Classic Eventing Nation

GMHA June H.T. Is Canceled

Alexander Conrad and Malibu Preacher at GMHA H.T. in May 2019. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

The sole June event left standing on the Area I USEA calendar, GMHA June H.T. (scheduled for June 27-28 in South Woodstock, VT), has been canceled. The event was postponed from its original date of May 30-31.

Vermont’s stay-at-home order expired on May 15; however, other restrictions on out-of-state visitation and a prohibition of sporting events rule out the possibility of hosting an event.

“With so many GMHA competitors coming from out of state, even if competitions were allowed, it wouldn’t work,” says Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) Executive Director Bruce Perry. “For example, with our June Horse Trials, out of the 180 entries received only 29 would be able to compete.”

“We waited as long as we could before canceling, but we could not see our way through to hold these competitions successfully under the current restrictions,” he says.

GMHA issued the following statement this afternoon:

Hi everybody,

We miss you.

We wish we could greet you and your horses to South Woodstock.

But we can’t, at least not yet.

The State of Vermont continues to prohibit organized competitive sporting events. Furthermore, even for educational events, out of state visitors would need to quarantine in Vermont for 14 days. Access to lodging is effectively prohibited to out of state visitors until the quarantine period expires. These restrictions will continue until the “regional benchmarks” improve.

So, at a minimum, we’ll have to cancel the Spring Hunter Jumper Show (June 20-21) and the June Horse Trials (June 27-28).

We are working on alternatives to make GMHA accessible to our community as we go forward: educational events and a new configuration of Members Days that will work with State rules and social distancing guidance (we hope to include additional offerings and access to non-members). More details to come shortly.

As far as July and the rest of the summer, we have chosen to see what is possible rather than decide to cancel at this point. We will take entries, but not money, for July competitions so we can get a straw poll for interest. We are cancelling Junior Horsemanship Camp in August, there really is no way to make that work with social distancing, even if travel prohibitions loosen up.

We would love to hear from you. If you have ideas, send them our way. We have explored video with “GMHA Comes To You!” virtual learning and will expand that next winter, we’d love your input for smaller scale educational opportunities that would be workable during the COVID pandemic.

You are the heart of GMHA, and we hope that you keep us in mind if you can’t be here. Come visit when you can. Of course, you can imagine that this is tremendously challenging financially, and we would deeply appreciate if you would consider donating, maybe a portion of your entry fees, some of what you might have spent on gas coming up here … all of it will go to keeping our wonderful staff here for you when we finally can greet you here in person.

We’ll see you on the other side, GMHA. Learn more about GMHA here, and please consider making a donation here.

 

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: The Power of a Dream

The conversation surrounding equestrian sport’s undeniable diversity problem is an ongoing one, and certainly a common one amongst the team here at Eventing Nation as we look at the platform we’ve created and try to figure out the best way to use it to help.

One of those ways is by being accountable: ensuring we’re showcasing riders of colour, increasing representation and showing aspiring riders that they are welcome here. Another is by talking honestly and candidly about micro aggressions, barriers to entry, and systemic racism, so that we can all learn together and equip ourselves to dismantle these inherent structures and work towards a more level playing field. Then, of course, there’s the long game — figuring out how to create new gateways and how to restructure access points so that they’re more universal. We’ll be publishing some of the ideas and conversations we’ve been having amongst ourselves and with riders from a variety of backgrounds over the coming weeks and months, but this evening, we know that everyone is tired. We know that a fight like this is a huge one, and an exhausting one, and we know that sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a breather and take in some restorative joy. So tonight, we wanted to share a glimmer of hope from our friends in the racing industry, which was suitably shaken and stirred by the sparkling light that is teenager Khadijah Mellah, who became the first-ever hijabi jockey to win a race last year.

Together, the eventing community is able to make history — we’ve seen it before when one of our own has needed us to rally. We can move mountains when we work in tandem. Here at EN, we’re so proud to have a diverse, smart, forward-thinking readership, and we know that you will be just as important a part of these changes as any of us behind the scenes will be. So let’s stand strong, clasp hands together (from a distance, because, y’know, still a pandemic going on here), and change our corner of the world for the better.

Go Eventing.

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2020 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Postponed to 2021

Photo courtesy of the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Hotel.

The USEA Board has voted to postponed the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, scheduled for Dec. 10-13 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to 2021. Dangit, coronavirus! Guess I’ll have to wait another year to drink prickly pear margaritas with buddies on EN’s tab geek out about our sport with fellow eventing enthusiasts via seminars, committee meetings and open forums.

From the USEA:

 

“The USEA Board of Governors decided, after much deliberation and a survey of the membership, that it would be in our members’ best interest to postpone the 2020 Annual Meeting & Convention,” said Jennifer Hardwick, Senior Director of Membership Services & Meeting Planner. “This decision was not made lightly, but based on all that is happening in our world and with the safety of our members a top priority, it was the best decision for us to postpone this year’s convention.”

“The USEA staff and Board of Governors are exploring all possible options for hosting the 2020 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. The USEA By-Laws state that the Annual Meeting of Members must be held each year at the conclusion of the competition season, either at the USEA office or elsewhere in the country. The Board will be examining a number of possible solutions and select a course of action that will suit the greatest possible number of our members.

“One of the most anticipated parts of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention each year is the Year End Awards Ceremony, where the eventing community comes together to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of its members. While the Year End Awards Ceremony will not take place in its traditional format this year, the USEA still intends to devise a special way to honor the year end award winners at the conclusion of the 2020 competition season. At this time, the USEA has not made any decisions to adjust the way in which leaderboard points are tabulated for 2020.

““’Our members’ safety is of the utmost importance, and I could not wholeheartedly say, ‘Come to Albuquerque and enjoy the sights!’ while this is looming over all our heads,” Hardwick stated. “However wonderful it would be to see each of you, we do not want to put anyone in harm’s way.'”

Thanks for Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

[2020 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Postponed]

Three USEA Events Are Set to Run This Weekend: Let’s Be Smart About It, M’kay?

Plantation Field H.T. is fielding over 260 USEA H.T. and 190 Starter H.T. entries this weekend. Photo courtesy of AK Dragoo Photo.

Three USEA recognized horse trials are revving their engines to run this weekend following a months’ long suspension of events due to coronavirus: Plantation Field H.T. in Unionville, PA; Feather Creek H.T. in Norman, Oklahoma; and River Glen H.T. in New Market, Tennessee.

It might be easy, when you’re back in your happy place with the sun shining and the birds singing and the startbox beckoning, to revert to a business-as-usual mindset. It’s easy to forget, when you are surrounded by the familiar, that the out-of-body experience of the past three months even happened. But the reality is: We’re still living in a fragile moment, and you’ve got more responsibility than ever to yourself, to your community and to your horse.

As several hundred horses and riders countdown to events this weekend and the weekends following, let’s take the time for a reality check.

Reality Check #1: HEALTH

We’re just now poking our heads out from a global pandemic that has claimed 106,000 American lives and has sickened 1.8 million Americans, and four times that globally. Chester County, site of Plantation Field, has had 284 coronavirus deaths. Cleveland County, site of Feather Creek, ranks #3 out of 77 counties in Oklahoma for coronavirus caseload. Jefferson County, home of River Glen, is as out-in-the-sticks as it gets but has still seen dozens of cases. So don’t think that just because you’re at an event you aren’t capable of contracting or spreading the virus, or taking it home with you to the people you love. We may have flattened the curve but we’re far from being out of the woods.

We’ve got to police ourselves here. All USEA events are require to adhere to the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan, which can be found in the USEF COVID-19 toolkit. If an event isn’t complying with protocol, report it. If the people around you aren’t complying with protocol, report it. You can view Plantation Field’s protocol here and Feather Creek’s protocol here. I’ll be out at my local event River Glen this weekend, taking notes (in a mask, from a safe distance), and I’ll be reporting back to you on Monday morning about what I saw. Please don’t let me down.

It’s great that our sport is back up and running, but coronavirus took us down once and it can take us down again, all the way back to square one, if we don’t all do our part and stay vigilant.

Reality Check #2: SAFETY

Way back before a deadly novel virus and nationwide protests were consuming our bandwidth, the event world was facing another crisis: safety. On Feb. 29, at one of the last events before our show season went dark, Katharine Morel died in a rotational fall at Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. She was the fifth rider in eight months we lost to cross-country related accidents in North America alone.

I’m done writing obituaries.

The next time you head for the startbox, be it this weekend or a month from now or three months from now, remember that this is your horse’s first outing in some time. Take into account his physical and mental readiness, and yours as well. Nobody expects you to go for broke out there. Don’t gallop faster than your angels can fly, as a coach once told me. Your life is worth much more than a blue ribbon, and trust me: in a week or two from now, nobody will even remember who won Plantation Field, or Feather Creek, or River Glen June H.T.

If your horse doesn’t feel 100% in the warm-up, call it a day. If you get out on course and feel rusty, call it a day. If you’re entering an event and it’s been a hot minute, bump down a level. This checklist from the USEA is a great tool for self-evaluation. Can you tick ALL the boxes?

Reality Check #3: GRATITUDE

If anything, I hope the trials we have faced over the past three months — the trials we CONTINUE to face — have served as a reminder of just how fortunate we are: for our health, for our family’s health, for our horses, for the opportunity to be part of a sport and a community that welcomes us with open arms. What a privilege, which we too often take for granted. Whether you are eventing or not this weekend, take a quiet moment to let that sink in.

Feel gratitude, and express it. Thank your event organizer for going out of their way to create a space for you to do the thing you love, despite all the hurdles and uncertainty. Thank every volunteer you see — they are there by choice, and calculated risk. (Bonnie Kibbie, Chair of the USEA Volunteer Committee, suggests PATIENCE as Reality Check#4: “Please bear with event officials, volunteers, and organizers as they navigate a change to pretty much every aspect of how events are run. Scores will be slower to post because we are trying to limit passing papers around.”)

Thank your barn help, your trainer, and the family and friends who have anchored you through these tough times. And social distancing be damned, go give that horse of yours a big hug.

 

Now, more than ever, Go Eventing.

 

Plantation Field H.T. [Website] [USEA H.T. Entry Status] [Starter H.T. Entry Status] [USEA H.T. Schedule] [Starter H.T. Schedule] [Ride Times]

River Glen Summer H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Feather Creek H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

 

Marked Safe from Grass: The Founder Watch

I, Grassius. Photo by Holly Covey.

Ah, spring. The eternal wonders of beautiful warm weather, bright sunshine, blooming flowers … and bright, green, growing grass.

If you have a chunky monkey sort of horse who comes with a built-in vacuum appetite, you look around at spring time and admire the beauty. Then you go dig out the grass muzzle.

Event Horse has one of those “All In” appetites. His draft cross breeding gives him a handsome physique, corresponding workmanlike appetite, and the capacity to eat to oblivion — it’s a real contrast with the horses he is pastured among. Both the retired Standardbred racehorse and a large 17-hand Thoroughbred actually need the spring grass to cover their ribs after winter, but other than a little bit more rib fat, neither change much once the grass starts growing, and they don’t gorge like Event Horse.

So after a Kentucky Three-Day Event trip one year, I came home to a funny set of slightly puffy front pasterns, and immediately put Event Horse in front feet ice, called the vet, and cried. Because I knew what happened — it was the dreaded founder, or also known as laminitis. It’s not just a fat-pony disease!

Horses over age 10, easy keepers, or suffering from insulin resistance are especially susceptible to laminitis. This is a disease that pinpoints the sensitive laminae inside the hoof, causes a metabolic overload, and destroys the blood-rich sections of the laminae that connect the coffin bone to the hoof structure. As you can imagine, it’s extremely painful, dangerous to the future use of the horse, and hard to correct once the metabolic dominoes begin to fall. Catching it quickly and early is your only real hope, they say.

Grass, ordinary old grass, causes this. And here’s the reason. Most pastures have multiple varieties of grasses, some called cool season grasses that grow fast and early, and some warm season grasses that do better in hot summer. This is what keeps your pasture green for so many months.

What researchers have found is cool season grasses are built to grow fast and quick. When they take off in spring, they create a bit of danger when they store high levels of carbohydrates due to photosynthesis. The carb stored the most in spring is fructan, while later in the year, the carb most often stored is starch.

So the big concern is the early season grasses store the fructan, that the horses, like Event Horse, overdo on when spring grass gets wailing along. When we all get too much sugar, you know it can’t be good. And the process begins to get the susceptible horse into the laminitis pathway.

When the sugar overloads, naturally occurring insulin moves the excess sugar into the horses’ tissues for use by muscles, etc. Then in the case of sugar overload, insulin goes wacky, and blood flow to the hoof is increased and inflammation sets into the laminae.  The problem with this happening in the hoof is that this is a one-way vessel. The inflammation and disruption in the hoof makes for a very dangerous situation that can result in coffin bone rotation and permanent lameness. Eeek!

This is a real layman’s explanation, and I’ve oversimplified, but suffice it to say, if you value your event horse, you really do not want them to overdo on spring grass!

Let’s let the experts take it from here: 

So, back at the Home Turf, we were quite lucky to see on ex-ray of his front feet, that Event Horse was just in a very initial stage of threat, and continued icing and medication and complete stall rest with no grain and no grass for two weeks helped us to return him to soundness. I also changed his grass consumption habits at that time and will forever be cautious about his spring turnout and other over-indulgences that could open the pathways to laminitis again. I am ever vigilant.

I annually ex-ray him and we don’t see much in the way of changes, but I learned my lesson. Now each spring, I have a protocol for I, Grassius. He must go out only for a short time. He goes out early. He comes in early. He stays in barn more than the others. He is monitored with a weight tape. I try to keep him conditioning going to work off the excess carbs. We drop the grain. And … we apply the dreaded Grass Jail. I should write this in all caps, “GRASS JAIL,” as he refers to it.

Grass Jail is Event Horse’s word for the muzzle. It’s a good accessory for this problem, meant to limit the grass he intakes, at least, that’s the idea. Wearing it allows him the comfort of being with pals and turnout as usual in his favorite pasture, but keeps the actual amount he is eating limited. I bought it from a friend, used, but sturdy and clean. I went through the online ordered ones as Event Horse found them easily removeable and quite frail when he applied his classic jailbreak techniques.

These include rubbing it off on the side of the shed, scraping it along the ground, tossing his head extensively till it flies off into the sunset, and scratching it over his ears on the butts or sides of the two horses he is pastured with. And a few other techniques I haven’t been able to catalog. Just found the fractured muzzle forlornly sitting in the pasture, abandoned. Darn.

Muzzles are not the ideal situation because some horses learn to eat right through them very well, and gobble along making the best of it. Event Horse isn’t one of those. The muzzle makes him very sad. He can drink with it. But mostly he stands, shamed, waiting for me to come and take it off. He gives up.

He finds the muzzle I currently use to be extensively difficult to remove. It blows his mind. At first, he pawed. Then tried every trick he learned with lesser jails muzzles. He went to his friends and asked for their help (They were pretty neutral. I think it’s like, “you get so much more than we do, you’re on your own here, pal.”) He pawed some more. He went to drink some water. He drug it in the dirt afterwards, making a nice mud paddy in it to lick.

And other stuff, none of which really worked. He’s a smart horse but this one got him stumped. I’ve tried to coach him, by putting grass stems through the hole by the bottom, showing him how to do it. Nope. It’s just jail and I’m stuck in here.

The reason why is it fits well, it allows him to use his lips and mouth and jaw normally, but just can’t make big honking grass bites and this is hugely concerning to him. Stuffing his mouth is really his finest skill, and it hurts him in his heart (and stomach) not to be able to practice this particular way of eating each spring. He dreams of this all winter, I am sure. (With his nightmare being the Grass Jail muzzle.)

So we are here in deep spring, I writing this, looking out the window, to three horses on the spring pasture. Two are happily grazing. One is looking forlornly in the distance, dreaming of gobbling spring grass, and cursing at me inwardly while he awaits me to come and remove it. Not a chance, fatso!

Wednesday News & Notes from EcoVet

We wanted to once again shine a light on the efforts of those who bravely stand up for what must change. We first caught a glimpse of @UrbanCowgirl510 Brianna Noble in Monday’s News & Notes, and her statement continues to make waves in mainstream media surrounding nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

“I’m just another protester if I go down there alone, but no one can ignore a black woman sitting on top of a horse,” Brianna told The Guardian. “I know that what makes headlines is breaking windows and people smashing things. So I thought: ‘Let’s go out and give the media something to look at that is positive and change the narrative.'”

Before we get to the rest of today’s smattering of links, I thought I’d start off by highlighting ways that you can get involved in improving your community for everyone who is a part of it. If you’d like to find a way to get involved, you can find a helpful list of resources here.

We would also love to bring more attention to the efforts of those within the eventing community who are making strides against inequality. If you’d like to share a story with us, email. us at [email protected].

National Holiday: June 3 is also known as Global Running Day. If the shoe fits, I suppose.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Plantation Field H.T. [Website] [USEA H.T. Entry Status] [Starter H.T. Entry Status] [USEA H.T. Schedule] [Starter H.T. Schedule]

River Glen Summer H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Feather Creek H.T. [Website] [Entry Status]

Sport Horse Nation Match-Up of the Week: Yuki Igari & Poppin Good Pic. Each week we’re spotlighting a different horse/rider combination who came together through the eventing matchmaking service that is EN’s classifieds site, Sport Horse Nation. This week we’re happy to introduce you to Beginner Novice superteam Yuki Igari and Poppin Good Pic, a Thoroughbred gelding purchased from Courtney Cooper at C Square Farm. “I’m an amateur just having fun, and Poppin Good Pic has been a great teacher for me!,” Yuki says. “He is steady, confident, and athletic … just what I dreamed of. We’ve been to camps, clinics and horse trials from New England to South Carolina. And My dressage instructor is amazed how much he knows and how responsive he is.” Cheers, you two! Have a SHN success story to share? Email it to [email protected]. [Sport Horse Nation]

Horses thrive on routine, and establishing a strong fitness regimen before it’s time to compete again is important for preventing injury and overexertion. US Equestrian provides some tips and advice for bringing a horse back to fitness and getting back into the swing of things here.

Meet Amish cart pony turned eventer Talon Ted. This USEA Horse of the Month spotlight will bring a much needed smile to your face.

Thinking of volunteering as a jump judge when competitions resume? You’ll learn a lot, even if it isn’t your first time judging! Horse & Hound breaks down some lessons learned as a jump judge, and it should get you itching to get those volunteer hours in.

What We’re Listening To: Major League Eventing Podcast Episode #113. Karen and Rob have a roundtable discussion with three best friends Tamie Smith, Kelly Prather and Frankie Thieriot Stutes to chat about great times together including Luhmuhlen 5*, Tamie and Kelly as 5* grooms and Tamie’s stalking her favorite riders, as well as a more serious conversation about rider accountability and safety in the sport. [Listen]

Wednesday Video – Let’s take a trip down memory lane for Wayback Wednesday, to Tim Price’s Luhmühlen CCI5* win with Ascona M in 2019.

Ecovet is an entirely different type of fly spray … and you apply it to your horse in a different way, too. With fly season upon us, we’re sharing some tips for how to best apply Ecovet:

Tuesday Video from Flexible Fit Equestrian USA: ‘Checking In’ with Top Riders

An artist in the making…?

Have you been getting creative in lockdown? Well, so has Zara Tindall! ⠀⠀In yesterday's episode of The Check In, Jenny Rudall spoke to Olympian, Zara, about the secret talents she's been finessing through lockdown… All in aid of Equestrian Relief! 🎨⠀⠀To catch the full interview, head to the website, supported streaming services or app!

Posted by Horse & Country TV on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Check out H&C’s brand news series, The Check-In with Jenny Rudall. Jenny chats with top riders around the world to see how they’re doing and to share ideas. So far she’s included athletes like Piggy French, Gemma Tattersall, Boyd Martin and the Fox-Pitts. The latest check in was with Zara Tindall and you’ll never guess what she’s been up to.

The entire series can be viewed for free at this link.

Flexible Fit Equestrian: Redefining Comfort & Quality at an Affordable Price. Learn more at www.ffequestrian.com.au.

Ready for the Rendezvous: Pau CCI5* Expresses Intent to Run in 2020

Hallie Coon and Celien at Pau in 2018. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

For those in need of a glimmer of hope in these funny old times, look no further – we come bearing the happy news that Les 5 Etoiles de Pau, France’s autumn CCI5*, is still set to run in 2020, with all preparations for the fixture going ahead as usual.

“We are currently receiving many questions about the organisation of this year’s event,” said press officer Juliette Feytout in a statement today (June 2). “We are continuing to work on the 2020 vintage of the 5 Etoiles de Pau — a major celebration that will mark the 30th edition of this event, which is on the calendar of all the best riders in the world.”

In a season that’s been ravaged by the effects of COVID-19, this will come as welcome news — though it’s prudent to remember that much still hangs in the balance, and a second wave throughout Europe, or the continued closure of borders, could yet put a stop to the Pau dream. But should it run, we could be looking at a very exciting October indeed — Pau is set to run from October 21–25, with the inaugural Maryland CCI5* at Fair Hill and the World Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion d’Anger both scheduled for the week prior, October 15–18.

Us right now: Gwendolen Fer celebrates her win with Romantic Love. Photo by Libby Law.

When it comes to the expectant legion of fans, supporters, and riders alike holding out hope for a bustling end to the Season That Wasn’t, Pau acknowledges its own impact: “For our 40,000 visitors who eagerly await the event each year and the million people who follow it via streaming; for the 150 private partners and suppliers who rely on us; for our 100 exhibitors who are preparing their stands; for the territory in which we are anchored and that the 5 Etoiles de Pau helps to bring to life and promote each year; for the riders and drivers who await this exceptional sporting event, our team will give everything and do everything to ensure that Pau takes place this year, of course respecting the health regulations that may be necessary.”

“We would like to thank the partners who have already renewed their confidence in us despite their own difficulties, as well as the public who continue to buy their tickets, the exhibitors who attend, the Pau event volunteers who have registered – we need your support to continue. You will contribute to making this 30th edition an event even more extraordinary than usual, which will have a very special flavour.”

Mais oui.

With the cancellation of Adelaide’s CCI5*, Pau — if it’s able to run — will close out the 2020 five-star season, as well as the European season. You’ll be able to catch not just top-level eventing, but also world-class combined driving throughout the week — plus flash mob prize-giving madness, oysters for breakfast, and one of the best mountain views you’ll ever lay eyes on. The flavour of Pau is already pretty spicy, so we are truly beside ourselves with excitement over how this year could look.

You can nab your tickets to the 2020 renewal here, and stay tuned — we’ll be pulling together a travel guide to help you make the most of your first trip to the Pyrenees.

Go Eventing, and Go Pau!

A Letter to Me – Sara Kozumplik Murphy

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? That’s the topic of an ongoing series by Equestrian Marketing Firm Athletux. Today five-star rider Sara Kozumplik Murphy shares her letter. 

Previous letters: Tamie SmithJennifer WootenKaty RobinsonNatalia GurmankinJoanie MorrisWill Faudree, Jan Byyny

Photo courtesy of Sara Kozumplik Murphy.

Dear Sara,

You’ll get the news and you’ll be screaming driving home after teaching Pony Club.

You won’t be able to believe that anyone would back a 17-year-old to chase such a crazy dream, but guess what? Not one, but two families from your Mum’s riding school will. After working and teaching there since you can remember, people will want to help you because they love her.

You’ll be able to pack up your three OTTBs into the sturdy truck and trailer your parents take out a loan for and move to the great Jimmy Wofford’s.

It’ll feel exciting to be on your own. (Except you won’t really be on your own because Jimmy will watch over your every move). The amazing people that work at Fox Covert Farm will forgive your mistakes again and again.

You’ll keep your horses in a field next door with a run-in shed because that’s what you can afford.

The huge and seemingly impenetrable door will start to crack open just a little as you’re exposed to so many great horsemen and women.

You’ll barely understand a fraction of it, but you’ll watch and watch … a lifelong habit.

In three years, you will jump around your first Kentucky and be given a development grant from The Team (really Ms. Mars) to jump around Blenheim for the first time. You’ll do it in your Father’s old hunt saddle and by borrowing your Mum’s dressage saddle under pain of death. You’ll be listed for the first time.

Everyone will think that because you are there you must know how to ride, but you’ll be winging it.

Advice will go way over your head. The nuances of what people are saying will be far too complicated for where you really are. It will be similar to someone testing you with a calculus problem when you are just learning multiplication.

You’ll make up for it by picking yourself up over and over again and throwing your heart and your trust over each big track as it comes, because of your bond with an incredible American Thoroughbred.

In four years, you’ll win Young Riders on a different OTTB and go back to Blenheim in the same year on the steadfast Auggie.

By 23 you’ll have jumped Kentucky a few more times and Burghley twice.

By 25 you’ll have come 7th in the under 25 class at Bramham, jump Kentucky yet again, complete the World Cup at Pau, and jump clear around the last long format Badminton.

You’ll still know next to nothing. The more you realize this, the harder you’ll work … another lifelong habit.

People will underestimate you constantly. They’ll say you had great horses (true), amazing backing (true), and that you’re a lightweight ….

That’ll hurt more than you can possibly know. You’ll allow them to think this.

You won’t stop trying to be the best, and you’ll be kind to everyone along the way. You make that decision early on.

You’ll make money slightly differently than a lot of other riders. You’ll love site development and challenges that come up with helping countries new to the sport learn about it. You’ll be terrible with money, then much better … but you won’t lose your generosity and you’ll give back a lot to the sport you love.

You’ll have the best owner in the sport. She won’t walk away when times get tough for her or for you. She’ll become your family, she’ll never judge, she’ll always believe, and she’ll always forgive.

You won’t have an ego and you’ll surround yourself with the best possible riders and coaches. You’ll endure many feelings of inadequacy and frustration with yourself, but you’ll love the process of getting better in dressage and show jumping.

So many people will share their knowledge with you. A World Champion will be an incredible mentor and a lifelong friend.

For a bit, you’ll lose your cross country feel, and it’ll be the darkest time of your career.

Reclaiming what has always come without thinking is the biggest hurdle you’ll be faced with professionally. You’ll overcome it with the help of friends you made in the sport who understand like no one else can.

You’ll get to coach many wonderful people and you’ll even coach a country! It’ll be one of the craziest and best experiences of your life watching them look fantastic cross country at the international championships in Peru and Mexico. It will appear as if they hadn’t been doing the sport for such a short time. You’ll use your connections to mount them on lovely old horses that show them the ropes and keep them safe.

You’ll help the country qualify for the Pan American Games.

You’ll learn a lot from them about aiming high. It will re-inspire you.

Your husband will teach you not only about show jumping but about riding the right horses for your dreams. He’ll convince you to stop pushing horses to do what is a bit too hard for them and let them be stars at a lower level of the sport. You’ll enjoy watching those horses happily perform their new jobs well.

You’ll think he’s crazy, but you’ll follow his advice and go into debt to buy horses with more natural ability.

He will help you, and he was right.

You’ll get to ride at Devon, and you’ll win. In fact, you’ll start winning a lot on these new horses. The education you worked so hard for will combine well with their talent.

After overcoming financial and mental difficulties you’ll have three years of terrible accidents. In the last one, you’ll break your back and your neck.

Your husband will go above and beyond taking care of you through an incredibly hard recovery. He’ll never ask you to give up what you love although it frightens him.

Everyone will think your career is over.

You never will … they will be underestimating you again.

You’ll follow doctor’s advice to the letter and be back at the top level of your sport a year after your accident, fitter than before.

You’ll tie for the lead at the event where you fell, finishing on your dressage score.

You’ll ride your unicorn to a top few finish at a four-star short a couple of months later, and you’ll win an adversity award from the Jockey Club.

In 2020 you’ll feel on the top of your game with fabulous horses and opportunities. It’ll feel like it’s all just beginning.

So, kid, it’s all worth it. Keep going. You will be more than you can even fathom right now.

Love,

Sara

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Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

Photo by Shelby Allen.

“For too long, the horse show world has chosen to ignore the extreme social injustice embedded in American policy and tradition. We are an insular community with a gross amount of wealth and white privilege, and thus we choose the path of ignorance.”

If you read nothing else today, read this story from The Chronicle. Then read Tilly’s News and Notes from yesterday. I would like to echo Tilly’s aim to keep Eventing Nation a safe space for horse enthusiasts of any color. Our sport is not immune from these injustices that we see every day, but we can work together to create a more equitable space.

Go eventing.

National Holiday: National Leave the Office Early Day (erm, read the room national calendar!)

Tuesday News: 

COIVD-19 will likely sent ripples through our event calendar for the rest of the year. There have been many changes to upcoming events. You’ll find a complete list of cancellations here.

Top dressage rider Juan Matute Guimón has woken from a medically induced coma following a brain bleed. The most recent scans “couldn’t have been better” and though he remains on a ventilator, he is sitting up and interacting with his family. [Top rider takes ‘huge step forward’ in recovery from brain bleed]

When you make a riding mistake, it’s important to learn how to improve. But it’s equally important to be able to move on and not dwell on previous error. This is a brain exercise that you can perfect at home so you’re ready the next time you hit the saddle. [When You Make a Mistake, What Do You Do With It?]

Tuesday Video: A fun swap.