Leslie Wylie
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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!

Welcome to Eventing Nation, Total Saddle Fit!

We are very excited to announce our newest member of the EN sponsor dream team, Total Saddle Fit.

Eventing Nation “residents” live all around the world and represent every riding discipline imaginable, but there’s one common denominator that ties us all together: Our love for our horses and a shared desire to keep them happy and healthy.

That extends to making sure they feel comfortable in their tack… even if it means losing our own minds in the process.

Illustration by Morgane Schmidt/The Idea of Order — check out her comics every Wednesday on Horse Nation!

Illustration by Morgane Schmidt/The Idea of Order — check out her comics every Wednesday on Horse Nation!

Thankfully, technology is fast evolving to meet our efforts in the middle. Enter Total Saddle Fit, a manufacturer of high-end equestrian products with an emphasis on intuitive designs that make horses happier and more comfortable.

“Whether it is improving saddle fit, protecting a horse’s back or simply a more comfortable piece of tack, everything we do just makes sense. And you can always be sure you are getting top-shelf quality. We stand behind our products’ function and quality so much that every item carries a 30-day 110% money back promise… yes you read that right, we will give you more than you spent if you aren’t satisfied!”

That’s a company that believes in its products, and we do too.

Total Saddle Fit understands that correct saddle fit involves more than the saddle proper. You’ve got to take into account the big picture — girths and saddle pads included.

Total Saddle Fit’s Shoulder Relief Girth line emphasizes shoulder freedom, utilizing an intelligent design that allows for full range of shoulder motion under saddle. It promotes elbow comfort as well, thanks to recessed ends that move the girth away from the horse’s shoulder.

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Less expensive and longer lasting than a flocking adjustment, it’s the best $124 you’ll ever spend on saddle fit. The girths are available in black, brown and chestnut in both jumping and dressage styles — check out the full line here.

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Shoulder Relief Girth in Limited Edition Chestnut.

Saddle pads are also a critical component of proper saddle fit. Total Saddle Fit’s Six Point Saddle Pads are anatomically designed to adjust saddle balance and weight distribution to the shape of your horse’s back. They feature 100% sheepskin and a whopping six shimming options so you can fit your saddle to your horse just like a professional saddle fitter would with a flocking adjustment.

The pads are available in half…

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Six Point Saddle Pad – Sheepskin Half Pad

… and full-pad styles, in dressage and jumping shapes with and without sheepskin.

Six Point Saddle Pad

Six Point Saddle Pad – AP/Jump

Have a high withered horse? Check out the optional Wither Relief Technology, which removes pressure from the withers and trapezius muscles and allows for more pommel clearance.

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Wither Freedom Sheepskin Half Pad (also available in Full Pad style)

We’re excited to welcome Total Saddle Fit on board and we know our readers are, too! We encourage you to learn more and shop on Total Saddle Fit’s website here, and be sure to “like” them on Facebook as well.

Go Total Saddle Fit, and Go Riding!

Burghley at 300 Frames Per Second

Screenshot from Screenshot from "Burghley Horse Trials 2014" by Centaur Biomechanics.

Watching cross-country in realtime, everything happens so fast that it’s hard to comprehend the countless turning cogs that ultimately produce a successful — or unsuccessful — jump. The more experienced and educated your eye, the better your ability to deconstruct that blur of motion into an assembly line of actions that culminate in a specific result. But even the best eye in the world can’t physically slow down time in order to get a better look. A high-speed camera, however, can.

Centaur Biomechanics made a big splash when it came onto the equestrian scene in 2006 because its purported purpose was to do exactly that: take horse and rider performance analysis to a new level using the latest video technology.

Led by British biomechanical scientist Russell Guire, the company uses high-speed cameras 20 times faster than the human eye to objectively quantify equine behavior. The footage Centaur has gathered has helped advance research and further our understanding of the equine biomechanics. For instance, did you know that the force going through a horse’s limbs on landing from an Advanced-level jump equals about two-and-a-half times its body weight?

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Centaur was out in full force at Burghley — check out their footage:

[CentaurBiomechanics]

Go Eventing!

Event Horse Names, Part 5: Celebrity Edition

Eventers name their horses after the darnedest things. Thus far in this series, we’ve singled out hundreds of USEA-registered event horses named after  literary references, boozeeventing empires and monster trucks. Today we turn our gaze toward horses named after celebrities and other pop culture icons.

Let’s kick things off with a few event horses whose namesakes are Hollywood stars: George Clooney, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Redford, Tom Cruise, Bridgette Bardot, Jimmy Stewart, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Cosby and Charlie Chaplain. I bet hearing over the horse show loudspeaker that you’re “riding George Clooney” just never gets old.

Others have named their horses after characters rather than actors. While combing the USEA horse database I stumbled across a Ron Burgundy, Cosmo Kramer, Napoleon Dynamite, Jack Sparrow, Tony Stark, Forrest Gump, Vincent Vega, The Fonz and Austin Powers.

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Sorry Jessica.

There’s a whole subset of  horses named after bands and musicians: Lady Gaga, Mazzy Star, Mick Jagger, Ringo Star, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, will.i.am, Will Smith, Steeley Dan, Johnny Rotten, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Snoop Diggity Dog, Bob Marley, Tina Turner, Jimmy Buffet, Eminem, Cher, Springsteen, Bono, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. I went to one horse trial where two horses named after rival jam bands, Widespread Panic and Phish, just happened to be competing against one another. And we’ve got to give an honorable mention to horses named after bad song puns (I’m Rexy and I Know It) and Katy Perry lyrics (Shake The Glitter Off).

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Fashion designers are another popular source for names: There’s a CoCo Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Giovanni Versace and Georgio Armani.

Moving right along, let’s hit up the oval office — is there anyone more famous, really, than the president? I found an Obama, Ron Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Mister President, Jackie O and — wait for it — a Monica Lewinsky.

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I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface here. Does your horse have a celebrity-inspired name? Share in the comments section below!

WEG Remix: A Pink Coat Among Pinque Coats

Sanna Siltakorpi and Lucky Accord at WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Sanna Siltakorpi and Lucky Accord at WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

World championship competition is not generally the time when riders let their fashion freak flag fly. But that didn’t stop Finnish eventer Sanna Siltakorpi from donning a hot-pink coat, blinged out helmet and purple stirrups in the show jumping phase at WEG.

The 27-year-old and her Swedish Warmblood gelding, Lucky Accord, pulled one rail to finish in 27th place individually. I stalked her a little bit online and it appears that pink is a recurring theme in the girl’s life — her cross-country helmet cover has big pink stars and a pink pompom, and a photo on the homepage of her website shows her rocking some fuchsia breeches. I guess since Finland did not field a team, she was like, “What the heck, I’m gonna do me.”

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Equestrian fashion is slowly liberating itself from the conservative, George Morris-approved dress code of yesteryear. Europe is leading the charge but hints of “self-expression” are starting to show up here in the States as well. Love Sanna’s look? Here are a few items inspired by her look:

Top row: Animo Leon Jacket, $642 from Animo; Alexis Riding Top by SmartPak, $79.95 from SmartPak; Lorenzini Original Aluminum/Titanium Stirrups in Purple, $265.95 from SmartPak. Bottom Row: Sox Trot Socks in Rae, $8.95 from SmartPak; Tredstep Symphony No. 1 Argenta Full Seat Breech, $229.95 from SmartPak; Custom Samshield Helmet in Pink Flower Swarovski, $1,418 from Samshield.

befunky_artwork.jpgOr, if you really want to take it to the next level…

befunky_artwork.jpgGo Sanna. Go Eventing.

Le French Chinch’s Adventures in Normandy

The world’s most well-traveled chinchilla added yet another stamp to his passport when he made a celebrity appearance last week at the World Equestrian Games.

Chinch has always had a keen interest in WWII…

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…so he jumped at the opportunity to accompany EN on its WEG journey.

After making a brief public appearance…

…he headed to the press room, where he was fawned over by the foreign press…

…tweeted by the FEI…

…and cursed by IT.

Undeterred, we sent him out into the field on some top-secret missions, including helping William Fox-Pitt win the dressage…

… taste-testing local cuisine…

…and generally serving as an ambassador for ‘Murican cheer.

Where in the world will the Chinch show up next? There’s no telling. Be the first to find out by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Go Eventing!