Classic Eventing Nation

Thursday Videos from SmartPak: Blanketing Smart Tips

If your teeth are chattering like mine, you’re likely experience blanket season wherever you are in the world. To layer or not to layer? How do you attach leg straps? What about proper blanket washing and storage? SmartPak answers all of these questions and more in this video series on blanketing.

Bundle up, and Go Eventing!

Video Resource Guide: Learn Your Dressage Tests for the 2019 Season

EN published a video resource guide of the new USEF dressage tests last year thanks to David Frechette, the patron saint of eventing video. We’ve updated the guide this year with more videos! Scroll down to view videos of all 14 USEF dressage tests from Beginner Novice to Advanced level.

As a helpful reminder, all of the A tests track left and all of the B tests track right. Click here for helpful test-riding tips from FEI dressage judge Marilyn Payne from her preview presentation of the new tests at the USEA Convention.

Click on each dressage test to open it in a new window. Watch more tests on The Horse Pesterer YouTube channel. Go Eventing.

Beginner Novice Test A 

Beginner Novice Test B

Novice Test A

Novice Test B

Training Test A

Training Test B

Modified Test A

Modified Test B

Preliminary Test A 

Preliminary Test B

Intermediate Test A

Intermediate Test B 

Advanced Test A

Advanced Test B

5 Fun Activities for Your (and/or Your Horse’s) Day Off in Ocala

All work and no play makes Ocala a pretty dull place to be. Taking a personal day every now and again can keep you fresh and on your A-game in the tack. Here are five ideas, some horsey and some not, for fun ways to spend your day off.

Julie Pate and Jet at Amelia Island. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Hit the Beach

Galloping along a sun-drenched beach with the sparkling surf lapping at your horse’s feet … that’s the stuff of equestrian fantasy, especially this time of the year.

Amelia Island is about two-and-a-half hours northeast of Ocala, close-ish to Jacksonville, and it’s horse (and dog!) friendly. There’s beachside trailer parking at Peter’s Point Park (600 Peters Point Road / Fernandina BeachFL 32034), and this time of the year you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself. With 13 miles of sandy seashore to explore, this is a true bucket-list experience.

Call the Little Talbot Island ranger station at (904) 251-2320 prior to visiting for more information.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Spend an Afternoon at HITS

There were several eventers in the crowd at last Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, and the exciting turn-and-burn jump-off had us all on the edges of our seats. There’s plenty to learn from our show jumping brethren.

In its 38th year running, HITS Ocala is a prime winter destination for hunter-jumper snowbirds, with 10 weeks of National and Premier-rated hunters, 5* and 6* jumpers and two USHJA International Hunter Derbies. The circuit culminates each March with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.

The venue, Post Time Farm (13710 US Highway 27 / Ocala, FL 34482), has some of the prettiest arenas in the country, shaded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Peruse the tack vendors, admire the swanky stall setups, and on your way out be sure to stop by infamous watering hole The Beach for a cold one.

For more information and a calendar of upcoming Grand Prix classes, visit the HITS Ocala website here.

Other equestrian events to check out: combined driving at Live Oak International on March 7-10 (there’s a $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Qualifier Grand Prix on Sunday as well) and an Ocala Breeders’ Sale (the next one runs Jan. 29 – 30).

Speaking of racing, there are more than 600 Thoroughbred farms in the Ocala/Marion County area, and several offer tours — click here for a directory.

Three Sisters Springs in the Crystal River. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Swim with Manatees

Ocala isn’t just a winter destination for eventers! More than 400 manatees migrate to nearby Crystal River, about an hour from Ocala, during the winter months to escape the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A number of Crystal River outfitters offer visitors an opportunity to get up close and personal with these gentle creatures, as this is one of the only places in Florida where you’re legally permitted to swim with manatees in their natural habitat. Many will rent you a kayak, wet suit and snorkel/mask, give you a map, and send you on your way to explore the area’s turquoise blue water for a few hours, or you can opt for a guided tour.

Keep your eyes peeled for manatees, particularly near designated protected springs, and feel free to hop on in as the springs flow at a constant 72 degrees year-round. The area is also great for birdwatching, and when we went last week we even had a close encounter with a dolphin!

“Looks like I’m smiling with joy but really you can’t do anything else with your face when you’re falling at 120 mph.” Photo by Tyfani Detky.

Go Skydiving

You’re clearly predisposed to seeking out adrenaline rushes, so skydiving should be right up your alley. Several eventers, including EN’s own Jenni Autry (see photo above), have taken the leap at Skydive DeLand and returned with rave reviews.

Located about an hour and 15 minutes from Ocala, Skydive DeLand (1600 Flightline Boulevard / DeLand, FL 32724) is a full-service drop zone open every day of the year and offers personalized experiences for jumpers of all skill levels. Novices are in good hands going tandem, and training programs are offered if you get the itch to take it to the next level. I mean, don’t you need another expensive sport in your life?

Visit the website here.

Mary Ellen Sanger and Tupelo. Photo by Leslie Wylie. 

Unwind on the Trail

A long, slow trail ride is a great way to unwind, and fortunately for equestrians Ocala is laced with bridle paths. Ocala National Forest has an impressive trail system, including the LAM (Lake/Alachua/Marion) Trail which stretches for 34 miles and is marked with yellow blazes. The Swim Pond horse trailer parking area serves as the main trailhead for all equestrian trails in the Forest. It is between Moss Bluff and Umatilla, just east of Doe Lake — see directions here.

You’ve noticed that land bridge running across I-75 on your way to the Florida Horse Park? That’s part of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile nature park that crosses central Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. John’s River, a destination for trail riders. Park at the Land Bridge Trailhead (11100 SW 16th Avenue / Ocala, FL 34476), which has paved parking for horse trailers, restroom facilities, a picnic area and water. Florida Horse Park also adjoins the Greenway.

Over the weekend we took the horses out for a long stroll in Goethe State Forest, which features 126 miles of multi-use trails. There are several different trailer friendly trailheads to access the Forest — find a map here.

Have an Ocala day-off suggestion? Share in the comments! 

Go Eventing.

Thursday News & Notes from Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS)

A lil TBT for you guys of when I was young and impulsive.

I’ve been trying my darnedest to keep up with the horses working this week, but between it being 3 degrees for several days and then raining the other days, it’s been a real struggle. I know I’m mostly through winter and I just have to stick it out a little longer before I can start complaining about the heat, but lemme tell you, going on hacks down the dirt road is getting really, really old. There aren’t enough podcasts in the world.

National Holiday: National Compliment Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Rocking Horse Winter I H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm January H.T [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Fresno County Horse Park Combined Test [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Live Scores]

News From Around the Globe:

Gentle giants will be descending upon Wellington, Florida in the upcoming weeks. The inaugural Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show is coming to Crab Orchard Farm for three days of exciting six-horse hitch competition, offering a contrast to the usual dressage and showjumping sports most common in the area. The top five North American teams for each of the three featured breeds Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians, will compete for winnings of up to $25,000. The one-off show is free to the public. [Heavy Horses Burst Into Florida]

Looking for some top tips from international riders to get you out of the winter doldrums? We’ve got you covered. Tom McEwan and Richard Jones recently shared some excellent advice on how to warm your horse up for show jumping and improve your technique and performance in this phase. With show jumping becoming more and more influential at all levels, you can’t afford to miss this. [19 Top Tips from Top Eventers]

Noticing a weird rubbed patch or bald spot on your horse’s back this winter? With clip jobs, we are more likely to see this kind of thing during the winter, and more than likely, it’s a sign you need your saddle checked. Horses change shape throughout the year, and saddles that fit last January don’t always fit this January! Here are some top tips to figure out what’s going on. [Rubbed Hair on My Horse’s Back]


Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Bowling for Show Jumps

Bowling is the New Showjumping

#WowJumping | PegaseBuzz

Trouvez-moi un cheval qui fait ça aussi bien que lui et on en reparle, ok ?

via Tobias Hanke

Posted by PegaseBuzz on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You’ve heard the expression “bowling for show jumps,” but this horse takes it to the next level. STRIKE!

Neigh-Lox® Advanced provides a scientifically advanced blend of ingredients that work synergistically to maintain your horse’s digestive tract in peak condition by supporting both the gastrointestinal tissues and the beneficial bacteria that populate the gut. Maintaining a healthy digestive tract reduces the risk of colonic and gastric ulcers, colic, laminitis related to hindgut acidosis, and oxidative stress that damages digestive tract tissues themselves. Horses with a well-balanced GI tract have good appetites, absorb more nutrients from their diets, maintain a strong immune system, and stay healthier.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®. Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? We are here to help. Contact Kentucky Performance Products, LLC at 859-873-2974 or visit our website at

USEA Announces Charles Owen Technical Merit Award Host Events for 2019

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Heads up (and heels down) Training level competitors! The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is back for a 10th year. This prize recognizes juniors and amateurs who demonstrate appropriate and safe cross country riding at designated events around the country, while educating riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross country riding.

From the USEA:

The COTM Award will be presented at one event in each of the 10 USEA Areas at the Training level to one junior and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross country round on the five criteria listed below and receives a scoresheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross country riding technique.

Read more about the five criteria here.

Each Award winner will receive a Charles Owen body protector and helmet bag, and the overall highest scoring junior and adult amateur rider from all 10 events will receive a voucher for a Charles Owen helmet. The USEA will provide ribbons through third place for each junior and adult amateur at every host COTM event.

The tentative 2019 COTM calendar:

Pine Top Advanced H.T. | February 23-24, 2019 | Thomson, GA (Area III)

Golden Spike H.T. | June 15-16, 2019 | Ogden, UT (Area IX)

Coconino Summer I H.T. | July 5-7, 2019 | Flagstaff, AZ (Area X)

The Event At Rebecca Farm | July 24-28, 2019 | Kalispell, MT (Area VII)

Cobblestone Farms H.T. | August 2-4, 2019 | Dexter, MI (Area VIII)

Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club H.T. | August 17-18, 2019 | Geneseo, NY (Area I)

Shepherd Ranch SYVPC H.T. II | August 24-26, 2019 | Santa Ynez, CA (Area VI)

Otter Creek Fall H.T. | September 13-15, 2019 | Wheeler, WI (Area IV)

Texas Rose Horse Park | November 9-10, 2019 | Tyler, TX (Area V)

Full Moon Farm H.T. | November 10, 2019 | Finksburg, MD (Area II)

Go Eventing.

[Charles Owen Technical Merit Will Reward Safe Cross-Country Riding in 2019]


How Do You Pick Yourself Up?

Photo by Laura Harris.

When you pick yourself up from the mud, you have two options: laugh or cry.

In riding, we often say after a fall you get back on or you go to the hospital. But what do you do when the fall was metaphorical? The injury is emotional or mental. You might get a lot of chatter on the outside, advice, support, etc. It’s a little harder when you need to scrape the mud off your heart, and possible reshape it after a trample. You even wonder if it is worth it. Many people never question their riding, whether they should just give up. Several people do give up, bow out, or fade away for their own reasons. I can admit, at my lowest points I have asked myself if this is what I want, am I doing the right thing, would I be better off just learning how to knit or play sudoku (you know, something that doesn’t require you to pay with your heart to play)?

But what do you tell yourself inside your head? Breathe. Slow down. I have a brain that likes to race. It likes to go fast, solve problems, create, analyze, busy itself. But when I let it run around, it isn’t as its best as it likes to think it is. Similar to a horse running on the forehand, I need to rebalance, regroup, and restore order. Every fiber in my being yearns to ‘do something’— to have a reaction. However, this is not the best answer. More often than not, that solution has led me to more problems. Overcorrecting a bad turn doesn’t right the car, it just spins it out of control.

So I have learned to embrace silence. Not hide from thoughts or emotions, but hear them and let them go. In that moment, when everything is stilled, I take a breath. No, the answer doesn’t magically come riding up on a sparkly rainbow unicorn, but I do find myself more in control and open to more options in the quiet.

Again, how do you pick yourself up? It is a choice to move forward in whatever way that makes sense. Sometimes we get back on the proverbial horse, sometimes we hang up the reins forever, sometimes we catch our breath, sometimes we take a break. The thing about a real fall is that the longer you avoid mounting up again, the harder it makes it in the future. But with the squishy internal scars, they tend to require a bit more sensitivity. Avoidance is not a solution, but recovery is vital to persisting to fight another day. One of my biggest characteristics that I tend to mostly consider in a good light is that I’m stubborn. I know I’ll be back to the fight soon. So while I will use that obstinance for good, I sometimes have to give her a rest so I can heal and refocus. I do not consider myself a patient person, but I have learned the skill and exercise it often. After the dust settles from the fall, it takes patience to see what is next because at times the heart and the head might not agree.

But, I love a good, insightful, poignant quote. The right one can lend words to you when you can’t find any. So I’ll borrow a few. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” and “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” An easy ride never made a skilled rider. Confident perhaps, but it is when we are challenged that we grow. In that growth is the adventure of riding and the love of the horse. And if you never go out into the sea to see your ship sail, you never know what you can do.

Pick yourself up. Laugh. Cry. Even at the same time. Maybe you don’t have the answer immediately to your brain demanding what to do to soothe your heart, or perhaps you need to hold it back from lashing out. But give yourself a chance to think all and feel all before deciding what you need to do. It’s not what happens to us that shows who we are, it’s how we handle ourselves that shows us, and the world, who we really are.

Sport Horse Nation Spotlight: 5 Excellent Ex-Racehorses

In the market for a new four-legged partner? You may find your unicorn on our sister site, Sport Horse Nation. To help with the search, we’re going to feature a selection of current listings here on EN each week. We include the ad copy provided; click the links for videos, pricing and contact information.

Eventing was built on the backs of the Thoroughbred. Their athleticism and heart make them perfect for the rigors of a three-phase competition. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with a good OTTB. Here are five listed on Sport Horse Nation who are looking for their next cross country partner.

Henry’s Thunder. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Training Level OTTB Gelding

Henry’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch – Aunt Ginger) is a chestnut 16.1 hand 2009 OTTB gelding. He has evented through training with an amateur rider, and qualified for 2018 AECs at Training. He has been owned/ridden by an adult amateur since coming off the track in 2015 and has evented in Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado. Henry could also excel in foxhunting, dressage, or hunters/ jumpers, and is ideal for an adult amateur or a young rider looking learn the ropes of eventing. Easy keeper, and good for vet, farrier, and loading. Respectful and sweet on the ground, and will easily cross tie, ground tie, or get tacked in the stall. He will stable away from home for horse shows or clinics with no stress. He has had a year off from competing and started getting back into full work in September with no issues. Selling because the owner is looking for an upper level horse. Priced at 14k. Located in Parker, CO. Please contact Carter Saunders at [email protected] for more information or videos.

Sir Winsome. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Sir Winsome: Quality OTTB Prospect

Sir Winsome: 2013 16.1h bay Thoroughbred gelding

This talented young event horse is easy going and the perfect match for a junior, young rider or adult amateur looking for a quality prospect to bring along. He has been cross country schooling and jumps 2’6” courses in the ring. All that’s left is to take him to a show! Snatch him up now and have fun this fall. Located in Pennsylvania.

Title Contender. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Title Contender

Third Place out of 75 in 2016 RRP Makeover Eventing Division “Sheldon” has a great mind, has competed well in the Novice and now competing in the Training division of eventing. Loves to jump. He is a very good mover and scores well in his dressage. He loads and ties and is very well mannered on the ground. No vices. Great feet. He is offered for sale after off track training in eventing and natural horsemanship. 8 y/o 16.2 OTTB. Located in Kentucky.

Dr. Shipley. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Kind, Athletic, and Sensible Gelding For Sale

Dr. Shipley is a 16 hand, 7 y/o OTTB for sale. He raced until the summer of 2018 and has since had 2 months of training in an eventing program. “Doc” has been an absolute pleasure to bring along because he is a quick learner who is quiet and well-behaved both on the ground and under saddle. He has taken to dressage, jumping, and cross-country very easily and he recently jumped a lovely round at his first jumper show. Doc is ready to compete in a horse trial and he would make an excellent horse for an Adult Amateur or young rider looking for a horse to bring up through the levels. Located in South Carolina.

Island Girl. Photo via Sport Horse Nation.

Island Girl: Beautiful scopey brave event prospect

Island Girl “Sissy” is a 2014 OTTB, retired sound at 3 years old, just too slow to return to race track. Brave, smart eager to please she will take you in any direction you want to go. Successful show record this year in Hunters, Jumpers and Eventing. Scored a 32.5 in dressage her first time out. Completed first cross country with only time faults, finishing 8th out of 16 Beginner Novice. Huge stride. Very calm and sensible. Located in Renton, WA

Listings included in this article are randomly selected and confirmed to be current and active before inclusion. Sport Horse Nation features user-generated content and therefore cannot verify or make any warranty as to the validity or reliability of information.

Wednesday News & Notes from Attwood Equestrian Surfaces

My self is a bit eclectic. Photo by Abby Powell.

Today happens to be Library Shelfie Day, a day in which to honor your book collections by posting a “shelfie” – a picture of your bookshelf – on social media. If you’re reading this, I’d be pretty willing to bet that like me and probably like most equestrians, you have at least a portion of a bookshelf (if not several shelves or even entire bookcases) dedicated to horses.

My small collection is pretty eclectic, mirroring my riding background. I have a number of books about hooves because I’m a total nerd, a nine-year-old copy of the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science which houses my undergraduate thesis (again, nerd – but very proud of it!), some equestrian nonfiction, and a number of tomes attempting to demystify the elusive fine art of dressage. Also, I have a book of photography by Viggo Mortensen (you know, of Hidalgo and Lord of the Rings fame) that I literally forgot all about until just now.

What does your collection say about you? Let us know in the comments!

National Holiday: Library Shelfie Day

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Rocking Horse Winter I H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Full Gallop Farm January H.T [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Fresno County Horse Park Combined Test [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Your Wednesday News & Notes:

The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is back for 2019 and the tentative calendar of events at which it will be presented has been released. The award aims to reward juniors and adult amateurs that demonstrate safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding. [Charles Owen Technical Merit Will Reward Safe Cross-Country Riding in 2019]

You know Wembly as the big gorgeous grey that brought Tamie Smith back to the four-star level after a nine year hiatus, but did you know that he has a special bucket or what it takes keep his coat gleaming white? [Behind The Stall Door With: Wembley]

Much has changed in the diagnosis and treatment of back pain in horses over the past decade. A recent publication compared a 2016 survey of French veterinarians to a 2006 survey from the same veterinarians and the findings suggest an increase in interest and awareness in equine back pain. [Back Pain in Horses: Then and Now]

Attwood Wisdom of the Week: 


Did you know? The surface you ride on daily truly impacts the health and well being of your horse. Does your footing pass the test? Here we have top competitors training with Silvio Mazzoni in Upperville, VA on an Attwood surface. Happy weekend! #attwoodequestriansurfaces #nohoofnohorse #horses #instahorse #horsesofinstagram #safety #performance #innovation #asanteequestrian #equestrian #horse #equine #equestrianlife #dressage #horseriding #pony #love #pferd #instahorse #horselove #horselover #photography #showjumping #horsephotography

Posted by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces on Friday, January 11, 2019

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: This Irish Jockey Is Stickability Goals

We have seen some seriously excellent saves here at EN, but every once in a while we see a rider who truly defies the laws of physics. The amateur Irish Jockey Michael Sweeney blew spectators away at the Killeagh point-to-point at Boulta Racecourse in County Cork when he miraculously didn’t fall from Ask Heather, a 7-year-old owned by Declan Queally, after the mare knocked a front leg on the final fence. After clinging from her neck for a few strides, Michael made his way back into the saddle. And what’s more, they went on the win the race.

Here’s another look:

It has to be seen to be believed!Here is the remarkable recovery made by Michael Sweeney aboard Ask Heather at the last from the Killeagh P2P at Boulta today.The pair somehow went on to win – take a bow Michael! 👏FULL STORY – 🎥 Willie Murphy, Dunshaughlin

Posted by The Irish Point to Point Website on Sunday, January 20, 2019

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