Rookie Reflections: Ride Around Kentucky with Ema Klugman and Bendigo

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since we were watching the best of the best duke it out at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Luckily, it’s the event that just keeps giving in terms of content, and now many riders are receiving the videos of their cross country rides.

We were over the moon for one of the Land Rover Rookies, Ema Klugman and her own Bendigo, who is a member of Team Nation Media as Jumper Nation’s editor. Ema made the whole weekend look, well, easy, and one would never know that Bendigo was 18 years young as he left the start box that wet and soggy Saturday.

We #BelieveInBendigo! Photo by Elena Perea.

“Actually the timing (getting to the start box) was a bit off because there had been holds on course and it was unclear when my ride time was,” Ema reflected. “We were a bit late, which was probably good because I didn’t have time to stress. I got to the box with 30 seconds to go, and for whatever reason all I could think was that I needed a drink of water before going! The starter was super nice and got me a bottle, so I took a sip, threw it back to her, trotter a circle and we were off!”

“Bendigo was fantastic around the whole course,” she continued. “I had a solid plan thanks to my coach, Marilyn Little, and everything rode just about according to plan. About halfway around the course I thought, “wow, we are actually doing this!”. I was impressed by how much horse I had left in the final minute, and I have to say the feeling going over the final fence was just thrilling!”

Ema Klugman soaks in the moment before awards. Photo by Sally Spickard.

I asked at what point during the course did she think, “OK, I got this!”, to which she answered: “Landing from the last jump.” Realistic until the very end! When the dust and mud settled, Ema would finish 33rd in her first five-star and would also take home the Highest Placed Youngest Rider award from the event – all in all a successful effort for team #BeliveInBendigo!

Bendigo is now enjoying his well-earned vacation as Ema works with her young horses and prepares to begin law school at The George Washington University in Washington, DC later this year. We may see this pair out once more, though, as Ema says she’s eyeing the inaugural Maryland 5* in October for her longtime partner.

Enjoy the ride with Ema and Bendigo!


Got the official footage from Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. What a ride this horse gave me! Thanks to the best team who made it possible– my Mum, Marilyn Little, Kangaroo Josh Klugman, Elena Perea, Hilary Moore Hebert, Britt Gillis, and everyone else who said #believeinbendigo! <3

Also a huge thanks to the Equestrian Australia NEXT squad and Will Enzinger who pushed me to take my riding to the next level. Looking forward to many more Kentucky’s.

Posted by Ema Klugman on Tuesday, May 18, 2021