EquestriSol News: July 11, 2011

News from Canada and Europe…
As comfortable as it is to compete in California, illustrated by the solid numbers at the Blenheim June Series, there are groups of west coasters who head for some northern exposure, overseas excitement and even some ‘hot’ competition on the east coast.

Summer in Spruce
Spruce Meadows is a popular summer spot with a five week circuit chock-full of challenging classes for show jumpers. Even when the weather poses challenges, the amazing, immaculate facility, friendly, professional staff and fabulous prize money, always draws riders from around the world.

That of course includes some of the West Coast wonders. This year professionals Rich Fellers, Richard Spooner, Hap Hansen, Will & Nicole Simpson, Jennifer Crooks, Kirsten Coe and junior/amateur riders Karl Cook, Cayla Richards, Hannah Selleck, Sage Flynn, Mavis Spencer (now more east coast but with west coast roots) went north, just to name a few…

$31,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m – Richard Spooner and Pariska 2
Scott Riegert, Western Canadian Marketing Manager, Pepsico Canada presents the winner’s cheque to Richard Spooner. Photo Credit: Spruce Meadows Media Services

This group collected quite a few top prizes. No matter the division, bringing home ribbons from Spruce is an accomplishment. And if the collection includes red that color actually represent first in those parts. Congratulations to all, especially our clients Hap Hansen StablesSantana StablesJennifer Crooks & Stella Farm. Here are a few winning highlights:

At the National Mavis Spencer won the AON 1.35M aboard her own Valencia. Rich Fellers was dynamite on Dynamo winning the AKITA Drilling 1.35M. Karl Cook took home the red in the Gienow 1.40M Jr/Amateur Class. Richard Spooner scooped up the prize money in the $60,000 TrancCanada Parcours de Chasse 1.50M aboard Billy Bianca and was 4th on Lady Like. The next day he was 3rd and 4th respectively on Apache and Cristallo in the $175,000 Nexen Cup Derby 1.60M.

Will Simpson rode Black Cherry to the win in the Friends of the Meadow Barrage 1.40M. Richard and Cristallo earned 5th in the $125,000 CN Performance Grand Prix 1.60M.

During the Junior/Amateur week, Custis Ferguson coached the “Princess Plus 3” Team to the win in the Paramount Resources Prix des Nations III 1.30M. The winning team: Crown Princess – Alec Lawler, Abrakadabra – Alexa Anthony, Miss Magic – Taylor Marie Harris, Ulano 13 – Vani Khosla

Cayla Richards rode Faustino to the top spot in the Friends of the Meadows Junior/Amateur Grand-Prix 1.40M, Hannah Selleck was 2nd aboard Arturo Van De Helle and Sage Flynn rode Hot Pants to the 7th place. Sage was also 3rd in the Friends of the Meadows 1.40M Final Four. Cayla was second in the Birchcliff Energy Ltd. Jr/Am Barrage 1.40M.

Again Richard Spooner was in the money. He rode Ilan Ferder’s Wandor Van De Mispelaere to the win in the AKITA Drilling 1.35M, Oscany, Inc’s Lets Dance won the TRIMAC Cup 1.40M and Molly Ohstrom’s Caretol took home red in the Ashcor Techonologies 1.35M. He took the fifth spot in the $60,000 Great-West Life Cup on Apache and both the 2nd and 4th place ribbons aboard Quirino 3 and Pariska 2 in the $31,000 Cargill Cup 1.45M. And Cristallo was 4th in the $50,000 RBC Financial Cup. Great week Richard! And speaking of Rich, Fellers and Flexible won the $65,000 ESSO Challenge World Cup Qualifier.

On Saturday afternoon, the young but active riders advocacy group, NARG (North American Riders Group), held an open meeting at Spruce Meadows. With an overview from Murray Kessler, a passionate and honest perspective from Leopoldo Palicios, touching on issues that interest all those who are heavily involved in the sport, and a lively Q&A with participation from the attending Board Members, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Will Simpson, the meeting hosted information, education and interaction. The 50 in attendance were the first to hear about the new 2012 NARG Rider’s Grant Program – $15,000 to one recipient for competition in North America. See more about NARG here.

The final week of the Spruce Simmering Summer Circuit was a big one for west coast riders. Cayla Richards and Faustino were in the winner’s circle again in the Gienow Jr/Am Welcome 1.40M. Brazilian Eduardo Menezes, who is now based in California, won the Horse Health Care Cup 1.45M on Audi’s Reflection. Nicole Simpson on Monarch International’s Candle Light Van de Warande was a close second to young Caitlin Ziegler and Valencia in the AON Cup 1.50M. Amateur Gwendolyn Meyer ended on a high note winning the Canadian Utilities Amateur Barrage. Meyer’s Coral Reef Ranch owns the talented mare Via Volo who won the $35,000 D-Line Cup with Beezie Madden on board.

Both Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner had double whammy days – earning the #1 position in two classes each on the same day. For Rich it was Wednesday when he won the $31,000 Suncast Cup 1.45M Speed on McGuiness and the $35,000 ‘Reach for the Sun’ Sun Life Financial 1.60M on Flexible. On a fabulous Friday Richard took the $31,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45M on Pariska 2 and the $50,000 Lafarge Cup 1.50M on Apache.

$35,000 D-Line Cup – Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo
Gordon Wilson, President of D-Line, presents the trophy to Beezie Madden. Photo Credit: Spruce Meadows Media Services

US Riders Invade Europe
Five aspiring young riders represented the United States on the Show Jumping European Young Rider Tour. The eager group went to Europe for five weeks. We read and heard that the experience was not only successful but also educational, which is essential for up and coming International riders. Below is a brief summary but listen to Reed’s radio interview and read Catherine’s blog for more heartfelt details and some great photos.

Young Riders
• Reed Kessler, 16, Armonk, NY, and Onisha
• Catherine Pasmore, 19, Crozet, VA, and My Boy
• Jessica Springsteen, 19, Colt’s Neck, NJ, and Vornado van den Hoerdrik
• Richard Neal, 19, Pasadena, CA, and Transmission
• Karen Polle, 18, New York, NY, and What Ever

These horse/rider combinations competed at the following shows:
CSIOY Bonheiden (Belgium): May 19-22
Katie Prudent – Chef d’Equipe

Individually the riders fared well in Belgium. As a team they placed second in the Nations Cup. Not a bad start. In the Young Rider Grand Prix, USA placed in five of the top ten ribbons: Passmore 2nd, Springsteen 5th, Neal 8th and Kessler 9th.

CSIOY Reims (France): May 26-29
Katie Prudent – Chef d’Equipe 

A tough Nations Cup course created rails and time faults for almost all who competed. Kessler had one of the few double clear rounds. In a nail biting finish, Springsteen anchored the team to a 2nd place finish. The YR Grand Prix also proved challenging with Passmore just missing a chance to return and Kessler returning with her 8 fault score (they bring back the top 25% pf the class for the jump off). Kessler rode aggressively and even with her 8 faults from Round One, she moved up from 8th to 4th place.

With a week off the Team had two days of dressage lessons from Hungarian Barnabas Mandi, met with a sports psychologist and then went to St. Gallens to watch the top guns battle it out at the Nations Cup.

CSIOY Lamprechtshausen (Austria): June 9-12
Michelle Grubb – Chef d’Equipe 

As the picture illustrates, the Team won the Nations Cup in Austria and placed in four of the top ten spots in the YR Grand Prix. Kessler took the top spot, jumping the only clear round in the jump-off for the win. With the fastest jump-off by more than five seconds but with four faults, Springsteen settled for second.

CSIOY Hagen (Germany): June 16-19
Michelle Grubb – Chef d’Equipe 

Touted as the toughest competition on the tour, Team USA had to battle it out with the best of the best in Europe, among them were the teams that had beaten them in previous weeks. They rode well and ended up tied for third, right behind those top teams from The Netherlands and Great Britain. The weather was wet on the YR Grand Prix day, but Californian Ricky Neal pulled through and WON the 48 entry class with the fastest double clear rounds of the day!

After the tour the riders went their separate ways as tougher competitors, with more education packed into five weeks of their life than they could’ve imagined as well as some great ribbons and memories. Look for these names on future teams and in major competitions in years to come.


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 NARG.org: 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 USEF.org). 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 NARG.org. Several in depth articles and a statement from President Chris Kappler are also on PhelpsSports.com.

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