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

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Galway Downs! Photo courtesy of Plain Dealing Farm FB.

Galway Downs! Photo courtesy of Plain Dealing Farm FB.

Two incredibly awesome things are happening this weekend: Galway Downs….and Halloween! I’m sure there’s also some other stuff that’s pretty great this weekend (cheering on my pals in the VA CCI*!!) but for me, those are the two highlights. I’m a big fan of being pretty scary for Halloween, and so this year I’m dressing up as one of the Grady twins from The Shining with a friend of mine. I’ve been practicing dead girl makeup all week, and I look positively horrifying. Which is perfect!

North American Weekend Preview:

Virginia CIC2*/CCI1* and H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Times]

FEH Qualifier and Championships at Loch Moy [Website] [Entry Status]

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

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

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

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

News From Around The Globe:

Unfortunately, Zenyatta’s weanling filly died yesterday after a pasture accident. Team Zenyatta reports that the 2014 War Front filly, also known as Z Princess, was humanely euthanized after an accident in the paddock at Lanes End Farm. Zenyatta is taking next year off of mother duties, but has two other babies on the ground and in race training. [Zenyatta's Filly]

The Washington International Horse Show knows how to do Puissance…they START at 5’6! This year, Jessica Springsteen took home the top prize on Lisona, clearing an incredible 6’10 high puissance wall. No, she wasn’t bareback, but still. Pretty badass. [Jessica Springsteen Wins Puissance at WIHS]

Get Your Pumpkins and Craft Supplies Out! It’s time for another EN contest! Decorate a pumpkin as creatively as possible and send a picture to en.contest@gmail.com for your chance to win some amazing prizes from our sponsors ERS-Eventing and Omega Alpha! Entries are due by 10/31 at 5 p.m. EST. [EN Halloween Contest]

Can’t get enough contests? Don’t forget, Tredstep Ireland is sponsoring our Caption That! contest, for which entries are due today. Check out the original post, send in your caption by 5 p.m. EST on 10/30, and find out if you’re in the running for a snazzy new Futura Sport Top to call your own. [Caption That!]

Six foot ten inches? How’s THAT for some high jumping??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MqiU07Jvxg

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Galway Downs International CCI3* Preview

Maya Black and Doesn't Play Fair at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Galway week is here, and with it comes the very last three-day event divisions of the year! This year, the CCI3* division is especially exciting, as it proves that more and more East Coast competitors are going west to partake in this special competition. There are a grand total of 19 entries, with five pairs that have been rubbing elbows with the East Coast crowd, which is excellent to see.

Several of these riders are coming off a less than satisfactory result at Fair Hill, but as we saw from last year’s winner, that has little to no relevance upon their performance at Galway. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the entries.

[Galway Website] [Entries]

David Acord & Reins For Justice: David is piloting this lovely bay mare around her first CCI3*, and it will be his return to the CCI3* level since he completed Fair Hill in 2005, and I’m sure he’s delighted to have another talented horse to take him here. This pair was 8th recently at the Woodside CIC3*, scoring a 61.5 on the flat, adding just 14.8 time penalties on cross country and rolling two poles in show jumping. They have two CIC3* events under their belt, and while they won’t be competitive after the first phase, they should be ready for this next challenge.

Andrea Baxter & Indy 500: Andrea and this mare are coming back to Temecula with a little bit to prove, as they attempted their first CCI3* together here last year and were sadly eliminated on cross country. Since then, they’ve put another solid year of Advanced and CIC3* level experience under their belt and are coming back for redemption. They’ve had a spot of trouble here and there on their cross country record lately, but came fifth at Woodside CIC3* recently, so hopefully those demons are put to rest. They have never scored below a 60 in an FEI competition, but have the potential to jump well in the other phases.

Maya Black & Doesn’t Play Fair: While Maya is a West Coast girl at heart, she and Cody have been competing all up and down the East Coast all year … and kicking our butts. They had a heartbreaking fall at Fair Hill after scoring a 49.6 on the flat and sitting in a prime position. They won the competitive Plantation Field CIC3*, have never scored above a 50.2 at an FEI competition, have no stops or runouts on their record and have never had more than one rail. I think they’ll be top of the bunch here at Galway.

Bonner Carpenter & Basco: Bonner is piloting this promising 8-year-old gelding around his first CCI3* this weekend here at Galway. They proved recently at Woodside that they have the potential to hang with the big boys, pulling off the win with a 47.7 on the flat and only one time penalty in show jumping to add to that score. With that kind of performance, Bonner might just be your dark horse contender for the weekend.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beech. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beech. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Anna Collier & Gleaming Road: This horse moved up to this level this year and has two CIC3* competitions under his belt, most recently placing 6th at Woodside with a 62.1 on the flat, 8 time penalties on cross country and two rails in show jumping. Anna is no stranger to this level, having completed Rolex in 2004 on another mount and will be using her experience to help this talented young horse around his first CCI3*.

Barb Crabo & Eveready II: This pair is an old hand at this level, having been competing successfully in three-stars since 2008. They’ve tried Rolex twice and haven’t gotten through, but they are well established at this level and have already completed four CCI3* events, including a third place here in 2011. They were 5th this summer at Rebecca Farm CIC3*, with a 55.6 on the flat, 18.8 time penalties on cross country and one rail in stadium.

Buck Davidson & Copper Beach: Buck won this event last year, and he might very well do it again this time around with this big chestnut gelding. They won the Jersey Fresh CCI3* this spring with a 43.2 on the flat and just 7.6 cross country time penalties to add to that score. Top that off with a second place finish at Plantation CIC3* this fall adding only a rail to his dressage of 48.9 and you have a seriously competitive pair here.

Ellen Doughty-Hume & Sir Oberon: A rider knee injury sustained at the American Eventing Championships kept Ellen and Obie from contesting Fair Hill for the second year in a row, but she’s healed and rebounded to Galway instead, hoping for a good finish. Last year they were 6th at Fair Hill together with a 53.6 on the flat, double clear cross country and just one rail in show jumping. They were also 3rd together at Red Hill CIC3* this spring and recently 7th at the AECs in the Advanced division. They’ve had a light competition schedule, but certainly can do well here this weekend.

Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo by Jenni Autry.

John Michael Durr & Esprit De La Danse: This pair moved up to the Advanced level this year and have had all top six finishes at each of their three CIC3* competitions. Most recently, they were 4th at Copper Meadows in the CIC3*, scoring a 60 on the flat, adding only four time penalties on cross country and taking three rails in the show jumping. Like many of the combinations here, they aren’t necessarily aiming for a competitive result as much as a good completion over a serious challenge.

Angela Grzywinski & Novelle: Angela and Novelle are another pair that are tackling their first CCI3* together here this weekend, and they have come in with one qualifying result at the CIC3* level, which they achieved at Copper Meadows recently. There they were second with a 68.4 on the flat and only .4 time penalties on cross country to add to that score, jumping clean everywhere else. They won’t be competitive after dressage, but they have the full potential to jump around this challenging track.

Jordan Linstedt & Revitavet Capato: These two moved up to the Advanced level in 2013 and have been taking their time getting acquainted with it before attempting their first CCI3* here at Galway, and I think it might pay off. They’ve been consistently scoring in the low 50s for dressage and jumping clean with the occasional rail. They were recently 4th at Woodside CIC3*, with a 54.6 on the flat, double clear cross country and one rail in stadium. This horse is superbly talented, and Jordan has done a great job bringing him up the levels.

Boyd Martin & Trading Aces: Certainly one of the most highly anticipated pairs competing here this weekend, they fully have the capacity to bring home the win. Oscar didn’t have the trip around the WEG that he wanted, but he did get a ton of experience getting there, and he’s got the chops for this level competition. They were fourth at Plantation CIC3* with a 51.3 on the flat and only 4.8 time penalties on the cross country. After that, Oscar has been enjoying a nice vacation, so he’s coming into this competition fresh and ready to go.

Mackenna Shea and Landioso. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Mackenna Shea and Landioso. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jen McFall & High Times: Jen and Billy made their CCI3* debut last spring at Jersey Fresh, finishing in 9th place with a 59.6 on the flat, clear cross country and 14.4 time penalties, and four rails on the final day. They also completed their first Rolex this spring in 36th place and have gained a wealth of experience from that. They have had an easy campaign after Rolex, with just the CIC3* at Rebecca Farm and an Intermediate run in between. I don’t think Billy will let her be competitive on the flat, and he tends to roll more poles in the CCI format, but they’ll be great on cross country and happy to go home with another three-star completion.

Gina Miles & S.V.R. Ron: Star of Gina’s Save Of The Day, Ron gained his moment in the spotlight when he slammed on the brakes and lost his bridle in the show jumping at Woodside CIC3* a few weeks ago. Gina pulled an Avery Klunick and finished her round and hopefully won’t have to do that again here! This horse previously competed at the CCI3* level with Uruguayan rider Frederuci Gonzalo Daners Bidegain and even went to the Pan Ams in 2011. Gina has had the ride on him for two years now, and they attempted their first CCI3* as a pair at Jersey Fresh this year, but retired after a few stops on cross country. They were 7th at Woodside despite the bridle debacle, with a 57.6 on the flat, 10 time penalties on cross country and a total of 19 penalties in show jumping.

Bunnie Sexton & Rise Against: Bunnie and Ecko were 5th here last year in this division, with a 64.4 on the flat and just 5.6 cross country time penalties to add to that score. This 15 year old OTTB is a great jumper, with barely a rail on his record and an almost impeccable cross country record. The dressage ranges from low 50s to mid 70s, but they are fully capable of climbing the ranks with two clean jumping rounds.

Mackenna Shea & Landioso: Mackenna spent the majority of her season on the East Coast, and while she gained a ton of experience, I think its safe to say that a lot of things didn’t go her way this year. She and Landi have a ridiculous amount of potential together, and we just have to see them put together three phases in one weekend to blow our socks off. They are re-routing from Fair Hill, where they fell victim to the ditch and brush that was later removed from the course. They have been competing at this level since 2011, but have been four times thwarted in a CCI3*, showing us brilliance in between. All three phases are equally competitive, but need to happen all in a row for us to see what Mackenna and Landi can really do.

Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek.  Photo by: Leslie Wylie

Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek. Photo by Leslie Wylie

Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek: Lizzie and Devon also encountered trouble at the ditch and brush at Fair Hill and seem to have suffered no drawbacks so they re-routed to Galway. They had a great run at Bromont CCI3* this summer, finishing in third place with a 57.9 on the flat, clear cross country with 3.6 time penalties and just one rail on Sunday. They scored a full four points better in dressage at Fair Hill, and with a low 50s score here they could finish really nicely.

Kaitlin Veltkamp & Flashpoint D: This pair just moved up to this level, completing two CIC3* events this fall, but with great success. They won their debut at Copper Meadows and were third at Woodside a few weeks later. Both times they scored in the high 50s in dressage, show jumped double clean and added no more than four time penalties on cross country. This will be their first time at the level, but they haven’t been outside the top three all year and are hoping to keep that streak alive.

Jolie Wentworth & Goodknight: These two really have a knack for the CCI3* course at Galway, having competed here in this division for the past three years and placing second in both 2011 and 2013, and fourth in 2012. The dressage tends to stay in the low to mid 50s, but they always jump fast and clean, which gives this feisty gelding a leg up after three days of grueling competition. Perhaps this is finally the year where they stop playing bridesmaid?

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

William Fox-Pitt & Seacookie winning Pau CCI4* 2013. Photo by Kate Samuels.

William Fox-Pitt & Seacookie winning Pau CCI4* 2013. Photo by Kate Samuels.

This time last year, I was enjoying the warm weather in the south of France, soaking up the awesomeness of my first international CCI4*, Pau! Jenni and I had a great time there, and basically ate fresh bread and local cheese non stop from start to finish. We have quite a few American pairs there competing this weekend, and after the first day of dressage, we are in quite good standing. The cross country course there is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and while it might seem small at first, it takes plenty of prisoners on Saturday, and I wish everyone the best of luck as they tackle the rest of the competition!

North American Weekend Preview:

Waredaca Classic Three-Day and H.T. [Website] [Three Day Scores] [Horse Trials Scores]

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

Holly Hill Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Heritage Park H.T. [Entry Status] [Times]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Pau (FRA) CCI4*, CIC2* WebsiteEntriesDressage TimesLive ScoresFree Live StreamEN’s CoverageUSEF Eventing High Performance Facebook@LesEtoilesdePau

Aldon (GBR) CCI/CIC1* [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

In a somewhat odd turn, popular British and American event commentator has been caught in hot water with the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in the UK. Dr Ed Holloway, who recently commentated at Plantation Field, has had his medical license revoked after it became clear that he was repeatedly calling in “sick” for work, conveniently on weekends where he was traveling to commentate at events. Rather than treating his patients at Scunthorpe General Hospital, he was talking about cross country. After a co-worker recognized his voice on a video from Plantation, he was forced to reveal the truth. Hmm. [Commentator Struck Off Medical Register]

Big news for American Trakehner breeders, as the first American-born stallion was just approved at the 2014 Trakehner Verband Inspection in Neumünster, Germany. The American bred and foaled Trakehner stallion Davidas jumped his way into the history books last weekend when he was approved as a premium stallion by the German Trakehner Verband at their annual stallion inspection and auction held in Northern Germany. He was also named “Best Jumper”, and later was sold in the stallion auction on Sunday for 93,000 Euros ($117,180 U.S.) to a German-based group. [Davidas Jumps Into History Books]

In the most recent Fasig-Tipton thoroughbred sales, a white colt by Thunder Gulch sold for $29,000. While that price tag might not have you interested, his color certainly should. Painted Patchen is technically registered as white, but he has funny roan patches all over, and is one of only about a dozen registered white thoroughbreds in the past 15 years. You’ve got to see these pictures of him. [White Thoroughbred Colt at Fasig-Tipton]

As winter approaches, some of us might be considering throwing up some new sheds for winter turnout. If that’s the case for you, be sure to check out this article on the scientific necessity of man made shelters for horses in the winter months. More important than sheds is variation in landscape to allow your horse to properly navigate the weather. [Do Horses Need Sheds?]

We love our volunteers! Let’s face it, without the volunteers at each and every event, our sport would be nothing. So we want to hear your stories! Are you a long-time volunteer at your favorite event? Did you recently have a great experience with a volunteer? Do you just want to say thank you? Send us a quick story and we’ll post it in our new Volunteer Appreciation series! Email sally@eventingnation.com with your tips. 

Check out Clark’s interview with FEI TV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVdwGDYeQHw

FlairBuck-Horizontal

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Willa (girl) and Sofie (horse) Photo courtesy of Jennifer Card.

Willa (girl) and Sofie (horse). Photo courtesy of Jennifer Card.

Ahhh Halloween time is almost upon us! Willa and Sofie from the above photo are aspiring beginner novice event riders from Sun Valley Idaho. Their pony club, Sawtooth Pony Club, hosted a Halloween Fun Show last week. How cute is that!! I always secretly wanted to have an outfit with my pony when I was a kid (who am I kidding, I would do it now too), but my ponies were always the type that would have been less than enthusiastic about it. My last pony before the days of horses was named Hershey’s Special Dark, and she bolted and dumped me once because she caught a glimpse of my white socks out of the side of her eye. You can imagine how a costume would have gone over…

North American Weekend Preview:

Waredaca Classic Three-Day and H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Holly Hill Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Heritage Park H.T. [Entry Status] [Times]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Pau (FRA) CCI4*, CIC2* WebsiteEntriesDressage TimesLive ScoresFree Live StreamEN’s CoverageUSEF Eventing High Performance Facebook@LesEtoilesdePau

Aldon (GBR) CCI/CIC1* [Entry Status]

News From Around The Globe:

WEG 2022 in Ireland? Could be! Millstreet, a facility in Co. Cork has 11 international all-weather arenas, three indoor arenas and stabling for up to 1,200 horses already. They have a new cross country course, designed by Mike Etherington-Smith, and it debuted as the site for the Pony European Championships this year, to great success. Unfortunately, as history shows us, hosting the games usually comes at a financial loss, and Ireland’s bid will require significant private funding to make it happen. [Could Ireland Host WEG 2022?]

Fall usually means a lot of fun, but not when red maple leaf poisoning is involved. Did you know that wilted red maple leafs are lethally poisonous to horses? Red maple leaves contain gallic acid. Intestinal bacteria can convert gallic acid from leaves into pyrogallol, which can damage red blood cells and cause horses to die. Be sure to check your paddocks for possible risk. [Lethal Red Maples]

We love our volunteers! Let’s face it, without the volunteers at each and every event, our sport would be nothing. So we want to hear your stories! Are you a long-time volunteer at your favorite event? Did you recently have a great experience with a volunteer? Do you just want to say thank you? Send us a quick story and we’ll post it in our new Volunteer Appreciation series! Email sally@eventingnation.com with your tips. 

Is your horse too fat? SmartPak has come up with a pretty cool interactive article about how to body score a horse on the Henneke scale. If you aren’t familiar with this scale, each area of the body has a different rating system, which can change the initial impression of overall body score. [Over, Under, or Ideal?]

William Fox-Pitt won Pau 2013 on Seacookie, can he do it again? This pair is back this year for more!

http://youtu.be/5zv47_RDW0c

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Tyson Rementer Channels Love of Eventing Into Course Building

Tyson Rementer, cross country jump builder extraordinaire, posing with one of his creations. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

Tyson Rementer, cross country jump builder extraordinaire, shows off one of his creations. Photo courtesy of Tyson Rementer.

As eventers, the cross country phase is what defines us, holds our attention and keeps us coming back for more every day. These days, cross country course design and appearance has taken a serious turn for the elaborate and impressive, with custom carved obstacles and decorations galore becoming the new normal.

If you’ve been to an event on the East Coast and walked anywhere near the cross country course, chances are that you’ve seen this man, usually working hard both early in the morning and very late at night, and always with a smile on his face. His name is Tyson Rementer, and he’s a master course builder.

Tyson has been nurturing a deep love for the sport of eventing since early childhood, as he grew up as a self-described “completely horse obsessed nerd” in the town of Cape May, N.J. In a story that many of us can relate to, he read and watched all things horse related, and can, to this day, recite every line from National Velvet, Man From Snowy River and The Black Stallion. Eventually his parents gave in to his infatuation with the equine world and purchased him a horse in fourth grade, and there was no looking back from there.

Of course, college was chosen by virtue of the available equine science major, and Tyson moved to Delaware Valley College, where he met Jane Cory of Pleasant Hollow Farm. This was his introduction to eventing, as Pleasant Valley ran a few events through the Intermediate level.

He was recruited to be useful around the farm in exchange for lessons and board, and slowly school faded into the background as his love for eventing flourished. It was during this time that he brought several horses up through the Preliminary level and was successful in his riding career.

The infamous owl jump that was so carefully constructed at Red Hills last year. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

The infamous owl jump that was so carefully constructed at Red Hills last year. Photo courtesy of Tyson Rementer.

A working student position for Bruce Davidson seemed necessary, and through this program Tyson met Morgan Rowsell, a professional course builder. In turn, Morgan recruited him to assist in building the Radnor International Three Day Event course one year, and it was there that Tyson found his true calling.

“Morgan was the first professional course builder I had ever met, and there was something very appealing to a 22-year-old me about traveling the country with a truck full of chainsaws and a dog. In fairly short order, it became evident that my skills as a cross country course builder were in far greater demand than my skills as a rider, and so I found myself building more and riding less.

“I have now been a full-time cross country course builder for a little over a decade. It is a grind at times for sure, but I count myself among the lucky few who get to make a living doing what they love,” Tyson said.

Certainly if you’ve seen modern cross country courses, you can feel the love of the course builders innately. Competitors, organizers, spectators and sponsors have come to expect a certain level of artistic quality in the cross country courses these days, and Tyson gets it.

“Let’s face it, a banner on the back of a rotten pile of logs isn’t going to sell many $10,000 watches or luxury SUVs. I worked in a restaurant during high school, and the chef there told me that people ‘eat with her eyes.’ I think eventers submit entries the same way. Look at the numbers — the beautiful courses get big entries, and there are some beautiful courses out there, so it pays to keep up!”

Working on the stonehenge complex that debuted at Carolina International this year. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

Working on the Stonehenge complex that debuted at Carolina International this year. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

Tyson attended and helped construct 21 events this year, working primarily as the principle builder. This includes top billed competitions like Red Hills, Carolina International and Rolex Kentucky. As there are only about 10 full-time course builders in the U.S., everyone is very familiar and friendly and willing to help out when another is in a bind. What keeps them coming back is the daily variety in their work, and of course the creative outlet of making the best and most impressive course possible.

When asked about his thoughts for the future regarding cross country construction, Tyson is quick to remark that he is incredibly excited with the idea of revolutionizing the sport with some of the new deformable technology like frangible pins and the MIM system.

“I’m a strong supporter of anything that can help improve safety without compromising courses. Frangible pins and the MIM system have been making huge leaps forward in this area. It’s not an ‘end all be all’ in terms of making courses 100 percent safe, but the advent of these systems have brought back into play some of the fence designs that were becoming antiquated, like open corners, gates and airy oxers.

“We now have the ability to make fences such as tables, corners, rails and gates much safer for the horses but look no less intimidating to the spectators. There was a huge percentage of deformable fences at Rolex this year, and you will see that trend spread throughout the country for sure.

“Cross country course construction has become a highly specialized profession. You can’t just dam up a creek anymore and call it a water jump. The profession has grown by leaps and bounds, and the standards are increasingly high. I find it a great thrill and challenge to stay on the cutting edge,” Tyson said.

Working on some logs for another event. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

Working on some logs for another event. Photo courtesy of Tyson.

The course builder’s life is not for the faint of heart, but certainly carries a good amount of allure for those who enjoy a nomadic life of adventure. Just this year alone, Tyson has driven his trailer for eight hours with three wheels and no brakes with a full load of portables, searched in a neighborhood for a loose horse only to find him in a hotel parking lot and swum to the middle of a pond to rescue another loose horse.

Of course, when asked of his opinion about the riders he is surrounded by every weekend, he has a ready response. “Do I think you’re all insane? Yes, but not because of the jumps. I understand that you don’t just roll out of bed and jump around an Advanced track. When you watch an upper level horse and rider, you are watching literally years of patient and practical training. I think you are all insane for the fact that you’ll wear a wool coat and stock tie in the heat of the summer even when jackets are waived!”

When he is not constructing the courses that we love so much, Tyson lives in Mount Airy, N.C., with his two incredibly adorable children and his lovely wife, Sam. With most of his events being more than 2 1/2 hours away, his plans for the future include spending more time at home and less time smelling like chainsaw fuel and leaving sawdust wherever he sits.

Go course builders. Go Eventing.

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Cross Country Strategy

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:

When I first get ready to walk the cross country course, I try to keep in mind what my goals are for that event. If the horse is green at that level, I would likely be pleased with a confident ride.
If I need a clear round for qualification purposes, I might play it a little “safe” even if that means I might not place well. If I have had some troubles in my training, this might cause me to change my plan and possibly take an option.
For me, cross country riding is about risk management. For example, if I cut this corner I may save three seconds, but I could risk a run out. This is where it is important to evaluate your horses’ strengths and weaknesses. If my horse tends to run out to the left, I would not trim a right turn but would make a larger turn so I could protect the horse possibly popping the left shoulder and running out.
As a rule of thumb, if I have a combination, skinny or corner, I will give myself four straight strides in the approach. That gives you enough time if the horse starts to waiver to do something about straightening him again. I also keep in mind how long it takes for me to get the horse to the canter speed and balance I will need for the jump.
The harder the horses pull the longer it takes to rebalance or slow them down. The fastest horses on course are not necessarily the fastest gallopers but the ones that are easy to set up. On galloping type jumps I evaluate when I need to set up based on the “face” of the jump.
Some galloping jumps have a good ground lines, and that type of jump would require less organization than a jump with a more vertical  face.  The more vertical the jump the more balanced you would have to be. It is better to set up too soon than to find out the horse has become “hard of hearing” and is ignoring repeated requests to organize.
When I am on course I may find that my horse isn’t going the way I hoped. I may then change my ride, slow down, or maybe take an option. When I walk I find out where the options are on any of the jumps in case I end up having to take them.
Even on a good horse mistakes happen, and knowing the way out can make the difference of finishing or not. If it is really not going well, I will just pull the horse up. Good coaching and experience can help us make smart decisions.

A Whirlwind Fair Hill Weekend Social Media Recap

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

There’s just something about three day events that leaves us breathless, whether we were competing, spectating, or following from afar, nobody who is a fan of Eventing can help but get swept along in the fascinating roller coaster that is upper level competition. Fair Hill in particular captivates all of us, and continues to be the crowning glory of any year long campaign. Each and every year there are amazing stories of perseverance, love, and determination for the future. There’s nothing like the love you feel for your horse after completing a grueling test together, and Fair Hill definitely cementing some love this weekend.

#FHI: WebsiteFinal ScoresYEH ScoresEN’s CoverageVideosEN’s Instagram


Your CCI3* winner, folks! Congrats to Jennie for finally breaking that streak of bad luck, and in what a way! A great ending to the year for this pair.

Photo via Lauren Sumner's FB.

Photo via Lauren Sumner’s FB.


Victoria Jessop sadly had two rails down today, but she is still thrilled with her wonderful little horse Desert Mystery! They had a great Fair Hill, scoring 41.3 on the flat and only adding 8 penalties in show jumping. They finished up in 7th place, and are seen here with coach and cheerleader Allison Springer.

Photo courtesy of Barry Tomason.

Photo via AE Wagner’s FB.


Cooley Cross Border enjoyed a nice move up the leaderboard today, finishing his first CCI2* in second place with Kim Severson in the irons. Cross finished on his dressage score of 43.6 and now he gets to go home and eat and sleep and rest for a good long while (his favorite things!). Congrats to Kim on bringing along this amazing young horse.

Photo via Kim Severson Eventing FB.

Photo via Kim Severson Eventing FB.


Tamie Smith came out on top with Twizted Syster, placing fifth and winning the unofficial “Highest Placed West Coast Rider” award. This little feisty mare impressed us all this weekend, finishing on a 48.7 and looking like she could run another cross country course today.

Photo via Heather Morris's FB.

Photo via Heather Morris’s FB.


A few weeks ago, we featured Ashley Kehoe and her exciting young mare D.A. Vittoria as they aimed for Fair Hill, and now we can report that they successfully finished the challenging course, finishing in 53rd place with a clear cross country plus time and a double clear stadium today. Now Princess V has to buckle down on that dressage …

Photo courtesy of Tara Katherine and Kelsey Cole.

Photo courtesy of Tara Katherine and Kelsey Cole.


Caroline Martin had a great weekend, finishing as the top young rider on Pebbly Maximus in the CCI2* in 32nd place and capping that off with a sixth place in the CCI3* on Quantum Solace. Here she is hanging out with Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude, who finished in 39th place with two rails today.

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Photo via USEF High Performance FB.


Libby Head and Sir Rockstar continue to have an awesome time together, and had a really beautiful show jumping round … until the second to last where they had just a little miscommunication. But no worries! Rocky has got it all under control! His little 15.3 hand Thoroughbred self just popped an extra two feet in the air, just to be sure. Check out Jenni’s video below.


Phillip Dutton had a somewhat quiet weekend, running below the radar the whole time. He had three horses in the CCI2*, all of them owned by a very pregnant Kristin Bond. I’m Sew Ready finished in 13th place and Get Ready finished in 18th place.


Alex Ahearn and Mai Bum completed their first CCI2* this weekend and won Best Presentation to cap it off! From proud coach Tamie Smith, “So proud of Alex Ahearn & Mai Baum completing their first CCI 2* at Fair Hill International. They received Best Presentation overall and deserved every bit if it!! This pair has a bright future!!!”

Photo via Ellen Ahearn's FB.

Photo via Ellen Ahearn’s FB.


Lynn Symansky took Osborne 9 and turned him into a star, and it showed this weekend! Ozzy completed his first CCI2* in 10th place and now gets some time off. From Lynn, “Good job Ozzy…clearly pleased with yourself today! Black beauty stepped up to the plate all weekend, ending in the top 10 out of 110 starters in the CCI2* at a challenging Fair Hill International. Very excited for this goober’s future. And for his vacation!”

Photo via Lynn Symansky's FB.

Photo via Lynn Symansky’s FB.


Looks like Chloe’s intense sleeping last night really paid off! Allison Springer celebrated her birthday this weekend and has much more to celebrate now that she and Copycat Chloe can say that they finished in third place in the Fair Hill CCI3*! So thrilled to see that this pair is finally combining their talent and showing off on the FEI scene.

Photo via Allison Springer Eventing FB.

Photo via Allison Springer Eventing FB.


Ellie MacPhail must be thrilled today as well, she and RF Eloquence finished in 11th place at their very first CCI3* together. “Pony Genius” indeed!

Photo via Ellie MacPhail's FB.

Photo via Ellie MacPhail’s FB.


Sally Cousins has that smile on her face because she and Tsunami finished in 12th place in the CCI3*, adding just one time penalty today in the show jumping. Way to go Sally and Sue!

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.


Of course, let’s not forget the $3,000 PRO Bareback Challenge! Waylon Roberts pulled off the win on Fair Fiona, followed closely by Lainey Ashker and Jolly Good Sport.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Until next year, Fair Hill!

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB. 

Grit, Determination and a Little Luck: Cross Country Day at Fair Hill

Kelly Prather and True Wiley. Photo via Nupafeed FB.

Kelly Prather and True Wiley. Photo via Nupafeed FB.

As is somewhat standard at Fair Hill, today encompassed all of the possible human emotions. From sun-up this morning, there have been horses and riders experiencing everything from elation and adoration to positively gut wrenching disappointment. There are stories of triumph, and tales of woe, and just about everything in between.

Something must be seriously wrong with us, as we keep coming back to this sport, but cross country day is what defines us, and the high is so great that we continually return even after days when we’ve been kicked in the pants. Let’s check out some of the stories from today.

#FHI: WebsiteRide TimesLive ScoresYEH ScoresScheduleEN’s CoverageVideosEN’s Instagram@eventingnation


Tamie Smith had a helluva ride today on Twizted Syster, cracking around that CCI2* course like nobody’s business. From Tamie: “A year ago when Chloe came to my barn to be sold, it never occurred to me that she would one day be mine. I’m so grateful to Heather, Mike, and the Team Express Group for making it possible to be the one riding her and also so appreciative in my team that made it possible for me to acquire her and is now owned by The Twizted Systers.

“Thank you to all of you who support me and my dream and have always been there through all of the ups and downs of this crazy sport we love. Chloe truly is a horse I want to be sitting on for cross country and I’m so proud of how well she handled a tough course today! Thank you to everyone for making today possible. Now to rest up for a very big day tomorrow.”

Heather Morris and Tamie Smith sharing some serious love after cross country. Photo via Tamie Smith's FB.

Heather Morris and Tamie Smith sharing some serious love after cross country. Photo via Tamie Smith’s FB.

Heather Morris passing some love to Twizted Syster while she hangs out in her ice boots. Photo via Heather Morris' FB.

Heather Morris passing some love to Twizted Syster while she hangs out in her ice boots. Photo via Heather Morris’ FB.


You know what, teamwork DOES make the dream work. You’re right, Leslie! Here’s to Jon Holling, who has TWO horses in the top 10 after cross country in the CCI3* — a badass achievement!


It was all smiles at the finish line for these girls today, with current CCI2* leader Victoria Jessop riding Desert Mystery in a flawless fashion to finish with no jumping or time penalties at all. Coach 2013 CCI3* champion Jan Byyny was there to give her a big hug at the end!

Photo via AE Wagner's FB.

Photo via AE Wagner’s FB.


My question is … who took out the clump of brush from the top of the keyhole with their noggin? Who was jumping that high? Don’t you know you’re supposed to duck going through a big old brush keyhole? Also, congrats to Liz Riley and Tom for finishing their first CCI3* together, with clear jumping and 30 time penalties; they sit in 35th place for tomorrow.


Jennie Brannigan and Ping KILLED IT today, slaying all their bad luck demons for cross country and moving nicely into second place with only 1.2 time penalties.

From Jennie: “I have so many people to thank, and I know I’ll miss many so thank you to everyone who has stood behind me on this roller coaster … I’m just beyond proud and relived to have two such class athletes to ride. Cambalda finally had his day and Henry was unreal … I look forward to the future but to my friends who have been there through the ups and downs … Thank you. I wouldn’t be anywhere without you.”


Ellie MacPhail and RF Eloquence jumped around their first CCI3* together, adding only 13.2 time penalties. From Ellie: “Pony genius lived up to his name!! I love this horse! Clear around our first CCI3* and in 12th heading into show jumping tomorrow!!”

Photo via Ellie MacPhail's FB.

Photo via Ellie MacPhail’s FB.


Hallie Coon also joined the ranks of newly minted CCI3* riders today, as she and Namaste’ (aka, Yogi) took on the Fair Hill challenge and rose to the occasion, finishing with 29.2 time penalties for 32nd place going into show jumping.

Photo via Hallie Coon's FB.

Photo via Hallie Coon’s FB.


Matt Brown suffered disappointment in the CCI2* when leader after dressage Happenstance had a run out, but he kicked himself into gear to ride Super Socks BCF to a clear round in his first CCI3*. They finished with 23.6 time penalties and go into 22nd place before show jumping.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.


You ever see this guy out on cross country? He’s almost always wearing hunter green and is definitely accompanied by one or two black labs at all times. I hear that he does some sort of Rolex preview article every year? Not sure …

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.


Kendal Lehari and Totally Frank were having an awesome round in the CCI3* until she pulled him up late in the course between fences 21 and 22. She reports that he just felt a little off, and that they are both happy and resting now. We are all crossing our fingers for a good diagnosis for Frank!

Kendal


Defending CCI2* champion Allie Sacksen has good reason for the smile on her face, as she and Sparrow’s Nio finished their first CCI3* with no jumping penalties and just 10.4 time. That puts them in 19th place before show jumping.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.


Everyone’s favorite little chestnut pony mare cruised around her first CCI2* with 17.6 time, which puts her in 45th place in that division.


Look at that face! Cooley Cross Border jumped his heart out today and galloped more than he’s ever galloped! He and Kim Severson finished the CCI2* course with a double clear round and have slotted nicely into third place for tomorrow.

Photo via Kim Severson Eventing FB.

Photo via Kim Severson Eventing FB.

Riders Look Forward To Cross Country: A Dressage Social Media Recap

Sinead Halpin on Forrest Nymph and Lynn Symansky on Osbourne 9. Photo via Sinead's FB.

Sinead Halpin on Forrest Nymph and Lynn Symansky on Osborne 9. Photo via Sinead’s FB.

Dressage is officially over! While I don’t think any phase of a CCI is necessarily “easy,” I will go ahead and say that the most challenging phase is upon us now, as cross country looms tomorrow. Derek diGrazia’s course is nothing if not big, impressive and tough as hell.

International riders continue to insist that Fair Hill CCI3* is the toughest three-star in the world, and they might well be right. The CCI2* kicks things off tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. EST sharp, with that enormous division running all the way until 1:15 p.m. The CCI3* will tentatively begin at 1:45 p.m.

#FHI: WebsiteRide TimesLive ScoresYEH ScoresScheduleEN’s CoverageVideosEN’s Instagram@eventingnation


The Canadian contingent has come up with a new idea on how to properly walk courses … and I think I like it! Check out Holly Jacks-Smither and Waylon Roberts “walking” the CCI2* course together.

Photo via Kendal Lehari's FB.

Photo via Kendal Lehari’s FB.


Will Coleman and Vagabon de Champdoux triumphed in the 5-year-old USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships with a final score of 81.5. The jumping phases concluded today, and Will pulled off the win over Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Jungle ROC, who finished on a score of 81.2. 

Photo via Katie Thornton's FB.

Photo via Katie Thornton’s FB.


Matt Brown and Happenstance held onto their overnight lead in the CCI2*, and Hap seems to be enjoying the East Coast grass quite a bit! He’s gearing up for his second CCI2* cross country tomorrow by chowing down tonight.

Photo via Alicia Sparks' FB.

Photo via Alicia Sparks’ FB.


Did I mention that the cross country course is pretty intense? Here’s a water combination on the CCI2* course.

Photo via Kim Walsh's FB.

Photo via Kim Walsh’s FB.


Buck Davidson and The Apprentice rocked it today and clearly made the right call staying in the States for this competition.


Lynn Symansky and Al Quanbeck’s Osborne 9 scored a 41.8 today to sit in 3rd out of 110 horses in the massive CCI2* at Fair Hill International. They go cross-country tomorrow at 11:11 a.m. 

Photo via Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.

Photo via Lynn Symansky Equestrian FB.


OBOS O’Reilly made a good comeback from his meltdown at Plantation to score a 48.2 in the CCI3* today. They sit in 7th place overnight. In the meantime, he’s entertaining himself with clods of dirt and grass from the stable floor!

Photo via Maggie Deatrick's FB.

Photo via Maggie Deatrick’s FB.


The ever gorgeous Viola is rocking this beautiful Swedish bridle; how handsome is it? Viola and Erin Freedman are in the CCI2* this weekend, and finished the dressage on a 53.1, sitting them in 40th place overnight.

Photo via Erin Freedman's FB.

Photo via Erin Freedman’s FB.


In closing, I want to share this photo with you, because it just about sums up how the riders will feel as they leave the start box. They might be sleepless tonight and queasy tomorrow morning, but I know for myself that all changes when I leave the start box. Good luck to everyone tomorrow!

Photo shared by Holling Eventing FB.

Photo shared by Holling Eventing FB.

A Muddy Thursday Afternoon Social Media Roundup

Fair Hill Mud Wrestling, anyone? Photo via Ashley Kehoe's FB.

Fair Hill Mud Wrestling, anyone? Photo via Ashley Kehoe’s FB.

Well it wouldn’t be Fair Hill without a godawful amount little mud, would it now? Social media was abuzz today, not just with the dressage results, but with pictures of the slop, the muck, the foot deep goo and the wry smiles that accompanied it. Sorry, folks from California, this wasn’t the way we wanted to greet you … but you did sign up for Fair Hill, so you should know that this is par for the course!

#FHI: WebsiteRide TimesLive ScoresYEH ScoresScheduleEN’s CoverageEN’s Instagram@eventingnation


It’s not just the FEI divisions that are star studded this weekend! Check out this famous old campaigner, still enjoying the work with young horses! From USEF High Performance: “USEF Selector Bruce Davidson and Sherrie Martin and Carl Segal’s 5-year-old Top Gun compete in the USEA Young Event Horse championship at Fair Hill International.”

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.


Maddie Parisan smoked the NAJYRC CCI2* course this year, only to withdraw before show jumping. She and “Carson” have recovered, and rerouted to Fair Hill to compete in the CCI2* for their first time here.

Photo via Kim Walsh's FB.

Photo via Kim Walsh’s FB.


Uh oh … the blondes are on course! These girls are all going to rock it on Saturday, as each one of them takes on the CCI3* course.

Avery Klunick, Mackenna Shea, Jimmie Schramm and Caitlin Silliman. Photo via Jimmie's FB.

Avery Klunick, Mackenna Shea, Jimmie Schramm and Caitlin Silliman. Photo via Jimmie’s FB.


Hold up, we need to take another moment to talk about the cross country fences at Le Lion d’Angers this weekend. I know I did this yesterday, but they are so cool! I just can’t get over it.

Photo via Tapner Eventing FB.

Photo via Tapner Eventing FB.

Photo via Tapner Eventing FB.

Photo via Tapner Eventing FB.


More on the cross country jumps here….are these people actually hobbits? Or is that jump THAT huge??


Meanwhile … back at Fair Hill International …

Photo from Plain Dealing Farm Eventing FB.

Photo from Plain Dealing Farm Eventing FB.


When it’s that muddy outside, you have to get a little creative with carrying stuff around. As a groom, your main job is carrying stuff, which is made difficult by the sucking quality to the mud at Fair Hill. I give Mattie props for taking the bike out in that muck, because that can be seriously dangerous too! Kim Severson’s super groom Mattie Kelley battles the weather, with full ingenuity credit to Lucia Strini :)

Photo via Plain Dealing Eventing FB.

Photo via Plain Dealing Eventing FB.


EN’s own Maggie Deatrick killed it in the dressage today, scoring her personal best with a 52.2! They are currently sitting in 15th place overnight in that enormous CCI2* division. “Dante” is enjoying his success in the best way he knows how, with a good old roll in the grass!

Photo via Brigitte Aickelin's FB.

Photo via Brigitte Aickelin’s FB.


What does it feel like to score a 44.7 in the CCI2* at Fair Hill? A little something like this…

Tamie Smith & Twizted Syster, plus adoring fans. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tamie Smith & Twizted Syster, plus adoring fans. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Everyone loves a funny face! Alex Ahearn and Mai Baum. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Everyone loves a funny face! Alex Ahearn and Mai Baum. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dressage day one! The CCI2* starts bright and early tomorrow at 8 a.m. and eight of the CCI3* competitors ride later in the afternoon, starting with Boyd Martin & Steady Eddie at 4:15 p.m. I’ve seen several photos of rain deluging down on the stabling, which is only to be expected to be honest. Jenni will be there feverishly taking photos and videos and updating us all day long, so you can enjoy the action without the cold and the rain! The internet truly is a wonderful place.

North American Weekend Preview:

Fair Hill International CCI  [Website] [Ride Times] [Schedule] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Instagram] [@eventingnation] [Live Scores] [YEH Live Scores]

The Event at Kelly’s Ford H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

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

Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event & Team Challenge CCI & H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Grass Ridge H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Goulburn NSW (AUS) CCI1/2/3*, CIC1/2/3* [Website] [6-Year-Old Scores] [7-Year-Old Scores]

Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) CCI1/2* [Website]

Colina SP (BRA) CIC2/3*

Cuballing WA (AUS) CIC1/2/3*

News From Around The Globe:

Morven Park is not only hosting several clinic this winter, but they are gearing up for a series of winter equine seminars. If you’re in the area, you might want to check out the following: Equine Nutrition for the “Easy Keeper” versus the “Hard Keeper”, a Health Series on Colic, Ulcers and Choke, and finally a seminar on Sport Horse Nutrition. Most of the seminars are free, but require prior registration. [Morven Park Equestrian Calendar]

Interested in riding with five-time Olympian Karen O’Connor? If you’re near Tryon, North Carolina, on November 1-2, you might be able to participate in her clinic! Riders should fill out an application, and auditors are welcome for both days, as well as the dinner on Saturday night. [Karen O'Connor Clinic in Tryon]

Harry Meade won the hearts of the eventing world with his comeback following two exploded elbows last fall, and his heartbreaking end the the WEG had us all rooting for him. Harry’s wonderful 4* horse Wild Lone took him to an unbelievable comeback at Badminton, placing third and cementing his spot on the British WEG team. After they dominated an incredibly challenging cross country course, Wild Lone collapsed and died in the vet box. Now, looking forward to Rio, Harry is without a horse, and searching for hope for the future. [Two Exploded Elbows And No Horse]

What makes watching horses competing a visceral experience? How about the sound? Dennis Baxter is THE sound man, in fact the one that famously brought you the sound of arrows whizzing through the air by placing microphones between the archers and the targets. He did the sound for the video coverage of the 2012 Olympic games, and says that the key is putting microphones on the jumps so that you can hear everything. You can hear the riders speak to their horses, hear them tick the poles, and hear them hold their breath over a fence. [A Very Cool Article On The Sound of Horses]

And this is why we have protective boots! (Warning: not for the squeamish)

 

logo_600x100 SmartPak

Horses and Riders Posing In Fancy Dress: A Social Media Collective of Jogs

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

UGH can’t wait!! Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Number one unsurprising fact of Fair Hill week? It’s already raining! At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Mother Nature has a look at the USEA calendar every year, and schedules about 5-10 days of straight up rain the accompany Fair Hill International. While the jogs were more than a little eventful, and some hopes were dashed in the fashion department, everybody looked very dapper. The anticipation for the start of the weekend is palpable!

#FHI: WebsiteRide TimesScheduleEN’s CoverageEN’s Instagram@eventingnation


 

West coast riders are taking over!! Here we have Cecily Brown, Super Socks BCF, Matt Brown, In It To Win It, Avery Klunick and Shannon Klunick. Also, I know Matt Brown’s ensemble looks lavender in it’s entirety, but it’s just a trick of the light. Only the tie is purple!

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.

Photo via USEF High Performance FB.


 

Jimmie Schramm from Evention is competing her own TB gelding Bellamy in the CCI3*. They look a little chilly, but very happy! Bellamy was accepted and competes on Friday at 11:30 a.m. From Jimmie: “Fantastic jog day! Missed the rain and Bellamy was a good boy! First phase complete!!!”

Photo via Jimmie Schramm's FB.

Photo via Jimmie Schramm’s FB.


Kurt Martin has Anna Bella in the CCI3* this weekend, and Deluxe Z in the CCI2*. Here he is posing with his best lady (Anna Bella, obviously!) and James Daniel, aka Devoucoux rep to the stars. Anna Bella goes at 1:52 p.m. on Friday.

Photo via Kurt Martin Eventing FB.

Photo via Kurt Martin Eventing FB.


Lauren Ferguson is competing her very white horse Mainways Dry Ice, or “Dice”, in their first CCI3* this weekend. From her groom Jackie: “Such a privilege to be grooming for such and an amazing pair, and to make it even better, at the end of dices jog out, the announcer said “and this is the cleanest horse in the event”, glad someone recognizes my hard work getting an all white horse clean in the mud :)”

Mainways Dry Ice & groom Jackie LeMastus. Photo via Jackie LeMastus' FB.

Mainways Dry Ice & groom Jackie LeMastus. Photo via Jackie LeMastus’ FB.


For anybody who isn’t familiar with Fair Hill and it’s funny little quirks, here’s a classic. You have to walk yourself and your horse through a metal tunnel….under a road that has cars driving on it. Every day! In order to get from the stabling to the competition area, your horse has to brave the “tunnel of death” as many horse calls it. Plain Dealing Farm’s “Colin” is getting used to it now, ready for his first CCI2* with Lucia Strini in the irons.

Photo via Plain Dealing Farm FB.

Photo via Plain Dealing Farm FB.


While we are all over here getting rained on at Fair Hill, Le Lion d’Angers young horse championships are going on in France. Can we just talk about how freakin’ awesome these cross country jumps are?? Woah, man, I totally want to jump a musical instrument like that!

Photo via Simon Grieve's FB.

Photo via Simon Grieve’s FB.

Photo via Simon Grieve's FB.

Photo via Simon Grieve’s FB.


 

Allie Knowles has two rides this weekend, The Dark Mark in the CCI2* and Sound Prospect in the CCI3*. Here she is with The Dark Mark sharing a moment of silliness before the jogs. They compete tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.

Photo via Jennifer Smith's FB.

Photo via Jennifer Smith’s FB.


 

Everyone is getting a little bit of last minute schooling in before dressage begins, and Jon Holling is no different. He’s getting tips from a gold medalist! Leslie Law explains the finer points of dressage to Jon and Zatopek B yesterday before all the rain.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.


 

Fashion statements aren’t just for riders and their only set of non-riding clothes fancy outfits, but also for horses. Pimp your bling!

Bug likes his pirate brow band. Photo via Jessica Bortner-Harris' FB.

Bug likes his pirate brow band. Photo via Jessica Bortner-Harris’ FB.


 

Did I mention the tunnel of death? Yeah, hope your horse isn’t incredibly tall, because you are going to be ducking a lot!

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

Photo via Fair Hill International FB.

 

 

Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI3* Preview: Part Two

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It, Richland CIC3*. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It, Richland CIC3*. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI2* and CCI3* is officially here, with jogs beginning today, followed by two days of dressage to get everyone started. Jenni will be on task all week, and even there for the jogs tomorrow at noon sharp, taking pictures and keeping us up to date with all the happenings. The field in the CCI2* is huge, and the CCI3* is nothing to scoff at either. Yesterday I previewed the first half of the competitors, and today we continue with the second half listed in order of go.

Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Links: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Preview Part One]

Click here to see the preview on the first half of the CCI3* field.

Allie Knowles & Sound Prospect: Allie got the ride on this horse last fall, and they completed the CCI2* here in 28th place. They moved up to the Advanced level this spring and have gotten quite a few miles at the three-star level, although their only clean cross country trip was at Jersey Fresh in the CIC3*. They completed Bromont CCI3* in 14th place, scoring a 59.8 on the flat, incurring a stop and 8.8 time on cross country, and jumping double clear on Sunday. While there is no doubt that they both have talent, they struggle with clear rounds on cross country and will be happy to cross the finish line.

Werner Geven & Vandiver: This is Werner’s second ride in this division and so will hopefully benefit from his stablemate’s experience around the course prior to his round on Saturday, as well as their own previous experience here last year. They were 24th here last year, scoring a 66.2 on the flat, incurring two stops and 41.2 time on cross country, and pulling one rail in stadium. Hopefully another year of experience will help them improve upon that performance.

Avery Klunick & In It To Win It: Now famous from their epic save at the AECs, Avery and Winston are part of the West Coast takeover here at Fair Hill this weekend. They came east in the summer to compete at Bromont CCI3*, where they finished in 21st place, scoring a 64.8 on the flat, running a clear cross country round with 19.6 time and unfortunately adding five rails to that on Sunday. As their second CCI3* together, they’ll be looking to lower that final score a little bit, but I have no doubt that they’ll get around.

Rachel McDonough & Irish Rhythm: Yet another Canadian in our midst, Rachel and Oli will be competing in their second Fair Hill International CCI3*, as they finished 13th here last year with a 64.8 on the flat followed by only two time penalties on cross country, and only one rail on Sunday. They also completed Rolex this spring with a 67.8 on the flat and just four rails to add to that score overall.

Holly Payne & Never OutFoxed. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Holly Payne & Never OutFoxed. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Emily Rusinyak & Reatta HW: A young rider in this division, Emily and Reatta competed in this year’s NAJYRC CCI2*, finishing in 7th place with a 60.6 on the flat, 2.4 time on cross country and three rails on the final day. This will be their first CCI3*, as they just moved up to the Advanced level this year, completing three Advanced horse trials and achieving their qualifying CIC3* result at Poplar just a few weeks ago. They don’t have the quality in the first phase yet, but the mare has an almost flawless cross country record, and they will be happy to have conquered the course together.

Jimmie Schramm & Bellamy: Jimmie will tell you that Fair Hill is her “nemesis event,” but if you see her, tell her that it’s all in her head! They were 13th together this spring at their first CCI3* at Bromont, scoring a 55.2 on the flat, adding 26.4 time penalties on cross country and just one rail on Sunday. Their dressage has been getting steadily better and better, with scores consistently in the mid 50s, which will serve them well. They have a very good cross country record, minus a blip at Plantation at the double corners, and Bellamy is very careful over show jumps. Jimmie has to get out there and git ‘er done on Saturday and forget that she thinks FHI is cursed.

Sally Cousins & Tsunami III: Our resident weekly tips guru is out competing this weekend on her very experienced OTTB mare Sue, and they’ll be sure to get the job done. This will be Sue’s sixth CCI3*, including a 16th place here in 2011. They completed Rolex this spring with a 63 on the flat and only two rails to add, resulting in an 18th place at the end of the weekend. They won’t be competitive after dressage, but with their combined experience, they should be able to finish close to that score and climb up the leaderboard.

Holly Payne & Never OutFoxed: One of my personal favorites, Fox is a child prodigy at only the age of 8, here competing in his second CCI3*. They were 12th this spring at Bromont CCI3* with a dressage score of 66, double clear cross country and three rails on Sunday. Fox can get, shall we say, a little wound up for the first phase, but he and Holly are a thing to marvel at on cross country, and he’s usually a very careful jumper. The atmosphere at FHI might be a little much for him, but this young horse has a lot more to offer in the future and will be getting some good miles here this weekend.

Hallie Coon & Namaste’: Hallie and Yogi are competing in their first CCI3* this weekend, having completed two CIC3* competitions this spring since moving up to the level. They were recently 5th at Poplar CIC3*, scoring a 58.6 on the flat, and adding 28 time penalties on cross country as well as two rails in show jumping. Those jumping penalties were uncharacteristic, however, as Yogi is an incredibly careful jumper and usually much quicker in the second phase. A finishing score in the 60s or 70s is well within their reach.

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar at Fair Hill CCI3* in 2013. Photo by Alec Thayer.

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar at Fair Hill CCI3* in 2013. Photo by Alec Thayer.

Boyd Martin & Master Frisky: This is Boyd’s third ride in the division, and this horse’s first CCI3* attempt, as well as only his fourth FEI competition ever. They were 5th last year here in the CCI2*, with a 46.9 on the flat and only 2.8 time penalties added, and have since then moved up to the Advanced level. They achieved their qualifying score at Plantation CIC3* recently, with a 55.8 in dressage, 16 time penalties on cross country, as well as two rails and four time penalties in stadium. This young horse will surely benefit from Boyd’s experience and two previous rides as he tackles this big course.

Buck Davidson & Wiley Post: I’ve learned the hard way to never discount Buck, even on the most unlikely of mounts. Max has been competing at the Intermediate level for a number of years, and successfully made the move up to Advanced this year. However, he has only completed one CIC3* at Chattahoochee Hills in the spring, and he incurred a stop on cross country there. His cross country record lacks consistency, but with Buck, you never know when he’ll pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Liz Riley & It’s The Truth: Liz has just made the decision to enter into this game as a professional, and Fair Hill will be a big test for her, with two horses in the CCI2* and one in the CCI3*. Tom is a very generous horse, and while he lacks some of the sparkle of other horses, he is a good campaigner with the capability to get around this big course. They were 21st here in 2012 in the CCI2*, and recently 19th in the CIC3* at Plantation, scoring a 60.3 on the flat, going clear on cross country with 8 time penalties and pulling two rails in stadium.

Ashley Leith & Tactical Maneuver: This pair moved up to the Advanced level this spring at Carolina International and just gained their qualifying CIC3* result at Morven Park two weeks ago. They scored a 61.2 in dressage there, had three rails over the tough show jumping course and 30.4 time penalties on cross country. This will be their first CCI3* together and certainly a challenge for this young horse.

Libby Head & Sir Rockstar: Everyone’s favorite rags to riches glory tale is Libby and Rocky, who is quite possibly the smallest horse in the field but will no doubt smoke the course with ease. They were 12th here last year with a 60 in the dressage, clear cross country with 0.4 time penalties and two rails on Sunday. They cruised around Rolex this spring with a 63.8 on the flat and just 7.6 cross country time penalties added. Rocky can be opinionated in the dressage, but he can darn well finish on that score, and that goes a long way at an event like this.

Kurt Martin and Anna Bella at The Fork CIC3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kurt Martin and Anna Bella at The Fork CIC3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lisa Barry & F.I.S. Prince Charming: Lisa and Peanut have been competing at the Advanced level since early 2013 and finally got to their first CCI3* this summer at Bromont, where they were second. They scored a 60.4 on the flat and went clear with 2.4 time on cross country, finishing the weekend with a double clear show jumping round. They won’t be competitive after the first phase, but they are another pair that is fully capable of finishing right near that initial score, and that can sneak them right up the leaderboard.

Ellie MacPhail & RF Eloquence: Ellie and Bob are another pair that are looking for their first CCI3* completion, having just moved up to the Advanced level this fall at Chattahoochee Hills. They won their Advanced debut, as well as their CIC3* debut at Poplar in September, and cantered around Morven two weeks ago in the Advanced. However, Fair Hill is a whole ‘nother can of worms, and this will be an entirely new challenge for this relatively inexperienced pair. They scored a 46.7 in dressage at Poplar CIC3* and added only 17.8 time penalties to that score to take home the win.

Caroline Martin & Quantum Solace: Caroline and Nacho won last year’s NAJYRC CCI2* with a score of 52.2 after all three phases and have been performing consistently well at the Advanced and three-star level for some time now. They were 5th at their first CCI3* this spring at Jersey Fresh, scoring a 56.2 on the flat, and adding only 8 time on cross country and 4 time in show jumping to that score. Nacho’s dressage can sometimes let him down, but his jumping and enthusiasm for cross country is unmatched, and they have the potential to sneak up the leaderboard this weekend.

Kurt Martin & Anna Bella: Kurt and Anna are one that have the potential to play spoiler here this weekend. They won the Fair Hill CIC3* this spring ending on their best dressage test to date, a 46.5, so we know that she likes the grounds already. They haven’t quite found that brilliance again on the flat, but she’s a jumping machine who rarely incurs any penalties in either phase. They were recently 14th at Plantation CIC3* with a 59.4 in dressage and just 14.8 time penalties added.

Katy Groesbeck & Oz The Tin Man: Another West Coast transplant, Oz has the distinction of being the oldest horse in the division, rocking along at the age of 17. They had some very good success on the West Coast before coming here to FHI last fall to conquer their first CCI3*, but were sadly eliminated on the cross country, and so they have some unfinished business here. Katy has been working with Buck Davidson and has been blogging about her learning curve on the Chronicle this year, and I think she’s ready for a second attack on Fair Hill. They were 6th at Bromont this summer with a 50.4 on the flat, 8.8 time penalties on cross country and two rails on Sunday.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Colleen Rutledge & Covert Rights: Colleen and CR led the Morven Park CIC3* from start to finish in a commanding fashion, scoring a 45 on the flat, rolling one rail in stadium and blazing around the cross country to garner only 9.4 time penalties. This will be CR’s first CCI3* competition, but at the young age of 8, he’s already way ahead of many of his competitors.

Matt Brown & Super Socks BCF: Fair Hill is being positively overtaken by West Coasters this year, and Matt Brown is certainly one of the biggest threats to the top prize with Flaxen. This 8-year-old Irish gelding has had great success this year, including a win at Rebecca Farm CIC3* this summer, where they scored a 47.3 on the flat and added only 7.2 time penalties on cross country to take home the win. They consistently score in the mid to high 40s, with an occasional low 50s dressage penalty, and have a very good jumping record, with no stops at the FEI levels. If they can adjust for the terrain and likely bad footing at the end of the division, there will be no stopping this pair.

Jon Holling & Zatopek B: Jon and Zak have a lot of potential, but unfortunately have been caught out by some bad luck on cross country at the FEI level this year. They recently rocked around the AEC Advanced course to finish in fourth place, but their only clear run at the three-star level this year was The Fork in April. They were 11th here last year with a 57.8 on the flat, clear cross country with 6.4 time and just one rail on the final day. Zak went to Rolex in the spring and seemed to come undone on the cross country, and it’s high time they got their mojo back, hopefully at Fair Hill this weekend.

Buck Davidson & Petite Flower: Buck and Flower are coming off a strong win at the AECs just a few weeks ago, but they are very much hot or cold at the FEI level. Last year they came to this event and retired on cross country, only to re-route to Galway CCI3* and win the whole dang thing. They haven’t notched a clean FEI round this year yet and withdrew after cross country at Jersey Fresh this spring, where they had two stops on course. This little mare can be either super competitive and in the hunt for the win or positively off the board with a bad cross country round, and it’s really a toss up which is more likely.

Boyd Martin & Pancho Villa. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd Martin & Pancho Villa. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Philippa Humphreys & Sir Donovan: Philippa Humphreys is doing a very ambitious thing this weekend, competing at her first CCI3* with two horses. Luckily, she has Don to show her the way, as he’s completed six CCI3* competitions before, including FHI in 2009, 2010 and 2012. They were recently 31st together at Plantation CIC3*, with a 62.7 in dressage, 21.2 cross country time penalties and just 7 time penalties in show jumping.

Amanda Wilson & Cool Decision: Amanda and Cody attempted their first CCI3* this time last year at Fair Hill, but unfortunately retired on cross country after scoring 67.6 on the flat. They opted to get some more miles at the Advanced and CIC3* level this year before returning for redemption and are hoping to finally conquer this big bad course. They were recently 41st at Plantation CIC3* with a 65.1 in dressage, six rails and five time in stadium, and a clear cross country with 15.2 time penalties.

Boyd Martin & Pancho Villa: Boyd started the division, and he wraps it up too with his fourth and final ride. Pancho was leading the CCI2* last year with a beautiful 41.4 after dressage only to have two stops on cross country, dashing his hopes of a win. He’s run a handful of Advanced horse trials this year, moving up this summer at Horse Park of NJ. They achieved their qualifying result at Plantation CIC3*, finishing in 20th place with a 56.7 on the flat, 16.4 time penalties on cross country and just one rail in the stadium.

Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Don’t Lose the Event in Warmup

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:

One of my favorite quotes is from Stephen Bradley: “If you didn’t bring it with you, you will not find it here.” We were talking about how prepared different horses were at an event. All horses have strengths and weaknesses, and it is our jobs as riders and trainers to fill in the gaps in their training.
Some horses don’t have a good lengthening, or can have some rails or may not be ready to make the time cross country. These are not training problems that would keep me from taking a horse to the competition. I would not take a horse that is fundamentally missing big parts of its training or doesn’t have the experience to safely complete the event.
I do try to be careful not to lose the event in the warm up. It is easy to see other riders warming up on impressive movers and be tempted to ask more of our horses than they are ready to give either physically or mentally. It will only upset our horses to try to do something at the event we can’t do at home. We need to have a careful plan for our warm up that brings out the best of our horse’s current training.
This also applies to show jumping warm up. I am careful not to jump too many fences or jump higher than necessary to prepare my horse for whatever level I’m competing. It is important not to jump more or higher than your horse needs to get the best out of it in the ring.
I have seen horses jump much higher in the warm up than the height that they are jumping in the competition, and some go into the ring a bit discouraged or scared. I know that some horses need more jumps or bigger fences to produce a good round, but it’s important to just know what best prepares your horse and stick with the plan.

Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI3* Preview: Part One

Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie at Millbrook. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie at Millbrook. Photo by Jenni Autry.

As is tradition here at EN, we’re taking a comprehensive look at the competitors entered in what many consider the most challenging CCI3* in the United States. Fair Hill International is something of a rite of passage for eventers in North America, and rightfully so.

The field of horses and riders is always strong, and the course is always huge, and usually there is a decent amount of mud to battle throughout the weekend. Without further ado, let’s look at the competitors, who I’ve listed in order of draw, because that is definitely part of the equation at this event.

Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Links: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule]

Boyd Martin & Steady Eddie: Poor Eddie has the distinction of being the horse that accompanied Boyd as he broke his leg this spring at Carolina International on the infamous Stonehenge corner jump. However, it has not tarnished his reputation, and he’s been developing at the Advanced level in a lovely way all year. They were 11th together last year here in the CCI2*, and most recently placed 9th at the competitive Plantation Field CIC3*, adding only 13.2 time penalties to their respectable dressage score of 55.5. This will be Eddie’s first CCI3* and Boyd’s first of four rides for the division.

Buck Davidson & The Apprentice: Buck has only three rides in the CCI3*, and Dirk is his first one out. At only 10 years of age, Dirk already has three CCI3* completions under his belt, with a fifth place at Galway Downs in 2012, an eighth place there in 2013, and most recently a third at Jersey Fresh. At Jersey in the spring he scored a 47 on the flat and added only 4.4 time penalties to that score, and while I think the cross country here is more challenging and tiring, I expect Buck to produce a similar result with Dirk at Fair Hill.

Jon Holling & Proper Timing: Jon has two rides in this division, with this bay Thoroughbred gelding as his first. They did attempt their first CCI3* together here last year, but retired on course. They re-routed to Bromont in the spring with a few more CIC3* finishes under their belt and finished in 10th place, scoring a 52.4 on the flat, going clear with 8.8 time on cross country and pulling three rails on Sunday. They were most recently 6th at the AECs in the Advanced division, with just a rail and cross country time to add to their dressage score of 34.7.

Philippa Humphreys & Rich N Famous: This flashy pinto gelding will surely catch your eye as he and Philippa both attempt their first CCI3* this weekend. This pair just moved up to the Advanced level this summer at Horse Park of N.J. and have completed four competitions at this level. Most recently, they finished in 39th place at the Plantation Field CIC3*, scoring a 58.8 on the flat, pulling three rails with 11 time in stadium, but going clear with 18.8 time on the final day for the cross country phase. They’ll be looking for a nice steady round to get them through their first attempt at the level.

Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek: Devon is an old pro at Fair Hill, having competed here three times in the past, including winning his debut at the tender age of 8 with Amy Tryon in the irons. However, Lizzie and Devon have some unfinished business here in Maryland, as they have been unlucky in their past two attempts in the CCI3*. They did complete Bromont this summer in good style, with a third place ribbon to show for their efforts. Lizzie scored a 56.8 in dressage there, and added just one rail and 4.6 time penalties to that score in Quebec, but she better have her most determined pants on here to get it done. Third time’s the charm, girl!

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Tim Bourke & Luckaun Quality: Obie is only 9 years old but already has a fair amount of experience at this level. No, he doesn’t love the dressage phase, and that’s coming along, but when I say that he loves both jumping phases, I mean he loves them. Last year, Tim and Obie were the only pair in the CCI3* to finish on their dressage score, which was 58.6 and good enough for 8th place at the end of the weekend. Their first phase will leave them somewhere in the middle to the end of the pack, but if they keep up the trend of adding nothing, they’ll be right back with a repeat top 10 performance.

Eliza Farren & Bantry Bays Dublin: Eliza and her Connemara-cross gelding return to Fair Hill to improve upon their performance from last year, where they finished in last place with 60 penalties on cross country. This pair consistently scores in the low 60s on the flat, but when they are on the same page can produce good jumping rounds. They were most recently 21st at Plantation Field CIC3* with a 62.1 on the flat, 11.4 time penalties on cross country and just a rail in stadium.

Lauren Kieffer & Lucky Devil: Lauren is piloting this handsome gelding around his second CCI3* for 2014 before rushing over to France to compete at Pau with Veronica, who is currently already in the country. They finished in 10th place this spring at Jersey Fresh in the CCI3*, but they accrued a stop on cross country, which marred the performance. They completed the Advanced at Richland Park this summer, finishing in third place, but that has been their only run at this level since Jersey.

Will Coleman & Obos O’Reilly: In 2013, Oboe and Will won the Bromont CCI3*, scoring 50.2 on the flat and adding only 8 cross country time penalties to that to take home the top prize. However, this will be Oboe’s return to the CCI level, as he was out much of last fall and this spring. They were recently 25th at Plantation Field CIC3*, with a 60.6 on the flat, 14.8 time penalties on cross country and a rail in stadium. I know they are both capable of better scores in the little white box.

Lauren Ferguson & Mainway’s Dry Ice: Lauren and Dice are one of the most inexperienced pairs here this weekend, entering their first CCI3* with just one Advanced and one CIC3* on their record. This will be their first effort at the level for both of them, and while the sophistication isn’t quite there on the flat yet, Lauren must be very confident in her horse’s jumping abilities to aim for the stars in Maryland and will be looking to complete happy and healthy.

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda at The Fork CIC3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda at The Fork CIC3*. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jennie Brannigan & Cambalda: Jennie and Ping are definitely one of the most formidable pairs at this level that we have here this weekend, and they have some unfinished business at Fair Hill International. Last year, they scored a 42.6 in the dressage only to have a runout at the second corner on a very influential combination on cross country. They went to Rolex this spring, and to be fair, jumped around the whole course, but unfortunately jumped the widest part of a corner and missed the flags, causing a technical elimination. Jennie just won the Advanced at Richland and Plantation, and I can guarantee you she’ll be riding corners smartly this weekend.

Boyd Martin & Crackerjack: Last year this pair competed in the CCI2*, finishing in sixth place with only 1.6 time penalties to add to their dressage score of 48.6. Now they are returning for the step up in class for Cracker’s first CCI3*. As Boyd’s second ride in the division, he will have the advantage of the knowledge that Boyd gains from piloting Steady Eddie around cross country earlier in the day, and they should pull off a good performance together. They were most recently 11th at Plantation Field CIC3* with a 53.7 on the flat and just 15.2 time penalties to add.

Werner Geven & Vilas County: Werner’s first ride of the division, this pair finished in 19th place here last year, with a 57.6 on the flat, 21.2 time penalties on cross country and three rails on Sunday. They’ve had steady performances this year at the CIC3* level, but their dressage score and tendency to pull a handful of rails on the last day will keep them out of the top placings.

Cody Sturgess & Imperial Melody: As one of our Canadian competitors, Cody and Melly have been competing at the Advanced level since 2013, but this is their first Fair Hill experience. They completed their first CCI3* this summer at Bromont, finishing in 11th place after scoring a 64.6 on the flat, going double clean on cross country, and pulling two rails with 9 time on the last day. The sophistication in the first phase isn’t quite there yet, but their record on cross country is pretty impeccable and should serve them well for this event.

Leah Lang-Gluscic & AP Prime: These two completed the Fair Hill CCI2* here last year, finishing in 19th place with a 62.2 on the flat and two rails to add to that score. They moved up to the Advanced level this spring and completed Bromont CCI3*, scoring a 73.8 in dressage, adding 14.8 time penalties on cross country and pulling three rails on Sunday. While the dressage isn’t quite competitive, they are capable of a good cross country round that would move them up in the final standings.

Kendal Lehari and Totally Frank, Richland CIC3*

Kendal Lehari and Totally Frank, Richland CIC3*. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Kevin Keane & Fernhill Flutter: I’m going to go ahead and say that this pair has the largest cheering section at every competition that I see them. Kevin and Flutter completed their first CCI4* this spring and are heading back in 2015! This will actually be their first CCI3* since Bromont in 2012, where they finished in third place. They were recently 15th at the Plantation CIC3* with a 57 on the flat and just 17.2 time penalties on cross country to add to that score.

Allison Springer & Copycat Chloe: Allison and Chloe both have all the talent in the world, but unfortunately this year hasn’t been going their way. They’ve struggled with consistency on the cross country course, racking up stops here and there. While they completed the dressage at Rolex, they retired early on course after a stop at the first water. They did complete Jersey CCI3* this spring, finishing in 9th place, but they had a stop on course there too. At Plantation Field recently they finally got into the same groove and finished with 14.8 time to add to their dressage score of 62.7. I hope Fair Hill is where they will finally come together and perform to their potential.

Holly Payne & Santino: Holly and Sonny are one of my favorite pairs, and they have been competing at the Advanced level since 2013, but through unlucky strikes and injuries to both parties, they are still seeking their first CCI3* competition as a pair. They have been having a little trouble on cross country this year, but I know that they are fully capable of three competitive phases, and I hope that all their bad luck goes away for this weekend.

Kendal Lehari & Totally Frank: Kendal and Frank are somewhat of a sleeper pair, as they tend to creep up the leaderboard after day one. Their dressage leaves them in the middle of the pack, as they usually score in the low 60s at this level. However, Frank is an unbelievable jumper and can finish on that initial score easily, which is how they placed seventh this spring at Bromont CCI3*.

Emily Beshear & Shame On The Moon: Emily has found a really great horse in this lovely grey mare, and although their partnership only began this year, it has promise for many good things to come. They consistently score in the low 40s on the flat, with a blip on that record at Plantation Field, where they scored a 54.9, with Delta looking fighting fit. The mare has no record of cross country penalties at any FEI level, but show jumping is certainly her weakness, with only one double clear in the past two years. This will be Delta’s first CCI3*, as she only just moved up to the Advanced level this summer at 8 years old.

Mackenna Shea and Landioso at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Mackenna Shea and Landioso at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Mackenna Shea & Landioso: After a mistake on cross country at her last prep event, Mackenna and Landi have re-routed from their original plan of traveling overseas for Boekelo to take on the equally big challenge of Fair Hill International. This West Coast stayed east after suffering a fall at Jersey Fresh and found redemption at Bromont. They consistently score in the mid-40s in the dressage, have never had more than 15 time penalties on cross country and usually jump clean in show jumping. The Fair Hill mud might be a new challenge for these two, as they definitely don’t make it like this in California.

Kyle Carter & Conahy’s Courage: This horse is amongst the least experienced of the field, having completed only two Advanced horse trials this year and one CIC3* at Poplar. Kyle will certainly be using all of his experience to give this horse a good go around this tough course. They don’t necessarily have the first phase down, but with Kyle in the irons, they should be looking forward to a completion with a happy ending.

Allie Sacksen & Sparrow’s Nio: Allie and Nio won the CCI2* last year, and this year are returning for the next challenge. They moved up to the Advanced level last fall before their CCI2* win and have been steadily working toward a more competitive result all year. They were second this spring at The Fork Advanced and have proved that despite Nio’s small stature, they can jump around some of the toughest tracks we have on the East Coast. Their dressage usually sits in the high 50s, and their cross country record is fabulous, but the show jumping is generally what lets them down. Allie will be happy to have a CCI3* horse at the end of the weekend.

Caitlin Silliman & Catch A Star: Caitlin and Hoku are old pros at the three-star level, having competed at this level for more than two years and completing Rolex once in 2013. But this will be their first Fair Hill CCI3* together. Hoku’s dressage generally leaves her in the middle of the pack, scoring in the high 50s, and is fully capable of an aggressive and clean cross country round. Occasionally they suffer from some lack of consistency in that phase, but seem to be doing well lately. Hoku does have demons in show jumping, but Caitlin has been dealing with that for years and knows how to handle it well.

Maya Black and Doesn't Play Fair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Maya Black & Doesn’t Play Fair: Hot off their dominating win at Plantation Field in the CIC3*, Maya and Cody are entering their first Fair Hill with a good likelihood of taking home a top prize. A West Coast transplant, Maya moved east this spring and has thrived in this environment, conquering her first CCI3* this summer at Bromont with a fifth place finish. They scored a 50.2 on the flat there, added 12.4 time on cross country and just a rail on Sunday. I expect they can continue on their good mojo and finish right up with the big boys when the weekend is done.

Jodi Hemry & In Style: Jodi and Styles have not accepted that the first phase is entirely necessary, but have been successfully competing at this level since their move up this spring at Carolina International. Most recently they completed Plantation CIC3* in 36th place with a 69.6 on the flat, three rails and four time in show jumping, and a clear cross country trip with 14.4 time. Styles knows how to take care of business on cross country, and Jodi will be thrilled to have her first CCI3* under her belt.

Nilson Moreira da Silva & Muggle: Nilson and Muggle are a pair that have much more talent to come and will be looking to complete their first CCI3*. They were having a good go of the level, completing with competent results, until their fall at Plantation Field CIC3* and have not been seen competing since that time. Hopefully all is well in their camp, and Muggle will be ready and healthy to compete here at Fair Hill for the first time since his 33rd place finish at the CCI2* last fall.

Check back tomorrow morning for part two of the CCI3* preview!

An Owner’s Perspective on Cross Country Course Design

Ryan Wood and D-Day Vant Plantanenhof at Plantation Field. Photo by Rebecca Hila. Ryan Wood and D-Day Vant Plantanenhof at Plantation Field. Photo by Rebecca Hila.

As our sport evolves and cross country courses become a different type of test than days gone by, it is natural that concerns arise about how we design that phase and how much of an influence it has on the sport as a whole. We have been hearing from national and international federations, and occasionally a competitor feels that it is necessary to step up and make a statement about specific courses, but rarely do we get the owner’s perspective.

Curran Simpson owns D-Day Van Plantanenhof, a Belgian Warmblood gelding who competes at the two-star level with Ryan Wood, and wrote in with his thoughts on course design in 2014, as well as the changing tides in the sport in general. As always, thank you for reading, and thank you Curran for sharing your thoughts with us. And be sure to weigh in with a comment below.

From Curran:

As an owner of an upper level horse, I feel compelled to comment on the recent Plantation Field International Horse Trials, which I view as a huge success. I have increasingly paid attention to course design and conditions as they relate to the health and safety outcomes for both rider and horse. Too many horses, including mine, have been subjected to trappy courses that cause injury and loss of confidence.

Recent articles have referenced an acceptable outcome from a four-star event in which 30 percent of the horses are eliminated, 30 percent of the horses have at least one refusal and the remainder finish clear. In the three-star at Plantation, 87 percent of the horses completed the cross country phase, with 68 percent finishing with no jump penalties.

The winners were defined by the ability to make the time. As an owner that cares deeply about the health and safety of the horse and rider, I can’t help but contrast the results from this year versus 2013, with many of the same horses involved.

Spectators and owners do not enjoy watching horses fail to negotiate jumps in a dangerous way. When an accident occurs, we often lose the valuable volunteers that keep the sport running once they see the tragic consequences of poor riding or course design that creates dangerous situations.

I was particularly stuck by an event this summer in which an up bank coming out of the water had a large 6×6 wood fixture placed at the top of the bank. I watched several horses struggle to clear that element, and then watched a horse that is considered one of the top Preliminary horses going fracture an ankle as it attempted to clear this obstacle.

Logs placed at the entrance or exit of any water obstacle force the horse to either awkwardly land into the water or stumble out of it.  The stress this creates on soft tissue is unacceptable. When asked about the need for these types of questions, the answer I typically get is that they are required to prepare a horse for a three-star or four-star event. This seems like a high price to pay to prepare a horse.

The CIC3* course design at Plantation by Mike Etherington-Smith was something to be modeled by other course designers. The horses and riders were challenged by obstacles that encouraged forward riding and in cases of trouble resulted in runouts rather than a significant number of rider or horse falls.

Recent statistics have shown that the overall rate of accidents has not decreased, even though rotational falls have. I applaud the use of frangible pins and modern fence technology to reduce the number of rotational falls. I believe the next step is to ensure course designers are qualified in partnership with senior designers that have a track record of ensuring safe, well-designed courses. Otherwise, as my Father once said, “you get what you pay for.”

My personal response in 2014 is to carefully review with my trainer (I have purchased over 40 entries this year), the course designer and event safety history before I enter. I believe the sport should rally to improve the quality of events. Entries in 2014 have reached historic highs at key events, providing growth to a sport that badly needs it.  Having safe events is critical to sustaining this momentum.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Wundermaske, aka "Patch" enjoying a little roll at Boekelo! Photo via Sharon White's FB.

Wundermaske, aka “Patch” enjoying a little roll at Boekelo! Photo via Sharon White’s FB.

TGIF everybody! By this time, Boekelo dressage is more than halfway through, with several of our American riders completing their first phase already. Yesterday Liz Halliday squeezed into the top ten with a 47.9 on Fernhill By Night, and Tiana Coudray scored a 56.5 in her first CCI3* with Kinnordy Rivaldo.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen kick off the American contingent today at 11:27 (5:27 a.m. EST) followed by Sharon White and Under Suspection at 3:41 (9:41 a.m. EST). Be sure to keep an eye on the live scores to cheer on our American competitors, and click here to watch the live stream.

North American Weekend Preview:

Course Brook Farm Fall H.T. [Website]

Radnor Hunt H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Maryland at Loch Moy H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Greenwood Farm Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Weston Park (GBR) CCI1/2* [Website]

Boekelo CCIO3* [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Live Stream]

News From Around The Globe:

Nelson’s Hill is still in danger. Remember this article that Sally wrote about the new restrictive regulations the Board of Supervisors of Newlin Township plan to put in place? We helped turn out a record crowd at September’s board meeting, causing a disgruntled board to postpone the vote for a month. Since then, the farm owners of the township have repeatedly asked for a meeting with the board, to no avail. The board plans on voting on the restrictions again on Monday, October 13th, at 8 pm in The Lanfest Center. If you’re in town for Fair Hill and using Nelson’s Hill, please take the time to come support the farm owners! [Newlin Township Petition]

The recent Thoroughbred Makeover contest was a huge success! With 10,480 people voting online in a very tight race, Team Icabad pulled out all the stops to win (thanks to Eventing Nation voters!) A series of video endorsements from his former jockeys, past trainer and current owner Graham Motion, current trainer and rider Olympian Phillip Dutton, and Phillip’s thirteen-year-old daughter Olivia contributed to his popularity, but the on-track performance sealed the win. Jumping a five stride line of jumps in four, five, six, seven, and eight strides proved just how responsive this great horse has become, but when Olivia got on and showed the horse’s generosity and kindness with some beautiful work on the flat, Icabad truly became America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred. [Thoroughbred Makeover Increases Demand for TBs]

Calling all clipping artistes! You know it’s that time of the year again, because I’ve already clipped my horse once, and you can’t even tell. Gross! However, it’s time for you to show off your clipping skills! Send me photos and a short description of you and your horse. Send me big photos! Do something cool like make your horse look like a zebra. Or clip something really intricate into his booty. Become famous on EN! [Clipping Creations: Email Kate!]

SmartPak Product Of The Day: Holy bananas this item is totally on my wish list! The barn where I work just got these clippers, and I’ve fallen completely in love with them, and need to start saving for my own pair right now. In my opinion, there’s nothing more satisfying than a clean and smooth clip job, and these clippers are SO quiet, and SO smooth, even the most flinchy of horses can tolerate them. Plus, they are chord-less and charge in less than an hour, so cool! [Andis Super AGR+ Clippers]

Sometimes it is important to branch out of horse videos, and watch videos of awesome eleven-year-old girls who can dance like nobody’s business.

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Product Review: Success Equestrian Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap No Slip Pad

Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.

Look how perfectly this pad fits my forward flap cross country saddle! Photo by Kate Samuels.

Look how perfectly this pad fits my forward flap cross country saddle! Photo by Kate Samuels.

There is almost nothing worse than having your saddle and your saddle pad not get along, closely followed by struggling daily to keep your saddle pad where it is supposed to be. If you have a horse that even remotely has an uphill build, you’ve already bought stock in breast plates, and you’re constantly in search of the best no-slip pad to compliment your gear.

Cross country is one of the most important times to have everything in order, as it’s such a demanding portion of the sport, you really can’t afford to have wardrobe malfunctions giving you grief on course. You want a saddle pad that stays in place, provides a little cushion and preferably some good breathability.

Thanks to some new developments from Success Equestrian, we now have an excellent saddle pad that is designed specifically for cross country in mind and works exceptionally well with the new monoflap designs for saddles with forward flaps. That pad is the Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap No Slip Pad.

I personally have two horses with pretty serious rap sheets on the saddle slippage front, with one in particular who has been almost impossible to fit for a saddle because of his weird construction. Yep, old Leo is shaped like a tube, and with no real slot right behind the shoulder for his saddle to nestle in, it constantly just slides right back. It’s positively awful for me because his neck is already long enough, and I don’t need to be further back on his body!

So I took this pad for a spin first on a cross country schooling day to check it out, and I have to say that Leo literally will jump in nothing else any more. Not only did the saddle stay more in the correct location than ever before, but he was very pleased with the cushion effect. He’s a particular animal, and when he doesn’t like what’s going on with his back and his saddle, you know almost immediately.

The underside of the pad

The underside of the pad, which stays fairly clean even after many uses, and you can see the satin wither protection fabric at the top. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I’m a big fan of the fact that while the pad kept my saddle in place, it has yet to rub any of my horses in an uncomfortable way. I’ve found that some no-slip pads can have a grip that is a little too powerful, and it will catch hairs in the wrong way or even cause skin rubs, which is just awful. This pad even has a soft satin fabric on the wither area is used to ensure comfort.

Success pads have a unique open cell foam seat insert that adds the extra shock absorption under the saddle, and I really loved it. So did Leo! Since that time, I’ve taken him to two shows and used the pad both times on cross country, and it held up perfectly in that environment as well.

While we’re talking about shows, a great thing about this pad is that it has the bells and whistles while still maintaining the traditional competition quality. I feel completely comfortable taking it to a show and using it, but also want a few to keep as schooling pads. It feels silly to use something this nice only when you’re competing, because shouldn’t your horse enjoy the benefits on an everyday basis?

If you’re like me, you have to take very good care of what you have in order to preserve it as long as you can. My show pads are separate, but I still get really bummed out when I buy a fancy and expensive pad and it gets irreparably stained in the first use. What’s the point? I’m pleased to report that the Success Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap No Slip pad has a great wash-ability factor, and even with a new saddle that was still bleeding a little color, I was able to have it looking like new with just one wash.

Leo is the master of the slipping saddle pad, but not today, thanks to this cross country Success pad. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Leo is the master of the slipping saddle pad, but not today, thanks to this cross country Success pad. Photo by Owie Samuels.

I have a pretty long hip-to-knee length, and therefore my jump saddles, and cross country saddles in particular, tend to have a pretty forward flap. This can cause troubles when it comes to saddle pads, because most of them aren’t designed for that, or really even designed for monoflaps.

The Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap pad worked impeccably with the contours of my saddle, as you can see in the photos above. There was no weird saddle overlap, and I felt awesome that it looked basically custom made to my saddle. Style points!

Everyone who has a monoflap knows the struggle of realizing that the billet strap is just in completely the wrong location, and then you have to choose to attempt to use it and face dissatisfaction, or forget it and deal with the pad slipping back. However, this pad will solve your problems, because it is literally designed with the monoflap in mind and fits the billets perfectly.

The final aspect of this pad that is great for cross country is the breathability, and the air flow that it offers to your horse’s back while you’re riding. As we are galloping on cross country, we are always trying to come up with ways to minimize the stress that we put on their bodies, so keeping the heat from building up under the saddle is very important. The air flow grip bottom layer is completely breathable and wicks perspiration due to the quilted cotton blend top layer.

The Success Equestrian Deluxe Cross Country Monoflap No Slip Pad retails at $99.

Go Success Equestrian. Go Eventing!

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo via Snarky Rider FB.

Photo via Snarky Rider FB.

Faster than a speeding Ford Escort! More powerful than a John Deer! Able to leap tall fences at a single bound! Please tell me that you’re looking at the horse above and laughing your butt off, because that’s what I’m doing every time I see that picture. Look. At. His. Face!

Anyway, dressage at Boekelo begins today, and the first American on the docket is Tiana Coudray with Kinnordy Rivaldo at 9:35 (3:35 a.m. EST) followed by Liz Halliday and Fernhill By Night at 1:42 (7:42 a.m. EST). Be sure to keep an eye on the live scores to cheer on our American competitors, and click here to watch the live stream.

North American Weekend Preview:

Course Brook Farm Fall H.T. [Website]

Radnor Hunt H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Maryland at Loch Moy H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Greenwood Farm Fall H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

FEI Global Weekend Preview:

Weston Park (GBR) CCI1/2* [Website]

Boekelo CCIO3* [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Live Stream]

News From Around The Globe:

Boyd Martin’s Windurra USA is holding a stadium schooling show today for Intro to Advanced levels. Rounds are just $25. Rides times are: Intro 8:30-9:45 a.m., Beginner Novice 9:45-11 a.m., Novice 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Training 12:15-1:30 p.m., Prelim 1:30-2:45 p.m., Intermediate 2:45-3:45 p.m., Advanced 3:45-4:45 p.m., Novice (for after school crew) 4:45-6 p.m. GPS directions: 2027 Gap Newport Pike, Cochranville, PA 19330. [Schooling Show]

Thoroughbred champion Cigar died on Tuesday at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital from complications following surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck. Cigar won a total of 19 races, including an incredible SIXTEEN in a row, and set the record for earnings (at that time) with $9,999,815. He raced well into his adult years, winning Horse Of The Year in 1995 and 1996. Unfortunately, due to arthritis in his neck, Cigar developed several very severe compressions of the spinal cord, and surgery was deemed the best possible route to improve his life. However, he suffered a vertebral fracture during recovery and passed away. [Cigar Dies Following Surgery]

Britain has a strong team for the final Nations Cup competition at Military Boekelo-Enschede this weekend. The team is thus: Sarah Bullimore riding Lilly Corinne, Emilie Chandler riding Coopers Law, Laura Collett riding Grand Manoevre and Gemma Tattersall riding Dinky Inky. With this competition as the last leg in the nine-event series, Team GB is lying in second place, just 10 points shy of Germany in first. The winning team is awarded 11 points, and a strong performance is necessary regardless, as France is sitting just four points below in third place. [British Nations Cup Team Announced]

A great opportunity is coming up! There will be a one-day clinic at True Prospect Farm on Nov. 7. Weather permitting they will do flat, stadium and cross country. If heavy rain, there will be flat and stadium in the indoor. Please email Karen Rubin at Rubin9460@aol.com for an application and more information. A limited number of riders will be accepted, with small groups starting at Beginner Novice.

Calling all clipping artistes! You know it’s that time of the year again, because I’ve already clipped my horse once, and you can’t even tell. Gross! However, it’s time for you to show off your clipping skills! Send me photos and a short description of you and your horse. Send me big photos! Do something cool like make your horse look like a zebra. Or clip something really intricate into his booty. Become famous on EN! [Clipping Creations: Email Kate!]

In honor of the recently deceased Cigar, I give you one of his most fabulous races (although it’s hard to choose with a horse like that). Look at him cooly pull away in the stretch! That was his 16th win IN A ROW!

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Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Jump Schools

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as a 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:

It is important to have a plan for a jump school before you get on to ride. This may involve moving jumps before you start or arranging to have someone there to set jumps while you ride. Except for cross country schooling, I have two different types of schools that I do: one focuses on the horse’s technique, and the other focuses on exercises designed to help with the horses education.

Most of my horses jump at least once a week. It keeps them from being silly when I do jump them; it also helps them crack their backs. I also try to keep the number of jumps per school to a minimum.

In some schools, I work on angled jumps, bending lines or related distances. The last school before an event should always be about technique. If the last phase your horse did at his last event was cross country, chances are you will need to have a quieter school to get the horse round and settled again.

Sometimes if I have had a problem at an event, the following school will work on fixing whatever went wrong. If the horse had stopped on cross country or struggled through the triple in show jumping, I would school that specifically, hopefully within the week following the event. That gives me an idea of how big a problem I have and an idea of how long it will take to fix it.

Unless you get to jump a lot or compete regularly, most schools will be a combination of both of these types. If I have introduced something new, I will try to finish the school on something the horse finds relatively easy so he goes back to the barn in a good frame of mind.

The younger horses will need more educational type work, and the experienced upper-level horses may just need light schools to keep them sharp. Each horse is different, and our jobs as riders and trainers is to find what works best for our horse.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Lucky number 100?? Nyls has arrived at Morven.

Lucky number 100?? Nyls has arrived at Morven.

Nyls and I have arrived at Morven, and we are ready to take on the CIC3*! I’m going to try to bring you some updates from the action this weekend, as many of the pairs here are entered at Fair Hill in a few weeks, and are using this as a last preparatory run. However, I cannot promise much, as reporting on something while simultaneously competing in the same division is….challenging to say the least. My lovely groom will be assigned “camera & electronics” duty, as well as green slime duty, fly spray duty, test reminding duty, and hoof polishing duty. We will prevail!

North American Weekend Preview:

Kent School Fall H.T. [Website]

Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

WindRidge Farm Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

ESDCTA New Jersey at the Horsepark H.T. [Website]

Woodside International CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Fair Hill International is shaping up to be the biggest it has ever been, with 122 entries in the two star and 58 entries in the three star! As one of the favorite events in the U.S., and certainly the highlight of the fall season, Fair Hill is notorious for its difficulty and its prestige. Winning at Fair Hill means that you really are the best of the best, and most likely you slogged through some incredible mud situation on cross country to come out on top. [Fair Hill Blog]

Looking for an awesome clinic in February in western Canada? On February 7 and 8th of the coming spring, William Fox Pitt will be teaching a clinic at the Chilliwack Heritage Park Indoor Arena, which will be the first time he has taught on Canada’s west coast. The clinic will be limited to thirty people, with riders from Training level to Advanced. Contact Scott Hayes for more information! [William Fox Pitt Clinic Opportunity]

It’s too hot for jackets, but too cold for t-shirts. Its fall: you can’t figure out what to wear and how to wear it without getting too hot or too cold somehow. That’s why I’m completely in love with 3/4 length zip jackets and sweaters. They bridge the gap when you can’t figure out how to clothe yourself in varying weather. SmartPak has this awesome Gersemi Sweater that I’m obsessed with, and you should be too. [Gersemi 3/4 Length Sweater]

If you’re a breeder or sport horse enthusiast looking for an in-house trainer, four-star rider Dan Clasing might be your man. Not only has he developed all of his upper level horses from the ground up, but he’s well known for starting young horses under saddle, and riding thoroughbreds in particular. You can find out more through his website. [Daniel Clasing Eventing]

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Throwback Thursday: Me, aged 4, dragging my pony around and wearing the best tiny pair of chaps ever. You're welcome. Throwback Thursday: Me, aged 4, dragging my pony around and wearing the best tiny pair of chaps ever. You're welcome.

OCTOBER?! I can’t believe it’s October already. Fall and the holiday season always sneaks up on me. Maybe it’s because I live in Virginia, and the weather is basically hot and muggy until it snows, and there really isn’t a whole lot of in-between. A friend asked me the other day what I was planning for a Halloween costume, and I immediately replied that the Virginia Horse Trials usually fall on Halloween, so I haven’t dressed up in many, many years … and then I realized my friend is not a horse person. At all. Can’t I just wear my top hat and tails as a costume? Is there something witty that goes along with that? Some sort of pop culture reference that I’m missing?

North American Weekend Preview:

Kent School Fall H.T. [Website]

Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

WindRidge Farm Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

ESDCTA New Jersey at the Horsepark H.T. [Website]

Woodside International CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

Vittoria Panizzon is a lady that I would definitely like to ride with, and therefore I will be reading her seven tips for equine fitness. How each upper level rider goes about getting horses fit for the top levels while also maintaining their soundness is fascinating, because it is definitely an art unto itself. Vittoria recommends hacking for an hour every day, in addition to regular work, and includes hills in her gallop routine for extra oomph. [Vittoria Panizzon's 7 Tips To Fitness]

Paul Tapner’s former head girl, Zoe Wilkinson, has just triumphed over many others who were vying for the Mark Todd Bridging The Gap Scholarship. Zoe will receive support and training for the 2015 competition season including three private training sessions and mentoring from Mark. She also wins £1500 worth of Keyflow Feed and £1500 worth of clothing, tack and horse wear from the Mark Todd Collection. [Former Head Girl Wins Mark Todd Scholarship]

What’s the worst injury that you’ve sustained while riding…and continued riding with, much to your doctor’s chagrin? British dressage rider Jody Haswell fell off a young horse in 2013, and got a bit banged up, but continued on with his life, including riding six to ten horses a day and tending to his new triplets with his wife. Eighteen months later, Jody had to go to the doctor because of crippling migraines. Turns out, Jody had a broken neck. “Don’t be a fool like me”. [Riding With A Broken Neck]

I’ve always vaguely wondered how horses with broken ribs, a broken pelvis, or a fractured skull recover and seem to do well afterwards. Think about all the wonderful comeback stories we’ve heard, even recently from Ashley Russell, whose horse flipped and broke his pelvis and withers, how do they recover? This fascinating article from The Horse lays out all the details for various fracture injuries for horses, and how to treat them for full recovery. [Fractures: Beyond The Limbs]

Can’t turn down a little inspirational video action right before a competition weekend …

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Ashley Russell and Philharmonic Beat the Odds at AECs

Ashley Russell and Philharmonic competing at the AECs. Photo by Jen Valentine. Ashley Russell and Philharmonic competing at the AECs. Photo by Jen Valentine.

Last week, we brought you the story of Ashley Russell, an inspirational rider who set out to compete at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships in Tyler, Texas. Ashley competes her horse Philharmonic while being legally blind, and this year, she and “Nic” competed at the Beginner Novice level at the AECs, finishing in 13th place on their dressage score of 34.5.

Ashley lost her central vision at age 20 due to a rare genetic disorder called Stargardt disease, and now has a complicated but successful system of strategizing her jump rounds to accommodate her sight limitations. She uses land marks and other markers she can see with her peripheral vision to map out specific lines to her jumps, walking the course several times at each competition to be sure she knows how the weather and different positions of the sun will affect her ride.

“On my cross country ride at the AECs, his hoof prints matched my footprints; it was perfect,” Ashley said. “The biggest challenge was the warmup arena because it was a lot of motion and 20-some horses. It’s hard for me to navigate it all, but we got going, and he was happy and feeling good. We came out of the start box and hit all of our lines perfectly. It was great, it was fun, I was giggling around the whole thing.”

Traveling at speed across varied terrain presents obvious challenges for Ashley, but she’s developed a positive outlook for all of it. “I need time for my eyes to adjust from light to dark and dark to light, so I need extra planning for jumps like that. It’s very similar to how a horse sees, and it’s helpful because I can see if something is going to be spooky for Nic. I’m also color perception challenged in a similar way to horses.”

Ashley getting some last minute cross country advice from coach Susu. Photo by Jen Valentine.

Ashley getting some last minute cross country advice from coach Susu Dale. Photo by Jen Valentine.

In this partnership, Ashley isn’t the only one facing challenges, as Nic has a comeback story of his own. When Ashley acquired him a few years ago, he was coming off a severe accident on the lunge line which resulted in him breaking his pelvis, wither and tail bone. Their progression has been slow, and Ashley has taken her time with him both physically and emotionally.

Nic suffered from a pretty significant loss of confidence following his accident, but Ashley says that he’s feeling really good these days, and has just starting coming into his own on cross country. He’s discovered that it’s his favorite phase, and he goes around with his ears pricked the whole time, and the AECs were no different. “He’s pretty good over everything, and he does look at stuff, but if I say ‘go,’ he goes. We have really come together, and he was on fire for that course,” she said.

Ashley admitted that Nic’s confidence issues appear most of the time in stadium, but you wouldn’t know it from their double clear round at the AECs. “I’m just so darn proud of him for jumping double clean,” she said. “We did already qualify for Novice (at the AECs) next year with our win at Seneca Valley this summer, and I’m counting down the days until we come back to Texas!”

Not only are they planning a return to the AECs next year, but Ashley’s goal is to do the Waredaca Novice Three-Day next fall, which would be her first long format competition. This fall and winter, they will focus on getting their scores more competitive in the dressage phase, and Ashley will return to Virginia to support her team of students and boarders, all of whom helped her get to Texas in one way or another.

“It’s a team effort, and now that my team has supported me to get here, I’m going home to support them for the rest of the fall. That’s what we’re about: fun, teamwork and support,” Ashley sad. “I’m very grateful for my coach Susu Dale, my super groom Jen Valentine and of course my loving husband for all his support. Nic and I couldn’t be here without the whole team.”

Ashley is always on the lookout for how to help and inspire other riders, and she’s glad she found an opportunity at the AECs. “I saw another rider in warm up who was vibrating on her horse, and I said, ‘Listen, I’m blind and he’s crippled, so if we can get out there and do this, you’re gonna be fine!’” Ashley, said. “If I can inspire others to just smile and laugh it off, that’s what it’s all about. If you’re not having fun, it costs too much money.”

Click here to learn more about Ashley’s TRU Liberty Stables and the BABS Eventing Team.

Check out Ashley and Nic’s winning cross-country round from Seneca this summer: