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EquestriSol NEWS
  In This Issue
  >  Welcome to Spring
 in Del Mar
  >  EquestriSol News
  >  Sponsor Stories:
 Mary's Tack & Feed
  >  The Chronicles of NARG:
 The North American
 Riders Group
  >  A Day in the Life:
 Les Ann LeClaire
  >  Blenheim EquiSports
 June Shows
  >  On Target Training
 with Shawna Karrasch
  >  Ranch & Coast
 Photo Gallery

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Blenheim June 2010 Horse Shows

Clicker Training - Shawna Karrasch

Las Vegas National Horse Show

Spring Photos


Welcome to Spring in Del Mar

  This time last year we were singing the praises of the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup in Las Vegas, proud of the super competition and offering congratulations to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, McLain Ward and Rich Fellers.

  What a difference a year makes! This year we congratulate Meredith and Markus on their new daughter Brianne, now over 11 weeks old. We wish McLain could have a re-ride in this year’s World Cup. And we congratulate Rich (as well as Harry and Mollie Chapman) on his top twelve World Cup finish and his double grand prix victory at the Del Mar National earlier this month.

  The beautiful grass grand prix field at Showpark set the stage for two main events this week at the Ranch & Coast Tournament. On Friday afternoon, the hunters were the stars as they competed in the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby and on Saturday afternoon, the jumpers took the spotlight in the $50,000 Grand Prix of California presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed.

Hail to the Hunters
  In the open hunter divisions, tri-colors went to Truman (Mary Sweeney, owner) ridden by John French in the Green Conformation Hunters, and to Ashley Pryde’s Victory Road in the First Year Green Hunters also with John French in the irons. Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair dominated the Second Year Green Hunters again with John French aboard. Exupery (Stephen Borders, owner) with Keri Kampsen riding earned the Regular Working Hunter championship, and in the Regular Conformation John Bragg rode Cunningham (Mary Slouka, owner), to the championship.

  Thirty-eight horses hunted around the Derby course designed by Scott Starnes, which included three 4’ options and a diagonal line across the field with two verticals and two oxers. The early part of the line rode easy in five strides then continued to flow in four strides and finished with three strides. As always, the course took its toll on a few, a spooky cut-out wall leading into the combination at fence eight stopped a handful in their tracks and others had hard rubs or a rail in the diagonal line. But for the top twelve of the day, the scores were in the eighties and even nineties. Watching those rounds flow around the course was hunter poetry in motion.
[Read full Blenheim EquiSports press release with results]

  The post derby Tango Party at the San Diego Polo Club complete with Argentinean Asado, Tango demonstrations and fundraising fun was another fabulous affair. See our photo gallery for the social details. Cha cha cha!

Photo © CapturedMomentPhoto.com

Chef Leopoldo
  As Leopoldo Palacios explained to us last season, course designers are like chefs. They take all the ingredients including height, distance, scope, time allowed, the materials, positions of the jumps, shadows, terrain plus a dash of this or that – and analyze those who will be tasting this creation, the riders, to bake the perfect grand prix course. Ideally a varied group of horses and riders will return with a clean plate and jump off for a second round of Chef Leopoldo’s course creation.

  The afternoon event opened with a polo demonstration provided by four riders from the San Diego Polo Club. With a fabulous location just across the street from the Del Mar Horse Park, the polo season begins this month.

  Fifty-one horse and rider combinations went for the win in the $50,000 Grand Prix of California presented by Mary’s Tack and Feed on a cool Saturday afternoon. The early rider got the prize, as Canadian John Pearce galloped on the field third in the order and was the first to ride clean on his 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Chianto. Next clean in the first round was New Zealand rider Guy Thomas and 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Carino. Riding seventh in the class, Thomas navigated the course smoothly and accurately. A handful tried to master the course without success until two talented and gutsy young women, Lucy Davis on Old Oak Farm’s Nemo 119 and Ashlee Bond on Little Valley Farm’s GZS Cassir Z, went sixteenth and seventeenth in the order and clean.

  Of the thirty-four horses remaining, including Gold Medalist Will Simpson on Archie Bunker (Linda Smith, owner), Rich Fellers on the famous Flexible (Harry and Mollie Chapman, owners), Susie Hutchison aboard El Dorado 29’s Cantano, Joie Gatlin riding Camaron Hills Quick Dollar, and other well-known competitors, only the final entry in the ring went clean, S.F. Shakira and Michael Endicott. Happy to have him join the elusive four, the crowd burst into an exuberant cheer as he completed the course.
[Read full Blenheim EquiSports press release with results]

Photo © CapturedMomentPhoto.com

Media Mentions
  Blenheim’ is honored to have their own tab on PhelpsSports.com alongside all the show jumping news from around the world. If you’re not a member of Phelps, now is the time.

  Join Blenheim on Facebook and get connected with the latest updates, announcements and news. If you’re a tweeter follow Blenheim on Twitter.  A great place to follow the horse show scene, during Ranch & Coast we posted the details of the main events as they were happening.

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EquestriSol News

We Bring You La Baule
  As we cruise into summer there are some big events to set our sights on. We have some fabulous content coming in the newsletter that embraces the best from Blenheim, happenings at the Kentucky Horse Park, and stories from our US riders over in Europe.

  We wish we could be everywhere as we are passionate about bringing you the stories of the horses, the riders and the events that satisfy our competitive cravings. We will continue to try.

  The first leg of the European Tours has commenced, beginning last week with the CSIO5* in La Baule, France. McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Lauren Hough. Richard Spooner, Mario Deslauriers and Hilary Dobbs all competed.

About La Baule:
  Although the first show was held in 1931, it was not until 1960 that La Baule was granted "official show" status by the FEI. In 2002, La Baule joined the FEI Nations Cup Series. There were three key events the MEYDAN FEI Nations Cup (Friday, May 15th), The Derby Meeting of the Pays de La Loire (Saturday, May 16th) and the Grand Prix Longines of La Baule (Sunday, May 17th). The courses were designed by Frederic Cottier. The United States and France were the favorites in the Nations Cup and both went into the second round with a total of four penalties. Richard Spooner jumped two clean rounds on Cristallo, with his second clear putting the pressure on France. Mario Deslauriers and Urico were also clean, McLain Ward and Sapphire had 4 faults and Hilary Dobbs, fresh off finals from Harvard, scored 9 faults.

  After their first rider scored 4 faults the French continued to put in clean rounds. The final results came in with the French winning the Nations Cup by a rail, with the US second. A good beginning to the tour. It gets better...

  Before the Derby class, Beezie Madden rode Coral Reef Vio Volo to the top prize in the Prix Groupe Lucien Barriere / Diane­Desseigne, Table A with 69 entries in the class.

  Twenty 'couples' competed in the Derby. (When reading the French press, they referred to a horse and rider as a couple, which we found to be ever so true). A difficult test of hills and water and other Derby details, not one of the riders was able to go clean. Until Americans Richard Spooner and Pako. The couple made history that day as they were the only clear effort and the first Americans to win the coveted title!

  The icing on the French pastry for the Americans came on the final day. The stands were packed to watch the fifty couples compete in the Grand Prix. Thirteen went clean, including Mario Deslaurier on the 9-year-old Urico and McLain Ward on Sapphire. Deslauriers had the leading time, clean and fast in 36.95. Until Ward walked in. The pair galloped through the timers clear in 36.00 for the win. First and second place went to the US.

  Certainly an auspicious start to the European Tours. Sincere congratulations to all. And a big thank you to Sophie Durieux for the fabulous photos, as well to Sydney Masters-Durieux for delivering.

  Stay tuned, June is going to be a big month for newsletters and we are gearing up to keep the stories coming.

Photos © Sophie Durieux
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Sponsor Stories


Mary's Tack & Feed - A True EstablishmentMary's Tack & Feed
  Established on the corner of Via de Valle and El Camino Real, Mary's Tack & Feed is literally a cornerstone of equestrian history. At 12,000 square feet, this tack superstore in Del Mar is their largest but not their only location. For the Orange County set there's a satellite store in San Juan Capistrano at the Rancho Vista Equestrian Center. Those that are technically inclined can find the store online at MarysTack.com and get updates on Facebook.

  "We are constantly updating the web site, but the store has 40,000 items in inventory, so if you can’t find it online come on in!" commented Mary’s Tack & Feed General Manager Dale Blasius.

  Serving a wide variety of equestrian interests, Mary’s not only has a large inventory but is also very involved in the equestrian community including offering free seminars from bits to saddle fitting and more. Coming to Mary’s this Saturday, May 15th, is animal intuitive and artist Debra Saum. She is offering two free informative talks at 11am and 2pm on 'Horse as Teacher'.

  Throughout San Diego County and into Orange County, Mary’s reaches out to the equestrian community via sponsorships and donations as often as they can. Dale explained, "We like that groups feel comfortable contacting us. Occasionally a non-horse group has a need we can fill; recently we helped Make-A-Wish Foundation completely outfit a rider. We try to say yes to any legitimate group with a horse affiliation that approaches us."

Price and Product
  Mary’s carries top of the line products not necessarily at top prices. If a customer brings in a catalog with a product priced lower, Mary’s will do their best to match it.

  Knowing that more and more people are online researching products, Mary’s continuously updates their online offerings. With a large email list and Facebook following, Mary’s keeps its loyal customers informed about specials, new products and upcoming seminars. The next phase of the MarysTack.com website will have educational ‘how-to’ video clips, including how to take care of your leather tack, differences between bits and other subjects that their customers have asked for. Dale notes that in general a customer knows more about products due to the wealth of information available on the Internet. He offers a word of caution about buying online: No matter how good the price is, you want to make sure it’s supported by good customer service. In business since 1963, Mary’s is there to back up purchases made through their web site and their store.

  Since customer service is key at Mary’s, the staff is constantly kept up to date via ‘lunch and learn’ seminars given by vendors. Mary’s also does ‘product showdowns’ with their own staff competing about product knowledge. They individually study a product and present what they’ve learned to the staff on Saturday morning before the store opens.

Still Hiring
  In a world where jobs are hard to come by, Mary’s recently hired two cashiers and a full-time sales person. They list new job openings on the web, but also welcome job seekers to fill out applications in the store. Those applications are kept on file for 90 days and referred to when a job opens up. Each job offers a career path; current buyers and sales managers started off as cashiers. Mary’s is also proud of their alumni who have moved into other positions in the horse industry after working in the store.

  So look for a Mary’s representative coming down the barn aisle with cookies and coupons this week at the Showpark Ranch & Coast Tournament. Visit their booth at the show or for the big shopping spree take a short walk from the showgrounds to their superstore. Too busy? You can always visit MarysTack.com.

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The Chronicles of NARG


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

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A Day in the Life


Trainer and New Mother Les Ann LeClaire
  Since giving birth to her daughter Lydia Rose six months ago, hunter trainer Les Ann LeClaire’s life has changed dramatically. Now she balances daily life at her multi-location Rubicon Farms with motherhood, a juggling act that is hard to match. Luckily the father of her daughter, New Zealand horseman and chiropractor Dylan Harries, is also her business partner and the small family has made staying together at shows and at home a priority. With the help of a very special staff and one dedicated nanny, Les Ann marches through each day with the same sense of purpose and meticulous eye for detail that has helped her barn thrive.Dylan and Lydia Rose

EG: What time do you get up in the morning?
Well, Lydia doesn’t really sleep; she’s up every two hours. We’re trying to break the sleep pattern I set at Thermal, when I had to get more than two hours of sleep in a row if I was going to show in the morning. So we’re working on her sleep schedule, but we’re up between 5 and 7 every morning. After I get up I email, go for a run and walk the dogs. Then I get myself and Lydia ready for the day.

EG: Does Lydia go with you to the barn?
She goes with me to the shows, and most days she does come to the barn for a bit. I am blessed to have an outstanding nanny named Mele, who was my 96-year-old grandmother’s caregiver for more than 10 years. My grandmother passed away at about the same time I gave birth, and Mele agreed to work for me. It’s a hard job because I need someone to go to all the shows. But our priority is that we’re a family and we go everywhere together. Mele really takes care of all of us! So when I’m home she comes in at 9am and takes over for me so I can get to the barn. She brings Lydia over to the barn when the weather’s nice, which is great for me. And at the shows she brings her over in the afternoon for lunch and we ride around in the golf cart to visit friends.

EG: You chose a busy time (when you were in your second trimester of pregnancy) to open a second location of Rubicon Farms. How’s that going?
It’s going great, and I think it will grow into something really special. Right now I go to Gilroy Gaits [the second location] on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We have about a half a dozen horses there, and are also helping out Angie and Mike Scully, who run Los Laureles Equine Rehabilitation Center with a lot of their rehab riding.

EG: Wow – that’s a lot of running around! What’s the advantage to having two locations?
At Gilroy Gaits I can take advantage of lots of turnout, an Aquapacer and a Eurocizer. It’s a great environment to bring the young horses along or give show horses a break. It’s going to be an amazing show facility, and it will be really fun to have our barn there when that starts happening. The Portola Valley Training Center is centrally located, close to San Francisco and two minutes from our house! It is the best training facility I have ever worked out of. It has everything we need to prepare our show horses. Kevin & Wendell Chambers have been very supportive and are really wonderful to do business with. So, I’ve got the best of both worlds.

EG: Tell us a little about your typical day.
The first thing I do in the morning is schedule changes. There are always schedule changes so I start making those while driving to the barn. When I arrive I walk the barn front to back and talk to the grooms. I want to know everything. Then I go over with my team what the day’s objective is with each horse. We don’t like to lunge the horses a lot, they all get prepared with a light school in the mornings. Weather permitting, every horse gets a turnout every day. Then the clients come in; some clients have several horses so I do several lessons. That’s up and through lunch. After lunch we’ll ride the horses that didn’t have lessons, and then in the afternoons the juniors come and we go through the same routine. At the end of the day I walk the barn again to check on everyone and start formulating my plan for the next day.

EG: And the staff that helps the day go smoothly?
First and foremost, Dylan is my right hand. He does all the ground schooling on the horses and organizes routines with the grooms. He does our hauling and handles all the sales for the business. He’s also got his chiropractic business that keeps him busy. We have an excellent staff of professionals, working students and grooms working both farms daily to keep everything to our standard and everybody happy! Everyone who is working with me is playing their part in strengthening the team, and I’m still in the process of streamlining who I need where.

EG: Besides motherhood and running two locations, other goals for the year?
We have a couple of clients going for World Champion Hunter Rider Points this year. We’re working towards that while being realistic about everyone’s personal schedules. We have a decently aggressive schedule, but all the same I try to take it month to month, if not day to day!

Photos © Flying Horse Photography

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