By Sarah E Coleman
Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
MSEDA: Where are you from?
ES: My wife, Jill, and I live in Westfield, IN, just north of Indianapolis. We've been here exactly 20 years this week, and lived on our farm for the last 11. We came to Indiana for Jill's job as an elephant trainer. She's been with the Indianapolis Zoo elephants ever since.
Jill with Zahara, one of the six African elephant calves born at the Indianapolis Zoo
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
ES: I started, um, later in life than most people. I was 34 or so when I first sat on a horse. But then I saw a video of eventing (Dorothy Crowell, riding Molokai at The Hague) and thought "this is something I have to try."
MSEDA: How long have you been competing?
ES: This year I am hoping to compete in my first-ever recognized horse trials. I've been competing at schooling shows the last 4 or 5 years.
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
ES: Ah, Monty the Morgan. The perfect first horse was purchased in the late 90s. He was 17 years old at the time and had the patience of a saint.
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
ES: We have three horses at home now. Elvis, the wonder horse, a Thoroughbred who, at 24 years old, regards anything lower and slower than training level as insulting. Tardis, my 7-year-old OTTB who is really starting to learn his new job, even if he hasn't found his brave just yet. And Doc, my 31-year-old Dutch cross, who is truly enjoying retirement.
Celebrating a clear starter XC round with little Tardis. Photo by Lee Ann Zobbe, used with permission.
MSEDA: How did you get your horses? What horses do you compete (and what do you compete in?)
ES: Elvis came to us permanently a little more than a year ago, after we leased him for a while. His owner, the wonderful Mary Tinder, made the difficult decision to get out of horse ownership, and astoundingly picked our barn as this remarkable horse's final home. To say we are honored is a profound understatement. Elvis now has the unenviable task of getting me to my first recognized horse trials. Tardis came to me by way of one of my all-time favorite professionals, Sharon White.
Eric and Elvis compete in the Derby to raise funds for the new Indiana Eventing Association's water complex at the Hoosier Horse Park. Photo by Lee Ann Zobbe, used with permission.
MSEADA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
ES: Anything, pretty much. Both Thoroughbreds are total treat hounds.
MSEDA: What do you do full time? Do you enjoy it?
ES: So, my full-time job is as the journals manager for the American Statistical Association (ASA, the second-oldest nonprofit scientific association in the United States.). I manage all of the Association's peer-reviewed journals. It's a perfect job for me and allows me to work from home.
My second job, and how I came to the MSEDA, is as a horse show announcer working primarily eventing and dressage shows. I've never competed in an MSEDA show, but members might recognize my voice from Spring Bay, the Kentucky Classique and Team Challenge.
Eric announcing cross-country at the Kentucky Horse Park, with JJ Johnson (left) and Karen Winn. Photo by Leigh Anne Robertson, used with permission.
I love my announcing job, especially when working at the Kentucky Horse Park. It really is special---and I'm always a bit awestruck---driving past the statue of Man O' War as I'm going to work. I also announce in Georgia, Texas, Indiana and Illinois. I currently serve on the MSEDA Board of Directors, representing the northern part of Area VIII. I also serve on the board of the Indiana Eventing Association.
MSEDA: How did you get into this job?
ES: I've been working for the ASA for … a very long time! I got into announcing first by volunteering at dressage shows, and it morphed into something really unique and fun. I owe fellow announcer Cyndi Kurth (who also works at MSEDA shows) a real debt for patiently mentoring me on how to announce and how to best help the show organizers.
MSEDA: What are your goals for the 2016 season and with whom do you ride?
ES: My goal this year is to ride Novice at a recognized show. My second goal is to have Tardis competing Beginner Novice at schooling shows. I have the BEST coach, Lee Ann Zobbe, in Sheridan, IN, at Come Again Farm. I try to take two or three lessons a week, splitting them between the two horses. And it is through Lee Ann that I've been able to ride in clinics and eventing camps with Dorothy Crowell, Lauren Lambert, Leslie Law, Leslie Grant-Law, Sharon White and others. It's been an amazing journey.
MSEDA: What are your favorite brands?
ES: Mavorite eventing store is IndyEquestrian (https://www.indyequestrian.com/). Amanda and Brian are the best---they know the sport and what riders need.
MSEDA: What is your favorite part of you’re the barn where you lesson?
ES: I love riding at Come Again Farm, and trailer up there (20 minutes--I am spoiled!) a few times a week. The people at CAF have become sort of a second family for us, and we love the facility and schooling shows that are held about once a month during show season.
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
ES: Just two barn cats and a house cat … between the horses and elephants, we enjoy a lot of critter company!
MSEDA: Is there anything unusual about your horses now?
ES: All three of my horses seem to possess an over-abundance of personality. I am fortunate that Elvis is a benevolent dictator and manages the herd firmly, but (for the most part) gently.