The Loss of a Legend

Bill Steinkraus on Snowbound
Bill Steinkraus on Snowbound. The pair won individual gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Steinkraus passed away on November 29th. He was 92.

Before there was George Morris to dictate excellence in equitation, there was William “Bill” Steinkraus. For many of us, he epitomized horsemanship — his perfect equitation and unflappable demeanor was synonymous with success.

In addition to being the first American to win an individual Olympic Gold in an equestrian sport, he also won team silver at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games (riding Main Spring) and at the 1960 Rome Olympic games (riding Riviera Wonder) as well as team bronze a the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games on Hollandia.

Below is his Olympic Gold round in Mexico City.

What you may not know about Bill Steinkraus is that after his freshman year at Yale University he enlisted the Army in 1943, where he was part of the 124th Cavalry Regiment during World War II and fought in Burma to help reopen the Burma Road. He then returned to Yale, graduating in 1948.

One of the founding members of the USET,  Steinkraus was also an accomplished violinist, who played in the Connecticut Symphony.

Steinkraus retired from showing in 1972, but remained  involved in the sport acting as a judge, TV commentator, clinician, coach and author. For 17 years, he was the chef d’équipe of the U.S. show jumping team. Even after he retired, he continued to ride.

“I enjoy raising horses – preparing and educating them,” he said. “And I still love riding as much as ever. Riding can be many different things; it can be physical and death-defying, but it can also be aesthetic and low key.

“I still try to ride every day,” he added. “I’m frustrated by sedentary pursuits – except when I’m sitting on a horse!’

Christian Science Monitor


Thread the Needle

Driving at the FEI level is a hair raising sport. These teams are on the razor edge of precision and speed. If the video isn’t enough to show the extreme edge of this sport, check out these photos from Cara Grimshaw Photography

© FEI/Cara Grimshaw Photography — in Stuttgart, Germany.
© FEI/Cara Grimshaw Photography
© FEI/Cara Grimshaw Photography — with Georg von Stein, Manuela Scholz and Nikolai Brandt in Stuttgart, Germany.
© FEI/Cara Grimshaw Photography — with Georg von Stein, Manuela Scholz and Nikolai Brandt in Stuttgart, Germany.
© FEI/Cara Grimshaw Photography — in Stuttgart, Germany.

Watch the Longines World Cup Qualifiers on the Horse Network

Longines World Cup
The Horse Network has been broadcasting each leg of the Longines World Cup qualifier rounds. Enjoy the best of show jumping from your armchair.

Very little of our equestrian sport is broadcast on traditional television. Luckily, live streaming events has become more common. You can watch Burghley TV and see eventers tackle all three phases of the great event. And now you can enjoy all 14 legs  of the Longines World Cup Qualifiers from the comfort of your easy chair.

The Horse Network offers free broadcasts from their Facebook page and from their website. I’ve enjoyed the last three events tremendously. Miss any? No problem! You can watch them on demand.

Here’s the winning ride from last night’s event. And don’t forget to tune in on Wednesday!

A Hunting We Will Go

It’s been a

First Hunt of the Season
This was the first time this fall that I’ve been able to hunt.
Zelda after she rolled.
Zelda after the hunt and after she had the chance to roll in the sand.

This fall has been busy. What with travel and work and the threat of ground bees, I haven’t had the chance to hunt. I almost didn’t make it today. I slept a bit late, discovered there was no hitch on the truck when I went to hitch the trailer and then, there was the weather. The forecast was rain. I hate hunting in the rain because it’s hard to see out of my glasses.

However, I soldiered on. The hunt was so close to where I keep my horses that I really had no excuse. Then I arrived at the hunt and discovered that the zipper on my right boot was stuck.

Hacking home
Despite the forecasted rain, the weather was excellent for hunting. Cool and a bit of a mist, which left horses and hounds energized.

Luckily, I had just bought a new pair of boots and had brought them along (premonition?). It isn’t ideal to wear new boots for the first time out hunting, but I escaped with only some minor rubs.

Zelda was a good girl. She was a bit bouncy at first but by the time we reached the first check, she was starting to slow down and actually trotted a bit. I always have to laugh at her because while she strenuously objects to any kind of collection in the ring, out hunting she can practically canter in place.

The hunt was about six miles.
The hunt was about six miles. It’s a nice territory with some big open fields, a good run by the river and only a few places where ground bees lurked.


Lesson Learned: Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship and horsemanship are two of the qualities that we hope to see at the highest levels of competition. Which is why this video has made such an impression. Johnson & Johnson heiress Jazz Johnson-Merton fell off her horse Joe Cool at the Hampton Classic last week. It wasn’t her horse’s fault, Merton simply came unseated after a jump, but after getting to her feet, she tried to kick him in the stomach before leading him out of the ring. Unfortunately for her, the incident was caught on video, which has since gone viral.

One of the class judges, Chris Wynn told Chronicle of the Horse of Johnson, “She got up, lost her temper and tried to kick the horse in the stomach. I’m not sure she made contact . . . It was one of those gray areas of, ‘Was it unsportsmanlike?’

Jazz Merton and Joe Cool
Jazz Merton and Joe Cool at a more successful event.

Absolutely. Did it really hurt the horse? Probably not.”

But what she did do was highlight the how people should not act toward their horses. Certainly not adults.

Jazz Merton sent the following letter to the USEF, which investigated the incident, and shared it with the Chronicle of the Horse, which published the video. I’m afraid I don’t buy the apology. The fall was not serious (hence, I’m not sure why she was scared). She was certainly angry, and based on her horse’s response, it’s not the first time she went postal on him. Let’s just hope she really did learn her lesson and starts to treat her very nice horse with the care and compassion he deserves.

“One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been riding and showing horses, and I have enjoyed this hobby since I was a little girl.

“In the recent incident at the Hampton Classic, I had a very inappropriate emotional response to my horse’s behavior, one that I have never had before. I was scared and angry, and reacted very badly. For that I am deeply sorry. My reaction was short lived, and immediately after I realized my mistake, I got back on to jump a schooling fence in order to finish the day on a trusting note with this horse.

“I can assure you that the apology that I gave to the stewards at the time and this plea to you now is genuine. I will never again exhibit this unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship.

“It pains me to see that I have brought negative attention to our sport, the sport that is most dear to me.

“Please accept my apology. Sincerely, Jazz Merton”


Oliver Townend holds on for the Win

Oliver Townend’s lucky color must be gray. After winning Burghley in 2007 on Carousel Quest, Ballaghmor Class carried him to victory again today. They used up the rail they had in hand early

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class win Burghley.
Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class win Burghley.

on in the course, but managed to jump clean with only one time fault.

It was a tough course — only five horses jumped double clear and a total of six had no fences down.

Burghley Final Results
Final Results of the 2017 Burghley Horse Trials.

Don’t be fooled by the victory lap. Townend chose to ride Samuel Thomas. The pair finished in 21st place.


Oliver Townend Takes the Lead at Burghley

After the first rider on course, Tina Cook on Star Witness, galloped around with a double clear, speculation was rife that this year’s Burghley XC course was too easy. By the end of the day, that misconception had been put to rest as the course caught out some of the biggest names in eventing, and shuffled the lederboard considerably and leaving it open for Oliver Townend to move into the lead on a horse making his four star debut — Ballaghmor Class.

Burghley Results after XC
The Burghley lederboard looks a bit different after cross country.

The biggest shock of the day was when Michael Jung retired La Biosthetique Sam FBW, after the gelding ran out at the first of the triple brushes at the Trout Hatchery, costing him 20 points. This was the first time the gelding had accumulated a cross country jumping penalty in his international career.

Another surprise was when overnight leader Mark Todd parted company with Leonidas II at Discovery Valley, dashing his hopes for a sixth Burghley win.

Andrew Nicholson was also eliminated after a fall at the Storm Doris combination when Quanza left out a stride but came back for a successful round on Nereo, putting him in

In the end, Tina Cook’s double clear was an anomaly. Only two other pairs made the optimum time of 11 minutes, 14 seconds. Seventy five percent of the 60 starters completed, but only fifty percent jumped clean. Fifteen pairs were eliminated or retired on course.