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Tuesday News & Notes from Ocala Horse Properties

In another show of extraordinarily silly bureaucracy, British-based equine dentist James Sheppard faces being removed from the country just a month away from the due date of his baby with partner Sophie Seymour. As someone who also had to go through the extraordinarily long-winded process of applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK — I was born in England, but have German citizenship, which made me a stranger in the country’s eyes post-Brexit — I really feel for these guys and can’t imagine how stressful this situation must be with a baby on the way. Spare a second to contact their local MP using the information in the post, and you could make a huge difference in a horsey family’s lives.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

Okay, so it’s a bit naughty of me to include my own bylines in N&N, right? But interviewing Kerryn Edmans, groom to Tim and Jonelle Price and recent winner of the Cavalor Groom’s Prize at the FEI Awards, was such a joy, and so insightful, that I know you’ll all want to read what she had to say about helming this powerhouse team for yourselves. Fair warning: it’ll make you want to quit your job and move straight to their yard. [Kerryn’s continuing a family legacy]

At the ripe old age of 34, the extraordinary Over To You has died. We’ll be looking back at his incredible career as the British team’s most decorated horse ourselves, but for now, check out H&H‘s story and raise a glass to this life-changing athlete. [Farewell to the GOAT]

Looking for a coach in Canada, or hoping to become one yourself? Then it’s crucial that you understand the Coach Status system, which aims to standardise teaching and ensure that equestrians are benefitting from safe, correct, high quality education whenever they engage with a trainer. [A step in the right direction]

West Coast horsey folks, unite! There’s a new coalition in place that’s dedicated to enriching and supporting California’s vibrant equestrian community, and although its focus at the moment is primarily on the racing industry, it’s these kinds of initiatives that tend to trickle down into other disciplines and industries. [Check it out]

Peeked inside our Holiday Gift Guide yet? It’s packed full of gift ideas for all types of riders, plus more than a few shopping deals to take advantage of! Click here to view the Guide!

Ocala Horse Properties Dream Farm of the Week:

I don’t know about you guys, but my favourite part of The Sims was never the actual gameplay (although I, too, love to remove a pool ladder every now and then so I can woo-hoo with the Grim Reaper). Instead, I spent long hours of my early teens just building houses and attempting to build barns, and then decorating them with minute detail, usually using custom-made mods that probably gave my computer quite a lot of viruses. Anyway, the point I’m making is that this place, which has space to build the yard of your dreams, stirs something up in me. I could move in and make it whatever I want it to be. A blank canvas, ready for all my wildest ideas and biggest dreams to be writ large! SO exciting. Now excuse me while I redownload The Sims.

Listen to This: The latest episode of the USEA Podcast brings you an in-depth chat with Dan Krietl, the USEF CCI4*-L National Champion — and an amateur rider with plenty going on behind the scenes. This one will help you get through those morning barn chores with ease!

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

The best use of a non-horsey boyfriend? Luring the feral mare back in after a year off, using coercion tactics and a selection box of root vegetables.

I’m a real fair weather rider these days, and after years working as a groom in all sorts of rotten conditions, I’m no longer feeling bad about it. But I must say, after nearly a year of my horse being out in a field with a soft tissue injury, I’m really enjoying even the moochiest of rides in the pouring rain. Twenty minutes of walking? Sign me up, baby! I can’t feel my toes, but I’m having a nice time.

National Holiday: It’s International Ninja Day, because of course it is.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Rocking Horse December H.T. (Altoona, FL): [Website] [Results]

Sporting Days Farm H.T. IV (Aiken, SC): [Website] [Results]

Your Monday Reading List:

We’re all very keen to fight the good fight for grooms and keep working to improve conditions for them. But once in a while, it’s really heartening to catch up with someone in the role who’s having a truly nice time and being treated well by their employer. That’s certainly the case for Abbie Salter, who works for British eventer Jodie Amos and has nearly a decade as a groom under her belt. Even know, she’s happy to say it’s the best job in the world. [Let’s make this a universal experience]

From turmeric curing all that ails your horse to an increasing line-up of products that claim they’ll [zap/laser/magnetize] the pain away, there’s a heck of a lot being sold to us that might be just a touch questionable. Though there’s anecdotal evidence to support just about anything (my own trainer has had great success with those titanium masks, and who actually knows how those are meant to work!), there’s also a fair amount of scepticism out there. And delightful, silly satire — my favourite thing of them all. [This rug will make your horse live forever! Naaaaht]

Qatar, who are currently busy hosting a contentious FIFA World Cup, are now putting their hat in the ring for the 2036 Olympics. Though many keen football fans are opting to boycott the World Cup in response to human rights violations in the country, Qatar believes it’s been such a roaring success so far that the next obvious step is taking on the biggest sporting stage of them all. [Qatar to bid for Olympic hosting role]

Using the winter months to put some time into a green bean? You’ll probably spend as much time reviewing training books, articles, and videos in the evenings as you do actually working with your horse – and so it’s always particularly helpful when someone collates a few good resources together. [Dive in and get those sessions planned]

Morning Viewing:

Catch up with vlogger and amateur eventer Meg Elphick as she takes a lesson with showjumper Dan Delsart:

Register for the First Paris Olympics Ticket Draw

An artist’s interpretation of the Opening Ceremony flotilla. Image courtesy of Paris 2024/IOC.

Hoping to attend the Paris Olympics in 2024? Your first chance has finally come to snap up some tickets to the biggest competition of the next four years, with the opening of the first draw opportunity.

This first draw for tickets will be for those spectators who want to see multiple sessions of sport: successful applicants will get the chance to buy tickets for three sessions, with all sports and seating tiers available for purchase in what’s been dubbed a ‘Make Your Games’ pack. Nearly 10 million tickets will be made available for purchase across the various sales windows, and 750 total sessions of sport will take place throughout the Games, as well as the exciting Opening Ceremony, which will be held along the River Seine, and the Closing Ceremony.

The equestrian sports at Paris 2024 will take place at the Palace of Versailles.

The draw, which opened on December 1st, will remain in situ until January 31, giving you ample opportunity to get your name on the list for a shot at tickets for the Paris Games. Those who are accepted from the draw will be granted a 48-hour window within which to purchase tickets for their sessions of choice during February and March — though another draw will open in March to give those who miss out in round one another shot at getting into the room where it happens come 2024, with individual tickets available during the second draw. If you want to guarantee your tickets, and you’ve got deep pockets to do so, there are also some very cool hospitality packages available.

Those wishing to put their name in the hat will need to do so via the official Olympic ticketing site. No other website has permission to sell Olympic tickets, so beware if you see a deal that looks too good to be true — it almost certainly is. This method of sale might make it slightly harder to get your hands on your tickets, but it does stop scalpers from snapping up all the seats and gouging prices, which anyone who’s tried to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets lately will be all too familiar with.

To learn more about the Make Your Games packs, click here — or to go ahead and sign up for the draw, click here. Bonne chance!

 

 

Prize Money Increases, An Amended Schedule, and a Ground Jury Appointment: The Latest from Badminton

Laura Collett and London 52 prove their class over a tough Badminton track en route to the win in 2022. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Ring-a-ding-ding, it’s that time of year again! No, not Christmas (although hello to you, too, if you’re also spending the day drinking mulled wine, planning your Christmas tree pick-up, and ordering Nat King Cole albums on vinyl), but Badminton updates season — that heady bit of the season in which we start piecing together what next spring’s Big B might look like.

First on the agenda? An increase in prize money, which is alway a welcome notion. The winner of the 2023 Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, will take home £105,000, after an increase in the total prize pot from £360,750.00 to £380,300 and prize money increases planned all the way through to 20th place. In real world terms, this is an extra £5,000 for the winner, keeping Badminton in top spot as the biggest payout in eventing. We’ll try not to think too much about the darts competition that’s serving up several million in prize money.

“We are very keen to reflect the huge accolade of winning such a high-level five-star competition, as well as the great achievement of finishing in the top 20,” says Badminton Director Jane Tuckwell.

One of the major changes we’ll see at Badminton this year is a one-off scheduling adjustment, due to the coronation of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, which is set to take place on Saturday, May 6. In order to accommodate a long break in the competition, in which spectators will be able to watch the coronation on big screens around the venue, the entire week of competition will be shifted forward by a day. This means that the first horse inspection will now take place on Thursday, May 4, with dressage on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6. Cross-country will be held on Sunday, May 7, and horsey folks will enjoy the best possible use of a Bank Holiday Monday with the thrilling showjumping finale on May 8.

“It should be a really celebratory occasion which we hope will be fun for everyone and a great atmosphere,” says Mrs Tuckwell.

Badminton has also announced its team of top-level officials for the 2023 renewal: Angela Tucker (GBR) will serve as President of the ground jury, and will be ably assisted by Andrew Bennie (NZL) and Xavier Le Sauce (FRA). The USA’s Andrew Temkin will serve as Technical Delegate, assisted by the hugely experienced Marcin Konarski from Poland.

Each year, Badminton picks a benefitting charity, which receives a chunk of the proceeds from the running of the event and is offered an exciting, productive platform upon which to promote its work. This year, that charity will be Air Ambulances UK, which is a charity close to many horsey folks’ hearts: their crucial service comes into its own in rural, hard-to-reach areas, and often, event riders’ lives have been saved by their quick assistance. Running one of these emergency flights, though, can cost several thousand pounds a go, and so constant fundraising is vital for the service to continue.

Simmy Akhtar, Air Ambulances UK CEO, says: “We are extremely proud and honoured to be chosen as the charity of the year for Badminton Horse Trials 2023 presented by Mars Equestrian. We’re excited to have the opportunity to showcase the lifesaving work of the UK air ambulance charities who work tirelessly to bring the Emergency Department to the patient no matter where they are often including unfortunate riding incidents. We look forward to welcoming and engaging visitors, participants, supporters, and suppliers to our stand during the event.”

The 2022 ticket system, which got rid of on-the-gate tickets entirely, will continue on in 2023 after it was deemed successful in easing traffic in the villages around Badminton. The box office will open in January, so keep it locked on EN for news and updates about early bird pricing and more!

#WaybackWednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: A Vintage Gold Medal Round

Hop in my Wayback Machine, little cherubs, and let’s head to 1968 — the year my mum was born, though that’s neither here nor there, really — and across the world to Mexico City, the host of that year’s Olympic Games. Then, the British team were in another one of their golden eras, and this event was no different: they took the team gold medal ahead of the US in silver and Australia in bronze, and that victory was clinched by their anchor rider, Reuben Jones, who delivered the necessary clear with The Poacher. Though they didn’t do the double — individual gold went to France’s Jean-Jacques Guyon and Pitou — the Brits did also secure individual silver, thanks to the efforts of Derek Allhusen and Lochinvar. Check out the fine work of an anchorman with this bit of Olympic history.

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Tuesday News & Notes from Ocala Horse Properties

Sierra Lesny, recipient of the second SEE Ever So Sweet scholarship, and her OTTB Pea. Photo by Sally Spickard.

After the hustle and bustle of the first round of holidays, I’m delighted that we’ve made it to Giving Tuesday and, even better, Give Back Week. We’re working with our brand partners to deliver you some brilliant deals that also do great things in the horse world this week, with proceeds going to Ukrainian horse charities, access programmes, and more. From November 28, through Sunday, December 4, we encourage you to shop with the brands listed in this article, each of which has committed to donating a portion of proceeds during this week to a nonprofit or charity. We also encourage you to check out your social media feeds and emails for other brands giving back this week. Do good, feel good!

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

By now, you probably know that France’s Maxime Livio won the inaugural Agria Top 10 Indoor Eventing. But do you know how he managed to clinch the title in Sweden? [Check out the video and see his strategy in action]

The Area X Championships were held a week ago in Tuscon, Arizona. Three riders capped off their season with titles — not a shabby way to head into the holidays! Even better? The winning mounts include a Clydesdale cross and an Appaloosa. [Meet the champs]

A primarily indigenous community in Australia has come up with a novel solution to their wild horse problem. Though the horses are much loved by the people of Mornington Island, they’ve also done plenty of damage to gardens and green spaces in the community — but the folks in the area were adamant that culling wasn’t an option. Instead, they’ve created a programme that’ll allow young people to work with the horses, gaining valuable skills and setting them up for future careers. [Talk about a win-win]

Are you a hay-steaming fan? Me too: it doesn’t just make the yard smell incredible, although honestly, nothing is better than the sweet smell of a freshly-opened HayGain — but it has a marked positive effect on our horses’ airways. But new studies suggest that horses that are fed steamed hay might need to be provided with an extra protein source, as the process can strip some of this important macronutrient out of forage. [A bit of chicken breast with your hay, madam?]

As the year creeps closer to its end, it’s time to start thinking about the next. With that comes resolutions, plans, ideas, things to change and improve, goals — and some serious reflection on the year that’s been. Here’s an interesting treatise on what all of us could stand to work on in 2023. [The ‘less Instagram’ one feels targeted at me, tbh]

Ocala Horse Properties Dream Farm of the Week:

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Racing yards tend to come with some seriously cool amenities, and while they do require additional work (like, for example, putting in an arena), you can’t fault them for what they do have — such as the capacious exercise track, actual spa building (with a water treadmill!), and enormous amounts of space that this one has. With over 100 stalls, plus tonnes of human accommodation, you could keep this one for its intended purpose — or you could set up the eventing training base of dreams and run some incredible shows and clinics out of it, too.

Watch This:

Excuse me while I steal this concept at Badminton next year.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

Not the usual morning commute!

And so we re-enter the grind! I mean, as a British-based ENer, I kind of never left it, but I’m straight back in the mix this morning taking a train to London in my breeches to go for a ride with a showjumper in the city. It’s certainly never boring being an equestrian journalist, and now that I’ve got this assignment on my roster, I’m beginning to wonder if I ought to insist on doing all my interviews on horseback. Heads up, eventers: I want to ride your steeds, and I want to do it right now. Okay, hang on, not all your steeds. I’d like to have the option to cherry pick. Basically, what I’m saying is: Tamie, call me. Mai Baum and I have some business to attend to.

National Holiday: It’s Cyber Monday! Fortunately, ‘cyber’ means something very different now than it did to those of us who grew up in Yahoo! chat rooms in the early noughties.

US Weekend Action:

Pine Top Thanksgiving H.T. (Thomson, GA): [Website] [Results]

Your Monday Reading List:

I love intrepid women who’ve defied the social convention of their time — and Victorian adventurer Isabella Bird is certainly one of those. She covered a huge swathe of the US on horseback, and despite being less than five feet tall, she did everything that needed doing all by herself — from wrangling cattle to gutting bears. For some reason, there’s a TV show about one of the Spice Girls retracing her route in the works, but we can dig it. [Let this woman be your Monday inspiration]

Ever fancied giving hunting a go? Even if you’re not keen on the idea of killing something — which is totally fair enough — there are so many great trail hunting options to give you the thrill of the chase and the inimitable experience of riding across the country at speed. But getting started can feel kind of intimidating — unless you can follow along with the advice and experiences of another rider first. [Prepare yourself for the most fun you’ll ever have on a horse]

Goodbye to event horse owner and former British team member Shirley Thorp. The extraordinary equestrian died at the age of 89, following a colourful life that included trips around Badminton in the 1950s and ’60s. [Read more about her here]

Further evidence has been collated that proves the effectiveness of horses in therapy situations. This time, the research has been conducted on adolescents in care environments, many of whom have come from enormously traumatic backgrounds. [The case for access to horses, universally]

Morning Viewing:

We all love a cross-country helmet cam video — but how about a Grand Prix showjumping one? Prepare to spend plenty of time in the air over these fences!

Sunday Video: London 52’s Got the Moves

 

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A post shared by Laura Collett MBE (@laura_collett)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: not Christmas, but time, instead, for Laura Collett‘s Badminton winner London 52 to come back into work. Why should we care about one of many five-star horses re-entering the 9-5? Because ‘Dan’, as he’s known at home, is a particularly special sort of chap. When his first jump of the year rolls around, we’re all treated to a particularly unique show – and Laura becomes eventing’s Calamity Jane. And as a palate whetter? She’s compiled a selection of clips from previous years to give us all a taste of what we’re in for. Laura, please let us know what breeches you’re wearing, because we could do with sticky bums of that magnitude ourselves, frankly.

Can’t see the embedded Instagram content? Click here to get your fill of London 52’s interpretive dance moves!

Thanks for the Memories: Looking Back at Tina Cook’s Career upon her Retirement

Tina Cook at Pau. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

So far this off-season, we’ve dealt with the emotional blow of the retirement of Jonelle Price’s Classic Moet and Faerie Dianimo, plus Sarah Bullimore’s Reve du Rouet — but none of those quite prepared us for the announcement that British team stalwart, five-star superhero, and all-around exceptionally good egg Tina Cook is hanging up her upper-level boots.

The announcement came yesterday via a story in Horse and Hound, wherein she told the magazine that she plans to continue producing horses up to three-star level, but won’t continue competing through four- and five-star, nor will she vie for spots on British teams, any longer. The decision comes after the sad death of her top horse, Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson’s 15-year-old Billy the Red, following a brief attempt at retirement in the field. The gelding competed at Pau CCI5* last autumn, finishing 16th, but hasn’t competed internationally since, as some unevenness of stride became evident in the run-up to Badminton. Being turned out to enjoy his remaining years, Tina explained to H&H, wasn’t a viable or happy solution for the busy-brained, clever little horse, and so the tough decision was made to put him down.

“I took the decision that was right for the horse,” she says in the article, which you can read in full here. “I get so attached to my horses; it was so sad but if they can’t have a happy retirement, you have to do what’s right by the horse. And at the same time as announcing that, I thought maybe now’s the time to say what’s probably going to happen.”

Tina Cook and Billy the Red at Pau in 2021. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tina will now focus her attentions primarily on the youngster, and of course her children, 17-year-old Isabelle and 15-year-old Harry. Izzy is a keen eventer herself, and won individual silver and team gold this year at the Junior European Championships with the homebred mare, Mexican Law, while Harry enjoys playing rugby.

Tina Cook and Billy the Red at the 2019 European Championships. Photo by William Carey.

Across Tina’s extraordinary career, she’s given us all — fans of the sport, reporters, and fellow riders alike — so many happy moments and memories, which her former teammates have been commemorating across social media since the announcement.

“What a women,” writes Gemma Tattersall, who competed alongside Tina at the 2017 European Championships at Strzegom and the 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon. “Absolute legend. No better lady to be on a team with. She gave me the most incredible support on the teams I went on, I learnt so much from Tina and will be forever grateful. Proper team player and proper horsewomen.”

Tina Cook and Billy the Red at the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Pippa Funnell, too, paid tribute to her longtime friend:  “So sad to hear the news of Billy The Red. He was a brilliant but quirky little number with whom Tina brought out the very best, what a tough decision for Tina but absolutely the right decision to have Billy put down. On making this tough call she has made another very difficult decision and that is to call time on her illustrious career at the very top of our sport.”

“Tina has to have been one of Team GB’s greatest members,” continues Pippa. “She came into her best form always at the big Championship’s, there was no better person to have on a team and I am fortunate enough to have been part of several of those. Many many fond memories but looking forward, she is such a fantastic producer of young horses and that she will continue to do up to 3 star level and as she says her time and efforts will go into helping and supporting Isabelle and Harry. I know we will share many more fun days as dear friends but I will miss sharing the nerves, sharing the highs and sharing the lows, we have had so many laughs at top events throughout the world.”
Tina’s Senior team career began back in 1993, when she was given the call-up for the European Championships with her Pony Club and Junior team mount, the full Thoroughbred Song And Dance Man. They returned with an individual silver medal, establishing Tina — the daughter of late racehorse trainer Josh Gifford and showjumper Althea Roger-Smith — as the poster girl for the pony-mad for the next three decades. Her roster of achievements would go on to include two Olympic appearances, at Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, where she won team and individual bronze at the former and team silver at the latter, finishing sixth individually. She would also ride at four World Equestrian Games, taking team gold in 2010 and team silver in 2014, and seven total Senior European Championships, most notably becoming the European Champion at Fontainebleau in 2009 with the exceptional Thoroughbred Miners Frolic.

Tina Cook and Star Witness at Burghley in 2018. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Tina’s horses, which she produces at her home base in West Sussex, where she grew up, have often been larger-than-life characters, too. There have been the Thoroughbreds, such as Miners Frolic, who continued to prove what the breed could do long after it fell out of fashion, and the quirky souls, such as Star Witness and Billy the Red, with whom Tina competed at the 2017 and 2019 European Championships, taking team gold and silver, respectively, and the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games, where they finished ninth individually.

“[Billy] has just got a bright brain; he’s not malicious, and he’s not nasty — he was just born bright and it’s just about finding the key. He isn’t one you’d want to overwork, as he’d probably get worse, so it’s just that fine line of doing twenty minutes and then hoping,” explained Tina to EN last year. “He’s desperately spooky — oh my god — on hacks and stuff like that. When I rode him this morning he spooked at a pile of stinging nettles, slipped, and whipped ’round. He’s always the same, but that’ll be him all his life; sometimes he spooks at flowers, sometimes he doesn’t, and so I always have to prepared for the unexpected. You just have to smile your legs around him, smile, and get on with it! I ride him at home myself — I don’t think it’s fair on anyone else to have to ride him just in case anything happens, so it’s me and him all the time.”

But for all Billy’s quirks, he was also one of the most reliable jumping horses in the game, with speed, accuracy, and careful feet on his side that made him a stalwart member of the teams. And, of course, he was an inspiration well beyond the upper levels of the sport, paying a visit to London’s Ebony Horse Club, where he and his rider shared an insight into the sport with the riders there.

Though a five-star win eluded Tina throughout her career, she was one of the most formidable competitors in the world at this level, with countless placings at Badminton, Burghley, Pau and Luhmühlen to her name. We have no doubt we’ll continue to see her on site at these competitions — particularly the Big Bs, at which she’s become a mainstay of the on-site commentary and presenting teams, and will, we expect, be the nervous mum of a competitor before too long, too.

Tina Cook and Miners Frolic at Badminton. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Whichever way the journey goes from here, thank you, Tina, for all you’ve done for the sport so far. We’re still the pony mad kids with eventing posters on our walls at heart, and you’ll always be our poster girl, really.

Saturday Video: Storming Around Stockholm with Boyd Martin

Imagine, if you will, cantering into an arena packed with tricky questions, in front of a roaring crowd and pounding music — on a horse you’ve only ridden a couple of times. That’s the situation at hand for all those intrepid riders who pick up catch rides for the indoor eventing classes at some of the biggest shows around the world, and this weekend, a number of them are doing so in Sweden, including Boyd Martin. He finished fifth in the first round of the class on Thursday evening, and so will enter the ring at the halfway point in tomorrow night’s finale with Caruccio Paradise. Check out his first round ride in today’s video!

10 Things We Learned from the Wesko Equestrian Foundation’s Trip to Saumur

A couple of weeks ago, the Wesko Equestrian Foundation took a particularly exciting trip: the riders, plus mentor Pippa Funnell, travelled to the home of the Cadre Noir in Saumur, France, to take part in the inaugural Young Riders Academy Jumping Forum, which allowed them to learn from riders such as showjumping legends Kevin Staut and Franke Sloothaak, French team stalwart and Cadre Noir rider Thibault Vallette, and more. Their days in France were jam-packed with ridden sessions, chances to watch and learn, a roundtable discussion on training and the all-important conversation on social licence — and, of course, plenty of good French food and wine!

The British-based Wesko Equestrian Foundation was set up in memory of Christina Knudsen, whose own stake in the sport included ownership of the Foundation’s namesake, Tim Price’s Luhmühlen winner Wesko. Its intention? To bridge the gap between the successful Young Rider programme and Senior-level competition by providing a year of mentorship, opportunities, training, and business education to a selected group of 21-28-year-old young professionals — but its scope goes beyond that, too, with links to London’s Ebony Horse Club, an inner-city riding programme, and plans for further expansion to include developing eventing nations. In short? It’s something we’d all quite like to be invited into, frankly — but even if some of us have aged out of its remit (guilty as charged), we still enjoy the odd opportunity to stick our noses in.

Although our invitation to France must have got lost in the post, we did enjoy getting to follow some of the training sessions from afar — and here are ten of the wisest snippets shared during the course of the lessons with Franke and Pippa.

Franke Sloothaak: “The rein back should be the same as asking the horse to move forward, otherwise they can’t move their hind legs — so don’t restrict the movement.”

Pippa Funnell: “If you work on your horse, your horse gets better. If you work on yourself, all your horses will get better.”

Franke Sloothaak: “If the horse is rushing, stop it after the fence and not before. If the horse is slow, speed them up after the fence, then the next time they’ll already be thinking more forward.”

Pippa Funnell: “If you turn your body over a fence, you lose the horse’s outside shoulder — so keep the body straight.”

Franke Sloothaak: “If he’s a strong and forward horse, you want to do lots of canter/walk/canter transitions so that he’s thinking more about the slow transition and not pulling.”

Pippa Funnell: “When riding a different or new horse it is really important to focus it on something easy to help it relax and trust you.”

Franke Sloothaak: “To encourage more activity, try two strides in a forward pace and then return to two strides of the normal working pace. Inside leg equals impulsion.  Outside leg controls the bend.  Use this with walk to canter transitions on a circle. Together with the two strides forward exercise it helps to get the horse thinking forward.”

Pippa Funnell: “What gives us the edge as a good rider? Small margins, staying open-minded and often something as simple as staying hydrated.”

Franke Sloothaak: “The outside rein is the most important. Leg yield from the inside on a circle to get the horse responding and moving forwards.”

Pippa Funnell: “How do we become great horsemen and -women? It’s all about the partnership. A partnership between horse and rider should be like a marriage, it should be about trust, honest, communication and companionship. Break the trust and you will break the confidence between horse and rider. I’m a great believer in empathy and getting inside a horse’s head to work out how they’re thinking. Repeat. Reward. Understand.”

Friday Video: Black Friday — Equestrian Style

Okay, okay, of course the most important part of the holiday season is being with those you love and appreciating what you have — as well as doing and giving what you can for and to those less fortunate. But also, isn’t Black Friday shopping kind of fun

I don’t know about you guys, but my Black Friday so far has consisted of spending my pennies on… my horse. Of course it has. She’s got new rugs, new rug liners, new treats and toys and a whole host of things she probably won’t appreciate even a tiny bit, but man, it was great fun buying it all. Almost as fun as actually doing the bargain hunting is hearing about the great deals other people have snapped up — so please do brag about your shopping wins in the comments so we can all enjoy the fruits of our great labours together. Times are tough right now, so let’s share the deals where we can find them! (Also, if you haven;’t started shopping yet, check out our Holiday Gift Guide and nab yourself something special!)

Thursday Video: William Micklem’s Winter Motivator

We feel exceptionally lucky here at EN to count the legendary horseman William Micklem among our friends, supporters, confidantes and collaborators — and we’re sure we’re not alone in having grown up heavily influenced by his experience. I, for one, had a copy of his Complete Horse Riding Manual that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, was loved so hard that its fur (um, its cover) wore off, and in the years of my childhood when I couldn’t actively ride, it was the thing that almost singlehandedly kept me in a place of positive progress. For that alone, I’ve always been grateful to William — but he’s certainly never stopped giving back to the sport, either in his remit as a Fellow of the British Horse Society, inventor of the Micklem Multibridle, source of horses such as Biko and Custom Made and breeder of Olympic High Kingdom and Mandiba, and much-loved educator.

Now, to add a seriously cool string to his bow, he’s tackled the world of Ted Talks — and his recent talk, The GO! Rules, is essential listening for all of us as we learn to run our own race, compete with ourselves, and strive for that same positive progress every day. If you’re in need of a bit of a jump-start for this off-season, take the time to have a listen to this. It’ll be well worth your time.

Stalwart Five-Star Competitor Reve du Rouet Retires from Eventing

Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It feels like a big month for high-profile retirements, and the latest to hit the airwaves will leave a serious hole in five-star entry lists: at the age of eighteen, Sarah Bullimore‘s odd, wonderful Oldenburg Reve du Rouet (Balou du Rouet x Onassis Queen) has stepped down from the top.

In a recent episode of The Eventing Podcast, Sarah shared the news that she’d made the tough call to retire her stalwart partner, who’s owned by husband Brett and Christopher and Susan Gillespie, from the upper levels of the sport. The decision, she explains, came after she began his fitness work for Burghley this autumn.

“He was aiming for Burghley, and then when we started up his canter work, I thought, ‘he’s just looking his age’,” she explains in the podcast. “We’re not in it to kill him, and he doesn’t need to go and do it — and he didn’t need to go and be an also-ran. If he was going to do it, it would be to go and be competitive.”

Reve du Rouet — or Blou, as he’s known at home — has been a familiar face at five-stars in Britain and beyond since stepping up to the level in 2014 at Kentucky, where he finished in thirteenth place. Since then, he’s amassed an exceptional 18 five-star starts, making him one of the most prolific top level horses around.

Part of that comes down to his extraordinary physical toughness, which comes paired with the unusual, tricky brain that made him as famous as his ability did: “He’s been so tough and sound — I’ll be very, very lucky to find another like him,” says Sarah. “He’s like Ironman. When he was younger he was a little bit tricky, and could have won a lot more things, but his tricky little demons would come out — he’d have a moment in one phase or another. But anytime he went to the vet for a check-up they’d spin him in a circle on the concrete and he’d be long and low and loose. We always joked that if there was a competition for concrete circle trotting, he’d win that hands down!”

Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Blou’s reputation for trickiness came after some high-profile incidents earlier on in his five-star career, in which he bolted in the dressage arena due to a genuine terror of crowds and atmosphere. But as he got older, and gained valuable experience in the tactful hands of his rider, he began to embrace the big day, which earned him impressive scores in hot company.

“He’s a tricky character, but he’s been amazing — I think it’s really sort of thrown me,” says Sarah. “He’s been there at five-star for so long, and he’s eighteen now, so there was always going to come a point — but it’s just weird. He’s been tough and sound and he’s never taken a lame step in his life.  He is tricky in his mind, and keeping his head right; he does take quite a bit of work. Not so much physical work, but just mentally keeping him right and keeping him used to crowds and things like that.”

Though Blou had well and truly overcome his stage fright before the onset of the pandemic, two years away from crowds meant that he found readjusting to them a bit tricky this spring, which resulted in an uncharacteristic dressage score of 34.4 — a score he put to bed in his final international run in the CCI4*-S at Burgham, where he posted a 25.2 for third place.

“Being back at Badminton in the spring was just weird, because of Covid — and that’s what finished him off, really,” says Sarah. “He had two years of not really doing it, and he missed it. That was the funny thing — I’ve always said he’s terrified of crowds, and genuinely, but when he wasn’t going, he missed it. So it was like, ‘okay, you do actually love what you do’, which is great, but then being back at Badminton, because he hadn’t seen those sorts of crowds in two years, it was like being back in 2017 again. He was kind of looking around, and while he was amazing on cross-country, he just doesn’t gallop. He was fabulous with the fences, but he spent so much time looking at the crowds that it feels like you’re galloping backwards.”

Blou’s quirks go further than just the dressage ring: he’s also an oddball to handle, and Sarah has often speculated that he might have a form of equine autism, because he finds minor changes so distressing and had to be taught by another horse — fellow 5* mount Conpierre — how to interact with other horses.

“We genuinely believe he’s autistic, because of the way he has to do things – even things like putting him in his stable,” Sarah told EN back in 2019. “He has to turn a certain way, or he gets confused and upset. It’s all a compromise – I have to keep my promises, and I have to hope that he does, too.”

Sarah Bullimore pilots Reve du Rouet through the last water at Pau. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Throughout his career, Blou earned a number of placings at five-star, taking fourth at Burghley in both 2018 and 2019 and fifth at Luhmühlen in 2019 — but his best result came at an extraordinarily tough Pau in 2017, where much of the field failed to make it past the first quarter of the course. Blou made it look like an easy job — as did both of Sarah’s other rides that day — and ultimately finished second, losing the win to Gwendolen Fer and Romantic Love by a couple of hundredths of a penalty. That, though, felt like a real turning point for the gelding, who stepped into his own golden era from then onward.

For us, he was always great fun to write about – particularly in the many, many form guide entries we penned over the years. Here’s one such description of the gelding, from our Luhmühlen 2019 guide, which we’re prepared to stand by, frankly:

“The consummate heartbreaker, Reve du Rouet is the sort of guy you’d match with on Tinder knowing, even through the brain fog of that third glass of Savvy B, that for better or for worse, this one would change your life. For a while, you’d imagine he’s changing it for the better – he’d show up unannounced with your favourite takeaway, looking sickeningly handsome with his crooked grin and slightly-too-long hair. He’d make you feel like he really got you, and he’d know lines of Pablo Neruda poems by heart, which is either lovely or incredibly cringe-worthy, depending on the sort of person you are. Then, you’d be sure he’s changed your life for the worse when, fuelled by his commitmentphobia and one too many whiskeys, he’d call you a very rude name in a bar and end up snogging some girl you’re pretty sure you sat behind in high school Trigonometry. Eventually, he’d grow up and get over himself and settle down with you, but he’d never quite lose the air of sheepishness for having been such a committed knobhead once upon a time. But you’d love him nonetheless.

That’s Reve du Rouet all over – gorgeous, crazy talented, and sometimes, well, just plain crazy, he’s spent years putting us all on the edge of our seats wondering which side of the Jekyll and Hyde coin we’d be given today. His flightiness is down to a genuine fear of crowds, which has seen his tension boil over dramatically in the past but – dare we say it? – seems to be under control these days. This is largely due to some seriously tactical riding – Sarah sneaks most of his schooling into her hacking and fast work, so he never realises the pressure that’s being put on. As a result, he finished his 2018 season with a first-phase PB at Burghley, posting a 27.3. That beat their previous PB of 28.5, delivered the previous season at Pau, and on both occasions, he backed up his impressive starts: he finished second at Pau by just a tenth of a point and was fourth at Burghley. Sarah, who has compared her partnership with ‘Blou’ to that of a battered wife, will be hoping to go one better than that Pau result from 2017, and she certainly could do.”

Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet at Burghley. Photo by Peter Nixon.

And so what next for the horse who has so reliably captivated fans of the sport?

For right now, the future is a bit of a question mark for Blou, who Sarah feels isn’t quite ready to be totally turned away, but wouldn’t be happy leaving her yard, either.

“He’s here and he’s having a holiday at the moment, and then we need to make a decision about him. I’m not sure dropping down and doing some OIs would really sort of cut it for him, or whether he’d cope with going to a different yard. We don’t think anything of it, because we’ve had him since a three-year-old and we’re used to him — to us, he’s normal, but actually, when you take him out of that, he can’t cope with it. You put him in a different environment, or without us being there, and he doesn’t cope and he stops eating. We’ll sit down with the owners and have a long chat, because he needs something to do — he’s not ready to just stagnate in a field.”

Watch this space: perhaps, somewhere down the line, there’ll be an opportunity for a locally-based young rider to learn the ropes from one of the sport’s strangest, most talented horses. Lucky them!

 

Sport Horse Nation Spotlight: Ponies with PhDs

In the market for a new four-legged partner? You may find your unicorn on our sister site, Sport Horse Nation. To help with the search, we’re going to feature a selection of current listings here on EN. We include the ad copy provided; click the links for videos, pricing and contact information.

I’ve been lucky enough to sit on a lot of different kinds of horses through my career, first as a groom and latterly as a journalist. (You’d be surprised how many horses that gets you legged up onto, actually!) I’ve learned something from all of them, whether they were fresh off the track or being backed for the first time, or whether I was trot-setting five-star horses, taking horses in training out for some remedial hunting, or competing my own horse. But something that’s always a really special, educational moment is getting the chance to ride a horse that knows a hell of a lot more than I do. Often, it’s a great humbler — particularly if you’re sitting on an international horse in front of its usual rider! — but by the time you’ve worked out all the buttons, you’ll know you’ve seriously levelled up, and it’s always so much fun, too. That’s why I’ve been quietly browsing through all the very educated horses currently for sale or lease on Sport Horse Nation and daydreaming about picking up joyriding as a hobby. Let’s start with a real ‘wow’ one, shall we?

⭐️4star Horse⭐️ Ready to win

⭐️Advanced Horse⭐️

#LetitbeLee 14yo 16.2 tb Gelding

Super mover and jumper. Competitive on the flat with scores in the 20’s at the 4star. Simple to ride. I think he would be happiest showing someone the ropes. Would be perfect for a young rider wanting to come up the levels and be competitive. Hilarious personality in the barn. Sound

Most notable placings
2021 Jersey Fresh 4star Long 17th
2021 Terra Nova 4star Short 5th
2022 Tryon International 3star short 2nd (finished on dressage score)

This is a hard decision and only the perfect 5* home considered.

Reddick, FL

TRAINING/MODIFIED PACKER WITH PRELIM MILES

Training/modified level packer for your consideration.

Rain is a 16’2 big bodied homebred TB. This 14 year old guelding has over 5 years of Prelim miles in him and is ready to show an AA or junior the ropes wheither they want to event, stick to jumping or dance in the dressage ring. He’ll gladly take you training/modified, and bring home a ribbon everytime.

He moves beautifully in the sand ring and has a nice soft mouth. Honest as they come in stadium, and always tries his best to get you out of trouble. You could let him autopilot around cross country and he’d be overjoyed. He would be just as happy casually loping around a course, or showing off his engine – whatever you’d like… as long as he gets bananas across the finish line. Not an ounce of “strong” in him. He’s up for anything. Want to go on a hunt? Jump that scary intermediate table? Race against snowmobiles? Hack bareback and bridless? Stay in the crossties for hours and not move a muscle? Go swimming? The answer is yes.

He is a solid citizen. He hacks well – Prefers to stay in a group but will gladly take you out on an adventure on his own if that’s your thing. He clips, bathes, ties, loads like a charm and gets along with mares as well as gueldings (maybe too much of a ladies’ man, lol).

He’s still got lots of miles left, is eager to go out everytime and quite low maintenance considering age/experience. He loves to please and will make his next partner very happy. I love him to pieces, and I have no doubt his next owner will too. He’s captured the hearts of many along the way, and if it wasn’t for graduate school and finances I’d keep this guy for a lifetime.

Serious Inquiries ONLY, please text for more information. 5* home is paramount.

Kingston, ON

About Time Too~ Super Honest and Fancy Training Packer

About Time Too
2009 16.2h Bay Canadian Sport Horse Gelding
By Timebreaker (X Heartbreaker)

Ty is an absolute dream. A Training packer, qualified for a 2*-L. He is simply wonderful to compete, ride, and as honest as they come in all jumping phases. He is also, simply, for sale bc he is not careful enough in SJ at Prelim and higher.

He is easy to SJ and regularly jumps clean at Training and below, so we feel he is best suited to bring another rider up the levels, or give confidence to just about any lower level rider wanting to go as high as modified, competitively. He will certainly go Prelim, but rails would be anticipated.

Sound, ready to go, competing at Training currently, where he is in his element!

Sensible enough to take someone from Starter on up the levels- not hot, or electric in any way, and has a great lead change and rhythm/balance. Fancy on the flat, loves to horse show, a very sad sale that is about placing him in the job he would like best!

Aiken, SC

Experienced packer

16.3 hh TB gelding. Previously competed thru intermediate, most recently ridden by junior who won at training level. He’s pretty fancy on the flat and I’ve also won at 2nd level dressage. He’s pretty powerful, but very well schooled. Currently still owned by his breeders, they’re quite attached to him so a great home is paramount!

Cochranville, PA

Upper Level Horse, Looking for Step-Down.

DGE Themanintheglass

2007 15.2 hand chunk. Riley has been my partner since his 6-year-old year, and has competed for many, many years at the upper levels. He proved to be one of the most fantastic jumping horses, and tremendously helped cultivate and refine my skills at the upper levels. He is incredibly well-trained, although does have a Napoleon complex where he believes we are all peasants living in his world. If not in a consistent program, he can spook.. although he is quite good about knowing “who” is on his back. For example, when I teach beginner/intermediate lessons on him he barely canters, and then when a more advanced rider gets on him he can throw a random lead change in if you aren’t riding the counter-canter correctly.

He is sold 3rd-level dressage with changes, although they are not “show-ready” right now.

With his experience, comes wear and tear on his body. He has had joint injections, has kissing spine which hasn’t been an issue with correct riding and maintenance and has rehabbed a suspensory this year. All veterinary history is happy to be disclosed and discussed.

I’m looking for the “next step” in Riley’s step down from the UL. He is currently being used in lessons but prefers having one rider. I would like to find him a home where he can compete at the training level and below, and flourish as a professor. I imagine he would be a phenomenal horse for a strong D3/C level rider to learn from.

If he sticks around, I’ll be using him for my bronze medal scores. I have no problem keeping him, but I acknowledge that his skills would be valued elsewhere while I work with the next generation of horses.

Lots of videos are available, price is reflective of wanting a perfect home and knowing his veterinary history. 20k, available at Sykesville, MD.

Videos of competing:
Dressage youtu.be/tvHnIxq8ZfM
Jumping youtu.be/aEZ_J7RnSSw

And I do have videos of him with more beginner students as well, but they are on my phone and I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to upload them here.

Sykesville, MD

Seasoned Event Horse with 2* Mileage

ChitChat

2009, Irish Sport Horse Mare
(Master Imp x Shanbo Happisfied)

ChitChat is a lovely mare and has been professionally produced to give a great feel in all rings. She is incredibly kind, genuine, bold and straight forward with a snaffle mouth, and goes happily forward and is light off the leg. You can take a day off and get on the next day and have the same horse, day in and day out. She is balanced and correct over fences, with an easy rhythm and has never had a XC jump fault since being imported! Has competed through the 2* level and would be great for someone looking for a been there done that horse to help you get more experience.

Located in Aiken, SC
Priced at $45,000

2* Packer and Hunter Winner – Do it all in style!

Absolute gem of a horse searching for her next partner. Lily can-do quite literally anything you’d like. Horses like this don’t come along often. Lily is a homebred of Emily Beshear’s, and has been developed within her program. She has been competitive through the two star level in eventing, but is also completely happy to tone it down and win the 3 foot division and hack in good company at the next hunter show. Could easily just do dressage with scores regularly in the 20’s, or straight jumpers with her handiness and technique over fences. The sweetest temperament and very well trained, Lily tries hard to please in everything she does and always brings a smile to your face. Lily is the perfect age and size – 8 years old, 15.3 hh with a broad barrel that takes up your leg. Lily is a homebred Thoroughbred cross by Tavistock. Full set of radiographs available.

Somerset, VA

Lovely, Kind Low Level Packer

FGF One Last Chance aka “Chauncey” is an 8 year old 16 hand OTTB Gelding with a heart of gold. Has been competing Novice with his amateur owner in South Carolina and Georgia for the last few years and since coming to Colorado in July 2022 had a competitive 6th place finish at Novice up at Rebecca Farms and made the move up to Training with a double clear cross country in August. Super scopey, kind, will jump anything you point him at. We believe he would excel as a Novice and below packer but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with the height in the ring! All the scope is there. Gets along with any horse, doesn’t have to be ridden everyday, perfect at the trailer (in or out) all day long, and goes in a rubber D-ring. We ADORE this horse and will happily keep him in our program until the perfect match comes along. Only being sold as owner is currently no longer riding. Offers considered for an easy sale and to the perfect home. Good hock/back/stifle X-rays available from late July/early August.

Fort Collins, CO

Advanced/3* winner lease

Available for an on site lease in Northern Virginia, Olney Uncle Sam is a winner all the way through the levels. At 15 he is ready to show someone the ropes. He has consistently scored in the 20s in the dressage. Super fun nippy type horse cross country and reliable show jumper. Kick ride, snaffle in all 3 phases.

Lovettsville, VA

Tuesday News & Notes from Ocala Horse Properties

Anna-Katharina Vogel and DSP Quintana P at Pau – the last event on this journalist’s calendar for 2022 and one she’s very thankful for indeed. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means I — your loyal British and European correspondent — am taking the reins at EN this week to give the team in the US a chance to unwind, head home, and eat a lot of food. (Eat some for me, guys!) As a Brit, Thanksgiving isn’t really something that factors into my calendar, and I mostly hold a melee of opinions about the whole sorry state of affairs that kickstarted it — but I do love the idea of making space for gratitude, which is something that we’re all guilty of running out of time for in our hectic day-to-day lives.

This week, I want to try to slow everything I do down a bit and take the time to really savour the moment and the people and places who are part of it all. I’m grateful for the chance to spend time with a horse who’s changed my life for the better; I’m grateful for a job that gives me the chance to travel the world and daydream about ponies all day long; I’m grateful for a partner and friends who are more like a big extended family. Mostly, though, I’m grateful to everyone who posts photos of their Thanksgiving dinner so I can engage in a savage, wine-fuelled judge-a-thon over how you all season your meat. Happy holidays, folks — if you need me, I’ll be dragging my non-horsey boyfriend out to the field to feed my nag a selection box of root vegetables.

Events Closing This Week: Full Gallop Farm Jingle Bells H.T

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

Piggy March is reflecting on the season – and the sport – in her latest column for Horse&Hound. In it, she suggests different ways riders can contribute to progressing the sport — from helping one another out to getting involved in tough decisions. Plus, she praises the ‘old school’ event horse and laments the loss of some of Britain’s most useful Advanced runs. [A particularly good Piggy dispatch]

As we head into winter, we’re all cautious about the spread of EHV and EIV. But you can offer yourself considerable peace of mind by introducing sensible biosecurity measures into your barn — and ones that can take to the road with you while you’re competing, too. [Keep those ponies safe]

I’m all about a good pump-up song. I actively have to listen to ‘Church’ by T-Pain before I go cross-country, or in the car on the way to report on a five-star cross-country day, or I feel like I’ve missed something hugely important from my to-do list, which results in me getting a doomy feeling that sets the tone for the rest of the day. But as Daniel Stewart explains, there’s actually a really sound psychological basis for the use of an ‘athletic anthem’ to put you in the right headspace to compete. [Honestly, though, listen to Church]

Finally, the ‘social license’ dilemma has been put to a survey. Turns out we’re really not very popular. [The numbers suck, but we need to know them to improve]

The OHP Dream Farm of the Week:

Where do I even begin with this utterly delicious spot? The spacious, beautifully maintained arena? The generous 21 acres of space? The pool of actual dreams? The classy, cozy interiors? I love this place.

Listen to This: Want to get yourself prepared for the USEA Convention? The latest episode of the US Eventing podcast dives into what’s on the agenda and why you should be there, with Rob Burk and Max Corcoran.

Watch This: Ever fancied giving team chasing a go? British amateur eventer Lucy Robinson took to the fields and hedges — and she’s shared the rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions that happens while out there in the mud!

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

The Wesko Equestrian Foundation, which provides a comprehensive education in becoming a professional eventers to a hand-picked group of young riders each year, just returned from the trip of a lifetime to France, where they got to ride with the Cadre Noir, Franke Sloothak, and their mentor, Pippa Funnell. I’m envious beyond words but have been enjoying living vicariously through the gang on social media — and now you can, too.

National Holiday: It’s Odd Socks Day! Frankly, I celebrate this year ’round. Where does the other sock go in the washing machine?

US Weekend Action:

Ram Tap H.T. (Fresno, CA): [Website] [Results]

SAzEA Fall H.T. (Tucson, AZ): [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

Le Pouget CCI4*-S (Montpellier, France): [Website] [Results]

Your Monday Reading List:

Have you background-checked your practitioner? Okay, so you don’t have to do a full deep-dive — but if you’ve hired someone, for example an osteopath or massage therapist, to work on your horse, are you confident that they’ve been properly trained and qualified for the job at hand? The spread of unqualified, unregistered paraprofessionals in the UK has become so significant that experts are speaking out about it — finally. [Protect your horse; check your professional]

Ahh, blanketing season. I know I’m not alone in second-guessing my decision every time I throw a rug over my horse for the night, even this year, when I’m leaving her unclipped until the new year. Too hot? Too cold? Is there, god forbid, a leak in the outer layer? Ease your winter wear stress with this funny throwback from COTH. [The blanket clause]

Showjumping fans, this one’s for you: Martin Fuch’s extraordinary Clooney 51 will be officially retired in a ceremony at Switzerland’s CHI Geneva next month. If, like me, you followed the dramatic, sad saga of his return from Tokyo and subsequent injury in the field just days later, which nearly ended the special gelding’s life, you, too, will be watching this with tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat. [Farewell to Clooney]

The OTTB lovers among us know that there’s something extra special in retraining an ex-racehorse. Whether it’s their endearing personalities, their enviable athleticism, or the little bit of extra something-something that comes from having been the purveyor of a second chance, it’s always a memorable experience that changes you as a horseman. [Thoroughbred fans, unite]

The FutureTrack Follow:

I love these folksy, Yves Klein-esque horse paintings by Maggie Robertson, whose work I’ll be gobbling up once I make my millions from *checks notes* writing about eventing for a living. Gorgeous.

Morning Viewing:

Ever fancied watching a reality TV competition show — for horse people? The LeMieux All Star Academy is back on Horse&Country TV, and it’s just that. Check out the first episode of season four:

Saturday Video: Meet the Olympic Gold Medallist – from 1920!

This video isn’t even two minutes long, but throughout the course of watching it, I think I said “oh my god” about forty times, which always bodes well, doesn’t it? Enjoy this compilation of clips from the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, wherein Sweden’s Helmer Mörner took both individual and team gold in the eventing. This was just the second time the sport had been included in the Olympics: its official introduction came in 1912 in Stockholm, but the 1916 Berlin Olympics were cancelled as war raged through Europe.

In these early years, Sweden was the dominant superpower in the then-military sport, which had a very different look and feel to the sport as we know it today. Safety devices? Nonexistent — they didn’t even wear helmets at this point. Roping on cross-country courses? Nope — you could plunge through a copse of trees and straight into the close-quartered crowd, adding an extra element of chaos to proceedings. Take-off and landing maintenance? Don’t be silly: you jumped the ground as you found it, even if that meant leaping up or down a decaying near-vertical slope. The showjumping was interesting too, as you’ll see in this clip — one fence was to be jumped both ways, with a stopping point just beyond the landing side to pull up, turn, and then jump again from. Bonkers, but the basis for what could be a useful training exercise at home, we reckon.

“Wee Pocket Rocket” 5* Thoroughbred Passes Away at Age 25

Andrew Hoy and Algebra. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tributes have been paid to diminutive Thoroughbred Algebra (Azzaam x Sand Dollar, sire unrecorded) following his passing on Tuesday at the farm of owner John Glenn and Julia McLean. The gelding enjoyed an exciting career and achieved global stardom after joining Andrew Hoy‘s string in 2015, promptly winning the CCI4*-L at Montelibretti and going on to take Haras du Pin CCI4*-L that summer. He went on compete through his nineteen-year-old season, ultimately retiring on his 20th birthday in 2017.

“The 15th November has been a memorable date — it was “Mr Pocket Rocket’s” birthday and his ‘retirement party’ date at the age of 20,” writes Andrew in a touching post on his social media. “The 15th November 2022 — on his 25th Birthday — is where the journey ended and he passed away at John & Julia’s beautiful farm — where he has been bossing around the young horses right until the end!”

Nat Blundell & Algebra, moved into 2nd place after XC

Nat Blundell & Algebra.

Andrew took the reins after Algebra had already enjoyed a successful, vibrant career with student Natalie Blundell, who produced him through to five-star level. Their debut at the level would come at Adelaide in 2010, where they finished eighth. They followed that up with a fourth place finish in 2011 and second place in 2012, following a campaign for Olympic selection. Though their Badminton debut in 2014 was cut short by a horse fall across the country, they rerouted to Luhmühlen the next month and were thirteenth in a hot field. After a non-completion at Burghley that autumn, Andrew took over the ride, and after a trip to Luhmühlen in 2015, focused on campaigning the horse at the four-star level.

“He certainly was the most special character and I have so much to thank him for — we had an amazing time together and some pretty remarkable results. I was so lucky to take over the reins from my most wonderful student Natalie Blundell at the end of 2014 — she produced him all the way from Grassroots to 5* level.”

 

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“2015 was ‘our year’ — with winning the CCI4*-L at Montelibretti and also the CCI4*-L at Haras du Pin,” he continues. “Steffi and I had arranged to catch up with John & Julia, now proud owners of our beautiful girl Byebye Brisquenouille on Tuesday, the 15th, this week — so it was somehow fitting that we could be there to raise a glass with them and share memories of this most amazing little horse, that has touched all our hearts and given all of us the most wonderful experiences and memories. THANK YOU, SAM. You will always keep a very special place in my heart.”

John and Julia also posted their own tribute on Instagram: “With great sadness we advise the passing of the wee pocket rocket Algebra. What a life we had with him! An individual to the end. Sam always did things the way he wanted to — in a terribly polite way of course. He was always very very polite and mannerly on the ground. Destined for the jumps racing in Victoria, I bought [him] because he was pretty but he turned out to be a bit tricky for me! Better riders took him over as in Lizzy McRoberts, Natalie Blundell and then Andrew Hoy and the rest is legend.”

The poignant post continues: “So much joy, so much pride…thank you to everyone who participated along the way — I’d name them but I’d miss someone and then I’d be in trouble — I know who you are — the grooms, the cool down crews taking time from doing your own horses, the people that drove him places, those that participated in his London campaign and contributed $10 every week to support Natalie in her quest for Olympic selection — just so wonderful how much you were all so supportive and inspired. Thank you for such a special once in a life time experience.”

Friday Video: Boyd’s Helmet Cam Debut

What a time to be alive! Boyd Martin has joined the hatcam crew, and that means we get a real ‘backstage’ insight into what it’s like to be the big man on a day out at a competition. Join him for a spin around Tryon with Contessa, including a near miss at the final fence, because hat cams are the real humblers, aren’t they? We can’t wait to see what Boyd documents next: meditations with Guru Rubee? His spin around the Sweden International Horse Show indoor eventing next week? Wacky races with Nox and Leo? We’ll patiently wait for the suggestion box to open.

Star-Studded Field To Take on Sweden’s Indoor Eventing Class

Boyd Martin will take on this year’s indoor cross-country class at the Sweden Horse Show. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Indoor cross-country season continues on apace, and the next big one on our radar is Stockholm’s Sweden International Horse Show, which takes place next week at the Friends Arena. Thursday the 24th of November is cross-country day, and this year, this fast and furious class has been tailored to exhibit some of the best and fiercest competitors in eventing.

The ten-strong line-up has been designed to act as a showcase of the sport, with a number of the world’s best riders invited to take part, including individual Olympic gold medallist Julia Krajewski and World Number One Tim Price. Seven countries in total are represented in the line-up, which features a strong US shout in the form of Boyd Martin, while home crowds will also be delighted to cheer on World Championships team riders Frida AndersenAminda Ingulfsson, and Sofia Sjoborg, who helped their nation to an Olympic qualifying result at Pratoni this year.

The full line-up is as follows:

Boyd Martin — USA
Oliver Townend — GBR
Tim Price — NZL
Julia Krajewski — GER
Anna Siemer — GER
Maxime Livio — FRA
Cathal Daniels — IRL
Frida Andersén — SWE
Aminda Ingulfsson — SWE
Sofia Sjöborg — SWE

No word has been released yet on which horses the entrants will ride, though a number of them will likely pick up catch rides for the show. You can still get your hands on tickets to the Sweden International Horse Show here, which we’d highly recommend for a very jolly, very horsey few days away, or you can tune in via Horse&Country TV to stream the action from afar. We’ll be bringing you all the news of our friends’ adventures in Scandinavia, so keep it locked on EN, and Go Eventing (inside)!

Friday News & Notes from Zoetis

How cool is this fence at France’s Le Pouget? I love the French commitment to making cross-country courses a work of art, rather than just function. Pierre le Goupil, Le Pouget’s designer, is also the course designer for the 2024 Paris Olympics, so I’m particularly excited to follow along with the competition this week from afar.

US Weekend Preview:

Ram Tap H.T. (Fresno, CA): [Website] [Entries/Ride Times/Scoring]

SAzEA Fall H.T. (Tucson, AZ): [Website] [Entries/Ride Times]

Major International Events:

Le Pouget CCI4*-S (Montpellier, France): [Website] [Timetable] [Entry Lists] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

Taupo CCI4*-S (New Zealand): [Website] [Schedule]

News From Around the Globe:

Do you insure your horses? While insurance policies are common practice over here in the UK, they’re not as prevalent in the US — but they can really save your bacon if your horse suffers an expensive injury or becomes ill. That’s what Helen Alliston discovered when her four-star horse, Ebay, sustained some hidden injuries in a rotational fall, but with the help of her insurance brokers, she’s been able to give him everything he needs to come right again. [And then he went on to win the Advanced Final at the AEC!]

Goodbye to Westwood Mariner, who finished fourteenth at Burghley with Piggy March and went on to become a young rider’s dream horse. Throughout his career, ‘Rooney’ had a number of star riders on his back, including Polly Stockton, Izzy Taylor, and Ruth Edge, but it’s his last rider, Ella Woodhead, who is sharing her memories of the horse who changed her life. [We all need a Rooney]

Just in case you were starting to miss PCR testing, it’s back! But not quite in the way you’re used to. Instead, the tests will be used at Thermal and Wellington’s showgrounds to prevent outbreaks of EHV-1, which has swept through winter show circuits over the last two seasons and can have a devastating effect on the equine community. [Here’s how it works]

If you attended Kentucky this spring, you might have been inspired by the extraordinary para-showjumping demo that took place. One of the riders involved was Lily Rhodes, who lost an arm in an ATV accident as a teenager but hasn’t let it slow her down one bit. [Read her story here]

Watch this:

20-year-old Alice Casburn is one of our favourite riders here at EN, because her story is so pony novel: this year, she completed her third CCI5*, taking fifth at Burghley (and become the Young Rider European bronze medallist a few weeks prior!) with Topspin, a horse her mother bred after competing his dam and granddam at the upper levels. He still lives in the stable he was born in, and the pair began eventing together just a few years ago. She’s also just a gem of a person, and you can get to know her a bit more in this video from the FEI, who crowned her the Longines Rising Star of 2022 last week.

Thursday Video: A Mustang Tackles Beginner Novice

We share a lot of upper-level helmet cams on EN, but if I’m honest, my favourite videos are the ones at the lower levels: the greener horses, the riders I relate to, the fence-by-fence learning process and joy and fear and excitement and sheer accomplishment of the thing. This video, which features Sam van Fleet and one of her cast of Mustangs, Wild Card, as they tackle a Beginner Novice course, ticks all my boxes — and makes me want a wild horse of my own. What a cutie!