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Friday Video from SmartPak: A First Look at Derek di Grazia’s LRK3DE Cross Country

2021 5*-L Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Official Cross-Country Course Preview

Follow along with #LRK3DE cross-country course designer Derek di Grazia and 1998 Kentucky Three-Day Event winner, Nick Larkin, as they discuss some of the highlights on this year's 5*-L course!Be sure to tune into the livestream on USEF Network (viewable with a US Equestrian fan membership – use code LRK3DE21 to sign up for FREE), and see all of these jumps in their beautiful, fully decorated glory!Thanks to Visit LEX and Georgetown/Scott County Tourism for making this video possible!#BestWeekendAllYear

Posted by Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event on Thursday, April 15, 2021

It’s time to take a first peek at what Derek di Grazia has up his sleeve for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. Some changes are afoot at some of the bigger questions on course that we’ve come to know and love, and he takes a few minutes to walk us through his vision for this year’s track.

If you’re getting excited about Kentucky, you’ll want to check out what’s on the docket for next week right here on EN. You can get a sneak peek at our coverage plans here – spoiler alert: we’ve got some fun things happening!

Day One at Burnham Market: A Burghley Winner Back to Brilliance and a Three-Part Lead

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street. (Apologies for the photos in this post, folks – your loyal British correspondent was battling both a broken camera lens and shooting into the sun all day!) Photo (shame-facedly) by Tilly Berendt.

“It’s such a shame,” ruminates Pippa Funnell, leader of CCI4*-S section B at the Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International Horse Trials aboard MGH Grafton Street. “When he won Burghley [in 2019], he did it as a young five-star horse at eleven – and now, suddenly, he’ll be fourteen before he gets to Badminton. It’s crazy.”

Such is the reality of the ongoing pandemic where the production of a top horse is concerned, and it’s a sentiment that’s been widely echoed throughout the day by a number of riders facing yet another year of uncertainty. “I don’t have a plan for the year yet because I don’t know what’ll run,” is a common thread; “it’s hard to put in the hours without feeling as though you have an end goal” is another. Most, by now, have learned not to get excited about a major event until they’ve arrived and unloaded the horses – and that means striking a tricky balance between not doing quite enough to keep horses fit and prepared and overcooking the stew.

Nevertheless, it was a treat to see Pippa and her Burghley victor, known at home as Squirrel, back in action in today’s unseasonably summery conditions – particularly in this, a phase at which Jonathan and Jane Clarke’s cheeky gelding has historically excelled. His work today was sparky and fun to watch, a sentiment evidently echoed by the judges, who rewarded it with a 25.4.

“There were a few little bits where he was quite bright, but the highlights were very good,” says Pippa, who jokingly named ‘walking out of the arena on a long rein’ as the top of those highlights. “It’s a work in progress, but on the whole I was pleased.”

It’s not at all shabby, considering the horse didn’t run in any internationals in 2020 and still, Pippa tells EN, remembers the wild excitement of the Burghley prize giving.

“I was a bit poorly for a while and off games, and so the horses didn’t run [internationally] – I put them to bed,” she says, explaining that she gave the horse two national runs. Nonetheless, Squirrel’s unique character – which has occasionally caused some focusing issues in the past on cross-country – prevails. “He’s just cheeky; he’s a monkey. He thinks he’s a comedian, whether that’s in the stable, the field, the lorry…he’s always the one that’s doing tricks. He definitely comes out and is more excited to be out since Burghley; we forget the effect of the prize giving and all the goings-on. Now, he’s definitely a bit more like  ‘oooh, we’re at a party!'”

Izzy Taylor edged into second place with Hartacker, who led in this phase last year at the Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds. Though today’s 26.9 doesn’t quite rival his extraordinary 20.3 in that event, it’s an exciting test for the nine-year-old who proves, in just his second four-star outing, that he’s no flash in the pan. Though he ultimately didn’t take glory here last year because of a green mistake on cross-country, he finished his 2020 season with an educational victory in the CCI3*-L at Thoresby, and looks older, wiser, and stronger this year for his second attempt.

Ros Canter sits in third place overnight riding another nine-year-old – Lordships Graffalo, who finished second in that very same CCI4*-S last year after spending the 2019 season being piloted by Tom McEwen, deputising for Ros during her maternity leave from the sport. This is the gelding’s eighth international run; in his previous seven, he’s never finished lower than eleventh place, and he’ll certainly be a horse to keep a close eye on as the event – and the season – progresses.

New Zealand’s Caroline Powell elbowed her way into a sea of high-achieving Brits to take overnight fourth place aboard Up Up And Away, her fifteen-year-old CCI5* mount who returned to international competition in the latter half of last year, two years after his previous – and admittedly, rather up and down – season in 2018. Whatever Caroline’s been doing with him in that interim period has done wonders – his score of 27.2 today, and a 27.8 at Burgham last summer, are a marked step up from the low-to-mid 30s he’s consistently produced in years prior. For the striking grey gelding, this weekend will be all about redemption: their 2020 season ended with an unfortunate 20 penalties picked up in the tough CCI4*-S at Little Downham, curtailing their plans for a trip to Pau.

Piggy March and Sportsfield Top Notch. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Fifth and sixth place are both held by Piggy March, who also sits first, second, and third in the other CCI4*-S section. Leading her charge here is 2019 Badminton winner Vanir Kamira, fifth on 28.7 – not, as a glitch in the scoring system proudly proclaimed for much of the afternoon, a 50.9 – follows by the nine-year-old Sportsfield Top Notch, who posted a 29.1 in this, his four-star debut. For Piggy and husband Tom, this is a particularly special up-and-comer, as they own him outright.

“He’s pretty green, and he can be a bit hot, so I was just delighted with the fact that we got through it. He’s had a good experience and hopefully he’ll come on a lot from that. He’s a nice, big horse, though he’s probably a little bit behind some of the fancy ones as he’s taken a bit of time to mature physically and mentally. He’s ours, so we’ve just given him that time.”

Though Piggy’s end-of-day results are enviable, the logistics of her day were, perhaps, less so: with an abundance of horses to compete today, it rather felt as though she was always either in the warm-up arena or the ring, with nary a break in between.

“I’ve done all five of them pretty quickly today, so I haven’t been able to get them out and work them a few times. That just makes such a difference when you get to the three-days and are there for a couple of days, but it is what it is! A horse like Vanir Kamira, she’s a pain in the arse at the best of times and so you really do need to be in the same place and doing things with her, but we just have to do what we can do.”

Whatever she has for breakfast, we want some. Tomorrow’s dressage continues – and concludes – with a full roster of competitors, including Kazuma Tomoto and Bernadette UtopiaKitty King and former Six-Year-Old World Champion Cristal FontaineMollie Summerland and Charly van ter HeidenJames Avery and Mr Sneezy, and Laura Collett and Mr Bass.

Burghley winners Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street lead the way at the end of day one in Burnham Market’s CCI4*-S B section.

Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s hard to imagine an off-form Piggy March after the last few seasons of total domination, and that got even harder today as she took a remarkable 1-2-3 in the first day of dressage for Section C of the CCI4*-S offerings. Leading the way is John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburne’s Brookfield Inocent, who we last saw finishing second in his CCI5* debut at Pau in October. Now, he’s at the head of Piggy’s formidable string of horses vying for a position on the Tokyo squad this summer, and as is his wont, he produced a typically elegant and expressive test for 25.9. Though it doesn’t quite match the low-20s marks he produced last year – including at Pau – it’ll prove a tough score to beat in a section that saw just Piggy’s three leaders slip below the 30 barrier. Nevertheless, Piggy felt that there was room for improvement in the test.

“He only had half an hour [of work] before his test and so he went very light in the canter, and just slightly got his tongue over the bit, which he can do but hasn’t ever done in a competition,” she explains. “So I never sat there thinking, ‘boom!’ But he didn’t really do a lot wrong – and he’s out, which is the main thing. You work hard to come to these events and do the best you can, but it’s also about being realistic: a lot of these horses are great competition horses and so they can’t just arrive somewhere new, and it’s on top of a hill and cold and sunny and bright, and do it perfectly every time. You have to just get on with it and take the good points.”

Though there had been some hope of seeing Brookfield Inocent on the entry list for Kentucky, which he had been aimed at in 2020, the decision was made not to make the long journey across the Atlantic this year with the horse, who both Piggy and husband Tom describe fondly as a rare horse who would suit any course. Still, says Piggy, the feeling of a countdown to something major is something she’s been missing enormously over the last year.

“I do envy those riders going to Kentucky, because it’s given them something to aim for,” she says. “It’s frustrating at the moment because you sort of think, ‘well, what’s the aim?’ You live in hope that the Olympics is what we’re going for, but in the same breath, what if it doesn’t happen? I know we’re luckier than many people in these circumstances, because we can still get out and do it, but it’s hard for these great owners and great horses. You’re missing a few years for these great horses who just don’t come around that often.”

Piggy March and Dargun sit second overnight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Just a penalty point behind Brookfield Inocent sits Dargun, the former Emily King ride who joined Piggy’s string last year and has finished in the top three twice out of three FEI runs with his new jockey. He’ll go into Sunday’s jumping phases on a score of 26.9, which he earned when producing what Piggy considers her test of the day.

“That was my clear round,” she says. “I thought he was lovely; I really couldn’t fault him in any way. I had hoped he might have just squeaked a bit of a better mark than he did, but it’s very good.”

Piggy March and Fonbherna Lancer. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Holding down the fort in third is yet another relatively new ride – this time, Izzy Taylor’s former mount Fonbherna Lancer who, for all his wonderful qualities, is perhaps most memorable for his striking likeness to an old Munnings painting. Though the early part of his test looked very slightly disconnected, it improved throughout and his canter work – after a small mistake in the first transition – looked focused, connected, and indicative of a horse who has physically strengthened over a long winter of careful schooling.

“It was rider error; I should have been brave and gone with it,” says Piggy of the mistake, which saw Fonbherna Lancer break to canter moments too early. In the test, Piggy opted to transition back down and then up into canter on the marker. “Other than that, though, I was happy with it – his changes were all clean and he was a good boy.”

Tina Cook and Billy the Red. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It was rather a good day in the office across the board for the women of the British team: Tina Cook and Billy the Red hold fourth place on a mark of 30.2, which is rather higher than we’re used to seeing from the seasoned campaigners, who have worked hard to diffuse this phase after a spate of tension following the 2017 European Championships. A break in the trot work precluded a lower mark, though scores were earned back with plenty of quality work from the pair.

Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sarah Bullimore rounds out the top five on the diminutive – and occasionally opinionated – Corouet, who posted a rather higher-than-usual 30.9 after looking, like many horses presented today, slightly fresh and distracted in the ring. Now in just his ten-year-old year, the 15.2hh gelding out of Sarah’s former top horse Lilly Corinne and by the notoriously spicy Balou du Rouet has always had a sense of humour, but it’s this quality that has made him into a feisty, clever, and ineffably genuine horse across the country, too. Though Sarah will likely be disappointed not to put a mid-20s score on the board, we last saw the pair finish third here in last season’s Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-L, adding nothing to their first-phase score – and that’s a feat they’re certainly capable of recreating this weekend.

Nini French and Time For Harry soak up the sunshine. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tomorrow’s dressage session features another slew of heavy-hitting combinations, including Yasmin Ingham’s Bansai du Loir, winner of the Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds last season, Izzy Taylor‘s CCI4*-L winner Monkeying AroundLaura Collett‘s Pau victor London 52, World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar BKitty King‘s Bramham winner Vendredi Biats, and plenty more where that came from. How’s that for a Super Saturday?

Welcome to the Pig-pen: the top ten after day one of dressage in section C of the CCI4*-S is dominated by Britain’s leading lady.

Burnham Market: Website | Entries, Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Twitter | EN’s Instagram

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

Whichever side of the fence you sit on where the Grand National is concerned, it’s been hard not to get swept up in the excitement after Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore scooped the big win over the weekend aboard Minella Times, marking the first time a woman has won the race and drawing understandable comparisons with National Velvet. If you follow jump racing on this side of the pond at all, you’ll know that this extraordinary feat is no fluke, either – Rachael was crowned leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival a couple of weeks ago, with a spate of cool-headed, analytical wins for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

In so many ways, racing is lightyears ahead of any of the Olympic disciplines – its financial model is more robust, its workplaces are more regulated, its sponsorship deals cover an enviable array of mainstream brands, and its spectator numbers are dazzling. But in other ways, it lags behind the times in curious ways – and gender equality within the sport is certainly one of them. We’ve become so accustomed to an equal division of the spoils within elite-level eventing that the idea of a female first feels totally implausible – and as Rachael, who’s been asked over and over again about the role her gender plays, and the role she plays to others of her gender, famously quipped after crossing the finish line: “I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t feel human!”

I say we ought to celebrate Rachael’s accomplishment loudly – not just as a female jockey, though the milestone is an enormously important one, but simply as a jockey. Those who race over fences will spend their lives in pursuit of a win in Aintree’s crown jewel, and most won’t even come close, regardless of their gender. Once again, Rachael has proved that she’s among the finest riders in the world: and that’s a statement that requires no further qualification.

National Holiday: It’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. The highest of holy days.

US Weekend Results:

Chattahoochee Hills H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Fair Hill International April H.T. and CCI-S: [Website] [Results]

Twin Rivers Spring International: [Website] [Results]

CDCTA H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Spring Bay H.T.: [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Results:

Breckenbrough: [Results]

Larkhill: [Results]

Norton Disney (1): [Results]

South of England (1): [Results]

Weston Park: [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

Eventing went truly worldwide over the weekend, with a CCI2*-L held at Miki Horseland Park in Japan, levels from CCI1*-S to CCI3*-S held at South Africa’s Dolcoed Equestrian, and a CCI4*-S on the go at Pompadour in France. The latter continues on today, while the other two don’t appear to have any results online yet, making this the shortest and most useless news story you’ll read all day.

Your Monday Reading List:

Saddle Up and Read‘s extraordinary programme, which provides kids with access to both books and horses, has gone big-time. Check out this article from Vogue (!) on founder Caitlin Gooch and her plans for the future. [Saddle Up and Read Literacy Program Combines Reading and Horseback Riding]

It could become a global hub for Covid-19 – so should the Olympics proceed as planned? Journalist Pippa Cuckson puts the Games under a microscope. [The Mother of All Super-Spreader Events]

Meet Kitty King’s Bramham winner and Europeans mount Vendredi Biats. Known as ‘Froggy’ at home, the mercurial Frenchman makes sure there’s never a dull moment for his support team. [‘He’s very special – but also good at bucking you off’: Kitty King on her championship horse Vendredi Biats]

There’s further feedback available on the new study that shows a significant number of event horses suffer lesions to the mouth in competition. The research breaks down a number of factors, including bit size and shape, and could inform future practice where mouth checks are concerned. [Eventing horses should be monitored for bit-related injuries, say researchers]

And finally, there’s a free webinar on this evening at 7 p.m. EST. Headed by three Olympic team veterinarians, it’ll be jam-packed with tips on how best to care for your competition horse, plus scintillating research on science-driven welfare practices and a live Q&A, too. You can register here. 

What I’m Listening To:

I’ve been gobbling up season one of Unobscured while mucking out this week. Aaron Mahnke’s deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of the Salem witch trials might not sound like particularly cheery morning listening, but it’s fascinating stuff, particularly if you, like me, have lost track of the finer points of the story since your school days. It’s also heaving with information I didn’t know at all – for example, that there was a steady stream of refugees (a term I grapple with in this case, admittedly) moving from Maine into Massachusetts in the late 1600s, which played a major part in the unravelling of the already precarious Puritan society. It’s certainly kept me diverted on my trips to the muck heap.

Donation Station:

With this much of a focus on racing in today’s news bulletin, it would be remiss of me not to mention the wonderful Thoroughbreds who leave the track in need of support and care. There are a plethora of exceptional charities around the world, which dedicate themselves to providing essential retraining and rehabilitation to off-the-track Thoroughbreds, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight one: Retraining of Racehorses. Britain’s foremost ex-racehorse charity wears a number of hats, from providing lifelines to horses, running competition series nationwide for retrained racers, offering education and support to owners, and spreading the good word of OTTBs. Check them out today, whether you’re keen to make a donation or simply want access to a wealth of useful information for your own journey with an ex-racehorse.

The FutureTrack Follow:

I’m always interested in new models of horse ownership, and the Event Horse Owners’ Syndicate is bringing something that’s been highly successful in the racing world to our sport. EHOS works with a selection of popular top-level riders, including Laura CollettBen Hobday, and Emily King, offering annual buy-ins on an exciting horse in each yard with a whole range of perks and benefits. The best bit? You could become a syndicate member for just £65 for the whole season. Here’s to innovation!

Morning Viewing:

Rewatch that history-making Grand National win and channel your inner Rachael Blackmore in your ride today.

Carrie Skelton Sets British Eventing Dressage Record of 5.5 (Yes, Really)

It’s not often that an early-season one-day event becomes the stage for a history-making ride, but that’s exactly what Norton Disney Horse Trials in Lincolnshire was transformed into today, as one of its competitors set a new British Eventing dressage record under the critical eye of judge Christine Pappa.

“I thought it was a typo at first and kept waiting for them to change it to a 25.5,” admits Carrie Skelton, who scored an eye-watering 5.5 (no, still not a typo) in the BE100 Open [Training level] section aboard the Lancer Stud’s Ramesses B. “I usually get a 24 dressage, which I’m always over the moon with!”

Though British Eventing’s database of all-time scores isn’t wholly comprehensive, a quick text to EquiRatings’ Diarm Byrne put the score into context: it’s the best score since the database was conclusively pulled together, and with the progressive increase in quality in this phase over the last number of years, it’s highly unlikely that this has been bested. Carrie overtakes previous record-holder Rosie Bates, who scored a 6.3 aboard Forrest Dot Com in a BE80(T) [Beginner Novice] section at the same event last year and Michael Owen and Direct Galaxy, who posted a 7.3 in a BE80(T) at Kelsall Hill in 2019.

“Just make sure you tell everyone I was enjoying a Campari Soda in my white socks watching Messi when the call came,” says a mildly harangued Diarm.

Here it is, folks: the most framable test sheet anyone has ever received. To put it into quite startling context, it bests Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro‘s world record 94.3% by two-tenths of a percentage point. Courtesy of Carrie Skelton.

Carrie took over the ride on Cairo, as he’s known at home, in 2020. Prior to their union, the eleven-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Ramiro B x Wannabe G) was produced by India Thompson, then competed for two seasons by five-star rider Richard Jones, before Martha Craggs, daughter of owners Emma and Marcus, took the reins for the 2019 season.

Though Carrie’s intentions for a full debut season were thwarted by the national lockdown, they still managed four events last year, forming a swift and successful partnership to end the year with a clear round at Novice under their belts as well as two placings and a win, which they notched up in a BE100 Open section at Little Downham Horse Trials.

“Cairo has a wicked sense of humour and will definitely let you know if you’re not on your game, but he gives me 110% every time and is an absolute joy to train and ride,” says Carrie, who has adapted her training regime to suit the horse’s unique needs. “I don’t school him much at home as he’s better fresh, so he does loads of schooling on hacks instead. He finds the dressage so easy and is so correct that it means I can concentrate on being super accurate.”

It’s always tempting to look at an achievement like this under a microscope to try to find out how it was done – and in this case, it probably doesn’t take much searching. Carrie, who worked as an event groom from the age of 16 until she was 24, also worked at a dressage stud, which allowed her to hone her flair for the flatwork.

“I got some amazing experience on seriously top dressage horses with top trainers, which I think has really helped,” she explains. Now, with her grooming days behind her, she’s focusing on her own riding career. Without abundant funding behind her, she’s relied on that finely-tuned work ethic to make it happen, gaining teaching qualifications along the way to help make the financials work. A dream alliance with The Lancer Stud, based in Suffolk, has helped make her dream a reality.

“I ride solely for them now, and they have some seriously special homebreds coming through which is very exciting,” says Carrie, whose role includes backing, bringing on, and competing a selection of the stud’s youngsters. She’s in good company there, too – among the Lancer Stud’s roster of riders is another British record-breaker, Piggy March.

Though Carrie and Cairo’s day at Norton Disney didn’t end quite how they’d have liked – they incurred a frustrating technical elimination on cross-country for missing out a fence in what was otherwise a classy clear round – the pair have their sights set on bigger things to come.

“I would love to go 2* later this year with him as he’s more than capable – I’ll definitely walk the xc a lot for that,” laughs Carrie, who regrouped to compete at the event after a crashing fall while riding at home two days ago. “I’m hugely grateful to Lancer Stud for letting me have the ride on him as it’s such a treat to ride a more experienced horse after doing youngsters for so long and I hope I can do him justice!”

Carrie has very kindly shared a video of her test with EN – though she admits wryly that “the funny thing is I can still pull the test to pieces when I watch it and see a million things I could have done better!” Here’s how they made it happen:

Go Carrie and Cairo, and Go Eventing!

 

Friday Video from SmartPak: Catch a Ride on Riot Gear at the Fork

You know we love a bit of Riot GearElisa Wallace‘s striking Advanced ride owned by Steve Sukup, here at EN. Maybe you’ve already jumped on board the bandwagon too, in which case, you’re in for a treat today. But if you haven’t seen this super gelding in action yet? Heck, you’re in for a treat too. Park yourself behind the happiest ears in the biz and enjoy the ride round The Fork’s CCI3*-S, which took place last week and in which Elisa and Riot Gear finished a very respectable ninth. This is the kind of helmet cam video it’s hard not to love – you can practically feel that jolly, Tigger-like enthusiasm before every fence. We reckon it’s a special treat for Elisa to ride this horse – and we’re delighted she’s sharing the ride with us!

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Laura Collett is Queen of the Comeback

Now I KNOW you didn’t want to know peace on this dreary Wednesday, did you? Why on earth would you want to scroll through the annals of YouTube looking for a cheap thrill when you could have a jolly good cry over five solid minutes of the sort of eventing fairytale we all live for?

In tandem with FEITV, Laura Collett – British eventing superstar and the only CCI5* winner of 2020 – is here to help you get those cathartic tears a-flowing. Over the last number of years, we’ve seen Laura go from strength to strength, producing extraordinary horses and extraordinary results at the upper echelons of the sport. But her journey nearly came to an end back in 2013, when a crashing fall at Tweseldown Horse Trials changed everything for her. Tune in for the full story.

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Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? We are here to help. Contact Kentucky Performance Products, LLC at 859-873-2974 or visit our website at KPPusa.com.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

British Eventing opened its doors to riders of all levels over the weekend, after debuting their Elite events for top-level riders over the latter part of March – and it’s been so great to see everyone enjoying outings in the sunshine, catching up with friends and putting their lockdown lessons to the test. Four-star rider Holly Woodhead certainly came back with a bang, taking two wins from her first event back after a nasty injury last year saw her spend months on crutches. Welcome back, Holly – and welcome back, BE!

National Holiday: It’s Easter Monday – and it’s also, erm, National Hug a Newsperson Day. Maybe don’t though, because ‘rona.

US Weekend Action:

The Fork at TIEC: [Website] [Results]

Pine Hill H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Rocking Horse Spring H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

The Wayer Osborne Equine International Horse Trials took place over the weekend in Brigadoon, Western Australia, with short and long international sections at two- and three-star level, plus a CCI4*-S on the roster. Olympic silver medallist Sonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino took the win in the small (just three starters!) four-star, while Will Baxter and Kdale Mr Collins followed up their CCI3*-S win of two weeks ago at Capel with victory in the CCI3*-L here. Check out the full results here. 

Your Monday Reading List:

I’ve been waiting to watch Netflix’s Concrete Cowboy for like, everWhether you’re the same as me or whether this is the first you’re hearing of the newest horsey offering on the streaming platform, you’re guaranteed to get drawn in by the remarkable true stories behind the film. [The True Story of the Black Cowboys of Philadelphia Depicted in Concrete Cowboy]

How often do you closely inspect your horse’s mouth after a cross-country run? I’ll hold my hands up and say that other than a cursory glance and a quick feel, I don’t do any serious examination – partly because my mare’s not that keen on letting me, and partly because I always assume I’ll know if there’s an issue that requires a closer look. Consider me proved wrong by this new study that suggests we all need to exercise more care. [Study: Bit-Related Lesions Found in 52% of Eventing Horses]

Trakehner breeder Anissa Cottongim sadly passed away in January of this year, but her legacy lives on through a remarkable selection of Trakehners. One of those — Jon Holling‘s Prophet — is making waves at Advanced this season. [Cottongim’s Legacy Lives on in Prophet]

Are you competing in international events this spring? Then CCI5* rider and Harvard scholar Ashley Johnson needs your input. She’s collecting data on elite eventing athletes — click here for more information and to get involved with the study.

The FutureTrack Follow: 

Horses are getting cleverer (and somehow more dexterous) – and Liz Halliday-Sharp‘s Deniro Z is the latest eventer to show off his grasp of hashtags with his own Instagram account. Follow him for a behind-the-scenes look at life in the big leagues.

Open Door of the Week: Are you a talented, British-based young rider without the financial resources to source a quality competition horse? Hambro Sport Horses have launched a unique scholarship opportunity, which will pair you with an exciting BE100 horse and see you join their roster of riders – including CCI5* competitor Tom Jackson – to benefit from support and mentorship. Applications close on the 16th of April, so head over to their website for more information and to apply. 

Morning Viewing:

Honestly, I’ll be thinking about Natasha Baker‘s mum crying in this video for like, the whole week.

#FlashbackFriday Video from SmartPak: Head Back to Checkmate ’91

Roads and tracks, enormous number bibs, and Torrance Watkins – oh my! You all know by now that your faithful friends at Team EN are big fans of a nostalgia trip into eventing history (or should that be horse-story? Ha. I’ll get my coat.) – and RNS Video Media have been trawling through their archives to share some hidden gems from decades gone by.

Today, we’re travelling back in time to Checkmate International Three-Day Event in Ontario, where some of the best North American horses and riders of the early 90s were out in full force. Sew up those porter boots, tuck your chin in that plastic cradle and head down to the start box: it’s time to go eventing, old-school style.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: British Eventing’s Back!

After the longest of winters, it’s beyond exciting to usher in the start of England’s eventing season – a few weeks later than normal, perhaps, but better late than never, right? Though the British Eventing membership at large will get to stretch their legs this weekend, the last couple of weeks have been all about getting elite riders – those preparing for five-stars and championships – out on course. And boy, oh boy, has it been fun to see some of the very best horses and riders in the world doing their thing.

Even though her schedule’s suddenly a whole lot busier, queen of the vlogosphere Piggy March has still found time to document her first competition back, giving the broader eventing world a chance to experience this special behind-closed-doors competition. Sit back, relax, and head to the Midlands to get to grips with Oasby Elite Horse Trials. It’s good to be back.

Need to preserve healthy joints?

Ask your vet about JointWise™.

JointWise:

  • Maintains a balanced immune response within the joint, decreasing damaging inflammation and the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Preserves fluid motion and flexibility.
  • Supplies the building blocks necessary to support normal cartilage growth and the regeneration of damaged tissues.
  • Sustains ample high-quality synovial fluid, which lubricates and nourishes the joints.

For more information, visit KPPvet.com.

Cancelled Spring Internationals in Britain Find New Homes for 2021

Piggy March and Fonbherna Lancer in Little Downham’s inaugural CCI4*-S. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

What goes up must come down, yada yada; as eventers in a pandemic, we’re all perfectly familiar with the concept (and, of course, the disappointment). But thanks to the fast action and forward thinking of a bevy of eventing organisers in the UK, it’s beginning to look like that which goes down may well get a chance to get back up, dust itself off, and kick on for the finish. After the gutting of the spring international calendar in England left riders and owners scrabbling for a season plan for their horses, nearly all the heretofore cancelled competitions have been reinstated – each in temporary new homes.

Although we won’t see a relocated Badminton, the iconic Bramham CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L for under-25s will run at Devon’s popular Bicton Arena. Though the West Country facility hasn’t yet hosted a four-star, it’s a much-loved and well-established national and international fixture, and a plethora of riders lent their voice of support to its bid for Bramham this year. The competition will take Bramham’s scheduled dates of June 9–13.

Chatsworth’s CCI4*-S, which ordinarily takes place the weekend after Badminton, is another destination event for riders – and though they won’t have the chance to gallop through Queen Mary’s Bower in 2021, prolific national venue Aston-le-Walls has stepped up to host its CCI2*-S, CCI4*-S and Advanced sections, plus a range of Novice and Intermediate sections from May 12–16.

Belsay Horse Trials has also stepped up to host a CCI2*-L for juniors, which will take place June 3–5, while Cirencester Park makes a welcome return to the BE calendar, hosting the cancelled Withington Manor’s May 1–2 fixture, which features Novice through Advanced national sections and two CCI2*-S sections, including a pony section.

Where some see doors closing, others see opportunities – and this has certainly proven true for Tina Ure, organiser of Cambridgeshire’s Childeric Little Downham Horse Trials. The event, which hosts a well-subscribed Advanced class in the autumn, designed as preparation for Pau, launched its feature CCI4*-S last year – and this spring, the team is excited to debut an idea that Tina’s been dreaming up for several years. Following the cancellation of the Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International, Tina has teamed up with Rachael Faulkner of Hampshire’s Tweseldown Horse Trials, sponsored by the Lucinda Green XC Academy, to launch Little Tweseldownham International. The two separate events will take place consecutively, with Tweseldown hosting competitions on May 20 and 21, and Little Downham taking the stage on May 22 and 23. Each event will offer Novice and Intermediate sections as well as Rockingham’s CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S classes – but in an exciting twist for riders, these international sections will take place over the course of one day, minimising the need for on-site stabling, limiting biosecurity risks and keeping costs lower for riders and owners.

“Like so many owners I had been looking forward to watching my horses compete at the stunning Rockingham Castle, but will have to wait for next year,” said Tina. “I am grateful to British Eventing for endorsing this joint bid with Tweseldown and our innovative timetable that will enable both professional and amateur riders the opportunity to complete CCI-S in one day, something that has been a long-time ambition of mine.

“I have shared the frustration of many owners and riders about the additional expenses often incurred to compete at this level and welcomed the opportunity to try something different. Working with Rachael at Tweseldown is a new collaborative venture aimed at maximising the competition opportunities for all despite the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus and EHV-1.”

Several top-level riders lent their support to Tina and Rachael’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“This new format is a much needed and long-awaited development and could be just what’s needed to help revive and lift the sport,” said Burghley winner Caroline Powell. “Keeping the costs low and limiting the need for onsite stabling will make the FEI classes more accessible for new competitors and makes it more financially viable for professional riders and owners.”

Full-time vet and CCI5* competitor Katie Preston agreed: “Being able to do a CCI3*-S in one day, at the weekend, would be a big advantage to those of us who have to juggle annual leave. By the time you’ve factored in 3 days off for a Spring and Autumn long format and then the time off for 4-5 short formats in a season it doesn’t leave you any days for an actual holiday.

“Onsite stabling is so expensive that I will often look for local stabling and drive in each day. This format would really reduce the costs and hassle for a large number of riders.”

Young professional Alex Whewall praised the economic efficiency of the decision as a business owner: “Rockingham was a key fixture for me with the younger 3* horses so it is really good to see it’s being replaced. As a professional rider running a smaller operation the CCI events can get expensive for me as a business, as it requires longer periods of time away and therefore increased staff costs to cover the horses at home.

“Having a choice of very good locations, with good ground and organisation is really good. The real bonus will be getting the CCI done in one day.  That is going to be a benefit to a lot of people and we’re really keen to see how it will work.”

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

It’s finally here! As of today, England’s lockdown restrictions are loosening just enough to allow for organised sport to take place and for individuals to leave their local area with reason – and that means that competitions and facility hire can begin again for anyone not in the ‘elite’ sportsperson bracket. The past number of months have felt like the longest, toughest off-season ever, with much of the country in total shutdown since before Christmas, so you’d better believe there’s some celebrating going on today in arenas up and down the country. Roll on (something like) normal life!

National Holiday: It’s National Mom and Pop Business Owners’ Day. We LOVE supporting small businesses, and we highly recommend celebrating by treating yourself to some new saddle pads from your friendly local tack shop owner. It’s only right.

US Weekend Results:

Galway Downs International H.T.: [Website] [Results] [EN’s Coverage]

Stable View Spring 1*/2*/3*/4*: [Website] [Results] [EN’s Coverage]

Full Gallop Farm March II H.T.: [Website] [Results]

March H.T. at Majestic Oaks: [Website] [Results]

Morven Park H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Poplar Place Farm March H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Texas Rose Spring H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

Puhinui International Horse Trials in New Zealand was the only international to take place outside of the US over the weekend, but with levels from CCI2*-S to CCI4*-S on the roster, it certainly didn’t mess around.

Full-time farrier Jake Barham and Atlan took the CCI4*-S win, climbing from 5th to take top honours after dressage leaders Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation withdrew before the jumping phases. Waikato-based Jake secured his win by adding just 7.2 time penalties over a course that proved a tough challenge against the clock. Kyle Calder and Apteryx scooped the three-star honours, while the two-star went the way of Heelan Tompkins and CP Aurelio. You can check out the full results here.

Your Monday Reading List:

Poland is planning an innovative new pension system for animals in state service, allowing them safety and security after their careers finish. The new law will affect more than 1200 serving dogs and 60 horses, and acknowledges the enormous risks that these animals undertake while aiding their community. Their tough careers often mean that retirement necessarily involves extensive – and expensive – veterinary care and experienced handling, which the fund will provide for. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this, but well done to Poland for doing the right thing. [Poland plans pensions for dogs, horses in state employment]

Shopping for a new helmet? If it’s been a while, you might be slightly baffled by the introduction of a new acronym on the market – MIPS. Check out this super-informative article to find out what makes MIPS a must-have in your kit. [Building a Better Helmet: MIPS and Why it Matters]

London Gladney is well on her way to becoming a history-making barrel racing champion. The daughter of Dihigi Gladney, best known for his part in the training of California Chrome, London is a fierce competitor and a consummate horsewoman – and now she’s paving the way for other riders in her arena of choice. [London Gladney has talent — and will — to become first Black barrel racing NFR champion]

Did you write King Lear during lockdown? No, nor did I – and if you want to feel even worse about those endless Netflix binges (hey, I’ve watched all of Sex and the City over the last month), here’s a pony who wrote his first book while stuck at home without much else to do. Show-off. [Lockdown enables riding school’s young pony to write his first book]

Lockdown might be easing, but all’s not clear in the UK’s equestrian guidelines. The latest issue? A disagreement over whether indoor arenas can reopen along with other facilities. [Britain’s indoor equestrian arenas fall foul of Covid protocols]

The FutureTrack Follow:

Black Equestrians has everything I want in a horsey Instagram account: profiles on talented riders across the disciplines (love this; I’m nosy), digestible educational nuggets on topical issues, and seriously gorgeous photos. Follow and treat your feed to some quality.

Morning Viewing:

Do your rounds unravel halfway through a showjumping course? It’s probably because of your turns. Check out Caroline Moore‘s super advice for perfecting them – an essential skill for both jumping phases.

 

 

 

Friday Video from SmartPak: Meet Caroline Clarke, the 5* Dentist

Competing at the uppermost echelons of the sport is an extraordinarily time-consuming undertaking – for every hour spent in the saddle, there are countless others spent working on your own fitness, managing and seeking vital sponsorship deals, mapping out season plans for your string and, of course, contributing to the huge amount of labour that keeping horses healthy and happy requires. On top of all this, the vast majority of riders need to put considerable time and effort into making ends meet financially. For many, this comes down to teaching, training, and selling horses – but for some impressive multitaskers, a busy career off the yard helps to fund exceptional efforts in the saddle.

This is the case for Caroline Clarke, British CCI5* eventer and NHS dentist. In this interview with Ruth Gregory, she shares her exciting story so far and the balancing act she’s perfected to make it happen. Turns out it really does take a village!

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: The Secrets of Success at the Billy Stud

Before champions can be made, they must be born – and both these steps, and then a few more, can be found in action in West Sussex, England, at The Billy Stud. Home to eventing legend Pippa Funnell and her husband, top showjumper William Funnell, The Billy Stud is in the business of building tomorrow’s superstars from the bottom up.

Now in its 22nd year, the stud is one of Britain’s most successful breeding operations – and its forward-thinking virtual and in-house sales mean that anyone with some funds to spare can add a Billy youngster to their spring. But what goes into bringing up baby for a career on the world’s biggest stages? Go behind the scenes with the FEI to discover the Funnells’ horses-first ethos.

Need to preserve healthy joints?

Ask your vet about JointWise™.

JointWise:

  • Maintains a balanced immune response within the joint, decreasing damaging inflammation and the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Preserves fluid motion and flexibility.
  • Supplies the building blocks necessary to support normal cartilage growth and the regeneration of damaged tissues.
  • Sustains ample high-quality synovial fluid, which lubricates and nourishes the joints.

For more information, visit KPPvet.com.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

Spring is so close now that I can practically taste it in the air. Here in the UK, our clocks change this week – but over the last 36 hours, everything’s turned green and the blossoms and blooms have reappeared with a vengeance. This off-season has felt like a long hibernation, and although competitions won’t start for another couple of weeks for us mere mortals, British Eventing’s ‘elite’ season openers are well underway. If I can’t get out eventing my own horse just yet, a full day of live-stream action from Oasby Elite OI – jam-packed with the country’s best horses – is a pretty good alternative. 

National Holiday: It’s Daffodil Day. TBH, seeing a sea of yellow appear on the verges of the lanes over the past few days has been a huge moral boost, so thanks, lil’ dudes.

US Weekend Action:

Carolina International CCI and H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Ocala Winter II H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Pine Top Farm Spring H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Southern Arizona Eventing Association H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

It’s been another busy weekend Down Under, with The Horseland Australian Championships at Wandin Park hosting international classes from CCI2*-S to CCI4*-S, plus a CCI3*L. 23-year-old Samuel Jeffree took the four-star riding Woodmount Lolita, marking his first four-star win – and fourth international win with the mare – and becoming the Australian National Champion. Sam’s an impressive force to be reckoned with in his home country, having competed up to Intermediare in pure dressage, too – and if his name looks familiar, you might have come across him in 2019 when he spent six weeks working for Boyd Martin.

Your Monday Reading List:

New research has uncovered another chapter in the story of equine evolution. Come for the scintillating scientific intel, stay for the ‘stilt-legged horses’. Think we’ve seen a few of those in real life. [New revelations on the evolution of the horse revealed in fresh study]

Honestly, sometimes I think our horses exist solely to embarrass us in public in creative ways. You might remember this throwback, courtesy of Horse&Hound – it’s a real doozy. [Throwback to this ultimate ‘I can’t believe it’ equestrian competition moment…]

Fancy some footwork exercises this week? Canada’s Waylon Roberts has the layout you need to help prepare for the season to come. [Grid Pro Quo: Waylon Roberts]

Struggling to shorten your horse’s frame and manage true collection and connection? Dressage rider Charly Edwards‘s exercise will get you well on your way in your schooling sessions this week. [#SundaySchool: How to collect your horse]

“I guess it’s over. My relationship is over, and there’s nothing left to repair because I managed to end it. I killed it.” Showjumper Dani Waldman shares her story in Noelle Floyd‘s ongoing mental health series. [Dani G. Waldman: My Tipping Point] 

The FutureTrack Follow:

If you love vintage photos and paintings of equestrians, Jodhpurs and Sons will tick all your boxes. Fascinating history, gorgeous sepia-toned snapshots, and lots of elephant ear breeches – it’s perfect escapism into the rich tapestry of equestrianism.

Morning Viewing:

Arena eventing is a huge part of many horses’ and riders’ off-season education in Europe – and if you want to steal some ideas for your own arena, this comprehensive video from a recent competition in Ireland’s Development Series will certainly inspire you.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Team Ireland’s Bringing Boybands Back (And It’s the Stuff of Nightmares)

I apologise, dear viewer, for the horrors that are about to unfold in front of you. Today’s video instalment may only be a short one, but we suspect you’ll be glad not to gaze in terror into the smirking and animated eyes of Padraig McCarthy (top right) for any longer than absolutely necessary as he and some of the lads from the Irish team – that’s Cathal Daniels (top left), Sam Watson (middle left), Joseph Murphy (middle right), Austin O’Connor (bottom left) and Brian Morrison (bottom right) – deliver you straight back to the dance floors of the noughties. Prepare to have the song stuck in your head, and worse, these extraordinarily creepy faces manifesting themselves in your nightmares for weeks to come.

Go, erm, eventing…?

Switzerland’s Avenches To Host 2021 FEI European Championships for Eventing

Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke and Cathal Daniels celebrate their individual medals at the 2019 Longines FEI European Eventing Championships. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

After a thorough bidding process, the FEI has awarded the relocated 2021 Longines European Championships for Eventing to Switzerland’s Avenches National Equestrian Institute, with the competition now formally scheduled to take place from 22–26 September.

Avenches, which is owned by the Vogg family – best known to global eventing fans, perhaps, for CCI5* competitor Felix – beat the Netherlands’ Military Boekelo and Italy’s Montelibretti in the bidding process, which was reopened after a widespread social media campaign led by Michael Jung put pressure on the FEI to reinstate this year’s previously cancelled European Championships.

Jung’s plea for a reinstated Championship named the established CCI4*-S venue at Avenches as a viable and prepared location, helmed by a “motivated and experienced” team. He went on to explain that the new Olympic format, which sees just three combinations represent each qualified team, furthered the necessity for these Championships as a way to progress the next generation of team competitors and continue the development of young eventing nations.

Though the FEI initially took a firm stance on the cancellation of the Championships, even after the reinstatement of dressage and show jumping’s respective Championships, the momentum gained by the campaign saw them capitulate to popular demand. Now, with two major championships on the calendar in the latter half of 2021, the season is looking rather more exciting indeed.

Haras du Pin will host the European Championships in 2023 after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics caused a scheduling issue for the French venue. Photo courtesy of Haras du Pin.

“We are pleased to have the Swiss venue of Avenches hosting the 2021 Championships,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “Following last year’s postponement of the Tokyo Games, the FEI had originally cancelled European Championships in all three Olympic and Paralympic disciplines so that the focus could remain on the Games in 2021, but our community encouraged us to review that decision and we listened to those voices. After carefully reviewing three strong bids, which also included Boekelo in the Netherlands and Montelibretti in Italy, the FEI Board voted to allocate this year’s FEI Eventing European Championship to Avenches.”

“We are happy to be able to give our community something to look forward to during these difficult days as we tackle the EHV-1 outbreak and work to put in place protocols to get our horses and athletes back to competing again.”

2021’s allocation wasn’t the only major decision made in yesterday’s (March 16) teleconference. The 2023  European Championships were also awarded, and will take place at France’s Haras du Pin – the original intended site for this year’s competition.

 

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: At Home with Team Sweden

Ever wondered who the coaches behind some of eventing’s global teams are? In this new video from FEITV, you’ll meet Fred Bergendorff, chef d’equipe of the Swedish team and undeniable provider of eye candy at major events all over Europe.

Though many of Sweden’s riders have made waves on the world stage, the team is something of a work-in-progress – but they’re swiftly gaining on the leading nations, bagging a qualification for Tokyo, a Nations Cup series win, and a European Championships bronze medal in 2019. Now, even with the spectre of coronavirus looming overhead, they continue to go from strength to strength – thanks to some savvy adaptability and an awful lot of Zoom calls.

With both the Olympics and the European Championships on their schedule for the year ahead, could we be on the cusp of watching the great Swedish takeover?

Need to preserve healthy joints?

Ask your vet about JointWise™.

JointWise:

  • Maintains a balanced immune response within the joint, decreasing damaging inflammation and the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Preserves fluid motion and flexibility.
  • Supplies the building blocks necessary to support normal cartilage growth and the regeneration of damaged tissues.
  • Sustains ample high-quality synovial fluid, which lubricates and nourishes the joints.

For more information, visit KPPvet.com.

Chatsworth International Joins 2021 Roster of COVID Cancellations

Tim Price and Xavier Faer. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s been rather a grim fortnight for eventing folks in the United Kingdom, with a plethora of international cancellations obliterating much of the spring and early summer calendar. And things don’t appear to be perking up with any urgency: on Friday, March 12, the team behind the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials, set to take place May 14–16, announced that they, too, had fallen victim to ongoing pandemic regulations.

“Like so many other events, the challenges we face this year are very similar to those we experienced in 2020,” explained Patricia Clifton, Horse Trials Director in a statement. “The government roadmap out of the pandemic provides many reasons for hope, but it has been made very clear that the dates given are ‘best case’ and subject to change. As a result. we do not feel that we can guarantee the high standards of safety and quality that we usually would, not only to everyone directly involved but also the local area, which is always so supportive.”

Chatsworth, which hosts classes through CCI4*-S, including, in better years, a leg of the Event Rider Masters series, is a hugely popular fixture – a fact evidenced by its annual flood of entries, which make a spot at the Derbyshire competition especially highly-coveted. It’s also a valuable stepping stone to long-format competitions – and its loss represents another huge blow for riders aiming for Tokyo this summer.

“It is desperately sad that we have to cancel for the second year in succession, especially as we have been working really hard with all stakeholders, including British Eventing, to find some sort of solution, but it has proved a challenge too far,” continued the statement. “Another significant issue was the impossibility of us, or to our knowledge any events, obtaining insurance against the pandemic.”

The Duchess of Devonshire, who so generously opens her estate each year to the wider community, commented, “I am extremely grateful to Patricia and her team for the time and energy they have put in to try and enable this year’s event to go ahead. This decision was not an easy one, however, throughout the pandemic the health and wellbeing of our visitors, colleagues, partners and local communities has always been our number one priority, and this remains the case.”

Title sponsor Dodson & Horrell’s Managing Director, Sam Horrell said: “While we are naturally disappointed that this fantastic event will not take place in 2021, we are very thankful to everyone at Chatsworth who have worked tirelessly over the past few months to try and make the horse trials happen. We instead look to the future and very much look forward to the 2022 event.”

The 2022 iteration is set to take place from May 13-15, subject to confirmation from British Eventing. In the meantime, British-based riders will need to get creative as they grapple to plot their roads to Tokyo and beyond – though some savvy organisers may have a solution up their sleeves. Keep it locked onto EN for all the updates.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

It was Mothers’ Day yesterday in the UK, and although US readers won’t celebrate until May, we couldn’t help but share this sweet tribute to the great Mary King, posted by daughter Emily. Two words, folks: MATCHING. HAIRCUTS. Cue the heart-eyes emoji.

National Holiday: It’s the Ides of March. Great, something else for my horse to spook at.

US Weekend Action:

Red Hills International H.T.: [Website] [Results] [EN’s Coverage]

Copper Meadows H.T.: [Website] [Results]

Full Gallop Farm H.T.: [Website] [Results]

MeadowCreek Park Spring Social Event: [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

It’s been another good weekend for our eventing friends Down Under, who headed en masse to Tamworth International in New South Wales to contest classes from CCI2*-S through CCI4*-S, plus a bevy of national-level classes.

Australian eventing has committed itself to increasing the safety of the sport, and Tamworth’s organisers provided a sterling example of this renewed effort, rejigging courses and removing fences in response to a gloomy weather forecast that impacted ground conditions.

The CCI4*-S class went to home nation superstars Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford, while Andrew Cooper and Manhattan produced two foot-perfect jumping phases to take the CCI3*-S. You can check out the full results here.

Your Monday Reading List:

After a horrific car accident took her fiancé and her career, showjumper Sammy Backstrom felt as though she’d lost everything. But now, she’s back in the saddle and once again pursuing the dreams that took her to the World Cup when she was just 18. Her inspirational story will light a fire in you this morning. [Rider who lost her fiancé and showjumping career in horrific car crash is back in the game with high hopes]

Speaking of plucky women who jump colossal fences, the Chronicle is looking back at the story of Gail Greenough – the first woman to take individual gold in showjumping at the World Show Jumping Championships. What a gal. [Throwback Thursday: Living Legend Gail Greenough]

If you’ve ever experienced burnout, you know it’s no joke. And with the long hours, high expectations, and low wages common to the horse industry, it’s not at all uncommon, either. This anonymous letter, written by a young professional, explains the phenomenon – and what it could mean for the wider industry. [There May Be No Future Horse Trainers: An Inside Look at a Young Professional’s Burnout]

We’re all keeping a close eye on EHV-1 outbreaks in our respective areas. But there’s a lot of misinformation about the disease itself making the rounds on social media. Get to grips with EHV-1 – and EHM, the neurological virus that spread in Valencia – here. [The Deadly Strain: When EHV-1 Becomes EHM]

Calling all Cambox helmet cam users! Did you pick up a new Cambox during their Black Friday sale last year? Are you a huge fan of snapping on your helmet cam for a cross country run? We’d love to feature your helmet cam video right here on EN! If you use a Cambox Isi3 or V4, we want to hear from you! Please email [email protected] with your video link and description.

Our weekly email newsletter is getting a facelift! Starting this Friday, we’ll transition to our all-new weekly email, the EN #ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)! Catch up on news you may have missed from the week, as well as useful links for the upcoming weekend’s events. It’s free to sign up – you can do so here.

The FutureTrack Follow:

The concept behind The Positive Equestrian is a simple one: promote the good stuff in the horse world and highlight the people who make it happen. In these dark days of doom-scrolling, it’s a little ray of light on our feeds.

Morning Viewing:

Planning an intense schooling session today (or, heaven help you, stacking some hay bales)? Try these dynamic stretches from equestrian fitness pro Nicola Stuart to help you fend off any latent soreness afterwards.

#FlashbackFriday Video from SmartPak: Atlanta ’96 in the Rearview

One of my favourite YouTube accounts is that of vintageeventing, an benevolent and anonymous purveyor of, well, exactly what you’d expect – long form vintage eventing videos from deep in the vaults. I don’t know who this person is, but I like to imagine them sitting comfortably atop a throne made of discarded VHS tapes, occasionally deigning to bestow a Horse Trials Review from 1990 upon us ravenous nerds of the internet. Thank you, whoever you are.

This week, the bosom from which we sup has truly yielded the goods, with over 25 minutes of top-notch eventing action from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Yes, that does mean that people who were born in 1996 are now halfway to 50, and yes, I’ve already cycled through the appropriate crisis responses to this realisation and am on hand to provide support as you do the same.) Featuring legends of the sport such as Blyth Tait, David O’Connor, and a bevy of misting tents and fans – which you’ll agree were undeniably the true heroes of the day, if you’ve ever been to Atlanta in August.

There’s also a really interesting fall in this video – and I know that’s an odd thing to say, so bear with me. Ian Stark and Stanwick Ghost parted company coming out of the water complex after a stumble up a bank and were extraordinarily lucky not to have a full rotational; but if the mechanics of this type of fall is something that you’re keen to learn more about as the conversation around safety gains in intensity, it’s well worth jumping on the opportunity to study the factors that come into play in this instance. (And – spoiler alert, in case you feel squeamish about watching a fall – both were totally fine and went on to complete the course. The good old days, eh!)

Go (vintage) Eventing!

CHIO Aachen Confirms Postponement to September

Ingrid Klimke takes victory at Aachen 2019. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The World Equestrian Festival at CHIO Aachen has announced confirmation of its postponement from late June. The multi-discipline competition will now take place from September 10–19, 2021, a move that organisers hope will allow the best chance for spectator access to the show.

Aachen, which is situated near Germany’s border with the Netherlands and was launched in 1924, is one of the most hotly-anticipated equestrian events in the global calendar, with Nations Cup competitions across the CCI4*-S eventing competition, a leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, Grand Prix dressage, the Sparkasse vaulting prize, and combined driving occupying spots on the roster alongside fan favourites such as the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies and the Ride and Drive competition, perhaps the only evening in which one can pay to see Michael Jung attempt to sprint across an arena. In short, it’s rather akin to Disneyland for horse people – and that’s before we’ve even addressed the expansive shopping village (with its apparently endless variety of sausages on offer) the glitzy Champions’ Circle with its free bar, and the €2.7 million in prize money distributed through the show.

Michael Jung and Star Connection at Aachen. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But intrinsic to the success of a show like this – which is just as much a celebration of equestrian sport and culture as it is a top-level line-up of competitions – is the spectators, of which there are ordinarily more than 350,000. Though COVID regulations continue to gently ease throughout Europe, the show’s organisers feared that their original dates would see too many restrictions still in place in Germany.

This isn’t, of course, the first time we’ve seen this happen. In 2020, the CHIO was ultimately cancelled after an initial postponement – and although the pandemic is in a very different place now, much of Europe is grappling with missed vaccination deadlines, shortages, and roll-out issues. Still, Aachen’s team is optimistic about hosting the show in its temporary autumn slot.

“Everyone is extremely looking forward to the CHIO Aachen 2021, whereby health and safety are of course priority number one,” said Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Managing Board of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), which organises the event. “The CHIO Aachen 2021 is going to be a top show, just like we are accustomed to, with all five disciplines and the best horses and riders.”

A return to the buzz and camaraderie of a pre-COVID world is Aachen’s biggest hope for their new dates. Photo courtesy of CHIO Aachen/Andreas Steindl.

Though the delay has been necessitated to accommodate spectators, Kemperman emphasises that no one yet knows what COVID restrictions will look like in September. Because of this, the competition is allowing some flexibility for ticketholders who had rolled over their 2020 passes: they can wait, seek a refund, or roll their tickets over to 2022 – or, if in a particularly philanthropic mood – they can donate the sum paid to the show. Ticketholders can fill out a form here to make their choice, and will receive communication from the show in the next few days.

“We expect that we will know which spectator capacities are possibly going to be allowed by mid-June,” said Kemperman, who plans to open the box office for this year’s competition then.

Head to the Aachen website to keep an eye on the box office – and, of course, to whet your appetite for the best trip any equestrian could ever hope to make.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Elisa Wallace Hits a Career Best

As riders, we’re all in constant competition with ourselves – can we nail those marginal gains and be more accurate, more expressive, and closer to something like perfect with every outing? Of course, we all know true perfection doesn’t exist in equestrian sport, and that’s part of the reason why it’s both so frustrating and so ceaselessly motivating. There’s quite literally always room for improvement.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all shout from the damn rooftops when we hit a personal best milestone in our riding. And that’s just what Elisa Wallace did in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse, where she and Riot Gear earned her a career-best score of 17.1 (yes, it’s okay if you, like me, cry with happiness any time you make it into the 20s) and her first-ever 10. We love to see it. Check out her test – with an educational voiceover from Elisa herself – to nab some of her secrets to getting the job done on the day.

Go Eventing!

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Bramham Cancels 2021 Event

Hallie Coon’s Celien is walked in front of Bramham’s colossal centrepiece. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The organising team behind the EquiTrek Bramham International Horse Trials has announced the cancellation of 2021’s event, set to take place June 9–13.

“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must announce that this year’s horse trials is cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said the team in a statement released this afternoon (March 8). The event, which hosts a CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, and CCI4*-L for under-25s, is considered one of the world’s foremost four-stars, with challenging tracks built by Ian Stark across the sprawling Wetherby, West Yorkshire estate. This year, it would have served as an important selection trial on the road to the Tokyo Olympics, set to be held later in the summer. Despite the best efforts of the event’s team, though, safety logistics forced the decision to pull the event from the calendar for the second year in a row.

“Whilst the government’s positive road map to exit lockdown, successful vaccine rollout programme and falling case numbers provided some optimism that the event could run, the proposed conditions are impossible to comply with on the Bramham site, even assuming the government’s timetable does not slip,” continued the statement. “We’ve explored every avenue possible to keep Bramham 2021 in the calendar. However, the health, safety, and welfare of all who are involved in the event, or come to watch it, is our number one priority and we just can’t guarantee that within the government’s rules.”

The statement cited several stumbling blocks to the successful hosting of the event, including diminished spectator numbers, the practical difficulty of enforcing social distancing, and the presence of several public footpaths running through the event site.

“Due to the nature and scale of the event, it is impossible to enforce social distancing reasonably. The extent of the site makes it unfeasible to completely control public access. Sadly, a park isn’t the same as a stadium and whilst there’s plenty of space, we can’t guarantee social distancing in busy areas. We’re a 500-acre park with several footpaths crossing the estate and with spectator numbers limited to 4,000, we can’t be confident on keeping to this.”

“The team […] are deeply disappointed to admit defeat, despite our best efforts. Having missed last year and this being an Olympic year, when Bramham would have been important to many nations for team selection, we wanted to put on a memorable competition. Sadly we can’t guarantee a COVID-secure show ground and feel it would be irresponsible to run.”

“The team at Bramham would like to thank our loyal sponsors and volunteers, all owners, riders, and grooms, trade stands, contractors and spectators for their continued support, which has made this decision all the more difficult. We look forward to welcoming you back to Bramham in 2022.”