Category Archives: USEF

Wheatland Farm and Marie Vonderheyden Named as Finalists for FEI Awards 2019

Lausanne, Switzerland – The Fédération Équestre International (FEI) has released the list of finalists for the FEI Awards 2019, which includes United States Equestrian Federation/U.S. Para-Equestrian Association Para-Dressage Center of Excellence Wheatland Farm in the FEI Solidarity category and U.S. para-dressage rider Marie Vonderheyden in the FEI Against All Odds category. Public voting to help determine the winners closes Monday, October 7. Category winners will be honored at the FEI Awards Gala on November 19, hosted during the 2019 FEI General Assembly in Moscow, Russia.

Public voting will count towards 50% of the overall selection for each category. Click here to VOTE NOW.

Wheatland Farm, founded by Mark and Muriel Forrest, is one of only nine USEF/USPEA Para-Dressage Centers of Excellence and is a leading member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), providing therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities and therapeutic programs. As a Center of Excellence, Wheatland Farm is instrumental in providing educational and developmental opportunities for para-dressage athletes and coaches in the United States, offering services which include classification, trainer/coach identification, and sport opportunities, as well as programs in both human and equine sports science and medicine. Wheatland Farm has remained heavily involved with the U.S. Para-Dressage Program and serves as an important touch point between the Developing and High Performance teams and the therapeutic riding community.

“We are honored and humbled to be shortlisted for such a wonderful award. Wheatland Farm’s mission is to provide healing and hope through an excellent, world-class adaptive sport program that is inclusive of all equestrians,” said Muriel Forrest, co-founder of Wheatland Farm. “We are grateful for the support of US Equestrian, who together with the United States Para-Equestrian Association, are providing amazing support for para-equestrian sport, and we are honored to be a Center of Excellence for them in that capacity. We believe that this nomination will help to raise national and global awareness of para-equestrian sport in general and para-dressage, in particular. Thank you to the FEI for considering Wheatland Farm, and we humbly ask our friends in the equestrian community and the general public to lift up para-equestrians by voting for Wheatland Farm.”

Marie Vonderheyden, the only U.S. athlete nominated for this year’s awards, suffered a devastating riding accident in 2015, which led to medical professionals placing her in a medically induced coma for seven weeks. When she awoke, her family was informed that the regulatory part of her brain controlling personality and speech was irreparably damaged and her chances of walking again were slim. She showed tremendous perseverance throughout the recovery process, in which she re-learned how to swallow, the alphabet, colors, emotions, and balance. She reconnected with horses through therapeutic riding rehabilitation and progressed from there, ultimately learning how to ride again without assistance. She competed in her first para-dressage competition in 2019 and has intentions of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Marie’s commitment and determination to return to the saddle is truly inspiring.

“A friend of ours submitted Marie’s story. We’re just amazed and so thrilled. We’re very humbled. We have so much thanks and appreciation for the people supporting and promoting Marie,” said Cecile Vonderheyden, Marie’s mother. “This is going to help us tremendously in our quest for Marie to go further in this sport and to help her accomplish her goal of competing at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”

About the FEI Awards
Launched in 2009, the FEI Awards have celebrated the champions of the sport both on and off the field, inspiring individuals and organizations from all over the world. The nominated categories presented at the FEI Awards Gala are the Longines FEI Rising Star, Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete, Cavalor FEI Best Groom, FEI Against All Odds, and the FEI Solidarity award.

More about the FEI Awards here: https://www.fei.org/awards/about.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Graves Earns World Cup Silver for Third Time in Gothenburg

Laura Graves and Verdades (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Gothenburg, Sweden – In the dramatic conclusion of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, Laura Graves and her loyal mount Verdades piaffed their way to silver in front of an enthusiastic Swedish crowd of more than 11,500. Showing the strength of the American dressage program, all three U.S. combinations broke the top seven with scores over 80%.

“I was thrilled. [Verdades] was so rideable, and I was just really thrilled with his focus and his energy today,” said Graves. “Like Isabel [Werth] said, the crowd was amazing. They all have this ticker of a live score, and as riders you are going ‘yeah, this feels pretty good.’ You kind of hope that the judges are agreeing with [the crowd]. You hear the crowd clapping along and you think ‘okay, well at least everyone is enjoying it as much as I am,’ and that’s really special.”

With a final score of 87.179%, Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her and Curt Maes’s 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding gave now three-time World Cup champion Isabel Werth (Germany) and Weihegold OLD a run for their money. With 10 combinations scoring over 80%, it was a tight race to the finish and Graves rode 14th in the order.

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation

Graves Takes Second in FEI Dressage World Cup Final Grand Prix

Laura Graves and Verdades (Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Gothenburg, Sweden – In an exciting day of competition, U.S. dressage and jumping combinations found their rhythm at the FEI World Cup™ Finals. Laura Graves and Verdades earned second in the FEI Dressage World Cup Final Grand Prix, while Beezie Madden and Breitling LS advanced to fourth after the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final II.

With poise and grace, the U.S. dressage combinations trotted down centerline on Friday ready to represent American dressage. Their hard work and dedication paid off, resulting in all three combinations placing in the top eight in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Grand Prix. Laura Graves and Verdades led the way for the U.S., placing second on 80.109% closely behind Germany’s Isabel Werth.

Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own and Curt Maes’s 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding found their rhythm in the large Scandinavium Arena in front of a knowledgeable Swedish audience.

“I thought [feeling super]. He was super rideable today,” said Graves. “I think tomorrow will be an interesting competition for everyone, and, hopefully, my horse gives me the same great feeling that he did today… I feel really, really confident in how we have prepared him for this competition.”

Madden Moves Up, Tied for Fourth after Round II of Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final

With ground to cover, the U.S. combinations headed into Friday evening’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final II looking to improve their positions in the second round of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final. Round II saw a shift in the leaderboard, and Madden and Breitling LS jumped a commanding and nearly flawless round to place fifth in the class and fourth overall.

After jumping a clear round on a time of 76.41 seconds, Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Abigail Wexner’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion headed into the jump-off with seven other top combinations. Their jump-off time of 34.75 seconds was the fastest of the round but a rail at the final jump cost them the double-clear. Sitting on just three penalties, and tied for fourth with Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and Olivier Philippaerts, as well as Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, Madden and Breitling LS sit less than one rail from the current leader headed into Sunday’s final.

By US Equestrian Communications Department

The Exciting Longines Masters of New York Is Back

Top riders in the world will gather for the Longines Masters of New York, April 25-28, as the Riders USA team seeks to earn the win against the Riders Europe team in the thrilling speed duals that make up the Riders Masters Cup, a new intercontinental jumping event. On Saturday, April 27, the Longines Masters of New York will host the fourth edition of the Riders Masters Cup, which has been dominated by the Riders Europe team since its inception. But in April, in front of a home crowd and with an enthusiastic audience cheering them on, the Riders USA team may have the home-team advantage.

The action for top international riders continues with the Longines Masters Grand Prix of New York on Sunday, April 28, and the Longines Speed Challenge on Friday, April 26, while up-and-coming riders go head to head in the Masters Two classes each day, ranging from 1.15m to 1.45m. Tickets are available for day and evening sessions. Other entertainment includes the AKC Agility Premier Cup canine agility competition on Thursday, April 25, the IHSA Metropolitan Invitational collegiate rider competition on Friday, April 26, and the remarkable equestrian performer Santi Serra on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 26-28.

Head to www.longinesmasters.com/en/new-york for the full schedule, information, and tickets.

Buy your tickets before April 7 and save 20% on all session tickets using promo code USEF20.

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation

USEF Network and Equestrian Sport Productions Announce Live Streaming Partnership

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian and Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) are pleased to announce their partnership designating the USEF Network as the exclusive live streaming platform for ESP events for the remainder of the 2019 season at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF).

Events streamed on the USEF Network will be free to watch for US Equestrian competing and fan members. Free fan member sign-up and promotional codes will be available each week, beginning with the $25,000 ProElite® National Jumper Classic on Thursday, February 28, using code 2019WEF8. To sign up for a free fan membership, please visit here.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with US Equestrian and the USEF Network for the remainder of the winter season here in Wellington for our streaming needs. We have a great working relationship with US Equestrian and it was very logical for us to work together to help bring our competition streams to a mass audience,” said Michael Stone, President of ESP. “The streams are free to view with a fan membership, which we feel is a great way to help US Equestrian build comradery and interest in our U.S. athletes and competitions.”

The following are the remaining 2019 events to be streamed by the USEF Network:

  • Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) 8 (February 27 – March 3), including the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*
  • WEF 9 (March 6-10)
  • WEF 10 (March 13-17)
  • WEF 11 (March 20-24)
  • WEF 12 (March 27-31), including the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*
  • AGDF 8 (March 1), including “Friday Night Stars” Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W presented by Havensafe Farm
  • AGDF 10 (March 15), including the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ USA
  • AGDF 12 (March 29)

Visit the USEF Network for a full list of live, upcoming, and on-demand content.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Live Oak International: Ten Things to Know

Allison Stroud’s four-in-hand competes at the 2018 Live Oak International. Photo: Bianca McCarty.

Live Oak International, which takes place March 7-10 in Ocala, Fla., offers world-class competition in two sports: driving and jumping. The driving event is one of the largest driving competitions in the United States, and the jumping competition, the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala, is part of the prestigious North American League. But there’s a lot more to know about this unique competition. We’ve got you covered with 10 fast facts, including live stream information and how to buy tickets to attend in person.

By US Equestrian Communications

US Equestrian Launches Pilot Phase of U.S. Dressage Coaches Support Network

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian (USEF) has announced the launch of a new U.S. Dressage Coaches Support Network that will gain momentum in 2019. Still in its infancy, the aim of this pilot program is to establish a group of like-minded dressage trainers to support U.S. dressage program events and initiatives. Select dressage trainers will work in concert with and support the current U.S. dressage coaching staff of Technical Advisor and Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald, Development Coach Charlotte Bredahl, Youth Coach George Williams, and Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig.

The immediate initiatives of the Coaches Support Network will seek to make U.S. dressage programs more accessible, working with the U.S. dressage coaching staff to seek out new and developing talent, provide support at competitions, offer additional training opportunities to athletes, and build comradery amongst the U.S. dressage community. Willy Arts (Hanford, Calif.), Allison Brock (Wellington, Fla.), Ashley Holzer (Wellington, Fla.), and Guenter Seidel (Cardiff, Calif.) have been identified as the first trainers to be selected to the network.

“We are very excited to be bringing on a network of trainers and coaches that already exist in our own U.S. dressage community,” said McDonald. “Bringing in dressage coaches with similar goals to our program can only help us to further reach out to and develop the pool of talent that we know exists among our athletes and horses.”

More information will follow in the coming months regarding the U.S. Dressage Coaches Support Network and other initiatives designed to continue to build depth in the dressage programs in the U.S.

For more information on the U.S. Dressage Coaches Support Network, please contact Hallye Griffin, Managing Director of Dressage at hgriffin@usef.org.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Brenin: The Story behind the Roster

Photo: Jeanne@Genie Images.

When Darcie Grote receives her copy of US Equestrian magazine’s annual Horse of the Year issue in mid-April, she’ll have an extra reason to celebrate her horse’s year-end championship. Brenin — or Nickie, as he’s known around the barn — lost an eye in January 2018 to a cancer so rare that he’s the only horse ever documented as having it. But that didn’t stop him from having a successful season, and Grote says the experience has only strengthened their partnership and her respect for his stoicism and big heart.

Read more here.

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation

Annex A, Supplement to Dressage DR121 of USEF Dressage Rules, Updates Effective Feb. 1

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian (USEF) requests that members review Annex A, a supplement to DR121 of the USEF Dressage Rules, for updates and changes that are in effect as of February 1, 2019. These rules can be found on the USEF website under the Dressage “Rules & Equipment” section, in the forms and publications.

Important to note are the following, in addition to the updates and changes:

  • Some previously unpermitted bits are now allowed at USEF/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) dressage competitions.
  • New in 2019, for curb bits used in a double bridle, the maximum height of the deviation is 30 mm from the lower part of the tongue side to the highest part of the deviation. The widest part of the deviation must be where the mouthpiece contacts the tongue and must have a minimum width of 30 mm.
  • All bits/equipment labeled as “Pending Review” in Annex A are not allowed in USEF/USDF competitions until determined otherwise (in Annex A).
  • Please refer to the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Dressage Rules directly for permitted saddlery/equipment in FEI CDI events.

Complete USEF Dressage Rules can be found on the USEF website here. The Dressage “Rules & Equipment” section of the USEF website will be the official place for posting updates to DR121 regarding legal or illegal bits and equipment for dressage competition based upon FEI rulings and submissions for approval to the USEF Dressage Department. Additionally, competitors are reminded to periodically review Annex A for updates regarding bits and equipment throughout the competition year.

Questions related to Annex A and Dressage DR121 should be directed to Hallye Griffin, Managing Director of Dressage, at hgriffin@usef.org or Hannah Niebielski, Director of Dressage, National Programs, at hniebielski@usef.org.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Verdades and Cobra Win at 2018 Horse of the Year Gala

West Palm Beach, Fla. – US Equestrian is pleased to share that Verdades, owned by Laura Graves and Curt Maes, has been voted the 2018 International Horse of the Year, and Cobra, owned by Marsha Hartford-Sapp, has been voted the 2018 National Horse of the Year.

Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda/Goya), a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, affectionately known as Diddy, began his journey to international success in 2014 after garnering attention from his reserve-champion finish at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. Since his launch into the spotlight with his life-long rider and trainer Graves, Verdades’s achievements and continued success are profound. In 2018, Verdades again proved why he is one of the best horses to grace the international dressage ring as he won the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Paris and helped the U.S. team earn a silver medal in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany. He and Graves then rode for silver medal-winning The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018.

Since being rounded up in the mountains of Nevada at the age of six, Cobra’s trainer and owner Marsha Hartford-Sapp has been devoted to the 14-year-old mustang gelding and proceeded training him with caution and respect for his instincts, creating a deep bond. Their mutual trust has seen them through competitions in both classical and Western dressage, where Cobra’s versatility and talent for each has been apparent. As one of the founding horses of USEF Western dressage competition, Cobra was one of the first recipients of the 2015 Horse of the Year awards in that discipline and has continued to collect numerous accolades ever since.

“It wasn’t even about that moment when the Olympic medal was placed around my neck. It was about the joy. Despite hardships, heartbreaks, and massive, massive life failures, always overwhelming joy… [and] the fact that this great horse brings so much joy to so many people.” – Laura Graves on her 2018 International Horse of the Year

“Several years ago, I stood in the middle of a round pen with a horse that was six years old, rounded up by a helicopter, and never touched by human hands.” – Marsha Hartford-Sapp

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation