Abby Powell
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Abby Powell


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About Abby Powell

Abby Powell is a native of Northeastern Massachusetts who splits her time between commuting into Boston for work and caring for and riding her rescue Mustang x Arab mare, Maggie.

Latest Articles Written

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Dangerous! Photo via Practical Horseman Magazine on Facebook. Dangerous! Photo via Practical Horseman Magazine on Facebook.

I hope everyone in Eventing Nation is ready for a thrilling next few weeks. This is one of the most exciting times of the year, I think. The obvious reason being that the Best Weekend All Year is just a short seven days away at this point (but who’s counting?) Then once it’s over and you’re having full on Rolex withdrawal, don’t worry – Badminton is just around the corner with your next four-star fix! So buckle up, EN, it’s time to go eventing!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Longleaf Pine H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Plantation Field April H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

River Glen Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Holly Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to Premiere “Champions Live!” Event

First-Person Perspectives from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover

Getting Ready for Rolex: By the Numbers – A Look at Conditioning and Prep-Work

‘Will only date four-star eventers’ — and other online dating profile blunders

What’s Behind Shipping Horses Overseas for Competition?

University of Kentucky Finishes First at FENCE Horse Trials

ICYMI: Allison Springer’s Top Mount Arthur Retires Due to Heart Condition

Saturday Video:

Can Micheal Jung and Fischerrocana FST make it three for three? We’ll find out soon enough! In the meantime, let’s take a look back at their foot-perfect XC run from last year:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Just a casual bareback and hack on a 4* eventer through the English countryside! Photo via Elisa Wallace on Facebook. Just a casual bareback and hack on a 4* eventer through the English countryside! Photo via Elisa Wallace on Facebook.

Yesterday my pony and I took our first XC jumps of the season and we were both pretty thrilled – it couldn’t have been a more perfect or beautiful day to get back out there after a long winter. She was raring to go too; I actually don’t think I can recall a time where she was stronger in the bridle than she was yesterday. Despite being a little strong and maybe not being at her most maneuverable, it was a pretty cool feeling to be able to tell just how much she was enjoying running and jumping outside again! You and me both, pony.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Fair Hill CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Ocala CCI & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Twin Rivers CCI, CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Saturday Links:

Fair Hill International Names Ann Haller Competition Manager

University of Alabama Earns First Collegiate Victory at Chattahoochee Hills

Nine things you need to know about this year’s Badminton cross-country course

Rescues Will Compete to Help Horses on ‘Help a Horse’ Day

Study seeks to identify priorities for future research into Cushing’s disease

Meet Four First-Timers at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

Olympic medallist says final farewell to top hat

Get Close & Personal with The Heels Down Magazine 5* Rolex Experience to Benefit Young Riders

Saturday Video:

What do you get when you cross a event horse with a chinchilla? Wonder no more:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Nope, not exactly the best footing... Photo via TSAS Combined Test Committee. Nope, not exactly the best footing... Photo via TSAS Combined Test Committee.

Rain, rain, go away…because I’d really like to be riding somewhere besides the indoor today! My first event of the season, a two-phase hosted by the University of New Hampshire (UNH), was supposed to be this weekend, but it unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the condition of the grounds. It’s a bummer, but it’s definitely a wise call. We had so much rain and snowmelt over the past week and a half that the arenas are in no condition to be ridden on at the moment! Here’s hoping that ground dries up a bit before UNH’s recognized horse trials – the official start of the Area 1 season – in a couple weeks!

U.S. Weekend Action:

The Fork CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

CDCTA Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Pine Hill Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Spring Bay H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Saturday Links:

New Cross-Country Course to be Debuted at Tryon International for the Fork Horse Trials

Befriending the Competition: How Top Riders Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends

Modifying Muscle Patterns to Build a Better Equine Athlete

Twenty Questions With British Eventer Emily King

Outcry over three-legged pony fitted with prosthetic limb

How to Teach a Horse to Cross Water

Building Courses And Moving Mountains At The Fork CIC***

Saturday Video:

Take a quick ride around the Training course at The Fork with Doug Payne and Mitchel:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Food trucks plus eventing? YES PLEASE. Photo by @sweetd67 on Instagram. Food trucks plus eventing? YES PLEASE. Photo by @sweetd67 on Instagram.

Twenty years ago today an April Fool’s Day blizzard dumped snow up the East Coast from Maryland to Maine. My region, Eastern Massachusetts, got the worst of it with a whopping 34 inches. I remember it well because my school district declared a very rare triple snow day! That storm was no joke (pun absolutely intended).

Today on April 1 it isn’t really looking very spring-like out my window, but I guess I should at least be grateful that there isn’t a full blown blizzard right now. The whole snow day thing is really great as a kid, but now I’m just itching for show season to start. I’m super jealous of everyone in areas whose season has already started — and I’m particularly envious of those at Galway Downs right now with that gorgeous California scenery, lovely California weather, and, oh, FOOD TRUCKS.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Morven Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]  [Live Scores]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Galway Downs CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores] [Live Stream]

Saturday Links:

Fun, focus and footwork: must-have cross-country riding advice from Lucinda Green

U.S. Athletes Share Their Superstitions Ahead of FEI World Cup™ Finals

‘I hope it makes him proud’: four-star rider takes on fundraiser in memory of fiancé

Springtime: Equestrian Expectation vs. Reality

Lessons with Silva Martin

Special Shirt, Girth Help Evaluate Horse, Human Interaction

Saturday Video:

Here’s a hearty dose of ‘Insanity in the Middle’ for you.  This drop known as the “Bridge” was an element on course at the CNC 1* in Mafra, Portugal last weekend.

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Lee Lee Jones and Evie Dutton cheer on Carolina International competitors from afar via livestream. #LeeLeeStrong. Photo via Phillip Dutton Eventing on Facebook. Lee Lee Jones and Evie Dutton cheer on Carolina International competitors from afar via livestream. #LeeLeeStrong. Photo via Phillip Dutton Eventing on Facebook.

It’s another busy day at Carolina International! The actions starts early as the first horse leaves the start box at 8:00 AM sharp for the Open Intermediate division, but for those of us not on the grounds we can catch the live stream of the CIC2* division starting at 10:00 AM EST, followed by the CIC3* division at 1:00 PM.  And as always, EN will be keeping you up-to-date with more in-depth coverage from the event. Keep it locked here!

Weekend Action:

Carolina International CIC and H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Stream] [Schedule] [Orders of Go] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Twitter] [EN’s Instagram]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T.: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

ICYMI: Carolina International CIC3* Cross Country Course Walk

6 reasons it’s okay to be a little bit nervous when you go eventing (you’re not alone)

Horsepeople At 15 And At 30

Sport horse science: Inside a high-tech equine lab

Saturday Video:

Here’s a different perspective on dressage! Good for checking geometry, no?

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Happy St. Patrick's  Day from Marley, Tim, and Senan Bourke! Photo via Bourke Eventing on Facebook.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Marley, Tim, and Senan Bourke! Photo via Bourke Eventing on Facebook.

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone and I still have yet to have a green beer, can you believe that? I did wear green though, albeit not on purpose — I just have a lot of green in my wardrobe, OK? It’s one of my favorite colors, so there’s a high probability on any given day that I’ll be wearing it. Green is only my second favorite color to blue, and bright royal blue is my cross country color. Yes, a single color. I have yet to find a way to satisfactorily incorporate both blue and green into my XC wardrobe (#eventerproblems), so if anyone has any ideas hit me up!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Pine Top Spring H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Exmoor H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Stable View H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

MeadowCreek Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Copper Meadows H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/RideTimes/Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

First 2017 Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards Earned at Pine Top Farm

An Equestrian in the Weight Room

Study: Post-Exercise Snacks Benefit Horses

‘I’m glad I invested in safety equipment’: rider’s face trampled in gallops fall

Dealing with Dressage Test Anxiety

Saturday Video:

Speaking of Ireland, and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, check out this promo video for Tattersalls International Horse Trails & Country Fair 2017 coming up in just a few short months!

Saturday Links from Tipperary

'My Lucky Day', one of William Fox-Pitt's rides at Tweseldown earlier this week, seems to have gotten wind of this whole 'My Lucky Day', one of William Fox-Pitt's rides at Tweseldown earlier this week, seems to have gotten wind of this whole "Spring Forward" thing. Photo via Gary Horner on Facebook.

It’s nearly here – that magical time of the year when we start to get a little extra daylight at the tail end of the day. For equestrians like myself who do the majority of their riding in the evening, the beginning of Daylight Saving Time is basically a holiday. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead before you go to bed tonight! And if you aren’t lucky enough to be catching all the action at Red Hills International in person, don’t forget check out EN’s coverage right here.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Southern Pines H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Red Hills International CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop March II H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Australian Olympian Clayton Fredericks shining at Red Hills

Consider yourself an eventing geek? Put yourself to the test with Horse & Hound’s Mark Todd quiz

Top Tips for Helmet Care

19 Signs You’re an Incurable Eventing Nut

Kentucky Horse Park Looks Toward Correcting Financial Mismanagement After Audit

Calming a Nervous Horse with Lateral Movements

Saturday Video:

Get pumped for XC day with this montage of last year’s 3* water complex at Red Hills from RNS Videomedia:

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Carrots from adoring fans! Photo via Charlotte Collier on Instagram. Carrots from adoring fans! Photo via Charlotte Collier on Instagram.

As soon as I flip the calendar from February to March, my brain immediately goes into horse show planning mode. During the winter I don’t dare let myself think too seriously about an upcoming show season schedule for fear that it will make the cold months feel that much longer. But once March rolls around I tell myself that it’s completely permissible to start marking up my calendar with every event that I think I might want to hit.

Up here in Area I I’ll still have to wait until the end of April for the recognized events to start, so I’ll have to wait a while longer still to actually leave the start box, but I do love putting pen to paper and scheming about the spring and summer months. It’s funny how just getting through February makes the upcoming season that much more tangible!

U.S. Weekend Action:

Full Gallop March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

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

Saturday Links:

USEA Intercollegiate Championship Returns to Virginia Horse Trials in May

Can Sport Horse and Racehorse Practice Be Ethical?

The Importance of Riding in a Stretching Position

Fearful of a Runway? Gallop to Confidence: Tips for Improving your Galloping Experience

Balancing the Horse: A Closer Look at Posture, Part I and Part II

Best of Blogs: Riding and the ‘R-Factor’

Saturday Video:

Take a ride around yesterday’s Intermediate XC course at Rocking Horse with Lainey Asker and Flagmount’s Spartan:


10 Questions with Selena O’Hanlon, Presented by Omega Alpha

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry. Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Elite eventer Selena O’Hanlon is an established upper-level competitor, having represented Canada at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games in years past.

She and her mother, Morag O’Hanlon, an accomplished eventer in her own right, operate O’Hanlon Eventing at Balsam Hall in Kingston, Ontario where the OHE team keeps a busy training, teaching, and boarding business running year-round. This time of year, however, Selena can be found getting a jump on the season at Sweet Dixie South, a premier base for eventers in Ocala, Florida.

Selena was on the cusp of competing at her second Olympics last year, this time with Foxwood High, a 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned by John and Judy Rumble, but a rollercoaster of a selection process ended with them ultimately not making the trip to Rio.

Now after a quiet fall season, Selena is getting back into the swing of things with Foxwood High as well as working on bringing along some younger prospects. She was very kind to take some time to catch up with EN and answer a few questions between her busy training schedule.

EN: What are your plans for Foxwood High (Woody) this year?

Selena: “We’ll do a few events this spring to get us ramped up for Rolex in April. We had a great start to the season finishing fifth in the Advanced combined test at Ocala with a clear jumping round. I knocked some rust off and hope to keep climbing the leaderboard.

“Then at Rocking Horse the following week Woody was a rockstar in the Advanced B division. We broke our breast plate clip where it attaches to girth on the first water. I had to reach down and grab it at the gallop then carry it in my right hand for fear of it hitting him in the eye. Every time we did a big drop I had to let it go and grab it again after which gave us some time faults. Looking forward to Red Hills next.”

EN: Do you currently have any up-and-coming young horses that you’re excited about?

Selena: “I have a 5-year-old old OTTB called Benny (AKA Plenty of Benny). He is a lovely gentle giant who loves to snuggle and gives excellent head cuddles. He is going to be my next super star!”

EN: After the complications surrounding the naming of the Canadian Olympic Team last year, how have you regrouped and moved forward after ultimately not making the trip to Rio?

Selena: “Woody’s owners, John and Judy Rumble, have been very understanding and supportive during that difficult time. This year his owners and I will make the decisions surrounding his program and what events he will run leading up to Rolex.”

Selena O'Hanlon and A First Romance before the fall at The Royal. Photo courtesy of Alec Thayer.

Selena O’Hanlon and A First Romance at The Royal. Photo courtesy of Alec Thayer.

EN: You’ve participated in the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair multiple times now. What’s the most challenging thing about that event? What’s the most fun thing about it?

Selena: “The challenge is competing so late at night, indoors with lots of lights and noise on a horse you don’t normally ride. The fun is seeing my fellow teammates and friends and having everyone coming out to cheer. And also the great food!”

EN: Your mom is quite an accomplished eventer herself and you two work together closely to operate O’Hanlon Eventing. What is one of the biggest lessons she’s taught you as an rider and trainer?

Selena: “To listen to each horse, ride with your mind, and that patience is the only way forward.”

EN: The weather in Ocala is pretty hard to beat, but what’s something you miss about Canada while you’re in down south over the winter?

Selena: “My mum! And I also miss working out at the Kingston Athletic Therapy Centre with a trainer and other top athletes who are generously sponsored by KATC and also being treated by their wonderful therapists/osteopaths.”

EN: During the off-season, what are some of your favorite things to fine-tune or work on to prep for the upcoming competition season?

Selena: “When riding in our indoor I like to focus on straightness using the mirrors. I also like to go back to the basics with gymnastics and foot work and take some pressure off the horses with smaller fences and No Stirrups November.”

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Jenni Autry.

EN: What’s your most memorable competition moment so far?

Selena: “I have two: one is winning the team silver medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the other is taking two horses, Bellaney Rock and Foxwood High, to Rolex in 2014.”

EN: If you could ride any famous event horse — past or present — what horse would you choose and why?

Selena: “Eagle Lion would be amazing since I knew him well and have looked after him for my long-time friend and coach Bruce Davidson. Eagle had muscles on his muscles; he was a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. He was brave and was the perfect size for excellent maneuverability, plus he was an easy keeper and a beautiful bay with kind eyes and a cheeky personality on occasion. I followed his career and had all his posters (signed no less by the godfather of eventing himself). A legend through and through!”

EN: Which Omega Alpha product is your favorite and why?

Selena: “I would say RegenerEQ because I have seen it make huge transformations in all different types of horses — all the way from my 5-year-old OTTB Rumshaker who needed to relax, bulk up, and recuperate after leaving the track, to Foxwood High who needs it to help him through long trips all over the world for various championships. It helps in so many ways with stress, ulcers, weight, muscle, tissue restoration, and even their coats improve.

Saturday Links from Tipperary

Tank tops and shorts while fence judging in February? Sign me up!  Photo via Pine Top Eventing on Facebook. Tank tops and shorts while fence judging in February? Sign me up! Photo via Pine Top Eventing on Facebook.

It seems that much of the East Coast has been getting spoiled with unseasonably warm weather over the past few days, and Thomson, Georgia, where this weekend’s biggest event at Pine Top Farm is taking place is no exception. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen already took home top honors in the CIC3*, but there’s still a weekend of fun ahead for the Prelim through Advanced divisions. Get out there and enjoy the weather, everyone!

If you’re in Ocala on Monday or Tuesday, auditors are welcome at the Canadian High Performance clinic with jumping genius George Morris and dressage master Christilot Boylen at Wentworth Farm. Top names like Jessica Phoenix, Selena O’Hanlon, Kyle Carter, Colleen Loach, Lesley Grant-Law, Lisa Marie Fergusson, Diana Burnett, Jessica Payne and Tik Maynard will be riding. The clinic runs 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. both days at 10690 NW 125th S., Reddick, FL 32686.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Pine Top Advanced CIC & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Three Lakes February H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop March H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Angela Bowles on Novelle: The Most Unlikely Horse Of A Lifetime

4 Ways Equestrians Totally Jump the Gun on False Spring

How to stay focused on competition day — even when things go wrong

Celebrating The Sport At Historic Pine Top Farm

Miss anything from the USEA ICP/FEH/YEH symposium? Here’s the recap

Female Equestrians Needed for Study on Breast Health

Badminton’s new course builder reveals major changes

Saturday Video:

Flashback to Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights’ winning XC run at the inaugural Pine Top CIC3* last year:

Partners of the Park Help Eventing Thrive in Ocala

Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

If you’re lucky enough to have migrated down to Ocala, Florida for the winter then you’re likely familiar with the Florida Horse Park (FHP). The 500 acres in the Florida Greenway are home to various equestrian events year-round including four USEA-sanctioned events and a multitude of schooling shows and clinics.

While the headlining item each year for eventing-enthusiasts may be the Ocala International Three-Day Festival of Eventing, which hosts divisions up to CCI2* in addition to combined tests up to Advanced, this event and others at the park may not be possible today if it were not for the hard work and dedication of a self-described motley crew of equestrian enthusiasts who call themselves the Partners of the Park (POP).

While initially established in 1997, the FHP emerged onto the eventing scene in 2005 hosting its first horse trials in the fall of that year over a cross country course designed by David O’Connor. The park further established itself as a world-class venue in the spring of 2006 by holding its first international three-day event. But the initial prosperity of the park was cut short as the state of Florida reallocated its finances during the nationwide economic recession of the late 2000s .

The future of the park hung by a thread without the state funding it depended on and found itself in a $1 million debt by 2009. It seemed that the final nail in the coffin was delivered when the Horse Park license plate project was unexpectedly shot down at the final step before approval. The license plates were estimated to bring in $250,000 annually and the process had already cost $100,000 that the park couldn’t afford to lose.

Cross country jumps after some end-of-season freshening up. Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

Cross country jumps after some end-of-season freshening up. Photo courtesy of POP on Facebook.

In May of that year the Horse Park’s Board of Directors met to discuss the remaining 2009 season as well as the long-term future of the horse park. As a result of the financial difficulties that the park was experiencing, the Board was forced to lay off key FHP staff and discussed cancelling many of the events scheduled to take place at the park that year. The public was invited to attend that board meeting to offer their opinions on the future of the park and as luck would have it, several members of the community — Simone Cormier, Charlie Hicks and Jen Holling — who would end up changing the future of the park were present at that fateful meeting.

As the board deliberated cancelling an upcoming schooling three-phase which was part of a season-long series of schooling events, Simone, Charlie and Jen came up with a plan. They recognized the asset that schooling shows can be and realized that with the park’s current financial situation, what it desperately needed was money supporting its infrastructure.

With a little convincing, and the help of Lesli Cohen, the FHP volunteer coordinator at the time, and Damian Guthrie, local show jumper and FHP treasurer, they reached a deal with the Executive Director: The three of them would completely manage and run the schooling events. Half of the profits generated by the schooling shows would be given back to FHP management and the other half would be used at the trio’s discretion and funneled back into the park’s infrastructure wherever they determined it was needed the most. The Partners of the Park was born.

Simone, Charlie and Jen have been running the POP schooling events ever since and each of these three musketeers has a unique set of talents and backgrounds that they bring to the table. Simone is an industrial engineer by trade and her organization and planning experience gave her a leg up on the organization of events and acting as show secretary. Charlie is a former Chief of Police who is both great at people management and has a knack for cross country jump building.

Charlie and Simone are both Massachusetts transplants and longtime friends, and they met Jen at that momentous Board of Directors meeting. A three-star level eventer herself, Jen brings a plethora of equine experience and eventing know-how.

“We formed a friendship and got together and said, ‘What more can we do?’ That’s how we started POP,” said Charlie.

Charlie, Simone, Steve (former FHP Facilities Manager) and Jenn in 2010. Photo courtesy of Simone Cormier.

Charlie, Simone, Steve (former FHP Facilities Manager) and Jenn in 2010. Photo courtesy of Simone Cormier.

Charlie estimates that in the nearly eight years that the Partners have facilitated the schooling events they have contributed over $750,000 in cash and infrastructure to the park. Over the years they have kept fields mowed, purchased new equipment such as a water truck and ground aerators, repaired old jumps and built new ones, and paid for salaries when needed. Most recently they commissioned 19 new jumps built by Jay Hambly and Tommy Neneman and have a new water complex under construction.

While POP mainly features eventing, the FHP itself hosts a vast assortment of equine events and more throughout the year, all of which have benefitted in some way form the support that POP has generated. “It takes all the equestrians disciplines to make the venue successful,” said Charlie.

“We have dressage riders, eventers, and jumpers all coming together to use what the park has to offer. While our base clientele has always been eventers,” Jen said. “I see that our events have opened up the horse park to a larger community. With the growth of the park amenities alongside our own growing show clientele I see this trend continuing into the future.”

POP started out just by hosting a monthly three-phase, but has now grown to include additional schooling opportunities as well. A Saturday cross country schooling day now precedes each three-phase on Sunday, offering competitors the chance to familiarize themselves and their horses with the types of obstacles they might encounter beforehand. Additionally, at each three-phase one can ‘mix-and-match’ phases such that they can choose to compete in any one, two, or all three of the phases that day. Finally, from January to March on ‘Winter Wednesdays’ POP operates a jumper show and dressage fix-a-test clinics and opens up cross country schooling.

“We want everyone to come and have a great school so that they can go off the recognized shows and be safe and confident,” Simone said.

Though POP events mainly focus on the lower-levels, there is still something for everyone. Dressage and stadium can be ridden at a higher level and a few professionals even include the March or April schooling shows in their preparations for Rolex Kentucky. Throughout the year you may also be able to find various upper-level riders taking their young horses out for some low-key show mileage.

Schooling show entire fees buy brand new stadium rails! Photo via POP on Facebook.

Schooling show entire fees buy brand new stadium rails! Photo via POP on Facebook.

“We started POP as a short term solution for the horse park but in retrospect we actually solved a long term problem in the horse community,” said Jen. “We make available a facility that helps professionals economically school young horses and prepare their top partners and we allow amateurs to compete in an affordable and and educational atmosphere where we are here to help.”

“The wonderful thing about running schooling shows is that we have such a culture of eventers and equestrians — from the people just getting started to the people that have been representing different countries internationally,” Charlie added. “Everyone intermingles and comes together.”

The Partners have seen steady growth in the attendance at their events over the years, thanks in part to their hard work and dedication to keeping the events running and the awareness of them being spread by word of mouth. Additionally, Charlie has observed that with each year there seems to be more folks coming from out of state or up from Wellington: “This place is like magnet and its just growing. The land itself is very suitable for the equine industry.”

Even with the recent growth the area has seen, there’s still room to expand at the FHP. “If you’ve ever had the opportunity to step foot on the park and see the 500 acres there you know that there’s a lot that could be accomplished,” said Charlie. Recent growth in the greater Ocala area has benefitted the Horse Park as well, the new Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event has brought more riders and healthy competition to Marion County.

While it’s these three folks — Simone, Jen and Charlie — who form the organizational backbone at the heart of the Partners of the Park, there are many more boots-on-the-ground volunteers that make the events each week possible. “A lot of the volunteers working with us have been helping us out since the beginning and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” said Charlie. “It’s all folks interested in putting their shoulders together and seeing what we could do to make the park successful.”

Having now hosted the park’s schooling events for eight years, Simone, Jen and Charlie are ready to take a bit of a back seat. “At this point we would love to just maybe take a step back and be there for hands on help,” said Simone.

Charlie puts the finishing touches on a key-hole obstacle. Photo via POP on Facebook.

Charlie puts the finishing touches on a keyhole fence. Photo via POP on Facebook.

The trio has the organization and running of the events down to a science and can easily help the next generation of park facility staff learn the ropes, but they have yet to hand over the reins of the organizational responsibilities of POP due to the sometimes quick turnover of park facilities staff.

“The challenge has been to work with the park’s administration and get a pliable business plan to keep the place successful,” said Charlie, who now sits on the Board of Directors as Vice-Chair. “We have that relationship now and the direction is very positive.”

“This is the future. Schooling shows are where everybody starts off. These are the people that could be up at the top of the sport in another four or five years. If we can make it affordable and give them a good experience then they’re going to stick with it.”

From Pony Camp to Two-Star: Meet Zoe Crawford of the USEF Eventing 25 List

Earlier this week we met Cornelia Dorr, one of two first-timers named to the 2017 Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete Program. Today we meet the next rider, Zoe Crawford. Many thanks to JJ Sillman for sharing her photos of Zoe!

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

At the tender age of 1, Zoe Crawford’s mother remembers her little girl pitching a fit when it was time to get off a merry-go-round. “Of course I don’t remember that,” Zoe said, “but she says that was my first introduction to horses.” Something similar happened the next year on a pony ride at a local fair. “I kept wanting to go again and again.”

Horses have been a lifelong love for the now 21-year-old Zoe Crawford, whose passion has taken her all the way to the CCI2* level and being named to the 2017 USEF Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete program.

Zoe started taking riding lessons at the age of 6 and began eventing after high school. Living inside the city of Boston didn’t make eventing the most easily accessible equestrian discipline, but it’s fitting that Zoe’s plethora of other other equestrian experiences led her to eventing.

Her family found a barn just outside of the city in the Blue Hills area that she and her parents, who both also ride, could go for trail rides. “The ring would freeze over in the winter and there was no indoor, so I would spend the whole winter riding through the snowy hills,” Zoe recounted. “It was like a winter wonderland out there.”

Her family spent their summers at a cabin in a small town in New Hampshire, and Zoe attended camp at a nearby hunter/jumper barn run by Jenny Williams, whose brother, George Williams, is president of the USDF.

“Jenny was really incredible at making learning to ride fun,” Zoe said. “Although her barn mostly did hunter/jumper, she really stressed understanding dressage and being able to ride over all terrain.”

Zoe credits riding under Jenny’s instruction during those summers with influencing her love of cross country. “During camp we would set up little cross country courses that included stacks of old tires and really anything we could get our hands on,” she said. “When it would rain a lot we would pretend the big puddles in the parking lot was a water complex.”

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe mostly competed in the jumpers throughout high school in addition to being a member of Norfolk Hunt Pony Club, where she got her first taste of eventing thanks to Jeanie Clarke, a frequent instructor within the local chapter. A fellow Massachusetts native, Jeanie based her teaching/training business in the Metrowest region of the state before moving permanently to Florida in 2012.

“I knew that Jeanie was a great teacher and I really enjoyed her style. As a high school senior I applied to college but knew that I wanted to take a gap year before attending, so I asked if I could be a working student and come down to Florida with her. I spent the next year with her in Ocala working and competing, and I’ve been training with her ever since,” Zoe said.

“I think that I wanted to start eventing because I loved the thrill and fun of going out on trail rides, but I also enjoyed learning dressage because of how it helped my show jumping. It was really something that I had always wanted to do but because of location wasn’t able to.”

Working for Jeanie not only immersed Zoe in the world of eventing but helped her to develop as horsewoman as well. “Jeanie takes no shortcuts and gives the horses the best care possible; she has really shown me that all the little things that you do to make the horses happy in the barn really pays off,” Zoe said. “The stable always has a relaxed atmosphere that I think is really beneficial to the horses’ mindsets. I have really learned from her that you can’t make any shortcuts in horse management or training.”

Zoe has been partnered with her mount K.E.C. Zara, a now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, for nearly five years. She was imported by Cormac Kennedy, who ran the barn outside of Boston where Zoe took riding lessons. Zoe recalled visiting the mare while still in quarantine and had an instant connection without even taking her out of the stall: “As soon as I saw her, I just knew that she was my next horse!”

Zara is a mare with a big personality and isn’t afraid to let Zoe know what she likes and dislikes. Though she can get a bit hot at shows, the mare loves cross country. “She is a beast on cross country,” Zoe said. “Nothing fazes her. The harder the course the more she eats it up.” Indeed, the pair’s USEA record is completely clear of cross country jumping faults.

Zoe and Zara completed their first CIC* in the fall of 2015 before making the move up to Intermediate the following January. After two top 10 finishes at Intermediate, they followed up those performances with finishes just outside the top 10 in two spring CIC2* events, followed by their CCI2* debut in April at the Ocala Horse Properties International Three-Day Festival of Eventing. Their 2016 season culminated in a fourth-place individual finish at NAJYRC in the CICY2* as they represented Areas III and IV.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Having made the trip out to Colorado, Zoe knew it was time to look to the next step in her eventing career and decided to apply to the USEF Emerging Athlete program. “Making Eventing 25 was one of my goals after getting to NAJYRC,” she said. “I wanted to apply because I want to know what it is like to really train at the top level and learn what it takes to represent the USA.”

Zoe is excited to gain a gamut of knowledge during the training sessions with USEF Developing Coach Leslie Law. “Since I have not been at this level for very long I hope to really fine-tune some of our skills. In addition to the riding aspect, I hope to learn a lot about managing upper-level horses through the lectures. I would especially like to learn about sponsorships, owners and what goes into being a top professional in this sport,” Zoe said.

“Additionally, I do not know very many people my age in eventing. Going to NAJYRC this past summer was really fun because I got to meet so many people around my age, and I am really excited to meet more people through Eventing 25.”

Zoe ultimately has her eye on the four-star level and believes that Zara is the horse to take her there. “I think she has the talent, scope and attitude for it,” she said.

Zoe hopes to produce more young horses to the upper levels and dreams of overseas competition someday. “Of course I would love to represent the U.S. one day,” she said. “Competing overseas has always been a dream of mine, and I would love to be able to compete at any of the big events in Europe.”

Go Zoe! Go Eventing!

Talent Spotted! Meet Cornelia Dorr of the 2017 USEF Eventing 25 List

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Among the 2017 Eventing 25 Program selected riders, 18-year-old Cornelia Dorr is a bit of a rookie. She is one of two riders named to the list who have never taken part in the USEF Emerging Athlete Eventing programs before and the only one who has never completed a CIC2* or CCI2*. Cornelia was talent spotted into the program having just come off a stellar 2016 season.

“I applied knowing I didn’t meet the qualification of having completed a CCI2* that year, but that it was possible to be talent spotted,” she said. “I didn’t think there was really a high chance at all of me getting it and I was really surprised!”

Cornelia was bitten by the horse bug as a youngster. “I was always that little girl that only talked about horses,” she said.

Though at first when she started begging her parents for riding lessons, she and her family lived just outside of New York City without a good lesson barn available nearby. That all changed when they moved to Hamilton, Massachusetts, a town with a rich equestrian heritage.

Once settled in Hamilton, Cornelia began riding ponies at a local lesson barn and a few years later, at the age of 10, she began riding under the tutelage of Babette Lenna at Gathering Farm and her interest turned to eventing specifically. “I never wanted to be confined to riding in an arena all the time,” she said.

Growing up primarily in Massachusetts and later attending a boarding high school in Maryland has allowed Cornelia to already accumulate a breadth of competition experience up and down the East Coast. Spring and fall seasons have been spent riding and training with Sharon White at Last Frontier Farm; most summers she traveled back home to New England and continued her training with Babette; and winters were spent in Aiken with Babette while still keeping up with school through the use of an online tutor.

Cornelia currently has two competition horses, the first of which, Sir Patico MH (“Hugo”), a now 11-year-old Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding, was acquired nearly six years ago and has carried her from Beginner Novice all the way through Preliminary during her high school years and the pair moved up to Intermediate this past October.

“Hugo’s heart is amazingly big and he would do anything for me,” Cornelia said. “He naturally wants to please and I think that’s what makes him so talented in my eyes. I didn’t have the upper-levels in mind when I bought him, but he has just kept stepping up to the plate.”

Cornelia Dorr and Sir Patico MH. Photo by Joan Davis/ Flatlandsfoto.

Cornelia Dorr and Sir Patico MH. Photo by Joan Davis/ Flatlandsfoto.

2016 was a big year for Cornelia and Hugo: the pair tackled their first CCI1* at the Ocala Horse Properties International 3-Day Festival of Eventing and were later named to the Area I NAJYRC CH-J* team. Their individual third place finish overall helped Area I to clinch the team gold medal.

“Young Riders has been my big goal since I started high school and decided I really wanted to continue with eventing,” said Cornelia. “It was amazing and I was so proud of everyone!”

“It’s cool to be a part of something larger than yourself like being on a team. Also to be able to pack and plan for something like that — where we had to travel all the way out to Colorado — was a great experience in and of itself.”

Now having graduated high school, Cornelia is taking a gap year to work for Sharon full-time and plans to attend Gettysburg College in the fall.

“I dedicated this year to finding out if I wanted to pursue a career as a professional rider and I’m pretty certain at this point that I want to make this my life and be a successful event rider with a string of upper-level horses and people supporting me.”

Cornelia’s second mount is Louis M, a 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding previously ridden through the CIC3* level by Pia Münker of Germany, and imported last summer to help Cornelia develop as a competitor and take her to the next level.

As thrilling as Cornelia’s 2016 spring and summer was, the fall proved no less exciting or rewarding. In her first competition on Louis, the pair took the top spot at the GMHA Festival of Eventing August Horse Trials in the JYOP division and they finished out the season with two other wins at Preliminary, a 13th place finish in the CIC1* at Plantation field, and finally a win in the CCI1* at The Virginia Horse Trials in October.

Additionally, Cornelia moved up to Intermediate with Hugo finishing as the top placed Young Rider in the Open Intermediate divisions at both the Maryland Horse Trials and then the Virginia Horse Trials in October.

Both Hugo and Louis have traveled down to Ocala with Cornelia ahead of this week’s Eventing 25 training camp. Cornelia will ride Louis in the sessions with Eventing Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law and then stay an additional week taking lessons from Leslie while riding Hugo.

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Cornelia Dorr and Louis M. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Since Louis is still a fairly new ride for Cornelia, she’s hoping that their time in the developing athlete training camp will help to improve their connection.

“Louis is more trained than me, so he’s teaching me a lot,” she said. “He has a very specific canter that he works best out of and right now I can’t always find that, so I’m especially hoping that during the training camp I’ll continue to work on finding the canter that I need on him.”

“I’m also looking forward to making connections with all the other young riders who will be there and who are planning to be in the sport for a while. In Young Riders I made a lot of friendships that I think I’ll carry for the rest of my life, so I’m looking forward to meeting more new people.”

Having achieved her goal of making her Area’s NAJYRC team and successfully competing, Cornelia is now making a new set of goals and looking to the future. She is looking to take Louis Intermediate under Sharon’s guidance once she makes it down to Florida as well, and the plan is to do a CIC2* with both Hugo and Louis in the early spring to prepare for the Jersey Fresh CCI2* later in the season. Cornelia is hoping to return to NAJYRC again this year, this time as a CCI2* competitor and ideally she’d finish out the season with both horses in the CCI2* at Fair Hill International.

With the upper-levels solidly in mind for the future, she’s eager to absorb as much as possible during the Eventing 25 camp, throughout the rest of her gap year, and beyond.

“I’m looking forward to the learning curve during the training session because I’m the most inexperienced of the bunch,” Cornelia said. “I hope I’m going to come out of the program having learned a lot in the four days.”

“So far I have been lucky to have the support of my parents for helping me follow this dream, and Babette for raising me as a rider and horsewoman, and Sharon for continuing my education. They’ve all helped get me to where I am today.”

Go Cornelia! Go Eventing!

Area I Virtual Team Challenge Promotes Community and Volunteering

Area I ARP member and VTC participant Kate Rakowski at Groton House Farm HT 2016. Photo by Abby Powell. Area I ARP member and VTC participant Kate Rakowski at Groton House Farm HT 2016. Photo by Abby Powell.

This past season, members of Area I’s Adult Riders Program (ARP) enjoyed a new way to get competitive and stay active in the eventing community regardless of whether they actually rode in an event. It all started when Suzanne Adams, Area I’s ARP Coordinator, organized the inaugural Virtual Team Challenge (VTC).

The Virtual Team Challenge allowed ARP members to earn points for their team by entering, placing and volunteering at USEA sanctioned horse trials. Non-competing ARP members who were active volunteers became just as much of an asset to their teams as members who placed at the top of the leaderboard at an event.

Suzanne got the idea for the VTC from other USEA Areas, including IV and VI, both of which have hosted similar competitions in the past. Her main goal was to find a way to include all ARP members regardless of how often they competed or even if they competed at all.

VTC participant Beth Libby volunteers at Millbrook. Photo courtesy of Beth Libby.

VTC participant Beth Libby volunteers at Millbrook. Photo courtesy of Beth Libby.

“The VTC program was added because we had active ARP members who, at some point during the year, had to stop competing. I kept kicking ideas around to all who would listen. How do you have a program that included everyone: riders, folks who weren’t competing for whatever reason and parents of Young Riders who wanted ways to be involved?” Suzanne said.

“I loved the idea of a virtual competition and wanted to expand it to involve non-rider competitors, which added the whole concept of volunteerism.”

Participants were randomly split into teams of seven prior to the first Area I event of the season, and Suzanne introduced the teams to each other via email and laid out the rules. Entering and completing an event secured 20 points for a team and placing in a division added between five and 40 additional points from eighth through first place, respectively.

A maximum amount of 60 points for first place could be earned through competing. Similarly, volunteering for a half day earned 30 points, while a full day earned 60 points. Competing in an event outside of Area I earned half the point value of an event within the area.

VTC participants who volunteered posted selfies to the Facebook group in order to earn points for their teams. Photo courtesy of Paula Colt.

VTC participants who volunteered posted selfies to the Facebook group in order to earn points for their teams. Photo courtesy of Paula Colt.

“The points were designed to treat a day of volunteering equally with winning first place,” Suzanne said. “I saw VTCers whose horses were out for the season step up and really push themselves for those volunteer points.”

One such participant was Jennifer Bagley, a member of the winning team, who had to retire her mare from eventing last year. Jennifer has been a USEA member for two decades and was glad to be able to have a way to still participate in her sport even while currently being sidelined from competing.

“It really helped me stay connected to the sport and feel like I was contributing to a team during a season when I wasn’t able to show,” Jennifer said.

At the beginning of the season, Suzanne set up a private Facebook group for participants that she used to announce which teams had members competing or volunteering prior to every event. After each event she posted the results and the current standings. The Facebook group turned out to be an amazing tool for keeping the participants engaged throughout the entirety of the season.

“Teams cheered each other on, posted pictures and video, and even trash-talked in good humor,” Suzanne said. “Each time a list of competitors and proposed volunteers was posted for each event, some folks actually arranged to meet up with each other.”

VTC participants posted fun pictures and stayed engaged throughout the competition via the Facebook group. Photo courtesy of Amy Wolfe.

VTC participants posted fun pictures and stayed engaged throughout the competition via the Facebook group. Photo courtesy of Amy Wolfe.

“Suzanne did a fantastic job with the scoring system and keeping tabs on what everyone was doing,” Jennifer said. “It was always fun to see who was competing and volunteering each weekend and to see results afterward. We all cheered each other on and commiserated with those who had a tough show. It created a really fun and supportive community with some sassy talk and a lot of laughs!”

The mutual support, sense of community and good-natured heckling within the VTC generated an extra layer of fun and friendship throughout the season. Top placing teams will be receiving prizes at the upcoming Area I Annual Meeting in January, as well as some additional ribbons to add to their collection accumulated throughout the season.

“It was the proverbial horse race to the finish,” Suzanne said, “and it was such a rich year of building community, friendly rivalry and promoting volunteerism amongst teams.”

Equine Management Training Center Graduates Shine in New Careers

Sam Burton Henley, Claudia Sadler, Rachel Petty and Suzanne Lacy. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley. Sam Burton Henley, Claudia Sadler, Rachel Petty and Suzanne Lacy. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Earlier this year, the Equine Management Training Center (EMTC) announced the creation of a certification program for professional grooms in the U.S. The first session of the Professional Groom Certificate Program wrapped up in September with two newly minted graduates, Claudia Sadler and Rachel Petty, who are now happily employed in their chosen careers.

The EMTC aims to raise the standard of grooms and facility managers by providing a structured curriculum that covers all aspects of farm and stable management and care specific to competition horses. The eight-week program consists of six weeks of classroom and hands-on practical instruction followed by a two-week internship after which graduates are guaranteed job placement.

With the quality and comprehensiveness of the instruction, it’s unsurprising that top-level riders, trainers and programs are lining up to hire EMTC graduates.

Sam Burton Henley, EMTC program administrator, has imparted wisdom upon the next generation of riders and grooms for more than 10 years as she has worked as a trainer and facility manager at Suzanne Lacy’s Sandy River Equestrian Center (SREC), where EMTC is based.

Prior to working at the Axton, Virginia facility, Sam was the competition manager and head groom for the O’Connor Event Team, so it’s not surprising that the real-world experience and knowledge she, Suzanne and other instructors share with the students produces highly competent and qualified individuals.

Faith Davis and Rachel Petty. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Faith Davis and Rachel Petty. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Having now graduated the first participants, Sam is reflecting on the first session and looking ahead to the future sessions. “The condensed format, which consisted of six weeks at our farm followed by a two-week internship, was very intense but doable,” Sam said. “We realized that we needed more time than originally allowed for some of the topics, so we adjusted the schedules accordingly.”

Claudia and Rachel had class five days a week, homework and testing on the sixth day, and one day off. “This seemed like an excellent schedule, as we could make sure they were absorbing everything as we went. Both of our graduates seemed very happy with the program and absolutely blew us away with how quickly they picked everything up. We are very hopeful for the continued development and success of this program,” Sam said.

“The highlight for our first session was putting the girls with riders at the American Eventing Championships. Claudia Sadler worked with Lauren Kieffer, Rachel Petty worked with Jennie Brannigan, and they both worked with Ryan Wood. All of the riders were extremely complimentary of both girls.”

Rachel Petty assists Ryan Wood with Woodstock Bennet at the AECs. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Rachel Petty assists Ryan Wood with Woodstock Bennet at the AECs. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

While EMTC’s Professional Groom Certificate Program has just graduated the first two official participants, SREC has long been training top grooms. Several students who came through SREC first as lesson program participants, then as working students and later as staff, have benefitted from Sam’s wealth of experience and knowledge as they later progressed to head groom or facility manager positions of their own in premier programs around the country.

Courtney Carson came through SREC while attending nearby Hollins College and stayed on to work at the facility after graduating. After gaining valuable experience at EMTC, Courtney moved on to groom for Doug Payne. “Thanks to the great foundation and training Courtney received at SREC she was able to step right into the program at DPE without missing a beat,” Doug said. “Her experience with both top level and young horses has made her an invaluable asset to our team.”

Trae Meder is another such SREC graduate, and he now works for show jumper Matthias Hollberg. “Trae came to us with a solid foundation of knowledge and was eager to learn about the show world,” Matthias said. “With an excellent work attitude and great feel for horses, he has become a valuable member of our team.”

Sue Clark, Manager of Stonehall Farm, sings the praises of EMTC and SREC students, including current employee and SREC alumni Katherine Lester. “When people want to enter into the horse world as a professional career, there are many considerations that go into hiring the ‘right’ person. One thing that has certainly made the hiring process easier for us is the EMTC,” Sue said.

“I would highly recommend this program to anyone that was seriously thinking about entering the professional horse world. With this background behind you, you will enter the industry with confidence!”

Sarah Zimmer with Arthur at the AECs. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Sarah Zimmer with Arthur at the AECs. Photo courtesy of Sam Burton Henley.

Another happy employer is Allison Springer. “When I was in need of a new head groom, my first call was to Sam Burton at the EMTC. I know Sam personally and professionally, and I had full confidence she would steer me in the right direction filling the most important position on my staff,” Allison said.

“Sam connected me with Sarah Zimmer, who has been my head groom since May of 2015. Sarah has proven to be an invaluable part of my team; her dedication and kindness has been a blessing to my program.”

It was the success of these SREC alumni — Courtney, Trae, Katherine and Sarah — that inspired the creation of the EMTC Professional Groom Certificate Program. Now the most recent graduates are following in their footsteps as successful professionals. Rachel Petty is now employed by show jumpers Faith and Tammy Davis, and Claudia Sadler is grooming for Hannah Sue Burnett.

“I’ve been very impressed with the skills and horsemanship that Claudia came to work for me with after being in the EMTC for just a short amount of time,” Hannah said. “Her positive attitude and great way with the horses makes her a valuable member of my team. I’m excited to see more qualified grooms come out of this great program!”

Claudia Sadler and Hannah Sue Burnett. Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue Burnett.

Claudia Sadler and Hannah Sue Burnett. Photo courtesy of Hannah Sue Burnett.

EMTC has four sessions of the Professional Groom Training Certificate program scheduled for 2017, with the first one beginning Feb. 6. Employment is guaranteed upon completion of the program, and scholarships are available. In addition to the groom program, a two-day Winter Event Workshop, called “Preparing for Your Spring Season,” led by Sam has been generating a lot of interest and will take place in January.

Anyone interested in either the Winter Event Workshop or the Professional Groom Training Certificate program can check out the EMTC webpage for more information and applications.

Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach Forging Her Own Path

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d'Argouges. Photo by Jenni Autry. Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d'Argouges. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Loach has had a whirlwind year. In 2015 the Dunham, Quebec native made her first Canadian national team appearance as a member of the bronze-medal winning 2015 Pan American Games team in Toronto. Thirteen months later, Colleen and her mount, Qorry Blue d’Argouges, a Thoroughbred/Selle Francais gelding owned by Peter Barry, represented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Having now represented her nation twice and completed one of the most difficult cross country courses in modern Olympic history, Colleen is ready for her next big challenge: building a client base and starting her own business.

Colleen has spent the past 13 years working for Peter Barry, who, among other laurels, rode for Canada in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Originally hired as a groom, Colleen’s role quickly expanded beyond that. “Peter got a little more than he bargained for in hiring me, since I ended up being a rider as well,” she said. “He really supported me as rider, and I’m very appreciative of that.”

Colleen reprised her role as a groom for Peter and Kilrodan Abbott at the 2012 Olympic Games, which gave her a unique look behind the scenes prior to making her own Olympic debut in Rio four years later.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d'Argouges. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges in Rio. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Being selected to the Canadian team and riding in the Rio Olympics “was a really amazing experience,” Colleen says. Unfortunately, her Olympic weekend didn’t get the strong start she hoped for when booming feedback from speakers filled the stadium during her dressage test, spooking Qorry and rattling Colleen. They managed to regain their composure and finished the test with poise, but not without a few unavoidable and costly low marks to score 56.6.

With a Pierre Michelet cross country course that many riders deemed the toughest they had ever seen at the Olympic Games, Saturday was understandably a little nerve-racking.

“I definitely have some regrets about the mistakes we made on cross country,” Colleen said. “I got a bit nervous and rushed my warm-up and we had some runouts, which never happens. Once we got on course we still weren’t fully tuned-in to each other yet, and we made two costly mistakes early on, but after that the rest of the course was foot-perfect.”

Colleen and Qorry finished strong on Sunday, jumping inside the time with just one rail down to complete their Olympic debut.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D'Argouges. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges after show jumping in Rio. Photo by Jenni Autry.

After the Olympics, Colleen set out to turn over a new leaf. For the past two months, she has been working for Clayton Fredericks, former Canadian Olympic team coach, at his farm in Anthony, Florida. As an assistant trainer for Fredericks Equestrian International, Colleen has been sharing the riding, training and teaching duties in addition to gaining additional competition mileage on some of Clayton’s horses.

“It’s been a great learning experience,” she said. This past weekend she and Clayton’s FE Subiaco finished within the top 20 in the hotly contested CCI*, which had more than 70 horses, at the inaugural Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event.

Colleen is now ready take the next step in establishing herself as a professional rider and trainer and is looking to build her own clientele who want to join her in her effort to stay at the top levels of the sport.

“I think what’s going to be really important for me is to get owners behind me so I can develop a string of horses,” she said. “I think I have the work ethic and talent to make it, but it’s tough getting started, and riders need a big base of support.”

Colleen, who has years of experience working with young horses, is willing to take on horses in any stage of training, from promising youngsters who need to learn the basics to more seasoned competitors who need a rider to take them to the next level. She will continue to base herself out of Clayton’s facility, located just north of Ocala.

“It’s great here at Clayton’s to have so many top quality, well-bred competition horses to ride,” Colleen said. “It’s a great resource.”

Colleen Loach and Quorry Blue d'Argouges. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Loach and Quorry Blue d’Argouges at the Great Meadow CICO3* in July. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen is also currently trying to keep the ride on Qorry, who was recently listed for sale. Over the past few months, Colleen has been looking to form a syndicate for the 12-year-old gelding and would like to retain a piece of the ownership as well and continue to contest top events together.

“If I manage to keep him I’d like to do Rolex in the spring. I think Qorry would have a good chance to do well there,” Colleen said. “Then we would probably so some CICs in the fall followed by another four-star the next spring.”

To learn more about Colleen and inquire about this syndication opportunity, visit her website at or contact her at [email protected].

An Eventer’s Guide to #GivingTuesday

Photo by Abby Powell. Photo by Abby Powell.

So how did you fare this Thanksgiving weekend? No, I’m not asking if you regret eating enough mashed potatoes to fill a skull cap (I don’t) … I’m asking how your wallet is feeling after a weekend of in-your-face sale ads. Because if there’s one thing horse people love as much as horses, it’s stuff for our horses.

There’s no denying that there were some pretty fantastic deals out there this weekend, and considering horse stuff is so expensive in the first place, it’s hard not to heed the call of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday doorbusters. While there’s no shame in taking advantage of the most wonderful time of the year for shopping, I find today, Giving Tuesday, to be a breath of fresh air after a weekend of intense consumerism.

While there are many worthy causes around the globe, I’d like to take a moment to address the very specific group of people reading this article — horse people — and point out a few ways that we can make a difference in our small niche of the world or your local community. As we head into this season of giving, let’s take a moment to think about what it’s important to us as eventers and horse lovers and how we can use #GivingTuesday to help ensure that our passion is preserved to share and enjoy for years to come.

Land Preservation Organizations

Aside from the horses themselves, is there anything more essential to equestrian sports, and eventing in particular, than open land? Land preservation is essential for the wellbeing and nature of the animals we work with and it is particularly essential to our sport of eventing. Without land, there can be no cross-country as we know it!

Your Local Combined Training Association

From the grassroots on up, local combined training organizations are the bread and butter of our sport. Local CTAs supplement the bigger USEA events, the core of eventing in the United States, and they play a very important role in keeping eventing more accessible to a greater number of people.

Clients of Windrush Farm in Boxford, MA showcase their skills during a demonstration at the 2016 Groton House Farm HT. Photo by Abby Powell.

Clients of Windrush Farm in Boxford, MA showcase their skills during a demonstration at the 2016 Groton House Farm H.T. Photo by Abby Powell.

Therapeutic Riding Programs

Programs that offer therapeutic riding and driving or hippotherapy are often in need of donations. Although equine-assisted therapy can provide real benefit to people with mental or physical disabilities, it is not often covered by health insurance and the programs are understandably expensive to run (they do involve horses after all). Some stables additionally offer programs for able-bodied participants of various demographics such as veterans or at-risk inner-city youth, which are a great way to introduce many different people to the benefits of working with and being around horses.

USEA Research Studies

If you’re looking for a way to more directly impact the future of eventing specifically, look no further than the studies and programs organized by the USEA Foundation. The two ongoing studies, the Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study and the Collapsible Fence Technology Research Study, both have the power improve the safety of eventing and impact horse and rider welfare for the better, while the Instructor Certification Program and the Officials Training program help to secure eventing’s future.

Equine Rescues

From auction-bound horses to Mustangs to OTTBs, there are a plethora of equine rescue organizations out there both locally and nationally. Each one could potentially match some lucky rider with their perfect steed. While, sure, a well-bred young event horse destined for the upper-levels may have a leg up on the competition, one of the things that I love about eventing is that it’s possible for any horse to do well at it if they have enough heart. Heart is an abundant commodity amongst rescue horses; sometimes you just have to put a little polish on a diamond in the rough.

My own pony is one such diamond in the rough. Photos courtesy of the MSPCA and Dan Powell.

My own pony is one such diamond in the rough. Photos courtesy of the MSPCA and Dan Powell.

Veterinary Aid Organizations

We are exceptionally fortunate to be able to participate in this sport that we love. While we generally enjoy horses on a recreational level, many other people around the globe rely on equines for their livelihood. Veterinary care for working equines and basic veterinary or husbandry education for the people that use them, not only help the hard-working animals across the globe, but the people that depend on them as well.


While the goal of #GivingTuesday is generally to secure monetary donation for organizations, there are other ways to give than just financially. If you’d prefer not to make a monetary donation this season, consider pledging your time instead. We’re all aware of the shortage of volunteers in eventing — use this time to reach out to any of your local organizations get your name on their email list; they’ll be happy to have you.

Go Eventing. Go Giving.

10 Questions with Laine Ashker Presented by MOJO

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Jenni Autry. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch have been a mainstay at the Advanced level in the U.S. since 2008, completing major events like Rolex Kentucky and Burghley much to the delight of their massive fan base. Her 2016 season unfortunately came to an early end when she suffered a broken humerus, torn deltoid bicep and torn rotator cuff in a fall after a client’s horse stumbled, but she’s on the mend and in good spirits.

We caught up with Laine to learn what she’s been up to during her recovery (including a very exciting business venture!) and her plans for next year, as well as an update on her mother Valerie’s cross-country trek on horseback, thoughts on social media and even some trot-up fashion advice.

EN: How are you feeling and how is the healing going?

Laine: “I’m doing lovely. I just got my third post-surgery checkup and I’m out of the sling. I’ve broken a lot of bones in this sport, but until now I had never realized exactly how big the humerus is! I have two metal plates and 20 screws keeping it together in there.

“This is actually the first week my shoulder hasn’t felt like it’s just jiggling around as I’m walking. I can’t even do much exercising which is a huge bummer, so the MyFitnessPal app has been my best friend. I’ve been using it to try and stay on some sort of a diet so that I don’t go overboard while I can’t be as active.

“I’m planning on being back in the tack and in work in December if all goes well. The next checkup with my orthopedist is early next month, so gotta keep the bone growing until then. I’ll either get the ‘all clear’ at that point or not, which would be a bummer, but I’m so fortunate to have an amazing team of girls — and one boy — working for me who are doing an amazing job taking care of the farm, so if I need to take another two weeks off I can.

“Of course I’m really eager to get back in the saddle, but I have to be smart about it because this is the type of injury where, if I get back on a horse too early and fall off before the bone is fully healed, it would be majorly damaging and would jeopardize my whole riding career. So compared to that, what’s another two weeks?”

EN: What have you been doing to keep busy during your down time?

Laine: “It’s been sort of a little bit boring, but luckily I’ve started Snapchatting and that’s been a life-changing app for me, because of course it has selfies and filters. But really I’ve just kept busy with being around the barn in a bit of a different management role than I’m used to. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my students coming up with fun things to do to help them learn, but also to get a little competition going. We set up a gambler’s choice jumping exercise the other day.

“I’ve also got a pretty exciting business venture called ‘iQuestrian’ that’s taking shape that I put feelers out for earlier this year. I’ve been able to utilize a lot of this downtime to work on that. I definitely won’t call this injury a blessing in disguise, but at least I have been able to focus on this project a little more than I otherwise would have. I’ve been learning to work smarter, not harder.

“iQuestrian is an app/website that I’m developing and essentially it’s a way for people in parts of the country without a lot of four-star riders to get in touch with me and other instructors and get some training that way. My #GOTDs (Grid of the Day) and #DEOTDs (Dressage Exercise of the Day) on Instagram have been so popular that I’ve wanted to expand on that idea and go bigger.

“It will have a library of instructional videos all the way from Starter level through Advanced with everything from gridwork and lateral exercises to creating the perfect quartermark and picking a jog outfit. There’s going to be a lot going on and I’m really excited about it. There will be a range of free and premium services, including the ability to shoot a video of yourself, send it in, and get a lesson from me or another top instructor that I’m hoping to bring in.

“The biggest thing I see when I travel around the country doing clinics is that people want to be part of a big trainer’s program, but they don’t live in the right area and they can’t travel or they don’t have the money. iQuestrian would make quality instruction more accessible to everyone, and I want it to be a source for people. Right now we’re still in the fundraising stage with sponsors, but I’m hoping to be able to roll it out next year.”

EN: How do you manage to stay so active on it while riding, competing and running a business?

Laine: “It’s so easy! I had the luxury of going to college and being introduced to Facebook there and using it to check in with friends, so I got the social media vibe from college life. Once you understand how easy it is to do, it just becomes part of your day-to-day.

“For the grids and dressage exercises, it takes me about 15 minutes to do those because I’ll trim the video, add audio and write out a caption, but I’m willing to take that time out of my day because it’s important to me and it’s important to my followers.

“I really enjoy commenting back to people. I put myself in their shoes and I think that if they took the time to write to me then I should do the same for them. I really do enjoy engaging with people, and I think it’ll be a very sad day when people stop commenting because that means then that they’ve stopped caring.”

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

EN: How is social media important to a professional equestrian? Any tips for other riders?

Laine: “Social media is hugely underutilized by riders. We riders are a business, but the world of equestrian sports is still so backwards in its elitist mindset, thinking that we’re just entitled to ride. In reality we need sponsors and companies to allow us to ride full-time, and we have to do our part to represent those companies and get their name out there. Social media is a powerful way to do that, but it’s taken a lot of time to catch on and is slowly gaining momentum.

“I have spent a lot of time analyzing what kind of posts get good reach and which don’t; I think I have business school to thank for that. I’ve found that people like motivational posts such as #motivationmonday, but they don’t like selfies. I like to use Twitter for checking results because it’s so quick and instant; it’s so easy, anyone can do it. And Instagram is amazing because you can link it to all your other social media accounts. One click and the post goes up on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Swarm — you name it! It literally takes me a minute to do.

“I get that there are some people that don’t want their life to be public, and that’s OK, but the great thing about it is that you can let people in as much or as little as you want to and you can pick or choose what helps you build your brand.

“I think it’s really easy to lose our perspective of reality in this sport. I like to go out and talk to people and and talk about things other than horses and riding, and have different experiences outside of horses. I find it to be a bit therapeutic for me, putting myself out there and working through some of my problems publicly. It helps with knowing you’re not alone. I think that’s what helps people like myself be a little more relatable. It show that you don’t have to be a superstar who wins everything to be a role model.”

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch at Burghley 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch at Burghley 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

EN: A lot of young riders look up to you as a role model on social media. What advice do you give your followers about becoming a better rider?

Laine: “I do pride myself on being a role model and, I always have to remind myself whenever I post that as I have a responsibility as such. Proper role models have to show people that they’re not without mistakes and that they’re flawed. If you only post your successes — your perfect halts and your 10s — then that’s not reality. It’s important to see that sometimes that person falls, but then that they got back up and they learned from it. That’s what I really want to show my followers.

“The biggest thing I tell my young riders is to persevere. I tell people that if they give up too soon — whether it’s getting off the horse and quitting for the day, or having a refusal at a jump and giving up on getting the horse over it — that you don’t have to fight and prolong it, but you have to find a different way to get it done and maybe speak a different language to the horse.

“The same goes for if you’re short on money. There are still means to following your dreams and achieving them. I am walking, living proof that these things can happen: that you can go to college and take a full load of classes and still do four-stars, that you can take horses off the track and be successful with them. You don’t need to have someone go to Europe and import a horse for you. I mean, would I love that? Heck yeah! But it’s not realistic for everyone, so I take OTTBs and retrain them instead.

“‘Keep your eye on the prize’ is one of my biggest mottos. It’s a saying that’s really resonated with me and helped get me where I am today, and I haven’t even gotten to do an eighth of what I’ve wanted to do yet. It’s something that I tell my students. I’ve texted it to my mom along her journey, and I’ve had to say it to myself again just a couple weeks ago after my accident. You have to persevere when something’s not going right and find a different means to that end. We all have those peaks and valleys; we just have to persevere through them.”

EN: Right now your mom is persevering through her ride across the country, and she’s almost done! As a daughter, what has it been like for you watching her go on this journey?

Laine: “There’s such a mix of feelings. There was a point before I got hurt where she didn’t have a driver for the trailer, and it was tough and I practically wanted to stop my show season early to be there for her. Of course now my show season ended early anyway! I never had one iota of doubt that she’d finish this journey, though.

“I can’t even describe the amount of pride I have for her. My success has been because my mom never babied me and never put me on any made horses. She made me understand how to create a diamond out of someone else’s trash. This has been something she has wanted to do for a long time. She’s already crossed the country several times with me in the car and also on her own on her motorcycle, so it was only a matter of time until she did it on horseback.

“I can’t tell you the amount of relief I’ll have too when she’s done, but also just such a sense of pride and gratitude towards those horses for letting her do this. Those two horses, Primitivo and Solar Express, never swapped out. Those horses have walked every step of the way from California to Virginia. They never got driven on the trailer. In fact, I think they’ve probably gone an extra 20 miles just from getting loose!

“She has met so many amazing people along the way that have touched her life. It’s really come full circle because the OTTBs have given me so much: my first Rolex press conference and my first Burghley, just to name a few. Now they’re giving back to my mom to fill a void in her life and she’s giving back to them. She’s showing people what incredible creatures they are.

“I think they get a bad rap because people always talk about ‘crazy Thoroughbreds,’ but every horse given the right chance can be someone’s Sylvester or Black Beauty — their dream horse. It’s just a matter of how their second life is presented to them; that doesn’t include forcing it on them, but it doesn’t mean letting them walk all over you either. There’s a happy medium.

“Working with these horses is her calling, and she’s found it. She has really found her niche in this off-the-track Thoroughbred movement. She’s so talented at not only finding them, but starting them and showing them a whole new avenue and gaining their trust. Her face just lights up when she talks about them.

“I hope that as many people as possible can come the the welcome party that we’re throwing her when she arrives and finishes her journey on Nov. 19 at the Middleburg Training Center in Virginia. I want it to be a huge part,y and I also want people to come see how amazing these horses look, because they look absolutely incredible!”

Valerie and Laine — Thoroughbred ambassadors!

Valerie and Laine — Thoroughbred ambassadors! Photo courtesy of Laine Ashker.

EN: Now that 2016 is coming to a close and you’re mending up, what does the next year look like for you and your own Thoroughbreds?

Laine: “Anthony Patch (Al) was supposed to be coming back into work by now, but that hasn’t happened since I got injured. All my other event horses have been on vacation too; we pulled their shoes and turned them out! So we’ll all be coming back into work together once I can ride again. We’ll be heading down to Florida in January, and I’d like to do our first show back hopefully at the end of that month. Pending the weather, I’d like to be back to jumping before we head south, focusing on my position and the horses’ form and getting my eye and distances tuned up.

“Al owes me nothing, so we’ll see what he wants to do. If I could get one or two more competitive years out of him I’d be thrilled, but if he tells me tomorrow that he wants to be retired then that’s fine. He’s a dude. I love him and he keeps me motivated every day. I’ve got a bone to pick with Rolex though, and I’d love to springboard off our amazing result from last year.

“As for going overseas, it’s a big risk, but if he’s sound we’d do it. It’s a matter of what he wants to do. It really depends on how he comes out of Rolex because that tells me a lot about how he’ll keep recovering over the summer. We ran cross country towards the end last year, and that wasn’t great because the footing got so dug up and tough; it took him longer to recoup after.

“Skipping Burghley last year was a good decision because of that, but I would love to go again if we can. The first time around I was convincing myself that we would do it as we went. Now I know we can. God bless Al for putting up with me and making the thousands of mistakes that I did. Now I’m finally able to live up to him.

“Spartan (Flagmount’s Spartan) and Comet (Calling All Comets) are my two-star horses. Both of their seasons got cut short unfortunately because of my injury. Comet is an all-American, homebred thoroughbred and he’s very special. He did his first two-star at Carolina earlier this year and finished on his dressage score. He’s going to be the horse of the future, and I’m very excited about him.

“Spartan, who’s owned by Tera Call and myself, is a year older than Comet and he’s three-quarters thoroughbred, one-quarter Irish. He’s a dude. I got him from Grand Prix jumper Aaron Vale who just had him in a pasture and hadn’t shown him. He’s only been competing for three years now and is already at the two-star level. He’s a Burghley horse through and through. He’s very cheeky.

“Both Comet and Spartan are going to stay at the two-star level this year and won’t move up. They’re both further along with their jumping and need to catch up with their flatwork, and I think the two-star level is the time to do that; it’s a hard enough jumping level to keep them interested, but there are enough flatwork basics that need to be worked on.

“I was talking to Boyd Martin at a recent show and he was telling me about a study that showed that horses that stayed at the two-star level for a longer period of time went on to have longer careers than those that moved up to three-star sooner. Both Comet and Spartan are still young, so there’s no rush.

“Patrick (Call Him Paddy) is an OTTB that my mom found through the Retired Racehorse Project. He’s 15.3 hands of cockiness, heart, guts and talent. He really reminds me of my Al; he’s an incredible horse. He walks around the barn like he just won a six-star — we have to make up levels for him, he’s that cocky! He just has an ‘I’ve got this’ attitude. He’s going Prelim right now and hopefully we’ll do a one-star in the spring. Maybe we’ll do a two-star later in the year, but he’ll just be turning 7 next year, so we’re not in any hurry.”

EN: In addition to eventing, you’ve also been competing in pure dressage. What do enjoy about it?

Laine: “I have two pure dressage horses, both owned by good friend Ann Wilson. I’m so lucky to have an owner like her. Diego (Santiago del Escarvido) is an Andalusian/Appaloosa and we’ll be doing Intermediare I and II next year and maybe even Grand Prix in the fall, and Tommy (Phantom In The Knight) is an Andalusian/Arabian and we’re at Second Level.

“Competing in pure dressage is so awesome and humbling. Dressage never ceases to humble me and make me feel like a little kid again. Earlier this year I just learned to do a couple steps of piaffe and I just had the biggest grin on my face; I felt like a little kid who had just learned to canter.

“I would love to develop a string of dressage horses as well. I’m learning a ton, and it helps me so much in my eventing dressage. I’ve been working with dressage trainer Radu Marcoci who has ridden at the Spanish Riding School and at the Seoul Olympics, and he’s been riding and lunging Diego and Tommy while I’m healing which has been super.

“I’ve been learning so much being in the dressage world. It’s like I’m a Beginner Novice rider watching Phillip Dutton out on cross country. Everything I’m learning I get to share it all with my students, so it’s like the gift that keeps on giving.”

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

EN: You’re quite the fashionista on the jog strip. What do you look for in the perfect trot-up outfit?

Laine: “I have a formula for trot-ups with big publicity. For Wednesday jogs, I like to go with some sort of dress. I want it knee length or below, but not too long because you don’t want to be tripping over yourself.

“On Sunday for the second jog, I like some sort of pantsuit. You want to stay away from dresses on Sunday in case you need to ride your horse that morning before the jog to loosen them up; you don’t want to have to do a full wardrobe change. On Wednesday, you can pay more attention to yourself because you have more time to get ready and you’re not dealing with a sore horse that day, so that’s the day to go all out.

“Otherwise, you just have to go with your own style. For me, I love to go with a classic look, but then give it a little edge. I don’t want to be boring. I like to go light with eye makeup, but add a pop of lip color. You want to steer away from going too heavy on the eye makeup and end up looking like you’re going to the club. If you need a statement, do lip color. I like to keep it seasonal too — a light pink for spring, and a deeper plum for fall.

“I know a lot of people don’t care, but the trot-ups are the one time in our sport where we can really express our personalities. Yeah, we can bring a little bling into dressage, but we still have to keep it really understated and uniform. The jogs are the part where we get to be different, and I love seeing how different people choose to look and how confident it makes them.

“I for one loved Chris Talley’s outfit at Fair Hill; he looked like a total Ken doll. He pulled off those leather pants better than most women could have and his hair was also on fleek. That’s a big thing for me too. Don’t just pay attention to your outfit; pay attention to your hair also. Don’t just let it go and look disheveled. There’s really something to be said for just a simple slicked-back ponytail, which is so easy to do. I loved my bun at Rolex, but I have shorter hair now, so I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do next.

“And don’t forget to take your horse’s coat color into account. I loved what Tiana Coudray and Becky Holder have done in the past with their grays. I’m excited to get Spartan, who is gray, up to that level and do some really bright fun colors. No offense to my Al here, but he’s a pretty boring color!”

EN: What do you like most about MOJO?

Laine: “I have a MOJO bracelet on right now! I have one that just looks like a normal silver bracelet and it never leaves my wrist. I really love how it helps with balance. I think it really helps me find my center of gravity and helps keep me in the center of my horse. I for sure feel like it’s helping with my shoulder right now too and it’s going to be even more important to me know since there is a significant amount more of weight in my right shoulder now since I have all that hardware in there.

“I think my balance is going to be skewed from that hardware, and I think the MOJO is really going to be helpful for helping me regain my balance again. They don’t just do products for people either. They have the power packs for horses that go on the bridle and dogs for their collars. I think they’re really helpful for getting the horses to acclimate and focus.”

Use promo code GOMOJO for $10 off any MOJO bracelet! Shop at

Gettysburg College Forms Intercollegiate Eventing Team

Noa Leibson riding The Great Gatsby. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner. Noa Leibson riding The Great Gatsby. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner.

Gone are the days when eventing as a young rider and going to college just didn’t mesh. After the USEA’s Intercollegiate Eventing Program became formalized in 2014, numerous colleges and universities have become affiliates and formed teams — 44 to be exact, the newest of which is Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Sophomore Ella Groner has headed up the process of formalizing the Gettysburg College Eventing Team by having the school registered as a USEA University Affiliate and is currently shepherding the team through the school’s approval process to have it recognized as an official club team and be eligible for funding. The eventing team is a part of the larger Gettysburg College Equestrian Team which is active on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) circuit and organizes multiple activities and fundraisers for members throughout the year.

The eventing team currently has four members (out of the larger equestrian team pool of around 50 members), but Ella is eager to welcome more at any time from the existing student body or any incoming students who have been accepted and committed to the Class of 2021.

Gettysburg is located just inside the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line making it convenient to a number of different Area II events and professional event riders, giving members plenty of options to choose from as to where to train and compete.

Ella, who competed at NAJYRC in 2015, trains with Lillian Heard out of Bascule Farm in Poolesville, Maryland, about an hour’s drive from the Gettysburg Campus. As a long-time student of Lillian’s, Ella chooses to board her horse “Grafton” at Bascule Farm. Other eventers board their horses at a nearby barn about 10 minutes away from campus and trailer out to lessons with various trainers.

Ella Groner riding Grafton. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner.

Ella Groner and Grafton. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner.

“A lot of the friends I have meet through the Young Rider program have decided to take gap years or just skip out on college in general,” Ella said. “I think that if people realized that it is possible to continue competing at the upper levels throughout school, then they might be more likely to attend college, or those who do attend college and might otherwise stop riding would be encouraged to continue riding and competing throughout college.”

The USEA’s Intercollegiate Eventing Program enables students from USEA Affiliate Universities to compete at Intercollegiate Team Challenges, which are held in conjunction with regular horse trials. Teams of three or four riders at any level compete for the best overall score. The program gives college students an extra reason to stay active in eventing during their academic tenure, and the team competition aspect provides valuable experience in addition to the opportunity to develop unparalleled camaraderie with one’s teammates.

Of course balancing riding with college work isn’t the easiest, but it’s still very possible. “Every college athlete has practice for two to three hours a day, and I just treat riding like that,” said Ella, who is majoring in Organization Management and double-minoring in Business and Environmental Science. “I make sure to block out time in my schedule — which I do week by week — to be certain that I have time to ride.”

“I also think it’s important to just understand that it is OK if you miss a day of riding and it isn’t the end of the world,” Ella added “School is only four years versus the whole rest of your life that you have to ride.”

Brigid Thompson riding Warren. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner.

Brigid Thompson and Warren. Photo courtesy of Ella Groner.

The Virginia Horse Trials will again host the second annual USEA Intercollegiate Championship in May of 2017. USEA officials and college eventers alike are excited by the growth that the intercollegiate program has seen with each passing year and hope that continued growth will help strengthen the sport.

“I think that getting a college education is extremely important even if you have goals and aspirations of being a professional rider. One of the things I hear the most from people is ‘you won’t use your degree as a rider,’ which I don’t think is necessarily true,” Ella said.

“The skills you learn at college are not just the academic skills, but the people skills; how to interact with people, how to manage time properly — things like that come in handy no matter what career path you choose.”

Course Brook Farm and Kent School Close Out Area I’s 2016 Season

Kaitlyn Schultz riding H.B. Mars at Kent School. Photo by Brian Wilcox/ Kaitlyn Schultz riding H.B. Mars at Kent School. Photo by Brian Wilcox/

This past weekend Area I ended the 2016 eventing season with not one but two sanctioned events. The Course Brook Farm Fall Horse Trials in Sherborn, Massachusetts took place on Saturday, Oct. 8, while the Kent School Fall Horse Trials were held on Sunday the 9th in Kent, Connecticut. Both events offered Preliminary/Training through Beginner Novice levels, and Kent School additionally offered an Intro level.

For some riders, the last events of the season are a time to go out with a bang and cap off a successful season. For others, it’s a time for redemption and a chance to finish strong and make a comeback before going back to the grindstone over the winter. Still for a few — including this author — it’s a time to step up to a new level after a season of growth and see what you and your horse can do.

Whatever your reason for riding and your hope for your season-ender, it’s an exhilarating feeling to wake up on a crisp mid-October morning and trailer a cooler-laden horse out to the final chance of the season.

A rider at Course Brook Farm tackles the water complex. Photo courtesy of Kristie Gill.

A rider at Course Brook Farm tackles the water complex. Photo courtesy of Kristie Gill.

Course Brook Farm saw a pleasant if cloudy day and managed to just beat out the incoming rain. Just a few drops fell in the afternoon while the Beginner Novice divisions were running cross country, but competitors otherwise stayed thankfully dry. The event was well attended with just over 120 competitors and the Novice and Beginner Novice divisions were particularly well-contested.

In addition to the regular divisions and TIP awards, Course Brook Farm also has a special Pony Club award which is sponsored by six Course Brook families who are in Pony Club. This year’s winner was Penelope Geisel of the Norfolk Hunt Pony Club.

“This was our 7th year running the event at Course Brook Farm and it just gets better every year,” said Erika Hendricks, who, along with Nici Hornblower, organizes the event every year. “We have a fantastic team of volunteers, including many boarders who spend weeks helping us paint jumps and decorate the property.”

The unofficial 'Most Stylish Volunteer' award goes to dressage steward  Sara Michas! Photo Courtesy of Kristie Gill.

The unofficial ‘Most Stylish Volunteer’ award goes to dressage steward Sara Michas! Photo Courtesy of Kristie Gill.

“None of this would happen without the support of the farm’s owners, the Mayo family. It is their vision and investment in improved footing and expansion of cross country space that will make running a Preliminary division possible in the near future. We couldn’t be more thrilled with how the event went this year.”

The Mayo family have been busy this year with construction at the farm expanding galloping tracks through the woods and adding new jumps. They aim to unveil a full Preliminary track in time for their October 2017 horse trials.

Course Brook Farm ran four schooling horse trials throughout the year in addition to the Fall USEA sanctioned horse trials, plus one more schooling event scheduled for October 30th. A core group of dedicated volunteers provides the foundation for each show. “Course Brook is a very special and supportive boarder community,” said Kristie Gill, secretary for schooling shows.

A few more dedicated Course Brook Farm volunteers. Photo courtesy of Kristie Gill.

A few more dedicated Course Brook Farm volunteers. Photo courtesy of Kristie Gill.

The Kent School Fall Horse Trials the next day was less fortunate in escaping the impending bad weather. 106 riders toughed out a wet, cold, and windy day to finish their season out. In true eventer fashion, however, a little bad weather didn’t get in the way of everyone making the best of things, nor did it dampen the level of excitement piqued by the addition of new fences at each level sponsored by Kent School and Michael and Lizzy Chamberlain.

“The event was such a great success in spite of hurricane Matthew sending us the tail end of his fury in the form of heavy mist and light rain throughout the day,” said event organizer Ray Denis. “The good news is that just as we were wrapping things up, Mr. Sunshine broke through the cloud cover and shinned brightly.”

Josephine Duggan riding Kildare's Buster Keaton at Kent School. Photo by Brian Wilcox/

Josephine Duggan riding Kildare’s Buster Keaton at Kent School. Photo by Brian Wilcox/

“Competitors were judged not only on the merit of their riding ability, but also on their high level of good sport spirit and determination not to be driven off by the weather,” said Ray.

One notable instance of a weather-related problem occurred during Pamela Lyon’s stadium round when a gust of wind blew the jump number right in front of the in-and-out during their approach, causing her horse, “Mars,” to run out. Pamela received the Safe Sport – Good Sport Award which is presented to the participant, rider, groom, trainer, volunteer or spectator that exemplifies good sportsmanship for her grace in handling her unfortunate situation. Well done, Pamela!

Ray Denis, Carol Kozlowski,  Pamela Lyons, and Keith Angstadt. Photo courtesy of Ray Denis.

Ray Denis, Carol Kozlowski, Pamela Lyons, and Keith Angstadt. Photo courtesy of Ray Denis.

Kent School Horse Trials also had some notable officials performing various duties throughout the event. In addition to dressage judges Lori Barnard and Keith Angstadt, as well as jumper judge Beth Stoltz, incoming 2017 USEA President, Carol Kozlowski, served as president of the ground jury.

USEA CEO, Rob Burk, was also in attendance as a volunteer, performing dressage scribe duties as well as clocking cross country start and finish times. “Rob was an awesome guest to have involved,” said Ray.

The Kent School Horse Trials have a strong volunteer base as well. Fence judging was covered by members of the New York Upper Connecticut Region Pony Club, while the Kent School Equestrian Team took care of the dressage and stadium jumping phases.

Rob Burk, Liz Johnson, Carol , and Ray Denis. Photo by Brian Wilcox/

Rob Burk, Liz Johnson, Carol , and Ray Denis. Photo by Brian Wilcox/

Now that the official USEA season is over in Area I, eventers in the region will take a breath and enjoy the remainder of the fall, hacking out amidst the colorful foliage or perhaps enjoying a few more schooling events before hunkering down for winter. Some will look forward to migrating south to jump start their 2017 seasons while more will relegate themselves to dusty indoor arenas.

No matter how the fall and winter will be spent, you can bet Area Iers will be chomping at the bit for April to come and to do it all over again in 2017.

Special thanks to Brian Wilcox of for sharing some great images from Kent School Horse Trials!

Go Eventing.

[Course Brook Farm Fall HT final results] [Kent School Fall HT final results]

University of New Hampshire’s Course Gets By with a Little Help from Friends

Rachel Greene-Lowell and Julie Howard with their silent auction setup at the UNH Fall Horse Trials. Photo by Abby Powell. Rachel Greene-Lowell and Julie Howard with their silent auction setup at the UNH Fall Horse Trials. Photo by Abby Powell.

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Durham hosts its fall horse trials every year on the last weekend in September. A windy weekend this year, the Beginner Novice and Training divisions ran on Saturday the 24th, with the Novice and Preliminary divisions on Sunday the 25th.

As competitors enjoyed a beautiful early fall weekend — complete with crisp mornings and just a hint of color starting to appear in the trees — the Friends of UNH Cross Country were focused on preserving the horse trials and ensuring they remain a part of the UNH and Area I’s  legacy for years to come.

The UNH Horse Trials are unique among events, being the only horse trials hosted by a college or university in the United States. Furthermore, they are completely managed and staffed by students of the UNH Equine Studies program under faculty supervision and the help of licensed officials.

The horse trials are an important part of the equine curriculum at this land-grant university — a critical connection to the school’s agricultural heritage as well as a unique experience that introduces students to the inner workings of a horse show.

Photo by Abby Powell

Photo by Abby Powell

This year marked 45 years of hosting a horse trials at the university, making it one of the longest running events in New England. In addition to the fall horse trials, UNH also hosts the first event of the season in Area I in April.

Like many public universities and other institutions, UNH is under omnipresent budgetary pressure. Compound that with the ever-increasing threat of open land development, and one can imagine that the horse trials, the Equine Studies program and other agricultural programs are at high risk of losing their facilities in the name of development and modernization.

Just a few years ago, campus planners eyeballed the agricultural land used by the horticultural, dairy and equine program to potentially lease out for commercial development as a way to make up for financial shortcomings resulting from State of New Hampshire budget cuts to the university. Thankfully, the planners were met with astounding pushback from the public.

Even though the horse trials are a central part of the Equine Studies program, the University contributes no money to the cross country course itself. Entry fees are funneled back into the event budget, in addition to paying for a portion of one faculty member’s salary — also a necessity due to budget cuts. Without funding from the event itself or from the university, the cross country course relies solely on income generated from schooling fees and facility rentals to pay for the course upkeep and design.

Course designer Jim Gornall, a UNH alumnus, has been very generous over the years, often donating his time and waiving his fees to help maintain the course, but the many years of competitions are taking their toll on the fences and the land.

Photo by Abby Powell.

Photo by Abby Powell

Enter Rachel Greene-Lowell, a USEA/ICP certified instructor who owns and manages Harvest Hill Farm in Brentwood, New Hampshire, just 15 miles southwest of the UNH campus. Rachel first competed at the UNH Horse Trials in 1982 and considers it her home event; in fact, it’s the only USEA recognized event in the state of New Hampshire.

Through conversation with Christina Keim, the chair of the Horse Trials Committee, Rachel began to comprehend exactly the financial strain the horse trials were under and realized that it would be up to an outside force to clinch the resources needed to renovate, modernize and maintain the cross country course, further solidifying the future of the event at UNH. Thus, the Friends of UNH Cross Country was born.

Rachel set up Friends of UNH Cross Country as a non-profit organization separate from the university and instead associated with USEA Area I, thus ensuring all funds raised go directly to the cross country course as opposed to other university discretions. She recruited other talented eventers and enthusiasts into joining the cause as members, each bringing a unique skill that benefits the association.

Photo by Abby Powell.

Photo by Abby Powell

Julie Howard is one such talented person who has joined the cause, acting as co-chair beside Rachel. Julie is an alumni of the UNH School of Law and after taking a 30 year break from the equestrian world, she made it a goal to compete at UNH again, having competed there for the first time in 1977.

“UNH was always a high point in Area I for me, so I knew I wanted to ride there again,” Julie said. She achieved that goal a few years ago and also competed in the fall horse trials last month with her OTTB mare. “I just have so much passion for this cause, and giving back is so important.”

Friends of UNH Cross Country hopes to raise $50,000, which would allow for major renovations to the existing course, as well as the addition of several major upgrades and new elements. Repairs to existing fences, addition of footing to several trails, and cleaning up and widening existing trails are all a part the plan for improving safety for competitors, as well as for allowing greater flexibility in jump placement around the course.

One of the largest projects which would be undertaken is the removal of the Briggs Bank complex, which has begun to deteriorate rapidly and will soon be unsafe to use. After removal of the complex and leveling of the area, it will be decided if the bank complex should be replaced, and if so, where it should be located, or if other existing terrain should be turned into banks, drops or a sunken road.

Photo by Abby Powell

Photo by Abby Powell

Another phase of the project would focus on completing upgrades to the Preliminary course, like adding some new fences to allow for more options on course. A final stage of the project would add more Novice and Beginner Novice fences and bring in several Elementary obstacles for use by UNH students, anyone coming to school the course and potentially unrecognized divisions at future events.

Earlier this season the organization put out a call for local trainers, instructors, clinicians and venues to host events benefiting the organization, and the plea has thus far been met by a few generous and dedicated professionals. These benefit events account for approximately two-thirds of the $8,000 raised so far, with the remainder coming from a successful silent auction during the fall horse trials.

The response and fundraising has been slowly gaining momentum since Friends of UNH Cross Country was founded in February of this year. “Part of the larger goal is to keep Area I strong and growing,” Rachel said. “It takes almost a full year to schedule and organize events and clinics. A lot of folks were already scheduled for the season completely, so it’s hard to organize something additional.”

Photo by Abby Powell.

Photo by Abby Powell

Rachel is hopeful, though, that interest will keep building over the winter and that local trainers and farms will take advantage of the colder months to host indoor clinics and keep the cause in mind as they schedule and plan their season next summer. Several other fundraisers are in the works as well: another silent auction, a raffle for an unlimited schooling season pass on the UNH course and a jump sponsorship program.

The Friends of UNH Cross Country would be very happy to have additional members join the organization and invite anyone interested to attend their meetings. “We need people to get involved and to realize that this is everybody’s issue, not just UNH’s and not just Area I’s,” Rachel said. “When you keep equine venues alive, it benefits the whole equestrian community.”

Go Eventing.

[UNH Fall Horse Trials Final Scores]

Area I Schooling Horse Trials Championships Rewards Rising Stars

Melissa Iozzo and Start Me Up, winners of the Elementary Sr. championship. Photo by Paige Bassett/ Spotted Vision Photography. Melissa Iozzo and Start Me Up, winners of the Elementary Sr. championship. Photo by Paige Bassett/ Spotted Vision Photography.

On August 28th, competitors from around the Northeast flocked to the beautiful Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA, for the second annual Area I Schooling Horse Trials Championships (SHTC).

Conceived and initiated last year, the SHTC was formed to celebrate the achievements of competitors at the lower levels of eventing and give them an attainable goal to aim for throughout the year. It’s an event that unites the many unrecognized three-phase events in the region, while fostering some friendly competition for riders and horses for whom competing in USEA sanctioned events may not be an option yet.

Riders could qualify for the Championships by competing and placing at other schooling events throughout the area. Thirty-seven events hosted by 12 different farms over the course of the year served as qualifiers. An outstanding total of 396 horse and rider combinations qualified for this year’s event and 76 turned out for the competition.

The atmosphere and ideal facilities at Apple Knoll Farm as well as the brimming prize table gave the event a true championship feel. At stake this year were some fantastic prizes — including a custom cooler for the winner of each division — from generous sponsors like Bit of Britain, English Riding Supply, Equinature, Spotted Vision Photography, Heart of Dixie Blanket Wash, Massachusetts Horse Magazine, and Frog Hollow Sport Horses. The organizers also outdid themselves with the biggest, most beautiful ribbons you’ve ever seen at an unrecognized event.

Schooling Horse Trails Championship on Facebook.">Highview Farm took home quite the haul. Look at the size of these! Photo via Schooling Horse Trails Championship on Facebook.

High View Farm took home quite the haul. Look at the size of these! Photo via Schooling Horse Trails Championship on Facebook.

Organizing last year’s Championship was a successful learning experience that paved the way for increased awareness and growth this year. In addition to publicity from the qualifying venues themselves, advertisements in the programs of sanctioned events as well as in some prominent horse magazines in the region helped to call attention to this year’s event.

“We gained several more great farms as qualifiers for the event which bolstered awareness on social media and gave me more resources to put into advertising,” said Adrienne Iorio, owner of Apple Knoll Farm and organizer for the SHTC.

“We also had tons of fantastic reports about the Championships from riders last year. I am sure fantastic feedback helped with the excitement heading into the event this year and the large number of qualified riders.”

Emily Finnegan and Alla Breeza. Photo by Krystie Vrooman/ Spotted Vision Photography.

Emily Finnegan and Alla Breeza, winners of the Beginner Novice Jr. championship. Photo by Krystie Vrooman/ Spotted Vision Photography.

However, despite the impressive number of eligible competitors, there was only a marginal increase from the 68 entries last year. Adrienne is hoping to drum up even more excitement and awareness of the Championship for next year.

“We can comfortably run 125 riders a day at Apple Knoll Farm. I am hoping to reach capacity for next year,” she said.

Overall, the event ran wonderfully and all involved are looking forward to next year. Having now twice put the Championships together, Adrienne is looking to make several improvements in the future, including implementing an online system for entries. This would make the life of the show secretary, Laura Donovan, vastly easier.

Laura is an experienced equestrian with many skills including grooming and barn management for upper level operations of various disciplines including eventing. She is currently a full time barn manager and instructor at Apple Knoll Farm and the SHTC was thus far the largest and most complicated event that she has acted as secretary for.

“I got a steady stream of mail and things really got crazy the week prior to the event,” Laura recounted.

There were many challenges in organizing the entries for the SHTC including late entries, incomplete entries and competitors wishing to change divisions right up until the day before.  The day of the show was no less complicated.

“It was a bit like playing a chess match against multiple opponents,” Laura said. “I think there are definitely some things we can tweak to smooth everything out for everyone involved, but from all the feedback we’ve gotten, everyone was pleased. We had a safe and successful event, and at the end of the day that is the most important thing, win, lose or draw!”

Katie Channing and Total Deposit, winners of the Advanced Elementary Championship. Photo by Krystie Vrooman/ Spotted Vision Photography.

Katie Channing and Total Deposit, winners of the Advanced Elementary Championship. Photo by Krystie Vrooman/ Spotted Vision Photography.

Another improvement that Adrienne is eventually hoping to make happen is expanding the cross country course at Apple Knoll Farm. Not only would this benefit the SHTC, but it would brighten the future of USEA sanctioned events in Area 1 as well.

“Expanding the cross country course at Apple Knoll Farm may be a good step towards us running a sanctioned event again at some point in the future,” said Adrienne. “We are looking to add a bank complex and a water jump to the cross country course as well as opening up some new trails and room to run, but in order to do this we are looking for some bigger sponsors to help us along.”

“More entries and excitement for the Championships makes an easier sell to sponsors for next year. Without the fantastic farms opening their facilities for competition and the wonderful sponsors who provide prizes and help pay for courses, there would be nowhere to bring all these lovely event horses.”

Adrienne wants to make sure to remind all who attended the Championships to thank the farms that participated as qualifiers and the businesses that generously served as sponsors: “Writing a few quick notes to all involved helps to make your host farms and sponsors know they are appreciated.”

“Apple Knoll Farm is very aware that we have been losing events in Area 1. Our hope is that through programs like the Schooling Horse Trials Championship we will be inspiring more riders in Area 1 to get involved in eventing.”

Cassi Martin and Love You More. Winners of the Beginner Novice Sr championship. Photo by Paige Bassett/ Spotted Vision Photography.

Cassi Martin and Love You More, winners of the Beginner Novice Sr championship. Photo by Paige Bassett/ Spotted Vision Photography.

Special thanks to Paige Bassett of Spotted Vision Photography for providing us with some great photos!

Go Eventing.

10 Questions with Colleen Rutledge Presented by MOJO

Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

When you look at Colleen Rutledge’s riding resume, it’s hard to believe she’s only been on the four-star scene since 2011. She’s competed at five of the world’s six four-stars: Rolex, Badminton, Burghley, Pau and Luhmühlen. In fact, she was the first rider to complete them all on the same horse, Shiraz.

Colleen has since brought multiple other horses up to the four-star ranks, most notably her homebred Covert Rights, who completed Rolex and Burghley in 2015, but unfortunately had to be scratched from Rolex this year due to injury.

It’s been a lifetime of hard work and dedication for Colleen, who began riding a 2 years old and joined Pony Club at 8. She balances a loving family with her eventing career, operating Turnabout Farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland, and can often be found riding multiple horses in competition. Colleen was very kind to sit down with EN and answer some of our most pressing questions.

EN: Covert Rights had such a great start to the season this year, but sadly had to be scratched before Rolex. How’s he doing and when can we expect him to be back out and about?

Colleen: “CR is such an awesome pony and it was a bummer to not be able to cap off his spring with a run at Rolex, but these things happen. He is doing well and is progressing through his rehab but as with anything about horses, they’ll go at their own speed.

“He doesn’t understand why we won’t just let him go do whatever he wants. At this point right now, we are quite happy with how things look. He should be back in to full work in the next few months, barring any unforeseen setbacks. We’re just taking this time to go back and re-solidify our basics and fill in any training issues that we can find.”

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Jenni Autry.

EN: You had to take a little downtime yourself this summer for some elective surgery in mid-May, but you got back in the saddle in mid-June and were competing again at the Maryland HT II in mid-July. Was there anything in particular that helped you get back in the saddle so quickly?

Colleen: “There wasn’t anything in particular; it was more that I was tired of not doing anything. I don’t take inaction well at all, and I’m lucky to have some really great horses that I can trust to take care of me when I’m floppy. The best way for me to get back to being fitter is to work. I hadn’t planned on being out of the tack for so long, but it is what it is and sometimes you just have to roll with what life gives you. I have a whole new perspective on colic, though.”

EN: Rolex was probably a little disappointing for you this year, between scratching Covert Rights (CR) and a mandatory retirement with Escot 6 (Monkey) on cross country. How have you regrouped and moved ahead this season?

Colleen: “Just getting to Rolex is awesome, but yes, this year wasn’t how we wanted it to go, but that happens. The lows make you appreciate the highs, and this year definitely made it easy to appreciate the good years. But considering everyone walked away in good health, I’m not going to complain.

“I will say that I took a step back after Rolex and began to reevaluate the hows and whys of what happened with both CR and Monkey. We’ve revamped a number of different things and hopefully have come up with some solutions for some of the issues. It’s humbling, but I personally had to evaluate my part in everything and determine what I did, what I could have done and what I can do better in the future.”

EN: Escot 6 and Roulette both had great runs at Richland Park, with Escot 6 (Monkey) in third and Roulette (Rou) in 13th in his first 3*. What’s the future plan for them both?

Colleen: “I am so incredibly proud of both of them. They both were just fabulous, especially on cross country. My short-term plan for them both is to bring them to Fair Hill. Long-term plans will be made after we see how they run Fair Hill, but my gut instincts tell me Rou is going to need at least another CCI3*, as he is only 8 years old and a little slower to mature mentally.”

“Monkey will decide what he wants, but I’m hoping he really wants to see the cross country finish flags in Kentucky next year and jump the colorful poles in the big ring.”


Colleen Rutledge and Roulette at Pine Top. Photo by Hoofclix/LT.

Colleen Rutledge and Roulette at Pine Top. Photo by Hoofclix/LT.

EN: How do you stay organized throughout the weekend of a busy event and stay focused on each horse at the right time?

Colleen: “A. L. E. X. That’s all I have to say about that. Alex Ambelang is my head girl. She is THE reason I can function at the level I do. She can herd cats (me) like a pro. Not only does she take exceptional care of my ponies, but she runs the ship like a well oiled machine and makes sure that I have the time and ability to focus on my jobs. She is a one-in-a-million.”

EN: You have a few other up-and-coming horses in your barn going at Novice, Training, and Preliminary right now. Which are you particularly excited about and who should we be on the lookout for at big events in the near future?

Colleen: “All of my baby ponies are really quite special to me. They’ve all got something that I just love, whether it’s “Paul”’s (Paul just Paul) ridiculously flamboyant self both on the flat and over fences as well as his pocket pony personality, or “Pickle”’s (Your A to Z’s) game-face mustache and phenomenal canter. It could be “Conn”’s (Confidence Game) exuberance for everything and adorable pony nose. It’s so hard to pick just one to single out. Paul is definitely my jaw dropper, but he’s still trying to figure out if he wants to play this game.”

Three cheers for the grooms! Photo by Jenni Autry.

Super groom Alex Ambelang with Colleen Rutledge after Covert Rights finishing second in the 2016 Wellington Eventing Showcase. Photo by Jenni Autry.

EN: Your mother just got back into competing, your husband runs your social media, and your daughters ride as well. Tell us a little about how eventing is a family affair for you and what it means to you to have your whole family’s support.

Colleen: “I’m so incredibly lucky not only to be doing something that I love, but that I have the amazing support from my family. Everyone of them has made sacrifices to get me where I am, and I wouldn’t be the person I am without them.”

EN: You’ve become very accomplished internationally now, having completed all of the Northern Hemisphere four-star events plus representing the U.S. on the Nations Cup team at Aachen in 2015. What else is on your career bucket list? 

Colleen: “There are so many things that I’d like to do, but here are a few: I’d like to actually complete Aachen. It is such an amazing venue, I’m just bummed I didn’t get to finish the cross country course. I would like to repeatedly represent the U.S. at whatever venue they feel I’d be an asset. I’d like to continue to develop a string of four-star horses and not be known for having a specific type of ride, but for being able to get the best out of each and every horse. I’d like to continue to refine and enhance my skill set to improve my horses’ results.”

Colleen Rutledge and Roulette. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Colleen Rutledge rocking her glasses at Richland Park. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

EN: We’ve noticed that you’re wearing glasses in some recent photos from this season. Are they a new addition? Fellow visually impaired equestrians may be curious to know: Did it take some getting used to riding in glasses and does it make any of the phases more difficult?

Colleen: “I had ridden for years in glasses and had finally gotten contacts in my late teens to correct an astigmatism, but it had become increasingly difficult to manage, mainly because I seem to keep riding in the rain, wind and dust. Having your contacts move as you’re galloping down to the first combination at Rolex Kentucky is not my idea of fun — not at all.

“Richland Park recently was especially hard with my glasses as the weather change was so frequent. As anyone who wears glasses knows, if you’ve been in a cold room and move into a steamy area, your glasses fog right up. As I was galloping down a hill on cross country heading towards the keyhole, we went through a drastic temperature change and my glasses went completely opaque. Not optimal conditions for seeing cross country fences.”

“I had recently been wearing glasses because I had just gone through an evaluation to get LASIK done on my eyes and couldn’t go back to contacts without skewing the results. But now, I am past my surgery, and I am loving being able to see without my glasses or contacts.”

EN: What do you like most about MOJO?

Colleen: “I was introduced to MOJO at Burghley last fall. I’m a horrible skeptic and some guy was telling me this rubbery bracelet was going to help me. ‘Pah. Mmmhmm,’ I said. Well, I put it on and while I was on the airplane flying home, I realized that my left leg wasn’t cramping.

“My left thigh has cramped since I broke my hip a few years ago, and this was the first plane ride where it felt better than tolerable. I also I noticed that my legs weren’t cramping as much when I was sleeping at night. I used to wake up at least once or twice a night, but now my MOJO has allowed me to get a better night’s sleep, which then helps me maintain my energy during the day.”

Want to try MOJO for yourself? Use the promo code COLLEEN on the MOJO website for $10 off your order!