Kate Samuels
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Kate Samuels

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About Kate Samuels

Kate Samuels is an avid 3-Day Eventer who currently competes at the Advanced/3* level with her wonderful Selle Francais gelding, Nyls du Terroir. A rider since the tender age of three, she is a young professional in the sport learning as much as she can from various mentors, both equine and human. Kate has worked for Eventing Nation since 2011, and has enjoyed every minute of it. She brings a lifetime of experience with horses as well as a wealth of knowledge gained through competing at the top levels of the sport. When not riding through the boiling hot, freezing cold, rain or snow, Kate enjoys baking pies, photography, and finding ridiculous videos on the internet.

Eventing Background

USEA Rider Profile Click to view profile
Area Area II
Highest Level Competed Advanced/CIC3*

Latest Articles Written

Dressage Day Two News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

"No Lunging"

“No Lunging”

Of all the photos that popped up on social media yesterday, from big grins to happy tears to exceptional extended trots and perfect square halts….THIS picture is officially the most popular one of the entire day. By a long shot. Of course, it’s courtesy of Dom Schramm, who is official head cheerleader for his wife Jimmie this weekend, but clearly also has some extra time on his hands. Dear Dom: please make my dreams a reality and convince either Michael Jung or WFP (or both!) to re-enact this photo. You will beat Kim Kardashian and totally break the internet with that one.

#RK3DE: Live ScoresWebsiteEntriesScheduleRide TimesUSEF NetworkFEI TVEN’s CoverageUltimate Guide to RolexTwitterInstagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

University of New Hampshire Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Fresno County Horse Park H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

It’s officially Rolex Contest Week! We’ve got so many prizes to give away this year, we had to dedicate an entire page to our Rolex contests. Be sure to check this page each day for the details on contests to enter while you’re at Rolex. Good luck! [Rolex Contest Page]

Outside of Rolex, the biggest news from yesterday was the FEI tribunal findings on Maxime Livio from the WEG. In short, the FEI decided to disqualify not only Maxime from the WEG, but the entirety of the French eventing team, which effectively moves the Canadian team up one slot and completes their qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games. This is good news for both Canada and the US, as we were planning on duking it out at the Pan Ams for one available Olympic spot, and now there won’t be bad blood either way! [Maxime Disqualified from WEG]

Want to quickly re-live the glory of yesterday with your early morning coffee? The USEF Network is not only streaming live, but offering replays of all the individual tests! We’ve gathered the top five for your convenience. Watch and learn! [Top Five Thursday Dressage]

Leslie Wylie loves breaking out her calculator, it makes her feel smarter than us neanderthals who can only spin words into magic and lose our minds when numbers enter the game (me). However, good thing we have her, because she’s awesome at making math happen AND making sick graphs. [Rolex At A Glance]

Whether you’re at Rolex or not, you can agree that it’s time to visit SmartPak for some new summer clothes to ride in. I’m a big fan of the ventilated shirt, because I spend all day from 7-7 outside riding, teaching, and doing things that make me sweaty and gross at the end of the day. With a FITS short sleeve breeze shirt though, I look better doing all these things, and I don’t get quite as sticky and uncomfortable as my day wears on. A warm weather must-have! [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

 A little Ralph Hill + Head of the Lake from 2014…

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Dressage Day One News & Notes from SmartPak

Laine Ashker winning the official Best Dressed title! Photo courtesy of Lainey's Instagram.

Laine Ashker winning the official Best Dressed title! Photo courtesy of Laine’s Instagram.

On a scale of 1-10, how dangerous do you think it is to try to ride all my horses today while simultaneously streaming the Rolex live-feed on my phone? I mean, as long as I’m not jumping, it should be ok right? Doing trot sets and walking up the mountain one-handed seems like a fair price to pay to watch Rolex like a nerd. I just hope my horses are looking where they are going…!

#RK3DE: Live ScoresWebsiteEntriesScheduleRide TimesUSEF NetworkFEI TVEN’s CoverageUltimate Guide to RolexTwitterInstagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

University of New Hampshire Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Fresno County Horse Park H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

It’s officially Rolex Contest Week! We’ve got so many prizes to give away this year, we had to dedicate an entire page to our Rolex contests. Be sure to check this page each day for the details on contests to enter while you’re at Rolex. Good luck! [Rolex Contest Page]

Badminton has just released their official draw of order. With not a single American amongst the over 90 (yeah, you read that right, NINETY) entrants, and the excitement of Rolex upon us at the very moment, it’s hard to remember Badminton is just a week away! Nick Gauntlett is entered on Doug Payne’s old ride Crown Talisman, and you will see Jock Paget on the exceptional Clifton Promise, Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd, Mary King and many more. [Badminton Entry Draw]

After the conclusion of dressage, New Vocations’ farm in Lexington Kentucky is hosting a Thoroughbreds For All extravaganza and dinner. Organized by the Retired Racehorse Program’s Steuart Pittman and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program’s Anna Ford, the festivities and educational panels will run from 5-9 pm, just 15 miles from the Horse Park. Laine Ashker will be one of the speakers, as well as international dressage rider Reese Koffler-Stanfield and Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship. Tickets can be purchased online for $35 and benefit the RRP and New Vocations. [Purchase Tickets Here]

Best of Blogs: A Traveler’s Guide to Lexington, Kentucky “Blossoms In Springtime”

The USEF Network is bringing us wonderful videos all week, so here is Liz Halliday Sharp and Fernhill by Night:

 

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‘Teach Me How To Hunter’

Shanti and me taking over the Hunter/Jumper world. Photo by Erica Stevens.

Shanti and me taking over the Hunter/Jumper world. Photo by Erica Stevens.

If you were to ask me how and when I started riding, I’m one of the few who literally never delved into the hunter world. I mean, ok, I did leadline classes when I was three and four, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. If three-day eventing had leadline, I would have been all up on that. I’ve come to the age of twenty-seven, and before last weekend, had never competed in any hunter shows.

After returning victorious from The Fork with my two big champions, I got back to work with all the young horses, and was asked to help my boss, Erica, with her new horse, Shanti. Erica bought Shanti a few weeks ago, and she’s a lovely 15.1 hand, nine-year-old Trakehner mare that’s done a ton of fox-hunting and a little bit of hunter trials and such. It was my delightful duty to find out what she was like in the show ring.

It’s my firm opinion that a big part of success is looking the part. And so, my first step was to endeavor to find out what to wear and how to wear it. I texted a friend of mine from childhood who had competed in hunters all her life, and asked her if it was proper to wear a stock pin over my ratcatcher (it was not).

I dug out a shaped fluffy pad for my saddle, and ditched my breast plate. We found a D-ring bit and a plain caveson. I found some tan britches, because only full seated white pants were to be located in my regular show apparel bag.

The day before the show, I looked up official footage for the perfect five-stride line, and set up an outside-diagonal-outside-diagonal course in my arena. I decorated with fake flowers, and hopped on Shanti to practice not sitting my butt in the saddle, and going way far into the corners of the arena for literally no reason at all (other than that’s what you do).

Shanti: Low Schooling Hunter Champion of the world. Photo by Erica Stevens.

Shanti: Low Schooling Hunter Champion of the world. Photo by Erica Stevens.

When we got to the show the next morning, I realized that I didn’t really know what the different kinds of classes meant, and I was totally not familiar with the proper behavior upon entering the arena, and had a few questions that would be too weird to ask some poor unsuspecting fellow rider. Luckily, I knew the in-gate steward, our local Southern States super-woman, Rachel Miller.

I trotted up to her, “Quick! Rachel! Teach me how to hunter? I have no idea what I’m doing.”

She looked at me askance for a few seconds, and then proceeded to answer my questions. Yes, you do a circle before your first jump, but only if it’s near the in-gate. You also do a finishing circle, but again, only if you end near the in-gate. Make your strides (five), try to land on the correct leads and if you don’t get your changes without looking like anything is happening.

Try not to touch your horse’s face. Keep a good rhythm everywhere, look smooth. Don’t sit down. SMILE (the judges like it when you smile). Release more than necessary for 2’6. Stay in two-point after the fences, pretend like you’re not an eventer who is used to a mile long drop on the other side.

I got the Cliff Notes, and headed in for my first round. While it would have easily sufficed in the eventing world, it was certainly a warm up round in this world. I missed a few leads, got a bit confused with some striding (counting is hard!), and accidentally circled twice in the beginning because I didn’t like my first circle. Dear Kate: care less about the flatwork thing while you’re playing in hunter land.

The best thing about hunter shows? You can do several classes right in a row over the same course, the same jumps, and the same distances. Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t get it right, all you have to do is fix it the next time! Good thing too, because as it turns out, I needed the extra rounds in order to smooth out my hunter skillz.

However, by the third round, I finally got the course together in the way that I wanted. I got all my leads correctly, with one seamless change in the corner after the first diagonal. I got ALL my five stride lines, because I finally figured out that with a 15.1 hand horse, you have to get the perfect distance in over the first fence and then build just the slightest bit each stride to make it work. I successfully two-pointed the whole time, and overall felt like I succeeded in posing as “one of them”.

Look at her adorable little champion pony face! Photo by Erica Stevens.

Look at her adorable little champion pony face! Photo by Erica Stevens.

As it turned out, the two of us managed to scrape together scores good enough to be crowned Champions of the Low Schooling Hunter! There was a flat class included in the division, and I’m pretty sure that my immaculate walk-canter transitions really sealed the deal. Glad that flatwork came in somewhere, finally!

As an eventer, I can confidently say that the hunter world is definitely top of the list of stuff that we scoff at. I mean, how boring can you be to want to do the same course over and over and over? Your jumps aren’t even big, and what you call an “oxer” has like a three inch spread. Puhlease. Also, your horse should definitely not bend outside when cantering on the rail, that’s just not appropriate.

I still agree with these things, but having attempted to get four five-stride lines perfect while looking like I wasn’t doing anything at all, I have a new found appreciation for a job well done in this realm. I mean, I can make most courses work fine, and get over the jumps, but I do eventing, and nobody judges me on how I git-it-done sometimes.

I also realized the value of a horse that approaches and lands off the jump in the same balance and cadence. Having never owned such an animal myself, I never really enjoyed the simplicity of such a ride. It’s fun to not have to manage every stride all the time!

That being said, I went home immediately and did some gallops and jumped some properly sized fences over three feet immediately. There is no way I’ll ever convert, and would probably die of boredom if I had to compete for an entire day at a hunter show, but it’s always good to get a little taste of different styles, because you can never know where you’ll learn something new and useful for your training arsenal.

Don’t worry though, I’m going cross country schooling today, and running fast and jumping high, and definitely sitting my butt in the saddle and leaning back on drop fences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Defending Rolex Champion Bay My Hero boards a plane with Easy Target (both owned by Catherine Witt) and are headed to the Bluegrass State! Photo courtesy of Alex VT and Sharon Mephem.

Defending Rolex Champion Bay My Hero boards a plane with Easy Target (both owned by Catherine Witt) and are headed to the Bluegrass State! Photo courtesy of Alex VT and Sharon Mephem.

While everybody else is gnawing the inside of their mouth in anticipation of Rolex, I’m over here toodling around and enjoying the spring weather. I got to play Hunter/Jumper last weekend (more on that later) and we moved all the horses to the summer fields and barn this week. Occasionally, I feel bad for those who have been in Florida all winter, because the most enjoyable part of spring is the appreciation that comes from experiencing the horrible cold, wet, brown and white stuff for months on end. This is my rationalization, and I’m sticking to it.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Fair Hill International H.T. & CIC [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

CDCTA Spring II H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

River Glen Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

Holly Hill Farm H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

St. Johns H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

Three-time Burghley winner Avebury will miss Badminton this year, after Andrew Nicholson has withdrawn the grey gelding due to a small bone fragment that cropped up earlier in the season. Avebury sustained a small cut at Aldon and upon further inspection the team realized it was a bone chip, and he missed a bit of work due to the recovery. No worries though, he will be returning to work later in the spring and heading to Burghley again in the fall. Four times lucky?? [Avebury Withdrawn from Badminton]

Ready to walk the Rolex CCI4* Cross Country course with two of the best riders in the country? Be sure to sign up for SmartPak’s 11th Annual Course Walk, this year featuring Boyd Martin and Allison Springer to guide you through the toughest test in the country. Date and time of the walk will be announced after ride times have been determined, but you can pre-register now. Bonus: if you are amongst the first 500 entrants to visit the SmartPak booth, you win a free secret prize! [Enter SmartPak Course Walk]

Team FLAIR is going all out for Rolex week, with lots of activities planned. While Allison Springer won’t be competing anymore with Arthur, you can still enter the FLAIR drawing to personally meet up with her while at Rolex. Not only that, but you can win FLAIR gear like hats and nasal strips in daily drawings, and also check out a meet and greet signing booth with Sinead Halpin at the Bit of Britain booth on Friday at 11am. [FLAIR RK3DE Activities]

Bonus Fact: FLAIR is sponsoring a $1500 Protect and Perform Award to the highest placed rider who uses a FLAIR strip on XC and in SJ! [FLAIR Strips Rock]

Congratulations to Kaila Orr, our Fab Freebie winner this week! Lee is the lucky winner of a pair of Cadence Dressage Boots, so that she can practice her Dressage Skillz. [Fab Freebie: Ariat Cadence Dressage Tall Boots]

Spring weather means I finally get to take off my layers of many jackets! In the past year, I’ve discovered the joy of two things: 1) shirts with mesh on the underside of the arm and 2) not getting scalded and sunburned immediately following my winter hibernation. The SmartPak Sunshield shirts have been instrumental in both of these discoveries, and they are absolutely perfect for this time of year. Get you some. [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Aerial view of one of my favorite combinations at Rolex!! Photo courtesy of Levi Ryckewaert.

Aerial view of one of my favorite combinations at Rolex!! Also, a tiny Tyson Rementer. Photo courtesy of Levi Ryckewaert.

Spring is in the air, and the tension building for Rolex is palpable! This time next week, the first riders will be cantering down centerline, ready to decide the first part of their four-star fate. This year, there are a lot of returning champions, as well as a decently good percentage of rookies, which always makes for an interesting result. I personally feel like there are three horses in the field who have equal chances of winning this event, and maybe, just maybe, William Fox Pitt will let an American win this time. #rolexgoals

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Fair Hill International H.T. & CIC [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

CDCTA Spring II H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

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

Holly Hill Farm H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

St. Johns H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

This weekend is all about the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. Held in the United States for the first time in six years, Las Vegas is filled with some of the finest show jumping and dressage pairs in the entire world. Names like Charlotte DuJardin (can anyone beat her?) and Rich Fellers come to mind. I’m personally rooting for Laura Graves and Verdades (his barn name is Diddy…I mean…) to pull out a personal best and bring the U.S. back into relevance in the dressage scene. [US Competitors Ready for World Cup]

How did $150 million worth of horses fly all the way to Las Vegas? In fancy horse airplanes of course! Somehow I’m still fascinated by horses in planes, and I’m not the only one. Check out Valegro and others boarding the planes last week. [Horses Fly To Vegas]

Have you checked out the Badminton 2015 cross country course yet? With all the Rolex hype, we sometimes forget that Badminton is right around the corner as well. This year it’s all new on the cross country, with the direction changed and lots of combinations added. They’ve taken out the Vicarage Vee, the Normandy Bank and the Shooting Butt, which means three of the most recognizable Badders jumps are missing. [Five Things About Badminton 2015]

Rap music and dressage: two things you never thought to be related. Now thanks to Josh Hill, young rider extraordinaire, they are intertwined forever. Pro-tip: he’s cousins with local Eventer Justine Dutton! [Listening to Rap Makes a Good Dressage Warmup]

Up and coming Eventing star Fleeceworks Royal is taking a break from three-day action to try her hand at jumpers this spring. While Tamie Smith spends some time on the east coast vying for a spot on the Pan Am team, she has handed over the reins on this special mare to her show jumping mentor, Susie Hutchinson. Susie is already having great success, as they just won the 6-year-old Young Jumper Championship Qualifier at Blenheim Spring Classic 3. [Fleeceworks Royal Goes Jumper]

Best of Blogs: Why Is There Only One Horse In The Barn??

Close Second: 27 Things That Happen When You Own An Ex Racehorse

 

For a fun Rolex throwback…I give you Rolex 2007!

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Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Sarah Dunkerton and Old Man Moel accepted in the Ocala CCI**! Their support system is Event Entries super-man Rick Dunkerton. Photo via Dunkerton Eventing FB.

Sarah Dunkerton and Old Man Moel accepted in the Ocala CCI**! Their support system is Event Entries super-man Rick Dunkerton. Photo via Dunkerton Eventing FB.

We have to give a big shout out to Rick Dunkerton, who does so much for our sport with his tireless work on EventEntries.com. If you’ve ever entered an event on EventEntries, you have Rick to thank for that! He’s pictured here with his daughter, Sarah, who is competing Old Man Moel in the CCI2* at the Ocala Horse Properties International Festival of Eventing at the Florida Horse Park this weekend. Go Rick, and best of luck to Sarah!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Plantation Field H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

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

FENCE H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

Pine Hill H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

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

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to Kerry Flynn, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie from Noble Outfitters! Kerry will receive a head to toe spring outfit from Noble Outfitters, just in time to hit the show ring! We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were just a tad jealous. Enjoy, Kerry! [Fab Freebie: Noble Outfitters]

We’re looking for a great inspirational story from one of our readers! Do you have a horse who has successfully recovered from EPM with the help of Protazil to return to competition? If so, email sally@eventingnation.com and we’ll see about making it a featured story of the month for our sponsor, Merck Animal Health!

As we’re gearing up for the Grand National, it’s fun to look back at the most memorable moments from times past. Red Rum’s 1977 third win is clearly at the top of the list, closely followed by the great AP McCoy winning on Don’t Push It in 2010 after trying 14 previous times. AP returns tomorrow riding Shutthefrontdoor, who is the heavy favorite. [Grand National Favorite Memories]

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Winona Horse Trials in Ohio, and they are celebrating with a photo contest! To look back through the years, everyone is invited to submit photos in these categories: action, candid, “oops” moments, professional photos, and oldest photo! You can win prizes like an equine massage, a custom ear bonnet or Equiflexsleeves for your favorite horse. [Winona Horse Trials Contest Rules & Entry]

Win a $250 voucher to Bit of Britain?? There’s not a lot better than free stuff, especially when you get to pick everything that you want! In order to enter this contest, you have to trade your helmet for a thinking cap, and create the perfect name for your dream horse using only the letter for the studs that BOB sells. Winners announced in July! [Contest Rules] [Enter Here]

Giddyup Gear has announced the beginning of their #giddyuptorolex contest! Not only can you win VIP XC tickets to Rolex, but you can also score a GoVelope Pro, some GoSocks, and some general admission tickets with access to the awesome Giddyup Gear tailgate. All you have to do is tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Pin or whatever suits you with why you want to go to Rolex, and hashtag #giddyuptorolex and #rk3de and you’re entered! [Giddyup Gear Rolex Contest]

With the debut of Game of Thrones season 5 coming up next week, it’s important to consider the horses of GOT that could still win the game. Bear with me while I nerd out right now, but don’t even pretend like I’m the only one! I really wish that Dancer would come back and kick some butt. [7 Horses That Might Win GOT]

As eventers, we are all over ice and compression therapy. One of my favorite and most simple solutions to caring for my horse’s tendons after a gallop or a jump school are the Ice Horse Tendon Wraps. These little puppies are easy to put in the freezer overnight and stay cold for a long time. The best part of these is that they stay in place firmly, so you can put them on and let the horse walk around the stall, or I like to use them after cross country schooling and they stay on in the trailer on the ride home. [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

I mean, really. Winning by ten points, I give you: Kim Severson and Cross kicking butt. 

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

It's finally green in VA!!! It's finally green in VA!!!

There’s nothing like the first week that it greens up in the spring. The grass suddenly takes on a brilliant bright green, the deciduous trees start to sprout little tendrils, and the cherry blossoms explode everywhere. Of course, this is also accompanied by horses that are either A) shedding B) covered in mud C) exhibiting spring fever or D) all of the above. I’ve resigned myself to being grungy, but I’m still happy!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Plantation Field H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

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

FENCE H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

Pine Hill H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

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

News From Around The Globe:

The Brits are taking over Rolex (again). Zara Phillips is making her Rolex debut, riding High Kingdom in slot number 66, with fellow rookie Francis Whittington riding a bit before her in slot 32. William Fox Pitt is entered on three horses, but only plans to run Freddie Mac (42) and previous winner Bay My Hero (82). Nicola Wilson will be first Brit in the ring with Watermill Vision in slot eight and 77 with Annie Clover. [British Coming to Rolex]

Win a $250 voucher to Bit of Britain?? There’s not a lot better than free stuff, especially when you get to pick everything that you want! In order to enter this contest, you have to trade your helmet for a thinking cap, and create the perfect name for your dream horse using only the letter for the studs that BOB sells. Winners announced in July! [Contest Rules] [Enter Here]

Giddyup Gear has announced the beginning of their #giddyuptorolex contest! Not only can you win VIP XC tickets to Rolex, but you can also score a GoVelope Pro, some GoSocks, and some general admission tickets with access to the awesome Giddyup Gear tailgate. All you have to do is tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Pin or whatever suits you with why you want to go to Rolex, and hashtag #giddyuptorolex and #rk3de and you’re entered! [Giddyup Gear Rolex Contest]

Many of your fellow Eventers participated in a study from KER this spring with their new heart rate monitor system. Now, they are offering an educational talk about the findings and it’s timed perfectly for Rolex! They tracked the fitness of dozens of Eventing horses and racehorses, and the president of KER invites you to learn. Tuesday April 21st, sign up now! [KER Fitness Gurus]

Heading to Rolex, and thinking of questions for your favorite rider or groom? You’re in luck! The PRO Rider & Groom Q & A for spectators at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event will be held one hour after the final horse completes cross country on Saturday, April 25th. Join the panel of North American and International Riders and Grooms at the Trot Up Lane.

KER is delighted to announce their partnership with Evention stars Dom and Jimmie Schramm! As Jimmie heads for her very first CCI4* at Rolex this spring, the partnership could not have come at a better time. “We have known KER and Dr. Joe Pagan for a long time, and have previously reached out to KER for assistance any time our horses weren’t looking or performing their best,” said Jimmie Schramm. “The advice we receive from KER has always been excellent and produced real results. We’re very excited to move forward with a formal partnership and spread the word to all equestrians about the resources available to them through KER.” [KER & Schramm Equestrian]

Best of Blogs: “But I Wanted A Beginner Safe Horse!”

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Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Mackenna Shea and Landioso. Photo by Jenni Autry. Mackenna Shea and Landioso. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Another day of exciting dressage on the books! Unfortunately for me, my horse, who was lazy as all get out two weeks ago in his test, thought today was extremely exciting and used it as an excuse to practice some extra “dressage” moves in the arena. Ah well, we’ve all had those days, and I’m sure there will be more of them. Part of the beauty of Nyls is that you never quite know what you’re going to get, even in back to back events. On to jumping!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

CDCTA Spring I H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

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

News From Around The Globe:

It’s time to vote for your favorite EN style Rolex ticket art! The winner will receive a T-series helmet from Tipperary, so be sure to get your votes in now. Voting will close TODAY at 5 p.m. EST, and we’ll announce the winner in Saturday’s Links post. [Vote for Tipperary Contest Winner]

Congratulations to Lee Alison, our Fab Freebie winner this week! Lee is the lucky winner of a Split Tail Rain Jacket from Kerrits, which is sure to come in handy this spring. [Fab Freebie: Kerrits Split Tail Rain Jacket]

April Fool’s day was not just for EN readers, but all over the horse world. While Horse & Hound announced that Hugh Grant would be taking over editorial duties, Dubarry revealed that they were working on a leather bra made out of the same material as their classic boots. For everyone who was taken in by an April Fool’s joke, here is a great collection of jokes that appeared this week. [April Fools Horse People!]

What could be better than John Whitaker interviewing Ludger Beerbaum? Not a lot of things, as it turns out. Show jumping legend John Whitaker took over Horse & Hound this week, and took it upon himself to interview world number two, Ludger Beerbaum about a variety of topics. Listening to two amazing riders like this is fascinating. [John & Ludger]

One of my all time favorite products: Equifit Adhesive Gel Squares. I was turned on to these by a supergroom friend of mine last year and they have saved my life since then. EquiFit Adhesive Gel Squares release a medical grade mineral oil to moisturize, soften, protect and cushion affected areas or places that are prone to rubs. I keep them attached to the back of my cross country boots so that my horse doesn’t get horrible rubs from the water and the sand. [SmartPak Product of The Day]

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Leo at his first Fork!

Leo at his first Fork!

We come to The Fork because of the timing right before Rolex, to watch the future and hopeful four-star pairs make their last competitive efforts. We come to The Fork because of the wonderful cross country design and courses. We come to The Fork because it’s one of the top shelf competitions on the East Coast, and if you win here, you know you’ve beaten almost everyone in Eventing on this side of the US. However, I’m pretty sure that a big part of why we come to The Fork is because the grass is literally the greenest thing that anybody has ever seen. If you’re coming from down south where it’s all sand and scrub or up north where it’s still brown, there’s nothing like seeing fields and fields of wonderful green luscious grass.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

CDCTA Spring I H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

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

News From Around The Globe:

It’s time to vote for your favorite EN style Rolex ticket art! The winner will receive a T-series helmet from Tipperary, so be sure to get your votes in now. Voting will close on Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m. EST, and we’ll announce the winner in Saturday’s Links post. [Vote for Tipperary Contest Winner]

Successful New Zealand Olympic and World Equestrian Games horse Glengarrick has died at age 29. “Nugget” was seventh individually in the 2004 Athens Olympics at age 18, and then went to the World Equestrian Games in Aachen at the age of 20 and placed seventh individually again. Rider Heelan Tompkins returned him to her home in New Zealand after that to enjoy a long retirement. [RIP Glengarrick]

New technology has allowed the creation of horse shoes with tiny springs inside. Former gymnast and shoe designer Una Ligh-Clee has come up with a shoe for the hind feet that could help show jumpers reach all new heights. Microchip technology recognizes when the pasterns of the horse are flexed prior to jumping and sends out tiny springs on the heels. [Spring Heeled Horse Shoes]

Your horse has a more varied wardrobe than you do. [Signs Your Horse is a Pet]

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Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Galway Downs is now home to racehorses! Photo courtesy of Galway Downs FB.

Galway Downs is now home to racehorses! Photo courtesy of Galway Downs FB.

The very first three-star of the year is commencing today at Galway Downs, and I think I can even feel the excitement all the way over here in Virginia! I’ve been watching videos of the west coast crew taking lessons with David O’Connor over the past two days, and taking little notes on the jumping exercises to replicate them at home for my own horses. If you haven’t already, check out Maggie’s predictions for the CIC3* at Galway, as nine of the competitors are entered at Rolex in just a few weeks.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Morven Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

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

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

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

Galway Downs H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to Kelly Sroka, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie! Kelly will get a chance to try out a free month of A Horse Box. Congratulations, Kelly! [Fab Freebie: A Horse Box]

Heading to Rolex this year? Be sure to enter our first Rolex lead-up contest presented by Tipperary! Send us a photo of your Rolex tickets, and get creative with your photo! The voted winner will receive a brand new T-series helmet from Tipperary. Last day to enter is Saturday! [Show Us Your Rolex Tickets, Presented by Tipperary]

Competitors and spectators at Galway Downs this weekend will be treated to all new and improved facilities. More than 150 racehorses are now in training on the grounds, landscaping work is continuing to beautify the site, and the parking lot on the west side of the barns is being transformed into a recreational area for the community. “Our goal continues to be to make Galway Downs a larger part of the Temecula Valley community, and so we’re creating an area that can be rented for community events, weddings and other affairs. And we’re glad that our fabulous track is becoming a busy Southern California Thoroughbred training center once again, because it’s always exciting to see the racehorses galloping around the track in the morning,” says Robert Kellerhouse. [Galway Downs]

Professional’s Choice is now the official boot of the United States Eventing Association. “At Professional’s Choice, we believe in partnering with organizations and people who we share common goals and aspirations with. The USEA’s goal is to advance the sport of three day eventing through education as a component of its mission statement, and at Professional’s Choice we share that passion,” stated Vice President Michele Scott. Professional’s Choice offers a variety of equestrian products and is a leader in the equine leg care industry, placing priority on innovative technology and superior quality. [Professional’s Choice]

The flies are already out, and it’s already irritating my horses. So, I went today and ordered a new supply of my favorite fly spray, CLAC Deo Lotion. If you or your horse have ever experienced irritation with regular horse sprays, this is your solution. It is 100% natural ingredients, and I guarantee it is allergy proof. I have a thin skinned chestnut who gets hives from regular fly spray, and I always find the insides of my arms are irritated when I touch them in the summer, but not now that I use CLAC! Also, it smells really good. [SmartPak Product of the Day]

FLAIR™ MASTER CLASS: Rolex Kentucky 2014 XC — The First Combination, The Park Question 7abcd — with Ralph Hill from Flair LLC on Vimeo.

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

This is how Dom Schramm teaches cross country in the Hitchcock Woods. Photo courtesy of Dom.

This is how Dom Schramm teaches cross country in the Hitchcock Woods. Photo courtesy of Dom.

Yesterday, the local fox hunt came through my farm, and in a rather crazy way, went careening through the main barn and paddock facilities, hounds and all swarming through the fields. I was trapped in the arena lunging a horse that had recently come off stall rest (that was fun, let me tell you) and I had no chance to grab Nyls out of the field, which I would have because he is DEATHLY AFRAID of fox hunting. At the sound of the first horn, or the first howl, he begins trembling from head to toe, and stops blinking completely. This happened at 10am, and he didn’t really recover all day. At 9pm, I return to the barn for night checks, only to find Nyls standing in the corner of his stall, tense and tight and still refusing to blink. This is how I spent an hour sitting in his stall so that he would put his head down, breathe, and maybe eat some hay. Example 1,468 of why Nyls only survives life because of extreme personal attention and being spoiled.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Morven Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

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

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

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

Galway Downs H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

Heading to Rolex this year? Be sure to enter our first Rolex lead-up contest presented by Tipperary! Send us a photo of your Rolex tickets, and get creative with your photo! The voted winner will receive a brand new T-series helmet from Tipperary. Last day to enter is Saturday! [Show Us Your Rolex Tickets, Presented by Tipperary]

In an all new bonehead move, an Arizona state bill proposes that horses are not animals. HB2150 separates poultry and livestock from animal cruelty statutes, so that they are effectively excluded from the definition of animals found in Arizona’s criminal code. Since they will no longer be considered animals, the 13 categories of animal abuse currently on the books will no longer protect these animals. [Lawmakers Say Horses Aren’t Animals]

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are heading to Las Vegas next month, and it’s not for gambling. They are going to defend their Reem Acra FEI World Cup title on the 15-19 of April, and everybody is wondering: can anybody beat them? This pair is the current World, Olympic and European champions, as well as holding the high score records for just a few things at Grand Prix. My vote is no, nobody can beat them, and they will crush all comers once again. [Can Anybody Beat Charlotte and Valegro?]

I’ve already pre-ordered this book, and I can’t wait to get it next month! The indefatigable Emma Ford and Cat Hill have created what is promising to be the best book on grooming, presentation and horse care that this world has ever seen. Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m a maniac about how my horses look, and I’m sure this book will only make me more maniacal. In the meantime, check out Emma and Cat’s new website! [World Class Grooming]

If you’d like to get some personal Evention lessons, Buffalo Run Farm is hosting a Dom Schramm clinic in May. Held on the 16th and 17th of May in Bellefonte PA, Buffalo Run offers this clinic to horses and riders of all levels, and has extended the initial deposit date to March 30th, as they still have some spots open. Contact Jennifer Neely for more information.[Buffalo Run Farm]

An Infographic: On Why You Should Be Wearing A Helmet

A fun video of the original “Big Red”:

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Carolina International CIC3* Cross Country Course Preview

Cloud 11 Watership Down complex.

Cloud 11 Watership Down complex.

I had the chance to zoom around the Cloud 11-Gavilan Farm Carolina International CIC3* cross country course yesterday morning, thanks to the expert golf cart driving of press officer Allie Conrad, and was delighted to check out Hugh Lochore’s challenge for this year. The CIC3* starts on cross country at 12:40 p.m. EST, so let’s take a look at the course.

There was rain Thursday during the day and at night, which made the footing sloppy around the barns and in the warm-up for dressage, but it works perfectly for the cross country. This event usually has excellent turf, and the sandy footing is one of the best, but the little bit of rain was a great addition.

The course runs along a similar path as it did last year for the inaugural CIC3*, and Hugh has changed a few key elements but kept a lot of the classic Carolina obstacles. It starts out in a very inviting way, with four good fences to get you going and into a rhythm.

The first complex comes at 5AB at the Fox Lake Trellis Turn, which uses one of the enormous skinny trellis tables that we saw last year, but the B element is a fairly inviting corner. The table is deceivingly wide and has quite a skinny front, so I expect that it will ride awkwardly for a few combinations, but there’s a good turn to set you up, and it shouldn’t cause any serious trouble.

DSC_0009

8ABC: Zoe’s Bank

The first real question is 8ABC, which is at Zoe’s Bank, a great complex named in honor of Zoe di Giovanni. This jump is tricky, as the A element is a skinny house up on a mound, as it was last year, and that alone sometimes rides a bit awkwardly as you try to get the horse’s eye on the top.

The good news is that the striding is lovely, and it is a perfect four to a very nice roll top, one stride angled to another skinnier roll top. You can see a little bit of the angle in the picture above, but standing next to it makes you realize that it is a lot sharper angle than you thought. I expect a few run-outs here, but it should ride smoothly for the majority of the competitors.

The next complex is Stonehenge, which looks intimidating, but it worked beautifully last year. There is a skinny jump in, and then you can just push for a good forward three over a great corner — unless you are Boyd Martin, and then you break your leg for the second year running at Carolina International.

SPEA War Horse Complex

SPEA War Horse Complex

After that, there are a few more gallop fences and a few tables on a turn before we get to 16ABC, the SPEA War Horse Complex. This was on the course last year as a similar but slightly different question, and it is another jump that seems more difficult than it rides. The turn from A to B gives you plenty of time to set up, and while the B is a bit large with the brush, the C element is a pretty inviting chevron that you can ride down to in a perfect two strides.

The big Cloud 11 Watership Down complex is at the end of the course at 20AB and 21AB, and this is where I see the most issues coming. The A element is a brush bouncing to a log drop into the water. While it measures as a bounce, I definitely see a lot of horses taking a shuffle step, especially as the B and the water aren’t completely visible on entrance.

The riders then must turn to a pretty inviting 21A, a raised log in the water, which then has a slight S bend to a fairly decent sized corner at 21B. The placement of 21B might be a bit awkward for some riders, as they struggle to get their horses’ eyes up on the last question, but there is plenty of room to bow out and have a more extensive approach if one chooses to do that.

You can watch riders tackle the course thanks to the USEF live stream. Tune in to this link at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Carolina International: WebsiteRide TimesLive ScoresLive StreamVideo On DemandEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Jon Holling found a bathroom just for him at Carolina International. Photo from Jon himself.

Jon Holling found a bathroom just for him at Carolina International. Photo from Jon himself.

Despite the drizzling and the cold-ish weather, Carolina International continues to be awesome. I arrived yesterday, and I’m all settled in for a great weekend. The beast is full of fire, and will be doing at least one pre-ride tomorrow morning, as is customary for the first event of the season. One of my favorite parts of going to competitions is seeing all my friends from all the years of riding and working together, it’s like a big happy reunion! Can’t wait to cheer on my friends and I guess also do some dressage, or something.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Carolina International H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Jersey Fresh International is only seven weeks away, so it’s time to get your tickets to be a VIP spectator! Jersey Fresh is upping the ante this year with multiple packages for tailgating and spectating ringside for the exciting upper level competition. There is an All Access VIP Package, a Weekender VIP Package, and a Super Mom VIP Package, including awesome perks like catered meals, tailgating space on cross country, and a Mother’s Day brunch. What better way to watch some of the top horses in the country compete? [Jersey Fresh International]

Being jealous of people who get to go to Aiken for the spring is overrated. I read this hilarious account of a month in Aiken by Rebecca Young and was not surprised by a single ridiculous detail of it. Not even the “attack dogs” part, because that seems to be par for the course in South Carolina. [21 Days: A Horse Show Diary of Disaster]

Rachel Hindley of Great Britain has been handed a prison sentence and banned from owning animals for five years for her treatment of a pony and a donkey. Both unfortunate critters had hooves so overgrown that they could not walk properly, and the donkey had an infected sarcoid on his chest that was ulcerated. England has very strict animal welfare laws, and does not hesitate to hand down time in prison, heavy fines, and bans from animal ownership. Something I wish we could copy in the U.S. [Woman Banned From Animal Ownership]

Buying a properly fitted, comfortable and stylish helmet is one of the biggest decisions we face with our rider apparel. Last year, I discovered that I had been using all the wrong helmets, and my head is in fact shaped like a weird oval. I used to get awful headaches on my forehead, all because my helmets were the wrong shape! Now I switched to Samshield helmets, and I’m completely in love. If you’ve got a funny oval/egg shaped head like me, you should probably get on this bandwagon. [SmartPak Product of the Day]

Congrats to Rachel Wade, winner of this week’s Fab Freebie for a set of Equilibrium Tri-Zone Impact Sports Boots from our awesome sponsor World Equestrian Brands! Check out our product review of these fantastic cross country boots here. Be sure to check back Monday for our next Fab Freebie. [Fab Freebie]

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Anthony Patch is all snuggled up and ready for dressage in the CIC3* tomorrow at Carolina International! Photo courtesy of Lainey Ashker.

Anthony Patch is all snuggled up and ready for dressage in the CIC3* tomorrow at Carolina International! Photo courtesy of Lainey Ashker.

I can’t WAIT to get to Carolina International today, even though I’m only running the Intermediate with Nyls this weekend. It truly is one of the best events of the year, and I mean that in every way possible. There are events that are great for spectators, events that have wonderful cross country courses, and events that are respectful and accommodating to the competitors, but it’s pretty rare to have all that and more at one place. Carolina International sets itself apart by the way it treats its competitors, and it makes us all walk around with stupid grins all the time. I think it might be my favorite event of the year!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Carolina International H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Matthew Grayling holds a short lead over Jock Paget in the Land Rover Horse of the Year CIC3* in New Zealand. Riding NRM Lowenberg, he sits just 1.5 penalties over Jock on Henton After Dark. It will be a job for Matthew to retain the lead, as Jock is accustomed to the title, having won it in 2009 and 2010 with Clifton Promise, and riding a very good horse that won the CIC2* here last year. Emily Cammock, entered at Kentucky with Dambala in a few weeks, sits in third after dressage in her final prep for their American 4* debut. [New Zealand HoY CIC3*]

Infamous stallion Cruising has two clones, now three years old. Cruising Arish and Cruising Encore are stunning little stallions, and are going to be available to breeders starting this year. Cruising himself died last September, but now Ireland can keep his genes alive in these two young stallions, who will be used exclusively for breeding purposes. Cruising remains the only stallion who received a 5 star rating for his own performance as well as a 5 star rating for that of his progeny. [Cruising’s Clones]

Have you checked out Maggie’s CIC3* predictions for this weekend? If you haven’t already, you should bone up on the likely contenders for the top prize in this weekend’s Carolina International CIC3*. [By The Numbers]

Equine non-profits are being encouraged to apply for grant money from the USA Equestrian Trust. Last year they gave out $300,000 to various equine non-profit organizations, largely to initiatives that are productive across several disciplines. If you are involved in an organization that would benefit, you should send in your application, due the night of May 4th. [Equine Non Profits Aid from USA Equestrian Trust]

Why would you want to click on this link and look at pictures of adorable foals to start your Thursday out right? The better question is: why WOULDN’T you, and why are you overthinking adorableness so much already? Seriously though, if you need a pick-me-up, or a dose of cute with your morning coffee, go no further. [Horse & Hound Adorable Foals]

The Best of Blogs: Maggie Deatrick hits the nail on the head with this article on the bravery that is required to admit that you shouldn’t be at the top levels. [The Will To Walk Away]

The Horse Pesterer will be back at CHP this weekend, and thank goodness for that! Here’s a little taste of this time last year (and the only time that Nyls has been likened to Secretariat!)

 

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The Leo Chronicles: Irish Jumping Lessons

Glamour shots: completely necessary.

Glamour shots: completely necessary.

As it is often with young horses, there is an ebb and flow to the learning curve. It’s definitely not a linear process, and sometimes you go backwards before you go forwards. I find that most horses have a pre-determined personal pace, and it’s usually wiser to let that be the guide for the rider. However, my favorite part is the lightbulb moment that leaps outside of the common progression, the “Aha!” that happens spontaneously and sometimes without prompting.

Although Leo is not really technically a young horse anymore (he’s coming on 8 this summer), he’s still green. Some horses, if they aren’t started properly, take a really long time to get going again later in life, and such is the case with him. After spending six years of his life meandering aimlessly and picking up bad, nervous habits, he’s only just now realizing what “job” means and getting into the different parts of his new career. Understanding that there are THREE distinct parts is a struggle, something we all could have told him from the get-go. Eventing is hard!

Just this past month, even with the snow and the cold-as-a-witch’s-rear-end weather, something funny happened to Leo in the way that he understood his own body. Maybe it was because for three weeks I was relegated to trot sets in the snow and the occasional canter up a slight hill, requiring more push and articulation from the horses. Maybe it was just the sudden accumulation of muscles and strength. Maybe it was just a little magic. Regardless, Leo just learned a really important thing: how to gallop!

This sounds silly, but he’s such a big dude and basically a thousand percent warmblood; he’s just been, you know, cantering a bit faster than usual on cross country. But suddenly, he knows how to gallop like a proper horse! He can increase his speed, change his stride length within a balance, keep himself uphill the whole time, and lets me rate him from a galloping position! It’s the small victories, you guys.

"When you have a bit in your mouth, your lips are automatically too short to cover your teeth." -- Leo

“When you have a bit in your mouth, your lips are automatically too short to cover your teeth.” — Leo

The day after the discovery, he started to act wild under saddle. At first I thought it was spring fever, but there was still snow on the ground. I figured maybe he was getting a little too much grain for his work load, so I cut it a little. No dice. This galloping thing opened up a whole new window for him, and he was just so psyched to be so fast now!

Leo is generally very low maintenance on the ground. You can leave him alone in a stall in the barn and he just munches hay and stays behind a stall guard. He stays out in a field by himself and sometimes will whinny or trot a little bit when you take the other horses away, but he never persists. I’ve done it hundreds of times, and he’s just not very dedicated to the cause of being neurotic, which is amazing.

One day, I pulled Nyls from the field while Leo was still out and was walking him back the the barn. I saw Leo canter around a little, pull some playful bucks and whinny a little. I figured he would give it up in approximately three minutes and continued on my way.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a red blur of flailing galloping legs coming towards me, definitely NOT in the field. Leo comes flying as fast as he can straight towards Nyls and me, who were both standing dumbstruck on the road back the the barn. He had successfully cleared his 5-foot gate and come pelting down the path at a full gallop. When he reached me, he stopped and allowed himself to be caught, because that was the extent of his escape plan, obviously.

I never really thought that Leo would have the kind of commitment that it takes to decide to straight up jump out over a gate. I was a little impressed. He did scrape some hair off of one leg, but other than that seems to have cleared it in good style. Most horses can jump out of the field if they want to badly enough, but Leo just never struck me as the type.

Fast forward two days, and I finally got to jump him when the snow melted. He’s usually a total goon unless he jumps regularly, and I was expecting some combination of disorganized buffoonery. This time, however, he was on point from the beginning, and in fact a lot more coordinated than I remembered him being in January.

#Derp

#Derp

He had suddenly accepted that taking off from underneath the fences was maybe not a great idea and was lifting his shoulders and his front legs in a way that was all new. He was waiting and cantering politely and not throwing in 27 differently sized strides before each fence. He was even landing a reasonable distance away from the jumps, instead of turning each one stride into an almost bounce! This was magical. I jumped him the next day a little too, just to make sure that I hadn’t made it up in my brain, and it happened again!

My theory is this: Leo decided on a whim to jump his gate, and perhaps saw his life flash before his eyes while he did it, feeling the absolute solid unflinching metal as he scraped his right leg a little on his way over it. In that moment, he realized he’d better start taking this jumping stuff more seriously and get his damn front end out of the way, and maybe start listening to me a little more. This self-administered jumping lesson clearly was a lightbulb moment for him.

While I’m glad I didn’t have to do the jumping of the 5-foot unmovable gate on him, I know of a place across the ocean that believes in such jumping lessons. That place is Ireland. Why do you think we buy horses that learned to jump in the Irish hunt field? Those horses are clever, no nonsense and know how to get their legs out of the way because upright gates in ankle deep mud are just par for the course.

Leo enters his spring season eyeing a move up to Training level and feeling all sorts of newly cool and powerful. I can’t get too many of those amazing jumps out of him, because he still tires easily from the effort of doing it correctly, but I’m delighted to have this new technique on my side. He’s making me a better rider, and I’m hoping I’m making him a better horse. Let’s just hope all this galloping and jumping doesn’t go to his head!

A Pine Top Dressage Lesson from Kim Severson

Everyone should have the chance to take a real dressage lesson from Kim Severson, because she’s the boss, but if you can’t, this is a pretty good substitute.

Kim took Cooley Cross Border to Pine Top this weekend to contest the Preliminary division. Needless to say, she schooled everybody on the flat, scoring an incredible 15.7 in the dressage phase. This score put her a cool 7.9 points in front of the rest of the pack, and she added just a rail to that score to take home the blue with Cross.

Mike Pembleton and Neville Bardos. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Mike Pembleton and Neville Bardos. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

We also got a glimpse of another familiar face at Pine Top: Neville Bardos, out to contest the Open Training division with Windurra working student Mike Pembleton. This is this pair’s second event together, following a second place finish in the Novice division at Full Gallop earlier this year. Mike and Neville currently lead the Open Training division on a dressage score of 29.1.

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

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

How did I get so lucky as to have this ridiculously good looking horse as my main man for so many years?

I made him do a photo shoot yesterday. He rolled in mud right after this.

I’ve been late to the competition game this season, as I didn’t go south at all, but stayed in Virginia to keep working and doing long slow fitness and flatwork hours with my horses. I have my two actively competing this season, a bunch of greenies, and a group of great students. Outside of the horrible snow of February, it really hasn’t been bad at all. In fact, I want to say that it’s almost been a nice relief to not have to go south and go crazy competing all over the place and return home to a depleted bank account and a trailer full of sand. However, my horses are looking fit and “slick as onions” (as my farrier said the other day) and I’m excited to get going competing next weekend at Carolina International!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

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

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Final Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

As we all consider the fate of Eventing after yet another tragedy, it’s worth reading this article from Jimmy Wofford. Yes, it was written in 2008, but it holds just as true now. The internet is full of outrage and complaint, but Jimmy does an excellent job of condensing the concerns into logical and digestible information, forming his argument. He believes that the true problem with Eventing is that the increase in difficulty of Dressage and Show Jumping has morphed our horses into ones without initiative, and that is the cause of the increase in rotational falls. As he puts it, we have designed a sport by humans for humans, instead of a sport designed by humans for horses. [Eventing Lives in the Balance]

Nine British horses have been entered so far at Rolex, and entries don’t close for another week and a half. The British have WFP bringing two defending Rolex champions and one four-star rookie, Nicola Wilson returning for the first time since the WEG in 2010, and both Zara Phillips and Francis Whittington making their personal Rolex debuts. We love Rolex as our only CCI4* in North America, but we really love when the Europeans come over here and we can ooh and ahh at them! [British Take On Rolex]

Don’t forget to enter this week’s awesome Fab Freebie from SaddleLockers! Here’s your chance to win a prize pack of swag, courtesy of SaddleLockers, Ogilvy, and Higher Standards Leather Care. Entries close Friday at midnight EST and we’ll be announcing the winner in Saturday’s News & Notes. [Fab Freebie: SaddleLockers]

Jen McFall wrote an amazing blog for The Chronicle on how her competitive instinct got in the way of her results with High Times. Billy, as he is known, completed Rolex last year with Jen for the first time, and has already started his competition season on the west coast. Jen blogs about how she decided to really push for the results in dressage that she knew could happen, and her insistence on perfection completely backfired, but it opened her up to a new way of thinking about her relationship with Billy and the competition. [The Power of Perception: Taming the Dragon]

Nyls usually has good ground manners, but at competitions it’s basically his life goal to drag me everywhere, mostly in search of grass at inopportune times. He’s a little bit of the horse that the more you pull, the harder he pulls, and the more you up the ante by putting a chain or some other preventative gadget on him, the worse he acts. For years, I just swallowed my pride and let him drag me around, only occasionally feeling like a good horse mother. Then I discovered the Professional’s Choice rope halter, and bad leading habits disappeared! I can finally walk him around the barns and out to graze without having to fear looking like a kid skidding her heels against a fat shetland pony. #lifegoals [SmartPak Product of the Day]

Congrats to Kristen Forti, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie giveaway for a SaddleLockers prize pack! Please email jenni@eventingnation.com to claim your prize. Be sure to check out SaddleLockers’ full lineup of amazing tack trunks by clicking here. Congrats to Kristen, and check back Monday for the next Fab Freebie! [Fab Freebie]

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo submitted by EN reader Mari Heybroek.

Photo submitted by EN reader Mari Heybroek.

What’s that? You still think all thoroughbreds are crazy? Here is example one of a million that they aren’t: the above photo is EN reader Mari Heybroek with her 19 month old son, Oscar, riding a craaazzy thoroughbred! Oscar rode OTTB Chip in his very first show, in the trot poles class (although admittedly they mostly walked), and his mother hopes he will be an eventer when he grows up. Chip and Oscar were competing at a show organized by Skyline Eventing in efforts to raise money for a new cross country course in Mount Pleasant, Utah. A great cause for eventers out there, and future eventers too!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

MeadowCreek Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Ride Times]

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

Don’t forget to enter this week’s awesome Fab Freebie from SaddleLockers! Here’s your chance to win a prize pack of swag, courtesy of SaddleLockers, Ogilvy, and Higher Standards Leather Care. Entries close Friday at midnight EST and we’ll be announcing the winner in Friday’s News & Notes. [Fab Freebie: SaddleLockers]

Planning on competing at a CCI3* or CCI4* this spring? Don’t forget that you might be eligible for a Spring Grant from the USEF! Entries are due on FRIDAY, so if you want to go to Rolex, Jersey Fresh, Badminton, Saumur, Bromont, Bramham or Luhmuhlen this year, get your application in on time. [USEF Spring Grant Applications]

StartBox Scoring LLC is teaming up with the U.S. Pony Clubs to deliver even more awesome instant online scores. The new system will provide support for the Pony Club Team Competitions and Horse Management scoring, enabling all new live results for competitors, spectators and parents. Eventing is leading the way as the first discipline to incorporate the new integration, beginning in the July 2015 Pony Club East and West Championships. Dressage and Hunter/Jumper shows will be following in 2016. [Pony Club & StartBox Scoring: A Match Made in Heaven]

Just in time for their event this weekend, Copper Meadows has unveiled not one, but TWO new websites! The ever popular competition has been aching for a website makeover, and now it’s finally here. There’s not a lot of things more satisfying than an easily navigated website with all your competition information at the tip of your fingers. [Copper Meadows Official Sites]

 

Drooling with Charlotte DuJardin riding this young stallion Tørveslettens Fifty-Fifty….

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In Search Of A Unicorn That Never Rolls In Mud

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Ah, spring. The weather is slowly getting warmer, the mud is visible beneath the snow, and regular riding has recommenced for those of us not participating in the snowbird tradition. Spring is also a great time to buy a horse, and many get spring shopping fever, excited by the possibility of a new horse to go with the new year and the new competition season.

There is almost nothing more thrilling than the idea of finding “the one” that will take you to new heights and fulfill all your needs and become your best friend and confidante.

I was inspired to write this semi-serious post by none other than the Australian jokester, Kate Chadderton. She posted a status to Facebook a few days ago that went something like this:

ISO: experienced young horse with definite potential to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Must have excellent movement, clean and correct jump, as well as very brave. Ground covering, light gallop is another must. Will only look at geldings. CCI 3 star winners preferred although will look at horses with a high placing. Must be between 7-9 years old. Not fussy on color, although no paints, palominos, appaloosas. If grey must be very good at staying clean. Budget: looking to stay under $5000.

I got a giggle out of that, as will most of you. It seems absurd, and very exaggerated. However, after thought, it seems only a little crazy, and not far away from some requests that I’ve gotten before. I’m completely small fish in terms of selling horses and making matches, but even I’ve heard some ridiculous things.

Let’s get real — when buying a horse, your budget dictates how picky you can be, and that’s a bottom line. If you don’t have a limit to your budget, you can write down a list of every single characteristic you desire for your dream horse, and somebody, somewhere, will find it for you. But that’s not the case for most of us!

When spending thousands of dollars on a horse, you should definitely know what you want, and what suits you. You should also know what categories are most important to you.

Is color more important than temperament? Where are you willing to compromise? There will always be a compromise, unless you are a very, very lucky person.

So in order to be reasonable about expectations within a budget, let’s consider the categories that define value for a horse, or at least the major ones.

I propose these: age, height, sex, current and future soundness, natural athletic ability & style over fences, elasticity and movement on the flat, temperament, intelligence, rideability, professional versus amateur/junior suitable, color, ease of management, number of quirks, current level of training, and potential to be successful and competitive at any given level.

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Given those categories, the Unicorn is this: a 7 year old, 16.1 hand bay gelding with a blaze and four white socks, even temperament and good work ethic, winning at Preliminary with the ability to go to Rolex, rideable by a beginner but also desired by Boyd Martin for the Olympics.

It passed a vetting two weeks ago with not a single blip on his x-rays, tight and accurate style over fences as he chooses the perfect distance himself with no assistance, scores under a 25 every time out in dressage, has beautiful ground manners and requires only a scoop of grain and a few flakes of timothy hay per day.

If I just described what you’re looking for, God bless, and good luck.

The rest of us are left to compromise on our dream horse, and figure out what we can live with, and what we can improve. Part of this is knowing yourself as a rider, and having a realistic grasp on what is a good match for you in the long run.

Before you shop, know your style! Do you like a horse that is light off the aids, or one that forgives your swinging lower leg and mis-timed pull before a fence? Do you like the idea of a Ferrari but when you get one, it’s a bit frightening? This is my personal pet peeve.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: there is no shame in riding an average horse if that is what makes you comfortable and happy! Powerful and athletic horses, while beautiful and impressive, are harder to ride and usually require more from their rider. They aren’t for everybody.

When on a tight budget, it is very tempting to get a green horse that fulfills all the other categories except for the level of training. This is also not a good idea for every rider.

I can’t say that I disagree with the idea of a green horse and a green rider, because that would be hypocritical of me, but it’s got to be a very good match.

Green horses aren’t well behaved because they #wokeuplikethis, they are good because they are ridden consistently and with intentional purpose by a trainer and not just a rider.

I decided a while ago that there are three things I don’t compromise on, and the rest I’m pretty flexible about. I need the soundness and the solid build for longevity, I need an intelligent and reasonable brain, and I need a horse with decent obvious athletic ability.

Everything else in between, I can probably deal with. I don’t care what height it is, what color it is, if it bucks, if it’s unbroke, or what sex it is. I have preferences obviously, but when it comes down to it, I know my limits.

So if you’re shopping this spring, be realistic about what makes sense for you, your budget and your goals. As a seller of horses, my goal is to make the best match possible, and I think that’s true of most sellers. However, we can’t help you much if you want a Unicorn that won’t roll in the mud!

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

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It’s a good thing I get to ride a very, very cute baby OTTB every day, because walking up and down the plowed driveway is pretty dull stuff.

First FEI event of the year this weekend at Red Hills!! This is very exciting stuff, and I’m buried in fresh snow watching from afar as my friends and fellow competitors enjoy warmer but classically wet Red Hills weather. Has there been a Red Hills in memory without a flash flood storm? I think not. Dressage starts today, and Jenni Autry will be on the scene bringing you live action all weekend, so we can enjoy her new fancy camera and her always impeccable attention to fun and fascinating details.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Red Hills CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Ride Times] [Schedule] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

Oliver Townend has taken some time out of his busy riding schedule to weigh in on the issues of danger in Eventing. He proposes that we force stricter course design regulations, and include mandatory brush on fences that have unknown takeoff points, such as steps up or down. He also takes umbrage with the response to fatalities that he finds amongst some riders. Do you agree? [Oliver Townend on Eventing Safety]

Merial announced that they have acquired both Legend and Marquis from Bayer HealthCare. The addition of these two products to the Merial portfolio solidifies the company’s position as a leader in performance horse health care. Steve Mahoney, head of U.S. large animal, Merial says, “Legend and Marquis both have long histories of success and enhance our existing product offerings to all horse owners, whether they trail ride, compete locally or have stood in the winner’s circle on the national stage.” [Merial Acquires Legend and Marquis]

Do you have a Horse of a Different Color? One of the most wonderful aspects of this sport is its diversity, from ponies to draft horses and everything in between. Eventing Nation is looking for stories to feature in our “Horse of a Different Color” series! If you own or ride a horse or pony that has been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed, email lindsey@eventingnation.com.

Everyone likes to have fancy “show only” stuff that is a little unnecessary but also super pretty and fun to have. This leather lead with a brass snap is one of those things, and I’ve been coveting it for a while. How good would it look paired with a double stitched leather halter? Amazing is the answer. You can also get a custom brass nameplate to go with it. Bonus: it can also double as a “help my horse get into the start box on cross country” lead, which is something I’m well acquainted with. [Leather Lead with Solid Brass Snap]

Got a grey horse? Horse & Country is collecting “Fifty Shades of Grey”, so go here and submit a photo of your grey horse! [50 Shades]

And congratulations to Amanda Knutson, this week’s Fab Freebie winner! Amanda has won a pair of Ariat Lakeland H2O boots – a big thanks goes out to Ariat for providing this week’s fabulous prize. Make sure to check back Monday to enter to win next week’s freebie!

FLAIR Nasal Strips Master Class course walk: Rolex 2014 with Buck Davidson, Hawley Bennett and Ralph Hill. 

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Sinead Halpin and Grey Area prep for Red Hills. Photo courtesy of Sinead's FB. Sinead Halpin and Grey Area prep for Red Hills. Photo courtesy of Sinead's FB.

I’ll admit, I’m pretty jealous of Jenni Autry right now, who is down in Florida enjoying the 80 degrees and horse activities. Meanwhile, I’m back in VA and we have more snow predicted for today, followed by a week of nice weather, which basically means hot Virginia mud, and horses that cake themselves in puddles of muck. Thank god I don’t have any grey horses! Most of mine don’t even have white on them, which is a blessing in disguise. Otherwise I think I would go insane in the spring.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Red Hills CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Schedule]

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

Excitement is building for the 2nd Annual Cloud 11 ~Gavilan North LLC Carolina International, including the Eventing on the Red Carpet event. On the Saturday night of the event, CI will honor David O’Connor, J. Michael Plumb, Lefreda Williams and Jimmy Wofford and celebrating their profound effect on the sport of Eventing. The foursome will be recognized as Icons of the Sport. I was present at this party last year, and trust me, it’s not one you want to miss. [Evening on the Red Carpet] [Carolina International]

Giuseppe della Chiesa is back designing Badminton this year, and hoping for a slightly higher rate of success this spring. Last year only 32 horses made it to the final day, which was only 38.6% of the field, the lowest completion rate at the event on record. With 23 combinations eliminated between fences 13 and 18, the 2015 course will have made that specific area a little less challenging, and is running the course in the opposite direction. You can check out the interview with Giuseppe below in the video. [Badminton Design Changes for 2015]

Eventers competing at Barroca d’Alva in Portugal this weekend have decided to wear armbands honoring the memory of Francisco Seabra, who died in a cross country fall last month. The armbands are black, blue, and cream, and feature a silhouette of Francisco’s head with a helmet, and has the words “Faith” and “Smile” printed around that in four languages. The idea was created and promoted by the event organizers, who gave all the riders the armbands. [Riders Support Francisco Seabra]

Do you have a Horse of a Different Color? One of the most wonderful aspects of this sport is its diversity, from ponies to draft horses and everything in between. Eventing Nation is looking for stories to feature in our “Horse of a Different Color” series! If you own or ride a horse or pony that has been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed, email lindsey@eventingnation.com.

Well acquainted with the mischievous horse? You’ll love this. [13 Situations Your Horse Finds Funnier Than You]

An interview with Badminton course designer Giuseppe della Chiesa. 

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Product Review: Equiline Grip Bandages

Equiline Grip Bandages are designed to provide support while maintaining breathability. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Equiline Grip Bandages are designed to provide support while maintaining breathability. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As horse people and owners of equine athletes, we are positively bananas about our boots, wraps and bandages. I’ve never known a rider who didn’t harbor a secret obsession with accoutrements for the legs of their horse, and I am no different. I have boots for cross country, boots for hacking, boots for jumping, wraps for dressage, and wraps for the horse that rubs.

I’m always interested in the new technologies that are coming into the world of tack and accessories, so I was intrigued to try these Equiline Grip Bandages.

These bandages are designed to work the same way that polos would, as support bandages for training work with your horse. You can use them plain on the leg, as I did, or you can use them over an under-wrap, which provides extra protection and support for a horse that might be coming back from an injury or have an extremely unusually shaped leg.

If you have a horse with lots of splints or a horse coming back from a tendon injury, you know how important it is to find a good workout wrap that won’t chafe, but will also provide support. Here it is!

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a nice feel to them, with neoprene inside and a soft cloth on the outside, which comes in blue, black, brown and white, so you can customize it to your liking and to match the color of your horse.

The bandages are very lightweight, but do not mistake that to mean that they are not durable, because they have so far proved to be quite hardy. The light weight is advantageous though, because as we all know, you don’t want to be weighing your horse’s legs down any more than necessary when working them.

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a neoprene inside that doesn't rub the horse, and a lot of little holes that add to the breathability for the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a neoprene inside that doesn’t rub the horse, and a lot of little holes that add to the breathability for the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The coolest and most obvious feature of these bandages is the addition of tiny holes throughout the material. These holes are intended to increase breathability and circulation while on the horse. The bandages are made of stretchy material, but the holes do not make them weak in any way when stretched to roll them up or apply to the leg.

Equiline is known for their technology in fabrics, as the founder was originally involved in the fashion world before delving into the horse world. The Equiline Grip Bandages have benefitted from some of this knowledge, as they feature something called “graduate compression”.

This is a system that Equiline loves, and they consider the secret of well-being for the horses’ legs. The way that the bandages are constructed, and the way that the slight stretch works when applied to the leg offers a compression and support like no other bandage.

These bandages also shed water in a really effective way, so they officially become the first bandages that I can take on a hack and cross a river with! That is exciting to me, because there are many times that I want to do some flatwork followed by a hack, but can’t go anywhere muddy or with a water crossing because I’m wearing polos. I know this is a first world problem, but it’s an issue nonetheless, and I’m glad to have found a solution by wearing these Equiline Grip Bandages.

The Equiline Grip Bandages come in white, blue, brown or black, and look pretty stylish when applied. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The Equiline Grip Bandages come in white, blue, brown or black, and look pretty stylish when applied. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I used these bandages recently to do some trot sets in the snow, because that is all that I’m relegated to right now. Nyls, unfortunately, believes that one must high-step the entire time through the snow, which makes me pretty nervous for his tendon health, and I was looking to provide a little more protection and support than just using a brushing boot. These bandages worked great, and they didn’t hold any moisture from the snow at all!

They are also super easy to clean, and you can brush all the dirt or hair off them with a stiff brush, and even squirt them off and they dry in a cinch.

As previously mentioned, the bandages come in navy blue, black, brown and white. They usually retail at around $33.00 and you can find them at a variety of U.S. dealers for Equiline products.

The Working Student Diaries: Bradley Champagne Joins Team Windurra

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a working student for a top level eventing barn? The grueling hours, the non-stop learning curve, and the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from the best. We are delighted to introduce our newest series, The Working Student Diaries, in which we reveal the truth behind the experience from a first hand source. If you weren’t ever able to be a working student, or if you’re thinking about becoming one in the future, now is your chance to get the low-down, and we hope you enjoy it!

Bradley enjoying some winter hacks before the spring season with Boyd's Advanced horse trot set. Brad is on Neville on the far left. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Bradley enjoying some winter hacks before the spring season with Boyd’s Advanced horse trot set. Brad is on Neville on the far left. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Bradley Champagne is a 20-year-old aspiring professional eventer who hails from Guelph, Ontario and currently competes his horse C Taz Go at the Preliminary level. He took a chance on applying for a working student position at Windurra with Boyd Martin and was pleasantly surprised to receive an offer last summer. In late September, Bradley began his work for Boyd and has enjoyed it thus far. I asked him to give us a little intro into his riding career and life, so that we can get to know both him and Taz as we go forward with the series.

From Bradley:

My mom had been involved with horses long before I was born so I was immediately put into the “horse world.” I remember stories of me in a baby carrier on my mom’s back while she was hacking and me falling asleep. This definitely gave me the ability to sleep anywhere! Over the next few years I took lessons at a local farm. When I was six, I got a little, black New Forest/Welsh pony named Ace. Although he was your typical little pony who I got bucked off more times than I could count, he gave me the passion for riding.

When my mom heard about a three-day eventing clinic at the Caledon Hunt Club in Caledon, Ontario, I took little Ace. I can remember the dressage not really being qualified as dressage, but when we got out on that cross-country course we both fell in love with eventing. The coach for this portion was Ann Morgan, and Ace and I quickly got the nickname “cross-country machine.”

Just over two years ago I began the search for a horse that could have the potential to at least go Training, having competed through Novice previously. After spending a summer looking for this horse my mom and I purchased a 9-year-old Thoroughbred/Westphalian gelding named Taz. For a horse who had hacked until age 5 it was sort of a shot in the dark, but after I jumped him over an oxer during the first trial I got that “knowing” feeling.

He was purchased a few days later on August 31. In late September we did a small local Beginner Novice event and a Novice event a few weeks later. We upgraded to Training part way through the next season and finished our season with our first win. After going down to Florida with Karl Slezak Eventing that winter we gained a lot of confidence at the Training level. Once we returned back to Canada, we won a Training and upgraded to Preliminary.

In October of 2013 I was working for Karl Slezak in Canada and spent January through April in Ocala, Florida with him. In early April I started looking for the “next level” of working student positions. When I got a message about Boyd Martin having a position available I thought “can’t hurt emailing.” I have to admit I was surprised but extremely excited when I got offered a position. I felt like I needed to compete in a few more Preliminary events in Canada before I made the move to Pennsylvania.

Bradley & Taz competing in Canada. Photo courtesy of Suzanna O'Connor.

Bradley & Taz competing in Canada. Photo courtesy of Suzanna O’Connor.

In late September of last year, I began at Windurra. I’m hoping to stay with Boyd for as long as I can because Taz and I have already improved more than I could have imagined. Besides improving as a rider, I have started to also gain knowledge about going from a rider to an athlete such as building your name, getting sponsors, managing your horse and managing a four-star level facility.

When I got to Boyd’s, my biggest weakness in eventing was show jumping. Taz isn’t the most careful jumper but we just had to figure each other out. Once we did, we slowly started to improve. Since we arrived in Aiken we really have improved in all three phases.

Having a detailed plan for the 2015 season really helped me get more determined and focused on improving and making the little things in my riding (leg and hand position) a priority to make a more smooth overall picture. For 2015 Taz and I are hoping to complete a CIC* event once we are back in Pennsylvania then travel to Bromont for their CCI*. For the longer term goal of 2015, we are hoping for an upgrade to Intermediate as a season conclusion.

Having goals for your competition year is important, but having goals for your long-term eventing career is equally important. I am like many younger eventers who dream of riding for their country at an international level, and being at Boyd’s has allowed me to turn this dream into a goal.

I am super excited to be a part of the Eventing Nation family, and I already have some awesome future blogs planned! Stay tuned for more insight into the Windurra Team and my journey with them!