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Equine Communications Portfolio

Céleste Wilkins Céleste Wilkins is an equine communications specialist providing press releases, event reports, interviews and social media needs.' '


Céleste currently holds a position within the marketing department at Horse&Rider and PONY Magazines. In this capacity she provides unbiased reporting of events that are relevant to the British leisure riding population. She is also instrumental in subbing articles from the magazine for online publication. She is also in charge of the social media accounts for both magazines. She increases brand awareness and identity through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and Pinterest accounts. She films and edits videos for YouTube to promote features within the issues. As a blogger for Horse Junkies United she provides indepth analyses of top-level events tailored to the competitive and recreational rider. The tone of the blog is geared towards amateur riders and their experiences. The excitement conveyed by blog entries is infectious, influencing all types of riders to take notice of the elite show jumping and eventing world. At Equine Canada Céleste gained experience writing press releases and news reports for Canada’s national governing body of equestrian sport. She published articles within the bimonthly magazine distributed to members and available online. Céleste’s ability to tailor her writing style to the publication and topic is clearly evident in this portfolio. With many contacts within the equestrian industry, Céleste Wilkins is well placed to meet your equestrian communications needs.

All photographs are copyright Céleste Wilkins 2013

International show jumpers provide exciting performances at Hickstead Published on – the official Horse&Rider Magazine website July 6 2013 International Success The international arena hosted some very hotly contested classes, both championships for the show horses and ponies as well as international show jumping. Thursday's Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix saw show jumpers and eventers go head to head over a course of cross country and show jump fences looping around the grounds. An exciting round by Zoe Adams and Satonamillion, who has had great results in elite show jumping as well as eventing, brought her victory. Friday drew the crowds as well as the best international riders to contest the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. This year marks a year of change for the series, with a new sponsor in Furusiyya and an exciting new format. The new Nations Cup format divides the world into regions, with the aim of allowing many more up and coming nations to participate in the final in Barcelona. Eight nations took part in the competition, with Great Britain, Germany, France, and Ukraine collecting points towards qualifications for the final. The course designed by Olympic course designer Bob Ellis proved to be a formidable track with very few clear rounds. Germany, having only three opportunities to garner points after pulling out in St Gallen, brought their 'A' team. Faultless performances by their riders put them in the lead by 8 faults, and meant that their anchor rider, Ludger Beerbaum did not have to jump off. The British team brought ž of their Olympic squad, but it was not a repeat of London 2012, with the team finishing in 5th place on 17 faults. Uncharacteristically, Ben Maher's Tripple X III had 8 faults in the first round and 13 faults in the second round to be the drop score. Friday's result leaves Team GBR in 7th position on the Europe Division 1 ranking list and with only one more opportunity to collect points at Dublin this weekend, the pressure is on for Rob Hoekstra's team to produce clear rounds.

Maher keeps winning tradition Tripple X III redeemed himself in the King George V Gold Cup on Sunday as one of only three clear rounds to jump off. The jump off between Maher, Ukraine's Ulrich Kirchhoff and Germany's Marcus Ehining exemplified Tripple X III's scope and speed. Maher attributed his turn around in performance from Friday's Nations Cup to a change of bits, from pelham to the snaffle he used during the Olympics. The ride recalled memories of the Olympics, as his flawless performance and victory came a year to the day of his Team Gold ride in London. Maher is the third Brit to win the King George V Gold Cup since 1999. Maher's string of horses have been on fine form this season, with Tripple X III's stablemate Cella winning the Longines Global Champions Tour in London. He will ride Cella in the upcoming Dublin Nations Cup as Team GBR make a last ditch attempt to qualify for the final.

The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Series- Should I Care? Published on Horse Junkies United August 1, 2013' Two critical Nations Cup tournaments will be held on Friday, at Hickstead (UK) and Bratislava. Do you know where your country stands in the standings? Should we care? The answer is Yes! The Nations Cup competitions so far have proven to be some of the most exciting show jumping that has been seen in the last few years! Earlier this year the FEI Nations Cup series acquired a dramatic facelift that has changed the dynamic of the series irrevocably. The tour received a significant influx of capital, 16 million euros over 4 years, from the Saudi Equestrian Fund under the name Furusiyya. The sponsorship package was a real coup for the FEI. In 2011, they reported a £824k loss as a result of sponsoring the series. The condition of sponsorship relied on the revitalization of the Nations Cup format, moving it away from its primarily European-centered top table and allowing other up and coming nations the opportunity to compete at the final. A Fresh New Format The new format divides the world into six regions with 37 nations competing: two European regions; North America, Central America and the Caribbean Islands; South America; the Middle East; Asia/Australasia and Africa. Nine teams from the European regions and two teams from the other regions qualify for the final in Barcelona in September. If Spain would not qualify they would automatically be eligible, making the total number teams competing in the final 19. This format is good news for countries like Canada who were previously relegated to the Promotional League due to lack of European exposure. In some ways this may also raise the standard of horses and riders competing in Nations Cup performance, especially in the up and coming nations. It may also widen the ownership and sponsorship pool in equestrianism, bringing it further into the mainstream. There are 22 Nations Cup competitions in as many countries this season. Nations pick up points towards the final at four designated competitions – the top four teams from the former top table (GB, IRL, GER, FRA) were allowed to choose which competitions they would count, with the other nations allocated competitions by the FEI. This initiative is meant to allow riders to balance the workload of their top horses in and amongst the plethora of other international competitions. It also allows nations to give younger riders exposure at events where they are not collecting points.

The final in Barcelona is rapidly approaching, making the next few competitions crucial. Thus far Canada, the USA, Brazil and Colombia have qualified from the Americas, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from the Middle East, Australia and Japan from Asia/Australasia, and Egypt from Africa. So, who will qualify from Europe divisions 1 and 2? For division 1, the final two events at Dublin and Hickstead may have the power to shake the leader board significantly. Switzerland and the Netherlands have finished on 320 and 309 respectively, with the rest of the nation vying for points at one or both of these shows. ' For instance, if Great Britain (currently on 143 points) were to win Hickstead and Dublin they would gain 200 points, pushing them into the lead as it now stands. It’s anyone’s game with great riders on all sides. I’m especially excited to see the German team with their all-star roster of Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Ludger Beerbaum, Hans-Dieter Dreher, Marcus Ehning and Janne Freiderike Meyer. The elite roster is especially warranted due to their forfeiture in St. Gallen, leaving them with only three opportunities to collect points towards the final. In Europe Division 2, four competitions remain: Bratislava, Gijon, Arezzo and Kiev. Belgium sit at the top with 421, but all this could change with a large proportion of the teams to collect points in the latter stages of the series. Although I will be at Hickstead, I think Bratislava could be a very interesting competition. Nine teams are going for points and this could change the leader board dramatically, although Belgium, having completed all of their qualifying competitions, is in a very strong position. Teams Going for Points at Hickstead (GBR): France Germany Great Britain Ukraine Teams Going for Points at Bratislava (SVK): Austria Belarus Czech Republic Finland Greece Hungary Poland Russia Slovakia '

Meet Yasmin Pinchen – Youngest Rider on the Longines Global Champions Tour Published on Horse Junkies United June 12, 2013' Yasmin Pinchen is the youngest rider on the Longines Global Champions Tour. At 19, her life consists of riding her gorgeous horses in the most prestigious venues across the world. She competes three horses on the LGCT – Umorkus, Ashkari and Van de Vivaldi. When you’re up against seasoned pros like the Whitakers, Olympic medalists like Steve Guerdat and world number one ranked Christian Ahlmann, the pressure can be immense, but Yasmin seems relaxed. She enjoys sunbathing and sightseeing when she’s not training and competing. She also breeds micro pigs and has won medals at the European Championships at pony, children on horses and junior levels. I had the opportunity to chat with the British rider in the warm up area at the Longines Global Champions Tour in London.

Behind the Scenes at the Longines Global Champions Tour: A Posh Treat! Published on Horse Junkies United June 10, 2013 The Longines Global Champions Tour in London wrapped up yesterday and with it we bid adieu to the world’s greatest riders as they head off to the next leg of the tour in Cannes. It was truly hard to leave the immaculate grounds at the Olympic Park in Stratford, London as we knew we weren’t coming back. Yesterday’s competition featured the 2* 1.30m finale won by Jake Saywell and Special K IVthey’ve had a fantastic show. There was also a 1.45m class, won by Norway’s Eirin Brunheim on NLF Billy On Show. The 5* horses came out for an accumulator class – where the riders are given points for each fence that they jump clear, with the time deciding the winner. Scott Brash and Bon Ami, another British combination who has been a fixture of the winner’s podium here in London, took the class with a tidy clear. Roger-Yves Bost, known as Bosty, had held the lead until Brash’s winning round with a scorching time on Castle Forbes Cosma. I love Bosty. George Morris may think that good equitation equals success, but I think Bosty is the exception to the rule. Bosty defies every equitation textbook. I asked him how he trains for a jump off: “I train at home to turn. I work them when they’re young to train all the options, left and right. I don’t just jump straight- I jump on turns. I think that’s good because in competition when the horse is in a jump off situation they can figure it out. I like to jump some small fences, on the turn going slow and fast”. – Roger-Yves Bost

It was very clear that Bosty and many of the other riders had done their homework this week. We saw some absolutely flowing rounds at the biggest heights. Marco Kutscher and Cash made the 1.60m track in the Grand Prix look simple to win it. Ben Maher also put in a beautiful round on Tripple X III but was slightly slower in the jump off. I sat beside Ben Maher in the rider’s cafeteria as he watched a replay of his winning jump off Saturday in the big money class – what a horseman. He was in awe of how well his horse jumped, especially since he had just recently acquired the ride. Another rider who consistently delivered a masterclass in show jumping every time he entered the ring is world number one ranked Christian Ahlmann. After yesterday’s jump off, I needed to ask him if he had any tips for amateur riders in the jump off. He emphatically said, “You have to ride it and love it… If things go wrong you may have to take a step backwards, but keep going, keep forward and have the dressage basics- then you will win”- Christian Ahlmann The London leg of the tour received critical acclaim from the riders – despite less than stellar spectator numbers on the Thursday and Friday. Christian Ahlmann was very happy with the prize money, probably because he took a good share of it, whereas Bosty thought the weather was too cold but the jumping was good. London was a posh treat for riders with the most posh facilities anyone could ask for. The rider’s dining hall was catered by Harrods and featured the most exquisite of foods – croissants baked fresh, sandwiches on organic baguettes and plenty of sweet treats. The warm up arena was covered, in case of rain. The surfaces were Martin Collins, a fibre, sand and wax composite. They were immaculately maintained by a very efficient grounds crew. Each day featured courses that tested the rider’s ability and horse’s scope but fair enough to allow for a cracking jump off. We were enamored by the opportunity to sit in and amongst the world’s best. The LGCT lifestyle is incredible. Every week they visit a new extraordinary city. Next week will be


Longines Global Champions Tour – British Domination, The London 2012 Legacy Lives On! Published on Horse Junkies United June 8, 2012 The atmosphere was abundant at the Longines Global Champions Tour on Saturday as the crowds came out for this prestigious event. Saturday’s schedule featured a 2* 1.15m class where the British domination continued. Kayleigh Watts took top spot, followed by one of this week’s stand out 2* riders, Lara Whiteway. The 5* competition got underway at 10 with the 1.45m Sapinda Prix – a speed class. Can I just say how much I love French rider Roger-Yves Bost? He’s known as “Bosty” and he has the most unorthodox style, but somehow, he manages to pull of some amazing rounds. Today he was hell bent for leather in the 1.45m on Castle Forbes Cosma besting French teammate Peneolpe Leprevost on Flora de Mariposa. She’s got an amazing, classic, style – one George Morris couldn’t fault. As I’ve learnt this year, sometimes style doesn’t win – it’s getting over the ‘coloured sticks’ clear and fast. Third place went to Gregory Wathlelet on Riesling du Monselet. By the time the 1.60m Longines Global Champions Tour of London Grand Prix started, the stands were almost completely packed. This was a welcome relief after the meager turnout earlier in the week. The London 2012 legacy continued with some of the iconic fences from the Olympic games including the Naval House and Thames Bridge. 68 riders competed in the first round, with a total of 18 clears. The course was technical, with many fences completely up to 1.60m in height. There were two related distances in particular that caught a few riders out: the distance from 2 to the Thames Bridge at fence 3, a five strides on a bending line and the five strides from a wide brown oxer to a oxer-vertical one stride double. Lauren Hough and Philipp Weishaupt had four faults in the first round by adding a sixth stride into the five stride distance. Laura Kraut and Cedric made easy work of the course with a tidy clear, securing their place in the second round. Bosty couldn’t carry on his form from the previous class, resulting in an unfortunate retirement. Six Brits went through to the second round, including the winning trifecta from London 2012 – Ben Maher, Nick Skelton and Scott Brash.

The second round was over a seemingly bigger and more imposing course, narrowing the field of 18 down to 10. The course allowed riders to open their strides but demanded sharp, accurate riding especially with a turn back to an immense vertical and gallop down to the last. Five Brits went through to the final jump off. A clear and fast round posted early in the class by Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z looked unbeatable, although the likes of William Funnel and yesterday’s winner Patrice Delaveau tried. We knew we were onto a winner when Nick Skelton walked in though. His clear and fast round only bested Christian Ahlmann’s by a one hundredth of a second. We thought Big Star would take the top honours, but Ben Maher laid down a lightning fast trip on his newly acquired grey mare, Cella, owned by Jane Clark placing him on top by over a second. We were cheering all the way down to the finish line. Maher admitted to not hearing much until the second last fence, and it certainly pushed him to go faster. ' Following the grand prix, a dressage demonstration brought out the stars of the sport with Laura Tomlinson (nee Bechtolsheimer) and Charlotte Dujardin offering a dazzling display of incredible flatwork and beautiful freestyles to music. Tomorrow’s schedule features another 1.60 class and hopefully some glorious British sunshine, which will hopefully keep the crowds coming to this beautiful show. When the show organizers were asked if the LGCT would be back in London again, they said a resounding yes. Their wish is to start a tradition of this competition in London, and we couldn’t be more pleased.

Longines Global Champions Tour London – Pristine Venue, Great Competition, Disappointing Turnout Published on Horse Junkies United June 8, 2013 Friday at the Longines Global Champions Tour set off to a rocking start with wins for young British riders in each of the 2* classes. Florence Bellm and Southbound won the 1.25/1.30m CSI2* class. Yesterday’s winner Lara Whiteway took top honours in the second class of the 2* portion, winning the 1.15m with Obelix Z. The 1.40/1.45m was won by Sophie Fawcett and Rembrant Blue. The first class of the 5* portion of the day was a 1.45m speed class. Christian Ahlmann and Little Lady Z posted a very fast round early on and it held right the way through securing victory for the Swedish rider. The setting sun peeking above the London skyline set a romantic backdrop for the last class of the day – the 1.50m boasting 60,000 Euros in prize money. The class was run as a jumpoff class with a 13 jump first round including some familiar London 2012 fences. The London 2012 bus proved to be an issue for some, as well as the Uffington White Horse fence with a plank as the top rail. A few early clears by Steve Guerdat, Christian Ahlmann and Saer Coulter gave the impression that the course was easy, but several riders retired after encountering significant problems. The course rewarded accurate and efficient riding with several questions and a very tight time allowed.

One very efficient and careful round was posted by Ben Maher on the very scopey Aristo Z. I was fortunate to be sitting next to the very knowledgeable Graham Fletcher, Tina Fletcher’s husband, and we both agreed this would be one to watch in the jump-off. A few riders later Tina Fletcher and Hello Sailor posted a clear and speedy round to secure their spot in the jump off, despite an earlier injury giving Tina a noticeable limp. The jump off included questions such as a tight turn back to the London Bus, a related distance down to the Uffington White Horse and a strong gallop back to a gate on flat cups. The bus was the downfall of Ben Maher and Aristo Z, a pair that looked like they could win it in the first round. It was Patrice Delaveau and Lacrimoso 3 HDC that proved to be on top form in the evening’s class, winning the class by fractions of a second. In second place, a personal favourite, Steve Guerdat and Sidnay VIII. American young rider Saer Coulter and Springtime finished 4th after a very efficient and stylish jump off. It’s great to see the young talent rising up the ranks among the big dogs. The grounds were empty again on Friday, although there were a few more spectators than Thursday. Rumour has it that the stands are sold out on the weekend, hopefully that is the case. Ben Maher was overheard saying that it’s a bit disappointing that there aren’t as many people, a sentiment shared by many. The venue is pristine – the only thing that’s missing is atmosphere. I had a chance to ask Graham Fletcher about the significance of this event and he shared the general opinion that the disappointing turnout may be prohibitive of future high-calibre shows in Britain. With only a very limited number of FEI ranked shows on home turf, Brits must generally go abroad to compete on the world stage. There aren’t many 1.50 and 1.60 grand prix classes in the UK, but this hasn’t seemed to prevent the Brits from dominating the rankings here at the Longines Global Champions Tour.

Day 1 From the Longines Global Champions Tour London Published on Horse Junkies United June 6, 2013 London is a hardworking city, so the meager turnout on this sunny Thursday at the LGCT leg in London wasn’t unexpected. The low key vibe gave riders a chance to acclimate their horses to the ring with some friendly 1.10m to 1.50m classes on offer. The show runs Thursday to Sunday and each day offers both FEI CSI2* and CSI5* classes, the star rating referring to the height of fences as well as the prize money associated with each class. It’s a great show and the CSI2* classes have allowed some younger British and International riders, and those without significant international jumping experience, to gain miles in a big international class. The morning’s first class was a 1.10m/1.15m two phase (power and speed) class, won by Lara Whiteway for Great Britain and the Zangersheide stallion Obelix Z. The British domination continued into the second class, a 1.25m/1.30m with youngster Jake Saywell taking the top spot on Special K IV. Jake is one to watch in the future as he comes from a prolific show jumping family – sister Louise is a very successful young rider as well. The last class of the 2* competition today was a 1.40m/1.45m which was won by James Davenport, another fantastic British rider, on Carrento Ztar. The afternoon classes brought the start of the CSI5* competition with a 1.45m power and speed class, won by Pius Schwizer of Switzerland on Coolgirl. The class brought the stars of the sport out but not many clear, fast rounds. British rider Mark Armstrong on Thesaura was third in and took an early lead but was pipped to the post by Schwizer very late in the class. The last class, a 1.50m speed class, was a mix of grand prix horses warming up for classes later on in the week and genuine speed horses. Lauren Hough and Ohlala posted a clear and fast round early in the class that held steady for the entire time, securing the win.

There has been much talk about the expected turn out of this inaugural LGCT event in Great Britain. Many have posted in online forums criticizing the lack of publicity and even the cost of the tickets. We found it difficult to find the venue from the train station, due to lack of signage, but equally due to our bad sense of direction. The spectator numbers were abysmal; with members of the press and trade stand exhibitors probably outnumbering the number of paying spectators – even for the big class at 6pm. For the riders, it probably made for better ‘warm-up’ classes for the bigger money ones this weekend, as there was a complete lack of atmosphere. For the spectators, they had free run of the ample seating areas and shopping. There are high hopes by the organizers and the trade stand exhibitors that the spectator numbers will pick up as the show continues. Hopefully, this won’t deter any future events of this caliber, as it’s clear the Brits are game to compete on the world stage and win on home turf.'

Clark Montgomery After Badminton: “Universe Tried His Heart Out For Me. I Couldn’t Be Happier” Published on Horse Junkies United May 6, 2013 Clark Montgomery and Universe earned a lot of respect and admiration from the Badminton crowds this weekend- especially with their beautiful double clear show jumping round on Monday. Universe, a 12 year-old Dutch bred gelding owned by the lovely Jessica Montgomery, enjoys bananas and had eaten several bushels over the weekend because he’s such a good boy! We caught up with Clark to discuss his first Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials experience and where he’s off to next!

Equine Infectious Anemia Outbreak Hits Western Canada Published in Equine Canada Magazine August/September 2012 Western Canada, including the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Territory are currently experiencing the largest Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) outbreak in years. As of June 30, 105 cases of EIA were reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The number of EIA cases has been on the rise since 2011; 179 cases were reported in 2011, in contrast with 23 cases in 2010. As EIA is a reportable disease, all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA immediately. EIA infected horses remain carriers for life. EIA affected horses appear normal for a period of time and are a source of infection for other animals. Clinical signs of the virus include fever, general weakness, swelling of the extremities and in some cases loss of coordination. The disease is transmitted through the transfer of contaminated blood or semen onto an uncontaminated animal. Blood sucking insects can increase the spread of disease. An infected stallion can contaminate an uninfected mare through breeding. Improper handling of blood-contaminated objects such as needles can also increase disease spread. There is no effective vaccination and, because of the nature of the virus, it is unlikely that there ever will be an effective vaccination. There is no effective treatment; confirmed cases of EIA must either be euthanized or placed into permanent solitary confinement. Horses exhibiting strong clinical signs will be ordered to be destroyed immediately by the CFIA. Animals that test positive but do not exhibit clinical signs may be ordered destroyed or put under permanent solitary confinement. Animals that have come into contact with the infected animals must also be tested. They must test negative for EIA twice in a 40-day interval before quarantine can be removed from a farm. Cases can be reliably confirmed through testing. Extensive testing and isolation of infected animals is the only way to eradicate this disease. The application of this test is voluntary. Compliance varies by region. EIA testing is generally known as the ‘Coggins’ test. This test is generally repeated yearly and often required for many competitions and boarding facilities. As a result, the majority of Ontario horses have been tested. Ontario was disease free in 2011 and 2012. Chuckwagon and Chariot horses were overrepresented as cases in 2011. In Western Canada, less than 1% of horses are routinely tested. Competitions in these areas are encouraged to require proof of negative EIA status in all exhibitors.

Increased awareness of the effects of the disease and the importance of testing in these populations is necessary to increase voluntary testing. It is not necessary for the same horses to be tested yearly if they have not traveled to areas experiencing an outbreak or been exposed to EIA infected animals. It is necessary to test horses residing in the areas where the outbreak is occurring. Horses that have not been tested previously may be carriers of the disease and should be tested. Feral horses in British Columbia and constitute an at-risk population for EIA. These horses may constitute EIA carriers. If wild horses are auctioned, they should be tested for EIA prior to release into a new herd. Disease control in wild horses is challenging, therefore all precautions should be taken to test horses that have been in contact with the feral population. Many owners are reluctant to test due to the outcome of a positive EIA test. Under the Health of Animals Act the CFIA may compensate owners for horses destroyed due to EIA. Compensation is based on market value. Solitary confinement is an option, but may not be practical or ethical for the owner’s situation. EIA has an impact on the health and welfare of the Canadian equine population. Testing is necessary to eradicate the disease. Recent increases in cases in Western Canada are under investigation by the CFIA. Owners in infected regions should take precautions to reduce the chance of infection. Strict hygiene practices should be used when collecting blood samples or administering vaccinations. Insect control measures should be implemented, especially in peak mosquito season. New horses should be isolated and tested for EIA before introducing them to the herd. EIA positive horses should not be bred. Owners should discuss with their veterinarian appropriate testing protocol for their animals.


CĂŠleste Wilkins +44 (0) 7501 815489

Celeste Wilkins - Portfolio