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 Night Social Media Roundup: Two Days To Go!

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Eventing FB.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Eventing FB.


 

Donner says Hello from France!! As the only American bred OTTB competing at the WEG, Donner is working extra hard to prove that his breed is the best out there. Ex-racehorses for the win!

It is now officially two days from the beginning of WEG, and both North American teams ship out to headquarters at Normandy on Monday. Several other countries have suffered last minute losses, but our riders are doing us proud and everything is going incredibly well (so I hope I don’t jinx it!).


Most importantly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM!!! Two WEG team members with birthdays in the same week?? How is this possible!

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky.


 

Check out Team USA’s awesome custom Ride Safe bracelets (plus the ladies are rocking patriotic nails)!

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.


 

Team USA took a break today from training to watch the racehorses gallop in Chantilly, which is ridiculously beautiful. They have a two mile gallop in the forrest, and it could not be more picturesque if it tried.

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB.

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB.


 

The U.S. grooms took advantage of their time in France by taking an afternoon trip to Paris, which I can tell you is never a waste of time.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Taylor.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Taylor.


The Canadians loaded up today and went off property to have a proper show jumping school, practicing full courses and full height.

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett.

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett.


 

Check out Jessica Phoenix & Pavarotti, that horse loves jumping!

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.


 

Ginny wants to be sure that you don’t leave her out of the jumping fun, because if there is anybody who loves jumping the most of all, it’s Gin & Juice!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Braun.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Braun.


Team Ireland is looking very spiffy and ready to go! I’m personally rooting for Aoife Clark and Camilla Speirs….Irish underdogs!


Andrew Nicholson is debuting his new book after the WEG at Burghley, but his NZ teammates get an early copy. All of them are lining up to get autographs!

Photo courtesy of Eventing NZ FB.

Photo courtesy of Eventing NZ FB.


Not to be outdone, those Australians are pretty snazzy looking! Everyone is posing for their team photos, what’s up USA? Where is ours?


Michael Jung is recovering from his (and our) disappointment of the withdrawal of Sam, and moving forward with fischerRocana, a promising young mount. I present to you, Team Germany!

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung.

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung.


 

And to cap off your Friday night social media roundup, I give you Scha Scha, stealing the Team USA lorry. Look. At. That. Face.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

View from the top of Maizey Manor's gallop! Photo courtesy of Selena O'Hanlon.

View from the top of Maizey Manor’s gallop! Photo courtesy of Selena O’Hanlon.

Happy Friday, everyone! We are officially four days away from the beginning of the Eventing WEG competition!! You ever have one of those weeks that is inexplicably longer than all the others, where you wake up on Wednesday SURE that it has to be at least Saturday already? That was me this week, and even though it’s Friday, I feel like my life is moving in molasses speed. Maybe that’s because as soon as next week hits we will all be running around like crazy with WEG and Burghley right in a row? Perhaps this is the universe helping me find some “balance” or something like that.

North American Weekend Preview:

Richland Park CIC2*/3* & H.T. [Website] [Times] [Live Scores]

Huntington Farm H.T [Website]

Steepleview H.T. [Website] [Times]

Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Caber Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Colorado Horse Park CCI1*/2*, T3D, & H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Blair Castle (GBR) CCI1*/2*/3*, CIC3*  [Website] [Live Scores]

Parcayacu (ECU) CCI1*

Outdoor Helvoirt (NED) CIC1*/2* [Website]

Hamm (GER) CIC1*  [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

Totilas is out, Sam is out, and now two more Dutch dressage horses have been withdrawn from the WEG. Edward Gal’s Glock’s Undercover as well as Danielle Hijkoop’s Kingsley Siro NOP have suffered last minute injuries that will keep them from competing. Undercover suffered a minor spinal injury that will heal in a week at most, but is currently experiencing inflammation and slight pain, and will be saved for another day. Kingsley Siro also failed the final vet check, and it seems that he struck himself during training this week. [Two Dutch Entries Withdrawn]

Hold the phone: if you’re near Middleburg VA this Saturday, you HAVE to go to the Morningside Bareback Puissance. In fact, bring your horse and compete! They have a 2’6 bareback speed class, and then a bareback puissance that goes as high as possible. Do you think we can beat Lainey Ashker’s record of 5’1 at Great Meadow? Not to mention there will be food and wine vendors present, and $2,000 in prize money for the competitors! [Morningside Bareback Puissance]

Laura Graves is one of my favorite riders to follow at the WEG, even though she’s not an Eventer! She stunned everyone this summer, breaking into the big time with her horse Verdades, and earned her way to Normandy along with the US dressage stalwarts. She’s blogging from France about her experience, and it’s fascinating to follow along! [How Plans Change]

Win a One-Year FEI TV Subscription! Win a one-year FEI TV subscription valued at $79.99 just in time to watch the World Equestrian Games! All you have to do is sign up to receive EN eNews, our weekly newsletter. We are drawing five lucky names this morning! [Click to Enter]

So, after many years and far too many sweaty headed days, I finally took the plunge and bought a new helmet. What I love about buying a helmet now as opposed to even five years ago, is that different companies recognize that not all heads are shaped equally! I have a long and thin head, if you will (although that sounds terrible), which means that I always end up having to put fillers on the side so my helmets won’t fall off, and usually end up with the super stylish “forehead dent” after a long day of riding. Thanks to the selection at SmartPak, I found the perfect size and fit in a brand new Samshield! What’s cooler than looking sharp and minding your melon? [SmartPak Helmet Selection Beats Them All]

Did you know that if you sign up for the FLAIR newsletter, you can receive awesome Eventing specific news? As one of the best advances of recent times, FLAIR strips have really changed the way we help our horses breathe on and recover from cross country. By reducing airway resistance during exercise, FLAIR Strips help prevent fatigue related injuries, help protect the lungs from injury and bleeding and promote optimal athletic performance. Check out their site and sign up for the weekly newsletter to receive great promotions and news! [FLAIR Strips Rock]

In honor of Sam, who will not be attending to defend his title, let’s reflect on his cross legged success in 2010. 

FlairBuck-Horizontal

 

Five Days To Go! A Social Media Collection

Lynn & Donner. Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Lynn & Donner. Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Today was a jump school day for some of the riders from Team USA, as show jumping coach Silvio Mazzoni has officially arrived in Chantilly to help out with preparations in the last week leading up to the WEG. Canadian riders, while still looking significantly chillier than their American counterparts, also enjoyed a jump school today with Clayton Fredericks, and then topped the day off with some team bonding on the canals!


We cannot go any further without acknowledging the disappointment of today, Michael Jung has officially withdrawn the defending champion, La Biosthetique Sam FBW. It would have been such a treat to see him try for a double World Championship! Translated from Michael’s FB page:

“Without SAM for the World Cup :’( Sure that all have noticed… Sam suddenly has a warm hoof and is a bit lame, so we had to make the decision not to take him to the World Cup unfortunately. This has of course hit me like a blow, and I could imagine nothing better than to ride with Sam for the team and to take into attack the project “title defense”.

But now is the time for fischerRocana! We will give everything and now hope even more for your support! This morning Rocaná completed a good dressage training and today Sam and Rocaná had a nice walk at noon. As you can see in the photos Sam is also in a good mood and does not understand why he is only walking :)”

Photo via Michael Jung's FB.

Photo via Michael Jung’s FB.


Kim is getting ready for her fourth WEG appearance, and Sparky is getting ready for his first. Look at that confident face though, he can’t WAIT to kill some cross country next Saturday!

Sparky looking handsome! Photo courtesy of USEF High Performance FB.

Sparky looking handsome! Photo courtesy of USEF High Performance FB.

Sparky would also like you to know that he travels with a lucky stall sign, given to him at Fair Hill last fall by Shannon Brinkman’s young daughter. It’s a portrait!

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.


Well wishers will be glad to know that Mighty Nice, “Happy”, has arrived safe and sound in Chantilly, fully recovered from his minor colic scare of last week. He will spend his time in France preparing for his big Burghley debut the week following the WEG.

Happy taking a stroll in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

Happy taking a stroll in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.


Phillip is having a great time with Trading Aces, or Oscar. Their relationship has been a short one, but very successful so far, and they are getting along very well!

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.


If you’re worried that Team USA is working too hard, don’t! They are still finding ways to have fun, like visiting the Museum of the Horse in Chantilly.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue's FB.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue’s FB.


Ginny is ready to practice her fancy dressage moves with Annabelle Scrimgeour! She’s wearing her beautiful Frilly Fillies thinking cap, and Hawley is wearing her own Charles Owen thinking cap!

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Awad.

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Awad.


All of Team Canada got to go on a very cool canal boat trip today, and it looks like they had a blast!

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Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Eventing

Photo courtesy of Selena O'Hanlon.

Photo courtesy of Selena O’Hanlon.


I love following the German team on social media, because aside from the Americans and Canadians, they are the most active! They also win the award for the highest percentage use of smileys. Translated from Ingrid Klimke’s FB page:

“Today we made loose dressage work in the square and got valuable tips from Chris – lovely in the sun with best conditions in a relaxed atmosphere. What a joy to work this way! Dream Job!”

Photo via Ingrid Klimke's FB.

Photo via Ingrid Klimke’s FB.


Five days to go!!

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

No, that photo above doesn’t have a horse in it, but doesn’t it remind you of countless early dew-laden, mist covered mornings spent at the barn? Super groom Liz took that picture at 6am in Chantilly, on her way to tend to Sparky in training camp for the WEG. I love the little rock wall, a new and interesting way to do it!

North American Weekend Preview:

Richland Park CIC2*/3* & H.T. [Website] [Times] [Live Scores]

Huntington Farm H.T [Website]

Steepleview H.T. [Website] [Times]

Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Caber Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Colorado Horse Park CCI1*/2*, T3D, & H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Blair Castle (GBR) CCI1*/2*/3*, CIC3*  [Website] [Entry Status]

Parcayacu (ECU) CCI1*

Outdoor Helvoirt (NED) CIC1*/2* [Website]

Hamm (GER) CIC1*  [Website]

News From Around The Globe:

The big news of yesterday is that popular dressage mount Totilas is officially withdrawn from the WEG, with what has to be the worst timed splint in the entire history of splints. Totilas made a great comeback this year after several years of languishing in the sidelines, and blew everyone out of the water in Aachen. However, the German equestrian federation says that he had a “pain reaction” to an existing splint injury, and would be withdrawn. [No WEG for Totilas]

Stop the presses: if you’re near Middleburg VA this Saturday, you HAVE to go to the Morningside Bareback Puissance. In fact, bring your horse and compete! They have a 2’6 bareback speed class, and then a bareback puissance that goes as high as possible. Do you think we can beat Lainey Ashker’s record of 5’1 at Great Meadow? Not to mention there will be food and wine vendors present, and $2,000 in prize money for the competitors! [Morningside Bareback Puissance]

Win a One-Year FEI TV Subscription! Win a one-year FEI TV subscription valued at $79.99 just in time to watch the World Equestrian Games! All you have to do is sign up to receive EN eNews, our weekly newsletter, and we’ll draw five names Friday morning. [Click to Enter]

Ruth Edge’s four star mare Marsh Mayfly has officially been retired from competition. Together, they were 17th at Burghley in 2006 and 2nd at Luhmuhlen in 2009. “Flower” retired to the lower levels, running at the CCI2* level for a while before becoming a Preliminary packer for her owner. At the age of 17, she now retires to produce beautiful babies! [Marsh Mayfly Retired]

Richland week! One of the most highly anticipated events of the years, even the locals are getting into it. With riders from Novice to CIC3* level, there are hundreds of horses and riders gathered from all parts of the United States. To quote this local article, “the most amazing thing about watching that spectacle may not be something that even crosses your mind — the fact that there are humans riding on their backs.” Wait, there are riders too? Sorry guys…I had to. [Richland Horse Trials]

Shine Bright Like a Diamond to win! We’ve teamed up with Professional’s Choice to give away three Quilted Dressage Pads. How do you win one? We want to see you glammed up and sparkling, Rihanna style, so send us your creative photos or videos for your chance to win! See post for entry details. [Shine Bright Like a Diamond]

Remember that time Mary King did a one-two punch at Rolex? That was pretty sweet.

 

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Hot on Social: One Week Away and Counting from #WEG2014

6AM in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

6AM in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

One week from today is officially the start of the World Equestrian Games for the eventing competition. Jogs will be held in six days! I can’t even imagine the combination of focus and excitement that is happening overseas right now; it must be a crazy feeling to know that you and your horse are going into a competition with this kind of hype. Things are still going swimmingly in Chantilly as well as at Maizey Manor, with all the horses getting in lots of grazing time, extra spoiled attention time and, of course, time for work!


Sparky positively loves the French grass! Here he is getting a little early morning turnout in the dew laden grass, and looking happy as a pig in mud.

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.


Quiz: Which bay with no markings is in this photo practicing his fancy dressage moves?

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.

That’s right, it’s a Deer! Look at that lovely halt; good job, Donner (and Lynn, you’re alright too)!

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Buck and Reggie are getting to spend some quality time together in Chantilly. One of the best parts of championship preparation is that it is one horse, one rider, and one groom — and the horse gets ALL the attention ALL the time! I bet Reggie is loving that.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Blauth-Murray.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Blauth-Murray.


Ginny says, “I think France is that way!”

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad


Michael Jung is off to training camp a little later than the North American contingent, but I suppose when you’re the defending World, Olympic and European champion, you get to make your own rules! Fun fact: Michael Jung loves using smiley faces. Celebrities, they’re just like us. “Los gehts ins Trainingslager nach Bonn :)” Translated: “Here we go into training camp in Bonn :)”

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung's FB.

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung’s FB.


On second thought, maybe the smiley face is just a German thing? “Wir sind gut in Bonn angekommen und FRH Escada JS genießt das saftige Gras. :-):-):-):-):-)” Translated: “We arrived well in Bonn and FRH Escada JS enjoys the juicy grass. :-):-):-):-):-)”

Photo courtesy of Ingrid Klimke's FB.

Photo courtesy of Ingrid Klimke’s FB.


Two things can be understood from this photo: 1) Chilli Morning must be very tall to be equal heads with WFP, and 2) Swoon. William and Chilli hanging out after a successful Team GB schooling yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Fox-Pitt Eventing FB.

Photo courtesy of Fox-Pitt Eventing FB.


Looks like the sun finally came out in England, although they are still wearing a suspicious amount of clothing — when Canadians recognize that it’s cold, you can be sure that it’s chilly.

Jessica Phoenix & Pavarotti ready for Dressage 101. Photo courtesy of Selena O'Hanlon.

Jessica Phoenix & Pavarotti ready for Dressage 101. Photo courtesy of Selena O’Hanlon.


Don’t forget New Zealand! They worked hard on the flat yesterday at Rectory Farm with Isobel Wessels. My personal favorite is Wesko; I mean, look at that face!

Richland Park CIC3* Competitor Preview

Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon. Photo by Jenni Autry. Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Despite the impending madness of WEG that is almost upon us, it is necessary that we tip our hats to tradition and continue with our ritual of previewing important U.S. competitions. Richland Horse Trials is one of the most illustrious events of the year, and while I have never been brave enough to trek all the way up to Michigan, I have heard that it’s well worth the travel hours.

One of the only competitions that is able to offer such an array of levels, this year Richland has horse trials divisions from Novice to Advanced, as well as a CIC2* and a CIC3*. Maggie already gave you a little taste of the CIC3* as well as the Advanced in her ridiculously awesome statistical prediction posts, but I’m here to tell you a little more about all of the entrants and their mounts.

Richland Links: [Website] [Entry List] [CIC3* By The Numbers]

Lisa Barry & F.I.S Prince Charming: Lisa and Peanut are one of my favorite pairs, as the bond between the two of them is obvious when you watch them go, and it’s clear that they are having a blast and a half. Peanut is an excellent jumper, with a ton of flair from his tail over every jump. They have been running at the Advanced level for two years now and finally got their chance at a CCI3* this spring, placing second at Bromont just a few months ago. This will be Peanut’s first run back after that effort, and it should be a breeze for the two of them.

Emily Beshear & Shame On The Moon: Delta is a really lovely mare, and Emily is thrilled to have another Advanced level player in her barn. The winners of this year’s Jersey Fresh CCI2*, Delta moved up to Advanced at Horse Park of NJ, placing 8th. She recently ran at Millbrook in the very competitive and packed Advanced division, finishing in 21st place with a score of 60.3. This is her first effort at this level, and I think they will be competitive after dressage, but time penalties on cross country will put them down the placings. However, this is a super mare for the future, and Emily will be correctly taking her time to prepare her for the next step.

Maya Black & Doesn’t Play Fair: Maggie predicted that this pair will take third place as the weekend comes to a conclusion, and I don’t plan on disagreeing with her. Maya and Cody are only in their first year at this level, but have already racked up an impressive record. In their previous experiences with this dressage test, this pair averages a 49.3. They have jumped clear over Marc Donovan’s show jumps at Carolina, the one time they’ve seen his course design. The pair hasn’t seen an Ian Stark course at this level yet, but have yet to earn a jump penalty on cross country, coming home with an average of 9.6 time penalties. They should end up in third near 58.9 penalties if Maggie’s predictions are correct.

Jessica Bortner-Harris & Win The War: Jessica and Bug are the quintessential “girl finds OTTB and they magically move to the highest level together” story, and that’s why they have so many fans. They have both been working really hard this year, and I’m delighted in seeing them improve. Bug is a freak of nature jumper, and while they have been working at this level for a few years now, they are just starting to put some of the integral pieces together differently. While their recent results don’t reflect the progress they’ve made, I truly believe that they can put together a much better score for three good phases in the near future and get a good result. Whether it’s this weekend or next, Jess will still finish with a hug for her superstar chestnut.

Tim Bourke & Luckaun Quality: Tim and Obie were all set to do their first CCI4* this spring at Rolex, and in heartbreaking fashion made it literally to the third to last fence when Obie hit the jump and slid to the ground, unable to complete the course. Since that time, the horse has had tie-back surgery, and I’m willing to say it went well, as he returned to competition at Millbrook in the Intermediate and had the only double-clear cross-country round of the level. Obie still isn’t much of one for the dressage, but he’s a great jumper, and it will be lovely to see him back out here at the top level where he belongs.

Sarah Dunkerton & Matapeake. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sarah Dunkerton & Matapeake. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Sally Cousins & Tsunami III: One of the most experienced pairs we have competing here this weekend, Sally and Sue had a nice romp around Rolex this spring, finishing in 18th place with just two rails to add to her dressage score. Sue isn’t too terribly fond of the dressage, although I will say that she seems to be slowly and begrudgingly accepting it, but she’ll jump around this track no problem and have a good first run back at the level to prep her for the fall season.

Sally Cousins & Knight Lion: Sally’s second ride is a new one to her, having only acquired him this spring and begun their competitive career together in May. They’ve run a handful of Intermediate HTs together with good results, and this will be their first attempt at the bigger stuff, as well as Knight Lion’s first CIC3*. He completed one Advanced last spring with Buck Davidson in the irons, but this will certainly be a new challenge for the both of them.

Sarah Dunkerton & Matapeake: Sarah and Petey have made the trek for their first effort at the CIC3* level together. They have three Advanced HTs under their belt, with Pine Top this spring as their move up, Carolina International as their second and The Fork as their third — each finished with clean cross-country trips. They continued on to win the Chattahoochee Hills CIC2* this spring, and have been competing at Intermediate since then. They could very well be a sleeper hit here this weekend, but I think they’ll be pleased with a good confident round for their first three star.

Lauren Ferguson & Mainway’s Dry Ice: Another pair attempting their first three-star this weekend, Lauren and Dice have completed one Advanced horse trials at Chatt Hills in May, where they finished in third place with a 70.2. As a new pair to the level, they’ll be thrilled with a safe, clean round to gain some more experience in their first CIC3*.

Katie Frei & Houdini: Barring any mini horse escape situations, Katie and Houdini have the potential to do well here this weekend. They completed their first CCI4* together this spring at Rolex, where Hewie finished in 34th place with a stop on cross country and an unfortunate five rails on Sunday. However, he has a good record at the CIC3* level, and despite running into some trouble a few weeks ago at Rebecca Farm, I think they could bounce back to their old form. They were 5th here last year in the Advanced division, so they have some experience with the course that will help them on their way.

Becky Holder & Can't Fire Me. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Becky Holder & Can’t Fire Me. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Jodi Hemry & In Style: Jodi and Styles are joining the club of CIC3* first-timers, as they also moved up to the Advanced level this spring, completing four horse trials before this first test at the three-star level. Styles has yet to accept the necessary evil of dressage, and so their initial score will leave them out of the competitive zone, but he’s a super honest and clever cross-country horse who will undoubtedly bring Jodi home safely as they conquer their first three-star course.

Becky Holder & Can’t Fire Me: Winners in 2012 and seventh last year in this same division, Becky and Teddy certainly know their way around the course. They’ve been a bit unlucky this spring, with Becky dislocating her knee while walking the course at The Fork keeping them out of action for the season. They returned with an Intermediate win at River Glen a few weeks ago and will be looking for some redemption here at Richland. They certainly have all the pieces to put together a competitive performance, and I expect them to finish in the top 10.

Jon Holling & Zatopek B: Maggie is predicting that this horse will finish in fifth place, and while I would like to agree with her database, I have a feeling that Zak lost a little of his mojo this spring at Rolex, and I’m not convinced that he’s gotten it back yet. They had a very scrappy round in their first CCI4*, ultimately retiring and re-routing to Bromont, but were yet again thwarted by a stop on cross country. I will say that he has not had issues at the Advanced or CIC3* level, but I’m unwilling to bet my hat on him right now — or until he proves me wrong and finishes in the top five anyway.

Jon Holling & Proper Timing: Jon’s second mount, while almost equally experienced at this level, tends to fly a little below the radar. They’ve had a little bit of an inconsistent record, retiring at Fair Hill CCI3* in the fall, but making it around Bromont CCI3* this spring in good form, finishing in 10th place on a 76.2. They recently won the Chatt Hills CIC3* and ran the Intermediate at River Glen as their first one back from Bromont. Dare I say a sleeper success?

Phillipa Humphreys & Rich N Famous: I fell in love with this horse a tiny bit when I saw him at Millbrook a few weeks ago, because who can resist a flashy pinto warmblood that’s running Advanced? This pair is new to the Advanced level, having just moved up at the Horse Park of NJ horse trials and recently completing Millbrook in 28th place with a final score of 69.4. I think they have all the right pieces to be competitive in the future, but this weekend will be about a successful and safe trip around their first CIC3* together.

Philippa Humphreys and Rich N Famous. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Philippa Humphreys and Rich N Famous. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillipa Humphreys & Sir Donovan: We all know Donald well, as he was ridden through the CCI4* level by Katie Frei before being sold to Peter Barry and campaigned by Boyd Martin. Phillipa acquired Donald this spring as another mount to gain more upper-level miles on in addition to her other mount. Donald knows his way around the Advanced level and can pop around no problem, and I expect they’ll have a good trip here together in their first CIC3*.

Kevin Keane & Fernhill Flutter: As our fan favorite flying veterinarian with his wonderful horse, Butterfly, Kevin is a newly minted Rolex veteran! This pair finished in 28th place at Rolex this spring on a score of 97.2, and they’ve been running at the Advanced level since 2011, so this challenge will be well within their grasp. They were most recently 11th at Millbrook, finishing with a rail and some cross country time to add to their dressage score of 35.

Avery Klunick & In It To Win It: This pair has been competing at the Advanced level since 2013, but really started consistently showing at the level this spring, when they completed two Advanced horse trials, one CIC3* and then placed 21st at Bromont CCI3* with a three day total of 107.4. This is a great horse for Avery to gain more mileage on, and while they won’t be competitive in their placing, I expect they’ll get around clean and safely.

Kendal Lehari & Totally Frank: Maggie has predicted this pair as your “sleeper” in the division, but I think Frank might be out of the surprise ranks now. He has certainly flown below the radar, but it’s no secret that he’s an absolute freak of nature jumper and a cross-country machine. They are new-ish to the level, having moved up this spring, but they completed Bromont CCI3* in 7th place this spring, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a jump penalty on their record. Now Frank, keep your head down in the dressage!

Nilson Moreira da Silva & Muggle: I will always love this horse because of his Harry Potter name reference! Nilson and Muggle are getting experience at the level together, having moved up through the ranks quite quickly from Preliminary this time last year to a newly minted Advanced pair. They were second together this spring at the CHC International CIC3* and recently completed Millbrook in 22nd place. This will be a good challenge for the two of them, and while I expect their dressage will keep them out of the competitive placings, they will have a good time on the cross country.

Michael Pollard & Mensa. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Michael Pollard & Mensa. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Alyssa Peterson & Music Man II: Shout out to my Young Riders homie Alyssa! An incredibly down to earth and industrious lady, Alyssa is thrilled to have a horse competing at the Advanced level again, and Music is quite a cool gentleman. They just moved up to this level at Millbrook a few weeks ago, but tromped that tough course to finish in 17th place in a competitive division. This will be their first CIC3* together, but with the guidance of Sharon White on their side, they will be sure to do well.

Michael Pollard & Mensa: Maggie has predicted this pair as the 2014 winners of Richland CIC3*, and it’s not hard to see why. Michael and Mensa average a 47.3 when performing this dressage test, which should put them in the top three, but not first place, after the flat. Mensa generally has one rail over Marc Donovan show jumping courses, and averages zero jump and 4.8 time penalties for Ian Stark cross-country courses. This should give him a final score of approximately 56.1, which according to the database should be good enough for first!

Kelly Prather & Blackfoot Mystery: Kelly took over the ride on this big red horse last year, and they just recently moved up to the Advanced level, winning their first attempt at the Horse Park of NJ with a 30 on the flat and just a rail to add. They also completed the Millbrook Horse Trials recently, incurring a stop on cross country and finishing in 32nd place. This will be their first CIC3* together, and while it’s clear that they have all the pieces to be a very competitive pair for the future, it’s too soon to tell if they’ll put it all together this weekend.

Colleen Rutledge & Covert Rights: Maggie predicted that this pair will finish inside the top five here this weekend for a repeat performance of last year’s Richland CIC3*. CR averages a 50.4 when performing this test, which puts him solidly in the top group after dressage. However, after some time off following last season, he came out swinging at Millbrook with a 28.8 (equivalent to a 43.2), so could end up on top if his new form stays consistent. On Ian Stark courses, he tends to jump clean, with only 6.8 average time penalties, and while he does tend to add one rail in Marc Donovan show jumping, he ought to finish solidly around 60.8 penalties.

Allie Sacksen & Sparrow’s Nio: Allie and Neo had a fairytale run at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI2* last year, finishing on their dressage score to clinch the win on 47.8. They did their first CIC3* this spring at Fair Hill, finishing 7th on 91.5 with quite a few rails in show jumping. That phase continues to be their nemesis, and if they can leave all the poles in the cups n Richland, they have the potential to finish on a very competitive score.

Mackenna Shea & Landioso: Another one of Maggie’s predicted competitive pairs, Mackenna and Landi completely have the power to ruin everyone’s day and bring the West Coast heat. They had a fluke fall at Jersey Fresh this spring, but rebounded to finish 9th at Bromont. They are incredibly strong in the dressage and will probably lead the way there, so the rest all depends on their competitiveness in the jumping phases — so, you know, no pressure, Mackenna.

Sharon White and Under Suspection. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sharon White and Under Suspection. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Rebekah Smith & Jazz King: This pair completed their first Advanced at Millbrook last year and loved it so much that they waited for their second Advanced at Millbrook 2014, where they recently finished in 15th place with a 53.3 at the end of the weekend. This will be their first CIC3* together and their third attempt at the Advanced level, so it will be a whole new challenge for them. Jazz is a wonderful, honest type and a great jumper, and he is sure to be careful with Rebekah as she runs her first three-star.

Julia Wendell & Cavendish: These two have been competing at the Advanced level for many years now, and this lovely big gelding certainly knows his job. They aren’t competitive in the dressage, but Julia and Cavendish have more than enough experience to get them safely around this course and finish with a smile.

Sharon White & Under Suspection: Sharon is very lucky to have two really nice competitive horses at this level, let alone this one division. Pippy has been selected by Maggie’s database to just sneak in there behind Michael and place second this weekend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes out on top. They average a 50.4 performing 2009 FEI 3* B, and the mare has a clear show jumping record over Marc Donovan courses, with no jump or time. While the pair hasn’t yet tackled an Ian Stark cross-country course, they average only 7.6 time penalties with a clear round at the Advanced and CIC3* level.

Sharon White & Wundermaske: Sharon was one of the riders who got just a little bit too close to 8b at Millbrook, but she got closer than most, almost taking off her kneecap. In true Sharon form, she iced it a bit and got on her second mount to turn in a clear round, despite some understandable discomfort. Patch just came out of his first CCI4* and won the dressage at Millbrook with a phenomenal 25.3. If he can repeat that performance and have the steady jumping that we have come to expect from him, he might give his stablemate a run for her money.

Amanda Wilson & Cool Decision: This pair was 29th here last year in this division after their spring 2013 move up to the Advanced level. They were 10th this spring in the Fair Hill Advanced with a 135.9 and most recently 18th at Jersey Fresh CIC3* with a 123.8 as a three day total. The Richland course is nothing to scoff at, and it will be a good challenge for this two as they work on getting their cross country mojo back in order.

Another Great Day at Maizey Manor, Chantilly for North Americans

Kim & Sparky on the gallop track. Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB. Kim & Sparky on the gallop track. Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB.

We all saw earlier this morning the proof of the ridiculously gorgeous gallop track in Chantilly that Team USA got to use, and yesterday I introduced you to the very important Scha Scha, who is currently acting as team mascot. The great news is that everything seems to be moving along smoothly for Team USA in Chantilly, and also for Team Canada in England. I hear it’s a little bit chillier in both of those locations, which is maybe why we haven’t seen any ALS Ice Bucket Challenges — hint hint, guys!

All Things WEG: Website | Definite Entries | WEG Facebook | @normandie2014 | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Preview


Check out the grounds at Normandy — looking windy, but ready for some horses and riders!


Canada did the switcheroo with USA today, as they galloped yesterday and flatted today, while our team did the reverse! Here’s a quick video of Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, aka Rotti, warming up on the flat before a lesson.


They also had a quick jog practice, which Selena O’Hanlon’s Woody thought was a great opportunity for some snuggles. And yes, that is Selena’s official WEG jog outfit, socks and all.

Photo by Sara Braun.

Photo by Sara Braun.


Drumroll please … Phillip speaks! Not one to be snapping iPhone pics wherever he goes, we’ve been waiting for updates from the Dutton camp, and now you have it.


Tate: “OHMYGODOHMYGOD”

Sparky: “Whatever. Calm down, princess.”

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB.

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing FB.


Can you guess why these two horses are referred to as The Twinzies? William and Donner head out on a gallop earlier this morning.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.


What’s better than a rider’s-eye view of the Deer and the gallop track? Nothing I tell you, nothing! Video courtesy of Lynn Symansky.


Lynn seems to be having a blast in Chantilly, and we are all riding along with her! Go Lynn and Donner!!

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue.


It must actually be freezing in England; look at Gin & Juice all snuggled up in her winter clothes!

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Eventing.

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Eventing.

 


We’re with you, Frankie.


What do the grooms do when stranded in a gorgeous country with only one horse each to look after? Get dressed up and go out together, I suppose!

#groomselfie by Meg Kep.

#groomselfie by Meg Kep.


And as a last note, let’s not forget those brave souls who drove varying crazy distances to get to Richland Park for this week’s competition! An awesome photo from the front of the farm to finish the day:

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Mental Strength

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:

About 10 years ago, I sat down with Phillip Dutton and asked him what I could do to be more competitive. The first thing he told me was to “never underestimate how long it took me to get mentally strong enough to be this good.” He didn’t say I needed better horses, more lessons or more money. None of those things hurt, but they will not take the place of mental strength. I think other sports focus more on this than eventing, but we need to realize how integral it is to our success.
After that conversation, I have carefully watched what other riders do to work on their mental strength. It is certainly not easy, and it definitely takes practice. Some of the competition performances I am most proud of are the ones where my life was a mess, but I was still able to mentally change gears and ride well.
I have seen riders change all their clothes midday when their day wasn’t going well, and it gave them a new mental start to their day. I know some riders listen to certain music while walking the course. Other  riders sit quietly by themselves to go over their ride strategy. Some riders prefer company and have a group of friends that provide support at competitions.
I tend to do best spending some time alone to focus. I also have developed the ability to change my thinking by saying to myself “don’t go there” when I am starting to be distracted by outside influences. I don’t think it matters what you do, as long as it works for you.

North Americans Begin European Training in Earnest

Photo courtesy of Meghan O'Donoghue Eventing FB.

Photo courtesy of Meghan O’Donoghue Eventing FB.

Team USA has arrived, unpacked and settled into WEG headquarters for the near future in Chantilly. They have a precious few more days before the Games begin next week, and they are keeping everything and everyone moving smoothly while making a few last-minute improvements.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate are hanging out with Team USA before  WEG as they prepare for their first Burghley together directly afterwards. “Team USA is all settled in @ this beautiful farm in Chantilly. Pirate handled the trip really well and we are ready to start training tomorrow. Thx again to everyone that is making this possible!”


Photo courtesy of Meg Kep.

Photo courtesy of Meg Kep.

Most of the riders had a good flat school today with Coach David O’Connor, warming up their post-flight muscles and getting down to the nitty gritty.

Photo courtesy of Meghan O'Donoghue.

Photo courtesy of Meghan O’Donoghue.


Most importantly though, everyone should know that Team USA has now taken on a new mascot, and her name is Scha Scha and she desperately wants to get in the car and hang out with the ladies.

(videos courtesy of Hannah Sue)


Don’t worry about Team Canada, because while they may not have an awesome fat bulldog, they do have Clayton Fredericks to keep them entertained. They know how to keep their Coach on his tip-toes and have devised a special sort of workout just for him! Step one: Get your four-wheeler stuck somewhere.


Step two: photobombs?

Photo via the Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.

Photo via the Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.


Actually, Team Canada seems to be having almost a little too much fun at Maizey Manor, despite the cold and drizzly weather. Can we just take a moment to talk about this gallop hill? I think this is what my dreams are made of.

Jessica Phoenix & Peter Barry gallop up the hill. Photo via Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.

Jessica Phoenix and Peter Barry gallop up the hill. Photo via Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.


Love me some Team Canada gallop videos!


Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Storandt.

The view ain’t too bad from the groom’s quarters in Chantilly, though; I gotta tell you that I can’t decide who deserves more of my jealousy.


Photo courtesy of Kathleen Blauth-Murray.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Blauth-Murray.

Buck likes to re-live his childhood jockey days, but this time he’s riding a CCI4* event horse, and he’s in France at the Chantilly Racecourse.


Photo by Caroline Martin.

Photo by Caroline Martin.

And to top it all off, I literally do not know how this photo went unnoticed, but everybody should enjoy Buck wearing a tiara.

They Have Arrived! A Social Media Collection

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The barn full of Team USA horses in Chantilly, France. Photo courtesy of USEF High Performance FB Page.

The travel is officially over! Yesterday was a long, long day for horses, riders and most importantly, grooms, as they shipped all of Team USA over to their stay over farm in Chantilly, France. Team Canada is at Maizey Manor, in England, for training before they head to Normandy later next week. The great news is that all of the horses traveled well and are excited to be overseas, where they undoubtedly know that a big competition is coming soon. Even better news is that the grooms and riders recovered enough to post fun stuff to Facebook and Twitter!


 

Horses on a plane! Photo courtesy of the USEF High Performance FB Page.

Horses on a plane! Photo courtesy of the USEF High Performance FB Page.

All the USA horses traveled on planes to get to Brussels, and then hopped on a van to head to Chantilly, where they will stay in training until they travel to Normandy.


 

View of the Indoor in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

View of the Indoor in Chantilly. Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

Another beautiful view of Chantilly from Liz Storandt.

Another beautiful view of Chantilly from Liz Storandt.

Kim Severson Eventing’s top groom Liz Storandt is on her first overseas grooming trip, and is now officially Sparky’s slave for life, as he enters his first competition for the United States. Fun fact: This is Kim Severson’s FOURTH World Equestrian Games — do you know what the other three were?


 

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Equestrian Team FB.

Team Canada seems to be suffering from a little bit of travel mania (judging from Jessie Phoenix’s crazed expression), but they are thrilled to be trying on their new Canada gear. All new clothes! Everything with red maple leaves!


 

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Awad's Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Awad’s Instagram.

Gin & Juice traveled like a champ — she’s used to it at this point! Pop quiz: How many CCI4*’s has Ginny completed? Answer: SEVEN!! She’s heading for her eighth one in Normandy, and her second WEG appearance. What a mare!


Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB Page.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB Page.

Donner the deer is already fueling up on energy by taking a nap in Chantilly! Can he make it three for three with another double clear CCI4* cross country round? He’s determined to rest up for the occasion. “Donner is all settled in Chantilly after his long journey. Thanks to Kendyl for the photos and taking such good care of the Deer.”


 

 


Photo courtesy of Phillip Dutton Eventing.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Dutton Eventing.

While Mighty Nice is hanging out stateside for a few more days to recover from a mild colic episode, Trading Aces traveled to France with the rest of the group, ready for his WEG debut.


Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

Photo courtesy of Liz Storandt.

What’s worse than the enormous packing effort required this past week? The UNPACKING and ORGANIZING that the grooms are now in charge of for the near future! I take my hats off to these ladies and their incredible skills. Above you see Meg Kep and Kathleen Bluth carefully transporting some of the gear to the barns.


 

 

 

 

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Photo courtesy of Selena O'Hanlon

Photo courtesy of Selena O’Hanlon

Throwback Thursday is one of my favorite trends on social media, and it doesn’t get much better than this picture of Selena O’Hanlon and Colombo at the 2010 WEG, which she posted yesterday to her Facebook. Selena’s 2014 WEG partner, Foxwood High, or Woody, is headed to England as we speak, and I thoroughly hope that her second WEG trip ends with a similar picture of jubilant domination! Go team Canada!

Events in the US:

The Event at Santa Fe [Entry Status/Times]

Erie Hunt and Saddle Club H.T. – CANCELLED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER AND GROUND CONDITIONS

Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Waredaca Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Events Abroad: 

Somerford Park HT: [Website] [Entry Status]

Hambach Horse Trials: [Website]

Tamworth International: [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

In 2007, if somebody asked Sinead Halpin what the skinny chestnut gelding she had just bought would become, she certainly could not have predicted his future success. Tate, as he is known worldwide, has put Sinead on the map following several top ten CCI4* finishes, but he certainly did not begin his journey with impressing the world. Shortly after purchasing him, he found a disliking to a loose palomino hunt horse and kicked a leg through a door, severing his hind extensor tendon at William Fox-Pitt’s yard. His “frenchness” still comes out, especially when his paddock is too small, too large, there are cows, metal bits, cracks in the concrete, or strange lighting. Check out this hilarious and entertaining account of Tate’s journey to the top. [Tate's Tale]

What are Andrew Nicholson’s keys to success? I think we’d all like to know! Horse & Country has a great video that outlines what Andrew’s training regimen involves. In this fascinating extract from FEI Road to Normandy, leading eventer Andrew Nicholson shares some of the secrets to his success – including developing a routine, bringing on young horses, avoiding spookiness and getting into a horse’s mindset. [Andrew Nicholson: Routine Is Essential]

Alex Brown, a horseman who gained notoriety following the breakdown and rehab of the famed Barbaro, has channeled his fame into an overall focus on equine welfare. After Barbaro’s passing, Alex’s social media efforts skewed more toward the focus of engaging and educating the equine-loving community about advocacy for and activism on behalf of retired racehorses, or those racehorses in need of retirement. Collectively, the Fans of Barbaro have been involved with the rescue and/or retirement of hundreds of seasoned campaigners who were nearing the end of their careers and have donated significantly to equine aftercare and laminitis research. [The Renaissance Horseman]

The FEI Solidarity World Photo Grand Prix Competition has concluded, with Portuguese photographer Filipa Scarpa named champion. The FEI Solidarity World Photo Grand Prix competition, aimed at uncovering photographic talent around the world in 2014, the Chinese Year of the Horse, was launched in May by the Fédération Equestre Internationale with Action Images/Thomson Reuters, asking amateur and professional photographers to submit images that capture an aspect of equestrian sport and lifestyles in a memorable and eye-catching way. This photo certainly is magical! [FEI Photo Contest]

FlairBuck-Horizontal

 

 

The Trip To Normandy Begins! A Social Media Roundup

Ingrid Klimke is enjoying the surf in Normandy already! Photo courtesy of Ingrid's FB page. Ingrid Klimke is enjoying the surf in Normandy already! Photo courtesy of Ingrid's FB page.
Team Canada is officially on the move, and Team USA had their final rides on the home front before shipping out tomorrow, so the trip has officially begun! Normandy here we come! Luckily for us, all the riders are just as excited as we are (if not more so!), and they are keeping us up to date with photos and tweets galore, and I’m here to collect them. Let’s check out what everybody is up to!

Hannah Sue Burnett and Emily Dufort take a break from packing the trunks at USET headquarters. Photo via USEF Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Emily Dufort take a break from packing the trunks at USET headquarters. Photo via USEF Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

Can you even imagine the packing efforts it requires to send that many horses and riders overseas? How many trunks? How many blankets, wraps, boots, sheets, saddle pads, oh my goodness!


 


Super groom Sara Braun getting ready to go to the airport with Gin & Juice! Photo via Hawley Bennett-Awad's Instagram.

Super groom Sara Braun getting ready to go to the airport with Gin & Juice! Photo via Hawley Bennett-Awad’s Instagram.

Fun fact: Sarah Braun asked Hawley for a photo op four years ago at the Kentucky WEG, and now she’s heading with Ginny to Normandy as the head groom! A cool story for sure.


 

Team Canada loading up! Photo via the Phoenix Equestrian Facebook page.

Team Canada loading up! Photo via the Phoenix Equestrian Facebook page.

Seems like Team Canada has enough of their own packing to do!

USET Headquarters! Photo via HSB Eventing Facebook page.

USET Headquarters! Photo via HSB Eventing Facebook page.

An inside glimpse into the famous USET Headquarters is something that not a lot of us get a chance to enjoy, but Hannah Sue has been excellent at showing us what it looks like, and it is very neat, to say the least!

Boyd Martin and U.S. training camp. Photo via USEF Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

Boyd Martin and U.S. training camp. Photo via USEF Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

Boyd, posing as usual!

Coach David O'Connor closes the last trailer. Photo via Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

Coach David O’Connor closes the last trailer. Photo via Eventing High Performance Facebook page.

The packing is officially done! What a relief, hope they didn’t forget anything!

Michael Jung and Sam galloping up the hill! Will they be crowned champions again??

Foxwood High is dressed for the road! Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Duarte's FB page.

Foxwood High is dressed for the road! Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Duarte’s FB page.

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

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It must be a horse girl thing, because I know that I’m not alone in this, but something about a custom made leather product just makes my heart sing. I don’t care if it’s a belt, a pair of chaps, or even a sweet wallet, I just can’t get enough of them. I just picked up my new riding belt and while it is simple and classic, I can barely take my eyes off it! It’s the small things in life, isn’t it?

Events in the US:

The Event at Santa Fe [Entry Status/Times]

Erie Hunt and Saddle Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

Waredaca Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Events Abroad: 

Somerford Park HT: [Website] [Entry Status]

Hambach Horse Trials: [Website]

Tamworth International: [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

In the wake of the FEI clearing both Jock Paget and Kevin McNab, Kevin has called for new rules that would protect the innocent from this type of career ruining accusation. While he still stands firmly with the anti-doping regulations, Kevin says that he would like the FEI to take a stronger initial investigatory role, implementing methods that would enable them to find innocence earlier and resolve such an issue at a faster rate. [Kevin McNab Calls for Protection of Innocent]

The US has finally announced it’s official team for the Show Jumping competition at the WEG! In alphabetical order, they are: Lucy Davis riding Barron, Kent Farrington riding Voyeur, Beezie Madden riding Cortes ‘C’, and McLain Ward riding Rothchild, with Margie Engle with Royce Royce as a traveling reserve. Wait until the last minute, why dontcha! [US Show Jumping Team]

The sixth annual Mongol Derby has concluded, crowning Sam Jones of Australia as the winner. Sam is only the second woman to ever win, and the first Australian! The forty year old mining operator rode alone for the majority of the race, and took some risky chances that paid off in the end. The Mongol Derby is 1000 km (about 622 miles) in length, over wild Mongolian territory on small Mongolian horses. Check out this interview with her post-win, which includes details on the Mongolian horses (they bolt a lot) and times when she thought she might poop her pants (direct quote).  [2014 Mongol Derby Winner]

We all seek the full and muscular neck on our horses, but how do you get one? A lot of people think it is about manipulating the neck into a position that moves the muscles, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. The author of this article, in her search for the perfect method, had an epitome early in her quest. “I found I could influence the neck’s position from the haunches rather than from the reins”. Read more to learn more! [Developing A Full, Round Neck]

Hamilton BioVet is offering a free two-month trial to the lucky winner who shared the story of why their horse would benefit from the UltrOZ Therapeutic Ultrasound System. We need you to help us decide the winner! Be sure to vote for your favorite finalist by Thursday, August 14 at 5 pm! [Vote for UltrOZ Trial Winner]

 

 

smartpak logo

Keeping Up With WEG Preparations, Social Media Style

The final countdown to WEG begins! Riders and horses across the world are traveling to their ultimate destination of Normandy, France. They have spent the last few days preparing for the Games, doing their last gallops, making sure they have everything packed and obsessing over their ponies 24 hours a day. Team USA is now fully ensconced at USET Headquarters in New Jersey, ready for a few days of intense training before shipping out to France this weekend. Let’s check out what they’re up to!

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing.

Photo courtesy of Kim Severson Eventing.

Fernhill Fearless has his priorities straight: gallops and then, most importantly, eating! “Sparky enjoying his lunch in quarantine. Arrived safely yesterday p.m. after Sparkie aka Sharkie went for his final gallop with Donner, the deer and Pirate, the goat yesterday at High Acre in the pouring rain. Good stuff!” Kim Severson Eventing is ready to go!


Photo courtesy of Meghan O'Donoghue.

Photo courtesy of Meghan O’Donoghue.

Pirate is checking out the scenes at the USET Headquarters in Gladstone — look at that freshly drug arena! “Part of a very exciting month…Gladstone NJ!”


Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue Burnett.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue Burnett.

Harbour Pilot, aka William, checks out his new digs in the barns. “We have arrived at the USET!! It’s so cool!!!”


Photo courtesy of Meg Kep.

Photo courtesy of Meg Kep.

Now we know the secret to all of Sinead Halpin’s success with Manoir de Carneville. It’s her super groom slash exercise rider slash trainer, Meg Kep! #trained


Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett Awad

Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad

Gin & Juice is on her way to LAX to start the long trip to France, but she has a very important travel buddy to bring along, and no, it’s not Hawley! “Ginny’s travel buddy to WEG, the famous Quinberry !!!!”


Photo courtesy of Michael Jung.

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung.

While we cannot recommend Michael’s lack of headwear (#mindyourmelon), we can recommend rooting for the returning World Champion (not to mention European and Olympic Champion as well). “Die WM kann kommen:) Sam ist super drauf und flitzt den Berg hooch!” Loosely translated: The World Cup may come :) Sam is in great shape and flits up the mountain!


Photo courtesy of FFE - Equipes de France.

Photo courtesy of FFE – Equipes de France.

And how are the French competitors preparing, you ask? Why, of course, they are having a final gallop on the beaches of St Martin with their horses and riders! Above you see Maxime Livio (personal favorite) galloping by as the team coach and grooms watch carefully.

All Things WEG: Website | Nominated Entries | WEG Facebook | @normandie2014 | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Preview

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Know Your Numbers

We are delighted to introduce 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.

sally-cover
From Sally:
When riding jumping courses, there are a large number of variables that we need to consider while planning our ride. Some major ones are grade, footing, tightness of the turn, shape of the fence, and if we are jumping towards or away from the in-gate. These are aspects of the jumping round that we can plan for.
Then there are the unexpected things that can occur — our horse spooks at the banner on the side of the ring, he backs off a type of fence he has jumped a hundred times or he stares at the judges stand on the way to the combination. This type of thing calls for quick reactions, since it was not in our original plan.
I like to take one variable out by walking the exact distance in the lines and combinations in feet. It is not hard to teach yourself to walk a three-foot step and then learn the normal distances used in course design. This will help you plan the type of canter to use in your approach. The canter we need to use for a 36-foot two-stride is different from the canter we need to a 33-foot, two-stride combination.
When I teach, I always tell the riders the distance in the lines so they will have a point of reference to use at a competition. This will help plan the approach and help the riders know how to react when they jump into a line or combination with a too weak or too bold jump.
If in practice you know that for your horse a weak jump into a four-stride line set at 60 feet requires a strong and quick move forward, this will help you know the degree of aid needed in the ring. For the same horse, a weak jump into the four-stride line at 57 feet may not require much lengthening at all to get down the line well.
Linda Allen has a book called 101 Jumping Exercises that has a great chart of distances, and I highly recommend reading it. You will still need to plan your round with your horse’s strengths and weaknesses in mind, but knowing this information takes some of the guesswork out of your plan.

Thoroughbred Legends Presented by Cosequin: Stella

Thoroughbred racehorses that go on to second careers are unique in that they have two retirements in their lifetimes: the first from the track and the second from the show ring. Thoroughbred Legends seeks to honor off-track Thoroughbreds that went on to accomplish great things as upper-level eventers and now enjoy a second retirement in their golden years. If you know of a great Thoroughbred for this series, email [email protected].

Lucia & Stella at VAHT. Photo by Bob Strini.

Lucia Strini at Stella at Virginia Horse Trials. Photo by Bob Strini.

A beautiful grey filly was born in 1990, a daughter by Loverboy Leslie out of Please Try. While she was meant for racing glory, it was not meant to be, and shortly after beginning her racing career, it was cut short, and she was shuttled into a career as a sport horse. Soon, she was talent spotted by Courtney Cooper, who recognized an athlete at once, and proceeded to form her into a top-level eventing champion.

The mare turned grey to white and topped out at 16 hands. Courtney re-dubbed her Stella, going with a simple and classic name to begin her eventing career. Stella started eventing in 1995, progressing through the levels to CCI2* in only two years. In 1997, the pair placed 18th at Radnor CCI2* and shortly afterwards completed three Advanced horse trials.

Lucia Strini was searching for her first horse in 2000, as she was growing out of her Novice level pony, Natty Bumpo. Her coach, Kim Severson, knew it was time for her to move up to riding a horse and took her to try the grey mare, who was truly a gentle soul.

“I vaguely remember seeing her go cross country at Morven Park and was very excited to try her,” Lucia said. “When I tried her, we jumped little show jumps, and she had an extended trot that was amazing, and I just loved her. Kim did a great job finding the right horse for me, and that’s why Stella came to me — to become my new teacher”.

Stella was Lucia’s first experience with mares, and so there were no pre-conceived notions about mare behavior. Stella was first and foremost a lady and secondly a horrendous cribber. She had strict rules about having her girth tightened and pretty much felt that it was unnecessary at all times.

Lucia & Stella competing in the dressage at NAJYRC. Photo by Linda Wachmeister.

Lucia & Stella competing in the dressage at NAJYRC. Photo by Linda Wachtmeister.

Lucia and Stella competed in their first event at the Novice level in 2001 at Sporting Days in Aiken. They placed third, and on that performance moved up to Training, winning their first three attempts at that level in a row. Stella loved eventing, and while her favorite was certainly the cross country (and the steeplechase in particular!), she was also known for her dressage skills.

“I remember thinking that she was the most amazing dressage horse,” Lucia sad. “Her normal trot was nice, but she’d turn on that extended trot and WHAM, she was the fanciest girl out there!”

It wasn’t all blue ribbons and red roses, however, as Stella certainly made Lucia work for it sometimes. She had a horrible left drift that only got worse the faster she traveled. She regularly dumped Lucia in stadium warmup, directly into the oxers.  “She was a schoolmaster in all the right ways; she taught me lessons but then was there to take care of me when I needed it. I have many memories of demolishing jumps as she slammed on the brakes because I missed or leaned up her neck.”

In 2002, the pair moved up to the Preliminary level and headed for Lucia’s first CCI* at the Virginia Horse Trials. Lucia was very nervous about roads and tracks, as well as the steeplechase, as she had very little practice jumping at that speed. “Stella knew exactly what to do. I think all I really did was hang on as she tore around the track. There’s really nothing like galloping a Thoroughbred! I will always remember the feeling of galloping her; it was like her speed was limitless.”

They finished in fifth place on their dressage score and earned a trip to the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships for Area II. They repeated their performance there, getting a bronze medal for the team and placing fourth individually in the junior division.

Stella in show jumping. Photo by Bob Strini.

Stella in show jumping. Photo by Bob Strini.

Continuing their success, in the spring of 2003, Lucia and Stella moved up to Intermediate at Pine Top. Stella had a habit of trotting through the water complexes and nearly scared the pants off Lucia by dropping in at Pine Top and casually trotting the two skinnies in the water and then continuing on her way. They placed fifth in that competition, finishing with just a little cross-country time to add to their dressage score.

After showing Lucia the ropes at Intermediate, Stella decided that she was more interested in a lower-level career and semi-retired to coach a younger girl and practice her dressage skills. For Lucia, it was very sad to realize that their time was up, but she appreciated all that the mare had taught her, she said. As her first horse at the upper levels, Stella was irreplaceable.

“She was the one that taught me that stereotypical horse riding lesson: how to fall off and get back on. I fell off her A LOT, but then she also won me a lot of blue ribbons and gave me a taste for competition. She taught me how to sit the trot and how to gallop. She taught me when to call it a day when things weren’t going well and in the end how to make the best choice for my horse.”

“She was my first horse and is the reason I’m still out there, still loving this sport, because she taught me well and took care of me,” Lucia said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a mare person, but I always give them a chance because of her. Stella was really the best.”

World Equestrian Games Competitors: Repeat Offenders

Buck Davidson, Ballynoecastle RM and Kathleen Blauth-Murray. Photo by Sally Spickard. Buck Davidson, Ballynoecastle RM and Kathleen Blauth-Murray. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Competing at the World Equestrian Games is an unbelievable accomplishment and a true honor to represent one’s country in such a hallowed competition. Success at the CCI4* level is such a fleeting feat, but repeated triumphs at the highest level are what dreams are made of. The horses and riders we idolize are the ones that can go out for years and stay competitive at the top level, and we recognize that this kind of accomplishment is very rare indeed.

With WEG just three weeks away, we found it fitting to highlight the horses and riders who have had the honor of competing at more than one World Equestrian Games, specifically those who competed in 2010 and are coming back for more. Not only are these riders incredibly talented to stay at the top of their game, but the ability to keep a four-star horse sound throughout the years as well as continuing to be competitive is an enviable skill unto itself. You’ll be surprised how many competitors are making a repeat appearance.

All Things WEG: [Nominated Entries] [EN's WEG Coverage]

UNITED STATES

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM: One of only eight combinations making a mutual return to WEG, Buck and Reggie are truly in a class above. Reggie certainly qualifies as one of America’s sweethearts, and Buck has been waiting a long time for some well-deserved success with this horse in the international setting. In 2010, they were unfortunately thwarted by an uncharacteristic stop on cross country, which left them in 42nd place at the conclusion of the competition. Reggie just finished third at Rolex this spring and has looked better than ever this year. Bonus points: Buck & Reggie were alternates for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces: This will certainly be Oscar’s first time to the dance, but Phillip is considered a Team USA stalwart. The United States eventing squad has had him on the team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Kentucky WEG in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012. And, before that, he competed for Australia in thee Olympics and four World Championships. Last time around, he rode the beautiful Woodburn and was 18th overall. This will be Phillip’s sixth WEG. 

Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4: Boyd competed in his first championships for Team USA at the 2010 WEG with his much-loved Thoroughbred partner Neville Bardos, finishing 10th as the highest-placed American combination. Now he returns with his new ride Shamwari 4, who joined Boyd’s program this past winter after being purchased from Ludwig Svennerstal. Though their preparation has not been ideal with Boyd breaking his leg in March, that hasn’t seemed to matter much, as Boyd and Shamwari finished third at Luhmühlen CCI4* in their first major competition together. Expect greatness from this pair in Normandy.

CANADA

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice: Beloved world-over, there is simply something about Ginny’s enthusiasm for life (and specifically cross country) that makes us all fall a little in love. This pair will be going for their eighth CCI4* — holy cow! They join the ranks of the “Elite Eight” who are making back-to-back WEG appearances, having placed 17th at the 2010 Kentucky WEG with a 52.5 on the flat and nothing to add. They were 16th this spring at Rolex with a little bit of an exuberant dressage test and bounced back to nab fourth place at Rebecca Farm CIC3*. They got some experience with Pierre Michelet last fall at Pau CCI4*, where they placed 16th.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High: Selena will be contesting her second WEG competition, having enjoyed her last go around with her longtime partner Colombo, who sadly just recently passed away. They were 12th together in 2010, finishing on their dressage score with a giant smile. Foxwood High is relatively new to the level, having just moved up to the CCI4* level at Rolex this spring, where he placed 10th with a 56.8 in dressage and only 2.6 total time penalties to add to that score.

Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance: Jessie competed at the last WEG with Exponential, another Canadian horse known for exuberance over jumps. However, Tucker’s fondness for the extreme caught up with him when he launched supremely off the bounce bank in Kentucky that year and had to be withdrawn before show jumping. A Little Romance, known fondly as Blue Eyes, is only 9 this year and will be attempting her first CCI4* at the WEG after cracking around Bromont CCI3* this spring to win with only a rail to add to her dressage score of 55.8. She did the CCI2* test event last year at the same venue used for the WEG, and she’s just the type for Pierre Michelet’s twisty, fast course.

William Fox-Pitt & Chilli Morning. Photo by Samantha Clark???

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Samantha Clark.

GREAT BRITAIN

Tina Cook and De Novo News: The British eventing team is known for its competitiveness, and Tina has been a part of that for many years now, starting with her first World Equestrian Games appearance in 1994 with General Jock. Since then, she’s been an integral part of the team, competing at the 2002 WEG, the 2008 Olympics and 2010 WEG. In Kentucky, she paired with Miner’s Frolic for 29th place and team gold. De Novo News has been to Badminton twice and Burghley once, with two top-11 placings.

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning: William really needs no introduction, being as he is quite possibly one of the most successful eventing riders in history. He has represented Team GBR consistently over the past 16 years, including medals at three Olympic Games and three World Equestrian Games. He won individual silver at the Kentucky WEG in 2010 with Cool Mountain, and while Chilli is one of his less experienced four-star mounts, he is a complete stunner and has great potential to blow us away this year.

Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover:  Nicola is best known for being able to stay atop Opposition Buzz, one of the most consistent, talented jumping horses ever to be in eventing. Not only was Buzz known for his exuberant jumping style, but he graced the British team as pathfinder for many many years and numerous championships, with Nicola proving again and again that cross-country courses were doable. At the 2010 WEGs, Nicola was 15th individually. This year, she’s got the joy of taking a new partner, Annie Clover, who will be attempting her first CCI4* at the WEG. She was recently fourth at Bramham in the CCI3*, finishing on her dressage score of 49.

NEW ZEALAND

Andrew Nicholson and Nereo: Another member of the “Elite Eight,” this horse is the energizer bunny. Not only will this be his second WEG, but he also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, famously showing us all what a temper Nicholson can have if a rain delay comes along for dressage warm-up. When it comes to the international scene, Nereo is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, as he was third at Kentucky 2010 WEG and third again at the Olympics. I think it’s safe to say that if Andrew has to add another bronze medal to his collection, he might just blow a gasket, so he’s going to come out with all he has this year in Normandy. Watch out.

Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II: Mark Todd has won Badminton four times, Burghley five times, was named FEI Event Rider of the 20th Century in 2000 before retiring that same year only to come back to the competition scene in 2008 and immediately start kicking all the butts. He competed in the 2010 WEG aboard Grass Valley, with whom he finished in 11th place. Leonidas made it around the incredibly tough Badminton this spring, finishing in 14th place and was recently ninth at Barbury CIC3*.

Jock Paget and Clifton Promise: Joining the ranks of the elite back-to-back WEG competitors, Jock and Promise are certainly coming with a bit of drama at their heels. You’d have to be living under a rock to not remember that were banned from the sport following a positive drug test from their win at Burghley in 2013. The FEI just exonerated him of those charges yesterday after Jock successfully proved that a contaminated supplement caused the positive drug test. They won both Badminton and Burghley last year, as well as placed seventh together at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky. While they might be a little rusty from a lack of outings this spring, this is a formidable pair, so don’t count them out.

Andrew Nicholson & Nereo at the WEG in Kentucky. Photo by Mandy Collins.

Andrew Nicholson and Nereo at the WEG in Kentucky. Photo by Mandy Collins.

IRELAND

Sam Watson and Horseware Bushman: This is another of the elite crowd of horse and rider combinations making a consecutive WEG appearance. At the 2010 Kentucky WEG, Sam and Horseware Bushman pair finished in 26th place, posting a 46 on the flat, running a clear cross-country round with 5.2 time penalties, but unfortunately rubbing four rails on Sunday, knocking them down the order a bit with 16 penalties. Last year they were 22nd at Badminton, with just a rail to add to their dressage score, and this year they’ve most recently been 15th at Tattersalls CIC3*.

GERMANY

Michael Jung & La Biosthetique Sam FBW: How many times does the reigning world champion come back to defend his title? How many times is that horse and rider pair also the reigning Olympic and European champion? I can’t really tell you much about these two that you don’t already know, other than to say they are on the track to making history. They’ve already shown their strength in all three phases repeatedly against the best the world has to offer, and year after year, they continue to stay on top of their game. How does Michael do it? And Sam just continues to be better and better. We’d love to see them do well here in Normandy.

Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon: In 2010, Andreas rode Butts Leon to 46th place in the WEG. Although they had a great dressage score of 40, they suffered three stops on cross country to put themselves out of contention. Butts Avedon has attempted four CCI4* events, completing two of them, both at Luhmühlen. Last year he was ninth there, with a 48 in the dressage and two rails. However, this year his record has been back and forth between CIC2* and CIC3* competitions, and this will be his first CCI4* on one of designer Pierre Michelet’s courses.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS: Ingrid is certainly a German team stalwart, and last time at the WEG she rode FRH Butts Abraxxas to 13th individually with a 41 in dressage, 1.6 time on cross country and Braxxi’s customary two rails in show jumping. Escada is less experienced than her previous campaigner and will be going for her first CCI4* at the WEG. She’s brilliant on the flat (like you should be surprised with Ingrid in the tack) and has almost nary a jump fault to be found on her entire record. A fun mare for the future!

Dirk Schrade and Hop and Skip: This is a really fun pair because both of them competed in the 2010 WEG, but not with one another. Dirk Schrade rode Gadget de la Cere and was unfortunately eliminated on cross country. Hop and Skip was piloted by Japanese rider Kenki Sato and as a stallion finished in 35th place. This time, he competes as a gelding with a German rider instead. Together they have completed three CCI4* competitions: Luhmühlen and Pau in 2011 and Burghley in 2012, all in the top 11 with clear jumping trips. They were recently 10th in the CIC3* at Aachen.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo courtesy of Julia Rau.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo courtesy of Julia Rau.

AUSTRALIA

Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo: Last year, Chris Burton did the almost unthinkable and catch-rode a horse in a CCI4* at Adelaide, and in fairy-tale fashion came out as the winner. TS Jamaimo is that horse, and we bet you that he’s glad he took that risk a few months back. In 2010, Chris partnered with the wonderful mare Holstein Park Leilani for their first WEG together, but sadly collected two stops on cross country and finished in 48th place. However, his new partnership is going well, and they were even one of the lucky few to complete Badminton this spring, finishing in 16th place together.

Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh: The real fairy tale of Badminton is these two, who rose up the ranks from 25th after dressage, delivering one of the few clean cross-country trips and just one rail in show jumping. Brocks joins the top ranks of CCI4*-winning mares and now heads to her first WEG. Sam competed in Kentucky in 2010 with Happy Times, but suffered an elimination on cross country. Following their victory at Badminton, Sam and Brocks had a slow and steady performance at Gatcombe CIC3* for 22nd place.

Paul Tapner and Kilronan: The Australians dominated at this year’s Badminton, and Paul Tapner very nearly captured his second title on this lovely grey horse. They got a 36 on the flat there and made it around the cross country in good style to lead on the last day, but sadly pulled four rails to finish in fourth place. At the 2010 WEG, Paul took that year’s Badminton winner Inonothing to compete, but retired halfway around the course. Kilronan is a real class horse, and they’ve been plagued by some bad luck, but have all the makings of a top-five pair.

Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio: Longtime campaigner Stuart Tinney rode Vettori to an eighth-place finish at the last WEG and comes back this year with this 16-year-old grey gelding. Stuart and Pluto Mio are the only Australian pair that has actually been competing in Australia, and this will be their first real taste of European competition. They were fifth in last year’s Adelaide CCI4* with a 45 on the flat and two rails in show jumping.

SWEDEN

Viktoria Carlerbäck and Volt Af Källstorp: Viktoria competed Bally’s Geronimo last time around for the Swedish team, ultimately placing 33rd because, although they posted a good dressage score of 51, they collected one stop on cross country to drop them down the order. Volt is a lovely 12-year-old Swedish warmblood gelding that attempted his first CCI4* this spring at Badminton, but was one of the many who retired on cross country. They don’t have a perfect three-star record, but they were 21st together at Malmö CIC3* just recently in preparation for WEG.

Malin Peterson and Sofarsogood: In 2010, Malin Larsson competed Piccadilly Z in the WEG in Kentucky, placing 32nd. She posted a good dressage score and had clean jumping trips, but accrued more than 20 time penalties on cross country. Now, married with the last name Peterson, Malin returns to the WEG with the lovely mare Sofarsogood, who wins my favorite name. They completed the Olympic Games together two years ago with a 60 in dressage and a rail to add for 30th place overall. The mare doesn’t always post the best dressage scores, but hasn’t had a cross-country penalty in four years and usually leaves the rails up.

Paul Tapner and Kilronan. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Paul Tapner and Kilronan. Photo by Jenni Autry.

BRAZIL

Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too: One of the “Eight Elite” is Brazil’s Ruy and his steady partner Tom, who has become an honorary American with his competition stay-over this spring in the States. Despite having a bit of a rough spring with a tumble in the show jumping The Fork and Rolex, Tom and Ruy have been partnered at the CCI4* level for four years now, including completions at Luhmuülen, the 2010 WEG and the Olympic Games. Tom knows his job, and all Ruy has to do is get through that final phase and maybe invest in some sticky spray.

Gabriel Figueiredo Silva Cury and Grass Valley: This is Gabriel’s first time at the rodeo, but Grass Valley was partnered with Mark Todd in the 2010 WEG to much success, placing a very respectable 11th at the end of the weekend. Mark is now the Brazilian coach of this year’s WEG team, which likely helped Gabriel get the ride on this lovely horse. They’ve been partnered together for a year, coming up all the way from the one-star level to the three-star level, most recently placing fifth in the Bramham CIC3* Under 25 division.

BELGIUM

Lara de Liedekerke and Ducati van dem Overdam: In 2010, Lara campaigned the lovely mare Nooney Blue at the Kentucky WEGs, ultimately placing 43rd, collecting a stop on cross country and jumping clear in show jumping. This go around, she is partnered with the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood Ducati, who made it around the incredibly tough Badminton this spring with only cross-country time and two rails, finishing in 10th place overall. They also completed Luhmühlen last year, finishing in 19th place with time and two rails once again.

Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’T Verahof: Karin is best known for her partnership with the beautiful mare Gazelle de la Brassiere, who was just outside the medals in fourth place at the 2010 WEG. Her new partner is significantly less experienced and will be attempting his first CCI4* in Normandy. However, they have a great record with nary a cross-country penalty and were most recently fifth in the CIC3* at Aachen.

Constantin van Rijckervorsel and Goodwins Reef: Constantin rode Our Vintage to 45th place in the 2010 WEG, with a 56 on the flat but collecting one stop on the cross-country course. This year he returns with Goodwins Reef, a 12-year-old bay Irish gelding. They made it around Luhmühlen clean this spring for their first CCI4* completion, with a 60 in the dressage and three rails on Sunday.

Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra. Photo by Jenni Autry.

FRANCE

Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra: The last member of the “Elite Eight,” Pascal is returning for his second WEG with his best horse, Minos de Petra. In 2010, they finished in 20th place with a 55 on the flat, double clear cross country and only three time penalties in show jumping. They were 14th at Pau CCI4* last fall and finished in fifth place this spring at Badminton with a clear round and only two rails. They are a very experienced pair with a great jumping record and are poised to do their home country proud here in Normandy.

THE NETHERLANDS

Tim Lips and Keyflow N.O.P.: Tim competed at the Kentucky WEG with Concrex Oncarlos, but sadly was eliminated on the cross-country course. This year he is coming back for Holland, competing the 17-year-old grey Thoroughbred gelding Keyflow. Amazingly, this horse moved up the CCI4* level last year at the age of 16, completing Luhmühlen in 15th place, and romped around Badminton this spring to finish in seventh place.

JAPAN

Takayuki Yumira and Latina 43: Takayuki completed the 2010 WEG in 51st place, with a 61 on the flat and 82 time penalties over the cross-country course, as well as five rails on Sunday. He returns this year with Latina, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare. They competed at the Olympic Games together, but were eliminated on cross country after too many stops. They have not completed a CCI4* together and will be attempting their first in Normandy.

DENMARK

Peter Tergov Flarup and Calista E: Peter rode Silver Ray at Kentucky in 2010, finishing in 44th place with a nice 52 on the flat, but collecting a stop on the cross-country course. Calista is his partner this year, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare. They’ve come all the way up the levels together, completing Luhmühlen CCI4* in 2012 in 13th place. They attempted Badminton this spring, but after a lovely dressage score of 41.8, they were amongst the many eliminated on cross country. They bounced back for a 15th place at Malmö CIC3* this summer.

ITALY

Marco Biasia and Neptune de Sartene: Marco went to his first WEG in 2010 with Gandalf the Grey, where they scored a 60 on the flat but then retired on the cross-country course. Neptune is a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding that will be attempting his first CCI4* after completing Saumur CCI3* this spring with a 47 on the flat, 23 time penalties on cross country and two rails in show jumping.

Stay tuned for our full preview on all the competitors at this year’s World Equestrian Games!

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Skyeler Voss' Accolade making some funny faces after cross country schooling at Surefire Farm yesterday. Skyeler Voss' Accolade making some funny faces after cross country schooling at Surefire Farm yesterday.

Thank goodness it’s Friday! I’ll be honest, I’m still vaguely recovering from driving back overnight from Millbrook on Sunday slash Monday. Arriving home at 3am is way, way too late as far as I’m concerned. Driving the trailer in the wee hours of the night/morning is just about the least relaxing thing that anybody could do, much less a narcoleptic like me. Lets just say that I drank waaaay too much caffeine to get through that, and I’m paying for it now.

Events This Weekend:

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

Otter Creek Summer H.T. [Website] [Ride Times]

Area VII Young Rider Benefit H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Times]

The Summer Event at Woodside [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Hunters Run H.T. [Website] [Times]

Fair Hill International H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

Obviously the biggest news from yesterday was the acquittal of Jock Paget and Kevin McNab. It was concluded that the supplement LesstressE was the culprit, but because Jock and others had used the supplement on many previous occasions with negative drug test results, and it was found that a certain group of bottles produced was contaminated by Reserpine, Jock and Kevin were found not to be at fault and are clear to continue competing. [NZ Riders Cleared of Doping Charges]

In some other good news, Valley Meat was defeated yesterday, effectively defeating their attempt to open an equine slaughterhouse in New Mexico. Horse lovers from around the world collaborated to prevent the company from obtaining a wastewater discharge permit for the operations, and were successful in their charges after many years of struggle. [Horse Slaughterhouse Prevented in NM]

The key to soft, following, good hands? Bent elbows. In another excellent article from Horse Listening, they explain why and how elbows and their flexibility are integral to success in the saddle. Lightness in your joints will change your life, and I can tell you from experience that tense elbows communicate fear and anxiety to the horse that you ride, and work against you all the time. [Elbows Elbows Elbows]

You might be a real horseman if….You can take a completely disassembled full bridle and put it back together while blindfolded. George Morris has publicly insulted your riding and your attire. People from the USEF currently hate you. Anything else you would add? Check out Denny Emerson’s list from COTH’s Throwback Thursday post! [TBT COTH]

When I was three, I had a hot pink horse trailer, and no, I’m not lying. However, I don’t think it was quite as baller as this one, and for that I’m very sad. If you live near Dallas and you’re seeking a horse trailer for a girl under the age of five who is currently obsessed with the color hot pink, I’ve just solved your problem. [Hot Pink Three Horse Slant Load]

 

Because I’m obsessed with this horse….

 

FlairBuck-Horizontal

 

Ride With Nyls: Millbrook Advanced Cross Country

Millbrook Horse Trials is always one of my favorites, for a number of reasons. The first one is sentimental, because Nyls and I completed our first Advanced together there in 2010, and I remember that after our clear cross country round I was so intensely happy and proud that I leapt off, forgetting to unhook my brand new air vest. I promptly blew up like an air balloon, landing on my back like a stuck turtle, and spooking my poor horse.

We’ve been back for the Advanced again, competing last year with no penalties, and a third place ribbon. This year, we did one of our best dressage tests, cruised slowly around the semi-muddy cross country course, and jumped a clear show jumping round for 10th in the huge 47 person division.

The course was certainly nothing to sneeze at, and I was pretty thrilled to get over 5a, not gonna lie. Nyls was pretty fantastic, but then again he’s always fantastic on cross country. I took it slow because the footing was pretty deep in some places, and the hills on the second half of the course always take a lot out of them, so I wanted to leave some gas in the tank for the end. We had about 12 time penalties, but since he hasn’t run since April, I was pretty pleased! Have fun riding along!

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Confidence on the Flat

We are delighted to introduce 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:

As riders and trainers, we are very aware of maintaining and protecting our horses’ confidence to the jumps. It takes a long time to build confidence and not too many bad experiences to undo it. However, we also need to be careful to protect our horses’ confidence in the dressage ring.
Some horses are just nervous in the ring and can be taught to be more confident with quiet, relaxed rides. If we take a horse into the ring and ask it to carry a frame or do movements that it does not know well, we start to harm its confidence, and that can teach it to be nervous in the ring. First we need to deal with the amount of stress our horse can handle mentally, and then figure out what it can handle physically. We also need to have a sense that our horse has the confidence to be able to handle the extra pressure. There is often a fine line between asking for a lot in the ring and pushing a horse over the edge. As a rider, knowing where that line is comes with experience.
To help build a horse’s confidence when we ride it, we need to take the time to thoroughly warm up its muscles and make sure it is able to mentally focus on the work we are asking for. If a horse hasn’t done any ring work in a few days, getting him to focus may take a little longer. If the horse doesn’t seem to be having a great day, I may back off the pressure or not introduce anything new. I try to evaluate what sort of day the horse is having before deciding what to focus on that day. The horse has to trust that we will not ask more of it than it is confidently able to do.

Millbrook Horse Trials Advanced Cross-Country Course Walk

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Millbrook is the place to be this weekend, not only because we have more than six hundred competitors from Beginner Novice to Advanced, but mostly because both Jenni and myself are in attendance! I’m running the Advanced with my steady partner Nyls, and Jenni is hiding behind the camera lens and trying to wear as much blue and grey so that she is completely unnoticeable. Pro-tip: Notice her and go bother her for Chinch photos and autographs. She loves it.

I got the chance to walk Tremaine Cooper’s Advanced course yesterday afternoon, and while a lot of the Millbrook staples are still in place, and there are certainly repeats from last year, he’s made fresh changes to almost all of the technical aspects, and there are some real questions out there. The terrain, while one of my favorite features of this competition, is a challenge within itself, as the course contains several long uphill pulls that can really take the gas out of some horses earlier than expected.

We start out strong at fence five, which is a pretty big corner three bending strides to a table, but the catch is that the corner is also placed so that a ditch precedes it. If you have unruly or ditchy horses, this will come up quickly, and while there is an option for the A element, it will waste you a lot of time.

The "B" of 8abc

The “B” of 8abc

The next question is at 8abc, which includes a log that some of you have seen developing as Millbrook posted photos on Facebook of the cross-country work. Beginning with an upright gate at 8a, there is a bending line to B, which is a half keyhole sort of skinny thing, which has the flags adorably carved and painted into itself. This is followed by three downhill strides to a chevron, but the chevron is quite generous in it’s width and I don’t think that will cause more than it’s share of problems. The B element looks terrible upon initial inspection, but I think even the chubbiest Advanced horses will be able to fit through it.

The water complex this year, while being somewhat notorious for causing trouble, has definitely become tamer in 2014. Last year, there were many issues with all the levels, and I know that the Intermediate divisions suffered greatly. This year it is much simpler for the Advanced, with a nice brush drop in, and then a canter through the water, a small bank out and one stride out over small keyhole.

The next really big question is the classic step ups that are always on the Millbrook course. This year it is only two banks one stride apart and then a bounce up over the C element, which is a half keyhole. Not only are the banks substantial and the climb up a phenomenal feat of athleticism, but it comes late in the course directly after a long and arduous pull uphill, and will certainly require that the riders re-engage their engines before attempting.

Advanced cross country starts tomorrow, so in the meantime, please enjoy these photos of the course! (Apologies for missing #18 — whoops!)

Millbrook Links: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

 

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Three Jumping Positions

We are delighted to introduce 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:

When I jump, I use three different jumping positions — two point, three point and sitting fully in the saddle. I decide which one to use depending on the conformation of the horse, the experience of the horse and the type of fence I’m jumping.
If I am jumping a horse that is built or carries itself downhill, I will use the three-point position so I can use my body to help the horse within his balance. If I’m riding a brave jumper that goes uphill,  I may ride the horse in a more forward or two-point position.  On a horse that my be inclined to stop or is just green, I will sit in the saddle in the approach so I can be behind him if he starts to back off.
The type of fence also determines how I use my body in the approach; the taller the fence, the further back I keep my upper body. This gives the horse more support in his balance without just using the reins. If I am jumping an honest horse over smaller jumps, I will often keep my upper body a bit more forward in two point.
If I am jumping a fence that has a sloping face to it, I will often use two point since the horse’s balance does not need to be adjusted as much. To jumps without height, such as ditches, banks down or going into the water, I will stay sitting in the saddle because if the horse peaks, it will quickly drop its eye, and it is easy to find ourselves out of balance and too far forward.
I know that many riders feel strongly about what is the right jumping position to use, but I think it is important to be able to use all three. I have found that on one cross-country ride, I have used all three on the same horse. Most importantly, if  your horse is jumping confidently and performing well, you are probably riding it just right!

Lainey Ashker Trumps All at Great Meadow Bareback Puissance

Lainey Ashker & Jolly Good Sport. Photo by Alec Thayer.

Lainey Ashker & Jolly Good Sport over 5’1. Photo by Alec Thayer.

While there was much excitement over the WEG prep trials this weekend at Great Meadow, Saturday night was host to a whole ‘nother type of crazy fun: the bareback puissance! With a $1,000 grand prize, there was a great turnout of ten horses and riders, all hoping for a shot at bareback glory.

A few of these pairs had been practicing at home, with serious intent to bring home the gold, while still others had never even ridden over show jumps prior to the competition! Thank goodness for Alec Thayer of AB3 Photography, because my camera was barely able to take anything decent in the low lighting of the night-time stadium.

The vertical jump started at 3’3″, and went up three inches per round, quickly increasing to over Advanced height. The riders were given a warmup fence, but some opted just to go right for the puissance fence and take their chances there.

Before anybody asks why some of the riders are shirtless in the photos below, here is the general rule for bareback puissance: if you have a rail or a refusal, you have the option to take your shirt off for a second chance, because otherwise you are eliminated! Most riders happily stripped, to the great cheers of the crowd, and some of the girls clearly planned for that with some colorful sports bras.

The jump went up and up and up, with an impressive number of riders surviving past four feet and beyond. All I can do is assume that all of them were wearing very sticky full seat breeches, as well as riding horses with little to no withers. My horse would have dumped me after the first jump!

Eventually, Lainey Ashker, riding Sheila Wolff’s Preliminary horse Jolly Good Sport, was victorious as she cleared an incredible 5’1″. Thanks to Alec for lending us his photos, to Kristin Carpenter for organizing and announcing, and to Great Meadow for hosting such a fun night!

If you’re bummed that you missed the opportunity to participate in or spectate at this ridiculous strip bareback puissance event, don’t worry! There is a $2,000 bareback puissance as well as a $500 2’9″ class at Morningside in just a few weeks on Aug. 23.

There will be music, dancing, BYOB and absurd strip bareback jumping, so stick that on your calendar. Will Lainey Ashker defend her title? Will runner up Amy Savell and Mower take the cash? Or will an underdog surprise us all?!