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Ashley Hebrank

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Dream Big. Start Now.

David speaks to the first group before they started jumping. Photo by Sarah Gonzalez. David speaks to the first group before they started jumping. Photo by Sarah Gonzalez.

 

We horse people can be a bit slow to embrace the online world sometimes, but some recently developed tools have made it easy to follow events from afar through online live scoring, online registration for events and now, Event Clinics, an avid EN supporter already, has developed a website (and corresponding phone app) to conveniently outline clinic and schooling happenings in the world of eventing.

Gone are the days of searching high and low for ways to be a true student of the sport. This handy tool offers perks for everyone from organizers to riders, auditors and clinicians. There’s finally an easy way to find great clinics all in one place which is helpful for those of us who spend endless hours in the barn and not in front of a computer searching a million different websites and social media accounts to find the best clinics.

The calendar on the website is presented in a simple, easy-to-follow format, listing the available clinics clearly, including all necessary information to register and pay online. No more check writing for clinics and schooling. Also, there is a user-friendly search feature and plenty of helpful information on the FAQ’s page. Contacting the geniuses behind the scenes is a snap, too, and they freely offer methods to contact them if you have burning questions or run into problems.  You can even sign up to receive a weekly email updates for upcoming events.

Organizers who utilize Event Clinics enjoy free postings, ease of online registrations, and an advanced payment gateway which facilitates credit card processing at no cost to the organizer, instructor or facility. Inviting a world-class instructor and hosting a successful clinic or schooling show is tireless work and often a labor of love of the sport. The organizers deserve medals, cocktails, chocolate, days at the spa and any tools that can help them keep their sanity during the grueling process. Event Clinics is it.

Riders and auditors will appreciate this product for its convenience and economic ease of use. A registration account is not required to use Event Clinics, but members are offered the option to take advantage of the express checkout option afforded by the auto-populating forms, the ability to store and attach various documents, such as liability releases and coggins, to forms at registration. Members are also able to make changes or cancellations online, which is great for those inopportune injuries our horses seem to find at the last minute.

Event Clinics is full of great ideas, but only if people know about it. I recently looked around the calendar to see what’s coming up this year and noticed that there are several opportunities in the Maryland area, but not much is listed elsewhere. I know there lots of clinics scheduled around the country, and I encourage everyone to go check out the website and add to the existing lineup of stellar instruction by some of the legends in our sport. Get out and clinic! Go Eventing!

 

Thoroughbreds of the Round Table

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry. Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

 

Eventing is indirectly impacted by the racing industry since many of our beloved equine partners are found through contacts at various race tracks around the country. The promotion of the OTTB is in full-force for good reason. The number of young Thoroughbreds who are successful in second careers as eventers is at an all-time high.

The Jockey Club, the North American Thoroughbred breed registry, was established in 1894 to improve breeding and racing in Thoroughbreds. Among others, the organization plays a key role in the development of safe training methods, medication regulation and improving breeding practices.

The sport of kings is amazing to watch, but the industry has been highly scrutinized for incidents involving injuries and subsequent deaths of horses at race tracks. Some have criticized the industry for not doing enough to help the horses. Well, The Jockey Club was hard at work this weekend with a round table discussion among many key players offering their opinions and voting on various issues facing the racing industry and Thoroughbreds in general.

Three of the most notable topics were regarding the pursuit of federal legislation for medication reformation laws, the requirement of microchips in order to register foals starting in 2017 and the recommendations by The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee.

Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear was in attendance at the conference and discussed Kentucky’s endorsements for reforms, and believes “our collective experiences over the last several decades have demonstrated that individual state racing commissions cannot get this job done,” he said. “The only way to achieve these changes is through federal legislation.”

H.R. 3084, a bill known as the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, was introduced last month by Representatives Andy Barr of Kentucky and Paul Tonko of New York. This legislation seeks to “improve the integrity and safety of the Thoroughbred horseracing by requiring a uniform anti-doping program to be developed and enforced by an independent Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority.”

Microchips are commonly used to identify dogs in the US, but come 2017 they will be required for the registration of Thoroughbreds through the Jockey Club to improve the efficiency and reliability of the identification process in North America. This practice is already active in several other countries and seeks to enhance identification and quality of the breed.

The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee also made two new recommendations at the conference regarding a centralized database for data collection during post-mortem exams of racing-related injuries, as well as a demonstration of fitness requirement for all Thoroughbreds featured on any official veterinarian’s lists regarding “soundness, illness, physical distress, infirmity or any other medical reasons.”

Additional information, including a transcript of the Round Table Conference, can be found on the Jockey Club website. It’s good to see steps being taken to ensure the health and welfare of North American Thoroughbreds. Go OTTB’s! Go Eventing!

Safety Standards for Your Noggin

Even cats need some noggin protection. Even cats need some noggin protection.

When was the last time you hit the ground? Did you land on your head? How did your noggin fair? How long have you had that helmet? Is your helmet up to safety standards?

These are all questions to consider when shopping for a new helmet. Thanks to various organizations, new programs have been enacted to help take care of our heads. The science behind modern headgear has improved greatly over time, and various safety standards have been adopted to demonstrate the efficacy, testing and intent of each safety standard. I’m here to simplify and explain those standards to help you mind your melon.

Figuring out which helmet is appropriate is tricky with all those letters, certifications and options, not to mention the variations of standards required for competitions outside the USA.

Reading the safety standards included in helmet descriptions got me thinking that we need an easier way to translate the information in one place. I’m all about tables and snappy alliterations to help me remember stuff, so I happily share this quick reference guide to headgear safety standards, in a nutshell.

Of course, our friends at Charles Owen , GPA, IRH, Troxel, Ovation, various tack shops and online retailers are on deck to provide additional information and tips on proper fitting. Here’s some information to get you started.

Helmet Standards3

Safety standards have been developed to indicate the levels and details of the testing and results and are an important factor when choosing a helmet. Although the most expensive helmet isn’t necessarily the safest, the cost of testing and credentials is reflected in the price.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult a trained professional to ensure proper fit. A helmet that doesn’t fit your head properly doesn’t protect your head as well as it could.

One quick tip to remember is that US helmets are rated using a pass/fail system. Those that “pass” are awarded the ASTM F1163 minimum rating. The test to award the minimum rating is conducted by the SEI.

Studies have shown that helmet technology today, even at minimum safety standards, offers a considerable amount of protection for your noggin. So if all else fails, chose the ASTM/SEI approved model that fits both your head and your budget.

A Ride Through the Archives

Creative Commons photo/Barta IV Creative Commons photo/Barta IV

I admit it: I have frequently demonstrated my infinite curiosity and eventing nerd-ness in numerous situations. I try to limit my ramblings to those who share similar interests and appreciate my propensity for studying our sport and random useful knowledge, but sometimes people ask too many questions and get more than they bargained for. I can’t help it. Thankfully, EN readers share my enthusiasm for such things.

During a recent online search for something totally unrelated, I quite innocently happened upon a great deal offering past Rolex VHS videos for $5. I realize that I’m probably one of the few remaining people left still rocking the antique 19-inch, big-backed, TV/VCR combo, but that worked to my advantage this time.

Naturally, as any dedicated eventing geek would, I ordered multiple videos and waited anxiously for the opportunity to have my very own Rolex marathon. I settled in and was surprised by how the events from 15 (or so) years ago seemed so dated; 1999 still feels like it was just a couple years ago to me.

I saw celebrity horses and riders complete their dressage test, run around the cross country course after completing miles of the other endurance phases, and show jump in the Rolex stadium that was on grass at the time. That’s right: That beautiful stadium arena at Kentucky Horse Park was just grass then. Many of the horses finished looking well-conditioned and full of running by the end of 14 miles and were still able to jump well on the final day. Dressage has come quite a long way, as well.

After my ride down memory lane, I pondered the changes in the sport and, more specifically, the characteristics of the modern event horse. I noted that all of the wonderful horses named to the 2015 Pan American Games were warmblood types and wondered what the breeding looked like in the historical data of the U.S. teams.

The majority of the horses competing in eventing throughout history have been Thoroughbreds. The change to the short format has created emphasis in dressage and show jumping abilities and eliminated the true endurance elements, therefore broadening the success of different types of horses.

I wanted to evaluate the specific statistics of former horse celebrities, and I had no idea that such useful information was so easily accessible until I found my way to the mecca of U.S. eventing information right on the USEA website.  It’s known as the Eventing USA News Archive and is funded thanks to the USEA Endowment Trust. The information available through a simple search is AMAZING.

I was able to compile a list of U.S. team horses and statistics with quick ease after logging in to my member account through the Online Services link. The possibilities are endless for this tool. Having access to this much information in one place is exhilarating for an eventing geek, so I wanted to share the wealth.

Studying trends of success is important for future world domination. It’s a proud time to be a USA equestrian. The U.S. teams are on fire following winning results at the Pan Am Games a couple of weeks ago as they brought the medals home. Go Team USA! Go Eventing! Go search the archives!

Blogger Contest Round One: Ashley Hebrank

We announced the six Blogger Contest finalists today, and now we’re bringing you each submission from Round 1 here on Bloggers Row. We will be posting all six entries over the next few days, so be sure to check them out and leave your feedback in the comments.

All entries will be reprinted without editing for fairness’ sake. Thanks again for your support and readership, EN! We are thrilled to have such quality entries yet again this year.

Keep Calm and Blog On

 

Ode to Eventing, Thanks to a Broken Leg

Lessons learned through Eventing are not exclusively relevant to sport. They carry over into other aspects of life until it’s a lifestyle. That’s right, it’s a lifestyle. Have you ever given yourself a pep talk and then noticed it sounds very similar to the one you give yourself before leaving the start box? You know, you’re sitting at your desk at work trying to solve a problem or envision your perfect presentation like “normal” people and suddenly, your pep talk triggers flashbacks to the last time you were out on course when it was raining and you REALLY had to ride to get home safely. Eventers are a special group for many reasons. We all seem to have many of the same character traits and ideas. We do whatever it takes to get the job done whether that’s on course, providing impeccable horse care, or overcoming struggles outside of horses.

So, what makes us so special? I’ve been pondering this very question a lot recently. That’s probably because I’ve been temporarily condemned to the sidelines recovering from a broken leg. I’m sure Boyd Martin and many others can empathize. People keep telling me to rest and stop trying to do so much.

Who has time to rest? I have a full-time job, a home, a dog and, of course, a horse to take care of. Until now, I’ve had little appreciation for the ability to complete simple tasks like grocery shopping, walking the dog, or managing my horse’s foot abscess on my own. At this point all tasks are carefully performed one-legged, and walking him from his stall is challenging because I depend on a walker to move around.

On the bright side, I have experienced my horse’s immense patience and kindness again. He just rolls his eyes and patiently takes one step at a time next to me during the slow journey to the wash stall.

Eventing is heavily scrutinized, but we know the truth as insiders of the sport. The significance truly lies in the relationships. Most notably, the unwavering relationships with our horses formed through years of diligent care, countless trot sets, early mornings, late nights, traveling, winning, losing, falling and, most importantly, getting back up. We experience true highs and lows in this sport. It’s brutal at times, but we’ve learned to keep riding and fighting for the betterment of our horses and ourselves–the ultimate in competitive spirit.

The relationships with horse friends are also imperative to coping with life. These are the people waiting for you at the barn with encouragement, cocktails, candy, and the willingness to pick you up off the ground or help out with various horse-related tasks when you’re physically unable or otherwise engaged (trapped at work). I met most of my closest friends through horses. We’ve spent significant time together enjoying horses and surviving the lows. Let’s be honest…horse friends are the only ones who understand the excitement and importance of finding the new and improved wheelbarrow and will bring you coffee in the middle of the night while you sit with your injured horse. Non-horsey people just don’t get it despite their efforts to identify with our plight.

The will to persevere was instilled in me by our sport, and I am forever grateful for that. In building and finding strength in relationships with the horses and horse friends, I have simultaneously built a better relationship with myself; one which has taught me to push myself to overcome whatever stands in the way of getting back in the saddle.