All posts by Associate Editor

Sternlicht Records Second Longines Victory in as Many Weeks with Las Vegas Success

Adrienne Sternlicht and Bennys Legacy. (FEI/Andrew Ryback)

Despite recording a World Cup victory just a week prior in Thermal (USA), Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Bennys Legacy came to Las Vegas’ South Point Arena (USA) with some unanswered questions. The duo had never before competed indoors, but the smaller venue proved no problem for them, as they recorded a second straight World Cup victory.

They topped the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas via a two-horse jump-off and were the only double-clear performers on the evening, crossing the timers of Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) shortened course in 37.68 seconds. Andrew Ramsay (USA) and Stranger were faster, but a rail put them in second; they finished on 4 faults in 35.90 seconds. In a unique result, Sarah Segal (USA) and Uma O’Neill (NZL) finished in adjoint third, as both riders recorded a single time fault in the first round with identical times of 73.39 seconds.

“Tonight, I mainly learned that he was super indoors,” Sternlicht said of her still-new mount, having only debuted with the 11-year-old gelding in September. “I really had no idea how he would be! In some ways, I found him easier to ride inside.”

“He’s a horse that goes exactly the way I like to ride: strong and aggressive. I like to help and support the horse, and he leans on me as a rider in that capacity.” — Adrienne Sternlicht (USA)

Knowing there were just two clear rounds and having to return first in the jump-off, Sternlicht approached the shortened course with a nothing-to-lose mentality while being wary of the quick challenge that followed her.

“I think Andrew has the fastest horse in the class, probably the fastest horse in FEI this week,” Sternlicht said. “I knew that if I didn’t stick to my plan, it might be costly. I think my jump-off round showed the quality of my horse. I think, personally, there are a few things I want to work on, but I couldn’t be happier with the way he jumped, and I’m happy that I stuck to my plan.”

The win moved Sternlicht into third in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League with 46 points. Brian Moggre (USA) leads those standings with 56 points, while Beezie Madden (USA) is second with 49 points. The top seven from these standings at the end of the 2019/2020 season will advance to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, which will also take place in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center in April.

“World Cup Finals are 100 percent on my radar,” Sternlicht said. “I am planning already. [My trainer McLain Ward] is a big planner, and we had a meeting and planned out my schedule for the next five months. I plan on being here and look forward to coming back!”

On the west coast, Karl Cook (USA) maintains his lead in the standings with 49 points, followed by Ashlee Bond (ISR) with 39 points and Will Simpson (USA) with 34 points.

The North American League continues in Guadalajara (MEX) on 25 January 2020.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

IHSA Members Lead Nation at USHJA Emerging Athletes Program and Horsemanship Challenge Finals

Julianna Empie aboard Woody. Photo by Rachel Sowinski/USHJA.

Fairfield, Conn. – Nov. 16, 2019 – Members of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) from across the country participated in the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) National Training Session and Horsemanship Quiz Challenge held at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio Nov. 7-10.

Out of the 252 riders that applied for the EAP this year, 192 participated in a Regional Training Session. Sixteen riders and three stable managers were invited to the finals, six of whom are IHSA members.

The 2019 Horsemanship Quiz Challenge had 426 registrants. Of the entrants, 309 completed the Level One quiz and 106 of those made it to the Level Two quiz. Only 24 were invited to participate in the HQC Finals. Three IHSA members made the shortlist of finalists.

The EAP was created in 2009 to provide opportunities for young riders to advance their horsemanship and riding skills. EAP winners and participants have gone on to win numerous championships in the hunter, jumper, and equitation arenas including the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, ASPCA Maclay Finals, USEF Prix des States, and at IHSA Nationals.

Finalists are evaluated on their riding skills, stable management, combined with their score on a written test. Throughout the four-day event, riders train with Olympic Gold Medalist and IHSA Cacchione Cup winner Peter Wylde. Each finalist trained and cared for a horse generously provided by the University of Findlay, Lake Erie College, and Henry Pfeiffer.

Julianna Empie, a 19-year-old Penn State Equestrian Team member, bested the field of 15 nationally-qualified riders after a rigorous four days of evaluation and a Nations-Cup Style competition. Empie has ridden at regional training sessions since 2016 with clinicians Kip Rosenthal, Anne Kursinski, Joe Fargis, and Karen Healey.

“I was excited to just be at EAP National Finals,” Empie said. “It was amazing because I’ve looked up to other riders and past winners, and now to be a winner of this program is just crazy.”

Empie spent the first few days of the EAP Finals figuring out her mount Woody, provided by Henry Pfeiffer. She said that he was a different ride than she is used to but her consistency in the saddle helped her secure the win.

“Riding multiple horses through the IHSA has given me the skill to feel my horse out in those first few moments and put it all together for a smooth ride,” Empie said.

Wylde complimented Empie as a natural rider with a big future. He commented on her effortless and consistent her rounds aboard Woody in the Nations Cup-style competition. Four riders were called back for a ride-off on different mounts after two rounds of competition on Sunday. Empie’s ride-off round was aboard Clark, owned by the University of Findlay, and won the EAP Outstanding Horse Award. The judges gave Empie the nod and the national finals honor.

As this year’s winner, Empie received a spot in the 2020 USHJA Gold Star Clinic in the 1.10/1.15m section. “I’m so excited for the Gold Star Clinic,” Empie said. “The opportunity to ride in Florida and learn from other professionals in stable management is huge.”

The IHSA members that took part in the EAP National Training Session are:

  • Julianna Empie, 19, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania – Penn State University
  • Joelle Hylton, 19, Manteca, California – Cal Poly
  • Rose Kauffman-Skloff, 19, Los Angeles, California – Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Evelyn Smith, 18, Morristown, New Jersey – Delaware Valley University
  • Alicia Weismann, 19, Southampton, New Jersey – Rider University
  • Mara Picciochi, 20, Morristown, New Jersey – Centenary University

Also held at the University of Findlay was the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (HQC) Finals. The HQC consists of two levels of online horsemanship quizzes comprised of multiple choice and true/false questions that cover horsemanship, anatomy, nutrition, riding theory, and welfare. To be eligible for finals, participants must score an 80 or higher on Level One and a 90 or higher on Level Two. The HQC Finals includes the written test and a hands-on practicum that puts the finalists to the ultimate test.

Keedysville, Maryland native Chloe Bellerive topped the field of HQC finalists to stand atop the podium as winner of the overall competition.

“The IHSA has helped a lot participating over the years,” said Bellerive, a 20-year-old University of Kentucky senior. “The horsemanship you learn from being able to figure out your horse while riding and what it needs from bits and tack to barn management.”

Bellerive is no stranger to HQC competition. She has participated since its inaugural year in 2012. “It was truly very rewarding to take my years of experience after competing for so many years to rise above and win,” she said.

Part of her winner’s package includes a two-month paid internship at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky during the summer of 2020. Bellerive said that she is excited to experience all aspects of the top-notch Warmblood breeding and training facility.

On her way to the overall win, Bellerive scored third on the written exam, first on the horsemanship/identification exam and second on the practicum.

When asked what advice she’d give to those looking to ride in the IHSA, Bellerive said, “Ride as many horses as you can and take every opportunity to keep learning because you can truly never learn enough.”

Two other IHSA members competed in the HQC Finals. University of Michigan student Rebecca Hopkins (Northville, Michigan) scored second on the written exam and fourth on the horsemanship/identification exam. Lauren Obermeyer from Hamilton, Ohio, who rides at the University of Findlay, scored third on the horsemanship/identification exam and fourth on the practicum exam.

For more information, go to IHSAinc.com or contact media@IHSAinc.com.

Dalera and von Bredow-Werndl Beat Weihegold and Werth in Classic Clash at Stuttgart

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was “over the moon” with delight after winning the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League on home ground at Stuttgart (GER). Riding the 12-year-old Trakehner mare TSF Dalera BB with which she claimed team gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) and individual Freestyle bronze at this summer’s European Championships in Rotterdam (NED), she produced a breathtaking performance to pin defending triple-champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold into second place.

The host nation completely dominated the line-up with Helen Langehanenberg, Dorothee Schneider, and Benjamin Werndl finishing third, fourth, and fifth. For von Bredow-Werndl this was a very special result. “It’s like Christmas coming early!” she said.

Werth, winner with Emilio at the second leg of the series in Lyon (FRA) two weeks ago, looked set to march to victory once again after topping the Grand Prix in which von Bredow-Werndl had to settle for second place. But a couple of blips saw the legendary lady trailing her team-mate who set a massive target-score of 88.440 when second-last to go.

The Freestyle began with Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K putting 80.755 on the board, and this pair, who got the worst of the draw after finishing an uncharacteristic 11th in the Grand Prix, were still out in front with just five of the 15 starters – all of them German – left to compete.

Helen Langehanenberg demoted the Irish duo with a brilliant performance from her 17-year-old stallion Damsey FRH who danced up the centreline with foot-perfect tempi-changes to post 83.735. And when Dorothee Schneider and DSP Sammy Davis Jr slotted in close behind with 83.395 and Benjamin Werndl and Daily Mirror scored 80.900, then it was 2013 series champion Langehanenberg who was still in command with just two left to run.

But Benjamin’s sister, 33-year-old Jessica, turned the class on its head with a technically brilliant performance from Dalera that also sparkled.

“She gave me a feeling I’ve never had before! In Rotterdam she was already amazing but today it felt even lighter and easier. Every piaffe was amazing, every transition every passage and pirouette, every half-pass… I’m so excited about our future now!” — Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER)

As Werth set off with her last-to-go ride, it seemed only a matter of form that she would overtake her compatriot’s score. But Weihegold’s test wasn’t clean, and despite a confident one-handed passage to finish, their mark of 87.240 would only be good enough for runner-up spot. “I had super piaffe/passage but had two little mistakes. I maybe risked too much – Jessica deserves to win tonight,” said the five-time champion who is chasing down four titles in a row.

“Stuttgart is one of the toughest qualifiers for the World Cup, so it feels like winning at Aachen or at a Championship! I couldn’t be happier; I knew this was possible but it’s still like a dream come true!” said von Bredow-Werndl.  She’s aiming for the series Final in Las Vegas, USA next April but not with Dalera. “I want to take Zaire to Las Vegas, and I’m trying to prepare Dalera for the Olympics next summer. Tokyo is already for sure somewhere in my head, and I would be delighted to be part of Team Germany there,” she said.

The top nine on the Western European League will qualify for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final, and after the first three qualifiers the leading four on the league table are all Germans, von Bredow-Werndl and Frederic Wandres sharing pole position followed by Langehanenberg in third and Benjamin Werndl in fourth place.

The next leg will take place in Madrid (ESP) in two weeks’ time.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI President Opens In-Person Board Meeting at FEI General Assembly 2019

FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the first in-person meeting of the FEI Board at the FEI General Assembly 2019 in Moscow (RUS) with a vote of thanks to outgoing Board members and a particular vote of thanks to the Russian hosts.

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, posted a personal message on the Kremlin website welcoming the FEI President and delegates of the FEI General Assembly to the Russian capital for the first time.

Persons whose terms of office have come to an end and who were personally thanked by the FEI President for their distinguished service include FEI Vice President H.E. Sheikh Khalid (BRN) and Chair of FEI Regional Group VII from 2006 to 2019, Sadyr Mamytov (KGZ), who has chaired Regional Group III from 2015 to 2019, Medical Committee Chair Dr Peter Whitehead (GBR) from 2009 to 2019), and FEI Tribunal Chair Henrik Arle (FIN) from 2011 to 2019. Betty Wates (JAM), who has chaired the FEI Nominations Committee since 2015, has also completed her four-year term.

The FEI Board, the body responsible for the general direction of the FEI and for all relevant matters not consigned to the General Assembly, held its meeting at the Hyatt Regency Moscow Petrovsky Park, venue for the full FEI General Assembly 2019.

Details of the main decisions and talking points at the meeting are available here.

FEI media contacts:

Olga Nikolaou
Media Relations Officer
olga.nikolaou@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 56

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Vanessa.Randin@fei.org
+ 41 78 750 61 73

Rolex and Equestrianism: An Enduring Legacy

Photos: Ms. Baade riding Clemens in the Wallküren-Preis at CHIO Aachen, 1930; Isabell Werth riding Satchmo at CHIO Aachen, 2010.

More than 60 years ago, Rolex formed a partnership with the greatest show jumper in history to represent Great Britain, the pioneering Pat Smythe. Winner of more grand prix events in more countries than any man or woman before her, she was the first female rider to participate in the Olympics and the first to win a medal, a team bronze in Stockholm in 1956. Like Rolex, she was an innovator, always pushing back the boundaries of what was possible. In 1957 Smythe joined the Rolex family, becoming its first equestrian Testimonee, marking the start of one of the strongest alliances in the sport. Since then, Rolex’s bond with the equestrian world has grown stronger each year. In 2019, Rolex celebrates several key anniversaries within the sport, with milestones for two elite equine events and two legendary athletes.

ROLEX GRAND SLAM

Rolex’s association with one of the sport’s four prestigious Majors began 30 years ago when it partnered with the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the annual show jumping competition held in the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Canada. It was here, in 2015, that Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash etched his name in equestrian history by becoming the first and, to date, only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate prize awarded to the winner of the Grand Prix at three successive Majors. His feat was the result of an unwavering quest for perfection, an unprecedented display of precision and excellence required to win all of these historic Majors.

Preceding the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is the CHIO Aachen, an event that this year celebrates 20 years of partnership with Rolex. Founded in 1924, this revered event in Germany is the oldest of the four show jumping Majors. Its rich heritage is cherished by the knowledgeable 360,000 fans that annually fill the 40,000-seat open-air stadium over nine days of top-tier competition. Widely considered equestrianism’s “homecoming” event, CHIO Aachen is often likened to The Championships, Wimbledon, being the oldest and most prestigious tournament within the sport. Another quality it shares with the esteemed tennis event, which Rolex is proud to have partnered for more than 40 years, is the unquestionable passion of the spectators who travel far and wide to watch their heroes in action. Isabell Werth is one rider who enjoys superstar status at CHIO Aachen, competing in front of an adoring home crowd whose noisy adulation fills the purpose-built Hauptstadion.

THE QUEEN OF DRESSAGE

Over the years, Werth has become known as “the queen of dressage,” a title bestowed on her due to a glittering career that has helped elevate the discipline to new heights. Werth has won more Olympic medals than any other equestrian athlete in history, 10 in total, six of them gold. Her long list of achievements includes a World Championship victory in 2006 at Aachen, where she was presented with an engraved Rolex Timepiece, and a gold medal for team dressage and a silver for individual dressage at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Speaking of her key achievements, Werth said: “You don’t forget those special moments, even after all these years. Every time I look at my Rolex watch it reminds me of reaching the very top of my sport.”

THE PESSOAS

Another key member of the Rolex family is the Brazilian show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa. Son of Nelson Pessoa, a legendary equestrian athlete in his own right, Rodrigo seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Commenting on his childhood, Rodrigo says: “My father travelled a lot. Taking me to the shows was a way for us to spend time together and he wanted to see if I would catch the horse and competition bug at a young age, and I did.” As Rodrigo grew up, he had the benefit of his father’s knowledge and expertise to guide him through the highs and lows of being an elite equestrian athlete. Nelson supported his son every step of the way, from the moment he first made an impression on the sport at the age of 19, to winning Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. Rolex also has supported Rodrigo during his decorated career. Throughout this partnership, 20 years old and still going strong, the gifted rider has received many accolades and established himself as one of the most respected names in the sport. Of the partnership, Rodrigo says: “The support from Rolex shows how committed they are to our sport and to raising the level of professionalism. The progress made in our sport over the years has been tremendous and it would not have been possible without Rolex elevating the bar.”

Having competed in the upper echelons of the sport for more than four decades, Pessoa decided to take his career in a new direction towards the end of 2016, turning his focus towards coaching and accepting the highly respected position as Irish Chef d’Equipe. In this role, he found himself mentoring young Irish rider Bertram Allen, Rolex’s youngest equestrian Testimonee. In the same way Nelson imparted his wisdom to Rodrigo, the latter now finds himself tutoring one of the sport’s most exciting prospects. Rolex’s partnerships with key figures in the equestrian community, such as Pessoa, Allen, and Werth, run across generations and continents, enabling knowledge and experience to be shared. Rolex is confident this process will perpetuate a cycle of renewed and enduring excellence, the benefits of which can already be seen through Pessoa’s rapid success as Ireland show jumping team manager, to give one example. Within a year of Pessoa taking the reins, an Irish team featuring Allen claimed team gold at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg. Coincidentally, Werth took gold in all three dressage categories she competed in at those Championships, once again highlighting Rolex’s wide-ranging support to top equestrian athletes.

YOUNG RIDERS ACADEMY

It is worth noting that these top competitors’ partner with Rolex not only when they are at the pinnacle of their careers, but also as aspiring riders striving to make their name in the sport. Allen, for example, is a graduate of the Young Riders Academy, an initiative supported by Rolex and the most prestigious training course available to young equestrian athletes. Since leaving the Academy, Allen joined the Rolex family of Testimonees and represents a new era of equestrian excellence. They serve as a reminder of Rolex’s long-standing support for human achievement, which can be traced back to the brand’s pioneering roots and is demonstrated by its creation of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster.

By nurturing young talent and supporting them as Testimonees on their journey to becoming champions, the Swiss watchmaker’s presence permeates all levels of the sport. The brand’s belief in unlimited human potential, in striving for continuous improvement, is embodied in a word inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. Perpetual. The important equestrian anniversaries being celebrated in 2019 highlight Rolex’s long-standing and continuing commitment to this elegant and historic sport.

Minna Hall
rEvolution
http://revolutionworld.com

Alberto Michan Wins $25k Equine Tack & Nutritionals Grand Prix aboard Zambia Mystic Rose

Alberto Michan and Zambia Mystic Rose. ©ESP.

Wellington, FL – November 12, 2019 – The ESP Fall Series continued this past weekend with the ESP November show, taking place at the main grounds of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Alberto Michan of Israel maintained his winning streak, claiming top honors in Sunday’s $25,000 Equine Tack & Nutritionals Grand Prix, this time aboard Nilson Da Silva’s Zambia Mystic Rose. The pair flew through the timers in just 37.368 seconds after returning for the second round with only two other horse-and-rider combinations. Heather Caristo-Williams of Saugerties, NY was very close behind, finishing the jump-off track in 37.245 seconds with four faults, aboard Qui Vive Des Songes Z, owned by Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Caristo. Finishing in third place was Kyle Dewar of Ocala, FL and F Gunsmoke RHF, owned by Joan Burke, after a 39.719-second jump-off with four faults added to their score.

Course designer, Andrew Christiansen, set the track for a total of 20 competitors on Sunday afternoon. Only three pairs returned for the second round. Michan commented that he felt lucky [to win] because it was a very technical course: “Especially that triple combination line – it rode a little forward then always an oxer-vertical-vertical combo makes it very short and very careful. So I think there the horses had to do a lot for themselves and take care of those rails, so very tricky for sure.” This is Michan’s third victory in a row, twice on the newly engineered footing surface. ” It rides very nice and the horses feel soft in the landing and still have a very good push off the ground. Even for the first weekend, it had great grip and the horses felt secure,” stated Michan. “In the jump-off, I actually lost a shoe and my mare still kept jumping very well for the rest of the course!”

Speaking of horses’ shoes, Heather Caristo-Williams’ mount, Qui Vive Des Songes Z, completed the entire feature class without shoes this past Sunday. “He’s had a lot of problems with quarter cracks in the past, so we took the summer to condition his feet to withstand jumping bigger tracks without shoes,” said Caristo-Williams. “I felt confident enough in the new footing to ride him barefoot and the surface felt incredible this weekend. My horse seemed very comfortable, even when we were speeding around some of those jump-off turns. It had enough bounce and give on the landing side of the jumps and I’m looking forward to competing on it this winter.”

Alberto Michan also rode Zambia Mystic Rose to victory in Friday’s $10,000 Equine Tack & Nutritionals 1.40m Open Stake after completing the jump-off in 44.122 seconds. When asked about the recent wins, Michan commented, “It’s been three great weeks, with three different horses!” This particular pair has not been competing together long: “They gave me this mare a couple of months ago. Nilson [Da Silva] has a big breeding farm in Brazil that produces a lot of top horses, some that recently have been to the Pan American Games, so I’m lucky to have her. She’s a very cool horse.”

Claiming second place was Juan Manuel Bolanos Barrios of El Salvador with his entry, After Eight following a 45.988-second round. Karina Rocha Mello’s Lamina Van’t Gelutt Z was piloted by Joao Eduardo Ferreira De Carvalho of Brazil to a third-place finish once they crossed through the timers in 47.051 seconds.

To learn more about the ESP Fall Series and PBIEC, please visit www.pbiec.com.

The Fate of America’s Horses

The photo by Kristin Gray of a Mustang displaying the BLM freeze brand was taken at the Hampton Classic/EQUUS Foundation Equine Adoption Day 2019.

It’s not just the fate of America’s Wild Horses in jeopardy.

Today, horses serve the public as athletes, teachers, companions, and healers. The bond with horses exists with children, adolescents, adults, and seniors because horses make us feel everything from excitement to joy to tranquility.

However, today, America’s horses are also confronted with a disturbing reality and their future may be in jeopardy. Tens of thousands of young healthy horses are being transported across our borders to be slaughtered. Instead, they could be sharing their magic and power with people.

Your gift to the EQUUS Foundation will help end the inhumane and unnecessary abuse of these majestic animals by increasing opportunities for horses to partner with people in new, innovative ways.

We need your help to ensure a safe and sustainable environment for horses now and in the future. As one of the most American of holidays approaches, let’s give thanks to our American treasures and protect our icons of freedom.

For the Love of Horses!
www.equusfoundation.org/love

About EQUUS Foundation: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail: mail@equusfoundation.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.

Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester Confirmed for FEI Dressage World Cup at Olympia

Charlotte Dujardin CBE and Carl Hester MBE have confirmed that they will be bringing their best horses, Mount St John Freestyle and Hawtins Delicato, to Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and with the 2020 Olympics fast approaching, the Show will form an important part of their Olympic preparations.

Mount St John Freestyle will be making her competitive debut at Olympia, and having picked up two bronze medals at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, is widely regarded as one of the favourites for Tokyo 2020, bidding to win Dujardin a fourth Olympic Gold.

Announcing her participation, Dujardin said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to Olympia for 2019. Being able to compete on Mount St John Freestyle at the Show for the first time is incredibly exciting and will also provide a valuable stepping stone ahead of the 2020 Olympics. The audience at Olympia is incredible and will prepare us for the crowds in Tokyo.”

Dujardin’s 2018 Olympia ride, Hawtins Delicato, will be back with regular partner Carl Hester, rekindling the formidable partnership that won them team bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and FEI Dressage Nations Cup team gold in Compiègne, France earlier this year.

Hester and Dujardin will go head-to-head in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix and FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music, both supported by Horse & Hound, on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 December. The format of the Grand Prix is the second year of a pilot scheme which includes a more precise test and stronger audience interaction.

“Olympia is the show I look forward to every year and this December I’ll be competing on Hawtins Delicato,” said Hester. “Performing under the roof of Olympia Grand is always such a unique experience and the crowds are so encouraging. It’s exciting to see the revised new format take shape and to see the Show coming up with new and innovative ways of connecting with the audience. I know this year will be a huge success!”

Organisers have reviewed the format of the Grand Prix since last year and have taken the most popular elements from 2018, such as live interviews with the competitors in the arena immediately after their test as they watch the scores come in. The test itself has also been updated, with all the classic Grand Prix characteristics present and attention paid to maintaining the flow of the movements whilst also demanding the highest level of technical ability, athleticism, and precision to satisfy FEI Dressage World Cup standards and qualification requirements.

Richard Davison, Dressage Consultant to the Olympia Organising Committee, who has been working together with the FEI on the project, commented: “We have been working hard to develop a concept which maintains the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix as the ultimate technical test which reflects the highest degree of difficulty, whilst also widening its appeal to new audiences. The aim is to strike a balance for both competitors and fans and this pilot marks a significant step in achieving our goals.”

Simon Brooks-Ward, Show Director, said: “We are always looking for ways to make the action at Olympia as entertaining, dynamic, and educational for our audience as possible.  We are confident that the second year of the Dressage Grand Prix pilot will be met enthusiastically by our audience. Not only do we have the competition, but we are also introducing ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ hosted by Carl Hester, Richard Davison, and Gareth Hughes which gives a 90 minute deep dive into dressage and what it means to compete at an international level. The whole evening is set to be a feast for dressage enthusiasts.”

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Book Release of Mercury & Sirius

Just because we are different doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. We just need to care about each other. That is the magical message of real-life best friends Mercury and Sirius, a miniature therapy horse and his canine companion.

Therapy horse Mercury works with Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world. The therapy horses were called in to comfort survivors and first responders of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. They helped the tornado survivors of Moore, OK, victims of the fires in Gatlinburg, TN, families in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and they visit thousands of patients in children’s and veterans’ hospitals across the country each year.  A multiple award winning, 501(c)(3), the charity is celebrating over 20 years of service and brings love to more than 25,000 adults and children a year.

The therapy horses also “bring books to life” for thousands of children each year inside schools, libraries, mentoring programs, at literacy events, and at education resource centers in high crime neighborhoods. Gentle Carousel’s literacy program has a special focus on at-risk readers.

The heartwarming friendship between Mercury and Sirius has been featured in national magazines and on television programs. Now they have a beautiful children’s book scheduled for release on November 15, 2019.  Mercury & Sirius is currently available for pre-order on Amazon (Prime), Barnes and Noble, and other top booksellers.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
www.gentlecarouseltherapyhorses.com
352-226-9009

Veterans and Mustangs Are Perfect Match at WDAA World Championship Show

Jimmy Welch and Patti Gruber performing a Color Guard with mustangs Little Red Hot and OWH Pearl Harbor. Photo Courtesy of the Western Dressage Association of America and Don Stine Photography.

Marine Corps veteran Jimmy Welch (Woodstock, Ill.) and dressage trainer Patti Gruber (Woodstock, Ill.) competed with two mustangs at this year’s Western Dressage Association of America’s (WDAA) World Championship Show. These World Show first-timers also paid tribute to the flag and all veterans with a Color Guard every evening before the freestyle tests.

Welch and Gruber brought Gruber’s five-year-old mustang gelding OWH Pearl Harbor and her eight-year-old mustang mare Little Red Hot from Welch’s organization, Operation Wild Horse (OWH), to demonstrate the powerful impact a combination of Western dressage and mustangs can have in the healing process of both mind and body for veterans. OWH focuses on engaging veterans and their families with domesticated mustangs in a therapeutic setting. There the veterans are taught about horse care, horsemanship, and riding skills through Western dressage.

In his first ever national championship, Welch went on to compete Little Red Hot successfully in several tests over the course the competition, earning a top-10 placing in the Introductory Test 3 Amateur division.

Welch and Gruber shared why the seemingly unlikely combination of a mustang, a veteran, and Western dressage are a perfect match in supporting American veterans.

Why are mustangs and veterans a good fit?

Welch: “Considering that these animals lived in the wild, there are a lot of parallels between American military veterans and mustangs. The biggest one being fight or flight. These mustangs are very hyper-vigilant, very aware, and so are America’s veterans. It’s what we’re trained to do when we serve. And that’s for safety. Truly, working with the mustangs is like working with a mirror and being able to see yourself for the first time. What we feel we’re doing and what the horse shows us we’re doing is undeniably one of the most therapeutic things that I’ve ever experienced. I love everything there is to love about a mustang. They lived in the wild. Anything that can live in the wild and then learn to be domesticated and take care of someone like myself … there’s nothing not to like about it.

“We believe there is a special bond between veterans and something that has lived in the wild and had to survive. We have a new mustang coming to us that has claw marks from a cougar or a mountain lion, and there’s an Army Sergeant Major that did 22 years in the military that has already been working with her with a colleague of Patti’s. We don’t even have her yet and he’s working with her.”

Gruber: “We don’t know what his draw is to her yet—he’s relatively new to the program—so we don’t know what he sees in her, but he met her at a fundraiser and that was it for him. He’s texting me about her blankets for winter, asking if we need to pick out a color for her. You know, he’s a tough Army veteran who has two sons and this is like his daughter. It’s amazing.”

Where do you get the mustangs?

Gruber: “Our mustangs come from different sources. Some have come through the Mustang Heritage Foundation, we have a couple that have come through private homes, including veterans or the families of veterans, and we also get them through a rescue network that gets them out of auctions and kill pens.

“So our motto has become “horses helping veterans helping horses,” because as much as the horses do for [the veterans], we also do some rescue work to get these mustangs into better situations. We get the mustangs into forever homes where we never have to worry about where they’ll end up. They get all the food that they want, and they come in at night to their stalls where they can just relax and chill. They have their own space and they aren’t fending for their lives or wondering if they’re going to end up in a bad situation. The ones that come to us never have to worry, because they have a forever home with us.

“Mustangs are not seen as the most valuable horses; a lot of them get overlooked for what they can do. A mustang can naturally jump six feet from a standstill … and do, regularly! They make great mounts, whether it’s for dressage or cowboy mounted shooting or barrel racing, and they’re amazing endurance horses because, naturally, they travel 20 to 30 miles a day to find enough food and water when they’re out in the wild.”

Welch: “Our veterans are very, very big into the mustang rescue aspect. There’s more draw for our rescue mustangs than anything, because a lot of us felt like we needed to be rescued. One of our key things [at OWH] is to ensure that we have enough funds to have horse treats in the veteran aisle so that whenever veterans come, they can interact with their horse. That’s so important, because that is the relationship-building aspect of it.

“I had maybe been on a horse once or twice [before OWH.] Patti approached me with this idea for OWH, and in my first humbling experience in all of this I said, “Honestly, I don’t think that horses and veterans have anything of value to offer each other, but I’m willing to listen.” She just had a completely different approach to it. Then I met her mustang, Padre, and in a barn full of 30 domestic horses, there was just something so special about him. I just connected with him.”

How does Western dressage aid the veterans’ healing process?

Gruber: “Dressage itself is the oldest form of military riding, dating all the way back to the Knights of the Round Table and the battle maneuvers those horses used to do, so it has a direct link to the military already. The structure of Western dressage gives the veterans we work with something to work towards, goals to work towards. ‘Can I move up the levels?’ is the same idea as ‘Can I get more rank when I’m in the military?’ So there are direct correlations on multiple levels.

“And who doesn’t want to be a cowboy? Who doesn’t want to throw on cowboy boots and jeans and go get on a horse? It’s just cool. We’ve had veterans tell us being on a horse is the closest thing they’ve had to being in the military, because you’re in control but at any moment you could be out of control.”

Welch: “Western dressage is a perfect fit for us because the most important thing to us is safety. Safety of the rider, safety of the horse, and safety of the spectator. That safety is built through a foundation of the basic principles of riding, dressage. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, so Western dressage being the foundation of what we do is creating that undeniable safety in working with mustangs.

“Doing the tests in Western dressage reminds me a lot of marching. It reminds me of being aware of your position, your form, all of these things very disciplined and being top-notch.”

How does having the WDAA’s support advance your mission of helping veterans and mustangs?

Welch: “Our relationship with the WDAA is fairly new, but it has been the most welcoming relationship, one of the top welcoming relationships we’ve had in the horse world. It was very fitting. I can’t say enough about the decisions the WDAA Board of Directors have made to immediately put into play a veteran membership and a veteran lifetime membership, which comes with a buckle. They have opened their doors to us. I now serve as Veteran Liaison to their board, which means that the board is hearing proposals for how to include veterans, what we wanted to do, and so on, directly from the Operation Wild Horse veterans that I relay back to the board.

“In a short amount of time, they have done so much for us and for veterans already. That’s why we’re here. We want to be part of organizations that want to take care of veterans. WDAA is leading the way in what will be a very successful veteran program, and I hope other breeds and disciplines will model off of that.”

Gruber: “WDAA is doing great work and leading the way in integrating veterans into the Western dressage community and competitions. The other areas of the sport and their organizations could absolutely open their doors and open their membership to encourage more veterans to get involved with it. I don’t think they need to have specific classes for them, but [they can] award and acknowledge their achievement when they are out there in the ring at a show.”

The WDAA recently announced that the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Grant has been awarded to OWH for their youth outreach program. Through the program, children of veterans and active duty military learn horsemanship and riding skills utilizing Western dressage. Additionally, OWH works with active duty military under the age of 22 and Poolees, individuals under the age of 22 who are going into the military. This program concentrates on the therapeutic attributes of horse riding, ground work, and the comradery that accompanies the equestrian community atmosphere.

This no fee annual program has been in place since February 2017, but participants were limited due to the shortage of equipment. The $1,500 grant will allow OWH to implement the curriculum on a larger scale as proper equipment can be purchased to provide the safest atmosphere possible for participants ages 2-21.

by Ashley Swift
© 2019 United States Equestrian Federation