While most eventing eyes were on the FEI Eventing Nations Cup at Great Meadow International, competitors in Flagstaff, Arizona claimed victories of their own at the Coconino Summer Horse Trials I on July 6-8, home to Area X’s Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. Jennifer Miller and Madison Santley performed like professionals on cross-country as they earned the Adult Amateur and Junior Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards for their safe and effective riding.
“I love him with all my heart,” Santley emphasized over her winning partner, Excellence, or Lenny for short. “The first moment I sat on him I knew he was the horse for me!” Acquiring the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Excellence (Vaillant x Wolinda) in January 2018, their partnership has already proved strong and competitive. “At all six competitions Lenny has been amazing, giving me his all and earning ribbons.” Out of their six competitions together, the pair has never finished outside of the top five.
Hailing from San Juan Capistrano, California, Santley is thankful for the eight-hour journey to Arizona. Santley described competing at Coconino as a “tremendous adventure.”
Santley has developed her rewarding cross-country technique through a few factors including, “an incredible trainer, Ginnie Bryant, amazing horses, lots of practice, patience, and dedication.”
“Receiving the Charles Own Technical Merit Award was a wonderful surprise. It focused on the importance of details and many contributing pieces of a safe, successful cross-country ride. I feel very blessed and very honored to have received this award. Thank you, Charles Owen for the award and thank you for keeping us safe with your products.”
Miller and Bon Bon on their way to win the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award at Coconino. Lorraine Bouland Photo.
Jennifer Miller is a veterinarian at Desert Equine Services, a member of the USEA Board of Governors, the co-chair of the Equine Welfare and Safety Committee, and the adult amateur winner of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award at Coconino Summer I Horse Trials. After competing at the Preliminary level at the 1972 Quebec Championship Three-Day Event, Miller was hooked on eventing. “ I have evented ever since.”
Miller’s background consists of riding naughty ponies, foxhunting, equitation, Pony Club, and more. “I was fortunate enough to have a very naughty pony who taught me stickability and humility. I fox hunted with the Lake of Two Mountains Hunt, got my Pony Club A, competed equitation, hunters, and jumpers. I was a working student for Juliet Graham (Bishop) then started focusing on eventing.”
Miller found her winning horse, Bon Bon, as a 3-year-old. Over nine years together, Bon Bon, a KWPN mare, is now 12 years old. “Bon Bon was on it, aggressive but controllable, and gave that special feeling of hunting the fences down. [After] finishing, the first thing I said was, ‘Now that was fun!’” Miller reflected on her cross-country round with extra emphasis added on the ‘fun.’
Fun, safe, and effective, Miller added that, “It is nice to be acknowledged for a safe ride that felt great!”
About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award
In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council in partnership with Charles Owen founded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to reward juniors and adult amateurs for demonstrating safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding.
The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented at one event in each USEA Area each year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross-country round on the five criteria listed below and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. Level III and IV ICP instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders are all qualified to judge the Award. Click here to learn more about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award.
The USEA would like to thank Charles Owen for sponsoring the Technical Merit Award.