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#EventerProblems: Part XI

Unlike week-old leftover Chinese takeout and the Jurassic Park franchise, some things get better the second time around. And the third time. And the fourth time. And especially — as illustrated here — the 11th time.

Here are 20 more #EventerProblems only people as demented as you guys will understand.

If you missed them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X.

Dressage, gallop and acupuncture day for #TheJ (#spoiled)

A photo posted by Victoria Law (@dvmeventer) on

When youre 5’4 and you’re tacking up an 18h horse… #eventerproblems #teamtackshoppe

A photo posted by Skye (@skylardana) on

Sick joke Iron League #eventerproblems #meetironleague #mostfamoushorseinmaryland #blending #slightlyimpressed

A photo posted by Courtney Sendak (@dgeventing) on

Finding the shade #summergoals #eventerproblems

A photo posted by Sarah Vogler (@sevogler) on

Working hard or hardly working? #eventerproblems #eventinglive #chatthills #coaching #hammock #camping

A photo posted by Redbud Farm Equestrian (@redbudequestrian) on

Because it’s show day… I think this filter really brings out the mud #itstooearly #horseproblems #eventerproblems #kpwn #ontheforestboarding

A photo posted by On the Forest Boarding Ltd (@ontheforesthorses) on

What’s YOUR problem? Tweet it, Instagram it or share it on Facebook with the hashtag #EventerProblems for inclusion in the next edition of this series.

Go Eventing!

#EventerProblems: Part X

We’re now 200 #EventerProblems in and you guys are showing now signs of stopping.

Why? Because horses, that’s why.

If you missed them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX.

When you have to work on the weekend and there are horse shows going on. #EventerProblems #EN

A photo posted by Amy Raczkowski (@alracz) on

no bandaid + need to ride = vetwrap! #horsegirlproblems #eventerproblems A photo posted by Kate Drake (@katedrakevt) on

#eventerproblems #everybodylovesbacon

Posted by Megan Woods on Saturday, June 20, 2015

 

What’s YOUR problem? Tweet it, Instagram it or share it on Facebook with the hashtag #EventerProblems for inclusion in the next edition of this series.

Go Eventing!

#EventerProblems: IX

This is the hashtag that never ends / Yes it goes on and on my friend / Some eventers started griping on social media / and they’ll continue complaining forever just because / this is the hashtag that never ends…

Here are 20 more reader-submitted troubles that only eventers will understand.

If you missed them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII.

What’s missing in this photo? One of Pi’s brand new shoes that he just got on MONDAY…. A photo posted by Kate Drake (@katedrakevt) on

 

That moment your pinny come undone and flaps around like a cape. #supereventer #eventerproblems #eventing A photo posted by Jorie Lee Sage (@jorieleesage) on


Apparently I ride too much @prochaps_equestrian #timefornewones #eventerproblems #whyaretheysoexpensive A photo posted by Buxton Equestrian (@buxtonequestrian) on

What’s YOUR problem? Tweet it, Instagram it or share it on Facebook with the hashtag #EventerProblems for inclusion in the next edition of this series.

Go Eventing!

Ingrid Klimke Wins Christmas Wreath, Random Broom for Luhmühlen Victory

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie. Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

More on the glorious spectacle that is a German awards ceremony later. First, a rundown of the events leading up to Ingrid and FRH Escada JS‘s CCI4* triumph.

It took a hot minute for anyone to manage a double-clear trip around Captain Mark Phillips‘ testing show jumping course. At long last, Great Britain’s Nicky Roncoroni and her dreamy dapple-grey Stonedge broke the seal.

Nicky Rorcoroni and Stonedge (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Nicky Rorcoroni and Stonedge (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The double-clears began trickling in after that, beginning with Germany’s Dirk Schrade with Hop and Skip, who jumped from 13th to 8th, and culminating with six of the last seven pairs to go.

Canada’s Rebecca Howard had an unlucky rail but there was just enough scoreboard shuffling that she was able to hang on to her foothold in the top 10. Rupert looked keen and ready to jump some jumps; he had the expression of a kid tearing opening birthday presents throughout his round. Watching him you’d never know he jumped clear and fast around a 4* course the day before.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

America’s lonely torchbearers, Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen, enjoyed a brilliant finish to their brilliant comeback weekend. Glen jumped his heart out today, moving from 7th to 6th thanks to a double-clear round.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark told me Friday that he’d probably sat in a dressage saddle maybe, maybe, a dozen times since Boekelo last October, focusing instead on Glen’s jumping and fitness programs. Their hard work paid off this weekend, certainly, but can you imagine the result if this pair had actually put in some time on the flat?

Imagine this photo, flipped. (Clark, I’m sorry Glen’s naptime ears ruin all your pictures. At least he’s got a buddy in this one.)

Mark Todd, 5th, and Clark Montgomery. 6th, during the awards ceremony. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mark Todd, 5th, and Clark Montgomery, 6th, during the awards ceremony. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The remainder of the leaderboard stayed intact. It was beautiful round after beautiful round from Mark Todd, Christopher Burton, Michael Jung, Jonelle Price and, last but not least, Ingrid Klimke.

It was hard not to root for 3rd placed Michael and Sam, whose seem to float through life in a bubble of hearts. And 2nd placed Jonelle’s light-as-a-feather Faerie Dianimo is a treat to watch.

But if Ingrid won, I knew what was going to happen. And I wanted to witness it.

Germany was going to lose its mind completely.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Wham, bam, thank-you-ma’am and what happened next was everything I dreamed it would be. Having experienced The Ingrid Effect yesterday on cross-country, I had the foresight to turn my iPhone video on as she was heading toward the final jump.

It starts with dead silence — OK, so you can hear a bird chirping somewhere and the girl beside me was quietly clucking — but as soon as Escada has all four hooves back on solid ground….

German eventing, man. It’s for real.

Making Ingrid’s win, on her dressage score of 32.7, even more special was her connection to the place. Her father Dr. Reiner Klimke won Luhmühlen 56 years ago, and her mare was also bred here in Luhmühlen by Jürgen Stuhtmann.

“It was meant to be” Ingrid said. “Escada was fantastic in every sense of the word and I am totally over the moon. Without her and my team I wouldn’t be here. With the show jumping we ended an amazing weekend. She was extraordinary — she never touched a pole.”

Jonelle and Michael were also thrilled with their horses’ performances.

Jonelle said that she was a bit nervous going in the ring.

“My horse is a very careful jumper and will always try her hardest, so any mistake would have been down to me,” she explained. “The time was very tight and having to ride against the clock is not really my thing, so I did feel the pressure today. Therefore I am even more pleased that we stayed clear within the optimum time. All the top riders were extraordinary this weekend and I am extremely proud to be one of them.”

Of his tremendous partner Sam, Michael said, “I am completely happy with Sam’s performance this weekend and we couldn’t do more in the end. The ladies fully deserved to come first and second.”

When Ingrid trotted back into the ring to accept their honor, the real party began. Exhibit A: the awards ceremony.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Is this thing edible?

They just kept bringing out prizes.

brooms

Random brooms.

painting

Some artwork.

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Tiny trophies and cellophane-wrapped fruit baskets.

boot

A single boot.

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And then, out of nowhere, bagpipes. Because of course.

Maybe if I knew more German (or any German, really) I would have had a better grasp of what was going on. But I actually kind of enjoyed being in the dark, the only journalist doubled over with the suspense of not knowing what was going to happen next.

Adorable New Zealand photographer Libby Law later told me that if I thought German award customs were weird, I ought to see the French. Apparently they’re really into giving away kitchen appliances: microwaves, toaster ovens, the like. It makes that dinky watch at Rolex seem pretty boring.

And broadcast commentator John Kyle pointed out that America basically grinds to a halt if a horse wins three races. You’ve got a point, John.

Go Germany. Go Ingrid. Go check out EN’s Great Meadow cross-country live thread.

And, most importantly… Go Eventing.

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Ingrid Klimke’s Sparkle Winky-Face Shirt and Other Notes from the Luhmühlen Jog

Overnight leader Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER) kick Sunday off with a wink and a smile. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Overnight leader Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER) kick Sunday off with a wink and a smile. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Twenty-five of 25 horses passed the Sunday morning inspection here in Germany, many of them looking quite spry after yesterday’s taxing effort.

It never ceases to amaze me how these elite equine athletes can be so poised in the dressage ring, one-track-minded on cross-country and unflappable amidst the sound and color of show jumping, yet the task of jogging politely down a strip of asphalt seems emotionally too much to bear.

Coral Keen and Wellshead Fare Opposition (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Coral Keen and Wellshead Fare Opposition (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The North American contingent, at least, kept it together. Ever the consummate professional, Clark Montgomery’s Loughan Glen looked loose, limber and feeling the chill vibes after his clear run yesterday. If you’d just prick your ears for a moment, Glen, I could get a decent photo of you! For such a handsome horse, you’re never going to make it as a supermodel.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Take a hint from Rupert.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Stunning.

Michael Jung jogged in jeans on Wednesday but was in his Sunday best today. Now there’s a guy who cleans up well. And as long as I’ve got my suit and tie / Imma leave it all on the floor tonight…

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Nice suspension, too, although not quite as impressive as Ludwig Svennerstal.

Tim Lips and Bayro (NED). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Ludwig Svennerstal (SWE). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Julien Despontin was bringing sexy back in his sweet shades.

Julien Despontin and Waldano 36 (BEL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Julien Despontin and Waldano 36 (BEL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

No sunglasses for Toddy, who seemed to have a little twinkle in his eye this morning.

Mark Todd and NZB Campino (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mark Todd and NZB Campino (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The best of the rest:

Go get ‘em, guys. Show jumping starts at 11:15 a.m. CEST, a bright-and-early 5:15 a.m. for those of you on ET. Sally, a true Eventing Nation hero who definitely deserves a raise, will be live blogging from the FEI live stream while I’m doing the business ringside.

What’s about to go down out there? No telling. There’s very little room to breath between the top scores, with just a 10th of a point separating first placed Ingrid Klimke and second placed Jonelle Price. The leaderboard heading into show jumping.

xcscores

Yesterday Ingrid sounded confident that the momentum from her stellar cross-country round would carry over into show jumping today: “Escada is a good jumper and she has been great in training. My trainer Kurt Gravemeier promised he would come down here for the show jumping providing I was in the top three. I told him to fill up his car!”

Perhaps she was trying to tell us something with that winky face.

Stay tuned. Go Eventing!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

 

Sights and Sounds From Luhmühlen Cross Country

One thing I’ve learned over my past four days in Germany is that you just never know what’s going to happen next.

Some things are predictable.

This kid stuffing his face with a pretzel.

This kid stuffing his face with a giant pretzel.

Schnauzers.

Schnauzers.

xcfalconguy

Rip Van Winkle and his pet falcon.

OK, so the random falconry exhibition immediately following cross-country was a bit of a surprise. I snapped a few photos and shuffled back into the media tent, ready to chug espresso and do some writing while the weirdness died out.

A few minutes later: the “Chariots of Fire” theme song and the roar of the crowd. That falcon must be really putting on a show!

I wandered back out in time to see Andreas Dibowski thundering around the ring on a proud-looking RH Butts Leon. At 18 years old, the horse’s prolific career has taken him around the world and back, literally. His accomplishments include two clear cross-country rounds at the Olympics, two World Equestrian Games, 2nd place finishes at Badminton and Pau, and a win and a 2nd right here in the 2009 and 2011 Luhmühlen CCI4*s.

Andreas took his partner over a few final jumps in the ring and they looked as keen as ever. The crowd clapped in time with the music and waved white handkerchiefs as they galloped past. It was a deserving tribute and touching farewell to one of Team Germany’s most accomplished equine athletes.

Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Leon. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Leon (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Luhmühlen sure knows how to put on a show, and it’s no surprise that this event is a destination for equestrian enthusiasts from all of Europe and beyond.

The 62-horse competition itself is, of course, Luhmühlen’s centerpiece. But the organizers seem to understand that it’s in everyone’s best interest to build out the schedule in a way that capitalizes on the excitement of the event. In addition to falconry and grandiose retirement ceremonies, there are breed inspections, pony brigades, bagpipes and karaoke at night for anyone who dares.

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Luhmühlen is at once spectacular and user-friendly, not so crowded that you have to fight for a glimpse of the water complex but large enough to do justice to the big deal that this CCI4* actually is. The course is a work of art and the quality of horses here is astonishing.

The dog-watching is pretty exciting, too.

Mop dog, the first. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mop dog, the first. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mop dog, the first. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mop dog, the second. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Also, a shout-out to the cutest outriders in the land…

Cutest outriders ever! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Squee! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

…and to parents who pull their kids around in wagons.

xckid

Double squee! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

It’s been an exciting day and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the weekend shakes out. The CCI4* inspection begins at 9 a.m. CEST (3 a.m. ET), with show jumping from 11:15 to 12:30 CEST (5:15 to 6:30 a.m.). Until then, gute nacht!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Watch Chinchwürst Smash Face-first into Every Luhmühlen Cross Country Fence

You’ve seen the jumps.

You’ve watched the drone flyover.

You’ve read all about the world’s best riders making short work of it.

But never, not until this very moment, have you seen the Luhmühlen cross-country course like THIS.

A couple weekends ago at Bromont, in lieu of our usual course walk, we sent Le Chinch on a mission to tackle the entire CCI3* course himself. Being only eight inches tall, it seemed an impossible feat.

We attempted to bolster his confidence by quoting passages from the great motivational speaker R. Kelly: “We believe you can fly! We believe you can touch the sky!”

And fly/touch the sky is what he did, reaching heights never before imagined for a tiny, not-that-aerodynamic stuffed animal. You can view the complete photo gallery here.

IMG_16901

Le Chinch’s CCI3* debut was a big hit with readers, especially readers with a demented sense of humor and too much time on their hands. So when we recruited Chinchwürst, Chinch’s alcoholic German uncle, to sub in as our furry foreign correspondent at Luhmühlen, part of the deal was that he had to reenact Le Chinch’s feat.

CCI3*, CCI4,* drunk, sober… I mean, it’s really not that big a difference, right?

Wrong.

IMG_2122[1]

We apologize in advance.

OK, we lied. He didn’t smash into EVERY jump — just about 50% of the course. We felt morally obligated to cut him off after about his 10th concussion.

Go Chinchwürst. Go Eventing.

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Sun Shines Down on Luhmühlen Cross Country: Ingrid Leads, North Americans in Top 10

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Luhmühlen desperately needed today to be a good one — and we got our wish.

After three days of spitty rain and frigid wind, we awoke early to a day that, literally and metaphorically, just got brighter as it went on. This morning’s CCI4* cross country competition was both safe and good sport, and it went a long way toward pushing back the dark clouds that have been hovering over the event for the past couple years.

Eventing in Germany is no joke. I sat in traffic on the way to the show grounds longer than I did for a 90,000-person music festival last weekend. National pride runs deep and at today’s competition Ingrid Klimke was the headliner.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS. Photo by Thomas Ix.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Thomas Ix.

Dressage leader Julien Despontin picked up 22.4 time penalties early on in the day. He later explained, “My horse lost a shoe between jumps 13 and 14 which caused us to slip a little round the corners and slowed us down a bit. Waldano was brilliant nevertheless and I truly enjoyed the round.”

Julien’s time penalties left the door wide open for Ingrid to take the lead and that she did, much to the delight of her countrymen. You could tell where she was on course just by the sound of roars rising up from crowd and the performance she laid down was admittedly pretty rock-star. Ingrid has a presence in the saddle that is matched only by her stunningly talented mare, FRH Escada JS, who made short work of Captain Mark Phillips‘ CCI4* course.

“I am so happy, she was super fit and gave me a wonderful round,” Ingrid said. “The course rode brilliantly, the ground was perfectly prepared and the audience was really supportive. However, the course was technically challenging, especially the different water complexes and the Ariat combination toward the end asked for heightened concentration.

“Escada was unbelievable though: motivated and amazing to ride. She has a big jump in her and is very clever. She can solve even difficult questions almost effortlessly.”

We noticed that Ingrid was sporting a helmet cam so hopefully we’ll all be able to take a vicarious spin on Escada soon!

A clear, fast round from New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo earned them on step up the scoreboard into 2nd place.

“Today she rode like a proper four-star horse!” Jonelle said. “She was amazing, she flew round the course, she is truly exceptional. I have never had a horse like her before, she can do amazing things in all three disciplines. At home she is a little diva and her stable name is Princess, but it was worth putting in all the hard work to get her on my side.

“When I rode her in Pau she was still a little green, but she has grown a lot and her performance here has been tremendous. I really can’t ask for more. If I do my job well tomorrow, then anything is possible.”

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung had the 3rd and 4th spots claimed with fischerRocana FST and La Biosthetique Sam FBW respectively heading into today’s competition. Sam tackled the course with his signature professionalism, coming home well inside the time.

“La Biosthetique Sam is super fit and rode perfectly all the way round the course,” Michael says. “He listened to me right from the start and we had a lot of fun out there. It was a great round under perfect conditions.”

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER). Photo by Thomas Ix.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER). Photo by Thomas Ix.

fischerRocana seemed to be enjoying her romp as well until the final water complex.

In an unexpected turn of events, the supermare went down to her knees on the landing from the drop in. She resurfaced with a surprised expression on her face, shaking the water from her ear bonnet and looking the part of a pony who’d had its dinner taken away. Michael called it a day and they walked back to the stables a bit soggy but no worse for the wear.

We’re thrilled to report that Team North America had a stellar day, with both Clark Montgomery and Rebecca Howard finishing in the top 10.

I saw Rebecca come through #28ABC, the Ariat Horses, a triple brush skinny followed by a left bend to a two-stride line of angled corners. Being just two fences from home and at the bottom of a downhill gallop, it was a test of both fitness and focus and caused trouble for those who didn’t get their horses back quite enough.

New Zealand’s Blyth Tait and Xanthus III were among those who collected 20 here.

Rebecca and Rupert were spot-on, their game face never wavering from start…

xcrebecca

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

…to finish.

Clark and Glen looked absolutely flawless through the Ariat line as well from where I was watching near the last jump. The announcer initially said he’d finished clear and just a second over time, so when 20 jump penalties — and then an elimination — later popped up on the leaderboard beside his name we were all quite stunned.

Glen had apparently knocked the flag at the C element and there was some question about whether his shoulders were over the fence, a matter soon resolved by a series of head-on photographs taken by Shannon Brinkman. You’re an American hero, Shannon!

Even when the ruling was still up in the air Clark told me that he couldn’t have been more thrilled with his horse’s performance. The pair has buckled down on their jumping and fitness work the past few months and their effort clearly paid off today.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“He was right on all the way around,” he said. “I was a bit conservative with really going for the time at the beginning because the concern was whether he would have enough gas to finish the course. But he just kept on wanting to gallop so I was really happy with that. And looking for the jumps — he ticked them off like it was no big deal.”

This was Clark and Glen’s first go at Luhmühlen and he says he was happy with how the course rode.

“It was a bit harder than I expected technicality wise,” he said. “I think a lot of the riders would maybe say that because it caused more issues that we thought it might.”

Issues were scattered throughout the course, resulting in nine retirements, one elimination and a stop or runout here and there. There was only one fall when Kai-Steffen Meier and Sunny Side First “submarined” into the water at 17. Everyone returned to the barn safely, however, and the riders expressed a widespread feeling that their horses had come off course more educated and confident.

“I think Mark did a good job with this course in that it did cause issues with it still being safe,” Clark said. “That’s a super finish for Luhmühlen, especially.”

CCI4* Cross Country Photo Gallery:

 

CCI4* top 25 after cross country (click here to view the full leaderboard):

xcscores

Check out video highlights from the FEI below. We’ve got plenty more Luhmühlen shenanigans up our sleeve for later today. In the meantime, go eventing!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Luhmühlen Looking to Outrun Some Dark Clouds on Saturday

Photo by Leslie Wylie. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The nightmare that was cross-country day at Luhmühlen 2014 isn’t lost on anyone this weekend. Nobody’s pretending like it didn’t happen — starting with an acknowledgement from Princess Anne in the show program’s forward:

“All equestrian activities are risky and modern equestrian sports understand those risks better than ever. While remembering Benjamin Winter’s tragic accident last year which has overshadowed Luhmühlen’s recent history, I would like to wish all those involved — the organisers, the many volunteers and the riders a very successful event.”

The 15th day of June last year was a dark day for the sport and one that raised some hefty, and ultimately impossible, questions. “Where do we go from here?,” Luhmühlen course designer Captain Mark Phillips asked in a press conference following the incident that afternoon.

“Personally, I feel sick to my stomach,” he said. “We had a course that a lot of people thought was easier than last year. We had perfect conditions, great footing, a sunny day — but we had too many falls. Six rider falls, two horse falls — it’s too many.”

Luhmühlen’s undercurrent of bad luck goes back a year further, when a fall claimed the life of another horse.

The event desperately needs to have a good day tomorrow. And, by all accounts, it has made every humanly possible attempt to ensure that it happens.

The cross-country course has undergone some dramatic changes for this year’s event, including completely reversing the course’s direction. The increased implementation of safety systems, especially frangible pins, has been emphasized. There is also plenty of use of hedges, described by Phillips as “a semi frangible medium” that can add an element of forgiveness to difficult questions.

But even with the most advanced technology and thoughtful course design, things don’t always go according to plan. And the ultimate responsibility, of course, falls on the riders to make smart decisions.

“The greatest aid towards safety is the respect riders have for the fences, so we are always trying to find the balance between the fence that is forgiving and yet still taken seriously by the riders,” Philips explained in a press release before the event.

Godspeed to all of tomorrow’s competitors — here’s wishing you all a safe, happy journey. Go eventing.

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Clark Montgomery Came Here to Jump the Jumps

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Sitting in 9th place amongst the world’s best riders is nice and all but Clark Montgomery is keeping his eye on the prize.

Since Libby Head broke her wrist and had to withdraw at the 11th hour, Clark is the USA’s principal ambassador here at Luhmühlen — and so far they’re doing us a solid.

To copy-paste my comments from our Luhmühlen dressage recap, Clark and Loughan Glen came out of the gate swinging, earning a 9 and a 10 for an airborne medium trot across the diagonal — I’m still not convinced the horse’s feet were touching the ground.

OK, maybe a tippy-toe here and there but not much else. Here's what a 10 looks like. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

OK, maybe a tippy-toe here and there but not much else. Here’s what a “10″ medium looks like. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tippy-tippy-toe. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

It was a crisp, lovely test, and Glen is the sort of class horse who looks right at home here amidst the world’s best competitors. Being based in Europe for the past two-and-a-half years has treated Clark well, also; he’s got that rare combination of poise and gutsiness that permeates so many of the top programs here.

A fluke break in the counter canter serpentine weighed their score down a bit but even with a few lost points they managed a 37.1 for 9th place.

Having a chill event horse can be a good, not to mention rare, thing, but Clark says Glen can sometimes be a little too cool a customer in the dressage ring.

“He was fantastic in the beginning,” Clark explains. “He went in and I think he did really well in the trot work and then the beginning of the canter was OK — I could start to feel him start to get a little bit behind my leg. He’s typically that way anyway. I usually come out of the dressage ring out of breath from trying to keep him going all the way to the end; he’s been that way from the very beginning, since he was a 5 year old.”

He continues with a laugh, “I held it together until that last five loop serpentine and then he just would not keep going.”

Not bad, though, especially considering the fact that dressage has almost been an afterthought for this pair since Boekelo last fall. Clark says he’s sat in his dressage saddle maybe, maybe, a dozen times since October.

“The focus has been on his fitness,” Clark says. “Getting him a bit stronger, and his jumping, and so that’s what we’re really here for — tomorrow.”

Captain Mark Phillips’ CCI4* course will be a well-rounded test of those who tackle it.

“It’s a good course,” Clark says. “It’s really not the biggest four-star but it’s technical enough and there plenty of places to screw up.”

Exhibit A: this sort-of-insane skinny to double corner combination. With not much to do but gallop up and down a hill between the final water and this last combination, Clark predicts that it could catch out some horses and riders who let down their guard at the end of the course.

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“Most everything is on a bit of a long distance so he wants you to keep forward,” Clark says. “But with that if you commit and mess up coming in you could easily end up on a half stride, and I think he’s going to catch some people out on quite a few of the combinations.”

There’s been chatter amongst the riders that the track, which is being run in reverse this year, is quite twisty-turny — almost CICish — but this being Clark’s Luhmühlen debut, he is approaching the course from a fresh perspective: “You definitely have to loop around but you’re not jumping and turning… it looks like Luhmühlen to me!”

From the USA to Germany, here’s wishing Clark and Glen the best of luck this weekend! CCI4* cross-country kicks off at 9:45 a.m. CEST (that’s 3:45 ET for many of y’all), with Clark heading out on course at 12:04 p.m. (or 6:04 a.m. ET). So, unless you’re an earlybird or ambitious FEI livestream devotee, send them some good vibes tonight before you head off to bed!

Go Eventing.

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Day 2 Luhmühlen Dressage: That 25 Year Old Is Still Beating the Pants Off Everybody

Just kidding. Most people still have their pants on. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Just kidding. Most people still have their pants on. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Many gave him a run for his money but none could catch Belgium’s Julien Despontin, whose overnight CCI4* lead survived another day of cutthroat competition.

A short list of the best riders in the world that have scattered in his wake…

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS (GER), in 2nd on a 31.9. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (NZL), in 3rd on a 32.7. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST (GER), in 4th on a 34.1. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (GER), in 5th on a 34.2. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Christopher Burton and Graf Liberty (AUS). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Christopher Burton and Graf Liberty (AUS), in 6th on a 36.4. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mark Todd and NZB Campino (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mark Todd and NZB Campino (NZL), in 7th on a 36.5. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

I could keep going but you get my point. To recap my day 1 dressage recap, Julien and Waldano 36 are having the best week of their lives, having surmounted a career trajectory of milquetoast dressage results with one shining, near-record-breaking score in their second CCI4* effort. Hats off to you, Julien!

Claas Hermann Romeike and Cato 60 (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Claas Hermann Romeike and Cato 60 (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Oops!

As predicted, the scoreboard saw some major shakeups when the big guns came out to play. The day started and ended with a bang, with the first pair in the ring, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo, setting the stage with an expressive, pristine performance.

Jonelle’s take: “I was surprised how well she did today. She can be quite difficult and it took me a lot of time and work to get her on my side. I knew she had all the potential to do an exceptional test, but she has never been this consistent before.”

Jonelle held fast to 2nd until the final block of the day, when consummate perfectionist Ingrid Klimke snuck in with a virtually mistake-free test on FRH Escada JS. Further proof that Ingrid is no human but a Cylon in a shadbelly: the judge at C, who is everyone’s favorite judge this weekend (more on that later), gave her a rider coefficient of “10.” Boom.

Ingrid’s analysis: “All the dressage work has paid off! Escada was very well prepared and she gave me a wonderful ride. She was working nicely over her back with lots of expression. Her trot was exceptional and her walk was pretty good, too.”

Yesterday I tried to pressure Michael Jung into predicting which of his horses was going to come out on top but he pretended to not understand me. La Biosthetique Sam FBW did the gentlemanly thing and gave his little sis fischerRocana FBW the lead, but just barely — no kidding, only 0.1 of a point separates the two horses.

Christopher Burton and Mark Todd lurk just outside the top five, and also this happened:

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In what will surely go down as a mic-drop moment in EN history, Chinchwürst catches a ride in Toddy’s top hat.

The USA’s sole torchbearer, Clark Montgomery, delivered a beautiful test on his equine hovercraft Loughan Glen. They came out of the gate swinging, earning a 9 and a 10 for an airborne medium trot across the diagonal — I’m still not convinced the horse’s feet were touching the ground. A fluke break in the counter canter serpentine weighed their score down a bit but even with a few lost points they managed a 37.1 for 9th place.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Also representing the great continent of North America was Canada’s Rebecca Howard on Riddle Master. This horse has the chops to win anywhere but, like many prodigies, his type-A attention to detail — in this case, crowds of people and billowing flags — can sometimes result in a bit of tension. Rebecca did a brilliant job of channeling it into a solid score of 42.5, good for 15th place.

Chinchwürst and I caught up with Rebecca after her test to recap her ride and talk shop about tomorrow’s cross-country course; you can watch the interview here.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

While somewhat improved from yesterday, the scoring today remained wonky with some San Andreas Fault-scale gaps opening up between scores from the various judges.

The crazy cake still belongs to 10th placed Lizzie Brown‘s score from yesterday, which earned an 81.17% from C and a 67.33% from M. That’s a 13.84% spread. Likewise, top-placed Julien’s marks ranged from an 84.83% from the judge at C to a 71.17% from the judge at M. One EN reader likened it to a figure-skating competition. Are they even watching the same test?

One might argue that at least the inconsistencies were somewhat consistent across the leaderboard, with the judge at C handing out points like candy, the judge at M being all Grumpy Cat, and the judge at E plopped down somewhere in the middle. But there are still enough discrepancies at the top of the pack to raise eyebrows. For instance, the judge at M scored both of Michael Jung’s rides higher than she did the leader’s test.

One judge's 9 is another judge's 6.5, I guess. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

One judge’s 9 is another judge’s 6.5, I guess. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Whatever. This ain’t no dressage show, and today’s leaderboard may well be a distant memory by tomorrow night. I’ll be back later today with a dressage photo gallery and interview with Clark, and brace yourself for another completely insane course preview first thing in the a.m.

CCI4* Top 20:

top25

Go Eventing!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

 

 

Rebecca Howard Reflects on Her Top 15 Luhmühlen Dressage Test

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie. Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (CAN). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

There are only two representatives of the North American contingent here at Luhmühlen and both are on a mission.

For Rebecca Howard (CAN) and Clark Montgomery (USA), Luhmühlen marks their first four-star back since Badminton last spring. To recall, it was an infamously disastrous incarnation of the event — treacherous footing coupled with a tough track resulted in only 44% of the starters making it around, one of the lowest completion rates of any CCI4* in recent history. Rebecca and her Riddle Master, as well as Clark and Loughan Glen, were among those for whom the finish flags hovered just out reach.

Fast forward a year and both pairs are back at it, with their super-talented horses in top form and nestled in the top 15 of a world-class field heading into cross-country tomorrow.

We caught up with Rebecca after her test, which scored a 42.5 for 15th place:

Best of luck to Rebecca and Rupert tomorrow!

Chinch power!

Clear eyes, full hearts, Chinch power, can’t lose.

Check back soon for our post-dressage interview with Clark, who is in 9th on a 37.1.

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

Say Hallo to Chinchwürst, Chinch’s Alcoholic German Uncle

There’s only one true Chinch, you know, and with Great Meadow and Luhmühlen taking place the same week we felt torn about where to send him. The last time Chinch got double-booked we called up Hedge, Chinch’s British cousin, to represent EN at Badminton…

hedgehog

… and since that turned out so well, we asked him if he had any family in Germany.

“Well, I’ve got this uncle, but… hey, who’s in the mood for a dust bath?” he replied, clearly trying to dodge the question.

We were desperate, though, and the idea of a chinchilla in lederhosen made us giggle. So we made arrangements for the furry foreign correspondent to meet us at the event on spec.

It may have been a mistake.

Meet Chinchwürst, Chinch’s alcoholic German uncle.

chiinch

Guten tag. *Hiccup*

A few of our initial observations:

photo(1)

He’s a party animal.

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He calls us his “designated driver” and insists upon being carted around in a beer box.

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Sometimes he wears a wine cork as a hat.

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This is his bed.

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He and his drinking buddies don’t always see eye to eye.

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Dressage drives him to drink. (Actually, we’re with you on that one, Chinchwürst.)

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He’s been known to pass out anywhere.

Keep up with both Chinch and Chinchwürst’s adventures this week on Instagram @goeventing!

Day 1 Luhmühlen Dressage: Who Is Julien Despontin and How Is He Beating Michael Jung?

Julien Despontin and Waldano 36. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Julien Despontin and Waldano 36. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Honestly, I’d never even heard of the guy.

At just 25 years old, Belgium’s Julien Despontin is a newbie to the four-star scene. He and his horse, a 14-year-old Hannoverian named Waldano 36, placed 14th place at their first CCI4* last year at Pau on a pretty shabby score of 102.1. They have a history of alright dressage tests (their average score in 2014 was 41.2), a stop or scattering of rails here and there, and mostly milquetoast finishes. They entered the Luhmühlen CIC3* last year but withdrew before cross-country.

Today, however, they laid down the best test of their FEI lives — by several points — to steal the overnight CCI4* dressage lead from reigning event world overlord Michael Jung.

Michael set the bar high early, laying down a 34.2 on his equivalently bionic partner La Biosthetique Sam FBW. That is Sam’s second best score ever at this level (his top mark was a 33.0 at the 2010 WEG), trouncing his Rolex score from two months ago by 2.1 points. When I talked to Michael after his test he described the ride as “fantastic” and said both his horses — fischerRocana FST goes tomorrow — are recovered well from Kentucky and ready for round two.

“They are really good, in very good form, feeling very strong and happy,” he said. “You need a good feeling from the horse that you can try to win and today I had a good feeling.”

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael Jung checking out the scoreboard after his test on La Biosthetique Sam. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Leave it to this Julien dude to waltz in and crush Michael’s dreams. Their test was lovely: crisp and polished with moments of real brilliance woven in. Watching it, I was a little bit mesmerized and a lot curious as to how the judges would be score it, as the powers-that-be are sometimes hesitant to hand out big numbers to rookies.

It turned out to be a mixed bag. The judge at C was clearly caught up the pair’s spell, giving them several 9s and even a 10. The judge at M, on the other hand, low-balled, with the judge at E falling somewhere in between. The result was a massive 13.66 point spread, and theirs wasn’t the only score with a canyon in it — more on that in a minute.

The bottom line: 31.9, a personal best for Julien and Waldano by a landslide. In the 30 FEI competitions Waldano has started in with Julien and former rider Andreas Ostholt, he has only scored in the 30s six times. Six times! Out of 30! And not only that, but their score was just 0.1 off the all-time low Luhmühlen score record set by Lucinda Fredericks in 2012.

What the heck.

“He was brilliant,” Julien said. “It is only our second four-star-event and Waldano did the difficult test virtually without any mistakes. He moves beautifully and his strength is definitely his walk and trot.”

Another day, another conveniently timed dressage test of a lifetime. Their scoresheet via janssen.sportcg.net:

score

The final ride of the day, New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino, snuck into top three on a score of 36.8.

Fun fact: Of the top six placed riders, five are age 26 or under. Jesse is 25; fourth-placed Lizzie Brown (NZL) is 26;  fifth-placed Elmo Jankari (FIN) is 22; and sixth-placed Willa Newton (GBR) is 24.

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

A few notes:

  • There were some disconcertingly large point spreads between judges Christopher Hess (GER) at C; Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) at M; and Andrew Bennie (NZL) at E.

Three of them spanned 10 points or more, including top-placed Julien, whose marks ranged from an  84.83% from the judge at C to a 71.17% from the judge at M as noted above. Lizzie Brown earned an 81.17% from C and a 67.33% from M, and Elmo Jankari scored a 79% from C and a 69% from M. Each of these rides were in the top five.

  • There’s plenty of dressage still to come on Friday, with 15 riders scheduled for day 1 and 23 for day 2. Expect some major leaderboard shakeups tomorrow when the heavy-hitters start throwing their weight around in the ring. And, as EquiRatings noted in its Luhmühlen quick stats, this is no dressage show:

“In the last five renewals of the Luhmühlen CCI4*, the dressage leader has never gone on to win the competition. In 2014, eventually winner Tim Price (Wesko) finished the first phase in seventh place. The other four winners since 2010 have all come from the top five after dressage.”

  • Check out this video of Luhmühlen’s brilliantly simple system for passing scoresheets from the judges to the scorers.

  • The music they’re piping out over the PA during dressage is totally bonkers, ranging from elevator dirge covers of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to this completely random version of the Ghostbusters theme song. I can’t even.

  • Nobody told me that immediately following the dressage they were going to set a bunch of adorable foals loose in the ring. Squee! It was cryptically described in the program as a “show by PZRV Luhmühlen” and apparently there’s supposed to be a foal presentation and sale late tomorrow afternoon as well. Thank God I left my checkbook at home.
Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

CCI4* Day 1 Dressage Scores:

scores

CCI4* Day 1 Dressage Photo Gallery:

Day 2 of CCI4* dressage kicks off at 1 p.m. CEST on Friday. EST is six hours behind so that’s a bright and early 4 a.m. for many of you in the States. Much, much more to come!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule] [Leaderboard]

 

 

 

Luhmühlen CCI4* Number Party: The Entry List

For someone with zero aptitude for them whatsoever, I am completely obsessed with numbers. The stats coming out of the brand new eventing math factory EquiRatings make me feel like a pony in a carrot patch (check out their Luhmühlen Quick Stats) and I’ve been known to party down with a calculator as well. Like, a fourth-grade level party, but still.

This morning I sat down with the 2015 Luhmühlen CCI4* entry list, which includes 38 pairs, and crunched some mad digits.

nationality

experience2

experience

Lizzie Brown and Henton Attorney General (NZL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

All 11 of the riders looking for their first CCI4* finish are mounted on horses looking to accomplish the same goal. Lizzie Brown and Henton Attorney General (NZL) are among those making their debut at the level. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

winners

Tim-Price-and-Wesko3

2014 Luhmühlen CCI4* winners Tim Price and Wesko (NZL). Photo by Jenni Autry.

Last year’s CCI4* winner Tim Price returns this year on Bango, who’ll be making his four-star debut.

color

Michael O'Toole and Greenfort Endeavour (IRE). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Michael O’Toole and Greenfort Endeavour (IRE) add a splash of pizazz to this weekend’s color palette. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

age

Andrew Hoy and Algebra (AUS). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Andrew Hoy and Algebra (AUS). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

ridergender

 

Two of the five stallions are ridden by women: Coral Keen and Wellshead Fare Opposition (GBR) and Kirsty Johnston and Opposition Detective (GBR). As a side note, the stallions are half-brothers, both sired by Fleetwater Opposition whose offspring also includes Nicola Wilson’s WEG/Olympic/European Championships partner Opposition Buzz. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Coral Keen and Wellshead Fare Opposition (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Coral Keen and Wellshead Fare Opposition (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We’ve got live Luhmühlen coverage coming at you throughout the day so you know where to keep it locked.

Luhmühlen: Website, Live ScoresEntry ListScheduleFEI TVEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

Who Booty Is It? An Analysis of Luhmühlen’s Finest CCI4* Butts

Four-star event horses boast some of the best bums in the equine world, sculpted into perfection by a fitness routine that would make Sir Mix-a-Lot proud. And no two butts are the same — of the 38 CCI4* horses accepted at the Wednesday jog here at Luhmühlen, each is propelled by its own one-of-a-kind booteus maximus.

What are the hallmarks of a champion posterior? First and foremost, it’s got to be packed like a can of biscuits — rock-hard, busting at the seams, and ready to explode at any moment. Preferably into a “10″ extended trot or dramatic leap over a massive jump, but the most talented badonkadonks in the world occasionally have a mind of their own.

fischer2

Exhibit A: Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST (GER). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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This butt cannot be denied. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Size is another consideration. Eventers like big butts and we cannot lie. There’s no shortcut to an oversized apple-bottom bubble-butt but hillwork, hillwork, hillwork.

4

Sometimes it’s OK to show a little crack. Julien Despontin and Waldano 36 (BEL). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

A perfectly round, symmetrical butt is a rare work of art, indicative of meticulously even-sided dressage schooling.

3

I just want to squeeze it. Fraser King and Nadal (NED). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

A good groom can take an already gifted set of buns to the next level. Quarter marks, for example, are the booty shorts of the horse world, drawing attention to a toned derrière.

buttsavedon

Andreas Dibowski and the appropriately named FRH Butts Avedon. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Unlike human bums, a blindingly white equine bum can be super sexy.

Andrew Hoy and Algebra (AUS). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

It’s like looking at the moon. Andrew Hoy and Algebra (AUS). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Look at those cheeky dapples peeking through.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Such a tease. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (USA). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

And, last but not least, poise is everything. Always keep it classy…

 

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Bayro and Tim Lips (NED). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

…not trashy.

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Kirsty Johnson and Opposition Detective (GBR). Photo by Leslie Wylie.

CCI4* Photo Gallery:

CIC3* dressage begins on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. CEST with CCI4* dressage to follow from 1:30 to 3:48 p.m. CEST. EST is six hours behind so that’s 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. start times for many of y’all back in the States. Both representatives of the North American contingent, Clark Montgomery with Loughan Glen and Rebecca Howard with Riddle Master, compete on Friday.

We’re here for the duration and will be bringing you all the latest butt photos and other important breaking news as it arises. Keep it locked here, Eventing Nation!

Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entry List] [Schedule]

#EventerProblems, VIII

Eventers have 99 problems but venting about them on social media ain’t one. Our #EventerProblems series marches on with 20 more reader-submitted troubles that only eventers will understand.

If you missed them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII.

When your horse insists you hand-feed him his soaked grain #eventerproblems

A photo posted by Becky Leylek (@bleylek) on

A photo posted by Becky Leylek (@bleylek) on

What’s YOUR problem? Tweet it, Instagram it or share it on Facebook with the hashtag #EventerProblems for inclusion in the next edition of this series.

Go Eventing!

Grooming Grooms for the Future

Photo by Leslie Wylie. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Getting a horse to and through a three-day takes a village. Ask any professional rider and they’ll admit that there’s no way they could do it without their team — in particular, their groom.

Good grooms are worth their weight in gold. It takes years of experience, coupled with a genuine love of horses, to become an expert at managing equine athletes at the highest level. It’s vital to the sport that we continue “grooming grooms” to fulfill this valuable role.

A new program, the Equine Management Training Center (EMTC), is taking groom education to the next level. Based at Sandy River Equestrian Center in southwestern Virginia, EMT offers a comprehensive certification program sharing the knowledge and skills necessary to become a professional groom and manage all aspects of equestrian life.

The program’s curriculum was developed with the oversight of many professionals including Olympic riders, veterinarians, farriers, professional grooms and more.

The inaugural session, an eight-week program focusing on equine management, will be held in September and October of 2015. Following completion of the session, all students will be placed in a one-month internship at a participating barn; after completion of the internship, they will be placed in jobs as Basic Grooms. Alternately, they may elect to continue with a second session focused on stable management, scheduled for January and February 2016, to to become an Elite Groom.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

EMTC has quickly gained the support of professionals across the eventing spectrum.

  • “There is no other program like this in the country. All professionals will be better off knowing that their employees have been taught by the best.” — David O’Connor
  • “What the training center for grooms could do for the professional horse industry, by providing an educated, certified, ready-to-hire equine management practitioner, cannot be understated.” — Will Coleman
  • “A good groom is the backbone to any successful program. Our job is to make sure that when that rider gets  on, all they worry about is riding.” — Max Corcoran
  • “The Professional Equine Groom School is a fantastic program and necessary for anyone aspiring to be a top groom or wanting to learn as much as possible about caring for an equine athlete.” — Lauren Kieffer

Recognizing the important role that grooms play, the Professional Riders Organization (PRO) is a big supporter and affiliate of the EMTC. They have partnered together to create an EMTC PRO Groom’s Award, given to a groom who demonstrates outstanding management and turnout throughout each PRO Tour Series competition. PRO Tour competitions at the CCI3* levels will award a $200 and CIC3*/Advanced levels will award a $100 cash prize to the winning groom.

The first EMTC PRO Groom’s Award was given at last week’s Bromont CCI Three Day Event. The recipient was Anne Marie Duarte, who grooms for Selena O’Hanlon.

Selena O'Hanlon's groom, Anne Marie Duarte, at Bromont. Photo courtesy of PRO.

Selena O’Hanlon’s groom, Anne Marie Duarte, at Bromont. Photo courtesy of PRO.

Selena O'Hanlon and her beautifully turned-out Foxwood High at the 2015 Bromont CCI3*. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Selena O’Hanlon and her beautifully turned-out Foxwood High at the 2015 Bromont CCI3*. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“It is so nice to publicly recognize the dedication and commitment of professional grooms,” said Robert Costello, Chair of the USEF Eventing Selection Committee. “They make such a difference to the care of the horses in their charge and really make it possible for us as riders to be successful.”

For more information about EMTC, visit equinemanagementtrainingcenter.com.

#EventerProblems, VII

All around the world, hopeless eventing addicts are taking to social media to acknowledge the fact that, yes, they have a problem. Too bad admitting it isn’t the first step to recovery. Once an addict, always an addict, but at least we’re all in this thing together, right?

Our #EventerProblems series rages on with 20 more reader-submitted troubles that only eventers will understand.

If you missed them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI.

When you finally take your boots off after a day of showing. #eventerproblems #itwasagoodrunsocks #heelsdown A photo posted by MercatMiller (@mercatmiller) on

When your horse thinks a grass pacifier is necessary to school XC. #EventerProblems #NinerFiveOneTango

A photo posted by Haley Mac Johnson (@maclbee) on

Dear Horse Gods (and rich people),Please gift me with a truck and horse trailer (or just the trailer, I can borrow a…

Posted by Emily Francis on Friday, May 29, 2015

What’s YOUR problem? Tweet it, Instagram it or share it on Facebook with the hashtag #EventerProblems for inclusion in the next edition of this series.

Go Eventing!

When the Circus Comes to Town: An Open Letter to the 2018 WEG Organizing Committee

The front of the Bromont cross-country course. Photo by Leslie Wylie. The front of the Bromont cross-country course. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

I know I’m not the only one who, upon leaving this past weekend’s (fantastic as usual) Bromont CCI Three-Day Event, took a good look around. Change is coming, and soon.

I’ve spent a number of scattered hours over the past few months digging into the IOC’s 1976 Olympic official reports, trying to piece together what the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Montreal/Bromont might look like. Having been to the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games, both of which were giant, sprawling affairs, I was having a tough time visualizing the sleepy Canadian ski village of Bromont shouldering even a percentage of the load.

I compiled my research in last week’s post, How Did Bromont Pull Off the 1976 Olympics?, and took it a step further by comparing the scale of the Olympic equestrian events versus WEG. The bottom line: Bromont handled the Olympics with aplomb, but with about seven times the number of competing horses and at least twice as many spectators, WEG will be a significantly larger beast.

A view from the stands during WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

A view from the stands during WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Like the ’76 Olympics, the 2018 WEG will be split between Bromont and Montreal, and while the FEI has cited Bromont as “the hub,”  no word has yet been made public about which events will be held where. But whether Bromont ends up hosting two disciplines or eight, one thing is certain: It’s going to undergo some major shape-shifting over the next couple years.

Rather than speculating about the end game — a fun but not entirely productive thought experiment — I think it’s worth taking a moment to discuss the process. How will the WEG organizing committee take the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park from point A to point B?

It must be difficult to hand your horse park, which you’ve put so much work into, over to a third-party organizing committee. It’s an honor to host WEG, certainly, but outside-looking-in is a vulnerable place to be.

There are a number of question marks still dangling. Preliminary plans include turning the front of the cross-country course into a parking lot and erecting two large buildings in what is now the large cross-country warm-up area. WEG has contracts with property owners surrounding the park to allow the cross-country course to be expanded outward, but what happens after the Games are over?

There is no guarantee that the property owners will continue allowing an event to bleed into their land. A CCI3* track requires a vast amount of land, and that’s one reason why there are only five CCI3* events in North America (Jersey Fresh, Bromont, Rebecca Farm, Fair Hill, Galway Downs). Will there be enough land left after WEG for the Bromont CCI3* to continue? With the venue likely being under construction next year, will the CCI event even be held next year?

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

To be fair, the WEG organizing committee has no easy task before them. Pulling off an event on the scale of WEG is a logistical high-wire act, and the perils of falling short — as was the focus of a great deal of criticism toward the 2014 WEG in Normandy — only exacerbate the pressure. It’s a system that encourages short-sightedness: The organizers are graded on their ability to stage one event with little concern to what may manifest in its wake.

An open letter of encouragement to the WEG organizing committee:

Keep both the short-term and the long-term in mind. Your job is to facilitate two shining weeks of world-class equestrian sport in 2018, but consider also the end-game impact the event will have on its host venue and surrounding community.

Honor the land by developing it in a sustainable way. Build out in a way that is healthy, both for the immediate future and for the years and decades to follow. Find creative ways to utilize existing infrastructure.

Be respectful of the individuals who have invited the international equestrian community into their backyards. Consider their input, which is as valuable as that of any expert you have on the payroll. Do what has to be done, but not at the venue’s expense.

Doing the above is a win-win for everyone. The benefits are clear for the venue, but WEG has much to gain as well. Cities are not exactly jumping up and down to host a WEG — the selection process for 2018, as you may recall, was quite the kerfuffle.

With the eight-disciplines/one-host model already up in the air, the FEI should be doing everything it can to make hosting the Games seem like an enticing proposition. Working with host venues and communities toward a mutually beneficial result, starting with Bromont, would surely pave the way for more cities stepping up as candidates in the future.

Committing to leaving everything a little better than you found it is a good guideline to live by in general and one the WEG organizing committee would do well to take to heart. Bromont is one of the most naturally beautiful equestrian venues on earth, and it would be a shame to see it cratered out or cluttered up with superfluous infrastructure after the Games have come and gone.

The 1976 IOC Games Report analysis of its equestrian events concluded: “Following the Games, Bromont, in addition to its other fine facilities, was left with an equestrian centre capable of accommodating major international competitions.”

Bromont will soon have the ultimate opportunity to make good on that prophesy. Let’s make sure that the last sentence written about the 2018 WEG is equally positive.

Who Jumped It Best? Bromont Jaguar Edition

I’ve heard of “expensive rails” but using a Jaguar as jump filler is in a category all of its own: “That’ll cost you four faults AND tens of thousands of dollars. Should have picked up those toes!”

As usual, sports cars were scattered throughout this year’s Jaguar Land Rover Bromont Three-Day event, including some cameos on yesterday’s show jumping course.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Have you ever seen a car used as an obstacle on a show jumping course? Me neither. But if you use your imagination, snap photos from precisely the right angle, and have a basic knowledge of Photoshop, anything is possible. Check out these photos of the CCI3* horses and riders “jumping a Jaguar” and tell us who you thought did it best!

Kate Chadderton and VS McCuan Civil Liberty. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Kate Chadderton and VS McCuan Civil Liberty. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Catchascatchcan. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Catchascatchcan. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Lauren Kieffer and Landmark's Monte Carlo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Many thanks to Jaguar Land Rover for their support of both Bromont and equestrian sport at large.

Allez Concours Complet!

Hope Bromont CCI2*/3* Winner Marilyn Little Has a Big Mantlepiece

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Earlier today Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed earned themselves this sweet, sweet hunk of Canadian eventing memorabilia…

The Bromont Two Star Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Bromont CCI2* Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

…and by the end of the afternoon she and RF Demeter had won him a little friend.

Bromont Three Star Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Bromont CCI3* Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“This qualifies as a really good day,” Marilyn said after her round. “In this sport there are a lot of different days, and this is a good one.”

Unlike the CCI2*, which Marilyn led from start to finish on RF Overdressed, Marilyn wasn’t in the tip-top spot when she cantered into the show jumping arena. She was in second but certainly within striking distance, being just half a point away from cross-country leaders Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon.

Rails were flying throughout the CCI3* division — there wasn’t a single clear round. Marc Donovan’s course was a test of the horses’ ability to rebound after a taxing cross-country day and several of the horses were clearly not on their usual game. The issues weren’t at any one fence but scattered evenly around the course, which had a beautiful, forward flow but reprimanded even little mistakes.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Marilyn explains that while her mare is usually very sharp on Sunday, she felt a little tired today and didn’t quite get her toes clear of the vertical skinny. They emerged from the ring with four jump faults in hand, leaving Emily a bit of breathing room. When Emily and “Delta” pulled two rails, however, Marilyn and Demi switched places: Marilyn in first, Emily in second.

Marilyn describes Demi as sound, tough and brave — a “once in a lifetime horse” — and says she is thrilled that her horse finally got her moment in the sun. “I’m surprised this is her first win,” Marilyn says. “It’s always just been one thing or another, or me, that’s kept her out of the winner’s circle … maybe this will break the ice.”

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The rest of the pack got a good shuffle as well. Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac moved from fourth to third on a four-fault round, with third-placed Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF dropping to sixth after pulling three rails.

Jenny Caras, the talented 19-year-old making her CCI3* debut we featured earlier this week, jumped her way up the scoreboard from being 14th after dressage to fourth place overall. She and Fernhill Fortitude had a clear cross-country trip that was darn near optimum time, just 1.2 time faults over, and a four-fault round today. The future is blindingly bright for this class pair.

Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Bromont CCI3* Top 15

scores

That’s a wrap for Bromont 2015. We’ll be bringing you some odds and ends over the next few days, including an impending announcement about the Canadian Pan-Am Games squad, but for now we’re signing out. Congrats to all of this weekend’s competitors and here’s wishing everyone a safe journey home.

Alléz Concours Complet!

Bromont: Website, EntriesLive Scores, EN’s Coverage, Twitter, Instagram

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed Win Coveted Bear-Eating-Salmon Bromont CCI2* Trophy

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

All week long, the suspense has been killing us: Who was going to win the most Canadian trophy of them all?

trophy

Bromont Two Star Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

In the end — actually, all the way from the beginning — it was Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed, who have been leading their CCI2* division all week. You can read our recaps of their dressage and cross-country performances here and here.

Marilyn and Overdressed had one rail in hand when they went into show jumping and they used it. Marilyn told us later that she felt the horse was just a bit tired: “That was the longest course he’s every done in his career.” She thought it was a great education for him, explaining, “Best I can tell, they have to learn how to be tired and still perform.”

Overall, though, she was thrilled his performance and says she can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Marilyn Little and RF Overdressed. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

On Marilyn’s heels was Sharon White, who packed a double-punch with Cooley On Show and Clifford M. Both jumped fault-free show jumping rounds to finish in second and third respectively, and we look forward to watching these lovely horses develop under Sharon’s expert guidance. She stopped by yesterday to tell us about them — you can check out the interview here.

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Do you think Cooley on Show is giving Clifford M a hard time here? Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Do you think Cooley on Show is giving Clifford M a hard time here? Photo by Leslie Wylie.

While Marilyn and Sharon sat tight in their seats at the top of the scoreboard, the rest of the field got shuffled around a bit by felled rails. Marc Donovan’s show jumping course has a beautiful flow, with forward galloping lines and plenty of encouragement to keep your horse in front of your leg. But if you got lulled into getting a bit flat and strung out, it was nearly guaranteed to catch up with you by the finish.

CCI2* Final Top 15

twostar

Meanwhile, in the CIC2*, it was fitting to hear the Canadian anthem come over the loudspeakers courtesy of Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen. The overnight leaders had a beautiful trip around the course and Waylon had a big smile on his face during the awards — he was clearly happy to win one for the home team.

Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

CIC2* Final Top 15

onestar

 Back shortly with a CCI3* report. Alléz Concours Complet!

Bromont: Website, Entries, Schedule/Ride Times, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, Twitter, Instagram