Classic Eventing Nation

Friday News & Notes from World Equestrian Brands

The next generation! Photo courtesy of von Sacksen Eventing.

I’m thankful to have reached the end of another ungodly hot week in Virginia, but what I am not thankful for is trying to manage horses and dogs through the July 4th weekend and hoping no horses freak out in the field and no dogs keep me up all night panting in my face. I’ve never been a fan of fireworks, and I live way out in the country so you’d think I would avoid them, but sadly even I am not immune to crazy neighbors. Keep your ponies safe this weekend y’all!

National Holiday: National Chocolate Wafer Day

Weekend Preview:

Twin Rivers Summer H.T. : [Website] [Ride Times]

Winona H.T: [Website] [Ride Times]

The Maryland International + H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Spring Gulch H.T.: [Website] [Ride Times]

Larkin Hill H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

News From Around the Globe:

Walking sounds boring, but actually, it’s worth your time to know more exercises for the walk. If you’re rehabbing, or hoping to improve your dressage scores, check out this article on exercises in 20 minutes that will make your walk work much less mundane. [20 Minute Walk Workouts]

Hot summer study: how to cool off your horse in the most efficient way possible. Whether you’re recovering from a cross country round, a lesson in the afternoon, or just a long ride in the sun, helping your horse cool down is really important to their health. A new study shows that the best method isn’t about scraping, walking, or standing in front of a fan. Read on to find out the best way. [A Comparison of Five Cooling Methods]

Sir Mark Todd, is there anything you CAN’T do? Now retired after winning two Olympic gold medals and pretty much everything else in Eventing, he’s turning his hand at racehorses again, but this time in the UK. He’s now logged his first winner on English turf, following the opening of certain races after COVID. [Sir Mark Todd: Winning Racehorse Trainer]

Thursday Video from FLAIR: Meet the Ebony Horse Club

Located in Brixton in the UK, the Ebony Horse Club is one example of a program dedicated to improving the education and aspirations of young people through contact with horses. Olympic show jumper Ben Maher visited the young riders at Ebony Horse Club and this visit is the subject of a recent FEI video profile.

One particularly unique feature of this program is its location. Set right in the heart of Brixton, a vibrant district in South London with Caribbean roots, horses find themselves against a backdrop of apartment buildings. Ebony Horse Club was opened with the assistance of charitable donations and lottery funding in 2011. The Club is the brainchild of Ros Spearing, who drew on her experience as a single mother whose life had been shaped by horses in conceptualizing the idea of bringing access to more youth in the community.

Want to learn more about the impact the Ebony Horse Club is having? Click here to read a great profile, complete with brilliant photography.

Diversity Scholarship Fund Is Up to $5,000 Thanks to Generous Donations

Hannah Hawkins and Didgeridoo at Fair Hill International in 2018. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Like so many of us, Hannah Hawkins has been following the conversation about inequity in equestrian sport and seeking out a meaningful way to contribute. “I want to do something that’s actually helpful … what is that?” she asked herself. “I feel strongly that I would love to do something but I don’t know what to do.”

The upper-level Maryland eventer said she saw the announcement about our 1st Annual Diversity Scholarship on EN, which was later met with matching donations from Stable View and Katherine Coleman. It occurred to her that she could “just reach out.” She emailed us and offered to contribute another $1,000 to the fund, bringing the total to date to $5,000 — five times its original amount.

The Scholarship calls for contributions to the discussion about diversity and inclusion in equestrian sport from minority equestrians — you can view full details here.

“This was the smallest thing I could do to help encourage discourse and push some funds toward people who are not as fortunate as others,” Hannah says.

Wondering how you can help? Just reaching out is a great start.

For real change to occur, it’s not enough for us to comment on Facebook or wait around for someone else to tell us what to do. We can all play a role, now, in helping to create a more diverse and inclusive sport. From donating to or volunteering with an organization that is doing good work to engaging the broader community in myriad ways, the onus is on all equestrians to help build a bridge of access. In the coming days, with input from a panel of equestrian diversity experts, we’ll be outlining some action-based outreach strategies for individuals and groups to get you started.

Every step forward is a positive one, and you never know when it will start a chain reaction!

Go reach out today. Go Eventing.


Eventing Nation Announces 1st Annual Diversity Scholarship [Update 7/2: Fund Now $5,000]

Update 7/2: Wow, the donations just keep coming. Thank you, Hannah Hawkins, for making another $1,000 available toward elevating minority voices and giving deserving riders a leg up! Read more here. As the Scholarship amount is now five times the original amount, we are in the process of reevaluating how the funds will be distributed to applicants.

Update 7/1: We are happy to share that five-star eventer Katherine Coleman has pledged to double the new amount of $2,000, bringing the total to $4,000! Read more here.

Update 6/30: We are happy to share that Stable View in Aiken, SC, has pledged to match NM’s original Diversity Scholarship award amount of $1,000, bringing the total to $2,000. Thanks to the generosity of Barry and Cyndy Olliff, we will now be able to award the 1st place winner $1,000 and two runners-up a sum of $500. Read more here.

Update 6/27: We thank our readers for sharing feedback with us — we hear you! It is the mission of this Scholarship to call for, encourage, elevate and immediately give a platform to minority voices in a space where they are underrepresented. With the help of your input, we have made some changes. It’s not perfect and it’s certainly not enough money (like many businesses, Nation Media has taken a big hit in recent months). But we humbly submit this Scholarship as a small contribution toward real change, with much more work still to be done in the future. Read more here.

Randy Ward and Grando. Photo by Jenni Autry.

“We as a horse community need to grow, to reach new audiences and to introduce another generation of riders to keep our sport going strong. A diverse equestrian community is a strong equestrian community, and it’s time to open the doors of opportunity to all.” — former Horse Nation editor Kristen Kovatch

The Nation Media family, comprised of websites Eventing Nation, Jumper Nation and Horse Nation, has been working hard to highlight the importance of racial equality, and we have been encouraged by the messages of inclusiveness that have reverberated throughout our equestrian community.

Today we are excited to announce Nation Media’s 1st Annual $1,000 Diversity Scholarship, with the funds to be divided as follows: 1st – $500, 2nd- $300, 3rd – $200. [Update 7/1: As the Scholarship amount has quadrupled since it was launched, we are in the process of reevaluating how the funds will be distributed to applicants.]

All minority equestrians of all disciplines are invited to apply. The Scholarship may be used any in way that the recipient desires to further their riding career, be it educational opportunities, competition entry fees or equipment/tack.

Applicants are invited to submit, via essay or video, a contribution to the discussion of diversity and inclusion in equestrian sport. This is your space to use however you wish, and we are listening.

Please submit entries to [email protected] The deadline for applications is Friday, July 10, 2020. There is no word minimum or maximum. After the Scholarship recipients have been announced, we will be honored to share entries on EN throughout the summer with permission.

Go Diversity. Go Eventing!


Volunteer Nation: 5+ Opportunities to Help Out This Weekend

The new horse show must-have accessory – who would’ve thought? Photo via Jan Byyny on Facebook.

Much time has passed since we last brought you an edition of Volunteer Nation! With events kicking cautiously back into gear, the need for volunteer support has also returned.

Of course, much has changed in just a few short months, and protocol for volunteers looks different than it used to. We compiled some resources on volunteering with COVID-19 regulations in mind. We’ll reference this list each week in Volunteer Nation, so take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what’s new and different.

COVID-19 Resources for Eventers

Volunteers Adapt to the New Normal

Volunteers Weigh In on New COVID-19 Protocols

As always, you can earn merit points when you donate your time through the USEA’s Volunteer Incentive Program. Registering to volunteer through makes it easy and seamless to both find a job and shift as well as learn what your role will entail.

In addition, I’d also like to take a moment to encourage you to find other ways to volunteer your time or skills within your local community. Perhaps there is a therapeutic program or an access program geared toward lower income riders. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to donate or a vast amount of hours to spare, sometimes just reaching out to ask how you can help can yield rewarding opportunities. If you’re not sure where to start, one popular source for volunteering opportunities is, which of course spans all facets of volunteering. I’d also love to compile a list of equestrian access programs and other related nonprofits, so if you have one we should know about please tip me by emailing [email protected].

Here is a look at the events looking for volunteer help this coming weekend. Remember to stay safe and socially distanced!

Event: Winona Horse Trials
Dates: Today through Sunday, July 5
Address: 31407 Schneider Rd, Hanoverton, OH, 44423
Position(s) Available: Event Prep – General, XC Decorator, FEH Conformation In Gate Steward, YEH In Gate Steward, General Help, Greeter, XC Control, XC Jump Judge, Dressage In Gate Steward, Dressage Score Runner, Floater, Secretary – Awards, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Score Input, SJ Scribe, XC Score Input, XC Score Runner, Hospitality Helper, Safety Steward

Event: Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials
Dates: Today through Sunday, July 5
Address: 8715 N River Rd, Paso Robles, CA, 93446
Position(s) Available: Dressage Scribe, Dressage Steward, XC Jump Judge, Dressage Score Runner, SJ In Gate

Event: Maryland International CIC & HT
Dates: Today through Sunday, July 5
Address: 1235 Park Mills Road, Adamstown, MD, 21710
Position(s) Available: Event Prep – General, SJ Start Timer, Dressage Score Runner, Dressage Steward, XC Crossing Guard, XC Jump Judge, Shuttle Drivers, Dressage Warm-up, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Warm-up

Event: Larkin Hill Summer Horse Trials
Dates: Today through Monday, July 6
Address: 515 County Route 312, North Chatham, NY, 12132
Position(s) Available: Event Prep – Dressage, Event Prep – XC, Event Prep – SJ, Stabling Check-in & Trailer Parking, XC Jump Judge, Dressage Score Runner, Parking Steward, SJ Jump Crew, Event Takedown

Event: Pine Hill GHCTA Combined Test
Dates: Saturday, July 4 through Sunday, July 5
Address: 1720 Hwy 159 East, Bellville, TX, 77418
Position(s) Available: Hospitality Helper, Greeter

Event: IEA Leg Up Schooling HT and CT
Dates: Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5
Address: 7105 S. Kern St., Edinburgh, IN, 46124
Position(s) Available: Event Prep, XC Warm-up, XC Jump Judge, Event Takedown, SJ Jump Crew, SJ Out Gate

Other opportunities for volunteering:

We are still looking for some volunteers for the SGHTs this weekend! Please contact Carol Jones if you can help (her info is below).

Posted by MSEA-CCC on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Millbrook H.T. Is Canceled

Will Faudree and Pfun, winners of the Advanced division at Millbrook H.T. in 2019. Photo by Abby Powell.

We’ll have to wait until 2021 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Millbrook Horse Trials. The event’s Board of Directors announced this morning that this year’s event, scheduled for July 30 through Aug. 2 in Armenia, NY, has been canceled.

From Millbrook’s Facebook page:

“The Board of Directors unanimously decided today that it cannot proceed with this year’s competition. While several weeks ago we took hope from improving conditions in our area and a broadly positive spirit in the country, recent events have led us to the conclusion that the interests of the communities we support will not be best served by holding the event this year. All of our efforts to this point have been directed toward hosting a safe and successful competition, but the recent increase in the spread of the coronavirus, related new regulatory restrictions, and the impact this has had on support within our communities has convinced us that we should not proceed.

“This is a great disappointment to us individually and as organizers of the event, as we know it will be to many who have been looking forward to Millbrook, with its full slate of competitive divisions, especially this year. We are determined, however, that the support and energy that was to have gone into this year’s event will be turned to making MHT 2021 even better, as we proceed with our plans to begin making substantial upgrades in the coming years.

“We are thankful especially to all who have so generously contributed to our effort this year. While we have incurred expenses in preparation for this year’s event, we have decided to refund all paid competitor entries in full (minus credit card fees), to refund or make applicable to MHT 2021 all sponsorship payments, and to refund contributions. Should you wish to do so, we will gratefully accept any amounts contributed as fully tax deductible donations for this year’s expenses.

“With our thanks for your support and in anticipation of 2021,
The Millbrook Horse Trials Board of Directors”

On Tuesday of this week, HITS Saugerties received a cease-and-desist order from the state health department for its Vermont Summer Special horse show scheduled to take place this week. New York has stated that horse shows are not restricted starting July 6, providing that this COVID-19 protocol is followed.

Executive Order Number 205, which went into effect June 24, requires a mandatory quarantine for those arriving from states with high infection rates. This order imposes a 14-day quarantine for, “All travelers entering New York from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate, over a seven day rolling average.”

New Jersey and Connecticut have similar executive orders. This travel advisory currently affects sixteen states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah



Rest in Peace, Aspen

Jonathan Elliott and Aspen. Photo via Johnathan Elliott.

We are sad to share the news that Jonathan Elliot and Suzy Pettman Elliott’s Aspen has been laid to rest at age 34.

Aspen was a roan Swedish Warmblood (Callaghan x Annika) owned by Gail Elliott. His spirit was the inspiration for the Elliott’s idyllic property, Aspen Farms, in Yelm, Washington, which hosts US Eventing horse trials through the Advanced level.

Aspen was Jonathan’s first Advanced horse, and together they attained many career accolades including 4th at the 1998 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the now four-star level, a silver medal at Young Riders and Advanced wins from coast to coast.

Suzy Elliott and Aspen. Photo via Jonathan Elliott.

The pair spent five years at the Advanced level before Jonathan’s wife, Suzy took over the ride. Suzy and Aspen galloped around Advanced horse trials across the country and culminated their partnership with the Foxhall CCI3* (Now CCI4*-L) in 2001.

Jonathan posted this tribute:

“Yesterday we laid to rest our beloved Aspen at 34 years young. He gave me numerous experiences and taught me so much. He was my first Advanced horse, we got to leave the box 17 times over those magical blue numbers.

“Our 3 kids got to play with and get to know this amazing little Monkey. He taught us all so much, Aspen Farms will not be the same without him but he will always be fondly remembered.”

Aspen and the kiddos. Photo via Jonathan Elliott.

Rest in Peace, Aspen.

Gone Too Soon: Maria Caplan Remembers Her Horse of a Lifetime

Maria and Howie at Stable View in 2019. Photo courtesy of Maria Caplan.

Seven years ago, Howie Gonnado This was born and raised to be a racehorse in the countryside of Maryland. Although he had good breeding and came from a reputable establishment, Howie had other ideas about his intended career in life. His owner/breeders trained him for racing, but when his earnings amounted to $0.00 in six races, their daughter, a competitive show jump rider could tell he wanted to do something – it just wasn’t going to be on the racetrack.

Howie’s personality and disposition stood out to the family, and it was not hard for them to fall in love with him. They began to switch his training to jumping instead of running, and immediately saw how much he loved it. During that time, the family entered a phase that necessitated downsizing and decided to sell this last homebred, entering him in the Thoroughbred Makeover & National Symposium held in the fall at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Hometown local event rider Maria Caplan was looking for a horse to buy, and in October of 2017 she and her husband Edward made the trip to Lexington with the hopes of finding one she liked. Through the Makeover’s ASPCA Makeover Marketplace Maria watched and studied and was able to try out many mounts, but when she saw Howie, her heart raced a little. He had that air about him — that classic and confident look that you only see occasionally in a horse.

As he competed alongside hundreds of other horses, he was a finalist in both the field hunter and show jumping divisions, one of only a few horses to achieve that. Upon riding him, she found he also had that puppy dog, “in-your-pocket” nature. As Maria thought back to the handful of horses she owned in the past, this was the first time she truly felt that immediate “click.”

Howie en route to his first win at Carolina Horse Park. Photo by High Time Photography.

She felt no hesitations and bought the four year old and shipped him by herself to her farm in Raeford, North Carolina. They competed in their first event, the Pipe Opener I CT at Carolina Horse Park, in the spring of 2018. They won their maiden division, and to Howie, it was game on. To Maria’s surprise, pride and joy, she knew they had something special. They continued showing at Carolina Horse Park throughout the summer and soon moved up to Beginner Novice. By October, they were awarded the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) award for having the most points earned for all competing Beginner Novice Thoroughbreds for that year in the War Horse Event Series Horse Trials. The pair moved up to the Novice in 2019 and won a USEA gold medal after competing in their first three USEA sanctioned events at the level. That year, they again received the TIP award in the War Horse Event Series for year-end high point out of all competing Novice Thoroughbreds.

The year 2020 started well for them, and in moving up to Training level, they took second place as well as the TIP High Point award at Stable View Aiken. Maria and Howie continued with their accomplishments in other events, and Maria set her sights on competing at the Carolina International in the spring and made plans to compete in their first FEI CCI* this fall in Stable View’s Oktoberfest. Even more events were on her schedule for the rest of the year, but with the onset of COVID-19 hitting the country in early spring, Maria had to put the competitions on hold.

Going back in time, Maria’s mount before Howie was another Thoroughbred that she found through the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. This horse was the opposite of what Howie turned out to be. Show jumping was not really what she liked to do but instead preferred fox hunting or the quiet hack out on the trails. Eventually, Maria sold the mare to the Old Dominion Hounds hunt club in Virginia, where the horse was better suited and happier at her new life. At that time in 2016, she and her husband were ready to leave New Hampshire, and as they were somewhat familiar with the area and the horse community of mid-North Carolina, they settled on and purchased their little farm in Hoke County.

Maria’s early training was with Denny Emerson, but as he is only in the state for part of the year, it left her in need of a coach. By luck, she found that eight-time Olympian J. Michael Plumb not only lived in the area but was more than willing to help further her training. Although he first helped her with the mare, he soon saw what potential Maria and Howie had together as a team. Mike was thrilled to witness their talents and was amazed at how much willingness Howie possessed and was always trying. He knew the horse was one in a million. Maria began to feel that their relationship had become so solid and that they trusted each other 100%.

With the mass cancellation of all horse events starting in mid-March, Mike felt this was an excellent time to work on the many other aspects of training a young horse. Maria began to trailer over three or four times a week to her friend Lynn McGugan’s farm in Southern Pines, and as Mike lived a short distance away, the trio would ride the trails in the Walthour-Moss Foundation. Howie was used to the show ring, but the new sights and sounds of a different venue did not matter to him. He was the type that after he got his bearings and checked everything out, he was good to go. The horse was so levelheaded and always took things in stride. He did not care if they rode in a single file on the narrow trails, rode three-abreast on the fire lanes, popped over new fences, or crossed the water features; Maria could feel his level of comfort elevating with each trip out. This year she could feel their bond becoming even stronger than it was before. The getting out into nature is good for the soul, even for the soul of the horse.

Howie’s final outing. Photo by High Time Photography.

Occasionally Howie colicked from time to time, and the episodes were attributed to ulcers as they never found irregularities in the examinations. On June 23, after Maria, Mike and Lynn returned from their ride on a beautiful summer day, he started to paw just ever so casually. She turned him out in a pasture so she could continue observing him, as it was beginning to look like classic colic. Upon her veterinarian’s examination, it was recommended she transport him to the NC State University as this time, what seemed to be a slight abnormality was found.

To the astonishment of all involved, the discovery of a six-pound tumor that was the size of a basketball at its widest point was attached deep inside of Howie’s small intestine. Previous scopings, palpitations, or radiographs never detected it because of its hidden location. The surgeons commented that it was the worst and biggest they had ever seen. They felt he lived with the tumor for quite a long time and may have even been born with it. As it grew over time, they thought it most likely was also cancer. The prognosis did not look good, and Maria had to let Howie go so he could be at peace.

Maria often wonders how Howie could be so perfect in every way, whether in a competition or having a lesson or just lazing around the farm enjoying the company of his two Nubian goat companions, all the while carrying this terrible physical fault inside of him. He loved everything; he loved the woods, all animals, and his sweet potato treats, and he loved jumping.

“In three short years, he has taught me so much, and we shared our successes. I was lucky to have him to ride and to give me the confidence that I could do this. He taught me what being a true horsewoman is all about,” Maria says, still with pain in her heart. When she saw him for the last time, she thought the small glimmer of light in his eye might have meant he was going to make it, but now she knows he was giving her hope to keep going and to maybe give another horse a chance at a good life.

“It is unbelievable to me how strongly our horse community pulls together when something tragic happens to any of us,” Maria says. “I am so grateful for their support, thoughts, and help during this time of Howie’s passing. We would never have been so successful without Mike Plumb, who cared so deeply for my horse.” She laughs at the fact that both he and Howie share the same birthday of March 28 and how they celebrated the event together. In honor of his passing, they planted apple trees graphed with three types of apples representing the three phases of eventing. “We grew together, and I will never forget him; he had such a huge heart, and he just wanted to live.”

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

Baby horse moves! Photo by Photography in Stride. (BTW congrats to Photography In Stride’s own Miranda Akins who won the Open Intro division with her own Curious Behavior!)

This great photo was a reader submission from the Hackamore Farm Mini Trial last Sunday in North Jackson, Ohio. Featuring some super cool baby horse moves courtesy of Audrey Felicijan’s 6-year-old OTTB gelding, Star in the Bar, ridden by Kelly Williams … the fact that he’s 17-hands makes this Open Very Green division obstacle appear all the smaller! It was his second mini trials and the pair finished 5th with no jump penalties. Should we say that he shows promise for cross country? View results from this well-run schooling event here.

National Holiday: National Anisette Day

Weekend Preview:

Twin Rivers Summer H.T. : [Website] [Ride Times]

Winona H.T: [Website] [Ride Times]

The Maryland International + H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status]

Chattahoochee Hills H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

Spring Gulch H.T.: [Website] [Ride Times]

Larkin Hill H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times]

News From Around the Globe:

Competitions may be slowly restarting, but with an uncertain fall future, you can always keep working on your mental game as a rider. Honestly, riding is maybe 50% physical, but at this point I’m not even sure about that much. Daniel Stewart talks about two defense mechanisms, and two better coping mechanisms this month that will undoubtedly help you ride better. [Your Ego Isn’t Your Amigo]

Yeah, I’m missing CHIO Aachen this month too, you’re not alone. The organizers decided to have a little fun, however, and are hosting a Champions of Champions tournament, with horses who finished in the top five from previous Aachen competitions. Using EquiRatings and SAP Predictive Analytics, they’re able to put horses like Toytown against SAP Hale Bob. Ready to watch? [Champion of Champions Tournament]

Regardless of discipline, Laura Graves and Verdades are every horse girls’ dream. But, it was definitely not a road paved with daisies, as Laura recounts in this excerpt from “Riding For The Team” all the times that Diddy was absolutely impossible and wild as a young horse. [The Making of Diddy]

Podcast: Major League Eventing podcast hosts Karen and Rob Chat with Liz Halliday-Sharp, Jennie Brannigan and Caroline Martin on another installment of the Event Riders Roundtable. [Listen]

Video: Carrying on with the theme of no-scope no-hope …

Fern you are some jumper 😇

Posted by Ema Klugman on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: A Chat with Tim and Jonelle Price

Jonelle Price’s words in this interview with FEI TV’s Equestrian World web show are worth writing on my mirror: “It’s amazing what you can achieve with a bit of dogged determination and a lot of hard work.” In this episode, hear from eventing’s royal couple, Tim and Jonelle Price of New Zealand, on their beginnings in the sport and reflections on their careers thus far. The couple relocated from New Zealand in 2005 to base in the UK as “young, struggling Kiwis” high on ambition and low on money. “It was a fairly ambitious move,” Jonelle reflected, but the couple says they’re thankful they made that leap of faith.

But despite the hype and fanfare, both Tim and Jonelle remain firmly rooted on the ground, understanding the value of working together and seeing each other’s career grow. They’re a big inspiration to many of us, and it’s always a treat to get to know them a bit better. Enjoy!

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