Wednesday News & Notes from Ocala Horse Properties

Happening this week – the 2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (GPE) Organizing Committee and the Aiken Horse Park Foundation.

Making the podium at all five editions of the event – and scoring a hattrick of wins – Liz Halliday has three chances to defend her title, with Cooley Quicksilver (winner of the 4*S at Kentucky last season), Cooley Nutcracker (winner of two 4*L events in 2023) and last year’s champ (and Kentucky 5* third place finisher) Miks Master C all set to take their turn in the start box. It’s tough to bet against her, but with a super-stellar lineup, the competition is hot hot hot!

We’ll see all the US big hitters – the likes of Phillip Dutton, Will Coleman, Buck Davidson, Will Faudree and Lillian Heard Wood, who all bring two rides, with Boyd Martin and Doug Payne each having three shots at the title. And the list goes on… Maryland 5* winner Austin O’Connor is over from Ireland, and there are not one but two 2023 Pan-Am Games gold medalists in the form of Caroline Pamukcu (individual gold) and Canada’s Coleen Loach (team gold). There are just too many top contenders to mention here – one thing’s for sure, we’re in for a stacked competition and we can’t wait!

The action kicks off with dressage at 8am EST on Friday, followed by show jumping at 3pm. The cross country gets underway on Saturday at 12:30pm. You can watch it all play out live on H&C+ (subscription required) and we’ll of course be bringing you everything you need to know – keep it locked onto EN and follow @goeventing as we dive into the 2024 season.

2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage]

Also of note: Today is National Public Sleeping Day, which, to my understanding, means that it’s entirely legal – and indeed encouraged – for you to take a nap, wherever and whenever the Zs take you. Think staff meetings, while waiting in line, during particularly boring conversations you’d rather not be having – please not in the saddle. Apparently Oliver Townend snatches forty winks between cross country rounds at 5* events, which makes it totally plausible for me to round this off by saying go eventing, and nap.

U.S. Weekend Preview

2024 $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Ride For Charity Teams] [Ride For Charity Online Vote] [Volunteer] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] Schedule – [03/01 8am-2pm EST Dressage] [03/01 3pm-5pm EST Show Jumping] [03/02 12:30pm-3pm EST Cross Country]

Full Gallop Farm March Wednesday H.T. (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Rocking Horse Winter III H.T. (Altoona, FL) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Sporting Days Farm March H.T. II (Aiken, SC) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

Twin Rivers Winter H.T. (Paso Robles, CA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer] [Scoring]

International Events

Portuguese Spring Tour (Mata do Duque) [Timetable] [Entries] [Scoring] [Portuguese Eventing Association Facebook Page] [More Info]

Wednesday News and Reading

We’re kicking off today’s News and Reading with a couple of cool opportunities – first up the chance to have your event horse’s conformation critiqued by former USEA YEH Championship judge Chris Ryan. All you need to do is send a conformation photo and short video of your horse – straight on and from the side – being led at walk and trot to [email protected] and it’ll be considered as part of the USEA’s Conformation Critique series. You only have ‘til Wednesday March 6th, so cameras at the ready and have at it.

Next up, bookings are open for British Eventing’s webinar with Sally Mcginn from Mind Oddessey, where she’ll be talking all things reflection. From making balanced reflections and dealing with post competition blues to identifying strengths and working on the gaps, the session sounds like it’ll be super helpful for those of us who are striving towards competition aspirations as well as less competitive but thoughtful riders who use reflection to improve their performance when working towards goals at home. The webinar will take place on March 14th at 7pm GMT and costs £15.

And while we’re on the topic of things coming up – what better way to celebrate an extra day this year than to get quizzy with it? In aid of the British Eventing Support Trust but absolutely open to anyone around the world who enjoys getting quizzical, this leap year quiz night is sure to be a blast – and there’s a trophy at stake. If I win, can I claim it as an eventing win? My general knowledge may not be quite so general as it could be, but I’ve for sure got a better chance of winning a quiz than an event. If you’re up for the competition, you need to register to receive the Zoom link, which you can do right here. The questions will be comin’ at ya from 7pm GMT / 2pm EST tomorrow (February 29th). See you there.

With a bunch of medals to his name, including Olympic gold, US based British eventer and USEF Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law is a voice we listen to when it comes to training tips. 17-year-old Austin Skeens got to do just that in person when he had the opportunity to train with Leslie as part of the USEF E18 training program, and lucky for us, he’s shared what he learned. With tips for all three phases, from straightness in dressage and nailing your show jumping warm up to making good choices for your horse on the cross country, there’s lots here for us all to take away and work on.

Yes, we’re once more revisiting the phenomenon that is Shane Rose’s mankini – which is apparently not one of the silliest riding costumes ever seen. A research poll conducted by the ‘Chillax Institute’ has concluded that the scrap of neon orange was actually a rather fitting choice, given its aerodynamic properties and the weather in Australia at this time of year. And as far as the accolade of ‘silliest riding costume’ goes, Shane’s mankini didn’t even make the top-five on the list. It’s probably time we put ‘mankini-gate’ to bed, but there’s for sure one more laugh to be had in this satirical jaunt.

And finally… Saving the best / weirdest / most hilarious ‘til last, I present to you donkey basketball. Yes, really. It’s basically basketball on donkey-back, and the justification for such an intriguing addition to the sport is the added unpredictability these stubborn equines bring to the game. You will see plenty of planting. You probably won’t see a donkey doing a slam dunk. (If you’re in any doubt that this is a thing, here’s proof.)

Sponsor Corner

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Video Break

We’re so lucky to be involved in a sport where age and sex pose relatively limited barriers to not only enjoying the sport, but also competing at the highest levels within it. From show jumping legend John Whittaker, who’s still at the top of his game aged 68, to eventing’s own eight-time Olympian, Andrew Hoy, aged 65, and long-time hero Pippa Funnell, who’s smashing it for the horsegirls at 55, there are many shining examples of the longevity that equestrian sports provide athletes. At the other end of the scale are competitors such as Sky Brown, Britain’s youngest ever summer Olympian, who won a bronze medal in skateboarding in Tokyo. Here’s what went down when King of Dressage Carl Hester met the young talent:

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