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Friday Video from SmartPak: Perfect Plaits – Just Like Piggy’s

Are neat, perfectly spherical plaits – that’s braids, for you yanks among us – something you’ve always dreamt of but never quite managed to nail down? If so, then you’re in luck, because Piggy March‘s travelling groom Amy Phillips is showing us exactly how she gets her horses ready to go out and win, you know, everything. If you’re a plaiting pro but have only ever banded, give this a watch, too – Amy provides an easy primer to using a needle and thread super-neat, ultra-secure ball plaits. Consider this the ideal out-of-the-saddle afternoon activity – and no, it’s absolutely not too lavish to come out at a one-day with Badminton-worthy sewn plaits when all this is behind us. #WhatWouldPiggyDo?

Bored at Home? Here’s an Online Event You Can Enter from Your Camera Roll

Tim Lips, shown here piloting Herby around the Young Horse World Championships, takes on judging duties. Photo by EquusPix.

Wouldn’t self-isolation be a bit of alright if we could all just crack on with our four-legged partners, whiling away long hours in the saddle, improving our performances for the restart of the season? Unfortunately, life in a pandemic isn’t quite so straightforward, and for a variety of reasons – temporary stable closures, bans in certain countries, or a desire not to burden health services – many riders are finding themselves grounded for now. While a spate of remote coaching and competing opportunities have started popping up online, few of them have catered to the widening demographic of horse people without a horse to ride. That’s why we’re particularly excited about a three-week, three-phase event that’s being held by the Netherlands’ Bavaria 0.0 Event Team. This star-studded team, helmed by Olympian Tim Lips, is in charge of the judging, and you – wherever you may be based – are the field of entrants.

The process? Simple. This week is dressage week, and today is the deadline to submit a 60-second video of yourself riding on the flat at home. To submit, simply upload your video to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #onlineeventingcompetition and #bavaria00eventingteam, and tag the Bavaria 0.0 Event Team if you’re on Facebook, or @eventing_team if you’re on Instagram. Make sure your post is public so they can see it. Then, pop your video in an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Online Eventing Competition” and your name.

Dressage videos will be assessed on Monday, the 6th of April, and then you’ll be able to post your 60-second showjumping entry. Entries can be submitted from 10.00 a.m. Dutch time (9.00 a.m. BST/4.00 a.m. Eastern) on the 6th of April until 18.00 Dutch time (17.00 BST/12.00 p.m. Eastern) on the 10th of April. Finally, 60-second cross-country videos can be submitted from 10.00 a.m. Dutch time (9.00 a.m. BST/4.00 a.m. Eastern) on the 13th of April until 18.00 Dutch time (17.00 BST/12.00 p.m. Eastern) on the 17th of April. Final assessments will take place on the 20th of April, after which a slew of excellent prizes will be awarded, including…

  • 1st place: a CWD martingale and a full set of Air Tech eventing boots from Kentucky Horsewear
  • 2nd place: a sweet iron loose ring snaffle, single or double jointed from TRUST and a high-quality garment from Onori Fashion & Gifts
  • 3rd place: a bag of Blue Hors goodies from Welfare Horse & Care
  • Overall originality prize: a pair of breeches from Petrie

So how does this cater to a grounded rider? Well, while the competition has been designed for those who can specially record a video, the guidelines are gentle enough to allow for other submissions, as long as you follow a few rules.

  • Videos must have been taken at the yard – no travelling allowed
  • Videos from lessons or shows are not eligible
  • All three phases must be completed aboard the same horse
  • Bavaria beer for the best rider over 18

Other than that, those 60 seconds are yours to play with: you can show off exactly what you and your horse do best. If you’ve got a video from a previous schooling session that fits the bill, that’s great – consider yourself part of the show! Full terms and further information can be found here.

Here’s how entrants will be judged:

Dressage

The participant is allowed to submit a video of a maximum of 60 seconds. In this video, the participant can show at whatever the dressage level of the combination is. That could be a walk-trot test, or you might want to show off your upper-level movements. Emphasize your strong points.

The participant is assessed on:

  • Riding skills and effectiveness of the aids
  • The straightness and relaxation of the pony/horse
  • The posture and seat of the rider
 Showjumping

The participant is allowed to submit a video of a maximum of 60 seconds. In this video, the participant can show at whatever level they’re comfortable with. Any type of fence and height is acceptable. Participants can send a video of a full course, combinations, grids, or even single fences.

The participant is assessed on:

  • Riding of the lines towards and after the obstacle(s)
  • Control of the tempo and impulsion
  • The straightness and relaxation of the pony/horse
  • The posture and seat of the rider
Cross-country

The participant is allowed to submit a video of a maximum of 60 seconds. Any height or type of fence is allowed, but the video must have been filmed where you keep your horse. No cross country obstacles available? Be creative! As long as you’re safe, anything goes.

The participant is assessed on:

  • Riding of the lines towards and after the obstacle(s)
  • Control of the tempo and impulsion
  • Preparation for the obstacle
  • The straightness and relaxation of the pony/horse
  • The posture and seat of the rider

Excuse us while we scroll through our camera rolls – we’ve got a show to enter!

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: The Dressage Score of Dreams

Happy birthday, Ingrid Klimke! It’s been another year of kicking the proverbial and taking names, and even though none of us can beat you, we also can’t bring ourselves to resent you, because you’re just so damn nice. But you know what we can do? We can watch you, eagle-eyed, and try to figure out what it is that makes you do crazy things like throw down a 16.4 dressage at Wiesbaden’s Event Rider Masters leg in 2019. And believe us, we’re watching.

Studying the masters is a tried-and-true technique that yields improvement in any discipline – there’s a reason you’ll always spot the world’s top riders lurking by the collecting ring. They’re not necessarily sizing up their competition – they’re learning from them, and amalgamating the best bits of what they see into a better performance when they get into the ring. The best thing about learning by watching? You can do it any time, anywhere, and you don’t need to get on a horse straight away to reap the rewards. If you’re grounded by a shelter in place order, you can still come back even better than your best. We promise. (As a totally anecdotal bit of evidence, I had to go without riding for a period of time a few years ago for a couple of reasons, and I spent my free time watching every video I could get my grubby little hands on and backing it up by reading training articles and books so I could better understand what I was watching, and why it worked. When I finally got back on board? I was able to do things I’d never mastered before. Like riding a shoulder-in to the left, which had confounded my poor, uncoordinated body for years. Just me? Ah well.)

There’s no better way to learn than from the very best, and not only does this video show off a sparkling performance in the ring, it also offers a glimpse of some of the preparation behind it – like the interesting fact that Ingrid was one of very few riders to get off her horse’s back and rise to the trot before entering at A. Does that make a difference? We’d be willing to bet it does.

What are some of your go-to videos for learning by watching? Drop them in the comments!

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Event Horse Madness: The Elite Eight

You ever do that thing where, in the middle of a global pandemic and a national lockdown, you just forget what day it is? Yeah, me too. On the plus side, that means you guys got a few extra days to go to battle for your favourite horses in the Sweet Sixteen round – and boy, did you ever. Now, we’re down to just eight horses, fighting it out for the chance to be the winner of EN’s Event Horse Madness, 2020 edition. Let’s have a quick recap of how gameplay goes down.

HOW IT WORKS

32 of the world’s best event horses will come together in an NCAA-style bracket, with the winners of each bracket advancing to the next round and facing a formidable new opponent. In order to avoid a year-long argument amongst team EN — and because we’d really, really love to bypass any aggressive comments chastising us for missing anyone — we pull our contenders from the Olympic rankings, which are updated to the end of 2019. Then, we use those rankings to fill four categories, as follows:

  • Seven horses from North America
  • Seven horses from the UK and Ireland
  • Seven horses from continental Europe
  • Seven horses from New Zealand/Australia

“But that doesn’t equal 32,” we hear you protest. And you are not wrong, you little math whizzes. The next step is to find the four best-ranked horses from the rest of the world. Each of them will then be added to one of the above groups in chronological order, and seeded based on their position in the rankings.

These horses represent the top ranked six of each of their global regions. If a horse has since been sold to another region, they’re skipped over. (Before you come for us, know that this only happens in one case — and its previous rider is still represented by another horse in the bracket.)

Once pulled from the rankings, each horse is given a seed number within its group. The higher their position within the Olympic rankings, the higher their seed number. Winners of five-stars or major championships in 2019 will automatically be given top seed.

HOW THE WINNER IS CHOSEN

It’s all popular vote, baby, so the fate of your favourite is entirely in your hands. We wholeheartedly encourage as much devious social media campaigning as you fancy undertaking. This is, after all, Very Serious Bizzness: the winner will get full bragging rights as the EN readers’ favourite horse in the whole WORLD.

Each round will open up for voting as follows:

Round of 32, Part 1: Wednesday, March 18
Round of 32, Part 2Friday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 26
Elite 8: Thursday, April 2
Final 4: Sunday, April 5
Championship: Wednesday, April 8

TODAY’S LINE-UP

There was some surprise upsets in the Sweet Sixteen round, particularly in Camp Europe: Felix Vogg‘s Colero beat superstar SAP Hale Bob OLD, piloted by Ingrid Klimke, by a hair, while Tim Lips‘ remarkable Bayro, who was tragically euthanised this week, edged out Michael Jung‘s fischerChipmunk FRH. In the British quarters, Sarah Bullimore‘s quirky 5* partner Reve du Rouet advances to the Elite 8 over Oliver Townend‘s Burghley-winning Ballaghmor Class, and 2019 Badminton victor Vanir Kamira just sneaks in ahead of Imogen Murray‘s Ivar Gooden.

It’ll be a closely-fought contest for the Americans in this round, as National Champ Tsetserleg and beloved Bug Vermiculus face off for a spot in the final four. Meanwhile, a little further south, Tim Price‘s Ascona M has won each round by a landslide – but can she maintain her trajectory against three-time Adelaide winner Willingapark Clifford? It’s time to choose your fighter and find out. 

Train with the Stars: EquiRatings Launches Virtual Coaching App

Ready to up your game while stuck at home? EquiRatings can help with that.

The future is now, folks – or at least, we’re speeding there ever-faster as our current circumstances force us all to get a little bit creative. Something that’s on the rise is the advent of digital coaching, which allows riders to continue to hone their skills even when they can’t see their trainer for lessons.

If there’s any company that’s embraced the forward-thinking nature of sports technology for the equestrian market, it’s our friends at EquiRatings. For the past few years, we’ve seen them develop a method of interpreting data that’s resulted in significantly lower fall rates and remarkably accurate performance predictors, creating both a safer sport and a new way for team selectors to make big decisions. Their data has also given the media a more in-depth view of the sport, both at large and in minute detail. Gone are the days of sifting through FEI records with a notepad and a calculator, and our math-phobic brains couldn’t be happier.

In recent months, EquiRatings has also come up with a way to bring stats to riders at every level, with the introduction of their Simple Metrics. These easy calculations allow riders to identify their strengths and weaknesses, which in turn offers a way to set both long- and short-term goals. But until now, they’ve left the act of getting from point A (your current performances) to point B (your goals) to the trainers.

“We knew pretty quickly that we had a gap in the improvement loop, just no money, or time, or team to solve it yet. People said, ‘I get that this is my performance now and I understand the targets, but how do I actually get better?’,” explains the team. “We didn’t have the answer immediately. ‘That’s the art, the coaching, the learning, we are just the science’, we initially thought. Before long, we realised that if we were ever going to actually close the loop for people, we needed to help them access the coaching.”

With this in mind, EquiRatings partnered with US digital company OnForm, which has devised a system for athletes across a number of sports to work remotely with their coaches. OnForm utilises a variety of methods: it can be used to send video back and forth, with a messaging system for trainer and student to discuss the footage and the ability for coaches to record voiceover analysis, and it can be used to mark up the video, too – useful for demonstrating a better line to a fence, for example, or the need for more or less angle in lateral movements.

So who’s it for? Well, everyone, really, as EquiRatings explains:

  • Coaches who want to access the global market of equestrian athletes
  • Athletes who may be limited in their access to feedback by either time or distance
  • In-person coaches who want to give a rider feedback quickly during a lesson using precise slow-motion controls and markup tools
  • Teams or organisations who wish to organise equestrian videos or clips centrally and then distribute for discussion and feedback from coaches, selectors or committee members
  • Athletes and owners to share training clips, with a voiceover tool for videos being uploaded to social media with explainers or stories.

This means that you can use the app to keep up-to-date with your current trainer or, rather excitingly, you can opt for video feedback and coaching advise from a number of high-profile riders and trainers. One of those is EquiRatings cofounder and Team Ireland stalwart Sam Watson, who has launched his new training website, chock full of insight into improving your performance, in tandem with the release of the app.

“My biggest passion is progress and I strongly believe that riders seeing their own performance, accompanied by expert feedback is the key to better understanding, faster learning and improved performance,” explains Sam. “Access and opportunity can be major blockers to performance progress in sport. ‘I only see my coach twice a month’ is no longer a reason to train without purpose or without feedback. This tool is a great step for EquiRatings to bring people through the full loop of where you now, where you want to get to and now, how to do it.”

Here, Sam offers up a quick demo of how the app can be used to review a submitted video.

Ready to give the app a go? It’s currently available on iOS, with plans for an Android release soon, and can be downloaded from the app store. To celebrate the launch and ensure easy access for coaches and riders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, EquiRatings has made the app free to join until the end of May. After that, you’ll be able to subscribe for $7.99 a month, or $79 annually. Within the app, coaches set their own prices for feedback, ensuring that they receive 100% of the revenue.

Want some more information before you dive in? The Eventing Podcast has a new pod dedicated to the app, with great tips on how to get the most out of it. EquiRatings has also put out an article with ten tips for remote coaches to help ease the transition from in-the-ring coaching to virtual education. Still on the fence? Dive into this fascinating article that posits that video is one of the most useful tools for improvement – as evidenced by Oliver Townend, who set two dressage records at Badminton and then admitted that his incredible results were mostly down to watching videos of dressage superstar Carl Hester in action. If it works for him…

Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

Using all this extra time at home to catch up on chores? So is Tim Price – with, um, mixed results. I haven’t seen a glare that icy since the last time I tried to go for one more hole on my mare’s girth.

National Holiday: It’s National Doctors Day, and we all know how hard these guys are working around the world right now. Know a doctor? Consider sending them a little something to thank them for what they’re doing – even if it’s just a quick message.

Monday News & Notes:

Our eventing family is full of multitalented individuals, as Laura Collett proves. Not only is the British eventer a veritable superstar in her own sport, she’s also proving to be a key asset to the National Hunt racing world, too. Read all about how she helped Harry Whittington to his first-ever Cheltenham Festival win in this interview with Racing TV. [Laura Collett helps provide Cheltenham Festival joy for Harry Whittington]

It’s official: ponies lift everyone‘s spirits. Or at least these hard-working riding school ponies in central London do. While they can’t do their normal job of teaching the area’s children how to ride, they’re taking on another important role (and getting their state-sanctioned once-daily exercise in, too) by going on walks through Teddington so that the residents can look out their windows and see them. Prior to the lockdown, locals could put in requests for the ponies to drop by for a cuddle – now, stable manager Natalie lets everyone know when the ponies will be nearby so they can be sure to nab a good spot by the window. We’re huge fans. [City ponies lift lockdown spirits in London]

Stables could use a bit of help in these tough times. If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to help, check out the amazing raffle that the Talland School of Equitation has put on to raise vital funds for the horses and ponies in their care. Plus, there’s advice from TV presenter Jenny Rudall on how to set up similar fundraisers for your local stables. [Save a stable, win big: the Talland call to arms]

If you haven’t already, Leslie Threlkeld’s heartfelt think-piece on no longer being able to go to the barn is a must-read. These are some pretty rough circumstances we’re living in at the moment, and it’s absolutely normal to cycle through an exhausting whirlwind of emotions every day. But if you’re struggling with your barn owner’s decision to temporarily close doors, this will offer clarity, solidarity – and a little bit of hope, too. [The barn isn’t a safe place anymore]

Monday featured video:  What do you do when you’re face with the prospect of no outings for a while? You create your own version in your back garden, of course.

Two-Time Dutch National Champion Bayro Euthanised

Tim Lips and Bayro. Photo by Anja Veurink.

It’s with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Bayro, the horse with whom the Netherlands’ Tim Lips secured the Dutch National Championship in both 2017 and 2018, after complications during colic surgery this morning (March 29).

View this post on Instagram

Vanochtend hebben we met veel pijn in ons hart afscheid moeten nemen van mijn lievelingspaard Bayro. Helaas was hij niet meer te redden tijdens een operatie ter gevolge van koliek. Ik heb het geluk gehad om meer bijzondere paarden in mijn leven gehad te hebben, maar Bayro was absoluut de nummer 1 !!! Een paard met z’n lief karakter, zo intelligent, zoveel kwaliteit; een absoluut droompaard!! Samen hebben we 8 jaar lang fantastische resultaten behaald. Het meest bijzondere resultaat van Bayro is toch wel het ontstaan van de mooist denkbare vriendschap voor het leven met de eigenaren van hem; lieve Rianne en Stijn, Willemien en Hans, Jeanine en Cees, Ineke en Nico, en Chantal en William. En vooral mijn ouders die er 2 jaar geleden voor zorgde dat ik met hem kon blijven rijden!! De talloze lessen bij Nicole met hem zullen me altijd bijblijven, want al was hij regelmatig wat laconiek, als we gingen trainen kwam het beste in hem naar voren!! Zoveel bijzondere momenten die we graag samen nog een aantal jaar hadden willen beleven…. Iedereen die close was met Bayro is verdrietig, ik wil iedereen bedanken die de laatste 8 jaar voor hem gezorgd heeft, niet te vergeten de veterinairen die tot het laatste moment gevochten hebben voor hem. Bayro was zeker onze “Once in a lifetime horse”! Dankje wel Bayro voor al die bijzondere moment 😘 R.I.P Bayro ❤️

A post shared by Tim Lips (@tim_lips) on

“This morning we had to say goodbye to my favourite horse Bayro with a lot of pain in our hearts,” said Tim in a statement on social media. “I’ve been lucky to have many special horses in my life, but Bayro was definitely the number one. A horse with his sweet character, so intelligent, and with so much quality is an absolute dream horse.”

Tim Lips and Bayro at the 2019 European Championships. Photo by William Carey.

The 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Casantos x Vanya) had been the lynchpin of the Dutch team in recent years, representing his home nation at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 21st, and the 2019 Luhmühlen European Championships, at which he posted an impressive ninth-place finish.

After a promising debut at the four-star level in 2014, which saw him finish in the top ten in the prestigious Blenheim CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds, he made his five-star debut in 2015 an auspicious one. He would finish seventh in his first attempt at the level at Luhmühlen and eleventh at Pau at the end of the season. A consistent first half of 2016 would make his spot on the Dutch team at Rio unassailable. Two further top-twenty results would follow in five-stars at Luhmühlen, as well as wins in four-stars at Sopot and Strzegom. In 2018, Bayro and Tim would lead the first phase at Luhmühlen, setting a Dutch dressage record along the way with their impressive mark of 24.1.

Tim Lips and Bayro. Photo by William Carey.

Bayro’s consistency was rewarded handsomely: he topped the Olympic rankings for non-qualified nations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, guaranteeing the Netherlands one of the two individual places they’ll boast at the Games next year. But for Tim, the partnership has produced much more than just prizes and rankings.

“Together, we’ve achieved fantastic results for eight years,” he said. “The most special result with Bayro is the creation of the most beautiful friendship for life with his owners, dear Rianne and Stijn, Willemien and Hans [Meulendijks], Jeanine and Cees [van Ham], Ineke and Nico [van Splunder], and Chantal and William [Holvoet]. And, especially, my parents, who made sure I could keep riding him two years ago.”

Tim Lips and Bayro. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tim fondly recalls his time training with the gelding, whose last event was at last summer’s European Championships, though he enjoyed a stint showjumping in Spain in preparation for the 2020 season at the beginning of the year.

“The constant lessons at [dressage trainer] Nicole [Werner’s] with him will always keep up with me, because though he was a bit laconic regularly, when we started training the best of him came forward. We had so many special moments – we would have loved to have experienced more together for a few more years. Everyone who was close to Bayro is sad. I want to thank everyone who has taken care of him for the last eight years, not to forget the vets who fought for him until the last minute. Bayro was definitely our ‘once in a lifetime’ horse. Thank you, Bayro, for all the special moments.”

All of us at EN send our heartfelt condolences to Tim and all of Bayro’s connections.

Save a Stable, Win Big: The Talland Call to Arms

Even if you’ve never set foot on this hallowed ground, many of you will know of the famous Talland School of Equitation in England’s idyllic Cotswolds. The home base of dressage legend (and sharp-witted Badminton commentator extraordinaire) Pammy Hutton, it’s served as a jumping-off point for some of the foremost riders and trainers in the UK and beyond. Talland serves several major functions: it’s the mother of all riding schools, with long- and short-term training courses covering every aspect of horsemanship; it’s a bucket-list educational destination for riders who want to learn from schoolmasters at the very topmost levels of their disciplines; it’s the setting for several popular TV shows; it’s a safe and productive place for Grand Prix and five-star horses to wind down their workload while still getting to live productive lives.

But Talland, like many stables around the world, is struggling in the face of coronavirus. Though government bailouts have allowed Pammy to safeguard her two-legged team, her four-legged denizens are in need of a bit of help. But as you might expect, Team Talland are no slouches, and they’ve come up with a brilliant fundraising model that they hope other stables will copy to ensure the safety of their beloved horses and ponies. With the help of TV presenter – and long-time Talland supporter and student – Jenny Rudall, they’ve put together a pretty spectacular raffle of utterly drool-worthy prizes. All you need to do to enter? Drop a donation over to their JustGiving fund.

“So many amazing people have asked how they can help keep our horses and ponies at Talland going during this crisis, so here is the plan – but we want to help other yards too,” says Team Talland in a post on their Facebook page. “In the hopes of staying in business and keeping our truly adored equine partners going, we are offering the chance for our lovely clients or any potential clients and followers to support our equine work colleagues in return for some fab raffle prizes. We are running a virtual raffle/fundraiser. We want to give back to those that help us once we are through this.”

For every £10 you donate, your name will be entered into the raffle, so the more you donate, the bigger your chance of collecting a fantastic prize – and every entrant, no matter how much they donate, will receive a 10% discount off their next lesson at Talland when the stable is once again open for business. Always wanted to learn to ride Grand Prix dressage movements? You’ll definitely want to book in with Pammy. All entrants will also receive free entry to Talland’s star-studded Christmas demo, and Pammy’s planning a special extra demo to celebrate the end of this crisis, too.

To enter, head to the JustGiving page and make your donation – £10 gives you one entry, £20 gives you two, and so on. Be sure to click the box that says ‘I’m happy to be contacted’ so that Talland can see your email address and use it to get in touch with your discount code and details of any prizes you win. If that option doesn’t appear for whatever reason, pop Talland an email with your details and the amount of tickets you purchased – a screenshot will help here! – to [email protected]

So what’s on offer? Well, more prizes are being added every day, but at the moment you could win…

  • An opportunity to meet Valegro and Utopia at home at Carl Hester’s yard (2 available)
  • A year’s subscription to Horse & Country TV
  • Dressage day tickets for the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials  (10 available)
  • Tickets to the Festival of British Eventing with forward parking (2 available)
  • A £50 Gift Voucher for Annabel Brocks
  • A £50 Gift Voucher for Hawkins Organic
  • An exclusive demo and Q&A session with Irish eventer Jonty Evans and Cooley Rourkes Drift (15 available)
  • Course walk with Jonty Evans at the next 5*, plus a ticket to the event
  • A lesson with 5* eventer Tom Rowland Eventing on winner’s own horse
  • Course walk with Tom Rowland at his next 5*, including a ticket to event
  • Jump lesson with H&C presenter Jenny Rudall on own horse or Talland horse
  • Advanced lesson with Pammy Hutton Dressage (2 available)
  • Nearly advanced lesson with Pammy (2 available)
  • An Equiboodle – Equestrian Outfitters voucher
  • A wheelbarrow from Bill Yelding at Wheelbarrows Direct
  • Lessons for a beginner with an instructor – if you’re not a beginner yourself, you can donate this as a gift
  • A side-saddle lesson
  • A transitions lesson with a coach
  • A leg-yield lesson with a coach
  • A pole-work lesson with Brian Hutton
  • Group grid lesson (4 riders) with Brian
  • A lunge lesson with a trainer
  • A day watching Pammy train at home
  • A coffee morning at Talland with cake and riding (2 available)
  • A hack round the farm with an instructor
  • Attend a competition day with Pammy
  • Tour of the yard and meet all the horses at Talland.
  • And, of course, a highly covetable loo roll

Of course, Talland isn’t just hoping to care for their own horses and ponies through this crisis – they want other riding stables to follow suit, and are encouraging local yards to get in contact with top riders and companies to work in tandem to raise funds. They recommend asking for prizes such as coursewalks, lessons, days at events, tickets to events, and product prizes, too. Planning to follow Talland’s lead? Drop us a line and we’ll shout you out on EN. Go Eventing.

Friday Video(s) from SmartPak: Team Fox-Pitt Improvise an International

In the face of adversity, some men crumble, and some men host pretend international competitions from the comfort of their own homes, or something like that. Welcome to the inaugural Wood Lane Stables International, which takes us to the heart of Hardy country in deepest Dorset, and to the home of eventing legend William Fox-Pitt.

Here he is in all his glory! Today, he hangs up his hat and acts instead as international dressage judge. We’re pretty confident his test sheet comments are going to be something to behold.

And here’s the illustrious test writer – none other than award-winning groom and all-around gem Jackie Potts. We reckon this woman of many talents can probably outpace us in the shorthand stakes, too, and we’re not even mad about it.

First in the ring is Bella Innes-Ker, who won Blenheim’s CCI4*-L in 2018 with Carolyn. Today, though, she’s riding this striking grey, who’s just shot to the top of our Christmas lists.

Travelling groom and Geordie free spirit Adam Short delivers his first test of the day aboard Secret Night. Here’s his post-ride interview with Wood Lane head honcho Alice Fox-Pitt.

Who would dare argue with the judge? But William turns out to be less scarier than expected, offering advice and even allowing riders to view their test sheets before they bring forward their second rides.

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The Judge won’t budge! #woodlaneinternational

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The next test is a special treat for everyone – it’s double WEG medallist Cool Mountain, still looking excellent at the age of 20 and teaching the Wood Lane students a thing or two about life and dressage. Sign us UP.

Team USA throws its hat in the ring next, with Lexi Scovil delivering a smart test on Fox-Pitt homebred Atlantic Vital Spark. Not too shabby for a catch ride.

You can’t keep a good man down, and you can’t keep this Geordie out of the ring – Adam Short returns for his second ride of the day, this time aboard Olympic Test Event competitor Summer at Fernhill.

Ahead of her second ride with new mount Cool Rock Cooley, Bella Innes-Ker touches base with Alice.

Team Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto puts superstar Bernadette Utopia through her paces ahead of her test, proving once again why he’s one of the most formidable new names on the circuit.

He might be a new ride for Bella, but Cool Rock Cooley certainly impresses in the ring.

He did not come to PLAY, guys. King Kazu and Bernadette Utopia throw down the gauntlet late in the day.

Kazu catches up with Alice, and look – it’s really, truly okay if you have a little cry over this one. On a serious note, the postponement of the Olympics affects everyone, but it’s particularly heartbreaking for Team Japan’s eventers, who have given up their lives to their team’s medal efforts. Even so, Kazu is all class in the face of disappointment, and he shows here exactly why he’s one of the sport’s best-loved characters. Stay sunny, Kazu:

Back to business, now – and it’s all change over in the judge’s chair. There’s some dodgy tactics going on over there.

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Big change in the judges chair at #woodlanestablesinternational

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William catches up with wife Alice after his test aboard the gorgeous Baxter, who had been aimed at the 2* at Tattersalls this spring.

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The Boss #woodlanestablesinternational

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It’s a truly global competition here, with four continents represented at Wood Lane Stables:

Every competition must have a prize-giving – and this one’s a social distancing special! We’ve got 2* winners, 4* winners, and elbow-bumps galore:

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Prize giving 🥇 #woodlanestablesinternational

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And that’s all from a very exciting first annual Wood Lane Stables International! Thanks to the gang at Fox-Pitt Eventing for the laughs — and remember, folks, this is proof that even if you can’t go eventing, you can still Go Eventing. Happy Friday!

Event Horse Madness: The Sweet 16

We’ve survived an epic round of 32 of the world’s best event horses – now, we’re taking sixteen forward in the quest to be the winner of EN’s March Madness sweepstakes.

HOW IT WORKS

32 of the world’s best event horses will come together in an NCAA-style bracket, with the winners of each bracket advancing to the next round and facing a formidable new opponent. In order to avoid a year-long argument amongst team EN — and because we’d really, really love to bypass any aggressive comments chastising us for missing anyone — we pull our contenders from the Olympic rankings, which are updated to the end of 2019. Then, we use those rankings to fill four categories, as follows:

  • Seven horses from North America
  • Seven horses from the UK and Ireland
  • Seven horses from continental Europe
  • Seven horses from New Zealand/Australia

“But that doesn’t equal 32,” we hear you protest. And you are not wrong, you little math whizzes. The next step is to find the four best-ranked horses from the rest of the world. Each of them will then be added to one of the above groups in chronological order, and seeded based on their position in the rankings.

These horses represent the top ranked six of each of their global regions. If a horse has since been sold to another region, they’re skipped over. (Before you come for us, know that this only happens in one case — and its previous rider is still represented by another horse in the bracket.)

Once pulled from the rankings, each horse is given a seed number within its group. The higher their position within the Olympic rankings, the higher their seed number. Winners of five-stars or major championships in 2019 will automatically be given top seed.

HOW THE WINNER IS CHOSEN

It’s all popular vote, baby, so the fate of your favourite is entirely in your hands. We wholeheartedly encourage as much devious social media campaigning as you fancy undertaking. This is, after all, Very Serious Bizzness: the winner will get full bragging rights as the EN readers’ favourite horse in the whole WORLD.

Each round will open up for voting as follows:

Round of 32, Part 1: Wednesday, March 18
Round of 32, Part 2Friday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 26
Elite 8: Saturday, March 28
Final 4: Monday, March 30
Championship: Wednesday, April 1

TODAY’S LINE-UP

This is where it starts getting really tough, folks – we’ve narrowed each region down to four contenders, and none of them are messing around. Badminton winner Vanir Kamira takes on fan favourite Ivar Gooden over in Camp Great Britain/Ireland, while the Vermiculus v. Deniro Z battle will be a seriously tough one for North American fans to call. Over in continental Europe, fischerChipmunk takes on the two-time Dutch National Champion, Bayro, while up-and-comer Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam faces off against three-time Adelaide winner Willingapark Clifford in the Antipodean camp. Gird your loins, gang – it’s all getting serious.

Get voting, get sharing, and make sure your favourite horses advance to the next round – voting will close on Saturday, March 28!

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Relive the Final 4* of the Spring Season

If you’re anything like the Team EN chinchillas, you’ve been watching non-stop videos from events gone by in an attempt to fill the hole left in the spring calendar. And you know what? We’re here for that. There’s something strangely satisfying about rewatching a competition when you know what’s going to happen — you can study the minuscule details that combine to create a winning performance, and you can also scream yourself stupid trying to divert the course of a rider you know is about to go for a swim.

The Land Rover Horse of the Year Show in New Zealand ended up being the last 4* to run before COVID-19 sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done, and it offers up a great opportunity for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere to get to know some more of the major human and equine players down yonder. SkySport has helpfully combined both the 3* and 4* cross-country into one bumper video — perfect for your evening of wining, dining, and cross-country mainlining.

Fight back against an energy crisis that can impact condition and performance.

Equi-Jewel® is a high-fat, low-starch and -sugar formula developed to safely meet the energy needs of your horse.

Whether you have a hard keeper that needs extra calories to maintain his weight, or a top performance horse that needs cool energy to perform at her peak, Equi-Jewel can meet your horse’s energy needs. Equi-Jewel reduces the risk of digestive upset, supports optimal muscle function, maintains stamina, and helps horses recover faster after hard work, all while providing the calories your horse needs to thrive.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit KPPusa.com.

On Mourning and Magic Yet to Come: A Reflection on Equestrian Media in a Crisis

Three weeks ago, I was just days away from my first event of 2020. Relentless rainfall had meant that I’d had to plan a swift reroute after the cancellation of my intended run, and with my preparation as complete as it was likely to get, I took my mare for an evening hack.

I’m extraordinarily lucky for a variety of reasons, not least that I get to do a job I wholeheartedly love and live in the heart of a bustling event yard, too. But sometimes I think my greatest stroke of luck is the sunsets we enjoy here at home: if I could bottle them and sell them as a balm for the soul, I would. They’ve kept me sane in the stillest of moments, when the off-season is in its eleventh hour and I’m itching to get back on the road, either to leave a start box myself or to cover the sport as hundreds of others do just that. That evening, I began to write a piece in my head as I rode under a fuchsia sky, lamenting the way the off-season makes me feel, rejoicing in the fact that I’d soon be able to find the crux of myself and put it all back together again on the road. I never got around to sitting down and writing the piece, and maybe that’s for the best.

I have known, quietly and fatalistically, the inevitability of Badminton’s cancellation. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt when it was announced. Badminton is imbibed with its own magic; to be there in any capacity is to feel that you’ve scaled the Mount Olympus of equestrian sport and landed in the clouds. It’s like travelling into the past and teetering on the cusp of the future, all at once. It’s collaborative, it’s communal, and it brings out the best of us all. Something about the place always taps into some endless hyper-productive creativity within me, and all around me, my colleagues in the media centre are also working full-tilt, producing their best work. In the busy weeks after Badminton, I always revel in finding a quiet moment to enjoy catching up with their output and reminding myself what an extraordinary force the little world of equestrian media can be.

I won’t get that this year. None of us will. The media centre won’t stand empty; it simply won’t stand at all, and Badminton will remain a sprawling expanse of empty parkland, an endless stream of birdsong replacing the echo of tannoys and the thrum of a hundred thousand people. I won’t get to catch up with my dear friends from far-flung places, who I haven’t seen all winter but with whom I would have enjoyed the unimpeachable understanding of true camaraderie. We would have laughed almost more than we’d worked, though god knows we’d have worked a lot, and for a week, we’d have been family. I won’t get to feel that sting behind my eyes when a friend leaves the start box, and again when they return, triumphant or defeated. I won’t get to feel a part of something much bigger than myself, in which we are all essential in our own funny little ways. I won’t get to replenish that part of myself that ebbs away in the off-season. I will mourn this for a long time yet.

But as each day passes and the year dissolves away from us, there’s something rather like hope growing inside me.

I caught up with a fellow journalist the other day; someone who I’d always admired enormously and who is now a great friend, though the admiration is no less for it.

“Really, though, journalists thrive in a crisis,” she told me conspiratorially, and I agreed – it’s not that we want things to go wrong; of course we don’t, and beyond the obvious reasons, our livelihoods have also been impacted in ways we won’t know the scale of for a long time to come. But operating in a crisis brings out the best of us all in the same way that working at an event like Badminton does. It’s bigger than us, and we can either let it overwhelm us, or we can double down, let a kind of ferocious creativity take over, and we can find new ways to make it work. And so far? That’s what I’ve been seeing all around me.

My phone keeps ringing, the names of fellow media louts flashing up on the screen. Each conversation begins in the same way: “How are you doing? No, really, how are you doing?” And then we always discover that we each harbour this same little flicker of hope, one that we’re still testing out, one that we’re not sure is acceptable to voice quite yet. We share bold new ideas, tentative at first – “I’ve had this thought, and I don’t know if I…” Yes, I say, yes, do it – and then the conversation inevitably turns to the next question, one that has fired the flames, one that continues to come up on both sides of the divide: “How can I help? Can we work together to get this into the world?” The tempo quickens; we let ourselves get excited, finally. We sign off, and the hope has become something more tangible.

So we won’t have a Kentucky this year, nor will we have a Badminton. Perhaps we won’t have an Aachen, or a Luhmühlen, and perhaps even the Olympic dream is beyond our grasp now. But maybe this is our Badminton. Maybe the – initially bumpy – chasing of a new sort of hope is our Savills Staircase; perhaps learning how to adapt and create something new, something exciting is our Vicarage Vee. And, as we’ve all said ad infinitum over the past few days, when this all trundles to a close and we find ourselves swarming to the first event post-coronavirus – even if it’s a 90cm class in rural Poland – we’ll be an even stronger community, sharing the unique qualities we all bring, and ready to propel our beloved sport into its next evolution. That’ll be our finish line, the starry-eyed adrenaline overload, a moment of disbelief followed by the application of metaphorical ice to what ails us and, of course, an awful lot of drinks.

Every year, I leave Badminton convinced that this year has been the best one yet. In retrospect, I’ve never yet been wrong. We may not get to better our previous efforts this year, but next? For that, I live in hope. And, quietly and not so fatalistically, I’m beginning to embrace the rush of excitement about the prospect of seeing what we’ve all created by then. It’s a course we’re designing as we go, and I’m glad to have you all along for the ride.

Event Horse Madness, Round One, Part Two: Europe and the Antipodeans

Is there anything more soul-destroying than a newsfeed full of cancellations, restrictions, and videos of empty toilet paper aisles? There sure isn’t, friends. But here at Eventing Nation, we like to tackle all of life’s most pressing concerns with a smile on our faces and a (very, very full) glass of wine in our hands, and while we might be feeling the cruel irony of our #GoEventing hashtag right now, we’re determined to spread a bit of joy and gung-ho eventing spirit even while the world’s start boxes are on hiatus.

We’re a competitive bunch, us eventers — why else would we pay exorbitant sums just to spend half a day sprinting between a Portaloo and a hock-deep collecting ring? So to perk us all up, it’s time to dive into a much-loved EN tradition. Welcome to 2020’s iteration of March Madness, the bracket competition that gives us all a chance to voraciously argue for an illustrious victory for our favourite event horses. This year, we’ve got a piping hot selection of steeds on offer for you.

HOW IT WORKS

32 of the world’s best event horses will come together in an NCAA-style bracket, with the winners of each bracket advancing to the next round and facing a formidable new opponent. In order to avoid a year-long argument amongst team EN — and because we’d really, really love to bypass any aggressive comments chastising us for missing anyone — we pull our contenders from the Olympic rankings, which are updated to the end of 2019. Then, we use those rankings to fill four categories, as follows:

  • Seven horses from North America
  • Seven horses from the UK and Ireland
  • Seven horses from continental Europe
  • Seven horses from New Zealand/Australia

“But that doesn’t equal 32,” we hear you protest. And you are not wrong, you little math whizzes. The next step is to find the four best-ranked horses from the rest of the world. Each of them will then be added to one of the above groups in chronological order, and seeded based on their position in the rankings.

These horses represent the top ranked six of each of their global regions. If a horse has since been sold to another region, they’re skipped over. (Before you come for us, know that this only happens in one case — and its previous rider is still represented by another horse in the bracket.)

Once pulled from the rankings, each horse is given a seed number within its group. The higher their position within the Olympic rankings, the higher their seed number. Winners of five-stars or major championships in 2019 will automatically be given top seed.

HOW THE WINNER IS CHOSEN

It’s all popular vote, baby, so the fate of your favourite is entirely in your hands. We wholeheartedly encourage as much devious social media campaigning as you fancy undertaking. This is, after all, Very Serious Bizzness: the winner will get full bragging rights as the EN readers’ favourite horse in the whole WORLD.

Each round will open up for voting as follows:

Round of 32, Part 1: Wednesday, March 18
Round of 32, Part 2: Friday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 26
Elite 8: Saturday, March 28
Final 4: Monday, March 30
Championship: Wednesday, April 1

TODAY’S LINE-UP

The first round of the bracket is a big one. It sees 32 horses come under public scrutiny. That’s, you know, a WHOLE LOT OF HORSES to consider in one fell swoop, so to make it a bit easier, we’re splitting this first round into two parts. You can have a look at the results of the first part, which saw North America and the UK/Ireland narrow their fields, here. Today, though, we’re focusing on continental Europe and the thunders from Down Under.

Get voting, get sharing, and make sure your favourite horses advance to the next round – voting will close on Monday, March 23!

 

Friday Video from SmartPak: A Free Riding Lesson from Pippa Funnell

We might all be feeling incredibly frustrated with no competitions but oh how lucky a lot of us are not being on the frontline like so many people such as doctors and nurses and how lucky we are to live and work in the country. Having said that we must still follow all the government precautions to stay as safe as possible and protect those close to us.
While keeping our equine friends ticking over let’s be constructive, just a quick exercise that I did this morning with Maybach, just an idea if anyone wants a few ideas. Striking off into canter at A and C nice and forward straight into 20m circle, then collect a little into 10m working canter circle, then collect even more onto an even smaller circle, trying to keep the correct amount of bend, enough impulsion always thinking of self carriage. Hopefully if you have found the exercise successful you will be able to ride deeper into the next corner as you then canter across diagonal to repeat on other rein. I have kept it simple not asking too much but you can gradually ask for more jump and impulsion and make more differences within the canter gears.
Remember REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT that’s how the exercise will become easier and better.
Pipx
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Posted by Pippa Funnell on Friday, March 20, 2020

The world might be a confusing and heartbreaking place at the moment, but there are so many little positives to keep us going – not least the generosity that we keep seeing manifested in so many different ways. We’ve seen an upsurge in instructional videos and tutelage from some of the world’s best riders – a full round-up to come – as more and more people find their options for education limited. One rider to get involved is Pippa Funnell, who shared this simple and adaptable exercise for improving your horse’s canter and increasing his adjustability. She’s riding through it on four-star horse Maybach, but no matter the level that you and your horse are working at, you can modify the difficulty to suit simply by adjusting the size of the figures you ride.

“We might all be feeling incredibly frustrated with no competitions but oh, how lucky a lot of us are not being on the frontline like so many people such as doctors and nurses, and how lucky we are to live and work in the country,” says Pippa. “Having said that, we must still follow all the government precautions to stay as safe as possible and protect those close to us.

“While keeping our equine friends ticking over, let’s be constructive. [This is] just a quick exercise that I did this morning with Maybach,” she continues, explaining: “Striking off into canter at A and C nice and forward straight into 20m circle, then collect a little into 10m working canter circle, then collect even more onto an even smaller circle, trying to keep the correct amount of bend, enough impulsion always thinking of self carriage. Hopefully if you have found the exercise successful you will be able to ride deeper into the next corner as you then canter across diagonal to repeat on other rein. I have kept it simple not asking too much but you can gradually ask for more jump and impulsion and make more differences within the canter gears.

“Remember REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT – that’s how the exercise will become easier and better.”

Trying Pippa’s exercise out this weekend? Drop a video in the comments — let’s learn together.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Legends at Luhmühlen

One of last week’s biggest news stories — you know, disregarding that pesky little virus that’s rather complicating everything — was the second retirement of Kiwi legend Blyth Tait. His decision not to try for one last Games echoed that of his fellow countryman (and fellow Kiwi legend) Sir Mark Todd, who retired in the latter half of last year.

We love this video that our friends at Luhmühlen have unearthed of the two poster boys — and previous winners — discussing the changes the sport has undergone, their own personal idols, and the very special souvenir you might still be able to find somewhere on the grounds of the event. With any luck, in just a few short months we’ll be there to see if we can track it down!

Fight back against an energy crisis that can impact condition and performance.

Equi-Jewel® is a high-fat, low-starch and -sugar formula developed to safely meet the energy needs of your horse.

Whether you have a hard keeper that needs extra calories to maintain his weight, or a top performance horse that needs cool energy to perform at her peak, Equi-Jewel can meet your horse’s energy needs. Equi-Jewel reduces the risk of digestive upset, supports optimal muscle function, maintains stamina, and helps horses recover faster after hard work, all while providing the calories your horse needs to thrive.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit KPPusa.com.

Feeling the March Sadness? Cue Event Horse March Madness: Round 1

32 horses, almost innumerable memories to propel us through 2020. But who’s your winner? Photos by EN.

Is there anything more soul-destroying than a newsfeed full of cancellations, restrictions, and videos of empty toilet paper aisles? There sure isn’t, friends. But here at Eventing Nation, we like to tackle all of life’s most pressing concerns with a smile on our faces and a (very, very full) glass of wine in our hands, and while we might be feeling the cruel irony of our #GoEventing hashtag right now, we’re determined to spread a bit of joy and gung-ho eventing spirit even while the world’s start boxes are on hiatus.

We’re a competitive bunch, us eventers — why else would we pay exorbitant sums just to spend half a day sprinting between a Portaloo and a hock-deep collecting ring? So to perk us all up, it’s time to dive into a much-loved EN tradition. Welcome to 2020’s iteration of March Madness, the bracket competition that gives us all a chance to voraciously argue for an illustrious victory for our favourite event horses. This year, we’ve got a piping hot selection of steeds on offer for you.

HOW IT WORKS

32 of the world’s best event horses will come together in an NCAA-style bracket, with the winners of each bracket advancing to the next round and facing a formidable new opponent. In order to avoid a year-long argument amongst team EN — and because we’d really, really love to bypass any aggressive comments chastising us for missing anyone — we pull our contenders from the Olympic rankings, which are updated to the end of 2019. Then, we use those rankings to fill four categories, as follows:

  • Seven horses from North America
  • Seven horses from the UK and Ireland
  • Seven horses from continental Europe
  • Seven horses from New Zealand/Australia

“But that doesn’t equal 32,” we hear you protest. And you are not wrong, you little math whizzes. The next step is to find the four best-ranked horses from the rest of the world. Each of them will then be added to one of the above groups in chronological order, and seeded based on their position in the rankings.

These horses represent the top ranked six of each of their global regions. If a horse has since been sold to another region, they’re skipped over. (Before you come for us, know that this only happens in one case — and its previous rider is still represented by another horse in the bracket.)

Once pulled from the rankings, each horse is given a seed number within its group. The higher their position within the Olympic rankings, the higher their seed number. Winners of five-stars or major championships in 2019 will automatically be given top seed.

HOW THE WINNER IS CHOSEN

It’s all popular vote, baby, so the fate of your favourite is entirely in your hands. We wholeheartedly encourage as much devious social media campaigning as you fancy undertaking. This is, after all, Very Serious Bizzness: the winner will get full bragging rights as the EN readers’ favourite horse in the whole WORLD.

Each round will open up for voting as follows:

Round of 32, Part 1: Wednesday, March 18
Round of 32, Part 2: Friday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 26
Elite 8: Saturday, March 28
Final 4: Monday, March 30
Championship: Wednesday, April 1

TODAY’S LINE-UP

The first round of the bracket is a big one. It sees 32 horses come under public scrutiny. That’s, you know, a WHOLE LOT OF HORSES to consider in one fell swoop, so to make it a bit easier, we’re splitting this first round into two parts. Today, we’re looking at North America and the UK/Ireland, with some seriously heavy hitters stepping up to bat including a Badminton winner, the USEF National Champion and Pan-Ams gold medallist, and one very popular tiny red mare from the Emerald Isle. There’s also a bit of an exciting wildcard in the form of Palm Crescent who, with Megan O’Donoghue, tops the US Olympic rankings after a seriously consistent 2019 season.

But that’s quite enough of our waffling — now, it’s over to you. Take a look at the first round bracket below and get voting — we’ll close the votes on the 20th of March.

 

British Eventing Issues Indefinite Cancellation of Forthcoming Competitions

The British season has been put on hold as the spread of COVID-19 quickens, putting the running of major internationals like Thoresby Park – which replaces Belton – in question. Photo by William Carey.

British Eventing has issued a statement confirming that it will follow the lead of several other major eventing nations in cancelling all forthcoming competition, effective immediately.

The statement comes just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised citizens to work from home, avoid all non-essential travel and contact, and confirmed that those considered ‘at-risk’ – including pregnant women, over-70s, and people with pre-existing health conditions – will be asked to stay home for 12 weeks.

“The government advice has been to minimise social contact and non-essential travel, and the restrictions on the support of the emergency services means that the responsible decision is to take all action necessary not to further burden the NHS or risk members’ safety at events,” says the statement. “We thank all of our members, organisers, officials, volunteers and staff for their support during these unprecedented times.  We will continue to monitor the situation and will resume sporting activity as soon as we are able.”

Refunds will be delivered in full to entries made prior to ballot dates, while those entries now post-ballot will be refunded less the abandonment insurance fee.

Though no prospective end date has been set for the cancellations, they will likely continue beyond the end of March, putting a stop to the first CCI4*-S of the British season at new fixture Thoresby Park.

We’ll be keeping you updated with any further information as we receive it.

[BE COVID-19 statement]

Event Rider Masters Cancels 2020 Season Over COVID-19 Threat

The popular ERM series won’t run in 2020 due to the rising threat of coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Event Rider Masters.

The Event Rider Masters series is the latest equestrian sporting event to fall victim to the mounting threat of COVID-19, or coronavirus. The 2020 iteration of the series, which was recently shortened to four legs to accommodate this summer’s Olympic Games, would have been its fifth year running.

The decision to cancel this year’s series was made after a full risk assessment in line with the recommendations of several national and global health organisations. As the ERM is effectively a travelling roadshow of equestrian sport, it was decided that for the safety of all involved, the series would need to be shelved for the year.

“The ERM 2020 series is spread over three countries, all of whom are currently affected by COVID-19, and involves a team of 60 people travelling from six different countries,” says the ERM in an official statement. “The ERM riders throughout each season represent at least 20 different nations. The logistics of moving the multinational production team from venue to venue is impossible to implement in a manner that has an acceptable risk level. As a result of this assessment, it is clear that there are too many risks associated with conducting the ERM series this year and regrettably, ERM has made the decision to cancel the 2020 series.”

The four host events – Burnham Market and Chatsworth in the UK, Arville in Belgium, and Haras de Jardy in France – are currently still scheduled to run as planned, though France’s government limitation on gatherings over 1000 people could see the latter run behind closed doors. The ERM has confirmed its intention to run as normal in 2021.

For an up-to-date list of global equestrian events affected by COVID-19, click here.

#IWD2020: Eight Fearless Women Who Changed the Face of Eventing

Celebrating International Women’s Day may seem incongruous in a rare sport that allows women to compete as equals against men, but we’re all about girlpower here at EN. So to celebrate, we’re taking a look back at some of the remarkable women, both past and present, who have helped to shape the sport of eventing into what it is, and through their own incredible efforts, have given all of us the chance to fly vicariously with them.

Lana duPont Wright

Though equestrian sports are celebrated for their gender equality these days, eventing’s military roots meant that women weren’t always welcome on the competitive battlefield. From 1912 — when eventing first appeared at the Olympics — until 1924, only military officers could contest this topmost echelon of the sport. From 1924, the door was widened to allow male civilians to compete — but it would be another four decades before Olympic eventing would become a level playing field.

All this was to change at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where the sport of eventing would see its first female Olympian.

The daughter of Olympic trapshooter and prolific racehorse owner Allaire duPont, a young Lana duPont was raised in a household that was — possibly unwittingly — fiercely feminist for the era. But it wasn’t just an innate toughness and competitive spirit that Lana would inherit from her mother — a love of horses and the countryside, too, passed from one generation to the next. Lana would spend her formative years in thrall to fox hunting, learning how to cover the Maryland terrain on a collection of Thoroughbreds.

In 1964, she was named to the US equestrian team and travelled to the Tokyo Olympics with her Maryland-bred Mr Wister. Though their competition wasn’t to be without its dramas, they would finish the Games on the podium, having helped the USA to a team silver medal.

Recalling her cross-country round, Lana said: “We fell hard, Wister breaking several bones in his jaw. We were badly disheveled and shaken, but Wister was nonetheless eager to continue. We fell a second time near the end of the course, tripping over another spread. When we finished, we were a collection of bruises, broken bones and mud. Anyway, we proved that a woman could get around an Olympic cross-country course, and nobody could have said that we looked feminine at the finish.”

Lana would go on to help found the US Combined Training Association (now US Eventing), and would compete at World Championship level in combined driving, as well as fostering an interest in competitive endurance riding.

Anneli Drummond-Hay

Anneli Drummond-Hay and Merely-a-Monarch. Photo courtesy of Badminton Horse Trials.

Nearly twenty years after the birth of Badminton Horse Trials – and, really, the birth of the sport in the United Kingdom – a second top-level international event would appear on the scene. The year was 1961, and the extraordinary Burghley estate in Lincolnshire was opening its gates to the best horses and riders in the country, and the people who loved to watch them, too. The pressure to compete — and to compete well — was on.

But for all this, a 24-year-old Anneli Drummond-Hay hadn’t actually had much match practice with her remarkable six-year-old, Merely-a-Monarch, before she put in her entry to the new and prestigious event. Though she had plenty of experience herself, having previously won the Pony European Championships and topping the annual leaderboard of British riders three times, this would be an altogether different challenge. Undeterred, she and the horse — with whom she’d largely contested showjumping, and who hadn’t experienced any water more taxing than a puddle in the lane — set out with one goal in mind: simply come home safely. After all, she hadn’t even intended to enter Monarch, but her intended mount was out of action, and so he would have to do.

They would lead the dressage by 30 marks and, drawn last to go on cross-country, they were greeted by the news that everyone else in the field had had at least one fall, many of them at the Trout Hatchery, where a hole had formed in the footing on the landing side of the jump into the water. With this in mind, Anneli nursed her young horse around the course, choosing the less popular log option into the water and coming home with the only clear round of the day. An unsurprising clear round over the poles the next day meant that victory was theirs by an astonishing margin of nearly 34 points. The next year, they would also take top honours at Badminton — this time, by 42 points.

Afterwards, conscious that her beloved horse was now worth an enormous sum of money, and buoyed on by the fact that women were now allowed onto the Olympic showjumping team, Anneli turned her attention back to jumping coloured poles with considerable success.

Sheila Willcox

Despite her incredible legacy, the late Sheila Willcox wasn’t born into a remotely horsey family. Instead, she once described her household as being “entirely suburban, based on business and academic careers and given to rugger, tennis, and bridge-playing.” Nonetheless, she was inexplicably bitten by the horsey bug, and spent her formative years saving up her pocket money so she could afford pony rides along the beach on holidays. Her parents eventually defected, and she was allowed to join the Pony Club. This, of course, swiftly became the primary focus of her life – so much so that her unwitting father bought her an unbroken pony in order to persuade her to head back to school without a fuss. Sheila was only ten years old at the time but nevertheless, she set about the great new challenge of training the two-year-old ‘Folly’.

Not long after, Sheila discovered the joys of competing – and moreover, the joys of victory. After being awarded her first rosette at a local fair, she vowed to be the very best at riding, saying: “to wear a number, to be called by name into the ring and walk, trot, and canter around with the other ponies – this was halcyon bliss…at the same time I determined that no matter which branch of equestrianism I should eventually take up, I should strive to emulate the leaders.”

A successful junior career riding show hacks followed, after Sheila’s parents deemed showjumping rather too unladylike to be proper. But Sheila wanted more of a challenge and, at the age of seventeen, she came across the sport of eventing. Like many profoundly bonkers teenage girls thereafter, she was instantly committed, and set about on the hunt for a horse that she might be able to turn into an eventing star.

Eventually she found that horse in the form of High and Mighty, or ‘Chips’, a seven-year-old dun by a Thoroughbred stallion and out of a Highland pony/Arab-cross mare. Though neither horse nor girl had any real formal training, Sheila undertook the job with aplomb, consulting a well-worn copy of Dressage by Henry Wynmalen for guidance. They won on their first attempt at eventing, in a Novice (Prelim) class at the now-defunct Hovingham Hall Horse Trials, and the British Horse Society got in touch to suggest that, down the line, Sheila might consider lending the horse to the British team for use at the Olympics.

And here we get to the crux of what really makes Sheila’s legacy so remarkable: she paved the way for women when the sport, though still refreshingly genderless in most spheres, only catered to men for Olympic berths. Impossibly glamorous and relentlessly fierce, Sheila refused to bow down to the whims of the BHS, and she rode as though she had a point to prove – perhaps because she did. As one of eventing’s suffragettes, she made it clear that the ‘lady riders’ could play with the big boys – and she did so by setting a remarkable Badminton record that no one has yet beaten.

 In 1955, she began training with Colonel Edy Goldmann, who was one of the first British trainers to promote a German-style focus on dressage. Paired with Sheila’s single-minded competitiveness, the result was formidable, and after a good showing at Harewood Horse Trials, Sheila and Chips were offered a place on the British team at that year’s Turin International. Sheila was the only female rider in the competition…and she won it.

In 1956, after just a year and a half of eventing, she and Chips headed to Badminton. They were placed second after the dressage, and accumulated the maximum number of bonus points in the speed and endurance phases, but even their clear showjumping on the final day couldn’t push them ahead of the legendary Frank Weldon and Kilbarry. They retained that second place all the way through until the bitter end – and overnight, British selector Ted Marsh had bought the horse on behalf of the team. As consolation, Marsh promised that if Chips returned from that year’s Stockholm Olympics in one piece, Sheila would be allowed to take him to Badminton the next year.

As it turned out, Chips didn’t even make it to Stockholm – instead, he went lame whilst in training at Windsor. But Sheila attended the Games herself – not as a competitor, which wasn’t allowed, but as a member of the media, commenting on the action for l’Année Hippique. The British team took gold, but Sheila felt she’d been hard done by: “Harking back to the controversy over allowing women competitors in the three-day event, and without wanting to appear a militant feminist, I still think the element of danger is in ratio to intelligent riding, and that should an unlucky accident happen to a woman instead of a man, she will show equal fortitude and endurance, as well as possibly less sustained shock due to the relief of feminine tears. No one would be surprised to see me passing the finishing post crying bitterly and feeling much better for it, but it would cause something of a furore if [Laurence] Rook or [Frank] Weldon came home dripping tears over Sissi or Kilbarry!”

After the Games, Sheila was able to buy her ‘lame’ horse back from the team. He promptly came sound again, and they won their ’57 Badminton prep run. Then it was time to head to the main event, made doubly special by the fact that Sheila’s 21st birthday fell on cross-country day. Fortunately for her festive spirit, she and Chips found themselves in the lead after dressage and, with a fast clear under their belts, still at the top of the pack by the time her party began at a nearby hotel. The crowning glory of the party was her colossal birthday cake – it was made to look like an elaborate cross-country course, with 21 fences artfully constructed along the top. Around them was a castle, some streams, and some carefully constructed terrain – and, of course, a tiny replica of Sheila and Chips popping over the final fence.

By all accounts, the party was a roaring success. At 3am, Sheila had to forcibly remove the revellers so she could get some sleep – but in true eventing fashion, she was able to get the job done the next day. The Badminton title was hers.

The next year, the remarkable pair took the crown again. This time, they would do it by the widest margin ever seen to date or since – they led the dressage by 22 points and ultimately won an astonishing 47 points clear of the next competitor. That autumn, Sheila and Chips headed to the European Championships in Copenhagen, and won both team and individual gold – this made Sheila the first woman ever to win the Europeans. Afterwards, Sheila gave High and Mighty to Ted Marsh to ‘retire’ into the Heythrop hunting field, but nevertheless, she was able to continue her quest to be the very best. The seven-year-old Airs and Graces had only been eventing for six months by the time he headed to Badminton in ’59, but he won it easily, giving Sheila the last of her unrivalled three consecutive wins. In 1964, she took a fourth title, winning ‘Little Badminton’ – a separate class run over the same course but for horses with minimal winnings – with Glenamoy.

In 1971, Sheila suffered a catastrophic fall at Tidworth Horse Trials, and was left partially paralysed. Determined not to give up riding, she swapped her focus to pure dressage and went on to compete successfully at the Grand Prix level. But she was also an enormously influential figure to the next generation of event riders: one of her rare and notable students was Mary King, who worked her way up to being Sheila’s head girl.

As it turned out, the ferocity of spirit and determination that made Sheila such a formidable competitor made her a notoriously tough employer and trainer, too.

In her 2009 autobiography, Mary King reflected: “my days would begin at 5.30am and, before I even got on a horse, I realised that the stable management was extraordinarily thorough. Mucking out was a very strict procedure; the floor had to be ‘clean enough to eat from’ and you had to move the straw back completely…no more than one pile of poo was allowed in a stable at any one time. Windows were Windolened inside and out once a week and there mustn’t be a cobweb in sight. Sheila Willcox was a perfectionist who left no stone unturned.”

In lessons, too, Sheila demanded the highest standards from her staff: “Sheila would say, ‘don’t you dare fall off!’ and the fact that I was much more scared of her than I was of a rearing and bucking horse made me stick on. It was very educational.” But, says Mary, “my two and a half years there turned out to be fantastic training and the broad base on which I have built my career.”

Lucinda Green

Killaire and Lucinda Green. Photo by Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

The Queen of Badminton? Absolutely. The Queen of Eventing? Many would argue so, and quite compellingly too. Lucinda was just nineteen when she took her first Badminton title in 1973 riding Be Fair, her Pony Club eventer who had taken her to team gold at the ’71 Junior European Championships. Be Fair was out of a mare called Happy Reunion, but he wasn’t planned progeny – in fact, he was borne out of an illicit liaison between the supposedly barren Happy and her field companion. The guilty colt in question would go on to contest Badminton himself – he was Fair and Square, ridden by Sheila Willcox.

Lucinda – then Prior-Palmer – had her first ride around Badminton with Be Fair in ’72. She later recalled in an interview with Debbie Sly, “I walked the course with Mark Phillips, who just kept saying ‘You want to kick here…I should keep kicking here…’ It didn’t seem to matter what type of fence we were looking at, the advice seemed to remain the same: just keep kicking! By the time we got to the end of our course-walk I had a streaming nosebleed from the stress of it all.”

Despite the nosebleed – and a runout at the walls as a result of her slippery leather gloves – Lucinda finished fifth. The following year she and Be Fair would return, and this time, they’d produce a nearly foot-perfect round – just one minor reroute due to an erroneous lack of martingale marred their cross-country, but they escaped penalty and took the title.

In an interview with Country Life, Lucinda said: “It was ridiculous: I was 19, it was my second attempt and the horse, Be Fair, had been my 15th-birthday present. Winning Badminton happens to other people, doesn’t it, but, as I drove home, in my little converted ice-cream van, with Be Fair’s ears just inches behind my own and my dog, Oliver Plum, beside me, I heard on the six o’clock news: ‘Today, Badminton Horse Trials was won by…’”

In 1976, Lucinda took her second Badminton title, but her victory was arguably superseded by the tragic death of her mount, Wideawake. The 16hh gelding (Hereward the Wake x Serenade) had been a tricky character, and Lucinda had poured all her energy into building a partnership with him.

She recounted to Debbie Sly, “Wakey really did not like me very much when our partnership began; he once even squashed me against the partition of the lorry with great purpose to the extent that I had to shout for help, and he seemed to take great delight in being as annoying and unhelpful as possible. He would back you into the corner of the stable and leave you there, he would wait until the mucking out bin was full and then tip it all over the clean floor, and when you tried to put his boots on he would wave his leg around until it connected with your knee or your toe. He was an extraordinary horse; sensitive without being highly strung. Once he galloped loose up the drive; a van was coming down the road and the two collided, sending Wakey flying over the bonnet and onto the other side of the road. He escaped with a few scrapes and bruises but his fear of traffic – the only fear he knew – remained with him always.”

In winning Badminton, it seemed as though all the hard work had come good – as Lucinda put it, “I had finally learnt to ride him as he needed to be ridden.” That required doing as little as possible – Wakey didn’t like to feel even the slightest nudge of his rider’s legs, but instead wanted to be left alone to work things out for himself. As the pair waited to begin their lap of honour, Lucinda leant down to hug her mount’s neck. While she did so, the rest of the top-placed horses and riders duly filed out of the arena in order to allow Lucinda to begin the victory gallop alone, as was customary. Just as the final horses were leaving the arena, Wideawake reared up without warning, staggered a few paces, and fell to the floor. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, and the cause was never ascertained.

The following year, Lucinda was back with a bang riding George, the 16.2hh grandson of 1948 Grand National winner Sheila’s Cottage. Though he looked the perfect stamp of an event horse, his competition record was so peppered with falls that Lucinda nearly turned down the ride. But her father had reached the terminal stages of his cancer diagnosis, and life in the Prior-Palmer household was a pretty morose affair, so her parents encouraged her to take the horse on as a welcome distraction. He arrived just a matter of weeks before Badminton and promptly went lame.

Lucinda managed to get him back on the straight and narrow with just enough time to run at a one-day event as practice. To her own great surprise, they won it – and Lucinda began to wonder if she should aspire to more than just survival at their big outing.

She changed her mind swiftly upon starting the second phase. Although George had performed well in the dressage to sit fourth, he set against her hand in the steeplechase and ploughed through most of the fences. But while Lucinda was losing faith, her support team wasn’t – her father even insisted on leading the horse around in the ten-minute box.

“It was their optimism and belief that finally shook me out of my own depths of despondency,” Lucinda recalled.

George responded in kind. As they set out onto cross country proper, he came into his own, jumping around faultlessly to finish within the optimum time and go into the lead. That Sunday was St George’s Day and, as though in recognition of the fact, he jumped yet another foot-perfect clear to secure a third victory for his rider. That autumn, he contested the Open European Championships at Burghley, winning both team and individual gold, and was retired to the hunt field shortly thereafter. Lucinda’s father passed away in the months following her Badminton victory.

Lucinda’s fourth victory came aboard another horse she considered an unlikely champion. Killaire wasn’t naturally fast, and he tended to be a long and low type of horse. But he had managed to finish second at Burghley in 1976, third at Badminton and Ledyard in 1977 and, as Lucinda had been pipped at the post and ‘only’ finished second at Badminton ’78 with Village Gossip, it was felt that it was high time for another triumphant effort. In ’79, Killaire offered just that, digging exceptionally deep to make up the seconds across the country and just beating Sue Hatherley and Monocle, a defeat that Sue never quite got over.

Lucinda, for her part, went on to write a book called Four Square, which chronicled her four wins and four remarkable horses. Quite understandably, she assumed she’d put a cap on her winning by now, and described her ’79 victory as “drawing the fourth and final side, and thereby closing an unbelievable square.” Joke’s on YOU, Lucinda.

“He had an incredible jump, but did everything with his head in the air – he was so ewe-necked that when he galloped along his ears were in your mouth,” said Lucinda of her ’83 victor, Regal Realm, who I’m sure many of us know best as ‘the horse with the really good stats in Equestriad 2001’.

It was fitting, really, that Lucinda should triumph again in this of all years – after all, it was director and designer Frank Weldon’s 70th birthday, and he had created a track that would truly test the mettle of the most experienced and savvy cross country riders. Despite a proliferation of alternative routes for less experienced competitors, who wouldn’t mind adding on a fair chunk of time in exchange for surviving their round, only nineteen pairs recorded clears. Weldon was stumped, and Lucinda laughed her way to the top of the podium once again. After an illustrious career as a team stalwart and medal-winner, he was sent home to Australia to enjoy a sunny retirement, and died at the age of 21.

Lucinda’s final victory came in 1984 aboard the great grey Beagle Bay, the part-bred Welsh pony with whom she’d won Burghley in 1981. Beagle Bay’s great weakness was his intermittent unsoundness, and Lucinda had been disappointed several times at three-days when she’d found herself forced to withdraw on Sunday morning. He also had a bit of pony brain about him, which meant that he could occasionally stop or duck out of a fence purely, it seemed, for the laugh. His “fat pony tummy”, as Lucinda called it, “must have housed a huge pair of lungs as he had tremendous stamina.”

Though Lucinda harboured some hope that she might notch up one more win – “seven is my lucky number,” she laughed – she never quite managed it. Now, she remains a familiar face on the circuit as a trainer, media mainstay, mother of five-star rider Lissa, and as a competitor herself. Long may the Queen of Badminton reign on!

Ginny Leng

Ginny Leng and Priceless take the European Championships.

Ginny Leng – nee Elliott – possesses a laundry list of victories that’s among the most impressive the sport has ever seen. Twice the World Champion, the lucky owner of four Olympic medals, and the first person to win the individual European Championship three times consecutively, she walked so that a certain Mr Jung could run. She was also one of the two first female eventers to win an individual medal at the Olympics, taking home bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, while Karen Stives took silver. But her journey to the top wasn’t without its hardships: she suffered severe anorexia while at boarding school, which she overcame through her determination to be strong enough to ride, and she also came back from a horrific injury that nearly ended her career.

Just six weeks after her 21st birthday in 1976, Ginny was competing at a one-day event at Ermington, which was meant to serve as one of her final prep runs for Badminton that year. Near the end of the course, her horse tiring beneath her, she approached a one-stride double. As she jumped the first element, someone ran across the track ahead of her. Her mount’s attention was diverted and he left a leg at the second element, catapulting Ginny out of the saddle. She put her arm out to break her fall, her elbow locked into place — and as her horse smashed down on top of her, her arm shattered into 23 pieces, from wrist to shoulder.

After some deliberation over cups of tea in the medic’s van, Ginny was taken to the Royal Naval Hospital. A preliminary examination offered little hope, and she was solemnly told that the nerves in her arm had been damaged so badly that amputation was likely and, if not removed, the arm would be paralysed. But the head surgeon, Commander Bertram, decided to give surgery a go anyway. Five operations later, Ginny had an arm that bent at the correct angle — but it didn’t unbend, it couldn’t complete simple tasks, and it didn’t have any feeling.

Still, remarked Ginny, “I learnt to count my blessing through encountering a young girl with Parkinson’s disease and a poor old lady, who had broken both her legs a year earlier and was still in hospital with both limbs encased in plaster. My problems seemed miniscule in comparison and, after taking to them, I used to think to myself: you don’t appreciate how lucky you are.”

With her release papers and no follow-ups or physiotherapy booked in, Ginny set herself a target: she would ride at Burghley just a few months later. She started small, challenging herself to lift a toothbrush, or undo a button, but while she was slowly regaining dexterity and some small, tingling feelings, her arm still wouldn’t straighten. She mentioned her struggle to the vet, Don Attenburrow, and he quite simply yanked it straight. Ginny would go on to compete at Burghley that year after all.

Tough, tenacious, and glamorous, Ginny — who once finished third at Badminton with a broken ankle after Murphy Himself hurled her from the top of the ski jump — helped bring the sport of eventing into the public eye. She continues to give back to the sport, acting as a high-profile trainer, working with the media, and always, indubitably, being rather cooler than anyone else.

Pippa Funnell

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street take top honours at Burghley. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Pippa Funnell made sporting history when she became the first-ever winner of the Rolex Grand Slam — and the only person to win it at the long-format — in 2003. But her profound influence on the sport is more human than that.

Pippa struck a chord with the British public when she launched onto the scene. She was young, and scrappy, and she’d made it to the top level on her Pony Club mount — a tick in the box for the nation that invented pony novels. Before too long, she became a poster girl for sport, and in taking the Grand Slam, she proved that she was one of the best the world had ever seen. So when she was brave enough to be candid about her internalised struggles, the world sat up and took notice.

Never afraid of a hard truth, Pippa has been candid about her ongoing struggles with her confidence, which have affected her in myriad ways throughout her career. When she won the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2019, fourteen years after her last top-level win, she admitted how close she’d been to giving up in the years previous. Though she’s an almost universal heroine, she also treads an enormous amount of common ground with her fan base, many of whom have dealt with the same issues in some way.

Time and time again, Pippa proved that toughness and emotional vulnerability aren’t mutually exclusive: she’s quick to point out that she ‘isn’t brave’, and when she became one of the first equestrians to use a sports psychologist, she didn’t shy away from admitting it. Now, sports psychologists are as commonplace as gym memberships in our sport.

These days, the conversation around mental health is free-flowing and constructive, and the stigma around dark days, confidence crises, and crippling insecurities has diminished enormously. In a sport where being as hard as nails is often valued above all else, this was never going to be an easy progression — but we have Pippa to thank for bringing the conversation to the table. She’s also a great proponent of female friendship — and we’re a great fan of that.

Ingrid Klimke

“This necklace the reason all of my dates been blind dates…” Ingrid Klimke channels Jay-Z with some podium bling. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

For so long, eventing has seemed like the ultimate one-note sport: although it’s made up of three disparate phases, to be truly successful, a rider must commit all their time and attention to eventing, right? Wrong. Ingrid Klimke certainly isn’t the first person to dabble in multiple disciplines, but in this highly specialised modern era, she’s one of the most successful.

The daughter of late dressage supremo Reiner Klimke, it was perhaps inevitable that Ingrid would inherit an almost preternatural feel for a horse. Though her discipline of choice is eventing — at which she’s a five-time Olympian and a back-to-back European champion — she’s also followed in her father’s footsteps, demonstrating a formidable ability in the sandpit. In 2002, she finished second in the dressage World Cup final and this year, she was named to the potential squad list for the German dressage team at this summer’s Olympics. She’s also one of only two women to be named a ‘reitmaster’ — a special honour within the German Equestrian Federation.

Though Ingrid often feels like she’s attained an untouchable level of celebrity, she remains committed to sharing her training philosophies with anyone who’s interested — and as it turns out, that’s a lot of people. She travels the world giving masterclasses and demonstrations, has written several books and has her own magazine, and she even offers monthly open days at her yard, in which 50 people enjoy a barn tour, the chance to watch two training sessions, and then a coffee break and discussion session with Ingrid. The gospel of thoughtful horsemanship is spreading fast.

Piggy French

Piggy French takes Badminton. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Has a Badminton winner ever been quite as popular as Piggy French in 2019? It would mark the start of an incredible year for the rider, who had never won a five-star before but who would finish 2019 holding the record for the most international wins in a year. But her journey to superstardom hasn’t been straightforward — a spate of terrible luck before the 2012 Olympics nearly bottomed out her business and sent her spiralling into a black hole that she didn’t believe she’d ever come out of. But the eternal grafter persevered, ditching the detritus of a bad break-up and replacing those who hadn’t believed in her with a circle of supporters and friends who always would, and after a while, everything began to put itself back together again.

The rags-to-riches story isn’t a new one, but what makes Piggy so special is the person she’s remained — or even become — through it all. She could be forgiven for having sharp edges these days, but there remains a very relatable softness to her, a sense of humour and a simple love for the horses that translates to every woman in every stable yard across the world. She’s also one of several top-level riders to succeed as a young mum, proving that it really is possible to have it all (but that trophy shelves should probably be built high, lest a sticky-fingered toddler get his paws on a certain bit of silverware!).

We could fill many thousands of words with women who’ve helped to shape this sport — the riders, grooms, coaches, owners, journalists, event organisers, and even the mares who steal our hearts have innumerable stories of their own to tell. We hope that, in time, we can unearth as many of them as possible for you, archiving their achievements in our digital annals. But for now, we raise a glass to these eight women and thank them for what they’ve given us.

Go women, and Go Eventing.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Fly Through the Barocca CCI4*-L Cross-Country

As the British eventing calendar is pummelled by more and more cancellations (yes, that’s two out of my three runs so far abandoned, not that I’m counting or anything), the smug souls who decided to start their season in sunny Portugal are surely patting themselves on the back. We wouldn’t know for sure, because we’re only watching from afar – but all evidence posted by our friends at the Irish Eventing Times would suggest that there’s plenty of reason to do so.

Portugal’s premier event is a two-week extravaganza, jam-packed with hot competition from 1*-4* and featuring some of the sport’s biggest names, determined not to be struck out by a little bit of wet stuff falling from the sky. This week’s competition, which features the crown jewel 4*-L, also offers up an early chance to get Tokyo qualifications done and dusted – although eligible riders have until this summer to get their Minimum Eligibility Requirements banked, there’s much to be said for getting them in the  books nice and early, and then buying stock in bubble wrap.

Week one of Barroca belonged almost exclusively to Cathal Daniels, who ran away with top honours in the CCI2*-S (Shannondale Mari) and the CCI3*-S (OLS King Aragon). This week’s looking no different: he goes into tomorrow’s cross-country in top spot with OLS King Aragon, the only horse to post a sub-30 score in the CCI4*-L. We’ll bring you a full round-up of how the competition plays out, but in the meantime, enjoy this course preview – and a bit of much-needed escapism, if you’re stuck in England at the moment – from Irish Eventing Times. As you’ll see, the season opener doesn’t mess around – it’s full of airy timber and some combinations that will require positive riding and quick thinking. Somehow, we expect the European bronze medalist isn’t too worried.

Run fast, go well, and drink plenty of port, chums.

It’s World Book Day, So Here Are Eight Horse Novels that Don’t Suck

It’s hard to make a chinchilla blush, and yet…

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that any equestrian journalist worth their salt isn’t just utterly bonkers about horses – they’re also unapologetic bookworms with exceptionally high standards. Standards that are, I admit, prone to slipping when confronted with that most beguiling of genres – the pony novel and its grown-up equivalent.

Okay, so there’s a real shortage of quality horsey fiction out there. But it does exist, largely in discontinued paperbacks and confusingly formatted Kindle downloads, and frankly, I’m usually just as up for reading the real clangers. I’ll save you from wading through the murky swampland of the equestrian self-publishing sector, though – instead, here’s a completely subjective and totally biased list of the best horsey novels in celebration of World Book Day. We expect you’re all accidentally dressed up as a member of the Saddle Club (bagsy Stevie, sorry).

Barn Blind and Horse Heaven – Jane Smiley

Smiley is probably the only Pulitzer winner to pen a couple of horse novels, but I’m forever grateful that she did. An amateur showjumper herself, she spent many years ensconced in the world of horse racing, too, and her two passions in the equestrian world yielded a couple of great books. Fair warning: Barn Blind will destroy you. I first read it when I was sixteen (WHY), and spent the following week wandering around in a depressive daze, flinching every time I thought about what I’d just experienced. The second I’d recovered, I read it again. Set deep in American farmland, it follows a troubled family spearheaded by a mother with one thing on her mind – success in the show ring for her four children. Her tunnel vision has far-reaching consequences (and will instil a deep fear of Pony Club mothers into you).

If the racing scene is more up your street, order yourself a copy of the terribly-named but otherwise superb Horse Heaven. This ensemble piece weaves together the narratives of a plethora of characters within the flat racing industry, scattered around the country, only vaguely connected to one another, and all navigating their own issues. There’s an owner having an affair with a trainer, a Walmart clerk who finds herself helping a rapper with his horse interests, an animal communicator, a jockey with a weight problem and, of course, the horses. Read this and try not to fall in love with plain brown wrapper Justabob – I dare you.

In the Pink – Molly Watson

One of these days I’m going to make good on my promise to write a novel that’s a bit of Bridget Jones for the eventing set, but until I find the time to do so, In the Pink does a marvellous job of moving the format over to the horse world. Watson’s area of interest isn’t eventing, though – instead, it’s hunting in the glorious Ledbury country. The book begins as Watson and her sister, Bee, make the impromptu decision to leave their London lives and move to the country, where they speed through the process of finding themselves (only vaguely suitable) mounts and embark on their quest to hunt down a Peppermore.

What’s a Peppermore, you ask?

“…Bee dropped by and wedged a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man into our letterbox along with a detailed but incomprehensible set of sums allegedly showing why her mortgage payments prevent her from taking out a loan to bankroll The Plan herself. She had underlined in red those of Sassoon’s passages that she felt best made the case for the fallback scenario of a rustic wedding should my overdraft facilities fail us before the end of the season.

Well, forget fallback scenario. If we run across anyone like fast-living Jack and Charlie Peppermore – described by Sassoon on pages 234 and 235 as ‘desperately fine specimens of a genuine English traditional type which has become innocuous since the abolition of duelling’ and who were ‘reckless, insolent, unprincipled; but never dull, frequently amusing, and, when they chose, had charming manners’ – all resources will be channelled into enticing them to kiss us all over at their earliest convenience.”

Quite.

Dark Horse and Alibi Man by Tami Hoag

Even if you’re not a crime reader – as I’m certainly not – Tami Hoag’s two equestrian offerings make for a quick and interesting read. Hoag isn’t just one of the foremost crime writers in the States, she’s also an accomplished dressage rider – and her two novels set within the underbelly of the Winter Equestrian Festival won’t leave you cringing over the details. Well, except for any details involving ‘gators. Those might make you cringe.

Riders – Jilly Cooper

Eventing Jesus bless Jilly Cooper for inventing the bonkbuster, a laughably fat tome full of naughty bits and, if we’re honest, probably one or two too many Shakespeare references to be entirely believable. Every pony-mad teenager in England cut their teeth on Riders, which is about 8,000 pages long and just as jam-packed with showjumping as it is with the aforementioned naughty bits. Cooper’s books have so many characters that they come with an index of all the people, horses, and dogs within – kind of like a good-natured Game of Thrones with even fewer clothes, somehow – and you’ll love, or love to hate, every last one of them. Also, they all live in a place called Rutshire, which is hilarious, because they… well, you know.

Riders focuses on the ongoing feud between top showjumper and insufferable posho Rupert Campbell-Black and the tempestuous gypsy Jake Lovell, who’ll do whatever it takes to prove he deserves a spot on the British team. You will read this a hundred times and then spend the rest of your life pitching editors to let you go and do a boozy interview with the Coopatron herself – or that’s what I’ve been doing, anyway.

Kiss and Tell – Fiona Walker

If there’s a black mark against Jilly Cooper, it’s that we probably won’t get a book about eventing out of her – “it’s a sport for gifted amateurs,” remarks Rupert sniffily in the pages of Riders. But where Jilly left a gap, Fiona Walker was quick to offer something to fill it, and her collection of lengthy novels about eventing power couple Tash and Hugo make for a lighthearted – if not quick – read. Kiss and Tell is the last of the series but can be read as a standalone, and it’s the most eventing heavy, so it’s the perfect option if you want reasonably accurate descriptions of major British events and a hot Kiwi so vaguely described that you can go through the process of picturing him as pretty much everyone who’s ever ridden for New Zealand. I’m utterly convinced Walker had Jock Paget in mind when she wrote him, and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on even if she personally tells me I’m wrong.

National Velvet – Enid Bagnold

I’m not actually convinced that Bagnold’s magnum opus, which became one of the best-loved horse films of all time, is actually written for children. Yes, it’s about a child – the incorrigible Velvet Brown, who wins a horse in a raffle and goes on to gender-bend her way into the Grand National – but its depictions of the eccentricities of a working class family between the wars, and all the muddle and chaos that goes on within their farm and in their interactions, is pure grown-up fare. National Velvet might be, at face value, the ultimate pony novel, but on a closer re-read it’s a study of the intricacies – and fallibility – of human interaction, and a celebration of women succeeding in male-dominated areas, an exciting new idea as England rumbled towards another World War. If nothing else, we’re all a little bit Velvet – tunnel-visioned, occasionally awkward, and prone to flights of fancy. We wouldn’t do such a mad sport if we weren’t.

Event Rider Masters Announces Shortened 2020 Season Amid Engagement Boost

A year for the books: the 2019 ERM series podium. Photo courtesy of Event Rider Masters.

As the European season whirs into motion, the popular Event Rider Masters CCI4*-S series is keeping one eye on the past as it delves into an in-depth analysis of key performance indicators over the previous seasons.

An industry-standard independent audit, conducted by SMG Insight, revealed an uptick in global fan engagement with the series through the 2019 season. The audit shows that digital audiences – that is, those who watch the series through an online streaming service, Facebook, or through the ERM website – are up 23.5% from 2018, while terrestrial television coverage was boosted by 72 hours, with the Lignieres-en-Berry final reaching a whopping 1.8m viewers on TV alone. Social media reach has doubled through 2019, while press readership is up by nearly 150%. In total, these engagement boosts represent an increased sponsor value of 16.1% – this means that the series is now worth an estimate £61.2m to advertisers.

So what does this mean for you, the viewer? Well, it’s a big step in the right direction for television coverage of our sport, as it showcases the viability of the sport on the silver screen and proves that eventing can make a splash globally.

In the wake of this announcement, the ERM has decided to amend its 2020 season plan, opting instead to deliver a shortened season of four legs, down from the six originally announced at the end of last year.

“We are excited to be entering our fifth year of existence, with continual improvement and innovation remaining core to the ERM organisation,” says Operations Director Paul Tapner. “We will continue to create exciting new innovations to the presentation of Eventing sport in 2020. For this Olympic year we have decided to condense and intensify the 2020 Masters season, providing a crescendo of sporting excitement into the Tokyo Olympics.”

Jardy will provide the stage for the action-packed finale of the 2020 series. Photo courtesy of Event Rider Masters.

The condensed season will begin in the UK at the Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International Horse Trials (April 10-11), a popular event on the British calendar and a new entry to the ERM line-up. Then, the series will head north-west to the Dodson and Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials in Derbyshire (May 16-17), which has previously acted as the series’ opener. The third leg will return to Belgium’s Arville Castle (June 27-28), while the finale will now be held at the popular Haras de Jardy venue just outside Paris (and just in time for Bastille day, with its July 11-12 spot on the calendar).

With four fixtures comes increased pressure for each performance to count – with no space to play catch-up, the new calendar removes any wiggle room and should dish up four exciting legs to keep us all occupied until we turn our attentions to Tokyo. In addition to a revised calendar, Tapner also promises a significant increase in television offerings in 2020.

“Every year the ERM series has increased its reach to global audiences. Through new live broadcast formats planned for 2020, ERM will continue to grow its fan base worldwide,” he says, attributing the series’ success to its mutually beneficial partnerships. “Independent analysis standard to the sports industry demonstrates that ERM provides enormous value to its sponsors. We have an exciting array of sponsors aligned with ERM for 2020 and we look forward to welcoming new sponsors for years to come.”

Visit the website here.

[ERM 2019 MEDIA STATISTICS AND A NEW LOOK 2020]

Friday Video from SmartPak: Sprout and Lexi’s Big Adventure

 

You don’t need to be an EN obsessive to know that we’ve been using William Fox-Pitt’s new YouTube channel as a way to survive the dreary winter months. Jam-packed with behind-the-scenes footage, interesting insights into the management of a top-level yard, and up-close-and-personal pieces on some of the stars of the stable, it’s a great addition to the wide world of online eventing offerings.

But this week’s episode is extra-special, because it features a gutsy US rider and her heart horse, both working to make some big dreams come true. We followed Lexi Scovil‘s journey with Chico’s Man VDF Z – or Sprout – through the 2019 season, as they made their mark on the British eventing scene, culminating in their first trip around the exalted grounds of Blenheim. Now, they’re back for more. Get to know this dynamic duo and find out what’s on the radar for them in 2020 as the Fox-Pitt Eventing channel turns its attentions to Lexi and Sprout’s big adventure.