Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rolex plans, news and Patricia's ramblings...

And no, I'm not proud.
Warning: this blog post might be a bit on the "less professional/warts and all" side.

First, as I posted on Facebook/Twitter (they're connected), I LOVED our sponsored post on EN today: click here The crazy helmet, shout-outs to our good friends Samantha Clark, Max Corcoran, Chelan Kozak and specially....the cute puppy video! EN John is probably scratching his head and going "uh...really?" Yes, really.

Second, my desk is a mess. >>

but looking for a pen, I found this!
Awwww
Ok, next piece of business - ROLEX!!!!!!

Tickets? Check! ~ photo: Calina Ritchie
Yesterday, we received an email confirming our trade booth number (69...) and our set up time - Wednesday at 11:00. So it's all systems go.

Here's the thing. Last year, we did some autograph sessions, which were great. But I'm kind of questioning the whole autograph idea for 2011.

This year, I'm thinking "experimental off-off Broadway" un-marketing ideas. More than a "ra-ra-ra look at us", I wanted to find a way to give back to the people who support us.

I did a post a week or so ago about Lower Level riders and sponsorships (article here) after someone wrote on a BB: “It is way past time that the lower level riders started getting some respect from sponsors for the huge buying power we all have.” Even if that wasn't directed at us, it really stuck with me.

Thank YOU for your support
We enjoy great support among professional riders, for which we are extremely grateful. They help us design, test and promote our products and sometimes, they send us heart-warming notes like this. >>

But the great majority of our clients ARE lower level riders. Their business allow us to buy groceries, pay our mortgages and most important of all, they make it possible to come to work, every day, to jobs we love.

Plus, they made us win an Equestrian Social Media Award! :)

So, we wanted to do something special. Here are our ideas.

#1. Smurf-reports

Gonna make some noise!
I thought... how about including Lower Level Riders in our blog? Have them live and breathe the Rolex experience, not only as spectators looking in, but as active participants. Send them on private course walks, introduce them to top riders, grooms... and let them write about it without a corporate filter (not that I have a big one to begin with).

Our Smurf team has been recruited, is getting ready and pretty excited (I'll introduce them next week). I think they will bring a fresh and unique perspective and ammie riders at home will be able to connect with their articles.

How the blog is going to end up is a mystery at this point...might be brilliant, might be a mish-mash of articles. I have never seen a company open their blog to total strangers before, but that's the "off-off-Broadway leap of faith" part.

#2. Instead of autograph sessions, I'm thinking Q&As with top riders...

Last year, when we did autograph sessions, it was a scary mob scene. A very well behaved mob, I have to say, but the whole time, we were wondering if they going to beat us up with a horse boot if they didn't get their autograph before the rider had to leave....
This year, I'm toying with the idea of replacing those with daily, more intimate events with one or two top riders in a Q&A format. We wouldn't necessarily widely advertise them, but we'd post them on Facebook etc... so that people who follow us, have the first crack at it. Kind of our thank you to them.

Whaddaya think?







Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pre-order ECOGOLD Saddle Pads and Horse Boots for Rolex and SAVE!

Coming to Rolex?

At Ecogold, we never have “show specials” but here’s a unique opportunity to
SAVE 10%
on ECOGOLD Saddle Pads and Horse Boots.

1) Pre-Order any ECOGOLD product online or by phone – UNTIL APRIL 18

2) Use Discount Code: YAYROLEX
which will automatically deduct 10% from your purchase

3) Pick up your goodies at the ECOGOLD stand #69 in the trade fair (or have a friend pick them up for you)

Voila!

You are guaranteed to:

1. SAVE 10% on ECOGOLD stuff. Wohoo!

2. Get the product you want, in the color and size you want.

3. Save time that could be better spent watching the horsies.

• if you are interested in our horse boots, but you are not sure of the size you need: please bring one of your “old” boots to our Rolex stand, so we can compare.




Click here to Pre-Order and Save NOW!


If you have any questions, please contact us at 1-866-432-6465
or email: info@ecogold.ca

or post a comment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Badminton rider profile: meet Gwendolen Fer

Photo credit: Marianne Delleci
If you live in North America, you're probably thinking: who? But you better learn that name as you will hear it again.

This rising star is the youngest and only female rider on France's national squad short-list (top 9 riders), which means she gets to train with team coach Laurent Bousquet. Not bad for a 25-year-old who rode in her first 3* event in 2008.

Gwendolen has been competing at national championships since she was 10-years-old and has won the "Champion of France" title at every level: Pony Champion, Junior Champion and Young Rider Champion.

She finished 7th at her first 4* event on her mare Leria du Ter (2009 Pau CCI****), and in 2010, she had the best performance by a French rider at any 4* event, with her 6th place at Pau CCI****. Another Ecogold-rider, Boyd Martin finished 7th.

Best of all....she rode most of the cross-country course with a broken breast plate (see photo). Her ECOGOLD saddle pad helped secure the saddle, but still... So Gwendolen is not only a talented rider, but has nerves of steel, as the breast-plate malfunction did not make her lose her focus (there's a video, but let's watch her stadium round instead...).

2010 CCE****Pau jumping Gwendolen Fer

This will be Gwendolen's first participation at the Badminton Horse Trials and probably the first of many. In addition to 12-yr-old Leria du Ter, she has Opera, a 9-yr-old stallion competing at the 2* level, as well as two young horses.

For us, it's quite exciting to be involved in Gwendolen's career. Frankly, we never thought we'd sell our products in France, so just that part is really cool. She first came to us for our cross-country boots; as her mare is really sensitive and everything rubbed on her...not anymore! But she now rides in Ecogold Saddle Pads and Half Pads and would not have it any other way. Check out her favourite products.




For more information about Gwendolen, visit her website: http://www.gwendolenfer.com/



Monday, March 28, 2011

ECOGOLD's visit to OCET

While in Florida, we had the chance to take 2 days off and decided to spend them at the O'Connor Equestrian Team's winter base in Ocala. Not only, it is a beautiful place but probably the friendliest barn we've ever visited (and we've been to a LOT). It is a very busy operation, but Karen and her team always  make you feel welcome. Starting with this guy...

Brew O'Connor loves Ecogold
Gates of eventing heaven

OCET Barns
Hello! Got any saddle pads for me?
You know you've made it when...
Mandiba is going to Badminton
Max's new brain massage technique (top secret): "Doodle, top 10 at Badminton!"
"I'm so handsome." - Rolex-bound Quintus 54

 M&M jump! They must have seen our video
 The Canadian Eventing Team's training sessions were taking place there at the same time, so there was a big pow-wow of Ecogold riders. A few more pics!

How many 4* riders are in this photo? Answer at the end of the post
Diana Burnett and Rebecca Howard with David O'Connor

Jessica Phoenix


 Karen O'Connor rides in Ecogold Saddle pads and Horse Boots. Click on the photos to view the products.

* There are four 4* riders in the photo: Canada's Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (riding), Allison Springer, David O'Connor and Karen O'Connor.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kristin Schmolze is heading to Badminton!

This is the title of an email I received a few weeks ago, asking me if we would supply the saddle pads for Kristin's first trip to Badminton. As we already sponsor the top (and most prolific) riders in America,  it is a challenge for us to support more upcoming riders on a regular basis. But my answer in this case was: "You bet!" Representing your country overseas is always very special for a rider, and we wanted to be part of Kristin's Badminton journey.

Looking at the Badminton entry list, there are at least eight Ecogold riders representing four different countries. In the coming days, we will do a little profile of each of them. First up:  Kristin Schmolze

Photo credit: Tim Poulsen

Kristin Schmolze of Califon, NJ and her Irish Sport Horse gelding Cavaldi (Joey) are competing at Badminton for the first time. The pair has already been around Rolex Kentucky and the Burghley CCI**** and they have been training hard with US Coach Capt. Mark Phillips as members of the US Eventing Team's "A" training list. Kristin also trains regularly with Olympian Phillip Dutton and spent two weeks over the winter working intensively on her dressage and show jumping in Wellington, FL with Betsy Steiner and Katie Prudent, respectively. Kristin is excited to represent the USA when she fulfills her lifelong dream of competing at the Badminton Horse Trials CCI**** in 2011.

Here is a video of Kristin and Cavaldi at 2010 Rebecca Farms (not yet in Ecogold Saddle pads...)

Kristin has promised to send updates from Badminton which we will post on ECOGOLD's Facebook page as soon as we get them. In addition, she is writing a blog for the USEA.

To learn more about Kristin, visit her website: http://www.kristinschmolze.net/

Kristin will be riding in ECOGOLD Secure Saddle pads and Cross-Country Horse Boots.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photos from ECOGOLD's 2011 Florida tour - Southbound

The week has been quite busy at ECOGOLD HQ, but I thought we'd share these photos, which we posted on our Facebook page in real time as we were traveling to Florida. Today, I was looking at them for the first time on a "real computer" and thought, not bad for cell phone pics!

Nearly 3,000 km (1640 miles) southbound
ECOGOLD's supersonic Subaru in New York

Near Lexington, Virginia
More from Virginia
South Carolina
Finally
More soon!

Dressage Canada Announces Markus Gribbe as Technical Leader for the High Performance Program

March 21, 2011 - Dressage Canada is pleased to announce that Mr. Markus Gribbe has been selected as the Technical Leader for Dressage Canada’s high performance program. The announcement comes after an extensive search and selection process which began in December of 2010 and was led by the Dressage Canada Hiring Committee.

Applicants were narrowed down to three candidates and interviews were conducted in Ottawa, Ontario in February. The Hiring Committee then made their recommendation to the Dressage Canada Board (DCB), which was subsequently approved at a meeting of the DCB. This morning Mr. Gribbe confirmed his acceptance of the contract offered to him by Equine Canada on behalf of Dressage Canada.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch and Port Authority - Canadian Eventing Team's Dressage Training Session

In Ocala, we had the chance to spend some time with our friend, World Equestrian Games Silver Medalist Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch who rides in ECOGOLD Saddle Pads and Horse Boots.

We were invited to the Canadian Eventing Team's training sessions, where Gunnar Ostergaard, the new CET dressage specialist, worked with Stephanie and Port Authority to prepare them (short-term) for the Badminton Horse Trials and (long-term) for London.
 
We asked Stephanie her thoughts about the new addition to the Canadian program :  "Gunnar gives me a fresh point of view on my horse and my riding. Having just met us, he only knows what he sees, not where we come from. Because of this, he is able to give us very specific advice, for example, a warm up routine that really gets Ollie through and over his back."

We all feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with Gunnar, and we are very excited about this addition to our program. We are all motivated to improve, and having a knowledgeable and enthusiastic horseman like Gunnar, will help Canada towards our goal of gold in London 2012"

Here are the videos of the training session.

1/3 Stephanie Rhodes Bosch and Port Authority - Dressage with Gunnar Ostergaard

2/3 Stephanie Rhodes Bosch and Port Authority - Dressage with Gunnar Ostergaard

3/3 Stephanie Rhodes Bosch and Port Authority - Dressage with Gunnar Ostergaard

In order to compete at the Badminton Horse Trials, Stephanie needs to raise $7,000 in the next 2 weeks. If you have enjoyed the videos and would like to help send Steph and Ollie to Badminton 2011, please donate using the widget below.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sponsorships and the Lower Level Rider

by Patricia

After three busy weeks on the road, we are finally catching up with what’s happening on the blogosphere.

So…I’m reading a post about sponsorships, a subject I am particularly interested in, and there is a discussion about a certain company giving prize money conditional to the winner using their brand. As a manufacturer, I think it’s a brilliant idea, but the other side of the coin is that riders sponsored by another brand are out of luck. But conditional prize money for some is better than less prize money for all. Right?

In any case, the discussion goes on about professional riders…and then this.

“It is way past time that the lower level riders started getting some respect from sponsors for the huge buying power we all have.” Ouch.

Ok, so here’s how sponsorships work.

As a company, we do three types of sponsorship:  individual riders, events and organizations

I’d say the more visible of the three is the professional riders using the products, but in terms of importance, companies probably spend more resources on the other two. When a company supports a horse show or an event with prizes, sponsorship money or by renting a vendor space, it directly benefits all riders, and specially lower level riders. Without that support, many horse shows would have to raise entry fees or could simply not survive.

Same thing with sponsorships of an organization. All sponsors of the USEA, USHJA, local dressage clubs etc… are supporting lower level riders, as they form the majority of the members. The lower level rider might not see the sponsorship directly in their pocket, but it benefits them nonetheless.

If you volunteer at a local show or organization, I will say that a well-presented sponsorship package goes a long way. I’ve had local organizations approach me in a professional manner, clearly showing how the company could benefit from the sponsorship. Once at the event, the organizers delivered a great experience and sent thank you emails afterwards. That’s the kind of thing that keeps sponsors coming back.

Here’s a little shout out to 2 lower-level riders groups we love.

#1.  CADORA  (Canadian Dressage Owners and Riders Association), It’s a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of Dressage in Canada, entirely run by volunteers. They have various chapters and mainly organize education seminars, clinics etc. The quality of the events is great and we are always received with open arms (and tea and cookies). Also, they come up with cool ideas. Last year, they organized a fashion show, featuring a sponsor’s clothing line. It was fun, entertaining and for the brand, a great way to showcase their spring line. Win-win.

#2. USEA Area II – They had me at the Smurfie Awards!
In case you are not familiar with those, at their annual meeting (which was great BTW), they give out awards based not on ribbons, but on perseverance, helping others etc… 
The winners get prizes donated by a sponsor and a little smurf representing the lower level riders. It’s the most creative, innovative and fun thing I’ve seen recently. I’m not quite sure who is in charge of it (sorry, I get confused with computer names and real names), but well done!

In both cases, innovative ideas combined with great execution can generate sponsors’ interest. As long as you create a win-win proposition, the lower-level organization is just as attractive than a professionals one from a sponsor's viewpoint.

PS – those smurfie awards should go nationwide. just saying...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our ESMA Thank You video

After 3 weeks on the road with very low-speed internet, we are finally in the Great White North, where high-speed internet is plentiful, so we will post some videos and pics from our road trip in the next few days...better late than never. But first.... we just received this  from Liam at Abbeyview Equine, who organized the Equestrian Social Media Awards with Rhea Freeman. How cool is that? (Still pinching ourselves...)


Here is our (awesome) acceptance video.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Helmet Cam Alert! Doug Payne and Running Order at Red Hills 3*

Unfortunately, we lost our $1 bet on Doug to win the Red Hills CIC3*, but as a new Ecogold rider, he is polite enough to wait until getting his Ecogold Saddle Pads to win his first 3*.

Enjoy the ride!  Doug Payne and Running Order - Red Hills CIC*** - 6th Place

Friday, March 11, 2011

ECOGOLD won an Equestrian Social Media Award!!!

Can you believe ECOGOLD won the Equestrian Social Award for best use of social media for a Saddlery/Tack Shop? Well, we couldn't either. They had to tell us a few times.

Watch this video at 6:20


We are really, really touched. And speechless. So Thank You.

Canadian Eventing Training Camp - Dressage with David O'Connor

Day 2 of the Canadian Eventing Team's training camp featured dressage lessons for some Pan Am hopefuls with David O'Connor and the 4* horses with dressage coach Gunnar Ostergaard.

Canadian Eventing Team Training Session - Diana Burnett and Shigatzi with David O'Connor


Canadian Eventing Team Training Session - Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti with David O'Connor


Videos from the training session with Gunnar Ostergaard will be posted soon.
Have to run to Red Hills! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Canadian Eventing Training Camp - Show Jumping with David O'Connor

Here are a few videos from the Canadian Eventing Team's training camp on Tuesday, March 8 at Meredith South, the O'Connor Event Team's winter headquarters in Ocala, Florida.

Part 1 Canadian Eventing Team Training Session - Diana Burnett and Rebecca Howard

Part 2 - Canadian Eventing Team - Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch and Kyle Carter

Part 3 Canadian Eventing Team Training Session - Jessica Phoenix
*correction: Jessica's 2nd horse is Pavarotti, not Exploring

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Canadian Eventer Diana Burnett in horse trailer accident

ECOGOLD-rider and our good friend, Canadian Event Team rider Diana Burnett's horse trailer was hit by a tractor trailer last Friday. She was driving back from the Rocking Horse Trials in Florida when a truck on the opposite lane stopped suddenly, to avoid a previous accident, and was hit from behind. The truck lost control of his trailer which hit Diana's truck and trailer from the side. Diana had her dog Ty with her and two horses. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

Here are some pictures.
Diana's smashed pick-up truck

Back of horse trailer
Inside the horse's trailer
Hank had a few scratches
Hank getting some TLC from his owner Molly Clark-Hurley

Diana has not made this accident public on her Facebook page or blog, as she has been quite overwhelmed dealing with the aftermath. The truck and trailer are a complete loss, so providing the information to the insurance company and figuring out how to get to the shows and training sessions is quite challenging. Diana, who went back to the show to ride XC the day after the accident (yep, crazy eventer) told us: "I haven't had time to write anything on my facebook page as I'm trying to get everything else done. But I will say I have been amazed by the support of the eventing community here. Everybody was concerned at the show and is offering help. My neighbour Leslie Law lent me his trailer today and I have to pick up another truck for tomorrow's training session. Now I just have to figure out how to get to Red Hills..."

If you want to help Diana, you can post messages of support on her Facebook Page (please try not to email her for a few days as her blackberry is red hot with messages...). If you want to contribute to help her get a new truck, click on the widget below, which goes into her Paypal account:

"Hi guys. The accident was really scary but we're all ok. All we need now is a new ride to get to the shows and more snacks. - Hank"