Classic Eventing Nation

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: A Serious Blast from the Past

Welcome to England in the spring of 1990. The calendar is rife with much-loved events – including Badminton, Bramham, and the now-defunct Windsor international – and many of today’s stars are just cutting their teeth on the cross-country field. Many others haven’t even been born yet. In today’s video, we settle in for an in-depth look at that spring, courtesy of the wonderful old Horse Trials Review. Packed with competition footage, interviews, behind-the-scenes peeks, and a young Pippa Funnell (still Nolan, back then) on her Pony Club-turned-5* mount, it’s an absolute romp through the ‘golden era’ of eventing, whether you lived through it yourself or simply love to dive into the past. At over an hour, the programme gives you plenty of time to wonder just how some of the ladies involved crammed their perms into their crash helmets. Perhaps that truly is the last great mystery in eventing.

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Jumper Nation Clinic: A Do-Try-This-at-Home Exercise from Phillip Dutton

Phillip Dutton and Z at the Wellington Eventing Showcase in February 2020. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

EN’s sister site Jumper Nation has teamed up with top, respected riders who we love for both their horsemanship and their creativity with exercises they use at home. Each week, they’ll be bringing us a new grid or exercise to try at home. You’ll be primed and ready for the show ring when we are able to get out there again! This week’s exercise comes from Phillip Dutton.

Missed last week’s grid?  Check it out here, courtesy of Caitlyn Shiels and True North Stables.

 This exercise consists of:
  • Oxer, set 18 yards on a curve to vertical, 18 more yards on a curve to another oxer
  • Note that the vertical is perpendicular to both oxers
  • Ride your horse on the line that you decide: Direct-three, four-strides, or five-strides
  • The distance between each vertical and oxer is set at 18 yards total (54′), on a “square” curve/turn, which will help you fit either the four or five-strides in
  • Note that the direct three-strides requires careful direction so you avoid a run out and the horse doesn’t get confused

Phillip explains: “This exercise helps in training of the horse and rider to control and balance on a turn, using leg yielding through leg to hand communication. Practice being able to ride your horse on the line you decide. Each turn can be ridden on three, four, or five strides. Three strides is very direct. Four strides is a nice, square turn. Five strides is a very wide, leg-yielding-out turn.”

About Phillip Dutton Eventing

Phillip Dutton Eventing is based out of True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania and Red Oak Farm in Aiken, South Carolina.  With his vast experience in both eventing and also competing in show jumping, Phillip coaches numerous adult amateur, High Performance riders, and upper-level professionals.

About Phillip Dutton

Originally from Australia, Phillip Dutton moved to the United States in 1991 to train in a more internationally competitive environment and to prepare for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he rode on Australia’s gold medal eventing team. In total, Phillip represented Australia in three Olympics and four World Championships after his move to the US.  He became an American citizen in 2006 and changed his competitive nationality so that he would be eligible to represent his adoptive home, the USA.  As of 2019, Phillip has ridden in every Olympic Games since his first team appearance for Australia at Atlanta in 1996, winning individual bronze at Rio in 2016. He additionally has won the USEA Leading Rider of the Year title 13 times and has held numerous top world rankings (FEI #1 World Eventing Rider in 2005, #2 in 2016, and #4 in 2017).

To learn more about Phillip Dutton, click here and be sure to follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Go Jumping!

You Suck: An Eventer’s Ode to My Crappy Ankles and the Coronavirus

Bear in his new home, Le Cheval de Boskydell, where he is under the immacualte care and training of our new trainer, Jill O’Donoghue. Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle.

In early February, I sat down at my computer and mapped out my entire competition schedule for the spring/early summer season, and I am sure I am not the only eventer who did so. We all had big dreams and big plans for the year. Mine included finalizing my qualifications for the 2020 American Eventing Championships early on by putting in two more clear cross country rounds, and then just working on fitness until August rolled around. My sweet horse Bear is nearing 23 now (and that is to our best guess, haha, there is some discrepancy as to his age), and while he looks as fit as can be, continuing at novice or going past it is out of his comfort zone. The goal? Kill it at the AECs and let my tailless wonder retire on our farm, all while shopping for a new competition horse to step in and take his place when the time came. 

I had no clue that just a week later the coronavirus would make its way into the United States, or that two weeks later I would put myself out of competition for some time by tearing not one, but two of the ligaments in my left ankle after taking a small tumble at HITS Ocala (lesson learned ladies and gentlemen, don’t try and land on your feet — especially if your ankles suck at being ankles). 

I gave myself 10 minutes to freak out, and then I met with my orthopedic to make a plan. “My year-end championships are in August,” was the first thing I said when he opened the door to my exam room. “I need to be in the saddle before June to be fit, ready, and fully qualified. This is the first time I have ever qualified, and the only chance I have of competing with this horse.”

My sucky ankles just one day after the injury. Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle.

My husband sighed, but my orthopedic just laughed. “Done and done,” he said as he explained to me a new surgery option that would just have me out for six short weeks. The rehab would be intense, but my ankle would be better than ever. We scheduled the surgery for two weeks later (his earliest availability), and I was on my way dreaming of cross country runs at the Kentucky Horse Park and hopefully low dressage scores. 

And then, the coronavirus actually became a thing. As my surgery date crept forward, several people reached out to me curious as to if my surgery was still on the schedule. I began to panic. They wouldn’t ACTUALLY cancel my surgery, would they? I mean, I could barely walk, surely they saw this as an essential surgery, right?

Wrong. At 7:02 PM the night before my surgery, the hospital called me. The first positive testing in the county had come back, and all non-essential surgeries were off the docket. I cried myself to sleep that night knowing that this was just the beginning and that it would get much worse before it could get better. I was so close. 

I know that I am lucky in some aspects that my surgery was canceled. I know that there was an inherent risk of myself or my surgical team coming into contact with COVID-19. I know that surgical supplies need to be saved for life-threatening cases. Trust me; I know all of this. But that doesn’t mean that this absolutely does not suck. 

I am an active person. My solace is riding, and that is gone for who knows how long. My jumper mare is still in Florida, and I took Bear, my eventer, to Illinois for boot-camp so that once I was healed and ready to go, so was he. For a while, I could visit Bear a few times a week, but then the need to quarantine became so urgent that I knew I could no longer put my wonderful barn family at risk. So here I am, stuck at home, barely able to walk, unable to care for my farm and its many inhabitants and unable to ride or see my horses. And it sucks. My husband has been wonderful dealing with my roller coaster of emotions and helping care for everything at home and on the farm. I know I haven’t been an easy patient. In fact, my doctor refers to me as “his worst patient.” Sorry, Wayne. 

So what does one do when the world seems to stack against them? Again, I gave myself some time to be mad, sad, and everything in between. I let myself curse the world, and then I let myself draw inward and eat as much ice cream as I possibly could handle. Then I looked myself in the mirror one day and said, “suck it up, buttercup. Life sucks. Make it suck less.”

So I ordered a TON of books and have dedicated this time to reading and learning and betting myself as a horsewoman, even when I cannot be around a horse. I finally learned about conformation and how to assess it thanks to Deb Bennett’s “Principles of Conformation Analysis,” and I took note of some barn management skills I can implement at home with Cherry Hill’s “Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.” I re-read and sticky-noted the crap out of one of my favorites, “World-Class Grooming” by Cat Hill and Emma Ford. 

Trying to find my happy place by reading one of my all-time favorite books, “World-Class Grooming” just minutes after my hospital cancelled my surgery, while my husband tries to cheer me up with YouTube videos. Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle.

I subscribed to YouTube after YouTube of professional riders who I admire and have watched thousands of helmet cams, counting the strides between combinations and feeling the way an upper-level rider executes their plan. I watch Dressage riders explain and dissect difficult movements so I can better my scores when the time comes. I assess show jumping rounds one-by-one, watching old live feeds, and understanding why a rail came down and how it could have been prevented. 

I have cleaned my tack so thoroughly that it looks brand new. I have organized my show trunks so that when the season finally comes around, I have everything in its place. With the help of my husband, we have combed through my truck and trailer, making sure that all is in working order for when I am finally able to go show. And I have scoured the internet looking for the perfect scooter to take to shows with me so that even though I might be in recovery and unable to show, I can still go and live in the moment with my friends and teammates and scoot around the grounds as best as possible.

Don’t get me wrong — I am still sad and frustrated, and the hospital probably hates me because I call weekly hoping for an update only to hear, “sorry, Meagan, still not happening anytime soon.” I still think my ankles and the coronavirus absolutely suck. I still don’t understand why any of this happened to me, to my country, to my sport. But at the end of the day, I am healthy. I am alive. And I am going to make the best of this. Because my ankles and the coronavirus might suck, but my life doesn’t have to. 

Try This DIY Bit Wipe/Hand Disinfecting Recipe/Drinking Game

We love sharing innovative (and fun!) ways eventers are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Send yours to [email protected]

Today’s submission comes from EN blogger Julie Howard, whose “Confessions of a ‘Master’ Event Rider” series you can revisit here. Consider this a DIY edition, as Julie explains: “Gentle readers: we ‘master’ (read: ‘old as dirt’) event riders need to save money where we can. When we can’t hobble out to the paddock any more, we all have to retire, right? Which requires a savings account with actual money in it. So I cut costs where I can. With these unprecedented times, resourcefulness is the watchword. I’ve developed some DIY strategies both to save but to keep myself entertained while I’m NOT COMPETING my hair trigger, fire breathing, cross country machine who is incapable of relaxing and doing a decent dressage test OTTB. Combining DIY wit my love for beer (what event rider doesn’t love beer?!) with crafting this handy dandy useful item. What’s not to love?!”  

Photo courtesy of Julie Howard.

My bit wipe recipe:

Viva paper towels
Peppermint extract
Empty wipe container, like Clorox wipes

Cut the paper towel roll in half using a serrated knife.

Open a beer.

Using hot water trickling out of the faucet, wet the paper towel roll from the top (so that the center roll is facing the top). Make sure to get the center roll first and wet that thoroughly. Don’t get the paper too wet you can always add more water later. The hotter the water the better the roll will release its glue. This glue does not taste good to your horse. Trust me on this. Once center roll starts to separate from the paper, pull it out carefully.

Drink your second gulp of beer.

Pull a few towels out of the center. Now you can squish the paper roll into the wipes container. You can always use a roll that has been partially used so it is smaller. You needed to wipe up the beer you spilled anyway. Try not to waste beer being all DIY and such.

Survey your handiwork. Congratulate yourself for wrestling the roll into the wipe container by chugging the rest of the beer you didn’t spill. Open another because clearly you didn’t drink a whole one because you spilled it.

Now carefully pour the alcohol (not the beer) onto the top of the paper roll. This helps the wipes not get moldy. Celebrate this simple feat by swilling some hops.

Photo by Julie Howard.

Add some drops of peppermint extract. Your horse will thank you for the peppermint goodness that is now her bit. You’re welcome.

Label your container “bit wipes” (not to be confused with “butt wipes”). Nobody wants a peppermint butt especially sitting in a saddle. Your horse might disagree but don’t give in. You’re in charge, remember.

Survey your handiwork and pat yourself in the back, while simultaneously not spilling any more beer. That sh*t’s valuable and you never know when you’re going to fall off and need an adult beverage to get the courage to get back on the next day.

The wipes are a little fragile (like your ego, you beer spiller). When you use them you’ll need a few and pull them out carefully. Don’t go all whackadoodle on them or they may break and you’ll have a useless ball of sh*tty peppermint paper. You will be mad and nobody needs that negativity in their life. You’ve got enough problems trying to explain your horse obsession to non-believers.

Once you have wiped off your bit, which is the point, now isn’t it Karen?!, you can use these to wipe your hands and be all happy that you’ve disinfected your hands. So what if you have streaks of green slobber on your hands now. Let’s not get all crazy about it since we horse people know you eat sandwiches after cleaning your stall and forget to wash your hands first. No fake news there.

Here’s a picture of me with my horse Sweetie at Hitching Post pre-social distancing. Her bit is VERY clean! Photo courtesy of Julie Howard.

Don’t forget to reward yourself with a nice cold one for surviving another day as a crazy bit wipe making handwiper DIY horse riding goddess that has nothing to do with any tiger king.

Be kind, be safe, and go eventing (someday!)

Wednesday News & Notes from Ecovet

Photo via Lauren Kieffer Eventing on Instagram.

Recognize this famous face? Snooze Alarm was Lauren Nicholson’s (née Kieffer) first five-star partner and is also a half-brother to her current upper level partner, Vermiculus. Looks like “Maggot” is enjoying his retirement with a bit of spa time!

National Holiday: Great news, fellow quarantiners! Today is No Housework Day. You heard it here first. Sorry, can’t help you out with the remaining 364 days in the year.

News & Notes:

Managing horses during unprecedented times such as these presents a unique set of challenges. Kentucky Equine Research has some advice on managing horses that are not working or seeing a decrease in workload. [Management Strategies for Out of Work Horses]

An eventer goes to Africa. Phyllis Dawson wrote about her trip to Africa last year in the latest Windchase Eventing blog. Take a trip to the other side of the globe and relive the adventure — perfect downtime reading material! [Windchase Goes to Africa]

Try some groundwork to pass the time and learn a new skill. Tik Maynard is one of the most popular sources of horsemanship knowledge for riders of any discipline. Find out what tools you’ll need to get started and work on connecting on a deeper level with your horse. [How to Choose the Right Groundwork Equipment for You]

Want to support the campaign for more frangible technology in eventing? Jamie McAllister created this t-shirt as a way to spread awareness and raise more funds for frangible fences. Shop here: Support Your Sport T-Shirt

Wednesday Video: Your daily dose of equestrian ASMR.

Balade a cheval sur la plage de Vauville 🐴

L i b e r t é ❤️.Vidéo de Alexis Lemonnier prise il y a plusieurs semaines ! . .En cette période difficile nous allons continuer à poster des photos et vidéos prises ces dernières semaines pour illuminer un peu notre quotidien ✨. Prenez soin de vous et restez chez vous ! #restezchezvous

Posted by Manche Tourisme on Saturday, March 21, 2020

Ecovet is the only fly repellent that improves insect-related skin sensitivity. Learn more at

Tuesday Video from Flexible Fit Equestrian USA: Can You Master A Single Pole with Andrew Hoy?

With extra time on our hands, Andrew Hoy has decided to spend it wisely! On Twitter, he’s re-sharing a few at home exercises. First, he starts with the something basic, like really basic — a single pole. It’s harder than it looks.

Flexible Fit Equestrian: Redefining Comfort & Quality at an Affordable Price. Learn more at

Jon Holling’s OTTB Blog: Ragtime Rebel on the Farm

EN is delighted to follow Jon Holling’s blog chronicling his journey with upper-level prospect Ragtime Rebel, a 6-year-old OTTB gelding he found through the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center. Ragtime Rebel (Union Rags X A.P. Elegance, by A.P. Indy) is Kentucky-bred and last raced in April 2018. Click here for his Equibase profile, and here for previous posts.

Take it away, Jon!

Go Eventing (Someday!)

How Eventers Are Coping: Barb Pickl’s ‘Bored AF Horse Trials’

Photo courtesy of Barb Pickl.

With the rug of their competition season pulled out from under them, eventers out there are finding creative — and occasionally hilarious — ways to keep themselves entertained.

Exhibit A: Barb Pickl’s “Bored AF Horse Trials.”

Barb, a self-described “senior re-rider” from Madison, WI, explains, “Many are sad, for good reasons, that the Horse Trial season has been delayed. That is of most importance. So I offer a HT, but without horses. Appealing to the creative good nature for which eventers are well known. A backyard HT … put on your gear and make it fun, safe, and with a light hearted spirit.”

We love it so much!!! Thank you for sharing, Barb.

The live feed has begun! Morning jog
#boredAFhorsetrials #haveagreatride #uniaccepted #eventer #eventersdoitall #withstyle

Posted by Barb Pickl on Sunday, April 5, 2020


Phase I: dressage, or what we do until cross country.
It builds character and humility 😂
#boredAFhorsetrials #eventer #equestrian #goingrouge #razzledazzle #awesometempichanges #teamfunkybitches

Posted by Barb Pickl on Sunday, April 5, 2020

Well quite an exciting day for phase 2: cross country! Out of respect to our gracious host venue, the Exceptionally…

Posted by Barb Pickl on Sunday, April 5, 2020


Final phase: Show jumping!
Uni and I are most overwhelmed and profoundly humbled by the support and demonstration of solidarity.

Please enjoy this note from your Show Sponsor.
I miss you all deeply.
You are my heros. My inspiration in all things which matter the most 💖

Never forget: it always ends in joy.
#boredAFhorsetrials #eventer #equestrian #ponyeventer #unicorneventer #eventingstrong #eventersdoitall #withgrace #dontpullonyourinsiderein #iloveeventing

Posted by Barb Pickl on Monday, April 6, 2020

Stay well, EN. Go Eventing (Someday!)

Galway Downs Spring H.T. Is Postponed

Galway Downs Spring H.T., scheduled for May 1-3 in Temecula, CA, has been postponed with a tentative reschedule date of June 19-21, 2020.

The event has released the following statement:

Given the ongoing situation related to COVID-19, and with the USEF’s latest guidance, our May 1-3 competition is moving to June 19-21 to help prep riders for the remainder of the season. The same class list will be offered as was scheduled for the March International.

Galway Downs International Horse Trials and Shepherd Ranch have combined efforts to provide for the area. We will be adding in classes at Intro as well special pony club classes TBD that will join in the action alongside the international event and horse trials.

In an effort to run a biosecure event we will be regularly disinfecting all public areas as well as providing hand washing stations at all common areas. We will be following the guidance of CDC and our local authorities to keep the venue safe and in compliance with the latest rules for the health and safety of our riders and guests.

The options available have been expanded and adjusted as follows:
Option number one is for entry credit in full except for the stall fees will get transferred to the June 19-21 competition.
Option number two is for entry credit in full except for the stall fees which will be carried over to a future date for those who cannot make it to June 19-21.

We thank you all for your support and understanding during this very unique situation and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Thank you,
Kellerhouse Presents Team

You can view a complete list of canceled and postponed events here.

Stay well, EN. Go Eventing (Someday!)

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

Every day I’m blown away by the innovation and positivity from all of you out there in the Eventing Nation during these difficult times. We’ve got another fun opportunity for you — get your dressage test judged by Peter Gray! His Remote Centerline Workshop will give you scores and feedback from a FEI five-star judge. This service is available for any test. Email [email protected] to sign up.

National Holiday: National Beer Day

Tuesday News: 

The numbers have spoken, and Cooley On Show has been named the April USEA Horse of the Month. In partnership with EquiRatings, the USEA recognizes one horse each month for their recent achievements. [USEA Horse of the Month: Cooley On Show]

As hospitals face dwindling protective equipment, some equestrian companies are showing up to lend a hand. [Equestrian Companies Produce Essential Supplies In Response To COVID-19]

On April 1, the Fair Hill Foundation gained two new members in Bruce Davidson and Fank McEntee. Their unique input will help guide Fair Hill as they complete their massive renovations ahead of their five-star this fall. [Fair Hill Foundation Appoints Bruce Davidson and Frank McEntee to its Board of Directors]

Just in on Jumper Nation: Jumper Nation Clinic: Phillip Dutton

Tuesday Video: Sharon White makes an appearance on the Jon and Rick Show.