Classic Eventing Nation

EN Virtual Vendor Village: Saturday’s Deals!

If you’ve been missing out on shopping the vendors of spring events, we’ve got just the thing for you. We are very excited to present the 2nd Annual Eventing Nation Virtual Vendor Village, a week-long online opportunity to score fantastic deals and discover new products from our favorite brands.

As you get geared up for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event later this month, this is a great way to feed the stoke and shop for awesome gear. It’s also a great way to show our support for equestrian businesses even when we can’t shop in person due to coronavirus restrictions. It truly does take a “village”!

The Virtual Vendor Village is taking place right here on EN through Saturday, April 17. Throughout the week, some of our favorite companies will be offering a “Deal of the Day” on their products — which means you’ll want to check in on their “booths” daily to make sure you don’t miss a sale! Expect deep discounts, special promotions and product giveaways.

Really, you’re in for all the shopping you could want this month since not only do we have myriad deals for you this week, but also Kentucky is hosting its own Vendor Village all week during the Three-Day Event, April 21-25. You’ll be able to find more on this online shopping event on the Kentucky website here.

Saturday’s Deal Summary!

Banixx: Automatically get 20% off when you purchase at Valley Vet.

Brooks Belts: Get 15% off with code EN2021.

CamBox: Multiple deals that will run throughout the week: Cambox V4 Pro full bundle — Cambox V4 Pro + 64 Gb SD Card + 2 additional fasteners + protective case + Cambox cap + power bank + warranty extension $499 instead of $600; Cambox V4 Pro + 64 Gb Memory Card bundle — $475 instead of $525; Cambox V4 Standard + 32 Gb card + 2 velcro fasteners + Cambox Cap — $399 instead of $449; Cambox Origin + 16 Gb SD card + case + cap $199 instead of $276

Ecovet: Get 30% off through 4/17 with code Virtual30

Horse & Country TV: One month free trial if you sign up during the week of the Virtual Vendor Village

Horse & Rider Books: Get 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING on all print and ebooks and videos from the online bookstore with code VV21 at checkout

Kentucky Performance Products: Receive 20% off and free shipping with code ENVV2021 at checkout

Kerrits: Up to 60% off of at the Eventing Nation Sales Event

Legends Horse Feed:  $10 off one bag of Nutrena® Empower® Digestive Balance; $10 off one bag of Nutrena® ProForce® Feeds; $10 off one bag of ProElite® Feeds or Supplements

Mare Modern Goods21% off for customers using code KLREN21

Perri’s Leather: Take $25 off rubber reins (regularly $46.50 – $55.95) using code REINS at checkout

Ride Heels Down: 20% OFF SITE-WIDE with coupon LRK3DE21 + FREE SHIPPING on in-stock items in the USA (Excludes customized items and Covid Collection products)

ShowAssist: Download the app!

SmartPak: Tack Bundle Giveaway — Harwich Bridle, AP or Dressage Medium Diamond Saddle Pad, SmartPak Classic Ear Bonnet; runs 4/15 and 4/16

Stable View: William Fox Pitt hat and DVD for $25 shipped; 50% off Oktoberfest accommodations (call 484-356-3173 to redeem); 50% off Eventing Academy Horse Trials (call 484-356-3173 to redeem)

VIP Equestrian: Get $10 off an order (valid 1 use per customer, good through 4/30/2021) using code LR2021

Tapestry Equine Products From 4/15 through 4/17 get a free pair of Spursuaders with orders of over $300 or more when you use code LR300 at checkout

Welcome to Saturday’s Deals! 

Click on each brand’s tile to be taken directly to the featured item or brand website. Just a quick heads up: Stable View has three great offers, but two of them will not redirect you to a website. You’ll need to call to take advantage of those deals.                   

Go shopping and go eventing!

Saturday Links

Kentucky-bound Karl Slezak seems to think that this sweet power bike is going to help him out while walking the cross country or something and, sure, the bike is nice and all, but look at this photograph and let’s talk about that shirt please. As a Canadian, Karl is making a powerful statement of national pride by donning a tarp (that’s hockey slang for ‘shirt’ — an appropriate Canadian reference) with the national band of Canada on it. That’s what Nickelback is right — the national band of Canada? Such a display of national pride must clearly be meant for the jog strip on Wednesday and it’s really making me want to chug some Grade A Very Dark maple syrup right now.

Karl, if you’re reading this, I can all but guarantee that you’ll clinch the coveted Golden Chinch Award for unparalleled style if this shirt is a part of your trot-up outfit on Wednesday. Please. Humor us.

While we’re on the subject of Nickelback, look at this … graph! Sorry, actually, it’s the graphs (and much more!) in our first-ever EN Ultimate Form Guide to Kentucky, which will be available as a download for a small fee, that we want you to look at. We’re also launching the LRK3DE Daily Digest (click here to sign up – it’s free!), a daily email sent out early each morning during competition full of coverage links, predictions, giveaways/contests, and more. Finally, it’s a great time to become an EN Patreon supporter – we’ll be doing some exclusive content in our private Facebook group just for Patrons all week long.

U.S. Weekend Action:

Ocala International Festival of Eventing: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

F.E.N.C.E. H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Live Scores]

Holly Hill H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Longleaf Pine H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Live Scores]

Sporting Days Farm April III H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Unionville H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Saturday Links:

Lessons from Leslie Law: Tips From the Eventing 18 Training Session

Which YEH Graduates are Entered in LRK3DE?

“I’ll be really happy to see him in Tokyo and doing his best” – Indian eventer Fouaad Mirza’s father on his son securing an Olympic quota

Quest Continues For A Blood Test To Identify Horses At Risk For Injury

Uproar after British Eventing changes rules on number bibs

Photo Gallery: UGA club eventing team gathers for a team cross country practice

Saturday Video: Meanwhile in Poland …

Leslie Law & Lady Chatterley Lead Ocala International CCI3*-L Dressage

The weekend is young at Ocala International Festival of Eventing, but some dressage leaders have already emerged. Here is a quick rundown of the FEI divisions. You’ll spot some Kentucky prep in the Advanced and Advanced Combined Test divisions, too.

Leslie Law and Lady Chatterley. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Leslie Law and Lady Chatterley scored a 28.1 to lead the Ocala International Festival CCI3*-L today, with Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Devil Munchkin (29.4) and Michael Nolan and SRS Picasso (31.3) rounding out the top three.

Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Devil Munchkin. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Lady Chatterley, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor 48 x Jucy, by Mytens XX) owned by Lesley Grant-Law, Jackie Brown and Steve Brown, won the CCI3*-S at Stable View last month. Now they’re in the top spot headed into Ocala’s jumping phases.

Caroline Martin leads the CCI2*-L with Redfield Champion, a 7-year-old Hanoverian (Diarado x Calika, by Contendro I) on 25.1. They are followed by second-placed Andrew McConnon and D’Luxe Steel (27.7) and 3rd placed Cole Horn and MBF Cooley Permission To Land (28.5).

Clayton Fredericks leads the CCI1*-L with I’m Du Vinia MB (27.5), followed by 2nd placed Alexander O’Neal with Redtail Achiever (28.2).

Ocala International Festival of Eventing: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Volunteer]

CCI3*-L Top 10 After Dressage: 

CCI2*-L Top 10 After Dressage: 

CCI1*-L Top 10 After Dressage: 

Advanced Combined Test Final:

Advanced HT Final Top 8: 

Friday Video from SmartPak: A First Look at Derek di Grazia’s LRK3DE Cross Country

2021 5*-L Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Official Cross-Country Course Preview

Follow along with #LRK3DE cross-country course designer Derek di Grazia and 1998 Kentucky Three-Day Event winner, Nick Larkin, as they discuss some of the highlights on this year's 5*-L course!Be sure to tune into the livestream on USEF Network (viewable with a US Equestrian fan membership – use code LRK3DE21 to sign up for FREE), and see all of these jumps in their beautiful, fully decorated glory!Thanks to Visit LEX and Georgetown/Scott County Tourism for making this video possible!#BestWeekendAllYear

Posted by Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event on Thursday, April 15, 2021

It’s time to take a first peek at what Derek di Grazia has up his sleeve for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. Some changes are afoot at some of the bigger questions on course that we’ve come to know and love, and he takes a few minutes to walk us through his vision for this year’s track.

If you’re getting excited about Kentucky, you’ll want to check out what’s on the docket for next week right here on EN. You can get a sneak peek at our coverage plans here – spoiler alert: we’ve got some fun things happening!

LRK3DE Announces ‘Behind the Barn’ Series of Interviews

Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ (LRK3DE) is proud to introduce “Behind The Barn,” a unique series of 12 intimate video interviews with participants at the 2021 event. The in-depth, sit-down interviews will be featured on the event’s social media channels and website starting on Sunday, April 18.

The 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ will be held – without spectators – April 22-25 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. With so many of its fans unable to attend “America’s Premier Equestrian Event,” Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), producer of the world-class event, is creating this series of interviews to enhance viewers’ online experience.

“This will be a chance to hear some of the biggest names in equestrian sport reveal what inspires them and what they hope to accomplish as they prepare for this year’s event,” said Lee Carter, EEI Executive Director. “In many ways this will give fans of our event an up-close look at our sport’s leading competitors beyond anything they could experience in person. We think everyone will be touched by some of the previously private stories they’ll hear.”

Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ (LRK3DE) hosts one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world and is serving as a U.S. selection trial for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games. As the United States’ premier three-day event, LRK3DE serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI-5*-L Eventing National Championship Presented by MARS Equestrian™ for U.S. athletes.

A new partnership between EEI and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation combined with the support of US Equestrian (USEF), longstanding sponsors Land Rover, MARS Equestrian™ and Rolex and many other valued event sponsors, plus the collective efforts of the many individuals who donated, ensured that the nation’s premier equestrian event will be held with its traditional CCI5*-L in the afternoons and a new CCI4*-S in the mornings. Although the event is being held without spectators, it can be seen live online, free of charge, on the USEF Network.
The “Behind The Barn” interviews are hosted by veteran TV personality and three-day event rider Frankie Thieriot Stutes. The interviews will premiere on the event’s website and social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) as follows:

1. Sunday, April 18 – Liz Halliday-Sharp
2. Sunday, April 18 – Emilee Libby
3. Monday, April 19 – Derek DiGrazia
4. Monday, April 19 – Daniela Moguel
5. Monday, April 19 – Lauren Kieffer Nicholson and Jo Kieffer
6. Tuesday, April 20 – Tim and Jonelle Price
7. Tuesday, April 20 – Erik Duvander
8. Tuesday, April 20 – Buck Davidson
9. Wednesday, April 21 – Will Faudree
10. Wednesday, April 21 – Allison Springer
11. Wednesday, April 21 – Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton
12. Wednesday, April 21 – William Fox-Pitt

“I have no doubt that these interviews will be incredibly popular,” Carter added. “The riders open up and reveal some very personal feelings that will touch everyone who watches. I am so excited about these interviews and I can’t wait for everyone to see them!”

[Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Day One at Burnham Market: A Burghley Winner Back to Brilliance and a Three-Part Lead

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street. (Apologies for the photos in this post, folks – your loyal British correspondent was battling both a broken camera lens and shooting into the sun all day!) Photo (shame-facedly) by Tilly Berendt.

“It’s such a shame,” ruminates Pippa Funnell, leader of CCI4*-S section B at the Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International Horse Trials aboard MGH Grafton Street. “When he won Burghley [in 2019], he did it as a young five-star horse at eleven – and now, suddenly, he’ll be fourteen before he gets to Badminton. It’s crazy.”

Such is the reality of the ongoing pandemic where the production of a top horse is concerned, and it’s a sentiment that’s been widely echoed throughout the day by a number of riders facing yet another year of uncertainty. “I don’t have a plan for the year yet because I don’t know what’ll run,” is a common thread; “it’s hard to put in the hours without feeling as though you have an end goal” is another. Most, by now, have learned not to get excited about a major event until they’ve arrived and unloaded the horses – and that means striking a tricky balance between not doing quite enough to keep horses fit and prepared and overcooking the stew.

Nevertheless, it was a treat to see Pippa and her Burghley victor, known at home as Squirrel, back in action in today’s unseasonably summery conditions – particularly in this, a phase at which Jonathan and Jane Clarke’s cheeky gelding has historically excelled. His work today was sparky and fun to watch, a sentiment evidently echoed by the judges, who rewarded it with a 25.4.

“There were a few little bits where he was quite bright, but the highlights were very good,” says Pippa, who jokingly named ‘walking out of the arena on a long rein’ as the top of those highlights. “It’s a work in progress, but on the whole I was pleased.”

It’s not at all shabby, considering the horse didn’t run in any internationals in 2020 and still, Pippa tells EN, remembers the wild excitement of the Burghley prize giving.

“I was a bit poorly for a while and off games, and so the horses didn’t run [internationally] – I put them to bed,” she says, explaining that she gave the horse two national runs. Nonetheless, Squirrel’s unique character – which has occasionally caused some focusing issues in the past on cross-country – prevails. “He’s just cheeky; he’s a monkey. He thinks he’s a comedian, whether that’s in the stable, the field, the lorry…he’s always the one that’s doing tricks. He definitely comes out and is more excited to be out since Burghley; we forget the effect of the prize giving and all the goings-on. Now, he’s definitely a bit more like  ‘oooh, we’re at a party!'”

Izzy Taylor edged into second place with Hartacker, who led in this phase last year at the Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds. Though today’s 26.9 doesn’t quite rival his extraordinary 20.3 in that event, it’s an exciting test for the nine-year-old who proves, in just his second four-star outing, that he’s no flash in the pan. Though he ultimately didn’t take glory here last year because of a green mistake on cross-country, he finished his 2020 season with an educational victory in the CCI3*-L at Thoresby, and looks older, wiser, and stronger this year for his second attempt.

Ros Canter sits in third place overnight riding another nine-year-old – Lordships Graffalo, who finished second in that very same CCI4*-S last year after spending the 2019 season being piloted by Tom McEwen, deputising for Ros during her maternity leave from the sport. This is the gelding’s eighth international run; in his previous seven, he’s never finished lower than eleventh place, and he’ll certainly be a horse to keep a close eye on as the event – and the season – progresses.

New Zealand’s Caroline Powell elbowed her way into a sea of high-achieving Brits to take overnight fourth place aboard Up Up And Away, her fifteen-year-old CCI5* mount who returned to international competition in the latter half of last year, two years after his previous – and admittedly, rather up and down – season in 2018. Whatever Caroline’s been doing with him in that interim period has done wonders – his score of 27.2 today, and a 27.8 at Burgham last summer, are a marked step up from the low-to-mid 30s he’s consistently produced in years prior. For the striking grey gelding, this weekend will be all about redemption: their 2020 season ended with an unfortunate 20 penalties picked up in the tough CCI4*-S at Little Downham, curtailing their plans for a trip to Pau.

Piggy March and Sportsfield Top Notch. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Fifth and sixth place are both held by Piggy March, who also sits first, second, and third in the other CCI4*-S section. Leading her charge here is 2019 Badminton winner Vanir Kamira, fifth on 28.7 – not, as a glitch in the scoring system proudly proclaimed for much of the afternoon, a 50.9 – follows by the nine-year-old Sportsfield Top Notch, who posted a 29.1 in this, his four-star debut. For Piggy and husband Tom, this is a particularly special up-and-comer, as they own him outright.

“He’s pretty green, and he can be a bit hot, so I was just delighted with the fact that we got through it. He’s had a good experience and hopefully he’ll come on a lot from that. He’s a nice, big horse, though he’s probably a little bit behind some of the fancy ones as he’s taken a bit of time to mature physically and mentally. He’s ours, so we’ve just given him that time.”

Though Piggy’s end-of-day results are enviable, the logistics of her day were, perhaps, less so: with an abundance of horses to compete today, it rather felt as though she was always either in the warm-up arena or the ring, with nary a break in between.

“I’ve done all five of them pretty quickly today, so I haven’t been able to get them out and work them a few times. That just makes such a difference when you get to the three-days and are there for a couple of days, but it is what it is! A horse like Vanir Kamira, she’s a pain in the arse at the best of times and so you really do need to be in the same place and doing things with her, but we just have to do what we can do.”

Whatever she has for breakfast, we want some. Tomorrow’s dressage continues – and concludes – with a full roster of competitors, including Kazuma Tomoto and Bernadette UtopiaKitty King and former Six-Year-Old World Champion Cristal FontaineMollie Summerland and Charly van ter HeidenJames Avery and Mr Sneezy, and Laura Collett and Mr Bass.

Burghley winners Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street lead the way at the end of day one in Burnham Market’s CCI4*-S B section.

Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s hard to imagine an off-form Piggy March after the last few seasons of total domination, and that got even harder today as she took a remarkable 1-2-3 in the first day of dressage for Section C of the CCI4*-S offerings. Leading the way is John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburne’s Brookfield Inocent, who we last saw finishing second in his CCI5* debut at Pau in October. Now, he’s at the head of Piggy’s formidable string of horses vying for a position on the Tokyo squad this summer, and as is his wont, he produced a typically elegant and expressive test for 25.9. Though it doesn’t quite match the low-20s marks he produced last year – including at Pau – it’ll prove a tough score to beat in a section that saw just Piggy’s three leaders slip below the 30 barrier. Nevertheless, Piggy felt that there was room for improvement in the test.

“He only had half an hour [of work] before his test and so he went very light in the canter, and just slightly got his tongue over the bit, which he can do but hasn’t ever done in a competition,” she explains. “So I never sat there thinking, ‘boom!’ But he didn’t really do a lot wrong – and he’s out, which is the main thing. You work hard to come to these events and do the best you can, but it’s also about being realistic: a lot of these horses are great competition horses and so they can’t just arrive somewhere new, and it’s on top of a hill and cold and sunny and bright, and do it perfectly every time. You have to just get on with it and take the good points.”

Though there had been some hope of seeing Brookfield Inocent on the entry list for Kentucky, which he had been aimed at in 2020, the decision was made not to make the long journey across the Atlantic this year with the horse, who both Piggy and husband Tom describe fondly as a rare horse who would suit any course. Still, says Piggy, the feeling of a countdown to something major is something she’s been missing enormously over the last year.

“I do envy those riders going to Kentucky, because it’s given them something to aim for,” she says. “It’s frustrating at the moment because you sort of think, ‘well, what’s the aim?’ You live in hope that the Olympics is what we’re going for, but in the same breath, what if it doesn’t happen? I know we’re luckier than many people in these circumstances, because we can still get out and do it, but it’s hard for these great owners and great horses. You’re missing a few years for these great horses who just don’t come around that often.”

Piggy March and Dargun sit second overnight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Just a penalty point behind Brookfield Inocent sits Dargun, the former Emily King ride who joined Piggy’s string last year and has finished in the top three twice out of three FEI runs with his new jockey. He’ll go into Sunday’s jumping phases on a score of 26.9, which he earned when producing what Piggy considers her test of the day.

“That was my clear round,” she says. “I thought he was lovely; I really couldn’t fault him in any way. I had hoped he might have just squeaked a bit of a better mark than he did, but it’s very good.”

Piggy March and Fonbherna Lancer. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Holding down the fort in third is yet another relatively new ride – this time, Izzy Taylor’s former mount Fonbherna Lancer who, for all his wonderful qualities, is perhaps most memorable for his striking likeness to an old Munnings painting. Though the early part of his test looked very slightly disconnected, it improved throughout and his canter work – after a small mistake in the first transition – looked focused, connected, and indicative of a horse who has physically strengthened over a long winter of careful schooling.

“It was rider error; I should have been brave and gone with it,” says Piggy of the mistake, which saw Fonbherna Lancer break to canter moments too early. In the test, Piggy opted to transition back down and then up into canter on the marker. “Other than that, though, I was happy with it – his changes were all clean and he was a good boy.”

Tina Cook and Billy the Red. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It was rather a good day in the office across the board for the women of the British team: Tina Cook and Billy the Red hold fourth place on a mark of 30.2, which is rather higher than we’re used to seeing from the seasoned campaigners, who have worked hard to diffuse this phase after a spate of tension following the 2017 European Championships. A break in the trot work precluded a lower mark, though scores were earned back with plenty of quality work from the pair.

Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sarah Bullimore rounds out the top five on the diminutive – and occasionally opinionated – Corouet, who posted a rather higher-than-usual 30.9 after looking, like many horses presented today, slightly fresh and distracted in the ring. Now in just his ten-year-old year, the 15.2hh gelding out of Sarah’s former top horse Lilly Corinne and by the notoriously spicy Balou du Rouet has always had a sense of humour, but it’s this quality that has made him into a feisty, clever, and ineffably genuine horse across the country, too. Though Sarah will likely be disappointed not to put a mid-20s score on the board, we last saw the pair finish third here in last season’s Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-L, adding nothing to their first-phase score – and that’s a feat they’re certainly capable of recreating this weekend.

Nini French and Time For Harry soak up the sunshine. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tomorrow’s dressage session features another slew of heavy-hitting combinations, including Yasmin Ingham’s Bansai du Loir, winner of the Blenheim-replacement CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds last season, Izzy Taylor‘s CCI4*-L winner Monkeying AroundLaura Collett‘s Pau victor London 52, World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar BKitty King‘s Bramham winner Vendredi Biats, and plenty more where that came from. How’s that for a Super Saturday?

Welcome to the Pig-pen: the top ten after day one of dressage in section C of the CCI4*-S is dominated by Britain’s leading lady.

Burnham Market: Website | Entries, Times and Live Scores | Course Preview | EN’s Coverage | EN’s Twitter | EN’s Instagram

Land Rover Rookies: Ema Klugman and Bendigo

Welcome to EN’s annual series celebrating the first-timers making their five-star debut at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event! This one is a special one for us, as Ema Klugman is a part of the Nation Media family as the editor of EN’s sister site, Jumper Nation. To read more of EN’s Kentucky coverage, click here.

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ema Klugman may be one of the youngest riders in the field of this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event at 23, but don’t let that fool you into thinking she’s just some kid making a crack at a five star.

In fact, to meet Ema, who rides for Australia but bases in Maryland, is to meet a consummate professional who already has a thriving business as a competitor and coach while she also prepares to enter into law school this fall at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Oh, and she also moonlights as EN sister site Jumper Nation’s editor and writes for economic and social policy analysis platform Econofact.org. She probably also has 12 other side gigs that she didn’t mention in our interview.

In other words, Ema’s a busy girl — to the point where her upcoming five-star debut with just one horse, her horse of a lifetime Bendigo, may be the quietest week she’s had in recent memory.

Ema and Bendigo, who at 18 is among the oldest horses in the field at Kentucky this year, have grown up together, so to speak — though the Thoroughbred cross gelding by Refuse to Lose wouldn’t do his first horse trial until the age of 11.

Ema practices under the watchful eye of Packy McGaughan. Photo courtesy of Ema Klugman.

“Ben” was 10 years old when Ema and her longtime coach and mentor, Packy McGaughan, found him. He’d done some show jumping, but he needed some improvements. He had scope to spare though, and he was safe enough, Packy thought, to get the then 14-year-old Ema through Preliminary. It was safe to say, though, that he didn’t see potential beyond Preliminary or Intermediate, nevermind five-star, in the plain bay gelding.

Ema laughs now as she remembers Packy’s early opinions of Bendigo, who you might not pick out of a line-up as a shining example of a top event horse but whose try and heart made up for what he may have lacked in raw ability.

“For many reasons, not having Packy in Kentucky will be difficult, but I also wish I could just laugh at him once at the end of it and say, ‘Ha! I told you so!’’,” Ema said.

Indeed, Packy’s skepticism of Bendigo’s abilities to make it to the top of the sport lit a fire in Ema — and probably in Ben, too. Or maybe the skepticism was just a veiled encouragement in the form of a dare, a “fine, prove me wrong” scenario.

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Valerie Durbon Photography.

Regardless, it quickly became apparent to Ema that her horse was special. “He’s full of surprises,” Ema said. “He doesn’t have the scope or the raw ability of a horse like (Marilyn Little’s 4* winner) RF Scandalous or (Liz Halliday Sharp’s five-star horse) Deniro Z, so he kind of has to make his way. He just has a huge amount of heart.”

Right around the time Ema and Bendigo were preparing to move up to Advanced, Ben now 14 and Ema 18, Ema began to work for Marilyn Little. It was a reckoning of sorts, Ema recalls ruefully now. “Our first few lessons, I don’t think we jumped more than a cross rail,” she said. “It was a little embarrassing. We just had zero control. The standard of riding at Marilyn’s was very high, but she really helped me improve.”

Originally a show jumper, Marilyn is familiar with the concept of jumping tight angles with the right mix of control and speed, so she would often set up cross country-type questions in the arena for Ema to practice with. It’s these exercises — easily accessible, with less wear and tear than an equal amount of cross country schooling — that Ema credits with helping her and Bendigo turn a corner in terms of technical ability and confidence.

“He wasn’t always super confident,” Ema explained. “And for some reason those cross country exercises in the ring really helped him understand the questions. It really trained him to look through a line on his own. Nothing replaces a proper cross country school, but Marilyn’s methods really make a huge difference for us. She was instrumental in just helping me ride better in general.”

Ema learned the importance and value of repetition during her time with Marilyn. “We were sitting together a couple of summers ago after a long day of jump sets, and she asked me, ‘How many jumps do you think you’ve jumped this summer?’ I replied that I didn’t know, but probably a lot. She said probably 10,000 jumps. And I think that kind of repetitive practice really helps and it really matters. You can’t replace that sort of thing and she was very generous in giving me those kinds of opportunities.”

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

These days, Ema and Bendigo have a few more miles under their belt, and they’re starting to figure out how to go faster and smoother across the country. Bendigo is no slouch in the gallop, so these will surely be a fun pair to watch come Saturday.

As for it being her first five-star, Ema says she’s nervous but trying to be kind to herself. “Probably what I’m the most nervous about is letting the horse down,” she reflected. “Particularly because he’s an older horse and I really believe he tries quite hard for me. But, I am 23 years old, and I’ve been eventing less than 10 years, so I have to give myself a little leeway, too.”

Regardless, the chance to be in the same ring as legends such as William Fox Pitt and Oliver Townend is something Ema says she’ll be soaking up all week long. It’s one of her last hurrahs with Bendigo, whose age she wants to be respectful of, though you would never guess it by watching him. And, she hopes Packy will be watching them run, writing one of his expressive analysis pieces about his former student.

“It’s very, very hard to say how much he meant to me,” she said. “He found me this horse. He helped me train him, to unlock him so to speak. We connected because he was such an intellectual and I’m a ‘nerd’ too. He had a way of explaining things in a way that made sense to me, and he really made me want to get better. Everyone deserves to have a mentor like that.”

Haygain: Clean Hay Is a Kentucky Consensus

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

True horsemen treat every horse as an individual. Along with all aspects of their care, nutrition routines are carefully calibrated. Body type and tendencies, intensity of work, food sensitivities and temperament are all considered, and the plan is continually monitored and tweaked.

For all that individualism, however, there’s a consensus in the nutrition plan for many of the contenders in this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event CCI5*. This eventing competition, April 22-25, is one of only five held at this level worldwide and it demands the highest level of preparedness and performance. 

The consensus? Steamed Hay. 

Will Coleman, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Lauren Nicholson, Tamie Smith, Allison Springer, Will Faudree and Caroline Martin are among the American 5* contenders to consider it critical. They are joined by Lauren Billys, Lynn Symansky and Alyssa Phillips in the CCI4*-S running concurrent with the 5* this year. 

William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio II. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Entered with Oratorio, many-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain is one of the earliest believers in the benefits of Haygain’s high-temperature steamed hay. And several horses representing New Zealand in the 5* will benefit from arrangements made to ensure steamed hay for them while at the Kentucky Horse Park.

It’s that important. 

Like clean air and clean water, clean hay is critical to horse health and performance.  As developed by Haygain, the high-temperature steaming process produces that clean hay. By attaining and maintaining temperatures of up to 212°F in a thermally-sealed container, steaming eliminates up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens found even in hay of good nutrient content. 

Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

These problematic particles are invisible and microscopic: small enough to slip past the respiratory system’s natural defenses. Anywhere they settle in the upper and lower respiratory tract, they can trigger irritation and inflammation that restricts airflow. When these problematic particles get into the lungs, they can restrict the transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream. 

All living beings need oxygen. Because their bodies are 60% muscle, horses need a lot of it. Horses galloping full tilt over four miles, flying over immovable obstacles, as they will in Kentucky, need all the oxygen they can get. This is a main reason why Haygain’s green logo-ed black chests have become ubiquitous at eventing competitions, including this biggest one in North America.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Kentucky contenders sought out Haygain for different reasons. Liz Halliday-Sharp started steaming to help prevent a recurrence of ulcers in Deniro Z.  For Tamie Smith, it was her retired 5* horse, Wembley, whose picky appetite made it hard to keep weight on. When Lauren Billy‘s 2016 Olympic partner Castle Larchfield Purdy developed Inflammatory Airway Disease, steamed hay became critical to his management. Once they started steaming, there was no looking back.

Caroline Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Caroline Martin steams because she understands that even “really good” hay has bad things in it. “Forage is 90% of horse’s diet, so if you miss something that important, it just opens doors for anything bad to happen.”

Like a lot of horsemen in and out of the competitive ranks, Lauren Nicholson keeps her horses on it to prevent problems. As her contemporary and fellow Kentucky competitor Will Coleman states, “Being able to guarantee dust-free forage for our horses has been a game changer for us.”

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Often described as “The Best Weekend of the Year,” the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day almost didn’t happen this year because of COVID-related funding issues. Rider-led international fundraising efforts got it back on the schedule and anticipation is high for a terrific competition. Alas, no spectators, but USEF Network is broadcasting the action starting Thursday, April 22, with phase 1 dressage. 

While each pair prepared in their own way, steamed hay is common ground for many contenders on this exciting, highest level stage.

My Five Fave Friday Deals from the Virtual Vendor Village

No secret that vendor shopping is one of my favorite eventing pastimes, and we’re so very happy here at EN to connect our favorite companies with other like-minded shoppers! Each day we’re bringing you new deals via EN’s second annual Virtual Vendor Village (check out Friday’s deals here), then sharing our top picks of the day. Here are five that caught my fancy today!

Tapestry Equine Products: If your horse prefers a spur that feels more like a “gentle nudge” than a “POKE!!!!,” Spursuaders could be a welcome option.Linda Hauck, owner of Tapestry Equine Products, designed them with sensitive horses in mind: “The reason I developed this spur was in large part my experience riding sensitive horses, particularly Thoroughbreds. How they overreacted to a traditional spur, how some would get tense right away when they knew you were wearing a spur or watching a horse get inadvertently ‘spurred.’ That got me thinking that there must be another way to get our point across to the horse without offending or creating tension in that horse.” Now through tomorrow, you can get a free pair of Spursuaders with orders of over $300 or more when you use code LR300 at checkout.

Check it out here. Photo courtesy of Mare Modern; words by Leslie Wylie.

Mare Modern Goods: Mare Modern Goods is aptly named, offering a selection of apparel, accessories, home goods and gifts featuring original designs that are — like our favorite mares — bright, bold and a little bit sassy. And because they know how important being matchy-matchy is, different collections pair themes across multiple products ranging from pillows to artwork, shirts and socks to saddle pads.  Are you more of a Lovey, Badass, Channing, Foxy, Willa + Trooper or Ned? That’s something that ultimately only you can decide, but personally … I’ve got to say, you look to me like a badass. Today you can take 21% off your order using code KLREN21.

Photo courtesy of Perri’s Leather.

Perri’s Leather: You know Perri’s from their Kentucky booth — the one with the gorgeous Amish handcrafted halters and leads? Well these are their best-selling half-chaps, crafted from supple suede cowhide and featuring reinforced inner legs and stretch panels, which provide a near custom fit and help the chap form to your legs for peak performance and comfort. Snag ’em for $20 off NOW! They’re marked down from $50.95 to only $30 with code ZIP. 

Banixx: On his annual Kentucky cross country course walks Jimmy Wofford is fond of referencing one of his many Jimmy-isms: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” I’d say something similar about equine skin infection products — you don’t need them until you NEED them, and by then it’s too late. The wise horse owner keeps skin infection products on hand, so that the moment your horse starts cooking some crud you can jump right on treating it immediately.

I’ve had fantastic experience with Banixx products, and in particular the Banixx Pet Care Bacterial & Fungal Infection Spray. I’ve kept it in my grooming kit, ready to go, this spring, so at the slightest hint of rain rot I was able to treat it from the get-go with a highly effective product.

Banixx products, which also include an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial shampoo and a wound care cream, are on sale this week via Valley Vet Supply — you’ll automatically get 20% off when you order from Valley Vet! 

Horse & Country TV: Horse & Country TV is streaming Kentucky this year, and you’re GOING to be watching it, obviously, so there’s no better time to take advantage of this hot deal: One month free trial if you sign up during the week of the Virtual Vendor Village. Plus, you can check out all of H&C TV’s other great programming, like highlights from Carolina International and Master Classes with Liz Halliday-Sharp, Imogen Murray, Tim Burton, Ben Hobday, William Fox-Pitt and many more.

Go Shopping. Go Eventing!

Check out the full list of Friday deals here. Go Eventing, and Go Shopping!

EN Virtual Vendor Village: Friday’s Deals!

If you’ve been missing out on shopping the vendors of spring events, we’ve got just the thing for you. We are very excited to present the 2nd Annual Eventing Nation Virtual Vendor Village, a week-long online opportunity to score fantastic deals and discover new products from our favorite brands.

As you get geared up for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event later this month, this is a great way to feed the stoke and shop for awesome gear. It’s also a great way to show our support for equestrian businesses even when we can’t shop in person due to coronavirus restrictions. It truly does take a “village”!

The Virtual Vendor Village is taking place right here on EN through Saturday, April 17. Throughout the week, some of our favorite companies will be offering a “Deal of the Day” on their products — which means you’ll want to check in on their “booths” daily to make sure you don’t miss a sale! Expect deep discounts, special promotions and product giveaways.

Really, you’re in for all the shopping you could want this month since not only do we have myriad deals for you this week, but also Kentucky is hosting its own Vendor Village all week during the Three-Day Event, April 21-25. You’ll be able to find more on this online shopping event on the Kentucky website here.

Friday’s Deal Summary!

Banixx: Automatically get 20% off when you purchase at Valley Vet.

Brooks Belts: Get 15% off with code EN2021.

CamBox: Multiple deals that will run throughout the week: Cambox V4 Pro full bundle — Cambox V4 Pro + 64 Gb SD Card + 2 additional fasteners + protective case + Cambox cap + power bank + warranty extension $499 instead of $600; Cambox V4 Pro + 64 Gb Memory Card bundle — $475 instead of $525; Cambox V4 Standard + 32 Gb card + 2 velcro fasteners + Cambox Cap — $399 instead of $449; Cambox Origin + 16 Gb SD card + case + cap $199 instead of $276

Ecovet: Get 30% off through 4/17 with code Virtual30

Horse & Country TV: One month free trial if you sign up during the week of the Virtual Vendor Village

Horse & Rider Books: Get 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING on all print and ebooks and videos from the online bookstore with code VV21 at checkout

Kentucky Performance Products: Receive 20% off and free shipping with code ENVV2021 at checkout

Kerrits: Up to 60% off of at the Eventing Nation Sales Event

Legends Horse Feed:  $10 off one bag of Nutrena® Empower® Digestive Balance; $10 off one bag of Nutrena® ProForce® Feeds; $10 off one bag of ProElite® Feeds or Supplements

Mare Modern Goods21% off for customers using code KLREN21

Perri’s Leather: Get suede half chaps for only $30 (usual cost is $50.95) using code ZIP at checkout

Ride Heels Down: 20% OFF SITE-WIDE with coupon LRK3DE21 + FREE SHIPPING on in-stock items in the USA (Excludes customized items and Covid Collection products)

ShowAssist: Download the app!

SmartPak: Tack Bundle Giveaway — Harwich Bridle, AP or Dressage Medium Diamond Saddle Pad, SmartPak Classic Ear Bonnet; runs 4/15 and 4/16

Stable View: William Fox Pitt hat and DVD for $25 shipped; 50% off Oktoberfest accommodations (call 484-356-3173 to redeem); 50% off Eventing Academy Horse Trials (call 484-356-3173 to redeem)

VIP Equestrian: Get $10 off an order (valid 1 use per customer, good through 4/30/2021) using code LR2021

Tapestry Equine Products From 4/15 through 4/17 get a free pair of Spursuaders with orders of over $300 or more when you use code LR300 at checkout

Welcome to Friday’s Deals! 

Click on each brand’s tile to be taken directly to the featured item or brand website. Just a quick heads up: Stable View has three great offers, but two of them will not redirect you to a website. You’ll need to call to take advantage of those deals.                     
Go shopping and go eventing!