Articles Written 12
Article Views 17,793

Amber Heintzberger

Achievements

Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Amber Heintzberger

Latest Articles Written

Go for Gold Graduates: Karl Slezak’s Hot Tips for Online Horse Shopping

Online shopping became a typical way to shop during the Covid-19 pandemic, but most people stuck to basic items like groceries and toilet paper. But with international travel restrictions in place, some people also turned to online shopping to buy big ticket items –- like horses.

In 2021, Covid restrictions had been lifted, Canadian riders Karl and Katlyn Slezak had green cards that were still pending, rendering them unable to travel to Ireland to shop for young horses as they had originally planned. That’s when they went online and purchased Hashtag Verified, (Dignified Van’t Zorgflietout – Miss Nick Nack, by Don Juan de la Bouverie), then five years old, from the Goresbridge “Go for Gold” sale.

All horses at the sale, which is held every November at Barnadown and the Amber Springs Hotel in Wexford, just south of the Dublin airport, is heading into its 13th year in 2022. This year, the Go For Gold sale will take place November 14-16. It typically features 60-70 horses from the age of three that have been pre-selected by a panel of qualified experts as having the potential to be successful event horses.

While a number of top professionals have purchased horses from the sale, amateurs are also welcome to purchase horses. According to the Goresbridge website, “In 2021 the November edition produced a record-breaking turnover of just shy of 1.5million Euros and a top price of 82,000 Euros.”

Hashtag Verified, now six, had competed successfully in Young Event Horse competitions in Ireland. The Slezaks brought him over last November using Equijet (buyers at the Go For Gold sale have access to connections for transport options, making the sale process easier than some may think). Karl said, “I liked his type, he looked like a big, solid horse with a good jump. I had a few friends over there who thought he had a good brain and the quality to be my next upper level horse.”

While Karl considered selling Hashtag Verified and has shown him to a few people as a sales horse, he said the the efforts were half-hearted — what he’d really like to do is put together a syndicate to keep the horse in his barn. For now he plans to produce him and bring him up the levels for a while and see what he comes up with. Consistency has been the key to develop the stunning gray gelding, and Karl will be the first to admit that his busy schedule this year — several trips overseas with top horse Fernhill Wishes, including a trip to FEI World Championships, tend to put other horses on the back burner! — has put the gelding somewhat behind in terms of development. But, he says, more time never hurt anyone and he hopes that the extra practice will pay off as the horse continues to move up the levels. Hashtag Verified finished fourth in his first state-side event in August of this year, ending on his dressage score in the Open Novice at Ocala.

“This was the first one I bought from Go for Gold,” said Karl. “I wouldn’t necessarily buy a horse privately [online], but going through a sale I have people who are there and can sit on it for me, it’s already got a vetting, and it’s been selected by a panel of people that think it’s good enough. It’s not a typical Goresbridge sale even, it’s a select sale, so I feel like I’m minimizing my risk by buying from this sale. I wouldn’t buy sight-unseen from just anybody.”

Considering what advice he might give someone thinking about attending the Go for Gold sale, Slezak said, “I’d advise that anyone horse shopping in Ireland have someone there that they trust, to give them advice, and be able to sit on the horse. Whether online or in person, you always want to have someone you trust to help you. It helps to have an Irish agent – we’ve gone over so many times, we’ve built our connections. Your best option is to go with someone that you know and trust.”

While he wouldn’t be the first to buy a horse after downing a couple of pints, Karl said he prefers to do his horse dealing stone cold sober, or Katlyn will have something to say about it! “I have to admit we’ve done deals at the pub as well, and I almost bought one at the pub last time we were over in Ireland, but Caitlin wouldn’t let me shake his hand – to this day I think it was a good deal, but I’ll say that she was the voice of reason. It can seem like a good idea to buy a horse in the moment!”

Karl and Katlyn have plans to travel back to Ireland this year for the Go For Gold sale. “We are going over this year in person and I’m looking forward to it either way. We always like to pick up new connections. The sale is a base, and we’ve bought probably just as many outside the sale as in the sale. Whether you purchase a horse there or not, it’s a good opportunity to meet people and connect.”

Cassie Sanger Hits the Board in Her CCI3*-L Debut at Maryland

Cassie Sanger and Fernhill Zoro. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

In her first run at the CCI3*-L level, 18-year-old Cassie Sanger claimed the top Young Rider award and third place overall at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill last weekend. She and Alice Roosevelt’s Fernhill Zoro, a 14-year-old Anglo European gelding (Verdi x Oronia 2/Voltaire) rose to the overall top three of the USEF National Championship in a field of 58 entries that included several Olympians.

“Since the beginning of the year I had dreamed of coming here, but it was a bit of a reach because I hadn’t even moved up to Intermediate yet,” she said. “But the season kept going the way we had hoped and suddenly we were here!”

Cassie said that “Zoro” put in a personal best dressage score for both herself and the horse at the 3* level. On cross country she had a plan for how she wanted the course to go, and she rode her own horse, Redfield Fyre, earlier in the day and their double clear round gave her a boost of confidence going into her ride on Zoro.

“In show jumping it was honestly a little helpful that the rails kept coming down because it took the pressure off a little,” she admitted. “I obviously wanted to jump a clear round and we had the second to last rail down, which is a little bit heartbreaking because it was just a cheap rail, but that’s the sport and we can always do better next time. We can put that behind us; for my first three-star Long it was very satisfying to finish third.”

Cassie has been riding Zoro fully since December and is leasing the gelding from Alice Roosevelt and her family while Alice is focused on college. The girls are friends and keep in close touch — “I text her all the time and send her little video snippets,” Cassie said.

While Zoro has an abundance of talent, Cassie said his rise to success hasn’t come without hard work. “He’s an incredible mover and a super jumper. He’s been in my coach’s program for seven years and it’s taken all that time to get him the way they want on the flat. Even in the warm-up here, we were both getting a little annoyed with each other and I gave him a little tap with the whip and he almost bucked me off and then took off! I was like, ‘Oh God, here we go.’ But he is an absolute professional in the competition ring.”

Cassie is a senior at the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, where she is a day student. She rides with with Darrah Alexander, who schools her horses for her when she is too busy with school. “She knows that horse inside and out, just like Alice and me,” she said.

The proper way to celebrate. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Redfield Fyre, a 9-year-old KWPN gelding, has been Cassie’s partner since the beginning of his eventing career in the U.S., after he was imported by Caroline Martin. “I’ve had him since 2020 in the middle of Covid and we know each other really well,” she said. “He’s a cross country machine, that’s where he really shines, so Saturday was so much fun, getting to do that with him. On Sunday morning he came out with a lot of energy and then got in the ring and fizzled. I think we jumped him a little too much in the warmup. It’s okay, we’re learning and he’s still young and it was his first long-format too. It’s also a learning experience, figuring out how many jumps we can get out of him, and we won’t do that next time, we’ll limit how many jumps we do. He was good; I could have been more tall with my body and he didn’t pick up his feet quite as much as we’d hoped. It was a very tough course and for him it was a very challenging course but he is very talented and definitely a horse for the future.”

Fortunately, she said, “Zoro is very good on his feet, he was tired too and luckily it worked, just kicking on. There’s a lot of atmosphere but in the ring you don’t really see all the crowds – I did see the big screen out of the corner of my eye and it was a little distracting.”

Cassie keeps her horses at Caroline Merison’s Shekomeko Creek Farm in Pine Plains, NY, where Darrah is the head trainer. “It’s about five minute to my house and I spend time there every day,” she described. “I have a very good group of people around me and right now I’m basically the only Young Rider in the barn, and every time I ride I get a private lesson and I get a ton of attention. I’m kind of like the child of the barn, it’s all older ladies and they really look out for me, it’s really fun. Caroline and a couple of her friends from Area I that I’ve gotten to know came to Maryland, as well as my family.”

Cassie Sanger and Fernhill Zoro. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

She noted, “I also have an amazing groom, Sarah Tompkins, who was been incredible all weekend. It would not be possible without her! Coming to these events is an eye-opener, even for riders; especially being young, you see a whole other side of horsemanship, especially on Saturday night and Sunday morning. “

Following the event, Sanger is focusing on college applications. “I have one week left this fall quarter before all my college applications go in, so it’s a busy week! Riding is a huge priority but I definitely want to go to college. I’m interested in SMU in Charleston and I’m ED-ing to Richmond. I think I’ll just travel to go to college like Alyssa Phillips did, it seemed to work out for her and I have a good support base so I can keep my horse at home. I’m interested in Econ and Business; even if I end up doing riding as a profession, I think that will be useful.”

Miss any of our coverage from MARS Maryland 5 Star, presented by Brown Advisory? Click here to catch up!

Team USA Triumphs at FEI Nations Cup at Bromont; Liz Halliday-Sharp Takes Individual Win

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Team USA secured the win with three clear cross country rounds today at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ at the 2022 Bromont CCI-S Horse Trials in Quebec, Canada.

Trailblazer Lillian Heard laid down a clear and fast round riding the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Dasset Olympus (Lancelot x Cushlamochree), adding just 1.2 time faults to the overall team score. Andrew McConnon riding his and Caroline Martin and Jeanne Shigo’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza) and Liz Halliday-Sharp riding Deborah Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties LLC’s 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) both subsequently went double clear and clinched the top placing for the team on a score of 138.6001.

“Going first worked out fine, my horse doesn’t always do what other horses do, so not knowing is fine; he did the beginning part well but the waters were a little sticky – they weren’t unfair, but they were almost five-star-esque,” she said. “My horse fought hard to stay between the flags. The jumps were big and technical; sometimes at the four-star you’ll get one or the other, and they were both … but I think it’s good, if you do that hard of a question, you go on and the next one’s not that hard.”

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

The host country Canada finished second overall, with Colleen Loach and Kendal Lehari posting double clear rounds and Jessica Phoenix finishing just outside the time allowed. Jamie Kellock parted ways with Summer Bay, but with four riders the team was able to drop her score to finish on a final score of 158.3002.

Team Australia finished third with a whopping 2050.3003 penalties. Yesterday Dom Schramm withdrew his wife Jimmie’s mare Eclaire after dressage, and today Ryan Wood withdrew before cross country after suffering from stomach flu. He was still game enough to cheer on his new bride Lillian Heard from the sidelines, but not up to the task of riding around the challenging four-star course. That left Ema Klugman as the last Australian standing, and did her country proud with a clear round and just 1.6 time faults riding Bronte Beach Z.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

In the CCI4*-S division, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp held on to the overall lead riding Miks Master C, finishing on a final score of 37.6. Colleen Loach finished second overall on Vermont, a, 18.2h Hanoverian gelding by Van Helsing out of a Heraldik mare (32.1) and third with FE Golden Eye (Goldfever x Cascade). Halliday-Sharp also won the CCI3*-S riding Cooley Nutcracker. She was also competing Cooley HHS Calmaria in the four-star, but pulled up on cross country after the mare took a bad step while galloping and was taken for examination by the veterinarian.

“My three-star horse was awesome, he is ready for advanced now, which is exciting. Miks Master C was super, I tried to have an organized round but still quick enough, because he was very strong with me at Rebecca Farm. I’m thinking of the big picture, which is a five-star next year and hopefully Boekelo this year, so I was thinking about the big picture and still wanted to take the win, so I’m glad it worked out that way. The course was tough, it was perfect,” she said.

Andrew McConnon, who was competing in his first Nations Cup, also said this was his first trip to Bromont. “I’m thrilled to be on the team and make the trip up, and I really think it did the horse well to come up here,” he said. “He was good in the dressage; there are a couple of things I need to improve. He show jumped well and tried hard, and the cross-country was great. I’m planning to go to Morven and do the four-star long, and this was an incredible prep for that. I think the terrain and the jumps were tough, he had to work in a couple of places, but I think he’s more educated because of it.”

Colleen Rutledge, who first competed on a Nations Cup team at Aachen with Covert Rights in 2015, but didn’t complete the event due to a fall in the water, was happy to cross the finish flags today. She had a runout at the corner coming out of the second water today, where she said she rode too aggressively, but credits her horse with getting her out of the trouble she got them into. “It’s super exciting, this is only my second Nations Cup Team and it’s so cool competing with your teammates; it gives you a taste and just makes me want to do more.”

The course was big and technical, and the terrain at Bromont is hilly. The combination of all three factors caught out a number of horses and riders who were not up for the challenge today. There were falls in every CCI division, and three riders are currently in hospital for observation.

This was the first year that Bromont hosted an FEI Nations Cup™ competition and competitors and organizers alike are eager to keep the competition going into the future. Wyatt Westover, a parliamentary assistant who was attending the event from the House of Commons, said, “It’s certainly huge, I know they want to expand even more and the venue is one-of-a-kind in the area, really. We’re privileged to have it here.”

FEI Eventing Nations Cup CCIO4*-S + International H.T. (Bromont, Canada): [Website] [Scoring]

CCI4*-S Final Top 10:

CCI3*-S Final Top 10:

CCI3*-S U25 Final:

CCI2*-S Final: 

USA Has Commanding Lead in Bromont Nations Cup After Show Jumping

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ kicked off this morning in conjunction with the 2022 Bromont CCI-S Horse Trials in Quebec, Canada. After the event was postponed in both 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with great excitement that riders representing the USA, Canada and Australia cantered down the centerline.

In addition to the Nations Cup CCIO4*-S, Bromont includes CCI3*-S, CCI3*-S U25, CCI2*-S, CCI2*-S U25, Preliminary, and Training level divisions.

Team USA took the early lead with in the Nations Cup on 92.0001, with Liz Halliday-Sharp riding Deborah Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties LLC’s 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) scoring 29.2 to also lead the CCI4*-S overall. Even more impressive, she tied the exact same score with her other CCI4*-S entry, the Calmaria Partnership’s Irish Sport Horse mare Cooley HHS Calmaria (Cyrano x Chester Lass).

“The Miks Master horse is actually the first horse I’ve ever had in my life that’s already done a four-star,” she said. “I have always produced my own horses but right now I just happen to have a few that are new at the level right now. My mare is green, this is only her second time at this level but she jumped super. It was unfortunate that she had a rail but she just came down too early behind; that’s young horses figuring things out.”

Halliday-Sharp is also in the lead in the three-star with Cooley Nutcracker, who is owned by a syndicate. She said, “He was amazing today, I was thrilled with him. He’s a very sensitive ride and it’s taken a little while to get to know him. I feel like we’re a team now, he’s a sensitive horse and has tons of scope. I’m really pleased with all my horses.”

Looking forward to cross country she said, “I think it’s a proper track for the Nations Cup, actually both courses are good and strong and up to height. I think both water complexes are serious and will take some riding. What I like about Bromont, which I learned at the June event, is there’s all this terrain big bold galloping tracks and that’s going to suit all three of these horses. I think it’s the sort of course you jump around and say, I’ve got a five-star horse now – and I think all of these are five-star courses. I think you will come away knowing a lot more about your horse, which is useful. That’s why we’re here.”

Halliday-Sharp’s Nations Cup teammate Colleen Rutledge (USA) and her own homebred 16-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding Covert Rights (Incognito x Let’s Get it Right) scored just slightly lower to stand third after dressage on 29.8, with Colleen Loach (CAN) and Vermont in 4th (31.2).

Nations Cup team member Lillian Heard (USA) and the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Dasset Olympus (Lancelot x Cushlamochree), whom Heard co-owns with Debora Greenspan, stood 5th after dressage (33.0). Andrew McConnon had a few tense moments riding his and Caroline Martin and Jeanne Shigo’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza), who landed in a tie for 18th individually after the first phase on 40.8.

Team Canada finished dressage with 114.9 and Team Australia was third with 1076.2003, taking a 1000- point penalty for having fewer than three riders after Dom Schramm withdrew Eclaire after the dressage.

Andrew McKonnon and Ferrie’s Cello. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

The USA maintained their lead in the show jumping, with three riders posting clear jumping rounds. After some inconsistent canter work in the dressage this morning, Andrew McConnon’s horse showed that he’s a solid team member with a foot perfect show jumping round. Colleen Loach and Covert Rights had one unfortunate rail down but because theirs was a drop score, only Lillian Heard’s 1.2 time faults were added to the total for a current score of 97.2001.

Colleen Loach and Kendal Lehari both jumped double clear rounds, and Jamie Kellock added just 0.8 time faults, so Canada currently stands on 117.1002. For Australia, Ema Klugman and Bronte Beach Z jumped clear and added 1.6 time faults, and Ryan Wood’s Cooley Flight had three down, for a total of 1089.80.

Loach, who has represented Canada numerous times in team competition including at the Tokyo Olympics, is currently second overall in the CCI4*-S with Vermont, a, 18.2h Hanoverian gelding by Van Helsing out of a Heraldik mare (32.1) and fourth with FE Golden Eye (Goldfever x Cascade) (33.1).

“I think it’s really exciting that we have the Nations Cup here in Canada,” she said. “It promotes a great atmosphere between the riders and it’s a great thing to be able to practice in a team environment. I hope it continues into the future and that we can draw more teams. Jessie and I have been on a few teams together and she’s a great teammate to have, and everybody’s been great this week, we’re having a lot of fun.”

Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Ema Klugman (AUS) is competing on her first Nations Cup team riding Bronte Beach Z, a Zangersheide by Verdi. She said, “Wanting to be on teams in the future, this is sort of a lower-stakes version of a team environment. We have our Australian flag up in the barn. It’s a 12-hour trip for us but Bromont is an amazing place, I don’t think you get footing better than this anywhere else this time of year. That’s huge in terms of our horses staying sound. The cross country course looks great, it’s hard enough but I think it’s appropriate for the horses that are getting their first run back for the fall. We’re excited about it.”

Competition resumes Saturday morning with the cross country phase, featuring a solid course designed by Derek di Grazia (USA), who designed the Tokyo Olympics, Burghley and Kentucky courses among other major events.

For more information, start time and results please visit https://BromontCCI.com.

FEI Eventing Nations Cup CCIO4*-S + International H.T. (Bromont, Canada): [Website] [Scoring]

CCI4*-S Top 10 After Show Jumping:

CCI3*-S Top 10 After Show Jumping:

CCI3*-S U25 Top 10 After Show Jumping:

CCI2*-S/U25 Results After Show Jumping:

Doug Payne and Vandiver Clinch the Win at The Fork at TIEC

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

After standing seventh after dressage with his longtime partner Vandiver (Windfall II – Visions of Grandeur, by Mystic Replica xx), Doug Payne was pleasantly surprised to claim a second consecutive win in the CCI4*-S win at The Fork Three-Day Event at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (this pair also took the title in 2021).

“He was good in all three phases,” Doug said. “He was on a 30 in dressage, which is pretty par for the course; he’s usually between and 28 and 31. He jumped really well, and at this stage of the game he’s a pleasure to have, he’s 18 years and very reliable. We’re lucky to have Debi and Kevin Crowley with us -– they bred him and were able to come see him, and all of that is great, it’s really cool.”

Doug and his wife Jessica traveled from their farm in Rougemont, Nc. with four event horses, their two small children, and a group of students that Jessica was coaching in the adjacent hunter/jumper show.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Jess said they had fun with the kids in Tryon, where the facilities include a dedicated village area with restaurants, an ice cream shop, carousel and little jumps for kids to play with. “We’re lucky we have really good help to watch the kids,” she said. “The kids can come and play –- we also had students in the jumper show that I was coaching, and I was helping Doug in the warm-up, so it’s great she can help with the kids when we need. Tryon is a lot of fun for them, they can eat at the Diner, do the pony jumps and ride their scooters everywhere. You don’t worry about them being in the way of the horses because there’s an area for them to play.”

After freezing weather with gale force winds during last night’s show jumping under the lights, Doug said, “The cross country conditions were just about perfect: the ground was good and I think that run up the hill at the end of the course is super helpful for the horses’ fitness.”

Aiming for Kentucky, he and Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol – Report to Sloopy, by Corporate Report), who finished ninth today, will do the 5*, Camarillo (Chicardo – Rehobeth, by Riverman) and Starr Witness (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur) with do the 4*, and Quintessence will do the 3* show jumping.

“We should be in great shape for Kentucky, anything can go wrong but for where we’re at it’s a good group of horses,” Doug commented. “‘Quinn’ is a total known at 18 years old, the other two are eleven and Camarillo is eight, so they’re all just stepping up and of course could have a green moment but it’s a good group of quality horses.”

Doug Payne and Fenix Rouge Du Claux. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Doug also rode the stallion Quiberon (Quite Easy – Avalon, by A Fine Romance), who he and Jess own with John Chedle, in the CCI3*-S at The Fork. “It was his second time at this level,” Doug said. “He’s done three international derbies now and jumped to a meter 30; he’s a very special little horse. He’s also at stud, we basically collect him and only offer frozen. He’s been wonderful about it and it’s really exciting that we have weanling that’s by him out of Starr Witness, by surrogate. His legs are insanely long!”

It was a busy weekend for Doug, who also won the CCI2*-S riding Fenix Rouge Du Claux (Chef Rouge – Pixie Queen, by Fleuron de Dun), owned by Anna Antrovius. “He’s been with us for the last three months or so and went back to his owner from here,” he said. “He was with us just to get some mileage –- it was their goal to have him do a two-star this spring and we did our best to prepare him as well as we could. He did a couple events and some jumper shows; they bought him from Dirk Schrade. He’s an exciting horse for her, and she’s looking to continue this year at prelim and just get a bit of experience herself.”

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Phillip Dutton and Z, a 2008 Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z – Bellabouche), finished second in the four-star after moving up from fourth place after dressage and show jumping. The overnight leader Liz Halliday-Sharp, who was still nursing injuries sustained at Red Hills a few weeks ago, took it steady and finished seventh overall after adding 15.2 time faults today with The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Moonshine (Cobra – Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master).

Phillip explained that Z, who is owned by a syndicate, is heading to Badminton. “It was a good preparation,” he said. “Obviously there wasn’t much to do at the water jump, that wasn’t the greatest prep, but overall the course was good and the footing was good. I was pretty shocked by the dressage judging: Z was an 11% difference in marks from two of the judges, and that’s a big difference. As a rider you want to know what’s right and what’s wrong so I think that needs to be looked at. Yes, they were sitting at different angles, but there shouldn’t be that much difference. I think we all put a lot of effort into these horses and they only get to do a couple events in the spring and fall, so it’s disappointing when that kind of thing happens. I was for first at the end, but Doug was faster than I was and closer to the optimum time, so he took the win.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Phillip also finished fifth on Sea of Clouds (Malibu Moon – Winners Ticket, by Jolie’s Halo), an OTTB owned by a partnership that includes his race trainers, Graham and Anita Motion. “Socs” moved up from 13th after dressage. “He’s a gritty little horse – he raced once or twice and we got him as a three-year-old,” Phillip said. “He’s fast and easy to ride, you can turn him whenever you want. He doesn’t move that big but doesn’t do anything wrong in the dressage. Show jumping isn’t that easy for him but he really tried; we’ve experimented with different warm-ups and different rides in the ring. He’s just a great cross country horse so it’s fun, he just easy to ride.”

Because of Liz’s injuries, Phillip rode Cooley HHS Calmaria (Cyrano 145 – Chester Lass) for her, finishing sixth overall in the CCI3*-S.

“Liz had the fall at Red Hills and I’ve been trying to help her out,” Phillip explained. “I’ve cross country schooled them all while she was injured. She’s a very talented horse, she’s certainly a little on the quirky side but she’s a good mover. She’s still a little green and not very trusting yet, she’s still a little spooky and shy of things but she’s a very good jumper and I think will do a great dressage test at some stage.”

Will Coleman and Off the Record. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Will Coleman and Off the Record (VDL Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), the Irish Sport Horse that he rode to victory at Aachen last summer, added a few time faults and finished third overall after standing second throughout the weekend. “Both of my horses were incredibly fresh last night,” said Will. “It was cold and windy and the light added a lot of atmosphere; they were good but more on the muscle than I would have liked.”

On cross country, he said, “’Timmy’ was amazing –- I didn’t go for broke, I wanted to set him up for Kentucky and make sure our communication was good and I was really pleased with how he felt. He finished wonderfully.”

Will Coleman and DonDante. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Team Rebecca LLC’s DonDante (Pachio – Muckno Clover, by Euro Clover) won Advanced Test A, and Will said he also went well and feels good in his prep for Kentucky. “I much preferred the direction of the course today –- it was one of the better tracks we’ve had here,” he said. “The water could have been tougher but the general flow of the course was good and helped get the horses in a nice rhythm.”

Morgan Batton and I’m Sew Ready. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Morgan Batton and I’m Sew Ready Win CCI3*-S

In the CCI3*-S, Morgan Batton and I’m Sew Ready (Lupicor – Jarda, by Elcaro) leapt up the standings from tenth to first thanks to clear show jumping and cross country rounds, finishing on their dressage score of 33.2. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Shanroe Cooley finished second, followed by Samantha Tinney on Glenbrook Cooley. (Not a bad weekend for the Cooley horses — time to crack open the champagne at Cooley Farm in Ireland!)

I’m Sew Ready is an experienced upper-level campaigner that Morgan, who owns two businesses in Aiken, Sc. — The Vista and Hitch and Tow — with her husband Paul, purchased about a year ago from Kristen Bond. Morgan said that she found out she was pregnant with their son as she was considering purchasing the horse, and her husband encouraged her to go ahead and buy him. Obviously she’s glad she did: with their son Lee recently celebrating his first birthday, she is celebrating her first FEI win with the gelding.

Morgan trains with Doug and Jess Payne and they originally made the connection for her to purchase “Jackson”. She previously competed at the three-star level with a Thoroughbred named Toby that she developed herself, and said that she is enjoying her more experienced partner. “He’s really sharp and knows his job,” she said. “On cross country he’s fabulous, he’s great to ride and has a good rhythm. I really wanted to make the time today, but it was totally unexpected to win! It was a bonus that we also earned prize money!”

Thanks for following along with us all weekend at The Fork! Just over two weeks remain before the first horse goes down centerline at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and we can’t wait to see you there!

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The Fork at TIEC (Tryon, Nc.): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage]

Liz Halliday-Sharp Maintains CCI4*-S Lead at The Fork at TIEC

Liz Halliday-Sharp pats Cooley Moonshine after a clear round holds their lead under the lights. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Jumping after dark, under bright lights in the atmosphere of the stadium at the Tryon International Equestrian Center was a distraction for more than a couple of horses, especially with freezing cold, gale force winds blowing this evening. But Cooley Moonshine (Cobra – Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master) kept his cool and put in a double clear round to maintain the lead in the CCI4*-S with Liz Halliday-Sharp on his dressage score of 26.0. The Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Monster Partnership looked every bit the part of a high performance athlete on course.

Liz’s other four-star entry, Cooley Be Cool (Heritage Fortunas – HHS Carlota), also jumped double clear to move up from tenth to seventh (30.7). Her 3* horse, Shanroe Cooley, had one green rail down to move into second place, with Marc Grandia and Campari FFF (Camiros – Tanner, by Ariadus) taking the lead (29.3).

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

“It’s always fun to ride here under the lights,” said Liz. “It gives the horses a bit more atmosphere. Cooley Moonshine jumped here under the lights last year and he absolutely loves it; Cooley Be Cool is a much greener horse and this was the best round he’s jumped, I was totally thrilled with him. He’s sort of a tricky horse and we’ve tried all sorts of things. He’s very careful but he can just go casual in the ring, but today he was a proper fighter so that was exciting.”

Click the embedded post (or click here) below to hear from Liz on Cooley Moonshine and Cooley Be Cool:

The top four places remain unchanged, with Will Coleman and Off the Record (VDL Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), and Phillip Dutton and Z (Asca – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) all jumping clear and in the time. But Boyd’s other mount, On Cue (Cabri d’Elle – On High, by Primitive Rising), knocked three rails down and dropped to 16th place.

Tamie Smith, who was tied for fifth with Martin and On Cue, had a stop at the second jump on course with Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman – Marisol), after the mare chipped in at the first of a related distance and then lost momentum to the next fence, moving into 14th place.

This opened the door for Doug Payne, who was on last year’s Olympic team with both Boyd and Tamie, to move up to fifth place with Vandiver (Windfall II – Visions of Grandeur, by Mystic Replica xx).

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Boyd said, “It was awesome jumping here under the nights, it was pretty cold and chilly. I had a split night; Thomas jumped like a champion but unfortunately Cue got a little spooky and had a couple of poles down. I’ve still got a little bit of work to do, and a bit of time leading up to Kentucky.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s cross country phase he said, “The course looks superb, it’s going to be a brilliant preparation for the Kentucky horses and my plan is to give them a good run, go pretty quick but not crazy quick.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Tamie had a stellar round with Elliot V (Zavall VDL – Vera R, by Nassau), moving up from 15th to ninth place, which might take the sting out of her first round. Solaguayre California (Casparo – Solaguayre Calandria, by Casall), owned by Juliane Guariglia, was last in the ring and had a foot perfect round to move up from 18th to 12th place.

In the Advanced-B division Tamie maintained her lead on a score of 21.1 in the riding the Badminton-bound Mai Baum (Loredano 2 – Ramira, by Rike), owned by Ellen and Alex Ahearn and Erik Markell.

Kentucky-bound Marc Grandia and Campari FFF take the lead in the 3*-S. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Cross country begins tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST with Intermediate. The 3* begins at 9:40 a.m., and the 4* takes place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Stay tuned for the final report from The Fork!

EN thanks Amber Heintzberger for her reporting skills this weekend at The Fork. When she’s not braving the elements on a cross country course, she can often be found braving the elements on the road as a marathon runner — she even used part of her cross country walk this week as training for the upcoming Brooklyn Marathon, where she’ll be running for Team for Kids? If you want to support her in her quest, you can click here.

The Fork at TIEC (Tryon, Nc.): [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Volunteer] [EN’s Coverage]

Liz Halliday-Sharp Dominates 3*-S and 4*-S Dressage at The Fork at TIEC

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

After having to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team when her horse sustained a minor injury, Liz Halliday-Sharp is laser focused on having a successful 2022. After dressage at The Fork at the Tryon International Equestrian Center CCI4*-S went to Irish-bred horses, she and Cooley Moonshine (Cobra – Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master) lead the CCI4*-S on 26.0, and she is also leading the CCI3*-S with the seven-year-old Shanroe Cooley (Dallas VDL – Shanroe Sapphire), owned by Ocala Horse Properties.

Phillip Dutton is filling in for her to ride Cooley HHS Calmaria (Cyrano 145 – Chester Lass), who is third in the 3* on 28.6 (Lucienne Belissimo is second riding Dyri (Diarado – La Calera, by King Milford xx) on 27.8). Liz, who broke several ribs and injured her leg in a fall on cross country at Red Hills less than a month ago, is also ranked 10th on Cooley B Cool (Heritage Fortunas – HHS Carlota) with 30.7.

Phillip Dutton is catch-riding Cooley HHS Calmaria in the 3*-S this weekend for Liz Halliday-Sharp. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

“I’ve done everything I can to get myself back in the saddle – they were badly broken, not just cracked,” she said. “I had steroid injections in the broken ribs and I’m kinesio-taped up to the eyeballs, but it’s getting better every day. I’ve got four entered in the four-star at Kentucky and I debated running [DeNiro Z] in the five-star, but he had an abscess and also had time off, so I’ll take him to Luhmuehlen along with another horse. It was the universe telling us to go to Germany!”

Cooley Moonshine, 10, owned by the Monster Partnership, Rob and Chris Desino, Renee Lane and Deborah Halliday moved up to 4* last year, so he’s still fairly new to the level.

“He just needs to keep getting stronger and finding more lift and power, but he did a lovely job,” Liz commented. “It’s exciting that he’s getting that kind of score when I know there’s more to come. He’s a very good jumper; he’s strong cross country and not an easy ride, but he’s brilliantly talented.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Shanroe Cooley. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

“Shanroe Cooley is doing his first three-star,” Liz continued. “He had some green moments but did some great things. There’s also a lot to come in his future, he’s not the polished product yet but he’s a world-class horse in the making. My goal for him is [FEI World Young Horse Breeding Championships at Mondiul du Lion] this year.”

She noted, “Phillip is riding Calmaria for me because I knew didn’t have it in me to ride two hard pullers this weekend. Much as I adore her, I know Phillip will do a fantastic job with her.”

While she’s been sidelined, Liz has recruited a team of riders to help her out. “Phillip has ridden [Cooley HHS Calmaria] twice cross country at my place; I had him ride some horses cross country for me, Peter Wylde jumped them a ton of them at [World Equestrian Center Ocala], and Erik Duvander galloped a few for me after I was injured. Obviously we lost some schooling but the horses haven’t suffered fitness-wise, which is fantastic.”

Liz admits that she probably got back to riding a little sooner than she should have, but she did compete one horse last weekend at Stable View and said she felt okay. “The horses were in need of a run this weekend, so the plan is to do the full event with all of them. I ran Cooley Quicksilver last weekend at Stable View and felt okay, so I remain hopeful I’ll be able to do it all.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

With Cooley Be Cool, who is placed tenth, Liz said, “I had a fluffy, stupid moment in the test where I went off course –- I went a little spacey for a minute, and I was not happy with myself, but he’s also young and green at this level. The letter ‘R’ marker had blown down and he spooked at it every time; the weather was very blustery, and that just added another challenge. But I think he’s going to be a very good horse for the future.”

Second-placed Will Coleman plans to head to the 5* at Kentucky with Off the Record (VDL Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), his 2021 Aachen CCIO4* winner, who earned a 27.2 today.

Will said the 13-year-old Irish gelding has been maintaining and progressing with the level of training he achieved last year. “I’m working with great people and constantly finding ways to improve,” he said. “Ian Woodhead has been helping me on the flat for the past few years, he’s absolutely brilliant and has been a real game changer for me. Today’s test lacked a little punch and there were a few mistakes, realistically, but I’m looking forward to the future.”

Pats for Off the Record. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The upper levels will show jump tomorrow night, under the lights in the stadium, and run cross country on Sunday morning.

“He’s never jumped under the lights,” said Will, “and obviously we want to be competitive but part of the reason we came here is for the atmosphere, because it’s a good preparation for Kentucky, so we’ll just see how it goes tomorrow.”

After walking the cross country course, which is designed by Captain Mark Phillips, Will commented, “I like the general flow of the cross country better than some years. It gets a little twisty at the end, and there are a few technical things to keep you on your toes but I don’t think any of us come here for it to be soft. It’ll be good to see where these horses are as we’re heading to Kentucky.”

Boyd Martin debriefs with Erik Duvander. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Boyd Martin and the Turner family’s Tsetserleg (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), his 2020 Olympic Games partner, are close behind Will in the 4*-S with a 27.7. The little black Trakehner, who is 15 this year, looked full of pep and ready to get back on course. He’ll need to pick up his toes in the show jumping tomorrow as there is no room for error at the top of the standings, with Phillip Dutton and Z (Asca – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) fourth on 28.0 and Boyd with On Cue (Cabri d’Elle – On High, by Primitive Rising) and Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman – Marisol) tied for fifth (28.1).

Tamie Smith gives Mai Baum a pat after scoring a 21.1 in the Advanced this afternoon. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Tamie also has a commanding lead in the Advanced-B division with Mai Baum (Loredano 2 – Ramira, by Rike), who is entered at Badminton next month.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tamie Smith (@tsmitheventing)

The Fork at TIEC (Tryon, Nc.): [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Volunteer] [EN’s Coverage]

Focusing on Fundamentals: Learning with Tamie Smith at Stable View

Tamie with some happy clinic participants. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

In her first clinic on the East coast, California event rider Tamie Smith spent three days teaching at Stable View in Aiken, Sc. The Monday-Wednesday clinic was sandwiched between the Carolina International Three-Day Event, where Tamie competed several horses, and the spring 4* at Stable View, so the facilities were buzzing as preparations were underway for competitors to arrive.

Tamie had a fall at Carolina, but it was before the event that she sprained her ankle while leading an unruly horse, and then broke her hand while jump schooling another. Spending time seated in a golf cart while she was teaching gave Tamie a chance to ice and elevate her ankle, and despite hobbling around on crutches to offer advice and corrections to riders she looked to be in better shape at the end of the clinic than when it started.

Riders ranged from Beginner Novice to Intermediate level, and Monday started with dressage work and basic fundamentals in riding. Tamie used a simple exercise on a circle, with ground poles set up for trotting and cantering if horses and riders were ready for the exercise.

Tamie emphasizes the basics of the German training scale in her teaching, encouraging riders to focus on learning to establish a systematic program. Each session over the three day clinic began with a patient and focused warm up.

She encouraged riders to ride the horses from back to front, focusing on transitions to help the horses become better balanced. She emphasized the importance of the canter depart and explained to riders how to keep a mentally disciplined structure when trying to execute transitions. Riders worked on maintaining overall balance in each of the gaits during all three phases.

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

On Monday afternoon the Beginner Novice and Novice groups schooled jumping exercises in the arena, with a double bounce to a one-stride, and a couple of verticals set to practice turning to the fences and keeping a steady rhythm and balance on the approach and landing and between jumps. She had riders focus on riding in a balanced, steady rhythm that is safe for the horse and rider rather than using speed and momentum to get over the jumps.

“I feel like the one key ingredients to successful riding is learning how to keep your horse in a good balance,” she said. “That the horse can stay in front of the leg without being fast and out of balance; if it is behind the leg, or running through you, transitions are a super way to get the horse pushing and not rushing.”

Both Monday and Tuesday evenings featured gatherings at the Pavilion at Stable View, with charcuterie boards by Board in Aiken, and drinks from the pub at Stable View. These were sponsored by Haygain and Nutrena Feed, respectively, and gave clinic participants the chance to ask Tamie questions and enjoy a visit with the clinician. Joanie Morris also did a demo with her Haygain hay steamer and answered questions about their products.

Tuesday was spent on the Boyd Martin/Eric Bull Equine Construction Schooling Cross Country Course at Stable View. The course is usually only Training level and up, but course builder Sam Nichols was nice enough to add a selection of Beginner Novice and Novice-sized portable cross country jumps to the mix so that all of the riders could school.

“We worked on taking momentum away to execute terrain jumps that didn’t have height, like a ditch and a bank,” explained Tamie. She had horses walking over ditches and up and down banks, teaching the riders to stay with the horse and stay in balance.

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

“Although these exercises can be intimidating because you aren’t using speed, it is very eye opening how much you and your horse will gain confidence if you practice walking non-height questions. Eventually you will both understand it’s much easier and not as scary as you think.”

There was obvious improvement in horses and riders over the course of the clinic. Carol Tresan, whose daughter Devon brought two horses to the clinic from their home in Alpharetta, Ga. said, “My daughter has a talented horse, Zavallo, who can be quirky and a bit complicated to ride. Even when the horse acted up Tamie remained patient, encouraging and supportive. She gave Devon tools and a training system that allowed Zavallo to relax and show us his abilities; there was such a profound different by the third day, the auditors didn’t even believe it was the same horse!”

Danielle Downing, a professional trainer from New Hampshire, rode an eight-year-old horse that had previously campaigned by Tamie to the Intermediate level. Danielle has also competed to Intermediate, but it’s been a long time. She said. “I’ve had him for about a year now, and it was really helpful to get her opinion on what to work on with him.”

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

She and the horse had a fall last year and had some confidence to regain, and she hadn’t schooled cross country in a while. “Tamie helped me stop riding him like a green horse. I hadn’t done upper level stuff since about 2012, and today was definitely out of my comfort zone. I also hadn’t been on a cross country course since November and I felt a little rusty, but Tamie helped me tremendously.”

Downing also rode a Novice horse and had several students riding in the clinic. “Over the three days I felt a lot of improvement overall,” she said.

Training level and up show jumped on Wednesday morning in a big arena with a full course of jumps. Tamie had them start with an exercise on a large circle, using a ground pole and cavaletti and using transitions between these to get the horses in a good balance, in front of the leg, and not falling behind the motion. She explained that the riders need to be disciplined in the warm-up as they learn to ride the horses from back to front and help the horses learn to coil like a spring so that they could release that energy over the jumps.

“Overall, I see a common lack of understanding of having horses in a good balance,” she said. “We must teach this to our students and help them understand that balance over all things is the priority. We must create a simple system in our day-to-day training that allows us to train correctly and gain better balance overall.”

Dressage and Show Jumping Riders to Represent United States at 2022 Maccabi Games in Israel

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

A team of three dressage riders will represent the United States at the 2022 Maccabi Games in Tel Aviv, Israel this summer, July 12- 26. The U.S. dressage team members include; Lauren Sara, 59, Wynnewood, PA; Aviva Nebesky, 63, Bowie, MD; and Rebecca Cord, 40, West Grove, PA and Clarksboro, NJ. The U.S. equestrian contingent will also include a four-member show jumping team. Riders will compete on borrowed horses.

Coach and Chef d’Equipe Rebecca Cord has competed at the FEI levels and owns and operates a dressage training and sales business in Clarksboro, NJ. She is a USDF Bronze and Silver medalist, a USDF ‘L’ graduate and an ARIA and USDF certified instructor. She has previously represented the United States twice at the Maccabi Games.

A fashion designer by trade, Lauren Sara is an adult amateur who has been riding since childhood. She competes primarily in eventing, and has competed up to third level in dressage. She is a USDF Bronze medalist. Following the Maccabi Games she plans to return her focus to eventing.

Aviva Nebesky specializes in teaching dressage to adult amateurs and to individuals who have fear issues. Before becoming a full-time horse person, she was a social worker. She has competed through Fourth Level and has achieved her USDF Bronze Medal, and graduated from the USDF “L” program with distinction.

International eventing and dressage rider and longtime coach of the U.S. Para Dressage team Missy Ransehausen of Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, PA will travel with the team as an advisor.

This will be the third time in the 85-year history of the Maccabi Games that equestrian sports will be included. More than 1,100 athletes will represent the United States at the 2022 World Maccabi Games in total; the Games are comprised of over 10,000 athletes, representing 80 countries and participating in 43 sports.

In 2017, show jumper Andrea Glazer blogged about her experience at the Maccabiah Games — you can catch up on her stories here as we look forward to the next Games!

Tamie Smith to Teach Clinic at Stable View March 28-30

Tamie Smith & Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

For the first time, International event rider Tamie Smith, Temecula, CA will be teaching a clinic on the East Coast. The clinic will take place at Stable View in Aiken, SC on March 28, 29 and 30, 2022. A master clinician, Smith was the reserve member of the 2020 Olympic Team in Tokyo, a member of the gold medal U.S. team at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and the silver medal U.S. team at the 2021 FEI Eventing Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany, riding Mai Baum. She has several upper level horses and will compete three horses at the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* before traveling to England to contest the Badminton CCI5*.

The three-day clinic at Stable View is open to riders from beginner novice to advanced level. Up to thirty riders will be placed in groups of a maximum of five riders. The first day will focus on the basics as riders school dressage and trot poles in a new arena featuring footing by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces. Day two will focus on cross country schooling over the Boyd Martin/ETB cross country schooling course, with portables brought in for the lower levels. Day three will focus on show jumping, also in the arena, which will be set up for the CCI4* event taking place on the weekend after the clinic.

Monday and Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm will feature a discussion of the day’s events and Q&A with Tamie, to include hors’ d’oeuvres and refreshments at the Stable View Pub. All riders are encouraged to attend.

The Rider Lounge on Springfield Church Road will be open for the exclusive use of clinic participants and auditors; coffee, dry food, yogurt and fresh food will be available along with the use of toilets, showers, washing machines and dryers.

Stabling, in barns I and J, will be available on grounds, entrance via Gates 3 or 4. The clinic will take place in its own discrete section of Stable View, separate from the area used by regular boarders. Trails will be open to participants.

Pricing for riders: $250/one day, $450 for two days and $650 for three days. No refunds, no substitutions. Auditors are invited to attend for a fee of $40/day, Pony Clubbers are invited to audit for a fee of $25/day.

On-site accommodations can be booked via Stable View 1-484-356-3173. Fairfield Inn 1-844-951-3505 will also offer a discounted rate.

Applications will open Monday, March 7, via Compete Easy. Download the app at the Apple Store or the Google Play store.

Meet Me In Maryland: Inaugural CCI5* Set to Take Eventing to the Next Level

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

With less than two weeks to go, excitement is building around the inaugural Maryland 5* Three-Day Event. The new facilities, just down the road from the site of the longtime Fair Hill International Three-Day Event, are rapidly being transformed into a hub for spectators and vendors, with crews paving roads and the jog strip in the racetrack infield last week, VIP seating being erected around the main arena, and various hospitality locations set up at key points on the cross country course.

While Fair Hill and its accompanying Festival in the Country have long been a staple of the fall eventing calendar in the United States, the new Maryland 5* is taking everything to the next level. CEO Jeff Newman said that while the new event will retain some of the flavor of the previous event, it will definitely be bringing the sport of eventing into the future.

With activity focused around the main arena, located in the racetrack infield’s “Fair Hill Special Events Zone” there will be various tiers of VIP seating and hospitality (see video with Jeff Newman), and either side of the stadium will be flanked by trade fair vendors. General admission tickets will include access to the grounds, trade fair, Young Event Horse competition on Thursday and Friday, and the warmup areas.

Stadium seating will be ticketed, except for the top few rows of the permanent grandstand. The Blade and Bow VIP section offers reserved seating and all-inclusive hospitality for the duration of the event. An exciting aspect of the Sponsor Chalets, with private hospitality for guests, is that the reserved seating faces the stadium on one side, where dressage and show jumping will take place, while the other side offers sweeping views of the start box and finish line on the cross-country course.

Activities for kids and families will take place near the main entrance, and separate tickets are available for a beer and spirits. The Brook Bend Interiors Arts and Crafts Center will offer activities for kids as well as retail; the Maryland Horse Industry Board’s “Horseland”, which they offer at the Maryland State Fair every year, will offer up close and personal encounters with ponies, miniature horses and other rescues, as well as interactive, educational activities like how to groom a horse. Dog owners can take advantage of the KONG® Equine Doggie Daycare — you must register ahead of time to use this service.

Spectators who aren’t directly interested in the competition (i.e. the non-horsey spouses who get dragged along to take the kids to Horseland while their partner swoons over the horses and riders), may find respite in the Beer, Wine and Spirits festival on Saturday (requiring a separate ticket) and the Maryland Fresh Foods Fest on Sunday (free admission), as well as live entertainment. On Thursday and Friday this area will showcase local non-profit organizations.

Paving the jog strip. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

There are multiple international riders crossing the pond to compete, partly thanks to the cancellation of other major events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and partly because the very attractive money (a purse of $300,000 total in the 5*, with $100k going to the winner). The illustrious list includes Zara Tindall, former European Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist and a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, as well as three-time Kentucky winner Oliver Townend (GBR), Harry Meade (GBR), Tim and Jonelle Price (NZL), Astier Nicholas (FRA) and Maxime Livio (FRA).

Newman explained that the international horses will fly over on a Dutta Corporation Jet at a reduced rate, and then be transported at no cost to riders by Brook Ledge horse van after quarantining at The Ark at JFK Airport. Dutta Corporation has long been a sponsor of Fair Hill, and this partnership makes the international travel more affordable. There will also be unique amenities for riders at the event, including a tent sponsored by the active wear brand ALO Yoga, where riders can relax, do complimentary yoga classes, or have a massage. This Relaxation Zone will be located at the far end of the infield from the spectator area, conveniently close to stabling.

One of the most exciting aspects of the new venue for both riders and spectators is the ample open space to accommodate the cross country courses. The entire venue is part of the Fair Hill Environmental Resources Area, which is a State Park and is managed by the Department of Natural Resources. All of the fields and forests are impeccably maintained.

Designed by Ian Stark and built by Eric Bull’s ETB Equine Construction, the cross country course encompasses three separate open areas connected by galloping lanes. The established turf has been groomed to perfection, and Bull’s Maryland-themed fences are truly works of art. (Sorry, but the actual fences are still under wraps, so no photos!) Event Manager Kaleigh Collett said that there will food trucks at strategic locations on the course and a shuttle to take spectators to key viewing and entertainment areas.

The three main areas of the course include the gently rolling Timber Field, where the start and finish are located; that is connected by the “Unnamed Tributary”, a connecting galloping lane through the woods, to the Middle Hayfield, which is more steeply hilly terrain. Granny’s Run, a manmade land bridge over a natural stream, connects this to the Sawmill Field, which slopes gradually uphill and includes several big complexes including the main water jump and the Fair Hill bank, as well as more fun Maryland-themed fences.

Newman pointed out that the Maryland 5* is a great economic stimulus for Northeast Maryland and all of the businesses that have had a tough go of it over the past year and a half due to Covid-19.

“A lot of our partners are Maryland businesses, like the Select Event Group, which is building all of the structures for spectators,” he said. In their travels to Maryland for the competition, Newman encourages spectators to look beyond the event venue. “Just down the road we have great crab restaurants, breweries, and quaint shopping,” he said. “Cecil County is one of Maryland’s best-kept secrets.”

Event CEO Jeff Newman and Event Manager Kaleigh Collett. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Maryland 5 Star: [Website] [Schedule] [Entries] [Tickets] [Volunteer]

Eventers Running London Marathon to Save the Rhinos

Amateur eventer Paul Swart, left, and HRH Prince Harry, right, assist with the collaring of a black rhino in Botswana. This process helps to monitor and track the rhinos. Photo courtesy of Rhino Conservation Botswana.

Two adult amateur event riders, Pierre Colin and Paul Swart, are taking up the challenge of running the London Marathon on Sunday, April 22 to raise valuable funds to help protect Africa’s rhinoceros population through the charitable organization Rhino Conservation Botswana.

It is a little-known fact that rhinos are the closest living relative of the horse. These iconic animals are on the brink of extinction as they are poached for their horns under the false belief that it has medicinal value. In reality the horn is made of keratin, the same material as horse hooves and human fingernails, but it has long been believed that the ground-up horn of wild rhinos increases virility, thus they have been poached mercilessly.

Pierre has competed at the Training level with his horse Triskelion and along with his wife, Denise Lahey, is also an owner for Boyd Martin. Pierre and Denise are half-owners of Boyd’s four-star mount Steady Eddie, who will compete in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event next week.

Pierre Colin, an amatuer eventer and owner for Boyd Martin, is also an ardent supporter of rhino conservation.

Paul, originally from South Africa, lives in Aiken, South Carolina and has competed at the Preliminary level on his horse HJ Eros. He has an adventurous background with horses.

“We were conscripted in South Africa, and I was actually in the Border War on horseback,” Paul said. “I spent a full year riding there in a war zone and the training is very similar to eventing training; you have to hang on and be able to jump ditches and brush and so on. I also did show jumping as a kid in South Africa and later became a safari guide, and I became an amateur eventer after I moved to the States.”

Paul volunteers his time as the USA trustee of Rhino Conservation Botswana, whose patron is HRH Prince Harry of England. “We take the rhinos from heavily poached areas to Botswana and protect them,” Paul said. “We are creating genetic breeding pools with wild black and white rhinos to keep the population going.”

Denise explained that the conservation moves rhinos from countries where there are numerous poachers and brings them to Botswana, which has a no-poaching policy. In addition to raising general funds for the conservation, the London Marathon will also raise money for the conservation to add more rhino protection dogs, which are trained to thwart poachers.

It’s expensive to buy and train the rhino protection dogs and also to maintain them, but they are valuable assets to the conservation’s anti-poaching program. So far the conservation has two rhino protection dogs, Savas and Luna, in their program, with an aim to expand to six dogs.

Savas, one of Rhino Conservation Botswana’s rhino protection dogs, with his trainer James Wozencroft. Photo courtesy of Neil Aldridge/Rhino Conservation Botswana.

It seems that every other day another animal is added to the endangered list, and all too frequently species become extinct. Many of us feel sadness for what is lost, perhaps scrolling through the news online with a pang of regret, but quickly move on with our lives. Paul and Pierre, however, decided to take action.

Pierre and Denise donated to build a monitoring camp in Botswana that will house a crew to track and protect rhinos, which ultimately led to the opportunity to meet Prince Harry and run the London Marathon.

Paul recalls, “Last year in October we were given four spots through the conservation trust to run the London Marathon. Pierre had just run the Boston half marathon and I knew he was in pretty good shape — so we decided to go for it.”

The two men started an intense 16-week training program and will run the marathon on April 22. “We’re both feeling great, it’s actually been an incredible learning exercise and it’s a mental game. It was a challenge and we decided, ‘why not?’ Pierre and Denise are big supporters of ours as well, and I thought it would be really cool for us to do this together and make a difference,” Paul said.

“Rhinos belong to the world and the poaching is a global issue; there’s tremendous pressure to save them. We’ve all got to do something if we all want our kids to enjoy the natural world, and we’ve all got to play an active role.”

A black rhino is released back into the wild. Photo courtesy of Rhino Conservation Botswana.

Paul is the USA trustee for the conservation and one of four trustees worldwide: in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the USA and Botswana. “I do this pro bono so that I can support doing something good,” he said. “We’re hoping to raise some funds which will go directly to the front lines to protect rhinos.”

Boyd added, “Denise and Pierre are great supporters of rhino conservation. They are very passionate about animals in general, and the wild rhinos in Africa in particular. Paul is also a great guy, and I’d love all the eventers out there to chip in on their run.”

If you are interested in supporting Paul and Pierre’s run in the London Marathon, please visit their GoFundMe page at this link. All donations will go directly to the Rhino Conservation Botswana USA Trust.

Click here to learn more about the plight of rhinos on the Rhino Conservation Botswana website.