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Abby Gibbon


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Nina Ligon: ‘The Plan for My Horses’

Nina Ligon and London Olympic mount Butts Leon. Photo by Samantha.

When newly-minted Olympian Nina Ligon matriculates at Stanford University this fall, her horses will also begin anew.  Thanks for updating us, Nina, and thanks, Eventing Nation, for reading.


From Nina:

Finally! Back home… and time to start packing again. Stanford starts in a week and though I can’t wait to get out to California, I’m sad to leave Eventing behind. It has been an exciting, fun, and at times stressful journey. I’m glad I took the time away from school to focus solely on my horses and to qualify for and compete at the Olympics. The two years were necessary for me to compete safely and successfully at the 3* level, but I’ve postponed academics and Stanford long enough. I can’t study at a demanding University and compete safely at the 3/4 star level at the same time…they are both full time jobs. The horses deserve my undivided attention and I simply won’t be able to give them that.

Leon, Sparky, Jazz, and Paddy have taught, and most importantly, looked after me as I learned to compete at the 3*. They have done right by me, and it was my priority after the Games to find them each the best home possible. Each of my horses is unique, and between Laura, Amy, my mom, and myself, we tried to find them a home where their talents and big personalities could be fully appreciated.

Jazz King is going to Rebekah Calder in the US, who trains with Bobby Costello. She is a mother of two, who dreams of competing at Rolex. Jazz is an incredible, safe jumping horse, who gave me the xc confidence to reach my Olympic dream and I’m more than positive that he will do the same for Rebekah.

Tipperary Liadhnan has returned to the States to be ridden by Louis Rogers up to Preliminary. Louis is a newcomer to eventing and Paddy will be a fantastic xc school master to safely show him the way.

Butts Leon has returned to his home in Germany and his former owner Andreas Dibowski. Leon will continue to compete with Andreas and later become a schoolmaster for his daughter Alina. I believe this is the perfect situation for Leon, as he is returning to the family that raised him and I can be certain he has a loving home for the rest of his life.

Fernhill Fearless is now with Nat Varcoe-Cox (Will Faudree’s groom) in Southern Pines. Nat has loved Sparky since she took care of him at Jersey Fresh in 2010 and will look after him while I’m at college. Sparky was injured earlier this year, but is completely sound and was back competing in July as my potential backup for the Games. With me away at college, he can have the extra time off that he deserves to ensure a complete and lasting recovery. I’ve never met a horse that loves xc as much as Sparky. He has 4 star potential written all over him and is still young enough.

These incredible horses have so much to offer and I see no sense in having them sit around in a field waiting for me to finish my studies. I know they will go on to help each of their new owners reach their goals, just as they helped me reach mine.

Monday News & Notes from Success Equestrian

My view of Saratoga’s Travers Stakes (above), and, via NYRA, the dead-heat wire (below).

With technology today, races are won or lost by as little as a half-inch, according to ESPN. But between Golden Ticket’s inside drive and Alpha’s ill-timed head-bob, the margin of victory in Saturday’s Travers Stakes was less. At the finish announcer Tom Durkin exasperatedly called it “too close,” and for a couple of minutes we–the sun-, booze-, adrenaline-fueled crowd–stood restless on the rail, a group of women beside me piqued that their longshot bet on 33-1 Golden Ticket was now precariously up in the air. And then, in a red-hued flash of the board, it was confirmed: DEAD HEAT. Alpha, 2-1, would split the $1 Million Stakes $400K/$400K with Golden Ticket, paying $4.10 and $26.80 respectively, cuing instant frenzy. One of the women removed a single stiletto and flung it triumphantly above her head, catching it amusingly, though I think accidentally, in her half-full cocktail. And I wondered, having been lucky enough to witness exciting displays in both the Preakness and Travers Stakes this year, whether I shouldn’t throw a shoe, too.

The Alpha/Golden Ticket Dead Heat isn’t the first in the Travers’ 143-year history; a tie between Attila and Acrobat was decided in a run-off, with Attila emerging victorious. [DRF]

This Weekend in Eventing USA…

Continuing the exciting-wins trend, Becky Holder dominated the Richland Park CIC3*, finishing one-two on Can’t Fire Me and Courgeous Comet, respectively; Boyd and Crackerjack won the CIC2*. Scroll down for lots of fabulous coverage from John and Samantha. [Results]

Your upper level division winners combined, Horse — Rider — Event (Location) – Score:


1. Kristen Bond — Are You Ready — Richland Park (Mich.) — 32.00
2. Michael Pollard — Schoensgreen Hanni — Richland Park (Mich.) — 33.50


1. Sydney Conley Elliott — Pancho Villa — Richland Park (Mich.) — 28.0
2. William Coleman — Vancover — Richland Park (Mich.) — 32.4
3T. Natasha Keill — Naughty By Nature — Richland Park (Mich.) — 40.0
3T. Karen O’Neal — Markus — Caber Farm (Wash.) — 40.0


1. Robin Walker – Florenz — Richland Park (Mich.) — 26.1
2. Anna Collier — Gleaming Road — Caber Farm (Wash.) — 28.8
3. Doug Payne — Royal Tribute — Richland Park (Mich.) — 28.9
4. Victoria Jessop — Desert Mystery — Richland Park (Mich.) – 32.3
5. Frankie Thieriot — Uphoria — Shepherd Ranch (Calif.) — 32.5
6. Rachel Jurgens — Ziggy — Caber Farm (Wash.) — 33.0
7. Erin McPherson — McFly — Caber Farm (Wash.) — 33.5
8. Dick Bayly — Sifton — Richland Park (Mich.) — 34.0
9. Dick Bayly — Lauderdale — Richland Park (Mich.) — 35.7
10. Erin Jones — Edmund — Powder Basin (Wyo.) — 36.0
11. Elinor MacPhail — Goodnight Moon — Richland Park (Mich.) — 36.6
12. Barbara Allen — My Main Man — Genessee Valley (N.Y.) — 46.2
13. Christian Eagles — Bugatti — Powder Basin (Wyo.) — 46.9

Full Results: [Caber Farm] [Difficult Run] [Genessee Valley] [Powder Basin] [Richland Park] [Shepherd Ranch] [Valinor Farm]

Events Opening Tomorrow:  The Maryland H.T. at Loch Moy Farm (MD, A-2); Greenwood Farm Inc. Fall H.T. (TX, A-5); The Ethel Walker School (CT, A-1); Grass Ridge H.T. (AZ, A-10); Radnor Hunt H.T. (PA, A-2); Course Brook Farm Fall Horse Trials (MA, A-1); Pine Top October HT (GA, A-3); Fall Horse Trials at the Ark (NC, A-2); Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials (TN, A-3).

Looks like Michael Jung has another winner on his hands in Halunke FBW, with whom he topped the Haras Du Pin CIC3* World Cup over the weekend. Or is it just starting to look like Jung, like Mark Todd, “could ride a broom and make galloping noises with his tongue – and still win…”? Burghley competitors can rejoice, and spectators lament, that MJ’s name doesn’t appear on the entry list. [Haras du Pin PDF Results]

Countdown to Burghley: 3 Days. [Burghley Entry & Wait Lists] [Burghley Website]

“Keeper’s Cottage (20) is very much related to Cottesmore Leap (21) – the largest eventing fence in the world. It is unchanged from last year but the feint of heart would be well advised not to step and look into the bottom of the ditch! Many riders still won’t walk up to this fence. There is, as ever, an alternative for those that think this is too much.” [Burghley Course Map, Notes & Fence Photos] [Cross-Country Preview Video]

The London Paralympics open Wednesday, with equestrian competition starting Thursday. Team GBR’s Lee Pearson, winner of nine gold medals in the past three Paralympics, hopes to up his count by an additional three this year. Twelve gold medals would make him history’s most decorated Paralympian. [Telegraph] [Paralympic Equestrian Schedule] [Telegraph’s Paralympics Equestrian Guide]

Considering advancing microchip and ID technology, is identification still a justifiable purpose for warmblood branding? [Jurga Report]

After witnessing the standard of riding, owners who lent London Olympic pentathlon horses are unsure whether they’d lend again. [Horse & Hound]

Yvette Seger: Welcome to My ‘Hood

EN Blogger Contestant Yvette Seger amassed a following with her “Insanity in the Middle” video , and we’re delighted to announce she’s agreed to contribute a regular “Tips for Eventers Living in Itty-Bitty Apartments in the City” EN column. Thanks for writing this, Yvette, and thanks for reading, Eventing Nation. Without further ado, we bring you Yvette’s first installment.


From Yvette:


Tips for Eventers Living in Itty-Bitty Apartments in the City – Welcome to My ‘Hood!

Hey, Eventing Nation…guess what?  I’m baaaaaaaack!  And ready to deliver eventer lifestyle tips that would make Martha Stewart cringe.  I know – I missed me too!

Well, now that the EN blogger contest has concluded and you know a little bit about my unorthodox training methods, my favorite word, and probably even watched me shower with my safety vest, I guess we know each other well enough for me to tell you a little bit about the 550 square feet that I call home.  (No, my friends, I wasn’t joking when I said “itty-bitty.”)

Although I am a Clevelander by birth and demented self-deprecating sense of humor, I’ve been calling Washington, D.C. my home for the past eight years.  The D.C. area is one of the few areas in the U.S. that does not seem to have been even remotely affected by the housing crisis, so finding a habitable apartment at an affordable price in a neighborhood for which chronic references in the “Crime” section of The Washington Post is not the only claim-to-fame can pose quite a challenge.  Case in point:  my first D.C. apartment was a walled off section of a family’s basement.  After two years of being “that girl who lives in the basement,” I finally decided it was time to rent a real apartment (okay, studio) in a managed building.

While I’ve long outgrown my apartment (I call it the largest, most expensive walk-in closet – slash – tackroom in DC), there is one – no, make that two reasons – why I continue to reside in 550 square feet:


I live small so they don’t have to!!  (Roger Rabbit and Finders Keepers)

A big part of my personal “insanity in the middle” is the fact that I stage my diverse and busy life – two horses, two guinea pigs, full-time job as a science policy analyst, second seemingly full-time job as horse management judge and volunteer with the U.S. Pony Clubs, and shoe addict (197 pairs and counting…) – out of this teeny-tiny apartment.  But without this chaos, I would have no reason to come up with my tips for eventers living in itty-bitty apartments in the city, and you wouldn’t be able to use my clown car life as an example of “gee, glad that’s NOT me!”  Win-win, yes?

So let’s get back to it, shall we?

Tip for Eventers Living in Itty-Bitty Apartments in the City #3:

The timeframe of 11 pm through 6 am is best for avoiding confrontation with your floormates over the laundering of money filthy/hairy/smelly saddlepads, stable sheets, polo wraps in the communal washers and dryers.  They all know that’s not cat hair, and can probably guess that the WeatherBeeta sheet isn’t the newest trend in club wear.  You might be able to fool your more gullible neighbors that polo wraps are the legwarmers of the aughties, though.


Double Whammy Birthday: Denny and Boyd

Our advice: If you want to event on the international stage, get a jump on the competition by arriving in the world sometime August 20th.

Wishing two of our greats, Denny Emerson (71) and Boyd Martin (33), a very Happy Birthday the only way we know how…

Monday News & Notes from Success Equestrian

When Kate posted those Morningside photos yesterday, I started feeling pretty bad about myself. That’s until I saw Horse Junkies United’s new equine photography contest, which (just saying, Kate) I’m probably going to win. Because I’ve taken lots of horse pics, and my camera’s delete button—formerly ignored—is now strategically underutilized. Yesterday I might’ve apologized for the above photo of Selena O’Hanlon and Columbo en route to a double-clear Jersey CCI3* cross-country finish, but today it’s priced at $39.95. And Selena, if you’re reading this, that’s without marketing rights. And I’ve only got about 10,000 more pics to sort through, not to mention all the strategical underutilization that might occur before the Sept. 1 deadline… [HJU]

Kate also recapped the weekend’s event winners and introduced a new, low-score, dressage-tiara EN tradition. [Kate’s Recap]

I subsequently found myself with some extra weekend-recap time on my hands, so took it upon myself to introduce my own EN tradition, one I probably should’ve done months ago —

Events Opening Tomorrow: Roebke’s Run H.T. (MN, A-4); Fair Hill International Three-day Event (MD, A-2); WindRidge Farm Fall Horse Trials (NC, A-3); Morven Park Fall H.T. (VA, A-2); ESDCTA New Jersey H.T. at the Horsepark (NJ, A-2); Woodside International Horse Trials (CA, A-6); Kent School Fall H.T. (CT, A-1). [USEA]

Burghley Countdown: 10 days. Will Faudree (Andromaque), Allison Springer (Arthur), Kate Hicks (Belmont), Sinead Halpin (Manoir de Carneville), Erin Sylvester (No Boundaries), Kristi Nunnink (R-Star), Sharon White (Rafferty’s Rules) and Marilyn Little-Meredith (RF Rovano Rex) are the US names on the list.  [Entries] [2012 XC Preview] [Burghley Website]

In case you missed it: Jennie Brannigan (Cambalda), P-Dutty (Atlas), Jon Holling (Downtown Harrison), and Clark Montgomery (Loughan Glen) will each receive a $15,000 Land Rover grant to offset costs of competing at the Boekelo CCI*** Nations Cup, the Netherlands, Oct. 11-14. Buck (The Apprentice) and Will Faurdree (Pawlow) will serve as alternates. [COTH]

Mary King and Imperial Cavalier enjoyed a “heroes welcome” returning to their hometown of Devon last week, parading down High Street for cheering crowds, receiving the honour of “Freeman of the Town.” [BBC]

Mary’s daughter Emily will bolster the six-member British team at the junior European Championships in Strzegom, Poland, next month. [Horse & Hound]

Karin Donkers’ 18-year-old campaigner Gazelle De Le Brasserie is one of several Olympic horses now retired after the London Games. [H & H]

Riding high on Olympic glory, dressage gold medalists Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester will make cameos in the upcoming Spanish Riding School of Vienna UK Tour. Charls will give a mounted demo, while Carls will discuss the “science” of dressage. [Horse & Country]

Not to be outdone, Oli Townend and show jumper Geoff Billington are teaming up for a December “Edge of Glory” tour, which, in addition to riding demos, promises “plenty of antics” and “hilarious banter, entertainment and fun,” billing Townend and Billington a “comedy duo.” Sounds more like the “Dead-Center Pinnacle of Glory,” am I right? [Book Tix]

Jen Alfano and Jersey Boy have long been a force on the derby circuit, but their fourth attempt at the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals brought them the ultimate prize. [COTH]

Saratoga’s $1 Million Travers Stakes, also dubbed the Midsummer Derby, is coming up Saturday, and I still haven’t picked my favorite. Contenders Atigun, Liaison, Nonios and Stealcase have all posted pre-race works. [BloodHorse]

Eventing Cinema, Buzzterbrown/Surefire HT Style:

The WINNER: Second Annual Blogger Contest

*Actual prize may differ.

After many hours of meticulous deliberation, at the end of a valiantly, closely fought competition, we’re excited to announce that the winner of our Second Annual EN Blogger Contest is…

Jenni Autry!

The style and sophistication of Jenni’s posts really impressed us, and we can’t wait to bring you more of her stellar work.

Fans of Emily, Yvette and Lauren: Don’t despair. All four finalists were such strong contenders that we’ve got plans in motion to bring you more from each of your favorite writers.

In the meantime, I’ll report that Jenni already has several fabulous posts in progress, when not busy fulfilling menial chinchilla whims, bedazzling a new XC placard for Vis, or windexing the frame-glass of John’s 8×10 glossy collection (John with Boyd, John with Buck, John with Computer and Cross-Country Jump, John sporting Polo Shirt, etc).

Thanks again to all who entered the Second Annual Blogger Contest, read and commented on entries, or voted in our final poll. Your enthusiasm has been both awesome and inspiring. Until next year!

Monday News & Notes from Success Equestrian

Closing ceremony finale via London 2012.

And just like that, though it seems only yesterday John was reporting live from the “Greenwhich” test event, assuring us the park would “serve horses, riders, and fans well at the Olympics” despite ongoing protests, the London Games are over.

Thanks to friends on-site at the Olympics—SmartPak, USEF, Horse & Hound, the Chronicle and ProEquest amongst many others—we now know, at least vicariously, how awesome Greenwich turned out to be.

“If there’s any other Olympic venue with a backdrop like the one in Greenwich Park, I haven’t heard of it,” Erin Gilmore wrote in a recent ProEquest blog:

The best part of Greenwich was that it became the athlete’s village for the equestrians. The riders stayed in hotels just outside the entrances, meaning that when I walked up the street in the morning to the venue, I was suddenly walking next to Ian Millar and was able to wish him good luck. When I went out for dinner with a friend after an “early” end to the day, Steffen and Shannon Peters sat down at the very next table. And the morning that I stopped at a pub outside the gates for breakfast, the coach of the Saudi show jumping team sat down next to me and struck up a conversation.

Not to mention competitors like Nina Ligon and Reed Kessler taking us inside the Games via social media like never before.

And though our US equestrians came home without medals, and we’ll go back to work today without further need of honed NBC-livestream-window-minimizing skills, I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to, in terms of renewed determination and revamped strategy, anticipating Rio in four years.

Of course, our cheering isn’t done – the Paralympics open in London on the 29th, with equestrian competition slated for the 30th. Go Paralympians. [Schedule]

This Weekend in Eventing USA…

A twist on our normal event reportage: I’ve compiled the weekend’s advanced, intermediate and preliminary division winners and ranked them by score.  It’s perhaps unfair to compare different venues, but nonetheless interesting to see how scores stack up around the country…

Horse & Rider – Event and Division (Location) – Score


1. Kristi Nunnink & R-Star – Woodside A (Calif.) – 43.1


1. Lisa Marie Fergusson & Uni Sprite – Fair Hill OI (Md.) – 30.0
2. Erin Renfroe & DeCordova – GMHA OI (Vt.) – 30.4
3. James Alliston & Ben – Woodside OI (Calif.) – 41.2
4. Ann Bower & Rejuvenate – Otter Creek OI (Wis.) – 51.20


1. William Coleman III & Zipp – Fair Hill OP-B (Md.) – 22.9
2. Tristen Hooks & Learning To Fly – Woodside PR (Calif.) – 28.6
3. Ryan Wood & McLovin – Fair Hill OP-A (Md.) – 30.0
4. Corinne Ashton & Bubblesphere – GMHA PH (Vt.) – 30.9
5. Lauren Henry & Florestan du Serin – Woodside JR/YR-P (Calif.) – 32.0
6. Erin Kellerhouse & Parfait – Woodside OP (Calif.) – 32.6
7. Marcia Kulak & Yoscha Bosche  – GMHA OP (Vt.) – 34.4
8. Emily Fields & Dauntless Heart – GMHA JYOP (Vt.) – 37.0
9. Carolyn Quinn & Chelios – Stanton Farms OP (Idaho) – 38.9
10. Ann Bower & Prospero – Otter Creek (Wis.) – 46.40

Full Results: [Fair Hill] [GMHA] [Otter Creek] [Stanton Farms] [Woodside]

Nancy Jaffer weighs in on US equestrians’ “New Medal Plan”-warranting performance: “The highest-placed American rider in all the disciplines was show jumper Rich Fellers, eighth on Flexible after his team ended up tied for sixth. In the most surprising and disappointing finish, Steffen Peters — fourth at the 2008 Games on Ravel — came in next-to-last in the individual dressage finals, where he was 17th in the freestyle on Thursday as equestrian competition ended its run at Greenwich Park.” [Star-Ledger]

It has always been the plan, though perhaps increasingly bittersweet since making Team GBR dressage medal history, that Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester’s mounts Valegro and Uthophia would go up for sale after the Olympics. [Independent]

What affect will the sales have on Team GBR’s future Olympic medal prospects? “British dressage will be looking to Charlotte, Carl and Laura with beginning Grand Prix horses that have taken a back seat for the past year or Michael Eilberg with the breathtaking Woodlander Farouche, only six years old, or other combinations not yet at the fore as prospects for Rio.” [Dressage News]

The science of looking ahead: “What researchers did acknowledge is that elite athletes use their eyes differently from the rest of us. Three factors vary: the way the direct their gaze, the way they make predictive eye movements and the fact that they focus on important relevant features for longer than non-elite athletes.” [Fran Jurga]

The New York Times likens Pentathlon’s equestrian phase to speed dating: “The riders then have a critical 20 minutes to get to know their horses: to learn if they are bossy or open-minded, and whether they like a kick now and again or want to be left to their own devices. There will be a little sweet-talking, a few jumps and, said Donna Vakalis, a Canadian pentathlete, perhaps a few surreptitious breaths into the horse’s nostrils as a gesture of understanding. Then athlete and horse will head off together on the hope that the date does not end in disaster.” [NYT]

Unfortunately for Korean pentathlete Hwang Woojin, disaster ensued, and the Deadspin headline says it all: “Horse Goes Nuts During Equestrian Portion Of Modern Pentathlon, Turns It Into Wild Bronco Rodeo Competition.” Three cheers for Woojin, who remounted and finished the round. [With Video]

Susan Oaks of Ireland cleared a record 5ft, 9 in fence—sidesaddle—over the weekend. [Horse & Hound]

Found on Facebook: US Hartpury Roundup

Sinead: Tate amazing!!.. finished 8th out of 97 starters..mortified about the prize giving in zebra socks.. Picking out the american should be easy!

Sharon: Reg was so happy to be out eventing at Hartpury! I was pleased with his dressage, and there was a lot of room for improvement, so I’m hoping the scores will keep going down. He show jumped like a champ, with one unlucky rail. We were held on the cross country, but he was super and very happy to be doing it, even a little strong! I’m running up so many hills everyday and doing a million pushups so I won’t get exhausted riding him!!

Allison: So a day of ups and downs at Hartpury! Arthur was very good show jumping, we had one down (probably should have done the forward six instead of the steady seven) but he was very careful, rideable and much more relaxed in the ring. On xc I had a runout at the first corner which I am so mad at myself for. I haven’t had a mistake like that in a loooong time. In an odd way I think it was good to have a bit of a wake up call before Burghley as I still don’t have my heart 100% in it after the lead up to the Olympics. On the bright side he was full of run, fit and confident. I was worried about the spooky first water that a bunch of horses were stopping at — cascade waterfall into the water — but I rode it confidently and he jumped it beautifully. Need to get my awesome focus back!

[Hartpury CIC*** Results]

Sinead and Tate at Hartpury:

Vote Now: Your Favorite Blogger Contest Finalist

As the Second Annual EN Blogger Contest wraps up, and we’re giving YOU, dear readers, one last chance to weigh in. Who’s your favorite finalist? Whose future posts are you most excited to read? Whose name, at the top of a post, inspires within you an urgent desire to READ and LAUGH and LEARN and LIKE and SHARE?

In case you need a refresher:

Jenni Autry: Round 1, Round 2, Final Round

Emily Daignault: Round 1, Round 2, Final Round

Lauren Nethery: Round 1, Round 2, Final Round

Yvette Seger: Round 1, Round 2, Final Round

We’ll take popular opinion into account as we make our final decision. Vote now for your favorite. Go Bloggers.

Blogger Contest Final Round: Jenni Autry


The Final Round Blogger Contest entries are in–and in a twist of seminal intrigue, we’re offering you the opportunity to weigh in on each article before we declare a victor.

Their Final Round Assignment: Two basic requirements for every post on Eventing Nation: words and visuals. You’ve proven you’re capable of the words bit; now we need to know you’ve got an eye for aesthetics. Your Final Round eventing-related article, themed “Insanity in the Middle,” must be at least 200 words (there’s no word limit) and visually enhanced–the more creatively, the better–with at least one photo you’ve taken, or diagram you’ve created, or video you’ve shot, etc. We stress that access to expensive camera equipment is unnecessary; see Wylie’s FEI pictograms for proof that imagination, at least in the context of this assignment, will be your most invaluable asset. Words and visuals will be judged 50/50 on the same basis as previous entries (Interesting, Funny, Informative, Creative).

Here’s Jenni Autry’s final installment (for Jenni’s previous entries, see Round 1, Round 2). To read the previously posted installments of Yvette Seger click here, Lauren Nethery click here, and Emily Daignault click here. Entries are presented unedited for fairness’ sake.

Now that all four Final Round entries are posted, you see what a difficult decision we have to make. Thanks for your hard work, Jenni, and thanks as always for reading, Eventing Nation. Please leave feedback in the comments section–we’ll make our final decision and announce the Second Annual EN Blogger Contest victor soon.


Bio: Jenni Autry is a 26-year-old eventer from Mechanicsburg, Pa., who has worked in the journalism industry for nearly five years. She has written for Pennsylvania Equestrian since starting her career, interviewing wonderful horsemen and horsewomen (and horses!) like Jessica Ransehousen, Lizzy Traband, Silva Martin, Boyd Martin, Hope Hand and Smarty Jones. The story she wrote on the Memorial Day fire at Boyd Martin’s barn took second place in its category at the 2011 American Horse Publications Awards. A graduate C-2 Pony Clubber, she hopes to one day adopt an off-the-track Thoroughbred through CANTER and train it for eventing.


 I would like to apologize in advance to Michelangelo; I could not pass up the chance to exploit David’s nekidness. Photo credit to yours truly, taken illegally at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy, last October.

DRD4. It’s what scientists call the thrill-seeking gene, one that can make us more predisposed to jump out of airplanes, drive racecars or gallop at 550 meters per minute over a cross-country course. Interestingly, the DRD4 gene can also make us more prone to gambling addictions and promiscuity, but that’s beside the point. Consider the possibility that eventers — collectively known as thrill-seeking junkies — are designed for this sport, not just in their athletic abilities or their personalities, but down to their very genes.

The prevalence of the DRD4 gene in eventers would certainly offer a logical explanation for the looks of confusion and sometimes terror on the faces of our non-horsey friends when we explain to them what eventing is, and that we do this for fun. While the concept of strapping on a safety vest — complete with CO2 canister — seems insane to the outside world, there’s few things we enjoy more than a good gallop around a cross-country course. To those who are lucky enough to compete on a regular basis, eventing is a way of life. We adrenaline junkies need an outlet into which we can channel our thrill-seeking ways, lest we spiral downward into destructive behavior.

Scientists are quick to note that DRD4-gene carriers are more prone to criminal activity and drug addictions, among other illegal pursuits. It’s entirely possible that without eventing as an adrenaline outlet, we might all engage in questionable behavior. Without eventing, Jon Holling’s infamous streaking episode might not merely be a way to celebrate a win, but a regular way to spend a Friday night. Let’s face it. Eventing isn’t just a sport. It may just be the savior of the civilized world, ensuring we keep our DRD4 genes firmly in check and clothing securely on our bodies — Bromont streaking incidents notwithstanding. Insanity in the middle, indeed.

Lamaze’s London Mettle

Eric Lamaze and Derly Chin de Muze, London 2012, via SmartPak.

Canadian Olympic show jumper Eric Lamaze finished 29th aboard Derly Chin de Muze in the individual competition yesterday—but in days to come, looking back on London, the 2008 Beijing Olympic individual gold medalist’s mediocre finish isn’t what we’ll remember.

On Monday, the Fédération Equestre Interationale disqualified Victor, mount of 28-year-old teammate Tiffany Foster, on the basis of hypersensitivity. In a subsequent press conference, Foster, the center of international contention and a first-time Olympian, understandably battled tears, relating the personally “devastating” effects of disqualification only after she’d expressed her horse’s welfare as being of foremost concern.

Veteran teammate Lamaze was less diplomatic, polemically deeming the decision a “complete miscarriage of justice,” attributing the horse’s sensitivity to a “superficial cut.” (The ostensible purpose of hypersensitivity testing is to identify horses whose legs have been artificially sensitized, producing painstaking jumping efforts at the expense of welfare and competitive integrity.) Within six minutes, according to Lamaze, five people poked Victor’s leg 50 times. Between the lines, Lamaze was perhaps hinting that hypersensitivity wasn’t a surprising outcome.

Disconcertingly—because in the context of Olympic disqualification, aren’t concessions necessarily disconcerting?—and as if in the wake of a narrow election, a scattering of official, concessional statements accompanied the ordeal. HRH Princess Haya, president of the FEI, quickly professed “absolutely no accusation whatsoever” of wrongdoing. Equine Canada proffered that they “fully support the FEI in its hypersensitivity testing protocol.” And of course, if you search it out, concessional language was already on the “Hypersensitivity in Equestrian Competition” page of the FEI website: “hypersensitive limbs are not necessarily a result of a manipulation to the legs….”

Whatever Equine Canada’s intention in supporting the FEI’s disqualification (indeed, what was it?), one doubts it was upping the proverbial wattage by further incensing Lamaze, whom former Equine Canada CEO Akaash Maharaj has called “perhaps the greatest equestrian athlete Canada has ever produced,” while in full glare of the Olympic spotlight.

But unfortunately for Equine Canada, that’s exactly what happened; Lamaze publicly announced he’d stop riding in team events until Equine Canada took a stronger, supportive stance behind Foster, his statement only to be followed by another high-profile dissent from Maharaj in yesterday’s Globe and Mail:

The regulations are absolutely legitimate. The FEI’s attempt to apply them to Foster’s situation was absurd.

The FEI has conceded that there is no suggestion that Foster acted improperly, neither through malice nor through negligence, neither through omission nor through commission. The FEI Veterinary Commission did not even bother to take the horse out of its stall to examine it further or to test its movement for any signs of discomfort. There is no evidence that the horse itself was even aware of the scratch, other than when it was poked repeatedly.

By wrapping indefensible decisions in the false flag of horse welfare, the FEI has done more than wrong individual athletes. It has brought its commitment to horse welfare into disrepute, and demonstrated a willingness to make its most important rules the enemies of the most basic standards of justice.


And then yesterday–lest they lose Lamaze? lest other top equestrians launch their own criticisms?–Equine Canada changed it’s tune (bold emphasis added):

“Victor sustained a superficial cut on the front of the left front coronary band,” states Canadian Olympic Team Veterinarian for Jumping Dr. Sylvie Surprenant. “In our opinion the horse was fit to compete as he showed no signs of lameness. However the FEI hypersensitivity protocol is such that if the horse is sensitive to the touch, regardless of the cause, the horse is disqualified. While the FEI rules for the hypersensitivity protocol were followed, we believe that there should be a review of this protocol.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Lamaze, on the world stage, under international pressure, produced effects by sticking his course. What becomes of the hypersensitivity protocol remains to be seen. But, at least for the moment, the issue is on the table.

Show Jumping Gold for Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat

Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Nino Des Buissonnets via FEI.

Steve Guerdat, 30, and his 11-year-old gelding Nino Des Buissonnets were the only pair to jump clean over Bob Ellis’ two tricky, individual final courses today, cinching the first show jumping gold for Switzerland since 1924.

The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor, both having accrued a single time penalty in the final rounds, jumped off for silver and bronze. Schroder was first in the ring, jumping quick and clean, forcing O’Connor to put the pedal to the medal–and it looked like O’Connor might do it, riding very boldly, until he found a long spot to the final oxer and had it down behind. Schroder took silver, and O’Connor, still looking very pleased, took bronze–turns out O’Connor’s effort produced Ireland’s first medal of the London Games, the FEI reports. To make things extra impressive, O’Connor got the call-up to the Olympic team when Dennis Lynch’s nomination was withdrawn, and was in reserve individual position this morning until Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s horse was withdrawn at vet check.

Team USA’s Rich Fellers and Flexible had an unfortunate rail and time penalty in the first round, but jumped the second clear, finishing eighth behind Great Britain’s Nick Skelton and Scott Brash, both of whom had a rail in the second round. McLain Ward and Antares, the only other US pair to qualify for individual finals, had 12 faults in the first round, missing the 5-penalty cutoff to advance to the second.

With Olympic eventing and show jumping now completed, Team USA has yet to win a medal. Our final hope now rests upon WEG individual bronze medalists Steffen Peters and Ravel, our sole Grand Prix Freestyle pair, who enter the ring at 1:45 local/8:45 am EDT tomorrow.

Individual Show Jumping Results: [Click Here]

NBC Replay: [Click Here]

Read More: [Horse & Hound] [World of Show Jumping]

Blogger Contest Final Round: Emily Daignault

The Final Round Blogger Contest entries are in–and in a twist of seminal intrigue, we’re offering you the opportunity to weigh in on each article before we declare a victor.

Their Final Round Assignment: Two basic requirements for every post on Eventing Nation: words and visuals. You’ve proven you’re capable of the words bit; now we need to know you’ve got an eye for aesthetics. Your Final Round eventing-related article, themed “Insanity in the Middle,” must be at least 200 words (there’s no word limit) and visually enhanced–the more creatively, the better–with at least one photo you’ve taken, or diagram you’ve created, or video you’ve shot, etc. We stress that access to expensive camera equipment is unnecessary; see Wylie’s FEI pictograms for proof that imagination, at least in the context of this assignment, will be your most invaluable asset. Words and visuals will be judged 50/50 on the same basis as previous entries (Interesting, Funny, Informative, Creative).

Here’s Emily Daignault’s final installment (for Emily’s previous entries, see Round 1, Round 2). To read the previously posted final installments of Yvette Seger click here, and Lauren Nethery click here. Stay tuned for the final entry from Jenni Autry. Entries are presented unedited for fairness’ sake.  Thanks for your hard work, Emily, and thanks as always for reading, Eventing Nation. Please leave feedback in the comments section.


Bio: Hi my name is Emily and I would like to be an EN blogger. Why? Because after 10 concussions, numerous broken bones, of course stitches, I feel that sitting behind a computer and pontificating on the active Eventing lives of others will lead me to riches beyond my wildest dreams! (Or it would be a sizeable difference in my bank account balance without frequent doctor and ER visits!) You see long before EN there was another website with the ground breaking idea to follow the upper levels of Eventing and put up live streaming audio and video event reports and give internet savvy folks the most up to the moment news as it happened. And I was the Eventing Correspondent! Sadly however it was 2001 and the average internet connection was 56k over a phone line. You know that old dial up sound of “Whirr, blip blip, bong.” AOL says “You’ve got mail!” and life was good. Except that it wasn’t. Only about 10,000 people across the US could hear and see our reports. This was great in its own way was great because the little “oops” moments of life didn’t make it very far. Like at Rolex, when I asked Ian Stark on camera did he think being British gave him an advantage on Mike E-S’s course as there are so many of them in the UK…and in mid-sentence he stopped me and said “I’m Scottish dear.” Ooo yea, journalism rule # 1, know your subject.

Entry: I won’t lie, this challenge had me good and stumped. I have sweated on this one for days. Why? Well not because I was overflowing with ideas. No instead I had a massive case of writers block. “Insanity in the middle” what the heck does that even mean? So many possible scenarios ran through my mind as I tried to think of not only what I believed it meant, but what others took it to convey also. At first I thought of the wild moments of air bags deploying, horses falling and spectators fainting into the arms of William Fox-Pitt. And even though that last one made me grin, I felt that was too negative of a run of things. Soon my mind was overflowing with all the possible things that could be considered “Insane” about Eventing. The early mornings, the riding in all variations of weather, putting studs in during a typhoon and so many others. And though all are indeed insane parts of our sport I thought this would be too minimal.

The insanity in Eventing runs through all of us from our icons and heroes down the youngest Tadpole eventers out there. And while we all start by watching the big names, eventually we discover the USEA and begin to learn where to start. By finding our own start box, we can set off on the course our own event careers. We learn to watch our heroes at the big events, but we take the lessons and tidbits of skills we can see home to our own mounts.

Looking around in the warm up areas we see kindred spirits of all ages and types. Horses and humans are transformed into “Eventers” once the pinny is tied on tight. Everyone understands the butterflies that work to free themselves from our stomach, and everyone has felt the rush as they crossed the finish line clear for the first time. We all need to learn. The wise teach the novice, be it horse or rider. The seasons change and eventually you too can find your way to buying an OTTB and teaching them to thrive on this insanity as we all do. The insanity isn’t easy to covey because it’s really passion in disguise.

The passion for Eventing has been within me for decades now and I hope my video takes a moment of time to look back at some great memories. So I guess that I haven’t found an answer to what exactly “Insanity in the middle” is exactly, and I don’t think any one person can say for all of us what the definition entails. But know this my friends, any group of people who chooses to strap an air bag on themselves to go running around the countryside on the backs of former racehorses aiming for solid obstacles, and who asks their best friend “Is this shirt TOOO pink for Cross Country?” Well you can be sure that we are all a little insane.

Blogger Contest Final Round: Lauren Nethery

The Final Round Blogger Contest entries are in–and in a twist of seminal intrigue, we’re offering you the opportunity to weigh in on each article before we declare a victor.

Their Final Round Assignment: Two basic requirements for every post on Eventing Nation: words and visuals. You’ve proven you’re capable of the words bit; now we need to know you’ve got an eye for aesthetics. Your Final Round eventing-related article, themed “Insanity in the Middle,” must be at least 200 words (there’s no word limit) and visually enhanced–the more creatively, the better–with at least one photo you’ve taken, or diagram you’ve created, or video you’ve shot, etc. We stress that access to expensive camera equipment is unnecessary; see Wylie’s FEI pictograms for proof that imagination, at least in the context of this assignment, will be your most invaluable asset. Words and visuals will be judged 50/50 on the same basis as previous entries (Interesting, Funny, Informative, Creative).

Here’s Lauren Nethery’s final installment (for Lauren’s previous entries, see Round 1, Round 2). To read the previously posted final installment of Yvette Seger, click here. Stay tuned for entries from Emily Diagnault and Jenni Autry. Entries are presented unedited for fairness’ sake.  Thanks for your hard work, Lauren, and thanks as always for reading, Eventing Nation. Please leave feedback in the comments section.


Bio: Age: 24 years old

Background: In short, if it has four legs I will ride it.  Horses of all shapes, sizes, and psychosis’, bulls, camels, so on, and so forth.  I currently manage a farm in Lexington, KY, retired my Advanced mare in 2009 and am presently enjoying bringing my handful of an OTTB (more on this later) back to the Intermediate ranks after eighteen months off from a hoof injury.  I start a lot of young horses under saddle, both for sport and for racing, teach lessons, compete horses for clients, wrangle pot-bellied pigs, and trim miniature horse feet.  On a Monday.


Entry: Top 10 Signs That You Have Indeed Become ‘Insane In The Middle’

10. Your first survival instinct is heels down, eyes UP!

No horses were harmed in the taking of this photo.  However, egos were bruised all around. Copyright: Xpress Foto 2006, used with permission.

9. An afternoon at the pool does not include bikinis and sunscreen.

Taler taking a dip at Kesmarc.

8. Even other extreme sports enthusiasts think you are crazy.

Suspended thousands of feet in the air on a flimsy ledge?  Childs play compared to Eventing, those horses (and jumps) are HUGE!

7. Dressing up for social occasions is nearly unheard of (unless Boyd/Will/Hamish/Jose will be there). Costume contests on XC, though? Abso-freaking-lutely!

Smiles all around at River Glen many years ago on my first FEI horse, appropriately named ‘Sinner’.

6. If it eats and poops it must jump. If it doesn’t, it must be willing to learn.

Roxie Woodall, Event dog, practicing skinnies.     |     My mother during her first XC school

5. ‘Normal’ recreational activity implements become fodder for new jumps. This includes, but is not limited to: kayaks, canoes, sprinklers, picnic tables, lawn chairs, pool noodles, inflatable crocodiles, and festive holiday items such as christmas trees and those motion-activated halloween decorations that shake and howl.

Exhibit A: Canoe Jumping.  Jenn O’Neill and Antebellum Q

4. Sometimes you simply cannot suppress the urge to hug your favorite equine.

The timing of my hug impulses has improved since this video was taken.

3. A weekend without a horse show involves you and several Eventing compadres riding BULLS instead.

I find it helpful to practice my lower leg position even in my spare time. Photo courtesy of Joey Clark, 2009.

2. Outright favoritism, unfairness, and/or idiocy from Dressage judges often insights within you fits of rage.

Photo courtesy of

1. You spend entire weeks of your summer feverishly writing, editing, scrapping, and rewriting articles for Eventing Nation on a quest for unpaid, labor-intensive, unknown-to-the-outside-world GLORY.


My most artistic and accurate depiction of my current physical and mental state.  Photo courtesy of Paint and 1am.

Blogger Contest Final Round: Yvette Seger

The Final Round Blogger Contest entries are in–and in a twist of seminal intrigue, we’re offering you the opportunity to weigh in on each article before we declare a victor.

Their Final Round Assignment: Two basic requirements for every post on Eventing Nation: words and visuals. You’ve proven you’re capable of the words bit; now we need to know you’ve got an eye for aesthetics. Your Final Round eventing-related article, themed “Insanity in the Middle,” must be at least 200 words (there’s no word limit) and visually enhanced–the more creatively, the better–with at least one photo you’ve taken, or diagram you’ve created, or video you’ve shot, etc. We stress that access to expensive camera equipment is unnecessary; see Wylie’s FEI pictograms for proof that imagination, at least in the context of this assignment, will be your most invaluable asset. Words and visuals will be judged 50/50 on the same basis as previous entries (Interesting, Funny, Informative, Creative).

In reverse alphabetical order, here’s Yvette Seger’s final installment (for Yvette’s previous entries, see Round 1, Round 2). Stay tuned for entries from Lauren Nethery, Emily Diagnault and Jenni Autry. Entries are presented unedited for fairness’ sake (though please note, Yvette’s entry was created during USPC Championships-East).  Thanks for your hard work, Yvette, and thanks as always for reading, Eventing Nation. Please leave feedback in the comments section.


Bio: Age: Too old for Young Riders, but too young for the Masters division (36)

Background: Little. Blonde. Different.

Character-Defining Qualities: I’m originally from Cleveland, so I have this strange habit of checking to make sure bodies of water are not flammable. I like the color red, and bacon is my favorite food group.

Embarrassing Tidbits: I’m not really embarrassed by it, but I am known for having full on conversations with my horse on cross-country…conversations in which I throw my voice so that it sounds like he’s answering me. And my start box song is “Straight Outta Compton.”


Entry: Cult-like Phenomenon Strikes Equestrian Community, Proclaims to Bring Insanity to the Middle

LEXINGTON, VA: While politicos in the U.S. debate the merits of the Presidential candidates (and their pets), the equestrian community is attempting to ward off the effects of a cult-like organization that calls itself “The Eventing Nation.” While the discipline of eventing is a well-established and popular sport among equestrians, individuals who proclaim to be members of the Eventing Nation are recognized for taking the sport to absolute extremes, including mandatory training sessions in extreme weather conditions, forcing members to conduct exercises in full riding apparel, and even cross-training in local discount stores. The cult seems to affect riders of all ages. One mother at the United States Pony Club’s National Championships East – currently underway at the Virginia Horse Center – became concerned when her daughter started marking doorways, local streets, and even stretches of I-95 with red flags on the right and white flags on the left, in “an effort to contain the insanity to the middle.”

A recent Google search uncovered what appears to be a recruitment video for the group. The video outlines some of the core qualities required of Eventing Nation members, including training practices and apparent corruption of younger recruits to make them more malleable to Nation practices. The video unwittingly chronicles the disturbing interactions of this group with members of the general public, including taunting of FEI judge, Wayne Quarles. Mr. Quarles refused to discuss this experience with the Eventing Nation, stating only that it was “too traumatic to talk about at this time.”

This video is shown below to increase awareness of actions and behaviors that may be indicative of an individual’s recruitment to this fringe group. If you suspect that a friend or family member has become “insane in the middle,” lure the afflicted individual to a securable location by flagging the entrance with red and white flags, and call the authorities.

SJ Monday’s News & Notes from Success Equestrian

Through Stonehenge, Team USA’s McLain Ward and Antares, photo via SmartPak.

Team medals will be won in show jumping today, with the USA’s Fellers, Kessler, Madden and Ward still narrowly in the hunt. After yesterday’s round (Madden and Ward garnered 4 penalties apiece, Kessler brought two down for the 8-penalty drop score, and Fellers jumped clean), Team USA just made the 8-team cutoff for final-round team medal contention. Saudi Arabia are the current leaders with a single time penalty; Great Britain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are tied for second with 4 faults; Canada sits sixth with 5, and Teams Brazil and USA are tied for seventh with 8. Competition resumes today at 2pm local/9am EDT. [Results]

Sunday Show Jumping Recaps: [Kate] [COTH] [FEI] [USEF] [Equisearch]

The top 35 show jumpers compete Wednesday for individual medals. Fellers, the USA’s top-placed rider, is one of 12 atop the scoreboard without penalty. Confused about Olympic show jumping scoring, qualifications or format? Horse & Hound Show Jumping Editor Jennifer Donald will sort you out. [Horse & Hound]

After a tough showing cross-country and David Marcus’ elimination from the first round of Olympic Dressage, hard luck continued for Canada, currently sixth in Team Show Jumping, with the FEI’s disqualification of Victor, ridden by Tiffany Foster, 28, in her first Olympics, for apparent hypersensitivity. COTH was on the scene, reporting that HRH Princess Haya, FEI president, claimed “no accusation” of wrongdoing, Foster was visibly emotional, and teammate Eric Lamaze obviously incensed: ” ‘I think I can speak on behalf of [Foster], my chef d’equipe and my other teammates. This is a complete miscarriage of justice,’ he said. ‘We all know why they do the tests, and we all understand. [But] within a period of perhaps six minutes, five people poked at this horse’s leg 50 times.’ ” [COTH]

With Foster’s disqualification and Canada’s subsequent inability to drop a score, medal hopes rest upon the team’s three remaining riders. Luckily, those include defending Olympic individual gold medalist Eric Lamaze and record 10-time Olympian Ian Millar: “Millar is known as ‘Captain Canada’ in his home country, where he is a national sports hero. He twice won jumping’s World Cup but has only one Olympic medal — team silver in China in 2008. He contributed a clean round there to bolster his team despite riding with a broken hand.” [Washington Post]

Olympic Dressage riders had the weekend off, but team competition resumes with the Grand Prix Special tomorrow at 10 am local/5 am EDT. Can Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro top their already-Olympic-record-breaking 83.663 percent? [Results]

Horse & Hound Dressage Editor Alice Collins is a believer: “I can’t remember feeling more nervous in recent times than I was during Charlotte’s test — but I, along with the rest of the spectators, jumped up when she nailed her final halt. We screamed like Justin Bieber teens. We shouted, we cheered and then a noise like thunder swept round the stadium as 20,000 stamped their feet in appreciation of the coolest combo in dressage.” [Horse & Hound]

Meanwhile, in Eventing USA…

Buck and Phillip hung onto their leads in Millbrook’s two who’s-who advanced divisions, winning aboard Reggie and Young Man, respectively; Buck also won Open Intermediate-B on No More Rocks; Ariel Grald and Practically Perfect finished on a 29.6 to top Open Intermediate-A, and Caroline Martin impressively finished both of her horses on their dressage scores, winning the YROI with Petite Flower and placing second with Quantum Solace. [Results]

At the Area VII Young Rider Benefit H.T. in Centralia, Wash., Jordan Lindstedt piloted Revitavet Capato to the top of the OP, and Natalie Sakuma and The Supernova won wire to wire in the JR/YR-P. [Results]

Wanda Rodden and Miss Kate topped Snowfields’ solo training division; Jessica Champagne and CBT Frenchmistress won the OT/N, and Katie Murphy and Esccord RGS, Taylor Ginn and Sage Advice, Lakiesha Varney and My Red Neck Romeo, and Kimmy Cecere and Samson were novice victors. [Results]

The Economist’s fair/balanced look at Olympic horse sports: “Although in some ways equestrianism is considered one of the more elitist sports—it requires deep pockets to purchase and a look after good nag; horses are frustratingly prone to expensive injuries; ample land is required to house and exercise them; and the royals are keen on it (the queen’s granddaughter was on the British team)—in other ways it is one of the more egalitarian sports.” [Economist]

Mounted games players, behold: The USA’s Mackenzie Taylor took rescue pony Inkspot to the Mounted Games World Individual Championships in Chepstow, Wales, and won the Under 17 Championship–the first-ever American World Individual finalist. [Horsetalk]

Top of the Tweets: Reed Kessler: two rails with big mama today- Rich Fellers is my hero!!!! still in medal contention gotta bring it tomorrow!!!

McLain Ward and Antares, as seen from the Olympic stands:

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro’s 83.663 percent:

Tuesday Social Media Roundup

Nina Ligon: Getting ready!

OlympiMania: Equestrian’s eventing team jumping and individual jumping finals are about to start! Is it just us or those horses are like totally awesome!

Phoenix Equestrian Team: Phenomenal finish for Jessica & Exponential they finished 22nd out of 74 riders!!!

Kim Severson Eventing: Nina Ligon is officially a rock star now! (Proof)

Will Coleman: Great clear round, just 2 time faults, but the old horse jumped great:

Phillip Dutton: Disappointment on the team round, no fault of Whisper’s – going back in to have another shot at it in the individual

SmartPaker Sarah: Go Karen go!:

ProEquest: Mr. Medicott is congratulated by his groom Max Corcoran after jumping clear with Karen O’Connor today in the team stadium jumping team final. The USA might not have finished where they hoped, but the team horses all know that they’re superstars (Erin Gilmore Photo):

Kate Samuels: Sweet pic of Sweden’s Wega, in the lead individually in #Olympic #eventing, as a filly foal with mother La Fair:

SmartPaker Sarah: She does it! Wega turned it on today and put in a lovely ride. And here comes The Beatles! Oh no wait, thats just Tina Cook.

Francis Whittington: The team behind the success @BritishGrooms:

Emily King: YESSSS MUMMMAAA!! #TeamGB secure team silver #London2012 aahhhhh!!! Mum and Tina still in shot for individual medal #COMEONGIRLS

Eventing NZ: How Big are those smiles from our Bronze medal winning team! Toddy gets a bit of extra applause due to his Legend Status.

Phillip Dutton: Whisper tried really hard in the second round, big ask for him after such a big day yesterday.

USEA: Karen O’Connor gives the Americans a top ten finish. Riding Mr. Medicott Karen finishes ninth individually.

Huffington Post: Look who we spotted at the Olympics! Will and Kate!

PRO Event Riders: High Kingdom really jumping huge and Zara nearly comes off but guides him thru a flawless round as applause erupts #London2012

An Eventful Life: Yes I wanted to scream at the last fence too. Michael Jung a deserving winner, Sara Algotsson Ostholt silver, Sandra Auffarth bronze

Monty White: Man that was charged! The stands noticeably shook with all the cheering & stamping. S/where a scientist is recalibrating his richter scale!

Laine Ashker: Michael Jung for president!

Nick Gauntlett: Apparently it’s Jung’s Birthday too… #greedy!

Laura Collett: If you ask Micheal Jung what he did on his 30th bday: “became Olympic Champion” #casual

Mike Tindall: @dolbird @aliceplunkett waiting for the medal ceremony:

British Eventing: It had the feeling of a music festival for horse-lovers – Glastonbury meets Glorious Goodwood #greenwichpark

Paul Tapner: Jung came from 11th place after dressage to claim gold, proof that finishing on your dressage score is the most important skill of eventing

FEI: What a feeling 🙂  :

SmartPaker Sarah: It’s raining medals! Unfortunately it’s also raining water.

Alice Plunkett: William fox pitt and Michael Jung #legendsofthesport:

Samantha Clark: Why do I feel like crying? Happy tears, proud tears, what if tears…so proud of everyone, and of our sport, fantastic Eventing London 2012

Vision of the Horse: A post eventing drink for many who were at Greenwich today!:

Get Prepped for Show Jumping

The sun sets on Greenwich XC day, via FEI.

By the time sixth-placed Mary King enters the ring tomorrow, within a single-rail margin of the lead, many of us will have reached a judgment-impairing, edge-of-seat level of excitement. So let’s get a grip on the Olympic show jumping format now, shall we?

Assuming her horse passes the second horse inspection at 8:15am local/3:15am EDT tomorrow morning, Jamaica’s Samantha Albert, currently 59th, will be first in the ring at 10:30am local/5:30am EDT. All riders, both team (like Boyd, Karen, Tiana, Will and Phillip) and individual (like Albert, Jamaica’s sole eventer), will jump the first round in reverse order of standing, though teams will count only the three lowest, cumulative rider scores (dressage + cross-country + first round show jump) toward their final team ranking. Team medals will be awarded based on the totaled scores of each team’s top three riders.

Next, ranked by cumulative dressage, cross-country and first-round show jumping penalties, the top 25 riders (max three per nation) will return for an individual, usually shortened and heightened second round, currently slated to begin at 2:30pm local/9:30am EDT. The results of this round affect only individual—not team—scores, and the cumulative totals (dressage + cross-country + first round show jump + second round show jump) will determine individual medal winners.

Clear as mud? Regardless, with a less than two-rail margin of error separating the top 10, Olympic eventing is set for a thrilling conclusion.

Go eventing.

Monday Social Media Roundup

Nina Ligon: Would u look at that crowd! #eventinglive

British Eventing: Messages of goodwill are flooding in for todays xc phase in London; good luck to everyone!! #greenwichpark #London2012 #Gamesmaker

SmartPaker Sarah: The cross country crowds descend upon downtown Greenwich:

Monty White: Boyd Martin gets the party started clear with a few time faults! This is the #London2012 Olympic Games!

Equestrian Social Media Awards: Mary King is trending GLOBALLY on Twitter!

SmartPaker Sarah: The big screen at fence 5:

Eventing NZ: My yelling at Jock and Clifton on the tele has woken the dogs. Even the cat looks worried.

ProEquest: The USA’s Tiana Coudray just completed her first Olympic cross country course with Ringwood Magister! Here she is…:

British Eventing Official: Nicola commented on her round earlier: ‘The support from the crowd was just deafening, unreal I couldn’t even hear my watch beeping for my minute markers. It didn’t bother him at all though; I think he enjoyed all those people there to see him. Amazing!’

John Lechner: How did so many members of Zara’s family get accreditation? All others get what 2 owners & 1 groom?

Hamish Cargill: Can someone please tell Andrew Nicholson the XC times have changed.

Sam Watson: Just to confirm this is Andrew Hoy two strides before jumping a skinny:

Nick Gauntlett: Lenamore just playing out in Greenwich park! Looks so easy for Caroline Powell 1.6 time!

Sinead Halpin: Absolutely gutted for Coalman.. Olympics a game of Dreams and Tears.. Fingers crossed for P Dutty

Nina Ligon: Phew! Clear, happy, and safely back at barn. –MOM

SmartPaker Colby: Massive food lines are a recurring theme:

British Eventing: Footstamping roaring crowd cheer Zara through the finish 8 sec in the time!!

ProEquest: What an intense and exciting day of cross country in London at the Olympic Games! Check out the top-placed USA pair, Phillip Dutton and Mystery Whisper, leaping down a massive bank. Team USA sits in 5th going into tomorrow’s stadium jumping phase:

Team Fredericks: I’ve just had a text from Cinda to say that Clayton and Bendigo are both fine, Clayton obviously disappointed but happy both well. Cinda is looking forward to the jumping tomorrow.

Team Ireland Equestrian: Joseph Murphy kisses Electric Cruise after their great Cross Country round at Greenwich:

Samantha Clark: Mark Todd on course, william fox-pitt on course, my nerves can’t take it yet I can’t look away – living legends!

Monty White: Big cheers for this guy all the way round…

Nick Gauntlett: @foxpitteventing what does William think of being called Bill by BBC interviewer?!?

NZ Olympic Team: Mark Todd being swarmed by fans! As he should what an olympic legend! Making us proud! #nzolympics:

Francis Whittington: Well I never thought it was going to be that exciting. What a fantastic competition.fab job @TeamGBR.a great show to watch

UK Eventing Blog: There is not even a fence between the top 6, tomorrow will be extremely exciting. The medals are still all to play for #eventinglive

Olympic XC Monday’s News & Notes from Success Equestrian

It all starts here: Fence 1, the Diamond Jubilee Hedge (Kit Houghton/FEI Photo).

Here’s hoping Boyd, Karen, Tiana, Will and Phillip have seasoned themselves and their horses with salt, and will tackle Sue Benson’s twisty/turny course as safely, soundly, quickly and cleanly as possible. A crowd of 50,000 is expected in Greenwich today, and many thousands more will be cheering along from the office. So let’s get the chant started, EN–IT’S FINALLY OLYMPIC CROSS-COUNTRY DAY: GO EVENTING!

Boyd and Otis will trailblaze at 12:30pm local/7:30am ET, accounting for the five-hour EDT/BST difference. Tune in early and often for live coverage throughout. [London Local Time]

North American Cross-Country Times:

Boyd Martin & Otis Barbotiere (USA) — 12:30pm local/7:30am ET
Michelle Mueller & Amistad (CAN) — 12:50pm local/7:50am ET
Karen O’Connor & Mr. Medicott (USA) — 1:26pm local/8:26am ET
Hawley Bennett-Awad & Gin & Juice (CAN) — 1:46pm local/8:46am ET
Tiana Coudray & Ringwood Magister (USA) — 2:26pm local/9:26am ET
Peter Barry & Kilrodan Abbott (CAN) — 2:46pm local/9:46am ET
Will Coleman & Twizzel (USA) — 3:30pm local/10:30am ET
Jessica Phoenix & Exponential (CAN) — 3:50pm local/10:50am ET
Phillip Dutton & Mystery Whisper (USA) — 4:34pm local/11:34am ET
Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master (CAN) — 4:54pm local/11:54am ET

[Full Cross-Country Ride Times]

How to watch: [NBC Online Stream] [NBC TV Schedule] [Master Broadcast List]

After dressage, the U.S. is in 7th place (138.8) behind Germany (1st, 119.1), Australia (122.10), Great Britain (127), Sweden (128.20), New Zealand (128.20) and Japan (130.70).  Phillip is 19th (44.30), Will is 26th (46.30), Karen is 29th (48.20), Boyd is 36th (50.70) and Tiana is 42nd (52.00). [Team Results] [Individual Results]

Dressage Wrap-Up Recaps: [COTH] [FEI] [USEA] [SmartPak/USEF] [Uptown Eventing Photos]

Get Prepped for Cross-Country: [SmartPak Course Walk] [COTH Course Walk Gallery] [Horse & Hound Gallery] [Course Map JPG] [Weather]

Riders size up the course: Mary King says, “It’s fantastically built with wonderful ground. It’s going to be a great challenge of horsemanship; a test of speed and agility. The fences aren’t hugely built but the time will be difficult – the speed will make the mistakes.” [Horsetalk]

Horse & Country Video: Sharon Hunt and Francis Whittington’s Greenwich commentary. [H&C]

International charity World Horse Welfare will be on-site at Greenwich today, working alongside officials to ensure proper horsecare, observing results to help plan future competitions.  [Fran Jurga’s Olympic Blog]

SmartPak takes us under the Dressage Day 2 stands: “We’re pretty dedicated, but the loud ‘crack’ of lightning was enough to send us into the bowels of the bleachers along with a couple thousand of our closest friends. Well, maybe not ALL friends. Once the torrential rain started to come through the structure one woman was intent on occupying the exact spot I was standing and I was happy to have a number of years of competitive ice hockey experience as I tried to defend my space!” [SmartPak]

An Eventful dressage day, indeed: “Niklas Lindback and Mister Pooh (that’s the name of his horse, by the way, but I have a feeling it might be the way he was feeling after his test) were circling the arena but the Ground Jury decided to halt proceedings while the storm passed. Ten minutes later he recommenced, followed by Andrew Nicholson riding Nereo who obviously had also been delayed and is NOT a happy man. Rumour has it that security has been assigned to the Ground Jury …” [An Eventful Life]

Horse & Hound Eventing Editor Pippa Roome’s Michael Jung surprise: “We knew that being off the pace in the dressage might be Michael’s major concern in his bid to add the Olympic title to his world and European ones… but I certainly never expected him to be fourth out of five Germans in the first phase. But when Michael and Sam made two mistakes in their test and Dirk Schrade excelled himself, that’s what happened. Can he win it from here? Eleventh sounds quite a long way back, but he’s only 2.5pen off the leader and with a tight cross-country time expected and two rounds of showjumping, don’t rule him out.” [Horse & Hound]

The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon has obviously never seen us on cross-country day: “There is a giant hush in place over the Greenwich Park arena, so that one doesn’t spook the horses. But also, I think, because being quiet is very polite, and the people here are most definitely the polite types. They are gingham of shirt and glossy of mane and at least five of them I stop to talk to had come all the way from Sloane Square, which, as they were keen to point out, is not even on the same tube line as Greenwich. Never mind. At least there are champagne and seafood stalls to reward them for their journey (here at the equestrian venue, there is not a McDonald’s Golden Arch in sight).” [Telegraph]

If you find yourself with some downtime today—and I know, you won’t—I suggest a look at the FEI Olympic Bio database John linked to yesterday, a babelfish-like web-oracle through which not only words, but also ideas and appearances are transmogrified—usually for the better. By this fortuity we learn that William Fox-Pitt’s nickname is “Captain Sensible,” Ingrid Klimke “first had contact with horses in 1973,” Chris Burton “polishes his boots rigorously” when nervous, and Tim Lips and Jock Paget have used the same barber. [FEI Bios]

Found on Facebook: Magical post from Michael Pollard, including raddled critique of ladies’ fashion at London’s Ministry of Sound, forenoon sprint (after the previous night’s “bit too much free champagne” and subsequent “hours of drinking water”) to catch Zara’s test, and examination of US dressage in the context of top German, Aussie and British riders, whose accuracy he terms “surgical.” [Pollard Eventing Facebook]

Best of the Blogs: “You really couldn’t make this stuff up. Day 2 of Dressage for the London 2012 Olympic Games Eventing at Greenwich Park has been nothing short of inspirational, surprising and full of stories that will make this competition the most interesting of recent times.” [Talking Horse]

SmartPak’s Course Walk with Allison Springer:

Sunday Social Media Roundup

Lee Lee Jones: Day two of the dressage #greyskies besides that the stadium couldn’t be more beautiful !

Joanie Morris: Twizzel and Sara all braided, Arden Wildasin sewing on numbers @ColemanEventing.

Nina Ligon: Detailed schedule for the next 20 minutes tattooed on @NishaLigon ‘s arm so none will forget:

Equestrian Australia: Lucinda @TeamFredericks speaks to the media after performing her Dressage test. Australia now sitting in 2nd behind GER

Francis Whittington: Now I have seen it all. At least she is dry!:

Fox-Pitt Eventing: Some of Team F-P have made it to London.Flags are out & we are ready to cheer! Come on William, come on Lion! #eventinglive #London2012

Vision of the Horse: The Princess Royal and Duke of Edinburgh watch Zara Phillips’ test:

Will Coleman: The Twiz put in a solid effort today – he handled the main arena like a champ. I left a few points on the table but we don’t get second chances in there. Tomorrow’s cross-country course is all about getting the time, the old horse feels great. Thanks to everyone who has made this possible especially Twizzel’s owner Jim Wildasin, who has always believed in this horse. We’ve got our running shoes ready.

SmartPaker Sarah: That’s one way to stay dry:

Monty White: GERs & AUSs all over this competition so far, but the lovely Apollo is today’s horse to take home. There’ll be some offers for him!

Samantha Clark: Beautifully ridden test from Mark Todd, thats what wins multiple gold medals, tears from support crew, huge cheers

PRO Event Riders: Team USA Chef d’Equipe Captain Mark Phillips walking the course with Tiana Coudray #London2012 #eventinglive:

John Kyle: Dirk Schrade trains Yoshi, Michael Jung trains Kenki Sato and Angela Tucker is involved in team structure.

FEI: Some of the fans from Japan, standing on their feet in Greenwich today…. fantastic 🙂 this is the wonderful thing about the Olympics….:

Camilla Spiers: What an amazing little (big) man! Did an awesome test today! The expectations were high so it’s great that we could produce it! Jiffys trot work was incredible! Getting a good nights sleep now for the cross country tomorrow. I’m out at 3.46pm

ProEquest: First London 2012 press conference, done and done. @ London 2012 Equestrian Venue:

Saturday Social Media Roundup

Tiana Coudray on Jatial, Inc.’s Ringwood Magister via SmartPak.

USEA: Congratulations to Boyd, Karen and Tiana. Wonderful day today. And what about Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin and Juice, perfect pair! Carl Bouckaert and Ronald Zabala-Goetschel rode lovely tests. Good luck to our riders tomorrow.

FEI: Mary King riding Imperial Cavalier for TeamGB (Kit Houghton Photo):

Team GBR: A tearful Mary King “This was close to his best score and to do it in this atmosphere is amazing. I’m chuffed to bits”

Eventing NZ: Wow, lots of turns and twists; great to see it on the map like this!:

Joanie Morris: The view from USA house, that’s the water jump @SmartPak

B.W. Furlong & Associates: Keeping the sense of humor at Olympic Games is always important…:

Samantha Clark: Is that Canadian reserve rider Shandiss on BBC brandishing a huge red/white flag in the stands and showing off her moves like Jagger?!

Rachel Wakefield: @aliceplunkett with her hubby and Nicola Wilson #eventinglive:

SmartPaker Sarah: #olympicfail – every vendor at Greenwich Park has run out of food. We’re in line for a place that’s rumored to have Pringles left. #sohungry

Will Coleman: iPads in action! With dressage rider Adrienne Lyle in the athletes cafeteria:

SmartPaker Sarah: We caught up with @allisonspringer over the lunch break. As ususl, she was not shy about showing her dressage spirit!

Nina Ligon: Water jump seems to be the favorite picnic spot on dressage day:

Fran Jurga: Wrapup: In awe of Germany: 2 scores under 40 + the only scores under 40. Klimke + Schrade are 1-2 after Day 1 of eventing dressage in London

Keith Brady: Picture of Team Germany’s Andreas Dibowski visiting Butts Leon, his Beijing Team Gold medal winning partner:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

via @NBCOlympics.

I’ve seen the Arctic Monkeys four times in recent history and pilgrimaged to Riddle and McGonagall’s Greyfriar graves; all my life I’ve been “Abby, like The Road,” though I used to wonder whether Lucy wasn’t superior. So I am not unbiased…

But to the many social media Olympic Opening Ceremony detractors I sanguinely say YOU’RE WRONG, and to Danny Boyle I say MASSIVE CHEERS for your visionary show, your troops of Sergeant Peppers, your Queen’s corgis, your David Beckham-captained torch boat, all of which have made me even more excited (if that were possible) to watch Boyd and Otis trailblaze the centerline at 5am ET today.

Tune in early & often for our Dressage Day 1 coverage, beginning shortly.

North American Dressage Times Today:

Boyd Martin & Otis Barbotiere (USA) — 10:00am local (5am ET)
Michelle Mueller & Amistad (CAN) — 10:40am local (5:40am ET)
Karen O’Connor & Mr. Medicott (USA) — 12:08pm local (7:08am ET)
Hawley Bennett-Awad & Gin & Juice (CAN) — 1:02pm local (8:02am ET)
Tiana Coudray & Ringwood Magister (USA) — 3:18pm local (10:18am ET)
Peter Barry & Kilrodan Abbott (CAN) — 4:12pm local (11:12am ET)

Will Coleman & Twizzel (USA) — 11:20am local (6:20am ET)
Jessica Phoenix & Exponential (CAN) — 12:00pm local (7:00am ET)
Phillip Dutton & Mystery Whisper (USA) — 2:38pm (9:38am ET)
Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master (CAN) — 15:18pm local (10:18am ET)

[Full Olympic Dressage Times]

US Weekend Events:

Cobblestone Farms HT: [Website] [Ride Times]
USPC National Championship:  [Website] [Live Scores]
Stoneleigh-Burnham Summer HT: [Website] [Live Scores]
Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials:  [Website] [Live Scores]
Moqui Meadows H.T.: [Live Scores]

FEI’s examination of Olympic viewing options around the world. [FEI]

At yesterday’s first horse inspection, four initially held horses passed upon reinspection; all 85 horses move on to dressage. Photos & Recaps: [COTH] [NBC]

Zara Phillips’ mount High Kingdom, “renowned for looking unenthusiastic” during inspections, was accepted after an additional, immediate re-jog. [Telegraph]

From reserves to GB Olympic pathfinders: Nicola Wilson & Opposition Buzz. [Horse & Country]

FEI’s Louise Parkes on Greenwich cross-country: “By the time horses reach the 1.45m high and almost 2.00m wide Royal Herb Garden hedge oxer at fence four they will be on the gallop, and the questions come up at a relentless rate all the way around the track.  One of the most spectacular obstacles is The Moon, built at the top of a steep downhill run with a sensational view across the London skyline.” [FEI]

COTH’s cross-country course walk gallery, including decorative details and crazy Moon and Planet jumps, with insight from designer Sue Benson. [Photos]

USEF High Performance Communications Director Joanie Morris’ London blog: “It is really cool to wander around the Village, there are athletes everywhere and they are truly in all shapes and sizes. The British Jumping riders were kicking around there as tourists. Steffen, Jan, Tina and Adrienne are spending the night in the village after Opening Ceremonies and then will head to the Main Press Center tomorrow at 9 AM for a pre-competition press conference.” [USEF Blog]

From the New Yorker archives, a 1984 Olympic-origin investigation: “Eight hippic events are known, though one of them, the mule-cart race, was quickly dropped. The hippic events were popular and, when their fields were large, could clog the schedule of the Games. Callias, an Athenian pancratist, during one of the frequent alterations in the schedule of events, complained bitterly that numerous heats in the hippodrome had forced him to fight by moonlight—a poor setting, he contended, for a display of his talents.” [New Yorker]

Top of the Tweets: Nina Ligon: Off to the Opening Ceremony!

Best of the Blogs: The Davidsons are busy competing, coaching, breeding the next crop of Olympic event horses… [Bruce Davidson Eventing]

 The swanky SmartPak Greenwich abode (they’ve also been getting to know the locals):

Blogger Contest Round Two: Yvette Seger


Over the weekend we announced our Blogger Contest final four; now we’re bringing you their victorious Round 2 entries in individual installments.

Their Assignment: Though some would say three-day eventing has made too many Olympic concessions, becoming increasingly TV-friendly at the expense of the long format, a recent New York Times Op-Ed argued that equestrian sports are “drenched in privilege,” and “should be ditched” from the Olympic calendar. In your opinion, what’s the value of the Olympic stage in eventing? Will it last?

Here we’ve got the fourth and final Round 2 entry from Yvette Seger. To read Jenni Autry’s previously posted entry click here, Emily Daignault’s click here, and Lauren Nethery’s click here.

Each entry has been presented unedited for fairness’ sake. Thanks as always for reading, Eventing Nation. Please leave feedback in the comments section.


Bio: Age: Too old for Young Riders, but too young for the Masters division (36)

Background: Little. Blonde. Different.

Character-Defining Qualities: I’m originally from Cleveland, so I have this strange habit of checking to make sure bodies of water are not flammable. I like the color red, and bacon is my favorite food group.

Embarrassing Tidbits: I’m not really embarrassed by it, but I am known for having full on conversations with my horse on cross-country…conversations in which I throw my voice so that it sounds like he’s answering me. And my start box song is “Straight Outta Compton.”

Entry: Drenched in Privilege and Fly Spray: Reasons Why Eventing’s Detractors Should Buzz Off

When I returned to eventing after my nearly 9 year hiatus from all things horsey, I discovered that the sport and rules had changed. A lot. “What? No penalty zones?? ” “What’s up with this friggin’ armband?” “Aren’t SJ rails 5 penalties?” and “Oh, I’m REQUIRED to wear that vest now???” I learned that full-format 3-Day, in all its awesome glory, had died a painful death at the upper levels. That made me sad. But you know what? I didn’t do a full-format 3-day for the Roads & Tracks. Kind of did it for the Steeplechase (‘cuz it’s freakin’ BAD A**!), but the heart and soul of Eventing is – and always will be – Cross Country, so I guess I can be a little more at peace with the Olympic format. However, I will say that with Show Jumping being my worst phase, the thought of surviving one round just to go back and do it again makes me a little ill. But I digress.