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Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

I’m not sure I could possibly be any more excited about the return of head cams from European climes as we inch closer and closer to the start of the season – and EN’s first far-flung international fixture at Thoresby International CCI4*-S in England. With Badminton entries due to be released in the next couple of weeks and a smoking hot slew of top-level horses already logging their first run, I think we can expect a truly vintage season. And to start it off in fine style? It’s Cheltenham week, which tends to draw all the UK’s eventers out of their lairs to watch the very best in jumps racing. It really does feel like another time: the last time I went to Cheltenham, I didn’t quite realise that just days later, we’d all be plunged into our first lockdown. Weird notion, in hindsight.

Events Opening Today: Horse Park of New Jersey Spring H.T.Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring H.T.Ram Tap Horse Park H.T.University of New Hampshire Spring H.T.Stable View Spring H.T.

Events Closing Today: Morven Park Spring H.T.Rocking Horse Spring H.T.Stable View Spring 2/3/4*Galway Downs International H.T.

#WomensHistoryMonth Bit of the Day: Instead of the past, I want to use this spot to look to the future – and more specifically, the shocking revelation that in 2022, we still haven’t benefited from any truly significant research into the effects of menopause on sporting performance. Horse&Hound‘s Lucy Elder investigates.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

Paul Schockemöhle is one of the biggest names in the sport horse industry. His empire spans breeding, competition production, elite sales and performance, and, of course, a popular tack and clothing brand that bears his moniker. Now, he and his team are using his resources and leverage to provide aid and help evacuate refugees from Ukraine.

The Open Intermediate at Oasby Horse Trials in England was a who’s-who of top-level talent, featuring major names including all three members of the gold medal winning Tokyo team, our reigning World Champions, reigning Blenheim winners, current European Champions and individual medallist, and a slew of five-star winners. Check out some photos from H&H’s Peter Nixon here.

Take a closer look at the Haller Education Scholarship for Eventing Officials in the latest of US Eventing’s series on their spectrum of super grants and bursaries available for riders, coaches, officials, and more.

New research into lipid production could improve lead to improved reproductive performance. The study, which is being undertaken in Australia, may well prove to be a boon to breeders around the world.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY OF THE DAY: Want to brush up on your feeding knowledge and learn how to keep your horse’s complex digestive system healthy, happy, and full functional? If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, when it comes to horses, a well-balanced and regularly scheduled meal can do much the same – and Legends Horse Feed is hosting an informative webinar today at 1.00 p.m. ET to help you get to grips with nutritional tailoring. Plus, all attendees will receive a voucher for a free bag of feed! Click here for more information and to join in.

Video Break:

Chatsworth is one of the iconic events returning to the calendar this year, and it never disappoints – in fact, its stunning house and grounds were used as Pemberley House in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. We can’t promise a rich hunk will appear through the mist, but we can definitely guarantee some red-hot action like this:

Friday Video from SmartPak: Rock and Roll(-tops)

Let’s be real: most of us don’t have the luxury of working with horses full-time, and so our own eventing exploits have to fit in with a busy career – and that’s not always the easiest of asks. And when your career likes to fit into odd hours itself? It’s even more of a challenge.

This week, we’re checking out a new blogger on the scene from Down Under, and following her through a hectic weekend in which she attempts to do both: be an eventer, and be a gigging musician. We’re definitely impressed by Tracey Bennett’s time management skills (and with a double life like hers, no one could ever possibly accuse her of being uncool, which we reckon is some consolation when things get really manic)!

Go double-life-livers, and Go Eventing!

Ramping back up into full work for the spring? SmartPak has everything you need to make the transition back to show season. Click here for more.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Eventing Prep Down Under with Shane Rose

My favourite thing about our sport is its limitless opportunities for learning. Every time you climb aboard a horse, or watch someone else ride, you can learn something – and likewise, any chance you get to watch a seasoned horse person manage their yard, care for their equine charges, or prepare for competitions will give you plenty of new ideas and tips to steal for your own routine.

Today, we’re checking out what life is like in the run-up to an event at Olympic eventer Shane Rose‘s Australian base. Don’t forgot the stud kit!

Elevate®

Performance horses are susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, limits the damage caused by everyday oxidative stress. It maintains healthy muscle and nerve functions, and supports a strong immune system in horses of all ages.

Elevate was developed to provide a highly bioavailable source of natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) to horses.

Check out this KPP article: Vitamin E and the Performance Horse – A Winning Combination.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®. KPPusa.com

#IWD2022: Eight Fearless Women Who Changed the Face of Eventing

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

Lana duPont Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anneli Drummond-Hay

Anneli Drummond-Hay and Merely-a-Monarch – perhaps the world’s first truly remarkable event horse. Photo courtesy of Badminton Horse Trial.

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

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

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

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

Sheila Willcox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ginny Leng

Ginny Leng and Priceless take the European Championships.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pippa Funnell

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street take top honours at Burghley 2019. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

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

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

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

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

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

Ingrid Klimke

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

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

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

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

Piggy March

Piggy March takes Badminton. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

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

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

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

Go women, and Go Eventing.

#IWD Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

 

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m forever grateful to be part of a sport in which women and men are on equal footing competitively – though there’s still plenty of work to be done to ensure that female riders are genuinely treated as equals outside of the competition ring. So while I’m overawed as always by the tough, clever, kind, and talented women who have helped to shape our sport, my greatest admiration and gratitude is with the women and girls who’ve been so brave in recent years, stepping forward to denounce abusers despite considerable backlash for doing so. Together, we can make our sport a safe and inclusive place in which no one has to suffer abuse of any kind to participate – and you, the whistleblowers, are the greatest driving force for change that we have. Speaking as a woman, as an eventer, and as a survivor of sexual assault in the industry – thank you.

Events Opening Today: UnionvilleSporting Days Farm April H.T. IIIRiver Glen Spring H.T.

Events Closing Today: Full Gallop Farm March II H.T.Texas Rose Horse Park H.T.March Horse Trials at Majestic OaksCarolina International CCI & H.T.

Women’s History Month Bit of the Day: Empress Elizabeth of Austria wasn’t just a horse-lover – she was also the proto-equestrian influencer, way back in the mid-19th century.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World: 

To celebrate International Women’s Day last year, the FEI put together this tribute. Consider this evergreen content: these strong, smart, brilliant women keep on showing up, day in and day out, for the industry.

The founder of one of Britain’s inner-city riding schools has received the prestigious Sir Colin Spedding Award. The award, which is given out at the annual National Equine Forum, honours unsung heroes of the equestrian world, and Imran Atcha, founder of Gloucester’s St James City Farm Riding School, has proven a worthy recipient with his tireless efforts to bring horses to underrepresented demographics.

Speaking of inner-city riding schools, a teenager from Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club has become the first Riding A Dream scholarship recipient to graduate from the British Racing School’s Foundation course. The Riding a Dream Academy was set up after Khadijah Mellah’s historic win in the Magnolia Cup charity race, and is designed to help young people from underserved communities get into racing. Oshane’s success is proof that the system is working.

Barn drama – we’ve all experienced it. But have you ever experienced it to this degree?

Want to improve your relationship with your horse? Great groundwork is the way forward – and it’ll make life easier for everyone who has to deal with him, too.

HOT ON EN: Want to help the people and horses of Ukraine? Here are some excellent resources to make sure your donation of aid, supplies, or funds gets to the right place.

Listen to This:

Get inspired with The Eventing Podcast‘s compilation show featuring the insights and accomplishments of some of the sport’s leading ladies.

Video Break:

Learn more about one of eventing’s brightest stars in this conversation between producing powerhouse Jenny Rudall and Olympic gold medallist Laura Collett:

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

 

Eventing has officially returned to the UK, though it hasn’t been the most straightforward of opening weekends. Aston-le-Walls, which is ordinarily the event that manages to run even when the rest of the country is 20,000 leagues under the sea, had to turn its BE season opener into a combined test after extreme storms drowned the site, so Poplar Park held the only three-phase affiliated competition of the weekend.

But what a competition that was! Riders and horses from BE80 to Intermediate were out in their droves, and the OI classes read like a who’s who of elite partnerships. Both of those classes went to Olympic gold medallist Oliver Townend aboard his great greys Ballaghmor Class and new ride Swallow Springs, formerly piloted by Andrew Nicholson. Reigning World Champs Ros Canter and Allstar B impressed with a 17.5 dressage, and we were delighted to see the return of Gemma Tattersall‘s Arctic Soul, who looked on super form with a 22.1 dressage and a cross-country run that Gemma laughingly admits nearly pulled her arms out. We feel as enthusiastic about being back as you do, Spike.

National Holiday: It’s National Be Heard Day. Take a stand for something you believe in to mark the occasion.

US Weekend Action:

$50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field: [Website] [Final Scores] [Ride for Charity Fan Vote] [Live Stream Replay] [EN’s Coverage]

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

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. (Altoona, Fl.): [Website] [Results]

Sporting Days Farm March H.T. (Aiken, Sc.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Action: 

Poplar Park: [Results]

Aston-le-Walls (1): [Results]

Your Monday Reading List:

A top eventing groom has come forward to anonymously share her experiences – which include plenty of 70+ hour weeks for barely any pay. It’s an achingly familiar scenario for many grooms and working students, but as this groom points out, it’s the cause of all the staff shortages plaguing the sport. Unsurprisingly, this groom has now left eventing to work in an industry in which she can afford to eat.

Happy birthday (yesterday!) to India’s Fouaad Mirza! The German-based eventer dazzled us all in Tokyo with the former Bettina Hoy ride Seigneur Medicott – and he’s only just entering his thirties now. A child prodigy, tbqh.

Meet Justine Dutton, former four-star eventer, Grand Prix show jumper, pony-dealing impresario, and all around badass babe. She’s the focus of the new WEC Ocala Spotlight after winning the $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix with Everse W. We love to see it.

Want to help the University of Kentucky conduct game changing research into horse transport? Fill out their survey by April 1 to help them find out how horses across America get from point A to point B.

The FutureTrack Follow:

 

I’d consider this incredible, emotive shot by Chelsea Spear the photo of the weekend from Bruce’s Field, and this talented tog — who has worked under industry hotshot Erin Gilmore, so you know she’s good! — has lots more where that came from. Give her a follow to add some more eventing (and hunter-jumper!) imagery to your feed.

Morning Viewing:

Get the inside look at a day in the life of a talented junior eventer in the UK – and Ellie Fredericks is the daughter of Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks, no less!

Friday Video from SmartPak: Learn Chinese with Alex Hua Tian

China’s first Olympic eventer Alex Hua Tian isn’t just one of the world’s foremost competitors – he’s also a great ambassador for developing the sport in the nation he represents, and he works tirelessly to create fruitful links between the equestrian industries in China and the UK, where he’s based.

In this promotional video for Chinese Language Day, he shares some of his story so far and his experiences navigating his mixed heritage. Plus, you’ll learn some Chinese tongue-twisters (and perhaps get inspired to give the language a go for yourself!).

Go (Chinese) eventing!

Ramping back up into full work for the spring? SmartPak has everything you need to make the transition back to show season. Click here for more.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: An Eventer Goes Reining

After his exploits nearly eating dirt over his first cross-country fences of the year, Swedish 4* eventer Pontus Hugosson is back – and this time, he’s trying out something totally outside his comfort zone. Join him as he heads to one of Sweden’s premier Western riding centres (yes, really!) to ride a particularly ‘meritorious’ Quarter Horse and find out how the sport is growing in Scandinavia. Along the way, he stops off at a saloon and we all learn that ‘bling bling’ is the same in Sweden, so it’s an educational video all ’round, really.

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FEI Opts to Ban Russian and Belarusian Athletes from Competition

Just a matter of days after announcing the cessation of all FEI competition held in Russia or Belarus, its vassal state in the invasion of Ukraine, the FEI has now officially announced that athletes, horses, and officials registered as being from either country will not be able to participate in FEI competitions in any country. This announcement comes seven days into Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which is estimated to have killed several thousand civilians so far in the Eastern European country.

This Emergency Board Resolution calls upon Article 20.3 in the FEI Statutes, a seldom-used piece of governance that states: In an Emergency Situation the Board may, by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of votes cast, pass Resolutions which are normally the prerogatives of the General Assembly. In such cases, the National Federations shall be notified promptly of these measures. If a majority of the National Federations eligible to vote, responding within thirty (30) days of the date of the notice, signifies its disapproval, the measure shall be rescinded if possible.

The ban on Russian and Belarusian representatives also stretches to a ban on Russian or Belarusian flags and anthems being displayed or played at FEI events.

The prohibition will come into effect as of midnight, Central European Time, on Sunday, March 6th, so as not to cause any disruption to any FEI competitions ongoing or about to begin. The ban, which was recommended by the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board on 28 February, represents the FEI’s condemnation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and no date for further review has been mentioned at present.

“It is regrettable that the FEI has needed to take such severe measures, but we need to ensure the safety, integrity and fairness of FEI Competitions during these difficult times,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “We sincerely hope that a peaceful solution can be found as soon as possible.”

The FEI now joins a growing list of major sporting governing bodies that have opted to ban Russia and Belarus, including the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), World Curling, and the International Skating Union. Curiously, the Winter Paralympic Games, which begin this week, will still allow Russian and Belarusian athletes, though they’ll compete under a neutral Olympic flag and won’t be counted in any medal tallies.

“The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war,” says the IOC. “At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination.

“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.”

 

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

Oliver Townend celebrates his third consecutive Kentucky win. Will he make it four in 2022? Photo by Shelby Allen.

Happy Kentucky Entries Day! I’ll tell you something for nothing – in all the madness of the last week or so, watching riders’ giddy social media posts about submitting Badminton entries has really cheered me up. And now we’ll have double the fun, because LRK3DE entries have officially opened and we can start the countdown to next month and the #BestWeekendAllYear! 

If you’re planning to head to the Bluegrass State this year, today is a great day to secure your tickets, too, because tomorrow is the last day to get advanced entry prices. Save money now, spend it later at the trade village. It’s only right.

Events Opening Today: Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day EventSpring Bay H.T.Longleaf Pine H.T.FENCE H.T.Fair Hill International April H.T. & CCI-STwin Rivers Spring International

Events Closing Today: Pine Top Spring H.T.Copper Meadows Eventing, LLC H.T.Ocala Winter II H.T.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

Spending too much time stressing about perfecting your position? Don’t – because the perfect position doesn’t exist. Showjumper Karl Cook explains the fundamentals of form vs function – and why the US system tends to emphasize the former at the expense of the latter.

Inmates at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center are benefitting from an extraordinary program. In working with mustangs, they not only give their horses a second chance at life, they also undergo a multifaceted process of rehabilitation themselves. “This is biggest relationship essentially I have here in prison, so I come out here and she relies on me and I rely on her every day,” says one inmate in the program.

The European Equestrian Federation has released a treatise on social license after eventing’s most recent foray into the mainstream media. The piece makes some salient points about how our sport is seen from the outside and why the perspective of a non-horsey viewer is so, so important.

I feel like all of us live in low-ebb fear of ulcers. Horse a bit girthy? You’re already pricing up a scope. Kicking out against your leg? GastroGard costs how much again? Rather than living in fear, learn to spot the signs of gastric ulcers with this useful guide from The Horse. (And then maybe consider taking out an insurance policy in case your horse does require expensive treatment for any ailments in the future!)

USEA has released a clarification for its new Novice B test. If you’re planning to compete at the level this season, be sure to check out the change, which adds some specificity to the walk.

With EHV-1 once again rearing its head at major horse shows, there’s no better time to brush up on your biosecurity practises and intel. Learn how to keep your horse safe from contagious nasties with this handy how-to primer.

Listen to this: Ryan Wood has reliably delivered the goods year-in and year-out, consistently racking up the most cross-country clears of any USEA competitor in a season. Check out his recent stint on the USEA Podcast here and find out how he manages it.

Video Break:

We love Nissan’s commitment to honouring Black entrepreneurs – and we particularly love this insight into Brittney Chambers’s brilliant riding program that emphasises positive mental health.

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

I’ll admit that it feels quite odd and backwards to be pulling together dressage tips and horse show news for today’s round-up, considering everything else that’s going in the world right now. But on the other hand, there’s a part of me that thinks, ‘enjoy this – enjoy the normal stuff, the trivial things, because they might not be around forever.’ Is that a doom-and-gloom way of looking at things? I don’t think so; I think the conflict in Ukraine has been a sharp reminder of how shaky the ground our societies are built upon really is.

I don’t pretend to know the best way to deal with it all, but the balance I’ve settled on here is to engage as much as possible by learning everything I can, donating what I’m able to, and lobbying my own MP and Parliament to allow a safe passage for refugees, which is something I’ve always believed in wholeheartedly. Alongside that, I’m not going to disregard the little things, good or bad, in my own life, because as human beings, we’re all capable of emotional multitasking. I will, however, make space for perspective.

If you, too, want to contribute in some way to the ongoing war efforts in Ukraine, or the safe evacuation of its civilians, here is a useful list of resources to guide you. Many Ukrainians are fleeing with pets, and there are efforts being made to move horses out of the country, too. For a list of charities aiding in these efforts, click here.

National Holiday: It’s Taiwanese Peace Memorial Day today. This holiday serves as a somber reminder of the huge loss of life in the country in 1947 after a civilian uprising against the Chinese government. Up to an estimated 28,000 people were killed in a violent suppression by the National Revolutionary Army, and for 38 years thereafter, Taiwan would live within the iron shackles of martial law in a period known as the White Terror. In today’s political climate, it’s a useful moment in history to learn about.

Black History Bit of the Day: Some modern history in the spotlight today, this time courtesy of the Hatley family from Texas. The first Black family to race Quarter Horses in their state, they’ve recently picked up their first win with a striking stallion aptly named Black Lives Matter. “With all the police brutality and awareness of Black Lives Matter movement, I think it was the best time ever to keep it going so it would never, ever be forgotten,” Keelronn Hatley said. “To see it printed out, and hear it called was like, ‘Okay, we really in business now.”

U.S. Weekend (and Wednesday!) Action:

Pine Top Advanced H.T. [Website] [Results]

Three Lakes Winter II at Caudle Ranch [Website] [Results]

Full Gallop Farm Mid February H.T. [Website] [Ride Times]

Your Monday Reading List:

It’s training crunch time as the start of the season (in Europe, anyway!) draws ever closer. Get your head in the game – and nab some inspiration for your flatwork – with this look back at the International Eventing Forum in 2020, where dressage rider and trainer Adam Kemp shared his insights.

Karen Bartlett, part-owner of Laura Collett’s London 52, has seen many of her dreams come true over the last few seasons. She shares her incredible experiences with British Eventing Life.

Exciting news for young showjumpers as the Youth Olympic Games, rescheduled for 2026, has a worthy interim competition for this year. The Youth Equestrian Games will be structured around the same principles as the Youth Olympics, and will see the participants compete on unfamiliar horses after a three-day training period. 30 nations will take place in this historic competition, which will be held during CHIO Aachen from June 28 to July 3, and we’re excited to see the first-time participation of six nations, including Palestine.

Exciting Opportunity of the Day: Are you an FEI jumping or dressage steward (minimum Level 1), and keen to gain experience at a championship event? The Pony European Championships in Strzegom, Poland is looking for stewards for its dressage, showjumping, and eventing competitions this summer. Email [email protected] for more information.

The FutureTrack Follow:

Australian CCI5* winner Hazel Shannon is making a strong bid for an exciting 2022 season in the Northern Hemisphere, basing herself with fellow Aussie expats Kevin and Emma McNab in the UK. Give her a follow and join in with the adventure!
Morning Viewing:

Prepare for early-season cross-country schooling with help from Piggy March!

Friday Video from SmartPak: Out on Course with the Paris 2024 Designer

There’s been a major announcement on the airwaves ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will see the equestrian disciplines unfold at the stunning Palace of Versailles. Pierre le Goupil, best known for designing and building tracks at Le Grand Complet at Haras du Pin, will take on the coveted role of course designer at the Games – and that’s been an announcement that’s left more than a few fans of the sport puzzling over where they might have come across this prolific designer.

The former Olympian has designed in a number of developing eventing nations, including Brazil, Bulgaria, Belarus, China, Hungary, India, Japan, Russia and Chile, and he’s also been appointed the role of designer at the 2023 Pan-American Games and European Championships, which will be a brilliant opportunity for all of us to get a better idea of the kind of track he likes to build.

But for those of us who aren’t quite so patient, rejoice: the Nations Cup at Le Grand Complet has been filmed in its entirety by FEI TV/Clip My Horse, and I spent this evening rewatching it with beady eyes to try to get a sense of the man who’ll be at the forefront of everyone’s minds in a couple of short years. Rewind to 2019 (would that we could!) and enjoy wall-to-wall le Goupil action from the heart of Normandy – you can thank us when you’re collecting your medals.

Ramping back up into full work for the spring? SmartPak has everything you need to make the transition back to show season. Click here for more.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Join the OTTB Journey – UK Style!

I am, without apology, a ride-or-die Thoroughbred enthusiast. When I was very small and going to the local riding stable whenever funds allowed, there was one Thoroughbred gelding there, owned and ridden by the stable’s yard manager – and to me, that meant that riding a horse like that meant you’d really earned your stripes in the saddle. My admiration for these special horses only grew when, sometime that summer, I was playing with my model horses in the sunshine outside my house and saw a smiling woman hacking down the road on a leggy, elegant, Munnings-esque stamp of a gelding. Decorum be damned; I dropped my plastic ponies and wandered out into the road, begging to be allowed a golden opportunity to stroke her perfect horse. She did me one better.

“Is your mummy inside?” she asked. I nodded. “Can you go get her?”

I did, dragging her away from something that was likely considerably more important, but thank god: when we got outside, the woman had dismounted from her perfect, wonderful, magical gelding and was letting him pick away at the little pitch of grass in front of our humble abode.

“Would it be okay for your daughter to have a sit on him?” she asked. My mother – who was never able to afford to let me ride, not really, not in the way I know she’d have liked to – gave her blessing. With one quick hoist, I was blissfully high up, my chubby little fists proudly holding the reins correctly between my ring and little fingers, as I’d been taught on those rare trips to the stables, and that kindest of ladies was telling me all about the horse’s previous career as a racehorse as she led me in a little circle around the lane. And you know what? Thoroughbreds – and particularly ex-racehorses – have never lost any of the magic they held for me back then, when one lovely neighbour and one sweet-natured gelding gave me a spark of hope that horses could be a part of my life.

I know I’m not alone in finding something extra-special in ex-racehorses, and so I was delighted to see that British vlogger Lucy Robinson of FootLuce Eventing‘s newest project is a particularly smart stamp of a Flat horse called Ember. I suspect we’ll see him putting some exciting results on the board out eventing pretty soon, but for now, it’s a pleasure to tune in for the early parts of the journey. And yes, it’s totally okay to fall in love.

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The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

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Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

 

 

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I truly believe that if heaven exists, it’s probably quite a lot like a Monday at a winter circuit horse show – a day off to enjoy the sun and the sand, safe in the knowledge that you’re only ever a mere smattering of hours away from the next trip through the in gate. The Price family definitely seem to be making the most of it as they tackle Europe’s Sunshine Tour, an enviable pre-season tradition for the Kiwi superstars.

Events Opening Today: USEA MDHT FEH/YEH/NEH QualifierCDCTA Spring H.T.Pine Hill Spring H.T.The Fork at TIECChattahoochee Hills International

Events Closing Today: SAzEA Spring H.T.Southern Pines H.T.Full Gallop Farm March I H.T.Meadowcreek Park-The Spring Social EventRed Hills International H.T.

Black History Bit of the Day: We love it when equestrians make it into mainstream media, and when those equestrians are helping to shape the industry and make it a more inclusive space, we’re even more excited. ELLE’s profile of Shaquilla Blake might only count as very recent history, but we’re big fans of this changemaker, who’s been a valuable conduit for the voices of so many riders over the past few years. 

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

An outbreak of EHV-1 in California has led to the cancellation of two shows, in a situation that feels eerily similar to the one in Southern Europe last year. One horse has been euthanised so far, and three of the eight cases have shown neurological symptoms. More on this story here.

With the Paris Olympics just a mere two and a half years away, the FEI is taking a closer look at France’s contribution to equestrian sport. And yes, they do go a bit deeper than just sharing multiple black-and-white portraits of Maxime Livio, as we might be tempted to do.

In the wake of an inconclusive autopsy on the racehorse Medina Spirit, the horse’s Kentucky Derby victory of last year has been posthumously revoked. Trainer Bob Baffert has also been banned for 90 days and served a $7,500 fine for contravention of equine drug-testing policies.

Fancy heading to Rebecca Farm to contest the CCI3*-L or CCI4*-L this year? Thanks to a new grant from Ocala Horse Properties and US Eventing, you could get some serious help to do so – as long as you’re a resident of Areas I, II, III, or VIII. Find out how to apply here.

Video Break:

What a round! What a horse! What a… oh. Click here to watch.

Also, some Thoroughbred Makeover stats:

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack


It’s Monday morning, and as such, there’s not a thought being thunk in this pretty little head – except this video from Lauren Nicholson, which has been playing on a loop in my one remaining brain cell ever since she posted it. May you all have a day that’s more well-behaved-horse-popping-cavaletti and less rogue-hellbeast-gatecrashing-the-party. I mean, unless that’s the vibe you’re into.

National Holiday: If you’re an Arkansan, you likely know that today is Daisy Gatson Bates Day, which celebrates the work of this incredible civil rights activist, who played a huge role in the integration of Little Rock central High School in 1957. After losing her mother in a racist attack when she was just three years old, Daisy grew up fast and dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of Black folks – and by the age of 15, she was the founder, editor, and a contributing writer of The Arkansas Weekly, a paper that focused on amplifying the voices of Black people around the country and advancing civil rights. What a woman.

Black History Bit of the Day:

US Weekend Action:

Jumping Branch Farm H.T. (Aiken, Sc.): [Website] [Results]

Ram Tap Horse Park H.T. (Fresno, Ca.): [Website] [Results]

Rocking Horse Winter II Advanced H.T. (Altoona, Fl.): [Website] [Results]

Stable View Young Event Horse Qualifier & Eventing Academy Schooling Show (Aiken, Sc.): [Website]

Your Monday Reading List:

The latest in the ongoing Sir Mark Todd kerfuffle: another spectator from the clinic in question, this time a trainer, has stepped forward to share his account of events with the British Horseracing Association, the governing body that has temporarily suspended Todd’s training license as investigations into the footage continue on apace.

Ever fancied winning some money for being a spectator? That’s what Michael Cruciotti, creator of Jump Clear Fantasy, is aiming for. Built as a way to attract outsiders to the sport of showjumping, the fantasy league offers you the chance to predict class results and claim real cash prizes. Count me in.

More and more frequently, we see the term ‘GOAT’ bandied about as a way to describe a sportsperson who exists on the topmost echelon of their industry. But are we using the term too freely? And could the moniker actually have a negative impact on sporting performance? Laura Lemon considers both sides of the cin in this think piece.

Mongolia and Kazakhstan are the home of all things horse, with the first evidence of domestication coming from these Asian countries. Now, new research into these nomadic peoples suggests that climate change was the root cause of their expansion from the steppes into the rest of Asia and Europe – a movement that heralded significant global changes and power shifts.

The FutureTrack Follow:

 

 

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A post shared by Black Equestrians (@blackequestrians)

The Black Equestrians account doesn’t just celebrate the history-making Black riders of the past, it shouts from the rooftops about those making waves today across the disciplines. Give them a follow for some seriously supportive communal vibes and some brilliant new riders to support.

Morning Viewing:

Tegan Vincent Cook has one goal in mind: the 2024 Games in Paris. But for this talented young rider with cerebral palsy, it’s the Paralympics that has her attention – and in this emotive short documentary, which was funded through the Netflix Documentary Talent Fund, you can follow part of her journey to put the pieces together and give herself a golden opportunity.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Cross-Country, But Make It Chaotic (and Swedish!)

They say that misery loves company, and for that reason, I think we’re all inclined to gravitate towards videos of other riders dealing with incredibly fresh horses in the winter. Of course, gold medallist London 52 is the best-known sky dancer with Laura Collett giggling away in the irons, but Swedish eventer Pontus Hugosson gives them a jolly good run for their money in his latest vlog. Following an indoor cross-country clinic, he decides to put his horse Sune through his paces – and some serious shenanigans follow. You’ll also get to watch him give recently backed four-year-old Hot Ninetta her first jump, which is always a great educational watch.

If nothing else, I feel much better about having to get back on my rehabbing eventer today. After all, all you’ve got to do is grab a little mane and keep smiling (oh, and do a kick flip if you do hit the deck, apparently).

JointWise™. Developed for equine athletes like yours.

In this modern era, horses are living and performing well into their 20s and 30s. The maintenance of ample lubrication and durable articular surfaces within the joints is necessary to ensure long-term soundness and exceptional performance. Horses of all ages can benefit from the support of JointWise, a complete joint supplement.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

KPPvet.com

Moving On Up: Checking in with Stable View’s Eventing Academy

A new arena at Stable View will be open for use by the Eventing Academy participants this week. Photo courtesy of SV FB.

We’re big fans of Stable View‘s Eventing Academy, which promises to take your winter training to the next level and, to be honest, kind of makes all of us here at Team EN want to pack our bags and our horses and head to Aiken for the winter. This super series combines great opportunities to work on all three phases over a couple of training days, plus a schooling horse trials on the final day with over $20,000 of prizes up for grabs over the course of the year.

With just one EA event in the books so far, we’ve got a leaderboard that’s currently one big dead heat – so the points picked up this week will be highly valuable to those who got their names on there early. Here’s how it’s looking at the moment:

Can we just say that we love Kaitlin Clark’s style? That’s a show name we can seriously get behind. Further (unofficial, EN-only) points go to London Wilde’s UnBEARable Without You. Really excellent stuff.

The next Academy weekender begins tomorrow with a packed day of cross-country schooling over Stable View’s expansive course. But that’s far from the only thing on offer: Saturday is the EA Schooling Day, which gives you a chance to practice any or all of the three phases, and Sunday sees the EA Schooling Horse Trials take place, with lots more valuable points to be won. Friday and Saturday evenings are devoted to the Graze and Gaze social events from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. As always, Sparky Photography will be on site to snap those highly-covetable shots of your pride and joy, while the riders’ lounges are open and fully-stocked for post-ride snackage. R&L Vending will be providing on-site catering, too, and you can get yourself a golf cart as needed from The Golf Cart Lady.

Here’s a little taste of what you can expect if you take part in the Eventing Academy:

 

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Haven’t nabbed your spot for this week’s Academy yet? There are still some places open for non-competing horses – but don’t wait to book, as the final closing date is the 18th of February. You can get involved here, or check out the full 2022 schedule to plan your season at Stable View!

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

How cool is this clip, filmed by Sara Kozumplik Murphy? It shows FEI judge Peter Gray giving the five-star B test a ride through – a great way to get a fully-rounded sense of how each movement needs to flow into the next one, for sure, but not one we’re often privy to see. Thanks for sharing this super learning moment, Sara!

Events Opening Today: Morven Park Spring H.T.Rocking Horse Spring H.T.Stable View Spring 2/3/4*

Events Closing Today: Sporting Days Farm March H.T. IIChattahoochee Hills H.T.Rocking Horse Winter III H.T.Twin Rivers Winter H.T.Full Gallop Farm March Wednesday H.T.

Black History Bit of the Day: Meet five of the Black cowboys who shaped the west – and had a major influence on early American horsemanship.

Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:

Fancy experiencing the thrill of steeplechase and the quiet buzz of roads and tracks this year? USEA has released its 2022 roster of Classic events, with plenty of opportunities for competitors from Beginner Novice to Preliminary to try their hand at the long-format.

Sir Mark Todd has stepped down from his role as patron of the charity World Horse Welfare. This move comes in the wake of significant backlash following the release of a viral video that shows him hitting a horse with a tree branch during a clinic two years ago.

Ever thought you might be past the age threshold for achieving equestrian success? Meet 85-year-old Zoe Harrison, who’s just received honours from Australia for her significant contributions to the sport of dressage. You can read more about her fascinating story here.

Even if you’re not a racing fan, you’ll know the name Red Rum. The iconic three-time Grand National winner is one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time, undoubtedly – but how did trainer Ginger McCain first find the horse? Turns out that’s a pretty good tale, too.

And finally, meet Johnie Bravo, a Navajo Nation pony who’s taking the world of eventing by storm. What an absolute little dude.

Video Break:

Get the latest from Elisa Wallace, including a bittersweet goodbye to Munson Slew:

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack


Happy Valentine’s Day, you lovely lot! I’m a horrendous commitmentphobe, so this isn’t my holiday of choice, but I’m going to use it as a great excuse to give my mare Bella (currently the world’s most adorable pasture pet as we deal with a bit of a mystery lameness) a lot of smooches and Stud Muffins today. I love this roundup of images by Hannah Cole, showing some of the stars of British eventing doing much the same thing.

National Holiday: If you want to skip the aforementioned, it’s also International Book Giving Day — and as a total bookworm, I’m SO into this. Give your single barn friends a copy of Jilly Cooper’s seminal bonkbuster Riders to get them through the lovefest.

Black History Bit of the Day: What’s it actually like being the only Black rider in a yard? Here, several athletes share their experiences across the disciplines.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Full Gallop Farm February I H.T. (Aiken, Sc.): [Website] [Live Scores]

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

Pine Top Intermediate H.T. (Thomson, Ga.): [Website] [Results]

Global Eventing Roundup:

Just one FEI event took place over the weekend, and that’s a CCI2*-L in Bangalore, India, that’s been a hard-won fixture for the country’s riders ahead of this autumn’s Asian Games. This selection trial was originally scheduled for last month, but was downgraded to a CCI1* after concerns from the FEI over ‘alarming’ completion rates at December’s Delhi qualifier. Concerns sited included “insufficient level of preparation of the Indian athletes” and “lack of cross-country awareness of the riders”. Just 12 of that event’s 41 starters completed, though an improvement in preparations and national-level minimum eligibility requirements re-opened the door for the event to host its two-star qualifier this month. Though it’s no doubt disheartening for athletes and officials to have received the initial downgrading, it’s ultimately a constructive step for the sport in this developing nation, which received a great boost last summer when Fouaad Mirza impressed at the Tokyo Olympics. By putting an emphasis on safety, technique, and proper training at these early stages, Indian eventing can begin to climb the global sporting ladder and create further pipelines for its athletes.

Your Monday Reading List:

The 2022 edition of the Gaucho Derby across Patagonia is about to begin! Click here to meet the intrepid group of riders from around the world who’ll be taking on this extraordinary challenge, which will see them cross some of the world’s most challenging and beautiful terrain.

An amateur rider who suffered a terrifying — and life-altering — freak injury is calling for increased compassion in the horse community. After fighting her way back from an exploded vertebrae that saw her lose feeling in much of her lower body, and function in her bladder and bowels, Jennie Sharpe was horrified to overhear nasty comments about her weight from the ringside before heading in to jump a round at an international. Undeterred, the hard-as-nails rider has become an ambassador for her condition and hopes to help other struck by cauda equina.

Ready to master corner fences? British 5* eventer Eliza Stoddart brings you plenty of tips to take the fear out of these common cross-country questions — starting in your arena.

We’re all about maximising time out in the field for horses – and a new study from Centenary University suggests that horses who spend half their time in the field are actually significantly less prone to soft-tissue injuries, making the argument that “I’m keeping my horse inside so he doesn’t hurt himself” a pretty baseless one after all.

It’s insane to me that we’re only just starting to really put scientific research behind the female anatomy as it correlates to riding. Just a couple of years ago, I covered a study being done at a university in the UK, which measured chest movement in riders and worked towards creating a more functional sports bra. In the twenty-teens! But while we do tend to lag behind as a sport, where research is concerned anyway, I’m glad to see it happening — and this Polish study on the effects of riding on the pelvic floor is another positive step, I think.

The FutureTrack Follow:

Skip the Hallmark cards – I’ll be your Valentine if you send me one of these cheery little numbers from Mare Goods. SO cute.

Morning Viewing:

Ever wanted to train with the legendary Lucinda? Here’s an insight into what the experience is like, with 4* eventer Ashley Harrison.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Cross-Country Schooling – Minus the Rider

The concept of cross-country schooling on the lunge isn’t a particularly new one – you can see it in action in just about every sales video of a young horse from Ireland, and even superstars such as Michael Jung have been known to don some wellies and get comfortable in the water jump as their up-and-comers figure out their footwork around them. It’s a great way to encourage natural balance and cleverness, while building a horse’s confidence — and so British YouTuber Meg Elphick decided to give it a go with her six-year-old mare Dora. Find out how they got on, and still some training inspiration for your own horse, in her latest update.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Connie Pride with Allie Sacksen

There are some horses that just capture all our hearts collectively as they skip around the top-level events, and Allie Sacksen‘s late, great Sparrow’s Nio was one of those wonderful unifiers. Small, tough, and determined, he made everything about his job look like jolly good fun, and we’d be lying to you if we said we hadn’t been daydreaming about a Connemara pony of our own since then.

“Nio took me places that I could never have dreamed of as a little girl, not because he was the biggest or fanciest horse but because he truly loved what he did and always tried his hardest for me. If you want a heart horse, a Connemara will give you all they have and even a little more,” says Allie in conversation with US Equestrian, who’ve rereleased this video of Nio’s 2019 Kentucky round for us all to get inspired by all over again.

Go eventing, and Go Ponies!

JointWise™. Developed for equine athletes like yours.

In this modern era, horses are living and performing well into their 20s and 30s. The maintenance of ample lubrication and durable articular surfaces within the joints is necessary to ensure long-term soundness and exceptional performance. Horses of all ages can benefit from the support of JointWise, a complete joint supplement.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

KPPvet.com

When in Rome: 9 Places to Stay for the World Championships

My travel-hungry little brain has been living for Leslie Wylie’s AirBNB roundups this week – I’ve now picked my pad of choice for trips to Ocala, Aiken, and Tryon that I don’t even actually have in my diary, because she’s such a dab hand at picking out the gems. But if Leslie is a pro at AirBNB-ing America, I’m going to claim the honour of being the queen of European hotel booking. In my years as EN’s British and European correspondent, I’ve blagged my way into chateaus in the Loire Valley, balconies overlooking Swiss lakes, and cozy English hotels that provide you with your very own rubber duckie for bath time. (I’ve also stayed in what I’m absolutely certain was a crack den for a whole £10 per night, but that was early in my career and I was rather more avant-garde about my booking methods. A learning curve, if you will.)

I love nothing more than hunting out my next haunt abroad – and because I got a head start on this year’s World Championships and pre-booked a party villa that’ll likely end up housing all of the equestrian media at this rate, I’ve got a bit of spare time to help you find your perfect (and exceptionally well-reviewed!) spot for your trip to Italy this September. You can thank me with an Aperol at the VIP bar.

First things first — when are we going? The World Championships run from September 14-18 this year.

And where is it, again? Pratoni del Vivaro is situated in Rocca di Papa, which is about 45 minutes south-east of central Rome and about 30 minutes south-east of Ciampino Airport.

What else is nearby? A couple of jolly good lakes. Lago Albino and Lago di Nemi are popular spots to cool down on hot days, and Lago Albino even has its own volcano.

Okay — but how hot are we talking? Pretty much perfect for Rome, actually. The humidity lessens a bit in September and you can expect dry, sunny days between the mid-70s and low 80s, with cool evenings that are perfect for dinners outside.

Cool. But before I book a place to stay, I probably need a ticket. You probably do, yes. Here you go.

All the hotels and AirBNBs listed below have vacancy during the World Championships at the time of posting. Prices represent a stay from Wednesday — that’s trot-up and opening ceremony day — with a Monday checkout. 

FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LAKE LIFE

Photo via booking.com.

Hotel Castel Gandolfo

Sleeps: Four

Price for five nights: $1,405 (or $351 per person)

There aren’t many rules I stick to in life, but this is one I take very seriously: if you’re staying near a body of water, you simply must book a place with a balcony. This sweet two-bedroom apartment offers just that, giving you the chance to enjoy some quality time by Lago Albino while remaining in close proximity to the event itself. You’ll enjoy a view of the lake from the apartment itself, as well as access to this stunning terrace, equipped with a hot tub, dining area, and apparently a ‘spa corner’. It’s in the historic part of this pretty town and close to the Pope’s summer home, so you know you’ll be guaranteed a dreamy spot. You’ll also get discounted rates at the local country club, so get those massages and facials booked in stat.

Photo via vrbo.com.

Cozy Refuge In Genzano Historic City Center

Sleeps: Four

Price for five nights: $443 for two guests, up to $675 for four (that’s just $169 per person!)

I’m obsessed with the rooftop views from this sweet, historic apartment, which has one bedroom and a double sofa bed. In fact, the entire village it’s in is medieval and gorgeous, with picture postcard views and, of course, the sparkling expanse of Lake Nemi to its credit. This is the kind of place you can live your best Italian life: head out in the morning and buy your vegetables from the friendly local greengrocer, Virgilio, who’s got as many jokes as he has tomatoes, or visit Juri at the local seafood spot for a special discount. You’ll feel like a local all week.

FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET

Photo via booking.com.

Sole Mio Loft

Sleeps: Four

Price for five nights: $744 (or $186 per person)

I love this as a cheap and cheerful option for a group of friends – it’s just a 20 minute drive from the event and it’s got everything you need, including a pool, a lovely terraced dining area, your own private kitchen for late-night snackage, and that all-important AC. It’s in a pretty, historic-looking building and the owners get lots of nods in the reviews for being incredibly kind and welcoming – plus, they’ll provide breakfast to fuel you up before each day of adventuring.

Photo via booking.com.

Casale Colleoni

Sleeps: Two

Price for five nights: From $595 for a twin; $766 for a double (or $297.50/$383 per person)

This guest house in Tivoli feels old in all the right ways – like the sultry scenes of Italian getaways in Normal People or Call Me By Your Name. If you want to pair your eventing with some countryside bike rides, covert kisses amidst the Cyprus trees, and, um, some snuggles with the resident donkey, this gorgeous spot has all the ingredients to give you a bit of a fairytale experience. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Pratoni, but you’ll be just a matter of steps away from Hadrian’s Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an absolute must-see on your trip. Reviews describe this as an idyllic spot, and we totally get that.

Photo via booking.com.

Travelershome Ciampino B&B

Sleeps: Up to four

Price for five nights: $175 if a single traveller; from $530 for four people (or $133 per person)

Flying into Ciampino? Then this easy option will make your life very simple indeed — it’s just three miles from the airport, and a 30 minute drive from Pratoni. It’s also mind-blowingly cheap despite its glowing 9.1 rating, so if you’re coming with a pal, a partner, or just flying solo for a bargain trip to the biggest event of the year, you’ll be able to save all your pennies for pizza and tradestand-raiding. Okay, so it’s not the most inspiring setting – your views will include a perfectly nice, but reasonably modern, suburban neighbourhood, and the decor is a little bit like a sugared-up teenager from 2005 has been let loose in IKEA, but the reviews are super, the place is clean and well-equipped, and as far as a bargain option goes, it’s pretty sweet.

FOR CITY-BREAK STAYS

Photo via booking.com.

Hotel Splendide Royale

Sleeps: Two

Price for five nights: From $3,215, depending on the options you choose

If you’re staying here, I expect an invite to dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant on site. Talk about doing a championships properly: this place will go down in history as one of your most memorable eventing stays, I reckon. The hotel is housed in a 19th-century monastery next to the stunning Villa Borghese (itself home to a major horse show) and just a few minutes’ walk away from the iconic Fontana de Trevi and the heart of historic Rome. It’s not a cheap stay, mind you, but if this is a treat yo’self sort of trip for you, you could certainly do worse than this beautiful spot. Those views of the city that you’ll be treated to while you dine? Guaranteed to blow your Insta feed up.

Photo via booking.com.

Vatican Studio Apartment

Sleeps: Two

Price for five nights: $794 (or $397 per person)

This gorgeous studio offers you plenty of options — it has a large double bed and a sofa bed, so while the booking suggests it’s a two-person spot, I reckon you can get two more pals in there and make it a real bargain for what it is. (You’ll need to be pretty comfortable with one another, though – there don’t appear to be many doors within the place!) Just ten minutes from St Peter’s Square, the threshold of the Vatican, this all-in-one booking gives you the ease and convenience of a private kitchen, which can make your trip a whole lot cheaper and gives you a great excuse to raid some of those early-morning markets to get fresh ingredients. Is there anything more Italian, really? I’m not sure what I love more – that gorgeous old entryway, the archway in the studio, or the proximity to everything you might want to explore in this incredible city.

Photo via booking.com.

Nikis Collection Navona

Sleeps: Two in a double or up to five in an executive suite

Price for five nights: From $710 for a double; $1341 for a suite with five guests (or $268 per person)

Okay, so staying in the heart of Rome means you could be looking at an hour long commute into the event each day, but when you consider you’ll be within walking distance of the Pantheon and nestled in next to the River Tiber, it all starts to feel as though it might be worth it. I love the idea of getting a group of five horse-mad gal pals together and going eventing all day and partying all night – and the best thing about this place is that its sun-trap terrace will be the perfect spot to sweat out any remaining hangover before you go back to do it all again. The location of this place is a solid 10, and if you go for a suite, you’ll get a kitchen of your own too – ideal for stashing extra bottles of the good stuff.

And finally…

FOR THOSE WITH A LOT OF FRIENDS

Photo via vrbo.com.

Villa dei Castelli

Sleeps: Up to fourteen in seven bedrooms

Price for five nights: $3,248 if you’re bringing 14 people – that works out to $232 per person

Ever fancied running away with all your horsey pals and just totally living the villa dream for a week? This surprisingly affordable place is exactly what you need. Located in Rocca di Papa, just a stone’s throw from the event, it features seven bedrooms and five bathrooms over three floors, with a massive balcony, a huge amount of garden space to go bonkers in, and a living room/second kitchen/party zone on the top floor for end-of-day debriefs about who nailed their changes. You probably won’t need it, but there’s even a fireplace up there if the evenings start to get chilly. If you’re all sick of one another, though, don’t worry — there’s another living area and kitchen on the bottom floor, so there’s plenty of space for everyone to decompress. You’re totally in your own oasis here, so stick those Bluetooth speakers on and make the most of it.

A Roman Holiday: Box Office Opens for the Pratoni World Championships

From left, Padraigh McCarthy (IRL), Ros Canter (GBR) and Ingrid Klimke (GER) at Tryon in 2018. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Picture it now: it’s mid-September on the outskirts of Rome. The sultry sun is prowling its way across the sky; the air smells faintly of pasta and Aperol; a single bead of sweat glimmers on your forehead as your peer through oversized sunglasses at Michael Jung as he picks his way through a corner complex. You’re fuelled wholly by quality carbs and Italianate day-drinking, and if anyone were to ask, you’d tell them honestly — and hazily — that you’ve probably never been happier. Later on, you’re planning to cool down from a day of top-notch eventing action by climbing into the Trevi fountain and recreating that iconic scene from La Dolce Vita, but for now, this is the only place you’d like to be: Pratoni del Vivaro, surrounded by the world’s very best eventers.

If this all sounds right up your street, you’ll be delighted to hear that Pratoni opened its box office today — and while the ticket pricing has had us all scratching our heads a bit, there are some super deals to be had. For weeklong visitors, you can get a season pass for as little as €96 (or $110), or upgrade yourself to the VIP pavilion, which gives you upgraded parking, an exclusive bar, lounge and ‘relaxation area’, and, we presume, the chance to get a little bit closer to your heroes. That’s just €143.85 ($165) for the whole week if you use the promo code currently available on the site. Or, if you’re just hoping to pop in for a single day, you can buy day tickets for prices as low as €6.83 ($7.80) for grounds passes without reserved grandstand seating. Under-12s will be able to enjoy free tickets all week, and parking is free and serviced by a shuttle to the grounds. Check out the box office for more info and to get your passes. Of course, it’s worth noting that this year’s World Championship isn’t like the World Equestrian Games of previous cycles: instead of featuring all the disciplines in one facility, the competitions have now been split. Eventing will be followed by combined driving at Pratoni in the following week, while showjumping and dressage will be held in Herning, Denmark.

The event will run from September 14-18, and is situated in Rocca di Papa, a southern suburb of Rome. You’ll find a number of hotels and B&Bs in the immediate area, but move fast — now that the box office is open, we’re expecting to see many of these snapped up by fans and the teams themselves. Options next to the nearby lakes, Lago de Nemi and Lago Albino, look particularly promising if you want to cool down somewhere scenic after a long day of spicy eventing action, or check out hotels near Rome’s Ciampino airport, which is situated between the event and the city. If you fancy staying closer to the city itself, look in the Municipio VII area – you’ll be about a 30 minute drive from the competition and really close to the hub of Rome, which is so worth a lengthy visit. Stay tuned – we’ll share some of our favourite hotel options to help you get your trip set and sorted!