By TPH Intern Caroline Nicklaus
For Elli Yeager, her affinity for horses began at a young age when she was at a fair and took a pony ride. From that moment on, she was hooked on riding and started taking lessons. Yeager began showing at eight years old.
Hailing from Westlake Village, Calif., the 13-year-old rider has continued her passion and currently competes in the equitation and hunter divisions with her three horses – Copperfield 39, Iceman, and Alant.
Most recently, she placed fifth overall in the USHJA International Hunter Derby two weeks ago at Blenheim aboard Copperfield 39 and won The Plaid Horse High Score Junior Derby Award. Elli Yeager trains with Tasha Visokay at Ingenium Farm. Although Copperfield 39 is primarily her equitation mount who excels in the USET and WIHS, Elli and her trainer decided to enter the derby.
Elli said, “I’ve mostly qualified for all of the equitation finals, so we didn’t really have anything to show him in and he can do the derbies. I went into it wanting to have fun. My trainer was like, ‘If you want to take the high options, you can. It’s all for you to have fun and not be so stressed about points and stuff.’ We walked the course and we decided to do a few of the high options. The course itself was very fun.”
Copperfield 39, who Yeager has had for two years, handled the handy round exceptionally well thanks to his experience in the equitation ring.
“We got a few extra points from our handiness. There were a few slices and we took those,” Elli added.
When she found out she had placed fifth in the international derby, she stated, “I was just really happy that I even placed and that I was best junior rider. I wasn’t expecting that at all going in so I was super happy.”
In terms of winning The Plaid Horse High Score Junior Derby Award, she said, “I was really honored to win that! It was a bunch of fun. And the blanket you guys gave out is really warm! My horses love it in the morning.”
Trainer Tasha Visokay was just as thrilled with Yeager and Copperfield 39’s performance at Blenheim EquiSports.
“She was so happy with how good he was over all the high options and how he handled the course. She was also pleased to see how fun it was for both me and him.”
All of Elli’s horses seem to have unique and quirky personalities. For Copperfield 39, Elli said, “If you’re on the ground petting him, he’ll head butt you. But in the ring he only goes one way with his head kind of low.”
Her other equitation horse, who she has had for one year, Alant, competes in the Maclay, Medal, WIHS and the CPHA, seems to have a restless personality.
“I named him ‘Fidget’ because if you are brushing him or putting on his tack he’ll just fidget the whole time. He doesn’t really stand still.”
Being away at horse shows is when Alant is truly in all his glory.
“He’s really a show horse. He hates being at home and loves going to shows. He’s probably my favorite to do flat classes on, too.”
Iceman has been with Elli for nearly two years and is a Junior Hunter, but he can do “a little bit of everything,” Yeager said.
“At home he likes to run in the turnouts, so we named him after the guy in Top Gun. He is both my dad’s and my favorite character from that movie. He has his own opinion about everything.”
Most recently, the pair was champion in the Low Junior Hunters a few weeks at HITS Thermal.
Perhaps even more impressive than her accomplishments is Yeager’s pleasant and mature attitude.
When asked if she gets nervous before a big class, the thirteen-year-old replied, “No, not really. Because I know that in the end, its just to have fun and to do what you love.”
Keep your eyes out for Ellie Yeager — she is certainly one you don’t want to miss!