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BEDE’s Novice League Returns for 2024 British Eventing Season 28 Feb 2024, 3:33 pm

Photo by Tim Wilkinson for EquiConsulting.

BEDE Events and Arena Saddle’s Novice League is making a return for the 2024 season, and will this year feature an increased number of qualification events.

BEDE have teamed up with a range of other eventing venues to offer a wider reach of accumulating fixtures for the Arena Saddles Novice League. Once again, the League will culminate in a grand finale at the Osberton International Horse & Driving Trials CCI2*-L.

The Arena Saddles Novice League is open to registered members of British Eventing who have not competed at Advanced or CCI3* level in the previous five years.

Pre-registration is required to join the league, and points cannot be retroactively collected for events completed prior to registration. The participating events are as follows:

  • Oasby (1) – 7th – 10th March
  • Eventing Spring Carnival, Thoresby – 28th– 31st March
  • Breckenbrough – 6th – 7th April
  • South of England – 6th – 7th April
  • Aspen Cooling Solihull (1) – 20th – 21stApril
  • Calmsden – 23rd – 24th April
  • Osberton International (1) – 3rd – 5th May
  • Tweseldown – 10th – 12th May
  • Frenchfield – 18th – 19th May
  • BCA – 8th – 9th June
  • Catton Park – 15th – 16th June
  • Farley Hall – 21st – 23rd June
  • Brightling Park – 29th – 30th June
  • Forgandenny – 13th – 14th July
  • Blindley Heath – 10th – 11th August
  • Agria Equine Lifetime Shelford (2) – 2th – 26th August
  • Sapey – 31st Aug – 1st Sept
  • Osberton International (2) – 3rd – 6thOctober – CCI2*-L FINAL

Points will be collected through the Novice events: one point will be awarded for starting, one point will be awarded upon completion; two points for jumping clear in the showjumping phase; and two points for jumping clear (without time penalties) in the cross-country phase.

Those who meet the MER three times (Minimum Eligibility Requirements) may enter the CCI2*L at Osberton, where there are triple points on offer; 6 points clear SJ, 6 points for clear XC (sans time penalties), 3 points for completion and 3 points for staring. In addition, points will be awarded for placings: 15 points to the winner, 14 points to the runner up, and so on, with 15th place receiving one point.

The league prize-giving will be held alongside the CCI2*-L prize-giving in the main arena, with all prize winners required to be in attendance.

Arena Saddles have offered a new saddle of the rider’s choice as part of the enhanced prize package.

Arena Saddles says, “Supporting our eventing community is our passion at Arena Saddles. That’s why we are delighted to partner with BEDE Events for the Arena Saddles Novice League again in 2024. The BEDE Events series is unique in offering a range of events for riders of all levels, from grassroots to international, making it such an important and valued series for the eventing community. We look forward to seeing you at our stand, where you can try out our latest products and be in with a chance to win a brand-new Arena saddle!”

Stuart Buntine, BEDE Events Director, says, “We’re once again pleased to be working closely with Arena Saddles to support the Novice competitors and build a pathway to Osberton at the end of the season.

Last year we found several Novice competitors used the League as a new target for the season and we’re pleased to be able to offer this once again, with increased events to great the road to Osberton.”

Full details for the league and registration forms can be found via https://bede-events.co.uk/leagues

A Week in the Life: Jennifer Clapp’s C Square Scholarship Adventure in Aiken 28 Feb 2024, 9:30 am

At the tail end of 2023, we shared the exciting news that Courtney Cooper of C Square Farm and Excel Sport Horses was launching a scholarship opportunity for two amateur riders to immerse themselves in the whirlwind of life on a professional yard for a week that would be jam-packed with education and opportunities. Now, we’re delighted to share the diary of the first of those scholarship winners, Jennifer Clapp, who ventured down to Aiken with her Connemara, Muggsy, to put her out-of-office time to great use. Take, it away, Jennifer! 

Jennifer and Muggsy dive into Aiken life – and the water complex at Vista.

Wow! What a week! It was a total immersion into the Aiken horse life. As a public high school teacher, my time off is very prescribed. Luckily, I was able to take my February vacation week to head down to C Square Farm South to do nothing but spend time with horses.

Before I get to the day by day play by play, I just wanted to say that Courtney, her working student Nathan, her college intern Beth, barn manager Emily, and fellow amateurs Kathleen, Kelly, and Seth all went out of their way to make sure I had a fun and rewarding week. 

Day 1:

After a very long day shipping down (17 hours plus a snow storm), we settled in well — Muggsy was super happy to run around on the nice sandy ground and have a really good roll. We spent the morning at Stable View, where Courtney and some of her students were competing. In the afternoon, I watched a couple of training sets and had a dressage lesson, where we got Muggsy to really loosen up his back and soften his poll, especially when he got a little looky. He finished very relaxed and soft in his body, which was great after the long ride.

Day 2:

A beautiful Aiken day on the farm! It was a busy one. I watched Courtney ride a young horse for the second day in a row and it was impressive to see how much he relaxed and got much more confident in his work. Courtney had two Zoom lessons with Peter Gray on her two upper level horses, which were fascinating to watch. I was so caught up in the second lesson I almost didn’t have time to get ready for my own jump set!

Our jump set focused on balance and rhythm; we started with trotting poles, first on a straight line, then bending through the corner, helping the horses to develop and maintain a consistent rhythm. Once they were confident there, we incorporated two sets of raised cavaletti as well as the original poles. The initial responses to the raised cavaletti varied; some over-achievers tried to bounce them or walked; luckily, Muggsy is a pro at figuring out the easiest way to get something done and he trotted neatly through them. The next step was trotting a course of small fences, including one with placement poles; the exercise encouraged the horses to maintain their own rhythm and be responsible for their own balance. By the time we moved to cantering a course, all of the horses were well prepared to jump, land, and turn in balance.

A chilly morning at Bruce’s Field.

Day 3:

We started off bright and early with a trip over to Bruce’s Field for their Tuesday jumper show. Muggsy and I had fresh tracks in the ring, with him blowing little puffs of smoke since it was still so chilly. I definitely was a little unprepared for Aiken’s cold mornings! We did two trips and had significant improvement between the two. Muggsy is on the smaller end, so we’ve been working to get the adjustability we need to be able to make it down the lines well and Courtney helped me find the right canter and approach (gotta come forward through the corners!) to make it happen.

Our afternoon was spent at cross country schooling; Courtney had four horses from training to advanced to school with Erin Sylvester and then taught two upper level students, Kathleen and Kelly. Watching them school some tough questions was both educational and inspiring.

Day 4:

Another bright and early morning in the ring. Kathleen and I reset the jump course, practicing our accuracy in setting a couple of gymnastics and some single fences. Then we two and Courtney took three of the horses who had schooled cross country the day before for a hack on one of Aiken’s classic red roads, successfully navigating goats, chickens, and backyard decorations. Then it was off to the Vista! Muggsy started out being company for one of Courtney’s home breds who was going out for his first xc school. Despite being normally very chill, he totally failed at this job, spooking a shadow on the ground and what I can only assume was a bear (or maybe a dragon?) in the other field. Fortunately, Ghost, our buddy, was calm beyond his years!  He took everything in stride and it was really fun to watch him confidently trot all the elementary fences, the ditch, the bank, and the water with ever increasing joy. His face said, “look what I can do!” 

It took Muggsy a minute to get back into cross-country mode(I could almost hear him saying, “But it’s February!”), but he soon settled in and we had a great ride, with highlights being his bold jump over a coop with brush into the water and a super straight and forward approach to a corner.

Once we got home, I flatted Kathleen’s lovely young horse Curley and then set jumps as Courtney jumped three; the gymnastics we set that morning systematically prepared the horses as we built them up. Courtney was dragging the ring in the dark as we finished up!

Cross-country schooling with Muggsy at Vista.

Day 5: 

We started the morning off watching Courtney jump Kathleen’s lovely preliminary horse Excel Star Harry, whom she bought from Courtney as a four year old and has brought through her first two-star. Then I got to jump Curley, a six-year-old former steeplechaser who has just a fantastic rhythm and jump. He used a whole different set of muscles than my muffin of a Connemara!  Then it was back to the Vista, for cross-country schooling for Courtney’s student Seth and jumping in the derby field for her student Kelly and some of the horses who were heading to Pine Top that weekend. I finished the day in the most Aiken way possible: a long slow road hack for Muggsy and drinks at the Wilcox!  Kathleen and I headed in to meet some of my Area 1 friends (the best!); Seth and Kelly joined us later. It was one of those great moments in the eventing community, where a group of folks from all over (Areas 1, 2, and 8 represented!) with all kinds of different backgrounds can come together and have a great time based on the common denominator of eventing and our love of horses.

Day 6:

Pine Top!  It was exciting to visit this beautiful venue. We had the pleasure of watching Courtney ride her homebred River in his first Advanced dressage and show jumping, followed by her mare Maeve in the Intermediate. After spending some time watching all the big guns in the show jumping, we set out to walk the cross-country. It’s been a while since I’ve been up close to an Advanced course — Area 1 only has one left — and this one was BIG and, in some places, SKINNY! Looking at the tables, I could only think that Muggsy’s primary response, if I pointed him at one, would be to bank them. There was certainly plenty of room to do so!  The course was across a beautiful piece of land and the footing was perfect. After our course walk, we headed back to the farm to flat and go for a golden hour hack through the woods. It truly was a picture perfect ending to a wonderful week.

As I rolled out of bed at 2:15 the next morning to make the drive home (18+ hours this time!  I’d almost take snow over NYC traffic…), it felt like I had been in another world for a month, not a week. Every day was jam-packed with horses and educational opportunities; I never walked less than 30,000 steps in a day (admittedly, some of that was on horseback). It was the kind of immersion in the sport that I can almost never take the time to do. I came away with many tools for everything, from starting a nervous young horse to schooling one getting ready for its first Advanced (in the unlikely event that I’ll ever need that!), a bunch of new friends, and a renewed respect for the hard work and dedication it takes to be a professional in our sport. I’ve given you the highlights, but behind that was all the care that our animals need, the preparation and tacking up, the clipping, the packing and unpacking, and the sisyphean tack cleaning! I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and hope my journey inspires other professionals to offer similar scholarships and other amateurs to load up their horses and take a risk in the service of their learning.

Wednesday News & Notes from Ocala Horse Properties 27 Feb 2024, 11:01 pm

Happening this week – the 2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (GPE) Organizing Committee and the Aiken Horse Park Foundation.

Making the podium at all five editions of the event – and scoring a hattrick of wins – Liz Halliday has three chances to defend her title, with Cooley Quicksilver (winner of the 4*S at Kentucky last season), Cooley Nutcracker (winner of two 4*L events in 2023) and last year’s champ (and Kentucky 5* third place finisher) Miks Master C all set to take their turn in the start box. It’s tough to bet against her, but with a super-stellar lineup, the competition is hot hot hot!

We’ll see all the US big hitters – the likes of Phillip Dutton, Will Coleman, Buck Davidson, Will Faudree and Lillian Heard Wood, who all bring two rides, with Boyd Martin and Doug Payne each having three shots at the title. And the list goes on… Maryland 5* winner Austin O’Connor is over from Ireland, and there are not one but two 2023 Pan-Am Games gold medalists in the form of Caroline Pamukcu (individual gold) and Canada’s Coleen Loach (team gold). There are just too many top contenders to mention here – one thing’s for sure, we’re in for a stacked competition and we can’t wait!

The action kicks off with dressage at 8am EST on Friday, followed by show jumping at 3pm. The cross country gets underway on Saturday at 12:30pm. You can watch it all play out live on H&C+ (subscription required) and we’ll of course be bringing you everything you need to know – keep it locked onto EN and follow @goeventing as we dive into the 2024 season.

2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage]

Also of note: Today is National Public Sleeping Day, which, to my understanding, means that it’s entirely legal – and indeed encouraged – for you to take a nap, wherever and whenever the Zs take you. Think staff meetings, while waiting in line, during particularly boring conversations you’d rather not be having – please not in the saddle. Apparently Oliver Townend snatches forty winks between cross country rounds at 5* events, which makes it totally plausible for me to round this off by saying go eventing, and nap.

U.S. Weekend Preview

2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] Schedule – [03/01 8am-2pm EST Dressage] [03/01 3pm-5pm EST Show Jumping] [03/02 12:30pm-3pm EST Cross Country]

Full Gallop Farm March Wednesday H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. (Altoona, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Sporting Days Farm March H.T. II (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Twin Rivers Winter H.T. (Paso Robles, CA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

International Events

Portuguese Spring Tour (Mata do Duque) [Timetable] [Entries] [Scoring] [Portuguese Eventing Association Facebook Page] [More Info]

Wednesday News and Reading

We’re kicking off today’s News and Reading with a couple of cool opportunities – first up the chance to have your event horse’s conformation critiqued by former USEA YEH Championship judge Chris Ryan. All you need to do is send a conformation photo and short video of your horse – straight on and from the side – being led at walk and trot to mdelisle@useventing.com and it’ll be considered as part of the USEA’s Conformation Critique series. You only have ‘til Wednesday March 6th, so cameras at the ready and have at it.

Next up, bookings are open for British Eventing’s webinar with Sally Mcginn from Mind Oddessey, where she’ll be talking all things reflection. From making balanced reflections and dealing with post competition blues to identifying strengths and working on the gaps, the session sounds like it’ll be super helpful for those of us who are striving towards competition aspirations as well as less competitive but thoughtful riders who use reflection to improve their performance when working towards goals at home. The webinar will take place on March 14th at 7pm GMT and costs £15.

And while we’re on the topic of things coming up – what better way to celebrate an extra day this year than to get quizzy with it? In aid of the British Eventing Support Trust but absolutely open to anyone around the world who enjoys getting quizzical, this leap year quiz night is sure to be a blast – and there’s a trophy at stake. If I win, can I claim it as an eventing win? My general knowledge may not be quite so general as it could be, but I’ve for sure got a better chance of winning a quiz than an event. If you’re up for the competition, you need to register to receive the Zoom link, which you can do right here. The questions will be comin’ at ya from 7pm GMT / 2pm EST tomorrow (February 29th). See you there.

With a bunch of medals to his name, including Olympic gold, US based British eventer and USEF Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law is a voice we listen to when it comes to training tips. 17-year-old Austin Skeens got to do just that in person when he had the opportunity to train with Leslie as part of the USEF E18 training program, and lucky for us, he’s shared what he learned. With tips for all three phases, from straightness in dressage and nailing your show jumping warm up to making good choices for your horse on the cross country, there’s lots here for us all to take away and work on.

Yes, we’re once more revisiting the phenomenon that is Shane Rose’s mankini – which is apparently not one of the silliest riding costumes ever seen. A research poll conducted by the ‘Chillax Institute’ has concluded that the scrap of neon orange was actually a rather fitting choice, given its aerodynamic properties and the weather in Australia at this time of year. And as far as the accolade of ‘silliest riding costume’ goes, Shane’s mankini didn’t even make the top-five on the list. It’s probably time we put ‘mankini-gate’ to bed, but there’s for sure one more laugh to be had in this satirical jaunt.

And finally… Saving the best / weirdest / most hilarious ‘til last, I present to you donkey basketball. Yes, really. It’s basically basketball on donkey-back, and the justification for such an intriguing addition to the sport is the added unpredictability these stubborn equines bring to the game. You will see plenty of planting. You probably won’t see a donkey doing a slam dunk. (If you’re in any doubt that this is a thing, here’s proof.)

Sponsor Corner

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Video Break

We’re so lucky to be involved in a sport where age and sex pose relatively limited barriers to not only enjoying the sport, but also competing at the highest levels within it. From show jumping legend John Whittaker, who’s still at the top of his game aged 68, to eventing’s own eight-time Olympian, Andrew Hoy, aged 65, and long-time hero Pippa Funnell, who’s smashing it for the horsegirls at 55, there are many shining examples of the longevity that equestrian sports provide athletes. At the other end of the scale are competitors such as Sky Brown, Britain’s youngest ever summer Olympian, who won a bronze medal in skateboarding in Tokyo. Here’s what went down when King of Dressage Carl Hester met the young talent:

Tik Maynard Goes Western: Getting Ready for Road to the Horse 27 Feb 2024, 8:30 am

Tik Maynard has many titles: CCI4* eventer, author, Noelle Floyd instructor. Now, he’s getting ready to add World Champion Colt Starter to the list. I caught up with Tik before his cross country round with Susan Southard’s Kayan at Rocking Horse. In between bites of a chocolate muffin brought to him by Susan, Tik chatted with me about his recent foray into the world of Western horsemanship and competitive colt starting.

Tik has spent the last year preparing to fulfill a dream of his, to compete in the elite colt starting competition, Road to the Horse. The challenge: in less than four hours, start an unhandled three-year-old Quarter Horse under saddle. Spread out over three days, the competitors will have to work against the clock and under immense pressure as an audience of thousands stare on from the stands and even more watch from the livestream.

According to the website, “Judging focuses on the competitor and the effectiveness of their horsemanship methodology to communicate, educate, and build a partnership with their colt based on trust.”

Tik Maynard. Photo credit to Madren Photography

My biggest question for Tik was, how is this possible? Typically colt starting takes months, not hours. “You can’t go as fast as you can and then do a good job. It’s got to be first: do a good job and second: go as fast as you can. It’s really a test of how much the competitors are able to train that horse without letting the pressure they feel go on to the horse. That horse can’t know it’s a competition.”

“In this competition, you’re teaching a kid on their first three days of school, like in kindergarten. You’re trying to make it fun for them first, and within that fun, you’re trying to give them a chance to very, very gradually learn some things and very, very gradually set some boundaries for them. But the number one thing is that you’re just trying to make it fun first.”

Tik is only the second English-disciplined horseman to be included in the invitation-only competition, the first being New Zealand show jumper Vicki Wilson. That being said, Road to the Horse will really push Tik out of his comfort zone and into a completely different equestrian culture.

Tik Maynard and Classic. Photo by Jenni Autry.

“It’s really set up to celebrate the Western culture and the cowboy and the Quarter Horse. So it’s a big honor to be invited to be a part of that,” said Tik. “Starting the horse on a timeline and getting to know Quarter Horses as opposed to Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods and starting the horse in a Western saddle and Western bridle, will be really challenging. I’m spending a lot of time here getting ready for it.”

Far from tackling the project on his own, Tik has enlisted the help of several cowboys in his preparations. “In the past five months I’ve learned more about horses than in the past five years. Jake Biernbaum, who’s down the road from me, has been my number one coach. Then I did a clinic with Glenn Stewart from British Columbia, that was amazing. And then I’m doing a Martin Black clinic– he’s quite well known in the Western ranching world. I also had Tom Pierson, a reiner, help me start one down here in Ocala,” Tik said. “I’m just trying to start Quarter Horses and get feedback from people who are really good as I go.”

Tik Maynard goes Western. Photo credit to Madren Photography

In the world of English disciplines, we’re all familiar with the different mindsets and generalizations about our common breeds of horses. If someone says to me, “Well she’s a chestnut Thoroughbred…” I instantly know what that means. But when it comes to how Quarter Horses think, I draw a blank. According to Tik, there are big differences between Western-bred Quarter Horses and your typical English horse.

“It’s a horse that has been bred to do ranch work and to be started quickly like [in the Road to the Horse]. If you think about how Thoroughbreds have been bred for well over 100 years to race. They have that mindset, and those muscles, and that ability and desire to move,” said Tik. “Quarter Horses can handle more pressure in some ways. They can be more thoughtful in some ways. They can be bred to stand still in a different way than a warmblood or a Thoroughbred. Somehow it’s different with a Quarter Horse– they grow roots in a spot rather than just pause. And the way they carry you is a little bit different.”

“Jake once told me, ‘One of the biggest differences between English and Western is that English horses are bred to get out of the dirt. Whereas Quarter Horses are bred to get into the dirt.’”

Tik is going to be relying heavily on his background in horse psychology for Road to the Horse. “Most of the competitors that are doing the Road to the Horse have a pretty strong background in trying to understand horse psychology. I think a large part of the revolution in horsemanship occurred in the Western world and then transferred to the English world. Not all of it, but I think a large part of it, and I think the reason for that is because of the nuances,” Tik said. “If you watch really good cowboys and the stuff that they do with their horses and cattle, it’s very, very quiet the vast majority of the time. In order to be good at that, you’ve got to read both the cow’s mind and your horse’s mind to know what they’re thinking about.”

“I’ve actually applied that philosophy a lot to how I work with horses, especially on the ground. A lot of times people get caught up in what the feet are doing. But I really try to place the emphasis on where the horse is looking and what they are thinking about. Usually where they’re looking is what they’re thinking about and where they’re gonna go,” Tik said.

Despite the thousands of people watching him, despite the pressure to move as quickly as possible, despite the pressure to perform well, Tik is determined his Quarter Horse will feel like it’s any other day, albeit a strange one.

“The name of the game in this competition is building a relationship with the horse. A relationship is built on trust, but it also encompasses respect and confidence, and play. It encompasses confidence and relaxation,” said Tik. “If I have the feeling at the end that the horse didn’t know it was a competition, then I’ve hit my goal.”

 

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As for himself, his goal is to never stop learning, even after the competition. “This situation is such a big ask for me. It’s so far out of my comfort zone. By taking it seriously and getting ready, I’ve learned a ton. I think all I can ask of myself in terms of success is that I keep this pressure on myself, to keep learning. And that, even if I don’t win, I’m able to go in there and have the presence of mind to apply what I’ve learned.”

Good luck, Tik! The Road to the Horse might need to prepare itself for a sudden influx of eventers as we cheer on one of our own. Cowboys, prepare for insanity.

Watch as Tik takes on his biggest challenge yet on March 22nd through the 24th. If you want to attend in person, Road to the Horse will take place at the home of the Defender Kentucky Three Day Event, the Kentucky Horse Park. Tickets are available for purchase here.

As always, keep an eye on our website for more stories to come as our intrepid eventer ventures into the world of Western horse sports.

#goeventing

Tuesday News & Notes from Kentucky Performance Products 27 Feb 2024, 4:31 am

Today’s the day – the day that entries officially open for the Best Weekend All Year at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event! It’s time to start stalking those entry lists, making your predictions for who’ll come forward, speculating over who’ll perform so well that they’ll chuck themselves straight into contention for an Olympic call-up… the most beautiful time of the year, in my nerdy mind, because at this point, anything could happen. The plot twists, the moments of glory, the shock upsets; they’re all still to come. I, for one, cannot wait. Want to make sure you’re there to catch all the action? You can still benefit from advanced ticket pricing – head to the box office here to nab yours.

Events Opening Today: Defender Kentucky Three-Day EventSpring Bay H.T.Unionville Horse TrialsLongleaf Pine H.T.F.E.N.C.E. H.T.Twin Rivers Spring International

Events Closing Today: Ram Tap National H.T.Pine Top Spring H.T.Ocala Winter IICarolina International CCI & H.T.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

So often, equestrian media is dominated by names from ‘big six’ nations. But beyond those global superpowers, there are so many riders breaking down barriers and playing a colossal part in building an equestrian industry in countries for whom competing on the world stage is a brand new novelty. One of those? Lithuania’s Aistis Vitkauskus, who we’ve been following at EN for a few years now. Get to know him, his cool, quirky Commander VG, his philosophies, and his love for fly-fishing in this profile from the FEI.

This year’s MARS Badminton Horse Trials is a special one. Okay, let’s be real, it’s Badminton – they’re all special! But this year, the world’s first five-star celebrates a big birthday, and we’re looking forward to all the celebrations of the history and future of this magical competition. Want to start feeling those butterflies nice and early? You’re in luck: on April 9, there’ll be a preview evening in Gloucestershire, packed with some of the biggest names in eventing and guaranteed to be heaving with fascinating stories and interesting insights. Get your tickets here and I’ll see you at the bar.

Costs continue to rise for eventers, and so it’s always exciting when a chance to save money pops up. That’s what’s been offered by British eventing organisers BEDE Events, who have launched a ‘loyalty scheme’ for repeat competitors: compete in five BEDE events through the season, and at the sixth, you’ll have your start fee waived. More money for cheesy chips! Sign me up, tbh.

The season is officially underway, but there’s so, so much left to come. Catch up with US Eventing in the latest episode of the USEA Podcast, where host Nicole Brown is joined by EquiRatings’ Diarm Byrne, USEA CEO Rob Burk, and President Lou Leslie to find out how they reckon it might unfold – from team predictions to exciting moments yet to come, and plenty more besides. Tune in here and get excited!

Photo by Lorenzo Castagnone, via Unsplash.

Sponsor Corner: We have some unfortunate news for equestrians out there…. if you’re not already experiencing mud season, you will be soon. With mud season comes skin problems. Luckily, Kentucky Performance Products has the quick and dirty facts on equine skin conditions. Discover how to prevent them from happening in your horse and what to do once they appear here.

Watch This:

As if eventing at the top level and vying for a place on the French Olympic team wasn’t enough, young British-based upstart Gaspard Maksud — who you may remember from his sparkling sixth place finish at the 2022 World Championships — has spent his winter learning the ropes around seriously beefy showjumping tracks. Check out his first-ever trip around a 1.50m course:

Monday Video: Boyd Goes Beginner Novice 26 Feb 2024, 4:00 pm

Click here if the embedded video above does not appear in your browser.

Sometimes we spot a horse on an Advanced results list and think ‘Whoa, where did that horse come from?’ — making it seem like a top horse suddenly comes out of nowhere. In a passing glance at a results sheet, it can be tempting to view these horses like an overnight success story and forget that, like in most sports, it takes years and years of training and partnership building to make it to the top.

So when we see Gold Czar with Boyd Martin on an Advanced start list in a handful of years, let’s not forget that this is where it all started: out and about at Sporting Days Farm a couple weekends ago tackling his first recognized Beginner Novice.

Gold Czar (Medaglia d’Oro – Pleasant Review, by Pleasant Trap) a.k.a. “Remi” is 6-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred who last raced in February 2022. Remi caught Boyd’s eye while he was teaching the Cheshire Fox Hunt Adult Camp last year and he purchased the horse from the field master, who had taken him off the track about a year ago and given him a good restart with about a year of rest, hacking, and some basic flatwork.

Boyd has been chronicling his work with the youngster on Facebook and you can listen to him further introduce Remi here and watch as Boyd introduces him to his new career step-by-stephere. Will young Remi make it to the top of his new sport one day? We look forward to following along!

Breeding Spotlight: Leigh-ping Forward with OTTBs 26 Feb 2024, 1:30 pm

Jeff Goodwin and Exactleigh compete at Galway Downs’ Eventing Championships in 2023. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Taking a glance at any entry list these days, there are quite a few prefixes and suffixes that we have come to know. The ever popular Irish Cooley, Ardeo, and Fernhill, the Belgian Zangersheide Z, the up-and-coming FE, Excel, HSH and Global, and even the Argentinian Solaguayre is on the rise. One could be forgiven for missing a lone “Leigh” here and there.

But not anymore.

In the 2023 edition of the annual Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, MT) — one of the top destination events on the West Coast — there were more “Leigh” horses than any other breeder, trainer, or seller. There were 14 Cooley horses, 10 Fernhill, 7 Ardeo, 6 Z, 4 Excel, 3 FE, and 1 Global.

Squeaking past them all, “Leigh” horses had 15 representatives, from CCI3*-L all the way to Beginner Novice.

Humor abounds in the names of these salwart partners: Pridefulleigh, Mixologeigh, Bankseigh, My Leighona, Casualleigh, Agatha Christeigh, and my personal favorite: Drunk & Disorderleigh.

Where do they come from?

Jil Walton operates JARBA Farms out of Rebecca Farm in Kailspell, MT where she breeds and trains her own homebreds and off the track thoroughbreds. A representative of the 1992 US Olympic Eventing team, she helped USA to a top 10 finish and finished 17th individually as the highest placed American on a self made mare called Patrona.

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Patrona herself was an off-the-tracker who Jil, in partnership with her parents, sourced in Southern California where she grew up. Walton calls her “the beginning of it all.”

“My dad, my mom, and I would pick the ones that didn’t run and turn them into event horses and event them so I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Jil said. “Then I met one of my clients, Leigh Gray. [She] brought a horse to me to event for her [while] she worked at a vet hospital and had access to lots of Thoroughbreds. So [we] started developing a relationship with trainers, and good owners, that wanted them to go on to do something other than just sit in the field.”

Most of the horses carrying the “Leigh” in their name are former racers sourced by Jil herself, and her friend Gray. But it didn’t begin that way.

Among the horses Leigh sent to Jil to be retrained and homed was Truly Triton. A 1992 chestnut gelding out of Coastal Breeze and With Approval, it began as a rehabbing project when he came to Walton with a tendon injury. Over time however, the partnership competed to the highest levels, completing the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2004 and multiple top 10 finishes at the 4* level. As success came not only to Jil but with the horses Leigh was helping source, Jil felt a touch of inspiration.

“I decided I needed to give Leigh a little bit of credit,” she explains. “So then we started putting the Leigh on the end. I mean, it just kind of caught fire because there’s so many possibilities.”

The name options are pretty excellent (see above!). Indeed, Jil often gets messages with suggestions for Leigh names for future horses down the line.

She credits Leigh with an incredible eye for temperament and her own eye for confirmation, gleaned at her parents’ knees and her own 30+ years of experience. For soundness, she feels nothing can beat a good war horse — Thoroughbreds who have run for many years. Together, she and Leigh work in tandem to not only source successful sport horses but also to find the horse’s own passion.

“I tried to be responsible to the racehorses,” Jil says. “Some of them don’t want to jump. They don’t want to go eventing so we have one barrel racing, we have a couple that are ski-jouring.”

While Jil also breeds some of her own prospects (with the prefix JB for JARBA), her heart is firmly with the Thoroughbreds. The feeling of riding cross country on a horse with a high foundational level of fitness and forward training from their racing careers instills confidence and security. And she feels there is cause to be optimistic for the future of OTTBs in eventing.

“Before I felt like it was an uphill battle, 100%,” she says. “Thoroughbreds are getting so much more attention with the Thoroughbred Makeover and all of that. So I feel like people are more open to them now, which, for a long time, they haven’t been — so that’s rewarding to me.”

Leigh is winding down the non-profit that helped source these fine partners — the Thoroughbred Rehab Center — so there may not be a whole lot more “Leigh” horses coming through the pipeline. Jil herself is still trucking on with her part, having formed new connections and contacts in the racing industry to help retrain and rehome those horses who no longer can or want to race.

In an increasingly global sport where more and more often we see both professional and amateur members sourcing horses from outside our borders, we are seeing less and less of our own American Thoroughbred. While there is nothing wrong with finding quality wherever it may be, by casting a spotlight on our American professionals and trainers, our domestically bred horses can shine as well.

So next time you see that humor filled “Leigh” name, have a chuckle to yourself and maybe, just maybe, find your local OTTB trainer and see if you can find your next partner close to home.

Drop us a line if you know of another deserving barn, breeder, or trainer we can shine a light on!

The Weekend Update: Carolina Prep and More at Pine Top, Three Lakes, Full Gallop Farm 26 Feb 2024, 8:30 am

Another weekend of eventing is in the books, with plenty of horse and rider pairs out and about in the southern states. We’re inching closer to warmer weather for the spring season, as well as some upcoming competitions, like the Carolina International CCI4* in just a few weeks!

We caught up with some of the riders aiming for Carolina, and took a look back on this weekend and celebrate our Weekend Winners! Congrats to all on successful outings, with an extra shout out to the winner of our Unofficial Low Score Award, Priscilla Pignatelli and Dittos Gold En Fury, who scored 20.7 in the Starter Rider division at Three Lakes!

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website][Scoring]

Preliminary/Training: Alexandra Knowles and Fernhill Mac an Bata (29.8)
Training: Tracey Bienemann and Silver Bop (29.6)
Training/Novice: Margaret Schneck and Islandwood Border Patrol (31.7)
Novice: Cole William Horn and WillOMoor Pathfinder (24.7)
Beginner Novice A: Christine Hryzak and Sheeran (27.7)
Beginner Novice B: Fylicia Barr and Master Of Illusion (23.8)
Starter: Sophia Perry and Corona With Lime (29.7)
Pre-Starter: Katherine Thornton and Carlingford Finegan (28.0)

Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA) [Website][Scoring]

“I’m very pleased with how my horses went at Pine Top this weekend,” says Advanced B winner Ariel Grald, who reflected, “I’m based in Ocala for the winters, and although we have several great venues to choose from, I always make the trip to the Pine Top Advanced HT with my upper level horses… The cross country courses are fantastic and are a good evaluation of where the horses are at at the beginning of the season.”

We’ll see Ariel at Carolina in just a few weeks, with Anne Eldridge’s Leamore Master Plan (Master Imp xx – Ardragh Bash, by Cavalier Royale) in the 4*S, Annie Eldridge’s Diara in the 3*S (Diacontinus – Lady Revens, by Colon xx), and Annie Eldridge’s Adagio’s Nobility (Adagio De Talma – Noble Lady I, by Heraldik xx) in the 2*S.

Andrew McConnon won the Advanced A with Jeanne Shigo’s Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III – Karelza, by Wolfgang). “I’m thankful to have my horses starting off the season looking and feeling well! I had different goals for each horse and I’m pleased with all four of them. We’re really fortunate to have Pine Top Farm on our spring calendar, I’ve been going to Pine Top for nearly 20 years. I’ve had many firsts at Pine Top, including my first Advanced many years ago. It’s always been a special event to me!”

Coming out of the winter, these early spring events have been helpful in bringing Andrew’s horses back from their breaks and in utilizing their training. “I’ve been fortunate to learn from William Fox-Pitt in England the importance of a long winter break and several weeks of long hacking before starting back into work. Most recently with the help of the USEF I’ve had the opportunity to train with Leslie Law, well as my long time coaches at home who have helped me step up my game. While I’m not on the development list this year, the opportunities over the last several years from Nations Cup teams, European tour, and access to training in that program has made a huge impact to myself and my program.”

With a recent move out onto his own, Chris Talley sought out Pine Top as an important stop in his spring for his horses and program: “This year after stepping out on my own and starting my own business I came up from Ocala, Florida and came to the second Pine Top specifically because they have the Advanced division which I wanted to target with the Allison Pratt’s FE Marco Polo (Arko Junior Pms – Elfe II, by Exorbitant XX) and my own Loughtown Cici (Cc Captain Cruise – Castlelawn Diamond Clover, by White Clover) that recently stepped up to [the level].”

“The cross country at Pine Top is why I chose to come here every year. It’s big and bold and really requires positive riding. The courses offer fair questions for this point in the season and also offers a bit of terrain which in Florida you don’t get much of.”

“It’s been a very good start to the season and all the horses finished Pine Top full of confidence so I’m excited for some big spring plans… Since establishing my own business I’ve been really happy with how the horses are going. I have an amazing group of horses and wonderful owners who have been incredibly supportive. This year I really wanted to find the fun in it again. I wanted to enjoy my personal life as much as I enjoy the horses and I’ve found the perfect work/life balance which I think the horses and their performance and reaping the rewards of,” Chris commented.

Having just moved her business back to the states from her time in England, Kimmy Cecere enjoyed her first time at Pine Top. “What a fantastic event to start the season! Both the cross country and show jumping courses were strong and rewarding.”

 

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“Jacqueline Mars’ Landmark’s Monaco (Formula One – Glamour) had a fun and easy canter around the Intermediate. [Her own] OS Hermintage (Indoctro – Elvira), who has just stepped up to the level, gained confidence throughout all three phases. The rolling hills and variety of questions set both horses up to continue on to Carolina in a few weeks,” Kimmy reflected.

Kimmy’s horses seem to be making the transition to their new base in Southern Pines well. “The horses traveled super well and they love our new base in Southern Pines,” Kimmy commented. “I have developed some great new relationships, and I’m looking forward to expanding my business!”

Advanced – 2022 USEF Advanced Test A: Andrew McConnon and Ferrie’s Cello (36.5)
Advanced – 2022 USEF Advanced Test B: Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan (29.5)
Intermediate Rider: Sara Beth Anton and Legionnaire (37.2)
Open Intermediate A: Allison Springer and No May Moon (27.0)
Open Intermediate B: Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye (27.2)
Open Preliminary A: Ariel Grald and Adagio’s Nobility (26.1)
Open Preliminary B: Boyd Martin and Kolbeinn (27.2)
Preliminary Rider: Carlin Keefe and Point Nemo (26.6)
Modified – Open A: Fylicia Barr and Quantum Cooley (26.5)
Modified – Open B: Chris Talley and Fast Forward (25.8)
Modified – Rider A: Heidi Grimm Powell and Finntastic! (28.0)
Modified – Rider B: Molly McLaughlin and Top L’Amour WV (34.0)
Open Training A: Kim Severson and Cooley Consort (26.9)
Open Training B: Andrew McConnon and Connery Cooper Z (22.8)
Open Training C: Jane Jennings and SF Vancouver 2 (25.3)
Training Rider: Harrison Chang and JVK Fionn MacCumhaill (34.3)
Junior Novice Rider: Samantha Sibley and RHS Casallco Star (35.4)
Open Novice: Erin Kanara and Captain’s Lady (24.4)
Senior Novice Rider: Alexis Shrum and Anchorman (29.7)
Beginner Novice Rider: Nina Celeste Braun and Lagoon Macaroon (33.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Maddie Lichten and RF Luminati (28.8)

Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL) [Website][Scoring]

 

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Open Preliminary: Elisabeth Halliday and Newmarket Cooley (29.7)
Preliminary Rider: Victoria Sudkamp and Woodstock Rio (32.6)
Open Modified: Jordan Crabo and Cooley Pot of Gold (27.9)
Open Training: Stephanie Goodman and HSH Clever Z (25.5)
Training Rider: Hannah Fatehdin and Things To Ponder (26.9)
Novice Rider A: Kirsty McLeod and Celtic Sapphire (27.5)
Novice Rider B: Coco Fiorita and Oskar (22.5)
Open Novice A: Arielle Aharoni and Veni Vidi Vici (30.6)
Open Novice B: Lauren Nicholson and Sir Prize (22.9)
Beginner Novice Rider A: Sarah Alexander and Lambrusco W (21.6)
Beginner Novice Rider B: Jean McNamara and Pavoratti’s Soul (35.0)
Open Beginner Novice A: Lauren Nicholson and Tennyson (25.3)
Open Beginner Novice B: Macy Clark and Bailando (21.9)
Open Starter: Kristen Ayers and Counting Stars (26.7)
Starter Rider: Priscilla Pignatelli and Dittos Gold En Fury (20.7)

 

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Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack 26 Feb 2024, 7:40 am

 

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Eventing will always be my sport of choice (despite the odd foray out of it — I’ve spent the last few days in Qatar, working as part of the broadcast team for the 5* showjumping at the CHI Al Shaqab, which has been an experience!) but I do think there are some cues we could take from other disciplines. Mostly, tbh, I want us to have costume classes, as they do at Desert Horse Park in California, but I don’t want them to just be restricted to kids. I’m thinking a fancy dress CCI4*-S could go over nicely. Who do I pitch this to?

National Holiday: It’s Letter to an Elder Day. Have you been inspired, or taught valuable lessons, by a horse person of an older generation? Consider writing them a note of gratitude — even if they’re not someone you know directly, we guarantee it’ll mean a huge amount to them.

US Weekend Action:

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC): [Website] [Results]

Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA): [Website] [Results]

Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL): [Website] [Results]

Your Monday Reading List:

Men and women might be able to compete equally in equestrian sports, but the experience of it isn’t always the same. Menopause is one major factor that can really change a rider’s riding life, and that’s the topic on the table in this interesting interview with 55-year-old Rachel Fisher, who’ll be tackling the Badminton Grassroots Championship this year and has learned how to make her body work for her, even when it feels like a new, alien place to be. Check it out.

Would you buy an unbroken pony for your kids? Only if you don’t like them much, amiright — but actually, writer Jamie Sindell has kind of swayed me with her measured approach to doing exactly that. First-time pony producers should probably still not do this, but for those with a bit of experience, I think I can see the benefits now.

We love a life-hack or a top tip from the folks who really know horses. And top of that list? Professional grooms. Here’s some of their biggest ‘don’ts’ to help you become a better horse person and make your horse happy, healthy, and super-duper shiny.

Marley Bridges was en route to being a gymnastics champion. Then, a major injury forced her to give up the sport she loved at just twelve years old. It was heartbreaking — but in the process, she found horses, and eventing, and a new challenge to embrace. Check out her inspiring story here.

Morning Viewing:

I truly…don’t know what to tell you here.

 

Announcing the 2024 Ride for Charity Teams at #GPE2024 25 Feb 2024, 12:56 pm

Emily Hamel and Corvett. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The 2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (GPE) Organizing Committee and the Aiken Horse Park Foundation are excited to announce the 2024 Ride For Charity Teams and Online Fan Vote!

Since the inaugural event in 2019, #AnEventLikeNoOther has featured the extraordinary Ride For Charity team competition. Along with the main event, the riders competing at the GPE are divided into 6 teams, each representing a local charitable organization. The top 3 finishing teams earn prize money for their respective charities.

In addition, since 2021 we have incorporated the “Online Fan Vote”, where the public can get in on the action and vote for their favorite team. At $5 per vote, 100% of the proceeds go back to our participating charitable organizations.

The Aiken Horse Park Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, prides itself on its charitable contributions at EVERY event here at Bruce’s Field! Whether raising funds, awareness, or both, our charitable work is central to who we are.

Please read on to learn more about our 6 participating charitable organizations and join our “Online Fan Vote” to contribute to your favorite causes. Fans may vote as often, for as many teams, as they wish! Online voting will close at 4:00 pm EST, Saturday, March 2nd. [Click here to cast your vote]

Tickets are still available for this one-of-a-kind event, and you can get yours by clicking here.

TEAM RED

Great Oak Equine Assisted Programs

Captained by Colleen Loach

Sydney Elliott

Kyle Carter

Waylon Roberts

Great Oak provides equine assisted activities that promote the physical, emotional, and psychological health of individuals with disabilities. At Great Oak, we change lives. Our programs are the catalyst for unbridled personal growth and awareness. We share our knowledge to empower individuals and their families.

TEAM ORANGE

TRI DEVELOPMENT CENTER

Captained by Liz Halliday

Dani Sussman

Buck Davidson

Shannon Lilley

We make sure that individuals’ strengths and abilities are recognized. People with disabilities are vital and integral members of our society. They are supported as members of the community, rather than clients of programs or consumers of services. Opportunities to grow and achieve are offered in natural settings on a systematic and timely basis. Everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

TEAM YELLOW

AIKEN VOLUNTEER MOUNTED UNIT

Captained by Doug Payne

Caroline Pamukcu

Arden Wildasin

Sara Kozumplik

ADPS deploys volunteer personnel to supplement other components of the department in a non-law enforcement capacity as deemed necessary by the Director of Public Safety. Mounted volunteers can be an effective tool in operations, ceremonial details, and other areas of public relations. The volunteers of the unit are civilian volunteers. Participation as a volunteer does not confer law enforcement authority upon the civilian volunteers. It is the policy of the Department to utilize trained mounted horse volunteers in specific capacities as designated by the Director.

TEAM GREEN

AIKEN COUNTY PONY CLUB

Captained by Emily Hamel

Will Coleman

Austin O’Connor

Sharon White

Aiken County Pony Club (ACPC) was founded in 1998 by Sporting Days owner Joannah Glass, and has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 20+ years. ACPC is incredibly lucky to be based in one of the most exceptional equestrian locations in the world – Aiken, SC, with access to Olympic coaches, notable equestrians and horse trainers, and exceptional facilities.  Each member plays an important role in our club, and we have riders of all abilities – from those learning to ride to those with Olympic dreams (and every one in between). Our club is part of a greater network of equestrians and sportspeople through the Regional and National Pony Club Organizations. Through Pony Club our members compete in Pony Club competitions (known as rallies), which require the kids to work together as a team, in the spirit of great horsemanship.

TEAM BLUE

HITCHCOCK WOODS FOUNDATION

Captained by Phillip Dutton

Will Faudree

Bobby Meyerhoff

Allison Springer

The Hitchcock Woods Foundation is solely responsible for the preservation and management of the Hitchcock Woods, which is the largest privately-owned urban forest in the country. Its 2,100 acres and 70 miles of sandy trails have been a haven for pedestrian and equestrian users since the early 1800’s.

TEAM PURPLE

BATTLEFRONT OUTDOORS

Captained by Boyd Martin

Monica Spencer

Matthew Grayling

Erin Kanara

To provide outdoor adventures and therapeutic events to the men and women who serve at home and abroad.

Sunday Links from SRF Carolina International 24 Feb 2024, 11:01 pm

You can collect them all! Take your pick of Carolina International CCI4* competitors and add them to your Equiratings Eventing Manager team. Trade them with your friends Pokémon-style, and wait in line at the midnight release to get the ultra-rare shiny Will Coleman.

U.S. Weekend Action

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Links to Start Your Sunday:

Free USEA Digital Memberships Awarded to Volunteers for 2024

Lauren O’Connor: Surviving Years of #MeToo Turmoil and Healing Through Horses

Q&A: How has the path changed for ambitious young riders without the budget to pursue the top sport?

Liz Halliday’s three-step process to teaching young horses over narrow fences

Sponsor Corner: Calling all volunteers near the Carolina Horse Park! The Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International CCI and HT on March 14th through 17th is looking for volunteers. Choose from a half day or full day shift and get to enjoy all the eventing action from right in the thick of it. No experience needed! Learn more [here].

Morning Viewing: You’re twelve years old aboard a pony named Cupcake or Sparkles, pulling up to the Beginner Novice warmup wearing your hot pink tie-dye cross country colors, just to queue at the start box behind Boyd Martin and a spicy baby Thoroughbred. Oh, but then you beat him because he racked up time penalties from going too fast.

 

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Eventing Emerging and Development Program Training Sessions Kick Off 2024 Season 24 Feb 2024, 2:00 pm

Eventing Emerging athlete Maddie Hale schooling a show jumping course in Ocala. Photo by Devyn Trethewey/US Equestrian.

The Eventing Emerging and Development Program participants began 2024 with training sessions to hone their skills with Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law. In addition, they heard from several industry experts to help further their knowledge of the high-performance aspects of equestrian sport.

The athletes rode in dressage and show jumping lessons with Law, setting their show jumping courses alongside Law or course designer Chris Barnard. Participants worked on their cross-country riding in lessons with Ian Stark, Eventing Team European High Performance and Cross-Country Advisor.

“The January training sessions are a good time to take a look at the basics. When you are in the middle of the season, you are more focused on the competitions along with the show jumping rounds and the test themselves,” said Law. “Overall, I thought the combinations looked good. Everyone had their horses in good shape. We had some good cross-country schooling sessions with Ian Stark. Most of the athletes have had a run now, and they all came out and had good results.”

An esteemed group of experts gave lectures to the participants on a variety of topics. Longtime groom Max Corcoran spoke about horse management, and Joanna Frantz reviewed human physiology basics and exercises for the athletes. Veterinarians Dr. Lisa Cassinella, Dr. Jonathan McLellan, and Dr. Paul McClellan shared how to keep equine athletes in top shape, and farriers Rebecca Ratte and Kenny Bark discussed hoof care with the participants. Sam Watson of EquiRatings provided an overview of data collected and key performance indicators for their high-performance analysis.

“We do a lot of lectures on top of the training itself,” said Law. “We try to cover the whole aspect of the business. The athletes have their own bases and their own programs, but we really try and help them maximize their potential in all areas.”

Along with the educational component, Law and Christina Vaughn, Director of Eventing Development & Emerging Programs, review athletes’ plans for the year ahead and possible target events for the various combinations in the spring and summer.

“We are looking to take up to six riders over to Europe to do the Nations Cups at Chatsworth in the UK and Millstreet in Ireland with the possibility of some of them doing the three-day at Bramham as well,” said Law. “That’s a big discussion with who is interested in doing that and what we need to do prior to it.”

The educational series began with the Eventing Emerging Program Training Session at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Fla., from Jan. 8-11. Along with the lessons and lectures, participants heard from a USOPC nutritionist, Rikki Keen, on having well-rounded meals.

Eventing Emerging athlete Julia Beauchamp Crandon schooling cross-country with Ian Stark in Temecula, California.
Photo by Myah Vasquez Photography.

The West Coast-based Eventing Emerging Program participants trained alongside their counterparts in the USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Programfrom Jan. 15-18 at the Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula, Calif. Both groups had their respective training sessions, often auditing each other’s lessons, and joined together for lectures from the industry experts. In addition to the main lectures, participants received media training as well as insights from a coaches’ roundtable panel consisting of Law and U.S. dressage athlete Steffen Peters.

The Eventing Development Program participants gathered at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Fla., from Jan. 29 – Feb. 1. Along with the lessons and lectures, the Eventing Development Program participants received media training and spoke on a panel about their educational influences for the USEA Eventing Coaches Program Symposium being held at the same facility.

Looking beyond 2024, Law aimed to get athletes thinking long-term about the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

“There are discussions happening on L.A. in four years’ time, trying to get the riders to think bigger picture. It might seem a long way away, but it’s not,” said Law. “They are certainly capable, but now it is putting it all together for the future.”

An Eventer’s Guide to Replacing Your Safety Equipment 24 Feb 2024, 9:30 am

Eventers have a reputation for being tough as nails, handy, and finding ingenious applications for duct tape. That last bit should not apply to your safety equipment — so we’re here to share some helpful information about when your safety gear should be replaced.

Helmets

Photo courtesy of Ride EquiSafe

Dents and divots are not a badge of honor — on your helmet or your head. If you’ve had a fall where your head has impacted the ground, your helmet needs to be replaced. Most helmet manufacturers offer an accident replacement program where you can buy a new helmet at a discounted rate depending on the age of your helmet.

If your helmet hasn’t had an impact with the ground, it generally needs to be replaced every 3-5 years. Whether it’s three, four, or five years depends on multiple factors, including: how often and long you ride, if your head is particularly sweaty, climate (heat and humidity grows icky stuff, which can degrade its important inner workings and also put you in contact with bacteria), and storage conditions.

Key things to check the condition of your helmet:

  • Obvious scratches and dents in the shell.
  • If your helmet has a brim, it shouldn’t be misshapen.
  • Indents or cracks in the polystyrene (the inner shell).
  • A crushed liner that no longer has padding.

You only have one head, so follow these guidelines to keep it looking and thinking like normal.

Body Protectors

Body protectors follow similar guidelines to helmets. We love the stalwart Tipperaries, except for when we see the 30-year-old ones that are hanging on by a thread and a rider proudly announcing that they’ve had it since they were 12 (they’re 56 now) or that they found it in a Middleburg second hand shop for five dollars.

So, replace your body protectors every 3-5 years depending on usage. Heat and moisture have a significant impact on foam, so if you’ve been unlucky enough to go swimming cross-country on too many occasions, you’re a prolific sweater, or enjoy riding in the rain, this will shorten the life of your body protector.

Things to check on your body protector for condition :

  • Foam: Foam should be an even thickness without obvious dents or divots. It should still have a thick, dense feel to it. If your fingers can squeeze into the foam, it’s degraded. When you squeeze the foam, the little bit of give should bounce back quickly.
  • It stinks: If it’s stinky, it’s a sign of bacteria which can degrade the foam.
  • Condition of the laces or Velcro: The laces or Velcro should have as much grip as day one. If there is no elasticity left in your laces, the grommets are missing or the Velcro doesn’t stick any more, the equipment is unlikely to stay in place the way that it needs to fully protect you.

Air Vests

Photo courtesy of Ride EquiSafe

You’re going to sense a theme here – air vests should be replaced every 3-5 years. Notwithstanding the fact that we’re starting to see more rapid innovation, but because air vests are mechanical and it’s imperative that all components are regularly checked to be in good working order. All air vests offer a warranty and also have servicing guidelines. Like the Tipperaries, we often see Point Two and Hit Air vests that look like they have been through battle (isn’t that what a cross country course is anyways?) and when we ask when they were last serviced, we get a blank stare.

There are six main components to an air vest that need to be regularly self inspected or checked by the manufacturer:

  • Textile: This is the outer shell that houses the air bladders. Inspect these to make sure that there are no rips or snags. You can also do the stink test.
  • Air chambers: The majority of air vest manufacturers don’t want you touching the air bladders themselves at risk of changing how they lie within the vest. But you can still test the condition by intentionally deploying the vest to make sure that the vest fully inflates and stores air for the appropriate amount of time. Yes, we know people loathe blowing a perfectly good canister, but it’s not without good reason .
  • Trigger: Your trigger is mechanical and is responsible for setting in motion the inflation of your vest. You want to make sure that none of the parts are rusted or corroded. Your trigger should be kept clean and dry. If you take a dunk in the water or get caught in a monsoon, make sure to dry off the trigger afterwards. As with the air chambers, the best way to check the trigger is functional is by doing a test inflation.
  • Lanyard and Key Ball: Your lanyard is a bungee. If it no longer has stretch left or is stretched out, it needs to be replaced. If your key ball is misshapen or gunky, it should be replaced. The way that the key ball sits in the trigger directly impacts if the trigger will fire correctly. You want it to fire when it should and you don’t want it to when you don’t (seems obvious, right?).
  • Saddle Strap: For the love of Pete, DO NOT hook your lanyard to a D-ring. The worst thing in the world is to be flying through the air, waiting for your vest to deploy and out snaps your D-ring. Always use a saddle strap installed on your stirrup bars and make sure that the loop that you are clipping onto is centered. Ensure that the nylon isn’t torn or frayed. ZIP TIES ARE NOT AN ACCEPTABLE REPLACEMENT FOR YOUR SADDLE STRAP. (Sorry, didn’t mean to yell there.)
  • Gas Canister: Your gas canisters should be stored in ambient temperatures. This means they shouldn’t be kept in your car or horse trailer (yes, I’m talking to you). If they are stored in extreme temps for a prolonged period of time, you risk the gas losing mass. Most gas canisters have a weight printed on them, so at a minimum it’s recommended to check the weight on a kitchen scale at least annually.

If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid falling all year, I recommend deploying your vest just to ensure it’s still functioning properly.

Stirrups

I’d love to think that everyone is using safety stirrups, but I know that’s not the case. Gone are the days of rubber banded peacock stirrups being your only option. Have you seen videos of riders getting dragged? It’s terrifying and would send anyone running to the tack store to buy stirrups with a release mechanism.

Regardless of what kind of stirrups you have, here are a couple of things to check:

  • Footbed: The footbed is what gives you grip. Whether it’s metal, rubber or polymer, make sure that there is still sufficient tread left.
  • Material: If your stirrups are metal, just make sure there’s no rust or corrosion. If it’s composite or non-metal, check for cracks. If you have composite stirrups, I actually recommend replacing every 3-5 years, just like your helmet and body protector. Look for any changes in shape, as this can mean that the material is compromised. If you have a safety mechanism, make sure that the components such as joints or flexible branches are in good working order.

Safety equipment is there to do just that – keep you safe, and the only way it can effectively do that is to make sure it’s stored properly, used properly, inspected properly and maintained properly. Duct tape and zip ties are not substitutes for good, working equipment, so put your old stuff in a shadowbox and invest the appropriate time and money into your safety.

Remember – functioning safety equipment is cheaper than an ambulance ride!

 

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This article was sponsored by Ride EquiSafe — your source for all things related to equestrian safety. Ride EquiSafe provides expert demos, fittings, and guidance for the most important part of the ride: your safety. To shop air vests, body protectors, safety stirrups, and more, head to their website

Saturday Links from World Equestrian Brands 23 Feb 2024, 11:01 pm

Photo via Alison Eastman-Lawler on Facebook.

Alison Eastman-Lawler added a little twist to her most recent schooling show at Apple Tree Farm South in Windsor, South Carolina by hosting a ‘Bald is Beautiful Beauty Pageant’ to raise support for Locks of Love, a nationwide non-profit that provides real hair wigs to children suffering hair loss as a result of a medical condition.

The Bald is Beautiful Beauty Pageant saw three brave men — Ronan Maloney, Mike Pendleton, and Shawn Lawler — come forward as contestants to shave their head. A $10 donation to Locks of Love bought one vote to cast for the winner of the pageant, which ultimately raised an impressive $3,000!

And the winner was … the man who got his head WAXED: Ronan Moloney! If you fancy watching the painful chaos, you can do so right here. And it’s not too late to donate to the cause either!

U.S. Weekend Action

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Links to Start Your Weekend:

Reviving the Spirit: Jamaican Eventing Soars with the FEI Solidarity’s FEI Eventing World Challenge Series

Laughter and Learning at the 2024 Ocala Horse Properties USEA YEH Symposium

Am I Crazy? I Bought An Unbroke Small For My Kids

A Quick Look at the Amazing Equine Heart

The Big Picture Presented By Excel Equine: Are Influencers The Answer?

Sponsor Corner: Check out Woodge Fulton and Cash Point strutting their stuff 👑

Woodge chooses Amerigo Saddles for her horses. “We love everything about our @amerigo_saddles_official saddles, from the way they fit the horses to how customizable they are. From piping colors to stitching colors, you can match your saddle to your personality.”

World Equestrian Brands is your source for saddles trusted by 5* riders.

Morning Viewing: Are you a chronic looker downer when you ride? Here’s a quick top from Amelia Newcomb on how to fix your it!

Tommy Greengard Receives the USET Foundation’s 2024 Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant 23 Feb 2024, 11:00 am

Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Up-and-coming eventing athlete Tommy Greengard of Malibu, California, was named the recipient of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant for 2024. A current competitor on the US Equestrian (USEF) Eventing Emerging Program List, Greengard has aspirations of representing the United States internationally.

The Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant is awarded annually through the USET Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Fund. Pirie’s family established the fund in her memory to provide financial assistance to an eventing athlete identified as having the talent and ability to represent the United States in the future. It is intended for a recipient that will benefit most from the opportunity to continue their training with top coaches and to compete against the world’s best in eventing, one of three Olympic equestrian disciplines. As the recipient of the grant, Greengard will receive up to $5,000 to help offset expenses associated with his training throughout 2024.

“I’m so appreciative to the USET Foundation and USEF for all of the opportunities that have been offered to me including this grant,” stated Greengard. “Earning this grant took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting it all. It’s a wonderful way to start the year, and I’m very grateful.”

Greengard began riding when he was six years old and trained with Robyn Fisher in Malibu, California, for nearly nine years. When he moved to northern California to attend college at the University of California, Berkeley, he began training with Andrea Pfeiffer. After graduating in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science, Greengard decided to make horses a career and began to work as a full-time trainer at Pfeiffer’s Chocolate Horse Farm in Petaluma, California.

While Greengard has had success at the four-star level with his own Joshuay MBF 2, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, including winning the CCI4*-S at Woodside Fall International in October 2023 and placing third in the CCI4*-L at the Eventing Championships at Galway Downs in November 2023, he hopes to leverage the Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant to make his international debut.

Working closely with Pfeiffer, Greengard has been focused on building a string of promising young eventing horses and plans to leverage the grant to support the development of one particular horse, That’s Me Z, Greengard and Pfeiffer’s seven-year-old Zangersheide gelding.

“I have some exciting up-and-coming horses, and I’m hoping that I can take That’s Me Z to the 2024 FEI World Championship for Young Horses in Le Lion d’Angers, France,” Greengard explained. “I’d like to use this grant to gain additional training and competition opportunities that I might not have access to otherwise for That’s Me Z. He’s a pretty brave horse, but I think new experiences and introducing him to different atmospheres will be important before competing on the world stage.”

With his sights set on international competition, Greengard credits his partnership with Pfeiffer and support from USEF’s Eventing Emerging Program List for bolstering his career path.

“First and foremost, I have to acknowledge Andrea Pfeiffer. She has been behind me and the horses one thousand percent day in and day out,” said Greengard. “I’ve also been fortunate to have help from USEF’s Development and Emerging Coach Leslie Law through the Emerging Program List. Finally, Lilo Fore has helped me on the flat and, of course, my parents have been hugely influential in making everything happen.”

Thanks to the Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant, Greengard can continue to focus on his training to help reach his goal of representing the United States around the world.

Regain Your Training Focus with This Simple Exercise 23 Feb 2024, 8:30 am

Sharon White and Claus 63. Photo by Shelby Allen.

I don’t know what time warp January was in, but for me, it seemed like the longest month in current memory. I have a degree in exercise science, I’ve been a personal trainer for almost a decade, and I am a two-hundred-hour yoga teacher. I cannot stand the gym in January. I will almost avoid it like the plague. I think I went to the gym once in January and that was to catch up with my husband, who’s an avid four-day gym-goer, come hell or high water.

In Virginia, where I’m based, temperatures were miserable. I’m usually very active, and though I worked my barn job throughout January (which included trying to ride in these frigid temperatures!), I did not spend any more time outside than absolutely necessary. All this goes to say, somehow I survived January — but I lost some fitness in the process. But as the temperatures in February have been hovering around 50 and we’re asking our horses to do more, it’s important to bring some of the stillness we found earlier in the year. I do this through yin yoga.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga isn’t new. Paul Grilley, the modern father of yin, explains it as such: “Yin Yoga is a natural healing practice that talented yoga teachers have always been rediscovering and integrating into their practice.”

Yin Yoga is categorized by long, static holds in which we use gravity to do the work of tractioning the fascia and connective tissue of the body. While this is a more subtle form of exercise, you are still working the body in a very specific and targeted way. This form of yoga is different from restorative yoga, where your goal is simply to relax. The two are commonly confused as the same thing, when in fact they are not.

Yin poses are held anywhere from three to twelve minutes. During a yin hold, you will typically feel a light sensation. Over time, that sensation will become more subtle and then will come back to you in waves. The goal is to remain centered during this rollercoaster ride of sensations.

Yin holds are a great way to cultivate a mindfulness practice in which you focus on your breath — and everything else that comes up, you try to let go of and regain your focus on your breath. The benefits a consistent practice like this can have on our riding or training are numerous; staying present in the saddle is not always easy, and this practice can help.

Start on you back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Keep your feet together and your knees out wide.

Set a timer and hold this position for 3-5 minutes.

Here’s a simple Yin Yoga hold to incorporate into your routine:

Reclined Butterfly

The Reclined Butterfly is a very good exercise for the inner thigh. This is a more passive exercise, so you might not feel too much sensation, but don’t worry if this is the case. This hold targets the inner thigh and groin, and you are also in a subtle back bend, making this useful for the lower back as well.

1. Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
2. Keep your feet together and bring your knees out wide.
3. Set a timer and hold this position for 3-5 minutes.

I recommend doing this hold at the end of the day, instead of at the beginning of the day. This is a great way to start a wind-down ritual in the evening.

Try this and feel the mental and physical benefits!

Want to get in even better saddle shape? Contact Laura Crump Anderson and Hidden Heights Fitness to get started on a customized program today! 

Click here to read more from Laura on EN.

Friday News & Notes from Stable View 23 Feb 2024, 2:41 am

 

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As the weekend rolls around once more, I hope you all have wonderful things planned; some of you may even be taking a little time to recharge your batteries ahead of another hectic week. I know that I did just that last weekend, taking myself off on a little ‘staycation,’ and reconnecting with my non-equine interests. As Andrew Hoy points out, it’s not always easy to find the much talked about ‘balance’ in life, especially where horses are concerned. But just like our beloved equine counterparts, ‘Recovery and Rest’ days play their part in the path to achieving our goals, too. I doubt many of us are as lucky as Mr Hoy, and get to enjoy said rest days sunning ourselves in Dubai – I know I certainly didn’t need my passport last weekend! – but even just a day out of your normal routine can work wonders, both mentally and physically. So why not take some time for you this weekend, and head into Monday refreshed and raring to go. And if you get the chance to do that in Dubai, even better!

U.S. Weekend Preview

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]
Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]
Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Friday News and Reading

We eventing fans sure do love a live stream and EN’s one-stop hub is where they’re all at. We’ve compiled this list and its accompanying global map to assist you and cut down on confusion and frustration when it comes to eventing live streams. We’ll be updating this as new live streams are added and you can request the addition of a live stream by emailing tips@eventingnation.com. Eyes on, and go eventing!

It was Ian Stark’s birthday yesterday. You know the one: all round eventing legend, and designer of some of the world’s best – and toughest – cross country courses, including Maryland. Take a trip down memory lane courtesy of Horse & Hound, who have managed to condense his remarkable life and career in an easily digestible article. Happy (belated) Birthday Ian!

In the build-up to competition, so much of our time is spent focussing on the physical side of training, and mindset is often neglected as a result. However, as Nicky Pennie points out on the latest edition of the Grassroots Show from the Eventing Podcast, it is just as important to have a strong mental attitude as well. In learning how to harness your nerves in the correct way, you will not only improve your results, but inevitably add to the overall enjoyment of the experience. A really great listen for anyone that has ever suffered from nerves or self doubt (I will put my hand up on that one), full of useful tips and tricks for turning the negative thoughts around – and there’s even a discount code for Nicky’s ‘Supercharge Your Riding Masterclass, if you want to delve even deeper into your mental approach.

5* season is almost upon us, and no doubt selectors will have their attention firmly fixed on the entries list, ahead of the Paris Olympics. Riders lucky enough to have more than one potential Olympic star in their stable have an added opportunity to showcase them at Badminton this year, as the entries system has been altered slightly, to allow riders the chance to ride three horses, rather than two, as in previous years. Burghley Horse Trials allows riders to enter three horses, but Badminton has previously been so oversubscribed, it was only fair to limit riders to two horses. But last year, there was no waiting list – a first time for the event – hence the new entry system. How wonderful it must be to have three 5* runners in your stable – I’m sure most of us would be happy with just one!

On a more sombre note, the Kiwi Eventing Community suffered a big loss this week. Helen Thomson, an integral part of the Eventing Taranki committee, and a great contributor to our sport over the years, died in hospital on February 2nd. Contributing to many events as a judge, she was a much relied on volunteer, and one that New Zealand Eventing were more than aware they were lucky to have. Indeed, volunteers like Helen are few and far between, both overseas and closer to home, and selfless characters like Helen are a gift to our sport. Without them, it would be hard to run any events at all. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her, and the Kiwi Eventing community as a whole. Rest in Peace, Helen – our thoughts are with your family and loved ones.

Just when we thought it was all over… As most of you will be aware, Shane Rose caused a little bit of a furore last weekend when he chose to showjumping in a mankini. Cue eventing making national news, albeit for all of the wrong reasons, and Shane having to ‘step down’ from competition while he was investigated (for what, exactly, I am still not sure). Anyway, after an overwhelming rally of support for Shane from fans all over the world, the ‘case(?!)’ against him was inevitably dropped, and normality resumed. But for Tim Palmer, the whole situation should never have come to pass and he has decided to resign from his position as chairman of Equestrian Australia’s integrity committee as a result. Who knew that such a scrappy piece of material could cause such upheaval?!

In this ever changing world we live in, climate change is an increasingly hot topic (no pun intended, honest). So if you are concerned about the impact that you – or your horse – are having on the environment, why not work out their carbon footprint?! The brains behind Agria Equine Insurance have developed a handy little tool to allow you to do just that – and if you want a point of comparison, then their brand ambassador, current European and former World Champion, Ros Canter, has shared her own results. Every little helps!

Sponsor Corner

 

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We don’t usually highlight winners of dressage competitions on Eventing Nation… but how can we not congratulate the winner of the highest Dressage Score for Thoroughbreds during the USEF/USDF “I LOVE Dressage” Show at Stable View when he has a show name like Why is the Rum Gone? Congratulations to Bridgette Miller and her wonderfully named horse on their win at Stable View.

Weekend Watching

It’s not eventing, but it is still one hell of a story, and one hell of a winning round, and it never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and bring a tear to my eye. A fantastic display of horsemanship, the culmination of a long career characterised by grit and determination, and proof that dreams really can come true, no matter how may setbacks you encounter along the way. A fairytale ending for Nick and Big Star, I for one can’t wait to see how many more of these we will encounter in Paris, but for now, I hope you enjoy this throwback to Rio 2016. Keep dreaming, keep fighting, and as ever, Go Eventing!

 

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Ingrid Klimke on FEI World Championships at Aachen: ‘Nothing Better Could Happen!’ 22 Feb 2024, 2:00 pm

This story has been shared with permission from Aachen 2026, the site of the next FEI World Championships for eventing, show jumping, dressage, para dressage, vaulting and driving. Subscribe to the Aachen 2026 newsletter to keep up with the latest updates from this exciting event here. [EN’s Coverage of #Aachen2026]

Ingrid Klimke and Equistro’s Siena Just Do It. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

She is one of the most successful riders in the world and has won countless medals at Olympic Games, World and European Championships so far in her career. And yet one championship event particularly springs to mind for riding master, Ingrid Klimke: The FEI World Equestrian Games 2006 in Aachen.

In an interview the 55-year-old not only looked back on this emotional major event, but also looked ahead to the FEI World Championships Aachen 2026.

The World Championships are returning to Aachen in 2026. How was your reaction to this decision?

I was initially absolutely delighted, of course. But, at the same time, all of those wonderful memories of the best World Equestrian Games I had ever experienced immediately came to mind again. All of the disciplines being staged jointly, cheering on all the other participants together and the truly first-class conditions that turned the championships into a real world festival. That all of this is going to be repeated now 20 years later: Nothing better could happen for the equestrian sport! I am sure this event is going to be a fantastic experience for everyone involved.

What significance does the fact that all six disciplines are being staged in Aachen have?

For me the fact that all disciplines take place in one location is what distinguishes the horse family. And if I could wish for something it would be that this is always the case. Each discipline quite often has its own championships. Everyone knows each other in our sport, we are all one big community. But for me personally it is always especially nice to have a look at what goes on in the other disciplines and engage in an exchange with the other competitors. One celebrates together, one suffers with each other, when anything goes wrong. And apart from that one can learn a lot watching the other riders and broaden one’s horizon. So, it is a wonderful enrichment when all of the disciplines are united at one location.

Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

You were on board in 2006 and experienced the World Championships in Aachen as an active competitor. What are your memories of the event?

Oh, there were so many unforgettable and really exceptional moments: From the Opening Ceremony in the sold-out Main Stadium, through to the Reception in front of the Town Hall of the City of Aachen. I also recall the many wonderful evenings spent together with the athletes of all the disciplines, but also with friends, acquaintances and my family. Experiencing such an event in one’s own country simply allows many people to be there, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.

How would you describe the atmosphere back then?

Happy, exuberant, simply fantastic. There were so many moments of joy that were celebrated with an incredible air of lightness, but also moments of consolation, when disappointed athletes received solace from the crowds. Throughout the entire duration, the mood in 2006 in Aachen was better than at any other championships I have ever experienced.

What would it mean to you to be able to take part as a competitor again in 2026?

Simply everything. And that is exactly what I am going to work towards over the next two years. I have great horses in my yard, which I will bring on systematically and hopefully I will be selected to compete in Aachen in 2026. That is my next major goal now.

Scholarship Alert: Maryland International Equestrian Foundation 22 Feb 2024, 8:30 am

Eventers can use all the help they can find to make ends meet in this sport, and so we’re eager to share opportunities for scholarships or grants that someone who reads EN might benefit from. If you have a verified opportunity we can spread the word about, please tip us by emailing tips@eventingnation.com

Valerie Pride, a 2022 MIEF FEI Scholarship recipient, and Favian at the 2022 Maryland 5 Star. Photo by Abby Powell.

The latest open opportunity comes to us from the Maryland International Equestrian Foundation (MIEF), which sponsors a variety of scholarships throughout each year. You can view current opportunities on their website here.

Two scholarships are currently open for applications:

MIEF FEI Scholarship

The Maryland International Equestrian Foundation (MIEF) will award four $1,000 scholarships to riders wanting to compete at the 1*, 2*, 3* or 4* levels at the July Maryland International Horse Trials. The scholarship funds will used entry fees, stabling, travel costs, and other associated competition expenses up to $1,000.

Applications are open from January 15, 2024 to May 1, 2024. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Recipients will be announced May 15, 2024.

Applicant Criteria:

  • Open to riders who are USEF and USEA members in good standing.

  • Horses and riders must be capable of competing at the level of scholarship they are applying for.

  • Riders may apply for more than one scholarship level as long as it is a different horse/rider combination.

  • Riders and horses who have competed in a 5* competition and/or outside of North America are not eligible.

  • Horse and rider combination may not have competed above the level for which they are applying.

  • Previous applicants are encouraged to re-apply

  • Members of the MIEF Board of Directors and members of their families are not eligible. Family members or current clients of the Scholarship Award Committee are not eligible.

  • Incomplete applications without a video submission and letter of recommendation will not be considered.

Merrylegs Junior Rider Scholarship

The Merrylegs Junior Rider scholarships are geared towards diverse, young equestrians who are competing at a grassroots level. Scholarship recipients will receive a credit of $500 towards Highland Series Horse Trials, Twilight Events, Pick Your Time/Test Dressage & Blue Ribbon Jump Round show entries and any schooling opportunities at Loch Moy Farm over the next year. The scholarship period is one year after the date the recipient enters their first event. After this period, unused scholarship funds will expire. Loch Moy Farm offers a variety of fun and accessible opportunities throughout the year for grassroots riders to learn and compete.

Applications for this initial round are due May 1, 2024. TWO scholarships will be awarded during this round.

Applicant Criteria:

  • Junior riders* age 13 – 17 riding at a grassroots level who would like to compete or are competing at the elementary, beginner novice, or novice levels. *{as defined by USEF and USEA Rulebook)

  • Local to Loch Moy Farm and able to arrange a suitable horse and travel to the venue. Scholarship funds can also be applied towards stabling. Recipients do not need to own their own horse, or use the same horse throughout the year. Participants in riding school lesson programs are encouraged to apply!

  • Ready to tell us how this scholarship would help them advance their riding goals.

  • Enthusiastic about increasing access to equestrian sports for underrepresented groups.

  • Willing to share their experience on Maryland Horse Trials and MIEF social & print media.

  • Able to further their equestrian education by volunteering 8 hours at any Maryland Horse Trials event. The volunteer hours may be split up.

Scholarship recipients will be subject to the rules and requirements of the events they enter.

To submit your application or share the form with a friend, click here. 

Thursday News & Notes 21 Feb 2024, 11:49 pm

 

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We’re obviously all locked onto the road to Paris as we gear up for an Olympic year, but the eventing world has one eye on the future, namely 2028 and the LA Games, when Olympic eventing as we currently know it will likely not feature. The deadline for National Federations to submit their comments on the proposed format changes passed on Tuesday and so our attention turns to the FEI, with feedback due to be presented to the IOC by March 1st.

Seven-time Olympian and three-time medalist Phillip Dutton has shared his thoughts on the future of eventing and what changes at Olympic level may mean for the sport as a whole:

“I do think there is a general consensus worldwide in the eventing community that it is important to modify the format if the International Olympic Committee recommends changes so that our sport can stay a part of the Olympics. Even though it will most likely be a watered-down event, it will still keep the sport part of the general sports viewers’ eyes and will help attract sponsorship and excitement and therefore create a more sustainable sport. Like in other sports, such as tennis, the gold medal winner at the Olympics is probably not remembered as well as the Wimbledon champion.⁣

For eventing, the five-star three-day events are the ultimate test of training, endurance, talent and horsemanship. It is imperative that the FEI recognizes this and puts out a statement committing to support the five-star events and that changing the Olympic format does NOT mean that the sport will go the way of the Olympic format.⁣”

We await the final decision with baited breath, but in the meantime, go eventing.

U.S. Weekend Preview

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Pine Top Advanced (Thomson, GA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Three Lakes Winter II H.T. at Caudle Ranch (Groveland, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Thursday News and Reading

We eventing fans sure do love a live stream and EN’s one-stop hub is where they’re all at. We’ve compiled this list and its accompanying global map to assist you and cut down on confusion and frustration when it comes to eventing live streams. We’ll be updating this as new streams are added, and you can request the addition of a live stream by emailing tips@eventingnation.com. Eyes on, and go eventing!

5* eventer and mustang trainer Elisa Wallace joins the Genetics Unbridled Podcast and makes a cool discovery about two horses in her herd. Elisa gives her insights into working with the wild guys, how she bonds with them and the connection she builds through her training. We’ve loved following along with her vlogs as she navigated the Mustang Magic this year and now we get to listen in as she sheds light on some of the stuff that didn’t make it to YouTube. All this plus, we find out about Etalon’s innovative new project, Map-My-Mustang, how Elisa’s used genetic testing in her own program, and how she discovered that there are actually full siblings in her barn. Earbuds in and listen up.

Help your horse become a better athlete by adding calisthenics into your training routine. This conditioning work is not a new fad – I remember it from workout video tapes in the 80s, but it’s far older and wiser than that – it actually dates back to Ancient Greece and means ‘beauty’ and ‘strength’. And it’s not just a human thing – horses can do calisthenics too. Here are some simple exercises to help your horses find those muscles they probably don’t use in their day-to-day training to become more balanced, mobile, strong and beautifully conditioned.

Am I boring you, buddy? If you’ve got a yawner, you may be inclined to think that your horse is finding things a bit dull. But that may not actually be the case. Research has found that yawning can be a sign of frustration, and if you’ve got a horse who yawns frequently, it could be a red flag regarding their welfare.

I used to dream of having a real pony’s tail to brush as I dragged a tiny plastic comb through the candy-colored nylon glued to the rear of my My Little Pony. But man, does the real thing take some care and attention! It of course doesn’t help that I bought an almost pure white pony, who is right now mostly brown and sporting some pretty impressive skid marks the full length of his tail. (Sorry for that tasteful image if you’re eating breakfast right now.) With this in mind, I’m always on the look-out for tail care tips, like these four ways to keep your horse’s tail looking fabulously full.

And finally, some horsing around with your feet on the ground. You may have heard that hobby horsing is, no joke, a serious sport with its own Championships, well, it’s catching on in student circles too – California Polytechnic State University is hosting its first-ever hobby horsing competition, with the winners getting the chance to perform at the Cal Poly Rodeo student night. Here’s a taster (you know you want to). There are obvious benefits to this approach to equestrian sports in comparison to the living, breathing, **** producing, I’ll-buck-you-off-if-I-feel-like-it money pit reality of the four-legged variety.

Video Break

From wild horse to this in 100 days – check out the top ten freestyle performances at the Mustang Magic competition last month.