Lorraine Jackson
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Lorraine Jackson

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About Lorraine Jackson

Staff Writer at Eventing Nation, Horse Nation, and Jumper Nation.

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Tuesday Video from SpectraVET: Nick Skelton & Big Star Retire

It was the end of an era for a horse and rider who opted to go out together after finishing in style: 2016 Individual Olympic Gold Medalists Nick Skelton and Big Star officially retired Sunday at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

In front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, family, friends, fellow Great Britain team riders and a massive standing crowd, Nick and Big Star hung up both saddle and spurs at the country’s most prestigious horse show. At 59 years old, Nick has spent more than four decades at the upper echelon of the sport, and is one of the oldest individual gold medalists in Olympic history in any sport.

Big Star makes his retirement at only 14, but after an injury in the fall, Nick and his team made the decision the pair would complete their careers together, and that Big Star has done his part for show jumping.

After a final victory gallop, Nick removed Big Star’s saddle and went for a final lap in-hand in front of a jubilant — albiet tearful — British crowd. Grab a tissue before watching the video!

“I’ve represented my country over 180 times and I’ve been very proud of every moment,” Nick said. “I’d do it all again if I could.”

We wish Nick and Big Star the happiest of retirements together.

Why SpectraVET?

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SpectraVET is committed to providing only the highest-quality products and services to our customers, and to educating the world in the science and art of laser therapy.

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Rolex Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

In the vet box after cross country. Photo by Andrew Jones (@rkclmr05/Instagram)

Another cross country day at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, another sprouting of new dandelions in the grass at the Kentucky Horse Park. Dreams were fulfilled and dreams were broken. That’s why we play the game. If we all went out and rode them clear every Saturday, there’d be no point in attempting it. Sometimes the failure is the thing that makes you regroup and come back twice as hard the next year. Sometimes it’s the thing that makes you wonder why you didn’t go into accounting like your mother said you should.

But most important, every horse came back to the barn tonight to get ice boots, massages, electrolytes and lots of love from all their connections. Hearts may get broken on Rolex Saturday, but if every horse gets home safe, there is nothing more we can ask of this magnificent sport.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, Course Preview, EN TailgateEN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Action:

Fresno County Horse Park HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

University of New Hampshire Spring HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring HT: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Sunday Links:

Zara Tindall Third After Rolex Cross Country – “He Traveled Really Well”

From RK3DE Champion to Course Designer: Derek di Grazia on Cross-Country

Eventers from India aspire to participate in next Asian Games

The Event College at Rolex: The XC Vet Box with Max Corcoran

Not George Morris Approved: Unicorn Tack

High fliers: Aviation grade tech for revolutionary horse shoes

The Event College at Rolex: The Teton Rails with Jennifer McFall

Sunday Video:

 

Best of JN: Melanie Smith Taylor’s Purple Trailer

GHM with the US Team of (From L-R:) Joe Fargis, Melanie Smith Taylor, Anne Kursinski, and Katie Monahan Prudent after they won the Nations Cup at Rome in 1983. Photo Credit: L’Année Hippique, Courtesy of Jennie Carleton.

There’s a dark allure to the Global Champions Tour for me. One the one hand, the grandeur and spectacle of it all is mesmerizing. On the other hand, it also makes the whole dream of it feel so far away.

It sometimes feels like they’re literally living on another planet from us. A world filled with first class tickets from one show to the next, and a team of people to get you there, while we change a muddy tire on our run-down truck on the side of the road for the umpteenth time. It’s amazing and depressing all at once.

It brings me back to earth when you see moments like the one we brought you last year of Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut spreading their own shavings at a show, or the humble attitude and graciousness of McLain Ward after we won the FEI World Cup Final. But my favorite “YOU CAN DO THIS” anecdote comes from a little further back: Olympic gold medalist Melanie Smith Taylor.

In Unrelenting: The Real Story—Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of Excellence by George H. Morris, Melanie provides a candid vision of her introduction to the man who would launch her career. At the time (the late 1960s), she had only taken lessons with her mother and at her local pony club, but her mother was a good horsewoman, and knew her daughter was the real deal. They’d heard George Morris could make solid riders into champions, and in Melanie’s words,

“We hitched up our purple station wagon to our matching two-horse trailer and drove eight hours on two-lane roads to Germantown, Tennessee for a lesson with him.”

If you consider everything you know about GHM, you can imagine how horrified he was at the sight of that purple concoction. You can guess the looks she got from other riders. But dang, the girl could ride.

She had to make a few more good impressions on him before she got her shot, but finally, he invited her to come along to the winter circuit in Florida. When she won the first recognized jumper class she ever entered, George invested in her 100% until the day she won her Olympic Gold Medal.

Melanie had to work ten times as hard as his other students – trading lessons for grunt labor of mucking stalls, braiding, and exercising horses. But that hard work turned her into a machine, and she never took a single lesson for granted. Arguably, having less resources didn’t hold Melanie back – it made her into a champion.

“I’ll tell you this: I never paid for a lesson with George ever, my entire life,” Melanie said. “He was so good to me. He knew I couldn’t afford it and that I would work for everything.”

Melanie of course went on to be one of only two riders to ever win the Triple Crown of American Show Jumping: The American Invitational, the International Jumping Derby, and the American Gold Cup. She won the FEI World Cup Final in 1982, and was part of team gold at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. She made it happen through sheer will and hard work, not through dollars and cents.

We know money is what makes the world go round, but if you’re breaking your back to stay in the game, never forget the deep-rooted principles of Melanie’s success:

  1. Never be embarrassed by being scrappy – own it. If a matching purple station wagon and horse trailer are what you’ve got to work with, then you’ve got skin in the game. Own your reality, and then work and ride your guts out.
  2. Find mentors and benefactors who believe in you. Melanie is one of many riders whose career was made by generous geniuses of the sport who saw a spark and fueled them to become a flame. Show your spark, and share it with the right people.
  3. See yourself the way your mother sees you. When Melanie first rode with George, her mother was a sensible but firm advocate. When George asked Mrs. Smith where she wanted her daughter to end up, she responded with, “How about the Olympic Team?” Be that advocate and pursue that confidence in yourself every day until you reach your goal, then set a new goal.

If the pinque coat is the thing you want more than anything else in the world, do not let money stop you. Do not make excuses. Do not give up. This is the great adventure of our sport, and you have the same right to glory as anyone else.

Go Melanie, Go Jumping, but most of all, GO YOU.


If you’re interested in Unrelenting: The Real Story—Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of Excellence, visit Trafalgar Square Books online to pick up a copy. Melanie Smith Taylor also has a recently released book called Riding With Life: Lessons from the Horse which you can purchase here

Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

Photo courtesy of Gabby Smith.

A big congratulations and good luck to a longtime barnmate of mine, Gabby Smith, who is soon headed off to beautiful sunny California to be a working student at Next Level Eventing. Gabby will be gaining entry into a world-class program, and the gals at NLE will be gaining one of hardest-working young women I’ve ever come across. Our loss is California’s gain, but we wish her the absolute best of luck in pursuing her goals!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Plantation Field April H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

River Glen Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Holly Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Sunday Links:

First timers shine for their place on the opening FEI Eventing Nations Cup team

New leader sought for New Zealand’s top eventers

Kent Farrington is the Fastest at Jumping Antwerp

In Defense of the Horse: Please Stop Blaming Your Equine Partner

Fantasy Farm Thursday: The Quintessential “I Quit People” Mountain Retreat

Sunday Video:

Best of JN: Sonoma Horse Park Waives Fees for Young Horse Divisions

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Photo courtesy of Sonoma Horse Park

The Sonoma Horse Park in Sonoma, California has announced that they will be waiving entry fees for all Young Hunter and Young Jumper classes in the 2017 show season. With more than a dozen young horse classes each week throughout the show year, this amounts to thousands of dollars lost for the event, but they insist that is not their priority.

“We want to support the development of young horses and encourage riders and trainers to show young horses,” show organizers said in their announcement.

The no-fee divisions include the following:

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Sonoma Horse Park is the largest series in Northern California, and set in one of the most picturesque locations in the world with wine country to the north and San Francisco to the south. With gorgeous show grounds, a veteran show manager in Sally Hudson and generous rider incentives such as waiving young horse fees, Sonoma is making its mark.

 

Entries close Tuesday, April 18th for SHP Spring Classic & HMI Equestrian Challenge. Enter online at showgroundslive.com/headlands and equestrianconnect.com.

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Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

What says “I’m a crazy eventer” quite like a classical skull cap? Breeches with holes in the knees, maybe, or that slightly unhinged expression that comes across one’s face when they see something (anything) about 3′ x 3′ x 10 ‘ and think to themselves, “I bet I could jump that”.  If you’ve never rocked the timeless skull cap look or the one you’ve got was the same one you’ve had since either President Bush was in office, it’s time to make this right.

As it happens, you can enter to win one from our BFFs at One K Helmets! These babies have all the bells and whistles: Polycarbonate and Advanced ABS Composite outer shell; injection molded shell design; washable quick-dry, moisture wicking, anti-microbial liner; stainless steel mesh; comfort padded harness with synthetic suede lining, hook & loop adjustment, and Fastex buckle. They are definitely not your daddy’s skull cap. Click here to enter the contest before May 15.

U.S. Weekend Action

Fair Hill CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Ocala CCI & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers CCI, CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Sunday Links

A Look at Eventing in South Africa

Eventing draws participants from across US to Ocala International Three-Day Festival

Grand National winner makes great start to eventing career

University of Alabama Earns First Collegiate Victory at Chattahoochee Hills

The social contract in horse sport: Are we getting it right?

Sunday Video

Best of JN: Beezie Madden’s Cortes ‘C Retires

Beezie and Cortes 'C. PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI

Beezie and Cortes ‘C. PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI

Beezie Madden – by way of the John Madden Sales Facebook Page – announced that her Olympic partner Cortes ‘C has been retired from competition following his injury at the Rio Olympic Games in August.

Full statement from Beezie:

“Many of you have asked for an update and others are probably wondering about Cortes ‘C’s recovery. On behalf of Cortes ‘C’s owner, Mrs. Abigail Wexner, we are announcing Cortes’ retirement from competition. We are thankful to his team of veterinarians who have helped him heal following his injury at the 2016 Olympic Games. Tiny will return from his winter home at Authentic Stables in Wellington to our home base in Cazenovia this spring where he will enjoy his retirement.

“We have been blessed to have Tiny in our family and as a part of Team JMS. Our back to back wins together in the King George Cup as well as his “Best Horse of the Games” (Team and Individual Bronze Medal) title in the 2014 World Equestrian Games will remain some of my best memories. I will always be grateful for the time we’ve had together in the sport and am now extremely grateful for the time we will have together in his retirement.” 

Cortes ‘C will be 16 years old at the end of this month. The Belgian Warmblood Gelding owned by Beezie’s longtime business partner Abigail Wexner has had an unbelievable career that includes more than a dozen major Grand Prix wins and a team bronze medal-winning performance at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Tiny will be retiring in luxury with his iconic barnmates: John Madden Sales recently completed the building and restructuring of state-of-the-art retirement facilities at their farm in Cazenovia. There he’ll get quality turnout time with the likes of Authentic, Cloud Nine, Coral Reef Via Volo, Prima, and Conquest II.

John Madden Sales retirement barn in NY. PC: JMS on Facebook.

John Madden Sales retirement barn in NY. PC: JMS on Facebook.

While we’ll selfishly miss seeing Tiny flying among the world’s best, we know he’s headed into a retirement bliss worthy of the remarkable animals who give so much to their riders, owners, and the sport.

Go Tiny, and go jumping.

Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

 

Peggy Rafferty and Sarah Ellington complete their pair pace round. Photo courtesy of Sarah Ellington.

Skyline Eventing hosted a pair pace this weekend, which was a very novel experience not only for us as organizers (definitely underestimated how complicated it would be to handle switched up partnerships, split payments, and assign ride times!) but I think for riders, as well. Not only did it seem to be a great educational opportunity for some greener pairs to go out with veterans and get their feet wet, but it was also a fun adventure for barn buddies to compete as teammates in such a literal way. We’ve got some kinks to work out, but more pair paces are definitely in our future!

U.S. Weekend Action:

The Fork CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

CDCTA Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Pine Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Spring Bay H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Sunday Links:

Lucinda Russell becomes fourth female trainer to win the Grand National

Let’s Discuss: Social Media and Horse Sales

Death & Taxes: 9 Unavoidable Equestrian Facts of Life

That New Saddle Scent

Must-See Moments from the Final Week of WEF

Genes behind the athleticism of Arabian horses pinpointed by researchers

Sunday Video:

Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

USA’s Karl Cook and Tembla at the FEI World Cup Final. Photo by Emily Daignault-Salvaggio

It’s been a huge week over at our sister site, JumperNation.com. We’ve been covering every little nook and cranny of the FEI World Cup Jumping Finals, and we’ve been rewarded with front row seats to McLain Ward trying to make history with his first win in his 17th appearance at this event. For those of you eventers who secretly dabble in the dark arts of pure show jumping news now and again, we sure appreciate you coming along for the ride this week, and hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the 2017 season!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Morven Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

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

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

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

Galway Downs CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Sunday Links

Endurance trainer suspended for two years for injecting horses with banned substance

6 Horsey April Fools We Wish Were True

Mclain Ward and HH Azur Soar for Second Night, Fairytale Intact

Springtime: Equestrian Expectation vs. Reality

Do you understand the dust patterns and sweat marks of saddle fit?

Sunday Video:

World Equestrian Games 2018 Forum in Omaha Unveils Logo, Talks Logistics

During the FEI World Cup in Omaha Friday, World Equestrian Games officials from both the FEI and the Tryon International Equestrian Center were on hand to update the media on the state of planning, release a tentative schedule, and also introduced their new logo to fans. Sandwiched in with that news were also some of the difficulties and what fans should expect in order to make the trek to North Carolina in September 2018.

New Logo Unveiled

“We put together a new branding concept in advance of a marketing program,” said head of Tryon International Equestrian Center Mark Bellissimo. “The logo incorporates the essence of horse sport and the FEI’s #TwoHearts campaign — we worked with the FEI to develop something that really captures the horse and rider interaction.”

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Sport Facility Construction Update

For the performance venues, Mark says that they are on schedule to have all of the competition rings and cross country tracks completed before the end of 2017.

“We feel very comfortable here that the most important element — having the venue and the facility ready for the sports themselves — we feel very confident that we’ll have all of that covered by October of this year. So there’s no risk from a sport perspective.”

What About the Fans? 

Hospitality, traffic and parking, and accommodations are of utmost concerns to the committee, and they admit they’re having to think creatively and make certain concessions.

US Precision Construction LLC, a subsidiary of Tryon Equestrian Partners that specializes in fully fabricated multi-use structures, has been put to work designing and building a sort of “mini-Olympic village” on-site for athletes in the style of modular cabin already found at Tryon.

They’ve hired a traffic directing/parking company which will manage the massive influx of spectators expected for the two week event and shuttle systems are also part of the game plan. Thanks to eager local officials, Tryon also anticipates adding a handful of new freeway exits off of I-74 to handle those headed to the event.

The concessions? Due to the mass numbers needed to put on an event of this magnitude, officials say they’ve already booked 2,000+ rooms in nearby towns for their staff, and spectators should prepare themselves (and plan ahead) for a trek from as far out as Charlotte: a 75-mile drive.

“It’s certainly a more rural setting — the middle of nowhere but the center of everything,” said Mark. He noted Spartanburg, Charlotte, and Asheville as the nearest large scale choices with maximum accommodation. (We’re leaning toward Asheville, a 45-mile drive, which Mark noted is the “craft beer capital of the world.”)

Schedule

Finally, the committee also unveiled a tentative schedule of events, and noted that they wanted to spread things out a bit more to ensure events didn’t unnecessarily overlap.

The schedule is as follows:

September 11 – Opening Ceremonies

September 12 – Endurance, Reining, Dressage

September 13- Eventing Dressage, Reining, Dressage

September 14 – Eventing Dressage, Dressage

September 15 – Eventing Cross Country, Reining

September 16 “Super Sunday” – Eventing Stadium Jumping, Dressage Freestyle Finals

September 17 – Rest Day

September 18 – ParaDressage, Vaulting

September 19 – ParaDressage, Vaulting, Show Jumping

September 20 – ParaDressage, Show Jumping, Vaulting

September 21 – ParaDressage, Driving, Show Jumping

September 22 – ParaDressage, Driving, Vaulting

September 23 – Driving, Show Jumping, Closing Ceremonies

You can watch the full press conference below, and more information will become available on the WEG 2018 Website.

Emily Daignault-Salvaggio contributed to this story.

Best of JN: Jessica Springsteen Jumps the Arena Decor to Take CSI 5* Win at WEF

Jessica Springsteen and Davendy S. PC: Sportfot

Jessica Springsteen and current top partner Davendy S slayed in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI 5* earlier this week at WEF by pulling out a bit of a stunt, much to the crowd’s delight. Jessica noticed in her course walk that a clever line which crossed a decorative pool could get her a better spot to the second half of the jump-off.

(You can watch Jessica’s winning round by clicking here and then clicking the “play” button beside the name of the competitor.)

The round was set by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil – a course filled with related distances and sharp corners. Of the 54 starters, 22 saw double-clear rounds. Besides Jessica and Davendy S, the other top six combinations were all within one second of each other, proving what a competitive round it was.

Jessica and Davendy just edged out Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH, who nabbed second by cutting out a stride in the final line that no one was brave or forward enough to attempt. Kristin Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Faustino also gave a gusty ride to claim third.

“I knew if I jumped the water, it would give me a better line to start the second phase,” explained Jessica after her round. “The other area I focused on was taking my time back to the last line because it was a really tight turn and a lot of people ran into problems there. I wanted to make sure she got her eye on it.”

Jessica and Davendy S have gained a reputation for being strong contenders in the speed classes and won the same class during week seven of the 2017 winter circuit.

Photo by Sportfot

Glowing as she spoke of her mare and top mount of three years, Jessica said, “She was so good! She always shines in these speed classes, so I was definitely planning on going for it. She was really with me in every turn and at every fence, so I’m really happy with her. Every time she goes in the ring she wants to win and loves to go fast. I just try to keep her confidence up and make her happy!”

Jumper Nation offers a dynamic array of engaging content custom curated for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. In addition to aggregated horse show news and results, we feature rider profiles, training tips, barn tours, style guides and much, much more, all complimented by a vibrant social media presence. Check us out today! 

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Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

Photo by HelloGrace via Instagram

I’ve been to an awful lot of cross country days in my lifetime, and still I am positive I have never done it as well as this little lady. I hereby solemnly swear to reconsider why I don’t treat the field like a runway, and resolve to be better, fiercer, and more on fleek. (But seriously. The baby hunter boots and shades? I die. She wins.)

U.S. Weekend Action

Carolina International CIC and H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Stream] [Schedule] [Orders of Go] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Twitter] [EN’s Instagram]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T.: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sunday Links:

Burgham International canceled due to weather conditions

Arrogate From Last to First in Stunning Dubai World Cup

“Whoa Shamrock!” A NSFW Ride on a Runaway Horse

Are You a Badminton HT First-Timer? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Repeated studies show shortcomings among riders in identifying lameness in horses

Jessica Springsteen Jumps the Arena Decor to Take CSI 5* Win at WEF

Sunday Video:

Social Media Roundup: Copper Meadows Shines

Nikki Ayers and Rubicon. Photo by Rachel E. Waters

Nikki Ayers and Rubicon. Photo by Rachel E. Waters

It was a perfect finish for the weekend in the land of Chill Vibes, as Nikki Ayers and Rubicon led and conquered the Advanced division wire to wire. Thanks in no small part to his genuine performance over cross country yesterday:

 Nikki had three rails in hand going into show jumping today and ultimately put two of them to use on a tricky course, but managed to keep her spot atop the leaderboard. Having now slayed the dragon at Copper Meadows, Nikki has a lot to look forward to for the remainder of the spring. “We’re probably going to do the two-star at Galway Downs – I wanted to do the three-star, but (coach Hawley Bennett) is not going to be here, and I feel it would kind of be smart to have my coach there for my first three-star! After that we’ll be headed to either Woodside or Colorado.”
Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against also maintained their position in the standings, finishing second after taking one rail down with them and making the time. Robyn Fisher and Look Again claimed third with a rail of their own.In the Open Intermediate, Taren Hoffos and Gustav put in a clutch double-clear show jumping round to take the victory today on home turf. Barb Crabo and Waterford brought down just one heartbreaker of a rail to finish a close second in the division.

In Open Preliminary, Christi Payne and Maxwell Smart were the only combination in the division to go double clear in both jumping phases, securing her victory in a loaded division on a 25.7. Barb Crabo nabbed another red aboard Madison Collin’s Pippin with a nearly flawless weekend (just 1.2 time faults in cross country) to finish on a 33.5. Third went to Leah Breakey aboard her own Master Class.

The lower levels finally got their chance to run the cross country today, and the sailing looked fine. See the full social media round-up below!

 

 

 

Guinness on Draft leaving just a little extra room for Chloe Smyth yesterday at @coppermeadows A post shared by Sophie’s Dad (@eventing_dad) on

 

Just me and the bugs!! #volunteering #coppermeadows #eventing #horse #love #me

A post shared by Ben Hall (@notthekidd) on

 

 

And this from Team SAMnYAMKA today!…. Novice level 7th out of 21…finished on their dressage score…

Posted by Marie MacAulay on Sunday, March 19, 2017

 

Odie and Lulu are packing.

Posted by Christian Eagles on Sunday, March 19, 2017

 

Henri!!!

Posted by Christian Eagles on Sunday, March 19, 2017

 

Odie was perfect. His rider had a rail.

Posted by Christian Eagles on Sunday, March 19, 2017

And finally, this super sweet video to Hawley Bennett, Canadian Olympian now based out of Copper Meadows, who is heading to Rolex next month and is getting a lot of love from family, friends, and fans!

Go Copper Meadows, and Go Eventing.

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Australian National Squads Include US-Based Riders Ryan Wood and Dom Schramm

Dom Schramm and Bolytair B. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dom Schramm and Bolytair B. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Equestrian Australia has updated their National Squads for Eventing, with two U.S. based riders making their mark in the upper levels, and one young rider included on the Youth Squad.

Dom Schramm makes the list with the Naked Horse Eventing Syndicate’s Bolytair B, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding who has been consistently moving up the levels and making a splash since the two first paired up in late 2015.

Dom and Boly made a successful Advanced debut at Pine Top in February and followed up with another good start at Red Hills — they had clean cross country runs and finished in the top ten at both. The two are entered in the Carolina International CIC3* this coming week.

Ryan Wood also makes the list on mutliple horses, and is poised to make a splash in 2017 with these three geldings:

Fernhill Classic – An 11-year-old bay Irish Sport Horse owned by the Fernhill Classic Syndicate

Powell – An 11-year-old black Oldenburg owned by Summit Sporthorses Ltd.

Woodstock Bennett – A 10-year-old chestnut Irish Sport Horse owned by Ryan Wood & Curran Simpson

Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Woodstock Bennett and Powell have been consistent partners for Ryan with solid top finishes; Notable scores for Powell include a second place finish at Fair Hill in 2015 in the CIC3* and a win at Jersey Fresh in the CCI3* in 2016. Woodstock Bennett has been equally strong, nabbing podium spots with a win at Bromont last year in the CCI3* and finishing second at the AECs in the Advanced Division.

Fernhill Classic made his Rolex debut last year and jumped out of his skin in cross country to finish without jump penalties, and the horse is poised for another strong season, having just made a top 20 finish at the Wellington Eventing Showcase in February. Ryan confirmed to EN that “Classic” will compete at Rolex again this year.

In the Youth Squad, U.S.-based Ema Klugman and Bendigo are well positioned to be included in the future of eventing;  The pair have been together three years and this past fall claimed sixth place in a competitive CCI2* division at Virginia. The Duke University student keeps up a string of horses and a full course load with no sign of slowing down. (Read an EN feature about Ema’s fascinating life from when she was 15 here.)

The National Recognition Squad is part of Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Strategy, which was developed to encourage a higher caliber of elite performance across not only the equestrian disciplines, but all Olympic sports. In addition to the recognition squads, which have a strict criteria for eligibility, we should soon expect to see an announcement about Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Squad, which will be developed with the long range goal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Mind.

[Eventing National Recognition Squads]

Sunday Video: Horse Stretches to Make a Supple Athlete

Heaven knows I am a different person after a good yoga power session, and when I’m consistently working on my poses in class and at home, I’m a completely different rider. So why should it be any different for my horse?

Massage therapist and equine body work specialist Carol Grant – in conjunction with Grace Gerry of GG Eventing – have a great informative video on exercises you can add quickly and easily to your daily routine with your horse to help them be more fit, supple, strong, and soft, and less prone to injury. (Also, why doesn’t my yoga class include snacks? Can I get an amen up in here?)

Obviously, we recommend talking to your own vet or certified equine massage therapist about perfecting these exercises and selecting stretches that are the best for your animal, but this is a great launch point for learning more about your horse’s body and how to assist them in being the best athlete they can be.

You can learn more about Carol Grant and her ESMT business on her Facebook page, and you can learn more about ambitous up-and-comer Grace Gerry at her website.

Get to stretching, and Go Eventing!

 

Best of JN: Rodrigo Pessoa Takes the Reins of Irish Show Jumping Dream Team

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Photo courtesy of Sport Horse Ireland

Brazilian Show Jumping dynasty and superstar Rodrigo Pessoa will be the Team Manager and Chef d’Equipe of the Irish Show Jumping Team, Horse Sport Ireland announced earlier this week. Under no uncertain terms, Irish leadership made it clear this appointment was made in hopes of “delivering medals” for a team chock full of talent but somehow left off the podium at major events all too often in the past decade.

Talent and Leadership in Spades

44-year-old Rodrigo is a formidable choice for leading a team to victory; the famed rider has a gold and two bronze Olympic medals and won the FEI World Cup Final three years in a row aboard his iconic Baloubet Du Rouet.

Additionally, Rodrigo has a long history of leadership in the sport, having served as president of the IJRC and as athlete representative to the FEI for Show Jumping.

He is equally admired for his character and love of fair sport. Rodrigo was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Diploma in 2010 following the World Equestrian Games, where he offered his fellow competitors advice on riding his mount Rebozza in the final four showdown. He would go on to finish fourth, but earned the admiration and respect of fans and fellow riders.

Of his new role, Rodrigo Pessoa said: “I am looking forward to working with this very talented group of riders and horses in the near future. At the end of August we have the European Championships in Sweden where we want to have a strong team ready to battle for top positions. I want to thank Horse Sport Ireland for giving me this opportunity and hope that we will be successful together.”

Tackling a Chronic Problem for Team Ireland

The pressure will be on Pessoa and the high performance team, who despite a slew of superstars (they have more riders in the top 30 rankings than any other country in the world) failed to qualify a team for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bertram Allen secured an individual slot for an Irish Olympian by way of his global ranking, but former Irish Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine opted to give the slot to Greg Broderick, who did not qualify beyond the opening round in Rio. He was ranked 252nd at the time of his nomination.

This was after an already devastating drama for Team Ireland in which they lost the 2015 European Championships by a single rail – a rail which they argued happened because of interference by a grounds crew member who stepped in front of Cian O’Connor’s Good Luck in the jump-off. Ireland lodged multiple protests, all of which were denied, costing them a team slot in Rio.

Interestingly, their unfortunate performances as a team have not extended to Nations Cup appearances, as the Irish have taken very prestigious CSIO titles in Wellington, Ocala, and Aachen in the past few years. But Olympic, WEG, and European Championships continue to evade them. Rodrigo will be pushing to weed out the weaknesses of timing, chemistry, and comparability in a team primed for the group spotlight.

Pessoa Still to Ride

This will not spell the end or even the pause of Rodrigo’s riding career, but he has said that coaching Ireland’s team will be his first priority. He still plans to compete his string when it is convenient, as long as the schedule permits him to still be available for the team’s needs. The timing is somewhat fortuitous in a ‘making lemonade out of lemons’ for Rodrigo, as his main five-star mount, Jordan, has been in a long rehabilitative recovery since sustaining an injury during the Rio selection trials. The Anglo European gelding may very well have another year or more of recovery, and Rodrigo’s current contract with Ireland extends through the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

Horse Sport Ireland interim CEO James Kennedy shares in Rodrigo’s enthusiasm to move toward success, adding with both seemingly optimism and determination,”I wish Rodrigo the very best of luck in his new position and we look forward to a new chapter in Irish Show Jumping with a shared goal of delivering medals.”

Let the countdown to WEG 2018 begin.

[Rodrigo Pessoa appointed Senior High Performance Director of the Irish Show Jumping team]

Jumper Nation offers a dynamic array of engaging content custom curated for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. In addition to aggregated horse show news and results, we feature rider profiles, training tips, barn tours, style guides and much, much more, all complimented by a vibrant social media presence. Check us out today! 

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Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

Travis Atkinson aboard 'Baby Max'. Photo courtesy of Sydni Nusink.

Travis Atkinson aboard ‘Baby Max’ at Skyline Eventing Park. Photo courtesy of Sydni Nusink.

One of my absolute favorite parts of my job here at “Insanity in the Middle Headquarters” is seeing an email or a Facebook post from a friend notifying me that they have something that “needs to go on Eventing Nation.” In those brief moments before the attachment has downloaded, I feel the anticipation of knowing I’m about to see someone defying mortality itself. Even more so if it’s January, February, or March. It’s high season for defying death up in here.

This treat was certainly not a disappointment. ‘Baby Max’ is actually a baby dressage horse, but his USDF certified trainer Sydni Nusink believes in the value of a good cross training now and again. Or in this case, accidentally discovering that a horse is destined for a little more cross training. Four-star prospect, anyone?

U.S. Weekend Action:

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

Exmoor H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Stable View H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

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

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/RideTimes/Live Scores]

Sunday Links:

Cheers! The Giddy Box proves popular with partying riders (As in… all eventers?)

Horseware Boss, 66, Qualifies to Compete at WEG 2018 in Endurance

Willberry Does Badminton: join eventing stars for exciting preview event

Platinum traces in soil may help explain mass extinction of North American mammals

The Craic Heard ‘Round the World: My Irish Sidesaddle Foxhunting Adventure

Saut Hermès CSI 5* Show Jumping Day 1 Round Up: Full Video, Epic French Showdown +More

Sunday Video: Cross Country nirvana, as demonstrated by Shelby Brost and Namaste (See what I did there?)

The Rundown: Cross Country Day at Copper Meadows

Britt Sabbah and Saint Louie at Copper Meadows Winter HIT 2017. Photo by Lisa Takada via Instagram.

Britt Sabbah and Saint Louie at Copper Meadows Winter HT 2017. Photo by Lisa Takada via Instagram.

You couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular day for cross country at Copper Meadows in Ramona, California: Temperatures loomed in the 60s and 70s for daylight hours, and the footing was ideal after a winter with above-average precipitation. Organizer Robert Kellerhouse and course designer Hugh Lochore have poured their lifeblood into a complete course redesign that keeps riders at all levels on their toes, and good, safe tests were the outcome today.

In the advanced division, time faults created a bit of a shakeup with no one going double clear, but Nikki Ayers and Andree Stow’s Rubicon managed to maintain their lead – they added 7.6 time faults to a dressage score of 29.1 to give them two rails in hand going into show jumping tomorrow.

“My plan was really just to go around clean,” Nikki told EN. “I really wanted to work on his rhythm and rideability. I felt this course was a really nice big gallopy-type course, and he’s really good with his footwork to begin with, so I figured if I can just keep a good steady gallop all the way around he would answer all the questions.”

Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against are holding second in the Advanced division at the moment with a 48.3 after adding a handful of time faults as well.

“I think the course rode really well in the sense that they started off with some really straightforward concepts,” Bunnie said. “Then I was able to pull my horse up a little bit – he likes to get really strong and I let the combinations do their job. I’ll give him a hint, ‘you’re going to wait, you’re going to wait,’ and then if he’s a little bold for it, he’s got to shorten himself in the combinations because when they start getting bigger and harder, he’s going to need to have some self preservation. So he got himself in a little tight in the out part of the first coffin, and actually it did great things for him.”

Bunnie added that she appreciated having the brand new bank just installed as part of the advanced course.

“I really like the fact that they have a big down bank here. That was something that was very healing for me after Burghley, and  even though he jumped it tentatively, he was so soft and easy to get right back on track and went forward with all the confidence in the world.”

Photo by Sally Spickard.

Copper Meadows Advanced bank. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Robyn Fisher went clear on her two Advanced rides today; she jumped from fifth to third on Vicky Koss’s Look Again, and had a nice steady ride on Carol Singh’s Betawave to sit in fourth.

In the Open Intermediate, Barb Crabo currently leads the pack with Waterford (owned by the Waterford Syndicate, LLC). This is Barb’s first intermediate start with the gray Danish Warmblood gelding since joining forces over the off season; they previously had successful starts going Prelim at Fresno and Galway Downs this year.

In Open Preliminary, Christi Payne and Connie Dunham’s lovely Trakehner gelding Maxwell Smart got their season going with one of the few double clear rounds of the day to maintain their lead on a score of 25.7 going into show jumping.

There is still a lot more action to come from sunny California including more cross country tomorrow for the lower levels, but in the meantime, Copper Meadows Eventers are blowing up social media – see a good smattering of Dressage and Cross Country happenings below!

  A post shared by Vanessa Hughes (@ladyphotographic) on Mar 18, 2017 at 1:59pm PDT

  Getting cuddly here at Copper Meadows! #horses #renegadeequestrian #ottb #eventing #babysfirsthorseshow   A post shared by Lindsey Smith (@renegade_equestrian) on Mar 18, 2017 at 10:36am PDT

When the rednecks come to California… A post shared by Rebecca Bird Mortensen (@beckybuckwyld) on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:45pm PDT

  So we started out the weekend on a 31.8 and we’re sitting in 5th, with our best dressage score in Eventing in our 1st prelim. Sadly coming out of the water after a water fence we jumped and then fell/slipped coming out of the water. Up until that everything was perfect! Very proud of our first Prelim and no we weren’t eliminated. It’s considered a retirement, so Bartok didn’t do anything wrong just slipped. Very happy with this weekend, thank for everyone supporting me and making sure we were okay. Can’t wait to get to Galway! Silly stuff happens in the upper levels!! But Bartok is okay which is the biggest thing. Going to ride him later today, probably just walk and make sure he is all good in the hood. This won’t hold us back from anything just not a lucky turn u guess. :( #eventingslr #slr #eventing #prelim #13   A post shared by Mahari Blanks (@maharieventing) on Mar 18, 2017 at 11:52am PDT

 

And because Dogs need a cross country day, too:

Best of Day 1:

The legendary Axel Steiner judging dressage:

Lauren and AJ back at it. A post shared by Jay Benge (@jay.benge) on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:35pm PDT

@pineapple_lyss, getting ready for fancy pony walky time.   A post shared by Dave Bernhardt (@zbernhardts) on Mar 17, 2017 at 6:39pm PDT

Keep it locked on EN for more from Copper Meadows this weekend and around the world! Go Eventing.

Copper Meadows: Website, Facebook, Live Scores

adv intermediate prelim

Best of JN: Seringat Decides When Seringat is Done Jumping

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Cian and Seringat make a grand exit. Screenshot via Facebook

Cian O’Connor has an incredible knack for picking up rides with personality. Earlier this year we got to see the pizzazz that Good Luck likes to bring to the ring after a few weeks of R&R, and this past weekend, Cian’s ride Seringat had a show of his own to share with the world.

During the opening round of the $216,000 CSI04* Grand Prix in Wellington this weekend, Cian and the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding put in a foot-perfect performance to snag a spot in the jump-off, but Seringat decided the only way to celebrate was to keep going.

Cian O’Connor – SeringatAn exuberant Seringat added in an extra obstacle during the first round of today’s $216,000 CSIO 4* after jumping clear. Cian O’Connor
Final results:
1st: Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z
2nd: Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla
3rd: Ali Wolff and Casall

Posted by JumpingSquad on Sunday, March 5, 2017

The proud jumping machine leaped the arena barrier to the delight of the crowd and amusement of Cian, who always seems to be extremely good-natured about his horse’s unique ways of getting the job done. The pair would ultimately finish this class just inside the money in 12th place after taking a pole down in the jump-off.

Cian and Seringat have made a real splash since joining up in November 2016, instantly finding a kind of competitive rhythm and simpatico. They were in the top ten in two grand prix classes at Deeridge Farms in February, won a Table A Grand Prix in Ocala during international week,  helped Ireland secure the win in the FEI Nations Cup in Ocala and repeated that epic performance at the Nations Cup this weekend in Wellington.

Essentially, they’ve done more in 12 weeks together than most horses and riders will accomplish in a lifetime.

As it goes in this sport, this will be Cian and Seringat’s final performance together. Just today Cian shared on his Facebook page that the horse has been sold to Norwegian legend Geir Gulliksen. Geir has competed in three World Cup finals, four World Equestrian Games, and was part of Norway’s Olympic team in Beijing. He will surely put the talented gelding to good use.

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing what other personalities emerge from Cian’s string, as they are bound to do.

Go Jumping.

Jumper Nation offers a dynamic array of engaging content custom curated for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. In addition to aggregated horse show news and results, we feature rider profiles, training tips, barn tours, style guides and much, much more, all complimented by a vibrant social media presence. Check us out today! 

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Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna. Photo by Jenni Autry.

If you’d like to see a demonstration in the best way to “spring forward” for Daylight Savings Time, Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna would be more than happy to demonstrate. That cute little 16-year-old Anglo-Trakhener face had one of the fastest and cleanest trips of the day at Red Hills yesterday, springing them forward from 18th to fourth in the CIC3*. Also, those tidy little knees! I swoon, I pine, I perish. (I’m a sucker for tight knees and a dishy face.)

Weekend Action

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

Red Hills International CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

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

Sunday Links

Standing Ovation: Canter Illinois

FEI Pledges Support to International Gender Champions Network and Gender Equality

10 Mantras From Non-Equestrians That Could Transform Your Next Round

Popular British paralympic equestrian Anne Dunham retires at 68

The big freeze: Breakthrough as scientists chill out over frozen semen

Mary and Emily King open 300-year-old forge

Sunday Video: Mexican Eventer Daniela Moguel rocking it through the Red Hills CIC3* water complex

Best of JN: Three Great Rides From WEF You Might Have Missed

Screenshot via YouTube. Screenshot via YouTube.

When the winter circuits are rolling full steam ahead, not every great ride gets a ribbon, and not even every winning ride gets proper credit. This week we’ve curated a gallery of lovely and educational rides you might have missed from the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

To kick off the show, we’re bringing you this soft, encouraging jump-off ride from Adam Prudent aboard Volcan d’Ivraie, an eight-year-old Selle Francais/Anglo Arabian gelding owned by Plain Bay Sales. They would go on to finish third in this 1.30 m class at WEF 7:

Our second ride is this scrappy jump-off round from David Blake and Zafira, a 10-year-old mare by Cassini I, who scored the victory in the $2,000 1.30 m class at WEF 2. Zafira is owned by Pine Hollow Farm.

Our final ride comes from the hunter ring: Gavin Moylan and String of Pearls took the win in the 3’6″ young horse championship at WEF 2 with this lovely ride. String of Pearls is a seven-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Priscilla Denegre, who also happens to be Gavin’s mother-in-law.

Moylan gushed over the mare following their win, saying “She’s a mare that I found in Germany as a four-year-old with super breeding. I think it took us about two and a half seconds to decide to buy her when we first saw her. She’s the whole package; a good mover, a really great jumper, and has such a quality mind.”

We’ll continue to bring you great rides from around the country, so keep it locked on JN!

Jumper Nation offers a dynamic array of engaging content custom curated for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. In addition to aggregated horse show news and results, we feature rider profiles, training tips, barn tours, style guides and much, much more, all complimented by a vibrant social media presence. Check us out today! 

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-3-10-37-pm

Sunday Links Presented by One K Helmets

The view over The Event at Skyline in Mt. Pleasant, UT. Photo by Lorraine Jackson

The view over The Event at Skyline in Mt. Pleasant, UT. Photo by Lorraine Jackson

Skyline Eventing Park in Mt. Pleasant, Utah hosted its first schooling show of the year today for our beloved little region, and not a one of us could believe that we were packed up and on the road before dark. We had a great turnout, prompt and talented participants, and most importantly, we were able to raise some funds for a friend and local eventer, Erin Johnson, who was injured in a house fire earlier this year and remains in the ICU. She’s making the most inspiring and hard core recovery, and being able to utilize our event to help someone so important to our community is one of the greatest gifts of running an event. We continue to wish our friend Erin a fast and epic recovery. If anyone can do it, she can!

Weekend Action

Full Gallop March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

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

Sporting Days H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

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

Sunday Links

California steps up disaster preparedness for horse owners

Good vibrations: Horse-riding can improve children’s learning ability, study suggests

First-Event-Of-The-Season-Bingo: How Many of These Can You Spot?

USEA Intercollegiate Championship Returns to Virginia Horse Trials in May

Weird Things I’ve Said to My Horse

Margaret Crevar: USEA’s Volunteer of the Month

 

Best of JN: Grand Prix Workhorse Michael Tokaruk

Photo courtesy of Michael Tokaruk/ Tokaruk.com

Photo courtesy of Michael Tokaruk/ Tokaruk.com

When Michael Tokaruk was 15 years old, he got the greatest gift of his life the day before Christmas: Gary Zook called and offered him a working student position for the coming summer, and it was the first of many jobs which would eventually produce a professional who loves the hard work of the sport as much as he loves the horses themselves.

We spoke as he was making the 14-hour haul from the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington to his home base in Collierville, Tennessee with a pit-stop in Ocala to do some horse shopping, and Michael was just decompressing from a long and successful stint at WEF with his talented crew and clients.

“We had a real good group of students. Some that had been there already and some that were there for the first time, but virtually everybody got some good ribbons,” Michael told JN. “We had some champions, some reserves. And we were jumping into some serious divisions. I was proud of the group and the horses. We didn’t just hold our own, and that’s not easy at the most competitive show in the world across all the divisions.”

Michael and student Arden Stephens aboard Ultra T. Photo courtesy of Michael Tokaruk

Michael and student Arden Stephens aboard Ultra T. Photo courtesy of Michael Tokaruk

A grand prix rider and coach will wear many hats in a day – teacher, trainer, competitor, buyer, boss, groom, long haul trucker and therapist – and Michael wears them all with pride. He knew from the beginning that it was a nonstop lifestyle, and one to which he is well-suited.

Michael was born into a horse loving family with a mother who rode and owned horses, and soon he and his siblings were all getting barn time of their own. By 14, he knew this was what he wanted to do with his life. His family didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to sink into the best horses, so he began strategizing how to trade his work ethic for an education.

“I made a VHS tape of my riding and sent it off to a list of trainers I knew from the magazines and wanted to ride with. I remember reading a Practical Horseman article about Meredith Taylor winning the AHSA Medal Finals as a working student for Ken Berkley and Gary Zook and I said ‘if she can do it, I want to do it.’”

Michael and Baton Rouge. Photo courtesy of Draper Therapies.

Michael and Baton Rouge. Photo courtesy of Draper Therapies.

Gary Zook made that fateful phone call Christmas Eve, and Michael was off to chase the dream just as he had planned. His experience with Gary – who passed away in 2012 — was invaluable in lessons, contacts and experiences, but also because it gave Michael the opportunity to dive into the full experience of the business.

“It was a dream come true for me. I tried to work hard and do the best I could and do anything and everything to ride a horse. They just kept putting me on different horses and I just kept trying harder and working harder.”

The work ethic, ability, and good attitude led to Michael connecting with Geoff Sutton, who at the time had a string of elegant junior jumpers that Michael was able to utilize and show off in his final year as a junior rider. Numerous trainers offered assistance and Michael was able to take some big equitation wins at Devon, Palm Beach, and he was in the ribbons in the Medal Finals, true to his goal.

Like many promising junior riders, Michael had intentions to go professional, but also had big decisions to make about his future. There were less programs even ten years ago than there are now (the Emerging Athletes Program, the U25 Divisions and trainer certification programs) and as a good student, higher education was looming.

With the strong encouragement of his parents, Michael pursued and completed a degree in Political Science at George Washington University in Washington D.C., but he never stopped riding during that time, and took a year off to work the barns. In the summers he worked abroad with Roeloef Bril in the Netherlands and got to see the business across the pond.

When he graduated he immediately went to work as a professional rider at Spring Mill Farm for David Pellegrini and eventually started his own business. Hanging his own shingle is a dream that has had its ups and downs since he first went pro, but Michael has always done whatever it takes to succeed in one of the toughest careers in the world.

“Not just show up and ride, but be there early mornings, late nights, every day, every night. I loved it and I still love it, I can’t get enough of it.”

Today, he passes those philosophies on to his numerous students, and his reputation and winning record have allowed him to partner with supportive owners and fellow trainers like Hardin Towell, Richie Maloney, and Charlie Jayne in producing exceptional Grand Prix horses. His only regret seems to be wishing there were time to attend every circuit in an 800 mile radius of Tennessee.

He’s coming off a great year in the Grand Prix ring, taking home wins and prize money with Cupid Shuffle, Eminem, and Baton Rouge, all of whom were sales horses.

According to plan, each of his Grand Prix mounts was successfully moved into new competition homes, which is a bittersweet part of the job. They complete the objective of moving the horse along, but Michael and his team clearly love the horses in their care. This week he acquired a new ride as a project for Richie Maloney, and plans to add to his string when the winter circuits start to wind down.

“I’ve been able to build relationships throughout my career and connect with some really great people that have faith in my riding and my program. I can take their horses on, ride them myself, represent them for sale and hopefully get them sold in a different market.”

One thing was clear from our conversation: Michael Tokaruk doesn’t take a day of his career for granted – from putting in hours as a working student and then as a hired rider to now keeping his business going for the past decade, he never took a shortcut or turned down a golden opportunity and that has made him the trainer he is today.

TSS has found a winning formula for thriving in the sport, and the 2017 season will bring a full slate of opportunities to keep the machine moving forward. Michael and his team will be regrouping at home for a few weeks before heading to the Gulf Coast Winter Classic series in Gulfport, Mississippi, followed by Pin Oak Charity show in Houston, Texas and then to the Brownland Farm spring series close to home in Tennessee.

You can keep up with Michael by visiting tokaruk.com and by following Tokaruk Show Stables on Facebook.