Leslie Wylie
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#ThrowbackThursday Video: Team USA’s 2016 Great Meadow Nations Cup Win

We’re all looking forward to watching this weekend’s Nation Cup competition unfold at Great Meadow International. Last year the U.S. took its first FEI Nations Cup Eventing win right here on home soil, by a healthy margin of 39.3 penalties, with a lineup that would later become its Rio 2016 Olympic Team. Check out this highlight reel from last year’s event.

Will they repeat history in 2017? Great Britain and Canada have some fierce looking lineups, so it should be a great weekend of sport.

You can watch Great Meadow live on USEF Network, and Jenni will be bringing us wall-to-wall coverage live from the event. Stay tuned for much more from Great Meadow! Go Eventing.

Hannah Sue Burnett, Lauren Kieffer to Compete as Individuals in Aachen CICO3*

US Equestrian has announced that two American eventers will compete as individuals at the 2017 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen.

  • Hannah Sue Burnett (The Plains, Va.) with Jacqueline Mars’ RF Demeter, a 2002 Oldenburg mare

Hannah Sue Burnett and RF Demeter. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

  • Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) with Team Rebecca, LLC’s Veronica, a 2002 Dutch Warmblood mare

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Both riders are stationed in the UK this summer, and we look forward to cheering them on at Aachen!

CHIO Aachen, held July 14-23 in Aachen, Germany, is a five-discipline competition. A group of 18 athletes will represent the U.S. including full teams for the FEI Nations Cup show jumping and dressage divisions. In addition to our two eventers, two additional dressage athlete-and-horse combinations, four vaulters, and one four-in-hand combined driver will contest individual competition.

Aachen CICO3* eventing takes place July 21-22, with dressage and show jumping on Friday followed by cross country on Saturday. Visit the website here.

[US Equestrian Declares Contingent for World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen]

William Fox-Pitt Leads Day 1 Barbury CIC3* Dressage + North American Roundup

William Fox-Pitt and Clifton Signature. Photo by Adam Dale.

St. James Place Barbury International Horse Trials just wrapped up its first day of competition, which led off with the CIC3* division. William Fox-Pitt and Clifton Signature have the early lead on a penalty score of 40.7.

William, who recently took over the ride from Jonathan Paget of New Zealand, remarked after his test, “It’s early days as this is my first dressage on Clifton Signature at this level. He is a lovely horse and I think there is more to come from him in this phase. I am very happy with that, and it’s great to be here at Barbury.”

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Note Worthy follow in second on 42.9 penalties, with five time consecutive Barbury winner Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Swallow Springs rounding out the top three on a 43.9.

Of note, UK-based American Tiana Coudray and Under the Clocks are currently tied for 14th (55.5).

North America has a big representation in the CIC2* as well. Presently in Section C, Lauren Kieffer and Landmarks Monte Carlo sit 13th (43.9), Tiana is 27th with Cancaras Girl (50.8), and Rebecca Howard is 34th with Little Britannia (56.1). In Section D, Rebecca is 12th on Britannia’s Mail (50.5). In Section E, Mackenna Shea is third with Landioso (41.6), Christina Henriksen is tied for 31st with Cayr Della Caccia (51.3) and Lauren is 37th with Veronica (55.0).

Barbury continues tomorrow with more CIC3* and CIC2* dressage and British Eventing competitions. The CIC3* Event Rider Masters class takes place over the weekend, with dressage and show jumping on Saturday and cross country on Sunday. Lauren with D.A. Duras, Rebecca with Riddle Master and Hannah Sue Burnett with RF Demeter will be contesting the ERM division. Great to see so many home team names on the Barbury roster!

Barbury CIC3* Top 15:

Barbury Links: Website, Scores, TimetableEvent Riders Masters

#DogsOfEN: Parade of Pups

Where there are horse people, there are dogs — and we love showing them off. Here’s your latest batch of canine Instagram pics — plus, as always, a few honorable mentions!

Be sure to tag your ‘Grams with #DogsOfEN for inclusion in a future edition.

Best horse show 🐕😘😘😘 – #horseshowdog #dogsofen #blueheeler #cattledog #eventing

A post shared by Mary (@western_eventer.ut) on

Eventing dogs 🐶 #eventinglife #dogsofinstgram #eventingdog #tired #dogsofinsta #dogsofen

A post shared by Bree Lyons (@accidental_eventer) on

11 years old and still looking majestic af #sheltie #dogsofinsta #dogsofen #shetlandsheepdog

A post shared by Jodi Leanne (@jodi_leanne) on

Indiana Bones gets quite comfy in the stalls 😍 #jrt #dogsofen #eventerproblems #eventersofinstagram

A post shared by Ashley Betz (@ashbetz) on

#arealcooley #farmdog #roughlife #earlysummer #dogsofEN

A post shared by Laura Gillikin (@littlebrowndogdiaries) on

#dogsofEN #muttskickbutt #muttsofinstagram #blackdog #hairydog #pennsylvania #poop#eaters

A post shared by @elenamaelove on

Indiana Bones gets quite comfy in the stalls 😍 #jrt #dogsofen #eventerproblems #eventersofinstagram

A post shared by Ashley Betz (@ashbetz) on

And … a few non-canine honorable mentions. #DucksOfEN, coming soon!

My horse show planner fell asleep on the job… #yourefired #barncat #eventerproblems #eventersofinstagram

A post shared by Lizzie Harder (@eventerlizzie) on

So this happened today🐽🐷#DogsofEN #WoodymeetsJane #Janetheminipig

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#EventerProblems Vol. 122: Summertime Sadness

Lost and mangled fly masks, scary tanlines, sizzling temperatures, 24/7 mowing, dirt baths for all … some #EventerProblems are particularly rampant this time of the year.

Here’s a sampling!

We all have those days. #strugglebus #help #regrets #rainyday #aiken #ottb #horse #pony #eventerproblems #eventing

A post shared by Ashlyn Hemelgarn (@ashlynhemel) on

Beep beep I’m trying to work here #eventerproblems #eventer #eventersofinstagram #johndeere #pasture

A post shared by Chelsea Smith (@chelsea_smith90) on

I swear we don’t have a salt problem, it’s for the horses. #eventerproblems

A post shared by Amie (@fonderofdublin) on

When your wedding is in one week…..reverse glove tan #eventing #eventerproblems

A post shared by Paige (@pmontyeventing) on

#eventerproblems

A post shared by Allison McCracken (@50shadeseventing) on

mmmm ice cream! When it’s hot out, you have to share. #itshotout #sharingiscaring #eventerproblems

A post shared by Kim McGurrin (@kimmcgurrin) on

You might be an equestrian…#eventerproblems

A post shared by Alexei Pilotski (@alexeipilotski) on

When your glove-line can be seen from space ✨ #eventerproblems #toomuchsun #eventergirlincollegeworld

A post shared by Robin Loch (@1ochness) on

Summer in Florida means bugs and bugs mean Zara is very itchy! #eventerproblems #eventingsunnyfl

A post shared by Zoe Crawford (@crawfordeventing) on

#eventerproblems toms and leggings=brown squares.

A post shared by Brittany DesCotes Eventing (@bdescotes) on

100* out and you want to ride? The solution: tall boots and shorts #eventersolutions #eventerproblems #lookoutworld

A post shared by Body N Soul (@bodynsoul_equine) on

Those are for catching flies! Not horses!

A post shared by alicia b swinton (@alicia.swinton.eventing) on

This is why we can’t have nice (or semi-nice…) things. #dorado #ottb #eventerproblems #biteyfaceproblems #flymaskfail

A post shared by Erica Spradling (@xbetterbesocialx) on

Go Eventing.

Tuesday Video from SpectraVET: Topline H.T. Training Helmet Cam

Canada in the summertime is where it’s at!  Many thanks to reader Amelia Kral sending us this Training level helmet cam from Topline Stables Back-to-Back Horse Trials in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

The event is an interesting one in that it is, as advertised, two events in a row; the first ran from June 30 to July 1 and the second from July 2 to 3. Offering Starter through Training level horse trials as well as a Prelim and Intermediate combined test, the event is a great opportunity for green horses and riders to get some mileage in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere.

Amelia and her horse, Raise My Bid, placed 10th in their Training division and enjoyed a clear, inside the time cross country round. Check out complete event results here.

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Stock Up on Your USA-Spirited Gear with SmartPak’s JULY17 Sale

Happy Independence Day! SmartPak is getting in the spirit with its 15% off Fourth of July sale. My fellow Americans, you know what to do.

It is prime time to stock up on your Team USA gear. Be honest with yourself: do you have enough red, white and blue clothes in your closet and gear in your tack room? The answer, probably, is no.

Unless, of course, you are Jenni or I.

Leslie and Jenni at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Leslie and Jenni at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Here are a few red, white and blue items you might consider checking off your SmartPak wishlist:

Ariat Team Sunstopper Longsleeve 1/4 Zip. Photo via SmartPak.

Ariat Team Sunstopper Longsleeve 1/4 Zip. Photo via SmartPak.

Ariat Team Sunstopper Longsleeve 1/4 Zip: I own this myself, obviously, and it’s an MVP of my equestrian wardrobe. Don’t let the long sleeves fool you: It’s made of a lightweight, moisture-wicking pique knit with breathable mesh underarm paneling and a sun protective finish. The color blocking is super-flattering and the mock collar makes it perfect for clinics and schooling shows in addition to everyday wear.

It also pairs really well with red patent leather stilettos, patriotic socks, a light-up tutu and tinsel boa for a night on the town.

These colors don't run.

These colors don’t run, y’all.

The Ariat Sunstopper Longsleeve and its Ariat team brethren are already offered at the lowest price allowed by the manufacturer, which means the 15% off JULY17 promo discount doesn’t apply. However, there are plenty of other Uncle Sam approved purchases that are! Including but not limited to….

Piper Full Seat Breeches by SmartPak in Navy/Dove

Photo via SmartPak.

Photo via SmartPak.

SmartPak Medium Diamond Deluxe AP Saddle Pad in Navy

Photo courtesy of SmartPak.

Photo courtesy of SmartPak.

SSG All Weather Gloves in Red

Photo via SmartPak.

Photo via SmartPak.

SmartPak Classic Fly Sheet in Silver/Red

Photo via SmartPak.

Photo via SmartPak.

SmartPak Soft Leather Halter in Havana/Blue

Photo via SmartPak

Photo via SmartPak

Colorful Cotton Lead with Snap End in Red/Navy

18156_RedNavy

Photo via SmartPak.

Plastic Grooming Tote in Blue

Photo via SmartPak.

Photo via SmartPak.

Use promo code JULY17 at checkout, and don’t forget that SmartPak offers free shipping on orders over $75 every day!

Go SmartPak. Go Eventing!

Weekly OTTB Wishlist from Cosequin: Born in the USA

Is there anything more American than leaving the startbox on born-and-bred-in-the-USA OTTB? The three ex-racers we’ve got lined up for you this week are yummy as apple pie and we’d love to see them soar like a bald eagle in the sport of eventing!

Also, this belt, amiright? Check it out here.

C4 OTTB Americana Classic Belt. Photo courtesy of C4.

Without further ado:

Photo via CANTER PA.

Harley’s Joy (Buzzards Bay – J. D.’s Harley, by Roanoke): 2011 16.1-hand Pennsylvania bred mare

Athletic choice! Beautifully put together with natural balance that could make her an ideal eventer or jumper, CANTER expects this girl to move fast. If her powerful build isn’t enough to pick up the phone, check out how this girl moves. She’s the type who should also entice serious dressage riders as well. Well-bred for sport, this Buzzards Bay mare is out of a Roanoke dam, both impressive sport lines. She seems to be stamped with the attributes we look for in sport and expect her to attract amateurs as well as pros. No known issues other than she came back a bit sore in the stifles after her last race. Super pretty!

View Harley’s Joy on Canter PA.

Photo via Finger Lakes Finest OTTBs.

Doree’s Giant Neal (Frost Giant – Doree Daze, by Good and Tough): 2014 16.1-hand New York bred gelding

Frost Giant, by Giant’s Causeway, has been a busy guy, which is a good thing for riders looking for his offspring because of their jumping ability. Doree just got beat his last start on Saturday, June 17th, in a front-running fashion, showing long, fluid strides and a nice gallop out.

Doree is reported to be sound and he surely looked it in his race replay and in the flesh when CANTER checked him out. His trainer reports that Doree’s owner has a lot of horses and is moving on some of the underperformers on the racetrack. Doree is also lightly raced, with only six starts. CANTER admired his big, balanced build, sweet babyface and his shining coppery coat. There is nothing not to like about this young flashy guy!

View Doree’s Giant Neal on Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds. 

Photo via Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center.

Five Five (Stormy Atlantic – Lacy Lady, by Jeblar ): 2013 16.2-hand Kentucky bred gelding

This guy was aptly nicknamed “Flash” by his donor. Between his four white stockings, headlight blaze, sorrel mane and tail and copper coat, and his big ground covering trot, this is one flashy horse! That said, he’s a true project horse. He needs to get strong, learn how to carry himself correctly, and gain confidence, as he is very green and a tad emotional. But with consistent training, the right handler, and time, this diamond in the rough could be dazzling.

View Five Five on Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center.

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Horse Park of New Jersey A & I Winners

The Horse Pesterer was out and about at the Horse Park of New Jersey I H.T. over the weekend, doing as he does! Here’s his show jumping video of the top two finishers in the Advanced and Intermediate divisions.

*No video of Olney Uncle Sam, but here’s one of Emily and her fifth placed Advanced ride Silver Night Lady:

See complete results here.

Go Eventing!

Weekend Instagram Roundup: Through the Lens of Amy Dragoo

Following professional equine photographers on Instagram is fun because it can be an outlet for all those great photos they snap and aren’t quite sure what else to do with. For event photographer Amy Dragoo, it’s also an outlet for her sense of humor …

… and keen eye for funny little moments in life.

Amy Dragoo was out with her lens at the Horse Park of New Jersey I H.T. over the weekend and posted these off-the-cuff pics:

Direct line to the portaloo. #findyourline #outstandinginafield #eventinglive

A post shared by Amy Dragoo (@dragoophoto) on

There’s one in every bunch. #ridingisfun #outstandinginafield #eventinglive

A post shared by Amy Dragoo (@dragoophoto) on

Learn more about Amy by visiting her website. Here are a few more of your photos from the weekend that was, which included Horse Park of New Jersey I H.T., Chattahoochee Hills H.T. and South Farm H.T.

#crosscountrycoursewalk #nofilter #chatthills #chatthillseventing #pegasuseventing

A post shared by Ellen Doughty-Hume (@ellendoughtyhume) on

Great weekend here at HPNJ!!

A post shared by Callie Heroux Photography (@photosbycallie) on

Hopefully our good luck rainbow!! Dressage at 12:50 and xc at 3:30!!

A post shared by anna martin (@am_eventing_) on

Kasey just finished her first novice on the EP!!!!! So proud !!!!!!

A post shared by Megkep (@megkep) on

Noey falling asleep while aunt @tallmaneventing braids him! They get each other

A post shared by Danielle Zandirad (@dzandiradeventing) on

Go Eventing.

#EventerFailFriday: No You Go First, I Insist!

Welcome to #EventerFailFriday, a support group for sharing your most struggle-bus moments. From slightly sticky moments to full-on bombs, join us in celebrating the fact that every road to success is paved with a few potholes.

This week’s theme is the good old fashioned “thanks but no thanks” brake slam. Thanks to all for sharing. Enjoy!

#EventerFailFriday

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#EventerFailFriday @goeventing

A post shared by JayCee and Toby (@jv.eventing) on

#eventerfailfriday

A post shared by Sonja Hanlon-Barker (@painthorze) on

When your fails gets professionally captured #EventerFailFriday

A post shared by K O (@pandoramiak) on

Over pls #EventerFailFriday

A post shared by K O (@pandoramiak) on

#failfriday baby horse says no. 🚫🙄

A post shared by jmk (@ottbs_n_pitties) on

Go Eventing.

#TBT Video from Standlee Hay: Rick Wallace at ’91 Essex Horse Trials

Last weekend saw the successful reboot of Mars Essex Horse Trials after a nearly two-decade hiatus. Held at historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills, New Jersey, the iconic event’s return was much anticipated and well celebrated, as it was once a highlight of the American eventing calendar.

Conceived in 1968, it grew throughout the ’70s and the ’80s, eventually expanding to a three-day event and moving to the USET headquarters at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone. The event’s final running came in 1998, on its 30th anniversary, on account of land development.

Check out this vintage video of then 20-something Rick Wallace and Ultimate Trial, Rick’s first Advanced horse. The story of their partnership is a great one — EN featured it in our One That Started It All series here. The video features commentary from Brian O’Connor and Ralph Hill and, spoiler alert, it doesn’t go to plan for Rick. At 1:18 they dramatically fall prey to the big ditch and rails.

The commentators catch up with Rick afterward to ask what happened. “Uh, he went right into the ditch,” Rick says, reenacting the moment with sound effects. Glad everyone was OK!

[Essex H.T. Final Scores]

Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby, Powered by SmartPak: Don’t Mess With Texas, Part I

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 25 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

The Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for weekly updates from Leslie as she prepares to embark upon the ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

“Twelve saddles standing ready. Twelve horses resting up. Tomorrow, we will host a miniature Mongol Derby for two hopeful 2017 riders, Liv Wood of Canada and Leslie Wylie Bateman of USA. We will cover 100 miles, switching horses every 35 miles, in 100 degrees, with 100% humidity. If they can hack it out here, they can hack it anywhere!” — Devan Horn

Part I: Sink or Swim

Here in the South we have a bad habit of inviting people we’ve just met to do things — “Let’s have lunch sometime!” — as a matter of politeness, with no real obligation or even intention of following through. But if we learned anything from last year’s Lady Martha Sitwell series, it’s that you should never invite Leslie Wylie into your life if you don’t mean it. Because she WILL show up on your doorstep.

Whether it’s a fox-chasing party princess in Great Britain or an action hero endurance star in Texas, I never turn down an invitation to take notes from ladies of the bada$$ variety. So when, three minutes into our first phone conversation, 2013 Mongol Derby runner-up Devan Horn invited me to come spend a day training with her in Humble, Texas, I hung up and bought a plane ticket.

Devan is a special human being, or perhaps “superhuman” is more like it. At the tender age of 24, Devan has thrice completed the Tevis Cup, the most prestigious endurance riding event in North America, and in her spare time runs ultramarathons and participates in roller derby, a sport wherein tatted-up girls with nicknames like Nasty Pelosi, Susan B. Agony and Nancy Raygun don roller skates and try to break your knees whilst racing you around a track.

Just another day in the life of Devan. Photo courtesy of Devan Horn.

Of particular interest to me, of course, is the fact that she’s a two-time Mongol Derby veteran, nearly winning it in 2013 and nearly killing herself during a 2015 rematch. In the former, chronicled on this ABC Nightline special, she crossed the finish line first but was issued a time penalty when her horse’s heart rate didn’t come down fast enough, leaving the window open for a rival to win. The second time around, she was urinating blood before the race even began but it wasn’t until day six, when her kidneys were literally shutting down, that she allowed the medics to pull her off course. Third time’s a charm, though, and in 2018 she has her sights set on finally getting the win she came for.

The night before our ride I met my new Derby sensei and her boyfriend Scott at a local Tex-Mex restaurant for dinner. She was everything and nothing I imagined: hair dyed an icy blue with eyes to match, a glacier-sized presence belying her petite 5’2″ stature, and a laugh so warm it could melt Antarctica. (Which is one of few continents she hasn’t attempted to ride across, yet.)

There was no smalltalk, only strategy. Even our chips and salsa became visual aids for Devan’s coaching.

Navigation training: “OK, the chips are your waypoints, and the salsa is the mountain …” Photo by Leslie Wylie.

#DevanDerbyProTips:

  • When your horse spooks at something in the brush, DON’T look back; it’s a wolf.
  • When you’re being hunted by a pack of wild dogs, DON’T fall off, because you WILL get ripped to shreds.
  • Run TOWARD attackers instead of away from them, screaming obscenities, so they’ll deem you too psycho to mess with.
  • Understand that the fastest horses are also going to be the wildest, so if you want to win you better be good at sitting a buck.
  • Know the difference between family gers, which are safe, and bachelor gers, which you want to avoid at all costs.
  • Hobbles will NOT prevent your horse from ditching you overnight.
  • Accept that no matter how repulsive you imagine steppe cuisine will be, it’s going to be even worse in reality.
  • And, most importantly, try to get prescription-grade antispasmodics for your kit. Because when you get giardia, and it feels like you’re being stabbed in the gut each time your horse takes a step, you’re going to want them.

Miles <40

We made plans to ride out at 6 a.m. the next day, along with Liv Wood, a 2017 Derby competitor from Canada who has been training in Texas for the past month. Like Devan, Liv is a honeybadger of the first degree: 25-years-old, bulletproof and fiercely independent, with a velcro seat from galloping racehorses at the track in New York.

Liv’in her best life. Photo courtesy of Liv Wood.

We tore out of Cypress Trails Ranch at two minutes past the hour, just as the sun was rising. Chasing Devan and Liv through the labyrinth woods, I felt like a little kid playing “Chutes and Ladders,” never sure what lay around the next bend.

Dieseletta, the first of my mounts for the day, was a dark bay Egyptian Arabian-cross. Arabians are funny creatures, bred for centuries to go and go and go, yet always reserving the right to spook sideways at lightning speed on account of threats both real and imagined, or slam on the breaks from a full gallop to stop and stare at a puddle.

Dieseletta’s antics made me giggle, but she was brave when it counted. Our route was threaded with creeks and Dieseletta, being the bravest horse of the three, was always appointed first to cross. I felt proud at the first canal we encountered: While the other horses balked, Dieseletta leapt willingly off the bank into the water, trotted across, pinged up the bank out, then turned right to pop across a runoff ditch. Eventer skillz on point!

Mile after mile we pushed further from home, undeterred and perhaps even heartened by a thunderstorm we rode straight into. The downpour was a welcome relief from the scorching Texas summer temps, and I relished the wetness on my bare arms and flushed face.

Riders of the storm. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The first leg of our ride was only supposed to be around 25 or 30 miles. But at some point, horses on autopilot and conversation in high gear, we got sidetracked, adding another dozen or so miles to our planned route. Once back on course and just about three miles from home, we found ourselves at an impasse. The trail crossed a creek, normally about knee deep, but now looking a bit swollen and rushed due to the storm. Flash floods are common in the area, and the rain had been coming down steadily for a good long while now.

Should we turn back, which would mean a miles-long backtrack on already spent horses? (We’d been trotting or cantering most of the way.) Or forge ahead through the creek, which Devan and Liv had crossed so many times? The barn was so close!

I kept my mouth shut as Liv and Devan debated pros and cons. In the end the decision was made to cross. Dieselette and I headed in first, aiming for patches of grass that indicated shallowness. Then — splash! — we suddenly stepped off some sort of underwater ledge and found ourselves swimming. The breathtakingly strong current sent us swiftly downstream. I grabbed mane, kicked my feet free of my stirrups and let my legs float behind me, just like my sisters and I used to when swimming ponies across the farm pond as kids.

But this time, something was wrong. Dieselette kept going underwater, sinking until her feet touched the bottom then rearing up, thrashing for air, only to sink again. Liv later said it looked like I was riding the Loch Ness Monster.

Devan immediately recognized what was happening: I hadn’t unsnapped Dieselette’s running martingale, and every time she raised her head she was hitting the top of it and panicking. Devan, who insists she would sink like a stone if dropped into an Olympic swimming pool, dove off her own horse and swam toward us in the hope of getting Dieselette free.

Waterlogged photo of the crossing. Photo by Devan Horn.

I let go of the mare, figuring she’d have a better chance of righting herself without a human on her back. For a few terrifying seconds that seemed like hours, Dieselette and I were both floating downstream, me just ahead of her, unable to fight the aggressive current. I tried to swim against it, even cut sideways across it, but couldn’t. A premonition of Dieselette pummeling into me, and all the worst case scenarios that might follow, flashed through my mind. Just in time her hooves found solid ground, and my fists latched onto a clump of brush attached to the shore.

Meanwhile Devan’s horse was gone, well on its way back to the stable, with Liv tailing behind. Devan, Dieselette and I started our slow march home along the waterlogged trail, dripping wet and silent.

I spent a very short moment shrugging off guilt. Devan had tacked Dieselette up that morning for me while I fiddled with a leaky camelback, so how was I supposed to know she was even wearing a martingale? And it wasn’t my decision to cross the creek, so that should absolve me of some responsibility, right?

Wrong. I’m an adult. I’m responsible for myself, and the moment I swing my leg over the back of a horse I assume responsibility for that animal as well. Tack included. If someone else saddles up my horse for me during the Derby, I’m still responsible for checking it. Decisions, and their consequences, included. When it comes to safety, groupthink has no redemptive value after the fact. No excuses, not here in Texas and for damn sure not in Mongolia.

When the trail intersected a road Devan caught a ride with someone from the barn who’d come to fetch her, leaving Dieselette and I to our own devices. “But I don’t know how to get back to the barn!” I shouted after her, remembering the maze of forest paths we’d taken to get here.

“Just give Dieselette her head,” Devan said. “She knows her way home.”

I reluctantly chucked her the reins. The mare picked up an easy canter and set off into the dark woods, veering left or right at each split in trail without hesitation. My own self-confidence, on the other hand, was in tatters and we weren’t even halfway through the ride. Was I in over my head?

To be continued …

Keep up with my adventures in the lead-up to the 2017 Mongol Derby each week on Horse Nation, Eventing Nation and Jumper Nation, and tune into Horses in the Morning each Monday at 10 a.m. EST as I interview Derby crew and previous competitors. 

Each Derby competitor’s $12,995 entry helps benefit the Mongolian families whose generosity with their horses and their homes makes the race possible, as well as Cool Earth, a charity that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.

Can you help? Please visit the Wylie vs. Mongol Derby GoFundMe page — all donations are deeply and eternally appreciated! Corporate sponsorships are also available and include ad space on EN, HN and JN, product reviews and usage during the Derby and much more. Email [email protected] for details.

Join me in welcoming the newest sponsors in my Mongol Derby adventure! 

SmartPak Equine is already my go-to supplier for gear, supplements and all things equine, so there’s no way I’d head off to Mongolia without them! And you know they’re always up for an adventure. Their apparel line ticks all the boxes for me, from fit to fashion to function. I can’t wait to wear SmartPak on the steppe!

Not only does Fleeceworks make a fantastic product — my own pony goes in a Perfect Balance half pad every day — it’s a company with a conscience. Its “Pads with Purpose” program donates 10-15% of the purchase price of your item to your choice of Fleeceworks-supported charities, from food banks to cancer research to animal rescue. And Fleeceworks’ Easy Care Bamboo line goes hand-in-hand with the Derby’s official charity, Cool Earth.

Just gonna go ahead and venture a prediction that I’m going to need a grab strap out there — my pony can be “semi feral” every now and again, but it sounds like the horses I’m going to be riding are a whole new level of wild. And here’s hoping I never have to repurpose my belt as a tourniquet. Thanks in advance, C4, for the lifeline!

And a big thank you to all my sponsors:

What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: Eventing Equitation Challenge

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.

If you’re expecting ho-hum “inside, outside, inside, outside” hunter courses think again. A Maclay Medal class can have bounces, options, angles and more. Photo via MaclayMedal.com.

We eventers think of ourselves as tough, but how would you hang in a class full of Maclay Medal finalists? I’m pretty sure I’d get dismissed from the ring before I even made it to the first jump.

Equitation classes, especially at the highest levels, are fascinating studies in form meeting function, and it’s not surprising that many winners of the Maclay Final have gone on to represent the U.S. in international show jumping competition. From legends like Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot and George Morris to present-day Olympians, if you can win the Maclay, the sky’s the limit for your riding career. A handful of past Maclay winners, like J. Michael Plumb and Bernie Traurig, have even gone on to contest the upper echelons of eventing!

What can we learn from these masters of style? Plenty! Stride length and rhythm. Counting steps. Riding accurate lines. Making a plan and sticking to it.

MedalMaclay.com is home to a sketch collection of over 50 equitation courses from various national medal finals from the 1980s onward, and encourages riders to print them out and set them up in their rings at home.

Here’s one, for instance, that would be easy enough to set up.

Try riding it as is, then for an extra challenge attempt the “Test” described in the lower lefthand corner, used to determine the top placings. Which of the 2008 top four riders — Jessica Springsteen, Victoria Birdsall, Zazou Hoffman and Christy DiStefano–jumped it best?

You be the judge, then click here to find out who actually won the class.

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]

Tuesday Video from SpectraVET: Essex Horse Trials Prelim Top Three

Buck Davidson and Victor BZ. Photo: Joan Davis / Flatlandsfoto.

The much anticipated return of Essex Horse Trials after a 19-year hiatus went of beautifully over the weekend, attracting big crowds to enjoy a day of sport at historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills, N.J.

Buck Davidson captured the top four places in the Open Preliminary division, winning with Carl and Cassie Segal’s Victor BZ.

“It was fantastic,” Buck says of the event. “It turned out even better than I expected. Last year they showed me their dreams and for it to come off like this is unbelievable. It was so exciting to see all these people. These events don’t happen without the support of the community and the community sure showed up. They’ve done a great job here. I hope they are happy with the result. I sure am and I’ll definitely be back next year!”

Open Prelim top three videos, courtesy of The Horse Pesterer:

New York young rider Alice Roosevelt and Fernhill Zoro took the Preliminary Rider division win. Alice, age 16, is a junior in high school — meaning she wasn’t even born yet when the last Essex Horse Trials took place!

“I was not expecting to win, it meant a lot to see that all our hard work paid off,” she says. “It was a really great course, it rode really well. My goal here was just to put in my best effort. It’s so exciting to win and I am definitely happy that I came!”

Prelim rider top three videos, courtesy of The Horse Pesterer:

Why SpectraVET?

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SpectraVET is committed to providing only the highest-quality products and services to our customers, and to educating the world in the science and art of laser therapy.

We design and manufacture the broadest range of clinically-proven veterinary therapeutic laser products, which are represented and supported worldwide by our network of specialist distributors and authorized service centers.

Rest in Peace, Toytown

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Toytown, Zara Tindall’s esteemed four-star partner with whom she won Individual Gold and Team Silver at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Other career accomplishments include Individual Silver at the European Young Riders Championship in 2002, second at Burghley in 2003, second at Luhmühlen and Individual and Team Gold at the European Eventing Championships at Blenheim in 2005, and Team Gold at the European Eventing Championships at Pratoni del Vivaro in Rome in 2007.

Zara’s husband Mike announced the 24-year-old horse’s passing this afternoon on Twitter:

Standing 17 hands tall with a big blaze and birdcatcher spots, the big red gelding of unknown breeding had a big presence and was a cross country machine.

Zara officially retired Toytown from competition on the final day of the 2011 Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park. He made one last appearance before an adoring crowd in the main arena before heading to the green pastures of retirement in the Gloucestershire countryside of the Gatcombe Estate.

He made a post retirement public appearance with Zara at Cheltenham racecourse in 2012 as part of the London Olympics torch relay.

Rest in peace, Toytown.

Weekly OTTB Wishlist from Cosequin

While CANTER might not be the best place to shop for toddler-proof ponies …

… it’s a super resource for eventers in the market for their next superstar. Here are three OTTBs we talent-spotted on CANTER this week!

Photo courtesy of CANTER Delaware.

Moon Traveler (Malibu MoonDeputy Cures Blues, by War Deputy): 2009 16.2-hand Kentucky bred gelding

This good looking guy has a lot of class and it shows in his conformation and personality! Sound, no vices. A son of Malibu Moon (who always throws outstanding looking horses), Moon Traveler was a $325,000 2-year-old. He went on to be stakes placed, earning almost $200K but his heart is no longer into racing and his connections want to find him a great new job. Trainer says he is sound and clean-legged with no vices. RRP 2017 Makeover eligible. And CANTER notes that he will do ANYTHING for mints! Located at Delaware Park.

View Moon Traveler on CANTER Delaware.

Photo courtesy of CANTER California.

La Canpamocha (BushwackerGambler’s Beauty, by Awesome Gambler): 2014 16.3+hand California bred filly

Sport horse alert! This girl is athletic! She’s very sharp and alert, and super fit from racing. She had good feet and bone, and is reported to be sound, but just needs to fill out a little and isn’t done growing. With her big walk and look of the eagles, this mare seems like she could be a star event horse or jumper. Raced around 10 times but just is not winning. Experienced rider recommended. Located at Golden Gate Fields.

View La Canpamocha on CANTER California.

Photo via CANTER Maryland.

MJ Plus (Five Star DayGamblin’ Nan, by Pleasant Colony): 2009 16.2+hand Kentucky bred gelding

Last raced on June 9, 2017, this guy is currently getting turned out on a local farm and ready for a new career. He has been a successful racehorse, earning over $250K. He is reportedly 100% sound with no issues. His trainer says he is a “once in a lifetime horse” with a fantastic brain, perfect for timid amateurs or kids, and a big, loping stride. He’ll begin some re-schooling work in the near future if he doesn’t sell quickly, at which point his price will increase to reflect training time.

View MJ Plus on CANTER Maryland.

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: ‘Beefed-Up Maxed-Out Olympic Novice’ Stable View Helmet Cam

Carrie Stryker and Just for Today had a great go at Stable View H.T. this weekend, making short work of what Carrie described as a “beefed-up maxed-out Olympic Novice course.”

Carrie works as a vet tech at Southern Crescent Equine Services in Newnan, GA. “Sam,” a 10-year-old OTTB, was originally given to her because he was a bit feral as a youngster.

“A lot of people couldn’t hang with his buck, but Carrie took a lot of time and patience to build a real partnership with this horse,” says Jade Anderson-Tucker, who has been coaching the pair off and on for the past year.

Carrie and Sam finished third in their huge Open Novice division and are on track toward their goal of qualifying for the AECs this fall. Congrats!

Stable View Summer H.T. [Website] [Results]

Weekend Instagram Roundup: Happy 40th Anniversary, Groton House Farm H.T.!

Photo courtesy of Groton House Farm.

Happy anniversary, Groton House Farm H.T.! The event celebrated its 40th annual running over the weekend, with over 200 competitors contesting Novice through Intermediate-Prelim divisions. (View complete results here.)

The Hamilton, Massachusetts event is a beloved one, and it’s easy to see why: great courses, a family atmosphere, clockwork organization and serene natural setting.

Weekends are too short @tprinceeee @gcwinthrop @malcolmsee

A post shared by Robert H. Stevenson (@rhstevenson) on

The crown jewel of GHF’s cross country course is its water complex — it’s definitely on my stuff-to-jump bucket list. It’s the infinity edge pool of cross country obstacles, a tiered and multi-faceted design that can be approached from a number of directions, each pass offering horse and rider a different challenge. Check it out!

Can’t wait to be therw this weekend!!

A post shared by Megan Goshorn Gardiner (@gardiner.megan) on

Groton House weekend #horsewoman #horsesofinstgram #eventing

A post shared by Tracy Emanuel (@tracyemanuelphotography) on

🎉💕 Good boy Dondarrion 🐎#prelim #eventing #eventersofinstagram #ghf #dondarrion

A post shared by Caroline Teich (@teicheventing) on

14 years of course walks with the same goal…a romp in the water jump. A beautiful and unique one here at #grotonhouse

A post shared by sarahevansmoore (@sarahevansmoore) on

@arodday and Clover comin out of the water complex!! 🐎🍀💦 #ghf17 #grotonhousefarm

A post shared by @neclassicbeauty on

Ivan Ivan and @jeffie.chapin totally killing the water complex!

A post shared by Deacon Chapin (@dhchapin) on

So cool. Congrats to Groton House Farm for 40 outstanding years, and job well done to this weekend’s competitors!

Groton House Farm H.T. [Website] [Results]

#EventerSolutions: Well, At Least You Tried

Where there are #EventerProblems there are #EventerSolutions, as horse folks tend to be a pretty crafty, resourceful and frugal (read: broke) bunch.

In this spin-off series we spotlight some of your most inventive problem-solving masterpieces and determined DIY efforts — if if you don’t ALWAYS achieve the desired result. Be sure to tag your photos with the hashtag #EventerSolutions on social for inclusion in future editions!

Don’t forget your afternoon nap. #eventerproblems or would it be #eventersolutions ?

A post shared by Shoshana (@shoshanaloveshorses) on

Go Eventing!

#EventerProblems Vol. 121: All Aboard the Strugglebus

Have you taken a ride on the strugglebus lately? You’re not alone! That crapshow on wheels is full of smelly, stressed-out eventers just like me and you, and there’s always room for more.

Here’s your latest batch of #EventerProblems. Enjoy!

The jump judge at fence 5 really stinks. #eventerproblems #seenonmycoursewalk #smallwoodlandmammalsofinstagram

A post shared by Leslie Potter (@lesliepotterphoto) on

No I'm not washing haynets… #ironhorse #ironhorseridingacademy #industrialwashingmachine #eventerproblems #iwantthemtobewhiteagain

A post shared by A. Fix | Iron Horse Eventing (@ajackfix) on

How much did @izzyo11 want wine? #happyhour #thestruggleisreal #eventerproblems #shakennotstirred @hollypayneequestrian

A post shared by Blue Clover Eventing (@blueclovereventing) on

Beginner Novice dressage can really wear a dude out! #eventingnation #roebkesrun #eventerproblems

A post shared by Kristina (@kwhorton87) on

Horse show mornings at their finest #eventerproblems #eventingnation

A post shared by Kaitlin Slimak (@kamils89) on

Pretty much. ‍♀️ #horseworldproblems #eventerproblems

A post shared by Hailey Norby (@pnw.eventing) on

Well… my pony is somewhere out there. #eventerproblems #foggy

A post shared by Emily (@may_as_well_event) on

Hurry up and wait… #eventerproblems #weweregoingnowwewait #jheventing #carolinahorsepark #warhorseseries #itshot

A post shared by Jasmine Hobart (@jasminehobarteventing) on

Mud? What mud?! #tallhorse #marylandsmostwantedthoroughbred #eventhorse #eventerproblems #thoroughbred #ottb #muddymess #rain #stormyweather

A post shared by Lucas & Stilts & Bitsy (@longdogs_tallhorse) on

2 for 2 on the shoe hunt this a.m. #winning #eventerproblems #someonegetthefarrier

A post shared by Meagan (@mkequest) on

Big grey bag of #nope 😂😂😂 #farmlife #eventerproblems

A post shared by t-Rex Eventer (@trexeventer) on

What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: Cavaletti Chaos

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.

Kelley Shetter-Ruiz of Carpe Diem Training and her “pole dancing” partner, Tristan the Wonder Horse, are Internet famous for their YouTube videos of pick-up sticks looking ground pole exercises.

The pair, who have evented together through Novice, originally took to pole exercises to break up the monotony of Wisconsin winters in the indoor. Kelley writes on her blog:

“As the water buckets begin to freeze and the warm layers go on, we tend to find the arena walls closing in on us. By February, both horse and rider are ready to hibernate from the cold and from overall sheer boredom.

“This was where Tristan and I were last winter. I had been spending the winter conditioning him with gymnastics and simple pole work but his attitude was basically turning into ‘Mr. Crabby Pants’ from so much repetition. He could do four poles in a row, straight or curved, with his eyes shut. Even incorporating canter cavalettis became the ‘same old, same old.’  

“So one cold February day, I decided to turn a four-pole exercise into a 24-pole exercise. Tristan was hooked!  Each time I set up a different exercise, he would immediately walk over and try to figure out the pattern.  Indoor arena work became fun and challenging again, not to mention the amount of hind end strength he developed.”

As complicated as they look, Kelley’s exercises aren’t rocket science. She reports that she just thinks up a pattern and paces of 4 1/2 foot striding. Check out her book, Fun with Ground Poles, which outlines a number of beginner patterns complete with diagrams, measurements and riding tips. And/or just head out to your own ring and get creative!

A note from Kelley:

“Pole work is both educational and fun for both horse and rider, but as with any activity done with a horse, caution should always be used. I started walking Tristan over ground poles in hand as a weanling and have spent many years developing him into a handy, surefooted ground pole dancer.

“It is important to start slow and not overwhelm your horse with too challenging of an exercise. It is easy to overstimulate them both mentally and physically if asked too much. You can’t build Rome in a day, but with time every horse and rider, of any discipline, can discover their inner talent with ground pole work!”

Watch more videos from Kelley and Tristan on their YouTube channel here.

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]

Weekly OTTB Wishlist from Cosequin: CANTER PA Edition

Susan MacRae and Impromptu (Jockey Club name: Mo’s Secret Heart (Mo Mon/Saratoga Luck). Photo: Karin Naimark/Naimark Photography.

First things first, congrats to Susan MacRae, an eventer from Kintnersville, PA, and recipient of a 2017 CANTER Pennsylvania Becky Julian scholarship. The annual award allots a sum of $500 each to three deserving recipients, to be used for training purposes such as lessons, clinics, camps or seminars.

We asked Susan to tell us more about herself and her involvement with the Thoroughbred breed:

“I have been a fan of the Thoroughbred since I was a little kid, watching the big horse races in the 1970s (I was at the Ruffian/Foolish Pleasure match race, and the Seattle Slew Belmont! Yes, I’m old — haha!) but have only had them as my personal riding horses since 2000 or so. I started eventing on a little Quarter Horse but bought my first Thoroughbred shortly after that. Between my husband and me, we have had six Thoroughbreds, one of which I got from CANTER MidAtlantic.

“I trained and rode my first one to Preliminary. My husband Duncan (former Area II Chair) trained and rode his first one to Intermediate and did three long format three-days. We are both passionate supporters of the long format three-day. Then we had some bad luck with horse injuries, lost two (my CANTER horse was put down after a freak pasture accident, and Duncan’s horse collapsed while competing with me at Preliminary at Fair Hill in 2013).

“I’ve been struggling to get back in the groove since that happened. I bought another young Thoroughbred who was not at all interested in eventing (or me! bad match, but he is now happily doing hunters with a new owner). My “new” boy, whom I bought him in November of 2016, is turning out to be a wonderful partner and has given me back my confidence.”

Congrats again, Susan, and best of luck with your horse! This week, we’re spotlighting three horses from CANTER PA.

Photo via CANTER PA.

Fusedup (Lite the FuseWatsup, by Clever Champ): 2009 16.2-hand Pennsylvania bred gelding

Dreamy! A very nice boy, his trainer boasts that this guy is so pleasant to handle she’s never even seen him pin his ears. He’s always is eager to greet CANTER as they walk through the barn with an adorable expression and polite mannerisms. He’s spent nearly his entire career with his current connections, they know him well so you’ll get a long history with this one. A Buckaroo grandson, he’d be a nice choice for nearly any discipline from eventing to hunters. Worth seeing in person!

View Fusedup on CANTER PA.

Photo via CANTER PA.

Karobushka (Strategic Mission – Best Interview, by Private Interview): 2009 15.3-hand New Jersey-bred gelding

The big “Boo Bear!” A sweet, mellow fellow, this guy has an exceptional personality that would be welcome in any barn. In fact, “kind” doesn’t even begin to describe him —  he’s a happy-go-lucky sorta guy who doesn’t have a care or complaint in the world. He always has his head poking out his stall and loves to be loved; CANTER stops to see him weekly and he’s a perfect gentleman.

A lovely type with an athletic style of movement, there’s nothing this one couldn’t do, from hunters to eventing to western — this is the type of prospect that’s game for anything. He was super quiet for his listing and his connections are confident that anyone who comes out to see him will love him. Please note, he does have minor ankle rounding but CANTER has been told it is not an issue.

View Karobushka on CANTER PA.

Photo via CANTER PA.

Key of Dubai (E DubaiKey Definition, by Gentlemen (ARG) ): 2009 16-hand New York bred gelding

Athletic turf horse! An E Dubai son, this guy would be a nice choice as an eventer or dressage horse. He ran consistently on the grass, has done well for his connections, and accordingly they wish to find him a great home with someone who will consider him part of the family, just as they have. A special guy, CANTER thinks he could do really well in the right hands. Handsome!

View Key of Dubai on CANTER PA.