Sally Spickard
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Sally Spickard

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About Sally Spickard

Living the dream as a professional internet stalker and EN reporter.

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Tuesday News & Notes from Cavalor

Jumping into Narnia brb

A photo posted by @jumpingapple on

We’re loving this photo from Instagram user @jumpingapple. If jumping into Narnia were really a thing, I think we’d all try it at least once, if only to see if things are as whimsical and carefree as they seem in Narnia. Except, without packs of wolves and raging witches, you know. Either way, it’d be a pretty cool story.

Events Opening This Week:

Great Meadow International – FEI Nations Cup Eventing Series (VA, A-2) Event at Rebecca Farm (MT, A-7) Old Chatham H.T. (NY, A-1) Roebke’s Run H.T. (MN, A-4) 40th Annual Whidbey Island H.T. (WA, A-7) Round Top H.T. (CO, A-9) Coconino Summer I H.T. (AZ, A-10) Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (GA, A-3) The Maryland H.T. at Loch Moy Farm I (MD, A-2) Huntington Farm H.T. (VT, A-1)

Events Closing Today:

Derbyshire Farms H.T. (MI, A-8) Queeny Park H.T. (MO, A-4) River Glen June H.T. (TN, A-3) Texas Rose Horse Park Summer H.T. (TX, A-5) Copper Meadows H.T. (CA, A-6) Valinor Farm Horse Trials (MA, A-1) Plantation Field June Horse Trials (PA, A-2) The Middleburg H.T. (VA, A-2) Roebke’s Run CCI & CIC2/1 & H.T. (MN, A-4) Larkin Hill H.T. (NY, A-1) Roebke’s Run CCI & CIC2/1 & H.T. (MN, A-4) Aspen Farms H.T. (WA, A-7)

News & Notes:

Ryan Wood and County Saddlery have generously partnered to raise money for Millie Humphreys’ college fund. We’re hosting an auction, running through June 1, of a County Solution Monoflap (or, a County saddle of the winner’s choosing), with the proceeds, including the retail value of the saddle, going to Millie’s fund. Please help support a worthy cause. [County Saddle Auction]

Area IV event Queeny Park is seeking more entries for its June 9-10 event. The entry numbers are dramatically down, so event organizers are asking for your support in order to keep the only USEA recognized event in the St. Louis area running. The event closes today! [Queeny Park Closing Date Reminder]

The Colorado Horse Park will host a Cross Country Family Festival on June 4. This will run in conjunction with cross country day of the CIC2* and CCI2* running that weekend and will feature free admission as well as free parking. This will be a great way to introduce new people to the sport, so spread the word! Tailgating spaces are also available. [Cross Country Family Festival at CHP]

Waredaca has made some exciting changes for the upcoming events on the calendar. New course designer Jeff Kibbie will come aboard to freshen up the cross country course at the upper levels, and David O’Connor will continue to oversee and provide insight. Jumps are being refreshed for a new look, and (perhaps most importantly, to Chinch at least), the new Waredaca Brewing Company is now open for business! You had me at “brewing”.

Kentucky Equine Research and EN are teaming up to host the Great KER Fitness Challenge this spring! Download the free KER ClockIt Sport app for your phone and record your rides for a chance to win a $100 gift card to shop.kerx.com, an EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad, a lesson with your choice of Bruce Davidson, Liz Halliday-Sharp, or Dom or Jimmie Schramm; and a feature story about you and your horse on EN. Entries close May 31! [Contest Details]

Weekly Business Tip from Mythic Landing Enterprises:

If you decide that Search Engine Marketing will help build your business, you have two choices. You can either hire a professional or you can do the research and try to do it on your own.

Given the time commitment that proper SEM takes, my best guess is that you will want to find a professional to help you out. My only word of caution is to make sure that whatever company you go with not only understands your business model, but also understands that SEM is an ongoing process.

There are a lot of companies out there that charge a large amount of money to integrate SEM into your website, but SEM isn’t just a one-time thing. A few key words plugged into the coding of your website just won’t cut it, so don’t let some seemingly fancy-smancy marketing company convince you otherwise.

Instead, do your research and hire a SEM company that will commit to routine updates and give you a solid plan as to what they will accomplish each week.

Tuesday Video:

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Ingrid Klimke’s Wiesbaden Helmet Cam

Ingrid Klimke brought out one of her stalwart partners, the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding Horseware Hale Bob, for his first CIC3* run of the season at Wiesbaden earlier this month, handily picking up a win on an impressive 27.3 dressage score.

Horseware Hale Bob has won a CIC2* this year and also finished fifth in the CCI3* at Blair Castle last fall. With much success and consistent results, Ingrid is making a strong case for the German squad as we look ahead to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero in just a few months’ time.

Ride along with Ingrid and Horseware Hale Bob on cross country thanks to technology from SAP TV!

Venturing Into the Uncomfortable: Working for Hawley Bennett-Awad

Photo courtesy of Lexy Galanos Photography. Photo courtesy of Lexy Galanos Photography.

It’s been said that only in being uncomfortable can you truly reach your full potential. I’ve always been pretty skilled at making myself uncomfortable — whether or not I mean to — so it seemed logical that I peruse working student and grooming positions idly throughout the years.

There were always a million reasons not to: shipping my horse is expensive, moving is expensive, working 6-7 days a week doesn’t allow much time for work, I don’t have enough money saved, and on and on.

But then a longtime role model sent me a message asking me to post an opening for a head groom on our working student opportunities page. I read the job description, and something inside me sparked.

Hawley Bennett-Awad has been someone I’ve looked up to for years. I followed her as she represented Canada on the international stage on multiple occasions and loved how she seemed to have a way with Thoroughbreds and “tough” horses. Everyone has their lifetime idols, and she remains one of mine.

The first time I met Hawley, she was competing in the Advanced division at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships in 2013. I had hesitantly sent her a Facebook message ahead of time asking for an interview, and she happily accepted and was my second EN interview ever. I was thrilled with how friendly the riders were in my first foray into equine journalism — Michael Pollard, Tamie Smith, Ellen Doughty-Hume, Hawley, you all helped me get my sea legs!

Last year, I organized two clinics to bring Hawley to Area IV, and her teaching style and enthusiasm was well received in both clinics. Each time she left, I wished I could spend more time training with her.

So when this job opportunity came up, I thought about it. I thought about how I could make things work, and I asked Hawley if I could talk to her about more details so I could figure out if it was a feasible option for me.

“Am I too old for this?” I asked Hawley on the phone. She laughed and said “Of course not!” While she may have been generous with that — a 30-year-old working student is, after all, not the most common scenario in the world — she still instilled confidence that perhaps this was the next move for me.

So I packed my bags, found a new home for my retired horse, and set about finding my other horse a ride West. I was bowled over by the enthusiasm of so many people who I’ve never even really met, eager to help me get to California. Before I knew it, my horses were safely on their way to their new homes and I was sitting in my car ready to head West.

It’s been a big adjustment, what with the time change and the early mornings, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Hawley runs a tight ship, but she’s right there with you, working to ensure her horses get the best of care and that her barn (Bill Dickenson’s picture-perfect Sweet Oaks Ranch) is spotless and well-organized. The early mornings, the late evenings after a show or cross country schooling — she’s always there beside you. She’s always ready with helpful hints on organization and care, and she’s gracious to those who work for her.

And even within just two lessons with her, I’ve already felt my confidence blooming. I came out here with withered confidence after not riding consistently for the last few weeks. I had only taken my horse cross country once before, and I was a nervous wreck for my first time out in California. But I needn’t have worried. Hawley pushes you to get your “big girl britches” on, but she won’t ever overface or intimidate you.

Before you know it, you’re accomplishing things you had forgotten you could do, or perhaps that you didn’t know you could do in the first place. All you know is that someone believes in you. Someone with a lot of clout and credibility behind that belief. When she tells you to jump, you close your leg (but be sure not to cluck!) and hang on tight. And if you keep your wits about you, you find yourself on the other side looking for the next challenge.

I’ll be checking in periodically with more scenes from behind the scenes at HBE, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, many thanks to Hawley and Gamal for hosting myself and my friend Bri, who came along for the summer, before we move into our apartment, to James Alliston and Helen Bouscaren for helping me get my horse to California, to Hawley’s other working student, Sam, for patiently showing us the ropes, and to everyone else who has had a hand in making me truly, ecstatically uncomfortable.

‘Making a Champion’, Part 2: Michael Jung on IceVibe

In the latest installment of Horseware‘s ‘Making a Champion’ series, Grand Slam of Eventing winner Michael Jung talks about the importance of horse care when it comes to fitness.

“The most important thing are the horses,” Michael says. “We cannot have big success without a big partnership where the horse gives 100-120% for you.

Michael talks about his use of Horseware’s IceVibe boots to ensure his horses get the best treatment after working. Horseware is also giving you a chance to win a pair of IceVibes for yourself! Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Tuesday News & Notes from Cavalor

A rainbow shines over Longview Horse Park in Kansas City, Mo. Photo via the Mill Creek Pony Club on Facebook. A rainbow shines over Longview Horse Park in Kansas City, Mo. Photo via the Mill Creek Pony Club on Facebook.

The Kansas City eventing community hosted eventers from all over Area IV and beyond this past weekend for the annual spring event, the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials. There’s always something special about your hometown event, and even having lived in Kansas City for just a short time I’ve come to love the local events as my own. The event boasted nearly 200 entries this year, and there was some great riding on display throughout the weekend. I’m moving away from Area IV soon, but I will always consider this special place to be home. Area IV strong!

Events Opening This Week:

Horse Park of New Jersey H.T. I (NJ, A-2) Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (GA, A-3) Twin Rivers Derby and YEH/FEH (CA, A-6) South Farm H.T. (OH, A-8), Western Underground, Inc Coconino Summer HT & T/N3D Event (AZ, A-10)

Events Closing Today:

Colorado Horse Park CCI**/*, CIC** and Horse Trails (CO, A-9), Poplar Place Farm June H.T. (GA, A-3) GMHA June HorseTrials (VT, A-1) Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club Spring Horse Trials (NY, A-1) IEA Horse Trials, Classic Training & Novice 3-Day Event (IN, A-8) Camelot Equestrian Horse Park Horse Trials (CA, A-6) Waredaca H.T. (MD, A-2), Carriage House Farm Combined Test (MN, A-4)

News & Notes:

Kentucky Equine Research and EN are teaming up to host the Great KER Fitness Challenge this spring! Download the free KER ClockIt Sport app for your phone and record your rides for a chance to win a $100 gift card to shop.kerx.com, an EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad, a lesson with your choice of Bruce Davidson, Liz Halliday-Sharp, or Dom or Jimmie Schramm; and a feature story about you and your horse on EN. Entries close May 31! [Contest Details]

Efforts to support Philippa Humphreys’ daughter, Millie’s, college fund continue to multiply. The latest is this beautiful button memorializing Philippa, the proceeds from which will be donated to Millie’s college fund. [Dream Big Darling Button]

Is free feeding hay beneficial for your horse? Some may argue against it if they own horses who simply don’t seem to know when to stop. This commentary on the subject provides some great insight over on The Horse. [Free Feeding Hay]

Weekly Business Tip from Mythic Landing Enterprises:

If you’re like most horse people, your barn is more organized than your house. Your tack room probably contains neat rows of bridles, saddles and girths, but your office probably contains messy piles of papers. If you’re going to organize one aspect of your office, you should create an “Important Stuff” binder for your business.

You should include the following items in your binder: original letter from the IRS assigning your FEIN number; copy of your W-9; operating agreement and/or mission statement; EFTPS letter with enrollment; original bank documents; employee contracts and tax documents; blank copy of your own client contract and/or release forms; and insurance documents.

Tuesday Video:

EN’s Got Talent: Colleen Orta and Queen Bee

We hear all the time about horses at the top of the sport, but what about the next generation of equine talent? EN’s Got Talent introduces the future superstars of the sport, interviewing riders about how they’re tackling training with these youngsters. Have you spotted a spectacular young horse at an event you think should be highlighted in this column? Tip me at sally@eventingnation.com.

Colleen Orta and Queen Bea at Surefire. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography. Colleen Orta and Queen Bea at Surefire. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Maintaining several jobs, a family, a farm of your own, and an eventing career is not a task for the faint of heart. When Colleen Orta made the decision to move from the Midwest to the East coast to pursue her ambitions of competing at the upper levels, she knew the full plate she would be taking on. Now that she has a horse on which she’s pinned her dreams of someday reaching that top level, all of her hard work is paying off as she works toward a true amateur’s dream.

Colleen first began horse shopping when she realized her former Preliminary mare, Aleta NSF, didn’t want to continue to move up the levels. Luckily, Colleen was able to find a perfect home with a young rider for Aleta and began shopping in earnest for a horse that checked all the boxes.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to buy something already made, so I had to start from scratch,” Colleen said. She works with Kelli Temple in Virginia, and Colleen was fortunate enough to benefit from a professional relationship between Kelli and Philipp Kolossa. Philipp is well known for selecting talented young horses and has been the source of many top horses competing both here in the U.S. as well as in Europe.

Philipp sent Kelli and Colleen a video of a striking chestnut mare, and for Colleen it was love at first sight. “I had looked at flying over to try horses, but there is a financial factor with that as well,” she said. “I trust Kelli and Phillip immensely, so when we saw the video we went ahead with the process of vetting and importing. She had a really awesome vetting and arrived in the U.S. just after Christmas three years ago.”

A Holsteiner mare by Casall out of Her Highness, Queen Bee was four when she arrived in the States, and Colleen set to work forming a relationship with her new ride. “She’d done a bit of show jumping, but no eventing except for some schooling,” she said. “When I saw the video, she had this trot that I’ve never seen before, and her jump was equally impressive. I felt comfortable buying her sight unseen knowing that she would make a solid resale project, worst case.”

She needn’t have worried about forming a bond, though, as Colleen and Queen Bee clicked right away. “She’s an extremely nice mare,” she explained. “She is not ‘mareish’ at all and she’s pretty much the same every day. She’s definitely what Kelli would call a ‘blood horse’ — she has a lot of power and is very scopey. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment to have so much horse, but the biggest thing we’ve dealt with is a silly spook here and there.”

The flatwork has been a pleasure for Colleen to hone, as Queen Bee exudes winning talent, rarely scoring out of the 20s at horse trials. Colleen and Queen Bee began their competition career in 2014 at Beginner Novice and have edged their way up to Training level. Kelli Temple has also taken the reins on the mare, working together with Colleen to produce a quality horse.

“Kelli was a big reason why I moved East,” Colleen said. “I’d never met her, but I’d watched her and observed and really liked her style. I’m lucky to work with one of the best people in the industry when it comes to producing horses. My goal is to emulate her; I want to be able to produce the same results she does.”

Colleen is eyeing a Prelim move up for Queen Bee this year and firmly believes that she has a talented horse to go even further. “I think she’s more naturally gifted than the other horses I’ve had,” she said. “(Eventing) is what she was bred for. When you’re on her, you have no question that she’s a powerhouse. She’s got the right movement and bravery — ingredients to be an upper level horse.”

Colleen is taking her time with the mare, who turns seven this year, knowing that she has a big goal in mind. It’s always difficult with the talented ones to want to proceed up the levels quickly, but she wants to ensure she is properly producing her mare. At the same time, Colleen works three jobs as a veterinarian and independent sales consultant to support her riding dreams.

“I think I’m what a lot of amateurs are,” she said. “An event rider who fits riding in around the rest of their life. It definitely makes you appreciate what you have when you’re working hard to support it. I work overnights at the clinic so that I can have the days to ride, and some days I definitely don’t feel like dragging my butt out to the barn.”

“I also have one of the best horse husbands out there,” she continued. “As horse husbands go, I definitely got lucky to have a supportive one. I’ve only had one horse at a time and have had to sell previous horses to move on, but it’s so rewarding to be putting the work into this horse and seeing the results.”

 

#Memories4Millie: Remembering Philippa Humphreys

Philippa Humphreys and Rich N Famous at Millbrook. Photo by Jenni Autry. Philippa Humphreys and Rich N Famous at Millbrook. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Several people who were close to Philippa Humphreys are asking the community to share their memories of Philly using the hashtag #Memories4Millie. They will gather these memories and put them into a book that will be presented to her husband, Pete, and 6-month-old daughter Millie.

The idea is that this book will forever be a memorial to a young woman who accomplished so much within her life, and a way for Millie to learn about how special her mother was. Several equestrians have shared their memories on social media. Whether or not you knew Philippa well, your memories will be invaluable in the making of this book.

You can also send letters to Liz Millikin at P.O. Box 282, Millwood, VA 22646. A college fund has also been set up for Millie in her mother’s honor, which you can find here.

Many thanks to Liz Millikin and Aletta Martin for spreading this idea. Aletta, who heads up the Illinois chapter of Canter, shared one of her favorite memories of Philippa with us:

“This weekend, the world lost a great event rider. But it lost something even greater — a new mother with a kind and generous soul. Everyone who knew her will have a story to share, and this is ours.

Jodi Ladner and I run Canter Illinois, a group that helps with retiring racehorses. Philippa was a lover of the OTTB and all that it could do. She scoured the Canter pages weekly looking for her next project. In fact, this is how I reconnected with her.

Many moons ago I was an event rider too. The opposite of Philippa, who was an English girl living in the U.S., I was an American living in the UK. She was a young girl, a teenager, with an intense interest in eventing. She was trained by my trainer Tuffy Tilley, and would ride along to events with us, always wanting to learn more.

Imagine my surprise when decades later I get a message saying, “Is that you on the Canter Illinois videos? I thought I recognized you!” This was the beginning of a very beautiful relationship that we at Canter would have with Philippa. There is one story that we want to share, because it shows who Philly really was.

Three years ago we pulled a Thoroughbred from a field in Illinois who was extremely thin, very lame and in overall bad shape. There was something about him underneath it all, and Philly saw it too. We sent him to a foster and Philly was prepared to take him once he was healthy again.

Things changed quickly and we were suddenly in an emergency situation. With the horse’s life at risk and few options we called Philly in Michigan, who was about an hour and a half away from where the horse was stabled. Without hesitation she jumped in her truck and drove to pick him up.

She arranged emergency care and when it was clear he needed more she rushed him to Michigan State, where sadly after a few days his eye could not be saved and was removed for his comfort and safety. Philly was right back there to pick him up and then proceeded to offer this horse 24 hour care as he needed it.

Do you know what she asked for in return? Nothing. Instead she sent us daily updates on his progress, often saying, “I just wish I had taken him in from the start.” She continued to stay involved with the horse as we found placement for him. Her friends at PHE also chipped in, both physically, emotionally and financially and for that we are forever grateful.

What I am most grateful for, however, is that this brought me back into her life so I could see what a delightful young woman she had become. I could not have been more thrilled for her when she became a mother because I knew she would give motherhood the same energy that she did the rest of her life.”

The EN team and the eventing community continue to offer their deepest condolences to the Humphreys family during this terrible time.

Friday News & Notes from FLAIR Nasal Strips

No rest for the weary! Boyd Martin rides three at Jersey Fresh this weekend after his whirlwind Rolex and Badminton weekends. Photo via EN on Instagram. No rest for the weary! Boyd Martin rides three at Jersey Fresh this weekend after his whirlwind Rolex and Badminton weekends. Photo via EN on Instagram.

There’s something to be said about the busy schedule of a professional equestrian. Whether you’re a rider, owner, trainer, coach, or any other form of support staff, there really is no rest for the weary in this world. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is also motivation for the rest of us to keep reaching for those dreams, as far fetched as they may be.

We’re just a day away from the big day of cross country at Jersey Fresh, so stay tuned for much more!

Events This Weekend:

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

Plantation Field May H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Mill Creek Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

Galway Downs Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

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

Winona H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News & Notes:

Kentucky Equine Research and EN are teaming up to host the Great KER Fitness Challenge this spring! Download the free KER ClockIt Sport app for your phone and record your rides for a chance to win a $100 gift card to shop.kerx.com, an EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad, a lesson with your choice of Bruce Davidson, Liz Halliday-Sharp, or Dom or Jimmie Schramm; and a feature story about you and your horse on EN. Entries close May 31! [Contest Details]

EHV-1 has been confirmed in three horses in Erie County, New York. All three horses are mares on the same farm and are currently under close observation by medical staff. [EHV-1 Confirmed in New York]

What is La Biosthetique Sam like at home? Not easy, according to Michael Jung! Get the inside scoop in this post-Badminton interview with Horse & Country TV. [Michael Jung on Sam]

Fashion is something we all wish we could be more conscious of. Thankfully, our newest sister site, Jumper Nation, has the scoop on several stylish items we can add to our riding wardrobe. [10 Tees Every Horse Woman Needs]

Weekly Business Tip from Mythic Landing Enterprises:

Are you thinking about sponsorships, but don’t know where to start? Start by making a wish list with two columns. The first column is for companies with products that you already use and love. The second column is for companies with products that you might not use yet, but want to learn more about. Now start thinking about the best way to approach each company. Always stress what you can do for the company! Yes, you are hoping they will provide you with a product or money, but they are expecting something in return. Try to view all sponsorships as advertising in your head, because that is what the companies are expecting to get.

Friday Videos:

Don’t miss the newest episodes of the Sort of OK Show About Horses with Buck Davidson and Kyle Carter:

More Than Just a Rolex Ribbon for Katie Stimac

Photo used with permission from Brad Roberts Photography

Katie Stimac. Photo used with permission from Brad Roberts Photography.

Katie Stimac was 14 years old when she attended the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for the first time. Having ridden dressage and western for most of her life, it was her first foray into the eventing world. She situated herself on the cross country course, ready to take in the action for the first time.

Katie had zeroed in on Laine Asher and Frodo Baggins as her pair to cheer on that year. “I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I just felt good about them,” Katie recalled. It was that year that Laine suffered the worst accident of her career, which landed her in the hospital fighting for her life.

“I was 14, ready for a perfect weekend, and the pair I picked to go to the top was eliminated in a terrible accident,” Katie said. “That was perhaps the first major thing that occurred in my life that showed me that life doesn’t always work out the way you think it should. It was a huge dose of reality, and that was something really critical to learn.”

Katie followed Laine’s journey to recovery, painful as it was. She found inspiration in Laine, and she didn’t know then how pivotal that inspiration would prove to be eight years later.

In September 2015, Katie, now 22, began to suffer from severe fatigue, headaches and blind spots. She visited an ophthalmologist, and blood work showed that her hemoglobin, white blood cell and platelet numbers were very abnormal.

“The doctors called my house after midnight, saying my counts were incredibly abnormal and that they were waiting for me in the University of Michigan emergency room,” Katie said. The diagnosis was Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a disorder of the blood as well as the bone marrow.

Katie began receiving chemotherapy immediately, and suffered many complications on her way to remission, including blood clots, blindness and a blood infection. She also underwent two episodes of fluid overload, which resulted in cardiomyopathy.

In January of this year, Katie underwent chemotherapy again in an effort to keep her in remission. She had been on the list for the Bone Marrow Registry, but her heart condition prevented her from receiving a transplant from an eligible donor.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch were one of only four pairs that jumped a double clear round. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch were one of only four pairs that jumped a double clear round. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Fighting the good fight

Last month, Katie was admitted to the hospital again for more chemotherapy and to prepare for a double cord stem cell transplant, which she received on April 27, the Wednesday of the first horse inspection at Rolex. Having attended Rolex several times since 2008, Katie was sad to miss the event this year and instead watched the competition online from her hospital room, especially to to cheer for Laine.

“I’ve been following from a distance, but she’s never been far from my mind. After her accident and her recovery, that good feeling I had about her continued to stick with me. I’ve been wanting so much to return to Kentucky to watch Rolex again and was hoping this year would find me there. September sent that dream (and many others) to a screeching halt, but when I knew I’d be at (Mott Children’s Hospital) for this year’s Rolex, the days crawled by until I was able to watch it online,” Katie said.

“I was in awe of Laine’s performance, and I continued to think about her motivation and drive to get better. I started to find connections between our experiences of having our lives tossed into unexpected chaos, and I thought that she should know just how deeply her journey has impacted my life.”

Katie sent Laine a message on Facebook, hoping to share just how inspirational her story had been through the difficult times she was experiencing. “She deserved to know how she has been one of the shining lights of encouragement and inspiration for me to plow through this ordeal with every intention of getting back into the saddle both literally and figuratively,” Katie said.

Laine received Katie’s message the day she returned home from Rolex and found herself speechless upon reading it. “I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but it took me a day to respond to Katie’s message because I didn’t even know what to say,” Laine said. “I had no idea that this could so deeply impact someone who is literally fighting for her life.”

While composing her reply to Katie, Laine glanced at the 19th place ribbon she earned at this year’s event with Anthony Patch. Every time she achieves a goal or receives a significant ribbon, Laine places it on the dashboard of her truck as a reminder of her big goals. “I always keep those ribbons on my dash as a reminder to fight the good fight, and I thought that Katie needed to have it,” she explained.

Laine packed up the ribbon and wrote on the back: “Fight the good fight. I hope this gives you extra motivation.”

When Katie received the ribbon, along with a special #LAE necklace designed by Swanky Saddle Designs, she couldn’t believe it. “When I removed the ribbon from the package and read the touching message Laine had written on the back, I just stared at my mom with a massive grin as the reality of what she had sent sunk in.”

The ribbon has become one of Katie’s most prized possessions and one that she will continue to use as that extra bit of inspiration. “I can definitely say that night was the first time in a long time that I fell asleep with a smile on my face. I was like a kid on Christmas, peaking occasionally at the wall to where we hung it, just to make sure it was actually there. It was surreal, absolutely surreal, and beyond any act of kindness I ever could have anticipated.”

Katie Stimac with Laine Ashker's Rolex ribbon. Photo via Katie on Instagram.

Katie Stimac with Laine Ashker’s Rolex ribbon. Photo via Katie on Instagram.

Fast friends

Laine and Katie continue to talk regularly. “I think about it and I think about how her story has been an inspiration to me,” Laine said. “I don’t know who’s healing who, to be honest.”

Katie continues to progress, although she still faces a long road ahead even with her bone marrow transplant. She is an active blogger, and you can follow her journey here. She’s still in happy shock that she’s made a friend in Laine, someone she has looked up to for such a long time.

“She keeps me entertained, and every time I hear from her I still reel from the reality that my role model has become a friend,” Katie said.

In Laine’s mind, the ribbon couldn’t have found a better home. “It was amazing to make that connection with Katie,” she said. “That ribbon did not need to be with me. It needed to be with her.”

Thursday News & Notes from Kentucky Equine Research

Super groom Shannon Kinsley showing off her wrangling chops at Jersey Fresh! Photo via Lauren Kieffer Eventing on Facebook. Super groom Shannon Kinsley showing off her wrangling chops at Jersey Fresh! Photo via Lauren Kieffer Eventing on Facebook.

It’s Jersey Fresh week! This is definitely one of my personal favorite weekends of the year, as I love the New Jersey Horse Park and the caliber of riders that gather to compete in the big two- and three-star divisions.

There is plenty of talent to see this weekend, and Jenni is our eyes on the ground (assisted by Chinch, naturally), so there will be plenty of East coast action coming your way over the next few days. Stay tuned!

Events This Weekend:

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

Plantation Field May H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

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

Mill Creek Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

Galway Downs Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

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

Winona H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times]

News & Notes:

Kentucky Equine Research and EN are teaming up to host the Great KER Fitness Challenge this spring! Download the free KER ClockIt Sport app for your phone and record your rides for a chance to win a $100 gift card to shop.kerx.com, an EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad, a lesson with your choice of Bruce Davidson, Liz Halliday-Sharp, or Dom or Jimmie Schramm; and a feature story about you and your horse on EN. Entries close May 31! [Contest Details]

What did Michael Jung look like as a kid? Well, not surprisingly, he looked good enough to catch the eye of the one and only George Morris. The Chronicle of the Horse did some digging and found this early photo of Michael riding and shared what George had to say. [George Morris Saw Brilliance in Young Jung]

Looking for some tips on improving your dressage scores? Look no further! If you’re in the New Jersey area, you can attend the Dressage Session II Training Program next Monday and Tuesday at Marilyn Payne’s facility. This is a required training program for “r” judges and will be hosted by Marilyn Payne and Gretchen Butts. Definitely a great auditing and learning opportunity. [Dressage Training II]

Weekly Business Tip from Mythic Landing Enterprises:

A good business plan, which should include your short-term and long-term goals plus your current budget and 2-3 year projections on income and expenses, will help keep you on track to reach your goals. If you are an impulse buyer (ahem, Tack of the Day addict??), having this document in writing could keep you out of trouble! You can even create a separate document that can be shared with your key staff members so that they know what you are working towards and help your business achieve these goals.

Thursday Video:

Get some helpful jumping tips from Stephen Bradley:

KER Product of the Week – Sport Horse Nutrition Feeds

Kentucky Equine Research (KER) formulates nutritionally balanced, state-of-the-art feeds for horses in all life stages, disciplines, and areas of the world, using the most up-to-date research findings. KER-formulated feeds are available through partner dealers and merchants. Ask your local feed manufacturer if they work with KER, or find a KER partner near you.

KER also produces its own line of feed in partnership with Hallway Feeds. Top-ranked U.S. Eventer Buck Davidson relies on these KER Sport Horse Nutrition feeds, including OVATION™, to deliver the necessary levels of fat and complex carbohydrates for optimal sport horse performance. Ovation is a high-fat pelleted feed built around stabilized rice bran and fortified with KER micronutrients.

“Ovation is my go-to pelleted feed for high-performance horses. With shiny coats and steady energy, my horses look amazing on Ovation,” Buck explains. “Because it’s from KER, I know these feeds are based on the latest equine nutrition science and manufactured with the highest quality ingredients and processes. It’s simply the best feed available.”

 

Tuesday News & Notes from Cavalor

This beautiful panorama courtesy of Katherine LoChiatto. This beautiful panorama courtesy of Katherine LoChiatto.

This awesome shot of Libby Head, Sir Rockstar and groom Devon Brown outside the storied Badminton house is just beautiful. As the sun set on a memorable weekend for the Libby Head camp, it was the perfect time to reflect on all that happened. I know I’m still soaking it in, I can only imagine how the riders and their teams feel!

Events Opening This Week:

Inavale Farm HT (OR, A-7) Abbe Ranch H.T. (CO, A-9) Surefire H.T. (VA, A-2) Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. I (CA, A-6) Arrowhead H.T. (MT, A-7) Honey Run H.T. (MI, A-8) Midsouth Pony Club H.T. (KY, A-8) Groton House Farm H.T. (MA, A-1) Fox River Valley Pony Club Horse Trials (IL, A-4)

Events Closing Today:

Virginia CCI/CIC & H.T. (VA, A-2) May-Daze at the Park H.T. (KY, A-8) The Spring Event at Woodside (CA, A-6) Coconino Spring H.T. and Dressage Show (AZ, A-10) Mystic Valley Hunt Club H.T. (CT, A-1) Flora Lea Spring H.T. (NJ, A-2) Paradise Farm HT (SC, A-3) Equestrians Institute H.T. (WA, A-7) Willow Draw Charity Show (TX, A-5)

News & Notes:

Congratulations to Hannah Herrig, the winner of this year’s Dubarry of Ireland Rolex Fantasy League!

It was a hard fought battle, with nearly 200 teams fighting for the win in a tough field. Naturally, Michael Jung was the most popular pick for most leagues this year, but Hannah had the magic combination for the lowest score of the weekend. [Dubarry of Ireland Rolex Fantasy League]

Oliver Townend announced this week that this year’s Badminton would be the last for his long time partner, Armada. This horse is truly a four-star veteran, completing 16 CCI4* competitions throughout his career with both Andrew Nicholson and Oliver. [2016 Badminton Was Armada’s Last]

British rider Alice Dunsdon posted her Badminton recap blog on Horse & Hound recounting a difficult weekend for her and Fernhill Present. The horse said no at the Mirage Pond on course, ending their weekend early. Alice writes candidly about her experiences in this great blog. [Alice Dunsdon’s Badminton Blog]

Don’t miss out on Daniel Stewart’s Tip of the Month! Sport psychologist Daniel Stewart is always full of great insight when it comes to the mental side of the sport, and this month he focuses on the importance of social connection within the horse community. [Daniel Stewart: Fit In to Stand Out]

Enter to win a Back On Track Therapeutic Turnout Sheet courtesy of our friends at Millbrook Horse Trials! The deadline to enter is Wednesday night, so hurry! [Back On Track Giveaway]

Tuesday Video:

Learn more about equine metabolic syndrome thanks to our friends at Cavalor!

Product Review: Horze Supreme Dark Reflective Saddle Pad

Image courtesy of Horze. Image courtesy of Horze.

If you’re anything like me, you’re always paranoid about safety. I perhaps take it to the next level and am probably my barn manager’s nightmare, but I also pride myself on anticipating problems and trying to head them off at the pass.

When I began reviewing products for Horze, I was impressed from the outset by the array of products they have available for both horse and rider. One such category is that of reflective gear. Reflective gear isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind for many equestrians, but there are many options for every possible need through Horze.

While I do have an indoor arena at home, our farm is also situated along a busy road and there are often times when I will hack out in the front fields. While we’ve never had any problems with traffic, it’s always beneficial to be safety-conscious, which is where the Horze Supreme Dark Reflective Saddle Pad comes into play.

I opted to try the Horze Supreme Reflective Saddle Pad because I felt it gave us great visibility in low light and dark environments without adding too much extra gear to my horse. The saddle pad has two reflective stripes on either side to increase our visibility should a car come up near us.

The reflective strips are great in that they blend in with the black color of the pad during the day, which means you don’t get any annoying sunlight reflection blinding your friends when you ride past. But as soon as the light is low, they kick in with a nice and unobtrusive glow that is just enough to warn drivers and passersby that you are near.

The other great thing about the Reflective Saddle Pad is the fact that it’s a nicely manufactured pad as well. In addition to providing safety elements, the pad is also designed with the horse’s comfort in mind. Made from breathable cotton and designed with clearance for higher withers, the pad ensures that the fit underneath your saddle is correct and doesn’t induce higher than normal sweating.

I was pleased to find that even on a warm day, the black material of the saddle pad didn’t make my horse sweat anymore than usual. That is something you always worry about when using darker colored material, but I’m happy to report that this pad is quite breathable and lightweight, which means wearing it during the summer shouldn’t be an issue.

This pad is a great value for all of the conveniences it has. While I believe you can’t truly put a price on safety, I think the $34.95 price point of the pad is perfect and worth every penny.

The Horze Supreme Dark Reflective Saddle Pad is available in All Purpose and Dressage sizes, and you can find more Horze Reflective Gear options here.

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Badminton in Slow Motion

Centaur Biomechanics captured some great slow motion footage to the tune of 300 frames per second at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this weekend. This captivating video shows even more detail of every effort the horses and riders must make on cross country, and it’s truly fascinating.

Zach Brandt Looking Ahead to Bright Future

Zach Brandt and Vasilev at Ocala. Photo by Ali Strauss. Zach Brandt and Vasilev at Ocala. Photo by Ali Strauss.

It was a slight twist of fate that brought a bright young horse into Zach Brandt’s barn. Zach has been growing his budding business as an eventing professional, a process that involves tough decisions and more patience than the average person. With an eye out for the next horse that he could produce through the levels, Zach first met Vasiliev, a Anglo European gelding, through his work with Jon Holling.

“Jon imported ‘Larry’ for a student as a four-year-old,” Zach explained. “She rode and competed him for about a year and a half but eventually decided she wanted to do more work with racehorses on the track. At the time, I still had (Cavallino Cocktail), so I wasn’t necessarily in a position to buy another horse but Jon thought Larry would be a good horse for me.”

When Zach originally began riding Larry, Jon Holling gave Zach his honest opinion on the horse. “He told me that any time you buy a horse, there’s a potential for buyer’s remorse. But he said that with this one, he knew I wouldn’t have any.”

Campaigned through Training level by Megan Johnston, Larry was a scopey and talented young horse but still showed greenness at the level. “Megan was kind enough to let me ride and compete him for a few months,” Zach said. “That gave me time to put the money together to be able to buy him, and in February of last year he officially became mine.”

Zach and Larry competed in several Training level events before stepping up to Prelim together. They made their Prelim debut at Carolina last year, finishing second. As it is with horses who show talent for upper levels, Prelim was a big test for Larry and a good barometer for where he could potentially go from there.

“He’s just been a super horse,” Zach said. “He is a bit of a handful — a little hot and strong. But I honestly prefer that type of ride. But honestly no matter how nice the horse is and how great its mind is, at that age and level of experience you just don’t really know how far they’re going to go. But he has that look in his eye and he has that attitude that makes me feel he will be a four-star horse one day.”

Zach Brandt and Vasiliev schooling with Leslie Law. Photo by Bailey Moran.

Zach Brandt and Vasiliev schooling with Leslie Law. Photo by Bailey Moran.

Later in 2015, Zach tested Larry at the Intermediate level at Poplar Place, finishing eighth with no jump penalties on cross country. Diligently, Zach kept working to perfect Larry’s skills and rideability, bearing in mind that he was a more sensitive and aggressive ride. “He’s not really an affectionate type of horse, he’s more aggressive, but he’s quite rideable,” he said. “He’s kept his fitness really well as he’s moved up.”

Zach aimed Larry at the biggest challenge of their partnership to date, the CCI2* at the Ocala Horse Properties International Festival of Eventing last month. Having completed three Intermediates and two CIC2* events, the CCI2* was the next milestone to tackle.

“He had run a couple of Intermediates in the fall and came out this year more mature and strong,” Zach said. “He definitely seems to get better as he is challenged more. I’d say the CIC2* at Pine Top was his first ‘hard’ Intermediate, and I walked around the cross country not entirely sure how it would go — it was the best cross country ride of my life. He’s just gotten better each time out, and it was the same way at Ocala.”

Indeed, Larry went on to finish in ninth position in the Ocala CCI2* — quite the impressive feat for the horse’s first CCI event in a field nearly 30-strong. Larry added two rails in the show jumping to his dressage score for a final finish on a score of 56.9.

“That’s the lowest dressage score he’s had in FEI competition,” Zach recalled. “Where he’s come in the last year and three months was asking a lot of him at eight years old. He finished Ocala even better than I expected.”

Larry is now enjoying several weeks of vacation after his big effort and will be aiming for the CCI2* at the Ocala Jockey Club Thanksgiving weekend. Zach is also eyeing an Advanced move up this summer. “He’ll run his first event back in the CIC2* at Richland this summer and then potentially move up to Advanced at Plantation Field,” he said. “If all goes well, he may do the CIC3* at Morven Park and then do an Intermediate at Rocking Horse as a lead up to the Jockey Club CCI2*.”

Meanwhile, Zach is busy making big moves of his own, recently deciding to move north to Carlock, Il. to base out of the Mercier family’s Hunter Oaks Equestrian Center.

“I’ve been in Ocala for the last two summers, and it can be difficult to do business because of how hot it gets,” Zach said. “I’ve been thinking about going north since the end of last summer, and I got invited to work out of Hunter Oaks. I’m hoping it will be more of a long term move, but we plan to come back down to Ocala in the winter.”

As the newest member of Area IV, Zach is looking forward to the opportunities his new location will offer. He hopes to attract new clients for sales and training. “They’ve made me an amazing offer, and I’m really looking forward to basing there. There are a lot of opportunities to work within the amateur market, both with teaching and training.”

As Zach’s business and relationship with Vasiliev continues to grow, he’s sticking to his plans and doing his best to create the best horse and work environment that he possibly can. “I’m going to spend the summer focusing on improving his show jumping and dressage,” he said. “Jon will come up periodically through the summer to teach. Larry is coming along quite well and while it is tempting to try and do a CCI3* in the autumn, I’m just going to take my time with him and really try and produce the best and most confident horse I can.”

Memory Lane: Reliving Michael Jung’s Journey to the Grand Slam

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is no easy feat, as proven by the fact that it has only successfully been done once, by Pippa Funnell in 2003. The Grand Slam was created in 2001, with the prize money being increased to $350,000 in 2008.

Not to say that some haven’t come close. Andrew Nicholson is the most recent to come tantalizingly close, winning Burghley in 2012 and Kentucky in 2013 but then coming third at Badminton.

Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt also gave it a fair shot, winning Burghley in 2011 and Kentucky in 2012 but then finished fifth at Badminton in 2013 (the 2012 running of Badminton was cancelled).

We’ve also staked our hopes high on Oliver Townend, who won Badminton and Burghley in 2009 aboard Flint Curtis and and Carousel Quest, respectively. The dream came to a harrowing end in Kentucky in 2010, however, when Oliver had hard fall from Ashdale Cruise Master.

Andrew Hoy is the other to come close winning Kentucky and Badminton in 2006 but losing Burghley that year.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

And so it comes down to a quiet German, one so modest and soft spoken that the label of “The Terminator” hardly seems applicable. The Terminator conjures imagery of a flint-eyed, hard fought individual whose chilly persona matches their accomplishments under pressure. The nickname is reminiscent of “The Iceman,” a name bestowed upon race rider George Woolf, who rode Seabiscuit with ice in his veins.

Yet to meet Michael Jung in passing brings up none of these images. Instead, you hear him speak of his love for his horses, and of how he does his best not to exude pressure upon them for fear of dampening their performances. You hear him speak of how he lets his horses dictate his plans, and how he treats every event — even one as monumental as this weekend — as “practice.”

But time and time again, he enters the arena with crushing pressure on his shoulders, only to deliver a near flawless performance every time. The accolades adorning his CV are overflowing: individual Olympic gold, individual World Equestrian Games gold, and now a Rolex Grand Slam trophy to add to the collection.

Here we go again! #foreverjung  Photo by Julia Rau

Here we go again! #foreverjung
Photo by Julia Rau

When I first put Michael Jung on my map, he had just won gold at the World Equestrian Games in 2010. Being relatively new to the sport, I thought, “Huh, this German guy is pretty good.” But left my thoughts at that.

And he kept winning. He made the London Olympics look like a schooling round in all three phases.

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Then, his name popped up on the entry list for Kentucky in 2015, and we all but knew it would be a showdown between fischerRocana FST and La Biosthetique Sam. As history has it, Sam lowered two rails to eventually give Rocana the win, but we hadn’t seen the last of Michael’s self-proclaimed favorite.

It was hard not to hate him, if we’re being honest. We all strive for greatness within our niches in the sport. It’s hard to look at someone with as much success as Michael has and not feel envious. And if he were any less of a horseman, perhaps we’d be justified.

But to hear him speak for just a few minutes on his horses and on his training (the bits he does let on about, at least) will sway you if you were on the fence. His efforts and hard work behind the scenes have gotten him to this point. He is a true example of a horseman who makes his own way, which is perhaps the most admirable facet of this fairy tale.

When Michael and Sam won Burghley, the Grand Slam question began circulating throughout the eventing community. Could he pull it off?

Pull it off he did, with a handy win in Kentucky from start to finish aboard fischerRocana. A talented mare in her own right, it was scary to think that Sam was waiting in the wings for Badminton as his arguable top horse.

Victory gallop! Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Victory gallop! Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

When cross country began and we saw the carnage that was happening on course, the nerves set in. Would he go the direct route at the Vicarage Vee? Undoubtedly so. Would he make it through that direct route? In fact he did. Would he stop the clock in time to hold his lead?

Even after missing Sam’s final gallop due to a flight mishap on the return from Kentucky, the horse came home absolutely full of run and several seconds under the optimum time.

The man and horse to beat today. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

The man and horse to beat today. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

And even today, the pressure was on. Michael had two rails in hand, and he had lowered two in Kentucky last year. Historically, show jumping is Sam’s “weak” phase, if you could call if that. A rail scattered here and there, but the rails that did fall were expensive, as illustrated by this mural at Badminton.

The crowd held its collective breath with every leap that Sam made. With every canter stride, we all rode alongside Michael. We held our breaths over the treble and over several single fences that had taken hits throughout the day. Yet they all stayed up. Two fences from home, Michael had it in the bag. But we still held our breath, knowing that anything was possible.

Micki 2

He crossed the finish, and the Badminton stadium erupted. Never mind that a hometown British rider hadn’t ridden to the victory. Never mind that we’re essentially accustomed to seeing Michael win time and time again. Never mind. Today, we all rode with Michael Jung and his storybook horse, Sam.

Relive Rolex Today on NBC

Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography. Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography.

As if this weekend hasn’t been thrilling enough, you will be able to relive the excitement that went down in Kentucky last weekend, also known as the second stop on Michael’s trip to eternal glory.

Today on NBC at 1:30 p.m. EST, there will be a special 1.5 hour long recap of Rolex Kentucky, and it’s definitely something not to miss! The presentation is always special and a great way to introduce the sport to the public.

So set those DVRs or cancel those Sunday plans, let’s let the magic live on for just a little longer!

Badminton Horse Trials Show Jumping Open Thread: Michael Jung Wins Rolex Grand Slam!

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Photo by Shannon Brinkman. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

We’re getting down to the finish for the very exciting weekend of Badminton action this morning. We’ll see all of the pairs show jump today, and it will all come down to the grand finale when we find out of Michael Jung has the stuff to win the second-ever Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

Keep it locked right here for the latest updates from the final phase of #MMBHT!

11:32 a.m. EST:

11:02 a.m. EST:

11:02 a.m. EST:

11:00 a.m. EST: Here is your final #MMBHT 2016 top 10! Stay tuned for so much more from the most epic weekend ever!

Screenshot_1

10:59 a.m. EST:

10:58 a.m. EST: So there you have it, ladies and gents. Michael Jung adds ROLEX GRAND SLAM winner and Badminton winner to his ridiculously long resume. And the really freaky thing? He has ANOTHER horse that is his top choice for Rio. What is this world!

Sorry, ladies. I was sad too.

Sorry, ladies. I was sad too.

10:56 a.m. EST: HE DID IT HE DID IT HE DID IT!!!!

Micki 2

10:54 a.m. EST: OMG I Can’t. I can’t handle this.

10:52 a.m. EST: Andreas has to use every single ounce of riding skill to get So Es Et to clear those fences, but he’s done it clear!

Andreas O

10:50 a.m. EST:

10:49 a.m. EST: Here we go! Second placed Andreas Ostholt and So Es Et in now!

10:48 a.m. EST: Clear for Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul! She finishes on a 44.6!

Gemma

10:47 a.m. EST: Oh man, I’m getting so nervous! Gemma is the best of the Brits and in next.

10:45 a.m. EST: Clear and into at least fourth for Mark Todd and Leonidas II!!

10:44 a.m. EST:

10:42 a.m. EST: Clifton Lush has lots of hangtime in the air with Jock Paget. This is another very experienced pair. He’s got one down to swap positions with Clarke Johnstone.

Clifton

10:40 a.m. EST: Clarke Johnstone just put himself directly in the line of sight of the Rio selectors for the New Zealand team with a LOVELY clear round. Just lovely.

Clarke

10:38 a.m. EST: Quickly du Buguet scrambles through the treble and has two down total to drop her and Astier Nicolas out of the top 10.

10:37 a.m. EST: Quite a few more rails from these top 15 or so. The pressure cooker is strong!

10:37 a.m. EST:

10:36 a.m. EST:

10:36 a.m. EST:

10:34 a.m. EST: Armada has historically struggled in the show jumping and unfortunately today is no different. He’s got five down for a 66.2.

Oliver

10:33 a.m. EST:

10:32 a.m. EST: Izzy finishes with just one rail down to finish within the top 10 with Allercombe Ellie on a final score of 50.4. This is, we believe, her best Badminton score to date.

10:32 a.m. EST:

10:31 a.m. EST: Izzy and Allercombe Ellie lower one rail so far.

10:31 a.m. EST:

10:28 a.m. EST:

10:27 a.m. EST: Gwendolen Fer adds two rails to her dressage score with Romantic Love, dropping them out of the top 10.

Gwen

10:25 a.m. EST: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet have the middle of the triple down for a 51.3 to end her weekend. We’re into the top 10!

Jonelle

10:23 a.m. EST:

10:22 a.m. EST: Jean Teulere and Matelot du Grand Val swim through fence 6 and have two down total for a final score of 55.9.

10:20 a.m. EST: This is so cool!

10:20 a.m. EST:

10:19 a.m. EST: Bummer, Bettina has three down with Designer 10. He looked a bit strong, and he’s so powerful that sometimes it seems he overpowers his own front end!

Bettina 2

10:17 a.m. EST: Designer 10 is just so cool.

Bettina

10:16 a.m. EST:

10:14 a.m. EST: FYI for the livestream viewers:

10:13 a.m. EST:

10:12 a.m. EST: Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon had fence 8 down but an otherwise lovely round. Into the top 15 now.

Andreas

10:10 a.m. EST: Ah, man. Three down for Pascal Leroy.

Pascal

10:09 a.m. EST:

10:08 a.m. EST:

10:08 a.m. EST: The time is proving to be very attainable for these afternoon pairs so far.

10:07 a.m. EST: The third clear of the second group for Camilla Speirs and Portersize Just A Jiff! Love that little pony horse.

Camilla

10:06 a.m. EST:

10:05 a.m. EST:

10:05 a.m. EST:

10:04 a.m. EST: Rodolphe Scherer lowers two in the treble and rubs several with Makara de Montiege to finish on a 60.5 for the weekend.

Rodolphe

10:02 a.m. EST:

10:01 a.m. EST: Beanie Sturgis really has a little jumping bean in Lebowski! Clear!! They finish on a 52.8.

Beanie

10:00 a.m. EST:

9:58 a.m. EST: Ben Way bounces a rail but he’s clear! The 10th clear round of the day with Galley Light.

Ben

9:57 a.m. EST:

9:56 a.m. EST:

9:55 a.m. EST: Be sure to tune in to either FEI TV or the Badminton Live Stream (free) for top notch commentary. On the YouTube stream, we have Harry Meade, Matt Ryan and Daisy Berkeley providing some great comments.

9:54 a.m. EST:

9:53 a.m. EST: Just two rails separate the 2nd through 11th placings. What a nail biter we’re in for!

9:53 a.m. EST:

9:52 a.m. EST: We love this photo of Ben Hobday and Mulrys Error! #yehboi

Ben Hobday (GBR) and Mulrys Error. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Ben Hobday (GBR) and Mulrys Error. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

9:51 a.m. EST:

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar, Badminton Horse Trial graduates, class of 2016. #MMBHT

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

9:50 a.m. EST: It would be SO much more impressive if this was a mounted band. Can we make that a thing? #bombproofing

Opening

9:44 a.m. EST:

9:43 a.m. EST:

9:41 a.m. EST: Alright, here we go! We’re just about set to start the top 20 group at Badminton to close things out. Remember, we’re on the brink of a potentially historic moment in eventing history as Michael Jung sits on the cusp of winning just the second ever Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

He has had two rails down in the past (Rolex 2015), but he also could lower two today and still win assuming he can keep the time tidy. Will he need both those rails?

7:35 a.m. EST:

7:32 a.m. EST: That completes the morning group! Yes, that’s right, we still have to wait longer for this exciting finale. We’re all on the edge of our seats (well, I’m on the edge of my couch) waiting for that one German guy to jump later. We’ll resume at 9:45 EST right here on EN!

7:30 a.m. EST: Here is the FREE live stream for anyone interested!

7:29 a.m. EST:

7:27 a.m. EST: Guest commentator Harry Meade remarks that Blyth Tait is especially skilled a riding “little Thoroughbreds.” My kind of guy.

7:26 a.m. EST: A couple hard rubs and two down for Sam Griffiths and Hasty Imp for a final score of 61.3. We have two more to see in the morning session.

Sam griffiths

7:25 a.m. EST:

A word for Mulrys Error from Ben Hobday before the Jumping #MMBHT #Badminton #2016 #Comeback

A photo posted by Badminton Horse Trials (@bhorsetrials) on

7:24 a.m. EST: Zara puts in a tactful ride on a tired High Kingdom to have two down for a final score of 62.0. She’ll finish within the top 25 at the moment.

Zara

7:22 a.m. EST:

7:22 a.m. EST:

7:20 a.m. EST: We’re definitely seeing some tired horses this morning, but the number of clears we’ve seen show that it is absolutely doable and these horses are FIT. Many of them look ready to go round cross country again! Another interesting comment regarding Olympic selection that is on the line for many riders, commentator John Kyle points out that there will not be a Vicarage Vee on the Rio course. How much will that and any related trouble there play into the selectors’ decisions?

7:20 a.m. EST:

7:20 a.m. EST:

7:19 a.m. EST:

You couldn't ask for a prettier day for show jumping than this! #MMBHT

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

7:19 a.m. EST:

7:14 a.m. EST:

7:13 a.m. EST: Our fifth clear round from Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh, who won here in 2014. This mare is such a lovely, typey jumper.

Sam

7:12 a.m. EST:

7:12 a.m. EST:

7:08 a.m. EST: A final score of 84.4 for Michael Ryan and Ballylynch Adventure.

7:08 a.m. EST:

7:07 a.m. EST:

7:06 a.m. EST: What a weekend for Libby. First overseas event, second CCI4* ever, first Badminton and all she did was add some time and one rail to her dressage score with Sir Rockstar. Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Libby 2

7:05 a.m. EST: And they’re off! #18goingon5

Libby

7:03 a.m. EST:

7:01 a.m. EST: #YEHBOI! Ben goes clear with Mulrys Error. What a weekend for this pair. The biggest example of beating the odds if there ever was one.

Ben 2

7:00 a.m. EST: Ben Hobday enters to big cheers from the crowd on Mulrys Error.

Ben

6:59 a.m. EST:

6:56 a.m. EST: Sarah Ennis and BLM Diamond Delux have just some time faults for our first final score under 100, 94.6.

Sarah

6:55 a.m. EST:

6:54 a.m. EST:

6:53 a.m. EST: China’s Alex Hua Tian is the next in. This is the first CCI4* appearance for this pair since WEG. This is their first trip to Badminton. One down for a total of 103.9 for Alex and Harbour Pilot C.

6:52 a.m. EST:

6:50 a.m. EST:

6:49 a.m. EST: A double clear for Canadian Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee on a final score of 101.1! Just the second clear we’ve seen so far. #camericanpride

Kathyn

6:47 a.m. EST:

Sportsfield Othello has some hops this morning! 4 faults for a final score of 106.6 for Joseph Murphy:

Joseph Murphy

6:44 a.m. EST:

6:42 a.m. EST:

6:40 a.m. EST:

6:40 a.m. EST:

6:38 a.m. EST: Here is a great course preview from our friends at Horse & Hound!

Nyquist Wins 142nd Kentucky Derby

It’s hard not to feel a bit nostalgic today as we recall the events of the Triple Crown last year, but crowd favorite Nyquist put on an absolute show to handily win the 142nd Kentucky Derby this afternoon.

The colt by Uncle Mo out of Seeking Gabrielle held off a hard charging Exaggerator to take the win in a speedy time of 2:01.31. Nyquist, trained by Doug O’Neill, ridden by Mario Gutierrez and owned by Reddam Racing LLC, won the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and followed that up with wins in the San Vicente Stakes and Florida Derby in 2016.

He now takes an undefeated record of 8 wins in as many starts to the Preakness Stakes — you may remember the last undefeated winner of the Derby was Barbaro.

Nyquist was sent off as the heavy favorite today with final odds of 2-1. Exaggerator was a hard closing second, followed by another heavily favored horse, Gun Runner. There is one DNF (Did Not Finish) listed on the final running order in Shagaf. Reports are that the horse tired and was pulled up and was not injured.

Badminton Horse Trials Cross Country Live Updates: Michael Jung Retains Lead

Libby, Boyd, and Buck walking the Badminton Course. Photo courtesy of Boyd Libby, Boyd, and Buck walking the Badminton Course. Photo courtesy of Boyd "All Around Good Bloke" Martin

Just when we thought the whirlwind of eventing madness had settled down, it’s time for cross country at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. That’s right, we’re spoiled with so much top-class action just one week after Rolex!

Leslie Wylie is our eyes on the ground this weekend, and she’s currently out and about on course soaking it all in (perhaps with a beer in hand — if you see her, give her a cheers!) and will be bringing us the full report at day’s end.

In the meantime, I’ll be handling up to the minute updates right here on EN thanks to this incredible live stream from FEI TV. If you aren’t sure how to follow along this weekend, click here for the full guide.

The first horse due out on course this morning is Armada, piloted by Great Britain’s own Oliver Townend. They lie in equal 24th position on a dressage score of 46.2. This pair will set off at 11:30 a.m. GMT / 6:30 a.m. EST. Our North American pairs will ride at the following times:

  • 12:34 p.m. GMT / 7:34 a.m. EST: Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee (CAN)
  • 1:40 p.m. GMT / 8:40 a.m. EST: Libby Head and Sir Rockstar
  • 3:44 p.m. GMT / 10:44 a.m. EST: Buck Davidson and The Apprentice
  • 4:14 p.m. GMT / 11:14 a.m. EST: Boyd Martin and Cracker Jack

Overnight leaders Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam will jet out of the start box at 12:46 p.m. GMT / 7:46 a.m. EST. It’s set to be a thrilling day, so keep it locked right here on EN for the latest and greatest from #MMBHT! Go Eventing!

#MMBHT: WebsiteEntry List, ScheduleRide TimesLive ScoresRadio BadmintonFree Live StreamGuide to Watching LiveFEI TVEN’s Coverage,Instagram

12:17 p.m. EST: That’s a wrap on a very dramatic cross country day at Badminton. Will wee see history made tomorrow? Wylie will have your full report soon, here are your top 12 after today:

Screenshot_2

12:17 p.m. EST:

12:14 p.m. EST: And our last pair is safely home. Wow, what a day!

Joseph

12:14 p.m. EST:

12:09 p.m. EST: Our last on course, Joseph Murphy, takes the long route at the Vee.

Joseph

12:07 p.m. EST: We’ve received confirmation that both Boyd Martin and Cracker Jack are ok after their fall. Joseph Murphy has a runout at the Mirage Pond.

12:07 p.m. EST: Michael Jung has two fences in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping.

12:06 p.m. EST: “A giant, slaying day,” says commentator John Kyle after Chris has a shocking fall at the Hollow. He’s on his feet and Nobilis 18 trotted off.

Chris

12:05 p.m. EST: Chris Burton was 16 seconds up coming to the Vicarage Vee and he elected to go long. Wise.

12:01 p.m. EST: Doggy-cam!

cam

11:57 a.m. EST: Chris Burton and Joseph Murphy will close out the day. Two pros, this should be a treat!

11:56 a.m. EST:

11:55 a.m. EST: Oliver yells “Not presenting!” at the second silver birch but can’t quite get Black Tie up for the attempt. He makes a horsemanship decision to walk home.

Oliver 2

11:54 a.m. EST: The first problem at the Huntsmans Close for Jodi Amos, who has decided to retire.

11:53 a.m. EST:

Screenshot_1

11:52 a.m. EST: Another decision to go long at the Vee from Oliver. Sticky on the way out but clear.

Oliver Vee

11:50 a.m. EST:

11:49 a.m. EST: Big and quick for Oliver Townend and Black Tie.

Oliver

11:48 a.m. EST: Izzy Taylor wisely elects to take the long route at the Vicarage Vee. Allercombe Ellie looking a bit peeky today. Oliver Townend has returned to the course with his second ride, Black Tie.

11:47 a.m. EST:

11:45 a.m. EST: Oh man. More trouble at the Vee, this time for Dani Evans.

Dani Evans

11:42 a.m. EST:

11:40 a.m. EST: One complex that is riding really well, the Huntsmans Close. Dani Evans and Raphael II demonstrate:

Dani

11:37 a.m. EST: Just 6 more to cross the flags today.

11:33 a.m. EST: Louise Harwood and Mr Pots have been restarted.

Louise

11:31 a.m. EST:

11:30 a.m. EST: Jeanette’s horse is shown being walked out and appears to be ok, it seems that Jeanette is getting attention from the medics.

11:27 a.m. EST: To clarify, the hold appears to be for repairs to the Vicarage Vee.

11:26 a.m. EST: Hold on course now.

11:21 a.m. EST: Boyd and Cracker’s day sadly comes to a heartbreaking end at the Vicarage Vee. Boyd stayed down holding his knee for a bit but he’s on his feet now. What a gutting day for the USA. Libby will be the sole representative tomorrow.

Boyd 2

11:19 a.m. EST: Boyd and Cracker Jack a bit sticky through the Mound.

Boyd

11:17 a.m. EST: Reports coming in that Jeanette and Lets Dance are on their feet. It almost looked as if the mare was afraid to strep on Jeanette if she tried to get up right away.

11:15 a.m. EST:

11:14 a.m. EST: Oh god. Jeanette Brakewell has a nasty fall at the second last with Lets Dance. Both were still on the ground at last shot.

11:13 a.m. EST: Gemma Tattersall is our 10th inside the time!

11:11 a.m. EST:

11:10 a.m. EST:

11:09 a.m. EST: Gemma looking fighting fit over the Devoucoux Keepers Brush:

Gemma

11:04 a.m. EST:

11:03 a.m. EST: Just my observation, but this type of course seems to play really well into the hands (hooves?) of the lighter, handier type horses. Example: Portersize Just a Jiff.

11:03 a.m. EST:

11:01 a.m. EST: Buck pulls up at the Alexanders Silver Birch. Not Dirk’s day, so he’s going to save the legs. Horseman’s decision.

BDJ 2

11:00 a.m. EST: Andrew Heffernan puts his hand up after a stop at the Mirage Pond.

10:59 a.m. EST: The Apprentice is looking unsure through the SHogun Hollow and has a glance off.

BDJ

10:56 a.m. EST: The Apprentice hits a bit better of a rhythm as he goes. They’ve chosen to go long at the Vicarage Vee. Great decision after a sticky start.

Buck

10:55 a.m. EST: Finally we see him! Buck uses all of his experience to get The Apprentice over the Swindon Mound but they’re through.

10:54 a.m. EST: We have yet to see BDJ on the stream. Come on, FEI TV!

10:53 a.m. EST: Yikes, probably the hardest fall we’ve seen today from Lucy Jackson and Bosun. They’re both on their feet.

Lucy

10:50 a.m. EST: Buck should be on his way!

10:49 a.m. EST: French rider Helene Vattier picks up her third stop on course and have been eliminated.

10:46 a.m. EST:

10:46 a.m. EST:

10:43 a.m. EST:

10:41 a.m. EST: Oh NO. Poor Tim falls from Ringwood Sky Boy at the Vicarage Vee. Poor guy, so gutted.

Tim Price

10:40 a.m. EST:

10:40 a.m. EST:

10:39 a.m. EST: We’re all riding along with Tim Price today – he’s had a rough last couple of weeks and we’ve got our fingers crossed for him with Ringwood Sky Boy!

Tim

10:36 a.m. EST: We’re four away from Buck Davidson and The Apprentice!

10:31 a.m. EST: “I tried, Mom!”

Beanie

10:30 a.m. EST:

10:26 a.m. EST: Beanie Sturgis and Lebowski have been pulled up while the oxer is being put back together.

10:25 a.m. EST: The French are having themselves a DAY here at Badminton!

10:25 a.m. EST: Fixing the oxer:

Pin

10:24 a.m. EST:

10:22 a.m. EST: Holy cow, Nicola Wilson and One Two Many live dangerously at the big double oxer and have the back rail down. She made an incredible save but she’s decided to retire.

Nicola

10:20 a.m. EST: Jonelle is home 12 seconds under with Classic Moet! Hubby Tim will tackle the course soon with Ringwood Sky Boy.

Jonelle 2

10:16 a.m. EST: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet are looking on point at the double gates. Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 are home with a few time, she pumps the air in elation.

Jonelle

10:11 a.m. EST: Bettina gives Designer 10 lots of verbal encouragement to get Designer 10 over the Vee and they’ve got it done.

Bettina

10:10 a.m. EST:

10:09 a.m. EST:

10:09 a.m. EST:

10:04 a.m. EST:

10:04 a.m. EST:

10:03 a.m. EST:

10:00 a.m. EST: NOOO!! Emily King falls at the second to last with Brookleigh. SO gutted. She was having one of the most beautiful rounds of the day. Oh man.

Emily fall

9:55 a.m. EST: A spectacular ride through the Vee for Emily King and Brookleigh. What a class ride from this protege!

Emily 2

9:52 a.m. EST: Bill Levett calls it a day with Improvise after trouble at the Shogun Hollow.

9:50 a.m. EST: Emily taking her time so far on course but looks sharp through the Quarry:

Emily

9:48 a.m. EST: Emily King and Brookleigh are away to HUGE cheers from the stands!

9:47 a.m. EST: Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre make quick work of the Outlander Bank.

Laura

9:44 a.m. EST: Here’s a look at the board as of now. Emily King is just about to go with Brookleigh.

Screenshot_2

9:43 a.m. EST: Nicely over the Vicarage Vee for Kerry Varley and Bluestone Luke.

Kerry

9:42 a.m. EST:

9:41 a.m. EST:

9:36 a.m. EST:

9:34 a.m. EST: Zara and High Kingdom put their big girl (and boy) britches on for this hairy moment at the Vee. Wow!

Zara 2

9:33 a.m. EST:

9:32 a.m. EST:

9:32 a.m. EST:

9:31 a.m. EST: Zara Tindall and High Kingdom look solid so far, here at the Jack Wills Garden:

Zara

9:30 a.m. EST:

9:30 a.m. EST:

9:29 a.m. EST: Blyth Tait has joined John Kyle on the FEI TV stream, how lucky are we to get such top notch commentating?

9:29 a.m. EST:

9:28 a.m. EST: Fernhill Present says no to Alice Dundson at the Mirage Pond, ending their day early.

Alice

9:26 a.m. EST: Tina Cook logs the fastest time so far, 18 seconds under the time with Star Witness.

Tina

9:25 a.m. EST:

9:20 a.m. EST:

9:18 a.m. EST: Mark Todd becomes our fifth double clear with Leonidas II to put him into third. What a masterful round.

9:17 a.m. EST: Ok, this is just too much for my emotions today. Ben Hobday has me reduced to tears for the second time today, sigh.

Ben H

9:15 a.m. EST: MR. STICKABILITY.

Toddy

9:15 a.m. EST:

9:14 a.m. EST:

9:13 a.m. EST: We spy Willberry Wonder Pony hitching a ride with Ben Hobday!

Ben

9:11 a.m. EST:

9:11 a.m. EST:

9:09 a.m. EST: Francis Whittington has to go to his stick coming to the final water. Mark Todd is working on a master class aboard Leonidas.

Mark

9:06 a.m. EST: Francis elects to go the long route with Hasty Imp. Jock Paget and Clifton Lush are working on a close round – he’s double clear!

9:05 a.m. EST:

9:04 a.m. EST: Francis Whittington and Hasty Imp are trying to be the top British pair with a fast round, clear so far!

Francis

9:02 a.m. EST: Nicely through the direct for the Vicarage Vee for Jock Paget and Clifton Lush.

Jock

9:01 a.m. EST:

9:00 a.m. EST: Giovanni Ugolotti and Oplitas pick up a stop at the Hollow after an awkward jump over the A.

Giovanni Ugolotti

8:58 a.m. EST:

8:56 a.m. EST: Just time for Libby and Sir Rockstar! What a round, wish we could have seen more!

8:55 a.m. EST: Michael Owen has a heartbreaking fall from Bradeley Law at the Vee.

Michael owen

8:53 a.m. EST: Looking great, Rocky!

Libby

8:52 a.m. EST: We’ve barely seen Libby on the live stream but she’s looked spot on everywhere we have seen her.

8:50 a.m. EST:

8:49 a.m. EST: Sir Rockstar is the oldest horse here this weekend at 18, but he doesn’t look it!

Rocky

8:46 a.m. EST: We’ve just glimpsed Libby and Rocky through the Huntsmans Close, he gets a “Good boy!” from his pilot. Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation make quick work of the Vicarage Vee.

Clarke

8:43 a.m. EST: Libby is away!

8:42 a.m. EST: Sadly, Joao Duarte Silva and Xaft end their day with three refusals at the first of the Mirage Pond.

Joa

8:41 a.m. EST:

8:40 a.m. EST: We’re just a couple out from our American trailblazers, Libby Head and Sir Rockstar.

8:37 a.m. EST: Wow! Andreas Ostholt sits up and lets So Is Et figure it out after a hangup at the Vee. He was bold and took the direct and almost paid dearly for it.

Andreas 2

8:34 a.m. EST:

8:34 a.m. EST: So sad we didn’t see more of Camila Spears but she’s home just over the time clear!

8:31 a.m. EST: We’ve had four inside the time: Oliver Townend, Gwendolen Fer, Pascal Leroy and Michael Jung.

8:30 a.m. EST: JUST barely outside the time for Ben Way and Galley Light after a lovely round.

8:30 a.m. EST:

8:29 a.m. EST: One of my favorite horses to watch on cross country: Portersize Just a Jiff. Camila Spears takes the long way round at the Vee.

Camila

8:23 a.m. EST:

8:22 a.m. EST: Blyth nurses a tired Bear Necessity home.

8:21 a.m. EST:

8:19 a.m. EST: Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity V had just one hairy moment so far but are doing a handy job.

Blyth

8:12 a.m. EST:

8:11 a.m. EST: Blyth Tait will be held while repairs are being made to the oxer that Vittoria fell over.

8:11 a.m. EST:

8:10 a.m. EST:

8:09 a.m. EST:

8:08 a.m. EST: NO! Vittoria Pannizon and Borough Pennyz have a nasty fall at the open oxer at Jacks Mill Gates. They both are up and appear to be ok.

Vittoria

8:06 a.m. EST: Can we talk about the French for a second? Two inside the time, one just one second over the time. #killinit

8:04 a.m. EST:

8:04 a.m. EST:

8:01 a.m. EST: Olivia Wilmot having to really encourage Cool Dancer around after a stop at the Mirage Pond.

8:01 a.m. EST:

8:00 a.m. EST:

7:59 a.m. EST: A very hairy moment at the Vee for Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino.

Jesse

7:58 a.m. EST: You guys, I’m literally choked up right now. That was beautiful. Michael is clear INSIDE the time with Sam.

Sam

7:53 a.m. EST: This is insane. Michael is just not human, that has to be it. He’s 5 seconds under his time at last check too.

Michael 2

7:49 a.m. EST:

7:48 a.m. EST: Woohoo! Kathryn Robinson looks elated to finish! She got a 20 at the Vicarage Vee but she looks so thrilled.

Kathrny

7:45 a.m. EST: Simon Grieve is home! Michael Jung is in the startbox.

7:44 a.m. EST: Wow, Paulanck Brockagh picks up the first runout of her career with Sam Griffiths. This pair won the muddiest Badminton ever in 2013.

SG

7:42 a.m. EST: Simon is riding his ass off trying to get home with Cornacrew. He’ll be pleased to get this round done with!

Simon 3

7:41 a.m. EST:

7:40 a.m. EST: Canadian rider Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee are away! #CAMERICA

7:40 a.m. EST: Simon electing to take the long routes carrying two refusals in an effort to complete.

7:37 a.m. EST: Another stop at the Mirage Pond for Simon Grieve.

7:36 a.m. EST: Cornacrew and Simon Grieve have quite the disagreement at the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound:

Simon

7:32 a.m. EST: A refusal at the out of the Mirage Pond for Sarah Ennis and BLM Diamond Delux:

Sarah ennis

7:29 a.m. EST: YIKES! Coolys Luxury lands right in the ditch after the Vee, pitching Tom Crisp off to the side. Bummer.

7:26 a.m. EST: Eeeeeee. A hairy moment for Gwendolen Fer and Romantic Love, but they’re through and still full of run.

Gwen

7:23 a.m. EST: Just three are home without jump penalties so far. Badminton is claiming its victims!

7:22 a.m. EST: Dan Jocelyn has called it a day on Beaucatcher after trouble at that damn Vicarage Vee.

7:22 a.m. EST:

7:20 a.m. EST: Beaucatcher stops with Dan Jocelyn at the Mirage Pond, seems to be a green moment for the horse:

Dan

7:17 a.m. EST:

7:16 a.m. EST:

7:13 a.m. EST:

7:12 a.m. EST:

7:11 a.m. EST: Megan Heath and St. Daniel pick up an early 20 at the hanging log into the water at 8:

Megan

7:07 a.m. EST: Here’s an idea of the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound, as shown by France’s Jean Teulere and Matelot du Grand Val:

Jean

7:05 a.m. EST:

7:04 a.m. EST: On man. Sarah Bullimore and Valentino V have a fall at the open oxer:

Sarah

7:02 a.m. EST: Beautiful for Dani through the Vicarage Vee!

Dani VV

6:59 a.m. EST: Dani Evans and four-star first timer Smart Time make the Jack Wills Garden look easy, but then she picks up a stop at the C element of the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound.

Dani

6:56 a.m. EST:

6:56 a.m. EST:

6:55 a.m. EST: Joseph Murphy goes the long way at The Hollow:

Joseph

6:53 a.m. EST: Woohoo! Joseph Murphy and DHI Topstory make it through the Vicarage Vee!

6:49 a.m. EST: Ballylynch Adventure doesn’t read the Vicarage Vee either and hopes off to the right of the flag. Michael Ryan forced to take the long route, a shame are they were having a cracking round.

Michael

6:45 a.m. EST: That Vicarage Vee is proving to be influential already. Jodie Amos takes a tumble from Figaro Van Het Broekhof.

Jodie

6:42 a.m. EST: A MASTERFUL double clear for Oliver Townend and Armada. They’ve just completed their fifth Badminton cross country, no big deal.

6:41 a.m. EST: Oh no! Izzy Taylor has retired KBIS Briarlands Matilda after they had a fumble at the Vicarage Vee. Sad day.

Izzy

6:40 a.m. EST:

6:39 a.m. EST: Oliver makes short work of fence 24:

Oliver

6:36 a.m. EST: You can find today’s ride times here and live scores here.

6:34 a.m. EST: Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarland’s Matilda are on course. Oliver is clear so far on Armada. This pair was 15th here last year.

6:34 a.m. EST:

6:30 a.m. EST: And we’re off! Oliver Townend and Armada are away and over the first.

6:29 a.m. EST: Big shout-out to the globetrotting John Kyle, who is providing commentary today on FEI TV. Sam Watson has joined him for the morning.

6:27 a.m. EST: Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

6:25 a.m. EST: Here is a great interview with William Fox-Pitt, who we can’t wait to see back at this level!

Vote for This Year’s Rolex Top Dog, Presented by World Equestrian Brands

Mop dog, the first. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Mop dog, the first. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rolex is almost as big of a deal for the dog attendees as it is for their human counterparts. Everywhere you can look, there’s a different dog taking in the sights (and smells).

We’ve long honored the dogs who attend Rolex with their horse-obsessed humans, and it’s no surprise that our Rolex Top Dog contest is always a popular one!

Thanks to our awesome sponsor, World Equestrian Brands, this year’s prize is a beautiful Veritas Fancy Raised Figure-8 Bridle from World Equestrian Brands.

The Veritas Figure-8 Bridle features unparalled luxurious padding on the single crown piece, select premium leather and stainless steel buckles. These bridles are designed for superior comfort, style and performance.

Photo courtesy of World Equestrian Brands.

Photo courtesy of World Equestrian Brands.

So without further ado, here are your finalists for this year’s Top Dog! Vote for your favorite to determine the winner. The poll will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

1. This well-prepared pooch spotted by Susannah Lewis.

Photo submitted by Susannah Lewis.

Photo submitted by Susannah Lewis.

2. Robin Corr’s Dorsey is a jump decoration!

Photo submitted by Robin Corr.

Photo submitted by Robin Corr.

3. Rachel Leneweaver’s Indy is quite the scopey pup. We see a four-star in his future!

Photo submitted by Rachel Leneweaver.

Photo submitted by Rachel Leneweaver.

4. Lucy was giving rides to the cross country course!

Photo submitted by Jennifer Durden.

Photo submitted by Beth Durden.

5. Xena is another bold dog who’s ready to tackle her first Rolex!

Photo submitted by Cheryl Parsons.

Photo submitted by Cheryl Parsons.

Vote for the #TredstepPayItForward Challenge Winner

The Tredstep Solo Pro Coat and Interchangeable Collar. The Tredstep Solo Pro Coat and Interchangeable Collar.

Eventers are an inspiration, and this weekend was further proof of this. Last week, we introduced the Tredstep Ireland Pay It Forward challenge, where we invited you to nominate someone who has helped and inspired you during your riding career.

Both the nominee AND the person who nominates will receive a Tredstep Solo Pro Coat and Interchangeable Collar! The Solo Pro Coat is a uniquely tailored, traditional style jacket that combines innovative materials with performance enhancing features.

We’re excited to have had a lot of great entries, and we’ve made the difficult decision of narrowing the list down to 8 finalists. Take a look here and vote for your favorite in the poll below. Voting will close on Friday, May 6 at 5 p.m. EST, and we’ll announce the winner this weekend. Good luck to our finalists!

1. @eventingenzo

Nominating @jgeventing for @goeventing's #TredstepPayItForward ✨ Retraining my OTTB for eventing has been both the most rewarding and challenging experience I've had. Throughout all the ups and downs, Julia has been there to build me back up every time I doubt myself. She's listened to and read countless calls and texts to reassure me that Enzo has the talent and we can get to our goals. Choosing to send Enzo to Aiken, so far away from MA, was nerve wracking, but I felt so much better with Julia giving me daily updates on my boy. She's one of the only people besides my trainer that I trust the ride on Enzo to (I mean, look how good she makes him look!) and she's helped inspire me to not give up. I could honestly have nominated multiple people for this- @wmaling @jmkuzeja @corbzzzzz @haileyob have all been amazing. I'm so grateful to have these awesome people in my corner rooting for me and Enzo ❤️

A photo posted by Lauren Drew (@eventingenzo) on

2. @notjustaonetrickpony

Hi @goeventing and @tredstep__ireland I'm nominating the background team aka my parents. Pictured here with me fence judging at The Grassroots Championships 2014&2015, we are heading to Badminton again next week to fence judge at The Mitsibushi Cup. They are regular @britisheventing volunteers being out most weekends and often staying further away to help all weekend. They help immensely with my two horses and have given me support in my decision to go eventing. I still live at home along with my terrier and without that I couldn't afford to compete. My mum is very horsey so is a great help with helping out and also when I have broken both of them in. They both were there when my homebred was born and have supported every step of the way with him, my Dad came XC schooling with me last week when I took him for the first time. #tredsteppayitforward

A photo posted by Becky Neale (@notjustaonetrickpony) on

3. @lab361

I'm nominating Betsy Ball of @redbudequestrian for #tredsteppayitforward Betsy is always inspiring me, whether she is pushing me to be a better rider or a better human. Not only does she run a top notch eventing farm in Mississippi, but she also has a dog rescue helping strays find much needed and loved homes! Betsy selflessly gives so much to everyone in her life and to the sport of eventing. She has helped so many horse crazy, but financial struggling college students achieve their eventing goals. To her, it doesn't matter if you can't afford to ride or show, as long as you are willing to work hard she will help you out! Not only is she giving back through teaching, she also spends her time volunteering for the sport. Often at an event you can find her between her coaching and riding obligations on the cross country course giving back to the sport through jump judging! She saw a potential in me that I never knew I had and inspired me everyday to work harder. Betsy values being a horseman above all else, to her the horses wellbeing always comes first. I think it would be hard to find a better or more deserving person for this contest!

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4. @lauraengeman

I am nominating my trainer Kris Wallace for the #TredstepPayItForward award! When I left to attend the University of Missouri this past fall, I had heard from many people, family included, that I would not have the time or money to ride in college. After an extensive search during first semester, I found Kris’s stable. She was the only trainer in the area who was able or willing to provide horses for me to use in lessons. Kris has accommodated my schedule as it has changed across semesters. She even managed to cram my lessons in between classes to ensure I was still able to ride! Since show season has arrived, Kris has provided me with many opportunities to attend a variety of shows. With her support, I will be competing in my first three-day event in May! What makes Kris even more deserving is that Kris has given me the opportunity to be a working student so that I can afford to compete on a college student’s budget. Without Kris, I think I would have been forced to quit riding while at school. The support Kris has provided to help me continue to pursue my passion is why I nominate her for the #TredstepPayItForward award!

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5. @rsowinski



6. @nkilver

7. @sagartland



8. @xbetterbesocialx

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango Ride for a Cause in 2016

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango on their way to winning the Rebecca Farm CCI2* in 2015. Photo by Sally Spickard. Heather Morris and Charlie Tango on their way to winning the Rebecca Farm CCI2* in 2015. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Team Express Group, enjoyed a fantastic season in 2015, highlighted by five top-three placings at the two-star level, two of which were victories.

The year wasn’t all about the highs, however, as Heather lost her beloved brother, Dylan, to cancer in the fall after a hard fought and emotional battle. In the wake of such a devastating loss, Heather has rallied in honor of Dylan, and her success and hard work were honored at the end of the year with the announcement that Charlie Tango had won the inaugural $25,000 Connaught Grant.

The Connaught Grant was the brain child of the team behind Phillip Dutton as well as his owner Caroline Moran and was designed to honor the memory of Bruce Duchossois, who lost his battle with cancer in 2014. The award focuses on horses competing at the one- and two-star levels that the selection committee feels is a proper candidate to represent the U.S. internationally in the future.

“I actually didn’t know we were even being considered,” Heather said. “I know he was the USEA Intermediate Horse of the Year in 2015, so that likely narrowed it down. I know the committee talked to my vet and other people who know Charlie.”

Heather Morris and the Team Express Syndicate's Charlie Tango are the first to receive the $25,000 R. Bruce Duchossois, which was announced at the Convention last year in memory of the late Bruce Duchossois. This grant is given to a one- or two-star horse that shows U.S. team potential. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Heather Morris and the Team Express Syndicate’s Charlie Tango are the first to receive the $25,000 R. Bruce Duchossois, which was announced at the Convention last year in memory of the late Bruce Duchossois. This grant is given to a one- or two-star horse that shows U.S. team potential. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Unfortunately, the award was overshadowed by some health issues on Charlie’s part. The gelding contracted botulism on the way home from the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International, where Heather had to withdraw before dressage in order to return to California to be by Dylan’s side. Charlie missed the end of the 2015 season and the early part of the 2016 season while recovering.

Botulism, which can be contracted by consumption of food that contains the bacterium that trigger it, attacks the nervous system of the horse and is often fatal.

“When Charlie arrived home from Fair Hill, his nose was a bit runny,” Heather said. “We thought it was a batch of shipping fever. Then he wasn’t swallowing his food, so we rushed him to the hospital and he ended up there for two and a half weeks. Botulism basically numbs their whole neurological system.”

When Charlie returned home, they started the long road to bringing him back into form. “He was home for a couple of months and then we literally started from scratch,” she said. “He had no muscle. He went from being a really fit two-star horse to having no muscle, so he just walked for a month and we treated him as if he’d never been ridden before. We just built it up from there.”

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango on their way to being crowed Merial Open Intermediate Champions at the 2015 AECs. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango on their way to being crowed Merial Open Intermediate Champions at the 2015 American Eventing Championships. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Charlie returned to competition in March at Copper Meadows, finishing fourth in the Open Intermediate. “He felt like he didn’t miss a beat,” Heather said. “He’d been going to some shows and had done some dressage tests and a test ride, but he finally ran cross country at Copper.”

 

Given the fact that botulism is a terrifying illness, it was to Heather and her team’s great relief that Charlie made easy work of his return to competition, especially since she initially worried he wouldn’t compete again at all.

With the time he’s had off, making plans to target a specific competition using the $25,000 Connaught Grant has been difficult, but Heather is nonetheless grateful to have received it and is looking forward to putting it to good use soon.

In the meantime, Charlie is continuing to show he’s a very exciting horse for the future. He made his Advanced debut at Galway earlier this month, where he finished second in commanding fashion. He then went on to a second place finish in the Advanced at Twin Rivers.

Charlie’s gusto for stepping up a level, even amidst the health issues he has been battling, is further proof of the possibility of overcoming odds when they are stacked against you — he added just time on cross country to his dressage score on both outings.

In spite of the devastating loss of Dylan Morris, his memory lives on every day for Heather. The additional significance of the grant is not lost either, as Heather and Charlie will be riding with additional wings this year, ever honoring those whom we have lost.