Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Transplanted Aussie - Kadi Eykamp

Hello! I'm Kadi Eykamp and this is my first blog for PRO so here is a short and sweet intro. I’m based in Dallas Fort Worth in Texas since October 2010. Before that I was in New Jersey but Australia is were I was born and bred. Right now I’m in Ocala for the winter shows with both mine and clients horses. 

The big goal this year is to run at Rolex with Double Rivers Dillon. Dillon is a 10 year old TB that I’ve had for 2 years. We have just been put on the Shadow list for London so I’m very proud of this horse. He was training level when I got him so is still very new to the advanced level. For me I would describe him as a classic thoroughbred. A type that would be at home in the old long format, but is looking very capable of the modern sport!

I just watched the dvd ‘Riding for America’ the other night- it covers the 1982 Rolex. Man-O-Man!! In this super video the cross country is true grit!  Remembering the fitness and cross country jumps from the old format reminds me of the enormity of work and training that went into producing horses and ultimately producing horsemen and woman in the process was unavoidable.

I remember preparing for my first 3DE in Queensland Australia in 1985. I got up from my four girl dormitory to start  my trot work by 6 AM and went for 6 kilometers on my horse every morning, required in my 13 week schedule, before breakfast at 7:40 AM and classes at 8:20 AM.  I would get to go out on unpaved roads outside the school grounds, which was very much against the usual rules of my school as we weren’t allowed out alone. Anyway, I remember one morning I went a slightly longer way but took a wrong turn and ended up trotting 12 kilometers, and thought I’d be in huge trouble and possibly suspended for not being at breakfast. To my amazement my absence wasn’t noticed as it was exam time tabling instead of normal classes and I had none that morning. 

My horse was perfectly fit for his first 3DE and we finished 5th.  What I remember about the long format was the seriousness and considerable time it took to reach this fitness. Having not run at 4 star level since 2005, I guess my biggest worry is making sure Dillon is fit enough!   I hope everyone’s Rolex fitness is coming together as planned.

Cheers Kadi

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Transatlantic Traveller Joe Meyer

Hi everyone. Welcome to my first blog for 2012. I'm writing from the back seat of a US Airways flight to Gatwick England. I have the worst seat in the world and am next to some old grey bearded bloke who resembles a monkey. He's also a good advertisement for the reasons to wear sunscreen!  I'm on my way to Barcelona to see 2 of the 3 most important girls in my life. Lexi 3 1/2 and Vivi  1 1/2.  Number 3 Ruthie (not in any order)  has been left at home in Ocala to hold the fort while I am away. 

I landed in Charlotte this evening to the news that an old injury has been identified on Snip. He is not lame and gallops around his paddock daily, came through Rocking Horse advanced perfectly. I wanted to do a couple of events for his retirement. He has showed me every sign that he is in amazing shape. It looks like he will be fine to continue competing at some lower level stuff but that is not what he or I really enjoy....  It tears my heart out  as I am just not  used to not having him at the events. He has given me huge miles and confidence. We have been through everything together. Countries includinng New Zealand,England,Scotland,Ireland,France ,Portugal ,Germany,Belgium,Sweden,Holland,Hong Kong and our new home the USA, the WEG in Aachen,  Beijing Olympics and many Badmintons to name just a few. I credit the majority of my sponsors to him and my Badminton Armada trophy to him. We have had more good times than bad times even though I didn't always see it like that. After numerous 3 stars and  8 CCI**** I feel fortunate to retire him from top level competition at 20 years old sound and still winning prizes. If you have had a relationship with a horse like I have with Snip over 20+ years you are a lucky person. 

Touch down in England. Short flight,tail wind and monkey man has not died of skin cancer. Off to Churchill Stud for bag change. A quick trip to Pippa Funnels to view a horse for clients and then back to the airport and off to Barca.

Back in the real world of hustling and bustling Ocala (can't say how much I love the lack of traffic) things have been pretty busy over the winter so far. We are the proud new owners of Starfinder farm in The Meadowlands. It's a beautiful spot. The only noisy neighbor being John Travolta when he takes off in his oversized jet. There was plenty of work to do but it's now very livable and horses, people and dogs are all very relaxed. Our neighbors across the road have a fully equipped jump field that has been kindly lent to us.  Also generously lent by Nora Macdonald Yaney  is a fully functional Grand Prix jumper called Topliner. Toppy and I have got to know each other in the level 6 classes at HITS. I hope to move to level 7 when I get back and then some GPs.  Look out Doug Paine. I have not jumped in the big ring for a while and it really does do your confidence a world of good. 

We have competed at the Ocala horse park and Rocking Horse so far this season. The young horses have gone well. Classic Imp who is in for sale placed 2nd in prelim at the horse park. I will not be upset if he is not sold as I feel plenty of prizes coming his way. Tulip ( niece of Snip) had a nice first run at the horse park and promptly had skinny meltdown next time out at Rocking Horse at one of those skinny fences that if you have a problem at its hard to get another shot at. Something to think about at these lower levels? She schooled brilliantly at Kyle and Jen Carter's the following day so fingers crossed I might have ironed that one out. Snip as I mentioned had a nice little run at Rocking horse Advanced for 5th place. He wasn't really trying. It was just very nice to have an experienced horse to sit on. 
 Joe and Topliner at HITS:

We plan to go back to Rocking Horse in two weeks time with the young horses including some first timers owned Karen Bell and George de Benedicty of American Eagle farm. Following that Red Hills. I am really looking forward to Red Hills. I have heard it is a fabulous event. Although sadly Snip won't make it we will have a competitive bunch of Prelim horses. 

Ocala really is a fantastic place. Right smack in the middle of horse country to live, work,  compete and sell horses is just the way I like it. I do feel for our fellow competitors in Aiken.  Well .....not really and to all of you in Florida I hope you are enjoying the warm winter sun as much as me!  Florida has masses of attractions for everyone and if you are looking for wildlife you don't have to go far past The Beach Bar close to HITS. There is plenty there.  Marked carefully with a black X on their hands they congregate at night to this local watering hole.  Call me old fashioned but I thought the drinking age was 21? We were promised a good time and fast service. A good time we had but getting to the bar was like hacking through the jungle and once there one did not know if the the story was Tarzan or Jane. Thanks The Beach we will be back but please do something about more loos!!! 

It would not be a blog without a plug for the sponsors. I will work my way through them during the the year. Very sadly the first to mention is Kesmarc. The tragedy there recently shocked us all. Kesmarc is a fantastic equine therapy facility that we all used regularly. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to our friends there. Also the friends and family of Erica Marshall and the connections of Landmark’s Legendary Affaire. We hope Kesmarc will be back up on its feet soon. 
We have been working closely with Voltaire design. This new Saddle company is not into gimmicks but a more stylish design and quality to last. The happiest of all is my bottom after riding in my new dressage saddle! 

Speaking of gimmicks I am fascinated over the new craze of the helmet cam and have seen a few rounds on you tube lately. The footage from a helmet cam is fantastic for entertainment and self promotion but is very limited in value as a training aid. The view from the helmet cam and the view from the ground watching can tell two very different stories. Mark Todd never wears a helmet cam. 

Churchill stud is in good shape, but England is as grey and miserable as ever and it's almost time to head to Spain. I have a good friend Albert who trains eventers just outside of Barcelona. I plan to visit him to see what he has for sale for some clients back home. Barcelona is a bit off the beaten track as far as Euro eventing is concerned so with any luck his horses have not been picked through. My good friend Brazilian rider Ruy Fonseca is threatening to swing by on his way to Lisbon Barocca D'lva CIC to visit his god daughter Vivi. I will believe it when I see it (said with smile on face). 

I have enjoyed writing this and hope you all enjoy reading it. You can follow on twitter and Facebook if you enjoy the ramblings. Until next month. 

Hasta luego baby 

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Am A Travelin' Girl by Cat Hill

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a blog for PRO as a freelance groom in an Olympic year. I said sure, why not, thinking simply that I wrote a lot of long papers in college. There were 2 very important things I overlooked when I said sure. First, that I did not graduate yesterday (where HAS the time gone?), and second that I largely wrote history papers, not exactly interesting works that people read for enjoyment. I was told not to worry, just introduce myself in the first one. So I begin with an apology. Stick with me, maybe I’ll get better as we go!

            If you have been to an event on the East Coast that hosts Advanced, you probably know who I am. Not because I am myself remarkable; simply that I am the girl constantly whistling for her two giant hound dogs that seem to be permanently misplaced. My name is Cat Hill. I worked as Mara Depuy’s groom for several years, and in the past few years have freelanced from my hometown in the Finger Lakes region of New York. (Yes, near where Courageous Comet came from).  Last year, I meant to slow down, travel less so that I could focus on my own horse, as well as on the small lesson program I run. Somehow that turned into a year where the longest consecutive period of time I was home from Jan 1st to Dec 1st was 21 days. I started with Aiken and ended with the Pan Ams and Galway. So this year I decided that really, I would plan my life to be home a little more. I decided not to spend the winter in Aiken but “simply” to go down for the big shows. Well, as it turns out there’s a lot of shows happening in Aiken. I swear there are more now that I am 13.5 hours away than when I lived on Williamsburg St.!

            Here has been my slow year so far - January 13th to 27th in Aiken to work for the one and only Dr. Keane. February 6th drive spoiled-rotten-terrible-horse down and back to Virginia for his signature Crockers (meanwhile I’m wearing holey, falling apart Dansko’s, but I digress) February 8th drive to Aiken for little Pine Top with Jan Byyny and her fantastic team of ponies.  February 13th drive home. While home, I ride clients’ horses, teach lessons, try to run enough to pretend I will be fit enough to race this spring, and with the leftover time attempt to cook my way back into the good graces of my wonderful husband. Driving to South Carolina seemed so much better than flying when I looked at this plan on paper. Flying means lay-overs and limited bag space (how do I bring my black effol and coat-shiny-stuff not to mention braiding supplies?). Driving means I have my own car (grooms night at Maria’s for Margarita’s anyone?) and most importantly, I can bring at least one ridiculous hound dog.

            So here I am, getting ready to make that 13.5 hour down and back trip. Instead of dreading it, I am excited about seeing all the ponies start gearing up. I love the transition from winter-work to fired up 3 day work. I love getting to know my new charges, find out their quirks, help them navigate the pot holes that appear on every road to a 3-day. I’m looking forward to seeing all my old charges, watching some of them toodling around with working students or amateurs to teach, while others are all-systems go to Kentucky. I’m hoping that the traveling craziness earns a few international trips, maybe a chance to don some Nike gear again. The traveling coonhound and I will check in every few weeks or so, hopefully with lots of good news and great successes as we ramp up for the big stuff!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meet Molly Rosin: A Mighty Ball of Energy

Hello PRO readers! I’m excited to get to share some stories about my horses and my program with you guys in some up-coming PRO blog’s.

My name is Molly Rosin and I run Havarah Equestrian.  “Different” name I know! I started this equestrian business many years ago when I was managing one farm but traveling back home to teach lessons and giving clinics at various facilities.  My students have always been an important part of my life- they are all very special people then and now.  Through brain storming with a great friend of mine, Jennie Blake, we came up with the name Havarah – a Yiddish word meaning family.  It made so much sense – my clients have always been like family, I love it that way and intend to keep it that way!

Currently Havarah Equestrian trains out of a farm in Kirkwood, PA –April though January and then we head to Aiken, SC for February and March.  The Hulmes own our main farm, Principia Stables (meaning “new beginnings”) - The Hulmes are originally from England and the atmosphere in Kirkwood reminded them of home, it just all fell into place so well.

Many of you may know me best by my most famous horse - Havarah’s Charly. This horse was absolutely amazing-probably one of the most talented horses around.  Charly has a personality all of his own and was a true competitor - he LOVED shows. Charly took me through the 3 star level and will always have a home with me.  I’d like to let Charly find himself a temporary job as a dressage horse so he can go shine for a few more years, but I have officially retired him from eventing.

This last year has been all about developing- I’ve had a few very cool horses find me and together we have made some great progress in a short amount of time.  My current competition list includes - Sarbrina, aka Wonder Woman, Puttin on the Ritz aka Benny, Rivan and The Diesel Boy aka Baby Leto.  Sabrina is heading towards some 2 stars this year while Benny and Rivan will get more solid at the Preliminary level with possible move ups later on in the year. Leto will be heading towards the 5 year old YEH classes as well as some training level events.

Sabrina (Top) Rivan (Middle) and Puttin On The Ritz (Bottom)

Besides getting to compete and train the above horses me and my girls stay very busy. I’m a matchmaker at heart and so lately I’ve taken great pride in helping good horses find good riders. It’s been a highlight of my business.  I would never call myself a horse trader - I’m far too picky about ensuring the horses go to just the right people.  After all these horses become part of my family while they are with us! I’m super excited about all the up-coming events that I’ll be riding and coaching at.  If you see me or any of my Havarah riders please come say hi!  Please watch for up-coming blogs about myself and the  Havarah Equestrian crew!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Martin Collins: Synthetic Surface Pioneer

Approximately 30 years ago, synthetic surface pioneer, Martin Collins decided to build his own arena at home in the UK, to service his livery yard and privately owned show jumpers.  From the available sand, sand and woodchip, dirt or straight woodchip, he branched away and added some plastics into silica sand.  What he got was a surface which held up better in the winter, with the plastic granules giving some resilience to the colder weather and a footing with better ‘cushion’ which alleviated the ‘deadness’ of a straight sand surface.

This was just the beginning …..

Given Martin’s ever enquiring mind and determination to further perfect a surface to mimic good going turf, we saw the emergence of alternative components to add to sand. 

MC Polytrack®, another Collins invention, was introduced some 25 years ago and there is no doubt that it was the ‘trailblazer’ of the modern day synthetic surfaces.  MC Polytrack® answered the prayers for a footing which was more sympathetic to the limbs of the horse, allowed them to work to the maximum of their ability with the least amount of stress and strain.

It was easier to maintain, did not require watering – a godsend to the busy yard where time is money – had greater climatic tolerance and was suitable for the whole equestrian industry, from dressage through to thoroughbred racing.

All this was thanks to a manufacturing process which took a number of components and blended them by weight with the addition of a wax coating.  Sounds easy doesn’t it and I suppose one can liken it to a grandmother’s favourite recipe; we can all try to make it, however it doesn’t mean it will taste the same!

Whilst Martin was ‘inventing’, the equestrian industry in the UK was awakening to the dawn of a new era.  The thoroughbred, who had been the stalwart and figured heavily in most equestrian disciplines, either in its pure bred state or native pony cross breed, was slowly being overtaken by the introduction of the Warm blood. 

The popularity of the Warm blood has led to competition horses becoming much more expensive to purchase and maintain.  Their work in whatever discipline has become much more demanding, and the name of the game is to ensure the soundness of these horses during their long competition lives.

In particular, the growing awareness of muscular and skeletal damage that can occur when horses and ponies are worked on inconsistent, unsympathetic or poorly maintained surfaces which is now more widely reported in the media.  Investing in a good surface will also assist in reducing veterinary bills.

A synthetic surface these days is not therefore, merely required to offer somewhere to school when the grass gets too dry or wet.  The parameters have changed enormously and present day surfaces have to accommodate the changes in the equestrian society . They also have to conform to environmental rulings, be safe, durable and consistent.  Martin Collins products now offered in the USA;  MC Ecotrack® and  CLOPF® fiber  answer these requirements.

Our CLOPF® fiber (a key ingredient in MC Ecotrack®) is manufactured at our own factory in Europe and shipped to the US .   The fiber originates from the carpet industry but we stress that it is pre-consumer and not post consumer (used material which could harbor toxins and materials that may rot once put on the ground).  The material then goes through a 3 point manufacturing process before it is baled and shipped.  CLOPF®  has an EU (European Standard) environmental stamp of approval and is deemed a secondary raw material, NOT as waste material.

The above is important to mention as we are all becoming much more knowledgeable with the advancement of technology and this applies to a myriad of topics and information is readily available on the internet. 

At Martin Collins, we believe that education is the key and should be the main focus to promote safe, durable, consistent surfaces on which to train and compete horses.   We are therefore proud of our partnership with The Professional Riders Organisation and look forward to a long working relationship with both PRO and its members.

Photo Credit: Phillip Dutton by Amy Dragoo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Transition from Young Rider to Professional by Lauren Lambert

August 2011, a turning point- I rang up my boss on the way to an event and told him it was time for me to make my way home and get back into eventing full force.  I was done being a working student, it was time for me to go my own way.

The previous year, as I was grinding away at the show jumping in Derek and Gwen Braun's pristine arena in Lexington, getting Baba Creek ready for the Young Riders Championship, he asked me for a third time what I did in the winter.  He finally got to the point and asked if I would be willing to take a riding/working student position with them in Wellington for the winter.  They would be leaving the end of November.  I told him I would think about it, and asked him to email details.

Well, Young Riders came, and going into show jumping in 1st and finishing in 6th pushed me over the edge-I replied to the email as soon as I was back to the barns and told Derek I would take the position.  I did my time as a young rider, working for many great top professionals in eventing, and ten months in a show barn.  Being in Wellington, I was quite isolated from the eventing world, (besides discovering Marcia Kulak at the opposite end of my street!), but it couldn't have come at a better time- the year I would transition from young rider to an adult.   I was in a different world, having a the chance to polish my riding and improve my weakest links.  Watching the best every day at WEF on all types of horse flesh, walking courses, riding all types of warmbloods everyday; learning how the best ride a show jumping track.  Thinking back, Kent Farrington is probably the rider I learned the most from by simply observing the way he operates. He has a plan, he goes into that arena with such focus he nearly looks possessed, and he executes his plan to a T.  I wouldn't trade my experiences working in a hunter/ jumper barn for anything, but quite frankly, it only made me love and appreciate eventing all the more.  Eventers may be a bit rough around the edges, but it's so awe-inspiring to see the relationship event riders have with their horses, they are more than just a commodity to us, they are our partners and our comrades.

September 1st of 2011, I returned to my family farm in the beautiful Goshen, KY to begin planning a big winter in business with Mother Martha.  It is finally time for me to step away from the working student roll, and begin to fill the shoes of 'professional rider'.  We arrived in Ocala December 31st.  I have five amazing horses to compete this winter, and staying true to my roots, all five are Kentucky bred Thoroughbreds which Mom, or I, have developed from scrappy race horses to eventing machines!  There's Sally Abell's Honour Mission, who's tricky on the flat and one freak of a good jumper- this horse has all the talent and scope I could ask for in a Thoroughbred.  Then there's Fine With Me, affectionately known as Frank, who belongs to my Aunt, Margie Darling.  Margie rode Frank with Buck in a clinic last fall, and if Buck told me once, he told me a million times to be very nice to my Aunt Margie.... Love you Auntie!!  I have a redhead named Lil' Birnie,  whom Mom found in a field in Lexington over the summer.  When I returned home in September and sat on the horse, I informed her we wouldn't be selling him any time soon, as he has some serious raw talent and is one good looking beast.  Then there's the snarky little Opera Ghost, who came from my good friend and amazing horsewoman, Ann Banks, as a three year old.   He is finally 6 and ready to play like a big boy.  This little thing is so much fun!  He won the Blue and a lovely exotic African bull's foot trophy at the inaugural Longwood Horse Trials (seriously great show!).  And finally, the cross-country maniac, Baba Creek (Miles), had a minor injury last fall.  He's down here getting back into the swing. This horse is such a ball of nerves he's really a nightmare to get going every year, but that's Miles.  We've been together since I was 15, and a horse that takes a young rider around three CCI ***'s without a single xc penalty (and always very quick), all I can do is accept and love him for who he is.  This horse owes me nothing, he has given me a taste of the big time, and has kept me safe through it all.  I'll have him back in action this spring, and we'll see what he wants to do- it's quite likely he will just want to run and jump.  Perhaps I'll be able to coax him into doing the other two ' things'  respectfully.

So, I'm feeling pretty lucky to be down here in sunny Florida with horses I love, and involved with the people who love these horses.  Walking back to the trailer after the first competition of the year, a friendly stranger informed me how happy I looked.  I replied 'I am happy, I am in the sunshine riding and competing these amazing horses, and it's my job!'.  Even when things get rough, it's the horses that keep us going, and the drive to be better riders and horsemen which keeps us coming back day after day.  

I am excited and honored to be doing this blog through the Profressional Riders Organization, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more throughout the year!

Photo credit: Allie Conrad

Friday, February 3, 2012

Go East Young Women! by Whitney Weston

When attending school in Philadelphia and working with Phillip and Boyd, I remember Phillip asking, "Is there eventing out there in Oregon?" Why yes, yes there is! But a very different sort, attitude, and culture than on the east coast. I am asked all the time which I prefer, east or west coast, and the answer is: "I love Eventing, no matter what coast I'm on", but it certainly is a different ball game played by the same rules 3,000 miles apart.

For a bit of history on myself:
I was born in Philadelphia. Then my family moved to Oregon, where I grew up on a farm, competing up and down the west coast. I returned east to attend Bryn Mawr College, and had the opportunity to be a working student and rider all over the east coast and even represent the USA on a catch ride team in Switzerland. With my new found knowledge of the business, I returned home and have been running a training, lesson, and competition facility at Westwood Stables in Oregon. I have spent the last five years bringing along prospects, teaching, clinicing, and generally running around Oregon, Washington, and Cali.

An opportunity came up to travel to Ocala to train with Buck Davidson. I haven't been able to focus soley on my own riding for a while, am planning to move to advance with my fabulous mare, Rock-On Rose, so no better time then the present! I sold my sale horses, found other homes for my students and working students, packed up and made the trek out east in early January.

So far this move has been magical (all besides the actual drive across the country). I am learning like never before and really able to focus on my craft with Buck on his beautiful 600 acre farm here in Ocala, FL. We just completed Rocking Horse Trials in Altoona FL this past weekend. I had a blast getting to know a new event, and had some interesting observations:

1. Hauling in vs. overnight stay
On the west coast, events are very spread out. I don't usually bat an eye at having to drive 6-12 hrs to get to an event. We get there several days early so the horses can rest, set up our stable area, and get a feel of the show grounds. This has a very methodical and routine feel to it, much like a marathon. All this compared to the "sprint" on the east coast, where there are several shows within a few hours of our stable. It is much more convenient and economical to haul in and out each day. The haul-in situation felt very hectic at first; driving in the dark for early rides, horses having to be loaded and unloaded several times throughout the day to access a specific horse, and quick tack changes. When I win the lottery I will be buying a straight load trailer, a "must-have" for easy pony access!

2. One discipline per day?
Back home, we all know that friday is dressage day, saturday is for cross-country, and sunday finishes with show jumping. Not so in Ocala! Having dressage, show jumping, and cross country on different horses in a single day forced me to adapt to this quicker paced schedule, which actually helped me relax and just....ride! 

3. East coast vs. West coast people
What I am about to say will surprise all you west-coasters: I found the show environment out here to be very....relaxed! Despite the saturation of legends and Olympians, everyone seemed easy going and having a great time. I truly think that because less time, energy, and money was spent to actually arrive at the show, everyone had less pressure to perform. Each ride was "just another ride", and not a measure of worth for the week. After the first day, I was able to catch on to this attitude, and possibly had the most fun competing I have ever had!!

I am very excited to be moving all my horses up a level next month, with the goal of Jersey Fresh *** this spring. Thanks Pro for the opportunity to have me on as guest writer! 

Check out my personal blog for daily shenanigans and like us on FB!
Jump like you mean it!
Whitney Weston

Photos provided courtesy of Whitney Weston