Sunday, January 24, 2016

Isabella Baxter

Monday, January 18, 2016

Florida Vacations - Equestrian Style

by Brenda Mueller

It's that time of year when the temperatures drop and equestrians seek some fun in the sun.

Equestrians can never really seem to get away from horses, even when they're on vacation. When those cold, dark, snowy days get you feeling the need for sun and fun, head to Florida on one of the many flight deals and get ready for some equestrian fun. There's something for every horse lover from jumping and polo to dressage and racing, so get ready to plan your getaway.

Stop in at the Winter Equestrian Festival to see the top horses and riders in the world compete. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

First stop, Wellington and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.  From January through the first of April, you can catch  Grand Prix Show Jumping at one of the Saturday Night Lights events and treat yourself to live entertainment, food, shopping and children's activities while watching Olympian after Olympian in the ring with some of the top show jumpers in the world. You can also catch hunter derbies, ponies, clinics and more. Over 5,000 horses compete with riders from over 33 countries for over $9 million dollars in prize money over the 12 weeks. For a complete schedule of events, visit their website at

See the world's best showjumping and dressage in Wellington, FL. Photo Chicago Equestrian. 

Need a dose of dressage? Don't miss the Adequan Global Dressage Festival until May 1st. Make plans to attend Friday Night Stars, a Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle event featuring food, fun, and the highest level of dressage competition at the Stadium on select Friday evenings throughout the winter and spring seasons. Some of the best dressage combinations in the world will ride their own test to music. Fantastic dressage competition takes place weekly so don't miss your chance to see the world's top rider's in action.  See more at

Catch fast action polo at the International Polo Club. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

Polo anyone?  Head over to the International Polo Club for Sunday brunch and polo. There are plenty of events and games to choose from to get your equestrian fix while soaking up the sun during the champagne divot stomp.  Watch some of the world's top polo players compete for coveted championships. After the post-match Trophy Presentation, guests are invited to meet the players for autographs and pictures. Visit or for schedules and more information.

Pinetree Stables offers a great ride on the beach in the Bahamas.

Venturing a little further? You can cruise from West Palm Beach or Miami to the Bahamas and catch a fabulous trail ride on the beach from Pinetree Stables. Guides Linda and Chris keep it small and personal, allowing small parties of guests to ride their prized stock, most of which were bred and raised on the island. Their two hour trail ride gives you some history of the island and plenty of personal horse stories to share as you take the horses for a relaxing adventure. Even avid horse people will enjoy this ride - it's not your ordinary trail ride! Schedule early because spots are hard to get. They even take pictures during the ride and email them to you!!  Great fun for all levels of riders. Visit and tell them Chicago sent you! 

Just north of Miami is Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino. Catch live horse racing Wednesday through Sunday. Schedule a VIP Fan Tour which includes the Winner's Circle Presentation, Jockey Room Tour, Announcer's Booth, Backstretch Tour and buffet. Visit for details and post times. Hialeah Park offers Quarter Horse racing Friday through Monday until the end of February. Check for race details.

If you're on the west coast, check out Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa for racing action and Fox Lea Farm in Venice, for more of Florida's equestrian competition including quarter horses, hunter jumpers and ponies. Attend "Showjumping Under the Stars" every Friday from Jan 29th - March 3rd with food, music, family activities and a $25,000 Grand Prix. Visit, and for more information.
Watch the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at Post Time Farm in Ocala. Photo Rebecca Walton/Phelpssports.

Taking the kids to Disney? Just an hour and ½ drive north will bring to Ocala, another equestrian mecca. Stop at Horse Shows in the Sun at the Post Time Farm through the end of March, to take in high level hunter jumper competition including the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix and the  Nations Cup. Visit for the schedule.

Check out the best of driving and show jumping at Live Oak International near Ocala. This five star event is held in March and fun to attend. Visit for the schedule.

In 2007, Ocala/Marion County was officially named the “Horse Capital of the World™,” a testament to the County’s unique involvement in all things equestrian and its record of producing some of the finest champions in the sport. Take an Ocala farm tour to get a behind the scenes glimpse of some of the area's top farms. There's a self guided tour also if you want to go at your own pace. For more information on the tours, click to   and

Take a tour The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center for a therapy education. See the latest treatments for rehabilitation such as the hyperbaric chamber, swimming pools, saltwater spas and more.

You'll find more to do simply by browsing the web for equestrian events in the area you're visiting. Get out of the cold and head to one or more of these great equestrian destinations to soak up some sun and four-legged fun!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Emma Heise

This blog courtesy of Ponies and Perlantis, a website by young riders for young riders.

Sixteen year old Emma Heise from Northfield, Illinois is a competitive rider whom shows in the Junior Jumpers. She trains with Olympian Laura Kraut and currently owns nine horses. She shows them in the Junior Jumpers and the 1* and 2* classes, along with a few 3* classes in Europe.

When asked what it felt like for her to qualify, show, and even ribbon at some of the top national shows, Heise responded that "Qualifying for any national shows makes me feel that all the work that my horses and I have put in throughout the year has finally paid off."

Her favorite thing about riding and showing is that "you can be at the top one day and at the bottom the next. It is the most humbling sport there is."

Heise said that she would love to say in the horse world for as long as she can and make a career out of it. She would also love to buy, train, and sell young horses. At WEF this year, she would like to compete in the U25 classes. In the future, Heise has hopes of attending the Olympics.

She looks up to Laura Kraut and Marcus Ehning. Heise's advice to anyone who has hopes of riding and showing as much as her is to keep riding and working hard and one day it will all pay off!

Heise has been riding for about eight years, and got into the sport because her friend rode and always talked about how much she loved it so she decided she wanted to start too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An Auditor's Experience of the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session

by Elizabeth Stein

Most of us are never going to get to ride with George Morris. It’s the inconvenient truth of our sport that there are only five spots on the Olympic Show-Jumping Team and one is an alternate. Even though you might not ever get to ride with any of the greats, that doesn’t mean that there are not still plenty of opportunities to audit and learn from them. Youtube,, and (just to name a few) are the places to go for most of us, and maybe some top riders come to stables near you for the live experience.

This year though, one of my closest friends got the chance to go down to Wellington, Florida and audit a bit of the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session, and I get to live vicariously through her and tell all of you about it.  First though a brief interlude into how we met just so no one’s confused on why I’m telling this story.

Cristina Wiersma, Beezie Madden and Julia Wiersma.

I met Julia Wiersma when I transferred to Northern Illinois University last year. She was on the equestrian team and I had my heart set on joining. We bonded over our love of horses (I know its totally a cliché but it’s the truth) and now we’re roommates and I count her as one of my closest friends. So when she told me she was going down to Florida over winter break, I was insanely jealous not only because Chicago is cold and desolate, but also because she was going to visit Wellington, or to be more specific WEF, and get to see the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session.  
As we all know, this year’s Training Session was different than the past because there was no George Morris. Luckily, Julia and I were able to audit one of last clinics George taught last year at Annali-Brookwood Farm. However, even though the master wasn’t present, nothing was lacking with Christine Traurig, Beezie Madden, Lauren Hough, Anne Kursinski, and Laura Kraut at the helm.

Julia was able to relay her time at WEF back to me first hand so I can share it with you and I’m not surprised by the positive experience she had.


“Being at Wellington was such an amazing experience,” said Julia.  “Just walking onto the property was so exciting. I was just there on vacation with my family and we were able to go visit on Friday and Saturday. Seeing Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut was like seeing a movie star! It was such an amazing opportunity watching Beezie ride and to listen to her teach. I’ve watched many of George Morris’ clinics, and Beezie and Laura did a great job as the clinicians for his Horsemanship Training Session. I thought it was a great opportunity for anyone and everyone to go watch the clinic, especially since it was free. Even though it was live streamed online, being there in person gave it a more realistic feel. After each day at the clinic, I was able to get a picture with both Beezie and Laura. I was definitely star struck by them and was nervous to ask but they were so nice! They are my role models and I hope one day I will be able to ride with them!”

Julia also shared with me another important part of the clinic and that’s the sportsmanship and camaraderie it teaches outside of riding. You always hear about it but its nice to see it in action. For IHSA, we ride borrowed horses not only to practice on but at shows as well and to see others in the sport participate in the same way and loan their horses to other riders who might not have been able to participate otherwise, is always nice to hear about. 

As Julia stated, “Being on the NIU Equestrian Team, it was great to see that people offered up their horses for some of the riders to use. It means a lot to us when people so generously offer their horses."

Our sport giving back in such a unique way with clinics from our top stars, really sets us apart from other sports, especially with the fact this clinic in particular was free to audit and can still be seen for free online. It’s opportunities like these from our top riders coming back to teach up and coming riders and auditors that help to advance our sport in a real way. Even if we won’t all get to ride with George Morris, its through clinics and experiences like these that we can all benefit from his teachings.

To view the clinic online visit