The Plaid Horse March 2023 - The Lifestyle Issue

Page 90



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Professor Piper Klemm, Ph.D.


Business and Bias in the Equestrian Industry

Grit, Toughness, and Contemporary Equestrian Coaching

English Riding: History, Culture, and Industry Evolution


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“I was able to obtain the knowledge of vast topics within the span of a month, that I can now apply to my future career.

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WRITE: Piper Klemm, Ph.D. 14 Mechanic St, Canton, New York 13617

CALL: 541-905-0192



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has been published since 2003. This is Piper
80th issue as Publisher since 2014. 18 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
An elegant tack room from Equine Residences. Read more about them on page 40
Plaid Horse
Congratulations , Karen Lucian , on her new horse , In Favor . Champion at Winter Equestrian Festival 2023 weeks 1, 2, 3, & 5 two goals farm, llc Specializing in Acquisition, Sales, and Training Wellington, Florida keri kampsen (310) 909-6531 • lexy reed (724) 462-4042 PHOTOS: ANNE GITTENS PHOTOGRAPHY AND SPORTFOT

Redingote coveralls in action. Read more about them on page 32

22 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Adrian Jones & Pop Up De Tamise at the newly improved HITS Ocala
2023 26 PUBLISHER’S NOTE Chapter 2: What’s Next? 32 SPOTLIGHT Redingote Equestrian’s Next Move 40 SPOTLIGHT Equine Residences: Barn Design with Passion 48 SPOTLIGHT Canadian Show Jumping Star Lexi Ray 60 VOICES I Had My Heart Horse Too Early 66 RIDERS It Happens! With Augusta Iwasaki, Jennifer Bliss, and Jay Moore 80 RIDERS The Plaid Horse Questionnaire: Holly Helbig 90 INITIATIVE The Black Stallion Reading Project 106 COVER STORY Traub Capital Partners is Brining HITS to New Heights
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 23
The Lifestyle Issue
Find our Safefit collection on

Shamrockin’ Show

March 23-26

Welcome Classic

April 12-16

Spring Classic

April 19-23

Rosé In May

May 25-28

Pumpkins & Ponies

October 12-15

Fall Classic

November 1-5

Oak Tree Classic

November 8-12

Turkey Trot & Jump

November 16-19

See You At The Paso Park!
Reserve stalls and learn more at
Paso Robles Horse Park California Central Coast


Chapter 2: What’s Next?

FOR THE BETTER PART OF a year, I’ve been looking toward what is next. The Plaid Horse inevitably mimics my journey—echoing what I am personally going through as we put each issue together. Reflected on the pages are my growth as a horseperson and a human, and that of the many people who work alongside me.

MTM Sandwich at Ledges Sporting Horses & Show Grounds

Much of my last decade has shown up in the magazine—my fear in coming back to riding, my body image struggles, my desire for inclusion and making every single person feel welcome and respected at the horse show, and how we can do better by our horses through our actions as owners, riders, and business people.

We have confronted so many things in our industry head on, and in parallel I have taken responsibility for so much in my own life. I have improved not only myself, but also my relationships, my goals, and my

accountability. Through this, I’m much less afraid. I feel much more welcome at horse shows. I’m taking ownership of my body and how it’s served me to date.

Much of the last decade has also revolved around my fear. These days, I’m less fearful when I put my foot in the stirrup. That’s not to say that fear won’t come back when starting

up the next horse, but for now, I’m comfortable.

Which leads me to spend time pondering the next chapter.

What are my goals and what do I want to tackle next, both professionally and personally? How do I make horses’ lives better? How do we make teenage girls feel more valued and confident? How

We all think we want respect, but what makes us really feel good when we go to bed at night is responsibility.
28 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Lindsay Brown, Tamara Makris, Piper Klemm, Liz Hancox, and Taylor Harris at the 20th Anniversary JustWorld Gala in Wellington, FL
Looking for a young horse? Come see our young stock or create one of your own. High quality frozen semen available Shine David Mullinix 2010


do we empower students of all ages to be vulnerable enough to learn and progress? How do we empower trainers to have the tools to run their programs with ever increasing demands and not lose out on any knowledge of horse training?

I think we accomplish all of this through a higher level of performance. Courses that ask more training questions at all levels. Difficulty that makes people feel really accomplished. I want courses that ask for balance and impulsion and not only pace, line, and distance. Kids get hungry for accomplishment by accomplishing

things, not by handing them things. We all think we want respect, but what makes us really feel good when we go to bed at night is responsibility. Responsibility for our animals, building our next generation, preserving our current generation, and caring for our elder generation. Responsibility for having the integrity to proudly learn and follow the rules. It is on all of us to create our society with the values we want.

The issue marks a turning point in e Plaid Horse to focus more on training and challenge and a reinvigoration of being there for

others and mentoring the next generation. Being an educator is not glamorous and you are rarely (or never) valued in your own time. But this is a challenge far past the world of social media and instant gratification. There’s a higher level of accountability required. It’s a path that requires no fear. And e Plaid Horse is ready.

Piper Klemm, Ph.D. TPH PUBLISHER Follow me on Instagram at @piperklemm
30 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Piper Klemm’s homebred Sugarbrook Positron Blue wins his first $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic at Ledges with Bailey Anderson and trainer Emily Elek

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32 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Connie DeMaio (left) and Allison Malenfant (right) met after their husbands became friends. They would go on to build a company giving equestrians more than just clothing


The winter wear company has expanded, acquiring FITS Riding

IT WAS ON DARK, ICY NEW JERSEY MORNINGS with nothing but bulky and cumbersome gear to fight the chill that Redingote Equestrian was born.

Connie DeMaio, a second generation horsewoman, was always surrounded by horses growing up. “It was a lifestyle. They were always in our backyard, we were always at racetracks, we were always taking lessons, horse showing,” she tells The Plaid Horse. “It’s been my whole life.”

Suffering through cold barn mornings and feedings at night, DeMaio dreamed of a solution that not only helped her keep warm, but was functional to move, work and ride.

“I would just wear this old coverall. I went home one day and thought, ‘I think I can make something like this for riders and for women and make it better,” she says. “That’s how the business started. It grew out of need. I never throught I would own an equestrian apparel business.”

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 33
FITS Riding has been a company for more than 20 years. Now DeMaio and Malenfant are at the helm

Enter Allison Malenfant.

“Before Redingote, I was working in the fashion industry, specifically athletic apparel,” says Malenfant, who focused on product development and merchandising.

After developing SoulCycle’s in-house private label fitness line, Malenfant met DeMaio.

“We met through our husbands,” says Malenfant. “We started hanging out, going on double dates and I found out Connie was a trainer and I had always wanted to learn to ride. I said, ‘Oh gosh, this is a sign!’”

It was kismet. Malenfant came

and took lessons from DeMaio and her time in the saddle fostered their friendship. Soon DeMaio shared her ideas for Redingote with Malenfant, and the two hit the ground running.

“There’s so many different fields that you can go into from the horse industry,” says DeMaio. “Growing up in this industry, you always feel like, ‘Okay I’m going to be a trainer, a vet, an Olympian’. There’s always many people who point you in those directions. Meanwhile, you can have an idea and create a whole business out of it that goes into the horse industry.”

Redingote grew by word-of-barn. When one rider at a barn discovered Redingote, the praises would echo out across the aisle and stall doors. Sales grew as riders within the barn wanted in on the outerwear phenomenon developed specifically for them. The company began with their signature coverall, then grew

34 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
DeMaio came up with the idea for a coverall specifically for equestrian women

to provide rain gear, and a new winter bib and jacket set that flew off the shelves. Inventory was eagerly purchased by cold equestrians having to ride out rugged winters with clothing previously designed for nonriders.


Now, Redingote is expanding. Gearing up for the next year, the company will have new spring and fall outerwear options and a kids’ coverall. In addition, Malenfant and DeMaio are ready to infuse another brand with their connected

equestrian perspective.

“We’ve been building Redingote for five years, and we’ve established quite a following across so many disciplines,” says Malenfant. “It’s been an amazing process and journey. Redingote is very outerwear focused for the most part, and we felt like being in the industry and being people who use these products everyday, we really wanted to grow into more apparel like tops and bottoms, maybe show apparel, some school apparel.”

In late summer of 2022, the business partners found out that


CONNIE D e MAIO is a professional rider and trainer. A second-generation horsewoman, DeMaio grew up showing in the hunter/jumper rings. She’s taught at several show barns throughout New York and New Jersey and has her own private facility at her home in Colts Neck, NJ.

ALLISON MALENFANT is a retail merchant and product developer. She’s worked with several New York brands to develop their active and lifestyle clothing lines. She started riding in 2015 and hasn’t looked back, enjoying taking lessons, trail riding, hunter paces, and fox hunting.

“I would just wear this old coverall. I went home one day and thought, ‘I think I can make something like this for riders and for women and make it better ... That’s how the business started. It grew out of need.”
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 35

FITS Riding was coming up for sale, and they jumped at the opportunity to claim the longstanding equestrian clothing company.

“It was a really amazing opportunity for us to break into these new categories and parts of the business we really want to touch,” Malenfant says.

“We always wanted to put our spin on breeches and tops,” says DeMaio. “FITS is already such a recognizable brand, and we recognized that this acquisition would help us do that. It was sort of funny because when we talked to the original founder, she launched

clothes that look great, and we love putting our new spin on riding clothes, but at the end of the day it’s about function in the tack. The products need to perform and need to be developed by people who live this sport every day,” says Malenfant.

DeMaio has twelve horses, and Malenfant is almost always there helping take care of them. That means cold winter feedings before the sun, and night checks in freezing temperatures. They live it, every day.

“It’s an item of clothing, but it's something so empowering to give to women. This lifestyle is hard. It’s a lot

her breeches because she wanted something that was better than what was in the industry and something that fit her body correctly and made her feel good while she was riding. And that was the same story we had with Redingote.”

“We wanted to make something that makes us feel good as women. We wanted to make sure that we had a women’s coverall that fit us correctly and got everything we needed. So now, having both companies that started the same way, has been really, really cool.”

No matter the business venture, DeMaio and Malenfant pride themselves on being connected to the industry personally, holding their love of horses and the lifestyle that comes with it, paramount.

“We love fashion and making

of time outside, in harsh conditions and the horses always come first, for everyone. You do what you have to do,” Malenfant says. “Being able to provide something that makes it comfortable for people to get up and go outside early in the morning and make their lives easier, I feel like we’re giving people that. I feel that way because that’s what we experience every day.”

“I love this industry so much,” says DeMaio. “Allison and I go to trade shows all the time together and we’re telling our story and people find out that we’re the owners and a lot of them are like, ‘That’s awesome!’ They just respect you so much more. It’s been such a great ride, everyone giving us a chance and now using what we’ve made in their everyday lives has been amazing.”

“We love fashion and making clothes that look great, and we love putting our new spin on riding clothes, but at the end of the day it’s about function in the tack.”
36 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

FITS Riding breeches began from one rider’s idea to make comfortable riding gear women felt good in. DeMaio (left) and Malenfant (right) look forward to adding more outerwear options to Redingote and professional riding attire and apparel to FITS Riding, keeping functionality in mind every step of the way

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 37






Turning a passion for horses into a barn-designing career

40 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

ANDREA KNOWLES was like so many horse girls who were practically born wanting to ride.

Her parents bought her first pony at age seven, and she rode at a local barn near her hometown in northern California. “I rode jumpers all through college, but stopped when real life kicked in,” Knowles says. She began a career in interior design after college but she always missed horses. “You want to get back into riding and competing, but it’s hard knowing the time for that is limited when you run a business and have a family,” she says.

Despite her busy schedule, Knowles began her search for a new horse. But when she would visit the barns while horse shopping, she noticed elements

PHOTOS: NICOLE LIEBOWITZ Andrea Knowles is the founder and owner of Equine Residences, a full-service company designing barns for equestrians as well as redesigning and renovating existing ones and even helping clients in finding the perfect property
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 41


in some of the equestrian facilities that could use improvement

“Most architects aren’t necessarily equestrian-focused, but if you’re designing a barn, you really need to know the horse world,” Knowles says. “I realized there was a real niche that needed to be filled here. I really got into the foundation of what makes horses healthy and happy, and started working on a concept barn.”

That’s when Knowles began building a business called Equine Residences, designing barns for equestrians. Equine Residences is a now full-service company and even helps its clients early on in the process to assist in finding the perfect property if they don’t have one already. They also re-design and renovate existing equestrian facilities. After a property is selected, Knowles and her team conduct a thorough evaluation of the land and design the entire barn, pastures, and arenas from the ground up. Knowles has built relationships with vendors in the field and keeps up with all that’s going on in the equine world. Having Equine Residences design the spaces and layouts of their clients’ barns means things are where they should be. Where tack rooms, cross ties and wash stalls are located is more important than many realize.

Knowles says she starts by creating a master plan for the site, looking for things like where the best airflow on the property is, or where water access is located, and then placing the barn, arena, and pastures in spots that best utilize the land. “It’s important to note where I’m putting horse pastures for turnout versus where the arena is located (so I’m not putting those too close together). I’m always thinking like a rider and what would be important to me.”


The number one consideration for Knowles is the horse care. “Show barns don’t always necessarily need a ton of turnout space, since they are getting exercised and are competing during the day. Maybe they don’t have as many bucks to get out, but the horse owners still want to have pastures and

paddocks while making the best use of their space. However, they may instead want somewhere where the horses can relax during the day, so, for example, we may consider doing larger stalls and a runout,” Knowles says. Equine Residences is always looking at the individual horses, what would be best for them, and what would make them happy.

“Making things easier and quicker for barn staff or owners is also important when working with the horses,” Knowles says. Things like the flooring you choose may seem simple, but if it

just looks pretty but is impossible to clean, it’s not very efficient. Knowles looks for the flooring that’s easier to clean and lasts a long time.

“Little design changes can help reduce the steps barn staff have to take to keep barns clean and sanitary. Things like looking into auto-manure removal may help by reducing barn staff hours or horse owners’ time spent cleaning. This will help them have more time for things like riding or spending more time with the horses,” Knowles says. Long term solutions for helping manage

42 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
“Most architects aren’t necessarily equestrian-focused, but if you’re designing a barn, you really need to know the horse world.”
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 43
A board-form concrete barn with 14' x 14' stalls with “windows” between stalls for horses to socialize and a second story for guest or grooms apartments and storage

horse waste is also a priority in the design phase and can really help keep equestrian facilities looking their best, even years in the future.

“Everything in a barn should easily be hosed down and cleaned. The cleaner the barn, the less likely the horses are to get sick as well,” Knowles says.

The Equine Residences team look into high-end finish work for projects, but also keep clients mindful of how much they are spending on each item.

“It’s nice to have round corners in the pastures and it’s organically good for the horses, but I think getting too organic with the shape might not be good for your budget. Sometimes spending more on a really good waterer than a funny

shape in a pasture might be better, and something I remind my clients of. I ask myself how would I want my horses treated at that particular barn.”

Housing is also an important factor when you have people living on site at equestrian facilities. “I love the idea of putting a staff apartment on the second floor in a barn for example,” Knowles says. “There are ways to make that work and still keep things like fire safety or city permitting in mind. All these things are doable and don’t have to cost too much.”


“A bio-security focus is very important to me when designing barns, especially

“Clients are always focused on making the horses comfortable during the design process, but we also want to make sure the people’s needs are taken care of, too.”
44 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
The entrance to the indoor arena

because of the recent herpes outbreak and how traumatic that was for horse owners. Horses were stuck at Thermal because there wasn’t bio-security in their own barn to bring their horses back home,” Knowles says. “We can make a bio-secure stall or stalls in a barn to prevent the spread of outbreaks in the future.”

When it comes to designing equestrian facilities, Knowles says she has found that while people are eager to make sure every detail of their horses’ health and wellbeing are taken into consideration, spaces designed with the owner and rider in mind are sometimes more of an afterthought.

“Clients are always focused on making the horses comfortable during the design process, but we also want to make sure the people’s needs are taken care of, too. People spend a lot of time in the barn and we love being in the barn. Focusing on tack room or lounge spaces and making those spaces somewhere you really want to hang out, that’s something we see missing quite often.”

Tack rooms are especially important, and that importance is often overlooked.

“Tack rooms that look less like a locker room and that are more aesthetically finished are important to me,” Knowles says. “Things like having a sink installed or cabinets on the walls are some things we like to implement. We also think adding touches like using outdoor rugs and fabrics because they are easy to clean and readily available are both practical and add to the space. Organizing solutions within a tack room are extremely important and overlooked. We consider things like saddle pad storage, blanket drying solutions, and keeping items so they are aired out in the way they should be, and then designing saddle racks for that purpose, as well.”

The overarching goal for Equine Residences when designing equestrian facilities is to find the best solutions in a new or existing space to give clients beautiful, healthier barns.

To learn more about Equine Residences, visit

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 45
Tack rooms featuring areas for social gatherings, indoor/outdoor rugs and fabrics plus ample organization and storage space

Wading through weekend emails, or wowing clients over lunch, you style a “power outfit” that works just as hard as you do—and make it look easy.

Style your week with EQL by Kerrits

Lifestyle apparel designed by the women at Kerrits to be your daily spark of equine-inspired joy


Whether you’re squeezing in an early morning riding lesson before work, or dropping off a check for the vet, you can be work-ready in five minutes flat. A simple change into crops and a camp shirt, and you’re back in business. With an equine-inspired wardrobe, everyday tasks never felt so extraordinary.

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EQL In Motion Jacket
Rolled Cuff Shirt
EQL Embroidered EQ Stripe Top EQL Good Luck Horseshoe Necklace


It’s date night at the winery, but you have a couple client meetings first. Time for flowy fabrics, playful prints, and equine-inspired jewelry. Swapping your heels for sneakers and tying a quick knot in your tailored top, you uncork a fresh look that takes you from business casual to confidently cool.

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SCENIC Saturdays

Freedom is calling, and you’re taking the wheel. Your favorite leggings and a super-soft, sustainable cotton tank help workweek worries melt away, as emotive equine graphics help you reconnect with your deepest passions.


You’re getting a half-day head start on your weekend at the lake, so you pull on comfy jeans with generous stretch, a drapey tank, and a light sweater. You look put together on your morning Zoom meetings, then hit the road in cool comfort.

You’re home again and settling back into a routine. The snuggly pointelle sweater you wore on the drive back goes right to work watering the garden and starting a load of laundry. Between tasks, you take a few minutes for yourself, unrolling your yoga mat for a mental reset before another busy week begins.

EQL Free and Easy EcoVero Tank EQL Mesh Cocoon Sweater EQL Graceful Horse Tank EQL Daybreak 3/4 Legging EQL Chevron Pointelle Sweater EQL Roam Legging EQL Tencel Rolled Cuff Shirt EQL Catalina Maxi Skirt EQL Soft Touch Button Up Shirt EQL Farrier’s Necklace EQL On the Go Stretch Crop Pant


ON THE ROAD TO AN OLYMPIC DREAM, there’s nothing more important than taking the very best care of your partners.

It’s a tenet that rising show jumping star Lexi Ray lives by, and she is the first to tell you that she trusts her instincts with the horses and always tries to do what’s best for them.

“I love the horses first,” Ray tells The Plaid Horse. “I manage every aspect of their day, such as visits from farriers, veterinarians, and physiotherapists. I take pride in creating a program that I think is best suited to each one of my horses individually.”

Ray, 23, shows in both her home country of Canada and all over the United States. She’s made a place for herself in the Grand Prix ring in the States and has set her sights on competing at the 5* level and making an Olympic bid as well.

WORDS: SARAH WELK BAYNUM FROM LEFT: Jana van D’abdijhoeve at Miami Beach LGCT, Rocca R.T. Old at WEF, Cara 199 at WEF, Jewel 8 at Deeridge
48 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
“I Love the Horses First”

But as a kid growing up in Canada, Ray was dabbling in several other sports before she found horses. Growing up in a non-equestrian family, she tested out lots of different activities but nothing seemed to stick. Until she attended a weeklong horse camp, and then there was no looking back. Ray had caught the horse bug and once her family realized that it would not be a fleeting hobby, they supported Ray’s passion by purchasing a small stable.

Ray excelled as a junior rider while training at Chris Delia Stables in Burlington, Ontario. She made backto-back appearances at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) and was the Doug Hood Leading Equitation Rider at 14 amongst 18-year-olds. She spent seven years training with Delia and found lots of show ring

success, ultimately making her Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) debut in 2016. She balanced school and horses through high school and college, graduating from Western University in London, Ontario, majoring in Media, Information, & Technoculture.

Then Ray decided to look for a horse that could help her reach her 1.50 meter Grand Prix level goals. In February of 2017, she found Acita 4, a ten-year-old Holsteiner mare (Acolord x Calando I). Together, Ray and Acita 4 reached top ten rankings in Canada, competing in events like the Young Canadian Talent $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Team Event at WEF in January of 2020.

Ray now rides with John Roche of JR Show Stables and last summer and fall, she rode Lukaku VD Bisschop to consistent top twenty-five finishes in CSI2* competitions in their native

PHOTOS: SPORTFOT (TOP); BACSO X MACKENZIE CLARK SPOTLIGHT Lukaku Vd Bisschop (right) after winning the High Amateur Classic at WEF, and Jewel 8 (below) at the Royal Winter Fair
“I take pride in creating a program that I think is best suited to each one of my horses individually.”
50 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

Ontario as well as at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where she was second in the U25. Additionally, Ray won the U25 in Spruce Meadows and a 2* in Bourg-en-Bresse, France during her European tour.

This winter in Wellington, Ray’s got five horses on the circuit, including three mares: Cara 199, Rocca R.T., and Evita. During the first few weeks of competition this year, Rocca R.T. went clear and placed well in the International Ring, and Evita jumped clear as well.

At the end of January, her Lukaku VD Bisschop jumped clear in the U25 Welcome class. Ray was 12th in the Wellington CSI2* with Rocca R.T., and ranked amongst the top twenty-five riders recently in Wellington as well.

Ray and Lukaku VD Bisschop also won the High Amateur Owner Jumper classic and were champion at Fidelity Investments WEF 5 CSI5*/CSI2*.

“I’m really grateful to work with John, and I feel like we make a great team,” Ray says of Roche. “We both want what’s best for the horses and we are both very competitive.”

Ray was recently named to the Show Plus Northern Lights Major League Show Jumping team and, looking ahead, she hopes to move her two young horses up to FEI classes, with 5* and Olympic goals in her sights. And that’s all without ever losing touch with her foundational goal.

“The horses are everything to me,” she says. “And I would do anything for them.”




Illotte (Han)


Santa Fee







San Fernando



Utrillo van de

Quintana van den Bosrand

Lys de Darmen



Corrado I

Urte I


Fatima van de Heffinck

Et Hop


Porche de Bornival


“The horses are everything to me and I would do anything for them.” —LEXI RAY
Mr. Blue (KWPN) Heffinck v’t Steentje Lukaku van den
Plot Blue
Celsa van de Dreef (BWP) •
• 2011 Belgian Warmblood Gelding • NUMBER OF FEI STARTS: 79 52 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 53 Breeches 866.430.4354 telephone 866.866.5050 fax LADIES SUN SHIRTS #68574 COLORS Black & Brown SIZES XS to 2X MERYL ACTIVE KNEE PATCH BREECHES #647036 Ladies Contrast KP Breech in stretch fabric. Breathable & moisture wicking fabric. Euro Seat, Mesh Socks. COLORS Black, Tan, Burgundy, Rust, Gray, Plum, Navy, Indigo Blue & Olive SIZES 24 to 36 RHC_Breechs-AD-8x10_Feb2023-fin.indd 1 2/10/23 12:12 PM

It’s in the bag. Equestrian style?

Oughton returns with an elegant line of timeless, heirloomquality bags designed to elevate the way you carry yourself

Well-known and favored by the elevated equestrian, Oughton (pronounced “out-in”) combines subtle, in-the know equestrian detailing, patented halter hardware, and luxury materials that only become more beautiful with time. The brand started with a single, bespoke rolling tack trunk, handcrafted in Argentina from waxed canvas, leather, and halter fittings. Fifteen years later, it has expanded into a line of luxury leather handbags that reflects the rich textures and deep-rooted values of a life lived with horses.


Only equestrians will spot the subtle design details within every piece: the graceful curve of the saddle flap on the Paddock Lux Shoulder Bag (left), the eyecatching girth roller buckles on the Half Halt Handbag (above), and the patented halter hardware on the Derby Work Tote (right). Find these styles at or at select local tack stores.

equestrian luxury WITHIN REACH

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Good listeners can tune out distractions. They pick up the things said around the barn, in other lessons, between the trainer and the grooms, between the vets and carriers. Good listeners learn to pay attention to what is being said and not being said. This applies to the horses, who don’t talk in words, but have so much to tell us. Good listeners pay attention to how their horse is feeling. They know when he is calm and happy, or nervous and upset.



Bravery is trickier to define. Not everyone is inherently brave. Some people are brave until something goes wrong. Others ride like they are infallible. But to me, bravery is the willingness to keep trying—to keep stretching. To do the hard things even when you think you can’t. To trust the people around you to just do it. You might fail. You might fall. But that is how we grow and learn. It’s ok to be scared, but that fear doesn’t go away by not doing it.



IGOT MY HORSE of a lifetime very early in my career. When I was 18, I had just turned professional and was campaigning my first green horse, Little Manhatten. I had another trainer tell me the same sentiment as above. He said, “You’re right. He is your heart horse. And unfortunately, you got him too early in your career.”

At the time, I didn’t understand. In my head, I was incredibly lucky and grateful. At 18, I had the privilege of qualifying, competing, and ribboning at Devon, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and the National Horse Show in Kentucky. I won International Hunter Derbies and attended Derby Finals for multiple years after. My first year as a

When the horse of a lifetime shows up sooner than you expected
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March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 61

professional, I finished the year with a USEF Horse of the Year in the 3'9" greens. And later, I was able to say I took a horse from his first show in the 2'6" baby greens, all the way to the High Performance. To me, there was no such thing as having that horse too early. He didn’t just launch my career. He skyrocketed it.

The little red dragon known as “Nikko” in the barn was a tiny fireball with a heart bigger than any I have known in my career thus far. He thought he was 17 hands, even though he was only 15.2. He was opinionated, hot, and could double add like a short stirrup pony as easily as he could leave out strides. When he started his career in the baby greens, no one thought he would jump the jumps he would one day conquer. Today, I still have people come up to me saying they remember him and miss watching him go. I say, “I know. I miss him too.”

I have learned that the climb to the top with the right partner wasn’t the hard part. It’s the descent back down without them. I had no way of preparing for when we got the call that the second colic surgery had failed.

I’m prefacing these next thoughts by saying that I love my job, and I’m lucky to be able to do what I do with clients who trust the program and invest wholeheartedly in our farm’s training and care. That being said, there is an ugly truth that comes with losing your partner that you can’t brace yourself for and that no one talks about.

I have been jealous. And I know the jealousy is unfair, but as much as I pretend it’s not there, I can’t un-feel it. I get jealous when I see other riders with the same horses doing the same big classes year after year and I wonder why I didn’t get to have that with mine.

I have jumped a lot of 3' green courses. Now, one of my all-time favorite things about my profession is the development of young horses and bringing the babies through the ranks. And I do feel blessed to look back and see the quality of our young horses increasing year after year. That being said, spending my weeks starting over in the 3' green ring while watching fellow professionals I used to show with in the international ring took its toll emotionally for the first few years.

I have been back to Devon and Indoors since my time with Nikko, but I have been back there on the ground coaching more

than I’ve been in the saddle. Every time I’m at that stage on my own two feet, I watch and I learn. And I also secretly yearn to be the one back in the ring. And I wonder what it would’ve been like to have one more year, or five more years, with him.

And I think about my own education and what I know now and what I didn’t know at 18. And I wish I had the chance to ride those courses with the tools I’ve garnered over the years without him because I know there are things I could’ve done different and better.

Now at 26 years old, I can look back and say I have spent four years chasing that high I had from 18 to 22 as a newly minted professional rider with a horse that could

jump the moon. Four years trying to find and rebuild that partnership. Four years of training young horses for clients, and myself, to bring them as far as they can. I have yet to find that next international partner that is mine. I came close, once. Until the dreaded “S” word (suspensory) set that partner out for a full calendar year. He is just now making his return to the show ring.

And it wasn’t when I won an International Derby for the first time in years in 2021 that finally made me look back and write these words down. It wasn’t when my 3'6" green for this year, Selwyn or “Noodle”, won the Regional National Derby Final last summer. It


was when that same horse earlier this week put his nose on my shoulder, and held it against my neck as I walked him into the barn after a hack. His nose on my shoulder was the same gesture that Nikko was known for in our barn—every jog, every course walk, that little horse followed beside me, nose on my shoulder.

And this week, when Noodle reminded me of my heart horse, I also realized how acutely unaware Noodle was of the pressures I had on both him and myself to get back to that stage my 18-year-old self once jumped on. And how entirely unfair that was to him. He didn’t know Nikko, or the jumps he had jumped, or how his nose used to rest on the same

spot on my neck. To Noodle, he’s just accepted his life as my new friend and finally started to tolerate “the art of the selfie” and recently got introduced to bareback rides. But even if Noodle does one day jump those same jumps Nikko did, it’ll always be in his shadow. Because my heart horse jumped them first.

I starting having these conversations with one of my clients. And her response was simple—how could you have had Nikko “too early?” Didn’t he make you into what you are now? And professionally speaking, she’s absolutely right. Nikko took my name from junior catch rider to young professional in a single year. And when this particular client admitted that

the videos of us together on those kind of national stages are what first drew her to our barn, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the time I did have with him.

Even still, through the emotional weight of having my name on a derby scoreboard without his, of first coming home from the vet clinic and seeing his pictures on my bedroom wall in what used to be a monument but was suddenly a shrine, of never fully believing in an afterlife but finding myself wishing there was one because I just wanted to pet him again, I have now learned that weight changes over the years passed, but it never fully lifts.

And maybe that’s not the worst thing. Maybe because of that weight, I’ll be able to hold onto the memories, since I’ll remember what they feel like. Because of Nikko, I know what a true partnership is. Through him, I know what those ten extra handy points cost because I once gained them through inside turns I only had to glance at before we slipped inside. I know what night check with Banamine paste and an apple bit cleanly in half tastes like, because Nikko was good at sharing a few bites. And I know what it’s like to victory gallop with a rainbow of different colored ribbons on your bridle, just as well as I remember thinking that right-to-left lead changes were going to be the death of us in the baby green division. Nikko always landed right.

And whether it’s with Noodle that I one day get to say, “This is my derby horse,” or if it’s the next baby we bring along, or a new one years down the road, maybe that weight on my heart means I’ll never forget the horse that has mine.

The next one just has to live up to him.

“When this particular client admitted that the videos of us together on those kind of national stages are what first drew her to our barn, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the time I did have with him.”
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 63


I’ve shown alongside Traci and Carleton for many years and have seen firsthand how they always put the horse first. That system produces happy, healthy animals, along with fulfilled riders and impressive horse show victories. Anyone who rides will learn so much from them by reading With Purpose. —Leslie Steele


It Happens!

We all make mistakes. But horse people, as a group, aren’t always the best at handling them. So TPH reached out to some top riders to share their own show ring bloopers to prove, once and for all, that mistakes really do happen to the best of us!


I was showing in the Dudley Smith Equitation Championship at GLEF, and I was really on it all day. I was coming back in second for the test—it was me and Taylor Madden who was actually going to be my big sister at SMU for the upcoming year. We were testing, and I completely forgot to halt. I was so on it, and we got up to the test and just short circuited. I guess it’s relatable!”


At WEF many years ago, I had just gotten Poker Face. He was young and a bit shy and sensitive in the barn. His groom and I were constantly giving him treats to try to win him over.

It was his first time showing in the Pre-Greens, in Ring 6. I jumped the first jump and was cantering past the in-gate, looking to turn to a diagonal line off the left lead. I wasn’t even aware that his groom was standing right there, I was just focusing on getting to the next jump. All of a sudden, Pokey was at a standstill at the end of the ring, with his head over the little hedge, looking to his groom for a treat.

It happened so fast and was so embarrassing. I felt like a Short Stirrup rider on a small pony. I made a circle and finished the course… but we did ease up on the treats for a while!”

Hear more It Happens moments on the #Plaidcast at
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When I was 9 years old, I was showing my 4-year-old pony at a cold winter show at Ox Ridge Hunt Club. The facility did not have an indoor warm up ring so we were warming up outside. My pony decided she was going to let us all know how she felt about being in the cold. All of a sudden, she put her head between her knees and turned into a bucking bronco. I had already learned from her that the only thing to do was let the reins slip through my fingers and hold onto the buckle, leaning back until she decides she is done. I think we went two or three times around the entire ring, all while every professional was looking on in horror. All I could do was laugh because I knew exactly how to deal with this. I think we took years off of everyone’s lives, but I am forever grateful that she taught me how to deal with naughty ponies at such a young age.”

At our IEA Zone 4 Region 12 Finals. I was schooling and prepping one of our open horses, Kola (Mr. Deliberate). Super fun horse.

So, I was starting to jump Kola around. Land from the first jump and, ‘pop!’ goes my right stirrup leather. Like it just literally snapped. No biggie, got off and replaced it. Then, landing from the fifth jump…guess what? The left stirrup leather snaps. At this point I am two for two with stirrup leathers. I wasn’t lucky. Kola went right and, well, you can say I exited stage left.

I was totally fine. Just a smidge embarrassed from falling off in front of my peeps, clients, and random people. It’s definitely my favorite oops moment of the year!”

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 67

Your barn is the setting of your horse’s story. We ensure every ride, every bath, every moment is a chapter to remember.

Your barn is the setting of your horse’s story. We ensure every ride, every bath, every moment is a chapter to remember.

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USET Foundation’s U.S. Show Jumping Pathway Programs Reception

The USET Foundation, Kristi Mitchem, and Tom Mawhinney host reception

U.S. SHOW JUMPING Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Chef d’Equipe for the U.S. Show Jumping Development program Anne Kursinski, and US Equestrian (USEF) Managing Director of U.S. Show Jumping Lizzy Chesson led conversations about the U.S. Show Jumping High Performance Pathway Programs to inform young jumping athletes and their parents about the opportunities available to them.

PHOTO GALLERY 1 Augusta Iwasaki, Caroline Mahwhinney, Mimi Gochman, and Mia Albelo • 2 Carly Anthony, Coco Fath, Elizabeth Fath, USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Jenkins, Robin Parsky, event host Kristi Mitchem, and Carol Bonnie • 3 Olympic show jumping silver medalist and Chef d’Equipe for the U.S. Show Jumping Development program Anne Kursinski • 4 Caroline Mawhinney 5 Olympic show jumping gold medalist Beezie Madden PHOTOS: JUMP MEDIA TRIPLE M FARM, WELLINGTON, FL • JANUARY 20, 2023
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7 8
Alexis Kletjian
8 Young jumping athletes and their parents learned about the U.S. Show Jumping High Performance Pathway Programs that will assist in their development and trajectory toward representing the U.S. on the greatest international stages • 9 Erin Gibbs, U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, and Dominic Gibbs 6 USEF Managing Director of U.S. Show Jumping Lizzy Chesson 7 U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland • • (224) 318-5445

Applications Now Open for 2023 Higher Learning Scholarship

Open to high school seniors graduating in 2023 and all current college and trade school students, the scholarship has awarded over $15,000 to students pursuing higher education.

DEADLINE: March 31, 2023

To apply, visit


Reprinted with permission from the author

“I SPOKE with Prairie,” Mo said over the phone. “She wants to take a couple of hundred horses.”

“That’s unbelievable,” I said, nearly jumping up and down in the hallway of my Long Island stables. “We have to see the land. Find out if there’s running water, if it’s fenced...”

I reeled through a list of thoughts and questions as I marched into my office, ready to try and find satellite imagery of Prairie’s land. I wanted to act fast so as not to lose this opportunity. This could be the lead I needed to finally accomplish my goal of releasing wild horses on native lands. It wasn’t only a dream. It was my purpose and my job to change the fate and destiny of these wild horses and our environment.

My plan was to adopt as many horses as I could from the BLM to get them out of the holding pens where they were living these trapped and unnatural lives and rewild them; set them free.

Our foundation would handle the adoption process, and someone like Prairie would then host the horses on her land. Our foundation would then help the locals to create healing and teaching programs for the community around these wild horses that were now working to revitalize the lands.

Adopting a wild horse is a big deal

for anyone, but especially for me, with a publicly facing foundation with alliances with politicians and celebrities. It was my lifelong goal to rewild horses and lands, but I was still not one to rush into this without thinking through the details— even though I’d already waited over a decade. There was always something new to consider on all fronts.

Through my connections with Steve Israel, a New York State Congressman, I’d been introduced to some BLM higher-ups. I knew about the general adoption process, but it got a bit more

74 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

stringent when one asked for dozens of horses. Steve advised me on the do’s and don’ts. “Never ask the BLM to pay for the shipping,” Steve told me on a visit to my Long Island farm, as he walked my horse Rusty around the meadow. Steve had visited my farm a few times and grown quite close to Rusty. “Make it as easy as you can for them to say yes and want to work with you.”

He gave Rusty a pat on the neck and stroked his white nose. A chestnut colored horse, Rusty was one of our show horses and as sweet as can be. On my Long Island farm, I had a number of horses, including a few rescues.

A newly anointed horse lover and advocate, Steve had served as a Congressman for 16 years, so he knew a thing or two about politics. I had met him in 2015 at the Hampton

U.S. federal tax dollars.

According to The Wild FreeRoaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. They contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this, they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

This act also put the BLM in charge of managing these wild horse herds. The BLM maintains that they oversee these horses for their health

Classic, a prestigious annual equestrian sporting event on Long Island. He was participating in a panel discussion for the ASPCA fighting against horse slaughter alongside Georgina Bloomberg and several organizations, including mine. We hit it off immediately. When you start to get to know Washington, you quickly figure out the key players who are pro- animal, pro-horse, and approachable. Steve was one of them.

There were plenty of choices for horses to adopt, too many. In the early 1900s, roughly 2,000,000 wild horses roamed the U.S. freely. Today, there are around 67,000 with another 70,000 in these BLM government holding facilities. Most people are unaware that almost 120,000,000 of their U.S. federal tax dollars every year are going to a program that rounds up wild horses by helicopter and warehouses them in corrals and pastures—sometimes for three or four years and sometimes for the remainder of their lives—all using

and well-being and the management of the public lands these horses call home––not for the benefit of corporate greed, serving special interest groups such as oil fracking, drilling, and large corporate cattle farming that exports meat to China and other global destinations.

I DECIDED THAT I needed to go out West anyway. The mountains were calling my soul. It was like I needed to go to a place I knew, like going home. Even now, writing about The West feels like home. I thought, if I could feel the mountains and see the land in person, some magic would be revealed, and I could heal, and in turn, heal the horses. I wanted to feel the energy and find a place where land could be given back to the horses. I felt that a big part of this journey for me was freeing the horses. If they were free, then I would be free in and of myself.

I wasn’t just going out West to breathe the fresh air and frolic in

My plan was to adopt as many horses as I could from the BLM to get them out of the holding pens where they were living these trapped and unnatural lives and rewild them; set them free.

the mountains. I was going to catch my breath by focusing my energy on something else, something that was inside of me, my path. I kept hearing my inner voice saying, “To save the people, we have to save the horses and to save the horses, we have to save the people.”

If we save the horses, we are saving ourselves as human beings. It’s synonymous. It would be a year later that I’d truly come to understood what that meant. I was traveling out to Wyoming to search for land, but I was also searching or longing for something within myself.

Native Americans innately understand sustainability and have a deep connection with nature. My feeling was that, because the wild horses evolved as a globally native species, the same as the native people, they share that energy and understanding. They are the original life on the planet, as I would later come to understand from my friend Mo. The horses carry the original teachings of the creator. Who would understand how to

work cooperatively and live together with the planet better than indigenous native people and wild horses?

For my first two trips, my friend Rebecca and I flew through Denver to Jackson Hole. It’s one of my favorite airport landings on the planet. You emerge from the clouds in a bowl surrounded by the Grand Teton Mountain Range’s icy peaks. It’s incredible. The drive from Jackson to Riverton and the 2.2-million-acre reservation takes about three hours. At the halfway point, you pass through the small old western town of Dubois, known for its longtime dude ranches and old saloons. It’s a quintessential Western drive.

On the first trips, we stayed at the Holiday Inn, Riverton, and mixed visits to local galleries, museums, and attractions with volunteering at a local horse camp for kids. After a few trips with Rebecca, I felt comfortable enough to try to make a trip by myself. I thought it was important to do that because I’d never really traveled alone.

I was super nervous the day I arrived in Jackson Hole. I hired a driver to take me to Riverton, and from there, I rented a car. I don’t know what it is, but growing up in New York, driving out West makes me more than a little nervous. I could drive all day in crazy Manhattan traffic or on the Long Island Expressway but put me on a desolate rural road in Wyoming, and I’m freaked out beyond comprehension. I needed to learn to be ok alone, with myself and know I could be self-sufficient.

What if I had a breakdown on my way down from Jackson to Riverton. There’d only be bison out there to help me!

‘Toughen up,’ I had to remind myself. I sounded like a lady from the North Shore of Long Island, which I was.

When my driver let me off at the rental car dealer in Riverton, I started to get nervous. It was a chilly fall day, and yet my hands were sweating as my SUV pulled in. As I put the key in the ignition, my heart started to beat a little faster. I realized that

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I was alone in the wilds of Wyoming.

“I can do this,” I said aloud, as a country station ripped from the stereo speakers. I turned the volume down and pumped my hands on the steering wheel. “Woo hoo!” I was off to the races, and it started to feel good! Freedom, wide-open spaces, and my soul felt alive!

That was my first solo trip to the reservation, and I started to dive deeper into life on the Rez. It opened my eyes to a whole new world that I’d never seen. As I got deeper into it, I was introduced to issues that I’d heard about but never experienced: extreme poverty, drugs,

disease, and the heart-wrenching inequality Native Americans face. Women are a target of abuse, and many children grow up as orphans.

I decided to try to start an educational program to promote youth and horses. I bought supplies for fencing and helped locals section off lands so their horses could graze freely in the winter. It was hard work.

I was constantly searching for land, too, driving around on my own and hopping into cars to see people’s properties and places. I was on a quest to understand the challenges of life on reservations and form bonds so that I could eventually find land

where we could place wild horses being held by the BLM.

After leaving my family for about six or seven trips over eighteen months, I finally realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. Every time I got there I was starting over. It was like being on a hamster wheel. I saw that there wasn’t enough that I could do that would make a big enough difference. Trying to save the world one horse and young Indian women at a time wasn’t going to be enough.

On my final trip, I cut my time in Wyoming short and flew back to New York, feeling ridiculous. I was entirely frustrated and defeated. I was done with Wyoming. My time at the Rez was over. I felt more confused than when I started Seraphin 12 years ago. I decided that the universe had picked the wrong person for this job. I had failed miserably. I quit my spiritual day job and dissolved my foundation. I told Albert I was done with it all.

Albert was relieved. I was once again lost.

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I wanted to feel the energy and find a place where land could be given back to the horses.
I felt that a big part of this journey for me was freeing the horses. If they were free, then I would be free in and of myself.
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As a horsewoman, I am most proud of watching my students develop and become all around good horsemen and horsewomen. • I’d be lost without my walkie talkie for vet emergencies in my ring bag and vet wrap in my tack trunk. • I think the biggest misconception about our sport is that its only for Kings and Queens. I believe this is a lifelong sport that teaches valuable life lessons. We often get lost in the magazines with beautiful show jumpers and big prizes won. We feel we can’t be successful unless with have the means to afford the expensive horse. The sport is about so much more than that. It’s about building trust with a partner, learning to lose and win, making friends with barn mates…most of us continue this sport for life and look back not to remember the big wins but rather how this sport shaped us and got us through tough times. • The key to time management is Post-It notes! Organization and a great staff are key. • I sometimes struggle with saying “no.”


SHOULD KNOW: it’s hard work but the most fulfilling work you can do.
• Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic • Trainer at Hawthorne Hill • Dublin, OH
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Balancing life as a vet and a trainer is tricky business! The hardest part is to stay calm and focused. I am often juggling multiple balls in the air at any given time and it’s easy to get flustered, especially with emergencies. It’s important to stay composed and just put out one fire at a time. If you stay calm, the horse owners and the clients stay calm. • Something I do ten times a day is yelling something at my dog, Bad Boy Brady! • My favorite horse book is The Horse Whisperer. • The most difficult part of life with horses is the people. Never the horses.


The part of training I’m best at is being able to reach for the stethoscope and the spurs. I have an ability to look at things with more of a microscope. I think I am able to make a more dynamic view of training challenges being a vet and a rider. • On Mondays, you’ll find me sailing. • I sometimes wish I had the time to sleep, cook dinner, do laundry, and be a normal human being. • I’m afraid of the day that I have to retire from equine medicine and do small animal medicine! • If I weren’t a vet and a trainer, I’d be a forensic detective.  • My absolute favorite horse show is Waterloo Hunt Club. I love the history and the venue. •My motto is: The two most important things when buying a horse are a good brain and good conformation. Both are very important and difficult to correct.

OUR SPORT ARE powerful , ambitious role models to young kids and teenagers all over the world.
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“The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram was developed as a way of facilitating riders and trainers and veterinarians identifying the presence of musculoskeletal pain. Because it’s been clear from studies done in numerous countries that riders and trainers are rather poor at recognizing lameness, and that in fact, approximately 50% of the sport horse population is experiencing some degree of musculoskeletal plain. Although, as far as the owners are concerned, they are working comfortably.”

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— DR. SUE DYSON, VETERINARIAN featured in the documentary 24 Behaviors of the Ridden Horse in Pain

Any Ideas for Adult Horse Camp?

We loved your answers to this question in the Plaid Horse Adult Amateur Lounge…and we are awaiting an invite to join you this summer! Here are some of our favorite ideas from that fun Facebook post:

Our PLAID HORSE ADULT AMATEUR LOUNGE on Facebook is 8 , 000 members strong. Come join us!

Clipping clinic, and braiding. Do a challenge which team has the best turned out horse clipped braided and groomed at the end of the week.

We rented a margarita machine. It was the hit of the weekend.

Cocktail hour is a must. That’s all! Get out the charcuterie boards.

Not going to lie, the idea of the bounce house for grown-ups or those inflatable sumo suits for wrestling—or bomb proofing the horses—sounds like a great idea.

Yoga, art, massage, wine tasting, oh and lessons! On the last day, we did a sarcastic flat class—the judge’s note were hilarious.

The BEST thing I’ve seen is a “show set up challenge!” Make two teams and have a race to see who can set up show stalls and tack rooms the fastest! Everyone gets some show curtains, wood, staples, and the other basics. Gives everyone a good laugh and everyone is reminded what hard work it takes to “do the pretty stuff” at horse shows.

Jar of Negativity: Have then write down one thing they think they can’t do. What you don’t tell them is that it’s a buy in/buy out. If they accomplish it by the end of the week, they win a gift card. If they refuse or won’t do it, they owe you a mani or Starbucks. If they try and fail, it’s a pass and no one owes anyone anything because they had the guts to try and you toast their efforts.


March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 83



Q: What is the best way to enter the ring for an over fences hunter class?

A: It depends on your horse. If he is quiet and relaxed with a good trot, then trot into the ring and show it off—briefly. You should then calmly break into a canter and immediately get to the first jump. If your horse is tense or nervous, walk him a moment and let him look

around, take a breath, and then ease into a canter to start. Should your horse be a bit spooky, go immediately to a trot and go by the first jump, allowing him to see it. You then pick up a canter and proceed nicely to the first jump. This isn’t an equitation class, but I do understand that the longer approach to the first jump often sets a more relaxed and smooth start, which is what hunter performance is all about. You need to do what you think will present your horse the best.

Q: What do you think about “training” a hunter in the ring while the show is in progress?

A: Once competitors enter a recognized show, we would hope that their horses are prepared because their homework has been done at home. Unfortunately, horses sometimes find a way of making riders look unprepared, and often it is necessary to reprimand a horse in the ring. It is crucial, however, that all disciplining be done in a professional manner without abuse. Tight horse show schedules do not allow time for “training” in the ring, so if you have a more serious problem it should be taken to the warm-up ring, not dealt with in the show ring. I might add that training a hunter in the ring often leaves the judge a poor impression of horse and rider.

Q: How much do you penalize a horse that plays on course?

A: This depends on the “playing.” If a horse swishes his tail or pins his ears during a lead change, or simply throws his head, it may be slightly forgiven depending on the quality of the class. Playing in the form of bucking or extensive shying is not acceptable behaviour, as danger comes into play.

Q: What is the highest score you ever gave?

A: I gave Rox Dene a score of 98 at the Washington International Horse Show. In hindsight, I could probably have given her 100. My judge’s card had no other notations on it other than perfect jumps!

A: At the end of a good round, how important is it to get the lead change to finish? Can I just go back to the trot, turn in the direction of the lead I land on, or just pull up?

A: It is just as important to finish on the correct lead as it is at the start of your round. None of the alternatives you describe are acceptable. If you have had a good round, don’t cheat at the finish line...I’m watching!

Q: When jogging back into the ring for soundness, what do I need to know and what is the correct etiquette?

A: This is a good question, so take note from the judge’s booth! You need to know that only a junior can jog a junior hunter, or a pony junior needs to wear a secured helmet when jogging. In amateur and adult classes,

84 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Reprinted with permission from the author

all jogging is to be done by amateurs. All tail wraps need to be off. All competitors require a number. There is no jogging in halters allowed. You need to jog back in the same bridle you showed over fences in. Etiquette dictates that there will be no grooms jogging. Numbers should be tied around waist, not around the horse’s neck. Saddles and martingales should be off, nosebands should be done up, and the horse or pony should be dry and brushed off.

Q: How serious is it when a horse or pony switches a lead before a fence?

A: It depends on where you are not just at which show, but also where you are in the course. If you are in Palm Beach or indoors with the best of the best, it could put you right out of the ribbons, but if you are at a small show, you could still be the winner. As it relates to the course, it would depend

on the distance the switch was made from the jump: too far out from the jump it becomes obvious and will be heavily penalized. It would also depend on whether the horse goes too hard right or left to switch. Some horses will be gentlemen (as I call them) about it and will silently step off the lead only one stride out from the fence and make a good and centered jump that is not obvious at all.

Q: When judging children on ponies, do you take suitability into account?

A: In the US, suitability is a requirement and since I have judged for so many years in the States, I naturally consider suitability when judging Canadian shows as well – although it is not a requirement in Canada. When a rider is too large for a pony, it doesn’t look appropriate, and it will be reflected in my placement. When a rider is too small for a pony, it seems to be less serious, but it still doesn’t look correct and there could also be a safety issue to consider here as well.

Q: How do you feel about schooling, high-low, and prep classes on the same day as the rated classes?

A: Do your practice at home, the day before, or in another ring. I really feel that on show days you need to just go for real. At finals and indoors there are no get-ready classes, and as a judge I appreciate you showing your horse when it really counts. As both a judge and an exhibitor, I don’t like waiting to show after hours of schooling.

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I gave Rox Dene a score of 98 ... In hindsight, I could probably have given her 100. My judge’s card had no other notations on it other than perfect jumps!
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APRIL 13–16, 2023

COLUMBUS, OH, Ohio Expo Center

• An Unparalleled Educational Program.

• The Largest Horse-Related Trade Show in North America.

• The “Marketplace” featuring quality consignments for horse & rider.

• The Fantasia (sponsored by Absorbine) — Equine Affaire’s signature musical celebration of the horse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

• Breed Pavilion, Horse & Farm Exhibits, Horses for Sale and Demonstrations Enjoy meeting horses of all shapes, sizes, breeds, colors, and disciplines!

• Equine Fundamentals Forum — Educational presentations, exhibits, and activities for new riders and horse owners, young & old.

• The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition — A fast-paced timed and judged race through an obstacle course with $5,500 at stake!

• Adoption Affaire — Find and adopt your next horse at the Adoption Affaire, affiliated with the Right Horse Initiative!

• International Liberty Horse Association (ILHA) Freestyle Invitational (sponsored by EspanaSilk) — Select liberty trainers and horses of a variety of breeds and backgrounds will display their talents in a two-part invitational competition.

• A Horse for Heroes — Equine-assisted activities and therapies designed to benefit veterans, active-duty, and first responders, as well as their families.

• NEW! Ohio State 4-H Horse Bowl & Hippology Contest — Teams compete to demonstrate their knowledge of equine science and trivia.

• Youth Activities and a fun and educational College and Career Fair!

Featured Clinicians

Guy McLean (General Training & Horsemanship)

Julie Goodnight (General Training & Horsemanship)

Jonathan Field (General Training & Horsemanship)

Jason Irwin (General Training & Horsemanship)

Brad Barkemeyer (Reined Cow Horse and Roping)

Nona Garson (Hunter/Jumper)

Bryan Penquite (Reining)

JJ Tate (Dressage)

Rita Timpanaro (Hunter/Jumper)

Bronwyn Irwin (Pole Bending)

Sterling Graburn (Driving)

Carl Bledsoe (Easy Gaited Horses)

Suzanne Galdun (Biomechanics)

Carrie Brandt and Laura Benson (Resonant Riding)

Ali Kermeen (Working Equitation)

Jerry Paulsen (Equine Assisted Activities)

Wendy Murdoch (Horsemanship and SureFoot®)

DIamond D Cowgirls (Drill Teams)

…and many more to be announced!

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“CAMERON? Like the Cameron? The barn favorite who wins everything and everyone loves?”

“Yup,” said Tally, laughing at her friend’s wideeyed expression.

“Tally, this is huge!” said Mac, wrapping her friend up in a hug. Mac’s pony, Joey, nudged the girls with his nose, eager to get in on the celebration.

“I know,” said Tally, bending down to unwrap one of Joey’s polos alongside her friend.

“I’ve never ridden a horse this experienced. It’s going to be weird!”

“It’s going to be awesome,” Mac corrected her. Mackenzie (Mac)

Bennett was Tally’s best friend at the barn. At this point, probably her best friend, period. Mac had arrived about a year ago with Joey, a.k.a. Smoke Hill Jet Set, her partner in the Medium Pony Hunter division. When the girls first met, Tally knew next to nothing about the A circuit, having ridden only in the lesson program and at the barn’s in-house schooling shows. Now, Tally had competed several times at rated shows off the property, spectated at Devon and Pony Finals, and spent many sleepovers with Mac watching live streams and replays of the biggest shows in the country. There was nothing she loved more than immersing herself in the world of horses and showing.

“How was your lesson?” Tally asked.

“Great. Really great, actually,” Mac said, rubbing her chestnut pony’s neck. Joey licked Mac’s hand, in case a treat should materialize there. “But Ryan said he wanted to meet with me and my parents tonight, so I’m not sure what that’s about. How was your lesson?”

“It was good, I rode Obie and then I got on Toots because he was being extra spooky for his rider. I wish I’d known it was my last ride on Obie, though…Ryan has a kid who’s going to lease him. I wish I could have explained to him what’s happening. Or something…” Tally paused. “That sounds stupid right?”

Mac shook her head no, her expression serious.

“I’m so excited for Cam, but it’s still a little hard to move on. Remember when I cried in the porta-potties after I saw Goose at a show?” Goose was a green small pony that Tally helped bring along for Ryan. He got sold over the summer and it wasn’t easy seeing him with his new owner at a show back in September.

“Aw, Tal, that’s what makes you so good at this, though. You really love them,” said Mac.

88 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Order your copy at or on Amazon (paperback and Kindle)

“And they love you, too.”

“I hope so,” Tally said with a sigh. “And it’s great for Obie to have a person of his own. Ryan told me it’s one of his newer students who’s going to show in the Long Stirrup.”

A gust of wind whipped down the aisle. Joey raised his head on the cross ties and Mac jogged for the doorway.

“Hold on, everybody!” she called to the horses before sliding the big, heavy door closed. The mood on the aisle calmed down within seconds.

Mac disappeared into the tack room and Tally slipped into Cam’s stall. He was already wearing his blanket for the night but she couldn’t

resist a quick goodbye.

“Hi, sweet boy,” she said. Cam turned to face her. His eyes were big and soft. Tally could feel his kindness, just looking at him.

“I can’t believe I get to ride you for a month. Might even be two,” she said, stroking the horse’s neck. Cam wasn’t super tall—probably 15.3 hands or so, Tally guessed—but he was big through his body. She’d seen him around the barn, of course, but she had very little idea of what he’d be like to ride.

Down the aisle, both Tally and Cam heard the unmistakable swish of grain being dropped into a bucket. It was dinner time. Cam turned away from

Tally and stuck his nose in the feed bucket in the far corner of his stall.

“Well, it’s not there yet, buddy,” Tally said laughing. “Are you reminding us where your dinner should go?”

Cam faced her again. Something about his expression, those huge, soft eyes, filled Tally with affection. She didn’t even know this horse yet, but she already felt a fondness for him. Cam nickered and turned his head toward the sound of the feeding crew, heading in his direction.

“Have a good dinner, Cam,” Tally said, giving him one more pat before heading home.

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The Black Stallion Challenge

Cup Coaches

• Grand Prix rider Aaron Vale

• Arabian trainer John Rannenberg

• Hunter/jumper trainer Don Stewart

• Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez

• Gold Medal Paralympian Lauren Barwick

• Natural Horseman icon Pat Parelli

• Silver Olympic Medalist eventer Karen O’Connor

• Barrier-breaking jockey Abby Fuller

• Celebrity Judge: actor, director, and author Lisa Niemi Swayze

90 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023


How The Black Stallion is teaching Ocala youth

MANY PEOPLE have that one book, event, or memory from their childhood that ends up sending them down the path they chose to take in life. The Ocala Horse Alliance is hoping local students will look back on reading The Black Stallion as that moment for them.

The Black Stallion Reading Project, an initiative of The Ocala Horse Alliance, has been quietly building since before the pandemic, and in January, they made a splash with a major event in Ocala. On January 30, more than 600 spectators gathered at The World Equestrian Center in Ocala to witness The Black Stallion Challenge Cup, an evening to bring the Marion County community together and celebrate the impact of the equine industry in the area.

Ayla Spry with Ax Rabdan El Shamal, an Arabian Stallion at the Black Stallion Challenge Cup, held Jan. 30 at the World Equestrian Center to promote and celebrate the Black Stallion Reading Project WORDS: APRIL BILODEAU PHOTOS: ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 91

The challenge stems from The Black Stallion Reading Project, a five-year partnership program of the Ocala Horse Alliance and the Marion County Public School system. Each year, approximately 3,500 fourth grade students read The Black Stallion across all 31 elementary schools in the county. Each school has a ‘farm partner’ in the area to assist in sponsoring the books.

“First and foremost, it’s a reading program,” Ellie Trueman, President of the Ocala Horse Alliance, tells The Plaid Horse.

But the secondary goal of the program is to open kids’ eyes to all of the career opportunities in the equine industry, right in their backyards.

The competition was made up of a mix of non-equestrians and casual riders, ranging from the Superintendent of the school system to the Sheriff. Each individual was assigned to an established trainer and from there, they learned to ride.


The evening started with Billy Woods, Marion County Sheriff, and Pat Parelli, Founder of Parelli Natural Horsemanship

and Trainer for the project, who spoke to the audience about the importance of connecting kids with horses. Following this, each competitor took to a round of “musical poles,” an exercise where riders rode at the walk and had to properly pace themselves over pole placement.

The winner of the competition was Nancy Thrower, Vice Chair of the Marion County School Board, aboard Karolina Wignall’s Money Penny, a liver chestnut mare with a past career in cutting and polo.

“She’s just a pro,” Thrower says of her partner for the competition, who says that if it wasn’t for horses, she wouldn’t have the career that she has now.

Thrower previously taught lessons and enjoyed connecting with people through horses, which inspired her to go to Lake Erie College. After moving to Ocala in 1991, she began working for Don Stewart, owner of Don Stewart Show Stables.

“My years working for Don were some of the best of my life,” says Thrower. “You never know where life is going to take you, but animals and children have been the common denominator for me.”

During the competition, riders,

trainers and more were encouraged to meet with students and families who came to watch the event to educate them on their careers.

“We want these kids to be thinking that even though they’re only ten years old now, where do they want to be?” says Trueman. “They can be a farrier, a braider, a vet, a barn manager and they don’t have to leave this area.”

In fact, over 650 farms populate Marion County so the opportunities are everywhere.

Nancy Thrower with her ‘coach,’ legendary jockey Abby Fuller, and Ocala Horse Alliance Vice President Bonnie Heath
92 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Reverend Eric Cummings, a Marion County School Board member, was coached by eventing great Karen O’Connor
learn more


“The horse industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in Ocala,” says Mayor Kent Guinn, the Mayor of Ocala, who also competed in the competition. “It’s brought a lot of people to the area.”

“I tell people I’m the Mayor of the Horse Capital of the World—Ocala, Florida,” says Guinn with a laugh. “The people are quality people, we love the equine industry.”

Guinn trained with Grand Prix rider Aaron Vale for the competition, riding a 19-year-old horse named Tony.

“I practiced better than I performed,” says Guinn, who finished in the middle of the pack.

Despite the migration of so many horse enthusiasts to the area, the amount of locals involved in the industry remains relatively low.

“I continue to be amazed at how many people in Marion County haven’t experienced the magic of horses,” says Thrower. “There are so many life lessons

to be learned from horses. I encourage everyone to even just go watch. It’s free!”


The Black Stallion Reading Project is continuing to work to bring more awareness to the opportunities the equine industry has for the children of the community.

Currently, they are working on developing a Horse Education Day, where all of the fourth graders of Marion County will take a trip to the World Equestrian Center to learn even more about careers in the equine industry.

The program is currently fundraising for the event, with a goal of $18,000.

“The horse is a universal icon,” says Trueman, who explains that the program uses the horse as a motivating tool to encourage education and development of the students.

“These are our children, this is our community, and this is the future of the horse industry in Marion County,” says Trueman.

For more information on how you can be a part of the project and make a difference in the lives of students in the Ocala area, contact the Ocala Horse Alliance at

“These are our children, this is our community, and this is the future of the horse industry in Marion County.”
Photo: Copper Arrow Photography

Ask Yourself More Questions

IN ORDER to do better for our sport—now and looking toward the future—I firmly believe that we need to ask ourselves questions. Every day. Some examples…

Are you blaming others? How much more responsibility could you take in this situation?

Think about whether you are actually the victim or the victim in your own mind before you play the blame game. Are you mad because you wanted to win, or because you watched the whole class from the judge’s angle? Are you being a good sport? Are people who look up to you watching you? If so, behave accordingly. Are you holding yourself accountable? The list goes on with questions to ask yourself before placing blame.

Is note-giving the answer here?

If your notes are unsolicited, consider them criticism. Is this an appropriate time to give someone your notes?

Are you giving for you or for them?

Will a given decision do right by the humans who have done right

by me? Will this decision improve or detract from the relationships I would like to have over the long-term?

Our human relationships will outlive almost everything else in this sport. Are you aligned with the people you want on your side? Are they inclined to be aligned with you long-term?

Is this decision constructively improving or regressing our ______ (horse/ sport/student)?

Much of life arrives instantaneously. It’s hard

to take a moment and look at a bigger picture of how a single action or idea can impact the future. Take a quick look around while you might still have the chance to opt out. Does a given decision improve or regress our community?

Is this decision improving the metagame or the game?

Metagame is one of the most important aspects of our sport that’s very teachable and designed to go on top of quality training, time, and learning the ‘game.’ How much metagame can I improve and ‘get away with it’?

What is your contract with your horse? What do you owe them?

What did you promise them?

Think about what you think you owe this horse. Think about what you would have thought you owed this horse as a younger person. Are you doing right by them?

Am I making this decision because ‘this is how I’ve always done it?’ Is it still the right thing to do in 2022? Is there anything you learned long ago that is worth revisiting?

The world is changing. Many things have not changed at all. Many things have. Our decisions and our plans need to evolve to serve the types of horses, people, and competition that we are encountering in our world. Is your decision—one that may or may not have been the right decision in the past—still the right decision to make today? What experience can you draw from to make better decisions? There were no “good ol’ days” in this sport. It might be easy to look back on the days before livestreams and accountability, but our sport has always had issues galore. It’s been full of shame, ostracization, outright theft, bad decisions, and various sins to numb responsibility. Greed has always been the achilles heel of our sport, and there was never any shortage of it.

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 97

Are you assessing enough opportunity?

Constant opportunity recognition, opportunity assessment, and opportunity realization are necessary to keep any horse, relationship, and business moving in the right direction.

Do you have students or clients?

Trainers: Is your program focused on having students or clients? Are you clear with clients about what they are and what they will and won’t walk away with from your program?

Riders: Do you know who you are, what you want, and keep your expectations in check? Are you expecting the results of a student when you’re acting like a client? Is that right?

Is there a boundary here? Is that boundary worth violating for my goals? Is the boundary in line with

Is the value in the reward?

Anyone who needs a reward to be a good horseperson isn’t a good horseperson. Good horsepeople do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Step up and be a good steward to your horses.

my principles and what is right?

We learn our own boundaries by testing them, and it’s easy to say ‘just this once’ or, ‘this horse just needs to last through one show or one season.’ Where are your boundaries on horse care? Where were your boundaries as a child? Have they shifted an amount that you are comfortable with?

Have I watched enough of X to do it? Do I really know what I’m trying to do?

Have I done enough research, reading, learning, or watching, to have this

Does what you’re doing involve calling someone else crazy or stupid? Is that productive? It’s so simple and so easy to develop this habit of dismissing others.

be a fair task to ask of my horses, students, or friends? Am I exhausting my mentors because I’m not putting in the work myself? Is the answer in the ‘syllabus’ and I’m not putting in the energy to look it up? Are you horse and/or your people burdened by your lack of preparation?

Am I confusing money with purpose? Look at your clients. Many people with a lot of money are very unhappy and unfulfilled.

Am I conflating the promotion of myself or my barn or winning with someone else’s goals or ideals?

How important is winning and/or winning at this particular show for me? Why is that? Do I feel the need to win to attract more clients or promote my career? Are these reasons important to this horse or this particular client? Is it their job to serve my goals?

Am I being loyal or acting with integrity? Which one is the desirable trait for me to possess in this situation?

Just because you’ve been friends or collaborated with someone for a long time doesn’t mean they’re making good decisions in a situation or that you need to endorse bad behavior.

Is there a lot of ‘horse waste’ in how I conduct myself in this business? How do I ethically handle that? What strategic alliances can I make so that my horses, who support

98 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

my career, have a lifelong lifeline in a supportive network?

Do horses that ‘fail’ out of your program have a good life with good coping mechanisms? Do you give your horses all the coping mechanisms that your program requires?

What makes someone an expert?

Are some people in your life more or less knowledgeable than they used to be, or than you consider them? Could they be more or less helpful in your own decision making?

Did I use the phrase “I suppose

Is this my timeline or my horse’s timeline?

it’s easier” at any point in making this decision?

And what does that tell me?

How many times am I asking my horses, students, and staff to peak? Is that really constructive to long-term learning?

Is there truly time in my schedule to learn new material with the appropriate challenges, feedback, and repetition?

Is there a time where we could have a conscious constructive learning environment, either at home or in the show ring?

Did I shame someone else for trying or trying to learn?

We should not be shaming people for trying. Hard stop.

Have you considered “the photos” as a reason to do something?

If you are doing anything ‘for the photos,’ you’re doing it to brag on social media. Not because it’s the right call for your horse, your students, or your humans.

Are we expecting others to be something that is beyond human?

Are you expecting good people to be superhuman? Everyone can have a bad day without being a bad person.

(Continued on nexxt page)

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 99

Are you confused by goals and results?

Goals are items you work to improve and accomplish. Results are the byproducts of successful goal-setting, hard work, and achievement of goals.

Are you being governed by fear?

Trainers are afraid of their clients. Horse shows are afraid of their sponsors. Course designers are afraid of complaints. Judges are afraid of being vilified. Everyone fears lawsuits and threats, from which the governing body doesn’t exactly protect any horse shows or officials. Our divisions are bigger than ever, our riders are riding better than ever, our horses are more competitive than ever. The importance of every single competition is at an all-time high, and yet we sit here worrying about our future. We have built so much up together and yet somehow we all feel alone and scared. We need to stand up for high standards and keep the bar high for all of us to achieve.

Is it easier to do than teach?

Our kids aren’t really learning anything about our sport when it’s much easier to just do for our clients than it is to teach them. Teaching

is always the more difficult option. Do it anyway. Want it for your children anyways. Appreciate the people who take the time to let your children struggle. Know the people who let you figure it out and become independent are truly caring about you in a long-term sense.

Are we overcorrecting a prior mistake?

When we are afraid, we tend to completely overcorrect. We went from a sport of brave, cavalier, and reckless old timers who felt no consequences with neither Internet nor Cancel Culture. Today, there is accountability to every action, every moment, every step, and we all feel the consequences of that scrutiny. That level of overcorrection in every single action we make serves none of us.

If the risk of this decision doesn’t go

Are you making a mess or leaving a mess? Making a mess is okay. It’s part of progress and most good processes. Leaving a mess is never cool. In any situation.

my way, is that a gamble I can afford?

Not just money. Can you make a decision with a horse that you know could go south? Could you watch it if or when it does? Can you handle the repercussions that you came into this sport because you love horses and become something else entirely?

If this decision was put on the cover of The Plaid Horse, would I be proud of it? Is this decision adding to the reputation that I’m hoping to build?

Am I doing right by

my community?

Is winning at whatever cost you put on this worth it?


Is it the right thing for my horse? Is it the right thing for me? If the answer to both is yes, do it.

Is it the right thing for me? If not, make a decision with your trainer.

Is it the right thing for my horse? No? Don’t do it.

Follow me on Instagram at @piperklemm

Piper will be at the horse shows and would love to discuss any one of these topics with you in person. Come say hi!

If you would like to respond to this piece, please email The Plaid Horse is committed to publishing various opinions, stories, and experiences on every topic.

100 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
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Equestrian Studies College Courses Online This Summer

A Q&A with Plaid Horse publisher Piper Klemm

HE PLAID HORSE publisher Professor Piper Klemm, Ph.D., is offering her equestrian studies online courses for college credit again this summer. The courses run in June and July, and are being offered through Clarkson University:

• Business and Bias in the Equestrian Industry

• Grit, Toughness, and Contemporary Equestrian Coaching

• English Riding: History, Culture, and Industry Evolution

Prof. Klemm earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 and became publisher of The Plaid Horse in 2014. She has run her own pony-leasing business since 2011. In addition to teaching in grad school, she has been teaching university-level courses since 2018. Klemm is also the co-author of Show Strides, an equestrian middle grade novel series.

Tianna Vestri, one of Klemm’s students last summer, said, “I am loving every book, article, lecture, podcast and more that we’re engaging with, and it’s really providing depth to my equestrian experiences and helping me make some great connections. I’m so glad I decided to take these three courses.”

Want more info on the classes? Read on for more in our Q+A with the professor herself and visit

What made you decide to teach equestrian courses in the first place?

I think our industry lacks a lot of structure on how to learn within it. Like most people in the horse business, I have learned much the hard way. Through these courses, we use traditional academic framework to approach the equestrian business and our own knowledge systemically, and using a building block approach.

Who would benefit from taking these courses? The great thing about these courses is that everyone can take responsibility for their own learning and equestrian experience, and take away valuable knowledge and data. Riders as young as middle school to parents of riders and excited amateurs all benefit from the courses while adding a great mosaic of experiences to class discussion. The class size is small enough that we can focus on specific situations and tailor the material to be of the most interest to each individual class.

My child is horse-obsessed but college isn’t on our radar yet. Can I still enroll them? Can I enroll myself?

Absolutely! Young riders can earn college credit to transfer to the eventual college of their choice while learning about their sport, strengthening their connections, and enhancing their resume. We welcome parents as well!

I’m not majoring in anything equestrian-related. Is this course still for me?

Yes! These courses are to expand your knowledge of the sport, yourself, and how to best manage hobbies, business and your approach to our sport. They are a great tool for all majors. They can be transferred

102 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
more info? Visit

per your college’s policies to use credit toward graduation or specific distribution requirement.

I’ve already graduated from college! How would I benefit from these courses?

This sport is unique because it is a lifelong sport. Handling decision making, finances, emotions, and understanding the market forces can always be improved upon. This investment will benefit you for decades to come!

What sort of feedback did you get from students last summer on how they were able to implement what they learned into their lives with horses? Students were able to use decision-making processes to further their careers—including evaluating facility purchases, horse purchases, and investing further into our industry and using techniques learned in class.

Klemm also co-hosts the #Plaidcast and runs various entrepreneurial projects. Her mission is to educate young equestrians in every facet of our industry, and to empower young women in particular to find their voice and story and share them. She shows in the amateur hunter divisions with her horse of a lifetime, MTM Sandwich.

“Physical attributes can help your riding, but they are not necessary…Even if you are not the ‘ideal’ body type, take heart. In my experience, good equitation is never impossible.


Select Champions



Wellington, FL

FEBRUARY 7-12, 2023

Amateur Jumper—High

Lukaku VD Bisschop & Lexi Ray

Amateur Jumper—Medium

Pewit Dezoito & Britta


Amateur Jumper—Low

Diadarco Van Evendael Z & Charlie Jacobs

Amateur Owner Hunter

3'3" 18–35

Private Practice & Martha Ingram

of myself, my wife, Elizabeth, and our welcome to Winding Way Farm, Dimples Horse Treats.

Winding Way Farm, horses are our passion. Elizabeth and I come from very different equine backgrounds, we both have enjoyed a love of horses childhood. A love that we now enjoy sharing children. Elizabeth is an accomplished horseman years of show experience with Saddlebreds. myself, I was more of a backyard cowboy until I breeding, training and racing thoroughbred now enjoy breeding Friesian horses together, has horses without treats? Not us!

sampling other horse treats, we decided to create a with healthy ingredients, like ground flax supplement that has anti-inflammatory and promotes overall health), beet pulp, and whole grain. In fact, each Dimple treat teaspoon of ground flaxseed. But what makes even better is the irresistible aroma and soft texture that allows medication to be hidden in shape without the horse ever being aware! eliminates the guesswork in administering most medicine. It’s so easy anyone can do it!

perfected the recipe, we began sharing our treats with trainers, veterinarians and horse friends with the challenge to find the one horse resist the great taste and smell of Dimples. received very favorable feedback and decided to treats available to all horse lovers in a reusable pail (about 60 treats).

feel good using Dimples Horse Treats as a aid in giving medication or just a special equine friend will love!

order or leave a comment, visit our website, or call me at (859) 240-9747.



Thermal, CA

FEBRUARY 7-12, 2023

Small Junior Hunter

3'3" 16–17

Baldeur & Lillian Muzzy

Small Junior Hunter

3'6" 15 & Under

Valedictorian & Violet


Small Junior Hunter

3'6" 16–17

Vegas De La Joux & Bailey Rose

Small Pony Hunter

Secret Spot & India Kulkin


Tuscon, AZ

FEBRUARY 8-12, 2023

USHJA 3' Hunter

Derringer & Janine Weatherby

USHJA 2'3"/2'6" Hunter

Wonder Woman & Charlotte Larkins

Pony Hunter

Flower Power & Sydney Lawrence

Tuscon Low Hunter 2'/2'3"

Galactic Ty-Fighter & Zoey Willock


Del Mar, CA

FEBRUARY 8-12, 2023

Children’s Jumpers

1.10 m

Treffer VDV & Hazel Hamilton

Green Hunters 3'3"

Folklore & Philippa Melski

Green Rider Hunter 2'3"

Tucker & Bailey Burks

Jr/Am Jumper—Med 1.30 m

Shantonagh & Jenny Calandra

ADS & ARTICLES DUE APRIL 21 Contact for more info The YOUNG HORSE Issue 800-621-1225 • WWW.HORSETRANSPORT.CC SERVING THE SHOW HORSE INDUSTRY FOR 40 YEARS WEEKLY TRIPS BETWEEN THE NORTHEAST & FLORIDA No Horse Can Resist! A Healthy Treat MORE THAN JUST AN IRRESISTIBLE TREAT 10456 Big Bone Road Union, KY 41091 859-240-9747 • Dimples Unique Shape makes administering Medication so easy! • Irresistible Taste and Aroma • Soft and pliable • Loaded with ground flax and whole grains Produced By Order Online Also Available at: MORE THAN AN IRRESISTIBLE TREAT!
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for administering medications! Dimples® Horse Treats make administering medication to your horses so easy! Simply place the medication in the unique dimple shape and squeeze the pliable goodness around it. Even the most finicky horses cannot resist the aroma and taste of Dimples® Horse Treats. Dimples® Horse Treats let you take the guesswork out of giving medications. Available at quality tack & feed stores nationwide! • 859-384-1058
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106 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023



RIDERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY have shown on HITS circuits for decades, but as the horse show management company grows, they are aiming for the top.

Nearly one year ago, HITS announced their o cial partnership with Traub Capital Partners (TCP), an investment rm out of New York, NY. The goal of the partnership was to further enhance the multiple show locations and continue building the legacy the horse shows have developed in their over 40 years of management. Since that announcement, TCP has delivered on their promise of improving the show grounds, starting in Ocala.

“HITS is becoming a great horse show”
March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 107
Chief Client Officer Joe Norick and President and CEO Peter Englehart on the improved Ocala show grounds. Traub partners was created by Marvin Traub, a mainstay in the luxury brand market

“We did not leave any stone unturned,” Joe Norick, Chief Client Officer at HITS, tells e Plaid Horse. “I could go on and on and on. We know what the clients are looking for in a show facility and we are working to deliver on that”

In fact, before beginning construction on any of the facilities, HITS conducted a survey among competitors asking what they could do to make the HITS experience better.

“Out of our top five answers, the first three were improving the footing,” says Peter Englehart, President and CEO of HITS. “So the footing was really the most important thing for us.”

HITS took the feedback seriously and immediately started in Ocala with the resurfacing of four rings with footing by Sharn Wordley and Craig Martin of Wordley Martin Premium Equine Surfaces. The resurfacing included the Grand Prix Ring and Main Hunter Ring, as well as their respective schooling rings.

“The dedication that Wordley Martin showed us was beyond expectation,” says Norick, who adds that the same team is headed to each HITS location to provide improvements to the rings. This includes a significant portion of the major competition rings in Saugerties and all new rings in Del Mar.

“We’re creating a family environment here. This is a place where we are trying to welcome everyone.”
HITS Vermont offers a boutique horse show in the picturesque Green Mountains
108 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
Improvements at HITS Ocala include resurfacing of four rings

“The only two rings that will remain untouched in Del Mar are the grass rings,” says Norick with a laugh. “Those are some of the best rings!”

Additional improvements in Ocala include the repair and painting of all fencing, the planting of 350 trees throughout the property—not only for a unique flair, but to provide more shade for exhibitors— the renovation of the cafe and menu, and updated restrooms. The overall hospitality has also been a focus, resulting in the VIP tent now being open to all exhibitors and riders Wednesday through Saturday.

For the international competitor, the organization is bringing back FEI competition to both Saugerties and Del Mar.

“FEI is so important. We’ve decided to bring back FEI competition in Saugerties in 2023,” says Norick. “Saugerties Week 8 will be a 4* competition, resulting in 4 weeks of FEI in 2023. We are unbelievably excited to offer international competition in the northeast and provide that option to competitors based in the area.”

HITS also will be bringing six weeks of FEI competition to Del Mar in 2024.


In addition to all the improvements to the show grounds, the organization has been delivering new programs to benefit everyone, from riders with young horses to grooms, to the family and friends of competitors.

To encourage riders to continue developing horses in the sport, HITS offers an option for competitors with young horses in the 5, 6, and 7-year-old Young Jumper divisions to compete free of entry cost.

“One of the reasons not so many young jumpers get started here in America is because it’s so cost prohibitive,” says Norick, who previously operated a boutique hunter sale barn in Europe. “We are fully committed to helping people develop young horses.”

Additionally, HITS now offers insurance coverage for grooms working at the horse show. When checking in, trainers and exhibitors are encouraged to declare a groom to a horse. With that

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 109
NEAR LEFT, FROM TOP: Callan Solem competing under the historic Oak trees at HITS Ocala • HITS Ocala partnered with Kahwa Coffee to offer clients new options for the 2023 show season • Hunter Holloway showcasing some speed over the Wordley Martin fence

declaration, that groom will be covered with insurance for that entire week.

The HITS team is also working hard to create an all-encompassing positive experience for the entire family.

“We are approaching including the whole family on multiple fronts,” says Englehart, who listed a number of ways the horse show is adding experiences for everyone, including: bars with TVs for the parents waiting for their child to show, mascot miniature horses from The Peeps Foundation roaming the Ocala show grounds for young noncompetitors to enjoy, and expanded WiFi throughout the property. The team is also working to add events and attractions to keep everyone engaged.

“We really want to nurture better, deep rooted connections with the local community. By having relationships with them and hosting events on the show grounds, people will have more access to equine sports,” says Englehart.

“We’re creating a family environment here. This is a place where we are trying to welcome everyone.”


Traub Capital Group focuses their investments on established consumer businesses with strong culture and sense of self.

“The reason that TCP decided to make this investment in HITS is because we recognize the enthusiasm and experience the consumer has with their passion,” says Englehart. “There’s no bigger enthusiast than the equine enthusiast.”

With that in mind, HITS is working to provide an overall experience above the rest, creating a destination for the modern equestrian.

“For example, in Ocala we really want to showcase who we are—a beautiful place for equestrians and horsemen,” says Englehart. “From the fencing, to the rolling hills, to the big trees sprawled about the property.”

“The client has a choice. There are many venues and many places to horse show around the country,” says Norick. “We’ve identified who we want to attract and we welcome communication so we can continue to make all riders and horses, of all levels, feel welcome. We want to do things that have never been done before.”


As one of the few horse show series with a national footprint, HITS recognizes the importance of including something for every rider and horse.

“We need to develop future riders,” says Norick. “The 2'6" rider is just as important as the rider galloping around the Grand Prix ring. We want to have the top facilities where anyone can ride on great surfaces, whether in the ring or around the property. There is a place for everyone to show at HITS.”

While a lot has been done in the

“The 2'6" rider is just as important as the rider galloping around the Grand Prix ring.”
110 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023

Pilandro Blue, one of five stallions that stand at Alesi Farms year since the partnership began, both Englehart and Norick acknowledge that there is still plenty to be done to improve the experience.

“We have a lot of projects on the table. Everything is in phases, which is the correct way to do it, so we can perfect it for the client,” says Norick. “We’re moving the HITS family from state to state to maintain consistency among each show park.”

The legacy of the horse show is something that Englehart and Norick promise to keep in place and honor as they make the improvements across the six facilities across the country. With unique destinations and carefully selected dates, their ultimate goal is to provide a great experience both in the ring and outside the ring.

“HITS was a good horse show, a really good horse show,” says Norick. “With TCP as our partner, HITS is becoming a great horse show.”

CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: HITS is focused on creating an amazing experience for the entire family at each venue • Chief Client Officer Joe Norick and President and CEO Peter Englehart discuss the various projects underway at HITS • Dressage is an area where HITS looks to expand, including continuing to host the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at HITS Chicago • HITS recognizes rising hunters through the annual Green Hunter Prix

March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 111

2023 HITS Ocala Showcase

PHOTO GALLERY 1 Aaron Vale and Obi Wan win $75,000 Showcase Grand Prix • 2 Riders of all ages can showcase their skills at HITS Ocala • 3 Sharn Worldey and Mick Jagger win $50,000 Voltaire Grand Prix • 4 Annie Goldstein won the Finish Line Sportsmanship Award • 5 Hayley Waters Wear and Victor earned the Green 3’6” Hunter Championship • 6 Brian Feigus and Corragio win $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 7 Dorothy Douglas and MTM Caepten win $25,000 SmartPak Grand Pix • 8 Team McAllister enjoying a beautiful day at HITS Ocala PHOTOS: ESI PHOTOGRAPHY
1 2 3 4 112 THE PLAID HORSE March 2023
5 7 8 6 March 2023 THE PLAID HORSE 113
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