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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation January 23, 2019

2/15/2011 12:10:00 PM
Sisters rider jumps into equestrian elite
Karen O’Neal on True Avenue. The pair makes a winning team. photo by Blake Hessel
+ click to enlarge
Karen O’Neal on True Avenue. The pair makes a winning team. photo by Blake Hessel

By Kathryn Godsiff

Karen O'Neal, of O'Neal Farms in Sisters, is on track to accomplish big things in the equestrian sport of three-day eventing. Described as the triathlon of horse sport, eventing encompasses dressage, cross-country jumping and stadium or show jumping over the course of three days. It's a discipline that tests the mettle of horse and rider and is taxing both physically and financially.

O'Neal and several of the horses she campaigns came away from the recent United States Eventing Association (USEA) Area 7 end-of-year banquet with a slew of awards. She is the Area 7 Rider of the Year and her personal horse, True Avenue, is the Horse of the Year. They also are the Area 7 Intermediate Horse and Rider of the Year, with points accrued as a team.

She paired up with another horse, TGIF, owned by Yvette Chandler of Sisters, to win the Preliminary Horse and Rider of the Year. (Corrected information): Olivia Chandler will be competing on the horse TGIF this season at Training Level with plans to move up to Prelimary. Ellie Chandler will be competing the horse Lucas at Beginner Novice.

O'Neal took two other horses, Rafflazia Z and Amelia, to Area 7 third and fourth place respectively in Preliminary Horse and Rider of the Year.

All this puts O'Neal on target to enter events that will qualify her and True Avenue in 2012 for America's premier three-day event, the Rolex, held in Lexington, Kentucky. The goal after that is the World Equestrian Games, to be held in France in 2014.

O'Neal and several of her students travel to three-day events all across the Northwest and California in pursuit of their goals.

Two of her Sisters students, Katie Yozamp and Sam Novotny, finished the year on high notes. Yozamp, 17, is a Sisters High School senior who plays basketball for the high school during the eventing's hiatus in the winter. She garnered fourth place in Open Preliminary at the Galway Downs International three-day event at Temecula, California, in November.

Novotny, 16, moved up a level this year from Training to Preliminary. Both young women have a goal to compete in the USEA Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky this summer.

Devin Robillard, 12, and his pony Applejack, competed at their first USEA recognized event at Inavale Farms last June. They are in Beginner Novice division and intend to enter more recognized events in the upcoming season.

The O'Neals make horse shows a family affair, with husband Tim and sons Chance, 15, and Canyon, 13, manning cameras and a photography booth. Daughter Patience, 11, competes at Training Level, the highest level she can go until she's 14. She'll spend this season aboard a horse belonging to one of her mother's clients.

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