Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amy Tryon Balances Olympic Medals, Losing Le Samurai, and Paradise in the North West.

Amy Tryon was the littlest bit quiet when we first started our conversation, but then I noticed her infectious laugh that, sometimes, was practically a giggle. And she laughed a lot. She was enthusiastic when she spoke of her horses, the incredible support from her husband, Greg Tryon, and growing up in Seattle, Washington. There can be no doubt how much she loves the area, her horses, and her husband. She has a staggering list of laurels that includes a Team Bronze medal from the 2004 Olympics and a Team Gold from the 2002 World Equestrian Games. Then there's the seemingly endless firsts at major competitions, the acclaim of highest placed American rider at the 2002 Badminton CCI ****, and winning Jersey Fresh in 2008. I loved learning more about her and hope you do too!

Q. What do you like about eventing on the West Coast?

A. The best part is the fact that I feel like you can develop a young horse at a pace that suits the horse. I can take a five or six or seven year old and do the events they need. I can see them progressing and developing.

Above: Amy on Poggio

photo courtesy of Samantha Bergin

Q. Once ready what do you do?

A. I come out East once a year in Spring time and usually take the young horses as well as older horses so I have something to do every day. I work them into the appropriate division and try to go with what best suits their level. They get exposed to some of the bigger competitions.

Q. Why do you love eventing?

A. The biggest thing I love is the relationship you build with the horses. I’ve been lucky to have long careers with the horses and I usually get them off the racetrack. They don’t all get to be 4 star horses but just getting the satisfaction of seeing them go on to be good hunter or whatever-- it’s just fun!

Q. What’s important about you that you want your fans to know?

A. I think the hard thing is we all get so busy at events it appears we go from one horse to the next and there isn’t a lot of emotion; it’s hard to stop and chat. People derive a certain expectation that they see of your personality. I love it when people come up to me and I like to be approachable. People can come up to me and ask to walk a course--I love to help them do it.

Above: Poggio and a wild Jethro The Miniature Donkey

photo courtesy of Samantha Bergin

Q. What do you most value in others?

A. Definitely honesty. That’s the number one thing. Dealing with folks in business and trying to be honest with the owners--I think a lot of people have had a bad experience in equestrian sports where things haven’t been represented in an honest way. That’s a huge part of what we need to change about our sport.

Q. What has been the hardest moment you’ve ever had in eventing?

A. By far the hardest thing was losing Le Samurai at Kentucky. We actually don’t know what happened other than he took a bad step at the last fence. He ruptured the suspensory in the left front. We made the decision to put him down. He was a horse that was never happy in his stall; he never would have enjoyed life a year in the stall. The owner, Becky Broussard was fantastic and willing to do whatever we needed to do. She said whatever is best for the horse—we’ll do it.

Q. Your husband is Greg Tryon. How would you describe him?

A. He’s very good at helping me. He’s not a horse person but he is an amazing amount of support. I travel a ton and he never once put his foot down and said he can’t do it anymore. I’m gone 3-4 months a year and he stays at home, pays the bills, goes to work every day, runs the barn. We’ve gone on team trips and if anyone needs anything you just ask Greg to do it. He’s been a pillar to me in good and bad times.

Above: Team Tryon (Greg Tryon second from Left)

photo courtesy of Samantha Bergin

Q. Do you guys live on the farm?

A. We run my business, Maple Leaf/Amy Tryon Eventing and we live at the farm. We’ve been there about seven and a half years. Dee, the owner, rides and I help her with her horses. She’s very busy so we take over the management.

Q. What’s it like around your barn? Busy? Peaceful? Neat?

A. It’s a fabulous facility. We designed it from the ground up; it was a neat process. we’ve been in lots of barns all over the world. We have twenty stalls. About ten are my business and ten are boarders. I have three girls that help me in the barn with everything including cleaning stalls. We all do it all. It’s great, we’ve got a lot of turn-out pastures; they all spend at least 12 hours outdoors. I’m lucky to take care of my horses how I want to.

Q. Do you have any pets?

A. We do. Two terriers: Razzle and Jasmine. Razzle is a Border Terrier that we got in Pennsylvania when she was a puppy. She had a rendezvous with one of Karen O’Connor's dogs, unplanned, and so we got four puppies. They’ve gone to two of my students and my mom has one and we have one. She is Border Terrier and half Black and Tan.

photo courtesy of Samantha Bergin

Q. What was your childhood like?

A. It was fantastic. I grew up in Seattle. My mom wanted horses and never could have one. She got a pony for me and my sister when I was one and she was three. We grew up on a farm and did 4H and Pony Club, Western, English, and bare back. I started eventing when I was eight and went from there.

Q. What about what you do with your time out of the saddle?

A. Greg and I love to go to the movies. We just enjoy our time at home together. Everyone asks me where I want to go on vacation and I always say I want to be at home for two weeks! Just hanging out together.

Q. What about the weather in the North West?

A. It’s actually pretty nice because it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. We do get a fair amount of rain in the winter. It’s a great area to have horses and to keep them fit and healthy and live outside if they need to.

Q. Any favorite musicians or authors?

A. One of my favorite movies is Good Will Hunting and I only read non-fiction; I’m a weirdo. I just finished reading Mary King’s autobiography. I enjoy history. My husband was in the military growing up so I enjoy military history; I enjoy reading things that are true.

Q. You are on the road a lot traveling. What do you always bring with you?

A. I always have my dogs with me. It’s funny, every trip we do is different, it’s kind of goofy. I pretty much live in my trailer whenever I’m on the road and that’s great. I usually take one person with me to help with the horses. For the most part it’s a little bit of a break in the routine but nevertheless it’s a seven day a week thing. It’s hard, Greg comes and visits now and then.

Part II with Amy Tryon will post soon. In the mean time don't hesitate to leave your thoughts below or visit us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the eventing scoop. Don't you love Jethro-the-miniature donkey? Do any of your horses have little buddies?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holly Hudspeth: Hard-Headed, Passionate, and Dedicated

Part II of Holly Hudspeth starts now! More on Holly's riding philosophy, babies, and how romance translates in the world of 3-Day Eventing.

Q. Do you think being married makes life as an upper-level rider easier or harder?

A. I would say it’s almost easier because he’s very supportive of everything I do. He tries to come to every single horse show. It’s comforting to know there’s someone on your side. I had him listed as an owner on Stewie’s passport as soon as we married and that was important to him.

Holly and Chuck. I love Holly is practically glowing!

photo courtesy of Sandals

Q. What’s the most romantic thing he’s done?

A. He’s very romantic. When we got engaged it was on the beach and he had roses and strawberries and champagne delivered to the room. He’s a very thoughtful person. He was the one that found the trailer with the living quarters. He tries very hard to give me things and do things that are thoughtful.

Q. How would he describe you?

A. He always says I’m hardheaded. I think he would describe me as hardheaded but also dedicated and passionate about what I do.

Q. How does he feel about the horses?

A. Oh he’s very excited about it. Even though he’s never been a horse person. He knows now when I’m too slow on cross country. He's like if you’d done xyz you would have won-he knows enough to give me a little advice. It’s great to have him there and he truly enjoys watching us compete.

I love this picture because I think it shows Holly's spirit and pluck. Cute.

photo courtesy of Sandals

Q. What’s your philosophy on teaching? Riding?

A. The biggest thing is not skipping any steps. If there’s a hole somewhere you got to go back and fill it in. If you skip a step you will get caught out at some point. You have to be as well rounded as possible. If there’s a hole you’ve got to go back and fill it in. You gotta have your big picture.

Q. Is your barn organized or messy?

A. I’m a complete neat freak by heart. I’m very funny about my tack. The bits come off the bridles everyday to get clean. We wash the saddle pads everyday and the horses need to be groomed every day. That’s when you miss nicks and bumps when you don’t do that. I run a tight ship when it comes to maintenance on my trailer. I don’t do anything half ass to tell you the truth.

Q. Do you have any pets?

A. Chuck and I have two yellow labs. One is named Tug and the other Lance.

Above: Lance looking sporty

Q. Where do you want to go with Stewie?

A. Chuck and I want to have a family in 2010. So I’m going to get through Rolex and then we’d like to do that. After that I’d love for him to be my next Olympic horse.

Q. Anything else you want to add?

A. I love to cook and I love to be on the water. At the end of the day I don’t do horses 24-7 even though I’m competitive as I am. I like to do normal people things and that’s why Chuck is a huge benefit to me. He’d non-horsey and when you work so hard it’s nice to have a little reality.

If you want to get to know Holly even more check out her website, PRO (she's a board member), or go to Eventing Nation for some more coverage. And feel free to post comments, ideas, reactions, and thoughts below. The more the merrier!

This guy is on the streets of New York but rocking a Barbour jacket. Country meets city. I like that. I have an adorable Barbour hat I got in Ocala last year but this picture makes me want to get a jacket to go with it. Then watch Rolex in the pouring rain. Do you wear Barbour?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sean Crocker: Eventer and Farrier "To the Stars"

I had the luck to sit down with Sean Crocker (as some have said, Farrier to the Equestrian Stars) in the kitchen of his and his wife’s “Just Enough” Farm in Middleburg, VA right after he’d flown back from Wellington, FL. Our conversation began amidst a toddler (that would be cute Brodie, see adorable picture later) clamoring over a snoring Doberman and surrounded by your not-so-average pictures, like the one of Sean show jumping with Blenheim Palace in the background. But these, to Sean and Shannon Crocker, are standard fare given their history as top Young Riders and Advanced 3-Day eventers training with the likes of Karen O’Connor and Jim Wofford. Sean has a way of making you feel right at home and that’s why, for two hours, we talked about eventing and shoeing and horses.

Above: Sean Crocker rocks it at Blenheim.

Note: This picture hangs in the Crocker's kitchen. How many people can claim a family picture like that?!

Photo courtesy of Sean.

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. Massachusetts. We moved to the Cape when I was seven. My parents built a house on the Cape and my Dad was into horses. He was on mounted police. We had an eight-stall barn and four acres. A lot of land for Cape Cod. The lady across street had horses and I would sneak off across the street to ride them. I was nagging her everyday. I started in show hunters and with summer camps then started going to unrecognized events and got totally hooked after doing cross-country. When you did jumping you got judged for clearing jump, not how pretty you looked. In show hunters if your horse touched a rail you got penalty; you have to look really pretty and have good equitation, which I never really had. My first major three-day event trainer was Mike Plumb; he was in Dover, MA. Then after that I worked with Jimmy Wofford and that’s when I moved here. From Jimmy’s I went to Southern California and worked for a wonderful family out there. They had a farm in the middle of suburban Los Angeles. The father was a landscape designer and architect. They got a lot of horses off the track and were into racing for some time. They were a big influence on my life as far as getting me exposure in eventing and experience riding and training a lot of young, green horses; or trying to train them!

I got to a certain age and I thought it’s hard to make a decent level trying to be an upper level event rider. At that time I was living in Pennsylvania, which is probably the most competitive event trainer area. Phillip Dutton and Bruce Davidson are both there. A great vet friend of mine put me in touch with a guy (who’s actually Phillip’s farrier) to apprentice with him. I did that for three years and then moved down here. I met Shannon before I started my apprenticeship in the winter of ’03. She was wintering in Florida with the O’Connors, which I think she had done two or three times. I apprenticed in Pennsylvania with a guy named Dave Kumpf. It’s very similar to this area with lots of sport and performance horses. A lot of really good farriers. too. There’s a world reknowned farrier school at the University of Pennsylvania at the New Bolton Center that started in the mid to late 60’s or early 70’s. A lot of really good farriers came out of that program and Dave was one of them.

I apprenticed with Dave up in Pennsylvania and when I moved here I apprenticed with two local farriers. The more you work with the more you learn. It’s kind of like riding and being a competitor: The more people you clinic with the better rider you’ll become. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat, so to speak.

Q. What do you learn when you apprentice?

A. It depends on what farrier you apprentice with. I was fortunate enough to apprentice with mostly event horse farriers. It gave me knowledge on how they should be shod. There is definitely a difference between disciplines on how you shoe them. You have to fit eventers that are constantly going over all kinds of terrain differently than, say, a dressage horse, who will be ridden in a dressage ring. With event horses you want to keep the toes a little shorter, keep the break-over further back since they’re traveling at higher rates of speed. At the same time leaving plenty of heel support because of going through mud and sometimes rocky terrain. It varies so much. You can actually get away with shoeing a horse of a professional a little differently than the horse of someone with a little less experience. You know, the professional is riding the horse always in balance and well put together. Being in balance allows you to fit the horses a little bit fuller, which means putting them in a little bit bigger shoe. You’re always striving to get the feet bigger and want to allow for expansion of the hoof capsule, which helps them with soundness and movement.

Q. What’s a journeyman?

A. Journeymen is a certification program through the American Farrier’s Association (AFA). It’s an examination with a pretty detailed written and forging part where you have to make certain types of shoes and traction devices. It’s not an easy examination. I’d like to do it at some point. They have also a plain certification where you shoe a horse up front or behind and they judge you on trimming foot, the balance of the foot, shoe shape, shoe fit, and you have to do it within certain amount of time. Journeymen have to shoe a horse all the way around and make all four shoes from straight steel. The shaping is actually really good practice and experience because you’re not surprised very often because there’s thousands of different shaped feet and sizes.

Q. What do clients need to know?

A. What sticks out, and it’s one of the simplest things on the planet and I was brought up with, is I’m amazed at how many people don’t pick out their horses feet. It does help tremendously. All that mud gets caked up in their foot; it can dry out the hoof capsules. It’s such a simple thing that people seem to have forgotten. Pick out their feet when they come in from field. I always joke around: The horse’s feet get picked out once a month-- when I come!

The Crocker Family from left to right: Shannon, Brodie, Sean

Also, a lot of people tend to bathe excessively. I know it’s hard not to do especially not in Northern Virginia in the summertime. One of most important things for feet is controlling moisture--as far as having too much moisture in the feet in the summertime. Combine the hard ground with humidity and their feet will practically disintegrate, and that makes it hard for shoes to stay on. Also making sure that there’s enough moisture in their feet in

the wintertime when everything gets so dry. I remind people that it’s like taking care of your hands-moisturize in the winter. I tell people to use Cornucrescine. It’s like a paste that you rub or brush on at the coronary band. That seems to help keeping their feet moist in the wintertime. In the summer I discourage people from doing that. When their feet get really soft it’s the difference between driving a nail into an oak board versus corkboard, or balsa wood. That’s pretty difficult to deal with as a farrier. It goes back to the shoeing and making sure the fit is pretty precise. When their feet are that moist if they’re going to pull a shoe off they’ll take ton of foot with it. I think this is by far the hardest area to shoe horses mostly because of the climate. Virginia is unique. There’s even a huge difference between Virginia and Pennsylvania. There the soil is more loam-based: a sandier soil. The feet will hold up better in an area only three hours north. Red clay becomes pretty much concrete.

How much do clients need to know? What resources are useful?

The American Farrier’s Journal is a pretty good resource. It’s hard, you want them to be educated but you don’t want them to recite articles off the internet about what needs to be done with their horses feet. There’s a time when they need to know what’s going on but then step back and realize that you’re the professional and need to do your job. To allow me to do what I need to do to help the horse.

I'd love to know your thoughts, ideas, whims, and whimsies so feel free to comment below. Also, this interview first appeared in The Chronicle of the Horse so check them out too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Holly Hudspeth on an Eventer's Valentine's Day, The Grease Soudtrack, and Never Doing Anything Half-Ass.

Q. Why eventing?

A. I think mostly for the thrill of the cross-country. The whole all-around dynamic of doing a triathlon and how difficult that was inspired me. Having the all-around athlete: I liked that more than focusing on one discipline.

photo by Josh Walker

Q. What characteristics do you most value in others?

A. I would say, especially for my friends and people I work with, trust and honesty. That’s hands down the biggest thing that I admire by far.

Q. What about in yourself?

A. To be dedicated and passionate about the things that I love whether it’s Chuck [her husband] or my horse or my teaching. I like to have a drive and I’m a very driven person. That would be the biggest.

Q. What do you think is the most important characteristic for an event horse to have?

A. Resilience is a big one. And I would say not just brave. When I think about Stewie, he's not a flamboyant mover but he’s so athletic and he’s so intelligent, and he's come so far with his movement. You’ve got to have a horse that can make decisions if you make a mistake. Having a horse that, come hell or high water, will look between the flags is number one. You can always work on the dressage and show jumping. They’ve got to have that heart and the desire.

Q. What is international travel with horses like?

A. It’s exhausting. That’s the word that comes to mind. We flew out of Canada one time and New York another time. You fly the horses over and you get through quarantine, and get a rental car. Germany was fine but England--you’re on the wrong side of the road! It’s seems fun and glamorous--and it is very fun to compete in other countries against people like William fox –Pitt. You’re completely out of your comfort zone and it’s good to experience that if you have the desire to go to something like Worlds. You have to experience it off your home turf. I don’t regret it even though it was exhausting.

Q. Do the horses take it well?

A. They handle it very very well. When they come home they get some time off. The fly surprisingly well.

Q. Any tricks to make the time go past or to make the trip better? (music, books on tape, etc). What items do you always travel with in your truck to competitions?

A. I love my Grease CD. That’s what I listen to when I’m ready to fall asleep. Bare Naked Ladies or AC D. I love country; I listen to it all day. Toby Keith is my favorite. I love Toby, and I love Sugarland. Those are my two favorites.

Q. What pieces of tack or equipment are critical for you?

A. My favorite thing is a breastplate, it’s what I always use, all the time. Whether it’s dressage or anything, I don’t know what it is. I have to have one. My other favorite piece of tack is my Stackhouse dressage saddle. Everyone loves it. But I have a gazillion products I have to bring on the road—apple cider vinegar for washing the horses at the end of the day and 2-in-1 Head and Shoulders. My horse has to be super clean. Whenever they get a bubble bath that’s what I use. The vinegar is a wash when I’m done. It gets rid of soap scum and sweat that you miss when bathing them. Fill a wash bucket with water and half a cup of vinegar. It makes their coat nice and shiny.

Q. How was this Valentine’s Day special for you?

A. I was at a horse show and Chuck was with me. My present is him being there. I’m thinking about getting him a wallet. He needs a new wallet.

Q. Fill in the blank: “You know you’re an eventer when….

A. You know you're an eventer when….you get new tires for your dualie for Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Boyd Martin’s Top Secret Tips for Valentine’s Day Success

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. We have a special edition today straight from the horse's mouth (hah!). "Boyd Martin’s Top Secret Tips for Valentine’s Day Success" as dictated by the charming, the debonair, the suave (who else?): Boyd Martin.

The Gift.

For any male event rider it’s important that when you start the yearly Valentine’s Day present-buying scheme that you start low. You want to start with your bar low. My advice is to spend a maximum of $12.00 on the first Valentine’s Day gift. Some might find this a bit cheap. But there’s a science behind my theory. For example, the first gift I got Silva [Martin] was a CD rack from Walmart for $12.00. This does two things, guys:

1) If the girl hangs around you know she likes you for sure. Because you’ve given her every reason to love you and leave you.

2) The second is that if you start out with a CD rack for $12.00 the following year, twelve months later, if it’s the same woman, you need to upgrade your present to more like $15.00 for something a little more classy. Maybe some CD’s. No matter what she’s gonna be impressed since it’s such a huge step from the year before. If you start on year one with the diamond ring, or the Rolex, or a diamond bracelet, no matter what happens you can’t outdo yourself. Even a beautiful bunch of roses and she’ll be disappointed.

So start low and start a little cheap. And this will indicate if she likes you. If you do this and upgrade your present year to year eventually down the road you can ease your way into the more expensive jewelry presents. If you start with the fancy jewelry from day one you’ve given yourself nothing but an uphill battle to try and impress your lady.

Boyd winning again on BaileyWick.

Photo by Josh Walker.

The Dinner.

It’s the same technique with the dinner. The first year try and start pretty basic. Your Hungry Jack’s or Wendy’s. You might get an odd look or a stand-off feeling from your lady on your first Valentine’s Day but that’s okay. Next year you can go to Applebee’s, after that, a slightly classy bistro. After 10 or 15 years in your quest to impress this lady you’ll end with a classy restaurant. If you start with the classy restaurant you’ve locked yourself into a life sentence of hundreds of dollars.

Final Tip.

Lastly, my advice to young event rider guys coming up: If you ever receive a Valentine’s Day gift from other parties it’s my recommendation that there’s no crime in recycling the present to other rider’s in the industry.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stay Warm with Hermes

photography by Camilla Akrans (via Dustjacket Attic)

Don't they look cozy despite the snow? It makes me want to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate next to my sweet mare. Stay warm in this weather!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Susie Hutchison Puts Her Best Foot Forward. You Can Too.

We wrap things up with Susie Huchison here with an impossibly cute puppy, what's really going on on the inside, and some really, really cool pictures.

Q. Are you in a relationship?

A. I’ve had a boyfriend for twelve years. He doesn’t have much to do with horses. I guess he’s kind of the calming one to come home to when all else is crazy. He has that calm easy way about himself. I hold a lot inside. I think I appear to be calm on the outside. A lot of people don’t realize there’s a lot more emotion going on inside than I tend to display. I just had a dog die on Thanksgiving. It had cancer but I thought we’d get through Thanksgiving. He died in my arms. It makes you appreciate every day and appreciate the people who are around and be happy and healthy and do what you want to do. If you’ve got your health you’ve got everything.

Susie's adorable, new puppy

photo courtesy of Susie Hutchison

Q. Do you find it hard to balance a professional showjumping career with relationship/ life/ etc?

A. Well, it depends on the person. My boyfriend puts up with it! It’s really different now than it was. It was much better then. It was eleven shows a year to try to get medals. The shows would be two weeks: Del Mar, Santa Barbara, etc. There would be all the different disciplines. It made it so much more special. The Oaks, when it first started, had three days of three classes a day, and grad prix at the end. Now they’re cookie-cutter horse shows with the same classes at the same venues. I’m tired of it all really. But I take that back--if you have a top grand prix horse. The amount of money you can win is incredible: $1,000,000 at Spruce Meadows. For that aspect it’s fabulous and makes having a top horse worthwhile.

1978 All Women's Nations Cup Team

Left to Right: Dianne Grod, Linda Allen, Anne Kurzinski, Susan Hutchison

photo courtesy of Susie Hutchison

Q. Do eventers carry similar patterns in their showjumping or is it really person by person?

A. It’s person to person. You ride cross-country the way you ride showjumping: there’s a gallop between fences, there’s a balance the horses need to maintain, and you ride the distance to the fences. The top riders do that. I’ve helped quite a few of the top event riders-they ride to a distance and the horse has to be balanced and that has to carry through.

Q. Do you feel like the mental focus is as important as the physical skill?

A. For me it is. I can’t say that for everyone. Everyone finds a different way of getting themselves organized and directed. I definitely spend a lot of time focusing. I watch a certain amount of horses and then I ride the course over and over again in my head until I feel I’ve ridden it perfectly.

Susie on Bionic Woman jumping 6'9", 1984

photo courtesy of Susie Hutchison

Q. So there are eventers and showjumpers out there who want to be as great as you are. What should they do?

A. Today it’s harder than ever before. But never give up. Get on like Jennie’s done and ride anything and everything and put your best foot forward in front of everyone you can is the way to go about it.

photo courtesy of Susie Hutchison

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

For the Love of Horses and of Style

Okay, so it's not an interview. But it's beautiful. A little something to nurture our inner fashionista and our love of horses. All at one time. Lovely photography by Andre Paul Pinces for dace.

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