American Eventing Championships

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By Meredith Tipton

The 2016 American Eventing Championships (AECs) took place August 31-September 4, 2016 at the beautiful Tryon International Equestrian Center in Spring Mill, NC. The AECs are held annually and provide national championships for the Olympic sport of eventing, from the beginner novice through advanced levels. Horses and riders must qualify each year to attend.

This year the event was held for the first time at the newly constructed Tryon International Equestrian Center.  The venue offers 10 rings with all-weather footing, facility wide horse paths, numerous restaurants and shops on site, and a cross country course that is built upon 6” of ESI footing and specialized grass. It is truly spectacular!

This year’s event saw 690 horses entered with 600 riders from 38 different states vying for 18 national championships. Recent Rio Olympic riders Boyd Martin and Lauren Keiffer were a few of the top 4-star riders in attendance. One might easily bump into Buck Davidson, Allison Springer, or Marilyn Little while shopping, riding, or eating. The AECs did not disappoint. They offered beautiful facilities, fun activities, stout cross country courses, and an expansive environment for competition.

Two mid-south riders had the privilege of competing this year in North Carolina. Sydney Doss and her mount Road Less Traveled competed in the Jr. Novice division. Julia Jennings and her mount One Under Par competed in the 14-year-old and under Beginner Novice Division. Both Sydney and Julia ride and train with Meredith Tipton at River Run Eventing in Hernando, MS. These girls spent the last competitive season working hard to earn their way to the AECs.

For the Novice divisions, riders had to finish 1st or 2nd once or 3rd twice at a recognized USEA horse trial or finish 1st-5th at an area championship. To qualify, Sydney and “Trav” won the Poplar Place Jr. Novice division in January, then went on to finish 8th at the IEA Classic Novice 3 Day Event and 4th at the Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trials.

For the Beginner Novice divisions, riders must finish 1st-5th twice at a recognized USEA horse trial or 1st - 5th at an area championship. Julia and “Birdie” finished 2nd at Dunnabeck and 5th at Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials last fall, then finished this spring with 7th place at Spring Bay and 5th place at the Midsouth PC Horse Trials. 

The girls and their families made the ten and half hour trek to North Caroline in early September to compete against some of the best junior riders in the country. They both had lovely dressage tests and went into cross country day excited to tackle their courses. Since the facility is brand new, the cross country courses are still lacking extended galloping areas. However, what they lacked in terrain and technical elements, they made up for in height and width. The courses were stout and definitely maximum, but the specialized footing allowed for the track to ride very nicely. Both Sydney and Julia both went double clear on cross country.

For show jumping, riders had the opportunity to ride in the George Morris Arena. Not only is this arena surrounded by stadium seating, but it is in a bowl with shops, restaurants, and a walking area above the arena. There were Jumbotrons both in the arena and also in the warm up area so riders could see how the course was riding while warming up. The tunnel down to the arena was intimidating for some young horses, but most took the strange environment in stride.

Sydney and Julia both had beautiful rounds. Although they each had rails down, they successfully completed their first AECs with Syd and Trav finishing 38th in Jr. Novice and Julia and Birdie finishing 22nd in Jr. Beginner Novice 14 and under.  Both girls came away with a completion medal and the desire to return next year. The 2016 American Eventing Championships were spectacular!  If you get the chance to qualify – go!

The AEC is the annual championship for every level of the Olympic equestrian sport of eventing, from Beginner Novice to Advanced, in America.Find more information about the American Eventing Chamionships at: Find full results of this year’s event at:

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