Ehrhardt, S.C. – The Broxton Bridge Plantation in Ehrhardt, S.C., played host to the inaugural USEF Endurance National Championships on November 14-16 as part of the 2019 North American Endurance Championships. In addition, an unofficial FEI team competition was integrated into the competition at the CEI2*/CEIYJ2* and CEI1*/CEIYJ1* levels to strengthen team development skills.
Taking a five-loop tour equating to a ride of 120.7 kilometers around Broxton Bridge Plantation, competitors in the two-star divisions made light work of the course. In the USEF CEI2* Endurance National Championship, Marcia Weilbach (Brooks, Ga.) and Zanthus Fury took home top honors. Weilbach and her 14-year-old Arabian gelding finished the ride in a time of 06:45:25 with an average speed of 17.8 kilometers per hour.
“It is such an honor to win a national championship title, especially when you know that everyone participating is every bit as eager as you to bring that title home,”Weilbach said. “It is humbling to realize that it is only through God's grace that we are able to physically do what we need to do to achieve such honor. What we ask and receive physically and mentally from our horses is truly so amazing; they are the stars, not us.”
In the USEF CEIYJ2* Endurance National Championship, Reine Pagliaro (Swannanoa, N.C.) and Beautiful Knightmare were crowned the national champions. As the rainy weather continued leading up to the start of the CEIYJ2* ride, Pagliaro adjusted her plans after consulting with her trainers and mentors to take a slower pace with Mary Kathryn Clark and Kathryn Clark’s nine-year-old Arabian gelding. The pair finished in a time of 13:44:56 with an average speed of 8.8 kilometers per hour.
“We started with a mindset of taking the time that we needed to get our horses though the whole ride safe, sound, happy, and healthy. At the end of the ride, I was thrilled that we had changed our objectives for that day and focused on a strong completion,” Pagliaro explained. “When I was first presented with the national championship title, I was truly shocked and hit with so many emotions. I felt excitement, accomplishment, and gratitude for everyone who had helped ‘Beau’ and me along the way.”
Riding in the one-star divisions with a course composed of three loops for a total of 80.6 kilometers, Cheryl Van Deusen (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) won the USEF CEI1* Endurance National Championship aboard her longtime partner, Hoover the Mover. Van Deusen and her 15-year-old Arabian gelding finished the ride in a time of 04:50:01 with an average speed of 16.7 kilometers per hour.
"The Broxton Bridge Plantation is a wonderful venue. The trail system is established, and the volunteers were absolutely wonderful. Hats off to Grace Ramsey for managing a great ride and to the USEF for their support,” Van Deusen said of the competition.
The inaugural title was a meaningful one for Van Deusen because she was able to partner with her homebred Hoover the Mover, who has found much success. The pair has topped the FEI Endurance Open Combination World Rankings in the past, and “Hoover” has close to 6,000 competitive miles to his record.
“To be champion in the CEI1* at Broxton and the recipient of the Best Conditioned Horse award by the veterinary team was wonderful," Van Deusen said.
Sophia Carpentier (Pomfret, Md.) and Perseveranze brought home the title of USEF CEIYJ1* Endurance National Champion. Carpentier, who began competing in endurance rides last year, finished the ride with Melody Blittersdorf’s nine-year-old Arabian gelding in a time of 07:13:25 with an average speed of 11.1 kilometers per hour.
“The ride went really well. Our goal going in was for me and Perseveranze (‘Perci’) to finish, which we did,” said Carpentier. “I was happy that we achieved that. The title is unexpected and exciting. And this achievement does not just belong to me; many people and horses helped me get here.”
The team competition operated in a similar format to that of FEI Nations Cups™. Only the top three scores from each team counted towards the team classification. At the end of the competition, the U.S. Southeast Team won the CEI1* gold medal. The team consisted of Van Deusen and Hoover the Mover; Rae Shumate-Tysor (Shelbyville, Tenn.) and Kount Czester SWA, Misty McAdams’s eight-year-old Arabian gelding; Thomas Rajala (Hillsborough, N.C.) and Hheartbreaker, his eight-year-old Arabian mare; and Shawn Polke (Lake Mary, Fla.) and WMA Riversong, Mary Kathryn Clark and Kathryn Clark’s eight-year-old Arabian mare.
The CEI1* silver medal went to Mexico. The team consisted of Jose Luis Flores Morones and Nazeefs Flashy Rose, Van Deusen’s 12-year-old Arabian mare; Jose Enrique Partida Fonseca and Golden Lightning, Janice Worthington’s 19-year-old Arabian gelding; and Mercedes Acuña Tardis and Merlot MHF, Debra Lemmons’s seven-year-old Arabian mare.
The FEI recognized the overall order of finish with the top 12 combinations in each senior and young rider division receiving individual awards.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOPC, and USEF sponsors and members.