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Mikaela Kantorowski

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Can You Have It All? Sophie Click on Balancing Upper-Level Eventing and College

Sophie Click and Hot Wheels. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Imagine competing at the top level with multiple horses, traveling from coast to coast, and managing a business and a team of horses, all while keeping up a demanding college schedule. Sound tough? Well, that is exactly what 19-year-old two-star rider Sophie Click does and more as she strives to not only represent the U.S. on an international stage but also earn that all-important college degree.

As the season for college applications and SATs is in full swing, Sophie wants to prove to all high school seniors that riding at the upper levels and going to college can be done. Her secret? It’s no secret, really — more a product of dedication, both to her studies and her horses, as well as a high level of time management to fit everything into her busy schedule.

Everyone’s path to a college degree is different. Sophie obtained many of her college credits during high school and took some college courses online, making her classes slightly easier to allow her to focus more on her riding. She will transition next semester, though, as she picks up and moves to attend Washington State University for her first full-time semester of college.

Sophie Click and Fernhill Rising at Fair Hill. Photo by Shelby Allen.

While moving away from her usual training barn and family will be tough, Sophie is welcoming the change and looking forward to the new opportunities it will bring. She has already begun to plan her winter and spring schedules with school in mind and has found that it is easier than she thought.

“I wasn’t necessarily worried that I would have to put my riding on hold, but you never know how much you can compete until you sign up for your first semester and see what your schedule really looks like. Take it from me — balancing a full-time college schedule and riding is hard but with the right schedule and dedication you can get everything done with time to spare,” Sophie says. “I am looking forward to continuing to compete at the upper levels with my partner, QuidProQuo, AKA ‘Rocky,’ no matter what it takes or how much time I have to spend on the road.”

Getting a college degree is important. Professionals throughout all equestrian sports are being quoted now more than ever, in saying that obtaining a college degree is key, even if you strive to pride professionally. Sophie explains, “My parents were always so supportive and kind of let me find my own path back to school. They never forced me to go to college so I was lucky enough to take some time to focus on my riding in between high school and college, but I quickly realized that getting my degree is something that I not only needed to do, but wanted to do.”

Sophie Click and Hot Wheels. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Sophie is proving it can be done and she wants to share a few tips for young riders like herself, who want to get that vital degree but think they can’t have it all. One tip that immediately comes to mind for Sophie is that you need an incredibly strong work ethic to be able to balance it all and the ability to adapt to change. Sophie is the perfect example of this. “It will be a big change from mainly just riding to transiting to being a full-time student, but I am ready for the challenge,” she says.

She also wants to make it clear that there is no right or wrong path to take to earning your degree. The result is the same no matter how you accomplish it, and everyone’s situation is different. For Sophie, completing college courses online was a good option; however, it is not for everyone. She also encourages everyone to find a training program that is suitable for both themselves and their horse, and a suitable class schedule.  

For example, in January not only is Sophie going to be upping her class load, but she will also be switching up her training program to match. When she starts at WSU in January, she will have a five-class schedule. She knows keeping up with these classes and riding will be challenging but she intends to be successful in school, compete at her usual events, and ride every day. Next year she will most likely take one semester where she does online classes and travels east to compete, most likely in the fall. This is just one of the many ways and many paths to the top and to a degree.

Sophie Click and Hot Wheels. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Apart from finding a schedule you feel comfortable in while you attend college, Sophie also recommends utilizing your support system and all of your resources. That may mean reaching out for help at school, or to different trainers outside of your normal circle. She has found that especially at college, everyone just wants to help you succeed and there is no shame in taking advantage of everything that you can. Oh, and leave some time for fun, too!

The last piece of wisdom Sophie had to offer is mainly an assurance that it can be done. She wants everyone to know how important she has found a college degree to be, and how important it has been for her to have that school/horses balance. Sophie never doubts her decision to go to college full-time this spring and is excited to see what the next few years bring! There have been many people whom she has turned to for advice in preparing for the transition, and she says would be happy to do the same for others. If you are struggling with your college decision, feel free to reach out to Sophie via email or social media for advice. Go Sophie, go to college, and go eventing.

 

Tracy Bowman and Jolie Wentworth Drive It Home at World Para Driving Championships

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Photo by Laura Howland.

Last week was incredible of for Tracy Bowman of Kismet Farms, in Martinez, California, and Jolie Wentworth. No, Jolie was not running around a four-star or winning an event; in fact, Jolie’s name wasn’t even on the scoreboard at all. This weekend was all about Tracy. She and her pint-sized pony, Bella, traveled all the way to the Netherlands to join the U.S. team at the World Para Driving Championships at Peelbergen Equestrian Centre in Kronenberg, Holland. Tracy was the only one to bring her own horse from the States, a feat in itself, and they were well prepared for the stiff competition that lay ahead.

Photo by Laura Howland.

After settling in with the team, the pair showed off all week. Driving consists of three phases, similar to eventing. After Tracy guided Bella through a dressage test, they tackled the marathon phase the following day. Marathon is closely compared to cross country, as drivers must guide their horses through tricky obstacles known as hazards and gallop along the way. The final phase of the competition is the cones phase where two cones are set side-by-side requiring drivers and their horses to pass through them without knocking the ball off that is placed precariously on top. All of this was done while Jolie rode on the back of the carriage acting as her navigator.

Photo by Laura Howland.

When the dust settled after dressage, marathon and the final cones phase, Tracy and Bella brought home a superb eighth place finish for the U.S. team. In their first European driving event and first World Championships, Tracy and Bella proved they belonged with grit and determination. Their incredible partnership was on full display and there was not a dry eye in the house at the conclusion of the competition. To be able to compete on a team alongside her fellow Team USA Para-drivers was so special and to have the finish they did, well that is just icing on the cake.

Photo by Laura Howland.

It is sure to be the first of many championships for Tracy! She has done so much for the eventing community, and Jolie was thrilled to be on the back of her cart all weekend acting as her navigator. They make such a special team and Jolie was so excited to support Tracy. A big shout-out also to groom Laura Howland, whose elbow grease gave them an extra shine in the international-caliber competition. It was a dream come true for the entire team, and Tracy is as hungry as ever to return to the championships and put in an even better result next time.

Photo by Laura Howland.

The special weekend, however, would not have been possible without the support of the entire eventing community and beyond! It is so amazing to see a community come together and Tracy was so touched to have everyone’s support. It is one of the many things that makes the eventing world so special and one of the many reasons that Tracy loves to be a part of it. She would like to thank everyone who helped make last week a success from the bottom of her heart. Now, it is time for Tracy and Bella to get back to the States to begin the next step in the journey as they look ahead to the future.

Photo by Laura Howland.

Life, Horses and her Journey to the Top: 10 Questions with Shelby Brost

Canadian eventer Shelby Brost has had a successful season with Crimson, her own 15-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Etta x Dixieland Heat, by Cojak), including top 10 finishes in the Poplar Place CIC2*, Bromont CCI2*, and Jersey Fresh CIC3*. At just 20 years old, the 2016 NAYC CICY2* gold medalist was also called up to represent Canada on her first senior team in the Great Meadow CICO3* in July. We catch up with her on the eve of her fall season. 

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Shelby Brost and Crimson representing Canada at Great Meadow in July 2018. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Q. So you just competed on your first senior team for Canada this summer at Great Meadow. What was it like?

A. Competing on a senior team has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. The success of any dream, especially one I had been striving towards for so long, is complete euphoria. I am beyond grateful for being given the opportunity and truly enjoyed every second of it!

Q. Reflecting on the event, what do you feel you learned from the experience and what do you think you can take away moving forward as you aim to continue to represent your country on senior teams in the future?

A. There are so many things that I experienced during the entire Great Meadow competition, not just while riding. Exposure to competition is experience, which can’t be taught in lessons. The involvement with the team was an amazing learning experience and I am grateful for all the advice, support and knowledge they passed on. For myself the end result wasn’t what I had hoped to for, we had two really successful phases and things were going really well on cross country as well, until that one corner that I didn’t set her up for. I am learning from my mistakes and look forward to putting in the work to contribute a successful score in future events to come.

Shelby Brost and Crimson at Stable View in 2017. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Q. Coming off representing Canada at the Young Rider level not too long ago with much success and then stepping up to a senior team yourself, what advice would you give to young riders coming off their young rider experience and looking to move up into the senior ranks?

A. Be tenacious. Have persistence, determination, a strong support team, and a solid and methodical plan on how to get there. Everyone has their own journey up the ranks but a common trait that most, if not all, the top riders that I look up to have is an insatiable hunger to succeed. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s journey — focus and work hard on your journey.

Q. After the big build up to Great Meadow and the anticipation, after it was over what was your next step with Crimson and how did you unwind?

A. It was a long drive back to Ocala for Crimson and I from Virginia. During this time, I reflected on the outcome of the weekend over and over … and then started planning the fall season ahead. She had a well-deserved vacation and I was able to go to my parent’s home in Vernon, BC, where I spent time with family and friends.

Shelby Brost and Bo Brown, her up-and-coming 1* horse, at Bromont 2018. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Q. Now that your horses are coming back from vacation, what have you been doing with them at home in particular to help prepare for the fall season?

A. They eased back into a regular work routine. We use the treadmill here at the Fredericks yard so we can change the incline, this helps since we don’t have access to many hills in Ocala. Their workload will increase quite a bit in preparation for plans to run a fall CCI. I also use a heart rate monitor when they gallop or do trot-sets as a key tool to help assess their fitness and all my horses wear Flair strips when galloping and jumping to help open their airways. The Theraplate is a big part of maintenance during training and at competitions, the horses love standing on it so that makes it easy to use as an instrumental part of my program.

Q. And what are your favorite products to use to help keep your horses and yourself in top shape and feeling good?

A. The Ecolicious products are an amazing line of grooming/care products for horses and people that are also free of harsh chemicals. They are actually organic and 100% all-natural. Crimson tends to be on the sensitive side and these products made such a difference for her. I also have them on APF Pro — it’s a liquid supplement that I give orally (can be topped on their grain but Crim is super picky). It is basically a wonder supplement that supports gastric health, muscle development, proper immune function and healthy cellular metabolism. For their overall wellbeing after a workout, the Benefab by Sore No-More products are incredible! I love using the Sore No-More liniments in their baths or on their legs.

Shelby Brost and Crimson at Southern Pines in 2016. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Q. And you always look amazing too! What sort of products do you wear?

A. Oh gosh, well if you look good, you feel good! Contrary to what some people think, you can still look great even in the barn and I think wearing clothing that you feel comfortable and confident in is a huge part of being confident in the saddle as well. I love wearing Asmar head to toe because their clothes are breathable and extremely comfortable. I wear only JojoSox inside my boots. It is amazing how much of a difference a good sock can make when you’re in your boots all day long!

Q. I think a lot of people may be wondering, what is it like juggling all this while still being relatively young and living on your own in Ocala, Florida? What do you like to do maybe outside of riding to try and keep the horse, life balance?

A. Honestly, I wish I had an answer to finding this magic balance between the two. I was fortunate to have my parents support me to make the decision to put off being a full-time student in order to try and achieve this lifelong goal of competing horses and hopefully representing Canada at the Olympics one day so I feel like my entire life has revolved around that since making the move to Florida. It was only since my niece was born, actually during my first year of NAJYRC, and then my sister was sick and passed away from cancer that I realized how important it is to have a balance between horses and family.

I like to keep my riding life professional and very tuned in 24/7. However, I know it’s also important to return to my home lifestyle, and take a step away, only when the horses have some down time from competing of course. You must be willing to alter your entire lifestyle to compete at the highest levels of any sport so there’s little time for “regular teenage things” but taking time with family is crucial.

Shelby Brost and Crimson at NAYC in 2016. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Q. So what’s next? What is your fall plan with Crimson?

A. After running Chatt Hills intermediate to get back into the swing of things, I plan to run the Plantation CIC3*. Finally, our end goal for this season would be to complete the CCI3* at Jockey Club. The Jockey Club event in November is absolutely incredible and to have a CCI3* literally 10 minutes from home is fantastic. Come out to support this event, it is 100% worth it!

Q. And finally, what are your goals for this season and beyond. What would you like to take into next year?

A. Our plans are based on long-term goals with hopes of making the Pan Am team next year. Pan Ams would be the stepping-stone towards the 2020 Olympics goal! It’s important to set a goal and make a plan to set the wheels in motion to work toward that goal.

 

AEC-Bound? Hit the Road with These Pro Travel Tips from Tamie Smith

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Chinch joined Tamie Smith for a victory gallop at the 2015 AEC. Photo by EN.

So, you’ve gotten your qualifications, entered the American Eventing Championships, and bubble wrapped your horse … now what? The AEC is one of the biggest events on the American eventing calendar and with its location this year being the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado, most competitors will be driving long distances to get there.

Getting to Colorado is a big trip for most and can easily take a toll on your horse — the last thing you want headed into the National Championships. However, this shouldn’t deter anyone from going. We enlisted Tamie Smith of Next Level Eventing to give us a few tips on how she prepares her horses for the trip to Colorado before they leave, during the trip, after the arrival, and all the way up until they head home. No detail is overlooked when she ships anywhere.

Getting ready to hit the road. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

In the days leading up to the trip, Tamie recommends keeping a close eye on the horse’s hydration levels. “If you notice they are not looking particularly hydrated by their gum color or skin test, then I will typically tube them to be sure they receive an adequate level of fluids,” Tamie explains.

Not only does she keep a close eye on the horses, but she also keeps a close eye on the weather to ensure the horses have the easiest drive possible, especially to Colorado when you’re driving through both desert and mountainous areas. She recommends trying to find the best path with the smallest range in temperatures, even if it does mean driving through the night or adding a few hours on to your trip.

After the planning and packing is complete, it is time to get dressed and hit the road! Tamie uses Fleeceworks sheepskin halter fleeces for shipping to prevent rubs on her horses’ faces. Each of her horses gets outfitted in Professional’s Choice fly masks and shipping boots as well as tail wraps for safety. The fly masks protect their eyes from possible particles flying around getting in their eyes, and the shipping boots are great because they are easy to put on and have great protection.

If Tamie has a horse that needs a snugger fit, she uses the Professional’s Choice theramic wrap around boots. Under their wraps, she applies Coat Defense’s special preventive powder to prevent any skin fungus from developing when they sweat in their wraps and boots. Tamie has been using this combination for some time and recommends it to everyone when shipping horses, especially long distances.

Ready to ship in a Professional’s Choice fly mask and Fleeceworks halter fleeces. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

One thing Tamie never does while traveling is never change her horses’ feed. For this reason, she loves her Nutrena grain because it is so readily accessible all throughout the country. “Basically, wherever I go, someone stocks this grain and it makes it nice because then I don’t have to pack as much grain, especially on the month-long trips, and I know it is going to be fresh when I buy it at my destination,” Tamie adds.

Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

While they must pack enough hay for the duration of the trip, not having to load the trailer down with bags and bags of grain leaves valuable space open for other things, like more hay. She also keeps them on Auburn Laboratories’ APF Pro as well, to ensure they have the proper immune support and that their gut health is covered as well.

Another thing Tamie tends to not do while traveling is feed her horses electrolytes or electrolyte paste as she finds is sometimes does more harm than good if they do not have access to water 24/7. “It sometimes pulls water out of their stomachs and if they are thirsty with the inability to drink, it can be detrimental in the long run so while I will give them electrolyte paste when they arrive, I tend to stay away from feeding this before or during the trip,” Tamie says.

Looking great after a long trip. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

While she doesn’t feed electrolytes during the trip, one thing Tamie does do is constantly check her horses’ temperatures before, during and after their trip. Temperatures are a good barometer of how the horses may be feeling internally and with the risk of shipping fever being greater the longer the trip gets, it is important to detect any change internally sooner rather than later to treat whatever may be brewing before it takes over.

Of course, every horse loves their mash with carrots and apples in it, which Tamie ensures they get as another way to help keep them hydrated when stopping overnight. For trips like the one to Colorado, Tamie tries to limit the hours driven per day to 10-12 so an overnight stop is a must plus a 30-minute stop every six hours or so to give the horses time to rest and drink.

All wrapped up! Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

One more pro tip for equine travel well-being: Tamie doses all her horses with GastroGard to help their tummies stay happy, too. There is nothing like a grumpy tummy that can upset a horse very quickly.

Tamie drives what she fondly refers to as the “Totar-home” with a massive gas tank, which has been a godsend allowing them to drive without stopping for gas — a huge bonus. Plus, it is equipped with cameras, so they can monitor the horses at all times while driving.

The “Totar-home” getting loaded up. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

You might ask, what should I do for myself during these trips? Tamie has the perfect answer: UPTIME Energy Drinks. They have a sugar-free flavor, which helps you avoid the crash of traditional energy drinks and sodas, providing a steady flow of energy. You feel better when you consume better products, and this one can’t be beat according to Tamie. Stick with this better-for-you alternative by stocking it in your cooler, and you will be good to go.

Uptime Energy Drinks. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

Looking for some things to do during the event to help your horses have a more pleasant drive home? Tamie recommends using Fleeceworks bamboo quilts if you need to wrap your horse once arriving at the show and throughout the competition to help their legs stay in tiptop shape, making for an easier drive. She also recommends using Flair Strips as most horses are not accustomed to the altitude and these strips help open up their airways. These strips also help them recover faster after the horses run and feel stronger overall, which is important for the horses as you begin to think about the trip home.

Tamie Smith and Wembley using FLAIR nasal strips. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

When the dust of the competition has settled and the 2018 AECs are officially over, Tamie explains she most likely will then drive through without stopping to get home as she has found since the horses have competed already, they are anxious to get home and it is not as imperative to stop. She too wants to get home and tends to prefer to drive straight there, with multiple drivers of course.

On the road again. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

So there you have it, from beginning to the very end. While big trips can sometimes be overwhelming, it shouldn’t deter anyone from going the distance to compete! Tamie explains, “Horses actually tend to travel really well,” and if you follow some of these tips and tricks to help your horses feel their best during the trip, there is no reason why you can’t ship like the pros. With lots of West to East Coast road trips, countless California drives, and even flights to Europe and back, Smith has ironed out the shipping details so you don’t have to.

The view from the passenger seat. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

She hopes to see you all in Colorado! Happy shipping!

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo Are Fighting Fit

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo finished 4th in the Rebecca Farm CIC3*. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

While some of us may be slowing down now that summer temperatures are rising, that is not the case for Hawley Bennett-Awad and her mount, Jollybo, as they have this little event called the World Equestrian Games penciled in on their calendars for September. Fresh off a fourth place finish in the Rebecca Farm CIC3*, where they posted the fastest cross country time in the their division on a course where time is notoriously difficult to make, they’ve made a solid case for themselves to be included on the Canadian team as Tryon WEG is expected to be a serious fitness test. 

Preparing for such an event is a yearlong process, explains Hawley, and “you can’t just do two gallops and expect a horse to be fit.” So while teams haven’t been named and the end goal is still two and a half months away, there is no rest for the wicked at Cooper Meadows Horse Park, where Hawley bases herself.

Photos courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad.

For Jolly, she has been spending lots of time taking swim lessons at the Trifecta Equine Athletic Center in Bonsall, California. Jolly loves visiting Dr. Korin Potenza and spending time on the water treadmill to help her get fit and strong. Jolly’s facial expression lights up when she steps off the trailer at Trifecta for her two-to-three day stay when Hawley is off teaching clinics. While the boss is away the ponies will play!

Another element of Hawley’s fitness plan is doing all her gallops on some sort of hill. Photo by Hawley Bennett-Awad.

Hawley fondly remembers her working student days at Bruce Davidson’s where he would bark “the fastest way to break a horse is to gallop on flat ground,” and they are words Hawley still lives by all these years later. In keeping with the planning ahead theme, Hawley explained she worked back from the end goal, cross country day at WEG, to determine the days she needs to gallop and the rate she needs to increase the time of her gallops. Between galloping every five days and using the water treadmill, Jollybo is likely to be the fittest horse out there!

However, Jollybo isn’t the only one who needs to be fit. Hawley wants to be just as fit as her super mare! Hawley’s brother introduced her to the program, Nine Round, which is a kickboxing class that only lasts for 27 minutes but kicks your butt. Don’t have time to spend two hours at the gym? Don’t WANT to spend two hours at the gym? This is the perfect alternative. Between her kickboxing classes and online live workouts with fitness guru Clint Hart, Hawley is getting toned and whipped into shape. Not only does she do Clint Hart’s online workouts but she also bought the DVD, so instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, she can watch a DVD and work out instead. One of Hawley’s favorite lines? “No excuses!”

Photos courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad.

What does Hawley use to keep her hydrated during her workouts and hot days at the barn? Detoxwater! Plain water can be boring so Hawley switches it out for this amazing Bio-Active Aloe Water full of Electrolytes and added health benefits including glowing skin. Detoxwater comes in six different flavors and Hawley drinks two to three per day to keep her body revitalized.

If you’re interested in giving Detoxwater a try you can order a FREE six-pack via their website starting July 20th through Labor Day! All you have to do is pay the $4.99 shipping. You can also find Detoxwater on Amazon or in your local stores, making it super easy to buy and restock on. Plus, it is available on Amazon Prime, so you can take advantage of the free two-day shipping!

Photos courtesy of Hawley Awad-Bennett.

While Hawley and Jollybo have been working on their fitness, JojoSox has been operating behind the scenes to create a special limited edition Jollybo sock in support of Hawley and Jollybo and their quest to get to WEG. Hawley wears these socks all the time whether it be in the saddle or at the gym and when JojoSox offered her the opportunity to design her own sock, it was an offer that she could not refuse! Hawley was so excited to pick out both the pattern and the colors, with the cheetah print being sassy like Jolly and the colors matching the colors Hawley rides in.

They are the best socks ever, and even better? JojoSox has been kind enough to give 100% of the proceeds to Hawley! She is extremely excited and as a thank you, she wants to give all those who purchase socks a special opportunity at WEG this fall, if she is lucky enough to compete with Jollybo. She wants to give something back to all those who have supported her so be sure to go check out and buy some #jollybo socks!

Photos courtesy of Jojo Sox (L) and Hawley Bennett-Awad (R).

With her preparations in full swing, planning is key. As Hawley makes her competition schedule, she always has her end goal in the back of her mind. Every day and every event is one step closer to the end goal and with every gallop and every workout, both Hawley and Jolly are gearing up to be in fighting form with the help of a very special routine, one that is helpful for horses and riders of all ages and levels.

Go Eventing.