Lorraine Jackson
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Lorraine Jackson

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About Lorraine Jackson

Managing Editor at our sister site, Jumper Nation.

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Best of JN: Amy Millar Wins Canadian Championship With One Stirrup

Rio Olympian Amy Millar made it a home-country win for spectators at the Royal Agricultural Fair and Royal Horse Show last weekend, and she did it with one arm behind her back, proverbially speaking. Or quite literally, she did much of it short a stirrup but still managed to make it look like a textbook ride.

Amy and Heros 86 came into the final night of the three-round competition with some penalties from night one, but jumping fast and clear rounds on Saturday allowed her to clinch her first ever national championship title.

“There are very few things that I get as excited about as The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair,” said Amy after her win. “It has been such a big part of my life for so long that I have wanted this for probably the whole time I have been alive! It is so important to me and to Canada; the stands are filled with Canadians who love the sport, and it has always been so prestigious to win.”

At ten years young, Heros 86 is already an Olympic veteran, but still has a huge career ahead of him. The Belgian Warmblood is owned by a syndicate of Amy’s friends who have known her much of her life and rallied together to get her the ride on the talented gelding.

Amy Millar and Heros 86. PC: Ben Radvanyi Photography

“It’s a group of people that I’ve known a long time and really love; they are all good friends of mine, and I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

International competition started at The Royal Tuesday night, with the FEI World Cup on Wednesday night. We saw other Canadian greats like Amy’s father Ian Millar, Tiffany Foster, Keean White, Ali Ramsay, and hailing from below the border, top-ranked Americans Kent Farrington and McLain Ward.

Go Amy, and Go Jumping!

The Royal: Website, Results, Livestream, Facebook

$125,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship – Final Standings
Saturday, November 4
Rider/Hometown/Horse/Final Score
1. Amy Millar Perth, ON Heros 1.25
2. Francois Lamontagne St. Eustache, QC Chanel du Calvaire 3.73
3. Ali Ramsay Victoria, BC Hermelien VD Hooghoeve 4.24
4. Nicole Walker Aurora, ON Falco Van Spieveld 5.34
5. Isabelle Lapierre Levis, QC Cescha M 5.86
6. Laura Jane Tidball Langley, BC Concetto Son 9.06
7. Jonathon Millar Perth, ON Bonzay
8. Tiffany Foster North Vancouver, BC Brighton
9. Ainsley Vince Burlington, ON Darling
10. Jordan MacPherson Toronto, ON Aanwinst
11. Vanessa Mannix Calgary, AB Chemas
12. Hugh Graham Schomberg, ON Knock Out 3E

Best of JN: Maikel van der Vleuten’s Secret? ‘The Horse Must Be Happy to Win’

Maikel van der Vleuten and Verdi. PC: FEI / Massimo Argenziano

Maikel Van der Vleuten of The Netherlands and VDL Groep Verdi had a phenomenal win in Verona this past weekend with a blazing time over the ten other combinations that made the jump-off, but the way they won in the ring isn’t nearly as important as what they did to prepare OUT of the ring.

Maikel and Verdi have a strong relationship that’s been built over years by mutual communication, trust, and an emphasis on a horse that’s as psychologically sound as he is physically sound.

“He doesn’t change, he is the same every day, in rain or sunshine and no matter where he is. He is very special, and most of all he is very honest!” Maikel said. “He also likes to win and that’s very important but he also has to be happy, not every day training in the same outdoor. I try to change the work, sometimes to go outside to the woods and I use the canter track. He is more happy to train over there.”

Maikel stresses how important these changes and tweaks are to not only keeping Verdi and all his horses fit and engaged, but genuinely happy. It’s part of the winning formula.

“There are things to think about, for example four weeks ago in Rome I could feel he was a little bored. After the show in Calgary maybe it was a little bit too much for him so the last four weeks I got busy with making him happy and good again, and it worked out very well. He was playing with the jumps again and feeling good, and then the result comes as well!” 

Maikel admits that heart and happiness alone can’t make a winner – you must have the talent, as well – but without a happy horse, they’re as useless to you as a puff of smoke.

“If you are a good rider and you have a horse that is not able or doesn’t want to win, then it’s just not possible. Every week I try to feel how he is, I don’t need to teach him jumping anymore, he knows his job and what’s most important for me is that he has to be happy.”

These philosophies should have more front and center dialogue in the sport — and certainly many riders are working on how to put the horse first as often as possible — but it’s less common to hear it put in such stark terms that a horse have happiness. Not rest, or time off, or health, or fitness – but mental happiness.

You can learn more about Maikel at his website, or follow him on Facebook. Full press release from FEI in Verona available here.

Go Maikel, and Go Jumping!

Best of JN: Jessica Springsteen Adds Magnificent Chestnut Mare to String

Jessica Springsteen announced earlier this week that she has officially added Volage du val Henry to her string after spending the summer getting to know the mare and dabbling around the European circuit together.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaPK8x9BZMm

The eight-year-old Selle Francais mare came to Jessica through Edwina Tops-Alexander, who had the ride on the mare through the 2016 season before taking time off for her pregnancy. “Volly” then went to Alberto Zorzi of Italy along with the rest of Edwina’s string, and he successfully campaigned the mare around Europe through the winter season and early spring, from young horse classes all the way through CSI 5* divisions.

Jessica starting taking the mare into a few classes here and there starting in May, and the two had strong finishes, including five top ten finishes. They took fourth in a CSI 2* class in Valkenswaard their first weekend out together, and a fourth place finish in July in a 1.45m young horse class.

Another clear round 🙌🏻🇺🇸 #Volly – Jessica Springsteen, #TeamSpringsteen, Esther Bukkems, @jossanelia

Posted by Nic Roldan on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Volly came up the show jumping ranks under the watchful eye of Ronan Lerat of France, who premiered the mare in the FEI ranks in early 2015 and handed the mare off to Edwina in mid 2016. Even early on, she showed a great deal of spitfire and talent.

The mare was bred in Switzerland by Ms. Helene Amar and she has simply extraordinary bloodlines. (Sire: Quidam de Revel SF, Dam: Cassina, Sire of Dam: Cassini I.) Unquestionably, she was born to jump, and appears to have the personality and character to match.

We always love seeing a fiery chestnut mare out on the circult doing her thing, and we think she’ll prove to be a lovely match for the talented rock heiress. Congratulations to Team Springsteen on your new acquisition, and Go Jumping!

Meet the Simply Adorable Recipients of Your Rambo Turnout Trade-In

Screenshot via YouTube.

Do you have a turnout blanket in decent condition, but are swooning for an upgrade this winter? We have the perfect solution that not only makes it more affordable for you to trade up, but also gets your old turnout onto the shivering withers of a horse that desperately needs it.

Horseware has announced the relaunch of their wildly popular Turnout Trade-In Program, where you hand in your old but still useful turnout, and in exchange you get $50 off a brand new Rambo.

So who are the fine recipients of your trusty old rug? We’re glad you asked!

Only a handful of the cutest ponies, the kindest drafts and the best charities you could ever hope to meet.

Horseware shares with us just a handful of the numerous hardworking beneficiaries of last year’s Trade-In program, and why it means so much to these groups to get your old blanket.

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary in the UK not only takes in abandoned and neglected animals of all shapes, sizes, and ages, but they also train and re-home them into better situations. Some remain at the farm permanently as part of the top notch children’s education program where little ones can learn all the aspects of horse care and science.

“A lot of these guys come to us in a pretty bad, poor state, so as you can imagine, they’re skinny, they need the extra warmth that a rug will give them,” said one employee at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary. “People really do help us out, but we’re reliant on companies like Horseware. These guys really deserve it.”

The second highlighted charity is the Devon Equine Crisis Support, which works in conjunction with the Welsh Pony Rescue & Rehoming Project in the UK. They introduce us to the wildly handsome and charming Tada, a stunning piebald who had a body score of 0.5 when he arrived, but miraculously recovered and is the picture of mischievous health today.

You break in that Rambo with everything you’ve got, Tada. 

Are you ready to help some horses and get your own Rambo? It’s easy! Visit Horseware’s Turnout Trade-In Page and fill out the voucher form, then click on Participating Retailers to find the closest drop-off location, and they’ll take care of the rest! Next thing you know, that faded but cozy rug will be bringing care and warmth to a horse that needs it, and your pony will be strutting their stuff in a new Rambo. Your turn-in blanket can be any brand or fill, so long as it’s still in working condition.

Go Horseware, and Go Eventing.

Best of JN: ‘You Sold Me a Stopper!’ Lawsuit Q&A with Leone Equestrian Law

Editor’s Note: Horses can be fragile, dangerous, unpredictable, and most of all expensive, and sometimes that places people in the horse business on precarious legal ground. Armande Leone of Leone Equestrian Law tackles some of the common and uncommon legal battles that can arise in the sport.  

PC: Alissa King/JN

The recent lawsuit in Florida over the sale of a potential grand prix horse, Vorst, to a wealthy Mexican owner provides an opportunity to discuss the responsibilities of sellers and risks to buyers in a horse deal. This case is especially interesting since all the parties appear to be knowledgeable and sophisticated participants in equine sport. However, a horse was sold and did not turn out as hoped. To coin a phrase from the financial industry: “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.”

In this case, a horse was purchased for $250,000 and shipped to Mexico. At the first competition, the horse allegedly started stopping and went lame. The owner sued on the basis that there was misrepresentation as to the horse’s past performance and soundness. The seller denied the allegations and claimed that the new owner didn’t properly prepare the horse for competition, causing injury. The horse is now supposedly valued at $30,000.

Who’s right, and who’s wrong? Although a jury will ultimately decide who wins, the actions of the seller, the buyer, the trainer, and veterinarian will be determinative.

A seller or seller’s agent’s representations about a horse’s past performance and prior injuries are important to a purchaser’s decision. Findings by a buyer’s veterinarian on the pre-purchase examination and the trainer’s advice about the suitability of the horse for the buyer are also important to a purchasing decision. The interplay of these factors determines whether or not a seller is liable for a horse purchase gone bad.

A seller’s material misrepresentation about a horse’s past performance or lack of injury can be a basis for a purchaser to sue for monetary damages, provided the information was known to the seller, and it was not revealed. A material misrepresentation would be saying that the horse competed successfully in 1.50 meter classes but actually never jumped above 1.20 meters. Not disclosing that a horse was laid up for 10 months for a suspensory injury to the buyer or the buyer’s veterinarian at the time of the pre-purchase exam would also constitute a material misrepresentation that is actionable. If a purchaser relies on such false information in making the decision to purchase, a seller can be liable for fraud.

However, a seller can disavow any representations or warranties about the horse by selling the horse with a bill of sale “as is”. Selling a horse “as is” does not necessarily protect a seller from liability from all defects in the horse, such as a breach of the warrantability of merchantability.

But a bill of sale can specifically disavow a warranty of merchantability, a warranty of the horse’s fitness for the intended use and warranty of the horse’s health and soundness. Material misrepresentations by the seller that were unknowable by the purchaser, purchaser’s agent or purchaser’s veterinarian are what form the basis for a successful lawsuit against the seller.

On the other hand, a seller has a right to rely on the purchaser to perform his or her own independent pre-purchase veterinarian examination and to receive independent advice about the suitability of the horse for the intended rider. If a pre-existing injury was reasonably discoverable by the purchaser’s veterinarian but was missed, the issue may be one of veterinarian malpractice rather than seller deceit. Some horses have underlying injuries that are unknown to the seller or are in the process of developing at the time of the sale. If the horse had a history of performance problems with water jumps, and this was known to the purchaser’s trainer or agent, the seller has a right to rely on the purchaser’s knowledge and assumption of the risk that the horse may not jump the water. A trainer can confirm the horse’s competition record by checking with the USEF and FEI.

In the Florida lawsuit, a jury will have to look at the performance of the horse leading up to the sale. What representations, if any, did the seller make? What did the pre-purchase examination reveal? What did the purchaser’s trainer know about the horse? What did the purchaser do after taking possession of the horse? Was the horse treated according to the standard of care required to prepare for and ride a horse in competition? Were competition records supplied or readily available? Did the horse suffer a new injury after purchase? Was there a material misrepresentation or undisclosed condition that was known to the seller but unknowable to the purchaser?

This lawsuit should serve as a reminder that sellers and buyers both have responsibility when agreeing on a horse sale. Sellers need to disclose information known about a horse’s past that is known to them and not reasonably knowable by the purchaser.

Buyers need to make sure their trainers and veterinarians examine the horse’s performance, character and soundness sufficiently to alert them to any underlying problems. Buying a horse is risky business under the best of circumstances. It is always an unpleasant situation when a new horse purchase fails to meet the buyer’s expectations. Whether legal action by a dissatisfied buyer can be successful depends on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the purchase. In the Vorst case, it is up to the jury to consider all the relevant factors and make a decision.

Update: Since Mr. Leone first wrote on this subject, the jury found that a Special Verdict form was necessary which had a bit of a split decision, and the final determination is still ongoing.

T. Randolph Catanese, Esq. of Catanese & Wells represented Mr. Zendejas, the seller, in the case above and provided some additional clarification on the state of the lawsuit.

“First, the case was decided by a jury using a Special Verdict form,” Randolph told JN by email.  “The jury found against my client on most claims related to fraud and breach of implied warranties against the defendants, but the jury did find that the Bill of Sale used to sell Vorst to my client by Mrs. Redman violated Florida law regarding equine Bills of Sale.”

“Second, the trial judge in the case DID NOT rule in favor of the defendants against my client. The court simply made an entry based on the verdict of the jury. Following the verdict, and as permitted under Federal law, my client filed a motion for judgment in his favor and alternatively for a new trial with the trial judge. This motion is pending and has not been decided as of this date. If the motion is decided in my client’s favor the outcome of the case will be significantly different than the outcome at this time based on the jury verdict.”

Many thanks to Mr. Catanese for reaching out and for the additional clarification.

Have a legal question for Leone Equestrian Law? Send an email to our editor at [email protected], and your question could be featured in a future column! 

Best of JN: Irish Boys Euphoric With European Championship Victory Sans Drop Score

Cian O’Connor
Photo FEI/Richard Juilliart

The lads from Ireland were a sight Friday night as they all beamingly took their victory gallops at Ullevi Stadium Friday night following their European Championship victory. They’ve overcome a heap of problems, curses, and strange seasons to strike at the perfect moment and take one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes.

With Bertram Allen opting not to start after a frightening fall from Hector the previous day, the Irish Team would have no drop score, putting the weight heavily on Shane Sweetnam, Cian O’Connor and Denis Lynch to have the best rounds of their careers.

Right away the window for glory started to open when the Swedes — leading after two rounds of competition — added a time fault from Henrick von Eckermann, and then saw a shocking retirement for Malin Baryard-Johnsson. This put the pressure on Douglas Lindelow and Zacramento, who unfortunately would have two rails and a time fault to drop Sweden out of the gold medal spot.

Shane Sweetman IRL
Photo FEI

With Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z leading off with a spectacular clear and setting up a momentous game plan for victory, Denis Lynch moved the chess pieces forward right after him aboard the veteran stallion All Star 5.

Denis Lynch IRL
Photo FEI/Claes Jakobsson

By the time Cian O’Connor came in the ring, he knew he had a rail in hand to win it, but was deadset on bringing home a zero. Good Luck gleamed under the lights and took every moment in stride, with Cian grinning ear to ear as they took the last fence and Swedish fans erupting with joy for the boys of the emerald isle.

“Our three stallions are all very brave and scopey, and the lights nearly helped them,” said Cian on how they achieved the win. “We were quietly confident that we could do the business, and obviously Shane (Chaqui Z) had a really tough job going first… I was outside warming up when Denis (All Star) jumped clear and I thought – I have to match that now! I don’t even remember the round, it was all kind of a blur. But I do remember going through the finish!”

Peder FREDRICSON (SWE) – 823 H&M All In
Photo FEI/Claes Jakobsson

Peder Fredricson went on to put in a clutch clear round for Sweden to keep them in the silver medal spot in front of their home crowd – an enormous achievement for the Nordic team.

Switzerland found only one clear round in Martin Fuchs and Clooney today, but they scraped by Belgium to take the bronze by less than a penalty point.

Martin FUCHS (SUI) – 813 Clooney 51
Photo FEI/Claes Jakobsson

Germany found themselves out of the running in fifth, and the Netherlands had a redemptive day after two dismal early rounds of competition to ultimately finish sixth.

Team Gold is no doubt equally as sweet for Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, who was hired by Ireland specifically to overcome several years of bizarrely unsatisfactory team results despite the shocking stream of talented horses and riders at Ireland’s disposal. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.

Rodrigo Pessoa Irish Chef d’equipe
Photo FEI

“We had a good dinner last night, we got together and we said we’ll keep fighting for this,” said Denis after the win. “As you know the Irish are always better as underdogs, and we proved that, so we are very happy to be here now!”

Rodrigo echoed the sentiments that the Irish seem to love battling from behind, and Friday he focused that energy into winning rounds.

“We had this goal since the beginning of the year and our road was a little bit bumpy. We had some things that happened during the year and this week too, but we stuck together, we said we win together or we lose together and they showed a lot of determination and strength today, and I’m really proud of them for sure!”

Winning Team Ireland ,Chefd’equipe Rodrigo Perssoa, Shane Sweetman,Denis Lynch,Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor.
Photo FEI/Claes Jakobsson

Hurricane Harvey and Horses: How You Can Help

Embed from Getty Images

Texas is reeling from Hurricane Harvey, with record floodwaters in Houston displacing 30,000 people from their homes since the Category 4 storm made landfall on Friday. The death toll rose to five yesterday. More than 450,000 people are expected to seek federal aid, according to the the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The people and animals impacted by this monumental disaster are in our thoughts and prayers, and we’ve compiled information for those interested in helping Houston residents and horse owners.

To help our human friends: We suggest making a simple donation to the American Red Cross or giving blood at one of the local blood banks in your area. Blood donations are always low this time of year, and it will be even more helpful now.

The Red Cross are also some of the first groups on the ground assisting those in shelters and getting people out of their homes, so a donation can go a long way towards getting victims what they need. [Donate to American Red Cross – Hurricane Harvey Fund]

Humane Society standing by for animal rescues outside East Texas. Photo courtesy of HSUS.

To help our animal friends: There are a few groups doing rescue operations on the ground who would no doubt appreciate a little financial support.

  • The Humane Society of the United States – They have an animal rescue team on standby with horse trailers, crates, food, clean water and medical supplies to handle animal rescues in the floods and downed buildings. Your donation helps pay staffers and keep supplies stocked. They have a Harvey-specific link where you can donate directly toward disaster relief. [Click here to donate to HSUS Harvey Relief]
  • US Equestrian Disaster Relief Fund – Coordinating fundraising efforts to assist the Houston SPCA for horses and horse owners [Click here to donate to the US Equestrian Disaster Relief Fund]
  • The Houston SPCA – They will be taking in strays and rescues through the storm and helping how they can outside the shelter. [Click Here to donate to Houston SPCA]
  • Crossfire Equine Rescue – a Houston based equine rescue, they’ve got trailers standing by and are helping coordinate dry evacuations for horses in the south-east Texas area. Get more info at their Facebook Page: [Crossfire Equine Rescue]
  • Why They Cry Animal Rescue – They are coordinating many additional equine rescues in the Houston area and distributing lost and found lists. See more here: [Why They Cry]

Please keep Texas in your thoughts this week. We know they’ll be in ours.

Jenni Autry contributed to this report.

Best of JN: The Rules of Fashion – Formal vs. Proper Attire in the Jumper Ring

An impeccably turned-out rider. PC: S. Carter/cc/flickr

We love swapping jumper fashion ideas on Jumper Nation, especially if there’s a way that we can pinch a penny and still get you in the ring looking and feeling like a million bucks.

But we also want you staying on the up and up with the officials and staying within the boundaries set by the USEF for ring attire. We spoke with Dana Frank, a USEF and FEI Level 1 Jumping Steward, to get the full lowdown on attire expectations and what to expect if there’s a problem.

First off, she sagely suggested going straight to the USEF Rulebook for Jumpers. The most important thing to know is that there are THREE main distinctions in attire: Formal, Proper, and Standard.

Here’s exactly how they appear in the rulebook (as of 8/23/2017 ):

If your class calls for formal attire, you’re definitely going to want to store your show-stopper for another day.

“According to this rule, pink, bright blue, etc, are not appropriate attire for a class with these specs,” Dana told us. Follow the George Morris rules of tradition and stick to black, navy, dark gray, or a deep forest green option or similar. Only white or fawn breeches are acceptable at this level, and your shirt must have a white collar and white cuffs.

For proper attire classes, you can stretch your legs a bit – coats of any color and shirts of any color are kosher, so long as your shirt has a collar and tucks in.

How Do I Know What My Class Requires?

Every prize list must outline explicitly which divisions require which attire. Often evening classes, championships, and classics will require formal attire, but some shows might require formal attire all week. You should ALWAYS check your specific show’s prize list for guidelines.

Some shows will also require that riders be in at least proper attire to walk the course, and this too will be outlined in the prize list. Generally, it never hurts to go in the ring and present yourself to the judges looking anything but your very best.

Even when your class calls simply for standard attire, it’s a good idea to go in looking your best (and with game faces on, as seen here!) PC: S. Cart/cc/Flickr

If ever you’re confused about what the requirements are for your class or you’re worried your coat might be in the gray area of “muted” (which is admittedly a vague word), you can always address a steward directly, contact the show office in advance, and we would suggest always having a conservative backup shirt and coat on hand. (good for the those epic ringside green slime emergencies, anyway!)

If there is a problem, we asked Dana what to expect. The rules sound fairly stiff:

“JP111.9.e. In cases where the above requirements are not followed, the penalty for a first or minor offense will be a warning and for repeated violations by the same exhibitor at the same event, the penalty may be elimination.”

While different stewards are going to each handle these scenarios differently, we asked Dana specifically what she would do if she were concerned about a potential violation, and she gave us this response:

“As a steward, I would snap a pic of the coat or radio up to the judge if they have a view of the schooling ring and ask if it was okay. If they don’t have a problem with it, I don’t. If they said no, I would call the rider over and tell them and give them the option to change their coat or risk DQ. I can’t make them change, only let them know it’s inappropriate according to the class specs.”

Dana’s course of action is a generous one, and a courtesy, not a guarantee. It’s important to follow the rules not only to save your own hard-earned competition week from disaster, but also to respect the show, the officials, and your fellow competitors.

Follow the rules of good fashion, have fun with it, and Go Jumping!

Best of JN: Forward, Forward, Forward: Katherine Newman & Dandelion Impress at Hunter Incentive Championship

Katherine Newman and Dandelion have taken over the lead in Round 2 of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship with a 265! There are just 30 remaining in the 3'3" before we wrap-up Round @.

Posted by EQSportsNet on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Katherine Newman and Dandelion displayed spritely, forward momentum over Wednesday’s course at the Platinum Performance / USHJA Hunter Incentive Championship, and the round seemed to sway the whole week in a new direction, with all the day three rounds mysteriously seeming much more energetic after their high score on day two.

An 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Dandelion looked absolutely deadlocked on the course from the first fence, and moved through the course with significantly more energy and momentum than the slower style that often typifies top hunters, and the judges rewarded it handsomely.

The mare likely owes this forward style to hunters being her second career – she was previously competing in the jumpers in Europe before coming to America and switching gears to the judged ring.

“She’s very personable and people-oriented,” said Katherine about Dandelion. “We imported her at the end of 2015 from England, then we sort of started slow. She showed for the first time as a hunter a year ago in July. Now I think we have to re-evaluate what we’re doing because this was our end goal so we’ll see what’s next!”

Katherine Newman and Dandelion. Photo by Phelps Media

For their spectacular round, they skyrocketed from 14th after round one to second place after round two. The following day, the pair came back on a clean slate score for the championship, and once again put in a top notch performance, ultimately earning the reserve championship behind Scott Stewart and Playbook – who rode much more forward in their final round than they had on Tuesday or Wednesday. But it may be this forward, engaging round that people remember for years to come.

“I was really excited,” said Katherine after securing the reserve championship. “It’s been a goal of mine this entire year for this horse to do this class and the win yesterday really meant a lot. Even today it was amazing and it was fun just to do it because I’ve never gotten to do this before. I knew [Dandelion] could win it if I gave her a good shot so it was nice to have one that I had a good chance with.”

Full Results, USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships

Winning rounds can be viewed on EqSportNet Facebook Page, or with a subscription you can livestream the full event on their website.


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! 

Wylie vs. Mongol Derby, Powered by SmartPak: Icy Monsoons Plague Day 2

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie is attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

Held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for updates on Leslie’s ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

Leslie Wylie (LW), on the left, and Rebecca Pumphrey (RP) were both praised by veteran Mongol Derby vet Cozy for their considerate riding and handling of the ponies on day two. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

If you missed it, see our update on day one here.

Wildly unpredictable weather is one of the well-established hazards of the Mongol Derby, and this gremlin came out to show its ugly face to riders on day two. “Icy cold, hurricane-like conditions” so thick you couldn’t stand or see, and rising water levels all played a role in slowing some of the riders down to a near-crawl, but our own Leslie Wylie stayed on track to complete the next four checkpoints, ultimately stopping at Urtuu 7 for a night of dry rest.

Two riders, New Zealand’s Marie Palzer and Australia’s Ed Fernon, made it to Urtuu 8 before nightfall and currently share the lead. Leslie is now tied for second place with the four other riders who reached Urtuu 7.

At the conclusion of day two, Leslie is at Urtuu 7 with four other riders, one checkpoint behind the two riders currently sharing the lead.

Day Two Recap

With riders spread out across about 60 kilometers at various points on the course, weather varied significantly at the start of the day, allowing some of the riders at the back of the pack to get going at 7 a.m., while others — including Leslie — were held where they were because of torrential downpours that reduced visibility to only two feet. This compacted the field a bit, but ultimately riders at Urtuu 3 and beyond were finally given the green light around 7:30 a.m.

We’ve since learned from race organizers that Leslie stayed in a ger (Mongolian yurt) near the Golden Meadows Shopping Mall of Mongolia, so she was warm and dry overnight, though sadly missed her shot at a morning pastry chain run.

People obsessively watching the red dot known as LW were anxiously awaiting movement that didn’t come for hours before finally her GPS pinged again, showing her still at the top of the pack. When she finally reached the next checkpoint, her signaler was replaced, and this has since resolved her tracking issues moving forward.

Over the next several hours, a few riders made their move. Rebecca Pumphrey, a British talent agent better known as “Pixie,” led the pack for a brief period in the afternoon and is now one of Leslie’s overnight bunkmates at Urtuu 7.

Ed Fernon — a 29-year-old Australian Olympic Pentathlete, long distance rider and avid mountain summiteer — came out of seemingly nowhere to jump into the lead alongside Marie Palzer, a 22-year-old New Zealander who works as a horse trekking company guide. The two rode the last couple of checkpoints together and checked into Urtuu 8 with just minutes to spare.

The joint day two leaders: Marie Palzer (MP) on the left and Ed Fernon (EF) on the right. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Twenty-one riders have now been given time penalties, and all but one of those riders are ar least two checkpoints back from the leaders. One rider, Warren Sutton of Australia, has a 2-hour penalty in Urtuu 7 (the same checkpoint as Leslie) and he will be held for two hours at Urtuu 11 when he arrives there. All the others have a bit of catching up to do in addition to their time penalties, but it’s still a long race to go and anything can happen.

Noticeably, the riders at the front of the pack are succeeding not only at handling the weather, the horses and the mapping, but also their timing — knowing when to attempt a leap to the next safe stop and when to hunker down out of the harsh weather conditions. It will take all these skills and more to come out on top.

We were also especially pleased to see that the vet stationed at Urtuu 7 specifically mentioned Leslie and Rebecca for their top notch horsemanship on day two.

Injury and Accident Assessment

There have been a handful of hardships out there. The most serious to report is Julia Fisher, a 65-year-old psycholinguist who fell from her horse near the first checkpoint suffered a suspected cracked a rib. She retired from the race and was transported to Ulaanbataar for a full medical evaluation and chest X-ray. We send our best thoughts to her for a full and speedy recovery.

Other trouble on course from day two included some shivering horses and riders who overnighted on the steppe and risked hypothermia; a lost sleeping bag (downright treacherous in these conditions); runaway mounts; and the first marmot hole victim, who went buns over teakettle but got right back on, no worse for the wear.

Almost all the riders made it to a checkpoint to have a safe, dry sleep tonight, though some will accrue time penalties for riding past the cut-off point in order to make it there. There are three riders who stopped between Urtuus to hunker down overnight, and we hope very much they found some shelter. We’re sending you guys warm thoughts!

Forecasts for tomorrow are looking MUCH better, with some of the checkpoints already appearing clear, and the western checkpoints clearing up at around 2 a.m. Mongolian time. That doesn’t mean the weather can’t change in an instant out on the steppe, but hopefully it gives all the riders a chance to dry out and cover some ground.

As the day carries on for us and night envelopes the riders on the other side of the globe, we find Wylie’s husband Tommy’s words very poignant: “Each dot on the map, from the front of the pack to the back, is somebody’s pride and joy — inspiring their loved ones back home and risking practically everything to chase a dream.”

It’s an incredible and diverse array of riders, and we’re crossing our fingers for safe rides for all. We send our appreciation to the event organizers and the local families and horsemen who are watching out for the riders and horses.

Go Wylie!

Jenni Autry contributed to this report.

Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby, Powered by SmartPak: Leslie Leads Day 1!

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie is attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

Held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for updates on Leslie’s ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

Leslie Wylie leaving horse station 2 on day 1 of the 2017 Mongol Derby. Picture by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby/The Adventurists.

The entire team at Nation Media (Eventing Nation, Horse Nation and Jumper Nation) agreed early this morning that we all slept terribly last night. Kristen had nightmares about the Mongolian steppe, while Lorraine was tossing and turning in half-state of wakefulness, imagining she was trying to remember how exactly a compass works. Our ferocious, never-pick-a-fight-with-that-one editor at EN Jenni Autry admits that even she got a little misty-eyed this morning, as we all did when we saw this:

All of us woke up to see our own Leslie Wylie well out in front on day 1 at the Mongol Derby!

The ponies set off at at 10 a.m. Mongolian time (10 p.m. EST last night) from that little green flag, and 12 hours later, that little red dot at the front of the pack is our very own Leslie Wylie.

She was the only rider to make it to the third checkpoint in time to get vetted, supply up, and move on before the official end of day one, when all riders must dismount and camp for the night. This means that Leslie will have a good head start on the competition going into day two, and also means that she’ll be sleeping on the steppe with only her hobbled pony for company.

Leslie Wylie arriving at horse station 2 on day 1 of the 2017 Mongol Derby. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby/The Adventurists.

Kristen and I mused over whether or not sleeping in the wide open landscape of an ancient rural nation was lonely or incredible, and ultimately opted for incredible. No light pollution, no snoring competitors, and a whole new skyscape to stare at before drifting off to sleep for the next incredible day’s journey. (Not to mention the morale boost of being in the lead!)

Leslie’s camping spot for the first night.

Then we zoomed in on her camping spot for the night only to discover that she made it to at least some form of civilization, at least by Mongolian standards. We doubt the Golden Meadows Shopping Mall has a P.F. Chang’s, but it’s far better than sleeping exposed to the elements out on the steppe!

Timeline of Day One

All of the riders completed two days of training with much success, and reports on the ground say it’s a reserved and focused group of riders. Leslie is probably saving her wine for later, as we can assume from this report.

(That’s our own LW in the black SmartPak coat!)

The competitors wrapped up race preparations in prayer with the local lamas, who prayed for a safe journey for all horses and humans.

It was a gorgeous day on the steppe to start the race, with heavy rain moving through briefly in the early afternoon, but appearing to let up in the overnight hours. On the outset, it looks like the horses were ready to run, and we can’t wait to see what other ponies will make appearances in the weeks to come. According to one of the on-site vets, they’re a “strapping set” to get going!

So far, no major problems to report on course for any of the riders. There has been one reported injury so far. Pierre Germaine from Owings Mills, Maryland had to get stitches on his face, but got right back in the saddle and pushed on.

Early on, riders had the choice of following the course over a fairly intense ridge, or going a longer flatter route, and it appears the riders who stayed the course but took on the elevation change (including Leslie) made out better, arriving at the first checkpoint ahead of the long flat routers.

All of the riders have made it to at least the first checkpoint, with 13 riders bunked in at Urtuu #2,  eight riders stopped at Urtuu #3, (nine if you count the one who appears slightly lost to the south) and another dozen or so camped somewhere out on the steppe.

There were a handful of penalties assigned at the end of day one, as well: Eleven veterinary penalties were issued to riders for “speedy riding and rather daring navigation.” They will get two hours of penalty time each, where they’ll be required to wait two extra hours at checkpoint #11 whenever they arrive there. Two riders received a late penalty for continuing on 30 minutes after the cut-off time at 8:30. They had initially planned to camp, then changed their minds and gone on to station 3. They will be penalized three hours each.

According to the organizers, it’s not unusual for riders to get penalties in the first couple of days as they learn to navigate the terrain, judge their horses better, and estimate time and distance. Then usually the penalties drop off quite a bit.

With the 12-hour time difference from Mongolia to the East Coast, we get underway again later tonight at around 10 p.m. EST.

As you’re following along, here’s some things we’re learning about how the live GPS tracking works:

  • You can click each dot to see who the participant is, how far they’ve traveled, their average speed, and if they’ve uploaded information ahead of time, some of their biography.
  • At a specified hour, all competitors — whether on course or stopped at a checkpoint — have to stop moving forward and hunker down until morning.
  • Occasionally, the GPS devices seem to be going offline and then pinging again later on. This is why it looks like some competitors are traveling in straight lines, when in fact, they’re twisting and turning through canyons, hill country, and around rivers and lakes.
  • The Mongol Derby Live Updates on Twitter are the best moment-by-moment info during the race. They’re using initials for riders to make things easier. Leslie’s call sign is LW. You can get a full list of abbreviations here.

Leslie’s progress as of 6:15 EST this morning (the red dot). Despite fan theories that she had taught her pony to fly, it’s more likely that her GPS tracker went offline slightly before pinging again, giving her the appearance of some incredibly straight direction of travel.

We’ll continue to bring you daily updates from the Mongol trail. You can also follow along via Mongol Derby Twitter (Leslie’s call sign is LW) for live updates. Track the riders via GPS here. Go Wylie!

Best of JN: Grooms Finally Get Their Due From FEI

Left to right: Nanna-Riikka Nieminen, Brent Kuylen, Jackie Potts, FEI President Ingmar De Vos, Alan Davies. Photo courtesy of FEI Media.

Following a survey of national federations by the FEI, it was determined that grooms were vastly underrepresented and underserved in the governing body of all major equestrian sports, and the FEI has begun the process of making it right.

The FEI invited four world class grooms from show jumping, eventing and dressage to come and speak with the FEI’s president and give their role in the sport a voice.

Thanks to input from Brent Kuylen of Belgium who grooms for Jeroen Dubbeldam (show jumping), Nanna-Riikka Nieminen of Finland who grooms for Henrik von Eckermann (show jumping), Alan Davies who grooms for Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester (dressage) and Jackie Potts who grooms for William Fox Pitt (eventing), it’s been determined that grooms will now be officially registered with the FEI in their own role.

Through this registration, grooms will have their own interface with the FEI to streamline paperwork, educational opportunities, and prepping horses and riders for travel and events.

“Grooms play an absolutely vital role in our sport, especially in preserving the welfare of our horses, but often they go unnoticed and unrecognised,” said FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “Grooms are truly worth their weight in gold, and we want to provide the finest resources and tools that will help increase knowledge of best practices and standards. Forging better relationships with our grooms is only the beginning. We want to help them share their knowledge with the wider community for the benefit of the sport globally.”

“I think this is a real step forward,” said Jackie Potts following the meeting. “It’s good to try and keep the standards up and use the experience and the knowledge that some of us have gained over the years, in keeping welfare a priority and keeping grooms in the industry as well.”

The FEI says they will now focus on integrating, building a registration process and outreach to start an education and communication portal.

There will also be additional meetings with grooms in coming months–the next meeting will include additional grooms from more disciplines and will be held in conjunction with the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

Pres. De Vos couldn’t be more right when he says grooms are unappreciated and unnoticed at the top of our sport, and every step to change that is a positive one. (A groom really shouldn’t have to get kicked in the head at the Olympics to get their proper due.)

Kiss and cry cameras have helped highlight some of the connection grooms have to their horses, and more riders are doing their part to give their grooms public credit, but official recognition should be the first step in many by the FEI in demonstrating the importance of grooms to world-ranked riders and the success of the sport.

[New Grooms Working Group Has First Meeting with FEI President]


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! 

IOC Reveals Proposed Equestrian Sites for 2024 Games in Paris and Los Angeles

Meeting of the IOC in Lausanne earlier this week. Photo courtesy of IOC Media.

This post was originally published on EN’s sister site Jumper Nation. Check out JN for news and commentary from the hunter/jumper world and beyond! 

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee released the site evaluations for the two remaining cities bidding to host the Olympic Summer Games in 2024. These site evaluations require each city to describe in detail where each event would be hosted, from water polo to track & field to kayaking. This includes the equestrian events, and both Paris and Los Angeles have indicated their proposed plans for the world’s top horses.

Paris, if selected, has chosen to host dressage, show jumping, and eventing (assuming all those sports are included in the 2024 program) at the Palais de Versailles, a massive complex best known for its chateau, but which also recently hosted its first CSI 5* Show Jumping event this year.

The Chateau des Versailles. Photo: Panoramas/flickr/CC.

The complex of multiple buildings and grounds directly west of Paris is an elegant venue with sufficient acreage to host all three events, including the cross country portion of three day eventing. There is a long-standing equestrian academy on site, and the entire estate is steeped with horse history over the centuries.

According to the IOC evaluaton, the spectator stands for the arena events will be temporary construction and have a capacity of approximately 20,500 (Rolex Stadium capacity, for comparison holds about 8,000 in the grandstand and 30,000 with the additional bleacher seating.) Versailles is 40 minutes from the Olympic Village, which is comparable to previous host cities.

Courtesy of the IOC.

If Los Angeles has the opportunity to host the 2024 Olympic Games, they’ve chosen the Sepulvida Valley Sports Complex as the host site of the equestrian events.  About 11 miles from the Olympic Village at UCLA, Sepulvida Basin’s acreage will – according to the hosts – be sufficient to host all three equestrian disciplines, canoe slalom, and shooting.

The temporary arena will have a seating capacity of 15,000, and there is large, uncultivated space that should be sufficient for a world class cross country course. No buildings, residents, or businesses will be displaced by the Games, as the Sepulvida Basin is currently a sort of “under-utilized” space.

Though as it happens, there is a reason for this: The basin is an emergency flood zone, intended to stop significant damage in the city if the Los Angeles River were to overflow. The good news is: August is most definitely not a time of year that California experiences flooding, and even in the high water rains earlier this year, the basin’s use as a flood plain was limited.

In terms of equestrian event experience, France hosted the World Equestrian Games in Normandy in 2014, as did Lexington in 2010. Both cities were required to list what championships and world cups their countries have hosted in the past 10 years, and embarrassingly, the Los Angeles bidding committee failed to note that the U.S. hosted the FEI World Cup Finals in Jumping and Dressage just this year in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as its previous three stops in neighboring Las Vegas, Nevada. (France has also hosted a world cup – Lyon 2014 – which their bidding committee did list.)

Courtesy of the IOC.

Both Paris and Los Angeles would be repeat Olympic Games hosts; LA hosted the 1984 and 1932 Games, and Paris the 1924 Games.

There is a candidate city briefing for the IOC Committee next week in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the final host city selection vote will take place in Lima, Peru in September of this year.

Best of JN: Queen of Equitation Taylor St. Jacques Goes 4-4 at Devon

Taylor St. Jacques and Charisma. PC: Phelps Media

In Jumper Nation’s first post-win interview, Taylor St. Jacques of Glen Allen, Virginia made it clear that she came to Devon full of warmth for the venue and fire for the win – four wins to be exact. In two days, Taylor and Heritage Farm’s Charisma claimed the top WIHS score out of both phases, the Pessoa Medal, her Maclay group yesterday, and finally the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship. While it’s an incredible feat, anything less would not have met Taylor’s expectations.

“It feels incredible. He’s an incredibly special horse,” Taylor said in the press conference following the championship. “I really wanted to make it a special Devon; he’s an incredible horse, and he’s a winner, and so my goal was to win as much as I could here.”

Taylor and all the riders in the final – six elegant young equestrians to be exact – executed nearly without fault a technical course which required both horse and rider to be steady early on, stretch themselves for some forward bending lines in the middle of the course, and finally pull it all back together for the final series of fences. It was Taylor’s event to lose going in, and even with the challenge of going first, she executed smooth lines and perfect striding and distances throughout, ensuring no one would be able to catch her.

“It’s a lot more technical here, you can’t just coast around and if you get lucky, you get lucky…you really have to know how to ride the courses here to be successful,” Taylor said. “That’s how it should be, it’s a top show, you should have harder courses to make the best stand out.”

McKayla Langmeier and Calderon B. PC: Phelps

Also throwing down a nearly flawless round was Reserve Champion and 2015 Maclay Final winner McKayla Langmeier aboard her mother Linda’s Calberon B. McKayla worked hard to get her striding without making it look hard, and no doubt gave the judges plenty to think about with her trip in the final.

“I’ve been coming to Devon for awhile, this is a newer mount for me in the equitation, and this was his first time in the ring here, so I thought he was really amazing,” McKayla said after her ride. “I couldn’t have asked him to be any better, he went in there and performed perfect.”

It’s an impressive accomplishment for a horse who as recently as the end of last year was getting passed around to a lot of riders for several years as a low jumpers mount for both juniors and adult ammies. He had virtually no equitation experience before coming to the Langmeiers (McKayla trains with her parents, Kenny and Linda), and in half a season has become one of the most formidable eq horses in the business.

Annabel Revers and Quax, fourth place. Screenshot via USEF Network.

Annabel Revers and Quax took home the yellow ribbon in the championship, qualifying in the last possible class by winning the C section of the ASPCA Maclay. Annabel and the 16-hand Oldenburg gelding had to stretch to match the strides of the larger horses in spots, but made the steady work look absolutely flawless. The pair have been together for two and a half years and know how to make each other soar.

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Hayley Redifer of Barboursville, Virginia and Ballon took fourth in today’s final with a workmanlike performance that got the job done, as did Samantha Cohen of New York, NY, who secured fifth place aboard Kaskade after finding a couple of barely long distances in a field where inches made all the difference.

The only mishap of the afternoon was Cooper Dean’s trip with Kori D’Oro, who it appears just failed to lock on to one of the moss-covered oxers on course and the two had a drive-by, ending their shot at the title. It’s a younger horse at only eight in a sea of veterans who still made a huge impression over the weekend, and we imagine we’ll see back in the eq winner’s circle again this year.

While the equitation classes at Devon are complete, there is still much more junior action to come at Devon in the junior hunter and jumper divisions. Keep it locked on JN for more from the Blue Oval!

*Many thanks to field reporter Kristen Kovatch for her contributions to this story!

Full Results:

  1. Taylor St. Jacques and Charisma, owned by Heritage Farms
  2. McKayla Langmeier and Calderon B, owned by Linda Langmeier
  3. Annabel Revers and Quax, owned by Beechwood Stables LLC
  4. Haley Redifer and Ballon, owned by Haley Redifer
  5. Samantha Cohen and Kaskade, owned by Samantha Cohen
  6. Cooper Dean and Kori D’Oro, owned by Heritage Farms

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! 

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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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: