By Erin Gibbs

With eight riders ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, and from beginner to advanced — Forest Edge Farm (FEF) Equestrian team made a clean sweep of wins in both the individual and team competitions at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Zone 8 final competition held at Norris Penrose Event Center on March 4-5, 2017. The team of one boy and 7 girls at FEF from Colorado Springs, CO. is coached by Karen Catov-Goodell and assisted by Rachel Pring. The decisive victories qualified FEF High School and Middle School riders for both team and individual spots at the IEA National Finals, to be held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA on April 20-23, 2017.

FEF beat more than a dozen other school teams and a dozen individual riders in each class from Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado over two days of tough competition and testing. Individual riders must finish first or second in their class in order to secure a spot at Nationals. Teams must also finish first or second overall to qualify for Nationals and it’s unusual for one team to qualify both age groups of riders. IEA riders are judged on their ability to ride “any” horse and become skilled “catch” riders, having to draw a horse from a hat and with limited practice — ride the horse over a course of jumps or on in a group without jumps (on the flat) and demonstrate a mastery of equitation.

Advanced Varsity rider and team mentor Taylor Valencia led the way with first place finishes in all of her team and individual classes. “We were prepared for this competition by putting in long hours both on-and-off the horses. This sport isn’t just about the ability to ride different types of horses, there’s also a huge mental piece too. You must be cool headed and trust your skills,” says Valencia.

Prepping for the team’s first national competition will include “mock” competitions, riding a variety of horses and studying the IEA rules book and testing questions that may be asked of the riders. “We plan to train hard in preparation for nationals and importantly, gain experience through this process,” adds Valencia. “I personally hope to do my best and start the team off strong. Dominic (Gibbs) told me that I started the winning streak and I hope to do the same at Nationals! We are a close and supportive group — I’m very excited to go to Nationals with my team!”

“Everyone worked very hard all season to qualify for Regionals, then Zones and now Nationals. It’s a long, tough road to get this far, and it takes exemplary focus and confidence,” says Coach Karen Catov-Goodell. The total team is comprised of 16 total riders, of which 8 qualified to represent FEF at Zones, and now Nationals. Catov-Goodell highlighted Junior Varsity rider, Natalie Driessen who puts in extra hours helping with barn chores at FEF. She cleaned 20+ stalls and fed 30 horses prior to riding both Saturday and Sunday, and after the long days of competition, she went back to the barn to feed and water the horses again for dinner. Natalie was FEF’s nominee for the Sportsmanship award and recognition at Zone Finals.

For all the riders except Taylor Valencia, the trip to Virginia will be their first IEA National Finals, where Olympic Gold Medalist and renowned horsewomen Melanie Smith Taylor and top judge, trainer and rider Rachel Kennedy will judge. Now a high school senior, Valencia’s first experience at Nationals was in the 2’ Varsity Intermedia Over Fences division. As a sophomore, she competed as an individual and was Reserve Champion in the 2’6” Varsity Open Over Fences division. This earned her spot to compete in the Hunt Seat Championship Class where she finished 10th. The 2017 National Finals will see 22 teams from around the country and 22 competitors per division for individual awards.

Rider parent, Kimberly Hak said, “I love the way IEA challenges the kids. IEA provides an opportunity for our young riders to participate in a team event that allows them to exhibit their riding skills as an individual, but also to share knowledge and support as a team.

For Zones, we were well prepared by our trainer Karen Catov-Goodell as she had all the team riders  lesson together and (in) each lesson the riders rode different horses.  The team learned strengths and worked through difficulties together. They shared learning experiences on the different horses and were well prepared for different types of horses they might draw.

Hak’s daughter Hailey along with fellow 8th grader Dominic Gibbs chimed in, “We are so thankful for this opportunity — and grateful to our parents for supporting all the hours, cost and driving it takes! Riding horses is an incurable disease!”

High School Team riders included: Taylor Valencia, Natalie Driessen and Aliah Char. Middle School Team riders included: Dominic Gibbs,Tess Golobic, Hailey Hak, MacKenna Moss and Amanda Walsh.  Individual riders included: Dominic Gibbs, Hailey Hak and Taylor Valencia.


Pictures courtesy of Karen Catov-Goodell




Please join the Right Step, Inc.

for their annual Fundraising Event ~

“A Good Ol’ Fashioned Hoedown” Saturday, April 29th, 2017!

The Right Step, Inc. is holding their 6th Annual Good Ol’ Fashioned Hoedown on Saturday, April 29th from noon to 5:00pm and we’d love for you to attend! It’s an event that promises fun for the whole family!  There’s a little bit of everything from horse rides to face painting to horse painting to live entertainment to a craft fair!  We’ll also be doing therapeutic riding demonstrations so you can see some of our clients in action. There will be great food, beer, wine, cider, and soft drinks. It’s all included in the price of your ticket! It’s $30 for an individual or $80 for a family (tickets at the door $10 more). Proceeds from the Hoedown help support our scholarship fund for clients whose financial situation otherwise prevents them from experiencing the benefits of therapeutic riding. Can’t wait to see you at the barn!!

To become a sponsor or to buy tickets CLICK HERE

  • GO see the best of the best compete in Omaha, Nebraska at the FEI Longines World Cup March 29-April 3.

  • CLINIC with Irish Olympic rider Kevin Babington at The Colorado Horse Park April 22-23.

  • ATTEND the Snowflake Series Schooling Show at The Colorado Horse Park April 15-16.


  • SHOW at the CHJA approved Gold Coast Charity Challenge at The Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, CO April 22-23. View information here
  • APPLY for the EAP Regional Training Program. The deadline for the first four clinics is April 17. The remaining six (including the session at CHP July 25-29) has a deadline of May 5. Don’t miss this opportunity! View information here



By: Leslie Ballard

Say what you want about the “haves” and the “have nots” in the horse world, all equestrians are united in one key fact: no matter how much a horse cost, or how fancy their name might be or how much money their riders have won, all horses are capable of reverting back to nature at the worst possible time.

That’s why even experienced horsemen are occasionally left shaking their head when a “seasoned” performers balks in the in-gate, washes out in the warm-up, or throws a tantrum when loading onto the trailer. Some horses are just naturally wound more tightly than others. A spooky, anxious horse in the close confines of a barn or show grounds poses a risk not just to those around them, but to themselves. So it’s critical for horsemen to understand the root cause of consternation.

So what can you do about an especially anxious horse?


Vet it out

When a horse acts out, it’s easy to write it off as “bad behavior”, “rider/trainer error”, or a just a reaction to something they see or hear. Often times horses will take the opportunity to let you know when they are dealing with discomfort or pain. If there’s no apparent lameness, it could be an internal issue like gastric ulcers, a nutritional/metabolic deficiency, or a even a toothache. Before you think about the training process, have your horse fully vetted to ensure you aren’t exacerbating an issue.

Reinforced foundation

Is there something in particular that seems to trigger anxiety? If you can pinpoint it, you can begin to address it.

Also, consider going back to the basics. Even experienced and advanced athletes can benefit from revisiting simple exercises they mastered long ago. Perhaps a shot of confidence is just what they need. Every training session is an opportunity to further establish trust—the key to any horse/human partnership.

You are what you eat

For most equine athletes the basic pasture-hay-grain diet is a good base but not enough to maintain metabolic stability. Nutritional deficiencies impact behavior and overall health, which is why it’s important to add supplements as needed to maintain balance. Supplementing essential vitamins and minerals will not only help balance the diet, but can have a major impact on behavior. There are products on the market that can replenish these essentials while providing natural calming effects.

For instance, The Perfect Prep Calming System delivers a full spectrum of supplements that are safe and legal under USEF guidelines. The products range from daily additives like Perfect Prep Training Day to stabilize blood sugar levels, to pre-performance pastes like Perfect Prep EQ Supreme, which provide a natural calming effect and peace of mind (for you and your horse).

“When my clients ask me to suggest a calming product for their horses I always recommend Perfect Prep’s calming system,” says Dr. Alex Emerson, DVM, a sport horse specialist based in Wellington, FL. “The variety of their system of formulas means that it can be adjusted to meet the need of every horse and rider.”

Wait, are you suggesting I drug my horse?

Absolutely not. We are not talking about powerful tranquilizers here. The active ingredients in the Perfect Prep formulas are largely endogenous and naturally present in the horse, so there’s no reason to expect negative effects on metabolic function. If you want to ride a robot, perhaps you should look into getting an Equicizer.

It’s never a good idea to give your horse anything without knowing exactly what it contains. So let’s take a quick look at what’s inside Perfect Prep supplements:

These products contain essentials like magnesium which naturally relaxes

the muscles and, along with vitamin B, helps ensure the nervous system is in good running order. As an essential amino acid, tryptophan delivers a natural calming effect better known to us humans as the “post-Thanksgiving dinner siesta”. Taurine, an essential sulfonic acid, stabilizes blood sugar.

“When a horse reacts to a fright stimulus in his environment, his flight response can quickly deplete his metabolic resources often producing an anxious horse,” says Dr. Bryan McNabb, DVM, partner at Lebanon Equine Veterinary in Lebanon, OH. “Perfect Prep formulas can quickly replenish these essential vitamins and nutrients safely, providing instant anxiety relief.”

Eh, I prefer to lunge my horse before a competition to get the edge off.

That’s a popular method and can certainly be effective, but there’s a very fine line between the right amount of warm-up and going overboard.

“Excessive lungeing and riding in preparation for an event is common in the performance horse industry often causing unnecessary injuries to the horse,” Dr. McNabb cautions. “A naturally acting nutraceutical calming product makes great sense to me.”

Lungeing should be done for the purpose of enhancing focus, not creating physical fatigue. A tired body does not necessarily mean a focused mind.

Nutritional deficiencies can be the source of behavioral problems, which is why it’s important to add supplements as needed to maintain metabolic stability. Think about yourself when you get ‘hangry’. Grab a Snickers, they say, and enjoy a jolt of instant relief…until your blood sugar comes crashing back to earth and you want to curl into the fetal position. Would you want to go out and jump a course feeling like that? You would probably look for an escape route, too.

Bottom line

There are a number of factors that can cause a horse to get overly anxious. For naturally hot horses like thoroughbreds, it’s unfair to expect perfect behavior and response all the time. But it’s critical to the health of your horse (and everyone around them) that you seek out the root of the problem and address it, rather that’s through a change in training tactics, lifestyle, nutrition or all of the above. Above all else, take the time and effort to fully understand your horse and build a trusting partnership.

When it comes to horses, some things are simply unavoidable. Good, solid horsemanship is not.

All content is for informational purposes only. Contact your local veterinarian if you have any questions regarding the health of your animals.



There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to life or breeches.

There is, however, a perfect breech for just about every occasion. Even a few you might not have thought of yet…

Getting off the Plane, Getting Straight on a Horse


Struck’s 50 Series breeches are really only a small step in comfort away from your favourite pair of Lulu’s and that’s really only because you’re supposed to wear a belt.

Really Need to Impress [insert horse show crush]

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no breeches I have found yet can compare to the booty shaping power of AA Athens breeches.

Going Commando

If you’re feeling like you would like a little extra freedom in your day, nothing can compare to Animo’s silky lining against your under carriage.

Need a Good Full Body Selfie for my Snapchat Story

If you need to look good from every angle you’re going to want to start your day wearing a pair of Equiline Boston breeches. They get an A+ from me for being particularly proficient at thigh slimming.

Feeling Bloaty

There is something about the cut of Horse Pilot’s X-Balance breeches so even when you feel like a blimp they’ll make you look like you just came off a 7-day cleanse.

Might Fall Off Today

First time showing your young horse? Moving up a division? Just not feeling particularly sticky today? If there’s a chance you might eat dirt but you don’t want to compromise your style, you can grab a pair of RJ Classics Gulf breeches and not break the bank.

Class at 5pm and Dinner Reservations at 8pm

From stable to street your most fashionable pair of breeches are still the Le Fash City Breeches, just take of your tall boots, throw on a pair of flats and you’re good to go. You’re on your own for your hair though…

About the Author

Heather Struthers runs Ontario’s hippest tack shop, Performance Horse & Rider and writes about important issues like datingpretend boyfriends and Scott Brash.


A practical guide to building confidence and having fun

By: John P. Haime


You’re middle-aged and you’ve decided you want to ride.

It may be for the first time, or it may be after years out of the saddle. You may have watched the kids for the last number of years—and got the bug from being around the barn. Or, you have some unfinished business in riding and you feel it’s just time to get back to it.

Whatever your reason, if you’re committed to the idea of riding, there’s much to consider. So, let’s look at what that might be and provide you with some ideas on how to enjoy your riding, build confidence over time and get the most from the experience.

What’s your plan?

What is it you actually want to accomplish in riding and what’s reasonable based on how much time you’ll commit and how adventurous you’re feeling?

A plan outlining your goals and detailed steps on how you’ll accomplish them can give you a feeling of security. Buy yourself a small journal to write down three goals you’d like accomplish in the first year and develop the detailed steps that will ensure you accomplish them.

The journal can also include reflections from your training and show performances during the year. If you know where you are going and have the steps in place to get there, it will build your confidence.

Choosing your partner

You are only half of this riding equation, so spend some time deciding what kind of a partner you want and how that partner will help you satisfy your riding needs. Talk to coaches and industry experts to get the right fit. Finding a partner that provides a relationship of trust and security will give you confidence and be a big factor in your enjoyment of the sport.

Address your fears  

What is it you might be afraid of in your new riding adventure?

Well…it could be many things from the real, tangible fear of falling off or getting hurt, to less tangible fears of failure, not reaching expectations, or a rather lengthy list of reasons that can cause those uncomfortable feelings and take the enjoyment out of your riding.

The fear of getting hurt in equestrian is real—falling off is a worry—and it’s something you’ll need to meet head on. You’ve already partially addressed it finding the right partner.

A few other ideas that can diffuse fear and build your confidence are working on your technical abilities with a compatible coach, achieving the balance and control needed to stay in the saddle. A coach can also help to soften the blow by helping you learn emergency dismounts—so you’re ready for any situation.

And, safety equipment can give you some peace of mind. Helmets, chest protectors, safety stirrups and boots won’t prevent a fall, but will make you feel more safe.

And then of course there’s the dreaded “what ifs.” We create fear in our minds by projecting out that something negative may happen and that makes you anxious in the moment telling yourself things like “I can’t do it” or “I don’t want to do this.”

An example might be…you take some lessons, work hard on your riding, enter your first class, arrive at the show ring, everyone is watching and the voice inside you starts acting up…

“What if I look silly in front of everyone?”

“What if I fall off?”

“What if the jumps are too big?”

“What if I let down my coach who has worked hard to help me?”

This creates the anxious feeling, and depending on the intensity of the feeling, it can be a real distraction…and sometimes even overwhelming.

The thing is that although you believe these things might happen, they almost always never do—and that’s important for you to remember.

If you have negative riding experiences from the past, these little gremlins can also create feelings of fear. Negative memories can be brought forward to cause the anxious feelings and also distract you from today’s performance. Experiences in the past are real and a part of you. Support your confidence by putting emphasis on all of the great, positive experiences from the past and leave the negative ones where they belong—behind you!

So your goal is to stay in the moment. Letting your mind drift forward or back will be a distraction for you. The first step in staying in the moment is being aware when you’re drifting out of it. When you find yourself drifting forward or back in time, focus on a key task in the present and snap yourself back. If you are about to enter the show ring focus on a key, positive task at hand: “I want to create a great early rhythm approaching the first jump.”

While the future is where your goals are, the mind must stay focused in the present moment on key tasks to reach those goals.

What’s your purpose?

Finally, know your purpose for riding and be clear about it. This is a critical fundamental I work on with some of the world’s best athletes and athletes at all levels. You will be challenged often getting back on the horse and it will be humbling, but keeping your purpose at the centre of your riding is a factor in how much you will enjoy it.

Having a clear plan, the right partner, addressing your fears head on and having a clear purpose, you’ll be more ready for your new challenge, be more confident and have fun getting back in the saddle.

Who knows you might really surprise yourself!


About the Author

John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A former professional athlete and current bestselling author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscle to Perform Better and Achieve Morein business, sports and life, John understands how athletes think and feel…he’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. John coaches athletes in all sports and is trusted by some of the world’s leading athletes—professional and elite amateur. See to learn more.

Photo credits Horsin’ Around Photography