Classic Eventing Nation

Wednesday News & Notes from SmartPak

With all the fanfare over Blenheim and Plantation Field, it was easy to forget that last weekend was one of the busiest event weekends of the year. Poplar Place Farm also ran an FEI event last weekend, running levels from Beginner Novice up through Advanced, along with a CIC1* and CIC2*. Sydney Conley-Elliott won the CIC2* on the 7 year old QC Diamantaire, owned by Carol Stephens, and is clearly delighted with her talented young ride.

National Holiday: National Pepperoni Pizza Day (Yum!)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Flora Lea Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Results]

Surefire Farm Fall H.T. [Website]

Sundance Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Twin Rivers Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Equestrians Institute H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

Ever wonder what the Worth the Trust recipients are up to? The USEA provides a retrospect of past winners, all the way back to 2009, and gives a little update as to what they are up to now. The scholarship has allowed many of these adult amateurs to continue their education in a way they would be unable to. [Where Are They Now]

Anna Bella may not be the easiest horse to be around, but her warrior mentality takes her to the top of the sport. If one word could be used to describe Anna, it would be ‘intense’, apparently. With a work hard, live hard mindset, Anna likes to scare the geldings she works around, test Kurt Martin on the lunge line, and insist on warm baths only. [Behind the Stall Door]

If you haven’t read Wylie’s final Mongol Derby update, get thee to her post. After days of trials and tribulations, Wylie found herself relying on the camaraderie of her fellow riders to complete the Mongol Derby. With the days blurring together, she realized that it was the people who helped her finish her quest, not the things. Especially not the things she lost on the third day. [Wylie vs the Mongol Derby Part 4]

Help a couple hard-working, forward-thinking vet students out! Mary Davis and Lauren Ungar, two vet student at Tufts, are semi-finalists in the VetPrep idea competition with their idea to create a nutrition app for horses. They are seeking feedback from horse people to strengthen their idea and better their product. You can help them out by completing a quick, fewer-than-10-question survey. [VetPrep Idea Competition – Equine Nutrition App]

SmartPak Product of the Day: I do everything I can to keep my bridle number off my bridle at shows, usually because the first thing I do is get my bridle number dirty. Occasionally I will stick it on a breastplate, but the sharpest look is to have your number on your saddle pad, framed in leather. [SmartPak]

Tuesday Video from SpectraVet: Copper Meadows Advanced, CIC2* and CIC1* Winners

Copper Meadows held its September event two weekends ago and Ride On Video has been busy posting footage. Here are the cross country rides from the winners of the Advanced, CIC2* and CIC1* divisions!

View complete results here.

Advanced: Heather Morris and Charlie Tango (27.2)

CIC2*: Gina Economou and Exclusive (60.7)

CIC1*: Matthias Schwarz and Kortesyde (55.3)

Congrats to all finishers. Go Eventing!

Why SpectraVET?

Reliable. Effective. Affordable.

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.

Sport Horse Nation Spotlight: Add a Little Color to Your Collection

In the market for a new four-legged partner? You may find your unicorn on our sister site, Sport Horse Nation. To help with the search, we’re going to feature a selection of current listings here on EN each week. We include the ad copy provided; click the links for videos, pricing and contact information.

For a few years I was riding an Appaloosa pony mare, and everywhere we went she turned heads. “She’s so cute!” was the usual cry as strangers leaned in to give her a scratch. She loved the attention, of course, and she tried extra hard to be adorable in public.

If you’re looking to add a little color to your equine collection but still want the athleticism required for sport, here’s four horses for sale with their own unique patterns to match their personalities!

Wapz Masterpiece. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Get SPOTTED – Future Event Prospect Extrodinaire

Event Prospect Extraordinaire! Be BOLD with color and talent on this coming 2 y/o SPORTALOOSA GELDING! Wapz Masterpiece aka Armani is from eventers on both sides. On the sires side, Wapuzzan…Wap-Appaloosa lines are well known for their o/f talent, good minds, longevity and soundness.

He has many siblings that are eventing, winning at Prelim and one was aimed for Advanced before being purchased. Currently his 6 y/o brother is tied 2nd in the NATION at BN! His TB dam, Charming Devil by Ayes Turn lines (evented to Prelim herself) and is the sister to Katilin Spurlock’s Rolex mount Expedience! The dam’s TB b’lines are known for producing good eventers. The TB side gives him finesse and forward endurance! This young gelding is a great combination of bloodlines, conformation, mind and color! He is UP Potential or is sure to be fun and successful at any lower level as well.

Armani has had 120 days of professional in-hand training to keep him well handled and experienced growing up. He has already shown twice in-hand, qualifying for the Championship round each time even against WB’s! He already hauls great and settles in well at shows. He has a goofy-quirky fun personality and grabs attention everywhere he goes for his stunning looks. He is very smart and learns quickly. Armani is currently standing 15.1 as a yearling. He is expected to mature 16.2 hh.

We are seeking a driven, committed rider who wants a lifetime future partner to have amazing experiences with. Someone who will cherish making a bond with Armani and who will have the focus to really drive their partnership as far as they dare to dream. *However first and foremost we want Armani and his person to be happy – it’s not all about showing and winning, that is just his ability if you want to take him there* But we do feel he is bred for and will be happiest in a performance home/match.

Armani is ApHC registered and eligible for AWS and Sportaloosa International, SHOC etc. He also has lifetime membership to USEF/USDF. Located in North Carolina.

Canso de la Mancha. Photo by Brant Gamma via Sport Horse Nation.

Looking for its new partner: Confirmed Intermediate horse with CIC/CCI2* experience.

Canso de la Mancha: 10 y.o. gelding (Spring 2007), Tall 16’1, TB (light) body type.

Made the top three at every event attended at the Preliminary level, except at his second start where he finished 4th. Won his second Intermediate event leading straight from dressage, in the Open division.

Rides the three phases in a snaffle. The type of horse who is calm for dressage, then lights up for the XC and Stadium while staying very connected to his rider. Very honest and careful, locks to the fence. A real pleasure to work with.

Would be best suited for an Amateur or a Junior wanting to move up the levels up to Intermediate, with a safe, fun and competitive partner. This horse will never let you down if you take the time to create a bond with him. He could also make a fun jumper or dressage partner. He just came back from a jumping show where he won the Mini Prix. All eyes were on him, as usual! He also finished season champion in Dressage level 2 last year.

Cleanest medical record – never injured, not injected, no medication of any sort. Always fresh and happy to work the day after cross-country. The horse is entered for three events this fall: an Intermediate and a CIC2* in September, and a CCI2* in October.

Serious inquiries only. This horse is sold because his owner thinks he maxed at 2* and will not be comfortable at 3*. She prefers finding him a good home where he will stay within his comfort zone and make his next rider confident and competitive in any show ring. Located in Canada.

Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding. Photo by Shannon Brinkman via Sport Horse Nation.

Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding by Wapuzzan

Black Appaloosa Sport Horse. 3.5 years old. This guy will be ready to show in the spring. Great mind, kind and forgiving. Super easy to work with in all ways. Has been exposed to a lot without being over used as a youngster. Has in hand show experience in FEH. Ground driving as a yearling, and started lightly under saddle at 2. This summer has done a couple of schooling shows. Has even foxhunted once, and was a super star. No problems with ditches, banks, water. Nice mover. Super athletic and scopey – potential for upper level. Get to know him now and hit the ground running in the spring. Great opportunity to get a young horse with a sane mind and sound body! More videos and photos available. Located in Iowa.

Sky. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Pinto Friesian -Flashy Sport Horse

“Sky ” -turned out with more of the warm blood look than strict Friesian. He turns black bay pinto for 6 mos of the year during the cooler months. Most agreeable horse I’ve ever owned and every ride is a pleasure. Doing training level dressage well and does more advanced movements of leg yield,shoulder in, etc. He is the cool WB push ride vs tense,tight backed hot horses.

Superb trail horse has been ridden alone/grp on numerous ,scenic horse park trails throughout Colorado. May be one of those rare horses that could fox hunt calmly. V sound.. can go barefoot the whole year. Easy keeper, likes attention on the crossties. Tolerates llama right next to him in the pasture and multiple goats running under his legs and jumping off tack trunks right next to him.

For sale because he’s only ridden 3-4 x month and he should have been already been shown extensively. Can get an 8 on his sweeping,elastic walk and also stretch circles that each get coefficient scores x 2 at shows. The steady horse in dressage classes for AA and Jrs usually wins. Should also have been doing scenic trail riding all over Colorado.

This conformation pic is preliminary..doesn’t totally show the very correct conformation he has. I choose this picture of him in the winter when he came right out of the muddy pasture because it showed how trim he can get. He is not as trim now re: mos of lush pasture. Uphill neck build .. rides big ..shown on video with 5 foot nine man and he is 15 hds. Limited jump experience but brave and should learn quickly. Located in Colorado.

Listings included in this article are randomly selected and confirmed to be current and active before inclusion. Sport Horse Nation features user-generated content and therefore cannot verify or make any warranty as to the validity or reliability of information.

Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby, Powered by SmartPak: The Race, Part 4 – Only the Wild Ones

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie conquered her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 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.

Held Aug. 9-19, 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. Now that Leslie is home she is recapping her ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

The 2017 Mongol Derby Die-Another-Day Club: Lucy, Amanda, Taylor, me, Cy, Paul and (not pictured) James. Please take a moment to appreciate my horse’s amazing mullet, an apt metaphor for my Derby journey from “business in the front” to “party in the back.”

“Only the wild ones give you something and never want it back.”
Dispatch, by way of my Derby forever friend Amanda Charlton Herbert

Day 5

Day 5 was when things started getting a little … blurry. Not because I was concussed (knock on wood) or tipsy on fermented mare’s milk (it’s not as gross as you think!) but because of the repetition: Ride. Rinse. Repeat. Except for the rinsing part, of course. We just kept getting filthier and filthier.

By mid-race I smelled like a cross between a rancid watermelon and a homeless man. The eau de rotten fruit was from electrolyte powder I used to cut the goat taste of the water, but since my hydration pack started leaking I was getting more of it down my shirt than down my throat. The subway-bum-who-peed-himself scent was from, well, actually peeing myself. It was a sad moment in my life — I went to pop a squat and my legs were so stiff they literally wouldn’t bend — but, as any Derby rider who has been dealt the nightmare hand of diarrhea can surely attest, it could have been much worse.

“Coulda been worse!” I don’t know how many times those words came out of my mouth during the race. So what if I spent the first night of the Derby swatting mice away from my face, or if I felt like a human popsicle on day 2, or if a horse galloped into the sunset with all my stuff on day 3, or if I got bucked off and had to walk 13 miles on foot on day 4. Cue the tiny violins. Whatever drama I was going through out there, ultimately it was all relative. At least I wasn’t in a hospital bed back in Ulaanbaatar. I was lucky. I was still in the race.

The North American contingent was having a tough go of it, with about half our riders knocked out by the midpoint. Julia from South Carolina broke a rib on day 1. Rick from Wyoming succumbed to hypothermia on day 2. Marianne from North Carolina shattered her collarbone on day 4. Liv, my teflon-coated Canadian training buddy, valiantly rode on with a badly sprained ankle only to injure her back in another crushing fall on day 5. Pierre from Maryland was hard-headed enough to take a hoof to the head on day 1 but met his match in a concussion on day 6.

Pierre getting stitched up on day 1. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

The growing pileup of accidents had me rattled. Who knew when any of our numbers were up? Things could go south no matter how carefully you played your cards, and it always seemed to happen when you least expected it.

For example: It was the third leg of the day, and I was tagging along with South Carolina endurance riders Clare and Rachel. We were ascending another epic, green velvet covered ridge that seemed to go up and up forever. It felt like we were on a roller coaster, chugging toward the summit and wondering what lie on the other side.

Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Finally we crested the top. But before we could gasp at the breathtaking panoramic vista, something else took our breath away: a massive golden eagle rising up out of the grass directly in front of us.

It was majestic and terrifying and the most ridiculously Mongolian thing I’d seen in my life.

You guys, this wasn’t just a bird. It had a wingspan the length of a horse, talons that could snatch up a toddler, and a look on its face like Vladimir Putin losing a golf match to Donald Trump. (Derby fun fact: At one point during the race we were only about 100 kilometers from the Russian border.)

To our horses, of course, it was mostly just plain terrifying. All three made their own personal “fight or flight” choices, the flightiest being Clare’s horse who promptly dumped her and took off galloping.

Clare’s horse was the goat in this scene from “Game of Thrones,” basically.

Fortunately, it was a best case scenario sort of fall. Clare was fine, the horse soon realized it had no real game plan and stopped to graze, and we all continued on, enjoying a good belly laugh about the incident later. I mean, could it get any more Mongol Derby than that?

Days 6-8

After my solo sojourns during the first few days, I recommitted to honoring the promise I made my husband before the race but had already broken by the second leg: that I wouldn’t ride alone.

To be fair, cruising through the race by oneself has its perks, in that you maintain sole jurisdiction about decisions like direction/speed and you’re not beholden to waiting up for anyone should they draw a slow horse or find themselves in a jam. The caveat: When things go wrong for you, and they will, there’ll be no one around to scrape you up off the dirt. And also, when singing “99 Bottles of Airag on the Wall” on repeat to stave off boredom quits working, you might lose your mind.

Tiny human, big world. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Both in weird horse race situations and life in general, the company you keep can make all the difference. As a rule I’m not a person who needs people around me all the time. I can be the life of the party but I also value solitude; I have wonderful close relationships but I also pride myself on independence — to the point where it’s sometimes hard to admit that I can’t do something alone.

By halfway through the Derby, though, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. The back row of the strugglebus is a lonely place to be.

Especially when it’s doing this.

The physical part was easy to understand. Go ride a horse at speed for 13 hours straight and tell me how you feel. The answer, I don’t care how fit or skilled you are, is: You feel like crap. And then you’ve to get up the next day and do it again. And again. And again and again and again and again and again and again. At night the gers resembled opium dens as riders swapped painkillers, winced at one another’s battle wounds, and shared stranger-than-fiction war stories from the day.

The psychological wear and tear was the piece I hadn’t anticipated.

The Mongol Derby has a funny way of dredging up whatever your weaknesses are and throwing you in the ring with them, boxer style, to duke it out. It’s literally you-vs.-you out there. And like some tour de kryptonite, I went head-to-head with every last one of my demons on the steppe.

Don’t get me wrong: When it comes to navigating life, I have a pretty decent skill-set. I’m good with people. Animals like me. I make a mean jell-o shot. I have a large vocabulary. I have a history of accomplishing whatever I set my mind to, not because I’m a particularly gifted human being but because I’m just really freaking stubborn.

Things that I am NOT good at:

  • Feeling vulnerable.
  • Admitting that I’m not OK.
  • Asking for help.
  • Failing.

In almost every one of the Derby photos, I am smiling. Here’s a secret, though: They weren’t all equal. Sometimes I was smiling because the world was, literally and metaphorically, blowing my hair back. The generosity of the herding families, the spirit of the horses, the otherworldliness of the landscapes … my life had never felt so vast, so technicolor, so intense.

Other times, I was smiling because I felt like my world was spinning off its axis. Even if it was just my facial expression, at least I could be in control of something.

I started having panic attacks each morning upon waking. Not recognizing where I was, or why I was there, or who was the person sleeping beside me. Chest tight, body deflated, all the air sucked out. I couldn’t breath or move. And then, like a picture slowly coming back into focus, remembering what lie ahead of me. Another day of feeling more vulnerable than I’d ever felt in my life. At the end of it would I find myself in a ger? A medevac? I focused on moving the air in and out of my lungs while the riders around me rustled in their sleeping bags, forging their own reentries into the strange dream that had become our waking life.

Horse herders head out at daybreak to round up our horses. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

A gang of seven of us were running at about the same speed and had been ending up at the same horse stations at the end of each day. There was Cy, Paul and James from Britain, Lucy from Australia/Britain, and fellow Americans Taylor and Amanda. I was inspired by all of them, not only because of their physical toughness — Cy had been riding with a broken rib since day 3, and Lucy’s arm looked like a swollen black-and-blue balloon animal from a fall on day 5 — but because of their attitudes.

Someone was always laughing about something and that little spark of joy kept cycling from one person to the next, as though we were passing it around in a flask. We shared our stories and talked about what we missed most about home. We kept one another motivated — “I think I see a glass of wine on that mountaintop!” — and entertained ourselves with cowboys-and-Indians sneak attacks. We chased rainbows across landscapes so beautiful it made you want to cry. We paused at ancient shamanic sites, took scenic detours and made sure to never lose our sense of wonder. It felt like we were pulling one another along toward the finish, sometimes literally, like when Paul drew a slowpoke and James had to pony it off his own horse for half a leg.

Seriously, there were so many rainbows. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Some neat drone footage from chief bloodwagon bartender Erik Cooper:

In particular I hit it off with Taylor and Amanda. I liked the determined yet steady and safe way they were riding the race, in contrast to my own erratic track record of fits and starts, hits and misses, feats of bravado interspersed with anxiety attacks. Left to my own devices, I knew I’d end up toast. It wasn’t until I teamed up with Taylor and Amanda that I could imagine myself, with clarity, playing the long game and making it to the finish.

You can do anything for nine days, I constantly reminded myself, except hold your breath underwater.

I also appreciated the way they handled crisis situations, which just kept coming. Someone’s horse was always falling down, or we were dodging cloud-to-ground lightning, or finding ourselves belly-deep in a bog.

Like when Taylor’s horse fell in a marmot hole and, by some fluke of hill slope and saddle bag, got stuck upside down like a turtle on its back. It was a rigor mortis-esque pose: four legs in the air, neck twisted around at an unnatural angle, and mouth gaping wide open as the reins were caught beneath him. Unable to move, his eyes were wide and glazing over in shock. Taylor scrambled out from beneath him and went to work trying to get the horse free, which she somehow managed.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Panic is a perfectly natural physiological responses to stress, but it’s not necessarily productive when it comes to getting you out of a bad spot. Moments like these now felt like out-of-body experiences. You could feel your mind stepping outside your body, calmly evaluating the situation, collecting information and formulating a plan of action. And then stepping back into your skin and executing the plan.

It’s amazing what humans can adapt to. How quickly our definitions of normal can shift. The Mongol Derby doesn’t follow a template, and neither does life. You just figure it out. You find a way to survive.

Day 9

The homestretch.

At 6:05 p.m. local time, after one last day of physical and mental assault, I crossed the finish line alongside four of the toughest, most inspiring horsemen and women I’ve ever met.

Couldn’t have done it without these guys. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

A funny thing about the Derby is the fact that, whatever your competitive intentions may be when you start the race, almost nobody finishes alone. This year we saw another joint winner in Ed Fernon, the Olympic pentathlete from Australia, and Barry Armitage, for whom 2017 was his third crack at the Derby and first win. I rode up top with both these cool but fiercely in-it-to-win-it guys at the beginning of my race (the “business up front” portion, if you will), and I never would have pegged them for the types who would team up and, on a gentleman’s handshake, share the victory.

The Derby changes everyone.

Ed Fernon and Barry Armitage, joint winners, approaching the finish line. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Crossing the finish line I felt … excited that I could finally take a shower. And never have to ride a horse 13 hours a day for nine days straight ever again. And really proud of my penalty-free vet card. But I didn’t feel finished. Because the finish line wasn’t the important part of the race for me, any more than walking across a stage was the defining moment of my college education. It was just the exclamation point at the end of a profound and completely insane run-on sentence, and the beginning of a new chapter.

Since I’ve been home people have been treating me like I’m some sort of warrior princess just returned from battle. I hear the adjectives they use to describe me — “brave,” “inspiring,” “fearless” — but it feels like they’re talking about a different person. Not me. Because deep down, I promise you, I struggle to keep it together just as much as anyone else. And the Mongol Derby brought it all to the surface.

Photo by Julian Hebert/Mongol Derby.

I may not have won the battle against my weaknesses, but I certainly saw them up close. They put up a good fight, but they didn’t stop me. Not because I’m some brave, inspiring, fearless warrior princess, but because I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I think sometimes that’s the bravest thing that any of us can do.

Whatever it was I originally thought I needed to survive the Derby, I was wrong. It was just stuff. Even my sock saddlebag was a placebo by the end of the race. All I really needed was myself and some good people around me. 

BTW, they never did find my runaway horse. This is how I like to imagine him now, galloping free on a beach to a Jimmy Buffet soundtrack.

In the western world, we try to avoid discomfort and suffering at all costs. We have that luxury. But maybe we’re doing ourselves a disservice. What are you protecting yourself from? What potentially transformative experiences are you avoiding because you’re worried they might not be comfortable or have a happy ending?

Well, in life you’re not always going to be comfortable. There are no guaranteed happy endings. And the more you practice embracing the suck, the better you’re going to be able to deal when the genuine hard stuff comes your way and there is no SOS button. When things go belly up, what do you have to work with? What’s down there at the bottom of yourself? What can you endure? Who’s with you, and will you let them help?

Go find your Mongol Derby. Find a challenge that has magical potential but is likely to test you to your core. Do something that makes you feel vulnerable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Give yourself both the opportunity to succeed and permission to fail.

I went to Mongolia in search of a good story, and I got what I came for. What’s the story you want to tell? How far, physically or emotionally, are you willing to go to get it? What’s the worst that could happen? What if?

Many thanks to all my sponsors and supporters throughout this journey. Your belief in me helped me believe in myself.





Your Gotta-Be-There Guide to the Central Park Horse Show $50K Arena Eventing Competition

Photo courtesy of Rolex Central Park Horse Show.

Eventing is coming to the heart of New York City this Saturday evening, Sept. 23, when the Rolex Central Park Horse Show hosts the U.S. Open $50,000 Arena Eventing Team Competition. We can’t wait to see our sport showcased in such a unique and accessible setting, against the backdrop of a glittering New York City skyline.

A star-studded lineup of 24 riders representing four countries, split into 12 teams, will contest a NYC-themed Capt. Mark Phillips course that incorporates both show jumping and cross country elements.

Each team, named after a famous New York City neighborhood, will race against the clock with faults converted into time with their score being based on the cumulative time of both riders’ rounds. The top six teams will return for the second and final round of competition, which will crown the first-ever U.S. Open $50,000 Arena Eventing champions.

Here’s the updated entry list:

Team Wall Street
Ryan Wood (AUS) / Kate Chadderton (AUS)

Team Upper West Side
Clayton Fredericks (AUS) / Domm Schramm (AUS)

Team West Village
Jessica Phoenix (CAN) / Lisa Marie Fergusson (CAN)

Team Upper East Side
Waylon Roberts (CAN) / Selena O’Hanlon (CAN)

Team Times Square
Oliver Townend (GBR) / William Fox-Pitt (GBR)

Team Midtown
Phillip Dutton (USA) / Julie Richards (USA)

Team Soho
Hannah Sue Burnett (USA) / Holly Payne-Caravella (USA)

Team Chelsea
Boyd Martin (USA) / Caroline Martin (USA)

Team Tribeca
Marilyn Little (USA) / Matt Brown (USA)

Team Hell’s Kitchen
Jennie Brannigan (USA) / Lynn Symansky (USA)

Team Greenwich Village
Will Coleman (USA) / Erin Sylvester (USA)

Team East Village
Buck Davidson (USA) / Doug Payne (USA)

It’s sure to be a special moment in time, and the more we come out to support it the better the chances that it will become an annual fixture as opposed to a one-off event. We applaud The Fite Group, a market-leading luxury real estate firm serving the South Florida region, for signing on as the class’s title sponsor, a leap of faith in its inaugural year.

Eventers, it’s time to rally! Who’s up for a weekend in city? We know you’re busy people, so allow us to assist with logistics:

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $50/person and can be purchased at the Central Park Horse Show website or at this link.

VIP Seating is still available and can be purchased by contacting [email protected] Tables seat six and have an impressive view of Wollman Rink. VIP Seating will include premier open bar and dinner. Individual VIP Seats are also available.

Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 8 p.m. Dress is cocktail/evening casual.

You spend 99% of your life in muddy boots and slobber-stained shirts with random strands of hay in your hair. How much fun would it be to dress up and pretend you’re a fancy city person for one night? Photo courtesy of Rolex Central Park Horse Show.

Getting there: It can be done on the cheap, guys! Look into budget airlines: I got a $108 round-trip plane ticket from Knoxville to Newark through Allegiant Air.

Once you’re in the city, here’s how to get to Wollman Rink:

Best Park Entrance:

Central Park South (59th Street) and 6th Avenue. Wollman Rink is a two minute walk into Central Park from this entrance. Follow the footpath directly into the park and stay to the right.

By Subway:

Take the A, B, C, D, 1 to 59th St.- Columbus Circle
Take the N, Q, R to 5th Ave/59th St.
Take the F to 57th Street

By Bus:

Take the M1, M2, M3, M4 to 64th Street
Take the M5, M7, M10, M104 to Columbus Circle

Where to stay: The official horse show hotel, JW Marriott Essex House (160 Central Park South), is a conveniently located about 0.3 mile from the venue but will set you back about $1,000 a night. Let’s leave those rooms to the hunter/jumper folks and look into some more affordable options, shall we?

If you can spring for $200-400 night — another reason to drag your barn buddies along and split the cost! —  the world is your oyster. A friend of mine who has attended the Central Park show before recommends the Salisbury Hotel (123 W. 57th Street), which she describes as “kinda old and crappy but super easy walking distance and not as expensive as some other places.” For the price (about $220/night), the Ameritania (230 W 54th Street) looks boutique chic and is about half a mile away.

Even if you have zero travel budget to work with, like me, you can make this thing happen. Crashing on a park bench hobo-style in Central Park seems really convenient to the horse show and would make EN’s accountant happy, except I’d worry my laptop and camera would get stolen. So I booked a shoebox size “pod” in the Chelsea Cabins (370 8th Avenue) for $82/night, also about half a mile away. That’s which is about as cheap as it gets in Manhattan.

You can always venture a bit further afield tho, and check out alternative lodging like Airbnb and hostels. I’ve also been known to crash on dodgy friends’ friends couches in the meatpacking district, etc. Do what you gotta do, just be there!

That time I camped out on jump #19 at Rebecca Farm. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Complete schedule of events: Make a week of it!

Go Eventing.

[Rolex Central Park Horse Show Welcomes The Fite Group Luxury Homes as Title Sponsor of U.S. Open $50,000 Arena Eventing Competition]


Tuesday News & Notes from Cavalor

Still reeling over Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border’s win at Blenheim! Of course, credit must also be given to super groom Andi Lawrence who has also put so much work and heart into it. This horse has risen up the ranks under Kim’s watchful eye. He stepped on the scene by winning the USEA Young Event Horse Championship in 2012. I wonder if Kim knew then the horse she’d have five years later at Blenheim. I would say what a happy ending, but at just 10, we still have so much still to see from Cooley Cross Border!

National Holiday: Talk Like A Pirate Day

Events Opening This Week: Full Gallop Farm November H.T. (SC, A-3) Rocking Horse Fall H.T. (FL, A-3) Galway Downs International Event & H.T. (CA, A-6)

Events Closing This Week:  Heritage Park H.T. (KS, A-4) Willow Draw Charity Show (TX, A-5) Radnor Hunt H.T. (PA, A-2) Woodside International Horse Trials (CA, A-6) Course Brook Farm Fall Horse Trials (MA, A-1) Hagyard Midsouth Three-day Event & Team Challenge H.T. (KY, A-8) Kent School Fall H.T. (CT, A-1) The Event at Skyline (UT, A-9) Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials (TN, A-3) The Maryland H.T. at Loch Moy Farm (MD, A-2) WindRidge Farm Fall Horse Trials (NC, A-2)

Tuesday News:

It was a whirlwind weekend for the U.S. at Blenheim. That is especially true for the dedicated grooms of these top horses. They often put blood, sweat and tears into their careers, and they consider every defeat and success their own. Courtney Carson shares her experiences from behind the scenes. [USA! USA! USA!]

FEI President Ingmar De Vos has been elected to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC has been putting the pressure on ahead of the last few Olympic cycles for horse sports to mold for better understandability. His election will hopefully give a louder voice for Olympic equestrian sports in the future. [Horse Sport Gets A Crucial Voice on the IOC with Election of Ingmar De Vos]

Have you ever wanted to crack one open and share a beer with your horse? Turns out, it may have some benefits. Many people use beer to help conditions like anhidrosis, but vets are finding that it can also help encourage a horse to eat and drink. Looks like happy hour every once and a while isn’t such a bad thing. [A Beer for Our Horses]

Tryon has released spectator lodging options for the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Are YOU going? [Tryon 2018 – Lodging]

Tuesday Video: Watch Buck Davidson finally pull off that elusive win at his hometown venue.

Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Meanwhile at Stone Gate Horse Trials …

Bouncy horse races are the best inflatable thing to happen to the sport of eventing since the invention of air vests. We spotted them at the Tryon International Equestrian Center during Saturday Night Lights at the AECs:

Recognize any of these bouncy horse jockeys? #aec17

A post shared by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

I know. Will Faudree’s somersaults blew our minds, too.

And then reader Jackie Smith sent us this great video: “While everyone’s eye was on Blenheim and Plantation this weekend people missed the fun filled Saturday Night at the Races at the Stone Gate Farm Horse Trials. Here’s a link of one of the races handily won by Cassidy Wozniak.”

Love it. Go Eventing!

Weekly OTTB Wishlist from Cosequin: ‘ISO the Next Donner’ Edition

Lynn Symansky and Donner at Burghley 2017. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

How great was it to see Lynn Symansky and American-bred OTTB posterhorse Donner right up there at the top of the Burghley leaderboard earlier this month? The pair placed 6th, yet another feather in the cap of this epic partnership.

Foaled on April 18, 2003 in New York, Donner raced under the name Smart Gorky (Gorky Park (FR) – Smart Jane, by Smarten) before finding his calling in the sport of eventing. Back in 2014, we published the story of his racing career — check it out here.

OTTBs are alive and well in the sport, and the next generation of superstars are out there, maybe coming off the track as we speak. In tribute to Donner, here are three New York bred bay geldings that caught our eye this week!

Photo via Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds.

In Harm’s Way (Hook and Ladder – New Harmony, by A.P. Indy): 2010 16.2-hand New York bred gelding

This handsome hunk is described by his connections as an “in your pocket” type. He has had a strong race career, earning over $196,000 in 27 starts, but his owner/trainer is ready to let him retire while he is still sound, capable and content.

In his time with his current connections, he has become the barn mascot — his charming demeanor, solid bone, excellent conformation and athleticism make him a shining example of the care he has received. Harm does wear bar shoes to support an injury from 2014, but as his race record proves, he has returned to prime condition without incident. X-rays are available to serious inquiries.

His sire Hook and Ladder is known for his propensity to throw babies with good brains and athleticism and jumping ability. We know several that have gone on to successful sporting careers. This talented, classy gelding will not last long. Bring him home and make him your next sport horse!

View In Harm’s Way on Finger Lakes Finest OTTBs.

Photo via Finger Lakes Finest.

Exley (Officer – True Argument, by Yes It’s True): 2008 16-hand New York bred gelding

This classy, handsomely built gelding has clearly been impressive from a young age. He sold as a yearling for $100,000 at Keeneland, and he proved a worthy investment, earning over $224,000 on the racetrack! Here is your chance to own a six-figure horse!

He is clearly well loved by his caretakers — a gleaming coat with good flesh and bone. This horse is athletic, handsome and reported as sound with no vices. He has wintered at the farm with his owner: He turns out well with others and is well behaved in turn-out. With his excellent demeanor and athletic, uphill build, this one has unlimited potential for many disciplines. Big geldings in this price range tend to go quickly, so we would suggest calling fast if he checks all the boxes for you.

View Exley on Finger Lakes Finest OTTBs. 

Photo via Finger Lakes Finest.

Thirty Percent (One Nice Cat – Smokin Sue, by Smokin Mel): 2012 16-hand New York bred gelding

We think he is 100 percent gorgeous, and full of potential for so many new disciplines! This handsome gelding was such a chill guy for his photo session, soaking up the sun and posing perfectly without a chain over his nose. His trainer says he is a very good boy who does everything right, is sound, and while he has won a race this year, in his last couple of races he seems to have lost his zest for racing so it is time to let him find a new calling.

With his balanced correct build, clean legs and amazing strong sloping shoulder, we can see jumping in his future. He is also a very nice mover, showing off a light trot with a good toe pointing reach. Show hunter, eventer, fun on hunter paces, dressage? Take your pick — this one can go in any direction. He is by One Nice Cat out of a mare by Smokin Mel (we know there are many fans of Smokin Mel offspring out there).  Fappiano, In Reality, Graustark, Ribot, Black Tie Affair, and Regal Classic are just a few of the “sport friendly” sires in his pedigree.

View Thirty Percent on Finger Lakes Finest OTTBs.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Jordan Linstedt has always backed our team and our dreams, starting from Beginner Novice up!

“This is the stuff dreams are made of.”

I have heard this phrase so much throughout my life — in the news, books, Facebook posts and even conversation. However, I never thought about what it meant. What are dreams made of? What makes someone dream? It struck a thought, and sparked an idea.

I wonder what made Michael Jung dream of competing at Rolex? Did he dream it? Did he dream of winning it? Did a young Mark Todd ever look up in wonder at top level competitors and say, “One day I’ll be like them”? Perhaps the greats of our sport were once like the rest of us. Perhaps they all were once young riders looking up in awe at high level competitors, making a silent dream to be at some point compete there as well.

Have you ever finished a ride, and seen a younger competitor smiling your way? Did you notice the Beginner Novice rider watching the 3* in amazement? Did your eye catch the twinkle in theirs? That is the stuff dreams are made of. Dreams are made of the fist pumps after a clean round, the grinning smile after a great test and the squealing “Good boy/girl!!” while landing off an impressive jump. When one person’s dream comes true, another is born.

When I watched young riders in my area medal at NAJYRC, a dream was born to one day be like them. When Michael Jung won the Grand Slam, countless young riders watched and told their coach, “That’s what I want to do.” If this is true, could it be possible that when you jumped through the water on cross country, someone silently told themselves, “One day, that’s going to be me”? I say yes.

Really, we are all just dreamers. Dreamers with work ethic and determination. Everyone starts somewhere. At some point Phillip Dutton was going around his first horse trials. At some point Lauren Kieffer wasn’t 100% how to get her horse on the bit. Everyone starts out not knowing, but dreaming. So who’s to say you aren’t going to make it?

This, again, intrigued me. What decides whose dreams come true, and whose are put to rest? Is it all about natural talent? Is it politics? Does the horse make a big difference? I would say each of these are factors, but there’s something bigger going on. Before Phillip Dutton could start his journey to the Olympics, he needed someone to believe he could get there. Everyone needs someone to believe in their dreams. Someone that sees the light in their eyes and says, “Let’s make this dream come true.”

This is what dreams are made of. Dreams are made of dreamers and believers and hard work and never giving up and trusting undoubtedly. I have seen the light in fellow competitors younger than myself. That twinkle of, “Please me a chance, I want it, too” makes me want to cheer them on more than ever.

This being said, don’t be afraid to help and guide on the younger ones. Help mentor, guide and support so that one day they can be a part of someone else’s dreams. When I first started training with my coach five years ago, I had a dream of competing at NAJYRC. In less than two weeks I’ll head to my first Preliminary, the first leg of my long-time dream. I have had so many coaches, family members and friends believe in my dreams. Without believers, there can be no dreamers.

Investment and encouragement are the supporting legs of success. There are younger riders in my own barn that I adore cheering on. I believe in their dreams of competing, and while I am no coach, I can offer encouragement; we all can. We are all part of the stuff dreams are made of. We all inspire, notice and cultivate it. The more we notice it, the more our sport will grow, and the more young riders will say, “I want to do it like they do.” I personally believe that when a dreamer has a believer backing them, they can do anything.

Keep dreaming, keep believing, and go eventing.

Product Review: Rambo Summer Series Turnout Blanket

Don’t let the title fool you, this is the perfect turnout sheet for awkward fall weather. The Rambo Summer Series Turnout is the ultimate blanket to use for spring, summer and fall. The features on this blanket are about as customizable as you can get for weather that changes throughout the day, and you’ll never look back once you’ve got one to call your own.

Let’s start with the basic design, which is as innovative as I’ve ever seen. This blanket has a lightweight waterproof back covering, but a net body, which means that it both protects your horse from possible rain, but also remains breathable. The waterproof top is also incredibly soft, and while it doesn’t feel rugged on the fingertips, it is as durable as all the other Horseware turnouts.

The main cool thing about this blanket is the removable 100g liner that follows the lines of the soft-shell along the back and loins of your horse. You can see in the photo below that it covers all the important core areas of your horse’s back to carry him from warm days into slightly chilly nights. This liner has multiple fastening points, with velcro in the front and back, and buttons along the lower edges that keep it secured to the outer blanket. It is very easy to remove and replace, as you so desire with the changing weather.

The neck cover for the Rambo Summer Series Turnout is also easily removable, but don’t worry about your horse getting rubs on the withers or mane. This neck cover has a polyester mane protection strip, and an improved wither darts that offer enhanced neck and wither freedom to help prevent wither pressure and rubs. There is also a soft lining for the chest and shoulders that is designed to prevent unsightly rubs in that area.

The fit on this blanket is also really good, with leg arches and plenty of room for big shoulders when they are moving around the paddock. It features two elasticated belly surcingles, a nice covering tail flap, and a wipe clean tail cord. No more poop butt (you know what I’m talking about)!

The Rambo Summer Series Turnout also has my favorite type of front closure, double snaps alongside two sets of double velcro. My horse has really big shoulders, and if he doesn’t have this kind of closure up front, the blanket is pulled back and the velcro is undone, and then he’s left with straight metal buckles on his skin. Not comfortable in the least.

The neck cover features double velcro closures that ensure that it stays in place even if your horse decides to roll 20 times and then take a few laps of honor around the field.

This blanket is the perfect mix between a cool coat, a fly sheet and a lightweight turnout, making it useful for all different seasons and well worth the purchase. Especially if you have horses that have sensitive skin or are turned out during the day with varying weather and temperatures, this blanket could really change your world. It’s on sale right now, too! You can find it on the Horseware website for only $199.