Leslie Wylie
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#EventerProblems Vol. 253: The Joy of Sweating the Small Stuff

It’s been a hot minute since our last edition of #EventerProblems, I guess because most of us have had #BiggerProblems on our hands? Speaking for myself, this past year I’ve been nostalgic for the days when the worst problem we encountered on a daily basis were thrown shoes and long spots.

Now that we’re emerging, slowly, from the hellscape that was 2020, I’m more than ready for the opportunity to sit back and sweat some small stuff — just like the good old days! (And, because we’re horse people, probably pet some sweaty stuff, too.)

Let’s get this series fired up again. We didn’t make it all the way to Vol. 253 for nothin’. Got #EventerProblems? I know you do, don’t lie! Tag ’em on Insta for inclusion in a future edition.

Pandemics come and go, but #EventerProblems are eternal. Here’s a fresh batch, just for you:

Go Eventing!

Volunteer Nation: 8 USEA-Recognized Events That Could Use Your Help This Weekend

Truly, eventing takes a village — and that village isn’t comprised entirely of eventers! We are grateful to volunteers like Dillon Nolan, above, and his fellow Life Scouts in Troop 143 for their work at Fair Hill.

Can you take some time to volunteer this weekend? Here are eight USEA recognized events that are seeking volunteers.

As always, you can earn merit points when you donate your time through the USEA’s Volunteer Incentive Program. Registering to volunteer through EventingVolunteers.com makes it easy and seamless to both find a job and shift as well as learn what your role will entail.

Majestic Oaks Recognized Horse Trials

May 10th, 2021 to May 15th, 2021

Hunt Club Farms USEA Recognized Horse Trials

May 14th, 2021 to May 15th, 2021

Winona Horse Trials

May 9th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021

Texas Rose Horse Park Summer Horse Trials

May 15th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021

Woodland Stallion Station May Horse Trials

May 13th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021

Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials 2021

May 14th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021

Go Eventing Volunteers!

Thursday Video from Cambox: Ride Around Saumur CCI2*-L Cross Country

The 35th running of the French three-day event Saumur Complet took place the last weekend of April, and Romain Barochi had his Cambox on board for CCI2*-L cross country. He and Fiestarado B, an 11-year-old Dutch gelding (Diarado x Alottie, by Carolus II) owned by Justine Roet, went clear inside the time. Seems like a neat horse — check out the view of the course between his ears!

Cambox is currently on sale for up to 30% off! Click here to score a deal.

Tuesday Video: Fresno County Intro Extravaganza

We heart our Intro competitors here at Eventing Nation — the division is a true gateway to the sport for riders and horses alike. Fresno County Horse Park H.T., which took place April 30 through May 2 in Fresno, California, hosted two Intro divisions — Introductory Rider and Open Introductory — and Ride On Video (support your event videographer!) has been posting videos. The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” is a nice touch. Here are a few from the top five in each Intro division — view complete event results here.

Katherine Jackman and Lookit Louie were 1st in Intro Rider.

Amanda Fisher and Movedbydino were 2nd in Open Intro.

Kennedy Wiklund and Galaxy Girl were 3rd in Intro Rider.

Amanda Fisher and Iron Rapped were 4th in Open Intro.

Sebastien Noel and Lou Lou Catchou were 4th in Intro Rider.

Madelyn Baasch on Wild West were 5th in Open Intro.

Go Eventing.

The Age Limit for the USEA Young Rider Program Program Is Now 25

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The window of eligibility to participate in the USEA Young Rider program has been increased to age 25, effective immediately.

From the USEA:

“The USEA Young Rider program has traditionally been available to those aged 21 and under, but the USEA Young Rider Coordinators and Committee put forward a proposal to the USEA Board of Governors, requesting the age eligibility be increased to 25 in order to fully utilize training programs and youth series that are available. The new age requirements now enable all USEA Area teams participating in the USEF Youth Team Challenge to compete for their USEA Areas and utilize the Area Young Rider funding. This will also be more inclusive to youth riders wishing to participate in the USEA Young Rider Advancement Program (YRAP) in their Areas, which may help provide additional young riders competing at the lower levels with the education and skills they need to progress through the levels of the sport.

“The USEA membership database is now accepting membership updates for those members 25 and under who wish to upgrade their membership to include the Young Rider program. For USEA members aged 22-25 who are currently enrolled in the USEA Adult Rider program, those members may pay an upgrade fee to join the USEA Young Rider program additionally. Members aged 22-25 may choose to enroll in either the USEA Adult Rider Program, or the USEA Young Rider program, or both. The age eligibility for the Adult Rider program remains the same, available to any USEA members aged 22 or older.”

The shape of Young Rider eventing has transformed dramatically over the past year, with the focus pivoting from a North American Youth Championships being the be-all end-all goal to a broader reaching, two-pronged program that opens the door for more athletes to compete in a team environment and fosters an immersion in the sport that has, too often, been halted abruptly when Young Riders age out and no longer have access to the program’s support and resources.

The two prongs:

  1. The USEF Youth Team Challenge, focused on developing riders and horses for the Championships and gaining experience in a team environment. The Team Challenge format (you can view all the 2021 dates and locations here) culminates in two bi-coastal championships:
  • West Coast Final: Adequan/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge Temecula – Nov. 3-7, 2021 – Levels: CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L – Temecula, Calif.
  • East Coast Final: Adequan/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge Tryon – November 10-14, 2021 – Levels: CCI1*, CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L – Tryon, N.C.

2. The Young Rider Advancement Program (YRAP), focused on developing riders and horses for the Championships each summer. YRAP focuses on providing lower level young riders with the education and skills they need to progress through the levels and eventually into the ranks of the Youth Team Challenge. The USEA also offers a Young Rider Mentorship Program, which gives young riders the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals.

To enroll in the USEA Young Rider program, please find the Young Rider membership application form here. Call the USEA office at 703-779-0440 should you need help with your program upgrade.

[USEA Young Rider Program: Age Increase to 25]

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2021 Canceled Due To Continued Covid-19 Uncertainty

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street take top honours at Burghley’s last running in 2019. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials will not run for the second year in a row, the event announced this morning.

From the website:

It is with immense sadness that we announce the cancellation of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2021 which was due to be held later this year from 2nd- 5th September.

Despite the continued easing of lockdown measures, the nationwide vaccination programme and the hope within the Government Roadmap for unlocking the country, there have been and remain too many variables and uncertainties due to the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver this much-loved international event.

We have, throughout the last six months, striven to find an event scenario which would allow our competitors, followers, exhibitors and contractors to enjoy this annual sporting highlight. However, the Event runs on a greenfield site; the lead time and strategic infrastructure planning all require significant investment and expenditure year on year. Staging the competition element is ongoing 365 days a year, from one year’s event to the next and the contractual cancellation procedures mean that even though restrictions are easing across the country, we have to make difficult decisions many months ahead of the event. The severe financial implications of a potential cancellation of an event of this scale and magnitude at a late stage, without available pandemic insurance, are too great to risk for all involved .

We are desperately sad for the sport of Eventing; our riders, owners and their sponsors who have been so affected by the large-scale cancellation of events over the last 12 months. Whilst this year we will not see CCI 5*L competition at Land Rover Burghley, we remain steadfast in our commitment that the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials will endure. We are particularly grateful to Land Rover, our title sponsor, who together with our other sponsors, have been so understanding and supportive throughout this period.

Miranda Rock, President of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, commented: “It is with a very heavy heart that we have come to the extremely difficult decision to cancel The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this year. The Horse Trials is an incredibly important part of what we do here at Burghley and is the highlight of the year for all those who live and work here. I am deeply sorry for everyone whose hopes have been dashed – from the equestrian world internationally to the pony clubs nationally, for the people of Stamford and our neighbouring communities, as well as our wonderful suppliers, supporters, retailers, staff and visitors who will not be able to enjoy this glorious event in September. Next year marks our 60th Anniversary and, despite the challenges ahead, we will be focusing all our efforts on delivering a spectacular event in 2022.”

Next year’s event will take place from Thursday 1st September to Sunday 4th September. Tickets will be on sale from April 2022.

Thursday Video from Cambox: Ride Around Badminton 2019 With Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan and Dunlough Striker at Badminton. Photo courtesy of Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors.

In lieu of a Badminton this year, we’ve all got to use our imaginations to get our fix. Helmet cams help with that — like this one from Ireland’s Michael Ryan and Dunlough Striker at Badminton 2019. That year, Michael and the now 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Maltstriker x Beau Rud, by Beau Royal) finished 17th, clocking 13.6 time faults around the course.

Go Eventing.

Cambox is currently on sale for up to 30% off! Click here to score a deal.

The Jon & Rick Show’s ‘Trek to Jersey Fresh’ Is a Real Trip

The Ocala contingent is out in force at Jersey Fresh International this week — and they’re doing plenty well for themselves. At a glance as of midday Thursday, the CCI4*-L scoreboard has Clayton Fredericks‘ sitting in second with FE Coldplay, Jon Holling is 3rd with Prophet, and Leslie Law in 5th with QC First Class.

Without going into too much unnecessary detail, I feel like the provinces of New Jersey and Florida have a lot in common culturally and so it makes a lot of sense that Ocalians would thrive here — they probably feel right at home. It’s like, the way Tiger King and Jersey Shore are very different but also a lot the same on some level? Jon, I too have experienced “terror that I was about to get attacked and mugged in my hotel room” by a cracked out rando (see: Wednesday video) only it was at a Motel 6 in your hometown. Anyway, have fun this week, all of you, keep the updates coming, and remember to lock that deadbolt.

The Jon & Rick Show has been documenting their “Trek” on their YouTube channel — be sure to subscribe here.

Best of luck to all this week!

Jersey Fresh International: [Website] [Entries] [Drawn Order] [Schedule] [Live Scores] [Volunteer] [Show Photographer]

Fresno County Horse Park Intermediate Photo Gallery

Fresno County Horse Park H.T. took place over the weekend and we are thrilled to report that it was a special one. Under the new ownership, the venue is getting some fresh paint and a new point of view, and we’re so happy to be sharing it with you through the lens of the talented Sherry Stewart — if you missed her Modified division “Who Jumped It Best?” earlier in the week, you can check it out here.

The 14-horse Intermediate field was topped by James Alliston and Nemesis, a 7-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding owned and ridden by James Alliston. The pair was second behind Haley Turner and Shadow Inspector until the final phase, when the leaders’ 2.4 cross country time penalties swung them into the penultimate placing. James was also third on Revitavet Calaro.

Enjoy this photo gallery from Sherry, and view the division results below!

The final scoreboard — you can view complete results here.

Who Jumped It Best? Fresno’s Inaugural Modified Division

Fresno County Horse Park H.T. took place over the weekend and we are thrilled to report that it was a special one. Under the new ownership, the venue is getting some fresh paint and a new point of view, and we’re so happy to be sharing it with you through the lens of the talented Sherry Stewart.

Let’s kick things off with photos from a brand new division, Modified! View complete results here. Check out the photos below and vote for whom you think presents the nicest general picture in the poll underneath.

Go Eventing.

Oliver Townend Leads FEI Rider Rankings Post-Kentucky; Boyd Martin Is #6

Photo by Shelby Allen.

Oliver Townend is #1 in the FEI Eventing World Athlete Rankings, updated for May 2021, with 610 points. He sits above Tim Price who is #2 with 605 points. Piggy March is #3 (556), Chris Burton is #4 (515), Tom McEwen is #5 (494), and Boyd Martin is #6 (488). The top six remain intact from the previous ranking, but there’s plenty of shuffling below that including #7 Jonelle Price who rose from #22 to #7 (452).

For the Americans, the other top 100 riders include: Lauren Nicholson in 9th (422) Phillip Dutton in 13th (386), Doug Payne in 18th (366), Tamie Smith in 27th (335), Liz Halliday-Sharp in 28th (335), Will Coleman in 38th (311), Lynn Symansky in 51st (285), Buck Davidson in 56th (277), Will Faudree in 63rd (269), Erin Kanara in 66th (266), Jennie Brannigan in 74th (251), Sydney Elliot in 85th (238), and Woods Baughman in 89th (231).

Americans in the top 200 include Caroline Martin in 101st (216), Colleen Rutledge in 121st (203), Hannah Sue Burnett in  123rd (202), Meghan O’Donoghue in 127th (200), Ariel Grald in 135th (192), Jacob Fletcher in 140th (189), Erin Kellerhouse in 142nd (188), Alexandra Knowles in 143rd (188), Hallie Coon in 153rd (181), Mia Farley in 177th (167), Sharon White in 178th (167), Kimmy Cecere in 194th (162), Alyssa Phillips in 197 (161) and Amber Levine in 199th (160).

Jessica Phoenix is the top ranked Canadian rider in 87th (232), followed by Colleen Loach in 119th (203), Karl Slezak in 152nd (182) out of the top 200.

View the complete rankings here.

Why We’re Boycotting Social Media This Weekend

English football, alongside other sports, organizations and individuals, are switching off their social media accounts from mid-afternoon today until 11.59 p.m. on Monday, May 3. Riders including William Fox-Pitt, Laura Collett, Alexander Tordoff and Eliza Stoddart have come out in support of the movement, which calls for greater accountability from social media companies to tackle hate, racism and discrimination on their platforms.

From British Equestrian:

“Equestrianism will not tolerate discrimination or abuse in any form, and we call on social media providers to make their users fully accountable for their actions and eradicate online abuse from their platforms.”

From 15:00 BST today, we will stop posting on our social media channels and we will remain silent for the duration of…

Posted by Premier League on Friday, April 30, 2021

Fox-Pitt Eventing will be uniting with the football community and other sports for a social media boycott from 15.00 on…

Posted by Fox-Pitt Eventing on Friday, April 30, 2021

ENOUGH is ENOUGH
#SocialMediaBlackOut #stoptheabuse

Posted by Laura Collett Eventing on Friday, April 30, 2021

Starting at 15:00 today, we are uniting with the football community and many other sports for a social media boycott, in support of bringing an end to online abuse and hate.

The boycott will last until 23:59 on Monday 3 May.

Full story here: https://bit.ly/3u68qbX

#EnoughIsEnough

Posted by British Equestrian on Friday, April 30, 2021

Eventing Nation stands with this movement and will boycott social media through Monday in solidarity. We urge our readers to challenge and report any instances of abuse, discrimination, intolerance and racism they encounter online. #StopOnlineAbuse #NoRoomForRacism #EnoughIsEnough

Thursday Video from Cambox: Ride ‘Round LRK3DE With Liz Halliday-Sharp

Liz Halliday-Sharp had a solid 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. She finished 10th with her veteran partner Deniro Z, and completed with just one bobble cross country with her newest five-star mount Cooley Quicksilver.

Her Cambox video of the go-round is fascinating from the get-go, beginning with a last-minute gameplan check-in with U.S. Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander just seconds before they head out of the startbox (thanking the starter volunteer as she does, because Liz is a class-act like that). She’s encouraging to her horse, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal) owned by The Monster Partnership, the whole way through: “You’ve got this, buddy,” she said as they neared the end of the course. “You’re almost there!”

“What a good boy, he got better as he went. I’ll tell you what, the horse had a lot in the tank,” Liz reflected after their round. “What was great though, honestly, is he really got better. He had that mistake, I didn’t get after him, and he did that last water like a champion, he was so good.”

This pair has a bright future and we look forward to following along!

Cambox is currently on sale for up to 30% off! Click here to score a deal.

Volunteer Nation: 5 Events That Could Use a Helping Hand This Weekend

The 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event may have been without spectators, but it still required a full slate of volunteers including temperature checkers at the entrance. Many thanks to all who lent a helping hand and helped keep everyone safe!

Can you take some time to volunteer this weekend? Here are five events that are seeking volunteers.

As always, you can earn merit points when you donate your time through the USEA’s Volunteer Incentive Program. Registering to volunteer through EventingVolunteers.com makes it easy and seamless to both find a job and shift as well as learn what your role will entail.

May 1 Friends of Ellie Derby Day/GHCTA Horse Trials

April 30th, 2021 to May 1st, 2021

Fair Hill International – MAY Starter Horse Trials [El.,Int.,Beg.N., Nov]

April 28th, 2021 to May 1st, 2021

Waredaca Recognized Spring Horse Trials

May 1st, 2021 to May 2nd, 2021

Fresno County Horse Park H.T.

April 29th, 2021 to May 2nd, 2021

Barnstaple South

April 28th, 2021 to May 3rd, 2021

Tuesday Video: When Chinch Met Zoe — A LRK3DE Romance

EN’s beloved mascot, Chinch, has historically been a bit of a player — he’s gotten hugged, squeezed and snogged by a who’s-who of top event riders in the world. We never thought we’d see the day that he settled down, but he just may have met this match at this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Many thanks to Zoetis for their wonderful support of our sport; they were a huge presence at LRK3DE, sponsoring a hospitality tent for the event’s hard-working veterinarians as well as a schooling ring and more. The company’s commitment to equine health shines through in everything they do — learn more at ZoetisEquine.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A 5* Battle of the Bands at LRK3DE

 

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On Thursday I promised Will Coleman, a well-established jam band nerd, that if he finished Off The Record (one of two horses he has in the LRK3DE 5* named after My Morning Jacket songs) in the top 10 after dressage I’d write a whole story in MMJ lyrics, doubling down on a Phish bet from WEG in 2018.

Well, they landed not far off the mark in a tie for 14th on 29.1, and in a 63-horse field I’m going to call that a bet pretty-much won. Apologies in advance to 99.996% of you reading, but for the approximately <0.004% of our readership who are MMJ fans, this one goes out to you!

—–

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boy, I was ready for spring,” Will Coleman sighed as he crossed the border into Kentucky, home of where the grass is dyed, a 700+ mile drive from his Okonokos Farm. He whistled a little tune passing through the iconic gates of the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event: “Well you can ride, ride, ride on down to the [Kentucky Horse] Park….

In the trailer behind him were his three five-star mounts: Dondante and Off The Record, both named after MMJ songs, and Tight Lines AKA “Phish” as he’s known around the barn. Will likes music — you get the point.

They settled in and woke up at first light the next morning, feelin’ good and limber. The horses poked their head over their stall doors, ears pricked, as their two-legged frontman bid them good morning. “The day has come,” Will said, scratching their ears one at a time. “Just believe and you can do. You know my heart, it beats 4 u.

I’m feelin’ ready, I’m feelin’ lean,” Dondante nickered.

I’m ready it for now,” Off The Record whinnied.

Cadillac rainbows and lots of spaghetti. And I love meatballs so you better get ready,” added Phish, to which they all just nodded and smiled. Nobody ever really understood what Phish was talking about but he always said it with a lot of conviction.

When Will headed back to the lot, Off The Record lowered his voice conspiratorially. “I have a master plan, babes,” he whispered. “I been workin’ on it from the start.”

“Groovy,” marveled Dondante.

Boy, man!” shouted Phish. “Wash Uffizi drive me to Firenze!

“Shhhhhhh,” Off The Record hushed his over-exuberant barn mate. “The plan is not to … whatever it was you said. The plan is: defeat Z.”

Dondante and Phish simultaneously reared up a little at the mention of their arch rival and nemesis. Z was the name of MMJ’s 2005 album, topped only by their 2003 album It Still Moves and Okonokos if you want to count a live record. It was ALSO the name of Phillip Dutton’s five-star mount this weekend.

“That’s jam band name appropriation, man,” said Dondante. “Not cool. I bet Phillip Dutton’s never even been to a MMJ show. The nerve of that guy … frankly, I’m amazed.

Rye, rye, Rocco. Marco Esquandolas!” Phish agreed.

“Remember: We are the innovators,” Off The Record said, not unintentionally quoting a lyric from Z‘s first track. “They are the imitators.

The battle had begun. At dawn they ride again.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines (“Phish”). Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The dressage phase went well, although Will had to work hard to keep Dondante‘s second change under wraps.

You wanna freak out? C’mon!” Dondante squealed, envisioning that pansy Z trying to survive one night in the gen pop Bonnaroo campground. He’d probably have one beer and get lost in a port-a-potty he cackled, botching the change completely.

Will, on the other hand, never lost focus. “You’ve got to know that we will [flying] change,” Will murmured soothingly, “And keep it off the record / Off the record.

With his next ride, Phish, Will was more prepared. When he noticed Phish shooting Z a dirty look in the dressage warm-up (“I’ll slam him in the face with a nectarine,” Phish muttered under his breath) Will reminded the horse to stay focused: “Hey, you only got to dance with me.

Will’s third test, with Off The Record, was his best yet, landing in the top 15. “He sure looks good when he moves in the light,” one judge remarked, but the horse’s contempt for Z was still simmering just below the surface. “I think I’m going to hell,” he mused, exiting the ring. “I probably lost marks for that, but no regrets.”

Will Coleman and DonDante. Photo by Shelby ALlen.

Then it was on to cross country day, often compared to just a really fast risky ride at a fair. Will felt safe, though. “Do you see the hard helmet on my head?” he said, mounting up on Dondante. “Totally unscarred. Serves protection for my head.

The pair headed out on course, breezing past existential questions like “Should I hit the water or stay on dry land?” Dondonte arrived back at the barn, having sailed around his first 5*, and it all felt like a blissful blur. “I went over the [water jumps] and into the woods, where did I go?” It was, he recounted to his barn mates, “a feeling in my soul I’d never felt before.”

Phish, who had a reputation for setting the gear shift to the high gear of his soul … running like an antelope, out of control, was next up. They marched off to the startbox, the horse’s last words a non-sequitur about “the kids under the carpet and the purple humpback whales.

“Man, I like Phish alright but that dude sure is a weirdo,” Dondante muttered.

After another successful run, Off The Record was next up. “Hey there, I’m flying up above,” he whinnied mid-course in glee. “Looking down on the tired earth … I really needed to get that outta my system.”

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel,” Will agreed, patting his horse’s neck.

Will’s three horses had so much fun on cross country, by day’s end they had all but forgotten about their plan to demolish their arch rival and nemesis Z. Until … they ran into him while being hand-grazed after dinner. Awkward!!!!

Dondante dragged his groom up to Z. “Come on, hey don’t you know how we started?” Dondante said confrontationally. “You’ve been holdin’ out.

“Pardon me, senhor, I know not what you mean,” Z said in his gentle Portuguese lilt, lifting his head from the bluegrass in surprise.

Z,” Off The Record quipped. “I’m talking about your name. Animal, come on, what does this remind you of?

Deduct the carrots from your pay, you worthless swampy fool!” Phish added, “Give the director a serpent deflector, a mudrat detector, a ribbon reflector, a cushion convector, a picture of nectar, a virile dissector, a hormone collector, whatever you do take care of your shoes!”

Dondante and Off The Record discreetly signaled to Phish‘s groom that maybe it was time to take him back to his stall.

“Perhaps,” Z suggested, “we should talk about our feelings. I mean, after all, what does it mean to feel? Millions of dreams come real … a feelin’ in my soul I’d never felt before.

“Whoa, dude,” Off The Record said. “Did you just reference ‘Golden‘?”

“Listen,” Z said. “I’m not named after My Morning Jacket. I’m named Z because I’m this ridiculously hard-to-pronounce-much-less-spell breed called Zangersheide. Thank god they just shortened it to Z. But coincidentally I AM a big MMJ fan. They played a few tours in Europe when I was younger. That’s why I like coming to LRK3DE, actually. You know the band is from right up the road in Louisville, right?”

This revelation stopped Dondante and Off The Record in their tracks. “Bro,” Dondante said. “You’ve been holdin’ out!

I know our worlds seem far apart,” Z said. “But we’re one in the same. You know they’re playing Bonnaroo 2021 in September … meet you on the front row? It’ll be one big holiday.”

DondanteOff The Record and Z bumped hooves in solidarity. No matter who did the LRK3DE victory dance, the party was on.

Just then, Will and Phillip walked up. “Is everything OK?” they asked.

The horses nodded happily and went back to eating grass, a little smile on their lips. All good, dude. All good.

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form GuideCCI4*-S Live ScoresCCI5* Live Scores TimesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dandelions in the Park

Originally published on EN in 2012, this essay’s relevance has remained intact over the years. On the eve of this year’s event, we thought it appropriate to re-share as a reminder that this collective experience we know as Kentucky is much bigger, and more complex, than we sometimes give it credit for.

Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos on course at Kentucky in 2011. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Some people believe there are spiritual vortexes scattered around the world, energetic super-centers so powerful that you can practically feel the stuff circulating in the air. Mystics and metaphysicists flock to them — Stonehenge, the Giza pyramids, ancient Inca ruins — hoping to catch a whiff of the divine.

I don’t know how much I buy into that crystal visions claptrap, but I do think there’s something to the idea of a place retaining its history in mysterious ways. The Kentucky Horse Park, in particular, is a plot of earth that I’ve always sensed had more going on than meets the eye. There’s a magic to it, and it’s more than just the pastoral combination of majestic oak trees, plush bluegrass and pristine rural air. Rather, it’s layers upon layers of emotion, saturating the soil and rustling through the leaves.

The poetry of a flawlessly executed dressage test, the cheer of a crowd gathered round the Head of the Lake, the thunder of a victory gallop — that energy lingers in the air long after everyone has packed up and gone home. But the source of the Park’s magic is more multidimensional than that.

On Jimmy Wofford’s cross country walk at WEG in 2010, he told the crowd that there was a dandelion on the course for every heart broken at the Park. I remember looking down, seeing a patch of the weed’s sharply scalloped leaves, and wondering in earnest whose tears had fertilized them.

I’m sure I’ve got a few dandelions out there myself, not from the four-star, but from other Horse Park events that felt equivalently serious at the time. When you’re 13 and you’ve saved your $4-an-hour stall mucking wages all summer to compete at some event, only to have your pony jump out of the dressage ring … dandelion. When you’re 17 and your horse hangs a leg in the water complex at Pony Club championships and you feel like you’ve let down your entire team … dandelion. When you’re 29 and you pull up halfway around the course with the sinking realization that you’re simply not prepared … dandelion.

I could go on and on, and I’m sure some of you could, too. Certainly these moments weren’t the end of the world, but perspective is a function of the mind, not the heart.

This weekend there are going to be riders who don’t make it around the course. They’ll make the same long walk back to the barn that so many have before them, replaying a split second over and over again in their minds, trying to figure out what went wrong. Some of them will get a leg up on their next ride or have the opportunity try again next year. Others might not get a second chance.

If you’re at Kentucky this weekend, take a quiet moment at some point to look around you. Acknowledge the dandelions and the horses and riders who planted them there. Remember that it’s all connected. Without attempt, and the risk of failure that goes with it, there can be no glory. The hit and the miss both begin with a leap.

Go Eventing.

‘She Knows How to Dance’: Tamie Smith & En Vogue Take Over LRK3DE 4*-S Lead

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie Smith will lead CCI4*-S heading into cross country tomorrow with En Vogue, one of her three rides in the division — she’s also tied for third with Danito and nicked the top 20 with Passepartout. Tamie and En Vogue, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Earl x Laurena) owned by Ruth Bley, posted a score of 25.4 in this morning’s session.

Second-positioned Colleen Loach is also busy with three rides in the 4*-S and, like Tamie, she’ll contest 5* dressage this afternoon. She and Vermont, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing x Hauptstutbuch Hollywood) owned by Peter Barry, scored a 27.0.

Yesterday’s leading trifecta — Tamie with Danito, Doug Payne with Starr Witness and Liz Halliday-Sharp with Cooley Moonshine — now hold a three-way tie for third on a score of 28.1.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie said that En Vogue was “completely freaking out about the camera in the warm-up — I thought I had no chance,” but the mare put her camera-shyness aside when the curtains went up. “She she’s a professional now, and she knows how to dance,” Tamie reflected afterward. “She went in and was super. She was really rideable and expressive. She really showed off. I was proud of her.”

The pair had originally planned on the CCI5*-L but reconsidered in the lead-up to Kentucky.

“This spring she came out and she just wasn’t her attacking self out on cross country,” Tamie said. “I really want to set [the horses] up for success and there wasn’t a lot of success. I had to stop and reflect and think ‘is this the right thing for her?’ I think she needs to do another Four-Star long before maybe doing Maryland’s CCI5*-L.”

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Colleen, who represents Canada, has been partnered with ‘Monty’ since the horse was five. She originally recommended the now 9-year-old to owner Peter Barry before accepting the ride herself and producing him up the levels.

“Monty is a giant. He’s 18.2 hands but he’s scared of everything and very emotional,” Colleen said. “We’re starting to develop a really strong partnership. He’s a lovely, talented horse, and I’m really looking forward to the future with him.”

Looking ahead to cross country tomorrow, Colleen said, “Monty is green to the level but he’s been very dependable so far. He’s really rideable and has a great big galloping stride. He’s not strong so there’s not a lot of setting up that has to be done. He’s really a joy to ride. He looks for the flags. As long as he comes out like normal I’m hoping for a great ride.”

Tamie said of the course, “Kentucky really invites them to open up and gallop, and Derek [di Grazia] is such a genius course designer. I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Other top-10 scoreboard shaker-uppers include Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play, who are 7th (28.7) …

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Shelby Allen.

… Jessica Phoenix with Pavarotti, who are 8th (29.8), and Elisa Wallace with Riot Gear, who are 9th (31.0).

Here’s a look at the rest of the top slots in the 44-horse CCI4*-S field:

 

Caitlin Henderson and Creative Dreamer. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Forty-four CCI4*-S horses will start cross country tomorrow. Of note, Jessica‘s second ride, Watson GS, was eliminated in dressage for marked lameness.

The CCI4*-S was originally scheduled to run cross country on Saturday morning, but the timetable has been reversed due to the expected weather conditions. The CCI5*-L will go cross-country first and the CCI4*-S will start in the afternoon. Best of luck to all!

Be sure to download your copy of our Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE!

 

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form GuideCCI4*-S Live ScoresCCI5* Live Scores5* Dressage Ride Times4* Dressage Ride TimesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

 

Thursday Video from Cambox: Kentucky Between the Ears of Vandiver

2021 marks Vandiver’s fifth crack at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. The now 17-year-old Trakehner’s first go-round was in 2015 with former rider Werner Geven; he finished 22nd in 2016 with Doug Payne,  at the second horse inspection in 2017, and rebounded for a top five finish in 2019 and the title of Reserve CCI5*-L National Champion. Now, hot off a CCI4*-S win at The Fork at TIEC, they are striking out on the bluegrass once again.

Doug and “Quinn” went in the first group of 5* dressage this afternoon, scoring a 34.5. We asked him after his test to talk about what this event means to their partnership.

“Kentucky is sort of a Super Bowl of the sport, especially in this country,” he said. “To have something of this caliber and quality is amazing having the opportunity to ride a horse here this many times is really rare so you’ve got to be thankful for that.”

We always enjoy experiencing cross country vicariously through Doug’s Cambox — “Cambox has been excellent,” he said — and affirmed that he’ll be taking it around Kentucky once again on Saturday. Until then, let’s relive their successful five-star debut together in 2016, wherein they jumped around clear with 16 time penalties …

… and 2019. For their last run here, Doug went a step further in overlaying USEF Network footage alongside his Cambox footage so that we can both ride the course from his point of view and watch them from the ground at the same time. That year, they stormed around Derek di Grazia’s cross country course adding just one time penalty to their dressage score. Their partnership is evident as they expertly slice-and-dice their way through the course and, yes, they did jump some of the flower decorations along the way!

Best of luck to Doug and “Quinn” this weekend!

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form GuideCCI4*-S Live ScoresCCI5* Live Scores5* Dressage Ride Times4* Dressage Ride TimesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Cambox is currently on sale for up to 30% off! Click here to score a deal.

Reporter’s Notebook: Snow & Some Thoughts on Kentucky Eve

Kentucky is a different shade of bluegrass this year, to say the least. Sitting here in the Media Center, we’re usually looking out over a bustling trade fair; this year, the indoor is closed up and dark. The first horse inspection is usually standing room only; today, there were only a few folks scattered across the stone terraces. The parking lots and campground are relatively empty, as will be the stands of Rolex Stadium in the coming days. The smiles of those of us lucky enough to be here are hidden by masks.

Things may look different, but the thru-thread of “Kentucky Eve” energy and optimism feels as strong as if not stronger than ever. Since we all last met in this Park two years ago, the world has changed. Who could have known, then, that a deadly virus would wreak havoc around the world, upending our lives in so many unforeseen and previously unimaginable ways. All of us, to varying degrees, have experienced loss, anxiety and grief. We are co-survivors of a shared trauma from which we are only just now beginning to emerge.

I’ve looked forward to this week with mixed emotions. Nothing feels like business as usual. This spring I’ve been struggling to feel connected to the sport after having been apart from it for so long, covering events from a distance that often feels enormous. But driving though the iconic Kentucky Horse Park gates this morning, twilight casting a blue glow on the snowy fields, I felt a familiar stirring. Some long-dormant tenderness fluttered in my chest.

The EN team is well aware that, for so many in our community, watching “The Best Week All Year” on a screen isn’t going to hit the same. We understand the privilege of being here in person, and we take seriously our responsibility to articulate the experience as fully as we can. Remember that we’re not as far apart as we think — the 2021 event’s very existence, thanks to an incredible community-led fundraising effort, is proof of the ties that bind us together and make us strong.

Wherever you are this week, I hope you are able to let a little Kentucky magic in, too.

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Dressage Ride Times4* Dressage Ride TimesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Easy as ABC (& Sometimes D): Derek di Grazia Talks Us Through LRK3DE 5* Combinations

Photos by Leslie Wylie.

Welcome to the 2021 LRK3De cross country course! Your cruise director is Derek di Grazia, who has once again designed a first-class five-star track that will put Saturday’s field to the test.

CrossCountry App has posted a 5* virtual course walk led by Derek alongside 1998 Rolex Trophy winner Nick Larkin. We thank them for showing us all around the course, as well as Rob Burk for the photos.

To set the scene: Optimum time is 11 minutes on the nose, speed is 570 meters per minute, and the official length is 6270 meters. Also, it’s likely to be raining. You can check out the full course here. Below, Derek walks us through seven of the course’s 10 combinations — click through to see photos and video.

#4ABCD – MARS Sustainability Bay

“Before they got to this point they had to jump three fences, all very straightforward, which has given them a good warm-up. Once they get here they will drop in over a brush drop into water; once in the water they will go over a very steep mound with a cabin on the top. There is an alternative here for the drop in if they have problems jumping in, as well as there is an alternative for the cabin on top.”

#9ABC – Normandy Bank

“The Normandy Bank is being done in a different way this year. They’ll come up a steep slope with a cabin at the top; immediately on landing they’re making a right turn and jumping a chevron brush. There is a longer alternative. Most will plan on taking the direct way, however, you never know what is going to happen on landing. If they land and the horse is not in control they can go the alternate way.”

#11AB & #12ABC – Land Rover Head of the Lake

“The big jump in over the log will get them into the water. The riders will have to maintain their position to jump the stump which will come immediately upon landing in the water, then they’ll carry on out of the water, jump a big double brush back into the water, and then up a new part of the Lake which we haven’t used before that we made for this year, followed by a double brush. So a lot of jumps, big jumps, and they’ll have to be ready. There is an option if they land in a heap and are not ready for the direct way, then they’ll pull out and do the alternate route.”

#14ABC – Goose Bumps

“This combination encompasses quite a few things. One, they have quite a large oxer jumping into the combination then they come up the mound and have to jump this goose at a very specific angle which will then bring them to a right handed corner on the way out. The way the horses react to the change in terrain will obviously affect their length of stride, and the riders are going to have to be able to pick up on this as they ride into the combination and then carry on throughout the combination.”

#24ABCD – Park Question

“This is an interesting part of the course because it’s just past nine minutes. They’ve done a lot of jumping by this point and the riders really have to know what they have underneath them so when you come here you have to make sure your horse is still jumping. They will jump in over a set of rails which is immediately followed by a ditch at the bottom of the slope, over the ditch, and then immediately they will have a narrow fence only a stride away. It’s going to come up quick, they’re going to have to make sure that not only the rider themself is concentrating and paying attention, but that their horse has still got enough in the tank to be able to take care of this question.”

#26ABC – Mighty Moguls

“They’ve been quite a ways up to this point — we’re just past the 10-minute mark. They will have a big log jumping into this combination followed by another big log and then down the slope to another brush corner. They will have an alternate brush corner in case they want to take a longer route. It will be the last combination on course and they’re all going to be looking to get through here fault free. … there’s a lot of terrain and the riders will have to keep enough to keep jumping at the end.”

Here’s the CCI4*-S course, too. Thanks again for sharing, CrossCountry App, and for the beautiful photos, Rob!

Cross country runs Saturday beginning with the CCI5* division, followed by the CCI4*-S.

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

For the DL on every 5* horse/rider combination, be sure to download our Ultimate Guide!

LRK3DE Might Be Closed to Spectators, But Rolex Stadium’s Stands Aren’t Empty

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Even if you’re not physically at Kentucky this year, we know you’re here in spirit. And many of you are here too by way of a fan cutout of your likeness that you paid $75 for to occupy your seat in Rolex Stadium all week. It might not be a warm body, but for the most hardcore LRK3DE fan, it’s at least …. a body? Well, sort of a body. Body-shaped. Ish.

 

We spotted some horses and dogs mixed in there too …

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… and — you know we couldn’t resist! — a certain Chinch. Best $75 we’ve spent all year IMO.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We snapped some pics if you want to try to spot yourself in the crowd!

In all seriousness, we know how much this event means to you, and what a FOMO bummer it is to be watching from afar. Please know that we’ll be working hard all week to bring you as close to the action as possible, so keep it locked here!

The view from the stands — just for you. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Plot Twist! Kentucky Horse Park Is Covered in Snow

Good morning from the 2021 LRKD3E! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

In an elaborate and expensive publicity stunt to showcase Land Rover vehicles’ advanced 4WD capabilities, the title sponsor of the Kentucky Three-Day Event woke us up to a blanket of snow this morning. Which I discovered the hard way, busting bum on the dark icy stairs of our RV at 5:30 a.m. to check on our propane tank (which had, of course, gone out in the night). Seeing as we’d been eating dinner on a patio in hoodies the evening before, it was a true “gotcha!” moment. Slow clap, Land Rover. Well-played.

Since I was already up and on the verge of turning human popsicle, I trekked out into the Park. Had the luxury British automaker just snow-machined the campground and the stabling, or did they do Rolex Stadium and the cross country course as well? With the predawn Kentucky sky just beginning to lighten, I roamed the quiet rounds to find out.

Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a dramatic photo op, but alright. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

They already Zamboni-ed the jog strip. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We are sad to report that Bruce Davidson Sr. has lost his nose to frostbite. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Spring has sprung? Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Nobody at KHP is having a worse morning that the person who decorated all these jumps with flowers. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Head of the Frozen Lake. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Fence # … we’ll get back to you. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

What lunatic is out schooling their horse at 7:30 a.m.? (Spoiler: It’s Boyd and Tsetserleg.) Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The detail that Land Rover put into this promotion is impressive. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

I saw at least one horse lay down and roll in the snow while being hand-grazed.  Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Gratuitous baby-horse-in-the-snow pic. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

“Canz I eatz it?” Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Good news: After a while, the sun came out and the snow is already fast melting. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Thursday and Friday should be cool and pleasant, and then … there’s Saturday. We get it already about your 4WD, Land Rover, please feel free to stop with the extreme weather now. Forecast via The Weather Channel.

Happy (not) April Fools!

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter