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Steinbuch Still in First, Vaden New Leader in Prelim Challenge Divisions at Woodside

Delaney Vaden and RedRox Jazzman are the new leaders in the Prelim Challenge Rider Division. Photo by Ann Haller Delaney Vaden and RedRox Jazzman are the new leaders in the Prelim Challenge Rider Division. Photo by Ann Haller

The morning started early at Woodside Horse Park, with the first Preliminary Challenge pair tackling the Ian Stark designed cross country course at 8 a.m. Though time proved costly for some pairs in both divisions, there was also a great deal of success.

PRELIM CHALLENGE HORSE DIVISION

Of the thirty pairs that started the horse division, 18 had double clears, and only two suffered eliminations.   Kimmy Steinbuch and En Vogue not only retained their overnight lead, but did it by going double clear in one of the quickest rides of the day.

Kimmy Steinbuch and  En Vogue. Photo by Ann Haller

Kimmy Steinbuch and En Vogue still leading their division after cross country. Photo by Ann Haller

James Alliston also went double clear on Thomascourt Cooley, meaning .01 points still separates first and second. James and Cooley were also within three seconds of the optimum time, the closest of the day. James’s other ride Sunsprite Madeira also held her slot in the division.

James Alliston and Thomascourt Cooley. Photo by Ann Haller

James Alliston and Thomascourt Cooley, currently in second. Photo by Ann Haller

Erin Kellerhouse and John Herichs Bill’s Midnight Magic sit in fourth going into tonight’s show jumping round under the lights in the atmospheric ring. “I thought the course rode great and had the perfect mix of technicality and gallop jumps that got the horses really confident,” Erin told us. “I will be thinking about keeping all the rails in the cups tonight!”

Hawley Bennet-Awad and Jan Hawthorne’s OTTB High Duty moved up to sixth and have also taken the lead for the CANTER award for highest placed OTTB. Amber Levine and Otter Pop, who got their start in the YEH division, are in fifth and really pleased with their success this weekend.

“We are very proud of him!” Amber said of Otter Pop. “He’s still green as he’s only six but I felt he came off course more confident and more educated.”

PRELIM CHALLENGE RIDER DIVISION

The clock did its duty in shuffling the board a bit, and overnight leader Ruth Bley had a clean round and 1.2 time faults, enough to move her into second. Lauren Henry and CTR Stoney Creek, who were in second after dressage, had an unlucky stop at the brush going into the trees at the top of the course but regained their momentum and finished strongly.

Fourteen-year-old wunderkind Delaney Vaden managed a double clear round to become the division’s new leader. She and RedRox Jazzman have been together for three and a half years (Since Delaney was ten!) and are hoping for many more. This is their second Prelim Challenge, and with the goal of making the 1* Young Rider team, as well as getting their bronze medal in dressage, they appear to be well on their way.

Delaney Vaden and RedRox Jazzman. Photo by Ann Haller

Delaney Vaden and RedRox Jazzman, new leaders in the Prelim Challenge Rider Division at Woodside. Photo by Ann Haller

“My trainers Bea and Derek DiGrazia as well as Danielle Cassalett and Brian Sabo have really transformed us this past year,” Delaney said. “The course was super nice, flowing and a really good challenge.”

While there is pressure to keep the rails up tonight, Delaney demonstrates wisdom beyond her years by staying the present. “I am always reminding myself I am a kid enjoying myself and my horses and I can only try my best. The main thing I always hope to achieve is humbleness no matter how high we hope to get in the levels.”

Charlee Marinovich and her own Dassett Theme BCF moved up to third with a double clear round. The closest to optimum time in the division was Karren Shimonek and her own Picture Perfect, who in fact hit the time exactly in in their double clear round. That ride moved them from 20th to 13th, proving that it pays to be on time.

As previously mentioned, show jumping will run tonight in conjunction with the Prelim Challenge Dinner and Gala, and we’ll bring you the full report and video highlights when they are available.

Woodside Preliminary Horse Division Top Ten After Cross Country:

woodside horse eventingnation

Woodside Preliminary Rider Division Top Ten After Cross Country:

rider top 10 eventingnation

Saturday’s Remaining Preliminary Challenge Schedule 

Preliminary Challenge show jumping: 4:45 – 5:50 p.m. PT

Preliminary Challenge top 10: 6:20 – 7 p.m. PT

The Spring Event at Woodside: WebsiteEntriesRide TimesScheduleResultsLive Stream

Go Eventing.

 

Kimmy Steinbuch, Ruth Bley Lead Woodside Preliminary Challenge Dressage Divisions

Welcome to the Spring Event at Woodside, featuring the hotly contested and popular Prelim Challenge. Friday was a gorgeous day in Northern California, with a light coastal breeze keeping the temperatures from getting too hot.

Running levels from Beginner Novice to Advanced, there’s something for everyone at Woodside, though the Preliminary Challenge is the highlight of the weekend. Not only are prize money — $15,000 across Horse and Rider divisions — and custom saddles at stake, the spectator friendly format and special atmosphere provide a different sort of test for the pairs.

Dressage is completed on Friday and Saturday is devoted to jumping, with cross country in the morning and show jumping starting in the afternoon in reverse order of go. Opening Ceremonies and a Gala Dinner precede rides by the top 10 pairs in the division, and spectators have ringside seats for the grand finale and awards.

Robert Kellerhouse and his team at Del Mar Eventing work around the clock to make Woodside an incredible event with spectators galore, and we can’t wait to see how the weekend unfolds. Here’s a wrap-up of the Preliminary Challenge dressage!

PRELIMINARY CHALLENGE HORSE

Kimmy Steinbuch and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue are leading the Preliminary Challenge Horse division heading into cross country on an impressive dressage score of 28.6. En Vogue is a lovely young bay Hanoverian mare that Kimmy has been competing at the Preliminary level since March of 2015. In their 2016 season together, the pair has picked up two wins and two top-three finishes in their first four outings together.

En Vogue is a dressage horse turned event horse, with Kimmy taking the reins last January. This pair is heading to Colorado Horse Park to contest the CCI1* next week, so Kimmy is looking forward to this test of fitness for the mare.

“I think the atmosphere will actually help her,” Kimmy said. “I think the cross country looks fun and it’s a good test of endurance, and I think the show jumping being later on (today) will be a great way to find out where we are for fitness.”

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James Alliston and Thomascourt Cooley. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

James Alliston sits a mere 0.01 point behind Kimmy on Sophie Hulme’s Thomascourt Cooley, and also finds himself in third by less than a point on Pamela Duffy’s Sunsprite Madeira.

Since moving Thomascourt Cooley up to Prelim at the fall Galway Downs competition, where he came in second in a large division, the grey Irish Sport Horse gelding has never finished worse than third. This is especially impressive given that James has competed him only in large Open Prelim divisions.

Sunsprite Madeira is a striking bay Trakehner mare bred by California-based Sunsprite Warmbloods. She has been equally consistent at this level, finishing second in the Open Preliminary Division at Rebecca Farm last year, and beating out barnmate Thomascourt Cooley in her two 2016 competitions.

James is also in 10th on Rick Plummer’s Dan the Man, and 13th on Pascale Winnick’s Talisker. Because the scores are so tight at the top, look for time to play a huge factor in cross country later today.

Ruth Bley and Rodrigue Du Granit. Photo by Sherry Stewart

Ruth Bley and Rodrigue Du Granit. Photo by Sherry Stewart

PRELIMINARY CHALLENGE RIDER

Ruth Bley leads the Preliminary Challenge Rider division on her consistent bay horse, Rodrique Du Granit. This pair has been competing at Preliminary and one-star level since 2013, and they are often seen in the top of the Preliminary divisions around Area VI.

Based in Castro Valley, California, Ruth is not only a talented rider, but also a supporter and owner for her fellow eventers, especially Kimmy Steinbech and John Michael Durr. She takes her own turn to lead her division on Rodrique, who is 11 this year and really putting the pieces together in this flat phase.

“The dressage definitely isn’t his favorite,” Ruth said. “But he’s really beginning to figure out what you want, if you explain it in a way that he can understand.”

Ruth and Rodrique have extensive experience at the Prelim and one-star level and are also trekking to Colorado next weekend. For Ruth, it’s all about the pursuit of improvement, the eventer’s ultimate goal.

“I prefer to watch my friends tackle the bigger courses,” she said. “For me, I enjoy seeking improvement and trying to put all of the pieces together at this level. It’s a big enough challenge for me, and I am enjoying it, which is the most important part.”

Lauren Henry and her Canter-found OTTB, CTR Stoney Creek are tied for second with young rider Delaney Vaden and her own RedRox Jazzman, who are coming into their own this season. Lauren and CTR Stoney Creek have progressed consistently through the levels, and it’s particularly poignant to be succeeding at the Challenge, which is sponsored in part by CANTER and CARMA. These two began their USEA career together in 2014 at Beginner Novice, and have put in the work required to be competitive.

Delaney and Jazzman started out in 2013 at Novice and have steadily chipped away, taking their time and moving up to be competitive this year at Preliminary. This young rider has diligently worked on her dressage and jumping, and it’s definitely paying off. Way to go, Delaney!

Stay tuned for more coverage of the Preliminary Challenge at Woodside, with cross country and show jumping still to come today. Livestreaming will be available for both events — see schedule below.

Woodside Preliminary Challenge Horse dressage top 10: 

woodside horse eventing nation

Woodside Preliminary Challenge Rider dressage top 10: 

woodside rider eventing nation

Saturday’s Preliminary Challenge Schedule 

Preliminary Challenge cross country: 8 – 9:50 a.m. PT

Preliminary Challenge show jumping: 4:45 – 5:50 p.m. PT

Preliminary Challenge top 10: 6:20 – 7 p.m. PT

Go Eventing.

The Spring Event at Woodside: WebsiteEntriesRide TimesScheduleResults, Live Stream

 

 

Poll: Are Live Streams Worth the Cost?

Galway Downs Eventing Live April 2016

The FEI and various other organizations have been trying to think of ways to promote eventing so that it is more accessible to the general public. While we talk of things like name changes, joke about making dressage more interesting and think of different ways to explain scoring, it seems that one of the easiest ways to promote the sport is simply to make it easier to watch.

Did you know you can watch all the action at Galway Downs this weekend thanks to a live stream produced, filmed and provided by Ride On Video?

Last November, Ride On Video, a fantastic family-owned business, pursued the dream of bringing the sport live to people from around the world. Spotlighting the CCI divisions, you could live stream the dressage and stadium portions of the event from Galway Downs. This was amazing for those of us that could not be there for North America’s final CCI of the year.

This year, Ride On tried an experiment. They offered live streaming coverage for the upper levels at Fresno County Horse Park, as well as non-FEI divisions recently at Copper Meadows, with a slew of visitors accessing the site.

But like everything related to horses, nothing comes cheaply. Outfitting a single camera for Ride On Video’s live stream technology costs $3,000 — and that doesn’t include the camera, batteries and other needed equipment. A single camera is currently used for dressage, for example, while cross country can take up to 16 cameras depending on the course.

What Ride On Video proposed was charging a small $2.99 fee to watch the entire event during this trial weekend, hoping to raise enough to cover the live streaming costs and take the same model on to the Event at Rebecca Farm in July.

What they found, however, was that viewers dropped dramatically with the fee for the service. The concept behind the Ride On model is that the funds would be used to simply cover the costs of the live stream, and all remaining funds would be put toward rider prizes at future shows.

This way everyone wins — we at home get to watch our sport, owners can view their horses when they can’t attend every event, our sport gets increased visibility, the riders get prizes, and Ride On Video can continue that dream of giving back to eventing

We here at EN receive countless comments about loving the live streams, and now we want you to weigh in again. Is live streaming worth it? How much would you pay to watch a full weekend of coverage? Or do you think all live streaming should be free?

And just in case you want to see the action at Galway Downs, click here for the schedule for the weekend, and you can also watch without paying by using the coupon code FREE. But paying the $2.99 to support Ride On Video’s live streaming endeavor would be nice too.

Ladies Lead the Way in Galway Downs CIC2* and CIC*

Frankie Theriot Stutes is all smiles on the Chatwin Group's Chatwin to lead the CIC2*. Photo by Anita Nardine. Frankie Theriot Stutes is all smiles on the Chatwin Group's Chatwin to lead the CIC2*. Photo by Anita Nardine.

When someone tells you that you can’t have it all, point them in the direction of eventers. This weekend marks Frankie Thieriot Stutes’ return to FEI competition with the Chatwin Group’s Chatwin since having her first child, and we’re pretty sure he’s got some pastries in his future.

Frankie and her husband Mike welcomed son Drake into the world almost six months ago. Tamie Smith campaigned Chatwin, an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, for Frankie during her pregnancy and following Drake’s birth. But this weekend, Frankie’s back in the irons — and back in first with her dark and handsome partner. (In case you were curious, Drake is the most incredibly chill and adorable kid, with eyes and fashion sense that melt even non-baby lover hearts.)

Chatwin hasn’t placed lower than second in any competition since October 2014, and Frankie came out swinging at Galway, laying down a dressage test that score 40.0 for a 9.7-point lead in the CIC2* over Barb Crabo and her own Over Easy, a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare that scored 49.7. Canadian Nikki Ayers and Andree Stowe’s Rubicon, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, put in a solid test for third on 51.7.

“A couple years ago this environment would have been intimidating for both of us, but we have come far in our relationship and it was great,” Frankie said. “Tamie really helped give him more experience last year while I wasn’t riding. I think it is a tough course tomorrow. I plan to have fun and look forward to it.”

As in the three-star, the stadium course wasn’t full of double clears. In fact, there were only three clear trips in the division of 15, with rails falling all over the course. Frankie and Chatwin secured the overnight lead by being one of the three double clear rounds.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Tamie Smith again! This time piloting Graceland's Lagos Star to second place overnight in the CIC2*.  Photo by Captured Moment Photography.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Tamie Smith again! This time piloting Graceland’s Lagos Star to second place overnight in the CIC2*. Photo by Captured Moment Photography.

Tamie Smith and Graceland’s Lagos Star moved from fifth to second on 53.6 with their clear round, and Kelly Pugh and David Garrett’s Corazon jumped from seventh to third on 54.2.

Tamie and “Legos my Eggos” have really started to gel this year. She took over the ride on the 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding at the end of last year and came out for 2016 with a bang, placing second in their first outing at Intermediate and then winning at Fresno’s CIC2* in February.

Kelly and Corazon, a 9-year-old Dutch gelding, are also a pair that seem to always be in the top three, and their partnership is young as well. Keep an eye on Chatwin, Lagos Star and Corazon this year!

 

In the CIC*, first through third places remained unchanged after stadium, though dressage leader Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet extended her lead on Lauren Billys’ former ride, Ballingowan Ginger with a clear round to sit in first place on 42.3. It’s a pleasure to see Ginger, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Jordyn Horwitz, out competing again and performing so well, as well as to see Jennifer back in the FEI divisions.

“The course was a true show jumping course; you really had to keep your balance,” Jennifer said. “The cross country looks straight forward. I spent last year out of the tack, and this will be my second ride on this horse. I plan to ride really forward tomorrow and am excited to get out there.”

Jennifer-Wooten on Jordan Horowitz's Ballingowan Ginger lead the CIC 1* division. Photo courtesy Captured Moment Photography.

Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet on Jordyn Horwitz’s Ballingowan Ginger lead the CIC* division. Photo courtesy Captured Moment Photography.

Emilee Libby and her own and Linda Libby’s Jakobi sit in second in the CIC* on 47.2. Green to this level, Jakobi, a 7-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, didn’t seem to mind the atmosphere, the test or the jumps, hitting only one rail to remain in second after stadium.

Kimmy Steinbuch and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue are in third on 47.8 in the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare’s first FEI competition. Kimmy took over the ride from Ruth last year and quickly became a force to be reckoned with at the Preliminary level. Young Rider Kelsey Holmes had a double clear round to move her into fourth place on 49.4 with her own Heart of Gold SE.

Today’s cross country features a jump dedicated to Ian Stark and some fun with water complexes,  terrain and good gallop stretches. Don’t forget you can watch the action LIVE from Galway Down at rideonvideo.net. Check back later today for our final scores and highlights from the exciting finale.

#GalwayDowns: WebsiteRide Times/Live ScoresLive StreamEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

GD 2 star scores day 1

GD 1 star scores day 1

Mackenna Shea and Landioso Set the Tone in Galway Downs CIC3*

Mackenna Shea and Landioso are your overnight leaders after dominating dressage and getting through stadium. Photo by Lisa Takada. Mackenna Shea and Landioso are your overnight leaders after dominating dressage and getting through stadium. Photo by Lisa Takada.

The national day of funny pranks marked the opening of the spring event at Galway Downs, featuring more than 500 horses in multiple divisions. With many of the entries in the FEI divisions looking for their final Rolex prep and a Young Rider team qualifier, we are midway through the spring season in Area VI and the weather couldn’t have been nicer.

CIC dressage was held in two rings to accommodate the large classes, even with the CIC3* stadium scheduled to begin in the afternoon. Despite a small entry list of eight riders, the CIC3* is packed with top combinations ready to set the tone for the rest of their spring season.

For Mackenna Shea and Jordan Linstedt, today was especially moving as it marked their first return to FEI competition since both their horses underwent colic surgery last summer within a week of each other.

Mackenna and her own Landioso, a 14-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding sourced by Michelle Pestl, set the tone for the day by laying down a fluid dressage test to deliver a 43.3. That score gave her a commanding lead over the rest of the field, and coming off a win in the Advanced division at Twin Rivers, the pair is back on track for Rolex.

“I felt pretty good (about the test),” Mackenna said. “I didn’t have a long warm up, but he is really good on the flat. We have been working on his rideability.”

Tamie Smith and Dempsey strutting their stuff in the 3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Tamie Smith and Dempsey strutting their stuff in his first CIC3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Other Rolex-bound competitors include Jennifer McFall and High Times, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by the High Times Syndicate, who came second after dressage on 51.9. They won their last outing at Advanced, with a blue ribbon coming at Fresno. Working hard but also giving “Billy” time to just be a horse in the off season seems to have worked in the pair’s favor, with definite improvements in their dressage scores.

Barb Crabo and her own Eveready, a 17-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, also had a solid test to round out the top three on 52.8 after the first phase. “After the second or third movement, I was really able to push and get a lot out of him,” Barb said. “He really got his act together today, as he was a bit frisky at his first show (of the season), and I was really happy with him.”

But this was not to be a dressage test. With a new course designer for stadium at Galway Downs in Michael Roy Curtis and a windy desert setting, only Bunnie Sexton and her own Rise Against, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, went double clear (we’re sensing a trend here — “Ecko” is definitely a freak of nature!).

Tamie Smith started the division on Dempsey, an 8-year-old Dutch gelding owned by the West Coast Dempsey Syndicate that is contesting his first CIC3* at Galway. A clear round with only time penalties made the course seem eminently doable, especially since Tamie and Dempsey made it look like a gorgeous hunter round. Andrea Baxter and her own Indy 500, who are prepping to go east to Jersey Fresh, had two uncharacteristic rails.

Barb Crabo and Eveready are on their way to Rolex. Photo courtesy of Captured Moment Photography.

Barb Crabo and Eveready are on their way to Rolex. Photo courtesy of Captured Moment Photography.

Barb Crabo and Eveready put in a clear round with three time penalties to move into second on 55.8, and Mackenna and Landioso held on to the overnight lead despite three fallen rails for a score of 55.3. Tamie Smith sits in third on Company Twizted Syster’s Twizted Syster, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. “Chloe” jumped beautifully over the course only to pull the final rail.

“I thought the show jumping course was great; it was really challenging,” Mackenna said. “You had a good balance of fences that flowed. Even though we had several rails down, it was my fault. I plan to ride forward but careful tomorrow.”

Stadium proved tricky for all the FEI divisions, causing shake ups across the boards. Today brings the Ian Stark-designed cross country course, which has a nice blend of natural looking obstacles, including an intimidating angled-skinny-brushes combination over water, the patriotic fence two, and a fun water combination that includes Galway’s beloved Shamu!

#GalwayDowns: WebsiteRide Times/Live ScoresLive Stream,EN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

GD 3 star scores Day 1.

Sunday Links from One K Helmets

This may be a 2015 foal, but I'm a little biased - Liberty Twain DF, aka Pippa, aka my redheaded child! Photo thanks to Sherry Stewart. This may be a 2015 foal, but I'm a little biased - Liberty Twain DF, aka Pippa, aka my redheaded child! Photo thanks to Sherry Stewart.

Nothing says spring to me like a Facebook feed full of foals. Baby animals are always a winner, and baby horses rank in my top three of all time (sorry puppies, elephants and giraffe’s have you beat.) While it’s obvious to anyone that knows me, my maternal instinct isn’t exactly strong. Yet foal season triggers something deep inside me, and my fiancé has finally realized that when the computer is open and I start cooing about how cute the babes are, I am talking about the four legged kind!

I always tried to tell my parents that a baby pony would be perfect for Easter – after all, there were plenty of chicks and baby ducks and bunnies. Sadly for me, the Easter Bunny didn’t know how to ride and a horse was too big to put in a basket. At least, that’s what my parents told me. But I am still able to enjoy all the beautiful colts and fillies that are coming into the world right now – the future of our sport, full of hope (and adorableness).

U.S. Weekend Events:

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

Feather Creek Farm H.T. [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Live Scores]

Sunday Links:

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 feature story about you and your horse on EN. [Contest Details]

Does your horse have an inspiring story about coming back from a serious injury or illness? OCD Pellets wants to hear all about it! Send in your rehab to [email protected] for a chance to win an OCD prize pack (2-month supply of OCD Pellets, 1-month supply of COS Canine, and an OCD Pellets hat and T-shirt). Entries close Monday, May 2, 2016, and the story that receives the most views on EN will win. [Contest Details]

Raising healthy foals

Cheltham horse festival death toll up to seven

New 2* course to be revealed in 2018 on New Zealand’s Southland

Lea, the Blind Quarterhorse, barrel races, trails and more

How did the Mini cross the road in Arizona?

BLM seeks experienced trainers for Pilot Program

Sunday Video:

In honor of The Countdown to Rolex and our happiness at Andrew Nicholson’s planned return to competition, have this great cross country flashback!

Saturday Links from Tipperary

What a beautiful morning for eventing! Copper Meadows in the early morning, photo from Tayler Ravenscroft's Facebook. What a beautiful morning for eventing! Copper Meadows in the early morning, photo from Tayler Ravenscroft's Facebook.

Is it coincidence that with the first day of spring and the first week of Daylight Savings that the eventing season finally feels underway? Maybe it’s the first of the Rolex entries being announced, or CIC 3*’s on both coasts completed. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but all of a sudden it seems to be time for our sport to take center stage. Here on the West Coast we have Copper Meadows running it’s first show of the season, and the East Coast is gearing up for Carolina International. All I know is it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to get a trot set in after 6 pm – though I wouldn’t mind some weather in the 60s for a while before we jump to the upper 70s!

Events This Weekend:

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

Feather Creek Farm H.T. [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

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 feature story about you and your horse on EN. [Contest Details]

Does your horse have an inspiring story about coming back from a serious injury or illness? OCD Pellets wants to hear all about it! Send in your rehab to [email protected] for a chance to win an OCD prize pack (2-month supply of OCD Pellets, 1-month supply of COS Canine, and an OCD Pellets hat and T-shirt). Entries close Monday, May 2, 2016, and the story that receives the most views on EN will win. [Contest Details]

Man who killed horse with a truck sentenced to 5 years

India Policeman arrested for assaulting police horse

Fifteen Horses seized after a horse found dead in Oregon

Penn horse hit by paintball 120 times recovering from eye surgery

Beer and Bragging Rights at Cheltenham Festival

Former Grand National Runner to Go Eventing

Saturday Video:

Dressage-spiration for your Weekend Training – Be Like Valego!!

Countdown to Rolex: Eventers Say ‘Let’s Get Crazy!’

Michael Jung on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.
Photo by Cindy Lawler. Michael Jung on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW. Photo by Cindy Lawler.

Rolex weekend is called “The Best Weekend All Year.” For equestrians, it may just be true. Lexington is a horse lovers dream, no matter what your discipline.

Rolex also features incredible shopping, opportunities to walk the cross country course with your idols and, of course, world class riding.

This year the #RK3DE team has included some amazing entertainment for Saturday night: a Hunter Hayes concert, presented by Land Rover.

It’s not just those of us at EN excited for this development — Tim Price, Sinead Halpin, Lynn Symansky, Buck Davidson, Jennie Brannigan, Boyd Martin, and Hannah Sue Burnett can’t wait either!

Check out this music video they made to show exactly how excited they are!

Shared by Sinead Halpin … So cute! Eventers Tim Price, Jennie Brannigan, Buck Davidson, Boyd Martin, Hannah Sue…

Posted by Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event on Friday, March 11, 2016

Lauren Billys is Officially Olympic Bound

Lauren Billys (PUR) and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Jenni Autry. Lauren Billys (PUR) and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Jenni Autry.

There’s a party going on in Paso Robles, California (and Fresno, Carmel Valley, and Puerto Rico) and it involves a lot of bubbles — both the sparkling kind and the wrapping kind.

Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate’s Castle Larchfield Purdy are going to Rio.

“Are you breathing?” I asked her first, having been in touch with Lauren the past weeks. She laughed. “It’s hard to believe. I’m kind of breathing!”

The journey hasn’t been easy, but Lauren and her team rose to the occasion, and all the hard work and sacrifice is paying off.

“I’m not going to lie, it was hard, and there was sacrifice.”

Lauren, now 27, took the step back in 2011 to begin representing Puerto Rico as an athlete when she represented them at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara with her mare, Ballingowan Ginger.

As an American territory, Puerto Ricans are considered Americans, but not all Americans are considered Puerto Rican. While they can vote in presidential elections, they have their own government.

Firmly ensconced in the Latin American tradition with their ties to North America through their government, Puerto Rico is a special place, and one that Lauren is thrilled to have part of her heritage. “I still have family there,” including her grandmother, and ascribes her love of spicy food to her Puerto Rican heritage (along with her sass!).

Always proud of her heritage and team, they dress to impress in Puerto Rico! Lauren after a clear XC in the CCI 3* at Galway Downs. Photo from Taylor Arnett's FB page.

Always proud of her heritage and team, they dress to impress in Puerto Rico! Lauren after a clear XC in the CCI 3* at Galway Downs. Photo from Taylor Arnett’s FB page.

When she was 19, Lauren began riding on the weekends with Bea and Derek di Grazia, traveling to Carmel Valley from Fresno State, where she managed to compete at the upper levels, teach and build a business, as well as double major in Enology and Chemistry.

That important coach-rider relationship continues to this day. “They are the best,” Lauren said. One of her major decisions this past year was to uproot from the Central Valley and move to Carmel Valley where she currently manages a small horse farm, teaches lessons, and has her horses in work. “I see Bea and Derek pretty much every day. It’s been a incredible.”

But that meant she had to leave behind a successful business, students, clients, her blood family and her barn family. Lauren officially made the move in January of 2015. That same month, Lauren made the difficult decision to sell Ballingowan Ginger, her first upper level and team horse, to  young rider Jordan Horowitz. And then news came that she also sold her younger mare, Jitter Bug, to Hannah Sue Burnett’s long time supporter, Jacqueline Mars. Hannah Sue Burnett Gets the Ride on Jitter Bug.

Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate's Castle Larchfield Purdy in Woodside CIC 3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate’s Castle Larchfield Purdy in Woodside CIC 3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Qualifying as an individual rider for the Olympic games is a much different process than team selection. This is partly why it was so important to win at the Pan Ams last summer for the U.S.

The selection season began March 1, 2015 and continued through this weekend. Cumulative points throughout that span decide who fills the three individual spots for non-team countries. In other words, in order to qualify as an individual not from the U.S., Canada or Brazil, you need to be one of the top three riders in the entire Western Hemisphere. No pressure, right?

Purdy, as he is affectionately known, was imported by Hillary Bates and was Beth Mahon Temkin’s barn before pairing up with Lauren. Beth moved him up to Intermediate in 2014, and Lauren put together the Purdy Syndicate in order to get her hopeful partner for Rio.

After almost two years together, Lauren and the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding have made easy work of cross country courses across the U.S. and Canada. In fact, since being imported from England in 2013 (Purdy started in Emma Castle’s yard), he hasn’t had a single cross country jump penalty.

Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate's Castle Larchfield Purdy at the 2015 Pan American Games. Photo by Carmen Barrera.

Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate’s Castle Larchfield Purdy at the 2015 Pan American Games. Photo by Carmen Barrera.

Last year was a whirlwind for the pair, who tried not to look too far ahead in the future. “I’ve tried to keep the focus on each individual event. It’s a long and short game.” Indeed. Purdy and Lauren moved up to Advanced at this event at Twin Rivers Horse Park last year and never looked back.

Their FEI event schedule was carefully planned and scheduled, and resulted in top 20 finishes at Galway Downs CIC3* (10th), Jersey Fresh CCI3* (16th), the Toronto Pan American Games CCI2* (18th), Copper Meadows CIC3* (2nd), a win Woodside Horse Park CIC3*, and the CCI3* at Galway Downs (8th) in November.

In fact, Jersey Fresh marked not only the pair’s first CCI3* together, it marked Lauren’s first completion at that level, and Purdy’s second run at the level after completing Blenheim in 2012. According to Lauren, Purdy didn’t even blink. This year they came in second in the two-star at Fresno County Horse Park, where they were leading after dressage and stadium, and won the CIC3* at Twin this week.

Lauren was named the 2015 Puerto Rican female Equestrian athlete of the year, a true honor. She called it the “most humbling award” of her career.

After their outing at Fresno, Lauren explained their winter training program. “He’s a big horse, and I’m a little person, so that has brought its own set of challenges.”

Focusing on dressage and stadium, they came out this year with a bang, going double clear in both their stadium rounds and setting the top mark for dressage. She doesn’t worry about the cross country as much, since he’s pretty much a beast out there. In her preparation for Rio, she plans to event him only a few times, but go to a lot of show jumping and dressage shows. “In a way, it’s winter for us again!” Expect to see Purdy back on the scene in late May, early June.

As soon as it was official Lauren would be indeed going to Rio, she reached out to those that helped her get to where she is today. She found Derek di Grazia, and Lois Henry (her longtime dressage coach) and told them in person before the news broke.

And how did she find out? Because the individual riders are determined on a point basis, the results of other 3* events around the world also factor in. So this morning, Ronald Zabala of Ecuador sent Lauren an email after the conclusion of the event in Quillota, Chile, letting her know she was bound for Rio.

“It’s incredible, we’re kind of competitors but at the same time, we’re not.” Carlos Lagos from Chile is also bound for Rio (he finished 5th individually at the Pan Ams last summer), while the remaining individual spot is dependent on results in Portugal tomorrow. As for the scene when she found out? “It was incredibly emotional. I was getting ready to go back to Twin and Ronald emailed and my mom was there, and my dad was there, and my sister was there and we were all crying. And it’s hard to put an end on anything but it’s been five years.”

She had a five year plan? Lauren laughed. “It was right after the Pan Ams in Mexico (2011), and I was on the phone with Derek. He asked, so what’s next? And I said, I think the 2015 Pan Ams and then the Olympics in 2016. And he was just said okay. Then it was – I just committed to a lot! Who knew that could become a reality? I clearly remember that moment.”

Could be a medal round! Lauren and Purdy cruise to victory in Woodside's CIC 3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Could be a medal round! Lauren and Purdy cruise to victory in Woodside’s CIC 3*. Photo by Lisa Takada.

Her Rio prep isn’t finalized yet, because she also had alternate plans if Rio didn’t happen. “This (the CIC 3* at Twin) was his first Advanced outing of the year, so I am really pleased.”

She’ll plan to event him lightly, going to multiple dressage and jumper shows to keep up the training, keep her eye, and keep the focus. “For me, I feel like I compete better when I have been competing recently,” so she will aim to keep herself sharp. “Tentatively I would really like to go to Great Meadows for the Nations Cup as his last outing. The last flight to Rio leaves from Miami, and my father lives there, so I could spend the last two week in Florida and break up the trip a little.”

The CIC3* and upper levels were run as one day event on Friday at Twin Rivers, in order to try to keep ahead of the forecast for rain. “I was walking the XC and if nothing else, I have made so many friends and supporters from this year. The Baxters in part put this 3* on for me to qualify — I’m representing Puerto Rico and I’m also representing Area VI. People I didn’t even know were keeping tabs on [my qualification], were. Tamie [Smith] called me because she found out the results from Chile and asked, ‘Are you going now?’ It was amazing! People in the barns were cheering and crying and it was really just such a great moment not just for me. It’s incredible.”

Matchy matchy! Tamie Smith and Lauren Billys at the Galway Downs CCI 3* in 2015. Lauren didn't realize how many people were closely following her journey! Photo from Tamie Smith's Facebook.

Matchy matchy! Tamie Smith and Lauren Billys at the Galway Downs CCI 3* in 2015. Lauren didn’t realize how many people were closely following her journey! Photo from Tamie Smith’s Facebook.

And now? “I haven’t slept for the past two days. I knew it was going to be to the wire (with gathering enough points to qualify) so the last four months have been so emotional and so crazy. It will nice to kind of relax and be normal, at least for a little bit,” as Lauren plans to maybe visit some friends and family in the next month and sleep. But have no fear, she only plans to take the rest of the March as a kind of breather period!

Of course, there are also many thanks —”I can’t thank my sponsors, the Purdy Syndicate, LLC, Bea and Derek DiGrazia, Loris Henry, my family, my friends, the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee and Equestrian Federation, the LB Eventing family, and my friends in Area VI who have supported me and relentlessly been part of every step to get to this place.”

Your Twin Rivers CIC 3* winners! Photo from Lauren Billys' Facebook page

Winning Twin and on to Rio! Photo from Lauren Billys’ Facebook page

As for the next five year plan, Lauren’s sights are already on WEG at Bromont, and she’ll start competing her newer horse, Marseille (imported in March last year) starting in April. In other words, if you don’t already know her name, make sure you take note now.

Lauren Billys is ready to take on the world.

Smith, Bennett-Awad and McFall Win Big at Fresno

Tamie Smith aboard Graceland's Lagos Star, your first CIC2* winning pair of 2016. Photo by Sherry Stewart. Tamie Smith aboard Graceland's Lagos Star, your first CIC2* winning pair of 2016. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Saturday wrapped up the CIC2*, CIC* and inaugural Advanced divisions at John Marshall’s Fresno County Horse Park. It was a beautiful weekend to celebrate the success of the second longest running event in the nation and its continued expansion.

Tamie Smith, who is currently ranked 40th on the FEI rider rankings and the sixth ranked American, added to her total today with a win in the CIC 2* with Graceland Equestrian’s Lagos Star. Graceland Equestrian is the home of Chuck and Peggy Moore, who breed horses and purchased “Lego of my Ego” as a three year old. Now 9, this Oldenburg gelding is really starting to come into his own.

Tamie reflected on her winning weekend with Lego saying, “It has been a good winter getting to know him and developing a partnership. He’s truly been a diamond in the rough and I feel like he really trusts me now.”

Tamie Smith and the Dempsey Syndicate's Dempsey in the CIC2*. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Tamie Smith and the Dempsey Syndicate’s Dempsey in the CIC2*. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Tamie also completed the CIC2* in seventh place with the Dempsey Syndicate’s Dempsey – a horse that has a sort of cult following (meet him and you’ll understand). While they had time today cross country, it was all part of Tamie’s plan. “Dempsey had uncharacteristic rails yesterday so I worked on his gallop and rideability today. The two-star is starting to be very easy for him.”

That’s certainly a testament to the horse, because cross country proved it wasn’t a dressage test. Only two pairs went clear inside the time: Tamie and Lagos Star, and Robyn Fisher and the lovely 7-year-old mare, Betawave, who finished fourth in their first two-star.

Time put overnight leader Lauren Billys and the Purdy Syndicate’s Castle Larchfield Purdy in second. “I didn’t even wear a watch. I knew I would go for time if I wore one and I want to save him for later in the season.”

When asked about the weekend as a whole, Lauren was quite pleased with Purdy’s performance. “We’ve been working really hard and haven’t had a lot of outings with him so it was nice to get this kind of affirmation. One of his owners was here this weekend, and she’s from Fresno, so that was really kind of like a homecoming for me.” (Lauren also went to college in Fresno.)

Andrea Baxter and her thoroughbred mare, Indy 500, making easy work of Sarah Dubost's stadium course. Photography by Sarah Moseley.

Andrea Baxter and her Thoroughbred mare Indy 500, making easy work of Sarah Dubost’s show jumping course. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Andrea Baxter and her long time partner Indy 500 have been polishing their dressage skills and had a bit of a breakout season last year at the three-star level. Sitting fifth after dressage, Andy and her mare were foot perfect in show jumping and cross country, adding just 0.8 time to their score.

In the CIC*, it was a brilliant performance by the top three, all ending on their dressage score, but it was Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jan and Jerry Hawthorne’s OTTB High Duty who led from start to finish.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and High Duty were foot perfect in the CIC 1*. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and High Duty were foot perfect in the CIC*. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Hawley has believed strongly in this young gelding since the beginning and that faith is beginning to be seen on scoreboard. When asked to think about how HD had grown this weekend, Hawley responded enthusiastically. “HD learned a lot last fall at the one star at Galway. I had some great lessons this spring with Buck, and Ian Stark gave me some pointers to help with my show jumping. I am so lucky to have the chance to ride with the best coaches in the world. A huge thank you to Robyn Fisher and Nikki Hall who have supported and helped me so much with my dressage over the last few years.”

Kelly Pugh and David Garrett’s Corazon continued their success, despite a partnership of less than a year, and will be at Twin Rivers next. Bringing home third was Kelsey Holmes and her own Heart of Gold SE. “Sofia” is apparently feeling better than ever, which means she’s one to look out for as the 2016 season progresses. Not only did Kelly come in third, but fifth as well on her “squid,” NZB The Chosen One.

Kelsey Holmes and her own Heart of Gold SE had a perfect weekend to finish in third on their dressage score. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Kelsey Holmes and her own Heart of Gold SE had a perfect weekend to finish in third on their dressage score. Photo by Sarah Moseley.

Hawley was equally thrilled for two of her friends and students in the Advanced division. “And I am beyond excited for my students, especially Jen (McFall) for her first win in Advanced and Nikki (Ayers) completing her first Advanced!!”

Winner of the Advanced division, Jennifer McFall and her talented Holsteiner gelding, High Times, was full of praise for the new course. “John Marshall and his crew have obviously put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into developing FCHP and the results are impressive! I’m so happy to be part of his inaugural Advanced competition, and I am sure this event will continue to grow to match John’s enthusiasm.”

Winners of the inaugural Advanced division at FCHP, Jennifer McFall and her Holsteiner gelding, High Times, strutting their stuff in sandbox. Photo by Gina Pearson.

Winners of the inaugural Advanced division at FCHP, Jennifer McFall and her Holsteiner gelding, High Times, strutting their stuff in the sandbox. Photo by Gina Pearson.

Billy and Jen managed to keep the lid on their test despite a loose horse deciding to bounce around during their walk pirouette! From there, their hard work in the off season in show jumping paid off when they left all the rails up. Billy was full of enthusiasm on cross country, with his signature uphill canter making easy work of the new Advanced track.

Then came the Canadians! Sara Sellmer and her own TF Kreisler moved from sixth to second after a clear trip cross country. This was their first completed Advanced and their highest placing since a first place finish at Aspen Farms in June 2015.

Nikki Ayers and Andree Stow’s Rubicon also moved up from fourth to third after some time added cross country. While Nikki and Rubix had a miscommunication at the first fence in show jumping (Nikki reports that Rubix was right, of course), they put everything together to end their current trip to Area VI by becoming one of Canada’s newest Advanced pairs.

Gina Economou and Calidore decide that the new Advanced table could really be a little bit wider. Photo courtesy Ride On VIdeo.

Gina Economou and Calidore decide that the new Advanced table could really be a little bit  higher and wider. Photo courtesy Ride On Video.

We’ll end with words from Hawley Bennett-Awad that we’ve heard echoed all weekend: “John Marshall has upped his game with the FCHP venue. The courses were fantastic and the footing was perfect. I know it takes a village to make this work, so from myself and all the competitors thank you and your team! The hard work has not gone unnoticed. We will be back!”

Go John Marshall. Go FCHP. Go Eventing.

Thanks to Sherry Stewart for sending in these great shots from cross country!

Fresno County Horse Park CIC & H.T. [Website] [Live Scores]

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Lauren Billys and Hawley Bennett-Awad Lead CIC Divisions at FCHP

It's a gorgeous day for dressage at Fresno County Horse Park! Photo courtesy Sarah Moseley.

It’s a gorgeous day for dressage at Fresno County Horse Park! Photo courtesy Sarah Moseley.

With the classic California sun shining, it was a beautiful day for dressage at Fresno County Horse Park and the perfect setting for a great start to the season. Familiar pairs top the leader boards in both FEI divisions.

In the CIC2* division, dressage was definitely influential, with the top five going clean over Sarah Dubost’s stadium course in the late afternoon. It’s Lauren Billys and her longtime partner Castle Larchfield Purdy who sit in first. Their goal is to represent Puerto Rico at Rio, and Lauren, who used to live and work out of the Fresno area, moved this past summer to work with Bea and Derek di Grazia at their Stillwater Farm in Carmel Valley.

Having ended the season with a strong eighth place at the Galway Downs CCI3*, Lauren and Purdy are back at it. The 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding and Lauren have certainly become a force to be reckoned with. In two weeks they will contest the CIC3* at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles as part of their ongoing quest, and they certainly seem to be on the right track!

Tamie Smith piloting Peggy Moore's Lagos Star in the 2* division. Photo courtesy Sarah Moseley.

Tamie Smith piloting Peggy Moore’s Lagos Star in the CIC2* division. Photo courtesy Sarah Moseley.

A little over a point behind sits Tamie Smith on Peggy Moore’s Lagos Star. Lagos Star is a 9-year-old Oldenburg who is contesting his first CIC2*. Tamie rode this gelding last at Galway in the CCI*, and his long legs and expressive movement should help him move up the levels. Though he is green at this level, any time Tamie Smith is in the irons, you want to keep a close eye out. The pair made quick work of the show jumping, and time might be the factor today in determining our winner.

In third is a horse that won the world’s heart with former rider Hawley Bennett-Awad. Gin & Juice’s FEI career to date has only been with Hawley, with whom she competed from 2005 to 2014. This is “Ginny’s” first FEI event since the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, and her first with new rider Sara Mittleider. This pair has only competed three times together, with their best result being a win in Open Intermediate last September at Twin Rivers. Now 16 years old, Ginny may be settling down in the sandbox, but we expect her to be breathing fire on course today.

Hawley Bennet-Awad and Jan and Jerry Hawthorne's High Duty before their stunning first place dressage performance. Photo from Hawley's Facebook.

Hawley Bennet-Awad and Jan and Jerry Hawthorne’s High Duty before their stunning first place dressage performance. Photo from Hawley’s Facebook.

Speaking of Hawley, her and Jan and Jerry Hawthorne’s OTTB High Duty are in first in the CIC* division. After a strong outing in the CCI* at Galway last fall, ending in eighth, the pair has been hard at work. Only 7 years old, Hawley has believed in HD since the beginning, and their hard work certainly paid off. A clean show jumping round puts them a full five points ahead of Kelly Pugh and David Garrett’s Corazon for cross country.

Kelly Pugh and Corazon, who made waves after winning the CCI* at Rebecca Farms in only their second show together, jumped clear to move into second. Still less than a year into their partnership, the future seems bright for Kelly and David Garrett’s 9-year-old KWPN gelding. They came out strong two weeks ago at Galway, only adding some time to their dressage score.

After two rails in stadium, Sarah Braun, Hawley’s long time groom and working student, on Korin Potenza’s Shipwrex, now sits in fifth. This is a new pair in the making, with the horse having competed back east with Rebecca Lee. Shipwrex is a 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion who last competed at the FEI level two years ago at Morven Park’s CIC*. Sarah is quite excited about this horse, and we are very excited for her.

Fresno County Horse Park CIC & H.T. [Website] [Live Scores]

FCHP CIC2 FEB 2016

FCHP CIC1 FEB 2016

FEI Season Kicks Off at Fresno County Horse Park

Frankie Theriot Stutes and Chatwin at Fresno County Horse Park. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Frankie Theriot Stutes and Chatwin at Fresno County Horse Park. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

The first North American FEI event of the year is underway at Fresno County Horse Park in California, with a CIC* and CIC2* being contested in Area VI this weekend. In addition, the new Advanced track is being unveiled to the delight of many West Coast competitors. With riders prepping their early season for possible trips to Rolex and beyond, these chances to get out and run at the upper levels is instrumental in getting the horses in tip top shape.

Fresno County Horse Park has a storied history. Formerly known as Ram Tap, FCHP is the second longest continuous three-day event in the country. Located near highway 99 and a very-much-in-use railroad, Ram Tap was established in 1957 by Marian and Pat Humphries. Bill Burton, who started volunteering at age 11, then took over the facilities.

However, a plan to put in a high speed rail endangered the grounds. In 2012, when told that the stabling area would be taken over in order build the train, the decision was made to close Ram Tap.

Tinsley Davis Cohen and the infamous train at FCHP. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tinsley Davis Cohen and the infamous train at FCHP. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Enter John Marshall, a real estate developer and lower level eventer. Initially inspired to put together a coalition to buy all the jumps, equipment and machinery needed to run an event, time proved to be a roadblock that couldn’t be overcome. But that didn’t stop Marshall, who then purchased the event materials himself.

Thus was born Fresno County Horse Park, which had its inaugural international competition in 2014. Since then, Fresno has been home to Area VI Young Rider fundraisers, Team Challenges, Pony Club qualifiers, and the site of many brilliant clinics with riders such as Mark Todd and Lucinda Green.

One of the wonderful things about Area VI is that we don’t have to move locations for the seasons, but it does require a lot of careful planning and maneuvering. Losing a venue such as FCHP would have created a huge gap in the schedule. As open land continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing our sport, saving Ram Tap marked a huge win for eventers on the West Coast.

A special cross country schooling day was held earlier this year to raise money to build new obstacles for the new Advanced course, and eventers from all over the West Coast came to support. Due to its location in the Central Valley, FCHP events attract riders not just from Area VI, but also Area VII, X, and beyond — even Canada!

Canadian Nikki Ayers and Andree Stowe's Rubicon contest their first CIC 2* at FCHP in 2015. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Canadian Nikki Ayers and Andree Stowe’s Rubicon contest their first CIC2* at FCHP in 2015. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

In addition to also being home to Fresno Pony Club, FCHP hosts combined tests, dressage shows and schooling days throughout the year for the entire horse community. Every year marks new changes to the facility, from moving the dressage courts to creating the two-star course and now the Advanced. John Marshall and the FCHP team have done wonders to support our community and keep tradition alive.

We often hear stories of riders who have persevered despite the odds, but dreams come true with hard work and support from organizers as well. The West Coast is ever grateful to John Marshall for stepping up when the odds seemed stacked against him, and here’s to many more years of growth at Fres-“yes” and the beginning of the FEI season!

Go Eventing.

[Fresno County Horse Park CIC & HT Scores]

12 Reasons We Love Galway Downs This Fall

Photo courtesy of Galway Downs Photo courtesy of Galway Downs

What do we love about the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event this fall? Let me count the ways …

1. Breeding of all orcas has been banned in California, but Galway Downs’ Shamu has been allowed to exist in her (or is it his?) natural state since the beginning. (The drought is affecting even Shamu …)

Barb Crabo makes it easily over Shamu with Over Easy. Photo courtesy Liz Hall.

Barb Crabo makes it easily over Shamu with Over Easy. Photo by Liz Hall.

2. It’s Halloween Weekend. Who better to spend the spooky holiday with than a bunch of eventers who laugh in the face of danger daily? Especially when there is a costume party for competitors at the beautiful venue, and coordinators Robert Kellerhouse, Christina Gray and Katie Trafton are involved.

SUPER Q FOOD TRUCK, I LOVE YOU.

SUPER Q FOOD TRUCK, I LOVE YOU.

3. The food trucks. I am not lying, I would give anything for Two for the Road’s Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese and Super Q’s Pork Melt. Or Chicken Melt. Wait, you mean you haven’t had three cheese mac and cheese with pulled pork and sautéed onions? Where have you been eventing lately? (If anyone would like to bring me some, I’ll pay you back!)

4. Watching some of the nation’s best riders come galloping up a hill to a jump RIGHT BETWEEN the vendor area. So you’re shopping on the left side and Tamie Smith goes galloping by, and then you’re getting some advice on tack closer to the stadium arena, and there goes Barb Crabo. No biggie. Just the best view while shopping, possibly ever.

5. Many of the tracks include at least a little stretch of the infield or the actual track. Yeah, this is a working training race track throughout the year. In the permanent barns, you can see the hot walkers. In the early mornings the horses are worked … it adds a little drama to your warm up when you have to pass a training gate on your OTTB to get down to the dressage courts!

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett jog at Galway. Photo by Sally Spickard.

6. Because it’s the final FEI event of the West Coast (well, the nation), it’s a party. Eventers at all levels have been working toward this event. Thanks to the USEF grants, we are getting to see Lauren Kieffer and Phillip Dutton out here for the first time in a long time. Plus Allie Knowles is coming home, David O’Connor is walking around the dressage warm-ups, Kate Chadderton has some other Aussies to catch up with, and Marilyn Little brought RF Demeter.

We are also welcoming Ronald Zabala-Goetschel and two of his horses, Jessie Phoenix and her string of three, and Jacob Fletcher, hot off his Adequan Gold Cup Advanced win at Texas Rose. Plus there’s more! Lauren Billys, James Alliston, Bunnie Sexton, Allison Springer, and Andrea Baxter — with the Olympics in Rio next year and the Rolex qualification period coming to end, get ready for some world class competition.

(And that’s just in the three-star! Click here to see the full entry list.)

7. Who doesn’t love awards and gorgeous ribbons? Place at Galway and you’ll get some nice swag, courtesy of some of the best sponsors the West Coast has to offer. (I’m not kidding. The winner of last year’s Training Three-Day (both divisions) took home more goodies than I ever thought possible. Saddles! Feed! Pads! Bridles! Halters! SHINY THINGS!)

8. It is Sonoma Saddle Shop’s FINAL SHOW. For those of you who have evented, or gone shopping or spent some time at any Area VI event, you know Kristi and Louis. Kristi’s the one that has the extra batteries for your watch, electrical tape in great colors, poultice, bit guards, rein stops, etc. — everything you ever might forget. Sonoma Saddle Shop is more than just a business. They are part of the Area VI eventing family, and they will continue to be, but we will miss their presence at every event more than we can say. (I will especially miss chatting near Taj!)

9. Ain’t no party like a West Coast party! No, for real, there is hooting and hollering when those awards are announced. Heck, be ready for some whoop whoops when you have a great stadium round, a personal best in dressage or make it through those finish flags. I love any good excuse to cheer, and clapping alone just doesn’t cut it at Galway.

10. Thanks to Ride On Video’s LIVE STREAM LAUNCH (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT!), you can be sure I will be whooping it up this weekend in between barn chores. Bob, Debi, Tayler and the entire camera crew — you’re the BEST.

The cross country oasis, not the beer one!

The cross country oasis, not the beer one! Photo via Galway Downs.

11. A Beer Oasis and Rasta Rita’s tasty margaritas. We may be in a drought, but we don’t go thirsty!

12. Everyone who had to stay home this year said the thing they would miss the most was the friendship and camaraderie. Despite the fact we drive double digit numbers and never cross into another state, October Galway is a little bit like Thanksgiving with our eventing family. We get to congratulate and commiserate with each other over the highs and lows of the year, we get to see our favorite beautiful faces in the warm up arenas (Yes, Don, that means you!), we plan for clinics and lessons and how great next year will be.

Hawley Bennett and Jennifer McFall discuss the CIC3* course at Galway. Photo from Earl and Jennifer McFall's Facebook page.

Hawley Bennett and Jen McFall catch up on horseback. Go Galway! Photo from Earl and Jen McFall’s Facebook page.

So even though not all of us can be there in person this year, we’re stalking the scores, Facebook and EN, setting up group texts and telling you to rock it like we know you can.

So kick on, eventers, kick on.

(And remember to ship me that mac and cheese, if you would.)

Deadly Fires Wreaking Havoc for Northern California Horse Owners

Photo from SAFER Sonoma County Equine Rescue's Facebook page Photo from SAFER Sonoma County Equine Rescue's Facebook page

While those of us in Area VI love our sunny weather, there is not one Californian that wouldn’t give anything to be riding in the rain currently. Not only is our state suffering a catastrophic drought, but we are now dealing with conditions more intense than an Indian summer, and wildfires are spreading throughout the north as a result.

Ten different fires burned across northern California this weekend, and about 1,600 homes have reportedly been lost so far. The fire currently burning north of San Francisco is now the fourth worst in the state’s history. Here’s a look at the fires that are still currently burning across the state:

Fire season is a yearly occurrence in the state, but areas that are usually protected by the snowpack are suddenly acting as kindling for huge fires that are consuming homes, farms and ranches. With temperatures in the 100s this past weekend, relief seems far away. The death toll is now at five, and may continue to climb, as more areas are cleared and rubble is able to be sorted.

With the Valley Fire (north of Santa Rosa), Butte Fire (south east of Sacramento) and the Rough Fire (east of Fresno) being the three biggest, firefighters from as far away as Australia are coming to help. Local firefighters have lost their own houses while protecting other neighborhoods. Mandatory evacuations have been established in certain areas, and some families have had to leave without being able to take their pets with them.

And, once again, the horse community is coming together. We get to see pieces of it through social media — great and small acts of kindness that permeate our community in times of crisis. Many barns have opened their doors and gates to those that need temporary shelter. Volunteers with trucks and trailers are willing to go and get animals where it’s safe.

The Amador/Calaveres Fairgrounds Fire Wish List

The Amador/Calaveres Fairgrounds Fire Wish List

R Ranch Fire

Lexie Fed Horses

Fairgrounds have been converted to temporary animal shelters.

Oakdale Equine Rescue helps out at the Angels Camp Staging area for the Rough Fire. Photo from Oakdale Equine Rescue's Facebook.

Oakdale Equine Rescue helps out at the Angels Camp Staging area for the Rough Fire. Photo from Oakdale Equine Rescue’s Facebook.

At the Sonoma Horse Park, which is hosting an A-rated hunter/jumper show this week, supplies are being collected for rescues. Brenda’s Tack Warehouse, a mom and pop business located in Woodland, is selling halters, water buckets, medical supplies, leads and more at cost for donations.

One way to help out - Contact Tack Warehouse and donate supplies.

One way to help out — Contact Tack Warehouse and donate supplies.

Even when the fires are out, these areas will continue to need our support. With homes, barns, fields and businesses leveled, providing for the horses and other animals will be something that requires time and money and effort.

UC Davis has opened the doors of its medical college and is now treating victims of smoke inhalation, something that has the potential to affect even more animals outside of the fire zones. With quick winds, the Sacramento area is hazy with smoke, while those more east near the foothills of the Sierras have smoke permeating their homes.

Two large rescued pigs, Wilbur and Sophie, now being treated at UC Davis Veterinary School for smoke inhalation.

Two large rescued pigs, Wilbur and Sophie, now being treated at UC Davis Veterinary School for smoke inhalation. Photo from the UC Davis Veterinary Medical School Page.

UC Davis’ VERT on the Scene, headed by Dr. John Madigan, who is world renowned for his work on equine neonates, among other things, started the UC Davis Emergency Vet Response Team.

Loomis Basin Equine also opened its doors to two severely burned horses and one burned donkey. Rescuers are pleading with those on social media not to share graphic photos of unclaimed animals, as many people are still looking to be reunited with their pets.

Three severely burned equines arrive at Loomis Basin Equine Medical for important veterinary care.

Three severely burned equines arrive at Loomis Basin Equine Medical for important veterinary care. Photo courtesy of Loomis Basin Equine.

While the Rough fire is on its way to being contained, some of those firefighters are now moving to other parts of the state. Temperatures are expected to rise again this weekend. No one is quite sure what the coming days will bring.

If you are local to these areas in northern California and want to volunteer your time, please call ahead to see where your help can be used most. Every little bit counts — California is just behind Alaska and Hawaii in terms of cost of gas, so even going to rescue these animals and bring them to safe shelters or for acute vet care takes enormous support.

Oakdale Equine Rescue Board Member Mary Smith prepared her horses for evacuation by writing her number on their hooves and painting it on their bodies. Photo from the Oakdale Equine Rescue Facebook page.

How would you keep your horse safe? Oakdale Equine Rescue Board Member Mary Smith prepared her horses for evacuation by writing her number on their hooves and painting it on their bodies. Photo from the Oakdale Equine Rescue Facebook page.

horse with phone number (oakdale mary smith)

Preparing horses for evacuation. Oakdale Equine Rescue Facebook page.

Here’s how you can help during this crisis:

Please post a comment below if you know of any other ways the eventing community can band together to help humans, horses and other animals in need.

Dreams Come True at Camelot Equestrian Park’s Inaugural USEA Event

Welcome to the wonderful world of Camelot Equestrian Park in Butte Valley, California. Photo by CEPF. Welcome to the wonderful world of Camelot Equestrian Park in Butte Valley, California. Photo by CEPF.

As most equestrians are aware, the loss of land is a serious problem when looking at the future of our sport. This is why this weekend in Butte Valley, California, is so exciting — not only for Area VI, but for the future of eventing. As the largest dedicated equestrian facility in the state with more than 1,600 acres, Camelot Equestrian Park is just getting its feet wet this weekend.

For years, Camelot Equestrian Park has held unrated events, perfect for young horses and riders to go out and get some experience. In fact, Camelot is where I took my OTTB to see if he enjoyed this eventing thing for his first outing. (Note: He loved it, especially the water complex). They have a three event series, open to riders Intro to Training, where the grand prize is a brand new saddle.

Plaque on the Dragon Camille, a stone dragon that glows in the dark at night! Photo by Louis Blankenship.

Plaque on the Dragon Camille, a stone dragon that glows in the dark at night! Photo by Louis Blankenship.

Having a recognized event has been in the plans for a long time. However, Area VI’s busy schedule and all the demands of creating a new event take time. When event organizer Louis Blankenship and Camelot’s owners, the Ballous, and the schooling series organizers, Terry Hilst, got together, they worked endlessly for a year and a half to get the event on the calendar and off the ground. “I’ve been incredibly lucky,” Louis said. “The entire area has really stepped in and helped out.”

Landing on Fourth of July weekend wasn’t their initial choice for a dream date of opening, but the team rolled with it, deciding to make this year a solid prep for Rebecca Farm for the Training and Preliminary levels. In addition, the competitors party will be on Friday night so that everyone can enjoy the award-winning fireworks on Saturday night at Lake Oroville.

There will be an FEI-style vet box with water and ice for the horses due to the predicted heat this time of the year. “The safety and comfort of the horses is paramount,” Louis said, and the Friday night party is going to be one for the books!

Meet the bouncer at the bar at Camelot! He also guards the coveted first place neck ribbon . . . Photo by Louis Blankenship.

Meet the bouncer at the bar at Camelot! He also guards the coveted first place neck ribbon … Photo by Louis Blankenship.

Louis is familiar to many West Coast events, announcing, evening terrain, and driving water trucks not just in Area VI, but in Colorado — and just last weekend at Inavale in Oregon. He has had almost every job you can have in eventing and credits that experience to being able to try his hand as an event organizer. “I’ve seen what works, what hasn’t worked, what the riders like, and more,” Louis said. “This is really a dream for us, and it’s just the beginning.”

Not only that, but Camelot is giving away great prizes — including $1,000 per division all the way through intro. Other prizes include a full Revita-Vet system and a Devoucoux saddle, gift certificates to Ride On Video and APF products. There will also be Thoroughbred Incentive Program awards and LEGIS Optimum Time awards. Ribbons go to 10th place. More familiar faces will be seen over the weekend, from dressage judges, TDs and announcer. The West Coast has come out to support this event.

This corner was designed, built and donated by Logan Bearden, as this Area VI Young Rider's Senior Project! Photo by Louis Blankenship.

This corner was designed, built and donated by Logan Bearden as this Area VI young rider’s senior project. Photo by Louis Blankenship.

Despite all the stress of getting an event off the ground, Louis remarked, “I can’t say enough good stuff about it.” He started to list all the people he wanted to thank — but then quickly realized he would probably forget someone by accident. “Everyone has helped this happen,” he said. “The board of Area VI, Megan at USEF, Shelia in the main office, the board of Camelot Equestrian Park Foundation, everyone who has invited me to help with their event over the years — this is truly a community success.”

But not all will be over on Sunday! Louis and his crew are going to water and drag after the last horse, leave the flags up and leave the course open for schooling on Monday.

The cross country course is designed by James Atkinson, who got to work with entirely different terrain. There is a 200-foot hill at the start of the Training and Preliminary courses, which have a 500-foot elevation hill change, something very atypical for Area VI. The stadium courses are by Jose Nava of Mexico, and Tremaine Cooper came out to do the inspections.

When Camelot decides to build a tower, they build a tower! Spectators can stand in, around and on the tower - go brave eventers! Photo by Kristi Fetzer.

When Camelot decides to build a tower, they build a tower! Spectators can stand in, around and on the tower — go brave eventers! Photo by Kristi Fetzer.

Most of the XC obstacles were built by Louis himself with the help of Danny Serafini. Going with the theme of Camelot, there is a tower (which spectators can climb and watch the event from!), battle-axes, swords and even a beer cooler that will be filled during the event. Stadium jumps show off dragons and unicorns thanks to Donald Trotter of Sunsprite Warmbloods, who will also be a friendly familiar face in the warm up rings.

The USEA recognized event only goes to Prelim this year, including Intro, FEH and YEH divisions. Plans to expand to include a Novice Three-Day as well as a Training Three-Day, plus an Intermediate course, are already underway for next year, along with adding more events to the calendar.

The Park has a five-year plan, with an FEI event hopefully by then, and a 10- and 15-year plan, so expect to hear more from this wonderful facility in the future. Planning for CCI level courses is already underway.

It is clear this is just the start for an amazing facility that is well on its way to becoming a destination event for the West Coast. Chinch has a ticket to the party Friday night — he’s always up for a good party — and is planning to scout out the event.

Go Camelot. Go Eventing!

[Camelot Equestrian Park Horse Trials Live Scores]

Best Quotes and Reflections from Copper Meadows

Smiles and beverages are keys to success. Just ask Team Express and NLE. Smiles and beverages are keys to success. Just ask Team Express and NLE.

It’s been a picture perfect California weekend at Copper Meadows, a fitting wrap up for Area VI’s last FEI event of the spring season. But it isn’t the ribbons that brings everyone out, weekend after weekend, long drive after long drive.

From hooting and hollering support (clapping is for some other sport, like golf), to helping move a whole show jump arena, eventing creates a community and family that just isn’t replicable. As eventers, we sometimes have our own language – and make up our own words. Of course, that tight-knit bond is all about showing the love — sometimes in special ways. Scroll down for a quick look at what we call normal.

Eventers show love with pet names:So proud of the little bugger!” — Gina Economou, referring to Exclusive (aka Linus) getting around the big Training course.

Isabella Kelley perfectly times her photo to catch Hawley Bennett and Bodark in the 2*!

Isabella Kelley perfectly times her photo to catch Hawley Bennett-Awad and Bodark in the 2*!

A quote that puts things into perspective:

“We went out to walk the course and quickly decided it was the lower level Olympics, complete with ditch walls and everything!” — Amanda Blake, currently sitting in third with her own Tahoe’s Prize DF in the Senior Novice division.

While Dempsey's a cutie, sorry Tamie, Lainey is still reigning selfie queen!

While Dempsey’s a cutie, sorry Tamie, Lainey is still reigning selfie queen!

On how winning really only feeds the addiction:

“As for the prize money, it’ll be going towards their CCI2* entries for Rebecca Farm!” — CIC2* winner Amber Levine, who took home first and fourth with Guiness St James’ and Carry On.

Robert Schwartz, Mackenna Shea and Avery Klunick. Bonding! Photo Mackenna's FB page.

Robert Schwartz, Mackenna Shea and Avery Klunick. Bonding at events takes many forms! 

One quote taken completely out of context by the reporter:

“Also, it wasn’t small!” — Megan Traynham (actually referring to the feel of the new cross country course, sixth place with Lord Lombardi in the  CIC1*).

What is a horse show without dogs? Dragonfire Farm's Dylan and Monte guard the ranger.

What is a horse show without dogs? Dragonfire Farm’s Dylan and Monte guard the ranger.

The weekend’s best advice on how to travel in style: 

Motel necessities: Diffuser and white noise!” — Jennifer McFall

 

Lauren Billys and Marseille look like they just stepped out of a catalogue, but no, they just finished a 2*! Photo by Lauren Billys.

Lauren Billys and Marseille look like they just stepped out of a catalog, but no, they just finished a 2*!

And finally, quite possibly the best quote from an Advanced division winner, ever: 

“I can’t even believe I entered this division!” — Sarah Braun, upon finding out she won the Advanced with her own Perfect Intentions. Sarah had quite the weekend, ending in third on Dr. Korin Potenza and Dr. Nick Huggon’s Crowning Event in the CIC1*. This was Talan’s move up as well!

Plus, enjoy some FEI Cross Country coverage thanks to Ride On Video and Frankie Thieriot Stutes!

See you in September, Copper! Go #copperstrong!

Copper Meadows: [Website] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage]

Exciting Conclusion Crowns Copper Meadows Winners

The new Hugh Lochore designed Copper Meadows cross country course seemed to produce either a great round or a not-so-good one. Time, as always, played a factor out on course, with no double clears on the CIC3*/Advanced track, and only four double clear in the CIC2*.

Twin Rivers Ranch found themselves in a similar position after completely redesigning their course in 2014, but riders and horses have now adjusted to it well. All eventers know that numbers can predict, but there’s something about fate and horses that happens which sends everything up n the air.

CIC 3* Winners: Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo by McCool Photography.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo by McCool Photography.

Andrea and Indy have been out campaigning this spring, taking advantage of the wealth of FEI opportunities in Area VI. The pair cruised over the new course, adding only 3.2 time to their dressage score. While they did not beat their personal best score in the sandbox, this is their best finish in the CIC3*.

The only other pair to complete the course was Avery Klunick and In It to Win It. Winston was great out on course, but after pulling those unfortunate rails earlier this morning, they left the door open for Andrea and Indy.

Our leader after stadium, Barb Crabo, withdrew Eveready after a fall earlier in the Advanced. Both horse and rider are fine. “I scratched all my horses that I haven’t yet ridden today, which was all but one. She currently in 3rd in the Intermediate and I’m waiting to see how I feel tomorrow.” We all hope you feel better in the morning, Barb!

cic 3 star scores xc

Amber Levine Leads From Start to Finish in the CIC2*

Amber Levine and Guinness St James'. Photo by Alaina Hower.

Amber Levine and Guiness St James’. Photo by Alaina Hower.

Guiness St James’, owned by Amber Levine and Valerie Mackie, didn’t let his small stature get in the way of his plan to win this weekend. “JJ” took the lead after dressage and never looked back.

While maybe not being the best mover, Amber says that what JJ lacks in flash, he makes up for in accuracy. Her goal was to ride him relaxed and comfortable all weekend, and that seems to have worked perfectly. And his economical style helps him keep his rhythm, as Amber was one of the few riders to not incur time faults either.

In second, Lauren Billys and Marseille had a great confidence building run.

“Hugh did really great,” Lauren said. “The big thing here at Copper is that they are limited by space, but he did a really good job with what is here. Time will most likely be difficult to make, and the new course is adjusted in terms of where you are on course. There’s more galloping. It’s a course you need to kick on, rather than pull, and that’s perfect for where Oz and I are in our relationship.”

Indeed, the two added 6 time faults to an otherwise clear round. Considering this is the pairs second event, we feel safe in saying they have a bright future ahead!

Heather Morris and Team Express Group’s Charlie Tango certainly made it close, adding only 0.8 time to their final score, which meant that Lauren and Heather finished separated by only 0.2 penalty points.

Heather’s teammate and BFF, Tamie Smith, finished in sixth aboard the Company West Coast Dempsey Syndicate’s Dempsey. This was Dempsey’s move up, and he certainly stepped up to the challenge.

The jumping was clearly easy for him, and knowing Tamie, Dempsey’s dressage will only improve. Look for a strong fall season for this pair.

cic 2 star scores xc

Sarah Braun and Perfect Intentions Win Their First Advanced

Sarah Braun and her own Perfect Intentions. Photo by Ina McRoy.

Sarah Braun and her own Perfect Intentions. Photo by Ina McRoy.

It was a crazy day for the Advanced division, and two Advanced rookies were the ones to rise above.

Sarah Braun and her Young Rider partner, Perfect Intentions, didn’t have their best dressage test to start things out, but pressed on anyway. After their turn in the sandbox, Sarah said, “[Candy] was a bit tense in a few movements but was super everywhere else and worked through it!”

That seemed to be their motto for the weekend, as the Hawley Bennett-Awad coached and employed pair moved up the levels.

For those of us that know how hard Sarah worked to save Candy when she suffered a life-threatening colic, this win is especially sweet. They are quite the pair for determination and never giving up. Thanks for the inspiration this weekend, Sarah!

In second, Erin Murphy and Athlone Travel On contested their first Advanced together. This pair has also put together a great spring, including a couple good FEI finishes.

Spotting Erin on course or in warm up is easy, as she and the skewbald gelding are not just flashy, but fun. He had no trouble with the jumping efforts, just picking up time to finish behind Sarah.

Erin Murphy and Athlone Travel On. Photo by Tamara Didenko.

Erin Murphy and Athlone Travel On. Photo by Tamara Didenko.

Our leader after stadium, Barb Crabo and Over Easy, had a fall at 11 – the angled brushes. Both horse and rider are fine. This fence caused a shake up in the division, as second place Ashlynn Meuchel and Morning Star retired there, and Gina Economou and Calidore picked up a stop.

With such a small class it’s hard to tell how difficult the question was to read. With so many in this division contesting the Advanced level either for the first time, or the first time in a while, Hugh mentioned that his course would reward the forward, committed ride.

That wraps up the final FEI event of the season for Area VI, and many eyes will now be turning to Kalispbell, MT, and The Event at Rebecca Farms.

More news and notes from Copper Meadows to come! Thanks to Ride On Video for the great recaps of all three phases here:

Dressage:

Dressage & CIC1* Show Jumping Coverage Copper Meadows June 2015

Show Jumping:

CIC2* & CIC3* Show Jumping Coverage Copper Meadows June 2015

Cross Country:

Copper Meadows International Event June 2015 – CROSS COUNTRY COVERAGE

Barb Crabo and Amber Levine Continue to Dominate at Copper Meadows

Avery Klunick and It It to Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard. Avery Klunick and It It to Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Morning came early for the riders in the upper divisions at Copper Meadows. While the CIC1* completed both dressage and stadium yesterday, the remaining FEI and horse trials divisions shifted schedules to show jump early in the morning, and turn around to go out and tackle the Hugh Lochore cross country course.

Overnight leaders were tight in all divisions, and Jose Nava’s stadium course shook things up a bit.

Eveready is Ready to Seal the Deal in the CIC3*

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 in the CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kuhny.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 in the CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kuhny.

This small division got even smaller this morning when Jolie Wentworth withdrew Mojito to save his legs for another day.

Barb Crabo and Eveready have 20 penalties in hand after show jumping, but we doubt they will need it! After a double clear round, it’s clear Ready has forgotten any trouble at Rolex and focused on the task at hand.

Andrea Baxter and her Indy 500 moved into second with a double clear as well. Just to note, folks, this mare is technically for sale!

Winston and Avery Klunink had two unfortunate rails to drop them down to third. But don’t count them out, as the cross country course is untested and only 2.1 points separate second and third.

CIC 3 star scores SJ

Barb Crabo Continues to Lead the Advanced Division

Barb Crabo and Over Easy, making the triple bar look easy! Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Barb Crabo and Over Easy, making the triple bar look easy! Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Barb Crabo and Over Easy, predicted to win this weekend, remain in first despite a rail and some time. They hold a comfortable lead over Ashlynn Meuchel and  Morning Star, who also picked up one rail and some time, but anyone who knows Copper knows that time cross country is definitely a factor.

The only double clear round of the division went to Gina Enconomou and Calidore, the horse that doesn’t believe scope can be defined. (Seriously, have you seen him go?) This moved Gina and Leo from 6th to 3rd, and only one point behind Ashlynn.

Gina Economou and Calidore moon-lighting in the Grand Prix. That work paid off today! Photo by Melissa Arrendondo.

Gina Economou and Calidore moon-lighting in the Grand Prix. That work paid off today! Photo by Melissa Arrendondo.

Kevin Baumgardner withdrew Wembley, and time was difficult to make for this division, with all  competitors but Gina adding time.

This is where the double jumping format may have come into play, with the riders being a little conservative before tackling the brand new track. Four of the six pairs are contesting their first Advanced as well.

advanced scores sj

Amber Levine makes it look easy in the CIC2*

Amber Levine and Guinness St James'. Photo by Gina Pearson.

Amber Levine and Guinness St James’. Photo by Gina Pearson.

Our overnight leaders, Amber Levine and Guinness St. James’, made easy work of the course to remain in first. JJ, the small but mighty Irish Sport Horse, certainly didn’t let his size factor into his ability to leave the rails up.

Amber said yesterday that both of her horses are good jumpers, and we would have to agree. Her younger horse, Carry On, had two rails to move him into fifth, but look for Cory and Amber out on the cross country course.

The two horses are “almost 100% completely different, “just in size alone! Cory is about one full hand bigger than JJ, but they both ooze talent and are certainly ones to watch.

Lauren Billys reflected yesterday that she is starting to feel like Marseille, aka Oz, is finally starting to feel like ‘her” horse. Their double clean round puts them in definite striking distance for win, should Amber pick up any time on course.

Despite having one rail, it’s Heather Morris sitting in third with Charlie Tango. If you want a safe bet on Belmont day, go for the girls from Team NLE/Express! Chuck has already proven himself at this level cross country, so time may play a huge factor in deciding our winner today.

Katherine Cole also benefited from a clear round, moving from 7th to 4th this morning. Her own Don Juanito, and Argentinian gelding, moved back up to Intermediate this spring.

This pair has been incredibly successful in their last two outings, winning the competitive Open Intermediate division at Galway Downs in March, and placing second at Twin Rivers in an equally big division. (The winner there was Lauren Billys and her Pan Am bound Castle Larchfield Purdy.)

A special shout out to Elizabeth New, who also jumped double clear to move into sixth. Ellee inherited “Bean” from her sister after a winning season at NAJYRC’s last year. Read more about the New sisters and Bean here!

CIC 2 star scores stadium

 

See how the new arena played out for the riders with this recap thanks to Ride On Video!
 

Copper Meadows International Event June 2015 – SHOW JUMPING COVERAGE

 

Horses and Riders Come First At Copper Meadows

Welcome to Copper Meadows. Photo by Copper Meadows. Welcome to Copper Meadows. Photo by Copper Meadows.

Copper Meadows proved once again yesterday why it is a favorite of eventers of the West, despite the sometimes very long drive! Those coming from Northern California often drive approximately 10 hours to reach the event, but once there, they are treated like family.

When rider concerns arose yesterday around the show jumping footing, Taren Atkinson and her team got behind their riders and figured out a better alternative. In order to not mess the timing of all the divisions, the CIC2*, CIC3*, Advanced and Intermediate riders agreed to start their stadium rounds at 8 a.m., and keep their same cross-country time.

The stadium wam up at Copper Meadows.

The stadium wam up at Copper Meadows.

For the CIC3* riders, this means less than an hour in between stadium and cross country, where all the riders will be tackling a newly designed Hugh Lochore course.

Lauren Billys, a long time supporter of Copper Meadows, reflected on the fact that this new format will make things a little different for West Coast riders. “For us West Coasters, this is a little bit different of a test for us. But it should be fun. It requires a little more strategy, limiting the number of jumps in warm up, for example.”

Woodland Stallion Station in Woodland, CA, held the West Coast’s only one day recognized event earlier in May. On the West Coast, three days are typical, with even two days being rare. This is quite a difference from the East Coast! When Lauren was back east for a stretch, she said she watched Boyd Martin ride seven horses in a one day. That’s 21 different rides, not to mention remembering which test and which course go with each horse!

Our CIC2* leader, Amber Levine, echoed Lauren’s thoughts about the adjusted format. “It’s really just about logistics,” she said. “One of my horses has two different bridles, and (you have to) rush back to get the other horse — it’s really just the little things.”

A pair contesting their first Advanced, Sarah Braun and Perfect Intentions, also have positive things to say about the change. “It should be fun! I have never done the double jumping format from stadium to cross country, so I’m not sure what to expect, but it’ll be a good warm up going into cross country.”

This is Hugh Lochore’s first time designing in California, and the course is completely different than ever before. Amber, who came down with Chocolate Horse Farm earlier this year, is excited that she has an entirely different CIC2* course to run! “It seems to have a good flow to it but with spots for a good gallop.”

Competitors familiar with the old course knew it as a twisty, turning course with undulating terrain and Hugh has tried to level it a bit to get some gallop stretches in. You can catch Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Hugh previewing the new CIC 3* track here.

While no new complexes have been built, things have been  definitely moved around, and there are some new jumps. From the familiar keyhole now residing on an unfamiliar island, to starting and finishing at different places, the course has everyone excited. As Hugh himself said, “The course has changed so much with just the route change!” The consensus among riders is overwhelmingly positive, with quite a few looking at this as their final prep for Rebecca Farms in July.

Sunset on XC at Copper Meadows. What eventer doesn't love this view?? Photo by Copper Meadows.

Sunset on XC at Copper Meadows. What eventer doesn’t love this view?? Photo by Copper Meadows.

All of which is to say that coming to Copper Meadows is more than just coming to an event. The venue is small, but gorgeous. Horses and riders both have advocates in the event organizers and volunteers. Perhaps Lauren Billys said it best: “The one thing I love most about Coppper is that they always take the riders into consideration. When you go there, you feel like you are welcomed into their home.”

“I think there’s a piece of Taren and her family’s heart in every event. It’s more than consideration, accomodation, more than respect. You become part of a family. Kudos to Taren Atkinson and her fabulous team.”

The venue released a statement sharing the love right back. “Copper Meadows strives to be the best that we can be, and when things don’t go perfectly as planned it is wonderful to have the support of our talented, encouraging Area VI riders!”

Go Copper Meadows, go eventing, and go #copperstrong .

Barb Crabo, Amber Levine Lead FEI Divisions After Dressage at Copper Meadows

Barb Crabo and Eveready at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry. Barb Crabo and Eveready at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Welcome back to Ramona, California, where Area VI is wrapping up their spring FEI season at Copper Meadows. It’s Friday out west, which means it’s a beautiful day for dressage! The atmosphere at Copper is warm and very eventing family friendly, which is a great combination for young horses, seasoned veterans, move ups, confidence builders and just plain fun. Copper is running everything from the CIC 3* to Intro this weekend, which means there’s something for everyone! But now, on to the dressage.

 Barb Crabo and Eveready Lead CIC3*

Barb Crabo and Eveready were predicted to win this weekend by our numbers expert, Maggie Deatrick, and once again she is proving the numbers matter! With a lovely test breaking the 50 mark with a score of 47.7, Barb and Ready have room to make mistakes and still take home the win. That isn’t in their game plan though, and you can expect them to finish strong.

A big welcome back to the West Coast to Avery Klunick! She’s been competing out east, coming in second at Chattahoochee Hills last month in their CI 3* and winning the Open Intermediate division at Texas Rose. This 15-year-old gelding has been out only three times this spring but has placed in the top 10 each time. Avery and Winston are certainly making the most of their Rebecca Farm prep with a strong outing on the flat, scoring 54.8 to sit in second.

Andrea Baxter and her mare, Indy 500, are always strong competitors in the three-star divisions out west, and today proved nothing else. Remember that this mare loves to jump, and we might see them end on their dressage score of 60.7, which currently has them in third place. They are certainly capable of moving up the leaderboard.

Jolie Wenworth is riding Maddy Mazzola’s Mojito this weekend. Mojito can be a tough horse in the sandbox and has had trouble coping with the atmosphere at shows this year. Unfortunately, it looks as if Mojito had difficulty settling today as well.

CIC 3 star scores dressage

Heather Morris and Team Express's Charlie Tango. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Heather Morris and Team Express’s Charlie Tango. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Amber Levine and Guiness St. James Lead CIC2*

Amber Levine had a great day in the CIC2* sandbox with two excellent rides. Amber is currently sitting in first on 48.6 with Valorie Mackey and her own Guiness St. James. The 10-year-old bay Irish Sport Horse is contesting his first two-star and doesn’t seem to be bothered by the change in difficulty — at least in dressage! They were the only pair to break the 50 threshold in the division.

Jolie Wentworth and Kate Miller’s Gordon Biersch stepped up to their second attempt at the two-star level in fine style, bettering their best dressage score by 1.9 points to score 50.0. The charming chestnut Thoroughbred has had a spotty record this spring, but at 10 years old, he’s primed to step out and make a statement.

In third on a score of 52.2 are Lauren Billys and Marseille, the lovely 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood Lauren recently acquired. Lauren competed at Woodside in May to win the Open Preliminary division, and it looks like this will be an exciting pair to watch in the future.

Amber Levine and her own Carry On sit fourth on 53.0 in the tight top rankings. The bay Dutch Warmblood is only 8 and is improving with every outing. Amber has produced this horse from the Novice level, starting their partnership together in 2012.

Rounding out our top five are Heather Morris and Charlie Tango on a score of 53.6. We’ve gotten used to seeing these two at the top of the standings, and Chuck’s careful jumping is sure to put pressure on the pairs sitting ahead. The 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding and Heather won their most recent outing at the CIC2* at Twin Rivers in April.

CIC 2 star scores dressage

Gina Economou and Calidore. Photo by McCool Photography.

Gina Economou and Calidore. Photo by McCool Photography.

Advanced 

Barb Crabo and her own Over Easy have been working their way back up the levels after some difficulty in 2013, but Maggie has predicted them to win. Sure enough, the Swedish Warmblood mare performed beautifully today and is leading the division on 33.8.

Ashlynn Meuchel, a member of Area VI’s 2013 Young Rider team, and Sarah Broussard’s Morning Star scored 39.3 to sit in second. Last fall the pair won Advanced at Woodside in October and recently came in sixth at Twin River’s April CCI2*— definitely a pair to watch for the future.

Erin Murphy and Athlone Travel On stepped up to the two-star level this spring and have done quite well for themselves. The skewbald gelding came from Great Britain, where Julie Tew rode him in his first FEI competition. They are a fun pair to watch — it’s always nice to see a little color at the higher levels! They’re sitting in third on 40.9.

Washington-based Kevin Baumgardner and Wembley are another pair we’d like to welcome back to the West Coast! After successfully completing the CIC2* at The Fork and the CCI2*, Jersey Fresh — where they came in 20th out of 40 — the pair have returned to Copper Meadows for their first go at Advanced, scoring 41.5 for fourth place.

Sarah Braun, 2014 USEA Groom of the Year, and her own Perfect Intentions are also contesting their first Advanced this weekend. Sarah almost lost “Candy” last year due to colic, but they’re back in the game this year thanks to a huge rallying of the West Coast eventing community, the doctors at San Luis Rey, Sarah’s indomitable spirit and Candy’s own refusual to give up. This mare has a fiery spirit and loves to jump, so it’s nice to see them perform so well in the dressage, scoring 43.7 for fifth place. I’m sure Candy’s eye was on the cross country course the entire time!

Gina Economou and Calidore, also known as Leo — a big bay gelding with a personality to match — recently won the Open Intermediate at Galway Downs. While their dressage wasn’t their best today, this horse has the scope to jump Mars, and they are well positioned to move up the leaderboard.

With a new course designer for the West Coast in Hugh Lachore, it’s possible there will be some major shake ups as we look ahead to cross country. Stay tuned for much more from Copper Meadows! Go #copperstrong.

Update! Update!: In wonderful fashion, after some concerns from the riders were voiced, Copper’s fantastic event organizers took their concerns into consideration. Currently, riders and volunteers and event staff alike are moving the show jumping ring. Subsequently, the timing of the CIC 2*, 3* and Advanced divisions will be starting stadium at 7 am Pacific, and will complete XC that afternoon.

It’s a classy act at Copper Meadows, folks – competitors, organizers, volunteers, spectators and vendors. Go eventing, go teamwork, and Go #copperstrong!

Copper Meadows Links: WebsiteEntry Status/Ride Times, Live Scores

Advanced scores dressade

Area VI Names CH-J* Young Rider Team

Area VI Young Rider Prelimary course walk at Woodside. Photo courtesy of Area VI Young Riders. Area VI Young Rider Prelimary course walk at Woodside. Photo courtesy of Area VI Young Riders.

Summer must be coming, because Young Rider teams are starting to be named! Despite not being formally named until June 1, Area VI’s Young Riders kept a lid on the news that they found out Saturday, and we’re excited to introduce them to you here. This team is full of up and coming stars who have achieved quite a lot at a young age. Coached by Brian Sabo, the team is ready to make a splash, work hard and have some fun. The whole team was happy to answer a few very important questions for EN in between finishing school and attending graduations. Without further ado, let’s meet the team.

Madelyn Holtzman and Footlight's Ollie at Woodside. Photograph courtsey Madelyn Holtzman.

Madelyn Holtzman and Footlight’s Ollie at Woodside. Photo by Gina Frenceschi Pearson.

Madelyn Holtzman is 18 years old and is thrilled to have made the team in her last year of qualification for the one-star. Coached by Robyn Fisher and riding the bay gelding Footlight’s Ollie, Madi qualified last year at the final CCI* at Galway Downs. She first started riding Ollie in 2012 and has ridden him from Novice to the one-star level. First thing she plans to do after arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park: “Give Ollie a good graze! Grazing is definitely his favorite pastime (other than laying in the sun).” Favorite food: “Definitely sushi!”

Madison Temkin and Kingslee. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Madison Temkin and Kingslee. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Madison Temkin is 14 years old and has already twice been named to the USEF Eventing 18 program. She qualified for Young Riders last year at Galway Downs on Kingslee, who she has been riding since June 2014. The pair has been making a name for themselves on the West Coast (and here on EN!), finishing 12th in the large CCI* division at Galway last fall, 2th at the March Galway CIC*, and most recently eighth in the highly competitive Preliminary Rider Challenge at Woodside. How she found out: “Madi Holtzman texted me while I was standing in my classroom getting ready to graduate eighth grade and said, ‘Did you get the e-mail?’ My heart dropped, and I went running and found my mom and checked her email, and there it was! I was and still am thrilled!” Favorite food: “Sushi is definitely number one. Sour apple rings are close behind, though!”

Amber Pearson and Patagona. Photography courtesy Amber Pearson.

Amber Pearson and Patagona. Photo by Gina Franceschi Pearson.

Amber Pearson is 18 years old and rides with Andrea Pfefifer at Chocolate Horse Farm. She and her partner, Patagonia, qualified in March at Twin Rivers Ranch. Amber and Padi, a gorgeous bay Thoroughbred, have been together for about a year and a half. How she found out: “I received an email from Kim Littlehale, our area coordinator, and I was so excited! I immediately called my mom and shared the news with Andrea as well!” Amber is graduating from high school on Thursday, so we especially appreciate her taking the time to answer a few questions!

Megan Tranhym and Lord Lombardi at completing their CCI*. Photograph courtesy Megan Tranhym.

Megan Traynham and Lord Lombardi at completing their CCI*. Photo courtesy Christine Traynham.

Megan Traynham ia 14 years old and will be celebrating her 15th birthday in July. I’m sure we can all guess what she wants for her birthday this year! She rides Lord Lombardi, otherwise known as “Vinny,” who competed through the one-star level with Kristi Nunnink before Megan got him in September 2014. The pair went to work, completing four Training level events before moving up to Preliminary in 2015. They qualified for Young Riders at Greenwood Farm Horse Trials in Texas. First thing she did after finding out: “I asked who else was on my team and went to ride my horse!” Favorite food: Nutella – “At least two jars will be making the trip to Kentucky with us!”

Sami Clark and her own Next Dance. Photograph courtesy of Sami Clark.

Sami Clark and her own Next Dance. Photo courtesy of Captured Moment Photography.

Sami Clark is 16 years old and just thrilled to have qualified on her heart horse, a Selle Francais mare named Next Dance. Known in the barn as Ali, she was the first horse Sami tried. Ali came from Washington State two years ago and together they completed their first Training, their first Prelim and now their first one-star. Sami and Ali qualified at Greenwood Farm Horse Trials in Texas. First thing she did upon hearing the news: “I screamed! My mom ran into my room because she thought something was wrong!” Favorite food: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Young riders who made their area teams will be working hard to fundraise for their trip to the Kentucky Horse Park this summer. Be sure to look for ways to support your area riders, and congratulations to all those who have made their team! You can follow along with more Area VI Young Riders news on the group’s Facebook page.

Long Format Alive and Well in USEA Classic Series

Beautiful Rebecca Farm! Photo by Jessica Kerschbaumer. Beautiful Rebecca Farm! Photo by Jessica Kerschbaumer.

The largest event in the United States, the Event at Rebecca Farm, opened entries in the classic format divisions last week. Riders have been busy collecting qualifying scores in anticipation of entering, the first step in completing their Novice or Training Three-Day Event. The Event at Rebecca Farm is a destination event for hundreds of eventers across all different levels, but right now it’s all about those who have been aiming for the long format.

Devoted venues keep the long format alive in the U.S. with support from the USEA in the Classic Series. For nine weeks each year, long format eventing returns to the U.S. But simply competing at a certain level will not get you into a three-day, and there are special guidelines for qualification.

Qualification for the Preliminary Three-Day and Training Three-Day requires NQRs (a qualifying result with a dressage score under 50, no jumping penalties on cross country and no more than four rails in stadium) while the Novice Three-Day and Beginner Novice Three-Day requires numerical final scores.

Preliminary Three-Day Event (P3D): Both the competitor and the horse must have obtained an NQR at three horse trials at the Preliminary level or higher, plus an additional NQR at the Preliminary level or higher with no more than 20 jumping penalties on cross country.

Training Three-Day Event (T3D): Both the competitor and the horse must have obtained NQRs at four horse trials at the Training Level or higher, one of which must be attained as a combination. A competitor established at the Preliminary level may compete on a horse which has obtained two NQRs at the Training level or higher.

Novice Three-Day Event (N3D): The rider must complete with a numerical final score at four Novice horse trials or higher.

Beginner Novice Three-Day Event (BN3D): The rider must complete with a numerical final score at four Beginner Novice Horse Trials or higher.

At the classic three-day, Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Preliminary riders alike perform two jogs for the ground jury, the same as at an FEI event. Pairs then perform their dressage test on the first day and get some rest before the big day.

Cross country day isn’t just about cross country at a classic three-day. Nope! You get to channel your inner Denny Emerson as you take on roads, steeplechase, tracks and END with your standard cross country run. Then it’s time for ice and ice and more ice, wraps and long walks in anticipation of passing jogs before stadium the next day.

The classic format divisions are always popular at Rebecca, and riding in one is a season goal for many riders on the West Coast and surrounding states. Here are some fast facts about other classic format three-days in the U.S. Did you know?

  • Hagyard Midsouth in October runs the only Preliminary three-day in the country. Heart of the Carolinas in late April runs the only Beginner Novice three-day.
  • The fall event at Galway Downs in Temecula runs only the Training three-day in late October, but the class is so popular it was split into two divisions last year.
  • The Training three-day is the most popular nationwide, with Areas 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 offering at least one division per year.
  • Most three-days run in the fall, following the idea that ending your season on a CCI is a goal for many eventers.

This format also serves as a stepping stone and vital learning tool for riders who might not want to participate in FEI level competition, but still want to challenge themselves and their horses. Many riders are now starting to use the Training three-day format to prepare to step up to Preliminary.

Here’s a look at the 2015 USEA Classics Series Calendar:

Preliminary Three-Day Events
Hagyard Midsouth, Oct. 22-25, 2015, Lexington, Kentucky (Area 8)

Training Three-Day Events
Heart of the Carolinas, April 29-May 3, 2015, Chesterfield, South Carolina (Area 3)
Indiana Eventing Association (IEA), May 28-31, 2015, Edinburgh, Indiana (Area 8)
Coconino, July 16-19, 2015, Flagstaff, Arizona (Area 10)
Event at Rebecca Farm, July 22-26, 2015, Kalispell, Montana (Area 7)
Colorado Horse Park, Aug. 14-16, 2015, Parker, Colorado (Area 9)
Hagyard Midsouth, Oct. 22-24, 2015, Lexington, Kentucky (Area 8)
Waredaca, Oct. 22-25, 2015, Laytonsville, Maryland (Area 2)
Galway Downs, Oct. 29-Nov 1, 2015, Temecula, California (Area 6)
MeadowCreek Park, Nov. 20-22, 2015, Kosse, Texas (Area 5)

Novice Three-Day Events
Heart of the Carolinas, April 29-May 3, 2015, Chesterfield, South Carolina (Area 3)
Indiana Eventing Association (IEA), May 28-31, 2015, Edinburgh, Indiana (Area 8)
Coconino, July 16-19, 2015, Flagstaff, Arizona (Area 10)
Event at Rebecca Farm, July 22-26, 2015, Kalispell, Montana (Area 7)
Colorado Horse Park, Aug. 14-16, 2015, Parker, Colorado (Area 9)
Waredaca, Oct. 22-25, 2015, Laytonsville, Maryland (Area 2)
MeadowCreek Park, Nov. 20-22, 2015 | Kosse, Texas (Area 5)

Beginner Novice Three-Day Events
Heart of the Carolinas, April 29-May 3, 2015, Chesterfield, South Carolina (area 3)

So start clearing the calendar, stepping up your fitness game and getting your qualifications in. The long format is here for those that want it! Have you already completed a Classic Series event this season? Are you aiming for one as your goal for the rest of the year? Let us know in the comments below.

Go Long Format. Go Classic Series. Go Eventing!

Killian O’Connor Retired at Woodside

All of Killian O'Connor's supporters. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart. All of Killian O'Connor's supporters. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

It was the perfect California evening to say farewell to a long time eventing partner. The sky was clear, the air that late spring almost summer northern California mix of warmth and coastal air, and a couple hundred people were gathered to celebrate our sport. What more could you ask for a retirement ceremony?

Tracy Bowman and Jolie Wentworth’s seventeen year old Irish Sport Horse Killian O’Connor cantered around the Grand Prix arena at the Horse Park at Woodside Saturday, a place that where many West Coast eventers first met the large, gorgeous grey gelding.

Connor was imported as a 3-year-old by Tracy, Leslie Law, and Niki Caine in 2001. The team was at an event at Oakridge, so “Connor” met them at the event because there was no one at the farm to receive him from quarantine. “I didn’t even know he was coming,” Jolie said.

In a letter Jolie wrote for the ceremony, she remarked that it must have been fate – or “kismet” – that caused the two to end up partners, as she had been joking for the previous months that she thought she’d like a gray for her next horse.

Connor and Jolie take in the moment. Photo courtesy Sherry Stewart.

Connor and Jolie take in the moment. Photo courtesy Sherry Stewart.

While Jolie didn’t know that Connor was coming, Tracy did. And Tracy put Jolie and Connor together, supporting them all the way from Novice to reach the top levels of American eventing. The pair contested their first Rolex in 2009. “He once again proved he was reliable in dressage, and we were placed in 11th after the first two days. On cross country we came out of the box not knowing what to expect, but I can honestly say it was the ride of my life. I owe all of our success at Rolex to Connor,” Jolie says.

After an injury that required some time off, Tracy, Jolie and Connor packed their bags for Rolex again in 2012, where they would ultimately withdraw after cross country. Connor showed his class in the sand box again, scoring 58.3. Only 27 pairs completed that year.

Tracy, Jolie and Connor were an important part of West Coast eventing inspiring young riders everywhere. They were recognizable from a distance, and everyone loved a Connor spotting. Young rider Maddy Mazzola got to experience the joy of riding the experienced horse as she learned how to navigate the upper levels of the sport and gain confidence in her riding.

“As everyone who says who has ridden him, it was like riding on a cloud,” Maddy said of her first time aboard Connor eight years ago. “He has a certain passion and happiness for working and competing, which has transferred into me, making my love for him and this sport that much stronger.”

This love for work was clear as Jolie went around the ring, her classic blue standing out against his almost white coat. Connor looked like he was ready to contest the show jumping in the Prelim Challenge, standing like the experienced champion he is, while being draped with his Kismet cooler and a wreath of flowers, in his colors of blue and yellow. As Jolie lead him from the arena to loud applause, Connor showed off his best jog. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

While now officially retired from competition, his working life is far from over. Connor is teaching a new generation of Kismet riders what it feels like to sit on a cloud and learn to fly.

Killian O'Connor and Jolie Wentworth. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Killian O’Connor and Jolie Wentworth. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

We wish Connor the best of retirements, enjoying plenty of attention and turnout. According to a small bit on Jolie’s website, someone noticed his ears pricked while running cross-country at Rolex, doing the math on how many carrots he would have if every spectator just gave him one. We suspect he’s not forgotten the debt of carrots owed to him.

Happy retirement, Connor!