Showcasing Young Talent: Haley Webster

By Zazou Hoffman and Jackie McFarland

Haley Webster
Riding as a fourteen-year-old this year, Haley is one of the west coast’s aspiring stars. She trains with Patty Ball in Northern California most of the year and is certainly a self-starter. Haley even has her own web site and sponsors. Similar to Zazou’s experience as a junior, Haley is working hard to earn every winning experience – from working student opportunities to clinics as well as in the show ring. Haley went to WEF this past winter to ride with Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run Farm. Zazou, who spent many a winter in Wellington with North Run, interviewed her about the experience.

ZH: Tell us a little about your junior career.
I am lucky that I have two horses to show, one is leased and the other was my mom’s (now mine). They both compete in the big equitation, so it’s nice because they never have too many classes. I have always done the medals and I will continue pursuing medal final goals plus start doing jumper classes.

ZH: What were your impressions of WEF? What are the big differences between showing in California and Florida?
HW: WEF was absolutely amazing! The show grounds are beautiful. It’s hard to describe in words how impressed I was… The competition in Florida is definitely tough. Everyone is starting out his or her qualifying year, so a winning round in the equitation would likely be a score in the 90’s.

ZH: How did you manage school and showing?
I actually started home schooling last year to allow more time for riding and shows. My parents and I love this program offered by our school district at home, Visions in Education. The teacher comes twice a month and is available by phone any time we need her. The online resources are wonderful as well. This flexibility has been a very positive experience for me so far.

I brought my schoolwork with me and since I wanted to focus on riding for the two weeks I was at WEF, I finished most of my homework on the plane!

ZH: So how did you end up working with Missy and John?
Through winning the RW Mutch Scholarship in 2009 I had the chance to ride with Karen Healey for two weeks, a great learning experience. I was looking for a chance to ride on the east coast, so Carol Coleman from the RW Mutch Foundation helped me get in touch with Missy. Working with Missy and John was an amazing opportunity. I learned so much, was given a chance to ride some of their horses and truly gained a lot from their knowledge.

ZH: What did you show in? What were the highlights?
I competed in the USEF, USET, WIHS Medal, and the ASPCA Maclay on a new horse of Missy’s, Conan. Very sweet, fun to ride – a really nice horse – the more I rode him the better we were as a team. I also showed a green horse in the children’s hunters both weeks.

ZH: Do you have a strategy for this year? What horse/horses are you working with?
This year my plan includes qualifying for all the medals and to get some good jumper miles. I am currently leasing Gobi, who can do the medals and the jumpers. My mom’s horse Moose turned out to be my horse. Last year I showed him in the junior hunters, medals and the equitation division. This year I am just showing him in the big medals. My first horse Belle, a great 3’ hunter and equitation horse, is currently for sale.

ZH: What advice do you have for other equitation riders who show on a budget?
Be a hard worker. Do everything you can to learn more. We are doing everything we can to make it through the show season on a budget. I do my own grooming, my mom braids, and my grandfather drives the horse trailer. Having a supportive family like mine plays a big role in making it all work.

Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your life. We wish you all the best in your aspirations, Haley.

A bit on Zazou:
In 2005 Zazou won the Ronnie Mutch Working Student Scholarship, which led to an association with respected East Coast trainers Missy Clark and John Brennan. Through a lot of hard work, commuting, juggling school and victories as well as defeats, Zazou culminated her junior career in 2009 by winning the prestigious ASPCA Medal Maclay Finals at the National Horse Show in Syracuse, New York.

In both 2007 and 2010 Zazou was one of ten elite riders chosen to ride in the Mastership Sessions with Olympic Chef d’Equipe George Morris in Wellington, Florida. She is back in her hometown of Santa Monica, California where she has turn

EquestriSol News: November 17, 2009

Congratulations to…

Laura Teodori and Kasoar D’Uxelles on their success in the CSIO Nations Cup in Buenos Aires – they were the only double clear! Laura is now working on the east coast. We wish her the best.

$1,000 Thoroughbred Hunter Champions Classic this weekend

As a kickoff for the Thoroughbred Show Horse Association, which will take membership paid to offer prize money for classes throughout the year, the Autumn Jubilee Show at Industry Hills Equestrian Center on November 21-22 will host a $1,000 Thoroughbred Hunter Champions Classic. Call Duncan McIntosh for more information or to join at 818-943-7102.

Clinics Coming to Town

Before Santa comes you can give yourself an early Christmas present by participating in and/or auditing at some upcoming clinics. Names synonymous with the world’s best in the sport – Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Joe Fargis and George Morris – will be in sunny California hosting clinics at three beautiful locations. Clinic sessions are filling fast but auditing is the next best thing to riding…

November 20-22: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum at El Campeon Farms
Contact Kasey Ament: 805-794-6107

December 2-3: Joe Fargis at Menlo Circus Club
Contact Nathan Stiles: 209-765-7755

December 11-13: George Morris at Shelburne Farms – clinic space is full.
Auditing available at $75 p/day. No auditing reservations needed.
Contact Melissa Jones: 805-370-1941

Save The Date! December 10th – 7-10 pm: Anthropologie Holiday Shopping Soiree to Benefit the Equestrian Aid Foundation

Enjoy fabulous hors d’oeuvres and Stephen Vincent sauvignon blanc while shopping and benefitting a great cause. All attendees receive a 15% discount. Click here for details.

2010 Horse Mastership

Already looking forward to 2010, riders invited to participate in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session January 5-9, 2010 in Wellington, Florida were just announced. Invited west coast riders include Zazou Hoffman, Tina Dilandri and Theodore Boris. If you happen to be in Wellington in January, auditing the training session is free.

USHJA’S Emerging Athletes Program Level 3 is coming

The inaugural EAP National Training Session is also coming in 2010. On January 8-10, 2010 the top 12 finalists will spend three days on their riding, horsemanship and stable management skills. The 12 riders selected to participate will be announced at the end of November. Auditors are welcome at $75 per day.

Host Facility: Maplewood Stables
Location: Reno, Nevada
Main Clinician: Peter Wylde
Veterinarian Seminar/Asst Stable Mgr: Dr. Midge Leitch
Horsemanship Seminar: Mindy Bower
Course Designer: Chrystine Tauber
Judge: Melanie Smith Taylor
Host Hotel: Peppermill Resort

EAP Level 2 clinician Bernie Traurig had some encouraging words to share. “I was extremely impressed with the level of riding. There were eighteen kids there, some who showed a high level of talent. I think that directly reflects on the quality of our west coast trainers. They are doing their job– these kids are getting a high level of training.”

For more EAP information, visit:

E-news Announcement

Our last e-news had tremendous response – thank you! Unfortunately, the email list server went down for several hours so for anyone that got an error when trying to view it, here is the enews link again


EquestriSol News: November 2, 2009


Let’s start by congratulating some of our West Coast riders shining bright on the East Coast. Hats off to Zazou Hoffman (riding Ivy, Missy Clark/Meredith Bullock, trainers) – Winner of the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships. Fourth in this prestigious medal final held at the National Horse Show in Syracuse, NY went to Samantha Harrison (riding Triple Lutz, Karen Healey, trainer) and sixth to Lucy Davis (riding Patrick, Archie Cox, trainer).

At the Washington International Horse Show, Samantha Harrison and Santika dominated the jumper arena, winning the $10,000 Senator’s Cup Junior Jumper Stake and earning Reserve Champion in the division. More WIHS Reserve Champions hailed from the West Coast, Small Affair (Iwasaki & Reilly) ridden by John French earned the reserve tri-color in the 1st Year Green Hunter Division. Costar (Alexandra Zell) ridden by Shelley Campf did the same in the Green Conformation Division. And Sanmorino (Ann Lindwall) with Jack Hammond aboard was Reserve Champion in the Second Year Green Hunter Division.

Zone 10 did it again at Harrisburg, winning gold in the USEF Junior Jumper Prix de States. Lucy Davis rode True Love in the jump off to secure the team victory. Other team members included Saer Coulter/Chalan, Paris Sellon/Troyes, Karl Cook/Notories Utopia. Chef d’Equipe extraordinaire was once again Butch Thomas. John French and Small Affair (Iwasaki & Reilly) were Reserve in the First Year Working Hunter Division.

In the hunter divisions at Capital Challenge, Rumba (Mountain Home Stables, former owner) and John French were Grand Champions when they topped the Second Years and On Top (Laurel Ridge Sport Horses) with Keri Kampsen aboard earned Reserve in the Regular Working.  

Links Not to be Missed

Noteworthy clicks worth considering:

Blenheim Farms Video

The story and scenes from Blenheim Farms with RJ Brandes, Richard Spooner and George Morris.

Equine Industry Survey, presented by the American Horse Publications

“The AHP’s member publications, web sites, and newsletters reach nearly 3 million people involved in the horse industry in the United States and around the world,” said Kimberly S. Brown, current AHP president. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to use our collective resources and reach into the horse industry to get answers about how we are doing today, how we think we’ll be doing in the near future, and what we are concerned about in our industry.”

Clinics Coming to Town
Before Santa comes you can give yourself an early Christmas present by participating in and/or auditing at two upcoming clinics. Names synonymous with the world’s best in the sport: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and George Morris will both be in SoCal hosting clinics at two beautiful locations.

November 20-22:
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum at El Campeon Farms – more info
Contact: Kasey Ament – 805-794-6107

December 11-13:

George Morris at Shelburne Farms
Contact: Melissa Jones – 805-370-1941

Conversations With Equestrians: Zazou Hoffman

My View on Zazou
By Erna Adelson

Most of you already know Zazou Hoffman as the young rider who competes bi-coastally, both near her hometown in Santa Monica, CA and on the east coast circuit with Missy Clark. Her bio also reveals that among other notable accomplishments, Hoffman was one of seven elite riders chosen to work with Olympic Chef d’Equipe George Morris in Wellington, FL and has competed in the Medal Finals for the past three years. Additionally, she took first at Maclay Regional, 5th in “the Medal” at Harrisburg, 5th in the USET Talent Search East at Gladstone, 3rd in the WCE, and recently 3rd in the Maclay Finals.

Throughout her eventful career, Hoffman has also managed to find a way to make the sport accessible to all enthusiasts by regularly writing about her experiences. Her columns, found in CA Riding Magazine and in this newsletter, offer counsel and insight that resonates with all riders and provides a window to the inside of the most coveted places in the industry. As a writer, a rider, and a bi-coastal traveler myself, I was thrilled at the opportunity to interview Zazou Hoffman. Since our schedules and locations would never allow us to do this in person, of course, I did the next best thing to meeting her: I “friended” her on Facebook. This way, I gained insight into Zazou not just as a rider but as one of the most driven and busiest teenagers that I have ever (almost) met. Read on for Zazou’s revelations about keeping up with schoolwork, her remote social life, and even Tyra Banks.

ERNA: When did you know that much of your future budget and time would be dedicated mostly to competitive horseback riding? Did you ever question whether or not it was worth such an investment?
ZAZOU: Riding has been a part of my life since I was really little. I mean, I have pictures of me when I was three years old next to my mom’s horses and there has never been a doubt in my mind that horses would be a part of my life. Of course, when I was little, I had NO idea how much time and money had to be invested in the sport to get to the top. I can honestly say that I have never doubted that I wanted to put in all the time I possibly could to work at getting better, but money is something that is not really in my control. My family has been wonderful at helping me get to where I am, but there are times when it is very upsetting to see both my parents, and my brother making sacrifices that wouldn’t need to be made if I didn’t ride. We have all decided though that I am lucky enough to have found what I am passionate about at a young age, and we will all work hard to make it happen.

ERNA: Besides the time change, how did you have to adjust to riding and training primarily on the east coast? Are there any major differences between east and west coast venues?
ZAZOU: Well, the time change can actually be a pretty big part of it! But, in terms of the actual horseback riding, it’s about getting in the ring and getting the job done no matter where you are. I have had the incredible opportunity to be working with Missy Clark and John Brennan back east, and I learn something new every single day, but a lot of what I am learning is simply an extension of what I have learned from Meredith Bullock, who trains me in California. Some of the horses I am riding on the east coast are definitely nicer than some of the ones I have ridden at home, but nothing is “push-button” and it’s all just about riding. In terms of the venues, I have found that everything back east is just bigger; there are more horses, more people, and more horse shows.

ERNA: Could you elaborate on how you ended up riding with Missy Clark?
ZAZOU: I received the Ronnie Mutch Working Student Scholarship in 2005, which allowed me to travel to WEF to ride with Missy Clark for two weeks. Missy and I developed a great relationship and she invited me to continue riding with her as a working student. It all kind of took off from there!

ERNA: Could you also tell us a bit about your decision to continue riding with Missy as far away as Vermont rather than a similar caliber west coast trainer?
ZAZOU: There were a lot of things that factored into this decision. Basically though, Missy’s barn is fabulous. Missy and John and I immediately got along, the staff there works harder than any I’ve seen, the horses are amazing, and I simply saw an opportunity that I didn’t think I could turn down. I was really just coming off the ponies, and the offer of a working student position at North Run seemed irresistible. I had had lots of riding opportunities in California, but nothing that could compare to this. I think that if you want to be really competitive you need nation-wide exposure and you need to be learning from the best people you can put yourself in contact with. Learning from as many of the good people as possible helps a rider to understand what works for them and what doesn’t, as well as what they would like to take with them into their professional career.

ERNA: Do you now consider yourself an east coast rider or representing both the west and the east coasts?
ZAZOU: I consider myself as a rider that represents both coasts. I still have a fantastic trainer in California (Meredith Bullock), and while I may not go to as many horse shows with her, this is only because I do not regularly show a horse that I own. And then I have great trainers on the east coast with North Run. I consider my self bicoastal because I try to compete and continue learning in any state and at any horse show where I find myself.

ERNA: Besides riding, you also write a couple of regular columns. How did that part of your career materialize? Since writing seems to be another passion of yours, do you have any aspirations as a writer?
ZAZOU: My writing kind of evolved on its own. I really just started by doing a couple of small things for California Riding and branched off from there. This sport has given me a lot in my life and I figure all I can do is keep trying to give back in some ways. I think interviewing the great people in the sport is educational for me, and having it published gets it out there so others can learn as well. I have also gotten to the point in my riding where I have had the opportunity to experience a lot of new and different things that I think are important to share with others. I haven’t really thought much about my future in writing, but like I said I would really like to continue giving back to this sport in as many ways as I can.

ERNA: The question everyone probably asks you right now: Have you thought at all about which college/university you might attend? Besides a stellar riding program and possible scholarship money, what other factors are going into such a pivotal decision?
ZAZOU: Luckily, I am only a junior in high school, so I haven’t had to do my college apps yet, but I’m dreading the day. I’ve thought about college a little though, and my main priority is getting the best education I can. I would like to keep riding in college, but I’m not set on riding for a college team unless I think it’s going to help me get into a school I want to go to. From the little bit of research I’ve done, the school I would love to go to (but I think is a long shot to get into) would be Brown. Both my parents went to Berkeley, so that is also a school I have thought about. The whole admission process seems to be so complicated and so random that I think it is important to keep an open mind about what school I want to go to.

ERNA: High School is a notoriously tough time for teenagers. How do you deal with the frustrations of highly competitive riding–less than perfect outings, travel, and the added workload in addition to the pressures of teenagerhood (if there are any)?
ZAZOU: Oh boy, it can all get really stressful. I actually just started taking all of my classes online this year, and that has really helped. I am taking four Advanced Placement classes and one honors class through four different online programs. My parents and I agreed that the only way I would do online classes is if we felt that my education would in no way be compromised, so after a lot of research I found that UC Davis, UC Irvine, Stanford, and APEX had programs that I could rely on. Having the opportunity to take my classes online has been extremely helpful in making things less stressful. This has allowed me to stay back east all fall, which removed the added stress of traveling back and forth from CA to the east coast for each horse show. My friends at home are great though, and they are always there to be supportive. There is a great dynamic among the kids at North Run (Missy Clark’s barn) and, of course, my friends in California are always happy to see me when I am home. It is very comforting to have people around you who can help if you need anything.

ERNA: What is currently on your iTunes Playlist?
ZAZOU: I listen to anything and everything! I actually like just about every type of music so my iTunes playlist is all over the place. I always have it on shuffle to keep things interesting. That way I can get my fix of rock, hip hop, country, rap, and a little bit of everything else there is. I’ve got some of the Beatles, some Red Hot Chili Peppers, a little JT, some Taylor Swift…. the list goes on. I actually just saw the movie Slumdog Millionaire (which was fantastic and I recommend it to everybody) so I am currently a bit obsessed with the soundtrack, which was also amazing.

ERNA: I have gotten to know you a little better through some thorough facebook stalking. (Forgive me) It seems that you have somehow managed to balance your career and maintain a social life. Is there anything you ever feel like you are missing out on due to the demands of your competition and training schedule? (Prom, travel, etc)
ZAZOU: There are always social sacrifices that I have to make for my riding, and while I may have been a little bummed at the time, I have never felt that I have regretted any of them. Facebook has actually been a great way to stay in touch with my west coast friends when I’m back east and my east coast friends when I am home. It has definitely helped me keep a healthy social life, and like I said before I have a group of good friends who are really fun to hang out with. In terms of missing out on things, I’m hoping I will be home for Prom (at least my senior year). I have to say, some of my friends are going to Vienna, Budapest, and Munich for a choir trip, and I’d being lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous, but then again, I probably get to travel more than any of them.

ERNA: I did also see that you listed America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) as one of your favorite shows. Hate to admit it, but I’m also sort of addicted…OK. Tyra Banks: Insane or a genius?
ZAZOU: Oh, ANTM has definitely consumed a large amount of my life for the past couple years! In my opinion, Tyra Banks is completely out of her mind, but the catch is, that her craziness is what makes her such a genius! It’s a great show–very addictive.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Erna. Your questions were great, and I had a lot of fun answering them. I’m sure we will keep in touch through Facebook!

ERNA: Undoubtedly when I hear about Zazou Hoffman’s next triumph in the show ring, I won’t be the only person to offer my congratulations in the form of a facebook memo. But if I’m not mistaken, Zazou is a girl that collects wall posts like ribbons and cherishes them just as much.
About Erna L. Adelson
A bi-coastal writer and rider, Erna’s exposure to horses started at age 7, spending her summers at Road’s End Farm in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. In her junior year in high school, Erna achieved her first byline in the Montclair Times, the large local weekly paper of Montclair, NJ, and worked as a staff writer throughout her senior year in high school. Erna studied writing and sociology at UCSB and continued to ride as a working student With Rebecca Atwater at Santa Barbara Stables and at Creek Hollow Ranch in San Diego. She joined the staff at SB Fitness Magazine and also became a regular contributor to California Riding Magazine.

Erna’s work at Equestrisol has allowed her to combine her passions of writing, public relations, and horses and to retain her ties to the west coast. She now resides in New York City in a marketing position at Manhattan Saddlery, the successor to Miller’s Harness Company, and the sole destination for the equestrian community of the Big Apple. 

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.

Can You Ride In The Rain?

By Zazou Hoffman

Bad weather is not fun… or is it? Can we make it fun? Playing in the mud was fun when we were kids, splish-splosh, splish-splosh. So if we can learn to ride in all kinds of weather we can not only potentially have fun but can also have the upper hand in a competitive situation.

During Week I of HITS Thermal, we were deluged with rain on Sunday. Many exhibitors scratched, but after watching a couple of hunter rounds I thought that the footing was still good and that as long as the trainer and the owner of the horse I was riding gave the okay, it was a go. Here in California there are so few opportunities to show in the rain and wind, it’s important to get the experience whenever you can.

George Morris told us in the Horsemastership Sessions to “practice what’s not comfortable in order to get better at it.” On the East Coast riders often have to ride under sloppy, cold conditions. I have benefited from showing on the East Coast where “the show goes on” unless there is a dangerous electrical storm (see final paragraph for more about lightning). Every rider’s tack trunk is stocked with raingear and the barn manager and staff all assume that getting drenched and covered with mud is a job requirement. They think it’s fun. My barnmates at Missy Clark’s North Run actually giggled when I told them I had never heard of Helly pants, (in case you don’t know either, they are water proof pants with zippers on the sides) which they put over their show breeches. Just zip them off before you go in the ring.

So, it is to a certain degree a mindset. You CAN ride in the rain – the horse does not mind. So why do I, the rider, want to get all wet and dirty? Because after working all year to qualify for a Medal Final which takes place on the East Coast in the Fall where you can be 99% sure that it WILL rain you do not want to let bad weather psyche you out of putting in a great round. But, you might ask, “Since they are called Indoor Medal Finals, why would I get wet?” Yes, they are Indoors but the layover farms and warm-up rings where you prepare are outdoors. You never know what weather you might encounter on the East Coast in the fall.

Try this mantra: “I love the rain, I can ride in the wind, and getting muddy is fun. Most importantly my horse doesn’t mind.”

This is the best reason to practice whenever there is rain and wind at home. I try to expose my young mare to puddles on the ground and muddy footing so that she will become desensitized to these things. Nothing is worse than getting to a show and having your horse turn into a clean-freak white-gloved party princess. Try to visualize your worst nightmare, the Junior Hunter Under Saddle Hack with twenty run-away horses in a windstorm or in pouring rain and sloppy footing. If you know your horse can behave under these circumstances, you will remain confident and your horse will feel it, too.

This confidence comes from all the training at home. Earplugs can definitely help your horse to focus at a show, but you should practice riding without them at home. Save them for situations where you really need them.

Okay, mantra said, you had your fun in the mud. Now you are back at the hotel after showing in the rain. Your boots and breeches are sopping wet and covered in mud. Your hunt coat smells like a wet sheep dog and you have to show tomorrow.

A few things you can do:

• Hang up the wet huntcoat, spot clean it and place it in a warm but not too hot area. You don’t want it to shrink.

• After getting the mud off of your boots, rub some lotion on the inside of your boots to prevent them from drying into stiff cardboard.

• Next, crinkle some tissue paper and shove it into the foot. The boots can regain their shape, yet breathe and dry. Put boot trees or rolled magazines into the leg area.

• If you have mud-stained white breeches you can rub toothpaste on the dirty spots and take them into the shower with you. I found that if you throw them in a laundry basket with globs of mud, the mud stains the fabric and the breeches are ruined.

A bit on lightning – remember that lightning is electricity. If you are on your horse get back to the barn as quickly as possible. If you have returned the horse to a stall that has pull-down or shutter windows, do not close them. This is because those shutters are often made of metal and even touching them in an electrical storm could get you electrocuted, particularly if the roof of the barn is metal. Just leave them open and get yourself to the center aisle. Regardless of how it strikes, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the electrical and plumbing fixtures. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Final note: Lightning storm – head inside. Rain falls – as long as the footing is safe, have fun in the mud! Wind blows – if the jumps are blowing down, call it a day. If you can see, go with the flow. Remember your mantra and those words from George…

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.


Conversations With Equestrians: Aurora Griffin and Mark Watring

By Zazou Hoffman

After watching her fellow Californian Aurora Griffin move to 1.50m and win Individual Bronze at Young Riders, Team Gold, Double Gold at Harrisburg, in addition to the William Steinkraus Style of Riding Award, Zazou decided it was an opportune time to ask Aurora and her trainer a few questions.

ZH: You made an exceptional debut at the North American Young Rider’s Competition last summer, earning the Individual Bronze medal. What went through your mind during the competition?
AG: Of course I put a lot of pressure on myself during Young Riders. I had prepared for months, and it all came down to those four days in Virginia. When I was leading after the first day, I just kept telling myself “It isn’t over yet” because there were so many rounds yet to do. I was a little nervous, but I knew I had a great horse in Tucker, and he was competing at the top of his game.

ZH: You’ve always been an inspiration to me since we did the FEI Children’s International Jumper Final at Hummingbird Nest Ranch. You have zoomed up the levels in record time,jumping higher and faster. What makes you so brave? Do your parents ever get nervous for you?
AG: I have always enjoyed doing things “high and fast.” I trust my horse and my trainer, and I know that both of them will keep me safe, and this allows me to take risks confidently. As for my parents getting nervous, Mark says my mom lifts up one of her legs over every fence when I show. She has been very supportive of my riding. In fact, the day I got my Bronze at Young Riders was her birthday. What a great day!

ZH: Mark you have not put Aurora in the hunters and the equitation. Is this the same approach you take with all of your students?
MW: Aurora has an equitation horse that we didn’t get to use much. His name is Milo, a few years back he came up with a mysterious lameness. He is fine now, but we never went back into the equitation ring. I think the equitation is super important in that it makes riders smooth and correct. It also teaches riders to make adjustments early.

ZH: You have first hand experience in the saddle at the Grand Prix level. Can you share a few thoughts about getting to that level?
MW: I have not had the luxury of multiple horses at the higher level. It is such an advantage to have a string of top horses. I have had great success with one, and that should inspire others that they, too, can achieve their goals with one great horse. This year I will start Thermal with three Grand Prix horses. Luckily, Aurora also has back-up mounts, so she doesn’t end up on the sidelines.

ZH: If you could each do it over, in terms of your own career, would you do anything differently?
MW: You can only learn from the path you have chosen, you rarely get another chance or do-over. So I always say: “Don’t circle.”

ZH: It looks like the Grand Prix competition might be on the horizon for you, Aurora. When do you think you will give it a try and where?
AG: I have a few horses that are capable of jumping Grand Prix height at this point, and I am planning to begin my Grand Prix career this year. I know it’s a tough game, but I have been working hard this winter, and I look forward to my debut at Thermal.

ZH: The Americans didn’t have a spectacular World Cup. Mark, you buy a lot of horses in Europe and have had a chance to study the training methods there. What, if anything, are we doing wrong in the United States?
MW: We aren’t doing anything wrong. We just hate to be cold. The Europeans spend 7 months out of every year stuck in small indoor rings and have learned to master that small space. On the other hand, after the first frost we Americans go to Florida or to the desert – we are fair-weather folk.

ZH: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Best of luck at Thermal!

Aurora’s comments on the George Morris Horsemastership Sessions
in January, 2008:

I experienced more growth in my riding that week spent training with George Morris than any other week of my career. With regards to horsemanship, I learned more than I had ever since the time I started riding.

The program was phenomenal, and although it was a lot of work, I came to realize that the best way to learn horsemastership is hands-on grooming, feeding, mucking, and cleaning.

Among the most profound things I heard that really summed up the lesson of the week was by Melanie Smith Taylor, “You, as a rider, have to know what you are sitting on when you enter the ring.” Melanie is a true horsewoman; she went on to say that you have to know every detail about your horse from his physical condition, to stall condition, to tack condition, to conformation, to shoeing, to diet.

When I spent the day with Beezie Madden, I found out that this held true for her as well.

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.

EquestriSol News: January 31, 2008

First we would like to congratulate Zazou Hoffman for her numerous victories Week I, including the USET and CPHA which qualify her for the RW Mutch Equitation Classic Week VII.

We are excited to unveil a brand new look for Martin McAllister Training, previously Jenni Martin Enterprises. More to come! We welcome Blue Ribbon Law offering fabulous legal services to our industry. Soon we’ll be releasing a newsletter for Shockwave Therapy, Dr. Jenny Johnson. See her coupon along with GeckoPad and and an incredible real estate offer from Carol Bird in this issue. As always, we applaud Joie Gatlin-Morley Abey Show Jumping, Inc.

And finally we are thrilled to announce a strategic alliance with Central Equine. We think they do a fabulous job marketing horses – with our joint package you can market a sale horse weekly with EquestriSol in print and e-news, have a comprehensive online listing with video and 1/3 pg ad in the Central Equine eBook. All for $300! Contact Tammy for this and other magnificent marketing opportunities: (818)472-5930

The Transition From Ponies To Horses And The Leap From 3′ to 3’6″

By Zazou Hoffman

The pony hunter ring allows the rider to get a real sense of what the judge is looking for in a hunter. Because the classes are smaller, broken into small, medium, and large pony divisions, the rider and the parents can watch every round; i.e. the whole division from beginning to end. So you can see what the judge rewards in the way of conformation and form over fences as well as in the under saddle classes. From watching and studying the same ponies over a two or three day period, you will learn various judges tastes (each day the judges rotate rings) and can begin to understand what wins. Often it seems that only the “name” ponies, which tend to be the most expensive ponies, are rewarded, but there are exceptions. And here’s the thing–there is camaraderie at the pony ring that gets lost in Children’s Hunters where the divisions have a ginormous number of entries. Your brain would turn to mush if you sat and watched every round, sometimes over a hundred. You never really get to see what the judge wants. Watch and learn at the pony ring as much as you can.

Don’t be too quick to move out of the pony ring, but if you are getting frustrated with competing against the top ponies, try some pony equitation classes and pony medals. Use the pony ring as a place to learn. Take notes on which ponies win consistently, try to watch videos of the best pony rounds from the indoor shows. On the East Coast many of the best pony riders are in their late teens. The Green Pony division is beginning to emerge on the West Coast and there is a real need for competent riders to help train the ponies that show exceptional talent.

Having the chance to show large pony hunters is an advantage in the transition to horses. Large pony hunters actually jump the same height, 3′, as Children’s Hunters (horses). It is more challenging for a pony than it is for a horse to jump that height, and also to cover the longer distances between fences. So pony riders who successfully pilot a large pony around generally feel comfortable with the height and make the transition to horses more readily. After jumping a 3′ course on a pony, you are ready for the next leap onto a horse.

When I rode ponies, I had a couple of difficult ones. They taught me to be a tenacious rider, which got me noticed by other trainers. I was lucky to be asked to catch-ride many wonderful and nationally known ponies. At the same time my mother had a green hunter horse, Andy Warhol, who was ready to move into the Children’s Hunters. We learned together. He was Small Junior Hunter size, so as I advanced, so did he. This is where we learned about another great transition division, the Modified Hunters. At 3’3″ it is an obvious transition height into the Small Juniors, which are 3’6″. One consideration is that there is no prize money because it is an unrated division and there are a ton of competitors. It’s a great practice division, but it’s meant as a transition to the 3’6″. When I moved into the Junior Hunters I can’t say it was seamless, but I did it. The Modified Division helped.

Once again the Junior Hunter Divisions are smaller, as in the ponies, and I took advantage of this by watching and getting a real feel for what the judge was looking for. Here in California, especially at Thermal, we have some of the finest hunters in the country competing. It is amazing to see such great athletes, with flawless conformation and movement, beautifully presented. They are like the most amazing Breyer horse models, but you can go up and touch them and ask the rider questions about their personality and what it’s like to ride them.

If you are already competing on a horse, Children’s, Modified or Junior, take the time to watch the 3’6″ hunters. Watching has taught me a lot over the years, not only about what the judge is looking for but also about the ride.

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.

EquestriSol News: January 25, 2008

Hello 2008!

Looking forward to a fabulous year. We are so happy to have Tammy Chipko, Zazou Hoffman and other special guests participate in the newsletter this season. We also welcome Lorri Quiett to our team as Account Executive.

WCAR welcomes Kathy Hobstetter to its team and while EquestriSol will still assist, Kathy will take over the management reins during the next few months. Super things are happening for WCAR from raffles to parties to European Tours, Rider Grants & Spruce Teams.

We will be launching a list of new logos, ad campaigns and web sites this winter so stay tuned. With a growing team that many of you will meet in the upcoming months, we are rarin’ to go!

If you are looking for fabulous marketing, contact us at our new toll-free number (877) 538-9508 or contact Tammy directly at (818) 472-5930.