Ninety-three competitors rode in the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association’s (ESDCTA) horse trials, held Oct. 1 at the Horse Park of New Jersey (HPNJ).

“I was thrilled with the courses at this October event,” said trainer Molly Kinnamon of MK Equestrian, Kirkwood, Pa. She rode two horses – Golden Beach Bum in Open Beginner Novice and Concord Dawn in Preliminary, winning the former division.  “Both courses had very well laid out courses that gave the horses an education as they went. The jumps were well built and decorated to give presence to the horses,” she said.

Golden Beach Bum is owned by Katie Kogut and Kinnamon is riding him to give him some experience while Katie is away at college.  “She’ll hopefully be able to take the reins over a few times throughout the year and over the summer… hopefully I’ll have him to the point where they can enjoy some novice events and start schooling training level,” she said. 

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The first time at the HPNJ was the charm for trainer/instructor Caroline Teich, of Berlin, Mass. She and Dondarrion won the Open Preliminary A division, the initial win for the horse at a recognized event. “I was very impressed with the course. It was a good mix of challenging questions and galloping fences,” said Teich, adding that the course also used terrain as a good challenge. For example, the coffin had a downward slope to the ditch and upward slope to the out.  “I was looking to try a new challenging course to make sure he was ready for our plans in the fall. He definitely felt confident at the end of the course which is always a goal of mine.” Dondarrion, 7, is in his first year at preliminary and has been with Teich since age 3. “He has always been a very quirky, spooky horse but he has tremendous talent and is very brave cross-country,” she said. Their goal for the end of the year is the Virginia CCI*. 

It was the first competition in the Novice division and the win for Dr. Emily Tincher, a small animal emergency vet who recently relocated to Philadelphia from Kentucky. They emerged as Novice Rider B champions. She pronounced the cross-country course as “great,” noting that this was only her 5-year-old horse’s third recognized horse trials. “It was a great event to move up at, the beginning of cross country was very inviting, and it built steadily to include a few combinations, a fun hanging log that simulated an early keyhole, and multiple water efforts. The stadium course rode smoothly and was pretty. I'm grateful my horse wasn't one that was spooked by the butterfly first jump,” she said.

Tincher says three important things happened while she was attending the University of Kentucky for her undergraduate degree. “I fell in love with thoroughbreds, started eventing, and met my husband, all of which led to the purchase of Blue, my 5-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred (OTTB) adopted from New Vocations two years ago. I worked with his sire, Indygo Shiner a bit, and was a veterinary technician at Hill 'N Dale Farm when he was foaled, making it feel like a perfect match. My goal as an adult amateur has always been for my horse and I to have as much fun as possible and show a bit along the way,” said Tincher.

Ultimately, she would love to do a Training three-day event and indulge her inner dressage queen with perhaps second level dressage in the off-season. “Blue is so talented and willing, he makes every day I get to ride instantly brighter, I am so lucky to have found him,” she said. “In a sport where you can mess up a million ways as the rider, much less aligning as a team with your horse, it feels amazing to get it all together for all three phases and come out on top. At our last event, the Buck's County Horse Trials in September, I got lost in the woods and we had time faults to fall back to second place from first. I've memorized the wrong dressage test before, been at the wrong end of the show grounds as my test was scheduled to begin...it's a good thing I'm just doing this for fun.”  

Tincher boards at Rebecca Diesinger's Flying Horse Farm, where she takes lessons. “A cross country lesson with Sally Cousins helped us gain the confidence to move up to jump our first trakehner and move up to Novice this weekend. A stadium lesson with Jane Cory helped polish our skills in historically our most challenging phase,” she said. During that lesson, they jumped their first liverpool and true skinny jumps. “Blue was a bit confused by the skinny and had his first stop ever, but then he figured it out. He's not a complicated ride and loves jumping enough that he makes me look good,” said Tincher.

Most of their training was with Rachel Miles in Simpsonville, Ky. for the last year prior to moving. “I take a lot of pride in bringing him from a cute baby off the track to success at a young age as an amateur with a busy professional career. OTTBs can do anything,” she said.

High school freshman Julianna Brescia, Landenberg. Pa. won the Beginner Novice Rider division with her 9 year-old thoroughbred, Talbot. “I thought the course was very nicely laid out and the jumps were nice jumps for beginner novice level. It was very open and gave lots of stretches for you to open up your stride,” she said. “I liked how the course included two water complexes.  I thought the event was very efficiently run and organized. I really liked the stadium course and the jumps were nice too.”

Brescia, who trains with Erin Sylvester, Cochranville, Pa.,  has had Talbot for almost a year, and they have been competing in beginner novice and also done a couple of novice courses as well. Her goal is to do one more beginner novice and then move up to novice permanently. “My horse and I make a great team, and I hope in the future we will move up to training level. Riding is a passion for me and I have lots of love for the sport, so I plan to keep working hard at it,” she said.

Karyn Lasky, of New Egypt, N.J., is a director of project management for a global clinical research organization specializing in early phase oncology clinical trials. She trains with Elizabeth Bierman, of Chesterfield, N.J. Her horse, Logan, a 15-year-old, 16.2 bay gelding, is of unknown breeding, “so we like to call him an American Warmblood,” said Lasky. The pair won the Novice Rider A division. She says she always enjoys competing at the HPNJ. “It's such a wonderful resource and so close to my home.  I thought the course rode really well. What I liked most about this track was that it took you through the entire park. You felt like you were actually going somewhere.”

She and Logan have been together since 2010. “I purchased him from Monika Dujardin after I had an unfortunate accident with a former horse who really rocked my confidence. I credit Logan 100 percent with restoring back that confidence which was reflected in yesterday's win. Our goal is to compete at AEC and move up to training next year,” she said. Lasky wants to take the opportunity to say "thank you" to the organizers and volunteers who sacrificed their time over the weekend so that the riders were able to compete.

The numbers were down a bit from the previous year, according to event secretary Diane Engler. “It’s a couple of weeks past the American Eventing Championships (AEC). That gets us every year,” she said. The AEC was held in Tryon, N.C., from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3. Still, riders flocked from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and other parts of the East Coast to the Horse Park of New Jersey.