Leslie Wylie
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Leslie Wylie


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5 Last-Minute Horsey Christmas Gifts for Under $20

Procrastination happens, especially to horse people. Between work and the barn and everything else you’re trying with varying degrees of success to juggle in your life, you have approximately seven minutes to yourself at the end of day, which is just enough time for not much at all.

Unfortunately — and we hate to be the ones to drop this bomb on you — Christmas is just around the corner. So the time to wrap up that shopping you’ve been putting off is now.

Still stumped on what to get that special trainer/farrier/vet/eventing buddy in your life? Here are a few places to turn for fast, easy and inexpensive yet awesome last-minute gift ideas.

The Liquor Store

Nothing says “thanks for putting up with my crap all year” like a bottle of good old-fashioned alcohol. Conveniently, several widely-distributed wine brands feature horses on the label: Wild Horse, Dark Horse, Leaping Horse, Firesteed and 14 Hands are all widely available, modestly priced and good-tasting.

My pick: the 14 Hands “Hot to Trot” Red Blend. It’s polished and bright with aromas of cherry, ripe berries and plum, a well-rounded wine that’s perfect for both special occasions (“Hey! I made the Olympic team!”), or for no real reason at all (“Hey! I didn’t fall off in my lesson this week!”)


Photo via 14 Hands Winery

The Drug Store

The neighborhood Walgreens or CVS is an annual destination for crunch-time holiday shoppers looking to dazzle their loved ones with some “as seen on TV” gadget and a singing Hallmark card. With a little thought and creativity, you can make it work for your 11th hour horsey gifting needs as well.

How about an abscess kit for a barnmate? Epsom salts, diapers, scissors and of course some crazy-print duct tape … all that fun stuff you can never find when you need it.


Photo via Duct Brand

The Grocery Store

Bake up a batch of homemade horse cookies, bag ’em up, and sneak them into your barnmates’ tack trucks. Boom! Christmas. Amanda Uechi Ronan compiled a list of recipes for Horse Nation here. Banana-glazed apple, apple and oat chewies, oatmeal carrot crunchies … they sound good enough to eat yourself.

Ain’t got time for baking? No horse ever complained about receiving a gift bag of carrots, apples and peppermints.

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

Photo via Pixabay/Creative Commons


Not only are SmartPak gift cards quick and easy (click here, fill out a few details and … voila!), you can have them emailed straight to the recipient’s inbox. They arrive the same day, which is handy in the event that it’s Dec. 25 at 10 p.m. and you suddenly realize you forgot someone on your horsey gift-giving list.

They’re available in any amount from $10 to $1,000 and you can even add a thoughtful message, like, “Of course I didn’t forget your Christmas present! You’re the best farrier in the world! (p.s. Esprit lost a shoe if you wouldn’t mind tacking that back on tomorrow.)”


Photo via SmartPak.

A Good Cause

Make a donation to a local horse rescue or other organization in their honor. These days most 501(c)(3)s accept donations online and will happily send your recipient a personalized greeting card acknowledging the gift. No matter how much or little you are able to give, it will be greatly appreciated. Bonus points if you donate to a cause that is meaningful to the giftee, like an OTTB rescue for the owner of a Thoroughbred.

Screenshot: New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.

Screenshot via New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program

Go Shopping (like, right now).

EN’s 12 Days of Christmas: AirMesh Body Protector by Airowear

EN’s “12 Days of Christmas” series been wildly popular this year, and if you haven’t won yet you’ve still got three more chances!

Today’s giveaway: an AirMesh Body Protector by Airowear

The AirMesh is the most highly ventilated BETA 2009 Level 3 body protector in Airowear’s high performance line, featuring a sporty mesh covering that allows for enhanced airflow across the rider’s torso. With lightweight foam that molds closer to the body than ever before, the AirMesh is designed to provide the ultimate in comfort and safety.

The AirMesh is available in black or grey. Gender-specific sizing in slim and regular allows for the best and most truly customized fit.

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

Tryon WEG Day and Weekend Passes on Sale Wednesday

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

All Session Weekend Passes and a limited supply of re-released All Session Day Passes for the 2018 World Equestrian Games go on sale tomorrow! Come and get ’em starting at 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

All Session Weekend Passes allow the ticket holder access to all WEG competitions during the selected weekend. They are available for September 15-16 ($430) and September 22-23 ($305).

All Session Day Passes, which grant access to all WEG competitions on a single weekday, went on sale in October 2017 and sold out after one day. Now, by popular demand, they’re back — in limited supply. Organizers are releasing an additional 500 passes per event day on a first come, first served basis for the dates of September 12 ($175), 19 ($100), 20 ($105) and 21 ($180). All Session Day Passes for September 13 and 14 are sold out due to meeting capacity for Eventing Dressage on both days.

The only eventing-specific ticket option currently available is the All Session Eventing Pass ($225), which grants access to all sessions of WEG eventing competition. These are still available, but if you want to be sure you have a ticket on lock we’d advise ordering soon.

“The 2018 WEG is expected to be the largest sporting event in the United States and fourth largest in the world in 2018 and should be on everyone’s to-do list for next year. We are anticipating a sold-out event,” says Mark Bellissimo, Founder and CEO of Tryon International Equestrian Center.

Other options: If you have interest in watching other disciplines in addition to eventing, you could spring for an All Sessions Full Games Pass ($1,380), which gets you into all disciplines throughout the duration of WEG, or an All Games Pass – Week 1 ($750), which is good for the first week of competition from Tuesday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Eventing runs Thursday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 16; reining and dressage also take place during week 1.

Note that an 8.5% processing fee will be added to all ticket prices upon checkout.

Here’s the eventing schedule:

Thursday, September 13: Eventing Dressage Day 1 – Team & Individual Competition
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Friday, September 14: Eventing Dressage Day 2 – Team & Individual Competition
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 15: Eventing Cross-Country – Team & Individual Competition
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 16: Eventing Show Jumping – Team & Individual Medals
2:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

The 2018 World Equestrian Games will be held Sept. 11 through Sept. 23 at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C. For full ticketing information, visit the website here. Check out WEG Ticketing FAQ here.

[Day and Weekend Passes for FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Sale December 20]

Weekend Instagram Roundup: Snow Daze

Not everybody is into winter wonderlands. Exhibit A: Dom Schramm …

Posted by Dominic Schramm on Friday, December 15, 2017

That guy is NOT a happy camper. Exhibit B: Alexandra Brackin …


“It’s beginning to look a lot like I need to be in Aiken” = photo caption of the week. But like it or loathe it, you’ve got to admit that snowfall makes for some magical Instagram photos. Like these!

Squidventures in snow, captured by @anna_honeycutt1999. #squidstyle

A post shared by Maggie Deatrick (@comediceventing) on



Go Eventing!

EN’s 12 Days of Christmas: Harwich Flash Bridle by SmartPak

Photo courtesy of SmartPak.

Welcome to day eight of EN’s 12 Days of Christmas! Today we’re giving away a Harwich Flash Bridle from our awesome sponsor SmartPak.

Your horse’s good-looking face deserves the best! The Harwich Bridle offers outstanding quality and features a traditional design with sophisticated, subtle treatments. Crafted from durable vegetable-tanned leather, your horse will appreciate the comfort of its padded noseband, browband and monocrown. We love the rich walnut brown color, set off by white stitching and stainless steel hardware. It comes with 54″ rubber reins.

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

12 Days of Christmas: Draper Equine Therapy Leg Health Prize Pack

Photos courtesy of Draper Equine Therapy.

We eventers place a lot of demands on our horses’ delicate little legs — so we better take good care of them! Draper Equine Therapies makes it easy with a line of products containing Celliant, a proprietary fiber loaded with a potent mix of thermo-reactive minerals. It recycles and converts radiant body heat into infrared energy which gives the body a measurable boost. The results:

Better endurance
Faster recovery
Enhanced performance
Increased speed
Improved strength
Increased stamina

Your horse deserves ALL of those things for Christmas! So today we’re giving away a leg health prize pack that includes Draper Equine Therapy No Bow Wraps AND Draper Equine Therapy Hock Boots.

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

Thursday Video: SmartPak ‘Ask the Vet’ on Liniments vs. Poultices

Liniments vs. poultices, poultices vs. liniments … how to know which one to use and when? In this episode of SmartPak’s “Ask the Vet,” Dr. Lydia Gray and SmartPaker Sarah answer a reader question about the two products. Dr. Gray also explains why it’s important to know what you’re doing and read the label of the product you’re using.

We know that nobody is more obsessed with keeping their horses’ legs happy and healthy than eventers, so this one goes out to you! What are your most tried-and-trusted products, and how often do you use them? Chime in via the comments section below.

Never stop learning! If you have a burning horse health question for Sarah and Dr. Gray to answer in a future episode, you can submit in the following ways: comment on the YouTube video and tag your question #AskTheVet, or post your questions on SmartPak’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by visiting the SmartPak blog — don’t forget the hashtag! Questions can be submitted directly via [email protected] or at the Ask the Vet Questions submission site.

Bonus: if your question is selected, you win a SmartPak gift card!


#TBT: EN Christmas Carols — Whose Socks Are These? (2015)

Embarrassing top riders with bad Christmas carol parodies and/or elf-yourself videos is a time-honored EN holiday tradition. Two years ago our victim was 2015 USEA Overall Rider of the Year, Buck Davidson, performed to the tune of “What Child Is This?” Enjoy!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Whose Socks Are These?

Whose socks are these, who’ve come to jog

upon this hard dirt surface?

Which ground juries greet with glances discreet

and they make other riders nervous.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

This, this is Buck Davidson

for whom horses jump and dressage bells ring.

Haste, haste across cross-country,

this Buck, the son of Bruce Sr.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beach. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beach at Boekelo 2015, where he helped lead the U.S. team to a 2nd-place Nations Cup finish. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Where lies he now on the leaderboard 

of all U.S. event riders?

104.5 points above the pack —

could the gap be any wider?

Source: USEA.

2015 overall leaderboard. Source: USEA.

Broken ribs, he doesn’t care —

he just keeps winning everywhere.

Hail, hail this bionic man

this Buck, the son of Bruce Sr.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM at the Richland Park CIC3*, which they won even after Buck was injured in a cross-country fall on a different horse the day before. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM at the Richland Park CIC3*, which they won even after Buck was injured in a cross-country fall on a different horse the day before. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

So bring him now horse after horse,

his groom must be exhausted.

8, 10 entries, he’ll tackle the course —

nobody knows how he does it

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Bailey Moran.

Did we mention that, between the CIC3*, CCI2*, CIC2* and Advanced divisions, he was riding nine horses that weekend? Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM at Richland Park. Photo by Bailey Moran.

Raise, raise the jumps up high,

his only limit is the sky.

Here’s to a baller 2016 2018

for Buck, the son of Bruce Sr.

12 Days of Christmas: Deluxe Friction Free Dressage Pad From Success Equestrian

Good morning, EN, and welcome to day three of EN’s 12 Days of Christmas! Up for grabs today: a Deluxe Dressage Friction Free Saddle Pad from our star sponsor Success Equestrian.

If you want your horse to slink around the dressage arena with cat-like suppleness …

… you’ve got to treat his body like a prince.

The Deluxe Dressage Friction Free saddle pad is as pampering on an equine back as it gets. The latest design incorporates a silky-soft fabric liner for friction-free contact on your horse. The 1.5cm open cell foam in the seat breathes and adds shock absorption to keep your horse comfortable while the silky soft material moves with your horse, directing any ‘friction’ to the area between the silky material and the open cell foam.

It’s an excellent choice for the more sensitive horse, and of course as with all Success Equestrian pads, the fully contoured top line ensures comfort and freedom of movement.

The top side is made of a sturdy quilted cotton for a traditional horse show look, and a discreet amount of our high quality no-slip grip material strategically placed to help hold your saddle in place … it’s hardly noticeable when tacked up. The pads are available in Medium and Large, in both white and black. As with all Success Equestrian products, the pad is as easy to wash — simply gentle wash with cool water and a non-bleach detergent and line dry!

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

12 Days of Christmas: World Equestrian Brands Prize Pack

Images courtesy of World Equestrian Brands.

It’s day three of EN’s “12 Days of Christmas,” featuring a giveaway a day from our amazing and very holiday-spirited sponsors! Today’s lucky winner will receive a prize pack from World Equestrian Brands, including a…

Mattes Ear Bonnet: Imagine how fly your horse will look in a custom crocheted ear bonnet, made from the finest Egyptian cotton. Whether sporting your cross country colors or opting for dressage judge approved conservative hues, you and your horse alike will appreciate the comfort, quality and fit of your new Mattes Ear Bonnet.

Hamag Number Holder: Tired of dealing with unsightly torn plastic holders? Hamag Leather Number Holders are handmade in Australia from quality materials and have been designed to last a lifetime. And we mean it when we say that they WILL NOT fall off! You’ve seen top eventers like Kim Severson and Buck Davidson use them, and now you can own one of your own.

Equilibrium Crunch-Its: Crunchits are naturally healthy, low sugar, bite-sized treats made with healthy stuff like strawberry, beetroot, parsnip, carrot, banana, pea and spinach. Tasty AND nutritious — only the best for your perfect pony!

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

12 Days of Christmas: Win a StretchTec Shoulder Relief Girth From Total Saddle Fit!

Welcome to Day Two of EN’s 12 Days a Christmas! A giveaway a day … truly, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Today we’re stuffing someone’s stocking, er, tack trunk with a StretchTech Shoulder Relief Girth from our awesome sponsor Total Saddle Fit.

This is a next-level girth. Building on the massive success and effectiveness of Total Saddle Fit’s Shoulder Relief Girth, with its revolutionary shoulder freedom and elbow clearance, the StretchTech girth features a triangular center elastic that contours perfectly to a horse’s barrel and allows for the 1.5 cm chest expansion that horses undergo go while breathing. This offers less respiratory restriction and even girth contact on the horse’s chest while in work.

Lauren Schwartzenberger shared a glowing review of the girth with EN in which she gave it two thumbs up — you can read it here.

Ready to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight, with the winner to be announced in News & Notes tomorrow morning. Good luck! Go Eventing.

Australia to Make Frangible Devices Compulsory in 2018 + Why the FEI Is Not

Photo courtesy of ERA International.

Equestrian Australia is leading the eventing world by example, having yesterday announced a rule change that mandates the use of approved FEI frangible devices. Beginning Feb. 1, 2018, frangible devices must be utilized “on those fences in 1*/2*/3*/4* courses in Australia (National and FEI events) where the materials fit the specifications for use of a frangible device.”

The initiative to introduce frangible pins was originally implemented with financial support from the Equestrian Australia Making Eventing Safer Fund, supported by Terry Snow, and the Olivia Inglis Foundation.

The Making Eventing Safer Fund will distribute $45,000 toward the rollout of frangible devices at all EA events across Australia, with funding to be matched by State Eventing Committees, meaning a total of $90,000 will be spent on improving safety. The fund was introduced following the deaths of two young Australian event riders, Caitlyn Fischer and Olivia Inglis, last year.

The change was made following a series of meetings at the Australian International Three-Day Event in Adelaide last month involving the Equestrian Australia Eventing Committee, the EA National Safety Officer, members of the FEI Risk Management Steering Group (Mike Etherington-Smith and Geoff Sinclair) and EA Chair Judy Fasher.

The new rule is in addition to other initiatives being carried out by EA toward improved safety of both horses and riders. Its implementation is supported by an explanatory memorandum for Officials and Organising Committees with an Officials’ Education Program to be rolled out in February and March 2018. You can view the updated 2018 EA Eventing Rules here.

In this video, Olympic medalist Stuart Tinney talks about the “Making Eventing Safer” initiative to introduce frangible jumps in Australia, and breaks down how this technology works.

Despite calls for the FEI to make frangible devices compulsory from National Federations, including the U.S. and Canada, as well as events such as Badminton and individual leaders within the sport, the FEI confirmed in a Dec. 7 Risk Management memo that it will not be enforcing a global rule until more evidence is available.

From the memo:

Why is the FEI not making [frangible device] use mandatory?

“The global use of frangible technology is one of our goals in risk management, and it is the FEI’s role to provide the necessary educational and logistical support to National Federations to enable them to source approved devices, ensure their correct use and ultimately decide when the time is right to make their use compulsory so that frangible technology is used effectively worldwide. We are also encouraging the National Federations, alongside the FEI, to look at other aspects of risk management, including coaching and course design. Frangible technology is clearly part of the way forward, but it is one element in a complex picture.

“While rotational horse falls have decreased dramatically, there is evidence – as highlighted in the Barnett report – that the number of horse falls in general is higher at fences fitted with frangible technology. Although clearly it could be the question rather than the frangible technology that is causing these falls, more information and data is needed to understand this horse fall rate.

“It is a priority to reduce horse falls as a whole so this is where data collection is an extremely important part of the decision-making process around the world. However, as stated above, FEI statistics show that rotational falls have been reduced by more than 50% in the 10-year period from 2006-2016 so there are clear benefits. The bottom line is that we need to have a better understanding of this evidence, and where it fits into the overall picture, before we can consider making the use of frangible technology mandatory.”

Isn’t that going against the recommendations of the Risk Management Steering Group?

“Following the recommendations of the Risk Management Steering Group, we are continuing to work with our National Federations on the logistical and educational elements of frangibles, respecting the individual decision of each National Federation regarding their eventual mandatory use in their own country when they have the knowledge base to ensure the technology can be effectively used. The decision of National Federations to use frangible technology is fully supported by the FEI and in line with National Federations taking their responsibilities on risk management. However, following a more comprehensive evaluation by the FEI Eventing Committee and for the reasons mentioned above, the FEI strongly believes that it would not be beneficial to the sport to impose mandatory implementation at this point in time.”

So should the FEI stop recommending the use of frangible technology?

“No, for the same reasons as above, but the facts are that although we have evidence that there is an increased risk of horse falls at fences fitted with frangible technology, rotational falls have been dramatically decreased and the percentage of serious injuries have also shown a strong reduction, halved from 0.28% of starters in 2006 to 0.13% in 2016. The percentage of horse falls overall is also reducing, going down from 1.76% of starters in 2006 to 1.4% in 2016, so the risk management strategy is clearly having a positive effect.”

“The bottom line is that we need to have a better understanding of this evidence, and where it fits into the overall picture, before we can consider making the use of frangible technology mandatory.”

Read the full memo here, and access the FEI Eventing Risk Management and Action Plan here.

EN’s 12 Days of Giveaways Starts Now: C4 Belts Holiday Prize Pack

Image courtesy of C4 Belts

Welcome to EN’s 12 Days of Christmas! It’s a giveaway extravaganza that will give EN readers the chance to win awesome prizes from our amazing sponsors for the next 12 days. Today we’re kicking things off by giving away a prize pack from C4 Belts and Snaks 5th Avenchew.

The prize pack includes:

C4 Holiday Belt and Buckle

Pair of C4 Socks

Treat from Snacks 5th Avenchew

That’s right — it’s a gift for you AND your horse. Not only will you be the most festive eventer in the barn with your new C4 belt and socks (if you really want to take it over the top, we recommend pairing with an ugly horse Christmas sweater), the treat from Snacks 5th Avenue makes a great equine stocking stuffer.

C4 has just kicked off its own “12 Days of C4ristmas” featuring daily deals, as well as its C4 Holiday Special which includes 10% off and free shipping with the promo code C4Happy.

Now here’s your chance to win that prize pack! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will close at midnight EST tonight. Good luck! Go Eventing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: ‘Look Ma, No Hands!’ With Erika Nesler

Major League Eventing is back with episode two in its “Major League Training” video series, featuring visiting trainers from all three eventing phases. (If you missed episode one, a clever bounce-on-a-curve exercise from Richard Lamb, check it out here.)

Major League Training explains of its second episode, “We visit three star event rider Erika M. Nesler at her farm where she shows us step by step how to use grid work to sharpen the fundamentals of both horse and rider in the off season. As a bonus she shows us her tips and tricks for going ‘hands free.’ You will certainly fall in love with Erika’s coaching style. We hope you enjoy. Cheers!”

Be sure to like Big League Eventing on Facebook for all the latest, and follow them on Instagram as well!

Do you have an exercise to share or is there an eventer you would like to nominate for the “What’s in Your Arena?” series? Email [email protected]ation.com.

Help Horses Affected by the Southern California Wildfires

Residents and communities are coming together to help those displaced by the devastating California wildfires. For those looking to help, a number of donation drives have been organized, and we know the eventing community will step up and give generously to help those horses in need.

Here is a running list of resources that have been brought to our attention, which we will keep updated. Please email [email protected] with additional listings.

Ali Hamman of South Coast Sport Horses LLC is organizing equipment donations, including halters, leads, wraps and barn supplies. Contact via Facebook with equipment donations.

American Association of Equine Practitioners, or AAEP, is already working with vets in Southern California and is accepting donations via the Disaster Relief Fund to continue supporting those vets. Select “Disaster Relief” when donating.

Animal Care Foundation of Los Angeles County “Noah’s Legacy Fund” is accepting donations to support the Department’s emergency response efforts. Donate via the website and specify “Noah’s Legacy Fund.”

California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is collecting donations to assist victims of the fire. When donating via the website, select “Add Special Instructions to Seller” and then type in the words “For victims of the SLRD fire.”

CARMA — California Retirement Management Account, a local CANTER partner — is accepting donations to assist San Luis Rey Downs horses. Earmark your donation by typing “FIRE” in the comments.

Del Mar Fairgrounds is now in need of supplies — it’s serving as the evacuation center not just for San Luis Rey Downs but for multiple horse owners and facilities in the evacuation area. Particular needs include pitchforks and rakes, buckets, bedding and feed. Del Mar has stated it currently has enough volunteers to help care for horses, watch for signs of colic and identify tattoos and markings on the Thoroughbreds evacuated from San Luis Rey. Donate via the website.

Little Red Feather Cares is accepting donations to assist with all horses and horse owners affected by fire. Earmark your donation by typing “FIRE” in the comments.

Local feed stores are accepting donations over the phone to assist displaced horses:

  • Damoor’s Feed (will match donation): (818) 242-2841 9 a.m.-6 p.m. PT
  • Mary’s Tack and Feed: (858) 755-2015, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. PT. Mary’s Tack and Feed has also opened a donation page on its website and will be matching the first $500 donated.
  • Carter’s Hay and Grain: (760) 436-4738, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.PT
  • Broken Horn Supply: (626) 337-4088 10 a.m.-6 p.m. PT
  • East Valley Feed and Tack: (818) 767-3060, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. PT

Thoroughbred Charities of America is prepared to assist San Luis Rey Downs horses, once the immediate crisis starts to resolve and needs are assessed. TCA aided the race horses of Puerto Rico after two hurricanes devastated the island earlier this year. Visit TCA’s website to make a cash donation.

Santa Anita Park, Stronach Group & Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are joining forces through GoFundMe to raise funding to buy needed supplies for evacuated horses, including bedding, feed and supplies for horses, as well as medical bills; funds will also support those individuals who lost everything at San Luis Rey Downs such as grooms and staff who lived on the premises.

USEF Disaster Relief Fund is accepting donations via its website.

Use caution when donating to crowdfunding sites. We have “vetted” crowdfunding links we share here.

Our hearts go out to all those affected by wildfires.

Listing compiled by Kristen Kovatch of Horse Nation.

221 Hours of Service: Meet the USEA’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Mike Smallwood

Mike Smallwood (second from left) and crew. Photo courtesy of Mike Smallwood.

Actually, to be exact, it was 221:01 volunteer hours logged at USEA recognized events, according to the EventingVolunteers.com program that does the tracking. Which, if you do the math, amounts to over nine days’ of Mike Smallwoods’ life in the past year — an impressive feat that speaks to his dedication to the sport.

But what of that extra one second?

Beats Mike. “Ha, the .01 … I’m not sure about that,” he says. “Just goes to show EventingVolunteers.com program counts every second that every volunteer has worked over the year.”

Mike, of Dickerson, Md., is known for putting his head down and getting done whatever needs to be done — no matter the job and no matter how long it takes. He’s worn many hats: safety coordinator, jump judge, announcer, jump crew, control, volunteer briefer, horse wrangler, trailer mechanic, truck mechanic, golf cart mechanic, course builder, landscaper, parking guru, cook, bartender and many more, at both recognized and unrecognized competitions. He’s always one of the first to arrive and the last to leave every day, and he’s in it from pre-event setup to post-event clean-up.

His favorite roles to play? “Safety coordinator and jump judging, but I will fill whatever role is needed,” he says. Although, he does admit to one hole in his volunteer skillset: “I think competitors would appreciate my handwriting staying away from scribe duties.”

During those other 8,538 hours and 59 seconds of the year, Mike keeps himself busy riding his horse, a bay Thoroughbred mare named Prada, running Woodstock Equestrian Park, and serving as a volunteer firefighter and chief at Carol Manor Fire Company.

Photo by Cheryl Sherman.

Photo courtesy of Alex Ambelang.

“Horses have been a part of my life, all my life, thanks to my mom,” Mike says. “I grew up riding in jumpers, then switched to western, and now it’s just pleasure and some eventing. I got into eventing through a friend, and now I am fully immersed in it.”

He got hooked into volunteering through the Maryland Horse Trials, where he started on an ambulance with the standby crew, and then grew into handling the safety coordinator position. From there, it was full speed ahead: “This year I have been to more event facilities than I think I ever have, both as a volunteer and a spectator visiting my lovely girlfriend (Alex Ambelang).”

Asks what he gets out of the volunteer experience, Mike says it’s all about the people and the great friendships he has made.

Photo courtesy of Alex Ambelang.

Mike’s achievement will be honored at the 2017 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention Year End Awards Dinner with a $1,000 check, a custom “USEA Volunteer of the Year” jacket, and crystal trophy. A special thank you to Sunsprite Warmbloods for sponsoring the Eventing Volunteers program and covering the cost for every USEA recognized event.

Ever humble and gracious, Mike says he would like to thank Carolyn Mackintosh, Gena Cindric and Alex Ambelang for their support through the year, and gives a nod to his fellow volunteers. “I think all the volunteers that have given through the year and years deserve as much recognition as I am getting,” he says. “We all work so hard to do our part for a sport/community we have come to love.”

Mike urges others to embrace the volunteer spirit. “Anyone can be a volunteer; I encourage it as it’s giving back to the sport. No experience is required — every place I have been has had great coordinators and stewards who will show you the way and make you feel welcome.”

Other pro tips for volunteers: “A good pencil, and a comfortable chair.”

Go Mike. Go Eventing!

Congrats to Southern California Equestrian Sports 2017 Award & Grant Winners!

Allison Springer and Fairvoya S. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Hardworking eventers deserve all the support they can get. We’re glad to see Southern California Equestrian Sports stepping up to financially assist some of our sport’s most deserving athletes, awarding three riders a total of $5,000 in grants.

SCES congratulates the following grant recipient winners, as chosen by its Board of Directors: Allison Springer ($2,750), Lauren Billys ($1,500) and Gina Miles ($750).

SCES President David Kuhlman says, “As an organization we are dedicated to assisting riders and events for the betterment of Equestrian Sports across the United States and Globe. Each of our 2017 award winners are very deserving and we are proud to support them.”

Learn more about Southern California Equestrian Sports, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping equestrians and organizers raise tax deductible funds to help offset competition expenses, by visiting its website here.

[Southern California Equestrian Sports Announces 2017 Awards and Grants]

Let’s Discuss: What Are Your Go-To Winter Survival Essentials?

Nothing gets in … and nothing gets out. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Literally the only thing that keeps me from hibernating in my bathtub from December until March are my Carhartt overalls. Quilt-lined and constructed of a canvas so tough you could paw your way through a barbed wire fence in them without a scratch, they are my wintertime fortress and protector from all things cold, windy and wet.

Combined with one-too-many base layers, a wool sweater or two, Original Muck Boot Company boots, fur-lined trapper hat, random scarf my mother-in-law gave me, and insulated gloves the size of catcher mitts, I look like a cross between the stay-puft marshmallow man and a post-apocalyptic squirrel hunter. Horses take one look at in the field and run the opposite direction, and frankly I don’t blame them.

Nobody wants to be here right now. Photo courtesy of Leslie Wylie.

We do what we must, though, to survive — and winter is coming. This week’s “Let’s Discuss” topic: What are your go-to winter survival essentials? Clothing, barn gear, gadgets … tell us what gets you through in the comments section below!

New Horseware Holiday Commercial Features Connemara Ponies in a Snowglobe, Squee!

We can always count on Horseware to get us into the holiday spirit. This is the company whose signature blanket is green and red, after all!

They’re back this year with a new Christmas commercial featuring top riders, ponies with impressive tree decorating skills, one very adorable little kid, and some magical snowglobe action.

For the commercial, Horseware once again partnered with world renowned horse trainer Emma Massingale and her amazing Connemara ponies, whom you may recognize from other Rambo videos including this one from a couple years back. You’ll also spot top #teamhorseware riders including Carl Hester, Cian O’Connor, Ingrid Klimke and, one celebrity horse, the famous Valegro. The video also features Horseware CEO Tom MacGuinness and a very talented four-year-old boy named Blue.

What’s your Horseware Wish this season? This year, Horseware is giving us 25 days of #horsewarewishes. Check out Horseware’s Facebook page for more details!

Skijoring Competition Races to Rebecca Farm

Sarah Broussard goes skijoring! Photo by Tommy Diegel courtesy of Rebecca Farm.

Eventers gotta keep themselves entertained in the off-season somehow! As such, Rebecca Farm is gearing up to host its first skijoring (think: skiing behind horses) competition on Dec. 30-31.

It’s actually the first time Rebecca Farm, located just west of Kalispell, Montana, has ever held an event during the winter months.

“Many folks associate Rebecca Farm with eventing in the summer, so we’re thrilled to try something new, and bring a different kind of sporting event to Rebecca Farm in the winter,” says organizer Sarah Broussard. “Not only is skijoring a unique sport in itself, it is so much fun to watch.”

Derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning “ski driving,” skijoring is a winter sport that combines skiing and horseback riding. The sport consists of a horse pulling a skier through an obstacle course, all while hitting jumps that range in size from three feet to nine feet high. Competitors are judged based on how long it takes for them to run the track, which stretches approximately 850 feet from start to finish.

Fortunately for the organizers, no major changes will need to be made to the Rebecca Farm course in order to host the competition. “It is not so much about changing anything on the farm,” Sarah says. “It is more about making sure we have enough snow.”

In the event the farm does not receive enough snow before the competition, Sarah will have it trucked in, she says.

Those that finish the course the fastest will be awarded a cash prize, known as the “total purse.” This year’s purse, to be raised via sponsorships, will total up to $25,000. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s competition will be donated to Halt Cancer at X, an initiative created by Sarah that raises funds for breast cancer research and support services.

Last year’s skijoring competition, hosted by the West Shore Visitors Bureau in Lakeside, welcomed nearly 100 competitors and thousands of spectators over two days. Sarah hopes even more are able to make it to this year’s event.

“People come from all over to experience skijoring in the Flathead,” Sarah says, noting that some people come from as far as Colorado to both attend and compete. “We look forward to carrying on this community tradition, and hope to see even more faces rallying behind this festive sport in December.”

Even with a seasoned organizing team in place, there will still be a need for lots of enthusiastic assistance. Participation and support of the community, through both sponsorship and volunteers, will be vital in making the event possible, according to the organizers. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Heidi Diegel at [email protected] For more information regarding sponsorship, contact Marcia Spano at [email protected]

Any takers, EN? For more information on the skijoring competition, click here. Learn more about the sport of skijoring here.

Edited from a press release


Weekend Instagram Roundup: Final Salute to 2017 at Sporting Days Farm H.T.

That’s a wrap for USEA events in 2017! The final sanctioned horse trial of the year was held at Sporting Days Farm in Aiken, SC. The venue hosts four horse trials a year and on behalf of the eventing community, we wish to thank Joannah Hall Glass for generously sharing her farm as well as all the organizers, officials, volunteers and competitors who have made Sporting Days the longest continually running event in Aiken.

Click here to view the farm’s winter/spring calendar of events which including both recognized and unrecognized horse trials and cross country school.

Weekend winners (see complete results here):

Intermediate/Prelim: Susie Beale & Canny Calypso (44.9)
Prelim: Julie Richards & Fernhill Rodger (31.4)
Prelim Rider: Stephanie Sills & Vino del Porto (34.6)
Prelim/Training: Brittany Kart & Filomena (40.7)
Training: Katie Lichten & Sapphire Blue B (35.0)
Training Horse: Susie Beale & Metropolitan (32.1)
Training Rider: Susan Cipolla & Run the World (31.1)
Training Young Rider: Clara Richards & Fernhill Prada (34.6)
Training/Novice: Heather Bush & Spectre 007 (54.4)
Novice: Laurie Wettstone & Fandango (25.8)
Novice Horse: Jessica Schultz & Let It Slam (32.3)
Novice Rider: Jean Fowler & Friend of Bill W (33.0)
Novice Young Rider: Marley Fossett & Full Gallop’s Red Headed Step Child (38.3)
Beginner Novice Horse: Morgan Batton & Absolut Harmony (31.8)
Beginner Novice Rider: MeriJane Sayre & Legend (35.8)
Beginner Novice Young Rider: Alexa Brogna & Jax (31.3)
Intro: Lara Anderson & FGF Rienzi (36.1)

Here are a few of your Instagram photos and videos from the weekend that was!


Last show of the season…#wildwychaayden #connamara #eventerlife #eventerproblems #sportingdaysfarm

A post shared by Robin Wilson (@rknrobn1a) on




Go Eventing.

What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: The ’42’ of Jumping Exercises with Laura Szeremi

What’s in Your Arena? is an EN series sponsored by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces in which riders share their favorite jumping exercises. It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut, and we hope this will inspire you with fresh ideas that you can take home and incorporate into your own programs. Have an exercise to share? Email it to [email protected]

What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything? The answer, if you subscribe to truths put forth by Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is “42.” An effortlessly basic answer to a mind-twist of a question that has baffled thinking human beings for centuries. A two-digit number, which took a supercomputer purpose-designed to answer the question seven-and-a-half million years to deduce. Simply: 42.

In her most recent Bad Eventer blog post, two-star rider and noted eventing philosopher Laura Szeremi lights the fuse on this stick of cerebral dynamite:

Which is more important: having the right canter, or being able to see the distance? 

A question that is basically the jumping equivalent of “What is the meaning of life, etc.” And when it comes to answering it, things can get pretty heated. We’ll let Laura take it from here (for the illustrated version, check out her original blog post):

“Without fail every single person I have ever lessoned with (and there have been quite a few in my *cough* four decades in this sport) has had a strong opinion on this subject.

“It’s just not a lukewarm area like … lettuce. Most people don’t get overly passionate about lettuce. They’ll eat it in a taco, or on a sandwich. But they won’t get their blood pressure up over loving or hating lettuce.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/CC.

“But this canter vs distance concept? Holy cow — I’ve seen otherwise calm trainers cross over into frothing-at-the-mouth-zealots when discussing this topic.

“For many years I’ve had my own opinion on the subject, which is a complex equation relating rider skill to the size of the fence as compared to the scope of the horse.

Diagram by Laura Szeremi.

“But recently I had one of those I’m-an-idiot epiphanies and thought I might not be alone.

“Here’s the rub:

“What the hell is “the right canter”? And how on earth do you know when you have it?

“I had a jump school where things didn’t go quite perfectly.

“And while I was thinking about bits and lines and sensitive horses and all the things that seemed to be going wrong, the fearless leader steps in and says something like, ‘Your canter sucks, you were just hammering down to everything being Bad Eventer.’


“He hadn’t called me out on ‘being Bad Eventer’ in a LONG time.

“A quick perusal of articles on ‘the right canter’ gives me a lot of hocus pocus answers saying things like it’s ‘in the flat work,’ ‘it’s about an uphill balance,’ etc. Not that any of that is wrong, but it still doesn’t tell you how you know when you have that magical canter.

“That’s when I figured out that calling it ‘the right canter’ leads you down the wrong path.

“It has more to do with rhythm and adjustability than the canter itself. You can have a beautiful uphill canter on a 12′ stride and it’s still not the right canter if you ask the horse to move up or slow down and nothing happens.

“The other piece of the puzzle I only discovered when I changed horses … and this secret of the universe is that the canter can’t change unless you want it to.

“I was cantering around a tight turn to a fence, and for the first time in my life I saw that I was going to meet the fence perfectly before I had even made the turn.

Photo courtesy of Laura Szeremi.

“That had never happened before.

“It turns out that the WonderPony, as amazing as he was, never gave me the same stride to anything. He bombed around cross country like the epic XC machine he is.

Photo courtesy of Laura Szeremi.

“But our stadium demons were real.

Photo courtesy of Laura Szeremi.

“And now I know a big piece of that puzzle was that we never had a consistent stride.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/CC.

“Sooooooo. Part of the elusive ‘right canter’ is one that doesn’t change unless you ask it to, and that changes immediately, when you ask it to.

“This exercise turned out to be more of the answer than I knew.”


Canter pole Olympics! Turned a 5 stride line into a 10 & a 3! #Boom #Zebrasaurus #BadEventer

Posted by BadEventer on Friday, January 27, 2017

“Canter pole Olympics! Turned a five-stride line into a 10 and a three!”

And there you have it, folks. Two canter poles, set 72′ apart. A galaxy of possibility. How many strides can you fit in or take away, while keeping the step length perfectly even? Do try this at home!

Go Eventing.

Trainer Applications Now Open for 2018 $100K Thoroughbred Makeover

“The Allisons” (Allison Thompson and Alison Wilaby), who finished 1st and 2nd in the Thoroughbred Makeover Eventing division in 2017; Alison Wilaby also won Dressage. Photo by Stephanie Griffiths.

Thinking about throwing your hat in the ring of this year’s Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover? Do it! The trainer application process opened yesterday, Dec. 1, and runs through Jan. 15, 2018, with trainer approvals to be announced on Feb. 1.

For roundabout the cost of a regular horse trial, you could not only jump-start the career of an off-track horse but also be part of the biggest OTTB lovefest of the year. The 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium takes place October 4-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park and will feature competition in 10 disciplines ranging from eventing to barrel racing and polo.

Horses and their trainers will compete for $100,000 in prize money and the title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred. The event includes seminars, demonstrations, a sponsor fair, and a livestreamed finale featuring the top five horses in each discipline. Many of the horses are offered for sale, so it’s one-stop Thoroughbred shopping at its finest.

Detailed information is available at the RRP website’s 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover page but here’s a fast and dirty eventer’s guide:

How do I apply to be a Makeover trainer?

The Makeover is open to all members of RPP so if you aren’t already you’ll need to join. Membership is $45 a year and has several perks including a one-year subscription to Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, a copy of Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, a free ticket to the Thoroughbred Makeover, discounts from sponsors and other benefits. Professionals, amateurs and juniors are all welcome to apply.

The next step is filling out an online trainer application, which asks for competition highlights, references, and videos of your riding skills. The application window is Dec. 1, 2017 through Jan. 15, 2018.

There’s a $200 entry fee; if not accepted the fee will be returned minus a $25 processing fee.

Is my OTTB eligible?

The Makeover is open to Jockey Club registered horses that raced or had a published work after July 1, 2016. They must not have begun training for a second career before Dec. 1, 2017 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides or training sessions that introduce skills specific to non-racing careers. Some trainers will already have horses identified and others will begin a search after they are approved. Trainers can contract with owners or acquire the horse themselves.

What does it cost? 

There’s a $200 entry fee; if not accepted the fee will be returned minus a $25 processing fee. Other expenses, such as stabling at the competition, are outlined here.

What if I need to withdraw my OTTB?

Trainers may withdraw a horse from the Makeover at any time using the online Makeover Horse Withdrawal Form. Trainers may replace a scratched horse with any eligible horse as late as August 1, 2018. Replacement horses must be registered with the online Makeover Horse Registration Form.

What does the Makeover competition for eventing entail? 

Format for dressage: All horses will perform USEF 2018 Beginner Novice Eventing Test A in a small arena (20m x 40m).

Format for Show Jumping: All horses will be judged over a course set at dimensions for United States Eventing Association (USEA) Beginner Novice (2’7” maximum), Novice (2’11” maximum), or Training (3’3” maximum). Trainers will select their level with their final entry form in August.

Format for Cross Country: All horses will be judged over a cross country course of approximately 12 obstacles. Each obstacle will have at least two options, one at Beginner Novice dimensions (2’7”) and the other at Novice (2’11”). Optional fences may be offered for riders to demonstrate a higher level of training as well. Riders should jump the obstacle choice that best demonstrates the quality and level of their horse’s training. They need not jump all fences at the same level.

Finale: The top three scoring horses will compete for additional points in the finale, demonstrating basic work on the flat and jumping a course that includes show jumps and cross country portables in the covered arena.

Attire and equipment should adhere to that described in USEF Rules for Eventing. Horses can earn a maximum of 100 points per each of the three phases. Overall scores will be the sum of the scores from each of the three phases. Ties will be broken by the cross country score, then show jumping, then dressage. Final placing for the top five finishers will be based on the sum of their three scores plus a fourth score awarded during the finale.

What happens after the Makeover is over?

Owners can choose to keep their horses at the end of the process or offer them for sale. The Makeover Horse Sale is not an auction but an opportunity for buyers and sellers to do business in a setting that allows trial rides, pre-purchase exams and observation of horses in competition.

For much more information, visit the RRP website’s 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover page.

Go OTTBs. Go Eventing.