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Posts Tagged ‘US equestrian’

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Photo by Cathy Lynn Cimino, Equine Info Exchange

I love watching the Olympics—winter and summer. Pick a sport and I’m into it, willing to admire the athletes, agonize over the losses, celebrate the successes, and even puzzle over the “rules of the game” when it comes to contests unfamiliar to me. I grew up an athlete, and I can identify with the ambition, the guts, and the honor of being an Olympic competitor. Even though it will never be me on a balance beam, ski jump, or podium, I still get a rush seeing others reach such a goal—the kind of goal that requires much sacrifice, hours upon hours upon days upon years, for a few moments of complete and utter validation.

RFTTPin-horseandriderbooksSo with Tokyo 2020 postponed until July 2021, I’m all about finding a new way to get my Olympic fix. One way is by reading the profiles in RIDING FOR THE TEAM: INSPIRATIONAL STORIES OF THE USA’S MEDAL-WINNING EQUESTRIANS AND THEIR HORSES. 

The great thing about these stories is that they are all over the spectrum in terms of equestrian sport (all 8 FEI disciplines are included) and individual voice. Each rider, driver, and vaulter contributed a first-person account of what it took to rise to the highest levels of dressage, show jumping, eventing, reining, para dressage, driving, vaulting, and endurance. We get to hear the fascinating bits and pieces that helped make our equestrian stars great, and man, it makes for great trivia! For example, did you know:

  • Margie Engle didn’t own her own horse until she was 25?
  • Michelle Gibson got the ride on Peron after an article about her time as a working student in Germany appeared in the local newspaper?
  • Boyd Martin has always competed in his high school’s blue-and-white rugby jersey?
  • Suzy Stafford switched from eventing to driving after she bought driving lessons for her father?
  • Becca Hart works as a head barista at Starbucks when she isn’t on the road competing?
  • Andrea Fappani grew up with a classical riding background in an English saddle?
  • Valerie Kanavy paid $150 for her first horse, Princess, with savings from her piggy bank?
  • Megan Benjamin Guimarin could only eat bread pieces dipped in Nutella before competing for the World Championship?
Martin2CBoyd_LennysLoss

Boyd Martin in outgrown jodhpurs and his school’s blue-and-white ruby jersey On Lenny’s Loss. Photo courtesy of Boyd Martin from RIDING FOR THE TEAM.

There are 47 contributors in RIDING FOR THE TEAM, and as a rider—even one who no longer competes—I enjoyed discovering how each one decided representing the US in international competition was what they aspired to, and then how each pursued and accomplished that goal. Some came from humble means, some had a leg up with families in the horse business or money that helped pave the way, but all of them struggled at points…and still prevailed. 

These lessons are the best kind right now. #LetTheDreamsBegin

Rebecca Didier, Managing Editor, TSB

RIDING FOR THE TEAM is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

 

 

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TSB had a great time at the Dressage Festival of Champions this weekend! Here Tina Konyot congratulates Calecto V on a job well done.

TSB had a great time at the Dressage Festival of Champions this weekend! Here Tina Konyot congratulates Calecto V on a job well done.

 

Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com) is just back from a weekend on the hallowed ground of the United States Equestrian Team’s (USET) headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey. There some of our nation’s best dressage riders, horses, judges, and luminaries gathered to award our national championships, and to select the short list of rider-horse combinations who will represent the US at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, August 23 through September 7, 2014.

It was a great weekend of dressage, from the ponies to the Grand Prix. And between ogling the Welsh cobs and their immense cuteness and admiring the unbelievable mirror-like gleam of Lisa Wilcox’s riding boots, we also learned a thing or two.

 

1  Even on the hottest days, metal bleachers are cold on your rear. And they are the hardest thing you’ve ever sat on—especially after five hours of freestyles. Note to self: Bring stadium seating next time.

2  All-wheel drive is as important in New Jersey as it is in Vermont. After thunderstorms and heavy rainfall on Friday, Saturday morning dawned wet and muddy. The romance of parking in the same fields de Nemethy and Chapot once rode through evaporates fairly quickly when your tires sink a good 4 inches and the convertible next to you looks like it spent the weekend on a class-4 road in New England in April.

3  Even dressage riders rock out to Eminem. Case in point: Chris Hickey’s I1 freestyle on Ronaldo.

4  It is entirely possible to kick butt at Grand Prix in your twenties! Go Laura Graves! Yeah Caroline Roffman!

5  You should come to these events willing to ingest multiple orders of french fries at various times throughout the day. Note to self: Bring Tums next time.

6  Dressage judges work incredibly long days. The Festival’s jury, which included TSB authors Janet Foy and Anne Gribbons, left their assigned posts only during scheduled 15-minute breaks, breaks between classes, and when the last score had been tallied each evening. I have a newfound respect for dressage judges (and scribes, and runners, and other show staff) for their focus, attention, and the great care they give their own performance in “grading” the riders and horses appearing before them. Not to mention their appearance…all the judges looked great, all weekend long. Bravo! And in case we all don’t say it often enough: THANK YOU.

Seriously, how DOES Lisa Wilcox get her boots to shine like that?

8  It helps the riders get through their pirouettes if all the spectators in the stands cluck together under their breath.

9  Spectators at events own big dogs. Spectators at dressage shows own small dogs. I don’t know why, it’s just a thing.

10  It still feels pretty darn special to wander through the Rotunda at Gladstone and imagine training with our country’s past greats in the USET headquarters’ heyday back in the 1960s. If you ever harbored a fantasy, however momentary, of riding for the US in the Olympics one day, make the pilgrimage to the old Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey. Although time has surely changed it, you can still tick it off your horsey bucket list.

11  Buy yourself a USEF hat or jacket emblazoned with USA and support our equestrian athletes. It looks like it will be an exciting year!

 

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The USEF named the following short list for WEG 2014 following the weekend’s dressage competition:

 

Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) and Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92

Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own Verdades

Jan Ebeling (Moorpark, Calif.) and Beth Meyer, Ann Romney, and Amy Ebeling’s Rafalca

Adrienne Lyle (Ketchum, Idaho) and Peggy Thomas’ Wizard

Tina Konyot (Palm City, Fla.) and her own Calecto V

Caroline Roffman (Wellington, Fla.) and her own Her Highness O

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Patricia Stempel’s Doktor

Lisa Wilcox (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Betty Wells’ Denzello

 

FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy is the author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE. For more about her book, CLICK HERE.

FEI/USEF dressage judge Anne Gribbons is the author of COLLECTIVE REMARKS, which is due to be released in August and is available for PREORDER HERE.

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