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A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

We’ve heard a lot about mental health lately and in light of a couple of people I greatly admire going public with their story, I felt I could do no less.

My story doesn’t have a lot of angst or long-term mental struggles. I’m not a horse professional who has to constantly worry about making ends meet, managing the ups and downs of running my own business, walking the fine line with owners, or living and dying by the success of my horses.

I’ve got my own burdens of course, but I specifically chose to take the amateur path to avoid the aforementioned pressures, and thus far have been happy with my choice. I’ve been well aware that burdens like these could lead to a lot of heartache and questioning and mental wear and tear. I’ve admired people who have chosen to tackle these hardships head on and have always thought that those who sought help with their mental burden were smart, not weak.

I never realized that I too might benefit by seeking help.

Up until 2019, I felt like a pretty optimistic person and certainly didn’t consider myself a candidate for depression, or anxiety, or anything of that nature. I had a bit of a short temper and low threshold for frustration and thought it might be a problem eventually, but I thought I just needed to learn some self control.

Overall my life was going pretty well; happily married to a wonderful man, both of us had good jobs and I really liked my employer. My young horse was finally starting to roll through the levels, my older horse was thoroughly happy being retired in a field for the time being and really things were pretty peachy. I had no reason to suspect that I might benefit from any kind of mental therapy.

Then last winter turned into a pressure cooker. In December of 2018, I signed up for the biggest professional exam of my life, an eight-hour test held in April that I’d need to fly to my home state for. It was a big deal and I knew I’d have to put some serious studying in over the winter.

Just before Christmas, I took a look at my workload projections and realized I had been put on a few too many projects at once. Even though I could see the train wreck coming, I couldn’t change it. By February I was hip deep in every project and couldn’t extract myself. My employers threw as much help at me as they could, enough to get the projects done, but I was putting in a lot of overtime. I’d go home late every night and force myself to study while the weekends were entirely spent trying to catch up on what I’d fallen behind on that week, either studying or work. I knew the help I had been given was struggling and needed more supervision and support but I couldn’t give it, which was leading to multiple mistakes going out for submission. I felt like a failure at work and a failure at studying.

It was a lot, and suddenly my frustration was on display every day instead of just once in a while. I tried to hold it in, which just put me more on edge and I ended up totally overwhelmed and fighting back tears on a daily basis.

Meanwhile the deadlines loomed, both for work and the test. I was three weeks out to the exam, multi-tasking like crazy, and feeling like I didn’t have anything under control. My back somehow got tweaked and every morning I woke up the pain was worse. But I couldn’t stop to go to the doctor, I had too much on my plate.

Then my retired horse, who took me through Advanced and was my horse of a lifetime, picked up something neurological. It took only 10 days but despite veterinary intervention, I had to euthanize him. At noon on a Wednesday, I stood in the breakroom at work, crying brokenly into the phone as I made the call. I was three states away and I’d never see him again.

I went home sick that afternoon and did nothing. I sat on the couch and cried on and off. I didn’t make an effort to study or work. I just did nothing.

I was 10 days away from my exam. I’d invested an incredible amount of time and money into taking and passing this exam. I couldn’t pull out … I couldn’t get distracted. I knew I’d need some help to get through it.

In the end, an anti-anxiety medication was the solution. I no longer felt that agonizing grief wrapping around my spine, sitting hard in my gut. I still cried if I let myself think about my horse but I could easily direct my thoughts elsewhere.

And surprisingly, my temper and frustration vanished.

I got through my test and through my back pain. My younger horse came back from Aiken which helped me cope with my grief. My deadlines passed which eased my workload. Things returned to normal, and yet I stayed on the medication because I felt a huge difference.

I didn’t have a short fuse … I had anxiety, which manifested itself in a rising temper. Suddenly I was able to shrug when things unexpectedly came up at work and look for ways to mitigate the damage instead of just angrily saying it couldn’t be done. Suddenly I was able to just ask my trainer what to try next when something I was doing wasn’t working, instead of being frustrated at an animal who was doing his best to understand how I wanted him to respond to my cues.

It’s been almost a year since I started receiving some chemical aid. My brain needed to be re-wired and a new pathway had to be formed. For the first six months, I noticed a big difference the next day if I forgot to take my prescription at night. Recently, I have noticed that at work I don’t have the same gut check reaction of anger if something unexpected happens, even if I have forgotten to take my prescription. I suspect the pathways are starting to reform.

I’ve been surprised at how others have reacted when I shared my news. I’ve been pretty forthcoming about it with people close to me. A few people, usually older, have reacted tentatively, making me think they don’t entirely understand or approve. However, most have simply responded like it makes sense to them. Several have actually shared their own story of how they have received some help too.

I don’t see shame in the fact that a little chemical help made a big difference in my health; in my view it’s no different than taking a daily medication to help with heart disease, or diabetes, or any other chronic condition in the human body. I’ve made an effort to be matter of fact and open about receiving help, although I’ll admit that I had a bit of a pause when I thought about writing this, letting myself open for judgement from any stranger.

But being open about it helps reduce the stigma and if I can do my part to help make mental health less of a taboo subject, I will.

As awful as last winter was, I could have just struggled through the rough patch and returned to the previous status quo and that is probably exactly what I would have done had the issue not been forced. If my horse hadn’t passed when he did, 10 days before my exam, I would have tried to cope. And I wouldn’t be as happy today as I am.

Talk about your experiences with your friends, with your family. In all likelihood you’ll hear some stories that surprise you. And we can all reassure each other that we don’t see seeking help to be a weakness, but rather the smart thing to do.

Wednesday News & Notes

Photo by Cecily Brown.

In the winter, I send my horse south. It sucks to not see him every day and sucks to not ride but it’s also nice to have a break. My trainer kindly sends me cute photos and mini-updates and it rather makes me think that this must be what it’s like to send a kid off to summer camp.

National Holiday: National Bagel Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Grand Oaks H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Stable View H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

If you do nothing else today, check out the Chronicle’s feature on mental health. Eventing’s own Matt Brown is heavily featured, revealing the mental road he has traveled down. Other equestrian stars like Steffen Peters chime in as well; mental health is as equally important as anything else we do and there’s no shame in seeking help. [COTH]

Lauren Sprieser is also ready to talk about her own mental health. Being a horse professional is no easy task…well who am I kidding, sometimes just being an adult is no easy task. When the bad things keep coming, it’s ok to seek a little help to keep your head above water. [Winter Isn’t About Pottering Around]

The beloved Pavarotti is featured this week. Known in the barn as Rotti Boy, Pavarotti has a pint-sized best friend, a gray pony mare named CowDog purchased for $40 at a local auction. [Behind the Stall Door]

Wednesday Social Media:

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Eventing Analytics: The Math of Moving Up, West Coast Edition

Last week, I introduced you to the data behind the decision to move up to Advanced. Originally I had planned to condense both coasts into one article but the reality was that the West Coast deserves to be more than just a footnote in this series. Some information will be re-hashed here at the beginning, so if you’re only interested in the meat of the conversation, skip down to where I profile the West Coast shows.

After five years of data collection for North American events, I’m finally seeing enough data to provide a deeper dive into the decision-making process in a sport where safety is paramount. What I ultimately found may or not be of use to you; at the very least, it will leave you informed, one way or another.

What Factors Should I Consider in a Move-Up?

Moving up is often a big question mark for a pair, particularly for riders trying their mettle at a new level. You’ve practiced at home but until you actually are out riding the course, you can’t know for sure that your skill level can handle the competition level. Once you have that first one under your belt, you can have some confidence leaving the start box that if you’ve tackled it once you can tackle it again. But the first time is a bit like jumping out of a plane, hoping that your parachute opens like you’ve practiced on the ground.

To that end, the most important factor in choosing a move-up is picking a course that is safe. Horse falls are obviously the most dangerous scenario, but rider falls should be avoided as well. Riders should first and foremost pick shows where ideally the fall rates of horses and riders are below average.

The second factor riders should look at is Non-Completion Rate. Shows whose Non-Completion Rate are high often equate to high rider and horse fall rates. And of course, the old adage holds true: better always to complete with a number than a letter.

Less important, but still pertinent, is the Refusal Rate, minorly discounted because above all, both rider and horse must come home safely in their first attempt at the level. But of course a clear round is the ultimate goal of the sport, so we take a look at this as well.

Using these four factors, I’ve created what I refer to as the Show Profile (SP). This consists of the following percentages: Horse Fall Rate, Rider Fall Rate, Non-Completion Rate, and Refusal Rate.

It’s also a good idea to see where each show ranks with other shows in the same region for each of the four components of the Show Profile. The following chart shows which percentages are good to look for in each category.

The final thing to look at is the comparison of the Show Profile of all pairs who have started cross-country at the event to the Show Profile of riders who have made their first A/4*-S start at the same event. Additionally helpful is the comparison of the Show Profile of all pairs who have started to the Show Profile of horses who made their first A/4*-S start at the event but under experienced riders. Experienced riders are, in this case, defined as riders who have at least one start at the level on another horse. In the future, this may be broken down further by categories of riders.

Therefore, the SP will be broken down in this column primarily to the following: Overall Show Profile (SP-O) and First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR). First Time Horse/Experienced Rider Show Profile (SP-1xH/ExR) and Second Time Rider (SP-2xR) may also make an appearance when data is insufficient with the first two profiles to make a judgement.

Finally, this column makes no differentiation between an Advanced horse trials and a CCI4*-S competition; the rules allow either to be attempted first, and a CCI4*-S is simply the internationally recognized level of Advanced. Therefore, these levels are considered equitable to one another.

Where Do Others Typically Move Up?

This column will focus primarily on rider move-ups, without taking into account the previous experience of the horse they are mounted on. A future column may be dedicated to addressing move-ups for horses under riders who have previously run Advanced or 4*-S.

From 2015 to 2019, 156 North American-based riders attempted their first Advanced or 4*-S. Of those, 117 riders moved up at East Coast events, while 39 of them made their first attempt at West Coast events. This column addresses each region separately, as ultimately the distance between them is large enough to keep riders generally concentrated in one region or the other.

WEST COAST POPULAR MOVE-UPS

Despite representing only 13.2% of cross-country starts in North America, 25.0% of first-time riders take their first crack at A/4*-S at a West Coast event. This over-representation of first-time riders on the West Coast deserves a further look, but one thing is certain: the West Coast is a popular destination for moving up.

From 2015 to 2019, 90% of the 39 riders chose to move up at one of four events: Aspen Farms, Copper Meadows, Twin Rivers, and Woodside. Each of these venues offers multiple opportunities each year to compete at the top level, except for Aspen Farms. Let’s address each one individually.

ASPEN FARMS

Aspen Farms Horse Trials. Photo by Chesna Klimek.

Aspen Farms, whose Advanced runs only in September of each year, is a prime competition venue for the remotely located Area VII. Perhaps because of the remote location, it is the second most popular move-up on the West Coast despite seeing the second-lowest number of cross-country starters. In fact, 34.4% of their cross-country starters over the last decade have been first-timers, a drastically higher proportion than any other show in North America.

Let’s look at their Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus their First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

Despite the popularity, riders thinking of moving up to the big A should really reconsider trying for it at Aspen based on these numbers. The first alarming number is the Horse Fall rate, which shows that 6.3% of the overall population of starters at Aspen have had a fall. That is the worst Horse Fall Rate in North America, trailed by Bromont (short format) at 3.8%. The overall Horse Fall Rate for North America sits at 1.9%, which means that you are 3.3 times more likely to have a horse fall at Aspen than the North American population. When you narrow it down even further, first-time riders are again 1.5 times more likely to have a horse fall at Aspen than the general population of Aspen competitors.

The Rider Fall Rate at Aspen sees a similar scenario, although perhaps a touch less drastically. Aspen again sees the highest Rider Fall Rate in North America, followed by Woodside at 8.4% and then Carolina at 6.4%. However, a first-time rider is 1.9 times more likely to fall at Aspen than the general competitor. These safety statistics alone should give riders considerable pause when considering a move-up.

The Non-Completion Rate and Refusal Rates also sit in the very high category for first-time competitors. All in all, the course at Aspen should primarily be undertaken by more experienced competitors.

COPPER MEADOWS

Welcome to Copper Meadows. Photo courtesy of Copper Meadows.

Copper Meadows offers Advanced/4*-S divisions at three events throughout the year, giving ample opportunity for West Coast riders to step up. Despite that, only four riders have chosen to use this event as a move-up, despite solid overall numbers for safety.

The following shows the Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus the First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR) for Copper Meadows.

One strong point in Copper Meadows’ favor is the fact that the Overall Horse Fall and Rider Fall Rates do not edge into the moderately or very high ranges. Copper Meadows is one of only two West Coast events to have both safety numbers fall in ranges of average or below, making it a more attractive spot for moving up safely.

Although the Non-Completion Rate for both overall population of Copper Meadows competitors and for first-timers hovers in the moderately high range, this is fairly typical for West Coast events, with only two of the standard venues having rates average or better. The fact that first time riders are actually less likely to have a stop should be encouraging as well.

TWIN RIVERS

Twin Rivers H.T. Photo by Captured Moment Photography.

This event by far has the most cross-country starters on the West Coast, with more than 50 more starts than their nearest competitor in Woodside, who had 95 starters in the last half decade. As such, it has also been the most popular location for move-ups in that time period.

Here’s a review of Twin Rivers’ Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus their First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

Perhaps the most concerning number here is that of the Horse Fall Rate. A first-timer at Twin Rivers is 5.7 times more likely to incur a horse fall than the overall population who competes here. The reward is also a bit elusive, with first-timers 1.4 times more likely to incur a refusal than the overall population, which already hits the moderately high range for refusals when compared to other shows. The bright spot is that Twin River has a low rate of Rider Falls, and no rider attempting their first has fallen here in the last five years.

Based on the Horse Fall numbers, riders should reconsider coming to Twin Rivers for a first crack at Advanced. Additionally, this venue will host a CCI4*-L for the first time this spring, so their courses are liable to be particularly up to standard in order to achieve the 4*-L requirements.

WOODSIDE

Rainbows over the Horse Park at Woodside. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Woodside follows Twin Rivers as the most popular West Coast event, with offerings twice per year. Seven riders have chosen to move up at this event in the last half-decade.

Let’s review the Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus the First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR) for Woodside.

Although the Horse Fall Rate for Woodside is average for a typical Woodside competitor and very low for a first-timer, the Rider Fall Rate holds significant concern. Woodside already holds the second-highest Rider Fall Rate in the country, behind only Aspen Farms and a first-timer is 1.7 times more likely to fall than the typical Woodside competitor. For first-timers who do finish, they are 1.4 times more likely to have a refusal.

The bright side for moving up at Woodside is that the Non-Completion Rate for first-timers at this event is lowest of all of the previous four events, meaning first-timers have a strong chance of completion. Still, the Rider Fall Rate should give first-timers something to consider when determining the best move-up.

Are There Other Places to Move Up?

Of course there are no restrictions as to which event you should enter to make your first try for a level; any Advanced or 4*-S is allowable per the rules. In 2015 to 2020, 10.2% (4 riders total) moved up at West Coast events other than the four mentioned above. However, no venue other than those saw more than one or two first-time riders, which means the data is difficult to read. In order to determine whether or not a venue is potentially a good move-up, I’ve taken addition Show Profiles into account: that of the first-time horse with experienced rider (SP-1xH/ExR) and that of the rider making their second start at Advanced (SP-2xR).

WEST COAST POSSIBILITIES

FRESNO COUNTY HORSE PARK

As early in the year as it is, the Advanced division at Fresno County tends to be sparsely populated. Started in 2016, the Fresno County Horse Park simply hasn’t had a chance to get sufficient data to determine if it is a move-up, and no one has yet used it as a move-up for a first-time Advanced horse or as their second try at the level.

Based on the overall numbers from the general competition population, Fresno may be a good venue for first-timers to have a go. No horses have yet fallen and the Non-Completion Rate is one of only two venues on the West Coast to sit in the moderately low range. The numbers for the two riders who have done this event as a first time indicate that Fresno might be a good possibility for a positive first run, and at minimum there are strong indications that it will be a safe first run.

GALWAY DOWNS

Galway Downs runs twice a year but only offers the A/4*-S divisions in the spring. Held in late March, this is often used as a prep event for Kentucky for those headed there from the West Coast, sometimes used as a move-up events for horses under experienced riders, and almost never utilized a move-up for first-time riders.

However, looking at the show profile it’s clear that while this might be a tough event, with green riders in particular having trouble running clear cross-country, it’s also a safe event. There are no horse or rider falls in the three looked-at categories, and the completion rate appears to be strong for the small population of riders who have tested the waters at Galway Downs. While it might not be the easiest to get a clean round, it should be considered as a good possibility with regards to safety.

Where Should I Move Up?

Only you can take all the factors and make an informed decision. Where will your coach be headed to and when will they have the opportunity to focus on you versus achieving their own goals? Which venues have you previously had success at … and more importantly, which venues have you struggled with? Are you the type who starts the year off sharply or do you need more competition time to get rolling? Do you have a high ability to stick on no matter what, or is the occasional fall a more common result of your mistakes?

Take this information and use it to make an educated decision, keeping safety in the forefront of your mind.

Wednesday News & Notes

Grays for days in Lauren Kieffer’s barn. Photo via Lauren Kieffer Eventing FB page.

I try not to go horse shopping with too many stipulations, but one of them is no grays. Like many people, I love the way they look but I simply don’t have the energy or time to get them clean enough to present in public. And if I don’t want one, I can’t imagine being in Lauren Kieffer’s barn and having to take care of her gaggle of grays!

National Holiday: National Take the Stairs Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Majestic Oaks H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Whether you spell it spell it Beach (FEI) or Beech (USEF), there’s no denying Sean is a star. Buck Davidson’s chestnut stalwart might be the laidback horse in the barn. As a result, Buck didn’t always believe in him but after years together he’s starting to come around. [Behind the Stall Door]

Coral Keen has a novel idea about winter improvement. Usually we try to focus on positive thinking, trying to make our visualizations become reality. Coral wants you to think about the activities that make you feel not so great; imagine the lead change or the left handed corner that makes you squirm. Now work on that this winter. [Winter Isn’t About Pottering Around]

So a horse walks into a bar … no, really. JB, a local hunt horse, got to hang out with a few patrons in a local bar as part of a tradition. He got the part based on his height, after last year’s Shetland pony was determined to be too short. [Festive Bar Tradition]

Wednesday Social Media:

Training Tip Tuesday: 🎉👩🏼‍🏫: ⁣⁣Break it down. Whatever you’re working on, take it down into little bites. For example,…

Posted by Lauren Sprieser on Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Eventing Analytics: The Math of Moving Up, East Coast Edition

It’s a new year, and with the advent of the new calendar gazes suddenly turn towards the possibilities of what a new season holds. Pencils are sharpened, horses are clipped, and suddenly the promise of a move-up seems more real than it did two weeks ago.

Where to move up is often a bit of an agonizing decision. Theoretically all events are up to the standard of their level, but let’s face it — there’s always that one event that everyone says is just a bigger version of the lower level. Word of mouth has been the traditional method for sniffing out these ‘move-up’ events, while move-up riders often steer away from so-called ‘stiff for the level’ events.

This year I got curious. A dear friend of mine is looking for the blue flag move-up and suddenly I found my data is useful on a personal level. Almost eight years ago, I made my own move-up to the blue flags, as blind as everyone else. That was two years prior to the inception of my work with Eventing Nation and the beginning of my data collection.

Today, I’m armed with five full years of data collection for North America and I wanted to give her the ability to make informed decisions. I’ve done a deep dive into the concept of moving up to Advanced, both for horses and riders, and found some interesting statistics. What I ultimately found may or not be of use to you; at the very least, it will leave you informed, one way or another.

What Factors Should I Consider in a Move-Up?

Moving up is often a big question mark for a pair, particularly for riders trying their mettle at a new level. You’ve practiced at home but until you actually are out riding the course, you can’t know for sure that your skill level can handle the competition level. Once you have that first one under your belt, you can have some confidence leaving the start box knowing that if you’ve tackled it once you can tackle it again. But the first time is a bit like jumping out of a plane, hoping that your parachute opens like you’ve practiced on the ground.

To that end, the most important factor in choosing a move-up is picking a course that is safe. Horse falls are obviously the most dangerous scenario, but rider falls should be avoided as well. Riders should ideally pick shows where the fall rates of horses and riders are below average.

The second factor riders should look at is the Non-Completion Rate. Shows whose Non-Completion Rate is high often also have high Rider and Horse Fall Rates. And of course, the old adage holds true: better  to complete with a number than a letter.

Less important but still pertinent is the Refusal Rate, minorly discounted because above all, both rider and horse must come home safely in their first attempt at the level. But of course a clear round is the ultimate goal of the sport, so we take a look at this as well.

Using these four factors, I’ve created what I refer to as the Show Profile (SP). This consists of the following percentages: Horse Fall Rate, Rider Fall Rate, Non-Completion Rate, and Refusal Rate.

It’s also a good idea to see where each show ranks with other shows, both overall and in the same region, for each of the four components of the Show Profile. The following chart shows how the percentages of each category fares world-wide.

The final thing to look at is the comparison of the Show Profile of all pairs who have started cross-country at the event to the Show Profile of riders who have made their first A/4*-S start at the same event. Additionally helpful is the comparison of the Show Profile of all pairs who have started to the Show Profile of horses who made their first A/4*-S start at the event but under experienced riders. Experienced riders are, in this case, defined as riders who have at least one start at the level on another horse. In the future, this may be broken down further by categories of riders.

Therefore, the SP will be  broken down in this column primarily to the following: Overall Show Profile (SP-O) and First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR). First Time Horse/Experienced Rider Show Profile (SP-1xH/ExR) and Second Time Rider (SP-2xR) may also make an appearance when data is insufficient with the first two profiles to make a judgement.

Finally, this column makes no differentiation between an Advanced horse trials and a CCI4*-S competition; the rules allow either to be attempted first, and a CCI4*-S is simply the internationally recognized level of Advanced. Therefore, these levels are considered equitable to one another.

Where Do Others Typically Move Up?

This column will focus primarily on rider move-ups, without taking into account the previous experience of the horse they are mounted on. A future column may be dedicated to addressing move-ups for horses under riders who have previously run Advanced or 4*-S.

From 2015 through 2019, 156 North American-based riders attempted their first Advanced or 4*-S. Of those, 117 riders moved up at East Coast events, while 39 of them made their first attempt at West Coast events. This column will address each region separately, as ultimately the distance between them is large enough to keep riders generally concentrated in one region or the other. The East Coast is the focus of today’s column, with West Coast to follow shortly.

EAST COAST POPULAR MOVE-UPS

On the East Coast, 82% of the 117 riders chose to move up at one of seven events: Chattahoochee Hills, Horse Park of New Jersey, Millbrook, Pine Top, Poplar Place, Richland Park, and Rocking Horse. Richland Park is now defunct and Poplar Place has reduced their offerings to Intermediate and below, so are no longer options for moving up. Horse Park of New Jersey took a hiatus from offering an Advanced level in 2019, but appears on the calendar again for 2020 with no obvious schedule conflicts from other events.

So riders are left with five primary options for moving up on the East Coast, comprising what I’ll refer to as the Big Five Move-Ups. Let’s address each one individually.

CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS

Chattahoochee Hills. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Between the semi-central location in North Georgia and opportunities to run Advanced/4*-S multiple times a year, Chattahoochee Hills has the largest number of total runs sampled in their Overall Show Profile, with 226 pairs making starts at the venue in 2015-2019. This venue has gone from running twice a year to four times a year in the last half decade, making it an attractive option to those who need more flexible timing for their move-up event.

Let’s look at their Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus their First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

As you can see, the risk is considerably higher in each category for a first time rider at Chattahoochee Hills versus the overall show population. A rider making their first attempt at Advanced at this venue is 5 times more likely to incur a horse fall, 2.5 times more likely to incur a rider fall, 2.1 times more likely to not complete the course, and 1.5 times more likely to have a refusal on course. In particular, the horse fall statistic is notable and should be taken seriously. With an already high Non-Completion Rate and Refusal Rate when compared to other East Coast venues, Chattahoochee Hills is best left for challenging the more experienced riders, while first-timers would be safer served turning their eyes elsewhere.

HORSE PARK OF NEW JERSEY

The water complex at the Horse Park of New Jersey, set for Jersey Fresh. Photo by Jenni Autry.

This event, offered once a year in late June and not to be mistaken for Jersey Fresh International, is an extremely popular choice for first-time riders; 23% of all starters here are riders trying the level for the first time. The timing may have something to do with it- held after all of the East Coast 5*/4*-L events are complete, coaches have time to concentrate on their students ready to move up. Meanwhile, riders have had a full spring and possibly even the winter as well to get all cylinders firing before contemplating the blue flags.

Here’s the Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus their First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

The Horse Park of New Jersey actually is a prime move-up target in all areas but one. Only one horse in 69 cross-country starts has fallen, and that horse was not ridden by a first-timer, so the risk of horse falls is much reduced at this event. Not only are the Non-Completion and Refusal Rates low, those of the first-timers is actually even reduced below that of the overall population, a positive oddity in the typical statistical profiles of the the Big Five Move-Ups. This actually moves HP of NJ into the moderately low and very low ranges of three of the four categories. The only caution for riders is that a first-timer is still 2.2 times more likely to have a rider fall than the general population at this show.

MILLBROOK

The Millbrook water complex. Photo by Kate Samuels.

This venue has always been an extremely popular move-up for riders who can travel to the remote Area I, and the timing of the event in early August has often provided a springboard to a first fall season. Despite it being reachable primarily by riders based in Area I, II, and Canada, it still has attracted a strong 209 Advanced starters over the last half-decade. Riders who target spring 3*-L events are often ready to get back out after a summer break and test their mettle at the next level.

Millbrook has the following Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

This comparison shows that Millbrook is ideal for move-ups in almost every way, especially when looking at safety factors. Millbrook’s overall population already has low Horse Fall and Rider Fall Rates compared to other venues; first-time riders have notably not had any falls at all at this venue in the last five years. The Non-Completion Rate of first-time riders is within 1% of the overall population, which indicates that the course is not significantly more difficult for those attempting the level for the first time than for those with more experience, the ideal scenario for a move-up. Despite having an equal chance of completing, the course does ride slightly more difficult for first-timers, while still remaining with a very low chance; they are 1.3 times more likely to incur a stop while completing than the typical Millbrook competitor.

PINE TOP

Pine Top. Photos by Leslie Threlkeld.

At last we reach the first of the winter season move-ups. Situated in North Georgia within a stone’s throw of Aiken, Pine Top is more popular for horse move-ups than rider move-ups. In fact, it boasts the lowest number of first-time riders of the Big Five Move-Ups, with only 11 making the attempt, despite the second highest number of starts (218) in the same half decade. That’s only 5% of the population, but some key safety statistics might see this number grow.

The following represents Pine Top’s Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).

The best case for moving up at Pine Top is that there have been zero horse falls, period, in the last half decade. They have this despite having the fourth highest number of cross-country starters of any venue, topped only by Chattahoochee Hills, Plantation Field, and Carolina. Pine Top also boasts a significantly low number of rider falls, with only 1.4% of riders falling from their mounts, none of them first-time riders. This show boasts the best safety ratings of any of the Big Five Move-Ups.

Pine Top also boasts the lowest Refusal Rate of any East Coast venue and the third-lowest Non-Completion Rate among all East Coast shows. A first-timer here doesn’t have the same advantages as a typical competitor though; the Non-Completion Rate for first-timers falls into the average range for the overall level, instead of the very low range for the more experienced riders.

ROCKING HORSE

Rocking Horse. Photo by Ivegotyourpicture.

The final of the Big Five Move-Ups is Rocking Horse, the location of my own move-up back in 2012. Located in central Florida, this is the first Advanced of the year on the East Coast, which means it ends up heavily targeted as a first Advanced for both horses and riders. Back in the day, we felt that the difficulty of this course was halfway between Intermediate and Advanced, but the numbers show a different story.

Below is Rocking Horse’s Overall Show Profile (SP-O) versus First Time Rider Show Profile (SP-1xR).


Rocking Horse has a moderately high Horse Fall Rate when compared to other shows, but the good news is that first-time riders appear to avoid falling into that category. Rider falls at Rocking Horse are average when compared to other shows, but first-timers at Rocking Horse are 1.6 times more likely to part from their horse than the overall population, moving them into the moderately high Rider Fall Rate. Rocking Horse is the most difficult of the Big Five Move-Ups for first-timers to complete clear, with more than half of first-timers incurring a refusal.

Are There Other Places to Move Up?

There are no restrictions as to which event you should enter to make your first try for a level; any Advanced or 4*-S is allowable per the rules. In 2015 to 2019, 17.1% (20 riders total) move up at East Coast events other than the seven mentioned above. However, no venue other than those seven saw more than four first-time riders, which means the data is difficult to read. In order to determine whether or not a venue is potentially a good move-up, I’ve taken addition Show Profiles into account: that of the first-time horse with experienced rider (SP-1xH/ExR) and that of the rider making their second start at Advanced (SP-2xR).

EAST COAST POSSIBILITIES

JERSEY FRESH

In the last five years, only one rider chose to make the move up at this high profile 4*-S, and not a single horse was moved up to the level here in that time frame. With limited numbers, it can be difficult to draw any sort of conclusion.

However, the various Show Profiles of Jersey Fresh surprisingly all indicate that this event in May is one of the safer venues at the A/4*-S levels. In a solid population size of 113 cross-country starters, not one horse has fallen. Additionally, the Non-Completion Rate is very low despite some rough weather during those years, the Refusal Rate is moderately low and the Rider Fall rate manages to maintain at an average level compared to other venues.

The Show Profile of second-time A/4*-S riders reinforces the idea that this might be a potentially good spot to move up. Six riders have made this venue their second stop at the level and six have completed, with only one rider incurring a refusal.

TRYON

Between The Fork and the Blue Ridge Horse Trials, held in April and September respectively, Tryon International Equestrian Center now offers two opportunities a year to test their course. Having only hosted The Fork since 2017, data continues to be limited but will grow in time. Only two riders have made their first start at this venue, both at Blue Ridge.

Based on the various Show Profiles, this venue is fairly easy for the more experienced horses and riders, but the course is a bit stiffer for less experienced pairs, either horse or rider. However, there have been no falls among green riders or horses thus far, either rider or horse. And Tryon itself has moderately low rates for both horse falls and riders falls.

Tryon may not be the easiest move up event, but a high safety rating makes it attractive as one of the safer options.

RED HILLS

This north Florida venue has had a fearsome reputation in the past, memories from the days of high-profile incidents more than a decade ago. The last five years of competition have shown that falls can still be an issue at this event, but pockets of success among certain profiles indicate that a careful run could be productive for a first-time rider.

The success rate of first time riders and first time horses is very good, with eleven pairs all completing between those two profiles and only two refusals between them. But second time riders surprisingly show considerable struggles, with three falls, a high Non-Completion Rate and even higher Refusal Rate. A further dive would be needed into why those second-time riders have such a difficult time with the venue, but Red Hills might potentially be a good place to move-up … if you are careful about it.

Where Should I Move Up?

Only you can take all the factors and make an informed decision. Where will your coach be headed to and when will they have the opportunity to focus on you versus achieving their own goals? Which venues have you previously had success at … and more importantly, which venues have you struggled with? Are you the type who starts the year off sharply or do you need more competition time to get rolling? Do you have a high ability to stick on no matter what, or is the occasional fall a more common result of your mistakes?

Take this information and use it to make an educated decision, keeping safety in the forefront of your mind.

 

Wednesday News & Notes

Beauty in New Mexico. Photo by Maggie Deatrick.

Beauty comes in unexpected places, and I’m finishing out 2019 by discovering this gem on my phone, from a trip to New Mexico that was in no way related to horses. Of course, the bride and all of the women in the bridal party were horsewomen, so of course we couldn’t keep ourselves from chatting about our favorite subject. But this is a pleasant reminder that even though our lives revolve around these amazing, incredible animals, there’s beauty all around and we should look for it wherever we go.

National Holiday: HAPPY NEW YEAR

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane 

Festive Stars: Bubby Upton 

The Most Read Stories of 2019

Wednesday Social Media:

Reviewing my #topnine it certainly wasn’t a year of “winning” for me. Rather, 2019 was a year of giving back,…

Posted by Laine Ashker Eventing and Dressage on Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Wednesday News & Notes

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Unique Festivus to all! ‘Tis the season to dress ourselves, our pets, and our kids in the most ridiculous festive gear imaginable and take cheesy photos. And I am here for it!

National Holiday: CHRISTMAS

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Pardon the brevity of today’s N&N, but I’m in charge of Christmas Dinner today and let’s be honest. No one is reading this today anyways!

Top 10 Tips for Fighting the Winter Blues with Carol Kozlowski 

A Ghost -and Gift- of Christmas Past

Equine Mary and Joseph Join Canine Angel Gabriel in Horsey Nativity 

Wednesday Social Media: 

C'était un peu Noël en avance ce week-end ! J'ai en effet pu monter mon fidèle Siniani et c'est mon plus beau cadeau de…

Posted by Thibault Fournier Eventing on Monday, December 23, 2019

Wednesday News & Notes

The first Intermediate entry of 2020.

One thing I absolutely love about this time of years is scoping out the entry lists that are popping up for the first events in January; while the first events of the year usually only run up through Prelim, it’s often a good spot to spy out horses who are returning to the scene after some time off. As of now, it looks like the formidable Veronica and fan-favorite Clip Clop will both be running at Majestic Oaks in the Prelim, after taking 2019 off from competition.

National Holiday: Maple Syrup Day

Your Wednesday News & Notes

With the holidays fast approaching, I’m sure everyone is spending lots of time decorating, cleaning and organizing their houses to welcome guests, and of course packing up the barns in preparation for the imminent migration south. If you’re like me, you find these activities go by a lot faster when you have something to listen to, so why not turn on a few of the videos made available from the USEA and listen in on some of the best topics at the USEA Convention? Here’s three of my favorite listens from this past weekend:

Why Aren’t U.S. Event Horses Lasting Longer? [Video]

The New FEI Dressage Tests Demystified.  [Video]

Practical Advice to Optimize Horse Training. [Video]

Wednesday Social Media: 

A Portrait of the 9 to 5 Amateur

It’s a Sunday in October. The high is 52 degrees and the forecast projects rain from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. I could be home on the couch, watching some hundred-odd horses Fair Hill show jump.

Instead I’m at Windurra, doing fitness work with my horse who is headed to Ocala Jockey Club in four weeks. I’ve hooked up my trailer, with the brand new truck I hadn’t budgeted for this year but suddenly had no choice about, in the rain. I’ve loaded my horse and hauled thirty minutes in the rain. And now I’m doing trots and gallops in the rain.

I’m the only one out here for a while, unsurprisingly. Eventually a pair of Windurra riders come along on a trot set, one of them calling me a ‘lone brave soldier.’

Indeed. 

The reality is that I’m out here because I have no flexibility in my riding schedule. The weather yesterday was beautiful and the weather tomorrow will be beautiful, but I need to do fitness today. This time of year, I’ve got to get the most of my weekend rides, so I can’t gallop on Saturday and give him Sunday off. I can’t gallop tomorrow because it’s Monday and I have to work. I can’t gallop at home because until today, the ground was hard as cement even after a deluge four days ago. It’s raining again today, but the rain hasn’t soaked in past the first inch of the ground, leaving a greasy layer with a firm base. I can’t even take him to the Aquatred because their hours are 9 to 5 on weekdays…and I work.

So here I am, spending most of my Sunday trailering to the track. In the rain.


It’s 4:30 in the morning as I stumble out of bed. Daylight Savings Time is over, which means it is dark by 5 p.m. We have no lights to ride under and our ring is a ten minute hack near the woods from the barn. My horse is spooky enough that a ride in the dark would be unproductive even if we got to the ring in one piece.

So it’s imperative that I be at the barn by 6 a.m. to ride. The sun rises at 6:30 a.m. so it’s the best I can do; otherwise I’d be here even earlier.

It’s cold, by the way. It’ll be much warmer in a few hours. But I have to ride now.

Even doing this, I’ll be late enough to work that I’ve had to hedge a little, but I can work late and make up the time. But since I’m still not arriving at work at a normal hour, it’s something I can only do twice this week … and thank goodness it’s only for one week.

I’m the last one at work that night; even the cleaning staff has gone for the day. Tomorrow will be the same.


It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m standing next to my trailer with an abundance of stuff surrounding me, staring at my phone. It might look like I’m procrastinating but I’m not; I’m referencing my packing list.

It’s the weekend before the horses leave for the event. My trainer will be taking my horse and all my gear down along with his; even though I have a truck and trailer, I can’t take the extra days off to trailer two days down to Florida and two days back. Instead I’m swallowing the extra expense of trailering, flights, and a rental car. It’s the only way I can go.

But it’s eight days away and I have to accomplish much of my packing now. There’s no light after work, so nothing will happen on the weekdays. I’ve spent considerable time putting together not only a list of what I need, but also listing the container into which each thing should be packed. Now I’m working on getting things sorted.

Four hours later, I have things organized. People often think I’m organized because I like organizing, and they are right, to an extent. But it’s also out of necessity. 

I’ve got five weekdays to track down items in my house, replace things I’ve used up, pack up the suitcase I need that will have my wardrobe for the entire event. I’m sending my suitcase down with the horse so I don’t have to pay for a checked bag on the flight, or wait for it after a long day. But I have to have it packed four days before I actually leave.

If I wait until next weekend to pack, it will be too late. Things will be missed because I can’t find them or don’t have a chance to get them from my house. And I won’t have the time to fix that.

It’s cold out here; next weekend should be warmer. But I have to pack now.


It’s 2 a.m. in Orlando as I’m checking into a hotel. It’s Tuesday night — well, Wednesday morning now. My flight landed at a quarter to one, nearly thirty minutes late and the mid-size car I’d reserved turned out to be a minivan that I really didn’t want to drive for five days. After waiting a quarter of an hour for an SUV to be available, and driving twenty minutes to a hotel well-priced for the six hours I expected to spend in it, I’m finally done for the night.

I’m checking into the hotel now because I had to reserve a flight that took off well after the workday ended. Jogs are tomorrow (today, now) at 1 p.m. which already means three days off from work. I didn’t have enough PTO days to take a fourth and arrive at a reasonable hour. 

I still have to shower before getting some sleep; I’ll spend a grand total of four hours in this bed before getting up to drive to Ocala. I need the sleep desperately … I worked all day. Originally I had planned to sleep on the plane, but a young child a few rows up from me was out of sorts between the excitement of heading to Disney and being up way past her bedtime. I can relate to her. I too am excited and also up way past my bedtime.

Tomorrow I need to be at Ocala Jockey Club by 8 a.m. My horse needs a bath, a leg stretch ride, and to be braided before the jogs. I’d wanted to dye his tail but hadn’t had the time. My stall isn’t set up beyond the basics, I have no idea how far the trailers are from the stabling, and I am absolutely going to need some coffee first thing.

The show still hasn’t announced order of draw, so even with 75 horses in my division, I could be jogging first at 1 p.m. for all I know. I have to plan with that in mind. 

So after four hours of sleep, I’m up again, heading north on I-75.


I’m sitting in front of a plate of fettuccine alfredo and red wine, dining by myself at the Romano’s Macaroni Grill in the Orlando airport. I’m a jumble of emotions and yet none of them are really getting through the exhaustion at this point.

I’ve spent two hours at the car rental counter dealing with the odd situation of a rental car that was dead since Wednesday, the day I rented it. I didn’t have time to deal with it until today, when I thought a jump start would get me on the way. It didn’t.

I left it sitting in the parking field at the venue after the tow truck promised by roadside assistance didn’t show. I’m not entirely sure I won’t have to fight paying for the whole car despite the customer service manager’s reassurances. I know it’s a major headache that I’ll have to deal with in the next few days.

On the other hand, I’ve finished my young horse in the top half of the field at a huge event. A horse I primarily made myself, and the second horse I’ve done this with. I’m pleased but also disappointed. I thought we would do better, but with my horse suffering a sudden loss of self-confidence in dressage and an overabundance of it on cross-country, top fifty percent was the best we could do on this occasion.

I’m trying to rebound a bit from the anticlimactic end of the show. I’m not sure what I was expecting after stadium, but I don’t think I was expecting nothing. I thought perhaps a completion ribbon, or maybe I had a shot at best conditioned horse, or even perhaps a Thoroughbred award. But not every long format has completion ribbons, TPR is no longer required to be taken in the vet box, and we were in too deep a hole after dressage to hope for a good result even in the Thoroughbred category.

My flight boards at 9:45 p.m. I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. for jogs. I could have easily taken an earlier flight but since I have to buy flights before the show schedule is published, I booked a late flight to be safe. 

Tomorrow I’ll be back to work, bright and early. I wonder how functional I’ll be.


It’s lunch time at work and I’m looking at the Omnibus for next year. I often have a tentative show plan mapped out a year or two in advance and I’m trying to modify it now based on what I learned of my horse at OJC.

The schedules for the shows aren’t up yet, so I’m referencing last year’s schedules to get an idea of what they will probably be. Most of the one days have similar schedules from year to year; the big destination shows can sometimes change things up.

It might be early to think about this but I’m trying to buy plane tickets for a vacation next spring and I need to know how many vacation days I can spare for an actual vacation. I’m limited to a certain number of paid time off days every year and since I’m on salary, there’s no taking unpaid days off. It’s not a thing we can do, not in my industry anyways.

So to figure out how long my vacation can be, I need to have a game plan for next year. And next year, things get tricky for me.

I am tentatively thinking that I’d like to move up to Intermediate sometime next year, but that poses an issue with one days. I like one days because I don’t need vacation time but Intermediate usually goes first thing on Saturday morning with no guarantee that there will be time enough to walk the jump courses between dressage and stadium. 

Intermediate is not something that I’d take casually; I prefer to walk those courses at least twice. So one days are suddenly not a great option for me at that level unless I can walk the course the night before. And unless they are very close by, it’s not terribly realistic for me to get there to walk on a Friday evening while dealing with traffic.

I used to think I would just get up earlier in the day to walk before dressage but I’ve learned that because I do everything myself at one days, it’s not the safest option to be sleep deprived. I drive to the barn, hook-up and drive the trailer, I tack and un-tack, stud and un-stud, groom and wash and ice. I trailer back to the barn, clean the trailer, unhook and clean tack. 

I worry about the lack of sleep combined with overheating for the summer temperatures impacting my reflexes or judgment either on cross-country or on the road. Someone younger might have the stamina to safely do all of that on five hours of sleep after a long week of working, but I am no longer as young as I was. 

So I’m targeting events that run their Intermediates and 3*-S over two days; of course Friday and Saturday usually, not Saturday and Sunday. That means a day off work for each show, at least.

I also have to cross my fingers and hope that these shows don’t change their schedules up after I enter. Sometimes entries get too numerous and events stretch their events to an extra day; other times the young riders get lumped in one division that goes Friday while I get placed with the other adults (mostly professionals) in a Thursday division. That causes problems, so I try to pick shows that are consistent from year to year.

I want to do two long formats next year, but unless I forgo a real vacation, it’s not in the cards. I’ve got to keep the days off to a minimum and long formats ask for too many. If I skip the vacation, my husband will be disappointed; I already missed his birthday to be at Ocala Jockey Club.

I may be a bit obsessive about planning, but it was born out of necessity. Otherwise, there’s no way I can manage to do the sport at the upper levels.


It’s finally the weekend again and I get to see my horse for the first time since I left him in his competition stall in Florida. I miss him dearly already but need to get used to it; in a few months he will leave for Aiken and I won’t see him again until April.

I’m glad to have a break. I was starting to feel run down and burnt out. 

I also feel guilty. I’m relieved for having a break from riding? Am I truly dedicated to this if I’m happy to not ride for a while? Shouldn’t I want to ride no matter the weather, the darkness or light, the icy cold or mounds of snow? Shouldn’t I want to try to keep my horse north and ride him instead of paying for others to ride him?

These thoughts have no basis in reality, I know. But they circle around in my mind anyways.

It will be four months before I swing my leg over a horse again. It’s tough to stop cold when things are going well. I’m finally sitting the trot really well, finally achieving some push from behind. My eye is on point when jumping and I feel as natural on this horse as I did on my last, for the first time since I’ve had him.

But I need a break and I’ll be better for it next spring. He’ll be better for it after a winter of working on some fundamentals with my trainer; he needs some brakes installed at fifth gear, a flying lead change, and to solidify that push from behind to start working on shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half-passes.

I need to cook some real meals, travel a little, maybe try some dancing lessons with my oft-neglected husband. I’ll try to put some extra time and effort in at work to advance my career. I’ll think about exercising and maybe even exercise.

I’ll be ready again next April.

Wednesday News & Notes

Cold, wet nose. Photo by Maggie Deatrick.

‘Tis the season to say screw it, not going to ride today. Welcome to not-quite-winter where we will look out the window and see snow or rain or both and realize that it’s ok to maybe have a couple weeks off to digest our turkey and potatoes lingering in our bellies.

National Holiday: Santa’s List Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Sporting Days Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Sooner or later, most horse people make a trip to the emergency room. It’s important to be financially prepared if at all possible, and one you can do that is with a Health Savings Account. This money not only earns interest but also is pre-tax money that can be utilized for everything from surgery to joint injections (the human kind!). [A PSA: Get an HSA]

Matthew Heath opens up about the mental hurdles he’s overcome and still works to keep ahead of. After the tremendous success of his early twenties dried up as he entered his thirties, Matthew struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. He eventually worked through it but is upfront about the mental costs that this sport can take. [I’d Lost My Love for the Sport]

I have a side hobby of checking out nearby farmettes for sale and rent. When the yards of various top eventers get profiled, I leap at the chance to take a peek at the facilities used to prep top level eventers. [Lucy Jackson’s New Yard]

Wednesday Social Media: 

Look what arrived in the post today 🤩#christmasarrivedearly

Posted by Lainey Ashker on Friday, November 29, 2019

Wednesday News & Notes

Six off the floor. Photo by Amanda Tamminga.

Ten years ago I did my first long format CCI with my first horse, who I lost earlier this year. It’s hard for me to believe that the last time I ran down an FEI jog strip was five years ago, at Fair Hill in 2014 with that fantastic beast of a horse. But this month, a decade after I brought my first horse to complete our first long format FEI, I did the same thing with my second horse.

National Holiday: National Tie One On Day (An apron, if you’re wondering.)

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Pine Top Thanksgiving H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

There’s a perpetual tug of war between barns and boarders. It can be difficult to entrust your friends (and most expensive piece of riding equipment!) to others who might not always make the choices you would, but make sure you don’t make their lives harder. They are making the decisions with the wellbeing of your horse in mind. [Avoid Becoming a PIA Boarder]

Every time I get my show photos back, I think about how I really need to improve my jump position. Try as I can, I can’t seem to open my hip angle or not make ridiculous faces. Georgie Strang has some tips to help achieve that ‘pro’ position. [8 Top Tips to Improve Position]

Just in time for Turkey Day, the USEF has updated the Training Lists. With two pairs listed on the Elite List and another fourteen pairs on the Pre-Elite List, there will be plenty of competition for teams in the next few years. Another eleven riders are slated for the Development Training List this winter. [USEF Updates Training Lists]

If you are aiming for the E25 program, make sure to submit your applications by this Friday, November 29th!

Wednesday Social Media: 

View this post on Instagram

#squidspeed Videography courtesy of @amandaofthefields

A post shared by Maggie Deatrick (@comediceventing) on

Wednesday News & Notes

Margaret Kitts and Melody Keys for the long one. Photo by April Williams.

Congratulations to April Williams, the winner of the SmartPak SmartStride Ultra ‘Long Spot’ Contest! We’ve all had that moment when we realized it was just a bit longer than we realized and yet our trusty steeds confidently tackle the distance and help us fly. Not a moment we want to replicate over and over but certainly an incredible feeling in the moment!

National Holiday: Universal Children’s Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Grand Oaks H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Southern Arizona H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

 

Your Wednesday News & Notes

The lifetime ban of George Morris has been upheld by the Center for Safe Sport. After days of testimony by both victims and George Morris along with witness in front of an independent arbitrator in New York, the Center has confirmed the lifetime ban. There is no appeal to this decision. [George Morris Permanently Barred]

If you’re a top hat aficionado, you’ve got 13 months left before you’ll need to retire it to your home study. The FEI has voted today to require all equestrian sports (excepting driving and vaulting) to wear helmets at all times while mounted aside from prize ceremonies. The rule will go into effect on January 1, 2021 to allow helmet manufacturers to respond to demand. [FEI to Require Helmets]

Lady Kingsley has supported the sport of eventing from the very beginning. After breeding the mare Aeolia whom her son piloted around Badminton twice in the seventies, Lady Kingsley set about creating a breeding dynasty. The final descendant of Aeolia is Tommy Tittle Mouse, a 10-year old gelding who competes at 3* with Jo Rimmer and Lady Kingsley makes sure to get out regularly to watch him compete. [A Wonderful Owner]

Wednesday Video: Brought to you by Joan Davis of Flatlands Foto, here’s a slideshow for the 2020 Area I Eventers Calendar — Anniversary Edition.

By the Numbers: Ocala Jockey Club CCI4*-L

Ocala Jockey Club is hosting a CCI4*-L division for the second year in a row and their faith in the division has grown with entries nearly triple of last year. In fact, the division is the second largest 4*-L field in North America for 2019, behind only the final run of the Fair Hill 4*-L. With the weather sunny and warmer than the rest of the country this time of year, this is an absolutely stunning crown jewel in America’s repertoire of qualifiers for the 5* level.

The stunning Ocala Jockey Club in Reddick, Florida. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Venue

  • This marks only the second running of the long format at this venue but the field this year is more than 2.5 times the size of last year’s, with 32 pairs slated to come down the jog strip, up from 12 last year.
  • Good flatwork is historically rewarded in the 4* divisions, both short and long. Of 79 starters in three years, 22.8% of pairs have scored sub-thirty.
  • Not only did no one make the time in this division last year, no one even came home inside of 10 seconds of optimum. The fastest pair was Lauren Kieffer on Paramount Importance, who finished ten seconds over; she’s back this year with Landmark’s Monte Carlo, who owns a deserved reputation as one of the fastest long format horses in the U.S.
  • No one has yet won a 4* division at OJC without also jumping a clear round on stadium day.

Dressage Divas

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

  • It’s not often that a pair is profiled without having any starts together at the level, but Phillip Dutton has now had more than a month to get to know Boyd Martin’s mount Long Island T. In three starts at A/4* this year, the gelding hasn’t scored lower than 74% with Boyd Martin; pairing with Phillip for the first time at the level should still result in a score at least breaking into the twenties.
  • If it feels like we’ve been talking about Pavarotti’s chops on the flat forever it’s because we have: the gelding has 28 prior A/4* starts with Jessica Phoenix, dating back to 2013. He hasn’t clocked in a score less than 70% at this level in more than two years.
  • Lynn Symansky brings forth RF Cool Play, who took a break from the A/4* level this year to focus on the Pan American Games. He returns to the 4* level this weekend, and his average of 30.4 in four starts during 2018 is good enough to be one of the three best 2018/2019 dressage averages in the field.
  • Copper Beach has had a bit of a large range over the past two years; his best score in that timeframe of 26.7 rivals some of the best scores of the field but he and Buck Davidson have also scored in the thirties at every FEI they’ve done in that time range.
  • Mara dePuy has always been known for her mad skills on the flat, but hasn’t quite gotten Congo Brazzaville C to a consistent twenties score. Despite leading the pack at Fair Hill after the first phase, these two have yet to score in the twenties at two consecutive events despite breaking that mark in 30% of their starts over the last two years.

Cross Country Machines

Amber Levine and Carry On. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

  • Amber Levine is here from the West Coast with her ride Carry On, a horse whose turn of foot has helped net him top two finishes in both of his starts this year. This pair clocked in times that were either the fastest run of the day or inside the optimum time in their last four consecutive clear outings, and finished inside the time at their only 4*-L start together, a completion on their dressage score at Galway Downs in 2016.
  • Landmark’s Monte Carlo has completed five clear rounds at the 4*-L level; he’s been inside the time twice and has never finished more than four seconds over optimum time with Lauren Kieffer.
  • Erin Sylvester has never been a stranger to speed with any of her 5* horses and Campground, a Thoroughbred with two previous 4*-L completions under his belt, is quick as well. In his last four runs, he’s averaged only 6.5 seconds off the pace.
  • Cooley On Show returns to the level with Sharon White after a break following Kentucky this year. This pair has finished inside the time in two of their four completions at 4/5*-L.
  • Landmark’s Monaco with Kimmy Cecere and Victor Z with Kate Brown are both horses to keep an eye on in their first 4*-L starts; although each has had some bobbles at the A/4* levels, they’ve each been fast when running clear at the A/4*-S formats.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville C. Photo by Shelby Allen.

  • In three 4*-L completions, Congo Brazzaville C and Mara dePuy have had a time penalty or two, but never a rail. In fact, they’ve never had a rail in the seven rounds they’ve jumped when cross country was before stadium.
  • Victor Z isn’t just a potentially quick horse in the second phase; he also is a very careful jumper. He and Kate Brown have yet to have a rail in six stadium rounds at the level.
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me have three 4*-L completions together and have yet to add any penalties on the final day to their score.
  • RF Cool Play jumped clear in his only 4*-L completion; in fact, he and Lynn Symansky have never had a stadium penalty in four career A/4* starts for the Pan American runner-up.
  • Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF are making their first 4*-L career start but after three clear stadium rounds in three A/4* starts, they will be looking forward to stadium day.

PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play

Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play (USA). Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Keep Your Eye On:
  • Buck Davidson and Copper Beach
  • Amber Levine and Carry On
  • Phillip Dutton and Long Island T
  • Sharon White and Cooley On Show

#OJC3DE: WebsiteScheduleEntries,  Ride TimesLive StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Wednesday News & Notes

It’s not easy having the stall right next to the feed room! #Scooby #pleeeeeeeeease #cavalor

Posted by Will Coleman Equestrian on Monday, November 4, 2019

Nearly a week after Halloween, the way I stare at my almost-empty candy bowl is somewhat reminiscent of the way Will Coleman’s mount Scooby stares at the feed room. It’s one thing to avoid temptation by not buying the candy in the first place but once it’s in the house, I just can’t bring myself to say no.

National Holiday: Saxophone Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Majestic Oaks H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

River Glen H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Moon Farms H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

The best news of the week that Thibault Fournier is up and walking. The young Frenchman inspired last year at Pau, winning at his first attempt at 5* on home soil at only 23 years old. Despite a serious fall on October 13 that left him in a coma, Thibault is now up and taking steps. [He Has an Iron Will]

Have Area I vintage eventing pics to share? In celebration of 60 years of eventing, Joan from Flatlandsfoto is collecting old photos from Area 1 USCTA / USEA events to share in a slide show presentation during the annual meeting in Boston Dec. 12 – 15. Photos should be of good quality as well as on the larger size so they are suitable for the big screen. Please include the rider’s name, horse’s name, event and year when known. Photos can be emailed to [email protected] Please note “Photos for National Meeting” in the subject line so any emails landing in the spam folder can be rescued. Deadline for this project is Nov. 20th. Feel free to email Joan directly with any questions

Fireworks are the bane of every horse owner and barn manager. They aren’t any better in Britain. Samantha Perkins thought she was home free when it was raining at 7 pm but was called back to the barn when non-stop fireworks seriously alarmed all her horses. Taking a video and posting on social media seemed like a good way to get the message out but she never expected the video to go viral. [It Sounded Like a War Zone]

Three surgeries and a divorce can’t keep Kelly Smith out of the saddle. Kelly has been riding the ‘weird ones’ since she was a kid and her mare Shangri-La was no exception. After bouts of vertigo lead to brain surgery and she was grounded for a year, she decided to take care of her chronic back pain and got back surgery at the same time. Now she’s back to riding her mare’s son Demon. [From the Beginning]

Wednesday GIF: Brought to you by The Internet

Wednesday News & Notes

Paint me like one of your French girls. Photo by Sara Dobozynski.

When you take naps as seriously as my horse does, you’re bound to get a great shot eventually. This ridiculous horse announces loudly that he is going down for his morning nap and is going to stay there all morning, thank you very much. And then again in the afternoon. There’s nothing like a deep, clean straw bed apparently.

National Holiday: National Candy Corn Day

Major Weekend Events:

Galway Downs 3DE & H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Virginia 3DE & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Rocking Horse H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

The FEI has released the proposed rule changes that will be discussed at the 2019 FEI Forum. While the focus may be on the wording changes to the flag penalty rule, there’s another big change in the works; after 2019, double bridles may not be permitted except at the 4/5* levels. [2020 FEI Eventing Rules Proposals]

Erik Duvander is doing his utmost to communicate the progress on the High Performance front. After the success of running a small training camp for Millstreet, Erik replicated it for Boekelo. Testing out the format for Tokyo was valuable as it will impact the types of pairs sent to Japan. [A Note from Erik Duvander]

Nostalgia is in full swing for Fair Hill and this throwback piece has all the pieces. The familiar name of Karen O’Connor topped the leaderboard at the first running of Fair Hill in 1989, but her mount was the lesser-known Nos Ecus. The first Fair Hill was nearly 80 degrees on cross country day and young rider Nini Stevenson topped the dressage leaderboard. [From the Beginning]

Wednesday Video: Everyone enjoys a good butt scratch.

Do you like scratching horse bums? If the answer is yes then come join our team. We have an immediate position available for skilled bum scratchers. #workingstudentlife #noitchleftunscratched Email or text for more info Eastwestequest@aol.com (707)480-4501

Posted by Matt Cecily Brown on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday News & Notes

Posted by Linka A Odom on Sunday, October 20, 2019

It’s been alternating rainy days with beautiful weather now, which means fall has well and truly arrived. The leaves are gorgeous, the days are shorter, and every now and then we get an absolutely stunning sunrise, like the one that started with a rainbow over the Fair Hill stabling on Sunday morning, as witnessed and recorded by Linka Odom.

National Holiday: National Mole Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Waredaca 3DE & H.T. [Website] [HT Entry Status] [3DE Entry Status] [HT Ride Times] [3DE Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Windermere Run H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Holly Hill H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

When time and finances are limited, a rules snafu is not just a headache, it’s a dreamkiller … and in this case a safety issue. When Carleigh Fedorka should have been braiding her horse for jogs for the Midsouth T3D, she was instead battling with officials, organizers, and the USEF and USEA organizations. It turns out a mid-year rule change changed the qualifications for the Classic Series to require all qualification within 24 months, which bafflingly left her qualified for Preliminary but not the educational T3D. [Why We Need to Be Better]

Any time we go on the horse hunt, we are looking for That Horse. Annemare Cochrane attended the USEA YEH Judge Seminar held at Fair Hill to learn how the YEH program quantifies Those Gaits, That Gallop, and That Jump. [Looking for Four- and Five-Star Potential]

It’s not often that a rescue turns out to be one of the hottest eventing prospects in the country. Despite that, the OTTB mare Not Ours turned out to be exactly that for owner Nikki Scherrer. After retraining her rescue for the RRTP in 2017, she handed the reins to Erin Sylvester, who began her banner weekend by wrapping up the Reserve YEH title for 5 year olds on the mare. [From Kill Pen to YEH]

Wednesday Video: 

Today’s throwback is courtesy of me circa 2012, when I made my first visit to Fair Hill with one of my best friends. With the end of an era, I give you the Fair Hill experience.

By the Numbers: Fair Hill International CCI4*-L

The 2019 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Three-Day is now upon us and while we have seen quite a lot of dry weather in the region over the past month, the skies opened up yesterday. This should leave us with good footing for cross country day, with weather that promises to be lovely. This will be the final year that the cross country runs on this side of Gallagher Road, with a brand new course and brand new name next year for the 5*.

Derek di Grazia will be designing the cross-country for the final time after two decades of work here. If you see him, be sure to thank him for his efforts in making Fair Hill the standard in the U.S. at the CCI4*-L level, and if you’re itching to run his course design as a prep for Kentucky (or Tokyo!), take a trip up to Bromont in the summer. Marc Donovan comes forward to design the show jumping for the second year running.

Dressage for the 4* starts at 2 p.m. EST today, and you can watch live on USEF Network.

The Field 

  • The leader after dressage has won the event for the last four consecutive runnings.
  • The lowest dressage score of the competition has been an average of 27.17 over the last half-decade, compared to 28.86 world-wide and 26.43 in western Europe over the same time period.
  • Although Fair Hill’s 5-year cross country completion rate (75.3%) and inside the time rate (13.5%) is comparable to world-wide 5-year 4*-L rates (77.3% and 12.9% respectively), the cross country clear rate at Fair Hill (65.5%) is significantly higher compared to the world-wide clear rate (59.8%)
  • At least one rider has made the time on cross country for the last five years. Fourteen made the time in 2016. Only three winners since 2012 have made the time on cross country.
  • With a combination of plenty of horses used to pushing the pace and a fast surface to run on Saturday, look for a large number of horses to make the time.
  • Competitors have incurred an average of 0.99 rails at Fair Hill since 2014 while world-wide competitors incur an average of 1.47 rails at this level.
  • Only one winner since 2012, Jan Byyny with Inmidair, were able to absorb a rail and still win the division. Two other winners, Tamie Smith with Mai Baum and Selena O’Hanlon with Foxwood High, have won with clean rounds but incurred show jumping time penalties.
  • At least one competitor has finished on their dressage score every year for the last four years, with 2014 being the last year that no FODS occurred. A high of seven pairs obtained an FOD in 2016.

Dressage Divas

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

  • Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection have scored over 70% in five of their eight A/4* starts in the last two years; their personal best of 25.0 as a pair was scored only two outings ago at Great Meadow 4*-S. With a slot in the morning of day two, they’ll need to really impress if they want to hold the lead through the remainder of the division.
  • Doug Payne and Vandiver have also performed exceptionally well over the 2018/19 seasons, scoring over 70% in four of six A/4* tests over that time period. These two will have an advantage over others on the list with a ride time in the last quarter of the division.
  • Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras clocked in a very strong 26.0 in their 4* last outing at Great Meadow, a sign that the horse is returning to the form we saw mid-2017 when he broke 75% at Little Downham Advanced in England. A slot in the first quarter of the division will work against them though.
  • Covert Rights hasn’t scored below 70% yet this season, with four consecutive marks in the 20s leading the way to four top-three finishes. Their hot streak will need to hold through an early morning session ride time, but expect to see a top mark from this horse and Colleen Rutledge tomorrow.

Cross Country Machines

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

  • It’s easy to overlook Phillip Dutton‘s ride Z after his troubles this year but this horse’s record across the country is fairly impeccable at the CCI4/5*-L formats. In five finishes, this horse has only once had time penalties, incurred at WEG last fall when Phillip was under team orders rather than running as an individual. He hasn’t been the fastest time of the day by any long shot, but he hasn’t needed to be; finishing within five seconds of optimum in all four of those outings is a sign of a master rider at work. The one question mark in this horse’s resume on this phase is the venue itself; in Z’s only Fair Hill start in 2016, Phillip took a tumble to end their competition.
  • Clark Montgomery is seeking his return to the 5* level with Caribbean Soul, a chestnut Thoroughbred mare who has finished either inside the optimum time or as the fastest time of the day in her last three starts at the A/4* level. This includes being bang on optimum time in the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L, the only long format at the level this mare has yet run.
  • Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy have completed three CCI4*-L divisions all within ten seconds of the optimum time. This includes a Fair Hill run in 2017 where they finished inside the optimum. They also have a clear round inside the time at Kentucky, another Derek di Grazia-designed long format.
  • Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise don’t always bring all their turn of foot to bear on the course at hand, but have obtained four top-three finishes in nine finishes over the last two years when they do. This includes a win in the Jersey Fresh CCI4*-L in the spring, two top three placings at Plantation Field 4*-S, and a second place at Fair Hill Advanced in the spring of 2018.
  • Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude have the CCI4*-L level down to a science; they’ve finished six events at this particular level, have finished inside the time or as the fastest ride at three of them while being within three seconds of optimum at another two. They’ve completed this event at Fair Hill three times now, with a cumulative total of one second over optimum time.
  • Covert Rights also has to be discussed. Colleen Rutledge is known as a rider with the ability to make the time, and she and Covert Rights have done that many, many times at the CCI4*-S level. Since 2015, they’ve been the fastest pace or made the time at 11 of 18 clean A/4*-S rounds and have been within 10 seconds of either optimum or the fastest time of the day on another four occasions. However the 4/5* long format has slowed them down considerably and they’ve made time at those levels only once … here at Fair Hill in 2017. With good turf, it’s likely for them to be back in more familiar territory of a fast and clear round this weekend.
  • There are several other horses with speed that can be mentioned; Il Vici (Arden Wildasin), Magnum’s Martini and Cash (Nilson Moreira da Silva), Serendipity (Brooke Massie), Michel 233 (Will Faudree), Under Suspection (Lynn Symansky), Jak My Style (Buck Davidson), and Honor Me (Lisa Marie Fergusson) are all horses who have shown the ability to make the pace, either at the CCI4*-L level or in their more recent short format events.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Erin Sylvester and Paddy The Caddy. Photo by AK Dragoo Photography.

  • On show jumping day, Paddy the Caddy and Erin Sylvester are a pair who are a strong bet for a clear round; in four long format 4/5* completions, they’ve jumped four clear rounds with only one time penalty total.
  • Although Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me haven’t been able to replicate their form at the 5* level, at the 4*-L level, they are perfect. They have added nothing to their score on the final day in every completion at this level, including at Fair Hill in 2016.
  • Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection have only twice competed with stadium as the final phase, but have overall jumped clear in six of eight stadium rounds they have as a pair.
  • Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras have jumped clear in eight of ten A/4* stadium rounds since 2017; they’ve jumped clear in three of four rounds when stadium was the final phase, including a Fair Hill completion in the fall of 2016. This will be their first CCI4*-L start since then.
  • Jak My Style has jumped clear in two of three starts where cross-country was last with Buck Davidson in the irons, including Fair Hill in 2017.
  • Phillip Dutton has a pair of strong jumpers in both Z and Fernhill Singapore, who combined have jumped clear in 27 of 32 starts. Fernhill Singapore has jumped clear in eight of his nine starts at A/4*, but the only rail he incurred was when stadium occurred after cross country, under the lights, at the American Eventing Championships. Meanwhile Z was known for his prowess in this phase until earlier this year, jumping twelve consecutive clears at the level that included his first trip overseas to Tattersalls 4*-L, his first 5*, and the WEG. At Kentucky he ran into a hiccup, incurring two uncharacteristic rails and followed with three rails at Aachen but has since returned to form, jumping clear in his last three rounds including as a catch-ride under Boyd Martin at Plantation.
  • Young horses and riders who might impress in this phase include BGS Firecracker (Mia Farley) and Early Review CBF (Sydney Solomon), as well as horses under veteran riders like DonDante (Will Coleman).

PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Keep Your Eye On …

  • Phillip Dutton and Z
  • Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
  • Buck Davidson and Jak My Style
  • Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy
  • Doug Payne and Vandiver
  • Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude
  • Clark Montgomery and Caribbean Soul
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me

#DuttaFHI: WebsiteDrawn OrderScheduleCCI Dressage Ride TimesYEH Ride TimesCCI ScoringLive StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Wednesday News & Notes

It’s finally fall! Around here, it sure seems that climate change is having an effect, as it is hotter and drier longer every fall over the past half decade. Please join me in doing a rain dance for today in Elkton, where yesterday it was projected to have 100% chance of rain, with up to 1 or 2 inches expected. We desperately need the rain to improve the footing for the 100+ horses about to tackle the hills of Maryland.

National Holiday: Dictionary Day

Major Weekend Events

Fair Hill International: [Website] [Entry Status] [Order of Draw] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Live Results]

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Hagyard Midsouth CCI, 3DE, & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Fresno County H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Pine Hill Fall H.T. [Website]  [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

In case you missed it, there was some gator wrangling at a horse trials this weekend. If you guessed that the event in question was Ocala….well, you’d be wrong. It was Maryland that had to call in animal control to capture a small gator who took up residence in the water jump. [The Great Gator Caper]

Fair Hill begins with jogs tomorrow and we’ve got a pretty strong line-up headed down the centerline. Check out Leslie Wylie’s guide to the competitors. [A First Glance at Fair Hill International]

The USEA Board of Governors has approved funding for four equine medical research studies. Funding of $38.175 has been allotted to the Stephen Teichman Farrier study, a Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation study, and two Morris Animal Foundation Studies. [Equine Medical Research Funding]

Wednesday Weird Thing (Brought to you by The Internet): 

Wednesday News & Notes

 

Team USA ready to represent! Photo via Jenni Autry’s FB page.

I know we are all primed to watch Boekelo this weekend because with the ridiculous scoring mechanism the teams are doing, there’s sure to be some drama. We also have a pretty rad all-female team over there with Matt Flynn gallantly serving as a substitute while he competes as an individual….until (hopefully not) needed.

National Holiday: National Curious Events Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Maryland at Loch Moy H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Hitching Post Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Radnor Hunt H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Paradise Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Ocala Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Fleur de Leap H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Las Cruces H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

A special horse helped three different women achieve lifelong dreams. Jenny Brinkley began her re-rider career by buying Guinness as a 3-year old. Eventually, Guinness would take Jenny to her first Prelim, her trainer Mary Bess to her first Advanced and CCI3*, and her daughter Matilda to NAJYRC to win individual and team medals. [Horse Heroes]

Le Lion may have the most world-famous young horse showcase but Osberton’s 7 year old winner have gone onto big things as well. We’ve had a couple of them over to compete in the USA, while other have gone on to compete at 5* and even at Rio. [Previous Osberton Winners]

It can be difficult to change competition goals mid-season but we have all had to do it. After missing out on the USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Championships, Lauren Sprieser switched her goals to make it to the US Dressage Finals with her young Grand Prix horse, Elvis. [Mission Mostly Accomplished]

Wednesday Video: 

Posted by Lainey Ashker on Sunday, September 29, 2019

By the Numbers: Morven Park CCI4*-S

With the announcement that Morven Park would hold a CCI4*-L next year to replace the Fair Hill CCI4*-L, this year event suddenly seems like a preview for next fall. The venue has put in massive improvements in the last two years, starting with two massive arena complexes with brand new footing for dressage to be held simultaneously with show jumping.

It may seem like a monumental task to hold horse trial levels from Beginner Novice through Advanced alongside of FEI levels CCI2*/3*/4*-S, a new CCI4*-L division, and CCI2*-L for 6 year olds and CCI3*-L for 7 year olds, but Morven is aiming to do just that next year.

Let’s have a look at this week’s CCI4*-S competition:

The Field

Photo by Valerie Durbon Photography.

  • Morven tends to be an event that gets either too much rain or not enough. This year, with drought gripping the east coast, the ground will likely be firm. No matter the ground condition, only two pairs have made the time in the last five years.
  • The dressage leader has gone on to win the division in three of the last five years, with the winner coming from 4th position on the other two occasions.

Dressage Divas

Buck Davidson and Copper Beach. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

  • Copper Beach and Buck Davidson own the lowest A/4* average in the field over the 2018/19 seasons, hovering at 30.4 penalties. They’ve broken the 70% mark four times at horse trials in that time period, most recently at the Essex Advanced horse trials, but haven’t been able to translate that mark to the 4* level since Plantation Field back in 2017.
  • Covert Rights and Colleen Rutledge slot in just behind with an average of 30.7 in that same time period, but the pair has clearly gotten their groove back this season, with rapidly dropping scores in their last three outings. These two lopped off 1.6 points from Millbrook to Great Meadow and then knocked off another 1.6 points at Plantation Field, flirting with the 75% mark to lead the field.
  • Phillip Dutton can never be discounted and with Fernhill Revelation back in the mix after an extended vacation, he’s liable to be found near the top of the leaderboard as well. Although they haven’t quite hit the 70% mark in two starts this year, these two clocked in a strong 27.1 on the international stage at Tattersalls back in 2017.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore. Photo by Jenni Autry.

  • Phillip‘s other mount, Fernhill Singapore, has the top stadium resume in the field, with only one rail down in nine stadium rounds … including one where he was catch ridden by Boyd Martin.
  • Allie Knowles has carefully cultivated the career of Ms. Poppins, who has been practically perfect in every way in stadium, dropping only one rail in five A/4*-S rounds thus far.
  • Fernhill Revelation has also been strong after pairing with Phillip Dutton, jumping clear in three of four rounds at A/4*-S with him as a rider.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cross-Country Machines

  • Covert Rights has also gotten his groove back across the country after a rough patch in 2018 and early 2019. In three runs this fall season, he and Colleen Rutledge were inside the time in two of them, at Millbrook and Plantation, while they finished only five seconds behind the fastest time at Great Meadow in late August.
  • Both Nicole Aden with Truckee Bash and Jane Papke with Norman have put in swift rounds in one clear round at the level. Firm ground this weekend could play a part in the time; it will be easier for pairs to run faster than their average if they choose to push the pace, while others may choose to take their time to preserve their horse’s legs.

PREDICTED WINNER: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Keep Your Eye On …

  • Allie Knowles and Princess B/Ms. Poppins
  • Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Revelation/Fernhill Singapore
  • Buck Davidson and Copper Beach

Morven Park CCI & H.T.: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

Wednesday News & Notes

Belarusian eventing. Photo via Diamond Horse FB page.

A large portion of my work with Eventing Nation involves tracking scores of the Advanced, 4* and 5* scores not just in North America, but also worldwide. This means I spend an inordinate portion of my lunch break tracking down websites that present scoring that doesn’t show up in the FEI database; in particular cross country finishing times and judge percentiles. Some events are easy; Eventing Ireland and Rechenstelle provide all the information I could possibly want. The US and GBR results are middling with some of the information available but others proving elusive for judge percentiles or finishing times. However, a lot of countries have been downright impossible.

Well, this week I finally located the Facebook page for the Minsk event, which usually runs a 4*-S and 4*-L a couple times a year. And it is a gem. By all means, enjoy Belarusian eventing, courtesy of Diamond Horse.

National Holiday: National Name Your Car Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Kent School H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Morven Park CCI & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

WindRidge Farm Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Heritage Park H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Willow Draw Charity H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Woodside CCI & H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Spokane Sport Horse H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

USEA has very casually dropped the news that Morven has applied to hold a CCI4*-L at their fall event (Oct. 2-4) in 2020. The intent is to replace Fair Hill’s CCI4*-L, which will no longer run starting in 2020 due to the addition of the CCI5*-L. Twin Rivers also applied to host a spring CCI4*-L on April 9-12, which would give the West Coast a much needed spring CCI4*-L date. These new CCI4*-L competitions were approved by the USEF Board of Directors on Sept. 16, and now the 2020 FEI Calendar goes forward for the final round of approvals at the FEI General Assembly in Moscow on Nov. 16-19. Other USEA calendar changes include Jersey Fresh adding a Prelim, Essex moving to mid-July, the Wellington Showcase is back, Stable View will hold a big CCI spring event the weekend after Carolina, and Ocala will run Advanced in October. [Planning Your 2020 Calendar]

To continue on the CCI4*-L news, Morven plans to finance the event by continuing to run the national levels. They’ve also added a Le Lion style young horse CCI2/3*-L to the show, in an effort to showcase the young horses in North America, and are on the hunt for a title sponsor for the CCI4*-L. [Morven Park to Hold Fall CCI4*-L]

The hunt for a trainer can be a delicate act of learning a new language. Lauren Sprieser suddenly found herself thrown into that search due to unusual circumstances and made a major effort to engage people whose styles complemented her previous trainers. [Changing Mid Stream]

Wednesday Video: 

By the Numbers: Stable View CCI4*-S

Stable View has gone from budding event to top FEI billing in five short years. With a variety of events to choose from in the fall season, this top-notch venue continues to draw a big field of top competitors, offering a respite to the rock-hard footing that often grips the northeast this time of year.

Stable View CCI & HT: WebsiteScheduleEntriesTimesLive ScoringEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

The Field

An aerial view of the covered barn and surrounding landscape. Photo courtesy of Stable View.

  • The clear rate on cross country at this event is only 52%, significantly lower than the world-wide clear rate of 69% at Advanced/4*-S level.
  • No one has led the marquee division (Advanced in 2016/17 and CIC3* in 2018) from start to finish yet.
  • Only four pairs in 75 cross-country starters have made the time here, making it one of the trickier venues at which to catch the time.

Dressage Divas

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Shelby Allen.

  • Under Suspection and Lynn Symansky are the clear headlines in this phase for the weekend, owning the only two-year dressage average in the twenties. This pair scored a 25.0 in their last outing at Great Meadow 4*-S, and what’s more exciting is that they’ve lowered their dressage score in four consecutive outings.
  • Celien cracked the 70% mark in her first 5*-L start last fall with Hallie Coon and followed it up by flirting with 75% at Pine Top. Although their scores since then have hovered in the low-thirties range, that could be sufficient for a competitive placing near the top this weekend.
  • Sinead Halpin returns to this level for the first time in three years with Cutty Sark. In the horse’s first Advanced, they scored a 28.2, which would be enough to make them a contender for a top spot in the first phase.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Katherine Brown & Victor Z. Photo by Lisa Madren.

  • Victor Z has a bit of a spotty record on the cross-country thus far in his young career, but he cannot be faulted in the stadium phase. In four rounds, he and Kate Brown have had a grand total of zero rails.
  • Phillip Dutton and has another crack jumper in his string in Fernhill Singapore, who has only one rail in eight rounds, one of which was a catch ride by Boyd Martin.
  • Under Suspection should shine in this phase as well; she and Lynn Symansky have had only one rail in six starts at the level in the past two years.

Cross-Country Machines

Clark Montgomery and Caribbean Soul. Photo by Shelby Allen.

  • The chestnut mare Caribbean Soul boasts the fastest pace in the field, having finished either as the fastest time of the day or within ten seconds of the fastest ride of the day in each of her three rides at this level under Clark Montgomery.
  • Nilson Moreira da Silva and his WEG mount Magnum’s Martini are speedsters as well, finished as the fastest run of the day in 50% of their six runs at the level in 2018/19.

PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Keep Your Eye On …

  • Phillip Dutton and Z/Fernhill Singapore
  • Clark Montgomery and Caribbean Soul
  • Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre

Wednesday News and Notes

Photo via Megan Edwards’ FB page.

One thing that makes this sport, or really any sport, so incredibly difficult is the mental struggle. The struggle of riding itself, paired with the struggle to make it to the top, to make a barn profitable, to keep operating from day to day, to find and keep owners and to come back after injury, both horse and rider. There’s been a few refreshing posts circulating on social media in the past few days, reckoning with where our choices lead. Regardless, ‘persevere’ seems apt, no matter which path of life it applies to.

National Holiday: National Comic Book Day

Major Weekend Events:

#Stable View: WebsiteScheduleEntriesTimesLive ScoringEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Jump Start H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

University of New Hampshire H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Surefire Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Sundance Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Larkin Hill H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

ESDCTA New Jersey H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Fan favorite Xam has been retired following his run at Blenheim. The 18-year old gelding started 16 long format 4* and 5* events under Harry Dzenis; although he rarely hit the award ceremony, his prowess on cross-country kept him coming back for more. [Xam Retires]

We often see some usual breeds in the eventing world but a Saddledbred in dressage is still a refreshing surprise. Patricia Borders rode Saddlebreds all of her life and bred selectively for fun. When one homebred filly hit the ground with some traits more suited to the dressage ring, Borders took up a new sport at the age of fifty. [Showing Saddlebreds at the FEI Level]

The YEH Championships will be held next month on both costs and it’s time to catch up with last year’s winners. With the prospect of a grant to Le Lion, the progress of the 5 year old winners are particularly worth following, as they tackle Preliminary and beyond in their quest to represent the US in France. [2018 USEA Young Event Horse Champions]

Wednesday Social Media: 

What a great weekend! Barry and I put in our personal best 4* dressage test by quite a few points. Big thanks to James…

Posted by Emily Hamel Eventing on Sunday, September 22, 2019