Leslie Wylie
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New Season of ‘The Bachelor’ to Feature EN Chinchilla

ABC’s hit romance reality series The Bachelor shocked audiences last night when it announced the star of next season: Eventing Nation’s very own Chinch.

“We felt like it was time to take the show in a different direction and express some real diversity,” the show’s producers explained in a press conference. “What better way to do that than bring in a celebrity chinchilla who already has a large female fan base?”

For his audition tape, Chinch sent in a highlight reel of his world travels, which have included several trips abroad to four-stars in Europe. He noted that he enjoys deep conversation, holding paws and long walks on cross-country courses, especially if he’s being carried in someone’s shirt.

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“I’m a cultured, adventurous guy,” he explains. “People see these photos of me out there on the open road, roaming the world with my passport, and they think that I’m this free-spirited playboy who doesn’t want to be tied down. But the truth is, I’m a hopeless romantic. I’ve been chasing the one thing that’s been missing in my life — true love — for so long now. I just feel ready to take that next step.”

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Chinch explains that he’s attempted online dating, but that being matched up with individuals with similar dating profiles hasn’t yielded much success.

“It always starts out the same,” he says. “I think we’re hitting it off; it’s good for a while …”

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“…but eventually they start stepping all over me, or worse, I get chewed up and spit out.”

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He’s tried the stuffed animal route as well but admits that “there was just no connection.”

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Chinch hopes that venturing outside the chinchilla dating pool will help him find his true soul mate — although he’s gotten burned in that realm, too.

“Women flock to me at these events, everywhere I go,” he explains. “They seem so into me, like, ‘Ooh, let’s snuggle!’ But really they’re just using me to get a cute photo for Instagram. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but when it just keeps happening over and over again, it’s hard not to let it get to you.”

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“I just want someone who will love and accept me for who I am: a fun-loving and sexy yet caring and sensitive chinchilla who has a lot to offer the right lady,” he says with a sigh. “I’m looking forward to finding that someone on ‘The Bachelor,’ and when I do, I won’t hesitate to give them my rose.”

Air dates to be announced. In the meantime, keep up with all Chinch’s adventures via Twitter and Instagram.

Event Organizers Vote to Bring Back Long Format at Rolex

Torrance Fleischmann and Finvarra Torrance Fleischmann and Finvarra "back in the day." Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

After a recent survey revealed that 97 percent of online forum users would like to see the long format return to upper-level eventing, organizers of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event met with officials and representatives from the sport’s governing bodies in Lexington yesterday to approve bringing back the long format for the 2015 event.

For USEA President Diane Pitts, it boiled down to a matter of democracy. “We here at the USEA are deeply committed to listening to our constituents, and an overwhelming majority of our members wanted to see the long format return to Rolex. We are thrilled to be a part of making this dream a reality.”

Online forum user “BeginnerNoviceOrBust” has been vocal in leading the public outcry to return the sport to its roots. “Eventing was better back in the day,” she says, then revises her statement slightly: “Except for the dressage. The dressage was pretty bad.”

When asked to specify what she meant by “back in the day,” she clarified her statement: “When did that movie Sylvester come out? I think it was around then. Probably the ’80s.”

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The ’80s were, truly, a golden era for U.S. eventing when no dream seemed too big. “If a rogue bronco ridden by a cowgirl could pull off Rolex as their very first event, anything was possible,” forum user “BeginnerNoviceOrBust” explained.

The Americans took home a team gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, a feat that we have yet to repeat since, and getting it done was the name of the game, with legends like Ginny Leng, Lucinda Green and Ian Stark dominating eventing’s upper echelons. Dressage seemed like a blip on the radar when you had endless miles of roads and tracks, steeplechase and cross country looming in front of you.

Team USA coach David O’Connor agreed: “I’m always talking about the future of American eventing, but it’s important to honor the past,” he said. “If we’re going to bring back the long format, let’s bring back the rest of it as well.” Though he did clarify he would make an exception for Bruce Davidson’s hair: “That’s probably not ever coming back. Some things are just lost to history, I guess.”

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Since yesterday’s decision, organizers of the nation’s premier four-star event have begun announcing major changes that will take place in returning the competition to its golden era. First, event organizers broke the news to presenting sponsor Rolex that it had been replaced by iconographic ’80s watch brand, Swatch.

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“Swatch watches were the ultimate ’80s fashion accessory,” says Rolex Swatch president and CEO Stewart Wicht, “and also they speak more specifically to the eventing demographic. A Swatch watch is an affordable timepiece, and they’ll coordinate perfectly with cross-country colors, so there are some great opportunities for rider sponsorship there as well.”

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Land Rover was another casualty of the event’s paradigm shift and has been replaced by the more eventer budget-friendly Yugo. We can’t wait to see how the Yugo fares on this year’s obstacle course!

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In addition to the format and sponsor changes, the sport’s rulebooks have been revised to more closely resemble what they looked like in the ’80s, long before the dawn of frangible pins; required helmet chinstraps; or mandatory retirement after fall of horse, rider or both.

1984 Olympics Equestrian Event at Fairbanks Ranch

No worries — leg up! Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Despite having been given less than a month’s notice regarding the format change, riders entered in this year’s event have responded positively to the news.

Lauren Kieffer, last year’s top-placed American finisher, says, “I think the ’80s thing is pretty cool. Veronica can really pull off some bright neon colors and accessories. At first I was a little upset because air vests don’t come in day-glo colors, but then I remembered that in the ’80s safety vests hadn’t even been invented yet, so I’m in the clear.”

Defending Rolex champion William Fox-Pitt was slightly less enthusiastic. “I’m pretty sure I can get a decent ‘stache going in a month, but growing a mullet doesn’t just happen overnight. I wish they’d given us a little more notice.”

Defending Swatch champion William Fox-Pitt. Photo by Jenni Autry.

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Best of luck to this year’s competitors. Happy April Fool’s, and Go Eventing!

Kiss Me, I’m an Irish Sport Horse!

Paul Tapner and Kilronan. Photo by Jenni Autry. Paul Tapner and Kilronan. Photo by Jenni Autry.

As athletic as they are tough, it’s no wonder Irish Sport Horses have topped the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses Eventing Studbook rankings for 8 out of the last 10 years.

Last year, once again, they dominated the rankings. The 2014 list, released in September:

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Screenshot from WBFSH.org

Koninklijk Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland (KWPN) and Hannoveraner Verband e. V. (HANN) rounded out the top 5. (View the complete list here.)

Unlike 2013, when 4 of the top 6 horses on the ISH list were competing under the American flag (Ballynoe Castle RM, #2; , #4 Harbour Pilot, #4; Cambalda, #5; Fernhill Eagle, #6), U.S. horses were conspicuously absent from the 2014 list.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Irish Sport Horses don’t have a giant presence in American eventing sport. At Rolex last year, Irish horses were the second most represented breed (16 horses) behind Thoroughbreds (24 horses)

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Who are some Irish Sport Horses who have and continue to dominate the top of American sport? In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a not-even-exhaustive list:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Go Irish Sport Horses, and Go Eventing!

Community Rallies Around Ohio Eventer Who Lost 5 Horses in Barn Fire

Kelly and Vino. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma Photography. Kelly and Vino. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma Photography.

Our deepest condolences are with eventer and OTTB advocate Kelly Felicijan, whose Jefferson, Ohio, farm tragically caught fire last night. Among her losses were five horses, a pet goat and a barn cat — all much beloved.

“It’s not something you ever think is going to happen to you or your family,” Kelly said when we spoke with her this morning. Working as a nurse she sees a lot of suffering but says that experiencing it firsthand is much different. “It doesn’t really prepare you for your own loss.”

A neighbor who spotted the fire called the fire department and then Kelly at around 1:30 a.m. Kelly, whose house is near the barn, looked out the window and ran outside. Ordinarily the horses would have been turned out with access to their run-in, but with temperatures hovering around 0 with a -25 degree wind chill last night, she had decided to keep them in.

Cocoa Vino, an Arab-Trakehner she’d had for 10 years and evented through Prelim, was in the first stall on the right. Kelly tried to go inside the barn three times, but the smoke was too thick, and she emerged with singed hair and eyes.

“He’s irreplaceable,” she says of Vino. “We did our first three Prelims last year. He was a pretty phenomenal horse — he could pretty much pack me around his first Prelim and my first Prelim with my eyes closed.” Despite standing 17.2 hands and possessing a strong gallop, he recently escorted Kelly’s neighbor, who had never even gone through a water jump, around her first three-phase event. “I told her to trot every jump,” Kelly recalls. “He took great care of her.”

“Vino was supposed to live until he was 35,” she says, still understandably in shock about his passing. “He was supposed to live forever.”

By the time the firefighters arrived, the barn was a total loss. The cause of the fire is unknown; they speculate that the source could have been an electric fence charger, a power surge or even a mouse chewing through a wire, and that the barn’s tin roof held the smoke in. Kelly takes comfort in knowing that the horses likely lost consciousness from smoke inhalation, minimizing their pain.

The other four horses included a Haflinger named Nitro …

Kelly's Haflinger, Nitro.

Nitro. Photo courtesy of Kelly Felicijan.

… and three OTTBs: Astro, Royal and Rayne.

Kelly is active in the OTTB community and in particular is involved with Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds, Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to help OTTBs from Finger Lakes Race Track find post-racing homes and new careers. FLF volunteer Alex Walker, a friend of Kelly’s, wasted no time in giving well-wishers an outlet for their outpouring of generosity. A YouCaring fundraiser was set up this morning under the name “Help Us Rebuild Morgan Valley Sport Horses After the Fire.

Alex wrote of Kelly’s support of the organization and beyond:

Kelly is an integral part of our family here at Finger Lakes Finest. We can always count on her to take in the horses needing extra love, that most would pass by,  not seeing their potential. She has helped countless animals find forever homes because of her compassion, excellent horse care and tireless work.

Over the past few years, she has taken in and found homes for over 30 off-the-track Thoroughbreds, auction horses and others just needing a soft landing. When Kelly isn’t caring for her four-legged family, she is taking care of other peoples’ family members as a nurse at Geauga Medical Center. She volunteers her time while serving as a 4-H leader in her community.

“I just can’t say no,” Kelly says. “Show me the barn with the horses that nobody else wants.”

She recalls the story of an OTTB she brought home from the track despite knowing that he had a fractured ankle. Rather than giving the broken horse time off to heal, his trainer was regularly injecting it to keep the horse running despite the fact that he wasn’t even winning. Kelly rehabbed the horse herself and found him a loving home.

“Anything from ponies to Thoroughbreds — if it has four legs, I’ll give it a chance. I don’t pick my horses; my horses pick me.”

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Astro. Photo courtesy of Kelly Felicijan.

One of the OTTBs Kelly was most excited about was Astro (Jockey Club name: Alabanter). Before the fire, Kelly had just gotten 300 pounds on him (he had trouble keeping weight on because of a stall-walking habit), and he was beginning to reveal his potential: “He could jump 3’6″ like it was a cross-rail. He had an amazing future in front of him.”

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Astro. Photo courtesy of Kelly Felicijan.

Another exciting prospect was a striking OTTB named Royal (Heza Royal One), who she’d recently entered in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover. Royal was a perfect fit for the competition, which is eligible to OTTBs with nine months of training or less and culminates in a national gathering at the Kentucky Horse Park in October.

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Royal. Photo courtesy of Kelly Felicijan.

“I keep walking out there,” Kelly says. Her family advised her against it, but she says it’s been her own way of dealing with the tragedy. “I needed to walk out there and know for myself that all the horses were in the barn. I wanted to go look.”

What she saw — what was left of the barn — was mostly blackened rubble. “The were six beams and a metal cart we used to pull hay,” she says. “The horses aren’t recognizable.”

She brushes off the loss of everything besides the animals, describing the rest of it as “just material possessions.” But for a horse person who has been riding since age 5 and eventing since age 8, that’s a lifetime of accumulated equipment. The tack room was stuffed with years worth of, as Kelly describes, “hoarding”: blankets, tack including her good saddle and, she notes, a prolific bit collection.

In addition to monetary donations, the YouCaring fundraiser encourages the donation of equipment and supplies to replace those lost in the fire. Suggested items include tack, brushes, wheelbarrows, blankets, feed/hay, barn equipment, etc.

Other losses include a fueled-up tractor that blew up behind the barn, as well as her and her boyfriend’s trucks, which were parked outside. She only had liability insurance on her truck but says that the loss seems insignificant in comparison. “I don’t care about the truck,” she says.

Yet, less than 12 hours after the fire, Kelly already has her chin up. She points out the bright side of things: She is safe. Her boyfriend and family are safe. Her home, which was in danger of catching fire itself, is fine. She still has four horses to love — two that were boarded at a facility with an indoor and two horses that were babysitting other horses elsewhere.

Kelly says she has been floored by the kindness the equestrian community has shown her in the fire’s aftermath. Her vet, who was away at a conference, called in the middle of the night and offered to drive home. She’s been overwhelmed by sympathies and well wishes from friends and strangers alike. At the time of this publication, the YouCaring fundraising campaign had already raised more than $4,500 (you can visit the campaign here).

“There has been a big outpouring of support,” she says. “I feel loved.”

When Kelly shared the news on Facebook this morning, she included this request:

Please hug your horses and animals a little tighter and give them a few extra kisses. Sometimes life isn’t fair. But the only option is forward … always forward.

The Poor Eventer’s Guide to Living Large in Aiken

Most people, when you tell them you want to head south for the winter, they don’t understand. “What’s so great about Aiken?” they ask. “What difference does it make whether your first event of the season is in February or in April?” Let me tell you something: These people don’t know about you. They don’t understand your life. They don’t care about your hopes and dreams.

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And players gonna play. You’re a player. This year, YOU DO YOU.

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Just one problem: You’re broke.

Pimpin’ ain’t easy but we have good news for you, friend: You don’t have to be rich to fly with the snowbirds. All you really need is a truck and trailer, resourcefulness, and a high tolerance for PB&J sandwiches and chanky hotels. Here are a few hot tips for spreading your wings without breaking the bank.

1. Get that paper. I’m not gonna lie — you’re gonna need a little green. Thankfully, winter event season coincides with tax refund season. It’s time to take Uncle Sam for all he’s worth so you can blow it on your horse. File that return today, and in three weeks or less you’ll be on the road south.

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2. Recruit an entourage. The more fellow eventers you can talk into heading south with you, the cheaper it will be. Split gas, split hotel, split lessons, split pizzas … this can literally cut your expenses in half or sixths if you’re a straight baller like Kanye here.

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3. Find a crib. The key point to remember here is that if you have a roof over your head, you’re winning. The cheapest place I’ve found to sleep (besides my horse trailer) is the Days Inn in downtown Aiken, which offers a weekly rate of $265. You can score an even better deal if you stick around longer and find something to sublet — like this posh 3-bedroom double-wide for $495 a month.

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4. Find a crib for your horse. This isn’t too hard considering Aiken is pretty much one big horse farm. Many of them cater to the snowbird crowd, offering short-term self-care boarding. A couple of my standbys are Full Gallop Farm and Jumping Branch Farm, both of which have cross-country courses, ample room for hacking and rotational turnout. Be sure to ask about discounts for staying a week or more; at Full Gallop, for example, rates are $25/night, $20/night if staying more than 5 nights, and $350/month (shavings included!).

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5. Feed yourself (and your horse) on the cheap. I know it’s tempting to stop by Starbucks on the way to the barn every morning. DON’T DO IT. Suck it up, buttercup, and walk into the barn with a tiny Styrofoam cup of stale motel coffee in your hand and your head held high. Put the $8 you could have spent on a caramel macchiato and croissant toward a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and some jelly. Eat that for lunch. Every. Day. For dinner, treat yourself to anything on the Taco Bell menu.

As for your horse, bring as much feed/hay down with you as you can stuff in the trailer. The going rate for a bale of orchard grass or timothy from Aiken Saddlery is $14.50, which is pretty spendy (at least compared to where I live in Tennessee).

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6. Ride dirty. Nah, I’m just playin’, groom your horse before you ride. But speaking of riding there are so many opportunities in Aiken to get a jump start on your spring season — and some of them are 100 percent free. My favorite: conditioning in Hitchcock Woods, which boasts over 70 miles of beautiful sandy trails with adorable names like Tea Cottage Path, Peek-a-Boo Lane and Cathedral Aisle. There’s a steeplechase track tucked in there that’s fun to canter around and little surprise cross-country jumps here and there.

Looking for some edumacation? Lesson opportunities are endless. Decide who you’d like to ride with and ask to be placed in a group lesson if that’s an option. Not only is it easier on the budget, you can learn a lot from watching other people. If you’re in town for the USEF High Performance Training Sessions (February 11-12 and March 16-17 at Stable View Farm), GO! I audited a weekend last year and came away with a toolkit of exercises to practice on my own horse. Total out-of-pocket cost: zero dollars.

Another Aiken perk: Competitions are aplenty and cheaper than usual as, for the most part, you can just haul in for the day, thus saving $150 or whatever in stabling fees. Knock off the rust at a schooling show or dive headfirst into recognized event — there are things to do practically every weekend. Check out this calendar of local events.

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Go Eventing!

The 5 Most Popular SmartPak Videos of 2014

This post originally appeared on Horse Nation, our super awesome sister site.

SmartPak’s “If Horses Were People” YouTube series was a breakout hit in 2014, garnering hundreds of thousands of view. Here are the top 5 most-watched episodes.

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As much as we love our horses, some of their behavior is a little…weird. Imagine if you’re best friend or co-worker acted like that? That’s exactly what we did, and we think you’ll like what we came up with!” — SmartPak

#5. 104,415 views

#4. 118.739

#3. 127,271

#2. 189,767

#1. 246,597

Can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2015, SmartPak!

Go SmartPak, and Go Riding!

Who Had the Best Save of 2014?

Emily Macauley & Medici at Cobblestone Farms H.T. in July. Photo by Ethan Macauley. Emily Macauley & Medici at Cobblestone Farms H.T. in July. Photo by Ethan Macauley.

2014 was the year of sticky britches. Perhaps inspired by Rick Wallace’s valiant effort to defy gravity at Chatt Hills last year, this year’s crop seemed more determined than ever to keep a horse between themselves and the ground. Among the many amazing saves that we have witnessed in the last 12 months, eight really stood out to us as true exhibitions of iron-willed insanity.

Note: We limited the nominations to U.S. events for the sake of brevity, although there were plenty of astonishing ones overseas as well. (If you missed Mary King’s Badminton save upon Imperial Cavalier the first time around, it’s totally worth a watch.)

Without further ado, here is a roundup of the year’s top saves. Review them (click the rider’s name for a full recap of the incident) and vote for your favorite at the bottom!

Kelsey Wilkins and Cava at Virginia

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Photo by Brant Gamma.

Maddie Parisan and Hope to Star at Young Riders

Maddie Parisan and Hope to Star at Young Riders. Photo by Maddie Mosing.

Photo by Maddie Mosing.

Gina Miles and SVR Ron at Woodside

Another bridle malfunction?! Photo via Gina Miles' Facebook page, by Liz Hall

Photo by  Liz Hall.

Emily Macauley and Medici at Cobblestone Farms H.T. 

Emily Macauley & Medici at Cobblestone Farms H.T. in July. Photo by Ethan Macauley.

Photo by Ethan Macauley.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice at Rebecca Farm

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Photo by Jessica Kerschbaumer.

Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow at Fair Hill

Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow at Fair Hill. Photo by Lauren Sumner.

Photo by Lauren Sumner.

Avery Klunick and It It to Win It at the AECs

Caroline Martin and Effervescent at Chatt Hills

Go Eventing!

9 Totally Random Moments From Our Virtual Office Christmas Party

What does it look like when a handful of Horse Nation and Eventing Nation writers get together (online) for a drink(s) and some Secret Santa gift swapping?

We set out to find the answer this week, which is best encapsulated by the following screenshots. Our favorite random moments in no particular order:

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">MemeCenter_1419447541897_462MemeCenter_1419446639946_718From all of us here at Nation Media, Merry Christmas!

7 Little Girls Freaking Out Because They Got a Horse For Christmas

Combing YouTube for videos of surprise Christmas horses is a much-beloved holiday tradition over on our sister site, Horse Nation, and something we always share on EN too. Grab some tissues and cry along!

From squealing to screaming to sobbing to standing frozen in a state of shock, these reactions to getting The Best Present Ever are priceless.

First up, we’ve got the happy weepers:

And the surprised squealer:

And the girl who just can’t stop jumping up and down:

And the  one who is stunned speechless:

And last but not least, because you’re never too old to be a horse-crazy little girl:

Merry Christmas, Horse Nation. Go Riding.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Eventing Edition

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Is that Donner the Reindeer? Read on to find out!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the farm

not an event horse was stirring in Lynn Symansky’s barn.

All the bridles were hung on their racks with care

horses wondering, “We’re getting tomorrow off, right? That only seems fair.”

Donner was nestled all snug in his stall

plotting his 2015 event calendar: Rolex in the spring, Burghley in the fall

and maybe, just maybe, if all goes according to plan

on an Olympic podium his mom could in 2016 stand.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter

Donner sprang up from the ground to see what was the matter.

The barn lights clicked on and Donner peered out his stall

to see a gang of reindeer marching down the hall.

“Yeah, that’s him,” said the one with the glowing red nose.

“Hey Donner!” he exclaimed, and Donner’s heart froze.

“There’s been a mistake!” Donner neighed in desperate plea.

“I’ve heard of the guy you’re looking for — it’s not me!”

But Rudolph, he wouldn’t take no for an answer

nor would Vixen, Cupid, Blitzen, Dasher or Dancer.

Donner followed them outside, his head hung low.

“Mom’s gonna kill me,” he sighed as he walked through the snow.

But then, to his surprise, what did he spot?

A familiar face among Rudolph’s flock!

“Courageous Comet, is that you, dude?” Donner neighed

to a familiar looking, confused-faced gray.

Comet said, “Yeah man, I guess they needed a sub …

a couple of the reindeer have abscesses or something, welcome to the club.”

They stood motionless as Santa hooked them onto the sled

staring up at the sky with a terrible dread.

But Santa, he knew how to make this crowd fly:

“3, 2, 1 … Have a great ride!”

They took off galloping and at the moment when Santa clucked

They gathered their courage, rocked back on their haunches and jumped.

“Hey,” Donner said, “this almost feels like a dream”

Comet snorted: “I guess you could say we made the team!”

For hours they ran and jumped with no regrets

and it made them thankful for all those long trot sets.

At the end of the night Santa dropped them back at the farm

just before the sound of Lynn and Becky’s alarms.

They dozed off, happy memories filling their heads …

saving Christmas was (almost) as fun as country country at WEG!

Merry Christmas and Go Eventing!

Six Steps to Staying Warm This Winter Thanks to SmartPak

Stay warm this winter with SmartPak! Photo courtesy of SmartPak. Stay warm this winter with SmartPak! Photo courtesy of SmartPak.

Dreading the onset of winter? We’re feeling a little more prepared thanks to these cold weather essentials from our good friends at SmartPak. Here are six steps to staying warm this winter:

Step 1: Start with a base layer.

And no, we’re not talking about the bulky waffle-weave long johns you wore as a kid. Under Armour HeatGear Authentic Tights fit easily under your breeches to create the ultimate high-performance base layer, offering comfort and added compression to keep you dry and warm.

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Step 2: Find a great pair of winter breeches.

It’s harder than it sounds, we know — many of them are either too stiff, too baggy, too slick, too thick, or too weird-fitting to be appealing. Allow us to introduce you to SmartPak Winter Full Seat Pull on Tights and SmartPak Winter Knee Patch Pull on Tights. They look great, feel great and will keep you warm in the saddle all winter long.

On the coldest of cold winter days, add one more outer layer — the SmartPak Winter Overpant — for total protection from the elements.

Step 3: Layer, layer, layer!

How to do so without looking and feeling like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man? Stick with layers that are lightweight and flexible yet warm, like the Under Armour ColdGear Cozy Neck.

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Step 4: Give cold feet the boot.

The Solstice Winter Boots by SmartPak are designed for all-day, waterproof warmth, featuring a rugged, chunky outsole that offers great traction in winter’s worst weather and a cozy faux-fur lining. Available in five different styles:

Step 5: Top it all off with a snuggly coat.

Check out the Alexus Hipster Puffy Jacket by SmartPak — with 120 grams of fill and a wind and water resistant shell, it’s as functional as it is stylish.

Or the waterproof, breathable and insulated SmartPak Winter Jacket.

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Step 6: Accessorize!

Check out SmartPak’s selection of warm winter riding gloves ...

… headbands …

… neckwarmers …

… and hats.

Got that, EN? I don’t know about you, but I feel a little warmer already.

Go SmartPak, and Go Eventing!

 

 

The New 2015 USEF Dressage Tests If Written By Your Horse

You're doing it wrong. Illustration by Morgane Schmidt. You're doing it wrong. Illustration by Morgane Schmidt.

This post originally appeared on Horse Nation

Big things tend to happen on quadrennial cycles. I guess four just seems like a nice, well-rounded number, not too short and not too long. Every four years, like clockwork, we get a U.S. presidential election, the Olympics, Feb. 29 and, most importantly, new USEF dressage tests.

The tests, which are effective Dec. 1, 2014, through Nov. 30, 2018, were published this week on USEF.org. You can view them online here.

As you are probably well aware, horses and humans don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to the sport of dressage. For years the equine constituency has been actively campaigning for dressage test revisions they feel would be more “fair” and were disappointed to see that, once again, their suggestions were not included in the newest set of tests.

In their opinion, for instance, the progression of movements ought to closer resemble this:

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All across the country, they argue, dressage scores would go through the roof. No longer would scores of 90% and up be out of reach for all but the Valegros and Totilases of the world. Dressage, once thought of as an elitist discipline, would become accessible to everyhorse, no matter how well-bred or well-trained. Through sheer will and perseverance alone, we could all strive for and achieve greatness in the upper echelons of the sport.

But new tests are just the tip of the iceberg. Nine out of 10 dressage horses agree that a complete overhaul of the sport is in order. A few of their suggestions as illustrated by Morgane Schmidt, mastermind behind The Idea of Order (go check out her Facebook page here).

First, a more sensible arrangement of dressage letters:

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Or, better yet, the elimination of dressage letters altogether.

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Also, the judge’s box ought to be renamed.

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And last but not least, riders should be “optional.”

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Sorry horses. There’s always 2018. For now, here’s the complete official public service announcement from the nice people at USEF:

2015 USEF Dressage Tests Published

Lexington, Ky. — The 2015 United States Equestrian Federation Dressage Tests have been published on USEF.org. The 2015 Tests will be effective December 1, 2014 through November 30, 2018.

In addition to the 2015 USEF Dressage Test booklet, the USEF has collaborated with the United States Dressage Federation to produce the On the Levels app, which provides examples of the new Introductory through Fourth level dressage tests with commentary from top U.S. trainers and judges, with segments geared toward improving difficult movements at each level. The mobile website will feature 31 engaging videos to help riders understand the requirements for tests within each level, including 18 videos of riders performing each test and 13 supplementary test tip videos. The videos will include narration from top athletes, judges, and trainers, including Kathy Connelly, Jan Ebeling, Hilda Gurney, Steffen Peters, and Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate, each bringing his/her own unique perspective, providing the viewer with a variety of approaches. The launch of the On the Levels app will be announced next week.

To view the 2015 USEF Dressage Tests, visit:
https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/alldressage/2015dressageTests.aspx.

To order the 2015 Dressage Test Booklet, visit:
https://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/DressageBookletOrderForm.pdf.

To view the 2015 USDF Tests, visit:
http://www.usdf.org/competitions/competitors/tests.asp.

In addition to the new USEF and USDF Dressage Tests, all FEI Tests have minor updates in the wording of the Collective Marks as well as changes to the FEI Children, FEI Intermediate A, and FEI Intermediate B Tests. These tests become effective January 1, 2015, and can be found here: http://fei.org/fei/your-role/organisers/dressage/tests.

Go Riding!

Clinic Report: Schooling with Sinead Halpin

Erika Adams and Katherine McDonough submitted this glowing report from a clinic with Sinead Halpin last weekend in East Tennessee. Erika is an area trainer who had several students participating, and Katherine made great strides in one of the Training-level groups with her very cool new-ish ride, Red. Thank you, Erika and Katherine, for sharing your experience! If you have a clinic report to share, send it to tips@eventingnation.com.

Sinead looks on as Shannon O'Hatnick and Solar Flare jump a roll top. Photo by Kaylen Moon. Sinead looks on as Shannon O'Hatnick and Solar Flare jump a roll top. Photo by Kaylen Moon.

From Erika and Katherine:

On what could have possibly been the last beautiful autumn weekend before winter, 24 riders gathered at River Glen Equestrian Park just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, for a two-day clinic with Sinead Halpin.

Riders from Starter to Intermediate were challenged through gymnastic exercises on Saturday and cross-country questions on Sunday. A true test of any clinician is to be able to challenge a diverse group of riders and horses.

Sinead was able to outline five essential areas of training needed to be successful at any level, two of which were speed and direction. Whether riders were accomplished eventers on three-year olds, or new eventers on accomplished horses, every horse and rider pair found an area of weakness within the same exercise.

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Day One – Gymnastics

On Saturday, riders were tested on their speed and direction through a series of gymnastic exercises that required elasticity and accuracy. In the lower levels, speed and direction were the focus. Riders needed to maintain a steady pace in order to be able to execute the direction of the forward motion.

Riders commonly found themselves with either the correct speed, or the correct direction, but not both. They would either be too fast to negotiate the turns, or be able to turn, but have weak distances. Sinead helped the riders identify these weaknesses, and gave them tools to correct the issues at hand.

Here is Val Gibbons with Dawson’s Creek successfully going through the warm-up portion of the gymnastic exercise. Notice that she accurately puts five strides between the ground rails the cross-rail oxer on the way down but four on the return.

The upper level groups worked over the exact same series of exercises.  What was a question of speed and direction in the lower divisions turned into identifying the different canters you need to ride a line.

These groups started out with the same warm-up as the lower-level groups, and progressed on to riding a series of fences where they had to change their step based on requirements given by Sinead. A distance of four, five or six strides were possible on a bending line and were determined by the canter the rider had.

Here is Katherine McDonough and her horse Irish Red putting five strides in the bending line.

Day 2 – Cross-Country

On Sunday, the lower levels learned about finding their balance in the three positions while out on cross-country: Cruising, Prep (aka neutral), and Sitting C. The riders in these groups learned to find a comfortable balance in the cruising position – up and off their horses’ backs.

After they acquired their balance, the riders applied these positions over cross-country obstacles. With this new balance, riders were able to find the security they needed to jump confidently.

Sinead also put an emphasis on the building blocks of cross-county to create confidence for horse and rider. By building a solid foundation for the green rider or horse, they are able to meet new challenges with more relaxation and “not sweating the small stuff.”

Here is Celsie Abelt with Dorito confidently dropping into the water in a very relaxed way.

This theory of keeping things calm, relaxed and confident was extended to the upper level groups. For example, every upper level rider jumped the Beginner Novice ditch. They jumped it repeatedly until the horse essentially took a canter stride over it rather than “jumping” it.

Sinead did not have riders add any complexity to the exercise (bigger ditches, adding related fences) until horse and rider were confident and relaxed over the small ditch. For some riders, the culmination of this exercise was going through the training coffin.

Other riders did the Training, Prelim and finally the Intermediate coffin, but riders did not move on until the exercise at hand was soft, confident, and relaxed.

Here is Leah Snowden’s first attempt over the Intermediate coffin after applying Sinead’s cross-country building blocks of confidence and relaxation to the smaller coffins.

Sinead was an absolute professional giving constructive criticism with a warm, positive and patient teaching style. Because she provided individualized instruction, every rider was able to improve through the weekend.

Everyone came away with things to think about and a big smile on their face.  A big thank you to Bill Graves for letting River Glen be the host site for the weekend — the grounds were the perfect place to hold the clinic.

Thank you also to Crossroads Dressage and Combined Training Society, thank you to the many volunteers who helped set up jumps, and especially thank you to our smiling, helpful friend Dave McAdoo. And finally, a huge thank you to Sinead for a great weekend! We’ll definitely see you next time!

 

FEI TV: Thrills & Spills on Pau XC

Some competitors made today’s cross-country course look like a cakewalk, most notably overnight leader Ingrid Klimke. “He played with the fences,” she told FEI TV. “It was pure fun.”

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Others, well…

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John Kyle was on the scene for FEI TV, bringing us all the action. Here’s some live footage, plus interviews with Ingrid and get-it-done superstar of the day Joseph Murphy of Ireland, the only rider to complete on two horses.

Click here for EN’s Pau cross-country play-by-play and here for our end-of-the-day cross-country report. Best of luck to everyone tomorrow and keep it locked here for the latest updates.

Go eventing!

 

Quiz: Which Olympic Gold Medal U.S. Eventing Team Should You Have Been On?

Bruce Davidson Sr. (USA) aboard JJ Babu. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License. Bruce Davidson Sr. (USA) aboard JJ Babu. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Take our quiz to find out! Keep track of your answers. You’ll need to tally them up at the end.

 

1. What kind of weather do you prefer?

A) Sunny and warm.

B) Chilly enough for an overcoat.

C) Sunscreen, umbrella, T-shirt, sweater — I’m prepared for anything.

 

2. What’s your favorite kind of cross-country terrain?

A) I’ve always wanted to gallop across a country club golf course.

B) Hilly and challenging.

C) Some meadow, some woods, some perfectly manicured turf … variety is the spice of life.

 

3) What is your preferred footing?

A) Dry, loamy soil topped with scrubby, greenish-brown grass.

B) Hard-as-a-brick army exercising ground compared to “concrete.”

C) Plush and green, ranging from perfect to a little bit muddy in spots.

 

4. How do you like your course?

A) Tough enough that 500 combined jumping and time penalties still lands you in the top 10.

B) “Fixed and quite formidable.” But so long as I can fall off, get back on and keep going, it’s cool.

C) Designed by a woman for the first time in history.

D) Modern course design is best but I sure do miss the long format.

 

5. Are you male or female?

A/B) I prefer the salutation “Lieutenant,” “Colonel” or “Captain.”

C/D) Why does it matter? Eventing is a gender-neutral sport.

 

6. What’s the best song?

A) “Night & Day” by Fred Astaire & Leo Reisman

B) “Twelfth Street Rag” by Pee Wee Hunt

C) “Dancing Queen” by ABBA

D) “Careless Whisper” by George Michael

 

67. What is your stance on protective headgear?

A) What’s that?

B) Nah.

C) I guess.

D) Sure, as long as I don’t have to wear a safety vest, too.

 

8. Which event would you most enjoy competing at?

A) Galway Downs

B) Badminton

C) Bromont

 

9. Which nation would you get the most satisfaction out of beating out of Olympic Gold?

A) The Netherlands — their stupid orange coats annoy me.

B) Sweden — they’re all so blonde and pretty, gah!

C) West Germany — you know that’s not even a thing anymore, right?

D) Great Britain — they invented the term “three-day event,” gotta take ‘em out.

 

10. Which international hardship would you be the most OK with enduring?

A) The Great Depression

B) Fallout from World War II

C) Apartheid

D) Really bad ’80s hair The Cold War

 

Which team did you make? Scroll down to find out …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you chose mostly As, you should have competed at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Your USA teammates:
Earl Foster Thomson & Jenny Camp
Harry Chamberlin & Pleasant Smiles
Edwin Argo & Honolulu Tomboy

Read the IOC Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Bs, you should have ridden at … the 1948 Olympics in London.

Your teammates:

Frank Henry & Swing Low
Charles Anderson & Reno Palisade
Earl Foster Thomson & Reno Rhythm

Read the IOC report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Cs, you should have competed at … the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Your teammates:

Edmund Coffin & Bally-Cor
Michael Plumb & Better & Better
Bruce Davidson & Irish-Cap
Mary Anne Tauskey & Marcus Aurelius

Read the IOC Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Ds with a few As mixed in, you should have competed at … the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Your teammates:

Michael Plumb & Blue Stone
Karen Stives & Ben Arthur
Torrance Fleischmann & Finvarra
Bruce Davidson & JJ Babu

Read the IOC Report.

#361 J. Michael Plumb from the United States aboard Bluestone. Photo by Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

J. Michael Plumb (USA) aboard Bluestone. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Torrance Fleischmann from the United States aboard Finvarra. Photo by Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Torrance Fleischmann (USA) aboard Finvarra. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Go Eventing!

14 Faces Eventers Make When We Think No One is Watching

This post originally appeared on Horse Nation.

When your trainer tells you to drop your stirrups and you think no one’s watching …

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When your horse does this thing he does that’s soooooo cute and you think no one’s watching …

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When you start daydreaming about your horse during a meeting and you think no one’s watching …

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When you got a little bit of sawdust up your nose and you think no one’s watching …

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When something comes up that prevents you from going to the barn and you think no one’s watching …

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When the competitor in front of you goes off course and you think no one’s watching …

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When you realize the vet forgot to include a farm call surcharge and you think no one’s watching …

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When you totally nailed that jump and you think no one’s watching …

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When you’re trying to read a note that somebody scrawled on the feed chart and you think no one’s watching …

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When you read this totally heartwarming story about a rescue horse who found a forever home and you think no one’s watching …

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When you submit your entry to the area championships and you think no one’s watching …

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When the barn manager calls to say your horse has come in with a gash on its leg and you think no one’s watching …

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When your SmartPak box gets delivered and you think no one’s watching …

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When it’s down to the final three competitors on show jumping day at Rolex and you think no one’s watching …

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Go Eventing!

Third Time’s a Charm for Woodside CIC3* Winners Bonner Carpenter & Basco

Bonner Carpenter and Basco at Woodside CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart. Bonner Carpenter and Basco at Woodside CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Bonner Carpenter came to Woodside looking for her first completion at the CIC3* level after a couple of unlucky attempts, but she’ll be driving home with a big blue ribbon on the dashboard. A double-clear cross-country trip was enough to move Bonner and Basco from second into first when overnight leader Bea di Grazia withdrew before cross-country.

“I went out there, honestly, just to get around,” Bonner explained in a press release. “But when I was on the early minute markers, I began to think that it would be possible, so I just kept going.”

The 26-year-old calls Dallas, Texas, home but has been in California since August in preparation for Galway Downs at the end of the month. It was her first time competing at Woodside and her first time tackling a Derek di Grazia course.

“I knew I had to be aggressive and ride forward to every jump. You have to be attacking all the way around,” she said. “But it really is a super course. Derek uses the terrain really well, and it feels like a huge galloping course.”

It’s been unseasonably toasty out there this weekend…

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Screenshot from woodsideeventing.com.

… prompting the ground jury to move the CIC3* cross-country start to 10:20 a.m. instead of the scheduled 1:20 p.m. Being a Texan, Bonner is used to the heat but was appreciative of the decision. “I think it was great that they changed it. It would have taken a lot more out of our horses to have gone in the afternoon,” she said.

In addition to glory, Bonner earned $3,000 along with the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and the CTETA Founders’ Cup, established to honor Robert E. Smith, whose vision established the Horse Park at Woodside in 1981. Since the CIC3* is a member event of the 2014 PRO Series Tour, she also walked away with a seven-dose box of Adequan, $350 in Nunn Finer products, a Smart Pak Wellfleet Eventer Bridle and $200 toward a Point Two Air Jacket. Nice haul, girl!

Second-place finishers James Alliston and Tivoli must feel like the rust has officially been knocked off, this being their second run since Rolex in 2013 and their first back at the Advanced level due to an injury.

James earned $2,250 for finishing second and, even though he and Tivoli won the Woodside CIC3* in 2012, he said he wasn’t at all disappointed.

“I figured I’d just take the time as it came, but he was right there from the start, so I just let him go,” said Alliston, who finished two seconds slow. “It’s amazing how older horses like him seem to remember everything. It was like he hadn’t had any time off.”

Like Bonner, James was thrilled with the way the course rode. “Derek is my favorite course designer,” he said. “He blends everything together into a complete course. I think he’s the best course designer in America, and maybe in the world.”

Kaitlin Veltkamp and Flashpoint D laid down a double-clear trip to round out the top three. Ashlynn Meuchel and Morning Star bested the small Advanced division.

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Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy hung on to their show jumping lead for the CIC2* win. As she mentioned yesterday, Lauren had two horses competing in the division and was hoping to get a feel for how fast the course was riding on her first mount, Ballingowan Ginger. The mare picked up a run-out but Lauren capitalized on the experience for her second ride on Castle, a new horse.

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

“I was going to be really brave today, and I got three-and-a-half strides instead of four strides to the wedge (at fence 10C), so she had no choice but to run past it. She jumped just great the rest of the way — I was bummed,” she said. “So I rode it differently on Purdy — I held for the four strides. I thought you were going to have to ride forward more to get the four strides, but you didn’t.”

Lauren trains with Derek di Grazia but he didn’t cut her any breaks on the course. “Wedges are my problem with Ginger, and his course uncovered it,” she said. “But there’s really no point on this course when you think, ‘OK, I’m home,’ until you get to the end. There are so many great questions, and he keeps you on your toes all the way around.”

She added, “I went out there with a plan, and it didn’t work out perfectly everywhere. But it still rode well, and I came off the course a little better rider because of the way he designed it.”

The 26-year-old lives in Sanger, California, but is a citizen of Puerto Rico and hopes to represent her home country in the 2016 Olympics. The next event on her calendar is CCI2* at Galway followed by a move-up to Advanced.

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CIC1* winner Frankie Thieriot had said yesterday that, this being 6-year-old Chatwin’s first FEI competition, she would decide how much to put the gas pedal down when she got out on course. Her first priority, she said, was to cement their partnership and to ride the course in a good rhythm whether that meant making it under the optimum time of 5:37 or not.

Frankie Thieriot and Chatwin. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Frankie Thieriot and Chatwin. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Chatwin came out swinging and ate up the course — Frankie even had to check him a bit toward the end.  “He was awesome,” she said. “His natural gallop is so big that we were up on the time at three minutes, so I slowed down to come home.”

Like Bonner and Lauren, Galway is the end-goal of Frankie’s 2014 season. “Even though he doesn’t have a lot of mileage, I thought Derek’s course was really good preparation for him to take the next step of doing the CCI1*,” Frankie said.

Continuing in Woodside’s tradition of rewarding its winners handsomely — a rarity in the event world! — Frankie received $1,000 for her first-place finish.

Top 15 finishers in the CIC1*:

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Frankie and her friends created a special award in 2011, the Fric Frac Berance Award, in memory of her former advanced-level horse. The award’s intent is to honor the horse in the CIC3* whose cross-country performance best emulates Fric Frac’s love for and cleverness at meeting the challenges of cross-country courses, jumping in a way that takes care of himself and his rider.

Frankie and a panel of three to five others choose the winner each year at the Woodside, and this year they chose Kaitlin Veltkamp’s Flashpoint D, a 13-year-old warmblood gelding whose faultless round propelled him to third place in the CIC3*, with no penalties added to his dressage score. The award comes with a $1,000 prize.

VIDEO:

Here’s CIC1* winner Frankie interviewing CIC3* winner Bonner after show-jumping yesterday. Perhaps now Bonner should interview Frankie?

Woodside International CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

Go Eventing!

Revenge Is Sweet for Colleen Rutledge in Morven Park CIC3*

A year ago this weekend at Morven Park, Colleen Rutledge was getting carted off the cross-country course in an ambulance. The horse she was riding in the Preliminary Championships toppled over a table, rolling over Colleen and fracturing her hip. The damage: surgery and a premature end to her competition year.

This weekend has been a very different narrative. Colleen and “CR” grabbed hold of the top spot in the CIC3* in the dressage and never let go, clinching the win despite a show jumping rail and 9.2 time cross-country. The twisty, muddy track took its toll on the field; there were no double-clears in either the CIC3* or Advanced divisions.

In her Morven Park preview EN fortune teller/statistician Maggie Deatrick called Colleen and CR her Dark Horse pick of the weekend, as their dressage has been competitive but they’ve had a hard to adding it all up on the cross-country. It seems to have all come together for them this weekend, though, and an extra congratulations is in order: Not only was this CR’s first FEI win, it was Colleen’s as well!

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Photo via the Morven Park International Equestrian Center Facebook page.

The pair has a neat story, which EN featured in 2012 in an edition of EN’s Got Talent. CR is a homebred and Colleen competed his dam, Let’s Get It Right, through Advanced. His sire is Lisa Reid’s BFF Incognito, a thoroughbred/Clydesdale cross, which is pretty fun fact as well — you don’t see too much Clydesdale blood at the three-star level!

Rounding out the top three in the CIC3* were Kate Samuels with Nyls Du Terroir in second and Sara Kozumplik Murphy with Fly Me Courageous in third.

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Cross-country time penalties shuffled the Advanced division leaderboard around dramatically, with the two fastest rounds of the day moving into the top two spots. Both Holly Payne and Never Outfoxed and Caroline Martin and Pebbly Maximus had just four faults apiece to move from fifth to first and seventh to second respectively. Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready won the dressage, dropped to second after a show jumping rail, and finished in third having come home with 12.8 time cross-country.

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Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow added nothing to their winning dressage score of 42.2 to win the CIC2*. This was the horse’s second CIC2*, the first being Plantation Field a couple weeks back where they dropped three rails to finish 34th in a competitive field. Boyd had the only double-clear cross-country round in the division, and Marilyn Little and RF West Indie posted the second fastest time with just two penalties. That was good enough to move them from third to second, with Kelly Prather and D. A. Duras rounding out the top three.

Top 15 CIC2* finishers:

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Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

 

 

 

 

How NOT to Jump Morven Park XC as Demonstrated by Adorable Animal GIFS

We thought we’d send the Morven Park competitors out of the box with a few reminders of what not to do on course. Here are some screenshots from this cool drone flyover of the course, aligned with GIFs of animals leaping similar obstacles in various states of FAIL. Take note, kids!

#5. Gate

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#6. Table

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#7A: Down bank

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#7B: Skinny

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#8. Ditch and wall

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#9A: Log roll

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#10B: Ditch

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#11: Brick wall

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs16

#19: Trakehner

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs4

#23: Brush jump

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs5

#18A: Jump into water

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs21

#18B: Up bank

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs6

 

Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Go Eventing!

Chattahoochee Hills Transforms to Host Music Festival TomorrowWorld

TomorrowWorld 2013. Photo via Wikimedia Commons. TomorrowWorld 2013. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Like a teenager hosting a raging kegger while the parents are out of town, Chattahoochee Hills took advantage of the eventing world’s mass exodus to the American Eventing Championships in Texas last weekend to stage — wait for it — a music festival.

And not just any music festival. A three day long superparty with well over 100 artists and 150,000 guests, many of whom camped on the grounds in a trippy pop-up city called “Dreamville.”

TomorrowWorld is a spinoff of TomorrowLand, a popular EDM event held annually in Belgium. EDM (that’s cool-kid speak for electronic dance music) has blown up over the past decade, the crest of the wave being a surge of EDM festivals all over the world. The scene: a  freak show of costumed young people exploring the cliff edge of sensory experience via a glow-stick illuminated fantasy world.

The whole thing is geared toward audiovisual overload, from frenetic light shows and psychedelic backdrops to neon-colored, well, everything. The centerpiece is the music, a mash-up of dance-y earworms and “doosh-doosh-d00sh” beats that some DJ named Skrillex or Diplo or whoever digitally stapled together on his laptop.

I’m not explaining it right. Just Google it or ask a college kid, OK?

The point is, this thing is held at Chattahoochee Hills, the otherwise bucolic Georgia event venue we eventers all know and love. Farm owner Carl Bouckart is from Belgium and, being a music enthusiast who has dipped his toes in the festival business on and off again over the years, had an idea after being shown around the original TomorrowLand by some festival-producer friends: What if Chatt Hills hosted an American spinoff?

It made sense. The farm is just a stone’s throw from Atlanta, which has long been a hotbed of the electronica scene. I could definitely incriminate a few now-professional eventers with a recounting of our capers as working students outside the city in the early 2000s, when the underground EDM scene was running full-throttle. We would duck out to raves in the warehouses and clubs of downtown Atlanta, returning to the farm just in time to feed the horses breakfast and get on with our day. Ah, to be young.

Carl Bouckart may not be the stereotypical rave kid you’d find bouncing around in front of a speaker in cutoff jean shorts and a headdress, but he’s young at heart — and his energy is infectious. He liked what was going on at TomorrowLand — he told Atlanta Magazine“TomorrowLand is a place where youths from all over the world can share [music and happiness]. It’s the Olympic Games of the music world” — and wanted to see it in his backyard.

The ball started rolling and, after reviewing nearly 100 potential sites, the large-scale EDM production company ID&T announced that Chatt Hills would be the venue for TomorrowLand’s American cousin, TomorrowWorld. The inaugural festival in 2013 was a hands-down success, drawing 140,000 visitors from more than 75 countries and all 50 states. It even earned a nomination for Best Music Event at the International Dance Music Awards.

According to Atlanta’s alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing, “The site was selected because it recalled the pastoral beauty of the Belgian countryside where it all began.” And weird as it might seem to us us horse people, the venue works. Chatt Hills’ “mythical grounds,” to quote the website, have been widely praised both by festival-goers and the media.

In a review of the 2014 event, Vice wrote of Chatt Hills’ “stunning setting in the hills of northern Georgia, parallel to none in terms of lushness beauty … Like TomorrowLand, TomorrowWorld makes good use of its natural environment, tucking stages into wooded areas and nestling others around ponds and other bodies of water. At night, the effect of lights and sound is enchanting as cool breezes guide ravers to roam across the sprawl of the grounds.”

Among the roaming ravers were Ashley Kehoe and her eventing crew. She kindly sent us a few photos …

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Ashley writes, “VIP pool deck built over the XC course? CRAZY.”

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That thing that looks like a mountain in the background is actually a stage.

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Recognize this pond without the cartoon fish and lily pad fountains?

Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care...

Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care…

Magic mushroom forest, nbd.

Magic mushroom forest, nbd.

Naturally, Carl was in attendance as well. When Atlanta Magazine asked him whether he’d be out there dancing with glowsticks, Carl’s response was classic: “You bet you will. We have a lot of friends coming, and we plan to have more fun than anybody.”

Go check out some crazy festival photos on the TomorrowWorld Facebook page. Go Eventing.

Hat tip to Hannah Reinke for the tip!

Well Wishes For Beloved Area VIII Trainer Nadeem Noon

Photo via the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page. Photo via the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page.

The eventing community is rallying around Nadeem Noon, a cornerstone of Area VIII eventing who is suffering from a serious condition called Amyloidosis, which has caused serious damage to his heart and other vital organs.

Nadeem is a warm, friendly presence at events who has guided countless students toward accomplishing their riding goals from his Up-n-Over Stables in Bloomington, Ind. In addition to competing through the three-star level in eventing and Prix St. Georges in dressage, he is a USEA Level 3 Certified Instructor and coached the Indiana University Equestrian Hunt Seat Team for over 20 years.

Photo via Nadeem Noon's Facebook page.

Photo via Nadeem Noon’s Facebook page.

From the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page:

“A group of area eventers/dressage riders are coordinating efforts to assist a well-known member of our equestrian community, Nadeem Noon. Nad is suffering from a condition called Amyloidosis. This condition causes serious changes in virtually every organ of the body, including the kidneys, heart, and lungs. Nad has experienced significant damage to his heart, but is unable to be placed on the donor list for a new heart, as his other organs have also been compromised.

“In an effort to offset the significant medical expenses and loss of income, Nadeem has become eligible to receive funds via the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF). For those who are not familiar with the EAF, it is a 501(c)3 organization started by prominent equine professionals in 1996. Its mission is to provide grant-based assistance to horsemen and equine-related professionals suffering from illness or catastrophic injuries.

“The EAF is dedicated to helping people of all ages and from all backgrounds and disciplines, offering funding for medical, rehabilitation and essential expenses. Financial support from EAF is provided directly to the petitioning equestrian or their representative. Funds donated to EAF are used to provide various essentials that may include medical needs, health insurance, food and housing, transportation, physical therapy and more.

“Last weekend at the Flying Cross event, trainers donated their time by holding course walks in which all proceeds went to the EAF. We hope to continue this and other EAF fund-raising efforts at events over the next several months.

“In a note read at the Flying Cross Competitor’s party, Nad wrote, ‘We are all so very fortunate to enjoy the camaraderie, fellowship, and support of the wonderful people who surround us today. Take a moment to look around and notice all that we have here: caring generous instructors, devoted hard-working students, sacrificing parents, tireless volunteers and, of course, the horses that elevate us to dizzying heights. I am thankful beyond words to be part of the community of incredible individuals.’

Please join us in our support of Nadeem Noon. We love you, Nad!”

You can help by making a donation to the Equestrian Aid Foundation. Please leave the memo line of the check blank and send to Attn: Nadeem Noon Support Fund at Bearded Dog Farms (20761 County Line Road / Sheridan, IN, 46069),  Mary Lowry at Alta Vista Farms (2114 Liberty Lane / Goshen, KY, 40026) or Flying Cross Farms (9220 Hwy. 42 / Skylight, KY, 40026), or to Linda Kimbell or Chris Duke. Please mark “Attn: Nadeem Noon Support Funds” on your envelope only.

In addition to direct donations, other fundraising efforts are underway. Visit the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page for details. Our thoughts are with Nadeem, his family and friends during this difficult time. Up ‘n’ over, Nadeem!