As the eventing winter turns to spring around Eventing Nation, our good friends at Point Two have released their spring event schedule where they will be hosting Point Two booths. At the booths you can check out and demo the vests in person, stock up on cannisters if you already have a vest, check out the new hybrid vest, as well as color swap your airjacket for just $100. I can't tell you how many people have a black Point Two and ask me to get them one that matches their XC colors--as if part of Point Two's EN sponsorship involves some sort of colored airjacket tree that grows in my back yard. But, now all of your color problems can be solved for $100. Point Two will have booths at the following events:
March 4-6 Sporting Days Farm, Aiken March 11-13 Red Hills, Tallahassee March 19-20 Three Day Ranch, Temecula, California March 31-April 3 Galway Downs, Temecula April 28-May 1 Rolex
As if that all isn't enough, Point Two will also be giving $200 prize vouchers to division winners. As always, thanks to you and Point Two for your continued support of Eventing Nation. Go eventing.
My good friend Rebecca Polan, who is a Virginia eventer now focusing on dressage with her former upper level horse, just sent me this quick email about Sharon White. Sharon, of course, broke her hip in a fall at Fair Hill last October and it's great to hear that she is back to competing. I spoke with Sharon a few weeks ago and she told me that her recovery is going well and she is excited for her doctors to let her return to eventing. Bur for now, it's all circles for Sharon:
I am down in sunny southern Florida (Wellington) getting my dressage on. I just arrived this past Friday and was helping my coach, Pati Pierucci, out at a show yesterday and today. I was maybe a little too excited when I looked up and saw none other than the amazing Sharon White pulling into the show grounds. A friendly and familiar face! I say amazing because even though we don't really know each other, she always recognizes me and says hello, she is really one of the friendliest professionals I've ever met.
I also say amazing because she is down here practicing her dressage while she waits for her body to heal enough to start jumping. She reminded me that she fractured her hip and pelvis just this past fall... I'm not sure how many horses she was riding but it was a bunch, and as far as I could tell she had memorized all of her tests! She told me that she's been riding with Linda Zang and just soaking it all up while she heals. I just love it when horse people aren't afraid to branch out into other horse worlds, for whatever reason. I wish more riders would give it a try.
Did you read and see the beautiful story on Zenyatta the other day by Samantha Clark? I loved it and was particularly drawn to the lovely pictures of Zenyatta in the Kentucky snow. I then started a twitter conversation with Samantha basically saying that Zenyatta had nothing on Makybe Diva (real mature I know). This descended quite quickly and Samantha being more mature (in personality) stopped it by refusing to enter the debate, mature yes but a little boring.
I got the inspiration to have a look at these two beautiful mares and write about them. Not as a comparison, me saying the Aussie mare was better and Samantha staunchly standing behind the Kentucky bred mare, but instead a celebration of these two mares and their amazing achievements.
So lets start with Makybe Diva.
First up I know that there will be some Poms (that is what Aussie's call people from England) who will already be jumping up and down and saying that The Diva was English. This is sort of true, she was conceived and born in the UK of Irish American descent. The Diva's Dam - Tugela (USA) 1995 - was purchased in foal to Desert King (IRL) 1994 by Tony Santic's bloodstock agent John Foote at Tattersalls in 1998, the filly was born in 1999.
After being passed in at auction, the filly and Tugela travelled to Australia, to join the Tony Santic team. The filly was name Makybe Diva by Tony Santic in honor of five of his staff from his commercial Tuna fishing operation - Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane, and Vanessa.
So begins the story of a legend. I do not use the name "legend" lightly when it comes to Makybe Diva, and yes I do have a soft spot for her, the picture below hangs in my office. I love the fact that while she is a legend she is also just a horse and her natural beauty shines.
So "Legend" why? The Diva won the Melbourne Cup, the greatest race in Australia, two miles (3200m), featuring some of the best stayers in the world. She didn't win it once, but three times back to back. The only horse to have ever done so and the only mare to have won it more than once.
All three runs were spectacular but her last in 2005 brings chills down my spine, after running most of the race in the pack, nearer to the back than the front they came round the final turn boxed in, seemingly nowhere to run. Glenn Boss her jockey put his foot to the floor and almost made the rest of the field look like it was standing still. The Diva was carrying top weight in the field with a massive 58kgs (128 pounds). I recall the outcry at the handicappers, never had a mare carried so much in the Cup, it didn't matter.
This is the video of the race, even if you don't want to watch the whole four minutes of the video, start at 2:30 and look for the distinctive red and white checked cap, blue shoulders and sleeves with the red and white checks below, they were 7th from last.
I will never forget watching that race live and knowing that she was going to win as she started emerging from the pack, it was stunning.
Makybe Diva won over $14 million Aussie on the track and was retired immediately after her 2005 Melbourne Cup win to stud. Her record over 1 1/2 miles or more is stunning with 10 starts, six wins, and one each of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th (Japan). In 2010 Makybe Diva was entered into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame as a Legend, joining only three others, legendary race horse Phar Lap, trainer Bart Cummings and Jockey Scobie Breasley.
So we come to the mare who has been stunning crowds in the USA for the last three years, Zenyatta. Zenyattais a different racer to The Diva. A sprinter with a massive frame 17.2 hands, compared to the compact 15.2 hands of The Diva.
Interestingly both mares have Roberto (USA-1969) as a great grandfather in their Maternal bloodline, this is the only link in four generations of bloodlines. Zenyatta is also of Irish American blood by Street Cry (IRL) out of Vertigineux (USA).
Zenyatta's record is stunning 19 wins from 20 starts, this has only been bettered by a select few, Man o' War (20 of 21), Native Dancer (21 of 22) and Kincsem (54 Undefeated). There is no doubt she deserves the title Queen Zenyatta. Kincsem is the only mare to have bettered The Queen's record and given that Kincsem is the most successful horse in the history of Horse Racing that is nothing to sneeze at.
Zenyatta also holds the record for winning a race three years straight, in fact she holds that record for three different handicaps, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (1 1/16 miles 1700m), Vanity Invitational (1 1/8 miles 1800m) and the Zenyatta Cup formerly the Lady's Secret Stakes (1 1/16 miles 1700m).
There is another record that Zenyatta shares, that being one of only three mares to have had 13 Group One wins, no mare has won more. She shares this title with Bayakoa an Argentinean mare who competed in the USA and the great Sunline.
I know that the Aussies and Kiwis who are reading this were wondering if I would get to Sunline. To be honest, you can't have a conversation about great mares without talking about Sunline. Sunline was bred in New Zealand by Desert Sun (GB) out of Songline (NZ). She has the same Northern Dancer - Danzig line as Makybe Diva as a Great Grandfather on the Sire Line.
Sunline had 48 Starts in total, 32 wins, 9 seconds and 3 thirds, that is 44 places from 48 starts. This record is also stunning by any account. She won over $11 million Australian during her career. She won New Zealand Horse of the Year four times and is the only horse to have ever won the Australian Horse of the Year three times. Sunline, like Zenyatta, specialised around the 1 mile races.
All three mares were retired to stud. Sunline produced four foals before she passed away in 2009 after battling laminitis for a long time. Makybe Diva has produced three foals to date and Zenyatta was sent to stud with Bernardini only this week, so fingers crossed a new Prince or Princess is on the way.
Three Queens of the track, each special in her own right, unique and amazing.
Three of Paul Tapner's horses miraculously survived with only scratches when a lorry drove into the back of his horsebox Sunday morning. Paul's horsebox had broken down on the side of the road on the way to a jumper show near Gloucestershire when a Polish lorry drove into the back of Paul's. Pauls' four-star horses, including Badminton champion Inonothing, were not on board, but three young horses were. As Paul described it for Horse and Hound:
"The horse on the rear got thrown out, span a circle in mid-air and landed splat on the road -- I don't know how it's still alive,"
"He then got up and trotted towards the oncoming traffic, but luckily everyone stopped and he was caught."
"My colours are red, so what with the horsebox and the horse's rugs being red, it looked like there was a lot of blood [on the horse] from where I was, but in fact it's just cuts and bruises,"
Description:Mirari, aka "Milly" is a beautiful palomino filly by Mirabeau, foaled June 25, 2006. She is currently 16.1h, big-bodied, and growing. She has been carefully started, is uncomplicated to ride, is steady w/t/c, and has started lateral work. Milly is balanced and athletic with lovely movement and will excel in the dressage ring. She has been trained with patience and exhibits wonderful ground manners. MIlly has also started jumping. She is confirmed and steady over cross rails and has started small verticals and simple gymnastic work. http://www.sunburststablesnc.com/for_sale_5.html
Good Morning Eventing Nation! John usually handles the Monday morning post but this week he has bestowed the honor to me. I wasn't at Pine Top over the weekend, but from what I've heard it was a good event. Although a few mishaps were showcased, such as Doug's water dismount, I think all the riders were relieved to have gotten the first proper event under their belts. Kim Severson won the OI-1 division aboard Wiley Post, a horse she told Samantha in an interview last week is aiming for the Pan-Ams. Canadian Jessica Phoenix topped the OI-2 division aboard her veteran Exponential. And it can't go without mentioning that our favorite Udonna jumped to a brilliant double clear round after all that EN Karma on Friday and Saturday. [Pine Top Results]
To catch up on the rest of the goings-on in the horse world, here's the news:
Catherine Haddad, a dressage rider currently abroad on the World Cup Tour, has written her latest blog entry about how the little nuisances of living and competing abroad can really add up quickly and start to affect performance. To produce a world class performance on the home turf is one thing, to produce that performance at a single international competition is another, but to produce that performance on unfamiliar territory time and time again as the World Cup Tour requires is infinitely more difficult. But as Catherine is realizing, it is all just part of the challenge. [COTH]
The University of Kentucky has reported an increase in the number of cases of bacterial placentitis they've seen in late gestation mares. Evidently this strain of placentitis is unique but serious, as it can cause aborted or still-birth pregnancies. [Horsetalk]
According to our good friend ESJ, the FEI has released a Risk Management Policy and Action Plan. You can view the actual PDF file here (PDF), but as it is wordy and slightly dull, ESJ's commentary is easier for all of us non-royals to understand . It sounds like he's disappointed with the plan as he says, "To me this is a policy statement, the words Action Plan have simply been tacked onto the end of the title." If there's one thing I do know about the FEI however, it's that they never show all their cards. One would hope a more substantive version of the action plan is 'in the works' from the FEI's corner, but I guess only time will tell.
But in some positive news about the FEI, they've recently appointed International O Dressage Judge Ghislain Fouarge as Dressage Judge General, a decision made to "ensure greater consistency and accuracy of judging at all levels of Dressage competition." The role of a Dressage Judge General is a new one, but according to Trond Asmyr, the FEI director of the discipline,felt it was a vital step to creating greater equality in judging. [Horsetalk]
Progress has been made in the Bureau of Land Management's protocol of Wild Horse treatment. According to 'Saving America's Mustangs', the organization that's been most prominent in the wild horse struggle, the BLM's Thursday press release contains a message of hope for the future and offers concrete changes within their wild horse program. Read the full story here.
The future of the Hackney breed could be at risk. To refresh your memory from your Pony Club days, Hackneys are those fine, typey looking show ponies that are often seen in Driving competitions or breed shows. According to Horse and Hound, The hackney is now hovering near the "critical" list of breeds. Evidently in the past three years, the number of breeding mares has fallen from 500 to 300. Claire Barber, head of the Rare Breed Survival Trust, thinks that part of the reason for the decline is simply the misperception that Hackneys are only suitable as driving ponies, and "half-crazed" ones at that, adding: "If they are well handled, they are no different from any other horse." It would be interesting to look at some of the statistics for Driving as a whole, to see if there were any correlations between the decline of this breed and possible rise of another.
Irish husband and wife duo of Patricia and Michael Ryan dominated at the Vale Sabroso Horse Trial in Portugal over the weekend with a victory and placings in both the 1-and 2 star divisions. Clayton Fredericks won the CIC2* and a Harley Davidson grand prize. The England and Ireland based riders like to venture down to Portugal for eventing in the spring because it is still not great weather in the northern climates. Consider Portugal England's Ocala (or Aiken) [Horse Sport Ireland]
Fran Jurga has a great report on equine anesthesia [TJR]
A rider from the Jumping Branch prelim unrecognized on Saturday was taken to the hospital after a fall at the bank complex. Fortunately both the horse is fine and so is the rider with just a few stitches.
On the Line has written a really great article recapping some of the big show jumping competitions over the past few weeks, specifically at both the Winter Equestrian Festival in the East, and HITS Thermal in the West.
I'm glad to say that the Horse Park is no longer covered in snow, but it is very wet, and looking rather how I feel - tired, anaemic, fed up with fighting the elements during a long, hard winter, coming on the back of the WEG.
Spring cannot come soon enough.
Of course, nothing goes
down at the Park with
out Mick Costello
knowing about it, & it wasn't long before he found us - dog, bikes, kids and all!
Sadly we didn't have time to check out the Home Improvement Show, because Mick told us there was a chance to win a ball if you could shoot a basket, (Harry was positive he could have done it!), and also free samples of barbecue!
We did bike around a bit, and saw the Head of the Lake, up close and personal, (it's deep right now!)
Also, the second fence on the cross country at WEG has moved up the hill a bit.
Derek di Grazia has just completed a visit, and I hope to catch up with him next time he's here to talk to him about his plans for his first Rolex.
By complete chance, we happened upon Indoor Polo, so stayed to watch for a while.
The Covered Arena (old Indoor) is used for Snowbird Dressage, Mounted Games, Indoor Polo and more during the winter. Knowing nothing about it, we found Shelby who explained the basics, thanks Shelby.
There were more grooms than riders, despite the fact that polo ponies seem to be amazingly adept at sharing handlers and will tie anywhere patiently, and the spectators seemed to be mainly friends and family.
There was a nice energy though, and if the kids hadn't been so impatient to get on their bikes, I would have loved to have stayed longer to watch. We did have a quick chat with Timothy though, whose 20 year old younger brother, Gates was playing while we talked so he was somewhat distracted. His father played, and his 12 year old sister currently rides hunter/jumpers in Florida but he's hoping to get her hooked on polo soon too.
It may not be Wellington, and polo at sunset, (Erin @sidelines got that gig, jammy beggar!) but according to the Lexington Convention and Visitor's Bureau we are lucky to see this here, and will enjoy our polo in the sun too soon enough,
"Bluegrass Note: The Lexington Polo Club plays its matches at the Kentucky Horse Park on most Sunday afternoons in summer -- a great excuse to take a picnic or to tailgate. In the winter, matches are played at the indoor arena, making Lexington one of the few places in the United States where you can watch indoor polo."
You can't forget you're in UK country!
Perhaps the best news of all though was the sight of these little flowers poking their heads up at the entrance to the Park.
Even though we're dealing with thunderstorms tonight, and you never know what you're going to get next here in Kentucky, I venture to say we may be over the worst, and I'm beginning to get quietly excited about Spring - Rolex, High Hopes, May Daze, hacking at Masterson, short sleeves, Keeneland and so much more.
Also, I nearly forgot. I was too embarrassed to take pictures, but there was a group of about four tourists out at the Park today taking their picture on the Bruce Davidson Statue - literally ON the statue. Taking it in turns to get on Eagle Lion behind Bruce and then taking each others photos. For some reason it made me a bit uncomfortable, but I'm not sure why. What do you think?
The schedule has been released for this week's round of Aiken training sessions. As usual, the training sessions will be held at Three Runs Plantation and auditing is open to the public for free. From Aiken, Mark will head to Red Hills March 10th. Also, as we have previously noted, Katie Prudent will be teaching the HP riders in Aiken March 29th and 30th. [via USEF Facebook page, Training Session Calendar]
Update: The March 8-9 California training sessions were canceled because all of the California horses are planning on to be at the Twin Rivers event and they will have Monday off and then light work Tuesday.
Wednesday March 2nd -- HP A and B Lists
8:00am Phillip - Fernhill Eagle 8:45 Phillip - Mighty Nice 9:30 Boyd - Neville Bardos 10:15 Boyd - Otis 11:00 Jennie -Cambalda or Walkabout 11:45 Lunch 12:15pm Allison -Arthur 1:00 Doug- Running Order 1:45 Will C - Twizzel 2:30 Will C - Nevada Bay 3:15 Kim - Paddy 4:00 Kim - Wiley Post 4:45 Laine -Anthony Patch
Thursday March 3rd
8:00am Allison - Arthur 8:45 Phillip - Fernhill Eagle 9:30 Phillip - Mighty Nice 10:15 Boyd - Neville Bardos 11:00 Boyd - Otis 1145 lunch 12:15pm Jennie - Cambalda or Walkabout 1:00 Doug - Running Order 13:45 Will C - Twizzel 2:30 Will C - Nevada Bay 3:15 Kim - Paddy 4:00 Kim - Wiley Post 4:45 Laine - Anthony Patch
Friday March 4th -- Developing Lists
8:00am Kristin Schmolze (Dev A) 8:45 Lynn Symansky (Dev B) 9:30 Arden Wildasin (Dev B) 10:15 Lizzie Snow (Dev B) 11:00 Kelly Pugh (Dev B) 11:45 Danielle Dichting (Dev B) 12:30pm Kate Samuels (Dev B)
Pictured: Udonna and Marilyn, Photocred: the amazing Kate Samuels, who is a Dveloping B List rider
After completing dressage and show jumping on Saturday, the Pine Top preliminary and intermediate competitors will head out on the cross-country today. An added advantage of running the cross-country on two separate days is that the first horse will start at 9am and the last horse will finish before 4pm--meaning that early morning and late afternoon shadows will not be as much of a factor. Rebecca Howard, Doug Payne, Mara Depuy (formerly Dean), Clark Montgomery, Arden Wildasin, and Arianna Almeida are all leading intermediate divisions going into the XC. The Intermediate-2 division is a duel at the top between two Canadian team mates--Rebecca and Jessica.
Jan Byyny and Why Not made a successful return to Pine Top on Saturday and were 4th after the dressage and show jumping. Will Faudree withdrew Pawlow after the dressage, and that was the plan all along.
Udonna show jumped clear and sits in 17th going into the XC. This will be Udonna's first intermediate XC course, so, as much as possible, the emphasis will be on getting a nice steady trip out of the enthusiastic mare--we all know she has the jump. The Udonna story is still on the Chronicle homepage from Friday. If you read it, you will realize that tracking down and discovering that kind of great story is why the Chronicle wins so many Pegasus awards.
In other news, my favorite text on Saturday came from Jon Holling: "I have a serious complaint about your recent post...I don't believe u even know what a chinchilla is." That's ridiculous Jon, everyone knows that chinchillas are small furry amphibious birds.
Speaking of amphibian birds, Annie mentioned this last week, but Willow Run Farm is hosting a jumping derby on St. Patricks Day (March 17th) in Ocala. There will be two levels--training and prelim with lots of cool prizes and food. For the three eventers out there who plan on being sober on St. Patrick's Day, it sounds like a fun time. [More Info]
That's all for now. Good luck to the Pine Top competitors and thanks to the volunteers for coming back for a second day of cross-country. Go eventing.
Leo and I drove down Old Frankfort Pike this afternoon, flanked by some of the most historical, impressive, and ostentatious horse farms in Fayette County.
Our destination: a farm where my friend works in Midway - more stunning scenery and jaw-dropping farms, and although it was a dull, blustery and downright chilly day, who cares?!
We saw lots of inquisitive, hairy yearlings:-
There are people who can look at a bunch of horses like this, and immediately pick out which ones will be fast, which ones won't, which ones might have problems, which ones will go long or short etc. It's about angles, confirmation, experience, and a certain kind of horsemanship. I just see sweet faces, furry bodies, gangly legs, something redeemable in all of them, I'd be a terrible pinhooker or bloodstock agent!
We also some very pregnant mares,
and of course a couple of adorable foals.
Thanks again for stopping by. Tomorrow, forecast thunderstorms permitting, we hope to go to the Horse Park and see what's happening there.