Monday, March 29, 2010

The Switcharoo

Hello Team Three Days Three Ways!

We've made the switch to our very on web domain. How exciting! Make sure to update your RSS feed and note that on the new site you can subsribe by email (how fancy!).

Please join us for the site-warming party at Can't wait to see you there!

Friday, March 26, 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!

Thursday, March 25, 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:


Listen Now, Download or Subscribe:

Listen Now

iTunes Subscribe Subscribe to Zune

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway!

Welcome 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!

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mara Dean Out on the Town and 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.

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

Monday, March 22, 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 to 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

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.

Friday, March 19, 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

Happy Weekend!

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!

Eventing Radio Show Episode 68: With Zara Phillips and Oliver Towsend

This week’s show has a British flavor with reigning World Champion, Zara Phillips, Rolex Grand Slam Challenger, Oliver Townend, British Eventing Chief Executive Mike Etherington-Smith plus Karen Dixon pays tribute to he multi-medal partner Get Smart. Listen in.

Eventing Radio Episode 68 - British Eventing:


Listen Now, Download or Subscribe:

Listen Now

iTunes Subscribe Subscribe to Zune

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Red Hills Winner and Olympic Veteran, Mara Dean, with Icing Tips, Two Pet Peeves, and Why Every Minute is Important

You already know that Mara Dean rocked Red Hills and posted the first win on the FEI World Cup Tour scoreboard. But what you may not already know is that she returned my phone call tout suite with enthusiasm for doing the interview despite a lingering cold and opened up for Three Days Three Ways and for you. She was earnest about her support of 3-Day Eventing, humble about her accomplishments (including the 1996 Olympics and the 1997 Pan American Games), and devoted body and soul to her horses and students. But I don't need to tell you that. You can find out for yourself! I hope you enjoy Part I of this inside peek into Mara Dean's life, tips on icing legs, and two particular pet peeves.

Q. What are the most important things in life to you?

A. It comes two-fold as a rider and a trainer and coach: to do the best I can with my horses and to give my students the most help that I can give. There are two sides to my life; there’s more to life than horses, so my family is very important to me. My family and my friends for sure. I have a husband, Peter Dean, and we live in Round Hill, Virgina. My parents are divorced but both remarried so I’m lucky to have four wonderful parents and they are some of my biggest fans and supporters. My Dad has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer so it has been made more clear that every minute you can have with them is important.

photo by Emily Daily

Q. How did you come to Virginia:

A. I grew up in Vermont and when I graduated high school I took a year off to get horses out of my system. I worked with Jane Hamlin and she recommended riding with a bigger name so I went south for the winter to do horses full time for the first time in my life. I ended up with Wash Bishop and spent the winter in Ocala and loved the situation so much I followed him back to Middleburg in 1992. I went home to Vermont for a couple summers but ended up following Wash. I didn’t get horses out of my system; instead I got them more IN my system. After renting some barns here my family bought a farm to help me start a business. I’m luck to have that support. The rest is history. Or, I guess you could say, that history is still being made.

Q. Tell me about the farm:

A. I feel like [Middleburg] been so developed in the last ten or fifteen years, we were lucky to get the farm and land. We got one of the last open fox hunting areas. We have 65 acres. We originally bought 35 that had two houses on it but no paddocks, no barn, and no ring so we could do it all how we wanted it. The lot next to us came available and now we have 65 acres total with two huge fields and run-in sheds. And we’re lucky enough to have neighbors who have 100 acres they keep open for foxhunting which is all my conditioning land. I’m pretty lucky. Kelli and Rich Temple bought the land behind us and developed a beautiful facility so we can share and that works well. I’m lucky.

Q. What’s it like on the farm?

A. It changes. For a professional I never have a huge number of horses or students. I’m a very private person and I do like my space. Most of the time the stalls are filled and I have a couple students who board and are on the program; the rest ship in and out. Some days it’s full of trailers and I’m teaching lesson to lesson to lesson and riding all the horses and other days it’s just me and my horses and a wonderful girl who works for me.

Q. Is there anything that you just can’t stand?

A. I certainly have my likes and dislikes but I’m pretty easy going and pretty likeable. It takes a lot to get me angry or pissed off. Usually I’m pretty level-headed and do my best to keep everyone happy and keep everything on even, smooth keel. I don’t like it when animals are mistreated. I don’t like it when you see on the news when people have to go without food. Just human nature things.

photo by Emily Daily

Q. Do you remember the first time you thought about horses?

A. I was lucky enough that I grew up on a small farm and my mom had horses. I was surrounded by horses. There is a family photo of me at two years old and on my pony. My parents bought a racing saddle and that was my saddle. My mom and dad are holding on to each side. I was on my first pony at two, so I certainly grew up on a horse. My mom was not a competitor but always had horses so it was always normal life taking care of them. Since she rode I wanted to ride and I guess was bit by the bug more than her. As soon as I found where Huntington Farms was I wanted to be working student. I would go to the barn in the summer and stay all day.

Q. Were there other things that captured your imagination in the same way?

A. My parents were great in that they wanted me to experience things other than horses. I played basketball and growing up in Vermont skiing was huge so I got into downhill skiing. But I got to point where I wanted to spend more time with horses and backed away from the sport.

Q. Why do you 3-Day event?

A. I think because of Huntington Farm. They ran a bunch of events and being a working student I would work and help put on events so got to see it. However, it was also a big dressage facility and Jane Savoi was based out of there and was one of my first instructors. I can’t say I saw eventing and had to do it. It’s more that’s what they did so that’s what I wanted to do and the more I did it the more I wanted to do it. After I went to my first event there was no question.

photo by Emily Daily

Q. What do you do to attend to your horse’s legs after you come off cross-country?

Ice is very important. As soon as my horse has reached preliminary they’re iced after cross-country if not after a gallop too. To varying degrees if have they have sore feet they’re iced in boot or bucket, if they don’t have foot issues then they’re iced in an ice boot. They are always wrapped. I poultice after cross-country but if they have skin sensitivity I use linements. I wrap after hard work to support them but I don’t go crazy with it. I don’t wrap them every night. After hard work they need the support. My young horses, like the prelim horses, go out at night so they get iced and wrapped until it’s time to go out. It’s better to go out and get circulation.

Q. Turnout is a big deal at competitions (and at home!). What is always a must for you?

A. I think it’s changed a little bit as I’ve gotten busier and have more horses. Wash [Bishop] was meticulous and there was hoof polish every time they left the stall and tail wraps on as we were grooming so they always looked perfect. I would love do to that however there’s not enough time or hands. I certainly like them to be clean and dirt-free. It drives me crazy when their manes don’t lay over. To fix that depends on the horse. For some it’s easy to braid and they lay over. I have some Irish ponies where braids don’t work. A wet towel laying over their mane while grooming is helpful. Hoods are also helpful; slinkies I call them. I put those on after they get braided and that helps everything lie flat. So manes and also keepers falling off the bridles. I hate to get on a horse and have keepers flapping. All the people who work for me learn that quickly!

Just want to throw a shout out to Emily Daily at the USEA for these wonderful photographs. Did you notice that they were ALL hers? She's a dynamic photographer, engaging writer, and wonderful person and we are lucky that she's at the USEA. Thanks Emily! Check back for Part II of Mara Dean's interview and the inside info on her horses (including Nicki Henley, letting go to gain control, and life off the back of a horse. If you're gunning for more on Mara this very instant check out her interview with our friends at The Eventing Radio Show.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For the Boys: The Best Jog Outfits

Is it Spring already? It may not feel like it where you are but we are well into March with the big 3-Day Events of the season just ahead. Galway Downs will close March and hot on her heels will be The Fork, and then Rolex. And 3-Day events means jogs and jogs mean "What will I wear?". You can't be too prepared for all those jogs so I hope these looks offer a little inspiration.


No one does classic better than Ralph Lauren. This look is sharp and confident. If you can't quite stomach the yellow vest (though I love it) try just losing it or swapping it for a gray one. Vests on men are in, but they're also a staple of the classic look (think Milan).

If You Want to Make a Splash:

Maybe you've done classic over and over again and want to so something a bit more brave. This look pairs classic with fun. You'd stand out at the jogs but, if you play your cards right, will come off as even more casually cool than the rest. As a side note: I'd lose the shades but keep the handkerchief. Stylish is cool but cocky is not. Want it? Ralph Lauren, if you hadn't already guessed.


I love this look for the way that it downplays itself with the monochromatic khaki pant and tie but is, in reality, incredibly hip. The narrow pant leg, the skinny tie and crisp, white shirt all scream "I'm so cool I don't even have to try". Which is what you're going for at a jog. Want it? Thank you, Calvin Klein. (You can also get some great chino's at Stel's, one of my favorites)

One More Thing

I have loved these duffels and totes from Wm. J. Mills & Co. Sailmakers for years. They're so Nantucket-in-the-summer yet entirely practical for all the gear 3-Day Eventers lug around. Plus you can order them in your colors. Pretty perfect, I'd say.

If you have a tried and true jog look I'd love to hear about it. Tips and retail sources are welcome too!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Advanced Eventer Allison Springer's Tips on How to Bring Out Your Best and Invites You to Get Involved

Allison Springer keeps it real, I tell you what. Part II of her interview includes down-to-earth reminders about balance in life, her rules on whining (don't), and remembering why we're out there tearing up cross-country in the first place (because you love your horse). She's like Oprah, only on a big chestnut named Arthur, and super cool. Plus, she dishes on the upcoming PRO Tour (starting this weekend March 19-21 at Southern Pines) and the new Pro/Am Tour. How cool is that?!

Q. Your world has not been limited to horses. Diving, physics, alpine skiing, student government, and college have all featured in your life. Why did you decide to pursue so many fields?

A. I think it’s just about balance in life. I am a happy person because I have balance. I have a group of good core friends. I have such a range of friends; a lot of them don’t even know anything about horses. And it’s important to me intellectually to have been curios about different things. I’ve been pretty curious about the world and have been an athletic person and enjoy doing things. Skiing has always been part of my family and growing up I can’t remember learning how to ski I was so little. Like I said, I enjoy athletics and trying new things. I’ve been skeet shooting a couple times and totally enjoyed it. I go golfing with my mom and dad. Not that I’m good at that, but I enjoy it! It’s about keeping a balance in life. I feel like I can tell the horse people that don’t actually have balance.

photo by Emily Daily

To be really good at this sport isn’t just about being a good rider or trainer but also having relationships with sponsors and clients. I’m on the board of governors at the USEA and am a founding member PRO [Professional Riders Organization]. I want to do for my sport. It’s not just about me winning a medal.

There’s a real misconception, and sports psychologists talk about this, that you think if you’re not toiling and miserable then you won’t get better. But that doesn’t actually bring the best out in you. You have to be healthy in your mind and healthy in your body. It’s about balance in your life. For me, I know I train the best and compete the best when I feel relaxed and happy. I can focus when I feel balanced and good in life. Period.

Q. How have you been involved with PRO?

A. I guess everything sort of begins at some point with a little bit of whining or questioning. Like, ugh, we could do this so much better. Or, these warm up areas are so dangerous. You keep noticing all these things. A trigger was Red Hills a couple years ago. There was just craziness on the Chronicle [of the Horse] chat room and negative stuff. I know it’s a great place for communication but people were talking about stuff that was untrue and because it was written down the rest of the world was taking it as truth. I got to the point where I thought nothing is going to change unless I do something about it. It always seems to be certain instances of a small group of noisy people saying stuff. If it’s true, great. But if it’s not it ends up becoming the truth. I felt like I needed to do something instead of complaining. I don’t have time for whining. If you’re whining, do something about it. We have one of the coolest sports in the world and I know how much my horses enjoy it and how everyone involved enjoys this sport. So I wanted to make it the best it could be. What can we do to improve things? It seemed to be a lot of riders talking and having conversations. Where would we like to see the sport going? What changes would we like to see? It’s not just about a pro tour or prize money. We want to build a better experience for everyone: riders, spectators, organizers, everyone. That’s how PRO became. It’s certainly one of the things I’m most proud of being involved in.

Q. How can eventing fans be involved?

A. Definitely join! There’s a membership level for everyone. We are having a Pro tour that will start at Southern Pines. We’re also doing a Pro/Am which is gonna be really fun. It will be a team competition so one pro and three amateurs will ride together. It’s a team competition so the amateurs get coaching during the event. It should be fun.

photo by Emily Daily

We want to improve sense of community in US. We’re starting a lecture series similar to what they do in Europe. It’s educational but also entertaining. Pippa Funnell does one, a bunch of riders do them. It’s really fun to go and watch, it’s not like auditing a clinic. There are some really cool things going on right now.

I felt like with USEA they were going down bit of bizarre path. We can’t sit back and complain about it if we’re not representing ourselves. The Pro Horseman’s Council started maybe three years ago, now. That’s really improved the balance in the USEA and how decisions are made. There’s a better blend. With PRO we’re filling a huge void between what the USEF has to offer and what the USEA has to do. We’re not working against them. There was some concern that we were trying to go against the USEA and that’s not the case at all. Everybody wants the same thing but if your voice isn’t out there then it’s not going to be considered. So that’s why being in the USEA was important.

It’s not just for pros, it’s for everyone. Everyone should join! Memberships start at $35.

Q. Do have anything else you want to add?

A. One thing, as far as wanting to be the best in any sport whether it’s the sport of eventing or whatever, it’s important to remember why you got into it the first place. It’s important for the Pros too. For the last couple [training session] gallops with Arthur we got to go to this secret spot that’s absolutely gorgeous. And I’m riding this horse who I love in the county. Everyone has to remember why they love this sport. The horses and their wellness are the most important part. Just enjoy your horse.

photo courtesy of Allison Springer

Arthur's-Eye View in England.

Watching Julia Mancuso in the winter Olympics was so cool. She wasn’t supposed to get a silver medal but in the start box she had a big smile and was happy and relaxed and did much better than expected. Do you think she would have been the same if she was stressed out and nervous? I mean, enjoy it.

Thanks for reading, as always. If you want to learn more about Allison check out her website at or look into PRO and become a member. Tell the rest of Team Three Days Three Ways why it is that you started riding or eventing in the first place by commenting below. I love hearing from you!

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