USEF Announces Fall Eventing Competition Grant Recipients

Lexington, Ky. - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the recipients of eventing competition grants for Aachen CICO3*, Burghley CCI4*, Blenheim CCI3*, and Boekelo CCIO3*. Grants are awarded based on the USEF grant application process.  

The following athlete-and-horse combinations have been awarded, through the USET Foundation, Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing Competition Grants for the Aachen CICO3* to compete as individuals. Aachen CICO3* will take place August 12-14 in Aachen, Germany:

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Thomas Tierney and Simon Roosevelt's Fernhill Cubalawn, a 2003 Holsteiner gelding
Lauren Kieffer (Ocala, Fla.) and Team Rebecca, LLC's Veronica, a 2002 Dutch Warmblood mare. This grant includes below mentioned CCI3* Blenheim.

Should the U.S. receive a team invitation, the following athlete-and-horse combinations would join Dutton and Kieffer. Listed in ranked order (depending on the number of invitations):

Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and The Donner Syndicate, LLC's Donner, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding
Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and Team Demeter, LLC's RF Demeter, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare
Colleen Rutledge (Frederick, Md.) and her own Covert Rights, a nine-year-old Thoroughbred Cross gelding

The following athlete-and-horse combinations have been awarded the following competition grants for the Burghley CCI4*, taking place September 3-6 in Burghley, Great Britain:

Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and The Donner Syndicate, LLC's Donner, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. Symansky has been awarded a Land Rover USEF Competition Grant.
Colleen Rutledge (Frederick, Md.) and her own Covert Rights, a nine-year-old Thoroughbred Cross gelding. Rutledge has been awarded a Jacqueline B. Mars Competition Grant, through the USET Foundation

The following athlete-and-horse combinations have been awarded the following competition grants for the Blenheim CCI3*, taking place September 17-20 in Woodstock, Great Britain:

Lauren Kieffer (Ocala, Fla.) and Team Rebecca, LLC's Veronica, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. This competition is included in the aforementioned Jacqueline B. Mars Competition Grant, through the USET Foundation.
Will Coleman and The Four Star Eventing Group's OBOS O'Reilly, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding. Coleman has been awarded a Land Rover USEF Competition Grant.
Matt Brown and the Blossom Creek Foundation's Super Socks BCF, a 2006 Irish Sport Horse gelding. Brown has been awarded a Jacqueline B. Mars Competition Grant, through the USET Foundation.
Elisa Wallace and David and Jill Hopcroft's Simply Priceless, a 2001 Thoroughbred gelding. Wallace has been awarded a Land Rover USEF Competition Grant.
Emily Beshear and Deep Purple Eventing's Shame On The Moon, a 2006 Trakehner/Thoroughbred mare. Beshear has been awarded a Land Rover USEF Competition Grant.* 

*Pending number of invitations received from the Organizing Committee. 

The following athlete-and-horse combinations have been awarded Land Rover USEF Competition Grants for the Boekelo CCI3*, taking place October 8-11 in Boekelo, The Netherlands:

Buck Davidson (Ocala, Fla.) and Sherrie Martin and Carl Segal's Copper Beach, a 2006 Irish Sport Horse gelding
Matt Brown (Petaluma, Calif.) and the Blossom Creek Foundation's BCF Belicoso, a 2006 Irish Sport Horse gelding
Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and Raylyn Farms, Inc.'s RF Quarterman, a 2008 Oldenburg gelding

The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members. Without the support of these organizations and individuals, it would not be possible to provide such support to the athletes named to these grants. The USEF is especially grateful to individuals who give generously of their time and money to support the equestrian teams.

Some Ramblings On Competitiveness, Complacency And The Evolution Of A Deer

Every day I wake up, and—unless I forgot to remove eye make-up on the rare occasion it’s ever applied, or have enjoyed an evening with friends and generous pours of wine—I usually look about the same. Depending on the week I may look a little more tired or sun-kissed than the week before, but on a whole I don’t notice much difference.

But then I’ll notice a group of high schoolers heading to prom, or college kids back in town for the summer, and while I may always feel like the same Lynn I am reminded I am a different and OLDER version of myself than I was 10 or 15 years ago. I like to think of myself as “evolving” rather than getting older, but when I come across pictures from my more formative riding years, it often hits home how much I’ve changed. Luckily, I can somewhat safely say I feel like I’m evolving in a positive direction.

Similarly, it’s very easy to take for granted the little changes that happen on a daily basis with our horses because we see them and work with them every day. It’s just as easy to get overly frustrated on a bad day as it is to get complacent and take the partnership for granted on a good one. The good news is that especially with horses, the universe has a way of keeping us in check. The highs are never allowed to get too high before the lows humble us, and soon we find ourselves climbing up the ladder again, sometimes just happy to be climbing it at all.

I had the same reaction to how Donner has evolved when I recently got to see pictures of him from before I even knew him. The two of us have been together for the last seven years—essentially a common law marriage. When you’re in that type of relationship it’s easy to become complacent. If you’re not careful you may miss little bits of growth and progress unless you take a step back and look at the big picture.

This spring season was a funny one, because while he didn’t necessarily win anything and we didn’t quite best our previous fifth-place finish at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, I feel like it was our most successful season to date.

A selector or coach with a strong will to win could look at a fourth-place finish at an advanced and a CIC*** this spring, and a 12th place finish at Rolex as merely satisfactory. And in all honestly on a true international stage, it wasn’t good enough to win a medal last month. But sometimes to get a real feel for progress and success, one has to take a step back and compare their proverbial before and after pictures. This is exactly how I approached Kentucky last month.

Donner put in a really good dressage test on Friday afternoon in a notoriously electric time slot, which is a win for a horse easily affected by atmosphere. While one of the judges was less than kind, I thought the other two were on par and the quality of the work was his best tests to date.

I decided to start out more conservatively than I normally would on cross-country. Coming off our last four-star at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) in what I can safely say is the worst footing I will ever encounter, I wanted to give him a really positive ride. He went late in the going at Rolex and the footing had deteriorated quite a bit with all the rain, so I rode smart and used the course as a positive school with the future in mind rather than racing the clock.

We added a few time penalties, but even in hindsight I’d probably ride it exactly the same. He jumped a smart show-jump round on Sunday, with one annoying rail in a tight two-stride combination on a very technical track.

Our top-12 finish (and highest place off-the-track Thoroughbred again) in the biggest and most competitive

Sometimes there is a line to be drawn between being masterfully competitive and being a masterful horseman. The best in the world can be both almost every single time out, but it takes decades of practice on multiple top horses to become constantly gifted at this. international field to date didn’t win us a Rolex watch or $100,000, but it did ensure I have a consistent and competitive partner for the future. That’s definitely not something to be complacent about!

As I do not have the fortune to ride multiple horses at the four-star level and am protective of the one I do have at the moment, I accomplished everything I had hoped to. I am already excited to get his fall season started and to continue his competitive evolution process.

On a related note of shameless self promotion, I decided to syndicate Donner this spring. It was proving impossible to continue to maintain him on my own, so I’ve come up with a neat way to share his career with a group of people who really believe in him, me, and the potential of an American-bred horse consistently delivering on an international stage.

He has a great group of people behind him, and I’m looking to get a few more on board to fill the remaining 25 percent of his syndicate. It’s a really great way to become involved as an owner of a top team horse without breaking the bank. Please take a look at Donner’s syndication packet and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you’d like to become part of the team, or know anyone who may be. Donner and I are really looking forward to sharing his continued evolution and success.

Lynn and Donner Finish 12th at Rolex

DSC 4071 SmallerLynn and Donner competed once again in a tough international field of horses for the 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Out of the 73 horses who started the only 40 went on to show jump and Donner finished the weekend in 12th place, 6th place nationally and was the top placing OTTB.

If you want to relive the excitement of the week, USEF has Donner's full cross-country round posted here

and his show jumping here:

Thanks to Kendyl, Rachel, and Kelty for taking great care of the Deer and to all of the supporters and sponsors for all of the cheers throughout the weekend. Special thanks also to the Donner Syndicate!

Proudly Announcing the Donner Syndicate

The Olympics are just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to get involved with Team USA. There is no better way to support your country than by owning a part of an American-bred Thoroughbred, who at only 12-years-old has already represented his country twice and successfully competed at the highest level of three-day eventing in both the U.S. and Europe. 

“I am excited to announce the formation of the Donner Syndicate which will allow this talented horse to continue in international competition, and to obtain another horse to follow in his hoof prints,” said Lynn Symansky. “Owners will not only share in the expansion of Donner’s international competitive career, but will also have the opportunity to be part of the development of an up and coming young superstar of the sport.”

With an affordable buy-in and yearly maintenance fee, this is a fabulous opportunity to become a member of Team USA. The Donner Syndicate will allow up to 20 individuals the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of owning a World Class event horse at the fraction of the cost of individual horse ownership. Individuals or groups of people are allowed and encouraged to buy more than one share. All shareholders of the Donner Syndicate will also automatically be members of the Syndicate of a young horse with future Team potential that will be purchased with the proceeds of the buy in cost.

Donner is on the path to compete at the 2015 Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and is a serious contender for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This is your opportunity to join for the ride of a lifetime! Lynn and Donner have the ultimate partnership - help keep them competing at the top of the sport by joining the Donner Syndicate today.

If you are interested in keeping the dream alive, please click here to review the Donner Syndication Information Packet.  

Contact Lynn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 540-460-1351. 

Mouse Reminds Me It's The Little Things

It’s been exactly a year since one of my favorite horses, Waitangi Notebook, better known as “Mouse,” suffered a serious pasture accident. She slipped and fell in her paddock running from the sound of gunshots in the woods.

When she got up, it was immediately apparent she sustained significant trauma to her left hind pastern, but the damage ended up being worse than we initially thought.

There were lacerations that communicated to both her fetlock and pastern joints, but the worst of it was in her coffin joint. We still can’t entirely figure out how she managed to do this, but through the large coronary band laceration and embedded in her coffin bone there was a significant amount of mud, grass and debris.

She underwent emergency surgery and the bone was flushed as much as it could be, but the coffin bone is not one smooth piece. Imagine trying to sterilize a small piece of coral reef that has been drug through the mud and gravel and grass while it’s stuck inside a hoof. The likelihood she would survive infection wasn’t looking good, but there was a small chance. That’s all she needed.

Even after fighting her way though the infection and reabsorbing the leftover debris, the resulting damage to the joints and foot was another battle ahead. She would likely develop significant arthritis as her ankle and pastern healed and lose a sizeable portion of her foot as it grew down. She never did.

One year has now come and gone, and she just made the trek down south to train for the winter with an entire barn of horses. We were once unsure she’d even be pasture-sound, and now she’s back in full work and even jumping. I have no idea if she’ll get back to the level she was at the time of her accident (she was a 7-year-old at the two-star level), but she’s taught me to never say never.

Photos by Leslie Mintz

Horses come in and out of our lives, and there is something to be learned from all of them. Some teach us how to be better riders, others teach us how to be better horsemen. And there are the special ones who teach us actual life lessons. Here are a few I’ve taken from Mouse in the last year…

1) You don’t always have to expect the worst:

This is something I admit I could be better at. I am always of the mindset to prepare for the worst, but secretly hope for the best. It is how I protect myself in case things don’t go how I’d like.

But while I was busy preparing for the worst after her accident, Mouse kept proving that it’s actually possible to hope for the best and not be disappointed. In a year filled with so many tragic accidents, Mouse is living proof that even if the odds seem completely stacked against you, you aren’t always destined for the worst possible outcome.

2) A smart horse with a good brain is so important:

Mouse has a really big fan club, but not because she is an obvious worldbeater. She’s not the most conformationally correct, she’s not the fanciest, and she’s not the most classic jumper in my barn.

But she is hands down the sweetest, safest, honest, kindest horse I’ve ever had, and her heart is irreplaceable. Those qualities are what make her one of my favorites to ride every day, what make her a great competitor, and what make her the barn favorite. They are what made her a successful event horse. They are definitely what helped save her life.

After her accident she became the hospital favorite as well. In addition to great care and a lot of luck, I attribute her quiet nature and intelligence to the fact she survived. She stayed still and quiet for months which allowed her leg to heal better than we could have hoped. I know I wouldn’t have had the same outcome if this had been any other horse in my barn.

3) Patience:

Catching Mouse has become a game over the years, and Mouse will win unless you are a very clever cat. On the day of her accident, it took me several minutes to catch her after her fall, even though she was heavily bleeding and non-weight bearing. When I approached her, she cantered away three-legged and I knew no amount of panicking would catch her.Mouse is a hungry girl with a very healthy appetite. While she loves her job, she also adores eating. She can look at food and get fat. Because of this she’s always been tricky to catch when she’s surrounded by a buffet of grass.

So instead I took the time to play her game, and after several minutes of slow movement, carrots and carefully calculated body language, I got her.

Actually, the only way you can really “catch” Mouse is by her coming to you. This game got worse after her accident when she started getting grass turnout this fall. A few weeks ago on a warmer winter day, she went out in a lighter sheet with a hood. When it was time for dinner, Mouse wasn’t interested. At all. She stayed out for three consecutive days and nights in below freezing temps and 40mph winds.

Once again, I went back to playing Mouse’s game, as I didn’t want her to colic even though she seemed quite content outside. For an hour or two each day I would go out in her field and sit on the ground and wait for her to come up to me. It was “feels like 20 degrees” weather. I’m glad she chose the bitter winter to once again remind me of the necessity of patience.

4) Why we do horses, or at least me:

I’m a competitive person, but I don’t ride horses because I’m competitive. I compete because I’m competitive. Representing my country at the World Equestrian Games last year in Normandy was a reminder of why I compete—while I accomplished a huge goal of mine, not coming home with a medal for our country only made me hungrier to come back even better.

Similarly, Mouse’s story over the last year is a reminder of why I do horses—she may not ever make it to the WEG or Olympics, but she is a daily reminder of how lucky I am to have horses in my life, and even luckier that I get to do it as a profession.

Mouse at her last event, the Virginia Horse Trials fall CCI** in 2013, where she was sixth. 
Photo by Leslie Mintz

While they can be so incredibly heartbreaking (and money sucking!) they are incredibly rewarding. The lows are low, but the highs are also so high. This is true of competing AND horses, and while the two are closely related in my world, they are not the same. She makes me smile every day. She reminds me that the thousands of dollars I didn’t have to spend on her injury were worth something far more in the end. Even if she never gets back to the upper levels, I am reminded everyday that it’s not always about competing, it’s about the horses.

So thank you Mouse, for remaining in my life and reminding me about all the little things on a daily basis, even if I can’t catch you.