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Now Accepting Commissions Please visit my website for a variety of paintings‌ FROM THE HEART.

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PAMPERING EQUESTRIANS FOR OVER A DECADE “ After a day in the saddle come soothe your body and soul at Copperfalls. We make feeling good and looking beautiful fun. Make Copperfalls Aveda Spa part of your riding routine. Located only minutes from Colorado Horse Park and VOTED Douglas County’s Best Spa!

340 Perry Street, Castle Rock, CO Experiences available 7 days a week.

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With Gratitude… Thank you, Nancy Smith, for finding and guiding Damon’s Design HW, the young, superstar dressage horse. The two of you working together is a dance of inspiration. —Sarah Bushong-Weeks

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

Nancy Smith Dressage Trainer, Instructor, Clinician 352-406-3099 ·




Close Contact - Shelly Kerron


12 Publisher’s Page

ROLEX - The Greatest Weekend


14 Behind The Barn

Mallets For Melanoma


16 Adds & Scratches

Close Contact - Lola Michelin


70 The Horse Connection

Riding New Zealand’s Rugged Back Country


Equicenter De Santa Fe


ABOUT THE COVER Will Simpson and “The Dude” are on fire at HITS Thermal 2015 as they notched their eighth Grand Prix win of the circuit with two weeks remaining. Thank You Sharon McElvain for yet another beautiful cover. Fine Art Photography Photo Exhibit at “The Pokey” San Lorenzo Galleria in Lemitar, New Mexico


Helen Krieble Your vision of a Colorado Horse Park has given us an equestrian masterpiece. Your commitment to Colorado equestrians will be your lasting legacy.

CONGRATULATIONS to Helen and Suzy on the sale of the Colorado Horse Park. THANK YOU, Helen, for putting your faith in me. GOOD LUCK in your retirement, we will always be grateful for what you gave us. Best Wishes to Colorado Equestrian Partners LLC on the purchase of The Horse Park and for continuing Helen’s legacy.


303-888-6282 Cell · 303-865-5182 Office

25+ Years Experience Working For You. For Horse Property…Call A Horse Person



alerie and I are dedicating this issue of Horse Connection to our dear friend Richard Gooding who passed away June 1, 2014 after a courageous 11-year struggle with melanoma. Richard was a most generous friend and a great supporter of the Colorado equestrian community. If there was a more thoughtful and generous man than Richard, I have not met him. He was a good friend to so many people and embodied a “Christmas Spirit” throughout the year with his legendary gifts. He always had a small notebook with him and would make notes about things his friends liked or interests they had, based on

conversations or observations. Using this information, he would then find the perfect gift for that friend based on his stealthy notes. He took gift giving seriously enough to have a professionally stocked wrapping room in the home that he and wife Nancy shared in Denver. Richard and Nancy took us on horse buying trips to Europe, enabling HC to share some interesting articles with our readers. Richard was an engaging man of many interests including aviation, boat design, architectural design, music, language, food and travel. I learned so much just by listening to him. In late 2012, we had the good fortune of attending Richard’s scotch celebration.

Richard opened his scotch cellar, one of only three like it in the world, to all of his friends. It was Richard’s way of sharing what he had as he so generously did all the time. We are better people because of Richard.

“Will Simpson has been tearing up the HITS winter circuit, winning eight-Grand Prix so far, with three weeks left of showing.”

” Will (WIN) Simpson has been tearing up the HITS winter circuit , winning eight-Grand Prix so far, with three weeks left of showing. By now, everyone in the jumper community is talking about “The Dude,” Simpson’s unbeatable horse and HC’s cover boy for this issue. Simpson said of The Dude, “He just will not be denied. Something has recently happened in his brain and he thinks he owns the place. He sets his sights on a clear round each time we come to this ring. He is a very, very special horse in a lot of ways. He has the entire team convinced we can do anything.” Richard and Nancy Gooding



Chances are we would never be witnessing such feats in the jumper ring had it not been for the keen eye of equestrian and horse breeder, Nancy Gooding of Plum Creek Hollow Farm in Larkspur, CO. Nancy is well known among the breeders and breed organizations in Germany, and has been importing stellar horses for many years. Nancy bought “Can Do” at the Elite Oldenburg Fall Auction in Vechta, Germany in 2010, and imported the fouryear-old horse to her farm in Colorado. The big bay is out of an Argentinus mare and the Holsteiner Kerry Gold. Looking over her notes of that auction, Nancy had written that “Can Do” was a “pretty mover with a super jump, a wonderful temperament and good work ethic.” Looking over the advertisement for “Can Do,” it was noted that he was, “a scopey jumper and a serious jump prospect for the highest levels of jumping.” Nancy had “Can Do” for about four months before she sold him to Toby Cromwell, who was looking for a prospect for his daughter but liked what he saw in the horse and wanted him as his own ride. Colorado trainer Harriet Bunker showed “Can Do” up the levels in the Young Jumper classes up to 1.30 level in 2012, where Will Simpson saw him and bought him, and the rest is history. Colorado will continue to be a major destination for horse sport with the sale of the Colorado Horse Park to a partnership group headed by Mark Bellissimo, who produces the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. I know I speak for all Colorado equestrians when I say, thank you Helen Krieble for giving us your legacy - a world-class facility. Enjoy a much deserved and wonderful retirement Helen! Horse showing is returning to Santa Fe, New Mexico with the announcement

that Guy McElvain, Brian Gonzales and partners have bought the Equicenter de Santa Fe, formerly the Santa Fe Horse Park, and will have a three week horse show with Grand Prix starting this summer. Read what Guy McElvain has to say about this exciting new venture on page 68. The times are changing and print media is taking a backseat to digital media and we are responding accordingly by increasing HC’s presence on the digital platform. We have been busy producing videos for HC clients, as that medium is becoming the most popular way to market your business or interests online. For a look at the future of advertising please visit HC’s YouTube channel – Horse Connection Equestrian Lifestyle Channel. You’ll see a variety of the videos we produce for sponsored event coverage, product rollout, and selling equestrian real estate. Lastly, Valerie and I would like to thank all of the readers, advertisers, and fans of Horse Connection Magazine for all of your support and encouragement through the years. We look forward to the new chapter of HC Media Group, and we’ll see you out and about at the show grounds.


Geoff & Valerie L. Young EDITOR

Geoff Young V.P. MARKETING


Sue Bury

303.619.6757 ART DIRECTOR

Justin Esparza

425.314.1807 WEBMASTER


Wayne Scot Lukas


Evalyn Bemis Kip Mistral Marc Patoile Butte Dawson PHOTOGRAPHY

Geoff Young Evalyn Bemis Sharon McElvain ADVERTISING & RATES

Geoff Young, Publisher Please call our Corporate Office if you have questions with advertising, subscriptions or billing. 303.663.1300 or 303.668.1332 HORSECONNECTION.COM Sorry, but Horse Connection cannot assume responsibility for unsolicited materials Horse Connection © 2015, Volume XIV, Edition 1. Published by Horse Connection, LLC., PO Box 775, Redmond, WA 98073, and is provided to its readers free of charge. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs, artwork and ad designs printed in the Horse Connection are copyright and the sole property of HC and may not be duplicated or reprinted without express written permission from HC. Horse Connection is not responsible for typographical or production errors or the accuracy of information provided by advertisers. Readers should confirm any advertised information with advertisers. HC reserves the right to refuse any advertising. We will not knowingly accept any advertising or print any material which is offensive or in violation of the law.




I’m ready to load my truck and trailer, grab the dogs and the horses, and my wife, if she’ll come, and leave the information highway for the real highway, because this digital world has left me in the analog dust. Modern society is passing me by, and I’m okay with that. At least I have the horses and my 8-track tape collection to keep me company. People today don’t flip pages they flip phones, and reading is done on a screen not in a book or magazine. So where does that leave those of us who are struggling to keep up with the quickly shifting digital landscape? I never thought I’d see the day when I would have to rely on children to help me understand the way things work in our modern society.

“ I yell but I don’t Yelp, and I BRING IT, I DON’T BING IT!” —Butte Dawson

I’m a face looker not a Facebooker. I’m more telegram than Instagram. My text was in a book, not in a phone and my home was not a page. I don’t tweet I sleep, and I spend more time with a toothpaste tube than a Youtube. I used to have things figured out, now I need a five year old to show me how to attach a photo to an email. I don’t Digg, Fetch, or Stumbleupon, and I’ve already Reddit. If I need to find something or someone, I don’t go trying to navigate around dozens of websites when I’ve got a special book that has all of the information I need. In one book! It’s got yellow pages and a new one magically appears on your doorstep every year. How do you like them apples, Apple! I yell but I don’t Yelp, and I BRING IT, I DON’T BING IT! How many of you remember that before Google, you had to pull out


the encyclopedia to find out about something, and after you found what you were looking for, you actually pulled out some paper, grabbed a pen and wrote the information down! Before texting we passed notes, used a road atlas instead of a GPS device, and were tethered to the landline phone mounted on the kitchen wall, by a long coiling cord to the handset. If we wanted an instant photo, we bought a Polaroid camera and if we wanted to change the channel on the television we had to get up and turn the knob, or the pliers if the knob was broken off. And next to the TV we had the TV Guide not a remote control. People say that life is easier because of technology, but I think we’re losing our human touch. It’s easy to hide behind a screen rather than communicate directly with another human. We’ve given up self-esteem for selfies and hashtags have replaced games of tag. We’ve become watchers instead of doers and we photograph every moment of every day on our phones but can’t remember why. I’m not LinkedIn because I have no Pinterest. I’m negative towards Google Plus and I don’t Flickr, my porch light does. I like to read books and magazines and watch movies on big screens. I don’t chat without talking, and I look for grapes on a Vine not videos. MySpace was out behind the barn, and Tinder is what I used to start a campfire, not a relationship. I’ve been told my favorite magazine, Horse Connection, might be going the way of the digital highway instead of the paper trail. This makes me sad. How can an iPad shoo a fly away from my horse Biscuit better than a rolled up copy of Horse Connection Magazine? What am I going to read out behind the barn if I can’t get a good signal? The only signal I ever needed to read HC was the

mailman putting the red flag down on the mailbox indicating he had delivered the mail. And I’m talking about a real mailbox that holds real mail, not some inbox that spews thousands of pieces of spam out every morning that you can’t even fry up and cook. Yes kids, we used to eat Spam! Kids today will never experience the feeling of not knowing an answer to a question because you couldn’t ask Siri and you couldn’t settle an argument by looking it up on the spot. Nor will they ever know the patience it took to find a song on a cassette tape by fast-forwarding or rewinding and guessing when to stop. They don’t know that the phone used to ring and you wouldn’t know who was calling because there was no caller ID, but you were smarter back then because you had to MEMORIZE all of the phone numbers of your best friends. And, you could only get on the Internet if your mom got off the phone. I don’t want to come off sounding like a bitter old cowboy, and I hope these kids today make it, but if there is a power outage or a communications satellite goes down, that will be the end of their world as they know it, and I won’t be around to give them a ride into town on Biscuit. People say that Butte Dawson needs to embrace the 21st Century and quit whining about the “good ole’ days.” Well let me tell you this; as long as I have my horses and my back issues of Horse Connection magazine, there will always be “good ole’ days,” out behind the barn.

Amazing Sporthorses

For Sale

Please go online to view our Stallions, Sales Horses and the Farm. Ph: 303.621.8512 Fax: 303.621.8511


Equestrians Excited about the Colorado Horse Park’s New Owners A partnership led by Mark Bellissimo has bought the 148-acre Colorado Horse Park, the largest horse park west of the Mississippi. The equestrian center, founded by Helen Krieble in Parker, Colorado, in 1992, has been instrumental in making Colorado a major destination for equestrian sport in the US. The park hosts more than 40 events per year, has 11 competition arenas, 100 boarding stalls, an RV park, two covered arenas, 300 permanent stalls, and enough portable stalls for more than 1000 competing horses. It has facilities for all of the FEI disciplines. Bellissimo’s partnership is also contracted to acquire another 47 acres zoned as residential that abuts the park. The park also has a long-term contract on 276 contiguous acres which hosts a cross-country course designed by eventing Olympian David O’Connor. Bellissimo said that Krieble was one of the great visionaries in equestrian sport and had done an amazing job in creating the Colorado Horse Park. “Her passion for the facility and her impact on the

Mark Bellissimo and his partnership group will take the Colorado Horse Park into the future after acquiring the property from founder Helen Krieble. Bellissimo is best known for operating the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

community over 23 years is inspirational. We are honored to continue Helen’s legacy,” he said. Krieble, who is now in her 70s, said the park had been her passion for 23 years. “I am thrilled that Mark and his partners have contracted to acquire the Horse Park. It has been my passion for 23 years, and I am confident that it will be in good hands. It was important to me that the Horse Park was kept intact. The contract includes the purchase of an additional 47 acres that abuts the horse park. I believe this will ensure CHP has the ability to operate effectively and preserves the area from future residential development. This is a great day for Colorado equestrians, residents, and businesses.” The partnership, to be named Colorado Equestrian Partners, includes Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, Roger and Jennifer Smith, Howard and Gwen Dvorkin, Lisa Lourie, and Diana and Jenji Mercer, who are also partners in the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, which operates the world-renowned Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and the Global

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THIS 40-ACRE EQUESTRIAN ESTATE is the perfect place for horse and rider to work and play. Featuring an indoor arena with 6 stalls, hay storage, a MAIN BARN with 6 stalls and runs, wash rack, garage with RV and hay storage, rolling pastures, an outdoor arena and loafing shed. The 3-bed/3-bath ranch house features a nice 2,424 sq. ft. open floor plan with slate, hardwood, gourmet kitchen with granite, a luxurious master suite, a back deck and walkout basement. This is the equestrian lifestyle you’ve been waiting for.

35+Acre Equestrian Facility Ready For Your Horse Business THIS 35.33-ACRE EQUESTRIAN FACILITY with fenced rolling pastures has a main barn featuring 32 stalls with all the amenities, a secondary barn with 16 stalls, and the third barn has 4 stalls that can be used as a foal or stallion barn. The 210×72 indoor arena has quality footing.

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Dressage Festival (GDF) in Wellington, Florida, and the newly established Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina. Bellissimo said the partnership was excited about the future of equestrian sport, and believed the CHP facility could be a significant central hub to serve all disciplines as well as a catalyst to develop the next generation of horses and riders. “Colorado has a great equestrian tradition, and we hope to cultivate that market as well as bring new riders into the sport. We contemplate great investments in the park over the next few years and making it one of the premier facilities in the world.� Consistent with its other facilities, the partners will be developing philanthropic initiatives as well as developing outreach programs to work with community schools to raise awareness to the opportunities in horse sports.

Thanks to Helen Krieble, the Colorado Horse Park put Colorado on the map of big-time equestrian sport. Her vision led to the largest horse park west of the Mississippi and a facility capable of showcasing all of the FEI disciplines.



National Western Stock Show Soars with 682,539 Fans Attending the 2015 Show

The 2015 National Western Stock Show finished strong with the second highest overall attendance in Stock Show history with 682,539 visitors. That is an increase of 42,517 guests over the 2014 Stock Show and second highest in it’s 109 year history. “We saw records consistently broken throughout the 16 days of show and are thrilled with the great turn out of Stock Show fans these last few weeks,” said Paul Andrews, President & CEO of the National Western Stock Show. “As we look to the future development of the National Western Center, the enthusiasm is high to complete the master plan and smash records for the next 100 years.” A Great Grand Prix For Colorado Riders The stock show’s grand prix is one of the highlights of the show and is always sold out with jumper riders from all over the country competing for prize money and prestige in the only winter grand prix in the region.

Matt Cyphert and Lochinvar fly over the jump on their way to winning the 2015 $40,000 Jack Daniels Grand Prix at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. Photo by Howard Schatzberg

This year, Matt Cyphert from Justin, TX and his horse, Lochinvar, took the stock show by storm winning the $40,000 Jack Daniels Grand Prix, after winning the Gambler’s Choice the previous evening. Actually, Matt Cyphert kept this from being a Colorado sweep for the top five placings. Colorado riders Natascha Gates took third place aboard Quickie and Paul Rohrbach took fourth with Camerino.

Local Colorado rider Susan Griffis put in a superb round on her impressive horse Udine, to take second place, and her daughter Haley Griffis, took fifth place and was the highest placing amateur rider at the grand prix. Congratulations to Susan and Haley and all of the local equestrians for representing Colorado so well at this prestigious event.

Thank you to Sarah Bushong-Weeks—8th Heaven Farm $980,000 Lake Gulch Road Castle Rock, CO

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Susan Griffis from Palmer Lake, Colorado took second place aboard Udine in the $40,000 Jack Daniels Grand Prix. Photo by Howard Schatzberg

Haley Griffis placed fifth making her the highest finishing amateur rider in the grand prix. Photo by Howard Schatzberg

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Shelly Kerron and Steer Clear at the Monterey National Horse Show

SHELLY KERRON Legacy Hunters & Jumpers


hird generation equestrian Shelly Kerron is one of the most respected hunter/jumper trainers in the Northwest. She has owned and operated Legacy Hunters & Jumpers since 1984, and last year moved her operation to Little Bits


Therapeutic Riding Center’s old location in Woodinville, WA and continues to teach and train and build on her equestrian legacy. Horse Connection sat down with Shelly to talk about horses, her training philosophy, and her future.


My grandfather, Harry Kerron had one of the first riding stables in Portland in the 1920’s (The Portland Riding Academy), and he supplied horses to the cavalry and the taxi companies. Back then that was the mode of transportation so people would come to my grandfather for horses. Then my father came into the business and rode racehorses, jumpers, and western horses. He met my mother in 1963, and they opened Sunwood Farms in 1969 in Beaverton, Oregon and it was very successful. Both my parents were in the hunter jumper business and I was raised in that business. I was fortunate to go to open horse shows where I was exposed to western and gaited horses as well, so I have ridden all sorts of horses and because of that early exposure, I have a very rich background and knowledge of horses in general.


Shelly’s father, Don Kerron, rode racehorses and jumpers and in 1969, with wife Joan opened Sunwood Farms in Beaverton, Oregon.

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU ACTUALLY STARTED RIDING? I started riding at age five and started competing at age seven in the pony hunters. And back then, the pony hunters were three foot and I don’t believe we had anything lower than three foot, and the junior hunter was three foot six. There wasn’t a children’s hunter division back then so you started off jumping three foot six and went up from there.

HOW LONG DID YOU CONTINUE TO COMPETE? I’ve been competing for over 40 years. I rode one year as an amateur owner and turned professional in 1984.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT IN YOUR COMPETITIVE RIDING CAREER? I rode in the World Cups in the late 80’s and did really well. I had a great horse named Reno and I competed him many times at Spruce Meadows and did really well. I also loved qualifying and


“There was no other color to her but blue,” said Shelly about her mother, Joan Curtain, an accomplished competitor. competing back east in the indoor shows. Those are my highlights.

of my riders that they spend a lot of time practicing.



My dad and I were close as far as horsemanship skills, but I was always in awe of my mother because she was a great competitor. There was no other color to her but blue. She rode to win every single time she went into the ring.

AND YOU’VE CARRIED THAT COMPETITIVE DRIVE INTO YOUR OWN BUSINESS? I have – I’m top quality – horses, training, feed, shoeing, vet work, it’s all top quality.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY WHEN IT COMES TO RIDING? Riding is a lifetime of practice. You have to put a lot of hours in the saddle in order to develop your skills. I request


I have my students ride almost six days a week, or at least five days, and take lessons three days a week. In our barn we ride each other’s horses and this raises their skill level because they get the opportunity to ride different horses.

WHAT IS THE MOST FULFILLING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS? The most fulfilling part is watching and teaching students to have good relationships with their horses. To have good relationships whether they’re on the ground grooming them or in the show ring winning classes. I want everyone to understand the horses – how they think and feel.

WHAT’S THE LEAST FULFILLING? The least fulfilling is the struggle of getting people to take the time.


Shelly & Sea Smoke, aka Coaster, on course at the Evergreen Classic at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.

DO YOU SEE THAT STRUGGLE GETTING ANY EASIER? No, it’s getting worse because money can’t buy time and time is what it takes to perfect your skills and to develop a relationship with the horse. A relationship with horses is where my center focus is. The care of the horse is number one in my barn and what I teach and what I preach. The clients are second the horses are first.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT NOW AS OPPOSED TO 20 YEARS AGO WHEN IT COMES TO TIME COMMITMENT? Everything is faster now, cellphone, the web, texting, computers, and people are more pre-occupied. When you walk into my barn you’ll see that there is a “cell basket.” When you come to my barn as a student or a client you put your phone in the basket. There is nothing more dangerous than to be around horses and not be engaged – to be fully there, with the horse. My grandfather taught me that you come into their (the horse) time and their space, so you have to put the cellphone down.


IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HORSES HAVE TAUGHT YOU THAT TRANSLATES INTO YOUR BUSINESS MODEL? Horses have taught me to be very patient and very still, so I am patient and stay grounded in my beliefs.

WHO INSPIRES YOU? Leslie Howard, as a competitor, inspires me greatly. A lot of the older horsemen – Judy Richter is a very big inspiration to me. She is a great horseman – she was horseman of the year once.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR TOUGHEST CHALLENGE? My toughest challenge is to run a good business. My integrity is everything to me.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY? Little Bits Therapeutic Riding. They have been a benefactor of horse shows locally and I’ve been working for them for a long time. I have seen handicapped children and the difference the horses make in their lives. I have seen children that could not walk, walk!


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? My favorite book currently is Arianna Huffington’s, Thrive.

BESIDES HORSES, DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES? I love to water ski and I have my own ski boat and it is a passion I share with my brother Tom.

FAVORITE SADDLE? Antares. All of my clients ride in Antares.

WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? Chocolate ice cream.


WHERE DO YOU LIVE IN YOUR DREAMS? Right here and right now.



Trainer and World Cup competitor, Shelly Kerron comes from an equestrian family that spans three generations, with each generation making their mark on the northwest equestrian industry.




Yes, absolutely, it does take money to compete and show but it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a horse and to ride well. It doesn’t take a lot of money to take lessons and go to clinics but to go on the road and compete at horse shows takes money.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST REGRET? Not being at my nanny’s deathbed.

GREATEST FEAR? Not succeeding.



WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Winners never quit and quitters never win.

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR SHELLY? To continue the legacy and to pass it on to my sister Elizabeth, and to help her build her career. Shelly still has some


big sights and some big horse shows and grand prix to compete in. I want to continue riding competitively for another 10 to 12 years, and to pass the torch.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF HORSE SPORT IN THIS COUNTRY GOING? I feel the business is going to boom, perhaps not as fast as soccer, but I believe that if we could get some television coverage it would boom faster.


DO YOU THINK IT IS VALUABLE TO A YOUNG PERSON’S DEVELOPMENT TO BE AROUND HORSES - TO RIDE OR TO TAKE CARE OF THEM? Learning respect of the animal and the responsibility factor in feeding and caring for the animal is huge. Building a relationship with the animal – understanding what they need and valuing what they have done for this country, that is invaluable to a young person.


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Dornin Anne North and Lion Display trot up to the judges in the horse inspection during the 2008 Rolex 3-Day event.




he Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event has long been the pinnacle competition of Eventing in the U.S. It has mythic status among riders, young and old alike. West Coast rider Gina Miles tells a story of watching Rolex for the first time. She had such a strong conviction she wanted to ride there she talked the friends attending the competition with her into buying a young Irish horse. That horse was McKinlaigh and Gina not only rode him many times at Rolex, they capped their career together with a silver medal for the US at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kevin Keane, 60, is possibly the oldest amateur ever to successfully complete the Rolex CCI4*. Last year he debuted at the Four Star level on Fernhill Flutter after many years training with Phillip Dutton, while maintaining a veterinary practice serving some of the top names in the sport. Kevin relayed to Eventing Nation how he found out he would be competing at Rolex. “One of the things about

Mike Huber and Quartermaster tackle fence number 4, The Broken Bridge, during the 1990 Rolex 3-Day.

Phillip is that he has a very planned and methodical program for you. I think what happened, even months ago, was that he started introducing new dressage movements in our lessons, and I think he knew that he was pointing us for Rolex even then. I actually called his secretary the day Rolex entries closed and asked

if Phillip had mentioned anything about me competing, and she responded by letting me know that she had already sent off our entry!� I went to my first event in New Mexico in 1985 as a fence judge, not as a rider. I got so excited watching the colorfully clad riders flying over the cross-country

Kim Severson and Winsome Adante win the first of three Rolex Championship watches at the 2002 event. The pair would go on to win two more Rolex 3-Day Championships in 2004 and 2005. Severson is the only rider to win the event three times.


obstacles on keen-eyed horses I vowed to take up the sport. A year later Jazz, my little homebred paint horse, and I were competing at novice level. In 1987 I traveled to Indianapolis to watch Mike Huber of Texas ride for the U.S. team at the Pan American Games. He and Quartermaster won the individual and team gold medals. Mike often visited New Mexico to give clinics so it was thrilling to see someone I took lessons with do so well in an international competition. Meanwhile, I kept hearing about something called Rolex as another place to see top sport. The 1988 CCI3* edition of Rolex Kentucky served as the selection trial for that summer’s Seoul Olympics. Additionally, Rolex offered a CCI2* and Tom Angle of Goose Downs Farm entered his great gelding, Uncle Felton. Several of Tom’s friends went to support him, including me, and I remember walking the cross-country course with everybody and goofing around at the Giant’s Picnic Table, marveling at its size. As big as it was, I could imagine one day jumping over something like it with my horse. Less inviting was the intimidating fence 4 on course called The Broken Bridge. There was hardly enough time out of the start box to get up the steam to tackle it. You had to gallop across the bridge and take off at a very precise point to clear the palisade on the backside and not fall into the gap. One rider, Kerry Milliken, did end up in the ditch. At that point in the competition she was the leading rider on her second entry, Pirate, and desperately wanted to keep going in order to be selected for the Olympic team. However, once she had pulled off her boot she couldn’t get it back on and it was no good trying to convince the fence judge that she was okay to continue. In those days, a fall did not automatically eliminate you but a broken leg pretty much did. I came During the 2008 Rolex 3-Day, Karen O’Connor and super pony Teddy dazzled the crowd with an impressive performance. Here the pair appears to be walking on water at the Head of the Lake obstacle.



This multiple exposure image captures Lynn Symansky and No It Tissant negotiating the water, a hill and a jump in a seamless transition.


away with the impression it must take an amazing amount of passion and guts to ride for the team. The rules of the sport have changed quite a bit over the years, mostly for the good, with safety of horse and rider paramount. One rule difference in 1988 was that the stables were not off-limits to spectators and it was possible to hangout with Tom Angle to observe the care of the horses. A certain amount of watching bigname riders like Bruce Davidson, Karen O’Connor, and Karen Stives also took place. Rolex became the first CCI4* in the U.S. in 1998 and its’ prestige went up another notch. It simultaneously ran a 3* for two more years until that became a logistical problem. Another big change occurred when the so-called long format of the three-day evolved with the elimination of roads and tracks, including the steeplechase. Spectators no longer had the thrill of horses thundering over steeplechase hurdles but the horses tended to be sound at the finish of crosscountry.

Missy Ransehousen and Critical Decision during the dressage test of the 2008 3-Day Event.


Kim Severson signs a cap for a lucky fan. The event gives the fans the opportunity to meet their favorite riders up close and personal.

2002 was the year that Kim Severson won the Rolex CCI4* for the first of three times, aboard Plain Dealing Farms’ Winsome Adante. Kim and “Dan” enjoyed much international success after that, riding for the U.S. at two World Equestrian Games and at the 2004 Olympics. Dan was retired from competition in 2007 and by 2008 Kim returned to “test drive” a new ride, her own Tipperary Liadhnan. Rolex is where you go to find out just how talented a horse you have, because only the best of the best can run a Four-Star.

Kim, always popular with young fans, graciously signed hats after her dressage test on “Paddy”. In 2008 Phillip Dutton enjoyed taking home the winner’s Rolex watch, after being a bridesmaid for many years. He piloted Connaught to the win but another horse, or rather, a pony, stole their thunder. Theodore O’Connor, better known as Teddy, was the first pony to ever compete in the CCI4*. Karen O’Connor took Teddy around in 2007 to finish 3rd, with just 4.4 time faults cross-country. He then qualified for the Pan American

William Fox Pitt and Bay My Hero celebrate a championship at the 2014 Rolex 3-Day. The win tied Fox Pitt with Kim Severson for most wins with three, however Fox Pitt did it on three different horses while Severson won all three with Winsome Adante.


winner will take home $100,000, plus that coveted watch. So if you want to be inspired by seeing the greatest in the sport, and you are not opposed to doing a little shopping at one of the biggest equestrian trade fairs in the world, or you’d just like to walk around on some of that famous Kentucky bluegrass in late April and soak up the atmosphere, buy your tickets online at and get yourself to Lexington for one of the best weekends ever.

Veteran Eventer Laine Ashker, cheers on her coach, Buck Davidson in the showjumping phase of the 2014 Rolex 3-Day Event.

To see more of Evalyn Bemis’ photographs of past Rolex events, visit her website,, or check out her Instagram @evalynb1

Phillip Dutton and Connaught take a victory lap.

Games as part of the US Eventing Team, where he won the team gold and beat out several more experienced horses to also win the individual gold. By 2008 he had a huge fan club and when he returned to Rolex with Karen for another thrilling performance, they were cheered at every fence on cross-country.


2008 also happened to be the last year that a U.S. rider has taken the victory lap. The word has gotten out on the great competition that is held annually at the Kentucky Horse Park, especially with all the improvements that were made for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. The prize money isn’t shabby either. This year the

Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter clear the duck fence, one of many popular fences that make up the crosscountry course at the Kentucky Horse Park.





b l e n h e i m

e q u i s p o r t s

SHOWPARK.COM | 949.443.1841 Photo By McCool | Equestrisol Ad Design

By Marc C. Patoile Photos by Thomas Dole

“This tournament is our flagship effort to bring researchers, clinicians, patients, and the concerned community together to have a dialogue about melanoma, its effects, its treatments, and its trends.�




enver Polo Club hosted the Second A n n u a l Mallets for Melanoma on July 26th, 2014. This polo tournament was started by Dr. Tyler Vukmer, a physician at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, to benefit Colorado melanoma research, support, advocacy, and education. In an effort to pay it forward, 100% of proceeds go towards the cause, as it is operated on strictly a volunteer basis. This is a very fun, familyfriendly event with live music, local food and drinks, vendors, and of course horses, polo, and sport. The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least the last 30 years. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2% (1 in 50) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics. The risk of melanoma increases with age – the average age at the time it is found is 61. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women). Teams squared off in three divisions, starting with an arena Coaching League Cup featuring five teams. Then, on the grass, a Lieutenant Governor’s Cup was played which had USB Financial beating out Equipage Black, Dark Clouds Polo, and Equipage Pink in a round robin. Then Jennifer Luttrell Benardoni, Ruben Coscia, Ignacio Saracco, and Francisco Benardoni for Cottrell Farms ran away with the win of the USPA Governor’s Cup, over Tanweer Khan, Erica Gandomcar, Mark Wates, and Craig Russell, in the stirrups for the Denver Polo Club Team. Dr. Vukmer said, “I had some great mentors in med school that showed me

A polo pony gets a good luck kiss. The Equipage Pink Team battles it out with the Equipage Black Team during the Mallets for Melanoma charity polo tournament. 42 | SPRING 2015 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

how amazing dermatology could be. In so many cases, diseases, and conditions, the skin is the first to show noticeable signs of a problem. I loved this. It meant that someone well versed in this science could detect disease before it became apparent (often too late) to other medical specialists. I did not match into dermatology (the most difficult to obtain specialty residency in the industrialized world) straight out of residency.� So he opted to wait for one and took a position at UC Denver doing molecular research in the field of melanoma genetics. Dr. Vukmer continued to explain that while he was attending another polo fundraiser at the Denver Polo Club he developed the idea for this tournament. He said, “Given the steadily decreasing federal funding, the increasing rate of melanoma especially in the State of Colorado and the population I care so much about, I decided to address the issues head on. The idea was to do


this from a grass-roots organization to improve early detection/screening, public education and advocacy, patient understanding and community social engagement I thought we could be in the position to do some real good for the citizens of Colorado. So it started with this idea, and it spread like wild fire.”

Soon the Denver Polo Club, legislators, community activists, local doctors and local patients teamed up to spearhead this initiative. He approached the DPC because when he went to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, he was invited to try out for the polo team. Dr. Vukmer quipped, “The invite read ‘no experience needed’ which was

perfect because I had never been on a horse before.” Over the four years, he attained captaincy of his team and played against a slew of wonderful players including those that played for Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, UConn, and Cornell to name a few.

From left to right: Equipage Pink Team of Erica Gandomcar Sachs, Rebecca Patoile, Matt Hannah, and Troy Turner. Equipage Black Team of Craig Russell, Josie Vidic, Marc Patoile and Tara Vorhes Polson (not pictured). Erica and Craig also played for the DPC team in the Governor’s Cup match. 44 | SPRING 2015 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

Dr. Vukmer stated, “It is my hope that this initiative, through this tournament and our other community engagement events will benefit the people of Colorado. I just hope that the education we put out, the screenings we offer, and the legislation we support will help to decrease the number of new cases of melanoma in our state (which have been steadily rising). Melanoma is a very curable disease if caught early. So I hope our efforts improving sun protection (a known risk factor for developing this cancer) along with other preventative or early-detection strategies aid in some way to combat this trend of this deadly form of skin cancer. This tournament is our flagship effort to bring researchers, clinicians, patients, and the concerned community together to have a dialogue about melanoma, its effects, its treatments, and its trends. By doing this we hope to continue to partner with friends such as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, Genetech Pharmaceuticals, UC Denver department of Dermatology, Armada Logistics, Goetz Insurers, Klein Bundle, Sun Safe Colorado and others to reach our citizens and translate to real, measurable impact on the staggering (and overly represented) rate of melanoma in this state. This tournament helps us to bring everyone together and facilitates a conversation that is long overdue.�




Lola Michelin Director of Education and Founder of Northwest School of Animal Massage

“…at our school we focus on three different areas – maintenance of health that includes benefits such as relaxation and relief from anxiety and stress, relief from muscle tension, and improvement of the circulatory and respiratory system.” HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | SPRING 2015 | 47


he Northwest School of Animal Massage was founded in 2001 to meet a growing demand for approved training programs in canine and equine massage in the State of Washington. Headquartered on Vashon Island, just across the sound from Seattle, the NWSAM has now expanded to 15 satellite campuses across North America and attracts students from as faraway as Japan and Australia. Horse Connection sat down with founder Lola Michelin to learn about the school, about her, and to find out what is the most difficult animal to massage.

What motivated you to start NWSAM? I started out as a vet tech and studied animal science at Michigan State. During that training I learned about animal massage – specifically equine massage and then later in life when I moved to the Pacific Northwest I studied human massage. So my experience in both human and animal massage led me to start the school.

Do you specialize in equine massage? We have two programs – a small animal and a large animal program. Our student body is probably


around 60% enrolled in the small animal program, focusing on cats and dogs, and the remainder 40% on large animals, primarily horses. We also have many students that complete both programs.

Wasn’t equine massage established first, and then expanded to include dog and cat massage? Absolutely, equine massage has been around for decades and probably centuries. It became really popular in the 70’s here in the US and has since grown in popularity. Small animal massage gained a foothold in the last decade and continues to be a large growth market for the industry.

Do the students that graduate from NWSAM go on to start their own business? I do believe that the majority of our students go into private practice, but many also enter employment positions in vet clinics, animal daycare centers

or grooming salons, especially the small animal massage practitioners. The equine massage practitioners find work at racetracks, which are a very popular venue for a massage practitioner. Probably a third of our students are vet technicians who are supplementing their work with massage as well.

Is there a big difference between human and animal massage? Yes – if you have an understanding of human massage, some of that information translates over into animal massage as well. However, there are significant differences in the area of anatomy and the biomechanics of the animal. The behavior of an animal is also a factor in how it receives massage because they could be a prey animal or a predator, a pack or herd animal, so the response would vary depending on these factors. Although the benefits are often the same, how we approach them and how we apply the massage differs from animals to humans.

So the massage helps animals in much the same way it helps us? Yes, at our school we focus on three different areas – maintenance of health that includes benefits such as relaxation and relief from anxiety and stress, relief from muscle tension, and improvement of the circulatory and respiratory system. The second area is that of performance, and we specialize in techniques for athletic animals and working animals such as service or search and rescue dogs, show horses, racehorses and police horses. The third is rehabilitation therapy to help the animal recover from illness, injury and post surgical care that involves issues of confinement when recovering.

When students complete the program at NWSAM, are they then certified the way human massage practitioner are? Yes, they get a certification for each level of training completed. Some states have different criteria for certification. Here in Washington State, we have a licensing program for animal massage practitioner that is completely independent from the human massage or vet industry, so graduates of our program have to meet certain criteria here, whereas most states have no requirements for certification. However, more states are coming around to establishing guidelines for this growing industry.

The school offers programs in equine massage and small animal massage, primarily dogs. HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | SPRING 2015 | 49

How long does it take a student to become certified through NWSAM? The average student takes between four and six months to complete their first level of training. Most students usually do two levels of training and many go through all three levels that will take between a year and a year and a half.

Not trying to be funny here, but how easy can it be to massage a cat? Ha ha, that’s a great question. A lot of cats love massage. The one thing we tell our students is that the market for cat massage is different from dogs or horses because cats break up their day sleeping, grooming themselves and each other, and playing, so they’ve managed to figure out a low stress lifestyle that would reduce their need for massage as opposed to other animals. That said, cats do get injured and can need rehabilitative treatment.

What’s the most unusual animal you have ever massaged? I’ve massaged giraffes, a rhino, and large cats such as a panther so I’ve had a large range of clients to work on.

I imagine a neck massage on a giraffe must take a really long time. Yes, (laughing) we actually did a surgery on a giraffe that was at one of the zoos where I was working. We had a whole team of massage therapists working on him during the surgery – one on each leg and two working on the head and neck.

One of the most unusual animals Lola gave a massage to was a giraffe. 50 | SPRING 2015 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

Apart from the massage school, what is your involvement or connection with horses? I’ve had horses most of my life. My goal when I was young and in college was to be a veterinarian for racetrack work and my early practice was with racehorses. I primarily ride in the hunters and equitation currently, and I have a retirement facility that I run. I have ten horses at my place in various stages of retirement or rehabilitation. The group includes a retired dressage horse, my own hunter, several jumpers, a couple of miniature horses and a miniature donkey.

What is the most fulfilling part of your business? If you asked me ten years ago I would have said seeing the animals that I have worked on recover. Right now it would be hearing the stories from our graduates about their businesses and their successes.

What is the least fulfilling? The administration aspect of the business. The school has grown beyond my wildest expectations and with that comes a lot of administrative work. I don’t like to be inside at a desk.

What have horses taught you that translate into your business model?

What do you consider your toughest challenge? Helping an animal where there might be factors that can’t be changed. Also, explaining to people the validity of animal massage.

What is your favorite charity? The work we’ve been doing with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has been life changing.

Favorite book? The Power of One.

Favorite shoes? My muck boots or my riding boots.

Favorite saddle? Passier jumping saddle.

What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate and red wine.

Your partner must love horses. What else must they love besides you? Dogs and animals in general. And adventure.

Greatest regret? Not being able to go back and complete vet school. But I only regret that about five days out of the year.

Greatest fear? Being a burden to others – and spiders!

What is number one on your bucket list? To make it into a mini-prix. It used to be a grand prix, but now, a mini-prix would do.

What is your motto? The school motto is – “The future is in your hands.” My motto is – “Be the best you can, as long as you can, as safely as you can.”

Were you a wild or mild child growing up?

HC: What’s on the horizon for Lola?

I would say mild but everyone who knew me would probably say wild.

I’m excited about some new programs that we’re developing for the school in the next five years at our new campus!

Where do you live in your dreams? New Zealand, although Vashon Island is a pretty close second.

For more information on the Northwest School of Animal Massage visit http://www.

I think more than anything, they have taught me to be patient and present. To stay in the moment and work with what’s in front of you.

“Be the best you can, as long as you can, as safely as you can.” HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | SPRING 2015 | 51


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Riding New Zealand’s Rugged Backcountry By Jim Shields

Lush grass valleys and crystal clear lakes give way to stunning peaks and ridges on New Zealand’s South Island.


The horses are in excellent condition to get riders up steep slopes.

It’s 400 Kms from Lake Tekapo to Waitohi Downs Station near Hawarden in Nth Canterbury, New Zealand. Image by NASA



latter clatter clatter! I jerked awake in my sleeping bag - ”What was that and where the Hell am I’’? Coming awake I realized that this was the first day of a ride from Lake Tekapo 400 Kms to Waitohi Downs Station near Hawarden in Nth Canterbury, New Zealand. 15 of us from all over New Zealand and the USA, piled out of bed and joined Lawrie and Jenny O’Carroll and Yvonne Schuerpf in the kitchen of the sheep shearers quarters at Mt Gerald Station, Tekapo. The fire was crackling and a hot cup of tea was already brewed, and just as well, as an overnight snowfall had colored the tops of the hills and the air felt brand new and straight out of the fridge! Looking through the trees up to the cattle yards, we could see the horses eating their chaff for breakfast. Lawrie and Jenny O’Carroll are the owners of Waitohi Downs, home of Alpine Horse Safaris. Both Lawrie and Jenny have been involved with horses all their lives, and each contribute different parts of their knowledge to the smooth running of the safaris. In addition to the work on the farm, Lawrie cares for and trains the horses to make them a pleasure for people to ride, while Jenny concentrates on keeping the business side going and cooking and baking to feed those hungry mouths once the day’s riding is finished. In 1992, they launched Alpine Horse Safaris, taking guests away for rides ranging from two hours to 12 days. Lawrie’s in depth knowledge and experience of the area, gained from working throughout Canterbury, has proved invaluable for the longer safaris and Jenny’s wonderful cooking has kept the guests full of energy at all times.

Together they have over 80 years of experience of breaking, riding, training and packing horses. Their unequalled knowledge of the area and understanding of horses has been a great asset in guaranteeing guests the ‘Ultimate Ride’ on a safe and suitable mount. This trip was an accidental fulfillment of a long held dream to wander the back country of New Zealand’s South Island. Raised on a farm in Murchison’s backblocks and having spent most of a lifetime wandering bush covered hills here, in British Columbia, and Washington State as a logger, I finally had the chance to scratch this itch and see this country I had heard about from herders, hunters, fishermen and hikers. I’m no kid, but at 63 I wasn’t the oldest make believe cowboy on this trip. Sandy, a grandmother from Illinois, took the honors at 65 years young and Nelson and Basil also headed me by a year or two. With breakfast over, we rolled our swags, sleeping bags and clothes tightly and into canvas bags to go on one of the packhorses. That done we joined in to help saddle our horses, the packhorses, to weigh the swags and match them for loading, and then hoisting them onto the pack saddles. Lawrie and Yvonne kept a good eye on us and on this first morning patiently explained the finer points of why the load needed to be balanced - so it would stay even for the horse’s benefit, and not cause sore backs. Jenny had packed our food and drink into the special boxes Lawrie had designed, and we weighed them also and then onto the packhorses they went, to hang on hooks and be strapped down. We mounted our horses and settled into our comfortable stock saddles as the sun came through the clouds, heading up the slopes and ridges towards



The packhorses get some grazing in during a break.


Steep ridges are the only way to get down to the valley floor.

Stag saddle, some 5000 vertical feet above us. Alpine Horse Safaris doesn’t operate “Horsie rides.” They are in the Adventure category! A lot of the ride follows stock trails, but they also ride across native country, freelancing their way up ridges and treking crosscountry to join up the wild with the semi civilized. Lawrie has worked as a herder on many of the properties we would ride over, and knows the owners personally. He would stop at appropriate times to give a comprehensive historical and geographical and topical account of where we were and what we were looking at. This made for a really unique part of our ride. To say that I felt like a teenager as I rode “Rimu,” my horse, was only half of it. At the end of this 11 day ride I would have every confidence in these big gentle giants of horses. I would trust them as


we crossed some of the major rivers, as we climbed shingle slopes or descended steep pitches, clambering up and out of rivers or zigzagging up steep snowgrass slopes. These horses are athletes with long free strides that eat up the kilometres effortlessly without needing to break into a walk. For me, it was a thrill a minute as we crested ridges to unveil great mountain basins with views for 20 miles down to Lake Tekapo. We rode up the Godley river, the McCauley river, across to the hills of Godley Peaks Station, Lilleybank Station, and Mt Gerald Station and it wasn’t even lunch time! We crossed Stag Saddle in the snow, headed down to Royal Hut (once visited by Prince Charles and Princess Anne), and stopped for lunch and a stretch of the legs. Then it was back in the saddle and onward over Bullock Bow Saddle and down to Felt Hut, nestled in the native

bush right beside a rushing little creek with the freshest water you ever washed your face in!! Felt Hut is a herders hut, but only had eight bunks, so we pitched a couple of tents while Jenny cooked dinner over an open fire like our forefathers did. We ate, told stories, and then crawled into my sleeping bag where I slept like a baby! Alpine Horse Safaris breed their horses specifically for what they do. All of them are interchangeable and can be used as stock horses on Waitohi Downs Station, herding sheep and cattle. The younger horses are first used as packhorses, and then, as they prove their reliability, they are ridden. The question mark is the potential rider, so Lawrie and Yvonne ask for honesty in filling out their pre-ride application-form in order to know how much experience each rider has and how much weight they carry. They want you to enjoy the ride and be safe and they want the horse to enjoy it too! They do a splendid job of matching up rider to horse and as we rode along, Yvonne and Lawrie would gently coach us “greenhorns.” Not only do they coach us as we ride, Yvonne also did a comprehensive briefing about safety before we left. She told us to watch out for the horses back feet and how to handle your horse on the trail. They explained their satellite phone and tried to make every one of us feel part of the team. Lawrie has a ton of experience in the back country but this is mountain country and there is a big weather factor, so they try to make every one aware. “Stay on the horse and the horse will bring you through,” said Lawrie. It was good advice. The Rangitata was our first river crossing. Lawrie explained what we were to do and then crossed first to find the easiest way through the river so there was no need to get our feet wet if we

The horses are surefooted and that comes in handy when traversing this rugged New Zealand landscape.

Green valley in the morning, glacial peaks in the afternoon, the variety of landscape on these rides is amazing.


A break in the snow before continuing onto the ridge.



The views are breathtaking as you ride between mountains


Another ride option is the Magdalene didn’t have to. All the horses are big, strong and very dependable in the rivers, Hope Kiwi ride, taking you through but it is still exciting crossing them. I more native bush, with smaller rivers never got tired of crossing those clear, and really delightful scenery. With more valleys and wide expanses of country, cold, southern rivers! Another highlight of this trip was the ride is easier going while still having when we rode into bush country and the parts to extend and challenge you. There native birds could be seen flitting from is also a great swimming pool in the tree to tree. Fantails, tuis, bellbirds, bush Hope River. I rode with a great group of robins and many more delighted us with their markings and callings. We even experienced riders on the inaugural heard a kea at Manuka Point Station. Clarence Bluff Ride and really enjoyed it. Deer, wild pigs, hares and rabbits, were You’ll experience quite different country following the Clarence, with lots of river all seen as well on this stretch of the trip. An expected pleasure was how the crossings,some ridges to climb in order to camraderie of the group strengthened as dodge the gorges, and historical stations the days passed, and in most places you to canter through with that last beautiful could ride side by side and spend time ride down from the ridge to Bluff Station, talking with everyone as we rode. At the with the Pacific Ocean disappearing over end of the days ride, after unsaddling the horizon! This is an easier ride than the and unpacking, there would come the other two, with accommodations a little time for pouring a wine, popping a beer, more civilized, real hot showers, and or sipping hot billy tea. Then the stories shorter days with no stress, no phones, would flow, the jokes would be cracked, and no problems. One warning however; these rides are and the diversity of backgrounds, languages and slang, led to some habit forming and you’ll want to come fascinating discussions and insights into back and experienc the other rides. You’ll also form friendships with the people you your companions - and yourself! As I have been on three of the longer ride with, sitting around the fire drinking “Safaris,” I feel I can enthusiastically coffee and beer, and telling horse stories endorse the adventure rides from Alpine ‘till midnight. You have been warned! For more information on adventure rides Horse Safaris. They are not designed for someone who wants to canter around in New Zealand, visit www.alpinehorse. the flats in a tweed jacket and jodphurs,, email - but for those adults who want to see some unspoiled mountain and river valley scenery, from the back of a capable horse, and be able to camp amongst the native bush and listen for bird calls in the morning. Most people tend to put on a little weight on this adventure-you’re not going to go hungry, in fact, you might even pick up some recipes for particular goodies. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tekapo Ride, it was country I particulary wanted to see and I was delighted with it. It’s probably the most challenging ride with some New Zealand longer days, -steeper climbs, is truly a and more cross country magical place to experience from riding than the other trips. the back of a The Tekapo Ride is not for the sturdy horse. faint-hearted. HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | SPRING 2015 | 65

JO IN US IN 2015

Our Animal Massage Programs now have MORE Info... MORE Hours of Training... MORE Interaction...

NWSAM...Where the Future is in Your Hands. For more information visit or call toll free 1.877.836.3703


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From 2003 to 2009, the Grand Prix de Santa Fe was a very successful charity horse show created by equestrians Guy McElvain and Brian Gonzalez. Now, after six years without a show, the worldclass city of Santa Fe is getting ready to jump into the show ring with the newly acquired Equicenter de Santa Fe and a three week hunter / jumper show scheduled this summer from July 22nd through August 9th, with the finale being the reincarnation of the $50,000 Santa Fe Grand Prix. The original partners of the previous horse shows, Guy and Brian, are back along with Double J Management

Guy McElvain, co-founder of the Grand Prix de Santa Fe, is a grand prix rider who competes year-round from Colorado to California. Photo by Sharon McElvain


members Janet and Larry Hischer and Tim and Jodi Johnson, who together purchased the 137-acre Equicenter de Santa Fe, that was also previously known as the Santa Fe Horse Park, a popular place for local polo teams. The property was shut down and taken over by a bank in 2009, due to financial and legal problems with the owner. Brian Gonzalez approached the bank about buying the property, and the investment group closed on the property mid-January of this year. Guy McElvain is no stranger to Horse Connection, having served as an on-air event correspondent for HC’s media division, as well as competing as a grand prix rider. HC caught up with Guy between classes at HITS Thermal where he and the McElvain family are showing throughout the winter circuit. HC Congratulations on the purchase of the Equicenter de Santa Fe and the return of horse showing in Santa Fe. Did those early shows that you and Brian Gonzalez put together give you a good indication that the support would be there for a summer horse show series in Santa Fe? Guy: “Thank you and yes, the town gave us great support for those early shows, from the political side of Santa Fe to the residents , businesses and the tourists, they loved having this type of event in town. Geographically the town is really well suited for this because we’re centrally located to Texas, Colorado, Arizona and California, and when you consider how far people have to travel to horse shows, with the exception of Denver and Parker, Colorado there is really not much out there as far as shows. With the extended horse shows that we are planning, and the planned amenities you find at “A” shows, having hunters and classes for amateurs, it’s appealing to the people

because of the destination. Everybody loves Santa Fe.” HC The inaugural horse show kicks off on July 22, 2015 and will run through Aug 9 for three weeks. This follows the Colorado Horse Park’s sixweek Summer in the Rockies series. Was this your intention, to get horses and riders to show in Santa Fe after Colorado? Guy: Yeah, that show is a good draw as you know, and the Colorado Horse Park just sold so there is some renewed excitement there that the shows will continue and some relief that it will remain a horse facility, so we’re hoping that we can make it easy for people coming to Colorado to then come to Santa Fe and show before going home. I think this gives us the best chance to be successful rather than try to have our shows before the summer circuit in Colorado. We’re going to give it our best shot so we’ll see how it works. HC With Colorado Equestrian Partners LLC taking over the Colorado Horse Park and your group opening the Equicenter de Santa Fe, the southwestern US suddenly becomes a big destination for horse showing this summer. Do you know any of the Colorado partners and have you talked with them about your shows? Guy: “I don’t know of them personally but people I know speak very highly of them so I’m looking forward to getting to know them and hopefully between the two of us we can provide another alternative to summer horse showing in the United States.” HC What plans do you have to make the Equicenter’s shows enticing to draw in the out-of-staters to show? Guy: “First off, we want to take advantage of everything that Santa Fe

DE SANTA FE has to offer, and if we’re successful, to be supported by the city and the community so that the show can be a little more affordable for the exhibitor and the prize money can be a little better. We also want the show to have more for the exhibitor to do instead of the usual “cookie cutter” classes. Of course we’ll have the grand prix and the hunter derby but we want to focus on making sure that the amateur has fun because it’s the amateurs that really help drive the shows. The pros can go wherever the money is, but perhaps the amateur can come show in Santa Fe and combine it with a family vacation. Santa Fe is a great tourist destination known for the opera, fly fishing, art, golfing, spas and recreation, and those activities would be great amenities to anyone showing here. It could be more than just going to a horse show; it could be a family vacation.” HC What build-outs are underway at the Equicenter in order to get it ready for the first shows this summer? Guy: “Well, the property hasn’t been used for a while so we need to make some repairs, build more stabling, we’re going to have to put in the arenas and install modern footing, and put together the rings, so we have a lot to do. We’re going to do everything we can to make this a world-class facility and that will take steady development, which we are committed to do.” HC Will the Grand Prix ring be grass? Guy: “Yes, we’ll have all-weather footing for showing during the week, and on Sundays, Grand Prix days, we’ll run everything on the grass.”

There really isn’t a modern equestrian facility in the state. The dressage show people are really excited about this as well as the local hunter and jumper clubs. We’d like to host everything we can on the equestrian side and we’ve heard from groups that put on concert events, wine events, etc. that are excited about the possibilities of this facility. We’d love to have any and all the events we can out there.” HC Will polo still be played at the Equicenter? Guy: “Polo has and is being played there so I certainly hope it will continue – I know that the polo clubs are very excited about our involvement in the property.” HC What is your vision for the future of the Equicenter and horsesport in New Mexico and the region? Guy: “When you look at where the sport is going, it’s going to these really nice venues with world-class accommodations. We want to have world-class Grand Prix but we also want to have something for all of the amateurs. I guess what I really envision is a large summer circuit, where you don’t have to travel very far, say between Colorado and New Mexico, where you could be horse showing all summer. That’s where I’d really like to see it go. To have a few really big events to draw in the big talent, and then have a full summer circuit of “A” rated shows.” We’ve shown during the summer in Colorado but when it’s over there is nowhere else to go. And I think with Santa Fe’s elevation and cooler temperatures, we can draw equestrians from Texas and Arizona to our shows.”

Brian Gonzalez, co-founder of the Grand Prix de Santa Fe is the Master of Foxhounds for Santa Fe’s Caza Ladron Hunt. Photo by Evalyn Bemis

HC Last question, as a competitive grand prix rider and one of the largest Holsteiner breeders in the US, where do you find the time to launch this new exciting venue? Guy: (Laughing)” I’m going to do it like I do everything, with really good people. We’ve got some really good people involved with this. I’d rather be the dreamer and everyone else can do the heavy lifting. I’m sure it won’t work out that way, but that’s the way I’m hoping it will.”

HC What other disciplines or shows would you like to see at the Equicenter? Guy: “We want a facility that can accommodate any and all horse shows. HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | SPRING 2015 | 69


For several years, HC’s connection to the horse rich area of New Jersey and New York has been Robert Eaton. Robert started distributing Horse Connection magazine to horse shows around the Gladstone area as well as to prestigious shows like the Hampton Classic, starting around 2005. A lifelong horseman from Ireland, Robert has been a fixture on the horseshow circuit in the Northeast for many years, often seen at the showgrounds pulling his little red wagon filled with Horse Connection magazines. Now in his late 80’s, he’s slowing down just a little bit, but still attends horseshows when he can. We wanted to acknowledge Robert for his tireless enthusiasm for horses, showing, and our magazine. Thank you Robert, for being our Horse Connection! 70 | SPRING 2015 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

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