Tag Archives: featured

Champion Hurdle Challengers to Epatante Have Questions to Answer

The Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival remains the richest prize over the smaller obstacles in National Hunt horse racing, but there is a feeling in recent years that it is not so competitive as it once was. Epatante, who won the race in 2020, was one of the few in the division to have made real progress throughout last season and ran out a worthy winner.

Just as she was fancied for the Champion Hurdle by tipsters then, she will be again barring injury because her rivals all have question marks hanging over them. Epatante heads the betting at 7/2 as a result, and we will know more about what shape she is in for a defence of her crown following likely runs in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

While trainer Nicky Henderson sticks to that tried and tested path for preparing his horses for the Champion Hurdle, two of the leading Irish contenders have both suffered early season defeats. Abacadabras was denied by Epatante’s very game stable companion Shishkin in the Supreme at Cheltenham in March and was again just bested on his return in the WKD Hurdle by Aspire Tower.

However, Gordon Elliott’s charge made up for those defeats when just hanging on in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. In just prevailing there, Abacadabras was again weak at the finish but still somehow able to beat the promising Saint Roi, who like Epatante is owned by J. P. McManus.

Saint Roi is top Irish trainer Willie Mullins’ best Champion Hurdle chance, according to the betting, following a very taking success at Cheltenham in the County Hurdle during the Festival. Although winning a Grade 3 on his return to action, the young pretender went down fighting in the Morgiana.

It is easy to criticise jockeys when a horse doesn’t win, but Mark Walsh may not have given Saint Roi the best tactical ride at Punchestown, opting for the narrow inner path after jumping the last rather than taking a clear run down the outside. There is little between this horse and Abacadabras, then.

As for other British-trained Champion Hurdle contenders, Gary Moore’s Goshen is on a mission for compensation after unseating his rider when well clear at the final flight in the Triumph Hurdle. Four-year-olds can often struggle in their first campaign in open company, however.

Buveur D’Air is a two-time Champion Hurdle winner, but on the comeback trail for Henderson and McManus following a gruesome and career-threatening injury during the 2019-20 season. Those same connections will hope nothing so unfortunate befalls Epatante in the Fighting Fifth as part of a hurdle puncturing a hoof as happened to her stable companion last year.

Now another year older, Buveur D’Air may be vulnerable to younger horses with more scope for progress. It will be interesting to see how he gets on when making his return to action, and there will be lots of goodwill coming the way of this old favourite.

All the while, Epatante has done nothing wrong. She doesn’t have these questions against her name and there may still be even more to come en route to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, so watch this space.

Nutrena Young Horse Show Finals Sees Record Entries

Photo: ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – December 1, 2020 – The 2020 edition of the Nutrena® Young Horse Show Finals presented by Spy Coast Farm welcomed a record 130 entries to Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort (TIEC) November 5-8, 2020, showcasing the future of American-bred sport horses, ranging from yearlings to five years old. From in-hand and liberty classes to jump-chute, under saddle and over fences competition, the young equine athletes were evaluated over four days in a safe and educational environment intended to support and promote American sport horse breeders across many breeds and disciplines.

Jean Yves Tola, the organizer of the Young Horse Show (YHS) Series, was thrilled with the “largest turn out so far” of the series’ tenth year of competition since inception. Despite a no-spectators mandate due to COVID-19 and strong safety measure in place, the enthusiasm for young sport horses remained unaffected, he reported.

“It was a great way to end our 10-year anniversary season,” he recapped. “The overall quality [of entries] keeps climbing every year, making this competition noteworthy. The live stream addition this year was fantastic too, as it allowed us to reach an audience beyond the United States. We had buyers, breeders, and owners tuning in from around the world. We’re very much looking forward to 2021!”

Sara McCormick of Orchid Hill Farm was a first-time competitor in the YHS Finals, adding the Finals to her competition calendar after a friend’s recommendation. McCormick brought her stallion, “Jimmy” [Orchard Hill’s Finer by Far], who is a third-generation foal for her. She was excited to experience the YHS Series as she’d “never actually done anything like the Young Horse Show.”

“I wanted to bring him out into a different venue than he’s been in before. He actually showed on the line last year for the Young Pony Hunter Breeding in the USEF stuff. Last year, he won Best Young Pony at Devon, and was first at Upperville. I had plans to get him out this year, but because of COVID, Devon and Upperville were cancelled. I decided to bring him home and then bred him to five mares. One of my friends was coming to this, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s take him!’ It’s been a lot of fun. I hope to bring a few more next year and see how it goes. It’s something for the young horses to do, and a new venue for them.”

McCormick noted that being able to connect with her friends and fellow breeders she knows online, but has never met in person, was a highlight for her:

“I loved meeting and seeing so many people who I know on social media, but haven’t put two eyes on. We met a lot of different people who were interested in the stallion and interested in what we’re doing, too. Everyone was really nice. Breeders benefit [from the Young Horse Show] because people get to see horses bred in the U.S. and the quality of the horses bred here in a more European setting. They can really view the animals and their different styles.”

View all Finals results here.

To learn more, visit www.Tryon.com.

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester Are Better of Two Deslauriers Duos in Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 29, 2020 – The first week of the ESP Holiday Series concluded on a high note on Sunday, November 29, with the $214,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*, presented by Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Sunday’s challenging class saw an elite group of four pairs rise to the top as the only jump-off returners, two of which were family members in the form of Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Mario Deslauriers (CAN). Besting her father and the rest of the international pack as the youngest competitor in the class, 21-year-old Lucy jumped mother Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester to the top of the leaderboard, making it a true family affair with mother, father, and daughter all represented in the top of the standings.

“I just have so much gratitude for my horse,” commented Lucy on Hester, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker. “At the beginning of the week, I definitely felt a little bit rusty. I’ve actually been at school for the last two months, so this was my first week back in the show ring. I think the result is just a testament to my horse and our team because they’ve kept my horses in shape and kept him ready to go for when I got here. Huge thanks to them. I’m so happy!”

Sunday’s feature contest attracted 45 horse-and-rider combinations hailing from 11 nations, including the United States, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Egypt. For the first round of riding, course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) constructed a pattern of 17 efforts up to the 1.60m height, a track fit for the occasion of a CSI4* class. It took until the 29th entry in the start list to see a clear round, which came from the younger Deslauriers, Lucy, and Hester as the successful pathfinders. Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve forced a jump-off with their clear round, and Kent Farrington (USA) soon followed suit riding Kaprice. The elder Deslauriers, Mario, turned in the final fault-free ride on Bardolina 2.

“I really had to stay focused and stick to our plan,” noted the winning Deslauriers of her plan in the first round after so many rides with faults from competitors. “We had a pretty clear layout of what I wanted to do and what I needed to do based on what we thought would lead to a clear round, so I couldn’t really think about the fact that nobody had gone clear yet. I really just had to stay super narrow-minded, like tunnel vision almost, toward our plan.”

For the jump-off, D’Ambrosio produced an abridged course of eight fences that featured plenty of options to cut time off the clock with tight turns or quick gallops. First to go, Lucy and Hester once again set the standard with a foot-perfect ride in 35.06 seconds. Though Springsteen and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve (Bamako de Muze x Heartbreaker) put in a valiant effort with no rails down, they missed the top spot by a margin of a second, tripping the timers in 36.21 seconds. The paternal half of the Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 (Clarimo x Landos) went third due to a thrown shoe from Farrington’s Kaprice, and the team continued the clear streak but logged a time of 38.23 seconds to slip into third position with only one left to go. As the final entry, the ever-speedy Farrington galloped Kaprice through the course on pace to test the leaders’ time, but downed a single rail to incur four faults for fourth place.

“I haven’t really gone for it in a jump-off with him,” commented Springsteen, who spent the year in Europe, “so I was going to do a safe and clear ride, then I decided it would be good practice for us to really try and go a little bit. I tried to do as neat of turns as I could. I was really happy with him! He’s amazing – he has all the scope, he’s super careful, and he’s very reliable. Wellington is like home to me, so it’s nice to be back and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

The win is an auspicious start for Lucy’s and Hester’s winter season as they make their return to the show ring following their last competition in Traverse City, MI during the American Gold Cup in September.

“To ride with my daughter is so exciting,” remarked Mario. “We have had a few placings like this – first and second or first and third – so it’s always our goal. I love it when she goes a bit before me so I can concentrate on myself after. I get nervous when she goes so it’s good to get that done first. Our horses jumped great, so we are going to have a good family dinner tonight!”

Lucy mirrored her father’s thoughts on competing as a family, saying, “It’s so much fun. I think it adds fuel to our fire because we want to be more competitive against each other. A one-two finish is the goal, so we just want it even more when we both go clear.” She continued to say that though they are family, their mounts are not similar, meaning different strategies in the class. “We actually have super different horses, so we try to do our own thing and the chips are going to fall where they are. We had a great day, and it goes back to our team – we have such a great group of people and horses.”

On competing back in Wellington under COVID protocols, Mario concluded, “The whole ESP crew is doing a tremendous job. We, as riders, feel very safe. Let’s keep it up for the circuit. It looks great around here.”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

The Cloud Foundation Refuses to Give Up

The Cloud Foundation operates on a very small budget — but while we are small, we are mighty. This year we stepped out in faith because we knew we MUST ACT to stop yet another wipeout of wild horses on public lands.

Right now, we are the only thing standing between the 2,000 wild mustangs of Caliente and the BLM’s plan to eliminate them from one million acres of public lands in Nevada. They will all lose their homes, families, and freedom if we do not succeed.

This is a David and Goliath fight against a government agency. And the lawsuit is coming in at twice what our lawyers projected. That means we need to raise twice as much funding – nearly $50,000.

TCF relies heavily on the generous donations made at this time of year. We work hard to stretch every dollar as far as possible and we’re grateful for the trust you place in us when you donate. It’s especially difficult to ask for donations this year knowing many folks are hitting hard times due to the COVID pandemic.

If you can, we are asking you to donate now for Giving Tuesday. Please understand we have to ask not for ourselves, but for the animals we fight to protect.

The next 24 hours and the following few weeks of the holiday giving season are critical. They will dictate what we can accomplish to keep America’s wild horses and burros safe, wild, and free on our public lands.

Thank you for all that you do — and never ever give up!

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Will Crowds Be Returning to Horse Racing in 2021?

Photo by Carine06 from UK – Champion Hurdle, CC BY-SA 2.0.

2020 has been a rather strange year for many of us due to the global pandemic caused by Covid-19; many industries have been affected because of this, and none more than live sporting events. When it comes to horse racing, they were one of the last events to have a live crowd at Cheltenham, but since then, there have been zero fans at events at all. With the virus finally starting to slow down, we might start to see fans back in 2021 and below we investigate further.

Spectators will return at outdoor events from December 2, with up to 4,000 fans able to return to the racing.

With the UK coming out of lockdown 2.0 on the 2nd of December, the government has now released a plan in terms of the gradual return of supporters back into live events from this date. However, this is all dependent on which tier that specific region is in to see if you are able to return to the live event – these are documented below.

Tier 1, which is notified as a medium risk by the government for the spread of the coronavirus and will allow up to 4,000 socially distanced fans back to live sports from the 2nd of December.

Tier 2, which is notified as high risk by the government will be allowed to have up to 2,000 spectators back at live sporting fans as long as they are socially distanced: half the amount of a Tier 1 region.

However, if you find yourself in a Tier 3 location, unfortunately you will have to wait slightly longer to return to a live sporting event as these areas are highlighted as very high risk and therefore no fans will be allowed back yet.

Of course, this is exciting times for horse racing fans who have certainly missed the buzz of watching and punting on their favourite horses coming down the home stretch. Although the numbers are limited as of now, we expect these numbers to be increased as times go on and specifically when the vaccine have been passed by all the governing bodies.

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McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda Claim $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*

McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 27, 2020 – The ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4* returned to the main stage at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Friday, November 27, with the $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*, presented by Premier Equestrian. Claiming a familiar place at the top of the leaderboard, Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) piloted Noche De Ronda, the horse he co-owns with Marilla Van Beuren and Bob Russell, to the fastest double-clear time of the contest.

Friday’s field included 73 horse-and-rider pairs representing 13 countries, including the United States, Ireland, Switzerland, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Egypt, Chile, Japan, and Russia. Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a 16-effort track for competitors that produced 16 clear rounds from the starting order.

“The jump-off was fast, and it sometimes comes off the way you want,” reflected Ward of his jump-off ride. “I think after the double combination [we made up time]. Bliss’ horse is an incredible jumper and a very fast horse, but doesn’t have the stride that Ronda has, and I was able to do one stride less, maybe two less, across the diagonal after the double combination and for sure one less stride coming home. I think probably those two places most of all helped us. It was one of those jump-offs where the plan just worked.”

Trimmed down to eight fences, the jump-off pattern led to eight teams finishing on a second fault-free ride. Halfway through the class, Daniel Bluman (ISR) held the lead aboard Colestina H, owned by Blue Star Investments and Kim Douglas, with a foot-perfect time of 36.16 seconds. Bliss Heers (USA) inched faster riding Bridgeside Farms LLC’s Antidote De Mars in 35.10 seconds, but the fifth-to-last partnership, Ward and Noche De Ronda, sliced even more time off the clock. The quick pair broke the beam with no faults in 34.26 seconds, a time that proved unbeatable for the remaining contenders. Heers and Antidote De Mars maintained the runner-up spot, followed by Ben Maher (GBR) on Deborah Perkins’ Day Dream in 35.53 seconds.

“Ronda has jumped well this year since Florida in the spring but has had a little bit of an unlucky four-fault streak in a few big grand prix classes though she has been performing well. She has always been great in this ring, and she was really in great form today,” Ward noted of his partner for the class, a 2009 Oldenburg mare by Quintender x Loves Corinth.

Ward and Noche De Ronda’s victory Friday added to their list of successes in Wellington after two grand prix victories in the span of a week in February 2020. The pair topped the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* during Week Five of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival, then six days later earned the victory in the $213,300 Grand Prix CSIO5* during one of two Nations Cup weeks in Wellington.

“She’s going to jump this week and then in two weeks again. We will start back up a little later in the season this spring for some of the bigger classes,” Ward commented on his plans for Noche De Ronda through the remainder of the ESP Holiday Series and the upcoming 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival.

The International Arena’s classes concluded Friday with the $10,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Open Stake, which saw 53 entries in the first round of riding and 13 in the jump-off. As the fifth to go over the short course, Laura Kraut (USA) turned in a quick time of 34.76 seconds on Cherry Knoll Farm Inc’s Haley to take the lead, and their time would be unbeatable. McKayla Langmeier (USA) claimed the second spot riding Linda Langmeier’s Cadence De L’Escaut in a clear time of 34.98 seconds, while Erynn Ballard (CAN) captured third spot with Katherine Benard’s Delirius Del Sol in 35.06 seconds.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Small Occasion Are Big Winners in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Hunter riders took to the ring Friday during the ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4*, which is the first show out of six that make up the ESP Holiday Series. The highlight hunter class of the week, the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Bainbridge, featured 31 entries over courses designed by Jasen Shelley. With two scores nearing the 100-point mark, Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelbourne, VT and Small Occasion, owned by Shadowfax Equestrian LLC, claimed the victory ahead of a high-scoring field.

“She is a famous horse and has won all over the country at the main events,” Hesslink remarked on Small Occasion. “It just so happened that we were lucky enough to fall into place with her this summer for one of my clients, Raina Swani, as her first junior hunter. She is just so much fun. She is a blast and a winner and always puts in 110 percent.”

Following the first round of the class, the cut-off score for the top 12 sat at a lofty 86 points thanks to a series of top performances from exhibitors. Hesslink and Small Occasion, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, led the way with 96 points, earned from a classic score of 92 plus four bonus points for taking the high option fences. Kristy Herrera of Wellington, FL rode Kate Ellis’ Valhalla to second position with 93 points, and last week’s National Derby winner Jimmy Torano of Wellington, FL and Isalou Inc.’s Laskano were not far behind with a score of 92. All told, 10 points separated first position from twelfth place, keeping standings tight headed into the handy round.

“We continued to show through most of the year even with everything going on, so I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well to how things are going now,” Hesslink commented of competing under COVID protocol. “This is sort of our first week back into it, so it was a great start and the horses feel great. They do a nice job here, so we are very excited and happy. It’s nice to be able to show and feel safe. My clients and I have a really top string of hunters and horses for every ring, just like her, and I’m really excited to get the chance to show them and hopefully do well this season.”

In the handy phase, competitors returned in the reverse order of the standings, giving Hesslink and Small Occasion the advantage of going last as the early frontrunners. Torano and Laskano had moved up one spot to hold the lead with only one pair left to go, earning 94 points over the handy course to push them to 186 total points. In the end, Hesslink and Small Occasion retained their status at the top of the scorecard with 93 points to finish on a cumulative two-round score of 189. Torano and Laskano claimed second place, and Herrera captured the final podium spot with Valhalla. Jennifer Bliss of Loxahatchee, FL also had a great day, finishing aboard three horses in the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Fieldstone Show Park Announces 2021 Show Schedule

Photo courtesy Fieldstone Show Park.

The 2020 show calendar has been anything but typical, but Fieldstone Show Park wants its loyal exhibitors to know, there’s much to look forward to in 2021.

The popular venue, a staple in the northeast and a Massachusetts landmark, has announced its 2021 show dates, which will feature eight USEF nationally-rated hunter-jumper competitions throughout the months of May, June, August, and September.

The Fieldstone Spring Festival, set to kick off May 12, 2021, is sure to be a celebratory occasion, after the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the rescheduling and cancellation of many of Fieldstone’s 2020 events.

“When you’re ready, come show with us” is the venue’s mantra, as Fieldstone heads into 2021 with an outlook that is equal parts centered around positivity, safety, and comfort for horse and rider.

With many exhibitors in the northeast lacking nearby show options in 2020, Fieldstone will be ready to put the industry spotlight back on Halifax, MA next year, offering a safe, spacious venue for riders to comfortably get back in the show ring. Fieldstone’s 106-acre facility features an all-grass Grand Prix field, five competition arenas and schooling areas with all-weather GGT footing.

Among the events slated for 2021 are the Northeast Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Finals, scheduled during the Fieldstone Summer Showcase (Aug. 18-22, 2021); the New England Hunter Jumper Association Derby Finals (Aug. 24-28, 2021); the Massachusetts Hunter Jumper Finals (Aug. 29, 2021); and the ASPCA Maclay Region 1 Finals at the North East Classic (Sept. 12, 2021). Scheduled between the Fieldstone Summer Showcase and the Fieldstone Spring Festival is the two-week Plymouth Rock Hunter Jumper Classic (June 23 – July 3, 2021).

Save the dates for Fieldstone Show Park’s 2021 horse show schedule, when an East Coast Tradition continues.

Fieldstone Spring Festival I —  05/12/2021 – 05/16/2021
Fieldstone Spring Festival II —  05/19/2021 – 05/23/2021

Plymouth Rock Hunter Jumper Classic I —   06/23/2021 – 06/27/2021
Plymouth Rock Hunter Jumper Classic II —   06/29/2021 – 07/03/2021

Fieldstone Summer Showcase I & Northeast Jr/AO Hunter Finals—  08/18/2021 – 08/22/2021
Fieldstone Summer Showcase II & NEHJA Derby Finals —   08/24/2021 – 08/28/2021
MHJ Finals —  08/29/2021

North East Classic & ASPCA Maclay Region 1 Finals —  09/8/2021 – 09/12/2021

© 2020 Catie Staszak Media, Inc.

Kent Farrington and Austria 2 Land the $37,000 Holiday & Horses 1.45m Opener CSI4*

Kent Farrington and Austria 2. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 25, 2020 – International competition returned to the main grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to kick off the ESP Holiday Series with the $37,000 Holiday & Horses 1.45m Opener CSI4*, presented by Dover Saddlery, on Wednesday, November 25.

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a track of 15 efforts for the class, which was run under an altered power-and-speed format. The first nine fences constituted the first phase, and the final six jumps made up the second phase, with riders continuing to the latter portion of the course even if they had faults in the first set of obstacles. Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cadans Z, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, set the bar as seventh in the order with a speedy second phase time of 27.717 seconds and held on to that position until Kent Farrington (USA) and Austria 2 flew through the speed phase in 25.999 seconds. Less than a second behind the second-place finisher was Andrew Bourns (IRL) and his own Darquito, who landed in third with a clear time of 27.836 seconds.

“This will be my second WEF with Austria 2. I’ve been riding her for two years now,” remarked Farrington of the 2008 Holsteiner mare by Casall x Corrado I owned by Take the High Road, LLC. “She’s been an amazing little horse; she wins tons of classes. She has jumped some huge grand prix classes, she’s fast enough to win a speed class, and she’s brave enough to win the top ten final at Geneva. I think that really shows her versatility and her heart.”

Although Farrington will be showing all week, he shared that he does intend to have family time on Thanksgiving. “My mom and my sister are both here, so I always try to spend a little time with my family,” he said.” I’m thankful for the team here that has put protocols in place that allow us to compete under these circumstances. I feel very fortunate to be here.”

The day began with the $1,000 Bainbridge 1.40m CSI4*, which had 53 entries compete over the first-round course. Time proved to be a factor as 19 pairs were kept from the jump-off due to only one or two time faults, still leaving a whopping 24 fault-free teams eligible for the jump-off, 21 of which were double clear. In the end, Liubov Kochetova (RUS) emerged victorious riding her own Trevita (Graf Top x Stakkato) in a time of 32.72 seconds. The duo saved the best for last as the final partnership to ride over the abridged jump-off pattern, just edging out second-place finishers Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farms LLC’s Vienna, who finished the course in 33.53 seconds. Anna Dryden (USA) rounded out the top three aboard Van Schijndel’s Double Bee, owned by Double Meadows Farm LLC, in 33.93 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Olympic Medalist Anne Kursinski Brings Riders Back to Basics at Rutledge Farm Sessions

Photo: Paige Cade.

Middleburg, Va. – Nov. 23, 2020 – To close out the 2020 season, Rutledge Farm welcomed Olympic medalist Anne Kursinski Saturday, Nov. 21 to host an exclusive one-day clinic as a part of the Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series. Kursinski brought decades of experience with her, including five Olympic show jumping campaigns that earned her two team silver medals. Welcoming riders from all skill levels to the picturesque property in Middleburg, Virginia, Kursinski brought riders back to the basics on the flat and over fences, including dropping their stirrups, mastering the automatic release and building a stronger awareness of how they work with their horses.

Kursinski commented, “I have been teaching for a long time, so it is about quickly finding the riders’ weaknesses to give them some tools and exercises that can help with their awareness. I think that is so important. In our short amount of time, my goal is to get them to try to change something or improve something and it’s rewarding when they feel more confident afterwards by having a few new tools to take home.”

Four groups and a total of 18 riders traveled to Rutledge Farm to learn from Kursinski’s vast experience. In the spirit of “No Stirrup November,” Kursinski asked riders to drop their stirrups on the flat in order to build a strong foundation for the exercises to follow. Riders were also asked to knot their reins for a portion of the flatwork, a tool Kursinski utilizes to build awareness and encourage quick corrections. Over fences, riders practiced with driving reins and an automatic release to learn body control and work in sync with their horses.

Amber Ide commented on her experience, saying, “I’ve only owned my horse for one week, but I feel like a lot of the exercises we did, like halting and having them listen on the back side, really helped me get to know him better. It’s a really awesome opportunity to ride with Anne Kursinski, and this facility is gorgeous. There is so much land, the footing is great, the jumps are great, and it’s really an awesome facility to have a clinic like this.”

“Rutledge Farm is a fabulous, beautiful facility,” Kursinski added. “And of course, Aleco [Bravo-Greenberg] is so enthusiastic in wanting to share the education with people and that is wonderful in our business to have somebody like that. It’s fabulous to help riders become better horsemen and to be better for the horses. To me education is about the riders, but it is really about how the riders are improving with their horses and making their lives better.”

For more information about the Rutledge Farm Sessions, click here.

Farrington Leads the Way with Orafina at SFHJA Charity Horse Show

Kent Farrington and Orafina. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 23, 2020 – Held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) from November 18-22, the 70th Annual South Florida Hunter Jumper Association (SFHJA) Charity Horse Show concluded Sunday following a week of exciting competition. The show was the final installment at PBIEC before the beginning of the ESP Holiday Series, which starts November 24, the first day of the Holiday & Horses CSI4*.

Saturday afternoon featured the highlight jumper event of the competition as Kent Farrington (USA) and his own Orafina jumped to the top of the leaderboard in the $50,000 Spy Coast & Sweet Oak Farm Grand Prix. The 16-effort course set by Eric Hasbrouck (USA) in the International Arena saw 53 horse-and-rider partnerships contest the track, with nine athletes successfully turning in fault-free rounds to advance to the jump-off. Mario Deslauriers (CAN) led the way, and he was soon joined by Ilan Bluman (COL), Santiago Lambre (MEX), Schuyler Riley (USA), and Erynn Ballard (CAN) by the halfway point. In the latter portion of the pack, Willie Tynan (IRL), Kent Farrington (USA), Ashley Vogel (USA), and Ashley Fleischhacker (USA) also added their names to the list.

Following faults from the first five partnerships, Tynan and Michelle Guardino’s Fancy Girl finally turned in the initial clear round of the jump-off as the sixth duo to go in a time of 41.51 seconds to claim the early lead over the abridged pattern. Their top spot did not hold long though, as Farrington and Orafina were the next to follow and galloped to a foot-perfect time of 40.58 seconds. Tynan and Fancy Girl retained the second spot, followed by Fleischhacker on Quadros 3, owned by Ashland Show Stables LLC, in a clear time of 44.817 seconds, the final double-clear partnership.

“Orafina is a great young talent,” commented Farrington of the eight-year-old KWPN mare by For Fashion x Canturo. “She doesn’t have a lot of experience, certainly not like this. Really hats off to the team here that keeps these shows going for us and allows us to keep doing our job and our sport. Early in the season like this, it’s great for these young horses to get into the main ring. Tonight they even got a little taste of going under the lights. All in all, even besides the win, this was a great experience for my horse.”

Saturday’s victory was the second major win for Farrington and Orafina of the week, after also topping the $15,000 Paul Tracy Farrier Services Welcome Stake on Thursday as the quickest clear pair from the 14-horse jump-off. As the second duo to navigate the short course, designed by Hasbrouck, Farrington and Orafina served as the pathfinders with the first double-clear ride of the day, setting a lightning-fast precedent in 38.04 seconds. As the second round of riding progressed with 12 more combinations, it became clear that the frontrunners’ time would hold to claim the top spot by nearly two full seconds.

“Somebody that I work with in Europe, Leon Thijssen, said he had a horse that he thought I would like and would work for me because it’s extremely careful,” remarked Farrington of the new relationship with Orafina. “The plans are to build her up, just like always. Keep doing what we are doing by giving her positive experiences and time to mature. We will let her grow into herself. It was a great first step tonight.”

Though Mark Bluman (COL) and Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) managed to stop the timers slightly quicker than the winning pair, they both did so at the expense of a downed rail to incur four faults. Riding Stone Hill Farm’s Hungry Heart, Jessica Springsteen (USA) earned second place with a clear time of 39.81 seconds, and Jonathon Millar (CAN) rounded out the podium in third aboard Shadow De Shalimar, owned by Isotropic Networks Inc.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.