The American Eventing Championships, hosted by the United States Eventing Association, finished Sept. 2 after four days of equestrian competition at the Colorado Horse Park at the Pinery, south of Parker.
Dark clouds and scattered lightning postponed the third day of competition, when the advanced division was set to start its final round in show-jumping. That night a torrential downpour soaked the park.
To the riders, the rain was a blessing. On the final day, two divisions were set to finish final rounds. The sun shone and with hardly a cloud in the sky, the weather made for near-perfect riding conditions following the rain. The rain softened the dirt in the ring, making for an easier landing and better footing for the horses.
“My hat goes off to the course designers,” rider Tamra Smith said. “I actually told the crew that I would give them a cut of my prize money if I won because they worked really hard. The footing felt phenomenal.”
More than $100,000 in prize money was given away to all levels from first through sixth place at the at the Colorado Horse Park. This was the first year the Colorado Horse Park hosted the AEC's, the nation's highest level of competition for the sport of eventing. More than 150 riders from around the country, from novice to advanced, competed in dressage, cross-country and show-jumping for the chance to be crowned a winner at the AEC.
Smith, with her 12-year-old horse Mai Baum, finished with a score of 28.0, 8.5 points ahead of the next-best finisher in the advanced division. She walked away with $20,000 in prize money and praise for her horse.
“I thought it may monsoon,” Smith said. “But it didn't and she held it together and she is very obedient. We just schooled in there and kept it conservative.”
Jordan Linstedt came in second place behind Smith with a score of 39.5.
“I didn't go out of the start box with the plan to be super competitive,” Linstedt said. “I just went out there to let him run and I never kicked him once around the course. He flowed with it.”
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