Warburton sisters place third in 3-day event

PARK CITY, Utah — The end of another year in the Park City School District means the beginning of another season of three-day eventing for 15-year-old Elle Warburton with her 14-year-old horse Gemma, and 11-year-old Grace Warburton and her horse Peterbilt.

Grace on Peterbilt with their third place ribbon. Photo: courtesy of Jill Warburton // Facebook

Three-day eventing combines dressage, cross country, and show jumping all done one one horse, by one rider. It’s the only Olympic sport in which men and women riders compete against each other.

Elle told TownLift, “It is super cool that it is a co-ed sport, even at my level now, I compete with boys and girls all scored and seen as the exact same, which is really different and definitely makes the competition a lot larger.”

Elle, Gemma, and their ribbons. Photo: Becca Tolman // Impulsion Images

The two Park City sisters each placed third respectively last weekend at the first United States Eventing Association (USEA) competition of the season. It was held at a familiar stomping ground an hour south of Provo at the Skyline Equestrian Center.

No strangers to the pony podium, Elle had not only won first place at a competition the weekend before, but was also the winner of the High Point in the Jockey Club.

Elle on Gemma splashing through a water feature on the cross country course. Photo: Becca Tolman // Impulsion Images

Elle is enrolled in the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program. Her current competition horse’s registered name is Flashing Cyber, which is the mare’s old racehorse name, as she came off the track. The dark bay’s barn name is Gemma, and the Warburtons bought her about two hours away.

“She wasn’t an eventing horse until I started competing with her, before me, she did racing and strictly jumpers,” said Elle.

Elle now only competes on Gemma, however, “I used to compete on Peterbilt, which is now competed on by my sister.” Lest families think that more traditional youth sports like soccer or skiing are the only ones in which hand-me-downs are the norm.

The horses are housed at Tally Ho Farms, and the girls compete on the 3 Peas In A Pony Eventing Team coached by Kim Castro and Sara Windley.

Elle showjumping on Gemma. Photo: Becca Tolman // Impulsion Images

Elle started riding at age five and started competitively eventing in 2018 at 10 years old.

“I’ve had the honor of twice competing in Woodside, California next to Stanford University at the Woodside Horse Trials. It was easily the most difficult competition because the D1 Stanford Equestrian team would sometimes attend,” Elle said.

Elle doing dressage on Gemma. Photo: Becca Tolman // Impulsion Images

When asked what the best result Elle’s had in her proven and promising equestrian career, she rightfully gives pause, then splits the difference. She said it was either her first-place finish at Golden Spike Horse Trials with a double clear show jumping and cross country as well as one of her lowest dressage scores, or her Junior Rider Of The Year award that she received for her 2020, 2021, 2022, season from the Wasatch Range Eventing Association, as well as 2021 local and national champion at her level.

Gemma and Elle. Photo: Becca Tolman // Impulsion Images

“Eventing is a super scary sport,” Elle said. “Most life-threatening accidents happen on the second day during cross country, I’ve never been in a terrible accident besides a few bumped heads, but definitely have been around super scary accidents and 911 dials for my teammates/ competitors.”

Elle told TownLift, “Eventing and being a part of the Eventing community has been something in my life that I have been so grateful to be a part of it and making the dangerous risk of this sport is something that I would never take back. I enjoy eventing all year round even though I only compete April-October, competition season is always exciting because you see your friends and community come back after a long hardworking winter season and watch everyone grow and get better. I enjoy having a sport like this because not only is it a sport where you need to succeed and complete 3 different individual disciplines but the most important thing is the amount of trust and confidence you need to have with an animal that has the ability to be so strong and fast but trust them enough to be your most important teammate in the sport.”

The Warburtons next competition is June 8-11 in Ogden at the 2023 Golden Spike Horse Trials.

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