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

Update from Fair Hill & CIC3* Course Walk

Phillip Dutton riding Boyd's Shamwari 4 to lead the Fair Hill CIC3* dressage. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Phillip Dutton riding Boyd’s Shamwari 4 to lead the Fair Hill CIC3* dressage. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The Fair Hill CIC3* is well underway, as you all know from Jenni’s score update from yesterday. While this FEI event is not filled with the same group of competitors heading to Rolex due to the timing, it’s still a great competition and the courses look tough this year.

While there are only fifteen competitors in the CIC3* this weekend, there are quite a few notable pairs. Phillip Dutton, who is filling in for Boyd Martin this weekend, rode Shamwari 4 to a winning dressage score of 43.4. This horse is such a lovely mover and type in the ring that he’s almost a dead cert for a great score, and today was no difference. Sharon White and Under Suspection were another pair with a great day in the dressage ring, garnering a 43.8 to closely follow Phillip. Kurt Martin, who is riding Anna Bella in her second CIC3* (and only 3rd Advanced level competition) got a 46.5 to round out the top three.

The show jumping was quite twisty and definitely tested your ability to jump, half halt, and turn on a dime. Clean rounds were rare, with leaders Phillip and Shammie felling two rails to fall to 3rd, and Kurt and Anna rising to the top with one of only three clear rounds. While the course was not huge by any means, the distances were tight and the turns were crucial, making it a challenging course. The warm-up at Fair Hill is also extremely small, which I think influences a lot of people in the way that they prepare, and it’s not always the easiest to get a good rhythm going in that arena.

The coffin at 6

The coffin at 6

The CIC3* has cross country this morning, bright and early. The course is a lot larger than usual, as this is ordinarily considered a good confidence building course for horses who are not prepared for the likes of The Fork. It hits you strong at fence four, which is a large double brush table to an equally large and skinny brush corner (see the photo with my head poking out the other side), and goes on to really test you at 6abcd, the coffin that is bound to catch some pairs out early on. There are four corners on course, and every combination without a corner involves jumping a skinny or an angled wide fence, so there is really no let up anywhere. The footing is great due to some recent rain, and the weather will be prime for the horses tomorrow morning. Here’s to some great rounds!

[Live Scores]

Thursday Reader from Devoucoux

Every year I post this meme, and every year I hope I can go back and say it was an ironic posting.

Every year I post this meme, and every year I hope I can go back and say it was an ironic posting.

Folks, we’ve entered the Final Countdown. This time next week, you’ll be watching the very first competitors in the 2014 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* Event canter down the centerline. You’ll be trying to figure out ways to skip work and watch it. You’ll be in the stands witnessing it first hand. You’ll be driving madly to get there for the EN Tailgate party on Saturday. You’ll be secretly watching it on your phone under the table while in class. For those of you who are entered next week, I’m holding my breath for you, and crossing all my fingers and toes for my friends on the entry list!

Don’t forget to hop on Pinterest and create your own perfect Dubarry Rolex outfit and submit it to win yourself a pair of brand spanking new Dubarry boots! [Pin It To Win It]

Events This Weekend:

Holly Hill Spring H.T. [Website]

Fair Hill International H.T. [Website] [Ride Times]

River Glen Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Sporting Days Farm H.T. [Website]

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

Congrats to Kassidy Smith, the winner of the two four-day passes to Rolex courtesy of Laura Millerick. Kassidy rummaged around in her tack box to put a fun, patriotic spin on the EN logo, and readers voted her the winner. Kassidy is a plein air painter and will be taking her supplies with her to Rolex, so hopefully we’ll get to see some EN/Rolex inspired art! [Contest Entries]

Speaking of Rolex, did you know about the Rolex app? True story. You can get the app for you iPhone or Android smartphone, and it has all the amenities you might want, including course walks, live scores, time tables, maps of the park, and info on the trade fair vendors! If you’re going to Rolex, you gotta get the app. [Rolex Kentucky App]

Did you see the tour of the new Badminton cross country course? If you’ve got a spare 24 minutes, it’s totally worth it to check it out. Hugh Thomas has designed the course for the past 25 years (!) but this year there is a new designer: Giuseppe Della Chiesa and his style is all different. There are lots of big changes to the classic combinations, and the flow is a bit different this year. [Badminton Course Revealed]

Losing Headley Britannia  this month was truly a blow to everyone in the Eventing world, as she inspired many. Lucinda Fredericks shared with Horse & Hound her top six most favorite memories with Little Brit, including her brilliant win of the 2009 Rolex Kentucky CCI4*. Get out the tissues, this one’s a tear jerker. [Lucinda's Favorite Brit Moments]

Fifteen signs you’re a horse addict: Last Valentine’s Day, your loved one bought you a super-duper wheelbarrow (a gift you count as one of the best you’ve ever received) [You Know That's Happened To You]

 

 

 

devoucoux

Striking The Perfect Balance

Galloping at Carolina International. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Galloping at Carolina International. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Eventing is a tough sport for both horses and riders and equally as difficult mentally as it is physically. It’s a sport that stretches you to the limits and then asks you for more. When you think you’re on top of the world, there’s only one way to go, and eventing is here to remind you that it’s not up. There is no perfect formula for success, no mathematical equation that produces a string of blue ribbons and no book that can illuminate everything that goes on inside William Fox-Pitt’s mind.

To me, one of the most alluring and simultaneously frustrating things about our sport is that a lot of success relies on gut reactions and intangible feelings. Surely, this is apparent when it comes to cross-country riding and is certainly one of the reasons that we so admire those of us who are proficient in that phase. The same could be said of dressage, where riders who excel there seem to have an impossibly accurate sense of every part of their horse’s body and an even more enviable ability to control those parts.

Apart from the actual act of competing, however, a larger part of success is the process of getting there and then staying there. This is an even more elusive set of skills, as almost everybody has different training methods, different fitness regimes and certainly different superstitions. Veterinary attention, farrier practices and feeding schedules are all part of the grander picture, and there is no perfect answer.

Advanced at Pine Top. Photo by Carrie Meehan.

Advanced at Pine Top. Photo by Carrie Meehan.

So the question is, with all the possibilities and all the input from different sources, how in the world do you decide what is the best path to success for you and your horse? Here are a few of the small variables at your fingertips: Who do you train with for dressage/show jumping/cross country? How do you tell what kind of fitness regime and/or gallop sets are best for your horse and his level? How many days a week do you practice dressage? Or jump? What kind of jumping exercises are useful for you at this moment? What should you feed your horse, and how much? Who should you trust to look after him every day? Who do you choose to trust with your veterinary decisions? How far are you willing to go with medical procedures? Who shoes your horse? When should you have a lesson? Are you ready for this level? The next level?

Alas, I have no answer for you. Through education, experience and sometimes trial and error, we all find our way eventually and develop our own definition of success. We take pieces of expertise that we find along the way from riders far better than us and compile them into a new solution to the problem.

This is what makes eventing one of the most challenging sports in the world. Yes, the physical requirements are great, and without mental strength and tenacity you won’t survive, but the ability to create a personalized system for each horse that incorporates all the variables and equals success is the true challenge. This is what makes the rare win at a competition even more valuable and admirable and what makes us look up to people who have been able to replicate success over and over on a multitude of mounts. To be able to strike the perfect balance between all of the competing factors in creating a successful horse is the real test of our sport, and what makes us come back for more every day.

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Ocala International Winners

An exciting weekend at Ocala International is now behind us, and believe it or not that signifies the end of the spring season for many horses! So soon? It just stopped snowing! The competition was fierce, but we saw not one, but two wire-to-wire wins by both Michael Pollard and Julie Richards in the CCI2* and the CCI*-A. Jessica Phoenix moved up from second place to take the win on Bentley’s Best in the CCI*-B division, but sadly we did not get video of her performance. Lucky for us, The Horse Pesterer was on the scene all weekend (be sure to check out his page for more awesome videos), but sadly for him, we haven’t put him on salary yet and he’s still just doing it out of the goodness of his heart.

Tredstep

Want To Groom The Queen’s Horses? Here Is Your Chance!

The Queen of England escorted by Ronal Reagan in 1982. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The Queen of England escorted by Ronald Reagan in 1982. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from; at some point, you’ve probably fantasized about working in the Queen’s stables. All those beautiful, perfectly manicured horses and picturesque riding facilities … it’s certainly alluring. Good news for those of you who are currently looking for a job — the Royal Household is hiring a new groom for the Royal Mews at Windsor Castle!

For the right person, the job is 48 hours a week filled with cleaning the stables and exercising the Queen’s horses. While being a capable horse rider and handler is important, also included in the skill list is the ability to bow or curtsy to the Queen herself, as she visits the Mews frequently.

While the salary is not wildly enticing at only £20,000 a year, you do get to live in the beautiful surroundings of Windsor Castle in Berkshire. If anybody is interested in the job, or in fact the job description, you can apply with just the click of a button!

[Apply To Work For The Queen's Horses Here]

Thursday Reader from Devoucoux

Just another day chez Samuels: smiling classes! Just another day chez Samuels: smiling classes!

Happy Thursday, Eventing Nation! We’ll have our eye on all the action at Ocala Horse Properties and Twin Rivers this weekend, where key pairs are getting in some final runs before Rolex. Twelve horses are entered in the Advanced combined test in Ocala, including Rolex-bound pairs Michael Pollard and Mensa, Jon Holling and Zatopek B, Dana Widstrand and Relentless Pursuit, Buck Davidson and Park Trader, and Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken. Keep it locked on EN all weekend!

Events This Weekend:

Twin Rivers HT:  [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Plantation Field HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Times]

Ocala Horse Properties International 3-Day Event [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

FENCE H.T. [Website]

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

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

News From Around The Globe:

Liz Halliday-Sharp with HHS Cooley and Doug Payne with Crown Talisman have been awarded Land Rover competition grants for the Saumur CCI3*, May 22-25. Both horses completed their first CCI3* last fall and had very strong springs, making them good choices for the grant. [USEF]

Tredstep Ireland + Eventing Nation + Rolex Kentucky = Pure Magic. The EN cross country tailgate is going to be bigger and better than ever this year, with the help of Tredstep Ireland. Both EN and Tredstep will have swag available, raffles for winning awesome stuff from both parties, and even the chance to win the new Da Vinci Stretch tall boots! Did I hear rumors of a dunk tank too?? Hmmm…..[Party In The Middle]

Sadly, Hickstead’s Eventing Grand Prix has been cancelled this year. The annual event where show jumpers and eventers alike take on a derby course of some of Hickstead’s most famous obstacles is not happening this year because riders are required to go outside of the main arena to complete the course, and spectators inside would be unable to follow the action. The Hickstead Eventing Grand Prix has been won by the likes of Pippa Funnell, Michael Whitaker, Andrew Nicholson, and Lucinda Fredericks. [Hickstead Eventing Grand Prix Cancelled]

Sometimes horses have crazy markings, and you think it’s all photoshopped. And then again, sometimes nature just goes wild with the paintbrush and gives you a magical looking horse. Have you ever seen a black horse with a white tail? Yep, they’ve got one of those here. Check out Horse & Hound’s list of 21 horses you’ll have to see to believe. [21 Fake Looking Horses]

Help Young Rider Sarah Braun with the cost of her Young Rider mount’s colic surgery. Sarah’s mount Candy, who carried her to a team gold medal at the NAJYRC, underwent colic surgery on March 1. Sarah’s insurance is only covering a portion of the costs, and she is seeking donations to help her cover some of Candy’s remaining expenses. Best wishes to Candy and Sarah as they go through the recovery and rehab process together. [Candy's Surgery Fundraiser]

devoucoux

Top Five Reasons Why Wearing EN Gear Makes You Awesome

HOW COOL IS THIS SHIRT?!

HOW COOL IS THIS SHIRT?!

If you haven’t visited the EN Store yet, I don’t even know how to deal with you right now. I know our selection is small, but I assure you that it’s because we believe in quality, not quantity. We’re keeping it simple for now, and I took it upon myself to buy one of everything and take the clothes on test rides (ha! look at that pun!). Here are my findings on why you should follow my lead.

[Eventing Nation Store]

  1. All of the proceeds from the EN Store go directly to CANTER Mid-Atlantic. What’s that you say? You want to wear clothes that directly benefit a charity that you care about personally? Yeah, we got you on that one. We take none of the profits, but instead donate it to bettering the lives of thousands of Thoroughbreds that are aided by CANTER every day.
  2. The Insanity In The Middle t-shirt is actually the most comfortable material I’ve ever felt. You know that one shirt that you’ve had for most of your life, and it’s so incredibly soft that you just can’t bear to throw it away, even though it has more than a few holes? These shirts are made with that feeling in mind, except without the holes. Bonus: if you hate doing laundry like me, you can throw that puppy in there with anything and it will come out good as new, even after you leave it in a pile for a while. All Dapplebay designed shirts are like that: score!
  3. The sign of an experienced rider is a worn, greasy, curved-billed baseball cap. The sign of an awesome Eventing Nation enthusiast who also has style is an EN hat or cadet cap, with it’s due dirt and grease, of course.
  4. The best way to look professional and awesome this summer? The “Go Eventing” polo shirt. I have now worn this shirt to schooling shows, to lessons with riders who know way more than I do and to the tack store. Literally everyone has asked me, “WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME AND WHERE DO I BUY THAT SHIRT?!” Bonus: it’s made of sweat-wicking material.
  5. If you’re looking for another way to subtly announce to the world that you’re an eventing freak disguised as a normal human being, get yourself an EN sticker. Put it on your car so people at the grocery store will know. Put it on your truck, just in case they think you’re a girl with a big toy. Put it on your motorbike, so you can look extra awesome zooming around the show grounds. Put it on your computer, so you can reveal your true identity to passers-by in the library or coffee house. Stick it on your friend’s head while they’re sleeping … the possibilities are endless!
I know, my belt is too high. It obviously ends with "...in the middle"

I know, my belt is too high. It obviously ends with “…in the middle”

Go Shopping! [Eventing Nation Store]

Alex Green Withdraws Fernhill Cubalawn from Rolex

Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn at The Fork in 2013. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn at The Fork in 2013. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sadly, Alex Green announced today that she will be withdrawing Fernhill Cubalawn “Cuba” from Rolex this spring. We recently featured them in our Rolex Rookies series, and this would have been the young horse and rider’s debut at the CCI4* level. We are all disappointed to not be able to watch them get a crack at the course. However, Alex and her horse had a slighly scary fall at The Fork this past weekend, where Cuba slammed on the breaks and slipped badly into 21c, the angled brush and mound complex. Due to this happening, Alex has made the understandable and conscientious decision to withdraw from Rolex. We hope to see them rebound for Rolex 2015!

From Alex’s Facebook Page:

“Unfortunately due to our parting of ways at The Fork, Cuba and I will be sitting Rolex out this year since we will not be able to get a confident run in before Kentucky. Luckily the big man came home sound and happy from our mishap and will still be out and about this spring getting our groove back! Best of luck to all the other riders this year, wishing everyone some safe and great rides!!”

[Rolex Entry List]

Owner Spotlight: Jane Dudinsky

Event horse owners are one of the lifelines of the horse industry. Without the generosity of these people, we would not be privileged to see some of the greatest horses we have ever seen compete. It is only necessary, then, that we pay proper homage to these owners who continue to support the sport. We are happy to introduce a new series that will spotlight some of the owners throughout the eventing world. We begin our series with Jane Dudinsky, who currently owns horses for the likes of Doug Payne and Kate Samuels. Many thanks to Jane for taking the time to share her experience with us. If you or someone you know would be a good subject for this series, please tip us at sally@eventingnation.com

Doug Payne & Jane Dudinsky's homebred gelding, Cellar Door. Photo by Sally Spickard. Doug Payne & Jane Dudinsky's homebred gelding, Cellar Door. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Owners and supporters of Eventing are what make our little world go around, and without them we would be left without a leg to stand on. Often times I find myself wondering, what makes for a great owner? Where do they find their joy, and what draws them to our sport? Jane Dudinsky has been supporting Eventing and professional riders for several decades now, and her love of the sport has only grown throughout the year. She is also an avid breeder, and derives much of her enjoyment from creating star athletes from scratch. She watches them grow up in her back yard and sees them progress to many levels of competition under professional guidance. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions recently about how she started and what her program is like, and the story is wonderful.

Kate:  How did you get started riding horses? What drew you to them?

Jane: It was a little girl thing. There was something compelling about them, but I can’t say what it was.  The obsession started early on, but we lived in Baltimore and there was no question of my having a horse. My mother was afraid of them and my father was from a strict German family that didn’t indulge in such nonsense.  I found out eventually that my father’s family had been saddlers in Germany as far back as the 1600s, and probably for centuries before then.  They were saddlers, a father and eight sons (one of whom was my great grandfather) when they immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1870s.  My grandfather made the necessary transition from horses to cars, but he sometimes talked about the carriages he had driven in his youth.  He ended up as a car dealer.  But I guess the horses were in my blood all along.

In the summers, we stayed at my grandmother’s beach house on the Severn River.  Grandmother made all the rules, one of which was that we were not allowed to visit the farm at the end of the road because the people there were known to be eccentric.  But it happened that two retired horses lived there:  the daughter’s cantankerous old pony and the mother’s big dark bay Thoroughbred named Rex.  Rex was retired with heaves and was said to be wild and dangerous.  We were not allowed to ride him under any circumstances, meaning I could only get on him in the pasture when the mother was out of sight.  Rex meandered around with me on his back, with no tack whatsoever, but he was quite slippery and I fell off a lot.  Falling off was fun back then.  I was smitten with Rex, and I discovered that the big so-called wild horse liked to be groomed and petted and fussed over, and he even seemed to like me.  I remember him as big, dark, warm, and kind.  I even liked the clouds of dust that blew off when I brushed him, even though “dust” is an affront to our German principles.  I think Rex grew to love me, and I to this day can still feel how much I loved him.

Then came high school, college, grad school, and Rex was forgotten.

When I was 25, I married a Fenwick in Baltimore.  He said he was the only Fenwick who had never worn silks.  I had no idea what he meant by “silks,” but I did know that “Fenwick” meant “horses.”  That started the horse obsession all over again.

Kate: Where did your passion for breeding come from? Why Holsteiners?

Jane: I didn’t get a horse of my very own until I was 25.  He was a Thoroughbred that I named “Veery.”  He was 15.1 and fiery hot — much more horse than I could ever ride, but he was kind.  In spite of his temperament and my ineptitude, I stuck with him.  I think he must have taken pity on me because I fell off him only 3 times in the 20 years that we were together, and it had nothing to do with my skill as a rider.  With Veery, I started getting around in the horse world.  One morning I went to the barn and found, in the stall directly across from Veery, a mare and newborn foal.   The placenta had not yet dropped.  I was horrified by the placenta but mesmerized by the foal.  I watched the mother and baby most of the day and decided that I must have a mare and foal of my own.  I wanted baby horses.

Breeding became my dream, and I wanted someday to be able to call myself as a breeder, but it was 5 years before I could afford my first mare, much less my first stud fee.  I had been seeing breeds called Warmbloods in the magazines.  At my barn, they were referred to as “dumb-bloods”.  One day at a show I saw two different-looking horses standing at the end of the ring.  I had never noticed horses like them before, other than in pictures:  tall, slender and very dark, with an almost aristocratic presence.  I ran to find out what kind of horses these might be.  They were Holsteiners.  I vaguely recognized the word.

As it turned out, I began not with a Holsteiner but with a Hanoverian stallion, simply because I was dumbstruck by his beauty, grace, and loads of “presence.”  I had not yet realized that temperament was another trait that ought to be considered.   I had notions of riding my young horses myself, being ignorant of the fact that they would grow to be impossibly big and spooky.  Only after the first few injuries did I realize that somebody else would have to do the riding and training.  I should have known that something was amiss when the big stallion with presence reared and jerked his lead shank away, then launched a kick at nobody in particular.

I began looking for another stallion, and looked and looked and looked, but nothing passed the “dumbstruck” test.  I was ready to give up for the year when my vet mentioned that there was a German lady who had just moved to the area with a nice black stallion.  The lady was Liselotte Wiendieck and the stallion Merano, a Holsteiner.  Merano took my breath away.  On the evening that I first saw him a thunderstorm was moving in.  They brought the stallion out but had to be quick about it because of the storm.  I got only a glimpse, but I knew that he was brilliant and I was dazzled.  The next day, I returned to see his babies because Liselotte said you need to see the offspring before you breed to the stallion.  (I add now that you also need to see the competition records.)  She took me out to the “baby” fields, the mare and foal field, the yearling field, and the 2-year-old field, to meet the family. I was a bit nervous about walking into a herd of young horses, but they were quite curious and so very gentle!  There was one yearling who so clearly admired himself that he was continually jumping out of his field to be with the two-year olds.  That’s when it dawned on me that Holsteiners could jump.

After my first Holsteiner foal was born, Liselotte said I ought to take him to the breeding-stock approvals and “present” him.  This was a new concept.  I hardly knew what she was talking about, but I did it and the little colt won a medal.  Liselotte said that we had made a good match, her stallion and my mare.

Jane's other competing homebred, Absaluut Annabelle, displays great boldness on cross country! Photo by Hoof Clix Photography.

Jane’s other competing homebred, Absaluut Annabelle, displays great boldness on cross country! Photo by Hoof Clix Photography.

Kate:  How did you get into the sport of 3-Day Eventing? What inspired you to support the sport?

Jane: I first became acquainted with broken bones and wrenched soft tissues when I became acquainted with young warmbloods.  As I was a frequent inmate at the emergency room, it was becoming clear that somebody else would have to do the riding and training.  I had a few on-again off-again trainers until a friend located a talented trainer and virtually hired her for me behind my back.  She was twenty-one.  I was leery.  But this was a self-disciplined and hard-working twenty-one year old, my friend assured me.  The girl was Emily Beshear.  She said she was an eventer, but I took little notice because we had so very many training problems to solve.  Later, Emily asked me if I would mind if she took some of our horses to an “event.”  I didn’t quite know what she had in mind, but I said yes, go ahead.  Emily left with 4 horses and returned with 4 blue ribbons.  That’s when we got started.

Kate: What are some of your favorite memories and best success stories with your horses in Eventing?

Jane: My favorite memory has to be the first time I saw that our horses had some promise, when we entered two fillies into the performance test at the Holsteiner Breeding Stock Approvals.  The performance test is optional, and undertaken in addition to the presentation for breeding suitability.  Few breeders do it because they are breeders, just that, not trainers.  It’s a simple dressage test followed by eight little jumps. Our little girls both nailed it with ease, got top scores and endless accolades.  Liselotte whispered to me that this girl, meaning Emily, had a gift.  I’m not sure if it was Emily or the fillies or both, but we knew we had something going.

It is much harder to choose just one favorite success story! My silver tray, engraved 1984 Hunter Breeding Champion, won at the county fair.   Kalliope, my first event mare, winning national horse-of-the-year awards twice.  The Eastern DeBroke.  The Area II year-end Championships.  Seeing my babies always in the leaderboads, especially in the Top Ten Mares in the US.  Real silver prizes.  Racks upon racks of blue ribbons.  The big ribbons that they hang around your horse’s neck.  Selling a baby that didn’t want to event but liked to jump, and seeing him win $25,000 the next year.  Sneaking up and eavesdropping on Jimmy Wofford and Sally O’Connor talking about my horses. All of these things!

Kate: How long have you been working with horses? Involved with Eventing?

Jane: I can’t say when it ceased being play and started being work, but about 40 years.  In Eventing, about 17 years.

Kate: What is your favorite part of being a competition horse owner and breeder?

Jane: It’s the excitement, for one thing. When one of the babies is on course, I get so nervous that I can’t stand it, but when it’s over I can’t wait to do it again.  It’s the combination really, watching them grow and morph from newborns taking their first teeter-totter steps to wonderful creatures like Rex galloping their hearts out with world-class riders on their backs.

In Defense Of The Sport

Will Coleman and Conair. Photo by Jenni Autry. Will Coleman and Conair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

In times of seemingly senseless tragedy, it is very easy to seek a spot to lay the blame. As humans, we are taught from the beginning that most everything has a rhyme and a reason, and we also like to believe that we are mostly in control of our environments. In equestrian sports, when something horrific happens, there are many people who instantly look for an answer, a reason, and a responsible party. Is it the fault of the rider or the trainer? Was it due to the design of the fence, and thus the course designer? Is the problem more deeply ingrained, and can we blame the governing officials of the sport as a whole? Are we as a community asking the impossible and therefore leading our horses into unduly risky situations?

In general, there are very few people who are brave enough to lay blame with the rider. There are assuredly some people who privately think that some fault is with the jockey, but I absolutely dare them to voice those opinions publicly. I also dare them to spend even an afternoon in the stable of an upper level eventing barn, and I defy you to find people who are more emotionally attached to their mounts, or people who are more attuned to the needs of their highly valued athletes. The grooms and riders of these horses know every single detail about their horses, and nothing is left to chance when it comes to their health and safety. They are prized for their athletic gifts, for their distinct personalities, and loved beyond all belief. If, in fact, you somehow disagree with me, then I assert that you do not know what you’re talking about.

For those who look towards the dangers of cross country to find a villain, I question that you have ever really ridden cross country. Of course there is an element of danger, but have you ever really tried to force a horse to jump something that he or she did not entertain in the slightest? Scare tactics may get you to a certain point, but I assure you that the horses that compete at the top levels of our sport LOVE IT as much as their riders, and even maybe a bit more. They are highly intelligent animals, trained to respond to different cues and stimuli in appropriate ways. When 99% of the time the cross country courses are well received and safely ridden by riders and their horses, you cannot scientifically point to the 1% of mistakes made, and assert that cross country as a whole is evil.

And finally, to those who claim that it is the sport of Eventing that is to blame for the tragedies we have seen lately, I bring you my final argument. To condemn our sport as wildly unsafe, cruel, or outside the realms of possibility for an equine athlete is to imply that we riders knowingly put our horses at great risk. If you are suggesting that all of the riders at the upper levels are consciously harming our horses, then I can only assume that you have never met an event rider.

Our sport is the safest it has been in history, with the advent of frangible pin technology and the usage of inflatable vests for the riders. Our courses are designed to challenge the teams, but are always open to review from riders. They are designed so that the horses can read them correctly, and are able to understand the questions asked of them. I defy you to watch a video of Eventing 30 years ago and tell me that the same could be said of those courses. There is nobody, absolutely nobody, involved in our sport in any way that wishes to do anything but decrease the amount of accidents incurred while competing.

There will always be a certain amount of risk in anything that we do with horses, after all, the pure physics of interacting with a several-hundred-pound animal should tell you that from the outset. However, to decry the sport itself is both insensitive and poorly educated. No, the long format is not coming back, no matter how many people complain to one another on the internet. There is not a single rider who has experienced their horse dying who will blame the sport, and to sit on the sidelines and point fingers is an activity that only serves to garner meaningless chatter on social media outlets. Sometimes, tragedies befall us for no reason, and all we can do is gather together and support those who were most deeply affected. What makes Eventing special in part is the understanding and limitless love from our fellow competitors and enthusiasts, and we should not waste a moment forgetting that. 

Thursday Reader from Devoucoux

Here's to hoping this scene stays mud free all weekend!

Here’s to hoping this scene stays mud free all weekend!

As our second favorite event in April, and most favorite event named after a dining utensil, we are excited to announce that it’s officially Fork Week. The scene is set, the horses are all there, the Rolex contenders are lining up, and we have our Jenni-bot on the scene, needing only coffee in the AM and beer in the PM to keep her typing away, bringing you on the scene updates. If anybody has a therapeutic back brace they can drop off at the press tent, you might want to do that, because I think she might be giving herself problems hunched over a computer so much.

Special note: if you’re at The Fork today, be sure to follow the pig signs tonight for the third annual pig roast party, starting at 6:30 and only a short walk away from the stables!

If you missed my preview of the CIC3*, check it out here:

[Part I] [Part II]

Events This Weekend:

The Fork HT:  [Website] [Live Scores] [Ride Times] [Facebook Page]

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

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

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

News From Around the Globe:

If there is anything we can all bond about, it’s mystery lameness. U.S. Eventing team veterinarian Dr. Mark Revenaugh of Northwest Equine Performance is doing a three part series on The Horse sharing some of his most interesting and challenging mystery lameness cases. Not only can we all sympathize, but it’s incredibly educational and interesting to watch Dr. Revenaugh at work! [Mystery Lameness Part One]

The British Team has announced the four riders going to the Nations Cup, including one fresh faced member. Nicky Roncoroni on Stonehenge, Lucy Wiegersma on Mr Chunky, Izzy Taylor on Allercombe Ellie and new member Rosalind Canter on Zensherra. This will be Ros’ first time on the British Squad. All I can think about is when she was little, did her instructor yell, “Canter, Ros Canter!”? [British Nations Cup Team]

Are you ready for the Grand National? By far my most favorite race to watch (unless there is a possible Triple Crown happening and I’m glued to the screen watching the Belmont), the Grand National is upcoming this month. Did you know that the fastest time recorded was in 1990, when Mr Frisk zoomed around in 8 minutes 48.7 seconds? Or that the oldest horse in the field this year is Tidal Bay at 13 years young? [Grand National in Numbers]

A nice big topline and a well formed neck is something we all strive for with our horses, but what if it’s just fat that’s fooling you? Even a normal competition horse could have a cresty neck that is masquerading as a topline. You can do the jiggle and shake test, because muscle feels different than fat, and if you find a cresty neck, it’s diet time. [Muscle or Crest?]

Best of Blogs: Meaghan Says Goodbye to Ruthie

devoucoux

The Fork CIC3* Preview: Part Two

Kurt Martin and Anna Bella at Fair Hill CCI2*. Photo by Jenni Autry. Kurt Martin and Anna Bella at Fair Hill CCI2*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

If you haven’t noticed already, today is the beginning of Fork Madness (which follows March Madness, obviously), and I brought you part one of the CIC3* preview earlier today. The division is huge this year, with 57 horse and rider pairs contesting the tough course and duking it out in the dressage arena. The Fork is known for it’s challenging cross country, and it’s one of the best places to get a glimpse of horses heading to Rolex, and most riders use it as their last prep event. A round here can really make or break many Rolex rookies, and it just means that it’s all the more exciting for spectators. Let’s check out the rest of the entries.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter: As reigning 2013 USEA Horse of the Year (and Mare of the Year!) and recent Carolina International CIC3* champion, Demi has certainly impressed a lot of people. This mare is incredible, with great style through all three phases. She looked super a few weeks ago at the Carolina International, and Marilyn always goes for time on cross country, so these two will easily be in the top 10 here at The Fork on their road to Rolex.

Marilyn Little & RF Smoke on the Water: Marilyn’s less experienced mount is nonetheless a good competitor, and despite an inconsistent spring last year, he came out for his first show in over six months at the Carolina International CIC3* a few weeks ago and did quite well, finishing in 8th place. They were almost champions here last year until a run out at a cheese wedge late in the course, so I’m sure Marilyn will be taking her time at the cheese this year! This horse should be competitive in this field, as she’s aiming him at his first CCI4* at Rolex in a few weeks.

Kurt Martin & Anna Bella: An EN favorite, this mare was talent scouted by us early last year, and she’s continued to improve, placing sixth last year at Fair Hill CCI2*. She just moved up to the Advanced level at the Carolina International HT, jumping around cleanly. This will be her first time at the three-star level, and she’s a phenomenal jumper, so I expect them to have a good round for a continuation of her education at this level.

Bobby Meyerhoff & Utah B: This horse was previously campaigned to the 3* level with Bobby’s wife, Danica, but last year she handed over the reins to her husband, who took a step back and kept him at Intermediate for all of 2013, culminating in an 18th place finish at Fair Hill CCI2*. They moved up to Advanced together this spring, placing 6th in the challenging Red Hills CIC3*, really smoking the cross-country course. While this isn’t Bobby’s Rolex entry, they could have potential to be quite competitive here this weekend.

Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate at Blenheim.  Photo by Samantha Clark.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate at Blenheim. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Meghan O’Donoghue & Pirate: Meghan had a really stellar year of success in 2013, with her four-star debut and her first Team USA international competition at Blenheim in the fall, she’s proved herself a real rising star with her little Thoroughbred Pirate. He’s positively a jumping bean, and they have a great partnership. He looked phenomenal in the dressage a few weeks ago at the Carolina International, and even scored well up there with the big moving warmbloods. They are heading back to Rolex this year to see if they can improve on their 12th place finish from last year. They can easily get into the top 10 here, but the bigger goal is prep for Rolex.

Selena O’Hanlon & Foxwood High: Selena was second last year at Bromont CCI3* with this horse, and after having the fall off, he’s come back out this spring in good form. They were 4th at Rocking Horse in the Advanced and then placed 20th at the Red Hills CIC3* a few weeks ago. Selena obviously thinks a lot of him, as she’s got him entered in his first CCI4* at Rolex this spring.

Selena O’Hanlon & Bellaney Rock: As her second mount for this division and her second Rolex prospect, this big chestnut has always been a secret favorite of mine. He’s a great big old Irish horse with lots of chrome, and he really seems to enjoy his job. They were 14th together in the fall at the Fair Hill CCI3* and have done well this spring, placing second at Rocking Horse in the Advanced.

Lindsay Oaks & Enchantez: Lindsay and Taylor attempted Rolex last spring, but sadly walked home off the cross country after one too many stops on course. They took some time off after that, but have decided to give it another go this year. This horse is a great jumper but has not had a run at Advanced since that time last year, so she will certainly need a good round here to feel ready for Rolex in a few weeks.

Holly Payne & Never OutFoxed: Holly’s newest Advanced mount is pretty neat; he’s a great little jumper, and I expect he will eventually embrace the necessary evil of dressage.  He just moved up to Advanced at Pine Top earlier this spring and sadly nicked himself in show jumping at the Carolina International CIC3* and so didn’t get to run cross country. Holly will be looking to pilot this nice young horse around his first three-star with a good trip to educate him for the future.

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential at The Fork last year. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential at The Fork last year. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Holly Payne & Santino: Sonny is one of my favorite horses to follow, as he always seems to be having a good time out there. He was a bit naughty in his first show of 2014 a few weeks ago at the Carolina International CIC3*, but we’ll just chalk that up to winter kinks. Sonny is an incredibly talented horse, and he’s got a lot more up his sleeve than we’ve seen just yet. I think this will be the year that he really comes into his own.

Doug Payne & Crown Talisman: This horse is almost a freak of nature in the athleticism department, and this is the first year that I’ve seen him strong enough to really carry some of the bigger movements. They fulfilled my prediction last time out at the Carolina International CIC3*, finishing fourth, and I think they can pull off a repeat performance here at The Fork and finish in the top five. They are very competitive in dressage and quite consistent in the jumping phases.

Beth Perkins & Sal Dali: This pair is one of the more experienced in the field, having already completed Rolex twice, as well as numerous three-star competitions. They did have trouble on course in their last outing at the Carolina International HT, so they’ll be looking to get their mojo back here this weekend. While they won’t be able to stay competitive in the dressage ring, they should be able to jump around just fine.

Jessica Phoenix & Exponential: Jessica is turning into the Canadian Buck Davidson, with so many nice horses at the upper levels that it makes you wonder how many energy drinks she consumes per day. Tucker was the Jersey Fresh CCI3* winner in 2013 and has a few CCI4* competitions under his belt, including Burghley and the 2010 WEG. His exuberant jumping style never fails to put a smile on my face, or Jessie’s for that matter. They are heading to Rolex this spring, so they’ll be putting some finishing touches on their performances this weekend.

Jessica Phoenix & Patras VR: I haven’t actually seen this horse in person yet, but he led wire to wire in the recent Poplar Place CIC3* with a great dressage score and only time penalties on cross country to add to his score.

Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jessica Phoenix & A Little Romance: This little mare is great fun to watch, and was second this spring in the Advanced at Red Hills over a challenging course. Unfortunately, they ran into trouble in the CIC3* at Poplar a few weeks ago, and so Jessie will be looking to get her groove back here at The Fork this weekend.

Jessica Phoenix & Abbey GS: Jessie’s final ride is another mare, and she is certainly less experienced than her stablemates. She was recently 6th at the Poplar CIC3*, but she needs more experience on the flat to be competitive here at The Fork. However, she’s a super little jumper and should be able to pop around the course just fine in preparation for a spring three day.

Michael Pollard & Ballingowan Pizazz: Michael and Mango definitely proved themselves a few weeks ago at the Carolina International CIC3*, finishing in third place after a really good dressage score and some great jumping phases. These two have been on the verge of greatness for awhile now, and last year just kept getting thwarted by minor injuries. I really hope that this year is their time to bloom. I expect nothing less than a top-10 finish from them.

Liz Riley & It’s The Truth: Liz and Tom hail from my hometown in Virginia and made their move up to the Advanced level at Millbrook last summer. They did their second event at that level a few weeks ago at the Carolina International and placed 12th. This will be their first attempt at this level, and they have a great partnership, so I fully expect them to complete the weekend with a big grin.

Colleen Rutledge & Shiraz: A pair that needs little introduction, Colleen and Shiraz are still on their mission to complete as many CCI4*s as possible in their lifetime. Shiraz seems to laugh at big jumps, but consequently he doesn’t seem to think that the three-star level is worth paying attention to at all. He looked distinctly disdainful at the Carolina International a few weeks ago, resulting in more than a few rails dropping in show jumping and some rough moments on cross country. We get it, Shiraz; you’re a badass. Now just calm yourself and behave over these “little” jumps, OK?

Allison Springer and Copycat Chloe at Richland. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Allison Springer and Copycat Chloe at Richland. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kim Severson & Fernhill Fearless: Sparky and Kim are a formidable pair; with Kim’s perfectionist attitude on the flat and Sparky’s total badassery over jumps, we should really watch out. They put in a good dressage test and a rare double clear jumping effort in show jumping at the Carolina International, but sadly Sparky didn’t get to run cross country. He’s been sulking about that, and he’ll probably just use that energy to tear around this weekend. Kim needs this event to qualify for Rolex, where she has entered Sparky as a contender in a few weeks.

Allie Knowles & Sound Prospect: Sounder is a new ride for Allie, as she just took over the reins last fall. They’ve made a successful move up to Advanced together, running the Red Hills CIC3* and the Poplar CIC3* a few weeks ago, placing 8th there. Unfortunately, both times at this level they’ve had a spot of bother on cross country, so Allie will be looking to get their first clear round here together this weekend.

Allison Springer & Arthur: Allison is on a comeback tour with Arthur, who is delighted to be back competing after having 2013 off. They were 6th together at Burghley in 2012, won their debut for 2014 and placed second at their first Advanced back together at Pine Top. We all know that Arthur can basically beat everyone on the flat, and he’s looked better than ever in the jumping phases this spring. I think a top-five finish is totally reasonable for these two and a good preparation for Rolex this spring.

Allison Springer & Copycat Chloe: Allison has also entered Chloe in Rolex this spring, and she’ll be using this event to help prepare the mare. Although they finished Bromont CCI3* in 5th place, they had some on and off trouble on cross country later in the fall, finishing with some stops and a fall at Galway CCI3*. Chloe has come out great this spring though, and it looks like they are much more in sync on cross country this year. They were recently 14th together at the Carolina International CIC3*.

Cody Sturgess & Imperial Melody: This is another pair that I’m not completely familiar with, having not seen them compete in person. However, they have not navigated a competition at the Advanced level since placing 29th in the CIC3* here at The Fork in 2013, and so I expect that this will be quite a challenge for them. Cody is a competent rider on a good horse, and I think he is more than capable of getting around just fine.

Sharon White and Wundermaske. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sharon White and Wundermaske. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Erin Sylvester & No Boundaries: Erin and Bucky are heading towards their third Rolex this year, and they’ve had a good lead up this spring. After getting caught out at Red Hills, they rebounded to place second at the Carolina International HT in the Advanced a few weeks ago. They’ve looked good in all three phases when I’ve seen them, and I expect them to be competitive here this weekend.

Sharon White & Wundermaske: Patch is traveling to Kentucky in a few weeks to make his four-star debut, and I’m not the only one that’s excited about that. Patch moved up to Advanced last spring, and was 7th at both Jersey Fresh CCI3* and Fair Hill CCI3* in the fall. He’s gotten better and better on the flat thanks to Sharon’s diligence, and he’s a great little jumper. This should be a perfect preparation for Rolex for these two.

Sharon White & Rafferty’s Rules: When I saw Reggie and Sharon a few weeks ago at the Carolina International CIC3*, I couldn’t tell who was smiling more. She’s delighted to have him back at the top levels, and despite a small miscommunication on cross country, they had a great weekend. She has him entered at Rolex this spring, and I think it wouldn’t be out of the question to see these two in the top 10 here this weekend.

Sharon White & Under Suspection: Pippy is the newest horse for Sharon at the upper levels, having only just gotten the ride on her last year from Dirk Schrade in Germany. This mare is really nice; she’s smooth on the flat and accurate over the jumps. They’ve been in the top six at every event they’ve completed, including a 4th place in the Fair Hill CCI2* last fall. Relatively new to the Advanced level, they were 6th together at their first CIC3* a few weeks ago at Carolina International.

Julie Wolfert & Buenos Aires: I know Julie from way back when, and I  know she will be delighted to be competing here at The Fork again! Hailing all the way from Kansas, Julie has a really phenomenal athlete on her hands with Aires. They’ve gotten three Advanced level competitions under their belts so far, and this will be by far the biggest challenge they’ve ever seen. Aires is an incredible jumper, and I can just see the grin Julie will have when she finishes the course on him at the end of this weekend.

The Fork CIC3* Preview: Part One

Lisa Barry and F.I.S. Prince Charming. Photo by Jenni Autry. Lisa Barry and F.I.S. Prince Charming. Photo by Jenni Autry.

With 57 entries in The Fork CIC3* this spring, it’s positively jam packed with talent of all shapes and sizes. Some horses are aimed at Rolex, some are aimed at a spring CCI3* in the states, and a few are even hoping to go to Saumur to check out Pierre Michelet’s cross-country course style. The Fork is always a challenging event, as the competition is fierce, and the cross country is notoriously hard. With the new CIC format, cross country is always held last, and the top percentage of riders go in reverse order of standing, creating even more tension when the ribbons come down to seconds on the clock. Let’s check out the horses and riders entered this year.

Peter Atkins & HJ Hampton: Peter and Henny are entered at Rolex, but I heard through the grapevine that since they’ve been accepted at Badminton, that is their true goal for the spring this year. Yay Henny Badminton helmet cam! This pair did Rolex last spring, placed 10th and then took the rest of the year off. They came out kicking in 2014, running a few Intermediate horse trials and winning one. Sadly at their last event in the CIC3* at Red Hills, they fell victim to the trouble at number five, but I trust that won’t be an issue here.

Peter Barry & Kilrodan Abbott: These two need little introduction, as we’ve all grown fond of seeing Eddie gallop casually around the big cross-country courses for some years now. Having been to Rolex quite a few times at this point, Peter and Eddie went to London in 2012 only to be cut short by a fall on course. They’ve got all the experience in the world for this challenge and were just 24th at the Carolina International CIC3*. They are headed to Rolex this spring.

Lisa Barry & F.I.S. Prince Charming: Lisa has been lucky enough to have Hannah Sue Burnett campaigning this great little grey gelding for her this spring, as she has been nursing her sprained and torn knee and ankle from an accident earlier this year. Peanut is a great jumping little horse and always a blast to watch, as his great white tail always flies up behind him with a snap over every jump. Lisa will be thrilled to be back in the tack for this exciting event.

Timothy Bourke & Luckaun Quality: This is one of my favorite pairs to watch on cross country, as this horse was simply made for that. After their great CCI3* debut at Fair Hill this fall, finishing in 8th place, they smoked the cross country at Carolina International, finishing with one of very few double clear rounds there in great style. Tim is a really quality rider, and Obie is an excellent upper-level horse for him to gain experience on, and to top it off they’re heading for Rolex for their CCI4* debut this spring.

Jennie Brannigan & Cambalda: Jennie and Ping have been kicking butt at the Advanced and three-star level for quite some time now, winning numerous events over the years against the best in the country. Last year they encountered some heartbreak at the double corners at Fair Hill CCI3*, but word on the street is that Jennie has been practicing corners nonstop since then, and I feel confident in saying that she will easily be top 10 here this weekend. They are entered at Rolex, hoping to finish their first CCI4* together.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot: Hannah and William are another pair that have been phenomenally successful at the Advanced and three-star level and really have equal talents in all three phases. They were recently 9th in the CIC3* at Carolina International, and a top-10 finish wouldn’t be out of the question this weekend. After a tumble early on in the cross country at Pau CCI4* in the fall, William is entered at Rolex this spring to complete his first CCI4*.

Kate Chadderton & Collection Pass: Kate has a super little Thoroughbred in Cole, and he’s just a great athlete. A very careful jumper, and usually capable of a decent dressage test, Cole unfortunately ran into some trouble last time out in the Advanced at Carolina International, and as she’s entered at Rolex this spring with him, she’ll be looking for a good confidence building round here at The Fork.

Kate Chadderton & VS McCuan Civil Liberty: I think it might be Kate’s personal mission to build an army of bay Thoroughbred superstars, and this one is no different. A little less experienced at the Advanced level than his stablemate, I hear that she’s aiming this horse at Saumur CCI3* this spring, which makes for a pretty exciting season for Kate! The Fork will be a great challenge for this horse, and I’m sure he’ll rise to it.

Daniel Clasing & Houston: Daniel and Houston made their Rolex debut last year, cantering around it like a hunter course, and they’re entered to do the same again this spring. However, they did not compete for the rest of 2013, and they’ve had a light lead-up to this event this spring. Houston is very reliable on cross country, and I know Dan has been working on the show jumping, but his goal will be the bigger picture in sight of the four-star coming down the pipes.

Sydney Conley Elliot & Cisko A: Sydney and Cisko hail all the way from Louisiana, and they’ll be making their CIC3* debut together. This will be the horse’s second Advanced competition, having moved up at Rocking Horse a few weeks ago and jumping around well. The Fork is known for being a challenging and imposing course, and it will be bigger than anything this horse has seen, so she’ll be looking for a nice clean round.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson & The Apprentice: Buck is taking it easy this weekend with only four horses in this division. Dirk is his first ride, and this horse has plenty of experience at this level. After an unfortunate elimination at Saumur CCI3* last spring, they went across the country to Galway CCI3* in the fall and finished 8th there. As with any of Buck’s horses, I expect him to go clean cross country and finish somewhere up in the top 20. He is on the list for Rolex, but as previously mentioned, Buck has to choose three out of the five he has entered to compete.

Buck Davidson & Petite Flower: If you want to know who Jenni has a crush on, it’s this horse. And rightfully so, as she’s an incredible little athlete. She was the 2013 Galway Downs CCI3* winner and can be very competitive on the flat and over jumps. She does have a spot of trouble occasionally with corners on cross country, so if Buck can get her around the cross country, he’ll be golden. She is also entered at Rolex.

Buck Davidson & Ballynoe Castle RM: Reggie is always a fan favorite, and it’s great to see him back in action. He easily scored a second place in the competitive Carolina International CIC3* a few weeks ago and looked to be really enjoying his time in the public. Buck adores this horse, and he’s entered at Rolex again this spring, as well as Badminton. We would all love to see him pop around in Kentucky and improve upon his 2013 result of 4th place.

Buck Davidson & Park Trader:  Kobe is the final horse for Buck to ride in this division. After traveling across the pond to compete at Burghley last year, Buck unfortunately fell off on cross country, but then re-routed immediately to Fair Hill CCI3* and was rewarded with a second-place finish there. He managed one of very few double clear show jumping rounds a few weeks ago at Carolina International and finished 18th. Kobe is a great jumper and could very well be up in the mix this weekend.

Phillip Dutton & Fernhill Fugitive: Jack was 7th at Bromont CCI3* last spring and was 15th at Richland CIC3* later that summer. Unfortunately, they were one of the pairs caught out at the tricky combination at fence 5 at Red Hills, but they did go on to complete the course in good style. They rebounded to place 10th at Carolina International with one of the rare double clear stadium rounds.

Phillip Dutton & Shamwari 4: With Boyd Martin sidelined with a broken leg, Phillip is also riding his horses at The Fork so they don’t miss out on their final prep run for the big spring four-stars. Shamwari 4 is entered at both Rolex and Badminton, and The Fork is his first three-star since coming to the States this winter. Shammie was fifth in the Advanced at Red Hills and 17th in the Advanced at Carolina International.

Will Faudree & DHI Colour Candy. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Will Faudree & DHI Colour Candy. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Phillip Dutton and Sir Donovan: This horse is another of Boyd’s WEG hopefuls, and he’s entered at Rolex later this month. Don has done very well with Boyd since he took over the ride from new owner Peter Barry, and the horse most recently finished fourth over a difficult course at the Red Hills CIC3*. He can be a bit tricky to ride, but we’re sure it’s nothing Big Phil can’t handle.

Will Faudree & Pawlow: Will and Ernie had a good run at Rolex last year, finishing in 6th place. They traveled to Aachen only to have a fall just after the final fence due to some missing front shoes, but that can’t keep them down. They are coming off a win in the CIC2* at Pine Top last month and have been looking really smooth in the jumping phases so far this spring. They had a nice dressage test a few weeks ago at Carolina International, but then withdrew before the jumping phases, so hopefully they will do all three here this weekend. Ernie is entered at Rolex and Badminton.

Will Faudree & DHI Colour Candy: Andy has recently come back to the Advanced level, having taken a step back in 2013 to get stronger at the Intermediate level. They were rewarded with an 8th place at Fair Hill CCI2*, and most recently finished 22nd after a good showing at the Carolina International CIC3*. This event will be a good challenge for this nice young horse, and I expect him to do well.

Will Faudree & Andromaque: Missy is always a crowd favorite; as a gritty little Thoroughbred mare who always gets the job done, it’s hard not to like her. She was 5th last spring at Saumur CCI3*, and then had a quiet fall. She’s had a similarly calm spring campaign, recently placing 11th in the Intermediate at Carolina International. She’s entered to run her second Rolex after placing 16th in her debut in 2012.

Ruy Fonseca & Tom Bombadill Too: Yet another pair heading to Rolex, they’ve only got one U.S. event under their belt after moving here recently to train in Florida. Ruy and Tom are incredibly experienced, having represented Brazil in both the 2010 WEGs and the 2012 Olympic Games. They posted an excellent dressage score and two clean jumping rounds at Red Hills a few weeks ago in the CIC2*, finishing in fourth place. I think this pair might just be the dark horse of the competition at The Fork.

Katie Frei & Houdini: This pair had a great spring and summer campaign in 2013, placing 5th at the Jersey Fresh CCI3* and second at Rebecca Farms in the CIC3*, but seem to have lost a little bit of their mojo since that time. They retired on course at Fair Hill CCI3* and ran into trouble again at Red Hills. Katie fell on course at their last outing at Poplar Place, so I’m crossing my fingers that their bad luck spell is over. This is a lovely talented horse, and he’s entered at Rolex, so she’ll need a good confidence building round to take him to his first CCI4*.

Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Abbie Golden & Arundel: As the Eventing Nation gods would have it, fellow writer Abbie Golden and I were stabled next to one another at the Carolina International a few weeks ago, and it gave me a chance to fall in love with her adorable horse Spencer. Abbie is aiming at a CCI3* this spring before she goes off to UVA Law school and gets smarter than all the rest of us, and The Fork will be a great prep for that goal.

Sinead Halpin & Manoir de Carneville: A few weeks ago at the Carolina International, there were mutterings in the stables, “Who is that horse bucking nonstop on the end of his poor groom’s lead shank?” In response to your questions, it was Tate, who is clearly feeling better than ever. He certainly looks a lot more fired up than we are used to seeing from this horse, and I certainly hope he can get his antics under control before jogs at Rolex. I expect a top-10 finish from this pair.

Lillian Heard & Share Option: Whitey is a consistently amazing jumper, and if you ever wanted to know what an Advanced course looks like when a hunter jumps around, look no further than this pair. They’ve had plenty of experience at the Advanced and three-star level, and were recently 5th in the Advanced at Carolina International. They are heading to their first CCI4* this spring at Rolex.

Becky Holder & Can’t Fire Me: Becky and Teddy had a fall late in the course at Rolex 2013 and since then have been taking it easy. They won the CIC3* at Poplar Place in the fall and were recently 19th at the Carolina International CIC3* a few weeks ago. They have potential to do very well here, but I think we have yet to see the full power of this grey Thoroughbred. They are entered at Rolex to prove me right and hopefully take the stage.

Jon Holling & Downtown Harrison: Unfortunately for us, Jon did not win the Carolina International on this horse, because there were many mutterings in the stables hoping for a repeat of his victory streak at Bromont in 2012. No, we will never let him live that down, and yes, we are hoping he wins something again just so we can document it one more time. Aside from that, this is a really lovely horse who posted a rare double clear show jumping a few weeks ago at CHP and finished the weekend in 13th place after solid performances in all three phases.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B at Bromont. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Jon Holling and Zatopek B at Bromont. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Jon Holling & Zatopek B: This is a really lovely type horse, and he’s had a solid year of competition at the Advanced level, finishing 2013 with an 11th place at Fair Hill CCI3*. As you can see from the picture above, there isn’t a need to worry about his jumping ability, and I think Jon’s done a wonderful job bringing him along slowly and quietly. He’s got a lot of confidence in this horse, and they’re entered at Rolex in a few weeks.

Kevin Keane & Fernhill Flutter: As our resident veterinarian slash competitor, Kevin and his gelding may or may not have started the Fernhill craze that is currently part of our sport.  They were victims of the Red Hills cross country course, garnering a stop on course but continuing on to finish just fine. They’ve been competing at the Advanced level for quite a few years now and have plenty of experience to perform well here this weekend, and are entered at Rolex for their CCI4* debut in a few weeks.

Kimberly Kojima & High Time: This pair is relatively inexperienced at this level, having only moved up to Advanced at Pine Top earlier this spring. They were at the Carolina International CIC3*, but ran into quite a bit of trouble on cross country, and were eliminated with multiple stops on course. This horse is a lovely big type and clearly athletic, but Kim’s going to want to sit up and kick to get around this challenging course.

Momo Laframboise & Dejavu: This horse just moved up to Advanced this spring, and this will be her first attempt at this level of competition, but she’s coming off a nice easy finish at the Carolina International in the national division, so I expect this will be a nice step up. Momo knows the horse well and will be able to get her around safely.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of our preview!

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: A Jockey’s Perspective of the Maryland Hunt Cup

For us eventers, the end of April always means time to get super duper excited for Rolex, but for many other reasons, that time of spring is thrilling for other equestrian sports as well. There is the Kentucky Derby for the flat racing lovers, and then there is the incredible Maryland Hunt Cup, widely regarded as the hardest steeplechase in North America. If you’re like me and secretly harbor a desire to be as ballsy as a steeplechase jockey, here is your chance to ride along in the race. We get to ride along with jockey James Stierhoff on Twill Do, trained by William Meister and owned by Lucy Goelet. There is  a lot of information about the Hunt Cup, and thoughts from some top trainers at the beginning, but if you want to skip to the action, go to about 4:31 in the video, and click play!

Tredstep

The Joys of Baby Steps

Bogey, my second most famous mount right now.

Bogey, my second most famous mount right now.

Here’s something that I said yesterday, that really only could have come out of a horse girl’s mouth: “I’m so impressed with her, she only nervous-pooped once in the wash stall instead of six times like yesterday!”. That, my friends, is truly looking for the joy in small things. If you can consider one enormous poop explosion an improvement, you’re on the right track towards finding your happiness in the horse world.

I’m a huge fan of working with young or inexperienced horses, and it’s probably due to my ability to find success in the smallest degrees and the weirdest of places. I recently started working at the Equine Welfare Society, a non-profit rescue operation that is not only giving unwanted horses a second chance, but training them in a high class way so that they can make their way into the world with more advantages than they are usually afforded. We’ve only just begun, and we have four horses, each at a completely different point in their training. I’m personally super psyched about this opportunity, because not only do I get to train these horses from the ground up, but I also get to have an incredible positive influence on their lives.

We’ve got Isabelle, a coming four year old who hasn’t been started yet and is quite unflappable. Bogey came with her from the Central Virginia Horse Rescue, who got him from Camelot auctions (look at his sad face!) a few years back and worked with him to overcome his abject (and righteous) terror of human beings. Val is an eight year old OTTB who failed at everything regarding racing, and hasn’t been sat on since her last attempt at running a few years ago. Val came with a colt who is not related to her, named Nate, and he’s just a yearling.

Val during her first ride since the track!

Val during her first ride since the track!

In terms of finding positive change, there’s nothing like a neglected or abused horse to really bring things into perspective for you. Every single little move these horses make towards trusting me more, or volunteering cooperation is a huge victory. I spend my time with them seeking to teach them civilized behavior, but also to slowly teach them that human beings can actually be great companions. Some of them have fear issues, like Bogey, who was ear twitched so badly before CVHR found him that his ears were sprained and paralyzed. Some of them have more generic anxiety, like Val, who believes that every time you go near her, there’s the chance that she’ll be forced to run a race in terror again. Either way, for horses like that, a little bit goes a long way.

For any horse, but especially one that has had bad experiences, small movements to put their hearts and bodies on the line are in fact big risks. To see those moments from them, and to recognize them, that is where the joy in horse training comes for me. In fact, if I can count only one anxiety induced wash stall poop as a success, I consider myself an extremely lucky person. After all, surviving in the horse world is nothing if not appreciating the small things, and figuring out how to keep the smile on your face.

 

Best of Craigslist: Super Talented Hunter/Jumper Prospect!

I have to tip my hat to Lisa Burnett for finding this gem on the Phoenix, Ariz., Craigslist ads and sharing it. Horse Nation also picked this up, and we couldn’t resist sharing it as well! While I think it’s a little bit tongue in cheek, it’s still pretty amazing, and we got a good giggle out of it. Find a ridiculous Craigslist ad while browsing the interwebz? Send it to tips@eventingnation.com.

00M0M_bQf9q57QU6z_600x450

Super Talented Hunter/Jumper Prospect! — $4,000 (Lalaland)

Shotgun is a two year old registered half TB-half mustang-half appy. He’s only 7 hands but he’s big boned and has TONS of aura. His conformation is absolutely PERFECT and his attitude is AWESOME. He is the best horse on the PLANET.

He is ambidextrous, speaks 5 languages and is an EXCELLENT beekeeper. He is TOTALLY UPHILL. His movement is like a PRIMA BALLERINA’s. I bought him for a hunter/jumper prospect, but he would be GREAT at endurance. Or reining. Or engineering.

I have been mainly doing dressage with him for the last 5 minutes and he can now perform a piaffe with his legs tied together. With 4 people on his back. What did I tell you, AMAZING, right??

He spent 4 years at my trainers, learning how to tie his shoes, do his hair and ‘collect’ properly (he still has a little bit of a problem with the ‘collecting’ part, but I’m pretty sure it’s because the sun was in his eyes).

He has been to 50 shows so far this year and totally won every class he was in at the Timbuktu Regional Bi-Decade Horse Show! He walks, trots, canters, gallops, stops, sneezes, hiccups, ties, loads, picks his own nose, chews, poops, shoes, and absolutely ANYTHING you ask him to do.

Although he is the best horse ever, he should not be ridden by anyone under six feet tall, who is not a weight lifter, who isn’t armed with a 9mm, and who doesn’t wrestle alligators for a living. Experienced riders only!

LOVES LOVES LOVES to jump. We have jumped 4 foot oxers. And 8 foot oxers. Once, I had him ALMOST jump over the moon, but I didn’t get any pictures.

I have not had time to spend with him lately and plus I can’t afford his board due to finances and plus I want to buy a new ipad.

Looking for the PERFECT HOME for him. Preferably one who emails me every day before they do anything with him, just to make sure it’s exactly the way I would do it and that I approve.

Thanks for looking at my add!

Thursday Reader from Devoucoux

Throw Back Thursday: the last time I saw greenery. PLEASE COME BACK SUMMER!!

Throw Back Thursday: the last time I saw greenery. PLEASE COME BACK SUMMER!!

At this point, I think even hot chocolate has lost its allure for me. Fireplaces don’t seem cozy anymore, and sweating outside sounds like a good time. I explained to a non-horsey friend of mine that it was basically cruelty for me to have to go south and compete in the warmth only to return home to yet another snow storm and he dubbed this a “champagne problem,” which I think is a polite way of telling me that I have first world problems coming out the wazoo. But seriously, no more snow, ok winter? Because March is bad, but April is just twisting the knife a little too much.

Events This Weekend:

Galway Downs International H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. [Website]

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

Morven Park Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around the Globe:

John’s got a bee in his bonnet, and he needs your help. He claims he’s doing research, although about what he won’t reveal. It’s got something to do with horses, and also some other stuff. We here at Eventing Nation are accustomed to odd requests such as this from our fearless leader, and we trust that it is all part of his evil plan masterful design for the future. If you’ve got three minutes to answer some fun questions, DO IT. [John's Questionnaire]

Stop the presses: Andrew Nicholson and William Fox Pitt are already hot favorites to win Badminton. I know, I know, it’s kind of a given, right? WFP has four horses entered (although he can only compete two), Chilli Morning, Bay My Hero, Parklane Hawk and Cool Mountain. Nicholson has Quimbo, Avebury, and Nereo on the list, but the first two are cross-entered at Rolex. Personally, I’m hoping for a Pippa Funnell comeback. [Badminton Entries]

Zara Phillips has a horse in the Grand National next week, and he’s got a great long shot backstory. Bought for a measly £12,000 at auction, Zara and her husband Mike bought Monbeg Dude with a few other rugby stars. Trained by Michael Scudamore, who has a small operation, he’s a 20/1 shot next week in the field of 40 horses for the £1 million race. Zara has also been training the horse over jumps, schooling him like a proper Event horse to know where his toes are at all times. [Zara's Horse to Run at Aintree]

Do you have a hard keeper? Need some tips on how to pack on the pounds? First you have to tell how many calories your horse is burning. Is he a weekend warrior or a high performance upper level horse? Make sure your hay is the highest quality you can get, and don’t feed stuff that’s just like straw. Check out some other ways to make sure your horse stays in tip top shape. [Gain Weight with The Horse]

This ought to start your day off right …

devoucoux

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Equestrian ‘Happy’ Music Video

This song has been buzzing around my head for weeks now, and I’m still not sick of it. The clever barn girls at Gestüt Schiele decided to do an equestrian version of Pharell Williams’ “Happy.” If you haven’t seen the original music video, check that one out first and then come back here to watch these girls dance. Now, here’s my secret plan: I want to get a short clip of all of the upper-level riders dancing for a compilation video just like this one. Who’s with me!?

* Please note that EN does not condone riding without a helmet at any time, but we do advocate creating awesome music videos with your friends and horses. Just wear a helmet while you do it.

Bring Back The Gold: Carolina International Competitor’s Party

From left to right: Jan Byyny, Bruce Davidson, Will Faudree, Karen Stives, Marilyn Little, Michael Plumb, Torrence Watkins, Phillip Dutton, Jimmy Wofford and Sinead Halpin. Photo by Kate Samuels.

From left to right: Jan Byyny, Bruce Davidson, Will Faudree, Karen Stives, Marilyn Little, Michael Plumb, Torrence Watkins, Phillip Dutton, Jimmy Wofford and Sinead Halpin. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As the FEI divisions at the Carolina International wrapped up today, and Jenni and Sally went home, the rest of us attended the raucous and exciting competitor’s party here in Raeford, NC. Not only were the CIC divisions a huge success this week, but a big part of this competition was to honor the members of the 1984 Olympic gold medal team, and hope that some of their superstardom would rub off on all of us. The evening was filled with awards for the top riders in each FEI division, including enormous checks and giant smiles from the winners, and then we were treated to a speech from coach David O’Connor, and some very large applause for the 1984 Eventing team.

Before we go any further, I must send out an enormous congratulations to all of the winners this weekend and overall to everyone competing and participating. This event really has been a step above, and it’s been a pleasure to be here. This couldn’t have happened without a few key people. Karen Stives was incredibly generous in not only her recent donation to the US Eventing High Performance Team, but she also sponsored the CIC3* this weekend, and that was unbelievable. Jennifer Mosing was also instrumental in supporting many of the improvements and changes that the Carolina Horse Park made especially for this event, and has been an amazing sponsor for years to come. Last but not least we have to tip all of our hats to Jane Murray, the organizer sent from the heavens to bring us this world class event, who spearheaded the effort to really change the way we think about this competition, and take it up to a whole new level. To all of the volunteers who guarded the galloping lanes, yelled out order of go in dressage, and picked up poles in show jumping: we love you and you’re amazing, thank you for all your hard work.

In 1984, the United States hosted the summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and the equestrian portion was held at Santa Anita Racetrack. Our Eventing team was composed of four incredible competitors: Michael Plumb riding Blue Stone, Torrence Watkins riding Finvarra, Karen Stives riding Ben Arthur and Bruce Davidson on JJ Babu. In the end, they came away with a team gold medal, a performance that we haven’t been able to replicate since that time.

As our Team USA eventing coach explained in his speech, we’ve come to realize that our system isn’t working anymore, and we need to look for other ways of achieving success. The gold medal in 1984 was a reflection of the exact same moment in Eventing history, and those competitors went out there and performed against the best in the world, and won. The U.S. hasn’t seen a team gold medal since that time, and in fact the only medal of that color that we achieved after that was David O’Connor himself in 2000 on Custom Made. We’re hoping to change our system so that we can bring back the gold, and let the stars of our current times shine on an international level. Check out David’s speech below, courtesy of The Horse Pesterer!

Premiere of the Bike Cam: Cruise the CIC3* Course at Carolina International

In case you missed us mentioning this throughout our coverage of the Carolina International CIC3*, Jenni had the brilliant idea of a biking tour of the cross country course via helmet cam. As the resident helmet cam expert, I pulled out my cross country helmet a few days early and hopped on my tiny motorbike. Given special permission by the organizers and Marc Donovan to cruise around (thanks, guys!), we had a great time and hope that this view of the course will be a cool way to see the terrain and the size of the jumps a little more up close and personal than you can get when you’re flying over them!

My overall impression of the course is good, and I think designer Hugh Lochore and the builders Levi Ryckewaert and Tyson Rementer have outdone themselves. I like the flow of it, as it allows for some breathers at key times during the course where you can let them gallop and relax in between combinations. Every year, my favorite thing about this event is that I feel like the course makes sense; it doesn’t throw irrational combinations in at random, but rather introduces them gradually and intellectually.

The questions are challenging, as they should be for this level, and almost all of them require a horse that is attuned to your turning aids and ready to look for a jump. I think one of the hallmarks of the course here is that your horse must concentrate hard because the wooded areas are shady and distracting, and then you pop out into the field and there is a lot to look at, so your horse must be very focused on you.

There are several new complexes, most notably the Stonehenge combination, which we have to show jump around tomorrow and is quite spooky. Zoe’s Bank is incorporated into every level, and for our course it’s a good question early on to get the horses thinking. The second water is always a big draw for the public, and this year it’s almost identical to last year, which was a pretty exciting scene, so it promises to deliver again.

Please note, I apologize to Pam (wherever you are), as Jenni and I failed to read the map correctly, and we missed number 16, Pam’s Pole Spread, as you come into the infield off the track. You should also know that I am not capable of actually traveling that fast on a bike, but we sped the video up for your viewing convenience. Enjoy!

[Website] [Live Scores] [Course Preview]

Thursday Reader from Devoucoux

The last ride I got before the snow came down in VA....hope you like snow days prior to your 3* Nyls!

The last ride I got before the snow came down in VA….hope you like snow days prior to your 3* Nyls!

Good morning from the Carolina Horse Park! It’s positively an EN party down here, as we have Jenni and Sally reporting live for you all weekend, I’m here competing, and Ellie is also here grooming for Plain Dealing Farm. The *secret* plan is for me to strap a helmet cam on my head and zoom around the 3* course for you later today, so you get a first hand feel of how the course would run if you were riding a super fast miniature horse. Cross your fingers that the organizers let me on course!

Events This Weekend:

Carolina International CIC: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

Zara Phillips wastes no time in getting back in the saddle, as she has 7 horses entered in Hambleton HT, just three months after giving birth to her daughter. Girlfriend has got this timed down to the T, because she wants to be on the WEG team this summer, and is looking to win back the championship title that she won in 2006 with Toytown. I wouldn’t bet against her. [Zara Phillips Baby Comeback]

You’ve heard about the first ever equestrian being sponsored by Nike, right? Well, if you haven’t, here’s the scoop. Eighteen year old NAJYRC gold medallist Ayden Uhlir has officially become the first US equestrian to be sponsored by the famed sports company. I really hope that this will bring more mainstream notice to the equestrian sports, and now all we need is an Eventer! Hey, Nike, what’s up. I’m here, I’m totally willing to wear a swoosh on everything I own. Hell, I’ll even clip it onto my horse. [Young Rider Sponsored by Nike]

In other news, here’s a pretty awesome cause that’s chinchilla approved. This Kickstarter campaign is trying to raise enough cash to translate Ubongo Kids — Tanzania’s first homegrown cartoon series that helps kids learn through math, cultural stories and songs — from Kiswahili to English. Nothing against Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder, but this seems like a pretty cool way to help kids learn in a new and different way. [Kickstarter]

There’s a new dope testing technique that’s said to be a thousand times more sensitive than the current tests used for the FEI. While this might be controversial for those who already think that the FEI drug rules are a bit overreactive, this test is exciting for the science nerds out there. While most tests now use mass spectrometry to find components of banned substances, the new method uses something called paired ion electrospray ionization (PIESI), and it gathers several of the drug bits together, making them more obvious to the detector. [New Drug Tests]

We’ve heard about water treadmills and their positive effects on fitness regimes, but what about water therapy for back pain? A new study on the biomechanics of the back during water workouts show that it’s beneficial for horses that experience pain and even shows that it increases overall flexibility through a number of points on the spine. Different depths of the water flexed different parts of the horse, and thereby giving more information to owners who have specific problems and can adjust the height of the water accordingly. [Water Therapy for Back Pain]

devoucoux11

Carolina International CIC3* Preview: Part Two

Jon & Downtown Harrison at The Fork 2012, photo by Samantha Clark.

Jon & Downtown Harrison at The Fork 2012. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Yesterday I brought you a preview of the first half of the exciting CIC3* division at Carolina International this week. There are forty-six horses entered in total, and many of them are headed to Rolex this spring, and a few are WEG hopefuls. We’re here to take a closer look at the combinations competing this weekend, and get you excited for this event! Without further ado, I give you the second half of the CIC3* division.

[Website] [Entry Status] [Preview Part One]

Jon Holling & Downtown Harrison: After winning the Bromont CCI3* in 2012, Jon Holling made Eventing Nation history by going viral in his victory streaking video, and now, every time we think of this horse, all we can picture is Jon streaking in front of the Bromont sign. Aside from that, this is a lovely horse, and he can be incredibly competitive in all three phases. He’s been a little bit on the quiet side for a while, he’s coming off a third place at Pine Top Advanced, and a win in the Intermediate at Full Gallop recently. Jon is a beautiful rider, and this pair could be a bit of a dark horse this weekend (no pun intended). This pair is headed to Rolex this spring.

Rachel Jurgens & Ziggy: Rachel and Ziggy have been competing at the Advanced level for some time now, and this little gelding is a great little thoroughbred with a jumping heart. They unsuccessfully attempted Rolex last year, and they have been building back up since then, recently placing 6th in the Pine Top Advanced. Ziggy might not have the patience for dressage, but they have all the experience necessary to complete this weekend well.

Kevin Keane & Fernhill Flutter: As our resident veterinarian slash sompetitor, Kevin and his gelding may or may not have started the Fernhill craze that is currently part of our sport.  They were victims of the Red Hills cross country course, garnering a stop on course but continuing on to finish just fine. They’ve been competing at the Advanced level for quite a few years now, and have plenty of experience to perform well here this weekend.

Lauren Kieffer & Lucky Devil: Taz is not as experienced as some of the other horses in this field, but he is incredibly athletic and he has a very conscientious rider aboard. He’s been very competitive at the Intermediate level, rarely placing outside of the top five. This pair is coming off a win in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse HT, and I expect they’ll be looking for a good clean round in the top twenty.

Kimberly Kojima & High Time II: This will be Kim and Ralph’s first attempt at this level, having just moved up to the Advanced level a few weeks ago at the Pine Top Advanced. This is a lovely big horse, and I saw them through the water complex there, and they made it look easy. For the experience, they’ll be looking for a good clean run here, and a good time at this level.

Holly Payne & Santino at Millbrook. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Holly Payne & Santino at Millbrook. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter: This will be Demi’s first competition back since Pau CCI4*, where they finished in 18th place. This mare is really incredible to watch, and she’s lovely on the flat and on cross country. Occasionally she experiences trouble in stadium jumping, but I’m sure Marilyn has been working hard over the winter on that. They’re just coming back from almost a year in Europe, and I don’t doubt that the experience there will help her be competitive this weekend.

Marilyn Little & RF Smoke on the Water: Smoke is the less experienced of Marilyn’s two horses, and he had a bit of an up and down record last year. He was 2nd at the Red Hills CIC3*, and then almost won The Fork CIC3* before having a stop late on course, and then retired on course at Jersey Fresh CIC2*. He then placed 8th at Saumur CCI3* immediately after that, but unfortunately was eliminated at the CIC3* in Aachen. This will be his first competition back since then, and I’m sure they will be looking for a good result to get his season started out right.

Caroline Martin & Quantum Solace: As the reigning NAJYRC CCI2* champion, Caroline and Nacho have a great relationship and could be very competitive this weekend. They moved up to the Advanced level last spring and were 4th at the Chattahoochee Hills CIC3*. They were recently 16th in a tough crowd at Red Hills CIC3* and could be poised to do well here in North Carolina.

Holly Payne & Santino: Sunny is one of my favorite horses to follow, as he always seems to be having a good time out there. He’s fairly new to this level, having only done two Advanced HTs and two CIC3*s last year. This will be his first competition of 2014, and I’m excited to see the new improvements that Holly has been able to make this winter. Sunny is an incredibly talented horse, and he’s got a lot more up his sleeve than we’ve seen just yet. They could be the surprise pair of the weekend.

Holly Payne & Never OutFoxed: Holly’s other mount is pretty neat too, and this will be his first attempt at this level, having just moved up to Advanced at Pine Top a few weeks ago. He’s a really athletic Thoroughbred who can jump clean easily and lay down a nice dressage test if he feels inclined to do so. Holly will be looking to pilot this nice young horse around his first three-star with a good trip to educate him for the future.

Doug Payne and Crown Talisman. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Doug Payne and Crown Talisman. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Doug Payne & Crown Talisman: Newly married Doug (he took Jess’ last name, right?) won’t have wasted any time at the parties and will certainly be bringing the big guns to the show with Tali this weekend. This horse is almost a freak of nature in the athleticism department, and this is the first year that I’ve seen him strong enough to really carry some of the bigger movements. I think they’re going to be very competitive in dressage and then consistently stalking the leaders all weekend to finish in the top five.

Michael Pollard & Ballingowan Pizazz: Michael and Mango are another pair to keep your eye on this weekend. They’re coming off a second place at Pine Top Advanced, but I get the feeling that we haven’t seen everything that they’re fully capable of yet. Michael has taken his time with this horse, spending a lot of time at Intermediate building their relationship. They were 6th last year at the Richland CIC3*, and I think they’ll be quietly hoping to improve upon that here.

Michael Pollard & Mensa: Mensa is a very experienced horse, and we know he’s got the capabilities to do well in all the phases. He had a runout about three-fourths of the way around Pau CCI4* in the fall, but he’s entered at Rolex this spring to redeem himself. He’ll be using this as a prep run, and I think that his disappointment in France will only drive him to perform better here.

Colleen Rutledge & Shiraz: Shiraz is known for his cross-country prowess, but he’s alway struggled with the other two phases. I saw them at the Pine Top Advanced, and I thought they looked more polished than ever in the dressage, and it would be delightful if they could get the kind of result that they deserve after completing so many four stars with such ease.

Kate Samuels & Nyls du Terroir: Reviewing yourself is nothing if not awkward, so here we go. He was just fourth at Pine Top Advanced, and this horse eats cross country for breakfast. He can jump clean in show jumping easily if he decides to slow his brain down that day, but he sometimes harbors a distaste for dressage and is not the most expressive mover, so hopefully he will stun me with some heretofore unbeknownst obedience, and we can be competitive against this strong crowd.

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kim Severson & Fernhill Fearless: I actually don’t think that there has ever been a horse more aptly named than this one. Sparky lives for the jumping phases, and he’s obligingly learned to do this dressage thing under Kim’s tutelage. This is a formidable pair, and while they didn’t have luck on their side at Red Hills a few weeks ago, they’ll be sure to be back on their game this weekend.

Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek: Devon is one of the most experienced horses competing this weekend, and Lizzie is one cool competitor. They have a wonderful relationship, and competing on their home turf should give them a nice advantage. They were 17th together at Bromont last year and recently were 6th in the Advanced at Pine Top. They’re quite capable of putting together three good phases and finishing in the top 15.

Allison Springer & Arthur: Allison is on a comeback tour with Arthur, who is delighted to be back competing after having 2013 off. They were 6th together at Burghley in 2012 and won their debut for 2014, and placed second at their first Advanced back together at Pine Top. We all know that Arthur can basically beat everyone on the flat, and he’s looked better than ever in the jumping phases this spring. I think a top-five finish is totally reasonable for these two and a good preparation for Rolex this spring.

Allison Springer & Copycat Chloe: Allison has also entered Chloe in Rolex this spring, and she’ll be using this event to help prepare the mare. Although they finished Bromont CCI3* in 5th place, they had some on and off trouble on cross country later in the fall, finishing with some stops and a fall at Galway CCI3*. I think they’ve been working really hard to resolve these differences over the winter, and they looked great this spring, finishing 3rd at the most recent Pine Top in the Advanced.

Sharon White & Wundermaske at Richland. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sharon White & Wundermaske at Richland. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kaitlin Spurlock & Expedience: The ultimate chestnut Thoroughbred mare, Speddy and Kaitlin were 11th at Jersey Fresh CCI3* in the spring and 16th at Fair Hill CCI3* in the fall. They are coming off a 3rd place in the Intermediate at Pine Top, and although Speddy sometimes displays her opinion in dressage, they’re a treat to watch in the jumping phases and generally make mincemeat of the courses. They are also entered at Rolex this spring, which is pretty darn exciting, and I look forward to watching them go there.

Sharon White & Wundermaske: Patch is a really cool little horse, and he’s got all the makings of a future star for Sharon. She’s been diligently working on his dressage to make him competitive in that phase, and after a little blip in their cross-country confidence following a fall at Millbrook, they rebounded this fall to finish 7th in the competitive Fair Hill CCI3* field. I think that’s behind them now, and I feel like Patch is due a little notice soon, so I wouldn’t put a surprise top finish out of their reach.

Sharon White & Rafferty’s Rules: Sharon’s second ride is her longtime companion Reggie. They completed both Rolex and Burghley together in 2012, but had a very quiet 2013, with not much action at all. They’ve come back quietly this year and just won their last outing at Rocking Horse in the Intermediate. I think it’s safe to say that they have plenty of experience to deal with the challenge this weekend and could very well be right up in the top 10.

Sharon White & Under Suspection: Pippy is the newest horse for Sharon at the upper levels, having only just gotten the ride on her last year from Dirk Schrade in Germany. This mare is really nice; she’s smooth on the flat and accurate over the jumps. They’ve been in the top six at every event they’ve completed, including a 4th place in the Fair Hill CCI2* last fall. Relatively new to the Advanced level, Sharon will be looking for  a smooth and confident ride around the mare’s first CIC3*.

Carolina International CIC3* Preview: Part One

Fair Hill CCI3* champions Jan Byyny and Inmidair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Fair Hill CCI3* champions Jan Byyny and Inmidair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

After much anticipation, the week for the Carolina International CIC3* is here, and with 46 entries and a star-studded cast, it’s going to be a heck of a competition. Both Jenni Autry and Sally Spickard will be there to report on the happenings, and while I’m competing, I might throw in a few posts myself in between rides. This event has been working overtime to become one of the most highly-regarded competitions, and with a CIC3* this year, they’ve set themselves up well to be an important factor in how horses prepare for Rolex, and this year, the WEG. They’re also offering $25,000 in prize money for the CIC3*, $10,000 for the CIC2* and $5,000 for the CIC*, which is an amazing opportunity in a sport that doesn’t often have any prize money at all. Without further ado, I give you the first half of your CIC3* division!

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Peter Barry & Kilrodan Abbott: This is a pair that needs little introduction, as we’ve all grown fond of seeing Eddie gallop casually around the big cross-country courses for some years now. Having been to Rolex quite a few times at this point, Peter and Eddie went to London in 2012 only to be cut short by a fall on course. They’ve got all the experience in the world for this challenge and are just coming off an 11th place at Red Hills in the CIC3* there.

Emily Beshear & Here’s To You: After sustaining a small injury right before his second Rolex in 2013, Quincy has competed lightly and has not had a run at the Advanced level since last spring. Emily and Quincy had a good run at the first Pine Top in the Intermediate, finishing 12th, but then had a bit of a scary fall in the CIC2* two weeks later coming into the water complex. Quincy is a really talented horse, but given all of these factors, I expect they’ll be hoping for a quiet, confident run this weekend.

Tracey Bienemann & Zara: Tracey and her big red mare Zara were the stars of our Pine Top CIC2* cross-country helmet cam a few weeks ago after a good round there to finish in 20th place. Zara is a bold cross-country horse, but hasn’t seen an Advanced course since the fall of 2012, so I think this is another pair that will be looking for a quiet and clear round this weekend.

Timothy Bourke & Luckaun Quality: This is one of my favorite pairs to watch on cross country, as this horse was simply made for that. He might not enjoy the first phase, but he excels in the second two. After their great CCI3* debut at Fair Hill this fall, finishing in 8th place, they’ll have a grand time here at the Carolina International. Tim is a really quality rider, and Obie is an excellent upper-level horse for him to gain experience on.

Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot: After a mishap early on course at Pau CCI4* that resulted in Hannah’s untimely dismount, she’s entered William in Rolex this spring, and I imagine that she’s more determined than ever to get there. These two almost always lay down an impressive dressage test that puts them in a good spot immediately, and I think they will be competitive here. They had a technical elimination at Red Hills a few weeks ago over the tricky combination at five, but I expect that will just make Hannah all the more serious here at CHP.

Will Coleman and Conair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Will Coleman and Conair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jan Byyny & Inmidair: The defending CCI3* champions of Fair Hill 2013, Jan and J.R. are a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody as determined as Jan, and J.R. has all the makings of a superstar. Thwarted last year by an airway issue right before Rolex, they’re headed back there this year after a great fall campaign. If J.R. can keep his hat on in the dressage, he’ll be very competitive this weekend.

Jan Byyny & Syd Kent: Just to complete Jan’s comeback tour, Syd is joining his stablemate in this division, following a story of his own comeback. During the cross country at Millbrook last fall, Syd suffered a life-threatening injury to one of his hooves, and for a while it was thought that he would never return to that level. But odds be damned, Jan and Syd are back at it again. I’m rooting for these guys, as they can also throw down a great score and jump clean to protect it.

Will Coleman & Conair: Will hasn’t even had this horse a year yet, but they’ve been able to form a really great partnership. The difference between how this horse went last summer and how he looks this spring is startling, and I think we’ll begin to see a whole new level of competitiveness from these two — which is frightening, considering they were 3rd at Fair Hill in the fall, and now they’ve had the whole winter to beef up on all the little pieces in between. Will might not let loose on cross country this weekend, as it’s their first Advanced run of the year, but you can be sure they’ll be in the top after the first two phases.

Hallie Coon & Namaste’: This pair has a few Advanced runs under their belt from 2013 and a nice 14th place finish in the CCI2* last year at Fair Hill. While they’ve yet to finish an event at the 3* level, I think they’ve got plenty of experience to handle this weekend’s challenge. Namaste’ is a lovely athletic horse, and Hallie is a very competent rider; they just have to put all the pieces together.

Buck Davidson & The Apprentice: Not that I’m saying anything that shocking, but Buck has FIVE horses in the CIC3* this weekend. And that’s not counting horses in other divisions. I just don’t even know how that man is still awake at the end of the day. Regardless, Dirk is his first ride in this division, and this horse has plenty of experience at this level. After an unfortunate elimination at Saumur CCI3* last spring, they went across the country to Galway CCI3* in the fall and finished 8th there. As with any of Buck’s horses, I expect him to go clean cross country and finish somewhere up in the top 20.

Buck Davidson and Balleynoe Castle RM at Rolex 2013. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Buck Davidson and Balleynoe Castle RM at Rolex 2013. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Buck Davidson & Cool N’ Cavalier: Cavi is Buck’s second mount in this division, but he’s quite a bit less experienced than the others. This gelding has only completed one Advanced level horse trials last spring at New Jersey HT. However, he’s a lovely horse, and I’m sure that Buck has him well prepared for this next challenge.

Buck Davidson & Petite Flower: After disappointment at Fair Hill CCI3* last fall, this pair re-routed to Galway CCI3* and were rewarded with a win there. This mare is the definition of a little powerhouse and can easily end up in the top 10 here. She can be quite good on the flat and is a super jumper. If Buck gets her over those corners, they’ll be golden this weekend.

Buck Davidson & Ballynoe Castle RM: Reggie is a crowd favorite, and after his 4th place finish last year at Rolex, he’s been keeping it quiet, most recently with a second place finish at Red Hills in the Intermediate this spring. Whether or not Buck lets the the handbrake off on cross country remains to be seen, but I’m sure they will be in the top 10 following the first two phases.

Buck Davidson & Park Trader: Kobe is the final horse for Buck to ride in this division. After traveling across the pond to compete at Burghley last year, Buck unfortunately fell off on cross country, but then re-routed immediately to Fair Hill CCI3* and was rewarded with a second-place finish there. Kobe is a great jumper and could very well be up in the mix this weekend.

Phillip Dutton & Mighty Nice: Phillip is challenging Buck in the “How-Many-3*-Horses-Can-You-Ride-In-One-Competition” event, as he also has five horses competing in this division. First up, Mighty Nice, who was a promising star last spring for Phillip. Unfortunately, he didn’t have great luck on cross country at Rolex last year, retiring early on. Phillip has taken him to two events this spring since that point, but has only run CTs, posting good dressage scores and withdrawing before cross country. Hopefully we will get to see them run all three phases this weekend.

Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott at Pau CCI4*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott at Pau CCI4*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton & Fernhill Fugitive: Jack is the second ride from Phillip’s stable. He was 7th at Bromont CCI3* last spring and was 15th at Richland CIC3* later that summer. Unfortunately, they were one of the pairs caught out at the tricky combination at 5 at Red Hills, but they did go on to complete the course in good style. I don’t think that result reflects their ability at this level, and I’m sure they’ll go on to be competitive this weekend.

Phillip Dutton & Mr. Medicott: As certainly one of the most experienced and successful horses at the competition this weekend, it’s always a treat to watch Cave go. He’s a consummate professional in all three phases, and after their 4th place finish at Pau CCI4*, they seem to be much more in sync these days, and if they run all three phases this weekend, I expect they’ll be in the top five.

Phillip Dutton & William Penn: Penn was 9th last year at the Fair Hill CCI3* and just ran the Intermediate at Pine Top to finish in 6th place. He’s a huge horse, but he’s incredibly light off the ground and a wonderful jumper. He’s pretty consistent, and I expect him to finish in the top 20.

Phillip Dutton & Atlas: Atlas was 4th at Bromont CCI3* in 2012, and since then has been competing consistently at the CIC3* and Advanced level. Unfortunately, he’s had a bit of trouble this spring, incurring two stops at Pine Top Advanced, and then falling prey to the combination at 5 at Red Hills a few weeks ago, retiring at that point. They’ll be looking for a quiet clear round here this weekend to get their mojo back.

Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Will Faudree & Pawlow: Will and Ernie had a good run at Rolex last year, finishing in 6th place. They traveled to Aachen only to have a fall just after the final fence due to some missing front shoes, but that can’t keep them down. They are coming off a win in the CIC2* at Pine Top a few weeks ago and have been looking really smooth in the jumping phases so far this spring. If they can pull off two clear jumping rounds on their home turf, they’ll be nicely poised to kick some butt this weekend.

Will Faudree & DHI Colour Candy: Andy recently came back to competing at this level after stepping down while Will worked on his education, winning his return to Advanced at Pine Top. He was 8th last fall at Fair Hill CCI2* and has been amazingly consistent at the Intermediate level. Though Will is known for being competitive, he’ll still be looking for a good education for his young horse in his first CIC3* since 2012.

Sinead Halpin & Manoir De Carneville: Sinead and Tate had a great 2012 and a quiet but successful 2013, winning the Plantation CIC3* and the Richland Advanced. They were great favorites to win Fair Hill CCI3*, but sadly Sinead suffered a tumble on the cross country. They ran the Intermediate a few weeks ago at Pine Top, finishing 2nd, and I fully expect them to finish in the top five here this weekend.

Becky Holder & Can’t Fire Me: Becky and Teddy had a fall late in the course at Rolex 2013, and since then have been taking it easy. They won the CIC3* at Poplar Place in the fall, but haven’t competed in the cross-country portion yet this year. They have the potential to do very well this weekend, but I don’t think we’ve really seen everything this horse is capable of yet.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the CIC3* preview!