As COVID-19 hit the U.S. nationwide, it forced the cancellation of the eventing calendar from March 16 to June 1. During the suspension of USEA recognized events, the USEA Official Podcast kept members informed about what was happening with the sport and helped prepare everyone for a safe return to competition. Recording from the safety of their own homes, the hosts of the USEA Official Podcast dive deep into life amidst COVID-19 on episodes #255-#259.
Dating back to April 13 and up to June 8, the past seven episodes have memorable quotes on quarantine projects, event preparation, and how to adjust to the "new normal."
#255: Checking in From Self-Isolation – Monday, April 13
Special guest: Jonathan Elliott
“We are in lockdown in Washington state until the beginning of May. We have three young children and a chicken coop is being constructed at the moment. It’s nice to get the odds and end projects done at the farm, but there are some stir crazy days as well," said Jonathan Elliott, USEA Vice President of Competitions. “There is so much unknown in all of this. Nobody has a crystal ball.”
#256: Coach Sando on Rider Fitness for Performance and Safety – April 27, 2020
Special Guest: Tony Sandoval
“What we’re trying to do is build the most athletic, healthy, and injury-free rider as possible,” said Tony Sandoval (aka Coach Sando).
“When you are riding in pain - and because you love what you do - your body is going to try to mask pain. It’s going to desensitize the transmitters that are telling the brain there is something wrong with this joint for the sake of riding. The problem with that is, the only pathway to the brain is not going to allow you to learn a different skill or improve a skill when it’s trying to manage pain. Instead, it’s going to compensate.”
Bonus Episode: Bruce Davidson Hall of Fame Special – May 4, 2020
Special guest: Bruce Davidson Sr.
“I always wanted to ride, and my mother’s family grew up before automobiles, so everyone had horses to some extent. But, I as a child was very much taken by them, and I started riding when I was 4 years old,” said Bruce Davidson Sr.
“I just wanted to learn how to ride, I didn’t care what type of riding it was, I just wanted to learn how to become the best rider I could.”
#257: Top Tips from Top Grooms – May 11, 2020
Special guests: Emma Ford and Alex Van Tuyll
“You need to do what your horse does in an everyday training session - not just galloping. It goes back to the general horse care of being at home - is your horse a horse that sticks its head out looking at what’s going on? Or is it a horse that stands in the back of the stable resting quietly. When you get to a show, you can see if what he’s doing is normal,” said Alex Van Tuyll. “I always run my hands down their front legs, without fail, when I feed them in the morning.”
#258: Getting Back to Business – May 25, 2020
Special Guest: David O’Connor
“You really can’t get closer than six feet from rider to rider but it’s the people on the ground – the officials and volunteers - that we have to be super careful about,” said Max Corcoran. “They are going to have to wear masks,” Rob Burk added onto what people on the ground will be asked to do during competition.
“First and foremost, the reason behind this is to protect our riders, competitors, volunteers, and officials. But, even beyond that, we also don’t want to get these competitions shut down. We don’t want departments of health and local jurisdictions to come out and say, ‘This is too high risk, you can’t run,’ because then everybody has lost. It’s a small thing but we can do it,” said Burk.
#259: Sinead Maynard's Recipe for a Successful Return to Competition – June 5, 2020
Special guest: Sinead Halpin Maynard
“I think you have to look at the level you want to be back competing and look at the level you were competing and make your fitness plans from there – and recognize that it’s kind of like starting at the beginning of the season.”
“My horses, if they’ve been competing above the Preliminary level, they will be dropping down to Preliminary for their first run back. More so to see how they are feeling and get a read on their fitness level.”
“There are no spring three-day events left and the fall three-day events are months away, so there’s no rush. Dropping down a level or even two just to go out and get comfortable is only going to be good practice.”
Bonus Episode: EquiRatings Eventing Podcast 'The Hold Box Fitness Special' – June 8, 2020
Special Guests: Spike "The Vet" Milligan and Sam Watson
“You end up walking a tight rope,” Milligan said on having a very fit event horse or one that might be overfit, or fatigued, or overtrained.
In horses, Watson explained, “I want to condition (that’s the work and stress element) and manage (the rest element) the heart and lungs, and the body and mind.”
“There’s two different types of respiration: aerobic respiration, which is using oxygen like breathing, and anaerobic respiration, which is not using oxygen but using the energy stored in the horse,” said Milligan.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.