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The Luhmühlen Tour Diaries, Part Two: The One With the Border Police Kerfuffle

Getting to a CCI5* is always an enormous undertaking — but never more so than in a pandemic year. Our own Tilly Berendt is on the road to Luhmühlen with Great Britain’s Mollie Summerland and her horse Charly van ter Heiden – and she’s documenting the whole journey as it happens. Welcome to part two: in which the girls risk it all for a trucker’s breakfast. 

Part One: The Long, Hard Road out of Plague Island

An early start in Surrey, but Charly is always happy for an outing. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“The UK Border Force have identified an issue with your transit movement. Please report to the front office for further details.”

The scene: 9.00 a.m. in the maze of Dover’s port. The weather was that uninspiring combination of heavily overcast and deeply, deeply muggy, and I suddenly had a sweat on that rivalled a five-star horse at the end of cross-country. We’d successfully managed a 5.00 a.m. wake-up call (for me, not for Mollie – I’d left a slew of freshly-washed knickers outside overnight in the hope that they’d dry in time for me to finish my packing before we left, and so my early morning routine involved groggily scooping up a bunch of damp undergarments and hating myself), had coaxed Charly up from the sweetest of dreams in his deep straw bed, had squeezed in a much-needed coffee break, and had found our way to the offices of John Parker International, the incredible shipping agents who had organised our passage across the English Channel. They’d also taken control of the carnet, an in-depth itemisation of the items on board the lorry, which sounds like it should be a single sheet of paper but is actually a weighty, formidable tome that would be inspected twice over in the course of our journey. It looked terrifying, and I was sure it could smell my fear. Now, we’d taken the carnet to the Motis Freight Clearance depot, a place that looked a bit like a trucking version of the elephant graveyard in The Lion King, but with more seagulls and a bathroom so revolting that I was sure I’d found the origin of the coronavirus.

Motis: where dreams go to die. Good place to go husband-shopping though, I guess. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The job in hand? Deliver the carnet to the Motis agents, who would inspect it and effectively run us through customs. There was a small chance they’d want to actually see every item on the list, which would have required us to unload Charly and somehow locate everything we’d squirreled away while playing lorry Tetris the night before. This felt like the sort of job I’d only be able to manage after two more coffees, and so I gamely put on my best ‘sweet, simple horse girl’ face, chucked on a Team GB jacket for good measure, and shouldered my way through the queue of burly men and their bleary-eyed come-ons, as advised by Jenna, shipping agent and hero of the universe.

“You’ll be able to jump queues if they know you have an animal on board,” she’d told me the day prior, when I’d phoned her to ask her to go through my own checklist with me and explain the whole process as though I was a bit slow.

I took her at her word.

“I have a horse!” I bellowed, documents held aloft as though they’d get me access to a lifeboat on the Titanic. The Dover trafficking ring kindly parted to let me through, and I was relieved of the most boring book I’ve ever seen and told to wait in the lorry. In thirty minutes or so, they told me, I would get a text to come collect the signed-off paperwork – as long as it was all correct. Bumcheeks firmly clenched in fear, I tottered back to the truck.

And then the text came, just 15 minutes later, shrill and shouty and frightening.

“Oh wow, are they done already?” asked Mollie, looking mildly interested. I glanced at the screen, forced a fake smile, and confirmed.

“Yep, looks like it,” I said, sticking firmly to my weeklong ethos that the less the rider knows about how precarious the whole plan is, and the less involvement they have generally, the better. Grinning manically, I headed back into the office, absolutely certain that I was about to discover that the Border Police had discovered a hidden meth lab in our bathroom, or something. Was I about to go to prison for a very, very long time? Or, more likely, were we about to be sent on the long road back home?

As it turns out, these pesky Border Police just quite enjoy watching horse girls squirm early in the morning. There wasn’t actually a problem with the carnet; instead, all they needed was for me to confirm that every item on the list was, in fact, present and accounted for, and sign my life away accordingly. I’d have been livid, really, if the chap in uniform wasn’t so dishy in a kind of 90s boyband way. It’s very hard to be frightened of a man with better eyebrows than me, even when you’re responsible for what was starting to feel like the heist of the century.

Grand Theft Auto: Australian-chasing style. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

And so we headed on to the port itself, my bum slowly unclenching and our route made easier by a familiar sight: the enormous visage of Australian eventer Andrew Hoy splashed across the sides of his colossal new lorry. We began utilising a system that would serve us well through the day: follow Andrew, and ignore the fact that he probably glimpsed us in his wing mirrors and thought that the local Pony Club was stalking him across the sea.

At this point, I definitely thought we were over the worst of the hurdles; after all, all we had to do now was get through check-in, fight our way onto a ferry, and then go in search of bacon. Somehow, though, checking in ended up being the most difficult bit – not because they wanted to see all our various letters of exemption, nor our negative COVID test results (neither of which they ever actually asked for), but because they didn’t seem to actually remember what they were there to do. The conversation went something like this:

[FADE IN — EXT: CHECK-IN BOOTH]

TILLY BERENDT, 29, plasters on her forty-seventh beaming, manic smile of the morning.

MANIC TILLY

Hello! Hi! How are you!

In the booth, A DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON, 40s, eyes the idling lorry beadily.

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON

What do you want?

MANIC TILLY

[Visibly confused] To…check in for our ferry?

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON’s eyebrows raise so high they nearly disappear into her hair. She says nothing.

MANIC TILLY

We have…a booking? From John Parker International?

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON says nothing, with some added fervour.

MANIC TILLY

For the 11.40 P&O ferry?!

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON looks disapproving.

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON

Passports.

MANIC TILLY unsheaths a pair of passports from her BIG BINDER OF PAPERWORK, a sickeningly vibrant lime green one that will ostensibly be harder to lose than a less hideous one might have been. DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON takes a perfunctory look at them, puts them on her desk, and returns to staring at MANIC TILLY.

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON

What do you want now?

MANIC TILLY

…To…go…to the ferry…? Do I need to give you further documentation?

There is a pregnant pause. DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON’s eyebrow muscles appear to be under some strain. She turns to mutter — disinterestedly — to her colleague. Her job appears to be done.

MANIC TILLY

Can we…get our passports back?

DISINTERESTED CHECK-IN PERSON hands them back — eventually — and waves the lorry along, while MANIC TILLY and TRUCKER MOLLIE wonder how on earth they’ve managed to get the full French customer service experience before even crossing a border.

[END SCENE]

As it turns out, all the barriers we had to go through were designed for much larger lorries. Here, Mollie makes a great effort of attempting to insert a parking ticket. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Fortunately, check-in point number two was considerably more helpful, and we even managed to get bumped up to an earlier ferry – a welcome prospect, both in terms of getting to breakfast sooner, and also because we’d be more likely to make our customs and vet inspection appointments on the other side.

And then we were on board, and finally, for the first time in the whole convoluted process, I felt like I could let myself comprehend the huge adventure we were actually embarking on. Ten days based with one of the best eventers in the world, with a few more exciting horses (and their people) joining us there, and then on to one of my absolute favourite events and a second run at the level for Mollie and Charly, who were tenth and utterly excellent at their first at Pau last year. It was time to celebrate in the best way that eventing folks know how: with a 2,000 calorie breakfast and for me, a completely indulgent morning beer to mark the start of the ultimate working holiday.

WE’RE THE KINGS OF THE WORLD. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We opened our little lorry up to allow a fresh-faced Charly to size up his fellow freight on board the ferry, offered up drinks, snacks, and plenty of cuddles, and then headed into the lion’s den: a boat full of middle-aged, hungry-eyed professional truckers murmuring lascivious suggestions under their breath in a variety of languages. To toughen up our appearances, we did the right and natural thing: we headed straight to duty-free to buy ourselves a large stuffed unicorn to act as our lucky mascot for the week.

They say you can find strength in numbers, and between the three of us – Mollie, a stuffed unicorn called Sprinkles, and I – we survived being the only women on a weird, horny ferry. We were in France. It was all actually happening – and all we had to do was play one final game of Follow the Hoy Boy to find our way through the last customs and vet inspection stops.

Charly doesn’t mind long waits at customs. In fact, Charly doesn’t mind much of anything – as long as there are schnacks. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

No, seriously. You cannot underestimate the importance of the schnacks, nor the sunny positivity of this cool horse. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

This was the bit that I felt like a lifetime of being really bad at languages had prepared me for. I’d spent a hectic week before Houghton frantically squeezing in Rosetta Stone German lessons to ready myself for dealing with the German border police; consequently, I was absolutely fired up and ready to tell them that the man is smelling the milk, the rice tastes bad, and that we have twelve plates — all very helpful stuff. Here, despite having actually lived in Paris for six months a few years ago, I had just one trump card to play: I could fire out a sharp “arrêtez de me toucher ou j’exterminerai vos testicules.” I hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.

Charly van ter Heiden: the chief attracter of weird men. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In the end, no Frenchman nor his testicules crossed my path. Instead, Mollie, Charly and I waited with our unicorn. And we waited. And we waited some more. Then we met a nice (?) man who appeared out of nowhere in the customs carpark and circled our lorry as though inspecting it a few times, before standing approximately a foot from Charly’s curious little face and smiling benignly at both of us while I tried not to make it obvious that I’d moved to physically guard the horse from the wandering man. (Will men ever realise that invading people’s space is not cute, or fun, or anything other than unnerving for anyone? Probably not. Testicules everywhere, beware.)

“Ooh, a gas station, my favourite!” Photo by Tilly Berendt.

And then, despite the achingly long wait, it was all over. We were given our paperwork back and welcomed into France. Finally, for the first time in a week, my solidly-clenched bum muscles could relax, and we could settle in for the important stuff: arguing over what constituted an ‘old school’ playlist (according to the 23-year-old, this is anything released prior to 2017), locating the best possible stop for a graze and some waffles, and putting the entire eventing world through a ruthless game of Shag, Marry, Kill. It was road trip time – for real now.

Alexa, play “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials: Website, Entries, Live Scoring, LivestreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

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This Week in Livestreams: Watch Bicton International on H&C TV!

Emily King gets cozy with the Bramham under-25 CCI4*-L trophy in 2018. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We might not have a Bramham to look forward to this year, but thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Helen West and her team at Devon’s Bicton Arena, we’ll still be able to see those hugely important CCI4*-L, CCI4*-L for under-25s, and CCI4*-S classes play out this week – and boy, oh boy, are the entry lists seriously hot.

The CCI4*-S class acts as a selection trial for the British team Olympic longlist, Ben Hobday and Shadow Man II and Sarah Bullimore and Corouet, who are listed as reserves, will run in the CCI4*-L. Other notable combinations in the CCI4*-L include 2019 Badminton winners Piggy French and Vanir KamiraLaura Collett and Mr BassSarah Bullimore and her super-consistent five-star mount Reve du RouetEmilie Chandler and her CCI4*-L winner Gortfadda DiamondKitty King and the Burnham Market CCI4*-S winner Cristal Fontaine, and Imogen Murray and her seasoned campaigner Ivar Gooden.

The CCI4*-S class isn’t just about those longlisted British team riders – they’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Andrew Nicholson‘s Swallow Springs, who was third at Burghley in 2018 and fifth at Badminton in 2019, Piggy March‘s Brookfield Inocent, second at Pau last year, Laura Collett‘s Pau winner London 52Tom McEwen‘s 2018 Pau winner Toledo de Kerser, World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar BChris Burton‘s Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old winner Clever Louis, two-time Kentucky winners Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, European bronze medallists Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua, and Kevin McNab and his Kentucky sixth-placed Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam.

The final podium in Bramham’s 2019 CCIU254*-L: Yasmin Ingham, second, Cathal Daniels, first, and Will Rawlin, third. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We’ll be looking at one of the hottest under-25 CCI4*-L sections we’ve ever seen as well, with reigning champion Cathal Daniels returning to fight for his throne with Sammy Davis Junior. Heading the home challenge is British under-25 champion Yasmin Ingham, who brings forward three rides in Night Line, Banzai du Loir, and Rehy DJ, while the on-form Bubby Upton rides Cola III and Cannavaro. Ireland’s Susie Berry has two rides in the class in John the Bull and Ringwood LB, and Felicity Collins brings forward her five-star ride – and the winner of last week’s Advanced at Little Downham – RSH Contend Or. France’s Barbara Sayous has made the long and tricky journey with Opposition Filmstar, marking a strong effort from the talented daughter of Pau organiser Pascal.

You can take a look at the full entry list here, and you’ll be able to watch every phase – including Wednesday and Sunday’s horse inspections – via Horse&Country TV. The broadcast schedules are as follows:

Wednesday

First horse inspection: 13.30 BST/8.30 a.m. EST

Dressage: 13.30 BST/8.30 a.m. EST

Thursday

Dressage stream one: 9.30 BST/4.30 a.m. EST

Dressage stream two: 10.45 BST/5.45 a.m. EST

Friday

Dressage stream one: 9.30 BST/4.30 a.m. EST

Dressage stream two: 10.45 BST/5.45 a.m. EST

Saturday

CCI4*-L Cross-Country: 9.00 BST/4.00 a.m. EST

CCI4*-S Showjumping: 10.00 BST/5.00 a.m. EST

Sunday

CCI4*-S Cross-Country: 10.00 BST/5.00 a.m. EST

CCI4*-L Showjumping: 10.00 BST/5.00 a.m. EST

We’ll be bringing you reports through the week on EN – roll on Bicton!

The Luhmühlen Tour Diaries, Part One: The Long, Hard Road out of Plague Island

Getting to a CCI5* is always an enormous undertaking — but never more so than in a pandemic year. Our own Tilly Berendt is on the road to Luhmühlen with Great Britain’s Mollie Summerland and her horse Charly van ter Heiden – and she’s documenting the whole journey as it happens. Welcome to part one: in which one frazzled journalist ages forty years in four days. 

Daydreaming about a Luhmühlen before social distancing. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s no secret that the road to Luhmühlen’s CCI5* and CCI4*-S has been a trickier one than normal for many riders this year. When the entry list was first released on the 19th of May, it was jam-packed with over 70 combinations coming forward for the five-star, which will be the first of the 2021 European season. Because of Luhmühlen’s early summer position in the calendar, we don’t tend to see fields of that size in this class; by this point, many prominent horses will have run at Badminton, or will be aiming for a summer championship, and so the prospect of a huge entry list created considerable buzz.

But shortly after those entries went live, Germany announced that it was tightening its restrictions on UK travellers, due to an outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the north of England. This, in combination with an EU-wide ban on entry from countries outside the EU and Schengen Area, looked very much like a firmly-closed door indeed. For the 42 British entries on that hefty list – plus, of course, the smattering of British-based riders representing other nations – there was a very big question mark hovering over their June plans. Now, ultimately, we head into the CCI5* with just 28 entries.

My own journey to Luhmühlen as a journalist was always pretty well set in stone, even if the actual logistics were ever-changing. Last week, shortly after the travel ban was announced, I headed to Norfolk to cover the Houghton International CCIO4*-S, which incorporated the FEI Nations Cup and, most importantly, gave me ample opportunities to badger Team GB’s Performance Manager, Dickie Waygood, about his interpretation of the wildly confusing legalese surrounding the ban. Even more importantly than that, we were both in contact with the wonderful team at Luhmühlen, who worked around the clock to try to secure a ‘sport bubble’ on site, which would effectively mean that entrants would quarantine at the venue. Ultimately, though, we found out on Friday that no such bubble would be possible, and those hoping to travel to Germany from the UK had two options: arrive 14 days early and self-isolate before the competition began, or make a new plan for their season.

Well – not quite two options. Though that pesky EU ban was in effect across the continent, not every country had closed their doors quite so firmly to inbound travellers from the UK. All it took was approximately 487 hours of combing through the various government websites, liberally abusing Google Translate, parsing together plenty of international phone calls using a combination of pidgin languages, and a healthy dose of that unique kind of sweaty, stressy adrenaline to find a couple of countries that would both allow UK travellers to enter (if they had one of a few kinds of documented exemption) and, crucially, from which travellers into Germany were welcomed sans quarantine after a certain period of time.

This is an angle I like to call “I’m on the ground trying to read the German consulate’s website, and I’m going to make the very best of it.” Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Now, it’s important to note here that all of this frantic scrolling and research wasn’t just squeezed in alongside reporting on a four-star – it was also being undertaken while in the most comprehensive dead-zone in all of England. I’m not convinced that Norfolk has invented 4G yet – they’re still stuck somewhere around the 1G threshold, I reckon – and so I was most often found hunched over by one of the arenas, quietly swearing at my phone and occasionally waving it in the air like a drunk divorcee at an Adele concert. My grand plan at that point? Figure out a way to get to Ireland, stay there for ten days, and then somehow get to Germany. My great nemesis? The fact that many flight routes around Europe have been temporarily halted, which made finding a direct flight increasingly tricky – and I couldn’t risk even the shortest layover in another country, which would likely have ruined all my careful planning and plonked me straight back into quarantine. In short, life had become the most high-stakes, low-entertainment version of Snakes and Ladders that I’d ever played.

By the time Saturday evening rolled around, I’d decided to take a break from bashing my own brain into increasingly stupid smithereens, and instead headed over to chat to the lovely folks at the Event Horse Owners’ Syndicate, a super initiative that allows people to ‘buy in’ to an event horse with a high-profile rider for a tiny one-off payment with a tonne of excellent rewards. I had scheduled in an interview with the team – and with Emily King, one of their sponsored riders – and quickly discovered that I was walking into one of my favourite working environments. By that I mean they had wine, and plenty of it, and they really, really liked sharing.

Act Two: in which Mollie Summerland enters the story. Pictured here at Pau in her first CCI5*, in which she finished tenth. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Anyone who knows me, even just in passing, knows that I am desperately, appallingly, embarrassingly bad at remembering to use suncream. Every year, without fail, I burn myself to a crisp at an event, shed all my skin like a sad little lizard woman, and emerge anew, no wiser for my experiences but always in possession of the kind of farmer’s tan that renders me fundamentally unshaggable for the rest of the year. This year, Houghton was that event. Have you ever tried quaffing a crisp glass of white wine after ten hours of sizzling yourself? How about three glasses? My well-intentioned interview process had veered off into wholly uncharted territories when Mollie Summerland – 23-year-old British superstar-in-the-making and all-around good egg – appeared at the trade stand.

“I heard you’re going to Luhmühlen,” she said.

“Yeeeeshhh I am,” I replied, laboriously uncrossing my eyes.

“I really want to try to go,” she told me. “But I don’t want to do it alone. Do you think you could help me with the border crossings and come in the lorry with me?”

“Absholutely, count me in,” I slurred, feeling as though I could probably take on any challenge in the world and succeed with minimal bruising.

* * *

Sunday morning rolled around in the manner that all Sunday mornings should: groggy, crispy, and with only the faintest recollection of the prior evening. Pretty sharpish, I remembered – I was now spearheading Mission (Hopefully Not So) Impossible. All my prior research gave me a pretty firm starting point, but there was one crucial difference: where I’m lucky enough to have a German passport, which allows me unfettered access to the country, Mollie’s British citizenship presented a rather bigger hurdle that would need to be overcome with some serious paperwork. I even considered offering to marry her for a couple of weeks, a plan that would need to be backed up by ‘reasonable social media evidence’. I knew there was a photo of us hugging post-cross country at Boekelo, and figured I could make a gals-who-are-pals narrative out of that if it came to it.

My good lady wife. 

I’m used to coming up with bonkers plans to make difficult things happen, but this was next level – and so it was enormously encouraging to see how enthusiastic and supportive both Dickie Waygood and Chris Bartle, the British team coach, were about me taking the reins, figuratively. But though I left Houghton pretty confident that I could get the job done (and slightly less confident about making it home with approximately £8 in my bank account), even I wasn’t fully prepared for the utter madness the next few days would hold.

First, there was the stopping point. We needed to find a place to stay in Belgium or the Netherlands for ten days, where Mollie and her horse, Charly van ter Heiden, would be able to train and prepare for a CCI5*. Our original plan to stay with some friends of Mollie’s in Belgium had fallen through and, conscious that people would be justifiably concerned about both COVID and equine herpesvirus, I wanted to approach people sensitively. A few of my ideas failed to turn up anything conclusive and it was looking increasingly likely that we’d end up stopping over at a dealer’s yard, until I popped onto Google Maps to double-check our route to Luhmühlen and realised that we’d be driving just past a Dutch town called Breda. I had only ever heard of Breda in one context: it’s where Tim Lips, Dutch eventing superstar (and another all-around good egg) is based.

Tim Lips: our new favourite human being in the whole wide world. Photo by Anja Veurink.

I often wax lyrical about how great our eventing community is – we all look out for another, regardless of our roles within the sport, and though it’s a fiercely competitive discipline, it also often feels like one big family with none of the cutthroat rivalry that I suspect can permeate other sports. Mollie had never met Tim, and I only knew him in passing from having interviewed him in a couple of mixed zones, so I had no expectation that he had much of a clue who he was, but he replied to my plea almost instantly and was immediately incredibly welcoming and accommodating of two slightly panicked girls and one spectacularly un-panicked horse. The great news? It meant that we’d spend ten days in one of the top yards in the Netherlands, with access to all the facilities anyone could possibly need to prepare for a five-star, and someone with a huge amount of experience to ask for help and advice should we need it. And obviously, even better than THAT was the fact that I was now preparing to spent ten days in close proximity to Herby, a horse I’ve loved from afar (and with much vocal enthusiasm) since watching him compete with Tim at the 2019 Young Horse World Championships at Le Lion d’Angers. We were heading straight to pony nirvana.

Herby: the champion of one journalist’s heart. Photo by EquusPix.

Well, if we could get there, that is. First, there was the small matter of, well, everything to sort out, and without much time to get it done before we left on Friday. We’re in that tricky time of year in which the UK has a bank holiday approximately every other week, and so although Charly’s bloods had been taken on the Monday, there was no way they’d go into overnight testing before Wednesday. Then, it was a matter of hoping that the lab didn’t have a backlog, but even a Thursday morning result would be too late for the vet appointment scheduled for us by John Parker International, the shipping agents who looked after us so well. And so I began a quest for a vet in the Wiltshire area who was a) signed off to do health papers, b) available on Thursday afternoon, c) would be able to accommodate our incredibly vague timing, and d) would be happy to prioritise a horse who wasn’t ordinarily registered with their practice. A few frantic phone calls led me to the fantastic Valley Equine Vets, who treated us as though we’d been loyal clients for years, and my high-octane stress was eased for a moment – now, all we could do was pray that the bloodwork results actually did come in on Thursday.

There wasn’t a lot of time to worry, though: in the meantime, I needed to organise PCR tests for Mollie and I in two different parts of the country, with next-day results guaranteed, I had to keep Mollie herself calm and sane and mostly in the dark about how tricky it was all looking, and there was a feed delivery that needed to be changed, potentially necessitating a four-hour round trip for me to go collect it, and I needed to gather a serious amount of paperwork – hay receipts, elite athlete exemptions from the British Equestrian Federation, letters of invitation from Luhmühlen, and, crucially, letters of invitation from the Dutch Olympic Committee, securing our entry to the country for elite training.

I like to imagine that this is what was happening on the other end of the phone while I was on hold.

There’s hold music, and then there’s Dutch hold music – jaunty, shrill, and frequently punctuated with a serious-sounding message that I hoped said “look, just stop panicking and wait a sec, you’re third in the queue” and not “please hang up your phone, you numpty, because you haven’t even dialled the country code correctly.” Fortunately, I only had to wait what felt like an hour, cobble together some spectacularly shoddy Dutch, and then I was at least at the entryway to the great maze of navigating the Dutch federation’s many offices.

And there was more – oh, god, there was so much more, but nobody wants to read thousands of words on logistics. On Tuesday alone I made 40 phone calls across four different countries, all of which had to be made in the phone signal hotspot on our farm, which I paced around so aggressively that I hit my daily step count on phone calls alone. Basically, if anyone wants to know how I prepared for Luhmühlen, I basically lunged myself for a whole day. Does this mean I’m ready for a hunter round?

Me after successfully managing “spreek je Engels?” and “dankjewel!” on the phone to the Dutch federation.

After the frenetic pace of Tuesday, in which I felt like I uncovered another insurmountable hurdle every five minutes, Wednesday was no less fast-paced but considerably better for my blood pressure. Every call I made felt like it yielded a solution, not another addition to the to-do list, we received confirmation that the bloodwork would come back in the morning, and I cried my way through a COVID test that came back negative. (Look, I’m pretty tough, but even I can’t cope with what looked like a mascara wand being forcibly shoved into the base of my brain.)

Thursday was another perfect day: the bloodwork came back and I danced like a lunatic on top of our muckheap ramp; Mollie’s own brain swab came back negative; the phone calls were slightly fewer and all overwhelmingly positive. All we had left to do was finalise the health papers for Charly, get all our stuff packed, get Charly from Mollie’s Wiltshire base to the yard I live on in Surrey, and then complete a two-hour round trip to swap Mollie’s big lorry for a smaller one lent to us by her wonderful owner, Paula Cloke. Teamwork truly does make the dream work, and between us all, we managed to fit the entire contents of her 7.5 tonne lorry into our new 3.9 tonne home. The moving parts of all our plans had been well and truly bolted into place. We were going to Luhmühlen – as long as I hadn’t messed anything up along the way, which we’d only discover definitively once we got to the port.

Charly gets a good night’s sleep ahead of his big adventure. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials: Website, Entries, Live Scoring, LivestreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Exercise-induced muscle damage that results in sore, stiff muscles and poor performance is a common problem in athletic horses. Vitamin E plays an important role in preserving optimal muscle function by interrupting the production of harmful free radicals that can damage critical tissues. When vitamin E levels in muscle tissue are inadequate, the risk of exercise-induced muscle damage is increased. Elevate® Maintenance Powder supplies the natural vitamin E your horse needs to neutralize damaging free radicals and support peak performance. Keep your horse at the top of his game with Elevate natural vitamin E. 
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.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

It’s not just the riders, connections, journalists and fans getting excited for Luhmühlen — the team on site are giddy with anticipation too. They’ve also had to reckon with the travel bans that have meant that some of their usual team members haven’t been able to join them for the preparations – but they’ve kept morale up by tackling a bake-off challenge based on the last fence on course. Wonder if we can persuade them to save us a slice?

National Holiday: It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. I can get behind that.

US Weekend Action:

Genesee Valley Hunt Club H.T. (Geneseo, Ny.): [Website] [Results]

IEA H.T. (Edinburgh, In.): [Website] [Results]

The Spring Event at Archer (Cheyenne, Wa.) : [Website] [Results]

GMHA H.T. (South Woodstock, Vt.) : [Website] [Results]

The Middleburg H.T. (The Plains, Va.): [Website] [Results]

New Jersey Region’s H.T. (Allentown, Nj.): [Website] [Results]

Ocala Summer I H.T. (Ocala, Fl.): [Website] [Results]

Poplar Place June H.T. (Hamilton, Ga.): [Website] [Results]

Unionville H.T. (Unionville, Pa.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Action:

Ascott under Wychwood (2): Results

Belsay International: Results

Little Downham (1): Results

Global Eventing Roundup:

There were nine FEI events held globally over the last week, but foremost were those in Millstreet, Ireland, and Renswoude, the Netherlands, both of which held formidable four-star sections.

 

 

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Millstreet’s feature class, the CCI4*-L, went the way of New Zealand’s Tim Price and Falco, who led from wire to wire despite the tough going making the time a serious factor. They added 14.8 time penalties across the country, while the fastest round of the day was delivered by third-placed Tom McEwen and CHF Cooliser, who was rerouting from a planned CCI5* debut at Luhmühlen. Their 8.8 time penalties far eclipsed the times delivered across the rest of the field.

Mike McNally and Eclipto took the CCI4*-S for their home country, adding just 3.2 time penalties in the showjumping to their first-phase score of 25.1. In an exciting teaser of the month to come, Jonelle Price finished second and third on two of her Luhmühlen-bound horses – McLaren, who will contest the CCI4*-S, and Faerie Dianimo, who heads back to the CCI5*, respectively. Check out full results here.

Germany’s Emma Brüssau and Dark Desire GS won the CCI4*-S at Renswoude, leading every phase and adding just 1.6 time penalties in showjumping and 0.4 across the country to finish on a score of 26.6. Her fellow countrywoman and former World Champion Sandra Auffarth took second and third place on The Phantom of the Opera and Rosveel, respectively. Check out the rest of the results here.

Your Monday Reading List:

Without wonderful volunteers, eventing wouldn’t exist – and so we’re always so excited to see initiatives that honor their hard work. Diane Bird recently became the first-ever silver medal winner in the USEA’s Volunteer Medal Program after clocking up over 1,000 hours of service. What a hero. [The First Silver Medal is Earned in the USEA Volunteer Medal Program]

Equestrian Canada is leading the fight against tight nosebands. They’ve launched a pilot project that’ll lead to refined rules and in the long run, much happier horses. [Canada clamping down on tight nosebands in horse sport]

When Marion Kimball Riese and Freckles competed at the May Dressage Derby in California, they didn’t just earn the rider the high-point adult amateur award. They also joined the prestigious Dressage Foundation Century Club, for horses and riders whose combined age totals 100 or more. [Century Club Just A Stop Along The Way For Octogenarian Dressage Rider]

And finally, here’s your daily dose of cute: meet Colin the ‘miracle foal’, who was born via emergency caesarean while his mother underwent colic surgery. Now, he likes to hang out in the house and enjoys bedtime stories. [Colin the ‘miracle’ caesarean foal is beating the odds to survive thanks to dedicated vet]

The FutureTrack Follow: 

 

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It’s got to be Mollie Summerland, with whom I’m currently on a mad adventure to Luhmühlen. Stay tuned as she tackles her second five-star with her horse Charly van ter Heiden!

Morning Viewing: 

I’m sitting here writing this news and notes roundup from the comfort of the lounge at Tim Lips’s incredible base in the Netherlands – and this vlog from a young Dutch pony rider gives you the chance to see my view from the terrace and some of Tim’s cross-country training techniques. Can’t help you with translations though, sorry.

 

Friday Video from SmartPak: Snoop Around Lucinda Fredericks’s Yard

One of the very best parts of being an equestrian journalist is having a tailor-made excuse to check out top riders’ barns, see how their systems work, and, of course, do some serious pony-patting in the process. The next best thing? Living vicariously through someone else doing exactly that. Vlogger Megan Elphick recently got the chance to tour the yard of the great Lucinda Fredericks and meet some of her current string of horses, and honestly, just the sight of all those event plagues on the wall is enough to give that indelibly nosy side of me the shivers. Dive in and enjoy your own VIP snooping session.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Riding with William

Missed out on William Fox-Pitt‘s recent clinic while he was Stateside? Thanks to the vlogging skills of attendee Anna Pierce, you’ll get to live vicariously through the experience, check out her rides, and hear all about the advice that Long Tall William bestowed upon her. And if we know Will? It’ll have been jam-packed with nuggets of gold. Get comfy, tune in, and start planning your entry for the next time he returns to US. We know you want to!

Exercise-induced muscle damage that results in sore, stiff muscles and poor performance is a common problem in athletic horses. Vitamin E plays an important role in preserving optimal muscle function by interrupting the production of harmful free radicals that can damage critical tissues. When vitamin E levels in muscle tissue are inadequate, the risk of exercise-induced muscle damage is increased. Elevate® Maintenance Powder supplies the natural vitamin E your horse needs to neutralize damaging free radicals and support peak performance. Keep your horse at the top of his game with Elevate natural vitamin E. 
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.

 

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

 

Some days you’re the drinker, some days you’re in the drink. Or something like that, anyway. In any case, we reckon Yuxuan Su‘s deep-sea dive to rescue his horse’s overreach boot at Houghton probably deserves some commendation of its own. Perhaps a commemorative Speedo?

National Holiday:Today on Memorial Day, we are remembering the sacrifice made by military personnel who have given up their lives in service to their country. To these brave men and women, our eternal recognition and gratitude.

US Weekend Action:

Virginia International H.T. (Lexington, Va.): [Website] [Results]

Spring Coconino H.T. (Flagstaff, Az.): [Website] [Results]

Equestrians’ Institute H.T. (Elum, Wa.): [Website] [Results]

May-Daze at the Park H.T. (Lexington, Ky.): [Website] [Results]

Mystic Valley Hunt Club H.T. (Gales Ferry, Ct.): [Website] [Results]

The Spring Event at Woodside (Woodside, Ca.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Action:

Borde Hill (1): Results

Houghton International: Website | Times and Live Scores | EN’s Coverage

Pontispool (1): Results

Shelford Manor (1): Results

Global Eventing Roundup:

 

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FEI events took place in every corner of the world over the weekend, with competition fixtures in South Africa, Japan, Estonia, and Uruguay, as well as in the US and UK. But arguably the biggest and most significant fixture was Poland’s Baborówko, which hosted classes from CCI1*-S through to CCI4*-L, with some of the continent’s foremost riders in situ.

First place in the CCI4*-L went the way of Sweden’s Aminda Ingulfson and Hot Cup VH, who climbed from sixth place after dressage to the eventual win after adding just 3.6 time penalties across the country in Saturday’s tough, stormy conditions. Meanwhile, Fouaad Mirza made a great showing for India, taking second place on dressage leader Seigneur Medicott and third with Dajara 4.

Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH were able to scoop the CCI4*-S win after leaders Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD withdrew before the final phase, due to a tumble for Ingrid in another class. We’re pleased to confirm that while Ingrid will undergo some further examination, she’s been able to travel home from Poland. Michael also took second place aboard fischerWild Wave, who will make his CCI5* debut at Luhmühlen in a couple of weeks, while Sandra Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73 rounded out the podium and bolstered their Tokyo campaign.

There was another win for Michael in the CCI3*-S, which he took with Kilcandra Ocean Power, while the CCI2*-S went to Finland’s Lotte Palmgren and Geniale 11. In second place, Germany’s Felix Etzel‘s 2020 Le Lion mount Promising Pete continued his string of impressive international results. You can check out the full results here.

Your Monday Reading List:

Today is the FINAL day to enter our epic #MudMadnessGiveaway in partnership with SmartPak! You could win a prize package valued at nearly $500 just by submitting your best muddy horse photo – you can find out more here.

It’s also the last day to fill out EN’s 2021 Gallop Poll for a chance to win a YETI EN-branded mug. We’re collecting some basic information about our readers and appreciate your help so that we can better serve you! Click here to fill out the survey.

Want to read more about Michael Jung’s Baborowko wins? HorseTalk NZ has the full lowdown from the weekend. [Eventer Michael Jung steals the show at Baborówko]

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Japan, and residents of the country are calling on the country to call off the forthcoming Olympics. Their voices have been bolstered by the Asahi newspaper, which sells 4.9 million copies a day and is a sponsor of the Games — the first sponsor, indeed, to call for a cancellation. [With hospitals collapsing, unvaccinated Japanese rebel against Games]

London’s Park Lane Stables is facing eviction despite successfully raising £1.3 million – £300,000 more than the amount requested to secure the premises. Now the riding stable, which is part of the Riding for the Disabled programme, is seeking new premises. [Park Lane Stables Announcement]

A replica of Winston Churchill’s childhood pony is returning to the stables at Blenheim Palace. Fans of bad taxidermy will be disappointed to hear that the lifesize pony is made out of wood, not the nightmares of the young. [Churchill’s childhood ‘pony’ returns to Blenheim for special exhibition]

The FutureTrack Follow:

Want a bit of feel-good content on your feed? Jamaican eventer Lydia Heywood‘s Cool Ridings is the perfect tonic. She helps young, aspiring riders get in the saddle and enjoy some super learning opportunities, and the organisation’s Instagram page is chock full of rider profiles, success stories, and nuggets of inspiration.

Morning Viewing: 

Happy birthday to the FEI! You don’t look a day over 25.

 

Little Fire’s Smoking Hot to Win Houghton CCIO4*-S for William Fox-Pitt

William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire record an overdue return to the top of the leaderboard for the rider. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Allow us, if you will, to set the scene: you’re at Houghton International Horse Trials, sprawled in the sun-soaked grass amid a crowd of merry picnickers. In your hand, there’s an ice cream; in the other, your phone sits limp and lifeless, unable to pick out even an iota of signal as you halfheartedly attempt to upload a shot of the water jump to your Instagram story. Vaguely, languidly, you contemplate picking your way through the sea of bare, winter-whitened legs to the nearest gin bar, but then your attention is diverted by a welcome announcement: William Fox-Pitt has just taken the Houghton CCIO4*-S title. Life feels blissfully, gloriously like it’s 2013 again.

You don’t actually have to dig that far back into the Before Times to find William’s last four-star victory, though it’s been a not inconsiderable stretch: we watched him romp his way to Barbury victory back in 2017 aboard the former Jock Paget ride Clifton Signature, and before that, he took the top spot in Hartpury’s CCI4*-S with Bay My Hero. He’s also hardly been on poor form over the last few seasons, with placings at the likes of Blenheim, Blair, Le Lion d’Angers and, of course, at Badminton, where Jennifer Dowling’s Little Fire finished ninth on his debut in 2019. And so while taking a mid-season CCI4*-S victory aboard the twelve-year-old Hanoverian might not be the be-all and end-all for horse and rider’s 2021 season, it’s still, as William tells us, really rather nice to be back on top.

“It was a nice surprise,” he says. “I was coming here because it had rained and the ground was good, and we don’t know where else we’ll get to run them — so we thought, let’s make the most of it and get him here. Of course I’d hoped to do well, and he’s a good horse, so I don’t really feel he needs to win to prove himself – but sometimes it’s nice to win!”

William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though seeing William – a rider with fourteen five-star victories to his name – atop the winner’s podium is hardly a rarity, these short-format wins tend to rely on quick, pedal-to-the-metal runs, and William has always tended towards using them as educational rounds to springboard his horses to long-format competitions, where he can then run to beat the clock and preserve their legs in the process. His run today was one of just twelve inside the time in a field of eighty-nine starters, but it wasn’t because he’d changed his tactics; instead, he says, it was a bonus that came as a result of the horse’s experience.

“He’s very easy and a very straightforward horse [to ride across the country]; he doesn’t pull, so he doesn’t waste any time,” he explains. “He was quite surprised that today I was saying ‘get on with it’ – he was thinking ‘really? Surely this is plenty fast enough!’ I haven’t really ridden him fast since he did Badminton in 2019, so today was quite a surprise. I thought I would get some time faults, so I was quite relaxed around the course and taking my time, but he was still inside the time. I haven’t been inside the time in a CCI4*-S in about ten years! It’s never one of my goals.”

Just five starters failed to complete today’s cross-country test, and Alec Lochore’s course boasted an 83% clear rate – but throughout the day it still proved highly influential, with experienced horses such as Oliver Townend’s Tregilder and Sarah Bullimore’s Conpierre, lying third at the start of the day, picking up surprise penalties through the day. Ultimately, time would prove to be the most significant factor, allowing for major leaderboard gains and losses and, as such, a final top ten that looked very different than its starting point. But, says William, it was a challenge that Little Fire – the top horse in his string — found well within his comfort zone. That capability was bolstered by William’s position at the tail end of the running order, which meant that he was able to leave the start box in the leading spot and well aware of the eleven seconds he had in hand to stay there.

“I thought I would use up all of them,” he admits. “But he’s a quick horse, it was a nice course, and there was lovely ground – so we just rather enjoyed ourselves, which is nice. But you shouldn’t say that, should you? Normally, with winning, enjoyment doesn’t really come into that!”

Selina Milnes and Iron IV. Photo by Hannah Cole.

Second place went to Selina Milnes and Iron IV, whose long-awaited five-star debut has been thwarted several seasons in a row by an unfortunate combination of rider injury and a global pandemic. But today’s run proved that the pair haven’t been waiting in the wings for nothing, as the bold, big-striding gelding soared around the course to ultimately finish on their dressage score of 30 and nab their best-ever placing at this level.

“Everything’s gone to plan, really,” she says of her week with the 12-year-old Belgian-bred gelding. “He jumped super [in the showjumping] and while his dressage still could be better, and he’s capable of so much more, it all went as planned. He has such a massive stride that I used to think I was going faster than I was, and I’d protect him a bit in that I wouldn’t take him fast anywhere – but now, you can really go.”

Now it’s time for another reroute for the horse, who had been one of over forty British entries in next month’s Luhmühlen CCI5*, which has seen a major reduction in the running order after Germany closed its borders to travellers from the UK in response to a surge in COVID cases.

“His five-star campaign keeps getting pushed back; he was entered at Burghley and then I broke my leg, and then he was entered for Badminton,” she says. “He’s entered for Bicton but he needs to go to a five-star, to be honest.”

Considering the scarcity of runs available over the last year or so, and the fact that Iron IV didn’t begin eventing until his six-year-old year, his trajectory up the levels has been an impressive one, and one that’s helped by his bold, forward-thinking, attacking cross-country style. But that presence and ferocity is saved for when he’s out on course: on the ground, he’s a rather more timid character.

“He’s quite quiet and likes his own space; he doesn’t like to be fussed and doesn’t want to be cuddled,” she says. “But then you get somewhere like this and he’s towing you around – until he sees a tractor or something like that, which he hates!”

Bubby Upton and debutant Magic Roundabout. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Bubby Upton is one of Britain’s finest young talents, and she once again demonstrated her strength as a cross-country rider while piloting eleven-year-old Magic Roundabout to a faultless round and third place in his CCI4*-S debut. Originally produced by Laurence Hunt and then campaigned to CCI3*-S by Kiwi rider Hannah Norvill, Magic Roundabout joined Bubby’s enviable string in 2020 and has enjoyed four top-twenty finishes at three-star since. His most recent run in the CCI3*-S at Kelsall Hill showed a tantalising glimpse of what’s to come from this horse, with a fifth place finish rewarding a sub-30 dressage and two quick, clear rounds, but this week’s effort – which saw him finish easily and confidently on his dressage score of 30.7 – will certainly cement him as one to watch as the season unfolds in earnest.

Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne van Bareelhof. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

China’s Alex Hua Tian was understandably rueful after picking up six time penalties across the country with Jilsonne van Bareelhof, an expensive addition that cost him the win. But regardless of whether he’d walked away with a placing or the win, more notable and impressive is the gelding’s unusual career trajectory. Originally produced to Novice level by Kevin McNab, he’s spent the last few year’s in Alex’s programme allowing his undeniable all-round abilities to be nurtured while ensuring his management needs are catered for – all of which means that he’s only run internationally a handful of times. That this, his fifth international completion, was so nearly a major victory is a testament to Alex’s astuteness in making the decision to produce the horse as a CCI4*-S specialist, where his talents can so evidently shine.

“Other than my grumpiness, I’m delighted with the horse,” says Alex, who led after the first day of dressage and became the de facto leader once again after the showjumping phase following the withdrawal of Kitty King and Vendredi Biats. “He jumped everything that was in front of him and it’s the first time I’ve really asked him to go fast, ever. I’ve always gone around with the handbrake on a bit.”

Riding with a more determined eye on the time allowed Alex the valuable opportunity to test his horse’s reaction time and rideability at speed – a useful fact-finding mission and teachable moment after an unfortunate 20 at Burnham Market, when ‘Chocs’ settled into his natural, open-strided rhythm and failed to see a skinny C element. Today, Alex worked to create lines that offered each question as evidently as possible. This gave Chocs every chance to prove his genuine, game nature, but also meant that he had to work harder to establish a competitive galloping rhythm between fences.

“After his little duck-out at Burnham Market, I did just have it in the back of my head that I wanted to present everything to him really fairly and obviously, and he jumped everything really well,” explains Alex. “It’s just the first time that he’s gone that quickly, and the first time he’s ended up galloping a bit out of his comfort zone, which gave him a bit of a shock. It surprised me, too, because I just sort of assumed that he had endless gallop in him – but I think he’ll have learned a lot from the experience.”

Those lessons learned now will likely pay dividends down the line, when big-money opportunities such as the Event Rider Masters classes return – but for now, Chocs is learning the art of balancing speed, enthusiasm, and accuracy with the help of runs like today’s.

There were quite a few combinations that expected you to run down to them and take a bit of a risk,” Alex says, citing the table to two corners at 7 and 8AB that offered the option of a bold, attacking four and four strides, but could be ridden as a much more conservative five and five. “The four down to the triple brush was pretty demanding, and some of those lines will really suit him in the future because he covers the ground so easily – but you also worry that he could just flash right past it.”

Oliver Townend and Davinci III. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Oliver Townend was kept busy with several rides through the day in each international class, but his best placing in the CCIO4*-S came with a horse that isn’t actually part of his string. The thirteen-year-old KWPN Davinci III is actually the top horse of Sam Ecroyd, who has temporarily handed the reins to Oliver as he recovers from a nasty fall sustained a few weeks ago. Oliver, who’s no stranger to picking up new rides and getting the job done, has also recently deputised for Sam’s girlfriend, Emily King, who broke her hand just before Sam’s fall, leaving the couple with a surplus of horses needing outings and a too scant few functional bodies around to compete them. Oliver, who competed the horse briefly in 2017, was likely rather pleased to get the chance to try him out again at a higher level — and that enthusiasm was rewarded with a fifth place finish after adding just 0.4 time penalties to their first-phase score of 30.7.

The final top ten in Houghton’s CCIO4*-S.

Tom McEwen’s last ride on Zara Tindall’s Class Affair helps secure Team GB its first Nations Cup victory of 2021. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Integrated into the class was the first leg of the 2021 FEI Nations Cup series, which Great Britain duly won on an aggregate score of 98.5. Such was the strength of the home side’s efforts that two team members – Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden and Tom McEwen and Zara Tindall’s Class Affair – were able to make giant leaps up the leaderboard to finish in eighth and ninth place, respectively. Though Nations Cup glory will hardly be the Brits’ first priority in a year that features both an Olympics and a European Championships, the series is still a highly prestigious one and a great chance for Britain to exercise its considerable strength in depth ahead of the championships to come. The takeaway? Perhaps more so than in any prior seasons, all other nations have plenty to fear from the British invasion.

And with that, we’ll let the sun set on a spectacular week at the Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International Horse Trials. Until next time, Go Eventing!

Great Britain takes a decisive win in the first leg of the 2021 Nations Cup series.

Houghton International and Nations Cup: Website | Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Instagram | EN’s Twitter

Alex Hua Tian Regains Control of Houghton CCI4* in Showjumping

Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne van Bareelhof. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Forgive us for being a little giddy, but Houghton International felt as close to normalcy as anyone’s been in a long time today: the sun and the picnickers were out in force, and a veritable smorgasbord of top horses and riders battled through the day to make a mark on the leaderboard and head to the bar to celebrate afterwards. This is, perhaps, the most exciting detail of all — a bar at an event in the UK is as rare a sight in these frustrating times as a 10 for a flying change, after all. But here we are, sunburnt and jolly, celebrating a great day of sport – and a return to the top of the leaderboard for our Thursday leaders, China’s Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne van Bareelhof.

Though Alex enthusiastically dubs the horse “the most talented horse I’ve ever sat on”, it would be easy to write him off based on his record alone: the twelve-year-old Belgian Warmblood has started at just seven international competitions and completed four of them. But his unusual trajectory hasn’t been due to any lack of talent, as Alex explains: instead, it’s a horsemanship decision. Though the gelding is undeniably capable in all three phases, he struggles to keep shoes on, and so Alex has made the decision to target him at CCI4*-S success – a decision that’s being put into practice here with great success.

Sue Peasley’s showjumping course is always influential at Houghton: it spans an arena that rides much more hilly than it walks, and today’s course lured riders into wide lines that ticked the clock into the red time and time again. But for the savvy competitor – and certainly for those brave enough to ride boldly through the lines and turns – there were economical routes to be had, and the very best made the track look easy to tackle. For Alex and the extraordinarily scopey Jilsonne van Bareelhof, it was child’s play, but for 0.4 time penalties picked up along the way – “and now I have to go fast tomorrow,” laughs the rider.

William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though Alex and Jilsonne van Bareelhof ended the day as the class leaders, the top spot was no sure thing for them – particularly after dressage leaders Kitty King and Vendredi Biats jumped a typically classy, tidy round to add no penalties. But for Kitty and her Olympic longlisted mount, Houghton isn’t an end goal – and so she stuck to her guns, and her post-dressage decision not to run cross-country, and withdrew after her leading showjumping round. This allowed Alex back into the top spot, and gave William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire the golden opportunity to step boldly into second place after adding nothing in this phase. They go into cross-country on 25.4, giving the leaders just one second in hand in tomorrow’s final phase.

Sarah Bullimore and Conpierre. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though Sarah Bullimore‘s day was marked with the frustration of an abandoned Luhmühlen dream and a disappointing green error in the CCI2*-L, five-star mount Conpierre surely sweetened the pie by jumping a solid, stylish clear that contributed to the 60% clear rate in today’s competition. That pops them into third on 27, setting them just five seconds behind the leaders and setting them up well for their rerouted long format run at Bicton’s Bramham replacement in a fortnight. Behind them, 2019 Burghley winners Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street lie fourth on 28.2, while Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal piloted Camelot to fifth place on a clear round with just 0.4 time penalties, marking the horse’s second international showjumping round in three years.

Ludwig Svennerstal and Camelot. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The top ten after the showjumping in the Houghton CCIO4*-S.

Great Britain leads the way in the Nations Cup competition, which persevered on despite some last-minute dramas: firstly, the withdrawal of Gemma Tattersall and Jalapeno III, which brought the British team down to the minimum three riders, and secondly, the withdrawal of Sammi Birch from the Australian team, which had started with just three riders and thus necessitated the last-minute substitution of Sophie Adams and Ridire Dorcha.

Tom McEwen and Zara Tindall’s Class Affair lead the way in the Nations Cup standings. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The tough marking of the last few days continued in this morning’s short team session, in which none of the assembled riders scored sub-30 – but clear rounds for each British rider allowed for the only aggregate score under 100. Tomorrow, each team will battle it out for valuable points in this first leg of the 2021 series – a quieter fight than we’re used to seeing, perhaps, with the lack of foreign entrants, but one certainly worth keeping an eye on nonetheless.

Tomorrow’s cross-country challenge commences at 11.00 a.m. BST, with a tough, up-to-standard track designed by Alec Lochore set to test the mettle of the top contenders. We’ve seen plenty of problems across the CCI2*-L and CCI3*-L classes, both of which tackled cross-country today, so much could change across the leaderboard through the day tomorrow. Take a look at the course here — and as always, Go Eventing!

The Nations Cup standings going into cross-country.

Houghton International and Nations Cup: Website | Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Instagram | EN’s Twitt

Friday Video from SmartPak: From the Back Stretch to the Barn with Elisa Wallace

Bringing home a new OTTB? You’re in great company – Elisa Wallace just did the same thing. Whether this is your first or thirtieth ex-racehorse, though, you can almost certainly benefit from a bit of extra advice and guidance, which is exactly what she provides in her new vlog. Meet her new arrival, and find out more about her process of buying and caring for a freshly retired racehorse – our only tip? Don’t watch it if you’ve been trying to talk yourself out of that CANTER cutie you’ve been eyeing up. It’s not going to help your self-control.

(Oh, go on, watch it anyway.)

Kitty’s Sitting Pretty: Houghton Dressage Update and Gallery

Kitty King and Vendredi Biats seal the deal for the overnight lead. Photo by Hannah Cole.

For all our talk yesterday about the joy of watching the soon-to-be-superstars of the eventing circuit make their mark on the leaderboard, as overnight leader Jilsonne van Bareelhof did for China’s Alex Hua Tian, today’s best efforts were delivered by some very familiar names indeed.

Though Jilsonne van Bareelhof – or ‘Chocs’ – remains firmly in contention on his score of 24.3, he couldn’t quite cling onto his lead today when Kitty King and top horse Vendredi Biats inched into the top spot with a 24. It’ll come as no surprise to avid watchers of the sport that ‘Froggy’ threw down a great mark; the expressive and charismatic Selle Français gelding, who won Bramham CCI4*-L in 2019, has consistently proven himself a force to be reckoned with in this phase. But nevertheless, Kitty has walked away from nearly every test feeling as though not everything went quite to plan — until today.

“There’s always one little something that’s annoying, but today we didn’t have one of those ‘somethings’, so that was much better,” says Kitty, who was recently named to the British Olympic squad long list with the gelding. “We’re nearly getting there, so that’s good. It was great ground for him to work on, and I was really happy with him; he did his changes well and it was really solid, which is what we’ve been working at with him – just going in and consistently getting those solid performances.”

William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Slotting in behind yesterday’s leaders is William Fox-Pitt and his five-star partner Little Fire, who put a 25.4 on the board. This marks the third consecutive sub-26 score for the 12-year-old gelding, who finished ninth at Badminton in 2019 and missed out on a placing at this month’s Aston le Walls CCI4*-S by dint of 10.8 expensive time penalties. We’ve watch him get increasingly extravagant in his movement as he’s gained in strength and experience, and today’s performance was a real clear round for the natural performer.

Sarah Bullimore and Conpierre. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sarah Bullimore and Conpierre, who had originally been aimed at Luhmühlen before Germany’s ban on UK travellers, produced a tidy test for 27 and overnight fourth, despite some minor lapses in the connection early in the test. Like many of his rerouted compatriots, he’s now likely to head to Bicton for his next run, where Bramham’s CCI4*-L and CCI4*-S classes will be run. Joining him there will be provisionally fifth-placed Therese Viklund and Viscera, representing Sweden and sitting on a 27.5 in this tough marking class.

Today’s update is a markedly short one, because this phase isn’t quite over yet – we’ll be revisiting the dressage arena tomorrow morning for one short, final session in which the three Nations Cup teams will throw down their first-phase efforts. Then we’ll head into showjumping through the afternoon — so stay tuned for plenty of in-depth updates on the action.

Until then, Go Eventing!

The top ten after the second day of dressage in Houghton’s CCIO4*-S.

Houghton International and Nations Cup: Website | Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Instagram | EN’s Twitter

“He’s the Most Talented Horse I’ve Ever Sat On”: Alex Hua Tian Takes Houghton Lead

Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne van Bareelhof. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Such is the strength and consistency among the upper echelons of the British eventing scene that we’re used to seeing the same tiny handful of superstar horses lead the first phase week in and week out at four-stars. And so it’s always thoroughly exciting to see a less familiar face take the top spot and challenge this set supremacy – which is exactly what happened in day one of the CCI4*-S at Houghton International, incorporating 2021’s first FEI Nations Cup leg.

You may not yet be familiar with Jilsonne van Bareelhof, the 12-year-old Belgian warmblood who posted a 24.3 – one of just two sub-30 scores – to take a decisive overnight lead today. But you’d be hard-pressed not to know his rider, China’s Alex Hua Tian, best known for his partnership with top horse Don Geniro. Together, they scooped a top ten finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics – but Jilsonne van Bareelhof, or ‘Chocs’, as he’s known at home, “might be my favourite,” he admits. In fact, he says, “he’s the most talented thing I’ve ever sat on – he’s truly wonderful.”

Despite this high praise, only the most eagle-eyed eventing fans will have taken notice of the horse – he’s only run internationally seven times, a strategic move on Alex’s part as he figured out the best possible career trajectory for the gelding.

“He doesn’t run very often, but when he does, he’s just so special,” says Alex, who made the decision last year to produce Chocs as a CCI4*-S specialist, with an aim to campaign him at valuable short-format runs such as the Event Rider Masters series. This isn’t due to any shortage of talent, but rather, as Alex explains, a result of the extravagant gelding’s only apparent flaw.

“Basically, whatever we do with his feet, he loses shoes,” he explains. “But now that we’ve made that decision, he just thrives. He’s one of the those very few horses that’s exceptional in all three phases – and a lovely person. He’s as close to being a perfect horse as they get, but none of them are perfect!”

Chocs was originally produced by Australia’s Kevin McNab, who produced him through Novice (US Preliminary) before Alex bought the horse in 2017. By the end of the year, the new partnership had notched up two top-five finishes at Novice, and Alex decided to aim him at 2018’s Asian Games, held at CCI2*-L. Despite a spate of cancellations plaguing the early part of the 2018 national calendar, Alex fast tracked Chocs to a debut CCI2*-L at Tattersalls, where he made the best of a tough Ian Stark track to lead after cross-country, finishing eighth ultimately after dropping a pole.

“I remember going there and thinking, ‘I hope it’s a seven-minute Novice’ – but I hadn’t realised it was Ian Stark [designing],” he says with a laugh. “It was definitely not a seven-minute Novice. But he’s a serious animal – he pulled the whole way around and we were about thirty seconds under the time. He’s a very capable and ambitious horse.”

Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne van Bareelhof. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Since then, we’ve seen him jump clear in a CCI3*-S at Barbury Castle, though he was withdrawn from two other starts at the level while Alex and his team crafted a plan – and a career – to suit him. While his record and trajectory might not be the most conventional, changing the goalposts appears to have worked: Chocs debuted at CCI4*-S at Burnham Market last autumn, jumping two clear rounds for a top fifteen finish, and though he clocked up twenty penalties at the same event last month, Alex has chalked it up as a positive educational moment.

“He was more interested in going than looking — he just flat out galloped past a triple brush without looking,” laughs Alex. “But I think he learnt from it.”

Today’s score is an international personal best for the gelding, and marks the latest in a decisive downward trend in his marks: he posted a 29.4 in his last CCI3*-S at Barbury in 2019, a 27 at Burnham Market last year, and a 26.5 at Burnham Market this spring. This shift, Alex explains, has come as the inexperienced horse learns to focus and settle into his season.

“He can be a fresh bugger,” he says. “He can do a stunning test, but if he’s wild, he’s wild. But now that we’ve made the decision to keep him as a four-star horse, he’ll be run much more consistently. The issue he’s always had is that because he gets fresh, and because he runs so little, when we do take him out it’s all very exciting for him. This takes the pressure off a little bit, and he should find it a lot easier. That’s where the consistency today came from – he ran at Burnham Market, he’s stayed in work, and it’s all gone better.”

As a result, Alex found a new degree of rideability – and with it, the chance to push each movement for a higher degree of expressiveness.

“I was able to have him a little more with me, and he just goes in there and turns on the power to 100%. He’s such a big mover, so to keep him in a 20×60, even in a flat, beautiful arena, can be difficult [if he’s not focused].”

Oliver Townend and Tregilder. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Oliver Townend and Tregilder produced the only other sub-30 test of the day, delivering a smart 27.7 to sit second overnight. This is a welcome return to form for the established four-star horse, whose scores tend to fluctuate – we’ve seen him go as low as 22.9 at this level at Burgham last year, and as high as 38.4, and his last two tests have split the difference at 30 and 31.1. Though two more packed sessions of dressage will likely yield a spate of competitive scores to challenge the current leaderboard, today’s judging proved that riders will have to work hard for every mark – and so the strength of Tregilder’s work today is promising indeed for the eleven-year-old British-bred Sport Horse. He won on his CCI4*-S debut at Blair Castle in 2018, and Oliver will be looking for a golden opportunity to bring this up-and-comer back into the spotlight.

Selina Milnes holds third place with her reliable Iron IV, who led for much of the day on a very respectable 30. Like Tregilder, Iron’s previous form has seen him dip into the 20s, including a 25.6 at Bramham in 2018, but he’s tended towards an upward trajectory since then and is generally a low-30s contender. Now, as he looks towards his first international run of 2021, he could well be on track to add another placing to his record.

Ireland’s Susie Berry sits fourth on 30.5 with the fresh and enthusiastic John the Bull, who scored a 30.5 after Susie tactfully piloted him through the test. Though she may not have been able to push for the extravagance this game little horse is capable of, her strong early showing for Ireland should set a precedent for her team ride aboard Ringwood LB on Saturday morning. Just a hair’s breadth behind her sits another young up-and-coming rider, though this one a Brit – Heidi Coy and Royal Fury round out the top five on 30.6.

Tomorrow will see another full day of dressage tests from non-team competitors, while Saturday morning features a short head-to-head between the three Nations Cup teams before the showjumping commences after lunchtime. Great Britain, Ireland, and Australia will battle it out for valuable points in this pivotal first leg – here’s how those teams break down:

 

The top ten after the first day of dressage in the CCI4*-S at Houghton International.

Houghton International and Nations Cup: Website | Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Instagram | EN’s Twitter

Burgham To Host British Championships in 2021

William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Following the cancellation of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe for the second consecutive year, Northumberland’s Burgham International Horse Trials has stepped up to host the championship classes ordinarily staged at the popular Gloucestershire mainstay.

Burgham, which runs from July 28–August 1, will host the British Open Championship, Intermediate Championship, and both Novice and Novice Restricted Championships alongside their usual roster of national and international classes, helmed by their popular CCI4*-S.

“It’s very exciting for the North, which sometimes misses out on big sporting events, that the British Eventing Fixtures Panel have trusted us with running these historic and important championships,” says Burgham’s Event Director Martyn Johnson. “I am delighted for all the Burgham team that all our efforts to put on the best events we possibly can have been rewarded, and we have so many ideas as to how to make this year’s Burgham even more special.”

“In a year when so many of our big horse trials have gone by the wayside, Burgham 2021 will be a real celebration of equestrian sport, from the top level to grassroots. We are very much hoping that the public will be able to come and enjoy it with us.”

Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond at Burgham. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“We are delighted that the national championship classes held at The Festival of British Eventing are being hosted by Burgham International Horse Trials for 2021,” says Jude Matthews, outbound CEO of British Eventing. “We received some very strong tenders for the classes and are thrilled to be able to offer all of the classes at the same venue, which was an important consideration for the competitors.”

British-based Kiwi rider and president of the Event Riders Association Bruce Haskell represented riders’ interests on the fixtures panel that oversaw the tender process.

“Riders at all levels were adamant that the British championships should stay together,” he says. “Burgham was a clear choice as a venue that could deliver the championship feel needed for these prestigious classes. We are confident that this popular venue will be able to put on a brilliant championship for 2021. The riders would like to thank Martyn Johnson for stepping up once again to support the sport.”

Burgham will likely be open to spectators, with tickets expected to go on sale soon at the event website – or, for those unable to make the long journey north, the event will be live-streamed by Horse&Country TV. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that Burgham takes place over the same dates as the Olympic eventing competition — so if you’ve ever day-dreamed about around-the-clock eventing action, consider your prayers answered.

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

 

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It’s hard to believe, in some ways, that it’s already been a year since the tragic death of George Floyd. In other ways, it feels as though a decade has crept by in that time. The past year has been a time of enormous reckoning for everyone and, for many people, a period of colossal education. Have we reached a utopian point at which everyone is equal? Not at all – just days ago, it was reported that BLM activist Sasha Johnson was shot in the head in London after receiving death threats. She remains in critical condition – and she’s certainly not alone in being targeted for her race, and for her activism, in the year since George Floyd’s death catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into the forefront of cultural consciousness. Since then, we’ve also seen a spike in hate crimes and racism against East Asian people, increased antisemitism, the prospect of bills affecting the lives of Romany and Traveller people, waves of antisemitism, and much, much more. There is so much work left to be done.

But in the wake of tragedy, and in the midst of the ongoing fight for human rights, there are so many bright lights to run towards. The equestrian industry has seen a sea change, with many companies putting actions to their words and making policy changes, undergoing bias training, and ensuring that the riders they work with are truly representative of the broader demographic of people within the industry. A number of charitable organisations have formed, or gained major new support, in order to provide crucial access to the industry. Scholarship and bursary funds have been delivered to open the door for roles with horses for those from underserved communities, and all around the world, so many people have continued to ask the question, “how can we do better?” It’s been so heartening to see what can come out of the rubble, and though we, like the wider world, have so much work left to do, we’re certainly taking steps in the right direction.

Though it’s impossible to highlight all the super initiatives going on within the horse industry at the moment, I want to take a moment to share a few.

 

 

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Cool Ridings is run by British-based young Jamaican rider Lydia Heywood, who is at the forefront of fighting for equality in equestrian sport in the UK. She produces event horses with an eye on representing Jamaica on the world stage in the future, while also teaching at Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club and running Cool Ridings, her nonprofit organisation that gives aspiring young riders a leg up.

 

Speaking of Ebony Horse Club, they’re looking to hire a full-time Youth Programmes Manager – and applications close on May 28th, so don’t delay. You can check out the job spec and salary here.

 

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We shout about Saddle Up and Read a lot, and with good reason – Caitlin Gooch’s excellent initiative pairs horses with books, giving kids in underserved communities some pretty incredible opportunities and increasing literacy. Caitlin keeps her mobile library well-stocked with books that celebrate diversity, too, giving her young readers a chance to enjoy heroes and heroines who look like them.

Strides for Equality works to provide pathways into equestrian sport, spotlight equestrians of diverse backgrounds, and, crucially, advise governing bodies on how to be more inclusive. They also feature a great directory on their site, so you can find inclusive programs near you.

National Holiday: It’s National Wine Day. On a Tuesday. Which is fine.

Events Opening This Week: Huntington Farm H.T., The Maryland Horse Trials at Loch May Farm, Applewood Farm YEH/FEH & Mini Event, Chattahoochee Hills H.T., Woodland Stallion Station H.T., Round Top H.T., Golden Spike H.T., Summer Coconino H.T. and Western Underground TR, N, BN 3DE

Events Closing This Week: Valinor Farm H.T., Seneca Valley P.C. H.T., Bucks County Horse Park H.T., River Glen June H.T., Aspen Farms H.T.,

Want to get your hands on a highly covetable EN-branded YETI mug? Of course you do. Fill in our super-quick reader poll for your chance to win one – and to help ensure that we continue to provide you with all the content you want most.

Tuesday News: 

Fighting for a better, fairer, and more inclusive horse industry is a noble cause – but it can be an exhausting one for the equestrians of colour at the forefront of the movement. Equestrians for Equality’s Nadia Aslam shares her thoughts on compassion fatigue – and her tips for regrouping and coming back stronger than ever. [The Fatigue of the Fight]

The common cultural perceptions of the wild west have been reshaped over the last year, with a long overdue focus on the prevalence of Black cowboys coming to the forefront. But did you know that there were also a fair few transgender cowboys? Peter Boag, author and queer historian of the American West, delves into their stories. [The Forgotten Trans History of the Wild West]

The teams have been announced for the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships – which of the 27 teams, representing 15 schools, will you be cheering for? [Meet the teams of the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships]

The first FEI Nations Cup of 2021 kicks off this week at England’s Houghton Hall, and EN will be on site to bring you all the news and views from this much-loved event. One rider who’s particularly excited? Sweden’s Therese Viklund, who pilots the exceptional one-eyed Viscera and hopes to add another Nations Cup series win to Sweden’s roster after taking top honours in 2019. [Eventers Look Forward to Houghton Hall]

The State Department has added Japan to its Do Not Travel list ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games. While the guidance doesn’t specifically mention the Olympics, US travellers are advised to avoid heading to Japan for now as the country’s Covid case rates continue to increase with just two months to go until the Olympics. [State Department, CDC warn against travel to Japan ahead of Summer Olympics]

Laminitis season is upon us – but do you know how this unpleasant condition happens, and how best to prevent it? Brush up and be prepared with SmartPak‘s super advice. [Laminitis in Horses and Hoof Health]

The horse world has said a sad farewell to Mason Phelps, former US team event rider, show organiser, trainer, and prolific media visionary in the equestrian industry. Brush up on some of his extraordinary contributions and join us in raising a glass to a top chap. [‘Unimaginable loss’: former US team event rider dies aged 72]

Don’t miss out! Stock up on the next wave of Legends Horse Feed and Supplements and receive $2 per bag through May 31st. No coupon needed. Discount applied at point of purchase. Link: legendshorsefeed.com

Britain Opts Out of 2021 Pony and Junior European Championships Due to COVID-19 Risk

Britain’s silver medal winning Pony Team at the 2017 Europeans. Photo by G Herrling.

Great Britain will not send teams to the Pony and Junior European Championships this summer due to the ongoing risk presented by COVID-19. The announcement was made on Friday, May 21, as the UK reckons with the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant — commonly known as the Indian variant — throughout parts of the country.

“In consultation with the Youth Performance Manager and Chair of Pony Selectors, it has been agreed that the current situation created by COVID-19 means that sending under 18-year-old competitors creates a level of risk which is unacceptable to the sport,” explains the press release.

“The requirement to have a larger support team with these two youth squads to ensure appropriate safeguarding, combined with the current uncertainty particularly surrounding travel, means the difficult decision has been made not to send them.”

Great Britain are the reigning Pony European champions, having won both team and individual gold in the last two editions of the Championships, while British Juniors took team and individual silver in 2019.

Great Britain still intends to send a Young Rider team to Segersjö, Sweden, though the country is currently on the UK’s amber travel list, which means that increased testing and a quarantine requirement will be in place for those who make the journey – and, pertinently, it is more difficult to secure insurance for the trip. A final decision will be made by June 21 and will depend largely on Sweden’s travel status in a month’s time.

“We appreciate that this is extremely disappointing for those participating on the Youth Performance Programmes and we are working with the Youth Performance Manager and Chair of Pony Selectors to provide other opportunities for these athletes across the remainder of the season,” concludes the statement.

The Junior and Young Rider European Eventing Championships are set to take place from August 26–29 in Sweden, while the Pony European Championships will run from August 11-15 in Strzegom, Poland.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

As the proud caregiver of a mare who ‘assumes the position’ (begs for scratches while curling herself up like a question mark) every time I lift my hand to take a photo, I related hard to Laura Collett and London 52‘s Insta vs Reality. Come on, Dan, give us a smile!

National Holiday: It’s National Brother’s Day. Tell yours he looks like a monkey and he smells like one too, but do it with love.

US Weekend Results:

Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (Fairburn, Ga.): [Website] [Results]

Flora Lea Farm H.T. (Medford, Nj.): [Website] [Results]

MCTA H.T. at Shawan Downs (Hunt Valley, Md.): [Website] [Results]

Otter Creek Spring H.T. (Wheeler, Wi.): [Website] [Results]

Spring Gulch H.T. (Highlands Ranch, Co.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Results:

Little Downham International: [Results]

Somerford Park (1): [Results]

Tweseldown International (2): [Results]

Warwick Hall (1): [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up: 

The continental European eventing circuit has been on fire over the weekend, with internationals on the go at Belgium’s stunning Arville, the base of Kai-Steffen Meier and Lara de Liedekerke-Meier; Italy’s Montelibretti; and Russia’s Dubrava.

Arville, which is a much-loved four-star venue, hosted its ‘introductory international’, with friendly, encouraging classes and courses at CCI1*-Intro, CCI2*-S, and CCI2*-L. Germany took top honours in the CCI2*-L, won by Christina Schöniger and Schoensgreen Continus. They climbed from second after each of the first two phases to the eventual win after two-phase leaders Eva Terpeluk and Uni’s Black Pearl, also from Germany, dropped a rail. That also allowed yet another German pair – Gesa Staas and St Stacy — to move into second.

Meanwhile, another German took the win in the CCI2*-S. Young Rider team gold and individual bronze medallist Ann-Catrin Bierlein and Qula M finished on their dressage score of 30.1, allowing them to take the win after sitting in second throughout the competition. Belgium’s Tine Magnus and Champagne Pia Z climbed from tenth to second, while dressage leaders Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and her 2020 Le Lion d’Angers mount Origi finished in third after adding 0.4 time in the showjumping and 0.8 across the country. Finally, the CCI1*-Intro went the way of Belgium’s Jarno Verwimp and Hilton, who climbed from sixth to first place despite a remarkable offensive by Germany’s Julia Krajewski, who finished with three horses in the top five.

You can view full results from Arville here.

Italy was teeming with eventing action, with Montelibretti hosting long- and short-format classes at every level from CCI1*-Intro through CCI4*-L, including a special CCI2*-L for ponies.

The feature CCI4*-L class was duly taken by Italian rider Pietro Sandei and his five-star campaigner Rubis de Prere, who led the dressage on a score of 30.8 but dropped down to second after cross-country when they picked up 11.6 time penalties. But the course and the time would both prove tough, and of the nine cross-country finishers, they were still the second fastest – and so, in jumping the only clear showjumping round of the final day, they were able to regain their lost ground and take the victory. Second place went to fellow countryman Emiliano Portale and Aracne dell’Esercito Italiano, who produced the fastest cross-country round of Saturday’s competition, while third went to Susanna Bordone and Walvis Bay.

The CCI4*-S, too, stayed in the hands of the home country, with Susanna Bordone moving up from second after the first phase to take — and hold — the lead aboard Imperial Van De Holtakkers. Switzerland’s Felix Vogg and Cartania finished in second place, stepping up from fourth after producing one of the fastest cross-country rounds of the day, while dressage leaders Geoffroy de Jamblinne and Consequent Pia Z of Belgium finished in third place.

Check out the full results here.

Finally, Russia’s Dubrava hosted CCI1*-Intro, CCI2*-L and CCI3*-S classes as well as the Sverdlovsk aya Oblast’ regional championships and a three-day seminar and practical workshop for aspiring stewards and technical delegates. But that’s all we know, folks – results for the event are harder to find than unicorn poo.

Your Monday Reading List:

Following her own extraordinary success in the Magnolia Cup, young amateur jockey and Ebony Horse Club rider Khadijah Mellah has joined forces with Oil Bell and Naomi Lawson to launch the Riding A Dream Academy, named for the documentary that followed her journey from Brixton to the finish line. The Academy will provide two extraordinary opportunities to young riders from underrepresented communities: a scholarship programme that will give riders a chance to spend a week in Newmarket and a year under the auspices of a mentor, and a residential week that will encourage new riders to take up the reins. [New academy gives children from under-represented communities chance to pursue racing dream]

If there’s anything that’s more universally baffling to riders than self-carriage, I haven’t found it yet. This interesting and informative primer looks at the concept from a number of different angles and should help the idea sink in. Maybe. [Principles of Horsemanship: Part Seven — Self Carriage]

A new ban on travel from the UK to Germany could spell bad news for Luhmühlen entrants. Those affected? 41 British riders in the CCI5*, plus the last two winners of the event and a number of other British-based Kiwis and Aussies – plus a slew of CCI4*-S entrants. [Germany’s ban on UK travellers casts doubts over whether Brits can ride at Luhmühlen]

I refuse to believe there’s a single EN reader who hasn’t accidentally punched themselves in the face while doing up a girth. There are some embarrassing experiences that are just universal, frankly. [Embarrassing Mistakes All Riders Have Made]

Have you heard? We just launched an epic giveaway in partnership with SmartPak to get you all kitted out in rain/mud gear. For your chance to win over $400 worth of rain-ready gear, you’ll definitely want to check out this fun contest here.

The FutureTrack Follow:

Bravo to the carrot-toting social media manager behind the Longines Global Champions Tour account. Ahh, to be a travelling carrot escaping the plague island that is the UK…

Morning Viewing:

Take a trip to Aston le Walls CCI4*-S with Ashley Harrison and Zebedee:

Stalwart Dutch Team Horse Passes Away Aged 18 After Colic

Merel Blom and Rumour Has It N.O.P. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

We’re sad to report that Merel Blom‘s Rumour Has It N.O.P. has passed away following an extraordinary career and a short, happy retirement.

“With a deep sadnesses I have to announce that my biggest friend Rumour has It passed away,” said Merel in a statement on her Facebook page (May 18). Though Merel didn’t “I’m incredibly sad that it wasn’t meant to be to enjoy a long and happy retirement for Rumour at my yard. Rumour meant the world for me. Thanks for all the amazing adventures, Sjimmie.”

Merel Blom and Rumour Has It NOP (NED). Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Both Merel and ‘Sjimmie’ have been stalwart members of the Dutch eventing team, representing their country at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caën, where the team finished in bronze medal position, and again in 2018 at Tryon, where they finished 16th individually. They would notch up a top-twenty finish in the Rio Olympics in 2016, too, as well as contributing to a strong team finish at the 2015 European Championships at Blair Castle.

Merel Blom and Rumour Has It at Luhmuhlen. Photo by Julia Rau.

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“It went very quickly. Last night he got colic, last night it seemed to be going in the right direction, but this morning he got into shock and we decided to put him to sleep. The chance of success of an operation was very small and the prospects afterwards were not good either,” said Merel in an interview with the Dutch federation. “Then it is very sad, but then you also have the task of choosing the interests of your horse. It hurts a lot, and I would have liked to have given him a long retirement, but it was not meant to be.”

The Holsteiner gelding (Esteban xx x Onara, by Candillo) completed 34 international competitions before his retirement was announced after the CCI4*-S at Luhmühlen in 2019. Beyond his many championship appearances, Sjimmie also enjoyed clear rounds at six five-stars, with his best results coming at Pau and Badminton; he finished 13th at the French five-star in 2012 and nabbed the same result at Badminton in 2014.

That exceptional Pau result was the five-star debut of both horse and rider, and won then-26-year-old Merel and nine-year-old Sjimmie the HSBC Bursary for the best level debut of the competition. Remarkably, Sjimmie had only been eventing for two years at that point; Merel had bought him as a six-year-old with some jumping experience in Germany and, alongside studying for her degree in law and finance at Rotterdam University, produced him through his career change. En route to that career-defining five-star debut, they completed Bramham and represented the Netherlands at Aachen, too.

All of us at Team EN extend our deepest sympathies to Merel and all of Sjimmie’s connections.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Steve Guerdat Shares Olympic Crisis of Conscience

As we inch ever-closer to the Olympics in August, the debate both for and against the running of the Games is heating up – and we’re starting to see some unexpected takes from athletes, too. In the wake of Canadian showjumper Eric Lamaze withdrawing himself from consideration due to his own medical concerns, Swiss superstar Steve Guerdat has spoken up about his own concerns in a short interview with AFP News Agency.

“Is it okay to vaccinate athletes knowing that there are not enough vaccines around the world and that people are dying every day who could have perhaps benefitted from the vaccines that we are going to keep for the athletes?” he asks, confessing that grappling with the issue has been quite literally keeping him up at night.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Games and the vaccination conundrum. Do you think it’s morally questionable for them to run, or do you think the world needs the positive rallying point the Games provides? Jump in the comments and share your views.

Top Tokyo Contender for Team New Zealand Retires From Competitive Career

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo courtesy of Australian International 3DE.

We’re sad to report that Clarke Johnstone‘s Balmoral Sensation has been unexpectedly retired from competition at the age of seventeen following an injury sustained on cross-country at the Sydney Three-Day Event at the beginning of May. The New Zealand Warmblood gelding (Senator VDL x Aberzanne, by Aberlou) had been a frontrunner for a spot on the Kiwi team for Tokyo this summer, with an impressive career behind him that included 15 international victories from 35 starts. Among those starts were three appearances at CCI5*: third place on his debut at Adelaide in 2015, fifth place at Badminton in 2016, and a well-deserved win at Adelaide in 2017. He also finished sixth individually at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the New Zealand team finished in fourth place. Such was his reliability across the country that his last cross-country jumping penalty dates all the way back to early 2014. In his 29 international completions, he’s never finished lower than 12th – and he’s finished in the top five 26 times, making his record one of the very best in the sport.

Clarke took to Facebook to share the sad news.

“This post is an especially hard one to write. After jumping a fantastic clear cross country round at Sydney 3DE, with his ears pricked all the way to the finish flags like he always does, unfortunately it became clear that Balmoral Sensation had picked up an injury and that he wouldn’t be continuing in the competition. Sadly this has also ruled us out of Olympic contention for the Tokyo Games,” he wrote.
“At his age of almost 17 years and after all of the wonderful moments and memories that he has given me, I have made the very sad decision to call time on Ritchie’s brilliant Eventing career. More than owing me nothing, I owe Ritchie a huge debt of gratitude and he has gone home to New Zealand now to start his retirement that he has so thoroughly earned. It is hard to put into words what Ritchie means to me but I’ll give it a go. This could end up a bit of a novel!”

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo courtesy of the Australian International 3DE.

“In the seven years that I have ridden Ritchie he has taken not just me, but my family and friends on the most incredible journey. All over the world. From Adelaide and Aachen to Badminton, Brazil and even Belguim, and always in the prizes. Through the highs and lows of sport. The triumphs and the tears, Ritchie has been the most amazing team mate. Brave, honest and so so clever. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me or me for him.”
“Without a doubt the crowning glory of our career was the Olympic Games in Rio where we placed 6th individually. He tied up badly when we arrived in Rio and for the week leading up to the start I could hardly ride him, he was only running on half power to be honest. Our dressage was a little flat although I was happy under the circumstances. I was very worried about the cross country with Ritchie not feeling himself. I needn’t have been. As soon as I jumped a warm up fence and Ritchie knew it was cross country time he was on! Ritchie’s long term friend and travelling groom Lydia Beales had to come to our rescue and help keep him calm before it was our turn to go.:
“On the course Ritchie gave me the most incredible ride. He just never missed a beat from start to finish. The first water came early at fence 4 and had a log in with a tricky distance to a narrow log in the water and everybody was doing 4 strides to the log and some even 5. I had walked it time and time again and I just knew that the direct 3 strides would suit Ritchie better and it would be faster but I was very nervous about it not working out how I thought. It was the Olympics after all, not really the place to take a chance. I knew that Ritchie could do it and that I could trust him, he could do anything in my eyes, and he did it absolutely perfectly. Living up to his name as usual he was just Sensational around the rest of the course. I got my favourite photo of our whole career jumping into the water too. It always makes me smile thinking about that water jump.”

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo by Jenni Autry.

“That was the best feeling of my life at the time jumping clear around the difficult Olympic course with my mate. Probably only bettered by our clear round in the team showjumping the following day to put NZ in gold medal position. Sadly the team medal wasn’t to be and then Ritchie was completely out of gas in the individual jumping and I also made a dumb mistake so no medal there either. Ritchie gave his absolute best though and I was so proud to be taking home the best horse in the world in my eyes.”
“Funnily enough, after the Olympics Ritchie was ranked the number one Eventing horse in the world rankings with the points he gained at Adelaide 5 star, Badminton and Rio in the preceding year. One of my other proudest moments in our career along with our win in the 5 star at Adelaide 2017, 5th place at Badminton, 5th place at Aachen (and team gold) and all of the titles Ritchie won at home in New Zealand. He won them all actually, some more than once. His unbelievably good eventing showjumping record was also pretty special.”

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo by Julie Wilson / FEI.

“He is way more to me though than the wins and placings. He has the coolest character. I was trying to describe his personality to a journalist one day which isn’t easy as he can be all manner of things depending on the mood he is in and the situation. I think it was Helen Firth who summed it up perfectly with “mercurial.” I love him for it though although it did make it hard to get him just right for the dressage, not too hot and not too lazy. I think Aachen 2018 was the best test we did in our career with Martin Plewa giving us 78%, which was a thrill.
“It isn’t just me who Ritchie is special to, though. As I mentioned earlier he has taken my family and friends on an amazing journey and we all love him for that. Even some people we didn’t know personally loved Ritchie and it always made me very proud when people would point at him at shows in NZ and say, “there’s Ritchie.” This would also not have been possible without the amazing care and attention that Ritchie has had from some fantastic girls over the course of his career. Ritchie took Lydia Beales and I around the world (twice) and gave us both so many amazing memories as well as some sad ones when it didn’t all go to plan, like when Ritchie was injured just before the WEG in 2018 when we felt like he was absolute at his peak. I know he means as much to Lyds as to me. Thank you Lyds. There are too many people that have played important parts in his career to list but some other fantastic people who gave Ritchie their all are Ange Carson, Maddy Crowe, Megan Stephens and Holly Fitzgerald. That white tail does not happen by itself, let me tell you! But their care and attention extended far beyond just having him gleaming white.”

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“I also couldn’t have achieved what I did with Ritchie without my fantastic coaches Vaughn Jefferis and Vanessa Way, and also a lot of guidance from Erik Duvander. Again there are others but I can’t name everyone or I’ll be writing all night! You know who you are so thank you. Alec Jorgenson, John Pulford and Christiana Ober who were the core of his horse health team, thank you too.”
“To Mum and Dad (Rob Johnstone and Jean Johnstone) and my Grandma Shona who bought Ritchie for me, I know he has given you all as much happiness as he did me but I can’t thank you enough. What a ride its been. Nick Brooks for all of your support from the beginning with Ritchie. The late nights strategising over a bottle or two of red which usually descended into us both ranting about how great Ritchie and Versace were. To Codey who has let his life be somewhat ruled by what is best for Ritchie for the last few years and followed us around the world, thank you Babe.”
“It’s the end of an era for me and Ritchie. It’s been a great one though.”
All of us at Team EN wish Ritchie a very happy retirement. Go roll in all those muddy patches, champ.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: ‘Round the World Eventing

One of the things that fascinates me the most is cross-country courses at venues I’ve never been to — and even better, in countries whose eventing scene I’ve never explored. The weekend just gone saw a jam-packed global fixture list, and among the dates in the diary was the Danish event Kalundborg, which hosted classes from one-star through three-star. Immediately, my mind began to construct a slew of possibilities: did the food stands sell pastries and pickled herring? Is everything just a bit more inexplicably cozy? And are the Danes really the happiest people in the world?

I’m not sure any of those questions have been answered by stumbling upon this helmet cam from the CCI2*-S, which follows Maja Hach and her sweet horse Birkegaardens Beyoncé, who finished fifth on their dressage score of 31.6, but it does rather give me the idea that I’d quite like to take my own horse on a little trip to the rolling fields of Denmark. My favourite thing about this video? The fact that, no matter what language we speak, we’re all united by the delighted praise we heap upon our horses as we tackle a course together.

Gå til eventing!

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Luhmühlen Entries Go Live and They Are SPICY, Folks

Tim Price and Ascona M take the win in Luhmühlen’s 2019 CCI5*. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Five-star fever has well and truly struck Team EN, aided and abetted by the release of Luhmühlen’s CCI5* and CCI4*-S entry lists. We’re used to seeing an exceptional field of horses head to this major summer fixture, which incorporates the German National Championship, but this year we’re looking at something really quite spectacular over the week of June 16-20.

Luhmühlen is the very last chance for horses and riders to qualify for Tokyo, and it’s also a prime opportunity for them to show what they’re capable of ahead of this year’s hottest competition – and, of course, the subsequent European Championships. These factors – plus the ongoing uncertainty about what, exactly, anyone will get the chance to do this year – have combined to create a perfect storm of an entry list. Let’s take a closer look at the highlights.

Piggy French and Vanir Kamira win Badminton 2019. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

The CCI5* features 72 entries from 10 countries. The most well-represented of those is Great Britain, with 42 combinations in the hunt. Chief among those are entries from reigning World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar B, Burghley winners Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street, and Badminton winners Piggy March and Vanir Kamira.

We’ll also see several combinations who’ve come achingly close to taking a win at this level, such as Laura Collett and Mr Bass, second here on his debut in 2018, Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet, who have finished in the top five four times at the level, Tom McEwen and Figaro van het Broekxhof, second here in 2019, Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent, runners-up at Pau last year on the horse’s debut, Nicola Wilson and her 2017 European bronze medallist BulanaMollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden, who finished in the top ten at Pau in 2020, and the consistent cross-country machines Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden. Britain also fields some exciting debutantes, such as Ben Hobday‘s Shadow Man and Izzy Taylor‘s Monkeying Around.

Christoph Wähler and Carjatan S on their 5* debut at Pau. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though the home front always tends to keep the majority of its entries in the CCI4*-S National Championship, there’s enough in the CCI5* to warrant some buzz: Christoph Wahler, who strode firmly into the top ten after dressage on his five-star debut at Pau last year, but subsequently withdrew from competition, will return with Carjatan S to finish the job, while Michael Jung brings forward two debutants, fischerWild Wave and Highlighter. We’ll be looking forward to seeing Anna-Katerina Vogel and DSP Quintana P, the fastest pair from the 2019 Europeans here, come forward at five-star too.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Two previous Luhmühlen winners head up a formidable front from the Kiwi contingent: Jonelle Price returns with 2018 victor Faerie Dianimo, while the reigning champion Ascona M will make the journey over with husband Tim Price. Not to be outdone, the Aussies also send forth a not inconsiderable challenge, with Kevin McNab riding Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend and Willunga in this class, joined by Chris Burton and Graf Liberty.

In a great effort from US riders, a small but fierce group of entrants will cross the pond to fight for top honours. Jennie Brannigan and Stella ArtoisAriel Grald and Leamore Master PlanBoyd Martin and Long Island T and Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play are all entered for the CCI5*.

Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD. Photo by William Carey.

The CCI4*-S promises to be a can’t-miss competition too, with 73 entries across 14 countries. This class features some of the most obvious contenders for a Tokyo medal: Ingrid Klimke‘s SAP Hale Bob OLD and Michael Jung‘s fischerChipmunk FRH will battle it out at the forefront of an exceptional German entry, though they’ll face strong competition from the likes of Tim Price and Vitali, who won the CCI4*-L in Strzegom earlier this month, Dutch National Champions Merel Blom and Ceda N.O.P.Gemma Tattersall and Chilli Knight, and eye-wateringly good line-ups from both Australia and Ireland. Among the highlights? Cathal Daniels and his European bronze medallist Rioghan RuaAndrew Hoy‘s extraordinary Vassily de LassosKevin McNab‘s Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam, top ten at five-star twice in three runs, Chris Burton and his 2019 Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old victor Clever Louis and ‘the dragon’ Quality Purdey.

Herby: the champion of one journalist’s heart. Photo by EquusPix.

As a journalist, one is never supposed to show bias, but suffice it to say that the Netherlands’ Tim Lips and TMX Herby will certainly be ones to watch in this competition — and beyond. We’ve also got some great US representation in this class from Katherine Coleman, who brings Billy Bandit and Monbeg Senna.

Check out the entries in full here, and stay tuned for lots to come in the lead-up to — and during the running of — Luhmühlen. We’ll be delivering you everything you need to know and much, much more — and you’ll be able to live-stream the competition through Horse&Country TV, too. Dust off the Rosetta Stone and let’s head to Germany, folks!

 

Who Jumped It Best: The Greenwich Brushes at Aston le Walls CCI4*-S

Who Jumped It Best?

What happens when you put over 200 horse-and-rider combinations into a CCI4*-S? A lot of things, really — including a journalist and photographer with a memory card absolutely brimming with photos, all of which would like to see the light of day on this here eventing website. And so, dear readers, we bring you the second of our Who Jumped It Best? extravaganza’s from England’s Aston le Walls, which stepped up to the big leagues earlier in the week to take on the classes ordinarily hosted at Chatsworth.

On Saturday, we looked at the Protexin Table, a wide, forgiving single fence sandwiched between the penultimate and final combination on course. This time, we’re going to look at what came immediately before it – the last of the Greenwich brushes.

This penultimate combination at 19ABC was comprised of a skinny brush fence — the Voltaire Design Brush — which was followed by two reasonably narrow brush fences with solid ground lines that prevented a deep approach. All three fences were situated on a curving left-handed turn, with four positive strides between the A and B element and three between the B and C. Upon landing, riders had to continue that positive, forward stride to the Protexin table. Here’s a look at Tom Jackson tackling the combination, which saw no faulters through the day:

Now it’s time for you to cast your eye over a selection of horses and riders as they pop out over 19C. Who do you think makes the best overall picture over the jump? Take a look, pick your favourite, and then scroll down to cast your vote.

Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

David Doel and Ferro Point. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Emma Hyslop Webb and Darrant. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Harry Mutch and HD Bronze. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Jessica Campbell and Aghalaan Wee Dan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Katey Cuthbertson and Incognito IV. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Laura Collett and Mr Bass. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Oliver Townend and MHS King Joules. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Simon Grieve and Drumbilla Metro. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Toshiyuki Tanaka and Swiper JRA. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

Look, I’m an easygoing sort of gal about most things, but after spending most of the past week consistently soaking wet, and after hearing countless horror stories from friends who needed to be towed INTO events, I’m ready to put my foot down on behalf of Britain’s eventers. Dear, darling sun, please come back so that we can all get back to moaning about the ground being too hard. Many thanks in advance.

National Holiday: It’s Norway’s Constitution Day. Happy birthday, Norway. You don’t look a day over 21.

US Weekend Results:

Galway Downs Spring H.T. (Temecula, Ca.): [Website] [Results]

Fair Hill International H.T. (Elkton, Md.): [Website] [Results]

Hitching Post Farm H.T. (South Royalton, Vt.): [Website] [Results]

Hunt Club Farms H.T. (Berryville, Va.): [Website] [Results]

Majestic Oaks Ocala H.T. (Ocala, Fl.): [Website] [Results]

Mill Creek Pony Club H.T. (Kansas City, Mo.): [Website] [Results]

Spokane Sport Horse Spring H.T. (Spokane, Wa.): [Website] [Results]

Texas Rose Horse Park H.T. (Tyler, Tx.): [Website] [Results]

Winona H.T. (Winona, Oh.): [Website] [Results]

Woodland Stallion Station H.T. (Woodland, Ca.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Results:

Aston-le-Walls International: [Results]

Firle Place Area Festival: [Results]

Llanymynech (1): [Results]

Moreton (X): [Results]

Global Eventing Round-Up:

Five internationals took place over the weekend: Tamborine and Barastoc Naracoorte Horse Trials in Australia each ran classes from CCI2*-S through CCI4*-S, while New Zealand hosted the Taupo International, running long format classes from CCI2*-L through CCI4*-L. Denmark’s Kalundborg ran from CCI1* to CCI3*-L, and Minsk in Belarus delivered classes from CCI2*-L to CCI4*-S.

While results from most of these events are still forthcoming, the New Zealand Three-Day Event at Taupo has wrapped up with some very worthy winners. The CCI4*-L went the way of Olympian and dairy farmer Matthew Grayling and Trudeau. Matthew has previously won championship titles here before in the two- and three-star classes, both aboard Parklane Hawk, later a five-star champion for William Fox-Pitt.

The CCI3*-L was taken by Shannon Galloway and the ex-racehorse Day Walker, both of whom have battled enormous obstacles to get to this point: Day Walker was struck down by a mystery illness after running the four-star at New Zealand’s Horse of the Year Show, and it was unclear whether he’d return to competition. He did, thanks to the enormous efforts of Shannon and the team around her, but as they got back into the swing of things, a brush with an electric fence resulted in the horse kicking Shannon in the head and necessitating 13 stitches. We suspect this big win will put the ups and downs of the last few months to bed for this pair.

Finally, the winner in the CCI2*-L championship was fourteen-year-old Scout Lodder and Money Shot, owned by her mum. This is the first year that Scout has been old enough to be eligible for the class, and Scout, who has only ridden the nine-year-old gelding for six months, was awed and emotional at the result — as was her mum, Dannie, who had to give up riding after a number of health complications. “He is quite special because he got me through when I had my brain haemorrhage – he was the first horse I rode after that. He helped me through my worst times,” she says of the gelding. Those who know Scout weren’t at all surprised by her victory — she first made waves on the circuit when she won a pre-novice (105cm) class full of adults at just ten years old. Undoubtedly a star of the future.

Your Monday Reading List:

It’s an odd Olympic year, but an Olympic year nonetheless — but what does that look like for team chef d’equipes? British Performance Manager Dicky Waygood shares his view, and his backstory, with British Eventing Life. [We Talk To…Richard Waygood]

Want to check out Practical Horseman’s podcast with Liz Halliday-Sharp, but can’t find your headphones? You can now read the full transcript. [Practical Horseman Podcast Transcript: Liz Halliday-Sharp]

Jess Day lives with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that put her in a wheelchair by the time she was 19. But it was rediscovering her love for riding — and one exceptionally special horse — that helped her see the light once again. [Rider who hit ‘rock bottom’ and was ready to give up found life and love thanks to her horse]

We all know the sport’s superstars — but how about the lower-level riders who dream every bit as hard? Like high school senior Isabel Lopez, who’s busy preparing for her first recognised event at Fair Hill with her OTTB, Emmie. They’ve got a great story, and we’ll certainly be rooting them on! [“If you don’t set the goal, you will never get there!”]

Waredaca has announced the return of their Road to the Three-Day Challenge series. If your bucket list includes ‘jump steeplechase fences and have the most fun EVER’, you’ll want to check this one out. [Waredaca Announces Their Classic Three-Day Challenge]

And finally, meet Hall of Fame showjumper Adolph Mogavero, whose sparkling career took him from the racetrack to the top of the jumping leaderboards in the mid-20th century. [The Stylish and Versatile Adolph Mogavero]

Hot on JumperNation: Experience, an Open Mind, and Purpose: What Horses Teach Us About People

What I’m Listening To:

Every episode of the Worldwide Tribe podcast is beautifully crafted, poignant, and enormously educational on the grim realities of the refugee crisis. Host Jaz O’Hara, whose family has expanded to include several young refugees, takes a person-first approach to looking at a complex topic, and gives marginalised people the space to tell their own stories. Sometimes, we all need a dose of perspective — and this will give you all that and more.

The FutureTrack Follow:

I’ve been dreaming of passport checks, duty-free browsing, and that wall of heat that hits you as you step off the plane somewhere temperate — and Yassine, who runs beach-riding experiences in Essaouira, Morocco, is guilty of fuelling most of those daydreams. My travel bucket list has a new entry.

Morning Viewing:

It’s not eventing, it’s eventing’s weird cousin who shows up to the family reunion, spikes the punch, and somehow fashions together a slip-n-slide from tarps, bricks, and washing up liquid. Never change, combined driving.