New to Greenhawk ~ Myler Bits

New at Greenhawk – Myler Bits! At Greenhawk Vancouver Island, we are extremely proud and excited to be carrying a large selection of Myler bits in both English and Western styles! Myler Bits are world renowned for overcoming bitting problems and resistances in horses. Designed according to horse’s anatomy and through collaborative research with equine dentists, vets, chiropractors, and riders and trainers, Myler bits place a premium on the horse’s comfort and finding the right bit to suit an individual horse.

New to Greenhawk - Myler Bits!






The Myler Bitting System has a huge variety of options, so many in fact, we now sell a book and DVD to help people find the right bit for their horse! Therefore, the information to follow is just a brief summary on bitting and specifically Myler bits. We have lots of informational brochures at the store if you would like more information, and we will of course do our best to answer any questions you may have, so please come in, check out the bits and pick up a brochure!

Myler bits are offered in a graduated bitting system from Level One to Level Three. The idea is that as your horse progresses in his training, he will graduate from his elementary school bit (Level 1), into his high school/university level bit (Level 2 and Level 2/3) and finally into his advanced career level bit (Level Three). Myler bits reward a horse for becoming better trained by progressively taking more pressure off the tongue of the horse. At the same time, the Level 2/3 and Level 3 bits instill greater sensitivity in the horse so more subtle/refined aids can be used, by starting to utilize the bars of the horse’s mouth.

Examples of Level 2 Bits - English and Western


 The majority of the Myler bits at all levels are designed for optimal comfort for the horse by offering tongue relief and not collapsing into a “V” shape (think ordinarysnaffle with single joint) but instead collapsing into a gentler “U” shape that does not put nearly as much pressure on the bars, lips and roof of the mouth as a traditional bit.

One thing that really struck me after watching the Myler DVD, was the Myler theory on tongue pressure. Myler experts believe tongue pressure is a major cause of resistance in many horses. Unfortunately many bits do nothing to accommodate the tongue and in fact the majority lie across the horse’s tongue in such a way that horses are unable to move their tongue at all, up or down. Swallow, and as you do, take note of what your tongue does. You will notice it moves up to the roof of your mouth and then rolls back slightly. Horses use their tongue in exactly the same way in order to swallow. Now try to swallow without raising your tongue. Impossible right? This is one of the major theories behind the Myler bits. As most bits pin horses’ tongues down, they cause horses to lose the ability to swallow. According to Myler, this is one of the main reasons horses resist the bit. Most resistances, be it opening the mouth, inverting, curling behind the bit, pulling down into the bit, Myler explains as the horse’s attempt to find tongue relief. The Myler DVD has good diagrams that visually explain how these common resistances do in fact provide the horse with momentary relief from tongue pressure.

Myler English and Western bits demonstrating tongue relief




Another very interesting theory behind the Myler bitting system, is that the bits are designed in order to save the bars (or the gums where there is no teeth and the bit lies) of the horse’s mouth until a horse is highly trained. The basic Myler Level One and Level Two bits, which are designed to be used on relatively young, green horses, tend not to put pressure on the bars of the mouth. The idea is that if a lot of pressure is applied to this sensitive area of the horse’s mouth all the way through the horse’s training, it will become fairly dull by the time the horse is highly trained. We then start to see horses requiring stronger and harder bits to control them even though they are in theory more experienced and better trained. Their mouth has just become dull over time. Myler bits do not use this part of the mouth until the horse has reached a Level Three bit and is very advanced in its training, and by conserving the bars of the mouth through the Myler bitting system, the bars are still sensitive so rein aids can be very subtle. As well, Level Three bits offer the greatest tongue relief so comfort for the horse is optimal, a reward for him reaching a high level of training. At a high level of training, regardless of the discipline, we seek to build sensitivity back into our horses (after years of trying to desensitize to a certain degree). The preciseness and comfort of the Level Three bits, helps to eliminate any resistances and allow the rider to use very refined aids.

One more quick note on Myler bits…as there are so many cool features it is hard not to go on and on! Many of the bits offer the feature of independent side movement. This means you can lift one side of the bit without moving the other side. This helps greatly with bend, suppleness, lifting a shoulder through a turn or balancing a horse that likes to lean in one direction. It is a unique concept to Myler and really enables precise riding and subtle corrections.

Level 2-3 Bit - Note port for tongue relief, barrel center piece for independent side lift and movement, and hooks for reins and cheekpieces allowing for subtle, sensitive rein aids.

The Myler bits are all about comfort for the horse and effective communication for the rider. We are so pleased to have them at Greenhawk and really look forward to showing them to you next time you visit us at the store!

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Very Cool….5 Week Online Equine Nutrition Course Offered by Royal School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh! Best Part….Its FREE!!

Interested in learning more about Equine Nutrition?  If so, here is an amazing opportunity from Coursera, which is an online educational portal that gives people from all around the world a chance to take free college classes on a variety of topics.

Starting January 28th, the University of Edinburgh is offering a FREE five-week online equine nutrition course, led by Dr. Jo-Anne Murray.  Dr Murray has a degree in equine science, a postgraduate diploma in animal nutrition and a PhD in equine nutrition.  She is a senior lecturer in Animal Nutrition at the Royal School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The course requires registration.  See this website for more information and to register:
Here is some more information about the course from the Coursera website:
About the Course
This course is designed to provide knowledge of equine digestion and nutrition for those with an interest in this area. The anatomy and physiology of the equine alimentary canal will be studied to provide students with a detailed understanding of the equine digestive system.  Nutrient sources for horses will be discussed, with emphasis placed on the health and welfare issues surrounding the inclusion of various types of feedstuffs in equine diets.  Students will also discuss recommendations on rations for horses and ponies performing various activities and should feel equipped to make recommendations on rations for horses and ponies, in health and disease.

About the Instructor(s)

Dr Jo-Anne Murray is a senior lecturer in Animal Nutrition and Husbandry at the Royal  School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, which involves directing the Veterinary School’s on-line MSc/Dip/Cert programme in Equine Science and managing the School’s e-learning activities.  Dr Murray has a degree in equine science, a postgraduate diploma in animal nutrition and a PhD in equine nutrition. She is also a British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor, a registered nutritionist with the British Nutrition Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Dr Murray’s main research has been focussed on improving the nutritive value of fibre-based feedstuffs for horses and investigating the effect of high-starch and high-fructan diets on the large intestinal environment of the horse.  More recently, Dr Murray has investigated the use of supplements in horse diets and the effect of these on horse behaviour.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Anatomy and physiology of the equine gastrointestinal tract

Week 2: Nutrient digestion in the equine gastrointestinal tract

Week 3: Equine nutrient sources and feeding management

Week 4: Equine dietary management

Week 5: Equine clinical nutrition

According to the website, the course will include 5 online lectures, notes and additional readings as well as quizzes if you wish to complete them.  After successfully completing the course you will receive a certificate signed by the instuctor.
I’m going to register….I hope some of you will too : )
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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  If you are like me and fighting to get back in a routine, made all the more difficult with some uncooperative wet weather, I stumbled across a Youtube video that may prove motivating (or at least entertaining and totally amazing!)

Click on this link to watch (in awe) a video of a 10 year old girl wining a Six Bar Jumping Class in New Zealand.  She is riding a pony, they are jumping on muddy grass, her legs barely come to the bottom of her saddle flaps, and she and her pony easily clear 1.50 M!!  And they make it look like, dare I say, childs-play!

Enjoy : )

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Eventing Symposium–Thunderbird 2012

This past weekend Glynis, Gill and I from Greenhawk all travelled across the big pond to Thunderbird Show Park in Langley. We went to see three of the members of this year’s Canadian Olympic Eventing team (Rebecca Howard, Hawley Bennett-Awad, and Jessica Pheonix), along with the team coach, the renowned David O’Connor, and special guest, Liz Ashton, as they presented their coaching and riding skills over two days. What a treat it was! This was my first symposium so I was new to this method of teaching. It was incredible to watch how over two days, with two lessons a day, the horse and rider combinations changed so significantly. It really drove home how great coaching can help to improve riders and their horses in many ways. It seemed like all the riders (including myself) took David’s words, ”good riders make good horses” to heart.

I too came home very inspired and had the greatest ride on my horse last night. It’s amazing how watching great riders and learning new techniques and exercises can help exponetially. Rebecca, Hawley and Jessica are truly amazing riders. They rode horses that they’d never even met before in two different jumping sessions over the weekend–one demonstrating gymnastics and one jumping big cross country jumps that had b3een towed into the indoor arena. Their positions are nearly flawless, their hands so soft, and their seats incredibly effective. I don’t think I saw them yank with their hands even once. David encouraged all riders to watch other, professional riders, who have a similar body type in order to learn from their riding style. I’m long and tall, similar to Rebecca Howard, although I think my legs are longer and my torso is smaller than hers, but still, she was the perfect rider for me to study and learn from her position. Hopefully I can do justice to her beautiful riding style and emulate it effectively! I still seem to have at least one moment in every jumping lesson where I feel like a sack of potatoes flopping around on poor Zappa’s back.

The symposium included horses at many of the different eventing levels, from Entry to Preliminary. The riders were, for the most part, nicely turned out, but another thing I learned from this weekend is that you do not ever wear jean-breeches or forget your hair net when riding in a symposium like this! There were a few comments about the attire, but by Day 2 the errors had been corrected. The horses were all braided nicely and behaved themselves for the most part!

Liz Ashton spoke about walking your show jumping course and then taught each of the groups on Sunday afternoon. She really stressed that before beginning your jumper round you do have a full 45 seconds and to use that time! Go forwards and back, test your “gears” of the horse and make sure they are woken up before heading out to jump your course. She also mentioned that one of her pet peeves is when riders stick to the rail during their warm up and encouraged everyone to use the whole ring, do some circles and get off the rail!

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful I was able to attend and learn from the best.


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West Coast Winter Riding

I am not meant to live in a cold environment. And while yes, I know we’re on the West Coast and really, compared to the rest of Canada, what we call winter is hardly a comparison to how the rest of the season plays out across Canada, but I still think I live in a place that is too cold! Especially because we have the wet versus dry cold. Once I get wet I’m chilled to the bone and it takes a hot shower  to warm my body back up again. This is why one of my life goals is to one day own a hot tub! That way after chilly days at the barn I could just jump in for a quick soak and then I’d be good to go again!

All that said, we at Greenhawk do carry some fabulous winter riding boots and apparel to help keep the cold and the wet at bay. If you’ve never tried Smart Wool socks, I highly recommend them. My mum bought me some probably 10 years ago as ski socks and I STILL have them! That’s how good the quality is and since I only wear them during the winter they’ve managed to survive my horsey lifestyle longer than any other socks I own. We have a fabulous collection of these socks in stock right now and they make wonderful Christmas presents.

My other winter must-haves are insulated riding boots and muck boots. The BOGS boots are fantastic for both keeping your feet warm and dry when cleaning stalls, doing yard work or gardening. I’ve found they’re much longer lasting than plain rubber boots which are thinner (not to mention colder). My fav winter riding boots are the Ariat Brossards. They are super cozy, totally waterproof and you have the choice of lace or zip. They also have a rounded toe so they look great with jeans too!

For cozy footwear at home, we have just the ticket. The Joules Slipper socks, in combination with the Joules fleecy socks, are the absolute best for keeping your feet warm in the house. The slipper socks are machine washable and come up above your ankle adding extra warmth. They come in fun colours because that’s generally how Joules rolls and I love it. It’s better to be bright!

We have a huge assortment of winter riding gloves–some that are waterproof, others that are water resistant, some leather, some machine washable. I’ve tried most of them out (this is what happens when you work at a tack store) and it’s hard to pick a favourite, so I’ll name a couple I love: SSG Pro Show Winter riding gloves (leather with Thinsulate lining) and the Roeckl Polartec gloves (fleecy and machine washable!)

As for winter riding breeches, we have some that are fleece lined and super cozy. My favourites are the Kerrits Sit Tight n’ Warm because they are super stretchy and don’t fall down at all. For those super wet days, having riding rain pants is not a bad idea, especially if you don’t have an indoor ring to use. We sell the Grand Prix rain pants which are excellent for rainy riding and come to the knee so you can still maintain the grip from leather boots or half chaps.

I am a huge fan of wearing vests when riding, especially in the winter, because they keep your core warm but once you’re riding and your’e all warm, there is an outlet for heat to be released! We have several vests in right now and the Elation riding vest is great becuase it has a hood that can be zipped off if you’d like to go without it.

One last must have for winter is again for if you’re riding in the rain on a frequent basis. The Cashel saddle shield protects your saddle from rain damage. Once leather gets rained on if it doesn’t have time to properly dry out it can lead to moldy leather and permanent damage to your leather. I highly recommend this product and use it very often myself!

So don’t let winter knock you down or prevent you from riding. With the right gear you’ll be good to go!


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Halloween Spirit!

Really what’s not to love about dressing up your animal for Halloween?  Maybe if I had children, I wouldn’t get such a kick out of dressing up my dog.  But as I don’t, my dog Ruckle has to satisfy my internal desire to dress up a small helpless being and parade it around in a costume for the one day of the year this behaviour has a scrap of social respectability.   

Ruckle actually has a long history of dressing up in costumes and has developed a certain level of tolerance or resignation towards the whole procedure. Ruckle is a rescue dog from Taiwan.  When we were in discussions with the rescue agency in Taiwan about his adoption, they sent us hundreds of pictures of him and in many of the photos he was wearing costumes.  We’re still not sure if it was in an effort to make him look cuter and thus expedite his adoption, or if it is just a cultural phenomenon.  He arrived off the plane from Taiwan (a 17 hour flight) in a full Bumble Bee outfit complete with big white wings!  A few months after his arrival in Canada, a package arrived for Ruckle from Taiwan (see below).  Doesn’t he look happy!?!

So we have some pretty great costumes planned for our long-suffering pets (aka Offical Greenhawk Greeters) for this Halloween.  Please stop by the store on October 31st to check them out (and enjoy some candy while you’re here!)

Also we are hosting a fun Halloween contest for all you creative types.  Email us a picture or post it on our facebook page of your dog or horse dressed up for Halloween. 

Happy Halloween…..Glynis

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NGAPUHI (December 30, 1994 ~ August 26, 2012)




I once had a horse that was so obstinate, sullen and cantankerous that out of sheer desperation I called in an Animal Psychic to see if she could help me better understand him. Needless to say it was a total failure. Not surprisingly, the horse “did not want to talk” to the Psychic. As we were leaving the barn, my other horse, my pride and joy, Ngapuhi was looking over his door with the expectant, curious expression he often wore. “Now this one wants to talk,” said the Psychic. This was also not surprising. “Well what does he want to talk about,” I asked. “He wants you to tell me about everything that he’s accomplished. He is extremely proud of himself.”  On August 26, 2012, we said good-bye to my horse of a life-time. If ever there was a horse that would have wanted a tribute to be written in his honour, I know it would have been Ngapuhi.

Ngapuhi was born in December 1994, probably clinging to the edge of a cliff, on the tough, steep terrain of the North Island of New Zealand. He spent his formative years roaming 800 acres with very little human interaction, until at age three he was rounded up with the rest of the youngsters to begin his training….New Zealand style.

As he was half-wild (and it was New Zealand) his training began with being broke to hobbles, a lesson which never left him. Throughout his life, whenever his antics (which were unfortunately frequent) landed him in trouble, like a leg in a hay-net or over a gate, he would go completely still, enter a trance-like state and calmly wait for help to arrive.

The first time Ngapuhi was saddled he was surprisingly good, so Lloyd Worthington (his owner/breeder) decided he was ready for the obvious next step which was to tie red bags to the saddle to let him get a few bucks out!  That was when Lloyd realized he had bred a jumping horse. Ngapuhi easily cleared the towering fence that surrounded the training pen, specifically constructed to be “unjumpable.” Then he was gone, running free on the 800 acres he knew so well, complete with saddle and flapping red bags. It took three days to catch him, at which point he was broke to the saddle.

Ngapuhi (scrawny black beast) in the breaking pens before jumping out!

I arrived in New Zealand shortly after this incident. I had traveled to NZ to spend a year working, riding and traveling and my first job was with Lloyd riding and competing his string of show jumpers. I showed up on a Wednesday, met and rode all the horses on Thursday and loaded everyone up for a show on Friday. Ngapuhi, wild, wooly and with limited training other than running the range with red bags, was entered in his first show in the 1 Meter Young Horse Division. Although steering was a foreign concept and brakes had yet to be installed he charged towards every jump with immense bravery and leapt over with joyful enthusiasm. It was at this show that I realized he must be mine.

I brought Ngapuhi home with me and he spent the winter acclimatizing to Canada. The next spring we hauled across the country to work for a friend in South Carolina and for Ngapuhi to begin his Eventing career. Ngapuhi proved to be the ultimate eventer. He was very good at dressage, brave, smart, quick, catty and jumped like a clever pony cross-country, and hated to touch a rail in show jumping no matter what I did or how badly I rode.

Ngapuhi Trying His Best in Dressage

You can build and gain confidence in different ways, and it usually has something to do with believing in your self. In my case, it was through a total and utter belief in my horse. I am not a particularly brave rider. In fact, I’m borderline wimpy. But Ngapuhi made me brave. When I didn’t trust myself, I took great comfort in 100% trusting my horse. He had learned at a young age to look after himself, and I had complete faith in his wily survival skills, sure-footedness, immense scope and unbelievable intelligence. He took me up to the Advanced Level in Eventing, a level I do not think I will ever reach again.  The one and only reason I could muster up the courage to face those fences was because of my unwavering belief in him and his ability to do it for me and in spite of me. I would enter the cross-country warm-up area feeling slightly sick, but after watching a few other horses jump their warm-up jumps would start to feel much better. I would think to myself, “Really, if that rider can be brave enough to go out there and face those fences on that horse, then I have NO excuse.  No one else has Ngapuhi.” I truly felt like I had a secret weapon, a partner I believed to be infallible, one who would always look out for both of us, and could make up for my shortcomings and mistakes. What a feeling….how lucky was I?

Jumping for Joy


I truly believe he should have been a super-star, but his event career was cut too short by a tendon injury incurred at Foxhall CCI*** in Atlanta, Georgia. He did his best dressage test ever there, was clear cross-country and was named to the Canadian Team, but it was also the last event we ever did together. His tendon did heal, but never to the degree it would have been worth risking him at high-level competition. Instead he went on to be an incredible horse for my friend Shaye and then a wonderful partner for my friend Devon. I know he changed the course of both of their lives, like he changed mine.

He did not deserve any of the suffering he had to bear over the last few years. He endured major colic surgery, bouts of laminitis and a final mystery illness that eventually proved to be too much. On his final day on earth, we were trying to tempt him to eat some grass when suddenly his head shot up, he wheeled and kicked sky-high, took off at a gallop, bucked two or three more times and then floated down the drive-way in a beautiful extended trot. An indomitable spirit, a great sense of humour, an uncanny intelligence, an irrepressible character and a huge part of our lives. Thank you  Ngapuhi.

~ Glynis

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Heartland is Back!

The hit horsey CBC TV show Heartland has just launched its 6th season and I, of course, have been avidly tuning in to the new season. The first year this show came out I was away traveling in Asia and my mum dutifully taped (yes taped, this was pre-PVR times) each episode of the season for me so that I could watch it when I returned from my 8 months of traveling. She was a long-time CBC employee and therefore, growing up, we always watched whatever the lastest CBC drama or comedy or what have you was on TV.

I had just turned 21 when I arrived back in Vancouver from my travels and there was no way I wanted to watch some “kiddie” horse show so when my mum told me about all the episodes she’s taped of this new show called Heartland that she was just loving, I shrugged her off. I was waaaayy too cool and far too old to watch some rinky-dink family drama.

A few months later I went back to Vancouver for Christmas and came down with an awful cold. I plunked myself in front of the TV and when mum gently hinted that she still had those Heartland episodes on tape, I decided what the heck, I’d probably fall asleep watching them anyway.

I watched back-to-back episodes over the course of a couple days until I was finished the entire first season. Sure, some of the acting wasn’t awesome, but many of the cast were young actors who probably hadn’t yet had a gig this big in their short careers. Then there were others, like Shaun Johnston, (who plays Jack Bartlett), a seasoned actor whom you can’t help but adore as the sometimes-crusty-but-always-loveable Grandpa in the series.

I sheepishly told my mum that I was absolutely hooked and ever since then, I’ve been following the show. Two years ago when we held our Fashion 4 Compassion show here at Greenhawk Vancouver Island, we were lucky enough to have Cindy Busby, who used to star on the show, come for a meet and greet, as well as to be a part of our fashion show.

Some of my fellow co-workers also adore this show and we’ve begun a tradition of getting together to make dinner and watch the show each Sunday night. I’ve even got my landlord and her kids addicted to the show.

And yes, my mum still watches it as well. I guess that’s the point of a family drama, right? It shouldn’t matter how old you are to enjoy it :)


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Our Canadian Paralympic Equestrian Team

Well, the Olympics are now over and while we didn’t win any medals in the equestrian events, it was still exciting to watch the Canadian riders do their thing, as well as the international competition of course! But the equestrian events aren’t totally finished yet, the Paralympics are here!

Canada has sent a team of four para-dressage riders to compete in London. The team is comprised of: Lauren Barwick and her mount, Off to Paris; Eleonore Elstone and Why Not G; Ashley Gowanlock and Maile; and Jody Schloss, who’s making her paralympic debut with her mount, Inspector Rebus.

Canada has done very well in past Para-Equestrian paralympic events, winning an individual gold and silver medal at the 2008 games, and two individual bronze medals at the 2004 games.

So be sure to keep your Olympic spirit for the next little while as we cheer our Paralympians on, hopefully to some medals!


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Avalon Back to Back Weekend

Glynis, Sharon, Emily and I were off on another eventing adventure this past weekend up at Avalon Equestrian Centre, which hosted a Back-to-Back clinic where riders and their horses were able to try out all three phases (dressage, show jumping and cross country) one after the other. This format works really well–your horse is all nice and warmed up feeling supple and loose after the dressage test, then you have enough time to change tack, put in studs if necessary and throw on your safety vest and medical armband before riding down the hill to the show jumping area. The warm up area there holds two jumps so you’re able to pop your horse over a couple times before heading out on your round. After the show jump, your horse is ready to tackle the cross country course! And once that portion has been completed you and your horse will both be pretty tired and ready for some showers.

The eventers came out in droves for the weekend! There was even a mainland contingent that made the trek over. Apparently the sport of eventing on the island is actually doing not too badly.

Zappa and I rode yet another average dressage test, he was rather cranky (dressage is his least favourite part of eventing, a “necessary evil” as a friend of mine likes to call this portion of  the sport!) . After a quick tack change (well, quick may not be the best word to describe it–I was half way through masking taping my medical armband to my arm–yet another of my more stylish moves–when another competitor kindly lent me their back up armband) we were off to the show jumping area. Zappa warmed up great, jumping a fairly big oxer with ease several times, but when we got into the ring, we couldn’t seem to find a good rhythm and I’m sure our round looked less than pretty. To be fair, we haven’t jumped that many courses, and barely at all lately, so at least we didn’t have any stops, which is an improvement on last year’s show jumping attempt. Cross country rode much the same as in the jumper ring–very stilted and jolty. Zappa had to suss out each jump before launching himself over it, and we had two unfortunate stops on course but in the end he went over everything so it wasn’t all bad.

Glynis and Q had a great go on Saturday jumping the Pre-Entry course and on Sunday she upgraded to Entry. He made it through the water but had a slight hiccup at one of the house jumps. He also got over it in the end and jumped the rest of the course in fine form. Glynis and Sharon are gearing up for Campbell Valley horse trials which is coming up fast.

Once again, we wanted to thank the Avalon crew for hosting the Back-to-Back clinic and allowing we island eventers a chance to test ourselves and our horses in all three phases.


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