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November 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by by Kim F Miller
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:32
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No trouble coming up with things to be thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches. For all of us pursuing our passions in the horse business, we are back to having more going on than any one person or media outlet can hope to keep track of.

I am in awe of show organizers, training barns, riding schools, tack and feed stores, manufacturers and suppliers who have found ways to keep things going through these eight months of pandemic and having to do everything very differently than we have in the past.

Our cover story on the partnership between veteran show organizer Marnye Langer, of the Langer Equestrian Group, and newer entry Steve Hankin, leader of the Apex Equisport team, is a positive example of good people, both exhibitors themselves, working together to make high-quality hunter/jumper shows more widely accessible. It’s the rising tide lifts all boats idea. “If you work to make your industry better and stronger, your own business will benefit,” notes Marnye.

Horse show organizers working together is not unprecedented in the West. Major players united to build a better World Cup jumping league, and organizers have offered reduced costs for young horses, Off the Track Thoroughbreds and, in some cases, economically disadvantaged riders, for some time.

As in every aspect of life, it’s easy to criticize and hard to be part of the solution. Evidence of exactly that came with the news that much-admired eventing organizer John Marshall notified the USEA Area VI Council that 2020 will be his final year organizing events at the Fresno County Horse Park. John stepped up in 2012 when the venue then known as Ram Tap announced its closure. He purchased the equipment and took over the land rental agreements and has staged events that kept the Horse Park critical to the region’s eventing calendar.

2016 Olympic eventer Lauren Billys, a Fresno area native, and Area VI chair and amateur eventer Asia Vedder are fielding inquiries from all interested in banding together to preserve the venue and its ability to keep hosting equestrian competition. They can be reached through

There’s oodles of inspiration in the revival of the Earl Warren Fairgrounds in Santa Barbara. I am among those whose family’s Thanksgivings revolved around the “Turkey Show” of yore. Rhea Hayes’ article wonderfully details the saga of saving the venue for equestrian competition and the many people who made that possible.

Everybody’s fortitude in getting through this year is especially encouraging in light of the reality that we probably have several more months to go.

Performance psychologist columnist Darby Bonomi, PhD, addresses a reader’s question about how to maintain a positive outlook even if the New Year does not close the book on 2020’s many challenges. As a bonus, “Dr. Darby’s” daughter, Clara, has a neat article on how she and other young riders handle show related stress.

The Desert International Horse Park, under the leadership of aforementioned Steve Hankin of Apex Equisport, is a hub of activity this fall. Last month, it hosted the California Reining Horse Association’s CRHA Challenge concurrent with the National Sunshine Preview, the first result of their partnership with Langer Equestrian Group. The Preview capitalized on the confluence of disciplines by adding a Reining/HJ Team Challenge to the schedule.

Nov. 12-22, DIHP hosts two weeks of international Desert Dressage CDIs. As our story explains, Jan and Ben Ebeling are likely stars of these exciting additions to the West Coast calendar and Amy Ebeling had quite a lot to do with bringing the players together.

In a sport that is typically very segmented between disciplines, it’s gratifying to see the many way in which our shared love of the horse creates common ground. Which brings me to The Love Of The Horse, a new series of online horse health presentations.

They are the brainchild and passion project of Julie Garella-Williams, president and CEO of MacKinnon Products.  But you won’t see Ice Horse or other MacKinnon brands promoted by the featured vets and experts because the format direct drives info from them to horse owners. The next talk is Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 pm, featuring one of our favorite veterinary sources, Dr. Phoebe Smith, DVM, of Riviera Equine Internal Medicine and Consulting. The topic is Metabolic & Cushing Syndrome: Understanding Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. Dr. Smith is a master at explaining complicated topics in regular horse owner terms so I know this one will be awesome.

Thanks to all of our advertisers, readers and contributors for making another issue possible. Next year will mark our 35th year and we greatly appreciate everybody’s support.

Happy reading, happy riding and Happy Thanksgiving!

Kim F Miller, Editor
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November 2020 - Better Together
Written by by Brooke Goddard
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:20
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Show managers Marnye Langer and Steve Hankin team up to create a series of fun and affordable shows.

by Brooke Goddard

“How can we do shows that are affordable and different from other shows?” This was a question that Steve Hankin, President and CEO of Desert International Horse Park, posed to his business partners.

To answer his question, Steve teamed up with one of his peers with decades of experience in the equine business: Marnye Langer, the Managing Director of LEG Shows & Events. While Marnye and Steve have very different backgrounds, both feel strongly committed to their passion for horses, growing the base of the sport and creating fun, affordable horse show opportunities on the West Coast.


Marnye and Steve are collaborating and co-producing a series of shows in Thermal targeting riders who are competing up to 3’3’’ in the hunters and equitation and up to 1.20m in the jumpers, starting with the National Sunshine Preview that was set to take place Oct. 23-25. Their first show hosted all seven of the 2020 LA Hunter Jumper Association Medal Finals, which were initially scheduled to take place in Los Angeles and had to be moved due to COVID-19 restrictions from local government entities.


“It feels like a lot of the shows are the same thing over and over,” comments Kay Altheuser, LAHJA President. “It’s important to make it exciting and keep people interested in coming back. This year, COVID-19 has put a wrench in everything and I think it’s great that we are able to return to horse showing safely.  I love what Marnye and Steve are doing with their joint show. I like that there is also a reining competition at the same time as the National Sunshine Preview.”

“We came up with the objective of an affordable show at a fantastic facility, with professional staff top to bottom and over great jumps,” Marnye shares. “That idea led to us reconfiguring an existing show right before the National Sunshine Series followed by Coachella Valley Opener in January, and the Coachella Valley Classic in February. It will be a three-show mini-series. We want to invite people who can’t afford to do a couple weeks in the desert or who are not that focused on high-level competition.”

Photo: Cathrin Cammett

Unique Perspectives

In August of last year, Steve and his partners took the reins of the Desert International Horse Park. Since then, his team has transformed the facility while actively working to create a fun and distinctive horse show experience for all exhibitors coming to the desert.  DIHP brings a fresh take to show management and maintains their motto of “Horses First.”

Steve Hankin and Casper.

On the other hand, in 2021 the Langer Equestrian Group, founded by CEO and President Larry Langer, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of producing horse shows. In addition to producing A-rated shows, Marnye has worked passionately over the past several years to develop a series of local, USEF B and C-rated shows at Hansen Dam Horse Park and LA Equestrian Center that cater to the weekend rider.   

Marnye serves as the Managing Director of LEG Shows & Events, which produces hunter/jumper shows in California and Colorado. As the Langer Group’s CFO, she oversees all of the companies within the Langer Group, including, an equine insurance agency; LEG Consulting; and LEG Up News, a public relations company. She and Larry started the Hansen Dam Riding School, which gives over 300 lessons a month. It is based at the Hansen Dam Horse Park, which Larry manages and has brought back to thriving status as a boarding, show, clinic and special event facility.

Marnye and LEGIS Let’s Do Lunch

“I want people to have fun with horses. I don’t care if you are riding English or Western, hunter/jumper or dressage,” Marnye expresses. “I want people to have fun and be safe. While it’s great for an entry level person to go to a big show and watch grand prix riders like Mandy Porter, it’s also good to have some shows focused on them, riders jumping up to 3’3’’ or 1.20m. It’s important for them to not always be stuck out in Hunter Ring 7 but for them to be the focus of attention.”

“It feels like lower level riders are often overlooked because a show is so huge, and people are paying attention to the bigger classes,” Kay notes. “Eventually, it becomes mundane and they don’t want to come if there’s not something special to do.”

Although Marnye now competes in the Amateur-Owner Jumpers, she comes from a grassroots background as the daughter of a local level professional. “People are always talking about grassroots. I like to joke that I was the earthworm looking up at the grassroots. When I was younger, I got to go to a USEF show maybe two or three times a year and it was a big deal.”

Sophia Segesman trained by Georgy Maskrey Segesman at ETCetera at Hansen Dam Horse Park. Photo: Equine Clicks/Liz Corkett

Relating to Exhibitors

“I always knew that I wanted to work in the horse industry and years ago there weren’t many options,” Marnye explains. “You could be a trainer, a vet, or a tack store owner. Seeing my mom’s experience as trainer, I saw firsthand how challenging it was. I thought that I wanted to be a vet and went to UC Davis with the intent of studying science. I realized that wasn’t my passion and after graduating I worked in the fair industry. I stayed involved in the horses and had to work to support my own riding. I was a braider, a show secretary, and started writing for California Horsetrader. I became one of the founding members of the Sacramento Area Hunter Jumper Association (SAJHA) and eventually got involved with the governance of the sport.”

Steve is passionate about providing great experiences for riders of all levels and he hopes to learn from Marnye’s involvement at the local level. “We’re working closely with the team from the Langer Equestrian Group because of their experience in the sport and also their expertise with producing this type of show,” Steve says. “We believe that we need to help build the base of the sport. Marnye and I are both learning that each of us has a strong point of view about creating more fun horse shows and we are excited to work together.”

 “As horse show managers, Marnye and I have many discussions about the sport and where it’s headed,” he adds. “It’s not often that you see horse show managers working together. “

Steve comes from a corporate background, but first and foremost is someone who loves horses and loves riding. Steve’s wife, Lisa, also rides and competes on the hunter/jumper circuit. They are “horse people” who, like the Langers, understand the perspective of the competitor. “DIHP’s primary focus is the major circuits and they are not the entry point for the sport,” Steve explains. “However, DIHP is a place where many new riders come for this first experience. The first show I rode in was here at DIHP, as an exhibitor.”

Marnye also speaks from the exhibitor’s perspective: “I’m sensitive to the fact that shows are expensive because I show. It’s not inconsequential. However, the horse show bill represents about a third of your horse showing cost for the week. When we talk about lowering the cost, we need to talk about the whole picture from barn set-up fees to hotels, shipping, and even meals on the road. That’s the conversation we need to have when discussing showing costs.”

Elvenstar riders with trainers Kay Altheuser, Rachel Mahowald, and Becky Abeita. Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Forward Thinking

Julie Conner-Daniels runs Eclipse Farms in Newhall, Calif. and has entry-level clients in training who are looking to get a taste of horse showing at an affordable price. “I bring my clients to LEG shows because Marnye is always trying to improve, her arenas have good footing, and she makes sure there are quality courses. Marnye is not standing still. She is always trying to go forward and trying to come up with new ideas and new ways to get people excited about the sport.”

“I feel like she is a huge supporter of the whole horse industry,” Julie says.  “Marnye takes it seriously and she does a great job. You have to be striving all the time in this industry. It’s an ever-moving target.”

Georgy Maskrey-Segesman is a professional who operates Whitethorne LLC in Somis, Calif. She trains top level hunter, jumper and equitation riders and sells horses suitable for all levels of the sport. Georgy is passionate about promoting growth within the sport and she feels optimistic about the LEG-DIHP partnership. “It really gives me hope for the sport that people are willing to work together. I feel personally that not enough people embrace that. It’s always competitive and people are stepping on one another. I believe in banding together to lift one another up. We are stronger in numbers than individually. This really makes me excited about what we could do.”

Before heading to Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, Georgy asked Marnye if she could rent out the HDHP Grand Prix Arena to school some of her horses before making the trip. “I think it’s great that Marnye is willing to be creative and I appreciate it.”  

Marnye also looks forward to horse shows returning to Los Angeles. “We have used this downtime to prepare Hansen Dam Horse Park to be able to host major five-day shows along with smaller, local-focused shows. It is a fabulous boutique location for quality shows to fun one-day schooling events and everything in between,” she comments.

Photo: Cathrin Cammett

“Whether it’s show managers or trainers and people across the board, everybody needs to support one another,” Georgy shares. “Of course, we all need to make the bottom line work. Steve is interested in engaging in a conversation about how we can make the sport better and Marnye is making a huge effort to do something different and needed.”

Kay Altheuser echoed Georgy’s sentiments. Kay represents numerous perspectives as she wears many hats: the Director of Equestrian Programs at Elvenstar, the President of the LA Hunter Jumper Association (LAHJA), a USEF “R” licensed official, and a member of the USHJA Zone 10 Committee. “I think it is a great idea that Marnye and Steve have teamed up because both of those minds have some amazing thoughts to put together. Many times, you see managers disagree with each other or see each other as competition. Maybe if they started working together more, we could create better shows and improve the sport. Putting good ideas together is a good thing.”

 “If you work to make your industry better and stronger, your own business will benefit,” Marnye concludes. “Larry has taught me to think big picture, looking at the long-range plan and trying to do things that are generally good for the industry. At the end of the day, when you work together you will be better than you could have been on your own. I like it when one plus one equals three.”

For more information on the shows resulting from this partnership, visit or

November 2020 - Holiday Gift Guide
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:13
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Helping horses, ourselves and charitable efforts is a common theme of this season’s selections.

Facemasks and other social distancing supplies may be the ultimate stocking stuffer this year. There is no shortage of them with horse’s images and customizable options. How about matching masks for the whole barn? Here are a few choices:

Social Distancing T-shirt from San Diego Saddlery.

Chick’s Discount Saddlery is one of many sources for horse-themed face masks.

Horse Head Face Mask - or go big with the full-on horse head mask, available on Amazon


Night Night Norman - Night Night Norman, by Marie Dimitrova, illustrated by Romi Caron. A charming and light-hearted book about what horses do at night when we are asleep.

Horse Crazy - New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Maslin Fir delves into her own deep history with horses. It starts with her childhood obsession and continues into her gift for blending reporting assignments around the world with opportunities to learn about and interact with all kinds of horses and horse people.

Robert-Squared Tack & Apparel - Legendary dressage rider and coach Robert Dover and his husband Robert Ross created this line made exclusively of luxury vegan leather. “Not one animal dies to produce our products,” the Roberts say. Yet, the items are of the finest quality, appearance and functionality demanded of an Olympic equestrian. Visit Easy to clean, easy on the environment and 100% hand-stitched. With the motto of “Ethically elegant equestrian ware,” Robert-Squared donates 10% of sale proceeds to charity.

Help A Mustang - The Mustang Heritage Foundation has a range of gifts -- from a $6 notebook to a $50 Breyer horse model of Hwin. Hwin was started for one of the Foundation’s Mustang Makeovers and has gone on to be a solid eventer. Everything purchased from the Foundation helps get another Mustang gentled, trained and into private hands.

Saddle Boxes - Help a rescue horse while ticking a to-do item off your holiday shopping list. Each box includes gourmet horse treats, tack and a variety of equine products. Get or send one box, or subscribe for monthly deliveries of all sorts of useful, fun things.


November 2020 - Tack Store Check-In
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:03
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More time for training, fun and horse health contribute to bright outlooks.

Most California tack stores were able to stay open thus far amid the pandemic because selling horse feed counts as an essential business. Most also had a tough few months, plus ongoing challenges involving providing online, curbside and/or scaled down in-store service to keep everybody safe and comply with local guidelines.

We checked in with three California outlets to see how things are going and are pleased to report encouraging news.

San Diego Saddlery -- El Cajon


Owner Sara Franqui was in good spirits when we caught up with her in early October. Part of her good mood stems from observing that more kids seem to be getting into horses, partly “because they have nothing else to do during COVID.” Before the pandemic, she was among the many worried about the shortage of kids coming into the sport. “The writing was on the wall,” she notes. “But now there’s been this boom.”

She had not carried much kids’ equestrian clothing in the past but is ordering more now. “It’s exciting and fun and makes me remember when I was a kid and how excited I got about everything. Young people can really bring new life to the industry.”

She’s also seen more english riders buying saddle bags and accessories related to trail riding, poker rides, and other fun ways to enjoy horses outside of the show ring. “In the past that had been mostly our western riders, but now english riders seem to want to do something different.”

More interest in products that relate to the horse’s health is also evident. “People seem a little more interested in reading the labels to see what’s in their supplements or their treats,” Sara says. “And the natural health products are selling well.”

Dover Saddlery -- Moraga

Store manager Christie Casazza started her job one month before the pandemic hit full force. To play is safe, the store closed for a few days, then opened with curbside service. Over the last three or four months, Dover first offered customers in-store visit appointments. It is now open with the new norm of facemasks and social distancing.

“We saw a surge of people coming in for coats, tall boots, etc.” when shows began to reappear on the calendar.  That overtook the interest in more daily essentials like supplements and helmets that surged during the long stretch without competitions. In the latter department, protective head gear incorporating MIPS technology is a clear new attraction for many riders.

MIPS stands for the Multidirectional Impact Protection System that features a low friction liner enabling the head to move 10-15mm in all directions. That’s been shown to reduce the rotation of the brain on impact and reduce injuries, especially concussion and traumatic brain injury. Charles Owen, Trauma Void and One-K are among the brands to offer this technology that is relatively new in equestrian helmets.

Mary’s Tack & Feed -- Del Mar

With an already strong online business component, this longtime Southern California source was well set up to survive COVID. English and western tack buyer Laurie Stein was surprised, however, to say that sales are thriving and have been throughout most of these last several months.

“I don’t know if it was the stimulus or unemployment checks or what,” she says. For sure, horse owners have had extra time on their hands. Judging from the increased sales of bits, lunge lines, draw reins and other training equipment, Laurie surmises that much of that extra time has been spent on training horses. “I think maybe people are experimenting a little more.”

One hitch in meeting increasing demand is widespread supply chain issues that have made it hard to get and maintain inventory. Especially as the holiday shopping season begins, “we are scrambling to get stuff in.”

November 2020 - Alert System
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:56
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The Equine Disease Communication Center celebrates five years of improving horse health.

This year the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) is celebrating five years as an industry initiative, which continues to advocate for the use of technology in reporting equine diseases. Conceived after a major equine herpesvirus outbreak in 2011, involving 240 plus equine premises in 19 states and two Canadian providences, it was apparent a universal communication system for the equine industry was necessary to help prevent disease spread. 


Rapid spread of infectious disease can do irreparable harm to horse health and cripple the horse industry. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for consistent reliable medical information for people, the Equine Disease Communication Center serves as the source for providing the current facts about infectious disease in horses.


During the last five years, the EDCC has sent out more than 1,800 alerts for about 4,460 cases or outbreaks to more 8,400 email subscribers and 13,970 Facebook followers.  The website ( offers horse owners pertinent disease fact sheets and biosecurity information, reviewed by veterinarians on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Infectious Disease Committee.

The benefits of the EDCC communication system are evident from recent outbreaks of equine herpesvirus at racetracks where large numbers of horses comingle and frequently move to and from the tracks, farms and training centers. The prompt EDCC reports have allowed the affected track and local equine community to communicate the steps taken to stop the disease from spreading. Dr. Kathleen Anderson from Equine Veterinary Care at the Fair Hill training Center uses the EDCC to keep informed about current disease outbreaks across the country. “Having timely and reliable information allows unaffected racetracks and other horse facilities to assess risk before moving horses. Knowing that a track or farm has successfully contained the disease by quarantine helps surrounding horse activity to continue uninterrupted.”

Up until five years ago, the equine community had to rely on multiple sources to learn about infectious diseases in their area. That sometimes-caused confusion and misinformation. Because horses are transported more than any other animal, up to date information is necessary to know where there is a disease risk. “I am happy to celebrate five years of growth for the EDCC service and look forward to increasing of our efforts to educate all stakeholders about infectious disease” says Dr. Nathaniel White, director of the EDCC. 

The EDCC is entirely dependent on funding from owners, horse organizations and allied companies. “The need for this type of system has been a long time coming, and we are happy to be a part of the EDCC’s efforts to continue to protect and improve horse health by providing real-time and reliable information”, says, Dr. Katie Flynn, chair of the AAEP, Infectious Disease Committee.
Donations are needed annually to support the EDCC staff and activity. To donate go to the EDCC website support page

November 2020 - Horse People: The Ebelings
Written by by Kim F Miller
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:46
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California’s first family of dressage set to shine at Desert Dressage.

by Kim F Miller

The new, two-week Desert Dressage CDI competition Nov. 12-22 is expected to draw top contenders from far and wide. But it may be the familiar faces of California’s first family of dressage, the Ebelings, who dominate in and out of the arena.

German-born U.S. Olympian Jan Ebeling will have Diamond’s Diva in the Grand Prix, Status Royal in the Developing Grand Prix and a string of up-and-comers in other divisions.


Twenty-one-year-old Ben Ebeling resumes an interrupted show season.


When the Adequan Global Dressage Festival was cut short after 10 of 12 weeks, Ben had led his U25 Nations Cup team to victory and sat atop the national U25 Brentina Cup standings. His top horses at the Desert International Horse Park competition will be Illuster van DE Kampert and Behlinger. He, too, has up and comers in other divisions.

Ben & Illuster. Photo: US Equestrian

The founder and manager of the family’s The Acres in Moorpark, Amy Ebeling won’t be seen in the arena, but her work, influence and ideas will be everywhere. Last fall, Amy decided to do something about the lack of international competition in the West. The FEI landscape was sparse pre-COVID and got worse when publicly-owned venues faced restrictions that made it even harder, sometimes impossible, to stage shows.

By then, the Ebelings were in their third year of owning and wintering at their farm in Wellington, Tierra Contenta. Yet the family is proud to call themselves Californians and sought a way to support international competition and their contemporaries in the West.

Amy eschews accolades, but there’s no downplaying her gift for bringing the right people together to bring ideas to life. Through her travels with Jan and Ben on the international stage, she knew superstar dressage organizer Thomas Baur. Through Ben’s several years as a top Junior Jumper rider (concurrent with high level dressage), Amy knew the venue formerly known as HITS Thermal and was introduced to the leader of the property’s new ownership group, Steve Hankin. Steve leads the Apex Equisport partnership that purchased, in 2019, what is now called the Desert International Horse Park. The partnership of horse owners and exhibitors is staging its sophomore season of hunter/jumper circuits and now venturing into dressage.

“Thomas Baur agreed to take the new show on, and I agreed to help him,” Amy says. That’s what she’s been doing in every nook and cranny of the Ebelings’ already busy days since the idea was hatched. A few months ago, what had been slated as the Pacific Coast CDI in Temecula became a second week of Desert Dressage, providing the draw of encamping for back-to-back show weeks in the same location.

“Amy is really good at getting people together and organizing,” says Jan. “She is a great motivator.”

Amy, Ben and Jan Ebeling. Photo: Platinum Performance

The Family That Plays Together

However busy and stressful it’s been to help bring the key players together and launch the show, Amy is poised to enjoy the fruits of her behind-the-scenes labor -- as she’s been doing with Jan and Ben’s careers all along. Watching the work done at home translate to beautiful, often winning, performances in the show ring is a gratifying aspect of a bigger reward: sharing a life with horses and finding a balance that facilitates growth and the pursuit of goals as a family and as individuals, in and beyond the arena.

Like many college-age kids, Ben is back living with his parents full time during the pandemic. Unlike many college-age kids, he likes it and is thriving. “We are a close family and my parents are my best friends,” he says.

He paused his business degree pursuit at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to pursue dressage while COVID and online-only study options run their course. “It’s been an interesting shift,” he says. “I miss my friends, roommates and I miss the learning, which is my favorite thing outside of horses.”

Friendships outside the horse world have exposed him to other family business models -- from vineyard management to the tech industry to venture capital -- and that has given him a fuller perspective on what his parents have accomplished. “There is a lot of hard work to make your small business take off and seeing that as a business major, it’s given me a new perspective on my family, our business and on life. I’ve come to see my parents as real people and not just my parents. I’m really happy to be part of this business.”

International marketing and digital marketing are areas of special interest. Ben is enjoying gaining practical experience in building up the Ebelings’ social media sites and producing compelling content for sponsors.

In Moorpark or Wellington, there are always plenty of horses to ride. Ben’s equestrian education newly included a chapter on starting young horses, in this case the 4-year-old daughter of Jan’s 2012 Olympic mare, Rafalca. “Ben’s bones bend a little easier,” says Jan of Ben being elected to start the mare whose conformation, beauty and calm, eager-to-please temperament reflects Rafalca’s. Rafalca also has a 2-year-old, sired by Gaspard Du Nuit, by Steffen Peters’ Olympic mount Ravel. She is showing signs of being an even bigger star than her mother, the Ebelings say.

These pandemic months have given all the Ebelings more time to enjoy these two youngsters as they grow up in pastures at The Acres. With horses at the heart of their lifestyle, the Ebelings’ home, barn, irrigated grass turn-outs and the dressage court are all nestled together on the property. Long trail rides in the neighboring Happy Camp Park have always been part of their horses’ development and mental and physical training. They are an appreciated bit of variety since the Ebelings returned to their California base in June.

Ben & Behlinger.

Same Systems, New Mediums

While training the horses continues as normal throughout the COVID period, travel restrictions and concerns have changed the way Jan works as a coach and clinician. Along with the steady stream of young riders that rose up along with Ben’s pursuit of three North American Young Riders Championships, Jan has students at The Acres, in Wellington and many points in between and beyond.

During the pandemic, he is primarily coaching over Pixeo and Skype. “It’s better than I had anticipated,” he says. “Once you figure out how everything works, it can be quite nice and the clients seem to love it. They can video tape the lesson then go back and view it afterward, which is a great learning tool.”

In lieu of being on-site and able to physically demonstrate his instructions, “it really makes you think as a coach and trainer how to explain things,” Jan says. “And about how to explain things to each student.” Some students like things clearly spelled out and some are overwhelmed by too many words, he notes.

Amy & Ben.

Show Ready

Ben, Jan and The Acres-based young professional Claire Darnell all qualified for the USEF Festival of Champions in August. They made the difficult decision to play it safe and not travel to the Chicago area competition, so they are extra excited about getting back into the show ring.

Ben and his relatively new horse Illuster van de Kampert (owned by Amy Ebeling and Sasha Cutter), a half-brother to Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper, made headlines in Florida this spring. Both Illuster and Behlinger have back stories that illustrate the extent to which Ben is carrying on the family legacy as a horseman.

Amy describes Behlinger, aka “Bugatti,” as “our miracle horse.” He was purchased as a 4-year-old by the familiar ownership group comprised of Amy, Beth Meyer and Ann Romney, aka “the Three Amigos.” Bugatti was a “very sensitive” horse from the beginning, a quality that often correlates to brilliant dressage work at the highest level. “But when we got him home, we found out he was much more sensitive than we had thought -- to the point that he was dangerous,” Amy shares. The Ebelings wound up sending him to natural horseman Monty Roberts for two years.

Through Bugatti’s progress, the Ebelings learned and embraced many of Roberts’ methods and partnered with Roberts on a few projects. When Bugatti returned to The Acres, Jan was coaching and competing in Europe, and Amy was confident enough to let Ben begin to work with the horse. “I didn’t ask Jan because I knew he would have said no!”

Ben Ebeling.

Amy credits Ben’s years riding jumpers up to the 1.50m ranks with helping develop split second reactions and sensitivity in the saddle. Only a year later, in 2018, Ben and Bugatti spent a summer in Europe on the European Young Riders Tour, culminating with a strong outing at the Future Champions FEI CDIO-Y in Hagen, Germany. And they were great USDF Region 7 partners in NAYC for 2017 and 2018.

Illuster is another very sensitive horse. He and Ben’s partnership had a rocky start. In one of their first Young Rider Grand Prix outings together in the summer of 2019, Illuster’s energy was so excessive that Ben chose to retire from the test.

By Week 8 of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Illluster was settling into the new groove of being both “calm and on,” Ben explains. That resulted in U25 Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle victories with consistent scores in the mid 70s. “I was beside myself!” Ben shares. Although the Festival ended two weeks early, Ben was thrilled to close it on their Week 10 victory with the Stars & Stripes squad in the CDIO U25 Nations Cup in March.

“He needed to trust Ben, which he’s learned to do,” Amy says, an understatement for the pair that now tops the national U25 Brentina Cup standings.

Jan Ebeling.

Father & Son Showdown?

Beyond ensuring that Ben knew enough to be safe on and around horses, Jan and Amy deliberately avoided putting any pressure on him to ride. Ben and Jan have often said they think jumpers may be Ben’s true passion and eventual path, but dressage is the focus for now.     Jan acknowledges the dual roles of father and coach are interesting. As with all his students, Jan strives to “have my riders figure things out on their own, while I’m there to give them sort of a floor plan.”

“Growing up with me, Ben has learned my system of riding (the ‘only system!’ he jokes) right from the beginning. Yet, if you think of riding being a sort of language for communicating with the horse, then we all have our own accent or dialect.”

Father and son’s similar yet distinct languages have them on a track that may result in head-to-head competition in the Open Grand Prix ring soon.

Regardless the results of such a showdown, it would be a win for this family so devoted to their horses, each other and their sport.


The Ebelings are Sponsored by:


  • Carolina Arena
  • Cavalor
  • County Saddlery
  • Dressage Extension
  • Effol
  • EquiTrek
  • Fleck Germany
  • Frantisi
  • GEM
  • GPA
  • Haygain
  • Hermes
  • Herm. Sprenger
  • Ice Horse
  • Parker Equine Insurance
  • Platinum Performance
  • Robert Squared
  • Roeckl Sports
  • Wellington Agricultural Services
November 2020 - Santa Barbara Treasure
Written by by Rhea Hayes
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:38
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September show is milestone in remarkable equestrian community effort to revive the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

by Rhea Hayes

When Earl Warren Showgrounds debuted in 1958 with the annual Horse and Flower Show, the state-of-the-art amenities and the ambiance of Santa Barbara proved to be an intoxicating combination. The first-class venue quickly earned nationwide attention amongst the equestrian community, and it was highly regarded for decades. The Dome arena was the place to be, where patrons showed off in evening dress and paid entry fees to be wined and dined on a Saturday evening of thrilling competition and performances. At that time, the “big three” were Madison Square Garden, Devon and Earl Warren!

In the past, generations of families held Thanksgiving dinners down the barn aisles …rain or shine, in order to support their riders in the National Amateur Horse Show (the “Turkey Show”). A plethora of other events filled Earl Warren with activity; from the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo, to Christmas tree lots and flea markets, gem shows, car shows, antiques shows and more. In the 1960s, Earl Warren was also the site of nearly 300 live concerts featuring rock and roll royalty including The Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and Jim Hendrix Experience.

Mike Nielsen, CPHA’s 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in his early days.

But If you’ve visited or shown at Earl Warren in recent years, you’d be hard pressed to imagine its former glory. The property seemed stopped in time. In a state of decay, the footing was alarming and bordering on dangerous… a problem that has sparked outrage with trainers and exhibitors since the late 1980s. From  the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Rodeo, California Dressage Society, The Santa Barbara National, and the Arabian Horse Association to the critical services provided by Santa Barbara Equine Evac, Earl Warren has had a deep and loyal following.

But despite multiple fundraising attempts, efforts again and again resulted in dashed hopes.

Now in its 65th year, the showgrounds and facility has had its share of drama, political malfeasance, and alarmingly disparate visions for the property’s future. The 19th District Agricultural Association receives no state funding, and with competing visions for the way the facility should be operated, there was a perceived notion that horse shows were of less importance and upkeep of the arenas and barns was not a priority. Opportunities to compete in modern elegant settings had nicked away the desire to travel to Santa Barbara. Ambiance could not always deflect attention from the conditions.

Advocates for the horse community went unheard and the various disciplines fought amongst themselves. Rumors abounded that the facility would succumb to urban development. Getting  a cohesive message to an overstressed board and management team was not easy. Already consumed by chasing revenue to keep the lights on, there was no equestrian specialist on Earl Warren’s staff. Change would require a new approach, a way to control how improvements were handled and donations managed.

Tackling The Challenge

In August of 2019, the  local groundswell of equestrians became fearful of the certain demise and possible closure of the fairgrounds.  Numerous emotional voices created a cacophony at long drawn out board meetings and concerned equestrians of all disciplines bombarded the board of directors with ideas and pressure. An unofficial leadership team started to form. It wouldn’t be long before the Hunter/Jumper/Western/Dressage/Breeds/Rodeo factions would organize, compromise, and come together like never before. An approved plan and Memo Of Understanding in December 2019 was a huge hurdle, and Earl Warren’s rebirth was on the brink of becoming reality.

Karen Christensen is Treasurer and past president of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the California Dressage Society. Putting together a show last summer, she was dismayed to find dangerous footing, scattered trash, dirty bathrooms, a broken drag and no water truck. Her project management experience stood out over others and she would become the key leader of the technical team to rebuild the equestrian facilities. A geophysicist  by day, Karen envisioned a business plan that would be fully researched, prefunded, and would be independently executed by a trusted non-profit… a plan that could be presented to and approved by the Earl Warren Board of Directors. She pulled together the technical team key to the representation and support of the various disciplines critical  to the future success.

Courtney Cochran, had grown up at Earl Warren, a rising star who has served for years as President of The Santa Barbara County Riding Club for years and is now Trainer/Owner of Ridgewood Farm.  Courtney’s unrelenting desire to save Earl Warren matched Karen’s vision of a privately funded plan.  It became clear that this was the key to retain control of the outcome, and had been the missing element of past fundraising efforts.

With so many areas to address, millions of dollars would be needed, but many amazing members of the community donated nearly $600,000 before Covid hit. Karen rallied donations and discounted services from local businesses, a load of DG here, a used tractor there. Lisa Novatt led the western crowd and earned support from the Fiesta Rodeo. Michele Bandinu, a dressage competitor and owner of Custom Hardscapes is a passionate and generous team member who donated thousands of dollars in heavy equipment and labor.

Kathy O’Connor is the founder and President of Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team, and her team was the key to the project’s success. SBEquineEvac is a respected 501 (c)3 organization that benefits the entire community, not just the various recreational equestrians. It’s a volunteer organization that orchestrates the year-round emergency services provided to large animals evacuated to Earl Warren when displaced by fires, floods and earthquakes. Earl Warren’s  600 permanent stalls have provided ample room for emergency shelter of animals of all kinds including alpacas, goats, and chickens. By day Kathy is Physical Education Department Chair at Santa Barbara City College, but when she spent “53 days in a trailer” at the showgrounds during the 2018 Thomas fires and subsequent debris flow that devastated Santa Barbara, she gained a more thorough knowledge of the shortcomings of the facility, the barns.

The technical team lead by Karen donated countless hours of research, phone calls and coordinated vendors and donors. Horse Show Manager Lance Bennett, having revived the Santa Barbara National Multi-Breed Show in 2019, as well as expertly managing SBCRC shows, was the voice for the hunter jumper shows as was Penny Wardlaw for the Arab shows. Lance is excited about the revival of the Hunter/Jumper week in July 14-18, 2021.

Encouraging Developments

Unlike other state and county fairgrounds, Earl Warren Showgrounds was specifically built as an equestrian venue. Through the efforts of the Parks family, a local Santa Barbara ranching family, Earl Warren was supposed to have been protected from change of use. But it’s clear that Earl Warren is more than just a horse facility enjoyed by generations of riders, it has become an invaluable community asset that could not be allowed to perish. Its spacious parking lots serve as emergency disaster relief assemblage areas for Fire and Police, and most recently Earl Warren was the go-to place for large capacity COVID testing.  

Most of Phase One was completed just in time for the lifting of Covid rules to reopen the facility. The success of the SBCRC Back to School show and the Camelot Classic in September, 2020  showcased the base and footing in the main arenas and innovative new fencing that allows two rings to be merged into a larger arena suitable for Derbies. Also new are the judges and announcer stands, water truck and drag, and a sound system donated by the Earl Warren Showgrounds Foundation. The excitement of the exhibitors return to the showring was palpable. Amid record attendance and positive reviews, patrons were understanding of the efforts  made and any concerns were quickly addressed.  

Now the challenge is directed towards completing Phase One; building a new arena with fencing, updating three barns, funding future maintenance and initiating Phase Two: renovating the rest of the barns, landscaping and other outstanding needs. The ask for critical additional funds is priority. It’s still a long road, and this is where support is needed from the horse community, to ensure that  Earl Warren will be taken to the next level.

Nobody could have predicted that both Earl Warren and The Santa Barbara County Riding Club’s Fall Hunter/Jumper season opener would coincide just in time to provide hope for both their futures…despite an international pandemic, changes and support would arrive just in time to salvage the waning interest in showing at the historic Earl Warren even though more  attractive alternatives  called from all  over Southern California. And for the first  time, donors can be confident that their donations are being properly utilized.

Continuing renovations will further the mission to allow Earl Warren Showgrounds to become a self-sustaining premier show ground able to hold all types of equestrian competitions and events. Please support this effort with your tax-deductible donation.

Author Rhea Hayes is a volunteer with the Santa Barbara County Riding Club. To contribute to this important effort, visit and click on “Showgrounds Equestrian Restoration Project.”

November 2020 - Pressure Relievers
Written by by Clara Bonomi
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:22
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Focus, friends and quiet time for pre-ride ringside observations are among effective methods for managing show-related stress.

by Clara Bonomi

As a rider and frequent competitor, I know for a fact that stress plays a significant role in my mindset. Juniors seem to experience a unique form of tension that surrounds perfectionism, a lack of confidence, and most prominently, a pressure surrounding winning.

I asked four juniors from various locations and barns across the West Coast how competitive stress affects them, more specifically how they prepare themselves for a competition.


“I mainly feel stress when I’m warming up, which then can transfer over to the show ring,” says Leyton Hillard, a rider at Silver Bay Stables in Sonoma County. “For example, if I don’t necessarily have the strongest warm-up or it’s really chaotic then I start to get thrown off of my game.”


However, many riders, including myself, experience stress while focusing during their actual round, rather than beforehand. I spoke to Skyler Allen, one of my barn-mates from Sonoma Valley Stables, about her experience with this type of tension.

“I find myself only focusing on what I’m stressed about and then everything else just disappears,” Allen tells me. “[My horse] is really sensitive, so then he’ll get stressed out as well and it all just starts turning into the snowball effect.”

I found that other juniors also had a similar feeling of anxiety in the ring when one thing appears to be going wrong for them. Another one of my barn mates, Danielle Park, expresses that this is something she frequently experiences while competing.

“I get really stressed about being perfect,” she says. “Normally for me, once I make one mistake on course, I feel like it all starts to fall apart. I think one of the biggest things for me is that, the second I start thinking about points, everything starts to go downhill in my mind.”

However, some riders find a more general struggle with self-esteem, which then leads to stress. I spoke about this with Ella Cate Duke of Oz Inc. located in Canby, OR.

“For me, it’s more a lack of confidence,” Duke remarked. “I’ve been working really hard on focusing solely on my ride and the course and how my horse is feeling, but when those things don’t come together, I start to lose faith in my ability to ride.”

Personally, I find myself the most stressed when I feel pressure to ride well for my fellow competitors, trainers, parents, or friends, whether that pressure be intended or not. A lot of my stress comes from a place of feeling the need to satisfy others rather than myself, something that I should prioritize instead.

The fear of being criticized from those who are not the judge often makes me uncomfortable and results in a more distracted and chaotic round. Even though everyone has had different experiences with stress and anxiety, I can relate with all of these riders. Feeling the need to nail everything, and giving up when that doesn’t happen, which is rarely the case, is often a common issue among junior riders, including myself.

Management Strategies

However, through years of riding and showing, these same athletes have found ways to deal with their stress and transform it into something more useful.
“Before I get on, I try to really take time for myself to just relax and listen to music or polish my boots,” Hillard says. “I think the most important thing is making sure that my trainer and I have a solid plan not only before I go in the ring, but also before I even get on my horse.”

Thoroughly planning and preparing is a common and, in my opinion, very helpful de-stressing strategy for many riders, regardless of whether they are showing or even riding at home. According to Allen, choosing specific goals for each ride can also be beneficial.

“I always try to pick just three things to focus on for my round,” she tells me. “Having everything structured out and making sure that I always have a backup plan also makes it much less stressful for me.”

Methods used in warm-up rings and pre-ride reminders also help a lot of riders.

“Counting every stride and tuning into the rhythm of my horse, even when it isn’t necessary, definitely helps me calm down sometimes,” Park explains. “I also always try to remember that I’m not at a show to win, I’m there to have fun and to gain experience.”

However, some athletes find that preparing themselves for competition away from the barn environment is more helpful than not. Duke tells me that spending time both alone and surrounded by others helps her reduce stress.

“Being able to sit next to the ring by myself and hear riders and trainers talk about the course is really useful. Hearing more than one perspective can help me learn from other’s mistakes and feel more prepared,” Duke says. “I also sometimes spend time with friends before I show because I feel like they ground me and remind me that this opportunity should be considered more of a fun experience rather than a mission to win.”

It is clear that juniors from different barns and areas all have unique ways of coping with stress, but most of them can relate that it plays a definite role in their competitive mindset. All competitive juniors experience stress, and most of it is self-inflicted. Whether it’s overly focusing on winning, perfectionism, or desire to please others, such stress takes away from rider’s ability to perform their best and enjoy their time in the saddle. Fortunately, the riders I spoke with are aware of their stress and actively pursue ways to relax and remember to ride.

Author Clara Bonomi is a talented junior hunter/jumper competitor who trains with Sonoma Valley Stables. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

November 2020 - Way To Go!!
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:10
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Zone 10 brings team bronze and individual gold home from the Prix des States back East.

With wide eyed thirst for a chance at a win, the four riders from USHJA Zone 10 traveled all the way across the United States to compete, leaving from California and arriving in North Carolina. The goal, to ride well and leave the jumps up for a chance at a Team or Individual Medal standing when all is said and done.

The team, Delaney Batter/Evolinus, Trent McGee/Boucheron, Elisa Broz/Volstrups Cody and Violet Lindemann Barnett/Picobello Choppin PC headed east to a competition none of the riders had been to before.


The Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championships and Prix des States provides an opportunity for United States Junior riders to compete against their peers over multiple days of competition each fall.  The coveted Championship features both the Prix des States Team Competition, with Teams fielded by Zone, and an Individual Competition.  Fence heights are a maximum of 1.45m.

The 2020 Championships were held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, North Carolina, Oct. 8 - 10, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Riders 17 years of age and under went head to head over three days as the competition narrowed each class leading to the Team and Individual winners. The coveted results of Prix de States Team and the Individual competition were on the line. Zone 10 ended up in the Medals for both!! Zone 10 Team was bronze and Zone 10 Individual was gold!

Team is Full & Fierce

For the second time in many years, Zone 10 fielded a full team for the Championships and that pressure certainly played a part as the days went by. The team riders were all inexperienced at this level and this was their first shot at this level of medal competition.

The best part, according to Cassie Belmont, the Zone 10 trainer for Elisa Broz, “We loved getting to work as part of a team and having an opportunity to understand how important each team member is. Being there and watching other Junior riders from across the country was eye opening and helped our rider to step up their game. It was an incredible experience, and we are so grateful to Zone 10.”

Cassio Rivetti handled the trainer role for the other three riders, two of his own students and one for trainer Archie Cox who was in California showing with his other riders. “These riders were well prepared to get here and ride ready to win,” said Cassio. “It is always a pleasure to work with juniors who know their horses and go in to do their best.”

Michael Endicott was the Zone 10 Chef de Equipe and worked tirelessly with the riders and the team. His main job, which always carries a bit of pressure to make the right call, was strategy in selecting which Zone 10 rider for the jump-off when it came down to two teams being tied for Bronze. “Trent’s horse, Boucheron, is a scrappy little chestnut mare, and when I watched her in the last of the team rounds she still had plenty of ‘go’ about her so I threw the task to Trent. The horse is careful and can be fast and turn quick, that is what we needed at that point. I just told Trent to ‘go get it’ and he did. Never stepped off the pedal, made incredible turns and was careful to the last jump to have the quickest jump-off time and a clear ride…we were bronze!”

Michael continues regarding the Individual Medal competition, “As we came into the Individual day, Violet was sitting second so the Gold was truly within her reach. She had an immense determination but a calmness about her for the final round. The horse, ‘Chop’ as he is known, is smart and quick and I knew they would give the rider coming back in first place a challenge. She needed to be clear, and she was.”

“For Zone 10 to field a complete team for the first time in years is pretty exciting, and they were all incredibly focused all week,” said Michael. “We are building a fantastic group of riders in this Zone, our Juniors and Young Riders can hold their own pretty much anywhere. I am excited to be the Zone Chef de Equipe and have a ground floor perspective as we look ahead.”

Cassio Rivetti, the consummate professional, actually got a bit excited as the days came to an end. “Was a good pleasure to help the California team and be a part of the improvement of the kids. I’m very happy with my two students, Delaney and Violet, for the Bronze Team win and Violet for the Individual Gold. Also, I really enjoyed assisting Trent to be the determining ride in the jump-off for the Team.  It was a fantastic week that we will never forget!”  

Zone Co-Chairs Kathy Hobstetter and Ned Glynn make time to meet with riders, trainers and the parents all year as the qualifying points begin to accumulate. Fresh off the Tryon win, Kathy Hobstetter explained a bit of the process. “Always being aware of how the Zone Juniors are doing throughout the year is part of what we on the Committee do. I watch the standings and watch the riders as the year goes on, want to be sure to get to actually see them compete and in the ring. I meet with them whenever they request time and want to ask questions. Meeting with Cassie Belmont and the Broz family this year at Sacramento was a delight. They are committed to the sport and interested in supporting Elisa in her quest for the top. Sending a note of appreciation for the Zone was well appreciated. ‘Thank you for preparing us for this incredible experience and advising us of options. We are inspired and grateful, what a great opportunity for Zone young riders.’”

“The Zone recognizes the importance of supporting the riders and these amazing programs throughout the year.” Kathy continued, “This year was extremely difficult for everyone, but it is important to sustain these programs to our best ability in the sport. We were honored to send these riders off on a quest for Medals, and it worked.”

Article provided by Zone 10. For more information, visit If you’d like to get involved with the Zone 10 team, contact Kathy Hobstetter at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

November 2020 - Going Global
Written by CRM
Thursday, 29 October 2020 23:51
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EQUUS Film & Arts Fest 2020 Virtual Event set for November 13-22.

Well, it has been a totally surreal year since we last visited with you, so let’s put our best “Hoof” forward and gallop into the new “Virtual” world of the 2020 EQUUS Film & Arts Virtual Event.

Early in May and June when we began to see the major film festivals start to go virtual, the EQUUS team began to discuss what this year’s fest might look like if we made the move to a totally on-line film & arts fest. While it might have seemed a bit confusing at first as we started to discuss the possibilities of this, we suddenly realized the exciting new opportunities that were available with our team at Film Festival Flix, the home of the EQUUS Film Channel.


Even though there was never a time we ever considered cancelling the EQUUS Film & Arts Fest because of COVID-19, we were concerned about being able to bring the best experience to a now global audience. We are now extremely excited about our plans moving forward with the November festival as being a Virtual Edition, please join us November 13-22 for this exciting event.


The wonderful part of this year›s festival is the filmmakers who have submitted their films from around the world will be able to invite their friends, supporters and crew members to our Virtual festival during our 10 days, along with an added ability to view, support and enjoy these wonderful films from anywhere in the world.

Advertisers will have the opportunity to reach and engage a global audience. Adding videos for their products to the programing.

To date we have received an excellent selection of over 38 equestrian films with an additional 10 encore screenings of past WINNIE winners from more than 16 countries. The filmmakers, authors, podcasters and artists that have been selected into our fest will be able to unite their fans around the world and enjoy our festival within the safety of their homes, on their own comfy couches with as much butter on their popcorn as they want.

We have had over 60 literary works submitted with 13 artists featured and six podcasters, entered into our new podcast category.

We will have a dedicated interview team headed up again this year by Diana De Rosa along with Julianne Neal, Candace Wade, Milt Toby and Lisa Mae DeMasi who will be reaching out to the filmmakers, authors, podcasters, and artist from around the world to capture their experiences of their film, art, podcast and writing process. We will give every creator the opportunity to digitally talk about their work with our on-line Zoom interviews.

So, in celebration of EQUUS Film & Arts Fest, we eagerly approach our Eighth season with the message “Pony On”.  

Lisa Diersen and Diana De Rosa continue their passionate mission of being the best Equestrian Film & Arts Fest in the world.  We must “Pony On” because storytelling and filmmaking, art and literary creation never stops and we support those hard-working storytellers, no matter their medium towards future success.

Tickets available at Press release provided by the Equus Film Festival.

November 2020 - The Gallop: Straight Talk
Written by by Kim F Miller
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:28
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Free horse health webinars help cut through the clutter and information overload.

by Kim F Miller

MacKinnon Products president and equestrian Julie Garella-Williams began sponsoring several Continuing Education programs for veterinarians a few years ago. It involved a shift of marketing budget that was partly motivated by being “over fake news in the horse care jungle complex,” she reflects. It also fit with her personal passion for information regarding all facets of horse health. MacKinnon sponsored the CE programs for American Association of Equine Practitioners nationally and regionally, and its president and CEO sat in on the presentations.


When COVID-19 shut down the show circuit and other aspects of the equestrian world earlier this year, Julie’s CE experiences seeded an idea for making constructive use of horse owners’ extra time.


“I’m not the kind of person that can sit still,” she explains. “Everybody was so down in the mouth. There were no shows and nobody knew what was going to happen. So I said, ‘What can we do? Let’s do something educational.’”

Julie’s professional and personal interest in equine health has led to many positive relationships with veterinarians. The first she pitched the idea to was James Orsini, MS, DVM, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center.  They had worked together on an ice boot for laminitis cases and discussed a webinar on that debilitating hoof disease.

Thus was born the For The Love Of The Horse series of live, free, interactive, educational webinars presented by leading veterinarians, researchers and scholars. The first presentation “Laminitis: Understanding the Disease and Best Practices in Prevention,” was offered live in the spring and is now one of 10 and counting recorded presentations available for on-demand, free viewing. Participants in the live webinars can interact with the presenter through a chat function.

For The Love Of The Horse has a growing list of business partners, but the content is expressly “not sponsored” by any company. The goal is completely objective information, Julie explains. “We are trying to take complex subject matter and, working with true experts, distill it for horse owners. I’m very passionate about this and I feel that if owners really understand how things work, then they can make the right, informed decisions about their horse’s health.”

Well-known California veterinarian Phoebe Smith, DVM, of Riviera Equine Internal Medicine and Consulting, is the featured speaker on the next live webinar on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4pm PST.

The topic is the complex subject of Metabolic & Cushing Syndrome: Understanding Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention.

California photographer and media consultant Alden Corrigan was among the first to help promote the talks, through the Competitive Equestrian. Pro Equine Grooms, Phelps Media, the American Quarter Horse Association and other outlets also jumped on board, spreading the word via email and social media. As of early October, over 6,000 horse owners in 38 states and 40 countries had viewed the presentations, either live or on demand, Julie reports. Forty-eight percent had watched more than one episode.

Judging from the nature of questions posed throughout the series, Julie surmises that participants run the gamut from high-level competitors to the roughly 70% of horse owners who don’t compete at high levels. The common denominator is they all want the straight scoop on their horses’ health.

Hot Topics

An Oct. 4 talk on cardio and respiratory health featured Cristobal Navas de Solis, LV, MS PhD, from the New Bolton Center. The veterinarian shared his expertise and his own and current research on various aspects of cardio and respiratory health in performance horses. He discussed the concept of “VO2 max,” which is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption used in incremental levels of exercise. He explained that it is mostly used with elite level human endurance athletes and is beginning to have potential for applications with horses.

The talk moved into the physiology of how air moves from the horse’s nostril, down the upper airway’s trachea, and into the lungs, where oxygen is transferred into the blood stream. Obstacles on the long journey include conformational obstructions in the narrow airway passage into the trachea, lung disease and inflammation triggered when environmental irritants get past the body’s natural defense mechanisms. The latter sets the stage for conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum. Dr. Navas de Solis noted that the way horses are managed -- usually in barns much of the day -- makes them predisposed to respiratory disease. He emphasized the importance of “improving the environment as much as you can.”

Exercise associated deaths are an area of special interest to Dr. Navas del Solis. He explained that New Bolton is using fitness trackers with an EKG affixed to the girth to monitor heart rate and rhythm, stride length, speed, etc. The data is hoped to help reduce or prevent such tragic outcomes.

Questions during the cardio and respiratory health webinar ran the gamut. For example, an upper level eventer asked about training routines to strengthen the respiratory system and another participant asked whether there is a correlation between obesity and asthma in horses. That answer is yes, Dr. Navas del Solis said, though not to the extent that it exists in people.

Eventing competitor and USEA Area VI chair Asia Vedder tuned into her first For The Love Of The Horse episode for Dr. Navas del Solis’ talk. She described the series as valuable to all horse owners and as coming at the right time. “There is so much information out there, especially now as more people are doing things on social media, where you can post anything: opinions, false articles, etc. Having these topics addressed by experts is really good.”

Asia hopes that the pros and cons of various therapeutic products will be a future topic, along with supplements, muscle recovery, shoeing and recognizing a properly balanced foot, etc.

This month’s presenter, Phoebe Smith, is excited to share information on metabolic conditions and their treatment and management. Long passionate about education for all who care for horses --veterinarians and owners -- Dr. Smith notes that horse owners are like everybody else in that they often don’t know much about a health subject until they’ve had to deal with it. She describes the talks as a nice counterpoint to the considerable amount of misinformation that exists and agrees the COVID era is a good time to offer it. Among her own clients, she’s noticed that the down time with no shows has led many to ask her great questions: like, “I’m going through my horse’s medicine cabinet and I need to know how this drug works. Or, I’ve wanted to know why my horse makes this noise forever, and now I have time to address it.”

The next For The Love Of The Horse presentation is Sunday, Nov. 8, at 4 pm, with Phoebe Smith, DVM, on Equine Metabolic & Cushing Syndrome. For more information, visit

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 .

Presentations in the free, on-demand library at include:
•    Back Issues in Performance Horses, with Kent Allen, DVM
•    The Impact of DNA on the Performance Horse, with Samantha Brooks, Ph.D.
•    Tendon Issues: Reducing The Strain, with Sherry Johnson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVSMR
•    Hay: What’s In It & What Else Does Your Horse Need? with Clair Thunes, Ph.D.
•    The Value of the Ridden Lameness Exam, with Rick Mitchell, DVM, MRCV, Dipl. ACVSRM
•    Unraveling the Mystery of the Stifle: Anatomy & Rehabilitation Approaches, with Melissa King, DVM, PhD., Dipl. ACVSRM
•    Hoof Lameness: Understanding Causes & Cures, with Raul Bras DVM, CJF, AAPF
•    Breeding For Success: It’s More Than Luck, with Pat Garrett, DVM.
•    Laminitis: Understanding the Disease & Best Practices in Prevention, with James Orsini, MS, DVM.

November 2020 - From The Judge’s Booth
Written by by Melonie Kessler
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:18
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Veteran official and trainer enjoys an impressive display of dressage’s benefits as a fitting finalé for a difficult show season.

by Melonie Kessler

The California Dressage Society Championships are a wrap!  What a great show finalé to this crazy year. Glenda McElroy, Meaghan Mallory and the many volunteers and CDS board members put on a fantastic USDF Region 7 and CDS Horse of the Year championship Sept. 24-27 at the Del Mar Horsepark.  

For those riders who were able to qualify with the limited shows California was able to offer (due to COVID restrictions and the horrible wild fires plaguing the state from North to South), this year’s Regionals did not disappoint.


I was very honored to officiate along with six other judges, FEI-ranked as well as S (senior) national licensed judges. I watched four days of horse and rider combinations put their best foot and hoof forward for the chance of earning the Regional or CDS championship title. From Training level to Grand Prix, the amateur, junior, and open riders did a fantastic job showing how their time and dedication paid off producing harmonious performances with happy horses.  
I would like to share a little of my experience from the four days I officiated.


Judging is a mentally strenuous event. As a judge, we are required to be on site 30 minutes before the first ride to orientate ourselves with the arena and our scribes. I can not say enough about the importance of a good scribe. Their job is to write each comment and score given by the judge for each movement. This is a very important job. I was fortunate to have had great scribes, including California Riding Magazine’s very own Kim Miller!  She and the other scribes were wonderful, never missing a word.  

Judging can be very intense as many classes can have riders’ scores separated by hundredths of a point. A good scribe makes the judge’s job so much easier. Thank you to all the scribes that volunteered. For those not familiar with dressage scoring, here is a brief explanation: The tests are designed with compulsory movements we call “exercises” and are scored with whole or half points. In a championship class there are two judges at each arena. I was positioned at either C (the front) or E (the side) each day.

Speaking From Experience

On a personal note, I have been judging for over 25 years. I also run a dressage training business for over 40 years and have competed for nearly 50! I have judged all over the country including Hawaii and Canada at local, state, and regional competitions and championships. I am still as enthused judging today as I was when I first began.

I know the amount of time it takes to train a dressage horse, and the commitment necessary to compete and work towards qualifying for a championship competition.

I can see the nerves in both horse and rider and I can see the harmony when the pairs execute the test in balance and grace.  

I love judging because it allows me to give a voice to the horse as I evaluate the training that has gone into the performance. Not only do I enjoy rewarding great performances, but by sitting so close, I can see the look in the eyes of the horses which often reveals the willing cooperation of a truly beautiful partnership. Reading horses’ body language is a part of the scoring system. Tension and resistance are scored negatively, whereas relaxation and confidence are rewarded.  

I notice some small mistakes at times in certain classes such as widening of the hands or accidentally not following the movement of the horse. The instructor in me wants to remind the riders to not lose points by losing their position. Luckily, there is a space at the bottom of each test for judges to comment on the overall performance of the pair and give advice per the training pyramid that could help future performances.

I find the walk work not always ridden to the horse’s potential, which is unfortunate as many placings are separated by a very small margin and this is an area in which riders should be careful not to lose points.

A rider’s ability to display the horse’s range of motion in the horse’s topline on a stretch circle is also a very important skill that needs to be confidently shown. These basics are demonstrated in the lower test of Training level and First Level and they are the building blocks to the more difficult exercises of the higher levels.

The FEI division was equally as impressive as the lower level test. High quality horse and rider pairs showed the power and elasticity of their horse’s gaits and then, with very subtle aids, were able to collect the steps into piaffe and passage and pirouettes.  

Nerves can easily overtake horses at this level as a positive tension in the horse is necessary to elevate and lengthen the steps and strides. The skill of the rider prevents positive tension from becoming negative tension. Years of practice and developing the relationship with each other is essential in performing at the top Grand Prix level. There were many combinations that displayed this partnership and their scores reflected that harmony.

I was impressed with the high level of preparation and finesse by this year’s competitors. And I want to thank each competitor for making this Region 7 Championship a great experience and a joy to judge.

Author Melonie Kessler is a USEF “S” dressage judge and trainer. She was based in Southern California for many years and is now located at the beautiful DevonWood Equestrian Center in Sherwood, Oregon. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

November 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:11
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ask dr darby

Even optimists need strategies in prolonged tough times.

Dear Dr. Darby,
I’m an optimist by nature. These past few months, I have held onto the belief that the current pandemic, fires, and political divisiveness will ease up. This perspective, that things will soon improve, has helped me keep worldly worries at bay during my barn time. But now I’m feeling a sense of hopelessness that bleeds into my time with my horse, which has normally been such a refuge. How can I continue to compartmentalize these aspects of life, and should I? Is there a danger in suppressing these worries in order to enjoy my ride?
Thanks for your perspective,
—K.M., amateur rider, Orange County

Dear K,


Thanks for this beefy question. You, similar to many people, are losing that sense that everything will go back to ‘normal’ once the calendar turns on December 31. I have heard folks remark, ‘get me to 2021 fast,’ as if our current situation will magically transform in January. I think it’s safe to say that our troubles are staring us in the face, and we have a long way to go before they’re resolved.  We’re not ‘going back to the way things were.’ It’s abundantly clear that we have to change on many fronts.

Right now, as in other times in history, we as a society are faced with big tasks, challenges, and responsibilities. It can be overwhelming, to be sure. I am guessing your hopelessness and despair emerge when as you feel powerless to make things better and uncertain of the future.

Do our current societal challenges mean that we should no longer go to the barn, enjoy ourselves, and develop our riding? Absolutely not! If anything, we need our barn time and our horses more than ever. As I’ve often said, for us equestrians, the barn is a sanctuary—our meditative, restorative place. It’s important to keep it that way—for our mental health, our riding, and our relationship with our horses.

You ask if there is a danger in suppressing your worries in order to ride. My answer is that it’s imperative to have regular, reliable, relief from stress.

Consistent, long term exposure to high levels of stress, especially in which you feel helpless and hopeless, is detrimental to your mental health and your physical well-being—and it has a significant negative impact on your immune system. I highly recommend that you find ways to compartmentalize your worries, release physical and mental tension, and give yourself opportunities to be productive in your world.

Here are some strategies to get you started.
•    Set boundaries: Personally, I set boundaries around tasks and activities in order to help me be productive when I need to work, focus when I need to perform, and relax when I need to do that. Remember, time off is essential for productivity, so give yourself a break from worries too.
•    Lean into change: What you resist gets bigger and more powerful. If you’re feeling hopeless, you are likely resisting change rather than accepting the situation and figuring out to adapt and thrive under new conditions. Challenge yourself to see new opportunities for growth rather than putting your head in the sand waiting for the calendar to turn.
•    Be proactive, not reactive: Turn your mind to what you can do, rather than what you can’t. How can you make today a good day for yourself, your family, and your community? Productive people always turn their minds to what they can do to improve themselves or a situation.
•    Have compassion: it’s a stressful time. Let’s give ourselves and others a break. Even the strongest and most resilient among us sometimes feel off our game. If you’re feeling unsteady or down, give yourself some time to refuel. For us riders that might mean we need an extra afternoon at the barn!

Last, you mention you’re an optimist. Hang onto that quality! An optimist sees the opportunities in every situation. You, as a glass-half-full person, are needed right now more than ever. Look for the good in situations, such as the small pieces of progress or light. Maybe it’s the pony girl who just learned to canter, or the neighbor who brought over some cookies, or a kind gesture by a groom. What you focus on expands, so turn your mind to the new growth, the good, and the opportunities that present themselves now—and help others do the same.

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

November 2020 - Tack Trends
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 02:00
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DP Saddlery blends craftsmanship with cutting edge design & serves all disciplines.

A saddlery rooted in old fashioned craftsmanship may not seem the obvious source for an article on english saddle trends, but when the company is DP Saddlery LP, president Barbara Caiado is an expert on the topic.

DP Saddlery is a German company that makes saddles for all disciplines and styles. It pioneered the then-new concept of adjustable gullets 15 years ago. It has refined the system to a patented, continuously adjustable method in which the rider can easily widen the gullet as much as necessary or precisely fine tune the fit, all with an Allen Wrench.


“At this point, there is really not a market where the adjustable gullet system hasn’t taken off,” Barbara notes. Saddles for ranch work and barrel racing are two exceptions, but otherwise DP’s adjustable gullet saddles are as well accepted as those built on more traditional tree structures of wood, steel and more recent incarnations made of carbon fiber. DP also makes a treeless line of saddles.


Today’s widespread acceptance of DP’s adjustable saddles belies the challenges that went into designing and perfecting them. “It was very tricky to achieve a superior tree,” Barbara explains. “It has to handle the rider’s weight without collapsing underneath them and without the pressure points changing.” That strength, however, has to be flexible, too. “There have been a lot of flexible trees on the market in the last decade and some have done damage to the horse because they are too flexible. It requires a very unique balance. Our engineers in Germany are literally working on this non-stop and meticulously.”

Photo: © Zsuzsu Illes 2020

Panels that are only attached in the front and back of the tree are a unique DP Saddlery advantage that provides maximum comfort for the horse. To ease the pressure that is normally applied to the spine, the panels give slightly, so the spine doesn’t have to. When panels are completely attached (sewn) from front to back, it would be the horse’s spine that would have to give to pressure. “This is not the case in our models,” Barbara explains. “The horse can bend freely, so damages to the spinal area of the horse are therefore eliminated.”

Wooley Matters

As for trends, Barbara sees plenty.

First there is an ongoing move away from traditional real wool for flocking the saddle panels that distribute the rider’s weight evenly across the horse’s back. Using synthetic substitutes has been underway in Europe for some time and is migrating to the States.   

“There are downsides and upsides to each,” Barbara explains. “Real wool is very pliable, but the rider who rides five times a week probably needs to recheck it every three to six months.” With synthetic wool, that can often be stretched to a one to three-year span.

Saddle panels need to be adjusted regularly for various reasons. A young horse’s musculature may build up with training and maturity, or an older horse moving down competitive levels might lose muscle. A downside of traditional wool is that it can become compressed and hard. “When you flip an english saddle upside down, the panels should almost feel like a couch pillow,” Barbara explains. “I think there is a lack of education and understanding that the saddle needs to be maintained in order to work.”

In other cases, riders may lack access to saddle fitters who are trained to replace panel material per the needs of the individual horse and rider.

Synthetic material in the panel needs to be high-quality to provide and retain the right cushion and weight distribution capabilities. This is not always the case across the industry. “We have seen our saddles copied, and what we sometimes pull out of the panels is carpet, plastic bags, etc.”     

DP’s english saddles panels are flocked individually for every horse. A cellular rubber inlay forms a soft core that helps prevent the wool flocking from balling up, increasing the longevity of the wool. Inside of the inlay, there is a high-quality synthetic wool. Riders can choose between three thicknesses of flocking.
Smaller Blocks & Bigger Working Equitation Interest

In dressage saddles, a move away from large blocks that hold the rider in place is underway, Barbara observes. “This is thanks to a lot of the old schoolmasters preaching that we all need to work on our riding again. I think it’s a great advantage to get away from blocks that are often not very constructive when it comes to good riding.”

Perhaps the largest trend Barbara sees from her vantage point is the explosion of interest in saddles suitable for Working Equitation. As an international saddle maker, DP has been serving this discipline for many years because it’s long been popular in Portugal, Spain and throughout Europe. It is growing exponentially in the U.S., and so are their saddles. The versatility of the beautiful El Campo line in its baroque category has made it a favorite in Europe.

The newer Nova Flex line of options is gaining popularity in both dressage and Working Equitation.

DP’s newest trendsetting saddle can’t be revealed yet. “We are aiming to cover more horses with more variety of backs,” says Barbara of a line to be announced soon. “It usually takes us two years from start to finish, from the design, engineering and long testing phase, when it goes back to the shop. We are super excited about a new model we are very close to releasing.”
For information on DP-Saddlery in California, contact Zsuzsu Illes, 916-842-1517, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit for general information.

November 2020 - Tack TLC
Written by by Nikki Alvin-Smith
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:51
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Leather tack deserves good care and will repay the time investment in longevity and performance.

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

Let’s face it. Horse tack is expensive! Fortunately, if you take good care of it it’ll take good care of you. You work hard to earn the dollars to pay for your leather tack and take pride on how well your horse performs wearing his beautiful bridle, saddle, martingale, girth, breastplate or halter. Naturally riding IS the most fun thing of all to be doing and the routine care of all this equipment may not be high on your priority list.


When you consider the benefits of giving your leather tack some tender loving care you may want to move tack cleaning up on your to do list. Here are a few good reasons why:


  • Clean tack lasts longer. Horse sweat and hair, dust and dirt, are enemies of longevity and usefulness where leather is concerned.
  • When you clean your tack it is less likely to cause your horse skin soreness such as girth and saddle sores.
  • Inspecting tack as you clean it will prevent a major catastrophe as you’ll have a ‘heads up’ if stitching is coming undone or leather is worn and cracked and ready to give you the old heave-ho. Girth billets, stirrup leathers and bit straps and reins where they attach to the bit are particularly vulnerable to wear. After all, do you plan to demonstrate airs to the ground and bridle free riding techniques?
  • You and your horse look more professional.

Don’t Have the Time?

Everything in your life may be a mad dash but a quick routine wipe down at the end of each riding session takes but a moment. A quick rinse of the bit will be appreciated by your horse next time around and a swift wipe down of the leather components with a handy wipe designed for the purpose, will keep your tack free of dirt, dust and sweat until you have time for a proper tack clean. Many manufacturers offer wipes that you can tote along to shows and use when travelling too, or whenever you need rapid conditioning. Even a wipe down with a clean soaped cloth will help bridge that gap between when you’ve finished riding and when you have time to clean tack.

Tip: Do not use baby wipes to wipe down leather. These wipes are highly alkaline and may contain drying alcohol. Similarly leave food products where they belong, in the fridge/kitchen or on your sandwich. Use of mayonnaise, olive oil and other food products for leather care are literally a recipe for disaster for tack. They attract bacteria, damage the natural oils in leather, may stain and can look unsightly and smell awful.

Leather care sprays are another option if you are looking for a professional result in one easy step. Application by spray and a quick rub in with a cloth will protect the leather from drying and the bleaching effects of the sun and effectively lifts dirt from the leather. The aim is to soften, condition and rejuvenate stiff leather.

Both the above methods will help prolong the life of your tack by keeping it clean, but from time to time a deep clean is still needed. Look for cleaning products that have the correct pH for leather, and ones that will not darken the tanning process or remove tan staining. What does that involve? Let’s take a deeper dive.

Delve Deeper into the Deep Clean ~ What Products Work Best and Why

You no doubt have great chemistry with your horse and know that the right combination of horse and rider can outshine competitors in the ring, make every day brighter when time is spent together. Chemistry is important in leather care too.

Old-fashioned tack cleaning products such as saddle soap and similar products are highly alkaline whereas leather itself is not.

Without boring you with a 101 Chemistry class it is good to know that pH 7 is neutral, anything higher is alkaline and anything less is on the acid scale. That is where leather hides, on the acidic side of the scale. Saddle soaps are highly alkaline, registering pH9 or above. What does this mean? It means the saddle soaps are dastardly, because their repeated use over time will turn your leather alkaline too. This actually causes your beautiful leather tack to darken, weaken and harden. So applying the wrong product is truly not only a waste of time, but is a negative thing to do.

To make matters even worse, saddle soap will accumulate in hard to reach places as it is hard to rinse out of crevices and folds. The accumulation causes the leather to deteriorate and encourages the dreaded ‘mold growth.’ Aaagh. What can you do?

Myth: Soaps won’t come off and stain or mark breeches. Whenever you use any product on your saddle that leaves behind a residue or sits on the surface of the leather you can bet it is also transferring to the leather seat of your breeches or seat of your jeans when you ride. This transfer will only be increased with friction and heat. Additionally, if the tack you use is not tanned properly and is simply sprayed on, the color will migrate onto the seat of your riding pants/jeans too. Now that’s a look you don’t want.

There are a myriad of leather care products out there and certainly a leather care product is better than reaching under the kitchen sink for whatever is handy for cleaning such as Murphy’s Oil Soap which a heavy oil and not leather friendly or bleach, vinegar, window cleaner, shoe polish etc., which are all harsh products that harm leather. Multi-purpose sprays are not a good idea for leather care either.  It is imperative that you select the right leather care product.

Myth: Oils such as mink oil make great leather conditioners. This is not true, oil taken from the fat layer under the skin of a mink may work as a conditioner once or twice, but eventually these heavy oils will oxidize and dry the leather. Leather is a porous material and those pores need to be kept clean and open so that leather can breathe and the natural oils need to be replenished after cleaning with a light, non-residue pH balanced product that matches the acidic pH of leather.

The pH balance products along with those that don’t leave a surface-scum or sticky residue on the leather make the perfect solution for tack care.

How Do You Complete a Professional Deep Clean?

Tip: If possible hang a bridle hook and utilize a collapsible saddle rack. These items will make tack cleaning very easy. The bridle hook gives you the height to keep reins off the floor and provides a spot to hold the bridle/halter/martingales so you can make a clean sweep with your tack cleaning sponge or soft cloth and utilize both hands. The collapsible saddle rack adjusts so you can place your saddle upside down and work on the underside.

There are two basic steps to the cleaning process: Clean the tack and then condition it to add the important oils back to the leather.

Here’s how simple it is to complete:

Find a clear a space to work and have a bucket of warm water, a clean sponge and a few dry cloths handy. Wipe off any surface dust from the tack with the dry cloth and then disassemble the bridle and remove the girth, cinch and stirrup leathers from the saddle. If you want to be certain to put things back together on the same holes, just note down their placement/hole number. Remember it is important to completely disassemble the tack so that you can check for damage and wear, such as broken stitching, cracks and weaknesses plus you need to reach into all the crevices to do a proper deep clean.

Soak the sponge in the warm water and then wring out so it is not sopping wet. Apply a small amount of leather cleaner to the sponge and apply to the leather in a small circular motion. Pay particular attention to points were leather pieces are joined together as these are high grime and dirt areas.

Tip: Don’t use too much product. You don’t want to create so much lather that you leave a dirt-attracting residue behind.           

Myth: Water is bad for leather. Actually leather is tanned using water as part of the process. It isn’t water that hurts leather; it is drying that leather out too fast and not replenishing the natural oils.

Rinse and repeat until you have covered all the leather territory. If your water becomes dirty throw it out, rinse the bucket and start with a fresh supply.

Then rub the leather dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Tip: Pay special attention to areas of tack that come into direct contact with the horse as these will accumulate a greasy layer of sweat which contains harmful salt and body oil. If it is difficult to remove try a very soft brush but check the brush on a hidden spot of the tack first to ensure it does not scratch.

An old toothbrush is an excellent brush for those little hard to reach areas.

The delightfully clean and grime free tack is now ready to enjoy some conditioning treatment. Think of it like washing your hair. You’ve cleaned your hair with shampoo but now you need to replace those oils you washed out with a good conditioner. And like a good hair product, you don’t want a lot of lather.

Take a leather conditioner and apply a thin layer with a soft clean cloth to all areas of the tack. Pay particular attention to areas such as the top of the cantle, where the leather has been stretched and ensure a thorough conditioning to all areas of high stress.

Tip: If you feel the leather needs more conditioning don’t go mad and splurge with heavy amounts of conditioner all at once. Instead, add thin layers one at a time. It is better to wait 24 hours and see how the leather feels than to overdo it at one time. You can always add more thin layers later.

Tip: In geographic areas of high humidity good leather care is paramount to prevent atmospheric moisture seeping into the pores of the leather. Similarly, regions that experience hot sun and dry conditions will also take a toll on leather products. Routine prevention of damage with proper tack cleaning will significantly extend the life of your leather and save you money down the trail.

Well done you! Your tack is now clean and ready to reassemble. But before you take that step let’s take a quick tack safety inspection.

Leather that is cracked, torn, stretched or has stitching coming undone may undo you too. No-one wants to land on their head due to a billet that gives way under pressure or find themselves galloping about with no reins or bit dangling out of their horse’s mouth. Let’s leave trick riding to the stunt professionals.

Inspection Tips:

  • Holes in tack are a weak spot and should be inspected to ensure they are not stretching, cracking or are deformed due to overuse. If you ride your horse on the same settings every time your tack will double up on wear and may need to be replaced. Try and vary the settings you use: e.g. tighten the girth higher on one side of your horse one day and lower on the other side and alternate the sides on your next ride.
  • Wherever there is a fold in leather there is a vulnerable ‘perma-fold’, such as the stirrup leathers that you ride in daily on the same hole. Unfold the leather and check for cracking and damage and replace if necessary. Similarly folds of leather where the rein or bit strap attaches to the bit or an area where leather meets a buckle are all high-risk areas for wear and tear. Better to learn now that something is about to break and repair or replace it than when you are mounted and it gives out.
  • Buckle up for safety but buckle down and check out every buckle on your tack. The prongs can be weak or missing, they can be bent or have collected dirt and no longer move freely.
  • Inspect all stitching and ensure it has integrity and is not starting to come undone or has become lose or shows signs of rot. A quick run to your local tack shop or cobbler can resolve many such issues cheaply.
  • Check your girth or cinch. This area is one of the high-pressure points of tack and billets do pull off when stitching is weak or break when they have been stretched. Replacement by your saddle manufacturer or local tack shop is relatively inexpensive and can be life saving.
  • Stirrup bars: Ensure that whether you have the bars open or closed they are clean and operate freely. There is no necessity to be dragged by a horse if you come off and this is an extremely important safety issue.
  • When you inspect your saddle check the underside for lumps and bumps and sides and pockets of uneven wear as these may indicate a worn out saddle that needs reflocking or a problem with saddle fit. See our tip sheet on English and Western saddle fitting here.

What Can I Do About Mold and Mildew on Leather?

This happens! It is hard to completely recover tack that has been neglected but it is always worth a try. Obviously the best thing is to prevent it happening in the first place by thorough cleaning and correct storage in a clean, dry area with airflow to keep the pores in the leather open, but that is not how life works. We pack things up, move, forget about older tack and equipment. Here’s a recovery program:

Quarantine the affected tack outside with soft brushes and old cloths that you will not reuse after they have been in contact with the dreaded green fuzz.

Scrub the leather with a damp sponge, using plenty of water and apply Lexol Cleaner in small circular motions. Discard each cloth as it becomes dirty. If you need to use a soft bristled brush check it doesn’t scratch the leather by testing it on a small hidden area.

Apply a light layer of conditioner and place the tack in the sun to dry. The ultraviolet light of the sun may not be good for your skin but it has disinfecting properties for your tack. Be certain there is no moisture/water left in the tack before you store it again.

Tip: Saddle soaps that contain glycerin will attract and hold atmospheric moisture. Another good reason not to utilize these alkaline based leather care products.

The 101 of Leather Storage for Longevity

It is a lot easier to prevent mold and mildew than to treat and clean it. Mold loves damp, dark places with poor ventilation. So your first choice of location for leather storage should be somewhere that is light, with a good airflow. The area should be clean, dry and if for the saddle a cover to protect it from dust is a great idea.

Let your leather breathe. If you don’t like the air in the space then the chances are your expensive leather tack won’t either. Like us, leather likes to breathe.

A de-humidifier placed in the tack room for climates with high humidity an be beneficial in improving the air quality for good tack storage.

Rodents also love dark cozy places and if you don’t have a barn cat to keep them at bay then trapping them may be the only option. While the barn cat may sit on your saddle and sharpen its claws up on the leather,(another reason to add a saddle cover), the rodent population will enjoy snacking on stitches, chowing down on saddle stuffing and generally chewing on everything. Protect your tack and equipment from rodents.

How many times have you seen a saddle stored with its back against a wall? Saddles need to lie down. Over time a saddle that is propped up against the wall will not only get dirty it will lose shape. If you hang your saddle by its horn the stress on the integrity of the saddle will be sincerely damaging to its balance and shape. Saddles should be stored on a saddle rack that is hopefully designed for the purpose with proper support of the underside of the saddle for its entire length of the skirt.

Caring for your tack can be a relaxing and therapeutic time. Think of all the moments you stand chatting with barn friends, are on hold while you wait for your trainer/vet/farrier/chiropractor to arrive? This is time you can spend protecting your investment in your tack and giving it the ‘tender loving care’ it deserves.

Author Nikki Alvin-Smith is a professional freelance content writer, as well as an international Grand Prix dressage trainer/clinician who has competed in Europe at the Grand Prix level earning scores of over 72%. Together with her husband Paul, who is also a Grand Prix rider, they operate a private horse breeding/training farm in Stamford, NY.

November 2020 - Letting Flooring Do Its Thing
Written by by Kim F Miller
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:43
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Bedding traditions are debunked at Sacramento-area boarding facility.

by Kim F Miller

Oak Knoll Equestrian Center owner Layla Schackner has a beef with Haygain. She loves the company’s flooring product, ComfortStall, but scolds it for not educating horse owners that its layer of orthopedic foam eliminates the need of bedding for cushion.


The Schackners purchased the seven-acre horse property near Sacramento from FEI driver Leslie Berndl three years ago and the barn had four stalls of ComfortStall. “At first I wasn’t excited about them,” says Layla, who added barn manager to her busy life as a mom and high school teacher. Berndl had not used any bedding atop ComfortStall’s single-piece layer of durable rubber that is sealed to the stall wall. When the Schackners took over, however, boarders were using deep shavings. While that is horse keeping “tradition” in many circles, it was unnecessary and, in fact, negated one of ComfortStall’s biggest benefits: reduced dust from bedding.


“Getting boarders to trust the flooring to do its job was hard,” Layla recounts. Three years later, however, Oak Knoll’s four ComfortStalls have a waiting list nine boarders deep. It includes one owner who realized ComfortStall’s benefits after keeping her horse at a stable without it for a few months.

“I lost a few clients over it,” Layla recounts of drastically reducing the amount of bedding. “They wanted stalls deeply bedded in big fluffy flakes of pine shavings. Some people want to build nests for their horses, but horses are not nesting animals.”

Further, the pine shavings “don’t do anything: they don’t absorb urine.” Instead, urine accumulated in soiled bedding. Labor and time-intensive excavations were needed to remove it and it stunk things up with dangerous and unpleasant ammonia odors in the interim. “It was gross!” Layla recalls.

Even at the risk of losing boarders, Layla followed her gut on how much bedding was beneficial. She did side-by-side trials with fluffy, deep pine shavings and three different pelleted products. Mallard Creek’s Megazsorb pellets with zeolite emerged as the best fit for ComfortStall. Oak Knoll uses them in small quantities needed only to absorb urine, which is then easily removed. “A lot of our boarders say we are the only barn they’ve been at where you never smell ammonia, and it’s because of the stall mats. It’s something I forget about until I go to a show or another barn and get hit with that massive wall of ammonia that hits you in the face!”

Doing As Designed

The new bedding approach lets ComfortStall do what it was designed to do: provide cushion and comfort, improve barn air quality and lower maintenance costs and labor.

“Our stall floors are mostly exposed,” Layla explains of the four 12’ x 16’ and 16’ x 20’ main barn accommodations. “We only do the bedding on half of the floor, and only about an inch, inch-and-a-half deep.” Even that thin layer nicely absorbs urine, then clumps into pitchforkable patches. Stall cleaning is much easier, and Oak Knoll’s bedding bill is cut by at least half. Waste and its removal cost and environmental impact are significantly reduced, too.

With a typical horse count of 20, Oak Knoll used to haul manure off property three times a week to minimize flies, odors and unsightly piles. “Now we can go a solid two weeks between manure removals,” Layla explains. “A couple of our farmer neighbors take all of our manure because there is so little bedding product in it. So, it’s good all around.”

Labor and costs savings pale in comparison to the horse health benefits ComfortStall offers. Layla describes the case of a 24-year-old retired hunter mare who arrived at Oak Knoll with a hoof abscess, a history of frequent colics and discomforts that made her unrideable more often than not. “After about five months with us, everything leveled out and the owner could ride her again regularly. The abscess cleared up, she put weight on, and hasn’t had a colic in the 2.5 years she’s been with us.”

“You can’t be 100% sure why that is, but her owner feels like the ComfortStall has a lot to do with it. She’s very happy to be here. My only complaint about ComfortStall is that we don’t have more. It should be in every stall.”

Layla and Christopher Schackner have two horse-crazy daughters to thank for the equestrian lifestyle in which they are now happily immersed. Living on site and managing the boarding and training facility and United States Pony Club Riding Center base is a 24/7 labor of love. “On paper, it looks like you can make money owning a horse property,” Layla laughs. That’s been a little harder in practice, but the immediate emotional rewards are ongoing. “We are very passionate about our barn and property and we try to make it as environmentally green and as family friendly as possible.” The park-like setting includes a pond stocked with fish so non-horsey guys have a fun activity when their kids or wives are taking lessons.

Since COVID, Oak Knoll’s commitment to its families has sometimes included swapping labor and skills with boarders undergoing extra financial stress. “I know how much of a difference horses have made in my kids’ life,” Layla reflects of her incentive to help families keep horses in their lives, especially in tough times. Making smart decisions as a stable manager, even when they weren’t initially popular, has been a big part of Oak Knoll Equestrian Center’s ability to do that.

November 2020 - On With The Show!
Written by by Nan Meek
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:27
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dressage news

CDS/USDF Region 7 Championships parlayed special circumstances into special highlights.

by Nan Meek

What makes a show special is as individual as each competition, and what makes a highlight special is just as unique.

For me, the 2020 Great American Insurance Group/ USDF Region 7 Dressage Championships and the 53rd California Dressage Society Championships, held concurrently at the Del Mar Horse Park was only special because I didn’t get to attend. I wasn’t competing, or grooming, or volunteering  – but I was there in spirit.


What made the show special for some of my friends and fellow CDS members are these highlights. Their accomplishments illustrate to me the reasons they are so successful: They know their horses inside and out, and love them for their strengths as well as their quirks. They work hard to achieve their goals, and they appreciate not only the prize at the end of the journey, but the long and often winding journey itself. And at the end of the day, they’re all as horse crazy as I am.


There are many more great stories than I can cover in just one column. To find out about other champions, competitors, and their stories, visit for links to CDS press releases and official show results.

Charlotte Jorst and Kastel Denmark’ KWPN stallion Kastel's Grand Galaxy, CDS Prix St. Georges Open Horse of the Year, and Great American/USDF Region 7 Open Champion at both Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire 1. Photo: Terri Miller Photography

Charlotte Jorst Brings a Trio of Champions

Galaxy, Botticelli, and Nintendo – oh my! That is a seriously fun stable of dressage horses, and Charlotte Jorst brought home seven championships with this trio. Having worked for Charlotte in the past, I’ve always been impressed by how she’s worked hard as well as smart to make the seriously big money it takes to buy, campaign, and now breed outstanding dressage horses. Who hasn’t worn, or at least seen, her Kastel Denmark sun shirts, among other athleisure apparel standouts, or Fossil watches before that? She’s also one of the most enthusiastic and encouraging competitors you’ll ever find.

“The championships were so fun, I’m so glad I did it,” Charlotte remarked. “I had such a good time. I really appreciate being able to even have the show this year. I think everyone was happy to be there – it’s been such a difficult year.”

With Kastel Denmark’s KWPN stallion Kastel’s Grand Galaxy, Charlotte won the $750 CDS Prix St. Georges Open Horse of the Year class on 73.456%; the Great American/USDF Region 7 Prix St. Georges Open Championship on 74.632%; and the Great American/USDF Region 7 Intermediaire I Open Championship on 71.809%.

“Galaxy has really only been doing stallion shows until now. I took him out for the first time at Temecula, where he had no idea what that little white barrier was! Then at the Starr Vaughn show he was way better,” she recalled. “So at the championships I was curious to see what he’d do. He came out three times in a row and did his job – I was so relieved and happy. He’d never really done this before. I’m very proud of him for rising to the occasion.”

With Kastel Denmark’s Dutch gelding Atterupgaards Botticelli, Charlotte brought home the Great American/USDF Region 7 Third Level Open Championship on 72.375 and the $750 CDS Third Level Open Horse of the Year on 73.938%.

“Botticelli is similar. He’s a very hot horse, and he hasn’t shown a lot. During our second dressage class, there were also awards going on with music and lots of activity, but he just stepped right up and did his job. This show was a big test for me, with two new horses. It was a big goal for me. Everybody’s been in the same boat: riding at home, with some barns shut down, and very few shows to qualify.”

With Kastel Denmark’s KWPN stallion Kastel’s Nintendo, this longtime partnership won the $750 CDS Grand Prix Freestyle Open Horse of the Year on 75.500%, and the Great American/USDF Region 7 Grand Prix Open Championship on 71.304%.

“Nintendo is always game – he loves his job. I think he was disappointed he didn’t have more classes! He’s always ready for anything, all the time,” she laughed. Hmmm, I think he sounds a lot like Charlotte.

Charlotte was still in Del Mar when we spoke after championships, getting ready for the two CDIs in November, and then heading to Florida where she’ll try out for the World Cup or the Olympics, depending on how life unfolds. With the uncertainties of the current pandemic, that will take the optimism and perseverance that Charlotte has in abundance.

Tina Lovazzano and Dancing Kings Farm's P.R.E. gelding Leon XXIX, Great American/USDF Region 7 Grand Prix Adult Amateur Champion. Photo: Terri Miller Photography

Sandy Savage Takes Home Schooling up the Levels

Sandy Savage brought two horses to the championships and came away with two championships for each horse. Although they’re different ages and purchased at different times, both were spotted on Facebook videos, and both imported sight unseen as unridden, coming 3-year-olds that Sandy broke and brought up all the way.

Of course she did, I thought, remembering her early rides on the very big and very green Woccelli years ago when we both happened to be riding in the same clinic. I hadn’t met her but I was mesmerized by how calmly, confidently, and kindly she rode the very rambunctious greenie. She took him up through the levels, too, so it didn’t surprise me to see her repeating her success.

With Maureen Lamb’s Oldenburg mare Fiana, Sandy won the First Level Warm Up class on 73.333%; the $750 CDS First Level Open Horse of the Year on 73.542%; and the Great American/USDF Region 7 First Level Open Championship on 79.028%.

“Fiana is one of the best chestnut mares in the world,” Sandy contends. “She wants her attention and tells you what she wants. She really loves people and despises other horses. She’s very precocious, very brave, can be a little dramatic, and she is super confident and willing to work. She’s one of the most uncomplicated horses and very run to ride. Her rider appreciates her the most – she’s very friendly to people but not to other horses!”

With Maureen Lamb’s Dutch gelding Ilario, Sandy won the Fourth Level Warm Up class on 70.417%; the $750 CDS Fourth Level Open Horse of the Year on 74.097%; and the Great American/USDF Region 7 Fourth Level Open Championship on 75.000%.

“Ilario is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Fiana,” Sandy explains. “He’s very tall and very scared. He needs lots of emotional support. If you fulfil his needs, he tries his heart out for you. He’s a really good boy, the sweetest, kindest horse on the planet. He has beautiful eyes; he seduces you with his eyes and melts your heart.”

Haley Smith and Pacific Coast Vaulting Club’s Hanoverian gelding Sir Charles, CDS Third Level JR/YR Horse of the Year. Photo: Jerry Yang

Tina Lovazzano’s Overwhelmingly Good Show

For me, Tina Lovazzano represents the quintessential qualities of adult amateur riders: a passion for her horses and a passion for the art, sport, and lifestyle of dressage, for all the joy that brings to life. And sometimes for the chaos it brings, as well.

In the months leading up to the championships, Dancing Kings Farm held and had to cancel shows; evacuated the entire farm (P.R.E. stallions, mares, and babies as well as riding horses) due to approaching wildfires and unhealthy air quality; and later headed south to compete in the championships. Tina’s daughter Shae and Shae’s fiancé Manuel Peña Santos, partners in Dancing Kings Farm, were along for moral support as well as eyes on the ground.

With Dancing Kings Farm’s P.R.E. gelding Leon XXIX, Tina won the Great American/USDF Region 7 Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship on a score of 64.239%.

“For me, the experience at my very first Championship show was overwhelming in a good way,” Tina explained. “To win the championship on an Iberian horse that I trained myself to Grand Prix, in our first year showing  Grand Prix, in a class of seasoned competitors all riding accomplished warmbloods, was truly the silver lining to such a turbulent 2020!

“Seeing myself wearing a mask in my honor round and award photos will forever remind me what this year has brought, both good and bad, but it goes to show that with determination, drive, and passion you can reach your goals even during a global pandemic.”

Sandy Savage and Maureen Lamb’s Dutch gelding Ilario, CDS Fourth Level Open Horse of the Year and Great American/USDF Region 7 Fourth Level Open Champion. Photo: Victoria Savage

Haley Smith Vaults into Dressage

Recently introduced to Haley Smith by my longtime trainer, Anke Herbert, I quickly saw what had so impressed Anke: Haley’s natural talent, athleticism, and intelligence to succeed in whatever equestrian sport she chooses. Haley just happened, thanks to the pandemic, to segue from vaulting to dressage.

With Carolyn Bland’s KWPN mare Checara, Haley won CDS Training Level JR/YR Horse of the Year on a combined average score of 75.043%. Not to rest on her laurels, she added other championships with the Pacific Coast Vaulting Club’s Hanoverian gelding Sir Charles, taking the CDS Third Level JR/YR Horse of the Year on a combined average score of 68.408%.

Hayley’s own account says it all:

“I competed in vaulting for eight years, attending my first World Championship in Le Mans, France, in 2016. In 2018, I competed at the World Equestrian Games, where we placed fourth in Squad and 6th in Pas de Deux. Sir Charles also competed at the WEG for vaulter Kristian Roberts. Most recently, I won an FEI Silver medal at the World Cup in Saumur, France, for Pas de Deux.

“This year was set to be a very exciting season for the vaulting competition, before COVID-19 hit and all was shut down. We had our eyes set on the 2020 World Championships, which would have been held in Flyinge, Sweden. Reality soon struck, as we were notified that it could be a long while until competitive vaulting would resume. As an athlete and competitor, I didn’t want stop or give up on all that we had worked for. In addition to vaulting, our horses are trained in dressage as cross-training to strengthen and develop their balance and ability to move with regularity.

“Since I was very young, I have always been in the saddle, first with hunter/jumper, western, English, and soon vaulting, as I had done some gymnastics as a child. When my vaulting coach Carolyn Bland saw that I had a tool box of riding skills and a quality seat, she began teaching me dressage. We have also been very lucky to have Anke Herbert helping to train the US vaulting horses in dressage.

“When we found out that there would be no vaulting competitions this season, Anke asked if I would consider showing in dressage instead. I was a bit nervous at first, as I really had no clue what even M-X-K meant! Many YouTube videos later, I began to understand and develop the basics of what I would need to do.

“With a lot of patience and grace, Anke soon taught me how to bring the confidence I held in the vaulting arena to the court of the dressage world. I believe this was my key to success, as even though I did not have much experience or time under my belt, I knew how to have a competitive mindset and drive to succeed.

“In March, I attended my first dressage show and in September won championships in Del Mar on two horses. The championship show was the highlight to my year, as even though life did not go as planned, we were able to make something pretty magical of it! I have so many to thank for the incredible opportunity and hope to be back in the dressage arena soon. I owe a big “thank you” to Akiko Yamazaki for allowing me to train in her dressage court prior to the competition in Del Mar.

Barbi Breen-Gurley and her KWPN gelding Happy M, Great American/USDF Region 7 Fourth Level Freestyle Champions. Photo: Terri Miller Photography

Miki Yang Grows Up Through the Levels

Speaking of Akiko Yamazaki, her daughter Miki Yang rode Four Winds Farm’s Oldenburg gelding Rapsodie Espagnole to win the Third Level Warm Up class on 70.125%, as well as the Great American/USDF Region 7 FEI Junior Team Test Championship on 68.636%.

It’s a sign of a bright future for our sport when you see a new generation of talented young riders growing up immersed in the details of dressage and committed to excelling in their chosen sport. Watch for more championships in Miki’s future.

Freestyles Pay Off for Barbi Breen-Gurley

Over the years, there’s always been a smile, a friendly comment, and a helping hand when needed from Barbi Breen-Gurley and her husband Geof Gurley. Longtime mainstays of California dressage shows, competitions are always a bit brighter when they’re around.

This year’s championship show was no exception, and it might have been due to the brilliance of their smiles when Barbi and her KWPN gelding Happy M won both the Great American/USDF Region 7 Fourth Level Freestyle Championship on a score of 73.500%, and the CDS Fourth Level Freestyle Horse of the Year on 74.750%.

A lifelong horse owner, Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1).

November 2020 - It’s How You Finish That Counts!
Written by by Raizy Goffman • photos: Kristin Lee Photography
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:14
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Camelot Events ends the show season on a strong and successful note.

by Raizy Goffman • photos: Kristin Lee Photography

Despite having to cancel most of its show year due to Covid-19 shutdowns, Camelot Events is ending the year with a bang!

The Camelot Classic found its way back to its old home base of Earl Warren Showgrounds. The showgrounds is in the process of an entire facelift, and the results so far have been amazing. (See full report, page 32). All the many exhibitors at this San Fernando Hunter Jumper Association’s Championship Show were delighted with all the new improvements. We had the largest attendance in over a decade with exhibitors that were more than ready to show.

The newly renovated Dome Arena became center stage for the 23 mighty 2’3” finalists. Earning the Championship ribbon and trophy was Ripley Erlich trained by Kathy Megla.  Reserve Champion was awarded to Lucia Koyama trained by Karen Perlow.

Judges, Ellen Gates and Chuck Majer credited the riders with point tallied from a jumping phase, with a built in trot jump test and a work off.

Caden Jacobs trained by McKenna Skelton took home the trophy as this year’s Medal Final Champion.  Marley Leonard, trained by Kim Baxter was Reserve Champion.

The Camelot Hunter Challenge Finals became two split Derbies this year. One Derby for Open Riders sponsored by Stephanie Haney of Open Arms Farm, and one for Junior/Amateur Riders sponsored by Nancy Frost of Sapphire Ridge. The winners bested the field by taking their own course and incorporating jumps and trail obstacles. David Josiah showed how it was done on Sofia Ellis’ Newton’s Law, while the large Jr/Am Derby was won by Jordyn Chafee on Surprise Party trained by Jeni Brown. The $5,000 Jumper Classic was won by Danah Zaman, who also won the Ride and Drive. Lots of ringside excitement was happening when Danah drove off in her very own Golf Cart while her trainer settled for second place and won the trail blazer bicycle!

Camelot Events is now looking forward to our last show of the year, the Camelot Autumn Jubilee, which falls this year on the week before Thanksgiving. On November 19-22 we will once again descend upon the Earl Warren Showgrounds for a happy, friendly, exciting show. This show is hosting the California Professional Horseman’s Association Child/Adult Medal Finals at 3’ and the Horsemanship Medal Finals at 2’6”. Due to Covid-19, CPHA is changing their point protocol for the 2020 medal season. For all CPHA and CPHA Foundation classes if you “participate” in one class you will be eligible to compete in the corresponding medal class. That means you need zero points to qualify. There will be a “last chance to qualify class” at the Autumn Jubilee the day before the Finals. This show is also hosting the USHJA Zone 10 Horse Of The Year Championships in Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation. Be sure to join in the fun at the final show of 2020!

JrAm Cam Hunter Challenge - Surprise Party & Jordyn Chafee, trained by Jeni Brown.

Camelot Hunter Challenge Derby Open - David Josiah & Newton’s Law, owned by Sopia Ellis.

Danah Zaman on Billie Velocity, trained by Laura Kotimaki Hurd.

Danah Zaman, winner of the golf cart. Second place winner of the bike was her trainer Laura Hurd!

SFHJA 12 & Under Finals - Georgia Bass, trained by Karen Perlow, assisted by Stacia Ryan.

SFHJA 13 & Over - Billie Guerin on Bragging Rights, trained by Chad Mahaffey.

SFHJA 17 & Under - Caden Jacobs on Quality Silva, trained by McKenna Skelton.

SFHJA 18 & Over - Noelle Childers on Super Girl, trained by Joe Thorpe.

SFHJA Futures Finals - Ripley Erlich on Catch A Kiss, trained by Kathy Megla.

November 2020 - Woodside Day of the Horse, Reinvented
Written by photos: Nan Meek
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:02
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photos: Nan Meek

Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) volunteers worked for months to create a Day of the Horse weekend like no other for their 16th Annual Day of the Horse events, October 9-11. Woodside Art of the Horse went 100% online, the Progressve Trail Ride made social distancing fun, and the Drive-Through Family Fun Horse Fair delighted carloads of happy families.


WHOA! Co-Chair Fawni Hill on Progressive Trail Ride

Drive-Through Family Fun Horse Fair

Save A Pal Donated Cuddly Ponies for Kids

Petra Simms Sekerkova & Kladruber Serpa

Becky Witter & Quarter Horse 24 Karat Bling

Farrier Steve Wieberg hot shoes Champ

Safe & Delicious Trail Ride Stops

November 2020 - Del Mar International
Written by photos: Julia B Photography
Thursday, 29 October 2020 23:45
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Bond, Nichols and Leckie star in a sizzling season that is far from finished.

photos: Julia B Photography

The Del Mar International came wrapped up two weeks at the lovely Del Mar Horse Park on Sunday, Oct. 19. From prestigious medal finals to hunters on the grass field to incredibly competitive jumper classes, we saw some amazing rounds with horses and riders in top form.

The highlight event was the $50,000 Grand Prix of the Pacific presented by EQ International Real Estate. The competition was fierce with 53 horse and rider combinations taking to the grass field for their shot at a share of the $50,000 purse. Ultimately it was professional rider Ashlee Bond who took the championship aboard Donatello 141, owned by Little Valley Farms. This pair was top of the podium last year at Del Mar International as well!

In second place was Will Simpson riding Chacco P, owned by Will Simpson Stables Inc, and in third was Robert Blanchette aboard Chardonnay owned by RTS LLC.

Ashlee Bond and Donatello 141.

Ashlee Bond had a fantastic week in the office, also winning the $5,00 1.35m, the $5,000 1.45m presented by Jett Martin Equine Spa, and the $5,000 1.35m Speed Derby presented by Prestige Italia.

Sean Leckie and C'est Moi.

PCHA Child/Adult Jumper Championships

West Palms Events was honored to host the $25,000 PCHA Child/Adult Jumper Championships during Del Mar International. Juniors and adult amateurs who show at the 1.10 level were eligible to compete, and the championship event was held over two rounds, Friday and Saturday, with both scores combined to determine overall winners.

Junior Erin Nichols, who also competes Young Rider level dressage, emerged victorious aboard her mare Hindee. In second place was Jennifer Elliott aboard Comtess, and in third was Caroline Bell aboard New Delhi VH Waterschoot Z. Congratulations to all ribbon winners in this great championship.

The $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by Fleeceworks was held in the main hunter arena on Friday morning. Taking the win out of 17 entries was Sean Leckie aboard C›est Moi owned by Breanne Karanikolas.

Second place went to Claire Archer riding her own Rimpoche, and third was won by Nina Alario riding Drop the Mic, owned by Sonja Petri.

Erin Nichols and Hindee.

Rider’s Cup

The West Palms Events 2020 season will wrap up with the West Palms Classic November 12 - 15 and the Riders Cup November 19 - 22! Both are at the Del Mar Horse Park. The latter features the $100,000 Grand Prix and it’s the middle of a three-show circuit in which the leading rider from all the shows’ big Grand Prix gets an extra $50,000 bonus. The first in this series is the Desert International Horse Park STX Grand Prix Nov. 7; then the Riders Cup Grand Prix Nov. 22; and back to the DIHP Dec. 13.

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