In the fall of 2018, local rider and farrier Mike Isles traveled to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC as part of the team of official farriers. Mike was kind enough to answer some questions about his trip, and about the event!
In the US there is no formal education requirement to become a farrier. There are many farrier schools throughout the country but most only provide a very basic level of instruction, after which most students will become an apprentice and work with an experienced farrier for a period of time as well as continuing their education through conferences and clinics. I wasn’t able to attend a farrier school at the time so I began working with a local farrier as a helper. After a while I got “promoted” to pulling shoes and finishing feet, and slowly from there I worked my way up to doing what I do now.
Before anyone criticizes the facility, I think it’s important to remember that Tryon was not originally the host for these games. Bromont was awarded the games in 2014 but had to back out due to lack of funding in 2016. That meant Tryon had less than 2 years to prepare for hosting one of the most multi-faceted, highest caliber equestrian events in the world. Some would continue to argue that if they weren’t fully prepared to host this event they shouldn’t have offered but without Tryon offering to host this event there quite literally may not have been a 2018 WEG
With that being said, when I arrived Monday morning for my first day of work I was very impressed with how the facility weathered the storm and how well it had been set up to disguise the fact that it was actually still under construction. The footing in the rings looked to hold up very well, the barns and other outbuildings were dry, and the walkways and roadways were well maintained and nicely decorated. There were banners set up to cover the ongoing construction, one area had huge banners hanging vertically that touted something having to do with the WEG or Tryon. I was several days into my stay before I realized that they weren’t just banners put up purely to be decorative, but that they were hung on the elevator shafts that were in place for a hotel that was under construction. Had someone not pointed it out I would have just thought they were great banners for an awesome event. There will always be critics, but in my opinion they did a fantastic job.
By far the biggest highlight of my trip was having a front row seat, right at the in-gate, to watch the US win the team showjumping. Winning would have been exciting enough but to end up with a jump off to decide the winner was intense. As if all of that wasn’t enough, it all came down to the last horse and rider McClain Ward and Clinta. When they walked in the ring it was so quiet you probably could have heard a pin drop in that fancy synthetic footing. I’m pretty sure everybody was holding their breath, I know I was. To be so close, close enough to see the expression on the rider’s face or to be able to see the subtle aids that it takes to get the job done, that is a memory I will not soon forget.
My name is Madelyn Sano, and my experience at the 2018 Zone 2 Hunter Finals was the biggest, and most competitive final I have ever been to. I am 18 years old, and I ride out of Hunter Way Farm with Tracy James-Pedersen. I ride a lovely KWPN mare named, Mahogany aka Hogs and this is our second year as a team. Hogs is always the life of the party and has one of the most prominent personalities that I’ve seen in a horse. Her favorite treats are peppermints and dinner is her favorite time of day. As for me, I am from Clifton Park, New York, and I am currently taking a gap-semester from school and will be beginning college in the spring.
The horse show I recently attended was Zone 2 Hunter Finals. It was my second year competing at this horse show and venue, and I had a great experience both times. This show was on October 21, 2018, and was located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This show is very different than the other shows that Hogs and I show at because we don’t usually show in a colosseum, but this venue was beautiful. At the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, they have two warm-up arenas and one main show area. As for the stalls, they were just a few steps away from the gate. Per usual, the footing was exceptional. It was soft, fluffy, and not too deep─it was perfect for Hogs. The crew and management were helpful, efficient, and made the show run right on track. Unfortunately the division I show in, Children's Hunter Horses 15-17, was the last division of the day and although I hacked in the show ring at 5:45 that morning, I didn’t end up showing until 7:00 pm. I ended up walking away with two eighth places over fences, and we took the win in the hack!
This horse was not a show where you could just show up at, I had to qualify for it, which was very hard. Qualifying for this final took months and months of horse showing, and I ended up sixth on the qualifying list, and they accept 16 riders. I had to attend A circuit horse shows such as HITS, Vermont Summer Festival, and many others to get the points I needed to qualify. I think I was as prepared as I could be for this show because I have a lot of experience in the Children’s Hunters, but of course, I was very nervous to show against the best horses and riders in the zone. In order to keep my nerves under control, I try to keep my show routine low stressed and straightforward because I tend to get stressed out and nervous before showing. Luckily I had my fantastic groom for the weekend, Brianna Pedersen to help me and get Hogs bathed and prepped for my classes. Aside from the actual showing, I enjoyed watching the other classes, including the Grand Prix on Saturday night. It had riders such as, Mclain Ward, Lillie Keenan, Beezie Madden, and many other incredible riders that I look up to. This was probably the best part of the show.
I had an amazing experience at Zone 2 Hunter Finals and it’s a show I hope to return to. Since I will be starting college soon, this also means that my junior career is coming to an end. Competing in junior divisions has been so incredibly fun and rewarding, but I think I’m ready to jump into the world of amateurs! Unfortunately, this is the last horse show of the season for me, but I hope to travel to horse shows throughout the winter with my new status.
Green Mountain Horse Association Horse Show Review
Recently I’ve found myself an empty nester as both daughters are off to college, leaving me more time for my third equine child and I to spend showing. By day I work in marketing at GTM Payroll Services, which funds my equine habit. My mare, Lucy, and I fall into the “aged” category. She has much more experience and knowledge than I do. May, 2017 was the first time I showed at the Saratoga Springs Horse Show (and possibly the last). It was a positive experience that got me thinking about trying another multi-day show. The hole in the May 2018 calendar prompted some searching for new venues to start off the outdoor season. Quiet Run ventured to South Woodstock, VT for the GMHA (Green Mountain Horse Association) Spring Hunter Jumper show. This show offered a range of classes from pleasure classes to jumpers.
The show is just a few miles south of Woodstock, VT nestled in a valley complete with a running stream, beautiful views and a quiet road free from busy auto traffic. There are many options for housing close by with Woodstock, VT - a quintessential New England town complete with town green and historic buildings - offering the most. The grounds for the GMHA are excellent. There are 6 permanent barns with stall doors and matted floors as well as an overhang to keep dry. They even provide wheel barrows on the premises to use. In addition to hunters/jumpers, the facility also hosts dressage, eventing, competitive trail riding and driving. There are two main show rings with a large warm-up ring between the two. For one of the show rings you can cross a stream from the warm-up ring or take the longer walk around if your horse isn’t water friendly. Footing in the rings was excellent and held up well in the rain. It’s a European geo-textile footing. There is also a third ring where the derbies were held which included some of the eventing fences. You won’t find cell phone coverage on the grounds except in one of the buildings. Plus or a minus depending on your point of view. Most important, there is a permanent snack bar building with plenty of food options.
What I like about showing is the opportunity to put my best effort together with my horse’s. That is what makes riding interesting to me – there are two of us in it together trying to merge as one. Some days that works out better than others. At the GMHA I had a lovely ride in one ring for the modified adult equitation. The highlight was that we were consistent for the division (a rare event in my world) and were awarded a reserve champion. Moving to the special hunters on the same day in a different ring was a different story. Lucy decided that this ring provided the perfect venue to stretch out and run. It was a good reminder lesson that horses can change from trip to trip and you need to adjust to that. I find that bad experiences can also help build confidence. I survived to ride another day. We are headed back to GMHA and I hope to conquer the ring of terror this time.