Classic Eventing Nation

Clinic Report: Jumping With WEG Gold Medalist Devin Ryan, Day 2

Contributor Allison Howell recently took a clinic with WEG show jumping team gold medalist Devin Ryan, and invited our sister site, Horse Nation, along for the ride. Miss out on Allison’s report on day one? Click here to catch up!

From L to R: New BFFs Allison Howell on Tipitina, Devin Ryan, and Dr. Malora Roberts on #tbmakeovergraduate Cassie — who can canter a vertical just fine. Photo by Brenda Howell.

Why, why, why, WHY is cantering over the tiniest, most adorably swishy, inviting (did I mention TINY?) vertical at a canter the hardest exercise ever invented by mankind? Day two at the Devin Ryan clinic began much the same as day one: I met with my super-supportive mother and friend to watch the big jumper group before we rode later in the day.

Devin warmed the group up, had them lengthen and shorten within the gaits as he had on day one, had them drop their stirrups for a bit and then dug into them at the shoulder-in: “You must do this properly, it’s like going to the gym, it’s a strengthening movement; if you don’t do it properly, it doesn’t work.”

After that, he had them go through three trot cavaletti. Here Devin focused on contact again, imparting that “dropping them in front of a jump is abandoning our horses. Learn to have a light contact throughout the course … some horses need more of a release, some less, but keep a contact.” He then had the big jumpers canter for eight strides after the cavaletti, then transition back to trot, emphasizing “courses are all transitions!”

Then, as a warm-up, he introduced the vertical. Placed very unassumingly in the middle of the arena on the short approach, I watched the riders canter over it in circle, some taking off a little long or a little short initially. Once they were jumping from the appropriate distance, Devin had them place both reins in their outside hand and put their inside hand behind their back “to make your reins more united” and work on balance: “balance is never in your hands!”

And at that point I had the audacity to think “oh, I am going to be so good at this.” I had been practicing a good amount of cavaletti and short turn work in our indoor at home…

Spoiler alert: I was not so good at this.

Dear Kama: if there is a pile of little blue matchsticks in your arena where that friendly, blue, adorable, little swishy jump used to be – IT WAS ME. My mom, my wonderfully-supportive just-trying-to-help-me-get-better mother, videoed every attempt I made at that wretched vertical, to the point that when I was scrolling through the videos and thinking “dear God, woman, just give up already!”

I just could NOT seem to get the approach to this thing right. In spite of my efforts to

  • count from 8 strides away,
  • establish and maintain a good canter,
  • and keep my horse in the appropriate amount of flexion for the circle,

I pushed poor Tipsy for the long spot time and time again. Devin was level-headed throughout the whole clinic, but at this point I could hear the frustration begin to creep into his voice as he sagely repeated “when in doubt, wait it out.” The only slight consolation was that my partner in this exercise seemed to be having similar difficulties. Finally, FINALLY, I sat up and waited for that extra heartbeat and got in that extra stride to the jump. “You must trust her!” he commanded. “Easy for you to say, gold medalist,” I quipped back… in my head.

After that torture session was over, Devin had us start working on a course. This course started at the top with the vertical we had jumped the day before placed on the short side, serpentine around to the Vertical-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, then around to the end of the ring and up over a teeny-tiny natural vertical, then halt after. (The halt at the end of the line seemed to help the one mare in our session that liked to get a little “wahoo!” to the jumps.)

For some reason, Tipsy decided to jump the little vertical like it was on fire. She has a tendency to jump things a little big every now and again, I’ve gotten in the habit of slipping my reins when she does this to try and avoid grabbing her in the mouth. I expected to get an earful from Devin for landing in a heap, but he was actually okay with the fact that I didn’t punish her for a big attempt.

After everyone performed the warm-up course satisfactorily, he had us incorporate the outside line backwards: we came in over the vertical, three strides to another vertical, one stride to an oxer, roll back to the vertical at the top of the ring, then around the whole ring to the other outside line – an oxer to a vertical in four strides. For this course, the focus was REALLY on maintaining the canter: there were nice long stretches up and down the arena where we had to focus on keeping the same canter rhythm, not fading in the corners and then accelerating in front of the jump. This was a good reminder for me to pay attention the whole time, as I tend to get a little casual if I’m not focused on a jump a few strides ahead.

Next: The Full Course – with liverpool! He asked who had jumped one before: Tipsy has done it with a pro, but we were dealing with some confidence issues this summer and I did not want to introduce an element that I wasn’t completely prepared to handle at the time. I had some trepidation but figured “eh, if I really mess this up, there’s a WEG gold medalist here who can fix her,” and off we went. The nice thing is he knocked it down to basically nothing the first time we did this course, and Tipsy sailed over it like a pro.

The full course was 13 jumps – 13! As someone who deals with wicked nerves while competing I was more than a little worried I would blank in the middle. Happily, I did not! I tend to get lackadaisical when riding courses and am frequently told to “look!” for where I am going next (so much so that I now hear the words “look” and “stay organized” in my coach’s Hungarian accent – thanks David!) so having the course in the indoor with so many elements was an excellent mental exercise, as well as physical practice. The added task of counting eight strides away, and then counting the strides down the lines, made it that much more cognitive, but also helped take the focus off my nerves once I got started.


  • It is never an option to accelerate in front of the jump – when in doubt, wait it out!
  • Every top rail has a bullseye – pick a spot and ride to it
  • Pace, track, and distance are the keys to good jumping
  • Corners have shape and bend!

I had a blast at this clinic. Other than the “counting eight strides away” exercise, there was nothing totally new or innovative that I hadn’t seen before, but the way Devin was able to establish big themes, and then pick on the details to make everything more cohesive was what left me most impressed.

Additionally, his ability to split his focus and attention between the six riders in my group was also impressive. We’ve all been to a clinic where one rider gets the majority of the attention and everyone is left feeling shorted. We had a really talented but spicy mare in our group who started the weekend thinking that the line of cavalettis was a timed event, and ended the weekend with some of the softest turns and most athletic efforts over the jumps, and he didn’t really spend any more time on her than he did the rest of us. If you have a chance to ride or audit with Devin Ryan, I highly recommend it!

Allison Howell lives in Virginia with her two dogs, a tolerant fiance and Danish warmblood mare. She is a passionate advocate for OTTBs, and her 2016 Makeover horse is currently leased to a good friend. Mares are the best; don’t @ me.

Wednesday News & Notes from Attwood Equestrian Surfaces

Work hard, play hard. Photo via Boyd Martin FB page.

Some of the best team building happens in the offseason, when the whole crew has spent all day slogging through the wet, cold, miserable weather and the best thing you can do it give the horses a day off and head to the nearest Mexican joint for tamales and margaritas and maybe something hot to drink. 

National Holiday:  Look for an Evergreen Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Recognizeds are on vacation for the remainder of 2018!

Your Wednesday News & Notes

Camilla Mortensen usually imparts a story about her spicy mare Cairo, but today’s blog is a love letter for her first Thoroughbred. Huey was a heart for Camilla to point herself into after two ended relationships and a cross-country move. He did all the things but jump over 3 feet, so when it came time to decide between her heart and her ambition, she chose to let him go to someone who loved him as much as she had…who then passed him to another who loved him until the end. [Everything I Needed to Know]

Riders are often intrepid souls and two entrepreneurial spirits bumped in together at a farm in Georgia. Ainsley Jacobs started Ride Heels Down apparel four years ago, then happened to move to a barn where Mary Campbell of Mare Modern Goods was already boarding. Despite being competitors in the market, the two became close friends, with Ainsley even converting Mary to the dark-side of eventing. [Community is Stronger Than Competition]

Is your horse on the naughty list? What funny “naughty” things has your horse done this year? Share the stories (and photos if you have them)  for a chance to be featured on EN’s sister site Jumper Nation next week! Post them to Facebook here or email [email protected]

Attwood Wisdom of the Week: When the Weather Outside Is STILL Frightful….Move to Hawaii and Still Build a Covered Arena

Want to know more about the most advanced footing solutions on the market today? Please call Attwood Equestrian Surfaces at 888-461-7788.

Tuesday Video from SpectraVet: Would Your Horse Do This? Holiday Edition

Horses Lit Up With Christmas Lights

Now these guys have absolutely nailed their Christmas lights! 😲🐎👏

Posted by LADbible on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Looking for a fun desensitizing exercise for your horse this holiday season? If you don’t value your own personal safety, why not adorn them in festive Christmas lights. If you do decide to go for it (not recommended) please don’t forget to send EN the video. Happy Holidays.

Why SpectraVET?

Reliable. Effective. Affordable.

SpectraVET is committed to providing only the highest-quality products and services to our customers, and to educating the world in the science and art of laser therapy.

We design and manufacture the broadest range of clinically-proven veterinary therapeutic laser products, which are represented and supported worldwide by our network of specialist distributors and authorized service centers.

Let’s Discuss: An Eventer Looks at Colleges

EN young rider blogger and high school Junior Grace Gorham is just beginning the process of looking at colleges and she’s feeling … more than a little overwhelmed. Can you offer any words of wisdom? Let’s discuss! 

Photo courtesy of Grace Gorham.

From Grace: 

Junior year is known by many as the most stressful year in high school. This is the year when classes get hard, you are prepping for senior year and college, and you start to realize that there really isn’t that much time until “the future.” So far, it’s not that bad with my classes, but what is really overwhelming to me is all of the “thinking about the future.” In this post I’ll share with you my thoughts about the college process and my experiences to far, and I hope that others are able to relate.

I am just in the beginning of my college search; I have visited four fairly local schools so far. With each school that I’ve visited, however, it seems that I just feel more confused! I’m not sure that it’s supposed to work like that … I have so many ideas of what I think I’m looking for in a college in my head, but after each visit, those ideas shift until I’m not even sure what I want anymore.

One of the hardest parts for me is the fact, while the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program is rapidly growing (there are currently 30 USEA affiliated colleges and universities), most schools still don’t have eventing teams. There are plenty of schools with IHSA teams, but very few with eventing. It’s understandable because for eventing you need your own horse, and for IHSA, you don’t — but it’s still frustrating. I’m not sure if I would be happy doing IHSA or not. Right now I feel like I would enjoy it. Obviously it’s very different from eventing, but I think I would enjoy the team atmosphere, and it would be something to help my position and become a more versatile rider.

Another decision I will have to make is whether I want to bring my own horse, compete on an IHSA team, look specifically for a school with an eventing team, or not compete at all and just be on a team recreationally. The one thing I am sure about is that I definitely don’t want to go to a college with absolutely no equine programs, whether that means it has a major or minor in equine studies, an equestrian team, or a barn on campus. That way even if I don’t bring my own horse or ride on a team, I can still have the barn atmosphere to be around or just ride for fun. I think I would feel a little lost without riding, since it’s been such a huge part of my life for over 10 years now.

The four schools that I have visited so far each have their own positives and negatives. For example, with some schools I liked their equine programs, but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the student population. With others, I liked the campus, but not the majors or courses offered. The list goes on and on. I just keep thinking about how it would be so much easier if I could just combine different aspects of each school and create my perfect school!

My ideal school would be something with a small to medium population (about 2,000 to 7,000 students), an equine program, a busy town or small city, and good educational programs. I am hoping to do something in the equine media field (read more about that here), so I think it would be best to go to a school that has a major in something related to communications and media or journalism. I still have to do more research about which major would be best; I’m not sure whether it would be better to have a more general major (such as English) or a very specific major (like an actual equine media major).

As you are probably already thinking, there’s no way I’m going to get all of this in one college. I feel like I’m on an episode of House Hunters where the people say, “I want a modern, 3,000 square foot open floor plan, with seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, all new appliances, a huge yard, within five minutes of my work and five minutes from everything else I do, oh, and all under $200,000.”

So, I’m going to have to do some research, talk with some people, and figure out what my priorities are. Hopefully I will be able to figure out which schools I want to look at that are further away, and we can make some trips to different places. If you have gone through or are going through the decision of colleges, please leave a comment below about what your strategies were or what helped you through this stressful time.

Read more from Grace at her blog,

ELD Woes Now Over?

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The slow-moving debate over electronic logging devices for all commercial motor vehicles has been raging for what’s felt like forever. Just over a year ago in November of 2017, the news caught many in the horse industry by surprise that all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) would be required to carry an electronic logging device (ELD) to help drivers comply with laws mandating rest periods and driving limits. For anyone hauling live animals, that can be a big problem.

The definition of a commercial motor vehicle had not changed, but many horse owners were surprised to learn that their rigs had been considered CMVs all along — and would therefore be sharply affected by the requirement to electronically log their time behind the wheel. While the concept behind the ELD comes from a desire to improve safety, there are plenty of gray areas that the new mandates did not appropriately address: imagine being forced to pull over at a rest area and stop driving for 10 hours while your horses stand on the trailer. That’s exactly the scenario that the new laws would have created.

With very little public awareness of these changes, various organizations in the horse industry, chiefly the American Horse Council, pushed back, working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to try to reach a compromise for compliance. These changes would affect not only equestrians, but all livestock haulers, and the national Farm Bureau and cattlemen’s groups also joined the fight.

Here’s a quick timeline of the ELD debate:

  • November 2017: the ELD requirement first becomes a nationally-known issue for livestock haulers
  • January 2018: the mandate is waived until March 2018 to grant haulers more time to comply (and for a better solution to be reached)
  • April 2018: temporary exemptions were created until September 2018 by the omnibus bill in Congress

Brief spending bills passed by Congress throughout the fall to avoid government shutdowns included language that pushed compliance back first to December 7, then to December 21 of 2018. Now, however, the FMSCA website includes a pagethat specifically states:

Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD.  The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice.  Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.

It’s unclear if “further notice” will eventually come down the road, or if this is a permanent solution. We encourage all haulers to keep an eye on the FMSCA website for further alerts, but for now, it does appear that all livestock haulers can stop holding their breath.

Go riding.

As reported by Horse Nation

Must Watch: This Three-Star Horse Was a Cow Pony in Another Life


What does your three star horse do in the off season? Mowgli was in heaven today, Pure joy. I think there may be some cow cutting in his future? Kids do multiple sports these days right? who wants to come play Mowgli in the middle?!? 😉😂🤷🏻‍♀️🙈🤪🥰 #thanksforthelaughs #christmascameearly #monkeyinthemiddle #hissmilewascontagious #noshortageofpersonality #funinthesun #iwastryingtoplaygoalie #betterstarttraininghesfast! #mardanzafarm

Posted by Maya Black on Monday, December 17, 2018

This video of Maya Black’s three-star horse Mowgli playing with his ball is priceless. He was clearly a cow pony in another life! The 8-year-old Thoroughbred (Our New Recruit X Night Siren, by Fast Account) owned by The Mowgli Syndicate certainly proves that the breed is suited to a variety of different disciplines. On that note, trainer applications are now open for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover.

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

I am all about this decorated tree that I’ve seen floating around on Facebook lately. We’ve published some reader submissions for crafty uses for all those horse show ribbons, but this has to be the most festive. I, personally, have two trees in my house, so I know what one will be decked out with next year!

National Holiday: National Answer the Phone like Buddy The Elf Day

Events Opening This Week: Stable View Winter Horse TrialsThree Lakes Winter I H.T. at Caudle RanchSporting Days Farm February H.T. IGalway Downs Winter H.T.

Tuesday News: 

Donate to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation this holiday season. They’re running a “hay drive” to help feed 700+ horses, and each dollar you give will be matched thanks to the generosity of the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation. [Donate to TRF]

The USEA has announced the location and dates of the 2019 Young and Future Event Horse Championships. FEH will again have three: FEH Central at Snowdonia Farms (Sept. 26), FEH West at Twin Rivers (Sept. 19), and FEH East at Loch Moy (Sept. 28-29). The YEH East Coast will be held at Fair Hill again (Oct. 17-18), and the West Coast will be at Fresno (Oct. 20). [Dates and Locations Announced for the 2019 USEA Young and Future Event Horse Championships]

“R” Judge Chris Wynne, might be most well known in the horse world for his judging at hunter shows, but he’s also a master with some Christmas lights. You’ve got to see this display! [Walking In A Wynne-ter Wonderland]

Tuesday Video: Julie Wolfert Eventing had yet another stellar year in the books! Check out some highlights from 2018:

Monday Video from Total Saddle Fit: On Top of the World at Inavale Farm H.T.

Need a little Monday pick me up? Just imagine: a picture-perfect Haflinger, ears pricked and mane flowing, galloping along across the green spring grass and enthusiastically clearing every fence in his path. You don’t actually have to imagine that though, just watch Erin Lampre and Next Big Thing tackle the Beginner Novice Amateur at Inavale Farm Horse Trials this past June.

Erin and “Cass” are certainly ‘On Top of the World’, as the song goes, as they rock around course double clear. It looks this pair had a great spring and summer, but Erin is currently healing from a broken leg sustained a couple months ago. We’d like to with Erin a speedy and smooth recovery — may you be back in the saddle ASAP!

Big Opportunities for Area IV Adult Riders in 2019

Jessica Smith, Adult Rider Coordinator for USEA Area IV, asked us to help get the word out about exciting opportunities for Area IV Adult Riders in 2019. Happy to oblige! Have info to share from your area? Email us at [email protected]

Area IV Adult Riders represent at the 2018 American Eventing Championships. Photo via the Area IV Facebook page.

For those of us in Area IV who have dreamed of riding in the the American Eventing Championships, 2019 and 2020 hold a unique opportunity with the Championships coming to the Kentucky Horse Park. Between promises of all show jumping rounds being held in the main arena and cross country courses likely to run through the iconic Head of the Lake, the 2019 and 2020 AECs will truly be a championship of a lifetime.

It is lesser known to many competitors that there is a second competition that also runs at the AEC — the Adult Team Championship (ATC). The offspring of the once infamous Chronicle of the Horse Team Challenge, the ATC’s allows two teams of four riders at levels Beginner Novice through Preliminary from each area to compete for impressive cash and prizes. Only riders from the Adult Amateur and Rider divisions are eligible making the competition targeted at non- and lower-level professionals. Because it is a team competition, Area IV Adult Riders can send up to 32 riders to represent the area and can provide financial backing in the form of team gear and offsetting some expenses. One of the goals of the program is to provide an opportunity for non-Olympic level riders to have the experience of riding on a team and representing something larger than themselves with their riding.

My goal as the Adult Rider Coordinator for Area IV is to start working now to have eight riders from each level (BN-P) working together through most of the year to fundraise and create an amazing team experience to represent Area IV Adult Riders. I have many great ideas from other areas and past Team Championships on how to shape this team experience, but I need input from my membership to determine how YOU want to see this unfold. I would like to propose an open conference call for all interested Area IV Adult Rider members at 7 p.m. CST on Jan. 14, 2019, to gather ideas on how to select teams, fundraising ideas, and ways to promote team spirit for Area IV through 2019 and beyond. My goal is to get ideas and input from as many people as possible and then create a core committee to work on putting ideas into action in early 2019 and through to the ATCs at the AECs. I will post the conference call numbers on the Area IV Facebook page and on the Area IV website a few days before the conference call. If you cannot join the call or would like to communicate with me directly, please email me at [email protected]

Do you think you won’t be able to qualify for the AEC or is it still just too far away to be realistic? Plan to head to the Summer Otter Creek H.T. in Wheeler, WI, Aug. 9-11, 2019 for the AR/YR Team Challenge. Riders can request teammates or the Adult Rider Coordinator will create teams from the entry list before the competition (you can opt out of being on a team if you wish). Levels included are Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, and joint Prelim/Intermediate teams. This is a fantastic opportunity to have a team experience without having to leave the area or meet any extra qualifications. It will also be a great prep for the AEC! Young Riders are also welcome and encouraged to participate! Additionally, please contact me if you are interested in volunteering to help organize/run the AR/YR Team Challenge or have any great sponsorship ideas for prizes (hey I have to get in all the shameless plugs that I can here!).

Finally, are you unsure how to sign up for Adult Riders or want to check to see if you are a member? No worries! I can help! First of all, the Adult Rider Program is open to all USEA members over the age of 22. Both pros and amateurs and everyone in-between is welcome. You can join or check your status by going to and clicking on the log in button on the upper right hand corner. Once you log in, your “Membership Profile Dashboard” (second box down in the column on the left) will tell you if you are an Adult Rider Program Member or not.

If not, just click the hyperlink to “Join you Member Program” and you can pay the $25 per year membership fee online. Boom, that’s it! The program supports more than just Team competitions. There are year end awards, lowest score awards at every Area IV event, a virtual team competition that runs all year, social events and even an upcoming Adult Rider Camp July 15-16 also at Otter Creek Farm. Please let me know if you have other ideas for Adult Rider programming or feedback on existing programs. I am here to serve so let me know what you think!

Thanks for all of your input and I can’t wait to talk to a bunch of you in January! Happy Holidays!

While we’ve got them on the line, congratulations to all 2018 winners of Area IV Adult Rider Low Score Awards! 



USEA Announces 2019 Dates and Locations for FEH/YEH Championships

Tamie Smith and MB MaiBlume: 2018 USEA Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old East Coast Champions. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

The USEA has announced the dates and locations for the 2019 Future Event Horse (FEH) Championships and the 2019 Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships, as well as a new qualification structure for the YEH Championships.


YEH West Coast Championships will be held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, at Fresno County Horse Park in Fresno, California.

YEH East Coast Championships will be held Thursday-Friday, October 17-18, 2019, during Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland. (The organizers are placing a cap of 55 horses at the YEH championships, so competitors will be urged to enter on the opening date. Of the 55 slots, 40 of those will be reserved for 5-year-olds, while the last 15 slots will be for 4-year-olds.)


FEH West Coast Championships will be held Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in conjunction with Twin Rivers Fall Horse Trials in Paso Robles, California.

FEH Central Championships will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at Snowdonia Farms in Tomball, Texas

FEI East Coast Championships will be held Sept. 28-29, 2019, at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland

Changes to Note

The YEH program introduced major changes in 2018, including shorter dressage tests and a new scoring and judging system. The jumping/galloping test now accounts for 70% of the final score at both qualifiers and championships, and includes individual scores for each of the five show jumping efforts and 10 cross country efforts.

Those changes will remain in effect for 2019, along with a new qualification structure. Previously, a horse could qualify for the YEH Championships by scoring 70% or higher at two qualifying events, or by scoring 75% or higher at one event. Starting in 2019, horses must have one score of 75% or higher at any qualifier to be eligible for the 2019 YEH Championships.

Questions about the FEH or YEH programs? Contact Kate Lokey at [email protected].

[Dates and Locations Announced for the 2019 USEA Young and Future Event Horse Championships]