For five-star level event rider Ariel Grald, fitness is all about being as inconspicuous on the horse as possible. Grald’s fitness routine realistically consists of sitting on roughly 10 horses throughout any given day, but the top-level athlete says that one of her key incorporated fitness elements has become pilates and stretching.
For Janice Holmes, volunteering is only one of the many hats she has donned over her life-long career in the equestrian industry. From a young age, she knew her purpose was in the equine industry. A rider from the age of 8, Holmes started her profession as a hunter trainer in the early part of her riding career but didn’t find the sport of eventing until a chance adventure with a friend when she was in her thirties.
Young rider Alexandra Baugh has had a stand-out year by anyone’s account. The 20-year-old athlete is not only competing horses at the two, three, and four-star levels, but she also earned herself the title of 2021 RevitaVet USEA Young Rider of the Year. Baugh is based out of Lexington, Kentucky with her four top mounts and was the runner-up of the same title the year prior, but her successes with this year’s team proved unbeatable. Her string includes Altorac Farm's 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding Mr Candyman (Canto x Mantara), her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding I Spye (Harlequin du Carel x Lambardos Corner), Altorac Farm's 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS Fernhill Finale (Verdi x MHS Ryans Daughter), and Altorac Farm's 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding Dogano de L’Oiseliere (Ogano Sitte x Joly Star).
In the sport of eventing, it is not often common to see a stallion present among the hustle and bustle typically characteristic of an event. Upon first sight, you might never realize that Isselhook’s First Sight TSF, also affectionately referred to as Goody, is a stallion based on his demeanor. The 7-year-old Trakehner stallion (Lossow x Fuenflinden) thinks he is just another one of the guys, according to rider Alex Green, who says she is constantly impressed with his demeanor. After putting in consistent performances during the 2021 season, Goody earned the title of the 2021 SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year.
Tamie Smith’s year has been nothing short of action-packed as she packed up all 25 of her competition horses and made her way to the East Coast for the first part of the year before hopping on a jet to Tokyo where she served as the U.S. team reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She then stayed overseas and competed abroad for a little while before returning home to the West Coast. While this year has been full of opportunities to show, her aspirations are bigger than just competition. The 2021 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year has been full steam ahead chasing goals in both her riding career as well as in her impact on the sport’s future.
Sidnee Milner and My Valentine did not become partners out of sheer coincidence. The pony and rider combination that took home the 2021 SmartPak USEA Pony of the Year award were a product of the thoughtfulness and generosity of family friend and trainer Tawn Edwards. Milner was, at the time, a young and inexperienced child rider looking for a partner to teach her the ropes of eventing; My Valentine was a well-seasoned eventing pony who knew the job of advancing young riders well and was looking for her next partner. Over their three-year relationship, the duo have accumulated various ribbons and accolades together with 2021 being the most impressive of their seasons thus far.
Everyone in eventing knows the name Phillip Dutton - but, have you heard of the little pony that could named Phillip Buttons?
As we get into the thick of the winter season, those riders who will be braving the colder temperatures throughout the season must modify their programs to keep themselves and their horses in shape. Riding is usually confined to indoor arenas or the occasional snowy outing and riders are forced to limit their training to smaller-scale exercises. For event riders, this time can be difficult as there is no access to long cross-country courses, but according to long-time eventing coach and USEA Instructors' Certification Program (ICP) Level IV certified instructor Phyllis Dawson, this time can actually be beneficial in going back to the basics. Below are a few of her top winter-weather training tips:
Eventing is a discipline well-known for being inclusive of many unique and unfamiliar breeds. While disciplines like dressage and show jumping tend to favor warmbloods, and various western disciplines feel the same with a quarter horse, event riders are famous for competing on horses of different breeds and varying ages. Since the discipline asks so many individual questions, it seems to be an area where there is no stigma on what horse you ride in on. One such horse is a nine-year-old Andalusian PRE gelding named Romeo. Romeo made his debut at the American Eventing Championships (AEC) in 2021 where he competed at the Training level and, while the event hosted a multitude of breeds, the gelding was a surprising sight for many.
Riding in the winter can be a bit of a perilous effort — cold temperatures, lack of turnout time, and confinement to smaller spaces all make for difficulties to navigate during this long, dark season. Luckily, USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Level III Certified Instructor Jennifer Rousseau has a handful of tactful tricks to keep both you and your partner engaged all winter long.
On the final day of competition for the Preliminary Rider division at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds, Sallie Johnson and her Irish Sport Horse gelding, Fernhill DiCaprio (Finnanloon Flight x Finnan Scarlet) were named the reserve champion combination after an intense three-day event period in which the pair managed to come in only 0.3 points behind the winner. In March of 2021, Johnson was making an impossible decision – whether or not it was in his best interest to put the gelding to sleep.