Sunday, December 4, 2011

Professional Management Tip # 4 - It's A Team Effort

Are you seeking success or significance? Are you striving to help others or just yourself? Equine professionals are striving for both! Write down three ways you can help your team (sponsors, owners, barn manage, grooms, students, etc.)...and more importantly get their feedback. Then write down three more ways you are helped by helping others. We ride as individuals, but it is always a team effort. It's not all about you!

Imtiaz Anees represented India at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He lives in Moreland, Georgia where runs Springtown Stables. Imtiaz is a member of PRO who has a special interest in what makes professional success achievable for individuals pursuing careers in diverse fields. Imtiaz acts as a business mentor to young riders and he will be sharing his professional management tips and advice for riders of all 
                                                            levels on the PRO Blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Professional Management Tip #3: Time Managment

Imtiaz Anees represented India at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He lives in Moreland, Georgia where runs Springtown Stables. Imtiaz is a member of PRO who has a special interest in what makes professional success achievable for individuals pursuing careers in diverse fields. Imtiaz acts as a business mentor to young riders and he will be sharing his professional management tips and advice for riders of all levels on the PRO Blog.



Prioritize your time. Everyone is busy with school, homework, activities, work, family, kids etc. You can't always manage your time, but you can always manage yourself. Look at how you spend your time, does it match up with your current goals?

Pick three things to start doing that will help you get more focused, and more importantly and much harder to do, stop three things that you are currently doing that are not productful. Time management is very important in order to be successful in whatever you choose to do in life. As I said before make a plan for your day, week and month.  Begin each list with the most important daily, weekly or monthly goal in the priority spot on the very top of the list.

Evaluate your time management. Don't get stuck in a rut, take the initiative to make positive changes that help you get the most out of your day, week, and year and help you achieve your goals.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Look Back at Galway Downs International by James Alliston

Galway Downs in Temecula was the site of the last big show of the season. This show was huge with not only many entries from the east coast but also one competitor from the Netherlands too. All the CCI divisions had a ton of entries which was great to see. In particular the 3*, in only its second year, has clearly become a great success with the east coast riders recognizing the great footing available at this time of year, the top-class Ian Stark designed course and substantial prize money available.

The show was a great result for my horses. They went into it bang on form after Woodside so I was quietly confident but I also realized there were some top horses and riders on the start list so it was going to be a hard fought competition. The weather was far from ideal with a lot of rain throughout but thankfully cross-country day was beautiful and the ground by the time the 3*went in the afternoon was lovely.

The 3* course was substantial with questions all the way round and some big ditch fences. Parker jumped great but was pretty strong and I was pretty tired at the end of the round. Needless to say he was comfortably inside the time which gave me a nice gauge for how quick to go out on Jumbo’s Jake. Jake cruised round and gave me a fabulous ride. As I approached the brush corner four from home I realized there was no flag on it which concerned me slightly as it was pretty big anyway even with the flag. I needn’t have worried though as Jake pinged it and we went on to finish the round bang on the optimum and snatch the lead from my neighbor for the week Nate Chambers. I was on cloud nine after a great day of cross country for me with four CCI horses round inside the time; the only downside being informed that if I had been wearing the right gloves I would have won $2,000! I was a little upset with myself for not cashing in on this great opportunity offered by SSG gloves, but congratulations to Australian Kadi Eykamp for capitalizing on Sunday and pocketing $3,000 for the clear round nearest the optimum.

Show jumping day offered some thrilling climaxes to the international classes. Lots of rain throughout the jumping made for difficult conditions and, particularly in the 1* and 2*, clear rounds were hard to come by. My day started with an excitable Mojo in the 1*. He was pretty lit up and after an early rail I was concerned we might put up a cricket score in the pouring rain. However, he held it together to come home with just the one mistake and luck was on our side as those in front also had rails leaving Mojo a delighted and surprised winner.

In the 2* Tivoli jumped a lovely clear to pile on the pressure and very nearly came out the victor. Amber Levine pipped us by less than a point so many congratulations to them for a great weekend. I’m very excited about Tivoli for next year, he has all the ability in the world and the cross country round he gave me was effortless for him.

First up for me in the big one, the 3*, was Parker who jumped a great clear which boosted my confidence for Jake to follow. Jake did not disappoint, jumping clear and culminating a great weekend for myself and everyone at Graceland Equestrian Center with a win. I’m delighted for the horse and owner India Mcevoy as the horse has had a fantastic year and really deserves the recognition he got with this big win. Many thanks to Chuck and Peggy Moore for your ongoing support, Ken Nicholson for making the trip down and particularly to India and Peggy for being fabulous grooms all weekend. I must be the only rider who has his owners grooming their horses at the shows and am extremely lucky and grateful to have them.

Lastly, a big shout out to my parents John and Petey who made the trip across the Pond to support and help. I think they must be good luck charms and as always it was great entertainment having them around.

Photo of Jumbo's Jake by Samantha Clark/ Eventing Nation

Monday, October 31, 2011

Last Flight to Galway Downs

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy coordinating three separate flight to Galway on Tex Sutton's Air Horse One. There is something about horses flying that is just so incredibly cool, that each time we coordinate a flight it leaves me both a little bit breathless and in awe until all touch down safely and arrive at their new temporary stable or return home.

I have to thank Tex Sutton for being so incredibly accommodating and easy to work with. Their outstanding staff makes the logistics of these flights manageable. And to put matters in perspective PRO has coordinated flights for 58 horses in the last two years. Just think of the organization it takes to get 6-19 horses on a plane, with riders, grooms and assorted gear.

The information needed is something like this:

Vital Info:
Horse, coggins, health certificate, owner name, rider name, size, sex, vices, special needs

Packing List:
Feed (1-2 bag limit), blankets/sheets, 1 trunk, 2 duffle bags per horse with assorted tack and gear

Load In/ Load Out:
Directions to airport cargo for load in
Provide driver names to security staff
Provide list of horses on each rig to Tex Sutton
Arrange for Pick up of horses, people and gear upon arrival

Notices to human cargo:
Bring coats, hats, gloves etc. (plane is very cold)
Bring headphones (plane is very loud)

None of this is accomplished without a ridiculous amount of telephone calls, emails and text messages going back and forth. When three flights are going to the same location with one week and then leaving again, it's just enough to make!

So if the videos or photographs are not exactly the quality that you had in mind, don't shoot the messengers but instead thank the riders and grooms who have been kind enough to try and take them in all kinds of conditions so people can see what's going on behind the scenes for everyone.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Professional Management Tips: Preparation

Imtiaz Anees represented India at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He lives in Moreland, Georgia where runs Springtown Stables. Imtiaz is a member of PRO who has a special interest in what makes professional success achievable for individuals pursuing careers in diverse fields. Imtiaz acts as a business mentor to young riders and he will be sharing his professional management tips and advice for riders of all levels on the PRO Blog.

Preparation is one of your best allies. Successful people don't wing it. Take time to make a plan, write down a schedule for the week, month and year. Put down the shows you want to do, then cross country schools, lessons, gallops, jump and hack days. Don't forget days off. Of course it might change due to weather, school, work, lost shoe or lameness issues. But we can't plan enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The California Eventing Scene is Hot, Hot, Hot by James Alliston

The past few weeks have been busy on the California eventing scene with the events at Twin Rivers and Woodside in quick succession. Twin Rivers in Paso Robles kicked off on Thursday with the west coast Young Event Horse Finals. I rode Wimbledon in the 4 year old class and was feeling suitably terrified and under prepared upon walking the course. However, Wimbledon rose to the challenge and ended up with a third not too far behind the winners, Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Cinco. Much to my amusement Wimbledon went on to win the Novice Horse division by 0.1 ahead of the lovely five-year old champions Maxance McManamy and Astro. I must say Max took the defeat in good spirits though and I am sure she is consoled by her haul of prizes that included a saddle in the young horse championship. To see the incredible prizes and sponsorship of this class is fantastic and makes it a real incentive and target for the future.

Jumbo’s Jake and Parker had their first run since Rolex and both went very well for 2nd and 4th in the Advanced. I was leading going into the show-jumping but a rail down cost me the win by 0.3 penalties to Canadian Sandra Donnelly so it was an exciting climax. Embarrassingly, I thought maybe I had still sneaked it as my friends had been telling me all day that I had a rail in hand but they were misinformed! A few minutes prior to this Parker jumped a clear round despite my stirrup breaking halfway round the course. This was a first for me and I give great credit to Parker for nursing me home without penalty.

Next up was a welcome return to international competition at Woodside. This show was huge with a ton of entries from all over and Robert Kellerhouse and his team did a great job of making this a real special event and handling the deluge of rain on Thursday. With a shifting of the timetable so the upper levels did cross-country on Sunday I would have to say the ground was as good as I have ever seen it anywhere in California. Also, the show jumping on Saturday seemed to attract a large and enthusiastic crowd throughout the day and the cheers of a clear round could be heard across the showground which was really cool.

On a personal note this show could not have gone a lot better for my horses. Jake led from the start to win the three star and Parker put in a massive effort for third in the same class. Parker’s 52 in the dressage shattered his international personal best by 10 marks and much to my delight and India’s (owner of Jumbo’s Jake) bemusement a few people even mistook him for Jake while I was warming up! Many thanks for this result go to dressage maestro and cool dude Gerd Reuter for flying out to California and teaching everybody in September. Derek Di Grazia’s cross country course had been given a major facelift with a lot of changes and new fences at all levels and proved a real test but both my boys jumped great and I’d have to say the result must go down as a career highlight for me so far. Elsewhere, at the same show Tivoli took 3rd in the Intermediate, Peggy Moore’s O’Reilly Factor took 3rd in her Prelim debut and four-year old Lagos won the Novice on his eventing debut.

Now we have a few quiet weeks but next on the radar is Galway where Jake and Parker will contest the 3 star, Tivoli the 2 star and Mojo the one star. My parents are traveling over from England to watch which is always entertaining as California will soon find out.

Photo of India McEvoy's Jumbos Jake at Woodside

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From West Grove and Beyond by Jackson Roberts

Well this post is quite overdue so pace yourself because I have a lot to catch up on. The most notable event that has happened since my last blog post was the party of the century, Lillian Heard's going away celebration. This party was hosted by the WONDERFUL Cuyler and Katie Walker at their lovely Rolling Plains Farm. The night was highlighted by the surprise appearance of Ashley Adams. Myself and Steph smuggled Ashley in to the party via a plastic container on the back of a John Deere gator. I think Lil was very impressed with her present. The party ended up going on until about 2:30 a.m. by that time everyone had either been thrown in the pool or jumped in on their own terms, I was thrown in! One thing I did learn is that at 2:30 in the morning gas stations don't pump gas!! All in all it was awesome and it seems that Lil has already taken Ireland by storm!

Also since my last entry I competed at two events with Percy, Millbrook and Waredaca. At both events we competed in the training. I was extremely pleased with the way Percy went at Millbrook. He galloped around the cross country full of boldness, maybe too much at times. I wasn't quite sure how he would show jump after cross country as this was the first non one day event that we had done; however he jumped a superb round and we slid in to second place just behind the great Karen O'Connor in a very competitive field. The next weekend we were back out at Waradeca. I got a little neverous in the dressage ring and pushed him a little too much. I was very upset with myself and take full responsibility, my horse does not deserve to have that score on his record. I was able to put that poor performance behind me and jump an awesome clear show jumping round. I felt that at Millbrook he got a little too strong so I used a different bit that helped me elevate him to stay more uphill and soft. The new bit was awesome and he had a great trip around the cross country. This weekend we head to Senaca for our last training and then hopefully the big move up to prelim at Plantation Field in a few weeks time.

Speaking of Plantation Field, the event will be even bigger and better than before. This year Plantation will be unveiling there new state of the art arena with Tapeta footing and a new water jump sponsored by Dubarry boots. The footing this year should be great as I myself have aggregated the turf and we have been having lots of rain including a visit from Irene last night! Denis Glaccum and his team are preparing to truly put on a world class event. If you are interested in visiting Plantation in Unionville Pa, please check out their website at

Now for my last chapter I would like to step away from eventing and talk about Fox hunting. I have a had the great privilege to ride with Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Fox Hounds this summer. Katie Walker originally invited me to ride with her fabulous hunting trainer Dave Leinhauser. Dave is a wonderful horseman and I am trying to soak up as much of his knowledge as possible. Cheshire's season begins in July with hound exercise which is basically just hacking out with the hounds. The season now is just on the brink of cubbing, so the hounds are actually hunting the foxes a little bit and the pace of the hunt field has picked up and some jumping too! When I first started going out in July I had been riding some of Katie Walkers hunters, but she has since referred me to her friend Kate Martin. Over the past few weeks I have been riding Kate's wonderful young horse Hershey. Hershey is just a little baby at four years old but he is already showing off all his class by jumping some rather large three railers in front of the whole field. I have also been riding another young horse for the Martins who is coming along quite well in the flat work department. I feel so blessed to have this wonderful opportunity to ride in such beautiful country side on a great young horse with superb owners. I can't wait for the season to progress as the runs get longer, faster and more jumping to be had. I think I will be forever grateful to the wonderful Katie Walker for setting me up with the Martins and introducing me to the Cheshire hunt. There most definitely is no place more beautiful than the view from between a horse's ears looking over the hills of Unionville!

Kick on,

Photo of Jackson jumping Kate Martin's Hershey

Monday, August 29, 2011

From the West Coast to Burghley and In Between by Natalia Gurmankin

Introductions ☺

Hello All!!! My name is Natalia Gurmankin and I am 22 years old. I have spent the last 3 and a ½ years based in Temecula California working for and riding with Hawley Bennett. I have 3 awesome horses, Tequesteris better known as Tex, Hail and Legate a.k.a Legs. It’s kind of hard to figure out where to start a blog, but I guess I will begin it with a recap of my summer so far because so far it’s been pretty awesome. And also let me start it by saying a huge THANK YOU to the man that makes this dream possible and that is my dad Jay. Without his support I would not be where I am today. Thanks Dad!

On July 14th Hawley and I loaded up the crew and drove 24 hours to the amazing Rebecca Farm! Rebecca Farm never fails to blow it out of the water, leaving no detail unfinished. The courses were beautiful, the footing was perfect and the staff is unbelievable. The event started off with a real bang for me because my boyfriend of 4 years proposed the day after we got there! Tommy is a course builder helps to build most of the courses on the West Coast. We are planning to get married November 17th 2012 ☺. From there great things kept happening, I was doing my first Advanced with Tex and he was a total rock star and made easy work of the cross country and Legs was 3rd in the Training 3 day! To top it off Gin and Juice and Hawley won the 3*** which was so exciting. Needless to say it was a great week for all those involved in Hawley Bennett Eventing and a great trip with great friends. Of course with things going so well, inevitably one bad thing had to happen, so our truck decided it needed new fuel injectors in Utah. However, it was a super convenient “breakdown” if there is such a thing seeing as we had a place to overnight the ponies and luckily I am originally from Utah so my mom came down and took Hawley and I to dinner, and my future in laws Tom and Carol lent us a car to get around town while the truck was getting fixed. We finally got home safe and sound the next day and all of us got some much-needed rest! All in all it was a kick ass trip!

2 weeks later it was off to Woodside, between Hawley and I we were riding 9 horses but with the help of Tessa Beckett, Sarah Braun and Hayley Sullivan things ran super smooth and the horses were all fantastic. Tex was 3rd in the Advanced and Hail was 2nd in the prelim. And Legs jumped so big in Show Jumping I lost my balance and slid off. OOPS!!!!! That will teach me to duck to the left ☺ Ginny ran the combined test and is looking better than ever as we prepare to venture across the pond again for Burghley!!!

This last week Buck came out for a clinic, which are always super fun. The horses all went fantastic and I have lots of homework for the fall as we prepare for the fall 3 days at Woodside and Galway where I hope to be doing my first 3 star on Tex. Hail is aiming for the 2 star and Legs the 1 star. Those are the goals but we’ll see how things go, everyone knows how hard it is to make plans in this world ;)

But for now, I have been busy packing all of Gin and Juices things ☺ Hawley, Ginny, and I fly out Thursday. We will arrive in Amsterdam, and take a Lorry over to Maizey Manor Farm where we will hang with the other Canadians and then off to Burghley we go ☺ Packing is always interesting seeing as you try to fit your entire tackroom into 3 little trunks….IMPOSSIBLE! But I think we have pretty much everything we need and I can’t wait to get over there!!! Go Hawley and Ginny!

Until Next Time!!


Keeping Up with James Alliston

It has been a while since my last blog, but a lot has happened since then. Most recently, India McEvoy’s Jumbo’s Jake has made his return to the barn from his break post Rolex, and I am eager and excited to resume training with this delightful animal once again. Last weekend Woodside was a fun event, with Mojo taking second place in the preliminary class; with performances like this past weekend, it gives me hope for great things from this horse in the future. A special thanks to India McEvoy for her stellar training and her ability to work wonders with this talented but sometimes challenging horse. Best of luck to India as she continues riding and competing with Mojo this upcoming fall. Elsewhere at Woodside, the rest of the horses and students performed admirably, although I did take an unscheduled dismount from Tivoli when he pecked on landing in the water. He was going beautifully and I was more surprised than anyone, but luckily my Hit-Air vest kept me afloat. A special thanks to Shane for taking excellent care of Parker whist I was away at the show as well.

Also at Woodside at the competitor’s dinner it was brought to my attention the vast number of California based eventers representing the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico on the list of potential competitors for the Pan Am Games. Brian Sabo and Robert Kellerhouse presented the Pan –Am hopefuls with flowers in acknowledgement of the hardwork and dedication it takes to get to that level of success. I wish the very best of luck to all those making the trip east to the final trial at Richland Park, and I am sure they will represent their respective countries with pride.

The rest of the season will continue on with Twin Rivers in a few weeks, amongst those I will be riding, Jumbo’s Jake and Parker making their comeback post Rolex, as well as Wimbledon making his US Eventing debut in the Young Event Horse Finals, which should be an eye-opening experience for him. The show season will continue to build, culminating with the Galway Downs CCI*** in November.

Until next time,


The photo is of the newly arrived Jumbo’s Jake

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life is Good by Danny Warrington

Ok so my horses are going well! My job is going very well, having just signed to a big facility in Fulshear, Texas. Yee-ha! I have changed my plans a bit for the fall; well maybe.... I think I am going to give Will Smith an easy fall season to gain his confidence and strength back. However if he tells me he is ready we may head for the ** in Georgia. But that is not what I am writing about this time, I am going to tell you about how I spend my free time .

Everyone has their thing. Some garden, some paint, or draw, some read books and others facebook or surf the net. I boat! And all the things water entails, water skiing, wakeboarding, then there is scuba diving and fishing. Now as for fishing some people think; a rod a bucket of worms a bobber in a pond, or……….some people think 500 pound marlin of the coast of Panama others might picture a quiet mountain stream with a fly rod in Montana or Wyoming. I think of a center console between 25-36 feet long with twin outboards burning about 25 gallons an hour out in the ocean chasing breaking fish! Or I think shallow water like the Bahamas or Belize sight casting to bonez! To those who don’t know , the short of it is, bonefish are a saltwater fish that basically you stalk/hunt , sneak up on, you cast only when you see them and they accelerate from 0-40 miles an hour!!! like leaving the start box, for a fish.

Then there is scuba diving! If you have never done this …………………why not! It is by far one of the best sightseeing experiences you can have. Once you have been underwater for 20 minutes to about an hour swimming with the fish, you will only then understand why I love it so much. If you go hiking to see a moose, elk or bear or something cool like that you spend all day and hope. When you dive you are with the fish, turtles, sharks, if your real lucky a whale or dolphin. Pretty cool!

I plan two trips a year; one is to Montauk, NY where we chase breaking fish. This trip we leave for the Sunday after fair hill for a few days. Montauk is the end of Long Island New York. I mean the end... as far as you can go. The marina is called Snug Harbor, if there are any Jaws fans out there this is the original harbor of Orca, that’s the boat in the movie. I want to share this with you……… In the bar/restaurant( where they have great sushi by the way ) is a picture of a man ….now get this……standing on a dead whale (no joke) in one hand he has a giant hook with a piece of the whale as bait (by giant it’s about the size of a saddle flap)big! So he is standing on a dead whale with a hook in his hand (are you ready) throwing it into the mouth of a great white shark!!!!! That’s right standing on a dead whale throwing a hook in to the mouth of a great white shark! If you are ever in Montauk you gotta see it. Just to mention it was in the 70’s so not too much animal rights then, but a cool picture none the less.

The other trip is where we (Keli &I) charter a boat in the Caribbean somewhere. This is what I do in my free time plan this trip! This year we are going to Abaco, Bahamas. I start to plan this trip about six months out to save on airfare, get the boat I want and basically keep my sanity. I find that as soon as I start to plan our trip I feel like the corona adds. I look on-line at destinations, boats, power or sail, then at the ones I can actually afford to charter. Then there is the guest list, who do we invite? Arranging where to meet, who’s bringing what (mostly what fishing gear). This year we have chartered a 47 foot power cat with two other couples as I said in the Bahamas. Bonefish capitol of the world, a scuba diving meca, good friends, the food is always great, and oh yeah the rum!

Now you know what I am thinking about when I am not riding!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bittersweet Ending by Kate Berta

Well as much as I would like to say my summer ended according to my plan, I am constantly reminded that in fact, it didn’t end according to my plan. Horses can be the most beautiful elegant animals on this plant. They have the power to capture your heart and steal your sole but they are still 1,200 pounds of pure muscle and power.

On July 14, I was washing one of Stephen’s horses off after I had a fantastic ride on him, I went to set the hose down and look to see if his tail needed washing. As soon as I was behind him something must have stung or scared him because he went flying forward and kicked out with both hind feet, nailing me in my left side with full force. Boomer, the horse, is the sweetest horse in Stephen’s barn, so for this to happen is completely out of character. Anyways, long story short I went to the ER room and found out I had a grade 3 spleen injury in not just one but two places. I was then required to stay in the ICU for 3 nights and a regular room for 2 nights. Thank God I did not have to have my spleen removed but it was required that I do no physical activity for 6 weeks.

So after I was out of the hospital we packed up my horses and myself and made the trip back to Lexington where we dropped
the horses off to stay in training and then migrated back to my hometown of Bowling Green where I rested and was allowed to do absolutely nothing. So its been 5 weeks into the 6 weeks and I have just about gone insane from not being on a horse. I am recovering just fine and have done exactly what the doctors have said, for the first time in my life. I will be able to go back into full riding August 24th and then will compete both of my horses at the training level at Ky classic. I am hoping to move Bailey back up to preliminary at Jumpstart and my goal is to run Bourbon in the Hagyard Team Challenge training three day. I wish I had a better story to tell but overall minus the spleen part, I had a absolute blast working for Stephen. He taught me so much in the 6 weeks I was there and I am looking forward to riding and working for him again. Hope to see everyone soon!

Photo of Kate, Bailey and Bourbon courtesy of Team Shamrock

Friday, August 5, 2011

Millbrook Horse Trials Update

Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos and Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM lead the PRO Tour Advanced divisions at the Millbrook Horse Trials

Two days of perfect weather at the Millbrook Horse Trials helped riders produce some spectacular dressage tests in the PRO Tour Advanced division.  Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos, continue to show what a special horse he is by scoring a 27.80 in his first Advanced horse trial since his recovery from the tragic fire at True Prospect Farm. They hold the lead in the Advanced - A division over Densey Juvonen's Remington XXV also ridden by Boyd. Leslie Law with Troy Glaus' Rehy Lux continues to show that this horse is one to watch as they scored a 31.60 to sit in third place. Phillip Dutton and Ben owned by Team Rebecca sits in 4th on a 33.40 and Clark Montgemery and Loughen Glen is tied for fifth with Colleen Rutledge's Dillon.

In the Advanced - B division, Buck Davidson put in a beautiful test with Carl and Cassandra Segal's Ballynoecastle RM and Bruce Duchossois' Mighty Nice lived up to his moniker with Phillip Dutton giving him a lovely ride to score a 33.4. Joe Meyer showcased his nineteen-year-old New Zealand legend, Snip, scoring a 36.60 to sit in third place. Michael Pollard and DV8 and Kevin Keene and his own Fernhill Flutter are currently tied for fourth place in the division on a 37.20.

The cross country course looks beautiful and the ground nearly foot perfect. Saturday's Advanced course, designed by Tremaine Cooper, is sure to be a strong test for all riders in the Advanced division.  Saturday's cross country will is bring out the crowds who continue to show strong support of the Millbrook Horse Trials, which benefits Dutchess Land Conservancy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Life is Good by Jackson Roberts

As this is my first blog entry for PRO, I will start with a proper introduction. My real name is Jackson Roberts, although I seem to be referred to by nicknames more often. These nicknames are as fallows but not limited to: Jacko, Jax, Action Jackson, The Tennessee Tornado, Baby Jackson, B Jacks and Young Blood. I would say that 80% of those names were created by good friend Boyd Martin.

As for my background I am 19 years-old from Nashville Tennessee, son of two non horsey parents. I caught the horse bug from my parents renting two ponies for my fourth birthday party, I think my parents would say that was the worst finical decision they ever made! I found eventing through pony club at age 11 and knew right away that is what I wanted to do. One thing led to another and I wound up as a working student for Phillip Dutton three days after my high school graduation. I have been with the True Prospect team now since May of 2010. Within the first year of being with Phillip, I feel that my riding has dramatically improved and brought me to my Intermediate debut at Morven earlier this year.

Currently I have wonderful new horse named Percy Warner who is owned by my parents, Fred and Leigh. Phillip and Julie Richards found Percy for me at the beginning of June of this year. He had mostly just show jumped prior to me getting him and he is at training level currently. We had a very educational run at Surefire in June where he was leading his training section prior to the cross country but we had a run out about 3/4 of the way around. He was quite green at all the flowers and decorations around the jumps, but I think we might have been a bit too lucky had we pulled off the win with just 12 days of our partnership together. Two weeks later we were back out again at the Maryland horse trials. This time around I rode much more forward around the cross country and we had a nice confidence building run. As a side note I would like to commend the event staff at both Surefire and Maryland for putting a lot of effort into the footing for the cross country, which I greatly appreciated as did Percy's legs! Next up for us is Millbrook in New York and then to Waradeca the next week.

As for my day to day life at home in Unionville, Pa every day is different. On a my most busy days I will get up at 3:30 AM and do the barn for Silva Martin and then start work at True Prospect at 7, then we normally finish around 5 and I will either ride some extra horses or go back to Silva and Boyd's farm to mow. This summer I feel like I some times work more for Boyd than Phillip, but both Silva and Boyd have been so kind since my arrival and let me work off my lessons with Silva. When I am not working, I'm generally with my best friend/partner in crime Steph Boyer. She has been so helpful to me as far as someone to talk to as she previously worked for True Prospect and as young professional event rider. In this business you can never have too many friends, but I think I will be hard pressed to find one as good as Steph.

I hope you know a little more about me now, and I should be blogging on a monthly basis for PRO. Until next time keep kicking on!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome to Virginia by Kate Berta

Well, I guess I should start off with an introduction. My name is Kate Berta. I am currently 21 years old and a senior at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky, where I am a double major in Exercise Science and Psychology. I really have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my majors when I graduate, but my parents more than myself hope I figure that out really soon. I started riding when I was six years old and have not looked back. I wish I could tell everyone this really cool story about how I got involved horses, like my mom was a upper level rider and my dad trained horses, but that’s definitely not the case. My parents only really like horses because it’s a part of my life. I can’t tell you why I started riding, all I can say is it’s in my blood.

Anyways, moving on from myself, I currently compete two horses, Brandenburg’s Lucky Charm “Bailey” and Bourbon. Bailey is an 11 year old ISH gelding I bought in 2006 and have gone Intermediate on. Bailey and I have had some setbacks but now are on our way back up the levels. Bourbon is a 5 year old TB gelding who never raced and isn’t even tattooed. I bought Bourbon a year ago as a resale project and he has gone from greenie to training in a year. I am so proud of Bourbon and seeing the progress he has made is very satisfying as an owner and rider.

So now that you have had the spark notes introduction of my team and I, you are probably wondering why I got asked to write this blog. Well, I am currently a working student for Stephen Bradley in Boyce, VA and I’m here to tell you about my experience with Stephen. I arrived here at Long Branch Farm on May 24 and will be staying here till about Aug 4 when I have to venture back to KY to finish school. Our day usually goes like this:

6:30- Wake up.
7:00- Start morning chores (Bringing in horses, feed, muck stalls, hay, water, blow vac. All the normal fun stuff around the barn)
9:00ish- Stephen usually arrives and we tack up horses for Stephen and then once he gets done with his horses then we usually have our lessons and ride the horses we get to ride that day
3:00pm- PM feeding
6:30pm- Turnout

We usually stay pretty busy but since there are 4 working students, including myself, it goes by pretty fast. Stephen has already taught me so much. Because I am an upper level rider majority of my lessons and fine tuning my instincts and teaching me new exercises to improve the way that particular horse goes and how to be a softer rider in my aids. Stephen has also taught me a lot about how to pay attention to finer detail. I have been extremely lucky to be able to ride and learn from Stephen and recommend him to anyone.

Our next show that Stephen and the team will attend will be Maryland Horse Trials II, but until then I will keep everyone updated on our adventures here at Long Branch Farm and Team SS Bradley.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lucinda Clinic: Why Not More Professionals? by Ashley Leith

I just finished a two day cross country clinic at Fair Hill with Lucinda Green, and my biggest question of the week was why are there not more professionals taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity? I have ridden with Lucinda on and off since I was sixteen. These days I try to see her once a year. I will take a young horse or a client's young horse and participate in one of her Stateside clinics. If the timing works out perfectly, the clinic will be a week or two before a big show, because no matter how well I am riding, Lucinda's clinic is always a good wake up call. The exercises that she has her riders play over are skinny, awkward, sometimes spooky, and have no set striding. It is the perfect foil for the increased pressure of perfection in dressage, show jumping, and even cross country in our sport. Lucinda focuses on what she terms engine, line, and balance. These elements are the most basic building blocks in any correct riding. What Lucinda tries to do is foster these building blocks in the rider and then build on our horses' natural instinct to use their footwork and athleticism. Lucinda, rather than trying to create the perfect jump time and time again, tries to create awkward jumps so that riders and horses can learn instinct and survival skills. No one can be perfect every time.

Lucinda has a very loyal following for her clinics, the one I just participated in is usually full six months before the actual clinic date. Her training approach has been very influential in my own riding and her exercises are a breath of fresh air in this country. Gone are the days of learning to ride cross country by actually, well, riding across the country. Even in my own program I now go to Florida for the bulk of the winter and miss a good part of balancing on the slippery, muddy hills in the Northeast. I also miss fox hunting season, which is cross country riding raw. Lucinda has figured out a formula to specifically recreate cross country riding techniques in an arena. Even with quality dressage and show jumping riding more important now than ever before, good cross country riding is still the meat of the sport. Lucinda, one of the best cross country riders that the sport has ever seen, still has her finger on that pulse.

Lucinda's clinics are not the only ones I've attended. Over the years I have done clinics with Jimmy Wofford, Stephen Bradley, Ann Krusinski, Joe Fargis, George Morris as well as other top riders in different disciplines, including Natural Horsemanship. With few exceptions, very rarely is there another professional in my group. One notable exception was the George Morris clinic at Morven Park two years ago. To the benefit of everyone riding, Leslie Law also rode in the clinic on a young horse.

I see clinics as useful for many reasons. First, they are a great way to stay fresh by practice training techniques that I don't use on a daily basis, and in some cases I learn a new approach to an old concept. Second, they are a great experience for a young horse. My training level and preliminary level horses are looking for mileage, mileage, mileage, and a clinic is a great way for them to be in a pressure situation without being in a pressure situation. They perform a little bit, then they get to stand quietly and relax. Every single young horse I've taken to a clinic has been more mature by the end of two days. Clinics are also a great place for riders, even very good riders, to practice under pressure. The first year that I rode in an Ann Krusinski clinic, I did not want to be the leader in the exercises. Two years later, I led almost the entire clinic in my group. My thought process had gone from "I want to watch someone else so that I make sure I do the exercise right" to "I want to see if I can do this exercise right without seeing it done first." Having professionals in a clinic group also benefits the other riders. We do learn through watching, and being the group leader sets a great example for those savvy enough to pay attention. These days, clinics also help my teaching repertoire. As an ICP certified instructor, I have become more interested in watching different instructors teach. Often in a clinic I will watch how a master horseman communicates different concepts or works a struggling rider through an exercise.

Again, then, I ask why there are not more professionals riding in clinics? If Leslie Law can take the time to participate, where is everyone else?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Common Threads: Life at Wood Lane Stables by Missy Miller

I’ve decided to stop starting my blog posts with the usual intro of “Well, since my last post things have been the ultimate of high to lows”. Because, as also previously stated that is typical of life with horses. I’m not sure what to be expecting after this summer or for the remainder of it because lately I feel like even though I had the heartbreak of retiring my fantastic advanced mare, TSF Amazing Grace, things finally seem to be on a slow, uphill climb. Of course I have been trained to be wary of this but it is hard for me not to get excited about the possibilities being put in front of me, and for that, I have Gracie to thank and everyone else that has supported me.

Because of growing up in the eventing world, I can’t help but always find ways to keep myself busy, be them productive or not. So after I had Gracie settled into a new home and headed into a happy new chapter of her life with my other mare, I started sorting out exactly what they would be doing and working on something for me to do as well. Luckily for me both of my horses can be bred to hopefully produce exciting young prospects for me down the road, or as my mother will see it, new members of the ever growing Miller family. While I was starting to solely focus on my education I was at the same time becoming like a little girl longing for a pony all over again. Every time I saw ANY horse anywhere (including the carriage horses in downtown Savannah) I wondered if that could be my eventing superstar. Scopey jumper? Decent mover? Who cares, I’ll take what I can get. Seeing this, some friends suggested I get a job riding over the summer so I didn’t go even more insane. I jumped at the idea and sent e-mails, text messages, facebooks, twitters, morse code signals, etc to everyone in my contacts list. Then the suggestion came that I go overseas since I’d always wanted to and for once, I had no serious obligations keeping me in the good ole U.S of A. So the list grew and by some stroke of rare luck, I received a response from William Fox-Pitt, offering me the opportunity to come work at his yard. Yes, I did think it was a cruel prank at first, but I have been here for two weeks and Ashton Kutcher hasn’t jumped out of the bushes yet to tell me I’ve been punk’d.

One question I keep getting asked is what made me want to come work at William Fox-Pitt’s farm. And to be completely honest, it continues to floor me when I am asked. I mean, why wouldn’t I? Isn’t that what we do in this sport? Or any chosen profession for that matter? Go to work under someone we respect that has been successful so hopefully we can learn to emulate their habits and if all the stars align and we work hard and luck is on our side, we can also have similar success? So my answer is, why not? For the first time I can remember I had no horses needing my constant attention/annoyance and could take the jump across the pond like I had always wanted to. I have been beyond fortunate enough to work for many successful competitors and horsemen. Every time I have started somewhere new I make a habit of doing extensive stalker like research so I know who I’m working with, which for the most part makes me even more nervous about my first day. When you first arrive at a new farm it is much like anticipating your first day at a new school, a high mix of nerves and excitement. First days you feel lost as you try to figure out where things go, what your “schedule” is, who is who, and what to do when.

No matter how many successful barns I pass through, every single time I expect to uncover some well kept secret to the success of each professional. I watch them feed, are they putting golden Wheaties in for supplements? As I muck, I check to see if the stall mats are tempurpedic? As I watch them work with their horses, is their a secret handshake and exchange of bribery? Is the vet a magic witch doctor? Does the farrier put Nike Shox in the horse shoes? I haven’t found any of that… yet… But one thing I have found is routine, routine. Every barn has a schedule that is played out religiously day in and day out. Being here at Wood Lane Stables has proven to be no different. Everyone is always in a pleasant mood (maybe the British accents help to portray the cheer), and I think part of what makes it such a pleasant atmosphere is the lack of chaos and confusion that can sometimes accompany such busy competition barns. Before William left for Luhmuhlen with Mary King and Pippa Funnels horses hitching a ride you would have thought that they were leaving for a vacation weekend by their behavior. I wondered to myself how they could be so relaxed and nonchalant before leaving for a 4*??! Was this part of their madness that made them such fearless competitors? The more I become integrated into the routine I discover that when you have a good team working at home and a routine that has yet to fail, there really is no reason to stress. Yes, maybe it helps that all of them have done a 4* or two this year alone. After thinking about this for a while I realize some of the most successful barns I’ve been fortunate enough to work at all have this blanket of pleasant and calm over them. No barn has the same routine through out the day, but every single one has found one that works and sticks to it religiously.

Since I’ve been at Williams I keep discovering more and more that has brought back the pure joy of working with horses every day and reminding me “Why we do this”, which I had pondered heavily after boughts of bad karma. While I’m bringing in one of Williams current top competition horses and watch as Mr. Stunning eats away in his huge pasture, you forget about the show approaching and just feel thankful to work with such amazing animals on a daily basis. And that is something I don’t think anyone here ever forgets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Luck the Sixth Leg? by Danny Warrington

How hard this game can be... both physically and mentally as well as the emotional roller coaster ride the sport and horses cause. Some people are not as lucky as we that do this for a living. This may also be lucky for them! With only one or two horses your odds of mishap maybe lessened. But by no means do I mean other people don't have the same problems, some just get the good luck if only by the odds.

This is the come back story of my good horse Will Smith which is still in progress. When Will came to me a few years ago, let's just say it took a few months just to be able to get him to the arena on a daily basis. Then the dressage was some what in the 50's and the topper to that was a 2 for my riding......a 2....... come on I stayed on! I thought an 8 even a 9 for the effort! Yet we managed to get better. Then the start box became the issue. At Waradaca a couple years ago he lost it, completely lost it. The quote was from Phillip Dutton who said as I was leaping through the air " I don't think he is coming back. Can I go? ". Back to the drawing board. I decided that it was the one day format the horse didn't like, it was too fast for his brain. You are done all 3 phases sometimes in 2 hours depending on how the divisions are organized. So we started to do only shows over 2 and 3 days and that seemed to work until they held me at the start box area because the judges weren't in place yet. @+(#@- ! So he got me off, got loose, got caught, ran cross country great and had a big leg sunday morning. @+)#@-! An ultrasound, 2 weeks at the fair hill therapy center, another ultrasound, months of hand walking and grazing, months of trotting and only flat work.

355 days from the "suspicious leg" we are doing a little cross country school the other day. I am having the time of my life THE BIG HORSE is back!!!!!! We jump 5 training level fences in a row ( so easy for an intermediate horse) then a prelim corner!!! Take a little breather, talk about how great he's being and off to the water! The training house in, around the corner ( the smile on my face just getting bigger!). A prelim house one stride into the water and in super slow motion he goes all the way down (and down goes Warrington as well). As I get to my feet watching him shake the water from the tack trotting away. I look for a hole (because of course my horse wouldn't just fall) hole! What could it be??? The 'in' was perfect, the 'down' was great, what happened!!! I am very self critical..... but I think the horse just fell. Like sometimes you just trip or stumble.

I feel like I have done everything right by the horse, by his owners and now we need LUCK! Mr. Jimmy Wofford talks about the fifth leg...... maybe luck is the sixth. Good luck to everyone!

Photo by Katherine Rizzo

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Luhmuhlen Wrap-Up by Kelley Merette

Jet lag strikes again! I just boarded the train I’m taking from New York down to Wilmington, where Jennie will pick me up and take me back to True Prospect. Ping and I landed at JFK last night and he traveled very well and is safely to Newburg for the next couple days, as is standard US entry quarantine procedures. There were so many fun, interesting, and positive parts of our trip but it’s always nice to be back home, and I’m definitely ready to see my dog and sleep where no one is yelling in German! The weekend definitely didn’t finish as planned for Team Cambalda (as Nina dubbed our group) but I think that there are also a lot of positives to take away from this trip (not least that Ping seems to be getting a little better about air travel!).

First of all, props to Will and his two lovely horses for stellar performances this weekend, they did the US proud and both of those horses have yet to show us their full potential. What an exciting thing for him heading into 2012! I’m so proud of Jennie and Ping’s performance on Friday in the dressage, scoring so well in their first 4 star is really commendable, especially considering the electric atmosphere and the fact that part of the dressage arena blew over while she was circling the ring waiting for the bell – thank goodness it didn’t happen 30 seconds later when she was in the middle of her test! Friday night, we learned that European eventers put the Americans to shame when it comes to evening festivities – I never realized Clayton was such a good singer!

Jennie seemed to be in an excellent state of mind going into the cross country on Saturday – focused and confident that she and Ping were ready to tackle the course. Again, it was a cool, blustery day with periods of rain showers (the whole second part of our trip felt like English weather!) We were in good spirits from Will’s great ride with Missy (Andromaque) in the morning, so as Jennie’s start time approached I booted up Ping and checked his girth one more time and Jennie donned her helmet with Boyd’s helmet cover, a tribute to our family at home and the horses lost in the fire. Once Jennie was out of the start box, Lillian and I booked it over to the sunken road combination where we saw the second stop at the C element, then ran to the third water combination before heading back to the finish area where we heard of the third run-out. Let me make a point of this now, so there will not be an misunderstanding, conjecture, or speculation – Jennie rode like a champion, and gave Ping an extremely positive ride. He showed his youth and inexperience out on course, but the lessons to be taken from that ride have been well-learned. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the pair, they don’t make the same mistakes twice, and you can bet that the next time they come out, they will be twice as prepared and three times as tenacious. There should be no doubt that this pair is still destined for great success at the international level in the future.

From my perspective, obviously the most important thing is that the two of them return to the stable safe and sound, and that was thankfully true. Ping came home acting ready to go right back out there. It was also so eye-opening to be a part of the eventing scene outside of the USA. How strange to know hardly anyone at a competition, but so interesting to watch many of the top horse and rider combinations in the world. The level of rider skill and talent of the horses is incredible, and we definitely didn’t leave the event without making many new friends. Everyone we met, from riders, grooms, and event staff was so welcoming and gracious to us. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this experience, and hope I will get to someday return to Luhmuhlen, as it is a fantastic venue and should definitely remain one of the best courses in the world.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Official Day at Luhmuhlen by Kelley Merette

Good Evening America!

We have successfully completed our first official day of the 2011 Luhmuhlen Horse Trial. Since I last updated all my readers (and well done, all of you who have chosen to read my blog instead of Nat's, EXCELLENT decision……just kidding, the "blog wars" are all in good fun, and as Tim Gardner, Cambalda's owner, stated tonight, they are both equally informative and well-done, in different ways) we have settled ourselves into our home at the show grounds and the horses are all very happy. We elected to stay at the barn we had been living at up the road until Tuesday morning instead of Monday, as it was quiet (even despite the reining competition), and the stalls were large and we had ample privacy. Anyways, Tuesday morning, I drove our car over to the show grounds with the lorry full of all of our equipment following me, and then Jennie, Tiana, Will, and Nat hacked the 4 horses over via some trails. Ping is an extremely workmanlike and consistent horse to ride, but hacking out is his one major dislike. Therefore, by the time the group made it to our new stabling venue, Ping was acting as if he was about to enter the start box for cross country, not returning from a "relaxing" stroll through the woods.

It took him a few hours to get settled, mentally and emotionally, but by the time we had ourselves organized and then Jennie had a lesson in the Main Arena with the Captain (one advantage of brand new footing, it needs to be broken in by being ridden on!) Ping had decided that he could get used to his view of the field from his back window, and his view of Missy (Andromaque) from his front window. It is important to note here for anyone concerned about the health of our animals in this foreign land, that 3 WHOLE bags of shaving were set up in the aisle to "quarantine" us from all the other competition horses……nope, don't worry, we have learned that this happens to be a completely foolproof way of preventing contamination between the American horses and everyone else. Thank goodness someone figured that out…..

Jennie and Cambalda's lessons with the Captain yesterday and today have gone extremely well. Ping has been very relaxed and yet focused, much the same as he looked before he put in such a good test at the Galway Downs (CA) CCI*** last November, so hopefully this is a good sign. Everyone has remained in good spirits (this trip will be remembered for those of us here as a big sing-off and dance-off, with Will's new obsession with Walt Disney's "Spectrum Song" and Nat's dance routine to "She Got a 'Donk" ranking most popular on the list -- stay tuned to Eventing Nation, videos of these performances are coming soon!) I found out this morning that European events have AMAZING breakfasts……coffee, tea, juice, pastries, meat, cheese, fruit, etc all complimentary to us. The competition is definitely starting to seem more imminent and exciting now, partially thanks to the arrivals of more of our contingent. Tim and Nina Gardner, the wonderful owners of Cambalda, arrived today after just spending the past weekend in Canada, where their William Penn put in a fantastic performance in the Bromont 3-star with our boss, Phillip Dutton, in the irons. Hopefully Ping will keep the successful streak going! Also, yesterday afternoon, our good friend Shannon Kingsley arrived, ready to jump in and help wherever needed, even if just to put Ping's tail bandage on some of the time so I'm not dodging the hind legs as often.

The jog didn't start until 5pm this afternoon, so there was plenty of time for the anticipation and excitement to build through the stables. I got him braided, beautified, and bridled in plenty of time to head down to the inspection, which was held right in front of the grandstand of the main arena (more than enough atmosphere!) Ping behaved himself very well even when things got a little electric and he and Jennie looked fantastic during their turn on the strip. A great start to the weekend, and hopefully a good sign for the next few days. Tomorrow will be the dressage for the CIC*** competition, which includes 2 of the 4 American horses, Will Faudree on Andromaque and Tiana Coudray on Ringwood Magister. It will be the final warm-up day for Jennie and Ping, as well as the arrival of the last member of our USA cheering squad, Lillian Heard. Cambalda will be doing his test Friday morning at 10:04 (4:04am EDT) so stay tuned! The photo is of me in our hotel room, wearing the new German glasses that Shannon picked up for me at the store today. These really helped me get my gameface on today, but I think I might have to draw little American flags to tape on the sides to complete the look. She also found Nat a lighter the size of an iPhone with a mini-flashlight on the bottom, so I think armed with our new gifts, there's nothing stopping us!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bromont Wrap Up by Nikki Lendl

The weekend was amazing! Kevin had the first double clear round of the two star and finished 6th! Phillip finished with multiple horses in the top ten and everyone was very happy with that. I have had the best time of my life being able to groom for Kevin and being able to help out Emma with Phillip's horses. It is not every day that people like myself get to do this and I am just so fortunate and grateful to Evie and Phillip for taking me on as a working student and asking me to come. My congratulations goes out to all of the riders that have come out to Bromont to compete. This was a really fantastic event in every way and the orgainzers do such a nice job at making everyone feel welcome.

Of course the weekend doesn’t just didn't end with the last show jump. I have to say something about the drive home! We made it to the border ok, but it took forever to fill out the paperwork and such. It seems a little ridiculous since they didn’t even check the horses or question us about why we were here! This time I drove back with the horses, Philliip his daughter Olivia. Olivia fell asleep after a short while, which left Phillip and myself feeling a little sleepy since our official keep awaker had gone to bed. I made it to about 2:15 am, when I started to see eight lanes in the road instead of only four! But I had to keep myself chugging along to help Phillip stay awake. So I kept on drinking soda and blasting music in our ears! We eventually made it back to True Prospect Farm at 4:30 am this morning. We unloaded the horses, got our clothes and the dogs into the car and drove to the house. It was 5:30 in the morning by the time we made it home and light outside. It's been 48 hours since I've slept and we have camp starting at 8;30 this morning at True Prospect Farm! I have enjoyed writing this blog so much and I hope to be able to write one again next year… possibley as a rider!

Final Day at Bromont by Lee Lee Jones

Yesterday was the final day of the Bromont CCI Three Day Event. I got to the barns fairly early this morning to braid and bathe Cadet. The jog was around 8:30 and everyone was going crazy in the barns getting ready. The jog went pretty well, it was my first jog ever. Cadet was a little fussy and kept throwing his head up in the air. After the jog I jumped on him and had a light jump school with Phillip. He felt pretty tired from the cross country yesterday but overall he was really good! Then I changed my tack pretty quickly and got ready for show jumping. I ended up having two rails in the show jumping but I was really happy with him. It turns out that there were only four clear rounds in the one star. But an interesting thing happened during my round, the back rail of the final oxer suddenly fell down without the jump judges realizing. So coming into the final line I noticed that the jump crew guy was standing in the middle of the oxer. I jumped A but then pulled out. I ended up having to wait for about a minute while the jump crew tried to get the rail up.

I spent most of my time during the two star helping in the warmup, but I was able to watch a few rounds. I saw Kevin Keane's beautiful round on Fernhill Flutter, who by the way ended on his dressage score! I also watched Phillip on Ben, Young Man, and Mighty Nice. Unfortunately I left before the three star got underway.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

XC At Bromont by Lee Lee Jones

Today was the cross country day at the Bromont CCI Three Day Event. My cross country ride didn't go quite as planned. Cadet and I had a "drive by" at 5b. Jump number four on the CCI 1* course was a hanging log on top of a hill and at the bottom of the hill were two narrow houses on a turn. I put Cadet nice and deep into #4 hoping I would be able to get him back nicely for 5 a&b but he sort of grabbed the bit and ran down the hill. Anyway I was able to get him back in time to get over 5a, but I wasn't able to make the turn to 5b. So we circled around and jumped it fine. The rest of the course went really well. We jumped just about everything right out of stride and he cooled out really quickly in the ten minute box. The rest of my day was spent icing and helping out with Phillip's horses. Overall today was a great day with only four falls on course. Tomorrow morning is the jog. Phillip has been making fun of me for putting too much work into my first jog outfit ever. I told him I couldn't help it. After all I have been waiting for this day since I was like six!

Photos: My horse Model Cadet and Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day Two at Bromont by Lee Lee Jones

Today was the second day of dressage here at Bromont and leading the CCI 3* is Clark Montgomery, who had a beautiful test. Today Cadet and I had a pretty easy day since we were not competing. When I got to the barns I took him out for some grass and then at around eleven I walked my course with Phillip. He gave me a lot of helpful advice. Then at around one I watched him go on his new horse William Penn owned by Nina Gardner, who by the way has become my second mother, making sure that I eat this weekend. Thank you Nina! Then after Phillip's test I had a bit of a jump school. Phillip and I jogged for a couple of minutes and gave our horses a quick sprint to get there legs moving. After that we popped over a few jumps. Cadet was feeling pretty fresh! He doesn't like the bit that I use on the cross country very much so he kept chucking his head up into the air and trying to take off with me, but by the end of the jump he was behaving himself. Towards the end of the day I walked around my course for the last time. I went by myself this time so that I could really concentrate on my plans for tomorrow, I can't wait. I am also very excited that Jennie Brannigan gave me her cross country shirt for tomorrow! Thank you Jennie (: Hopefully tomorrow will go as well as it did yesterday!

Guten Tag from Luhmuhlen by Kelley Merette

Just to make all you Entemann's eating Americans jealous, I'm sitting at the computer eating something called a schnitzelbomber from the local bakery, so if this blog ends abruptly, it's because I went into a sugar coma. Besides the stellar baked goods, we have also found some pretty amazing Chinese food (seems ironic, I know, but somehow that is better here as well), and have had our share of adventures with the local customs. Apparently it is NOT acceptable to check into a hotel at 10pm (not that we had much choice), and when Nat brought her 32-oz travel mug into the breakfast room in the morning to fill up, a very large man mildly reminiscent of Pavarotti (with a voice to match) starting yelling that that was not acceptable and that she would be charged extra for taking that much coffee. Clearly, he was the one in need of more caffeine.

Anyways, down to the nitty-gritty of the trip, which I'm sure very few of you actually care much about. We all arrived to the barn we will be at through Sunday in one piece, but we calculated out that the poor horses were on some sort of mobile equipment for 24 hours straight! After we kissed their noses goodbye at the JFK Vetport (in reality, Ping just gave me a really good nip on the forearm), we took ourselves to the human terminal and got a little duty-free shopping in before taking off. Ping does not enjoy airplane travel, and has to travel in a double sized stall so that he can brace his legs. He still tries to body-slam the walls during take-off and landing, but he was a pretty good boy overall. Once we landed in Amsterdam, we met the horses at their livestock cargo bay where we quickly found out that we were far from the top priority that day. Thousands of day-old chicks in cardboard boxes were being loaded up for export to the Phillippines, some strange looking pigeons were headed out on another truck, and probably the largest English bulldog I've ever seen (aptly named dog) was on a journey somewhere as well. Once we finally got the four horses loaded onto our lorry, we still had the final 7 hour leg of our trip in front of us. Undeterred by a flat tire on the equipment trailer and stand-still traffic on the Audubon near Hamburg, our fearless driver delivered us to the tiny town of Luhmuhlen after 8pm, our home for the next two weeks. Thankfully, all four horses are healthy, happy, and even acted a little fresh today during their hacks after a well-deserved day of rest yesterday.

We have filled our time so far with LOTS of hand-grazing, and for Ping this includes lots of rolling in the grass at the end of the lead rope (pony clubbers, don't try this at home!) as well as shopping at the conveniently located tack shops (one is literally 100 yards from our barn and another is 150). These "reitsport" shops are not comparable to any found in the US, at least that I've seen. They have the look and feel of a musty antique store, with every nook and cranny being stuffed with goods. Around every bend and down every hallway is another hidden wing of the store. However, there is nothing sub-par about the goods. When Jennie went in there for the first time this morning, she was actually speechless (for those of you who don't know her, this is a rarity). The Pikeur clothing and Sergio Grasso boots line the walls like bulk food in a Sam's Club. It is ridiculous. And after the ladies at the store realized we were in town for the competition, they handed Will and Jennie thin, hard-cover picture books…….from the 1982 World Championships that took place there. These books are fascinating and gave us a little glimpse into the past of some of the legends of our sport. And since Nat thinks she has the one up on me in the picture department of this blog war, I'm throwing in a curveball. Who can identify the two people in these pictures, taken during that competition:

Time to go feed Ping his dinner!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A First CCI* by Lee Lee Jones

Hi my name is Lee Lee Jones and this weekend I am riding my horse, Model Cadet in the CCI1* at Bromont! Last night my Mom, my two sisters and I had a very interesting trip up. We some how ended up on some pretty sketchy back roads in Canada, but anyway we made it! We arrived fashionably late because I had to finish up my last exam in school back in PA. Today went really well! I did some light flat on him this morning and then we got ready to do our first one star ever. Cadet was pretty naughty in the warmup; he kept throwing his head up in the air, but Phillip helped me work through it. Once we got down into the main warmup arena he started going really well. Overall the test went really well. Our trot work was definitely better than our canter work. We scored a 53.7 and we are tied for 10th. I was really happy with him considering how big the division is. Later in the day I walked around the course for the first time. It looks pretty big, but I can't wait!!

Bromont Dressage Day 1 by Nikki Lendl

Today was the first day of dressage at Bromont and it went great! All the CCI1* and CCI2* horses competed. Kevin’s horse, Fernhill Flutter (Butterfly), was really good and Kevin was very pleased with the result of his test. Phillip had some excellent tests as well. Mighty Nice, whose barn name is Happy, scored a 49.5 putting them in third and Ben scored a 50.3 putting them in fourth in the CCI2*. While standing by the dressage rings waiting for Kevin to come out, I thought about how cool it was to be able to stand here as a groom and wait for my rider to come out. Kevin dismounted and patted Butterfly, clearly thrilled with his test. We walked back to the barn and I undid Butterfly’s braids - I was sorry to see my braids go because they were the nicest braids I have ever done! I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to come to Bromont and be able to work for the people that I do. The work can be hard and the hours can be long, but at the end of the day you are doing what you love and nothing is better than that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bromont Adventures by Nikki Lendl

Bromont… WOW! Whenever I thought about going to Bromont I never believed that I would be lucky enough to actually go and watch, let alone be able to groom for someone who is competing here.

About a week and a half ago I came to True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania to help Evie and Phillip Dutton and their amazing crew. When Evie asked me if I would like to come to Bromont to groom for Dr. Kevin Keane and help Emma out with the rest of the horses, I don’t think that I could have said yes any faster - I was so excited to go! I have always heard amazing things about Bromont from friends and my sister who have competed here and I have always wanted to go. Although this past week has been tough for everyone at True Prospect Farm we are all very excited to come to Bromont and be able to do what we all do best.

The trip up started out normal, but as with any trip there are a few unplanned adventures along the way. Right before we pulled out of the farm at 4:30am on Tuesday morning, I realized that I had forgotten my passport at the house. I expected to get a real dressing down from Phillip, but he kept his cool and asked Emma to take me to get my passport. We set off, but when I jumped out of the RV to run up the driveway I landed in a water filled ditch and face-planted into the ground! Trying to make it seem graceful was hard since my shirt got wet. We finally got on the road with a ten-hour drive ahead of us. Our caravan headed to Bromont consisted of Emma and myself in the RV. Phillip driving the big rig, Amy Ruth Borun driving another trailer of horses and Dr. Keane bringing up the rear with a rig filled with straw for bedding, hay, feed and tack.

At the Canadian border Emma and I got into a bit of trouble. The immigration officer was a little suspicious about me traveling to Canada without a parent. She asked me if I had a note from either one of my parents saying that I had permission to go “camping” in Bromont with Emma. No note meant that we had to go inside to verify that I was not being kidnapped. At that point I just though to myself, “Well great! My one shot to go and groom at Bromont and there it goes right out the window!” Of course, my mom was on the way up to Bromont too and phone service is pretty shaky in the mountains. When they couldn’t reach my parents the immigration officer decided that since I wasn’t kicking and screaming, Emma probably wasn’t kidnapping me so we were ok to go! The highlight of the day was seeing the big Bromont sign on the top of the hill and the amazing cross-country course right there in front of me.

Today was the first horse inspection. We have spent the whole day preparing our horses for the jog up and it really did it pay off. All of our horses passed the jog and none were held! I started to get a little emotional; as I was just so happy that everyone could go on and compete. I never realized how hard it is to get three horses ready to jog up back to back. Everyone makes it seem to graceful and easy. To be truthful it is pretty hard coordinating the hand offs and pick ups and making sure that each horse gets there final prep all at the same time. It definitely can be a bit crazy when presenting multiple horses. There is a very large field of competitors at Bromont and everyone is looking forward to the start of dressage tomorrow.

Nikki Lendl

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First Blog by Kelley Merette

Kelley in the barns at the Kentucky Horse Park.

 I'm sitting here in the quarantine barn at JFK waiting to get on a flight with Cambalda ("Ping") bound for Germany, and thinking about how much life has changed in the past week. It almost seems impossible that only a week has passed since the fire, in many ways it feels like an eternity. However, finally beginning this trip has already had a positive effect on me. A change in scenery, spending time with my friends Nat, Tiana, and Will, and the upcoming two weeks in Europe with Ping and Jennie has renewed my energy. As long as I can avoid being contaminated with e.coli this trip is going to be fantastic!
I will be blogging about our adventures in Germany but I do want to send out a quick thank you to our eventing family in the US and abroad. I have realized in this past week how amazingly unique our sport is, because very few industries can call themselves a community, and even fewer can call themselves a family. However, that is exactly what the eventing world has proven itself to be this week. I am so grateful to be a part of our sport, and please know that the support from each and every person, no matter what it consisted of, was what got us through these days. You all are amazing. 
On a brighter note, Ping is looking cool as a cucumber, he has his gameface on, he is maybe slightly rounder than a 4* bound horse should be but he is happy as a clam, which is all I care about....... I hope we can stay on task because Nat and I have already begun the blogging wars, and the warnings about the veggies in Germany don't leave many dietary options besides beer. Oh well, sacrifices must be made...... 
This will have to be the end of must first blog as we will be loading the horses in about half an hour onto the trailer to take us to the plane, and it might take me that long to get Ping's shipping halter onto his head. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Look Back at Rolex by James Alliston

The big news over the last month was our trip to Kentucky. We arrived in Kentucky on Friday night the week before the event and stayed at Tanya Davis’s beautiful farm in Midway. From here it was a short commute to the Horse Park on Tuesday when the stables were open. It was my first time at the Horse Park and was amazed at the incredible facilities they have there. All the arenas have beautiful footing that I’m sure cost a fortune and it was really cool to ride in the main arena with the big grandstand.

I was delighted with Parker and Jumbo’s Jake in their four star debuts. Parker’s dressage was less than spectacular and I ended up second last. The cross-country proved influential though and I was elated with his fast clear that lifted us up the standings. He was very brave and galloped on very strongly right to the end giving me a dream ride. In the show-jumping he started his round very nicely but had a couple of uncharacteristic cheap rails at the end to end up 14th. He is just nine years old so I hope we can tidy up the dressage and he can be a great four star horse for years to come.

Jumbo’s Jake started with a beautiful dressage that left him in 5th place. This was pretty cool as I was riding on Friday afternoon with a packed crowd so it was nice to do well. On the cross-country Jake was galloping and jumping really well but got a little weary by the end. Unfortunately we had a stop at the rails jumping back into the water the last time which I was a little gutted about as he went so well otherwise. I hope next time if I have him a little fitter it will be a different story but overall I was delighted with him and felt like he really tried his heart out, even when tired at the end. Jake bounced back the next day and finished his weekend with a lovely clear show-jumping and 17th place.

Overall, it was a great week with a lot of family and friends making the trip to help out and cheer. This made for a really fun time and hopefully we can keep coming back in future years. A big thank-you to Jumbo’s Jake’s owner India McEvoy for letting me ride such a splendid animal and also Chuck and Peggy Moore, owners of Graceland Equestrian center, for their ongoing generosity and support.

Next on the calendar back in California is Woodside in a week or so. This is a great local event for us so we will be taking a lot of horses and students and should be a lot of fun.