Sally Spickard
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Sally Spickard

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About Sally Spickard

Living the dream as a professional internet stalker and EN reporter.

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Thursday Video: Breaking Down a Cross Country School with Jon Holling

If you haven’t caught up with Jon Holling’s new YouTube show, The Long and Short of It, you’re missing out. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned when professional riders take the time to break down their technique and training philosophies. In the newest episode, Jon breaks down a recent cross country school with Pioneer Archibald, a 9 year old British Sport Horse gelding owned by Jon and Rita Dann who has competed through the Preliminary level.

Setting a training session up so that the horse can properly understand a question is a recipe for success. Jon starts off this video by walking viewers through how he broke down a corner combination for “Archie” to better understand, then moving on to a coffin question.

Another concept Jon addresses is “early season rust”, which no doubt many of our readers can understand. Patience and a quiet ride go a long way with these moments. “One of the best things you can do with schooling anything is repetition,” Jon explained, showing Archie’s progression through repeating a question at which he had a couple of greener moments.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Jon’s channel here for more videos, both fun and informative. We appreciate these types of resources that are invaluable for riders of all levels to consume.

Volunteer Nation: An Event on Each Coast in Need of Help This Weekend

Distracted by sugar cubes and snuggles, most horses don’t notice when Kris checks their bit. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Time to strap up your volunteering boots, EN! We have an event on each coast this weekend, both in need of some extra hands. It’s a great time of year to start putting some volunteer hours in the bank for the USEA’s Volunteer Incentive Program. As always, you can also peruse EventingVolunteers.com for opportunities coming up in your area.

This weekend also marks the first Rocking Horse Winter Horse Trials of the season, and you can visit this link or the show office to inquire about volunteer opportunities in Altoona, Florida.

Event: Fresno County Horse Park January CT
Date(s) volunteers needed: Saturday, January 25 through Sunday, January 26
Address: 7430 North Weber Avenue, Fresno, CA, 93726
Positions available: Dressage Bit Check, Dressage Crossing Guard, Dressage Steward, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Timer

Event: Full Gallop Farm January Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Sunday, January 26
Address: 3828 Wagener Rd, Aiken, SC, 29805
Positions available: XC Finish Timer, XC Jump Judge, XC Warm-up, Dressage Bit Check, Dressage Scribe, Dressage Steward, Hospitality Helper, Floater, SJ In Gate, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Scribe, SJ Steward

First Look at Entries for the $50,000 MARS Eventing Showcase in Wellington

2015 Wellington Eventing Showcase winners: Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo by Jenni Autry.

We’re pleased to bring you the first official look at the entry list and details for the upcoming $50,000 MARS Eventing Showcase to be held February 8-9 at the Global Dressage Facility in Wellington, Florida. The 32 invited riders will bring forward a maximum of two horses each to compete in a condensed three-phase format that returns to Wellington after a two-year hiatus.

You may recall former hat-trick champion Boyd Martin winning in thrilling fashion during the three years that this Showcase initially ran — will see see another win for Boyd? Or will a new champion be crowned following cross country on Sunday?

The MARS Eventing Showcase will kick off with dressage on Saturday, February 8 and conclude with show jumping followed by cross country on Sunday, February 9.

Admission is free to the public. For those wanting a true hospitality experience, Wellington style, there are VIP tickets and packages up for grabs at this link. Options are available for both single seats/single days as well as tables and full-spectrum VIP experiences. The Showcase could also use a couple more volunteers, which is a truly great opportunity for someone to experience an entirely different style of eventing — sign up at EventingVolunteers.com. We also hear that Tom Crisp is still on the hunt for an Advanced horse to take around — let us know if you have a line on a good catch ride!

Take a look at the current entry list below. Remember that riders may only bring forward a maximum of two horses, and this list is subject to change. We’ll also be on the ground in Wellington bringing you up-to-the-minute action, so stay tuned for much more. Go Eventing!

Jennie Brannigan USA I Bella
Hannah-Sue Burnett USA Lukeswell
Katherine Coleman USA Monte Classico
William Coleman USA Don Dante
William Coleman USA Off the Record
Charlotte Collier USA Clifford M
Hallie Coon USA Celien
Tom Crisp GBR
Buck Davidson USA Carlevo
Buck Davidson USA Erroll Gobey
Cornelia Dorr USA Sir Patico MH
Phillip Dutton USA Fernhill Singapore
Phillip Dutton USA Z
Lucienne Elms GBR
Sarah Ennis IRL
Jacob Fletcher USA
William Fox-Pitt GBR
Clayton Fredericks AUS FE Money Made
Ariel Grald USA Leamore Master Plan
Sara Gumbiner USA Polaris
Liz Halliday-Sharp USA Cooley Quicksilver
Liz Halliday-Sharp USA Deniro Z
Lillian Heard USA LCC Barnaby
Holly Jacks-Smither CAN More Inspiration
Lauren Kieffer USA Veronica
Sara Kozumplik-Murphy USA Devil Munchkin
Sara Kozumplik-Murphy USA Rubens D’ysieux
Marilyn Little USA RF Scandelous
Anna Loschiavo USA Prince Renan
Boyd Martin USA Long Island T
Boyd Martin USA Luke 140
Boyd Martin USA On Cue
Boyd Martin USA Tsetserleg
Joe Meyer NZL Clip Clop
Joe Meyer NZL Johnny Royale
Selena O’Hanlon CAN Foxwood High
Doug Payne USA Vandiver
Doug Payne USA Quantum Leap
Waylon Roberts CAN Lancaster
Lynn Symansky USA Under Suspection
Lynn Symansky USA RF Cool Play – Test Ride
Sharon White USA Cooley On Show
Ryan Wood AUS Rembrandt
Ryan Wood AUS Powell

How to Follow the FEI Eventing Risk Management Seminar and Forum

Photo by FEI/Richard Juilliart.

What does the next decade look like for the sport of eventing? This is a main topic of discussion on the agenda for the 2020 FEI Eventing Risk Management Seminar and Forum, taking place January 24-26 at Aintree Racecourse in Great Britain. Several of the nearly 150 delegates attending, a mix of officials, organizers, safety officers, course designers, and federation representatives, are from the U.S., and the FEI will be providing a free live stream of all three days of the seminar beginning tomorrow.

Some of the agenda items that will be discussed over the next few days include:

Public perception of the sport
Risk Management Data Review
Safety Program Update
Course Design
Rule Changes (and this is sure to be a hot button topic, with the updated flag rule on the table for discussion)

Our U.S. delegates include Erik Duvander, U.S. National Safety Officer Jon Holling, David O’Connor, Marilyn Payne, and many more. This is a great opportunity to have a view of the real and impactful changes to the sport, and we encourage you to visit the live streams each day to learn about the direction in which the sport is heading.

You can view/save the live stream links for each day below.

FEI Eventing Risk Management Seminar: Agenda

A Little Something Extra: How Nupafeed Can Make a Difference for Your Horse

Allison Springer and Business Ben. Photo by Abby Powell.

You’re running late. You were supposed to be tacked up and warming up for your dressage test 10 minutes ago, and you’re just now getting to the show after a messy morning trying to get the kids to school and the dog corralled in the car. Your stress levels are high — your coach hates it when you’re late, your horse is filthy from using manure as a pillow, and you can’t find your stock tie. You take a few deep breaths, attempting to calm yourself, but your nerves and adrenaline are already so high that it seems impossible to slow your racing heart and operate like a normal, functioning human. It’s just 10 minutes, you scream at yourself, it’s not the end of the world! Calm down!

But it doesn’t work. No matter how much you berate yourself for being late and attempt that deep breathing trick your yoga-instructor Facebook friend suggested, nothing seems to work. Your test isn’t a great one, marred by little mistakes and tension. Surely we’ve all been in a similar situation at one point or another — and so have our horses.

Think of the last time you were stressed or nervous beyond belief. Now think of how your horse feels when they experience a similar feeling. As we all know, once a horse is nervous and excited, there isn’t a lot that can be done to bring them back down short of lunging them for an hour and hoping not to die. But there could be another explanation for tension or nerves from your horse: magnesium deficiency. And a horse that has a magnesium deficiency may find it difficult to focus, calm down, or not spook at the trailer they’ve walked by a hundred times. What’s the answer?

Enter Nupafeed.

There are many schools of thought on the efficacy of using supplements as a part of an event horse’s routine. Personally, I’ve always been a bit on the cautious side with a preference to feed horses as naturally as possible to allow their bodies to function as they’re designed to. However, just as a human athlete may supplement their program with shrewdly chosen supplements, it’s much the same with horses. Sometimes, we just need that little extra “something” to help us reach that next level and set our horses up for success.

The more we as horse owners and advocates can understand about what we’re putting in our horses’ bodies, the better off we will all be. It’s our responsibility to conduct our due diligence before making a decision, and having a strong understanding of what each individual horse needs is imperative. I wanted to understand more about how Nupafeed works and what makes these supplements different from their counterparts offered by other brands. Here’s what I learned.

Nupafeed is competition and FEI legal. This is one of the first questions a horse owner needs to ask when deciding whether or not to incorporate a new supplement or dietary aid. You need not worry about the use of Nupafeed’s supplements, as the ingredients are not a part of any
banned substances list.

Nupafeed’s Magnesium supplement is comprised of a compound called MAH (magnesium – aspartate – hydrochloride), which is a more refined, pharmaceutical grade that is absorbed at a much higher rate than other forms of magnesium commonly found in other supplements. The supplements are also in liquid form for easy dressing on top of grain, which also aids in higher absorption rates.

Screenshot via NupafeedUSA.com.

Magnesium deficiency in horses can manifest as physical signs such as muscle soreness, spooky or erratic behavior, and nervousness. Correcting this imbalance helps prevent adrenaline rushes and muscle tension, allowing the horse to focus more on the task at hand. Horses burn magnesium when stressed, so in theory the more tense and stressed a horse is, the more magnesium their bodies are burning through.

If your horse needs an energy or performance boost, Nupafeed has an answer for that, too. Most riders have likely heard of Nupafeed’s Magnesium supplement, but they may not know that the brand also carries an “equine energy supplement” in the form of an L-carnitine liquid. This supplement is unique in that it assists with the metabolism of fat (therefore contributing to an increase in energy) and the reduction of lactic acid (which is great for event horses), but it also contains the aforementioned MAH that acts as a balancer so that the horses do not also become “hot.”

Using Nupafeed smartly can help prime your horse for optimal performance. No one likes to go to work stressed, and this applies to your horse as well. Results from the initial loading dose of Nupafeed’s daily Magnesium liquid can typically be seen in just a few days. Need a shorter term option? Both the Magnesium and the L-carnitine are also available in concentrate oral tubes designed to be given before their effects are needed, such as at a show.

Nerves and tension are a normal part of competition, but some horses may need an extra boost to defy their biological response to certain stressors. By honing in specifically on their products without offering too many choices, Nupafeed has built a reputation for having simply made products whose effects are widely known and trusted for providing a bit of extra help without sacrificing integrity.

New Year, New Fox-Pitt Eventing Video Series

Fox-Pitt Equestrian

We have been working on an exciting project as there is never enough horsey stuff on TV, so we thought we would tell you more of the stories behind Fox-Pitt Equestrian and Wood Lane Stables. Hope you enjoy it!Subscribe so you don't miss all the updates coming throughout the year http://www.foxpittequestrian.tv/2TheBarn Albion Saddlemakers Co. Ltd Ariat Cub Cadet UK Charles Owen Airowear Chatham Footwear Equestrian Surfaces Equine R-oil Equilibrium Products Equistro France Flex-on Haygain Horseware Jeep UK Jump 4 Joy Mojoeurope Musto Equitop Boehringer Ingelheim NAF Nyetimber Wines Spillers Weleda

Posted by Fox-Pitt Eventing on Monday, January 20, 2020

We truly can’t get enough of the “behind the scenes” type of content that some riders release, and we’re thrilled to say that Fox-Pitt Eventing has jumped onboard and will be offering a newly rebranded video series this season. With the intent of telling more stories from Fox-Pitt Eventing and its home base in Dorset, Wood Lane Stables, this exciting new series aims to document the upcoming season (we hear William is aiming for a little event called Badminton) as well as provide helpful advice on caring for event horses and their stables.

You can read up on the latest as the Fox-Pitt team looks ahead to the 2020 season in this blog. For North American fans and followers, some exciting news: it looks like we’ll be seeing William competing in both the Wellington (Feb 8-9) as well as the Aiken Eventing Showcase.

Eventing fans will want to subscribe to the new Fox-Pitt Eventing channel by clicking here. There is already some excellent content up for viewing, from a “meet the team” video to top tips from pro groom Jackie Potts. We can’t wait to see what other beautifully produced content is coming down the pipe, and we’ll be sure to share videos right here on EN as well.

Learning Opportunities of a Lifetime at Annual Galway Downs Fundraiser Clinic

It was a weekend for learning at Galway Downs in Temecula, California with the 21st annual fundraiser clinic featuring multiple top flight clinicians as well as Ian Stark himself teaching eager riders of all levels. Thanks to the wetter winter season, Galway Downs was looking quite grassy and green, and there’s nothing much better than the first proper cross country school of the year to open the pipes for the new season.

Each year, Galway Downs puts on a fundraiser clinic intended to raise funds for the upcoming season. Thanks to multiple facility upgrades and improvements from the Galway Downs crew led by Robert Kellerhouse, this venue has become one of the premier spots for eventing in Area VI, thanks in large part to the support from both the supporting coaches as well as the students who come to learn from them.

We rounded up some of the best Instagram posts from the weekend, where riders were given the opportunity to choose any clinician from the roster upon sign up. Many of these riders will return in two weeks’ time for the first recognized event of the season (click here for event information if you plan to attend!).

View this post on Instagram

1st video from galway. what a BEAST.

A post shared by Jena 💃 (@jenatiffy) on

Going #4xFAR for Equestrian Sports

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Tamie Smith make friends with the locals at the 4xFAR Festival in Coachella, California. Photo courtesy of Tamie Smith.

Horses + music festivals + outdoor adventure + beautiful cars = an epic, Instagram-worthy weekend. The latest festival to hit the scene, 4xFAR, is an adventurous one, and presenting sponsor Land Rover had the idea to bring in some equestrian big guns to showcase the sport at the music and outdoor adventure festival held in Coachella Valley, California at the beautiful Empire Grand Oasis resort this past weekend. Tapped to represent US Equestrian were eventers Frankie Thieriot Stutes with her five-star partner, The Chatwin Group and Elizabeth Thieriot’s Chatwin, as well as Tamie Smith, who brought along MB Group LLC’s MB MaiStein for the adventure.

This festival was aimed at the outdoors-loving attendee, featuring activities such as rock climbing, axe throwing, and survival skills. Meanwhile, brave Frankie and Tamie showed off survival skills of their own aboard Onewheel hoverboards:

The pair of riders also gave some riding demos and were on hand for fan interaction throughout the day. It was a great opportunity to feature equestrian sports alongside other mainstream entertainment and activities. “The festival had all different types of outdoor sports. The US ski team was there demoing a virtual downhill ski simulator as well as goggles that can record your course and playback at speed,” Tamie said. “The food was great and they had concerts playing throughout the day and night. We even both rock climbed and got Jim Wolf and Erik Duvander on the Onewheel.”

Front row, anyone? Courtesy of Frankie Thieriot Stutes.

“Chatwin was an ultimate pro but ‘Rocky’ quickly got with the scene and soaked in all of the attention from the spectators,” Tamie continued. “I’m pretty sure he slept all day after his big weekend. It was awesome exposure and great to see all of the amazing Land Rovers! I think the staff said there were over 10,000 people there and they thought the horses were the best part! It was a great way to give back to Land Rover and support such a wonderful company that does so much for Eventing!”

Creative marketing and exposure is the name of the game for any sport, and this was a perfect opportunity to bring together multiple sports supported by Land Rover to give more people the opportunity to become lifelong fans. “The Land Rover 4xFAR festival was a really fun experience for the horses and us,” Frankie commented. “It was a blast getting to participate in all of the other activities taking place there and also getting to show case our sport and interact with the public to tell them about Eventing.”

Sign me up for the next one — I just need a flower crown. Go Eventing!

In Memory of Steve Blauner

Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

We are devastated to report that longtime eventing supporter Steve Blauner has passed away. Steve needs little introduction to the eventing world, on which he has left a lasting legacy. A founding member of the Event Owners Task Force and the MARS Bromont Rising Program, among many other endeavors, Steve was a staunch supporter and owner for several riders. We have truly lost one of the greatest lights in our sport, and Steve will be sorely missed.

The USEF has released the following statement:

The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation and US Equestrian are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Steve Blauner, a valued USET Foundation trustee and longtime owner for U.S. Eventing Team High Performance Athletes Boyd Martin and Doug Payne.

A dedicated proponent of the syndicate ownership model, he owned six horses through syndicates that represented the U.S. at the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games. An amateur rider himself, Steve also supported up-and-coming eventing athletes both as an owner and through launching the MARS Bromont Rising Program, which provides training and educational opportunities for under-25 athletes.

Steve was a motivated and engaged member of the equestrian community, continuously working to enhance visibility and exposure for the discipline of eventing, as well as ensuring other owners and supporters of the sport were involved with the USET Foundation and its mission. He was also a cornerstone of the equestrian community in Millbrook, New York, and instrumental in running the Millbrook Horse Trials.

A true servant of equestrianism, Steve was a member of the USET Foundation Benefit Committee, the USEF Event Owners Task Force, and greatly contributed to the success of U.S. High Performance Teams. The USET Foundation and US Equestrian send their deepest condolences to Ken Shelley, Steve’s partner, his family and friends. He will be deeply missed.

[USET Foundation and US Equestrian Saddened by Loss of Longtime Eventing Supporter Steve Blauner]

Thursday Video: Relive the Top 15 Equestrian Moments of 2019

To look back through some of the most important moments in equestrian sport last year is to take a veritable trip down memory lane. The FEI has rounded up their top 15 moments from the year and put them into one highlight reel for us to look back on, and several eventing moments are represented. Mark Todd’s retirement, Oliver Townend’s Kentucky win, and Ingrid Klimke’s defense of her European title all made the top honors for best moments of the year.

Enjoy this look back at some memorable moments, and here’s to creating even more of these in 2020! Go Eventing.

Like a Fine Wine: Lauren Kieffer Enjoys the Ride with Veronica

Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The golden years of an event horse are often challenging to navigate. In many cases, a horse accustomed to competing at the intense top levels finds themselves bored or stir-crazy when it comes time to take a step back. Like other elite athletes, these horses crave a job, something to do or fight for.

When it comes time for an upper level horse to retire, several options are brought forth: show the ropes to a young or less experienced rider, live out your days in a pasture or as a babysitter, or step down to a lower level and revel in the joy that comes with the cross country adrenaline rush. Option C is what Team Rebecca LLC and the Broussard family’s Veronica has chosen, and at 18 years young with Lauren Kieffer in the irons we saw the Dutch mare return to competition this past weekend after an injury sidelined her for 18 months.

Lauren felt her heart sink when the mare, who carried her to two USEF National Champion finishes at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and 23 other FEI starts throughout her career, took an off step on cross country at Maryland Horse Trials in 2018. Luckily, Lauren says, her world-class team of vets and caregivers ensured that “Troll” never wanted for a thing during her time off. The team took painstaking measures to bring the mare back to health without rush or agenda. “Her owners Team Rebecca and the Broussard family never question what needs to be done for their horses,” Lauren said. “We took so long rehabbing her — hours of long walks, and once she started trotting we only added 30 seconds every couple days.”

Of course, one option was a full retirement, but Veronica made it clear that she felt nowhere close to her age and preferred to have a job. So Lauren explored some options, testing out the concept of giving the reins to another rider for some easy lower level work. “She was just horrible,” Lauren joked. “She just loves to compete, and I think I’m the only person who actually enjoys riding her. So I’m just enjoying it and letting her tell us what she wants to do.”

Lauren isn’t sure who had more fun out competing again at Majestic Oaks in the Open Preliminary division, her or Veronica. “It was kind of like putting on your favorite old sweatshirt,” she reflected. Above all, Lauren’s thankful for the doors the otherwise unassuming brown mare has opened for her. “She took me to my first overseas trips and gave me an invaluable amount of experience.”

Lauren has no plans to aim for the top level again with the mare; for her, these events are an opportunity to slip on her favorite sweatshirt and enjoy the partnership she’s built with a horse that is by no means an easy ride. It’s a rewarding feeling, surely, to be able to just enjoy the sport — no pressure, no expectations, just pure joy. We think you’ll see that joy plainly in these videos taken by our friend The Horse Pesterer. Welcome back, Veronica!

Volunteer Nation: These 4 Events Need Help This Weekend

Prepped and ready to scribe… Photo by
Claire O’Dell.

Just like that, we’re nearly back in the full swing of eventing season. Hope you’re ready, EN! We’ve got four events lined up this weekend that are in need of some additional assistance from volunteers. Don’t forget, you can always check out EventingVolunteers.com to find an event close to you and sign up early. And don’t forget to tag us on social media with your volunteering photos so that we can give you a shout out! Let’s take a look at the events needing help this weekend:

Event: Grand Oaks January Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 17 through Sunday, January 19
Address: 3000 Marion County Road, Weirsdale, FL, 32195
Positions available: XC Decorator, Dressage Bit Check, Dressage In Gate Steward, Dressage Score Runner, Dressage Scribe, Dressage Warm Up, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Warm Up, XC Crossing Guard, XC Jump Judge, XC Warm Up, SJ Jump Crew

Event: Stable View Opener Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 17 through Sunday, January 19
Address: 117 Stable Dr, Aiken, SC, 29801
Positions available: XC Steward, Hospitality Helper, Pooper-Scooper, XC Jump Judge, Dressage Warm Up, Parking Large Trailers, SJ In Gate

Event: Pine Hill GHCTA Schooling Show
Date(s) volunteers needed: Saturday, January 18 through Sunday, January 19
Address: 1720 Hwy 159 East, Bellville, TX, 77418
Positions available: XC Jump Judge, XC Score Runner, Parking Steward, Scoring Steward

Event: January Western Dressage at the Florida Horse Park
Date(s) volunteers needed: Saturday, January 18 through Sunday, January 19
Address: 11008 S Highway 475, Ocala, FL, 34480
Positions available: Dressage Scribe

Whisper Words of Wisdom: The Quiet Confidence of Renée Kalkman

Renée Kalkman and Qupid at Rebecca Farm. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kerschbaumer.

I was camped out in front of the TV last summer, all settled in to watch the live stream from Rebecca Farm generously provided by our friends at Ride On Video. A Canadian rider with whom I was unfamiliar stood quietly in the start box for the CCI3*-L aboard a striking chestnut horse. The horse pricked his ears, looking steadily around but containing his excitement. The rider reached down and gave her horse a hug, quietly leaving her hand on his neck while she whispered into his ear. Seconds later, they were kicking away and out to tackle the cross country.

A few months later, I watched the same rider do the same thing in the start box at Woodside Horse Trials. This intrigued me. Of course, we all talk to our horses in the start box. But her quiet manner and the way her horses stood in the box, one ear cocked back to listen, stuck with me. So as any reporter would, I sought her out on Facebook and followed her. And what I found was a story worth its weight in inspirational gold.

Renée and her father, Arie Kalkman. Photo courtesy of Renée Kalkman.

You have to zoom in close on the map of vast British Columbia, Canada to locate Renée Kalkman’s hometown of Fort St. John. A town of just over 20,000 spanning just 13 miles in area, Fort St. John isn’t exactly an eventer’s paradise. Renee, 19, says she’s one of just two eventers in the area — the rest of the equestrian community consists mostly of ropers or other Western riders.

Growing up, Renée caught the horse bug from her father, Arie Kalkman, who alongside her mother, Diana, immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands before Renee was born.

“My father always loved animals and wanted horses around,” Renée recalls. “Shortly after they moved to Canada, my dad got some Quarter Horses and would take them out on his fly fishing trips.”

Renée has fond memories of riding in the front of her dad’s Western saddle, blazing trails together as he would whisper tidbits of sage advice in her ear. “Soft hands.” “Don’t pull.”

As her riding progressed, Renée soon discovered her passion for eventing. A blue eyed, dappled gray Arab cross named El TiVo would be her first eventing mount. Unlikely as it may have seemed, “TiVo” went on to carry Renée to her first international starts, including a trip to NAJYRC in 2015.

El TiVo showing his scope. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Eventually, Renée needed a mount that would suit the upper levels a bit better. After a few different horses, each leaving a lasting lesson in her toolbox, Renèe and her family acquired Qupid, a 2006 Thoroughbred gelding who had not only raced but had also gone through the chuck wagon circuit before finding his way to her.

Chuck wagon racing isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s also not for many horses. When “Q” came to Renée, he was broken, both mentally and physically. She released him into his new pen, where he would stand for hours in the corner, the light completely gone from his eyes. He was also older than many prospective event horses typically are when they begin their retraining; at nine years old, Renée knew she had a long climb to get her new project to a healthy place where he could embrace his new job.

“He was a troubled soul,” Renée says. “His body condition had completely regressed, he was covered in bite marks, and it took a long time for him to begin trusting people again.”

Renée says Qupid has been one of the most challenging horses to figure out, given his nervousness and his sensitivity to noise from his chuck wagon days. But once she began working more closely with the gelding, she found that he wanted so badly to be soft, kind, and quiet. Through patience and kindness, Renée has produced Qupid now through the Advanced level — in fact, he would become the first horse to take her around an Advanced track, at Twin Rivers in the fall of last year.

Renée Kalkman and Flame Eternal at Rebecca Farm. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Moving up to Advanced and completing multiple CCI3* events with two self-produced horses (Renée also has another Thoroughbred, Flame Eternal, with whom she’s working away at the international levels) is no small feat. It’s even more impressive when you factor in her gritty, do-it-yourself lifestyle.

Growing up, and even today, Renée didn’t have much in the way of access to training. Instead, she says, she’s spent countless hours studying in order to improve her riding. Her father spent time auditing any clinics or lessons she participated in and studied right alongside her, so as to better serve as his daughter’s eyes on the ground when she needed them. Renée says she’s a huge fan of watching live streams and videos of riders she admires — there is always something to be learned, a lesson to take home.

“I was always that kid at the warm-up who liked to sit there on a bench for hours watching the riders work,” she says. “I loved watching them work through problems and seeing how they approach questions. I’d take what I saw home and try things, keeping track of any improvements I felt.”

At one point, Renée and Arie would hitch up the trailer and head out for a seven hour road trip for dressage lessons once a week with Casey Dermott. Throughout high school, Renée was also a competitive speed skater. Typical days consisted of school, skating practice, followed by hauling the horses to the local arena to ride. Those nights, it would be after midnight when she and Arie would get back to the house.

Does Renée wish for a bigger equestrian community, more access to coaching and support? Maybe a little. But mostly, she values the sense of self-sufficiency and confidence that she’s cultivated.

“Part of me definitely wishes I lived in a bigger riding community or closer to events and shows,” she says. “Coming back here after competing in California alongside others who have the same goals is wonderful, and sometimes I do feel like I’m a bit isolated up here. Relying on a coach is good, but at the end of the day you have to be confident that you know the answer to the question. I think it really makes you more accountable to your horse when you’re the one pulling the train.”

Photo via Renée Kalkman.

Renée credits both her father as well as her longtime coach growing up, Robin Hahn, for instilling much of the foundational knowledge that she’s built on. She understands the value of dressage — a skill that doesn’t come as naturally to her Thoroughbreds — and makes every effort to stay in communication with Casey Dermott, who will often “coach” Renée through text or video.

In 2019, Renée was selected to be a part of the inaugural Bromont Rising program. The travel grant she received enabled her to make the trek to contest the CCI3*-L with Flame Eternal, who Renée says is freakish in talent. The chestnut gelding is nine this year, and Renèe has big plans penciled in as she continues to dream of one day competing at the CCI5* level.

Renée and her father drove for five days, crossing Canada, to Quebec for Bromont. A clear cross country round had her nearly in tears as she felt all of her hard work and sacrifice paying off. She says she wishes they’d gone a bit faster, but that will come in time.

As a part of Bromont Rising, Renée was invited to attend a dinner with keynote speakers Boyd Martin and Jessica Phoenix. During his speech, Boyd said something that resonated deeply with Renée: “You cannot be normal if you want to be exceptional.”

“Everyone giggled a bit when he said this, but then I thought about the true meaning of what he was saying and it really connected with me,” Renée recalls.

With horses she’s produced herself, self-taught, mostly self-coached, and very self-motivated, she holds on to Boyd’s words as daily inspiration. But at the end of the day, she says, looking out for and doing right by her horses is her biggest goal. She knows how much they give us every day, asking for nothing in return.

Which is why you’ll always see her, in every start box, whispering words of gratitude in her horse’s ears. Perhaps she whispers some reminders taken from the hours spent in the saddle with her father. One quiet moment, and then a kick away to chase those flags.

100 Days Until Kentucky! Have You Started Planning Yet?

Chris and Billy out of the Head of the Lake at Kentucky. Photo by Miranda Akins/Photography In Stride.

If you’re in need of some motivation to get you through the next few months of winter, allow us to provide it: we’re just 100 days away from the 2020 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian!

The #BestWeekendAllYear is one that an eventer (or a horse person, period) should tick off their bucket list at least once. Soon to be joined by North America’s second CCI5* event in Maryland later this year, the Kentucky Three-Day has a rich history as one of the premier CCI5* events in the world.

But a trip to Kentucky takes some logistical planning! If you’re eyeing a trip to the Bluegrass State in April, you’ll want to go ahead and get a jump on your planning now. We’ve rounded up some helpful links for you to peruse. Tickets are already on sale, and hotels book up quickly so our best advice is to book as much of your trip now as you possibly can. Looking for more tips on attending Kentucky? Keep an eye out for a first-timer’s guide for all the nuts and bolts to making it a memorable weekend.

Kentucky Three-Day Event Ticket Sales
Hospitality Packages
Kentucky Three-Day FAQ
VRBO Vacation Rentals
AirBNB

Will we see you in Kentucky in April, EN? Comment with your plans! We’ll see you at the Kentucky Horse Park, April 23-26, for what’s sure to be the #BestWeekendAllYear.

Nupafeed Weekend Winners: Kicking Off 2020 at Majestic Oaks

We’re back with the first edition of Weekend Winners for the new year! This weekend, the American eventing season officially kicked off at Majestic Oaks in Reddick, Florida where riders knocked off the rust and opened the pipes from the Starter through Preliminary levels. Majestic Oaks has initiated a point system and prize money to encourage competitors to come back for their March event. A total of $4,125 is on the line for riders who meet qualifications — and this goes for riders at all levels! Prize money is awarded to the winning rider/horse combinations after the conclusion of the March Horse Trials.

We’ve got a special treat from the weekend, as friend of EN Lisa Madren was on the ground at Majestic Oaks with her camera in hand. Scroll down for a full winner gallery from all divisions. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the results and social media from the first official eventing weekend of 2020:

Majestic Oaks H.T. [Website] [Final Scores]

Open Preliminary: Caroline Martin and Cheranimo (29.0)
Preliminary Rider: Samantha Tinney and Glenbrook Cooley (29.0)
Open Training A: Leslie Law and Rock On Cooley (20.5)
Open Training B: Andrea Davidson and Victor B Z (25.7)
Training Rider: Catherine Shu and 24 Karat Fernhill (31.0)
Novice Rider: Ellie Celarek and FWF Princess Shatka (26.9)
Open Novice A: Will Zuschlag and Lincara TWF (22.1)
Open Novice B: Kelly Prather and Southern Chrome (26.7)
Beginner Novice Rider: Gillian Matheson and Imagine That (31.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Caroline Martin and Redfield Galwaybay HSH (21.8)
Starter: Jamie Bassett and Master Higgins (30.2)

Thursday Video from Professional’s Choice: The Madden Method for Blanketing

We have a special edition of Beezie and John Madden’s popular video series, “The Madden Method” for you today, EN! Even the more casual show jumping followers will likely recognize the name Authentic. Best known for helping Beezie win two Olympic medals (2004 and 2008) and two WEG medals (2006), countless Grand Prixs, and Horse of the Year honors on multiple occasions, the KWPN gelding is a world famous name who currently lives in well-deserved retirement on “Madden Mountain” in Cazenovia, New York. And in this latest video, Authentic is the star of the show as the resident field horse/young horse babysitter.

To blanket or not to blanket — it’s the age old debate that horse owners muddle over each winter. There are several schools of thought on the concepts of blanketing and clipping, and of course there is a horse’s natural body chemistry to factor in as well. This is where Madden head girl Becky Huestis focuses the latest Madden Method video. Becky takes us through the ins and outs of horse’s winter coats, clipping, and blanketing throughout the winter. If you haven’t watched any of the Madden Method videos, we highly recommend them, not only for the tips and advice but also for the great explanation of the “why” behind the method.

Becky also lists out some best practices for field horses in the winter as well as tips for managing their comfort both inside and out during colder temperatures. Bookmark this and be sure to check out the rest of the Madden Method videos here.

Volunteer Nation: We’re Back!

From the the Marlborough Horse Trials Facebook page: “Getting our volunteers started young! Big th anks to these pony clubbers (and more) for helping with jump painting today! We ❤️our volunteers!”

It’s just about time for eventing season to start fresh — and that means there are opportunities aplenty for volunteering and helping your local event thrive. Since the launch of the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) in 2015, volunteers have had the ability to keep track of their hours in order to be eligible for local and national awards. In 2019, over 45,000 volunteer hours from over 3,000 volunteers were recorded at events around the country. Can we grow that number even more in 2020?

With this in mind, I challenge all of you to step up and volunteer this year. It’s tough in our sport to find the time — we know eventers are a busy bunch. But consider helping with set-up in the days before an event, help with tear down in the mornings or evenings, or simply reach out to the event’s volunteer coordinator if you’re unsure how you can help. And don’t forget, you can always see available positions (and sign up for them) on EventingVolunteers.com, which is where you can track your time. Each week here on EN, we’ll round up the events in need of help for the coming weekend — but it’s never too early to plan ahead! Let’s get those volunteer spots filled this weekend — here are two events that could use a hand:

Event: Majestic Oaks Recognized Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Today through Sunday, January 12
Address: 17500 N US Highway 441, Reddick, FL, 32686
Positions available: SJ Jump Crew, XC Jump Judge, Crossing Guard

Event: Carolina Horse Park Pipe Opener I
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 10 through Saturday, January 12
Address: 2814 Montrose Rd., Raeford, NC, 28376
Positions available: Event Prep – SJ, Dressage Steward

Eventers Chime in to Promote OTTBS with #NeverEclipsed Campaign

If you’ve spent any time on social media this week, you’ve in all likelihood noticed a new hashtag making its way around the horse community. #NeverEclipsed is a social media campaign launched by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to salute the versatile off-track Thoroughbred as the 49th Annual Eclipse Awards for Thoroughbred racing approach later this month.

You can participate in the #NeverEclipsed campaign, which stops taking submissions on January 17. Select submissions will be shown, highlight-reel style, during the awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Note: Thanks to our readers for pointing out that posts on Facebook and Twitter using #NeverEclipsed will be used, and Instagram is not mentioned as an eligible platform for selection into the highlight reel.

We’ve seen plenty of eventers jumping on the wagon, so here is a round-up of a few of our favorite #NeverEclipsed posts. Don’t forget to add yours to the mix to promote the breed most loved by event riders the world over! Go OTTBS, and Go Eventing.

#nevereclipsed #SimplyPriceless aka kalinga Damo(his Australian track name) the thoroughbred that gives me wings ❤️❤️:) #gojohnnygo

Posted by Elisa Wallace on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

#nevereclipsedRaced under the Jockey club name MightyrecklessHollywood and I living the dream!

Posted by Kelly Sult-Ransom on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

View this post on Instagram

Jumping on the #ottb #nevereclipsed bandwagon, because god forbid I pass up any opportunity to brag about my kiddos. 💙💚 I brought both kiddos from their second ride off the track to prelim and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Cassius C aka Donnie aka Donatello. 23: 2, 2, 9. Earning $34.6K. My first event horse and taught me the hard way everything I know. He’s temperamental, sassy, has more opinions than I care for, and my ultimate heart horse. We’ve traveled all across the county, won countless ribbons at events and jumper shows, taken home our fair share of year end awards, and now he cruises around beginner novice and novice like the queen he was meant to be. He has endless heart it’s the coolest feeling in the world on cross country when he digs deep and steps his gallop and jump into another gear. T Hop aka Oscar aka Valhalla 16: 1, 2, 2. Earning $7.7K The horse I stumbled onto when I wasn’t even horse shopping. Philly said I had to have him and he’d change my life. I took a leap of faith and bought him even though he failed his PPE. The first year was rough with the baby dinosaur, he was slow to trust, would lose his legs out from under him at the canter and fall over and it felt like we were constantly out of control. A slow start to his eventing career was exactly what he needed, as he effortlessly cruised around his first season at prelim this year. He’s by far the most game horse I’ve ever ridden, and every day impresses me with how much he continues to grow up. Every time we think he’s hit his max he shows us he’s just a little lazy and unimpressed. Can’t wait to see where he goes. I am SO blessed these failed racehorses found their way into my life and continue to bless me with their strong personalities, insane athleticism, and unconditional love. I love the #nevereclipsed campaign and seeing how versatile and awesome off-the-track thoroughbreds are. 🐎

A post shared by Ashley Harvey DeWitt (@hd_eventing) on

Happily Twisted #nevereclipsed 2016 came off track, 2019 ran his first 3*. Horse of a lifetime

Posted by Kim Wendel on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

#nevereclipsed to the horse that gave me limitless wings. There will never be another❤️ #GoAlGo #anthonypatch #yesimcryingpostingthese #unforgettablememories #internationAL

Posted by Lainey Ashker on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

#NeverEclipsed Radio Flyer by Stick Together, out of Gypsy Hoofer. Off the track in '98, he brought me back to the…

Posted by Dorothy Crowell on Thursday, January 9, 2020

Kulik Lodge (Curlin) bred and raced by Stonestreet Farm. He ran 12 times, earned $180,000. Now he’s leaping big into his…

Posted by Wendy Uzelac Wooley on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nupafeed Weekend Winners: EquiRatings Crowns 2019 Horse of the Year

Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua make easy work of the final line. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Just one more week until eventing begins anew in the U.S. and our Nupafeed Weekend Winners column returns to business as usual. In the interim, however, the EquiRatings Horse of the Year prize is one that diehard eventing fans all over the world anxiously await at the end of each season. True to the concept of fan engagement, EquiRatings involves a social media vote each year to help decide the eventual winner. The tournament style voting pits top horses against one another, making for a truly agonizing decision on the part of the voters. Just look at the agony pulled from the comments on each poll!

“How can you pitch these pair of amazing horses against each other???!!!”
“This is like choosing between oxygen and food.”
“Man, this one is just mean.”
“No, this is too much stress for Boxing Day. We’re all too fragile.”

The final round of voting pitted Ingrid Klimke’s SAP Hale Bob OLD against Cathal Daniels’ Rioghan Rua. But, one horse must prevail over the rest, and the eventual crowned #ERHOTY19 is none other than the red princess, Rioghan Rua, piloted for Ireland by the immensely talented Cathal Daniels.

She has done it. In the fifth year of #ERHOTY we have our first ever Irish winner – Rioghan Rua. A hugely popular mare,…

Posted by EquiRatings on Monday, December 30, 2019

Rioghan Rua needs little introduction. The 13 year old Irish Sport Horse mare (Highland Destiny x Jack of Diamonds) owned and bred by Margaret and Frank Kinsella has spent her entire FEI career with Cathal and burst onto the five-star radar with a top-15 placing at Pau in 2016. The pair followed this up with a smashing Badminton debut, making short work of a demanding cross country course despite the mare’s diminutive size. Rioghan Rua and Cathal Daniels went on to represent Ireland at WEG in 2018 and capped off an incredible 2019 season with an Under 25 CCI4*-L win at Bramham and an individual bronze at the European Eventing Championships at Luhmühlen in August.

Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua speed across the finish. Photo by William Carey.

We’ve certainly not seen the last (or, likely, the greatest) from this Irish super-duo, and we’re equally thrilled to see the chestnut mare well represented with such a classic example of where pure heart, determination, grit, and talent can get you. We wish Cathal and the newly crowned #ERHOTY19 the best of luck as the 2020 season draws closer! Go Eventing.

Dreaming of a Three Day? Here Are Your USEA Classic Series Dates for 2020

The three-day vet box at The Event at Rebecca Farm. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The classic long format event is one that many of us have always wanted to complete. The challenge of getting a horse traditionally “three day fit” has evolved over time with the changing of formats, but one thing the USEA has done throughout the years is stay true to the sport’s roots with the USEA Classic Series.

Returning for the 2020 calendar, riders at levels from Beginner Novice through Preliminary will have several opportunities around the country to compete in a long format three-day event. Take a look at the full schedule here.

Why Do a Three Day?

Aside from the requisite “cool factor” that comes with completing a three day, there are endless learning opportunities during the process. For starters, learning how to get a horse fit and keep it sound during the process is something we should all be well-versed in, at any level. Fitness for both horse and rider is something that varies from breed to breed and from level to level. However, your horse (and you!) should be fit enough for the challenge that is a long format event, so taking your conditioning work seriously is great practice, no matter what level you plan to compete at.

In addition, competing in a three day allows riders to experience all four phases of cross country, from the warm-up Roads and Tracks phase to the 10 minute vet box. Learning the basics of temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate will serve you well as you prepare for a Classic Series event.

How Do I Qualify?

You can check the qualification requirements for each level here. Brushing up on requirements should be something that is done at the start of each season as you map out your competition plans. Don’t get caught unaware of you and your horse’s qualification status!

Good luck to all, and Go Eventing! Which Classic Series event are you targeting this year?

USEA Announces Classic Series Dates for 2020

Thursday Video from Professional’s Choice: 10 Questions with Oliver Townend

Oliver Townend loves the smell of victory, but his other favorite smell is a good cooked breakfast. He also enjoys a good vacation and dinner in Barbados. How do we know this? Well, the world number one event rider recently sat down with one of his sponsors, TRM Supplements, to answer a few burning questions including his favorite horses and breeding lines, favorite event, and much more. Get to know Oliver a little better in this quick interview!

If Horses Made New Year’s Resolutions

While you’re busy making a list of self-improvements for the upcoming year, your horse may just be doing the same thing. As much as we love them, surely there are some things we’d put on our horses’ resolution list. If horses were the type to make New Year’s resolutions, here are some we’d most likely see, along with a look back at some of our favorite naughty horses from the last decade:

I promise to not start a fight at feeding times (only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).

I promise not to paw in the water trough for hours but then refuse to set foot in the water jump.

I promise not to roll within 15 minutes after a bath (anything after 16 minutes is fair game).

I promise not to spook at plastic bags. Or minis. Or cars. Or leaves. Or my own shadow.

I promise not to impersonate a giraffe in our dressage tests (but only if the judge seems nice).

I promise to jump everything on the first (or second) attempt.

I promise not to run too far away if my rider falls off (though I take zero responsibility for the fall itself).

I promise not to use manure as a pillow (but, really, have you tried it?).

I promise to keep my fly mask on and not shred my blankets, no matter how much my friends make fun of me for wearing them.

I promise to stop practicing my flying during the trot-up. Rumor has it that this is frowned upon, but it sure makes for a great photo.

Cheers to a happy, successful 2020 full of wide open cross country courses and well-behaved horses!

Six New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Want to Keep in 2020

2018 AEC Jr. Beginner Novice champions Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix. Photo by Leslie Wylie. 2018 AEC Jr. Beginner Novice champions Ella Robinson and Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Whether or not you’re a resolution maker, there’s something about the clean slate feeling of a new year that makes us feel optimistic for the future. It’s easy to write out a list of all the things we want to change in the new year, but for the sake of being realistic it’s important to set goals that are attainable. Even if you don’t make a list of resolutions, it’s still an optimal time of year for reflection and goal setting for the upcoming season — and we all know how much eventers love to plan out their year in horse terms!

If you’re grasping about for some resolutions or improvements to make in 2020, allow us to help get you started:

Resolve to learn more. Much as with other skills, the art of riding is something that must be continually practiced and improved upon. No matter how many years of experience you have under your belt, there is always something to improve. There is no shame in learning a new lesson, and there will always be someone who has something new to teach you. Attend a clinic, even just to audit. Watch more live streams or replays. We have three entirely different phases to fine tune — it’s a process, and learning to embrace it will make you a more complete rider.

Resolve to get fitter outside of the saddle. No matter what your stance is on barn work as exercise, it remains a fact that fitness is an important component of a rider’s skill tool set and it’s an element that many of us don’t take into enough consideration. But don’t worry, it’s not about resolving to go to the gym every day — if you’re like most riders, time is limited, and it’s precious. So instead of setting up a badass but perhaps unrealistic in terms of time workout plan, find opportunities in your existing schedule for some extra exercise. Laura Crump Anderson has some great pointers for rider fitness right here on EN — click here to read her articles.

Resolve to start treating yourself like the athlete you are. Taking care of your body is important, and it goes beyond fitness. You wouldn’t ask your horse to push through pain, would you? Yes, it’s true that taking off time is nearly impossible when life will always press on without you, but take the care to invest in proper care when you’re nursing an injury or illness. Go to your physical therapy appointments. Book a sports massage once a month. Eat healthy and eat enough. Your body is half of the equation out there on cross country. Do you want to be at anything less than 100 percent?

Resolve to learn more about your horse.
Establishing a bond with your horse goes beyond riding every day. Take your horse’s vitals periodically. Learn all of their normal routines and behaviors so that it’s easier to know when something is amiss. Listen to your gut. Learn their mannerisms at feeding time, in turn out, under saddle, away from home. It’s likely you already know all of these — great job! How can you take your bond with your horse to the next level this year? Try some horsemanship or tackless work on the ground. Go somewhere new with your horse. Dabble in other disciplines. Learn to listen more closely to what your horse is telling you.

Resolve to be nicer to others. With the increased use of social media, I’ve found it’s easy to get sucked into the gossip and rumor mill. This year, let’s resolve to give it a rest. Stop gossiping so much. If we spent the time it takes to have a twenty minutes text conversation about a peer watching a few of Ingrid Klimke’s videos or doing some rider fitness work, think of how much progress we’d make on our own individual riding.

Resolve to remember your bite-sized goals.
The concept of setting bite-sized goals has always stuck with me. I think that a lot of us, myself included, get caught up in the end goal. In the process, we miss out on the steps it takes to get there. We get discouraged. We experience setbacks. Those goals seem more like dreams. To make life more manageable, less defeating, the idea of bite sized goals is a lifeline. Just as with any other resolution — going Prelim, running a 5k, reading more, meditating, losing weight — it’s easy to get caught up in absolutes and unrealistic expectations. So write out a list of bite-sized goals — manageable, small changes you can make. You might find that those lead to the bigger changes you never thought would be possible.

So, EN, we want to hear it: what are your goals and resolutions for the new year?