Kate Samuels
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Kate Samuels

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About Kate Samuels

Kate Samuels is an avid 3-Day Eventer who currently competes at the Advanced/3* level with her wonderful Selle Francais gelding, Nyls du Terroir. A rider since the tender age of three, she is a young professional in the sport learning as much as she can from various mentors, both equine and human. Kate has worked for Eventing Nation since 2011, and has enjoyed every minute of it. She brings a lifetime of experience with horses as well as a wealth of knowledge gained through competing at the top levels of the sport. When not riding through the boiling hot, freezing cold, rain or snow, Kate enjoys baking pies, photography, and finding ridiculous videos on the internet.

Eventing Background

USEA Rider Profile Click to view profile
Area Area II
Highest Level Competed Advanced/CIC3*

Latest Articles Written

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Galway Downs is now home to racehorses! Photo courtesy of Galway Downs FB.

Galway Downs is now home to racehorses! Photo courtesy of Galway Downs FB.

The very first three-star of the year is commencing today at Galway Downs, and I think I can even feel the excitement all the way over here in Virginia! I’ve been watching videos of the west coast crew taking lessons with David O’Connor over the past two days, and taking little notes on the jumping exercises to replicate them at home for my own horses. If you haven’t already, check out Maggie’s predictions for the CIC3* at Galway, as nine of the competitors are entered at Rolex in just a few weeks.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Morven Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Full Gallop March II H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Galway Downs H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to Kelly Sroka, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie! Kelly will get a chance to try out a free month of A Horse Box. Congratulations, Kelly! [Fab Freebie: A Horse Box]

Heading to Rolex this year? Be sure to enter our first Rolex lead-up contest presented by Tipperary! Send us a photo of your Rolex tickets, and get creative with your photo! The voted winner will receive a brand new T-series helmet from Tipperary. Last day to enter is Saturday! [Show Us Your Rolex Tickets, Presented by Tipperary]

Competitors and spectators at Galway Downs this weekend will be treated to all new and improved facilities. More than 150 racehorses are now in training on the grounds, landscaping work is continuing to beautify the site, and the parking lot on the west side of the barns is being transformed into a recreational area for the community. “Our goal continues to be to make Galway Downs a larger part of the Temecula Valley community, and so we’re creating an area that can be rented for community events, weddings and other affairs. And we’re glad that our fabulous track is becoming a busy Southern California Thoroughbred training center once again, because it’s always exciting to see the racehorses galloping around the track in the morning,” says Robert Kellerhouse. [Galway Downs]

Professional’s Choice is now the official boot of the United States Eventing Association. “At Professional’s Choice, we believe in partnering with organizations and people who we share common goals and aspirations with. The USEA’s goal is to advance the sport of three day eventing through education as a component of its mission statement, and at Professional’s Choice we share that passion,” stated Vice President Michele Scott. Professional’s Choice offers a variety of equestrian products and is a leader in the equine leg care industry, placing priority on innovative technology and superior quality. [Professional’s Choice]

The flies are already out, and it’s already irritating my horses. So, I went today and ordered a new supply of my favorite fly spray, CLAC Deo Lotion. If you or your horse have ever experienced irritation with regular horse sprays, this is your solution. It is 100% natural ingredients, and I guarantee it is allergy proof. I have a thin skinned chestnut who gets hives from regular fly spray, and I always find the insides of my arms are irritated when I touch them in the summer, but not now that I use CLAC! Also, it smells really good. [SmartPak Product of the Day]

FLAIR™ MASTER CLASS: Rolex Kentucky 2014 XC — The First Combination, The Park Question 7abcd — with Ralph Hill from Flair LLC on Vimeo.

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

This is how Dom Schramm teaches cross country in the Hitchcock Woods. Photo courtesy of Dom.

This is how Dom Schramm teaches cross country in the Hitchcock Woods. Photo courtesy of Dom.

Yesterday, the local fox hunt came through my farm, and in a rather crazy way, went careening through the main barn and paddock facilities, hounds and all swarming through the fields. I was trapped in the arena lunging a horse that had recently come off stall rest (that was fun, let me tell you) and I had no chance to grab Nyls out of the field, which I would have because he is DEATHLY AFRAID of fox hunting. At the sound of the first horn, or the first howl, he begins trembling from head to toe, and stops blinking completely. This happened at 10am, and he didn’t really recover all day. At 9pm, I return to the barn for night checks, only to find Nyls standing in the corner of his stall, tense and tight and still refusing to blink. This is how I spent an hour sitting in his stall so that he would put his head down, breathe, and maybe eat some hay. Example 1,468 of why Nyls only survives life because of extreme personal attention and being spoiled.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Morven Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Full Gallop March II H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Galway Downs H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

Heading to Rolex this year? Be sure to enter our first Rolex lead-up contest presented by Tipperary! Send us a photo of your Rolex tickets, and get creative with your photo! The voted winner will receive a brand new T-series helmet from Tipperary. Last day to enter is Saturday! [Show Us Your Rolex Tickets, Presented by Tipperary]

In an all new bonehead move, an Arizona state bill proposes that horses are not animals. HB2150 separates poultry and livestock from animal cruelty statutes, so that they are effectively excluded from the definition of animals found in Arizona’s criminal code. Since they will no longer be considered animals, the 13 categories of animal abuse currently on the books will no longer protect these animals. [Lawmakers Say Horses Aren’t Animals]

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are heading to Las Vegas next month, and it’s not for gambling. They are going to defend their Reem Acra FEI World Cup title on the 15-19 of April, and everybody is wondering: can anybody beat them? This pair is the current World, Olympic and European champions, as well as holding the high score records for just a few things at Grand Prix. My vote is no, nobody can beat them, and they will crush all comers once again. [Can Anybody Beat Charlotte and Valegro?]

I’ve already pre-ordered this book, and I can’t wait to get it next month! The indefatigable Emma Ford and Cat Hill have created what is promising to be the best book on grooming, presentation and horse care that this world has ever seen. Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m a maniac about how my horses look, and I’m sure this book will only make me more maniacal. In the meantime, check out Emma and Cat’s new website! [World Class Grooming]

If you’d like to get some personal Evention lessons, Buffalo Run Farm is hosting a Dom Schramm clinic in May. Held on the 16th and 17th of May in Bellefonte PA, Buffalo Run offers this clinic to horses and riders of all levels, and has extended the initial deposit date to March 30th, as they still have some spots open. Contact Jennifer Neely for more information.[Buffalo Run Farm]

An Infographic: On Why You Should Be Wearing A Helmet

A fun video of the original “Big Red”:

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Carolina International CIC3* Cross Country Course Preview

Cloud 11 Watership Down complex.

Cloud 11 Watership Down complex.

I had the chance to zoom around the Cloud 11-Gavilan Farm Carolina International CIC3* cross country course yesterday morning, thanks to the expert golf cart driving of press officer Allie Conrad, and was delighted to check out Hugh Lochore’s challenge for this year. The CIC3* starts on cross country at 12:40 p.m. EST, so let’s take a look at the course.

There was rain Thursday during the day and at night, which made the footing sloppy around the barns and in the warm-up for dressage, but it works perfectly for the cross country. This event usually has excellent turf, and the sandy footing is one of the best, but the little bit of rain was a great addition.

The course runs along a similar path as it did last year for the inaugural CIC3*, and Hugh has changed a few key elements but kept a lot of the classic Carolina obstacles. It starts out in a very inviting way, with four good fences to get you going and into a rhythm.

The first complex comes at 5AB at the Fox Lake Trellis Turn, which uses one of the enormous skinny trellis tables that we saw last year, but the B element is a fairly inviting corner. The table is deceivingly wide and has quite a skinny front, so I expect that it will ride awkwardly for a few combinations, but there’s a good turn to set you up, and it shouldn’t cause any serious trouble.

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8ABC: Zoe’s Bank

The first real question is 8ABC, which is at Zoe’s Bank, a great complex named in honor of Zoe di Giovanni. This jump is tricky, as the A element is a skinny house up on a mound, as it was last year, and that alone sometimes rides a bit awkwardly as you try to get the horse’s eye on the top.

The good news is that the striding is lovely, and it is a perfect four to a very nice roll top, one stride angled to another skinnier roll top. You can see a little bit of the angle in the picture above, but standing next to it makes you realize that it is a lot sharper angle than you thought. I expect a few run-outs here, but it should ride smoothly for the majority of the competitors.

The next complex is Stonehenge, which looks intimidating, but it worked beautifully last year. There is a skinny jump in, and then you can just push for a good forward three over a great corner — unless you are Boyd Martin, and then you break your leg for the second year running at Carolina International.

SPEA War Horse Complex

SPEA War Horse Complex

After that, there are a few more gallop fences and a few tables on a turn before we get to 16ABC, the SPEA War Horse Complex. This was on the course last year as a similar but slightly different question, and it is another jump that seems more difficult than it rides. The turn from A to B gives you plenty of time to set up, and while the B is a bit large with the brush, the C element is a pretty inviting chevron that you can ride down to in a perfect two strides.

The big Cloud 11 Watership Down complex is at the end of the course at 20AB and 21AB, and this is where I see the most issues coming. The A element is a brush bouncing to a log drop into the water. While it measures as a bounce, I definitely see a lot of horses taking a shuffle step, especially as the B and the water aren’t completely visible on entrance.

The riders then must turn to a pretty inviting 21A, a raised log in the water, which then has a slight S bend to a fairly decent sized corner at 21B. The placement of 21B might be a bit awkward for some riders, as they struggle to get their horses’ eyes up on the last question, but there is plenty of room to bow out and have a more extensive approach if one chooses to do that.

You can watch riders tackle the course thanks to the USEF live stream. Tune in to this link at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Carolina International: WebsiteRide TimesLive ScoresLive StreamVideo On DemandEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Jon Holling found a bathroom just for him at Carolina International. Photo from Jon himself.

Jon Holling found a bathroom just for him at Carolina International. Photo from Jon himself.

Despite the drizzling and the cold-ish weather, Carolina International continues to be awesome. I arrived yesterday, and I’m all settled in for a great weekend. The beast is full of fire, and will be doing at least one pre-ride tomorrow morning, as is customary for the first event of the season. One of my favorite parts of going to competitions is seeing all my friends from all the years of riding and working together, it’s like a big happy reunion! Can’t wait to cheer on my friends and I guess also do some dressage, or something.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Carolina International H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Jersey Fresh International is only seven weeks away, so it’s time to get your tickets to be a VIP spectator! Jersey Fresh is upping the ante this year with multiple packages for tailgating and spectating ringside for the exciting upper level competition. There is an All Access VIP Package, a Weekender VIP Package, and a Super Mom VIP Package, including awesome perks like catered meals, tailgating space on cross country, and a Mother’s Day brunch. What better way to watch some of the top horses in the country compete? [Jersey Fresh International]

Being jealous of people who get to go to Aiken for the spring is overrated. I read this hilarious account of a month in Aiken by Rebecca Young and was not surprised by a single ridiculous detail of it. Not even the “attack dogs” part, because that seems to be par for the course in South Carolina. [21 Days: A Horse Show Diary of Disaster]

Rachel Hindley of Great Britain has been handed a prison sentence and banned from owning animals for five years for her treatment of a pony and a donkey. Both unfortunate critters had hooves so overgrown that they could not walk properly, and the donkey had an infected sarcoid on his chest that was ulcerated. England has very strict animal welfare laws, and does not hesitate to hand down time in prison, heavy fines, and bans from animal ownership. Something I wish we could copy in the U.S. [Woman Banned From Animal Ownership]

Buying a properly fitted, comfortable and stylish helmet is one of the biggest decisions we face with our rider apparel. Last year, I discovered that I had been using all the wrong helmets, and my head is in fact shaped like a weird oval. I used to get awful headaches on my forehead, all because my helmets were the wrong shape! Now I switched to Samshield helmets, and I’m completely in love. If you’ve got a funny oval/egg shaped head like me, you should probably get on this bandwagon. [SmartPak Product of the Day]

Congrats to Rachel Wade, winner of this week’s Fab Freebie for a set of Equilibrium Tri-Zone Impact Sports Boots from our awesome sponsor World Equestrian Brands! Check out our product review of these fantastic cross country boots here. Be sure to check back Monday for our next Fab Freebie. [Fab Freebie]

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Anthony Patch is all snuggled up and ready for dressage in the CIC3* tomorrow at Carolina International! Photo courtesy of Lainey Ashker.

Anthony Patch is all snuggled up and ready for dressage in the CIC3* tomorrow at Carolina International! Photo courtesy of Lainey Ashker.

I can’t WAIT to get to Carolina International today, even though I’m only running the Intermediate with Nyls this weekend. It truly is one of the best events of the year, and I mean that in every way possible. There are events that are great for spectators, events that have wonderful cross country courses, and events that are respectful and accommodating to the competitors, but it’s pretty rare to have all that and more at one place. Carolina International sets itself apart by the way it treats its competitors, and it makes us all walk around with stupid grins all the time. I think it might be my favorite event of the year!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Carolina International H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

Matthew Grayling holds a short lead over Jock Paget in the Land Rover Horse of the Year CIC3* in New Zealand. Riding NRM Lowenberg, he sits just 1.5 penalties over Jock on Henton After Dark. It will be a job for Matthew to retain the lead, as Jock is accustomed to the title, having won it in 2009 and 2010 with Clifton Promise, and riding a very good horse that won the CIC2* here last year. Emily Cammock, entered at Kentucky with Dambala in a few weeks, sits in third after dressage in her final prep for their American 4* debut. [New Zealand HoY CIC3*]

Infamous stallion Cruising has two clones, now three years old. Cruising Arish and Cruising Encore are stunning little stallions, and are going to be available to breeders starting this year. Cruising himself died last September, but now Ireland can keep his genes alive in these two young stallions, who will be used exclusively for breeding purposes. Cruising remains the only stallion who received a 5 star rating for his own performance as well as a 5 star rating for that of his progeny. [Cruising’s Clones]

Have you checked out Maggie’s CIC3* predictions for this weekend? If you haven’t already, you should bone up on the likely contenders for the top prize in this weekend’s Carolina International CIC3*. [By The Numbers]

Equine non-profits are being encouraged to apply for grant money from the USA Equestrian Trust. Last year they gave out $300,000 to various equine non-profit organizations, largely to initiatives that are productive across several disciplines. If you are involved in an organization that would benefit, you should send in your application, due the night of May 4th. [Equine Non Profits Aid from USA Equestrian Trust]

Why would you want to click on this link and look at pictures of adorable foals to start your Thursday out right? The better question is: why WOULDN’T you, and why are you overthinking adorableness so much already? Seriously though, if you need a pick-me-up, or a dose of cute with your morning coffee, go no further. [Horse & Hound Adorable Foals]

The Best of Blogs: Maggie Deatrick hits the nail on the head with this article on the bravery that is required to admit that you shouldn’t be at the top levels. [The Will To Walk Away]

The Horse Pesterer will be back at CHP this weekend, and thank goodness for that! Here’s a little taste of this time last year (and the only time that Nyls has been likened to Secretariat!)

 

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The Leo Chronicles: Irish Jumping Lessons

Glamour shots: completely necessary.

Glamour shots: completely necessary.

As it is often with young horses, there is an ebb and flow to the learning curve. It’s definitely not a linear process, and sometimes you go backwards before you go forwards. I find that most horses have a pre-determined personal pace, and it’s usually wiser to let that be the guide for the rider. However, my favorite part is the lightbulb moment that leaps outside of the common progression, the “Aha!” that happens spontaneously and sometimes without prompting.

Although Leo is not really technically a young horse anymore (he’s coming on 8 this summer), he’s still green. Some horses, if they aren’t started properly, take a really long time to get going again later in life, and such is the case with him. After spending six years of his life meandering aimlessly and picking up bad, nervous habits, he’s only just now realizing what “job” means and getting into the different parts of his new career. Understanding that there are THREE distinct parts is a struggle, something we all could have told him from the get-go. Eventing is hard!

Just this past month, even with the snow and the cold-as-a-witch’s-rear-end weather, something funny happened to Leo in the way that he understood his own body. Maybe it was because for three weeks I was relegated to trot sets in the snow and the occasional canter up a slight hill, requiring more push and articulation from the horses. Maybe it was just the sudden accumulation of muscles and strength. Maybe it was just a little magic. Regardless, Leo just learned a really important thing: how to gallop!

This sounds silly, but he’s such a big dude and basically a thousand percent warmblood; he’s just been, you know, cantering a bit faster than usual on cross country. But suddenly, he knows how to gallop like a proper horse! He can increase his speed, change his stride length within a balance, keep himself uphill the whole time, and lets me rate him from a galloping position! It’s the small victories, you guys.

"When you have a bit in your mouth, your lips are automatically too short to cover your teeth." -- Leo

“When you have a bit in your mouth, your lips are automatically too short to cover your teeth.” — Leo

The day after the discovery, he started to act wild under saddle. At first I thought it was spring fever, but there was still snow on the ground. I figured maybe he was getting a little too much grain for his work load, so I cut it a little. No dice. This galloping thing opened up a whole new window for him, and he was just so psyched to be so fast now!

Leo is generally very low maintenance on the ground. You can leave him alone in a stall in the barn and he just munches hay and stays behind a stall guard. He stays out in a field by himself and sometimes will whinny or trot a little bit when you take the other horses away, but he never persists. I’ve done it hundreds of times, and he’s just not very dedicated to the cause of being neurotic, which is amazing.

One day, I pulled Nyls from the field while Leo was still out and was walking him back the the barn. I saw Leo canter around a little, pull some playful bucks and whinny a little. I figured he would give it up in approximately three minutes and continued on my way.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a red blur of flailing galloping legs coming towards me, definitely NOT in the field. Leo comes flying as fast as he can straight towards Nyls and me, who were both standing dumbstruck on the road back the the barn. He had successfully cleared his 5-foot gate and come pelting down the path at a full gallop. When he reached me, he stopped and allowed himself to be caught, because that was the extent of his escape plan, obviously.

I never really thought that Leo would have the kind of commitment that it takes to decide to straight up jump out over a gate. I was a little impressed. He did scrape some hair off of one leg, but other than that seems to have cleared it in good style. Most horses can jump out of the field if they want to badly enough, but Leo just never struck me as the type.

Fast forward two days, and I finally got to jump him when the snow melted. He’s usually a total goon unless he jumps regularly, and I was expecting some combination of disorganized buffoonery. This time, however, he was on point from the beginning, and in fact a lot more coordinated than I remembered him being in January.

#Derp

#Derp

He had suddenly accepted that taking off from underneath the fences was maybe not a great idea and was lifting his shoulders and his front legs in a way that was all new. He was waiting and cantering politely and not throwing in 27 differently sized strides before each fence. He was even landing a reasonable distance away from the jumps, instead of turning each one stride into an almost bounce! This was magical. I jumped him the next day a little too, just to make sure that I hadn’t made it up in my brain, and it happened again!

My theory is this: Leo decided on a whim to jump his gate, and perhaps saw his life flash before his eyes while he did it, feeling the absolute solid unflinching metal as he scraped his right leg a little on his way over it. In that moment, he realized he’d better start taking this jumping stuff more seriously and get his damn front end out of the way, and maybe start listening to me a little more. This self-administered jumping lesson clearly was a lightbulb moment for him.

While I’m glad I didn’t have to do the jumping of the 5-foot unmovable gate on him, I know of a place across the ocean that believes in such jumping lessons. That place is Ireland. Why do you think we buy horses that learned to jump in the Irish hunt field? Those horses are clever, no nonsense and know how to get their legs out of the way because upright gates in ankle deep mud are just par for the course.

Leo enters his spring season eyeing a move up to Training level and feeling all sorts of newly cool and powerful. I can’t get too many of those amazing jumps out of him, because he still tires easily from the effort of doing it correctly, but I’m delighted to have this new technique on my side. He’s making me a better rider, and I’m hoping I’m making him a better horse. Let’s just hope all this galloping and jumping doesn’t go to his head!

A Pine Top Dressage Lesson from Kim Severson

Everyone should have the chance to take a real dressage lesson from Kim Severson, because she’s the boss, but if you can’t, this is a pretty good substitute.

Kim took Cooley Cross Border to Pine Top this weekend to contest the Preliminary division. Needless to say, she schooled everybody on the flat, scoring an incredible 15.7 in the dressage phase. This score put her a cool 7.9 points in front of the rest of the pack, and she added just a rail to that score to take home the blue with Cross.

Mike Pembleton and Neville Bardos. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Mike Pembleton and Neville Bardos. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

We also got a glimpse of another familiar face at Pine Top: Neville Bardos, out to contest the Open Training division with Windurra working student Mike Pembleton. This is this pair’s second event together, following a second place finish in the Novice division at Full Gallop earlier this year. Mike and Neville currently lead the Open Training division on a dressage score of 29.1.

Pine Top Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

How did I get so lucky as to have this ridiculously good looking horse as my main man for so many years?

I made him do a photo shoot yesterday. He rolled in mud right after this.

I’ve been late to the competition game this season, as I didn’t go south at all, but stayed in Virginia to keep working and doing long slow fitness and flatwork hours with my horses. I have my two actively competing this season, a bunch of greenies, and a group of great students. Outside of the horrible snow of February, it really hasn’t been bad at all. In fact, I want to say that it’s almost been a nice relief to not have to go south and go crazy competing all over the place and return home to a depleted bank account and a trailer full of sand. However, my horses are looking fit and “slick as onions” (as my farrier said the other day) and I’m excited to get going competing next weekend at Carolina International!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

MeadowCreek Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Final Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

As we all consider the fate of Eventing after yet another tragedy, it’s worth reading this article from Jimmy Wofford. Yes, it was written in 2008, but it holds just as true now. The internet is full of outrage and complaint, but Jimmy does an excellent job of condensing the concerns into logical and digestible information, forming his argument. He believes that the true problem with Eventing is that the increase in difficulty of Dressage and Show Jumping has morphed our horses into ones without initiative, and that is the cause of the increase in rotational falls. As he puts it, we have designed a sport by humans for humans, instead of a sport designed by humans for horses. [Eventing Lives in the Balance]

Nine British horses have been entered so far at Rolex, and entries don’t close for another week and a half. The British have WFP bringing two defending Rolex champions and one four-star rookie, Nicola Wilson returning for the first time since the WEG in 2010, and both Zara Phillips and Francis Whittington making their personal Rolex debuts. We love Rolex as our only CCI4* in North America, but we really love when the Europeans come over here and we can ooh and ahh at them! [British Take On Rolex]

Don’t forget to enter this week’s awesome Fab Freebie from SaddleLockers! Here’s your chance to win a prize pack of swag, courtesy of SaddleLockers, Ogilvy, and Higher Standards Leather Care. Entries close Friday at midnight EST and we’ll be announcing the winner in Saturday’s News & Notes. [Fab Freebie: SaddleLockers]

Jen McFall wrote an amazing blog for The Chronicle on how her competitive instinct got in the way of her results with High Times. Billy, as he is known, completed Rolex last year with Jen for the first time, and has already started his competition season on the west coast. Jen blogs about how she decided to really push for the results in dressage that she knew could happen, and her insistence on perfection completely backfired, but it opened her up to a new way of thinking about her relationship with Billy and the competition. [The Power of Perception: Taming the Dragon]

Nyls usually has good ground manners, but at competitions it’s basically his life goal to drag me everywhere, mostly in search of grass at inopportune times. He’s a little bit of the horse that the more you pull, the harder he pulls, and the more you up the ante by putting a chain or some other preventative gadget on him, the worse he acts. For years, I just swallowed my pride and let him drag me around, only occasionally feeling like a good horse mother. Then I discovered the Professional’s Choice rope halter, and bad leading habits disappeared! I can finally walk him around the barns and out to graze without having to fear looking like a kid skidding her heels against a fat shetland pony. #lifegoals [SmartPak Product of the Day]

Congrats to Kristen Forti, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie giveaway for a SaddleLockers prize pack! Please email jenni@eventingnation.com to claim your prize. Be sure to check out SaddleLockers’ full lineup of amazing tack trunks by clicking here. Congrats to Kristen, and check back Monday for the next Fab Freebie! [Fab Freebie]

Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo submitted by EN reader Mari Heybroek.

Photo submitted by EN reader Mari Heybroek.

What’s that? You still think all thoroughbreds are crazy? Here is example one of a million that they aren’t: the above photo is EN reader Mari Heybroek with her 19 month old son, Oscar, riding a craaazzy thoroughbred! Oscar rode OTTB Chip in his very first show, in the trot poles class (although admittedly they mostly walked), and his mother hopes he will be an eventer when he grows up. Chip and Oscar were competing at a show organized by Skyline Eventing in efforts to raise money for a new cross country course in Mount Pleasant, Utah. A great cause for eventers out there, and future eventers too!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Spring H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status]

MeadowCreek Park H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Ride Times]

Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.  [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Omnibus] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News From Around The Globe:

Don’t forget to enter this week’s awesome Fab Freebie from SaddleLockers! Here’s your chance to win a prize pack of swag, courtesy of SaddleLockers, Ogilvy, and Higher Standards Leather Care. Entries close Friday at midnight EST and we’ll be announcing the winner in Friday’s News & Notes. [Fab Freebie: SaddleLockers]

Planning on competing at a CCI3* or CCI4* this spring? Don’t forget that you might be eligible for a Spring Grant from the USEF! Entries are due on FRIDAY, so if you want to go to Rolex, Jersey Fresh, Badminton, Saumur, Bromont, Bramham or Luhmuhlen this year, get your application in on time. [USEF Spring Grant Applications]

StartBox Scoring LLC is teaming up with the U.S. Pony Clubs to deliver even more awesome instant online scores. The new system will provide support for the Pony Club Team Competitions and Horse Management scoring, enabling all new live results for competitors, spectators and parents. Eventing is leading the way as the first discipline to incorporate the new integration, beginning in the July 2015 Pony Club East and West Championships. Dressage and Hunter/Jumper shows will be following in 2016. [Pony Club & StartBox Scoring: A Match Made in Heaven]

Just in time for their event this weekend, Copper Meadows has unveiled not one, but TWO new websites! The ever popular competition has been aching for a website makeover, and now it’s finally here. There’s not a lot of things more satisfying than an easily navigated website with all your competition information at the tip of your fingers. [Copper Meadows Official Sites]

 

Drooling with Charlotte DuJardin riding this young stallion Tørveslettens Fifty-Fifty….

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In Search Of A Unicorn That Never Rolls In Mud

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Ah, spring. The weather is slowly getting warmer, the mud is visible beneath the snow, and regular riding has recommenced for those of us not participating in the snowbird tradition. Spring is also a great time to buy a horse, and many get spring shopping fever, excited by the possibility of a new horse to go with the new year and the new competition season.

There is almost nothing more thrilling than the idea of finding “the one” that will take you to new heights and fulfill all your needs and become your best friend and confidante.

I was inspired to write this semi-serious post by none other than the Australian jokester, Kate Chadderton. She posted a status to Facebook a few days ago that went something like this:

ISO: experienced young horse with definite potential to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Must have excellent movement, clean and correct jump, as well as very brave. Ground covering, light gallop is another must. Will only look at geldings. CCI 3 star winners preferred although will look at horses with a high placing. Must be between 7-9 years old. Not fussy on color, although no paints, palominos, appaloosas. If grey must be very good at staying clean. Budget: looking to stay under $5000.

I got a giggle out of that, as will most of you. It seems absurd, and very exaggerated. However, after thought, it seems only a little crazy, and not far away from some requests that I’ve gotten before. I’m completely small fish in terms of selling horses and making matches, but even I’ve heard some ridiculous things.

Let’s get real — when buying a horse, your budget dictates how picky you can be, and that’s a bottom line. If you don’t have a limit to your budget, you can write down a list of every single characteristic you desire for your dream horse, and somebody, somewhere, will find it for you. But that’s not the case for most of us!

When spending thousands of dollars on a horse, you should definitely know what you want, and what suits you. You should also know what categories are most important to you.

Is color more important than temperament? Where are you willing to compromise? There will always be a compromise, unless you are a very, very lucky person.

So in order to be reasonable about expectations within a budget, let’s consider the categories that define value for a horse, or at least the major ones.

I propose these: age, height, sex, current and future soundness, natural athletic ability & style over fences, elasticity and movement on the flat, temperament, intelligence, rideability, professional versus amateur/junior suitable, color, ease of management, number of quirks, current level of training, and potential to be successful and competitive at any given level.

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Given those categories, the Unicorn is this: a 7 year old, 16.1 hand bay gelding with a blaze and four white socks, even temperament and good work ethic, winning at Preliminary with the ability to go to Rolex, rideable by a beginner but also desired by Boyd Martin for the Olympics.

It passed a vetting two weeks ago with not a single blip on his x-rays, tight and accurate style over fences as he chooses the perfect distance himself with no assistance, scores under a 25 every time out in dressage, has beautiful ground manners and requires only a scoop of grain and a few flakes of timothy hay per day.

If I just described what you’re looking for, God bless, and good luck.

The rest of us are left to compromise on our dream horse, and figure out what we can live with, and what we can improve. Part of this is knowing yourself as a rider, and having a realistic grasp on what is a good match for you in the long run.

Before you shop, know your style! Do you like a horse that is light off the aids, or one that forgives your swinging lower leg and mis-timed pull before a fence? Do you like the idea of a Ferrari but when you get one, it’s a bit frightening? This is my personal pet peeve.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: there is no shame in riding an average horse if that is what makes you comfortable and happy! Powerful and athletic horses, while beautiful and impressive, are harder to ride and usually require more from their rider. They aren’t for everybody.

When on a tight budget, it is very tempting to get a green horse that fulfills all the other categories except for the level of training. This is also not a good idea for every rider.

I can’t say that I disagree with the idea of a green horse and a green rider, because that would be hypocritical of me, but it’s got to be a very good match.

Green horses aren’t well behaved because they #wokeuplikethis, they are good because they are ridden consistently and with intentional purpose by a trainer and not just a rider.

I decided a while ago that there are three things I don’t compromise on, and the rest I’m pretty flexible about. I need the soundness and the solid build for longevity, I need an intelligent and reasonable brain, and I need a horse with decent obvious athletic ability.

Everything else in between, I can probably deal with. I don’t care what height it is, what color it is, if it bucks, if it’s unbroke, or what sex it is. I have preferences obviously, but when it comes down to it, I know my limits.

So if you’re shopping this spring, be realistic about what makes sense for you, your budget and your goals. As a seller of horses, my goal is to make the best match possible, and I think that’s true of most sellers. However, we can’t help you much if you want a Unicorn that won’t roll in the mud!

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

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It’s a good thing I get to ride a very, very cute baby OTTB every day, because walking up and down the plowed driveway is pretty dull stuff.

First FEI event of the year this weekend at Red Hills!! This is very exciting stuff, and I’m buried in fresh snow watching from afar as my friends and fellow competitors enjoy warmer but classically wet Red Hills weather. Has there been a Red Hills in memory without a flash flood storm? I think not. Dressage starts today, and Jenni Autry will be on the scene bringing you live action all weekend, so we can enjoy her new fancy camera and her always impeccable attention to fun and fascinating details.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Southern Pines H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Red Hills CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Ride Times] [Schedule] [Live Scores]

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

News From Around The Globe:

Oliver Townend has taken some time out of his busy riding schedule to weigh in on the issues of danger in Eventing. He proposes that we force stricter course design regulations, and include mandatory brush on fences that have unknown takeoff points, such as steps up or down. He also takes umbrage with the response to fatalities that he finds amongst some riders. Do you agree? [Oliver Townend on Eventing Safety]

Merial announced that they have acquired both Legend and Marquis from Bayer HealthCare. The addition of these two products to the Merial portfolio solidifies the company’s position as a leader in performance horse health care. Steve Mahoney, head of U.S. large animal, Merial says, “Legend and Marquis both have long histories of success and enhance our existing product offerings to all horse owners, whether they trail ride, compete locally or have stood in the winner’s circle on the national stage.” [Merial Acquires Legend and Marquis]

Do you have a Horse of a Different Color? One of the most wonderful aspects of this sport is its diversity, from ponies to draft horses and everything in between. Eventing Nation is looking for stories to feature in our “Horse of a Different Color” series! If you own or ride a horse or pony that has been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed, email lindsey@eventingnation.com.

Everyone likes to have fancy “show only” stuff that is a little unnecessary but also super pretty and fun to have. This leather lead with a brass snap is one of those things, and I’ve been coveting it for a while. How good would it look paired with a double stitched leather halter? Amazing is the answer. You can also get a custom brass nameplate to go with it. Bonus: it can also double as a “help my horse get into the start box on cross country” lead, which is something I’m well acquainted with. [Leather Lead with Solid Brass Snap]

Got a grey horse? Horse & Country is collecting “Fifty Shades of Grey”, so go here and submit a photo of your grey horse! [50 Shades]

And congratulations to Amanda Knutson, this week’s Fab Freebie winner! Amanda has won a pair of Ariat Lakeland H2O boots – a big thanks goes out to Ariat for providing this week’s fabulous prize. Make sure to check back Monday to enter to win next week’s freebie!

FLAIR Nasal Strips Master Class course walk: Rolex 2014 with Buck Davidson, Hawley Bennett and Ralph Hill. 

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Sinead Halpin and Grey Area prep for Red Hills. Photo courtesy of Sinead's FB. Sinead Halpin and Grey Area prep for Red Hills. Photo courtesy of Sinead's FB.

I’ll admit, I’m pretty jealous of Jenni Autry right now, who is down in Florida enjoying the 80 degrees and horse activities. Meanwhile, I’m back in VA and we have more snow predicted for today, followed by a week of nice weather, which basically means hot Virginia mud, and horses that cake themselves in puddles of muck. Thank god I don’t have any grey horses! Most of mine don’t even have white on them, which is a blessing in disguise. Otherwise I think I would go insane in the spring.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Southern Pines H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Red Hills CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Schedule]

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

News From Around The Globe:

Excitement is building for the 2nd Annual Cloud 11 ~Gavilan North LLC Carolina International, including the Eventing on the Red Carpet event. On the Saturday night of the event, CI will honor David O’Connor, J. Michael Plumb, Lefreda Williams and Jimmy Wofford and celebrating their profound effect on the sport of Eventing. The foursome will be recognized as Icons of the Sport. I was present at this party last year, and trust me, it’s not one you want to miss. [Evening on the Red Carpet] [Carolina International]

Giuseppe della Chiesa is back designing Badminton this year, and hoping for a slightly higher rate of success this spring. Last year only 32 horses made it to the final day, which was only 38.6% of the field, the lowest completion rate at the event on record. With 23 combinations eliminated between fences 13 and 18, the 2015 course will have made that specific area a little less challenging, and is running the course in the opposite direction. You can check out the interview with Giuseppe below in the video. [Badminton Design Changes for 2015]

Eventers competing at Barroca d’Alva in Portugal this weekend have decided to wear armbands honoring the memory of Francisco Seabra, who died in a cross country fall last month. The armbands are black, blue, and cream, and feature a silhouette of Francisco’s head with a helmet, and has the words “Faith” and “Smile” printed around that in four languages. The idea was created and promoted by the event organizers, who gave all the riders the armbands. [Riders Support Francisco Seabra]

Do you have a Horse of a Different Color? One of the most wonderful aspects of this sport is its diversity, from ponies to draft horses and everything in between. Eventing Nation is looking for stories to feature in our “Horse of a Different Color” series! If you own or ride a horse or pony that has been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed, email lindsey@eventingnation.com.

Well acquainted with the mischievous horse? You’ll love this. [13 Situations Your Horse Finds Funnier Than You]

An interview with Badminton course designer Giuseppe della Chiesa. 

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Product Review: Equiline Grip Bandages

Equiline Grip Bandages are designed to provide support while maintaining breathability. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Equiline Grip Bandages are designed to provide support while maintaining breathability. Photo by Kate Samuels.

As horse people and owners of equine athletes, we are positively bananas about our boots, wraps and bandages. I’ve never known a rider who didn’t harbor a secret obsession with accoutrements for the legs of their horse, and I am no different. I have boots for cross country, boots for hacking, boots for jumping, wraps for dressage, and wraps for the horse that rubs.

I’m always interested in the new technologies that are coming into the world of tack and accessories, so I was intrigued to try these Equiline Grip Bandages.

These bandages are designed to work the same way that polos would, as support bandages for training work with your horse. You can use them plain on the leg, as I did, or you can use them over an under-wrap, which provides extra protection and support for a horse that might be coming back from an injury or have an extremely unusually shaped leg.

If you have a horse with lots of splints or a horse coming back from a tendon injury, you know how important it is to find a good workout wrap that won’t chafe, but will also provide support. Here it is!

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a nice feel to them, with neoprene inside and a soft cloth on the outside, which comes in blue, black, brown and white, so you can customize it to your liking and to match the color of your horse.

The bandages are very lightweight, but do not mistake that to mean that they are not durable, because they have so far proved to be quite hardy. The light weight is advantageous though, because as we all know, you don’t want to be weighing your horse’s legs down any more than necessary when working them.

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a neoprene inside that doesn't rub the horse, and a lot of little holes that add to the breathability for the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The Equiline Grip Bandages have a neoprene inside that doesn’t rub the horse, and a lot of little holes that add to the breathability for the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The coolest and most obvious feature of these bandages is the addition of tiny holes throughout the material. These holes are intended to increase breathability and circulation while on the horse. The bandages are made of stretchy material, but the holes do not make them weak in any way when stretched to roll them up or apply to the leg.

Equiline is known for their technology in fabrics, as the founder was originally involved in the fashion world before delving into the horse world. The Equiline Grip Bandages have benefitted from some of this knowledge, as they feature something called “graduate compression”.

This is a system that Equiline loves, and they consider the secret of well-being for the horses’ legs. The way that the bandages are constructed, and the way that the slight stretch works when applied to the leg offers a compression and support like no other bandage.

These bandages also shed water in a really effective way, so they officially become the first bandages that I can take on a hack and cross a river with! That is exciting to me, because there are many times that I want to do some flatwork followed by a hack, but can’t go anywhere muddy or with a water crossing because I’m wearing polos. I know this is a first world problem, but it’s an issue nonetheless, and I’m glad to have found a solution by wearing these Equiline Grip Bandages.

The Equiline Grip Bandages come in white, blue, brown or black, and look pretty stylish when applied. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The Equiline Grip Bandages come in white, blue, brown or black, and look pretty stylish when applied. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I used these bandages recently to do some trot sets in the snow, because that is all that I’m relegated to right now. Nyls, unfortunately, believes that one must high-step the entire time through the snow, which makes me pretty nervous for his tendon health, and I was looking to provide a little more protection and support than just using a brushing boot. These bandages worked great, and they didn’t hold any moisture from the snow at all!

They are also super easy to clean, and you can brush all the dirt or hair off them with a stiff brush, and even squirt them off and they dry in a cinch.

As previously mentioned, the bandages come in navy blue, black, brown and white. They usually retail at around $33.00 and you can find them at a variety of U.S. dealers for Equiline products.

The Working Student Diaries: Bradley Champagne Joins Team Windurra

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a working student for a top level eventing barn? The grueling hours, the non-stop learning curve, and the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from the best. We are delighted to introduce our newest series, The Working Student Diaries, in which we reveal the truth behind the experience from a first hand source. If you weren’t ever able to be a working student, or if you’re thinking about becoming one in the future, now is your chance to get the low-down, and we hope you enjoy it!

Bradley enjoying some winter hacks before the spring season with Boyd's Advanced horse trot set. Brad is on Neville on the far left. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Bradley enjoying some winter hacks before the spring season with Boyd’s Advanced horse trot set. Brad is on Neville on the far left. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin.

Bradley Champagne is a 20-year-old aspiring professional eventer who hails from Guelph, Ontario and currently competes his horse C Taz Go at the Preliminary level. He took a chance on applying for a working student position at Windurra with Boyd Martin and was pleasantly surprised to receive an offer last summer. In late September, Bradley began his work for Boyd and has enjoyed it thus far. I asked him to give us a little intro into his riding career and life, so that we can get to know both him and Taz as we go forward with the series.

From Bradley:

My mom had been involved with horses long before I was born so I was immediately put into the “horse world.” I remember stories of me in a baby carrier on my mom’s back while she was hacking and me falling asleep. This definitely gave me the ability to sleep anywhere! Over the next few years I took lessons at a local farm. When I was six, I got a little, black New Forest/Welsh pony named Ace. Although he was your typical little pony who I got bucked off more times than I could count, he gave me the passion for riding.

When my mom heard about a three-day eventing clinic at the Caledon Hunt Club in Caledon, Ontario, I took little Ace. I can remember the dressage not really being qualified as dressage, but when we got out on that cross-country course we both fell in love with eventing. The coach for this portion was Ann Morgan, and Ace and I quickly got the nickname “cross-country machine.”

Just over two years ago I began the search for a horse that could have the potential to at least go Training, having competed through Novice previously. After spending a summer looking for this horse my mom and I purchased a 9-year-old Thoroughbred/Westphalian gelding named Taz. For a horse who had hacked until age 5 it was sort of a shot in the dark, but after I jumped him over an oxer during the first trial I got that “knowing” feeling.

He was purchased a few days later on August 31. In late September we did a small local Beginner Novice event and a Novice event a few weeks later. We upgraded to Training part way through the next season and finished our season with our first win. After going down to Florida with Karl Slezak Eventing that winter we gained a lot of confidence at the Training level. Once we returned back to Canada, we won a Training and upgraded to Preliminary.

In October of 2013 I was working for Karl Slezak in Canada and spent January through April in Ocala, Florida with him. In early April I started looking for the “next level” of working student positions. When I got a message about Boyd Martin having a position available I thought “can’t hurt emailing.” I have to admit I was surprised but extremely excited when I got offered a position. I felt like I needed to compete in a few more Preliminary events in Canada before I made the move to Pennsylvania.

Bradley & Taz competing in Canada. Photo courtesy of Suzanna O'Connor.

Bradley & Taz competing in Canada. Photo courtesy of Suzanna O’Connor.

In late September of last year, I began at Windurra. I’m hoping to stay with Boyd for as long as I can because Taz and I have already improved more than I could have imagined. Besides improving as a rider, I have started to also gain knowledge about going from a rider to an athlete such as building your name, getting sponsors, managing your horse and managing a four-star level facility.

When I got to Boyd’s, my biggest weakness in eventing was show jumping. Taz isn’t the most careful jumper but we just had to figure each other out. Once we did, we slowly started to improve. Since we arrived in Aiken we really have improved in all three phases.

Having a detailed plan for the 2015 season really helped me get more determined and focused on improving and making the little things in my riding (leg and hand position) a priority to make a more smooth overall picture. For 2015 Taz and I are hoping to complete a CIC* event once we are back in Pennsylvania then travel to Bromont for their CCI*. For the longer term goal of 2015, we are hoping for an upgrade to Intermediate as a season conclusion.

Having goals for your competition year is important, but having goals for your long-term eventing career is equally important. I am like many younger eventers who dream of riding for their country at an international level, and being at Boyd’s has allowed me to turn this dream into a goal.

I am super excited to be a part of the Eventing Nation family, and I already have some awesome future blogs planned! Stay tuned for more insight into the Windurra Team and my journey with them!

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Pine Top isn't just for the big kids! Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Zobbe.

Pine Top isn’t just for the big kids! Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Zobbe.

If that picture doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. Indiana eventer Lee Ann Zobbe sent us this photo of her youngest student, Addie, riding her fantastic horse Blaze. Addie is 8 and Blaze is 14, and they were part of a group of eventers who came south to Pine Top for a few weeks to escape the winter and enjoy the spring events. Addie was thrilled to volunteer at the Advanced horse trials a little while ago, and was both a fence judge and a cross country warm up steward, proving that even the youngest ones can be the backbone of the sport. Afterwards, Addie got to zoom around on Blaze and jump herself!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days Farm II H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Sol Events at Circle T H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Twin Rivers Winter H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Live Scores]

News From Around The Globe:

The Kentucky Horse Park has graciously opened the Alltech Arena for schooling due to the inclement weather impacting Lexington and the surrounding horse community. Schooling times are 4-7 p.m. Feb. 26, Feb. 27 and March 2-6. Cost is $20 per horse; pay by check upon arrival or credit card over the phone only. Bring health papers and negative coggins for each horse, as well as a signed liability waiver. Email Nicole Rivera at Nicole.Rivera@ky.gov to sign up for schooling.

Interested in a lengthy Eric Smiley clinic extravaganza? Meghan Perry Eventing is hosting Eric for nine days, March 10-18, at Bridle Creek Farm in Aiken, SC. As a world-class trainer, CCI4* rider, FEI official and coach to the Belgian 2012 Olympic Team, Eric brings a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to the sport. There are opportunities for riders from Beginner Novice to Advanced, in the form of camps, two-day clinics, and private lessons. [Eric Smiley Visits Aiken]

Attention all Aiken Eventers! Kick off the eventing weekend at Sporting Days by attending a Young Rider benefit party TONIGHT, 5:30 to 8:30 at Tod’s Hill. No admission, lots of food and drinks and music! There will be a raffle to benefit USEA Young Riders and Aiken Equine Rescue, and you can come right off the course walk wearing your muck boots. Grab some food and drink, and check out the raffle! [Splendid Days Splendid Nights]

If you’re a young rider competing at Sporting Days this weekend, you should think about entering the Cross Border Young Rider Challenge! There is no extra cost to enter, and you can join a team or make your own team of friends. Open to all riders under 21, and extra prizes for the taking! Email Chris Donovan for your entry. [Cross Border Challenge]

Due to the success of previous George Morris clinics with the unruly Eventing crowd, he’s coming back for more. Set the date on your calendar, May 26-27th, George is coming to Cochranville PA to teach at Windurra. Get your notebooks out and your cameras ready to make some meme magic, because really, what is a George Morris clinic without memes these days? (Secret bonus to this post, Boyd is handing out his phone number, so you can prank him on text if you want). [Boyd & Silva Host George Morris]

Weird confession: I’m always super jealous of people who have matching custom director chairs in front of their stalls at events. For some reason, this always just seemed super cool to me! If you’re like me, you’ll have harbored a secret longing for your own pair for some time now. Great news guys: SmartPak can make you some custom colored and monogrammed chairs to take to shows and look fancy with! I’m totally getting some, and you should join me. [SmartPak Product of the Day]

Congrats to Krista Amos Degitz, the winner of a pair of Spursuaders in this week’s Fab Freebie giveaway! Check your email to claim your prize, Krista! Be sure to check out our product review on Spursuaders here, and you can buy your own pair at this link. [Fab Freebies]

Best of Blogs: Riding With An Open Focused Mind

 

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

Icabad Crane with Phillip Dutton in the irons. Photo by Barry Bornstein.

Icabad Crane with Phillip Dutton in the irons. Photo by Barry Bornstein.

It’s official, folks — America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred, AKA Icabad Crane, is now officially a Prelim horse! He made his debut at the level yesterday at Full Gallop Horse Trials, finishing in third place on his dressage score of 30. Phillip reported on his Facebook page that Icabad was the fastest horse on cross country by 36 seconds and had an absolute blast romping around the course.

This time last year, Icabad was making his eventing debut at the Beginner Novice level, which is a pretty impressive move up the levels. For a horse that ran the Preakness in 2008 and was so incredibly successful at racing, it’s unusual to be equally successful in another sport and a real testament to the OTTB breed!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Sporting Days Farm II H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

Sol Events at Circle T H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status]

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

News From Around The Globe:

Surefire Horse Trials is teaming up with Great Meadow CIC3* to make a historic eventing weekend extravaganza! As we all know, Great Meadow is hosting its first event in many years on June 19-21 of this year in the form of a fabulous CIC3*. This is the same weekend as Surefire HT, which hosts Beginner Novice through Intermediate every year and is amazing. They are now coordinating efforts so that riders and spectators can attend both events over three days and enjoy tailgating, mimosas, cross country and the best riders in the country. What could be better? Be sure to check out the video below! [Surefire Horse Trials]

The Kentucky Horse Park has graciously opened the Alltech Arena for schooling due to the inclement weather impacting Lexington and the surrounding horse community. Schooling times are 4-7 p.m. Feb. 26, Feb. 27 and March 2-6. Cost is $20 per horse; pay by check upon arrival or credit card over the phone only. Bring health papers and negative coggins for each horse, as well as a signed liability waiver. Email Nicole Rivera at Nicole.Rivera@ky.gov to sign up for schooling.

Attention all Aiken Eventers! Kick off the eventing weekend at Sporting Days by attending a Young Rider benefit party this Friday 5:30 to 8:30 at Tod’s Hill. No admission, lots of food and drinks and music! There will be a raffle to benefit USEA Young Riders and Aiken Equine Rescue, and you can come right off the course walk wearing your muck boots. Grab some food and drink, and check out the raffle! [Splendid Days Splendid Nights]

If you’re a young rider competing at Sporting Days this weekend, you should think about entering the Cross Border Young Rider Challenge! There is no extra cost to enter, and you can join a team or make your own team of friends. Open to all riders under 21, and extra prizes for the taking! Email Chris Donovan for your entry. [Cross Border Challenge]

Are you in need of a working student? We’re preparing a fresh list of Working Student Listings for the upcoming season, so if you’d like us to include your position, please send a description and contact information to sally@eventingnation.com. Our winter listings post was wildly successful! [Working Students Winter Listings]

Best of Blogs: The Myth of Natural Horsemanship

Surefire Eventing & Great Meadow team up for a fabulous weekend in Eventing!

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Desensitization: You’re Doing It Wrong

Nyls enjoying some spooky snow playtime. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Nyls enjoying some spooky snow playtime. Photo by Kate Samuels.

With my added hours inside due to winter weather, I tend to delve deeper than usual into the intellectual side of horse training, which is somewhat already my tendency. Each horse that I train, no matter what their purpose in life, is a puzzle waiting to be solved. I love this side of working with horses because the answer is never the same, and you are always learning something new.

Horses are tattle-tales when it comes to how they’ve been handled and ridden. If you’re paying attention, you can almost always tell what kind of training methods they have enjoyed or sometimes endured before coming into your hands. My musings lately have come from horses that I have worked with, and I’m about to ruffle some feathers, so bear with me here.

One particular technique has really been bothering me lately, and it basically makes no sense to me at all. This is the idea of “desensitization,” which is commonly used to lessen a horse’s reaction to foreign objects or situations. Basically, we have a horse that is frightened of something, and their fear response is undesirable for a variety of reasons, and we want him to stop behaving that way.

Horses, as a general rule, try to find a way to relieve pressure. This is why our systems of training are directly pressure and release oriented. You put pressure on the horse with your leg, he moves forward, you release. You put pressure on the reins, he stops, you release.

Thinking about it scientifically, the relief of pressure in this way is called “negative,” because the pressure is taken away. The removal of said pressure at a key time reinforces a behavior and makes it more likely to repeat. This is why we call it “negative reinforcement.” Horses learn to relax under consistent training in this system because there is always a solution to the problem and always an escape.

Bogey, a part of the program at Equine Welfare Society, enjoying the flurries. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Bogey, a part of the program at Equine Welfare Society, enjoying the flurries. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Desensitization is known scientifically as the process of “habituation,” which is defined as “the decrease of a response to a repeated eliciting stimulus that is not due to sensory adaption or motor fatigue.” 

If you go online or look at a book, there are infinite numbers of sources that show people supposedly “habituating” horses. They wave tarps, flap flags and sling ropes at horses so that he’ll become “habituated,” “desensitized” or “used to it.” The problem lies when the trainer doesn’t ever offer an escape for the horse and never uses timing to release the pressure.

The trainer thinks, “I’ll just keep doing this until all his reactions are done with, and he’s “used to it.” The horse thinks, “Dear God how can I get away from this terrifying thing? What do I have to do to make it stop?!”

To flap something continuously is to create an unpredictable, uncontrollable and inescapable situation for a horse. He is then unable to find a way to relieve the pressure, and so he moves away, he rears, he bucks, he stands still, he bolts and yet it still continues. Eventually, he stops because, well, he doesn’t know what else to do.

This is not “desensitization”; this is called learned helplessness, defined as “a behavior in which an organism forced to endure aversive, painful or otherwise unpleasant stimuli, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are escapable. Presumably, the organism has learned that it cannot control the situation and therefore does not take action to avoid the negative stimulus.”

Leo also enjoying some snow. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Leo also enjoying some snow. Photo by Kate Samuels.

We’ve all seen this training method in action before, and it’s not relegated to any one discipline more than another. Sometimes, it even seems to work because the horse does “get used to it.”

Horses who have been trained in this manner often suffer a diminished ability to train and cooperate with other humans in the future. You have effectively broken the consistency in your training method, and the horse has only learned to mask his fear, but has not conquered it in a confident way.

A good trainer knows that a combination of negative reinforcement and slow steps in the right direction are a better base for resolving issues. Such a trainer would know that fear is natural, especially with horses, and there are ways to teach the horse to resolve his fear and ways to change bad things to good by way of association.

If you are teaching your horse to rein-back, you do not simply pull on the reins until you have backed all around the arena and your horse can pull off a coordinated rein-back on command. You teach him to shift his weight back, and you reward and release. You then teach him to take one step, and you reward and release. Getting five steps in a row in a happy and coordinated manner might take you several months, but you’ll get it. This is good training.

Why then, if you have a horse afraid of tarps or frightened of you touching his ears, would you resort to a method that “solves” it in one very long session? You must know that you are teaching your horse to simply give up and to choke back his instincts.

Horses can change for us, and they often do despite all odds otherwise. A well-trained horse understands things not because of “frequent exposure,” but because his trainer has an approach that is always predictable and has well-timed releases. It’s inexcusable to flap things at a frightened horse.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

Lyra DiCostanzo riding her OTTB partner, Pleasant Signal. Photo courtesy of Kimberly DiCostanzo.

Lyra DiCostanzo riding her OTTB partner, Pleasant Signal. Photo courtesy of Kimberly DiCostanzo.

Area I eventer and winter riding enthusiast Kimberly DiCostanzo sent us the above picture, and it definitely gave me a giggle. Her 2 1/2 year-old daughter, Lyra, is an aspiring eventer as well! Lyra’s partner is 16-year-old OTTB, Pleasant Signal, who apparently loves to ham it up for the camera. To check out Kimberly’s blog and see more funny memes about weather and eventing, click here. Go Area I! I admire your determination!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Advanced H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores & Times] [@eventingnation for live updates]

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to Nicole Fuentes, the winner of this week’s Fab Freebie from Professional’s Choice! Nicole will receive a brand spankin’ new pair of the Pro Performance Show Jump Boots — snazzy! [Fab Freebie: Professional’s Choice]

Our deepest condolences to everybody associated with Pine Top Farm and especially Glenn, who lost his mother, Ruth Wilson this week. Ruth was always very active in the farm, and greatly enjoyed the horse shows that occurred there regularly. She always brought camellias to the farm office for everybody to enjoy, and she will be greatly missed. [Pine Top Eventing]

If you’ve got show jumping questions or woes, check out this great set of questions and answers. International show jumper Paul Crago teamed up with Horse & Hound to answer seven of the most common questions that people have about show jumping. No question is too obvious! If you have a horse that rushes, hits poles behind, or you are struggling with related distances, check this out. [7 Jumping Questions You Thought Were Too Obvious To Ask]

No show jumping queries? How about some questions you’ve been meaning to ask your dressage trainer, but haven’t gotten around to? Horse & Hound is on the job again, with nine answers to some pretty common dressage questions. Read along to be educated by Debbie Lush, a British dressage judge and trainer, who knows her stuff. [9 Questions You’ve Been Meaning To Ask Your Dressage Trainer]

Were you a participant or spectator at the recent William Fox-Pitt clinic at Stable View Farm in Aiken? Are you dying to relive the action and savor the knowledge of Eventing Jesus? You can order your full video today! Produced by What’s Up Media, you can pick up a DVD in the office at Stable View, or you can order one by mail. [Order Your DVD of WFP]

Wild For Life Foundation (WFLF) is rallying the troops for hay to feed to horses in need in the U.S. Due to skyrocketing prices and a drought last year, more than the usual number of horses are left hungry this winter. Donations big and small are coming in, and WFLF is handing out hay to equine rescue operations up and down both the east and west coasts. Hay is definitely the single most costly item for any equine rescue, and every bale helps. [Read More Here] [Donate Here]

Rubber reins….can you ever have enough? In my opinion, the answer is no. I found myself in a precarious situation a few weeks ago, when suddenly my collection of reins no longer matched my collection of bridles. One of my reins broke on a young horse, and sadly two of my favorite pairs of reins reached the end of their life by melting in my hands. I just ordered these awesome Harwich Inside Rubber Reins from Smartpak, because they are leather on the outside and rubber on the inside, which looks beautiful and still functions in an awesome way. Also, they are completely reasonably priced, because sometimes I think it’s crazy to pay as much for a pair of reins as I would for a bridle. [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

 

Check out Headley Brittania’s eldest son, Brittania’s Mail (by Jaguar Mail) jumping a pretty big jump…looks like he got his talent from his parents for sure!

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Thursday News & Notes from Smartpak

Eventer Natalie Hollis says, "This is how we feel about winter!!". Photo courtesy of Natalie's FB.

Eventer Natalie Hollis says, “This is how we feel about winter!” Photo courtesy of Natalie’s FB.

There is a good portion of the eventing crowd that stayed in Virginia for the winter, as we figure it’s mostly south enough to avoid the worst of the worst winter weather, but sometimes, we regret that decision. No, we don’t have 8 feet of snow, but when the temps dip into the negative measurements, something just snaps inside.

I don’t think I could physically wear more clothing than I currently am wearing to go outside, and when my eyes tear up from wind, the tears freeze on my eyelashes, sometimes causing a dangerous situation where my eyes freeze shut. This, I found out, is not good when trying to navigate frozen pathways in a mule. I’m pretty sure that Natalie Hollis’ picture above encapsulates all of this.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

News From Around The Globe:

It’s part hunting, part eventing, and part steeplechasing…it’s the Ledbury Hunt Golden Button Challenge! Covering three miles and 25 obstacles including ditches, brush, and rail jumps, 64 riders started but only 39 finished. If you watch the helmet cam, you’ll know why… [Golden Button Challenge]

You know what’s really terrible? When the British think spring has sprung, and we’re stuck ten feet under snow drifts. Horse & Hound was inspired by warmer temps and sunny days to make this list, and we’re hating them a little for it. I’m just hoping that by reading this I can dream hard enough about spring weather, and wake up to my dreams come true. [12 Signs Spring Has Nearly Sprung]

C4 is celebrating the new eventing season by announcing new sponsorships, and expanding into the realm of saddle pads and tack! They just announced their support of Siobhain O’Connor, a long-listed Canadian eventer who embodies the type of rider that C4 loves to sponsor. They are also taking their good reputation in the production of belts and putting it into the creation of saddle pads and tack in the near future, so keep an eye on the C4 site. Don’t forget, every C4 purchase benefits a charity of your choosing! [Equestrian Belts]

Elisa Wallace is on the news again for her work with her mustangs, this time on Fox News. Focusing on her recent success with the popular little grey mare, Hwin, Elisa was interviewed on how she tames the mustangs, and how passionate she is about the hardy little breed. Placing fourth in this year’s Millionaire Mustang Challenge, Hwin has also begun her recognized Eventing career, and won over the hearts of many. [Taming One of Nature’s Finest]

Best of Blogs: A Valentines Day Diamond Disaster

Yesterday, I took a fun hack on one of the rescue ponies from the Equine Welfare Society. Gotta get some helmet cam action somehow!

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Make Me A Match: Valentine’s Day Edition

Dale Hinman and Adrienne Classen of Wits End Eventing were kind enough to collaborate with Eventing Nation on this new feature series, Make Me A Match. The idea is to take mares volunteered by EN readers and explore a scientific way of matching her with a stallion to create the best possible eventing progeny. If you haven’t already, check out our article on the Wits End Eventing breeding process, and then enjoy this insight into a premiere U.S. eventing breeding operation! 

Christina Bock & Buffalo Princess. Photo courtesy of Christina.

Christina Bock & Buffalo Princess. Photo courtesy of Christina

From Dale & Adrienne:

We were overwhelmed with 57 entries and many amazing mares including successful CCI2* horses and one lovely mare that ran Rolex. The decision was extremely difficult, but, in the end, the Valentine’s Day spirit overcame us, and we picked an up-and-coming mare that was hard not to love, Christina Bock’s Buffalo Princess. We also felt that she had the most to offer in terms of explaining what we think about when selecting a stallion match.

Buffalo Princess (Olmodavor x Neon Bright, Alphabet Soup) is a 9-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred currently competing at Preliminary. Physically, she is well put together and built uphill. Her trot is regular although not spectacular, but she has a nice balanced canter. What we really loved was her bright eye and her fantastic attitude. She looked happy to negotiate the gymnastics, she was forward and she was smart about where she put her feet. While her pedigree lacks big names in the first three generations, her breeding really shines in the fourth generation and beyond. The importance of this will become evident later.

Physical attributes: As mentioned above, our chosen mare has good confirmation and a great attitude. Like many full Thoroughbreds, however, her gaits and her jump could use a bit of Warmblood flair.

Pedigree and Linebreeding: When analyzing a pedigree, we think in terms of linebreeding, a technique that has been successfully used by both the racehorse industry and many Warmblood registries. As mentioned above, Buffalo Princess has some fantastic things going for her in her “engine room”, the fourth to sixth generations in a pedigree.

Buffalo Princess' conformation. Photo courtesy of Christina.

Buffalo Princess’ conformation. Photo courtesy of Christina

Prince John: As far as U.S.-bred Thoroughbreds go, we seek out certain horses that we feel from research and from our database are particularly potent for breeding an upper-level event horse. Buffalo Princess has a smattering of good names (My Babu and Sir Gaylord to name a few), but what really stands out for our linebreeding goals is her 5×5 cross of Prince John. Prince John is the grandsire of Lonesome Glory, the five time American Champion steeplechaser, winner of the Breeder’s Cup Steeplechase and the first U.S. steeplechaser to win over $1 million in prize money.  He is also the damsire of Cozzene (also in Buffalo Princess’ pedigree), the 1985 American Champion Male Turf horse and winner of the Breeder’s Cup Mile.

Steeplechasers and turf horses are fantastic to see in an event horse pedigree. Prince John appears in the pedigrees of eventers such as Rather Well, Chilli Morning and Courageous Comet. Buffalo Princess’s two crosses of Prince John are nice, but what is even more impressive is that one of the crosses is through a son (Stage Door Johnny) and one is through a daughter (Ride the Trails). Having both male and female lines is called sex balancing and is an important part of linebreeding.

Tom Fool: Buffalo Princess has five crosses through three different lines of Tom Fool. Tom Fool is primarily known as the sire of Buckpasser who accounts for three of those lines. Buckpasser is an outstanding broodmare sire and stamina influence on modern Thoroughbreds, and we like stamina in event horses. All three of Buffalo Princess’s Buckpasser lines are through daughters. Tom Fool is in the pedigree of upper-level horses including Sharon White’s newest CCI4* partner Wundermaske and Karen O’Connor’s old partner Worth The Trust.

Goals: Improve stadium jump and trot and find more lines of Tom Fool and/or Prince John, sex balancing if possible. As always, keep our percentage Thoroughbred around (or above) 75%. The stage is set, and the search for a stallion begins.

Here’s a short clip of Buffalo Princess and Christina in a jumping lesson:

Low Hanging Fruit: You probably have realized by now that Chilli Morning is not only listed above as a carrier of Prince John but is also not too shabby an eventer and just happens to be a stallion, so let’s take a look.

The top influence when crossed with this mare turns out to be Northern Dancer with second place going to Secretariat. Northern Dancer is a nice surprise as he is known for passing jumping ability, and Secretariat you’ve likely heard of! The combination weighs in at around 81% Thoroughbred and should succeed in improving jump and gaits (even William Fox-Pitt can’t get third at WEG on a dud).

Out of the Box: When it comes to adding jump to eventers, some warmblood lines show up regularly in the top ranks. If you have looked at any of the horses we’ve bred, you’ll notice Cor de la Bryere, Ramiro Z and Alme Z.

With a bit of searching we found the stallion Amiro Z, a 2004 Dutch Warmblood who fits our needs nicely. The cross gives us 84% Thoroughbred and Amiro Z brings in a male line of Buckpasser (helping to sex balance) as well as bringing in Ramiro Z (sire of Olympic Gold and Silver medalists) and Alme Z (sire of two world champion and three Olympic jumpers) for jump and movement. An added bonus in this match is another line of Missy Baba (daughter of My Babu, grandsire of Bruce Davidson’s JJ Babu).

Hopefully this has provided some insight into our process and into why knowing what influential ancestors (not just parents) are in your horse’s pedigree is so important.

How can you not pick the Rolex horse you ask?  Because we are pleased to announce we will be making a few more matches in a short series for EN! If you’d like a personal consultation, contact us.

Buffalo Princess and Christina compete in the dressage phase:

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

The infamous warmup at Pine Top. Photo by Carrie Meehan.

The famous warmup at Pine Top. Photo by Carrie Meehan.

Yesterday I did some gallops in a huge field that magically has a long slow uphill on one side and somehow a much less steep downhill on the other side, which makes it incredibly fun and involves a lot less pulling from the beast. It was very windy, and briskly cold enough to start with a trot set with a wool quarter sheet, and then once we warmed up, take that off. I was listening to my “guilty pleasures” mix on my phone, and Nyls was thrilled to be doing gallops (he knows the beeping patterns of the big yellow watch and behaves accordingly). I was thinking that there is almost nothing better than sitting on an incredibly powerful horse that knows his job, loves it, and is just about as smart as you, hiking up your stirrups, and going for some gallops alone on a brisk day. I mean, this is basically why we are horse junkies, for moments like that.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Paradise Farm H.T. [Website] [Ride Times]

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

News From Around The Globe:

Congratulations to our 10 winners from this week’s Fab Freebie giveaway! If you see your name on this list, then check your email to find out how to claim your new pair of Equiflexsleeves! Our winners are: Jeannie Baggett, Marianne Blackmore, Michelle Eubanks, Stephanie Fitkin, Page Brooke Ferguson, Sarah Garber, Louise Jordan-Beam, Danielle Molnar, Catie Morgan, and Katie Wood. Congratulations to all! [Fab Freebie: Equiflexsleeve]

Do you have a crazy and/or weird talent that you’re dying to show off and use to win a cash prize?? Carolina International has a spot for you, with their inaugural talent show on March 21st! For $1,000 prize money, you can sing, dance, or juggle your way into infamy. You have to be affiliated with Eventing (duh) and submit an audition video via Facebook. [Enter Carolina’s Most Talented Here]

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we want to see your “Smooch Selfies”! Snap a photo of you smooching your horse and send it to us for a chance to win a prize pack from Kentucky Performance Products — horses make the best Valentines, right? [Smoochin’ Selfies for Valentine’s Day]

Photographing horses on the flat: an impressive skill that sometimes takes hours of practice, a good eye, and maybe a few extra throw away images. However, if you know what to look for, you can improve your ability to market your horses, and impress your friends! Horse & Hound has some great tips. [Photographing Dressage Horses]

As I just bought a load of beautiful timothy for my horses just two days ago, I’ve got hay on the mind. Knowing how and when to source your hay is one thing, but understanding the different types and their corresponding nutritional values is another. Good quality hay is the key to a good healthy horse, and that’s the goal for everyone. How do you balance having retirees or air ferns in the same barn as high performance athletes? Dr. David Ramey breaks it down. [Hay And Such]

Long-haired girls, let’s get together on this one. Now that the FEI has made it mandatory for the ladies (and the men, I’m looking at you Ludvig Svennerstal) to make sure their hair is neat and tidy under helmets, this means two things: 1) The FEI has made approximately one rule change so far that makes any sense and 2) You are probably in search of the ultimate hairnet that is sturdy and will contain all of your hair perfectly all day. I have hair that is….well….basically too long to be allowed, and I have found the only one that works for me is Real Women Ride No Knot Hairnet. Seriously, it keeps it on lockdown! [SmartPak Product Of The Day]

I love this idea, pairs teams of top show jumpers with little kids on ponies. How cool!

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

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Thursday News & Notes from SmartPak

When it's 70 degrees in February on a Sunday, I bathe all my ponies and take their glamour shots in the sun. Charlie, the newest member of my wolf pack. Photo by Kate Samuels.

When it’s 70 degrees in February on a Sunday, I bathe all my ponies and take their glamour shots in the sun. Charlie, the newest member of my wolf pack. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The next two weekends will have a lot of Eventers in Florida and South Carolina gnawing down their fingernails and obsessing just a little too hard over nicks or cuts anywhere on their horses. Why more than usual, you ask? Because it’s the first two Advanced horse trials of the year! Rocking Horse is this weekend, and Pine Top is next, and there will be plenty of first-timers hoping for their very first completion at the level. I always had equal parts admiration and incredulity for people who moved up to Advanced in February, because, well, it’s February! I’m a big fan of the winter break for both myself and my horses, and never could get my rear in gear to move up that early in the season. I’m into the mid-summer move up, so kudos to those brave enough to attempt it in the next two weekends, you’re more ambitious than me!

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Paradise Farm H.T. [Website] [Ride Times]

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

News From Around The Globe:

New Jersey has awarded their inaugural “Horse Personality of the Year” to a 42-year-old quarter horse named Lord Nelson. Lord Nelson is apparently committed to education, having served as both a football mascot and an interactive teacher for Rutgers University Equine Science Center. He also has his own blog, written from his perspective, of course. [Horse Personality Of The Year]

Valegro has basically won all of the possible championship titles in modern Dressage, and owns the world records, so now what? A recent article in Dressage News reported that Valegro and Carl Hester will both be retiring after the Rio 2016 Olympics, a headline that caused a pretty big stir. A retirement at only 14 years of age? Never worry, as H&H has the real story, straight from Carl himself. It sounds more like a reasonable approach one day at a time, and less like an ultimate decision. [H&H Reports on Carl & Valegro Rumors]

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we want to see your “Smooch Selfies”! Snap a photo of you smooching your horse and send it to us for a chance to win a prize pack from Kentucky Performance Products — horses make the best Valentines, right? [Smoochin’ Selfies for Valentine’s Day]

15 Horsey Life Hacks? [Yes Please]

Best of Blogs: Jan Byyny’s Reflections on Lessons Learned at Pine Top

A little bit of Pine Top flashback…

 

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Product Review: Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Leg Boots

Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots have incredibly reflective straps on them, even in the daylight. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots have incredibly reflective straps on them, even in the daylight. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The winter months bring us three main things: cold weather, mud everywhere, and many fewer hours of sun for riding. While there are a select lucky few who are able to ride during the dwindling daylight, a great number of riders have to resort to different methods of riding at night. Some have access to indoor arenas, and others have to ride outside, which is how the recent interest in reflective riding gear has emerged.

Horze Equestrian has an entire line of reflective accoutrements for both horse and rider, aimed at increasing visibility and safety during dusk or nighttime rides. While they have everything from reflective bridle covers to reflective quarter sheets, I got my hands on their Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Leg Boots.

Upon first inspection, the boots surprised me with how pleasantly lightweight they were in my hand. They aren’t cumbersome in any way, either for application, or for the horse to wear as he exercises. Your horse appreciates lightweight workout gear almost as much as you do, and I enjoyed this aspect of the bZeen Reflect Rider Front Leg Boots.

The straps on the Horse bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots are wide and sturdy, making it easy to apply them firmly and evenly to the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

The straps on the Horse bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots are wide and sturdy, making it easy to apply them firmly and evenly to the leg. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Of course, the primary aspect of these boots is that they will definitely increase the safety of you and your horse when you’re riding on trails or roads with limited visibility. The velcro straps that secure the boots onto the leg are incredibly reflective, as you can see in these photos. They reflected the sunlight right back at me, creating quite a glare. They are extremely well equipped to pick up any light source and throw it back to any onlookers.

The second purpose of the bZeen Reflect Rider Front Leg Boots is to provide support and protection for your horse during exercise. Except for the reflective straps, these boots are identical to the Horze ProSoft Protective Front Boots, which are noted for their ability to protect and support the tendons and ligaments during a workout.

The boots are neoprene inside with a supportive grooves for the tendons and ligaments, and additional patches of suede for extra protection. There are three wide straps along the straight part of the leg, and one wide strap around the fetlock that acts as a brace for the joint, helping to prevent hyperextension of the fetlock joint. It was very easy to establish even pressure along the legs, which is always of the utmost importance when applying bandages or support boots.

A back view of the bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots. Photo by Kate Samuels.

A back view of the bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots. Photo by Kate Samuels.

I took my Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots out for a ride, working first on the flat and then proceeding to a hack around the countryside. The boots stayed perfectly in place, with no slipping or rotating throughout the ride. While I did mention that they are quite light to hold, they are also very durable, and have very high quality details, which would indicate a good level of longevity.

The Horze bZeen Reflect Rider Front Boots serve to increase safety and visibility during rides in limited light, but also provide good support to the integral structures of your horse’s legs during exercise.

Now is a great time to buy these boots, as they are 30% off! They retail for $37.76, and you can check them out here.

Go Horze Equestrian! Go safety while riding! Go awesome protective boots!