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 to what I was doing this time last year. Nyls killin' it in the SJ! Photo by Jenni Autry.

Flash back Friday to what I was doing this time last year. Nyls killin’ it in the SJ! Photo by Jenni Autry.

This time last year, I was competing my monster, Nyls, in the CIC3* at Plantation. He warmed up beautifully for the dressage, and went in that arena breathing fire. Le sigh. He did the same thing in Show Jumping, having two fences down, which is basically unheard of for that horse, he’s terrified of touching poles because they make a freaky noise. However, he did pull his usual move and make up for all of it by cruising around the cross country with an amazing round. This year, I’m participating in a different competition, one that involves smaller jumps, as well as a baby pool. More on that later!

North American Weekend Preview:

Stoneleigh-Burnham School Fall H.T. [Website]

Plantation Field International CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Times] [Live Scores]

Marlborough H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Otter Creek Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Stanton Farms H.T.  [Website]

Stone Gate Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Pompadour (FRA) CICYH1* [Website]

Ballindenisk (IRE) CCI1/2/3*, CIC1/2/3* [Website]

Vale Sabroso (POR) CCI2*, CIC1* [Website]

Pirassanunga SP (BRA) CCI1*, CIC2*

Hohenberg-Krusemark (GER) CCI2*

Gatcombe Park (GBR) CIC1/2* [Website]

Strzegom (POL) CCI1/2*, CIC1/2* [Website]

Varsseveld (NED) CIC1/2*

Segersjö (SWE) CIC1/2*

Montelibretti (ITA) CIC1/2/3* [Website]

Asian Games – Incheon (KOR) CCI1* [Website]

Pinjarra WA (AUS) CIC1/2/3*

News From Around The Globe:

Where’s Whittington? Teaching a clinic in North and South Carolina! Recent Blenheim Palace CCI3* winner, and twice long-listed for the British Olympic Team, Francis is no slack on the European eventing circuit. He will be in the Charlotte, NC area from December 2-9th, and available for private dressage lessons on the weekdays. During the weekend there will be a show jumping and cross country clinic, with Show Jumping held at Kelsey Briggs Eventing, and Cross Country hosted by the Gibbes Farm on Sunday! Contact Kelsey Briggs to set up your lesson with Francis. [Francis Whittington Clinic Opportunity]

In news of the despicable, there was a spate of saddle thievery at Blenheim last week. Several saddles were stolen from locked trunks in the middle of the night, when the grounds were supposedly secure. Bettina Hoy lost her favorite jump saddle, and Tim Lips had both his dressage and cross country saddle stolen. The attacks were well planned, as they had to cross several fields and climb security fences to get into the stables. However, the thieves dropped a girth, which the police are searching for fingerprints that could lead them to the suspects. [Saddles Stolen at Blenheim]

Scotland is pulling out all the stops for next year’s European Championships, held at Blair Castle. Certainly the Germans have held their place at the top of the mound, long enough, right? The British team is making a bid for a big victory on their home turf, and after a bronze medal place at the WEG a few weeks ago, The Netherlands can’t be ignored anymore either. Local boy Ian Stark is designing the course, and as all the west coast eveners know, his courses are big and bold and attacking. [European Championships Already Shaping Up]

Best of Blogs: I Want To Buy A Horse!! For 10k or less, and I want it to be…

Throw back to 2012, Caroline Martin wins the Plantation Bareback Puissance at 5’11!!

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Best placed first timer pair after XC at Burghley: Hannah Sue & Harbour Pilot. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Best placed first timer pair after XC at Burghley: Hannah Sue & Harbour Pilot. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The weekend is nearly upon us, and one of the most highly anticipated fall competitions is happening up in Pennsylvania, starting today. I am, of course, talking about Plantation Field Horse Trials, which includes levels from Training through a CIC3*, which is pretty incredible by itself. Jenni will be on the grounds starting today, and will be assuredly bringing us hot and fast coverage on all the excitement. I’m not competing this weekend, because I have another challenge ahead of me, but I’ll tell you guys about that next week!

North American Weekend Preview:

Stoneleigh-Burnham School Fall H.T. [Website]

Plantation Field International CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Times] [Live Scores]

Marlborough H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Otter Creek Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Stanton Farms H.T.  [Website]

Stone Gate Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Pompadour (FRA) CICYH1* [Website]

Ballindenisk (IRE) CCI1/2/3*, CIC1/2/3* [Website]

Vale Sabroso (POR) CCI2*, CIC1* [Website]

Pirassanunga SP (BRA) CCI1*, CIC2*

Hohenberg-Krusemark (GER) CCI2*

Gatcombe Park (GBR) CIC1/2* [Website]

Strzegom (POL) CCI1/2*, CIC1/2* [Website]

Varsseveld (NED) CIC1/2*

Segersjö (SWE) CIC1/2*

Montelibretti (ITA) CIC1/2/3* [Website]

Asian Games – Incheon (KOR) CCI1* [Website]

Pinjarra WA (AUS) CIC1/2/3*

News From Around The Globe:

For the first time, New York’s Central Park will play host to some of the best equestrian athletes in the world as they converge upon the inaugural Central Park Horse Show, running from September 18 through September 21. Wellington Equestrian Realty LLC (Wellington, Fl.) has announced its sponsorship of the event, which will feature a $210,000 Grand Prix, a Central Park Dressage Challenge, and a Polo Challenge.

As a part of their sponsorship, Wellington Equestrian Realty LLC will be offering a $5,000 Owner’s Award to the winning owner in the Central Park Dressage Challenge, slated to be held on September 20. “Our goal with the Owner’s Award is to give back to the owners of the sport, who are so important and instrumental,” Wellington Equestrian Realty’s Matt Varney said. “We will be offering a $5,000 donation to the charity of the winning owner’s choice, which is a great way to also give back to some of the great causes supported by so many in the equine world.”

The Owner’s Award will provide a natural segue into a similar offering at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fl., home base of Wellington Equestrian Realty LLC. [Central Park Horse Show] [Wellington Equestrian Realty]

With Washington D.C. in the hunt for the 2024 Olympics, Morven Park is amping up their potential as the host to the equestrian competitions. This week, they are breaking ground on a  whole new complex, including four new outdoor arenas, an indoor stadium complex, more barns and parking. They are also putting a ton of effort into restoring the current facilities, and I can’t wait to see the progress! [Morven Park Bids for 2024 Olympics]

Looking for a little extra practice before you head to Fair Hill in a month? Radnor Hunt Horse Trials has got your back, because they just added a combined test for the 2* and 3* levels JUST for you lucky folks who a prepping for a fall three-day. Also, there will be an outstanding pig roast right after the competition, so there’s that (free bbq and you can count me in!). [Radnor Hunt Horse Trials]

East and West coast travel grant applications are currently being accepted for USEF riders who wish to get a little boost in their efforts towards a fall three-day. Travel grants may be provided through the USET Foundation from the Jacqueline B. Mars Grant for a West Coast rider to travel East for the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI3*. Additionally the USEF High Performance Committee has allocated Land Rover Competition Grants to support riders wishing to travel either to the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI3* from the West Coast or to the Galway Downs CCI3* from the East Coast. They are due on September 26th! [Apply for Travel Grant Here]

Calling All SHN Success Stories! Horse shopping can be a long and stressful operation. Buyers want to find their perfect new partner, and sellers want their horses to go to the right home. If you used EN’s classified site Sport Horse Nation to find your new best eventing friend, we want to hear about it! Email classifieds@eventingnation.com with “SHN Success Story” in the subject.

Shout out to my girl Kate Chadderton…who finally updated her website. It’s looking pretty snazzy, so check it out! [Kate Chadderton Eventing]

Here’s a great flashback: an interview with Andrew Nicholson from 1993, before he was the silver fox!

 

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Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Different Kinds of Canters

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Photo by Kasey Mueller

Photo by Kasey Mueller

From Sally:

At the lower levels, the working canter that is used in the dressage test is typically not the only type of canter that we need to use in our jumping phases. It is not until a horse is competing at the Intermediate or Advanced level that the canters in the dressage have the balance, energy and different lengths of stride that we need to be able to use in our jumping phases.

With all of my lower-level horses, I try to make sure I have several different canters that I can quickly access. The canter I need to a ramp faced jump on flat ground can be a bit lower in balance, longer in stride, and I can travel at more speed. A downhill vertical will call for a more uphill balance, shorter length of stride and less speed. On a spooky horse, I will make sure even if I am galloping at more speed that I ride it in a more uphill balance so it stays in front of my leg.

We need to be able to pick the balance and activity of the canter at all speeds. If a horse doesn’t balance well at speed, then we need to slow the horse down until we can get to a speed where we can get the balance that the jump calls for. Usually the fastest cross-country horses are not the fastest horses in general, but the ones that are the easiest to set up for the jumps.

Even in the show jumping, we need several different canters. We need a different canter to a 36-foot two-stride than we would to a 33-foot two-stride line. I don’t think our goal should be to have smooth jump rounds but to be able to get the canter required for the questions asked by the course designer. Their job is to set a course that tests our horse training.

Victoria Jessop and Desert Mystery Aim for Fair Hill CCI2*

Victoria Jessop & Desert Mystery on their way to a 3rd place at Jersey Fresh CCI2* this spring. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Victoria Jessop & Desert Mystery on their way to a 3rd place at Jersey Fresh CCI2* this spring. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Victoria Jessop started riding practically as soon as she could walk and has been working steadily towards success in the eventing world for many years. After her recent win at the Richland CIC2* with her OTTB Desert Mystery, she feels like she’s finally breaking into the top levels of competition here in the U.S., she said, and is excited to tackle the CCI2* at Fair Hill in the fall.

Victoria grew up in England with a very horsey mum and was involved with British Pony Club at a very young age. Demanding that her parents take her to Badminton every spring, the young enthusiast decided she wanted to grow up and become Virginia Holgate, also known as Ginny Leng, rider of the famed Murphy Himself and Priceless. This decision led to an early love of the color purple, which continues today in her cross-country color scheme.

After a summer working student position with Lucinda Green, Victoria was completely hooked and decided to begin working behind the scenes at the top levels by grooming professionally. Her job with the Japanese eventing team led her to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and she never left the U.S. after that, proceeding to work for Carl Bouckaert, Jan Byyny and the O’Connors before starting her own business in Middleburg, Va.

Victoria & Dez participating in the William Fox-Pitt clinic last fall. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Victoria & Dez participating in the William Fox-Pitt clinic last fall. Photo by Kate Samuels.

In 2007, she found a special Thoroughbred gelding through Rusty Carrier, a racehorse trainer who occasionally sent her a group of Thoroughbreds for some extra flat and jump training. Desert Mystery (Mojave Moon X Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby) had been a good racehorse under Jonathan Sheppard, but the lifestyle had fried his brain.

“Dez was the 3 year old that was my favorite even though he was a fruit loop,” Victoria said. “I really wanted to save him, so when the trainer retired him, he gave me first dibs, and I was lucky enough to have a wonderful lady named Mrs. Braga who bought him for me.” Mrs. Braga owned Dez all the way through his eventing career up until a few months ago, and even at the age of 93 she still follows their success and is incredibly supportive of the pair.

Dez’s start as a sport horse was inauspicious. “He was pretty wild at the beginning, and I actually refused to get on him at the first two shows that I entered,” Victoria said. Dez can be quite a good mover, but she says that he struggles with the classic Thoroughbred nerves and can get very tight in his back, which makes for some interesting dressage scores and some tense show jumping rounds. “We are always working on his relaxation, but he’s a cross country machine. He’s got a wonderful gallop; that’s what he was bred to do,” she said.

At the Richland Park CIC2* a few weeks ago, the pair really put all three phases together, winning the dressage and cruising around the jumping phases to take home the top prize. Dez put forth a great effort on the flat, scoring a 44.4 and leading over the field of 39 starters. They pulled one pole in the show jumping to drop out of the lead, but their double clear cross-country round brought them back into first place at the end of the weekend.

Not only does Dez enjoy a very personalized program to ensure his success, but he takes his groom, Barry, with him everywhere. Barry also doubles as Victoria’s husband and partner at Little River Farm in Middleburg, where they have a small training facility together. Barry also competes his horse After Hours at the Preliminary level when he isn’t grooming for his lovely wife.

Victoria, Dez & Barry at the Jersey Fresh jogs. Photo by Allison Springer.

Victoria, Dez & Barry at the Jersey Fresh jogs. Photo by Allison Springer.

“Barry is undoubtedly the most patient, loving husband there is, and I certainly couldn’t have come this far without his constant support and horsemanship,” Victoria said. “It’s so great to be able to share our passion for the horses and the sport. Dez adores Barry; he is basically his security blanket, and he is a great calming influence for both of us when the nerves are up.”

When asked about her plans for the future with Dez, Victoria says that he will do another CCI2* this fall at Fair Hill. He made his debut at Jersey this spring, finishing in third place, but will get another run at the level for this year. They are moving up to the Advanced level this weekend at Plantation Field to get a little extra challenge, but the plan was always to get a solid run at Fair Hill CCI2* before tackling the Advanced and three-star level next year.

“I definitely think he could go to Rolex, but I never thought we would come this far, so we just take each day as it comes and try to make sure we are ready,” Victoria said. “I’m just so thankful to have the support of my trainer Allison Springer; all my wonderful friends; Devoucoux Saddles; Mrs. Braga; Barry; and, of course, my parents, who always say the right thing no matter what happens.”

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Photos of horses jumping invisible ditches are fun. Sam Griffiths & Happy Times at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Photos of horses jumping invisible ditches are fun. Sam Griffiths & Happy Times at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Yesterday, I learned what could be called an “obvious lesson”. I was riding my last horse of the day, and feeling a little bit jelly-legged from returning to full work after a week in England not riding anything at all. My horse was feeling a little fresh, and so I turned to one of my favorite methods, which is to say “Oh, you’re feeling funky huh? Let’s gallop straight up this long hill and see how funky fresh you feel then!”. This went well for….a few strides…until he pulled a prong-sideways scoot-buck move, and I found myself mid-air without a horse underneath me. Somehow I managed to fall directly onto my knees, in a kneeling position. This was the lesson: NEVER FALL ON YOUR KNEES. It was a terrible decision, and I am mentally listing the things that I would rather have bruised than my knees, and it’s a long list.

North American Weekend Preview:

GMHA September H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm September CIC & H.T. [Website] [Times] [Live Scores]

Dunnabeck H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Feather Creek H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Flying Cross Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Times]

Whidbey Island H.T. [Website] [Entry Status SATURDAY] [Entry Status SUNDAY]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Blenheim (GBR) CCI/CIC3* [Website] [Live Scores]

Jardy (FRA) CCI/CIC1*

Langenhangen (GER) CIC1/2* [Website]

Bonza (COL) CCI1*, CIC2*

Pompadour (FRA) CICYH1*

News From Around The Globe:

Stop what you’re doing right now, and remember how impressed you were with Libby Head & Sir Rockstar this spring at Rolex. The tiny jumping bean Rocky is trying to get overseas and compete at Pau CCI4* this fall (which I personally think will be exactly his cup of tea!), and Libby is raising money to help make that happen. The silent auction begins on Monday, and she has some very awesome things to offer: lessons with Kyle Carter, Jon Holling and many more, entries to Chatt Hills, River Glen, or Full Gallop, an IRH Elite helmet, a breeding to ArdCeltic Art, three coolers from Rolex, and several awesome tack gift certificates. This weekend, you decide what you want to bid on! [Send Libby & Rocky to Pau]

Emily King has taken the lead at Blenheim, sitting in first place in the CCI3* in her first attempt at the level. She is pretty thrilled to be there, and has her mom, Mary King, on groom duty for her, although she says that she’s been slacking! With a 35.4, she sits ahead of William Fox-Pitt on his two mounts, Freddie Mac and Seacookie, heading into cross country. [Teenager Takes Lead At Blenheim]

Rothchild, while finishing just outside the top four at the WEG in show jumping, won the hearts of the crowd with his feisty spirit. McClain Ward, so well known for riding the regal mare Sapphire, rode “Bongo” to fifth place, which was disappointing, as many of us wanted to see what the other top four riders would make of the little spitfire. “If he were a person I’d go have a beer with him. He’s a cool character and he’s straight. It is how it is. I appreciate that”. [COTH: Rothchild Was The Little Horse Who Could]

H&H blogger Coral Keen didn’t have the round she wanted in her first Burghley, and has quickly re-routed to Blenheim. Her four-star round was cut short by a few too many run-outs with Wellshead Fare Opposition, which she says was partly due to the atmosphere and crowds on the cross country course, which distracted him. She’s turned around quickly to Blenheim to practice some tips she picked up from Lucinda Green earlier this week. [Coral Keen's Event Diary]

Flash Back Friday: Rolex 2014

http://youtu.be/MJnhAVOcUhM

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Thursday Video: BuzzterBrown Takes on WEG Cross Country

One of our favorite eventing enthusiasts with a camcorder, Buzzterbrown, was amongst the brave few people who attempted to survive the WEG this year, and he managed to get some great footage. That is, after he spent approximately four hours in the car trying to travel ten miles to get there! While I’m sure you’ve heard and seen almost everything concerning the WEG, I thought after a week of break, you might be ready for some more cross country action, and maybe a few rides that you didn’t catch due to the FEI TV irregularities. Enjoy!

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

William Fox-Pitt & Moonie through the last combination at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

William Fox-Pitt & Moonie through the last combination at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I’m back from Burghley, and I think almost recovered from my whirlwind of a trip! I have a bajillion photos that I don’t even know what to do with. I even edited through them and deleted the bad ones, and I still have so many! If you aren’t following Eventing Nation on Instagram….I don’t know what you’re doing because that is where we post all the extra photos and fun updates on Chinch and his travels. So, you should probably go do that right now.

North American Weekend Preview:

GMHA September H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Poplar Place Farm September CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Times]

Dunnabeck H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Feather Creek H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Flying Cross Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Times]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Blenheim (GBR) CCI/CIC3* [Website] [Entry Status]

Jardy (FRA) CCI/CIC1*

Langenhangen (GER) CIC1/2* [Website]

Bonza (COL) CCI1*, CIC2*

Pompadour (FRA) CICYH1*

News From Around The Globe:

Nominations are open for the annual USEA Appreciation Awards, do you know somebody who deserves to win? These awards are an opportunity to shine the light on competitors that are exemplary in their courage and sportsmanship, as well as non-riders who work behind the scenes tirelessly. There are also awards for those who are competing beyond the age of 60, and young riders who give back to the sport. Nominate your friends now! [USEA Appreciation Awards]

Checked out the Eventing Radio Show this week? I ran into Samantha Clark at Burghley, and I can tell you that this episode is sure to have some great nuggets of inside information from that competition. This week Samantha and Jess chat with Jackie Green and Rodney Powell about the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and re-hash WEG one more time. [ERS Episode 317]

A staff member at the National Museum of Australia has found pieces of Phar Lap’s heart preserved since his death in 1932. Thought to have been previously discarded, this employee found pieces of his aorta and heart perfectly preserved. The champion racehorse, whose preserved heart is on display at the museum in Canberra, was a Depression-era hero in Australia, with a phenonmenal series of wins. He then travelled by ship to North America, where he won the richest race in North America at his first start. Two weeks later, he died in mysterious circumstances. [Phar Lap's Heart Found]

The fall season is upon us, which brings about a few things we love, and a few more things that we hate. Great things about fall: cooler temperatures, softer footing, no more flies, and fall three-days! Less great things: clipping, mud, cleaning a million stalls every morning, mud, and realizing that it’s winter soon. Horse & Hound put together a great list that describes the rider’s struggle with fall, which I agree with completely except for the last bit about “chilblains”, because what is that?! [Nine Reasons Riders Love (And Hate) Autumn]

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Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Choosing A Bit

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

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From Sally:

Finding the right bit for a horse can really improve its way of going. When I’m deciding what bit to use on a horse, I start by determining what type of mouth piece it prefers. Does it like a single joint, a double joint or a mullen mouth? I will often ask my vet or dentist if there is anything they have seen in the construction of the horse’s mouth that could help me narrow that down. For example, does it have a particularly fat tongue, low pallet or fleshy bars?
If a plain snaffle isn’t enough I might change the surface of the snaffle but keep the same mouth piece, adding rollers or a twist. As I move the horse up the levels and increase the speed, I might have to go even further. I then try to figure out what type of pressure the horse will tolerate.  For some horses leverage works well, others a bit with a curb chain, sometimes a bit with a port, or more nose pressure. You can further tweak that by adjusting the type of nose band you use.
If you have a horse that’s not great in the show jumping, I have found that it’s very important to have a completely different bridle for the show jumping than the one I use for cross country. This helps them mentally switch gears and makes it clearer when we want to use a different canter. For a number of horses that aren’t particularly clean show jumpers, a hackamore can be very effective, but I’m not a fan of them for cross country because I have trouble turning with them. This is also true for bits with leverage, the longer the leverage on the bit the harder the steering becomes.
If I have a horse in training that starts to become fussy or seems unhappy in its work I check to see the last time the horse had its teeth done.  Even if they are not due to be done, I will still have them checked to be sure the horse hasn’t done something to damage a tooth or develop an infection.
It is also important to match the rider and the horse. I always keep in mind what the previous rider used. But if the horse is going from a larger male rider to a smaller women chances are the same bit will not work as well.

Burghley Show Jumping Photo Gallery + Press Conference Video

Marilyn & Demi

Marilyn & Demi

The weekend has concluded, and the results are in: Andrew Nicholson is an absurdly good rider and that is that. I was secretly (not-so-secretly) rooting for Jock Paget to win, because I thought that might have been a sign that the universe was on his side, but I figure that second place is just about good enough.

Covering a competition like this is emotionally and physically draining. I got goosebumps on my whole body and nervous stomach syndromes when an American rider went out on course, and the blood drained right out of my head when I heard of problems on the cross country course. I want so badly for all of them to go well, but that simply isn’t the nature of the sport.

Watching sixty-some dressage tests all in a row is an excellent way to learn the difference between bad, good, and excellent, and I recommend it to anybody who is looking for some free education from the best riders in the world.

Follow that up with watching how some riders made that unbelievably difficult cross country course look like a smooth hunter round, and then try to emulate them as best you can. When you see some riders struggle terribly with what others seemed to find a simple gymnastic, you know it’s a good course design, because it reveals the weaknesses that shouldn’t be there at this level.

As the token American in the press room, I had a great time enthralling people with my “southern” accent, and eating crêpes with pineapple and cheese (don’t hate until you try it) every morning. The experience of Burghley was amazing, and it was by far the best organized competition that I’ve ever attended, ever. For now, I am heading back to that states to sleep for a while, but I’ll leave you with a photo gallery of the top twenty-five in show jumping today, and a funny press conference video. Enjoy!

Final Press Conference Video:


 

 

 

 

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury Win Burghley Horse Trials For A Record Third Time

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury on their way to a win. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury on their way to a win. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The sun finally came out today at Burghley, to bring along a historic day in Eventing history. Andrew Nicholson and Avebury have just become your 2014 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials champions, which makes them the first combination in history to ever win three times consecutively. Avebury is now the only horse to have ever won Burghley three times, much less three times in a row. While he certainly gave us all a few heart attacks by rubbing almost every fence, they jumped a clear round with two time penalties to finish on their score of 48.1.

“Going into the competition, I see that the biggest danger to me and Sam is Jock, he’s been very consistent with the jumping and I’ve had to tag along behind him before,” said Andrew after his win. “When he jumped clear, and luckily Sam had a couple down, I knew I could have a couple down and still be there, so I thought just keep my cool and ride him like I ride him and trust him to do the job of it.”

The course, unlike yesterday, was not taking too many prisoners as we began with the top twenty-five riders. Clear rounds were coming fairly often, with twelve horse and rider combinations turning in double clear results at the end of the day, and two more jumping clear with two time penalties. The course included a lot of roll-back turns, and the distances in combinations required a lot of power off the ground, requiring a clever and very careful horse with energy left to spare.

Most horses came out looking surprisingly fresh today after a hard day of cross country yesterday, but unfortunately third-placed Armada was looking very tired and pulled four rails to drop to eighth place. There were several problems at fence number five, which was the second element of the first triple combination, with that pole falling more often than any other jump. A few horses also mis-read the gate at number seven, which resulted in a few awkward hops and several knock-downs.

Clifton Promise and Jock Paget jumped a clear round again at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels

Clifton Promise and Jock Paget jumped a clear round at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels

While I will not conceal that I wanted Jock Paget to get the ultimate redemption and win the whole competition, I think that a second placed ribbon will do very well. Promise has become very consistent in the jumping phases, and the sixteen-year old gelding looked very sprightly today, pulling off a lovely smooth and easy clear round, which moved them up the leaderboard again and again as rails fell ahead of them. Jock got one of the loudest cheers at the end of his round, and it’s good to know that he has supporters here at Burghley.

“I’m sitting on a very good horse. He was jumping well and the course was riding well, so I felt good,” Jock spoke to us in the press conference. “I did my best, I put in my best performance and my horse gave me everything and it wasn’t good enough to win on the day, so it’s not my competition. But I’m very happy with him, he’s a very consistent horse and has a great record at four-star. He comes out and gives me everything and that’s all I can ask for.”

Sam Griffiths & Happy Times finished third. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sam Griffiths & Happy Times finished third. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sam Griffiths, in quest of the second leg of his Grand Slam dream, entered the ring with one rail in hand over Jock Paget, who had moved up right behind him after Armada dropped four rails. Unfortunately, Happy Times had two rails behind, which just slipped him 2.6 points behind Jock, and gave him a third placed finish overall. This will make their fifth Burghley completion, and their second time finishing in third place, which is an accomplishment all on its own.

“I was desperate to do a clear round and put a bit of pressure on Andrew, but as it turned out Mr. Cool here still won. I felt I had a couple of cheap rails, but I was pleased with how the horse jumped and finished,” Sam said in the press conference. “The jumping can be a bit of his achilles heel, but he jumped pretty well and I had a good warmup so I’ve got no excuses. It was disappointing not to go clean, but to finish third at Burghley is an immense thrill.”

While we are talking about top finishers, let’s all just take a moment to acknowledge how New Zealand and Australia positively dominated this competition, each with three riders in the top ten at the end of the weekend. They were only beaten by the British, who finished four riders in the top ten, and four more in the top fifteen. We need some of what they are drinking!

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter finished on a 96.9. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter finished on a 96.9. Photo by Kate Samuels.

After our disappointment this morning to learn of the withdrawal of Hannah & William, we sent two riders into the show jumping arena, both in the top twenty-five individually. Marilyn and Demi were third to enter the ring after the lunch break, and they jumped a stellar clear round, finishing their fifth CCI4* and first Burghley together in good style. This is the first time that Demi has jumped double clear in the show jumping, and I’m sure Marilyn will be positively thrilled with her mare. They finished on the score of 96.9 for 20th place, and are the highest place American pair. 

Allison and Arthur went in the ring soon afterwards, and although Allison said that he pulled up well after cross country yesterday, he did look a bit fatigued, and touched almost every rail. Arthur was amongst the horses that completely mis-read the gate at number seven, giving us all a heart attack when he pulled out a fifth leg to scramble over it. He eventually pulled two rails, and they finished their weekend on a 97.6 for twenty-first place, just right behind Marilyn and Demi.

A fantastic end to the weekend of exciting Burghley action, and the Chinch and I are back off stateside tonight. Be sure to check out all of our Burghley coverage throughout the weekend if you missed any of it, and stay tuned for additional photo galleries and videos from the competition.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage] [Burghley TV] @eventingnation

 

39 Horses Progress to Show Jumping at Burghley, Hannah Sue Burnett Withdraws [UPDATE]: Marilyn’s 21 Penalties Will Stand

Current leaders, Andrew Nicholson & Avebury. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Current leaders, Andrew Nicholson & Avebury. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The second horse inspection dawned bright and brisk this  morning, with just forty-two horses completing the cross country course of the previous day. Four horses were sent to the holding box, including Roo Fox’s Fleet Street, Imogen Murray’s Wiseguy IV, Tom Crisp’s Cooly’s Luxury, and Matthew Heath’s The Lion. All but Fleet Street were accepted upon re-inspection. Sophie Jenman withdrew Geronimo before the trot ups, and did not present. There was a particularly tense moment when Jock Paget was asked to jog Clifton Promise twice, but they were accepted upon the second go-around and the crowd sighed with relief.

Two Americans presented at the jogs this morning, and both Allison Springer with Arthur and Marilyn Little with RF Demeter passed without problem. Sadly, however, Hannah Sue Burnett withdrew Harbour Pilot this morning, after he completed a superb cross country round yesterday. Both Karen and David O’Connor assured me this morning that while William was not suited to present today, the injury is minor, and he will be back at it before long.

[UPDATE 8:39 a.m. EST]: PRO has just confirmed via the Technical Delegate Phillip Surl that Marilyn’s 21 penalties will stand. The 21 penalties will leave her on a score of 96.9 for 24th place after show jumping.

Statement from Hannah Sue:

After a stellar performance yesterday, we have sadly had to withdraw William from the rest of competition due to a concern to his soundness. We are confident that he will be ok but William’s well being is of utmost importance to me and my wonderful team. Thank you for the tremendous support. I’m so proud of my horse and my team this week.”

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I also spoke with David and Karen about the twenty-one penalties that Marilyn was assessed for breaking the frangible pin at the corner of the Maltings complex yesterday, and they said that the jury is still out. They are hopeful that the penalties will be removed, as they feel very strongly that Marilyn was well on the left side of the fence, which was the delineation that Captain Mark Phillips set forth for penalization decisions.

Several riders ran into trouble here, including Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate earlier in the day. The decision will be made before Marilyn’s show jumping round this afternoon, and could rocket her up the standings if the penalties are removed. You can see a GIF of Marilyn’s problem fence HERE on Sally’s open thread from yesterday.

Show jumping is held in two parts today, beginning at 11:10 a.m. BST (6:10 a.m. EST) for the first fifteen combinations, and after a lunch break the final riders will go, starting at 2:35 p.m. BST (9:35 a.m. EST).

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV]  

Hannah Sue Burnett Leads American Riders at Burghley

Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot, in 7th place overnight. Photo courtesy of Serge Ferragut.

Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot, in 7th place overnight. Photo courtesy of Serge Ferragut.

The day of cross country was one of mixed results for the small group of mighty Americans here at Burghley, with disappointment, elation, and everything in between. We go into show jumping tomorrow with Hannah in seventh place, Allison in 20th place, and Marilyn in 24th place.
Hannah was the last U.S. rider to run the course today, and she noted that she was more nervous for this course than she has ever been before, and was completely enthralled to have come through the finish line safely.
“It feels amazing, I’ve been so nervous this week. It was good to go through those fears and conquer it, and my horse was just so good”. Hannah spoke to us in a post cross country interview, after she had hugged everyone several times.
“It rode extremely fast, I felt like I didn’t have any time in my mind to in my mind slow down, like I was rushing the whole time. He was jumping fantastically, jumping bigger than I expected. I couldn’t be more happy with him!”
Allison Springer & Arthur through Discovery Valley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Allison Springer & Arthur through Discovery Valley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Allison Springer was the only American rider with previous Burghley experience, and although Arthur looked fantastic all the way around, they suffered a small blip at the B element of the Rolex combination, with a run-out to the right of the corner.
“I really went out, this is a big opportunity to do well, and time was very hard to make, so I really set out strong. He felt super through all that first stuff, and we were close to our minutes”.
“Unfortunately though, my line just wasn’t right over the Vicarage Vee and it just felt like two-and-a-half. It’s just very disappointing because he’s jumping so well and galloped great, and I think he finished really well”.
Marilyn Little & RF Demeter over the first hurdle. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter over the first hurdle. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little was the third rider to go out for the U.S. riders, and she had a good round with RF Demeter to complete their first Burghley cross country course. Demi was certainly a little spooky out there, but Marilyn rode in a very determined way and got the job done.
“It was really hard! It was a lot of fun, it was really a thrill to be riding around out there. The legends are true, it’s just as hard as they say. It just keeps coming at you, and unlike a lot of courses it just doesn’t feel like there are any let up fences, so it’s big and it’s hard, but things just keep coming.”
“I’m so lucky with Demi, she’s just got an amazing heart, and she fought the whole way home.”
However, Marilyn was assessed 21 penalties for breaking the frangible pin at the Maltings, when Demi just put her hind legs down over the corner. David came over during our interview, and assured us that they would be arguing against the penalties, because he did not believe it was Marilyn’s fault. At the end of the day, unfortunately, the judges ultimately decided that the penalties should stay, and they finish the day in 24th place.
Meghan O'Donoghue & Pirate through the Hurdles. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue & Pirate through the Hurdles. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Unfortunately for Meghan O’Donoghue and her wonderful Thoroughbred Pirate, things went awry at the Maltings as well. It seems that Meghan and Pirate arrived at that massive airy corner on a bit of a half stride and couldn’t quite make it. They had a bit of a scary fall, and Pirate ran off afterwards. However, we’ve received word from their camp that both of them are fine and well, but very disappointed and a little shocked.

The second horse inspection is at 9 a.m. BST tomorrow morning (4 a.m. EST), where we hope that all the horses show up sound and ready to go! Please enjoy the interviews and photo gallery in the meantime.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV]

Hannah Sue’s Cross Country Interview

Allison’s Cross Country Interview

Marilyn’s Cross Country Interview

 

 

 

Andrew Nicholson Takes Over The Lead After Burghley Cross Country

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury. Photo by Kate Samuels.

An exciting day of cross country action has concluded here at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and what a day it was. When riders say that this is the toughest CCI4* in the world, they certainly aren’t exaggerating. While the footing was good and the course seemed fair but challenging, nobody came in under the time, and twenty-three pairs were either eliminated or retired on course.

Andrew Nicholson went as the very last pair on course, and delivered an impeccable round with Avebury, coming closest to the time of anybody, logging only 5.6 penalties. This puts him in first place on a 46.1. The stakes could not be higher for him, as he is certainly gunning for his third consecutive win with Avebury, which is an incredible feat.

“I thought it went very very well, I started off a little quieter than I normally do with him, I normally start off at the same speed I finish on him,” said Andrew. “I knew we had quite a bit in hand, so I thought, ‘Don’t be stupid and do something silly at the beginning’ so that cost me seconds”.

Oliver Townend gunning for the finish with Armada. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Oliver Townend gunning for the finish with Armada. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Andrew’s sentiments about the time were echoed by second fastest Oliver Townend riding Armada for the horse’s twelfth CCI4* cross country completion. They came in under the wire with only 6.8 time penalties, which places them in third on a 55.1. “As long as I do my job right, 90% of the time he helps me out. The time was un-gettable as far as I’m concerned, Armada is a very quick horse, and I was amazed after the Trout Hatchery how quickly and how far I dropped behind the time”.

Sam Griffiths, who has stayed in the top three throughout the weekend, sits in second place with a 49.8 after adding 9.6 time penalties to his score. However, he had a very different ride than the others in the top ranks, as he went relatively early in the day, and was also held twice during his round. “I was fairly early on, so I didn’t know quite how influential the time was going to be. I had feedback that no one was getting close to it. My horse has got a lot of Thoroughbred in him and he’s a great galloper. So I though I’ll just give it a bit of a cut and try and go as fast as I can”.

Sam Griffiths & Happy Times at Discovery Valley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sam Griffiths & Happy Times at Discovery Valley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The American contingent had a day of mixed results, but finished in high spirits. Allison Springer went out first, and I saw her through the Discovery Valley, where Arthur looked fantastic and Allison looked determined. Sadly, she and Arthur suffered a run-out at the B element of the Rolex Combination, which caused a fair amount of trouble throughout the day.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate went out next, and looked super through The Hurdles where I saw them, but fell prey to the Malting’s, arriving to the big airy corner on a half stride and having a rather scary fall, which ended their Burghley trip too early. Marilyn Little followed soon after and had a cracking round, with Marilyn riding as hard as she could, but they were assessed 21 penalties for breaking the frangible pin on the corner of the Maltings when Demi just put her hind legs down. David O’Connor assured us that they will be challenging this decision, and we await the decision.

The last to go, Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, positively smoked the course, coming home with only 13.2 time penalties. This puts them into seventh place overnight, and makes them the highest placed American pair going forward. We will be bringing you interviews and more detailed reports on that later.

Fourth placed Jock Paget & Clifton Promise. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Fourth placed Jock Paget & Clifton Promise. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Trouble was spread all around the course, with several falls and mishaps along the way. Problems were spread amongst Discovery Valley, The Malting’s combination, the Hurdles in the main arena, the Rolex Combination and the Trout Hatchery. We have received word that while both Gina Ruck and Natalie Blundell were taken to the hospital for broken legs, and we’ve confirmed that Sara Squires’ mount, Orto, was unfortunately euthanized after breaking the frangible pin at the Rolex combination.

The Maltings combination caused by far the most trouble, with multiple riders having stops there, as well as multiple pairs penalized for breaking the frangible pin. This was predicted by Captain Mark Phillips in his course walk, as he thought that it was the most challenging combination on course. The Trout Hatchery rode roughly, and caused a few penalties but mostly just heart palpitations, including when third placed Armada left a leg and nearly unseated Oliver.

Course designer Captain Mark Phillips mentioned in the press conference, “I was actually quite pleased with the fences, they pretty much rode like we were expecting. The time, well I don’t know where that came from, that was totally unexpected. I was totally expecting these good horses and good riders to get inside the time”.

Press Conference from Saturday Night

We’ll be back later on with a full report on the American contingent and much more from Burghley.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV]  

Orto Euthanized at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Orto, ridden by Sara Squires, seen here in the Dressage on Thursday morning at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Orto, ridden by Sara Squires, seen here in the Dressage on Thursday morning at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

It’s with great sadness we can confirm that Orto, ridden by Sara Squires of Great Britain, was euthanized after breaking a frangible pin at fence 19c, the Malting’s Corner, on cross country at Burghley Horse Trials today. Burghley has released the following statement:

It is with great regret that we confirm that the horse “Orto” hit his right stifle whilst jumping fence 19. There was no fall of horse or rider.

Following transportation to our veterinary hospital facility where a detailed examination including radiography was conducted by our expert team of veterinary surgeons employed by Burghley Horse Trials, the decision was made to euthanize him on welfare grounds.

We would like to extend our sincere sympathy to Sara, the owners Mr & Mrs Budd, and all associated with Orto – such a talented horse.

We are heartbroken for Sara and all the horse’s connections and extend our deepest condolences at this very sad time.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate Ready for Burghley Cross Country

Meghan O'Donoghue & Pirate. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue & Pirate. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Everybody loves a good OTTB story, and they don’t get much better than Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate. Purchased as a scraggly 3-year old when Meghan was 15, Pirate was intended to be a project, but turned into much more before long. They moved up to the Advanced level in 2012, completing Fair Hill CCI3* in the fall and heading directly to Rolex CCI4* in the spring of 2013. It was there that they captured the hearts of many eventing enthusiasts, as they rocketed around the cross country for a double clear round that seemed effortless.

Fast forward a little over a year — after receiving a grant to go to Blenheim CCI3* last fall, where they finished 11th — and Meghan and Pirate completed Rolex again this spring with speedy and clean jumping rounds to confirm their status as a four-star pair. This year they received the Land Rover Competition Grant to compete at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* this year for their first taste of a British four-star.

Photo by Kate Samuels.

Photo by Kate Samuels.

They performed dressage yesterday, posting their very best four-star dressage score to date, a 54.2, which places them in 30th place going into cross country. “I feel like the flatwork is improving a lot, and I do feel like there is a lot more in there,” Meghan said after her test.

As for cross country: “I’ll be watching the riders before me to give myself a little more confidence. I think the first water is really where you get into how difficult the track is. This terrain and this size of course I’ve never done in my time, so luckily I’m sitting on a Thoroughbred, and we all know he likes to gallop and has limitless scope.”

Watch the interview below to hear more of Meghan’s comments on going cross country tomorrow. Go Meghan, and Go Pirate!

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William Fox-Pitt Cracks The 30s, Jock Paget Wins Burghley Dressage

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero scored a 39.5 to sit second going into cross country. Photo by Kate Samuels.

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero scored a 39.5 to sit second going into cross country. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Burghley dressage has officially concluded, with Jock Paget and Clifton Promise leading the way, followed by William Fox-Pitt and Sam Griffiths close behind. The two days have ended with two riders in the 30s, 14 riders in the 40s, and 17 horses below the mark of 55. As we all well know, Burghley is unlikely to be a dressage competition, but your score in the first phase is integral to your success through the weekend.

The last group of the afternoon was by far the most exciting, with some of the most highly anticipated pairs competing at the very end of the day. William Fox-Pitt put in his usual polished test, with this year’s Rolex winner Bay My Hero, or “Moonie.” While the gelding was quite naughty in the trot ups on Wednesday, he was probably the most relaxed horse in the dressage ring all week.

Bay My Hero performed beautifully for William to become the only other horse to score below a 40, just squeaking in there with a 39.5. This places them in second going into cross country for the 11-year-old gelding’s first Burghley experience.

“I’m very happy with Bay My Hero,” Willian said. “He certainly arrived here on his toes, and he made his mark at the first trot-up — on his back legs. So I’ve been quite aware that he needed to settle. He’s very excited to be here, so he went in there and was as good as I could have hoped. He was super and did some lovely work.”

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury, who scored a 40.5 to sit very close in fourth place. Photo by Kate Samuels

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury, who scored a 40.5 to sit very close in fourth place. Photo by Kate Samuels

Actual war horse Armada completed his test late in the day with Oliver Townend. This horse is running his twelfth CCI4* this weekend, not to mention this is his 21st CCI competition. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of tough stuff this horse is made of, I don’t know what will. They had a really nice test until the changes, when Armada thought perhaps he wasn’t interested in playing, and finished with a 48.3 to tie for 12th.

After his test, Oliver said, “He’s got all the movements and all the talent, but the brain is the tricky bit. In two movements the brain let us down again, but you know, we’re used to that, and when he has a clear round in the dressage, we enjoy it, and if not, we just try our best.”

Two-time winners Andrew Nicholson and Avebury finished off the day as the last to go, and while they didn’t crack the top three, they are sitting just 1.7 penalties out of first place. In their past two Burghley wins performances, they have never recorded more than .8 time penalties on cross country, and each time had just one rail.

“He felt very very good, he’s a pleasure to ride,” Andrew said. “He’s been in there quite a few times now, and I don’t do the arena walk-about or anything like that with him, and he still just goes in there and trundles around, happy as can be.” If Andrew and Avebury are able to repeat their performances of the past two years, he will set a record as the first person to ever win Burghley three times in a row on the same horse.

DSC_0082

Oliver Townend & Armada. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The American contingent finished with Allison Springer in sixth place, Marilyn Little in 10th place, Hannah SueBurnett in 14th place and Meghan O’Donoghue in 30th place. Each one of these pairs are extremely experienced and competitive, but aside from Allison, all are attempting their first Burghley cross-country course tomorrow. The U.S. accomplished a very good dressage result, with 75 percent of our riders coming in under the mark of 50, and one rider sitting just outside the top group.

The course here is unlike any other four-star in existence, so much so that saying the word Burghley is in fact its own descriptor. When asked about their thoughts on the challenge tomorrow, you’ll hear riders say, “Well, it’s big, and it’s Burghley,” which tells you that the difficulty is self evident. The greatest riders in the world are of the opinion that there is no way to complete Burghley without extreme respect for the course, and that much we know to be true.

Seventh placed Aoife Clark was very pleased with Vaguely North, scoring a 44.7. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Seventh-placed Aoife Clark was very pleased with Vaguely North, scoring a 44.7. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Just 1.7 penalties separate the top four combinations, with 8.7 penalties between the top 10 and 11.7 from first to 20th place. I can guarantee you that the leaderboard will not look the same after tomorrow’s action, as we all know that fractions of a point can make the difference between winning and losing.

Cross country begins tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. BST (5:30 a.m. EST). While cross country will not live stream, you can follow along on Twitter @eventingnation and watch the replays of each round for free on Burghley TV. Our American riders compete at the following times:

Allison Springer & Arthur: 12:42 p.m. BST (7:42 a.m. EST)
Meghan O’Donoghue & Pirate: 1:26 p.m. BST (8:26 a.m. EST)
Marilyn Little & RF Demeter: 1:34 p.m. BST (8:34 a.m. EST)
Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot: 2:42 p.m. BST (9:42 a.m. EST)

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview


 

Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot Score 48.5 for 10th Place at Burghley

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot scored a 48.5 at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot scored a 48.5 at Burghley. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As our last American to compete here at Burghley, all eyes were on Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot as they cantered down the centerline in their debut at this hallowed competition. They delivered a solid test that improved as it went along and scored a 48.5 for the conclusion of this phase. She is currently in 10th place, with eight more competitors to go this afternoon.

We interviewed Hannah after her test, and she said that she felt like the first half of her test was tentative because William started with a little bit of an attempt to canter after the first halt, and she wished she had been able to push for more brilliance in the trot work. “He was good; he’s always really obedient and is really thoughtful in there; he doesn’t get crazy or anything,” she said. “The canter work was much better.”

Hannah & William. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Hannah & William. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Most of the U.S. riders have walked the course three times already and are planning to walk one to two more times before their runs tomorrow. Hannah goes last of the U.S. contingent and will have the advantage of being able to gather information from her fellow American riders before she sets out, and she is looking forward to the course. “I think its going to suit my horse pretty well; it starts out not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it lets you get going and have a rhythm,” she said.

“The Trout Hatchery … holy crap! I’ll be happy to have that behind me. The whole course is just giant, and it seems to get bigger and bigger and bigger as you go. I’m excited to jump around it!”

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview] [Horse & Hound Live Blog]

Judges Waiting to be Dazzled in Friday Dressage at Burghley

Karin Donckers & Lamicell Unique scored a 46.3 for sixth place at the break. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Karin Donckers & Lamicell Unique scored a 46.3 for sixth place at the break. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The morning session of dressage is over at Burghley, and we are narrowing it down to the last 16 competitors this afternoon. As we reported earlier, Jock Paget pulled off his usual incredible performance in the arena for a 38.8 with Clifton Promise and is currently our leader, as well as the only combination in the 30s. We didn’t see anybody else come close to his performance, but we did see three more riders sneak into the 40s this morning.

Karin Donckers is fresh off a sixth-placed finish at the WEG with Fletcha Van’T Verahof, and just completed a really lovely test with the 10-year-old chestnut mare, Lamicell Unique, scoring a 46.3, which places them neatly in sixth place. She remarked after the test that this is the mare’s first CCI4*, and while she is still green, she has high hopes for her. Karin is a very admirable and accurate rider, and I was quite impressed with the mare’s focus in the arena.

Georgie Spence had a lovely test on Wii Limbo for a 47.7 and 8th place. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Georgie Spence had a lovely test on Wii Limbo for a 47.7 and 8th place. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Georgie Spence also had a super test on the small but mighty Wii Limbo, scoring a 47.7, which is a full seven points better than their last test at this level at Luhmühlen in the spring. They were sadly eliminated there and are having a second attempt at a first four-star for the 11-year-old gelding. He looked a bit spooky as he cantered around the outside, but Georgie settled him very well through some exceptionally tactful and quiet riding.

The Australian contingent continues their domination with two more riders in the top 15, with Bill Levett and Improvise sneaking just inside the top 10 on a 48.7 and Murray Lamperd riding Under The Clocks sitting in 12th with a 50.2. This gives them a total of four riders in the top 15 after the dressage is completed, as all their riders have now completed their tests. Murray Lamperd also may have stolen the title for “Best Use of Bling” from Clifton Promise, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a metallic browband.

Murray Lamperd and Under The Clocks put in a good test for a 50.2 for Australia. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Murray Lamperd and Under The Clocks put in a good test for a 50.2 for Australia. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Contrary to popular belief, it seems to me that the dressage judges have become more strict and picky today than they were yesterday. Christian Landolt is at E, Angela Tucker at C and Ernst Topp is at M, and they seem to have collectively decided to up the ante today, where nothing but brilliance can make it into the 40s. A reserved but accurate performance was simply not enough today, where you had to be expressive and incredibly distinct with your transitions within the gaits. As always, lead changes turn out to be the undoing of many horses, and several combinations have come unraveled in the canter work.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, our fourth and final American combination, are still to come at 2 p.m. BST (9 a.m. EST), leading off after the lunch break. We also have heavy hitters such as Piggy French and Jakata, William Fox-Pitt on Rolex winner Bay My Hero, Oliver Townend on Armada, and Andrew Nicholson finishing the day with two-time winner Avebury. Stay tuned for much from Burghley.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview] [Horse & Hound Live Blog]

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Jock Paget and Clifton Promise Break Into the 30s at Burghley

Jock Paget & Clifton Promise had a great test for a 38.8. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Jock Paget & Clifton Promise had a great test for a 38.8. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Jock Paget has done it again with Clifton Promise at Burghley, blowing everyone else out of the water and becoming our first pair to break into the 30s, scoring a 38.8. They had a very accurate, expressive and fluid test only marred by a few small head flips from Promise. This combination is regularly very competitive in dressage, scoring under 40 at his past four CCI4* three-day events.

In the post-ride interview, Jock said that the horse gave it his all, but he felt it wasn’t quite as good as his test a week ago at the WEG, despite the score being only .8 of a difference. “He’s been doing dressage for two weeks now, and we tried to find a way to not do too much but still piece a test together leading up to this.” Promise seemed to show no signs of noticing the crowd or the atmosphere, which Jock attributes to his experience now, as the horse is 16 and continues to improve and relax in high intensity arenas.

Jock & Promise entering the arena. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Jock & Promise entering the arena. Photo by Kate Samuels.

When asked about his thoughts on the cross country course, Jock commented, “You can never respect Burghley enough. The cross country is always tough, time is tight, there are plenty of hills and lots to do and the jumps are big. I have a very experienced horse, and he’s very good at giving you a cheeky 20 here and there, so I think you just have to focus on every fence as you jump it, and hopefully you have a good day and your horse is on target.”

Jock and Promise’s test is now available to watch on demand on Burghley TV, so click here and scroll down to their name to see it. Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, our fourth and final American combination, are still to come at 2 p.m. BST (9 a.m. EST), leading off after the lunch break. Stay tuned for much from Burghley.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview

Musings After Thursday Dressage at Burghley + Press Conference Video

Meghan O'Donoghue gives Pirate a well deserved pat after their first Burghley test. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue gives Pirate a well deserved pat after their first Burghley test. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As a Burghley first-timer, it has been enthralling for me to visit the competition and be integrally involved in all the proceedings. First off, I must mention how incredibly well organized the entire thing is, and I can see right away why it is considered the riders’ favorite four-star. Everything is impeccable, from the footing to the security, it stands out as an event in its own category.

Day one of dressage is officially over, and we’ve seen thirty two riders complete their tests so far, which is a little over half the field. As with any competition, we saw some very well organized and masterfully ridden tests, as well as some horses that were clearly looking forward to Saturday just a little too much.

There are currently seven riders in the forties: two Americans, two Australians, and three British riders, which makes it 22% of the field under that magical marker of 50 penalties. Coach David O’Connor has said again and again that we need to produce tests in the forties to be remotely competitive on an international scene, and today we accomplished that very well, with Meghan siting right outside the mark. That is certainly a sign of progress for our future, something we are desperately needing after the WEG.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter's first Burghley halt and salute. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Marilyn Little & RF Demeter’s first Burghley halt and salute. Photo by Kate Samuels.

In the press conference, each one of the riders noted that they made little mistakes in their test, and knew there was more to be had, which can tell you a lot about event riders. They are always humble, even when they are at the top, and they are always seeking improvement. You simply cannot survive in this sport if you aren’t incredibly self aware, and if you don’t have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and increased ability.

When asked about their thoughts on the cross country course, there was one thing in common for all the top three: it’s enormous, but that’s par for the course at Burghley. Allison admitted that historically she and Arthur have a somewhat inconsistent record on the cross country, and she’s glad that she is finished with dressage and can focus on her plan for the next phase all tomorrow. She says that while it’s a known fact that Arthur can complete it all, she just has to go out there and be very determined and aggressive, in the same way that she rode in 2012 for a 6th place finish.

Allison Springer & Arthur post dressage test.

Allison Springer & Arthur post dressage test. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sam Griffiths is riding Happy Times, who has had a bit of bad luck at this level, but he feels is due a four-star win. At the age of fifteen, Sam says that the gelding is feeling better than ever, but when asked about the course, he said that it’s ““Big and tough, and it will take a special horse to jump around that course but hopefully I’m sitting on one”. 

An aspect that I have enjoyed very much is that each rider is interviewed publicly directly as they leave the arena, which produces some very interesting and sometimes hilarious results. No matter what the result on the big screen, riders have been very good humored and well spoken, and it’s a great way to share their thoughts with the public. Burghley is very much about including the crowds, which might be why there are so many attending!

Just an alley in the shops. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Just an alley in the shops. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Speaking of crowds, the vendor area was completely ridiculous today. There are 630 vendors here at Burghley this weekend, ranging from high range tailored clothing to custom perfumes to crêpes or fish and chips to fancy cheeses. There were crowds at 10 AM for the start of dressage, which is something I can’t possibly imagine happening in the United States.

Tomorrow we have much more action, beginning at 10:00 BST (5:00 EST). Our sole remaining American rider is Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot after the lunch break, directly at 2:00 BST (9:00 EST). However, if you’re tuning in from home, Jock Paget rides at 10:56 BST (5:56 EST), William Fox-Pitt goes at 3:49 BST (10:49 EST) and Andrew Nicholson wraps up the dressage at 4:21 BST (11:21 EST).

Burghley Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview

Thursday Afternoon Press Conference:

 

Two Americans In The Top Five After Burghley Day One

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter scored a 47.5 to sit fifth overnight.

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter scored a 47.5 to sit fifth overnight. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Several riders tried valiantly to catch early leaders Sam Griffiths and Happy Times’ leading score of 40.2 this afternoon, but none of them could quite measure up. Allison Springer and Arthur put in a very solid test to come close with a 41.2, which leaves them in third place, and Marilyn Little and RF Demeter did a lovely test for 47.5, putting them in fifth place overnight.

Marilyn and Demi are here for their Burghley debut, as they have completed four other CCI4* competitions together, but not this one yet. She mentioned after her ride that she was very pleased with the score, as they’ve been working very hard to get this mare to be more fluid in her dressage, and it seems to be going well.

Her test was marred by two late changes, but outside of that was very accurate and technically correct. Marilyn said that it’s quite different to ride dressage on the grass with studs and was correct in saying that we don’t get much practice with that in the U.S., so it’s a new challenge for the American competitors.

Meghan O'Donghue & Pirate in their Burghley debut. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donghue & Pirate in their Burghley debut. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate performed a very accurate test to score their best yet at this level by almost four points, leaving the arena with a 54.2 which puts her just inside the top 15 in 14th place overnight. Pirate doesn’t have the movement of the bigger warmbloods, and he was looking a tiny bit spooky when he came in, but he settled in and put forth a really obedient test, and I was very impressed with his work ethic. If you want to cheer for an OTTB, this one is your guy, and I can’t wait to see them on XC on Saturday.

Two other riders just slipped into the top 10 this afternoon, both of them riding for Great Britain. Hannah Bate rode right after the lunch break on Susie Guild’s Finbury Hill, scoring a 51.1 to stay in tenth place overnight. Glengarnock, winner of yesterday’s “Best Run-Your-Rider-Off-The-Strip Move” in our Unofficial Jog Awards made up for it today by performing beautifully for Paul Sims, scoring a 51.3 to put them right in front of Hannah, in ninth place.

The press conference is coming up with Allison, Andrew and Sam, and we will be bringing you interviews with the riders and many more thoughts on the day shortly, so stay tuned! In the meantime, go watch the day’s dressage tests on Burghley TV, where all the rides are available on demand. Go Burghley.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview

 

Scores

 

Allison Springer & Arthur Score 41.2 To Sit Third at Burghley

Allison Springer & Arthur sit third on a 41.2. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Allison Springer & Arthur sit third on a 41.2. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The third group of riders has just concluded here at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, with our first American rider putting in a very good performance. Allison Springer and Arthur, noted for their skill in the dressage arena, had a consistent and fluid test to score a 41.2, which puts them in third place as of right now. 

Allison remarked after her test that while she was pleased with his effort, she thought she could have pressed for a little bit more brilliance and thought that could have garnered more points. Allison and Arthur were 6th here together in 2012, and this is their first return, where they are hoping to improve upon that performance. They are a very experienced pair; having been together for 10 years now, they certainly know their way around some of the biggest tracks in the world.

Andrew Hoy & Rutherglen sit close second on a 40.8. Photo by Kate Samuels

Andrew Hoy & Rutherglen sit close second on a 40.8. Photo by Kate Samuels

Andrew Hoy made a valiant effort to catch the leader Sam Griffiths, but he and Rutherglen fell just .6 of a point short, scoring a 40.8. This places them firmly in second place, and in a good position for the rest of the weekend. This horse is a truly lovely mover, with an overreach like nothing I’ve ever seen before in his medium and extended movements. They were 11th a few months ago at Luhmühlen with a 51.2 on the flat and just three rails to add to that score, so I think they’ll be quite competitive here.

 Izzy Taylor had a really nice test with KBIS Briarlands Matilda, scoring a 48.3 to sit in fifth place provisionally. They were 17th this year at Badminton, surviving the course with just one stop on their record, which was their first CCI4* completion. This is their first Burghley together, and I am definitely rooting for this mare here this weekend.

Izzy Taylor & KBIS Briarlands Matilda had a lovely test for a 48.3 and fifth place. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Izzy Taylor & KBIS Briarlands Matilda had a lovely test for a 48.3 and fifth place. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate compete at 4:05 p.m. BST (11:05 a.m. EST), and last to go of the day is Marilyn Little and RF Demeter at 4:21 p.m. BST (11:21 a.m. EST). Stay tuned for more photos and video interviews with the American riders, and be sure to follow along for live commentary on Meghan and Marilyn’s test in the Horse & Hound dressage live blog here. Go Burghley.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview

Sam Griffiths and Happy Times Lead The Way After Morning Dressage at Burghley

Sam Griffiths & Happy Times lead on a 40.2 after the first section of dressage. Photo by Kate Samuels. Sam Griffiths & Happy Times lead on a 40.2 after the first section of dressage. Photo by Kate Samuels.

A foggy and slightly chilly morning here at Burghley ushered in the start of dressage, which boasted quite a few spectators despite the dreary weather. Surprisingly, most of the horses have been quite well behaved, and while the atmosphere is very respectful and quiet, there are quite a lot of things to spook at and use as an excuse to misbehave. Sam Griffiths and Happy Times ultimately overcame the atmosphere to score 40.2 for the early lead.

The first group of eight combinations included two tests in the 40s; Sarah Bullimore and Valentino V scored a 49.5 right off the bat, followed by  Piggy French and Westwood Mariner, who scored a 45.8 to lead after the first break. A newer ride for Piggy, she commented after her test that he was brought up through this level by Polly Stockton, and although he’s still “very much Polly’s ride,” she says he tries really hard for her. They were unfortunately eliminated last year at their first CCI4* attempt together here and are looking for some redemption this time around.

Piggy French & Westwood Mariner. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Piggy French & Westwood Mariner, currently in 2nd place on a 45.8. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The second group had some tense horses, and scores ranged from the high 50s all the way to  into the seventies. The judges are Christian Landolt at E, Angela Tucker at C and Ernst Topp — who just judged at the World Equestrian Games — at M. Quite rightly so, they aren’t letting anything slip by and are particularly keen to note any tension. They are scoring consistently, however, and seem to be forgiving of the occasional bobble or break, as even Piggy’s horse cantered a bit going into her extended trot.

Sam Griffiths, who earlier this week predicted a possible second leg in his quest for The Grand Slam, completely dominated the morning dressage competition. Sam and Happy Times went in the ring and had a truly lovely test that combined obedience with expression and was the true picture of balance for a 40.2 to lead the way. After his win at Badminton with Paulank Brockagh, Sam is the only rider in the world who can hunt the Grand Slam, and he thinks that Happy Times might just be the horse to do it, having placed 12th here last year and 3rd in 2009.

Four-star first-timer Gina Ruck had a really lovely test with her own 12-year-old grey gelding, Rehy Too, for a score of 50.5, which places them firmly in fourth place. This horse was very expressive in his gaits and looked like he has the quality of a true dressage horse, and she’s got to be thrilled with this debut effort.

Gina Ruck & Rehy Too in their first CCI4* dressage test. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Gina Ruck & Rehy Too in their first CCI4* dressage test. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Each rider is being interviewed directly after their test, and some of the results of this are quite funny. Ben Hobday, who is riding “Winner Of The Biggest Feet” Mulry’s Error, certainly had the best quote of the day. Mulry is a rather large chap, as he is half Clydesdale and half Thoroughbred, and he looks like a tank. Ben quipped, “Yes, well, he looks like a four-by-four but he drives like a Ferarri,” and mentioned that he is very much looking forward to the cross-country phase.

We have three American riders coming in the afternoon group. Allison Springer and Arthur go at 2:16 p.m. BST (9:16 a.m. EST), followed by Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate at 4:05 p.m. BST (11:05 a.m. EST), and last to go of the day is Marilyn Little and RF Demeter at 4:21 p.m. BST (11:21 a.m. EST).

Sam Griffiths with a smile for the interviewer. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sam Griffiths with a smile for the interviewer. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Dressage recommences at 2 p.m. BST (9:00 EST) after our very long and luxurious lunch break, where I will be browsing the shops and stuffing my face with food. Check back later for more Burghley action.

Burghley Links: [Website] [Entry List] [Live Scores] [Burghley TV] [Course Preview

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