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Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

This should really not be that mesmerizing. I really should not be watching it on loop. I am not absolutely fascinated by Michael Jung making random faces and it absolutely does not make him adorable and relatable. Not at all.

National Holiday: Ice Cream Day (Because it’s not cold or anything…)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Patiently waiting for 2018…

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Our historic Fair Hill winner Foxwood High is up for EquiRatings Horse of the Year. Foxwood High capped off a banner year by becoming the first Canadian winner of Fair Hill. This capped off a season that saw his dressage drop ten points from start to finish, his stadium improve and his cross country faster. [ER HOTY Contender]

Breaking tack on course is everyone’s worst nightmare. And yet, it seems to happen more often than it should. Re-live tales of riders who have broken tack and gone on to finish…or take the sensible route and retire when it’s too dangerous. [7 Terrifying Moments]

The Intercollegiate Championships will return to VAHT again. After hosting for two years, VAHT has been awarded the Intercollegiate Championships for one more year before they are opened up for a bid for the next three years. The USEA hopes to rotate to venues accessible to other college programs to grow the Intercollegiate participation. [Intercollegiate Championships Will Return]

SmartPak Product of the Day: Guys. Horseware products are on sale. Horseware products haven’t been on sale as long as I remember, so please go stock up on Rambo turnouts while you can! [SmartPak]

Congrats to Morgan, our day two winner of EN’s 12 Days of Christmas giveaways! Morgan will receive a StretchTech Shoulder Relief Girth from our awesome sponsor Total Saddle Fit. Tune in to EN later today for your next chance to win a prize from one of EN’s awesome sponsors.

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Stephanie Cordell and Codename Toby tackle new heights. Photo by Dillon Cordell.

This is both the quietest time of year (no USEA events) and busiest time of year (schooling shows, clinics, derbies, and lessons). Loch Moy Farm has a long standing tradition of running year-round schooling shows on their all-weather arenas, letting everyone dip their toes into a higher level at the end of the season in a bit of a tamer setting like a derby. Oh, and bonus points for festive decor!

National Holiday: Put On Your Own Shoes Day #adulting

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Not one single event! 2017 is in the books!

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

The Southern California Equestrian Sports Foundation has announced their grant recipients. Grant recipients were  chosen based on their dedication for the betterment of equestrian sports. This year, Allison Springer, Lauren Billys, and Gina Miles were all chosen to receive the award. [SCES Announces Grant Recipients]

Galway Downs is always making efforts to upgrade their facilities. Numerous trainers, primarily West Coast based but also including riders like Boyd Martin, have offered their services to the 20th Annual Galway Downs Eventing Fundraiser Clinic. Proceeds will go to help upgrade the cross-country course. [20th Annual Galway Downs Fundraiser]

EquiRatings reminds us that a year can make a big difference. A year ago, names like Bulana and Ballaghmore Class weren’t household names. Horses like these two, along with Hunter Valley II and Vanir Kamira leapt forward from their performances of 2016. Who will step up to the plate and give us some unexpected brilliance in 2018? [Top Level Improvers of 2017]

SmartPak Product of the Day: If you haven’t been paying attention, SmartPak is still running their 25 Days of Christmas! Yesterday was Back on Track products being sweetened with an extra gift, what is today’s sale offering? [SmartPak]

Wednesday News & Notes from Smart Pak

Giving Tuesday can be fun! Photo via Will Faudree Eventing FB Page

It’s wonderful to see eventers giving back this time of year, and Will Faudree Eventing is making a tradition of it this year, recruiting Bobby Costello and John Zopatti to crew the 2nd Annual Celebrity Bartending Event. The occasion raised money for the Hearts 4 Heroes Corporation, a nonprofit that connects service members with physical and mental disabilities and trauma with canine- and equine-assisted therapy. If that’s not a worthy cause, I don’t know what is.

National Holiday: Square Dance Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Our very own Buck Davidson and Carlevo have been noted as one to watch for 2018. EquiRatings notes that the horse has finished in every place inside the top ten except for the elusive win. Is that a portent of things to come for next year? [A Win on the Way]

Boyd is expanding his horizons this December with some clinics in Japan. Boyd will be holding a number of clinics in association with the NRCAJ (the Japanese riding association), the JRA (the Japanese Racing Association), and Godolphin. The clinics will aim to help riders in Japan learn how to transition OTTB to new careers, particularly eventing. [Martin to Host Clinics]

Stuart Tinney’s near-miss with a flag at Adelaide has stirred plenty of debate. With the rules in place for 2018, the FEI will be taking another year to evaluate the definition of a runout after Stuart Tinney’s horse almost entirely missed the fence but still managed to pass his shoulder inside a flag. The USEF will revert to the previous rule of elimination while waiting for the FEI to settle on final language. [The 50 Penalty Rule]

SmartPak Product of the Day: This isn’t exactly the time of year to think about buying heat gear, but the holiday sales are often a great time to get deals on summer wear like this Kastel Sun Shirt using the Holiday17 coupon code! [SmartPak]

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

We should all take a moment to hail a cab in the company of Bruce. Photo via JJ Sillman’s FB page.

It’s the time of year when everyone waxes poetic about what makes them thankful. JJ Sillman, photographer extraordinaire and member of the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope rescue takes a minute to recount how lucky she is to work for the rescue:

“After a two hour trail ride around the Kentucky Horse Park pretending that I was a 4* rider on my trusty Paso Fino…. I have to say again how thankful I am for all of my amazing coworkers, multiple bosses, sweet clients, and all of the fabulous horses I get to work with and learn from at my job. I am so lucky.”

Thank you for giving back to the horses, JJ! I think all of EN will join me in saying we are thankful for your selfless hours of taking stunning photos at events as well!

National Holiday: Go For a Ride Day (Seriously, need to burn all that turkey off this week somehow!)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Sam has made it look easier than it is, but having a top 10 finishing streak at the CCI4* level is an incredible feat. EquiRatings recounts the legacy of these equine legends, who finished in the top ten at least four consecutive times at the four-star level. Spoiler alert, La Biosthetique Sam owns the largest streak by double the number of the horse who comes in second. [The Elite Group of Four Star Specialists]

With the 2018 calendar out, it’s time to start making some decisions! GEarl and Jen McFall have to make sure plan plenty in advance, with a sales and training program, pony club, and breeding all going on. They often pick a ‘must-go’ event and work backwards from that when planning their calendar. [Planning Your Event Calendar]

Have you ever wanted a stable where your horses can graze on your roof? It might not be high on your list of priorities but after seeing these stunning photos of the stables of Nacho Figueras, a top polo player in Argentina, you might want to reconsider. [Modern Architecture]

SmartPak Product of the Day: SmartPak’s 25 Deals of Christmas has started! Each day SmartPak reveals their special for the day, for 25 days straight! Yesterday’s deal was on Piper breeches and tops, what will today’s sale be for? [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Ocala Jockey Club CIC3*

In only its second year of existence, Ocala Jockey Club International has managed to draw one of the strongest North American fields of the year. The draw of having a CIC3* so late in the year in a warm climate, with top notch organizers and course designers has proven a real draw to many professionals, many of whom base their winter operations out of Ocala.

The stunning Ocala Jockey Club. Photo by Jenni Autry.

#OJC3DE: WebsiteScheduleOrder of Draw, Live ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s Instagram

The Event

  • Last year’s inaugural running of the CIC3* was won on a tie-breaker by Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF, who finished within the optimum time to take the win over Jonathan Holling and Downtown Harrison. It was only the fifth time this decade that a three-star has been decided on a tie-breaker.
  • Matt and Super Socks BCF also set a North American record for biggest movers, moving to the win from tenth after dressage. This is the biggest move this decade to win a North American CIC3* in a field with less than 40 starters.
  • The top five finishers last year all jumped clear and inside the time in the stadium phase, making show jumping performance extremely important at this venue.
  • Buck Davidson and Carlevo were the only pair to break into the thirties in the dressage last year; this year’s field contains multiple pairs who could break that threshold.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Dressage Divas

  • Fernhill By Night and Liz Halliday-Sharp own the lowest 3* average in the field over the past two years, clocking in just over forty with a 40.4. They’ve twice dipped down into the high thirties in this time period, and they’ve been getting close to breaking that threshold again this fall season.
  • Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous have also flirted heavily with the thirties at the Advanced and 3* level since 2016, almost equaling their personal best for the level at Jersey Fresh this spring when they led the field with a 37.7 before scoring similarly at the Luhmuhlen CCI4*. This pair hovers in the 41 range on a very consistent basis, with four of their eight career Advanced and 3* tests ranging from 41.1 to 41.7.
  • Katie Ruppel and Houdini were always strong at dressage but they’ve really raised the bar since 2016, clocking in five consecutive sub-45 scores at Advanced and 3* out of their seven starts in that time period. They’ve twice dipped into the high thirties, including this fall at Richland Park.
  • Harbour Pilot and Hannah Sue Burnett are consistently competitive, clocking in score after score in the forties, but have only once managed to crack into the thirties in their career. At Houghton Hall in May, these two laid down a personal best of 37.2 but have floated up to the high forties in their subsequent shows.
  • Vermiculus is also worth keeping an eye on after knocking nearly nine points off his dressage average between 2016 and 2017. He hasn’t been out at this level since Kentucky, but Lauren Kieffer is never a rider to discount for a big score on day one.

Alyssa Phillips and Bliss III. Photo by JJ Sillman Photography.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • Cooley Dream has been consistent as clockwork in the stadium phase with Hannah Sue Burnett, going five for five in clear stadium rounds at the Advanced and CIC3* levels.
  • Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are extraordinarily consistent in the show jumping phase; they’ve jumped clear in 17 of their last 19 consecutive 3* and Advanced starts. This pair hasn’t had a single rail since Cambalda returned to competition this year.
  • Bliss III and Alyssa Phillips had a rail at their very first Advanced, way back in 2015 at Twin Rivers. They haven’t touched a pole since, jumping clear in eight consecutive stadium rounds together at this level.

Kurt Martin and Anna Bella. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Cross Country Machines

  • Simply Priceless and Elisa Wallace have a reputation for speed, and with good reason. This pair has the fastest average pace of the field at the CIC3*/Advanced levels over the past two seasons, clocking in an average of only 8.6 seconds over optimum time.
  • Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda have been pushing the pace all year, clocking in their first round inside the time at Plantation Field since Cambalda’s return to competition. Their last three runs average 1.67 seconds under optimum, while their overall pace for the year sits at 9.6 seconds over.
  • Anna Bella has had a light year with Kurt Martin, but she’s already sped back up to her 2015 form. In her last competition season prior to a hiatus, this mare averaged only 6.33 seconds over the optimum. This year she shaved 20 seconds off her pace between her first show back and her second, accumulating only 4.8 time penalties at Plantation Field.
  • Atlantic Domino could also be a challenger for fastest round of the day. Atlantic Domino and Jacob Fletcher haven’t competed at this level since 2015 and struggled with consistency up until their final runs, but notched in two very fast rounds once they achieved it. With strength in the other two phases, this pair could be a surprise contender for a top placing by Sunday.

PREDICTED WINNER: Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo by Amy Dragoo Photography.

Pairs to Watch:

  • Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous
  • Phillip Dutton and Indian Mill, I’m Sew Ready
  • Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot
  • Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night
  • Kurt Martin and Anna Bella
  • Katie Ruppel and Houdini
  • Jacob Fletcher and Atlantic Domino

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Jessica Phoenix is going mainstream. Photo via Jessica Phoenix FB page.

Jessica Phoenix is the subject of a the new book ‘Rise’, coming out soon, which details her recovery from a life-threatening injury in 2015 to achieving a second team spot on the Canadian Olympic team. I have always been a touch jealous of Jessica’s last name, which lends itself so well to metaphor of the best kind.

National Holiday: Cook Something Bold Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Full Moon Farms H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Poplar Place Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

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

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Sometimes greatness spans generations. Many may remember Jane Sleeper and her mare UN tacking Rolex and Burghley in past years. Now UN’s legacy has continued on not only in her offspring but in her years as a schoolmaster. Now 22, she has broguth others through to the Intermediate level while her first offspring are confidently tackling the 2* level and jumpers. [UN Spreads Her Legacy]

We’ve all heard horror stories of tack malfunctioning, but this takes the cake. Ginny Howe and her mount Echo P were both lucky to walk away unscathed after they had a girth completely give way two strides out from a table in a CCI2*. The girth appeared to give out internally, despite visual inspection prior to their run, and the rider and saddle were well enough balanced that they didn’t even realize something was wrong until a few strides from the next combination. [Watch Eventer Survive Hairy Moment]

Four-star events can both be nail-biters to the finish and foregone conclusions. Gwendolen Fer and Romantic Love’s win at Pau was done by the narrowest margin allowed by eventing scoring, and they aren’t the only ones to eke out at win in a stunning finish. EquiRatings takes a look at several of the tightest finishes as well as the biggest margins that we’ve seen at the 4* level in the past decade. [A Game of Inches]

SmartPak Product of the Day: SmartPak is having one of their perk sales, meaning anything of the SmartPak brand is on sale. I use this opportunity to pick up staples like this small-hole haynet, which keeps my brats from tearing out all their hay and throwing it on the floor of the trailer, then looking at me sadly when there is no hay left. [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Galway Downs CCI3*

Welcome to Galway Downs, the final CCI3* not just in North America for 2017, but the final CCI3* in the entire Northern Hemisphere for the year. This year has an extra touch of excitement as Eric Winter, course designer for Badminton for the first time in 2017, and for Blenheim through 2016, will make his U.S. debut here.

Photo courtesy of Galway Downs

The Event

  • In the history of the division, no one has ever broken into the 30s in dressage. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter have come the closest, scoring a 40.5 in 2015.
  • In the past three years, the optimum time has swing from being impossible to make to easy to make. In 2014, none of the 17 cross-country starters made the time while in 2016 44.4% of the nine starters achieved a round inside the optimum.
  • Six of the seven winners of this division have been in first place going into the stadium phase. However, none of the winners were in the lead following dressage and only four of the seven winners were even inside the top three.
  • James Alliston has won this division twice with two different horses, and is the only rider to have won it more than once. Can he make it a trifecta this year?

James Alliston and Happenstance. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Dressage Divas

  • James Alliston and Happenstance are making only their fifth start together but they’ve dropped their dressage score at every successive outing they’ve had. If they maintain their current trajectory, they could end up with a score in the low 40s, but even their best together of 45.1 at Woodside last month should put them near the top on day one.
  • Betawave and Robyn Fisher haven’t quite acheived a drop in their score at every outing, with their personable best being the USEF equivalent of a 44.1 at Copper Meadows in June, followed by the USEF equivalent of 45.5 again in September at the same venue. However, they have been consistent in chipping off a couple of points at most outings, with their last three events averaging at 46.7 penalties.

Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cross Country Machines

  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me have been noted all year as one of the fastest pairs on the circuit and you can expect a quick pace from them this weekend as well. These two really put the pedal to the metal starting in 2016, averaging only five seconds over the time at the Advanced and 3* level in the past two years. Their 12-month average stands at only three seconds over optimum, with 12 seconds or less over optimum at every Advanced/3* they’ve been to this year.
  • Happenstance has also been quite quick in his outings with James Alliston this year, clocking in at an average of eleven seconds over optimum time. Although they haven’t yet had a CCI round together, James is known for his speedy rounds aboard Parker, and if anything should improve on that time at a CCI.

Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon have historically jumped well in the final phase, with their average over the last two calendar year trending towards a clear round. In their four career CCI3* rounds, they’ve jumped clean three times, only incurring a rail at their very first CCI3*.
  • Rise Against and Bunnie Sexton have been incurring a rail more often than not in the past twelve months, after years of jumping mostly clear rounds. However, they average less than a rail at their seven CCI attempts at the 3/4* levels and their only clear round in the last year was at the Rebecca CCI3*, their only CCI stadium round in that time period.

PREDICTED WINNER: James Alliston and Happenstance

James Alliston and Happenstance. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Keep Your Eye On:

  • Robyn Fisher and Betawave
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me
  • Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon

Galway Downs: Website, Ride Times, Schedule

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Alexandra Baugh won her first CIC2* this weekend at Virginia Horse Trials, and her little sister Victoria completed her first Beginner Novice on an actual unicorn! Curioso the pony Alexandra’s former Prelim pony. Photo courtesy of mom, Kelly Baugh.

One of my absolute favorite things about Halloween is seeing the many ways people dress up their horses and babies. So far today I’ve seen a baby as the mouse in a mousetrap, a young girl dressed as Wonder Woman, and someone who thought it would be funny to send her (or his?) toddler to preschool dressed as the clown from It. But I have to admit, I absolutely love this unicorn which gives me flashbacks to Rainbow Brite’s horse Starlite.

National Holiday: All Saint’s Day

Major Events This Weekend:

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

U.S. Weekend Preview:

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

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

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Best of the blogs: Giant, Fragile, Glorious Creatures. Lauren Sprieser’s always got a wise word or two to drop, and with one of her top developing horses narrowly escaping a colic scare, she suddenly has the right words at the right time. As strong and magnificent as our partners are, things can go south in a moment, regardless of the care we give them. [Giant, Fragile, Glorious Creatures]

The Retired Racehorse is turning into more than just a show; it’s turning into a sale of sorts. When I had the chance to buy the second horse of my lifetime eighteen months ago, I knew I wanted a Thoroughbred. I had an overly healthy budget for a TB straight off the track but I wanted a chance to ride the horse before vetting, a chance to see it in person that you can’t always do when shopping for OTTB. The RRTP is developing into a destination for buyers of TBs, where you can go and see many quality sporthorses all in one weekend, try them, and even vet them all in one venue. [Katie Hasse Didn’t Plan on Buying a Horse]

The eventing season is wrapping up and the familiar signs of cabin fever are already setting in. Between venturing out to do ‘normal people’ things on the weekend and seeing people sum up their years on social media, the signs are all there that the eventing year is nearly at a close. While some of these signs are specific to Britain, the rest seem all to familiar. [13 Ways]

SmartPak Product of the Day: It might not be the time of year to be thinking about buying gear for next spring, but some of the off-season sales can’t be missed. SmartPak has a deal on the Pro Choice Mesh XC Boots, which are my absolute favorite due to their lightweight, flexible fit, pliable protection, and ability to shed water. [SmartPak]

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Jennie Brannigan’s goat Aoki says she’ll have what you’re having. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cauffman.

Sometimes we all need a goofball around to survive the day. Some of those goofballs are in human form, some in dog, and some have the assistance of a goat goofball to lighten the mood.

National Holiday: World Pasta Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Virginia CCI, CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

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

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

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Andrea Baxter’s got unfinished business at Burghley. After a bit of prize money at Rebecca Farm made a trip across the pond possible, Andrea wanted to tackle the biggest 4* in the world. An unfortunate fall at fence 12 led to an unplanned extended stay and a successful run at Blenheim, one of the toughest 3* in the world. Andrea’s already making plans to tackle Burghley again with Indy 500. [Andrea Baxter and Indy 500]

Rebecca Farm is continuing in their crusade to Halt Cancer at X. They’ll be going live on Facebook on Thursday, October 26 at 10 a.m. MST to announce this year’s 2017 local Halt Cancer at X Grant Recipients (national grants will be announced in a few months) and share a few more survivor stories. [Rebecca Farm on Facebook]

In case you missed it, Florida has added yet another venue to its winter event schedule. The Grand Oaks Resort is pleased to announce Nupafeed USA as their newest Champion Sponsor for the 2018 competition year. Nupafeed will be sponsoring their Winter Horse Festival beginning Saturday, December 9th 2017, which will have both schooling shows and events running through February 2018. [TGO Winter Festival]

Virginia Horse Trials to Host 560 Horses at October CCI & Horse Trials. Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) has once again broken its own record for entries, with 560 horses entered to compete at the October CCI and Horse Trials this week. The competition includes Beginner Novice through Intermediate horse trials as well as international CCI2*, CIC2*, and CCI* levels. VHT will also host the Area II Championships and both Adult Rider and Intercollegiate Team Challenges. [VHT Has Record Entries]

SmartPak Product of the Day: SmartPak has some notoriously good sales on their SmartPak branded items from time to time, and every time they do I make sure to pick up some staples. These halters are durable, affordable, and great to have around as emergency replacement halters. [SmartPak]

The local programs supported by Rebecca Farm’s Halt Cancer at X are saving lives. Join Halt Cancer at X on Facebook on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. MST as they live announce this year’s 2017 local Halt Cancer at X Grant Recipients (national grants will be announced in a few months) and share more survivor stories. [Rebecca Farm on Facebook]

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Tiana Coudray is ready for Le Lion. Photo courtesy of Tiana Coudray.

There’s no better between the ears than a French between the ears! Welcome to Le Lion where the grass is very green, the chateaus are rolling, and the cream of the crop is descending upon the French countryside. Good luck to all our North American competitors this weekend!

National Holiday: No Beard Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Waredaca Classic N/T3DE & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Windermere Run H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

Fresno County Horse Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Hagyard Midsouth Classic 3DE, CCI, & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Barbados is trying to put together an event teamIf you’ve got ten minutes to spare, take a listen to this short podcast, which expands on how Barbados eventers are trying to make a go of it. [Barbados Eventers]

Lauren Kieffer has a whole crop of young ones coming up behind her stars. Despite spending all summer and fall over in England, Lauren didn’t neglect her youngsters. She spent the time flying back and forth to keep them going, concentrating on their adjustability, boldness, and simply working out where their limbs are depending on their specific needs. [Young Horses Take Their Own Courses]

Boyd Martin put on a hunt cap (figuratively) the day after Fair Hill. Because finishing third in the Fair Hill CCI3* wasn’t enough, Boyd decided to drive up to Harrisburg for the Gentleman’s Hunter Under Saddle. Catch riding Right On Que, he managed to pick up a blue ribbon without blinking an eye. [He Saw, He Conquered]

Lexi Wikstrom is burning the candle at both ends. As a project manager in the construction industry who works on road widening projects, Lexi is used to being at work before the crack of dawn. She follows up long construction days with rides on her two OTTBs, who she’s been working with since 2009. [Amateurs Like Us]

SmartPak Product of the Day: Finally fall temperatures are here and with that is the tendency to add and remove layers all day long. A nice down vest can keep the body warm with the arms cool, and help regulate that temperature. [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Fair Hill CCI3* Show Jumping Day

Fair Hill is often a nail-biter down to the very last ride on Sunday, with clear rounds shooting people up the ranks while hearts break on the other side of things. It’s a three-phase event for a reason, and show jumping is as much a factor as every other phase for Fair Hill.

Having said that, nine of the last 10 winners in the Fair Hill CCI3* have come from the top two following cross country. The only pair to win from outside the top two was Amy Tryon and Coal Creek in 2008, who rose from sixth to the win on the merits of a fault-free show jumping round.

Similarly, every winner in the past decade has added no more than a rail to their score, with seven of 10 jumping clear. Six of the last seven winners have won on rail-free rounds.

DAY THREE CONTENDERS

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Covert Rights and Colleen Rutledge are sitting in the pole position right now, which could make the finale a real nail-biter. Covert Rights has put in a number of clutch double clear rounds, most notably jumping clear at Richland to take the win. He’s jumped two of his three CCI3/4* rounds clear and inside the time, but had two rails at the third. A recent stunner of six rails at Plantation Field throws any reliable predictions further out of whack, but they won’t be dealing with the heat and humidity that was at Plantation.

CCI Average: 0.67 rails, 24-Month Average: 1.43 rails

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High are hot on their heels but will also likely keep things interesting. At the CCI3/4* level, Selena and Foxwood High have jumped clear but only at their earliest two attempts, followed by an outlier of four rails at the World Equestrian Games, then two rails in each of their subsequent CCI attempts. This pair never has more than two rails apart from WEG, but have struggled all year to get back to one-or-none, putting in one or two rails at every show following a clear at their first event in 2017.

CCI Average: 1.60 rails, 24-Month Average: 0.82 rails

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The third placed pair, Tight Lines and Will Coleman, has been a one-or-none horse, with nine of his 10 rounds at this level being one rail or less. Unfortunately, the tenth round was at this event last year, where he pulled four rails for the only time in his career at this level. One rail has been the more frequent occurrence than none in 2017, but these two could be in a very good position to put a lot of pressure on both Selena and Colleen.

CCI Average: 2.50 rails, 24-Month Average: 1.0 rails

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac. Photo by Kasey Mueller/Rare Air Photography.

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac have only once jumped a clear three-star round out of 13 attempts. With four and three rails at Richland and Plantation Field CIC3*, respectively, Waylon will be looking to bring the horse back to his previous form of only one or two rails.

CCI Average: 1.50 rails, 24-Month Average: 2.0 rails

Boyd Martin and Testserleg. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg could be a sleeper today, with a quietly improving show jumping record that has progressed throughout the year. Three of their last four rounds have been clear, although they did have a rail and 1 time penalty in their only CCI3* attempt at Bromont. The numbers say Tsetserleg is less likely than all of the horses ranked above him to have a rail, but he would need rails down from the top two to steal the win.

CCI Average: 1.0 rails, 24-Month Average: 0.63 rails

Kurt Martin and Delux Z. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Paddy the Caddy with Erin Sylvester, Congo Brazzaville C with Mara DePuy and DeLux Z with Kurt Martin should all see big jumps in their placings if they hold to typical form. In particular, Paddy the Caddy and DeLux Z are both inside the top 10 and could easily pop up into the top five, while Congo Brazzaville C had a steadier cross country round and is now tied for 18th.

Paddy the Caddy has jumped clear rounds in 11 of his 13 starts at Advanced and three-star level, while DeLux Z has jumped 10 consecutive rail-free rounds dating back to the spring of 2016. Congo Brazzaville C has a perfect rail-free record since moving up to the Advanced level at the beginning of 2017 and will jump his first CCI3* round today.

Paddy the Caddy: CCI Average: 0.0 rails, 24-Month Average: 0.12 rails

DeLux Z: CCI Average: 0.0 rails, 24-Month Average: 0.23 rails

Congo Brazzaville C: CCI Average: N/A, 24-Month Average: 0.0 rails

By the Numbers: Fair Hill CCI3* Cross Country Day

Fair Hill isn’t known as a three-and-a-half star for nothing, and every year pairs come to test their mettle over the toughest three-star track in the country before trying for a four-star. Riders without funds to go overseas keep their four-star partners sharp by running this course and time penalties can quickly make the different between a top finish and one that merely qualifies.

Although the 2014 and 2015 runnings featured cross country times on average around 30 seconds over optimum, 2016 broke from the trend with a field average of only 1.94 seconds over optimum. A whopping 31.1% of cross-country starters finished inside the time last year, a sign of unusual dry conditions and firmer ground. Ground conditions firmly dictate how difficult it is to make the time over this course.

The CCI3* completion rate at Fair Hill has hovered around 71.68% over the past three years, with a large percentage of competitors retiring after having trouble. Last year every single pair who completed did so without jump penalties, but the completion rate itself dropped to 68.9%.

DAY TWO CONTENDERS

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kelecyn Cognac and Waylon Roberts are not generally the fastest pair on the circuit but there’s evidence to suggest this pair will be one of the fastest across the finish line this weekend. In their two previous CCI3* runs, both at Bromont, they finished an average of four seconds under optimum time. Additionally, they’ve finished inside the time in two of their last three runs, including Great Meadow CICO3* when they represented Canada on the Nations Cup team. When Waylon wants to go fast, these two go fast.

Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Fernhill Fortitude and Jenny Caras are a very experienced pair who save their fastest runs for the CCI levels. Despite averaging 10.4 time penalties overall when running clear over the last two years at the 3* and Advanced levels, these two have averaged only five seconds over optimum at their four career CCI3* runs. They’re also two-for-two on clear rounds inside the time at Fair Hill CCI3*, adding nothing to their dressage score after phase two for two consecutive years.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Valerie Durbon Photography.

You can’t mention speed without mentioning Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. This pair has been speeding through every CIC3* they’ve run over the past two years, averaging only three seconds over optimum when you discount Morven, where they ran slow over the hard ground. Despite a long career at this level, Covert Rights hasn’t properly been able to showcase his speed at a CCI yet, having only tackled his first CCI3*, first CCI4*, and first Burghley. This will be his first time as an experienced horse at the CCI3/4* level, so don’t look for him to be hanging around. Colleen will be keen to stay on her dressage score heading into stadium day.

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Timothy Bourke and Luckaun Quality have often used the horse’s massive stride to climb the leaderboard on cross country day. Their CCI3/4* average pace is two seconds under optimum time, discarding the Burghley where they lost a stirrup leather and incurred about a minute’s worth of time penalties fixing it. Having said that, these two have only actually made the optimum at two of their seven CCI3/4* attempts and average eight seconds over the time at the A/3* levels over the past 24 months.

Whitney Mahloch and Military Mind. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Another that should be mentioned as a possible speedy round are Whitney Mahloch with Military Mind. This pair is attempting their first CCI3* for both horse and rider. They’ve had some cross country trouble in their short Advanced/CIC3* career, but when they jump clear, they jump fast. Whitney and Military Mind have accumulated only 1.6 total time penalties in four clear Advanced and CIC3* rounds, with all four seconds over optimum coming at Red Hills, a notoriously difficult venue at which to make the time.This pair has capacity to have a quick, clear run in their rookie attempt, as long as they jump through all the flags clear.

Fair Hill: WebsiteScheduleXC Ride TimesCCI Live ScoresYEH Final ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

By the Numbers: Fair Hill CCI3* Dressage Day

The leaves are changing, there’s (almost) a chill in the air, and this bizarre Indian summer can’t keep us from marking the advent of Fair Hill. Without a doubt this is one of the hallmarks of the fall season and the warm temperatures could help keep things interesting.

Despite the defection of several prominent horses due to overseas competitions, rider injuries, or just general bad luck, the field remaining features quite a strong proclivity for dressage. Over the past three runnings, the dressage average of the CCI3* field has varied from 55.86 (2016) to 57.00 (2014). The expected average of this year’s field is 52.18 which indicates a higher percentage of strong dressage contenders.

The past two runnings have been won by the pair who was first after the dressage phase, but with scores clustered tightly together at the top, it may be a more difficult feat to achieve this year.  A full 18 of the 38 starters are expected to score sub-50, a full 47.3% of the field. In comparison, in the past three years the highest percentage of the field scoring sub-fifty was in 2016, when 11 of 48 starters (22.9%) scored in the 40s or below.

DAY ONE CCI3* CONTENDERS

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Colleen Rutledge has really stepped it up a level with Covert Rights this fall, with a dressage average from their last three outings that has plummeted almost 10 points from a 3* career average of 49.57 down to 40.1. This fall, these two absolutely obliterated their prior personal best of a 42.3 (scored at Rolex Kentucky in 2015) by nine full points, scoring a 33.3 at the Richland Park CIC3*. At Morven Park, they again cracked into the 30s with a 39.7, but in between floated up to a more typical score for them of 47.3 at Plantation Field.

Consistency is the big question mark with these two; they will either perform well or knock it out of the park. One disadvantage they’ll have to overcome is an early order of go as the seventh out, something they also dealt with at Plantation Field. If the judges feel there’s room for more, they may leave some wiggle room in their scoring for the horses coming later in the order.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango have always been proficient in this phase but like Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights, they’ve come out swinging for the fall season. Although their career 3* average sits at a 46.15, their last two outings (both in Advanced divisions) have plummeted into the FEI equivalent of the 30s, with a personal best at this level of 33.6 (FEI) clocked in at the Copper Meadows Advanced. These two shows put their three-show average at a 42.5. Charlie Tango will also have to overcome an early draw in the order, going right after Covert Rights.

Emily Beshear and Silver Night Lady. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Silver Night Lady completes the trio of horses who have vastly improved this fall. With Emily Beshear, this gray mare has dropped from a low-to-mid 50s horse to a low-to-mid 40s horse seemingly overnight. Their last three outings have averaged a 43.3 and their score of 42.8 (FEI equivalent) at Millbrook was a personal best at this level until they broke it at Richland with a 41.0. This pair will go midway through the order, which should be neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Carlevo has shown flashes of brilliance in his career with Buck Davidson, with a tendency to rise to the occasion and lay down scores in the 30s at big moments. They did so at both Ocala Jockey Club CIC3* last fall and again at the Tattersall CCI3* this spring, but have been inconsistent in their brilliance.

This pair had strong tests at both Richland Park and Plantation Field CIC3* putting down consecutive scores in the low 40s, but bookended these performances with a set of high-40s scores at Millbrook and Morven. Carlevo will get a boost from going in as the last horse of the day on Friday, a position he also held at Plantation Field.

Ryan Wood and Powell. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ryan Wood and Powell are the epitome of consistency, with their scores over the past 12 months all within a three point range of each other. Despite having yet to hit the 30s at a 3*, this pair is consistently up with the leaders at every show. Their last three outings have netted an average of 44.8, almost bang on their two year dressage average at this level. These two do their test in the first third of the class, and should be a good indicator of whether the judges are feeling generous or not. Expect a solid mid-40s score from this pair.

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti are the another incredibly consistent pair, hovering around the same scoring region as Powell. They’ve mustered solid mid-40s scores in their last 10 consecutive outings although they vary a touch more than Powell, ranging from 43.1 up to 47.2 in 2017. Pavarotti has only barely broken into the 30s on two occasions in his long career, but going as the next-to-last ride of the day won’t hurt any.

Tamie Smith and Wembley. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Although the remainder of the field is expected to score 45 and above, there are a couple of horses who could absolutely knock it out of the park on a good day. Clayton Fredericks and FE Ophelia have dropped their dressage score in each of their three successive outings, going from a 51.9 at Great Meadow CICO3* to a 39.5 (FEI equivalent) at Stable View Advanced. Another horse who has potential to lay down a big score is Wembley with Tamie Smith in the irons, who recently scored a 39.0 (FEI equivalent) at Advanced at Stable View as well. Finally, Buck Davidson and Park Trader can run the gamut on the range of scores from low-40s to 50s, but did throw down a 39.9 at the Rocking Horse Advanced in the beginning of the year.

Fair Hill: WebsiteDrawn OrderScheduleCCI Dressage TimesYEH Dressage TimesCCI Live ScoresYEH Live ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Photo via Fair Hill FB page.

There’s no rest for the wicked three-star riders who are literally traversing the world to compete all their mounts at the fall CCI events. Caroline Martin was a Boekelo last weekend with Pebbly Maximus and she and coach Leslie Law are now back in the States to tackle the Fair Hill CCI3* with Danger Mouse. Good luck to all of those bouncing from country to country!

National Holiday: Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day

Major Events:

Fair Hill: WebsiteDrawn OrderScheduleCCI Live ScoresYEH Live ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Hitching Post Farm H.T.  [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

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

Fleur de Leap H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Las Cruces H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

The Society of Master Saddlers’ is offering a course in the USA. For the first time, those in the US can attend a Master Saddlers’ course which will be held in Hagerstown, MD next April. Many industry professionals are eligible to attend, with participants eligible to travel overseas for the advanced course held in the UK. [Master Saddlers’ Course]

Tired of thinking of ways to supplement your income? Irish eventer Edie Murray-Hayden has found the best way to make a little cash on the side is to buy TB yearlings, break them, and pinhook them at sales. Her most recent venture cost her 56 Euro and sold for a whopping 500 Euro. I’m in! [Eventer Hooks TB Colt]

The Event Rides Association of North America is getting new leadership. As the ERA of NA transitions from the PRO organization, Jay Baughman and Helen Murray are stepping in as President-elect and Executive Director. [New Leadership at ERA of NA]

SmartPak Product of the Day: It’s theoretically fall (although the east coast weather is doing its best to convince us it’s still August), and that means it is time to think about replacing all those blankets we’ve been sitting on all summer. I hve been really impressed with the SmartPak brand of blankets, and even more impressed with their customer service! [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Woodside CIC3*

Woodside marks the penultimate conclusion of the Advanced and three-star season for the West Coast, with only the Galway CCI3* to finish up the year. The pairs contesting this weekend are an even mix of experienced pairs looking to get a good run before their fall CCI3* and horses and riders who just moved up to the level recently and are looking to get their first international level under their belt this weekend.

Photo courtsey Sherry Stewart.

The Event

  • For the past three runnings, only one pair per year has finished on their dressage score. Those F-O-D-S pairs have finished no worse than third each year.
  • More than 25% of the field has made the time over the last three years on average, which is considerably higher than the world-wide rate at the CIC3* level of 6.57%.

Sabrina Glaser and Rembrandt. Photo by Lively Manor Photography.

Dressage Divas

  • Rembrandt and Sabrina Glaser are making their CIC3* debut together, but they’ve impressed in the first phase thus far. With an average from two Advanced starts that just squeaks under 50 when converting to FEI scores, this pair should be competitive from day one.
  • James Alliston has quickly gelled with Happenstance, dropping their dressage score with each successive start. If the trend continues, we should see a score below their mark of 49.4 (equivalent to USEF of 32.9) at their last outing in the Twin Rivers Advanced, which they led from start to finish.

Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against, 4th place. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • Rise Against, with Bunnie Sexton in the irons, has never once in 29 stadium rounds at the Advanced, 3*, and 4* levels ever had more than one rail. In fact, at the CIC3* level, he has only ever had one rail.
  • Tullamore and Maris Burns have only had a few starts at this level over the past two years, but they’ve kept their stadium record fairly clean, putting in three one-or-none rounds.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cross Country Machines

  • It’s impossible to discuss cross country machines without bringing up Parker, who is one of the best cross country horses in the nation. This horse has contested at the 3* level for seven years now with James Alliston, and averages only six seconds over optimum time at the CIC3*/A levels over the past two years.
  • James himself is no slowpoke and in his three runs with Happenstance, he’s proven that his speed isn’t limited to one horse. With James, Happenstance has averaged 13 seconds over optimum, which will keep him well in the hunt after cross country.

PREDICTED WINNER: James Alliston and Happenstance

James Alliston and Happenstance. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Keep Your Eye On:

  • James Alliston and Parker
  • Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against
  • Rebecca Braitling and Walterstown Don

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

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

"I, too, enjoy the bagels." Don't lie, Dante. #danteisourking #horsesofinstagram

A post shared by Amanda, Often Found In Fields (@amandaofthefields) on

Sometimes the kids beg and beg and beg for something that you know they won’t like. Shockingly, when they finally get it, they don’t like it. And yet somehow, that doesn’t keep them begging for more….

National Holiday: National Golf, Frappe, or Kale Day (You do you.)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Course Brook Farm H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

Kent School Fall H.T. [Website] [Live Scores]

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

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

Radnor Hunt H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

Willow Draw Charity H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

The Event at Skyline H.T.  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

The Jacqueline Mars Competition and Training Grants have been awarded. Tamie Smith, Alexis Helffrich, and Jordan Linstedt have all been awarded the grants to travel to Fair Hill from the West Coast. Tamie and Jordan have already made a splash this fall competing at events like Stable View and Plantation Field, while Alexis is arriving in time for Fair Hill. [National Competition Grants Awarded]

Virginia Horse Trials is offering an Intercollegiate Challenge. At the request of riders, Virginia Horse Trials is holding a team challenge for intercollegiate students. Riders from Beginner Novice to CCI2* are allowed to participate, with each level weighted differently. [Intercollegiate Team Challenge Added]

It takes a lot of hay to keep a Thoroughbred charity running. With almost 3 million pounds of hay per year required to keep the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation operating, it can take a village to get what they need. The Geoffrey Hughes Foundation has kindly agreed to match up to $50,000 in donations, so it’s up to us to help the TRF meet their fundraising goal. [Donate to the HayDrive]

SmartPak Product of the Day: I’ve gone through a lot of icing products in an effort to find what works best for me and my horse and after a lot of time and money, I settled on Jack’s Whirlpool Boots. They don’t take too much ice or water, the horses stand in them great after they learn they aren’t scary, and nothing gets the legs colder than straight ice and water. [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Stable View Advanced

Stable View is in just its second year of running the Advanced Oktoberfest Horse Trials, but already the venue has established itself as the place to be on the first weekend of October. With $65,000 in prize money on the line alongside a huge investment in the course and footing, competitors are flocking from north, south and west to what has quickly established itself as a premier event.

The Advanced division starts today with dressage at 8 a.m. EST, followed by show jumping on Saturday at noon EST and cross country on Sunday at noon EST. Both jumping phases for the Advanced and Intermediate divisions will stream live on EQTV starting at 10:20 a.m. Saturday and 10:20 a.m. Sunday with commentary from our own Jenni Autry, plus special guests.

Stable View LinksWebsite, OmnibusRide TimesLive Scores, Live Stream

Photo courtesy of Stable View.

The Event

  • Boyd Martin was the only rider last year to not only finish inside the time across the country, but also finish on his dressage score with Steady Eddie. The eventual winners, Phillip Dutton and Z, came close, adding only 0.4 time penalties to their dressage score.
  • Only 48% of those who started cross country last year completed without jump penalties on Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country course. That is significantly lower than the Advanced level clear completion rate of 61% for 2016 in the U.S.
  • Three riders scored in the 20s in dressage last year but only Phillip Dutton and Z completed on a score in the 20s.

Katie Ruppel and Houdini. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Dressage Divas

  • Katie Ruppel and Houdini have scored in the 20s (or the FEI equivalent) in their last five Advanced and three-star starts together. These two very consistently hover near their two-year average of 28.6 for the first phase.
  • Charlie Tango and Heather Morris are no strangers to winning the dressage phase, having led the field in their last four consecutive starts after day one. An average of 29.9 at this level should have them challenging for the lead.
  • Boyd Martin has a top prospects for day one in Shamwari 4. While his three-star/Advanced record is sparse over the past couple of years, a look back reveals an average dressage score of 30.8 over the past three calendar years.
  • Tamie Smith has brought the talented gray Fleeceworks Royal to the East Coast this fall, and while lightly competed at this level, she’s most recently demonstrated that she’s a horse who can strike into the 20s. Her most recent start at the Rebecca Farm CIC3* yielded the FEI equivalent of a 28.4.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • Crackerjack continues to impress in the show jumping phase, particularly when the phase is held prior to cross country. Throughout his entire career at this level, when show jumping runs first, Crackerjack has jumped clear in 13 of 14 starts with Boyd Martin in the irons.

Joe Meyer and Clip Clop. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cross Country Machines

  • Charlie Tango is another who runs fast when he runs clean, with an average pace of fifteen seconds over optimum when running clear at this level. Consistency in this phase will be the bigger question, but this pair have finished in the top two of the nine Advanced and three-star competitions they’ve completed.
  • If you’re noticing a trend with Crackerjack, it’s because we think he is the horse to beat this weekend. An average of 7.2 time penalties on cross country at this level over the past two seasons makes him one of the fastest horses in the field with Boyd Martin, who was also the only rider to make the time in the Advanced at this event last year.
  • Joe Meyer is an exceptionally fast cross country rider, and partnered with pocket rocket Clip Clop they make a speedy combination in this phase. An average of 7.6 time penalties at this level will see them climb the leaderboard in the final phase.

PREDICTED WINNER: Boyd Martin and Crackerjack

Boyd Martin and Crackerjack. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Potential Spoiler:

  • Heather Morris and Charlie Tango

Keep Your Eye On:

  • Katie Ruppel and Houdini
  • Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg
  • Tamie Smith and Wembley

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

The worst sight after getting off a horse. R.I.P. Ariats. Photo by Maggie Deatrick.

There’s nothing more depressing than realizing that sweating through your boots over and over again through a ruthless summer has worn out the calves on boots less than six months after they finally broke in. My favorite thing about new boots? How pretty they are. My least favorite thing? How I can’t feel my toes when they are zipped up.

National Holiday: Crush a Can Day (What?)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

University of New Hampshire H.T.  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Larkin Hill H.T. [Website]

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

ESDCTA H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Stable View Advanced Oktoberfest H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Woodland Stallion Station H.T. [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Spokane Sport Horse Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Jump Start H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

A commemoration of Maxime Dubost will take place tomorrow in France. A service will be held at 2 pm at the Crématorium de Crouël. The Jardy venue is postponing the competition that was to be held tomorrow and all French competitors are asked to consider postponing their competition plans this weekend. [Commemorating Maxime Dubost]

One of the stories coming out of Puerto Rico is the plight of the thoroughbreds at the racetrack in Puerto Rico. With hay extremely tough to get and water being rationed to a quarter of a bucket per horse, multiple groups are mobilizing to try and help the horses who remained behind. [Efforts Afoot to Assist]

Sam Griffiths was sure he wasn’t quite right after Badminton. After a fall at Burnham Market, Sam had pain in his neck but doctors could find nothing. He managed to get through Badminton but persisted with the doctors, who found that he had cracked a vertebrae after all. Sam just returned to competition, successfully running Intermediate with his four-star partner Paulank Brockagh. [Sam Griffiths’ Winning Return]

SmartPak Product of the Day: My horse likes to play Houdini at shows, generally finding a way under his stall chain and ambling over to the nearest patch of grass. Or the neighbors’ hay. You know, any food that is available. The only thing that stops him are these uber-heavy vinyl stall guards, which also happen to be customizable to your colors. [SmartPak]

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZL3kjPHG73

With all the fanfare over Blenheim and Plantation Field, it was easy to forget that last weekend was one of the busiest event weekends of the year. Poplar Place Farm also ran an FEI event last weekend, running levels from Beginner Novice up through Advanced, along with a CIC1* and CIC2*. Sydney Conley-Elliott won the CIC2* on the 7 year old QC Diamantaire, owned by Carol Stephens, and is clearly delighted with her talented young ride.

National Holiday: National Pepperoni Pizza Day (Yum!)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Flora Lea Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Results]

Surefire Farm Fall H.T. [Website]

Sundance Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

Equestrians Institute H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Ever wonder what the Worth the Trust recipients are up to? The USEA provides a retrospect of past winners, all the way back to 2009, and gives a little update as to what they are up to now. The scholarship has allowed many of these adult amateurs to continue their education in a way they would be unable to. [Where Are They Now]

Anna Bella may not be the easiest horse to be around, but her warrior mentality takes her to the top of the sport. If one word could be used to describe Anna, it would be ‘intense’, apparently. With a work hard, live hard mindset, Anna likes to scare the geldings she works around, test Kurt Martin on the lunge line, and insist on warm baths only. [Behind the Stall Door]

If you haven’t read Wylie’s final Mongol Derby update, get thee to her post. After days of trials and tribulations, Wylie found herself relying on the camaraderie of her fellow riders to complete the Mongol Derby. With the days blurring together, she realized that it was the people who helped her finish her quest, not the things. Especially not the things she lost on the third day. [Wylie vs the Mongol Derby Part 4]

Help a couple hard-working, forward-thinking vet students out! Mary Davis and Lauren Ungar, two vet student at Tufts, are semi-finalists in the VetPrep idea competition with their idea to create a nutrition app for horses. They are seeking feedback from horse people to strengthen their idea and better their product. You can help them out by completing a quick, fewer-than-10-question survey. [VetPrep Idea Competition – Equine Nutrition App]

SmartPak Product of the Day: I do everything I can to keep my bridle number off my bridle at shows, usually because the first thing I do is get my bridle number dirty. Occasionally I will stick it on a breastplate, but the sharpest look is to have your number on your saddle pad, framed in leather. [SmartPak]

By the Numbers: Plantation Field CIC3*

Plantation Field has grown bigger and bigger over the years, to the point that the event now hosts only FEI divisions in the hopes of getting all competitors off the waitlist. It’s tough to get into this event if you don’t enter in the first few days after it opens, which bodes well for a healthy eventing community in southeastern Pennsylvania.

This is the first year where the entries won’t be split between the CIC3* and the Advanced divisions, meaning everyone will be going directly head-to-head.

#PlantationFieldWebsiteScheduleOrder of GoRide TimesLive ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s Instagram

Plantation Field. Photo by Holly Covey.

The Event

  • In the last decade, every winner of the CIC3* has been inside the top five after dressage. All but two of the winners were inside the top three following the first phase.
  • No one has won the CIC3* with penalties in the show jumping phase since Will Coleman and Twizzel, who pulled off the win in 2008 despite adding 5.0 time penalties in their show jumping round.
  • On average, only 5.7% of the field has made the time on cross country day since Mike Etherington-Smith took over as course designer in 2014.

Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dressage Divas

  • Mighty Nice is back with Phillip Dutton for the first time since Rio this weekend. We last saw him on quite a roll in the first phase, with a two-year 3*/Advanced dressage average of 42.3 leading up to the Olympics.
  • Buck Davidson and Carlevo have been bouncing from scores as low as 38.7 up to 48.3 at this level over the past three years, but overall their average is hovering closer to 40.0, currently sitting at 43.5.
  • Covert Rights and Colleen Rutledge have always been strong on the flat, but they knocked it out of the park at Richland Park CIC3* last month. Their score of 33.3 beat their previous personal best three-star score by 11 points and set a new record at Richland. Typically they average closer to the mid-to-low 40s, but a performance like that shouldn’t be discounted.
  • Powell has had a bit of a light year, with only three three-star starts so far in 2017 with Ryan Wood. He can always be counted on for a strong dressage performance though, with most of his career scores clustered near his average of 44.5 for the level.
  • Cambalda and Jennie Brannigan should never be ignored, although they are more likely to stalk the leaders from inside the top five than lead the field after the first phase. In the last two years from 2015 and 2017, they’ve averaged 45.1 for the first phase, but have edged as low as 39.8 previously.
  • Louis M set all kinds of dressage records with his previous rider, Pia Münker definitely deserves a mention with his current partner, Cornelia Dorr. At Cornelia’s first Advanced at Richland Park, they put in the FEI equivalent of a 45.0, which would be strong enough to contest for a top-five position after the first phase here at Plantation.
  • Silver Night Lady and Emily Beshear are on the rise, with an average of 41.9 on their last two dressage tests. That’s well below their prior average from 2017 of 52.8, which makes them a potential spoiler to take the lead on day one.

Boyd Martin and Crackerjack. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • Crackerjack is one of Boyd Martin’s strongest show jumpers and hasn’t had a rail in the past two calendar years at the Advanced and CIC3* levels. He’s also jumped clear in 13 of 14 Advanced/CIC3* starts with Boyd where show jumping was held prior to cross country.
  • Congo Brazzaville C jumps like a freak with Mara Depuy in the irons. This pair has yet to have a rail in six starts at these levels, and the only time penalties they’ve obtained came from an extra long loop at Great Meadow when he nearly jumped Mara out of the tack.
  • Cambalda has a strong show jumping reputation as well. H and Jennie Brannigan have jumped clear rounds in 11 of their last 12 consecutive Advanced and CIC3* starts.
  • Phillip Dutton’s ride Z is a young horse who has demonstrated his jumping ability by jumping clear in eight of his 10 starts since moving up to Advanced.
  • Kurt Martin and DeLux Z have really demonstrated that the horse can jump. They put in one of the few clear rounds inside the time at their first CCI4* in 2016 and haven’t looked back. Since then, they’ve had nine consecutive clear rounds, including both Blenheim CCI3* last fall and again at Kentucky CCI4* this spring.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Cross Country Machines

  • Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights have come home 10 seconds or less over optimum time in four of their last five CIC3* runs. The last time they had more than 15 seconds worth of time penalties at a CIC3* was way back in 2014.
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me are averaging only five seconds over the optimum time across 11 CIC3*/Advanced starts in the past two years. They’ve finished inside the time at 50% of their last six consecutive A/CIC3* starts.
  • Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High only occasionally finished inside the time but they are close to it on a regular basis. In the past two years, they’ve finished with 15 seconds or less of time penalties in nine of 10 starts at these levels.
  • Although Anna Bella and Kurt Martin racked up more than 30 seconds worth of penalties at her first CIC3* in 2017, she regularly clocked in times that were within 10 seconds of optimum time back in 2015.
  • Luckaun Quality and Tim Bourke tend to look like they are just loping around, but don’t be deceived. This pair averages only 11 seconds over optimum time at these levels over the past two years.
  • Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are regulars, having run here five times. They won the CIC3* in 2010, the Advanced in 2014, and finished in the top five on two other occasions. Although they are averaging 12 seconds over the optimum time over the past two competition years, they have historically averaged only five seconds over the optimum time at Plantation Field.

PREDICTED WINNER: Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Keep Your Eye On:

  • Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice
  • Buck Davidson and Copper Beach
  • Cornelia Dorr and Louis M
  • Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High
  • Kurt Martin and DeLux Z and Anna Bella
  • Boyd Martin and Crackerjack
  • Sharon White and Cooley on Show

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Oops, tack malfunction! Photo by Nicole Severino.

The great thing about this sport is that the little stories are just as triumphant as the big ones. Proud mother Shawn Crausby sends us this gem about her daughter:

“My daughter bought this mare roughly 18 months ago. Before she bought her the mare had been a broodmare and had about 90 days dressage training on her. My daughter is far from being a trainer – she only began eventing about 3 years ago. This mare is a Registered Irish Draught that was beyond green. They have worked hard all year, as many many others have as well.  On the XC course Saturday, somewhere around jump 7 her figure 8 noseband broke. Rather than give up, this pair ran the rest of the course clear. They ended up with time penalties but for horse and rider to complete the course with the noseband hitting her in the face before falling down and smacking her neck and chest the entire way is a testament to the horse and rider. This mare tries her best for this kid. This isn’t as eloquent as it deserves to be, the bond between these two is just something special to see.”

National Holiday: Positive Thinking Day!

Major Events This Week:

Blenheim: WebsiteEntries & ScoringLive StreamEvent Rider MastersEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

Plantation Field: Website, Provisional Schedule, Order of Go, Ride Times, Live Scores,EN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

GMHA September H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Results]

Marlborough H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Poplar Place Farm CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Results]

Otter Creek Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Results]

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

Flying Cross Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Stone Gate Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Colorado Horse Park Trials [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

VAHT is continuing in their journey to be better every year. As the VAHT brings Captain Mark Phillips back for their FEI levels at their fall horse trials, they also seek to develop the next generation of course designers. The first graduate of the VHT Course Design Mentor program, John Michael Durr, now designs the lower level courses and he now takes on a new mentee, David Taylor, an EN alumni! [Progress Continues at VAHT]

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good topless high jump challenge. Blenheim holds one annually, so if you want to witness, it’s about time for a hop across the pond. In topless high jump, you can buy extra ‘lives’ by removing a piece of tack…or clothing. Eventually the jumps are very big and the riders very bare. [Enjoy a Glimpse of Topless Eventers]

Carawich practically picked Jimmy Wofford out of a crowd when they first met. After seeing him once overseas, Jimmy thought he’d never have a chance to buy Carawich. When his connection informed him the horse was for sale, months later, Jimmy practically bought him on the spot, borrowing against his life insurance to do so. [Finding Carawich]

SmartPak Product of the Day: One thing I always forget about when fall rolls around is that hunters are prepping for their own season. My youngster, stuck on a rehab schedule, is particularly sensitive to their sounds as they prep their hunting stands for deer season. I’ve been using this noise blocking ear bonnet in an effort to help him focus, and he is no longer doing his periscope impression every two minutes. [SmartPak]

The CCI3* Debate: Does the U.S. Need More?

Erin Sylvester and Paddy The Caddy, winners of the 2017 Rebecca Farm CCI3*, which was added to the U.S. calendar in 2015. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Following yesterday’s announcement that now defunct Richland Park attempted to host an additional CCI3* for the U.S. and was unsuccessful in their bid, it is time to delve deeper into the topic of introducing more CCI3* events in this country beyond the five currently held throughout North America.

Proponents of limiting the number of CCI3* events in the U.S. believe that if events at this level are not carefully managed, they will cannibalize each other’s numbers and lead to the demise of one or the other, or worse, both. But is this the right philosophy to take when discussing additional CCI3* events in the U.S.?

While this is a commonly used argument, saying that a new East Coast CCI3* is going to take competitors from another CCI3*, especially one on the West Coast, is a red herring. Perhaps another CCI3* might lose one or two competitors, but the reality is that for many pairs, there is no option to ever drive that far west, either due to time or money.

For example, in 2016 not one rider based east of the Mississippi drove west for the Galway Downs CCI3* in California. The riders who didn’t complete at Fair Hill in Maryland simply ended their season there.

Adding more options to compete at the CCI3* level would benefit U.S. eventing, not just the riders, but our horses and our U.S. High Performance squad.

Each icon marks the location of a CCI3* event held around the world. Screenshot via FEI database.

Worldwide Population Trends at CCI3*

Consider that in 2016, Europe held 16 CCI3* and four CCI4* within a 27-hour drive spanning from Portugal to Poland. Meanwhile, in North America we had only five CCI3* and one CCI4* within a 43-hour drive spanning from Bromont in Quebec to Temecula in California. Even the Pacific region consisting of Australia and New Zealand held seven CCI3* and one CCI4*.

Europe has more competitors to fill those divisions, but here’s the astonishing thing: In 2016, the North American CCI3* held on the East Coast averaged 37 competitors while the western European events held in Great Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal averaged only 34.

Countries like Great Britain do have a higher number of average starters per CCI3*, but there are plenty of European countries like Ireland and Italy that actually average fewer starters than our East Coast CCI3*. This supports the argument that the average number of East Coast starters in the U.S. could support at least one or two additional CCI3* events.

Rebecca Farm and Galway Downs, our West Coast CCI3* events in the U.S., don’t draw the numbers like those held in the east, averaging 12 starters between the two CCI3* last year. However, those numbers are comparable to the number of starters seen in the Pacific region, which averages 12 starters per CCI3* in Australia and 14 in New Zealand.

And if we look at the actual number of starters, there were events in Australia, Chile, Belarus, Poland and Romania in 2016 that all ran a CCI3* division with three competitors or less. Why? Because those riders all needed to secure qualifications and couldn’t travel all over the world to get them.

Those venues ran CCI3* divisions to help the riders and ran many other divisions as well, which supported the sparse CCI3* division. The venues were also helping their country’s High Performance programs by providing additional opportunities to gain experience and qualifications.

Range of Difficulty at Available CCI3*

While all CCI3* events should be up to standard, as they serve as CCI4* qualifiers, certain CCI3* have a reputation of being particularly tough. Is it a good thing to have the only East Coast CCI3* available in the fall be Fair Hill? Fair Hill is amazing and tough and a fantastic preparation for Kentucky; it’s called a “3.5 star” for a reason.

But is it a good venue to run your first CCI3*, particularly if you just moved up to the level in the summer, as many U.S.-based riders do? Time and money limits most East Coast riders from driving three days one-way to attend Galway Downs, so the option often narrows to Fair Hill or nothing.

Feeling ready to run a CCI3* but not ready to tackle Fair Hill creates an undesirable scenario in which pairs who are perhaps too green decide to try and take it on anyways. Most riders have limited time and money, the horses are always getting older, and sometimes it can be difficult to let a full season go by without at least making an attempt at that qualifying CCI3* run.

Increased Qualifications Increases Demand

Starting in 2017, riders now need more than one CCI3* qualification to run a CCI4* unless the rider is categorized A or B. In North America, only 45 of 212 active Advanced level riders (riders with at least one start at the Advanced or three-star level in 2017 and 2016) are categorized A or B. This means the remainder in the lower categories need to secure two CCI3* qualifications to get to the CCI4* level.

The change in qualifications to compete at the CCI4* level drives up the demand and need for more CCI3* events in the U.S., and creates a need to have multiple CCI3* options for both the fall and spring seasons on the East Coast to allow for pairs to re-route.

Riders need options. Most riders, even professionals, aren’t going to be able to make the trek out west to Galway Downs if they miss out on gaining a qualifier at Fair Hill due to a mishap early on course. What if an untimely abscess rears its head and derails plans for a CCI3* but is fine a week later? In the spring, a rider can re-route from Jersey Fresh to Bromont, but there are no alternatives in the fall if a rider can’t travel to Galway Downs.

For the average rider there’s nowhere to re-route. They just miss out on the their CCI3* qualification opportunity for that season.  That means the rider can’t compete at the CCI4* level for another full calendar year.

CCI3* Availability Affects CCI4* Starters

Remember that the U.S. is in the process of adding a second CCI4* to the fall schedule. This is fantastic news for all of North America for many reasons, but remember that the event needs to be filled with a respectable numbers of starters.

In order to increase the number of four-star starters in this country, there should not be a bottleneck at the CCI3* level. Riders need to get out and qualified. They need to get runs. We often criticize riders who show up to compete in their first CCI4* at Kentucky without sufficient experience, but how can we fault them if the CCI3* runs they need aren’t available at a time or location when they can actually compete?

Variety Breeds Experience

In addition, High Performance riders must travel overseas to gain experience over different tracks in part because we simply don’t have enough variety in the U.S. Riders in Europe can pick from 17 different CCI3/4* venues to attend, while we have only six options throughout North America.

Traveling to a new venue, experiencing new terrain and testing yourself against a new course designer can expand your skill set immensely. European-based riders get almost three times the opportunity to compete at different CCI venues than riders in the U.S.

Why are we limiting our pool of U.S. venues? The riders want more CCI3* options, there are venues requesting to host a new CCI3*, so why are we setting up road blocks?

Does lowering the number of starters by a handful of combinations at an existing CCI3* justify turning down other venues who may want to host a CCI3* at a different time of year?

U.S. riders should have the CCI3* options they need on both the West Coast and East Coast, regardless of competitor numbers. Do you agree or disagree? Discuss!

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

Avery Elliot gives a lesson on how to navigate this Advanced trakehner. Photo via Aspen Farms Horse Trials FB page.

There’s no rest for the weary and with the American Eventing Championships and Burghley behind us, it’s time for the West Coast to take a turn in the limelight. Things heat up as both Copper Meadows and Aspen host Advanced horse trials this weekend.

National Holiday: Read a Book Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Grindstone Mountain Farm H.T. [Website] [Live Results]

CDCTA Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Dunnabeck H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

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

Aspen Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Chardon Valley H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Ever wished you could school at the venue before a competition? Competitors at the Colorado Horse Park will have a chance to do just that as they arrive for the horse trials held over September 16-17th. An eventing derby from levels Intro through Training will be held the day before the horse trial begins, allowing competitors a chance to get into the competition areas. [Colorado Horse Park to Host Eventing Derby]

Ian Stark, retired four-star legend and course builder extraordinaire, has been hired by the USEF as a temporary cross country advisor. Although Ian Stark is not one of the seven applicants to be the USEF Technical Advisor, he has been taken on in the interim to help coach the U.S. pairs competing abroad this fall. [USEF Hires Ian Stark]

Ballaghmoor Class has rocketed from relative unknown to equine stardom overnight. At ten years old, this gray gelding is still getting established at the level, according to Oliver Townend. He’s not yet confirmed in his changes, he’s still ‘babyish’ and hasn’t gotten rid of his habit of dropping all of Oliver’s yard on the floor on a regular basis. [Seven Things About Ballaghmoor Class]

SmartPak Product of the Day: As the season gets on, we tend to spend more and more time and money on ice to cool their hot legs after cross country, galloping, schooling, and jumping. These cold compression boots take a lot of the hassle out of icing, and provide the benefit of compression therapy as well. [SmartPak]