Devon Journal

By Olivia Esse

Memories of Devon
I was excited to go to Devon this year, my first time back since 2007. I had shown the ponies there quite a few times, and I have such fond memories from those years. I will never forget how excited I was when my first year at Devon, 2003, I moved to the top of the Small Pony Stake Class on Budweiser. My trainer was crying tears of joy. We had to jog that class on the path next to the ring because the ring was too muddy. I remember the pony hunt teams, riding around in tandem to the American Idol theme song. I remember riding the ferris wheel with my very scared trainer, and winning stuffed prizes at the carnival games that are still in my room. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair has always been a fun tradition, and I knew this year would be no different.

When we arrived the weather forecast included highs in the 90s with a chance of thunderstorms. Seemed pretty paradoxical to me, as I was used to cold and rainy weather at Devon. Thankfully it never stormed, but it was hot and humid all weekend, which was quite draining (especially in the flat phase of the Maclay). But I enjoyed the sun – it felt like summer. The “Devon blue” stands matched the pale blue sky, the lines for homemade ice cream were never short and the tea sandwiches were refreshing in the shade of the picnic tables. In the warm evenings the fair rides lit up, music was playing, and there were large crowds for the classes still going on.

Stepping in the ring, I felt part of a great tradition, a celebration of showmanship. This was, after all, Devon’s 115th year! There more than anywhere I feel that I am part of a show. I am not just competing in front of a judge, with my trainers and the other riders at the gate. There is a real audience, some horse people but some who came simply to enjoy the fair and to watch the show jumping, a fascinating and old-fashioned sport. The rails are lined with kids in face paint and families in full Devon gear, marveling at the beautiful horses going by. Although they occasionally spook a horse, I really appreciate how interested they are – their energy adds to the excitement. I want to perform for them whenever I am in the arena. I can’t remember the last time I walked into the ring at a big show to see the stands even halfway filled.

The Dixon Oval was a joy to ride in. It is nice and spacious, great for galloping around and hunting the fences, feeling my shadbelly tails flapping in the wind behind me. Between studying for AP exams and being sick, it had been a while since I had shown, so I was rusty and at times would over think my rides. My rounds weren’t my absolute best, but I earned some good prizes – a second, a couple thirds, a couple fifths – so I was quite content. Jogging was a bit of a drag in the muggy weather, but when I would get to the top of the ring and stand in line for my prize I often found myself looking toward the other end of the ring. The sign over top of the gate reads, “DEVON HORSE SHOW WHERE CHAMPIONS MEET.” Maybe it sounds a bit mushy, but the statement rings true – I do feel like a champion no matter what prize I win or don’t win at this horse show so steeped in tradition. To have the opportunity to compete there, against such great riders and in front of all those spectators, is something I’m not only proud of but I cherish.

The Chronicles of NARG

By Jackie McFarland

The North American Riders Group
Yet another organization has formed within our sport. And with good reason, as the sport of show jumping has grown to a level where some of the key players believe their concerns are not being addressed. Possibly because those voices were not unified, but just repeated groans and moans of the exhibitors across numerous horse shows, upset by a variety of issues. So along came NARG.

Show jumping as a recognized sport is not yet a century old and has evolved extensively through the years. When those involved in the sport realized it needed the support of governance, the American Horse Shows Association (now USEF) was formed as the US national governing body in 1917. When the national organizations of several countries, including the US, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy and Japan, joined to form an international governing body of equestrian sport, the International Federation of Equestrian Sports (Fédération Équestre Internationale or FEI) was founded in 1921. Now over 134 nations are represented by the FEI.

There are several definitions of government; here’s one simple version: the act or process of governing; specifically: authoritative direction or control.*

More about the missions of these organizations to come, but first we need to define another key player in the power of the sport – the horse show managements. Horse shows have a rich history as well; the Upperville Colt & Horse Show was founded in 1853 and the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair began in 1896, long before governing bodies. Those two traditional horse shows still run today, along with thousands more all over the country. Roughly 1,300 horse shows are recognized annually at various levels and several hundred horse show managements run these events.

Management is defined as: the person or persons who control or direct a business or other enterprise.**

Based on the fact that government and management control our sport and our horse shows, it is essential that those who actively participate in the sport also have a voice. Not to say that riders and trainers don’t sit on boards and committees, as many currently do. For example, David O’Connor, an Olympic Medalist in Eventing, is President of USEF. However NARG was formed to create a unified voice coming from the collective riders, owners and trainers that will speak directly to government and management.

In March 2009 the founders of NARG – McLain Ward, Chris Kappler, Norman Dello Joio, Jimmy Torano, Kent Farrington and Beezie Madden – hosted an evening in Wellington to share their vision “providing a united platform for riders, trainers and owners to voice their concerns and ensure the integrity of our sport.” Several hundred attended. Later that year they asked Murray Kessler to take on the role of Director. Kessler is an ideal fit, as he has worn the tie of a successful businessman, running a public company, UST, Inc. for a decade and then negotiated the sale of that company. He also dons the helmet of amateur horse show exhibitor and the baseball cap of horse show dad/husband with a wife and daughter who both compete successfully. Talented and driven, Kessler’s fifteen-year-old daughter Reed is beginning to compete and ribbon at the grand prix level. Kessler seeks to take the passion and exuberance of those involved with the fledgling organization and harness it into a productive voice at the levels of government and management. He will help NARG unify and represent the group that essentially makes the show jumping world turn – the owners, riders and trainers.

So the USEF, USHJA, FEI and top level show managements all seek to satisfy numerous missions and goals that are essential to our sport but can at times negatively affect the very people and horses they represent. NARG represents those people.

As simply stated at The mission of the North American Riders Group is to unite professional riders and trainers to use their collective strength to make show jumping in North America the best in the world.

When it comes to governance, the USEF has a large staff, Executive Board and numerous special committees working year round to continuously achieve the long list of goals. The mission of the USEF is quite extensive; an excerpt includes these statements: As the National Governing Body (NGB) of Equestrian Sport in the United States we will inspire, encourage interest in, and regulate equestrian competition by ensuring the safety and well-being of horses… ensure the enforcement of fair and equitable rules and procedures… and, endeavor to advance the level of horsemanship in the United States. (Full Mission Statement along with a list of 24 ways in which the USEF will accomplish their mission is on Also a player in the governance of our sport is the newest affiliate on the block, the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). Started just under six years ago, this organization has grown, developed programs and become quite influential in our niche.

NARG seeks to work with, and preferably not against, the governing bodies although at times it is challenging as the most recent FEI World Cup debacle illustrates. The FEI states: The primary mission of the FEI is to advance the orderly growth of equestrian sport worldwide by promoting, regulating and admin-istering humane and sportsmanlike international competition in the traditional equestrian disciplines. However as two USEF formal protests, an official NARG release, McLain Ward himself and several thousand equestrians around the world can attest, the actions of a few can negatively affect the overall missions and goals of government, management and high level competition. As we seek to play on a level playing field where no one has an unfair advantage, all parties need to be considered and heard, and unfortunately in this case the governing body overruled.

As those involved with the above incident try to get to the bottom of the issue and see that it not be repeated, it serves as further proof that fair sport is not to be placed in the hands of a few.

International competitions are the pinnacle of our sport and our riders have worked hard to earn their placings amongst the top European equestrians. The top 16 horse and rider combinations from the WEG qualifiers have been divided into three tours, with the first one beginning this week at the CSIO 5* in La Baule, France. We all look forward to a fabulous and fair Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this fall.

The opportunity to compete or even understand show jumping at the International level is created from the horse show world. The show managers provide the arena(s) where horses and riders learn, train, evolve and potentially win. Of the thousands of competitors who pay to play at these shows, only a small percentage has the chance and ability to make it to the 1.60m level. The horse show management serves that group as well as the short-stirrup, amateur hunter, equitation rider and the hosts of other divisions offered at a horse show. Suffice to say it’s complicated to run a horse show well, from following the rules of governance, to serving your clients (exhibitors, trainers, owners and sponsors) and most importantly heeding to the horses welfare.

That stated, there are issues with management. The horse show steward by definition is a licensed official tasked with the responsibility of interpreting and enforcing the rules of the organization that sanctions the horse show and submitting reports accordingly. However this individual is hired by the horse show management, hence writing up a negative report regarding the party who hired you may not be good for your reputation nor your job security. That issue as well as the proposal for horse shows to uphold certain standards to maintain their rating and mileage protection created some heated discussions at the USHJA and USEF Annual Meetings this past year. Various parties involved in government, management and now NARG are working on adapting these standards to work for all involved – from the exhibitor who pays the entry fees, trainer fees, hauler, braider, groom etc. to the manager who pays the governing body for the license, officials, course designers, ring crew, office staff, etc. to the USEF, USHJA and a slew of other organizations who collect fees and in turn support our sport at the local, regional and national levels.

It’s a long and arduous process to propose, argue for and stand behind change. The USEF, USHJA, NARG and show managers understand this and are committed to seeing the necessary changes for our sport to endure, evolve and nurture success.

Kessler explains, “I am most encouraged that horse show managers are starting to view us as a partner and not an adversary. We are gaining lots of momentum. We were by McLain’s side in Geneva, are evaluating shows and have persuaded several major horse shows to significantly upgrade footing. We are proposing a rule change to the FEI for on site appeals on hypersensitivity. Look for announcements on these in the near future!”

A West Coast NARG meeting is in the works; so stay tuned for more information. To find out more, go to Several in depth articles and a statement from President Chris Kappler are also on

Thank you to Murray Kessler for meeting with us about NARG.
* Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 11 May. 2010.
** The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. May. 2010

EquestriSol News: June 13, 2008

Congratulations to west coast junior riders Lucy Davis, Shelby Wakeman, and Laura Ware who took Devon by storm! In the younger small junior hunter section, Lucy and Clockwork earned a Reserve Champion. Shelby dominated the equitation with wins in the USET and the Maclay, plus received the highest score in all three sections of the USET. Laura and her large junior hunter Parker were Reserve Champions, winning the Handy Hunter Class and trotting in third in the Large Jr. Hunter Stake. Top score earners, they brought home the Third Fox Hill Memorial Trophy for the highest score of all junior hunters competing in their handy class at Devon. The trophy dates back to the 1940s! What a triumph in their last junior year, as Shelby and Laura head to college this fall.

And there’s more – JoAnn Postel and Nancy Turrill of Foxfield were honored at the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner held during Devon each year. JoAnn and Nancy were the first to receive this special induction for their contribution to the horse industry. The west coast is honored to have a family oriented facility as well-respected as Foxfield. Did you know that Meredith Michaels Beerbaum attended camp at Foxfield?

Creative Saddlery Goes Hollywood
Taking on new ventures, Nick Byassee is an associate producer for two new movies by Indie filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish (“Northfork” and “The Astronaut Farmer”). The first film “Manure” started production in May and the second “Stay Cool” will begin shooting in July. More movie news as we hear it…

Happy Summer
We’re planning a fabulous summer of newsletters and other marketing projects. Want to join in on the fun? Call Tammy Chipko at (818) 472-5930.

Conversations With Equestrians: Kevin Winkel

By Zazou Hoffman

Up and coming Grand Prix rider and trainer Kevin Winkel spent two years apprenticing with legendary Olympian Joe Fargis before embarking on his professional career. Kevin trains out of family-owned Maplewood Stables, located ten miles south of Reno, Nevada and got his start through his mother Julie Winkel.

I met Julie when I admired her unique and talented jumper stallion, Osilvis, at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Julie is a respected Horse Show Judge and serves on several Hunter Seat Equitation committees. Among the prestigious shows to which she has applied her judging skills is the Devon Horse Show (three times), the Hampton Classic (twice), the Capital Challenge (three times), Upperville (three times), Harrisburg, Palm Beach, and the Maclay Finals in New York.

I was curious about the impact that Joe Fargis had on Kevin’s career and training methods.

Zazou Hoffman: Kevin, please tell us how you came to work with Joe Fargis and a few of the more memorable things that you learned from him.
Kevin Winkel: I met Joe Fargis about ten years ago, when he began giving annual clinics at my mom’s stable. That was about three years before I started riding. In 2003, while my mom was back east at the Upperville Horse Show, Joe asked if I would be interested in working for him.

I’ve picked up a great many pointers from working for Joe that have helped me both on and off a horse. There was a lot to learn just by observing his attention to detail, whether it was applied to teaching, riding, or day-to-day life. Joe has accomplished so much, yet his philosophy is simple. Solid basics, common sense and good horsemanship prevail. There are no shortcuts, just doing a quality job day in and day out.

ZH: What advice do you have for an aspiring junior rider who wants to compete in the jumpers?
KW: My advice for an ambitious junior rider is:

Ride and jump a variety of different types of horses.

Think about the horse, and learn how to achieve what you want while working with instead of against your horse.

Have long and short-term goals, make the most out of each ride, and work hard at home. Watch the great riders in the ring, and in the schooling area.

ZH: Do you have any exercises that you use to improve a horse’s adjustability
KW: One exercise I like to do to improve adjustability and form is a simple trot in-canter out three-stride line continuing to a combination.

First, trot in over three raised cavalletti poles, spaced 4’ apart. Next, trot a crossrail set approx. 8’ from the cavalletti poles. After trotting the crossrail, canter straight away in 3 strides (approx. 42’), to a one stride (approx. 22’). It is simple to adjust this exercise for many different types of horses and their needs.

The cavalletti poles should get your horse’s hind end up underneath himself, the crossrail encourages straightness, and trotting magnifies your horse’s jump as well as the rider’s balance. After landing off of the crossrail, your horse needs to respond to your leg by going up into your hand. Having the distance already set up to the combination makes it easier.

With the combination, depending on your horse and its needs, you may set a vertical to vertical to back your horse up and keep its front end light, or an oxer to oxer to make your horse keep its hind end engaged. You can also change the distance of the three-stride to work on adjusting, whether you set it shorter to encourage your horse to collect, or move it out to get your horse to come off of your leg and go forward.

ZH: Is one of your goals to compete internationally and if so, what is your strategy to accomplish this from the West Coast?
KW: This year my main focus is to have a successful Spruce Meadows, as well as continuing to gain experience in the bigger Grand Prix. I want to spend the early part of the year gradually building my horses’ fitness. Our horses have had about two months off and there is no rush, I’d like my horses to peak at Spruce Meadows.
ZH: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to you and your mother this year.

Zazou Hoffman is a 16-year-old from Santa Monica, CA. As a 13-year-old, having only shown locally, she decided to apply for the Ronnie Mutch Working Student Scholarship. She won, which led to working with respected East Coast trainers Missy Clark and John Brennan. Through hard work and commitment, by Jan. ’07 Zazou was one of seven elite riders chosen to work with Olympic Chef d’Equipe George Morris in Wellington, FL. She has competed in the Medal Finals for the past three years. She counts her win at the Maclay Regional, her 4th in “the Medal” at Harrisburg, her 5th in the USET Talent Search East at Gladstone, and her 3rd in the WCE amongst her notable accomplishments.