Leslie Wylie
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Leslie Wylie


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#EventerProblems Vol. 131: Get In Mah Belly!

Oh hay there! Welcome to yet another incarnation of #EventerProblems. This time, probably because I’m hungry and there is nothing in my fridge except beer, scary week-old Thanksgiving leftovers and some vials of Adequan, we’re featuring a very special food and drink edition.

Bon apetite!








Seriously though. #pony #fatpony #haybelly #eventer #amynelsoneventer #eventerproblems

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How eventers do lunch at a show #eventerproblems #gwifgoes #shavingsbagtable

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Go Eventing.

2028 Olympic Talent Watch: Kai Ekis, Age 7

The 2028 U.S. Eventing Team is already out there somewhere, and it’s up to us all to nurture their talent and their big dreams. “2028 Olympic Talent Watch” is an (adorable) new series in which we identify junior eventers who are already exhibiting the heart and the guts to lead American eventing to glory in the (distant) future. Any short-stirrup riders you know come to mind? Email us their story at [email protected]

Photo courtesy of Jill Ekis.

The only complaint that Kai Ekis, age 7, has about riding horses is that he sometimes gets mistaken for a girl.

From Jill Ekis, his mother: “You don’t see many boys out there. He always says, ‘Mom! Can’t they see I’m wearing a tie?’ I try to explain, ‘At your age, Kai, you all look the same under the helmet but a few more years in this and people will start to remember you. Especially if you work hard.’ That makes him happy.”

Kai has been around horses since he was a baby, as Jill rides and his dad was part of the Allegheny County Mounted Police when he was on patrol and rode horses in riot gear for crowd control. Jill rides as well, Kai inherited the horse bug and has been in a riding program for the past two and a half years, and 2017 was his first year of competing.

Photos courtesy of Jill Ekis.

“I certainly didn’t expect him to take to riding like he did,” Jill says. “As a mom we all hope our kids love it but you just never know.”

His sport of choice? Eventing!

Kai’s trainer Heather Birkmire of Silver Crest Equestrian Center, near Pittsburgh, Pa., is an eventer and OTTB enthusiast. She compliments her young pupil’s natural abilities and instincts, and noting his uncommon drive and courage not often seen in riders his age.

Photo by Miranda Akins/Photography In Stride.

His dressage training comes from Karen Pikovsky of 4R Horse Training, who pulled him out of the kids’ program to instruct him when he was starting to pick concepts up quickly.

Although Kai sticks to ponies for competition, he will jump just about any horse suitable to his size. Jill recently purchased a 13-year-old OTTB eventer whom she plans on showing next season, and the hope is that Kai will grow into the OTTB someday. Kai and Jill ride together and have started training with Dark Horse Farms and Amanda Wilson Eventing.

Photo by Miranda Akins/Photography In Stride.

At Kai’s first combined test, Jill says she was nervous. Kai had gotten a bit nervous the day before when his pony refused a wall during a schooling session, plus they were running late to show jumping and Kai hadn’t yet learned the course.

But Kai rose to the occasion. Jill recalls, “He watched a girl ride through once and gave the thumbs up to his trainer, and we both sat back and watched him rock it like a champ without any sign of stress and we really knew he had something special. He works amazing well under pressure and continues to surprise his family and trainers alike.”

Photo courtesy of Jill Ekis.

Kai’s latest competition wasn’t a combined test or mini trial but 2-foot classes at hunter show to help him get past his nerves of jumping walls.

“I know there are plenty of kids out there who jump, but he does it with such bravery and challenges himself to take the next steps,” Jill says.

Best of luck to Kai! Hang in there, buddy — you have plenty of great male role models to look up to in this sport!


Let’s Discuss: What Is Your Fantasy 2022 WEG Venue?

My fantasy vote goes to Rome, with dressage and show jumping to be held in the majestic Stadio dei Marmi and cross country running through beautiful Italian wine country! Photo by Stefano Grasso/Longines Global Champions Tour.

The 2022 World Equestrian Games is the hot potato of equestrian championships — nobody seems to hang onto it for very long. To recall, in December 2016 the FEI named Lexington and Slovakia’s Samorin the official candidates to host the WEG; then, in January, the Kentucky Horse Park withdrew itself from consideration, explaining that they did not think it would be “economically feasible,” leaving the Samorin Equestrian Centre as the only official bidder.

But at last week’s FEI General Assembly, it was announced that Samorin had decided to not sign the WEG host agreement and had subsequently withdrawn its bid. The FEI Bureau has decided to reopen the bidding process under a revised timeline, with the host to be allotted at the FEI Bureau meeting in November 2018.

“We are confident there will be candidates, but these are complex Games and we need to make sure we do it right,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos told the General Assembly.

Loads of candidates, we’re sure! Step right up!

We thought we’d kick-start the nomination process. Which brings us to this week’s “Let’s Discuss” question: Who would you like to see host the 2022 WEG? Think outside the box and remember — in this thought experiment, at least, money is no object!

It doesn’t have to be an established equestrian venue like Lexington or Tryon; consider the 2014 Normandy WEG’s conversion of a soccer stadium into its main arena. Lots of swanky NFL stadiums sitting around here collecting dust in the offseason, just sayin’. Maybe you’d like to see cross country run through Central Park or Augusta National Golf Club, or the rainforest or the Mongolian steppe. Dream big! Who knows, the FEI seems to be grasping for straws anyway, maybe we can shake loose a lead or two.

Share your wildest 2022 WEG fantasy venue in the comments section below! 


Weekend Instagram Roundup: A Pine Top Thanksgiving Tradition

I love horsey holiday traditions. Growing up my family’s Thanksgiving tradition was attending Tennessee Valley Hunt’s opening day meet, my two sisters and I riding and my parents following along in the tally ho wagon. The hunt was hosted by a beautiful farm nestled in a bend of the Holston River, and the sight of horses and hounds in the early morning mist could have been a Christmas card. There were bagpipes and warm cider and a big breakfast afterward, and I’ll always be thankful for those memories, and for my family and our horses and the incredible community of horse people who made it possible.

I know many Area 3 eventers feel the same way about Pine Top Thanksgiving Horse Trials. It’s a special event, the penultimate on the 2017 calendar, and many thanks to Janet and Glenn Wilson for opening their arms to the eventing family during the holidays.

A rundown of the weekend’s winners:

Open Prelim: Carmen Schatte & Lady Elvira (30.5)
Prelim/Training: Elizabeth Henry & Charlotte La Bouff (32.8)
Open Training: Emily Beshear & Shame on the Moon (29.3)
Training Rider A: Erin Jarboe & Sir Rockstar (42.6)
Training Rider B: Amy Kaplan & FGF Salisbury Knight (36.1)
Training/Novice: Mellisa Warden & Schikeria (34.9)
Open Novice A: Kate Brown & Dylano Q (25.3)
Open Novice B: Alex Martone & Goldpower (30.8)
Novice Rider A: Jenny Tucker Brinkley & Guinness X (29.3)
Novice Rider B: Emily Thomas & Ohio (33.8)
Open Beginner Novice: Pippa Moon & Bling (30.3)
Beginner Novice Rider A: Marlena Schlerman & The Golden Ticket (32.1)
Beginner Novice Rider B: Elise Mooney & First Lyte (27.9)

See final results here.

A few of your photos from the event:



Good job Frankie!!

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Pine Top the night before cross country.

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Best #xc coaching in the country!! #gwif #pinetopeventing #kidsofeventers #dogsofinstagram

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be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire ✨

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Go Eventing.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Sexiest Black Event Horse of Them All?

Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon at Lumühlen 2015. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Maybe it’s emotional residue from one too many The Black Stallion viewings as a kid, but there’s just something about seeing an event horse the color of polished onyx that makes my heart skip a beat. And when their performance matches their tall, dark and handsome good looks … swoon.

Since it’s Black Friday, I put together a list of black (or, in some cases, technically dark brown, but for all practical purposes they look black) three- and four-star horses from the past five or so years. Who is the sexiest of them all? Let’s put it to a vote!

Before you slaughter me in the comments for leaving out your favorite black horse, keep in mind that the list is meant to be recent (sorry, Charisma!) and not all-inclusive — I’m just working off the top of my head, and said head is still running a bit slow from the all-day booze cruise that was Thanksgiving Day. But do feel free to write-in vote for other horses!

3, 2, 1 … Have a Great Black Friday! An Online Shopping Sale Roundup

Shopping for your horse is way more fun than shopping for, say, that sister-in-law who kept giving you judge-y looks during Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. “Like, what, is there hay in my hair or something?” you ask your husband afterward. “Of course not,” he replies. “But … there is a green slobber stain on your sweater.”

It happens. Well, nothing like a little Black Friday retail therapy to make everything right, and if you’ve been scouring the Internet for sales you’ve come to the right place! We’ve teamed up with our amazing advertisers to compile a list of deals and special promotions you don’t want to miss.

Black Country Saddles is giving away five tubs of Leather Balsam. Like and comment on this Facebook post for a chance to win! The contest ends Nov. 30. It’s Black Friday … seems a fitting time to consider a new or pre-owned Black Country Saddle! Click here to visit the website.

Horseware Ireland is offering 20% and free shipping on Triple Crown custom rugs and accessories. Keep your eyes peeled after Thanksgiving for exclusive online offers to their full range of custom blankets, plus new additions to the TCC range! Click here to shop.

Majyk Equipe is having a Black Friday Flash Sale, with specials happening all day. Between now and Dec. 22 receive a holiday gift bag/backpack with every boot pair purchase. Click here to shop. Hot tip: Majyk’s brand new SIZE SMALL (!) Color Elite XC Boots drop today! Check out Jenni’s review of them here.

Nupafeed USA is offering a special one-day only Cyber Monday sale. Details haven’t yet been released (I hope it involves their game-changing L-Carnitine supplement because I am out!), but we’ll be keeping an eye out! Click here to shop.

Professional’s Choice is offering deep discounts on a variety of products including boots, blankets, saddle pads, wraps, spurs, rider apparel, barn supplies and even gear for your dog! We’re talking quality items sold at half or even a third of their retail value! Click here to shop English clearance items.

SmartPak is offering 15% off all purchases, plus free shipping on orders over $75 and a free hat on orders over $100. Use coupon code Holiday17. They will also have special doorbuster deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Click here to shop. PLUS SmartPak’s 25 Deals of Christmas started this week to bring you up to 50% savings on special products all through the holidays. Click here to sign up for the 25 Deals of Christmas and receive a new deal in your inbox each day.

Standlee Hay is offering $10 off when you buy four Standlee products. Click here to shop. And keep an eye on their Facebook page for a Christmas giveaway coming soon!

Tack of the Day‘s Black Friday offerings include price-slashed HUG Big & Tall rugs and Mountain Horse outerwear. Click here to shop.

Tipperary Equestrian is offering 20% off any purchase you make from PhoenixPerformance.com. Shop helmets (check out Wylie’s review of the new 8700 Sportage Hybrid here), cross country vests and more! Use the coupon code BLKF2017. Click here to shop.

World Equestrian Brands is kicking off the holidays with a Black Friday through Cyber Monday Storewide Sale! Get 20% off all online orders (some exclusions apply). Enter coupon code WAHOO at checkout. Plus, get free shipping between now from now through Dec. 14! And keep an eye on their Facebook page as they kick off “15 Days of Magic” to score amazing deals on top brands. Click here to shop.

Know of any awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for horse enthusiasts? Let us know in the comments below. Go Shopping!




Event Horse Names: Pumpkin Party!

‘Tis the season for pumpkin ALL THE THINGS.

Need jump decoration? Kick some pumpkins out there!

Need a horse? Look no further than the world’s most versatile squash.

And this photo really just speaks for itself:

#minihorse #pumpkinhorse #iloveRio #2mthsold @worldofminiaturehorses

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And pumpkin spice isn’t just for Starbucks lattes anymore. Pumpkin spice bit wipes, pumpkin spice dewormer, pumpkin spice helmet spray … Kristen Kovatch posits the philosophical question, “If you’re not pumpkin spicing everything, are you even really experiencing fall?” and considers all the possible equestrian pumpkin spice applications in this post over at Horse Nation.

But how about pumpkin event horse horse names? The following names are registered in the USEA horse database:

Graphic by EN.

For some of them, the inspiration behind their name was pretty obvious: the horses are largely chestnuts, as well as one palomino and strawberry roan. But Natalie Hollis’ Thoroughbred mare My Pumpkin Pie is … a plain bay?

Aside from a grandsire named Marshmallow Pie, Natalie wasn’t sure what the story was behind her horse’s name. So she turned to her breeder, Virginia Benz, a dear family friend who owned Natalie’s Advanced horse. Virginia stood the Thoroughbred at her farm in southern Illinois and bred a few purpose-bred-for-eventing Thoroughbreds each year. Natalie has had several of My Pumpkin Pie’s siblings and reports that all are doing well at eventing, dressage and jumpers.

Virginia’s answer: “Guess it was my ‘fruit and veggies’ period. Had two fillies — one was Peaches and the other Pumpkin, couldn’t register her as Pumpkin, so it was My Pumpkin Pie.”

Fair enough! Best of luck to My Pumpkin Pie, who has been on a tear at the Beginner Novice level, winning her last three events with Cindy Anderson in the irons while Natalie recovers from a torn meniscus in her knee.


Natalie Hollis and My Pumpkin Pie. Photo courtesy of Natalie Hollis.

Happy Thanksgiving, EN, and may all your pumpkin wishes come true!

In case you missed them, check out these previous editions of Event Horse Names: Authors, Books & CharactersBattle of the BoozeThe Empire BusinessMonster TrucksCelebritiesSnowSt. Paddy’s DayFourth of JulyChristmas and What’s For Breakfast?

What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: Bounces on a Curve with Richard Lamb

We were super excited to see that Major League Eventing has launched a series of training videos featuring visiting trainers from all three eventing phases. Their first episode features USEA Level III instructor Richard Lamb, who demonstrates one of his favorite jumping exercises: a series of three or four bounces set on a curve. Richard says he uses this scalable exercise for horses and riders of all levels to help improve bend, become more active and learn to use their whole body.

A note from Richard: “I would like to thank Rob Bowersox for inviting me to be the clinician for his first video on his new venture Major League Eventing. We had a great time shooting the footage over two days. And I want to thank Martha Nevins and her husband Michael for hosting me while we shot the video during a clinic I was teaching. Marti also very generously allowed two of her nice young horses to be featured in the video. Marti is riding Spencer, her 5 rising 6 yr-old OTTB who is starting his career as a show jumper. In the second part of the video, I am sitting on her nice young 6-year-old old mare GiGi, by Judgment, a Grand Prix show jumping stallion standing at Iron Springs Farm.”

We can’t wait for the next video!

“Major League Training” episode #2 coming soon!

Posted by Major League Eventing on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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

Q&A With BadEventer Groom & Body Clipping Wizard Tegan Henderson

Laura’s two-star horse Quatar Z, nickname “Zebrasaurus.” Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

If you follow Laura Szeremi (a la BadEventer, a misnomer because she is actually very good!) on social media, you may have noticed that her horses have been looking like something out of an African safari of late. When it comes to body clipping, Laura encourages her groom, Tegan Henderson, to … shall we say … take a walk on the wild side! Recently, we caught up with Tegan to ask her a few questions about herself and her body clipping magicianry. #TeganIsAWizard

EN: What’s your riding background?

Tegan: I grew up with horses and ponies in my backyard (and sometimes in the house) and fell in love with three-day eventing through my years in the Southern New England Region Pony Club. My mother gave me my base in equitation as a child/young adult and I was later taught by Jeanie Clarke, a New England native, who I eventually followed to Ocala, FL.

Tegan and her ponies as a kid. Photos courtesy of Tegan Henderson.

EN: When did you get into grooming?

Tegan: When I moved to Ocala in 2014, it wasn’t long before I realized this was the place to be! I changed my address, shaved my scruffy dog, and settled in. I had previously only groomed for myself at home and thus, there was a lot of blundering and learning to be had during my first couple years. In 2016 I started as a part time groom for the OG herself, The BadEventer … and now she’s somehow stuck with me as her full time groom/barn manager/support crew!

Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

EN: What does your average day look like?

Tegan: Hmmm, let’s say this is our average jump day because those are more fun. I start at Laura’s farm, Lazer Ray Stables, to feed and do morning chores. We head over to the Holling’s right down the road to jog up all the competition horses and then we start the fun part. I’ll get horses ready for Laura and if it isn’t too tight of a schedule I’ll come watch and video her lessons before getting the next horse ready. Between her, the horses and Jon Holling there is sure to be antics and some good blog fodder. After lessons I’ll ice and clean tack then head back to Lazer Ray to feed and do evening chores.

The “Baby T Rex.” Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

EN: Laura is one of my favorite people in the sport. What’s it like to work for her?

Tegan: We have a blast together! I think what makes us a fun team is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Good horsemanship is crucial to us both, and nothing is more important than the well-being of the horses and our sport. BUT Laura has managed to retain a sense of her inner child in the BadEventer that myself and many others appreciate. I’m not sure I’ll ever grow up, but I do get to express my youthful adoration for the horses through my clip jobs, and people seem to think they’re a real laugh which is great.

Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

EN: You’ve come up with some very creative clips! What’s the inspiration behind them?

Tegan: My inspiration comes from the horses nicknames and show names. I have an immature sense of humor that lends itself to the whimsical or funny sense I want to create with them. I hope everyone can either laugh at them or say “Dammit, that’s amazing!” Hopefully they’ll say both.

Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

EN: What are some of your favorites?

Tegan: So far my favorites have been the spiderwebs and the zebra! Zima has been shaved like a zebra for about a week and I still crack up everytime I see him.

Photos courtesy of Laura Szeremi.

EN: I HATE body clipping with a passion. Do you have any clipping wizardry pro tips for the rest of us?

Tegan: Well it always starts with a thorough bath! I plan in advance what pattern or image I want to shave and where I’m going to put it. Once I have my image I’ll draw it onto the horse with sharpie. Black works on most colors but if you’ve got a dark horse silver is the way to go. If you don’t feel confident drawing freehand you can always print and trace your image onto the horse. Utilize space, bigger shapes will be easier to shave. Once I have my design in place I just shave around it! I also always do the design portion of the clip first. That way if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I can just try again on the other side or in some other location.

Tegan in her element. Photo courtesy of Tegan Henderson.

EN: Do you take on other clipping clients?

Tegan: When I have time I love to clip for other clients, especially when we can make something special or funny that people will really enjoy!

Teamwork makes the dream work! Photo courtesy of Laura Szeremi and Tegan Henderson.

Thanks for sharing, Tegan. Best of luck to the BadEventer dream team in 2018!

Weekend Instagram Roundup: Full Speed Ahead at Fresno County Horse Park H.T.

What in the world is that in the background of this Fresno County Horse Park H.T. photo? Answer: It’s the construction of a high speed rail viaduct, for a train that will connect L.A. and San Francisco in two hours 40 minutes. Pretty cool, and right in line with the Park’s train theme!

Although it was initially thought that the rail would run through the Park’s stabling area, it turns out that the construction has done little to interrupt equestrian activity at the venue. Fresno County Horse Park, formerly known as Ram Tap, is the second longest continuous three-day event in the country, with effuse credit owed to real estate developer and low-level eventer John Marshall for his heroic efforts to preserve the event.

As an East Coaster, FCHP looks like an entirely different planet. The sepia earth, the industrial “steel forest” backdrop … I mean, it’s no Rebecca Farm, but there’s something striking about it nonetheless.

#Sunset over the 'steel forest' at Fresno after a great day of #eventing Can't believe the 2017 season ends tomorrow!

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Fresno County Horse Park’s final event of the year was held over the weekend. Congrats to the winners! View full results here.

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

Whatever you do, don't touch the brush. PC: @nicolegizelle #eventing #blmmustang #crosscountry #greenhorse

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her number one fan helps her number one fan #gypsycamp

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WR Eventing had an awesome weekend at Fresno to finish off the season! Caroline and Quinn had a super weekend to put another great Novice under their belts! Megan and Beau ended their show season to take home second in SR BN! Mickayla and Turbo continue to set the bar high finishing 3rd in SR BN! Tanisha was a good sport and catch rode Tori's horse Cooper to bring home a 5th in SR BN despite the fact that she hasn't jumped in over a year. We thought she looked great! Tori and Zara had their Eventing debut together to bring home 2nd in Intro A. Good baby horse! Tori also did a catch ride on Gracie the adorable Gypsy Vanner. Gracie was super all weekend and everyone loved her. She is ready for her kid to take her for a spin next! We finally convinced Summer to come out of retirement after 10 +years being out of the show ring. She did spectacular to pilot Teake around her Eventing debut at Intro to finish 5th! So proud of the team this weekend, we can't wait to come out and rock it next year!

A post shared by Webb Ranch Eventing Team (@wr_eventing) on


Well done to all. Go Eventing!

Wire-to-Wire Win for Clarke Johnstone at Australian International 4*

Clarke Johnstone (1st), Sonja Johnson (2nd) and Stuart Tinney (3rd). Photo by Julie Wilson and Lauren Roberts, courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation clinched a definitive win in the 2017 Australian International Mitsubishi Motors CCI4*, leading the division from start to finish. In today’s show jumping finale they left nothing to chance, turning in a textbook round.

“I have said this before, he is an amazing horse and I am very lucky to be riding him,” Clarke said of the 13-year-old NZ Warmblood gelding owned by the Johnstone family. “He has been focused all weekend. I always knew he was a great jumper and I am proud of what we have achieved over the last three days. I would like to thank the event organizers for putting on a wonderful event in the beautiful Adelaide Parklands and I hope to come back next year to defend my title.”

Megan Jones and Kirby Park Impress were the only other pair to jump clear around the course, securing them a 2nd place finish. Despite controversy about about a revoked 50-point cross country jump penaltyStuart Tinney and War Hawk rounded out the top three, moving into the spot vacated by Sonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino who were relegated to 5th after dropping three rails.

View CCI4* results here.

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo by Julie Wilson and Lauren Roberts, courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

The RM Williams CIC3* saw another wire-to-wire win in Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill, who finished on a score of 61. They had a rail in hand heading into show jumping today but didn’t need it, claiming the title ahead of 2nd placed Shane Rose and Swiper and 3rd placed Andrew Cooper and Lagoes Choice.

“Adelaide had some time off eventing, focused on dressage, and I was not sure if he was going to get back into the three phases,” Christine said. “He is a remarkable horse who has the skills and determination to be able to adapt himself to any situation. When we decided to enter the Australian International, we came to win and I knew he had the capability to do so. He had a great dressage, a solid cross country and although he is not the best at jumping, he did an amazing job. I’ve had a great weekend and am delighted to have got the win.”

View CIC3* results here.

Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill. Photo by Julie Wilson and Lauren Roberts, courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

In the Horseland CCI2*, Emma Mason and Warrego Marco Polo took the title on a final score of 55.3. Show jumping was an influential phase, with only two out of 20 pairs jumping clear and inside the time. Emma had one rail down to switch positions with the leaders going into show jumping, Chelsea Priestly and Skansen Purist, who felled two.

“Marcus and I are a relatively new combination and I am thrilled with how everything came together this weekend,” Emma said. “He is a wonderful horse with a fabulous temperament, and he showcased his potential in front of an energetic crowd. Australia International is a wonderful event and is a pleasure to be a part of.

“After being in 5th place following the dressage, I knew we had to have a strong cross country over a challenging track and to back this up in the jumping. Marcus performed really well and I am proud of the way he managed all the phases, and I am over the moon to get the win.”

View CCI2* results here.

Australian International CCI4* Top 10: 

Australian International 3DE Links: WebsiteFinal ResultsFEI TV

Clarke Johnstone Maintains Lead Through Australia International 4* Cross Country

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are still sitting atop the CCI4* leaderboard at the conclusion of Australia International’s cross country day. The pair added 8.8 time faults to their winning dressage score and will head into show jumping on a 54.7.

“It was right up there,” Clarke remarked. “It was hard.”

The Mike Etherington-Smith designed cross country track wound its way from the main arena down through the trees, creeks and lakes of the beautiful Adelaide Parklands. Check out a Cross Country App preview of the CCI4* course with audio from Mike and Sam Griffiths here.

Clarke and the 13-year-old NZ Warmblood gelding owned by the Johnstone family have a well-established partnership; Balmoral Sensation was his 2016 Rio Olympic mount, where they finished 6th. They finished 3rd at their first four-star together, the 2015 Australian 3DE, and 6th at their most recent outing at the level at Badminton last year.

“He is always pretty wild before the cross country,” Clarke said. “He is always pretty wild before the cross country. I could hardly control him this morning at the first warmup, but once he gets out of the start box he is completely focused, 100%. He doesn’t notice anything at all except what is in front of him. I am really lucky to ride that horse.”

Sonja Johnson and her young but talented Misty Isle Valentino rose from 14th position after dressage into 2nd on the wings of a clear round with two time faults. Sadly, the horse she left the box in 2nd place on, her longtime partner Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison (“Ben”), sustained an injury during the gallop from the penultimate to the final fence on course after which they retired. Sonja later reported on her Facebook page that it was a rupture of the medial retinaculum, a hock ligament, and that the outlook was favorable. “The vets have been great,” she wrote. “I have been told horses have recovered and gone four-star again.”

Sonja rode the latter first and Misty Isle Valentino second, and commented on her day of mixed fortunes: “I think it was a pretty exciting run for a young horse and I wanted to do him justice and stayed focused, but I must admit that my first question when I crossed the finish line with Valentino was ‘How’s Ben?’ even though I knew there was nothing else I could do. He was in good hands with the Australian team vet Nathan Anthony and his owner (Nikki Harwood).”

The 3rd and 4th positioned pairs had big leaps up the scoreboard as well. Stuart Tinney and War Hawk moved from 15th to 3rd having just two time faults, while Andrew Cooper and Tasman Park Ovation moved from 16th to 4th with one of only two fault-free rounds of the day.

Fourteen of 20 cross country starters completed the course, with a small scattered handful of problems throughout. The biggest troublemaker was the ABC combination at fence #8, the Horse Deals Hayracks and Double Corners, which course designer Mike Etherington-Smith called “a real rider fence” and “one of the more difficult combinations on course.” It was the site of four refusals and one rider fall. View the cross country fence analysis here.

It was a bittersweet day for Adelaide International, as the event’s director of 10 years and two-time Olympic gold medalist Gillian Rolton passed away in the mid-afternoon after a two-year battle with cancer. As a rider, official, organizer, selector and coach, Gillian was an incredible figure in both the Australian and global eventing community. We thank Gillian for all of her contributions to the sport, and the entire EN team sends its most sincere condolences to the Rolton family today.

The Australian International 3DE continues with show jumping tomorrow. Best of luck to all competitors!

Australian International 4* Top 10 After Cross Country:


Australian International 3DE Links: WebsiteCross Country Results, Show Jumping Order of GoScheduleFEI TV




Australian Eventing Olympic Gold Medalist Gillian Rolton Passes Away at 61

Michael Jung accepts his ribbon from Gillian Rolton at Luhmühlen 2014. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Join us in honoring the life of Gillian Rolton, who passed away today at the age of 61 following a battle with cancer. Her passing came at 3 p.m. during cross country day at the Australian International Three-Day Event in Adelaide, of which Gillian has been event director for the past 10 years.

Gillian competed in two Olympic Games, at Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She helped Australia to team gold at both Games riding Peppermint Grove. Her first gold at Barcelona was a milestone in Australian eventing as she became the first Aussie female to medal at any Olympic Games or World Championships. Memorably, in the 1996 Games, she broke her collarbone and ribs when Peppermint Grove fell cross country but remounted and completed the course.

Gillian was a member of the Equestrian Australia Hall of Fame, in 2000 was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and was one of eight flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the 20000 Sydney Olympics. After retiring from competition, her dedication to the sport continued as a coach and official, serving on the ground jury at the 2012 London Olympics and heading the jury at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy. She has also been active as the EFA National Young Eventing Rider Squad coach as well as an Australian eventing team selector.

Gillian had been battling endometrial cancer for the past two years. When the cancer was discovered to be terminal in September, she was admitted to the hospital in Adelaide, where she continued her work on the organization of this year’s Australian International 3DE from her hospital bed. We are glad she lived to see this year’s event successfully and happily underway.

We thank Gillian for all of her contributions to the sport, and the entire EN team sends its most sincere condolences to the Rolton family today.

Clarke Johnstone Leads Australian International 4* Dressage + XC Course Preview

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are heading up the leaderboard at the conclusion of Mitsubishi Motors Australian International 3DE dressage. Their score of 45.9 was good enough to top the 20 horse field.

It was a wet and windy day in the parklands of Adelaide, and Balmoral Sensation had a nearly 24-hour journey from New Zealand, but the pair made the best of it.

“He is an amazing horse and I am very lucky to be riding him,” Clarke says. “He had a slight issue earlier on, but we worked through this and, overall, I thought the test went very well.”

Clarke and the 13-year-old NZ Warmblood gelding owned by the Johnstone family have a well-established partnership; Balmoral Sensation was his 2016 Rio Olympic mount, where they finished 6th. They finished 3rd at their first four-star together, the 2015 Australian 3DE, and 6th at their most recent outing at the level at Badminton last year.

“Taking everything into consideration, I am very happy to be in the lead at this early stage,” Clark says. “He is a great jumper, with a lovely temperament and I am looking forward to what we can both produce over the next two days.”

Of the event itself, Clarke noted that it is the only 4* in the Southern Hemisphere and an important event for 2018 World Equestrian Games selection. “The location of the event is unlike any other in the world and its proximity to the city makes it extremely unique. With a great crowd, I would go so far as saying this is my favorite event in the world.”

In second we’re looking at Australia’s Sonja Johnson with Parkiarrup Illicit Liason (49.5), with another Aussie Megan Jones and Kirby Park Impress (49.6) rounding out the top three.

Check out this Cross Country App preview of the CCI4* course with audio from Mike Etherington Smith and Sam Griffiths. A special thanks to assistant course designer Sylvia Williams-Roberts for the course recording.

Australian International 4* Dressage Top 10: 

Australian International 3DE Links: WebsiteDressage ResultsXC Order of GoScheduleFEI TV

North Americans Strike Gold at Ireland’s Goresbridge Sale

The top-grossing sale at Goresbridge was Gurtea Mattie Clover, who was purchased for €130,000. Photo courtesy of the Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale.

It’s been a busy past couple weeks for event horse shopping in Ireland, between the Monart Event Horse Sale (see EN’s roundup of North American acquisitions here) and the Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale, both of which were held in Co. Wexford.

The Gorebridge sale took place Monday through Wednesday of this week and featured a range of bright young prospects, including top grossing sale Gurtea Mattie Clover, a 5-year-old full brother to Nicola Wilson’s four-star mount Annie Clover, who was purchased by Gerard Alan Kemp of the UK for a hefty sum of €130,000 — that’s over $150,000. Woof!

The sale was well attended by U.S. and Canadian buyers and advisors, and we can’t wait to see their new mounts in action. Here is a roundup of North American Goresbridge purchases!

Carrie Meehan procured the handsome Cougar’s Crest:

Teresa Loughlin is bringing home GRC CU Chulainn, who looks to have plenty enough scope!

Cormac Kennedy purchased two fun-looking, well-bred youngsters:

We look forward to following Daniel Clasing and his two new redheaded rides:

Love the chrome on Raina King‘s new ride:

Katlyn Hewson of Canada found an awesome prospect in this 4-year-old:

Check out the hops on this one, now proudly owned by Mimi Falb:

Who can pick up their knees higher? Michael Nolan and Robin Walker picked up this high-flying 3-year-old:

View complete sales results here. To all those horse coming stateside, welcome!


2028 Olympic Talent Watch: Carsynn Oakes, Age 9

The 2028 U.S. Eventing Team is already out there somewhere, and it’s up to us all to nurture their talent and their big dreams. “2028 Olympic Talent Watch” is an (adorable) new series in which we identify junior eventers who are already exhibiting the heart and the guts to lead American eventing to glory in the (distant) future. Any short-stirrup riders you know come to mind? Email us their story at [email protected]

Photo courtesy of Emily Oakes.

You might say that Carsynn Oakes, age 9, was born to ride. Shortly after she was born her [north Texas?] eventer mom Emily would tuck her into her stroller and take her to the barn with me where she would nap and play while Emily rode.

As she got older, being contained to the stroller was too much and Emily would allot her an end of the arena where she’d play in the dirt with dump trucks and shovels until she finished her ride. “She’d often trot, canter, and gallop in circles on her imaginary horses, Buck and Eyeball, or
get into trouble with her imaginary dog, Jumper, and cat, Meow-Meow,” Emily recalls.

By the time she was 3, she’d spend her time in the round pen with Pooka, the Oakes’ now 24-year-old Welsh/Pinto pony. Sweet Pooka soaked up the attention as she led him around, loved on him, or shared her bubbles with him.

Photo courtesy of Emily Oakes.

At the ripe old age of 4, Carsynn become one of the few people Emily trusted to feed her small herd as she knew the amount of feed, hay, and supplements needed for each horse in the barn. Emily recalls a time when she left Carsynn with her grandmother, as she had to go to a parent night for her older son. She was pleasantly surprised to come home and find the stalls clean and the horses happily munching on hay — Carsynn had coached her grandmother through evening chores.

Carsynn helping out around the barn: 

“I also recall my dad’s surprise when, at 3 years old, she schooled him on why we fed beet pulp to my upper level eventer and it why it had to be soaked first. She also shared why he had to be given Cimetidines before each feeding. Dad was a bit flabbergasted that a 3 years old, she could even pronounce those words, much lesss know what they were!”

“Carsynn’s friends and teachers will only ever call her sweet, but at home we see a strong willed, hard-working, driven, perfectionist,” Emily says. “Carsynn has goals! She waited patiently to begin to work towards them while I navigated grad school and the horses rested for a few years. But now that the time has arrived, she not only helps care for her pony and the rest of the herd daily, but hurries to finish homework after school so that we can haul to an evening lesson or clean tack and bathe her itchy pony before a show. She’s the first to jump to help unload feed and never hesitates to lug a bag of bedding to a stall when needed.”

Over the summer, the Oakes family returned from a nine-day vacation to find Carsynn’s pony dehydrated and colicking. Carsynn walked and stood with her pony under the fan in the barn aisle until the vet arrived. Dr. Mary, the vet on call, remembered caring for Pooka two years prior when he colicked in the spring, and shared that Carsynn had left her a letter that thanked them for taking care of her pony while she was at school and prepared them for what her pony Pooka would do, and how upset his much larger buddy Connell would be and that he would likely get in the way and try to help.

“She was right about all of it,” Dr. Mary recalled. After the vet oiled Pooka and gave him fluids, she went to Emily and said “He loves her. He really does.”

Photo courtesy of Emily Oakes.

“And she loves him equally as much,” Emily says. “They seem to know each other inside and out, and as his previous owner said in a post after their first horse trial together, ‘He looks out for her, and she looks out for him.’ Carsynn knows how lucky she is to have him and knows that no matter how wonderful her next pony is, and Cheese and Crackers is truly sweet and wonderful, no pony will ever be like Pooka to her.”

Currently, the Oakes are repainting standards and jump poles, and let Carsynn choose the colors. She insisted upon teal and purple, not only because they are her favorite, but because they honor her grandmother who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

“Grandmommy wanted nothing more than to see her girl ride her pony and loved seeing the confidence that blossomed in Carsynn as soon as she began regular lessons,” Emily says. “I remember Beverly telling me how she held back tears one evening that she and Carsynn came upon a jumper show on TV and enjoyed it together. ‘Someday, you’re going to watch me do that, Grandmommy.’ I hope her colors never change and that she always rides in honor of her Grandmommy.”

Carsynn has had a busy fall, passing her D2 rating with flying colors as a member of Silver Stirrups Pony and preparing to go for her D3 rating in December. This young lady works hard and she is one tough cookie!

Let’s Discuss: How Do You Deal With Daylight Savings?

Each week in “Let’s Discuss” we open a different topic up for discussion. Have a discussion starter? Email it to [email protected]

Yesterday at around sunset about four cars came careening into the parking lot of the farm where I board my pony, all of us girls with day jobs racing to squeeze in a few minutes of ride time before it got dark. I swear one of them, Kathryn Greenfield, had a leg out the door before her car was even stopped. It was full-on nighttime by the time we got off our horses. Short winter days are bad enough without making them shorter with daylight savings … can we please just keep it “spring forward” year-round?

Which brings us to this week’s “Let’s Discuss” question: How do YOU deal with daylight savings? From rearranging your schedule to DIY solutions to working in the dark (see Kate’s Instagram photo above), let the idea swapping begin in the comments section below!


#EventerSolutions: DIY Nation

You’ve got problems … we’ve got solutions. Or, at the very least, we have a harebrained idea and some duct tape. Here are a few of the best examples of eventing DIY-itude we’ve seen of late!

'Icing' post ride, Alberta style! #eventersolutions #albertahorsetrials #itwasminus20too

A post shared by Renate Price (@love.laugh.ride) on

Thanks, mystery person at work, for all these treats for the barn! #score #eventersolutions

A post shared by Lisa Colburn (@xkyaliix) on






When the boots are broke, but you are too… #eventerproblems #eventersolutions #atleastitsblack

A post shared by Brooklyn Currier (@caladoniacaraway) on

Go Eventing.

Weekend Instagram Roundup: Smiles for Miles


I’ve got to kick off this week’s edition with a hopefully blush-inducing shout-out to my rider/writer buddy Lisa Slade, whose OTTB mare “Skittles” got her first taste of the cross country rainbow at River Glen H.T. Skittles’ path from the track to the startbox has been a pretty epic journey, literally (by all accounts she put on quite a show between cross country warm-up and the box) and figuratively, but Lisa knew she had something special on her hands and stuck with it. That big, shiny ribbon is well-earned — congrats, ladies!

Here are a few more of your award-winning smiles that lit up the Eventing Nation over the weekend, from River Glen in Tennessee [Results] …



Transy teams placed 1st and 6th competing against 11 teams including D1 teams!!

A post shared by Transylvania U. Eventing Team (@tuequestrian) on

… Poplar Place in Georgia [Results] …


Savvy and I rocked our first horse show! #superpony #i❤️mypony #Savvy #poplarplacefarm

A post shared by Nora Jane Gray (@norajaneeventing) on

… and Texas Rose Horse Park [Results].



The only one to finish on her Dressage score was my baby girl #eventing #prelim

A post shared by Bill (@olddollarbill) on


Congrats to all. Go Eventing!

#DogsOfEN: Gettin’ Doggy With It

Where there are horse people, there are dogs — and we love showing them off! Here’s your latest batch of canine Instagram pics. Be sure to tag your ‘Grams with #DogsOfEN for inclusion in a future edition!

Della loves coming to horse shows! @majykequipe #WindermereRunHT @goeventing #dogsofEN

A post shared by Out and About (@outandabout_echo) on

Ready for winter ❄️ like it's his job #jackrussellterrier #jackrussell #farmdog #dogsofen #thuglife

A post shared by Paige (@pmontyeventing) on

Rise n shine! These two in the morning, so hard a life. #lifeofadog #rufflife #barndogs #dogsofEN #wyattdawg #nykie

A post shared by Siobhain O'Connor (@strydereventing) on


Happy doggo with his Jamie #dogsofEN

A post shared by megmurfey (@megmurfey) on

"What?" #ifitfitsisits #sampsoneatspuppiesforbreakfast #blueheeler #australiancattledog #dogsofen

A post shared by Ashley Loeffelholz (@amloeffelholz) on


Gazpacho clears the bank! #dogsofen #scatteredacreseventing #scatteredacres #bravedog

A post shared by Rachel Pie (@joeytheeventer) on


The best timer around #evenifhedoesnthavethumbs #horseshowsidekick #dogsofen

A post shared by Rachael Ann (@ralene2) on


Piper's first barn trip was exhausting! #dogsofen #gsp

A post shared by Ashley Betz (@ashbetz) on

Go Eventing.

#EventerFailFriday: The Struggle Is Real

Welcome to#EventerFailFriday, a support group for sharing your most strugglebus 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.

Here’s a showcase of your latest submissions!

"MOM!!! What are you doing?! You're making us look bad!!!!" #eventerfailfriday #eventerproblems #thiswasnottheplan

A post shared by Megan Milligan (@meganm614) on




A post shared by Helen Brew (@helen_brew) on


Go Eventing!

North Americans Source New Mounts at Ireland’s Monart Event Horse Sale

The Monart Select Elite Event Horse Sale, held in Co. Wexford, Ireland, Nov. 7-8, is among the equestrian world’s most well curated auctions. Every horse in the catalogue has been selected by a panel of four-star event riders — Polly Jackson (GB), Niall Griffin (IRL) and Bill Levett (AUS) — and vetted by former Team Ireland vet Marcus Swail. Previous sale graduates have gone on to big things, one U.S. import example being Charlie Tango, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse purchased at the 2011 sale, who has had several top finishes at the three-star level with Heather Morris.

Being a clearinghouse for top-notch prospects, the auction is well attended by a who’s-who of European eventers. Among the 2017 shoppers: Oliver Townend,Gemma Tattersall, Emily King and Sam Ecroyd of Britain; Kai Ruder and Jorg Kurbel of Germany; Astier Nicolas of France; Giovanni Ugolotti of Italy; and Austin O’Connor, Michael and Trish Ryan of Ireland, among others.

We were excited to see several North Americans in the mix as well!

Katlyn Hewson-Slezak of Canada is coming home with the highest bid-upon horse, FLS Piltown Bay [video], who sold for €29,000.

“This is our third trip to the Monart Sale and we love coming!,” Katlyn says. “We have just sold last year’s purchase to an exciting up and coming young Canadian rider and are looking forward to watching them progress. As for my purchase this year, I am keeping hold of him and will produce him with the top levels in mind.”

Karl Slezak purchased Hot Bobo [video] 

… and FLS Major Bounce [video]:

“We love the Monart Sale and we were able to get a really good feel for the horses again this year,” Katlyn says. “The opportunity to try as many horses as we did was really valuable and I am very excited about my new boy’s future, he’s a really sweet horse and the vendors were happy to talk us through anything we wanted to know.”

Avery Klunick will be bringing this flash youngster home to California [video]:

Ryan Wood picked up two good-looking 3-year-old prospects to bring along, which he does so well [Master Brooklyn video, Ballymurphy Bob video]:

Britain-based Canadian Kathryn Robinson purchased this event horse/tail supermodel prospect [video]:

Jane Jennings, who sources and sells sport horses out of High Valley Farm in Unionville, PA, is clearly a sucker for greys [Unnamed video, MBF Syndicate video]:

Jackie Molina succumbed to a crush on this handsome Romeo [video]:

And Ann Taylor snagged this dreamy dappled 3-year-old [video]:

Looking forward to following all of their careers stateside! Click here for complete sale results.

Another major auction, the Goresbridge Go For Gold Select Event Horse Sale, is set to take place Nov. 13-15, also in Co Wexford, Ireland. Check out EN’s preview of the 2017 sale here.





Michael Jung Says Badminton 2018 Next for La Biosthetique Sam FBW

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Whispers about the future of Michael Jung’s super horse La Biosthetique Sam FBW have been swirling following a remark he made at a press conference in the lead up to Stuttgart German Masters. Michael clarified to Horse & Hound that his 17-year-old partner will continue competing, with an eye on Badminton 2018 and without the demands of team competition.

The double Olympic champion was meant to conclude his season at Pau CCI4* following a surprise late entry last month, but Michael elected to withdraw Sam before dressage when he wasn’t quite right before their test.

Michael also retired Sam on course at Burghley after the horse incurred the first jumping penalties of his illustrious international career. Forgoing championships means Sam can still compete at the highest level “so he doesn’t have the pressure” of needing to complete for the team, Michael explained. Click here to read his full comments on Horse & Hound.

Sam was meant to take a step back from competing at championships last season, but a late injury to fischerTakinou saw Michael once again look to his longtime partner for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. At 16 years old, Sam received the call up to defend his Olympic title and delivered, finishing on his dressage score to win individual gold for the second time in his career.

In addition to his two individual Olympic gold medals, Sam also won individual gold at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. He also has Olympic team gold and silver medals, won individual and team gold at the 2009 European Championships, and finished as the 7-year-old Reserve World Champion at Le Lion d’Angers in 2007.

We look forward to continue cheering for Sam at the biggest competitions in the world.

[Michael Jung on his superstar’s future: ‘If Sam feels well, he’ll do Badminton 2018’]