August 2020 - Rain or Shine

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Premier Equestrian offers arena advice for California’s wild weather.

by Premier Equestrian

California has been known to have some extreme weather. From torrential El Niño rains to persistent state-wide drought, the weather in California is a challenge when related to equestrian arena maintenance. Add to that the California water restriction laws scheduled to take effect in 2023 and the challenges arena owners face in terms of water are real, expensive, and daunting. Proper arena maintenance includes water management, whether you’re draining water away or putting water on the surface. This article will look at the challenges created from too much rain or too much shine and some strategies to handle the flood or the dry dust-choked parch.

 


For arena footing to function at its best, sufficient moisture is essential. Too much water makes the surface un-ridable, too little can leave the surface deep and dusty. Properly maintained footing complements equine biomechanics by providing shock absorption, support and stability. Keeping just the right amount of water in the surface is critical for success.

Heidi Zorn, president of Premier Equestrian, North America’s leader for equestrian surfaces, was asked about how to deal with excess water and arena drainage.

“In any horse arena it’s the base that determines and affects drainage. Options range from a simple compacted base to arena drainage mat solutions. Compacted bases drain water off to the side; it’s slow and may wash away some of the footing with it. Mat systems, like OTTO Sport, drain the water vertically into a drain layer then into pipes. This allows the arena to be used immediately after a rain event compared to the traditional compacted base that may take days to dry out.”

Riding in heavy rain is possible with OTTO Sport base mats.

OTTO Sport Base Mats

OTTO Sport makes mats that are particularly suited for California rainfall. Installing OTTO Sport base mats will create a true all-weather riding surface. Each OTTO Sport Mat, one square meter in size, is comprised of drainage holes, water cups, several heights of traction knobs and locking rings. 252 holes in each mat let excess water flow through to a drainage layer beneath, the water flows away leaving the footing saturated but still ridable. Puddles and mud will no longer be an issue, even after a heavy rain. At the same time, each mat’s water retention cups hold up to one gallon of water (1,200 gallons for a standard dressage arena), which helps to ensure that the entire arena surface remains consistently hydrated when the sun finally comes out.

“OTTO Sport mats are amazing,” says Zorn. “We installed them at Arroyo Del Mar, Steffen Peters’ farm, because they need an arena that’s available every day, rain or shine. Before, they used to tarp the arena when rain was forecast, it took hours and made the arena useless. Now, with OTTO Sport arena mats they never have to tarp, and the arena can be used even when it is raining. It’s a very effective solution for too much water.”
OTTO Sport Base Mats are so effective that last season they were installed in the International Arena at The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (WEF) located in Wellington, FL.

The Ebb & Flow system – showing the layers. Installed by Olympia Footing, LLC.

Premier Ebb & Flow Base System

Another effective solution for rain management is the Premier Ebb & Flow System. “The Ebb & Flow system is great for handling rain but is also effective for keeping water at the surface,” continues Zorn. “Our Ebb and Flow system works in rain and shine. The system maintains a reservoir of water under the footing. When it rains the system pumps the water out, keeping the footing consistent and ridable. When it is dry the reservoir hydrates the footing from below. It’s all automatic and all very effective.”

For those with a serious commitment to managing water resources efficiently, the Premier Ebb & Flow System is a unique and effective option for conserving available water, ultimately leading to greater ease of arena maintenance and lower water costs.

The Ebb & Flow system provides consistent hydration of the arena surface from below; moisture is wicked up through the sand to the surface, effectively delivering moisture on demand. An electronic control panel monitors water levels, which can be fine-tuned to the centimeter. The system automatically releases excess water (such as after a heavy rain) and draws more water in as needed.

This base system consists of a liner and a pipe array, which is connected to both a water source and the electronic control. The pipe array is then covered in sand, followed by your footing of choice. Alternatively, OTTO Sport Mats may be installed between the base and the footing, providing a true state-of-the-art riding surface.

Dust can be controlled with SlowDust.

Dust in the Wind

On the other end of the California weather spectrum is drought. The result of drought is obvious: water restrictions, high water costs, and low water flow. Water is one of the main issues when it comes to arena maintenance and performance. When arena footing is dry it loses its support, body, and traction.         

Strategies for adding and retaining moisture in an arena are in high demand. California has passed water restriction laws that will affect the supply and cost of water for all people and industries beginning in 2023.

“There are things you can do to keep water in the arena,” says Zorn. “Each one has tradeoffs. The very first thing is to look at what’s in the footing. Some sand holds water better than others. Also, adding synthetic fibers and textiles can help retain moisture. Then, there are products you can add that will help retain moisture.”

HydroKeep absorbs and retains water.

Premier Hydro-Keep

Premier Hydro-Keep is one of the products that can help to retain moisture and reduce dust in riding arenas. Hydro-Keep is a polyacrylamide crystal with tremendous absorptive qualities—it can absorb as much as 20 times its weight in water. One pound of Hydro-Keep can absorb 40 gallons of water. Polyacrylamides are more common in daily life than you might think; they make diapers absorbent and are used in agriculture. Hydro-Keep is safe for humans and horses.

When Hydro-Keep crystals get wet, they expand by absorbing the water. Over time, as the soil surrounding it dries, the crystal contracts, releasing up to 95% of the water it contains. This flow between expansion and contraction of the crystals actually helps reduce soil compaction, an added benefit. While Hydro-Keep won’t eliminate the need to apply water to an arena surface, its ability to absorb water molecules and release them over time can result in an average 50 percent reduction in water use.

Hydro-Keep is supplied in 55-pound bags, which will each cover 6,900 square feet of surface area. It is easy to apply and can be combined with other additives for enhanced water retention. Hydro-Keep may be used indoors or outdoors, where it is non-toxic for animals and the environment. On average, one application lasts about three years.

Properly hydrated footing keeps horses safe.

SlowDust    

SlowDust is another Premier Equestrian product that helps during dry times by providing dust control. This product uses a flocculation polymer to bind microscopic dust particles together. To give an example, flocculants are widely used at water purification facilities, where they attract not just particles such as sand or debris but also potentially dangerous organisms like bacteria or protozoa. When clumped together by the flocculant, these now larger particles can be readily caught by water filtration systems.

SlowDust offers a similar effect to riding arenas. All arena sand, over time, will degrade into smaller and smaller particles due to the stresses of use; these particles contribute to increased dust. Dust particles are charged to a negative state. When applied to an arena, the positively charged flocculant polymer in SlowDust binds the dust particles to create a unified particle that is too heavy to be airborne.

SlowDust application has the added benefit of improving traction through particle stabilization. Similar to Hydro-Keep, SlowDust will reduce the need for watering by about 50%. It comes in a 55-pound bag, which covers 15,000 square feet of arena surface. SlowDust is easily applied with a fertilizer spreader and is safe for use both indoors and out. The polymer will degrade more quickly in direct sun, so users should expect to reapply every one to two years for an outdoor arena and every two to three years for an indoor.

International Arena at WEF – OTTO Sport base mats installed.

Magnesium Chloride

One of the most affordable options when it comes to preserving existing moisture within footing is the application of magnesium chloride. This form of salt is readily available at most major home/garden centers or wholesale distributors and can be applied with a fertilizer spreader, then groomed into the surface. Magnesium chloride draws moisture from the air and pulls it into the footing, thereby helping with dust control. Its chemical composition also makes magnesium chloride effective at preventing the formation of ice; therefore, it is a popular choice for moisture control at facilities located in colder climates, when supplemental watering is not possible.

However, magnesium chloride does have its limitations. While magnesium chloride is less corrosive than its cousin, calcium chloride, some animals still find it irritating to the skin, particularly on the lower limb. Further, its ability to draw moisture can have a negative effect on equine hooves; owners often need to treat animals with a farrier-endorsed hoof protectant. Finally, magnesium chloride is only appropriate for use in an indoor or covered arena, as even a moderate level of rain will wash it off the surface and into the surrounding watershed.

The International Arena at WEF was updated with OTTO Sport Base Mats.

Final Thoughts

No matter your budget, there is a solution to your arena’s moisture maintenance needs. The experts at Premier Equestrian, North America’s leading supplier of high-quality footing additives, arena groomers, base mat systems and arena consultation, are here to help you determine the best fit for your facility and your wallet. Premier Equestrian products are in use from the most elite venues to private arenas all over the world, and the staff is proud to use its advanced knowledge of equine biomechanics and footing to serve their customers’ needs.

Visit www.PremierEquestrian.comor call 800-611-6109.

 
August 2020 - How Many Horses?

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Varying reports regarding size of the U.S. horse population clarified by American Horse Council.

Several figures have been circulated regarding the U.S. horse population in the last few months. The American Horse Council wishes to clarify these statistics to avoid confusion and misunderstanding of the data.

There are presently three major organizations that collect and publish data regarding the U.S. horse population, albeit with different target audiences and different definitions.
 


The most comprehensive number comes from the 2017 National Economic Impact of the US Horse Population conducted by the AHC Foundation which counts 1,013,746 horse owners owning or leasing farms housing 7,246,835 horses in the U.S.

 

The USDA, National Agriculture Statistic Service (NASS) recently completed a census which counts only horses that are on working farms. This definition excludes boarding, training and riding facilities; as well as any other operation that fails to generate a minimum of $1,000 in sales of equine products, defined as “breeding fees, stud fees, semen or other”. NASS reports a total of 459,526 horse farms in the US, with an agricultural population of 2,847,289 horses.

In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) publishes a report on pets. While horses are defined as “livestock”, the AVMA study does ask owners about all types of animals in their care and thus publishes the number of horses reported. That number is 1,914,394.

The Food and Drug Administration utilized both the AVMA survey and information from USDA’s periodic surveys of farm animal populations to estimate the U.S. horse population at 3.8 million. FDA explained that population estimates are important for helping determine potential eligibility for drugs to be used for “minor uses”.
 
AHC President Julie Broadway noted “While NASS and AVMA statistics serve important purposes, only the AHC Foundation’s Study most closely reflects the total horse population in the US.” To purchase a copy of the 2017 National Economic impact Study go to www.horsecouncil.org and navigate to the 2017 Naational Economic Impact of the US Horse Population study.  

Press release provided by the American Horse Council.

 
August 2020 - Home Sweet Home

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Jamie Barge and her show jumpers are happily settling into their recently completed Malibu training facility.

photos: Joshua Nilsen Photography

International show jumping rider Jamie Barge recently moved her horses into her own training facility near her home in Malibu. The new construction project was preceded by research into best design ideas and equipment. The private six-stall facility is set on two acres close to the Pacific Ocean’s cooling breezes.
Three months of shelter-in-place allowed Jamie and her horses to settle in and take full advantage of the beautiful new facility. California Riding Magazine editor Kim F Miller enjoyed catching up with Jamie about the experience.


Kim: You’d been keeping your horses at a beautiful place, El Campeon Farm in Hidden Valley. Why did you want to have your own barn?
Jamie: I loved my time at El Campeon and still go there on a weekly basis. I had so much support from the staff there, even through the building process of my own barn. Christy Reich and Mark Audenino actually came to visit during construction to make suggestions and answered many, many questions along the way! For me, it was a financial decision to start building equity in a property.

Luebbo enjoys ComfortStall padded flooring and Haygain Steamed Hay.

Kim: How long did the process take and when did you start planning?
Jamie: The actual construction of the barn itself took about two years. We’ve been saving ideas and pictures for many years. My family bought the property in 2013 and began working with a local architect.
We did a lot of research both online and asking show professionals and fellow riders. We went and saw so many barns, too. A big part of planning is just knowing what works for your horses. We were building during the Woolsey Fire in 2018, which was extremely scary but also helped as we added extra fire protection.

Kim: Did you stick with your original plan in terms of design of barns and the arenas and the equipment? Or did you learn things along the way that caused you to make mid-stream changes?
Jamie: We did stick with our original plan which was made keeping coastal California climate as key. I’ve spent most of my life in barns, so I’ve seen many. In that sense, I have learned along the way.

Steamed hay is a stable staple.



Kim: What were “must haves” versus things that you could live without if you had to?
Jamie: My must haves were good footing, turn-out, and a place for my hay steamer. I had to choose between turn-outs or a walker and felt that my horses value their alone time in the turn-out more. They get worked, turned out and hand walked on a daily basis.
I also was never really a fan of in/out stalls, mostly because the ones I was used to were pipe corrals and the idea of the horses getting cast in the metal bars always scared me.  However, with our climate, in/out stalls make so much sense. It also gives the horses more room to move around.
We have one larger “out” for two stalls so two horses share who is outside. We designed the out with vinyl-wrapped wood and as little room as possible for casting. The horses love to be outside.
At first some of them, especially Bo (Luebbo), were skeptical. Bo is used to having a stall guard at the shows so I think he was confused about whether he was allowed to walk “out” of his stall by himself! Now he knows it and loves to sunbathe.

Kim: What barn company did you work with and why were they good?
Jamie: The barn is custom built but we purchased a hay shed from Ulrich Barns. This building was designed, ordered, delivered in consultation with their staff and we are very happy with it.

Kim: What are some of the products that are key to making the barn the best for your horses?
Jamie: The ComfortStall in the horse’s stalls seem to be the biggest hit. It makes stall cleaning easier, especially between horses if you want to disinfect a stall. The biggest plus is the horses love it! They are definitely lying down and off their feet more at night.
My Haygain hay steamer is another product that I think is great in my barn. We have the big one in our hay shed so it’s easy and convenient to use. We place a whole bale inside, but we separate the flakes so the hay steams more evenly. All my horses love their steamed hay.
The arena is also a big one. The footing was the most important thing for me. I originally wanted someone from Germany to build my arena as they were well-known for arenas with good footing.
However, we then met Dave Martin, who was local to my area. I was lucky that he was also re-doing the rings at El Campeon, so I got to ride on his work before he did my ring. He did an amazing job and I absolutely love it! The footing stays great through all the micro-climates here: the wind, the marine layer, the occasional heavy rainstorm!


    
Kim: What lessons did you learn in the process that might help others have an easier time?
Jamie: Be patient. It’s practically impossible to build on a deadline. Hold out for what you want and find a way to make it work with all the building requirements. Having a contractor who was dedicated, conscientious and creative was critical. Also know that as you use the barn there will be some things you’ll have to change or adjust. That’s all a part of being in a new barn. The base board in your arena will get nicked; that’s what it’s there for!
When I first moved my horses to my barn, Rocco figured out how to open the stall doors. But he loves attention so he would wait and open the door right in front of you: kind of like “Look what I did!” Fio quickly learned Rocco’s trick but waited until he thought no one was looking. I came out of the hay shed and he was walking out of his stall! We had to go back and put carabiners on the stall doors. They also figured out how to pull the end cap off the latch and watch the spring go flying. They thought that was really fun for a few days. We ended up just taking the springs off the latches.

Kim: Are there pros and cons to living so close to the barn?
Jamie: I live less than a mile from the barn. This has been really nice as I can get there quickly if necessary. The only con I can think of is there’s not enough time to drink a cup of coffee on my commute! My barn is small enough to make sure each horse gets as much attention, training, and top-level care as needed. My barn was designed and built with the horses as a number one priority, while also being efficient for us caretakers.

Kim: Thank you, Jamie!!

 

 
July 2020 - The Gallop: Be The Change

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Amidst much talk, actions speak loudly in the effort to bring inclusion and diversity to equestrian sports. 

by Kim F. Miller

“Be the change we seek in the world.”

This paraphrase of Mahatma Gandhi’s words is an emerging response from the equestrian world to racial injustices brought brutally to new light by George Floyd’s death on May 25. As protests denouncing excessive police force and promoting Black Lives Matter continued into June, equestrians stated their cases on social media and in person in demonstrations throughout the state.


Current events also prompt a look at actions underway for many years and those poised to bring exposure, diversity, inclusion and opportunity to equestrian sports going forward. They’re not enough on their own, but they illustrate the impact of horse people deciding to be the change they seek.

Horse Power

The night before Bay Area horsewoman Brianna Noble vaulted to national fame, she saw the video of Floyd’s death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. It was the “exact same thing” that happened to Oscar Grant in 2009, she explained, referencing the first incident that prompted her to public activism.

Brianna Noble and Dapper Dan at the Oakland rally. Photo: Beth LaBerge (https://www.bethlaberge.com). Brianna challenges all to post a picture of themselves on a horse, with raised fist, and post with the hashtags: #blacklivesmatter and #humblehorsemanship

The next day, Friday May 29, Brianna hauled her horse Dapper Dan to downtown Oakland and joined a demonstration. The sight of the beautiful, black 25-year-old and the 17.1-hand horse whose haunch bore a cardboard “Black Lives Matter” sign had an immediate impact. Images and interviews spun around the globe.

Showing up on horseback was intended to “give the media something positive,” she told the New York Times. “A good bright positive image to focus on, as opposed to some of the destruction.”

Early in the ensuing explosion of media interest, Brianna recognized the chance to “be the change I want to see in my community.” She began channeling the attention toward the Humble Project, her long-held dream of a program giving disadvantaged kids exposure to and opportunities with horses.

“Horses can be life changing, but usually only for the rich,” she states. “I’m one woman on one horse and I made a difference. I want to use that to create a positive future for kids who are going to change the world -- for the next generation.”

Turning “problem” horses around to sell was Brianna’s initial method of supporting herself as an adult in the horse industry. More recently, she has focused on beginning lessons, trail horses and training as Mulatto Meadows in the Oakland area’s Briones. In early June, she launched The Humble Project and, as of June 31, had raised $44,000 toward a hoped-for $100,000. “Exposing underprivileged and marginalized communities to the horse world” is its mission.

Members of the Compton Cowboys taking part in the June 7 Compton Peace Ride. Photo: Lindsey Long

The Skin We’re In

Providing a safe and supportive environment is a big priority.  While costs keep many out of the sport, Brianna notes that “the color of the skin is a huge driving force in that as well.” Having now worked and, earlier, taken occasional lessons, at several stables in the East Bay area, she says, “I’ve probably never had one barn in my life where my skin wasn’t a topic or something that caused something bad to happen.”

Experiences range from being stared at to “people complaining and not wanting you around.” Having a person ask “Why the palms of my hand are light?” and “reach out and try to pet me” are manifestations of the deep-rooted racism she’s encountered. The insensitivity of the recent touching incident is extra offensive in this time of COVID-19 social distancing.

Accomplished young FEI dressage competitor Genay Vaughn says she hasn’t personally experienced overt racism. Yet, “I have witnessed looks of surprise when others come to find that I am a rider and not a groom at competitions.

“As a person of color, when you walk into the room, even if you walk in wearing the uniform that communicates that you’re there to compete, people will see you differently,” she continues. “This is even more so if you’re black and you’re really good, because you are defying expectations of what black people can do.” (For a fuller perspective from Genay, read her article in this issue.)

Grand Prix jumping rider Mavis Spencer in the Compton Peace Ride. Photo: Lindsey Long

“Even talking about this issue,” can be a problem for an African American trying to make it in the horse world, Brianna says. “It’s hard enough to make it as a trainer, then you lose people (clients) because everyone does not have the same belief as you do.”

Building a sense of community is a Humble Project priority. “We don’t have a support system and I want to create that for young riders coming up in the sport.”

She hopes to broaden that within the larger equestrian community. She hopes that the many professionals who’ve offered support will do things like bring their students for shared lessons or to help Humble’s entry-level equestrians. “I think we will have better horsemen if we can learn something and teach something.”

Her native East Bay Area is in need of The Humble Project, says Brianna. She cites the Compton Jr. Posse and Detroit Horse Power as good examples of how valuable inner-city youth equestrian programs can be in building healthy futures for kids of color and from tough circumstances.
    

Victoria Faerber and gold medal show jumper Will Simpson coaching Riders United students.

The Compton Jr. Posse

The Compton Jr. Posse was founded by Mayisha Akbar in 1988 to “keep kids on horses and off the streets.” Along with instruction on caring for and riding horses at the Posse’s Richland Farms base in Compton, Mayisha built friendships throughout the horse show industry. These connections helped create the exposure and opportunity that are considered critical to increasing diversity and inclusion in equestrian sports.

(Editor’s Note: When Mayisha retired at the end of 2018, the Posse was renamed Compton Junior Equestrian. It is affiliated with the Compton Cowboys, which includes many riders who started with the Posse. The Compton Cowboys were prominent in the June 7 Compton Peace Ride and social activism is part of their mission. When the Jr. Posse disbanded, its longtime riding director Victoria Faerber launched the non-profit Riders United to continue working with show-ready Posse students from her training bases in Calabasas.)

Olympic gold medal show jumper Will Simpson was a Jr. Posse clinician and resident BBQ master at fundraisers for years. Dale Harvey’s West Palms Events regularly provided show scholarships -- covering entry fees, stalls and lunches -- to the Posse’s show-ready riders and transported kids to the Del Mar International to watch the Grand Prix.

Dale eschews accolades. Instead, “It’s a good time to point out that there are people who give a sh@# about this issue” and to recognize the “difference between talking and doing. And, even between writing a check and doing. There are people really contributing and affecting change in a hands-on way.”

For the most part, the main goal of the Compton Jr. Posse, Horses In The Hood and similar programs is using horses to show students the wider world and its opportunities, to teach responsibility and to build confidence. Going onto an adulthood with horses is less important than going onto a healthy, purposeful life.

Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner is a Compton Jr. Posse graduate who is building a life with horses. At 12, his grandfather got him riding with the Jr. Posse. He now runs his own small hunter/jumper training program based at Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula and works with Victoria Faerber in Riders United.
    

Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner competing at a Nilforushan Equisports Event show.

Intentional Naiveté?

Of current events as they apply to the horse world, Nathan says, “I do believe in inclusion and that all lives matter, including black lives, and I keep a very peaceful approach to it.” He acknowledges possibly “intentional naiveté” about prejudice in his profession. “I try not to let anything blind me or make me feel like I can’t do something,” he explains. He acknowledges a sense of “having to mind my Ps & Qs” more than others in his behaviors and action, real and perceived.

Now aged out of the West Palms Events show scholarships that helped him get to this level, Nathan aspires to having a sizeable training program and to jump in the Olympics. “I’ve been blessed to work with some great people,” he notes of coaches that currently include Grand Prix jumper Susie Hutchison.  

He also hopes to help riders with backgrounds similar to his own by working with Victoria Faerber and Riders United at its Temecula branch.

Victoria has broad ambitions for Riders United. Having grown up in the Thoroughbred racing industry, she foresees partnering retired racers with inner city kids as they become more advanced equestrians. She wants to include education, arts and performance to broaden Riders United’s benefits and reach. “My dream would be to have a performance art team that tells a story, like they do in Cavalia. Some kids would ride. Some would do music, others the art.”

Horses will always be the core. “Being involved with horses does amazing things. Even if they don’t compete, riders are empowered and they learn to love and be responsible.” Many of the horses are donated, often because they have some flaw. “So, they also really bond with the horses in ways that give these horses a sense of purpose.”

She’s grateful for the ongoing competition opportunities provided by West Palms Events and Nilforushan Equisport Events and reports future possibilities with the Langer Equestrian Group shows.

“Every show is like a year of riding lessons,” Victoria explains. “They get to perform, to overcome fears and to support each other. They can learn so much. I like our kids doing the A shows. They see the strict rules and a higher bar to reach for. They see that they have to ride correctly and do things right.”

Compton Jr. Posse rider Zoie Brogdon competing at the Del Mar International. Photo: JXB Photography.

Calls To Action

“We’ve got to stop all this snooty stuff,” asserts The Humble Project’s Brianna Noble when asked what equestrians of all colors can do to increase diversity and a sense of inclusion. It starts with ensuring that barns and shows are welcoming places, where saying “hello” to a stranger is a regular occurrence rather than a suspicious rarity.

Look out for a person “who is looking for an opportunity to work and make something of themselves,” she stresses. “Somebody has to see us. Maybe give a chance to the brown kid whose family can’t afford the lessons.” Unpaid working student positions that help some riders advance aren’t options for a self-supporting rider, she notes.

She’s grateful to Marlene Fultz of A Star-Lit Farms in San Joaquin County’s Ripon for giving her both an opportunity and a reality check. “I was 19 and working as a vet tech when she took me over to her barn and let me ride some horses. She saw how hard I worked and she sat me down and said, ‘Look, I know you have Olympic goals, but you have to come from money to do that.’”

Marlene encouraged a more realistic profession with horses, Brianna says. Retraining “project horses” to be good partners for trail or beginning riders seemed like a crazy idea, she admits. Yet, proceeds from doing that enabled her to make a living as an equestrian -- and to buy her first horse trailer. Brianna liked the emphasis on horsemanship and training, expertise that can help her fill what she sees as a void in many show-focused training programs. Dapper Dan, the horse on whom she rose to fist-raised fame in Oakland, is one of those project horses.
   

Photo: Lindsey Long

Photo: Lindsey Long

Reactions, Discussions, Opportunities

Show organizer Dale Harvey “observed a range of reactions” to his team’s efforts to bring Compton Jr. Posse riders into the show scene. “A lot of it is positive and there have been many touching, funny moments. And some comments that were not so nice. Like ‘Where would this go for any of these kids?’ I was blown away that somebody would say that. It was discouraging. But a lot of people in our community made a point of befriending these kids and making them feel welcome.”

FEI dressage rider and para dressage coach Shayna Simon says that her mulatto and Jewish heritage “has not been a huge issue for me” in the international dressage world. “I’ve been treated very fairly.” Yet she understands how it could be an uncomfortable arena to enter for all whose skin color sets them instantly apart from the sport’s predominately white participants.  “If somebody of color says it doesn’t bother them being in an all-white world, they’re lying.”

Shayna says the best outcome of current events is more frank conversations. “I think it’s giving black people the option to speak freely about what they are uncomfortable with and that it will free up their soul to get it off their chest.” Equally, the attention is “really good because a lot of people think (racism) doesn’t occur because they are not directly involved in it. Because of what is happening, it gives people the opportunity to ask, ‘How can I support you? What can I do?’”

Such conversations are a “necessary first step to taking action,” says fellow African American FEI dressage rider Genay Vaughn. “Equestrian sports should welcome conversations like these because we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the sports world as a community that embraces diversity and provides opportunity to experience all that equine culture has to offer.”

The larger world offers ample examples of the benefits of embracing diversity and inclusion. “Our most profitable corporations and universities have recognized the value in enacting institutional change,” she notes. At the 2019 Sports Business Journal Conference, the benefits of diversity were promoted by executives in mainstream sports ranging from baseball to wrestling.

Dale Harvey says providing show scholarships and bringing Jr. Posse kids in to see the show isn’t good for his business’ bottom line. “Obviously, there’s not a financial return on that. But it’s not about the business. It’s about humanity. It’s about doing the right thing.”
    
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 .

 
July 2020 - Taking A Stance on Diversity

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Equestrian federation states its position on diversity and inclusion and shares resources.

US Equestrian issued a letter stating its solidarity with and support of the “black members of our community.” Signed by CEO Bill Moroney, the June 9 e-mail also outlined action plans for the sport governing body. These include:

 


1. Educating ourselves is the first step. Going forward, every employee will be required to take Diversity and Inclusion training, as well as Unconscious Bias training, each year.

 

As we work to schedule these trainings, there are many resources immediately available to our entire equestrian community. We are asking our employees and encouraging our members to take some time and utilize the resources below to educate themselves on the history and importance of these issues.

Resources include:
• The Inclusion Playbook
• The Inclusion Playbook is a Sports Impact project led by a civil rights advocate and former Division 1 athlete with the goal of empowering social change agents to transform communities in and through sports.
• The Inclusion Playbook is hosting a series of free webinars this summer, beginning this week on June 11 at 2pm ET with “Olympic Impact: Emerging Issues in Sports Diversity & Inclusion.” We encourage all staff to attend. They are free:  https://www.inclusionplaybook.com/webinar .

2. Board approval and implementation of a US Equestrian Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement and Action Plan. Over the past several months, Ashley Swift, a dedicated member of our Communications Department, has been leading this work and her recommendations will be presented to the Board of Directors at the Mid-Year Meeting. There will be opportunities for members and staff of US Equestrian to engage with and contribute to this program.

3. Increased communication to members on US Equestrian’s commitment to do its part to fight against racism. This includes providing members with educational resources – including training on Diversity and Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias – and ways to work to end racism. We know we cannot do this alone, but we can – and will – do our part.

The letter reminded fan and competing USEF members they have access 24/7 to a mental health first aid hotline at 1-800-633-3353.

For more resources provided by the USEF, visit www.usef.org.

 
July 2020 - Making Lemonade

news

Friends, strangers and social media turn two heartbreaks into a happy ending.

by Britta Jacobson

“When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.” You have all heard this slightly sarcastic saying about dealing with things when they do not go your way.

This embodiment of that philosophy began with the joy of two new foals entering the world...a long hoped-for colt out of the 18.1 hand black Clydesdale mare, Nakita, and a filly out of a little 14.1 hand Quarter Horse reining mare named Whiz Ms Dolly.

 


Within the horse world there are many different disciplines and the boundaries between them are seldom crossed.

 

The story starts with a double tragedy -- a stillborn foal and the death of mare who had just given birth -- and the willingness of strangers to help each other.

The first phone call regarding the Clydesdale came from the veterinary clinic at 8 p.m. on April 9. “I wanted to let you know that your mare Nakita gave birth to a healthy colt,” was the message for Nakita’s owners Carl and Kirsten Absher. “He is up and has already nursed once. If you want to come see them tonight we will make an exception to the normal visiting hours.” The Abshers lived 40 minutes away in Shingle Springs, California and wasted no time in making the trip to the clinic to meet the new arrival.  

The second call came the next day at 4 a.m. The mare was down with complications, but because she had been under observation, as was the clinic protocol, they caught it immediately. A third and then a fourth call came in to inform the stunned owners that, at 4:19 a.m. April 10, their mare had died.

Not wanting the risks of raising a foal without a mother, the Abshers reached out to their friend Shamarie Tong for help in locating a nurse mare.  

Meanwhile...

That same morning, 130 miles away in Santa Rosa, my Quarter Horse mare, Whiz Ms Dolly, gave birth to a stillborn filly.

Having bred and raised my own competition horses for many years and having been in the situation of raising an orphaned foal many years ago, I knew that my loss could benefit someone else. While still monitoring the mare with our veterinarian, I immediately posted on Facebook that I had a nurse mare available.

Enter friends, social media and strangers willing to help. Shamarie Tong posted that her friends lost a mare and were hoping to find a nurse mare. Ryan Fowler of Skyline Silversmiths was the first one to connect the two posts. When I was made aware of the orphaned foal, I wasted no time in calling the Abshers.

Kirsten Absher laughs when she recalls that phone call. “Hi, this is Britta Jacobson of Bennett Valley Ranch. My mare just had a still born foal this morning and if you want a nurse mare, I suggest you pack up your foal right now and get down here. We have saved the placenta to help introduce your foal to my mare.”

“It sounded more like a command than anything,” Kirsten continues. “It was just exactly what my husband and I needed to hear at that moment. Several hours later Kiskasen was given the OK to travel.”

I hadn’t thought to ask about the breed of the foal prior to the transport. I was somewhat surprised to find out it was a Clydesdale!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, once the foal arrived at my Bennett Valley Ranch everyone donned masks and gloves. Carl and Kirsten rubbed the colt thoroughly with the placenta I’d saved from my mare’s stillborn foal. Then I draped it over the foal’s back and led in the distraught Whiz Ms Dolly. After a few tense minutes, the mare began to relax. To everyone’s relief, she allowed Kiskasen to nurse.  

By late May, Spindrifts Kiskasen was growing up nicely alongside his adopted mother. You can’t miss this pair: Whiz Ms Dolly is 14.1 hands and her adopted son will be as tall as her soon! My husband and I breed and train Quarter Horses and I am an NRHA Non-Pro reining competitor. The purebred Clydesdale colt stands out among our other horses in size and appearance but is otherwise fitting in just fine.

A significant portion of the approximately 600 Clydesdales born in the United States each year are bay, with the other colors being chestnut, black, or roan. Kiskasen is one of the small percent that will be black once he sheds his baby fuzz.   

So, if you ever see a black Clydesdale pulling the famous Budweiser wagon, remember the little Quarter Horse mare and the generosity and ingenuity of the horse community that enabled him to grow into his big, strong self.

 
August 2020 - In Memoriam: Robert E. Smith

news

Eventing advocate leaves a cherished legacy.

by Leslie Mintz, for the US Eventing Association

Longtime USEA member and supporter Robert E. Smith has passed away following a battle with cancer. Smith was born in 1946 and grew up in Malibu, California. He started out riding on his parent’s ranch and originally competed in hunters and jumpers.

 


In 1968, Smith transitioned to eventing and began training with Hilda Gurney at the Woodland Hills Pony Club. He had two very successful horses – Malibu Lad, who competed through Intermediate, and Timber Top, who competed through Advanced, including at the famous 1977 Ledyard International. Smith then lent Timber Top to Brian Sabo, who would successfully ride him around Ledyard once again as well as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

 

Ledyard would be Smith’s last event as he decided to focus on the development of the sport in Area VI and at the national level. Smith moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work for the California Public Utilities Commission after graduating from the University of California Los Angeles with a master’s degree in Public Health.

In 1976 Smith, along with Kay Hitch, Janey Bennett, Vicky Matisi, Jackie Ahl, and Sabo, founded the Combined Training Equestrian Teams Alliance (CTETA). “His dream was to create an ‘Adult Pony Club’ to foster horsemanship as a next step beyond Pony Club,” explained his friend Sabo. “On the long drives coast to coast we had endless talks about the Combined Training Equestrian Teams Alliance (Bob loved long names!).

Eventually, CTETA became a nationwide organization, was an affiliate of the USCTA (now USEA), and had 22 “Combined Training Teams” with a similar structure to the U.S. Pony Clubs. We conducted many ratings, and with our 501 (c) designation and insurance, ran clinics across the country. Many adults were certified in ratings that included written and riding tests culminating in receiving certification from Level 1 through 4.”
    
Woodside Heritage

In 1982, CTETA, with Smith as President, secured a lease on a 272-acre piece of property owned by Stanford University and known locally as Guernsey Field and began to host a wide range of equestrian activities for a number of different disciplines including eventing, hunter/jumpers, polo, driving, and reining. CTETA hosted the USCTA Western DeBroke Championships beginning in 1996. In 1998 the facility was renamed the Horse Park at Woodside, now a hub of training and competition in several disciplines.

From 1985-1987 Smith served on the USCTA Board of Governors and he was recognized with a Governor’s Cup in 1995 due to his devotion to the sport. The winner of the Woodside CCI4*-S is given the Founder’s Cup in honor of Smith.

“Bob’s influence on the sport was immeasurable and his legacy provides our sport benefits that will continue long into the future,” said Sabo. “Of course, a book could be written on Bob and his journey. But his legacy would be the furtherance of the sport he loved, and he would be happy with that.”

In his later years Smith took up combined driving, and in 2008 he married Andrew Garcia and they lived at their Handy Horse Farm in Wilton, California.

The USEA sends its deepest condolences to all of Smith’s family, friends, and connections.

Article reprinted courtesy of US Eventing.

 
August 2020 - Senior Spotlight: Sophia Siegel

news

A positive outlook on things beyond her control makes the most of an unusual junior career finalé.

by Kim F. Miller

For all its privileges and pleasures, the horse life can be humbling, too. Through three years of going out for the North American Youth Championships Zone 10 teams, Sophia Siegel knows that first-hand. She’s batting .300: good for baseball, but not so much in the horse world and especially when two of three at-bats disappeared without even getting a swing in.

 


Sophia represented the Zone 10 Junior team in 2017, and had earned a team spot for 2019 when an injury sidelined Eleganto VDL, aka “Elmo,” shortly before leaving for New York. Another top mount, Classic Verite, aka “Charlie,” also went on the injured reserve around the same time.    

 

Happily, both were ready for a return to work early this year, and a relatively green mount, Barracuda, is coming along nicely.

With Charlie, Sophia was aiming to make the NAYC Young Riders (1.45M) team this summer. This time, the pandemic put paid to the plan. Originally slated for July, the Championships were cancelled fairly early in what became three-and-half months of show cancellations.  

Sophia graduated high school in June and had high goals and hopes for what she could accomplish in her last junior year of showing. “It’s a bummer, but it’s OK,” she says. “The show season is obviously not going to be what we expected.” She sees an upside for her horses’ mental health. “I don’t think my horses have gone this long between showing. They’ve always been on the go and it’s been nice to see them take a deep breath.”

Sophia has enjoyed keeping her show horses fit, healthy and ready to return when the time comes.
    
Good Use of Extra Time

The time-off has given her more time for horsemanship pursuits beyond the show ring. One of those is a 2-year-old that lives at Branscomb Farm in Half Moon Bay. The dam is Suleika 525, Sophia’s first NAYC prospect. The sire is Grand Prix jumper and elite Belgian Warmblood Jonkheer Z, who stands at Pomponio Ranch.  

She’s also had more time to volunteer with the Into The Light Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Woodside. This rescue is a little different than others because most of its charges are young, typically between 2 and 5 or 6. Most originate from wild Mustang populations.

Highlights of her first year of helping at Into The Light include being the first person to sit on one youngster’s back and helping others progress on their paths to being re-homed as safe, sane riding horses whenever possible. “It’s not like starting a show horse,” Sophia says. “They are much more chill because of the environment in which they are raised.”

Sophia Siegel. Photo: Sophia Jain

Working with these horses helps maintain a broader perspective on the horse world, Sophia reflects. “In our sport, and especially when jumping at the high levels, it can be easy to lose touch: to view the horses as a vehicle for success.” Helping horses who might otherwise have been headed to slaughterhouses ensures that she never takes anything for granted.

These hours of hands-on horsemanship also made it easier to cope with the lack thereof during the stable shut-downs in her Peninsula area. She was grateful to be able to keep taking lessons with her coaches Harley and Olivia Brown in Portola Valley, but not a fan of showing up and going straight to the mounting block. “We had to wait outside the barn for my horse to be magically brought to me, ready to ride. That was tough because I enjoy spending time with them and grooming them. I love them like pets. But, I do consider myself lucky to have been able to ride. I know other barns were not that fortunate.”

Her observations all fit her coach Harley Brown’s description of Sophia as a horsewoman: “She is really dedicated, she works really hard and she loves the horses.” Even without Sophia able to compete at NAYC last summer, Harley Brown Equestrian had three riders on the Zone 10 silver medal winning squad. “Our barn is chock full of competitive young riders and Sophia fits right in,” Harley says. Along with riding chops, “Everybody likes her and she’s easy to train.”

Sophia started riding with Toni and Colin McIntosh, then rode with the Thomases at Willow Tree Farm before moving to the Browns about a year ago.

Good News, Too!

The disappointment of the COVID-19 show cancellations was offset with the realized dream of acceptance to Stanford University this fall. “It’s been my dream,” Sophia says. She enters as a biology major with special interest in environmental conservation and marine biology.

Having juggled high level riding and academics throughout her life, Sophia expects to keep doing the same throughout college. She lives 20 minutes away from the Stanford campus and she can keep her horses and continue riding with the Browns in Portola Valley.  Given the COVID-19 situation, her first fall will most likely be online, which makes it a little easier to juggle studies and competing.

In late June, Sophia and her horses returned to competition, trekking south to the Nilforushan Equisports Events Temecula Valley National Summer Series at Galway Downs. With her relatively green jumper, Barracuda, she was second in the High Classic during Week 1. And Elmo is coming back nicely, taking a red ribbon in a 1.2M class the same week.

“It is really refreshing to see everybody again,” Sophia says. “It seemed like everybody picked up where they left off: nobody missed a beat. It does make me appreciate the sport and the fact that it’s outside, especially as Gov. Newsom just announced the closing of indoor group activities. I think we’ve all been a bit lonely and it’s really nice to see everybody and to see them doing so well. Everyone is being team players and congratulating each other on being back and doing well.”

Sophia’s next shows were as uncertain as everybody else’s at press time, but she is sure about eventually moving up into the Grand Prix ranks. “I’m really grateful for all the horses I’ve had, but they’ve all been a little challenging.” Although she was always stepping up herself, “I had to be their guide as we moved up.”  She and the Browns are scouting for a new horse for the Grand Prix division.

Meantime, she’s happy to keep bringing out the best in the horses she owns and those she gets to work with, from her jumpers to the Into The Light steeds and her 2-year-old.

 
August 2020 - The Shows Go On!

news

Shuffling of dates and locations and Herculean efforts on the part of show managers got the California show circuit back on track. Kudos to the many who made these highlights and many others possible.


USHJA Gladstone Cup at Sonoma Horse Park

Presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, the USHJA Gladstone Cup took place at the Sonoma Horse Park. It was the only class featured on Friday, June 17 and drew 39 riders who competed for judges Maggie Jayne and Fran Dotoli. While the show ran in the “new normal” format, it was familiar riders in the top 4: Payton Potter took top honors, followed by Sophia Sanders, Stella Wasserman and Taylor Griffiths-Madden.

Payton Potter & Khaled. Photo: GrandPix Photography

Cassio Rivetti & Kaiser Van Het Lameroeck. Photo: TheWestEquestrian

Cammie Edwards and Idol Hour. Photo: MGO Photography



Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials
July 2-5 in Paso Robles
  • Cammie Edwards and Idol Hour topped the Senior Beginner Novice Rider division.
  • James Alliston & Paper Jam took top honors in the Open Intermediate
  • Taren Hoffos & Regalia win the Open Training.

James Alliston & Paper Jam. Photo: MGO Photography

Taren Hoffos & Regalia. Photo: MGO Photography

Zume Gallagher & Edita. Photo: McCool Photography


Temecula Valley National Summer Series
June 24-28 at Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula
  • Cassio Rivett & Kaiser Van Het Lambroeck win the $25,000 Alliant Private Client National Grand Prix.
  • Joie Gatlin & High Five were runners-up.
  • Kaitlin Campbell & Doraindo were third.

Blenheim EquiSports Summer Festival
July 15-19 in San Juan Capistrano
  • Zume Gallaher & Edita top the $25,000 1.4M Markel Insurance Grand Prix.

West Palms Events Welcome Back
July 8-19 at Del Mar Horse Park
  • Seventeen-year-old Trent McGee earned his first Grand Prix win aboard his mare, Boucheron, in the Sunshine Grand Prix staged in honor of Joe Lombardo, who passed away the same weekend. Trent is a Michael Nyuis Scholarship recipient and an awesome young horseman.
  • Julia Rossow & Goodnight Moon earned top honors in week one’s USHJA National Hunter Derby.
  • Trent McGee & Boucheron. Photo: Sara Shier Photography

    Julia Rossow & Goodnight Moon. Photo: Sara Shier Photography

 
July 2020 - Entrigue Consulting

cover

Innovative marketing, business guidance, and a range of options help equestrian sport and its stake holders achieve a return on their investment.

by Kim F. Miller

Kelly Artz is a lifelong horsewoman who sees a lot of untapped potential in equestrian sports. With Entrigue Consulting, she has made it her business to help stake holders build their brand and find personal and financial successes like that found in mainstream sports.

Entrigue is a full-service marketing and brand strategy consulting agency. It represents brands of all types and sizes, primarily equestrian. Clientele ranges from individual riders and training businesses to product manufacturers and retail businesses, big and small. She and her team welcome all comers from start-ups with a good idea to established efforts that need a reboot.

 


“If you have a business, you have a brand,” Kelly asserts. She likens owning a business to having a horse or a child in the sense that it needs to have its growth nurtured and guided every step of the way.

 

Entrigue Consulting CEO, Kelly Artz, with her mare, California-bred Kailaani. Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Experts in all facets of digital marketing comprise the core of the Entrigue team. Websites, graphic design, visual story-telling, small business strategy, search engine optimization, and staying one step ahead of the ever-evolving social media landscape are among her team members’ areas of expertise.  “You’re only as good as your team,” Kelly says.

 Her lifetime involvement with horses and the equine industry allow her to guide a team that is all about “connecting the dots” for clients. “Moving riders and businesses toward their goals helps move the whole sport forward,” she notes.

Kelly and her dressage partner, Winston. Photo: Kristin Lee Photography


Speaking From Experience

Kelly speaks equestrian clients’ language. She is an HB United States Pony Club graduate who spent her early 20s as a working student for multiple trainers, including Canadian Olympic eventer Hawley Bennett. Since then, she has imported and sold jumpers from Europe in the U.S., founded three companies including Entrigue, and continues to compete in the show ring.

After switching from eventing to dressage, Kelly quickly earned her USDF Bronze and Silver medals. She rode on the U.S. team for the 2019 Maccabi Games in Budapest, Hungary, winning individual silver and team bronze medals. Kelly currently competes her 17-year-old KWPN gelding, Winston, and her 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare, Kailaani, bred by Californian Leslie Morse.  

Beyond the arena, Kelly has an MFA in digital media from UCLA and a BA in Psychology. She served as an analyst for production consultants prior to founding Entrigue, working on big name accounts such as Hersheys and Gatorade. She spent two years producing a feature documentary about female jockeys, working with Chantal Sutherland, Kayla Stra, Julie Krone, Mike Smith, Victor Espinoza and more. She also founded and operates the successful equestrian apparel company, Anique.

The unique combination of horsemanship, education, business experience, and a forward-thinking approach enables Kelly to lead Entrigue’s clients to success on many levels: financially and in taking pride in their brand.

Entrigue is walking Kelly’s talk. Entrigue’s roster of clients has grown to include many of industry’s biggest names and brands over the past few years. Olympic medalists Will Simpson and Laura Graves are on that list, as are collaborations for the Kentucky Derby and the Longines Global Champions Tour. Equipe, County Saddlery and Grand Prix Riding Apparel have also been among Entrigue’s corporate clients.
    

Kelly Artz with announcer Noah Rattner at Del Mar Fairgrounds

Nothing Happens Overnight

Kelly compares building an effective marketing strategy to building a Grand Prix dressage horse -- It doesn’t happen overnight. She debunks a pervasive misconception that marketing and sales are the same thing. “Marketing is positioning,” she told interviewers on the Freelance Remuda Podcast last year. “It’s getting in front of the right customers and with content that appeals to them.”

Ensuring that all the brand’s marketing channels work together is a priority. As is making each of today’s necessary marketing channels earn their keep. “A website without good SEO (search engine optimization) is useless,” she explains. “Nobody will find you.” The same goes for social media profiles that are not posting regular content that reaches and appeals to real potential customers.  

Too often, brands expect a specific marketing effort to convert directly into sales. “It just doesn’t work that way,” Kelly notes. When a celebrity athlete like Beezie Madden endorses a product, it creates a positive association in the right customers’ mind. But knowing when that translates to an actual sale is nearly impossible to determine. Putting a promotional code on such an endorsement enables tracking its direct impact on sales, but that benefit is “only a tiny part of what marketing is,” she explains.

“Immediate results are hard to produce. With marketing for brands, it’s all about gaining momentum. Everything from name recognition to increasing web traffic and social media growth takes time and effort to get it to a place where it’s leverageable and useful for positioning for more sales.  With time and continued work, it all starts to fall into place and work together.”

For many clients, Entrigue facilitates all aspects of their marketing efforts: from daily social media content to managing their digital ads on multiple platforms, creating quality print materials, website maintenance and more. Optimizing e-commerce sites for the buyer and shopper’s benefit is another specialty. Google Ads, Amazon store support and blog writing are recent additions to Entrigue’s extensive menu of services.

The Entrigue Consulting live stream team during the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival

“The Olympics and Then What?”

Connecting riders and brands in mutually beneficial partnerships is a core of Entrigue’s business. The idea for this arose when Kelly worked with Angie Stevens, a talent agent for jockeys in the racing industry. “I learned a lot about how endorsement deals are structured and saw that jockeys were treated like professional athletes because they are valuable marketing vehicles. They are what everybody is watching during a race.” Having big TV audiences for racing helps make jockeys “like billboards.”

She saw the need for something similar in the Olympic equestrian sports. “I looked at some top riders who had potential for big audiences, but they had no management, no brand, and no way to actually talk to their fans in one place--so they had nothing to offer sponsors in the way of return on investment.”

Even if a sponsorship deal was struck, the lack of professional help with website, social media and appearance management often led partnering companies to feel short-changed.

“With riders, I’ve found that most are not worth the sponsorships they want,” Kelly observes. “They don’t like hearing that, but the things they want usually take years to get.” Along with being a talented rider, “You have to have the marketing and branding to be able to move yourself forward in the sport.” Rising in the rankings must go along with building an engaged fan base that has value to a sponsor.

“Olympics and then what?” is a question Kelly encourages professional equestrians to ask themselves. “I think some riders think that the Olympics is the end-all be-all and that it comes with a million-dollar check after. It doesn’t.” Whether they get to the Olympics or not, the rider needs to have a business model and a brand they can be proud of and leverage for a future by being of value to others.

2019 Pan Am Games dressage gold medalist Sarah Lockman was one of Entrigue’s first clients. At the time she had very few Instagram followers and a handful of small sponsors,” Kelly recalls. Long term development was the goal from the beginning and it took time to reach the level of backing that has put Sarah on a realistic track to fulfill Olympic dreams.

Talent and success in the saddle are two factors required in riders who can generate the needed ROI for a sponsor. Hard work is equally important.

“They have to be willing to put in the time, to do the photo shoots or hire a ghost writer,” Kelly says. In Sarah’s case, a strong work ethic and an openness to clients of all kinds helped the stars align. When the late Gerry Ibanez called Sarah several years ago, after finding her online, for help with a Friesian he’d bought sight-unseen, Sarah welcomed the inexperienced horse person. It was the beginning of a partnership with Ibanez’ Summit Farms that has since made Sarah’s international dreams a reality.

“It should be important to all riders, but especially top riders, to continue to grow the sport and bring new people into our world,” Kelly asserts. “It’s very possible to introduce new people to horse sports and facilitate a joyful experience that they want to be a part of -- whether it’s supporting a trainer and their business or helping a rider obtain an Olympic mount. Current equestrians are responsible for showing others there is value in our sport in order to bring in new owners, riders and sponsors.”

Similar dedication is needed to attract top horses. Rather than counting on a wealthy individual to buy them horses, Kelly coaches clients to form ownership syndicates and focus on their own networking and relationships. She recommends they be built around the opportunity to sell the horse at a profit if it doesn’t wind up well-suited for international success. Without that opportunity for a return on their investment, counting on owners who may lose interest over time is a poor plan for staying well mounted, especially in sports like dressage with very little prize money.



All Budgets Welcome

Entrigue’s ability to capitalize on evolving marketing trends and realities is available to businesses of all budgets. The brand looking only for logo design is as important as the big company looking for the full suite of services.  “We encourage clients to work with what they have,” Kelly explains. “Everyone starts somewhere.” Budget restrictions can be a blessing. “It can fuel a lot of creativity.”

“I believe a well-run business and marketing strategy will sustain itself in the long run,” she continues. “If you can’t take $10 and make it $100, you can’t take $100,000 and turn it into a million. You have to have the brand in place and the structure there internally. Every business is different and we help clients with all that to create an effective strategy for the long run.”  

“There’s no substitute for strategic, consistent work”, Kelly concludes. “That means reaching out for clients, fans, followers, sponsors, etc. Then having a firm sense of what value you can bring to any partnership and being poised to deliver it when the opportunity arises.”  Entrigue Consulting is all about getting equestrian athletes and businesses ready to make the most of those opportunities.

For more information, visit www.entrigueconsulting.com.

 

 
July 2020 - Genay Vaughn

diversity

Accomplished African American equestrian speaks up.

Young dressage professional Genay Vaughn shares her perspective on Black Lives Matter and how it relates to equestrian sports and individual responsibilities and opportunities. Genay is the assistant trainer at her family’s Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Elk Grove. USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are among her accomplishments.


Q: In the overall Black Lives Matter movement, how important is diversity in equestrian sport? Why does it matter? How do the two connect?

 

I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the international community of dressage. I’ve heard criticism lately about how elitist equestrian sport is, because of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and racial injustices and prejudice in the United States. These conversations are happening all around the world right now, with 20 countries taking to the streets to show their support for black people. Equestrian sports should welcome conversations like these, because we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the sports world as a community that embraces diversity and provides opportunity to experience all that equine culture has to offer. Equestrian sport is about the high-performance connection between humans and animals, and, like our horses, that connection knows no color.

Q: Compared to the general world, how much systemic racism have you experienced in the horse world?

In my experience, and I can only speak for myself, I have not personally experienced overt racism in my sport. However, we must acknowledge that racial bias is an unfortunate part of the history of equestrian sport.

Genay at a protest in Sacramento last weekend.

For example, when horse racing saw its height in America at the end of the 19th century, 13 out of 15 of the top jockeys were African American. The ability to make a significant earning as a jockey led more white athletes to enter the sport. Around this time, at the dawn of the Jim Crow era, institutionalized racism crept into the world of horse racing. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled with the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that segregation was legal. Due to that ruling, white jockeys during the 1900 racing season used intimidation tactics to keep black jockeys from competing. Even though the Supreme Court overturned the 1896 decision in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. did not see another black jockey in the top level of competitors until 2000.   

It is hard to discuss issues of race without discussing the intersection of race and class. As a biracial African American athlete, I was fortunate to be exposed to the sport and to have the opportunity to participate. Equestrian sport is expensive, by its very nature, and so it is inherently exclusive and predominantly accessible to those who can afford to participate. An athlete who doesn’t own a horse needs to have access to one, and to have the opportunity to be near a place where one can train, usually some place that has land.

Although I personally have not experienced overt racism, I have witnessed looks of surprise when others come to find that I am a rider and not a groom at competitions. In other similar sports, athletes at the height of their career have spoken publicly about more overt forms of racism. In tennis, black athletes such as Serena Williams have experienced mistreatment by fellow athletes, fans, and commentators for their race and have spoken about it in interviews. And such stories are commonplace in other exclusive sports. Lewis Hamilton has spoken about his disappointment that the Formula One community did not condemn racial inequality at a time when so many other sports organizations like the NFL and NASCAR have.

The truth is, as a person of color, when you walk into the room, even if you walk in wearing the uniform that communicates that you’re there to compete, people will see you differently. This is even more so if you’re black and you’re really good, because you are defying expectations of what black people can do. We are an affront to some people’s limited world view. Such a sentiment has no place in an international sport, where the goal should always be to respect one another, no matter our color, our culture, or what country we call home.

Q: What can equestrians of all colors do better?

I think it’s great we’re having these kinds of conversations, because it is a necessary first step to taking action. This is what BLM is all about. Dressage is an international community, and we have a particular interest in valuing social equity and fairness. Two words that come to mind are exposure and opportunity.

Exposure means knowing what the sport is. Opportunity means having the chance to pursue the sport, something my family afforded me. In other words, if you never encounter the ocean, or pond, or pool, how would you ever learn how to swim? There are opportunities out there that provide exposure and equitable access to horse riding, but there could be more. Things like scholarships, after school programs, and equine-assisted therapy, are ways in which equestrian organizations have already worked to create a more inclusive community.

One premier example is the equestrian leader Lezlie Hiner, who founded the polo organization Work to Ride in 1994. Work to Ride exposes inner city kids of West Philadelphia to polo. These are kids who have never previously had the opportunity to ride a horse, let alone compete in polo. What’s even more incredible is that they have turned out stars, simply by providing the exposure and opportunity to learn and enjoy the sport.

The BLM movement is a call to action for individuals as well as organizations. It challenges us all to be better. Now is the time for the equestrian community to seize the opportunity to distinguish ourselves, by working harder to provide more exposure for those who would not otherwise be able to enjoy horses. Inclusion is an important value on its face, but if people are unclear why it is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do, one need only look to the work of economist Scott E. Page, or all the moves Fortune 500 companies and educational institutions are making on this front. Our most profitable corporations and brightest universities have recognized the value in enacting institutional change. This is not just because of BLM, as research shows organizations perform better with a more diverse makeup. BLM is a catalyst to necessary progress.

The sky is really the limit for what we can do when we put our minds to it and commit to inclusion as a common value.

 
July 2020 - Taking On Tack Care

news

Toni Anderson and Kira Casartelli team up for Toni’s Tack Tips

by Brooke Goddard • photos: USHJA, Toni Anderson, Kira Casartelli

While most teenagers were watching videos on Netflix during the pandemic, Toni Anderson and Kira Casartelli teamed up to produce horsemanship videos, including a “Horsemanship 101” series for Hansen Dam Riding School. Several years ago, Toni started an Instagram page called “Toni’s Tack Tips” as a passion project where she would share her thoughts on different horse-related products. Her videos have evolved from there. “I’ve always had fun explaining things and showing people various horse products,” Toni shared.

 


Toni, the 2018 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (HQC) Gold Medalist, stars in the video series and shares her wealth of horsemanship knowledge with others. “As I was studying for the HQC, I started to think that there was a serious need for horsemanship resources,” she explained. “The downtime during the pandemic gave me the opportunity to finally start producing videos with the help of my friend and production manager, Kira.”

 

Their videos dive into depth on horsemanship-related numerous topics. “Our videos focus not only on the ‘how’ but also on the ‘why’ behind everything we do,” Toni added. “I want people to understand the importance of why we do certain things. For instance, putting water on your tack can damage it over time. I want to emphasize to people the importance of why we do what we do.”

Toni is heading into her final year of college and she has already garnered years of experience when it comes to horsemanship. As the USHJA HQC Gold Medalist, Toni got a special opportunity to intern at Spy Coast Farm, a top horse breeding and training operation in Lexington, Kentucky. Toni was also the overall winner of the 2019 LAHJA Horsemastership Scholarship, earning funds toward her degree at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. Outside of school, she works as a show groom and braider and often helps her “other mother” Marnye Langer at shows. Toni enjoys showing in the 1.0M jumpers and medals on LEGIS Light My Fire.

Toni’s family friend, Kira, is the vision and the creative mind behind their video series. “There was a lot of trial and error,” Kira explained. “We experimented a lot with camera angles and lighting. We realized that sometimes we needed to position the horse facing the back of the cross ties in order to get better lighting. We also started using a tripod with bendable legs. By wrapping the legs around the end of a broom, we could get stable shots from above the horse.”

Kira, 14-years-old, is heading to The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) in the fall to focus on her artistic passion. “I’ve always been interested in arts and architecture,” she said. “My mom has worked as a professional photographer, so I had some experience just from watching her.”

“Kira is the best,” Toni said. “She has a talent for finding great camera angles. She also rides horses but has less experience than me. Kira’s comments are helpful because she is able to tell me if I am making sense and explaining things well.”

They are hoping to grow their YouTube channel while continuing to help riders gain horsemanship knowledge. “I want to help pass knowledge down to the next generation of equestrians while creating a resource from which riders of all levels can learn,” Toni added.

Visit their YouTube channel, Toni’s Tack Tips, to learn more.

 
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