Abby Powell
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Abby Powell

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About Abby Powell

Abby Powell is a native of Northeastern Massachusetts who splits her time between commuting into Boston for work and caring for and riding her rescue Mustang x Arab mare, Maggie.

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Rolex Rookies No More: Holly Jacks-Smither Reflects on Her First Four-Star with More Inspiration

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

It’s only fitting that Holly Jacks-Smither’s first four-star mount is an off-the-track thoroughbred; OTTBs have been a way of life for Holly since a young age. She started breaking and galloping young horses for a trainer when she was 12 years old, met her husband Bruce Smither while galloping racehorses on the side, and now she’s brought one all the way from four-year-old to four-star.

Holly has known More Inspiration (Inspired Prospect X Gentle Buck) since he was a two-year-old on the track. When “Morris” retired from racing as a 4-year-old his trainer contracted Holly to restart him and help sell him. While they couldn’t find a buyer for Morris, Holly took a liking to the bay gelding while working with him and wanted to buy him herself, but couldn’t afford to at the time. Her grandfather ended up purchasing him for her for $2,000.

Though he hasn’t been the easiest horse to bring along, Morris has always been a promising talent with an enthusiastic personality. “I’ve never been bucked off a horse more than him,” Holly said. “Not maliciously — he’s just fresh. He leaps, cracks his back and squeals. He’s a pretty happy horse, and I like having a happy horse!”

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

While flatwork was never Morris’ strength, he was a very talented jumper. Due to his careful jumping style, more than one person has encouraged Holly to sell him as a pure show jumper. While bringing him up through the levels, Holly began to suspect he had upper-level potential and never gave up on him as an eventer despite the naysayers. Though they’ve had mixed results throughout their history, particularly at the two-star level, Holly stuck with him and they made their three-star debut together in early 2015.

That same year, the pair finished 12th at Jersey Fresh thereby qualifying for the Canadian Olympic team and a few months later Equestrian Canada extended a last-minute invite to Holly to compete for Canada at the FEI Nation’s Cup in Aachen. The short notice meant that she had to finance the trip herself, but Holly knew it was an experience she couldn’t pass up. Holly and Morris both came back to North America with a newfound confidence after having completed the toughest test of their careers thus far. “He’s really stepped up to the plate after the international experience,” Holly said of her mount.

With her first overseas competition under her belt, Holly declared her intentions to be considered for the Canadian Olympic team and structured her winter and early 2016 training and competition schedule around trying to achieve that goal. Back in the States, Holly and Morris rode their high from Aachen to finish fourth in the CIC3* Plantation Field at Plantation Field a month later.

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration at Aachen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

We actually saw Holly and Morris initially on the Rolex entry list last year, but the pair withdrew about a week ahead of time opting to route to Jersey Fresh CCI*** instead. “I didn’t want to go to Rolex just for the sake of going to go to Rolex or completing a four-star when the real goal was the Olympics,” said Holly, “and of course the team coach has a lot of say in what we do.”

Unfortunately, Holly took a spill in the main arena portion of the cross country course at Jersey Fresh. She and Morris were able to bounce back and finish 12th at the Bromont CCI*** a month later, but ultimately the pair was not selected to represent Canada in Rio.

Despite the initial disappointment, Holly didn’t let not making the team get her down for too long. She relished spending the remainder of the summer with her students in Ontario and over the winter she and Morris prepped to come back strong by training with Buck Davidson in Ocala.

They placed in the top five in the Advanced divisions at Richland Park and Plantation Field last year. Early this season they claimed top ten finishes in Advanced at Pine Top, Red Hills, and Chattahoochee Hill. This year on their way back to Ontario from Ocala, Holly decided they were ready to make a quick stop in Kentucky.

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Out of all the phases, Holly was most nervous for the first one. “Once dressage was done, I was like ‘OK, I can do this,’” she said. “For our first four-star test, I wanted it under 60 and we did that.”

Though the course was imposing, Holly was confident in her and Morris’ partnership and preparation as she looked ahead to cross country. “We’ve answered every question at some point in our career, just not all together,” she said, but she wasn’t expecting to run into an equipment issue that she’s never dealt with before.

After slipping her reins over the A element of the question at the first water complex, the Frog Pond, they slid through her fingers when she tried to gather them back up on her way to the B element. Without enough contact, Holly wasn’t able to guide Morris over the rest of the combination and the pair picked up penalties for crossing their tracks as they rerouted over the option.

Holly still had trouble gripping her reins throughout the Head of the Lake, but navigated it without issue and while galloping away was able to take off her gloves and stick them in her pocket, hoping bare hands would be better able to grip the reins, but it didn’t help. Holly guesses that she had somehow gotten grease on them.

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration into the Head of the Lake. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“If Morris was a strong horse we would have had to pull up. Thankfully he’s not so I figured as long as I could get enough contact to guide him and point him in the right direct we could keep going.”

“You kick yourself now for taking the option because you want to be competitive, but it’s our first four-star and he’s amazing and I didn’t want to make him do something he couldn’t do,” Holly said. “He came home sound and happy and this horse owes me nothing. He carried me around — I didn’t help him.”

Morris’ careful jumping came in handy in the final phase on a day when rails were falling left and right, keeping all of them in the cups but one and just barely not staying inside the time. Holly was thrilled with her horse, particularly after having tackled their longest cross country course to date the day before.

“I’ve never felt him get tired before, but when we got the final water I felt him start to fade a little. The fact that he came back the next day and performed so well and was all business was just amazing. It was definitely a confidence building weekend.”

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“I think he just gets better and better. Flat work will always be a bit of a struggle, but I’m excited for the future. He’ll be right up there with the top horses with a little more experience.”

When asked what’s next for her and Morris, Holly says she’s going to defer to Coach Buck Davidson, who was an invaluable mentor to have in her corner over the winter and throughout Rolex. “I can’t say enough good things about Buck,” said Holly. “He has a lot of faith in Morris and it was really good to work with someone who loves my horse as much as me.”

After a confidence building weekend, we’re sure to see more of Holly and More Inspiration. Even without the Olympics on their resume thus far we find Holly’s tenacity, faith in her horse, and their journey from track to four-star, well, inspiring.

Holly Jacks Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Lean back! Photo via Ingrid Klimke on Facebook.

If I were standing next to a drop higher than my head, expecting to ride it the next day, I don’t think I’d be smiling; but then again, I’m not Ingrid Klimke. To put it further into perspective (as if you need more proof of how big these fences are) she’s 5’8″ – that’s a pretty average human height (and 2″ taller than myself I might add). I think I’ll stick to Beginner Novice for the time being, thank you very much, but you can bet I’ll be glued to the Badminton live stream today! Watch live here.

Rides times for the North American contingent:

  • Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo: 11:30 a.m. BST/6:30 a.m. EST
  • Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot: 12:06 p.m. BST/7 a.m. EST
  • Katherine Coleman and Longwood: 1:26 p.m. BST/8:26 a.m. EST
  • Lynn Symansky and Donner: 1:58 p.m. BST/8:58 a.m. EST
  • Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless: 2:30 p.m. BST/9:30 a.m. EST
  • Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee: 2:46 p.m. BST/9:46 a.m. EST
  • Lauren Kieffer and Veronica: 4:22 p.m. BST/11:22 a.m. EST

#MMBHT Links: Website, Entries, Order of Go, Schedule, Live Scores, Course Preview, EN’s Coverage, Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

MCTA H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Results]

Heart of the Carolinas 3DE & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Penny Oaks H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

The Event at Skyline H.T. [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Badminton Horse Trials: Riders’ Superstitions and Secret weapons

Tracy Bowman and Jolie Wentworth of Kismet Farms Announce New Facility

Rolex Kentucky Proves Amazing Event for Black Country Saddles Team

‘It’s Bizarre’: New Dressage Test Divides Opinion at Badminton

Introducing Liverpools to Your Young Event Horse with Sharon White

Tricks of the Trade With Caroline Martin’s Groom Sally Robertson

USEF Eventing Show Jumping Course Advisor Program

Saturday Video:

How did Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless settle into the Badminton grounds prior to their dressage test? Plus a Badminton history lesson:

Monday News and Notes from Fleeceworks

Fourth place overall and Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott. Photo via Phillip Dutton Eventing on Facebook.

Well, what a weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted (and I actually wasn’t even at the event!) but, man, do I love the excitement of the Best Weekend All Year. We’ve talked a lot about Ze Terminator and Queen Roxy thus far, and for good reason, but let’s take a second here to also appreciate 18-year-old Mr. Medicott. This was the horse’s third competition since he sustained a tendon injury at Rolex 2014, but you’d never know it just judging by the way he ran this weekend! #Legend

#RK3DE Links: Website, ResultsEN’s Coverage,  EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Action:

Fresno County Horse Park HT: [Website] [Results]

University of New Hampshire Spring HT: [Website] [Results]

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring HT: [Website] [Results]

Monday News and Notes:

Four out of the five Rolex Rookies that left the start box on cross country day finished the course and each of them had an assortment of thoughts running through their heads afterward. [You Just Finished Your First Four-Star Cross-Country—How Does It Feel?]

After the final jog yesterday, Jimmy Wofford hosted the premier Champions Live! event featuring Phillip Dutton, Silva Martin, and Melanie Smith Taylor. Each imparted some words of wisdom and experience on attendees.  [Champions Live: Top Takeaways from Experts Phillip Dutton, Jimmy Wofford, Silva Martin and Melanie Smith Taylor]

It’s a big job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and year after year Derek di Grazia has created a challenging and educational cross country course for competitors. Hear what he has to say about creating four-star courses and what he anticipates as he looks ahead to designing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. [From RK3DE Champion to Course Designer: Derek di Grazia on Cross-Country]

Monday Video:

Relive the winning moment – I recommend just letting this play on repeat all day to help cure your post-Rolex blues:

Rolex at a Glance: Show Jumping Stats

We’ve just witnessed history, EN, as Michael Jung just became the first person ever to win the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event three times in a row and on the same horse. I’m not even mad he won again — he’s such such a likable guy who so clearly loves his horses. It gives me a good feeling!

Michael just squeaked out the win too, keeping all but one rail up over a course that challenged many to stay quick and straight. As we close out Rolex 2017, lets take one last look at the quick stats.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Final Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

 

And to sum it all up:

Go Eventing.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Rolex 2017 at a Glance: Cross Country Stats

Before we wrap up the weekend with the final phase today, let’s take a look back at some quick stats from yesterday’s cross country at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Though more riders made the time than in recent year’s past, Derek di Grazia’s technically challenging course saw fewer completions overall.

We’re thankful for an exciting day of sport; though some competitors walked away disappointed, everyone walked away healthy and unscathed. Take a glance at the summary of the results below and catch up on the full report here. The final horse inspection is at 8 a.m. EST.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Keep it locked on EN as we keep you up to date with the exciting conclusion!

Go Eventing.

Rolex 2017 at a Glance: Dressage Gear

Once again we’re taking a closer look at who wore what in the sandbox over the past two days. Though we’re not exactly tracking trends per se, it’s interesting to see that certain gear is more commonly or rarely used. Check out these statistics from dressage!

Go Eventing.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, Course Preview, EN Tailgate, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Angie Bartelt and Patrick Madore got engaged while walking the cross country course on Thursday! Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple! Photo courtesy of Carol Anne Parker.

The best day of the #bestweekendallyear is HERE y’all! If you’re catching the action in person, don’t forget to stop by EN’s 5th Annual Rolex Tailgate at tailgating spaces S240 and S241, near the jog strip and announcer’s tower overlooking the infield to hang with Chinch, enjoy some libations, and win some swag! In addition to food, freebies, and fun, we’ll have #TeamLeeLee stickers available for purchase with proceeds benefitting Lee Lee’s medical and rehabilitation costs.

Don’t forget to set aside a little of that money you’ve slated to spend at the trade fair to bid on some of the incredible items donated to the online auction to support Lee Lee. There is an absolutely stunning number of items to browse though and bid on.

Oh, and I would be remiss not to ask: have you downloaded the EN app yet? If not, seriously, what’s your excuse? It’s beautiful and can send you notifications the second a new post is up, so while you’re out walking around XC you can instantly get EN’s coverage right there on your iPhone or Android! [App for iOS] [App for Android]

Here’s wishing all the competitors safe and speedy rides today!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, Course Preview, EN TailgateEN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Action:

Fresno County Horse Park HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

University of New Hampshire Spring HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Saturday Links:

Rolex Weekend Guide from EquiRatings

Key Combinations On Course At Rolex Kentucky CCI****

Q&A: Veteran Rolex Three-Day Event Groom Emma Ford

Courtney Cooper: No Sleep Until Cross-Country

Q&A: Allison Springer on Arthur’s Retirement

The Anglo-Arab Sport Horse: Get to Know Lauren Kieffer’s Rolex Mount, Vermiculus

How much pressure is involved in designing Badminton’s famous cross-country course?

Help Eventer Jess Smart Find a Cure

Saturday Video:

Prep yourself for today’s action with a course preview from the designer himself:

Rolex 2017 at a Glance: Meet the Riders

We already took a closer look at the field of Rolex 2017 horses, now let’s break down the stats on their riders!

Keep it locked on EN for all your Rolex coverage! We’ll keep bringing you fun facts and lots more throughout the weekend. Is there a stat you’d like to see in a future edition of Rolex at a Glance? Let us know in the comments!

Go Eventing.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Rolex 2017 at a Glance: Meet the Horses

It’s that time again to bring you a more in-depth look at our 2017 Rolex Kentucky competitors. Does riding a bay horse mean you’ll be more likely to compete at Rolex someday? No! Is is still fun to see the stats? Yeah! We’ll start you off today with some quick facts about this year’s equine athletes.

Stay tuned for more throughout the competition!

Go Eventing.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Entries, EN’s Coverage, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Dangerous! Photo via Practical Horseman Magazine on Facebook. Dangerous! Photo via Practical Horseman Magazine on Facebook.

I hope everyone in Eventing Nation is ready for a thrilling next few weeks. This is one of the most exciting times of the year, I think. The obvious reason being that the Best Weekend All Year is just a short seven days away at this point (but who’s counting?) Then once it’s over and you’re having full on Rolex withdrawal, don’t worry – Badminton is just around the corner with your next four-star fix! So buckle up, EN, it’s time to go eventing!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Plantation Field April H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

River Glen Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Holly Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to Premiere “Champions Live!” Event

First-Person Perspectives from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover

Getting Ready for Rolex: By the Numbers – A Look at Conditioning and Prep-Work

‘Will only date four-star eventers’ — and other online dating profile blunders

What’s Behind Shipping Horses Overseas for Competition?

University of Kentucky Finishes First at FENCE Horse Trials

ICYMI: Allison Springer’s Top Mount Arthur Retires Due to Heart Condition

Saturday Video:

Can Micheal Jung and Fischerrocana FST make it three for three? We’ll find out soon enough! In the meantime, let’s take a look back at their foot-perfect XC run from last year:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Just a casual bareback and hack on a 4* eventer through the English countryside! Photo via Elisa Wallace on Facebook. Just a casual bareback and hack on a 4* eventer through the English countryside! Photo via Elisa Wallace on Facebook.

Yesterday my pony and I took our first XC jumps of the season and we were both pretty thrilled – it couldn’t have been a more perfect or beautiful day to get back out there after a long winter. She was raring to go too; I actually don’t think I can recall a time where she was stronger in the bridle than she was yesterday. Despite being a little strong and maybe not being at her most maneuverable, it was a pretty cool feeling to be able to tell just how much she was enjoying running and jumping outside again! You and me both, pony.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Fair Hill CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Ocala CCI & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers CCI, CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Saturday Links:

Fair Hill International Names Ann Haller Competition Manager

University of Alabama Earns First Collegiate Victory at Chattahoochee Hills

Nine things you need to know about this year’s Badminton cross-country course

Rescues Will Compete to Help Horses on ‘Help a Horse’ Day

Study seeks to identify priorities for future research into Cushing’s disease

Meet Four First-Timers at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

Olympic medallist says final farewell to top hat

Get Close & Personal with The Heels Down Magazine 5* Rolex Experience to Benefit Young Riders

Saturday Video:

What do you get when you cross a event horse with a chinchilla? Wonder no more:


Saturday Links from Tipperary

Nope, not exactly the best footing... Photo via TSAS Combined Test Committee. Nope, not exactly the best footing... Photo via TSAS Combined Test Committee.

Rain, rain, go away…because I’d really like to be riding somewhere besides the indoor today! My first event of the season, a two-phase hosted by the University of New Hampshire (UNH), was supposed to be this weekend, but it unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the condition of the grounds. It’s a bummer, but it’s definitely a wise call. We had so much rain and snowmelt over the past week and a half that the arenas are in no condition to be ridden on at the moment! Here’s hoping that ground dries up a bit before UNH’s recognized horse trials – the official start of the Area 1 season – in a couple weeks!

U.S. Weekend Action:

The Fork CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

CDCTA Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Pine Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Spring Bay H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Saturday Links:

New Cross-Country Course to be Debuted at Tryon International for the Fork Horse Trials

Befriending the Competition: How Top Riders Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends

Modifying Muscle Patterns to Build a Better Equine Athlete

Twenty Questions With British Eventer Emily King

Outcry over three-legged pony fitted with prosthetic limb

How to Teach a Horse to Cross Water

Building Courses And Moving Mountains At The Fork CIC***

Saturday Video:

Take a quick ride around the Training course at The Fork with Doug Payne and Mitchel:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Food trucks plus eventing? YES PLEASE. Photo by @sweetd67 on Instagram. Food trucks plus eventing? YES PLEASE. Photo by @sweetd67 on Instagram.

Twenty years ago today an April Fool’s Day blizzard dumped snow up the East Coast from Maryland to Maine. My region, Eastern Massachusetts, got the worst of it with a whopping 34 inches. I remember it well because my school district declared a very rare triple snow day! That storm was no joke (pun absolutely intended).

Today on April 1 it isn’t really looking very spring-like out my window, but I guess I should at least be grateful that there isn’t a full blown blizzard right now. The whole snow day thing is really great as a kid, but now I’m just itching for show season to start. I’m super jealous of everyone in areas whose season has already started — and I’m particularly envious of those at Galway Downs right now with that gorgeous California scenery, lovely California weather, and, oh, FOOD TRUCKS.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Morven Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]  [Live Scores]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Galway Downs CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Saturday Links:

Fun, focus and footwork: must-have cross-country riding advice from Lucinda Green

U.S. Athletes Share Their Superstitions Ahead of FEI World Cup™ Finals

‘I hope it makes him proud’: four-star rider takes on fundraiser in memory of fiancé

Springtime: Equestrian Expectation vs. Reality

Lessons with Silva Martin

Special Shirt, Girth Help Evaluate Horse, Human Interaction

Saturday Video:

Here’s a hearty dose of ‘Insanity in the Middle’ for you.  This drop known as the “Bridge” was an element on course at the CNC 1* in Mafra, Portugal last weekend.

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Lee Lee Jones and Evie Dutton cheer on Carolina International competitors from afar via livestream. #LeeLeeStrong. Photo via Phillip Dutton Eventing on Facebook. Lee Lee Jones and Evie Dutton cheer on Carolina International competitors from afar via livestream. #LeeLeeStrong. Photo via Phillip Dutton Eventing on Facebook.

It’s another busy day at Carolina International! The actions starts early as the first horse leaves the start box at 8:00 AM sharp for the Open Intermediate division, but for those of us not on the grounds we can catch the live stream of the CIC2* division starting at 10:00 AM EST, followed by the CIC3* division at 1:00 PM.  And as always, EN will be keeping you up-to-date with more in-depth coverage from the event. Keep it locked here!

Weekend Action:

Carolina International CIC and H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Stream] [Schedule] [Orders of Go] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Twitter] [EN’s Instagram]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T.: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

ICYMI: Carolina International CIC3* Cross Country Course Walk

6 reasons it’s okay to be a little bit nervous when you go eventing (you’re not alone)

Horsepeople At 15 And At 30

Sport horse science: Inside a high-tech equine lab

Saturday Video:

Here’s a different perspective on dressage! Good for checking geometry, no?

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Happy St. Patrick's  Day from Marley, Tim, and Senan Bourke! Photo via Bourke Eventing on Facebook.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Marley, Tim, and Senan Bourke! Photo via Bourke Eventing on Facebook.

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone and I still have yet to have a green beer, can you believe that? I did wear green though, albeit not on purpose — I just have a lot of green in my wardrobe, OK? It’s one of my favorite colors, so there’s a high probability on any given day that I’ll be wearing it. Green is only my second favorite color to blue, and bright royal blue is my cross country color. Yes, a single color. I have yet to find a way to satisfactorily incorporate both blue and green into my XC wardrobe (#eventerproblems), so if anyone has any ideas hit me up!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Pine Top Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Exmoor H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Stable View H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

MeadowCreek Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/RideTimes/Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

First 2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards Earned at Pine Top Farm

An Equestrian in the Weight Room

Study: Post-Exercise Snacks Benefit Horses

‘I’m glad I invested in safety equipment’: rider’s face trampled in gallops fall

Dealing with Dressage Test Anxiety

Saturday Video:

Speaking of Ireland, and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, check out this promo video for Tattersalls International Horse Trails & Country Fair 2017 coming up in just a few short months!

Saturday Links from Tipperary

'My Lucky Day', one of William Fox-Pitt's rides at Tweseldown earlier this week, seems to have gotten wind of this whole 'My Lucky Day', one of William Fox-Pitt's rides at Tweseldown earlier this week, seems to have gotten wind of this whole "Spring Forward" thing. Photo via Gary Horner on Facebook.

It’s nearly here – that magical time of the year when we start to get a little extra daylight at the tail end of the day. For equestrians like myself who do the majority of their riding in the evening, the beginning of Daylight Saving Time is basically a holiday. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead before you go to bed tonight! And if you aren’t lucky enough to be catching all the action at Red Hills International in person, don’t forget check out EN’s coverage right here.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Southern Pines H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Red Hills International CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop March II H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Australian Olympian Clayton Fredericks shining at Red Hills

Consider yourself an eventing geek? Put yourself to the test with Horse & Hound’s Mark Todd quiz

Top Tips for Helmet Care

19 Signs You’re an Incurable Eventing Nut

Kentucky Horse Park Looks Toward Correcting Financial Mismanagement After Audit

Calming a Nervous Horse with Lateral Movements

Saturday Video:

Get pumped for XC day with this montage of last year’s 3* water complex at Red Hills from RNS Videomedia:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Carrots from adoring fans! Photo via Charlotte Collier on Instagram. Carrots from adoring fans! Photo via Charlotte Collier on Instagram.

As soon as I flip the calendar from February to March, my brain immediately goes into horse show planning mode. During the winter I don’t dare let myself think too seriously about an upcoming show season schedule for fear that it will make the cold months feel that much longer. But once March rolls around I tell myself that it’s completely permissible to start marking up my calendar with every event that I think I might want to hit.

Up here in Area I I’ll still have to wait until the end of April for the recognized events to start, so I’ll have to wait a while longer still to actually leave the start box, but I do love putting pen to paper and scheming about the spring and summer months. It’s funny how just getting through February makes the upcoming season that much more tangible!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Full Gallop March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers Winter H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

USEA Intercollegiate Championship Returns to Virginia Horse Trials in May

Can Sport Horse and Racehorse Practice Be Ethical?

The Importance of Riding in a Stretching Position

Fearful of a Runway? Gallop to Confidence: Tips for Improving your Galloping Experience

Balancing the Horse: A Closer Look at Posture, Part I and Part II

Best of Blogs: Riding and the ‘R-Factor’

Saturday Video:

Take a ride around yesterday’s Intermediate XC course at Rocking Horse with Lainey Asker and Flagmount’s Spartan:

 

10 Questions with Selena O’Hanlon, Presented by Omega Alpha

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry. Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Elite eventer Selena O’Hanlon is an established upper-level competitor, having represented Canada at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games in years past.

She and her mother, Morag O’Hanlon, an accomplished eventer in her own right, operate O’Hanlon Eventing at Balsam Hall in Kingston, Ontario where the OHE team keeps a busy training, teaching, and boarding business running year-round. This time of year, however, Selena can be found getting a jump on the season at Sweet Dixie South, a premier base for eventers in Ocala, Florida.

Selena was on the cusp of competing at her second Olympics last year, this time with Foxwood High, a 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned by John and Judy Rumble, but a rollercoaster of a selection process ended with them ultimately not making the trip to Rio.

Now after a quiet fall season, Selena is getting back into the swing of things with Foxwood High as well as working on bringing along some younger prospects. She was very kind to take some time to catch up with EN and answer a few questions between her busy training schedule.

EN: What are your plans for Foxwood High (Woody) this year?

Selena: “We’ll do a few events this spring to get us ramped up for Rolex in April. We had a great start to the season finishing fifth in the Advanced combined test at Ocala with a clear jumping round. I knocked some rust off and hope to keep climbing the leaderboard.

“Then at Rocking Horse the following week Woody was a rockstar in the Advanced B division. We broke our breast plate clip where it attaches to girth on the first water. I had to reach down and grab it at the gallop then carry it in my right hand for fear of it hitting him in the eye. Every time we did a big drop I had to let it go and grab it again after which gave us some time faults. Looking forward to Red Hills next.”

EN: Do you currently have any up-and-coming young horses that you’re excited about?

Selena: “I have a 5-year-old old OTTB called Benny (AKA Plenty of Benny). He is a lovely gentle giant who loves to snuggle and gives excellent head cuddles. He is going to be my next super star!”

EN: After the complications surrounding the naming of the Canadian Olympic Team last year, how have you regrouped and moved forward after ultimately not making the trip to Rio?

Selena: “Woody’s owners, John and Judy Rumble, have been very understanding and supportive during that difficult time. This year his owners and I will make the decisions surrounding his program and what events he will run leading up to Rolex.”

Selena O'Hanlon and A First Romance before the fall at The Royal. Photo courtesy of Alec Thayer.

Selena O’Hanlon and A First Romance at The Royal. Photo courtesy of Alec Thayer.

EN: You’ve participated in the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair multiple times now. What’s the most challenging thing about that event? What’s the most fun thing about it?

Selena: “The challenge is competing so late at night, indoors with lots of lights and noise on a horse you don’t normally ride. The fun is seeing my fellow teammates and friends and having everyone coming out to cheer. And also the great food!”

EN: Your mom is quite an accomplished eventer herself and you two work together closely to operate O’Hanlon Eventing. What is one of the biggest lessons she’s taught you as an rider and trainer?

Selena: “To listen to each horse, ride with your mind, and that patience is the only way forward.”

EN: The weather in Ocala is pretty hard to beat, but what’s something you miss about Canada while you’re in down south over the winter?

Selena: “My mum! And I also miss working out at the Kingston Athletic Therapy Centre with a trainer and other top athletes who are generously sponsored by KATC and also being treated by their wonderful therapists/osteopaths.”

EN: During the off-season, what are some of your favorite things to fine-tune or work on to prep for the upcoming competition season?

Selena: “When riding in our indoor I like to focus on straightness using the mirrors. I also like to go back to the basics with gymnastics and foot work and take some pressure off the horses with smaller fences and No Stirrups November.”

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

EN: What’s your most memorable competition moment so far?

Selena: “I have two: one is winning the team silver medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the other is taking two horses, Bellaney Rock and Foxwood High, to Rolex in 2014.”

EN: If you could ride any famous event horse — past or present — what horse would you choose and why?

Selena: “Eagle Lion would be amazing since I knew him well and have looked after him for my long-time friend and coach Bruce Davidson. Eagle had muscles on his muscles; he was a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. He was brave and was the perfect size for excellent maneuverability, plus he was an easy keeper and a beautiful bay with kind eyes and a cheeky personality on occasion. I followed his career and had all his posters (signed no less by the godfather of eventing himself). A legend through and through!”

EN: Which Omega Alpha product is your favorite and why?

Selena: “I would say RegenerEQ because I have seen it make huge transformations in all different types of horses — all the way from my 5-year-old OTTB Rumshaker who needed to relax, bulk up, and recuperate after leaving the track, to Foxwood High who needs it to help him through long trips all over the world for various championships. It helps in so many ways with stress, ulcers, weight, muscle, tissue restoration, and even their coats improve.

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Tank tops and shorts while fence judging in February? Sign me up!  Photo via Pine Top Eventing on Facebook. Tank tops and shorts while fence judging in February? Sign me up! Photo via Pine Top Eventing on Facebook.

It seems that much of the East Coast has been getting spoiled with unseasonably warm weather over the past few days, and Thomson, Georgia, where this weekend’s biggest event at Pine Top Farm is taking place is no exception. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen already took home top honors in the CIC3*, but there’s still a weekend of fun ahead for the Prelim through Advanced divisions. Get out there and enjoy the weather, everyone!

If you’re in Ocala on Monday or Tuesday, auditors are welcome at the Canadian High Performance clinic with jumping genius George Morris and dressage master Christilot Boylen at Wentworth Farm. Top names like Jessica Phoenix, Selena O’Hanlon, Kyle Carter, Colleen Loach, Lesley Grant-Law, Lisa Marie Fergusson, Diana Burnett, Jessica Payne and Tik Maynard will be riding. The clinic runs 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. both days at 10690 NW 125th S., Reddick, FL 32686.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Pine Top Advanced CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Three Lakes February H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Angela Bowles on Novelle: The Most Unlikely Horse Of A Lifetime

4 Ways Equestrians Totally Jump the Gun on False Spring

How to stay focused on competition day — even when things go wrong

Celebrating The Sport At Historic Pine Top Farm

Miss anything from the USEA ICP/FEH/YEH symposium? Here’s the recap

Female Equestrians Needed for Study on Breast Health

Badminton’s new course builder reveals major changes

Saturday Video:

Flashback to Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights’ winning XC run at the inaugural Pine Top CIC3* last year:

Partners of the Park Help Eventing Thrive in Ocala

Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

If you’re lucky enough to have migrated down to Ocala, Florida for the winter then you’re likely familiar with the Florida Horse Park (FHP). The 500 acres in the Florida Greenway are home to various equestrian events year-round including four USEA-sanctioned events and a multitude of schooling shows and clinics.

While the headlining item each year for eventing-enthusiasts may be the Ocala International Three-Day Festival of Eventing, which hosts divisions up to CCI2* in addition to combined tests up to Advanced, this event and others at the park may not be possible today if it were not for the hard work and dedication of a self-described motley crew of equestrian enthusiasts who call themselves the Partners of the Park (POP).

While initially established in 1997, the FHP emerged onto the eventing scene in 2005 hosting its first horse trials in the fall of that year over a cross country course designed by David O’Connor. The park further established itself as a world-class venue in the spring of 2006 by holding its first international three-day event. But the initial prosperity of the park was cut short as the state of Florida reallocated its finances during the nationwide economic recession of the late 2000s .

The future of the park hung by a thread without the state funding it depended on and found itself in a $1 million debt by 2009. It seemed that the final nail in the coffin was delivered when the Horse Park license plate project was unexpectedly shot down at the final step before approval. The license plates were estimated to bring in $250,000 annually and the process had already cost $100,000 that the park couldn’t afford to lose.

Cross country jumps after some end-of-season freshening up. Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

Cross country jumps after some end-of-season freshening up. Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

In May of that year the Horse Park’s Board of Directors met to discuss the remaining 2009 season as well as the long-term future of the horse park. As a result of the financial difficulties that the park was experiencing, the Board was forced to lay off key FHP staff and discussed cancelling many of the events scheduled to take place at the park that year. The public was invited to attend that board meeting to offer their opinions on the future of the park and as luck would have it, several members of the community — Simone Cormier, Charlie Hicks and Jen Holling — who would end up changing the future of the park were present at that fateful meeting.

As the board deliberated cancelling an upcoming schooling three-phase which was part of a season-long series of schooling events, Simone, Charlie and Jen came up with a plan. They recognized the asset that schooling shows can be and realized that with the park’s current financial situation, what it desperately needed was money supporting its infrastructure.

With a little convincing, and the help of Lesli Cohen, the FHP volunteer coordinator at the time, and Damian Guthrie, local show jumper and FHP treasurer, they reached a deal with the Executive Director: The three of them would completely manage and run the schooling events. Half of the profits generated by the schooling shows would be given back to FHP management and the other half would be used at the trio’s discretion and funneled back into the park’s infrastructure wherever they determined it was needed the most. The Partners of the Park was born.

Simone, Charlie and Jen have been running the POP schooling events ever since and each of these three musketeers has a unique set of talents and backgrounds that they bring to the table. Simone is an industrial engineer by trade and her organization and planning experience gave her a leg up on the organization of events and acting as show secretary. Charlie is a former Chief of Police who is both great at people management and has a knack for cross country jump building.

Charlie and Simone are both Massachusetts transplants and longtime friends, and they met Jen at that momentous Board of Directors meeting. A three-star level eventer herself, Jen brings a plethora of equine experience and eventing know-how.

“We formed a friendship and got together and said, ‘What more can we do?’ That’s how we started POP,” said Charlie.

Charlie, Simone, Steve (former FHP Facilities Manager) and Jenn in 2010. Photo courtesy of Simone Cormier.

Charlie, Simone, Steve (former FHP Facilities Manager) and Jenn in 2010. Photo courtesy of Simone Cormier.

Charlie estimates that in the nearly eight years that the Partners have facilitated the schooling events they have contributed over $750,000 in cash and infrastructure to the park. Over the years they have kept fields mowed, purchased new equipment such as a water truck and ground aerators, repaired old jumps and built new ones, and paid for salaries when needed. Most recently they commissioned 19 new jumps built by Jay Hambly and Tommy Neneman and have a new water complex under construction.

While POP mainly features eventing, the FHP itself hosts a vast assortment of equine events and more throughout the year, all of which have benefitted in some way form the support that POP has generated. “It takes all the equestrians disciplines to make the venue successful,” said Charlie.

“We have dressage riders, eventers, and jumpers all coming together to use what the park has to offer. While our base clientele has always been eventers,” Jen said. “I see that our events have opened up the horse park to a larger community. With the growth of the park amenities alongside our own growing show clientele I see this trend continuing into the future.”

POP started out just by hosting a monthly three-phase, but has now grown to include additional schooling opportunities as well. A Saturday cross country schooling day now precedes each three-phase on Sunday, offering competitors the chance to familiarize themselves and their horses with the types of obstacles they might encounter beforehand. Additionally, at each three-phase one can ‘mix-and-match’ phases such that they can choose to compete in any one, two, or all three of the phases that day. Finally, from January to March on ‘Winter Wednesdays’ POP operates a jumper show and dressage fix-a-test clinics and opens up cross country schooling.

“We want everyone to come and have a great school so that they can go off the recognized shows and be safe and confident,” Simone said.

Though POP events mainly focus on the lower-levels, there is still something for everyone. Dressage and stadium can be ridden at a higher level and a few professionals even include the March or April schooling shows in their preparations for Rolex Kentucky. Throughout the year you may also be able to find various upper-level riders taking their young horses out for some low-key show mileage.

Schooling show entire fees buy brand new stadium rails! Photo via POP on Facebook.

Schooling show entire fees buy brand new stadium rails! Photo via POP on Facebook.

“We started POP as a short term solution for the horse park but in retrospect we actually solved a long term problem in the horse community,” said Jen. “We make available a facility that helps professionals economically school young horses and prepare their top partners and we allow amateurs to compete in an affordable and and educational atmosphere where we are here to help.”

“The wonderful thing about running schooling shows is that we have such a culture of eventers and equestrians — from the people just getting started to the people that have been representing different countries internationally,” Charlie added. “Everyone intermingles and comes together.”

The Partners have seen steady growth in the attendance at their events over the years, thanks in part to their hard work and dedication to keeping the events running and the awareness of them being spread by word of mouth. Additionally, Charlie has observed that with each year there seems to be more folks coming from out of state or up from Wellington: “This place is like magnet and its just growing. The land itself is very suitable for the equine industry.”

Even with the recent growth the area has seen, there’s still room to expand at the FHP. “If you’ve ever had the opportunity to step foot on the park and see the 500 acres there you know that there’s a lot that could be accomplished,” said Charlie. Recent growth in the greater Ocala area has benefitted the Horse Park as well, the new Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event has brought more riders and healthy competition to Marion County.

While it’s these three folks — Simone, Jen and Charlie — who form the organizational backbone at the heart of the Partners of the Park, there are many more boots-on-the-ground volunteers that make the events each week possible. “A lot of the volunteers working with us have been helping us out since the beginning and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” said Charlie. “It’s all folks interested in putting their shoulders together and seeing what we could do to make the park successful.”

Having now hosted the park’s schooling events for eight years, Simone, Jen and Charlie are ready to take a bit of a back seat. “At this point we would love to just maybe take a step back and be there for hands on help,” said Simone.

Charlie puts the finishing touches on a key-hole obstacle. Photo via POP on Facebook.

Charlie puts the finishing touches on a keyhole fence. Photo via POP on Facebook.

The trio has the organization and running of the events down to a science and can easily help the next generation of park facility staff learn the ropes, but they have yet to hand over the reins of the organizational responsibilities of POP due to the sometimes quick turnover of park facilities staff.

“The challenge has been to work with the park’s administration and get a pliable business plan to keep the place successful,” said Charlie, who now sits on the Board of Directors as Vice-Chair. “We have that relationship now and the direction is very positive.”

“This is the future. Schooling shows are where everybody starts off. These are the people that could be up at the top of the sport in another four or five years. If we can make it affordable and give them a good experience then they’re going to stick with it.”

From Pony Camp to Two-Star: Meet Zoe Crawford of the USEF Eventing 25 List

Earlier this week we met Cornelia Dorr, one of two first-timers named to the 2017 Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete Program. Today we meet the next rider, Zoe Crawford. Many thanks to JJ Sillman for sharing her photos of Zoe!

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

At the tender age of 1, Zoe Crawford’s mother remembers her little girl pitching a fit when it was time to get off a merry-go-round. “Of course I don’t remember that,” Zoe said, “but she says that was my first introduction to horses.” Something similar happened the next year on a pony ride at a local fair. “I kept wanting to go again and again.”

Horses have been a lifelong love for the now 21-year-old Zoe Crawford, whose passion has taken her all the way to the CCI2* level and being named to the 2017 USEF Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete program.

Zoe started taking riding lessons at the age of 6 and began eventing after high school. Living inside the city of Boston didn’t make eventing the most easily accessible equestrian discipline, but it’s fitting that Zoe’s plethora of other other equestrian experiences led her to eventing.

Her family found a barn just outside of the city in the Blue Hills area that she and her parents, who both also ride, could go for trail rides. “The ring would freeze over in the winter and there was no indoor, so I would spend the whole winter riding through the snowy hills,” Zoe recounted. “It was like a winter wonderland out there.”

Her family spent their summers at a cabin in a small town in New Hampshire, and Zoe attended camp at a nearby hunter/jumper barn run by Jenny Williams, whose brother, George Williams, is president of the USDF.

“Jenny was really incredible at making learning to ride fun,” Zoe said. “Although her barn mostly did hunter/jumper, she really stressed understanding dressage and being able to ride over all terrain.”

Zoe credits riding under Jenny’s instruction during those summers with influencing her love of cross country. “During camp we would set up little cross country courses that included stacks of old tires and really anything we could get our hands on,” she said. “When it would rain a lot we would pretend the big puddles in the parking lot was a water complex.”

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe mostly competed in the jumpers throughout high school in addition to being a member of Norfolk Hunt Pony Club, where she got her first taste of eventing thanks to Jeanie Clarke, a frequent instructor within the local chapter. A fellow Massachusetts native, Jeanie based her teaching/training business in the Metrowest region of the state before moving permanently to Florida in 2012.

“I knew that Jeanie was a great teacher and I really enjoyed her style. As a high school senior I applied to college but knew that I wanted to take a gap year before attending, so I asked if I could be a working student and come down to Florida with her. I spent the next year with her in Ocala working and competing, and I’ve been training with her ever since,” Zoe said.

“I think that I wanted to start eventing because I loved the thrill and fun of going out on trail rides, but I also enjoyed learning dressage because of how it helped my show jumping. It was really something that I had always wanted to do but because of location wasn’t able to.”

Working for Jeanie not only immersed Zoe in the world of eventing but helped her to develop as horsewoman as well. “Jeanie takes no shortcuts and gives the horses the best care possible; she has really shown me that all the little things that you do to make the horses happy in the barn really pays off,” Zoe said. “The stable always has a relaxed atmosphere that I think is really beneficial to the horses’ mindsets. I have really learned from her that you can’t make any shortcuts in horse management or training.”

Zoe has been partnered with her mount K.E.C. Zara, a now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, for nearly five years. She was imported by Cormac Kennedy, who ran the barn outside of Boston where Zoe took riding lessons. Zoe recalled visiting the mare while still in quarantine and had an instant connection without even taking her out of the stall: “As soon as I saw her, I just knew that she was my next horse!”

Zara is a mare with a big personality and isn’t afraid to let Zoe know what she likes and dislikes. Though she can get a bit hot at shows, the mare loves cross country. “She is a beast on cross country,” Zoe said. “Nothing fazes her. The harder the course the more she eats it up.” Indeed, the pair’s USEA record is completely clear of cross country jumping faults.

Zoe and Zara completed their first CIC* in the fall of 2015 before making the move up to Intermediate the following January. After two top 10 finishes at Intermediate, they followed up those performances with finishes just outside the top 10 in two spring CIC2* events, followed by their CCI2* debut in April at the Ocala Horse Properties International Three-Day Festival of Eventing. Their 2016 season culminated in a fourth-place individual finish at NAJYRC in the CICY2* as they represented Areas III and IV.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Having made the trip out to Colorado, Zoe knew it was time to look to the next step in her eventing career and decided to apply to the USEF Emerging Athlete program. “Making Eventing 25 was one of my goals after getting to NAJYRC,” she said. “I wanted to apply because I want to know what it is like to really train at the top level and learn what it takes to represent the USA.”

Zoe is excited to gain a gamut of knowledge during the training sessions with USEF Developing Coach Leslie Law. “Since I have not been at this level for very long I hope to really fine-tune some of our skills. In addition to the riding aspect, I hope to learn a lot about managing upper-level horses through the lectures. I would especially like to learn about sponsorships, owners and what goes into being a top professional in this sport,” Zoe said.

“Additionally, I do not know very many people my age in eventing. Going to NAJYRC this past summer was really fun because I got to meet so many people around my age, and I am really excited to meet more people through Eventing 25.”

Zoe ultimately has her eye on the four-star level and believes that Zara is the horse to take her there. “I think she has the talent, scope and attitude for it,” she said.

Zoe hopes to produce more young horses to the upper levels and dreams of overseas competition someday. “Of course I would love to represent the U.S. one day,” she said. “Competing overseas has always been a dream of mine, and I would love to be able to compete at any of the big events in Europe.”

Go Zoe! Go Eventing!

Talent Spotted! Meet Cornelia Dorr of the 2017 USEF Eventing 25 List

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Among the 2017 Eventing 25 Program selected riders, 18-year-old Cornelia Dorr is a bit of a rookie. She is one of two riders named to the list who have never taken part in the USEF Emerging Athlete Eventing programs before and the only one who has never completed a CIC2* or CCI2*. Cornelia was talent spotted into the program having just come off a stellar 2016 season.

“I applied knowing I didn’t meet the qualification of having completed a CCI2* that year, but that it was possible to be talent spotted,” she said. “I didn’t think there was really a high chance at all of me getting it and I was really surprised!”

Cornelia was bitten by the horse bug as a youngster. “I was always that little girl that only talked about horses,” she said.

Though at first when she started begging her parents for riding lessons, she and her family lived just outside of New York City without a good lesson barn available nearby. That all changed when they moved to Hamilton, Massachusetts, a town with a rich equestrian heritage.

Once settled in Hamilton, Cornelia began riding ponies at a local lesson barn and a few years later, at the age of 10, she began riding under the tutelage of Babette Lenna at Gathering Farm and her interest turned to eventing specifically. “I never wanted to be confined to riding in an arena all the time,” she said.

Growing up primarily in Massachusetts and later attending a boarding high school in Maryland has allowed Cornelia to already accumulate a breadth of competition experience up and down the East Coast. Spring and fall seasons have been spent riding and training with Sharon White at Last Frontier Farm; most summers she traveled back home to New England and continued her training with Babette; and winters were spent in Aiken with Babette while still keeping up with school through the use of an online tutor.

Cornelia currently has two competition horses, the first of which, Sir Patico MH (“Hugo”), a now 11-year-old Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding, was acquired nearly six years ago and has carried her from Beginner Novice all the way through Preliminary during her high school years and the pair moved up to Intermediate this past October.

“Hugo’s heart is amazingly big and he would do anything for me,” Cornelia said. “He naturally wants to please and I think that’s what makes him so talented in my eyes. I didn’t have the upper-levels in mind when I bought him, but he has just kept stepping up to the plate.”

Cornelia Dorr and Sir Patico MH. Photo by Joan Davis/ Flatlandsfoto.

Cornelia Dorr and Sir Patico MH. Photo by Joan Davis/ Flatlandsfoto.

2016 was a big year for Cornelia and Hugo: the pair tackled their first CCI1* at the Ocala Horse Properties International 3-Day Festival of Eventing and were later named to the Area I NAJYRC CH-J* team. Their individual third place finish overall helped Area I to clinch the team gold medal.

“Young Riders has been my big goal since I started high school and decided I really wanted to continue with eventing,” said Cornelia. “It was amazing and I was so proud of everyone!”

“It’s cool to be a part of something larger than yourself like being on a team. Also to be able to pack and plan for something like that — where we had to travel all the way out to Colorado — was a great experience in and of itself.”

Now having graduated high school, Cornelia is taking a gap year to work for Sharon full-time and plans to attend Gettysburg College in the fall.

“I dedicated this year to finding out if I wanted to pursue a career as a professional rider and I’m pretty certain at this point that I want to make this my life and be a successful event rider with a string of upper-level horses and people supporting me.”

Cornelia’s second mount is Louis M, a 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding previously ridden through the CIC3* level by Pia Münker of Germany, and imported last summer to help Cornelia develop as a competitor and take her to the next level.

As thrilling as Cornelia’s 2016 spring and summer was, the fall proved no less exciting or rewarding. In her first competition on Louis, the pair took the top spot at the GMHA Festival of Eventing August Horse Trials in the JYOP division and they finished out the season with two other wins at Preliminary, a 13th place finish in the CIC1* at Plantation field, and finally a win in the CCI1* at The Virginia Horse Trials in October.

Additionally, Cornelia moved up to Intermediate with Hugo finishing as the top placed Young Rider in the Open Intermediate divisions at both the Maryland Horse Trials and then the Virginia Horse Trials in October.

Both Hugo and Louis have traveled down to Ocala with Cornelia ahead of this week’s Eventing 25 training camp. Cornelia will ride Louis in the sessions with Eventing Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law and then stay an additional week taking lessons from Leslie while riding Hugo.

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Since Louis is still a fairly new ride for Cornelia, she’s hoping that their time in the developing athlete training camp will help to improve their connection.

“Louis is more trained than me, so he’s teaching me a lot,” she said. “He has a very specific canter that he works best out of and right now I can’t always find that, so I’m especially hoping that during the training camp I’ll continue to work on finding the canter that I need on him.”

“I’m also looking forward to making connections with all the other young riders who will be there and who are planning to be in the sport for a while. In Young Riders I made a lot of friendships that I think I’ll carry for the rest of my life, so I’m looking forward to meeting more new people.”

Having achieved her goal of making her Area’s NAJYRC team and successfully competing, Cornelia is now making a new set of goals and looking to the future. She is looking to take Louis Intermediate under Sharon’s guidance once she makes it down to Florida as well, and the plan is to do a CIC2* with both Hugo and Louis in the early spring to prepare for the Jersey Fresh CCI2* later in the season. Cornelia is hoping to return to NAJYRC again this year, this time as a CCI2* competitor and ideally she’d finish out the season with both horses in the CCI2* at Fair Hill International.

With the upper-levels solidly in mind for the future, she’s eager to absorb as much as possible during the Eventing 25 camp, throughout the rest of her gap year, and beyond.

“I’m looking forward to the learning curve during the training session because I’m the most inexperienced of the bunch,” Cornelia said. “I hope I’m going to come out of the program having learned a lot in the four days.”

“So far I have been lucky to have the support of my parents for helping me follow this dream, and Babette for raising me as a rider and horsewoman, and Sharon for continuing my education. They’ve all helped get me to where I am today.”

Go Cornelia! Go Eventing!

Area I Virtual Team Challenge Promotes Community and Volunteering

Area I ARP member and VTC participant Kate Rakowski at Groton House Farm HT 2016. Photo by Abby Powell. Area I ARP member and VTC participant Kate Rakowski at Groton House Farm HT 2016. Photo by Abby Powell.

This past season, members of Area I’s Adult Riders Program (ARP) enjoyed a new way to get competitive and stay active in the eventing community regardless of whether they actually rode in an event. It all started when Suzanne Adams, Area I’s ARP Coordinator, organized the inaugural Virtual Team Challenge (VTC).

The Virtual Team Challenge allowed ARP members to earn points for their team by entering, placing and volunteering at USEA sanctioned horse trials. Non-competing ARP members who were active volunteers became just as much of an asset to their teams as members who placed at the top of the leaderboard at an event.

Suzanne got the idea for the VTC from other USEA Areas, including IV and VI, both of which have hosted similar competitions in the past. Her main goal was to find a way to include all ARP members regardless of how often they competed or even if they competed at all.

VTC participant Beth Libby volunteers at Millbrook. Photo courtesy of Beth Libby.

VTC participant Beth Libby volunteers at Millbrook. Photo courtesy of Beth Libby.

“The VTC program was added because we had active ARP members who, at some point during the year, had to stop competing. I kept kicking ideas around to all who would listen. How do you have a program that included everyone: riders, folks who weren’t competing for whatever reason and parents of Young Riders who wanted ways to be involved?” Suzanne said.

“I loved the idea of a virtual competition and wanted to expand it to involve non-rider competitors, which added the whole concept of volunteerism.”

Participants were randomly split into teams of seven prior to the first Area I event of the season, and Suzanne introduced the teams to each other via email and laid out the rules. Entering and completing an event secured 20 points for a team and placing in a division added between five and 40 additional points from eighth through first place, respectively.

A maximum amount of 60 points for first place could be earned through competing. Similarly, volunteering for a half day earned 30 points, while a full day earned 60 points. Competing in an event outside of Area I earned half the point value of an event within the area.

VTC participants who volunteered posted selfies to the Facebook group in order to earn points for their teams. Photo courtesy of Paula Colt.

VTC participants who volunteered posted selfies to the Facebook group in order to earn points for their teams. Photo courtesy of Paula Colt.

“The points were designed to treat a day of volunteering equally with winning first place,” Suzanne said. “I saw VTCers whose horses were out for the season step up and really push themselves for those volunteer points.”

One such participant was Jennifer Bagley, a member of the winning team, who had to retire her mare from eventing last year. Jennifer has been a USEA member for two decades and was glad to be able to have a way to still participate in her sport even while currently being sidelined from competing.

“It really helped me stay connected to the sport and feel like I was contributing to a team during a season when I wasn’t able to show,” Jennifer said.

At the beginning of the season, Suzanne set up a private Facebook group for participants that she used to announce which teams had members competing or volunteering prior to every event. After each event she posted the results and the current standings. The Facebook group turned out to be an amazing tool for keeping the participants engaged throughout the entirety of the season.

“Teams cheered each other on, posted pictures and video, and even trash-talked in good humor,” Suzanne said. “Each time a list of competitors and proposed volunteers was posted for each event, some folks actually arranged to meet up with each other.”

VTC participants posted fun pictures and stayed engaged throughout the competition via the Facebook group. Photo courtesy of Amy Wolfe.

VTC participants posted fun pictures and stayed engaged throughout the competition via the Facebook group. Photo courtesy of Amy Wolfe.

“Suzanne did a fantastic job with the scoring system and keeping tabs on what everyone was doing,” Jennifer said. “It was always fun to see who was competing and volunteering each weekend and to see results afterward. We all cheered each other on and commiserated with those who had a tough show. It created a really fun and supportive community with some sassy talk and a lot of laughs!”

The mutual support, sense of community and good-natured heckling within the VTC generated an extra layer of fun and friendship throughout the season. Top placing teams will be receiving prizes at the upcoming Area I Annual Meeting in January, as well as some additional ribbons to add to their collection accumulated throughout the season.

“It was the proverbial horse race to the finish,” Suzanne said, “and it was such a rich year of building community, friendly rivalry and promoting volunteerism amongst teams.”