Chesna Klimek
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Chesna Klimek

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About Chesna Klimek

Bringing you eventing stories from the west coast! You can learn more about me on my blog at www.chesnaklimek.com or follow along on Twitter @ChesnaKlimek

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Aspen Farms: Marc Grandia and Indio BMW Take CIC2* Win + More

Aspen Farms CIC2* winners Marc Grandia and Indio BMW. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography. Aspen Farms CIC2* winners Marc Grandia and Indio BMW. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington hosted its first horse trials of the Area VII season this past weekend, June 10-12. Over 300 horses and riders competed in divisions from Beginner Novice to Intermediate, and for the second year in a row Aspen Farms offered CIC1* and CIC2* classes which attracted riders from Area VII, Canada and California.

CIC2*

Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and her Bavarian Warmblood, Airlington, took the early lead in the CIC2* on a dressage score of 41.6 and held their position Saturday after delivering a spotless stadium round. Tremaine Cooper’s cross-country course posed a challenging optimum time, and on Sunday Marc Grandia and the Beamer Syndicate LLC’s 8-year-old gelding, Indio BMW, claimed the win thanks to clear jumping efforts and just 3.6 time faults.

“My horse was really good,” said Marc, reflecting on Indio’s first attempt at the two star level. “His dressage performance wasn’t the best he could put in, but it was right up there. It was the best show jumping round he’s put in in a few years; he did very well over a difficult course. On cross-country it was tough to make time here. That’s been one of my biggest worries with him — whether or not he’s going to be able to gallop — and he did it. He was great! And what a venue to do it at.”

Marc and Indio are looking ahead to the two star at Rebecca Farm in July.

Emily and Airlington bumped down to third finishing on 52…

Emily Pestl and Airlington. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Emily Pestl and Airlington. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

…behind Mary Burke and her OTTB, Prince William, who finished second on 48.6.

Mary Burke and Prince William. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Mary Burke and Prince William. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Sara Mittleider and Gin & Juice finished fourth.

CIC1*

Maris Burns of Carnation, WA, claimed the CIC1* victory aboard Cooley Wick, a horse she purchased as a 3-year-old from Kim Severson.

“Overall the weekend went really, really well,” said Maris. “He was steady, consistent, and happy in the dressage ring. He show jumped really well. It was a tough show jumping course, so I was impressed with him. On cross-country the ground was great; the jumps are amazing. He ate it up; he’s getting the idea of leaving the box and attacking the fences.”

Maris Burns Cooley Wick. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Maris Burns Cooley Wick. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Young rider Patience O’Neal delivered a solid performance in the CIC1* to finish second aboard the gigantic 5-year-old Thoroughbred/Welsh Cob gelding, BC Huw, in his first one star.

“He’s always been a solid dressage horse: super balanced. It was his first time ever in a long court and he scored in the 40s; I was super proud of him,” Patience shared. “He’s never looked at anything on cross country. He trusts me and I trust him. Over the past year he has progressed so much. I was very excited about going double clear; I actually started crying after we finished. I am so happy with him.”

Patience ONeal and BC Huw. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Patience ONeal and BC Huw. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Sarah Haff and her own Thoroughbred, Defensive Player, finished third on their dressage score…

Sarah Haff and Defensive Player. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Sarah Haff and Defensive Player. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

 

…followed by Jessica Heidemann and her homebred Warmblood, Encore, in fourth.

Horse Trial Divisions 

In the Open Intermediate Kelsey Holmes made an impression, finishing first and second with her own horses Heart of Gold SE and NZB The Chosen One respectively.

Kelsey Holmes and Heart of Gold SE. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Kelsey Holmes and Heart of Gold SE. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Kelsey Holmes and NZB The Chosen One. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Kelsey Holmes and NZB The Chosen One. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer rounded out the top three.

Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer. Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography.

In Open Preliminary, Sarah Matuszewski and Saint Ignatius scored a 29.1 for the win, and in Open Preliminary B Attila Rajnai and Harry Houdini won on 26.8. Both pairs delivered clear jumping efforts, with just a bit of cross country time penalties on Sunday.

Sadly, Amy Evan‘s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Harrison, was euthanized after retiring from the cross-country phase in Open Preliminary B. Amy pulled Harrison up after landing a clean jumping effort at Fence 11, a brush jump on a downward incline. He was transported off the course and received immediate care from the veterinary team, who subsequently diagnosed a fracture on the right fore. Aspen Farms issued a statement on its website.

The Area VII eventing community extends condolences to the Evans family for the loss of this special horse and partner.

“He was a very special horse,” Amy told EN. “I have absolutely felt the love of the eventing community, especially in Area VII, during this time of grief. My coaches, my Vossenberg and Caber Farm family, and the Aspen Farm crew have been incredibly supportive.”
Amy Evans and Harrison. Photo courtesy of Amy Evans.

Amy Evans and Harrison. Photo courtesy of Amy Evans.

A positive aspect of the weekend included celebrating top finishers in all divisions during final award ceremonies and victory gallops. Thanks to Aspen Farms H.T.’s dedicated sponsors, over $25,000 of cash and prizes were awarded to top finishers, including cash payouts of $1,750 per class in the popular and highly competitive Zeit Capital lower level divisions.

CIC2* winner Marc Grandia. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

CIC2* winner Marc Grandia. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

CIC1* winner Maris Burns. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

CIC1* winner Maris Burns. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

Zeit Capital Novice winner Whitney Shapiro. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

Zeit Capital Novice winner Whitney Shapiro. Courtesy of Christina Gray.

As is often the case, many competitors praised the Elliotts, their crew and officials, and all the Area VII volunteers for their continued efforts to provide a top class show in the Pacific Northwest.

“Aspen Farms is an incredible event,” reflected Maris Burns. “Suzy and Jonathan Elliott and their team do an absolutely amazing job — it’s an honor to compete here.”

Aspen Farms will host its final horse trials, including their once-yearly Advanced division, Sept. 9-11. In addition, the September Aspen Farms Horse Trials will host the Area VII Championships for the first year of a three year tenure in Area VII.

[Website] [Facebook] [Final Results]

Aspen Farms Advanced Cross Country Course Preview

Fence 6AB. Photo by Chesna Klimek. Fence 6AB. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

The final qualifying division for the Adequan Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series kicks off this weekend at Aspen Farms Horse Trials in Yelm, Washington. Once again Tin Men Supply stepped forward to sponsor the Advanced division — the only of its kind in Washington state. The winner will take home $2,000 from Tin Men Supply and a host of other prizes.

Tremaine Cooper designed this year’s Advanced cross country track with 23 numbered questions over 3,800 meters with an optimum time of 6:40. Tremaine took advantage of Aspen Farms’ natural terrain to create unique questions over the turf. Spectators will surely enjoy watching the competitors jump through the Kerrits’ mound keyhole and several one-of-a-kind A/B combinations.

The show crew has taken extra care to prepare the footing this year. After an entire summer of record-breaking hot and dry weather conditions, many celebrated the arrival of recent rainstorms. The course has been aerated and topsoil and sand added in certain places to ensure ideal conditions for Saturday’s cross country competition.

Only four competitors will take on the Advanced division this year. Mary Burke will be looking to pilot her OTTB gelding, Prince William, to a successful finish in his first attempt at Advanced. They are fresh off their win in the Intermediate USEA Area VII Championship division at Caber Farm Horse Trials.

Karen O’Neal is no stranger to Aspen Farms’ Advanced track. This year she’s riding Barbara Flynn’s warmblood mare, Hollywood Diva, in the mare’s first Advanced. Hollywood Diva has had success at Intermediate this summer with both Karen and her daughter, Patience O’Neal.

Allison Sparks and Mystic Mojo join the field with confidence after a successful completion of their first CIC3* at Rebecca Farm in July. Rounding out the field will be Washington-based rider, Marc Grandia, aboard Team Rebecca LLC’s experienced gelding, Fernhill Eagle.

Over 300 competitors will vie for more than $24,000 in cash and prizes at Aspen Farms Horse Trials. The most competitive division is shaping up to be the Cornerstone Forest Products Intermediate, which offers $1,500 for the winner. The class attracted 20 starters, including many pairs experienced at the level.

Follow full show coverage on Aspen Farms Horse Trials’ Facebook page, and click here for ride times and results. Advanced dressage starts at 10:30 a.m. PST today. Keep scrolling to view a full photo gallery of Tremaine’s Advanced cross country course. Go Aspen Farms. Go Eventing!

Aspen Farms: Website, Ride Times, Live Scores, Facebook

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato Take Aspen Farms CIC2* Crown

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, CIC2* winners at Aspen Farms Horse Trials. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography. Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, CIC2* winners at Aspen Farms Horse Trials. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Blue skies, lush green backdrops, and temperatures in the 70s set the stage for a beautiful weekend of eventing at Aspen Farms Horse Trials in Yelm, Washington. Aspen Farms hosted more than 300 horses and riders in divisions from Beginner Novice through Intermediate as well as a CIC* and CIC2*.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato won the CIC2* on their dressage score of 43.7, making the courses designed by Tremaine Cooper look like walks in the park. This was their first competition since successfully completing Capato’s debut at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in April, and they’ll now look ahead to Rebecca Farm.

“I brought him here to Aspen just to get good confidence building after such a big, hard course,” Jordan said. “Today he put on a show. He felt phenomenal. Honestly he feels like a different horse since I was back east with him. I feel like he’s growing up. I think that six weeks with him was the best I could have done for him — solely focusing on him and giving him 110 percent of my attention.”

Nikki Ayers and Rubicon took second in the CIC2*. Photo by Jenn Hogan of Deco Pony.

Nikki Ayers and Rubicon took second in the CIC2*. Photo by Jenn Hogan of Deco Pony.

Only the top five pairs in a field of 11 completed Tremaine Cooper’s CIC2* cross-country course without jump penalties. Nikki Ayers of Vancouver, British Columbia, maintained her second place position from start to finish aboard Rubicon, an eye-catching Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Andree Stow. Mary Burke riding her own OTTB gelding, Prince William, finished third.

In the CIC*, no one could touch Kimmy Steinbuch aboard Spartacus D’L’Herbage, Ruth Bley’s imported Selle Francais gelding. Kimmy traveled more than 15 hours from the Bay Area with her husband and fellow competitor John Michael Durr to compete at Aspen Farms, and the long drive paid off.

Kimmy and Spartacus led by more than seven points after dressage, delivered a convincing clear show jumping round on Saturday, and acquired just a few cross-country time faults to finish first on Sunday on a final score of 46.7.

Kimmy Steinbuch and Spartacus D'L'Herbage led the CIC* from start to finish. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Kimmy Steinbuch and Spartacus D’L’Herbage led the CIC* from start to finish. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

“I really liked going through the trees (on course), “Kimmy said. “I’ve never been up here before. It felt like I was going really fast; obviously I wasn’t! Towards the end I started to get my flow; he was quite lovely toward the end of the course. Everything rode really well. I thought it was a great course.”

Unfortunately the weekend didn’t end so well for John Michael, who fell with his Rolex partner Esprit de la Danse on the CIC2* course after sitting in second place overnight. “Dani,” an 11-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare owned by Ruth Bley, was uninjured in the fall, but John Michael broke his collarbone and is currently waiting to have surgery.

Caroline Smith and her own Paint gelding, Lucas, were the only pair in the CIC* to jump double clear inside the time, securing them a second place finish on a score of 47.6. This was a comeback show for the pair, as both horse and rider missed out last season recovering from injuries. Caroline was all smiles at the end of the weekend.

“We finished on our dressage score; he was fantastic!” Caroline said. “The courses are fabulous. They are challenging, and they ride fantastically.”

Sara Sellmer and TF Kreisler won Open Intermediate. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Sara Sellmer and TF Kreisler won Open Intermediate. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Sara Sellmer from Kamloops, British Columbia, made a strong statement in Open Intermediate, taking first with TF Kreisler on 34.4 and fourth with Sloan McQuick on 46.3. Though Aspen Farms was the first attempt at Intermediate for both horses, they both finished on their dressage scores under Sara’s guidance. She had nothing but positive things to say about how the horses performed, especially TF Kreisler, also known as Brad.

“Brad’s a really good mover,” Sara said. “He’s rideable in dressage; the judges tend to like him. His jumping has come leaps and bounds. Honestly Brad’s strongest trait is that he’s got a heart like no other. He’s an extremely trustworthy, solid citizen.”

Sabrina Glaser and Rembrandt took the top spot in Open Preliminary on a 35.0, less than one point ahead of second place finishers Kathryn Nichwander and 360. In Preliminary Rider, Tosca Holmes Smith and Paddington moved up from seventh to win on their dressage score of 37.1.

Kim Liddell and Olivia's Choice won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Training. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Kim Liddell and Olivia’s Choice won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Training. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Back again this year were the Zeit Capital LLC Open Challenge classes offered at Training, Novice and Beginner Novice. These classes filled on the first day entries opened and boasted significant cash and prizes for the top finishers. This year’s Zeit Capital LLC Open Challenge winners included Kim Liddell and Olivia’s Choice at Training, Sara Mittleider and La Paz at Novice, and Todd Trewin and Hopeless Wanderer at Beginner Novice.

Sara Mittleider and La Paz won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Novice, including a $350 check and $500 gift certificate from Gallops Saddlery. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Sara Mittleider and La Paz won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Novice, including a $350 check and $500 gift certificate from Gallops Saddlery. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

For Kim, winning a competitive class was particularly exciting, given she’s only had Olivia’s Choice, a 5-year-old OTTB mare, since last March. “I just love her. She’s just really fun — a really good girl,” Kim said. The pair took home a $450 check from Zeit Capital LLC, a $500 Olson’s Tack gift certificate, Nupafeed products and a Gallops Saddlery customized leather halter.

Top finishers in every class received awards and prizes thanks to Aspen Farm’s dedicated sponsors. On Sunday more than $20,000 in cash and prizes were distributed to competitors.

Todd Trewin and Hopeless Wanderer won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Beginner Novice. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Todd Trewin and Hopeless Wanderer won the Zeit Capital LLC Open Beginner Novice. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Unfortunately, an accident on cross-country cast a shadow over the show on Sunday afternoon. As previously reported, Calvin, a Thoroughbred gelding competing in Training Rider his owner and rider Holly Severijn, fell and sustained an injury at fence 12 — a log fence after the second water complex.

AFHT crew, volunteers, and vet team responded immediately to provide care to the horse and rider, but Calvin was subsequently euthanized due to the severity of his injury. Area VII’s eventing community feels the weight of this loss.

Aspen Farms Horse Trials will return later this season, Sept. 4-6, with divisions from Beginner Novice through Advanced. Click here to view the final scores and here to follow Aspen Farms Horse Trials on Facebook. Keep scrolling to watch video footage from CIC2* and CIC* cross country. Go Eventing.

[Aspen Farms Final Scores]

Newsflash: Eventing Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

Photo by Jo Arlow Photography. Photo by Jo Arlow Photography.

Jenni got it right in her recent post about event safety: It is time to start asking the tough questions about our sport. And to start finding answers.

I know I’m not the only eventer out there who has concerns. But I also know that most of us aren’t as outspoken as Mr. Denny Emerson, who often writes about his concerns with contemporary eventing.

Maybe we stay silent because we are scared to step on toes, maybe because we don’t believe we have the credibility to have a worthwhile opinion, maybe because we lack solutions to the issues we see. But it’s time to talk and to act.

Let’s be clear on something: I love three-day eventing. But more than eventing; I love event horses and event riders. Currently in our sport I see things that worry me for the well-being of our equine and human competitors alike. Here’s an example:

The first coverage I caught from Burghley this year was a horrific video clip circulating social media of Neil Spratt (NZL) and Upleadon falling hard at fence 18b — an unforgiving white rail corner on a righthand turn.

Scenes like that make my heart hurt. But they also trigger a visceral response in my body.

I’ve survived a rotational fall. When I was 14 years old, my Haflinger pony and I flipped over a homemade cross-country jump. We approached the fence in a strong canter, he dropped a leg mid-air between two poles, the back pole held, and we somersaulted. Mercifully, I was riding bareback and flew clear of the scene, and my tough pony sustained nothing more than a few minor cuts.

But in the moment that I lay sprawled on the ground, not able to feel my legs, wondering if I was permantently paralyzed (I was not!) and watching my horse thrash upside down, I learned my lesson: don’t build stupid jumps; don’t jump stupid jumps.

Before Burghley, I watched the course walk with designer Captain Mark Phillips. I saw fence 18b and said: THAT is a stupid jump. I believe on the day it proved it was, even with a frangible pin. Horses had problems there, including falls. The rider above took a trip to the hospital.

A friend of mine, a longtime eventer, told me she’s glad Burghley didn’t have live streaming because she “didn’t want to see any horses get hurt or die.” And I can’t help but worry, do we now collectively accept that horses and riders are going to die in competition each and every season? I don’t want to. Even if this was the case in the past, it doesn’t have to be the case in the future.

When accidents, mistakes, injuries, or deaths occur, it’s an important opportunity to reflect on our sport: where it came from, what it is, and where it’s going. The riders/designers/organizers/owners/sponsors/spectators/volunteers — all of us — have the power to shape this sport.

So I’m confessing: I was disappointed by what I saw at Burghley this year. I don’t like watching good horses and good riders get into big trouble at Burghley, or any other competition. I admire riders like Andreas Dibowski who publicly acknowledge their concerns and take action to protect their horses.

More of us should voice our opinions. And act on our opinions. And question our opinions. Let’s not gloss over the bad news or write off our own power to make a difference. Let’s make sure our sport is what we want it to be.

Here are some ways you can enact positive change in our sport, if you want to:

  • Share your good ideas about cross-country safety with the USEA Cross-Country Safety Task Force here.
  • Blog or post on social media about your concerns and ideas.
  • Share your knowledge about safety with others and be a role model.
  • Conduct studies that may improve our sport or financially support others who do safety-oriented research.
  • Support the shows and course designers that you believe get it right; don’t support the ones you think don’t.
  • Get involved with eventing institutions and organizations as an employee, volunteer, or political figure and make changes from within.
  • Provide constructive criticism to show organizers and governing bodies; file formal complaints when necessary.
  • Have open conversations with other trainers and riders, especially when you see things that seem dangerous or violate the best interests of a horse or child.
  • Applaud, celebrate, and send business to the riders who demonstrate integrity and a commitment to horse welfare, safety, and sportsmanship.
  • If you’re a competing rider and you have safety concerns with a course, talk to your rider reps or the TD. If that fails, take the long route on course. Or withdraw.
  • Don’t build stupid jumps. Don’t jump stupid jumps.

It’s not constructive to merely point blame and spew negativity. But it’s also very dangerous to remain silent when we see things in our sport that we don’t like. I look forward to reading and hearing other eventers’ ideas for improving our sport. I believe we can make changes for the better.

Patrick Billes Wins the Bareback Puissance at Aspen Farms, Shirtless

Patrick Billes and the eventing stallion Rabenschwarz cleared 4'9 Patrick Billes and the eventing stallion Rabenschwarz cleared 4'9" for the win! Photo by Equestrian Culture Magazine.

On Saturday, September 6th, Aspen Farms Horse Trials hosted the first Bareback Puissance for eventers in Area VII as part of the evening entertainment. Eleven pairs entered the competition sans saddles to jump the orange Natural Migrations vertical starting at 3’3″ and moving up in height each round. As per the twisted rules laid out by organizer Laramie Maxwell, riders who had a rail or refusal got an optional second attempt if they took their shirts off.

In the end, four pairs attempted 4’9″ but only Patrick Billes and the Intermediate-level eventer Rabenschwarz successfully cleared for the win. For their efforts they took home $700 and the admiration of the enthusiastic crowd.

An impressive number of spectators turned out for the evening spectacle, and it didn’t disappoint. The horses ranged from pony-crosses to Quarter Horses to Warmbloods to Thoroughbreds and the eventers demonstrated grit, stickability, and a sense of humor.

Last minute entries Snap and Annabelle were crowd favorites, clearing 4'6"

Last-minute entrants Copper Field and Annabelle Geiser were crowd favorites as they bucked their way up to the approach, eventually clearing 4’6″. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Participants in the Bareback Puissance included:

  • Anna Collier on The Green Machine
  • Annabelle Geiser on Copper Field
  • Emily Pestl-Dimmit on Denver’s Shadow
  • Hailey Patno on Renegade Storm
  • Kelsy Smith on Huxley Heights
  • Laramie Maxwell on Hunterville
  • Lucy Pulfer on Kenai
  • Lauren Plog on DaVinci
  • Patrick Billes on Girlfriend BF
  • Patrick Billes on Rabenschwarz
  • Rachael Dart on CL Just Time

Stay crazy, Area VII.

 

Rebecca Buehler and Brighton Taste Victory at Aspen Farms

Rebeeca Buehler and Brighton at Aspen Farms Advanced. Photo courtesy of Chesna Klimek. Rebeeca Buehler and Brighton at Aspen Farms Advanced. Photo courtesy of Chesna Klimek.

Area VII had much to celebrate at Aspen Farms Horse Trials (AFHT) this past weekend: good company, perfect weather, exciting courses, and a big win for Rebecca Buehler and her self-made OTTB, Brighton, in the Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup $4,000 Tin Men Supply Advanced division.

Watching Rebecca and Brighton cruise around Tremaine Cooper’s undulating Advanced cross-country course, you’d never suspect they were coming off a rider fall at their first attempt at Advanced in July. They jumped clear with the fastest ride of the division, picking up just 4.8 time penalties and moving from third to second. They secured the win on Sunday with a clear stadium round inside the time; a repeat performance from the June AFHT, where they handily won Open Intermediate thanks to clear and quick jumping efforts.

Rebecca’s goal going into the competition was simple: complete. But Brighton seemed to have bigger plans, delivering strong performances in all three phases. “He’s kind of figured out this show thing, and decided that he’s special,” Rebecca says. “He’s always been a little insecure, but he’s getting a little bit of an ego, which for him is good; he isn’t spooking as much.”

It’s clear that their years together have resulted in the kind of partnership well-suited to the rigors of eventing. “We’ve come a long ways together, he’s one of my best friends,” says Buehler. “It’s easy to get going and be thinking about what’s next and forget that it’s your partner underneath you. I’ve learned to appreciate what he’s doing for me and enjoy every minute; you never know what could happen.” She and Brighton finished up the weekend with a cache of sponsored prizes, including $2,000 from Tin Men Supply, which Buehler says she’ll put towards a much-needed new car.

Advanced winners

Rebecca Buehler and Brighton, winners in the $4,000 Tin Men Supply Advanced. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Last year’s Pro Tour /Adequan Gold Cup Advanced winners, Jordan Linstedt and the Hanoverian gelding Revitavet Capato, delivered a 32.7 dressage test for the early lead, and held their position after cross-country. However, the final rail in show jumping and 5 time penalties dropped them behind Rebecca for second. “The spook has been the hardest thing with him; but he actually has been quite steady. He’s consistently been improving,” says Linstedt. Last minute entries Anna Collier and her own OTTB, Gleaming Road, delivered two clear jump rounds to finish third on 50.6.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, second in Tin Men Supply Advanced. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, second in the Tin Men Supply Advanced. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Top performances by OTTBs continued when Mary Burke rode her 12-year-old OTTB, Prince William, to a win in the $3,000 Cornerstone Forest Products Open Intermediate. “We’ve been building his confidence this year with each show,” says Mary. “He’s done remarkably well in really learning the process of cross-country and really getting rideable. I’m pleased with his progress.”

After coming off the win this weekend they plan to put their prize money toward the tw0-star at Woodside. Area VII young rider Cadence Michel riding The Rock finished second in Intermediate, followed by Jeanine Allred and Snap Decision II in third.

As always, AFHT delivers many highlights for competitors and spectators alike, such as classes from Beginner Novice through Advanced, an evening Bareback Puissance exhibition, and the CanAm Team Challenge sponsored by Area VII Adult Riders. The CanAm Team Challenge is a longstanding Area VII tradition in which American and Canadian riders represent their nation in mounted and unmounted competition.

Team USA won Intermediate and Training; Team Canada won the Prelim and Novice. Canada also went home with the coveted golden boot after winning the unmounted games portion of the Challenge–cartwheels and all.

Mary Burke and Prince William (right) won Open Intermediate and were on the winning Team USA of the Intermediate CanAm Team Challenge. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Mary Burke and Prince William (right) won Open Intermediate and represented Team USA on the winning Intermediate CanAm Challenge Team. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

With over 300 horses and riders competing throughout the weekend, the lower levels also showcased talent and fun. Honorable mention goes to one of the most consistent competitors in Area VII: Karen O’Neal. She won the Open Training division on Kelly McKimmy’s Mateo, and placed first and second in Training Horse with Kathryn Daniel’s Calibrae LTD and Linda Weeks’ Lucky, respectively. Karen and Calibrae LTD finished on a 19.5, the lowest score of the entire competition.

AFHT just gets better and better every year, and competitors sing their praises for the show experience that Jonathan and Suzy Elliott provide in Area VII. It’s hard to imagine that when the Elliotts bought the land in 2005, the property was almost entirely wooded. They built the facilities from scratch, expanding a little each year.

Now they offer one of the best show experiences in the west, with waitlists that fill as soon as entries open. “We try to organize everything from a rider’s perspective,” says owner/organizer Jonathan. “We put a lot into sponsors and awards. If you’re successful on the weekend, then you’re rewarded for it.

This was AFHT’s second year hosting the Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup qualifier. “I’ve been super pleased. The weather has been amazing, and the courses rode great,” says Jonathan. “It’s great that we have [the Tour] up here in the Northwest; it’s special to get it here.” He credits AFHT’s dedicated volunteers and crew for helping to put on such a successful show.

Aspen Farms Horse Trials [Website] [Final Results] [AFHT on Facebook] #AFHT

Aspen Farms Horse Trials Advanced Preview and Coursewalk

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, winners of last year's Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup Advanced at Aspen Farms Horse Trials. Photo by Chesna Klimek. Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, winners of last year's Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup Advanced at Aspen Farms Horse Trials. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Though the Pacific Northwest sky is uncharacteristically cloud-free, there’s no mistaking Aspen Farms when you hear the Seahawks game blaring over the show loudspeaker or discover the signature Ice Horse cooler/jump stocked with fresh beverages on course.

This weekend Aspen Farms Horse Trials (AFHT) in Yelm, WA will once again host the Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup Tin Men Supply $4,000 Advanced division. With just six starters in the Advanced this year, many are looking to Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato for a repeat win. However, all of the pairs entered have demonstrated success at Aspen Farms and elsewhere:

  • Allison and Mystic Mojo – This pair is hot off three big second place finishes: second in the Area VII Intermediate Championships, second at their first-ever Advanced at Rebecca Farm in July, and second in the Open Intermediate at AFHT in June. This strong cross-country pair will be looking to turn red into blue this weekend.
  • Emily Pestl-Dimmitt and Airlington – In what was their first attempt at Advanced, this duo finished fourth in last year’s AFHT Tin Men Supply Advanced division. This past winter they participated in the Developing Rider/Under 25 training sessions with David O’Connor.
  • Jil Walton and Dee Dee Chaser – This pair finished third in the inagural Advanced division at AFHT in 2012. They have competed consistently at Intermediate and Advanced since then and recently completed their first CIC3* at Rebecca Farm.
  • Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato – These two convincingly won the Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup Tin Men Supply Advanced in 2013. This past July they finished third in the CIC3* at Rebecca Farm.
  • Karen O’Neal and Markus – This pair won AFHT Open Intermediate in 2013 and have successfully completed Advanced. This season Markus finished second in the CH-J* at NAJYRC with Karen’s daughter, Patience.
  • Rebecca Buehler and Brighton – This owner/rider trained OTTB won the AFHT Open Intermediate division this past June. This will be their second-ever attempt at the Advanced level after an unsuccessful cross-country trip at their first attempt at Advanced at Rebecca Farm in July.

After completing dressage Advanced Test B on Friday, the Advanced competitors will take on Tremaine Cooper’s cross-country course (see the gallery below). This year the course features 26 numbered questions over 3,990 meters with an optimum time of 7:00.

The weather forecast is excellent with dry footing; the crew is hard at work poking holes in the turf to make sure surfaces aren’t too hard on game day. The grass course includes hills as well as hay fields for galloping loops.

Given the late afternoon cross-country start times, shade from the tall fir trees will also be an element on the course. With a small field of competitors, most spectators will want to watch the Kerrits complex at fences 11AB and 12, as that is the first serious question on course. Outside of Advanced, AFHT’s Intermediate and Prelim divisions and lower-level amateur classes boast high turnout, promising an exciting competition for all.

Aspen Farms Horse Trials: [Website] [Ride Times] [AFHT on Facebook] #AFHT

Aimee Witherspoon: Worth The Wait Celebrates His Retirement

On Sunday, August 24th, Caber Farm Horse Trials hosted a retirement ceremony for Area VII's Intermediate-level eventer, Worth The Wait. Having completed 48 events with his adult amateur rider, Aimee Witherspoon, this Holsteiner gelding is a shining example of why amateur horses are so loved in our sport. Aimee wrote the following tribute to honor him.

Worth The Wait during his retirement ceremony alongside Aimee Witherspoon and her two daughters. Photo by Maggie Rikard. Worth The Wait during his retirement ceremony alongside Aimee Witherspoon and her two daughters. Photo by Maggie Rikard.

From Aimee:

I would like to thank my coach, John Camlin, and my friends and family for all the support they have given me in keeping this horse going and achieving far more than I ever dreamed. There were times when I would be walking a cross-country course and start wondering if I would survive. John always patiently told me, “If you just ride the way you have been trained, your horse will take care of the rest. You have a horse who takes care of you.”

Now, here’s the story of Worth The Wait:

I first encountered my horse in 2005 at my trainer’s barn. I was in the process of selling my fourth horse who had failed to enjoy eventing. I had dropped by to tell her I was thinking about changing careers to some other kind of riding, when she said, “I have just the horse for you.” I said, “What’s wrong with him?” She said, “He bucks people off and he flunked his flexions so he isn’t really sellable. But a friend got the buck out of him so he will be fine.” She also told me this six-year-old horse was really special and would be a great horse. My thought was, “What would possess me, an old lady, to buy a bucking, lame horse?” But it was love at first sight.

Worth the Wait at Aspen

Aimee Witherspoon and Worth The Wait competing at Aspen Farms. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

That was August 2005, and I rode him at Caber Farm at the Novice level for his first event. He literally cantered the cross-country fences without picking up his feet. He hit more than a few show jumping fences. I wasn’t sure what I had, but I was so glad he did all three phases without objecting I thought he might be a good back-up horse. I turned him out that fall and let him be a free roaming pasture horse.

During that time, I figured out he had back pain and discomfort under the saddle area, hence the buck. The back pain also explained the flunked flexion tests. I also learned he was a well-bred Holsteiner and that he had had OCD surgery on both stifles as a nine-month-old colt.

The following year in 2006, we did a couple of clinics and I decided to move up to Training level. He started jumping instead of cantering fences and we developed a solid partnership. He went on to be Training Horse of the Year in Area VII.

He let me know that he had requirements under no uncertain terms. He needed 24/7 turnout or he got cranky and stiff. He wanted a pasture buddy as he loves a friend. I was not allowed to hit him harder than he deserved, or I would eat dirt. He also trained me that I had to mount in two-point as he never lost his memory of the poor saddle fit.

Worth the Wait ceremony

Worth The Wait during his retirement ceremony at Caber Farm. Photo by Maggie Rikard.

What I got in return far exceeded my expectations of what a horse and companion could do for you. He would do anything I asked and he would do it carefully. He took care of both of us so we didn’t get hurt. He never refused to try, even when I asked things he didn’t want to do. Rather than fearing cross-country jumps, he respected them and always looked carefully and jumped with confidence.

He would patiently try to do what I asked in dressage, even though I had no idea what I was doing. His most common comments by the judges were “Lovely horse” and “Horse tries very hard.” I guess that summarizes dressage for a horse that barely fits in the ring!

In 2007, we did more Training competitions followed by Prelims. I knew by that time I had the horse of a lifetime. I was worried I might break him with conditioning required for the Preliminary level, but we both knew that he was well past the Training level. We went on to do a CCI* in Montana. By the end of 2008, we were ranked fifth in the nation in the Master Adult Amatuers. Now what was next?

The next year I decided to try Intermediate. I never dreamed of getting to that level. That was the level where pros had trouble, and I was far from a pro. But now Prelim was easy for both of us and I was caught waving at friends on my Prelim cross-country rounds, so it was time to move up.

We competed Intermediate at 3 Day Ranch in California, which looked doable in the pictures. Little did I know the place was full of steep hills. This was the event where I realized what my horse would do for me. There was a triple bank drop with a chevron on a three stride angle at the bottom.

I got to the bottom of the three drops with one stirrup and no rein contact so I just looked at the triple brushed chevron and he jumped it for me. It was truly amazing to see and ride this hugely talented horse. He just loved his cross-country job!

Aimee Witherspoon and Worth the Wait

Aimee Witherspoon and Worth The Wait after their final competition together. Photo by Maggie Rikard.

In 2012 I was offered a considerable sum to sell him. I thought about it and then I asked how could I sell my best friend?! He cost me nearly nothing and gave me so much! He deserved to stay in his plush pasture with his happy lifestyle.

He has since competed at Intermediate for six years with occasional Prelims. This January we even drove the 7,000 mile round trip to Ocala, Florida for the winter. He showed up those east coast horses by winning the Preliminary Rider division at the Ocala 3 Day Horse Trials.

For his size–17.2 hands and 1,500 pounds–it is just amazing that he has stayed sound all these years with no injuries even though he was competing at one of the highest levels of eventing. For a horse that flunked his flexions as a six-year-old and had bilateral OCD surgery, it is truly remarkable.

He is a well known fixture in the stabling area as he always has his stall door open since he doesn’t easily fit in the puny 10 foot stall. He also is well known for attending the adult rider parties and hanging out with his head on my shoulder while we drink wine.

He has become quite a character in the stabling and well known for his antics to get attention including his famous neck roll to beg cookies from strangers. He earned the barn name Marshmallow from Lou because he thinks he is a pocket pet and really likes people. He thinks he should be at the party in the chair not in this dumb puck stall.

I was working on a client’s horse once many years ago and I was telling her about my special horse and she told me this wise piece of advice, “If you are lucky enough to have a Horse of a Lifetime come into your life enjoy every minute and cherish him. Other future horses may not measure up and shouldn’t be compared, so just be thankful that you were lucky enough to have this special horse come into your life.”

Worth the Wait retiring

Aimee and Worth The Wait celebrating their partnership together. Photo by Maggie Rikard.

So out of the blue I found a rejected horse that became my horse of a lifetime and my best friend. He will always be honored and cared for in return for all he has done for me. I am so happy, grateful and very lucky that I get to keep him and be a part of his life.

I have been asked why retire a going horse? There is really nothing wrong with him other than old age like me. He is stiffer when we start out and slower to warm up. He doesn’t have quite as much punch in his jumps but with his amazing scope he still makes it look easy.

I know in my heart he would keep jumping those massive jumps for me even if he was hurting, but he deserves better than that. I always promised him that if I could retire him sound I would and the time has come. With 15 years of age, 10 years of eventing and 48 events, he has more than paid his dues, even though I still love every ride I get to have on him.

Now he gets to be the world’s best trail horse, doing occasional clinics and camps to show off his stuff and avoiding the dreaded D (dressage). Mostly, he gets to be a lounge lizard and chase his good buddy, the colt, around the field which he so richly deserves.

I ask you to honor this horse and honor all the horses who try so hard for adult amateurs riders so they can compete in this sport. We may not always give them the best ride but they do their best to take care of us.

Area VII Championships at Caber Farm Horse Trials

Caber Farm Horse Trials. Photo by Anni Grandia. Caber Farm Horse Trials. Photo by Anni Grandia.

Last weekend Area VII contested their 2014 Championships at Caber Farms Horse Trials in Onalaska, WA with divisions from Beginner Novice to Intermediate. This year’s Area VII champions included Rebecca Buehler and Brighton at Intermediate, Anna Collier and The Green Machine at Prelim, Karen O’Neal and Mateo at Training, Kelsey Horn and Aelsie Pea at Novice, and Megan Toth and Razzo at Beg. Novice. To qualify for the championship classes competitors had to have finished in the top five at their level within the past year.

Daniela Taylor

Daniela Taylor and Riley, winner of a Novice Jr./YR B, with Assistant Young Rider coach Brooke Phillips.

Area VII competitors couldn’t be happier with the clear weather; the event had a cheerful and fun feel throughout the weekend. On Saturday night the Area VII adult riders hosted a luau and first-annual Trainer Limbo Challenge, much to the delight of competitors camping on-site. Many competitors reported that the horse trials ran smoothly and expressed their appreciation to owner/organizer John Camlin and his crew.

Anni Grandia competed in the Intermediate Championship and won the Open Beg. Novice division on Yankee Bay. “Caber Farm is one of my favorite events of the season,” says Anni. “The event has a family, fun feel with forward riding courses. John Camlin and his crew do a fantastic job of prepping the grounds and the courses are always tough but forward riding and fair. I personally love the old-school feel of the venue, the courses and the jumps.

Riders that ride forward and accurate were rewarded all the way down to Beg. Novice. Another fun element to the courses is that the Beg. Novice and Novice tracks had mini Prelim and Intermediate fences on them: Novice had a beginning coffin, they both had jumps before and after the water, plus true brush fences. What better way to prep your horses and riders to move up?”

Anni Grandia

Anni Grandia and Chaos in the Open Intermediate Championship class. Photo by Lea Wilson.

The next show on the Area VII calendar is Aspen Farms Horse Trials in Yelm, WA, which hosts the final qualifying event in the Pro Tour / Adequan Gold Cup series before the American Eventing Championships in late September. Go Area VII!

Show jumping morning. Photo by Devin Robel.

Caber Farm Horse Trials, show jumping morning. Photo by Devin Robel.

Caber Farm Horse Trials: [Website] [Final Results]

Caber Farm Horse Trials August 22-24, 2014 results from StartBox Scoring.

Caber Farm Horse Trials August 22-24, 2014 results from StartBox Scoring.

How Low Can You Go? Area VII Adult Riders Limbo On

Highlight, a very patient OTTB, lets trainer Devin Robel practice her limbo skills for next year's Area VII Trainer Limbo Challenge. Photo by Terri Niles. Highlight, a very patient OTTB, lets trainer Devin Robel practice her limbo skills for next year's Area VII Trainer Limbo Challenge. Photo by Terri Niles.

If you need proof that Area VII is a pretty awesome place to be an adult rider eventer, then just take a look at the fun from the Adult Rider Luau last Saturday night at Caber Farm Horse Trials in Onalaska, WA.

“The Luau is a yearly event sponsored by the adult riders. Everyone is invited to meet us and see what we are about,” explains event organizer Terri Niles. “This is our third year doing it and it gets better every year. I’m from Hawaii and am the luau coordinator. This year was our first year with the Trainer Limbo Challenge and it was very well attended. Next year will surpass this year’s participation as the trainers that didn’t compete have already committed to participate due to the overwhelming response!”

Jessica Heidemann Limbo

Trainer Jessica Heidemann of Cain Lake Stables isn’t used to going UNDER the fence in the first annual Area VII Trainer Limbo Challenge. Photo by Terri Niles.

The bravest (and bendiest) of Area VII trainers volunteered to take part in the hotly contested Trainer Limbo Challenge. First place went to trainer Stephanie Parker of Bend, OR who stepped in to snag the trophy from second place finisher Devin Robel. Jessica Heidemann and Karen O’Neal were close behind. Throughout the evening many Area VII eventers stopped by to try their skills at the limbo bar or laugh at others’ attempts.

Stephanie Parker was the Trainer Limbo Challenge champion. Photo by Terri Niles.

Stephanie Parker was the Trainer Limbo Challenge champion. Photo by Terri Niles.

According to Devin, “We trainers aren’t so flexible! I held the record for a while at 3’7, and was even handed the trophy. Stephanie Parker swooped in, and we battled it out, but she beat me at 3’5. My knees hurt the next day, and both Jessica and Karen’s backs were sore. My student’s son, Nani, won it overall at 2’4. Insane. He’s about 5’10 tall; you’d have to see it to believe it.”

Nothing more fitting than a tropical luau amidst the horse trailers. Photo by Terri Niles.

Nothing more fitting than a tropical luau amidst the horse trailers at Caber Farm Horse Trials. Photo by Terri Niles.

Party participants enjoyed delicious Hawaiian food including Kahlua pork and Teriyaki chicken. And of course Pina Coladas and Mai Tais were flowing well into the night. The luau was made possible by adult rider volunteers and added extra flair and fun to the weekend’s eventing competition.

Bartender Jim

Bartender Jim at the Area VII Luau. Photo by Terri Niles.

Remember folks: what happens in Area VII, stays in Area VII. (Except when we publish it on EN).

Spiral Fracture Not the Finish for Chad and Lauren Boriotti

Lauren Boriotti and Chad's return to eventing at the Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials after his recovery from serious injury. Photo by Action Taken Photography / Tim O'Neal. Lauren Boriotti and Chad's return to eventing at the Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials after his recovery from serious injury. Photo by Action Taken Photography / Tim O'Neal.

It’s any eventer’s nightmare: you go to the barn and discover that your competition horse has pulled up lame in his paddock. What at first is believed to be a simple hoof abscess is later diagnosed as a spiral fracture of the pastern bone. The consulting surgeon says your horse only has a 50/50 chance of a successful surgery.

This is the reality Area VII eventer Lauren Boriotti faced in 2011 when her New Zealand Thoroughbred cross, Chad, fractured his left hind pastern. Lauren imported Chad, a Prelim level eventer, from New Zealand five years prior with the help of Amy Tryon.

Lauren remembers she and her parents “were amazed when Amy called and said she found a potential horse for me. Amy said she jumped Chad in New Zealand and the jumps were set higher and higher until they were at the top of the standards, and he kept taking them by storm.” Lauren loved Chad from the get go, especially his fun, friendly personality. But after his unexpected injury, she faced difficult decisions.

Chad at the WSU hospital. Photo by Lauren Boriotti.

Chad at the Washington State University vet hospital. Photo by Lauren Boriotti.

“The first communication from a vet was that we would likely need to put Chad down,” recalls Lauren. “My mom had the idea to get a second opinion. I was completely devastated at the thought of putting him down, and we sent the x-rays to WSU Veterinary Hospital where Dr. Chad Marsh (funny name coincidence) said he could likely fix this, but he may be a pasture horse for life.”

Chad X-ray

Chad’s x-ray after his successful surgery.

Despite the CT machine not working before the operation, the surgery was a success and Chad’s fracture was a clean break with no damage to the tendons. “It was a LONG process for recovery,” shares Lauren. “We had quite a few lows in the rehab period, such as the EHV-1 breaking out while he was at the hospital, and he was quarantined there for about a month after he was supposed to come home. Once home, I had to walk him everyday for 15-45 minutes for about 6 months, and that transitioned into walking from saddle which transitioned to trotting for 5 to 10 minutes and so on.”

All in all, Chad’s rehab took about a year and a half. Lauren credits Chad’s return to health to the tremendous support they received from others during the recovery process. “Everyone loves Chad, and they helped me hand walk him, monitor him in his first stages of turnout, everything. I could not have done it without them.”

Amy Tryon, Lauren’s trainer, was supportive all along, even giving the pair 20 minute walk-only lessons when they started riding again to keep Chad interested. But the most support she got was from her parents, reflects Lauren: “This is obviously an expensive route to take, but they trusted my opinion in saving him, and supported me each step of the way, even motivating me when I started to feel down about the injury. I really couldn’t have done it without them. Each step of the way we didn’t know if he would make it to the next level; I just took it as it came.”

Chad and Lauren at Young Riders Horse Trials Benefit earlier this month. Photo by Action Taken Photography / Tim O'Neal.

Chad and Lauren competing Novice earlier this month. Photo by Action Taken Photography / Tim O’Neal.

This August Lauren and Chad made a big comeback to competition, successfully competing Novice at Young Riders Benefit Horse Trials in Centralia, WA. “He went from pasture horse to trail horse to dressage horse and now he is an eventer again, which none of us thought would EVER happen. I feel so incredibly blessed,” reports Lauren. “Chad did not bat his eye at one jump, he felt stronger than ever, and jumped every jump about a foot higher than he needed to. He was energetic, strong and had his ears pricked to every single fence.”

Throughout Chad’s recovery process, Lauren has been able to focus on positives. “This injury has given Chad and I the opportunity to try new things and focus on our weakest point (dressage),” she says. “Since his injury, I have gone to dressage-only shows and trainers, embraced trail riding, taught my boyfriend to ride on him (even jump!) and more. As hard as this injury has been, these last few years I’ve had so much fun really getting to work with Chad and try new experiences.”

Lauren and Chad

Lauren’s advice to other riders who chose to rehabilitate a serious injury: “You need to decide whether you can accept whether you can go through this process and lose your horse in surgery or lose your horse to pasture life. I decided with the support of my parents, that I would be happy with a pasture horse. Do not give up. It is easy to lose patience and not look at what is happening in the moment. Try to look at it in the big picture.

“Your horse might not be able to be an upper level eventer anymore, but they can still be strong in another way, and they may even make it back to what you never thought you’d be able to do again. It’s hard not to get discouraged, but take each day as it comes, and put one foot in-front of the either. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, I recommend taking a second opinion if you are in the same situation with the advice to put down your horse and realize how lucky you are and how thankful you are to have that horse. I didn’t fully realize what Chad was, and how important he was to me, until he was almost gone. Every single day it is a blessing to have him.”

Anni Grandia: Area VII Young Rider Benefit Showcases Hard Work

Last weekend, Area VII hosted the Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials in Centralia, Wash. This year the horse trials ran in a two-day format, offering Starter divisions through Preliminary, including team competitions. Anni Grandia has been involved with organizing this event for 10 years and recapped the weekend's competition for EN readers.

Jen Johnson and Flash Player, first in Novice Sr. A. Photo by Dave Grimmer. Jen Johnson and Flash Player, first in Novice Sr. A. Photo by Dave Grimmer.

From Anni:

How many young riders does it take to run a horse trials? Honestly, after 10 years of organizing the Area VII Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials, I still couldn’t tell you! This last weekend, we ran the 30th annual Area VII Young Riders Benefit Horse Trials at Lincoln Creek in Centralia, Wash.

For the first 25 years of the event, it was held at Donida Farm in Auburn, Wash. Five years ago, we made a change and moved the event to the lovely hay fields of Lincoln Creek. With this came more options for the cross-country courses, including some of the best footing in Area VII, but also less infrastructure (i.e. sand rings, reliable running water, things like that).

Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer, first in Jr./YR Prelim. Photo by Dave Grimmer.

Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer, first in Jr./YR Prelim. Photo by Dave Grimmer.

It has certainly been a learning curve, but this past event was the first time I really felt like we nailed the event. The courses were open, inviting and fun; we have solved the water issue; stadium and dressage rode well on grass; and we changed the event down to a two-day format, which helped starter numbers.

In some ways I feel like we have taken a step back in time to the older days of eventing: all phases on grass, water that is not entirely safe to drink, no cell service and a true group of volunteers that pitch in to make the event happen. That is also what makes our event so unique; it is the only event in the country run by young riders and their families and is the only event that helps fundraise for the Young Rider program.

This year’s horse trials sported many changes. We cut the format to two days, increased starter numbers by 40 horses, ran schooling dressage tests and show jump rounds on Friday, had new courses designed by Marc Grandia under Adri Doyal, ran a Starter division and offered free appetizers (which were amazing!) instead of our catered dinner in conjunction with our auction. The new courses ran well, and some new jumps are already in the works for next year.

The show crew is 90 percent young riders. Other than the safety coordinator, secretary, course controller, course builders and officials, every volunteer was a young rider or competitor that had a little extra time to jump judge. We have an amazing group of young riders that all pitch in and come together to make this happen.

They spend the week prior out at the event site, decorating, staking, prepping and flagging the course; setting the dressage arena; and moving stadium fences around. Not only is it a fun, laid-back venue and event, but it is really amazing to see these young riders come together and bust their tails to get the event ready to roll. Many also compete over the weekend, so they are doing six things at once all the time.

Those young riders whose horses are getting a vacation after Rebecca Farm come down to just volunteer. I love the fact that we can give back to Area VII in providing a quality, fun, laid-back event with move-up courses mid-season; teach these young riders what it takes to provide these events for them; raise some money for the program; and show the area that these young riders really want to make things happen.

ot Hamilton and Cabrio, winners of the Open Prelim division. Photo by David Grimmer.

Dot Hamilton and Cabrio, winners of Open Prelim. Photo by Dave Grimmer.

The top finishers in Open Prelim were Dorothy Hamilton and Cabrio in first, Devin Robel and Highlight in second, and Anna Collier and The Green Machine in third. The top finishers in our Jr./YR Prelim were Madelynn Snoozy and Udealer in first,  Patience O’Neal and Markus in second, and Ashley Loucks and Dominic Q taking third. Louise Reulbach and Kaoimhe won our Training Senior division.

It was yet another successful year at the Area VII Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials. We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and look forward to yet another benefit next year; have a fantastic fall show season!

Young Rider Benefit Horse Trials: [Final Results]

Nicole Gibby: ‘Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned’

Nicole Gibby and Blaze left all the poles up, but now what?! Photo by Lorna Smith Moth. Nicole Gibby and Blaze left all the poles up, but now what?! Photo by Lorna Smith Moth.

Nicole Gibby and her mare Blaze found themselves in an unusual position during a “Back-to-Back” eventing clinic at Avalon Equestrian Centre in British Columbia last weekend. Blaze hesitated off the ground over a vertical show jump and ended up stranded over the top of the fence without a single pole out of place.

“For those wondering how we ended up here, Blaze wasn’t feeling super confident from the get go, and I wasn’t feeling great either due to the heat,” Nicole said. “I felt her hesitating, and I started to drive her forward, but I was too defensive in my position, which gave her mixed messages. She kind of did a pause/stop, and then being the trier she is tried to jump up and over but was lacking the impulsion to finish, so she stopped halfway through!”

nicole-gibby-2

A clear second attempt for Nicole and Blaze! Photo by Lorna Smith Moth.

Nicole got Blaze — a Quarter Horse with possible Thoroughbred ancestry — as an unstarted 4-year-old and has been working with her ever since. Their experience and trust in each other came in handy in this situation: Blaze stood patiently while some helpful spectators lowered the poles under her belly so she could step over and try again. On their second attempt over the vexing verticle, Blaze made sure to put plenty of air between her legs and the poles for a clear jump effort.

Can Your Pony Event Like This?

If you want to see pony power in action, be sure to check out the eventing footage from the FEI European Championships for Ponies that took place in Millstreet, Ireland, last week. Eight nations participated in the eventing competition, with teams made up of youth riders ages 16 or younger aboard equines 148 centimeters (about 14.2 hands) and under.

Pairs were selected to represent their countries after earning qualifying scores at either the CCI*, CIC* or CCIP2* level. These little dynamos made the cross-country track at Green Glens Equestrian Complex look easy. Could your pony do this?

France’s eventing team earned gold, followed closely by Great Britain with silver and Italy with bronze. The individual eventing gold medalist was 16-year-old Victor Levecque and his pony Qualitat des Bourdons of France. Isabelle Upton and Alfie XI of Great Britain took individual silver, and Calvin Bockmann and Askaban B of Germany earned bronze.

final-team-results

FEI European Pony Championships: [Website] [Final Results] [FEI Pony Champs on Facebook]

What Did They Wear? Rebecca Farm Sunday Horse Inspection Gallery

Photo by Leah Anderson / Equestrian Culture Magazine. Photo by Leah Anderson / Equestrian Culture Magazine.

Early Sunday morning the FEI riders once again presented their horses for inspection at Rebecca Farm, with both horses and riders showing up in fine form. Minus the sand and horse manure, it might as well have been a red carpet runway! Enjoy these photos of the jogs by Leah Anderson of Equestrian Culture Magazine.

 

Picture Perfect Conclusion at Rebecca Farms

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato at Rebecca Farms 2014. Photo courtesy of Chesna Klimek. Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato at Rebecca Farms 2014. Photo courtesy of Chesna Klimek.

The man of the weekend at Rebecca Farm is surely Matt Brown, winner of the CCI2* with Happenstance and the CIC3* with Super Socks BCF. Wouldn’t you want to be the lucky lady who caught his winning roses?

matt-brown-roses

Matt Brown tossed his winning roses to the crowd. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

The CIC3* show jumping course was enormous, and Matt’s clear round with Super Socks BCF was a refreshing finish to the competition:

During the press conference it was clear that the top CIC3* riders were happy with their horses today. Matt, James Alliston and Jordan Linstedt also expressed appreciation for the amazing event put on by the Broussard family, as well as excitement for the CCI3* at Rebecca Farm in 2015.

The owners, organizers, crew, and volunteers at Rebecca Farm went above and beyond to host a world-class three-day event. This is a must-visit competition that captures all the best aspects of eventing in USEA Area VII–good people, good environment, and good competition.

alex-ahearn

Alex Ahearn and Mai Baum won the Open Intermediate on 29.6. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

[Website] [Final Results] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook] #RF

Cross-Country Day Sights and Sounds from Rebecca Farm

James Alliston and Mojo flew into 2nd in the CIC3* after cross-country. Photo by Miles Barrett. James Alliston and Mojo flew into 2nd in the CIC3* after cross-country. Photo by Miles Barrett.

Ian’s Stark’s cross-country course did an excellent job mixing up the scoreboard in the CIC3* at Rebecca Farm Saturday afternoon. With limited clear jump rounds and time penalties for all, extra seconds determined the top spots. Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF looked the part on the CIC3* track to take the lead, with James Alliston and Mojo in second and Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice in third.

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF are first in the CIC3* after cross-country. Photo by Miles Barrett.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF are 1st in the CIC3* after cross-country. Photo by Miles Barrett.

Trouble early in the course made it all the more exciting when CIC3* horses and riders made it as far as fences 18AB and 19, a rail to corner to skinny through the water that was ringed with cheering spectators:

During the evening press conference, Matt, James and Hawley reflected on the course and weighed in on their upcoming show jumping rounds:

The riders also talked briefly about successes they’ve had with other horses this week at Rebecca Farm. Yesterday, Hawley won a Novice Three Day class aboard Jan Hawthorne’s 5-year-old gelding, Hi Duty. Matt Brown is sitting in first in the CIC2* with Happenstance, and James had a solid cross-country performance on his second ride in the CIC3*, Ben, putting them in fifth place overnight.

With more than 500 horses and riders competing this week at Rebecca, there is constant action from top to bottom. A much-loved staple of the event is the Novice and Training Three Day classes. These divisions provided invaluable opportunities for riders to learn about the long format, and they took full advantage of Rebecca’s picturesque facilities. Tamie Smith won both the Training Three Day classes, finishing on 29.3 with Under Wraps and 36.9 on Irish Blend.

marc-grandia

Marc Grandia and Fernhill Eagle. Photo by Miles Barrett.

In the CIC2*, Marc Grandia put in a solid cross-country performance with Fernhill Eagle to take first place on 58.1. Today he’ll try to defend his lead against seven other riders, including his sister, Anni Grandia riding Chaos.

Jordan Linstedt of Washington and Revitavet Capato are 4th after cross-country in the CIC3*. Photo by Miles Barrett.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato are 4th after cross-country in the CIC3*. Photo by Miles Barrett.

Riders, spectators and organizers alike celebrated the best in the west last night with a dinner party and Halt Cancer at X fundraising event. The final day of competition at Rebecca Farm will begin at 8 a.m. local time with horse inspections.

Rebecca Farm Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook] #RF

CIC3* Top Three Tell All After Dressage at Rebecca Farm

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice lead the CIC3* after dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek. Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice lead the CIC3* after dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

During the Friday night press conference at Rebecca Farm, the top three CIC3* riders after dressage — Hawley Bennett-Awad, Matt Brown and Jen McFall — reflected on their tests, the upcoming cross-country cours, and the future plans for their horses.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice of Canada sit pretty at the top of the leaderboard at the end of CIC3* dressage. Believe it or not, this is the first time the pair has been in the lead after dressage. “I was really happy with her,” Hawley said. “It was very important for me to go in there and have a good test, because the next time out at dressage will be at the World Equestrian Games (knock on wood), where there will be a ton of atmosphere. I had some tools and tricks that I wanted to use in the ring today, and it worked.”

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF, 2nd after CIC3* dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF, second after CIC3* dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Hawley was complimentary of second-place rider Matthew and his Irish Thoroughbred, Super Socks BCF, saying she’s used to seeing them at the top of the leaderboard. She was also thrilled for her student, Jen. “I was a  bawling mess after her test,” Hawley said, while choking up again. “I was so proud of her. I am just as excited by her ride as I am by mine. She’s worked really hard.”

Matt was equally thrilled with Super Socks BCF: “I couldn’t be more happy with my horse. The last couple of shows in the dressage, he’s had some explosions. At this event, he woke up and really let me ride him through it. He stepped up and did not let me down at all.”

This pair has been together for about a year and a half, and Matt said they are still figuring each other out at this level. “I really think this horse has a lot of potential as long as he lets me in like that when he has nerves. I think he could do whatever it is I want him to do in the future.” He’d like their next trip to be Fair Hill in the fall.

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Jen McFall and High Times, third after dressage in the CIC3*. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

If all goes well, Matt and Jen may be carpooling to Fair Hill in October. Jen said she was delighted that she and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, High Times, achieved their personal best dressage score at this level, breaking into the 40s. “He was so professional,” she said. “He dealt with his nerves and let me ride him anyway.” Jen also expressed gratitude to Hawley and the rest of her support team and looks forward to continuing to develop this horse for the future.

Barbara Crabo and Over Easy, 5th after dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Barbara Crabo and Over Easy, 5th after dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

On Saturday, the riders will face Ian Stark’s CIC3* cross-country course, and they all agree it will require forward, confident riding, especially in the first half. According to Hawley, the course has “big questions, lots of questions. It’s an Ian Stark course. You’ve got to come out of the box going. If you ride forward, then it will ride great.”

This will be Gin & Juice’s last trip before WEG, and Hawley’s plan is to “get in a good rhythm and whatever time she gets, we’ll get. It’s a big day for her tomorrow; she hasn’t run since Kentucky. We did a jump school yesterday, and she’s ready; she was a firecracker! I might have a little dragon out of the box.” She thinks Saturday’s course will be a solid prep for WEG, predicting the WEG course will include many skinnies and turning questions.

Jen reflected that this year’s CIC3* course “used a lot more turns than last year. I think that’s going to come into play; I think it could be tough to get your horse on point.” Matt seconded that: “I think it will be a big day for a lot of people; there’s challenge after challenge out there.” He plans to focus on creating confidence for Super Socks BCF during the first part of the course and really help him along through every jump in the beginning. All three riders noted the challenges created by Ian Stark’s use of terrain, and all agreed that the second water complex is a must-watch.

Jennifer McFall, Matthew Brown, and Hawley Bennett-Awad during the Rebecca Farm press conference. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Jen McFall, Matt Brown and Hawley Bennett-Awad during the Rebecca Farm press conference. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Matt, Jen and Hawley all shared appreciation for The Event at Rebecca Farm. Matt noted that the Broussard family’s passion for three-day eventing has created a one-of-a-kind eventing destination in Montana. Jen elaborated that “Rebecca is so exhibitor-friendly; they offer FEH through three-star. It’s really fun. You can bring all your horses, all your riders, and have a great time. Everybody looks forward to it.”

Hawley has been riding at Rebecca Farm for more than 10 years, coming every year save the Olympic years. “It is my favorite event,” she said. “The Broussards go above and beyond. Becky had that dream years ago. The fact that we’re getting a CCI3* here next year — I’m so excited! I’d love to see some riders from Europe come over here. I brag about this place: perfect footing, beautiful jumps, everything is top notch. Where else would I want to do my final prep for WEG? Nowhere.”

Stay tuned to Eventing Nation for footage from Rebecca Farm after cross-country day!

Rebecca Farm: [Website] [Results] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook] #RF

Lauren Billys and Ballingowan Ginger are fourth after dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Lauren Billys and Ballingowan Ginger, 4th after CIC3* dressage. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Rebecca Farm CIC3* Cross-Country Course Preview

The Rebecca Farm cross-country course. Photo by Chesna Klimek. The Rebecca Farm cross-country course. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

If you’ve ever dreamed of jumping your horse over train cars, dinosaurs, sea dragons or mountains, then Rebecca Farm in USEA Area VII is a must-ride destination for you! The fences here are mind-blowingly creative with fabulous artistry; the crew at Rebecca has been hard at work since early July adding decorations and finishing touches to the cross-country courses. The footing looks great, and the panoramic blue sky mountain views aren’t too shabby either.

This year, the CIC3* cross-country course designed by Ian Stark has 24 numbered questions over 3,990 meters with an optimum time of 7 minutes. The most interesting questions use the natural terrain to add difficulty, such as an angled downhill approach to a rail to corner combo at 18AB in the second water.

Ian led a course walk of his track earlier in the week, which we caught on video in this post. See the gallery below for fence-by-fence pictures of this one-of-a-kind Advanced track.

And there’s big news for all you Area VII cross-country fans out there: Jerome Broussard announced on Wednesday that Rebecca Farm will host its first CCI3* in 2015! Stay tuned to Rebecca Farm this weekend and beyond for top notch cross-country action.

Rebecca Farm Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook] #RF

 

YEH and FEH Competitors Shine at Rebecca Farm

Shanghai DF and Megan Lawrence took third in the 4 Year Old YEH. Photo by Chesna Klimek. Shanghai DF and Megan Lawrence took third in the 4 Year Old YEH. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

The youngsters came out to play on Wednesday at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Mont. Thirty-eight horses participated in this year’s Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) classes.

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Frankfurt shown by Ruth Bley won the 5 Year Old YEH. Photo by Kathy Bodnar.

In the Five Year Old YEH class, the Hanoverian gelding Frankfurt, ridden and owned by Ruth Bley, took the top spot with a score of 80.7. Classic Twain DF and Jen McFall scored 77 for second, followed closely by last year’s winners of the Four Year Old YEH at Rebecca, Betawave and Robyn Fisher.

Overall scores in the YEH were awarded for conformation and type (15%), dressage (35%), and jumping (50%). The jumping test consisted of 10 questions: five white show jumps on slightly rolling terrain and five cross-country fences including water. The jump judges rewarded balanced, uphill horses who demonstrated willingness and the ability to jump out of stride.

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Axiom DF ridden by Earl McFall and owned by Jennifer McFall won the 4 Year Old YEH. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Ten horses competed in the Four Year Old YEH class. Axiom DF and Earl McFall won convincingly on a 79.7, Bold Canyon and Tricia Dahms were second with 77.9, and Shanghai DF and Meghan Lawrence were close behind with 77.5. The top four finishers all scored over 8 in the jumping section.

Five 3-year-olds took to the triangle to show their potential in the Future Event Horse Class under judge Karen Winn, who scored each on conformation, movement, type and general impression. Luxembourg, a 16.1-hand Holsteiner gelding owned by Jordan Linstedt and Emily Pickering, scored an impressive 81.7 to win. Luxembourg stood out not only for his athleticism, free movement and four white socks, but also for his excellent training and good ground manners. Super Nova and owner Kerry Grott took second with 77, and Once Upon a Mystery shown by Carmen Mesgengen took third with 74.3.

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Luxembourg and Jordan Linstedt won the Future Event Horse class. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

The Event at Rebecca Farm continues through Sunday with divisions from Novice to CIC3*.

Rebecca Farm Links: [Website] [FEH/YEH Results] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook]

All Horses Pass Rebecca Farm CIC3* First Horse Inspection

Katie Frei and Houdini during the CIC3* horse inspection. Photo by Chesna Klimek. Katie Frei and Houdini during the CIC3* horse inspection. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

The sun played peek-a-boo with dark skies yesterday morning at Rebecca Farm for the first horse inspection, but to everyone’s delight, the rain held off while the CCI*, CCI2*, CIC2* and CIC3* competitors presented for their jogs.

Most of the horses looked fresh — no doubt aided in enthusiasm by occasional wind gusts — and the riders looked tidy. Throughout the morning, hints of pink could be found in riders’ fashion choices in recognition of the Halt Cancer at X initiative.

In the CIC3* division, 21 horses presented, and all were accepted with no holds. Three of the riders are competing more than one horse in the division: James Alliston, Barbara Crabo and Andrea Baxter. CIC3* dressage begins this afternoon.

Rebecca Farm Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [Rebecca Farm on Facebook] #RF

Cynthia Bayles Beats the Heat at Whidbey Island

Cynthia Bayles into the water at Whidbey Island Horse Trials. Photo by Susie Rowand Thompson. Cynthia Bayles into the water at Whidbey Island Horse Trials. Photo by Susie Rowand Thompson.

If you’re going to be an eventer, then one of the most important tools to have in your toolkit is a sense of humor. Cynthia Bayles — the rider pictured above taking a head-first plunge into the Training level water off her mare, Accolade — was quick to smile about her self-described “lawn dart moment” at Whidbey Island Horse Trials last weekend. Thankfully, both Cynthia and Accolade were unharmed by their parting of ways.

“Thanks to (picture-taker) Susie Rowand Thompson, here is the winning OMG moment ride of this year. I can hear Jonathan Elliott saying, ‘I told you so.’ (Yes, you did, and I finally enjoyed my long-awaited lawn-dart moment),” Cynthia said. “There was zero forewarning; I think (Accolade) was so focused on the crowd on the mound that she was shocked to see the drop to water. I’ve never had a horse stop so fast in its tracks! I thought I jumped it quite nicely however and the landing was cool and soft. Welcome to the Wet Knickers Club.”

We eventers are an aerodynamic bunch. Kudos to Cynthia for displaying perfect lawn dart form and having a sense of humor about it. Go Eventing.

38th Annual Whidbey Island Horse Trials Heats Up Pacific Northwest

The signature first XC fences at WIHT. Photo by Chris Cole. The signature first XC fences at WIHT. Photo by Chris Cole.

The longest running USEA horse trials in Area VII, Whidbey Island Horse Trials, celebrated its 38th year of competition this past weekend. Perfect blue skies, picturesque views of the ocean and mountains, an army of dedicated volunteers and a completely full entry list made it obvious why competitors love eventing in the Pacific Northwest.

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Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, winners in Open Advanced/Intermediate. Photo by Michelle Grimmer.

Though the upper levels hosted relatively small class sizes, they weren’t short of good performances. Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato handily won the Open Advanced/Intermediate division, followed by Jeanine Allred and Snap Decision II in second. Top honors in Open Intermediate went to Marc Grandia and Fernhill Eagle, owned by Team Rebecca LLC; they finished on a 50.7.

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Marc Grandia and Fernhill Eagle, winners of the Open Intermediate. Photo by Tiffany Adams.

Only two pairs jumped clear and inside the time in Open Prelim on cross-country day: Mary Burke and Prince William and Maggie Rikard and Took a Chance. Mary and Maggie finished first and second, respectively.

Anna Stein and Zaboomafoo, her 7-year-old Connemara-Thoroughbred cross gelding, held the lead after dressage in the Jr./YR Prelim division. “Boomer was solid from start to finish,” Anna said. “He laid out our most consistent and correct dressage test to date. My favorite part of the weekend was coming through the finish flags after my last jump and knowing that I had finally won an event with my wonderful boy. Not only that, but knowing without a doubt that we’re ready for the one-star at Rebecca!”

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Anna Stein and Zaboomafoo take a victory lap in Jr./YR Prelim. Photo by Tracy Stein.

Some of the best action over the weekend took place in the Beginner Novice, Novice and Training divisions. The lowest final score of the weekend went to Kristi Nunnink and Be A Star, owned by Randy Nunnink. Kristi scored an even 20 penalty points in dressage and jumped double clear to win the Open Novice division by more than six points.

[WIHT Website] [Final Results] [WIHT Facebook Page]