October 2018 - The Gallop: World Equestrian Games

U.S. wins double silver in dressage, gold & silver in reining, while hurricane adds challenges to all.

by Kim F. Miller

Hurricane Florence made the World Equestrian Games even more interesting than it was already on track to be. Mark Bellissimo’s Tryon International Equestrian Center stepped up when the original host, Bromont, Canada, had to back out with just 18 months to prepare for the quadrennial competition that features eight disciplines over two weeks. There’s been a lot written about the parts of their ambitious plans that didn’t get finished in time, but watching from home on FEI-TV, and following media friends who are there, what strikes me is the remarkable amount of things they did finish and got right and the determination of all to see that the show goes on, so long as it can do so safely.     

 


The North Carolina venue has hosted equestrian competition for several years, and it’s exciting that the facilities they’ve added for the WEG will stay put to host major competitions far into the future. It seems like the long-term impact on the sport will be great.

 

Alex Luque Moral of Spain on Calandria PH leads after the restart of the endurance ride. Photo: FEI/Martin Dokoupil

North Carolina weather is often hot and humid in September, so participants and organizers were ready for that. As Hurricane Florence developed off the mid-Atlantic coast in the week preceding the Sept. 11 opening ceremonies, weather related prep went into high gear. An on-site weather station monitored changing conditions and shelter and evacuation plans were poised for worst-case scenarios.

But it wasn’t directly the storm that caused the shocking cancellation of endurance on Wednesday, Sept. 12. First, the race had to be re-started after several pairs were misdirected at an early leg of the course. At a press conference a few days later, there was no explanation as to how that happened but it was being looked into, officials assured. After the re-start, and just as the leaders were approaching the last part of the course, word came that the race had been cancelled altogether. The reason in this case was crystal clear: heat and humidity levels that exceeded those deemed safe by FEI horse welfare guidelines. Very sadly, it was later reported that one horse had to be euthanized and several were treated for heat-related issues.

Cade McCutcheon on Custom Made Gun, helping Team USA to another WEG gold! Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg

After these heartbreaking developments for endurance, dressage and eventing offered thrilling and inspiring competition. Extreme rain and wind forecast for Sunday, Sept. 16 prompted rescheduling of dressage freestyle and eventing’s show jumping to Monday, Sept. 17, originally an off-day for competition. Shortly after that decision was announced, news arrived that dressage freestyle was cancelled. This was mostly due to logistical concerns because the dressage horses were scheduled to leave the venue on Monday. Worries about the impact of the storm’s impact played their part, too.
    

Laura Graves of the United States on Verdades. Photo: FEI/Martin Dokoupil

Super Dressage

Dressage team competition was finished by then. Isabell Werth led the Germans to gold; Laura Graves, Kasey Perry-Glass, Adrienne Lyle and Steffen Peters led the U.S. to silver and Charlotte Dujardin led the British to bronze.  Completion of the team standings also meant that the top six teams, rounded out by Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain, had earned their berth at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. In the next day’s Grand Prix Special, the individual rankings repeated those of the indivduals in team competition: Isabell, Laura and Charlotte.

Dressage arena. Photo: FEI/Christophe Tanière

We guess team and individual silver medalist Laura Graves would have loved one more go at unseating Isabell Werth in the freestyle, but it was not to be. With Isabell riding Bella Rose, an earlier star returning from a lay-off, and Charlotte on the 9-year-old newbie, Mount St. John Freestyle, it seemed an unusually fair fight, so to speak, among these leading ladies of the sport. As Steffen noted in an interview, the fact that his and Suppenkasper’s 73.494 was the U.S. team’s drop score sheds light on the quality of the U.S. squad and the entire international field.

Along with rooting for our awesome U.S. team, it was fun to watch Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhaud, all of whom have given clinics in Southern California in the last two years, thanks to Scott Hayes Productions. Plus Laura Graves gave a terrific session with the CDS San Francisco chapter not long ago. And now Isabell Werth comes this month, Oct. 13-14, to San Diego. We are some lucky dressage fans here in California!
    

Rosalind Canter of Great Britain, riding Allstar B, leading Great Britain to Team Gold. Photo: FEI/Christophe Tanière

Eventing Kicks On

Eventing had to finish its third phase, stadium jumping, to determine team medals. After a very wet final jog on Sunday, Sept. 17, that phase went off smoothly on Monday. The United States finished dressage sitting third in the team standings, but Saturday brought some rough goes during the cross-country phase and they could not jump their way out of that hole for either a podium place or a top six spot that would have earned them a 2020 Olympic berth. Having finished 8th, the U.S. must now land top two at the Pan Am Games in 2019 to earn their ticket to Japan.

Dressage rider Laura Graves carrying the red, white & blue in the Opening Ceremonies. Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg

Captain Mark Phillips’ beautiful cross-country course made for exciting rides that shook up the standings for other countries, too. Great Britain, Ireland and France emerged top three and held those spots through show jumping to take gold, silver and bronze. As host of the 2020 Olympics, Japan didn’t need a top six finish to qualify, but they finished an impressive fourth. Germany was fifth and Australia, sixth.

The U.S. reiners won another team gold even amid increasingly intense competition from other countries. Belgium’s Bernard Fonck and What a Wave earned individual gold. The USA’s Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy were individual silver, followed by 18 year old Cade McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun in bronze.

Mark Bellissimo Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg

We went to press with this issue just as Week Two got underway. As of Wednesday, Sept 19, the U.S. had earned its first para-dressage WEG medal with Rebecca Hart’s bronze in the Individual Grade III test. Beyond that, show jumping, vaulting and driving were just starting under sunny skies.

We’ve very much enjoyed following the action via our FEI-TV subscription. Coverage has included great commentary and helmet-cam views, which were especially thrilling on cross-country. We’re so happy that almost all horses and people survived the dangerous weather, and send our thoughts to those thousands in Hurricane Florence’s path who were not so fortunate.
    
The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 949-644-2165.

 
October 2018 - Horse People: Jaime Krupnick Geffen

CPHA Foundation victory is the latest accomplishment in an already transformative year.

by Kim F. Miller

Jaime Krupnick Geffen was still on Cloud 9 three days after winning the CPHA Foundation Adult Equitation Championships in late August. She and her soon-to-be own horse, Conux, had elegantly mastered the riding and responsiveness challenges asked over two rounds held at Blenheim EquiSports’ Showpark Summer Classic. “The more technical the better when it comes to courses,” said Jaime of her enjoyment of the weekend’s counter-canters, trot fences, bending lines and striding challenges.

 


On-course challenges aren’t the only ones that bring out Jaime’s best. Along with winning rounds in the Adult Equitation and medal divisions and, increasingly, the Hunter Derbies, Jaime juggles motherhood with owning her own events management and production company, Geffen Events, Inc. Neither are 9-to-5 responsibilities.

 

Jaime realized earlier this year that balancing all that had to include giving higher priority to her own health and wellness. The epiphany led to the loss of 45 pounds this year, which has given her more energy for everything, including riding.

Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

She’s no stranger to the winners circle, as a junior and an amateur, and before and after attaining her current size and fitness level. After an 18-year break to attend college, establish her career and start a family with husband Jason, Jaime returned with a splash: winning the PCHA Adult Medal Finals in 2016 in one of her first outings. The comeback gave her the added fun of becoming the first person to  win both the PCHA Junior Adult Finals and PCHA Adult Medal Finals. Having started riding at 3 and achieved top junior success nationally thanks to the good guidance of the Foxfield Riding School, she regained ribbon-winning form fast.

Jaime was pleased to find the sport relatively unchanged after the hiatus, although competing as an amateur is pleasantly quite different. “Being an amateur is so much fun,” she explains. “It’s a very supportive group and we all cheer for each other.” The two weeks of August that kicked off the medal finals season were especially fun, she notes. “We all have separate lives and this is what we do for fun, so we are all rooting for each other and are happy for each other’s successes.”

Professionals she looked up as a junior, like Karen Healey, are still active, and others she remembers as kids have joined their respected ranks. Karen’s former assistant Archie Cox, for example, has long been a star in his own right with Brookway Stables. His assistant, Karli Postel, is someone Jaime recalls as a young pony rider at Foxfield.

Today, Conux lives at Foxfield, where Jaime grooms and schools him and takes lessons. She is grateful to meet and get help from Archie and Karli at shows.
    

Jaime and Archie after winning the Hunter Derby at Del Mar. Photo: Rick Osteen

Conux

Early in her return to riding, Jaime got the ride on Conux through Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, a friend dating back to their Foxfield youth. Through her Whitethorne Ranch, Georgy maintains for-lease and for-sale horses and offered Jaime the ride on a few, including Conux.

“We connected immediately,” Jaime remembers of their first ride, a qualifying class for the Ariat Medal Finals. “I fell in love with him then, but he was always for sale or on lease so I considered myself lucky every time he was available.” For the next year, there were sporadic chances to ride him. She enjoyed riding other horses for Georgy, but “he was always in the back of my mind.”

Over time, it became clear to both women that Conux and Jaime should be permanent partners. “He’s my spirit animal, my forever horse,” says Jaime, who is happily in the process of buying the 9 year old Holsteiner.  

The bay with the big white blaze is similar in appearance and attitude to Jaime’s top horse as a junior, a mare named Central Park. The trick with Conux, Jaime says, is embracing his strong-willed personality and letting him do his job. “He’s great at his job and I don’t interfere.”

Georgy learned of Jaime’s return to riding when they bumped into each other at Calabasas Saddlery.  When she first saw Jaime ride again, it was evident that her Foxfield friend had not lost her touch or her great eye for a distance. “She was always great, strong and had feel, and that doesn’t go away,” Georgy notes. Jaime is still “very competitive, for sure, and very funny and fun.”

She’s also “fiercely loyal” to Foxfield and Archie and those who’ve been part of her life with horses, past and present. “That’s a big part of her personality and it’s a rare thing in our business,” Georgy observes.
    

A Foxfielder for Life

The Foxfield family tree is broad going into its 52nd year in business and Jaime’s roots extend right to its base through her grandmother Nedra Diskant.  A friend of Foxfield’s founding sisters, JoAnn Postel and Nancy Turrill, Nedra rode with the girls at the Onondarka Riding Club then joined them at Foxfield when they began building their magical facility in Westlake Village’s Sherwood Forest. Jaime’s mom, Claudia Krupnick is a lifelong Foxfielder with a top show record as a junior and an amateur.

Jaime attended University of San Diego and dove into her career after graduation. Always involved in special event staging, she established a bi-coastal career and held demanding positions in the entertainment and studio industry. She stayed in touch with equestrian friends through that period, but there was no time to ride.    

When her son Cole was born eight-and-a-half years ago, “We talked about moving back to Westlake Village,” she recalls. The idea became real when he prepared for kindergarten, when school quality and proximity became concerns. The prospect of being close to Foxfield was a strong lure, too.

Jaime returned to riding around the same time as starting her own company, Geffen Events, Inc. “I’ve always admired women who are business owners and moms,” she said of joining their ranks. Organizing everything from large charity, red carpet studio and corporate events to smaller celebrations of wedding, birthdays and other personal occasions, she thrives on the variety and gratification of her work. Equestrian friends are frequent clients and that’s always a plus.

Meeting clients sees Jaime in Los Angeles most days of the week and their events are often on the weekends, frequently conflicting with a horse show. During last year’s CPHA Adult Finals, she competed in round-one in Orange County’s San Juan Capistrano on Saturday morning, then hustled back to Los Angeles to supervise a wedding that night, then back to the show venue early Sunday morning for round-two.

“It’s all about balance,” Jaime reiterates. She’s a meticulous calendar keeper and confident delegator to her established team of freelancers who help with events. Above all, she is eternally grateful to her parents, who live nearby, for their help with Cole.  

Looking ahead, Jaime is excited to return to the Ariat Adult Medal Finals back East and planning to contest the inaugural CPHA Style Of Riding Championship set for the HITS Sunshine Series in November at Thermal. Next year, she anticipates more equitation focus, along with a possible move into the International Hunter Derbies. She and Conux have been the highest placing amateur pair in several National Derbies already. Having competed as a 1.4M jumper in Europe, Conux is up to the task. “I’m just wrapping my brain around the idea,” Jaime says. The Handy round in the Derbies lights up Jaime’s eyes. “That’s like an equitation round, with trot fences, etc. I know we can excel in those.”

Most of all, she looks forward to whatever comes up in her “crazy, busy” life. Just like the challenging CPHA Foundation courses, she loves the chance to test her skills and take on new goals.

 


 

Weight Lost: Energy Gained

Few who know Jaime would have guessed she had 45 pounds to lose. At 5’11”, she carried some extra weight after becoming a mother, but not an amount that prevented her from riding to several top wins before the loss and leading a busy, happy life.

Her lifestyle change was prompted by meeting Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, initially a former competitor on the show circuit and, more recently, a Geffen Events client. The daughter of John Mellencamp, Teddi rode professionally and more recently turned amateur. She is a Real Housewives of Beverly Hill actress and owner of All In By Teddi, the “accountability” fitness and health program through which Jaime lost the weight.

“It’s a real adjustment mentally and physically and my whole lifestyle is different now,” Jaime reports. Most importantly, she makes time to take care of herself. In addition to riding, she exercises one hour every day, whether it’s at the crack of dawn before a horse show or after a long day of meetings. “I hold myself accountable and understand that it’s my responsibility to take care of myself.” In doing so, she’s a better mom, business owner and rider, she asserts. “I was never a believer in the idea that exercise gives you more energy, but I can tell you now it is 200 percent the truth.”    

To her surprise, the weight loss didn’t instantly make riding easier. Instead, the big change in her body composition required learning to re-balance herself in the saddle.

“For the first few months I was asking myself, ‘Why can’t I just stay out of the saddle now that I weigh less?’” Jaime shares. “When you are heavier, you are weighted more forward. I’m finally getting it all, feeling good in my body and everything is coming together.”

Of course, the new body required all new riding apparel, along with a new saddle. “I always wanted a Butet and now I can fit into it and I love it!”

 
October 2018 - Safe Sport Training FAQs

New USEF rule is a mandate for all adult competing members.

The US Equestrian Federation announced a rule change on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, requiring that, effective January 1, 2019, all USEF members 18 and over with an Adult Competing Membership must complete Safe Sport training in order to be eligible to participate in USEF activities, including competitions. Since that announcement, the Federation reports that over 3,500 USEF members completed the Safe Sport training. To provide further guidance, below are a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new rule change.  
 



altWhere can I locate the required Safe Sport training? How long does it take? 

The required Safe Sport Core Training is on the U.S. Center for SafeSport website, which has Instructions on how to set up an account and access the training. It will take approximately 90 minutes to complete and consists of three modules: Sexual Misconduct Awareness Education, Mandatory Reporting, and Emotional and Physical Misconduct. All three modules must be completed in order to satisfy the requirement.
 

    
Who is required to take the Safe Sport training? 

Any USEF member who is 18 years old and above and who has a USEF Adult Competing Membership is required to take the Safe Sport training, including amateurs, professionals, and owners who have an annual, three-year, or lifetime membership. The Safe Sport training requirement does not include USEF Fan Members.


How long do I have to complete the requirement? 

All USEF Adult Competing Members must complete the training within 30 days of joining or renewing their membership. USEF will provide members who renew or join on or after December 1, 2018, a 30-day grace period to complete the Safe Sport training. Members joining prior to December 1, 2018, will have until January 1, 2019, to complete the training.
 

    
What happens if I do not comply with the training requirement? 

Those who do not complete the Safe Sport training will be ineligible to participate in USEF activities, including competitions.


How often do I need to complete the Safe Sport training?  

The required Safe Sport Core Training (approximately 90 minutes) only needs to be completed once. A Safe Sport Refresher training course, which takes approximately 30 minutes, must be completed annually thereafter. US Equestrian is providing Adult Competing Members a 30-day grace period to complete the training.
 


What happens if I join or renew at a horse show?

If someone joins or renews at a horse show, they have 30 days to take the training.
 


If I have already taken the Safe Sport training, do I have to take it again? 

If you have taken Safe Sport Core Training, approximately 90 minutes, after January 1, 2018, you will not need to take the Safe Sport Core Training again. If you have taken an older version of the Safe Sport Core Training prior to January 1, 2018, you will need to complete the new version to be eligible to participate in USEF activities, including competitions.
 


How long does it take for USEF to receive notification that someone has completed the Safe Sport training?
It can take up to 48 hours for USEF to receive notification and the system to reflect that someone has taken the training. At the end of completing all three training modules, you can print a certificate that says “SafeSport Trained” for verification purposes.
 


How will show secretaries and competition managers know if someone has taken the Safe Sport training? 

Competition management and secretaries will have access to a combined Suspension and Ineligibility List in the same manner as the current Suspension List to identify those who are ineligible to compete. USEF Safe Sport Training records from the U.S. Center for SafeSport automatically update the USEF system every 24 to 48 hours. If a person appears on the Safe Sport Training Ineligibility list but has completed their training before the system updates, they can print and take a copy of the SafeSport Trained certificate to the show office to prove they are eligible to compete. Anyone who has passed the 30-day grace period without taking the training will show up as ineligible to compete.
 


Why is there not a Safe Sport training for US Equestrian junior members?

There is a Safe Sport Training module for youth in the works. This training will be available approximately in October, 2018. Currently, there is a free Safe Sport training module for parents in addition to a Safe Sport Parent Toolkit, which has information for parents of preschool, middle school, and school-age children.
 


Why do I have to take the Safe Sport training when I have little or no interaction with those under the age of 18 years old? 

US Equestrian’s Safe Sport Policy and the rules that govern it have been created to protect all athletes from misconduct. Recognizing the signs and behaviors associated with abuse will help all of us to prevent it. In addition, the training covers information on reporting and, under federal law, we all have a mandate to report any reasonable suspicion of sexual misconduct with a minor.
 


Do parents have to complete the Safe Sport training? 

A parent signing an entry blank is not required to be a USEF member. We encourage all parents to take the free Safe Sport Parent’s Training and to become USEF Members to stay informed.
 


Can entire barns take the training together?

Currently that option is not available.



If the owner of my horse has not taken the Safe Sport training, is the horse ineligible to compete?
Horses entered under owners who are on the Safe Sport Ineligibility List are ineligible to compete at USEF-sanctioned competitions.
 


Do Farm Members have to take Safe Sport training?
Farm entities are not required to take Safe Sport training.
 


How do I get in contact with Safe Sport for technical support? 

Please call 720-676-6417 for technical support or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For assistance setting up a Safe Sport account, please call 720-531-0344.

Additional information and resources on Safe Sport, how to report sexual and non-sexual misconduct, access to a free training module for parents of equestrian athletes, a Safe Sport FAQ, the Safe Sport Sanctions list, and more can be found at www.usef.org, navigate to Safe Sport Training on the member dashboard.

 
October 2018 - Back on Track

Carefully vetted new products expand the company’s comfort & health-oriented crusade.

The average pharmacy offers an overwhelming array of over-the-counter support devices for knees, ankles and other problematic joints. Some are called “sleeves” and some are called “braces.”

Though many consumers don’t know it, there’s a big difference. The “brace” designation denotes Federal Drug Administration approval, Back on Track’s extensive line of FDA approved braces is a distinction that means the world to the company’s U.S. leader Bo Lofvander. That level of dedication to proven product quality means a lot to the company’s consumers, too, because that is what helps them feel better, whether they are high performance athletes recovering from an injury, or a non-athlete anxious to ease everyday joint and muscle tension.

 


Welltex® is the foundation for all of Back on Track’s products and to its success. The innovative fabric consists of mineral-infused fibers that absorb and radiate body energy back to the wearer.

 

 

The result is what’s known as “long wave infrared radiation” which can help ease muscle tension, decrease inflammation and increase blood circulation. These combined effects play a big role in a range of supportive and therapeutic applications for joints and muscles, for horses, people and dogs.

The Welltex innovation launched the company 15 years ago and the insistence on highest quality and efficacy, as in the FDA brace distinction, is what has kept it at the top of the therapeutic equine industry.

“Our products have such a good reputation, so we will only add or recommend something that is truly exceptional,” Bo explains. “Back on Track is always striving to improve and expand our product line.”

The newest addition that meets Back on Track’s standard is Limber Up, the next generation of liniment and shampoo. The new products were developed by Stacey Small, founder of the former EquiLite and Sore No More liniments.

“I told Stacey that unless she could make a better liniment than what’s on the market already today, then I don’t want it,” Bo explains. After months of development, that’s exactly what she did, he states. “I did not give Stacey an easy task, but she excelled at creating a great all-natural product. We would not put the Back on Track logo on the product if we didn’t think it is the best in the market today! Limber Up is also safe to use with Back on Track products.”

Photo: Lynn Rose Equine Photography

The Limber Up Brace & Wash and Shampoo are rich in herbs and made of all-natural ingredients, rather than being alcohol-based. The “mint” part of its name gives it a refreshing scent and contributes to its soothing effect. Equally important, it’s been tested on the typically more sensitive skin of horses with albino or chestnut coats and found to have the desired effect.

In addition to Limber Up’s performance attributes, it has been Certified Drug Free by the Banned Substance Control Group. BSCG offers a complete suite of certification and testing services.

These programs offer protection to equines, canines or other competition animals subject to anti-doping policies of official animal-sport organizations including ARCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International), FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports), USEF (United States Equestrian Federation), and others. It offers assurance that the ingredients used to produce those products are free from banned substances and other harmful agents that can lead to health concerns or positive drug tests. (For more information visit www.bscg.org.)

Regular product testing is integral to Back on Track’s business model. The company’s extensive range of products for riders, horses and dogs is produced at their own factories. As each new batch of material is made, an independent university tests the level of reflected energy and its wavelength to ensure it meets the company’s high standards.
    
Something For Every Body Part

Venturing into the world of protective headgear, Back on Track whole heartily recommends the EQ3 helmet by Trauma Void. It features MIPS technology and has been a hot seller since Trauma Void made it available in the States in January of this year.  It uses “slip plane” technology involving two layers of protection that rotate against each other, mirroring the rotation of protective fluids that help protect the brain from impact. Ski and bike racers are among the sports that embraced MIPS long ago.

Back on Track began catering to the equestrian market and has branched well beyond that to include therapeutic apparel for non-riders and dogs.

Olympic gold medalist show jumper McLain Ward is one of many believers in the company’s equine products. “By using Back on Track leg wraps, we do a better job of the horse’s legs and we’ve stopped using poultice so it cuts down on the problem of skin irritation and drying out the legs.

“Using the blankets, we’ve noticed a great difference in the horses’ backs,” he continues. “We can go longer between the chiropractic treatments. This is a wonderful product that keeps our horses in great shape.”

The leg wraps and blankets McLain mentions join a long list of equine products. These include mesh sheets and saddle pads, and boots and wraps for fetlocks, hocks and knees, bell boots and a variety of boots for protection and support for everything from jumping and dressage to racing and polo.

Head and neck comfort and performance are addressed with the equine shoulder guard, poll cover, head cap and neck cover. All made of Welltex, these versatile pieces help warm up muscles, reducing injury risk and increasing range of motion. Radiating back body heat to the head, through the poll cover and neck cap, can calm horses by easing tension in those areas.

Back on Track’s people products are designed for everyone, athletes or not, and address the same scope of anatomy as their equine counterparts. Braces for the arms and legs, neck and back are complemented by shirts and undergarments addressing a wide range of needs. T-shirts made of Welltex may help ease everyday joint pain, for example, while the neck wrap and Dickey Bib are made for those recovering from whiplash or other neck related injuries or discomforts. Socks, shoe in-soles, scarves, and gloves complete a line that enables nearly head to toe coverage and comfort.

In addition, Back on Track launched a new product line aimed at improving the lives of active people. The + physio Line products are uniquely designed with a comfortable four-way stretch and the support of a brace. The braces are FDA-approved and include all the benefits of Welltex technology.

With U.S. headquarters in Pottstown, PA, Back on Track is already outgrowing a 14,300 -square foot warehouse it moved into only four years ago. Twenty-two people work on Stateside operations and another team is expanding the brand’s global reach.

New colors for the best-selling collared mesh sheets and Quick Wraps await fans this season, along with new braces made of four-way stretch Welltex. With innovation as its modus operandi, there’s no limit to Back on Track’s future.
    
For more information, visit www.backontrack.com.

 
October 2018 - Horse People: Emma Pacyna

Hard-working Region 8 Maclay Medal winner inspires a little help from her friends.

by Kim F. Miller

"You need to talk to Emma Pacyna.”

Georgy Maskrey-Segesman got that message from a few friends and fellow equestrian professionals about a year ago. She operates a sporthorse sales and leasing program at her family’s Whitethorne Ranch in Moorpark and was on the lookout for a working student suited to making the most of the opportunity.

 


Georgy knew of the Pacyna family for several years. Led by mom Michelle Pacyna, the family’s Fieldstone Riding Club is just a few miles from Whitethorne. And, Emma’s older sister Zoey rode with Karen Healey as a junior, when Karen’s business was based at Whitethorne, and Karen had helped both girls periodically over the years.

 

Emma’s riding abilities had already caught Georgy’s eye. “She has such a beautiful position – the quintessentially American forward style of riding. It’s a very East Coast look, elastic in her elbows and she follows the horse so well off the ground.” As the sponsor of the Whitethorne American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge, Georgy is a dedicated advocate of the style, following in the footsteps of mentors Karen and George Morris.

When friend Melissa Jones offered to set up a meeting with the Pacynas, Georgy was on board. Emma signed on as a working student, arriving at the HITS Thermal circuit early this year with several horses to campaign in the equitation divisions and help prepare for Whitethorne’s professional rider Savannah Jenkins.  

Emma Pacyna and Casalino at the Upperville Horse & Colt Show. Photo: Taylor Rains/Phelps Sports

She soon impressed Georgy to the point that the relationship now includes sponsoring 17 year old Emma through the final 18 months of her junior career. This includes a specific goal: earning an athletic scholarship to attend college and compete on a National Collegiate Equestrian Association team. “It’s always been my dream to ride in college,” says Emma, who hopes to become a veterinarian.

There’s a gravitational pull surrounding young people who help themselves, and Emma’s solar system is growing. Along with coaching and providing multiple horses for Emma to school at home and compete, Georgy helps with related costs. Savannah, an NCEA rider for Baylor University, offers support and advice and Karen provides pro bono coaching. Others are rooting for Emma as a hard working kid of normal economic means with talent and dreams in an unusually expensive sport.
    
Not Spoiled

“It’s so nice to do this with someone that’s not spoiled,” Georgy reflects. For Karen, Emma is the latest of several talented, hard working young riders she’s been happy to help over the years.

Emma’s character has been shaped by her parents, Michelle and Mark, and growing up in the family business at Fieldstone. The working student role is nothing new, including the experience of doing such a good job with a sales horse that it gets sold.

“My mom has always had sales horses, so I’m used to it now,” Emma confirms. “Plus it’s fun because you get to ride a bunch of different horses and have the experience of building up a connection with them.” Hands-on horsemanship is a Fieldstone priority, so grooming, stall mucking, tack cleaning and whatever else needs doing are a normal day’s duties for Emma.

Now a senior in high school, she’s been an independent study student since ninth grade and loves the schedule flexibility that allows. When the Whitethorne position entailed grooming for Savannah while she was campaigning Grand Prix horses at Spruce Meadows in Canada, Emma packed her homework and made the long haul with Georgy, Savannah and the horses.

They’ll do the same for many more big shows, but “not on a billionaire’s budget,” Georgy clarifies. Emma’s fearless attitude toward hard work is a perfect fit for the program’s do-it-yourself approach to hauling, mucking, grooming, etc., and her demeanor is the cherry on top. “She always has a smile, she’s wickedly funny and she rolls with the punches,” Georgy shares.
    

Photo: Jackie McFarland/EqSol

An Eastern Sensation

As the plan to attract the attention of top NCEA coaches took shape, Georgy decided a trip to the East Coast circuit was in order. Not to go after the big ribbons, but to check out the competition. “It was my first time going back East and it was meant more as a practice run,” Emma explains.

It turned out to be a little more than that. At the prestigious Devon Horse Show in May, Emma scored a 90 in the WIHS class for overall fifth amidst the nation’s top juniors. At the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in June, she won the USET Talent Search, the jumper phase of the WIHS Classic and the Vermont Horse Show Association/EMO Insurance Agency Hunter Seat Medal class.

Emma admits to being a tad intimidated by the quality of competition, though that didn’t affect her riding. Beautiful green scenery and chances to watch Olympic show jumpers Beezie Madden and McLain Ward compete in person were bonuses.

The much better than expected results should help in the recruiting process. “When she won the USET at Upperville, I almost had a heart attack,” laughs Georgy. With USET Talent Search Finals East and Maclay Finals winner McKayla Langmeier behind her on winner’s podium for one of those wins, Emma is no longer flying under the radar.

Back home in Southern California, Emma logged a big win of the Region 8 Maclay Finals in mid-September. These recent outings set up a confident return to the East Coast this month to tackle parts of the intensely competitive Indoors circuit. She and the Whitethorne crew head east for the Taylor Harris Medal Finals, the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal Finals – East, and the USEF Pessoa Hunt Seat Finals. The Maclay National Finals, at the National Horse Show in Kentucky, complete her ambitious fall itinerary on Nov. 4.
    

Gifts Gratefully Received

Casalino was Emma’s main equitation partner at Devon and Upperville. Not surprisingly, he’s since been sold. Going forward, however, Emma can count on having her Maclay Regionals partner, Constantinos, a 7 year old former jumper, for the duration of her junior career. It’s one of many gifts Emma is grateful for. “It’s great to have the chance to create a bond with him and really get to know him this year and next.”

“I turned down a half a million dollar offer for this horse,” Georgy acknowledges. “It may be a mistake, but he is not for sale. Yes, this is a business for me but, at the end of the day, this is my sport and I want to play!” Promoting a California kid to national prominence is another motivation. “We’re as good as the East Coast and I want to prove it.”

Plus, there’s the pure fun and excitement of being a team, or “a perfect storm of brilliance,” as Georgy calls it. “It’s not about me as a trainer, it’s about our collaboration – with Savannah and Karen and Emma. It’s success for all of us. That’s the dream.”

There’s a lot riding on Emma’s success and she hopes to deliver in a way that fulfills her own dreams and those of her team. Fieldstone’s veterinarians Maia Aerni, DVM and Marta Grandstedt, DVM, are among the many to whom she is grateful. Emma’s been a keen observer of their care over the years and cites that exposure as her motivation to join their profession. Last year, one of Fieldstone’s horses had kissing spine and Emma loved learning the back stretches and other techniques that helped him stay comfortable. She hopes to ride all her life, but says that “finding ways to keep horses comfortable and enjoying their lives” seems the most compelling career path.

Along with Georgy, Savannah and Karen, Michelle Pacyna gets credit and appreciation. “I have to thank my mom for allowing me to have this opportunity and teaching me everything up to point that I got this opportunity.” Sister Zoey gets a shout-out, too, as she’s happily picked up extra work at Fieldstone when Emma can’t spend her afternoons at the family training barn because she’s on the road competing.

Fieldstone has done its share of good deeds for young equestrians over the years, so Emma getting some help has a pay-it-forward feel. Georgy’s desire to support her is inspired by support she received from Tom Blackiston as a young rider.  And, also by the generosity and support of her parents and mentors in the sport.

Emma goes East just as recruiting inquiries are coming in and college applications await completion. Wherever the college quest ends, the journey is already as good at the destination for this inspiring team.

 
September 2018 - The Gallop: Calling All Contenders

Entries rolling in before Sept. 14 deadline for inaugural AON/USHJA National Championships in Las Vegas.

by Kim F. Miller

Entries for the inaugural AON/USHJA National Championships are off to a strong start as the Sept. 14 deadline nears. Held concurrent with the Las Vegas National CSI4*-World Cup Nov. 13-18, in Las Vegas, this long-in-the-works competition fulfills what organizer Pat Doyle sees as a big hole in the sport. A prominent horse show manager based in Chicago, Pat estimates that a majority of exhibitors want and are inspired by the “energy and excitement of a real national championships.”


The AON/USHJA National Championships will feature National Hunter Championships for Amateur Owner Hunters, Junior Hunters, Pony Hunters, Green Hunters, Adult Amateur Hunters and Children’s Hunters. They will also include the USEF/USHJA National Jumper Championships with eight sections of Jumper competition from 1.10m to 1.40m for Junior, Amateur and Open Jumper competitors. The Championships will feature the first of its kind USHJA Affiliate Championships at fence heights of 2’ and 2’6”, and the Championships will offer the USHJA National Equitation Championships for riders 14 and under and those 15-17.

USHJA members need to qualify for the Championships through points and classes in their zone. The top two in each division by the September 9 end of the qualifying period are assured invites and it’s likely that invitations will extend well beyond that. If qualified riders from other zones opt not to make the trip, more spots open up. It could happen that a majority of spots are filled by Californians and that’s fine by Pat.  

altOn top of advocating for a national championship for nearly 10 years, Pat lobbied for a West Coast kick-off. Given the cross-country trek that Californians normally have to make to compete in the major medal finals or other division national championships, “We wanted to have it somewhere that the West Coast could get really excited about.” Future locations are up in the air, with the possibility that it may stay in the West another year before rotating to the Midwest and East Coast.

The Las Vegas National is the perfect fit, says Pat of the host show managed by Stephanie Wheeler and the Blenheim EquiSports team as the finale for their busy year of Southern California competition. “Everybody loves the show and having the FEI World Cup class is great.

“My passion is to give the other 90 percent of exhibitors who have not had the opportunity to say ‘I’m a national champion’ their chance to do that,” Pat continues. “It’s exciting and is something so many riders can aspire to all year.”

Education, Fun & Money!

Renowned horse and human physical therapist Sharon Classen headlines an in-progress roster of educational presenters during the Championships. With separate talks geared to pros and owners, amateurs and youngsters, Sharon will talk about horse and rider fitness and care. Another idea in the works is having the judges of Saturday’s West Coast Equestrian Finals, Diane Carney and Chance Arakelian, offer commentary and Q&A sessions during national equitation championships classes earlier in the show. “It should be a great way to get kids energized and focused on what the judge is looking for,” says Pat.

Championship riders and their families receive free VIP access and social activities are likely to include a fun gathering before the Saturday night World Cup jumping class.

Good prize money is another draw. For example, each hunter division, from Green to Amateurs, Juniors and Ponies, offers $4,000, with $2,500 awarded in the Classic. All jumper divisions offer $1,000 Warm-Ups and Speed classes, with $10,000 Classics, from Adults at 1.10-1.15M to Open Jumpers at 1.4M.

“We are thrilled to offer championships for hunter, jumper and equitation sections that have never before had championships at the national level,” says USHJA President Mary Babick. “With riders qualifying by zone, we are looking forward to seeing members come from across the country to compete in these exciting Championships.”

Entries are available online through www.horseshowsonline.com, or members may mail their completed entry form to Ryegate Show Services.

For more information, visit www.ushja.com. The prize list is available at www.showpark.com.

The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 949-644-2165.

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>