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Kate Boggan


About Kate Boggan

I've been riding since I was 4 and fell in love with eventing when I was 10. I'm the founder of the Texas A&M Eventing Team, WHOOP! I have a recently retired 2000, 17h OTTB gelding named Louisianadecision (Louie). Louie and I competed through Training level together. While Louie is your stereotypical accident prone OTTB, he is my heart horse and was an absolute machine out on the XC course! Still recovering from the torn suspensory that ended his career, I'm blessed to be able to take care of him in his retirement. Currently I am free leasing a 2009, 15.1h OTTB mare named Dashing Vixen (Vixie). A polo pony drop out, we're seeing how this sweet little girl takes to eventing.

Eventing Background

USEA Rider Profile Click to view profile
Area V
Highest Level Competed Training
Farm Name Anchor Equestrian
Trainer Amanda Merritt

Latest Articles Written

William Fox-Pitt to Compete in 2022 $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field

William Fox-Pitt and Sandro’s Star. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The Organizers of the 2022 $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (GPE), are proud to announce that British Olympian and international eventing legend, William Fox-Pitt, will be competing in the 2022 showcase to be held March 4 & 5 at Bruce’s Field, Aiken, SC.

Fox-Pitt made the trip across the pond in 2019 to contest the inaugural event. He and the black stallion, Sandro’s Star, owned by Hannah Salazar, took home third place and a $7,500 check. In addition to his own winnings, Fox-Pitt was paired up with Mental Health America of Aiken County, as part of the showcase’s Ride for Charity effort. His third-place finish also earned a check for the charitable organization, and the Olympic veteran could be seen galloping around the showcase cross-country course sporting the blue MHA t-shirt.

Of his first trip to Bruce’s Field in 2019, Fox-Pitt remarked, “The environment you’ve got here; it’s the best place! What a ground! How lucky are you guys?” He went on to comment that the showcase format, “…is a great way of showing what we do in a tighter environment. I think it’s great to keep this as a target; it’s brilliant for sponsors, actually quite good for the horses, good for us to sharpen up, and long may it continue!”

The GPE Organizing committee and the Aiken Horse Park Foundation are thrilled to be welcoming this icon of eventing back to Bruce’s Field. Everyone is invited to come out and see William Fox-Pitt in person, March 4 & 5 at the 2022 $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Tickets are on sale now at: The event will also be live streamed on Horse & Country.

Miracle Foal to FEH Champion: Like Magic WTW Defies the Odds and Claims FEH Titles

Like Magic WTW — Champion Yearling Colt and Reserve Champion Yearling Overall. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Many readers in the eventing world may be familiar with Amanda Chance and her blog The $900 Facebook Pony. The title is pretty self-explanatory. In December of 2013 Amanda purchased “Henry” off a Facebook ad, sight-unseen, for a grand total of $900. Her blog chronicles their journey together, posts product reviews, nerds out about bloodlines and reports on all things eventing. In 2017 Amanda welcomed a new addition to her herd, and that is where this story begins.

On March 16, 2017 at exactly 3 p.m. on the dot, Like Magic WTW entered the world. “Presto” is Amanda’s second generation of homebred horses. In 2007 Presto’s dam Westbound (“Sadie”), by the stallion Westporte (Wolkentanz x Fabriano), was born. Initially intended to be Amanda’s amateur friendly, hunter horse, Sadie was kicked in the leg while out in the field and retired to broodmare life earlier than Amanda had planned. With the purchase of Henry and Amanda’s transition back to eventing, she once again had the desire to produce her own foal but this time with the intent of producing an upper level eventer.

Westbound (“Sadie”) as a young horse. Photo courtesy of Amanda Chance.

Meanwhile Sadie had been leased out to Willow Tree Warmbloods as a broodmare. A deal was made that Sadie would become a permanent resident of WTW in exchange for Amanda getting a foal from her. The search for the perfect stallion began. In the spring of 2015 Amanda traveled to Belgium for the SBS Stallion Selection Show. Amanda had enlisted the help of eventing breeder and broker, Baudouin van den Brande. Together they went around to many different farms and looked at lots of young horses.

“At Kai Steffen-Meier and Lara de Liedekerke’s barn I fell in love with a 4 year-old gelding in particular,” says Amanda, “a horse named Max who was by the stallion Mighty Magic.”

Amanda and Max the Mighty Magic foal that stole her heart. Photo courtesy of Amanda Chance.

They saw several more Mighty Magic (Mytens xx x Neika I) foals on their trip, all out of very different mares and all capturing Amanda’s attention. Being diligent in her research, Amanda sought the advice of several different breeders who had used Mighty Magic and received glowing reports. Once back home, Amanda spent the rest of the year “obsessively” looking up every Mighty Magic offspring she could find and tracking their damlines and performance records.

“Everything I found made him seem like a better and better match for my mare,” recalls Amanda, “so in 2016 we bred Sadie to Mighty Magic.”

Mighty Magic. Photo courtesy of Haras du Feuillard.

When Presto hit the ground in 2017 it was love at first sight. “I know it sounds hokey,” says Amanda, “but from the second I first saw that little white foot and nose poking out, I was head over heels in love.” Presto was a strong little foal and was nickering even before he was all the way out of Sadie. He stood up almost immediately and within an hour was trotting around his pasture exploring his new world.  Presto seemed perfect and had all the makings that a day old baby can have of an eventing super star.

Sadie and Presto. Photo by Amanda Chance.

Two days later the narrative did a complete 180. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, Presto was cantering around, bucking, playing and acting like a normal foal. Within a matter of hours Presto developed a severe case of bloody diarrhea and it was apparent the little foal was very sick. Presto was rushed to the Brock Veterinary Clinic about an hour away. By the time he was unloaded off the trailer Presto could barely stand. The veterinarians were not optimistic. They hypothesized Presto either had clostridium difficile or clostridium perfringens infection. Both are bacteria found in the intestine that release toxins and can cause enterocolitis — inflammation of the intestines and colon. The disease is rapidly progressive and has a very high mortality rate. After testing it was determined Presto had both C Diff and C Perf.

For the next two weeks Presto’s life hung in the balance. His white blood cell count was double of what would be considered dangerous. His bloodwork was all over the charts, with his proteins going dangerously low and his electrolytes shooting from one extreme to the other. The clostridium caused necrotizing enterocolitis, meaning the top layer of his gastrointestinal tract tissue had been killed off. Presto could barely nurse and was basically being kept alive on IV fluids and plasma. Through it all Presto continued to keep his kind friendly nature, never getting tired of people coming in to poke and prod him and laying quietly with Amanda when she would come sit with him.

Presto never lost his fighting spirit. Photo courtesy of Amanda Chance.

“Even on his worst days, he never seemed to give up,” recalls Amanda, “as long as he did that, I felt like he deserved every chance we could give him.”

The first real ray of hope came over two weeks after Presto fell ill. Dr. Kari Bevevino, Presto’s main vet, texted Amanda a picture of something that looked like a cow patty. Presto had his first semi-solid, non-liquid poop since his ordeal began and it meant his GI tract was starting to function normally again. “That was the day I took my first deep breath since the night we dropped him off at the clinic,” says Amanda.

Presto continued to improve over the next several weeks, achieving one medical miracle at a time. On Friday, April 7, Presto got to come home. Since then Presto has been living up to his name, Like Magic, and growing into a handsome young colt. Amanda brought Presto to live at the same boarding barn as Henry soon after Presto’s first birthday. Henry has been taking his big brother duties very seriously, teaching Presto, sometimes begrudgingly, the ropes of being an internet celebrity and an event horse.

Yearling Presto learning from big brother Henry. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Amanda took Presto to his fist FEH event at the Snowdonia Farms qualifier in June where he received his qualifying score for FEH Championships.  And so Amanda and Willow Tree Warmbloods owner Michelle Beck loaded up and took their miracle baby to Texas Rose for the 2018 USEA FEH Central Championships. “It was meant to be a celebration of what Presto has done so far and the fact that he’s still with us,” says Amanda, “I certainly never expected him to win!”

Like Magic WTW strutting his stuff at the 2018 USEA FEH Central Championships. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Presto went from a baby on death’s doorstep to an FEH Champion claiming the title of Champion Yearling Colt and Reserve Champion Yearling Overall. Amanda’s plans for Presto’s future? “I’m planning to keep taking him up through the FEH program to get some life experience under his girth,” she says, “Ultimately I want him to be my next event horse and I’m hoping he feels up to packing an amateur around a 2* one day.” While Presto had a scary start to life, Amanda’s dedication to the sick foal brought him through to the other side. “There’s no doubt that I’m his person and he’s my horse,” says Amanda. With a bond that strong, the sky’s the limit for this duo and we look forward to following along with their future successes.


The Future is Here: The Inaugural USEA FEH Central Championships Brings Tomorrow’s Stars to Texas

Your 2018 USEA Future Event Horse Central Championship Grand Champion. Diamond Davinity owned by Jayne Lloyd. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The inaugural USEA Future Event Horse Central Championships crowned its winners this weekend at the Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas. The event was organized by Snowdonia Farms and FEH enthusiast, Jayne Lloyd. Jayne proposed the idea of a Central FEH Championship back in 2016 and this weekend’s results are a testament to her hard work and dedication to the program.

“The program is about education and learning,” says Jayne, “We don’t all step on these great horses as finished products, we have to start somewhere and this is where I want to help.”

Martin wound up handling many of the young horses for the competition Saturday, including the beautiful Pave Diamante WCF owned by Holly Parks. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Eighteen horses, from yearlings to 4-year-olds, competed in the Championship on Saturday and 12 horses participated in an FEH Clinic Friday with young horse guru Martin Douzant. Martin moved from France to The Plains, Virginia in 2014 and, with his wife Ashley, brought their training program, The Frame Sport Horses, to the USA. The husband and wife duo built their program around young horse development and that continues to be a central pillar of The Frame Sport Horses.

Martin Douzant shows owner Amanda Chance how to get the most out of “Presto’s” trot. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The clinic was open to horses competing in the Championship on Saturday and outside horses looking for some FEH experience. Yearling handlers worked in the triangle, receiving advice from Martin on how to best showcase their horse’s potential while horses 2 years old and up worked through the jump chute. Martin and his team focused on each horse as an individual and gave them confidence building runs through the chute in preparation for the competition or gave owners areas to focus on and improve in their young horses at home.

Heather, a 4-year-old Oldenburg Filly owned by Rebecca Speer, through the jump chute. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The yearlings kicked of the competition Saturday morning, strutting their stuff for the judges on the triangle. In FEH competition yearlings, 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds all perform a set triangle pattern to be evaluated on gait and conformation. The 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are free jumped through the jump chute, and 4-year-olds compete in a walk/trot/canter under saddle class. Horses are placed by age and gender and an overall champion is crowned for each age division. For the full list of rules for FEH competition, click here.

Layout of the triangle pattern FEH horses perform. Graphic by USEA.

All-in-all, the inaugural USEA Future Event Horse Central Championship was a huge success. The future of the FEH program and its development in the central regions is bright thanks to the efforts of program supporters like Jayne Lloyd, Martin Douzant, and all those who participated this weekend. Thank you to Texas Rose Horse Park for hosting, and thank you Snowdonia Farms for organizing. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.

Congratulations to all the winners at the 2018 USEA Future Event Horse Central Championships:

Yearling Colt: Like Magic WTW owned by Amanda Chance

Yearling Filly: Deanfield Ice Queen owned by Christine McCarter

Yearling Overall: Deanfield Ice Queen owned by Christine McCarter

2-year-old Colt: Changi owned by Jeanne Dolan

2-year-old Filly: Diamond Follie owned by Jayne Lloyd

2-year-old Overall: Changi owned by Jeanne Dolan

3-year-old Stallion: Diamond Davinity owned by Jayne Lloyd

3-year-old Mare: Through Osmosis owned by Ellen Doughty-Hume

3-year-old Overall: Diamond Davinity owned by Jayne Lloyd

FEH Grand Champion: Diamond Davinity owned by Jayne Lloyd

4-year-old Overall: Two Step Program owned by Ellen Doughty-Hume

Final official results will be posted on the USEA website on their Future Event Horse page.

Yearling Overall Champion, Deanfield Ice Queen, owned by Christine McCarter. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Who Jumped It Best? MeadowCreek Park Open Preliminary Edition

Horses and riders had to deal with some slick footing at the MeadowCreek Park H.T. Fall Social Event in Kosse, Texas, this past weekend. Vote in the poll at the bottom of the post for which horse and rider you think present the best overall picture over the jump.

Thank you MeadowCreek Park for the wonderful event! Click here for final results of the event. Ride ’em like you stole ’em and Go Eventing!

Makayla Hill & Kariba. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Rene Rios & One Lark One Legend. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Madeline Null & Revin’ It Up. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Suzanne Stevens & Smokin’ Boots. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Lauren Foster & Village Jazz. Photo by Kate Boggan.

LeeAnn McQuade & Corp Trip. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Lauren Lambert & Cooley Renaissance Man. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Go Eventing.

Water Horses Make a Splash at MeadowCreek Park H.T. & Area V Novice/BN Championships

Is it snowing? Rene Rios and One Lark One Legend enter at A in a torrential downpour. Photo by Kate Boggan.

It seems every eventer across the country had to break out their swimsuits and snorkels these past few weeks. From the hurricane at WEG to the downpour at Plantation Field and the monsoon at the MeadowCreek Park H.T., our cross country horses had to become water horses.

Area V venue MeadowCreek Park in Kosse, Texas, hosts two USEA Horse Trials a year. Owned and organized by Robbie Peterson, their Fall Social Event is usually met with scorching heat and humidity as the Texas summers usually last well into October. The weather in Texas can be very unpredictable though and this year competitors needed their water wings instead of sunscreen. This year’s Fall Social Event also played host to the Area V Novice and Beginner Novice Championships, held a fundraiser for the Texas A&M Eventing Team, and put on the always popular competitor’s dinner on Saturday night.

Young Rider Coordinator, Tayler Owen, reps her Area V pride in her dressage test. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Saturday morning started off with a splash, literally, and many riders opted for rain jackets instead of show coats. Kimberly Stafford and her Oldenburg gelding Pik Coeur D’Or led the way from start to finish in the Novice Championship division, adding only 3.2 time faults from their cross country run to their dressage score of 24.8 to end on a very respectable 28.0. Different division same verse as the Beginner Novice Championship division winners Taylor Tiberg and the Connemara x Thoroughbred gelding Valedictorian sat in first place after dressage and finished on their score of 28.0 to take home the blue.

Kimberly Stafford and Pik Coeur D’Or out on course. Photo by Kate Boggan.

To give the event a real championship feel, dressage and cross country ran Saturday and show jumping was held Sunday morning. Competitors did their show jumping rounds in reverse order of standings and awards ceremonies were held in the drizzly morning fog.

And that’s how you end a first place dressage test! Photo by Kate Boggan.

Congratulations to the following horse trial division winners! See complete results here!

Open Preliminary: Lauren Lambert & Cooley Renaissance Man (39.8)

Open Training: Camdyn Rahe & Orange Crush (36.6)

Preliminary/Training: Stephanie Reimers & That’s What She Said (48.3)

Training Rider: Katie Grace Bond & High Class (30.5)

Novice Championships: Kimberly Stafford & Pik Coeur D’Or (28.0)

Novice Rider: Lawsyn Clements & Russell’s Reserve (23.9)

Open Novice: Jennifer Biles & Bad as Bandini (40.2)

Beginner Novice Championships: Taylor Tiberg & Valedictorian (28.0)

Jr. Beginner Novice Rider: Grace Thompson & Excessive Assault (34.4)

Open Beginner Novice: Rick Urban & Morally Flexible (35.5)

Sr. Beginner Novice Rider: Julianne Foody & Step Right Up (37.5)

Starter: Aynsleigh Fettig & Aisling Dugan (28.6)

Aynsleigh and The Doog show off their first place ribbon. Photo by Diane Rice.

One of the great things about eventing is how inclusive the sport is. If you can teach your horse to jump you can enjoy eventing no matter what breed your trusty steed may be. Proving this point are Aynsleigh Fettig and her 12 year-old Gypsy Vanner, Aisling Dugan. “The Doog,” as he is lovingly known around the barn, was purchased three years ago by the Fettigs to be Aynsleigh’s mother’s dressage horse. Aynsleigh stole the ride when her Prelim horse retired and started taking the flashy, feathered fiend to events. They competed in the Starter division at MeadowCreek and their score of 28.6 landed them in first after dressage and they never looked back. The pair plan to move up to Beginner Novice soon and keep proving that eventing is for everyone.

Big hugs from Katie Grace Bond for her horse High Class after crossing the finish line of their first place cross-country ride. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Despite the wet conditions everyone came home safe and had a wonderful time at one of Area V’s favorite events. As always events couldn’t be run without the enormous efforts of our organizers and volunteers. Thank you to all who came out and helped the MeadowCreek Park H.T. Fall Social Event run swimmingly!

Skyler Norris and Ella Get to the AEC With a Little Help From Their Friends

Skyler Norris and Ella at the 2018 AEC. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Eventers traveled from all across the country this past weekend to compete at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships. Skyler Norris and her Thoroughbred x Hanoverian mare Elegance (“Ella”) had a particularly interesting journey from their hometown of Cocoa, Florida, to the Colorado Horse Park.

This year marked Skyler’s third AEC and her second aboard Ella. Skyler came by the beautiful chestnut mare through a volunteer working at the Thoroughbred rescue her mother runs, Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART). Ella’s background was mainly in dressage when Skyler took the reins, and their 2017 season presented problems for the pair on cross country. “We were starting off at the top of the leaderboards, then dropping down due to some cross country jump penalties,” says Skyler.

The pair has worked tirelessly over the past year to perfect their cross country performance, and their hard work paid off when Skyler and Ella qualified for the AEC in the Junior Training division.

Skyler Norris and Ella at the 2018 AEC. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Skyler and her mare have a unique relationship. “The moment I saw Ella I knew she was special,” says Skyler. “Ella really tries her heart out for me, even if she’s really nervous.” Much like your typical redheaded mare, Ella requires a tactful rider to show off her talent and Skyler is just the girl for the job as the pair “can both be a little spicy at times.” Their 2018 show season ended with a bang when Skyler and Ella earned second place in the Training division at the Rocking Horse Spring H.T.

Skyler Norris and Ella at the 2018 AEC. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

With an overnight stop in Houston, Texas, and two ponies to deliver to Corpus Christi, Texas, along the way, Skyler and her mother Suzee drove over 2,000 miles to Parker, Colorado, for this year’s AEC.

The journey wasn’t without its hiccups. Dark and early on the second day of their trip, Skyler and her mother were headed to the barn to pick up the horses. At 4:30 a.m. they were slowing down to turn into the barn when they felt a huge bump. Skyler’s initial thought was that they had hit a deer or they had turned into a ditch. Looking out the back window Skyler saw chunks of their trailer lying in the road and something that resembled a car. In nothing short of a miracle, the driver of the car that had collided with their trailer got out of the driver’s side door without a scratch on him. When it was confirmed that everyone was safe and unhurt, Skyler and Suzee’s attention immediately turned to making it the rest of the way to the AEC.

Thankfully the trailer was empty and no one was hurt! Photo courtesy of Skyler Norris.

When Skyler’s mother posted of their predicament on Facebook, the phone began to ring and didn’t stop for the next six hours. “We got calls from friends of friends of friends,” recalls Skyler. “Calls from people all over the country. It felt like everyone was trying to help us!”

One such friend of a friend was Sandee Slatery, owner and trainer at Limerick Stables. Limerick Stables is located in San Antonio, Texas, and offered the perfect spot to stop for an extra night on the road after the ordeal. Suzee was able to rent a three-horse bumper pull trailer and took the ponies to their destination in Corpus Christi, and then Skyler, Suzee and Ella pointed their wheels towards San Antonio. With everyone loaded into the borrowed rig and after a well-deserved nights rest at Limerick Stables, the trio finished their journey and made it to the Colorado Horse Park at 1 a.m. Monday morning.

The experience had a great impact on Skyler. “Having strangers assisting us really showed us how awesome the eventing world is,” says Skyler. “It didn’t matter that we were miles from home, people were putting so much effort into helping us!”

A big pat for Ella at the finish! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Skyler and Ella finished 13th in the very competitive Junior Training Division. Skyler and Ella had a blast on the cross country course and really enjoyed the challenge it presented. “Just being able to compete at the AEC is a privilege and I can’t wait for next year,” she said.

The best part, however, was the true sense of community felt from all the eventers that joined together to get the pair to the AEC. “My mom has always taught me to help out whenever I can, and this time it was awesome seeing the help come our way!”

Catch up on all of EN’s 2018 American Eventing Championships coverage here

Horse-sitter for Hire: Handling the Helicopter Moms and Their Horses

A happy horse is a healthy horse. Photo by Kate Boggan

So you’re an equestrian and you want to go on vacation. When you’ve finished laughing at yourself for that childhood fantasy, the biggest obstacle to that dream becomes immediately apparent: “Who will watch over my darling horse(s) while I’m away?”

Maybe you board your horse at a top of the line, full-care facility. In this case having someone look after your baby is as easy as letting your barn owner know you’ll be out of town and to call if there’s an emergency. However if your horses live in your backyard, things can get a little more complicated. You’ll need a horse-sitter.

Horses aren’t like dogs and cats, not just anyone can be responsible for your herd while you’re away. Finding the right horse-sitter can seem daunting and being a good horse-sitter takes some effort. As someone who’s been recruited to horse-sit ever since I was able to drive, I’ve compiled two lists that will hopefully help both parties have positive experiences.

The barn I frequently horse-sit for. Complete with cattle in the background. Photo by Kate Boggan.

What to look for in a horse-sitter:

  1. Does this person know horses? A horse-sitter needs to be able to conduct themselves safely around horses, which means they need a basic understanding of how horses work. The more experience in this field the better. This means that while your neighbor’s 6th grade daughter might be a convenient option, she may not know that if you run up behind a horse you have a good chance of getting a hoof to the face.
  2. Can this person recognize what is and what is not normal behavior in a horse? Horse-sitters have to know the basic signs of colic. Bonus point if they know how to check vitals. They should know when a horse is acting sick and that if one doesn’t come up for dinner time you should probably go look for them.
  3. Is this person a responsible, reliable individual? This might seem like a no brainer, but if a person is consistently running late or forgetting appointments I don’t really want them looking after my horse. Forgetting a supplement or a whole meal can mean big time problems for your horses.
  4. Would you trust this person to haul your horses for you? This one isn’t essential, but it’s a nice peace of mind to have. In the event of an emergency I would want to know that my horse-sitter could take my horses to safety or get them to a vet.
  5. Will this person have adequate time to devote to my horse? I can personally be guilty of overcommitting and stretching myself too thin. When I know I will be watching someone’s horses though, I make it a point to try and clear my schedule as best I can. You don’t want someone rushing through a feeding and potentially missing an important detail.

Not the barn resident I signed up to look after! Photo by Kate Boggan.

How to be a good horse-sitter:

  1. Keep the owner updated. Especially that first night let the owner know how their baby is doing. I would say 95% of horse people are guilty of being helicopter moms/dads. It takes a huge weight off owners’ shoulders and gives the owner more faith in their horse-sitter hearing from them while they’re away.
  2. Ask for written instructions. Whether they’re handwritten, in a text or scrawled out on a whiteboard, and even if they are the most basic of basic instructions, it will make your life easier if you have something to reference while the owner is out of town.
  3. Get an emergency contact list. Much like human babysitting a list of numbers to call if needed is very helpful. Aside from just the owner’s contact, ask for the vet’s, farrier’s, trainer’s, and any other contact that could help in an emergency.
  4. Stick to the routine. Horses are creatures of habit and the majority like to stick to a routine. Do your best to keep them on their normal schedule. A happy horse is a healthy horse.
  5. Get an agreed upon payment beforehand. Discussing payment can be awkward, but it’s much better to go into a situation with a firm price than assume you’ll be paid one amount and get offered another at the end of it all. This will keep both owner and horse-sitter happy and help you get hired for the next job.

How any horse person ever has the funds for even the shortest weekend getaway after all the feed, board, farrier, vet and training bills baffles me. But if you are so fortunate and are able to take a vacation hopefully these tips will help you find the perfect person to look after your most prized possession while you’re away. And if I ever ask you to horse-sit for me, fair warning, I am helicopter mom to the max!

Horse-sitting is extra rewarding when it involves hacks on my retired event horse. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Georgia Phillips’ Little Mare That Could and Her Cinderella Shoes

“That feeling a good Thoroughbred gives you on cross country.” Photo by JJ Jayhawk Sillman.

Still reeling from their success in the 2018 NAYC CCIJ1* at Rebecca Farm, Georgia Phillips and her OTTB Menue Rendevous (“Lundee”) reflect on their journey from track to team Young Rider gold.

Three years ago while scrolling through Facebook, a flash of chrome on an otherwise scrawny and unimpressive off-the-track mare caught Georgia’s eye. With her top event horse sidelined due to injury, the young rider from Area V was looking for a fun summer resale project. “I have to be honest … she was not very cute in person at the time,” says Georgia. But something told her to look past the thick winter coat and racing fit physique.

The picture that started it all. Photo courtesy of Georgia Phillips.

Georgia’s first time sitting on the mare proved her instincts right with the most uneventful ride on a 4-year-old OTTB there ever was. She and her mom shared a look and the bay mare came home with them that day. The young mare impressed everyone with her laid-back attitude and willing disposition, but not even Georgia knew back then what a once in a life time horse Lundee would turn out to be. “I never had the thought that she would be my Young Riders horse,” Georgia says, “I was hoping when my other horse got sound he would be the one.”

It wasn’t until Georgia took Lundee out cross country schooling for the first time that she began to feel that this mare could be something special. Lundee handled everything that was asked of her like a seasoned pro. “She just made me smile, she gave me this feeling that no horse ever has on cross country,” Georgia recalls. And only a month after her purchase, Lundee and Georgia were entered in their first horse trial together.

All hail Queen Lundee! Photo by Genna Huffman.

“She thought the cross country was amazing,” says Georgia, “It was the first time I experienced that feeling a good Thoroughbred gives you out on cross country.” The mare finished on her dressage score, as she would become known for in the barn, and Georgia fell even more in love with her.

When asked if she had ever come close to selling Lundee, as was her original purpose, Georgia compared the mare to a failed foster dog that turned into all her success. As the jumps got bigger the mare’s skills got better. Lundee became the queen of finishing on her dressage score. This past year the pair traveled to Florida for the winter series and made their Preliminary debut. Of course in true Lundee fashion they finished on their dressage score and that’s when Georgia knew Young Riders was in their sights.

“When I started her over show jumping fences she was always so careful and so natural.” Photo by Tom Cook.

Making the Area V Young Rider team was a dream come true for Georgia. Winning team gold on a horse she produced herself? “I was just so humbled and excited to be there on a horse like Lundee with a story like ours.” Looking back Georgia is still in awe of her “Golden Girl”: “Lundee has been the light of my life and I still can’t believe she did it!” Area V competed with only three horse and rider pairs (the others being McKinsey Wickman with Dassett Profile and Georgia Dillard with Galileo Wp), meaning there was no drop score and no room for error.

“When we won I just couldn’t quit sobbing,” Georgia recalls. “I was galloping alongside two such nice horses, and the fact that Lundee helped get us that gold medal makes me speechless.”

Your 2018 CCIJ1* gold medal team, Area V! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Lundee wasn’t the only special horse that helped Georgia achieve her goal of competing at NAYC. In 2012 Georgia and her mother traveled to the East coast with the aim of purchasing a more experienced horse for Georgia to move up then levels on and pursue her spot on the Young Riders team. The result was a big bay 1-star horse named Harlee. Harlee took Georgia through Training level and they looked like they were well on their way to contending for a spot on the team when tragedy struck. The beautiful horse fractured his leg in a freak pasture accident and the tough choice to put Harlee down was made.

Harlee showing off his larger-than-life personality. Photo courtesy of Georgia Phillips.

Fast forward to the 2018 NAYC and Georgia and Lundee carried a piece of Harlee with them. As many horse people do when a beloved partner passes away, Georgia saved Harlee’s shoes. They fit Lundee perfectly. “When I got Lundee and she started to show potential I thought… how amazing would it be for Lundee to wear Harlee’s shoes?” says Georgia, “Harlee holds such a special place in my heart, and for his shoes to have one last go was so neat.”

According to Georgia, Lundee and Harlee had many things in common: “A little quirky on the ground, small Thoroughbreds, such vigor for life, and so in love with their jobs.” It was the perfect fairy tale ending that Harlee got to gallop every stride with his girl and her super star mare.

Lundee and her magic shoes. Photo courtesy of Georgia Phillips.

Growing up as a trainer’s daughter, Georgia has had the privilege to work with many different horses. Lundee’s desire to please has always made her stand above the rest. That, and her hidden talent. “Lundee did what so many people didn’t think was possible, including me,” says Georgia. “She went from this scrawny little horse to the most incredible athlete.” Georgia plans to produce more horses up the levels and represent the U.S. on future teams. “The next step for me is to find a new rider for my golden girl to teach,” says Georgia. “We’ve had such a special journey together that I will cherish forever.”

Georgia’s Golden Girl. Photo by Melinda Prince Photography.

Search for the Holy Grail … of Pitchforks

All shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way, no muck rake shaming here. Photo by Kate Boggan

It’s just another one of those weird horse person things: we have strange attachments to inanimate barn items. One such odd affinity seems to exist between many equestrians and their favorite muck rakes. When someone spends as much time as the average horse enthusiast does picking up poop (roughly 60% of the time), you get picky about your pick.

That “Visiting the Vet” piece should be bigger. Chart by Kate Boggan.

You know the feeling. You show up to the barn and grab an available wheelbarrow, although you probably have a favorite one of those too, and you realize someone else is using YOUR pitchfork. If you’re like me you might just wait until your favorite fork is available and busy your self with other barn chores in the mean time. But on those days when you’re really in a rush you might not have time to wait, so you’ll have to select a different stall cleaning utensil.

This. Can. Ruin. Your. Whole. Day.

When once stall cleaning was almost cathartic, now it’s stressful. The tines aren’t the right spacing from one another for the shavings you use. The handle is at a funny angle. The weight is different causing you to overshoot your wheelbarrow, or even worse, bang the corner against your fork and spill your whole scoop into the aisle! And if you have to do more than one stall like this … I pity you.

Found this pitchfork outside the stall of our resident chestnut mare. Not sure how good it is for picking up poop. Photo by Kate Boggan.

So how does one pick the perfect pooper scooper? Personally, I prefer muck rakes with aluminum handles. Wood is fine, until I have to clean six or seven stalls and then it gets heavy and my callouses get callouses. I also like to use the pelleted bedding, so for me I like rakes with tines closer together. The pelletized bedding (dust) sifts right through and I get the satisfaction of removing even the tiniest poo particle.

In truth, there’s no science behind the perfect pitchfork, although I personally LOVE the Flex’n Fork by Equi Tee Mfg. I think much like our equine partners we settle into routine and dislike (some more than others) when it gets disrupted. My advice is to buy your favorite muck rake for yourself and guard it with your life.

One last piece of advice, for those of you who actually own pigs dressed up like horses, I recommend one of the following:

Sometimes there’s just no sifting through. Photo by Kate Boggan.

And sometimes you need to call for reinforcements. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Stall Rest Blues: Nutrition Tips to Keep Your Stall Bound Horse in Good Condition

The King of stall rest ladies and gentlemen. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Whether they are elite performance athletes or beloved backyard trail buddies, the horse is an amazing animal. Unfortunately some seem more accident prone than others. Many horse owners will at one point or another be forced to keep their equine partner in stall confinement for an extended period of time. And if your horse is anything like mine, this will happen often. Due to his frequent stall rest and my Equine Science studies at Texas A&M University, I picked up some tips along the way for managing a horse’s nutrition, among other things, during the recovery period.

Most of the time our horses are on stall rest due to injury. This often means we are administering some sort of pain killer or anti-inflammatory such as bute or banamine. It is important to note that while these drugs help with pain management they also block the release of prostaglandins which trigger the release of gastro intestinal mucus. This mucus acts as a protective coating in the horse’s stomach and helps prevent ulcers. Any horses that are on these drugs for any prolonged amount of time should be closely watched for signs of ulcers. Ulcer preventatives and treatments with the active drug Omeprazole are the most effective in equines. It has also been shown that a steady intake of forages helps the horse’s digestive track function properly and continuous digestion lowers the risk of over production of stomach acid which leads to ulcers.

There can be too much of a good thing. Photo by Kate Boggan.

No matter your horse’s typical work load, stall rest drastically decreases their activity thus decreasing their energy requirements. In order to maintain a healthy body condition, you will need to cut calories out of their diet. All changes to any horse’s diet should be made gradually over time to avoid digestive tract problems such as colic or ulcers. This includes meal sizes and the type of feed being offered. Starch and fat are the horse’s two main sources of energy. While your high performance horses need ample amounts of both in their diet, a horse on stall rest needs less of these nutrients and more fiber to encourage a healthy digestive system. Compare feed labels at your local feed store to determine which products will best meet your horse’s nutritional needs.

All changes to the diet should be made gradually over time. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Every horse’s diet should be based off of forage and any nutritional requirements not met can then be supplemented by concentrates (grains). If your horse needs concentrates, offering smaller meals more frequently and evenly spaced throughout the day helps maintain more natural continuous digestion. Your horse’s meals should be based off of weight — not scoops — and you should never feed more than .5% of your horse’s body weight in concentrates per meal.

A horse’s digestive tract is built for grazing and a continuous passage of forage. At a minimum a horse should consume 1% of its bodyweight in forage per day. For the stall bound horse that is used to pasture grazing it is especially important to mimic their natural grazing behavior as closely as possible. A slow feed hay net is a good way to offer forage to your horse on stall rest. This will keep them occupied longer and help reduce boredom.  If a hay net is not an option, feeding small meals of forage several times throughout the day is the next best approach.

My horse has definitely taught me how to wrap like a pro. Photo by Kate Boggan.

If given the okay by your vet, hand grazing your horse is another good way to alleviate boredom and give your horse some foraging time. Another important factor to keep in mind is fresh grass has a higher moisture content than dried hay. When a horse’s access to grazing is restricted, their water intake should increase to help prevent impactions in the hindgut. Always provide ad libitum (as desired) access to clean water. Providing a trace mineral block is another good way to ensure your horse isn’t lacking any nutrients without access to grazing.

Keeping a horse on stall rest requires patience and good management. It’s not easy convincing a 1000lb animal to keep still in a box for several weeks to months at a time. It can be frustrating, but given the proper care and a healthy diet you can set your horse up for success. Before you know it you’ll be back blazing trails and winning ribbons in the competition arena.

Good thing I love him! Photo by Kate Boggan.

A Grand Passion

My favorite view. Photo by Kate Boggan

Horse people are different.

Recently a good friend reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week I made a regular run to the local co-op to pick up wormer and grain. Walking back out to my truck I bumped into a friend from high school who was working in the loading docks for the summer. We chatted for a bit and he asked me what I had been up to recently. I gave the answer I always give when anyone asks me how I’ve been and said, “Just busy with the horses as usual.” I’ve been the crazy horse girl for as long as I can remember and was known as that by all my peers. My answer didn’t surprise my friend, but his next question caught me off guard: “Oh, so that continues after college?” To tell you the truth I didn’t know how to respond. In my head I thought, “Well duh!” but I politely told him yes. We parted ways and I was left befuddled.

It’s more than just a sport. Photo by Kate Boggan

This strange encounter got me thinking and I did some research when I got home. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), of nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school sports, only 480,000 of them will continue to play on school teams in college*. Roughly 6% of high school athletes will play at the collegiate level. My friend was a football player, (high school boy in Texas, shocking I know) so I looked up the football statistics. Football, which has the largest participation of any NCAA sport, has an estimated 1,057,382 high school athletes and 73,063 collegiate athletes. Only 6.9% of athletes in the most popular sport in the US go on to play in college. Beyond college the percentage declines to 1.6% of those that played in college going on to play professionally.

I had one or two friends in high school that went on to play their sport in college. Those friends that played sports in high school but didn’t make it onto a collegiate team might have played on a club team their freshman year. But by this point in my life (still a poor broke college student pursuing her master’s degree) all of my friends who were athletes in high school have stopped playing their sport with any type of regularity.

It’s a lifestyle. Photo by Kate Boggan

How many of your friends that played soccer in high school still play on soccer teams? How many people do you know that started playing softball at age 30? How many former high school football players are still working with a coach and playing in games on the weekends? It is not at all uncommon to meet adult amateurs in the equestrian world that didn’t get to realize their childhood dreams of owning and riding horses until they were well out of school. It’s completely normal for the weekend warriors that haul to shows and clinics whenever they scrape up the money to do so, to have been riding since before they can remember.  I can’t think of any other sport where a 71-year-old still competes at the Olympics.

Way too often I find myself taking my life with horses for granted. I think because I have never known life without horses I sometimes forget it could be anyway else. This run in with my high school friend reminded me again just how lucky I am to be one of those crazy horse people. How lucky are we that we love a sport that we can be a part of for the rest of our lives? Horses truly are an obsession that seizes a person and causes them to do crazy things like wake up at 4 am to watch an event live-stream across the world or spend every last penny on dried grass to feed a bottomless pit of hunger. It’s impossible to understand if you aren’t one of the lucky ones, so cheers to those of us blessed with a grand passion.

Photo by Kate Boggan

*NCAA women’s equestrian programs were not included in this study.

Road to Rebecca: Meet the 2018 Area V NAYC CH-J* Team

Georgia Phillips & Menue Rendevous. Photo by Brant Gama Photography.

With all the team announcements in the recent news, the 2018 U.S. WEG Team and the U.S. Nations Cup Great Meadows and Aachen Teams, it’s time to meet the recently named Area V North American Youth Championships (NAYC) CH-J* Team. Area V, made up of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, has had several gold medal teams in the past. Meet the four horse and rider pairs looking to add to the area’s history of success.

Georgia Dillard, an eventer from Little Rock, Arkansas, had campaigned in the past for a spot on the NAYC team. It wasn’t until the purchase of her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood Galileo WP (“Warren”) in January of this year that she was able to make that dream a reality.

“Warren has helped me gain back a lot of confidence that was lost on my previous two horses on cross country,” Georgia says. “He loves his job and is extremely honest.” A very different ride from her last horse, Georgia has had to work hard to learn to ride Warren the way he needs to be ridden.

Being on the NAYC team has been a goal of Georgia’s ever since she attempted her first one-star in 2016 at the Colorado Horse Park. “I’m very thankful for Warren who has allowed me to reach this goal,” she says. “He continues to exceed my expectations every time I ride him.” She also credits her trainer Lisa Phillips for making her the rider she is today and her loving parents who have been extremely supportive through the whole process.

Excited to compete at the beautiful Rebecca Farm, she says, “I’m looking forward to sharing this amazing opportunity with three other great girls that I know have worked so hard to earn their spot on this team.”

Georgia Phillips & Menue Rendevous. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

The only mare on this year’s team is piloted by Georgia Phillips, from Houston, Texas. Menue Rendevous (“Lundee”) is a 7-year-old OTTB. Georgia found Lundee for sale on Facebook as a 4-year-old off the track and has produced the mare to the one-star level herself. Originally intended as a summer resale project, Lundee “has always surprised us all with how great she is,” says Georgia. “She has the biggest heart, and has a business woman mentality.” Georgia’s favorite thing about Lundee? “We have so much trust in each other, I think she’d do just about anything for me.”

Georgia was practically born into eventing, growing up with her mother running her own eventing program. She got her first pony when she was 4 and the rest was history. This was Georgia’s last year of eligibility for the NAYC Team at the one-star level and she says she put a lot of pressure on herself to qualify. “I tried not to get my hopes up when the selectors made their decisions, but it was hard not to,” says Georgia. “I was so excited when I was officially named.” Eager to show her dynamite mare in such a huge atmosphere, Georgia is looking forward to “our team working together and making our area proud.”

McKinsey Wickman is the only NAYC veteran on the 2018 team. The rider from North Texas and her 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse Dassett Profile (“Pro”) were a part of the CH-J* team last year and took a lot away from the experience.

“Losing the first place position after cross country was heartbreaking,” she says, “but it was a wakeup call that some things needed to change.” McKinsey has changed up her training program over the last year and has been working hard to become the rider her horse needs her to be. A big believer in cross training, she has spent many weekends at dressage and jumper shows to improve those phases and become a solid overall eventing pair. One of the greener horse and rider teams at last year’s championships, McKinsey feels they have more experience under their belts heading into this year’s competition and are looking forward to redemption.

When asked to describe her horse, McKinsey said the leggy blood bay is like, “a puppy and a Ferrari at the same time.” According to McKinsey, Pro loves attention and has a very playful personality, but when it comes to work he’s all business. McKinsey bought Pro from Lillian Heard in 2015 and brought the gelding up from the Training level. “Pro has the biggest heart of any horse I have ever had the chance to ride.” Her best friend and confidant, “There is no other horse I would want to travel around the country with.”

Annah Yoder & Ernie. Photo by Brit Randolf Photography.

Another North Texas eventer, Annah Yoder, and her 15-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse Ern More Cash (“Ernie”) are excitedly looking forward to their first team experience. Ernie is Annah’s first horse and together they have competed from the Beginner Novice to the one-star level. Annah describes Ernie as “Mr. Happy” and says, “Nothing fazes him. He’s always ready to work and he always tries his hardest.” Having only been competing since 2014, Ernie’s natural talent and positive attitude has made the journey to the NAYC a rewarding and fun one. “He’s always ready and eager to do whatever is set in front of him.”

While this will be the first team experience for Annah and Ernie, the pair made the trip to Rebecca Farm last summer to qualify for the NAYC. Annah says, “For me it was the event of the year and I can’t wait to be back!” When asked what she is most looking forward to, Annah answered, “Getting the opportunity to learn what it means to be on the team and getting to go about the experience with some of the best people I know.”

With the Event at Rebecca Farm and the NAYC only two weeks away, competitors across the country are making their final preparations for the event of the summer. Area V wishes everyone participating safe travels and a special good luck to our girls representing us. Have a great ride!

Video created by Annah Yoder.

Beating the Heat: Area V Eventers Take on the Texas Summer at the July Pine Hill Schooling H.T.

Marcella Pinell & Amplified on course in the Open Training division. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Dust from the Sahara and a triple digit heat index didn’t stop 55 tough horses and riders from sweating it out in Bellville, Texas, on Sunday. The July 1, 2018 Greater Houston Combined Training Association (GHCTA) Schooling H.T. separated the men from the boys (or the studs from the colts) with only the craziest of the crazies daring to attempt a one day horse trial in the middle of the Texas summer. Pine Hill offers levels from Green as Grass (Starter) through Intermediate/Prelim and is a favorite venue of Area V eventers.

No jackets here! Tea Pawa & A Beautiful Lark. Photo by Troy Roane Photography.

The show kicked off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. with the temperature at a cool 85 degrees. Jackets never even crossed riders’ minds and those cute show shirts we buy with fun patterns and lace cut-outs finally got to be shown off. Sun hats were the popular item of the day and the smell of sunscreen mixed with the familiar scents of fly spray and showsheen. Thanks to the incredible jump crew and the cooperation of the competitors, show jumping ran ahead of time the whole day and wrapped up 10 minutes earlier than expected.

Humans and horses seeking refuge in the shade. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The Three Bears would have been proud as Pine Hill’s not-too-big, not-too-small, but just right, Goldilocks level had the largest number of competitors for the day. Adult armatures bringing up new young horses or just cruising at the lower levels could be seen in the warm up arenas next to the adorable ponies and their young pilots. Friends and family roamed the show grounds taking pictures, toting water bottles, and stealing precious seconds in the shade wondering why their horse crazy relatives do this.

Looking pretty in pink! Avery Daigle & FR’s Check It Out Now. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Cross country went smoothly and riders with subtle navy and white colors were followed by those with pink, lime green, and turquoise. Pine Hill held a special “Go Watchless” contest for riders in the Novice, Beginner Novice, Goldilocks and Green as Grass levels. An award was given at each level for the rider that came closest to optimum time without a watch and special wristbands were handed out at the cross country start box to designate the riders participating in the fun challenge.

Between the trees, Julianna Pohoski & Miracle Save running Novice. Photo by Kate Boggan.

In an almost unheard of record the last rider finished on cross country by 1 p.m. By the end of the day bad tan lines had been made worse and everyone went home safe. Thank you to Pine Hill for putting on such a fun show. Thank you to all the competitors who came out to enjoy the sport we love. And thank you to all the volunteers who make this and all other events possible!

Sierra Rooney & Ooh La La jumping Noah’s Ark. Photo by Troy Roane Photography.

Congratulations to the following division winners! See the full results here:

Open Preliminary CT: Rene Rios & One Lark One Legend (43.1)

Open Training CT: Kennedy Wheeler & Jos Estoico (32.4)

Open Training HT: Janet Marden & Flagmount’s Top Cat (33.8)

Open Novice CT: Alexis Ellison & Lucky One’s Hailo (31.7)

Open Novice HT: Abigale Roelke & Grand Lad (30.7)

Open Beginner Novice CT: Sydney Moss & RATATATAT (36.3)

Open Beginner Novice HT A: Lindsay Holliday & Numba One Stunna (33.0)

Open Beginner Novice HT B: Anika Hawes & Silver Charm (35.5)

Open Goldilocks CT: Sierra Roney & Roman Empire (42.1)

Open Goldilocks HT A: Alexis Ellison & Parqueterie (38.9)

Open Goldilocks HT B: Hannah Lewis & Where’s My Sock? (34.4)

Open Green as Grass CT: Aislin S. McStay & Knock Your Socks Off (41.8)

The Horses That Heal Us

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” – Winston Churchill. Photo by Kate Boggan.

It is a phenomenon that is represented throughout literature, movies and even some country songs; horses have a miraculous ability to capture people’s hearts. I have yet to come across a person who can’t at least admit that horses are beautiful creatures. I have met plenty who are scared of their large size, or aren’t too fond of the way they smell, but I do not know a human being that doesn’t in some way appreciate horses. Equestrians are the lucky ones whose DNA programs them to go beyond a general appreciation and instead be consumed by an overwhelming passion.

This passion leads to many different avenues for horse enthusiasts. Some of us pursue professional careers within the equine industry as riders, trainers, breeders or vets. Some of us turn into weekend warriors hauling our trusty steeds to shows, events, trail rides or rodeos. And some of us simply enjoy the company of these magnificent animals as they happily graze through the years and fill our hearts with joy.

It’s hard not to smile when you have such an amazing partner. Photo by Shannon Boggan.

These horses that bring us so much happiness can also bring healing. My freshman year of high school my parents bought me the horse that was going to take me through Prelim. Natural Disaster (Nate) was an 8-year-old OTTB and was going to be my serious competition horse. Nate took me to my first Novice and then my first recognized show. We qualified for the American Eventing Championships that first year of competition. Nate was the biggest dork of a horse and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He got angry at himself when he hit rails and one of his favorite treats was glazed donuts. Nate was everything I could have dreamed of until he wasn’t.

The summer of 2011 we learned my beautiful horse had kidney disease and the vet gave him three years to live. Nate didn’t make it to that September. As a junior in high school I experienced my first heartbreak, not from a high school boy, but from having to say goodbye to my best friend in the whole world. Everyone who has ever lost a beloved horse will know exactly what a heart shattering and painful experience it is. I cried every day for a good two months and then at least once a week for a while after that. Friends at the barn left flowers and cards at Nate’s stall and I spent a lot of time looking through pictures of Nate and me trying to wrap my head around the fact that he was really gone.

Sometime in the month or so after we had to put Nate down one of the wonderful ladies at the barn offered me a ride on her retired event horse. Handsome Ran Some was a 20-year-old OTTB and to this day is one of the hottest horses I have ever sat on. His owner Lori Sitez let me bring the tall, dark and handsome horse out of retirement so I had something to ride. While I never officially owned Ran Some, that winter he became my horse and I became his kid.

His first time swimming and he was such a good sport. Photo by Shannon Boggan.

I spent jump lessons hanging on for dear life and laughing with glee as Ran Some barreled down to each fence like he was worried the fence would try to run away if he didn’t get there fast enough. We went to local schooling shows and trail rides at the barn. I’ll never forget the day a group of us decided to take the horses swimming in the pond at the back of the property. Lori pulled up to the barn right as I was getting on Ran Some bareback and I thought Lori was going to have a heart attack. She couldn’t believe I was brave/dumb enough to ride Ran Some bareback out on the trails. Lori was sure he would lose his mind and I would have a long walk home. But he did no such thing and the only casualty of the trip was a baseball cap that I’m sure is still sunk in the mud in the middle of the pond.

In another year I once again had a horse of my own and Ran Some went back to being retired. I still gave him cookies every day when I walked by his stall and I would pull him out every once in a while to keep his mane pulled and give him a good bath or a brush. I moved off to college and our barn back home closed and Ran Some moved with Lori to the new boarding facility she and her husband opened up, Fine Print Farms.

The old man still had some moves! Photo by Shannon Boggan.

I am now entering my second year of my master’s program and have started working with a new young horse. Last night around midnight I got a text from Lori. The now 27-year-old handsome Ran Some isn’t doing too well. He’s become cushingoid over the past few years and is now having some neurological problems. My phone screen became blurry as I attempted to type a response through the tears welling up in my eyes. Ran Some and I never went to a recognized show, never qualified for any championships, we never won any huge class, and we never even jumped higher than 2’9″. I didn’t own Ran Some and I only rode him for about a year. In that year Ran Some did more for me to heal my broken heart than any person was able to. Ran Some was the first horse I loved after I lost Nate and he will always hold a treasured spot in my heart for helping me find joy in the saddle again.

I’ll be making a trip home to San Antonio, Texas, next weekend to give Lori a hug and hopefully see Ran Some one last time. I know there will be lots of tears and I’ll feel that familiar ache in my heart again — it’s the price we pay to love something so deeply. I know soon Ran Some and Nate will be happily grazing together waiting for their humans to return along with all the other beloved horses in those endless green pastures. And I know that just like Ran Some did for me seven years ago there will be a little OTTB mare waiting for me at the barn to bring me joy and healing.

You were deeply loved and you will be deeply missed. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Road to AEC: A Horse of a Different Color

Sofia Del Aguila and Highlander at the Texas Rose Horse Park Spring H.T. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships will take place at the Colorado Horse Park this September. Horses and riders across the country are making their final preparations as we head into the home stretch before the event. One horse that is sure to catch your eye one the cross country field is Sofia Del Aguila’s Percheron x Paint, Highlander.

This horse turns heads everywhere he goes. Photo by Kate Boggan.

In a sea of bays, chestnuts and grays the 15-year-old black and white paint stands out from your typical eventing warm up arena, not to mention above it. The 17-hand gelding was originally bred to foxhunt but found his calling in eventing with owner Julie Lobaugh. Julie and Highlander competed through the Preliminary level and made appearances at several AECs of their own. Highlander became a familiar face and gained celebrity status in Area V. When Julie’s life became busy with children and young horses, it was time for Highlander to find a new partner to continue his eventing career.

Sofia Del Aguila learned the ropes of eventing on her Trakehner x Thoroughbred mare, Rumor Has It (Adele), and the pair competed from the Starter level through Novice. In 2017 they made the trip to the Bluegrass State to compete at Pony Club Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. “I could not have asked for a better first horse,” says Sofia. But the 19-year-old mare had reached her limit at the Novice level and Sofia needed a new horse to move up the levels on.

Wanting to find a horse with experience at Prelim, Sofia struggled to find something she could afford. Life has a funny way of working out and the trainer of the family that bought Sofia’s mare knew Julie Lobaugh was looking for someone to lease her Prelim horse Highlander. Sofia called her own trainer to ask her opinion on the horse and her exact words were: “Call right now! You NEED Highlander, Sofia … hang up the phone and call NOW!” A few weeks later Sofia and her mom were driving to Dallas, Texas, to bring Highlander home to Houston.

Highlander looking less dragon like in his dressage. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Sofia and Highlander have spent the last year getting to know each other, and as all partnerships do it has taken time for the pair to figure each other out. Sofia has been working to calm Highlander down in dressage where he “literally turns into a fire breathing dragon,” and adjusting to having so much horse underneath her. “The biggest challenge I’ve faced with him so far has been keeping control of his outside shoulder and keeping him straight. For such a big horse he is super flexible,” says Sofia.

Learning curves aside, so far the beautiful gelding has been exactly what Sofia had hoped for. “Most of my goals are to improve myself,” she says. “That’s the whole idea behind getting a horse with experience that you know is going to take care of you. That’s why Highlander has been great for improving my riding.” While Sofia is still learning how to manage Highlander’s excessive energy in dressage, she says the horse is an absolute beast on cross country.

Highlander doing what he does best. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The pair moved up to Training level this past January and will be traveling to Georgia for the Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials in July. Sofia and Highlander competed at both the spring and summer Texas Rose Horse Trials to qualify for the AEC and went to several schooling shows in the area to polish up their performance. Never having competed at an AEC herself, Sofia wants to feel that she has worked all the kinks out and that she and Highlander will make their AEC debut as a really competitive pair at Training level.

“He tolerates my goofiness.” Photo by Sarah Bonnaure.

When asked what her favorite thing about Highlander is, Sofia says: “His character. He’s such a goof and he tolerates my goofiness.” Sofia hopes to move up to Prelim within the next year and is grateful for the chance to learn from a horse with a “been there, done that” attitude. According to Sofia, “If Highlander could talk, on the daily I would get a ‘Dude, what are you even doing? Chill! I know what to do.'”

In a little over two months competitors from across the country will be arriving at the Colorado Horse Park for the 15th annual AEC. While enjoying the beautiful views and spectacular displays of horsemanship, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Highlander and Sofia. She’ll be on the big black and white paint, wearing the biggest smile out there.

Definition of a Heart Horse

Louisisansdecision “Louie” aka my heart horse. Photo by Shannon Boggan.

If you stay in the horse industry long enough eventually you will hear someone use the term “heart horse.” It’s passed around in conversation and floats around on social media as a hashtag. The term is typically meant to distinguish one horse in particular over all the others an individual has had a partnership with during their riding career. But going back and looking at the horses that have received this honor, my recently retired event horse included, there’s a great deal of variation in the horses themselves. So my question is: what is the definition of a heart horse?

When you search #hearthorse on Instagram or Facebook the results flood your screen with pictures of everything from backyard trail partners to four-star eventers. Some of these horses are running barrel patterns while others are prized pasture ornaments. Many have lots of ribbons and awards to their name and just as many seem to have never set foot in the show arena. Occupation or performance doesn’t seem to play much of a role in a horse earning this title.

They aren’t often what we expect, but they’re what we need. My friend Kendall Baker on her heart horse Demi. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Perhaps a horse’s personality makes them a heart horse. While it would be easy to expect a heart horse to be sweet and loving and look at you with adoring eyes each time you set foot in the barn, I can use my personal experience to prove that is not necessarily the case. There were days that my horse would be personable and affectionate, but more often than not he was your stereotypical OTTB with sensitive skin and enough personality quirks to make up for every mild mannered horse I’ve ever come across.

I’ve watched a friend and their heart horse begin to reach for the upper levels of competition only to be met with set back after set back and struggle to regain confidence at the lower levels of their sport for the past several years. But the horse remains my friend’s heart horse whether they finish in the ribbons or they finish on a letter. This same person just before they acquired their prized pony was competing and winning all over the country on a different horse and yet that one never earned the title of heart horse.

A heart horse isn’t always the obvious choice. No one else may understand the connection; as my mom always told me “It’s a good thing you love Louie, because no one else would.” But these horses that earn the title of heart horse are perhaps a different creature than the horse you might call your best horse. They aren’t necessarily the horse you can trust with your life or put even the smallest child on for a hack. A heart horse doesn’t always give you piles of ribbons or make all your riding peers envious (sometimes they make them pity you). They aren’t always the most consistent horses and heaven knows they aren’t always the bomb proof ones.

The flip horse that just never went up for sale. Amanda Chance on Henry. Photo by Kate Boggan.

A heart horse may not always give you an easy ride, but when they do they are the sweetest experiences to revel in. Many times a heart horse is intentional, purchased to be your next great partner and selected with the upmost care out of hundreds of others. But I’ve also seen many heart horses that were accidents: a horse to ride while you’re in between horses, a flip project you just couldn’t bring yourself to sell, a horse someone gave you because they had nowhere else to go.

So what is a heart horse? As best as I can understand and put into words, a heart horse is a horse whose soul compliments your own. When you are in sync they make you feel like you can conquer the world. When you walk out to the barn they are the first pair of ears you want to see. They may not be the easiest horse in the world, but when the chips are down they will give you everything they have. I find it easy to fall in love with horses, I always have. But the heart horses are the ones that give you their heart in return and those are the horses we cherish above all others.

My heart horse giving me his all. Photo by Shannon Boggan. 

Do you have a heart horse? Tell us about them in the comments!

Adventures in the Real World: Laundry Day

The adventure begins. Photo courtesy of Kate Boggan.

Every eventer, four-star riders to starters, has at least one thing in common: copious amounts of laundry. It’s inevitable that you’ll have saddle pads, blankets, wraps, etc. that will be soaked in sweat, feces, urine, mud, or more likely a combination of all of the above. Some of you may be methodical and on top of your laundry, but if you’re like my friends and me, you’ll have put off laundry day week after week until you’ve acquired a pile so fragrant and foul it puts even the smelliest boys’ locker room to shame.

At this point you’re faced with a dilemma. Do you wash the smelly, hair covered pads and blankets at home and risk angering all the non-horsey humans you live with? Or do you brave the normal human world and try to find a laundromat that won’t kick you out as soon as the first bit of shavings hit the floor? My friends and I gathered our courage and opted for the later. Living in a college town does come with its perks. College Station, Texas is home to an establishment called Harvey Washbangers. Half laundromat, half bar and grill, Harvey Washbangers has a very tasty menu including some of the best burgers in town and even made the Texas Bucket List.

There was a very distinct smell coming from our corner of the room. Photo courtesy of Kate Boggan.

We arrived at our destination and tried to walk in without being noticed. No such luck. The manager held the door for us as we lugged our hampers of horse laundry inside. We chose the washing machines in the back corner of the laundromat and attempted to be as discreet as possible while frantically stuffing winter blankets in the front loaders. But living in Texas with all our dang southern hospitality makes an outing without human interaction next to impossible. A friendly employee walked over to us to make sure we knew how to work the machines properly and spotted our contraband. My heart dropped into my belly when he said, “Oh horse laundry,” and I was ready for the boot. But all he said was “I wondered what that earthy smell was.” I was so relieved I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that wasn’t an earthy smell; it was ammonia from horse urine.

You don’t even have to get up to check on your laundry. Photo courtesy of Kate Boggan.

Four washing machines full and our anxieties relieved, we headed to the grill part of the building. The chorizo burger (only in Texas) was to die for and the sweet potato fries are top notch. At the end of the bar there’s a light board with blue and red bulbs numbered in correspondence to the washers and dryers in the back room so you can watch for your machine to be done. Harvey Washbangers likes to tell its patrons they can “Eat and drink ‘til your lights go out,” a welcome invitation to eventers!

Every horse person knows this struggle. Photo courtesy of Kate Boggan.

By the end of lunch our laundry was done and all that remained was to untangle my knots of polo wraps. We weren’t kicked out of the laundromat and we only got a few weird looks and wrinkled noses. It was actually a pretty fun day. Everything, even laundry, is better when done with friends (especially is food is involved). While you’ll have to travel to College Station if you want to visit Harvey Washbangers, I think some entrepreneurial minded horse person needs to take this business model and run with it. I want a chain of sports bar/laundromats across the country with cross country live streams on the TVs and “horse laundry welcome” signs on all the doors!

How to Throw the Ultimate LRK3DE Cross Country Watch Party

Stay properly hydrated while watching cross country. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The #BestWeekendAllYear is almost here! Here’s how to maximize your cross country day live stream goodness:

  1. Come to terms with the fact that you can’t fit in your trainer’s suitcase and actually go to Kentucky (*ahem* Amanda Merritt).
  2. Remind yourself that it is no longer Rolex. Write Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event 100 times on a chalkboard.
  3. Decide to throw a cross country watch party and create a Facebook event accordingly.
  4. Invite all your horsey and non-horsey friends knowing full well only your fellow equine enthusiasts will come.
  5. Realize your TV is much too small to do the cross country awesomeness justice and make arrangements to borrow/steal your neighbor’s flat screen for the day.
  6. Call the USEF and re-activate that account you made back in middle school, when you thought you would have done your first one-star by now … *sigh.*
  7. Confirm you have a thorough understanding of North American time zones so you don’t miss a single second of the amazingness.
  8. Decide the mid-morning cross country phase start time makes your party the perfect event for a brunch, complete with mimosas.
  9. Contemplate LRK3DE themed decorations, but decide dog hair, muddy barn boots, and tack waiting to be cleaned gives it a more authentic feel.
  10. Reschedule your carefully planned college finals studying to be crammed into Sunday afternoon once the awards ceremony is complete.
  11. Download the LRK3DE app (click here for iOS or here for Android) so you can brush up on horse and rider stats and keep track of dressage live scores while you’re in class or at work Thursday and Friday.
  12. Obsess over every LRK3DE article and news release for maximum hype build up.

#LRK3DE Links: WebsiteRide TimesScheduleLive StreamLive ScoresCourse PreviewEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Cross Country and Cow Sense: An Eventer Tries Her Hand at Reined Cow Horse

My sweet ride Shiny Sugar Shaker.

Firsts are always memorable. Reading a hunter’s account of their first event, or watching a reiner ride a show jumper gives you a sense of anticipation. Will they be successful? Will they enjoy their experience? Watching others experience eventing for the first time renews my passion for the sport. So when I wound up in grad school and became close friends with a rider whose equine sport of choice is Reined Cow Horse, I decided to flip the script. Heels down and grab mane for: An Eventer Tries to Be a Cowgirl.

Reined Cow Horse is truly the western counterpart to Eventing. In competitions run by the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA), horse and rider compete in three events. Reined work tests the horse’s ability to be willingly guided through a pattern. Herd work, or cutting, shows a horse and rider’s ability to select a cow out of the herd and keep it out. Fence work demonstrates the pair’s ability to work a single cow in a series of maneuvers and maintain control of that cow. In the cow horse world they refer to this as “maintaining a working advantage.” Cow horses must be versatile enough to take a variety of training and athletic enough to excel in events that each require a very different set of skills. Sound familiar?

Just like in the English world where dressage and show jumping are standalone sports, reining and cutting are also their own respective sports with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA). But just like cross country, fence work only exists in reined cow horse shows. “Going down the fence” is what draws people to the sport. It’s high intensity, high adrenaline and can make or break your show. Unlike eventing, each event in a cow horse show is scored by a panel of judges. The scores from all three events are added up and the total highest score wins.

When I started my Equine Industry Management graduate program at Texas A&M University in the fall of 2017, I had the pleasure of meeting Brooke Wharton. A fellow grad student and horse enthusiast, Brooke introduced me to the sport of Reined Cow Horse by inviting me to the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity at the Will Rodgers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. Among the attractions at the event was a special showing of the documentary Down the Fence, which followed the stories of several professional reined cow horse trainers on their road to the Snaffle Bit Futurity. The movie brought me to tears, and I was hooked.

I opted for my Charles Owen instead of a cowboy hat. #mindyourmelon

I’m fortunate to live in Texas, where Reined Cow Horse is one of the more popular equestrian sports. Through some of Brooke’s connections, I was introduced to Matlock Rice, the head trainer and owner of Matlock Rice Performance Horses. He graciously allowed Brooke and me to come out and ride some of his cow horses. Matlock introduced me to my horse, Shiny Sugar Shaker. An adorable little “sorrel” mare, Matlock told me “sometimes she bucks” and I swung my leg over with a little less confidence.

We rode into the large arena, and Matlock guided me through some different reining maneuvers. Spins were pretty fun and easy to get the hang of, flying changes aren’t that different from ours, but the stops … that was a different story. As I explained to Brooke and Matlock the only time our eventers slide to a stop like that is if something has gone wrong. We never do this on purpose. Slouching in the saddle was also a new concept to me. After years of being told “Shoulders back!” it was hard to train my upper body to sink into the saddle and let my shoulders hunch and follow the motion of the horse. This is essential however if you don’t want to get thrown over your horse’s head when they tuck their butt and stop.

This is what you don’t want to happen:

But then I got the hang of things:

Once Matlock was comfortable with my reining skills it was time to get a cow. We rode out into the adjoining field and actually drove the cattle into the arena. I was beaming when Matlock told me I “made a pretty good hand” when, with little fuss, all the cattle were successfully in the pen. Matlock went in on his own horse and cut a cow out of the herd and into the arena for me. He gave me the basics, “Always ride parallel to the cow; stop straight, and watch their eyes to read what their next move will be,” and turned me loose to experiment.

Gathering the cattle.

Now, when a horse has a lot of “cow sense” they’re described as being “cowy” and man was my little mare cowy! All of us eventers can relate to that amazing feeling of being on course with your cross country machine and feeling your horse lock onto their fence and land searching for the next set of flags. There’s nothing better than being on a game horse! It’s the same with the cow horses.

As soon as that cow loped into the arena, Shiny Sugar Shaker was taking me to her. Matlock would try and coach me through the ride: “Get in front of her, go with the cow, use your outside rein to stop, kick her forward!” But Sugar was doing it all for me. I was just along for the ride. She had begrudgingly gone through the reining maneuvers with me and was gracious enough to not buck me off, but when we got in the pen with that cow her whole attitude changed. That little mare’s ears perked up and she was locked on that cow! I just had to keep my balance, and let her do the work. Much like a good jump, you set your horse up for success, and then you get out of their way.

My short ride on the cow raised my respect for this sport to a whole other level. When done well, it looks so easy. You just move the cow up and down the fence and push it in a circle each way. This experience gave me a whole new insight and appreciation to the difference in working a cow and chasing a cow. Sugar and I were more reacting to what the cow would do than actually controlling where she went. Horseback riding is challenging enough dealing with an animal that has a mind of its own, but in the cow horse events you have to factor in a second animal that doesn’t speak English!

With my interest in the sport growing, I contacted Morgan Moreno, the coach for the Texas A&M Stock Horse team. The 2017 American Stock Horse Association (ASHA) National Champions, the stock horse team is an inviting, club team that welcomes riders of all experience levels. Much like the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing program, collegiate stock horse teams have divisions for those new to the sport and divisions for those who have been competing in cow horse, ranch versatility and other western disciplines their whole lives. Morgan invited me out to the Texas A&M Team’s practice at Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas, to learn a bit more about how the sport works at the collegiate level.

Texas A&M Stock Horse Team member Jaci Marley and her gelding Hickory’s Chic Olena working a cow

The Texas A&M Stock Horse team holds tryouts in both the fall and spring semesters. Students can compete with their own horses or ride horses provided by the school. Riders are paired up with one horse that they will show for that semester with the team. Based on their experience level and show record, riders are put into one of three divisions: Novice, Limited Non-Pro and Non-Pro. Once a student wins an event at their current level, the next calendar year they are required to move up to the next level.

Texas A&M Stock Horse Team member Nolan Self and his mare Light Dots demonstrating a proper sliding stop.

I spent the afternoon watching team members run through their reining patterns and work cattle. Towards the end of the evening, Morgan let me get on her young horse, TAMU Itsa NuDeelight, and sort cattle in the back pens for team riders to practice on. Just starting out in her career, Deelight didn’t have the same refined skills with the cattle that Sugar did, but just like the rest of the horses on the team she knows her job is to move those cows and she loves it!

All in all, I had a pretty great time getting to try a new sport and check another thing off my equine bucket list. Reined Cow Horse is a demanding event – my abs were hurting in ways I didn’t know they could – and for an adrenaline junky eventer like me, it was right up my alley. I am definitely going to continue taking all the opportunities I can to learn and ride some more cow horses. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go out for the Stock Horse team this fall!

Thank you so much to Brooke Wharton, Ben Baldus, Matlock Rice, Morgan Moreno and the Texas A&M Stock Horse Team for helping this eventer be a cowgirl for a few days!

Flags, Frogs, Ponies and Pooches: A Report from Texas Rose Horse Park H.T.

Sarah Goodyear and Flagmount’s Harmony on course in Senior Training Rider. Photo by Kate Boggan.

When people say everything is bigger in Texas, they aren’t kidding. The Texas Rose Horse Park held its March horse trial this past weekend, March 29-31, in Tyler, Texas. Riders from the Starter level all the way through Intermediate were welcomed by newly redesigned courses and a plethora of additional events and activities to enjoy.

A Big Weekend for Ponies, Pups …

Thursday featured USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) and Future Event Horse (FEH) competition while the horse trial ran Friday and Saturday. Texas Rose also hosted its first Intercollegiate Challenge with the TCU Horned Frogs and the Texas A&M Aggies facing off. Friday evening’s headline event was the Pony Challenge, wherein teams of one pro, one adult rider and one young rider donned crazy costumes and competed for crowd approval to benefit Area V rider programs.

If all of that wasn’t enough to keep you entertained over the weekend, the United States Dog Agility Association hosted an agility trial in the Horse Park’s indoor arena Friday and Saturday. Check out the local paper’s report on that here.

Congrats to the following horse trial division winners! See complete results here:

Open Intermediate: Ryleigh Leavitt & MoonLight Crush (35.0)
Open Preliminary: Kadi Eykamp & Ole Boy (31.7)
Preliminary Rider: Georgia Dillard & Galileo WP (25.9)
Junior Training Rider: Harper Petty & Obi-Wan Kenobi (29.1)
Open Training: LeeAnn McQuade & Corp Trip (35.5)
Senior Training Rider: Rebecca Hunt & Snowflake Lane (26.7)
Training Horse: Angela Bowles & Rocktop Dreamer (29.1)
Junior Novice Rider: Vienna Allport & Caramel Macchiato (31.0)
Novice Horse: Tayler Owen & Joint Ventures Remy Martin (27.6)
Open Novice: Nicole Hatley & Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix (27.6)
Senior Novice Rider-A: Angie Mitchell & Smiling’s My Favorite (34.0)
Senior Novice Rider-B: Katie Grace Bond & High Class (32.9)
Junior Beginner Novice Rider-A: Makenzie Lowe & Addie Okie (36.4)
Junior Beginner Novice Rider-B: Miriam Copeland & D’Stinctive (22.8)
Open Beginner Novice: Angela Bowles & Woodstock Classic Rock (28.6)
Senior Beginner Novice Rider: Janet Taylor & Zarpazo (26.4)
Starter: Elle Snyder & You Have A Friend In Me (26.1)

The lowest finishing score in the country of the weekend belonged to Miriam Copeland and D’Stinctive, who scored a 22.8 in the Junior Beginner Novice Rider B division.  Well-done, Miriam!

… and Frogs!

TCU White Team rider Hannah McKee and Ultimate Element. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The Texas Rose Horse Park’s first Intercollegiate Challenge brought in three teams of collegiate riders, two from TCU and one from Texas A&M. The TCU White Team — Clara Cargile (I), Caroline Madden (P) and Hannah McKee (T) — led the competition from start to finish ending on a combined score of 101.3. #GoFrogs! The TCU Purple Team took second and the Texas A&M Team took third.

Flagmount Babies Abound

Janet Marden and Flagmount’s Top Cat. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Many of us saw Doug Payne’s helmet cam video of the lovely mare Flagmount’s Mischief at the Carolina International. While “Missy” enjoyed her CIC3* debut last weekend, several of her siblings were competing at Texas Rose over Easter weekend.

Natalie Lester and Flagmount’s Patronus Charm. Photo by Kate Boggan.

The Flagmount babies come from Dr. Janet Marden’s ISH stallion Flagmount’s Freedom. Janet had always wanted to breed an Irish horse, as she admired them for their big bones and soundness. After vet school she shipped frozen semen from Ireland and bred one of her own Thoroughbred mares. Flagmount’s Freedom was the result.

“Flag” and Janet competed through the two-star level and the grey stallion then went on to take Janet’s daughter, Natalie Lester, through her first Intermediate as a barefoot 17-year-old. Flag has been a breeding stallion since he was four and has produced upper level professional mounts as well as horses suitable for amateurs to move up the levels on. At any given show in Area V you’re sure to see at least one Flagmount horse entered and more often, like at Texas Rose, there will be a whole list of Flag babies in the field.

Flagmount’s Allstar has got some hops! Photo by Kate Boggan.

Janet and Natalie were both aboard Flag babies this weekend. Janet competed Flagmount’s Allstar in the Open Intermediate and Flagmount’s Top Cat in the Training Horse Division. Natalie, who has started her own training and coaching business named after their wonder stallion – Flags A’Flying Equestrian – competed Flagmount’s Patronus Charm in the Open Intermediate. Flagmount’s Harmony and Flagmount’s Rebel both competed in the Senior Training Rider division with their respective riders, Sarah Goodyear and Clarissa Bliss. Even the FEH competition had a Flagmount horse.

Flagmount’s Rebel and Clarissa Bliss. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Flagmount’s Worth the Wait is appropriately named, says owner Alexandria Larue. Alex purchased the breeding five years before they were able to get a live foal. The black yearling filly is everything she could have dreamed of and Alex plans for “Saoirse” to be her next upper level mount. She competed against Flag when he was going Intermediate and fell in love with him: “He was always easygoing, always easy to handle at shows, he was always competitive and from there we knew we wanted a Flag baby.” Saoirse’s dam is a spicy Irish Thoroughbred who has a tendency to be a little hot, so Flag’s easygoing attitude was the perfect complement to produce an upper level event prospect with a lot of blood and a great brain.

Flagmount’s Worth the Wait competing in the FEH division. Photo by Kate Boggan.

Texas Rose Horse Park hosts two more USEA events this year: its Summer H.T. May 11-18, featuring Starter through Advanced-Intermediate horse trials as well as a CCI1* and CIC2*, and its Fall H.T., featuring Starter through Intermediate horse trials.

Go Area V Eventing!

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. [Website] [Results]