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Kuzenko's First Intermediate Win at Checkmate Horse Trials
Feversham, ON, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Jenna Kuzenko and Renegade
Sometimes accidents are happy ones, and that is the case with Jenna Kuzenko's horse Renegade. The result of an accidental breeding between a Standardbred and a Quarter Horse, when a yearling stallion jumped in with a mare, Renegade, now eight years old, has proven to be just perfect for his rider. On Saturday, May 26, the pair claimed their first victory at the intermediate level at the Checkmate Horse Trials in Feversham, Ontario, having moved up from prelim just last fall at Richland Park. They finished the Regular Intermediate at Checkmate on their dressage score of 60.85. Loren Hopkins and Marmara placed second (62.5) and Robyn Miller was third on T'Jean (67.8).

Kuzenko, 19 of Oshawa, ON said, "He was awesome - we have been having a few show jumping problems that we resolved today, mostly to do with me, and on cross-country he was very confident. The course had nice questions and was not a breezer like some can be; the footing was good too."

Kuzenko plans to compete next in the two-star at Bromont and hopes to qualify for the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships in Lexington, VA this summer.

"I would not be here without my parents, Bill and Nancy Kuzenko and my coach Diana Burnett," she said gratefully. "My parents own a butcher shop in Oshawa and have to work on Saturdays, so they couldn't be here, but they are very supportive of my riding."

In the Open Intermediate, professional trainer Michele Mueller of Port Perry, ON and Amistad ruled the day, also finishing on their impressive dressage score of 48.13. Diana Burnett placed both second and third on Segacious King, (65.25) and Donogue Del Boy, (86.2), respectively.

Mueller has been riding Amistad, a 3/4 Thoroughbred / 1/4 Belgian owned by Julie Pring, for the past three years. She has moved him up from training to intermediate level, one level per year. This was his second competition at intermediate and Mueller said, "It was a little bigger and more technical than last time out; I always love Checkmate. There is terrain here, but he was spot-on; he was so good. Especially on the Irish bank, he handled it nicely and came back to me."

Mueller, who is sponsored by Into Tents rentals, said that she plans to take Amistad to a two-star sometime this year and hopefully move him up to the advanced level, possibly at Wit's End.

Nicole Robertson and Unexpected Time (50.43) won the regular preliminary just ahead of Kelly Poland and Digby (51.43), with Kaitlyn Habermehl in third (63.57) on Roux. Robertson said that the 11-year-old un-raced Thoroughbred gelding tries hard and had a super weekend. She was especially proud of him because he made a comeback of sorts, having been in a serious trailer accident just two months ago when her horse trailer flipped over on black ice. "He only had a cut above his eye, but they had to use the 'jaws of life' to get both of the horse out," said Robertson, adding proudly, "They didn't even have to tranquilize him and he hasn't had any issues with trailers. In fact, some friends came with a trailer to pick him up that day and he walked right on."

This is Unexpected Time's second season at preliminary level and Robertson is hoping to move him up to intermediate mid-season. "This weekend he was good on the flat and did cross-country well," she said. "It's a big galloping course and he galloped well and just ate up the ground. He was a little tired at the end and had one rail down in stadium, but after that rail he picked up and jumped the rest clear."

In the open preliminary Edie Tarves and Arwen (55.46) finished nearly nine points ahead of Penny Rowland, this time the bridesmaid on Charlie (64.06). Selena O'Hanlon and Peanuts placed third (75.31). Tarves, of Mt. Albert, ON has represented Canada in numerous international competitions, including the 1984 Olympic Games and two World Championships. Arwen, 9, is a Thoroughbred/Swedish Warmblood cross by Holberg. The mare came to Tarves as a three-year-old for her to sell, but Tarves said that Arwen was so nice that she knew she could not let her leave the barn, especially after she watched her free jump. Client/sponsor Robin Campbell purchased the mare and Tarves has been riding her ever since.

This is Arwen's second year at preliminary and Tarves said that she is brave and aggressive. "Control is the main issue," she said. "Her dressage and jumping are very good but last year I had to incur time faults at a few events to work on her pace. She was still fourth overall in Ontario in 2006. This year she is more rideable and I don't have to take back so much at the fences. This was her first time out this year and I was impressed with her maturity. I want her very solid and then we will move up."

Tarves said that she likes to take her time with horses so that they will last a long time. "I ride a lot of young horses and I don't like to push them," she said. "I want a strong base on them, whether I am going to keep them or sell them. I think Arwen is very talented and can make it to the top."

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