Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


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  • 02/27/2024 7:08 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

    Amongst many achievements, including two time Equestrian of the Year, David O’Connor is an Olympic gold medalist, with the best score in Olympic history won at the Sydney Olympic Games. David was also the former USEF President, and now serves as USEF Chief of Sport. O’Connor led his discussion at the MSEDA Annual Meeting with a presentation on Social Licensing and then wrapped up his conversation with his thoughts on developing the Young Event horse. 

    Social Licensing

    David began his presentation on giving background on Social Licensing in equestrian sports. David stated that social license is essentially the public’s overall acceptance of the sport. O’Connor emphasizes that in today’s world, technology is everywhere, meaning you could be filmed and that video could be posted anywhere, in and out of context. Social Licensing is important for the future of our sport, since the public’s perception of a sport can quickly change the acceptance of said sport. David coined the phrase “If you can’t do it in Central Park with thousands of people watching, then you should not do it.” 

    Young Event Horse Development

    O’Connor’s second segment focused on the development of the young event horse. David started by telling the audience about his newly minted 5* horse, Phelps, that is ridden by Mia Farley. Phelps, an 11 year old thoroughbred, was bought for just one dollar. David stated that he never though Phelps would make it to the 5* level, and Farley had doubts of him even going past the Preliminary level. Through David’s consistent training and coaching, Farley and Phelps finished as the only riders within time at the Maryland 5 Star event and finished in 5th. 

    O’Connor’s main goal when developing a horse is considering the horse’s longevity in the sport, and not rushing them while they are young. David then relayed how a horse’s growth pattern should affect their training program. Horses' bones reach full development at age 6, and that should coincide when trainers start to worry about the horse’s correctness in their form. Meaning, a 4, 5, or 6 year old’s frame should be more relaxed than vertical. David stated when he is working with young horses he “is always waiting for them to turn 7”. 

    A unique way David starts his young horse, is teaching them in a rope halter before introducing a bridle. This way he can correctly teach the horse pressure and the reward of the release of pressure. O’Connor stated that “The give (or release of pressure) is always the most powerful tool to the horse”. David then shared videos of his round pen work with Mia Farley riding a young horse for the first time. He always has riders back the horse for the first time under his eye in a round pen, using a rope halter and a string around their neck to give more control of the shoulders. 

    O’Connor went on to share videos of Mia schooling a horse cross country. The horse went over jumps, banks, and ditches. David stated that watching a horse’s eye is extremely important during their first days cross country schooling. Watching where they look can lead to how the horse jumps. He also went on to explain the importance of up banks, and how they teach the horses to learn to raise their front legs and use their body correctly to find good jumping form.

    David ended the session with sharing one of his favorite exercises, lovingly named “the circle of death”. This is a simple 4 poles, cavelltis, or jumps set up in each quadrant of a circle. The rider then adjusts their horse's stride in between these obstacles on the circle, changing the amount of strides in each quadrant. He uses the exercise for all his riders and horses to teach control of the rider’s seat, speed, tempo, and proper use of the outside aids. 

    MSEDA thanks David O’Connor for taking the time to educate our members on these interesting topics and further encourage our riders during the Awards Banquet. 

  • 02/27/2024 7:07 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

    Dr. Samson is a professor at the University of Kentucky who specializes in Sports Psychology. As an amateur equestrian herself, she shared some tips on how equestrians can utilize her tools in their everyday rides and at competitions. Samson shared that under stressful moments there are two angled approaches you can look at the situation, the “Zoom Out” or the “ Zoom In” methods

    The “Zoom Out” approach suggests that you change your perspective on the task at hand and look at the bigger picture. Samson suggests thinking of all the progress you made to prepare yourself for that moment in time. It is easier to be more confident in the small steps you have made, rather than looking at one large goal. She broke this down into the acronym MEI2. 

    • Mindfulness

    • Expectation Management

    • I2: Intentionality and Infusion

    The “Zoom In” approach encourages athletes to pay attention to the finer details. Samson brings up 5 exercises athletes can utilize: 

    • Set Daily Goals

    • Create and follow preparation plans 

    • Regulate emotions/arousal 

    • More productive thoughts

    • Regular self-evaluations of performance

    Dr. Samson then discussed how each of these exercises can be used in your daily life. She mentioned that goal-setting is an important routine for yourself as an equestrian, and recommended that you begin each ride with a purpose or a task that you would like to complete within that ride. She also mentioned how important pre-performance routines are, and stated, “consistent preparation leads to consistent performance”. 

    Samson also gave tips on how to breathe through stressful moments. She suggested using “the box method” which teaches athletes to visualize a box while they are breathing. You breathe in while visualizing a line going up, hold your breath while you visualize a line forming on top, breathe out while the line goes down, and then hold while a line completes the box. Samson wrapped up her presentation by stressing the importance of positive self-talk, and suggested instead of asking yourself “How do I feel about this?” think “ What do I do about this?”. Attendees at Dr. Samson’s session gleaned many important skills to help them succeed mentally in both daily rides and at competitions. She encouraged attendees to reach out to her for further support in their riding journeys.

  • 02/27/2024 7:06 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

    Saturday morning Mseda members, Laura Muller and Karen Winn joined us to share their experiences and also educate a little on Western Dressage.  As a competitor in WD myself, I was overjoyed to hear what these two ladies had to share.

    Karen started us out with a little bit of an overview of the diversity in this growing sport.  Last year at the World Championships alone there were 54 breeds represented including gaited horses.  “Judges are looking for balance within the horse's own conformation, not the typical warmblood,” Karen shared with us.  “You can take a not so great moving horse and be successful unlike traditional dressage.  Judges are really looking for a harmonious relationship above all.”  

    This fast growing sport has a lot of online showing options as well.  Opening it up to a vast number of people who may otherwise not be able to get to a show with these classes.  As you work through the levels (Intro - 5th offered) gaits should progress with more uphill balance and collection.  There tends to be more emphasis on halts and reinbacks and contact should get to be more steady as you work up through the levels.  2nd Level and above requires pivots but a rider can turn on the haunches or the pivot at lower levels.  Both Karen and Laura shared video examples of their own tests and walked us through what was expected.  A handy tip, you can find tests without things your horse may be weak at!  

    “Green horse?” Laura asked.  “You have more leather around you for spooks and new experiences!”  She graciously took the audience through all the needed tack and equipment including some excellent examples of what is seen in the show ring.  A simple collared shirt, jeans and boots get many started!

    What I continually love when hearing from other folks in this sport, is to see where they come from and why they gave it a try.  Laura found WD because of a need to ride bitless with her gelding and fell in love.  Karen, a known judge in our area, shared the successes her gelding has had at the National level (including fun trophy prizes and jackets).  Success she would not have found with her willing but average mover in the traditional arena.    

    Interested in giving it a try?  Check out the shows offered locally by MSEDA and KDA with Western Dressage classes or check out the Western Dressage Association of America’s site at https://www.westerndressageassociation.org/.   There you can find the tests, rules (did you know you can talk during your test?), equipment and more! 

    -Nikki Wahl Seto

  • 02/27/2024 7:03 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

    At our Organizer’s Meeting, we announced several new initiatives that we hope will help support our competition organizers. We will award three deserving competitions with a $500 competition grant to help purchase needed supplies. You can view the grant application here. 

    The current president of the ground jury rule has been modified to allow show jump judges to serve as president of the ground jury in the case that an eventing and dressage judge is not hired for dressage. They will fulfill all normal duties of the president of the ground jury and must remain on-site for the duration of the competition. 

    Finally, Shelley Ryan introduced our new Safety Coordinator program. Starting in 2024, dressage schooling shows only may hire an MSEDA approved Safety Coordinator in lieu of a Technical Delegate. The role of the safety coordinator is to help management ensure horse and rider safety throughout the duration of the competition. If you are interested in becoming an approved Safety Coordinator, please contact MSEDA. You can view more information here.

    Erin Woodall wrapped up this meeting with an interesting inside view into what an MSEDA Technical Delegate does to prepare for a show, and what they do on grounds. She shared her box of supplies, which included many materials that help her easily locate common rules she has to reference, tools that help her do her job efficiently, and items that keep the day running smoothly. Erin’s biggest reminder to potential new officials is that serving as a Technical Delegate is not as overwhelming as it seems, and that you will always have support from other officials if you start the journey. MSEDA is looking for officials, and we encourage you to join! 

    MSEDA hopes these efforts help our competitions run well in 2024.

  • 02/27/2024 7:00 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

    We opened our day with our Annual Business Meeting wherein each committee chair summarized the year. Our committees are: Annual Meeting, Awards, Business and Finance, Communication, Competitions, Education, Membership, Juniors, Nominating, and updates from our Board Administrator. We had a fabulous 2023 year full of a huge membership growth, lots of educational opportunities, and great turn-out at shows, both as competitors and volunteers. We always encourage members to get involved with our committees, if you would like to be more involved in MSEDA, please reach out to join a committee. 

  • 01/29/2024 11:35 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    by Heather Thomas

    My MSEDA Christine Brown Memorial Grant give back was to host a -Build your own show jumping course Jr Clinic - held at Carriage Station Farm. The group ranged from Starter-Novice worked together to fill an empty arena with a course they might see at an event then proceeded to ride the course. Students had to walk distances and consider what would be included in their levels such as a 2-stride combination, related lines, and liver pools. We discussed rules such as crossing lines, start and finish timer location, flag positioning, etc. Everyone who attended had never put a course together, so overall, everyone came out learning a new skill. At the end of the ride, we discussed what went well and what didn’t, then strategized ways to change the course to make it more rideable or more challenging.



  • 12/09/2023 9:11 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    by Robyn Munson

    In January 2023 I started the process of obtaining my USEF Technical Delegate License.  In this process, I have been apprenticing at several different shows with several different Technical Delegates.   I have noticed as I go to these events that riders have ignored or not known the rules that could get them disqualified from the competition.  Being disqualified from the event is different than being eliminated - elimination prevents that particular horse from continuing.  Disqualification means that if you are riding multiple horses, all rides will be disqualified.  This could make for a costly weekend! 


    As competitors we know that eventing involves a great deal of time, effort, and money.  We certainly do not want to end our weekend sitting on the sidelines if we can prevent it so I thought it would be a good idea to do a refresher of some of the rules that could cause a rider to be disqualified from the entire event.  

    Ways to get disqualified:

    ·       Allowing someone to ride and school your horse after the start of the event. Schooling is considered anything other than riding at a walk on a long rein.   

    ·       Riding in any dressage or show jumping arena or close to the cross- country obstacles before the event.

    ·       Jumping any practice fences

    o   that are not marked;

    o   have been raised above the height or spread permitted for your level of competition;

    o   that have been held; or

    o   any time other than those permitted by the organizer.

    ·       Walking the cross-country course before it is open to competitors.

    ·       Walking the show jumping course before it is open to competitors.

    ·       Entering the jumping arena on foot after the competition has started.

    ·       Any abuse of a horse.

    ·       Exercising with improper saddlery.

    ·       Use of a radio or cellular phone while competing.

    Please remember, it is your responsibility as a competitor to know the rules.  The rules are easily accessible, and should be reviewed regularly to ensure that you are aware of any new or amended rules.  If you do not understand a specific rule or need clarification, find an official at the competition and ask!   Do not wait until an official approaches you for an infraction and then claim you did not understand.  No official takes pleasure in disqualifying or eliminating a competitor, especially for something that could have been prevented if the rider had simply asked a question before it was too late. 

    I hope this article helps to remind our membership to follow the rules that will prevent someone from getting disqualified at a competition. 

  • 06/09/2023 11:29 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    Written by Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff

    The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, MSEDA member, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. 

    [Read More]

  • 01/18/2023 3:58 PM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

  • 01/18/2023 3:53 PM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    by Julia Burs

    I was so honored and excited to represent MSEDA at Team Challenge this year as part of the Beginner Novice team MSEDA Stranger Danger. For both my 7-year-old OTTB gelding Security Check Required (“Temba”) and I, Team Challenge was our first USEA-sanctioned horse trial. Even though I live in Lexington and am at the Horse Park all the time — I was even decorating cross-country with one of my teammates earlier that week! — it felt different and intimidating to be there doing something that we’d never done before. While my coach Jhett Jenkins was there with me on Saturday, and my barn bestie Kerri Sweet groomed for me the whole time, having a team of MSEDA members there riding with us all weekend made me feel more relaxed and confident than doing it all on my own. Furthermore, knowing that MSEDA leadership had taken a chance on Temba and me despite our lack of experience made me want to step up my game to earn that trust.

    And yes, I know, what a choice I made to debut at an event with maxed-out stadium and cross-country courses, at the end of the season when everyone else is on their fifth or tenth trial. It definitely wasn’t the plan at the beginning of the season, but I am so glad things worked out the way they did. Temba showed clear progress in our dressage test, but an operator error by me and the fact that we are still relatively new at this meant that our score was definitely the team “throwaway.” (The top three scores of four are counted toward the team score.) Stadium and cross country were both challenging, as promised, but we both found the challenges to be confidence-building, because both courses required thinking and planning but paced themselves to allow that planning to unfold. My MSEDA teammates helped me stay relaxed and laughing in warmup, and Temba was foot-perfect through stadium. In cross-country, we started fine but a little hesitant, and he took a hard look at the water but never stepped back. We became a better team through the back half of the course, trusting each other more and navigating complicated questions like the half coffin in the woods and the log at the lip of Pete’s Hollow with ease and even a little grace. We were thrilled to go double clear through both jump phases and finish with a score that contributed to our team’s overall 7th place finish. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m already counting the days until Team Challenge 2023!

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Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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