Category Archives: Eventing/H.T.

Riders Come Back to Strzegom

Photo by Mariusz Chmieliński.

Strzegom, Poland, June 30: After weeks of uncertainty, Strzegom is starting the season of international eventing shows. The first competition will be Strzegom Summer Tour, which will be played out during two shows – on the first and third week of July.

Athletes from 13 countries will compete in international classes of various difficulty levels: CCI1*, CCI2*, CCI3*, and CCI4* this weekend with almost 140 horses.

Eventing, also called the equestrian triathlon, is one of the most difficult equestrian disciplines, where the horse and rider have to compete in three trials: dressage, cross-country, and jumping.

The show will start on Friday, when the athletes will present themselves in dressage tests. Saturday is jumping day, and the final exciting trials of XC and prizegiving ceremonies will take place on Sunday.

Due to sanitary restrictions, the event will take place without audiences and media. However, there will be a live streaming available for eventing fans on the official website of the show and Facebook: www.eventing.strzegomhorsetrials.pl.

Live video:

Saturday, 04.07.2020
12.00-18.00 – Showjumping

Sunday, 05.07.2020
09.00-15.00 – Cross-country

CCI Entries: http://www.eventing.strzegomhorsetrials.pl/images/2020/01/Entries_-_CCI_-_29.06.pdf

Programme: http://www.eventing.strzegomhorsetrials.pl/images/2020/01/Timetable_SST_-1st_week_-_26.06.pdf

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Boyd Martin Brings Training to You with New Virtual Clinic

Boyd Martin and Long Island T.

Middleburg, Va. – June 17, 2020 – Rutledge Farm is thrilled to announce a new online training opportunity. Despite restrictions in place due to the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, Rutledge Farm is pleased to offer a socially distanced solution to training with the world’s leading equestrians. To kick off this new series, enjoy a personalized training experience with Olympian and eventing champion Boyd Martin from the comfort of your home no matter where you are in the world.

Registration is open now for riders of all levels, from beginner novice to advanced, and video submissions will be accepted through June 24. As feedback, Martin will be providing personalized recordings as he reviews training and competition footage to offer training advice that will give an added edge the next time you head to compete.

Aleco Bravo-Greenberg, owner of Rutledge Farm, said, “It is a challenging time in our world right now, but we wanted to find a way to continue offering training opportunities for those that can’t access them. I am looking forward to bringing back Boyd Martin as a clinician in a new and unique way, as well as the opportunity to make our clinics available to an even broader audience.”

Click here for a list of video guidelines and to submit your footage for review.

Be Not Afraid: Jim Wofford

Jim Wofford and Kilkenny on their way to clinching team silver and individual sixth place at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. (Photo copyright Werner Ernst)

An interview with James Cunningham Wofford is not something to be taken lightly. Any attempt at leading the conversation fails miserably, because you are talking with a man with the most exceptional communications skills and extraordinary stories to tell. There’s a sense of riding the tide of equestrian history as the double-Olympian and world-famous American coach recalls sporting highlights, great horses, and magical moments from his stellar career.

But it’s a bit like sitting on a runaway train, and even when you get to the end it feels like you’ve only half-halted. Because you just know that there are many more tales to be told and lots more wisdom to be shared by this raconteur par excellence.

I begin by asking him if he always had Olympic ambitions, and he admits it was “in my cross-hairs from a very early age.” Not surprising really considering his father, Col John W. Wofford, who later became first President of the United States Equestrian Team (USET), competed in Jumping at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles (USA) and his older brother, Jeb, helped claim bronze for Team USA in Eventing at the Helsinki (FIN) Games in 1952. Another brother, Warren, went to the top of the sport in both Jumping and Eventing and was reserve for the US Eventing team at the Olympic Games in Stockholm (SWE) in 1956. That’s quite some pedigree just there.

When Jim was growing up, Jeb and his Helsinki team-mates Champ Hough – father of American Jumping star Lauren Hough – and Wally Staley were his childhood heroes. “Then along came Mike Plumb and Michael Page – I looked up to them for years so when I joined them on the US team that was a real thrill!” Jim says.

Did he ever have any doubts about his ability to make it to the top in sport? “I had terrific doubts, and at first I didn’t have a suitable horse. I was riding around on a 15.3hh roan Appaloosa. However, Warren lived in England, and in spring 1967 he went to Ireland looking for horses and saw Kilkenny who was for sale because he’d been to the Olympics, the World Championships, and Badminton and they reckoned he was pretty much done.

Kilkenny

“Warren called my mother and said what a cool schoolmaster the horse would be, so they sent him to me and suddenly I was the hottest kid on the block! We had an unusual partnership; we really shot to the top, from him being thought to be over the hill with all his mileage and me having never been anywhere of any repute – they put us together and it just worked. So we won the National Championships at my first try, and now I’m standing on the podium with Mike Page and Mike Plumb!”

Kilkenny had previously been ridden by Irishman Tommy Brennan who, following a stellar Jumping and Eventing career, became a world-renowned horse agent and cross-country course designer. Did Jim have a preference for what discipline he would compete in with the horse? “I was intrigued by showjumping, but I was a moth to a flame when it came to Eventing!” he says.

Kilkenny had already enjoyed a successful career in both disciplines. “In late summer ’64 he went to Tokyo (Olympic Games where he finished individually 16th in Eventing), in ’65 he went showjumping with Tommy, and in ’66 he was back on the Irish gold medal Eventing team at the World Championships in Burghley,” Jim explains.

I ask him to describe Kilkenny: “He was a 17hh dark bay gelding by Water Serpent with a mealy nose, a tiny star on his forehead, and the look of eagles. When he trotted by you in hand, he had all four feet off the ground!”

He had seen every sort of situation which was handy for me because I’d seen none of them. So I could just drop my hands and tell him to get on with the job which he was happy to do!”

That US National Championships victory was in 1967, and the following year they competed at Badminton (GBR) in preparation for, arguably, the most memorable Eventing Olympic Games of all time in Mexico in 1968.

In the heyday of the “classic format,” the toughness and versatility of horse and rider were fully tested. Dressage was followed by Speed and Endurance day which consisted of two sessions of Roads and Tracks interspersed by a steeplechase phase, and then a vet check before heading out on the cross-country course. The final day’s showjumping decided the result.

Mexico

Talking about selection for Mexico, Jim says, “Plumb and Page would never be left off the team if their horse was sound, and Kevin Freeman was such a marvellous horseman, maybe the best rider of all of us. So there was really one slot left, and fortunately I filled that.” However, the Americans were steeped in good fortune when drawn early to go on Speed and Endurance day, because an afternoon deluge created monstrous conditions that nearly claimed the life of Kilkenny’s former rider.

“I went early and was first out of the box for us. We were on top of the ground so I had the fastest round of the day and I think Michael may have had the second-fastest. When you look back at the scores it’s two different competitions, but it could all have been completed in sunshine!” Jim recalls.

Despite knowing that a monsoon would descend around 13.00 hours as it did every day, the start-time was not adjusted and those that set out later in the competition met with a nightmare. “Once the heavy rain began the volcanic soil became a morass immediately. It was a golf course; there was a shell of grass over this powdery substance that turned to soup under wet conditions and we got the biggest monsoon of the five weeks we were up there!” Jim explains.

Tommy Brennan was only called into action at the last minute with the reserve Irish horse, March Hawk. Second-last to go, he faced inches of water on the steeplechase track where he took a fall on the flat, and by the time he headed out cross-country a stream that had to be crossed several times had become a dangerous flood in full spate. Only the top few inches of Fence 5 were visible and Fence 6 was almost fully submerged. Horse and rider were swept away and disappeared underwater, both in danger of drowning. But somehow, they struggled ashore and continued a little further before March Hawk decided he’d had more than enough.

Great Britain claimed team gold, USA silver, and West Germany bronze. Jim’s compatriot Michael Page (Foster) took individual bronze and Jim and Kilkenny slotted into sixth place.

Punchestown

The World Championship in Punchestown (IRL) two years later was another dramatic affair, but Kilkenny’s class saw Jim take individual bronze this time around.

Once again there was controversy on cross-country day with a big number of fallers late on the track. “The Irish knew they had to lead with their strength and that was the quality of their horses, so they designed a course that was maximum in every aspect – distance, speed, dimension of obstacles, number of obstacles. This was always going to be a big test, and that suited me because I had a horse purpose-built for it!” he points out.

“But no-one knew there was a bogey fence at the 29th. You came through the woods above the old sheep tank and you galloped on a trail and then there was a guard rail and the ground fell away precipitously, and six feet out there was an oxer rail stuffed with gorse. You were supposed to gallop and jump out over the oxer and take a 6ft 6ins drop – it’s what Americans call a ‘gut-check’, a test of courage, scope, and balance. But what the course designer didn’t take into account was a few fences before that there was a double-bank, and it rehearsed the horses to step on the gorse which they did again and again. As they built up the brush every time, they kept stuffing the fence with more green branches so it was even more inviting for the horses to step on it.

“Something like 27 horses got that far and 24 of them fell including Kilkenny, and including Richard Meade (GBR) who got the silver medal. But Mary Gordon-Watson’s (GBR who took individual gold) horse jumped it neat as a pin. Nowadays, if there were two falls like that the jump would be removed from the course and adjustments made in the scores. But in 1968 this was still a sport run by cavalry generals!” Jim says.

Munich

The Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 brought his partnership with this faithful steed to an end. The US side that also included Mike Plumb with Free and Easy, Kevin Freeman riding Good Mixture, and Bruce Davidson with Plain Sailing claimed team silver, but for Jim and Kilkenny it wasn’t their finest hour.

“I rode according to orders instead of the way I should have, and we finished well down the list. But he didn’t get the ride he needed so that’s nothing to say about him. At our silver medal victory bash, I said that Kilkenny would retire now and come home. He was property of my mother, but my brother (Warren) who was a Master of Foxhounds in England was dropping heavy hints about what a wonderful Fieldmaster’s horse he would be, so I had to have a little palace revolution there to make sure he did come home!”

Kilkenny’s cross-country days were still not quite over, however, because he hunted another few seasons with Jim and his wife Gail back in the US, even though he wasn’t the ideal candidate because he was a bit over-keen. “He couldn’t bear to have another horse in front of him, and Gail was too brave with him!” Jim points out.

There was a lean period after Munich. “I was ‘on the bench’ and I knew part of it was because I’d ridden badly in Munich, but also because I didn’t have a horse of Olympic capability,” he says.

Carawich

All that would change however when he met Carawich. Jim insists he doesn’t believe in anthropomorphism – attributing human traits and emotions to non-humans – but then tells the story of how they first met.

He hadn’t won a competition above Preliminary level since 1972 when, at Badminton in the Spring of 1977, he experienced a moment of connection during the vet-check when a horse stopped and turned to look at him. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck – he picked me out of the crowd and stared at me. His groom tugged on the lead, but he didn’t listen – it took about 30 seconds but it seemed like an hour!” Jim recalls, with excitement still in his voice after all these years.

The horse wasn’t for sale at the time but came on the market a few months later. “He arrived in late December 1977 untried. I took out a loan on my life insurance policy to pay for him and it was the best investment I ever made!” says Jim.

“Carawich suited me as the rider I was after two Olympics and one World Championship. We went to Lexington World Championships (Kentucky, USA) in ’78 where we finished 10th and were on the bronze medal team, and then we were fifth at Badminton the following spring and then second at the alternate Olympics in Fontainebleau (FRA) in 1980. We were second in the Kentucky event that spring and won Kentucky the following year. He was quite some horse too!”

More great horses

An injury sustained at Luhmuehlen (GER) in 1981 put an end to Carawich’s career, but Jim still had more great horses to ride. There was Castlewellan who came his way when British rider Judy Bradwell, in recovery following a nasty accident, asked him if he knew of a suitable new US owner for the horse.

“I said don’t go away, and in about 30 minutes we had a deal! He came over that summer, again untried, and we won a big Intermediate event. Then in Spring ’84 we were well-placed at Kentucky and then we were non-riding reserves at the LA Olympic Games.”

Jim retired after that, but two years later came out of retirement for one more moment of glory. Offered the ride on The Optimist, normally competed by America’s Karen Lende (now O’Connor) who was riding in Australia that year, he jumped at the chance.

“He was a big bull of a horse, Irish-bred, 16.3hh and a bit big-eared and small-eyed, with massive shoulders like a bullock. He’d run away with everyone who got on him, but he had a wonderful attitude going down to jumps,” Jim recalls. It wouldn’t be all plain sailing, but again a moment of connection would turn everything around.

“For about a week or 10 days I thought I’d painted myself in a corner because we were not getting along at all,” he explains. However, he accidentally caught the horse unawares in the stable one day, and The Optimist didn’t have time to put on his normal sullen expression. Instead Jim got a fleeting glimpse of a bright, intelligent, focused horse. “I laughed and shook my finger at him and said, ‘It’s too late; I saw you!’” Jim says. “I suddenly realised he didn’t want to be told what to do; he already knew his job, so the next time I threw my leg over him I did it with that in mind and we got along famously. He won a couple of prep events and then he won Kentucky. And then I quickly retired again!” Jim says.

Talent

When asked to compare the talent of riders from his own era with those of today, he replies, “This stuff about ‘Oh we were better in the good old days’ – don’t you believe it! I lived through the good old days – these people today would beat us like a carpet!” he insists. There have been many changes in the sport, of course. “Riders are in a much more predictable situation these days. When they are pacing distances between cross-country obstacles, you know it’s a different sport.”

And the horses – are there big differences in them too? “In the classic format they had to be brave as a lion because we jumped some formidable stuff. We don’t test now for strength of character in the horse – today it’s a test of technique,” he points out.

For many years now he’s been a dedicated and hugely successful coach, and he enjoys training pupils at all levels. He’s looking forward to getting back to working with his students again very soon and seeing how “profitably” they’ve used this time during the pandemic shutdown. “Will they have improved their horses’ training, or will they have worn them out by endlessly practicing competitive details?” he wonders.

I ask what advice he has for riders concerned about returning to competition in the shadow of the virus still sweeping across the world, and he replies, “Event riders are already bio-mechanically engineered not to be afraid, so don’t be afraid! Know the risks and the safeguards, and go from there.”

Life, he concludes, is like the wording on a famous painting, “The Bullfinch” by English artist Snaffles – “glorious uncertainty” is what awaits us all on the landing side. And, for James Cunningham Wofford, that’s all part of the thrill of the ride.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Let’s Stay Optimistic and Be Thankful for What We Have: Ingrid Klimke

Ingrid Klimke (GER) and SAP Hale Bob OLD claimed individual bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA). (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Ingrid Klimke was cooking dinner while we chatted. No surprises there – the German star is a born multi-tasker, so juggling an interview and an evening meal is a breeze for this lady.

In the sport of Eventing she has five Olympic Games, four FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG), and 10 FEI European Championships under her belt. Her medal collection includes two Olympic team golds and one team silver, two WEG team golds and an individual bronze, and last summer’s double-gold in Luhmuehlen (GER) brought her European Championships tally to six golds along with a silver and a bronze.

Her prowess as a Dressage rider has been key to many of these successes, and just to prove the point she finished seventh in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in 2002. It’s a staggering record but far from complete. As we begin our chat, she reminds me that she was selected for the German A squads in both Eventing and Dressage for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, “with three horses in the two disciplines, so already a dream has come true! Now I’m very much hoping that they all stay healthy for next year!” she says.

One of my dreams

So what prompted you to try to qualify in two Olympic disciplines this time around?

“I watched Mark Todd (New Zealand superstar) compete in Jumping and Eventing in Barcelona, so it was one of my dreams to do the same someday! My father (the late, great German horseman Reiner Klimke) competed at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome in Eventing and later changed to become a Dressage rider.”

Apart from your father who were your heroes when you were growing up?

“I really admired Lucinda Green and I read all her wonderful books. She was World and European Champion when she won here at Luhmuehlen (team gold for Great Britain at the World Championships in 1992) – I ran around the course after her that day! She was so brave and horses did everything for her. I really liked the way she talked about her horses and the kindness of her – she was fun and open-hearted and had a lovely personality.

“And Mark Todd has always been a legend – when I was at my first Olympics in Sydney neither I nor my horse (Sleep Late) had ever done a 4-Star. When I saw the cross-country, I thought ‘Oh my God!’ and I followed behind Mark when he was walking the course hoping to learn something from him!”

Has it been a pressure for you being Reiner Klimke’s daughter?

“When I was young people would say when I did well, ‘Oh for a Klimke that’s a typical result,’ and when I made a mistake they would say, ‘A Klimke should be doing better than that.’ So I tell my girls (her two daughters Greta and Philippa), don’t worry, you can’t make everything right for other people, but you don’t do it for them you do it for yourself because you love the sport and you love the horse.”

Ambitious

Are your daughters ambitious?

“The oldest, Greta, is now 18 and will be in Young Riders next year and she’s very ambitious and very determined. The young one is almost 10 and she likes to play with the horses, to ride bareback. She comes into the arena and goes, ‘OK, I’ve done one round of dressage so now Bye Bye Mam!’ She’s having a lot of fun and she has a lovely pony but I’m not sure what she will do with herself!”

I realise Miss Philippa has inherited some of her mother’s characteristics when I ask my next question.

What do you like best about being around horses?

“I’m starting a four-year-old again and a friend said to me, ‘Why are you starting a four-year-old? Let the girls do it!’ But this is what gives me such fun, to see how they discover the world, how they trust you, connect with you. And the other part I enjoy is the horsemanship, going bareback, riding with a neck-rein (see what I mean?). I feel like I’m playing with my ponies again!”

Is there anything you don’t like about being around horses?

“No, although my father didn’t want me to become a professional rider when I was young. He thought it would change my attitude to the horses because I’d have to sell them. He wanted horses to be my hobby and it took me a while to persuade him that I could find another way, but I did and I love it.”

Ingrid created her own business model. “We don’t sell horses but keep them and compete them, and I’m really happy to have very good sponsors and try to take good care of them. Asha (her now nine-year-old star Eventing mare) could have been sold for so much money but her owner said we don’t sell family members!”

Pinot

The horse you liked most?

“Pinot, my first horse, a little Trakehner stallion. I did my first Dressage, my first Jumping, and my first Eventing with him. I had no idea what I was doing, and on my first cross-country round I was looking around and thinking how wonderful it was, so I was nearly two minutes too slow!

“He was small with so much heart and not much scope, but he was a great schoolmaster and because of him I decided I wanted to do all three disciplines.”

The horse you liked least?

Ingrid hesitates here; she doesn’t really want to be critical of any horse and doesn’t name him, but… ”There was one horse that wasn’t my favourite but I knew there was something in him that he wasn’t showing me. I said to myself, ‘Ingrid you are a Reitmeister (Riding Master) and you’ve got to be able to ride every horse so look for other ways with him!’ We got there in the end and he taught me a lot about having to be patient, and later he won my heart – but it certainly wasn’t love at first sight!”

The best horse you’ve ever ridden?

“The mare Escada, She was in the winning team in the WEG at Caen (in 2014) and she had all the qualities you can imagine. She was a unique jumper, careful, powerful, so much scope with lovely gaits, and she could go forever cross-country. Unfortunately, because she was always giving too much, we couldn’t keep her sound. She and Hale Bob grew up together and Bobby was always No 2 when she was at her most brilliant.”

How did you learn to master three tough disciplines? 

“Because of the chances my parents gave me, to feel different dressage horses and schoolmasters, and when I was with (Canadian Jumping legend) Ian Millar, I had the chance to see the Canadian way of showjumping. And Fritz Ligges (German gold medallist, Munich Olympic Games 1972) was also competing in Eventing and Jumping and was a close friend of my father, so when I was growing up I went on holidays and did a lot of jumping there, so I think from youth on I had a good chance to feel wonderful horses in the three disciplines.”

Your favourite discipline and why?

“Eventing cross-country – I’m really competitive when I’m out there. The buzz going into the start-box is what I love the most!

“And in top Dressage when you ride the Freestyle to Music. My father always said try to have invisible aids so the spectators can’t see what you do and the horse seems to be doing it on its own… when you have that, and it’s not too often but when you have it, then I also really like dressage a lot!

“It depends on the horse too. In my next life I would maybe like to become a Jumping star!”

Memorable moments

Memorable Cross-Country Moments? 

“At Sydney (2000 Olympic Games) the cross-country was so long – 13 minutes and five seconds – with steeplechase and roads and tracks, and it was so hot. I really wasn’t sure I was ready for it. I went at the very end, and so many people before me had falls and it didn’t go well for the German team either. When I came in the 10-minute box I heard someone say, ‘I don’t think Ingrid will make it.’

“I said to Blue (Sleep Late) we have to do something we’ve never done before and that we’ll never forget; you have to show you are a thoroughbred and run forever! The second water was jumping onto a bank and into a deep drop followed by a brush fence and I was leaning too far forward at the drop. But he just jumped everything totally straight without any attention to me trying to hang on. He galloped the last minute uphill and kept this incredible rhythm and I was in time and I couldn’t believe it!

“And then there was my last ride with Braxxi (Butts Abraxxas, two-time Olympic team gold medallist) when he was 16. It was at Burghley (2013) and I couldn’t believe how huge the fences were! He gave me his everything – twice on that cross-country round I wondered if I should stop, but when we finished it was so emotional. I said to Braxxi this is our last competition together; you can’t give me any more! He showed more ability than he had, more scope than he had. I hadn’t planned it, but I retired him then.”

Where did he retire to?

“Greta was 11 at the time and he was a great schoolmaster for her. He’s now 23 and still in my barn. I did send him to a retirement home with other horses, but he decided he didn’t want to stay there and kept jumping out. He wanted to be with us, so I took him back and I love it every day when I see him out with the ponies. He’s still in Stable No. 1 which he deserves!”

Philosophy

What’s your philosophy when things go wrong?

“Get back on your feet and look for the positive things even though sometimes you don’t see them right away. A good example was me and Braxxi: he was not a good showjumper and all his life I tried everything with him, but finally I had to accept that there are some things you cannot change. When I did that then I could appreciate our wonderful dressage and cross-country rounds even though I knew I was never going to win an individual medal because he would never jump clear. But I was always a good team member.”

Was European double-gold in Luhmuehlen last summer particularly special for you?

“Yes, I was so thrilled for Bobby (Hale Bob) because in Strzegom (POL in 2017) it was a close battle between Michael Jung (German team-mate and multiple champion) and me, and it was very close this time again. Bobby did such a wonderful cross-country round. It felt so easy; I looked at my watch and we were so much ahead of time we could canter home! He did a brilliant showjumping round. In Tryon (WEG 2018) we had the last (showjumping) fence down and lost the medal, but this time we showed we really could do it when the pressure was on.

“And it’s always more special when the horse is getting older. Now he is 16 and these are our last years together, so I treasure it even more.”

Three mothers

The important people in your life?

“My family of course, and I have three mothers – (two along with her mother Ruth). There is also Faith Berghuis (Canadian patron of equestrian sport) who supported me with great advice and gave me the chance to work with Ian Millar, and Aunt. She’s not my real aunt but she owns a little farm behind my parents’ house and I spent a lot of my childhood there learning about animals and farming and nature.

“After my father died (aged 63 in 1999), his advisor, friend, and teacher when he was young, the old cavalryman Paul Stecken, became my mentor and just four years ago he passed away aged 100. He was a lovely man.

“And my friends, some who have nothing to do with horses who were in my school here in Münster (GER) and we have many things in common. And then there are my ‘culture’ friends who take me out to cultural events, so my life is not all about horses!”

What makes you laugh?

“Kids, and young horses… the way they see the world can be really funny!”

What makes you cry?

“Seeing the refugees sitting in those camps in Greece and nobody willing to take them. When people are poor and born into hopeless situations, that makes me very sad. I’m a member of PLAN International, an organisation that works to improve children’s rights and equality for girls who live in poverty. We have to help as much as we can.

“And also the animals: when you see the rhinos and other beautiful animals being slaughtered by poachers it makes me so angry – that really makes me cry.”

Finally, how are you coping with life during this pandemic?

“If you listen to the news it’s very easy to lose your positive attitude, because there is so much uncertainty. But I tell myself I’m privileged, I’m healthy, and so is my family, so we must stay patient. We don’t know when the vaccination will come, but until then we must stay optimistic and be thankful for what we have.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Rutledge Farm Sessions with Phillip Dutton

Phillip Dutton with Aleco Bravo-Greenberg at Rutledge Farm.

Middleburg, Va. – May 15, 2020 – Rutledge Farm is pleased to announce a partnership with EQUITANA USA to present a clinic with Olympic eventing gold medalist Phillip Dutton as a part of the Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series. EQUITANA, the world’s largest equestrian trade fair and exhibition, is coming to the United States this fall at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky from September 25-27. Historically hosted in Middleburg, Virginia, the team at Rutledge Farm is looking forward to expanding the successful Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series to offer this unique learning opportunity to a new audience of equestrians in Kentucky.

EQUITANA has been the leading international equestrian exhibition for over 35 years. Since its inception in 1972 and its continuously growing popularity in Essen, Germany, EQUITANA also offers exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand. The new EQUITANA USA will take place in Lexington, Kentucky this year, showcasing a variety of popular equestrian personalities, professional performers, authors, veterinarians, and other top professionals sharing their expertise on a wide range of disciplines and topics. Each day will feature a trade fair, showcasing equestrian related products and services, along with special demonstrations and performances.

Aleco Bravo-Greenberg, owner of Rutledge Farm, commented, “I am really excited about bringing the Rutledge Farm Sessions to Lexington, Kentucky. I am proud of the series we have established at my farm in Middleburg, and I can’t wait to offer these exclusive opportunities in a new part of the country. Our Middleburg community has enjoyed having Phillip [Dutton] teach at Rutledge Farm over the past two years, but I am looking forward to a new group of riders having the opportunity to learn from his vast experience.”

Olympic eventing gold medalist Phillip Dutton has been a staple clinician for the Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series since 2018 where he has taught beginner novice riders up through advanced athletes. Dutton earned back-to-back Olympic gold medals for Australia’s eventing team in 1996 during the Games in Atlanta, Georgia and again in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. After changing his competitive nationality to the United States in 2006, he was a member of the gold medal eventing team at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio De Janeiro and rode to the individual silver medal. In 2016, he was awarded the individual bronze medal for the U.S. Eventing Team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics riding Mighty Nice.

EQUITANA USA Event Director Meghan Margewicz said, “EQUITANA USA is thrilled to be working alongside Rutledge Farm for this year’s clinic series. Rutledge Farm and EQUITANA USA have an ideal synergy, together providing the equestrian community new and exciting opportunities to learn, grow, and excel in equestrian sport. Aleco [Bravo-Greenberg] has created such a unique and beautiful equestrian community within Rutledge. Held in such high regard throughout the industry, and the clinic series – with such impressive names – is another extension of the fabulous opportunities Rutledge Farm offers equestrians of all disciplines. It is with honor that EQUITANA USA and the Kentucky Horse Park will be home to one of the Rutledge Farm Series clinics this fall, and we look forward to a successful and continuing relationship.”

To learn more, visit www.equitanausa.com.

Bringing Brocks Back Home to the Fields of Dreams

The Irish Sport Horse Paulank Brockagh ridden by Sam Griffiths, pictured in Eventing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where they finished fourth individually and helped secure team bronze for Australia. (Photo: Libby Law)

Last Tuesday night, just as the light was fading, a lorry pulled into a stable-yard in Ireland’s County Wicklow, and when the ramp was lowered a lovely bay mare stepped back in time. It was 10 years since Paulank Brockagh, better known as Brocks, was packed into a trailer by her breeder Paula Cullen for a trip to Australian rider Sam Griffiths’ base in Dorset (GBR) from where a glorious story would begin to unfold.

Brocks “the banker,” as Sam describes her, would become the rock on which the Australian Eventing team could rely over the following decade. Her pathfinding performances at both the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Caen (FRA) where the team finished fourth, and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where she helped clinch team bronze and finished fourth individually, are the stuff of legend.

She conquered Badminton (GBR) in 2014 thanks to an epic cross-country run, and had a total of 35 international outings, 12 at 5-Star level, and top-ten finishes at Badminton, Burghley (GBR), Pau (FRA), and Luhmühlen (GER). But just a few short weeks ago her owner, Dinah Posford, and Sam decided it was time for the mare to retire and that she should return to live out her days in Ireland.

So last Tuesday night, after giving her a few minutes to relax and graze following her trip across the Irish Sea, Paula walked Paulank Brockagh back to the stable where she was born 17 years ago. It was an emotional reunion, bringing back a lot of memories, and Paula made that walk with pride.

First refusal

“When we sold her in 2010, I said to Dinah that if she ever bred from her, I’d love to have first refusal on the foal. So when I got the call to ask if I’d like to retire her here, I couldn’t hold back the tears!” Paula says.

It was particularly poignant because Brocks’ dam, Calendar Girl, only passed away three months ago at the age of 29. But Brocks will be surrounded by many of her siblings now that she’s home in the Wicklow hills.

Paula has bred all kinds of champions in her day. Initially known as a top producer of Welsh ponies, she enjoyed plenty of big moments at shows in the hallowed Royal Dublin Society arena but now finds herself at the venue more frequently to see her rugby-star son, Leo who had 32 caps for Ireland, in action as Head Coach for Leinster.

When she established Paulank (her own name combined with that of her husband, Frank) Sport Horses, then Brocks really put her on the map. The Irish Sport Horse mare got a great grounding with Joseph Murphy and Daryll Walker before finishing third in the CIC1* at Ballinacoola in Ireland in 2009 with Heidi Hamilton on board. The following spring Paula delivered her to Sam who steered her into eighth place in the 7-Year-Old category at the prestigious FEI World Breeding Federation Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) in October, by which time she was in new ownership.

Dinah Posford had been on the lookout for a horse to share with her daughter Jules and husband Steve when she heard about Brocks from her friend Juliet Donald, with whom she already co-owned another of Sam’s top rides, Happy Times.

“Happy was full steam ahead at the time, but when Juliet told me about Brocks I went to see her and thought there was something about her and that it would be lovely to have a mare, so we bought her.” It turned out to be an excellent decision. “The fun we’ve had with her and the joy she has brought us – you couldn’t make it up!” says Dinah.

And the day she cherishes most from Brocks’ career? “When she won at Badminton, it was such an exceptional year. only 32 completed out of 78 starters; she was lying 25th after Dressage but went right up to fifth after cross-country and when she won, I was in a daze! It was just wonderful!”

Incredible cross-country

Sam says what made Brocks so special to ride is that she always gave her all. “I’ve never ridden a horse that would try so hard; she was a naturally good jumper, needed some training on the flat, but an incredible cross-country horse.

“I really felt that I could point her at a house, and she’d try to jump it!

“She would give you so much confidence; she wasn’t the quickest but where she came to the fore was at 5-Star level; she had such endurance; she could just keep going and keep trying, especially on the last day she’d still give it everything she had.

“In Rio (2016 Olympic Games) the cross-country was really tough and when I was the first to go for the team and so many of the other team’s first riders were struggling, I was filled with trepidation. So to get such a brilliant ride and then to do two showjumping clears, that was a real thrill. In Rio, the proper jumpers really came to the fore,” Sam says.

They missed individual bronze by less than two penalty points, pinning Australian compatriot Chris Burton into fifth by just 0.5. Earlier in Brocks’ career, Chris, who is a world-class trainer as well as an athlete and a great friend of Sam’s, was unimpressed by her. “When he visited one time, I told him you have to sit on this mare – I think she might be my next Badminton horse – but he didn’t think too much of her that day. He fell in love with her a few years later though!” Sam recalls with a giggle.

Much as she is adored, however, Brocks can be a bit of a madam, especially with people on the ground. “She’s quite opinionated and when she doesn’t want to go somewhere, she just bolts off in the walk. She used to make me laugh – you’d take her somewhere like Badminton where the horses are allowed to graze on the front lawn and she’d set her eye on where she wanted to go and just storm off, the groom would be water-skiing at the end of the lead-rope and Brocks wouldn’t give a damn!

“A 20-stone man wouldn’t stop her when she wants to go somewhere, and the better she got, the more of a diva she became!” Dinah agrees. “Yes, she’s her own person alright,” says Paula. “I took her once to Boswell (Equestrian Centre in Wicklow) and she sent me flying while I was trying to hold her. She was always a bit impetuous, and I don’t think that’s changed!”

Decision to retire

The decision to retire her wasn’t easily taken. Her last big outing was at Luhmühlen last summer and she was being targeted at Badminton again this year. “It would have been her seventh time there, and it would have been great to produce another good result and then retire her on the last day,” Sam says, but it wasn’t to be. With the pandemic bringing everything to a shuddering halt, even another run at Burghley was out of the question, so Sam and Dinah talked it through and decided enough was enough.

“Dinah’s had horses with me for 20 years now and she’s a proper owner. She does everything for the love of the horses and never wants to push them. The most important thing for her is that they come home safe. Brocks was starting to feel her age; she had a lot of miles on the clock and she didn’t owe anyone anything. She still looks a treat, so although I was upset to see her leaving, I’m really pleased that a horse of her calibre finishes her career happy and sound,” says Sam.

“At the end of day, she’s retiring fit and healthy, and she deserves it. I think it would have been tempting fate to do any more – I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to her,” Dinah points out. “She’s 100 percent sound and there’s not a blemish on her; that’s wonderful to see,” agrees Paula, who is planning to get Brocks settled before turning her out for a summer of complete freedom so that she switches off from competition mode.

Because as one chapter of her life comes to an end, another may be about to begin. It won’t be anytime soon, but it’s just possible another star could be born in the stable where Brocks was foaled.

They are only talking about it in whispers now, but for Dinah and Paula in particular, that would be the stuff of dreams.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

FEI European Championships in Olympic & Paralympic Disciplines Cancelled for 2021

The FEI European Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of Jumping, Eventing, Dressage, and Para Dressage will not be held in 2021 due to the revised dates for the Tokyo Games next year. European Championships in the non-Olympic disciplines will still be organised in 2021.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest had been due to play host to five disciplines next summer – Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage, Driving, and Vaulting – from 23 August to 5 September. However, the proximity of the Championships to the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games has meant that it is no longer feasible to run Jumping, Dressage, and Para Dressage. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations of the first FEI European Driving Championships in Budapest back in 1971, the Organisers will maintain both Driving and Vaulting next year.

The FEI European Eventing Championships 2021 were scheduled to take place from 11-15 August at Haras du Pin (FRA), venue for the Eventing test of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, but the decision has been made to cancel the Championships following the postponement of Tokyo 2020.

The new dates for the Tokyo Olympic Games are 23 July to 8 August 2021 and the Paralympic Games will run from 24 August through to 5 September 2021.

The FEI Board has agreed that the bid process for the European Championships 2021 in these four disciplines will not be reopened, as all organisers would face the same challenges of trying to host major Championships so close to the Tokyo Games.

“Together with the Organising Committees of both Budapest and Haras du Pin, as well as the Hungarian and French National Federations, we have examined every possible option to try and save the Championships in 2021,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but we have reached the regrettable decision that it simply is not possible to have these important events so close to the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.

“While there are some nations that have enough horsepower to send strong teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and also to the European Championships across the four disciplines, we have to offer a level playing field to all eligible countries and we simply cannot do that in this case, so we have agreed that the focus should be on Tokyo next year.

“Of course, it is desperately disappointing to lose these Championships from the 2021 Calendar, but we will continue to support Budapest with their double Europeans for Driving and Vaulting.”

The FEI Secretary General has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar and is currently chairing the eight discipline-specific Task Forces that have been set up to seek ways of mitigating the effect of the current Covid-19 pandemic on the FEI Calendar, including the knock-on effects into 2021.

“It was the very first time that a Central European country had won the opportunity to organise the prestigious FEI multidiscipline European Championships, Dorottya Stróbl, Member of the Managing Board of the Budapest Organising Committee and Secretary General of the Hungarian National Federation, said. “We strongly believed that the event would serve as a high motivation for the owners and sponsors in Hungary and in the neighbouring countries and promote the sport towards the elite level, but we understand that the significant challenges of holding major FEI Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines in the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has meant that unfortunately cancellation was inevitable. However, we will continue to work to ensure the very highest level of FEI Driving and Vaulting European sport in Budapest next year.”

Valérie Moulin, President of the Ustica Organising Committee at Haras du Pin, also expressed her disappointment: “We are very disappointed that the rescheduling of Tokyo 2020 has led to the cancellation of the Championships in Haras du Pin, but unfortunately we were unable to find alternative dates outside August 2021. We had gathered a lot of local partners and we were financially invested. All riders counted on this date; nevertheless, we understand that the situation has changed over the last months with the postponement of the Olympic Games. We have made a proposal to the FEI about potentially hosting the Championships in 2023 and we look forward to hearing about that.”

Discussions around other FEI Championships, including the Europeans in 2023, will be held during next month’s FEI Board videoconference meeting, which is set for 23-25 June.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

FEI Board Approves Resolutions Based on Calendar Task Forces Proposals

The FEI Board held an extraordinary meeting 27 April 2020 to review proposals from six of the discipline-specific Calendar Task Forces. Discussions at the meeting, which was held via videoconference, were on Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Vaulting, and Reining.

During the meeting, the FEI Board agreed that discussions and decisions on FEI Championships for all age categories and disciplines, and potential initiatives to help Organisers, will be deferred to its June meeting.

National Federations and Organisers whose Calendar date applications/modifications have been approved by the FEI during the Covid-19 period have been informed that no guarantee of exclusivity will be provided to them for the new Calendar dates and that equal consideration of all future Calendar date applications/modifications will be given by the relevant Calendar Task Force and by the FEI Board.

Other key takeaways from the meeting are:

Jumping: Due to the uncertainty about the organisation of Competitions worldwide during July and August 2020, the Board has approved all Calendar date applications/modifications for Jumping Events that take place up to and including 30 August 2020. No date clash rules will apply for this period.

Dressage: date applications and/or modifications for high level events (CDI5*/CDI4*/CDI3* and CDI-W) must reach the FEI eight weeks prior to the event. Date clash rules will not apply to CDI3*.

Eventing: date applications and/or modifications for CCI5* & CCI4* Long Format must reach the FEI six weeks prior to the event; date applications and/or modifications for CCI4* Short Format and all other Events must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Driving: date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Vaulting: date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Reining: date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Detailed information on resolutions for each discipline are available here.

The Dressage Calendar Task Force held its second meeting 28 April to review applications received for higher-level events. The Jumping Calendar Task Force will hold its third meeting on 4 May 2020, followed by Eventing’s second meeting on 14 May when its Task Force will review applications for higher-level event date changes.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Faith Eventing Spring to Summer Cross Training during COVID-19

Genevieve Faith and Burned You Too.

Annandale, MN (April 24, 2020) – With spring on the horizon and the show season in limbo, Faith Eventing is applying the meaning behind their namesake to its training programs: having faith in the future. Earmarked by an upbeat outlook and a resolute conviction to her passion, Genevieve Faith, who founded Faith Eventing in 2015, is beginning to look towards the summer show season and preparing her own horses and clients’ for whatever June, July, and August may hold. While adhering to social distancing and the highest safety standards in her own home base and at client barns, Faith Eventing has begun a spring to summer cross training.

As an experienced Intermediate/CCI-3-star competitor, Faith has built relationships with owners and trainers between her training and teaching schedule in Minnesota and Florida. Her philosophy focuses on accentuating a horse’s strong points while providing support and confidence in new or problematic areas, which has yielded success in all three phases. Her own horses include those she has trained herself through the FEI divisions, and she specializes in troubleshooting issues with young, green, or rehabbing horses, as well as those just transitioning to eventing, new disciplines, or coming off the track. Her own mare, Burned You Too (aka Maggie) came to Faith as a 4-year-old off the track and has developed into an exceptional Advanced eventing prospect.

With COVID-19 looming over all human and horse interactions, Faith has revamped her training structure to include video and other digital mediums to stay in touch with clients, as well as training packages to provide the most value. Tune ups, maintenance rides, or progressive training in dressage, show jumping, or cross country: Faith Eventing’s menu of training options has something for any horse.

“We’ve already been essentially quarantined for the past month at my barn,” said Faith. “While haul-in lessons aren’t really viable, I’ve made a point of being extra careful when riding at any 3rd party barns, bringing new horses in for training, or just riding in general as now is not a good time to take up hospital resources. But keeping the horses fit and happy is an important part of the balance; whether it’s just to stretch their legs or to work in the indoor as they’ve been cooped up all winter, it’s great for their mental and physical health. We are looking forward to getting back to the wide-open spaces.”

Based out of Annandale, Minnesota, Genevieve Faith has racked up an impressive list of success as an aspiring international eventer. Founding Faith Eventing in 2014, she purchased her main campaign horse, Burned You Too (aka Maggie) as a 4-year-old and trained the mare herself, with direction from Olympic and international equestrians. Genevieve was a working student for 1988 Olympian Jane Sleeper in 2014, and was also part of the Junior Development Rider Program (JDRP) with Olympian Becky Holder from 2011 to 2016. Genevieve has studied and trained with William Fox-Pitt, Janet Foy, Kama Godek, Lucinda Green, J. P. Sheffield, Leslie Law, Jon Holling, Alison Springer, Holly Payne-Caravella, Tik Manyard, Bobby Meyeroff, Natalia Martin, and Rachel McDonough. She and Maggie have competed through the Intermediate Level with plans to make her Advanced debut in 2020. With a steady clientele of owners and students, Genevieve splits her time between Minnesota and Ocala, Florida.

For more information on Faith Eventing, visit www.FaithEventing.com.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Join Us for the Virtual LRK3DE This Week

USEF Network is proud to host the first-ever #LRK3DE Virtual Event so you don’t have to miss the #BestWeekendAllYear. Access the full library of broadcast shows from the archives (1998-2019), winning rounds from all three phases over the years, on-demand full-length competitions, plus all new athlete interviews, special #LRK3DE memories, ride reviews, and more.

Tune in now to watch all of your favorite #LRK3DE moments. Plus, don’t miss the Facebook Live Cross-Country Day hosted by John Kyle on Saturday, April 25.

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