An Exciting Announcement… The New Albany Classic

I’m so excited to announce today that I am the official blogger for this year’s New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day at the beautiful Wexner residence in New Albany, Ohio, held on Sunday, September 20th! The Classic has been named the #1 Specialty Equestrian Event by the North American Riders Group (NARG) for the past three consecutive years. I can’t wait to share my experience attending this event for the first time. I’ve already spent days scrolling through the list of everything there is to do during the Classic (in addition to spectating its world-class Grand Prix!) and now I’m officially beginning my personal countdown on here! Follow along on my social media and the Classic’s Facebook and Instagram for lots of announcements between now and September 20th!

I’m also equally excited to announce today that I’ve teamed up with Equus Now!, central Ohio’s hunter/jumper tack and apparel destination, for a super fun meet-up on Saturday, September 19th from 4-5pm with some amazing giveaways and raffles coinciding with the Classic, including VIP tickets! That, and the chance to all hang out together in their 18,000 square foot store, which honestly just sounds like a good time in itself. We’ll be sharing more about those giveaways here on the blog, on my social media, and on the Equus Now! social media as the meet-up approaches, so be sure to give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram too!

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of all the excitement to come at the Classic…

As part of the Family Day fun, the New Albany Classic has live music, carnival rides, a zip line, a synthetic ice rink, classic cars and tons of other entertainment. Family Day concert headliners in the past have included Ariana Grande, Jordin Sparks, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers, just to name a few, and this year’s headliner is going to be revealed any day now. In the meantime, it was just announced that there will be “life-sized” animatronic dinosaurs roaming one of the tents, chainsaw artisans, and a Star Wars themed fencing exhibition simulating a lightsaber battle, all of which sound amazing. Additionally, the Classic works hard to incorporate the local community by supporting activities and performances put on by the Ohio State Marching Band & Cheerleaders, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and local sports institutions, not to mention the hard work of over 300 volunteers to make it all happen.

I could go on and on about how excited I am to be involved with a show jumping event of this caliber that also hosts a day that is so refreshing and accessible for everyone, whether you’ve been around horses your whole life or this will be your first time seeing one. The Grand Prix is a $125,000 FEI CSI2* on a pristine grass field and approximately 30 riders will compete. Previous winners of the Grand Prix include Shane Sweetnam (last year’s winner!), Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, and Beezie Madden, among many others. I’m also looking forward to cheering on the few up-and-coming wild cards who are invited to compete and give our sport’s top riders a run for their money! The rider list will be announced in a few weeks. If you can make plans to come, do it! It’s going to be so fun.

One of the most impactful elements of the Classic is that it’s the primary fundraiser for the Center for Family Safety and Healing, which provides resources for people impacted by all aspects of family violence and domestic violence. When you purchase a ticket to the Classic, you are helping to restore hope. To date, the New Albany Classic has raised more than $25 million, and last year’s event was enjoyed by an astounding 18,000 guests. It’s a great example of using our sport as a way to give back and enthusiastically embrace the local community as well.

If you’re interested in making plans to attend (and it’s definitely not too late to…I just booked my airfare last week), tickets for the Classic are only $23 for adults and can be purchased here. The cost of admission benefits the cause and gives you unlimited access to every aspect of the event, including the Grand Prix, concert, rides and entertainment, so it’s quite a steal. The Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, OH is only 15 minutes from New Albany and there are numerous options for accommodations in the area.

If you’re coming, be sure to comment or send me a message. Hopefully I’ll see you there! In the meantime, keep checking back here and following on social media for more exciting announcements about the event and the Equus Now! meet-up, including this year’s headline concert performer and rider list! 34 days to go!!

Video: Summer at Tryon

During the two weeks I spent at Tryon Summer in July, I occasionally flipped over to video mode to capture a few of my favorite faces and moments. Now, with August flying by and and indoors looming, I made this video to re-live a little of the summer fun I had at Tryon, tan-lines not included. Can’t wait to return in the fall and see you guys there.

Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center

July Update: Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center

Back in May, I traveled to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina for their Spring 7 show and wrote a post giving a tour of the beautiful facility. I recently returned for two weeks of the summer series in July and there were many very exciting new additions to the property. If you haven’t read the original Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center post, I recommend starting there to see the impressive barns, rings, and layout of the property. In this post, I’ll be sharing the updates to the facility that have happened since my last visit in May (and there are some GOOD ones, so keep reading…)

Tryon International Equestrian Center

Tryon Carousel

Freshly-planted flowers lined the sidewalk near the main entrance where the venetian carousel greets visitors.

Tryon Equestrian Center Mountains

It can’t be said enough: There is never a shortage of spectator seating or shade by any ring at TIEC. When you don’t have a golf cart to pull up ring-side and sit in (I never have), you might be surprised how many other horse shows have little to no other options for ring-side seating for those without golf carts.

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Scenes from Tryon Summer 3

Unlike in the Spring when I only had the chance to experience Tryon for one week (see that post here), this summer I was able to stay for two weeks and experience double the number of fun moments throughout the bustling Tryon Summer series. If you missed it, here are the scenes from Tryon Summer 2. After Tryon Summer 3, I drove to Lexington, KY for the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (hence the slight delay on this post!), and there was a loooong train of cars traveling from NC to KY along with me on Monday the 13th. I counted at least five horse trailers within the first hour. I think it’s great that so many barns were at Tryon during the weeks prior in order to prepare for the championship, and the competitiveness of the classes during Tryon Summer could also speak for itself. But in between the hustle of the show day and a busy summer season, there were plenty of little moments to be captured, memories to be made, and faces to meet…

The show week started with the usual preparations.

Extensive research at Tryon has proven that having carrots waiting at the in-gate can improve your jumper’s speed by 90%.

Thursday morning’s $34,000 Welcome Stake featured a course that was causing all sorts of trouble for the 34 entries. Alison Robitaille, 20th in the order, was the first to go clear aboard Cassinja. No one else seemed to be able to conquer the course, with six other riders missing the cut by only one time fault. Enter David Blake and Binkie, winners of the Tryon Summer 1 Grand Prix and last to go in the order. David guided Binkie to a smooth clear round to force a jump off at the last minute, and gained the advantage as the second rider to go. Alison went for it in the jump off but had a rail down, setting up David’s steady clear round for the win.

Alison Robitaille was all smiles after her 2nd place finish.

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Schuyler Riley’s Borat Interview Revisited

Schuyler Riley has been busy bolstering her already impressive show jumping resume, winning a stunning three straight FEI Grand Prix classes at the Tryon Summer Series. I watched her win the first two in person, and they were some of the most emotional and thrilling victories I have seen.

schuyler riley

Schuyler and Dobra De Porceyo after one of their many spectacular rounds at Tryon.

Schuyler has been involved in big victories and with special horses in the past, but there is one strange footnote to her career that I discovered during a recent Google search.

schuyler riley borat

“schuyler riley borat”? What?

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Turning Horse Shows into Vacations with Tryon Retreats

I think I received my first, “Can you recommend a place to stay?” e-mail before I ever even stepped foot on the Tryon show grounds for the first time this past spring. With significant interest in the summer series that just concluded, four new dates added in August, and an AA-rated fall series, I have received a lot of questions from riders and their families ready to make plans. Tryon International Equestrian Center is in the process of building a beautiful resort on the property, but until its completion there are limited accommodations available, especially during the popular summer and fall series. And with the summer show season up and down the east coast in full swing, which can mean weeks and months at a time spent on the road (I’m personally going on Week 4), I’m a firm believer that accommodations while traveling should feel as much like home as possible after a long show day, and as much like a vacation as possible on every off day. One way to experience luxury and feel like you are truly having a vacation in the mountains on your next trip to TIEC is through a fantastic local company called Tryon Retreats.

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Breyerfest 2k15

I was very excited to visit the Kentucky Horse Park to cover the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (coverage of Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 here), but I might have been even more excited when I found out that Breyerfest would be happening at the Horse Park at the same time. Breyerfest is an annual convention devoted to all things Breyer–a specific and awesome brand of model horses which are an iconic part of nearly every horse lover’s childhood. I collected Breyer horses when I was younger and still have them all saved at my mom’s house in large tupperware at the top of a closet (if anyone is interested in some circa 1998 Breyers with their original boxes, let me know.) Breyerfest goes on for three days of non-stop fun, and I can’t wait to share with you just a little bit of it. Let me also say, as a disclaimer for the hardcore fans that might find this post through the #Breyerfest hashtag on Instagram, I apologize in advance if I don’t have all of the Breyer terminology 100% correct. Bill Clinton was still in office when I got my last Breyer. However, at the height of my Breyer collecting years ago I would browse eBay for custom painted models and I was also a member of the official Breyer Collectors Club, so yes, it was pretty fun to attend my first ever Breyerfest while in my 20’s. Finally.

Breyerfest ran for three days, from Friday the 17th through Sunday the 19th. On Thursday (pictured), I saw trucks with palettes full of merchandise making deliveries to the covered arena while set-up for the event sprang in to action.

I received this fantastic Breyerfest Media credential from the great team at Breyer headquarters in New Jersey. I definitely did not expect to receive such an official button, so this was a really cool surprise and I immediately attached it to my NAJYRC lanyard and kept it on all weekend because it’s awesome.

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NAJYRC Jumping Day 3: Scenes from the Championship

Saturday marked the final day of competition in the individual championships for show jumping at NAJYRC. The competition featured two rounds that determined the winners of the junior and young rider division, with the top 12 riders after the first round returning for the second. This final day contributed to the test of endurance the event provides, marking the 4th and 5th rounds in four days for these horses at the highest jump height.

The junior division did not have much movement at the top in today’s competition—the top three riders going in to today all remained in their positions. Sophie Simpson and Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez both had rails down but maintained their overall brilliance for the weekend to capture the bronze and silver medals. Vivian Yowan continued her remarkable show posting two more clear rounds today, knocking no rails down for all five rounds over the past four days. It was a tremendously impressive display by her and her horse Vornado Van Den Hoendrik.

The three junior rider medalists after their round.

Here are a few sights from the two rounds of the junior competition.

The competition started bright and early at 7am so that the Rolex Stadium could then be used for dressage championships in the afternoon. Both the junior and young rider jumping events concluded by 1pm.

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NAJYRC Jumping Day 2

I’m currently at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park covering the show jumping competition. If you didn’t see it, here’s my recap of Day 1. Day 2 was the team competition in which riders were divided by the zones of their home state. The NAJYRC Championship is one of the few major events that gives junior and young riders the opportunity to ride on a team as they would in the Nation’s Cup or the Olympics and the hope is that’s exactly where we’ll see them in years to come.

To start, here’s a zone map of the states:

The competition also included teams from Canada, Mexico North and Mexico South. Some riders that didn’t have enough other riders from their zone at the event to make a team of three were put on other zone’s teams. The riders’ rounds also factored in to their qualification for the individual championship which will be held Saturday.

Today each rider completed two full rounds, and the best three scores for each round were used for the final team scores. The team with the lowest number of faults among these three best scores won. Here’s how the day played out:

The day started with the Junior Rider Team Competition at 8am. I followed this pair on the walk to Rolex Stadium before detouring to grab a scone.

A foggy morning kept temperatures cool and comfortable until the sun began to break through.

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Scenes from Tryon Summer 2

After covering a series of Spring shows on the blog that concluded with Upperville, I returned to Florida and time flew by as I anticipated heading back up to Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina for two weeks. Tryon is currently on their fourth and final week of their initial summer series and I attended their Summer 2 & 3 shows. It was during the first few days of Week 2 when I said while driving home after a long (and really fun) show day, “I could use AT LEAST four more weeks of this place.” And then the next day Tryon announced that they added four more dates to form a nationally-rated August Series, including one FEI date with a CSI3* $127,000 Grand Prix. Endless summer.

I’m also excited because the Tryon posts that I have planned coming up on the blog not only include separate Scenes posts for both weeks, but also a post with updates made to the facility since I last shared a tour in the Spring. The venue is growing so quickly that there was even a new ring added to the show schedule (Ring 6) for Summer 2 that wasn’t there the week prior for Summer 1. If you’re thinking of making plans for Tryon for the August dates (and fingers crossed I’ll meet more of you there then), I’ll also be sharing details on a local business dedicated to finding you the perfect accommodations while you’re in town showing, which I was incredibly lucky to experience first hand on this past visit. Imagine all of the details taken care of so that you can focus on showing and spending time with family and friends. And speaking of details, Tryon once again blew me away with how they’ve thought of everything a spectator, competitor, and even non-horse person could want out of a horse show, which I’m excited to share with you, starting with these Scenes from Tryon Summer 2.

I arrived on Thursday after driving up from Wellington, and my first day attending was bright and early for the USHJA National Hunter Derby on Friday morning. I was a little tired after the 10 hour drive, but so excited to be back on the show grounds.

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