different.
“It was just so much fun seeing all the different competitors. I heard it’s the biggest horse trials that AEC has ever been, and it was so nice to see everyone else and all the different divisions. We had the Adult Team Challenge, and that was super fun. They just made it a super fun weekend for everyone.”
Beginner Novice Junior 14 & Under Championship: Tessa Geven and Tullymor’s Houdini (28.9)
As the daughter of Grand Prix dressage rider Marjolein Geven and Dutch eventer Werner Geven, it was likely that Tessa Geven would follow in her parents’ footsteps in the horse world. But while Tessa has been exposed to eventing for most of her life, her horse Tullymor’s Houdini has come to the sport relatively late in life.
The now 15-year-old Connemara (Fieldstream Riley—Kahlua) came to the Gevens as an unbroke 13-year-old. But the gelding has taken to eventing quickly and topped the beginner novice junior 14 & under championship.
“He was good,” she said. “I was nervous at the start, but show jumping is my favorite thing to do, so it was amazing.”
The Chronicle is on-site at the USEA American Eventing Championships bringing you coverage and beautiful photos from the competition.
Ride times and live scoring are here: https://eventing.startboxscoring.com/eventsr/aec/ht0819/
The schedule is available here: https://useventing.com/events-competitions/aec/aec-schedule-of-events