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Five Top 10 Eventers Are Hay Steamers

Liz Halliday-Sharp’s five-star partner Deniro Z eats steamed hay to prevent a recurrence of ulcers.

Five of the U.S. current top 10-ranked eventers count on Haygain steamed hay for their horses. Initially, most sought it for different reasons: poor appetite, ulcers and being “allergic to America” among them. Which is kind of funny because these are all secondary benefits.

Steamed hay was developed 10 years ago in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, England. The primary goal was improving respiratory health, which is considered the number-one performance limiter in otherwise healthy horses.

Hay should always comprise the majority of the horse’s diet, but the fact is that even the best quality, most expensive hay is loaded with breathable irritants: dust, mold, fungi and bacteria. These particles infiltrate the airways and lungs, which are one of the most vulnerable and delicate systems in the horse’s body. Unlike muscles, the thin lining of the respiratory system, through which oxygen is absorbed by the body,
can’t be made stronger.

Damage can’t be repaired, only managed, which steamed hay is a huge help with. Ideally, Haygain is deployed as a preventative measure. In healthy horses, the clean, pure hay steaming produces enables better breathing that equals better health and performance.

Eventers Lead The Way

Globally, eventing riders lead the way in embracing hay steaming. Their three-phase sport involves galloping at speed, two to three miles, over large, permanent obstacles that don’t budge when hit. Feeding clean hay, no matter where they are in the world, ensures the easy breathing essential to that level of exertion.

Recently selected to represent the U.S. at the Pan American Games in August, Tamie Smith turned to Haygain Steamed Hay to help improve her 5* horse Wembley’s appetite. The big horse was a picky eater and needed to eat more to have the energy required. Wembley’s appetite improved immediately on steamed hay and Tamie quickly recognized its wider benefits and put all her horses on it.

“All you have to do is look at steamed hay versus dusty, dirty, dry hay, and it’s a no brainer,” Tamie says. “You can see how much cleaner it is and we just feel it’s overall better for the horses’ respiratory systems.”

One of Tamie’s other horses is Mai Baum, her Pan Am Games partner, and the stakes regarding his health could not be higher right now. The U.S. team must earn Pan Am gold or silver to assure the States a place at the 2020 Olympics.

Tamie’s Pan Am teammate as the traveling reserve, Liz Halliday-Sharp, sought Haygain to help one of her top horses, Deniro Z, recover from an ulcer and prevent a recurrence. For nutritional reasons, he needed to switch from haylage to regular hay, yet still get the water content found in haylage. Since switching to steamed hay, Deniro is back on track as a top international horse.

“Deniro prefers it to anything else,” Liz reports. Like Tamie, Liz is now steaming hay for her other horses. “I like the idea that it’s dust and bug free and they all seem to love it.”

Her barn staff is happily on board, too. “We had been soaking our hay and that was a real nightmare. They love not having to do that anymore and the horses are happy and healthy.”

Fellow top-10 ranked rider, Olympian and WEG team member Lauren Kieffer acknowledges that she didn’t realize all of steamed hay’s benefits “until we had a horse that really needed it.” That horse was a recent import who arrived from Europe struggling with allergies. His breathing was frequently wheezy, and he was prone to coughing at rest and while galloping. “He was basically allergic to America,” Lauren comments.

While looking for ways to alleviate the horse’s allergy symptoms, Lauren’s head groom Sally Robertson suggested Haygain. The allergy-affected import was a familiar story for Sally, whose belief in steamed hay dates back to her days in England working for Clark Montgomery. At the time, the American Olympic eventer was based there and some of the horses he brought with him were suffering allergy-like symptoms, probably due to different grasses and other environmental factors. The science-backed benefits of feeding clean hay made immediate sense to Sally and seeing Clark’s horses respond positively to the new diet made her a believer.

Back in the States working for another top rider, Sally saw another imported horse’s persistent cough disappear after just a few feedings of steamed hay. “We just couldn’t get rid of that cough. We’d wet the grain, we’d soak the hay … nothing mattered. But after a few feedings of steamed hay, that cough was gone. It was crazy!”

Sally brought her belief in Haygain when she signed on as head groom for Lauren. Lauren rides for Jacqueline Mars’ Mars Equestrian and is a top candidate for another Olympic outing.

Buck Davidson is another top-10 ranked Haygainer. One of the first Americans to embrace hay steaming, Buck explains that “it was huge for Reggie,” his 2010 World Equestrian Games partner, aka Ballynoe Castle RM.

Another Olympian, WEG team member and top-10 ranked rider, Will Coleman, adopted steamed hay for his horse’s overall health and improved performance. “You focus on your short-term plans because that’s what will take you to your long-term goals,” he explains. Maintaining peak horse health is the most important aspect of those short-term goals. Steamed hay, he says, “is one of those small things that make a big difference.”

Although he’s an Olympian, Will has a reason for choosing steamed hay that gives him common ground with all horse owners: a desire to provide the best for their horses’ health, well-being and performance.

For more information on Haygain USA, visit www.haygain.us

The Summer Event at Woodside to Feature ‘M-Training Challenge’

2019 Preliminary Challenge winners: Penhill Celtic & Bec Braitling (horse division), left, and Meg Pellegrini & Ganymede (rider division.) Photo by Sherry Stewart.

On the heels of a sold-out Spring Event at Woodside, organizer Robert Kellerhouse announces another competition innovation: the Modified Training Challenge. The “M-Training Challenge” is the centerpiece of The Summer Event at Woodside, taking place Aug. 9-11 at The Horse Park at Woodside.

Designed to offer new challenges in the dressage, cross country and show jumping phases for Training level horses and riders, the M-Training Challenge is modeled on the Preliminary Challenge. Like that 11-year-old institution on the pathway to international divisions, the M-Training Challenge will conclude with Saturday night show jumping followed by a ringside dinner after-party.

Run to the standards identified in the USEF rulebook as the “Modified-Training” division, the M-Training Challenge adds difficulty across the board without requiring the full step up to Preliminary.

Friday’s dressage will be conducted at Modified Test B, introducing leg yields, halt and rein-back, 10-meter trot and 15-meter canter circles and trot and canter lengthenings, with two judges to provide feedback. Cross country will be built at Training level’s one-meter height, but on a different track than the regular Training course and with more technical challenges and a faster pace of 470 meters per minute. Show jumping will be staged at the Modified division’s 1.05-meter height, with double and triple combinations upping the degree of difficulty.

Prizes for the M-Training Challenge are already sweet: a new saddle for the overall lowest score, and at least $2,500 cash in the horse and rider divisions. Kellerhouse anticipates that broad industry enthusiasm will enable additional prizes and welcomes founding sponsors who would like to align with this new event.

            New Ideas From a Veteran Organizer

The M-Training Challenge’s horse and rider divisions are designed for professionals’ younger horses and for riders looking to test themselves at a higher level. Many of these rider division candidates are amateurs and juniors who comprise the base of the pyramid upon which equestrian sport is built in the United States. Kellerhouse looks forward to celebrating their accomplishments.

Along with establishing the nationally-known Preliminary Challenge, the veteran event organizer began staging international eventing at Galway Downs in 1999. He brought the first CCI4*-L (formerly defined as a CCI3*) competition to the West Coast, in 2010, and now has a long track record of top events at Galway Downs in Southern California’s Temecula and The Horse Park at Woodside in Northern California. By prioritizing footing, maximizing current technologies and gathering and acting on customer feedback, Kellerhouse competitions have enabled many international contenders to prepare on the West Coast. After the Summer Event at Woodside comes the Woodside International Horse Trials CCI4*-S, Oct. 3-6, followed by the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event & Horse Trials, CCI4*-L, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Kellerhouse also manages the Galway Downs equestrian venue. This 242-acre property in the Temecula Valley wine country in Southern California now hosts international dressage and eventing competition, national hunter/jumper tournaments and a nearly year-round calendar of equestrian activity.

            Ideal Timing

Falling shortly after The Event at Rebecca Farm in Montana, The Summer Event at Woodside is an ideal showcase for Intro to Intermediate exhibitors. The Event also hosts Future Event Horse 2-year-old, 3-year-old and yearling tests.

 Stabling, footing and many other upgrades were thoroughly appreciated by the 450-plus pairs contesting last month’s Spring Event and improvements continue at the spacious, beautiful venue in one of California’s horsiest havens. In addition, the South Bay Area weather is usually cooperative. “It’s one of the few places where it’s not too hot to stage equestrian competition in August,” Kellerhouse notes of the wooded, 272-acre facility that is uniquely dedicated to year-round equestrian sport and lifestyle.

Entries for The Summer Event at Woodside open June 25 at www.evententries.com or at Xentry on www.useventing.org.  Tickets to the M-Training Challenge dinner can also be purchased at www.eventingentries.com, where live scoring will be available during the event. Entries close July 23. For more information, visit www.woodsideeventing.com.

For sponsorship information, contact Alyssa Dobrotin at [email protected].

The Spring Event at Woodside: Dressage Day Roundup

Intro through Advanced competition got the Memorial Day weekend off to a busy start as 450 horse/rider pairs filled six dressage rings at The Horse Park at Woodside. The Preliminary Challenge wraps up on “Super Saturday” with cross country in the morning and show jumping at night, while all other divisions continue through Sunday, May 26.

Let’s catch up with the Friday action!

Madison Langerak and Normandy’s Kivalo. Photo by Kim Miller.

Madison Langerak and Tamie Smith Lead the Preliminary Challenge Rider and Horse divisions

Now marking its 11th year, the Preliminary Challenge celebrates and incentivizes horses and riders preparing for the international divisions. Cash and prizes total $15,000 in each division and the show jumping finale features an electric atmosphere in which the top 10 pairs jump in reverse order of their standings. It’s a great test for horses and riders and has become the social event of the season for spectators.

Long trips have paid off for young eventer Madison Langerak. Two years ago, on a family vacation in Hungary, she fit in a horse shopping trip and found the Hungarian Sport Horse, Normandy’s Kivalo. He was a very green 5-year-old, but Madison saw potential that’s proven true.  After another long trip, this time from her Boise, Idaho home to Woodside, California, Madison and Kivalo topped a strong field of 27 contenders in the Preliminary Challenge’s rider division after dressage.

Madison has targeted the Spring Event’s Preliminary Challenge for some time. Previous horses had not had quite the right stuff for this stepping stone to international competition. “I’ve always looked at it as a milestone and to start this well is special because I’ve produced him through the levels myself.” She attributes their steady ascent together to Kivalo being “smart, willing and loving his job.”

Saturday’s Bert Wood-designed Preliminary cross-country track walks as the perfect combination of technical and big, Madison explains. They’ve done well with big and technical separately this year, and now she hopes to put the two together effectively. If they remain in a top spot for Saturday night’s show jumping showdown, under the lights and with a big crowd cheering, Madison hopes the jazzed-up environment won’t jangle her nerves. She’s confident of how Kivalo will respond. “I think that will spice him up. He’s a little on the lazy side, but he loves to perform.”

Madison and Rivalo’s 29.40 dressage score led the pack in the competition that has catapulted many careers. Maya Clarkson and Sweep’s Crystal Cruise are second with a 31.60 and Meg Pellegrini and RF Eloquence enter Saturday morning’s cross-country sitting third on a 33.

Tamie Smith and Elliot V. Photo by Kim Miller.

Familiar professionals dominated dressage in the Preliminary Challenge Horse division. Tamie Smith and Elliot-V are in the lead on a 27.10, Bec Braitling and Penhill Celtic are close behind on a 27.90 and Lauren Billys and Can Be Sweet are third on a 30.90 score.

Frankie Thieriot-Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Kim Miller.

   Two Amateurs, Frankie Thieriot-Stutes and Hilary Burkemper, Lead Advanced

Two amateurs topped the standings after dressage in the Advanced division. Familiar Frankie Thieriot-Stutes and Chatwin lead the way on a 27.30 score from judges Valerie Crail and David Schmutz. Hilary Burkemper and her gorgeous gray Undercover are second on a 32.50, with Sara Selmer and PDQ Leigh in third on a 33.80.

An attorney who lives in Santa Barbara, Hilary is thrilled with “Ace’s” dressage test. It’s the latest in many milestones over the last year since Hilary started working with hunter/jumper coach Kristin Harden and eventing trainer Erin Kellerhouse. She describes both as “the greatest,” and credits them with restoring her own and Ace’s confidence in the sport. Ace lives with Erin in Temecula and Hilary keeps her riding sharp with a 5-year-old at home in Santa Barbara. She misses her Ace,  so named “because he aces everything”– but their 6-year partnership before that and Erin’s horsemanship make it work. It’s unusual arrangement for an Advanced pair, Hilary confirms, but it works. “Ace is happy and well taken care of and it’s thrilling to see your horse that way.”

As for Saturday’s cross-country, “Woodside is always challenging,” Hilary says. “But it’s a fun challenge. It’s not dangerous or intimidating but you have to take notice. There’s a lot of downhill terrain. I think it’s the most challenging course in California.”

Hilary Burkemper and Undercover. Photo by Kim Miller.

Along with continued top flight competition and the Preliminary Challenge dinner gala, “Super Saturday,” May 25, encourages new fans to come out and enjoy the sport. A VIP tent on cross-country offers up-close action of the Lake Shanahan water complex and US Eventing Association CEO Rob Burk will be giving a 4 p.m. talk geared toward newcomers.  The United States Pony Club has a booth all weekend with members happy to answer questions about the sport.

VIP X-C Tent tickets and Preliminary Challenge Gala tickets are available in the office while they last. For more information, visit www.woodsideeventing.com.

The Spring Event at Woodside: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

Super Saturday: Woodside Ups the Ante for Highly Anticipated Spring Event

2018 Preliminary Challenge Rider winner Krista Stevenson on Caison. Photo by Sherry Stewart, courtesy of Woodside.

A 1,200 square-foot on-course VIP tent adds an awesome fan experience to The Spring Event at Woodside this year, set for May 24-26 at The Horse Park at Woodside. “Super Saturday’s” VIP cross-country tent opportunity enhances an event already famous nationally as host of The Preliminary Challenge. The tent provides front row seats next to the North Water Complex with big screen TVs live streaming action from the rest of the Ian Stark-designed international cross country course — plus, food, drink and fun with fellow fans.

The Preliminary Challenge was launched in 2009 to promote a critical crossroad in the journey to international competition. The Challenge offers $15,000 in prize money in both the rider and horse divisions. This alone draws large fields and ups the performance pressure, both of which are important to those pursuing the sport’s top levels.

The amped-up atmosphere created by Friday dressage in the Grand Prix Arena, Ian Stark’s cross-country track — now with the new VIP tent — and Saturday night’s stadium jumping showdown cranks the atmospheric volume to 11. For the finalé, sold-out dinner gala crowds ring the Grand Prix Arena, cheering as the top 10 pairs compete in reverse order of their standings.

Gala seating is tented and heated and sells out at light-speed: dinner tickets are $60 each; tables of 10 are $550. Cross-country tent admission is $75 after that. Both are available here. General admission and an informative event program come with $10 parking.

USEA Rob Burk will break from volunteer start box timing Saturday to give an informal talk about the sport at 4 p.m. The United States Pony Club has a booth manned all weekend with members happy to share info and advice. Both can be found at the pavilion area near the show office.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin won the Preliminary Challenge in 2015. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

See Tomorrow’s Stars

In celebrating and incentivizing Preliminary level competition with the Challenge, organizer Robert Kellerhouse is ushering more horses and riders onto the higher levels, while giving fans an early look at tomorrow’s stars.

Last year’s USEF National CCI3* Champion, Frankie Thieriot-Stutes, has taken two horses to the Preliminary Challenge title: her current partner Chatwin in 2015 and Uphoria in 2012. Last Year’s AEC Gold Cup Final winner Tamie Smith was a 2010 champion with C.S.I., and she has two horses entered this year.

The Preliminary Challenge is a launchpad for young riders, too. It has a direct correlation to the North American You Championships for Area VI. The 2017 top rider, Mallory Hogan, went on to the NAYC that year and the next, then made her CCI4* debut this year with Clarissa Purissima, her Preliminary Champion partner. One of Mallory’s 2017 NAYC teammates was 2016’s winner Delany Vaden riding Redrox Jazzman. You get the idea…

 

Flat-Out Fun!

“It’s the most fun competition anywhere,” say recent winners, junior Krista Stevenson and professional Bec Braitling. Both athletes find their fun in the most intense, demanding, pressure-packed environments. “There is no other show like the Preliminary Challenge,” says Krista, winner of 2018’s rider division aboard Caison. She’s been targeting the competition most of her riding life. “You’re jumping under the lights in front of hundreds of people. You really just want to enjoy it because it’s really a big deal. To win it … That was really cool!”

Well-established professional Bec Braitling has already achieved the high performance wins to which Krista aspires, but the veteran has the same kid-in-a-candy-store enthusiasm for the Preliminary Challenge.

Bec rode Santana II to the title in 2017. “It’s really a fun challenge for me as a rider. You are typically sitting on a young horse, and it’s a fun stepping stone. The kind of pressure it puts on you helps you find out what kind of horse you have in terms of its international potential.”

For Krista, last year’s win still manifests in recognition from a wider circle of peers and pros, and in her confidence. “It really gave me the sense that we can do this,” says the NAYC hopeful, “that we are capable and qualified and that we should keep working hard.”

Last year’s horse division winner Staccato traveled from Washington state to contest the Challenge with Jordan Lindstedt. He had several Preliminary starts under his belt already, but the Challenge was all new everything, Jordan recalls. “The ring is quite impressive, surrounded in the big white tents.” From dressage in the Grand Prix ring on through to Saturday night’s stadium jumping, “It’s a lot to take in.” Staccato handled it and has parlayed the positive experience into continued success, most recently winning April’s Open Intermediate at Twin Rivers.

If intense competition equals fun, then this year’s Preliminary Challenge is going to be off-the-charts fun for riders and fans, as the field is already stacked with top contenders. Bec Braitling has three horses entered, including fast-rising star Dassett Ricochet. Tamie Smith and many-time Woodside wonder James Alliston are among the pros also angling for the top prize and valuable mileage for their younger horses.

Meg Pelligrini has to be a favorite in the rider division. She’s arriving from Southern California with two rides: RF Eloquence, her partner in two recent CCI2* wins, and her superstar Connemara/Thoroughbred, Ganymede.

Nearly 50 combinations are entered to take on the Preliminary Challenge. Click here to view the entry list. Stay tuned for full coverage of Woodside throughout the weekend. Go Eventing.

Woodside Links: Website, Entry Status, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage

Preliminary Challenge Past Winners

Year Horse Champion Rider Champion
2018 Staccato (Jordan Linstedt) Krista Stevenson (Caison)
2017 Santana II (Bec Braitling) Mallory Hogan (Clarissa Purissima)
2016 Thomascourt Cooley (James Alliston) Delaney Vaden (RedRox Jazzman)
2015 Chatwin (Frankie Thieriot Stutes) Tristen Hooks (Learning To Fly)
2014 Henry (David Adamo) JoAnna Saunders (Ansel Adams)
2013 Che Landscape (Matthew Brown) Kiera Carter (Corinthoz)
2012 Uphoria (Frankie Thieriot) Julie Flettner (Ping Pong)
2011 Roxabelle (Erin Kellerhouse) Zachary Brandt (Cavallino Cocktail)
2010 C.S.I. (Tamie Smith) Kelly Loria (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds)
2009 Jude’s Law (Beth Temkin) Lindsay Connors (Ballingowan Pizazz)

 

Emilee Libby Is ‘Not the Bridesmaid’ at Galway CCI4*-S; Tamie Smith Takes CCI3*-S Win

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Emilee Libby very much wanted to protect the Galway Downs International Horse Trials CCI4*-S lead in what would be her biggest win with Jakobi, and two major distractions didn’t stand in their way.

First, Emilee noticed runners-up Tamie Smith and Wembley circle late on their course as she approached the startbox. Once underway, the loudspeaker announced that Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin had parted company after a slip on the grass between jumps. “It was actually more nerve wracking,” said the 31-year-old Emilee. “I was worried whether she was OK.” (Frankie and Chatwin are both fine.)

 Jakobi, however, gave her no additional distractions as they sailed around Jay Hambly’s track. The 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ustinov x Expression, by Coriano), owned by the rider and Linda Libby, is a powerful athlete whose energy in Saturday’s clear show jumping round had given Emilee pause as to whether she could manage it on cross country. “He was with me on course, my half halts were working and he was moving off my leg,” she reported.

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

With her training business based at Galway Downs, she is careful to keep cross-country schooling to a minimum so that Jakobi is freshly impressed with the obstacles in competition. A new bit arrangement is working well at this level, too. “I’m usually not a fan of gag bits, but he is going really well in a simple rope cavesson with a gag,” she said. “I think he prefers the poll pressure and he was listening really well through the whole track.”

As a junior, Emilee was something of a child prodigy: first 1* at 14, first 2* at 16, first Kentucky 4* at 19, plus three North American Young Riders Championship appearances. She credits coach Buck Davidson for much of her success and is grateful to work with USET chef d’equipe Erik Duvander this week at Galway toward her hopes of more team competition. “The whole team aspect is a lot of fun for me,” she said.

And, after several red ribbons in major competitions: “I’m finally not the bridesmaid!”

James Alliston and Pandora. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

James Alliston and Pandora. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

It’s possible that Pandora’s petite size made it easier for James Alliston to navigate the sharp right turn he opted for after the BarnMaster #4ABC combination, which took them through some low hanging branches. “That was a bit stupid!” James said, describing the smooth rest of the course as “a testament to the mare’s confidence and bravery.”

The gamble contributed to crossing through the flags four seconds under the 6:30 time limit to finish second on a 38.6. That pleased both James and Pandora’s many fans. “Everywhere we go, people call out ‘Good luck Pandora!’ It’s kind of cool.” James and the 9-year-old palomino Swedish Warmblood (Prostor x Camellia E, by Comefast), owned by Laura Boyer, finished 2nd.

Sabrina Glaser and Rembrandt. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Sabrina Glaser and Rembrandt. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

“James told me not to make that turn,” laughed third-place finisher Sabrina Glaser, who travelled from British Columbia with five horses and several students to gain much-appreciated international mileage. Having had a high fault show jumping round Saturday, she was surprised to learn of her third-place finish with Rembrandt after Sunday’s cross country.

“I saw Jimmy (Alliston) do it and we had some time to make up, so I had to make some tough decisions,” she said. “I pulled on the right rein and kept my head down.” It wasn’t their smoothest outing, Sabrina acknowledged, but not bad at all considering it was only their second time running after four months riding in an indoor ring though Canada’s winter.

Mallory Hogan and Clarissa Purisima. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Young rider Mallory Hogan and Clarissa Purisima had some time penalties but moved up to fourth in her first CCI4*-S adventure. Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 slipped to fifth after a refusal, while dressage leader Frankie and Chatwin had a slip mid-course and parted company. Along with a refusal that Tamie Smith attributed to inattentiveness, on her part and Wembley’s, she jumped the wrong first fence and was eliminated after completing the whole course.

“Otherwise, he jumped all of the hard parts great,” Tamie said. “It’s kind of the smack in the head we needed before Badminton Horse Trials,” which awaits the powerhouse pair in early May.

The CCI4*-S awarded ribbons through sixth place, with the winner receiving $1000 in prize money; $500 and $50 gift certificates from Devoucoux and Ride On Video, respectively; three photographs from Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography and one bottle of APF Pro. Second place received a $750 prize and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate; third earned $600 in prize money and Flair Equine Nasal Strip; and fourth, a $450 prize. Fifth and sixth finishers received $200 and $100 respectively. All ribbon winners earned coveted Galway Downs swag: wine glasses, beer steins, caps, etc.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Madison Tempkin and Dr. Hart earned a pillar to post victory in the Advanced horse trials.

Madison Tempkin and Dr. Hart. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

            Tamie Smith and Mai Baum Take the CCI3*-S

As predicted, Tamie and Mai Baum’s 21.9 dressage score remained unbeatable, and a new star in her big string, Danito, stayed in second, both having clear cross country rounds. Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve did the same to stay in the third spot.

“I knew I probably had 10 seconds in hand,” said Tamie of her calm demeanor heading out of on course on the 13-year-old German Sport Horse (Loredano x Ramira, by Rike) owned by Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell. “He covers the ground really well and I knew if I just kept it smooth, we’d be fine. Actually, with all my horses, when things are going right, if you’re smooth, you’re also fast.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

With six horses starting the CCI3*-S, plus Wembley in the 4*, and a full stable of Next Level Eventing students to coach with partner Heather Morris, Tamie had a busy weekend. Gatorade and a regular fitness routine powered her through. “I typically ride 10 horses a day and go to the gym five or six days, so I’m in pretty good shape for this,” she said.

Tamie Smith and Danito. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tamie Smith and Danito. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Danito, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Dancier x Wie Musik, by Wolkenstein II) owned by Ruth Bley, has finished on his dressage score almost every outing since Tamie got the ride last July. “He’s greener than Lexus (Mai Baum), but he’s going to give him a run for his money,” Tamie said.

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve. Photo by Sherry Stewart. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Erin Kellerhouse was thrilled with this latest chapter in Woodford Reserve’s progress. She’s had the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tinaranas Inspector x Laharns Laughton, by Laughton’s Flight) since the end of his 4-year-old year and said “he’s been a pleasure to bring along at every step.” They were clean and well under the time on cross country to stay on their 27.3 dressage score for third.

Tamie and Fleeceworks Royal, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman-ISF x Marisol) owned by Judy McSwain, finished 4th.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

CCI3*-S awarded ribbons to 12th, with the top prize of $1,000, $500 and $50 gift certificates from Voltaire Design and Ride On Video; three photographs from Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography; and one bottle of APF Pro. The runner-up received $750 in prize money and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate. Third place received a $600 prize and a Flair Equine Nasal Strip; fourth earned $450; and fifth, $200.  Plus, all were gifted Galway Downs branded goodies.

Meg Pellegrini and RF Eloquence. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

            Meg Pellegrini Makes It a CCI2*-S Victory

Excess excitement led to RF Eloquence not getting through the starting gate until several seconds after the clock started ticking. Yet 15-year-old Meg Pellegrini didn’t get frazzled even with the lead at stake.

“It was important to me that he was confident and happy, so if he hadn’t wanted to get in the box any longer, I would have stopped worrying about the time,” she said. The seasoned campaigner, a 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Contender x D-Ginger, by Grundyman xx) owned by Margaret Pellegrini, got right down to business after that and Meg was thrilled with their trip. Even a lost shoe somewhere mid-course went unnoticed by horse or rider until someone retrieved it later.

Photo by Sherry Stewart.

James Alliston earned another red ribbon with Cassio’s Picasso, a 7-year-old Paint Trakehner who is attracting attention for his athletic abilities and his good looks. “He’s moves and jumps really well and has a really nice temperament – all the bits,” along with two foals on the way and growing interest in his breeding services.

Lilly Linder and Tucker Too. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Lilly Linder and Tucker Too stayed in the third spot they’d held after show jumping, and Meg and her longtime partner Ganymede finished in the fourth seed they attained after dressage.

Meg Pellegrini with the Devoucoux team. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

The CCI2*-S awarded ribbons to 12th, with the winner receiving a Devoucoux saddle, plus $1,000 in prize money, a $50 Ride On Video gift certificate, three photographs from Marcus Green Outdoor Photography and one bottle of APF Pro. The runner-up earned a $750 prize and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate. Third received a $600 prize and Flair Equine Nasal Strip; fourth, $450; fifth, $200; and $100 for sixth through eighth finishers. These winners went home with Galway Downs swag, too.

            High Praise for Galway Downs

Just as riders regularly thanked Galway’s all-important volunteers and wished their fellow competitors good luck, exhibitors consistency praised the Galway Downs organizers and the venue itself for staging a high quality event. Whether preparing for the Land Rover Kentucky in April or a graduation from the Beginner Novice ranks, riders echoed comments like those of Canadian CCI4*-S competitor Sabrina Glaser: “They are doing an incredible job!”

Overall entries were up significantly over last year’s event, with Californians competing with top contenders from throughout the Northwest and Arizona. Especially strong turn-outs in the CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S divisions are positive trends for the West Coast eventing scene and signal a strong 2019 for the region.

            The Galway Downs International Horse Trials’ high quality of competition is made possible by generous sponsors. They are:

            Presenting Sponsors: Equine Insurance, Devoucoux, CWD, California Horse Trader and the USEA

            Gold: Sunsprite Warmbloods

            Silver: Temecula Creek Inn, Smartpak

            Bronze & Friend: AHTF-Horse Trials Foundation, Auburn Lab (APF), Geranium, Ride On Video, Voltaire, Symons Ambulance Service, San Dieguito Equine.

            The Preliminary Challenge Up Next

Kellerhouse’s Del Mar Eventing crew now focuses on The Preliminary Challenge Preview, at Galway Downs May 10-12, followed by The Preliminary Challenge and the Woodside Spring Event, set for May 24-26 at the Woodside Horse Park in Northern California. (Entries open April 9.)

The Preview at Galway Downs offers $2,500 in prize money for both the Training and Preliminary divisions, with a Sunday finalé round and brunch honoring Mother’s Day. Two weekends later in Woodside, The Preliminary Challenge offers $15,000 in prize money in both the horse and rider divisions and the final rounds are contested during a reverse-order stadium jumping round in front of a packed house of Saturday Evening Gala guests at the Woodside Horse Park. Both iterations of The Preliminary Challenge draw top pairs to this stepping stone to international level competition.

For more information on the Galway Downs International Horse Trials, visit www.galwaydowns.net. For more information on The Preliminary Challenge and the Woodside Spring Event, visit www.woodsideeventing.com. For media credentials for both, contact press officer Kim F Miller at [email protected] or 949 293 1555.

Amazing photos compliments of Sherry Stewart.

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Smart Spring Cleaning Tips for Improved Stable Air Quality

This article is provided by Haygain.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Wednesday March 20 brings the slightly longer days heralded by the Spring Equinox and spring itself. With it comes the urge to purge, clean and de-clutter. Barns big and small benefit from an at-least annual application of serious broom, vacuum, elbow grease and re-organization. Horses benefit from it most of all, not to mention their human keepers. Easier breathing for both awaits after this task is done.

Clean air is critical to horse’s health, happiness and performance, but it’s challenging to maintain it in the equine environment. Especially so in the many parts of the country where this year’s unusually cold winter has kept horses indoors more than normal. Along with warmth, shut barn doors seal in respiratory risks found in even top-quality hay and bedding. Air pollutants have nowhere to go but round and round and into the horse’s airway and lungs.

Those nagging coughs and running noses that elude diagnosis? Poor air quality is likely the cause. There’s increasing scientific evidence proving the shocking prevalence of Inflammatory Airway Disease in horses: over 80 percent of active sporthorses have it to some degree. Most recently, a study published in The Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine established a clear link between fungi in the airways and IAD incidence. Fungi is one of those microscopic, inhalable particles borne by hay and straw.

Eliminating straw and providing horses high-temperature steamed hay were the strongest environment-related recommendations from the study’s authors when it comes to reducing fungi-related respiratory problems. Beyond that, there are many simple ways to clean up barn air and greatly reduce respiratory risks.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Start at the Top

Things will get worse before they get better. The first step toward clean stable air is the messy process of shaking loose dust and dirt from rafters, corners and behind and underneath piles of hay, trunks, doors, equipment, etc. Horses should be nowhere near this endeavor. Pick a day when you can turn horses out or keep them somewhere else, well away from the stable. Mind your own respiratory health, too. Consider a surgical mask or tie a bandana over your nose and mouth to keep out the big particles.

It’s a good day to wear clothes you mind getting very dirty, perhaps ruined.

Use a broom and ladder to rid the rafters of spider webs and nests. Nesting birds might seem harmless guests, but they’re also disease carriers. Plus, the straw, mud, bits and bobs used to construct their nests add to air quality challenges. Gently relocate the nest somewhere far from the barn, handling it with gloves for your own safety and to prevent your human scent from scaring away the inhabitant.

Spider webs, dust, lint and fibers are also nasty fire threats: another reason to sayonara them from the stable.

Work your way down each stall wall, looking for loose nails and baseboards, splintered wood and other dangers. Plan ahead to strip stall bedding near the end of its life cycle. Haul out loose stall mats and powerwash them outside, ideally with a disinfectant, and let them air dry completely. Examine the floor for depressions that are or could become places for urine to accumulate, with the unhealthy ammonia odors that come with that. The floor underneath waterers and stall mat seams are common wet spots. Let them dry out completely, using a fan to accelerate the process if the base is hard packed enough not to fly loose and add more dust to the air. Then level the surface by filling the holes with an absorbent base material.

Dry depressions in the floor often result from the horse pawing excessively. That could be a symptom for something as simple as boredom or as serious as anxiety, stress or physical discomfort. Monitor that behavior and ask a veterinarian about it.

Check the hardware on stall doors, feeders, waterers, etc., to ensure no sharp spurs have emerged. Test that sliding doors are running smoothly in their tracks. Moving into the barn aisle, haul tack boxes and other equipment away from the wall to remove the dirt and debris behind them. Empty trunks and storage cabinets and do a brutal round of “keep, toss or donate?” before checking that “keeper” items are in good shape. If so, clean them and return them. Do the same in the tack room and grooming area. It’s a great time to examine all saddle, bridle and other tack parts for signs of unusual wear or threat of breakage, followed by another round of “keep, toss or donate?”

Stand back and examine the big picture of each barn aisle, tack room and grooming area. Is there a “place for everything and everything in its place?” Blankets, bandages, grooming supplies? If not, consider what combination of shelving, cabinets and storage bins are needed to achieve that.

Photo courtesy of Haygain.

Keep It Clean

Getting the barn clean is one thing and keeping it that way is another. Happily, many challenges can be mitigated by proactive barn management, especially your approach to two of the biggest culprits in poor air quality: shavings and hay.

Stall conditions are ground zero for air quality. Daily removal of manure and soiled bedding is the obvious starting point, but thinking beyond that to what’s underneath that bedding is a key to long-term clean air.

The aforementioned Inflammatory Airway Disease study described wood shavings as much better than straw bedding, but “more is better” does not apply to shavings when it comes to clean stable air. People see a nice, cushy surface to support their horse’s sweet dreams, but the horse’s lungs see an onslaught of respiratory irritants that come with that deep bedding.

Padded and sealed flooring systems like those pioneered by ComfortStall® are an ideal way to reduce bedding requirements to only that needed to absorb urine. They provide plenty of cushion without compromising air quality. And, preventing urine from seeping below the flooring, as happens with individual mats, also prevents the build-up of urea and bacteria that leads to ammonia, a major airway irritant. While upfront installation costs are nothing to sneeze at, they are quickly recouped (usually in less than a year) by decreases in stall maintenance, bedding and disposal expenses. Best of all, horses and their humans breathe easier.

Absorbent base materials like D&G are better options than dirt-only flooring, and rubber stall mats are helpful except where gaps exist between them.

Moving on to hay, even the highest quality, most expensive varieties arrive with fungi, spores, bacteria and allergens that compromise equine respiratory health – and yours, too.

Checking hay before buying it, or on arrival, for discolorations or odors that indicate mold is an obvious first step. Next is storing it in a well ventilated, rodent-free area, separate from where the horses live. Bales should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture accumulation: wooden shipping pallets are handy for this.

Buying large quantities of hay often secures the best per-bale price. Balance that with the prospect of having to store hay so long that its dust, allergen and irritant content increases. Local climate and the bales’ original moisture content are the main variables that affect how long hay can safely be stored.

Steaming is the best way to rid hay of its respiratory risks. By injecting high volume steam, at temperatures exceeding 212°Fahrenheit, thermal hay steaming chests made by Haygain reduce breathable particles up to 99 percent. The process also kills mold, bacteria, fungal spores and mites that are IAD triggers.

Ventilation is a horsekeeper’s best friend in maintaining clean air in the stable. Capitalize on it by making dust, debris and cobweb removal a regular part of the barn maintenance routine, minimizing its quantity in circulating air. Horses thrive in temperatures colder than what humans generally prefer. Forty-five to 75 degrees is a comfortable range for most, so keep barn doors and windows open even if you need to bundle up yourself.

Commit to returning equipment, supplies and tools to those storage solutions determined back in the cleaning phase. Just as in riding and training horses, doing the basics right applies equally to keeping the barn clean and horses breathing easy.

Reprinting and posting encouraged and photos available on request. Haygain is committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health issues. With offices in England and the USA, Haygain distributes products for healthier horses to 19 countries, including its Haygain ® Hay Steamers, ComfortStall ® Flooring System, and Flexineb Nebulizer. Visit www.haygain.us for more information.

Can Steamed Hay Be a Game-Changer for Your Horse?

Liz Halliday-Sharp’s five-star partner Deniro Z eats steamed hay to prevent a recurrence of ulcers.

Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) affects huge numbers of horses and often goes undetected while impacting their performance. A three-year research study recently published by The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine expands extensive past research confirming IAD’s prevalence. Conducted by a group of equine sports medicine veterinarians in Belgium, this new research studied over 700 active sport horses referred for performance issues or possible respiratory problems; 88% were diagnosed with IAD.

Three event riders in the top 10 of the USEA’s 2018 rankings consider Haygain steamed hay a stable staple, at home and on the road: #2-ranked Caroline Martin, #7-ranked Tamie Smith; and #10-ranked Liz Halliday-Sharp. Interestingly, none of them started using a Haygain steamer for its main benefit and the reason for which it was developed: protecting the equine respiratory system.

Caroline turned to steamed hay four years ago to treat an Advanced horse struggling with a heart condition attributed to a bacterial infection. For Liz, steamed hay was recommended by her vet to help prevent a recurrence of ulcers diagnosed in her five-star partner Deniro Z last fall. Tamie found it to help famously finicky eater and five-star competitor, Wembley, eat enough to maintain optimal weight.

Haygain’s bonus benefits are many, but steamed hay’s core purpose is the protection of the horse’s vulnerable respiratory tract. As conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum become better understood, more professionals are following Caroline, Liz and Tamie’s lead in making steamed hay a must in their programs.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) identifies respiratory function as the “main constraining factor to maximal work level in the fit, sound horse.” The new research from the Belgian equine sports medicine veterinarians is one of 15 studies to confirm steamed hay’s effectiveness in ridding hay of breathable particles. The study confirms the connection between fungi and IAD, the most common condition on the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

The study also cited Haygain steamed hay as critical to preventing IAD: horses fed steamed hay were 65% less likely to develop the condition than those fed dry hay. Led by Dr. Julie Dauvillier, the study is the first to connect fungi in the horse’s respiratory system with high incidence of IAD. Along with many inhalable irritants, fungi are present in even the best quality hay. High temperature hay steaming kills fungi, hence its effectiveness in preventing IAD.

“This paper highlights a major piece of the puzzle of equine airway diseases: the role of fungi,” explains Dr. Van Erck-Westergren, co-author of the study. “In human medicine, fungi are known to cause many respiratory inflammatory conditions such as allergies, infection, asthma, etc.

“In equine veterinary medicine, we can find publications that relate the role of fungi in pretty nasty, potentially life-threatening diseases such as fungal pneumonia or guttural pouch mycosis, but barely anything else. Our paper shows for the first time that ubiquitous molds, including fungi, cause chronic lower airway inflammation which is deleterious for the health and performance of our horses.”

Along with dry hay, straw bedding also had a high correlation to IAD incidence. Dry hay and straw bedding “cannot be recommended in performance horses,” Dr. Van Erck-Westergren states.

The study also found that soaking hay, haylage and “dust free” hay did not reduce the risk of fungi-related IAD, while wood shavings were deemed the best option for stalls that require bedding.

Fungi Found Everywhere

“Fungal spores naturally contaminate hay and straw during harvest,” the study explains. “The degree of contamination and proliferation is directly related to harvesting practices, initial levels of soil contamination, as well as storage conditions.”

Of the 731 active performance horses in the study, 79% were found to have fungal elements in a cytological examination of tracheal wash fluid. Horses with fungi in their airways were twice as likely to develop IAD than those without it.

How do you know if your horse has IAD? It sometimes presents with an occasional cough and mild nasal discharge, but often lurks without symptoms. Unexplained decreases in performance are complaints that often lead to bronchoaveolar and trachea washes that reveal an IAD diagnosis. Unmanaged, this condition will progress and potentially mean these horses are more susceptible to debilitating extremes of the Equine Asthma Spectrum, including Recurrent Airway Obstruction, or heaves.

While the study answers questions about prevalence and dangers of fungi, it raises others that warrant further investigation, especially for active sport horses. “A link between fungal growth and an immunodepressive state could not be demonstrated in our study,” the authors noted. “However, it is likely that the immune system of some of the horses included in our study would have been challenged by intensive training, regular transport and competition.”

Finding fungi in so many horses’ respiratory tracts caused the authors to question the “use of corticosteroids as a unique treatment of airway inflammation” because they depress the immune system, which actually fights the fungal infection. They noted that anti-fungal treatment is included in prescriptions for human allergic diseases involving a fungal component, like severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Environmental Solutions

“Environmental management is the only way to protect your horse against fungi,” explained Dr. Van Erck-Westergren in a follow-up interview. “Fungi are everywhere: in the straw, in the hay and in the stall and storage areas. Their aim is to proliferate.

“There is now overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness of Haygain steamed hay in reducing IAD and helping to improve respiratory health in horses,” she continued. Regular stall disinfection, dust-free shavings and a sealed flooring system that requires minimal bedding, like ComfortStall, were additional recommendations for keeping fungi at bay, preventing IAD and maintaining the overall respiratory health.

To read the complete study, “Fungi in Respiratory Samples of Horses with Inflammatory Airway Disease,” click here.

For more information on Haygain USA, visit www.haygain.us

Alliston, Babbitt and Braitling Take Top Spots at Galway Downs International

CCI2* winners James Alliston & Pandora. Photo by Kim F. Miller.

Galway Downs concluded its 2018 international equestrian competition schedule with a grand finale event this weekend. We catch up with James Alliston, Charlotte Babbitt and Bec Braitling, who emerged as CCI2*, CCI1* and Training Three-Day victors.

CCI2* 

Competing at Galway Downs, a venue whose motto is “a legend reborn,” James Alliston is a living legend in no need of rebirth. The Northern California-based Brit logged yet another international win with his victory in the CCI2* aboard the Palomino Swedish Warmblood mare Pandora. Already dubbed “the little legend,” the diminutive mare with a big jump and a tall rider was one of few to sail clear over Mark Donovan’s show jumping track. In doing so, the pair improved from the second-place standing they’d maintained since dressage.

Winning on their dressage score of 34.6, James was optimistic about the next phases. “She was really good on cross country. Even when I didn’t give her the best approach to the big ditch and rails on the hill, she’s so brave that she just shuffled in a little step and popped over it.” He was equally confident for stadium jumping: “She’s naturally very careful, fast and, touch wood, she normally jumps clear rounds.”

Pandora’s owner, Laura Boyer, was James’ first client when he got settled in California. He rode Pandora’s sire, initially rode the mare when she was 3 and then resumed the ride a few years ago. At Galway he also picked up the Best 7-Year-Old honors for her. This was James’ sixth CCI1* victory, which adds to at least “a couple” of three-star victories over the years, he estimated.

Generous prizes awaited the veteran victor: $1,500 in prize money, a Galway Downs plaque, a Professional’s Choice cooler; a Devoucoux saddle, a $500 CWD voucher; a bottle of APF; certificates from Ride On Video and Event Training Online; and a bag of Triple Crown Feed.

The crowd hushed Mallory Hogan and her partner of four years, Clarissa Purisima, to the first clear show jumping round of the division. With two months competing on the East Coast under their belt, they were well prepared to take advantage of what Mallory described as “an atmosphere that really lights her up.” Along with Saturday’s long cross country track, “I really tried to channel all that into her show jumping.” She also earned the Mia Erickson Memorial Trophy

Mallory’s two-time NAYC Area VI teammate Maddy Temkin had the lead going into show jumping. A single rail dropped Maddy and Mr. Hart to third, but still a happy outcome for the two high school seniors who’ve been stars of the West Coast circuit for many years and represent bright hopes for the sport’s future.

CCI1* winners Charlotte Babbitt & 2 A.M. Photo by Kim F. Miller.

CCI1*

The ever-smiling 17-year-old Charlotte Babbitt had a triple crown weekend with her 6-year-old 2 A.M. She was tied for first after dressage and was one of few to master a show jumping track that only eight of 49 managed to clear without faults. Charlotte won the CCI1* on her dressage score of 25. She also earned top Young Rider honors and 2 A.M. earned Best 6-Year-Old designation.

 “It’s really special to have this kind of partnership, especially when he’s only 6 and I’m only 17,” said Charlotte, who rode with a big smile from wire to wire. “I can’t help but smile. He’s very fun to ride, he wants to please and he has the attitude that there’s nothing he’d rather be doing. On Saturday’s cross country, we were fast but I never once kicked him. He just went along like a hunter.”

With Galway becoming a back-to-back win after her recent Woodside CIC1* victory, Charlotte and 2 A.M. seem on track for next year’s goal: making the Area VI NAYC team.

Charlotte trains with Chocolate Horse Farm and has a lot of loot to haul home to Northern California’s Petaluma: $1,000 in prize money, a Galway Downs Plaque, a Professional’s Choice cooler; a $500 CWD voucher; a bottle of APF; certifications from Ride On Video and Event Training Online; and a bag of Triple Crown Feed.

Professional Shannon Lilley’s partnership with Fernhill Rising is only a few months old. She was thrilled with their red-ribbon finish and has high hopes with the talented horse. Located by her coach Dana Lynd-Pugh, the mare is a “horse for the future,” said Shannon.

The FEI rider rep for the Galway Downs International, Shannon had highest praise for organizer Robert Kellerhouse and his entire team. “The guys did a tremendous job on the cross country footing and the new warm-up ring and stadium jumping rings, and footing, are great.” Those and other upgrades “really make it a special atmosphere. It’s very good for the West Coast.”

Crammed with colorful fences, the new jumping arena was also a little intimidating, Shannon noted. “It’s busy in there! There was a lot to look at, so many jumps and it was a little distracting to horses and riders. You had to really go forward and keep straight and hold out in the lines to make sure you stayed on the right step.”

Nick Cwick and Get Played were another pair to benefit big time by clearing the show jumping track. They moved from eighth to third by doing so.

Training Three-Day winners Rebecca Braitling & Dassett Ricoche. Photo by Kim F. Miller.

Training Three-Day

Professional Bec Braitling, 15-year-old Jordan Crabo and amateur rider Cecily Bonadio finished where they started after Friday’s dressage: first, second and third.

Representing Australia, Bec is delighted to have Dassett Ricochet in her stable, period, blue ribbons or no. “We found him in England last summer while shopping for another client. When they brought him out, he was so pretty I secretly thought, ‘Gee, I hope he turns out to be a bit green for her.’” That’s how it turned out, but not too green for the veteran competitor, for whom client Lauren Burnell purchased the Dutch Warmblood.

Having contested many long formats at the upper levels, Bec advocates it strongly for students and young horses, especially those like Ricochet. “The steeplechase was a really good way for him to get going. He started Phase A puffed up and was quite overwhelmed seeing all the other horses out there, but steeplechase settled him down.”

For junior and amateur riders, Bec said T3D “makes you a better rider. I encourage all my riders to do it because there’s so much to think about. There’s a lot involved. It’s not like you just warm-up and do cross country. Everyone who has the opportunity to do one should.”

Bec left loaded down with prizes: a Galway Downs plaque; a Professional’s Choice cooler, a $500 CWD voucher; a bottle of APF; certificates from Ride On Video and Event Training Online; and a bag of Triple Crown Feed.

Third generation horsewoman Jordan Crabo of Arizona said on Friday that her German Riding Pony Black Gold could be tricky. Second after dressage, she tackled Saturday’s cross-country “as if we’d already had a few stops.” As a result, they had zero penalties to log their first completion in this division. Jordan felt it helped that she’s been riding two horses at CCI1*, including her mom Barb Crabo’s former 3* horse Over Easy. She also spent two months this past summer as a working student for top British eventer Pippa Funnell, benefitting from lots of fresh knowledge going into Sunday’s strong finish. And Black Gold did his part. “He was awesome!”

Small animal veterinarian Cecily Bonadio was already over-the-moon after dressage, and even more so to finish on that score for third place with her remarkably savvy 6-year-old, Just Off Broadway. Cecily explained her approach to show jumping as similar to that on Saturday’s fault-free cross country round: “We’ve been working on rhythm, I just try to stay out of her way, let her know where to go, and let her do what she does so well.”

The amateur rider is another fan of the T3D format. “I loved doing steeplechase on the racetrack. I learned how fast she is: very!” She also loved the technicality of the combinations on Phase D. All in all, a great preparation for the pair’s goal next year: Preliminary.

The fact that Sunday was Cecily’s birthday was icing on the cake: a carrot cake, apparently, as Cecily’s parents waited at the backgate with a full bag of carrots for the mare and big smiles for their daughter.

[Alliston, Babbitt & Braitling Rock Galway Downs International]

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On WEG, Goals and Giving Back: A Conversation with Andrew Hoy

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos at WEG. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

When pressed, Andrew Hoy will concede he’s a bit of a rock star in his native Australia. Visiting home a week after finishing individual fourth and leading the Aussie eventing team to a 2020 Olympic-qualifying sixth place, Andrew enjoyed fan encounters with flight attendants, taxi drivers and passersby on the street.

“It’s not something I’ve gone out to develop,” says the seven-time Olympic and World Equestrian Games eventer whose accolades include an Order of Australia from Queen Elizabeth and inclusion in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. “But this thing that I enjoy doing — riding horses — has taken me onto a world stage and into the living rooms of so many people.”

No fame at the barn, however. “Not one of my horses has any idea what I’ve done in my life or who I am,” says Andrew of the equine attitude at Somerby Stables in Leicestershire, England. “They don’t read the newspapers or follow the Internet. They don’t even know I’m responsible for their health. They think that’s the grooms. All they know is the way I work with them. This is what I love about working with horses – they will always treat me exactly like I treat them. And I aspire this to be a partnership of trust, care and mutual respect.”

Over a 40-year international career, bracketed by the 1978 World Championships at 19 and — so far — the 2018 WEG in Tryon at 59, Andrew’s methodology has led to five Olympic medals, three of them gold, and four World Championships medals.

How his way with horses has evolved was one of several topics covered in Kim Miller’s wide-ranging chat with Andrew shortly after the WEG.

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos at WEG. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kim: You had two horses on the Australian team’s WEG long list: Basmati (Grafenstolz x Suchard) and Vassily de Lassos (Jaguar Mail x Jalienny). What was it that tipped the selectors’ scales toward Vassily?

Andrew:  I believe both horses are equally talented and that it was Vassily’s results sheet that made them feel he was the stronger of the two. Of which, at this point in time, I fully agree with – Vassily is currently a little more advanced in his education. But they are both only 9 years of age, so very much at the beginning of their international career.

Andrew Hoy and Basmati at the 2018 WEG Test Event. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kim: Basmati and Vassily are two of several strong horses in your string now. Where are you in terms of quantity and quality of horses, compared to other points in your career?

Andrew: I’m competing a total of 10 horses, and I feel they are all absolutely very good. I would describe this as the nicest lot of young horses I’ve ever had. That’s a big statement because I’ve had a lot of very nice horses in my time, with wonderful people owning them and supporting me.

Kim: What has put you into this nice position now?

Andrew: Well, with a bit of age, I’d say I’m riding better: I’m riding well. My wife Stefanie has helped me enormously in the selection of horses. I’d say we have a good formula for looking at horses at this point. We ask ourselves, what it is that makes the horse so special? Is it just the rider or just the horse? We look at the breeding.

It’s never something we do alone. Beyond Stefanie and me, it’s our team at home, our service providers, everything from the feed and supplements, the tack, the bits, the physiotherapists, etc. It’s really a culmination of all these things coming together after being in the industry for some time. I’m very much just wanting to work at the pointy end of the sport, and for that, you need to start with young horses and develop them all the way throughout their careers to create a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

Kim:  What’s your secret in finding young horses?

Andrew: I don’t think there are any secrets! I may look at horses a little differently than others in that I always go in with the purpose of saying, “How can I make this work?” rather than looking for reasons not to buy the horse.

 

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos at WEG. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kim: Owners David and Paula Evans bought Vassily for you in May of 2017, when he was going two-star with top French rider Thomas Carlile. What was it you saw in him that you wanted to work with?

Andrew: Well, he was an exception! I’d heard of him about 18 months before I first saw him. I called Thomas asking if he had any nice horses for sale. He told me about this chestnut about to go two-star. He said he was a nice, straightforward horse, but that he always had to have a pony with him and that he was a stall weaver. I told Thomas, “I don’t need this! Life is difficult enough without that.”

Then I went to look at him about 12 months later. As he was coming out of the stables, I wasn’t convinced I would like this horse. When I sat on him, I thought, “Thomas does a great job with this horse, but he doesn’t feel so special to me.” Then I went back to the hotel and kept looking at his results sheets and those were very special.

The next morning, I decided I needed to think outside of the box. Part of me said “no,” and another said, “This is a special horse — I have to do this” and I went with that. It certainly helped that my stable vet, who I have got a close working relationship with, felt confident that the way I manage horses, we could find a way to work things out.

Kim: At what point were you sure you’d made the right decision?

Andrew: After show jumping at the WEG!

Kim: How does that experience with Vassily represent your approach to horses?

Andrew: Throughout my career, I’ve never been a rider to have a great, big string of horses on my team. What I really enjoy is working with each horse and getting to know their personality. Sitting on them myself, rather than having someone else do it for me, doing a lot of work from the ground and different forms of cross-training, which we have to do for fitness anyway. That way, I know their personality and I know what each horse finds difficult or easy. What I’m looking for when we are in competition is harmony, and that’s how we get it.

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos at WEG. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kim: Vassily’s nickname is “Mr. Speedy Gonzales” and he sailed over cross country and show jumping in Tryon. So, is it dressage that he finds difficult?

Andrew: I would not say it’s a difficulty for him. It’s a matter of creating muscle memory for it and that takes time working him through things to get to a consistent way of going.

His WEG dressage test was the most accurate and consistent test he’d ever performed. Before that, his test at Aachen in June was the best. So he’s a work in progress and a horse that actually rises to the occasion at every show. The bigger the show, the more calm and relaxed he is and the more we work as one.

I’m actually that way, too.

Kim: Were you always that way, or has it come with experience?

Andrew: Very early in my career, I would put it down to having no knowledge — to not knowing any better. In 1978, I was this 19-year-old kid who’d grown up farming in Australia and happened to have a great pony. All of a sudden I ended up on the team for the World Three-Day Championships (at the then-new Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky) at the last moment.

Kim: I’m sure the story is a little more than that!

Andrew: I grew up on my family’s farm, where we breed cattle and farm arable land. Along with chasing kangaroos riding bareback, I did Pony Club and Camp Drafting, which is a big sport in Australia. It’s like the American sport of cutting horses, working with a horse and cow. I was actually a Junior Australian Champion in that. Through Pony Club, I did normal English riding, and some eventing. At 15, my parents bought Davey, who was bred for racing, trained for ranch work and became my partner in two Olympic Games, two World Championships and a Burghley title.

On the way home from the World Championships in 1978, I stopped in the UK, where my horse was supposed to go through quarantine – and I ended up staying there for two years at Gatcombe Park, working with the Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips. Between 1980 and 1993 I was back in Australia, mostly farming and also riding my horses – travelling every two years to Olympic Games or World Championships from my Australian home base.

In 1993, at 34 and after our first Olympic Gold Medal in Barcelona, I decided to do the horses as a profession and I moved back to the United Kingdom.

Kim: Looking back, do you feel you could have been successful had you stayed in Australia as a professional rider?

Andrew: You can be successful from Australia, or any country, if you have talent, ability, a good feel for the horse and if you are prepared to work hard. But if you want to be world #1, you need to be in Europe – this is where the hub of our sport is. It’s the same for Americans.

Kim: Is it harder to get support and sponsorships when you are not based in your own country?

Andrew: Yes, but if you want to be good at anything, it is just incredibly hard work, no matter what industry you are in. Young people must not be under any illusions. The higher you go, the further you can fall. You have to work incredibly hard if you want to keep a good career.

Kim: Does that point need extra emphasis in our sport these days?

Andrew: I’ve worked with a lot of people throughout my career and one thing I notice is that I feel many young people nowadays don’t realize the hours that most successful people put in. It always looks easy and it never is.

Everything in society is very instant these days. When I was a kid, if I wanted to obtain something, I had to work and have cash in hand to buy it, for example. Today there are credit cards. I think the older generation learned to be patient, to work for things and, with horses, to develop and stick with a program and a system, whereas today there’s a lack of patience. For me, after the 1978 World Championships and spending the two years in the UK, it wasn’t until the end of that time that I felt I was starting to ride with some feeling and make progress.

Kim: How does your experience come into play in the team context?

Andrew: I’m very happy to talk with any of the riders and, when asked, offer advice about what I do, the way I go about things and formulas that I have. I have nothing to hide and I want to work with all of the riders because they all contribute to the team success.

Kim: Any epiphanies that have come with your 59 years?

Andrew: When you start as a rider, you first think, how good is the horse? Then, you think maybe I have to ride well. For me, the more I’ve stayed in the sport, the more top trainers I have worked with, the more I realize the importance of good riding — 90% of issues are created by the rider, not by the horse.

I have also realized the importance of other aspects that are involved around the management of the horse – whether it is daily routines, feeding, tack, physiotherapy, veterinary – it all has a huge impact on the horses’ wellbeing and therefore performance

Kim: What are some of the more unique aspects of your horse management?

Andrew: In the last year, I’ve started working with a South African company, Bombers Bits, that makes tailored bits based on a mold of each horse’s mouth. The fact that no horse has the same mouth is something I never thought of before and I find it fascinating.

The saddlery I use, Fairfax Saddles, incorporates a lot of biomechanical testing, for horse and riders, and that’s another subject I’m incredibly interested in. I feel at times there is not enough scientific evidence used in horse care and welfare and these are products that use science to produce good results.

Steamed hay is a core of our horses’ diet. I saw Haygain’s steamed hay units in the company’s earliest stages and was immensely impressed. Having grown up working on my family’s farm, it made immediate sense to me. I recognized the importance to respiratory health of taking the bacteria and dust out of the hay and having it as natural as one can have it. We normally travel with our steamer and we were grateful to have the company make one available during the WEG.

Andrew and Stefanie with their daughter, Philippa. Photo by Matthew Roberts.

Kim: You and Stefanie became parents with the birth of Philippa Isabel 13 months ago. How has fatherhood affected you?

Andrew: I did not realize the joy that comes with it. Stefanie and I so often comment on how lucky we are to have a healthy little girl. It’s a joy for us and it’s important for us to make a good life for her. We can’t determine where she finishes, but we can teach her values and respect and give her opportunities.

Kim: Can you tell if she has the horse genes yet at 13 months?

Andrew: She came to the WEG with us with her Australian t-shirt and little flag and enjoyed it. By being around horses, I think she will learn to work with animals if she decides to. But if not, it’s fine by me. We’ll support her whatever she does.

Kim: Does Stefanie ride?

Andrew: She’s very much a social rider. If it’s a bright sunny weekend, she’ll say I’d like to ride. She has her own communications business, HMC Horse Marketing Consulting with equestrian and mainstream corporate clients including Mercedes Benz and Hermès. She’s incredibly busy.       

 

Andrew and Philippa at WEG. Photo courtesy of hoyteam.com.

Kim: Your remarkable string of international accomplishments gets a lot of attention. How close an eye do you keep on the running tallies?

Andrew: I could probably go through the Olympic accomplishments and work out the tally. But one year, after winning Badminton, a great friend congratulated me and said, “Be careful not to celebrate today’s performance too much because you’ll miss tomorrow’s performance.”

My dad was very progressive in that he was always working forward. He taught me that it’s always important to be aware of your performance — to analyze it, and find what you can improve on, then go forward, not dwell on it or look backwards. It’s always about the next performance.

Kim: Do you plan for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as your next international performance?

Andrew: It’s very much in my sights with Vassily, Basmati and some of my other horses. So I just want to establish good performances. It seems like it’s a long way off, but it’s not that far away.

Kim: You are active in two charities, Right To Play and The Wobbleberries, and your home stable, Somerby Stables, hosted a riding for the disabled program for many years. I gather that giving back is a priority.

Andrew: For any successful business person or athlete, we can get so tied up in what we are doing that we don’t appreciate our immediate surroundings and circumstances. It’s very good to work with charities, especially such good ones. They are wonderful organizations through which we’ve met wonderful people.

Kim: With all that you’ve accomplished, what remains on your lifetime goal sheet?

Andrew: The goal is what I’ve always strived for: riding my horse as well as I possibly can and achieving harmony. What inspires me the most is just working with the horse, learning from them every day, creating a partnership and develop day by day.

Kim: Thank you Andrew! We look forward to many more years watching you and your horses at the top level.

Andrew: Thank you. My dad, Jim, and my mother, Dorothy, are 94 and 91 respectively. I just left visiting them and my dad is still farming a lot of cattle and very aware of everything that’s going on. We were visiting to celebrate the life of an aunt who passed at 101. So, I hope I have their genes!

Article presented by Haygain USA. Haygain is committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and other equine health issues. With offices in the USA and England, Haygain manufactures and distributes products for healthier horses to 19 countries, including its Haygain® Hay Steamers, ComfortStall® Flooring System, ForagerTM Slow Feeder and Flexineb Nebulizer. Visit www.haygain.us for more information.

9 Questions with Canadian WEG Team Member Selena O’Hanlon

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

Mac and cheese might not seem a very glamorous way to celebrate a third selection for Canada’s World Equestrian Games team, but it fits Selena O’Hanlon just fine. It’s her mother Morag’s specialty meal, and it was a big hit with the 30-plus friends who gathered for an impromptu celebration at the family’s Ontario, Canada farm shortly after Selena’s win of the Bromont CIC3* in mid-August.

Bromont was the final selection trial for the WEG team and, Equestrian Canada officially announced the squad on Saturday, Sept. 1. Selena and Foxwood High were named to the team and are on top form following the win at Bromont, plus a top 25 finish at Badminton CCI4* in the spring and winning the Fair Hill International CCI3* last fall.

We caught up with Selena on the eve of the official WEG team announcement and two weeks before eventing competition is set to begin on Sept. 13 at the Tyron International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Kim: What have you and Woody been doing since the Bromont win?

Selena: “After Bromont, we went home for a while. He had a few days off, then some hacking, light work and a gallop the Saturday afterwards. Then we came down to my longtime coach Bruce Davidson’s place in Pennsylvania for lessons.”

Kim: Tell us about your relationship with Bruce, a many-time U.S. Olympic eventing medalist.

Selena: “He is a good friend of my family. My mom trained with him when she was going out for the Barcelona Olympics, and they are good friends. I’ve been lucky enough to ride with him since I was 7 or 8. When I decided not to go to university and instead try riding for the team, my mom said, ‘You are going to go work for Bruce for a couple of months to see if this is what you want to do.’ Ever since, he’s come to our place for clinics or, now, I ship to him for lessons.”

Kim: What happens in this week’s training camp with Canadian technical advisor David O’Connor?

Selena: “We work the horses in lessons with David. The only kind of bummer about training camp is that we all only have one horse. We’re all used to working a lot harder than that during the day, so we find extracurricular activities. In the past, we’ve gone tubing, boating, and done other team building activities. It’s a chance for those who haven’t been on the team before to learn David’s language a little and for all of us to get to know each other better and actually have a little bit of down time.”

Super groom Anne-Marie Duarte and Foxwood High at Badminton. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Kim: Does Woody’s care routine change at all in these final weeks before WEG?

Selena: “No. I try to keep everything exactly the same. He’s been in bubble wrap for a few months now and I’m handling him myself during this whole time. It’s amazing how one horse can take up your whole day!”

Kim: “Tell us about Woody.”

Selena: “He turned 15 in May and is very big and tall. He measures 17.1 hands, and looks a little taller because he holds his head high. He’s very mellow: a gentle giant and everybody loves him. He recognizes he’s very tall and if a shorter person is handling him, he’ll put his head down to make it easier to get the halter on. I had the chance to fly with him to Badminton, and even in that small, kind of stressful space on the plane, he took it all in stride.”

“He has a huge stride. It looks like he’s going really slowly, but he’s not.”

Kim: Do you have any unusual expectations for the Tyron course?

Selena: “People are talking about a big hill at the end of the course, and I recall it as a fairly hilly course from running it at The Fork two years ago. I also remember quite a lot of bridges, which might slow some horses down. I’m glad it’s a full course because that’s the phase in which Woody excels.”

Kim: “When do you move into the WEG venue, and are there things you do to get Woody comfortable there right away?”

Selena: “We move in on September 9. Woody will get a lot of hand grazing. He is normally pretty laid back, but at Badminton he got really excited when he heard the whistles and other activities going on with a grass roots competition near the dressage arena. My wonderful groom Anne Marie Duarte spent a lot of time hand grazing him in the area, and that really calmed him down.

“Being a big horse, he doesn’t have the strongest back, so grazing and a little lunging are the best ways to get him comfortable before schooling.”

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

Kim: Woody has used a Haygain hay steamer at competitions. How has that helped him? 

Selena: “He had it before Badminton, when we were at Mark Todd’s place. Mark feeds haylage or steamed hay. I started Woody on the haylage, but didn’t feel like he was eating it enough. He seemed to eat the steamed hay better so he had that for the three weeks before the competition and I think he likes it.

“Over time, we’ve had a few horses with allergies and Haygain steamed hay has made a big difference. We’ve seen a lot less coughing.

“We got to know everybody at Haygain in England before the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France. The Haygain guys lent me a van to drive the team around in. We have the half-bale steamer and two portable steamers to take to shows.”

Kim: How are the World Equestrian Games different from the Olympics?

Selena: “Not for me as a competitor, but it is nice having more disciplines, there is more to watch. I really enjoyed it in 2010 when reining was involved. I got to watch that, driving and the beginning of the endurance. The WEG has all the disciplines going on in the same place, unlike the Olympics. I really loved meeting some of the people that I followed my whole life, the stars and idols of our sport, along with meeting and cheering on top Canadians in other disciplines. We don’t get to see each other very often because we are so spread out. It’s really interesting because we are all horse people and we get to see how we do things a little differently. It’s a great experience.

“Also, the opening ceremonies are something you normally miss out on in the Olympics. Usually at the WEG, we get to be part of the ceremonies, carrying our flag along with all the other athletes.”

Best of luck to Selena and Woody at WEG!

For more information on Haygain USA, visit www.haygain.us. Haygain is committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and other health issues. With offices in the USA and England, Haygain distributes products for healthier horses to 19 countries, including its Haygain® Hay Steamers, ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System, ForagerTM Slow Feeder and Flexineb® Portable Equine Nebulizer. Visit www.haygain.us for more information.