Category Archives: Community/Charity

Meet Xavier: Young Rider Magazine’s Fall 2020 Cover Model

Photo courtesy of Bethany P Photography.

Wellington, FL (September 18, 2020) – Fall 2020 Young Rider magazine’s cover model has serious X factor: it’s even in his name. Xavier Gomez and his handsome mount shot to the spotlight this September on one of the nation’s biggest youth equestrian magazines. An avid equitation and hunter jumper rider, Xavier’s feature highlights his own mindset on riding and competing, as well as his plans to continue this X factor success into the hunter, jumper, and equitation arenas through the end of 2020 and 2021.

As a rider of Colombian and Dominican decent, Xavier breaks the mold in terms of your average equestrian, but the real individuality comes from his own passion and dedication to his horses and the sport. With the support of his father, Jose Gomez of Wellington Agricultural Services, Xavier trains daily with Kobi Rhodes of Kobi’s Place Stables in Wellington, Florida, striving for perfection in the saddle. In equitation, this perfection is a product of practice and precision, and Xavier’s hours of work are a testament to his own passion and perseverance. “I love riding, and especially jumping,” said Xavier. “But to be the best jumper I can be, I know position and effectiveness is everything. Really focusing on my equitation has been my goal and under the guidance of Kobi I’m excited to see how far I can go.”

The 16-year-old has his sights set on the 3’6″ Dover Hunt Seat Medal Final along with the Maclay Championship. Xavier also has a number of wins under his belt following shows resuming after the COVID lockdown, including winning both the ASPCA Medal and Maclay at the ESP Summer III in late August aboard Elios, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Michael Deitrich. Elios was imported in August of 2019 and will be his main mount for his equitation campaign. In addition, Xavier is pursuing an out-of-the-saddle modeling career with the assistance of national representation.

Follow Xavier on Instagram (@xavier_.gomez).

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Patrick McNamara Shines for a Cause in Kevin Babington Benefit Classic

Patrick McNamara (IRL) and Billy Onslow soar over the Dalman Jump Co.-designed “Jump for Kevin” wall en route to winning the $5,000 Kevin Babington Benefit Classic at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography.

September 7, 2020 — For one memorable evening at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament in Traverse City, MI (USA), a tremendous group of supporters rallied to honor international show jumper Kevin Babington (IRL) with the Kevin Babington Benefit Classic. The charitable competition, in which the entirety of the $5,000 purse was donated to the Kevin Babington Family Trust, resulted in a meaningful win for fellow Irishman Patrick McNamara and Billy Onslow.

Babington, an Olympic veteran and team gold medalist from the 2001 European Championships, suffered a life-altering injury at the 2019 Hampton Classic. More than $1 million has been raised in the year since to support Babington and his family with the high costs associated with his ongoing rehabilitation. Jeff Papows, Founder of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, has been a key contributor, setting up the “I Ride for Kevin” program, in which exhibitors can donate a percentage of their prize money to the cause at various competitions around the country.

“Because Kevin is so beloved [in the industry], every time I’ve raised my hand to do anything in his name, people sort of rush to help,” Papows said. “We wanted to do this, not just for the continued sort-of-financial reasons, but [also because] Kevin is still very invested in the sport, as is the whole family. That was the point of the class. Kevin taped an introduction for the class, and I think it’s a little bit of a morale boost for Kevin while he’s working so hard with his recovery.”

The Kevin Babington Benefit Classic featured 22 horse and rider combinations, all of which sported a green lapel pin to commemorate Babington. The field included international stalwarts Shane Sweetnam (IRL), David Blake (IRL), Alison Robitaille (USA), and Vasco Flores (PUR), along with Babington’s daughter Gwyneth and wife Dianna.

“It was important for us to show everyone that we’re here, and we appreciate [all the support],” Dianna said.

Ultimately, McNamara and Phoebe Backman’s Billy Onslow came away with a most memorable win. Jumping halfway through the class, McNamara and the 14-year-old chestnut gelding took nearly two seconds off the leading time and held on through the remainder of the competition.

“It was great to be involved in such a great cause for Kevin,” McNamara said. “I’m so happy that this class was in aid of him. Thankfully enough, it worked out [for me] — the plan and everything — [and] it was an Irish win!”

© 2020 Catie Staszak Media, Inc.

Hampton Classic & EQUUS Foundation Present a Day Devoted to Equine Adoption

Thanks to the Hampton Classic and the sponsor of this event, our EQUUStar, Georgina Bloomberg, this joyful, annual Hampton Classic tradition of celebrating and showcasing horses in need of their next chapter continues.

Because all horses are champions to us, and because all horses deserve safe and loving homes, we are excited to present just some wonderful equines that are waiting for their chance to go home.

The virtual format of our event this year gives us the opportunity to showcase adoptable horses from our Guardian charities both locally and across the country.

“While we are disappointed that we won’t see you in person again this year to meet adoptable horses at the beautiful Hampton Classic Horse Show,” said Valerie Angeli, EQUUS Foundation VP of Engagement, “our virtual equine adoption event on September 14th will showcase horses of all breeds, ages, sizes and disciplines throughout the country with one thing in common — they are all waiting for a loving forever home.”

The EQUUUS Foundation Next Chapters platform featuring adoptable equines of EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities located throughout the nation will serve as the backdrop. Please save the date and join us to learn about adoptable horses and our Guardian charities that rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, and re-home America’s horses to keep them safe and loved. Over 65,000 horses were transported across our borders for slaughter last year. Tens of thousands more abused and neglected horses are in need of rescue and re-homing each year. Even more horses are in need of transition once their sporting career is over. Most are young, healthy, and have untapped potential like Xin Xu Lin.

Meet Xin Xu Lin

Godolphin Racing had really high hopes for Xin Xu Lin when he was purchased in 2011, having been recognized as Brazil’s Horse of the Year in 2010.

Sadly, the racing career for the 2007 Thoroughbred did not work out, but misfortune turned to fortune when Xin Xu Lin was donated to EQUUS Foundation Guardian charity, Secretariat Center, in 2013 to be retrained and re-homed.

Xin Xu Lin found his forever home in Maryland where he competes in dressage and show jumping.

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.

Nilforushan Equisport Events Donates to COVID-19 Relief and Helmet Safety

Photo: Captured Moment Photography.

Temecula, Calif. – Aug. 3, 2020 – The entire team at Nilforushan Equisport Events (NEE) is so appreciative of all of its exhibitors and hardworking staff that made the Temecula Valley National Summer Series, presented by Interactive Mortgage, a success from June 24-28 and June 30 – July 4. It is because of the dedication that everyone showed to following the appropriate COVID-19 protocol and the collective sacrifice of the group that NEE has been able to donate money to worthy causes such as the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Helmet Safety Research Campaign, in partnership with US Equestrian and the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association. Without ribbons to hand out, plus the funds raised from raffle items, NEE was able to divide a total of $10,000 between the two organizations to help pay it forward in the equestrian community thanks to its supporters.

“We all know that times are different right now due to COVID-19, and to keep everyone safe and healthy we had to make a few changes to our show operations for the Temecula Valley National Summer Series. Although we were sad not to be able to hand out ribbons to our riders, especially the children, those sacrifices by our exhibitors allowed us to conserve funds that we are excited to put back into the equestrian community. We can’t thank everyone enough for their cooperation, and we hope that this money will help to do some good in the horse show world we all know and love. It is our hope that we can continue to do more good work like this going forward,” commented Ali Nilforushan, founder of Nilforushan Equisport Events.

Thanks, in part, to the money raised from three items donated by BioXcellerator and Casa del Mar Golf Resort & Spa that were raffled off during the final weekend of the show, NEE has pledged $5,000 to the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund is specifically aimed to help support horse show workers, such as grooms, braiders, show secretaries, ring crew, and many more, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the health of the equestrian community is of paramount importance right now, safety is a part of the sport that should always be improving. With that in mind, NEE is additionally donating $5,000 to the Helmet Safety Research Campaign, which supports the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab’s research to improve helmets used by equestrians. The research will study head impact and concussion risk in an equestrian environment via lab settings and field video data on a variety of equestrian events, with significant attention to jumping, where many injuries occur. The campaign is inching closer to its $450,000 goal, which recently took a huge leap forward thanks to the generous $100,000 donation by the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association.

NEE encourages anyone who has the means to do so to donate to the cause. To donate to the Helmet Safety Research campaign to help Virginia Tech reach the funding goal of $450,000, click here.

NEE is happy to be able to make some contributions to the equestrian community via these donations, as well as through the Trainer Incentive Program that took place during the Temecula Valley National Summer Series. During the show, two percent (2%) of sales from a trainer’s barn were returned to the trainers who participated. NEE hopes these funds will be helpful in allowing trainers to keep working with their clients and traveling the horse show circuit with a bit less stress.

Nilforushan Equisport Events is a horse-show management company owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Ali and Francie Nilforushan. Their mission is to produce world-class events that will make California a top show jumping destination, attract local residents to a number of entertainment experiences including world-class performances and film nights, as well as fine dining. Exhibitors can expect great sport, a first class VIP area and affordable showing options thanks to the inventive style of the Nilforushan management team.

For more information, please visit www.jump-nee.com.

US Equestrian & USET Foundation Join Giving Games Fundraising Effort Aimed to Support US Athletes

Lexington, KY – US Equestrian and the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation have announced their joint participation in a collaborative and creative fundraising campaign launched by Olympic & Paralympic National Governing Bodies (NGB) titled the Giving Games. The Giving Games’ ultimate goal is to support and sustain U.S. athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, which have been postponed to the summer of 2021.

U.S. athletes rely heavily on their NGB organizations to financially assist with training and preparation needs, and many athletes are facing financial hardships and challenging obstacles due to the significant number of domestic and international competition cancellations so far this year. Joining 20 other NGBs within the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic movement, US Equestrian and USET Foundation will partake in the multi-week fundraiser beginning Friday, July 24, and running through August 9, 2020, the original window of this summer’s now postponed Games.

The philanthropic effort is multi-faceted with varying donation opportunities, including pooled funds and direct giving opportunities to the USET Foundation. All funds raised will be received via direct donation or equally divided among participating organizations in order to support their athletes’ needs as they prepare for an additional year of training as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic postponement.

Fans and supporters of U.S. equestrian high performance athletes, US Equestrian, and USET Foundation can contribute to the Giving Games in the following ways beginning Friday, July 24:

  • Donate directly to the USET Foundation to help support our equestrian athletes. Every dollar raised up to $50,000 will be matched by a generous supporter of the Foundation, doubling the amount that our equestrians will receive in their quest for the podium in 2021. In addition, donors will have a chance to be entered into the “Medal of Giving” awards, recognizing the top three cumulative donors based on donations received by August 9, 2020.
  • Donate to the Giving Games pooled funds by participating in Giving Game promotions and events which will be launched throughout the promotion period and divided equally amongst participating NGBs.
  • Text ‘GIVINGGAMES’ to 243725.

The Giving Games effort has partnered with notable brands, corporations, and businesses including BuzzFeed and Omaze to create unique and exciting ways for fans and supporters to continue contributing to the Giving Games effort, which will be announced in the coming week.

To learn more about the Giving Games, please visit giving-games.com.

Learn more at www.uset.org.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Horse Businesses Need to Do a SWOT Analysis NOW

Webinar: How to Do a SWOT Analysis for Your Horse Business and Why You Need to Do It NOW

Date: August 17, 2020
Time: 5:30 PM Pacific, 7:30 PM Central, 8:30 PM Eastern
Place: Attend via Your Phone or Computer

With the Coronavirus came rapid change.  Not only are we operating our horse businesses with a global pandemic as the backdrop, the latest economic reports indicate that the economy (after plummeting drastically) is not likely to return to 2019 levels for 3-5 years. The quick bounce-back to normal simply is not happening.

Many of you have made quick changes to your businesses to adapt to the necessary conditions of the pandemic. Now, it is time to prepare your business for both the lasting effects of the pandemic and the economic forecast.

In our upcoming webinar we will take you through how to use a SWOT Analysis to assist you in starting a strategic plan for your business.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  This business tool is extremely useful when there are complex issues that need to be addressed quickly.

Utilizing a SWOT Analysis is the first step in a series of steps that we believe must be taken soon. We hope you’ll join us.

WEBINAR REPLAY: Rethinking the Horse Business 2020 – Special Summer Update

This Special Update of Rethinking the Horse Business provides vital information for horse professionals about the state of the horse industry, the social and economic climate, and how the equestrian marketplace has been affected by the Coronavirus. Listen to the replay here.

Equestrian Professional
https://www.equestrianprofessional.com/

Meet the Entrepreneurs behind Young Black Equestrians the Podcast

Caitlin Gooch speaking to a group of students involved in Saddle Up and Read.

After spending just five minutes in conversation with Abriana Johnson and Caitlin Gooch, it’s likely that you’re going to want to be their fast friends.

Abriana and Caitlin’s positivity, sense of humor, passion for horses, and incredible entrepreneurial energy are contagious and quickly make you want to hear more about what the two inspiring equestrians have to say. Fortunately, you can, thanks to Abriana and Caitlin’s Young Black Equestrians podcast.

The two riders, both hailing from North Carolina, launched the podcast in 2019 to share “the ins and outs of equine culture with an extra dose of melanin” and have since recorded more than 45 episodes. However, it’s not Abriana or Caitlin’s only passion project.

Caitlin is also the founder of Saddle Up and Read, a 501(c)(3) non-profit literacy program that encourages children to read through equine-related activities. Abriana is the author of the Cowgirl Camryn book series, and together the girls have launched other projects, including the Black Equestrian Network.

Contact: Jump Media
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Old Friends Named Beneficiary of Charity for Champions Campaign

GEORGETOWN, KY – JULY 17, 2020 – Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international events, and Maker’s Mark®, the original premium bourbon, announced the 2020 Limited-Edition Maker’s Mark bottle from the Charity for Champions program, which began in 2015, with the goal of raising money for Thoroughbred industry charities.

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, is once again proud to be named, for the fifth consecutive year, one of the official charity beneficiaries.

Home to such Breeders’ Cup Champions as Alphabet Soup (1996 Classic), Eldaafer (2010 Marathon), Little Mike (2012 Turf), and Amazombie (2011 Sprint), Old Friends cares for over 200 retired Thoroughbreds in six locations.

In addition to Old Friends, proceeds from the 2020 auction will support the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America’s COVID-19 relief efforts supporting industry stakeholders most in need.

The latest collection of limited-edition Maker’s Mark® bottles will feature James E. “Ted” Bassett III, a former Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup President who has long been regarded as Thoroughbred Racing’s Gentleman Ambassador.

“Old Friends is honored to team up with the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America to pay tribute to Ted Bassett,” said Old Friends President and founder Michael Blowen. “Mr. Bassett, who has visited Old Friends on numerous occasions, is an enthusiastic supporter. His ambassadorship on behalf of these great Thoroughbreds is unparalleled and we are overjoyed that Breeders’ Cup and Maker’s Mark are saluting him with this magnificent bottle.”

The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, KY.

Bottles can be reserved for a donation of $400, and fans can secure bottles now through the Charity for Champions page: CLICK HERE.

Bottle fulfillment and pickup information will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

New Features on Showhorse TV This Summer

©ESI Photograhpy.

HITS and Showhorse TV are excited to announce expanded Live Stream and Video Services to be introduced at HITS Saugerties during the Great American Summer Series presented by Alliant Private Client. Every ring will be streamed live at Showhorse.tv, and videos will be archived and accessible for a full year.

“In an effort to minimize the number of people on the showgrounds this summer, HITS has arranged to live stream from every ring, every day,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc. “During these very unique times, this allows all of us to help deliver the safest showing experience possible. You and others will be able to access these videos at any time for the next 12 months.” Each week, exhibitors at HITS Saugerties will receive a code to access the live stream and archived videos. The code will be available in Show Office.

Remember, every ring is being live streamed every day. Just create your User Account at Showhorse.tv and enter the code provided by the Show Office and you can watch and re-watch every round from the show.  With Showhorse TV, you’ll never miss out on watching any of the featured classes at HITS Saugerties the Summer.

1) Log in to your account at Showhorse.tv OR create a new account.  Creating the account is FREE.  Just enter a Username and Password on the Showhorse.tv website.

2) Go to Showhorse.tv/discover.

3) Select any “Live Stream” or to re-watch a recorded class choose “Video” for the week you were in attendance.

4) When the Purchase Screen appears, enter the event Promo Code supplied by Show Office for that week.

5) Share the code with friends and family.  Anyone can use the code to access all Live Stream and Video Archives – they’ll just need to create a FREE Showhorse TV account.

Please Note: The Option to enter Promo Code to unlock “Live Streams” and “Recorded Rounds” is only available on the Showhorse TV website (Showhorse.tv/discover), not the Showhorse TV app. After having done so, they will be unlocked and available on the app as well.

More information at HITSShows.com.

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam, Legend Edition: Nick Skelton

What was the first Major you competed in? How did you do?

Well, I first won the Grand Prix in Geneva in 1978; before it was a Rolex class [ndlr: Skelton won 9 Majors in total].

How did it feel to win your first Major?

As anybody would, it was incredibly exciting. I was very pleased and incredibly happy to be winning them. I had some very good horses in those days. Apollo won two Grands Prix at CHIO Aachen, and then I won the Aachen Grand Prix in 1982 with a horse called Everest If Ever. Lastly, Big Star won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen in 2013 when it was part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, so I became the Rolex live contender.

Is there a difference in feeling when you enter the arena of a Rolex Grand Prix at a Major, compared to other Shows?

CHIO Aachen was always a great place to ride; even back in the ’80s it was always packed with crowd; there was always a great atmosphere. Winning the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen is an incredible feat for any rider to win. It’s probably one of the hardest ones to win, along with Calgary.

Which was your favourite Major to compete in?

I think probably every rider would agree with me in saying that CHIO Aachen is the best Major to compete in; it is like the Wimbledon of Show Jumping or like the Masters in golf; it is the pinnacle of the sport. I think most riders would say this.

Do you think it takes a special and unique type of horse to win one of the Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

Of course, they are big courses and there’s a lot of pressure with the big crowds of spectators that they attract. Riders also put a lot of pressure on themselves, as they are the most important Grands Prix to win.

How has the sport of Show Jumping changed throughout your career?

It’s changed a huge amount; one of the main things I notice now is the time allowed. Nowadays you have to jump the courses a lot quicker than you used to. I watched the video back recently, I think from 1987 when I won a Grand Prix with Apollo: the time allowed was 102 seconds; nowadays you’re in the same field with the same amount of fences, but the time allowed now ranges from 82 and 84 seconds. So, you need to be roughly twenty seconds quicker than what you needed to be all those years ago. The fences come at you quicker nowadays. There are often more fences in a modern course, despite the rings being so small; they now fit around 13 jumps into even the smallest rings. That is added pressure on the horses as they have to jump quicker and more obstacles than they did back in those days.

Would you say that it’s now more important to have a bigger string of horses, rather than one top horse?

Absolutely, there’s a lot more shows now, with a big Grand Prix happening every week somewhere in Europe. So, you need a lot more horses and the high-quality ones are difficult to find, and that’s why they’re expensive.

How did the introduction of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping enhance the sport?

It’s a very good concept; it’s incredibly difficult to win. I suppose back in the day I would have done it; I think I won those Grands Prix, some of them all in the same year. Scott Brash is the only rider to have done it; it is difficult to win two of those in a season, let alone three or four, so it’s an amazing accomplishment. I think overall, it’s made the sport more competitive, with riders striving to get to the pinnacle of Show Jumping, which is the Rolex Grand Slam.

You competed for so many years, did you still get nervous ahead of big competitions towards the end?

I don’t think I got nervous; all riders get a little bit apprehensive before an important ride because you want to do well. If somebody said that they didn’t feel anything, I’d say they were lying. Riders feel emotions because they want to do well. It’s more adrenaline than nervousness I’d say. I can only speak for myself, but once you start the course, I never noticed anything going on in the ring or anything going on around me. I suppose that’s synonymous with most athletes. I imagine when playing at Wimbledon, tennis players concentrate on what they’re doing and so can’t hear the crowd; it was the same for me.

You had some tough moments in your career – what gave you the drive to keep going?

I always had some young horses that were coming through, so during my injuries, it made me look forward to producing and developing that young horse, which made me want to come back stronger. I had Arko and then Big star, so I always had a couple of good young horses coming along that I thought were going to be good enough, which gave me the drive to come back. But I knew that after Big Star, that I was never going to find any horse that was going to be as good as him again, and also I was getting on a bit in terms of my age, and considering what I’d won up to that point, I knew it was the right time to hang my boots up, especially considering my back was playing up a bit and Big Star wasn’t as sound as he once was. The time was right.

I think we know the answer to this, but which horse was your horse of a lifetime?

Big Star, no doubt. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve had some great horses. It’s very difficult to decide which of them was better, but he was the outstanding one. I’ve had some incredible ones over my time, horses like Dollar Girl, St James, Apollo, Tinka’s boy, Top Gun, Carlo. Some of the best horses in the world at that time, but Big Star was an incredibly special horse, and I’m incredibly grateful to have ridden him.

When you first started riding Big Star, did you know that he was something special?

I knew; he was different gravy. There was something about him from the first ride. I knew he was different, that he was special.

What is Big Star up to now? Do you still jump him at home?

He goes to stud breeding, then he comes home; we try to keep him as fit as we can. We do a bit of jumping and hacking. He is spoilt and enjoying his retirement.

What parts of competing do you miss the most and least?

Winning is what I miss the most! I miss travelling the least, although I am still doing a fair amount of it with our students and Laura. I do miss taking part. Sometimes I’m watching, thinking to myself, “This is a big Grand Prix; wouldn’t it be nice to be out there competing?” But I was and am satisfied with what I accomplished throughout my career. I’m not the kind of person that looks back and has any regrets.

With new generations starting to climb the ranks in professional Show Jumping, e.g. Peter Charles’ son Harry – what is your advice to them?

The art of the game is picking the right horses, the ones that can take you to the top. You do have to be able to ride them though, but getting the best ones is the most important thing.

Which rider inspired you the most?

There are lots that have ridden and are still riding. I would say currently you could look at Scott Brash, Steve Guerdat, and the Philippaerts boys, but there are so many good riders out there nowadays that are all inspiring.

How have you kept the horses in training during lockdown?

We’ve just been doing it at home; we’ve built courses at home for the students and once a week we’ll pick a course and practice; it’s been quite entertaining and I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve never spent this much time at home, so the lockdown hasn’t been too big of a problem for me.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam