Kim Keeton and Accolade Draw Rave Reviews at the Spalding Labs/United States Eventing Association Young Event Horse East Coast Championship
RELEASE: October 28, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the United States Eventing Association
While their senior counterparts strutted their stuff down the centerlines in the CCI** and CCI*** divisions at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials, four- and five-year-old stars-to-be were flashing their talents in the Spalding Labs/United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships.
Youngsters from around the eastern United States gathered to show their potential in conformation, dressage, and jumping in their own championship division, which ran in conjunction with the prestigious fall CCI*** Championship event, in Elkton, MD.
In the Four-Year-Old division, Kim Keeton and Accolade, a Swedish Warmblood/Thoroughbred stallion owned by Keeton and Hope Thomas, found themselves draped with the tricolor ribbon in the winner’s circle after scoring big in the jumping phase. Earning a 43.70% out of a possible 50% for their fluent and bold trip across the country, the pair ascended from third place to the top of the class on a total score of 84.65%, the highest of both Young Event Horse divisions.
Keeton is a full-time equine vet from Watkinsville, GA, and bred “Bear” herself. “I was a vet student actually,” said Keeton, “and he was my first frozen semen experiment. He was born in my lap.”
With proven bloodlines including the strong dressage and flat performance of a warmblood and the speed and agility of a Thoroughbred, Keeton knew from day one Bear would be a powerful eventing prospect. He is out of an off-the-track Thoroughbred, Her Elegancy, and by Amiral, a dressage stallion ridden by Kyra Kyrklund at the 1996 Olympic Games.
“They mixed quite well,” Keeton explained. “He had what she didn’t and she had what he didn’t, and for once it all came together.”
Of a possible 35% in the dressage phase, Bear produced a 29.82%, once again the highest score of both divisions. For his conformation, he earned an 11.13% out of a possible 15%. Surprisingly, he’s only been in regular work since last December.
“He’s only been under tack for six or eight months now, and I’m a complete amateur so this has kind of been my gig from the beginning," Keeton explained. "The [Young Event Horse] program has been good for him to develop. He did Beginner Novice this summer and this just kind of made sense as the next step.”
She plans to keep him going, “take it slow, let him develop, and let him grow up and be a big horse," she assured. "He’s on the right track.”
For co-owner Hope Thomas, this significant victory meant more than just ribbons, trophies, prizes, and bragging rights. “This has been the worst week of my life up until now because I had to put my dog down before I came here,” Thomas said fighting back tears. “But this is awesome, I’m just tickled! It’s been from one extreme to the other for me.”
Though the morning of the jumping phase felt like a frosty December day rather than mid-October, the wind and rain didn’t seem to phase most of the youngsters and the footing held up well.
“The courses were very honest and straightforward,” Keeton said. “I think if you get out there, put your leg on, and ride forward, the horses develop confidence as they go along, and that’s what the [Young Event Horse] program is designed for.”
Keeton and Thomas originally intended to keep Bear a stallion and this victory further bears witness to his stellar bloodlines and potential. And though he may be bold on course, for a stallion, “he’s very good around the barn,” said Keeton, “and has covered a couple mares.”
Buck Davidson came closest to Keeton in the Four-Year-Old division aboard No More Rocks, an Oldenburg gelding owned and bred by Sharon Will, and co-owned by Davidson. He earned an 11% for conformation, 27.37% in dressage, and 42.06% after jumping for a total score of 80.43%.
“We’re very excited about Rocky’s future and plan on developing him to his full potential,” said Will.
Leslie Law and Kalamata, a Trakehner mare owned by Cheryl and Tim Holekamp and bred by New Spring Farm, rounded out the top three with a score of 80.38%.
In the Five-Year-Old division, Matt Flynn and BreakThrough graduated atop the class with a combined score of 84.65%.
Flynn found BreakThrough doing the young horse show jumping classes in Ireland. He was bred there by Paul Dillon and came to the United States this April and started eventing in May.
“I think the Young Horse program here is a great program to showcase these young horses, and he’s a great horse to support the program,” Flynn said. “He had done the four-year-old show jumping classes in Ireland and it’s been interesting for me to see how he does here.”
A Dutch Warmblood gelding by Heart Breaker (Dutch Warmblood) and out of Cabata (Dutch Warmblood), jumping is in his blood and clearly his strongest suit. Flynn commented that the Five-Year-Old division's championship course was certainly up to par and gave his horse a chance to showcase his talent.
“We all got to see how the horses reacted to more substantial questions,” Flynn said.
Star Dazzler, a Sport Horse gelding owned and bred by Courtney Cooper and her husband Neal Camens, wore the Five-Year-Old Reserve Championship ribbon with a total score of 79.57%.
“The Young Event Horse classes for us have always been a part of the program with our young horses and bringing them along,” said Cooper. “I think it’s a really good program to develop the youngsters without the pressure of a competition, but with enough atmosphere to give them the competition experience.”
With numerous young horses by Mark Todd's eventing stallion, Aberjack, in Cooper’s breeding program, she chose to breed her Irish Sport Horse mare, Heavenly Star, to Catherston Dazzler to produce Star Dazzler and diversify the talent in her barn.
“We didn’t want to keep breeding the same horse over and over again,” Cooper explained. “Based on his bloodlines and what he’s produced, we thought the Dazzler line would be a good choice.”
Rounding out the top three in the Five-Year-Old division was Master Frisky, an Irish Sport Horse gelding by Master Imp and out of Frisky Legs, owned by Charlotte Hogg and ridden by Kurt Martin. They finished on a score of 80.38%.
“He’s so rideable and trainable, I love him and love riding him,” Martin said. “I think holding the Championships here was perfect. It was just another reason for me to be here!” he added with a laugh.
For complete results, visit www.fairhillinternational.com/YEH%20Score%20sheet%20Fair%20Hill%202009.htm