USEF/USET Foundation North American Futures Team Challenge Wraps Up Successful Week at MARS EQUESTRIAN Bromont CCI Three-Day Event
Thanks to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET), eight developing eventing athletes earned the opportunity to foster their team skills through the USEF/USET Foundation North American Team Challenge at the MARS EQUESTRIAN Bromont CCI Three-Day Event, June 5-9. Serving as an intra-country scrimmage mimicking the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ format, U.S. Eventing Director of High Performance Erik Duvander and U.S. Eventing Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law each served as a chef d’equipe for a team. Law’s team competed in the CCIU25 3*-L and Duvander’s team in the CCI3*-L, with scores weighted equally. Duvander’s team won the competition with an overall score of 96.90.
“Our feedback from some riders [after the Carolina International CCI and Horse Trials] was how can we make it more competitive, so that is something we will be looking at more in the future, as well as how Leslie and I set this up [in terms of] pressure we put [on the teams],” explained Duvander. “We are trying to win, and every team meeting we had has been about pressure. The riders feel it. However, it is important to have a nice balance. The difference [at Bromont] was we all [competed] in the [3*]. We will have more debriefs with these riders to see how [we can improve] next time around. There’s been a lot of learning, and we’ll tweak some things, but we are on the right track.”
Law’s team took the early lead following dressage with a score of 88.5. Alyssa Phillips of Fort Worth, TX, and Oskar, her and Julie Phillips’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and Alexandra Baugh of Lexington, KY, and Ballingowan Pizazz, Altorac Farm’s 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, took the top two spots after dressage in the CCIU25 3*-L division with scores of 25.7 and 28.8, respectively. Just over four points separated the teams heading into Saturday’s cross-country phase.
Duvander’s team stole the lead thanks to three double-clear cross-country efforts from Allie Knowles also from Lexington, KY, and Business Class, Katherine O’Brien’s nine-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Kimmy Cecere of Ocala, FL, and Landmark’s Monaco, Jacqueline Mars’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse/Thoroughbred stallion, and Sydney Elliott from Bossier City, LA, and QC Diamantaire, Carol Stephens’s nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
Duvander’s team maintained their lead following jumping with clear rounds from Knowles and Cecere, who placed second and third as individuals on scores of 28.7 and 32.1, respectively. Kylie Lyman of White River Junction, VT, who also competed on Duvander’s team with Xuanatu, Joan Nichols’s eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, won the CCI3*-L with Da Vinci Code, Nichol’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, on a score of 28.3, following double-clear cross-country and show jumping rounds. Although Law’s team came up short, Phillips and Baugh placed first and second with scores of 27.3 and 33.2, respectively. Each jumped clear on cross-country, incurring only time penalties, and produced double-clear show jumping rounds.
“Everyone barely knew each other walking into this. On the first day, everyone thinks of themselves as an individual, but within 24 hours, things start to change a little more,” said Duvander. “With our [cross-country] course walks, they wanted to walk it as a team. By doing [things like] this, people start feeling more comfortable with one another, they [learn] the character [of the team], and feel less threatened by one another because they are dependent on each other. There are many dynamics that happen naturally. The key is having respect for one another.”