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Behind the Barn with Yasmin Ingham and Tom McEwen

The British have landed! Tom McEwen and Yasmin Ingham are currently first and second, respectively, in the CCI5*-L, but when they’re not going head-to-head on the leaderboard, they’re always down for a good laugh. You can watch this and the entire library of these episodes on the Kentucky YouTube channel here.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Tickets] [Scoring] [Ride Times] [Live Stream] [Ultimate Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Behind the Barn with Caroline Pamukcu and Hannah Sue Hollberg

Whose spirit animal is a bald eagle? Does Kentucky have a distinct smell? And how in the world do you pronounce Pamukcu? The most unconventional questions that equestrian journalists don’t have the cojones to ask are answered as Caroline Pamukcu and Hannah Sue Hollberg sit down for episode 11 of Behind the Barn.

Don’t forget you can watch the entire library of these episodes on the Kentucky YouTube channel here.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Tickets] [Scoring] [Live Stream] [Ultimate Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Behind the Barn with “The Smiling Assassin” Jessica Phoenix

Jessica Phoenix may be one of the friendliest event riders of all time, but her peers know her as one of the grittiest, toughest riders around — and she does it all with a smile on her face. The most recent episode of Behind the Barn gets us up close and personal with one of Canada’s most decorated event riders.

Don’t forget you can watch the entire library of these episodes on the Kentucky YouTube channel here.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Tickets] [Scoring] [Live Stream] [Ultimate Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Behind the Barn with Buck Davidson and Leslie Law

If Buck Davidson was an animal what would he be? What is Leslie Law’s skincare routine? Who has the best Irish accent? These hard hitting questions and MORE answered in the latest episode of Behind the Barn.

There’s plenty more where that came from. You can check out the entire library on the Kentucky YouTube channel here.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event: [Website] [Tickets] [Entries/Drawn Order] [Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Behind the Barn with Phillip Dutton and A Walk Down Memory Lane

Phillip Dutton has been a familiar face around the Kentucky Three-Day Event for nearly 30 years. Since his first trip around the bluegrass in 1996, he boast an 88% cross country clear jumping rate, so theres few who know this place better than Phil. He takes a walk down memory lane, reflecting on the venue and some of the incredible horses he’s shared it with.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event: [Website] [Tickets] [Entries/Drawn Order] [Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Behind the Barn with the Next Generation

Who says their dad is bad at golf? Whose parent loves munching on vegemite? This and more straight from the mouths of babes.

The latest edition of Behind the Barn features a few very special guests: children of Kentucky competitors. Your kids can be your toughest critic, so what do these youngins think about their parents? Tune in above and check back for even more episodes dropping this week on the Kentucky YouTube channel here.

EN’s coverage of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is presented by Kentucky Performance Products, your one-stop shop for science-backed nutritional support for all types of horses. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event: [Website] [Tickets] [Entries/Drawn Order] [Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

Sunday Links from EcoVet

On the second day of competition at the FEI Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International Horse Trials, the indomitable pair of Laura Collett and London 52 emerged as the dressage winners of the four-star class. Of the 94 entries, Laura and Dan were the only pair to crack the teens. They’re sat on a 19.4 ahead of Sunday’s jumping phases.

[FEI Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International Horse Trials – Saturday Round-up]

U.S. Weekend Action

F.E.N.C.E. H.T. (Tryon, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Longleaf Pine H.T. (Raeford, NC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Unionville Horse Trials (Unionville, PA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Spring Bay H.T. (Lexington, KY) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Twin Rivers Spring International (Paso Robles, CA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring] [Live Stream]

International Events

Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International (Norfolk, UK) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring] [Live Stream]

North Holland Horse Trials (The Netherlands) [Website] [Entries] [Scoring] [Live Stream]

Sunday Links:

Now On Course: AEC Dreaming After a 30-Year Hiatus with Kelly O’Brien

Applications for The Event at Rebecca Farm Travel Grant Due June 1

The U.S.-Bred Horse Taking On The Jumping World Cup Final

‘I hope this will encourage others’ – owner-breeder tells the story of Laura Collett’s Badminton ride

Please take a moment to complete this Sport Horse Nation survey!

Chin Tonic HS Untouchable in $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Sally Spickard.

It’s been five years since Will Coleman graced the entry list here at Bruce’s Field, but he’s returned with a bang: headlining the leaderboard of the 2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field with EquiRatings’ favorite to win Chin Tonic HS. 

With such a banner year ahead — the elephant in the room being the 2024 Paris Olympic Games — Will opted to move “Chin” outside his comfort zone. “He’s never been here before, so that was part of the idea. We’re trying to just continue to season him for some some bigger things in his career. He’s kind of entering his prime, I would say,” he said of Hyperion Stud’s 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar). “Our plan is to not do a five-star this year, so we decided that this event could serve as well. And we’re going to use the atmosphere and sort of the five-star feel that it gives you here, which I think very beneficial [for both my horses.]”

Will is likely not alone in this goal, and tomorrow’s cross country test, which packs 29 efforts in a 4 minute 18 second time, may emulate more of the twisty, punchy course we may expect at the upcoming Olympics.

“I don’t know if [this kind of track] really suits any horse that well, but that’s part of why you do it. I think you can get better from from doing stuff like this,” Will explained. “And for Chin, he’s a really good horse, and he’s gotten way better in his cross country at reading the questions, but this will be a good early season test where the rideability is and where his brain is.”

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Both of Will’s entries, Chin and Off The Record, who jumped five spaces from 10th to 5th, were among the sixteen to jump a double clear effort, contributing to the 43% clear jumping rate.

Phillip Dutton and Possante. Photo by Shelby Allen.

U.S. Team stalwart Phillip Dutton moved himself into the reserve position with Possante, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Namelus R – Wendelien, by Otangelo) who was previously campaigned by Emily King. Their partnership began in earnest only recently in the fall of 2023.

“We’re still getting to know each other, and we’re very excited. Obviously he’s a talented horse, but you never quite know what they’re going to do when you have atmosphere and conditions like we had today. He stepped up, but we really haven’t been to battle yet on cross country with anything too difficult, so we’ll see how we do tomorrow,” Phillip said.

Owned by The Possante Group, “Impy” remains on his dressage score of 30.6 after a faultless jumping effort despite a less than ideal warmup.

Phillip Dutton and Quasi Cool. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“We jumped better than I thought he was going to because in the warm up he’s very spooky,” Phillip described. “He’s a bit horse shy, and there’s a lot of people there, so the warm up was more difficult than getting in the ring. There’s a lot lot to look at [too, in the arena] with the cross country jumps and it’s quite a unique arena to jumping in. I was really pleased with him.”

Phillip’s second ride, Caroline Moran’s Quasi Cool, moved down the leaderboard from third to eighth after having one rail down and two seconds against the clock.

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B. Photo by Shelby Allen.

2022 Champions Boyd Martin and the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s Fedarman B hold third place overnight. “Bruno” is one of the strongest show jumpers in the field — he and Boyd have only had one rail down in their International career together — and he looked very much at home around Michel Villancourt’s track.

“He’s a champion. He’s probably the best show jumper I’ve ever had, so there’s never an excuse to have a rail down. He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s razor sharp, He’s confident. He’s careful. And he’s one of the only horses I just have immense confidence in, going into the show jumping.  sometimes I’ve got to make make myself cautious enough, because he’s so so good at jumping, that I don’t get too blasé,” Boyd said of the 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Clooney – Paulien B, by Fedor).

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Second after dressage, Tsetserleg TSF tumbled down to sixth after a miscommunication at fence three saw the rail fall. He carries a current score of 33. Boyd’s final ride Commando 3 sits 14th after a double clear show jumping result.

Liz Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker. Photo by Shelby Allen.

With more wins here than any other rider, Liz Halliday is currently most competitive with Cooley Nutcracker, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tolant R – Ballyshan Cleopatra, by Cobra) owned by his namesake syndicate. She and “Bali” are fourth after a clear round on a score of 31.6, which is just over five points behind our leaders.

Her two other rides, Cooley Quicksilver and Miks Master C each saw one pole come down and sit 12th and 16th, respectively.

Monica Spencer and Artist. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Seventh place belongs to kiwi eventer Monica Spencer and her ex-racehorse Artist. You may recognize the name from the Maryland CCI5*-L last fall where they finished seventh. After that top ten display, Monica returned home to the southern hemisphere before relocating once again to the United States only a month ago. This being their first run of the 2024 season, she and “Max,” hold their dressage score of 33.2 going into Saturday’s cross country finale.

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Flying the flag for Canada, Colleen Loach moved herself into the top ten with Peter Barry’s Vermont, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing – Hauptstutbuch Hollywood, by Heraldik xx). They hold a score of 34.6 after a double clear show jumping effort.

Doug Payne and Camarillo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The best of Doug Payne’s three entries is Camarillo, a 10-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Chicardo – Rehobeth, by Riverman) owned by Doug and Patrice Jennings-Rado. The quick-footed grey remains on his dressage score of 35.3 for 10th place overnight.

Cross country begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday with Doug set as our first rider aboard Quantum Leap. If you aren’t some of the lucky ones joining us in Aiken tomorrow, watch all the action on Horse & Country. Click here to view your options and access the live stream.

$100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [Ultimate Guide]

We’re pleased to introduce Deirdre Stoker Vaillancourt, with her robust expertise and portfolio of property options in the Aiken area, as the sponsor of our coverage of the Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field. Seasonal or year-round, southern charm and the sporting lifestyle await you in Aiken!

Favorites Coleman & Chin Tonic HS Rise to the Occasion in Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS earn a 26.5 to win the first phase of the 2024 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field. Photo by Shelby Allen.

While the eventing calendar is well underway in the southeast, each year the Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services feels like the unofficial starting line for the upper level campaigners’ spring season. This convergence of some of the most elite event riders in the world creates a melting pot of proven and potential world-beaters all looking to stretch their legs in a condensed format with $100,000 on the line.

Slated favorites, according to EquiRatings’ Prediction Centre, Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS are living up to their promise after the first phase with a score of 26.5 that has them leading the 37-entry field.

“It’s an early season test, so it’s kind of a ‘Where are we now?’ type weekend for us — that’s our reason for being here. They do a great job of presenting a big time atmosphere and a showcase event here, so I think it’s just great practice, and it’s an excellent opportunity for us to get this horse into this five-star test again,” Will said, noting his main goal for Chin was to squeeze out every mark possible in this test, especially throughout the flying changes.

Will and Hyperion Stud’s 2012 Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar), delivered a silky smooth test, which we’ve come to expect from the pair, though they are just hovering a few points above their six run International average of 22.5. Today, though, they were rewarded throughout the movements, with their halt standing out as a perfect 10 for dressage judge Xavier Le Sauce at B.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Olympic and World Championship stalwarts Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF landed in second place on a 29, earning an identical score of 71.11% from Le Sauce at B with our dressage winners. “Thomas,” a 2007 Trakehner gelding (Windfall – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), was absolutely at home in this Aiken venue. Though he hasn’t won here yet, he has previously posted two of the top ten dressage scores in this event’s history — a 23.7 in 2022 and 23 in 2023.

Phillip Dutton and Possante. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Phillip Dutton slots into the top three in this early phase with the only other sub-20 dressage result aboard Caroline Moran’s Quasi Cool, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quo Vados – B-Estelle, by Lord). He’s also fourth with one of his newest partners, Possante, a 2013 KWPN gelding (Namelus R – Wendelien, by Otangelo), on a 30.6.

The final pair of the morning, 2022 GPE winners Boyd Martin and Fedarman B, battled what was likely the biggest downpour of the day to sit fifth on a score of 31.3.

Liz Halliday and Miks Master C. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Three-time GPE winner Liz Halliday is well in the hunt with three horses giving her a pre-competition 38% likely win chance. Cooley Nutcracker is the best placed of the bunch currently in sixth (31.6), followed by Cooley Quicksilver in seventh (31.7) and Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer’s Miks Master C in ninth (32).

Competitors next turn their attention to Michel Villancourt’s show jumping track, and we will welcome our first rider in the ring at 3 p.m. Stay tuned for much more from Bruce’s Field.

$100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [Ultimate Guide]

We’re pleased to introduce Deirdre Stoker Vaillancourt, with her robust expertise and portfolio of property options in the Aiken area, as the sponsor of our coverage of the Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field. Seasonal or year-round, southern charm and the sporting lifestyle await you in Aiken!

Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill Tip the Scales in TerraNova CCI4*-L

Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Eventing is a sport where winners are often decided by the smallest of margins, and that rang especially true this weekend at The Event at TerraNova where the Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-L, presented by Insurance Office of America, was decided by one second of time in the final phase.

Dressage winner Lucienne Bellissimo had maintained her leading position after Saturday’s endurance test by just two-tenths of a point, but when she completed a clear show jumping round in 74 seconds, second-placed Jenny Caras, who navigated Marc Donovan’s course in 73 seconds, stepped to the top of the podium — claiming her second career CCI4*-L victory with Trendy Fernhill.

Jenny has been partnered with Trendy Fernhill (Ars Vivendi — Cruseings Girl, by Cruising) or “Joey” since he was four, but he’s come a long way from the wild-eyed Irish gelding she met off the plane. “When I got him as a four year old I think I re-broke him like five times,” she recalled, and although he’s still known to dump Jenny during a hack from time to time, Joey found his sea legs under her care and they settled into a comfortable rhythm together climbing the levels thanks to the support of his owner Elyse Eisenberg, who is based in Maryland.

Jenny moved him up to the Advanced level in 2020 where he won his debut CCI4*-S competition at Tryon, and most recently they were awarded a Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund Grant which allowed them to participate in their first-ever Nations Cup at Stzregom where they finished 11th individually. Their summer and a few runs at the intermediate level into the fall, gave the pair an enormous amount of confidence heading into this fall three-day.

Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill claim the top spoils. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

A score of 34.9 tied the pair for third on the flat despite a less than ideal entrance. “I came down the centerline and I think did like one of the best halt salutes that I’ve ever had on on him and then I just turned the corner and he actually broke into the canner. So that was hard way to actually start the test, but I just, you know, had to put that behind us and keep going,” Jenny said.

She admitted that cross country may be a challenge as this year she’s set a goal for herself to be more competitive against the clock — a big ask for the strong, big-strided gelding.

“I’ve struggled with him a bit in the past with time penalties. Just because he’s quite a strong horse and he’s has a huge stride to being able to not spend forever in front of the jumps setting up for the combinations. So I just recently changed his bit and his bridle, and I think he really likes it because it helps us be much more efficient, and I wasn’t having to work so hard to set him up,” Jenny said.

She trialed the new set up — a rubber gag with a loosely fitted figure eight — for the first time at Chattahoochee Hills last month. “That was the first time that I had tried it, and that’s actually the first time that I had ever made the time at an Intermediate or Advanced level competition on him, so I knew I was kind of on the right track. Then I was just hopeful that it would be the right thing at this level as well,” she said, and it turned out to be a Cinderella fit: she and Joey were the only pair out of 23 starters to finish Captain Mark Phillips’ track double clear.

Lucienne Bellissimo and Tremanton. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

“I knew I wanted to go out there and try and make the time while having all good jumps, and he’s just such an honest horse,” she said. “I’ve had him since he was four, and so we’ve done everything together and we know each other really well. So I know when I tell him ‘We’re a little bit off this corner but you’re going,’ that he knows his job. If you get him anywhere near the jump he wants to jump in for you, so I was lucky that way.”

Marc Donovan’s show jumping test on the final day proved influential toward both rails and time with only two pairs — Sara Kozumplik with Rock Phantom and Mary Bess Davis with Imperio Magic — jumping double clear. The course relied heavily on related distances, leaving little opportunity to make up time and therefore rewarding those who kept pace.

Second overnight, Jenny and Joey were the penultimate pair in Magnolia Ring and they demonstrated a stylish clear round only one second over the optimum time of 72 seconds for a final result of 35.3.

“He’s a careful horse but he’s a big, big, slow stepping guy so you kind of have to help him off the front rail. But that being said, I don’t know that there is a horse who tries harder. He goes out there and he knows that he’s not supposed to hit the jumps, and he just digs deep and tries hard. And I mean, he was just incredible. I don’t know that he touched a single jump,” Jenny said.

That one pesky second dropped Great Britain’s Lucienne Bellisimo and Horse Scout Eventing LLC’s Tremanton, an 11-year-old British Sport Horse (Birkhof’s Grafenstolz — Trevia, by Hand In Glove), to rest in the reserve position on 35.5 after a stylish show jumping effort that left all the rails in their cups.

Will Coleman and Diabolo. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Finishing in third was Will Coleman and one of his newest rides, Diabolo, who was produced through the four-star level previously by Gemma Tinney in Australia before making his way stateside in early 2023. The 11-year-old Holsteiner (Diarado — Roulett M, by Aljano 2) had 2.8 time penalties on cross country and 1.2 in show jumping for a final score of 38.

Watch the top three discuss their show jump rounds:

Alyssa Phillips and Cornelius Bo complete the comeback. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

CCI3*-L

The Estates at TerraNova CCI3*-L, presented by Laughlin Tanner Group at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty was dominated from start to finish by Alyssa Phillips and her own Cornelius Bo.

Alyssa first met the now-9-year-old Hanoverian (Concours Complet — Charlotte, by Carismo) in German five-star eventer Anna Siemer’s stable four years ago. The pair won their first four International events together in the U.S. at the two-star level. After setting in at the Intermediate level last year, Alyssa had big plans for “Corn” this season, but a “silly mistake” here in the spring left Alyssa with a broken ankle and several weeks out of the saddle.

“I was at the same event and was clocking around the cross country and then just a stupid, silly little mistake. And then there goes my ankle. And then I’m like, well, there goes the rest of my fall plans,” she said.

Two surgeries later, Alyssa decided to aim him for the CCI2*-L at Rebecca Farm in July, which she says was only possible thanks to riding help from Alexa Lapp. Cornelius Bo went on to win that event.

Heading into the fall, Alyssa was once again optimistic about her fall plans, but then got the most fortunate interruption when she was called up as the traveling reserve for the U.S. Team at the Pan American Games with her Advanced horse, Oskar.

“I didn’t think I’d make it [to Rebecca], and then I did. then slowly that the pieces for the fall started to fall into place. And then all of a sudden they called me in, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be the traveling reserve for the Pan American Games.’ It throws me for a loop because I wasn’t expecting that by any means, so that changed plans again, but I think everything happens for a reason,” she said.

While she was on the road for most of October, her neighbors and friends Cornelia and Jacob Fletcher stepped in to keep her other horses fit and ready for this weekend’s event. Thanks to their help, Alyssa was able to quickly get back in town and finish this CCI3*-L on her dressage score of 28.

“He felt super, super confident leading into this week, and I think he knew he was he was somewhere big because on dressage day he grew about two inches and fancy pranced around and he was very good boy. He’s becoming such a great cross country horse, too. He’s super super careful in the show jumping and I’ve had to work through some of that and across country, but anytime there’s a problem, it’s normally my fault, so I was just hoping to give him a good go around the cross country as quickly as I could. He answered everything super easily, and was very confident about it all. And then he came out out today and he just, I mean, he just jumped out of his skin,” she said.

“Some people may think this year was crazy,” Alyssa continued. “And it was but I actually really appreciate this year a lot. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown a lot that horses have grown a lot and we ended it on a very, very great note and great experiences involved along the way.”

Michael Nolan finished second with Carrabeg Hulla Balou on a score of 32, and Caroline Pamaucku was third with Redfield Dexter on 32.5 points.

In the CC2*-L Meg Pellegrini claimed the top spot aboard Gorgeous DHI, and Lucienne Bellissimo was the winner of the CCI*-L with Duke’s Jory.

EN’s final report on The Event at TerraNova is brought to you with support from Ocala Horse Properties, your stop for horse property in Ocala and beyond. If you’re thinking of making the move to Florida, for all or part of the year, be sure to check in with Ocala Horse Properties for your farm-finding needs.

The Event at TerraNova: [Website] [Final Scores] [Live Stream Replays] [More Coverage]

Thursday News & Notes

Got enough room in there, buddy? Sammy clearly wasn’t sure if he was going to quite squeeze through the keyhole with Mia Farley at the Maryland Five-Star last month. Click ahead to the next photo to see him come to a quick realization that he did — in fact — have plenty of space. That said, not all keyholes are as open or friendly, and whether or not keyholes are appropriate cross country questions has been debated since what feels like their entire existence. What do you think, EN?

U.S. Weekend Preview

Full Moon Farm’s Fall HT (Finksburg, MD) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer]

Horse Trials at Majestic Oaks (Reddick, FL) [Website] [Entries][Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

River Glen Fall H.T. (New Market, TN) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

News From Around the Globe:

It came down to the wire for the prolific U.S. Show Jumping Team to clinch a team spot at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. They finally sealed the deal at the 2023 Pan American Games — which was the last chance for qualification. Though they were fifth provisionally after the first day of competition, they cemented their team gold spot on the final day and confirmed a spot in Paris. Joining them are the Canadians who qualified dressage, show jumping and eventing teams at the Pan Ams. [Paris 2024 places go to the wire in final race for Olympic team tickets]

Bubby Upton is officially back in the saddle following a spine surgery. The 24-year-old suffered a riding accident on the flat in August which lead to a lumbar spine surgery. After 11 weeks of rehabilitation, Bubby made her way home to horseback on November 7, and says, “This is my comeback and I’m going to continue giving it my absolute all.” [‘The day I’ve been dreaming about’: five-star rider shares major milestone following spinal surgery]

We’ve got good news from the Aharoni crew: Dutch Times is on the mend. Arielle Aharoni’s Dutch Times suffered an injury at the Maryland Five-Star last month, where the rider says he ruptured the superficial digital flexor tendon and will require at least nine months of rehab. He’s been doted on by Arielle while he’s on stall rest with hand grazing privileges. Though his future isn’t clear, Arielle doesn’t think he’ll be ready to retire anytime soon. [Dutch Times is on the mend]

 

Stable View Celebrates 10 Years of Eventing With Oktoberfest Cross Country

Fence 19, just one of the twenty-five questions facing the 4* riders this morning at Stable View Photo by Shelby Allen.

The entire team at Stable View has spent the last decade pouring their hearts and souls into the always adapting and improving facility here in Aiken, South Carolina, and this weekend is a celebration of all that they have accomplished at the Oktoberfest 2/3/4* and USEF/USEA Horse Trials. Of course one of the biggest components of an event venue is the cross country course, and Captain Mark Phillips has been an integral part of the vision and follow through of that effort for Stable View, and he once again comes forward as the course designer for the feature four-star class.

Competitors will be challenged with 37 jumping efforts that curl them around the sandy Aiken landscape, which the crew at Stable View has been tirelessly watering, and Mark will expect them back through the finish flags in an optimum time of 6 minutes 35 seconds. Easier said than done!

Overnight leader Phillip Dutton says this course, “is the best I’ve seen Mark do here,” and it’s certainly the creation of a man who knows this terrain and venue like the back of his hand. With that much familiarity, who better to take us around the Oktoberfest cross country course? Read on from Captain Mark Phillips himself:

“As riders set off from outside the Hunt Boxes, the Log Box (1) and the Hammock (2) have a familiar look to them. But turning down the hill towards the Meadow, the Diamond Brush, (3) with its new cedar top, starts to put the size of this year’s Oktoberfest into perspective.

“The Chevron Table and Corner in the Meadow (4) is a kind first combination before the climb up the hill to Boyd’s Table (5) and the Boyd’s Water Combination (6). While the Table is kind enough, riders will need to be brave at the Cabin and careful at the MIM Rail on the Mound. All will be thankful when the Open Corner after is behind them.

“The Log Pile (7) on the down slope to the Academy Alp looks massive. Riders have an interesting choice of the ends of the Alp (8) where the quicker right hand side down to a Stable View Shoulder looks a little scary while the left side will take longer.

Fence 12abc Stable View’s Sunken Road. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“The Hayrack (10) in the Cut Through and the Gate (11) after won’t hold too many fears but while the four efforts at the Sunk Road (12) is not new, it still needs a lot of respect.

15 a and bc over there in the far left of the photo, The Land Rover Question. Photo Courtesy of CrossCountryApp.

“Riders will enjoy Barry’s Desk (13) and the Memorial Garden Table (14) before coming to the daunting Derby Field Alp (15). Here the Triple Brushes and Brush Corner are definitely impressive.

Fence 17ab, the Beehive Oxers. Photo Courtesy of CrossCountryApp.

“The Cross Question (16) is unchanged but the Metal Oxer Combination (17) on the downslope cannot be taken for granted.

Fence 20a is followed by a corner at 20b. Photo Courtesy of CrossCountryApp.

“The Tiger Trap (18) is a welcome breather before the Derby Field. The Triple Bar (19) in the water followed by the Blanchard Table and Corner (20) will all come up quickly one after the other.

Fence 23a, followed by 23b in the second water, the GL Williams Water Complex. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“The Double Brush (21) with its new cedar top looks bigger than ever while the two Boats give the GL Williams Water (22) a completely new look. It’s then the run home over the Step Table (23) before the Stable View Village (24) and the Finish.

“A good round here will give horses and riders a massive confidence boost before heading for the Maryland 5* designed by Ian Stark later in the month.”

Need a TLDR? Check our EN’s quick ‘n dirty instagram reel:

First horse leaves the startbox for this division at 12:06 p.m. this afternoon. Check back with us to see how it all shakes out.

Stable View Oktoberfest 2/3/4* and H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Live Scores] [Ride Times/Orders of Go]

 

 

Dutton is Dominant On Day One of Stable View Oktoberfest CCI4*-S

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

US Eventing team stalwart Phillip Dutton leads the Stable View CCI4*-S in both experience and placings as he and his World Equestrian and Olympic Games partner Z landed themselves in the overnight lead position after the first two phases.

On their morning dressage efforts, both judges — Vanda Stewart and Amanda Miller — shared similar opinions, both giving Phillip and Z the identical score of 71.88% for a penalty score of 28.1. Phillip gives thanks to dressage coach Tuny Page on that front, who he says has had him laser focused on maintaining a correct and effective position throughout the test.

“[Z is] getting so mature and professional about it all now and early in his career as dealing lot more with his tension and nervousness, whereas now he sort of understands a lot more the dressage. He kept his calm and kept thinking with me all the way through the test,” he said.

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z — Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) will stay on his sub-30 score (the only one in remaining in the division) after a show jumping showdown of sorts that saw only four of the twenty-two competitors emerge double clear.

“He’s just a beautiful jumper and he’s pretty rideable now as well, and I’ve gotten to know what works best in the warm up for him,” he said. “I just try to keep the warm up as quiet and as easy and as relaxed as possible with lots of walking in between jumping and just lets him take a deep breath and doesn’t build up and build up and get more and more tense.”

Phillip admits he had the advantage of being sat on an excellent show jumper, but he still had plenty of work to do across Michel Villancourt’s show jumping track. “I thought it walked strong actually when I walked it. It’s quite square and it wasn’t very forgiving in the lines — you kind of had to stick to the numbers or else you paid a price. I think the Liverpool probably came down the most, and that required you to get really straight and square to it and again I think you’ve paid the price if you didn’t you didn’t do that,” he said.

Lucienne Belissimo and Dyri. Phoot by Shelby Allen.

Phillip’s closest rival tomorrow is second-placed Lucienne Belissimo who saw one rail go early in the course with the Horse Scout Eventing’s Dyri.

“I was pleased with Dyri in the dressage this morning. He is an insecure gelding and can curl up on me a little — today he actually felt confident and maintained a good frame & brain throughout,” she said of the 11-year-old Holsteiner (Diario — La Calera, by by King Milford xx). “The one rail he had was a shame early on because the show jumping suited him as he likes to run a little deep, and there were a few clever combinations that were followed with a short distance.”

Lucienne and Dyri carry forward a score of 33.1 to the final phase.

Mary Bess Davis and Imperio Magic. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s a pleasure to see Mary Bess Davis and Imperio Magic in the top three of this feature class, but no one was beaming more Mary Bess herself. After being sidelined from a neck injury this spring, she’s picked up exactly where she left off with “McColl.”

“I knew it would be tough, and if you’re going to ride a course like that you want to be on a horse like him. It gives you a lot of confidence being on him, so I was really kind of excited about how hard it was because I thought we could jump clean and do well because it just suits him,” she said.

She was exactly right on that front, leaving all the rails in place with her 9-year-old Anglo European gelding (Cassander C — Khadija des Hayettes, by Banboula du Thot) to remain on their dressage score of 34.0 going into the final phase.

Sarah Kuhn and Mr Cash van de Start. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Sarah Kuhn is fourth with Mr. Cash van de Start after having one rail down for a two-phase score of 34.9, and Lucienne nabbed another top five position with her second ride, Tremanton coming in fifth on 36.4 points.

Allie Knowles and P.S. I Love You. Photo by Shelby Allen.

In addition to International divisions, Stable View is also playing host to the USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds.

Katherine O’Brien’s P.S. I Love You tops the 7-year-old Championship, which is held at the CCI3*-S level. Ridden by Allie Knowles, the Irish Sport Horse (FSS Correlli Bravo — Woodmount Queen, by Crannagh Hero) put forward a double clear show jumping effort to remain on their dressage score of 32.6.

The 6-year-old class currently belongs to Monbeg Zebedee, who is ridden by Allison Springer. The Zebedee Group’s Irish Sport Horse (Dignified Van’t Zorgvliet —  Bolacreane Dolly, by Cult Hero) earned a 28.6 on the flat and will continue forward with both jumping phases tomorrow.

Competition continues tomorrow with cross country for all International divisions beginning at 8:30 a.m. Stay tuned for much more from Stable View.

Stable View Oktoberfest 2/3/4* and H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Live Scores] [Ride Times/Orders of Go]

 

Saturday Links from World Equestrian Brands

We’re two days late, but please join us in wishing a very happy 21st birthday to Valegro! This sweet blueberry enjoyed his special day with a carrot and mint topped cake alongside his best girl, Charlotte Dujardin.

National Holiday: National Video Game Day

U.S. Weekend Action: 

The Maryland International + Horse Trials (Adamstown, MD) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times][Volunteer] [Scoring]

Arrowhead H.T. (Billings, MT) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (Fairburn, GA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Huntington Farm H.T. (South Strafford, VT) [Website] [Entries] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Genesee Valley Hunt H.T. (Geneseo, NY) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Scoring]

Masterson Equestrian Trust YEH/NEH Qualifier (Lexington, KY) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times][Volunteer] [Scoring]

Redefined Equestrian Horse Trials (Fort Collins, CO) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer][Scoring]

Summer Coconino HT and Western Underground, Inc. TR,N,BN 3 Day Event (Flagstaff, AZ) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Saturday Links:

Mare Surprises Breeder And Vets With Twin Foals

Saville and FE Connory Step Up at Inaugural Maryland International CCI4*-S

Get to Know the 2023 Area III Champions

All You Need For Summer Showing

Sunday Video: Take a ganger around the first ever CCI4*-S cross country course at Maryland International.

Tuesday News & Notes from Kentucky Performance Products

 

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After the excitement from Luhmuhlen over the weekend, we now turn our attention about seven hours southeast to FEI Nations Cup at Strzegom in Poland. We will see four recognizable entries come forward to represent the United States as part of the U.S. Eventing Development Tour for the summer of 2023. Tour participants receive funding through USEF and the USET Foundation, thanks to the Karen E. Stives Endowment.

The team has been settled in Europe preparing for this weekend’s competition under the direction of USEF Eventing Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law. Keep scrolling to meet the team and see some clips from their final preparations.


National Holiday: World Refugee Day

Events Opening Today: Hoosier Horse TrialsRiver Glen Summer H.T.Catalpa Corner Charity Horse TrialsSpring Gulch H.T.Huntington Farm H.T.Olney Farm H.T.Early Bird Summer Event at Galway DownsArea VII Young Rider Benefit H.T. at Caber FarmCobblestone Farms H.T. II,

Events Closing Today: Huntington Farm H.T.Genesee Valley Hunt H.T.The Maryland International + Horse TrialsChattahoochee Hills H.T.Arrowhead H.T.Masterson Equestrian Trust YEH/NEH QualifierRedefined Equestrian Horse TrialsSummer Coconino HT and Western Underground, Inc. TR,N,BN 3 Day Event,

Tuesday News & Notes: 

Never turn down free dressage advice from Carl Hester. He’s got a few training tricks on Horse & Hound today that you can add to your own toolbox. For one, he says to count your horse’s strides in the dressage arena. Learning how many strides your horse takes on the short side can make your serpentines more accurate. [8 training gems from Carl Hester that could transform your dressage scores]

Laura Collett stretches to mainstream media: [Laura Collett completes five-star treble with win on London 52 in Luhmuhlen]

Ingrid Klimke suffered a broken collarbone after a fall with Equistros Siena Just Do It while competing in the CCI4* at Luhmuhlen. The break required surgery, and Ingrid says it should be a quick turnaround to get her back in the saddle, but she’ll likely miss out on the Nations Cup at the CDIO Aachen, leaving  Sönke Rothenberger to take her place. [Ingrid Klimke Injured in Cross Country Accident, Rothenberger on Team for CDIO Aachen?]

Tuesday Video Break:

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

 

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A post shared by Laura Collett MBE (@laura_collett)

If there’s someone who owns a prize giving, it’s London 52. He’ll turn the whole ordeal into his personal catwalk and make eyes at every camera in sight, and rightfully so. If you’re like us and haven’t gotten enough of Luhmühlen yet, take a peek through all our weekend coverage while you’re waiting for replays on H&C!

National Holiday: Juneteenth

 U.S. Weekend Action: 

Aspen Farm H.T (Yelm, WA) [Website] [Scores]

Full Gallop Farm June H.T (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Scores]

Honey Run H.T. (Ann Arbor, MI) [Website] [Scores]

Horse Park of New Jersey H.T. I (Allentown, NJ) [Website][Scores]

Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. (Poolesville, MD) [Website][Scores]

Shepherd Ranch Pony Club H.T. I (Santa Ynez, CA) [Website][Scores]

Silverwood Farm Spring H.T. (Trevor, WI) [Website] [Scores]

Your Monday Reading:

Today we observe Juneteenth, the federal holiday enacted to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Much of the holiday’s history originates in Texas, where Major General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom for enslaved people June 19, 1865. To mark the day, horsemen and horsewomen in Texas gather each year for a decidedly horse-y affair. [Freedom Is a Horse]

While all the attention was (rightfully) on Laura Collett this weekend, others from the British contingent delivered at Luhmühlen. Harry Meade and Tenareze were fifth and Tom Jackson was sixth with his five-star first-timer, Farndon. [‘He really showed his class’: top British rider’s exciting prospect delivers on five-star debut at Luhmühlen]

You’ll need Google Translate for this one, but we promise it’s worth it. First, Nicolas says he often sees apprehension from riders that results in them holding the horse back too much. One way to combat that with relaxation is to bridge your reins. [Tip of the Month: Astier Nicolas, Layout, Balance and Impulse]

Do you ever feel like you’re just a tad behind your horse’s motion? This one’s for you. Beezie Madden does not only photo, but also video analysis for this edition of Jumping Clinic. [Jumping Clinic: Staying with the Horse’s Motion]

Monday Viewing:

Who Jumped It Best? The LRK3DE CCI5* Wofford Rails

Who Jumped It Best?

We’ve got a very special edition of Who Jumped It Best for you this morning. We bring you to the Wofford Rails on the CCI5*-L course at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. At fence 15, this mimed and reverse pined open oxer is the last obstacle before competitors reached the indomitable Head of the Lake. It’s a new addition this year, built and placed in homage to the late Jimmy Wofford, whose presence is very keenly felt here in Kentucky this weekend.

A “teacher’s teacher,” Jimmy’s opinion was regarded as law for nearly the entire professional equestrian community as he viewed the evolution of the sport through the lens of classical theory. With that in mind, take a look at these horse and rider combinations below, and decide who Jimmy would believe got it right.

Boyd Martin and Contessa. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Erin Kanara and Campground. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Jennie Brannigan and Twilightslastgleam. Photo by Shelby

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Will Faudree and Mamas Magic Way. Photo by Shelby Allen.

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

Yasmin Ingham Brings Down the House on Friday in Kentucky

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

If there was anyone who could’ve taken over the lead of the CCI5*-L at Kentucky, it would certainly be reigning World Champion Yasmin Ingham, and she certainly delivered today for over 13,000 spectators with her delightfully talented ride, Banzai du Loir.

Their dressage result of 22.1 was tantalizingly close to their best-ever International score, which was a 22 achieved in Pratoni, but still six points improved from their debut here in 2023.

“He felt absolutely amazing. He did absolutely everything I asked him. He had such a presence, he just felt like he was flicking his toes and it was super accurate, so I really could not have asked for any more of him today. I’m just so proud of him,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of practices at this now so we seem to have nailed his warm up. He loves this place. So he’s been super chilled all week, so actually, he’s made my life a bit easier than usual. We just took him for a little jump this morning, and just tried to loosen him up, and then we just came out and worked with Chris [Bartle] and Dickey [Waygood], just before his test. He just felt really loose and supple and on the ball.”

Riding high off their fairytale 2023 season, the options were endless for for Yas and the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Nouma d’Auzay – Gerboise du Cochet, by Livarot) this spring, but after finishing second here last year, the British rider felt Lexington calling her back again.

“The thought process behind that was the fact that we came here last year, and he had such a great run, and it set us up so well for his success in Pratoni in the summer, so we’re hoping that it might just do the same thing this year,” she said. “And obviously, our plans over the next two years consists of aiming for the Championships, hopefully the Europeans in the summer and then looking ahead to Paris in 2024. So that’s our main focus over these next two years, to try and prepare as best we can for those events.”

Countryman Tom McEwen handed over only one spot on the leaderboard after the second day of dressage, and he finds himself in second place with JL Dublin going into cross country. On a score of 22.6, he’s generously given his World Championship teammate one second in hand. Similarly, Tamie Smith held on to top three with her dreamboat Mai Baum on a score of 22.6. You can read all about Thursday’s action at this link.

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The five-star test was a big question mark for Will Coleman’s second entry, Chin Tonic HS. With scores as low as 19.4 at the four-star level, inquiring minds wondered if he could reproduce the same work on this stage. At just 11-years-old, the Hyperion Stud-owned Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar) was slightly mind-boggled at the atmosphere, with tension sacrificing a few points here and there. Despite this, Will rode tactfully to produce a score of 25 for fourth place in Chin’s debut at the level.

“I think that the horse tried really hard. [He] definitely sort of shrunk on me a little bit in there. He’s been a lot of places, but there’s not many that feel quite like that on Friday afternoon. So all things considered, he’s still pretty green – it’s his first five-star. And so for this level, first time, I think I’m very happy,” Will said.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Amy Dragoo.

Another horse who reacted to the energy of the Rolex Stadium was Ocala Horse Properties’ and Deborah Palmer’s Miks Master C. Ridden by Liz Halliday-Sharp, the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Lumba CBF, by Quite Easy) is fifth on a score of 26.9.

“Certainly Mickey was feeling the atmosphere today — he was pretty amped up, and he is a very big, powerful horse, and [there were] just a few moments where he got a little bit mouthy in the ring, which I think really hurt the score, which is unfortunate,” Liz said of “Mickey” who is the highest-placed U.S. bred horse. “And I just sort of did the best I could with a big engine fresh horse today. This is his first five-star on the biggest atmosphere he’s been in and we haven’t even been together a year yet, so we’re still still learning some things.”

Previously campaigned through the four-star level by Maya Black, Liz and Mickey’s partnership has started to settle into a comfortable rhythm, and Liz thinks the world of him.

“His potential as an absolute world class horse is undoubtable. I believe in him, and I just think the world of him. When you’re sitting on something that beautiful and that special — I sort of had dreams about being able to pull out a 20 today, but I think it’s in there, we just have to do a little more training,” she said.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Boyd Martin slotted himself into sixth place on a score of 28.3 with his Tokyo Olympics and double World Championship partner, Tsetserleg.

“He couldn’t have gone much better. It’s very rare you do a dressage test where you sort of come out and go ‘every movement was as good as I could have hoped,'” he said as he laid the credit with his two dressage coaches, wife Silva Martin and German Olympian Bettina Hoy. “Silva’s my dressage coach, and we know each other so well, that it’s important for me, obviously, to try and get other experts in here and there, and Bettina Hoy is obviously one of the best in the world. It’s sort of two people warming me up, which sounds confusing, but it’s really good stuff. They’ve been at me all week for shortening my reins and trying to get his frame out a little bit.”

The 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall – Thabana, by Buddenbrock) leaned into his years of experience, lighting up, rather than shying away from the crowd. “Thomas is so good under pressure. In the ring, where a lot of horses get nervous, he almost gets better. Like I said, before, I was thrilled with the way he went, and I couldn’t have hoped for much more,” Boyd said. “[He’s] so seasoned now, it’s just fine tuning every mark and trying to position the horse to sort of present him as best we could.”

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Another experienced pair, Buck Davidson and Carlevo are gunning to match, or hopefully improve, their fifth place finish here last year, and they’re off to a great start, in current seventh place on a score of 28.4.

“He’s pretty sleepy. Walking up here you’re sort of come on, Carlevo, let’s keep going,” Buck said of Katherine O’Brien’s 16-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caresino – Ramatuelle, by Levernois). “He is a performer, but he’s got such a good brain. And he knows me, I know him. And it’s literally just trying to keep him interested and give him enough to do. He knows how to do everything, so we’re not going to train him. And his mind is so good you can rely on him.”

The next eight positions of the leaderboard remain claimed by Thursday’s riders: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z are eighth (29), Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz are ninth (30.4), Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 are 10th (30.6), Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26 are 11th (30.7), Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI are 12th (30.8), Will Coleman and Off The Record are 13th (31.2), Phillip Dutton and Z are 14th (31.9), and Zara Tindall and Class Affair are 15th (32.6).

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The next fresh face comes in the form of reigning Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L National Champions Doug Payne and Quantum Leap, a U.S. bred 12-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Quite Capitol – Report to Sloopy xx, by Corporate Report xx) owned by Doug and his wife Jess. Their first phase score of 33.7 puts them in 16th place.

“For him, this is a pretty tough environment, and especially a bit windy and whatever — it’s definitely charged. I was really proud of him that was still, I want to say three and change [points] better than last year,” Doug said. “I think we’ve sort of got a system now as far as preparation goes. We kind of have to write off the first event or two of the year because he’s just wild, but then he starts settling in, and he’s just getting better and better. And the times that he can be confident about it, and he’s staying really relaxed, he has a lot to like.”

Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The only five-star debutant to come forward today was Sydney Solomon. Her test with Early Review CBF, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Earl – Lois Lane CBF, by Le Primeur) owned and bred by Laurie Cameron, was sprinkled with a few exciting bucks through the flying changes, but nevertheless, Sydney was unbothered, soaking up the atmosphere of her first five-star. They’re in 35th place on a score of 43.3.

“As I went in there, I definitely felt her tense up, but honestly, some of it felt really good. Sometimes in the atmosphere, it really, really, really gets the best of us — especially in the canter work — and I at least feel like she held it together in the canter, other than in the changes, which sometimes that’s all you can ask. And I’m pretty green at the Advanced level, so I’m just excited for the rest of the weekend,” Sydney said. “We’re here for the cross country and the showjumping, so [my test] definitely could have been a lot better, but it could have been a lot worse. Overall, we got through it and I’m somewhat pleased.”

Tomorrow the four-star cross country begins at 9:15 a.m., followed by the five-star at 1:20 p.m. For questions about how and where to watch, click here.

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

Like Mother Like Daughter: Kaylawna Smith-Cook Tastes Kentucky Magic with 5* Test Ride

Kaylawna Smith-Cook and Passepartout. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Kaylawna Smith-Cook came by the horse bug honestly. Daughter to Tamie Smith, she was basically indoctrinated in utero, and now at 27, Kaylawna is an Advanced-level competitor in her own right, and she kicked off the action this weekend as the test ride in the CCI5*-L at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian.

“It’s unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to ride here,” Kaylawna said. “I was actually entered [in the CCI4*-S] on my mare, and she wasn’t able to compete, so we decided to ask to do the test ride on my big guy that I’m taking to Tryon this year. It was just really nice to get back and get in the ring even though I wasn’t competing — to have that experience.”

Kaylawna Smith-Cook celebrates her test ride at Kentucky. Photo by Shelby Allen.

After her 4* entry had a poorly-timed injury, Tamie suggested she offer to do the test ride with her other Advanced horse, Passepartout, a 14-year-old German Sport Horse (Pasco — Preschel, by Pardon), who is aimed at the Tryon CCI4*-L next month. While she hasn’t made her 5* debut yet, Kaylawna grabbed this opportunity and ran with it, giving “Pasci” the challenge of a higher-level test in a larger than life environment.

“It was definitely a step up from the four-star test, but I would say my trot work was probably the best it’s been. I do feel like it was really, really great to get in the ring and now know that I can even be a little braver and that he’s on my aids,” she said.

Photo by Shelby Allen.

Of course ringside was her mom, Tamie. “It’s been really awesome. Hopefully next year, she’ll be at the five-star as well,” Tamie said. “But to be at this level with your daughter, it’s really rewarding. I was helping her a little on the flat this morning — I’m getting the chills right now — just looking at her ride because she’s so good, and she’s way better than I ever was. But it was a really proud moment to just see how great she is. I mean, she has all the pieces she just lacks experience. So we’re working on that.”

Kaylawna spent her first years in the professional horse world working for Grand Prix dressage rider Niki Clarke before branching out on her own with a teaching and training program, which she runs out of the same facility as Tamie in Southern California.

Photo by Shelby Allen.

“We’re based off the same farm. I have my own business, she has hers, but obviously we work together as well,” she said, and who wouldn’t want to tap into the wealth of knowledge that Tamie has, but her mom has always pushed her to work hard for every single achievement.

“I would say it gets better by the years. We’re obviously mother and daughter and want to kill each other probably once or twice a week, but it’s amazing — especially now that I’m trying to compete at the four-star level to be competing against her and with her, it’s a bond that is really special,” Kaylawna said.

“I would say being her daughter is definitely a privilege, and it’s a great example to follow in her footsteps. I feel that she’s right there to guide me along with being my own rider and navigating through trying to become an upper-level rider. I’m really, really proud of her, and I’m excited to watch her this week and be right alongside her.”

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

Kentucky CCI5*: Tom McEwen Out in Front with JL Dublin After Thursday’s Dressage

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

What an exciting group of competitors we have coming forward to contest the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. With a group of this caliber, no single entry stood out as the front runner during the lead up, but Great Britain’s Tom McEwen certainly made his mark on the first day, taking the lead of the class with JL Dublin.

The partnership between Tom and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diarado – Zarinna, by Cantano), who is owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lambert and Mrs. D. Johnston, is less than a year in the making as the Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist took over the ride after Nicola Wilson had a fall with “Dubs” that resulted in life-threatening injuries which forced her retirement from the sport. It was Nicola who piloted the horse through his International career through last year, and it’s her years of training that Tom credits for today’s result.

“It’s all thanks to Nicola’s amazing training and the partnership they’ve had. [I’m] very lucky to take the reins on him, and he’s such a picture to watch anyway, so to go and pull off the tests — he can do it very easily and actually still have a few things to push up on. It’s very exciting really,” Tom said.

“Dubs is the kindest person you could ever meet. If I could put him into personality-wise what you see in the arena is sort of what you get. He’s lovely, soft, kind, but with the personality and a huge showmanship. He loves just being on the stage. He’s a lovely, lovely person.”

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In his first trip to Kentucky — about which, Tom says all he knew of the state was “racehorses, bourbon, and tobacco” — Tom earned a 22.6 with a test that features several nines awarded from the Ground Jury of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Peter Shaw (AUS), and Angela Tucker (GBR).

Speaking about his first trip to Kentucky, Tom said: “To be honest, it’s probably one of the greatest talked about events that I’ve never been to. So it’s been a pleasure to be able to come and an even bigger pleasure to be able to start competing here. Everyone is so super friendly. So that is the first thing I would say, but the stadium, I mean, the TV doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s quite a brilliant experience. It’s much, much bigger. And of course, it’s beautiful. The course is designed so well and it’s beautifully carved. So yeah, it’s a stunning place to be and I’m very lucky to be here,” he said.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

California girl Tamie Smith held the lead through the middle of the afternoon on a 24.2 with her World Championship partner Mai Baum before taking one step down the podium to rest in second place at this point in the competition.

“I think it was one of his best tests to date. We’ve been working on just getting him stronger and being more in self carriage and being in front of my leg and he answered all the questions super. I really couldn’t have asked him to be better. I maybe had a couple of little tiny mistakes, but I was very pleased,” Tamie said.

Tamie and “Lexus,” a 17-year-old German Sporthorse gelding (Loredano – Ramira, by Leoni) owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, spent their time very carefully over the winter, dedicating their focus to straight dressage competitions.

“I spent a lot of time this winter just getting him stronger and working with my dressage instructor, Johann Hinnemann, at home. I ended up doing the Prix St. George over the winter, and it was a really good exercise because I felt like that was his best test [today]. He really stayed in front of me,” she said.

Their partnership is nearly a decade in the making, but Tamie says that with each year it gets sweeter and sweeter. “I think with any horse as time goes on you hope to develop a very good trusting partnership and the quality has always been very much there, but his confidence and strength has — I think for both of us — has grown. I felt like the best way to describe it is like a hand in a glove. We think for each other — I think something and he does it; I look somewhere he goes like he’s just so with me,” she said.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Liz Halliday-Sharp, who currently leads the CCI4*-S division, claims third place in the five-star aboard Deniro Z. Their result of 29.0 wouldn’t be their best at the level — they achieved that here two years ago on 27.4 — but Liz was pleased to see that their hard work on the flying changes, which they’ve historically struggled with, has begun to pay off.

“He got three out of the four so I guess we should be excited about that. Actually at home they’ve been the best they’ve ever been this year and I would say I owe a lot of that to some training I’ve done with Shelly Francis lately. She really kind of changed the way that I teach the horses to do changes, and I think it’s made a huge difference to him.”

“Obviously it wasn’t our very best test today. Deniro decided something was terrifying with the camera on the first centerline which genuinely he’s never done that in my entire time with him. But here we are, it just shows they’re individuals and they can still do cheeky things,” Liz said of the Ocala Horse Properties’ 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zapatero – Zonne-Trend, by French Buffet xx). “But yeah, he is starting to really understand what he’s supposed to do with the changes. The right to left has always been harder for him. They’re physically very hard for him. At home he very rarely would miss the right to left this year now which is great. But when he’s feeling a little excited and a little snazzy, that’s usually when he leaps in the air or misses it. But here we are 15 years old and we’re still getting better, but at least he’s still learning.”

Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Another Kentucky first-timer, former World Champion Sandra Auffarth is in fourth place. Sandra is no stranger to the very top levels of the sport, having represented her country at each and every Olympics and World Championship since 2012, and her partner here this weekend, Nikolaus Prinz von Croy’s  Viamant du Matz, a 14year-old Selle Français gelding (Diamant de Semilly – Heralina X, by Voltigeur le Malin X)helped Germany earn team gold in Pratoni last autumn. Despite his championship experience, this is a five-star debut for “Mat,” which he’s kicked off with a dressage score of 30.4.

Woods Baughman and C’Est La Vie 135. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Woods Baughman rounds out the top five with his and his parents’ C’est la Vie 135 on a score of 30.6. Growing up in the Lexington area, Woods certainly has a loud and proud cheering squad for his and the 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding’s (Contendro – Anette, by Aarking xx) performance in the first phase. “Contendro” certainly felt the atmosphere, showing his exuberance through the extended canters, but Woods has focused his warmup on producing relaxation through all possible conditions. 

“I did get a little too excited. That canter — the extend across the diagonal back, and then the counter-canter, the corner change — really is hard [for him],” Woods said. “[It’s about] just getting him really flexible because he’s such a big, stiff thing. Most of my warm up is in the walk and turn about the haunches, pretty much go side pass, and then back, and then small circle. Just keep moving him around and then do really long and low, and only the last five minutes I shorten the reins and put his head up and then he looks like a horse again.”

Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Five-star debutant Alina Dibowski stands in sixth place with Susanna Dibowski’s Barbados 26 on a score of 30.7. At only 22, Alina is the youngest rider in this year’s competition, but she’s got mileage that belies her age. She and “Baba,” a 14-year-old Polish Sporthorse gelding (Moravia – Babilonia xx, by Jape xx) represented Germany in the junior championship ranks before taking up the call up to compete as individuals at the 2022 World Championships in Italy. For her, this is a new opportunity to showcase their partnership on a world stage.

“We’re into our ninth year together, so we built a very strong bond. That’s why my dad is the groom on paper for the accreditation, but I do everything myself, so I think this is why we have such a strong connection. We grew into this together. At the start I didn’t even know that he may be capable or I may be capable of riding here in Kentucky. So I think this is something I just have with this horse and this is why I call him once a lifetime.

Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Great Britain’s Kirsty Chabert came over to Kentucky riding on her successes of 2022. After a heartbreaking elimination nearly at the end of the Badminton cross country course, Kirsty redirected to the 5* at Luhmühlen where she and her quirky mare Classic VI proved their mettle and finished second, and she’s chasing a similar fairytale here in the states.

“[It’s a] bit of a once in a lifetime — potentially — opportunity, the horse was in amazing form last year, so it’s an incredible experience to come and ride in such an atmosphere,” she said. “[We] got very established last year. We had a little hiccup at Badminton and sort of went away and rectified it, and then I can’t really fault the horse from then on, to be honest. She was second at Luhmühlen, she won two four-stars and a second in another one, so I feel like this year was the chance to come over.”

She and the 14-year-old Anglo European Sporthorse mare (Calvaro F.C – Indian Summer), who is owned by Carole Somers, John Johnston, and Kate Ward, are starting their American bid in good form with a 30.8 on the flat that has them in current seventh place.

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The Team USA stalwart Will Coleman felt like he left points on the table after his 31.2-point dressage test with World Championship partner Off The Record, a 14-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Arkansas VDL – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio) owned by the Off The Record Syndicate. They’re in eighth place at day’s end.

“I just couldn’t really get them to breathe in there. He was just kind of holding his breath the whole time and felt like he was almost trying too hard. You know, just a lot of little mistakes. He swapped off his lead a couple of times, just anxious and tight and it wasn’t very good,” Will said. “It’s a shame, he’s been doing good work, I don’t know if he just didn’t have it in there. He never has really done a great test in there. It’d be nice if maybe we could school him in there a few times during the week, but they never let you do that here. I just can’t really get him over those demons in there. He just goes in there and holds his breath.”

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Phillip Dutton had the major competitive advantage of dressage coaching from Silva Martin to help he and the Z Partnership’s Z, a 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z – Bella Bouche B, by Babouche vh Gehucht Z), produce a 31.9 for ninth place. Though Phillip says he envisioned a slightly lower score, he’s thrilled with the work Z produced.

“He’s getting more mature. Silva Martin’s been helping me, she’s been a big help,” he said. “He went really well. As long as they keep marking hard like that throughout the competition — because 31, he’s always done better than that — but I think this is the best test he’s ever done. So I was pleased, very pleased.”

Zara Tindall and Class Affair. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Rounding out the top ten is another British entry, Zara Tindall riding Gleadhill House Stud LTD’s Class Affair. “Socks,” a 14-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Obos Quality 004 – Ruby’s Rosshaven Flight, by Laughton’s Flight) has proved to be a tricky personality for Zara, and that’s heightened at the five-star level.

“He hates people. This situation is literally his worst thing ever. He’s just a tricky horse, in his brain — you’ve got to be a bit careful with him. You’re not sure which side of the bed he’s gonna come out on. He’s really talented, but his brain kind of interferes a bit,” she said, and although her score of 32.6 is their highest at five-star level, Zara is the first to point out: there’s plenty more to do this weekend.

Looking at today’s scores in their entirety, the Ground Jury were in strong agreement in their judging, with the biggest spread being seen in Will Faudree’s results with Mama’s Magic Way, with a 4.62-point disagreement. They were similarly divided on Tamie Smith’s performance, with Christina Klingspor giving her a 78.65% from her spot at C, while Peter Shaw and Angela Tucker were in agreement on a 74.42% from their places at E and M, respectively.

The 5* will resume tomorrow at 1:00 PM with Emily Hamel and Corvett cantering down the centerline and we’ll be there to bring you all the action!

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

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All Accepted in Easy Breezy First Horse Inspection at Kentucky

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All CCI5*-L horse and rider combinations have been accepted to compete at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian after an essentially drama-free first horse inspection.

Thirty-eight pairs presented for the Ground Jury of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Peter Shaw (AUS), and Angela Tucker (GBR) under a cloud dotted sky in Lexington, Ky., with nary an entry even flirting with the hold box at the start of competition. The only excitement came in the form of pre- and post-jog antics from the likes of Daytona Beach 8.

Sandra Auffarth embracing the stars and stripes with Viamant du Matz. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The total count did drop by one ahead of the trot up as five-star first-timer Andrew McConnon withdrew Ferrie’s Cello today.

The 5* dressage begins at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday with Buck Davison as the first to go aboard Erroll Gobey. We also can’t forget “mini-Kentucky” being held this week as a CCI4*-S competition. They did not participate in this afternoon’s trot up, but they’ll be the first to kick off dressage competition tomorrow morning beginning at 8:00 a.m.

As the action gets underway, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the 5* entries by checking out our comprehensive Form Guide here.

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Dressage Times] [4* Dressage Times] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

Ocala International: Le Lion Reserve Champion HSH Connor Claims CCI3*-L Debut with Caroline Martin

HSH Connor drops into the final water with Caroline Martin. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The young horse pathway has been one that Caroline Martin has followed to the letter with her up-and-coming horses, and it paid off this weekend as she won the CCI3*-L at the Ocala Festival of Eventing aboard the 7-year-old HSH Connor.

“I’m a huge fan of the young horse program. It’s great to have mile markers every year: As a 4-year-old your mile marker is to get to the 4-year-old Championship, the 5-year-old year getting him to that Championship. And then as a 6-year-old six year old, our goal was to get him to Le Lion, so our whole season is just around that one goal,” Caroline said, and that’s exactly how “Connor’s” career has progressed: He won the 2020 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship, reserve champion as a 5-year-old the following year, and finally finished second place in the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding 6-year-old Championship last autumn.

“So this year, I’m trying to follow the same plan — do an early, long, given him a break, and then hopefully get him ready for Le Lion again in the fall,” she said.

Caroline’s business partner, Kelly Hutchinson talent spotted the Irish Sport Horse (Connor 48 — Galway Bay Merstona, by Mermus R) from the breeder, Justin Burke, before he made it over to Caroline in 2020. From the start Caroline says that Connor has been sharp with a mean spook, but he’s come out his 7-year-old year with those energies focused on the job.

“He would spin me off every day, stop at every single jump, spook at everything, but he’s always been incredibly talented. And so that still translates to him — even as a 7-year-old, but he’s definitely grown up a lot this year,” Caroline said. “Last year, when I’ve gotten back into work, he’d stop every time at any type of grid. This year, he’s jumping through grids on the first try. He’s jumping in and out of water. The horse is just so intelligent that you can’t you have to carefully explain stuff to him because he overthinks, but he’s been great this week, and everything felt super, super easy for him.”

HSH Connor and Luann McElduff share a cuddle at Ocala.

Connor won his class wire-to-wire, with his only fault being one second in the show jumping, to finish on a final score of 23.3, cheered throughout the weekend by his faithful supporters, but no one cheered louder than Luann McElduff who shares ownership of Connor with her daughter, Maddie, the rider and Sherrie Martin.

Jon Holling was second with Constance Holling and Team Rebecca’s Juczt My Style S. “Polo,” a 9-year-old KWPN (Ahorn — Sakura Hill Czola, by Alla’czar) who was bred in the U.S. by Sakira Hill Farm, finished on his dressage score of 27.1.

Leslie Law and Countess Cooley. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Also finishing on their dressage result (27.4) was third-placed Leslie Law aboard Countess Cooley, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Remiro B — Regular Eaton) owned by Craig McCallum.

Sharon White and Claus 63 tackle the tricky water complex on the 4*-S course. Photo by Shelby Allen.

While this event has run upper level competition since 2006, this year for the first time they hosted a CCI4*-S, which was topped by Sharon White and her own Claus 63.

Sharon has been thoughtfully bringing along the 11-year-old Holsteiner (Catoo x Tina II) after taking over the reins from Dirk Schrade several years ago, and their success this weekend is a well deserved feather in their cap as Sharon eyes even bigger future goals.

“There were some really good questions. And in the warmup, people were like, ‘Oh, they’re not reading the first water and do the option.’ But I’m gearing up towards bigger and better things, so I wanted to challenge him a bit. And he said, ‘No problem,’” Sharon told the U.S. Eventing Association.

Just three weeks out from the Tryon CCI4*-L next month, this event was perfectly scheduled as a final preparatory event, and Sharon was among many of the riders who applauded Organizer Emily Holmes and her team for putting it on.

“I really appreciate the organizers making the effort,” She said. “We’re just really grateful that they were willing to do it. I think anyone who wants to run an event deserves all the recognition. It’s a lot of work—whether you’re an organizer, an official, a competitor, or volunteer, I think we should all band together and give each other a high-five because we’re all in this together.”

Leslie Law and “the twins” Fernhill Lottery and Must Be Cooley. Photo via Lesley Grant-Law.

Leslie Law won first and second in the CCI2*-L with Fernhill Lottery and Must Be Cooley, respectively.

Jamie McAllister and Army Ranger. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Jamie McAllister piloted her own Army Ranger to win the Advanced division. The 11-year-old Thoroughbred stepped up to the Advanced level this spring, and delivered for Jamie this weekend, cruising around a technical cross country designed by Jay Hambly with 17.2 time penalties.

Well done to all for a great weekend at Ocala. Go eventing.

From An ER Nurse: The Cross Country Vest I Trust With My Safety

Taking the Freejump X’AIR SAFE for a spin. Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

As a nurse who works in an Emergency Department, safety is my number one priority when shopping for any horse-related gear. 

Equestrian sports, and eventing more specifically, comes with its share of inherent risk that rivals some of this country’s riskier leisure activities. That comes out to more “accidents per hour of sport compared with motorcycle riding, skiing and football” (Gates & Lin, 2020). 

As an amateur rider, and even more importantly, an amateur rider who frequently finds myself at an array of distances from a fence (despite the heroic efforts of my talented horses), proper personal protection equipment (PPE) is key. The current research on equestrian sports shows that amateurs are far more likely to experience injury than our more experienced professional counterparts. One study said, “when injury rates were adjusted by hours spent in the saddle, experienced equestrians were injured less commonly than amateurs” (Gates & Lin, 2020). 

While head trauma trumps as the most frequently occurring equestrian injury, studies have found that in high intensity riding, like racing and jumping, trauma to the chest or trunk is frequent, with one study citing rib fracture occurring in half of severely injured riders (Carmiachael, et al., 2014). And that’s where a vest can quite literally be a lifesaver. Rib fracture not only opens you up to collapsed lungs (hemo/pneumothorax) but also makes you a more likely candidate for pneumonia. Having seen my share of patients come through the ER with chest trauma, I don’t skimp when it comes to my own body protector. 

Staying comfortable and breezy even on a sweltering day in Ocala, Florida. Photo by Ashley Greene.

After taking a few involuntary dismounts from my up-and-coming thoroughbred last year, a friend pushed me toward using an air vest. She shared that from her personal experience, the aches and pains associated with falls were reduced when she was wearing an air vest. In August of 2022, the French company FreeJump launched their first two-in-one protective vest and airbag, and after vetting it for several weeks I’m sold. 

A combination vest, as opposed to a body protector + separate air bag, gives precise protection every time you zip it up. When I’ve used separate pieces, I found myself wondering if I had secured the airbag properly. Would it stay in place correctly? Did I fasten it tight enough for protection, but also loose enough so that I can breathe after it deploys? Though these are mostly unjustified ramblings of an anxiety-prone rider, I find I prefer the reliability and convenience of a combination vest. 

In an independent test conducted by the French company CRITT Sport Loisirs (Regional Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer), the X’AIR SAFE had eight times better protection compared to a body protector alone, and four times better protection than a body protector with separate airbag on top when compared to other top brands. 

A small size of the airbag deploys in 89 milliseconds, one of the fastest acting when compared to other top brands. In a sport where wins and accidents are decided in inches and seconds, that’s a safety net that’s irreplaceable to me.

As far as specs go, the X’AIR SAFE meets the EN 13 158: 2018 level 3 standard of the Eventing body protections for competition use, which makes it appropriate for USEF sanctioned competition, and the NF S72- 800-2022 standard for equestrian airbags. It’s of note that Freejump’s airbag technology in previous products was the first to be certified by the NF S72 800 2022 standard. 

The airbags are integrated inside the body protector, padding around the spine and neck specifically, to give an ideal distribution of the airbag’s benefits. While there is still little research regarding airbags in equestrian sport, their use is growing, and in 2022 the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) for the first time ever recommended their use. 

Testing out my range of motion in the X’AIR SAFE. Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

While safety ratings and statistics are important, a cross country vest must also be functional because what use is a good vest if it doesn’t allow you to do your job as a rider? Freejump’s promise of a weight reduction of 20% was enticing, and in my opinion was delivered with this X’AIR SAFE. Historically, body protectors have been bulky and restricting in my experience, but I find the X’AIR SAFE to be very allowing. I am happily able to move my arms and torso without restriction.

The vest is constructed of laser cut pieces that include a dense outer foam layer and a more rubbery foam inner layer to provide shock distribution and absorption. That inner layer contains materials similar to what is seen in bulletproof vests. The first time I donned the X’AIR SAFE it was immediately obvious how light the vest was. It was a literal weight off my shoulders when I compared back and forth with my current body protector. This became even more obvious when I took it off and didn’t find my usual sports bra sauna — even when I tried it out on an 80 degree day in Ocala. The cordura-based military grade outer fabric is also a godsend for someone as accident prone and messy as I am. After bumbling several times in and out of my stall and trailer, the material still looks good as new. 

Freejump has a pretty comprehensive size guide, so you’ll want to grab a friend to help you measure yourself. My measurements matched me with a size large. The body protector portion comes down right around my ribcage in the front aptly protecting my chest, ribs and all those visceral (lots of blood vessels!) organs like the liver and spleen, and the longer cut in the back reaches far enough to to cover into my lumbar spine. I also appreciate the elastic side adjustments. While my vest was a pretty perfect fit out of the box, it’s nice that you could make it a bit more snug if you preferred.

Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

Another thing that won me over is FreeJump’s accountability to its products and its brand. Each and every airbag is produced at their own workshop in Bordeaux where every product individually undergoes its own inflation and triggering tests before being shipped to retailers. The results of these tests are filed away to match the vest’s specific serial number. This of course would be compared to batch testing. I find comfort in knowing that my specific vest underwent performance screening before it ever reached me. 

The Freejump team really believes in its products which is evidenced by a warranty of up to four years from purchase date – much longer than the average for this industry.

After nearly two months of trial, the X’AIR SAFE has now become my go-to safety vest. The level of protection paired with its comfort and breathability exceeds my requirements to leave the startbox.

You can check out the X’AIR SAFE for yourself through one of Freejump’s retailers or learn more on their website

References

Carmichael SP 2nd, Davenport DL, Kearney PA, Bernard AC. On and off the horse: mechanisms and patterns of injury in mounted and unmounted equestrians. Injury. 2014 Sep;45(9):1479-83. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2014.03.016. Epub 2014 Apr 1. PMID: 24767580; PMCID: PMC4125461.

Gates JK, Lin CY. Head and Spinal Injuries in Equestrian Sports: Update on Epidemiology, Clinical Outcomes, and Injury Prevention. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2020 Jan;19(1):17-23. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000674. PMID: 31913919.