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

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Flash Back Friday: Nyls' first Preliminary in 2006!

Flash Back Friday: Nyls’ first Preliminary in 2006! (Also, flashback to when hunt caps were allowed in SJ)

On Wednesday, I decided that I was going to give Nyls a teensy little jump school over baby jumps after his two month fake vacation, and I would just have a little fun and pop over maybe like ten little jumps. Nyls was delighted, as you can imagine, and thought he would help me understand that he will never grow out of acting like an unbroke three-year-old after a break. He is thirteen this year….le sigh.

Life according to Nyls: Yes, it is necessary to spook at the pile of poles on the side of the arena! Make sure you spook more violently when you change direction, and when you go up a gait. After passing the spooky poles ten times at the walk, it’s all new at the trot! Lurch violently to the side and refuse to inside bend. Cross rails: DON’T jump them, they are terrifying and small and that’s weird! Slam to a stop two stride out, spook, spin, and bolt in the other direction. Those new brush boxes? You have never seen those before, so you should skid to a halt on approach, spook, spin and bolt away. Refuse to approach them at a reasonable walk, then suddenly poke your nose violently at them, and scare yourself when you touch them.

News From Around The Globe:

Fair Hill International is looking for a new Executive Director following the Charlie Colgan’s retirement. Are you organized, dependable, detail-oriented, a self-starter, able to raise funds, to attract and develop corporate sponsorships, and also to recruit, retain and motivate volunteers? Would you enjoy working with a team of hard working volunteers who share a love of the outdoors with a desire to participate in one of the most prestigious Three-Day-Events in the United States? Apply now! [FHI Seeks New Executive Director]

If you’re going to make it as a professional rider, you’ll have to be a working student at some point. In fact, being a working student is a rite of passage for almost anybody who is looking to seriously improve their riding, and something that I highly recommend. However, how do you find the right gig? We’ve all heard horror stories about terrible situations, but there are definitely some great programs out there just waiting for you. Lauren Sprieser shares her tips to finding the best place to go. [Finding The Fair Gig]

Dear literally everyone in Hollywood: horses don’t whinny/nicker/squeal all the time. As anybody who has ever been around a horse for more than a day could tell you, they really are more interested in visual communication rather than audio. They nicker more than anything else, and it doesn’t mean anything specific, but it does indicate a general welcoming social interaction. [Why Do Horses Nicker?]

Hate the feeling of bulky winter gloves slowing you down while you ride or work in the barn? You and me both, sister. My fingers are always freezing off because I absolutely abhor the lack of dexterity that comes with wearing bulky, blundering gloves that actually keep me warm. Thank goodness for these gloves from SmartPak, they are somehow super thin AND super warm, which basically means you’ll wear them out and beg for more next season. [Ariat Insulated Tek Grip Gloves]

Dear Santa……

 

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo courtesy of Marley Stone.

Photo courtesy of Marley Stone.

Massive congrats go out today to Marley Stone and Tim Bourke, who are brand new farm owners! They’ve been able to snag Stone’s Throw Farm in Berryville, Virginia and will continue to work closely with Sharon White as they take the next step in their business, Bourke Eventing. You could not pick a nicer, more genuine couple to hang out with, and I know just how exciting it must be for them to have their own facility. Just in time for Christmas!

With Charlotte DuJardin and Valegro smashing their own record at Olympia just a few days ago, even us eventers have to admit that we’re obsessed with “Blueberry.” I mean, his name is Blueberry! H&H has compiled a great list of fun facts about this amazing horse, including his turnout schedule, his favorite things (food), and why he is hacked two days a week by a 77-year-old Olympic veteran. [Twelve Facts About Valegro]

I can think of more than seven reasons to hate winter, but H&H is being brave and coming up with an additional seven reasons to love it. I’ll admit, I was skeptical because all I see is mud and rain and so many jackets and pants that peeing is an extremely time consuming thing, but they’re right, winter is alright. [7 Reasons To Love Winter]

Psychology is at least half of the battle with riding in any capacity, and US Eventing blogger and equestrian sports psychologist Daniel Stewart knows that better than anyone. This month, his tip focuses on the excuses that we make for poor performances, or the way that we shoot ourselves down mentally before even getting on the horse. “When we deflect blame away from ourselves we also deflect away any possibility of learning from our mistake.” [What’s Your Excuse?]

We all love Connemara ponies for their scrappy nature, their larger-than-life personality, and of course their jump! But what about their cultural significance for Ireland as a whole? Doctorate candidate Claire Brown has received a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship to spend the next year studying how the Connemara pony mirrors the Irish culture, and tells the history of the Irish people. [Connemara Ponies Provide Cultural Insight]

Best of Blogs: Horse Training: Why the Science is Flawed

100% unrelated to horses, but how awesome is this? 

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Eventing 25: Third Time’s the Charm for Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek

The USEF has named the 2015 Eventing 25 riders, and we’re excited to get to know each of them with a series of profiles on EN. These young riders are the future of our sport in the U.S., so remember their names and join us in giving them the recognition they deserve. Keep checking back for new profiles. Go Eventing 25!

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Galway Downs CCI3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Galway Downs CCI3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

As the most experienced pair on the Eventing 25 list for 2015, Lizzie Snow and her seasoned partner Coal Creek are looking forward to their third year of participation in the program that has already benefitted them so much. At the young age of 22, Lizzie and the 14-year-old black Thoroughbred gelding “Devon” have conquered two CCI3* events in 2014 and are planning on big things for 2015.

Lizzie has been riding for as long as she can remember, and most of her family is involved in horses in some way or another. Her grandfather was a great polo player, and her mother competes in eventing, as well as owns and operates Gallops Saddlery in Oregon. When she was 15, Lizzie moved to Southern Pines to work for four-star rider John Williams and hasn’t looked back since.

While eventing at the upper levels was always a goal in the back of Lizzie’s mind, she credits much of her experience and exposure to the top levels with being in the right place at the right time. “When I was younger, I never told myself that I absolutely had to ride at the upper levels,” she said. “It was a goal, but never a necessity. It’s just kind of fallen into place.”

Lizzie has been competing at the FEI levels for five years now, including five trips to the NAJYRC on three different mounts, four with top 10 finishes. When Devon came to her in 2011, Lizzie had just completed her first CCI2* on her fabulous OTTB Pop Star and had no idea what she was getting herself into with the experienced gelding, formerly ridden at the CCI3* level by Amy Tryon.

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Bromont. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Bromont. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kathryn Rosson owned Devon at the time and originally decided to send him to Lizzie for a year before placing him for sale, but changed her plans after watching the two of them compete together. “Kathryn was more than generous in wanting to keep half of him and letting us purchase the other half,” Lizzie said. She now owns Devon in partnership with her mother Diane Snow, as well as Kathryn.

The three-year partnership between these two has certainly had its ups and downs, but they have become a staple at the Advanced and three-star level in that time and are competitive on a regular basis. This year they were third at Bromont CCI3* and traveled all the way to Galway Downs CCI3* in the fall to finish in fourth place. They also killed it on the PRO Tour Leaderboard this year, winning the Under 25 Rider division, placing third overall in the rider division, and with Devon taking home reserve champion position for all horses.

However, getting the ride on a fully formed Advanced horse made by a different rider hasn’t always been easy.

“Devon has definitely taught me how to ride; he’s quite the character!” laughs Lizzie. “He can be a bit of a terror to ride at home. Most of my flat lessons end up with me in the woods next to the arena because of the carriages trotting up the road or a car being too noisy for his liking. Hacks turn into bolting and spinning days, and gallops days are not necessarily something that I love. He doesn’t mean to be silly; he just can’t help himself.

He’s taught me patience beyond my years and that in some cases with him, it’s better to walk away and come back another day.  I’ve learned how to ride a runaway and how to develop a partnership with something I didn’t know how to approach in the beginning. The experience he has given me is certainly irreplaceable.”

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Their success has been due in part to their continued participation in the Eventing 25 program, which they have participated in since its inception in 2013. Eventing 25 is unique because it not only includes lessons under saddle, but also an all inclusive approach to education about management.

“It’s been a huge help to be able to work with David (O’Connor) at events this year,” says Lizzie. “I feel like we are continually building on previous lessons, and I’m starting to become more comfortable with the things that David is having me do. All of the additional lectures during the sessions from vets, farriers, nutritionists, grooms and David himself have been eye opening as well. The information that they are giving us are the key ingredients of what it takes to make a serious program.”

With Leslie Law just named as the Developing Rider Coach for the Eventing 25 and 18 programs yesterday, Lizzie is very excited to see what he can bring to the table and how his approach can benefit the group.

Additional education and a fresh approach is coming at an integral time, as Lizzie is tentatively aiming Devon at a very big competition this coming spring.

“If everything goes completely to plan, which it never does, I will aim Devon at Rolex Kentucky,” Lizzie said. “I’m trying not to think too far ahead and just keep taking things a day at a time.”

The Teenage Tantrums and How To Transcend Them

Maddie working at the Equine Welfare Society, slowly turning into a real horse! Photo courtesy of the EWS.

Maddie working at the Equine Welfare Society, slowly turning into a real horse! Photo courtesy of the EWS.

I adore working with young horses, and it’s a good thing too, because that’s more or less all that I do these days. Actually, let me refine that and say that I love the challenge of working with a green or un-schooled horse, because as of late I’ve been training quite a few horses that don’t technically qualify as young anymore, but are just as unlearned.

In general, we consider a horse green when it doesn’t have a consistent method of response to a given stimuli, whether that is our aids, an obstacle, or just an environment. Horses that are well schooled have a pretty set pattern of behavior for each situation that they find themselves in, and you can predict it well enough if you know them. This makes them easier to ride, and easier to teach others to ride.

I can confidently say that it takes a certain personality to look forward to a different and new challenge every day, and find small pieces of progress in each moment that sustain your hope in your training methods, and that personality might be described as “delusionally optimistic and doggedly determined”. This is a person who sees the long game, and embraces it, while sacrificing the idea of ease and visible progress on a daily basis.

It’s probably more often than not frustrating, because it is a rare horse that has a learning curve that only goes up in a linear fashion. More often than not, the learning curve looks something like what a toddler creates with a crayon and a scrap of paper. And that’s OK! Actually, it’s normal. It’s just a matter of having the right mindset to keep going and training your horse towards great things in the future.

Polly is coming along nicely, still learning to trot properly. Photo courtesy of EWS.

Polly is coming along nicely, still learning to trot properly. Photo courtesy of EWS.

Whenever I’m working with a green horse and they suddenly seem to rebel and go distinctly backwards with the progression of their training, I call it the “teenage tantrum” stage. As long as the problem is not fear or pain related, you can almost always assume that time and patience will help it cure out. After all, that’s how your parents got through your teenage years, right?

Horses are an extraordinarily cooperative species, and in general they enjoy working with us, and when trained in a fair and logical way, and very willing. That does not mean that they agree with us all the time, or even that they unblinkingly obey every day. Sometimes it means they go through phases where they toe the line of what is allowed and what is not, as a teenager would perhaps with his or her curfew.

While it is important to create and enforce rules for behavior to prevent bad habits in the future, it’s equally important to recognize and reward good behavior, and especially during times of frustration and seemingly little to no progress. If you are only ever the force that says “NO!” and never a source of guidance and reward, your horse will eventually lose interest in the game of learning. Training a horse, at its best, is creating situations where the horse wants to find the right answer and actively seeks it out.

To escape the teenage tantrum phase (or phases, because some horses re-visit it occasionally!), teach your horse that “No” is a firm but reasonable line, but also that “Yes!” is a far superior place to go, and it will always be a door available to open. That, and remember that time is the best tonic for teenage tantrums, and patience and a smile will get you further than anything else.

‘Tis The Season To Be Hairy, Fa La La La La, La La La La

There’s nothing that says “horse person” quite as much as the sensation of a buzzing clipper in your hand for two hours straight, wearing a rain coat and rain pants inside the barn, and sneezing horse hair out of your nose for days. Yep, it must be clipping season. I want to see your amazing, entertaining, beautiful and clever clipping creations. Send me a picture that shows off your artistry and a little blurb explaining what it’s all about. Include the name of your horse, your name and where you are from. Email kate@eventingnation.com!

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Rachel Walker, Wisconsin: “These are clips on three of the horses at our farm in Beldenville, Wisconsin. Top left is Kingsley with his crown. He belongs to Meg Wilkening. They do Beginner Novice eventing together and are hoping to move up to Novice this next season!

Under that is Guy with his snowflake. Guy’s an 18-year-old OTTB who took me through my first years of eventing and now does a fabulous job as a Walker Farms lesson horse. On the right is Lili, with the lily on her hip! She’s a 7-year-old Thoroughbred/Draft cross, and we accomplished our first Training together this fall.”


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Megan Burke, Montrose, New York: “This is my OTTB Jazz. He is 20 years young and can still be quite the fire-breathing dragon at times, hence the dragon design!”


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Kyrie Gausden, Runciman, New Zealand: “This is my mare Splash. She is named Splash as she fell in the pond shortly after being born. After a day of clipping and one too many coffees, I came up with her design. My father owns her, and he is a keen fisherman, so I went with a water theme. The tidal wave also looks a bit like a koru (Maori design), which fits in with me being from New Zealand.”


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Hannah Hill, Midlothian, Virginia: “I did a skull and cross bones done on both hips of my Thoroughbred. We always wear skulls on cross country as our good luck thing.”


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Ashley Hensman, Bethany, Ontario: My husband and I decided to do this because we saw a pic and thought let’s try it on Bella. Bella had a few years of bad handling with previous owners and was very scared of anyone behind her. We have been working with her for four months now, and she has improved so much. It was just so nice to see how well she handled two people with clippers around her back end!”

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Boyd hunting in the snow! Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Boyd hunting in the snow! Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Friday Friday Friday! So glad it is Friday, and equally glad that I have now completed 99% of my christmas shopping and I don’t have to brave the crowds this weekend. Also, I made peppermint bark yesterday, and if you guys want to copycat me, I’m totally OK with that because this stuff is ridiculously delicious. Note: you should go through the trouble of tracking down peppermint oil versus peppermint extract, it’s worth it.

News From Around the Globe:

Congratulations to Leigh Yeh, the winner of our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway from World Equestrian Brands! Leigh, please email sally@eventingnation.com to claim your prize! [12 Days of Christmas: World Equestrian Brands]

Tis the season to get married! We are delighted to announce that event secretary extraordinaire Mary Coldren and Shirley Carpenter are tying the knot this Saturday at their home in Pennsylvania. Stephen Black, the mayor of West Grove, will perform the ceremony. Mary and Shirley have enjoyed 16 wonderful years together so far, and we wish them all the best for many more in the future. Congratulations!!!

Fabulous working student opportunity at Morningside Eventing, and I can vouch for these guys personally. If you’re interested in working for super upper level eventer Skyeler Icke Voss at an amazing facility, and you enjoy a fun climate, this is something you should think about. Morningside provides housing, room for one horse to board, and lessons in exchange for work. [Morningside Eventing]

Yet another reason never to lease a horse….adorkable actress Zooey Deschanel is now being sued by the owners of the horse that she leased this past year, claiming that she returned him in a deplorable physical shape and he is a “shell” of his former self. Yikes! We think it’s probably not Zooey’s fault…[Horse Nation Investigates]

USEA has a great 12 days of Christmas contest coming up, with prizes from Omega Alpha, Mountain Horse, Ride Alert and Weatherbeeta! The contests start today, so be sure to check out the rules and then go like the USEA on Facebook to participate! [USEA 12 Days of Christmas]

Now that it’s winter, you want to make sure that when your horse sweats, you can keep him warm while he cools off. That’s exactly when the awesome coolers at SmartPak come in. The Thermo Manager Stable Blanket is one of my favorites, because it is just heavy enough to keep them toasty, but also very breathable to wick sweat away. It can also double as a blanket for the barn! [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Me at age three. (You're welcome).

Me at age three. (You’re welcome).

Somehow, every year, I feel like the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas gets smaller and smaller, and each year I resolve to not get caught unawares without preparation, and each year I’m flabbergasted when it becomes the end of December. Where did all the time go? When did it become the end of 2014? Wasn’t it not that long ago that I was the adorable little child above on the incredibly fat pony? By the way, you’re all so welcome for that fantastic picture, because that thing is basically every little girl’s christmas dream. Penny the wonder pony!

Congratulations to Sarah Schmidt-Micola, the winner of our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway from Dubarry! Sarah, please email sally@eventingnation.com to claim your prize! [12 Days of Christmas: Dubarry]

Did you know that your galloping position helps your horse breath easier on cross country? If you are unable to get up in a proper and secure galloping position in between fences, you are effectively limiting your horse’s ability to not only gallop forward efficiently, but you’re inhibiting their breathing patterns as well. Paul Tapner took some time at a live demonstration to illustrate how important your gallop position is when going cross country. [Why Position Is Important]

The state of Wyoming is suing the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, claiming that they have failed to manage the mustang herds in Wyoming properly. Governor Matt Mead believes that the BLM does not have enough funding to complete their job of herd management successfully, and hopes that this lawsuit will bring that issue to light, as they struggle to find a good balance for the Mustang herds as well as other wild animals. [Wyoming Sues BLM]

Nothing like a good Thoroughbred to take out in the fox hunting field. In fact, Thoroughbreds largely dominate the scene in fox hunting, because after all, what horse is better suited to galloping and jumping than the Thoroughbred? They love the game, and their intelligence combined with their stamina makes them the ideal mount. Sometimes even steeplechasing legends like McDynamo hunt in their off season to keep the fitness and the fun in their lives. [Thoroughbreds & Fox Hunting]

This might be a list of things that mark you as a Dressage Diva, but I’m pretty sure that I identify with more than a few of them. Ahem, #15: seeing female competitors without hairnets makes your stomach turn. I CAN’T BE ALONE HERE!!! [25 Signs You’re A Dressage Diva]

Best of Very Horse-Related Blogs: Yesterday I Didn’t Know About Equine Jock Straps

Best of Non-Horse-Related Blogs: 2014 Haters Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalogue

 

 

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Wits End Engineers Next Generation of Four-Star Eventers

Weanling filly Royalty Happens gets some quality time with mom Reality Happens. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Weanling filly Royalty Happens gets some quality time with mom Reality Happens. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Since the official change to the short format in 2006, modern eventing has been searching for the ideal recipe to the perfect event horse.

As our sport changes, so does the type of horse that is required to be truly successful at the upper levels, and while other countries have time-honored sport horse breeding programs that have adapted beautifully to the new needs, the United States is still working to find the solution.

In the small town of Thurmond, North Carolina, a farm named Wits End Eventing has a unique and intelligent approach to creating the next generation of eventing superstars.

Founded six years ago by husband and wife team of Adrienne Classen and Dale Hinman, their respective backgrounds bring several notable and intriguing aspects to the table.

Along with being a successful pediatrician, Adrienne is a life-long eventing enthusiast, and competed through the Intermediate level with multiple horses, including Sharon White’s current four-star mount Rafferty’s Rules.

Before beginning her breeding program, Adrienne had a thriving sales business, and to this day has never selected a horse that did not compete to at least Intermediate level, a bar to which she holds all of her prospects.

While Dale was not initially as invested in the horses as his wife, that quickly changed as their breeding program got off the ground. An MIT and Stanford graduate with fifteen patents to his name, he was highly intrigued with the mathematical qualities of a breeding program, and quickly became integral to the system by creating the Wits End Eventing databases that currently shape how they design their sport horse matches.

The program started with Adrienne’s interest in breeding her CCI2* mare, Irish Lace, and quickly expanded from there. “We noticed certain characteristics when Adrienne was picking out resale horses, and I was kind of curious about how their pedigrees were related,” says Dale.

“From there, I decided to compile a database of all the successful horses in all the four star competitions since 2006, and another database with all the pedigrees of all the horses that have competed at the four star level since that year“.

The concept of these databases alone is staggering, and something that only an engineer could take upon himself with an eager attitude. For every horse that has competed at the four star level since 2006, Dale has their height, their sex, their percentage Thoroughbred blood, their scores in each respective phase, and pretty much every other category you can think of right at his fingertips.

You can run a graph on this database to see how height relates to performance at the four star level,” says Dale. “We use this to statistically determine the characteristics we are looking to reproduce in our breeding program”.

Dale Hinman gives some love to White Lightening, a weanling colt out of My Martina by Wingman. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Dale Hinman gives some love to White Lightening, a weanling filly out of My Martina by Wingman. Photo by Kate Samuels.

They use the corresponding pedigree database to break down the selection process for matching broodmares to suitable stallions. Wits End Eventing uses linebreeding, a practice that has been common in the Thoroughbred racing industry for generations, and is also very successful in Europe for sport horses.

Pedigree theory suggests that the focal linebreeding should be in what many call the engine room, which is the fourth through sixth generation positions.

“Analyzing pedigrees this way and using linebreeding is very time consuming, but there’s a lot of basic genetics and statistics behind it, which is why we look at the data of the horses winning at the four star level,” explains Adrienne. “As scientists, we look at what succeeded and that’s what you breed. It seems to make sense”. 

“We don’t always look for the same stallion, because the theory in linebreeding is that the fourth, fifth and sixth generation is where the power comes from, so if you can concentrate horses in those generations, you can amplify beneficial characteristics” says Dale.

The database systems that they have created allow them to have a unique approach to matchmaking and analyzing what characteristics are desirable for a four-star eventer. Of course, as with any breeding program, a good part of it is up to chance, but Wits End Eventing has a very clear idea of the type of horse that they want to produce.

Two-year-old filly Ladyhawke tries her hand at free jumping. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Two-year-old filly Ladyhawke tries her hand at free jumping. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Our ideal horse is uphill and forward thinking with movement that is well above average, but not extravagant,” explains Adrienne. From looking at the results of four-star events, they have found that statistically horses with extreme movement are wonderful to watch, but ultimately lack the ability to be efficient in the galloping lanes, causing slower times and more strain on their bodies at that level.

We want a horse that is smart and athletic with an excellent jump, but without too much tendency to over-jump.” In much the same way, a horse that over-jumps all of the fences is stunning in sales ads, but loses too much time on cross country looming in the air, as well as places extra strain on its legs by jumping too high.

By running graphs on how height and percentage of Thoroughbred blood is related to four-star performances, they have come to the conclusion that the ideal height is 15.3 to 16.2 hands, with 65% to 85% thoroughbred blood.

They prefer to have at least one or two grandparents that are full Thoroughbred so that the horse maintains his or her endurance and can show a great gallop. The other percentage of warmblood comes in key on the last day, for the statistics show that warmbloods excel in the show jumping most of all, contrary to much belief that the dressage is where they dominate.

Tune in next week for the second part of our interview with Wits End Eventing to find out what makes their program unique, and how they are hoping to change the sport horse world for Eventing! Go U.S. breeders!

Sunday Videos: If Horses Were People, Blanketing Edition

The good folks at SmartPak strike again! Their hilarious series “If Horses Were People” has us all in stitches as they accurately describe various hijinks that all of us are familiar with.

When it comes to winter, we all know about the blanketing woes, from dealing with changing them all the time for different weather, to owning the dreaded blanket destroyer, there’s just nothing fun about it. However, SmartPak has managed to make it funny, so enjoy part one of this video above, and follow it up with Part 2, which was just released, below!

 

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Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Normal behavior.

Normal behavior.

Yesterday I went fox-hunting on a young Thoroughbred mare who thought it was quite exciting indeed. She settled at the end, and I think she will get better, but today, I am considering taking an epsom salts bath. I certainly underestimated the physical requirements of a good long hunt in second flight with an enthusiastic Thoroughbred!

I can also feel that my semi-vacation with the horses has left me a little bit unfit; it’s crazy how quickly that happens. Now when I am picking them back up and doing longer trot sets and hunting, I can feel it in my legs! Note to self: Maybe pick up some other exercise routines for the winter?

FEI Global Preview:

Camperdown (AUS) CCI1/2/3*, CIC2/3* [Website]

Puhinui (NZL) CCI1/2/3* [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to Marsha Zebley, the winner of our Cosequin ASU giveaway as part of EN’s 12 Days of Christmas! Marsha, please email sally@eventingnation.com and we’ll get your prize all squared away!

We also owe a big congratulations to Lizzy Jahnke, who was our randomly selected winner of this week’s Fab Freebie, an Ice Horse Emergency Wrap! Lizzy, you can also contact us at sally@eventingnation.com to coordinate your prize.

Great Meadow has announced the dates for the inaugural CIC3*, to be held June 19-21 in The Plains, Va. Mike Etherington-Smith is the course designer, and is already hard at work making his vision come to life. The event will be run the same weekend as Surefire Farm, just down the street, so the intent is for riders to be able to compete in both the upper levels at Great Meadow and the lower levels at Surefire. [Great Meadows]

Following his falling out with New Zealand’s High Performance, Andrew Nicholson is feeling positive about the possible outcomes for next year. After lodging complaints about Nereo’s veterinary treatment at the WEG, Andrew withdrew himself from HP consideration for the 2015 year, but says that now he is open to entering the arena again for his country. He is waiting to hear back from ESNZ in the next couple of weeks to see if they plan on making changes that he feels are necessary for the welfare of his horses in international competition. [Andrew Nicholson Set To Give Kiwis A Leg Up]

Mike Etherington-Smith has confirmed his plans to step down as chief executive for British Eventing. Well known as a four-star cross country course designer, Mike has decided to leave BE this coming spring to pursue more opportunities to course design across the world. He has been offered the opportunity to design Adelaide 2015, and he’s very excited to return to his first love of course design. [Mike ES Steps Down]

Cute kids being entrepreneurial? Always great. Ten-year-old Lottie Wilkins from Old Down in Gloucestershire began by making loom bracelets for all her friends, and then came up with the idea of making funky brow bands for horses. With the help of her aunt Christina Jones, who owns an online equine gift shop, Lottie started making up browband kits and thousands have been sold online since she launched the brand two months ago. [Pony Crazy Kid Makes Loom Bands]

This isn’t going to seem romantic, but Rambo Bungee Tail Cords will literally change your life. Blankets are gross, and one of the biggest struggles of winter is keeping them (and your horse) relatively clean and not stinky or poopy or covered in mud inside and out. If you don’t have a collection of Rambo Bungee Tail Cords for all your blankets yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. So easy to remove and wipe down, you’ll never have a case of “poop butt” again! [SmartPak Product of the Day]

First step to gift wrapping a horse: make sure your horse is real bombproof!

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Nyls surveys his domain. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Nyls surveys his domain. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I’m a big fan of the November and December vacation for my horses, and I think it’s a big part of why they come out refreshed both mentally and physically each spring. However, both of the boys that I have right now don’t particularly enjoy full vacation, so they go on half vacation status. If you don’t touch Nyls for one week, never mind one month, he literally starts tearing things off the walls with his teeth and destroying fences and jumping out….so we’ve compromised and turned November and much of December into hacking, exploring, trotting and gallivanting time. This seems to work for him, as he still gets attention, maintains a reasonable amount of general fitness, but only has to do stuff like four or five days a week.

Yesterday, while leading Nyls in from the field (read: being dragged on the general direction of the barn) he encountered a collection of poop piles which he deemed appropriate to use as cross country jumping practice. As I was dragged forward and lurched into the air, I considered that perhaps he is done with half vacation time. Back to work baby head!

FEI Global Preview:

Camperdown (AUS) CCI1/2/3*, CIC2/3* [Website]

Puhinui (NZL) CCI1/2/3* [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

The riders named on the 2014-2016 UK Sport National Lottery funding World Class development program are some that you’ll recognize. In eventing the riders re-selected were: Jodie Amos, Laura Collett, David Doel, Millie Dumas, Tom McEwen and World Equestrian Games rider Harry Meade. New faces are Sophie Beaty, Rosalind Canter, Emilie Chandler, Harry Dzenis, Sam Ecroyd, William Furlong, Flora Harris, Yasmin Ingham, Tom Jackson, Wills Oakden and Holly Woodhead. [H&H World Class Development Program]

Was Eight Belles’ breakdown after the Kentucky Derby a predictable tragedy? Pedigree analysts are worried about the quality of the thoroughbred breeding process, and say that Eight Belles shattering both of her ankles was closely related to her bloodlines. As the thoroughbreds are created more for speed and less for longevity, what kind of animal are we creating? [Eight Belles Breakdown Predictable]

Mark Todd: the man, the myth, the legend. The Swindon Advertiser goes in depth with the venerable Mark Todd in his yard in Swindon, England. How did Mark get his start riding? How did he rise to fame? Why did he return to the sport after retiring and becoming the horseman of the century? Click here to find out! [In Depth With Sir Mark Todd]

How fit is your farrier?? Send a pic to Horse & Country to enter your farrier for the contest! Note: for all Americans, we aren’t talking about physical fitness, we are talking about hotness. Also, make sure you have your farrier’s consent before posting a saucy photo of him all over the internet. [How Fit Is Your Farrier]

Best of Blogs: Five Rules To Horse Shopping

There’s nothing about this video that I don’t love. 

 

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Clipping Creations: Thanksgiving Hangover Edition

There’s nothing that says “horse person” quite as much as the sensation of a buzzing clipper in your hand for two hours straight, wearing a rain coat and rain pants inside the barn, and sneezing horse hair out of your nose for days. Yep, it must be clipping season. I want to see your amazing, entertaining, beautiful and clever clipping creations. Send me a picture that shows off your artistry and a little blurb explaining what it’s all about. Include the name of your horse, your name and where you are from. Email kate@eventingnation.com!

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Tara, Cape Cod, Mass: My name is Tara, and this is my horse Bailey. She is 28 years old; I am 31 years old. I’ve had her for 20 years, and every year Bailey gets clipped for the winter. About 5 years ago I gave her a full body clip and left a heart on her bum (one on each side). Then one heart turned into two and then three. The hearts became Bailey’s signature clip design every year. She became my real life “My Little Pony.” This year I wanted to try something a little different — swirls. Here are photos of trying something new and fun. Baileys signature hearts still made it on her … they forever will too!”


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Golly Tabatabaie, Ocala Fla.: I am a working student for Leslie Law and Lesley Grant-Law’s Law Eventing. I wanted to share a Union Jack I clipped into one of their horses “Colby,” also known as Tout de Suite! Colby was featured in an EN’s Got Talent in August.”


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Annika Markovich, Minneapolis, Minn: “This is my horse named Rory. His clipping is a flying rhino. There is a story behind his clipping. Rory is a Percheron/Thoroughbred cross. He is more Percheron than Thoroughbred, and my trainer nicknamed him “the flying rhino” after our first eventing show together. Rory and I will be moving up to Training level next season!”


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Lisie Veloso, Baltimore, Md.: “Wanted to share some of my clipping designs with you! This one is a teddy bear for my horse Tommy Boy.”


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Alexa Johnson, Davis Calif.: This is Hank, and this year he got a trident because Poseidon is the God of Horses and Hank is a god in my opinion. We are on the UC Davis Three-Day Eventing Team!”

Black Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Catchin' some rays on the road with Leo.

Catchin’ some rays on the road with Leo.

Holy Turkey Hangover!! I’m surely not the only one who is feeling a little sluggish today after an exciting and exhausting day of family, friends, wine, and lots of stuffing with gravy. Those of you brave enough to go outside today and tackle the Black Friday shops in person, I say God Bless, because I am staying away from town today! Good thing we have the internet for shopping while avoiding the crowds! Be sure to check out our post on Black Friday deals from our favorite sponsors, because now is the time to grab the awesome goods that you’ve been eyeballing all year!! [Black Friday Deals Galore!]

North American Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Thanksgiving H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

In the weirdest way to spend your Friday, you can now vote to name the mascots of the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. Rio has released a funny little video of the two mascots (see below) and are now asking for your input on what to call them! If you can’t recognize them, don’t worry because the Olympic mascot is a mixture of “all the Brazilian animals” and is blessed with their many qualities: the agility of the cats, the sway of the monkeys, the grace of the birds. The Paralympic mascot is a magical creature, a “fusion of all the plants in the Brazilian forests”. The names available are: Oba and Eba, Tiba Tuque and Esquindim, and Vinicius and Tom. Go figure. [Vote Here]

British riders wonder, what exactly IS hunter/jumpers? Horse & Hound went on a mission to figure out what this North American riding sport is, and they got the low down from American college student Yukiko McQueeney. Don’t worry Brits, sometimes I wonder what that’s all about too…[Hunter Jumpers Explained]

A new scientific study shows that while soaking hay reduces dust and carbohydrate content, it also significantly increases the bacteria levels. Soaking or steaming-plus-soaking lowers water-soluble carbohydrates, but significantly reduced the hygienic quality of the hay which can potentially compromise the health of the horse. [Soaking Hay Causes Bacteria]

Build a turkey, win a Tipperary T2 Helmet! In the latest of our wacky contests, we’re asking you to build a turkey from random stuff (wheelbarrows, jumps, hay, grooming tools, saddle pads) found around the barn, and send us a picture to win a Tipperary T2 Helmet. If your creation wins, so do you!! You have a week. GO! [Build A Turkey, Win a Helmet]

SmartPak Product of the Day: EVERYTHING!! SmartPak is having a site-wide 15% off sale today and for Cyber Monday, and it applies to everything including stuff that’s already on sale! And don’t forget, SmartPak orders over $75 are automatically free shipping! [Shop SmartPak Black Friday]

Congrats to Becky Staden, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie for a GoVelope Phone Carrier, in the style & color of her choice. Be sure to check back Monday for next week’s Fab Freebie. [GoVelope Fab Freebie]

Super weird Rio 2016 mascot naming video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmGuf-qWmoA#t=44

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Thanksgiving News & Notes from SmartPak

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Happy Turkey Day, y’all!! Much of the east coast experienced the first snow fall of the season, which pretty much solidifies the feelings of the holidays. My hat is off to those riders who persevered and continued to ride through the snow, because my horses certainly enjoyed a day off while I sat inside next to the fire. I decided that my time was better spent perfecting my biscuits and sausage gravy recipe, binge watching shows on HBO, and baking chocolate bourbon pecan pie for tomorrow. Plus, I think that my horses work hard enough during the rest of the season that they can afford the occasional vacation, to the benefit of my culinary skills.

North American Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Thanksgiving H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has become the first recipient of the FEI lifetime achievement award. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has been presented with the first FEI Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of her leading role as supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign as British monarch. The Queen has long been a champion of horse sports, with her daughter competing in Eventing at the highest levels, and with her involvement in the Thoroughbred industry in England. She also breeds Shetland, Highland and Fell ponies to insure that bloodlines are preserved and enhanced. [Queen Elizabeth Receives Lifetime Award]

 

Don’t worry! The Budweiser Clydesdales aren’t going anywhere!! Social media was aflame this week with rumors that Budweiser had effectively fired all of their clydesdales, and millions of sappy horse people everywhere wept at their computer screens, remembering all of the touching moments of Christmas ads past. Never fear, it was all just a panic induced rumor. [Budweiser Clydesdales NOT Fired]

At 16 years old, Chris Megahey has won his first Puissance, clearing 6.7 feet in Ireland. After winning the Emerald International Puissance, Chris’ thirst for puissance is only just beginning. He partners with Seapatrick’s Cruise Cavalier, who was competed at the three-star level in Eventing by his older brother Harold before becoming Chris’ top show jumper. [16 Year Old Puissance Winner]

 

Do horses learn by watching one another? Mostly we become concerned about this when it comes to bad habits, such as cribbing, weaving, or pawing. However, there is no statistical evidence that observing another horse complete a task expedites the learning curve of another for the same task. Sometimes what we see is social facilitation, which is completely different than learning a new skill. [Horses Don’t Learn by Watching]

Ah, the winning Whitakers. What would we do for a family dynasty like that in the sport of Eventing? They just can’t stop taking over the world. Newest and brightest star: William Whitaker. At the age of 25 he’s already making a name for himself, and looking pretty handsome doing it. [9 Fun Facts About William Whitaker]

Completely not horse related, but amazing nonetheless:

 

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Clipping Creations: Inaugural Fall Celebration

There’s nothing that says “horse person” quite as much as the sensation of a buzzing clipper in your hand for two hours straight, wearing a rain coat and rain pants inside the barn, and sneezing horse hair out of your nose for days. Yep, it must be clipping season. I want to see your amazing, entertaining, beautiful and clever clipping creations. Send me a picture that shows off your artistry and a little blurb explaining what it’s all about. Include the name of your horse, your name and where you are from. Email kate@eventingnation.com!

 

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Heather Salden, Minneapolis MN: “Here’s a photo of my horse Sly.  Every year he gets a wacky haircut, from a zebra one year, to a skeleton the next, I’m always looking for creative ideas!!”

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Tori Traube, Palo Alto CA: I put together a collection of my designs this year and last. We have a lot of fun clipping our lesson horses!”

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Stirling Bishir, Nashville TN: This is the clip I did on my horse Magnus! My obsession (besides eventing) is The Hunger Games, so his show name is Quarter Quell. I also bought him the same weekend that I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Catching Fire LA Premiere last year, so giving him a Mockingjay pin clip seemed the most appropriate!”

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Katlyn Hewson, Ocala FL: “I wanted to send you a few of my clip jobs:) The horses names are Poker Run, Princess Sophia, Heartbreaker and Fernhill Cascum Marco.”

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Heidi Jones, Louisville KY: This is my creative clip of my horse, Brave Knight. He is a 9 yr old OTTB currently competing at Novice. We live in Louisville, Kentucky and love to embrace our Louisville roots with some awesome fleur de lis action (as seen on his beautiful bay butt!!) He is coming back to work after an injury to his hock, so the fact that he is doing enough work to justify a trace clip is an extremely exciting thing. We are looking forward to surviving the winter and aiming for a novice 3 day next year!

Meghan O’Donoghue & Pirate Look Ahead to 2015 and Beyond

Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue and her OTTB Pirate leapt into the hearts of the eventing community last spring when they stormed around their first Rolex CCI4* with a fast and clear cross country round to ultimately finish 12th. Since that time, they’ve enjoyed a fairy tale journey all the way across seas and back again. They completed their second Rolex this spring and were subsequently named as alternates to the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the World Equestrian Games.

Meghan never dreamed that her inexpensive racehorse project would become her ticket to WEG and her key to becoming a household name in the sport of eventing. Her appreciation of this little horse and the opportunities afforded to her are apparent from the moment that you talk to her about her partner. “Pirate is a once in a lifetime horse, and he’s already taken me so many wonderful places,” she said.

The pair spent the summer in Chantilly, France, with the rest of the U.S. team preparing for the world championships. Team coach David O’Connor and show jumping coach Silvio Mazzoni were there every day for weeks beforehand, helping the riders to tweak and improve and learn in the most extraordinary way possible, Meghan said.

“This summer was nothing short of amazing. To be named a WEG alternate at only 25 years of age on my first real upper level horse is something that I’ll never forget,” she said. “I’ll be spending my whole career chasing the chance for more experiences like that.

Photo by Kate Samuels.

Photo by Kate Samuels.

Following the World Equestrian Games, Meghan and Pirate, along with several of the other alternates, returned to Maizey Manor in England as they prepared for Burghley CCI4*. Known as the biggest four-star course we have in the world, it was certainly on Meghan’s bucket list, and she was delighted to have a horse underneath her who exuded confidence in the running and jumping department, she said.

They pulled off a great performance in the dressage, posting their best score to date at that level with a 54.2. In speaking to Meghan after her ride, she was simply elated with Pirate and how he has been maturing in the dressage ring, despite a rather wild warm up.

Pirate’s flat work has improved leaps and bounds throughout this year from the help of David O’Connor and Jacquie Brooks. He did pull out his best test to date at a four-star after a warm up that I hope to never repeat! I was proud of him to hold it all together and perform in the ring after thinking it was time to go cross country in the warm up,” she said.

The pair prepared for cross country the following day, with the biggest track they’d ever seen in front of them. Meghan was positive though, as she felt that there was no better horse than Pirate to be tackling Burghley. They cruised around the first half of the course looking amazing until they suffered a really unfortunate fall at 18b, the airy corner after the Maltings Bounce that caused more than its fair share of problems throughout the day.

“Pirate was thrilled to burst out of the start box and tackle the largest track in the world. The first half was magic! The fall was a huge disappointment. It happened so fast, but from what I can tell, the fall was a combination of being slightly on the wrong line and Pirate struggling to read the extreme width of the corner,” she said. “I’m extremely thankful that we both walked away with no major injuries. This is a tough sport, and I know that won’t be the last disappointing day for me, although at the time it was very hard to swallow.

The past is what it is; you can’t change it, only learn from it. The present must not be taken for granted, and I am always looking to make the most out of any opportunity that comes my way. I am so blessed to have a horse to sit on that has the heart and talent for an event like Burghley.”

Photo by Kate Samuels.

Photo by Kate Samuels.

With Pirate now on vacation, Meghan has returned home to Illinois, where her family runs a thriving equestrian center called Le Cheval de Boskydell. This season was her first year not employed by a professional and feeling out how to run her own business, as she paired with Lynn Symansky for most of the year in Virginia; but now that winter has come, she has gone home to be with her support base in Carbondale.

I have a huge support group at home that I enjoy helping part of the year, and it provides a great base for my passion of doing OTTB sales,” Meghan said. “I still feel there is so much to be exposed to before settling into a permanent situation, and while I’m still a young professional I feel I need to take advantage of the option of not being in one place.”

While Meghan has been the sole owner of Pirate since he was the tender age of 3, she’s taken the plunge into syndication this year and hopes to complete that before the start of the next show season. The syndication will enable her to continue with Pirate on his road to qualifying for Rio 2016, as well as searching for a fresh talent for the future.

As for 2015, Meghan and Pirate are aiming for their third Rolex in the spring, starting with a trip to Florida in the early months to get working before it thaws in Illinois. There she will enjoy more training from the top equestrians in our sport and hopes to take every last opportunity that Pirate offers her of experiences at the upper levels.

“Having this horse that is giving me these opportunities is something I intend to take full advantage of, but I really couldn’t do it without my family, my friends and all my supporters. My amazing sponsors give me confidence and keep Pirate happy and healthy, and everyone who believes in me keep the dream alive.”

Go Meghan and Pirate. Go Eventing.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Too. Tired. Can't. Go. On.

Too. Tired. Can’t. Go. On. Photo by Kate Samuels

The above photo is related to my feeling right now, which is related to the recent weather changes. Every year, the first few weeks that it gets really cold, my body first becomes super hungry, and then super duper tired. It’s like I was meant to hibernate, and because I’m not allowed to, my body just settles with going into a deep state of non-motion as soon as I get inside after a day of working outside. At this point, I’ve basically notified all of my friends that if they want to hang out, it better be on my couch under some blankets and involve watching Netflix, because that’s my plan until I reawaken and acclimatize to the cold weather energy requirements.

North American Weekend Preview:

MeadowCreek Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Central American and Caribbean Games (MEX) CCI1*  [Website] [Entries]

Riobamba (ECU) CCI1* [Website]

News From Around the Globe:

FEI Presidential candidate Ingmar De Vos has big ideas about how to change equestrian sports to match the modern media age.  Ingmar De Vos says the wider organizations need to have the courage to look at competition formats with unbiased, open minds. “If we want to promote our sport in the best way possible, we need to make the sport accessible, exciting and easy to understand for a larger audience,” he suggested. [FEI Presidential Candidate Proposes Changes]

British Dressage golden child Charlotte Dujardin has won sportswoman of the year! After winning individual gold medals at the WEG as well as team silver, setting a world record for high score in the Grand Prix, it’s not really a big surprise. She’s the Michael Jung of Dressage, as she currently holds freestyle and special titles at the Olympic, European and World level. Go Charlotte and Blueberry! [Sportswoman Of The Year]

Badminton Horse Trials has announced their chosen charity for the year 2015. Badminton sponsors one major charity every year in an effort to use the event as an opportunity for fundraising. This year they have chosen Sense, a charity in the UK for people who are deafblind. The charity, that has been supporting and campaigning for children and adults, who are both deaf and blind for nearly 60 years, will be joining equestrian fans at the event in May to fundraise and raise awareness of sight and hearing loss. [Sense Charity Chosen by Badminton for 2015]

21 Ways Horses Change You Forever: I would also like to add “clicking to the slow car in front of you” and strongly suggest that somebody somewhere comes up with a law that requires pedestrian traffic to pass left to left. I mean, really, it’s not that complicated! [Horse & Hound]

Congrats to Cassidy Wallace, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie for a C4 Belt in the colors of her choice. Be sure to check back Monday for next week’s Fab Freebie. [C4 Belts Fab Freebie]

Enjoy the video that I posted yesterday from the UK Jockey Club? Here’s the follow up:

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

"How To Eat A Pear", by Leo.

“How To Eat A Pear”, by Leo.

[Insert generalized winter weather complaints here]. But seriously, you guys. I’m pretty glad that I don’t live in New York right now, as places like Buffalo just got hit with record snow fall, while I’m down in Virginia just complaining that it’s in the teens at night. I’m sending my thoughts to all of you who are struggling through tons of snow, and hope that you are safe and your ponies are snuggly warm somewhere! Good thing we all had practice this spring from the first #snowpocalypse of 2014, so we’re all prepared for the second round? Keep that white stuff away from me!

North American Weekend Preview:

MeadowCreek Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Central American and Caribbean Games (MEX) CCI1*  [Website] [Entries]

Riobamba (ECU) CCI1* [Website]

News From Around the Globe:

GMHA just rescued 23 starving horses in a Vermont seizure situation, and now they need your help! The horses were recently seized from owner Marjatta Lavin, who has plead not guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. GMHA opened up their barn doors to the humane society and is temporarily housing the horses and helping to care for them. The humane society workers say that the horses have clearly suffered years of neglect, and it will be a long road to recovery. The cost of food, veterinary and farrier work is great, and if you’d like to contribute to the cause, you can contact the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society to donate. [Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society] [GMHA Rescues 23 Horses]

Looking to get involved in Rio 2016? What about going as a volunteer for the equestrian sports! If you’re over the age of 18 by that time, and available for ten days during the Olympics, you can apply for one of the 70,000 remaining spots as a volunteer. Volunteers can assist in nine areas, including customer services, sports, press and communication, operational support, ceremonies production, protocol and languages, health services, technology and transport. You have until December 15th to apply! [Rio 2016 Seeks Volunteers]

Reason 57 to move to England: the British Racing School. Not only do they have point-to-point training courses and a pony racing academy, but now they are adding a more in depth course for more experienced riders. In addition to schooling over steeplechase fences and general race riding techniques, the course will include fitness asessments and instruction about rules and regulations, as well as classes on tack and equipment. Sign me up please! [New BRS Course]

Enlightened Opinions: Should The Grand National Be Banned?

Best of Blogs: As winter approaches, I will continue to link to this blog, which speaks to my heart and hopefully will help with the mass hysteria of winter blanketing opinions on the internet: [Blanketing Is Not Bad, and You Aren’t Natural!]

Love love LOVE this promotional video for the UK Jockey Club. 

 

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Amateur or Professional: Where Do You Belong?

Liz Riley: amateur rider turned professional in 2014. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Liz Riley: Amateur rider turned professional in 2014. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As the year winds down, it’s time for USEA year-end awards to be given out to those of us lucky enough to garner them during the competition year. It’s also coming up on the time to renew your memberships with the USEA and the USEF. Both of these things can cause confusion in one particular category: amateur or professional? How do we delineate between the two distinct groups, and how can we be sure that everyone knows what separates one from the other?

In short, professional status is not limited to to those names that you see on the headlines week after week and doesn’t necessarily mean that the horse business is your main source of income. Regardless of one’s accomplishments or riding skills, after your 18th birthday, you must declare either professional or amateur status — or face large fines if you misrepresent yourself either way.

We dusted off the USEF rule book to clarify exactly what makes an amateur and what makes a professional. The USEA uses the USEF Amateur Rule GR 1306 to determine amateur status. The rule defines a professional as any rider who accepts remuneration for services. Remuneration means compensation or payment in any form, such as cash, goods, sponsorships, discounts or services; reimbursement of any expenses; trade or in-kind exchange of goods or services such as board or training.

However, amateurs would be well advised to read the rule, as there are many ways in which you can maintain amateur status if you are not strictly offering equestrian services. Amateurs are permitted to do all of the following: receive reimbursement for expenses related to horses, give instruction to handicapped riders for therapeutic purposes, accept prize money, appear in advertisements related to one’s achievements or that of one’s horse(s), write books or articles related to horses, and accept educational or training grants.

For riders at the Preliminary level and above, the difference is easy to confirm, as riders must also declare amateur or professional status with the USEF. For riders at Training level and below, the USEA relies on the honor system and the surprisingly accurate policing system of other members. The USEA membership form includes an affidavit that every member is asked to sign stating that they are an amateur based on the definition in GR 1306.

A rider is also free to change his or her status from amateur to professional midway through the competition season. The points earned as an amateur remain on the amateur leaderboard, and professional points begin to be earned after the status change is complete. Thus, it is possible for a rider to appear on both leaderboards at the same time in one competition year.

Winter is a great time to brush up on your USEF rulebook, and this is just one example of an important rule to know. As you’re filling out your 2015 USEA and USEF memberships, be sure to check the right category!

Showcase Your Clipping Talent for EN Fame

Fresh clips on Leo and Nyls! Photo by Owie Samuels.

Fresh clips on Leo and Nyls! Photo by Owie Samuels.

It’s that time of the year again … fuzzy ponies, mud, winter wind and blankets all over the place! It’s also time for that activity that fills every part of your body with itchy, scratching fuzz, leaves your arms buzzing for hours afterwards and can be quite tedious with less than willing participants. Clipping season!

Yes, both of my boys look less than enthused, but please let’s appreciate the badass free-hand blanket clips that I gave them this week. I’m a little bit of an old fashioned lady when it comes to clipping, and I will freely admit that my artistry is fully restricted to regular clipping jobs, but I know there are lots of you out there with a little more of an inventive spirit. This is your time to shine!

Every year, I feature clipping artists and their creations on their furry horses in a weekly segment. It’s right about time to ask for your submissions, and I’m ready to receive them. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Clip something awesome onto your horse. It can be a full body design, or just a small piece of art on the bum — pretty much anything. Go wild!
  2. Take a really good photo of your work. Make sure you take a photo that is a good size, features your artistry in good lighting and isn’t blurry because your horse is wiggling around. Show off your clipping skillz as best you can!
  3. Email me at kate@eventingnation.com with your photo, your name, the name of your horse and where you live. You can also include a little backstory blurb. We always love hearing a little something about your relationship with your horse or an explanation as to why you clipped this certain design.

So don’t wait! I know November is the first month of many where you guys are hunkering down and resigning yourself to the clipping life, so have fun with it. I can’t wait to show off how skilled our Eventing Nation readers are and what kinds of clips come from all over the world!

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Horse Selfie!! Photo courtesy of Ann Grenier.

Horse Selfie!! Photo courtesy of Ann Grenier.

Horses like selfies too! Riding in the winter can be pretty awful a lot of the time, so it’s important to figure out ways to have fun with it. Apparently if you live in New Hampshire, you can ride on the beaches in the winter, which is exactly what this pair is doing above. I’m pretty sure galloping on a beach is on my bucket list, but sadly I live in the middle of Virginia with no beaches in sight…. This is Eryn Bardsley on South Shores Dodger, one of Apple Tree Farms most amazing school ponies, and we salute your selfie!

Adelaide CCI4* Links: WebsiteEntriesOrder of GoLive ScoresFEI TV@aus3de

North American Weekend Preview:

Full Moon Farms H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Ocala Horse Properties Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Las Cruces H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Le Pouget (FRA) CCI1*, CIC2*  [Website] [Start Lists/Results]

Woodhill Sands (NZL) CIC1/2* [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

The Ocala Winter Series kicks off tomorrow with the first of four competitions. Top eventers from around the globe will begin competing this weekend in the Ocala Horse Properties’ 2014-2015 Ocala Winter Series. This series consists of four eventing competitions, which begin in November 2014 and culminate with CCI* and CCI** events in April 2015. The series is produced by Equiventures, the official organizer for all USEA competitions at the Florida Horse Park. You should get excited!! [Top Five Reasons to Get Excited for Ocala Winter Series]

The Eventing 25 Program is proving to be a real success. Many of the participants are showing their value at the 3* and 4* level. Meghan O’Donoghue, who has benefitted from the program since it’s inception in 2013, continues to do well at the CCI4* level with her own Pirate. Lizzie Snow and Mackenna Shea are showing their prowess at the 3* level, with top finishes at two CCI3*’s this year each. [Eventing 25 Program Great Success]

Tom Dixon was among the first on the scene when multiple grade I winner Alydar was found in his stall at Calumet Farm in 1990 with a broken hind leg. The insurance adjuster representing Lloyd’s of London, Dixon gave the go-ahead to euthanize Alydar two days later on Nov. 15, 1990 when the stallion fractured another bone in the same leg. Dixon became enmeshed in various investigations and court proceedings that followed the horse’s death and the bankruptcy of Calumet. From the outset, he has maintained that Alydar broke his leg as a result of kicking his stall door. Now 83, Dixon still refutes what he calls various conspiracy theories that have persisted since that night. What follows are his recollections of Alydar’s injuries, death, and the legal aftermath of a tragic occurrence. [Alydar’s Final Hours]

SmartPak Product of The Day? The best coat ever. If you plan on spending time riding, teaching, mucking stalls, generally being outside in the miserable weather, you know how awesome it is to find a coat that protects you from the elements. This Saphira Thermal Coat is definitely on my holiday wish list, because I can imagine bundling up in it for several months. Not only is it awesome on the ground, but it has a spreadable skirt for riding! Totally getting one of these. [Saphira Thermal Coat]

Free next Thursday and Friday? Mary King is coming to town! If you’re near Leesburg, VA, you should head on down to the Mary King clinic at Morven Park. While your horses are on vacation, you can sneak a peak at one of the best riders in the world. Auditing tickets are still for sale. [Mary King Clinic]

This week’s Fab Freebie winner is … Congrats to Susan Corwin, the winner of this week’s giveaway for a gift certificate for a pair of Ariat breeches of her choice! Thank you to Ariat for sponsoring this great prize, and be sure to check back Monday for our next Fab Freebie. [Fab Freebie]

Best of Blogs: Stop Kicking The Horse!!

A little flashback to warmer temps at The Fork 2012…

FlairBuck-Horizontal

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

#DERP. Photo courtesy of Liza Frazier.

#DERP. Photo courtesy of Liza Frazier.

It’s happened: Virginia has seen its first snow forecast for the fall of 2014. I am tentatively NOT going south this year, but actually already regretting it. Yesterday was 70 and beautiful, and then in three days its supposed to wintery mix? No thank you. I gave both my boys a blanket clip, because honestly their excessive sweating during warm day rides was getting a little insane, but now I feel marginally bad. Sorry about your naked necks and bellies, guys!

The only plus side of winter is this: I have to stop working once the dark comes (around 5:30), which means I’m forced to go home and bake more! Yeah, twist my arm why dontcha…however, now I’m inundated with cakes and cookies, which I don’t want to eat, I just want to bake. So, volunteer cookie consumers?

Adelaide CCI4* Links: WebsiteEntriesOrder of GoLive ScoresFEI TV@aus3de

North American Weekend Preview:

Full Moon Farms H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Ocala Horse Properties Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Las Cruces H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Le Pouget (FRA) CCI1*, CIC2*  [Website] [Start Lists/Results]

Woodhill Sands (NZL) CIC1/2* [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

Free next Thursday and Friday? Mary King is coming to town! If you’re near Leesburg, VA, you should head on down to the Mary King clinic at Morven Park. While your horses are on vacation, you can sneak a peak at one of the best riders in the world. Auditing tickets are still for sale. [Mary King Clinic]

California Chrome fans unite! We were all glad to hear that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will indeed continue racing next year as a four year old instead of retiring to the breeding shed, and now here is more interesting information. California Chrome will try his hand at turf! On November 29th, he’s headed to the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby to see if he likes running on the grass, which is a fun twist from his owners and trainer. [California Chrome to Try Turf]

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly a horse around the world? Horse & Hound has this fascinating step by step testimonial from head girl Leanne Masterton about all the details that go into taking a horse to Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, the UK and the US. [Flying Horse Around the World]

At this point, you’ve probably heard of Hamilton BioVet’s Equine Night Check, the very cool new product that promises to detect a lot of equine medical issues. The premise is that the Equine Night Check is a really small piece of metal that monitors the heart rate and motion of a horse while attached to their halter or a neck strap. When something out of the usual happens, you get a call on your phone, and you can rush down to check on your horse. This is great for pregnant mares, horses that colic, or horses that are inside all night and need monitoring. They are funding the project with an IndieGoGo, and you can contribute $15 now and be entered to win an Equine Night Check system as soon as they hit the market! [Equine Night Check System]
Check out the new promo video for the Equine Night Check:

logo_600x100 SmartPak

USEF Announces 2015 Eventing High Performance Training Lists

Buck Davidson and Copper Beech at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beech at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Hot off the presses! Here’s a first look at the riders that have been named to the 2015 Eventing High Performance Training Lists. This year, in contrast to how it has been organized in the past, the Training Lists is only naming riders, and letting them decide which horses to use in training sessions. This is a new technique for the USEF High Performance, and we are intrigued to see how it plays out. We’ll be back in the morning with a full analysis on each pair named to the lists. Congrats to all the horses and riders!

From the USEF:

The USEF Eventing High Performance Committee has approved the following High Performance Training Lists for the 2015 season. In determining these lists for 2015, the USEF Eventing Selection Committee is directly focused on the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team producing successful results at the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2016 Olympic Games. To that effect, the following riders will make plans with U.S. Eventing Team Coach David O’Connor as to which horses they will ride in each session. Training Session dates and locations will be finalized at the USEA Annual Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas in December.

The USEF Eventing High Performance Committee has updated the definitions for the World Class and National Lists and discontinued using the Global Talent Lists to better reflect the aims of the program.  

World Class List:
Athletes that currently possess the ability to be competitive anywhere in the world.

Buck Davidson (Ocala, Fla.)

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.)

Will Faudree (Hoffman, N.C.)

Sinead Halpin (Oldwick, N.J.)

Lauren Kieffer (Ocala, Fla.)

Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.)

Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.)

Kim Severson (Charlottesville, Va.)

Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.)

National List
Athletes that are currently competitive in domestic international-level competition, and who the USEF Selection Committee feel have the future potential to be competitive anywhere in the world.

Maya Black (Clinton, Wa.)

Matt Brown (Sebastopol, Calif.)

Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (East Sussex, UK) 

Lillian Heard (Poolesville, Md.)

Caroline Martin (Miami Beach, Fla.)

Kurt Martin (Middleburg, Va.)

Julie Richards (Newnan, Ga.)

Tamie Smith (Temecula, Calif.)

The Eventing High Performance Training Lists will be reviewed quarterly by the USEF Eventing Selection Committee and the USEF High Performance Committee.