Sally Spickard
Articles Written 2,533
Article Views 6,317,159

Sally Spickard


Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Sally Spickard

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

Latest Articles Written

Can You Help These Riders Find Horses for the Aiken Eventing Showcase?

William Fox-Pitt and Sandro’s Star. Photo by Shelby Allen.

We are just a few weeks away from the second $50,000 Liftmaster Eventing Grand Prix at Bruce’s Field in Aiken, South Carolina. The event, to be held February 28 – 29, promises to be a thrilling showcase of eventing and is set to feature many top-billed riders who have been invited to compete. As this showcase approaches, we have word of two international riders who are still in search of catch rides for the weekend:

You may have heard of a British rider by the name of William Fox-Pitt, who was third placed at the 2019 showcase aboard Sandro’s Star. William is returning to the States to contest the Eventing Grand Prix once more and is looking for a horse to compete with. William is certainly no stranger to catch riding with great success — he also rode Anna Locshiavo’s Prince Renan for the Eventing Showcase at Central Park in 2017.

Christoffer Forsberg and Con Classic 2 (SWE). Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Also seeking a partner for the Grand Prix is Swedish 5-star rider Christoffer Forsberg, who has a long history at the top levels including a top-20 finish at Burghley in 2010 with Grafman. Christoffer is also an accomplished international show jumper, so whoever lends their horse to him should be in for an exciting weekend.

If you’ve got a horse that might be a good fit, check out the following criteria: As a USEF recognized event, horses must meet the Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) to compete in a CCI-L of the same height level. Horses need three Advanced MER, plus one Advanced MER with no more than 20 jumping penalties on cross country. One MER must be from within the 12-month period prior to the competition. If you would like to express interest in lending a horse, please contact Kate Boggan at [email protected].

Other international riders invited to appear include Great Britain’s Tom Crisp as well as Canadian and Australia stalwarts such as Colleen Loach, Holly Jacks-Smither, Ryan Wood, Waylon Roberts, Clayton Fredericks, and Jessica Phoenix.

The showcase is USEF recognized held at the Advanced level. Dressage is scheduled for the morning of Friday, February 28. Show jumping will follow on Friday afternoon with a course set at Advanced height and designed by Michel Vaillancourt. Cross country will be held Saturday, February 29. On Saturday you can also enjoy a beer fest which will double in size at this year’s event, as well as live music following cross country.

A $25 General Admission ticket will give you access to the event over both days. Click here to purchase general admission tickets.

VIP tickets cost $400 and include VIP parking, access to the ringside VIP tent, drinks and food, and tickets to Thursday’s welcome party. Click here to purchase VIP tickets.

Grand Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field: WebsiteTicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

USEF Futures Team Challenge to Return to Carolina, Will Expand to Galway Downs

Team Erik Duvader, winners of the first Futures Team Challenge at Carolina International last year. Photos by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

After a successful first year of the USEF Futures Team Challenge program, intended to give young and developing riders a taste of team format competition, US Equestrian has announced the program’s return to Carolina International as well as an expansion to the fall international event at Galway Downs. The CCI4*-S and CCI3*-S will be used at Carolina, and the CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L will be used at Galway.

In 2019, teams competed at both Carolina International as well as Bromont.

“Last year was a trial of the program and the feedback was super-positive,” Performance Director Erik Duvander said in the press release. “I found it very valuable because it gave me the opportunity to work with athletes outside the training lists, and it gave those athletes the chance to put themselves forward for this program. We will constantly keep tweaking the program and continue improving it.”

Team Leslie Law for the 2019 Carolina International. Photos by USEA/Leslie Mintz.

The USEF Futures Team Challenge is a part of the U.S. Eventing Pathway Program. Designed to simulate a team competition, the Team Challenge provides opportunity for two teams of four, one coached by Erik Duvander and one coached by U.S. Developing and Emerging Coach Leslie Law, to compete at select events. Athletes can submit applications for consideration by the USEF Performance Advisory Team beginning on Monday, February 3. Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, February 24. Following the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ selection criteria, athletes will be selected based on their results, potential, willingness to learn, and commitment to developing into future team athletes.

“It’s a great opportunity to expose athletes in this country to a team experience,” Leslie Law commented. “In Europe, athletes get a lot of experience with the Nations Cups, and we’re limited in the U.S. by how much team experience we can give to our athletes. This program aims to give our athletes the same opportunity to get exposure to a team competition. I think it’s really valuable to give our athletes this opportunity so that when we go up against the rest of the world in team competitions, they’ve already had experience in a team environment.”

Galway Downs organizer Robert Kellerhouse, a staunch supporter of the continued promotion and support of eventing on the west coast, is excited to bring the Futures Team Challenge to Area VI. “The Futures Team Challenge has so many elements of excitement and team-building,” he said. “We are looking forward to it paying dividends in the future for our U.S. Eventing Team, as well as providing our community with some incredible competition. All of this is only because of the USEF High Performance efforts to bring the Futures to Galway, and we are really looking forward to making it a huge success.”

[USEF Futures Team Challenge Competitions Announced for 2020]

Nupafeed Weekend Winners: Galway Downs, Three Lakes, Sporting Days

Team Next Level Eventing and friends celebrate a Chiefs Super Bowl win. Photo via Next Level Eventing on Facebook.

Well, it wouldn’t be a post about winning without letting this Chiefs fan go a little nuts after seeing the Kansas City football team take the Super Bowl win last night for the first time in 50 years. This win was particularly special for the Next Level Eventing team — Heather Morris’ late brother, Dylan, was a huge Chiefs fan. This one was for you, Dylan! If you want to help celebrate in Dylan’s name, please consider making a donation to F*ck Cancer here.

In the meantime, a grand weekend of eventing was had on both coasts, with recognized events running in each major winter eventing hub. Riders ventured out to knock off some more off-season rust at Galway Downs in southern California, Sporting Days in Aiken, and Three Lakes in Ocala.

There was some hot competition for this weekend’s unofficial lowest score award, but in the end it was Lea Adams-Blackmore and Fernhill Frostbite who will take home the nod with a 17.1 in the Open Novice B division at Three Lakes. Hot on Lea’s tail were Alyssa Phillips and Cornelius Bo, who scored a 17.6 in the Open Novice A division. I think I scored a 17 on a dressage test once. Only it wasn’t an eventing dressage test. Well done, ladies!

Let’s get to the rest of this weekend’s big winners. Congratulations to all and Go Eventing!

Galway Downs Winter Horse Trials:  [Website] [Final Scores]

Advanced CT: Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve (29.3)
Open Intermediate: Emilee Libby and Jakobi (27.7)
Open Preliminary: Emilee Libby and Toska (28.7)
Preliminary Rider: Meg Pellegrini and Dassett Richochet (24.1)
Junior Training Rider: Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild (28.8)
Open Training: Sara Sellmer and Casualleigh (27.6)
Senior Training Rider: Madison Langerak and Normandy’s Kivalo (30.4)
Junior Novice Rider: Shelby Murray and Sonik Mambo No. 5 (27.6)
Open Novice: Erin Kellerhouse and Smarty Pants GWF (29.8)
Senior Novice Rider: Kassandra Wilsey and #IWokeUpLikeThis (27.6)
Introductory Roder: Ava Torres and WKD Lad (35.8)
Junior Beginner Novice: Lauren Roberts and Cabela (32.5)
Open Beginner Novice: Nick Cwick and Raggio Di Luna (27.8)
Open Introductory: Olivia Miller and Convince Me (33.3)
Senior Beginner Novice Rider: Kate Flaherty and Eli’s Coming (31.8)

Sporting Days Farm I:  [Website] [Final Scores]

Open Preliminary: Boyd Martin and Fernhill Prezley (28.9)
Preliminary Horse: Kevin Keane and HH Ontario (25.9)
Preliminary Rider: Laura Douglas and Sophia Fab (35.5)
Open Training: Tim Bourke and Cavalier Rockstar (28.2)
Preliminary/Training: Skyler Decker and HHS Iris (27.8)
Training Horse: Jessica Ebzery and Absolut Cooley Quality (26.6)
Training Rider: Finley Habenicht and Aleta NSF (30.9)
Novice Rider: Barbara Warren and Holy City (30.7)
Open Novice A: Matt Brown and Sunsprite’s Huatulco (25.8)
Open Novice B: Amanda Beale Clement and BE Maxwell 16 (27.1)
Beginner Novice Rider: Abigail Gallagher and Ziggy Stardust (28.3)
Open Beginner Novice: Michele Kuchta and Fiji (22.0)
Starter: Heather Sinclair and Force Ten (31.4)

Three Lakes Winter I Horse Trials: [Website] [Final Scores]

Intermediate/Preliminary: Maxine Preston and Shannondale Magnum (48.4)
Open Preliminary A: Caroline Martin and Redfield Carmen Zita (28.7)
Open Preliminary B: Kyle Carter and Gaillards Lancer (33.5)
Preliminary Rider: Michael Tansey and Johnny Hawk (54.9)
Open Training A: Jessica Phoenix and FE Akari (20.3)
Open Training B: Sharon White and Zig Zag 4 (23.3)
Open Training C: Caroline Martin and Redfield Galwaybay HSH (26.7)
Training Rider: Angelika Beutel and Alwin (27.4)
Novice Rider: Aline Briot and Kid Rock (25.7)
Open Novice A: Alyssa Phillips and Cornelius Bo (17.6)
Open Novice B: Lea Adams-Blackmore and Fernhill Frostbite (17.1)
Open Novice C: Katherine DeLaney and Elbaran (29.5)
Beginner Novice Rider: Sophia Carattini and Artax (29.2)
Open Beginner Novice: Katherine DeLaney and Sommersby (23.6)

View this post on Instagram

It's not always about the ribbon. It's about training hard, doing your best, having a good time, learning from your mistakes, and kissing your horse, thanking him for a great ride. Kat and Cody competed at Three Lakes Horse Trials this weekend. They had a great dressage test, one rail in stadium, then did a little sight seeing on cross country, giving them lots of time faults, finishing in 12th place. You can hear her yelling "good boy" over every jump, see that huge smile on her face, and watch her reach down to pet Cody as they race across the finish line. Even though they had time, the clear jump round gave them the qualifying ride they needed to qualify for AEC 2020. Thank you @marenfoster, you are always amazing! #waterfordeventing #eventing #eventingnation #ottb #tjctip #tipambassadors #thoroughbredincentiveprogram #aec2020 #roadtoaec2020

A post shared by Marian Matushek Abrams (@matushekabrams) on

Thursday Video: Ins and Outs of Cross Country Course Design

It is fascinating to get inside the mind of a course designer. The amount of detail that goes into setting each fence, each line, each combination according to terrain and a multitude of other factors is nothing short of astounding.

In the latest video from the FEI, French course designer Pierre Le Goupil walks us through what he enjoys about course design and what all goes into the work. Take a look, and if you’re thinking of starting your journey to obtaining your course design certification, stay tuned for a new series here on EN on how to accomplish that goal!

Go Eventing.

Volunteer Nation: Get Those Hours In at These Four Events This Weekend

Jump crew at Fair Hill. Volunteers needed at your local event! Photo by Holly Covey

How many volunteer hours have you logged in 2020, EN? One new feature of the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program in 2020 is the introduction of a new medal system. This is an effort to recognize volunteers as they dedicate their time to helping the sport each year. All hours logged through will be counted towards the medal totals, which are as follows:

Bronze Medal: 500 volunteer hours
Award: embroidered polo, pin, certificate

Silver Medal
: 1000 volunteer hours
Award: embroidered vest, pin, certificate

Gold Medal
: 2000 volunteer hours
Award: embroidered jacket, pin, certificate

Bear in mind that hours must be logged through and that only hours submitted for recognized events will count towards the medal program — but please don’t let that stop you from helping out at your local schooling show, too! We’ll list all such opportunities in this post each week. Get out, go volunteer, and have fun!

Event: Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 31 through Saturday, February 1
Address: 3549 Charleston Hwy, Aiken, SC, 29801
Positions available: XC Jump Judge, Dressage Bit Check, SJ In Gate, SJ Jump Crew

Area VI eventers can benefit from volunteering at Galway Downs this weekend by picking up certificates that can be redeemed for cross country schoolings! A full day of volunteering will earn you a $50 certificate, and a half day of four hours or less will get you a $25 certificate that can now be used on entry fees, schooling fees, Galway Downs gear, or Galways Downs memberships.

Event: Galway Downs Winter Horse Trials
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 31 through Sunday, February 2
Address: 38801 Los Corralitos Road, Temecula, CA, 92592
Positions available: XC Ring Steward, XC Timers, Dressage Ring Steward, Dressage Scribe, XC Jump Judge, XC Score Runners, SJ Ring Steward

Event: 2020 MDHT February Cross Derby
Date(s) volunteers needed: Saturday, February 1
Address: 1235 Park Mills Road, Adamstown, MD, 21710
Positions available: All positions are currently filled, but please contact the show if you’d like to help out!

Event: Superbowl Schooling Horse Trials at Meadow Creek Park
Date(s) volunteers needed: Friday, January 31 through Sunday, February 2
Address: 1342 Highway 14 South, Kosse, TX, 76653
Positions available: Early Prep – Dressage & SJ, Parking Steward, Office Help, Dressage Scribe, Dressage Warm-up, Floater, General Announcer, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Scribe, SJ Timer, SJ Warm-up, XC Control, XC Finish Timer, XC Jump Judge, XC Start Timer, XC Warm-up

Ready, Steady, Tokyo: An Update on Construction and Development

We are eagerly anticipating this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and the city has been hard at work constructing what has been labeled the most sustainable Olympic Games in history. Thanks to the donations of Japanese citizens, the Olympic medals this year will be uniquely constructed from recycled mobile phone parts, and it was recently announced that the traditional Olympic torch will be fueled by hydrogen for the first time in an effort to leave as small of an environmental footprint as possible.

Of course, putting on an event of this magnitude is a massive undertaking. But leave it to the Japanese to leave no stone unturned as they ready new complexes for the Olympic athletes that will descend on the city in August. On Twitter, the Tokyo 2020 page posted a first look at the newly constructed, energy efficient Athletes’ Village. Take a peek:

One of the eternal questions surrounding the Games and their ongoing impact on host cities is that of the fate of the new construction, often hastily built and left empty in the wake of the Olympiad. This year, the Athletes’ Village was constructed from 40,000 pieces of timber donated by various Japanese municipalities. After the conclusion of the Games, these buildings will be deconstructed and the timber returned to the donating municipalities for re-use.

You can view the entire outline for Japan’s sustainability plans for Tokyo here. Take a look at some of the other latest developments from #Tokyo2020:

Stay tuned for all the latest from Tokyo right here on EN! Just 176 days left to go! Looking for all you need to know about eventing in this year’s Olympics? Get the low-down here.

Feels Like Home: All About the Hospitality for the Aiken Horse Park Foundation

Fence 19/20 – Bruce’s Offset Logs. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Bruce Duchossois loved to make his peers feel at home. Fond of the horse show scene of his youth, peppered with hospitality and a family feel at each competition, Bruce wanted every equestrian to experience the “feels like home” sentiment that he loved so much.

Since Bruce’s passing in July of 2014, the Aiken Horse Park Foundation has carried on in his honor, elevating the bar for hospitality on the horse show circuit and always making it a point to make his presence felt in every small detail.

“Bruce had so much love for Aiken,” the Aiken Horse Park Foundation’s marketing and communications director Kate Boggan said. “He stepped in and bought the property when it was in danger of being sold to developers. There is so much equestrian history at this venue, and he had this vision of creating that old-fashioned, spectator-centric horse show feel that he grew up around.”

Photo of Bruce Duchossois courtesy of Aiken Horse Park Foundation.

A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Aiken Horse Park Foundation is dedicated to giving back to and promoting growth within the community. For that reason, one of the biggest draws on the show calendar each year is the Aiken Charity Horse Show, a hunter/jumper show that donates much of its proceeds to a local charity. This show, Kate says, is the ultimate dedication to Bruce’s legacy.

“That show is sort of the heart and soul of the Foundation,” she said. “It’s a dedicated homage to Bruce and we try to leave no stone unturned when it comes to hospitality and ensuring the exhibitors have all they need.”

Often, shows at Aiken Horse Park are referred to as “boutique” feeling because of their hospitality. And the addition of a charitable beneficiary only makes that feeling stronger. “To date we’ve done over $110,000 in charitable donations,” Kate explained. “We feel that it’s important to do as much as we can for our local community, and it was always really important to Bruce to have that real family feel.”

The sunset after the first show held at Bruce’s Field in September. Photo courtesy of Aiken Horse Park Foundation.

Kate tells stories of opening the park for free admission to the public on show weekends; a bus brings over senior citizens from the local retirement home for a day of equestrian sport in shady tents, catered cocktail hours are ordinary occurrences, and the spectator count was more than twice the projected number for the inaugural Aiken Eventing Showcase in 2019. Indeed, the Aiken Horse Park Foundation has made good on its promise to honor Bruce in all its efforts — and the local community takes notice.

Bruce Duchossois left a lasting legacy on equestrian sports, and that legacy is honored each day at the Aiken Horse Park, where hospitality is the priority and feeling like family is the goal. It’s no wonder that riders of all disciplines look forward to their outings at Bruce’s Field. Undoubtedly, each hoofprint on the grassy infield that Bruce had such big dreams for is a little token of thanks, a symbol of the equestrian community that calls this venue home — all thanks to Bruce.

You can experience Bruce’s Field for yourself! Tickets for the $50,000 Liftmaster Grand Prix Eventing Showcase at the Aiken Horse Park are available now. The event will be held February 28-29, 2020. To learn more about the Aiken Horse Park Foundation and Bruce’s Field, click here. You can also listen to a special interview with Kate Boggan on the latest episode of the Major League Eventing podcast here.

Riders Band Together for Australia Day Bushfire Benefits

In commemoration of Australia Day and to raise funds and awareness for those affected by raging bushfires in Australia, eventers banded together for an Australia Day Lecture Demo Event yesterday at Lowlands Equestrian Centre in Warwick, Warwickshire. A rocking list of celebrity riders including Alex Bragg, Bill Levett, Tim Price, Chris Burton, Piggy French, and more joined the cast for a day of learning and fun. Beneficiaries of ticket sales from this event include the Equestrian Fire Relief AustraliaBlazeAid and the Buy A Bale charities.

We’ve got a look at the action from the Lecture Demo Event, curated from social media. Much fun was had, lessons were learned, and most importantly the community came together in a collective effort to do good for others.

We promised some fun and fun we certainly had…She may have had the shorter legs but M.S.Team Eventing with Imogen Murray certainly showed her competitive edge! There were a few faults for Team Price and Chris Burton but oh so much fun…Tapner Eventing Team Team Bragg Eventing

Posted by Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain – ERA of GB on Sunday, January 26, 2020

Thank you to each and everyone who supported the fundraising efforts at The RDA National Training Centre on the 26th of…

Posted by Bill Levett eventing on Sunday, January 26, 2020

Crazy foot race time @AustrailiaDayEvent. The swarm of Kids were mental 🤣😂🤣

Posted by Team Bragg Eventing on Monday, January 27, 2020

We were very proud parents yesterday watching Ellouise take part in the ‘Australia Day Event’ She did amazing under the…

Posted by Team Bragg Eventing on Monday, January 27, 2020

He’s wondering about putting it on! #ausraliaday #pulltogether #helpaustralia #artisawesome

Posted by Jonty Evans on Monday, January 27, 2020

Morning from Tring Gallops, what a wonderful day yesterday at the Equestrian Fire Relief Australia charity event run by the Event Riders Association at Lowlands RDA where I was in my professional volunteer role of car park attendant. What the fun and games on the Horse & Country TV channel and please do support this cause and help to rebuild Australia 🏇👏👍

Posted by David Britnell Eventing on Monday, January 27, 2020

Thanks to the generosity of Horse & Country TV, the entire event was streamed for free — you can bookmark this link to keep an eye out for the on-demand video that is soon to follow. Want to join in and help? There are several ways to do so. You can visit the ERA of Great Britain online auction here or visit the Riders for Australia main page here.

Want to support Australian relief efforts here in the U.S.? You’re in luck! The “Kick On for Koalas” clinic is set for February 25 at Barnstaple South in Ocala, Florida. Check out the details of this massive effort from the North American contingent here.

Nupafeed Weekend Winners: Rocking Horse, Full Gallop, Fresno

Perhaps one of my personal favorite winter time activities is perusing entry lists and scores for the latest changes in the eventing world. Who’s got a new campaigner this year? Which pro seems to have the deepest string? Who’s moving and shaking up the levels? I love following the progression of horses and riders, so just know that you’ve all got a fan in me and that we here at EN love doing these weekly winners’ wrap-ups! Keep on kicking!

This weekend’s lowest score contest was a tough contest, but it was Jennie Brannigan and FE Connory who will take home the very official unofficial Weekend Winners shout-out after earning a finishing score of 21.5 in the Open Preliminary A division at Rocking Horse.

Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trials:  [Website] [Final Scores]

Check out our Intermediate report from Rocking Horse here.

Intermediate Rider: Katherine DeLaney and Canto Royale (37.5)
Open Intermediate A: Leslie Law and First Class (26.2)
Open Intermediate B: Leslie Law and Lady Chatterley (32.1)
Open Intermediate 1 Day A: Maya Black and Miks Master C (29.7)
Open Intermediate 1 Day B: Buck Davidson and Carlevo (29.1)
Intermediate/Preliminary: Sydney Elliott and Commando D’Osthuy (33.9)
Open Preliminary A: Jennie Brannigan and FE Connory (21.5)
Open Preliminary B: Jacob Fletcher and 5o1 Mischief Managed (25.7)
Open Preliminary 1 Day A: Jessie Phoenix and Bentley’s Best (28.1)
Open Preliminary 1 Day B: Jan Byyny and Unbridled Numbers (31.4)
Preliminary Horse: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool (25.9)
Preliminary Rider: Lauren Chumley and Atlanta B (28.7)
Open Training A: Caroline Martin and Redfield Sergio Grasso (28.3)
Open Training B: Ronald Zabala-Goestschel and Dukes Sunny Boy (28.6)
Open Training C: Cornelia Dorr and Brush Dance (27.4)
Preliminary/Training: Anna Kjellstrom and Kazoo (28.9)
Training Horse A: Mireille Bilodeau and Make My Day (24.1)
Training Horse B: Ariel Grald and Isla de Coco (26.9)
Training Rider A: Lauren Yeagy and Bacardi III (28.8)
Training Rider B: Brooke Hollis and Kelecyn Cognac (30.7)
Novice Horse A: Angela Gottler and Caan’s Man In Black (30.5)
Novice Horse B: Cornelia Dorr and Lucky King Louis (26.9)
Novice Rider A: McKenna Martinez and Commitment (21.9)
Novice Rider B: Meghan McDonough and Domingo en Fuego (25.7)
Open Novice A: Sophia Middlebrook and Coolrock Wacko Jacko (24.8)
Open Novice B: Beth Murphy and Jimba (22.4)
Beginner Novice Rider A: Emma Lynn Potts and Boomtown II (26.1)
Beginner Novice Rider B: Kathleen Cuca and Chequer (30.3)
Open Beginner Novice: Jacob Fletcher and Wt Caden (25.6)

So fun to begin competing this past wkend at Rocking Horse Stables event. The courses were great thank you to the staff …

Posted by Selena J O'Hanlon on Monday, January 27, 2020

View this post on Instagram

Wow what a weekend! Mouse conquered both her and my first intermediate, starting out in first place just losing the lead with a few time penalties to end third. Pretty hard to believe a year ago this week we were running around my first prelim. She put in just a beautiful dressage test, and jumped her best show jump round to date; and then went on to jump around the red numbers like she’s done it hundreds of times. I’m so so proud of her and how much she has grown in a year! Emmett was also phenomenal in the PT this weekend. Putting in his best scoring prelim dressage test on his record and jumping one of the few clear rounds to end in fourth place. I owe a lot of thanks to everyone who has made all of this possible, it truly takes a village❤️ #teamdevoucoux #teamtinneylambert #glenbrookcooley

A post shared by Samantha Tinney🇺🇸 (@samanthatinney_eventing) on

Full Gallop Farm January Horse Trials: [Website] [Final Scores]

Preliminary: Susan Jellum and Rochambeau (33.7)
Preliminary/Training: Susan Thomas and Van Goettsching (29.8)
Training: Kristen Rozycki and Wild Duke (26.1)
Novice A: Alexander Conrad and Lexington II (24.8)
Novice B: Cortlinn Bailey and Up In Smoke (29.3)
Beginner Novice A: Becky Holder and Miracle Eclipse (31.9)
Beginner Novice B: Maia Ramberg and WL Boni Bellini (29.7)
Beginner Novice C: Campbell Turner and Witness Protection (34.4)
Starter: Brooke Webb-Burgess and Bluegrass Beat (27.5)

Fresno County Horse Park Combined Test: [Website] [Final Scores]

CCI2*: Bruce Hill and Bossinova (23.4)
Advanced: Amber Levine and Cinzano (36.0)
Open Intermediate: Alexis Helffrich and M Creme De La Creme SE (26.8)
Open Preliminary A: Amber Levine and I’M Jaguar (25.0)
Open Preliminary B: Bruce Hill and Bossinova (21.7)
Preliminary A Dressage Only: Charlotte Freeman and Marvelous Marcoli (34.1)
Open Training A: Meghan Lewis and Ringmaster (25.5)
Open Training B: Becky Leisz and Gangster (26.4)
Training A Dressage Only: Christine Poulos and Fergalicious JB (34.1)
Open Novice A: Amber Levine and Shannondale McGyver (20.5)
Open Novice B: Sophia Merz and Clara Bö (26.4)
Open Novice C: Kasey Hansen and Mr. Blue Sky (26.0)
Beginner Novice A Dressage Only: Julia Lum and Flying Coconut (36.4)
Open Beginner Novice A: Amber Levine and Mr Funny Man (24.7)
Open Beginner Novice B: Mia Brown and Duke HW (23.1)
Introductory A: Becky Leisz and Ikarus Ch (26.4)
Introductory B: Alexandra Wehrman and Crème de Cassis (31.1)

View this post on Instagram

#horsingaround #horsingabout #goriding

A post shared by Kleary Field (@klearyfield) on

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 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 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

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 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 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

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.