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Martin, Smith & Burnell Claim Galway Downs International Victories

Boyd Martin & Luke 140. Photo by Kim Miller.

Boyd Martin had only competed once at Galway Downs, many years ago and, by his own account, “I did terrible.” After clear show jumping rounds in the CCI4*-L today secured the win on Luke 140 and third on Long Island T, Martin has a far more favorable impression to replace that bad memory.

“I came out here thinking ‘Ludwig’ (Long Island T) might beat Luke this weekend. But it was Luke’s weekend and I’m really glad I brought him out here.” Martin said he’s been touting the horse’s international potential to his many-member owner syndicate for two years and “this weekend is the first real moment that proves it.” While Long Island T’s usual strong point, dressage, was off due to excess energy, Martin was thrilled with his cross-country and show jumping.

Boyd Martin & Long Island T. Photo by Kim Miller.

Martin said both horses’ experience set them up for 5* excursions and the overall experience will likely lead him back to Galway Downs from his East Coast base. “I’d like to come here every year. Especially for the young horses, it’s a great experience to fly out here. The cross-country course was very challenging and both horses learned a lot. I’d prefer a trip like this than going overseas. It’s cheaper and the standard of competition is just as high. Plus, it’s good to support our American events. Sometimes I think it’s a little easy to run off to Europe.”

Over the roll backs and fast-coming fences of designer Mark Donovan’s course, Martin incurred minor time faults with both horses to hold their first and third places after the first two phases. Luke 140 finished on a 31 and Long Island T on a 36.40.

Boyd Martin & Luke 140. Photo by Kim Miller.

Martin described California as like “being in another country because I don’t know anybody out here.” Californians knew him, though. Many described the chance to watch Boyd and fellow East Coast-based master Phillip Dutton as a riding lesson unto itself, even when they were just schooling in the warm-up.

Tamie Smith & Passepartout. Photo by Kim Miller.

A Fine First 4*

“You almost won your first 4,*” Tamie Smith leaned over to tell Passepartout after laying down a clean trip with .40 time faults. The horse’s next compliment came from USEF Eventing High Performance director Erik Duvander: “You know he is still just a baby, but he comes off like a professional.” Smith “absolutely” agreed with that assessment of her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook’s 11-year-old German Sporthorse. “That was the classiest round of all three phases. He did not put a footfall wrong.” They finished on a 32.40.

The California-based 2019 Pan Am Team gold medalist has strutted the West Coast’s special stuff for several years now. She shared some advice with Texas-based Rebecca Brown, who finished 4th in the 12-starter field on Dassett Choice. “You can be based anywhere, you just need the right team,” Smith said. “You need the trainers that can help you develop your system. Erik (Duvander) has helped me understand that.”

Rebecca Brown & Dassett Choice. Photo by Kim Miller.

Charlotte Babbitt & 2 AM. Photo by Kim Miller.

As appreciative as she is of Duvander, Smith was happy to “annihilate” his Adequan® USEF Futures Team Challenge squad. Smith captained Team Leslie, with USEF Developing and Emerging Rider Coach Leslie Law, and including Rebecca Brown and young rider Charlotte Babbitt. The Futures program is designed to build the unique skills required of team riding and to foster connections, coaching and guidance for international hopefuls. There’s room for rivalry, too. Duvander’s crew had won the initial outings and with #1-ranked U.S. eventer Liz Halliday-Sharp, fellow 4* rider Emilee Libby and young rider Sophie Click, it could be described “as a little stacked,” Smith noted. “We had three really good performances and it was really fun to win!”

Erin Kellerhouse & Woodford Reserve. Photo by Kim Miller.

Earning applause equal to the winner’s, Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve completed their first CCI4*-L on a 41.10. The score included only small time penalties and earned a fifth place finish. Based at Galway Downs year-round, Kellerhouse has been patiently developing the Irish Sport Horse up the levels, earning the appreciation of those who’ve witnessed their progress.

CCI4*-L Final Top 10: 

USEF CCI3*-L National Championship for Smith

In 2015, Smith hauled Mai Baum east, then onto the international radar by winning the (now 4*) CCI3*-L and USEF CCI3*-L National Championships at Fair Hill. Mai Baum went on to be Smith’s 2019 Pan Am Games partner and has already earned his qualifying score for Tokyo Olympic consideration.

Does Elliot-V have the same potential? “Absolutely! 100% yes.”

Tamie Smith & Elliot V. Photo by Kim Miller.

The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood’s off-to-college owner Louisa Southworth declared his Thursday dressage test “magnificent” after watching in on the livestream. She drove to Temecula Saturday in time to see Smith don the USET pinque coat and win it all on a 30.20 that reflected just .40 in jumping time penalties.

Asia Vedder & Isi. Photo by Kim Miller.

Time faults on cross-country widened what was a very narrow dressage gap between runner-up Asia Vedder and Isi and Smith and Elliot-V. That grew with one rail at the liverpool, but Vedder remained thrilled with the finish. Outside of a break for hip replacement surgery earlier this year, Vedder and Isi have been progressing steadily and gaining the notice of several sport leaders. “He’s hard not to like,” she said of the Holsteiner.

She also raised eyebrows with a newer horse this weekend: Get Cheeky, with whom she scored a 16.40 in dressage and stands second in the Open Beginner Novice division that concludes Sunday. Get Cheeky was sourced by Elmar Lesche of Germany, Vedder noted, the same source as the third-place winner in the CCI2*-L, Helen Bouscaren’s Irish Pop.

James Alliston & Paper Jam. Photo by Kim Miller.

Helen’s husband James Alliston celebrated his Halloween birthday today with a third place CCI3*-L finish on Paper Jam. The Hanoverian/Thoroughbred had been Bouscaren’s ride until just four shows ago when “she very kindly said I could ride him” to fill a gap in his string. “He has a lot of energy and is always on his toes, which I really like,” Alliston said. “That can be a bit of a challenge in dressage, so we are working on getting him relaxed for that.” Their 38.20 dressage score stood through all phases.

Charlotte Babbitt & 2 AM. Photo by Kim Miller.

More National Titles

The CCI3*-L National Championships also determined who’d be honored with the National Combined Training Trophy for the highest placed U.S. rider over the age of 16. Smith added that trophy to her crowded mantle, followed by fellow U.S. contenders Asia Vedder, Andrea Baxter, Alessandra Allen-Shinn, Auburn Excell-Brady, young riders Charlotte Babbitt and Sophie Click, and Stephanie Goodman.

Charlotte Babbitt & 2 AM. Photo by Kim Miller.

Sophie Click & Quidproquo. Photo by Kim Miller.

The National Young Riders Championship and its John H. Fritz Trophy. U.S. were at stake, too, for contenders aged 16-21. With eighth and ninth overall 3* finishes, Charlotte Babbitt and Sophie Click were champion and reserve.

Lauren Burnell & Freedom Hill. Photo by Kim Miller.

Burnell, Bouscaren and Sanborn Take the 2*

With 3-year-old dinosaur paying little attention in their ringside family fan club, Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill continued a flawless weekend to win on a 27.20. The dinosaur was her Halloween-costumed son, who had already offered his coaching before cross-country. “He told ‘Jack’ to go fast and Mommy to hold on,” and the pair ran with that plan. It helped, too, riding her second horse and fifth-placed finisher Counterpoint first in the 34-pair division. “I just went in and tried to replicate that. The amateur in me came out and I got a little frantic in the beginning, but then it was nice to focus on the plan that my coach Bec (Braitling) and I had come up with.” Burnell has competed at the 3* level prior to having a baby and felt this weekend bodes well for possibly moving back up to that level.

Helen Bouscaren & Irish Pop. Photo by Kim Miller.

Helen Bouscaren and her new Hanoverian Irish Pop stayed on their 4th-ranked 30.50 dressage performance to rise to third, after cross-county, then second. Their jumping round rode like the breeze it appeared to be. “He is fast, sharp and fun. You can put him exactly where you want him,” she said.

Audrey Sanborn & OBOS Quality Time. Photo by Kim Miller.

Third place was earned by another of Bec Braitling’s riders, Audrey Sanborn and OBOS Quality Time. The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo communications student called it a high point of their finishes and a harbinger for moving up to 3* in the spring. She praised the flowing, curvy course as fun to ride and their double-clear kept them on a 31.30 dressage.

Tamie Smith & Luisa Southworth. Photo by Kim Miller.

The Challenges Continue

With the international competition wrapped up, Sunday is dedicated to show jumping finalés for the three new Challenge divisions at the Modified-Training; Training-Novice and Novice-Beginner Novice levels.

After dressage and cross-country tracks at maximum difficulty for each division, the show jumping phase is staged in the Grand Prix arena with pairs going in reverse order of their standings, just as the FEI divisions did today. Ninety-five pairs snapped up the chance to test themselves and their horses and enjoy the showcase usually reserved for the sport’s highest levels.

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Sponsors and volunteers are crucial to producing top sport for all levels at Galway Downs.

Sponsors include: The American Horse Trials Foundation, Auburn Labs, California Riding Magazine, California Horsetrader, CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, Geranium Street Floral, Ride On Video, SmartPak, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Symons Ambulance, Temecula Creek Inn.

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Martin, Smith & McEvoy Maintain Leads After Galway Downs International Cross Country

Boyd & Luke 140. Photo by Kim Miller.

New course designer Clayton Fredericks started working with Galway Downs this summer with the mandate of making things harder. Although today’s cross-country did not change the top rung of the 4, 3, and 2*-L leaderboards, there is evidence of mission accomplished in the standings below that and in riders’ reports.

In the CCI4*-L Boyd Martin and Luke 140, a Syndicate owned 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Landos x Omega VI), maintain their dressage day lead. They were a 10th of a second over the 10-minute optimal time to bring their score to a 29.8.

Boyd & Long Island T. Photo by Kim Miller.

“The course rode a lot harder than I thought it would,” said Martin. “Even on my more seasoned horse (third-placed Long Island T), there were angles on the corners that were very demanding.” Martin expected the track to be an especially big test for Luke 140 and was “over the moon” about his effort. “He has amazing fight in his DNA. If he sees a jump and the red and white flags, he does anything he needs to do to get himself through them. He showed me that he is a big-time horse today: that he is a tough, resilient mongrel. There were a lot of technically demanding fences, places where we only had a stride to see the narrow or the corner, and I was really impressed with his attitude.”

Phillip Dutton & Fernhill Singapore. Photo by Kim Miller.

Speaking of those demanding fences, Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore were among four of the 11-horse field to get 15 missed flag penalties at the mid-course 16AB water complex. That knocked him out of second to seventh place after Thursday’s dressage, and made way for Californian Tamie Smith and Passepartout to gallop double clear into second on a 32. Smith and “Pasco” have a rail in hand over Martin and Long Island T in third.

Tamie Smith & Passepartout. Photo by Kim Miller.

“Basically, this horse is such a rideable, fast horse,” Smith said of the 11-year-old gelding (Pasco x Preschel). “He may not look like he’s that super fast, but he just skips across cross-country with a massive stride and an efficient jump.” Smith is riding Passepartout for her pregnant daughter and fellow professional, Kaylawna Smith-Cook. This was only their second cross-country trip together and Passepartout’s first CCI4*-L.

Tamie Smith & No App For That. Photo by Kim Miller.

Rideability was critical. “Two waters walked very difficult,” Smith said. “You just had to have a super rideable horse. If there was any wonkiness, you might have a flag.” She spoke from experience: she and her own OTTB, No App For That, also doing his first CCI4*-L and “very green,” were among those getting an “MF” at 16B.

Rebecca Brown & Dassett Choice. Photo by Kim Miller.

Martin and Long Island T pair jumped from sixth to third with no jumping faults and a 1.20 penalty for a 36. Texan Rebecca Brown and Dassett Choice stayed in the fourth seed, picking up 2.8 time penalties for a 36.

Liz Halliday-Sharp & Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Kim Miller.

Liz Halliday-Sharp was another to get a flag penalty at 16B. An initial extra 20 penalty points were later removed after review by the ground jury determined she had not re-addressed the fence. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing day for the East Coaster in her native Southern California for the current #1 ranked U.S. eventer. The flag penalty plus 8.40 time penalties dropped she and Cooley Quicksilver from fifth to eighth.

Careful What You Ask For

“As the new course designer coming into a new venue, obviously the last thing you want to do is obliterate the whole field,” commented Fredericks at day’s end. “We had an agreement that the course needed to be stronger and the time needed to be harder. I think we achieved that.” Of the particularly problematic 16AB, “It was a fairly tight line and I think some people tried to bend it more than was ideal, so it became an issue of the left shoulder popping out.”

A new test earlier in the course exemplified Fredericks’ ideal outcome. The combination started with an open ditch element followed by the “Which Way Brush” option. “A lot of riders were scratching their head over that: it’s a fence you don’t see very often. For me, it’s ideal to cause a little confusion, then see it be ridden quite well.” Most pilots chose the right-side brush, and just one pair had a refusal.

At the “Mini Wine Bar” water complex at the 20ABC element of the 27-effort track, Fredericks was also happy to see better jumping through the water, barrels, and mound creation. “It wasn’t something that caused major problems in the past, but sometimes the jumping efforts through there were ugly. Today I was pleased to see horses jumping very nicely and being really careful.”

Tamie Smith & Elliot V. Photo by Kim Miller.

Smith, Vedder & Alliston Lead CCI3*-L

Elliot-V, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zavall VDL x Vera-R) owned by Louisa Southworth, is top of the CCI3*-L — he and Tamie Smith earned that spot after a 29.80 dressage ride, and they were first out of the box in the CCI3*-L. Yet they took nothing for granted, maximizing the many long galloping stretches to stay on that score. “It was good to let him open up and blow off some steam, and his gallop is just incredible.” So is his jumping, Smith said, which bodes well for Saturday’s show jumping finale crafted by Marc Donovan and assistant Kelly James.

Asia Vedder & Isi. Photo by Kim Miller.

Smith can’t let up as Asia Vedder and Isi are within a rail after adding 1.20 in time to maintain their number two seed on a 31.1. Although the amateur rider and USEA Area VI chair saw one of Isi’s shoes fly off at fence 17, then another close to the finish line, neither horse nor rider were distracted by that or by the many other opportunities to lose focus. “It was a fair course, with no bugaboos, but there were spots where you really needed to pay attention. It was a little relentless. Even some of the single fences, you were jumping on an angle and you needed to be tidy.”

Isi is “still figuring out that he has different gears,” Vedder explains. She liked the course’s many opportunities to shift them. “There were places where you had the option of going forward and others where you could jump in quiet and nicely add.”

As for Saturday’s show jumping, “Isi is a funny horse. He’s spooky, but not always in a way that translates into spooking into clear rounds. I’ll be making sure he’s awake and keeping his canter active.”

James Alliston & Paper Jam. Photo by Kim Miller.

Behind Vedder, there’s a big gap in scores before a tightly packed group led by James Alliston and Alliston Equestrian’s Paper Jam. Cross-country dramatically reshuffled the mid-standings, with Alliston going from 8th to 3rd, Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II moving from ninth to fourth, and Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca jumping from 10 to 5th. Less than a rail between these contenders sets the stage for another possible shake-up.

Andrea Baxter & Laguna Seca. Photo by Kim Miller.

Going in reverse order of their standings, the CCI3*-L jumping will also determine the USEF National CCI3* Championship and the U.S. National Combined Training Trophy. Only American athletes are eligible, so Great Britain’s Alliston and Australia’s Braitling aren’t in the running. Standing fifth and sixth, Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca and Auburn Excell-Brady are. Smith likely has a special eye on the trophy, too. She won it in 2015 with Mai Baum, a major of many milestones in her ongoing successes.

India McEvoy & Redbull. Photo by Kim Miller.

McEvoy, Burnell & Bouscaren Atop the CCI2*-L

Amateur rider India McEvoy rode with Phillip Dutton when she was in college and had a refresher with him just last week in a clinic near her Northern California home. Getting Redbull, her own 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Redwin, more in front of her leg during the cross-country warm-up was among the suggestions she put into play today for a double-clear round to stay atop the standings on a 26.50. “He’s a funny combination of good temperament for dressage and he could gallop forever, but having Thoroughbred from his mom, he can get a little nervous. Phillip rode him a little during the clinic and gave me pointers about making sure he’s forward and letting him have a second to think so he doesn’t get frazzled.”

Show jumping hasn’t been the still-green Redbull’s strong suit so far and whatever Saturday’s outcome, McEvoy said she’ll be thrilled. “Today’s cross-country was really good because he ended feeling more confident. It’s great to have him gain that kind of experience.”

Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill were also fault free today to be second on a 27.20. And professional Helen Bouscaren and Irish Pop were double clear to move up into third on a 30.50. Bouscaren and her husband James Alliston are McEvoy’s coaches “and they’ve found me some great horses!” McEvoy said.

In Other News …

Preliminary divisions continued today, highlighted by Josey Thompson and Pistol Annie staying on their 18.90 dressage score with a fault-free cross-country to lead the Open division. All other national divisions got underway, including the “Challenge” format at the Modified-Training, Training-Novice, and Novice-Beginner Novice levels.

Karen O’Neal and Cafe Noir lead the Modified-Training Challenge; Leah Forquer and Oakley’s Hunt SE top the Training-Novice Challenge on a 28.70; and CCI4*-L rider Erin Kellerhouse is atop the Novice Beginner-Novice Challenge with Sonata GWF on a 25.

The new showcase and test is a hit. “Last year, we had 17 entries in the Training Three Day event,” noted organizer Robert Kellerhouse during the Wednesday briefing with International riders and officials. “We were sad to see that division go, but we have 95 riders doing the Challenges this year. These are all riders following in your footsteps and excited to see you compete.”

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Martin, Smith & McEvoy Top the Galway Downs International Opening Day Leaderboards

Boyd Martin and Luke 140. Photo by Kim Miller.

The new normal of no spectators didn’t lessen the electric atmosphere surrounding the Galway Downs International CCI4*-L opening dressage late Thursday afternoon. While quieter than usual excitement nonetheless filled the air as Boyd Martin and his familiar partner Long Island T entered the Grand Prix court. But it was Martin’s newer horse, Luke 140, who topped the 12-pair field with a 29.40 from FEI ground jury members Sandy Phillips, Wayne Quarles and Valerie Vizcarando-Pride.

“My first horse (Long Island T) was brilliant in the warm-up and terrible in the ring, and Luke was not very good in the warm-up and a champion in the ring,” Martin said. “I prefer they do it like that.” The Luke 140 Syndicate’s Holsteiner is a “hot feisty number” who faces “a big test” tomorrow over Clayton Fredericks’ tracks as Galway Downs new course designer, said Martin.

In a nice change of scenery, Martin is among a handful of top-ranked eventers to trek from the East to compete at Galway Downs. They add to equestrian fire power fit for the venue’s rising status in the sport. “It’s a world class facility,” said Martin. “The rings are unbelievable and it’s turning into one of America’s premier event facilities.”

All of the 4* horses showed the unique combination of power and elegance required for wins at this level. Where there were gaffes and glitches — most notably in a few flying changes — they illustrated how tough it is to balance those two characteristics even though several pairs made it look easy.

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore. Photo by Kim Miller.

One such pair was Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore, who also came from the East, and are second on 31.30.

Tamie Smith and Passepartout. Photo by Kim Miller.

With East Coast heavy hitters in the ring, California-based Tamie Smith may have the weight of West Coast hopes on her shoulders. But that wasn’t evident in her cool horsemanship on five horses in the FEI divisions.

She is third in the 4* on her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook’s German Sport Horse, Passepartout, continuing his rocket ride begun with Kaylawna and carried on with Tamie during Kaylawna’s pregnancy. “I am so proud of him. He was uphill and pushing out to the contact,” said Smith.

Rebecca Brown and Dassett Choice. Photo by Kim Miller.

This pair is followed by Texas-based Rebecca Brown and Dassett Choice. Brown has been travelling extensively from her Texas base and made a positive showing here with this horse and her second 4* entry, Fernhill Fortitude.

Charlotte Babbitt, Erik Duvander, Tamie Smith and Leslie Law. Photo by Kim Miller.

Even behind his mask, the big smile those third and fourth standings put on USEF Emerging & Developing Rider Coach Leslie Law’s face was unmissable. He’s coaching the Adequan® USEF Futures Team Challenge captained by Smith and including Brown and young rider Charlotte Babbitt. Charlotte and 2 A.M.‘s 4th standing in the CCI3*-L after dressage puts Law’s team in the pole position over the squad led by Erik Duvander, USEF High Performance Eventing Director. Team Erik is captained by Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, riding Cooley Quicksilver, and fellow 4* pair Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Halliday-Sharp and the gorgeous gray sit fifth, and Libby and Jakobi are 10th.

Charlotte Babbitt and 2 AM. Photo by Kim Miller.

Contesting her second CCI3*-L, Babbitt said she benefited from the Futures Team experience even before competition began during jump and flat schools with Law and team meetings. Tangible tips? “I learned to go to a team member if I need help, but to remember that you’re the one who got yourself on the team,” the Northern California-based rider explained. “We talked about learning to lean on your teammates when you need to, but not shifting your perspective or approach unnecessarily.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Kim Miller.

It was a special treat to see Tamie Smith’s Pan Am Games team gold medal partner Mai Baum and his owner Alex Ahearn do the test ride before the CCI4* dressage. Mai Baum has already earned his qualifying scores for Tokyo Olympics consideration.

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Kim Miller.

“Twisty and turny between long gallop stretches” were the characteristics mentioned by several 4* contenders in anticipation of Friday’s excursion over the Galway Downs’ 242 acres. In several cases, major challenges arise on relatively short notice, putting a premium on boldness and confident communication. Having most of the track roped off is new this year, eliminating opportunities to cut corners that existed in the past and intensifying the pressure on pace over track. The field is full of well-known riders, but the collective experience of the horses they’re on runs the gamut. Everyone agreed it will be an interesting phase.

Tamie Smith and Elliot V. Photo by Kim Miller.

            Smith, Vedder & Excell-Brady Lead CCI3*-L

Tamie Smith leads the pack with Elliot-V on a score of 29.80 from judges Sandy Phillips and Robyn Fisher. That’s even after forgetting the “stretchy circle” and a brief hitch in a canter-depart, reflecting the horse’s quality even when things don’t all go perfect. “He is a super horse that is really great in all three phases,” Smith reports. The Dutch Warmblood is owned by Louisa Southworth, one of Smith’s off-to-college students. “Louisa was watching it on the livestream and she texted me saying, ‘That was pretty magnificent,'” Smith shares. The Southworth family is looking to syndicate Elliot-V for Smith to keep campaigning “and I am super excited about him.”

Asia Vedder and Isi. Photo by Kim Miller.

Very close behind Smith is amateur rider and USEA Area VI chair Asia Vedder and Isi on a 29.90, then professional Auburn Brady-Excell on BSP Tuxedo with a 34.20.

Auburn Brady-Excell and BSP Tuxedo. Photo by Kim Miller.

All three are among the nine of 12 division contenders eligible for the CCI3*-L USEF National Championships, hosted for the first time on the West Coast. At stake is the USEF National Combined Training Trophy for the highest placed U.S. rider over the age of 16.

Sophie Click and Quidproquo. Photo by Kim Miller.

Concurrently, the CCI3*-L includes the National Young Riders Championship for the John H. Fritz Trophy. U.S. riders aged 16-21 are eligible, putting Charlotte Babbitt and Sophie Click in the hunt for this prestigious award.

Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector. Photo by Kim Miller.

            McEvoy, Turner & Burnell Lead the CCI2*-L

There were an Olympians and a Pan Am Games gold medalist in the 34-horse CCI2*-L contest, but it is three amateurs who lead after dressage. India McEvoy and Redbull are on top with a 26.50. But not by much: Junior Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector follow up a CCI2*-S win just a month ago at Twin Rivers to sit second on a 26.60.  Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill earned a 27.20 for the third rank in front of judges Wayne Quarles and Valerie Vizcarando-Pride.

“He was very green last year and we haven’t done much this year,” says McEvoy, a small animal veterinarian from Northern California. “He is a very obedient, relaxed horse who is nice to ride in the dressage ring. He’s had some pretty good scores, but I’d say this is one of his best.”

The COVID caused downtime allowed for extra focus on self-carriage in the canter for Redbull. McEvoy rides mostly on her own, as she lives two hours from her coaches James Alliston and Helen Bouscaren. “Dressage and cross-country are his stronger phases,” McEvoy said of the Hanoverian/Thoroughbred. “He’s a big horse (17hh) and getting him to fit himself into the dressage ring has been a challenge. He has gotten stronger in his movements and has built himself up over the break.” He’ll have a different use for that tomorrow. “The course looks great and challenging,” McEvoy said.

            Lower Level Challenges Begin

Preliminary divisions also did dressage Thursday. Friday opens the lower divisions, including the “Challenge” format at the Modified-Training, Training-Novice; and Novice-Beginner Novice levels.

The three-day format begins with dressage in Galway Downs’ Grand Prix arena on Friday. On Halloween Saturday, it’s out on cross-country at max distance and effort for all levels and over all new routes. The winners are determined Sunday during stadium jumping, with riders going in reverse order their standings in the Grand Prix arena. The CCI-L competition concludes on Saturday, so Sunday is all about Challengers.

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Sponsors and volunteers are crucial to producing top sport at Galway Downs. Sponsors include: The American Horse Trials Foundation, Auburn Labs, California Riding Magazine, California Horsetrader, CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, Geranium Street Floral, Ride On Video, SmartPak, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Symons Ambulance, Temecula Creek Inn.

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Charlotte Dujardin & Haygain Team Up Over Shared Priorities

Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro. Photo by Rose Lewis/Daydream Equine Art.

Much has changed for Charlotte Dujardin since her dominance with Valegro on the international dressage stage made her that rare equestrian: a household name well beyond it.

The Olympic, World Equestrian Games, World Cup and European Champion was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire, OBE, in 2013, then the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, CBE, in 2017. She’s published her autobiography, The Girl on the Dancing Horse, to rave reviews and she’s met another of the world’s most famous equestrians: Her Majesty the Queen

What hasn’t changed is the root of Charlotte’s success: talent, hard work and dedication to her horses’ well-being. The latter explains Charlotte’s new partnership with Haygain, manufacturers of high-temperature hay steaming equipment and ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring.

“We are always looking for ways to keep our horses more comfortable, healthier, happier and performing at their peak,” says Charlotte. “Partnering with Haygain is a perfect fit with our horse keeping philosophy.”

Haygain’s core products will soon be staples for the horses in Charlotte’s program, located at the yard of her longtime coach, mentor and Olympic gold medal teammate, Carl Hester. “We like to keep things as simple and natural as possible,” Charlotte continues. “Feeding clean hay and having stalls that provide cushion and comfort while reducing dust are great ways to accomplish that.”

Haygain’s high-temperature steaming was introduced commercially in 2009, two years after Charlotte showed up at Carl’s barn in Newent, Gloucester. It was two years before she rode her first Grand Prix with Carl and Rudy Luard’s Valegro, whom she developed from the Novice level.

A desire to improve equine respiratory health was the catalyst for Haygain’s development in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University in the U.K.  Steaming reduces up to 99% of the dust, mold, fungi, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of top nutrient quality. Along with dust in bedding, these irritants are a top cause of respiratory problems because they can infiltrate, irritate and inflame the lining of the upper airway and lungs.

Haygain steaming is now widely recognized for preventing respiratory issues that affect over 80% of the active sporthorse population, often without obvious symptoms. And reducing allergens means reducing allergies, which are often related to respiratory problems.

ComfortStall’s one-piece top layer of durable rubber seals to the stall wall. This prevents urine from seeping down and amassing unhealthy, unpleasant and irritating ammonia, as happens under traditional stall mats or on dirt-based bedded stalls.

A layer of orthopedic foam provides ample cushion for joint health, comfort for deep rest and sleep and a soft, safe surface on which horses can easily lie down and rise up. Often likened to a gymnasium mat, ComfortStall has a combination of give, stability and traction that prompts therapeutic blood flow and tiny, constant muscle movements. The built-in cushion reduces the need for bedding to only that required to absorb urine.

Charlotte’s long-time groom Alan Davies is excited about the Haygain partnership, too. “These are next-level steps in providing the cleanest, healthiest possible environment and nutrition for Charlotte’s horses. Along with wanting to keep our horses healthy and happy, we know that cutting edge care can give the extra edge needed to excel against the world’s best and we’re confident Haygain’s Hay Steaming and ComfortStall will help us keep doing that.”

“We’re beyond proud and excited to be working with Charlotte and her team!” says Bee Richardson, Haygain’s Vice President of Marketing. “Her remarkable accomplishments are rooted in exceptional horsemanship. This is why she is such a positive and influential example to horse owners worldwide.”

After a career of record shattering scores and captivating performances, Valegro was retired in 2016 with celebrity status. Meanwhile, Charlotte has several talented horses to continue her “services to equestrianism,” for which she received her OBE and CBE distinctions. She and the 2019 FEI World Cup™ Finals Champion, Mount St. John Freestyle, are currently sixth in the world as international competition resumes. They are top candidates for a third Olympics at the Tokyo 2021 Games.

With Haygain newly on Charlotte’s horse health team, the stage may be set for yet more broken records in the dressage world.

For more information on Haygain, visit www.haygain.us, and follow Haygain USA on Instagram and Facebook.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Galway Downs Ready To Host CCI3*-L National Championships

2019 CCI4*-L champs Sara Mittleider & La Paz. Photo by Kim Miller.

Top 10-ranked U.S. eventers are among the 420 entries for the Galway Downs International starting Thursday in the heart of Southern California’s Temecula wine country.

An exciting finalé for the West Coast eventing season throughout its 22-year existence, the Oct. 28-Nov. 1 competition is exponentially more so this year for several reasons that explain why East Coast stars Liz Halliday Sharp, Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton shipped horses 3,000 miles to compete. Californian Tamie Smith will defend her victorious turf in almost every division and pairs from throughout the West Coast, Texas, Arizona, Montana and all around the Northwest are ready to finish their season on a high note of intense, high-quality competition.

As with all sporting events, COVID precautions prevent spectators, but Ride On Video and the USEF Network are live-streaming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, bringing the FEI action to the world.

First, the competition will host the USEF National CCI3*-L National Championships, marking the first time it’s been held in the West. This builds upon Galway Downs’ selection as host of the Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge, a coup announced for Robert Kellerhouse’s Kellerhouse Presents team early this year. You can view the teams here.

 The organizers have something special up their sleeve for lower level contenders, too: the “Challenge” format at the Modified-Training, Training-Novice; and Novice-Beginner Novice levels.

The competition will also unveil international competitor Clayton Fredericks’ first tracks as the venue’s new course designer, working with veteran builder Bert Wood. Sections of newly laid grass bordering re-footed portions of the cross-country course are one of many upgrades that continue Galway Downs’ commitment to hosting top tier tournaments.

 The Championships and new divisions are icing on a cake of venue improvements that’s been baking for some time. Extensive show and warm-up arena footing upgrades, new stabling and countless big and small improvements throughout the 242-acre property have taken an already first-class venue to new levels.

“We are lucky as hell for this opportunity,” says Kellerhouse of adding the CCI3*-L National Championships and the Futures Team Challenge to the Galway Downs International. “We were asked to host the Future Team Challenge West early in the year and the more recent opportunity to host the 3*-L National Championships brings extra interest and the chance to show off what we’ve built up out here with the help of many supporters and stakeholders.”

The CCI3*-L Championships

The COVID cancellation of the Fair Hill International in Maryland opened the door for a new location for this prestigious event. Getting the USEF nod is a big vote of confidence in the Kellerhouse team and fits with the Federation’s efforts to embrace West Coast riders and competitions. “The USEF remains committed to building a bridge to the West Coast and continues to bolster the High Performance program on both sides of the country,” notes Jenni Autry, USEF’s Managing Director of Eventing.

The Futures Challenge

 The Futures Team Challenge is part of the USEF’s Eventing Pathway Program. It debuted last year on the East Coast, with the intent of preparing future senior team athletes by providing an opportunity to experience competing as part of a team and working with the U.S. team coaches. The Futures Team Challenge is open to competitors at the 3*-L and 4*-L levels.

Last year, the Futures Team Challenge was only held on the East Coast. When it came time to expand it with a West Coast edition, Galway Downs and Kellerhouse Presents were poised to make that happen.

Teams were selected earlier this month: U.S. Performance Director Erik Duvander coaches a squad comprised of Liz Halliday-Sharp, Emilee Libby and young rider Sophie Click. U.S. Developing Coach Leslie Law helms the team led by Tamie Smith, Rebecca Brown and Charlotte Babbitt. All prepped for the Challenge with a two-day training focused on dressage and show jumping.

The M-T, T-N & N-BN Challenges

Designed as a test of abilities at the higher end of each level, and as a celebratory showcase, the Challenge was introduced by Kellerhouse 11 years ago as the Preliminary Challenge, held every spring in Northern California’s Woodside. In 2019, a Modified-Training Challenge was added to rave reviews, with riders grateful for the chance to step up their skills and receive a showcase similar to that enjoyed at the higher levels.

The three-day format begins with dressage in Galway Downs’ Grand Prix arena on Friday. On Halloween Saturday, it’s out on cross-country at max distance and effort for all levels and over all new routes. The winners are determined Sunday during stadium jumping, with riders going in reverse order their standings in the Grand Prix arena. The CCI-L competition concludes on Saturday, so Sunday is all about Challengers.

“These classes are all an evolution from where our sport has gone,” explains Kellerhouse. “While we are saddened to see the passing of our Training Three-day Classic format at Galway, we are thrilled to offer something for all the levels to shoot for in the modern test of eventing. For the past decade eventing went toward this format with a more technically challenging long court dressage test, cross country-only jumping with no A, B and C phases, and finishing with the show jumping at a larger height than the cross country test.”

New Courses

The FEI courses will reveal the vision of new Galway Downs course designer, Olympic silver medal winning Clayton Fredericks of Australia. He’s been working alongside veteran Bert Wood, an expert on the venue’s terrain and nuances, for several months.

 “The biggest change is that we’ve decided to stick to this track as the designated upper level track,” Clayton explains. “That will answer a few of the questions being raised in the past about the ground changing between grass and sand. The new track will only have a few of those changes, and with plenty of time for the horse to acclimatize to those changes.”

Clayton is based in Florida but has ample experience with Galway Downs as a competitor, coach and in other sport roles. Most recently, he brought clear-span FEI Stabling to the venue, another first for the West Coast, that has received positive reviews.

A newly-laid stretch of grass is part of the new course and it will all be maintained specifically for eventing purposes. “That allows us to water and manicure the grass exactly as we want to,” says Clayton.

“Challenge and flow” are the key words he uses to describe the new course. As for advice to upper level contenders: “Preparation! Make sure you’ve done your homework. there won’t be anything too out of the ordinary, but we will try to make it up to the standard for each level. So, be ready!”

A Team Effort

Kellerhouse credits the skills and efforts of his own growing team; Nilforushan EquiSports Events; Galway Downs owner Ken Smith; the USEF; USEA; and Clayton Fredericks as heading a long list of supporters who’ve helped make this weekend’s event a fitting showcase for every level of the sport.

Sponsors and volunteers are equally important in realizing this vision for top sport in the West. Sponsors include: The American Horse Trials Foundation, Auburn Labs, California Riding Magazine, California Horsetrader, CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, Geranium Street Floral, Ride On Video, SmartPak, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Symons Ambulance, Temecula Creek Inn.

Volunteer Sign Ups: here. More information: www.KellerhousePresents.com or www.GalwayDowns.net

Breaths of Fresh Air: How Lauren Billys Protected Her Horses’ Respiratory Health During CA Wildfires

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Kim Miller.

Like most horse owners in Northern California, Haygain ambassador Lauren Billys Shady has been through the ringer during a wildfire season that started early and shows no signs of letting up. In late August, she and her husband had to evacuate their home. Lauren’s own horses and several in her care at Lauren Billys Eventing had to move twice. They first evacuated to a facility relatively close by on the Monterey Peninsula. After a second evacuation notice, client horses had to be hauled four hours south to Paso Robles for safe stabling with friends.

The 2016 Olympic eventer needed every ounce of her famously positive attitude to get through it all. Along with a good team and good friends, she had the advantage of familiarity with equine respiratory health on her side. Since her Olympic partner Castle Larchfield Purdy was diagnosed with equine asthma two years ago, Lauren has learned how respirable particles in the barn environment can infiltrate, irritate and inflame the equine respiratory system.

This is true for horses without any pre-existing respiratory problems and in normal weather. It’s exponentially true for horses with conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum and when the inhalation of smoke-borne particulate matter is unavoidable, as it has been for multi-week stretches in Northern California.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Billys.

Help On Hand

Having a Flexineb Portable Equine Nebulizer on hand and Haygain steamed hay as a staple of her personal horses’ diet, Lauren was well prepared to help them through long stretches when the Air Quality Index hit the hazardous zone. Thrice daily treatments with nebulized EquiSilver, an antimicrobial, or a saline solution “helped clear their lungs and gave them a breath of fresh air,” she explains.

The Flexineb is easy to use, lightweight and portable. Lauren and her assistant Andrea Bushlow typically walk the horses during their 10-20 minute daily treatments so their breathing helps draw the aerosolized solutions into their lungs. Even with the horse at rest, the Flexineb delivers aerosolized solutions through the upper airways and deep into the lungs.

Haygain steamed hay is another advantage Lauren’s horses had going into the fire and smoke season. The high-temperature steaming process removes up to 99% of the dust, mold, fungi, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of good nutrient quality.

Air Filtration

Along with passing oxygen through to the bloodstream, the lungs function as an air filtration system. Unfortunately, they aren’t as easily cleaned as a household air filter. That’s why it’s so beneficial to keep tiny particles out of the lungs in the first place. “It keeps the lungs free of all those particulates and is way more effective at that than soaking the hay,” Lauren says. Keeping the respiratory system clear with steamed hay gave her horses a head start when it came time to deal with the inescapable smoke.

With clear skies in her immediate area now, Lauren is even more grateful than usual to be back training and coaching. Careful management has kept her horses fit even with fire-related training interruptions.

Lauren has two horses competing at Woodside International Horse Trials this week: Castle Larchfield Purdy is contesting the CCI4*-S and Can Be Sweet is tackling the CCI2*-S. Keep an eye on EN for all the latest updates from that event! Then its south again, this time to the Galway Downs International CCI4*-L in Temecula at the end of the month.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Flooring First: Barn Design Begins at Ground Level

Photo by Sara Malanaphy.

Stall flooring isn’t the sexiest subject among the many considerations in building or updating a barn. But leave it to the last at your peril, counsels renowned barn architect John Blackburn. As the title of one of his most popular books, Healthy Stables by Design, suggests, Blackburn and his team at Blackburn Architects PC prioritize horse health every step of the way. The owners’ goals for their stable and the demands of their site are equally important.

Because stall flooring impacts horse health and owner’s goals, it should be determined at the outset. Over 30 years, Blackburn has constantly refined what is now a proprietary questionnaire for owners to complete as step-one in the process. The answers are critical to the firm’s work and in helping owners identify priorities and allot budget accordingly.

Leaving flooring decisions to the last can be a costly mistake. Most options require leveling the base, pouring concrete, compacting the base material and/or laying a grid or creating another means of drainage. Re-doing that after the walls and the rest of the structure are up is an expensive, laborious inconvenience. It’s easily avoidable by planning for how the stall will be used, by what kind of horses and for how much of the day.

How the stalls will be maintained and by whom is another important factor. At-home horse keeping is many a boarder’s dream, but underestimating the time it takes to maintain the stable is a top tarnisher of that dream’s manifestation. Stall flooring choice plays a part in that.

Stall-related decisions include size, stall fronts, doors, walls, lighting, feed and water fixtures and flooring. Flooring ranges from the most basic: clay or stone dust to the most expensive options that include cushioned flooring that is sealed to the stall walls and custom-made interlocking rubber bricks.

Horse health-driven flooring priorities are safety, comfort and how it impacts stable air quality. Safe flooring is a stable surface with traction to prevent slipping when horses walk, lie down or stand up. It should be level at installation and constructed to stay that way even with hard keepers that may paw or pace the floor. Bases made of compacted dirt or stone dust will eventually form depressions, even when installed with plastic grid systems to aid drainage and ease cleaning. Proper maintenance is critical.

Cushion & Clean Air

Comfort and joint health are attained by cushioned flooring or the use of enough bedding to create cushion. This is important for rest and sleep and to reduce wear and tear on joints. A level floor also encourages horses to distribute their weight evenly.

Surfaces that emulate a gymnasium mat in their degree of give require horses to make tiny muscle movements to maintain their balance. The resulting proprioception has the therapeutic effect of prompting blood flow and minimizing inflammation. Equine physical therapists recommend this flooring characteristic to accelerate healing, whether from everyday work or injury or surgery rehab.

Flooring’s impact on barn air quality is often overlooked. “Odors and bacteria accumulate in the barn,” Blackburn explains. “The horse’s respiratory system is so sensitive; we do everything we can to protect it.” Situating and designing the whole barn for ventilation and air circulation are crucial for all of Blackburn’s designs.

Cushing and clean air are points in favor of flooring with a one-piece sealed top cover, such as ComfortStall. This system prevents urine and other fluids from seeping through and becoming a bacterial bouillabaisse at the stall base. Even well-snugged stall mats, a less expensive option, allow some fluid to seep through to the base.

Durable, sealed, one-piece top covers also enable sanitization. The Cornell University Veterinary Hospital has had ComfortStall in its post-surgery stalls for 10 years, partly because they are easily sanitized between patients.

Bedding is major contributor to bad barn air. Wood shavings are full of respirable dust and straw was found to promote fungal growth in a recent study of Inflammatory Airway Disease in active sport horses. The need for only minimal bedding is another attribute of flooring with built-in cushion. These systems only require enough bedding to absorb urine, which is then easily removed when soiled. Less bedding equals less dust and less time, labor and costs of buying and removing bedding. It’s easier on the environment, too.

No flooring lasts forever, but investments up front usually correlate to longer life.

An Installer’s Vantage Point

As an independent contractor, Graham Russ sees stall flooring from a different perspective. Over several years of installations in new stables and replacing it in existing barns, he sees more owners making a substantial upfront investment with the realistic expectation of a return in the form of horse health and maintenance savings.

“A lot of my installs are replacing the 4′ by 6′ rubber mat puzzle pieces,” says Russ, who is based in Ft. Worth, Texas. “They usually have cracks between each mat. They provide little cushion themselves and they are usually put down over concrete or gravel. That lack of cushion really causes problems for horses.” But it’s pocketbook pressure that initially turns many to the ComfortStall installations that he’s doing more of the last few years.

“People go from seven bags of shavings per stall to one bag,” Russ explains. “This product pays for itself in nine or 10 months. It sells itself.” And that’s the case even though its upfront cost is considerably more than seemingly similar brands.

ComfortStall’s cushion comes mainly from a layer of proprietary orthopedic foam while other types use geo-textiles and a crumb rubber-filled, channeled mattress for cushion. The flooring systems can look the same to the casual observer but not to Russ, who has installed and observed the performance of various methods and materials. “When you are going to spend the money, you might as well do it right the first time and not worry about it again,” Russ states. “If you don’t want to spend the money, go with the 3/4″ stall mats and a lot of shavings.”

Even without the shavings and labor savings, flooring costs should be considered as amortized over time. ComfortStall, for example, has a six-year warranty and an average life span of 15-20 years. “I work at barns where horses have pawed through the mats all the time,” he says. “I’ve never seen a horse paw through ComfortStall.”

Fixated On Flooring

Florida hunter/jumper trainer Emma Whillans is an unusual barn owner. First, she was only 23 when she broke ground on her dream barn and 25 when it was finished and full of happy clients.

Second, she didn’t get too excited about eye candy options like rooftop finials or fancy paint schemes. Instead, she fixated on stall flooring. It came first in her budget largely because she knew what she didn’t want: heavy, unwieldy stall mats that have to be hauled out regularly and hosed down, while the stall base was dredged and re-leveled. She’d done her share of that as a working student for other trainers and knew there had to be a better way.

Affordable board rates were a priority, too. Whillans knew that less bedding would help with that, but she didn’t want to sacrifice cushion and comfort for the horses. “When I saw ComfortStall’s flat surface of rubber, I knew that’s what I needed. No matter what happened, I knew I had to have that in our budget.”

She started with ComfortStall in 16 stalls and has already added another eight, including a foaling stall where her former jumper Della gave birth to Uno earlier this year. It was Della and Emma’s first delivery and having a comfortable, safe surface throughout the delivery and first hours of Uno’s life gave Emma further reason to love the flooring investment she made when Whillans Equine was only an idea.

Whillans’ horse-first forethought is the ideal starting point and she was wise beyond her years to give flooring the top priority it warrants in any barn planning and budgeting process.

Tamie Smith & Passepartout Win Twin Rivers CCI4*-S

Tamie Smith & Passepartout, owned by Kaylawna Smith-Cook. Photo by MGO Photography.

The CCI4*-S had an exciting shake up of the top placings to finish out the International divisions at the Fall International. It was Tamie Smith and Passepartout, owned by Tamie’s daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook, who came out on top with the fastest cross-country time of the group. Ruth Bley’s 11-year-old Hanoverian Danito took second. Erin Kellerhouse and her own Woodford Reserve rounded out the top three.

Tamie has made the most of the long break in show schedule. Show jumping focus with international Grand Prix riders Ali Nilforushan and Peter Wylde at home at Kings Way Farm in Temecula paid off in the performances of Passepartout and the rest of the deep string of talent she brought to Twin Rivers. “It’s been really good to have the extra attention in jumping,” she said after logging three clear rounds on Friday over Jose Nava’s courses, including on Passepartout and Danito.

“It was my plan to go out and have a steady quiet go with Danito.” The handsome chestnut is “really coming into his own,” Tamie explained. He led yesterday’s standings on his 25.1 dressage score and a clear show jump. “I asked Kaylawna if she wanted me to go fast on her horse and she said yes. I had never ridden him cross-country and so was pleasantly surprised at what an incredible horse my daughter has! I am so excited for their future together.” Kaylawna and Passepartout have had a remarkable first year together, logging their first Advanced finish at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March. Tamie has the ride on the talented horse now because Kaylawna and her husband are expecting!

“All my horses were incredible today,” Tamie said. “The courses and footing rode great, the attention to the footing was greatly appreciated.”

While she has been back competing since July, with a trip to Rebecca Farm, Tamie acknowledges that the “new normal” still takes some getting used to. “We feel so fortunate that the organizers are going above and beyond to enable us to enjoy competitions again. It seems like we have figured it out. Everybody is diligent about wearing masks and the organizers are enforcing things like taking temperatures. It’s a new era for all of us.”

Erin Kellerhouse was thrilled with her Woodford Reserve’s performance. “Woody was really good in his first CCI4*-S, he answered all the questions easily and galloped really well. The courses were really fun and gallopy with good questions.”

Weekend Highlights

Along with national level competition, the Fall International hosted qualifiers for the USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Championships and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. This special showcase for young horses will be hosted by Twin Rivers on Oct. 23-24. An unrated one-day event is slated for Sunday, Oct. 25, and a new, recognized Horse Trials offering Introductory to Intermediate is slated for Nov. 13-15.

Twin Rivers Fall International: [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Twin Rivers: Tamie Smith Takes 1 & 2 spots in CCI3*-S, Haley Turner Wins CCI2*-S

Some sanity returned amid 2020’s wild ride as the Twin Rivers Fall International unfurled in Central California, where CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S competition was decided today.

Junior rider Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector laid down a wire-to-wire win in the 2*, while the 3* standings changed dramatically as Tamie Smith and Terry and Linda Paine’s Cheers moved from eighth after dressage to first.  Tamie, the 2019 Pan Am Games team gold medalist, dominated with five horses in this 15-horse starting field, including runner-up Solaguayre California, owned by Julianne Guariglia.

The CCI4*-S was originally set to conclude today, too, but was rescheduled for Saturday morning, due to a change in the weather. The reschedule gave the Twin Rivers crew extra time to make some adjustments to the cross-country footing before the 3* and Intermediate pairs ran today. The CCI4*-S cross-country starts Saturday at 8:15 a.m. PT, with Tamie Smith leading the pack aboard Ruth Bley’s Danito.

Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector. Photo by MGO Photography.

            It’s Turner’s 2*

“It was amazing!” said almost-18-year-old Haley Turner of her win with “Chief” in the CCI2*-S. Yesterday’s 26.8 dressage score stayed put over this morning’s show jumping designed by Jose Nava. The afternoon’s run over totally new routes by Hugh Lochore went smoothly, too. Just a .4 time fault, to end on a 27.2.

“It’s been quite a long journey for us,” said the student of Bea and Derek DiGrazia. The 10-year-old Irish sport horse sustained an injury the first year Haley had him, then she was injured in the second year of their partnership. This year, their third together, began with high hopes for a North American Youth Championships spot and started well at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in March, when they finished second in the Preliminary JR/YR division. Then came COVID.

“It’s wonderful to get back out there. The cross-country course is completely different than it was in March,” reports Haley. “It was fun and a good challenge while also being inviting.”

An online student through high school, Haley graduated early last spring and plans to take a gap year partly because of COVID’s impact on the college experience. The opportunity to focus full time on her riding has been a plus and a pleasure, she says. “It’s almost like we’ve had a second winter to practice and improve our skills.”

Amateur rider Lauren Burnell and Counterpoint finished second, on their 29 dressage score. Emilee Libby and Natalia Valente’s Toska moved up steadily, from an eighth-place tie after dressage, into third thanks to penalty-free show jumping and cross-country.

Tamie Smith & Cheers. Photo by MGO Photography.

It’s Cheers, Indeed, in the CCI3*-S

Under the saddle of Tamie Smith, Linda and Terry Paine’s 8-year-old homebred Thoroughbred, Cheers, was the only horse without time faults on Hugh Lochore’s 3* cross-country. That speed helped him move up from an 8th ranked 34.3 dressage score, and a show jumping rail, which Tamie described as “my rail,” to win the day. “He’s been a work in progress, and it’s really cool to have him seal the deal here. Every horse is different: he’s hot and has been a bit slow to develop.” As the final phase neared, Tamie’s “right hand person,” Bridget London calculated that a double clear would earn the win, and that’s what the pair delivered. “He is an amazing cross-country horse,” Tamie concluded.

 Tamie had a different tact with her second-place winner, Solaguayre California, a relatively new ride. Third after dressage on a 32.3, they had rail Tamie again took the blame for, then four time penalties on cross-country. “Out of the box, I am always going for what I need with each different horse. She’d had a beautiful, solid show jumping round and the time was hard to make on cross-country. It was not an easy track to make up time on. So, I wasn’t trying to go crazy fast on her because she is green and more spooky than Cheers. We went at the level that I needed to for her training.” The Argentine Thoroughbred was developed by David Adamo, who “did a phenomenal job with her,” Tamie added.

Bec Braitling and Arnell Sport Horses’ Caravaggio II finished third in the division. After leading dressage with a 30.6, a show jumping rail and cross-country time faults slipped them to third.

Weekend Highlights  

Along with the conclusion of the CCI4*-S tomorrow and ongoing Introductory through Training competition, the Fall International hosts qualifiers for the USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Championships and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships.  This special showcase for young horses will be hosted by Twin Rivers on Oct. 23-24. An unrated one-day event is slated for Sunday, Oct. 25, and a new, rated Horse Trials is Introductory to Intermediate on Nov. 13-15.

Although USEF and local COVID-prevention safety protocols bar spectators from attending the Twin Rivers Fall International, Ride On Video is live streaming throughout the weekend.

Twin Rivers Fall International: [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Eventers Rarin’ to Go for The West’s First COVID-era FEI Competition

Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca. Photo by Kim Miller.

After a long delay, the international eventing season roars back to life on the West Coast with the Twin Rivers Fall International Sept. 17-20 in Coastal Central California’s Paso Robles.

The region’s many upper level riders are excited to get back in the hunt for FEI qualifying scores and pairs of all levels are hot to strut their stuff. The competition will also host Advanced through Intro and Future Event Horse and Young Event Horse levels.

Having undergone intensified upgrades before what would have been the inaugural Spring International CCI4*-L in April, the Baxter family’s beautiful, 500-acre venue is readier than ever to welcome competitors from far and wide.

Before COVID-19 shut the country down in early March, exhibitors at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in late February glimpsed some of those upgrades. Highlights include new Advanced to Preliminary courses designed by Hugh Lochore and brought to life by the Baxters’ earth-moving miracles. There’s the Quarry, the Flyover, Jeff’s Hot Tub and the Palm Tree and Twin Ponds water complexes, plus other new adventures spread over varied terrain. New frangible table fences, compliments of the of USEA Foundation grants for this purpose, are another addition.

Lochore, of Great Britain, is also designing the Advanced to Preliminary tracks for September while Adri Doyle of Texas is handling the Intro through Training routes. Jose Nava of California is on design duty in the show jumping arena surrounded by picturesque vineyards in the heart of Central California wine country.

The September International offer qualifiers for the USEA Future Event Horse West Coast Championships and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. This special showcase for young horses will be hosted by Twin Rivers on Oct. 23-24. An unrated one-day event is slated for Sunday, Oct. 24, and a new, rated Horse Trials is pending approval on Nov. 13-15.

New Ways To Shine

The smooth running of Twin Rivers’ Summer Horse Trials in July demonstrated the dedication of all involved to complying with the new normal of wearing facemasks while unmounted, maintaining social distancing and other safety measures.

Twin Rivers is owned by the Baxter family and operated with the attitude that all exhibitors, organizers, officials and volunteers are part of that family. In “normal” times, the attitude manifests at the friendly Twin Rivers bar and gathering area in the middle of the property. In these not-so-normal times, it manifests as extreme care toward keeping everyone safe, happy and able to continue pursuing their passion for equestrian sports.

“Our staff, officials, exhibitors and volunteers all have the same priority,” says organizer Connie Baxter. “We want to enjoy our horses, our friends and our sport and do everything possible to keep everybody safe. It is a pleasure to welcome all back to our property and to have them join in our efforts to host world class equestrian competition.”

In March, the Twin Rivers team earned high praise from visiting Erik Duvander, US Eventing Performance Director. “Every time I come to Twin Rivers, I’m noticing the amount of work. They are constantly upping the game here.” That has continued during the coronavirus lull in competition, benefitting all West Coast exhibitors.

Although USEF and local COVID-prevention safety protocols bar spectators from attending, Ride On Video will live stream throughout the weekend. Livestream sponsorships are available for coverage that will be widely seen by those interested in how horse/riders pairs out West are performing after the long break.

As part of the Twin Rivers Ranch season, The Fall International is made possible by 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; Ride On Video, horse trials videographer; and Get Away RV Rentals, the Central Coast’s preferred RV rental service thanks to its personalized care, service and high quality fleet.

Supporting sponsors include Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and apparel supplier; and Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers exclusive discounts for exhibitors.

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

Volunteers Get Front Row Seats!

Volunteers are critical to the Fall International’s success and the experience is a great entrée to the sport, even for those without prior experience. Hours equal credit toward schooling at Twin Rivers or Horse Trials entries, and inclusion in year-end volunteer raffle and prize pack drawings.

To sign-up, visit EventingVolunteers.com.

Understanding Hay Quality: Even ‘Good’ Hay Can Have Bad Things in It

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

As the source of 50 to 90 percent of a normal, healthy horse’s nutritional needs, hay warrants careful consideration. Yet, there is a lot of confusion over what, exactly, defines “good” hay. Nutrient content and cleanliness are distinct traits often presumptively and wrongly lumped together.

“People need to be more vigilant about hay because it makes up the lion share of their horse’s diet,” explains Meriel Moore-Colyer, PhD. As a professor and graduate dean at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, England, the feeding, assessing and treatment of hay is an ongoing cornerstone of her work in and study of equine nutrition.

Two main aspects define the quality of hay, she explains. The first is nutrient value and its suitability for a specific horse based on its work level and stage of development. The second is “hygienic quality” — the quantity of contaminants that occur naturally in hay’s growth, harvesting, transportation and storage. Their presence in hay explains the unfortunate reality that horses’ most important nutrient source is also one of the biggest contributors to poor quality stable air that is linked to poor respiratory health.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Suitability

“There’s no such thing as ‘the best’ hay,” when it comes to nutrient value, Moore-Colyer explains. “That all depends on what your horse is doing. If you have a fat horse, you want hay with low nutritional value so that he can spend enough time eating without gaining more weight.” Designed to graze throughout the day, the equine digestion system works best when a steady amount of roughage is moving through it.

Conversely, a horse that’s working hard needs forage with plenty of the digestible energy that comes mostly from carbohydrates and fat. As with humans, the equine athlete needs more calories because it’s burning them off.

Moore-Colyer is often struck by misunderstandings about a horse’s needs. “For the work they do, most horses can easily exist on a forage-only diet.” (Forage is an umbrella term for plant-based livestock feed: Hay, haylage and silage are types of forage.) But that isn’t the reality for many horses. In a recent survey of horse owner feeding practices, Moore-Colyer was dismayed to find that 70% supplemented their horse’s hay ration with concentrated feeds. “If we didn’t feed concentrates, we wouldn’t have the equine metabolic disorders we see.” (Metabolic disorders mandate strict diets, especially in regard to water soluble, non-structural and non-fiber carbohydrates.)

General guidelines call for horses to get 1 to 1.5 percent of their body weight in forage. The aforementioned study of feeding practices showed that few owners weighed their horses’ hay, while the majority did weigh the concentrates. That was one of several findings reflecting misunderstandings of hay’s role in their horses’ diet.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Nutrients

Nutrient value in hay varies widely. Even within the same species of hay, energy, protein, mineral and vitamin content is affected by where it’s grown, the soil it’s grown in, when it’s harvested and weather.

However, some generalities can be made. Alfalfa, a legume hay, is relatively high in energy, protein, calcium and vitamin A. Grass hays –including Timothy, orchard, oat and Bermuda — are generally lower in protein and energy and higher in fiber than alfalfa. That’s why grass hays are often suitable for most adult horse’s basic nutritional needs, and alfalfa is often a staple of Thoroughbred racehorses’ diet. These horses’ digestible energy needs are very different.

A hay analysis is the best way to determine what quantities of each nutrient exist in hay. When that’s not possible, a visual assessment offers useful indicators. “Even those who don’t know that much about hay can identify what hay of good nutrient content looks like,” says Moore-Colyer.

“Hay with the highest digestive energy will be green, have a fine, thin stem, and be soft and flexible. It may smell a little like green tea. Pick the hay up in your hands and rub it: it should feel a little bit gritty.” Hay with the lowest digestible energy is “dry and looks like straw. It might feel prickly and smell a little moldy.”

Hay harvested at its nutritional peak will have a high proportion of leaf to stem and the bale should be 85% dry matter. Too dry and the resulting increase in “leaf shatter” adds to respirable dust particles. Too moist and there’s an increased likelihood of mold and bacteria growth.

Dr. Meriel Moore-Colyer. Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Hygienic Quality

The hygienic state of hay is the second component in evaluating hay quality. Beyond obvious cases of excessive dust or smelly, discolored mold, it’s not evident without a microscope. Since helping develop Haygain high-temperature steaming to purify hay, Moore-Colyer has spent over a decade studying what’s in all types of hay, including hay of good nutrient value.

The answer is dust, mold, fungi, bacteria and other allergens, often in the dangerously small particle size of 5 microns. That’s approximately one-tenth the size of a human hair: small enough to infiltrate the horse’s lungs where it can cause inflammation and impede the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. That, in turn, restricts the horse’s ability to get oxygen to the muscles and limits performance.

The human eye typically can’t see particles less than 40 microns in size, rendering invisible the most dangerous respirable irritants that make their way deep into the lungs. But out of sight should not be out of mind, Moore-Coyler stresses. High temperature hay steaming is the one safeguard against the reality that these dangerous irritants exist in hay of all types and nutrient quality.

Using steam injected evenly through hay in a thermally-sealed chest, the Haygain process reduces up to 99% of the respirable particles and allergens found in hay. The key is steam temperatures of at least 212°F, necessary to achieve that reduction.

Along with evaluating each horse’s nutritional needs and assessing hay either by lab analysis or touch, sight and smell, Moore-Colyer recommends hay steaming for horses in all stages of life and levels of work. Drastically reducing these particles drastically improves barn air quality and the respiratory health of its residents, including people.

In the lab, at the barn with her retired dressage partner, an Irish Draft, or at a podium speaking to veterinarians, Moore-Colyer promotes the benefits of hay that can be fully defined as “good” — nutritionally and hygienically and suitable for the horse to which it’s served.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Ella & Whinny: Chincoteague Show Pony Steams Back to Health

Photo by Hoof Print Images.

The mention of Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague novels beams many equestrians back to their childhood dreams. As the protagonists of the 1950s tales, these hearty, feral ponies roamed Virginia and Maryland’s Assateague Island before going onto adventures with adoring young owners on the mainland.

For the now 17-year-old Ella Doerr, that story is fact, not fiction. At 7, she went looking for a safe, sane starter pony. Instead, she found then 5-year-old “Whinny,” a 13.1 hand chestnut Paint with four long, white socks. The Chincoteague’s charm was irresistible. “He was lying down in his stall and he looked up and blinked at me with those magical eyes,” Ella remembers. “I fell in love instantly.”

He was as green as they come, as was Ella.

Fast forward six years, to 2016, when they excelled at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show at Harrisburg in the Medium Childrens Hunter division, winning the class and finishing 6th in the Classic. An 86 score in one of the country’s biggest Indoor circuit showcases is an indelible highlight of a year that included Grand Championships on three regional circuits.

“We all hear that a green pony and green kid don’t mix,” Ella says. “But we did.”

Harrisburg four years ago was the finale of their show career. Ella has gone onto impressive accomplishments in and out of the saddle, and Whinny has introduced younger riders to the sport.

Photo courtesy of Ella Doerr.

The Plot Thickens

Like all good stories, Ella and Whinny’s had an obstacle to overcome: a cough that went from so occasional as to be dismissed to debilitatingly persistent.  It progressed over a two-year period. For the last few years, Ella has limited the otherwise healthy pony to training and competition levels that require only minimal exertion.

The first summer after he retired from higher level competition was tough. Home at her family’s small barn in Wellesville, PA, Whinny had major allergy flare-ups, followed by a throat infection. Multiple vet visits could not determine if the two conditions were related. They did establish that Whinny is badly allergic to alfalfa hay, pine trees, insect bites and other irritants that are hard to avoid in the barn environment.

“We tried everything,” recounts Ella. “Homeopathic allergy treatments, cough syrup and inhalers. We got him to the point where he was okay except that he still coughed when he was ridden.” Ella tried soaking his hay. This common DIY method for removing dust can drastically increase bacteria and, like a lot of horses, Whinny didn’t like it. “He looked at me like, ‘Really? I have to eat that?‘” Ella relays. “It broke my heart.”

Ella is a remarkable and savvy horse woman. She is the USEF’s reserve champion USEF Sportsmanship Award winner in 2020; the USHJA’s Youth Sportsmanship Award recipient in 2016; a consistent top finisher in the USHJA’s Horsemanship Quiz national standings and a junior reporter for The Chronicle of The Horse.

Ella’s most recent report for the esteemed media outlet was an update on arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park for the USEF Pony Finals. Unfortunately, the next day, Saturday August 1, Ella had to break the news that they’d been cancelled due to coronavirus cases at the venue. (She did circle back to the venue the following week with her current ride, Batman, to win their over-fences class and ride to reserve in the Classic. Then she jumped into helping promote the Virtual Pony Finals as a fundraiser for a fellow pony rider, Alexis Halbert, who suffered a bad fall.)

A Better Way

Ella knew there had to be a better way to help Whinny, whose show name is Wind In The Willows. She found it in Haygain Steamed Hay. “I was so excited,” she says of learning that high-temperature hay steaming rids hay of up to 99% of the inhalable bits of dust, mold, fungi, bacteria and allergens found even in hay that is considered high quality for its nutrient content.

Whinny and his stablemates expressed their enthusiasm when Ella’s new HG One portable hay steamer began emitting the tantalizing smell of steamed hay. But Ella was patient. “I didn’t think we would notice a difference right away, but we did almost immediately. Within two weeks of getting steamed hay, Whinny doesn’t really have a cough anymore. He’s much better and healthier. And, happier because he doesn’t have to have the soaked, sticky hay. He couldn’t be more excited.”

Article provided by Haygain. For more information on Haygain high-temperature hay steaming and Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, visit www.haygain.us and follow Haygain USA on Facebook and Instagram.

Haygain is Contributing Sponsor for USEA American Eventing Championship


A Portable HG One Hay Steamer will be awarded to the Training Level Amateur Division champion.

Eventers were the earliest adopters of Haygain Steamed Hay when it was introduced 11 years ago, and Haygain is grateful for that launchpad to what is now widespread, global acceptance of its benefits. The company is excited to be a Contributing Level sponsor for the United States Eventing Association (USEA) American Eventing Championships Aug. 25-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington, KY.

The smallest of Haygain’s three steaming models, the HG One valued at $999, will be awarded to the Training Level Amateur champion as part of the sponsorship, and all AEC exhibitors will receive a special discount code for the purchase of any steamer or Haygain’s ComfortStall flooring. Long-time steamer and top eventer Allison Springer will be part of the Training Level Amateur Champion award presentation on Haygain’s behalf.

As with all eventers, conditioning, fitness and speed are the foundation of daily work for the horses in Allison’s program. “That’s why our horses’ respiratory health is incredibly important to me,” says the international rider. “We use highest quality hay, but still within that there are little spores and different things that can be damaging and irritating. We’ve had great success with our steamed hay regime for several years now.”

Haygain high temperature steaming reduces up to 99% of the dust, mold, fungi, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of top nutritional content. The benefits of clean hay include preventing or managing respiratory problems that affect over 80% of active sport horses, plus improved hydration, digestion and appetite and reduced allergies.

“The USEA is proud to partner with Haygain,” says Kate Lokey, USEA Director of Programs and Marketing. “Haygain’s dedication to finding new ways to improve the health and well-being of horses is a great fit for the USEA, and we are excited to offer their steamer as a prize at the USEA American Eventing Championships!”

Bee Richardson, Haygain’s VP of Marketing, says, “We are happy to continue our long-standing partnership with the eventing community. Hay steamers and our ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring are now relied on by equestrians in all disciplines and around the world, but our path started with eventers. We wish everyone a successful, safe and healthy competition in Kentucky!”

For more information on Haygain, visit www.haygain.us. For more information on the USEA American Eventing Championships, visit www.useventing.com.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Horse Sense Leads San Francisco Zoo to ComfortStall

Slider, a mixed-breed steer; Ramona, a San Clemente Island goat; and Nataani, a Navajo-Churro sheep have Ben, a geriatric Quarter Horse, to thank for the supportive, comfortable surface on which they spend their nights. They are all among the many residents of the Fisher Family Children’s Zoo and Exploration Zone at San Francisco Zoo and Gardens.

The Zoo’s proactive approach to animal care and wellness led them to the equine world where they found ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring.

“We discovered ComfortStall while attending an equine trade show,” says Amy Phelps, Children’s Zoo Curator. “We were looking for a quality flooring product to provide cushioning for the joints of our geriatric and arthritic horses and ended up purchasing one stall’s worth of ComfortStall for an older Quarter Horse. We were so pleased with it, and, more importantly, our horse, Ben, was so pleased with it, that we purchased enough to place the flooring in all the barns in our Family Farm. Now, all of our equines, cows, pigs, goats, and sheep find comfort on this beneficial flooring.”

Like horses used in sport and recreation, zoo animals benefit from veterinary care advances that are resulting in longer life spans. Soundness and compensatory muscle and joint issues have the same debilitating effect on Family Farm residents as they do in sport horses.

“In the zoo industry, animals tend to come in young and live very long lives,” Amy explains. “Geriatric care is a very important component in what we do when developing a whole life plan for an animal.”

ComfortStall’s unique design and construction make it valuable through all phases of life.  Supportive cushion comes from a layer of proprietary foam that provides give and support. The padded surface requires constant, tiny muscle movement to maintain balance, which spurs blood flow and helps maintain joint health. The surface also encourages deep, restful sleep as Family Farm animals spend their nights inside a cozy barn. Having ComfortStall to stand or lie down on greatly benefits their well-being.

            Better Barn Air

The flooring’s durable rubber top cover is sealed to the enclosure walls with anchor strips. This prevents the seepage and accumulation of urine and other fluids that contribute to poor air quality in barns with traditional floor mats. Now, straw, shavings or other types of bedding are not required for use as cushioning: they are only needed in small quantities to absorb urine. Less bedding means fewer dust particles in the air, which improves respiratory health and is especially important when the animals are inside for the night.

Less bedding helps the Zoo’s bottom line, too. Amy estimates that the Children’s Zoo saves $15,000 annually on bedding alone. Plus, not having to haul heavy mats out of the stall regularly for cleaning is a significant labor saver.

Minimal bedding has various benefits for animals with special needs. The miniature horse, Carmela, for example, has had a specialized diet since undergoing colic surgery. Staff must carefully manage what she eats because she can no longer eat a regular hay diet.

“Because Carmela eats everything in sight, including bedding material, it has been important that her interior space be shavings-free but still cozy and comfortable,” Amy explains. “All of which has been critical to keeping her healthy and happy.”

            Evolving Animal Care Priorities

Sprawling over 100 beautiful acres on the southwestern corner of San Francisco, the Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals that represent more than 250 species. In 35 years of care for zoo animals, Children’s Zoo Assistant Curator Eric Krussman has seen animal care priorities evolve to today’s emphasis on positive reinforcement training and enhanced well-being.

Using positive reinforcement methods in the science of applied behavior analysis, training focuses on making care easier for the animal and safer for the handlers. Use of this training is widespread throughout the Zoo, from teaching a snow leopard to receive sub-cutaneous fluids to guiding a giraffe to rest its lower leg on a stand for hoof care.

ComfortStall flooring is an example of the life enhancement component of today’s animal care priorities. “In general, it means doing everything we can to keep our animals happy and comfortable throughout their life,” says Eric.

As animal lifespans extend under expert, compassionate human care, ComfortStall flooring contributes to San Francisco Zoo and Gardens’ mission and to that of the many horses for whom it was originally created.

Article provided by Haygain. For more information on Haygain Hay Steamers and ComfortStall flooring, visit www.Haygain.com.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Every Breath Horses Take Affects Every Move They Make

Photo by Wilhelm Westergren.

“Respiratory health is essential to performance,” stresses Dr. Emmanuelle Van Erck Westergren of a key focus at her Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Waterloo, Belgium.

The prominent veterinarian and thought leader spent 15 years engaged in equine health from a University-based perspective. She then left academia to apply that knowledge in private practice, immersing herself in a 360-degree perspective on horse management. Equine Sports Medicine Practice specializes in high performance horses and prioritizes prevention and career longevity.

“I want to help horses compete successfully over a whole season and a whole career,” Dr. Emmanuelle explains. Accomplishing that involves working with owners to evaluate and implement best management practices related to every aspect of their horse’s health. Respiratory function is critical to that, yet often under-appreciated and misunderstood. Worse, warning signs of trouble are easily missed or misinterpreted.

That’s why Dr. Emmanuelle welcomes the chance to speak on equine respiratory health, as she did here with journalist Kim F Miller.

Kim: How is the equine respiratory system different from a human’s?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Several factors contribute to the horse becoming deficient in oxygen even in sub-maximal levels of exercise. This state is called hypoxemia. In man, oxygen levels stay the same during all levels of exertion.

Kim: What are those factors?

Dr. Emmanuelle:

1. Horses breathe only through their nose. There is no communication between the oral cavity and the airways. Think about exerting yourself while only breathing through your nose.

2. Their narrow upper airway and the long distance from there into the lungs makes it that much harder to move the column of air in and out. It’s “dead space” because nothing happens to the oxygen during the trip. It is only transferred to the blood stream when it gets into the lungs.

3. Horses breathe in and out at the same rate as their gait. As they canter or lope, they inhale in suspension, and exhale when their first foreleg hits the ground. Standardbred trotting horses have an advantage because, if they become oxygen deficient, they can take a big breath over several trot steps. A Thoroughbred racehorse is limited because they can’t compensate with a big breath over a few strides. They have to breathe in and out with their stride. As they become oxygen deficient, they have to breathe more often, which means shortening their stride.

4. Horses’ bodies are over 60% muscle and muscles demand a lot of oxygen. By comparison, muscle mass for a “normal” 18-40-year-old man is 33% to 39%.

5. Horses have a higher heart rate and that faster circulating blood means it doesn’t stay anywhere long enough to output all the oxygen it carries.

 Kim: Will the horse’s ability to intake and use oxygen improve as his fitness improves?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Unfortunately, no. The horse’s muscle and heart function adapt and improve with conditioning, but the oxygen capacity of its respiratory system does not. Human performance is limited because we have small hearts. Horses have big hearts that get bigger and can pump more blood with conditioning, but their performance is still limited because the respiratory system can’t deliver enough oxygen to the muscles.

Because of all the limitations, even a little bit of inflammation or obstruction anywhere in the respiratory tract has a big impact on performance.

Kim: How often to you see sport horses with some type of respiratory disease?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Too often! We have tracked 400 cases in which horses were referred to our practice for poor performance.  Between 50% and 80% had some degree of respiratory disease. Eventers had 100% and international show jumpers had 85% at the high end, while driving and leisure horses were at the “low” end with 50% affected.  In a study published last fall, we found that 88% of 731 horses referred for poor performance had Inflammatory Airway Disease, a range of conditions on the milder end of the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

 Kim:  Do owners typically recognize poor performance issues as related to respiratory health?

Dr. Emmanuelle: No. Most of the complaints were very unspecific. “Feeling heavy” is a top complaint.  Heavy breathing, breathlessness, lack of energy and slow recovery times are more common complaints. Owners seldom noted coughing or nasal discharge, which are more clear symptoms of respiratory problems.

Kim:  What are some of the biggest risks to respiratory health?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Respiratory diseases fall into the category of Equine Asthma, a relatively new label in veterinary medicine. Some horses have a genetic predisposition for it, but otherwise it is an occupational disease. Environment, stresses of training and competition which can lower immunity, and mingling with other horses are all risk factors for Equine Asthma.

Kim: How do you figure out what’s causing the problem?

Dr. Emmanuelle: I look at the horse and his environment. We do measurements of dust levels and samples of contaminants. Some are easy to see. Have you seen someone sweep dust from the barn aisle, then stash that in the horse’s stall? Or seen mold stains on barn walls or ceilings?

A condition called Sick Building Syndrome exists in human medicine and it can apply to horses, too. They may not be coughing or having nasal discharge, but they clearly don’t feel well. That can often be linked to the amount of contaminants growing inside the building

Horses were designed to live outside, but many horses spend 23 hours a day in the barn. Living inside, they’re exposed to 50 times more inhalable irritants! Even if they live outside, if they’re getting hay with contaminants, it’s still a problem.

 Kim: Does weather affect the amount of contaminants to which horses are exposed?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Yes. Europe experienced particularly warm weather this year, and earlier in the spring than normal. That corresponds to a record number of respiratory cases, as did record pollen levels with record numbers of asthmatic patients.

A Canadian study found a correlation between the temperature and humidity and worsening symptoms of equine asthma. And global warming is having an effect because there is a shorter or non-existent period when there is a layer of frozen ground. That all affects the number of contaminants, including fungi, mold and bacteria found in soil, in which hay or straw is grown.

Kim: Fungi sounds especially nasty and dangerous.

Dr. Emmanuelle: It is. Fungi, which is the same as mold, can be very allergenic because it has proteins that can trigger a very strong reaction. It can become infectious and start to grow inside the horse’s airways. That process can produce toxins and irritations to the respiratory mucosa, which can ultimately affect the throat muscles. Fungi can also trigger inflammatory responses that manifest as rhinitis and sinusitis.

The role of fungi is not yet broadly recognized in the veterinary world. When a fungal infection is suspected or diagnosed, current treatments often include corticosteroids to address inflammation. Those further depress the immune system, enhancing the opportunity for fungal infection

In our study of 731 horses referred for suspected respiratory issues and/or poor performance, 88% were found to have Inflammatory Airway Disease. Horses with fungal elements in their airway were 2.1 times as likely to have IAD.

In a study we did on sport horses, we detected a link between fungi in the airways and the likelihood of Exercised Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage: a horse is seven times more likely to bleed from the lungs, through the nose, during extreme exertion when they have fungi in the airways. In the United States, this could get a lot of attention as racetracks are in the process of phasing out Lasix, the medication that reduces EIPH.

Kim: That’s a lot of bad news. How can we protect our horses from these microscopic assailants?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Assess and improve your horse’s environment!

  1. Make sure there’s ventilation in the barn. That means circulation and renewal of the air. If there’s no renewal, moisture will accumulate and foster contaminant growth. Cobwebs indicate there isn’t enough ventilation because spiders won’t make them where there’s any breeze.
  2. Reduce dust: the fine dust that can be inhaled and lodge in the airways and deep in the lungs.
  3. Look for signs of mold on walls, everywhere and especially on walls near stored hay.
  4. Look at floor mats: specifically, what is growing between and underneath them. Urine accumulation can make it really dangerous and gross. It’s awful for horses and people. Stables don’t have to be sterile, but they do need to be clean.

Kim: What about hay and bedding?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Both play a big part in respiratory health.  I strongly advise all my clients to get a Haygain Hay Steamer because it reduces 99% of the fine, respirable particles and kills fungi, bacteria and yeast in hay. Ample scientific studies demonstrate the benefits of killing the fungi/mold. It hasn’t been studied yet, but I think killing the bacteria has a positive impact on horses’ digestive function. I would like to look into that.

When it comes to preventative medicine, Haygain is something that speaks for itself over time. That’s why you don’t see many hay steamers for sale second-hand. Once horse owners adopt it, they don’t go back.

As for bedding, first consider flooring that can be disinfected. Then, wood shavings are better because wood contains terpene, which is a natural antiseptic. Cardboard and paper shavings are cleaner options. Straw, on the other hand, can foster bacteria and fungal growth.

Kim: What about homemade hay steamers?

Dr. Emmanuelle: Not an option. Temperatures need to reach the range of 212°F (100°C) to kill bacteria and fungi. Steaming at lower temperatures actually serves as an incubator for contaminants.

This happened with a dressage horse referred for coughing while exercising. Using an over-ground endoscope, we found he had an obstruction in his upper airway. Determined to help their horse, the owner had made their own hay steamer. What happened, though, was putting contaminated hay into what was, in effect, an incubator. It wound up culturing fungus to the highest level, to where the fungus produced neurotoxins that affected the muscle function and resulted in the obstruction.

Kim: How receptive are horse owners toward these preventative measures you recommend?

Dr. Emmanuelle:  As a sports medicine practice, we work mostly with high level competitors. It has taken a while to educate our clients. As we treat horses year to year, if we are always treating the same problem, I like to review the management over going first for medications. As horses do better over the long term, the results speak for themselves.

Kim: Thank you!!

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

For the Herd: Haygain Helps the Horses Who Started Our Journeys

Competition has resumed in much of the United States and schooling shows and clinics are cropping up on Canadian calendars. Yet, the school horses who likely put riders on their equestrian path in the first place are still hurting. Big time.

After two or three months of complete shut-down because of COVID-19 and now an only partial return to normal operations, lesson program owners are looking at scary balance sheets: same costs of feed and care, but nothing in the revenue column.

As a silver level corporate sponsor of Ontario Equestrian’s For The Herd campaign, Haygain is helping provide desperately needed funds toward feed and care of “schoolies” throughout the province.  “Haygain is all about helping horses,” notes Bee Richardson, the company’s VP of Marketing.  “We know how important lesson horses are as most people’s first introduction to our sport and we are happy to help.”

The idea started as a local Facebook-based endeavor and has grown considerably since Ontario Equestrian took it on in late April. The majority of the $175,000 raised so far has already been distributed to the over 100 lesson programs that have already applied for help.

The need is intense and ongoing, notes Brandon Hall, Ontario Equestrian’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “Everyone has been really set back.” The shutdown’s effect is exacerbated by the timing. “It happened just as horses needed vaccinations, dental work and de-worming and just before the year’s hay purchases need to be made.”

Summer camps are typically a riding school’s main profit source for the year, but that’s doubtful now. Evolving regulations issued by the Ontario Department of Public Health make it currently unclear whether horse camps will be permitted this season. Ontario Equestrian is working to have horses exempt from new regulations in which summer camps cannot include interactions with pets and animals. “It’s too vague to know if horses are included or not,” Brandon explains.

            Help For the Long Haul

Haygain initially joined the school horse aid effort by donating an HG One Hay Steamer to a fundraising auction for the cause. That auction raised $24,000 and a second, larger silent auction is on the drawing board. In the meantime, a beautiful video is making the social media rounds. It depicts the Ontario equestrian community pulling together to help members in need. “We’re strong,” the voiceover assures. “Together, we’ll get through this. But not without a little help.”

Along with golf, equestrian was one of only two sports allowed to resume in Canada’s first phase of return to normal activity. Brandon is happy for all who can get back into the show ring, but he worries that “Now that everybody is getting their fix of riding, the problems that linger may be out of sight and out of mind. If you rode a lesson horse ever, or want the next person to be able to, this is the time to make a donation.”

Throughout the United States, policies limiting the number of participants in summer horse camps are the current norm: by 50% is typical.

Along with product and a much-needed cash donation to For The Herd in Ontario, Haygain is offering lesson barn operators throughout North America a 20% discount on any of its three hay steaming models.

High temperature hay steaming has many health benefits, but budget benefits may be steaming’s biggest asset right now. Horses rarely waste any of their hay after it’s been steamed. And the process makes even less-than-pristine hay appealing in taste and texture, while reducing up to 99% of the dust, fungi, mold, bacteria and allergens found in even top-quality hay. Getting those breathable irritants out of hay alleviates many respiratory issues, helping lower the cost of veterinary care. Steamed hay further helps reduce vet bills by protecting and improving digestion, hydration and overall well-being.

Give Or Get Help

For The Herd welcomes individual and corporate donations. For more information, visit www.fortheherd.ca. For more information about Haygain Hay Steaming, visit www.haygain.com. For riding schools interested in the 20% discount on steamers, please call 888 307 0855 for details. Haygain will offer this discount through the duration of COVID-19-related need.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Hit the Road with Respiratory Health on Board

Photo by Shelley Paulson.

The horse world is cautiously getting back on the road as competitions re-emerge on June calendars. Productive horse people likely spent some of the pandemic doing horse trailer maintenance: checking breaks, tires, interiors, hitches and electrical connections.

Those critical aspects of safe equine transport tend to get a lot of attention. Horse’s respiratory health merits equal consideration because it can be badly compromised during trailering.

Competition itself has enough variables, notes Virginia-based two-time World Equestrian Games eventer Lynn Symansky. “They really increase when you combine those variables with respiratory issues horses can pick up while travelling. Especially when you are traveling with multiple horses in the trailer. You already have dust from shavings and bedding, plus whatever is coming in through the open windows. When each horse grabs and pulls hay from their hay net, it can be worse.”

Hay is mostly a good thing for traveling horses. Having something to munch on keeps them occupied, which helps reduce general travel stress. Chewing and digesting food keeps stomach acids at bay, lowering the risk of ulcers that often accompany that stress.

From a respiratory health standpoint, however, hay can be harmful in the trailer or van. That’s because even hay that has good nutrient quality and looks clean can be loaded with inhalable irritants. Dust, mold spores, bacteria and other allergens are not limited to hay that looks and smells bad. These are the main triggers of conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum that affect a surprisingly high percent of the equine population.

When these microscopic bits lodge in the airways, an inflammatory response to foreign objects kicks in. This can restrict the upper airway and impede the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream. That’s never good for the horse’s welfare or performance, and it’s especially bad when heading to a show.

Before hitting the road, Lynn’s crew steams their horses’ hay in a Haygain Hay Steamer. The high-temperature steaming process rids hay of up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and allergens found in all hay. Putting clean hay in the trailer is especially important because the hay sits right in the horse’s breathing zone for the duration of the trip.

Heads Up: Not Healthy

Eating hay from an elevated position is already problematic, notes Kentucky-based veterinarian and dressage rider Dr. Wren Burnley, DVM. Eating from the ground is nature’s design for allowing the horse to clear inhaled material from its airways. They can’t do that in the trailer.

Opening vents and windows is important for ventilation during travel, although that can also disperse breathable bits further within the trailer. (Use a fly mask or other protective gear to guard the horse’s eye and face from anything that might fly in the window, Dr. Burnley notes.) Stopping for rest breaks every four hours is the conventional wisdom for long trips. If a safe place can be found to unload the horses, letting them drink or graze with their heads lowered will help them clear their airways.

Before loading horses in Ocala, Florida, for the annual trek back to their Virginia base, the team at Will Coleman Equestrian loaded hay into their HG 2000 steamer to make sure all the horses had fresh, clean hay for the journey.

“We ship all the horses on steamed hay,” says the Olympic and WEG eventer’s head groom Olivia Quill. “Steamed hay is easier for them to digest and minimizes the dust while traveling.” A medium-size hay steamer, the HG 600 model, usually goes along with the WCE team. “They are easy to transport,” Olivia reports.

In this time of heightened awareness about airborne respiratory risks, Haygain Steamed Hay offers the assurance of greatly reduced respiratory risks for travelling horses.

For more information on Haygain Hay Steamers and Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, visit www.haygain.us.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

 

Flooring First: Young Florida Barn Builder Discovers That ComfortStall Does It All

“A” circuit jumper, Corey, enjoying his ComfortStall at Whillans Equine. Photo by Emma Whillans.

It’s widely known in the equestrian world that horsemanship skills and horse sense in a business context don’t always go together. They do at Whillans Equine, where 24-year-old hunter/jumper trainer and barn owner Emma Whillan’s clear vision for every aspect her new training and boarding facility has led to a remarkable first year.

Whillans Equine opened for business July 1 of 2019, in the Wellington, Florida area’s Loxahatchee. Emma’s idea was top notch care and training in a family-friendly environment and its realization resulted in the quick filling of her now 24 stalls.

Emma has been planning the barn most of her life. She kept a notebook of what she liked and didn’t like in stables as a junior competitor and working student at several top programs.

Flooring First

Starting from scratch with five acres of former nursery, Emma put flooring first in prioritizing her budget. She knew what she didn’t want: traditional stall mats. These provide little cushion for the horse and are a heavyweight hassle when they and whatever they’re laid on top of need to be cleaned and aired out because of urine seepage and accumulation.

ComfortStall Orthopedic Sealed Flooring was exactly the flooring Emma imagined, even before she knew it existed. The multi-layer system functions as a single-piece thanks to a durable rubber top cover that is sealed to the stall walls with HDPE anchor strips. Under that is proprietary foam that provides give, cushion and energy return.  Emma made an initial investment in 16 ComfortStalls and recently added another eight.

The flooring is a convincing selling point for prospective boarders, letting them feel with their own two feet the commitment Whillans Equine has made to their horses’ well-being. Most important, the flooring is helping the horses, exceeding Emma’s already high expectations at the outset of her barn and business building adventure.

“I am so lucky to have it in my first barn,” she says. “I knew that flooring was something I could not cut corners on and I was right. We’ve actually had some miracle stories with some of our horses, and all of them are way better thanks to this flooring.”

This Is Cushy!

Tamara Ploskunak is one of those to bear out Emma’s prediction that ComfortStall would impress prospective boarders. Shopping for a new home for her Andalusian mare, Rabina, Tamara saw stables that had dirt stall floors and others with rubber mats over concrete. “Oh, this is just bad,” she thought. Then, “Wow! This is cushy. I could do gymnastics on this!” when she visited Whillans Equine.

Tamara purchased Rabina a year ago knowing the mare had some mild fetlock issues, most likely arthritis related. “I figured if that was the only problem, I wasn’t going to worry.” She accepted that joint injections might be a near-future reality to keep Rabina comfortable in her dressage work. After being at Whillans Equine for just a few weeks, “She was sound as a board,” Tamara states. “I think the way the flooring takes the pressure off her legs is really helping her.”

Rabina’s general response on ComfortStall has been “amazing,” the owner adds. “At first, I freaked out because she was always lying down when I came to see her. But now I realize it’s because she is comfortable lying down and I know it’s the flooring. In the past, she used to be fidgety in her stall. She used to pace and weave a little. She doesn’t do that anymore. It is such a relief to know that she is comfortable.”

Tenderfoot

Corey, a 17.2hh show jumper, is another ComfortStall fan, as is his owner and farrier. The 12-year-old Holsteiner has an issue with thinning bursa, the sac of fluid that helps lubricate joint function. “His navicular bursa was pretty beat up,” explains farrier David Bustamante.  It never manifested in actual lameness, but rather as occasional tenderfootedness, especially when first coming out of his stall each day. That’s disappeared since Corey moved onto ComfortStall.

David had cared for Corey when he was stabled elsewhere. The first shoeing after moving to Whillans Equine, David didn’t notice a difference in the jumper’s hooves. After the second shoeing, four weeks later, “I told his owner, I really like his feet.” Because Corey’s nutrition and exercise routine had stayed the same, the farrier attributed the improvement to the flooring.

“But why?” he wondered. “I believe it’s because this flooring allows the feet to articulate in whatever way they want to. The hoof is not set at a certain angle because it’s on a hard surface. It allows give and take and for the bony structures of the foot to go where they want to go.

Corey and his junior rider, Victoria Craig, did well at the 1.1M and 1.15M jumper division at Wellington’s Winter Equestrian Festival this year. They are confident about moving up now that his condition is so well managed.

The “big boy” also seems to be getting more rest. “He didn’t used to lie down that much before, but now he is really comfortable doing so,” observes Pat Craig, Victoria’s mother.

Easing Pregnancy Problems

Breeding is a new adventure for Emma, and for her former Junior Jumper mare, Delfine 3. As usual, the stable owner approached the task with extensive research and inquiries.

Ample bedding was advised for the mare’s comfort throughout her pregnancy. Emma was happy to already have that detail covered with ComfortStall’s orthopedic foam.

The eight ComfortStalls Emma added to the original 16 include two stalls adapted into a 12′ by 24′ foaling stall. “I knew I wanted the ability to un-divide two stalls to make one foaling stall, and I’m so glad I thought of that in advance.” The ComfortStall top cover is normally installed so that it extends a few inches up each wall, to which it is sealed with HDPE anchor strips. A modification to accommodate the removable stall divider was easy to devise, Emma says.

Because Delfine is a first-time mom, Emma removed the mare’s shoes. A maiden mare is more likely to accidently step on her foal in the early days. That advice made sense, but Emma worried that carrying an extra 200 pounds on unshod feet would be rough for a show horse that had worn shoes for 12 years. “I pulled her hind shoes first,” Emma explains. “On regular barn aisle mats, she was a little ouchy, but in her stall, she was completely fine.”

Pregnancy usually brings swollen legs from restricted circulation, but that was another non-issue for Delfine. The constant, tiny muscle movements that occur while standing on ComfortStall prompt proprioception that improves joint health, whether pregnant or not. As a result, Delfine has not suffered the usual lower leg stocking up.

Bottom Line Booster

ComfortStall requires only enough bedding to absorb urine and it prevents urine seepage that creates unhealthy barn air and requires regular, heavy-duty cleaning. For those reasons alone, it substantially lowers bedding and labor costs, often paying for itself in less than a year.  Less bedding in means less soiled bedding out, making ComfortStall an environmentally friendly choice, too.

At Whillans Equine, Emma is most impressed by how far beyond the bottom line the benefits extend. Most of all, seeing her own and her clients’ horses at ease in their stalls and in their bodies is the best dividend for this forward-thinking barn builder and business owner.

 For more information on Haygain’s ComfortStall visit www.haygain.us.

Haygain is a science driven company with the horse’s health as the primary focus.

We are committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, we understand the importance of clean forage and a healthy stable environment in maintaining the overall well-being of the horse.

Our Haygain hay steamers are recommended by the world’s leading riders, trainers and equine vets and ComfortStall® Sealed Orthopedic Flooring System is used and recommended by leading Veterinary Hospitals, including Cornell University.

Haygain Offers 15% Discount to COVID-19 First Responders

In thanks to horse owners risking their own health to fight COVID-19, Haygain is offering a 15% discount on its horse health products to all first responders. The offer applies to its three high-temperature hay steaming models and to ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring and is in effect through at least May 15.

Haygain considers first responders to include medical professionals and support staff, elder care and in-home health workers, grocery store employees and anyone at increased risk because of the essential service they are providing during this difficult time.

To redeem the offer, call Haygain at 888-307-0855.

Haygain high-temperature hay steaming eliminates up to 99% of the microscopic bits of dust, mold, fungi and bacteria found in even top-quality hay. These are the main causes in respiratory issues that affect over 80% of active sport horses, often without obvious symptoms. Steamed hay also adds water to the horse’s diet for digestive health and colic prevention and its proven palatability is great for picky eaters and reducing hay waste.

ComfortStall Orthopedic Sealed Flooring provides therapeutic cushion that preserves joint health and encourages deep, restful sleep.  Its one-piece durable top cover is sealed to the stall walls. This prevents urine from leaking through to the stall base, where it accumulates and creates unhealthy levels of ammonia off-gasses often found under traditional stall mats.

Haygain is grateful to all those helping the country through these unprecedented times.

For more information on the 15% discount, call 888 307 0855. For more information on Haygain’s horse health products, visit www.haygain.com.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes & Lauren Billys Top Twin Rivers Winter H.T.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin, 1st in Advanced. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

It was almost 20 years ago that the Baxter family purchased 500 acres in the sleepy Central California Coast town of Paso Robles. Where others saw fallow farmland, they saw the potential for international equestrian competition. And it was international competitors, Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Tamra Smith, who led the Advanced division at the Feb. 28-March 1 Winter Horse Trials, staged by the Baxters and their Twin Rivers Ranch team.

The team has grown and the venue has transformed in those nearly 20 years, but the mission remains the same: providing a West Coast stage for the pursuit of equestrian dreams at all levels — and to doing so with a distinctly California accent of warm, welcome-to-the-family hospitality. When they’re not out doing the myriad tasks that make Twin Rivers a favorite West Coast eventing destination, owners Connie and Jeff Baxter can often be found behind the central gathering spot’s outdoor bar, serving friends new and old with a smile. Their daughter Andrea Baxter contributes in many ways while pursuing her 5* eventing career. This weekend, she finished fourth on her feisty Thoroughbred mare, Indy 500, in the Advanced division.

Super hosts, Twin Rivers owners Connie and Jeff Baxter. Photo by Kim Miller.

Three hundred-plus pairs, from throughout the region, filled five dressage courts on Friday. Over the weekend, they tackled Hugh Lochore and Marc Grandia’s upper and lower level cross-country courses and the challenging Jose Nava-designed show jumping routes. With show secretary Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at the logistical helm, the schedule ran smoothly and all horses and riders made it back to their barns or beds safely every day.

The overall outcome bodes well for the Twin Rivers Spring International, April 10-12, which includes the debut of the CCI4*-Long division, one of only six events in the United States to host this rigorous level of competition.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin, 1st in Advanced. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Advanced

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and the Chatwin Group’s Chatwin were double clear over Jose Nava’s show jumping track to hold their lead. The rider was thrilled after cross-country to simply have her 5* partner back in form after health issues last year. His rideability and form made for an effort Thieriot Stutes described as one of Chatwin’s best ever.

“I usually have to halt him several times in the warm-up, and today I didn’t need to,” the rider said. It’s a testament to how he’s feeling and a culmination of strength, fitness and technique work advised by team members including USEF Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander and Thieriot’s close friend and peer, Tamra Smith. “Because we have such a good team behind us, we’re the ones who just get to do the fun stuff!” Thieriot Stutes noted.

She praised many facility upgrades that help amplify the atmosphere. Named to the USEF Pre-Elite Training List, Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin are prepping for the Land Rover Kentucky and beyond. “It’s really great to see what the Baxters have done to make it feel like a big round in a big place,” she said of the Sunday scene. The day’s forecasted rain finally loosed a few drops for the final division’s jumping. Along with the heightened atmosphere, “That was really good preparation for the horses.”

Tamra Smith and En Vogue, 2nd in Advanced. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tamra Smith and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue had two rails to maintain their second-place standing.

Helen Bouscaren and Ebay, 3rd place in Advanced. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Downing one rail and staying in their overnight position were Helen Bouscaren and Ebay.

The original field of 13 was led by Smith and Mai Baum, whose 18.4 dressage test would have been tough to surmount. However, they’d withdrawn after dressage by prior plan per their Kentucky preparation.

Duvander now spends a quarter of his time on the West Coast, coaching and monitoring team riders and those who may be contenders for it in the future. “It’s good to see how well they came out of last year and they are both stronger,” he said of Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin and Smith and Mai Baum. He also works with West Coast members of US Equestrian’s Eventing 25 list, for their coach Leslie Law. These include Madison Temkin, Megan Sykes and Kaylawna Smith-Cook, all of whom held their own at Advanced: it was the first completion at the level for Sykes and Smith-Cook.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500, 4th place in Advanced. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

“It’s not just coaching,” Duvander said of his USEF role when discussing the caliber of competition in the West. “Every time I come to Twin Rivers, I’m noticing the amount of work. They are constantly upping the game here.” The USEF’s commitment to riders in the West coincides and to some extent has helped prompt coordinated efforts among riders, owners and organizers to raise the bar in all facets of competition. “In the past it was often said that you need to go East to make it, but it’s really important that riders be able to make it out here. Then, they can go back East and win. That should be the mindset.”

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy, 1st in Intermediate. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Intermediate

Lauren Billys and her Rio Olympics partner Castle Larchfield Purdy will be staying West in their prep for the 2020 Olympics, representing Puerto Rico. Phase one went perfectly with a wire-to-wire win at Intermediate. Nava’s roll-back and turning course enabled Billys to stay on plan with prioritizing efficient turns and accurate tracks to stay within the time. On Saturday’s cross-country, by new Twin Rivers upper level designer, Hugh Lochore, the pair picked up only .4 time penalty. They sealed the victory with double clear show jumping to finish on a 28.2.

Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice, 2nd place in Intermediate. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice were also double clear with elegantly executed angles throughout the track. They moved up from fourth to second for a 33.5 finish.

Eneya Jenkins and Lawtown Boy, 3rd place in Intermediate. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Eneya Jenkins and Lawtown Boy had two rails, to finish third with a 36.4.

Bea di Grazia and Ringwood Isabelle, 4th place in Intermediate. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Preliminary

Fifteen-year-old Bruce Hill wasn’t pleased with himself, but had nothing but praise for his partner, Bossinova, in maintaining the lead in the Preliminary Jr/YR division with a clean effort: “He saved my butt!”

There was no room for rails or time faults, and the student of Trinity Eventing acknowledged he was a little nervous in the warm-up. “But my horse is awesome!” The pair assumed the lead after cross-country and finished on their dressage score of 28.5.

Bruce Hill & Bossinova. Photo by Kim Miller.

Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector were second on a 29.9 and Kathryn Canario, and Kiltubrid Rhapsody finished on their dressage score, 30.9, to maintain third place.

In the Preliminary Rider division, Alliston Eventing student India McEvoy held the one and two spots with E’Zara and Red Bull, respectively. The small animal veterinarian was thrilled with both horses’ performance. The 7 -year-old Red Bull had held the lead thanks to his lovely dressage test and 22 score, but show jumping is still a nerve-wracking venue for the Redwine youngster. Two rails Sunday forced him to hand the top spot to his more seasoned stablemate. E’Zara had a tougher time with dressage but was error free jumping, in and out of the ring, to take the win.

Madeleine Moore and Rogadina moved up steadily to finish third on a 41.6.

Lauren Burnell & Freedom Hill. Photo by Kim Miller.

In the Open Preliminary, Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill were unbeatable from their Friday 24.1 dressage score on through the weekend. Double-clear show jumping was easy, breezy, beautiful to the point that even their coach, Bec Braitling, couldn’t catch them. Braitling and Kirschblute 3 had a tiny time penalty, .4, in show jumping, dropping them to third, while James Alliston and Calaro went clean to finish second on a 26.7.

Next Up

Riders weren’t the only winners this weekend. Among the many volunteers needed to make the competition successful, Leslie van der Wal drew the winning raffle ticket for a generous prize pack donated by Twin Rivers sponsors. The Twin Rivers Ranch season is presented by Professional’s Choice and Auburn Labs. The Riding Warehouse and Best Western PLUS Black Oak are supporting sponsors. The volunteer grand prizes included a bottle of Auburn Labs’ APF, a Professional’s Choice tote bag, and a $50 Riding Warehouse certificate. The prize pack raffle represents phase-one of an incentive program to reward this important role in the sport.

With a fundraising Combined Test set for April 4-5 and an anticipated 500-plus turn-out for the April 10-12 Spring International and its inaugural CCI4*-Long, those volunteers will be even more valuable going forward.

Along with highest level competition, plans for the Spring International include an enhanced Vendor Village, a Friday night wine tasting and amenities intended to further support and expand the equestrian family that revolves around Twin Rivers Ranch.

For complete results, schedule and other information: www.twinrivershorsepark.com.

Twin River Winter H.T.: WebsiteFinal Scores

Twin Rivers: Thieriot Stutes, Billys and Burnell Out in Front After Cross Country

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Yesterday being Leap Day, there was some leapin’ going on during the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials: over Hugh Lochore’s upper level cross-country courses and in the standings.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin overtook the top spot in Advanced. Although the previous dressage leader, Mai Baum, is perfectly fine, Tamie Smith opted to end the Pan Am Games team gold medalist’s weekend after their 18.4 dressage test.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Smith remains in hot pursuit of the win with Ruth Bley’s En Vogue. The top nine of the 12 remaining Advanced pairs jumped clean, but incurred significant time faults in this early season outing. En Vogue was the exception with just 1.6 in this column.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Helen Bouscaren and Ebay moved up into third, adding 12 time penalties to their dressage score for a 35.6. The leaders have a 27.8, followed by Smith and En Vogue’s 30.

Helen Bouscaren and Ebay. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Helen Bouscaren and Ebay. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Having the lead is second to having Chatwin back to his old self, says Thieriot Stutes. After finishing fourth at the Luhmühlen 5* in Germany last June, Chatwin was sidelined most of the rest of the year with severe health issues stemming from a case of enteritis. For a long stretch, his survival was all the rider and the Chatwin Group cared about. Thieriot-Stutes was “not going for broke,” but there were moments when her partner of six years seemed to be on today’s course. All of it indicating Chatwin has put the problem behind him. “Just being here is spectacular,” said Thieriot Stutes. The pair is on the US Developing Rider Training List and has Land Rover Kentucky in their sights if all proceeds as hoped.

Megan Sykes and Kaylawna Smith-Cook celebrated their first Advanced level completion today. They are sixth and eighth, aboard Classic’s Mojah and Passepartout, respectively.

Lauren Billys & Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

In the Intermediate, overnight leader, junior rider Jordan Crabo, had a fall on course. She’s fine, but out of the running. Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy got their Olympic year off to a great start in taking the lead. With their qualification to represent Puerto Rico in Tokyo already assured, Billys was able focus on a general goal of “being a faster and more efficient rider and preparing myself and my horses to be more forward.” That was no problem for Purdy, who crossed the finish line with just a .4 time penalty, for a 28.2 going into show jumping.

“It’s an interesting season because it’s a slow burn to get all the way to Tokyo,” Billys explained.  “I ran Purdy here at Intermediate to see where he is in terms of fitness and to focus on things I need to improve. Today was a good indicator that he is feeling well and is happy to do his job.”

A sliver of time penalties knocked Eneya Jenkins and Lawtown Boy out of their lead: they stand in second just 0.2 penalties behind.

Eneya Jenkins and Lawtown Boy. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Intermediate’s third-ranked pair is Billys again with her “pocket rocket,” Can Be Sweet. At “maybe” 16 hands, “He’s very different from Purdy, but he’s turning out to be very suited for the upper levels.”

Lauren Billys and Can Be Sweet. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

There were few changes in the standings at Preliminary’s Open and JR/YR divisions. Amateur Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill were double clear to hold the lead on their dressage score in the Open division. Their coach, professional Bec Braitling, and Kirschblute 3, had just 1.2 time faults to stand second and James Alliston and Calero were double clear for third. Less than three penalties separate the top three.

Lauren Burnell and Bec Braitling. Photo by Kim Miller.

Burnell credited the lead completely to her horse. “He is calm and just loves his job,” she said. “On cross country, he goes fast and stares for the flags. I just love him!” Burnell and Arnell Sporthorses are based at Twin Rivers Ranch, but Freedom Hill isn’t one of those horses who needs a special routine to get tuned up for competition in his own backyard. “Wherever he is, it’s a show.”

Bruce Hill & Bossinova. Photo by Kim Miller.

Bruce Hill and Bossinova‘s double clear cross-country moved them from second to first in the Prelim Jr/YR standings, while Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector‘s modest time faults lost them the overnight lead. Kathryn Canario and Kiltubrid Rhapsody held their third spot, while this division, too, is tightly bunched. No room for a rail from anyone in the top three over Jose Nava’s show jumping route if they want to win on Sunday.

Fresh from a third-place finish at the CCI2*-Short at Fresno County Horse Park, the partnership of 15-year-old Hill and Bossinova is still quite new. It’s been smooth sailing, including today over the new cross-country track. “They did a great job redesigning the course,” said Hill. “It’s straightforward and fun, but nothing super hard or scary.”

Comments about the courses’ suitable were echoed by riders at several levels. All expressed excitement about further changes that will be revealed for April’s Spring International, featuring the inaugural CCI4*-Long division. Today’s tracks were praised as appropriate for the start of the season.

Derek and Bea di Grazia are fourth and fifth at Intermediate, with Ringwood Justice and Ringwood Isabelle, respectively. Land Rover Kentucky and Olympic course designer Derek di Grazia said: “It was a nice galloping course: a good confidence builder for the horse’s next event.” For riders, Bea di Grazia added: “It was good for rusty people to learn to gallop at something and there was nothing too tricky. It was a great opportunity to practice getting your eye back.”

Bea di Grazia and Ringwood Isabelle. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

The competition continues with show jumping today for the upper levels, while the lower levels tackle cross country. Best of luck to all! Go Eventing.

Twin RiversWebsiteLive ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

 

Twin Rivers: Smith, Crabo & Burnell Lead Winter Horse Trials After Dressage

Tamra Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Dressage day at the Winter Horse Trials saw Tamra Smith take familiar positions on familiar horses in the Advanced Division. She and Pan Am Games team gold medal partner, Mai Baum, owned by Alexandra Ahearn, earned an 18.4 from Ground Jury member Sue Smithson to lead the 13-horse field. And she’s third aboard Danito and sixth on En Vogue, with a 20.2 and a 28.4 respectively. Both are owned by Area VI’s Owner of the Year Ruth Bley.

Tamie Smith and Danito. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Smith credits Mai Baum’s terrific test to a winter focused on connection, throughness and strength. “He has this flamboyant movement, but he didn’t have the core strength and fitness. We’ve changed up the fitness routine, and it’s had great results.”

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Slotting into second is another familiar pair, Frankie Thieriot-Stutes and Chatwin, with a 20.2.

Helen Bouscaren and Ebay are fourth and Auburn Excell Brady is fifth with BSP Tuxedo.

En Vogue and Danito were originally entered in the Intermediate division, but when Smith saw the Advanced cross-country course, she moved them up to get the experience of the new Advanced dressage test and for the show jumping mileage. “The course is big, but it’s not overly technical,” she said. “It’s beautiful and a nice first Advanced for the season. I knew they wouldn’t be in over their heads.”

Jordan Crabo & Over Easy. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

The Open Intermediate division is tightly bunched after dressage, also in front of judge Smithson. Young rider Jordan Crabo and the veteran mare Over Easy lead on a 25.9 score. “She was awesome,” said the young Crabo of her mom Barb Crabo’s Swedish Warmblood. “I think it was our best test yet. She was very up and tried her heart out.”

Of Saturday’s course, Crabo said, “It looks really beefy! I’m going to be feeling some butterflies in the morning. Otherwise, it looks like a very fun course with areas that we haven’t ridden before.”

Eneya Jenkins and Lawtown Boy. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Eneya Jenkins is second thanks to the 26 score she earned with her own Lawtown Boy, one of three horses she’s riding in this division with 20 pairs.

Lauren Billys and Can Be Sweet. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Lauren Billys and Can Be Sweet are third on a 26.4. Billys is also in the fifth spot with her 2016 and already-confirmed 2020 Olympic partner, Castle Larchfield Purdy.

Open Preliminary has a distinct home field advantage after dressage in front of Ground Jury member Vicky Stashuk-Matisi. Amateur rider Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill lead with a 24.1, followed by professional Bec Braitling and Pamela Duffy-Trotter’s Kirschblute 3, with a 25.2. Burnell is a principal owner of Arnell Sporthorses, whose head trainer is Braitling, and the sales and development program is based at Twin Rivers Ranch. James Allison and Calaro are third with a 26.7 among 35 contenders in this division.

The new “Burghley Flyover” at Twin Rivers. Photo by Kim Miller.

Since hosting its first event in 2004, the Baxter family has steadily built Twin Rivers Ranch into the premiere eventing venue they envisioned when they purchased 500 acres in Coastal Central California in 2001. The inaugural Spring International CCI4*-L, April 9-12, will mark a major milestone in the realization of those early visions, and this weekend’s Winter Horse Trials gives exhibitors a good glimpse of some of venue’s latest, exciting upgrades. An element tentatively titled the “Burghley Flyover” is not being used this weekend, but illustrates the unique elements that have been dreamed up for the CCI4*-L. An expanded quarry section, now called “The Chasm,” will be in action Saturday, with new multiple entry and exit points for most levels. A favorite Twin Rivers feature, “Jeff’s Hot Tub” water complex, has ample new options, too.

Heather Morris watching dressage. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Eventing Riders Association of North American president Shannon Lilley applauds the Baxter family’s endeavors. “I have to hand it to them for all that they have done for the betterment of our sport. Especially when this is their home, their own property.” Lilley describes the Baxters as among those “who can see things from 20,000 feet above the ground in the sense that what they are doing has a rising tide lifts all boats effect.”

Competition continues Saturday with cross-country for Training through Advanced; while Training through Introductory show jump.

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Twin Rivers’ 2020 Season Opener Is Ready to Run

James Alliston and Pandora topped the Advanced division of the Twin Rivers Winter H.T. in 2019. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tamie Smith with her 2019 Pan Am Games team gold medalist partner Mai Baum along with five-star pairs Andrea Baxter with Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes with Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.

Weather for the Winter Horse Trials looks distinctly un-wintery on Feb. 28-March 1, as the Baxter family-owned venue on California’s Central Coast welcomes 300-plus contenders. Joining the aforementioned pairs running Advanced are newly-anointed members of the USEF’s U25 Eventing Program — Maddy Temkin, Kaylawna Smith-Cook and Megan Sykes — plus seasoned competitors Helen Bouscaren, Gina Economou, Auburn Excell Brady, Amber Levine and Emilee Libby. 

Twin Rivers’ 500 acres are green and tracks designed by new upper level course designer Hugh Lochore are full of new tests. Plus, teasers for what’s to come at April’s inaugural Spring International CCI4*-L, one of only six competitions at this rigorous level in the United States.

“They are a progressive bunch,” says Lochore of the Baxter family. Along with Andrea Baxter, organizer Connie Baxter has extensive eventing experience and Whirlwind Excavating owner Jeff Baxter happily applies his expertise and equipment to bringing Lochore’s ideas to life.

“The venue has interesting topography and it’s a good canvas to play with,” Lochore adds. “It’s exciting when you put things on paper, then you have a team that is keen to get the bit between their teeth and make it happen.” Lochore designed the Preliminary through Advanced courses; Marc Grandia designed the Intro through Training. Show Jumping course designer Jose Nava has colorful new obstacles to work with in the arena.

The Winter Horse Trials are presented by Auburn Labs, makers of adaptogenic APF Formula for horses, riders and dogs; and Professional’s Choice, manufacturers of top-of-the-line sports medicine boots for horses. Supporting sponsors include Best Western PLUS Black Oak, which offers great exhibitor deals on nearby lodging; and Riding Warehouse, the horse gear and supply company located in nearby San Luis Obispo. Vendors include Equestrian Habits, Chubby Cov, Whitehorse Tack, Cahoots Catering and Katie’s Coffee.

Volunteer opportunities abound and all those helping out will have their name entered in a raffle for generous prizes. These include Twin Rivers entries, stabling and a cross country schooling certificate; and a family four-pack of tickets to the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari. More hours equals more raffle tickets! Sign up to volunteer here.

Other useful info for competitors: the show photographer is Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography, and the official videographer is Ride On Video. For competition-related inquiries, contact Christina Gray of Gray Area Events at [email protected].

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