All Posts from March, 2010

March 31st, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway with Nunn Finer!

Don’t you love a giveaway?  Today’s giveaway comes from Nunn Finer and is perfect for us eventers.  It’s the brand-new Ultra No-Slip Pad and will make sure nothing goes a-slippin’ or a-slidin’ on cross-country day.  Stay on the fuzzy part, right?

The Ultra Non-Slip pad has been fully redesigned (I’ve heard good things in this regard) and is perforated for ventilation and forms right to your horses back.  It has rolled binding around the edge so it won’t chafe (I’m always so worried about that kind of thing). And after it gets all sweaty and nasty on cross-country you can chuck it in the washer.  Now that’s my kind of maintenance.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below and visit the Nunn Finer website.  You have until midnight tonight.  Ready? Go!

Update: Congratulations to our winner Mia S. for winning the newly designed Nunn Finer Ultra No-Slip pad. Congrats!

March 30th, 2010

Road Trip! Eventers Would Rather be in Aiken.

I had never been to Aiken, SC. Can you believe it? Although my imagination had, for the most part, conjured the lolling Magnolia trees, charming streetscapes, and quaint boutiques. I never do get tired of seeing riders in boots and britches walking down the street.  It always feels like home. And with riders like Phillip Dutton, Craig Thompson, Laura VanderVliet, Mara Dean, and Jenn Simmons a stone’s throw from town and each other, it also feels like Eventer’s Heaven.  With such a spectacular place I thought I’d go on and visit, and take you, and my dog Simon, with me!

One thing that always intrigue me is the hard rub of horse-haven next to down-home country.  I’m talking scrubby cotton fields stretching into a brown horizon and trailer parks always within arms reach. It’s just like Ocala, FL like that (well, not the cotton field part).  A towering new, stable will perch practically next door to a greying, groaning shack.  I can practically see the ghosts of the past standing on the wooden porch staring back at me. The broken windows whole again and the sunken roof metal again and shining in the sun.  It’s like the past sits unabashedly next to the present,  unflinching and unsmiling. Make of it what you will.  I saw this sign driving into town and liked it so much I u-turned right across the highway to go back and take a picture.

So I spent may day wandering between the ghosts of the past; the manicured, pretty streets of town; and the efficient barn aisles of three-day eventers (more to come on that later!).  Today I’ll share those streets of Aiken and a few stores that stood out to me.

The Bone-i-fide Bakery

I go into every doggie store I can find so this was my first stop with Simon. It was his favorite. I discovered my favorite things about it right off the bat: 1) They have a cute,  vintage screen door leading into the shop. A perfect entrance for a sleepy, Southern town.   2) It even smells like a bakery when you walk in!

It’s like a bread bakery but a little bit  sweeter.  In addition to the freshly-baked hound-goodies there was a selection of toys (I  bought one for Simon), high-quality kibble (something I always like to see), and some charming artwork.  I wasn’t wowed by the selection of leashes and products but your dog sure will be by the nearly ceiling- high display of treats.

With some cute toys, darling Christmas ornaments (oh dear,  another weakness of mine), and freshly-baked snacks this place is worth the stop.  And, let’s be honest, a dog-washing station is high on the priority list for our barn dogs.  So stop by, even if it’s just to take a deep breath! 127 Laurens Street.


If you have a weakness for home decor, especially equestrian-inspired home decor,then I’d be sure to swing by Nandina.  Or perhaps I’d be sure to stay away from it!  I couldn’t resist it myself and walked away with a few purchases. How could you not? It’s not cheap, but what in Aiken is? And their items are well-chosen and well-presented. I felt like sitting down in an arm-chair and curling up with a good book. 158 Laurens Street.

Equine Divine

Equine Divine is also a home store with clothes and gifts to boot. The clothes didn’t stand out to me but the art sure did.  From water colors to vintage prints to modern I spent my time coveting piece after piece.

My favorites were the duo of vintage prints the shop owner had discovered at an auction in their original frames with vintage glass. But a close second was the darling wardrobe with the hand painted donkey peering back at  you.  How sweet! It would be a great place to find a special gift or that perfect piece of art you’ve been looking for. 126 Laurens Street.

No, it’s no wonder eventers flock to Aiken, SC for the winters given the rolling land, Hitchcock Woods, historic town, and sprawling farms.  Maybe I’ll be spending more time there myself, ghosts of the past and all.

By Courtney in Road Trips, Style | 2 Comments »
March 29th, 2010

Olympic Silver Medalist Gina Miles on Pony Club, Family, and Twilight

Gina Miles is best known for winning the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics on her much-loved horse, McKinlaigh.  What is less-known about Gina Miles is that she’s a tiny 5’3″ to McKinlaigh’s looming 17 hands, that she juggles more plates in the air than most of us could handle, still finds time to go to Disney World (after tidily winning a silver medal, that is) and she’s a Twilight fan.  So that makes me a fan several times over!  Enjoy Part I of her interview.  Part II and III to come!

photo by Tass Jones Photography

Q. I grew up in Difficult Run Pony Club in Virginia. Did you do Pony Club too?

A. Oh yeah. I grew up in Davis, California and I actually had a Pony Club in our area. I must have read about it in a magazine. A flyer got posted at a barn that was about half an hour away. I wanted to be involved with other kids my age with horses. I was older when I joined, about fourteen. My mom ended up founding the Penache Pony Club which is still active there. I loved doing Pony Club and my first couple rallies were on scratch teams at Games and Dressage rallies. Any Pony Club competition I could do I did like Know-down and fox hunting and everything. I went through my A rating. I’m actually national examiner now trying to help and give back when I can. Fit that in among all the other crazy things!

Being involved in Pony Club helps you so much in life even if you choose to keep horses as a recreation. As part of an eventing barn you learn about taking care of your horse and goal setting and disappointment and success. Those are all life lessons. Not everyone will be a professional but everyone will benefit from being involved in the sport. And more so than being involved with hunters, for example. So much is done for the rider versus in our sport the rider is so involved in the care of the horse. What really struck me about these young people [in Pony Club] was the people skills they develop. You have to present yourself to the examiner, get feedback about your riding, learn public speaking, and how to express opinon to an adult or person of authority. It develops character and integrity. I preach to all my students to go through Pony Club. The USEA and Pony Club could work together more and help each other out.

I do know that in our area our Young Rider program is really successful and we’ve sent teams to the one and two star championships. We’re also trying to fill needs of the beginner novice and novice rider. That’s where I think Pony Club and Young Riders can work together. Pony Club already has that figured out. I kind of think adults have to get out of the way and work together. People involved can feel threatened. People need to put those aside and work together. I don’t know how it’s gonna work but whether it’s opening membership to camps or having a cooperative membership or to join as affiliate or an open door and invitation type policy. No sense trying to recreate the wheel and make more work for everybody.

Q. Any good tips for Pony Clubbers out there for games or getting a perfect turnback score?

A. I can remember still as clear as a bell the first year I went to championships. We worked so hard to qualify. It’s a big deal to get teams from Califonia to Kentucky. I made dressage but wasn’t good enough to make any other team. I wasn’t good enough for the eventing team!

Our coach, Loris Henry, was president of the USEA about 10-15 years ago and her daughter was on the team. Oh my god did she whip us into shape! We had perfect scores on formals and horsemanagement. I remember getting in there with a toothbrush and saddle soap and toothpicks to clean the stitching. Polishing all of the metal. Attention to detail is so important. When you’re cleaning your tack for the Olympic Games that’s pretty much how you want it! Sarah Williams grooms for me at all the top competitions and we went through Pony Club together. I don’t want a groom that hasn’t been through Pony Club and suffered through formal inspections! There are some things that are a little ridiculous like with the plastic bags over the boots before formals, that might be over the top. But I think they should know how to put in that kind of elbow grease and take pride in what they’re doing.

Q. Who was your Pony Club pony?

A. I had the first pony that my dad bought at the Boys Club Auction for $175.00. My mom freaked out because she knew that a Boys Club pony was probably not the best purchase. But he ended up being a great pony. Then we were ready to start looking for something else. We saw this Arabian and my mom had always dreamed of the black stallion. He was for sale and we started talking and the owner had ridden him in a cross-country clinic with Jimmy Wofford. We didn’t know much about eventing but we knew about him! We were like “Ohh, cross-country with Jimmy Wofford.  He’s the horse for us!” He was a little wild. He ran away, he stopped. I fell off. The first event I entered him in was way before they kicked you off course for more than 3-4 stops, you could stop at every fence. Which he did but eventually I got him around. He did turn out to be a great eventer and we went through Training and won a couple of events. I tried to school him over preliminary and had I known more I might have been succsessful. I was figuring it out on my own. I did everything: eventing, games, foxhunting, polocross. He was my Pony Club horse. He did everything. He went to Sarah Williams after me and she rode him and then he went on to another Pony Clubber and ended up back with me to teach my daughter how to ride. He was her first lead line horse before he died in 2008. We were at Rolex. He was 29 years old. He was a great. I have pictures of my daughter riding him; she still talks about him.

Q. Tell me about your kids.

photo by Tass Jones Photography

A. My daughter is four. Taylor, she’s my youngest. My son Austin is 11.  How crazy is it being a mom and doing all this other stuff I do. It’s kind of a whacky, crazy, on-the-road kind of life at horse shows and traveling and always changing it up. They have both taken an interest in riding, Austin more of an interest after Olympics! He rides with friend on Mondays and Taylor will ride as much as I will let her. On family trips we go skiing for the weekend. We love to ski. I used to be on a race team in highschool. We love to go to Disney Land. We’re going for Easter. Going to Disney in Hong King after the Olympics, that was the treat! We also did a trip to Hawaii last year where I did a clinic and lessons while we were there. It was fun to put that together. We love to do stuff around the horses, play wii tournaments, and go for family rollerskates. My daughter went through a phase where all she wanted to do was watch Twilight. My four-year-old daughter would be like, “Can we watch Twilight?”

Q. Which brings me to the most important questions. Are you a Twilight fan?

A. Definitely. I stayed away from it for a long time. I didn’t even pay attention to the first movie and then my friend gave me the book and I had it for weeks before I picked it up. Then I got hooked. When Twilight: New Moon came out all the middle aged moms got together. We’re pretty silly. It’s disturbing when you’re talking to your 11-year-old child’s friends about Twilight. You can’t take yourself too seriously!

Q. Team Edward or Team Jacob?

A. You can have them both when you’re a cougar like I am! They both have their pluses.

Q. Tell me about your farm.

A. We moved to town but my husband and I managed Rainbow Ranch (who owns McKinlaigh). It has been great with the kids. We moved the horse business to Rancho Del Rio Atascadero with a twenty stall barn only fifteen minutes from the college.  A lot of the business is college students so that’s super for them. We go hacking on the river and trailer to Rainbow Ranch to do hill work and conditioning and we’re close to Twin Rivers to do a cross-country school. We have two acres so we can keep a horse here if we need to. We’re five minutes from school so it’s great as a parent driving kids to school and playdates. I have a friend who’s a dressage rider who’s developing a brand new facility in Templeton. She bought 52 acres on a piece of old irrigation land, which is a hot commodity, with a wonderful covered arena, outdoor jumping arena, turnouts, an equicizer, and treadmill track. It will be ready in September though we’ll see with rain and permits!

Q. What’s the treadmill all about?

A. I love the treadmill. She’s really excited about the Equicizer and that will be new to my training program. The treadmill is an important part of our program in terms of their walking fitness and tendons and ligaments. What I have found is that when you’re on the treadmill horses are on a set speed like a four mile an hour walk. They have to stay at a consistent space. McKinlaigh is a loafer so to make him march along you’ll be kicking him every stride and nagging him! But on a treadmill they have to march and keep it up. The other thing is they have to walk straight. On the trail they can wander. You put them on the treadmill they have to walk in a straight line. I saw a lot of development in McKinlaigh’s muscles over the years and saw him develop a straighter gate at the walk. He became straighter in all his gaits. It disciplines the muscles to move in a straight line.

(image via Horse Gym)

You can control incline so the entire workout is up hill. On a trail you can find a hill but if you go up you have to go back down! Another benefit is that working students can put a horse on a treadmill and read a book! Hacking and hacking for hours can be boring! The horse can be on a treadmill about half that time. For a four-star you might be doing two hours of hacking but you can do one hour on treadmill. I went that direction especially with McKinlaigh since he’s so much larger.

Check back for Part II and III with Olympian Gina Miles and lots more on McKinlaigh, how the West Coast eventers turned into a force to be reckoned with,  keeping your horse sounds, and the secret to her success.

March 26th, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Rain or shine I’m wishing you a happy weekend as well as fancy feet in the dressage ring, fleet feet on your cross-country course, and clean feet in show jumping.

Good luck and happy spectating at Galway Downs, Pine Top, Corona del Sol, and Morven Park.

I never tire of hearing from Zara Phillips or the anyone with the word “Princess” (like her mother) in their name.

I’m over the moon for Felix Doolittle stationary, return address labels, kitchen labels, and calling cards for the little ones. Oh but there’s so much more. You must go see.

I’m a sucker for hoodies. One from Cafe Press (expressing your 3-Day Eventing loyalties) is good this time of year what with the cool mornings.

The Courtney King-Dye Ebay auction is full of great items including “Courage, Power, and Freedom” bracelets (easy on the pocket-book) and an Hermes scarf (easy on the eyes). There’s nothing wrong with getting something fabulous and supporting someone at the same time!

I sort of fell in love with these diving horse photos on Eventing Nation and their grainy, hazy feel. It’s like something from a dream. What was that movie called with the diving horse?

Robert Dutesco’s exhibit of the Wild Horses of Sable Island is on view at 13 Crosby Street in SoHo. If you’re close by and not heading to a competition that’s what I’d do!

Yikes, don’t forget to get your Rolex tickets! Time’s a runnin’ short and you don’t want to miss this year since the World Equestrian Games dressage and show jumping test events will be taking place. An added bonus.

Happy Weekend!

March 25th, 2010

Eventing Radio Show Episode 69: Eventing Safety with Jimmy Wofford

Jimmy Wofford talks about safety on this week’s show and we also have a report from Jennie Brannigan on Southern Pines Horse Trials. Ashley Adams is the co-host. Listen in.

Eventing Radio Episode 69 – Eventing Safety with Jimmy Wofford:


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March 24th, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway!

SUCCEED Equine supplementWelcome to the second giveaway for Three Days Three Ways. Today it’s a generous 3-month supply of SUCCEED which comes in at a whopping $300. I’m pretty excited about this giveaway since it’s something that 1) I use to keep weight on my hard-keepers and 2) have seen used to great success (no pun intended!).

True story: When I spent the winter in Ocala with Wendy Lewis she had a horse who had to stay on SUCCEED or he would colic immediately. We tried to wean him off it once and he got to colicing and we said, “He’s got to stay on this stuff”. So he stayed on SUCCEED and the colic stayed away.

To enter today’s giveaway leave a comment below with the function of each of the SUCCEED ingredients:

1) Oat Oil (polar lipids)

2) Oat Flour (beta glucan)

3) Glutamine

Want a hint? The answers are on the SUCCEED website! Winner will be chosen from all the correct answers. Good luck and have fun!

Update: Congratulations to Jessica and her Thoroughbred gelding on winning the SUCCEED giveaway!

March 23rd, 2010

Eventing Olympian Mara Dean Takes Pride in Nicki Henley

Mara Dean’s interview wraps up here with her pride in Nicki Henley and winning the first leg of the FEI World Cup Tour, going out on the town, and letting go to gain control. Enjoy it!

Q. Tell me about your horses.

A. [Nicki Henley] had an injury two years ago that happened at the Pan Ams. He was never even supposed to jump again. Not only did he come back to compete but to come back and win a three star is beyond amazing. Because he had two years off he’s not qualified for [Rolex] Kentucky. But that’s what I’m aim for. The selectors suggested that I apply for special permission. If we can go we will then see about Worlds. He’s got the most personality of any of the horse. He’s more like a dog than a horse and would much rather spend time with people than horses. He only likes certain people. He had two years off and a lot as rehab so I got to spend lot time with him icing and with therapies. He really thinks he’s a person or a dog. The girl that worked for me taught him how to shake and beg. He’ll eat anything. Any snack you have he wants. He likes Gatorade and will drink it out of a bottle. He’s not spoiled or anything! He’s funny and goofy and loveable on ground but can be tough to ride. He’s very spooky and strong. He has matured a lot and came back a better horse after two years off. He’s been a challenge for me. I’ve had him since he was five and it’s taken this long, he’s now fifteen, to figure out how to ride him. I think the biggest eye opener came early on. I broke my ankle riding and to keep his qualifications David O’Connor took him to Radnor and ended up winning. However David’s comment was, “Mara this is the strongest horse I have ever ridden. If you have any hope to ride him then you better start lifting weights.” But it’s different for men and women. I took that to mean I needed to control him but what I really needed was to let go in order to gain control. The more I let go the more he settled and became easier to ride. David helped me a ton and opened my eyes to it, but couldn’t ride him like he rode him. I didn’t have the strength.

Eventer Mara Dean show jumping High Patriot photo by Josh Walker

photo courtesy of Josh Walker

My other horses is High Patriot and he’s owned by Patricia Overland and her son Patrick O’Brian. When Nicki broke down I was thinking my life was over and I’d never have advanced horses again. Once I got through my life is over I got to how do I ask for sponsorship and find another horse? I’d known them for a while and as I approached them they approached me. It almost came out of ours mouths at the same time.

A girl from California came to do Jersey Fresh on High Patriot as a developing rider and she needed a place to work off the expenses. We hit it off and when I went to the Pan Ams I needed someone to run the business. I told her, “If you ever decide to sell this horse please let me know first.” Within a few weeks she needed to sell him and I was able to get these people to buy him. It was a dream come true and I was very lucky. So he was a horse who had already done three stars where most of my horses I start from an early age. It was different having someone else’s horse and someone else’s tools. He looks like a Thoroughbred but he’s an Oldenburg. It’s a different mentality, not quite as sharp, everything is a little slower. He’s one of the scopiest jumpers I’ve ever had. I took him to Fair Hill and had a silly run out which was just me not knowing him and then I got injured so the partnership had time off. I took me a while to figure him out and finally last year I took him to Bromont and we were 4th in the 3-star and started to click. Unfortunately as I was getting ready for Blenheim he got hurt at Richland. Now he’s coming back and hopefully on the verge of success. It’s just taking a while. I also have two prelim horses, Funmaker and Chequers Macon, that I just have to say are some of the nicest horses I’ve had. They’re from Susie Pragnell and have a little bit of Dutch in them. I’m excited about them for future.

Q. I know you ride Nicki Henley in a hackamore. What are your reasons behind that?

A. I do. When I pull he doesn’t listen anyway. It’s not something I train him in since they can get a little numb to it. I think he’s softer though body without the bit and his jump ends up being a bit more rounded. If he’s tight he can drag hind end and have a rail behind.

Q. Do you ever have days where you think maybe Eventing isn’t for me?

Oh yeah. Certainly. Certainly after a bad day or if I’ve had a bad fall. More when my horses get hurt or when there’s an injury I always go, “Is this the right thing? Is this what I really want to do?” It’s a tough sport with huge risk but the good times make up for the bad times without a doubt. I joke to my husband who has an office job, I’ll say I wish I had your job! But I don’t. I don’t want to sit in an office. I want to be outside with the animals. I get up every day and do what I love. There’s no other passion I’ve had in my life like the one I’ve had for the horses.

photo courtesy of Sarah K. Andrew

Q. What’s your life like off a horse?

A. Well my husband would say I’m not off a horse enough and when I am then he needs to get me out of the barn since I’m making sure everyone is taken care of. To be able to do much with me you have to take me on vacation! Luckily he works for an insurance company in Leesburg which takes him into the city a lot. So we go into the restaurants and museums.

Q. What do you want your fans to know about you?

A. Some people think because I’m a little quiet and shy that I’m not very friendly and that’s so not the case. I’m the most approachable person and happy to talk to anybody, answer questions, or help anyone. I love it when kids come up at an event and ask questions. It’s important to support this sport and if I can help a person or group or horse I would love to.

Q. Posting a win on the FEI World Cup Leaderboard after Nickey Henley coming back from an injury at the 2007 Pan Ams. What’s that feel like?

A. It’s still sinking in. I can’t believe it happened. It’s huge! With the amount of hard work and dedication and sweat and blood and tears getting a win like that: it’s all worth it and reminds you why we do this. I have such an emotional attachment to this horse [Nicki Henley] because of all the ground time rehabbing and bringing him back. I’m proud of what I’ve done with him.

Q. What would “making it” look like for you?

A. I think that’s constantly changing. In that as soon as I accomplish one thing I want something else. It’s part of the perfectionism that helps to make us such good athletes. It doesn’t take away from what I’ve done. If we get to go to Kentucky and do well there I’d love to help the team get a medal at Worlds. But success comes in many ways. Chequers won his preliminary division at Red Hills. I picked him out and have huge success picking good horses. The judges agree how nice he is. And I just had a cross-country school with a student and solved a problem and that meant a lot as trainer and coach. Everything from a 3-star to preliminary to helping a student. Success comes in many ways.

I’ve been riding with Phillip Dutton for six years. I’ve been lucky to ride with so many people. Over the years Philip has taken my riding to next level and made me a better competitor, not just a better rider. Part of that is the work other people have put in but Phillip has brought the best out in me. It was ready to come but he brought it out. He’s not just a good trainer but also a good friend and a good horseman. I owe lot of my success to him.

Q. Anything you want to add?

A. The ony thing I can think of, and it’s been said before, to have success is not just about me. It’s about the whole program and team. One of the most fantastic girls works for me, Katie Strickland, and I couldn’t have done Red Hills without her. She keeps me going and keeps the horses going. I’m riding multiple horses and teaching and can’t check every boot. It’s important to have a good support system of vets and farriers. I’ve got a fantastic crew in the barn and then of course the owners. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them. My job is wonderful but I don’t make enough money to pay for all the horses. There needs to be some outside help and to have people that love the sport so much just support me and the horses to go as far as they can go is amazing generosity.

If you want to follow the World Cup tour that Mara Dean kicked off with her win on Nicki Henley see below. You can have a world tour of your own!

World Cup Tour Schedule
1. Tallahassee (USA), 5-7 March
2. Kihikihi (NZL), 2-4 April
3. Sydney (AUS), 7-9 May
4. Marbach (GER), 7-9 May
5. Chatsworth (GBR), 15-16 May
6. Tattersalls (IRL), 27-30 May
7. Strzegom (POL), 24-27 June
8. Minsk (BLR), 21-25 July
9. Rebecca Farm, Kalispell (USA), 22-25 July
10. Malmö (SWE), 13-15 August
11. Martinvast (FRA), TBC, 18-22 August
12. Schenefeld (GER), 26-29 August
March 22nd, 2010

For the Girls: The Best Jog Outfits

Don’t worry ladies, I haven’t forgotten about you. I know that jogs on are the horizon for you as well. You’ll look fabulous too! It’s never too early to start planning and with Galway Downs right around the corner, The Fork nipping at her heels, and then (ahem) Rolex close behind you may need more than one look to go around. I hope these offer some inspiration.


Allison Springer has won Best Turnout twice at Rolex. So she knows what she doing at a jog. She swears by a classic look that allows your horse to shine. This look it pretty and classic and is a hands-down winner (that said, I’d stay away from this if you’re busty). But isn’t the ruffle at the collar cute?! Want this look? JCrew!

If You Want to Make a Splash:

I love this dress from Ralph Lauren’s 2010 Spring collection. It’s sweet and reminiscent of simpler days. You’d get a nice swing at the hem during the jog but nothing your mother wouldn’t approve of (or the ground judges). It also gives you a wide range of shoe options from flats to strappy sandals to something with a kitten heel (if you dare). Want it? Ralph Lauren.


If you think “classic” means boring and want something with a little more pizazz but don’t want to scream “Look at me!” try this little number. It’s sweet but with a touch of playfulness given the pleat down the center and the neat pockets (I love pockets in dresses!). The slight boat-neck collar is always flattering. Plus, you could even jog in those shoes! Want it? JCrew once again.

Chic and Practical:

3 Day Eventing jog outfits; pants from dace

Let’s be honest, jogging in a skirt or dress isn’t always ideal. Sometimes pants are in order but don’t think that means boring. These pants are super chic and comfortable. Pair them with flats instead of heels and you can jog all-day long. Sadly, lose that cute top, and go for something with a bit more coverage. You don’t want to be flashing skin as you run by the judges. Something basic and black (that tucks in) will set those pants off well. Plus, they’re dace and they used horses in one of their campaigns. Point for them.

Basic Black:

The sister to the little black dress is, naturally, the little black suit. It’s a basic and hard to get wrong. I you want something you can grab, go, and look great in, opt for this. Theory makes great clothes that have a way of looking polished and effortlessly hip all at once. Add some black flats (or sandals if it’s warm enough) and, voila, a no-fail look.

Do you have any suggestions for sure-fire outfit winners at the jogs? Let us all know and comment below.

By Courtney in Style | No Comments »
March 19th, 2010

Happy Weekend!

This picture makes me feel like it’s a good time to run away to join the circus what with the sun starting to shine a bit more. Regardless of whether or not you make for the circus or a 3-Day Event this weekend, I hope you have fun! Here are some Friday treats I thought you might enjoy:

Southern Pines II takes place this weekend and all your favorites will be there including Phillip Dutton, Mara Dean, and Boyd Martin.

I’m enjoying Eventing Nation’s Bracket Battle of Event Horses. Who’s your pick?

Southern Pines II is also the first in the PRO Tour Event Series and there will be some new additions like the Britches and Bling Saturday night party. A double whammy of cool.

I’m loving Dappled Grey.

Zara Phillips in a behind-the-scenes video for Musto.

SUCCEED is always doing good things. They started an ebay auction on behalf of Courtney King-Dye. Support her by buying items in the auction or donating something yourself! One of my favorites is the “I prefer flats” tote bag by Horse Shoes By Design.

The FEI’s Event Rider’s Association has launched a new website.

Plus, a few Three Days Three Ways interviews you may have missed in the hubub:

Robert Kellerhouse, Galway Downs organizer

Jim Wofford

Allison Springer

Happy Weekend!

March 19th, 2010

Galway Downs’ Robert Kellerhouse: How the West Won

Robert Kellerhouse makes things happen. It’s sort of as simple as that. Galway Downs? Yeah, that’s him. That Preliminary Challenge that created ripples across the 3-Day Eventing world? Him. Nominated as one of only six from the US to the FEI Eventing Committee? I think you know it’s Robert. So I suggest you read more about this man who’s not only defining West Coast Eventing, but is undoubtedly behind the future of our sport.

Q. Tell me a little bit about the work you do in eventing.

A. To develop nice events for people to compete at for all levels is my only goal. In 1995 I started assisting running a competition with my mom and Bert Wood who had helped a local hunt run a benefit competition in the late 70’s. They said, “Let’s run a horse show.” I was busy riding and doing my job, which was in finance. They started doing things and in our area we needed a level that wasn’t offered anymore. One of the organizers stopped running the version of the one star, which you had to do in order to do a two star. We started running it that week in October 1995. We developed that into a two-day event, which was a full phase: a one-star over two days. That would qualify you for a two star in the 1990’s.

photo courtesy of Robert Kellerhouse

Long story short that’s where we started and every year since then we’ve added every level that riders needed. We ran first a CCI one-star and two-star in November 1999. In 2000 we built Advanced. In 2001 we offered a CIC in the spring. In 2003 that CIC Advanced became the first World Cup qualifier in the Western US. In 2004 I started the Woodside Horse Trials and we ran our first event in May 2005 and we run three shows a year through Advanced. We run four shows a year down at Galway up through Advanced. From 2005-2007 we kept the same schedule and in 2008 we got rid of the World Cup qualifier but kept it a three-star. We added the three-day training competition and that was hugely successful. We took the team already coming for the CCI and had them run the classes for the training three-day. That’s become very popular in ’08 and ’09. We had about 50 riders.

In 2009 at Woodside I added the Preliminary Challenge class with $15,000 in cash and $15,000 in prizes. We had advanced but we ran the cash prize for the preliminary group for multiple reasons. It was an opportunity to let the adult amateurs and professionals ride against each other. It allowed the professionals to ride their young horses in restricted classes. We had about 1,000 people watching the evening show jumping. This year at Galway for November we’re hosting the first CCI three-star. It’s the first one in the Western United States. We’re doing it because our riders out here need it. And because my course designer is ready and we got a piece of property that’s suited for a CCI-length course. And we have fantastic sponsors that have stepped up. And all the rider support and we get unbelievable entry support.

We have one other huge reason that we’ve been able to keep our even successful: Trainers and riders have run a fundraiser for us. The trainers donate their time and use their professional services in clinic format. We had 150 people participating with Ian Stark as the headliner. That helps us make critical changes on cross-country and keep it fresh and interesting. You’re always trying to reinvent yourself every year. That’s been the last fifteen years of my life just chipping away.

Q. Where does your inspiration come from?

A. I like eventing. I always loved this sport even when I was a little kid. We used to spray the penalty zones around each jump. That was my job. It was always fun and the eventers were always down to earth and very normal people. I enjoyed the people and competition. I still ride and there’s something to be said for the kind of person who gets involved in the sport. It is a risk sport and it requires a certain amount of courage and skill to negotiate a cross-country course. It’s not so much about you against the person next to you. It’s about you and your horse against the element in front of you. It keeps you grounded. I just like it. It’s a great sport.

photo courtesy of Robert Kellerhouse

Q. Where are you taking the competitions?

A. It’s not any particular goal other than to continue to offer what the riders need and to keep doing a good job with that from beginner novice to the highest level. Our country deserves to have good events not just on the east coast. When I was younger I saw and stream of riders that were going to big extremes in order to be competitive. They were driving all over the place; it was ridiculous. I always thought if we had a steady group of successful events people could do it easier. We could develop our talent and keep them around. When I was competing back East in 1990 everyone said you had to go to England to be successful. Several people had training barns in Great Britain. Then when we were starting out events in the west the constant themes was, oh you gotta go to the East coast to be a good event rider. I bet you the sport is evolving more and more as we go on. That was 20 years ago and now we have Rolex doing a four-star and it’s fantastic, one of the best in the world. You’ve got this great event that gets people ready for World Games and the Olympics.

You’ve got a reason to keep the riders East and hopeful you’ll be able to keep them West. The biggest example is Gina Miles who took her horse start to finish out West and would travel for four stars, that’s it. She knocked out a silver medal in the process. It’s unbelievable: us having a silver medalist from California. And two years our Area 6 Young Rider won silver and gold. It’s been a lot of fun watching these guys do their thing. And our teams won. Amy Tryon went back to Burghley and did a fantastic job on her young horse. In 2009 she spent her whole spring in California instead of North Carolina and she did well so I was happy about that. Then we’ve got Derek Di Grazia doing courses at Woodside. It’s a tricky piece of property and he knows it like the back of his hand. We have Ian Stark at Galway who is fast becoming a very popular course designer in eventing. He’s doing his first CCI three-star at Bramham, in England. It’s their big CCI three-star in England. He was named course designer of the Year by USEA, which was a lot of fun. At the time he got named that he was only designing Galway. He takes his job, as does Derek, very seriously. Which is what makes them both such good course designers. We have a fantastic crew. We fly in guys from England and Canada. They’re all helping to make our events really good. And of course our scorers, our volunteers. We have an unbelievable group of volunteers and coordinators at Galway and Woodside. You get this gigantic team together and there’s nothing more cool to do than organize and event when you have that.

photo courtesy of Robert Kellerhouse

Q. How do you come up with these ideas? What’s your process?

A. People come to me with them. The Preliminary Challenge was Chris Shaw who wanted to sponsor a class with his riding apparel company. He owned a tack shop in Northern California and he wanted to sponsor a class and appeal to the masses. The calendar at Woodside, it’s worth running Advanced for sure but it’s not the best spot for the horses that will go back to Rolex or Bromont or Jersey Fresh because it’s in May and August. The August show is a fantastic event for it but it’s run concurrent to hunter jumper show that’s Penlow’s Circus Club Charity Horse Show. By process of elimination we placed it on Memorial Day weekend that was screaming for something special. We wanted to give them something to hang their hat on. Equine Insurance, Mushroom Matrix, CWD Saddlery, Sonoma Saddle Shop, and Custom Saddlery all sponsored. All these guys stepped forward and said we’ll help you do it. We never really had anything for adult amateurs. The reality is that preliminary is their Olympics. And it should be. Anyone who does prelim and does it well is a damn good horseman. That idea came from Chris like the idea for fundraiser clinic. $150,000 towards cross-country and that idea came from the trainers. They approached me and Bert, my course builder, and said, “How can we help?” Bringing Ian Stark in was Burt’s idea. Our clinic doubled in size.

These ideas evolved from having a bunch of people who are into the sport sitting around talking about it. My job is to try and implement it and not be scared. It’s always expensive to implement. Even the fundraiser, if it was a bust, would have cost me 7,000. I don’t want to do something once that is a waste of time. To be able to repeat it is the only way to go. If I can’t sustain it I won’t do it. There’s too many variables; the last thing you need is something that can’t repeat itself. We have land use issues and threats from the sport that happen so the number one thing you have to rely on is that it will work. We’ve been fortunate in making it happen.

Q. What do you think about when implementing your ideas?

A. I think about:

1) Will the riders receive it? Will you get an entry for it?

2) Can we run it without making the rest of the classes not as good? Will we make one class great and everything else suffer? That can never happen.

3) Can I pay for it? Can it support itself? That’s huge. There’s no doubt I’ve covered some big shortfalls from some shows that are still running. You can’t pretend that everything will pay for itself all the time. Some shows are money losers but you can’t just call it a day. You have to keep moving forward. If I feel like I can pay for it and the riders are motivated then we do it.

photo courtesy of Robert Kellerhouse

Q. Are there any successes that stick out in your mind in particular?

A. Even watching my wife’s own business flourish and watching her clients enjoy going to my shows. That’s gratifying. The shows that are successful. The staff and the volunteers. I like working with all of them honestly or I wouldn’t work with them. That’s the most rewarding thing. The consistent group of great people you run into in eventing. The one thing I’m most proud of is that we’ve been able to keep it going in a positive direction for so many years. That stands out in my mind. When you look back and how many ways I’ve been doing this. I had a normal job before I started doing events. 2004 was a big year. I got married. Woodside was coming down the road. Galway was going through a bankruptcy (the property not the competition). Do I keep doing the finance thing? But that’s boring. I may have made more money but it was not as fun. 2004 was a pivotal year for me. I’ve been fortunate to be able to go all in and have it work.

Q. What kind of people do you enjoy working with?

A. People that are into the sport. That’s the biggest thing. We work with all kinds of personalities, believe me. Everyone involved has a passion for the sport. That’s the number one thing. They could be someone who’s really mellow or stressed or whatever but as long as they have passion for the sport and they follow through on the things they say they’re going to do they usually work well with the group. Following through with the things they say they’re going to do is a huge one! That separates the people who like to talk about it and the ones who do it. There are a lot of doers in our group.

Q. Anything else?

A. I look forward to seeing riders come out to events and kick some butt at the World Equestrian Games in the US!

Robert Kellerhouse’s Galway Downs is coming right up this March 26-28th. If you’re a West Coaster I bet you’re already going. If you’re not, you should! And if you’re not riding why not go and check it out first hand? This is a competition of the highest caliber and creativity. Hey, maybe you could even lend a hand and be part of that incredible volunteer group!

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