What's Happenin'

A Sidelines blog

Archive for September, 2013

A World of Riders: Bringing Student Rider Nations Cup Back to the United States

September 27, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By: Kate McManis

It happens every four years; the torch is lit, the rings are raised, and the games begin. It is a dream of almost every athlete to represent his or her nation in a world competition and it is an experience and honor that can never be forgotten. Though not yet an Olympian myself (still keeping my fingers crossed), I have been lucky enough to represent the United States of America three times at Student Rider Nations Cup (SNRC) competitions. They were all three amazing events I will never forget.

In my final year at Virginia Intermont College, I filled a last minute need for a third American on the riding team for a competition in Romania. I packed my bags, met my teammates in the airport, and flew over the Atlantic to Transylvania. Upon landing, we shuttled with the German team to the show grounds where we were enthusiastically welcomed by student riders from Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, Romania, and more. Such was the beginning of many friendships I still maintain today. The next three days were a whirlwind of dressage, show jumping, city touring, rural Transylvania pond swimming, and the whole weekend culminated with me standing on a podium and receiving a bronze award in the name of my nation. The experience was incredible. I have participated twice again since in Spain and in Germany. Now, I would like to bring this special event back to America.

The organization through which SNRC’s are managed is the Association Internationale de Estudiant Cavaliers (AIEC). It is a non-profit organization focused on providing student riders the opportunity to experience international competition, to encourage multi-cultural interaction and camaraderie, and to do all of this at a minimum expense to the student competitor. The American Student Rider Organization (ASRO) is the non-profit American branch that organizes all participation from the United States. We have now proudly sent riders to Germany, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Romania, Italy, even South Korea, but it has been ten years since we hosted our European and Asian friends. With a little help, that could soon change.

Thanks to the very generous support of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, the ASRO now has a facility to offer to host the AIEC 2014 World Finals in Wellington, FL. Already an international winter destination, Wellington is an exciting location to offer to our student riders. We want to present and promote American equine competition and production and hope to draw large numbers of spectators and public participation. But we cannot produce such an event without additional help from our equine community.

At this time, the ASRO is looking to raise approximately $45,000, which will provide all our participants, competitors, and organizers with necessary food and accommodations as well as cover the expenses of FEI approved judges, awards, programs, and evening events. More information for possible supporters or future competitors can be found on our websites or feel free to contact me directly at the addresses listed below. Any and all participation is greatly appreciated and all donations are tax deductible. Hosting an event like this directly affects the lives of countless students from nations across the world. Please consider joining us and becoming a part of this next great experience.


Kate McManis

American Student Rider Organization

Secretary and Competitor

(724) 613 2776    americanstudentriders@gmail.com


ASRO website: http://studentridersusa.webs.com/

AIEC website: http://www.aiecworld.com/

AIEC statues: http://www.aiecworld.com/bram/doc/AIEC_STATUTES.pdf

Good Food Hunting: Dressage at Devon

September 26, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Fig, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Naan Pizza from The Pub at Wegmans.

Dressage at Devon is well underway. The breed show itself takes place earlier in the week with the performance horses coming in to finish off the weekend. Much like the Devon Horse Show it promotes a worldly feel in a old time venue just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s a place where champions meet and the food in the area can’t be beat!

Dressage at Devon’s iconic pumpkins!

Myself during Dressage at Devon enjoying Ladies' Hat Day and all the other refreshments and fun!

Enjoying Dressage at Devon’s Ladies’ Hat Day and all the other refreshments and fun!

Of course I love partaking in the ladies hat day, but the food element is always worth talking about! The venue itself boasts some great finds just like the Harbor Sweets booth where you can sample chocolate daily.

Harbor Sweets/Dark Horse Chocolates booth at Dressage at Devon. A great place to get some sweetness in your day!

But say you want to get away from the show and have a good meal. My first recommendation will be to go to Wegmans. It’s about a ten minute drive pending traffic. Now before you get all grocery stored out on me, they do have a very nice and very cost affordable restaurant called the Pub– and they serve alcohol. After a long day it’s a great way to go out to dinner “as is” to kick back and enjoy a good meal. If you decide that this may not be the right location for dinner, then stop in and grab a growler of their seasonal beer selections and take it with you to enjoy! You can read my full review here, but the pictures may just sway you all the same:

The Pub at Wegmans. Photo courtesy of The Artful Diner.

Speck and Buratta with smoked salumi, roasted mushrooms and peas topped with truffle butter.

If you realize you’re going to have to wait to eat anywhere locally, then I suggest a short jaunt to Four Dogs Tavern. If you have your dogs with you, bring them along! The name “Four Dogs Tavern” comes from the print of four foxhounds that hangs just inside the entrance. The original was painted by Louis Godefroy Jadin. I always thought the name was due to the fact that you could bring your four legged friends enjoy in the atmosphere and food as well. I suppose that’s a large part of it too! They’re located in the Brandywine section of Pennsylvania, about thirty minutes from Devon. Consider this a city bistro with well trained staff, a greatly executed menu and a laid back atmosphere in the country. The food is out of this world, so definitely go hungry.

Artisanal Goat Cheese with Figs, Pistachio and Country Toast.

Crab Nachos with Avocado Sour Cream.

Definitely enjoy your time at the show, but more importantly for the sake of foodies everywhere- enjoy the food! To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship and Smart Little Mustang Voted Fan Favorite

September 25, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

Fort Worth, TX – September, 2013 — Dan James and Smart Little Mustang, also known as “Punk” demonstrated what can be achieved in the Double Dan Horsemanship Program at the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Mustang Million. After several days of competition in the Legends Division, James and Punk earned their way to the Mustang Million Zoetis Free Style Finals with 19 other competitors.

Inspired by the Tonto character in the recent film The Lone Ranger, James and Punk brought the audience to their feet with a performance that showcased the horsemanship and entertainment that Double Dan Horsemanship is known for. Performing bare back and at liberty, James illustrated the partnership and trust he has developed with this once wild mustang.

As the final judges scores were totaled, the audience was given their chance to vote for their favorite. James and Punk placed fourth in the prestigious Zoetis Free Style finals and, to great honor, was announced as the 2013 Mustang Million Fan Favorite.

“Mustang Million has been an incredible ride, to be picked as fan favorite was a real honor in the midst of such great horsemen and women,” stated James. “Punk was a super star and once again reminded me how incredible these animals are. I look forward to sharing the very talented Smart Little Mustang with the world.”



About Double Dan Horsemanship

Since their debut as “The Dan and Dan Show” in 2008, Double Dan Horsemanship is quickly becoming a household name in the equine industry.  The duo have been noted for performing at every major Royal show in Australia and many large equine events in the United States, earning championships at the “Way of the Horse” at Equitana Asia Pacific in 2008, Road to the Horse International 2012 and the Mane Event 2012 Trainer’s Challenge.  They have been crowd favorites in the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games, Australia’s Got Talent, Australian National Cutting Horse Futurities, Equine Affaire and many others. As one of the hottest-selling equine acts in the industry, they continue to expand their horizons.

Dan James and Dan Steers have spent their time traveling the world sharing their unique brand of horsemanship and inspiring horse owners.  Double Dan Horsemanship invites riders of any skill level to push the boundaries of horsemanship. Dan and Dan instruct horsemanship clinics and produce training tools to simplify the training process.  Learn more about Double Dan Horsemanship atwww.doubledanhorsemanship.com.

Diary of a Podium Hopeful: The Countdown Begins

September 24, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

by Sophie St.Clair

The countdown to the USHJA Children’s and Adult Amateur Regional Jumper Championships begins! Last week I received a mail from the USHJA outlining the format of the week, the schedule of events and my teammates and Chef d’Equipe. I will be on Team Number 1 from California with Lauren Kee, Jayme Omand and Peyton Masteller. Our Chef is Kelly Van Vleck.

CH/AA West Region Jumper Championships Schedule of Events. Photo Credit USHJA

CH/AA West Region Jumper Championships Schedule of Events. Photo Credit USHJA

My training plan has needed to be flexible the last couple of weeks. We had planned to attend the Blenheim Fall Festival to specifically work indoors.  But that plan fell apart when some of the indoor classes were changed to the grass. Then we thought we’d head to Los Angeles Equestrian Center but the Equidome was being used nearly non-stop. Going to plan B, my trainer David Sterckx said to me, “I want Sjapoo to feel like he is at a spa this week. He should be relaxed. Lots of hand walking, trail walking, not too much jumping and lots of flat work.”

Jog Format: Photo credit USHJA

Jog Format: Photo credit USHJA

So, on Wednesday I did a small flat class working on getting Sjapoo’s head down and stretching his back. I also created a packing list which I keep on the dry erase board in my trunk. Thursday, I hacked lightly. Friday, I went to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for the L.A. International Jumping Festival. Sjapoo and I took time to flat early in the morning. Then we entered the Children’s Jumper class and took first! We worked on the flat Saturday morning very early, watched a few of my teammates rake in the ribbons and then Sjapoo and I went on a trail ride in the afternoon. This is a great place to trail ride because the Equestrian Center is so large that just doing a loop around it is nice. The trails also go up into Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, up behind Forest Lawn Memorial Park and all the way up to the Will Rogers State Historic Park and Museum. I’m sure it goes much further but that’s as far as I’ve gone. Who could imagine that a person could trail ride in such a beautiful setting in the middle of a sprawling urban landscape like Los Angeles? Sunday, again we had an early morning flat and then entered a .90m jumper class just to get Sjapoo around and keep it easy for both of us. Sjapoo trailered back to our barn that afternoon. Monday I washed the poultice off his legs, and we had a long bareback ride and worked on lots of good basics.

photo (7)

No one else from my barn is going to Sacramento so we will haul up in the small trailer with just my stuff and Sjapoo. David will do the hauling and I will be the groom. Low maintenance team! So many people at my barn have been really kind to wish me good luck and to help me get to Sacramento. I will definitely take strength from their positivity and encouragement. I’m very lucky to train at this barn.

We leave by car for Sacramento after the morning rush hour in L.A. My mom, my brother and I will follow David and Sjapoo. My dad will fly after work to meet us there. It’s about 400 miles to Rancho Cordova just outside Sacramento where the Murieta Equestrian Center is located. It will be a long day in the car and will be perfect to try to wrap up my pile of homework before the show gets started. Stay tuned for mini updates as we head into competition.

Sophie St.Clair stoked for Sacramento

Sophie St.Clair stoked for Sacramento

To find out more about:

The Children’s and Adult Amateur Regional Jumper Championships:


Kelly Van Vleck:


Sacramento International Horse Show


Wellington Barnes and Noble Goes Big Over Small Equines This Saturday

September 19, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

Wellington, FL (September 19, 2013) – Families and horse lovers, mark your calendars now for 11:00 a.m. this Saturday, September 21, when Wellington’s Barnes and Noble Booksellers at 10500 West Forest Hill Boulevard goes big over small equines with an appearance by American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) hooved ambassadors and namesakes, ‘Barnes’ and ‘Noble.’


The two ‘Minis’ are brothers as identical as bookends, and will be part of a family-friendly morning festival celebrating The Big Book of Small Equines, co-authored by Florida horsewomen and equine publishing professionals Johnny Robb (JRPR, Inc.) and Jan Westmark (Sidelinesmagazine). Mini horse enthusiasts will also have the chance to purchase The Big Book of Small Equines and have it signed by either Johnny Robb or the ponies, who will ‘sign’ their names with paintbrushes.


Mini horses Barnes and Noble will make an appearance at their namesake store this Saturday, Septemeber 21, at the Wellington store. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Robb)

Mini horses Barnes and Noble will make an appearance at their namesake store this Saturday, Septemeber 21, at the Wellington store. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Robb)


Free posters, generously provided by AMHR, will be available along with the chance to meet Barnes and Noble, and talk about Miniature Horses with their equestrian handlers, Klendy and Kayden Mueller.


No strangers to the Wellington booksellers, Barnes and Noble joined the equestrian-themed festivities there in June celebrating the release of NY Times best-selling mystery author (and dressage rider) Tami Hoag’s most recent thriller, The 9th Girl.


The Big Book of Small Equines: A Celebration of Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies is a lavish look at the world’s most adorable horse breeds. While Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies are the smallest of all equines, the enthusiasm of their owners and fans is gigantic. And with good reason: Minis and Shetlands are as versatile as they are cuddly, found in backyards and indoors where they make perfect pets, and in show arenas where they are as fiercely competitive as equines ten times their size.


The book begins with a brief history of the breeds, influential horses and breeders, and growth in the breeds’ popularity. Owners and devotees share delightful “member of the family” anecdotes. How small equines excel as show horses looks at riding, driving, and breed classes and ‘heartwarming’ describes their roles as companion and therapy partners, including as guiding eyes for the blind). With 150 color illustrations, The Big Book of Small Equines is as captivating as its Saturday morning Barnes and Nobles guests will be.

SmartPak Introduces New and Improved SmartVite Formulas Four Multi-Vitamins Target Horse Age and Workload

September 19, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

PLYMOUTH, MA—September 18, 2013— A horse owner survey revealed that seven out of ten horses do not get a full serving of fortified grain or complete feed. Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are critical to the proper functioning of every major body system, including immune, digestive, nervous, circulatory, musculoskeletal, respiratory, endocrine and skin. If your horse is getting less than the full serving of fortified grain or complete feed than what is listed on his grain bag he may need one of the four formulas in SmartPak’s new and improved SmartVite line of vitamin/mineral supplements.


“Each of the four targeted formulas in the new SmartVite line is carefully balanced to offer optimal nutrition based on your horse’s age and workload,” said Jessica Normand, SmartPak’s Senior Director of SmartSupplements. “And what’s great is that we’ve set up an easy-to-follow chart on our website that makes it simple to find which formula is right for your horse.”


All formulas in the SmartVite line include the full spectrum of water and fat soluble vitamins, as well as vital macro and micro minerals. They are available in buckets or in exclusive SmartPaks. The pelleted formulas taste great—even without grain—and are easy to feed.The new SmartVite lineup includes the following four formulas:

· SmartVite Thrive Pellets for adult horses (age 2-14) in light or no work

· SmartVite Thrive Senior Pellets for senior horses (age 15+) in light or no work

· SmartVite Perform Pellets for adult horses (age 2-14) in moderate or heavy work

· SmartVite Perform Senior Pellets for senior horses (age 15+) in moderate or heavy work


“The SmartVite family is one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful line of multi-vitamins on the market today,” said Normand. “In addition to being perfectly tailored to a horse’s individual needs, the tasty pellets make feeding them extremely easy!”


Ordering any of the four SmartVite formulas in SmartPaks is a smart choice, as all SmartPaks over $40 qualify for free ground shipping. Plus, they’re Guaranteed to Work! If you order a SmartVite in SmartPaks and you don’t see results after two months, SmartPak will give you your money back. To find the right SmartVite formula for your horse, and to place an order, go to www.SmartPak.com/SmartVite


About SmartPak

From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness. With the success of this simple and convenient feeding system, SmartPak has continued to expand its offering of quality products, including its own line of more than 60 supplement formulas called SmartSupplements, and a wide variety of tack, equipment, and supplies. The company has grown rapidly each year and is now the largest retailer of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak’s success has been powered by a passion for delivering an unbeatable customer experience, and the company has been recognized with a Bizrate Circle of Excellence Platinum award as well as an “Excellent” rating from STELLAService. A nine-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree, SmartPak is the only equine company ever named to the Inc. 500 list.

Good Food Hunting: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

September 19, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Roasted red pepper hummus is vibrant and full of flavor.

Roasted red pepper hummus is vibrant and full of flavor.

Hummus is one of the great many time savers in an equestrians life. It works as satiating snack item to help you avoid that ravenous feeding frenzy of processed foods and carbs that you struggle to deal with later on after consumption. Packed with tons of nutrients and not a lot of junk, it can be your new best friend for many a weeknight meals.

Roasted red pepper hummus enjoyed with vegetables.

Roasted red pepper hummus enjoyed with vegetables.

In my recipe below I recommend using dried beans as the base for the hummus. This process isn’t really a shortcut in time saving techniques, but in a lot of ways the recipe is low maintenance and allows you to shower and take care of other errands as the beans work themselves out. I actually learned that this overnight soaking helps to release excess gases in the beans. I know you all can put it together, but it’s something worth mentioning! As far as the cooking liquid called for in the recipe, this starchy broth helps bind the hummus together and gives you a nice creamy base. But if you’re pressed for time, two cans of garbanzo beans will do the trick (drained of course).

Roasted red pepper hummus plated and ready for enjoyment at your next social gathering.

Roasted red pepper hummus plated and ready for enjoyment at your next social gathering.

While I recommend roasted red peppers in this recipe, you can feel free to add your own take on it such as sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted), roasted garlic, pesto, or chipotle peppers. You could even enjoy it plain. I find the real magic happens after it’s made Of course it’s a great dip for vegetables and crackers. As a second meal, it’s a great binder and moisturizer for a vegetable wrap. Once it starts to dry out a bit, that’s when you coat chicken breasts in it and bake it. The chicken always turns out super flavorful and moist with a great crust. Basically enjoy using it up until it’s gone!

Hummus enjoyed on a flatbread piled on with a mountain of fresh veggies.

Hummus enjoyed on a flatbread piled on with a mountain of fresh veggies.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 cup dried garbanzo beans

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 roasted red peppers

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small lemon, squeezed for juice

2 tablespoons of tahini, optional

Salt and Pepper


Let beans sit overnight in about six cups of water.

Drain and rinse beans. Place Beans and six cups of cold water into a large saucepan with the lid slightly cracked. Cook on medium heat for about one hour or until the Beans lose their mealiness when tasted. Remove from heat. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the beans.

In a food processor or blender, place the beans, garlic, peppers, lemon and tahini in. Pulse until the ingredients are incorporated. Slowly add in the olive oil while the food processor is running. Once fully incorporated, test consistency. Depending on individual preferences, you’ll need to add small amounts of your cooking liquid until you get your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for about one hour before serving. Can be made ahead of time and stored in refridgerator before using.

Serve with carrots, radishes, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli or any other desired vegetables.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Diary of a Podium Hopeful: A Champion Concept

September 18, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

by Sophie St.Clair

As a part of this blog series I wanted to share information about the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Children’s and Adult Amateur Regional Jumper Championship. The USHJA views this program as an introduction to the team experience and an opportunity to identify and develop up and coming talent. What better way to share the information about this exciting new program than getting it straight from the horse’s mouth? Yes, pun intended.

I spoke with two important figures in the creation and implementation of the program. Meghan Carney is the Director of Jumper Programs at the USHJA and liaison to the Jumper Working Group for any issues that arise regarding the Championships. I also spoke to professional rider and trainer Jeff Campf.  He is the Chairman of the USHJA Ch/AA Jumper Regional Championship and a member of the task force that was formed to create the concept for this program. They each represent two very important sides of the program that I really wanted to look at: the organizational and the athletic development.

Sophie St.Clair watches a round at the Portuguese Bend National Horse Show.

Sophie St.Clair watches a round at the Portuguese Bend National Horse Show.

Both Ms. Carney and Mr. Campf shared that this group of riders, Children’s and Adult Amateurs, represent a large percentage of the USHJA membership. This membership felt strongly there should be a championship that recognized their contribution to the sport.  In fact, for this division alone the USHJA web site reports there are approximately 2,500 Children’s jumpers and 2,045 Adult Amateur jumpers nationwide. To be qualified and selected to participate is no small feat. Why was it important to the members to have their own championship? Mr. Campf said, “Many reasons: teaching goal oriented strategy throughout the season to qualify with a sound, confident horse, to learn format and rules of team jumping, to give riders at this level an exciting opportunity for a meaningful Championship.”  With this Championship the USHJA recognized this groups support of the sport and created a pipeline to identify riders who will potentially represent the U.S. in North American and International arenas in the future.

A task force was assembled by the USHJA to develop the concept. It included Eric Straus, Charlotte Skinner, Britt McCormick, David Wright, Sandra Ruiz and the new Chef d’Equipe of the U.S. Show Jumping Team, Robert Ridland. Mr. Campf said, “The members were selected because of their interest in growing our sport through education/competition geared to moving our motivated riders up through what the USHJA calls ‘the pipeline’ giving riders the information of how to grow step by step toward the USET.”

Modeled off a Nations Cup format, it is similar to other USHJA and USEF programs in that it has both a team and individual component. The uniquely different feature of the program is that there are four regional championships rather than one national event. Ms. Carney shared that by starting with regional events the hope is to provide greater participation and access to riders who want to compete. Competing regionally also means less cost for teams that would need to travel. Mr. Campf said, “Another important factor was simply geography. We need representation in every part of our huge and diverse country to ensure the continuity, progress, and improvements to this Championship.”

The USHJA is committed to developing talent from this group of riders. As an example, the Individual Children’s Winner at each event will receive an invitation to an Emerging Athletes Program Regional Clinic in 2014.  Ms. Carney and Mr. Campf see winning medals from this championship as achievements that are resume’ worthy for ambitious riders. Mr. Campf’s intention with this program is “…to give the participants a better idea of steps to follow to get themselves positioned to be recognized, not to wait and hope it happens.”

Sophie feeds Sjapoo a well deserved carrot after a blue ribbon round.

Sophie feeds Sjapoo a well deserved carrot after a blue ribbon round.

As with any new venture, there have been some challenges such as communication about the program and additional sponsorship to meet the program’s growing needs. In 2014, the USHJA will continue to focus communication to its members about participation in the program. Both Mr. Campf and Ms. Carney are very optimistic that what is learned from the experience in this inaugural year can only make for an improved process in the coming years.  Additionally, there is a need for generous sponsors like Fenwick Equestrian Products. This sponsor provided all of the champion coolers to both the Children’s and Adult sections for the teams and individual winners. An opportunity to be associated with this program as it grows in popularity will attract potential sponsors. Ms. Whitney Allen, USHJA Director of Marketing and Communications added, “…sponsors can contribute in various ways through monetary and product support from individuals and companies to promotions through media partners.”

When asked what is most important for participants to take away from the experience, Mr. Campf said, “I personally hope that the process of preparing for and competing in these championships will shed some light on the requirements and expectations of riding in international events one day.”  Ms. Carney remarked, “I think the education about the work and horsemanship that goes into High Performance is one of the most important things to take away from the championships. Riders have the chance to compete in a format that isn’t too far removed from the Olympics!”  

I would love nothing more than to be competing for the United States one day. After speaking with Ms. Carney and Mr. Campf it’s clear the Task Force has expanded their pipeline to identify riders at my level who share that goal. It’s thrilling that this kind of competition exists at a level I can compete in today. It only makes me more motivated to set my goals on NAJYRC and Prix de States in the future. If their goal was to educate and motivate riders toward High Performance opportunities, well, they succeeded. I’m hooked!

Trainer David Sterckx with Sophie St.Clair and teammate Julia Otter.

Trainer David Sterckx with Sophie St.Clair and teammate Julia Otter.

A huge thanks to Jeff Campf, Meghan Carney and Whitney Allen on behalf of the USHJA for sharing their thoughts with me and with all of us.

For more information about Jeff Campf follow this link:


For more information about this program contact Meghan Carney:



Grand Champions Polo Club 2013 Fall Season Countdown Begins

September 13, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

WELLINGTON, FL-Sept. 13, 2013—The two-week countdown has begun for the fall polo season in Wellington.


After a successful spring season, Grand Champions Polo Club will host what promises to be one of the most competitive fall seasons in club history.


Nine tournaments are scheduled, including two 20-goal tournaments in November for the club’s sixth fall season.


The Tackeria Invitational, scheduled for Sept. 27-29, is the first of seven medium goal tournaments, set for Palm City Polo Club in Boca Raton.


The fall season-opener will be warm-up matches to shake the rust off and fine tune for the season.


The remaining fall tournaments hosted at Grand Champions Polo Club are the Oct. 4-6 USPA Fall Classic, Oct. 13-15 USPA Kay Colee Memorial; Oct. 18-20 US Trust Cup, Oct. 25-27 USPA Fall Plates; Nov.1-3 Pedro Morrison Memorial and Nov. 8-10 Palm Restaurant Invitational.


The two 20-goal tournaments are the prestigious Oct. 30-Nov. 9 USPA North America Cup and Nov. 13-24 The National 20-Goal Championship.


Audi's Grant Ganzi keeps posses

Audi’s Grant Ganzi keeps posses

sion of the ball despite Piaget’s charging Juan Bollini, Brandon Phillips and Melissa Ganzi. Photo by Scott Fisher

Sponsors, players and teams are still being finalized by Grand Champions owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, who will both compete during the fall in preparation for the high goal season.


Hall of Famer and 8-goaler Mike Azzaro heads the pro lineup. Azzaro is scheduled to play the entire fall season. For several tournaments Azzaro will compete with rising young stars and national champions Juancito Bollini, Wes Finlayson and Grant Ganzi.


On the pro roster, Azzaro will be joined by 8-goaler Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini, Joey Casey, Canadian Brandon Phillips, JJ Celis and Kris Kampsen. The newest player to join the lineup is Gigi Aguero, a former 7-goaler.


Audi's Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor and Mike Azzaro teaming up as a pack against Piaget. Photo by Scott Fisher

Audi’s Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor and Mike Azzaro teaming up as a pack against Piaget. Photo by Scott Fisher

Among sponsors returning is David Krantz and his YP.Com team.


Krantz, based in Atlanta, has been playing polo off-and-on for fifteen years. After an eight-year layoff, he started competing at Grand Champions two years ago.


“It’s a pleasure and a treat to come down here,” Krantz said. “I try to play at least one tournament each season. I love coming down and seeing Marc and Melissa and playing with Juan, he’s been a good coach for me.”


During the 2012 fall season, Audi dominated the season winning back-to-back USPA North America Cup and USPA National 20-Goal Tournament titles with Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan and Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida. In the national 20-goal final, Audi edged Piaget, 10-9.


More than fifty invitations were sent out to padrons who have competed at the club in the past five seasons. High goal team owners were also invited.


The fall season is great preparation for the 20- and 26-goal seasons for 2014 in Wellington.


Rosters and lineups change from tournament to tournament. Evenly-matched teams are put together to help build players skills and performance.


All tournaments are USPA-sanctioned and have grown in stature since their start in the mid-1990s.




Sept. 27-29, Tackeria Invitational, Palm City, Boca Raton


Oct. 4-6, USPA Fall Classic


Oct. 13-15, USPA Kay Colee Memorial


Oct. 18-20, US Trust Cup


Oct. 25-27, USPA Fall Plates


Oct. 30-Nov. 9, USPA North America Cup


Nov. 1-3, Pedro Morrison Memorial


Nov. 8-10, Palm Restaurant Invitational


Nov. 13-24,The National 20-Goal Championship




WHERE: 18000 Jog Road, Boca Raton, 561-289-9099 (Club entrance is the first flashing light north of Clint Moore Road).




WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 561-644-5050.


INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch high and medium goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.


Diary of a Podium Hopeful: The Trainer

September 13, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

by Sophie St.Clair

As I examine the last year of competition with Sjapoo and contemplate the experience I have in front of me it occurs to me that I am not alone in that process. Over the last year my trainer David Sterckx has been prepping in his own way. Originally from Brussels, Belgium David moved to California 5 years ago to join his sister Caroline, the Riding School Director at my barn. He is a former student of Nelson Pessoa and Jos Kumps. His accomplishments include being a former member of the Belgian Junior National Show Jumping Team, Belgian Junior Champion and 4th in the European Junior Championships. Additionally, he was the winner of the European Puissance Championship at 2.25M when he was only 17. He’s no stranger to the pressure of performance for a junior rider. With that in mind, I sat down with David recently to have him talk about his training methods that have brought us to this point.

Trainer David Sterckx

Trainer David Sterckx

Q: What is your basic philosophy of training a horse?

A: My philosophy of a show jumping horse is to consider him like an athlete. To insure he feels good and he’s in good shape. And, to do all that we need to do have him ready to perform.


From my last blog I mentioned “I am working very hard to stay mentally and physically relaxed and to stick with the program that has been working for us in the past several weeks.”

Q: What is the program and what has been working?

A: It’s a matter of helping you to understand that you need to get Sjapoo to be your friend and not to fight with him when he does a mistake or he does something wrong. Otherwise, he’s not going to help you when you need it. When you were making little mistakes he didn’t want to help you. He was afraid to go in the ring and his eyes were coming out of his face and the same with you too. I think you understand that now and when you’re more relaxed it works better. But we still have to work on some things….the jump offs. (laughs)


Q: What did you think when we bought Sjapoo?

A: What I thought is still the same as today it was something that was going to be challenging and difficult but when it was going to work it will be very good. I remember I said to you at the beginning of the year when you were running into trouble that when everything is going to work and you will be in tune with him you two will be hard to beat. And it’s almost the case right now.


Q: Why did you think Sjapoo would be good for me?

A: I don’t know….(laughs) . I think he would be good for any rider. The rider needs to be ready to work harder than the others and go through some doubt and trouble.  But, like I said, when everything is working well and he feels good, the rider is good then it’s going to be really good.


Q: What did you discover about me and Sjapoo as a team?

A: That I was right!

David Sterckx talks with Sophie St.Clair after her round.

David Sterckx talks with Sophie St.Clair after her round.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in our partnership?

A: The biggest challenge was to have you and Sjapoo to understand each other and to have fun. You are a little aggressive rider. If a horse is going to stop.…well… with you he’s going to be in trouble. You’re a fighter and some times it’s too much and Sjpaoo is very careful, very sensitive. If you press him a little too much he starts to panic and then nothing works anymore.


Q: What were 3 things you worked on most with us this year?

A: First just the basics of riding that we would work on with any horse. To be smooth, relaxed and not so aggressive. That’s the way you need to ride him. With some horses it’s better to be aggressive but with Sjapoo that doesn’t work. He’s fast anyway no matter what. Even if you think you’re going slowly, if you’re clear then you’ll be in the top 3-4 at least. Second, to tell you the truth the next thing is not so easy…. It’s to work on you when you go in the ring. To go to have fun and not like you’re going to war and your life depends on the result (laughs). The last thing is more about the horse itself. For you to take some time with your horse and keep in mind that it’s an animal with feelings.


Q: What are your plans for us going forward?

A: Right now we need to keep going on the track we are on. We’ll see up to what level we can go without being too hard on Sjapoo. To keep it safe and good for him.

A pat on the back for a job well done.

A pat on the back for a job well done.

Q: How do you address the sport psychology aspect of the sport?

A: I need my own sports psychologist! I think it’s great and very important. I don’t think an athlete can perform at high levels without having someone to talk with besides the trainer and parents. It needs to be someone from outside who knows about sport and knows about the pressure that an athlete has. I think it’s as important as a good trainer and a good horse.


Q: What are you most proud of with this team?

A: That we didn’t give up. (smiling)