This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.
“Teamwork makes the dream work” has become a popular caption on social media feeds of athletes from all disciplines. This phrase seems particularly relevant for those in the eventing world. While the spotlight might shine on a single horse and rider combination during the heat of competition, every event rider understands theirs to be a fundamentally team sport, dependent on the efforts and skillsets of grooms, barn managers, trainers, working students, and often a wide array of friends and family, without whom the strains of competition, training, and travel would not be sustainable. But what exactly goes into the “work” that holds together a team for the long haul?
Clips, combs, a big dull needle, gloves. Area VII eventer Lilia Haberman describes what most realize is a survival kit for braiders. And that’s exactly what she is: a braider, not to be mistaken with a groom. Grooms tend to be an all-in type, usually pairing the service offered with a specific professional and growing alongside a barn family—a right-hand man (or woman) for any event. But for Haberman, her braiding service goes wherever she does, whether that’s to events as a competitor or volunteer.
His legacy is in his name: Steady Eddie (Jetball x Tuonela). The 16.1 bay Thoroughbred gelding owned by Denise Lahey, Pierre Collin, and George and Gretchen Wintersteen has officially retired at 19 years old. But before we reminisce his decorated record as an eventer, lets first remember and pay homage to his first career as a racehorse in Australia, where he raced under the name Big Jet.
Finding a penny on heads is pretty lucky, but finding a Penny that has a mane, tail, and talent to boot? Now that’s grounds for an eventing prospect. Mix a little luck and a lot of experience with the right opportunity and that’s the exact recipe that Area VII eventer Jacqueline Cameron found herself smack dab in the middle of in April 2021.
Horse shopping can sometimes feel like a box of chocolates. An unassuming choice might turn out to be the best of the bunch. For 39-year-old Betsy Ball, this was certainly the case with her heart-horse, West Point. Ball was originally in search of an all-around lesson horse for her barn; what she ended up getting was a barely broke 5-year-old who would go on to be her FEI two-star mount and inherently change her entire perspective of the sport.
Anyone who has ever met Lois James would say, “She’s ride or die.” No exaggeration necessary, James is truly the epitome of that expression—cheering on someone who she met two minutes ago at an event, clapping when a friend completes a course (despite what their round looked like), and sharing her infectious positivity with her local eventing community and beyond. But “ride or die” took on a whole new meaning when James found herself in diagnosis limbo after a persistent pain in her side brought new fears to light.
Things are a bit different for this week's USEA Podcast. Nicole Brown takes off her hosting hat and hands it over to USEA member Allie Penlandwho quizzes Nicole on all things eventing. From how Nicole got her start in working within the sport, to where she sees the sport going in the future, and what differences she sees in the sport between the U.S. and abroad, and more. Nicole shares all in this one-of-a-kind episode that you won't want to miss!
When it comes to riders and their horses, not many can say that they have had their mounts since they were a foal. Carla Jimmerson, however, prefers to start her partnerships from scratch. Having trained horses for years, Jimmerson finds that working with a blank canvas is most rewarding. Her most recent project, Tag You’re It, is a 6-year-old Thoroughbred/Connemara cross gelding that she got at just 10-months-old. Having worked together for the better part of five years, the pair have an incredibly unique bond that can only be attributed to their time spent together early on in Tag Your It’s life.
Five-star international eventer Ashlynn Meuchel remembers her purchase of the now 13-year-old big grey Dutch Warmblood gelding named Emporium (Cartano x UPANA), whom she lovingly refers to as Theo. “He was affordable because he was feral,” Meuchel reflected. Ask her to say that again without laughing and it might prove difficult. All jokes aside, most of us know that challenging horses usually take us on the scenic route to success. They have big hearts, big strides and sometimes big fears or quirks, and charmingly, Emporium had everything.