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Mary Hollis Baird


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Product Review: Discovery Trekking Saddle Skirt

One of the worst things about riding in the winter is being stuck inside an indoor for what feels like infinity or having to go outside in inclement weather and be incredibly uncomfortable. Come February or March, when it won’t stop raining, the motivation to ride can be low. Rain makes riding a chore, ruining your tack and your fun.

Enter the Discovery Trekking Saddle Skirt — Extended Length. Made from a technical soft-shell fabric that is water and wind repellent, this is essentially a raincoat for you and your horse in one: It covers their hind end like a quarter sheet while also keeping you and your saddle dry.

While it’s keeping you warm and dry, it’s also not detrimental to your safety. The skirt only attaches to you, with combination of velcro straps and elastic adjusters that make fitting the skirt to your horse a breeze. And there’s no chance if something happens on your ride being attached to your horse in a way that could be dangerous.

Photo credit:

I used it recently on a downpour rainy day and my sensitive OTTB was dry as a bone with a relaxed and warm back. The problem with quarter sheets is that they can flap around and spook sensitive horses, but the woven fabric reduces any crinkle noise and the adjustability of the skirt doesn’t allow the wind to get under the skirt and blow it around.

Photo credit: Mary-Hollis Baird.

The Extended Length Saddle Skirt is an excellent product that will make your gross weather riding perfectly pleasant. The Skirt is also available in Regular Length.

The skirt retails for $179 in lightweight blue (lighter for rainy climate, not as warm) or heavier-weight black (heavier weight with a fleece backing for fall and winter riding), with a $15 add-on for reflective ribbon. Custom colors are also available, as are custom sizes beyond the standard Small (waist sizes up to 34″), Medium (waist sizes from 34″-40″) and Large (waist sizes from 40″-46″). They can make the skirt wider for people with long legs.

View more details and place your order here. You can also follow Discovery Trekking Outfitters on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

Go Eventing in the rain!

What Dolly Parton Taught Me About Eventing


WNYC, a public radio station based in New York City, has a new podcast entitled “Dolly Parton’s America.” It is a deep-dive into Dolly Parton, one of the most popular celebrities in the world. Her concerts are as diverse a group as you can find anywhere, from good ol’ farm boys to drag queens (dressed as Dolly, obvi). To give you an idea of the vibe of the podcast, the subtitle is, “The story of a legend at the crossroads of America’s culture wars.”

In the first episode, “Sad Ass Songs,” the host, Jad Abumrad, interviews a few millennials and Gen-Zers that work in the WNYC offices and they say, one of the things they love about Dolly Parton is that she’s a feminist icon. She wasn’t a bra-burning, alleged man-hating feminist of the ’60s and ’70s.  She’s more of a modern, third-wave feminist, which basically means that she presents herself how she wants. She doesn’t adhere to any mold that any man or woman wants to put her in. She takes ownership of herself. For instance, Jad notices when Johnny Carson, or any interviewer, would make a sexist joke, she’d take it and then one-up them with a better joke.

Country Music Lol GIF by Dolly Parton

Growing up with Dolly, her feminism was very clear and obvious, at least to me. She’s confident in who she is and doesn’t get defensive when she’s underestimated, she just takes the under-estimators money and runs. She’s learned to work within the patriarchy while slowly over a decades-long career making positive changes for women.

This progression can be tracked through her music. She started out with heartbreakingly sad, super dark ballads (one song is told from the perspective of her aunt, who was put in a mental institution because her husband’s cheating drove her to a panic attack, and in the song she’s begging her father to come free her from the asylum… YIKES).

From those ballads she moved onto duets with Porter Waggoner, to her solo career in the late ’70s, containing the utterly brilliant “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.” (Fun fact: She wrote both of those songs in the SAME NIGHT… what a legend.)

In the ’80s after the hilarious, feminist masterpiece of 9 to 5″ came out, Dolly does albums with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris and they are pitch-perfect, beautiful, three-part female harmonies that are explorations of romantic relationships, yes, but also the soul of these women and sisterhood.

I don’t think this feminist progression is necessarily conscious on Dolly’s part. I think she just creates whatever speaks to her at that time in her life. Most of her music now is about self-confidence and believing in yourself and being free from self-criticism and the judgment of others, basically the grandmother-ly pep talk of your dreams.

Now you might wonder how Dolly’s feminism, at all, relates to eventing. This is how: in the “Sad Ass Songs” episode of the podcast, Jad asks Dolly if she is a feminist. She emphatically says no. Jad described the moment as, “it’s like I dropped a word bomb in the room.” It disrupts the flow of the conversation and you hear a defensiveness in Dolly’s voice, which is an unusual tone for her to speak in, especially publicly.

Dont Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead GIF

9 to 5 is a gem of a movie

I was shocked to hear the utter rejection of the word feminism. Dolly has always been supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. She’s said in the past, if she’d been born a man she’d probably be a drag queen. Dolly’s also been quoted, “I’m a feminine girl, I’m a working girl. I think we all should be treated with respect and if we do a good job, we should get paid for it.” She wants people to be able to do whatever’s best for them. However, even though she subscribes to the foundational tenets of modern, third-wave feminism, she doesn’t use that word.

It got me thinking. How important is it to use a word? If all of Dolly’s actions are pointing towards the societal change that are committed to enhancing the lives of marginalized communities, do I care if she will not use the same vocabulary that I would? If someone’s doing the work, then does anything else really matter? Now, obviously, this is an oversimplification of a nuanced issue of how words are powerful and the effect of their usage. However, in terms of eventing, Dolly Parton’s feminism taught me that the important thing is without the work nothing improves. 

In eventing, if you haven’t put the work in, you will not get very far. We all know this. If you haven’t done your trot-sets and fitness work, your horse will not complete cross country well. If you haven’t put the time into your flat-schooling, your dressage test is not going to be the picture of harmony that it should.

Dolly, over her decades long career, has done the work for women, day in and day out (along with her advocacy for children’s literacy. Her charity, Imagination Library, has given away 126 million books so kids can have books in their home. She was inspired by her father, who was illiterate from a lack of access to education, not lack of intelligence.)

Doing the work of bettering yourself, your horse, and your partnership doesn’t have to be big swings everyday, but it does have to be consistent, genuine effort.

Go be like Dolly, do the work, then go eventing.

Emotions of the AEC, Brought to You by Lizzo

Welcome to the American Eventing Championships. It can be a stressful and exhilarating time. It has the potential for what feels like epic success or a real crash and burn experience, at every level. It’s where it doesn’t matter if you are watching Beginner Novice or Advanced, every show jump round feels like a crucial moment for each horse and rider. It’s a thrilling championship atmosphere and should be celebrated!

After watching the Video Music Awards on Sunday,  an artist who brings a similar dramatic, yet relatable, energy to her music is Lizzo. Now, if you don’t know Lizzo, go reexamine your life.

She’s a classically trained flutist and hip-hop/R&B/soul singer, who had the best album of the summer (Cuz I Love You). Lizzo can easily express all the emotions from joy to despair that you’d be able to find at the AEC.

  1. Arriving, brimming with possibilities:

Lions Ready GIF - Lions Ready ComeOn GIFs

2. Marveling at the wonder of the Kentucky Horse Park:

What No Way GIF - What NoWay Confused GIFs

3. Trying to look your best as Big Name So&So rides by:

Excuse Me Feel Myself GIF - ExcuseMe FeelMyself FeelingMyself GIFs

4. The joy of nailing your dressage test:

IJust Took ADna Test Turns Out GIF - IJustTookADnaTest TurnsOut Im100PercentThatBitch GIFs

5. The determination of having not nailed your dressage test and striving for your come-from-behind victory:
Boss Up Change Your Life GIF - BossUp ChangeYourLife RaiseYourStandard GIFs

6. Walking the cross country course:

7. Walking the cross country course again, trying to feel better about it: 

8. Walking the cross country course a third time with someone who knows better than you: 

9. Post-cross country relief: 
Which Side Is Your Good Side All Of Them GIF - WhichSideIsYourGoodSide AllOfThem Positive GIFs

10. Post-cross country party:


11. Preparing for show jumping:

 Hair Toss Check My Nails GIF - HairToss CheckMyNails FeelingGood GIFs

12. Post-show jumping:

ILove You Ily GIF - ILoveYou Ily NoLimit GIFs

13. Not watching the people show jumping after you because, karmically, you don’t need that in your life:ILove You Beautiful GIF - ILoveYou Beautiful YouCanDoAnything GIFs

14. See you next year: 


Go Lizzo at the VMAs and Go Eventing!

#AEC2019: WebsiteScheduleRide TimesLive ScoringLive StreamEN’s CoverageUSEA’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Event Horse March Madness Sweet 16 Breakdown: Nicolas Cage Edition

March Madness is upon us! We’re through to the Round of 16, as posted earlier this week. Here are few key match-ups to keep an eye on, with some outta-left-field Nicolas Cage-inspired commentary from eventer/pop culture pundit Mary Hollis Baird. Sweet 16 voting is open through midnight on Sunday, March 31, with the Elite 8 to be announced the following day. Cast your ballot today!

2019 EN March Madness: Sweet 16!

This game is almost not fun anymore because all these horses are so wonderful, they all deserve as many treats and cross country jumps as they want.

National Treasures

Photos by EN.

Declaration Of Independence National Treasure GIF - DeclarationOfIndependence NationalTreasure Steal GIFs

Foxwood High and Islandwood Captain Jack were both upsets from the first round. These two horses have huge fanbases and thanks to their adoring public were elevated to the Sweet 16. Like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure, these guys might not be the conventional choices, but they are brilliant in their own right.

Woody and Jack are just two North Americans trying their best to do what’s right for the authority figures in their life; coincidentally these two guys are just like Cage’s character, Benjamin Gates, in National Treasure 1 and 2 (it is a travesty that they have not completed this trilogy, but that’s a different article for another time).

Both Caroline Martin and Selena O’Hanlon have developed these horses beautifully and as a spectator, you get the impression that they would jump off the edge of the world for their riders. These two horses make you believe that, just like Cage, they would lay down their lives to save the world from evil freemasons, just like in National Treasure.

The Face-Off

Photos by EN.

This match-up reminds me of watching the movie Face/Off for the first time. Here’s the Google synopsis if you need a refresher on the brilliant work of Nicolas Cage and John Travolta.

Allstar B (Travolta, obviously) is the hardworking FBI Agent out there being the best at his job. Allstar B, also very good at his job, can put in three consistent phases that will usually have him at least in the top 10 at the end of the weekend. Ros Canter has had the ride on him since 2012 and they have built a partnership that has yielded utterly brilliant results including a Team and Individual World Championship. 

Meanwhile Mr Chunky is the Irish Nic Cage. The horse was bought as an unbroken 4-year-old and by the time Padraig and Lucy came to look at him, he was slightly less green and so hairy. When they bought him the Mr Chunky moniker was bestowed upon him. Similar to Cage’s insane look, audiences love his performance energy and enables him to make stellar movies like Face/Off and Con Air.

Mr. Chunky is adored by his fans and is apparently a joy around the barn. Padraig has said that anyone in the yard can hack him out and he’s a perfect gentleman. However, in competition, just like Nic Cage, Mr. Chunky will pull out all his charisma and leave it in the ring, impressing anyone watching. Dressage judges want to give him good marks because you can see how hard he is trying to do what’s right. 

Who will win this face-off, Travolta or Cage? Only you can decide!

Price & Price 

Photos by EN.

Classic Moet and Cekatinka are two sides of the same coin. Both of these mares are brilliant jumpers, have the ability to be very competitive on the flat, and love love love to compete. There’s nothing I like better than ambitious, bad-ass, independent women.

Cekatinka is described by Jonelle as “ticking all the boxes for an eventer.” She is happy doing her job and seems up for anything. She’s the ultimate calm and collected professional competitor.

Meanwhile, here is the description of Classic Moet on the Prices’ website:

“Molly would, if she were a person, come from Swindon ( Or West Auckland for our NZ followers), be a couple of stone overweight, have several tattoos, wear a too tight leather jacket over skintight leopardskin pants and have a boyfriend with an IQ of 10 who is a club bouncer and 4 children by 4 different fathers.  There is simply nothing diva like about Trisha Rickards ‘fastest girl in the world’ and she is as happy at a World Championships as she is at a one day… providing she can go flat out which is her preferred speed to do everything, hacking, flat work, dressage included.  Molly is a legend but a kind of rock and roll one like Mick Jagger as opposed to the Princess type!”

So if we are going by Nicolas Cage tropes, Cekatinka would be Nicolas Cage in The Family Man, a light dramedy where his character is a nice guy who wrestles with choosing between love and career. Classic Moet would be Cameron Poe from Con Air, the newly-freed convict who is just trying to return to his wife and daughter after he accidentally killed a man who was trying to assault Poe’s pregnant wife. 

I don’t envy the voting public on this round, I don’t know how you choose!

In the meantime, go Nicolas Cage and eventing!

EN March Madness Bracket Breakdown: Round of 32, Part 1

Event Horse March Madness: Round of 32, Part 1 (North America + Europe). Graphic by Leslie Wylie.

NCAA March Madness is upon us and, as we all know, brackets are the most fun. In college, a few friends and I would rank anything and everything: best TV show, best dog breed, best sports movie (A League of Their Own was the obvious winner, but it ultimately lost out to Rocky in a stunning upset).

We would not rest until we’d come to a definitive conclusion. Unfortunately, these were not horse people so the category of best event horse never came up, until now. Now, thanks to the Internet, we can solve this problem for 2018 and figure out the people’s choice for top event horse.

So here are few match-ups to keep an eye on for the Round of 32: Part 1, as posted on EN yesterday. Voting for this round is open through midnight tonight, so cast your ballot today!


Photos by Leslie Threlkeld.

This is the toughest choice of Round 1. Ingrid Klimke‘s partner SAP Hale Bob OLD has been a consistent top performer at four-star level and is always a force. The last international for “Bobby” was the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, where he held the lead heading into show jumping only to have the final fence, landing them the individual bronze medal. This horse is the complete package and has results that speak for themselves, including domination of the European Championships in 2017.

German teammates Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH also won the entire WEG outright. No one came close to him in the dressage phase and an unfortunate 20 on cross country kept him out of the medal game this year. Chipmunk has won many big three-star events including Bramham, as well as only being out of the top 10 four times in five years of international competition.

Keep in mind, Chipmunk is only 11 while Hale Bob is a seasoned 15. Who knows what Chipmunk will look like in four years, especially with his new rider, some up and coming German guy….


Photos by Leslie Threlkeld.

Phillip Dutton has called Z one of the best he’s ever sat on. That is quite a bold statement coming from the 55-year-old former Australian, who has sat on what seems like innumerable amounts of horses. If Z was coming up against another opponent, I would say he would sail through, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s not to underestimate the Canadians.

Fresh off a win in the Red Hills CCI4*-S, Selena O’Hanlon‘s ride Foxwood High is already on a roll this year and is no doubt one of the most popular horses in eventing right now. While being a gorgeous mover and jumper, “Woody” has got the air of a gentle giant — so all those little kids dreaming of eventing glory cannot help but be drawn to him. As the top Canadian contender, Z might have a challenge to get to the second round!

Photos by Leslie Threlkeld/Shelby Allen.

In 2018 Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg captured our hearts at Kentucky. “Thomas” finished just outside the top 10 with only two time faults on cross country and one rail on Sunday. That’s an impressive debut. Unfortunately, at WEG Thomas broke our hearts a little bit with a stop on cross country. This one mistake maybe has opened the door for an underdog to beat him in this first round.

RF Cool Play is a relatively new ride for Lynn Symansky, but she has taken the time to get to know this talented young horse and in international competition they have never been outside of the top seven. Coolio and Lynn have never had a jump penalty, in cross country or show jumping, in any FEI event ever. “Coolio” is an up-and-coming superstar that could possibly beat out Thomas for a place in the second round.

The best part of March Madness is that you never know who could win, it’s literally anyone’s game. So get voting and get your friends on your side to see your favorite emerge victorious!

The Recast of ‘The Bachelor’ with Event Horses That No One Asked For

A group of friends and I are watching The Bachelor, now on season 23, for the first time all the way through. On Monday nights we will drink rosé, or whatever left over bubbly wine/alcohol we have in our refrigerators come Monday night. We order Domino’s pizza and have low-fat frozen yogurt for dessert because we are health-conscious. 

I’ve only ever been tangentially aware of The Bachelor and what I never realized is how similar it is to eventing. Both eventing and The Bachelor can be an ultimately fruitless endeavor, wherein you don’t leave the weekend with a success or a fiancé. Some weekends after an event you can be beat up, emotionally and sometimes physically; you can be hungover and questioning all your life decisions that led you to this low point in your riding career. 

All of these sensations seem to mimic how the contestants of The Bachelor feel. There can be fights with words or fists between contestants. They are constantly drinking on the show, so hangovers are a staple. And, hopefully, once the contestants realize that all 20 of them are dating the same guy, they stop for some self reflection about their decision-making process.

Keeping all these similarities in mind, here is the completely unnecessary, totally nonsensical, recast of The Bachelor with event horses that no one asked for:

The Bachelor

Colton, featured man-candy of The Bachelor season 23. Photo via

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colton: Cooley on Show

Colton seems to be a sweet, conventionally attractive dum-dum from Colorado, who genuinely thinks that he can find a wife on a reality TV show. Colton is a performer, and before he was a bona fide reality show star he was a professional football player. He reminds me of Sharon White’s Cooley On Show, known in the barn as Louie. Louie seems to be a low-key, chill guy who comes out on an event weekend and is happy to strut his stuff. The horse is maybe a little better looking and has a higher IQ, but he’ll do. 

The Contestants 

We are currently into the final four contestants. This week’s episode was called “Hometowns” and featured Colton traveling to all the contestants’ families to meet the parents. This process should help Colton decide which of his four girlfriends is “wife material.”

TAYISHA 28 | Corona Del Mar, California | Phlebotomist. Photo via

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tayisha: Veronica

Tayisha has had her eye on the Colton prize since day one. She’s never said that she’s only there to make friends, but she’s definitely not concerned with other girls’ feelings. She’s made sure she has had consistent one-on-one time with Colton, but never so much where she put herself in any of the other girls’ crosshairs. Now, with only three other girlfriends instead of 24, Tayisha is ready to emerge victorious. 

Veronica, very much like Tayisha, knows when to perform and wants to win. She can be a grumpy troll, but when she goes into that ring she turns on the burners and digs down into that brilliant well of grit that mares seem to possess and tries to win. Veronica wastes no brilliance in the warm-up. 

CAELYNN | 23 | Charlotte, North Carolina | Miss North Carolina 2018. Photo via

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Caelynn: Classic Moet 

Caelynn is the 2018 Miss North Carolina title holder and was 1st runner-up at Miss America. When she sees a goal, she can get it done. While she knows what she’s good at, Caelynn does struggle to play well with others. Earlier in the season she and Hannah B., former Miss Alabama, had a feud dating back to their pageant days. 

Classic Moet has a similar relationship with dressage. She definitely doesn’t like the first phase but will tolerate it in order to get on to the fun parts of winning fastest cross country round at almost every 4*. Classic Moet has the type of crazy that can ruin a weekend before any jumping happens, or pull out a win (see: Badminton last year). 

Caelynn seems to have a similar ability to charm Colton into a proposal or she could possibly snap and break a bottle open over his head and be sent home. 

HANNAH G. | 23 | Birmingham, Alabama | Content Creator. Photo via

Hannah Sue Burnett and RF Demeter. Photo by Libby Law.

Hannah G.: RF Demeter

Hannah G. has been a front-funner since episode one. She was given the first-impression rose by Colton, which is a feat considering he had met 25 potential girlfriends in one night. Hannah G. had faded into the background since the first episode (she might have been too nice and boring for the producers to feature). Now, she has re-emerged with a vengeance, and all she and Colton could talk about after their first one-on-one date was their “deep connection” despite only having known each other for a handful of weeks. 

Hannah G’s arc on the show reminds me of RF Demeter. A lovely mare that tries her heart out and always gives 110% no matter what. Demeter is easy in the barn and endears herself to everyone in her life. Similarly, Hannah G. has no beefs with the other girls and, like Demeter, turns in consistent results no matter who she’s paired with. 

CASSIE | 23 | Huntington Beach, California | Speech Pathologist. Photo via

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cassie: RF Scandalous

According to the other girls in the house, Cassie and Colton have had a magnetic attraction since day 1. Cassie has been a top player in the show consistently. A lot of fans have said that Cassie is definitely a front runner for a proposal at the end of this, although I’m sure Colton’s three other girlfriends might have something to say about that. 

RF Scandalous is known for her consistent top form at competitions all over the world. She’s quickly turning into a seasoned pro and is hard to bet against. Cassie also has an advantage over the other girlfriends in that this is not her first reality show. Cassie and Colton’s connection, plus her previous reality TV show experience, makes Cassie a favorite to win. Just like RF Scandalous at any event ever. 

Basically, The Bachelor is fun, trashy TV that we all can enjoy. The one thing we know for sure is any equine mentioned above is great and wonderful and miles better than anyone on this primetime American television show. 

So go enjoy some dumb TV and then go eventing!

Eventing Life Lesson (Brought to You by Harry Potter)

A Thestral model on display in the Harry Potter studio tour at Warner Brothers London. Photo via Creative Commons/Rev Stan/Flickr.

The Harry Potter universe is littered with equine-esque creatures that we all recognize from mythology or folk lore of some kind. I’m talking centaurs, hippogriffs (half-eagle, half-horse, flying creature of legend), unicorns, or Abraxans (the gigantic palomino and winged horses like a Pegasus, but more hardcore since they only drink single-malt whiskey.) These are myths with which we, as a culture, are most familiar.

For me, the most intriguing equines in the Harry Potter universe are the thestrals. Described in book 5 of the series:

“A pair of blank, white, shining eyes were growing larger through the gloom and a moment later the dragonish face, neck and then skeletal body of a great, black, winged horse emerged from the darkness … swishing its long black tail”

There’s no conclusive evidence where exactly the idea of the thestrals came to J.K. Rowling.  The most popular fan theory is the thestrals originated from a Celtic Myth entitled “N’oun Doare.” It’s a story of a prodigal son returning home to his kingdom and having to go through a series of tasks to earn his rightful place on the throne. His tools for the success of the mission include weapons and a fantastical horse that looks like a nag.

As the story goes, the prince can see past the skeletally thin mare and appreciate her for her keen sense of direction, loyalty and magical transportation abilities (whenever a knot on her halter is undone, she transports you 500 leagues instantly). In some translations the mare is called, “The Mare of Doom.” (***GREAT show name alert***).

The hosts of the Binge Mode: Harry Potter podcast, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, sum up the thestrals’ skills as:

“They have incredible sense of smell and direction. Unlike most animals, they can understand exactly where to go, even if just given the destination, rather than specific, step-by-step instructions. They can carry human riders and fly very fast.”

On Pottermore, J.K. Rowling, herself, writes, “While somewhat intimidating in appearance, these carnivorous horses are emblematic of a journey to another dimension, and reward all who trust them with faithfulness and obedience.”

Screenshot: Warner Brothers

Thestrals play a key role in the plot, however their metaphor about beauty and death and grief is one of the most thematically relevant of the entire Harry Potter series. Characters that can see thestrals are some of the most empathetic in the entire series. A key component of the thestrals’ visibility is only people who have seen death AND processed its greater significance can see them. This allows only the most empathetic characters to connect and interact with the winged-beasts.

I think if you asked most people what’s the character of Harry Potter’s greatest strength, then you’d get a myriad of response like: ‘brave,’  ‘loyal to his friends,’ ‘standing up for what is right in the face of evil.’ However, I would argue that Harry’s most powerful attribute is his empathy.  His empathy makes all the aforementioned qualities possible. The thestrals in the Order of the Phoenix really illustrate this concept; their scary, almost demonic, appearance belie an innate gentleness. 

The thestrals are the epitome of beauty and kindness born out of death. Only empathy and acceptance of grief allow people to see and command a thestral. Harry’s embrace of love and empathy makes his grief a tool. It’s almost a superpower against his greatest enemy, Voldemort, a character defined by a fear of death and an apathy to the hurt and suffering of other beings.

I think that J.K. Rowling intentionally chose a horse-like creature to illustrate grief and the metaphor of empathy and vulnerability.

Binge Mode cites the thestrals as, “a signature J.K. Rowling achievement to take something many people think of as fearful and shameful and dirty and wrong, and to say, ‘no’ and say, ‘this is about growth and understanding’.”

A defining feature of the modern equine is dependence on humans, which requires empathy from us, or else we will never fully unlock the wonderful rewards these creatures can bestow in our lives.

All of us must embrace empathy. It’s a crucial tenet to any successful rider. Empathy as a rider allows us to teach our horses in the best way possible. Empathy as an owner means they get the best care. Empathy for our fellow competitor engenders the wonderful community in which we, as eventers, pride ourselves. 

Don’t Waste Your Winter

Esse, the 6 year old stallion of which dreams are made. Photo by Mary-Hollis Baird.

A few years ago, I had a great opportunity to ride some nice horses for a couple months while the owner was out of town. One of the horses was a lovely, inordinately sweet 6-year-old dressage stallion. This horse already knew more about dressage at 6-years-old than I did as an adult two-star event rider. It was an utterly delightful and educational time.

Even being a very mellow stallion, if this guy didn’t do some proper work every once in a while he got a bit frisky. So one day, after warming him up long and low I thought, “Let’s pick this guy up and play a bit.” He was utterly bored with me practicing our trot half-pass. So, as we moved up into canter, I started working renvers on a circle transitioning into a half-pass on the long side … Now at some point I think I actually did the exercise correctly because that stallion’s hind end came powering up underneath him and OMG.

I’ve never felt anything like it, I had access to all the power of this horse at my fingertips. If I’d shifted my hips one way or the other he’d become more collected, or extended, or go left or right, or upside down, or teleport in space and time. It’s like he was just constantly asking me, “What do I do?” and any answer I gave was correct. It was a profound moment of harmony, and I finally understood how people only ride dressage day in and day out.

This story popped into my head the other day when I came across this tweet about the term angle of repose

Essentially the angle of repose is the steepest angle that a collection of loose materials can exist and still maintain stability in the face of a myriad of factors, like gravity, wanting to pull it down and cause chaos. Think of it like a pile of rocks that is fine until a pebble or a gust of wind hits it in just the right way triggers a rock slide.

I feel this is a perfect metaphor for competitors. The gravity and changing environmental factors is the competition trying to destabilize you (the pile of rocks) within the competition. Therefore, the friction binding you and your horses performance together is your training and preparation.

Progressing up the levels require you to build your rock pile higher. For example if you build your partnership to the Preliminary level and then move up to Intermediate, the new challenges are going to easily pull down your Preliminary level rock pile. You have to build up and put in more skills, muscle and training in order to fortify you from all the forces trying to push you over.

It’s hard to stay motivated when you are staring down the barrel of months of cold and mud. So in order to be productive this winter, I’m envisioning that every cold, gross day stuck in the indoor is an opportunity to strengthen my pile of skills for the spring and be able to come out and swing for the fences.

Because only in those boring days of endless transitions and no-stirrup work is how you go on to have the rides like I did on the dressage stallion. A ride where no external factor matters because you have built a rock solid foundation that opens up a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities.

For all those not in California, Ocala, and/or Aiken, stay warm and Go Eventing (in a couple months)!

Off Topic Tuesday: 5 Random and/or Ridiculous Equine Pop Culture References

One of my favorite things when I’m watching a TV show or movie, reading a book, or listening to music is the sometimes random occurrence of a horse. Now, I’m not talking about Mr. Ed, War Horse, The Saddle Club TV show, or one of numerous equine-focused book series. I’m talking about the random pop-up of equines in otherwise-unrelated pop culture.

Usually these instances of random equine stories are a romantic horse and carriage ride and/or a horse poop joke. Yet, there are some pieces of pop culture that feature our favorite animal in utterly odd ways.

Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman is a Netflix, animated, dark comedy about an aging sitcom star, who is an anthropomorphized horse. His hit show in the ’90s was Horsin’ Around, a Full House-esque show about a horseman who adopts three orphans … shenanigans ensue. As this review of Horsin’ Around illustrates, there’s nothing this show likes better than puns.

We all know there's no such things as too many horse puns

Photo credit: Netflix.

“Not to be a neigh-sayer but this family sitcom is so saddled with lame horse-themed puns it might have to be put out to pasture. Ratings remain stable despite the unbridled mediocrity of the acting and hackneyed, half-assed writing. The syrupy plots should be sent straight to the glue factory. If wishes were horses, beggars would beg to watch a different show. Frankly the pony gags tend to yield diminishing returns and the mane attraction of this rodeo is the talented young actress Sarah Lynn, who performance might shine if she were given better material. Skip this season and change the channel to a horse of a different color.”

In a recent season 5 episode, “Bojack the Feminist,” Bojack is going along with a PR strategy for his new show that includes being a ‘male feminist’ wearing a shirt with the slogan “Feminism is Bay” [here’s a primer on the bae meme, for anyone who is behind the internet times].

Photo credit: Netflix.

For being a show that’s literally about a horse, his equine nature doesn’t come up very often. However, there is a whole subplot about him being cast as the eponymous role in the Secretariat biopic.

Chestnut (2 Broke Girls)

Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS.

Bringing up another bay that should be a chestnut … there is a horse character in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls. The premise of the show is obvious in the title. One of the broke girls used to be a rich Manhattan socialite, so obviously she had a horse: a champion jumper named Chestnut (yes, even though he’s bay).

Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS.

Chestnut lives in the middle of Brooklyn, in an apartment courtyard, no matter the weather. The plausibility of the storyline aside (Where does all the manure go? Who is their hay provider? Does he need wormer in the city?), the broke girls love Chestnut and end up finding a more responsible living situation for him later in the series.

Full House finale episode: “Michelle Rides Again”

Over the years there were a few equine stories on Full House, but who could forget the finale episode. For those who weren’t children in the ’90s. the Full House finale featured the youngest Tanner, Michelle (played alternately by the Olsen twins), falling off her pony in the woods instead of competing in the hunter show with her friend.

Michelle ends up having amnesia from the concussion (don’t worry, in true Full House fashion, she regains her memories and everyone is happy).

It’s a bit of a stretch as far as horse storylines go, however, the episode does portray some of the pressure of a horse show well.


A rule I live by is that any pop-culture list must include Beyoncé. She is the ruling queen of American media and must be treated as such. My personal favorite equine-and-Beyoncé moment is the money shot in her “Who Run the World (Girls)” music video…


A gorgeous, rearing, black Friesian … I mean, what little horse-obsessed kid can’t relate to this image of empowerment.

Honorable mention: Science also named a horsefly after Beyonce because of its “spectacular gold color.” Now I know horseflies are not friends of our actual horses, but they are extremely important pollinators for the environment!

Honorable Honorable mention: Bojack Horseman featured a Beyonce and Jay-Zebra pun

Lil Sebastian (Parks and Recreation)

Screenshot: Netflix.

No equine pop culture list would be complete without a mention of Li’l Sebastian. Anyone who has watched the tv show Parks and Recreation will appreciate the grand importance of this miniature horse to the residents of Pawnee, Indiana.

Most of the shows Li’l Sebastian related humor is how everyone absolutely loves him except for the town transplant, Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott).

Li’l Sebastian also gets a song written about him by Andy (played by everyone’s favorite dinosaur wrangler, Chris Pratt).

While this is not a comprehensive list, it’s a few of my favorites. Let me know what random equine occurrences I missed and that you love!
Go Eventing.

Weekend Winners: Twin Rivers, Aspen, Marlborough, Flora Lea, Sundance, Meadowcreek, Cedar Ridge, Loch Moy

Fall eventing has officially begun! Temperatures are starting to slightly drop and days are getting a bit shorter. There were a few Championship divisions and Young and Future Event Horses showing off this weekend — we’ve highlighted those results with asterisks.

Shout out to Courtney Cooper and Caia Z for having the lowest finishing score in the country of 21.9 in the Open Training at Flora Lea H.T.

The next thing you know, the dreaded winter coats will start growing in earnest. Until then, we all can appreciate a lack of intense summer heat and slightly fresher horses in the morning.

Aspen Farms Fall Horse Trials [Results]
Tin Men Supply Advanced: Sabrina Glaser & Rembrandt (45.2)
Intermediate: Marc Grandia & Campari FFF (41)
*Intermediate Championship: Leah Breakey & Master Class (40.1)
Open Preliminary A: Molly Gibbons & Calico (29.6)
Open Preliminary B: Lilly Linder & Tucker Too (28.5)
*Preliminary Championship: Jordan Linstedt & Staccato (28.5)
*Jr. Training Championship: Makenna Henry & Hungarian Villian (31.4)
Open Training A: Tracey Trewin & Film Noir (34.4)
Open Training B: Sara Mackenzie & Cowboy Casanova (32.1)
*Open Training Championship: Erin Grandia & Indio BMW (24.3)
*Training Rider Championship: Madison Langerak & Normandy’s Kivalo (30.9)
*Jr. Novice Championship: Dane Padgett & Little Sure Shot (27.1)
Novice Rider Championship: Jackie Wich & Master Miller (31.9)
Open Novice A: Julia Ellison & Grady (30.7)
Open Novice B: Emilie Everett & Yankee Bay (29.3)
*Open Novice Championship: Lindsey Scharmach & Killswitch (25)
*Jr. Beginner Novice Championship: Makayla Watterson & Foxwood Belle (31.3)
Open Beginner Novice A: Anni Grandia-Dodson & Mr. Fluffy (27.3)
Open Beginner Novice B: Kate Suggs & Dragon Fly (31.8)
*Open Beginner Novice Championship: Sabine Prince & Donnerwein (28.8)

Twin Rivers Fall Horse Trials [Results]
Advanced: Frankie Thieriot Stutes & Chatwin (35.6)
Intermediate: James Alliston & Kilmountain Oreo (38.9)
Jr. Preliminary: Madison Temkin & Dr. Hart (37.4)
Open Preliminary: Alexis Helffrich & M Creme De La Creme SE (31.5)
Preliminary Rider: Kate Lathrop & Worth The Wait (36.5)
Jr. Training Rider A: Maya Clarkson & Snappy Comeback (28.2)
Jr. Training Rider B: Lauren Gillis & Under the Spotlight (23.6)
Open Training: Alexis Helffrich & Dexter (28.5)
Sr. Training Amateur: Camille Brewer & Cooley Rock Star (22.1)
Sr. Training Rider: Debbie Davis & Real Genius (25.2)
Jr. Novice Rider A: Sarah Ross & Murcielago (32.6)
Jr. Novice Rider B: Sloan Bryson & Red Cloud’s War (26.5)
Open Novice: Hannah Warner & Viva Apollo (31)
Sr. Novice Amateur: McKenzie Miller & Another Saturday Night (28.6)
Sr. Novice Rider: Cat Dubbs & Ballynoe Castleross (30.5)
Jr. Beginner Novice A: Halina Thole & Roma (23)
Jr. Beginner Novice B: Mia Boillot & Phoenix Belissima (26)
Open Beginner Novice: Olivia Loiacono & Eloquence (22)
Sr. Beginner Novice Rider: Debbie Fosmark & Larapin II (23.8)
Intro A: Pryce Chrisman & Tahoe Blue (31.7)
Intro B: Reagan Hammond & My Golden Ticket (34.7)
YEH-5: Madison Temkin & MVP Madbum (81.4)
YEH-4: Andrea Baxter & Melkenna (85.6)
FEH-4: Andrea Baxter & Coronado (85)
FEH-3: Michlynn Sterling & Kosmic Twist S (84.3)
FEH-2: Dede McCoy & Iconic (77.0)
FEH-Yr: Earl McFall & High Five DF (84.4)
*West Coast FEH-4 Championship: Andrea Baxter & Coronado (165.5)
*West Coast FEH-3 Championship: Jennifer McFall & Hallelujah DF (180.4)
*West Coast FEH-2 Championship: Earl McFall & Iluminada (88.4)
*West Coast FEH-Yr Championship: Earl McFall & Twain’s Fireflight DF (81.6)

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I am over the moon this weekend was incredible 💙🌙 Roma and I finished on our dressage score of 23% we were tied for 1st the whole show until we broke the tie when it came down to cross country. Our dressage and showjumping felt super good, and she was very trusting in my decisions on cross country today. Thank you tomato for giving me your all this weekend I’m so proud of you💓 – – – Thanks @kk_tasha for the vids🌈 ——————————————————— – – #horse #horsesofinstagram #3dayeventing #eventing #c4belts #areavi #jumping #crosscountry #mare #maresofinstagram #equestrian #dressage #c4equestrian #chestnut #twinrivers #oldenburg #xc #showjumping #tholefarms #kerritsrootd #kerrits #showjumping #jumpers #kasteldenmark #firstplace #beginnernovice #kerritsambassador #jump #showjumper #ariatequestrian #ogilvyequestrian

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Marlborough Horse Trials [Results]
Open Preliminary: Jan Byyny & Volcan de Caverie (27.2)
Preliminary Rider: Morgan Cillo & Benevolence (39.2)
Open Training: Jan Byyny & Kortina (29.3)
Training Rider A: Gabriella Rogers & Epona’s Mighty Warrior (32.6)
Training Rider B: Sofie Harangozo & Rain Dancer (29.5)
Novice Horse: Mary Clare & Furl The Main (35.9)
Novice Rider A: Francoise Marshall & Luray (32.4)
Novice Rider B: Sarah Crocker & Liberty River (26.9)
Open Novice: Ariana Freeman & Piper Saratoga (26.1)
Beginner Novice Horse: Suzy Gehris & Watch Me (31.7)
Beginner Novice Rider A: Hillary Marnane & Diablo Guapo (31.1)
Beginner Novice Rider B: Logan Yff & Mosey On Over (29.7)
Open Beginner Novice: Carley Taylor & Buck Naked (36.8)
Starter A: Lily Wyatt & Bento Box (34.4)
Starter B: Hana Hawthorne & Sonny (31.9)

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Flora Lea Fall Horse Trials [Results]
Open Preliminary: Macee Morgan & Maldini (30.9)
Open Training: Courtney Cooper & Caia Z (21.9)
Training Rider: Amanda Monahan & Slow Heart Break (39.1)
Novice Rider: Stephanie Swites & Clonshire Le Roy (33.6)
Open Novice: Avonlea Mitchell & Red and White (25.2)
Open Beginner Novice: Avery Cascarino & Marine Hymn (28.3)

Sundance Farm Horse Trials [Results]
Preliminary/Training: Brynna Gang & Wise Guy (80.6)
Open Training: Kristin Kubsch & CMF Royal Diamond (30.4)
Jr. Novice Rider: Lily Allen & Cherry On Top (31.9)
Sr. Novice Rider: Jessica Doering & Jax (28.1)
Open Novice: Bernard Morauw & VC ATTILA D’ALLOU (27.6)
Open Beginner Novice: Bonnie Bowman & Steel Driven Dreams (33.2)
Beginner Novice Rider: Rebecca Roth & Brazilian Tommy (33.1)
Starter: Jessie Ackley & Ghost (37.2)

Meadowcreek Park – The Fall Social Event [Results]
Open Preliminary: Lauren Lambert & Cooley Renaissance Man (39.8)
Preliminary/Training: Stephanie Reimers & That’s What She Said (48.3)
Open Training: Camdyn Rahe & Orange Crush (36.6)
Training Rider: Katie Grace Bond & High Class (30.5)
*Novice Championship: Kimberly Stafford & Pik Coeur D’Or (28.0)
Novice Rider: Lawsyn Clements & Russell’s Reserve (23.9)
Open Novice: Jennifer Biles & Bad as Bandini (40.2)
*Beginner Novice Championship: Taylor Tiberg & Valedictorian (28.0)
Jr. Beginner Novice: Grace Thompson & Excessive Assault (34.4)
Sr. Beginner Novice: Julianne Foody & Step Right Up (37.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Rick Urban & Morally Flexible (35.5)
Starter: Aynsleigh Fettig & Aisling Dugan (28.6)

Cedar Ridge Horse Trials [Results]
Open Training: Alicia Harbin & Crowd Signal (35.2)
Open Novice: Kate Coleman & Tallawah (31.9)
Open Beginner Novice A: Harper Holland & Chips Ahoy (37.1)
Open Beginner Novice B: Mary Clare Owdziej & Deal Me In (35.6)
Starter: Aubrey Whalen & Gold Snatcher (40.8)

Loch Moy – Future Event Horse [Results]
FEH-4: Ashley Beheler & Jubilee (75)
FEH-3C: Lauren Welsh & Solo Hit (78.3)
FEH-3F: MaryAnn Luke & SF Rama (74.25)
FEH-2: Jordan LaPlaca & J-Low (77.2)
FEH-Yr: Emeraude Sharer & Knuit d’Emeraude (79.95)

Congrats to all. Go Eventing!

Out of the ‘Horse World’ and Into the ‘Real World’

Mary Hollis Baird galloping racehorses at the track in Ocala. Photo courtesy of Mary Hollis Baird.

Applying for jobs is not fun. It’s even less fun when the only references on your resumé are non-verbal, 1,200-pound quadrupeds.

I recently have made the transition out of the professional “horse world.” I went back to college after riding and working in Ocala for five years. Making the decision to get out of Florida and the professional equine industry for me was scary because all my past experiences and hard work might not matter to anyone else.

The thing about eventing employment, like managing barns and working student gigs, is that you work hard and build a very specific skill-set. Besides being an ace stall-mucker and barn-aisle blower, I gained valuable expertise, like: working in a team environment; training and managing new employees; making clients feel heard and happy. Translating your roster of equine abilities into a resume is not an entirely effortless endeavor.

Photo courtesy of Mary Hollis Baird.

So here are some hopefully useful resumé tips that might help:

1. Use numbers. People don’t always understand equine jargon, but if you can say something like, “Implemented a 30% more efficient daily routine, allowing our team to maximize the time in our day,” that’s just a fancy way of saying I saved time by keeping the horses in for the morning while we rode and then turning them out in the afternoon. It’s all about utilizing your vocabulary to get noticed.

Another way to use numbers is by assessing a value to the horses to help future employers understand the responsibility that you were tasked with everyday. For example, an ex-working student for a high performance barn in Ocala could say, “Provided daily care for 10 sport horses ranging in value from $10,000-$80,000.”

2. Brag! Don’t be shy about trying to impress people; for example, if you worked for an Olympic athlete, mention that! It connotes a level of competency into a context that non-equine professionals can understand.

3. Skills are skills are skills are skills. You can highlight soft skills on your resumé. Sometimes these will get you more traction with an employer than specific industry experience. For instance:

  • Any good horse show groom is a whiz at time management.
  • Managing an eventing barn makes you adopt effective organizational practices.
  • Motivating and directing your fellow barn workers is the same as working with any employees at other organizations.

4. References! You will need them, but definitely give people you are asking for references from a heads up. Horse people can be wonderful and charismatic; however, they might not quite realize what your future employer needs or wants to hear about you. Brief your references on the types of positions you are applying for and what you’d prefer them to convey — this way they are more prepared for the nature of questions that might be asked of them about you.

Having an out of the box resumé can be so helpful. Employers will notice you, it’s your job to make sure they notice the right things.

Good luck and Go Eventing (on the weekends because you have a real job now)!

Photo courtesy of Mary Hollis Baird.