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Lauren Billys Shares Her Respiratory Health Routine

Lauren Billys (Puerto Rico) and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Two-time Olympic eventer Lauren Billys learned about equine respiratory problems the hard way.

The rude awakening occurred when her 2016 Rio Games partner Castle Larchfield Purdy was coming back to work after a serious colic in 2018. “After his first cross-country run, I noticed that his breathing sounded really different. Almost like he was roaring.

“That took us down the whole rabbit hole looking into respiratory health,” she recounts. Long story short, Lauren developed a management routine so effective that Purdy was able to condition for and compete at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics – at 19, no less.

Along with getting a second Olympics with Purdy, Lauren gained knowledge and experience that now help protect the respiratory and overall health of all the horses in her training program in Northern California.

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by The West Equestrian.

Happy to help others benefit from what she’s learned, Lauren shares these tips for minimizing respiratory risks in our horses’ environments—the #1 veterinary recommendation for this area of equine health.

Lauren recently purchased her own property and has complete control over the horses’ management. Respiratory health is a top priority. “It’s part of the way we live and breathe.” The ability to manage all horses is an advantage. “It’s hard to treat or manage just one horse,” she notes. “It’s best when the whole barn lives the lifestyle.”

Paddocks covered in wood chips help tamper down dust. Photo courtesy of Lauren Billys Shady.

Lauren’s Dust Busting Tips:

1. In our part of Northern California, we have a lot of silica in the soil. That is bad for horses’ breathing, so we really manage the whole property to keep it as dust free as possible.

2. We cover our paddocks in wood chips. I found a local tree trimming company that needed a place to dump their chips. I specified no holly, elderberry, poison oak or other trees that can be harmful to horses. We have virtually no dust in our paddocks.

We also spread a little bit of wood chips onto our dirt roads, then compress them into the surface. Some properties water their roads, but with California’s drought situation I didn’t want to do that. The chips are a little labor intensive, but otherwise very inexpensive to do and it really helps keep the dust down.

3. Every turn-out has a mat under the feed bucket, which cuts down on the amount of dust our horses inhale when they eat off the ground. It also reduces the risk of sand colic.

4. We feed our horses Haygain Steamed Hay. That was a game-changer for Purdy when he was diagnosed with Inflammatory Airway Disease in 2019. Now all of our high-performance horses get it as a preventative measure. We have the full-bale steamer at home, which our guys find very easy to use. And we go to shows with the travel size models: we used the smallest model, the HG ONE, at Tokyo.

5. We chose Footing First’s dust free arena footing when we had to re-do the formerly Western arena at our new property. Their product is a geo-textile blended with silica sand, which is OK because it’s treated with a binding agent that contains the dust.

6. Our horses live outside at least half the time. That’s good for their mental and physical health and it’s good because a lot of dust inhalation happens when they’re in the barn. We keep them inside at night, when there is less activity in the barn that could stir up dust.

7. We don’t use blowers when horses are inside the barn. That’s bad for anybody’s breathing. In fact, our maintenance guys have worn masks in the barn for that reason – well before COVID.

8. We wipe down all the flat surfaces in the barn at least once a week. It keeps things looking nice and helps remove dust.

9. We brush back the shavings in the stalls so the horses eat off their mat, not the shavings. That keeps their stalls cleaner and cuts down on the amount of dust they inhale because bedding, like hay, is a main source of respirable irritants in the equine environment.

10. We monitor all our horses for respiratory issues because I know from experience how often and easily these conditions can go undiagnosed. For one horse, coughing once or twice at the beginning of a ride was the only sign to what wound up being diagnosed as Inflammatory Airway Disease.

11. We also monitor carefully for allergies. Whenever a horse gets diarrhea, coughing or hives, we run an allergy panel on them. The best company we’ve found is Spectrum. We’ve found their serum testing and allergy relief sprays very helpful.

Brushing back shavings means horses eat straight off the mat and don’t ingest or inhale bedding. Photo courtesy of Lauren Billys Shady.

After Tokyo, Purdy stepped down from the international level and is helping one of Lauren’s students learn the ropes at Preliminary. “He is good and happy and I am so grateful to have him at the barn,” Lauren says. “One of the many things for which I’m grateful to him is learning the respiratory health routines that I now apply proactively to all our horses.”

Be Your Horse’s Hero: The Haygain Way, Holistic Care, Optimal Health

Karen Laidley, DVM

This post is brought to you in partnership with:

Karen Laidley, DVM, would like to put herself out of business.

“I want to give owners the tools to need me less,” says the equine veterinarian whose Central Oregon facility is a hub of holistic horse care and training. A lifelong equestrian, Dr. Laidley has been learning and leaning more into whole-horse thinking in recent years.

She’s not alone.

“There is more of a movement in the equine industry where owners are going to speak up more and want better for their horses,” says Dr. Laidley, a 1998 graduate of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “People are asking why their horse only has three to five years at the top of their career. Why are they breaking down earlier? The more we can empower owners and trainers to look deeper into those questions, the more we are going to have these needed discussions.”

The pandemic pushed this trend. “People have more time to spend with their horses: they are starting to trust themselves and ask questions. For so long, people were almost intimidated to ask questions. The fact that everybody was doing something one way does not mean it has to continue that way.”

After many years serving the community at a mixed animal veterinary practice, Dr. Laidley narrowed her focus to horses only. She then opened her scope of study to all aspects and ideas regarding their optimal physical and mental health.

Filling A Knowledge Void

Saddle fit, podiatry and dental care are a few of the many paths she’s pursuing. Being a rider is an advantage. “It helps me see and feel the holes that exist for horses and the ways that we can help to round out their education and improve their health and well-being.  That is a void in veterinary medicine that I’d like to fill.”

Saddle fit was the crux of an early eye-opener for Dr. Laidley. It involved Buzz (aka “Snow Globe Effect”), an eventing partner the 3* rider hoped might take her to the Kentucky Three-Day Event and beyond. That dream was nixed by an injury that eluded diagnosis.

While seeking to help Buzz, Dr. Laidley was recommended to a session with Master Saddle Fitter Jochen Schleese, founder of Schleese Saddlery Service and the Saddle Fit 4 Life education programs. She was sponsored by another saddle maker at the time, yet she agreed to a fitting and trialed a Schleese saddle. “My horse went from being a little off to a lot off,” Dr. Laidley recalls.

While that was the opposite of what she’d hoped for, it illustrated “what happens when you free up the horse’s back: it allows them to blossom into their real self. And it shows how much they try to hide from us because they are prey animals.”

Buzz’s injury was eventually diagnosed as a proximal suspensory tear. It was treated appropriately and has healed completely.  He is now integral to Dr. Laidley’s drive to achieve her US Dressage Federation medals, and Dr. Laidley is now a certified Schleese saddle ergonomist herself and utilizes that knowledge as part of an ever-bigger tool kit to evaluate and tend to horses in her care.

Bringing These Ideas to the Barn

Fruition Farm was conceived as a facility for the veterinarian’s own horses, not as a boarding or training business. “I was doing it for our own horses, and I did a ton of research on every aspect of the barn.”

Like many savvy horse people, she prioritized flooring in the early design and budget phases.

In the flooring and bedding realm, Dr. Laidley searched for a solution to improve barn air quality from a respiratory health perspective. She also favored flooring that could be easily cleaned and sanitized. All those searches led Dr. Laidley to ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, by Haygain. “In doing the research, I found out about the quality of ComfortStall and that’s how I ended up with it.”

That was 15 years ago. Fruition Farm’s five 14’ x 20’ stalls are still “beautiful,” the veterinarian states. “They are as perfect now as when we put them in!”

It has fulfilled Dr. Laidley’s various objectives in purchasing it: providing comfort for horses on stall rest or recovering from sedation and foaling mares. Sanitization has been as easy as advertised.

Even though Fruition Farm’s horses live outside with individual shelters and heated waterers, Dr. Laidley wanted them on supportive flooring for whatever hours they were indoors. “I wanted them to be on something that I’d want to be on.”

ComfortStall’s layer of orthopedic foam provides cushion for deep rest and sleep, without the need of bedding. Only enough bedding to absorb urine is required. Reducing bedding improves stable air quality because most bedding is loaded with respirable irritants. Bedding and hay are the biggest sources of these microscopic irritants that are the main cause of surprisingly common respiratory challenges, including inflammatory airway disease (IAD).

The respiratory benefits of ComfortStall are furthered by a single-piece durable rubber top cover that seals to the stall wall. The impermeable surface prevents urine from seeping to the stall floor, where bacteria and unhealthy ammonia off-gasses can otherwise accumulate.

Setting Stage for Respiratory Health

Triggering proprioception is another benefit Dr. Laidley loves. The flooring’s slight give prompts horses to make tiny muscle movements for balance. This encourages blood flow that helps muscles, tendons and joints recover. She likens the ComfortStall surface to a full-time version of Sure Foot Stability Pads that encourage horses to find their own balance during short sessions.

ComfortStall is a perfect fit with Fruition Farm’s arena footing: Travel Right Footing. Dr. Laidley choose it for its rebound, traction, and no-dust qualities.

Haygain’s High Temperature Hay Steaming is an important part of Dr. Laidley’s effort to reduce respirable irritants in the horse keeping environment. The patented steaming technology reduces up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of desired nutrient content.

She also has a Flexineb Equine Nebulizer that enables her to treat various inflammatory airway conditions, including inflammation caused by regional forest fires.

Dr. Laidley’s horses and boarders’ horses benefit from steamed forage thanks to Fruition Farm’s half-bale Haygain. “One client kept her horse a different facility where she developed some serious Inflammatory Airway Disease symptoms,” the veterinarian relays. “Her owner needed a place where the environment supported respiratory health to every extent possible. That’s why she tracked me down. Since her horse arrived at Fruition Farm, she is doing really well and is no longer coughing when she starts to work.”

Most recently, Dr. Laidley added the third “Haygain Way” product: the Forager Slow Feeder. The Forager appealed to Dr. Laidley because of its ability to provide a safe slow-feeding option, even for shod horses, and one that mimics normal grazing posture. Its durability and its ability to withstand significant variations in temperature were also a great selling point. “An added benefit is not having to worry about it being blown away with the blustery winds that Central Oregon can be known for, especially in the cold and dark winter months.”

Your Horse’s Hero 

Providing and sharing holistic and cutting-edge care and training methods is gratifying work. “Shut down” is how the veterinarian describes the state of several horses that find their way to Fruition Farm. “You look in their eyes and nobody’s there. They have their head down, nose to the ground and are just getting by.”

Delivering thoughtful, whole-horse care starts a rewarding path of discovery. “The horses start to show more personality, to show you what they like and don’t like,” Dr. Laidley explains. She wants all owners to embody Fruition Farm’s motto: “Be Your Horse’s Hero.”

“Owners start to discover that there are so many other things going on with their horses.” That’s true of care and training. “I firmly believe that horses are not innately bad. If they exhibit behaviors that we consider ‘unfavorable,’ it’s likely because they don’t understand what we are asking or because they are painful or uncomfortable.”

The vast realm of information can be overwhelming. Reflecting on her own horses’ injuries over the years, Dr. Laidley still feels “Oh my god, there’s so much more I could have done for them. That makes me sad, but it was also the catalyst for me to learn all that I’m learning now and to think of things on a bigger scale.”

How ‘The Haygain Way’ Can Lower Horsekeeping Costs

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Beer-Drury/Haygain.

In an ideal world, we could all care for our horses without worry over the costs. That planet, however, is not well populated. Most of us need to manage our horses on some sort of budget.

Haygain can help.

The global horse health company is well known for how its Haygain Way products support equine respiratory, digestive, joint and overall health. How it helps the budgeting side of the horse management ledger is also important, especially now with the escalating price of everything.

Here are Five Ways the Haygain Way can help save costs while improving health.

More nutrients: Nutrient preservation is one of many reasons Haygain High Temperature Hay Steaming is replacing soaking for reducing dust and other respirable irritants and allergens in hay. Research results establish that the only nutrient decreased in a standard steam cycle is water soluble carbohydrates: by an average of 2.3%. (This varies based on hay type, harvest location and other factors.)

Conversely, soaking hay depletes nutrients. Feeding soaked hay often requires that lost nutrients be replaced with supplements that bump up the feed bill.

Less Waste: Studies determine that horses prefer steamed hay over dry or soaked forage. That means less waste. The Forager Slow Feeder by Haygain contains hay off the stable floor. Forage is not ruined by being trampled into bedding, manure and urine.

Less Bedding: ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring has built-in cushion for the horse’s comfort and joint support. Only enough bedding to absorb urine is required. Less bedding hauled into the stable equals less soiled bedding that must be removed and hauled away. Horse owners report quickly recouping their ComfortStall investment in bedding and labor savings.

Less Water: Hay steaming uses far less water than hay soaking. A steaming cycle requires 4 litres of water, compared to approximately 60 to 100 litres to soak the same quantity of hay. Most of the water used in soaking hay is wasted and, worse, at a considerable cost to the environment because it is loaded with pollutants.

Fewer Vet Visits: Prevention always beats a cure and Haygain is all about that.

Respiratory irritants are the biggest cause of respiratory disease, and hay is the biggest source of respiratory irritants in the horse’s environment. Reducing them by up to 99% with Haygain Steaming is an effective step in prevention and management of conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

The Forager Slow Feeder enables horses to eat as nature intended: slowly, in small bites and over several hours. That results in constant chewing, which produces a constant steam of saliva. The saliva helps protect the lining of the stomach from ever-present gastric acid to reduce ulcer risk.

Haygain Steamed Hay has up to triple the moisture content of dry hay. The added water in the diet helps keep forage moving through the digestive tract, reducing the risk of colic. More moisture in the diet means more hydration, too.

ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring provides comfort and support for deep rest and sleep. While research on sleep and rest for horses is light, it makes sense that it would impact equine immunity and overall well-being as much as it does for people.

With the cost of living increasing for people and their horses, savvy yard managers recognize the return on investments in their horses’ health. Haygain High Temperature Hay Steamers, the Forager Slow Feeder and ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring are embraced worldwide as among the best investments a horse owner can make. Dividends include healthier horses and bank balances.

Welcome Back Ram Tap: The Shows Go On and Then Some at Beloved Central California Venue

Alice Chan and Quintessa. Photo by Ride On Photo.

For riders of a certain vintage, the name “Ram Tap” evokes the wild wooly 70s of West Coast eventing. Amateur Alice Chan isn’t one of them. She wasn’t competing in that era, hence has given little thought to the Fresno County Horse Park’s rechristening to Ram Tap, its name on launch in 1957.

Alice did give a lot of thought to the venue’s cross-country course, especially the addition (or re-introduction) of the big hill near the announcer’s tower, aka “Punchestown.”

“I’m going to have go out there and really ride!” Alice observed while listening to the Beginner Novice Three Day play-by-play before heading out herself on Quintessa last fall. “Normally you’re going to win on dressage, but here cross-country did what it was supposed to do. It was exciting and fun!” The pair moved up six places after cross-country and finished as reserve champs.

Excitement and fun are exactly what organizer Terry Hilst has been going for since she took over the Central California venue late in 2020. Ram Tap has always been valued for its riverbed footing that enables the show to go on in almost any amount of rain. Terry wants it to be known for more than that. She wants everyone to experience the thrill of advancing toward their equestrian goals on a safe stage and to encourage the fun and joie de vivre for which eventing is famous.

Terry Hilst the Aggravator! Photo by Kim Miller.

Ram Tap Is Back

Terry sought permission to revive the Ram Tap name to honor that era’s spirit and those who developed it. “I want to go back to the roots of eventing: to put back some of the camaraderie and celebration that we used to have.”

In stepping in when it seemed the venue might be lost – again — she followed the lead of John Marshall, an amateur eventer and fan. He’d stepped in to save and rejuvenate the equestrian property in 2012, much to the relief of riders throughout the region. He made many improvements, including the Pavillion gathering area, and staged Horse Trials and competitions in other disciplines. “John built such a beautiful place,” Terry comments.

John is lauded for continuing a proud tradition begun by original owners Pat and Marian Humphries. The Ram Tap name comes from the first three letters of Marian and Pat’s names, spelled backwards, and the Humphries name is synonymous with supporting high quality West Coast sport. Their former stable boy, longtime friend, employee and competitor Bill Burton picked up the torch when the Humphries retired.

Bill is renowned for carrying on the Humphries’ dedication to horse sport. So much so that Terry was worried about the course changes builder and designer Bert Wood and Jay Hambly proposed and implemented last fall.

Alice Chan and Quintessa. Photo by Ride On Photo.

“Bert and Jay did an amazing job with course changes between our October and November events last year,” Terry explains. “They revised everything from Training to Intro because we all need a little change up now and then.” By removing jump arenas and containers from spots they’d long occupied, the dynamic duo had a clean slate to work with.

As Alice Chan notes, the changes were well received by competitors. Yet when Bill Burton came to visit, Terry wondered: “Oh, my god, am I destroying history?,” she shares. “Bill walked up and said, ‘I’m so glad you did that: that all that stuff is gone!’”

Of the return of the aforementioned Punchestown hill, Terry recalls one rider raising her hand in the air and shouting after cresting the ridge, galloping down it “Man From Snowy River style.” Within the range of what’s safe, that was exactly the kind of fun Terry wants to see more of: on course, during exhibitor dinners, hanging out in the barns with friends, etc.

Volunteer Lani Sutherland repaints the Kris Belford Memorial Horse Shoe jump. Photo courtesy of Terry Hilst.

A Whirlwind Year

Seeing the Ram Tap traditions brought to life, Bill Burton and his wife Margaret Burton were happy to grant Terry permission to adopt the name. That capped what Terry describes as a “whirlwind” year operating the venue. Five Horse Trials, one Combined Test, Area VI adult rider camps, clinics and a New Year’s party kept her busy.

She had plenty of experience for the position. A long-time eventer, Terry had organized events at the Camelot Horse Park in Northern California’s Butte Valley until they ceased in 2019. In the interim she indulged her passion for designing cross-country courses and for dirt: the kind that’s ideal for horses to gallop over on cross-country.

She’s now licensed to design courses up to Training level and she’s an expert on dirt at every level.

“My passion is providing good footing,” she explains. So much so that she purchased her own tractor and the “aggravator” attachment that she describes as “causing a minor earthquake” six inches below the surface. The effect is to quickly create safe, cushioned footing. Under the tutelage of longtime West Coast course builder and footing expert Bert Wood, Terry’s been in the driver’s seat aggravating the tracks at Galway Downs and Woodside Horse Park for the past few years, along with prepping the tracks at Ram Tap.

In fact, she was doing exactly that in preparation for the Galway Downs International in late 2020 when she got the news about John Marshall ending his run at Fresno. “Bert (Wood) got the call from John, and Bert turned to me and said, ‘Terry, you should buy it!'”

Since doing as Bert advised, Terry has been grateful for a tremendous amount of help from day-one. John Marshall signed on to help organize shows and continues to support the Ram Tap efforts in various ways, along with maintaining an on-site tack store.

New divisions are part of Ram Tap’s present-day appeal. Terry staged Modified divisions at three Horse Trials last year. By popular demand, they’ll be back this year, as will the full format Three Days in November. New in 2022 is the Grasshopper division with fence heights maxing out at 18”. “The idea is to give people a level where they can come and get introduced to the sport,” Terry explains. “This is the division where we are not going to scare you!”

James Alliston and Golly Martin during the January schooling at Ram Tap. Photo courtesy of Terry Hilst.

Real Fun & Real Challenges

Tommy Greengard was the big winner of January’s Combined Test’s Open Intermediate, Preliminary and Intro Senior divisions. The young professional and Chocolate Horse Farm rider has been competing at Ram Tap since he was 10, rain or shine. “It’s been amazing to see all the changes to the place,” he observes. “It’s one of those facilities you can count on regardless of what you have weather wise, the footing is always amazing. Since Terry has taken over, we love how she is so invested in all the riders having a good time.”

Ram Tap’s riding challenges are real, he corroborates. “You can expect all the serious elements: the water complexes, sunken road, everything you would want on a course. And it’s a place where you can bring a big group of people and everyone can have fun at all the levels.”

February 18-20 is the first of five recognized Horse Trials at the Ram Tap Horse Park this year. In late March, it’s a clinic with Jock Paget, a popular annual tradition at the venue. Schooling HTs, clinics and United States Pony Club certifications fill in an exciting calendar. Whatever the level and whatever the event, it’s sure to be exciting and fun with Terry Hilst at the helm.

To learn more about Ram Tap and view the calendar of events, click here.

Haygain’s Five Tips for a New Year of Horse Health

Liz Halliday-Sharp, shown here with Cooley Quicksilver, is a Haygain devotee. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The New Year is a great time to make resolutions about our horse’s health. Toward that end, here’s five management tips based on how our horses’ bodies are affected by aspects of their management routine and environment.

Feed Slowly: Because Mother Nature designed horses as grazing animals, their digestive systems are built to process small quantities of forage over several hours of the day. They secrete acids to ferment fibrous plant material whether there is fibrous plant material in the digestive tract or not. Because it’s convenient to feed twice or thrice daily, most horses spend only about two-and-a-half hours of their day eating. It should be at least eight to 10 hours.

Encouraging our horses to eat as nature intended is a great way to prevent those acids from causing ulcers that affect a huge percentage of the equine population. More time eating also lessens boredom and related behaviors like stall weaving and cribbing.

 The Forager Slow Feeder enables horses to eat slowly and without frustration.

Be Nosy: A meticulously raked barn aisle and a neatly organized tack room are nice indicators of a well-kept barn, but neither have any impact on our horse’s health. Better to spend time on our hands and knees in the barn, putting our nose where our horse’s nose is and inhaling deeply. Is something tickling my throat? Do I feel a sneeze coming on? Weird as we might feel doing this, it’s a great way to monitor for respiratory risks that are virtually everywhere in the barn.

As we said above, it’s ideal that horses spend much of their day eating forage.  The catch is that even freshly harvested hay of top nutrient quality can be loaded with respirable particles. The particles we can’t see are the most harmful to our horses. At under 5 microns in size, they can slip past his respiratory defenses to infiltrate and inflame the lining of the airways and lungs.

Reducing the respirable irritants in hay is a savvy, simple step toward maintaining respiratory health. Haygain Hay Steaming reduces up to 99% of the respirable irritants commonly found in hay.

Clean Underneath: By the time we can smell ammonia odors, there is already an unhealthy accumulation of this caustic gas in the stable. Even in well-maintained barn, ammonia accumulates when urine and other fluids seep through cracks in the flooring material and pool at the sub floor. Along with ammonia that irritates sensitive tissue in the eyes, respiratory tract and elsewhere, these pools of fluid are bacteria breeding grounds.

ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring prevents such accumulation because its one-piece durable TopCover™ is sealed to the stall wall.

Encourage Rest & Sleep: The importance of physical and mental recovery is well documented in human sports medicine and deep sleep and rest are critical to that. While research on sleep and rest’s effect on equine performance and well-being is light, common sense suggests it’s equally beneficial.

Yes, horses can rest and sleep while standing, but they can only achieve deep REM sleep while lying down with their nose resting on the floor. The average adult horse needs at least an hour of REM sleep every day.

ComfortStall’s layer of orthopedic foam provides cushion and comfort that encourages lying down to get that deep rest. Horse owners regularly report their horses spending more time napping and lying down on the unique flooring.

For the many hours horses stand in their stall, ComfortStall has a unique combination of traction, give and cushion to support joints, provide energy rebound and prompt blood flow that has a natural healing effect.

Hydrate: As with people, adequate hydration is critical to every aspect of physiological function in the horse, especially digestion and thermoregulation. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, an idle 1,100-pound horse in a cool environment will drink six to 10 gallons of water every day. There are many variables, including external temperature, exertion level and how much water is in their food source.

Horses on good quality pasture grass, for example, can drink less water because of the moisture in the grass. Conversely, a diet of dry hay provides little moisture and requires more moisture to help with digestion. Haygain Steamed Hay has up to 3X the moisture content of dry forage, and its proven palatability helps ensure our horses get enough of this critical nutrient.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2022 for all our horses!

Clear View Equestrian Finds Surprisingly Simple Approach to Allergy Management

Alexa Ehlers and her head girl/assistant, Hannah Warner, with the two homebred kids.

As a registered nurse who worked in an intensive care neurology unit, Alexa Ehlers is accustomed to health care miracles made possible by modern technology. Yet she was “mind blown” by how quickly Haygain Steamed Hay helped a 5-year-old horse get rid of a cough that got so bad she’d had to pause his jumping training. “I was shocked that such a simple measure could do so much good.”

The owner and trainer at Clear View Equestrian in Lexington, Kentucky is now a full-time equestrian professional. The facility is home to about 25 horses, the majority client-owned and a few of her own that are progressing at various levels of eventing.

The youngster with the bad cough is one of two Clear View homebreds, out of Alexa’s now-retired junior partner, Crystal Clear. The gelding, Clear Candidate, and the young mare Parlez Clear, both struggle with allergies.

Spring Struggles

Initially, their issues presented only in the springtime as occasional coughs. But when the horses’ workload intensified as they matured, the coughs became more frequent, severe and, especially in Clear Candidate’s case, debilitating. He’d start coughing when they began canter work. “It wasn’t fair to jump him,” she recalls. An endoscopic exam did not find anything worrisome in his upper respiratory tract, Alexa relays. The coughing and occasional runny nose was attributed to extreme sensitivity to allergens that are especially bad in the spring.

“We tried the (chelated) silver spray through the nose and a bunch of other things, but they felt relatively invasive,” Alexa explains. “Someone mentioned the Haygain as a useful tool and I’d been around enough to see professionals using them at events and to know that the steamed hay smelled really good.”

That’s when a former client offered to loan an older Haygain unit. “Within two days of being on Steamed Hay, Clear Candidate stopped coughing.”

Parlez Clear’s coughing was more sporadic, but no less concerning. Competing in a Young Event Horse qualifier, Alexa recalls landing after the final show jumping fence and asking for a stride opening. What she got instead was a massive cough. “We thought it was shipping fever and we initiated a lot of preventative measures when we got home from the show.” That was before starting on Haygain and, since then, the mare’s issue seems to be resolved.

Alexa Ehlers and Clear Candidate. Photo by JJ Sillman.

“I was shocked that doing such a simple thing as feeding Steamed Hay helped so much,” Alexa says. The science behind Haygain explains why Steamed Hay helps horses. The patented process attains and retains temperatures of 212°F in steam injected evenly through hay inside a thermally-sealed chest. The high temperature enables reduction of up to 99% of the inhalable irritants — including mold, bacteria and other allergens — commonly found even in hay of good nutrient quality. These microscopic particles are major causes of allergies and conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

An Ounce of Prevention

Alexa wound up buying the unit from her former client. While it has some mileage on it, the High Temperature Hay Steamer still does its job. “We arrived at Haygain in a bit of a trial by fire, but now all these horses’ hay gets steamed as a preventative measure.”

Now able to train and compete at increasingly high levels without interruption, both Clear View homebreds are excelling in competition. Both have proven their potential in USEA Dutta Corp Young Event Horse competitions and Clear Candidate recently won his first Preliminary.

Along with developing these young horses and helping her clients advance toward their goals, Alexa is an up-and-coming FEI level contender. She and Just To Be Clear recently completed their first Intermediate and were targeting the Morven Park CCI3*-S in October.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Haygain.

The Galway Downs International Challenge Events End on a High Note

Jordan Taylor and Dartmouth. Photo by Kim Miller.

Creating an excellent experience for every stakeholder in the sport is the modus operandi for Robert Kellerhouse and the crew behind this week’s Galway Downs International. It’s a mentality that translates to the lower-level horses and riders getting the same showcase as those in the international divisions, which concluded with Saturday afternoon’s 2*, 3* and 4* Long format competition.

The innovative “Challenge” format took center stage today with show jumping in the Grand Prix Arena. Now on its second year at this US Eventing Association Area VI season closer, the Challenge was a hit last year and even more so this year. The Modified-Training, Training-Novice and Novice-Beginner Novice Challenges serve as a gradual steppingstone to promote and celebrate advancing up the levels.

“I think it’s a really cool concept that I hope to see take off at other places around the country,” commented US Eventing Association Executive Director Rob Burk. “The majority of our sport is not competing at the FEI levels. For me, having really fun, rewarding opportunities like this to step up through the divisions is something we should be focusing our efforts on.”

Jordan Taylor and Dartmouth celebrate their finish. Photo by Kim Miller.

Taylor Takes Modified Training Challenge Blue

Jordan Taylor agreed with Burk wholeheartedly. The Temecula equestrian won the Modified Training Challenge with her 6-year-old homebred Thoroughbred, Dartmouth. The gelding is out of Taylor’s now retired Advanced mare, Cambridge. The pair were in the hunt from Friday’s 25.2 dressage score. Fault-free over Allessandra Alexander-Shinn’s cross-country and Marc Donovan’s show jumping, the pair moved up from third to win the division.

The Challenge served exactly the intended purpose. “Dartmouth is right in between moving up from Training to Preliminary. So this was a great ‘where is he?’ test,” said Taylor. Taylor is coached by Emilee Libby with help from Katy Robinson.

Young professional Tommy Greengard is another fan of the Challenge format. “I always try to have a horse for the Preliminary Challenge at Woodside,” he said of the first manifestation of Kellerhouse’s innovative idea, which started in 2009 at the Horse Park at Woodside. Greengard’s enthusiasm was enhanced by finishing 2nd and 4th in the Training-Modified division, with Sandra Donnelley’s Belshazzar and Andrea Pfeiffer’s Leonardo Diterma, respectively.

“I love the Challenges. I love the Challenges. I love the Challenges,” he exclaimed. “To do a big course in a big ring like that: that’s a lot of atmosphere.” So much so that “Leo (Diterma) started jumping bigger and bigger!” Having entered the stadium standing second, Leo had a rail at fence 2, slipping to 4th on a 29 for the 5-year-old 2020 Young Event Horse star. Belshazzar has campaigned to 4* with his owner, and he’s on loan to Greengard to help him navigate the upper levels. The partnership is new, so they entered the Challenge to get to know each other. “I’ve only jumped him twice before and this was the first time I coursed him in the ring,” said Greengard of his partner in the reserve finish on a 27.3. “He was phenomenal.”

A mid-course rail dashed leader Sarah Ertl’s hopes for a win with Vive Le Balladeer. She and the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse saw their 23.9 dressage score grow to a 27.9 third place finish. Still very respectable in the 29-pair field filled with talented amateurs and professionals on young horses.

Olivia Loiacono Putrino and Cabela. Photo by Kim Miller.

Olivia Loiacono-Putrino Tops Training-Novice Challenge

Southern California professional Olivia Loiacono-Putrino had a good day at the office. She won the division with Leslie Roberts’ striking Tobiano-colored Dutch Warmblood, Cabela, and her student Justine Kiosoglous and Record Year finished in reserve.

Cabela has Training level experience and made easy work of a course Loiacono-Putrino described as characteristically good Marc Donovan: “His courses are always good, with related lines that keep you on your toes and require the horse to react quickly.”

As a trainer, she loves the Challenge as a fun and constructive event for her students. “The organizers put a ton of work into all the levels this year. Spicing up the courses like they have makes it exciting for them.”

Her student Kiosoglous is looking to move up to Training and “this gave her good prep for that,” said Loiacono-Putrino, who also had students contesting the Novice-Beginner Novice Challenge. “The fact that it is a challenge and fun is great.” Trainer and student both finished on their dressage scores of 25.2 and 33.1, respectively.

Third place finishers Dana Carbajal and Maximus del la Tombe had .8 cross-country time penalties and one show jumping rail to end on a 36.7.

Devin Robel and Gillou. Photo by Kim Miller.

Robel Takes Novice-Beginner Novice Title

Oregon-based professional Devin Robel had not been to Galway Downs before and she ended her California tour on a high note by topping this division on her own 5-year-old Holsteiner, Gillou. “Our goal was to break a 20, and he did it,” said Gallou of sticking to their 19.8 dressage score over the three-day event’s three phases. That gave them a 5-point lead in the division, followed by double clear jumping phases to secure the victory.

Robel has had Gillou since he was a yearling and their dressage performance reflects a two-year break Robel took from eventing to focus on dressage. The United States Dressage Federation silver medalist said her whole weekend at Galway Downs was a win-win. “The food, the many rings, the views, the smooth running… Everything!”

Galway Downs-based professional Erin Kellerhouse and Gail Brackett’s 5-year-old Warmblood mare, Genesis, started and finished in second place on a 24.8. Amera Duran and her 6-year-old German Sport Horse Quinn also stuck on their dressage start, for third on a 26.4.

The Experience is Everything

The experience Robel and riders at all levels described throughout the weekend is exactly what Kellerhouse is going for with the Galway Downs venue and its competitions. From hand-pulling 60 acres of pesky “goat head” weeds off the cross-country course to arranging for first-class food in the VIP Pavilion, the improvements represented a major investment of time, thought and money. Although the payback is expected over many years, Kellerhouse said it’s “already very rewarding the support we’ve seen from top riders to those in the Novice-Beginner Novice Challenge and all the Horse Trials divisions. “We want to make it a better experience for everyone.”

Kellerhouse credits Ali and Francie Nilforushan with inspiring, sharing and guiding his big vision for Galway Downs, along with the support of property owner Ken Smith. The Nilforushans launched the Temecula Valley National Horse Show hunter/jumper series a few years ago to ground-breaking success. Their contributions started with improvements to footing and arenas and have progressed to amenities for exhibitors, their families, and fans.

“I learned a lot from Ali and his team and a lot of the things they’ve done and gotten recognition for have crossed over to our events, as has national awareness of our facility and its appeal. Ali and Ken (Smith) are like-minded individuals in respect to making it a great experience for everybody. It’s been super fun working with them.”

Clayton Fredericks’ second year of designing the international cross-country courses dovetails with landscape design and investments to bring the aesthetics on par with the athletic abilities demanded of horse and rider. Everything going on here — from the obvious improvements like all-weather footing and new arenas to the unseen infrastructure upgrades –serves the purpose of enhancing everybody’s experience, he explained. That’s already attracted notice. Having the United States Equestrian Federation stage the inaugural Adequan USEF Youth Eventing Team Challenge West Coast Finals is one of many examples of Galway Downs being viewed as a premiere competition site.

“And there’s more to come,” Kellerhouse concludes. “We’ve learned of our audience that, once you get them hooked on something new, like our amazing VIP Pavilion, they’ll realize ‘Wow, this is a great event!’ and keep coming back.”

Thank You Sponsors!

The Galway Downs team thanks its generous sponsors for enhancing the Fall International, including Adequan for making the Adequan USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge West Coast Finals a special event for tomorrow’s stars.

Galway Downs’ sponsors are Auburn Laboratories, Shires, Kerrits, Uvex, Equifit, Zarasyl, Ride On Video, San Dieguito Equine Group, Stotz, Temecula Creek Inn, Symons and Geranium.

Galway Downs International (Temecula, Ca.): [Website] [Results]

Alexandra MacLeod, Tamie Smith, Taren Hoffos Top Galway Downs FEI Divisions After Exciting & Emotional Show Jumping Finale

Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack. Photo by Kim Miller.

Emotions ran as high as the show jumping fences in Saturday’s conclusion of the Galway Downs Fall International FEI divisions. First time 4* Long contender and new California resident Alexandra MacLeod won with Newmarket Jack, far surpassing her goal of simply making the time on cross-country. That double clear yesterday put Alexandra in third, and she repeated the double clears over Marc Donovan’s stadium course in front of a full house of fans. Clear show jumping is a norm for the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse, but what came next was brand new for Alexandra.

Quiet fell as James Alliston and Paper Jam dropped two rails, while overnight leader and Tokyo Olympic reserve rider Tamie Smith watched from the in-gate aboard the seasoned superstar Fleeceworks Royal. They had one rail in hand, but not two, and that one fell at the first element of the 8ABC triple combination. Tamie had just won the 3*-L on MaiTänzer and her dominance out West, on multiple horses, is so long standing it was a shock.

Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack. Photo by Kim Miller.

Suddenly, Alexandra’s name was on everybody’s lips, especially as word circulated that she’s achieved this level of the sport while earning her veterinary degree and entering practice. She’s had Jack for seven years, starting with him while based with Phillip Dutton back East. Jack is “part of the family,” chimed in Carla MacLeod, Alexandra’s head groom while visiting from their family farm in Virginia.

As a veterinarian, Alexandra said Jack’s victory reward will be plenty of time outdoors, on grass and “just being a horse,” at his new barn in Malibu. “That’s what I always think is the best.” As for juggling a major career with high level equestrian sport, Alexandra says prioritizing is critical. So is loving it, “because you do sacrifice a lot.” It also helps having the horsemanship base she developed during several years focused seriously on horses and working with Dutton and his ilk. Not needing much sleep is handy, too.

Tamie and Fleeceworks Royal finished second. She was dashed over rails in what looked like a very smooth round and unhappy not to deliver a win for the mare who’d been waiting in the wings during her Olympic odyssey. Tamie praised the winner’s performance. “Maybe I shouldn’t have helped her,” she joked of giving Alexandra some lessons and cross-country insights earlier in the week.

James and Paper Jam also had two rails to finish third. Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II finished fourth and young rider Sophie Click and Quidproquo’s double clear moved them from 8th to 5th in their impressive debut at the level. Canadian Pan Am team bronze medalist Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi had an uncharacteristic four rails to finish in 6th place.

The original field of 11 was whittled to six by the final day after two falls and two eliminations on cross-country, and James Alliston’s withdraw of his second 4* entry, Czechers.

Tamie Smith and Mai Tänzer. Photo by Kim Miller.

CCI3*-L: Smith, Alliston & Sanborn Stay Atop The Standings

Tamie Smith always wants to win, so two rails in the 4* may not have been offset by winning the 3* with MaiTänzer. It was a wire-to-wire cruise for the pair who stayed on their 31.9 dressage start. They tackled the stout jumping track as elegantly and efficiently as equitation medal finals winners from the hunter/jumper world. As on cross-country, the 8-year-old German Sport Horse locked in on each fence and cleared them with little apparent effort.

“I don’t feel he could have jumped any better today,” Tamie said. “He’s always been a very naturally good jumper. I’ve worked with (Australian Olympian) Scott Keach this past year a ton to become a better show jump rider and be better in my distances. I think it showed today. He jumped in a good shape and was still very relaxed and with good power.”

James Alliston and the 7-year-old Canadian Sport Horse, Nemesis, also jumped double clear to retain their second spot, finishing on their 32.4 dressage score.

Young Rider Audrey Sanborn and OBOS Quality Time closed out a terrific competition in third place overall. They also topped the Adequan USEF Youth Eventing Team Challenge West Coast Final in this division and earned the Mia Erickson Memorial Trophy as the top placed 3* Young Rider.

In a mock press conference that is part of the Youth Team Challenge program, Audrey said she was especially pleased with how “Diesel’s” bold nature helped them out over Friday’s tough cross-country course. “Being new to the 3*-L, I was really happy with how he came out.” Audrey praised the YTC as an excellent program for those with the right horse for it. “It was super fun and really added to the atmosphere here.”

Taren Hoffos and Regalla. Photo by Kim Miller.

CCI2*-L: Hoffos, Smith-Cook & Grandia Finish Top 3

Professional Taren Hoffos could not contain her emotions as she crossed the timers knowing she and Regalla had just won their first CCI2*-L. Just as in dressage and cross-country, the 10-year-old Oldenburg did as she was asked with enthusiasm and talent. “She really listens and always asks me what’s next,” Taren said. Regalla was purchased in utero by Taren’s mother, Carolyn Hoffos. “We’ve had our eyes on her her whole life and nothing bad has ever happened to her,” Taren explained of one reason for the horse’s trust. “We also have a really good relationship on the ground, which we work on all the time. I think that translates to when I ride her. I think it helps that I am in charge of her and I also work with her a lot.”

An eventing organizer herself, at the Hoffos’ Copper Meadows in Ramona, Taren appreciated the electric atmosphere of show jumping in the Grand Prix Arena ringed with VIP tents and grandstands. “Regalla wasn’t fazed by that, but that stuff tends to light her up in a good way.” One of her coaches, Buck Davidson, had advised her to try to get a rub in the warm-up arena, but the atmosphere was such that “there was no way that was going to happen,” Taren recounted with a laugh.

Taren credited a month spent at Buck’s Pennsylvania base with “kickstarting the whole fall season to be so successful.” The local support of Canadian Olympian Hawley Bennett-Awad has been equally important.

Taren and Regalla were flawless over three days to win on their 26.1 dressage score. Kaylawna Smith-Cook and AEV Above Authority, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse, were second on a 27.4 and Marc Grandia and Hyacinth, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood, were third on a 27.8.

California: Primed For Growth

United States Eventing Association president Rob Burk has been on site since opening day Thursday. Not kicking back in the VIP area, but in the field volunteering as a dressage scribe and all day Friday as ring steward for cross-country at the FEI and other levels. As a California native, he’s always been fond of the West Coast eventing scene. His current appreciation for what’s going on in the region is drawn from its positive influence on the national eventing scene.

“California has the most USEA members of any state, so it’s always been important to USEA. Plus, with the right infrastructure, it’s one of our areas that is most primed for growth. I think Galway Downs creates that lynchpin in that it’s a premier facility as we are looking toward the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. I think it is going to be a proving ground for probably a fair number of athletes. I think some of the smarter riders from other countries will see it as a good place to get acclimated to the West Coast scene: the footing, the weather, etc.

“Robert and his whole team have put their heart, soul and dollars into the facility and the events,” Rob continued. “It shows.”

What’s Next:

The Grand Prix Arena and heightened atmosphere are turned over to show jumping in the three special Challenge divisions Sunday, starting with Modified Training at 9 a.m. The new Challenges are an evolution of the Preliminary Challenge first staged by Robert Kellerhouse in 2009 at The Horse Park at Woodside. Now in their second year at the Galway Downs Fall International, the Modified-Training, Training-Novice and Novice-Beginner Novice Challenges are designed to develop, encourage and celebrate horses and riders gradually advancing up the levels. They were popular out of the box here last year and even more so this year.

Thank You Sponsors!

The Galway Downs team thanks its generous sponsors for enhancing the Fall International, including Adequan for making the Adequan USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge West Coast Finals a special event for tomorrow’s stars.

Galway Downs’ sponsors are Auburn Laboratories, Shires, Kerrits, Uvex, Equifit, Zarasyl, Ride On Video, San Dieguito Equine Group, Stotz, Temecula Creek Inn, Symons and Geranium.

Galway Downs International (Temecula, Ca.): [Website] [Entry Status] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Tamie Smith Leads CCI4*-L, CCI3*-L, Taren Hoffos Leads CCI2*-L After Rigorous Cross Country Test at Galway Downs

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Sally Spickard.

“It’s all about what happens in the moment,” said Clayton Fredericks of how yesterday’s international cross-country tracks could be successfully navigated. There were many moments with many things happening on courses that fulfilled Fredericks’ mandate to build them fully up to the international standard.

Seven of 11 starters finished the CCI4*-L track successfully, with two falls and two eliminations. Even though the West Coast has fewer entries than elsewhere, those in the hunt are seeking World Championship and/or 5* qualifying scores and experience, Clayton noted. As such, it’s not right to make the courses anything less than what they’d face should those ambitions pan out.

Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Royal is fully back on form, reported a happy Tamie Smith after finishing the big and technical 4*-L route with only a few time faults. “It was a bit relentless,” she reflected. “You needed a horse that loves her job and is experienced at it.” Tamie has brought the now 12-year-old Holsteiner along since she was 3. Even with a gap in their time together the last 18 months as Tamie went to the Olympics and Europe, their partnership made relatively easy work of efforts that required setting a line and sticking with it and positive approaches to imposing obstacles from start to finish.

In the lead after a 24.9 dressage test, Tamie had some potential mental challenges before setting out with her second ride in the division. She and the promising star Elliot-V had a fall at the angled 4AB Pony Pond, an early challenge Clayton described as a wake-up call for what was ahead. Then, she and Fleeceworks Royal had to hold in the start box when Amber Birtcill and Cinzano took a spill at another difficult angled water obstacle, this one at 9AB. (Amber and Cinzano are OK.)

Their own pass through the Pony Pond was a bit rough, but otherwise Fleeceworks Royal handled everything like the World Championships candidate Tamie considers her to be. The time penalties were right where Tamie expected. “She needs more runs,” the rider explained of not putting pedal fully to metal this time out. “There’s no substitute for competing.” The resulting time faults brought their score to a 30.5, with a rail in hand for show jumping.

James Alliston and Paper Jam. Photo by Sally Spickard.

James Alliston and Paper Jam jumped up from 6th to 2nd by picking up only a 2 time penalties on cross-country. Steering can be an issue with the 12-year-old Hanoverian owned by James’ wife Helen Alliston. That added degrees of difficulty to a route with many bending turns, but James appreciated the practice and Paper Jam’s honest nature. “If I can line him up right, he’s honest and he’s a fast and a good jumper.”

Echoing comments of his fellow riders, James described the course as tough to the very last. In fact, at the 23AB Skinny Hedge and Corner (of 26 obstacles), Paper Jam nicked a flag at the B element, but it was cleared on review for no jumping faults. They go into show jumping on a 35.2.

The 23B element was also a bugaboo for Czechers, James’ second mount in the division. This rising star, another of James’ many chestnuts, had an uncharacteristic run-out.

Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack were the only pair to finish under the course’s 10-minute time limit, helping them move up from 7th to 3rd on their 37 dressage score. The new-to-California rider from the East is thrilled with today’s effort, especially as they’ve attained this level while she earned her veterinary degree. She and Jack are a seven-year partnership that began when she was a working student for Phillip Dutton. Now based in Los Angeles, she appreciated recent fine tuning and a course walk with Tamie Smith.

Alexandra’s only disappointment was assuring her visiting mom that the “courses out here will be softer than what I did at Fair Hill in Maryland. Instead, it was right up to that level!” Alexandra and Newmarket Jack stand 3rd.

Smith, Alliston & Sanborn lead the CCI3*-L

Double clears today moved Tamie Smith and James Alliston into one-two standings in this division, too, but there’s less wiggle room than in the 4*-L.

“We weren’t in the market for another horse,” Tamie says of MaiTänzer. “But because of COVID, he happened to be on a bit of deal, so we got him. He’s a bit green, having just done his first CCI3*, and I’m a little rusty on riding him, but he made the course feel easy. He reads the jumps well and he just zips around.”

Alliston Equestrian’s 7-year-old Canadian Sport Horse, Nemesis, has been “part of the family” since he was a yearling, James explains. After winning his first 3* at Rebecca Farm this summer, Nemesis continues to fulfill early promise as the pairs moves up from 9th to 2nd.

It’s close, though. Tamie and MaiTänzer have a 31.9. James and Nemesis have a 32.4, and Audrey Sanborn and OBOS Quality Time added only 2.4 time penalties to be third on a 33.3.

Even after excelling on today’s tough tracks, there’s no big sigh of relief, Tamie explains. “Show jumping is where it’s all won and lost,” she said of her standing in the 4* and 3*s. “I never take anything for granted.”

Taren Hoffos and Regalla. Photo by Kim Miller.

Hoffos, Gorin & Smith-Cook Atop the CCI2*-L

With less than one rail separating the top six contenders, nobody will be taking anything for granted in this division either as they head into the atmospheric Grand Prix ring for show jumping. The top three are the same as after dressage: Professional Taren Hoffos holds the lead with her mother Carolyn Hoffos’ 10-year-old Oldenburg mare Regalla; 16-year-old Rhiannon Gorin and CSF Handsome are second on 26.7 and professional Kaylawna Smith-Cook and AEV Above Authority are third on a 27.

A Rider’s Perspective on Course Design

A 5* competitor himself, Clayton Fredericks said he was happy with how the courses rode and felt they posed the right tests at each level. “I always ask myself, ‘If I was on a horse at this level, would this be fair to me?” Today’s courses were exactly that, he said. “As a course designer, we are always trying to create situations where the horse jumps well and safely.” He was gratified to see riders take a variety of striding and track options in several places — “reacting to what’s happening in the moment.”

What’s Next: After an 8 a.m. trot up, the international divisions conclude tomorrow with jumping in reverse order of their standings. The 2* is at 10:25; the 3* at 12:45; and the 4* at 2:15. Horse Trials and Challenge contenders continue with cross-country and finish with show jumping on Sunday.

Thank You Sponsors!

The Galway Downs team thanks its generous sponsors for enhancing the Fall International, including Adequan for making the Adequan USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge West Coast Finals a special event for tomorrow’s stars.

Galway Downs’ sponsors are Auburn Laboratories, Shires, Kerrits, Uvex, Equifit, Zarasyl, Ride On Video, San Dieguito Equine Group, Stotz, Temecula Creek Inn, Symons and Geranium.

Galway Downs International (Temecula, Ca.): [Website] [Entry Status] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Galway Downs International: Smith, Turner & Hoffos Lead FEI Divisions After Dressage

Tamie Smith & Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

It wouldn’t seem a California competition without Tokyo Olympic reserve rider Tamie Smith leading at least one international division. With four horses in the event, Tamie’s final ride of the day, Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Royal, was the one to put her atop, in this case of the CCI4*-L.  Their 24.9 score from Ground Jury Christina Klingspor of Sweden and the USA’s Marilyn Payne is a substantial lead heading into a Clayton Fredericks’ cross-country track that’s described as big, rigorous and fully up to the level.

Amber Birtcil & Cinzano. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

Tamie is followed by Amber Birtcil, who continues a stellar season with Cinzano on a 28.1.

Dana Cooke & FE Mississippi. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

Behind these two familiar California professionals, Canadian Dana Cooke and FEI Mississippi are third on a 29.2.

Tamie’s world travels and Fleecework Royal’s recovery from an unusual condition — an airway obstruction — have had the experienced Advanced mare out of the spotlight for much of the last 18 months. But “Rory” came roaring back today with a characteristically lovely dressage test.

Having recently seen the world’s biggest courses — Tokyo, Aachen, Boekelo, for example — Tamie has a worldly perspective on the route she and the 4*’s 10 other contenders will face tomorrow. “You do look at ‘home’ with different eyes because you’re more experienced with championship courses,” she says.  “I can tell you, this one is right up there.” She’s confident of Fleeceworks Royal’s ability to navigate it. She’s also confident of last year’s National 3*-L Champion, Elliot-V, her second ride in the division, but this is their first outing in the division and she’ll need to give the relatively green horse a different ride.

Galway Downs’ ascendance in the national eventing realm is drawing entrants from far and wide, but most likely it’s Canada’s Dana Cooke who’s traveled the farthest. Dana and her 2019 Pan Am Games team bronze medal partner FE Mississippi made the three-day haul from their North Carolina base and already consider it worthwhile. “We’ve been working on dressage: trying to break into the 20s consistently and clean things up,” she explains. “I was really happy with her today.”

Dana sourced the 11-year-old Pinto Wurttenberg from course designer Clayton Fredericks but doubts that will give her any edge tomorrow. “It’s quite a technical track and there is a lot of work to do all the way around. I think we’ll be good, but we’ll have to keep riding from start to end.”

Dana was last at Galway Downs about 15 years ago and is “highly impressed. They have definitely upped the standards of how it looks. It’s beautiful and Clayton has done a fabulous job designing.”

Haley Turner & Shadow Inspector. Photo by Leslie Potter/USEF.

Turner Tops 3* Leaderboard

This year’s Galway Downs International proudly hosts the Adequan USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge West Coast Finals, so it’s appropriate that two of its contenders — Haley Turner and Audrey Sanborn — are in the top three of the 21-pair CCI3*-L field after dressage.

Nearly 19-year-old Haley and Shadow Inspector extend their long hot streak with a 25.3 test to lead the pack.

Audrey Sanborn & OBOS Quality Time. Photo by Leslie Potter/US Equestrian.

Idaho-based professional Stephanie Goodman and Drs. Resolute stand second with a 28.8, and California amateur Audrey Sanborn and OBOS Quality Time will start tomorrow’s cross-country sitting third on a 30.9.

The 3* Ground Jury is President Christina Klingsport of Sweden and Marilyn Payne of the USA.

Kayleen Crowley & Whiskey Up in the CCI3*-L. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

A student of Bea and Derek DiGrazia in Northern California, Haley says she hasn’t yet gotten tired of answering questions about her long string of successes. “I’m grateful for it all!” she says. Haley and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse have tackled all the FEI levels together and this is their 3*-L debut. “We’ve been working at having a breakthrough at the FEI level and this was the best he’s ever felt in a test. He was very responsive to my leg through the entire test and had more expression in his extensions, which we’ve been working on.”

Haley is also grateful to have international eventer Lauren Billys coaching her this weekend. She also credits work with Volker Brommann as a big contribution to the team effort that’s helped her reach the dressage goals on display today.

Being part of the Adequan USEF Youth Eventing Team Challenge West Coast Finals is another source of appreciation, says Haley. That includes the qualifiers that preceded it at the Aspen Farms Horse Trials and Twin Rivers Fall International. “It’s a great way to meet other riders, have that extra level of competition and national recognition. Along with all of Galway Downs’ sponsors, I really appreciate Adequan sponsoring the event.”

Taren Hoffos and Regalla. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

Hoffos Leads Two-Star’s Tight Leaderboard

Taren Hoffos and the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare Regalla inspired “ohs and ahs” from the railbirds as they laid down a 26.1 to trail blaze the 35-pair CCI2*-L division in front of Ground Jury Robert Stevenson and Amanda Miller, both of the USA.

Rhiannon Gorin & CSF Handsome. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

Hot on their hooves is Rhiannon Gorin and CSF Handsome sitting second on a 26.7. Kaylawna Smith-Cook and AEV Above Authority are third on a 27.

Purchased in utero, the Sir Donnerhall mare Regalla won her first outing at the level, the CCI2*-S at Woodside in October.  “It’s really special to be riding her having had her in the family since before she was born,” says Taren of the horse owned by her mother Carolyn Hoffos.

The mare’s breeding suggests a dressage career and two years of dressage specific training reinforced that. However, at a certain point, “she got bored,” Taren explains. “So we said, ‘Let’s see if she can jump.'” Friday’s course will require that of her and Taren is confident. “She is ridiculously brave and a great jumper, so cross-country is really fun. She attacks the course and wants to go fast. She’s so responsive, it’s easy to go fast because I know she’ll come back.”

The Hoffos family owns the Copper Meadows training and show venue in nearby Ramona, giving Taren a unique perspective as a fellow USEA Area VI event organizer. Galway Downs organizer Robert Kellerhouse was Area VI’s “Organizer of the Year for a reason,” Taren observes. “He is constantly improving Galway Downs and the changes that he makes and the vision he has for it are amazing. I’ve been coming here since I was 12 years old and it’s unrecognizable.”

The venue’s amenities and the competition’s quality improvements are rising tides that lift all boats on the West Coast eventing scene, Taren notes. “You come to an event like this and you get the atmosphere and the presence of being somewhere fancy and intimidating. That’s good because you can feel how you and your horse react with that. It feels very big time.”

Marc Grandia & Hyacinth. Photo by theWestEquestrian.com.

            Friday Action

FEI cross-country starts with 3* at 9:30, followed by 4* at 11:20 and 2* at 12:30, while  competition starts or continues in all Horse Trials and the special Challenge divisions that have become very popular.

            Thank You Sponsors!

 The Galway Downs team thanks its generous sponsors for enhancing the Fall International, including Adequan for making the Adequan USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge West Coast Finals a special event for tomorrow’s stars.

Galway Downs’ sponsors are Auburn Laboratories, Shires, Kerrits, Uvex, Equifit, Zarasyl, Ride On Video, San Dieguito Equine Group, Stotz, Temecula Creek Inn, Symons and Geranium.

 Galway Downs International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive ScoresLive StreamSchedule, Volunteer

CCI4*-L results after dressage: 

CCI3*-L Top 10 after dressage:

CCI2*-L Top 10 after dressage:

Combined Hosting of USEA FEH & YEH West Coast Championships Kicks Off at Twin Rivers

Janine Jaro’s Trilogy: 2020 USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Champion. Photo by Tina Fitch Photography.

The first combined staging of the USEA Future Event Horse Championships and the USEA Dutta Corp. Young Horse West Coast Championships last year was a big success. This year’s Championships, set for Oct. 28 and 29 at Twin Rivers, reflects that success in greatly increased participation. In addition to strong turnout from USEA’s Area VI, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Arizona and Oregon are among the further flung regions represented in the Championships.

Over 40 Future and Young Event Horses will demonstrate their potential and developing skills, not counting those who earn a spot in Thursday’s “last chance” qualifier.

Super Showcase

Over two days, the contenders will compete in age-appropriate tests: from being trotted on the triangle and observed under saddle and free jumping in a chute to dressage and jumping.

After three years hosting the USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Championships as a stand-alone competition, the Baxter family organizers understand the fine art of exposing youngsters to an international atmosphere without overwhelming them.

“We have decorations and banners up to expose them to what’s up with this level of competition,” says Andrea Baxter. Yet the stimuli exist in spaces that allow the horses to absorb them. Dressage, for example, will take place in Twin Rivers’ beautiful “Flag Arena,” which sits atop a hill and is surrounded by segments of the cross-country course and hilly vineyards in the distance. “It’s a big arena, so that should help them take it all in,” Andrea says.

As venue owners and competition organizers, the Baxters have always had a mission to provide a place to develop and showcase horses and riders bound for the sport’s highest levels. “We are really excited to finally have a chance to promote all the young horses in one spot,” Andrea explains of holding these championships concurrently for the second consecutive year. “We are looking for this to be a real showcase and we hope it will keep gaining momentum for years to come. Last year was a huge success and we are really excited to see so many more entries this year.”

Andrea has her new mare Liefhebber entered in the Young Event Horse Championships. Fresh from the Fair Hill International CCI5*-L with her veteran partner, Indy 500, Andrea will present future equine stars alongside fellow high-level competitors including Amber Birtcil, Rebecca Braitling, Joseph McKinley, Tamie Smith and Kaylawna Smith.

Chris Ryan of Ireland and Susan Graham White of the USA are judging the FEH Championships.  Ryan and the USA’s Debbie Adams will officiate the Young Event Horse Championships.

Debbie judged the YEH West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers last year. “I was just blown away by what a good job they did,” said the New Jersey-based official at the show’s close in 2020. “I had no idea what to expect and, you know, you hear things: like the West Coast is not at the same standard as the East. But as soon as I walked the course and saw how the jumps were built, Peter (Gray, fellow judge) and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is amazing.’

Adri Doyal is on tap to design the courses.

            Halloween One Day Schooling Show

Sunday’s One Day Halloween Schooling Horse Trials is a proud West Coast tradition poised for another busy day of horse and rider development and fun.

              Sponsors & Volunteers

Twin Rivers is proud to host the USEA Future Event Horse and USEA Dutta Corp Young Horse West Coast Championships as part of its 2021 season. Presenting sponsors of the season include Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes; and Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Get Away RV Rentals, which delivers fully-outfitted RVs to the venue for those who want to stay on site.

Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier;  Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; and RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative infrared therapy devices.

Twin Rivers has a full slate of competition set for 2022, highlighted by the second running of the Spring International CCI4*-L in April. For 2022 sponsorship opportunities, contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected].

Volunteers will be a huge part of this weekend’s Championships, as they have been throughout the year from the CCI4*-L to the One Day Horse Trials. Twin Rivers’ generous incentive program includes vouchers for show stabling and credits for schooling between events at the beautiful 500-acre venue. That is in addition to the genuine appreciation of the Baxter family and the entire Twin Rivers team.

To sign up, please visit www.twinrivershorsepark/volunteer.

Baxter, Smith & Smith-Cook Earn FEI Victories at Twin Rivers Fall International

Andrea Baxter & Indy 500. Photo by Ride On Photo.

When Andrea Baxter won the CCI4*-S at Twin Rivers this past April, she explained that there is no such thing as a “home field advantage.” Andrea’s family owns the competition venue and she bases her training business there. Yet, her long-time mount Indy 500 had no trouble sizing up the Sept 24-26 weekend as “show time” for the win.

Sitting second after a dressage test with which Andrea was very pleased, Indy had one rail and a quarter time fault in show jumping, then “cruised” across Hugh Lochore’s “big” cross-country track with 9.2 time penalties, the fewest in the division.  “Indy has one speed,” the rider said. “You kind of put a quarter in the slot and off she goes.”

Having anticipated that others would beat her on time, Andrea opted for an inside track in the five strides between the ditch wall to a corner. “I think the others may have seen me ‘chicken out’ on that with my first horse, (Indy’s son Laguna Seca). Nobody else tried it. When we landed from that, I said, ‘That’s my Burghley horse!’,” referencing her and Indy’s 2019 outing at the notoriously gnarly 5* in England.

Coming back from a bit of foot soreness, Indy had a game attitude throughout all phases that spoke well of the ground crew’s preparation and maintenance. “I was really pleased about that,” Andrea said. “It was like they rolled out the red carpet.”

Andrea and Indy head to The Fair Hill International 5* in Maryland in mid-October.

Fresh from Tokyo Olympics and the CHIO Aachen Nations Cup for Team USA, Tamie Smith finished second with Luisa Southworth’s Elliot-V and third with Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Royal. Her globetrotting seemed to underscore her appreciation for this home-turf venue: “They really put on a top-class event,” Tamie told her Instagram followers. “The footing, the presentation and organization were super and we should all be grateful to have a venue that tries to keep improving as our sport grows.”

CCI3*

With more gratitude for those on her Next Level Eventing crew who’ve kept her deep string of horses going, Tamie Smith won this division on the MB Group LLC’s Mai Tanzer in his debut at the level. “So proud of this boy and how smart and athletic he is,” Tamie said. “It’s not easy to just show up and ride, not on me or on my horses. But I’m lucky they trust me and try so hard. Everyone who is keeping them trained for me is doing one hell of a job!”

Also debuting at the level — horse and rider — Audrey Sanborn and OBOS Quality Time finished second. “All the pieces really came together,” said the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student of her partnership with “Diesel.” Some of those “pieces” got refined over the summer working for Andrea Baxter and Rebecca Braitling, both based at Twin Rivers. “It was nice to be at the barn all day, have the opportunity to ride a lot more horses and shadow how they handle their horse’s fitness and training plans. They are the best.”

USEA Area VI Youth Team Challenge Contenders. Photo courtesy of Twin Rivers.

USEA Area VI Youth Team Challenge Contenders

With the reserve 3* finish, Audrey was the highest finishing contender in the Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge Paso Robles. Evolved from the North American Youth Championships, the Challenge was a “super fun added element to have the feeling of being on a team,” Audrey reported. “All of the (five) girls competing kind of knew each other and it was a great chance to build relationships.”

Fellow Youth Team Challenge contender Madison Temkin and MVP MadBum finished third.  The young professional was thrilled with her mare’s debut at the level, citing a “lovely” dressage test despite a few pilot errors that affected their score. She’s had the now 8-year-old mare for six years and expressed great pride in her development. Madison’s finish put her 2nd in the Youth Team Challenge, too.

CCI2*-S

Kaylawna Smith-Cook and her own AEV Above Authority had 2 show jumping penalties and clear cross-country to advance from second after dressage into first place. Youth Team Challenge contender Taylor McFall and Stoneman, owned by Cheron Laboissonniere, were second after one rail in the stadium and double clear on the cross-country course designed by Adri Doyal of Mexico. Twin Rivers-based professional Rebecca Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses’ Right Above It were third.

            Young Horse Excitement

Excitement is building toward the increasingly popular USEA Future Event Horse and USEA Dutta Corp Young Event Horse West Coast Championships staged at Twin Rivers Oct. 29-30. The Fall International’s qualifiers identified rising stars: Julie Murray’s Mannoury vd Watermolen won the FEH 4-year-old on a 76.70 with Erin Kellerhouse; and Rylin Clarke’s NSF Cassiopeia scored a 79 to top the FEH 3-year-old standings.

Anita Nardine’s Quinn HSR scored an 81.80 with Kaylawna Smith-Cook to top the YEH 4-year-old ranks; and Julianne Guariglia’s Crafty Don led the 5-year-old YEH division with an 84.90 under Tamie Smith’s hand.

Excellent participation in the debut of this combined championships last year bodes well for even bigger attendance this year. There is a last-chance qualifier for the Championships Thursday, October 28. On Sunday, October 31, Twin Rivers hosts its popular Halloween Schooling Horse Trials

            Sponsors & Volunteers

The Fall International was made possible by generous sponsors: Presenting sponsors include Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes; and Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Get Away RV Rentals, which delivers fully-outfitted RVs to the venue for those who want to stay on site.

Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier;  Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; and RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative infrared therapy devices.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected].

As always, volunteers were critical to the Fall International’s success and were much appreciate by exhibitors and organizers alike.

            Up Next

  • USEA Future Event Horse & USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships (and an FEH qualifier Oct. 28), Oct. 29-30.
  • Schooling Halloween Horse Trials: Oct. 31

For more information, visit Twin Rivers Horse Park here.

Haygain: The Grooms ‘Got It!’

Early Haygain adopter Amy Westcott-Allen, left, of Team Willis Equestrian.

Haygain is excited to formalize its long-time partnership with grooms as an Official Partner of the British Grooms Association. The alliance builds on an existing sponsorship of The Grooms Award, Ltd, program in North America.

“As an equine health company, we appreciate the countless hours grooms spend caring for their horses behind the scenes, their keen ability to catch health and performance issues in their earliest and most treatable stages, and their dedication to providing care that prevents problems whenever possible,” explains Edzo Wisman, Haygain CEO.

Grooms were early Haygain adopters when the company introduced the patented technology of High Temperature Hay Steaming to the equestrian market in 2009. “Indeed, their support goes back to when some were asking: ‘Steamed what…?’ or ‘Why cook hay…?'” Wisman recalls.

“In those days it was the grooms who got it. As their horses’ primary caregivers, grooms understood that even ‘good’ forage had ‘bad’ things in it and that Haygain Hay Steaming could help.

“We are now a thriving and fast-growing global equine health company with an expanded line of products,” Wisman continues. “And it’s still grooms who are often the first to recognize and recommend the benefits of Haygain Steamed Hay, The Forager Slow Feeder and ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring.”

Giving Back

In becoming an Official Partner of the British Grooms Association, Haygain supports the BGA’s good work of improving professional opportunities, providing career development tools and bringing grooms the industry recognition they deserve.

Lucy Katan, executive director of the BGA, states, “We are thrilled to welcome Haygain and look forward to being able to share their wealth of health care expertise with our members. We are passionate about best practice and look forward to working together.”

In North America, Haygain began sponsoring The Grooms Award, Ltd, in March of this year. The non-profit Grooms Award recognizes grooms in the Jumper and Hunter divisions at major competitions throughout the year. Grooms in the marquee classes in each division receive generous gifts from sponsors and recognition throughout the competition. The Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA., and The Riders Cup in Burbank, CA, are next up on the Grooms Award itinerary. Both events take place in late October.

An Early Adopter

Former British show jumping professional Amy Westcott-Allen is one of those grooms who “got it” immediately when Haygain hit the scene. Now the horse manager for U.S.-based Australian show jumper Rowan Willis, Westcott-Allen remembers her relief at first hearing about Haygain High Temperature Hay Steaming.

At the time, she ran a 30-horse livery yard in England. She preferred to feed haylage over hay because the region’s hay was generally dry and dusty. But haylage had drawbacks in its high moisture and energy content.

Soaking hay was an alternative, but that leaches nutrients and is a messy, laborious hassle. “It was a tricky situation,” Westcott-Allen recalls of the pre-Haygain era. She’d also heard of DIY hay steaming but wasn’t impressed with that approach either. She knew instinctively what has more recently been scientifically proven: that steaming hay at insufficiently high temperatures can actually increase bacteria and mold in hay.

“Haygain turned out to be a great system for our barn,” says Westcott-Allen of the patented process that reduces up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of good nutritional quality. Extra moisture and appetizing scent and taste are additional benefits, along with ease of use at home and shows.

‘Great System’

She considers Haygain’s products as important for Willis’ horses as they were for her own. Team Willis Equestrian has Haygain’s largest and medium-sized Hay Steaming models, providing Steamed Hay at their home base in Florida and during their extensive competition travels.

They are also ComfortStall fans. Prior to travelling from Florida to Calgary, Canada this summer, Westcott-Allen had Haygain’s ComfortStall flooring installed in the Team Willis Equestrian trailer. The horses were “very happy” through the 2,700-mile trip and on arrival, Westcott-Allen reports.

Along with the BGA partnership and Grooms Award sponsorship, Haygain continues its day-in, day-out support of those caring for horses around the world — from the world’s biggest competitions to backyard barns. Through its extensively tested equipment, Haygain manifests the priority of all caregivers in keeping horses happy, healthy and performing at their peak.

For more information on The Haygain Way line of products, please visit www.haygain.us.

Twin Rivers Gears Up for Fall International Action

James Alliston and Calaro. Photo by The West Equestrian.

The Twin Rivers Fall International Three Day Event is poised to host a full slate of familiar and new eventing competition September 23-26. International competition at the CCI2*, 3* and 4* levels, short format, returns to this fixture of the West Coast fall circuit.

Fresh from the Tokyo Olympics and Team USA silver at the Aachen CHIO, Tamie Smith has two up-and-coming stars entered in the CCI4*-S. Top contenders Andrea Baxter and James Alliston are also in the hunt at this highest level of competition. All divisions are filled with the West’s best horses and riders out to test their mettle and advance their skills on Twin Rivers’ trusted turf of excellent facilities and expert management that maintains a welcoming family feel.

New on the agenda is the 2021 Adequan/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge Paso Robles. The 2021 Adequan/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge evolved from the eventing division of the North American Youth Championships. The Challenge offers opportunities for eventing athletes 14-25 to gain valuable experience in a team competition environment representing USEA Areas at the FEI CCI 1/2/3* levels nationally and at the 2/3* levels at Twin Rivers. Young riders from throughout the region will face-off in this final leg of the West Coast before the region’s championship at Galway Downs International in November.

Tamie Smith and Fleecework’s Royal. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Young Horse Excitement

Returning are qualifiers for the increasingly popular USEA Future Event Horse and USEA Dutta Corp Young Event Horse Championships. The West Coast Championships for the Future and Young Event Horse divisions comes to Twin Rivers Oct. 29-30. Excellent participation in the debut of this combined championships last year bodes well for even bigger attendance this year.

All of the events take place at the Baxter family’s ever-evolving Twin Rivers Ranch, on 500 beautiful acres in Central Coastal California’s Paso Robles. Their mission with the venue was to stage highest-caliber international equestrian competition and they are delivering in a big way. The inaugural Twin Rivers CCI4*-L this past April saw those early visions realized and then some with top-flight competition and memorable moments like the presentation of the inaugural McKinlaigh Cup to CCI4*-L winner Amber Levine.

Sponsors & Volunteers

The Fall International is made possible by generous sponsors: Presenting sponsors include Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes; and Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Get Away RV Rentals, which delivers fully-outfitted RVs to the venue for those who want to stay on site.

Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties; and RevitaVet, a leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative infrared therapy devices.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected]

Volunteers are critical to the Fall International’s success and offer a great entrée to the sport, even for those without prior experience.

Up Next

  • USEA Future Event Horse & USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships (and an FEH qualifier), Oct. 29-30.
  • Schooling Halloween Horse Trials: Oct. 31

Twin Rivers Fall International (Paso Robles, Ca.): [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Volunteer]

Steam-Powered Successes in Tokyo

Isabell Werth & Bella Rose: Team Gold and Individual Silver. Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Haygain is all about helping horses be healthy and capable of performing at their peak. Steamed Hay-powered equine athletes did exactly that in dressage, eventing and show jumping competition at the Tokyo Games. Several earned medals and many more did their riders, support teams and countries proud by giving their all and finishing strong.

Along with lavishing praise on their equine partners, Olympic equestrians were universal in sharing credit for their success with those behind the scenes. Haygain is proud to be among them.

“There are so many variables we worry about when traveling to overseas championships with our team horses,” says Susan Johns, DVM, the USET Land Rover Eventing Team Veterinarian, of Haygain’s help.

“In addition to the different allergens and dust they encounter in a foreign country, often we have to switch them to a different forage entirely. Haygain helps alleviate the stress that comes along with changing a significant portion of the horse’s diet so we can concentrate on other things — like making sure they’re feeling and performing at their best on the world stage.”

In helping several riders and teams have access to High Temperature Steamed Hay in Tokyo, Team Haygain surmounted several hurdles of its own — most of them logistics related to COVID and the unique electricity supply in Japan. (Haygain also helped teams have Steamed Hay in the pre-export quarantine in Aachen, Germany).

Seeing these equine stars dance, gallop and soar on the world’s biggest stage was ample reward for Haygain’s contributions. And we can’t help but brag a bit and recap the stories behind why a few of these athletes rely on Steamed Hay.

Eventing

In eventing, at least half of the top 10 teams included devout Haygain Hay Steamers, including members of the Gold British and Silver Australian teams.

Britain’s Team Gold and Individual Silver medalist Tom McEwen, in fact, recalls Haygain “making immediate sense to me.” As one of Haygain’s earliest adopters, he only recently replaced the original Hay Steamer he purchased shortly after its 2009 commercial debut.

“We steam as a preventative measure,” Tom explains. “I think the Haygain Steamed Hay seriously helps them. It’s especially important because they do such strenuous activity. Haygain, for us, is really about peace of mind: knowing that we are surpassing the requirements for our horses.”

For the humans in the equestrian partnership, that peace of mind may be Haygain’s greatest benefit: knowing they’ve provided their horse every health advantage possible.

Show Jumping

Eight of the top 10 show jumping teams had an assist from Haygain Steamed Hay. That includes the Gold Medal Swedes and the Silver Team USA. Both thrilled the world with their remarkable performances throughout the competition and especially in a jump-off that all came down to speed.

While the USA’s Jessica Springsteen attracted legions of new fans to the sport, the rider and Haygain ambassador herself was laser-focused on the huge hurdles she and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve faced in the arena.

“With Haygain’s help, I can make sure the hay wherever I go is never dusty,” noted Jessica early in her embrace of Steamed Hay. “It’s bacteria-free, so my horses don’t have any issues during competitions.”

Team USA’s anchor pair, McLain Ward, and Beechwood Stables’ Contagious, laid it all on the line in the Friday night jump-off. Knowing their time, Sweden’s anchors, Peder Fredricson and All In, continued their remarkable Olympic streak with a gold-clinching time. Contagious doesn’t have All In’s backstory (yet!) but he has overcome some challenges to get to the top.

A few years ago, Contagious had a classic example of subtle respiratory challenges that can easily go unnoticed. “Even when he was fit, he’d sometimes lose steam at the end of a course,” noted his at-home groom Owen Rogers. It did not present as any kind of major health issue, but the meticulous care team at Ward’s Castle Hill Farm wanted to address it. They turned to Steamed Hay for its ability to reduce respiratory irritants and allergens in his hay. Over three rounds of team jumping, there was certainly no hint of respiratory limitations.

Dressage

This discipline’s team and individual podiums were heavily stacked with Haygain Hay Steamers. Team Gold and Individual Silver Medalist, Germany’s Isabell Werth, leads that list. She’s followed by fellow Haygain believer Charlotte Dujardin, Team and Individual Bronze Medalist. “We like to keep things as simple and natural as possible, and feeding clean hay is a great way to do that,” explains the triple Olympic Gold medalist from 2012 and 2016.

USA Team Silver medalist Steffen Peters is relatively new to Haygain. His partner, Suppenkasper is now the world-famous #RaveHorse thanks to TikTok fame generated by his lovely Freestyle performance. Suppenkasper never had any health issues that led to adding Steamed Hay, but Steffen considers it an “integral part of our health program for our horses,” he said during a spectacular string of successes in Florida early this year. “We have seen great improvements in their performance and overall wellness!”

 

Coughs and Hives on Hiatus at Four Schools Farm

Joanie Morris of Four Schools Farm. Photo by Brant Gramma Photography.

Memorial Day is extra memorable at Four Schools Farm for unusual reasons. The late May holiday is when Joanie Morris’ 7-year-old eventing partner, Betterthanexpected, breaks out in hives. It was to the point that his hair fell out and bouts of troubled skin lasted for weeks at a time. Since “Admiral” came to Joanie and her husband Richard Picken’s Lexington, Kentucky farm as a 3-year-old, “We could set our clock by his hives.”

Not this year.

The former Managing Director of Eventing for the United States Equestrian Federation, Joanie is a lifelong horsewoman familiar with myriad allergic reactions in horses. Often, they occur in horses imported from Europe, likely due to the change in environment. But Admiral is a Thoroughbred born and raised in Kentucky, so that couldn’t be blamed. “I don’t know if it’s the humidity, rain or something in the grass,” Joanie says.

Haygain Hay Steaming reduces up to 99% of the dust, mold and other allergens found even in forage of good nutritional quality. Because avoiding allergens is the best way to avoid allergies, it has “made a huge difference for Admiral.”

It has also helped him with another issue of unknown origin: a random cough that cropped up a few years ago. Like the hives, the cough never caused Admiral to miss a day of work. Veterinary checks eliminated the possibility of a serious issue related to the cough, but confirmed Joanie’s conviction that, “As an athlete, it just can’t be good for you.”

Haygain Steamed Hay has taken care of the cough, too. Joanie was reminded of that when Admiral returned from several days out in pasture during a post-competition break. “When we brought him back into the barn, we forgot to steam his hay the first day. The first time I got on him, he coughed three times right away.”

Helping Timaru, Too!

Steamed Hay has been a big help for another Four Schools horse: the recently retired Timaru, owned by young rider Colin Gaffney. The senior citizen 3* eventer had a slight bleed from one nostril when stressed or after an especially rigorous jump outing. It occurred intermittently at first, then more regularly.

Nebulizer treatments didn’t help and veterinary exams did not determine a cause. Without a diagnosis, they could not recommend a specific treatment. Like Admiral, Timaru performed as if nothing was bothering him, but Joanie figured that blowing capillaries in his nose had to be agitating.

After starting Haygain Steamed Hay, Timaru completed the most rigorous events of his career: two CCI3*-L events, throughout which there were no nose bleeds. Haygain was the only change in his daily routine before that happy outcome. “I like isolating the variables so you can kind of find out what’s working,” Joanie explains. “Haygain has made a huge difference for him, too.”

Joanie’s not saying Haygain Steamed Hay is a magic panacea for everything. Admiral, for example, showed different allergy symptoms while competing in Aiken, South Carolina this spring. The triggers in that setting seem to involve sand and rain, Joanie surmises. And his hives have occasionally hinted at returning, but with nowhere near the severity or duration. A Steamed Hay diet made both cases much more manageable, she reports.

A Four Schools Fit

Joanie and Richard sought out Steamed Hay as a good fit for Four Schools Farm’s focus on highest quality horse care. Located on 33 acres in prime Bluegrass country, the farm is home to 15 or so horses who receive individualized care and training. It regularly hosts professional riders visiting for tune-ups: Tokyo-bound Liz Halliday-Sharp (a fellow Hay Steamer) and Deniro Z, for example, stopped by for a jump school shortly before leaving for Europe.

Joanie and Richard’s resumes illustrate involvement in and contributions to the highest levels of equestrian sport. At home, this is reflected in their horses’ care. A Wordley Martin Arena, ample cross-country and conditioning acreage and dust-free AirLite cardboard bedding are a few of the amenities combined with world class horse care knowledge and experience.

Four Schools was named after a special wedding gift Joanie and Richard received when they married in 2013: a 12-year-old steeplechase star trained by Eclipse award winner Richard Valentine. Preparing “Four Schools” for a new career wasn’t easy, but he and Joanie went onto a successful run in the eventing world. Today, he is “fat, shiny and happy” living with a donkey pal out in pasture at a lovely farm named after him.

Coming Soon to Galway Downs: Liz Halliday-Sharp Clinic Now Open for Registration

Liz Halliday-Sharp & Cooley Quicksilver competing at Galway Downs. Photo by Kim Miller.

Under the category of making lemonade from lemons, Liz Halliday-Sharp’s heartbreaking withdrawal from Tokyo has turned into an opportunity to clinic with her. On Friday and Saturday July 30-31 at the Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula, California, slots are open both mornings for private dressage work, then small group show jumping and cross-country schooling.

Liz has been so busy campaigning her many horses, that there haven’t been many chances to give clinics, so it’s a great time to grab a chance to learn from the 2020 USEA Rider of the Year! Interested participants can sign up for this clinic opportunity here – you can pick and choose which phases you’d like help with, but it’s strongly recommended that riders do a lesson with Liz on the flat or over fences before doing a cross country lesson.

So, just as Olympic eventing is getting underway, we can all get some tips on learning to ride and manage our horses like an equestrian who earned her spot on the team. Let’s give Liz a warm West Coast Welcome!

Introducing Haygain’s Forager: Bringing Nature’s Genius to Horse Management

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Horses in their natural habitat spend over half their day eating. Between 12 and 16 hours are spent with their head lowered, grazing forage that ranges from easy-to-get grasses to blades and stems that are hard to extract and often contain very little caloric energy.

It’s a way of life that leads to virtually zero colic, ulcers, excess weight and metabolic imbalances. Cribbing, weaving and other boredom behaviors are non-issues.

Very few horses live that way these days.

Most riding horses live in settings where stable management realities dictate feeding schedules and methods. Delivered only two or three times a day, meals often consist of high-energy concentrate processed feeds with little to no forage available throughout the day. Most horses spend only 10 percent of their day eating, versus the eight to 10 hours considered a minimum for physical and mental well-being.

Receiving only intermittent, small meals alerts the body’s food-scarcity mechanisms, including stress over the whereabouts of their next meal. The gaps between meals trigger fat storage, increasing the chance of obesity. And, less time spent chewing throughout the day means less production of saliva that protects against gastric ulcers. Unlike the human digestive system, the horse’s gut produces acid all the time and it is only neutralized by saliva.

Harnessing Nature’s Methods

Haygain’s Forager brings nature’s genius to healthy horse management. Designed in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University in England, The Forager has unique features that resulted from extensive research – Haygain’s hallmark. These make it an ideal stable management solution for many reasons.

Holding approximately 26 pounds of hay, the 28″ tall Forager enables the lowered-head eating position nature intended. A regulator grid with holes of different sizes sits on top of the hay. The horse pulls hay through one bite at a time, ensuring slow consumption and smaller bites. The extra chewing that is required maintains saliva flow which becomes a buffer between the stomach lining and the naturally occurring acids waiting there to digest food. Saliva is a good natural defense against ulcers that affect one in three leisure horses

Recently completed research with four stabled horses determined that the Forager can significantly extend hay consumption time compared to time spent eating loose hay or forage in a hay net.

Foragers come with Standard and Easy regulators: the latter is ideal for introducing horses to the slow feeder or serving horses with different needs.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Many Benefits

Boredom Busting: Pulling pieces of forage through the regulator grid is a natural, healthy and more fulfilling pastime than cribbing, stall weaving and other vices.

Extended mealtimes are especially helpful for horses on restricted diets. Measuring heart rate and eye blink frequency as stress level indicators, the aforementioned study showed metrics that were very close to each participant’s baseline when eating out of the Forager.

Respiratory Health: Haygain’s Forager keeps the hay separate from stall bedding, a huge source of dust, mold, bacteria and other inhalable particles that can irritate and harm the respiratory system. The Forager’s 28″ height facilitates a natural, lowered-head eating position used by grazing horses. This allows for exhalation and drainage of breathable particles present in all hay.

Inviting Design: Four openings between the side walls of the circular shaped Forager allow ventilation and light that encourages the horse to delve deeply into their forage. Even the top ring’s light color was chosen for its proven appeal to horses.

Less Waste: Separating forage from the floor eliminates waste of hay that otherwise gets walked into the bedding, manure and urine. It also reduces the risk of ingesting sand and dirt.

Safety: The regulator is constructed of sturdy, durable, yet flexible engineered plastic. The Forager grid slows the horse without frustrating it. Dental damage that can occur with metal grids is not an issue.

Convenience: The Forager’s exterior grey ring lowers as the horse eats down his hay supply, providing an easy-to-see consumption level. The regulator’s click-and-secure system allows effortless filling of the Forager and grid swapping.

The unit’s base can be filled with sand for stand-alone stability in the stall or outside. It can also be secured to a wall using built-in fixing points. Drains at the base ease cleaning and let out rainwater. Assembly and disassembly are easy for travel and cleaning.

Haygain is proud to include the Haygain Forager in its roster of science-backed horse health products. Along with Haygain Hay Steamers and Haygain ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, The Forager is an important part of natural, healthy horse care: “The Haygain Way.” For more information, visit www.haygain.us.

Alliston, Greengard, Baxter & Billys Top a Full House at Woodside

James Alliston & Gabriella Ringer’s Get Wild. Photography, complements of Kellerhouse Presents.

With 400 horses accepted and 100 on the waitlist, there were enough exhibitors and support team members at The Spring Event at Woodside to make it seem that spectators were once again fully allowed to come. Especially for the Preliminary Challenge, a popular West Coast tradition that draws all to the Grand Prix ring Saturday evening. But the spectator who mattered most to Preliminary Challenge Horse division leader, James Alliston, wasn’t there for the show jumping finalé.

Having sustained a broken pelvis in an Advanced division cross-country fall earlier, James’ wife and Alliston Eventing partner, Helen, was at the Stanford University hospital nearby. James withdrew his Advanced mount, Paper Jam, and three horses from Open Intermediate. Helen, however, was having none of the idea that James would also withdraw Get Wild, the client-owned horse on whom he was leading the Preliminary Challenge Horse division after dressage Friday and a clear go on cross-country that morning.

“Helen said ‘Go do it!’ and I do as I’m told,” explained James, who represents Great Britain and is based in the East Bay Area. Event organizer Robert Kellerhouse Facetimed James and Get Wild’s winning show jump so Helen could watch from the hospital.

Found and competed through YEH by Matt Flynn, and owned by young rider Gabriella Ringer, the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood had been handed to James for a little fine tuning in competition. Riding last in front of enthusiastic VIP tents and a berm filled with cheering exhibitors, James and Get Wild continued their fault free jumping. That enabled a finish on their 28.3 dressage score awarded by Robert Stevenson and Vicky Matisi-Stasuk.

“He’s an incredibly sweet horse,” said James, who started riding Get Wild on the recommendation of his owner’s trainer, Adrienne Hillas. “He’s quite sound sensitive. When there is a lot going on, noises, traffic, etc., he gets a bit nervous. LIke all the good ones, he’s a bit sharper, so I just tried to put him in a situation where he could relax more.”

Helen Alliston’s Advanced horse, Ebay, had a big lead over that field after their 26.3 dressage performance. Her partner in Galway Downs CCI4*-S reserve in March, Ebay emerged unscathed from the Woodside fall. She is scheduled for surgery Monday and James anticipates he’ll be riding her horses for a while. “I’ll just try not to break them!”

“Everyone was awesome,” he said of the crew at Alliston Eventing who stepped up in many ways. “It’s the benefit of having such a big family barn. We have the good will of all the clients and friends, and people to help pick up the slack and give Helen time to mend.”

Marc Grandia and Sunsprite Seryndipity had just 1.2 time faults in their show jumping to move up into reserve on a 32.7. Josey Thompson and Pistol Annie were third on a 35.4. Below James and Get Wild’s consistent lead, there was a lot of movement in the standings for the 11-horse field.

Tommy Greengard & Joshuay MBF. Photo by Tina Fitch Photography, complements of Kellerhouse Presents.

            Greengard Notches Another Goal

In the Preliminary Challenge Rider division, young professional Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF fulfilled a goal they’d set for themselves early in the year. “Andrea Pfeiffer (of Chocolate Horse Farm) and I joked about coming here to win it, but really we just wanted to have a good round and continue our strong spring,” Tommy explained. They had three “good rounds” to maintain their dressage lead on a 30.2 throughout.

One year into his partnership with the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Tommy praised the Preliminary Challenge’s unique format of having cross-country and show jumping on the same day. “Especially for a young horse and, as a developing rider myself, to show jump at the end of the day, when you’re a little bit tired and it’s unfamiliar, is a great opportunity.”

The electric Saturday evening atmosphere was new, too. “He really lit up in the best possible way. He jumped his heart out for me and I think he liked the crowd: I think it made him a little bit sharper.” They didn’t have a rail to spare and Tommy was happy about rising to the pressure that comes with that. It helped that he rode client Brooklyn Reis’s FE Nikki Beach first over Chris Barnard and Kelly James’ track. “He was phenomenal, and it allowed me to take a deep breath before coming back in with Josh.” Finishing with just one rail, Tommy was fourth with the 10-year-old German Sporthorse on a 38.6.

In between Tommy’s first and fourth finishes, Haley Dwight and WS Radagast were second on 34.9 and Taylor McFall and High Times were third on a 37.5.

Andrea Baxter & Indy 500 & Laguna Seca. Photo by Tina Fitch Photography, complements of Kellerhouse Presents.

Mother & Son 1st & 5th in Advanced

The 16-year-old Thoroughbred Indy 500 has been going Advanced for nine years, but “Advanced never gets old,” reports her owner and teammate in acquiring that mileage, Andrea Baxter. The pair topped the division after coming back from a COVID-related break. The “old pro” put in one of “her top cross-country performances” over an Ian Stark and Bert Wood track that “rode a little tougher than I thought it would,” reflected Andrea. “Some of the drops and spreads were impressively big.” They started in third after a 30.5 dressage score in the Advanced Eventing Test B judged by Amanda Miller. Cross-country added 2.4 time penalties, followed by the division’s only double clear show jump for a 32.9 win.

Far less experienced at the level is Indy 500’s son, Laguna Seca, the 17.1 hand, 11-year-old Holsteiner. Fresh from winning the CCI4*-S at the Baxter family’s Twin Rivers Ranch in April, “Junior” brought his best mental game to the challenging dressage test. “For a green Advanced horse, this test is a big ask,” Andrea commented. “It has two counter canters, four lead changes, a half pass, etc. It’s the prep for the 5* test.” While Junior’s lead changes came a little late, the rider was thrilled that “he stayed relaxed and listening to me.” A single rail in show jumping landed Laguna Seca four rungs below his mom, in fifth.

For second place finisher Lauren Billys, Woodside was a critical comeback before the Tokyo Olympics. The Carmel, California-based pro and Castle Larchfield Purdy will make their second Olympic appearance for Puerto Rico in August.

They had intended the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day in April as their last major outing, but on that rainy cross-country, things did not go as hoped. “It was the first time I had to walk off the course with Purdy, and it was an eye opener for me.” The realization that “I should not be relieved to be done, I should be excited to go out” triggered a renewed commitment to bolder riding and a tougher mentality on course. “I really put the pressure on myself and I’m glad I did. It turned out to be a great weekend.”

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve had a happier outing at the Kentucky CCI4* and they continued their long string of progressive successes with a third place finish in the Woodside Advanced.

Open Intermediate

Lauren Billys was also thrilled to top the Open Intermediate leaderboard with Can Be Sweet, a 9-year-old German Sporthorse. “We were always the second and third placed pair last year, and with this and winning the CCI2* at Galway Downs it seems like we have broken that curse.”

She had high praise for all aspects of the show. “In both divisions, the courses were really good, the ground was well prepared, it was well organized and everything was really spot-on.” The cross-country courses were just what was needed. “At Intermediate and Advanced, they were enough of a challenge that you really had to put your leg on and make things happen. The horses gave positive feedback to that and both came off more confident. I’m really happy about everything.”

Can Be Sweet finished dressage with a 27.1, second only to James Alliston and Nemesis’ 24.5, which led the 27-pair division on Friday in front of judge Amanda Miller. James maintained the lead with Nemesis after fault-free cross-country before withdrawing to accompany his wife after her fall. A few cross-country time penalties and .4 in show jumping resulted in a Can Be Sweet’s 33.5 to top the day.

One of Lauren’s coaches, Bea DiGrazia, finished second on Ringwood Isabell, on a 35.2, and amateur Lauren Burnell and Counterpoint made big move ups after dressage to stand third on a 38.

A Full House

Like the riders of 400-plus horses competing over the holiday weekend, organizer Robert Kellerhouse was happy to be back at the beautiful Horse Park at Woodside with his Kellerhouse Presents crew. The hub of Northern California equestrian activity for many years, the venue has undergone continual upgrades in footing, stabling and other areas. It continues to be an in-demand destination for eventers throughout the West.

Exhibitors and members of their support teams made it feel like there were more spectators on hand than COVID has allowed over the last 14 months. “We are really looking forward to inviting spectators to our events here in August and October, if all goes well with the pandemic,” Kellerhouse said. “Meanwhile, we are very appreciative of the support of our riders and we are very happy to have put on a great event.”

As The Spring Events sponsors, Uvex, Voltaire, Equine Insurance and APF are equally important and much appreciated.

Next Up for Kellerhouse Presents

Aug. 12-15: The Summer Event at Woodside

October 7-10: The International Event at Woodside

Nov. 3-7: Galway Downs International CCI4*-L at Galway Downs in Temecula

For more information on eventing competitions at The Horse Park at Woodside, visit www.horsepark.org. For more information on eventing competition at Galway Downs in Temecula, visit www.galwaydowns.net.

 

Twin Rivers Ranch Has Big Plans for 2021

Amber Levine & Cinzano receive the inaugural McKinlaigh Cup, presented by Thom Schulz, during the inaugural CCI4*-L. Photo by Ride On Photo.

The complete realization of a dream hatched 20 years ago and steadily advanced since then occurred April 8-11 with the Twin Rivers Spring International. From the presentation of the McKinlaigh Cup to the winner of the inaugural CCI4*-L, Amber Levine and Cinzano, to those testing their skills at Beginner Novice over five full days of competition, Twin Rivers’ mission of hosting highest quality eventing competition was realized.

Nearly 500 horse/rider pairs used every inch of the spring-green 500-acre property. Earth moving miracles, expert footing management and creative course design gave all tracks a fresh feel. A highlight is entirely new segments on previously unused property for the Long formats. International division dressage took place atop the hill in the Flag Ring, with colorful banners gracing a new Jog Lane and amplifying the electric atmosphere. New permanent show stabling welcomed many horses.

Spectators couldn’t come, but the Ride On Video livestream logged 55 hours of viewership from close to 4,000 fans. Sponsors stepped up with $15,000 in prizes. The mammoth task of running multiple divisions over multiple days was handled with smooth efficiency, with the safety and enjoyment of all as the top priority. Reflecting the community’s embrace of Twin Rivers, volunteers came out in force to fill the unusually high need over five days.

Twin Rivers’ owners, the Baxter family — immediate and extended — pulled off this remarkable feat. They could rest on their laurels.

They’re not.

Upgrades to courses, footing, stabling and landscaping are poised to welcome a full slate of competition through the year. Like the venue itself, the Twin Rivers calendar is growing in stature as it hosts an increasing number of regional, national and internationally significant events.

Summer Horse Trials

The Summer Horse Trials will host an Interscholastic Eventing League Team Challenge during its July 1-4 staging. This is a new US Eventing Association program designed for Middle and High School age eventers, paralleling similar programs in the hunter/jumper and dressage disciplines. The IEL Team Challenges give young riders a feel for the USEA’s Intercollegiate Eventing Program, through forming, practicing with and representing their team in competition. Twin Rivers is proud to support this new endeavor.

Introductory through Advanced pairs will contest the Horse Trials. Also on the agenda are qualifiers for the USEA Future Event Horse and USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. (This will be staged for a second time together at Twin Rivers in October.) Summer Horse Trials entries open May 18 and close June 15.

The Fall International

The Fall International, Sept. 23-26, is a jewel in the West Coast eventing circuit. Divisions up to CCI4*-S are highlights alongside a first hosting of the Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge. An evolution of the North American Youth Championship program, this new Nations Cup-style format for 14-25 year-old riders involves a series of Challenges, culminating in a West and East Coast Final.

October’s Young Horse Championships

The final major event of the season is the USEA Future Event Horse & USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships (and an FEH qualifier), Oct. 29-30. The Twin Rivers team went out on a limb hosting both West Coast championships concurrently for the first-time last year and to very positive response. Expectations are high for an even better, bigger experience this fall.

Get Involved: Volunteer & Sponsor!

A generous volunteer incentive program continues through the year. Full-day helpers receive $60 vouchers toward future competitions, half-day helpers earn $30 vouchers. Each show’s volunteers are entered into a drawing for prize packs filled with useful goodies from Twin Rivers sponsors. Hours are tracked through the year for entry into a year-end raffle. Prizes include a Twin Rivers entry, stabling, cross-country schooling voucher and more.

Presenting sponsors include Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes; Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Get Away RV Rentals, which delivers fully-outfitted RVs to the venue for those who want to stay on site.
Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties, and RevitaVet Light Therapy, an industry leader in preventative maintenance and rehabilitative devices.

In between the major competitions, Twin Rivers hosts one-day events in eventing and dressage, and clinics. Year-round, the venue is open for cross-country schooling by advance reservation.

Twin Rivers Ranch memberships include unlimited access to all open facilities — for two horses with the same owner. Members are exempt from non-member fees at all schooling shows, and family members and/or additional horses can be added to the Twin Rivers Ranch membership at a modest additional cost.

The Calendar

Schooling One Day Horse Trials: May 23
Schooling Show: June 6
CDS Dressage: June 12-13
Summer Horse Trials: July 1-4 (featuring the Interscholastic Eventing League Team Challenge)
Area VI Adult Camp: July 30-31
CDS Dressage: Aug. 14-15
Fall International: Sept. 23-26 (featuring the Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge)
USEA Future Event Horse & USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships (and an FEH qualifier), Oct. 29-30.
Schooling Halloween Horse Trials: Oct. 31

Fast Facts:

Sponsorship Inquiries: Christina Gray at Gray Area Events for sponsorship opportunities: email: [email protected]
Location: 8715 N. River Road, Paso Robles, CA. 93446; email: [email protected]

Ride Times: Available www.twinrivershorsepark.com a few days before competition begins.

Results: www.twinrivershorsepark.com

Show Photographer: Ride On Photo by Tayler

Video: Ride On Video

Volunteer: www.twinrivershorsepark.com/volunteer

Welcome to Asthma & Allergy Season: Again!

Photo by Adobe Stock.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America declared May Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in 1984. The goal of “31 days of action for the over 65 million people in the U.S. affected by asthma and allergies” is tackled with education, research and public engagement.

Determining that allergy seasons are getting longer and creating the 2021 Allergy Capitals™ Report are among the organization’s good works. Scranton, PA, Richmond, VA and Wichita, KS, are this year’s “winners.”

The equestrian world does not have an exact corollary effort, but veterinarians, horse owners and other stakeholders acknowledge the increasing impact of asthma and allergies on the equine population. One example is adoption of the term “Equine Asthma Spectrum” a few years ago. The intent by the veterinary community is to improve awareness and understanding by aligning descriptions of the progression of asthma in horses with those in people.

Asthma is inflammation in the respiratory tract and allergies are caused by allergens that trigger the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Those defenses are inflammation and, in the respiratory system, mucus. Their presence in the airways makes it hard to breathe.

As in people, asthma and allergies are inextricably intertwined in most equine cases. Related respiratory challenges are considered by many to be the biggest performance limiter in otherwise healthy horses.

In a recent study conducted at the Royal Agricultural University in the U.K., 400 potential allergens were evaluated in horses that have Severe Equine Asthma. Along with known allergens including fungi and mites, the study results identified previously unidentified allergens including latex and pollen. At an average size of 6-8 microns, pollen had been thought too big a particle to infiltrate the equine lung. It’s now been recognized as an extremely potent allergen for some horses.

Helping prevent, manage and treat allergies and asthma in horses are year-round priorities for Haygain. Core products, Haygain Hay Steamers and Haygain ComfortStall Flooring, address the critical aspect of prevention and management: cleaning up the horse’s environment. Both products significantly reduce the quantity of respiratory particles in forage and the stall.

Bringing a little bit of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month into the horse world, Haygain maintains a growing library of resources related to helping horses avoid or manage these conditions. Haygain is proud to be at the leading edge of the ongoing evolution of thought and knowledge regarding horses’ respiratory health and overall well-being.

For more information on Haygain High Temperature Hay Steaming and Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, visit Haygain.us.

Haygain: Clean Hay Is a Kentucky Consensus

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

True horsemen treat every horse as an individual. Along with all aspects of their care, nutrition routines are carefully calibrated. Body type and tendencies, intensity of work, food sensitivities and temperament are all considered, and the plan is continually monitored and tweaked.

For all that individualism, however, there’s a consensus in the nutrition plan for many of the contenders in this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event CCI5*. This eventing competition, April 22-25, is one of only five held at this level worldwide and it demands the highest level of preparedness and performance. 

The consensus? Steamed Hay. 

Will Coleman, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Lauren Nicholson, Tamie Smith, Allison Springer, Will Faudree and Caroline Martin are among the American 5* contenders to consider it critical. They are joined by Lauren Billys, Lynn Symansky and Alyssa Phillips in the CCI4*-S running concurrent with the 5* this year. 

William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio II. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Entered with Oratorio, many-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain is one of the earliest believers in the benefits of Haygain’s high-temperature steamed hay. And several horses representing New Zealand in the 5* will benefit from arrangements made to ensure steamed hay for them while at the Kentucky Horse Park.

It’s that important. 

Like clean air and clean water, clean hay is critical to horse health and performance.  As developed by Haygain, the high-temperature steaming process produces that clean hay. By attaining and maintaining temperatures of up to 212°F in a thermally-sealed container, steaming eliminates up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of good nutrient content. 

Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

These problematic particles are invisible and microscopic: small enough to slip past the respiratory system’s natural defenses. Anywhere they settle in the upper and lower respiratory tract, they can trigger irritation and inflammation that restricts airflow. When these problematic particles get into the lungs, they can restrict the transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream. 

All living beings need oxygen. Because their bodies are 60% muscle, horses need a lot of it. Horses galloping full tilt over four miles, flying over immovable obstacles, as they will in Kentucky, need all the oxygen they can get. This is a main reason why Haygain’s green logo-ed black chests have become ubiquitous at eventing competitions, including this biggest one in North America.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Kentucky contenders sought out Haygain for different reasons. Liz Halliday-Sharp started steaming to help prevent a recurrence of ulcers in Deniro Z.  For Tamie Smith, it was her retired 5* horse, Wembley, whose picky appetite made it hard to keep weight on. When Lauren Billy‘s 2016 Olympic partner Castle Larchfield Purdy developed Inflammatory Airway Disease, steamed hay became critical to his management. Once they started steaming, there was no looking back.

Caroline Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Caroline Martin steams because she understands that even “really good” hay has bad things in it. “Forage is 90% of horse’s diet, so if you miss something that important, it just opens doors for anything bad to happen.”

Like a lot of horsemen in and out of the competitive ranks, Lauren Nicholson keeps her horses on it to prevent problems. As her contemporary and fellow Kentucky competitor Will Coleman states, “Being able to guarantee dust-free forage for our horses has been a game changer for us.”

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Often described as “The Best Weekend of the Year,” the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day almost didn’t happen this year because of COVID-related funding issues. Rider-led international fundraising efforts got it back on the schedule and anticipation is high for a terrific competition. Alas, no spectators, but USEF Network is broadcasting the action starting Thursday, April 22, with phase 1 dressage. 

While each pair prepared in their own way, steamed hay is common ground for many contenders on this exciting, highest level stage.

Amber Levine and Cinzano Win Twin Rivers’ Inaugural CCI4*-L and First McKinlaigh Cup

Amber Levine and Cinzano take their victory lap. Photo by The West Equestrian.

“Too plain” is not a description that fits this weekend’s wire-to-wire winner of the Spring International’s inaugural CCI4*-L. But that’s what Amber Levine heard five years ago after importing the now 10-year-old Holsteiner as a sales prospect. So, she kept him. His long-delayed debut at the 4*-L level proved the wisdom of that decision.

“By far, he exceeded my every expectation this week,” said Levine, whose relatively new focus with her own business, Cellar Farm, is sales horses. “He was 100 percent with me every step of the way, in every phase.” He’s a talented jumper, but unlucky rails and “training moments” were obstacles the last few years. “Today, it felt like everything really came together.”

Winning the inaugural CCI 4*-L was sweetened by having Cinzano be the first horse to receive the McKinlaigh Cup, donated by long-time eventing supporter Thom Schulz. Schulz and his late wife, Laura, owned the Irish Sporthorse who partnered with Gina Miles in 2008 Olympic individual silver for the United States. McKinlaigh was developed and lived out his retired life at the couple’s Rainbow Ranch in nearby Creston.

Of his motivation for boosting the 4*-L prize money and donating the McKinlaigh Cup, Schulz referenced his long-time friendship with and appreciation for the Baxter family who owns Twin Rivers Ranch. Pointing to 5* eventer Andrea Baxter, he said, “I started riding with this kid. I was 49 and she was 10, I think. Laura and I supported what the family was doing with Twin Rivers then and it has become such a wonderful venue for us to have. Laura would have been tickled to be part of this Four-Star.”

Amber poses with one of her prizes, a custom Twin Rivers jump filler from Dragonfire Farm.

And McKinlaigh? “Oh, he would have loved it!” Schulz said of the horse who enjoyed 10 years of green pasture retirement before passing last January. Schulz explained that the Cup is an actual trophy won by Laura at the Forum National Horse Show in the 1970s.

Quality Counts

Marc Grandia and Campari FFF. Photo by The West Equestrian.

As is typical of upper-level West Coast eventing in general, the FEI divisions were light compared to East Coast competitions. The inaugural Spring International CCI4*-L was all set for a big launch last year until the pandemic. This year, reshuffled schedules and general uncertainly likely contributed to a lower than usual turn-out. Quantity, however, can’t be confused with quality.

Exhibitors and officials expressed universal praise for all aspects of the competition. Hosting nearly 500 horses from 4*-L through Beginner Novice put things back on pre-pandemic turf and it’s predicted the ripple effect of everybody’s good experience will help the numbers next year.

A large contingent came from the Northwest, where snow was still on the ground in some places earlier this week. At Twin Rivers’ rolling, green 500 acres, cool mornings gave way to high-70s/low-80s temperatures, blue skies and pleasant breezes.

With only four contenders after a fifth withdrew during Thursday’s jog, the 4*-L field still faced the level’s normal big challenges. Second-place finisher Campari FFF, campaigned by Marc Grandia, was the only one among the four horses who’d run the level before, but all gave solid performances that bode well for the future.

Levine and Cinzano added only .8 time faults to their dressage score to finish on a 32.3. Grandia and Campari picked up two time penalties over Marc Donovan’s technical and turny show jump, holding their runner-up position on a 38.3. Technically, it’s the first 4*-L completion for Campari. A wrong fence at the second-to-last jump on the 4*-L course at Galway Downs in the Fall didn’t count as an official debut, but it proved Campari’s capabilities at the level.

Working toward this goal since December, the “aggressive horse” horse finally had a funnel for his pent-up preparedness. “I think he felt great to finally get to run and get a little bit tired,” Grandia said. “That’s the kind of horse he is.” Favorite elements included the white-painted Race Track Rails and the Ruin complex. After prepping around the track these last several weeks, Campari “pricked his ears at those and was given a little pause,” Grandia said. None of which prevented him from finishing seven seconds under the time on cross-country.

The Washington-based professional has been designing Twin Rivers’ lower-level cross-country courses since he started wintering here four years ago. In that role and as a rider, he’s impressed by how “everybody has been uplifted by the commitment the Baxters have made to everything: the decorations, the jumps, the footing. Everything.”

Bec Brailting explained that Twin Rivers’ Flag Ring, at 160′ x 300′, is a relatively small space, into which Donovan packed jumps that came up quick, especially for a big horse like Arnell Sporthorses’ Caravaggio II. One rail and 1.6 time faults held their third position on a 52. More than holding her own against the veterans, 20-year-old professional Madison Temkin had a very respectable finish with the Thoroughbred Dr. Hart, with whom she’s moved up the levels over five years.

Patterson Finishes 3*-L as Strong as She Started

Alina Patterson and Flashback. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Eighteen-year-old Alina Patterson of Washington and her own Flashback finished a spectacular West Coast tour by winning their first CCI3*-L on a 35.2. They had two rails to work with, so the one they dropped in show jumping didn’t alter the standings.

“He was incredible in all three phases, starting with being super in the sand box,” said Patterson. “On cross-country he never got tired and he had plenty in the tank today.” She thanked her coach John Camlin of Caber Farms and her parents for helping her achieve this significant win. Flashback’s trip home will include “all the treats he wants, then he’ll have two well-deserved weeks off.”

Alessandra Alexander-Shinn’s horse Fool Me Once had ample energy for show jumping. Their one rail left them on a 43.4 for second.

Alliston Jumps Up to Win CCI2*-L

James Alliston and Calero. Photo by The West Equestrian.

The overnight standings were very tight and show jumping shuffled them significantly. James Alliston and Calaro’s double clear elevated them from fourth to first on a 31.4. A full brother to Grandia’s Campari FFF, by the Holsteiner Camiros, the 9-year-old is “good at everything,” Alliston said. He arrived at James and Helen Alliston’s Alliston Eventing two years ago with a solid dressage track record and has won or been second in every event he’s run so far. “He’s a full Warmblood, but you wouldn’t know it because he is really energetic and fast. I’m hoping he can step into the same sort of class as his brother.”

Calaro is also a challenge, chimed in Grandia, speaking from his own experiences with his older, but smaller brother. “They are very opinionated,” said Grandia, who recalled starting Calaro over fences. “It makes them fantastic when you can bring them along to your side, but they don’t want anyone telling them what they can and can’t do. He’s a fun one to watch and I think he has found his match in James.”

Also having a double clear effort, Josey Thompson and the 13-year-old Holsteiner Pistol Annie moved up from 6th to 2nd on a 32.2. Marissa Nielsen and Global Absolute’s beautiful debut at the level was marred by a rail that knocked them from first to third, but expectations are high for this the 7-year-old Mecklenburg who finished on a 32.3.

Terrific Team Effort

Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca. Photo by The West Equestrian.

“We were super excited to get the chance — a year delayed — to run our 4*-L,” said show secretary Christina Gray of Gray Area Events. “It could not have been done without the tremendous effort of our course building team and staff, who put in countless hours to make a fabulous playing field.”

Each member of the Baxter family organizing committee enjoyed seeing dreams manifest at their home property. As the owner of Whirlwind Excavating, Jeff Baxter took particular pride in “seeing all the new aspects of the cross-country that we built being used in one course.” His favorites include the new “terrain park” following along the Salinas River property border, the race track features and the flyover bridge and underpass.

Connie Baxter loved seeing the work she invested before 500 horses and their people arrived come to life and be enjoyed by all as the warm and welcoming atmosphere Twin Rivers is known for, even in this year when spectators couldn’t come. “Then we turn the reins over to Christina Gray and everything ran smoothly,” she noted.

Along with winning the CCI4*-S with her homebred Laguna Seca, Andrea Baxter fielded compliments all weekend. “I’d like to take credit, but those compliments all go out in different directions and I need to dish them out where they’re due.”

Sponsors

Long format winners went home with armloads of prizes and cash, compliments of Twin Rivers’ generous sponsors. Presenting sponsors include Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of sports medicine boots for equine athletes; Auburn Labs, manufacturers of the adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, people and dogs; Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors; and Get Away RV Rentals, which delivers fully-outfitted RVs to the venue for those who want to stay on site.

Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; and Chubby Cov, makers of beautiful custom stock ties.

Up Next

The Spring International anchors an exciting year of competition at Twin Rivers Ranch. The Fall International in September is a fixture of the West Coast circuit and the 2021 season finalé is another prestigious calendar highlight: The Future Event Horse and Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. These two West Coast championships were staged together for the first time last year by the Twin Rivers team, receiving high praise from all involved.

  • Schooling One Day Horse Trials: May 23
  • Schooling Show: June 6
  • CDS Dressage: June 12-13
  • Summer Horse Trials: July 1-4
  • Area VI Adult Camp: July 30-31
  • CDS Dressage: Aug. 14-15
  • Fall International: Sept. 23-26
  • USEA Future Event Horse & USEA Dutta Corp. Young Event Horse West Coast Championships (and an FEH qualifier), Oct. 29-30.
  • Schooling Halloween Horse Trials: Oct. 31