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July 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 17:11
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As of mid-to-late June, show organizers had figured out how to implement the USEF safety protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 spread and found ways to get local government’s approval for their plans to get the competition season back on track. The first shows within my reach hadn’t happened before we went to press, so I can’t report on what people think about maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, not inviting spectators and other smart, common-sense safety procedures. Judging from online chatter, it seems enthusiasm far outweighs concerns.

The direction of our coverage redirected when George Floyd’s death and related Black Lives Matters protests spurred the horse world to take a hard look at inclusion and diversity in our sport. Our Be The Change feature shares a range of experiences, opinions and ideas on this subject.  

Perspectives range from that of Brianna Noble’s raised-fist ride in the May 29 downtown Oakland Black Lives Matter protests to show manager Dale Harvey’s reflections on the benefits of bringing inner city kids into the horse world. FEI dressage rider Genay Vaughn speaks eloquently on her own experiences and thoughts as a bi-racial African American rider. And we’ve included the USEF’s suggestions for further reading for those who want to better understand the issue of systemic racism and its far-reaching effects.

Like me.

I’m grateful to all who shared their views and especially to Shayna Simon, another bi-racial dressage professional. Shayna is among several local African American equestrians I’ve interviewed and written stories on over my many years with California Riding Magazine. I recall it occasionally crossing my mind to ask them if their skin color had impacted their experience in the sport.

I never did.

First, a basic rule of journalism is that you don’t include a subject’s skin color unless it’s relevant to the story. I must have felt that it wasn’t. Also, the question seemed too nosy, too personal, not my business.

Thanks to current events, I am coming to terms with the likelihood that I didn’t ask them because I assumed, in this day and age and in our sport, it couldn’t have made a difference. Surely, money is the only barrier to our sport, I’ve often thought. With her characteristic kindness, Shayna made a familiar statement that hit home. “A lot of people think racism doesn’t occur because they are not directly involved in it.”

Me, again. I’m certainly aware racism exists in broader society, but guilty of assuming it is not a big issue in our little corner of the world. Thanks to my young adult sons for reminding me regularly to “question my assumptions.” I will.

An editor is a finder, teller and sharer of stories. I’ll be looking for more stories like those of Brianna Noble and Compton Jr. Posse graduate Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner. By sharing what happens when horse people decide to “be the change we seek in the world” I hope to promote what’s possible in a way that inspires more action.

Big thanks to Kelly Artz and her Entrigue Consulting team, our cover sponsors. They’ve been moving equestrian sport and its stakeholders forward for several years and we enjoyed a glimpse of how they make that magic happen.

On to our August issue, which has an editorial focus on dressage and therapeutic products and services. As always, we welcome ideas, story suggestions and contributions.

Happy reading and happy, safe showing and enjoying your horses!


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July 2020 - Entrigue Consulting
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 06:10
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Innovative marketing, business guidance, and a range of options help equestrian sport and its stake holders achieve a return on their investment.

by Kim F. Miller

Kelly Artz is a lifelong horsewoman who sees a lot of untapped potential in equestrian sports. With Entrigue Consulting, she has made it her business to help stake holders build their brand and find personal and financial successes like that found in mainstream sports.

Entrigue is a full-service marketing and brand strategy consulting agency. It represents brands of all types and sizes, primarily equestrian. Clientele ranges from individual riders and training businesses to product manufacturers and retail businesses, big and small. She and her team welcome all comers from start-ups with a good idea to established efforts that need a reboot.

“If you have a business, you have a brand,” Kelly asserts. She likens owning a business to having a horse or a child in the sense that it needs to have its growth nurtured and guided every step of the way.

Entrigue Consulting CEO, Kelly Artz, with her mare, California-bred Kailaani. Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Experts in all facets of digital marketing comprise the core of the Entrigue team. Websites, graphic design, visual story-telling, small business strategy, search engine optimization, and staying one step ahead of the ever-evolving social media landscape are among her team members’ areas of expertise.  “You’re only as good as your team,” Kelly says.

 Her lifetime involvement with horses and the equine industry allow her to guide a team that is all about “connecting the dots” for clients. “Moving riders and businesses toward their goals helps move the whole sport forward,” she notes.

Kelly and her dressage partner, Winston. Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Speaking From Experience

Kelly speaks equestrian clients’ language. She is an HB United States Pony Club graduate who spent her early 20s as a working student for multiple trainers, including Canadian Olympic eventer Hawley Bennett. Since then, she has imported and sold jumpers from Europe in the U.S., founded three companies including Entrigue, and continues to compete in the show ring.

After switching from eventing to dressage, Kelly quickly earned her USDF Bronze and Silver medals. She rode on the U.S. team for the 2019 Maccabi Games in Budapest, Hungary, winning individual silver and team bronze medals. Kelly currently competes her 17-year-old KWPN gelding, Winston, and her 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare, Kailaani, bred by Californian Leslie Morse.  

Beyond the arena, Kelly has an MFA in digital media from UCLA and a BA in Psychology. She served as an analyst for production consultants prior to founding Entrigue, working on big name accounts such as Hersheys and Gatorade. She spent two years producing a feature documentary about female jockeys, working with Chantal Sutherland, Kayla Stra, Julie Krone, Mike Smith, Victor Espinoza and more. She also founded and operates the successful equestrian apparel company, Anique.

The unique combination of horsemanship, education, business experience, and a forward-thinking approach enables Kelly to lead Entrigue’s clients to success on many levels: financially and in taking pride in their brand.

Entrigue is walking Kelly’s talk. Entrigue’s roster of clients has grown to include many of industry’s biggest names and brands over the past few years. Olympic medalists Will Simpson and Laura Graves are on that list, as are collaborations for the Kentucky Derby and the Longines Global Champions Tour. Equipe, County Saddlery and Grand Prix Riding Apparel have also been among Entrigue’s corporate clients.

Kelly Artz with announcer Noah Rattner at Del Mar Fairgrounds

Nothing Happens Overnight

Kelly compares building an effective marketing strategy to building a Grand Prix dressage horse -- It doesn’t happen overnight. She debunks a pervasive misconception that marketing and sales are the same thing. “Marketing is positioning,” she told interviewers on the Freelance Remuda Podcast last year. “It’s getting in front of the right customers and with content that appeals to them.”

Ensuring that all the brand’s marketing channels work together is a priority. As is making each of today’s necessary marketing channels earn their keep. “A website without good SEO (search engine optimization) is useless,” she explains. “Nobody will find you.” The same goes for social media profiles that are not posting regular content that reaches and appeals to real potential customers.  

Too often, brands expect a specific marketing effort to convert directly into sales. “It just doesn’t work that way,” Kelly notes. When a celebrity athlete like Beezie Madden endorses a product, it creates a positive association in the right customers’ mind. But knowing when that translates to an actual sale is nearly impossible to determine. Putting a promotional code on such an endorsement enables tracking its direct impact on sales, but that benefit is “only a tiny part of what marketing is,” she explains.

“Immediate results are hard to produce. With marketing for brands, it’s all about gaining momentum. Everything from name recognition to increasing web traffic and social media growth takes time and effort to get it to a place where it’s leverageable and useful for positioning for more sales.  With time and continued work, it all starts to fall into place and work together.”

For many clients, Entrigue facilitates all aspects of their marketing efforts: from daily social media content to managing their digital ads on multiple platforms, creating quality print materials, website maintenance and more. Optimizing e-commerce sites for the buyer and shopper’s benefit is another specialty. Google Ads, Amazon store support and blog writing are recent additions to Entrigue’s extensive menu of services.

The Entrigue Consulting live stream team during the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival

“The Olympics and Then What?”

Connecting riders and brands in mutually beneficial partnerships is a core of Entrigue’s business. The idea for this arose when Kelly worked with Angie Stevens, a talent agent for jockeys in the racing industry. “I learned a lot about how endorsement deals are structured and saw that jockeys were treated like professional athletes because they are valuable marketing vehicles. They are what everybody is watching during a race.” Having big TV audiences for racing helps make jockeys “like billboards.”

She saw the need for something similar in the Olympic equestrian sports. “I looked at some top riders who had potential for big audiences, but they had no management, no brand, and no way to actually talk to their fans in one place--so they had nothing to offer sponsors in the way of return on investment.”

Even if a sponsorship deal was struck, the lack of professional help with website, social media and appearance management often led partnering companies to feel short-changed.

“With riders, I’ve found that most are not worth the sponsorships they want,” Kelly observes. “They don’t like hearing that, but the things they want usually take years to get.” Along with being a talented rider, “You have to have the marketing and branding to be able to move yourself forward in the sport.” Rising in the rankings must go along with building an engaged fan base that has value to a sponsor.

“Olympics and then what?” is a question Kelly encourages professional equestrians to ask themselves. “I think some riders think that the Olympics is the end-all be-all and that it comes with a million-dollar check after. It doesn’t.” Whether they get to the Olympics or not, the rider needs to have a business model and a brand they can be proud of and leverage for a future by being of value to others.

2019 Pan Am Games dressage gold medalist Sarah Lockman was one of Entrigue’s first clients. At the time she had very few Instagram followers and a handful of small sponsors,” Kelly recalls. Long term development was the goal from the beginning and it took time to reach the level of backing that has put Sarah on a realistic track to fulfill Olympic dreams.

Talent and success in the saddle are two factors required in riders who can generate the needed ROI for a sponsor. Hard work is equally important.

“They have to be willing to put in the time, to do the photo shoots or hire a ghost writer,” Kelly says. In Sarah’s case, a strong work ethic and an openness to clients of all kinds helped the stars align. When the late Gerry Ibanez called Sarah several years ago, after finding her online, for help with a Friesian he’d bought sight-unseen, Sarah welcomed the inexperienced horse person. It was the beginning of a partnership with Ibanez’ Summit Farms that has since made Sarah’s international dreams a reality.

“It should be important to all riders, but especially top riders, to continue to grow the sport and bring new people into our world,” Kelly asserts. “It’s very possible to introduce new people to horse sports and facilitate a joyful experience that they want to be a part of -- whether it’s supporting a trainer and their business or helping a rider obtain an Olympic mount. Current equestrians are responsible for showing others there is value in our sport in order to bring in new owners, riders and sponsors.”

Similar dedication is needed to attract top horses. Rather than counting on a wealthy individual to buy them horses, Kelly coaches clients to form ownership syndicates and focus on their own networking and relationships. She recommends they be built around the opportunity to sell the horse at a profit if it doesn’t wind up well-suited for international success. Without that opportunity for a return on their investment, counting on owners who may lose interest over time is a poor plan for staying well mounted, especially in sports like dressage with very little prize money.

All Budgets Welcome

Entrigue’s ability to capitalize on evolving marketing trends and realities is available to businesses of all budgets. The brand looking only for logo design is as important as the big company looking for the full suite of services.  “We encourage clients to work with what they have,” Kelly explains. “Everyone starts somewhere.” Budget restrictions can be a blessing. “It can fuel a lot of creativity.”

“I believe a well-run business and marketing strategy will sustain itself in the long run,” she continues. “If you can’t take $10 and make it $100, you can’t take $100,000 and turn it into a million. You have to have the brand in place and the structure there internally. Every business is different and we help clients with all that to create an effective strategy for the long run.”  

“There’s no substitute for strategic, consistent work”, Kelly concludes. “That means reaching out for clients, fans, followers, sponsors, etc. Then having a firm sense of what value you can bring to any partnership and being poised to deliver it when the opportunity arises.”  Entrigue Consulting is all about getting equestrian athletes and businesses ready to make the most of those opportunities.

For more information, visit


July 2020 - Genay Vaughn
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 06:03
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Accomplished African American equestrian speaks up.

Young dressage professional Genay Vaughn shares her perspective on Black Lives Matter and how it relates to equestrian sports and individual responsibilities and opportunities. Genay is the assistant trainer at her family’s Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Elk Grove. USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are among her accomplishments.

Q: In the overall Black Lives Matter movement, how important is diversity in equestrian sport? Why does it matter? How do the two connect?


I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the international community of dressage. I’ve heard criticism lately about how elitist equestrian sport is, because of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and racial injustices and prejudice in the United States. These conversations are happening all around the world right now, with 20 countries taking to the streets to show their support for black people. Equestrian sports should welcome conversations like these, because we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the sports world as a community that embraces diversity and provides opportunity to experience all that equine culture has to offer. Equestrian sport is about the high-performance connection between humans and animals, and, like our horses, that connection knows no color.

Q: Compared to the general world, how much systemic racism have you experienced in the horse world?

In my experience, and I can only speak for myself, I have not personally experienced overt racism in my sport. However, we must acknowledge that racial bias is an unfortunate part of the history of equestrian sport.

Genay at a protest in Sacramento last weekend.

For example, when horse racing saw its height in America at the end of the 19th century, 13 out of 15 of the top jockeys were African American. The ability to make a significant earning as a jockey led more white athletes to enter the sport. Around this time, at the dawn of the Jim Crow era, institutionalized racism crept into the world of horse racing. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled with the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that segregation was legal. Due to that ruling, white jockeys during the 1900 racing season used intimidation tactics to keep black jockeys from competing. Even though the Supreme Court overturned the 1896 decision in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. did not see another black jockey in the top level of competitors until 2000.   

It is hard to discuss issues of race without discussing the intersection of race and class. As a biracial African American athlete, I was fortunate to be exposed to the sport and to have the opportunity to participate. Equestrian sport is expensive, by its very nature, and so it is inherently exclusive and predominantly accessible to those who can afford to participate. An athlete who doesn’t own a horse needs to have access to one, and to have the opportunity to be near a place where one can train, usually some place that has land.

Although I personally have not experienced overt racism, I have witnessed looks of surprise when others come to find that I am a rider and not a groom at competitions. In other similar sports, athletes at the height of their career have spoken publicly about more overt forms of racism. In tennis, black athletes such as Serena Williams have experienced mistreatment by fellow athletes, fans, and commentators for their race and have spoken about it in interviews. And such stories are commonplace in other exclusive sports. Lewis Hamilton has spoken about his disappointment that the Formula One community did not condemn racial inequality at a time when so many other sports organizations like the NFL and NASCAR have.

The truth is, as a person of color, when you walk into the room, even if you walk in wearing the uniform that communicates that you’re there to compete, people will see you differently. This is even more so if you’re black and you’re really good, because you are defying expectations of what black people can do. We are an affront to some people’s limited world view. Such a sentiment has no place in an international sport, where the goal should always be to respect one another, no matter our color, our culture, or what country we call home.

Q: What can equestrians of all colors do better?

I think it’s great we’re having these kinds of conversations, because it is a necessary first step to taking action. This is what BLM is all about. Dressage is an international community, and we have a particular interest in valuing social equity and fairness. Two words that come to mind are exposure and opportunity.

Exposure means knowing what the sport is. Opportunity means having the chance to pursue the sport, something my family afforded me. In other words, if you never encounter the ocean, or pond, or pool, how would you ever learn how to swim? There are opportunities out there that provide exposure and equitable access to horse riding, but there could be more. Things like scholarships, after school programs, and equine-assisted therapy, are ways in which equestrian organizations have already worked to create a more inclusive community.

One premier example is the equestrian leader Lezlie Hiner, who founded the polo organization Work to Ride in 1994. Work to Ride exposes inner city kids of West Philadelphia to polo. These are kids who have never previously had the opportunity to ride a horse, let alone compete in polo. What’s even more incredible is that they have turned out stars, simply by providing the exposure and opportunity to learn and enjoy the sport.

The BLM movement is a call to action for individuals as well as organizations. It challenges us all to be better. Now is the time for the equestrian community to seize the opportunity to distinguish ourselves, by working harder to provide more exposure for those who would not otherwise be able to enjoy horses. Inclusion is an important value on its face, but if people are unclear why it is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do, one need only look to the work of economist Scott E. Page, or all the moves Fortune 500 companies and educational institutions are making on this front. Our most profitable corporations and brightest universities have recognized the value in enacting institutional change. This is not just because of BLM, as research shows organizations perform better with a more diverse makeup. BLM is a catalyst to necessary progress.

The sky is really the limit for what we can do when we put our minds to it and commit to inclusion as a common value.

July 2020 - Blackjack Farm
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:54
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Staying in shape and in the saddle throughout stay-at-home and beyond.

They say there is a time and a place for everything. It seems that in light of the things going on in the world that this might be the time, and Blackjack Farm might be the place. Blackjack Farm has been the dream of Robin Martinez and her husband Dionicio since they moved there a little over 8 years ago. A never-ending work in progress, the barn and the business continue to evolve.


“We joke that the stay at home order doesn’t change our life all that much,” laughs Robin. “But in all seriousness, this time at home has given us an opportunity to really contemplate what it is we want to do with our time, our place and our energy.  We’ve really been asking ourselves, where do we want to go from here?”  


Robin and Dionicio Martinez.

In the beginning, they set out to create a place where the horses came first, and they have continued to enhance the facility with that in mind. “Additionally,” says Robin “We believe strongly in rider fitness and the importance of a person’s fitness in general. When we designed our place, the gym and running track were as much of a priority as the arena or any other amenity.”  Everything from ongoing improvements to the footing, to the beautifully groomed track (used by horses & riders) to the recently installed Eurocisor to the beautiful hay from Oregon that they feed, the horse and rider’s well-being is foremost.  

Robin has an extensive education in fitness and sports nutrition. “I’ve had the good fortune of being the fitness expert for for quite a few years and hope to bring more of that type of education to the forefront.” One benefit of being a client at Blackjack that really sets them apart from other riding programs is that personal fitness training is included for all riders in training. “With gyms closing down as a result of the pandemic, having a gym and your own personal trainer at the barn where your horse is really cannot be beat!” says Robin.

Dylan Z, a young superstar arriving from Holland, with Robin Martinez and Lupe Marquez from Apollo Equine Transport.

An Adult Emphasis

At Blackjack, the riding program has always been geared towards adult riders. Robin has a passion for teaching adults and they really seem to appreciate her ability to break things down and explain the directions being given. “Teaching adults requires a much different set of skills from the instructor,” says Robin. “I have those skills and I work to enhance them every day.” When Robin came back to riding as an adult, she found the programs and methods had disconnect for adult students. “I have dedicated my teaching life to filling in this that gap that I experienced and have positioned myself to be what an adult rider really needs from their instructor. If you ask my students, I am confident they will tell you I’m on the right track!” says Robin.

This time at home has also reaffirmed Robin’s love of teaching young horses. “It’s not that dissimilar to teaching adults,” says Robin. “A young horse needs an explanation if they are to understand and really learn. We are blessed with some fantastic young horses right now and they keep me inspired every day.” Blackjack Farms offer Young Horse packages to owners looking to place their future stars in a program geared just to them and their unique needs.  

“One other reoccurring theme at Blackjack has been that when visitors come here, they all say how much they wish they could stay for a while,” says Robin. With that in mind, they are getting ready to launch an Airbnb on the property. Guests will be able to participate in the activities going on there as much or as little as they like. They can even bring their own horse. They are planning 3- and 5-day bootcamps, allowing visitors to get away from it all and put a real focus on their riding and their fitness. More to come on this as they launch midsummer.

Blackjack Farm is a beautiful place with a tangible focus on horse and rider. There could be much worse places to practice a stay home order.  
For more information please visit

July 2020 - Senior Spotlight: Mackenzie Davis
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:47
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More saddle time accelerates an already impressive progression for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound eventer.

by Kim F. Miller

From a college admissions counselor’s perspective, Mackenzie Davison has it all. Good grades, work and volunteer experience and years of consistently pursuing a passion. Where some kids strive to check those boxes with varying degrees of authenticity and enthusiasm, Mackenzie has a passion for horses that tied them all together naturally.


The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound Mackenzie is a Training Level eventer. She keeps and cares for the family’s horses at their home stable in San Diego County’s San Marcos. She’s been a working student for her aunt Erin Kellerhouse’s Swift Ridge Eventing in Temecula for a few years, and volunteers with CANTER to help prepare Off The Track Thoroughbreds for second careers.


Mackenzie enjoys competing, but it’s the everyday aspects of life with horses she’s most drawn to. Her mom Julie Davison rides, too, and they share the considerable responsibilities that come with keeping two horses, one Miniature and one pony at their home stable. Pony Club and recreational riding were mainstays of Mackenzie’s early equestrian upbringing, but never far from her aunt’s watchful eye. She began a more focused eventing path in 7th grade, first with the pony Skye’s The Limit, and is grateful for how Erin has helped shape her into a brave and confident rider.

“I’ve always had a very strong internal drive to do better,” Mackenzie explains. “Erin has pushed me just enough to make me a more brave and stronger rider, but never enough to break my confidence.”

Mackenzie and Balla Ruan.

Happy to have another dedicated equestrian in the family, Erin has enjoyed influencing and having a front row seat for Mackenzie’s journey into adulthood. The young rider started out as shy as she was smart -- which is very. “Now she’s blossomed into this adult that we have great conversations with,” Erin shares. “It’s really fun.”

Her riding has become better and bolder, too. Mackenzie is trusted to school several of the Swift Ridge horses. Riding more often these last few years, and on a variety of horses, has accelerated the developed of her natural skills. “Instruction is a huge part of getting better, and so is riding horse after horse,” Erin observes.

“You get the muscle memory and a chance to figure out the little details that make them better. A lot of learning happens when you ride on your own, versus having someone telling you what to do every second.”

Working with OTTBs through a CANTER branch at the Del Mar Fairgrounds has increased Mackenzie’s saddle time and broadened her education. “We get to work with a lot of different horses with different personalities and, in some cases, some issues that have to be worked through,” Mackenzie explains. Going slow is the guiding principle for all training steps as the horses go from not having been ridden with traditional sporthorse training cues to working on the lunge line, short flatwork sessions and small jumping courses.

Swift Ridge client and amateur competitor Hilary Burkemper sees it all come together during frequent lessons alongside Mackenzie. “She is positive and assertive in her riding and her horse is responding to it. She has her mind in the game and she doesn’t get flustered.” Out of the saddle, “She is a lovely girl and a good kid!”

Mackenzie Davison. Photo: Pam Birmingham

Driving Forces

Riding isn’t the only thing that’s required some guts.  Last summer, Mackenzie learned to drive the trailer and make the one-hour haul to Temecula on her own. It was nerve wracking at first. “It was with my dad and we just went only about 15 minutes away. It was scary having my horse in the trailer. He’s my baby! I didn’t want to hurt him.”

The “baby” is 12-year-old Irish Draft horse Balla Ruan. They’ve been progressing together for the last three years, and more quickly since the COVID close-down of school enabled more time to ride. Five or six shows a year has been a typical agenda for the pair that had hoped to contest Woodside and Twin Rivers horse trials this spring.

Horse girl that she is, Mackenzie took the event cancellations in stride. “I try not to take my competition goals too seriously,” she explains. “I know that stuff always happens and things don’t work out.” Training milestones are better than ribbons in her book. “I have really wanted to improve my riding, so I’m basing it off how I rode everything instead of how I place.” Improved dressage is the most tangible result of more riding and lessons these days, she says. “It is getting better and more consistent.”
Summer Send-Off

With the Galway Downs Summer Horse Trials just cleared for take-off July 17-19, Mackenzie hopes that will be one of a few shows she’ll contest this summer. She also hopes to start Cal Poly on campus in the fall, but that was an unknown as of mid-June. Regardless of when she can physically start at the San Luis Obispo campus, she is sure it’s the right fit. Agricultural Business is her expected major, with a minor in Equine Science, all on a track toward a career in the horse world.

Classes that include colt starting, training and horse husbandry are among the “amazing and cool” opportunities she’s excited about at Cal Poly. She’s taking Balla Ruan with her with an eye on becoming a Mustang eventing and dressage team member.

Along with getting to spend more time working for and riding at Swift Ridge, Mackenzie says a pandemic upside is getting to do some senior year high school activities a little differently. Having no prom or grad night is “disappointing,” she acknowledges. “But we’ve had our own different kinds of celebrations, maybe more memorable.” Her graduation ceremony, for example, entailed each student driving to the site, then walking on their own across a stage and stopping to make a speech. “I think we spent more time in the actual graduation process than we would have normally.”

While equestrian is typically an outlier sport during high school, it had its advantages over mainstream sports during this weird final semester. “It’s given me a distraction,” Mackenzie reflects. “Without it, I’d basically be home worrying about everything, like a lot of my school friends are doing. And, I get to keep going in my sport and with a purpose.”

July 2020 - Trailering Tips
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:28
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Hit the road with respiratory health on board.

The horse world is cautiously getting back on the road as competitions re-emerge on summer calendars. Productive horse people likely spent some of the pandemic doing horse trailer maintenance: checking breaks, tires, interiors, hitches and electrical connections.

Those critical aspects of safe equine transport tend to get a lot of attention. Horse’s respiratory health merits equal consideration because it can be badly compromised during trailering.


Competition itself has enough variables, notes Virginia-based two-time World Equestrian Games eventer Lynn Symansky. “They really increase when you combine those variables with respiratory issues horses can pick up while travelling. Especially when you are traveling with multiple horses in the trailer. You already have dust from shavings and bedding, plus whatever is coming in through the open windows. When each horse grabs and pulls hay from their hay net, it can be worse.”

Hay is mostly a good thing for traveling horses. Having something to munch on keeps them occupied, which helps reduce general travel stress. Chewing and digesting food keeps stomach acids at bay, lowering the risk of ulcers that often accompany that stress.     

From a respiratory health standpoint, however, hay can be harmful in the trailer or van. That’s because even hay that has good nutrient quality and looks clean can be loaded with inhalable irritants. Dust, mold spores, bacteria and other allergens are not limited to hay that looks and smells bad. These are the main triggers of conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum that affect a surprisingly high percent of the equine population.

When these microscopic bits lodge in the airways, an inflammatory response to foreign objects kicks in. This can restrict the upper airway and impede the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream. That’s never good for the horse’s welfare or performance, and it’s especially bad when heading to a show.

Before hitting the road, Lynn’s crew steams their horses’ hay in a Haygain Hay Steamer. The high-temperature steaming process rids hay of up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and allergens found in all hay. Putting clean hay in the trailer is especially important because the hay sits right in the horse’s breathing zone for the duration of the trip.
Heads Up: Not Healthy

Eating hay from an elevated position is already problematic, notes Kentucky-based veterinarian and dressage rider Dr. Wren Burnley, DVM. Eating from the ground is nature’s design for allowing the horse to clear inhaled material from its airways. They can’t do that in the trailer.

Opening vents and windows is important for ventilation during travel, although that can also disperse breathable bits further within the trailer. (Use a fly mask or other protective gear to guard the horse’s eye and face from anything that might fly in the window, Dr. Burnley notes.)  Stopping for rest breaks every four hours is the conventional wisdom for long trips. If a safe place can be found to unload the horses, letting them drink or graze with their heads lowered will help them clear their airways.

Castle Larchfield Purdy, the 2016 Olympic eventer, always travels with steamed hay, says Andrea Bushlow, who works with his rider Lauren Billys. That’s true whether they are making a relatively short trip for routine veterinary check-ups or the long haul from California to Rebecca Farms in Montana.

In the early preparation for making a second Olympic appearance, “Purdy” was diagnosed with a mild case of Inflammatory Airway Disease. This surprisingly common condition on the Equine Asthma Spectrum intensified eventing’s already rigorous physical challenges and slowed his respiratory recovery rate. Since the diagnosis, steamed hay has helped Purdy return to top form -- so much so that he is qualified for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics. “He always travels with steamed hay,” Andrea notes.

In this time of heightened awareness about airborne respiratory risks, Haygain Steamed Hay offers the assurance of greatly reduced respiratory risks for travelling horses.

For more information on Haygain Hay Steamers and Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, visit Article provided by Haygain.

July 2020 - Making Lemonade
Written by by Britta Jacobson
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:39
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Friends, strangers and social media turn two heartbreaks into a happy ending.

by Britta Jacobson

“When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.” You have all heard this slightly sarcastic saying about dealing with things when they do not go your way.

This embodiment of that philosophy began with the joy of two new foals entering the world...a long hoped-for colt out of the 18.1 hand black Clydesdale mare, Nakita, and a filly out of a little 14.1 hand Quarter Horse reining mare named Whiz Ms Dolly.


Within the horse world there are many different disciplines and the boundaries between them are seldom crossed.


The story starts with a double tragedy -- a stillborn foal and the death of mare who had just given birth -- and the willingness of strangers to help each other.

The first phone call regarding the Clydesdale came from the veterinary clinic at 8 p.m. on April 9. “I wanted to let you know that your mare Nakita gave birth to a healthy colt,” was the message for Nakita’s owners Carl and Kirsten Absher. “He is up and has already nursed once. If you want to come see them tonight we will make an exception to the normal visiting hours.” The Abshers lived 40 minutes away in Shingle Springs, California and wasted no time in making the trip to the clinic to meet the new arrival.  

The second call came the next day at 4 a.m. The mare was down with complications, but because she had been under observation, as was the clinic protocol, they caught it immediately. A third and then a fourth call came in to inform the stunned owners that, at 4:19 a.m. April 10, their mare had died.

Not wanting the risks of raising a foal without a mother, the Abshers reached out to their friend Shamarie Tong for help in locating a nurse mare.  


That same morning, 130 miles away in Santa Rosa, my Quarter Horse mare, Whiz Ms Dolly, gave birth to a stillborn filly.

Having bred and raised my own competition horses for many years and having been in the situation of raising an orphaned foal many years ago, I knew that my loss could benefit someone else. While still monitoring the mare with our veterinarian, I immediately posted on Facebook that I had a nurse mare available.

Enter friends, social media and strangers willing to help. Shamarie Tong posted that her friends lost a mare and were hoping to find a nurse mare. Ryan Fowler of Skyline Silversmiths was the first one to connect the two posts. When I was made aware of the orphaned foal, I wasted no time in calling the Abshers.

Kirsten Absher laughs when she recalls that phone call. “Hi, this is Britta Jacobson of Bennett Valley Ranch. My mare just had a still born foal this morning and if you want a nurse mare, I suggest you pack up your foal right now and get down here. We have saved the placenta to help introduce your foal to my mare.”

“It sounded more like a command than anything,” Kirsten continues. “It was just exactly what my husband and I needed to hear at that moment. Several hours later Kiskasen was given the OK to travel.”

I hadn’t thought to ask about the breed of the foal prior to the transport. I was somewhat surprised to find out it was a Clydesdale!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, once the foal arrived at my Bennett Valley Ranch everyone donned masks and gloves. Carl and Kirsten rubbed the colt thoroughly with the placenta I’d saved from my mare’s stillborn foal. Then I draped it over the foal’s back and led in the distraught Whiz Ms Dolly. After a few tense minutes, the mare began to relax. To everyone’s relief, she allowed Kiskasen to nurse.  

By late May, Spindrifts Kiskasen was growing up nicely alongside his adopted mother. You can’t miss this pair: Whiz Ms Dolly is 14.1 hands and her adopted son will be as tall as her soon! My husband and I breed and train Quarter Horses and I am an NRHA Non-Pro reining competitor. The purebred Clydesdale colt stands out among our other horses in size and appearance but is otherwise fitting in just fine.

A significant portion of the approximately 600 Clydesdales born in the United States each year are bay, with the other colors being chestnut, black, or roan. Kiskasen is one of the small percent that will be black once he sheds his baby fuzz.   

So, if you ever see a black Clydesdale pulling the famous Budweiser wagon, remember the little Quarter Horse mare and the generosity and ingenuity of the horse community that enabled him to grow into his big, strong self.

July 2020 - Famous For Farnam
Written by by Cynthia McFarland • photos: ©Shelley Paulson
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:27
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Photogenic Quarter Horse captures 2019 Farnam SuperMask® SuperModel title.

by Cynthia McFarland • photos: ©Shelley Paulson

When Stephenie Bjorkman decided to enter her horse’s photo in Farnam’s 2019 SuperMask® SuperModel contest, she had no idea how much the competition had grown.

“I follow Farnam online and saw the contest; I thought Maxwell would love this. I had a good picture of him and just thought I’d enter. I didn’t realize how competitive it was,” says Stephenie, an Arizona native and small business owner from the Scottsdale area.


“We were very pleased with the participation in the 2019 SuperMask® SuperModel Contest. We more than doubled the number of entries from last year. The word is spreading,” notes Anna Brunetti, Digital Marketing Manager for Farnam. “Over 2,000 horse owners submitted photos from all over the country. The entries included many different breeds, colors, sizes, and ages, each image as unique as the next. It’s great seeing all these horses so loved by their owners.”


Every entry was carefully studied by contest officials and after much deliberation, the top ten entries were identified, and those ten images were then submitted to a diverse panel of judges to determine the winner.

“The SuperMask® SuperModel contest is a great way for Farnam fans to showcase the outstanding care they give their horses all year long. As we all know, it is continuous, quality care that keeps horses happy and healthy for the long haul, and it showed in the caliber of entries we received. Many of the contenders put in valuable time and lots of elbow grease to ‘spit shine’ their horses for this contest,” notes Martha Lefebvre, Senior Marketing Manager for Farnam.

After Stephenie received notification that her horse was chosen as the winner, she was amazed at the abundance of prizes he’d won, an impressive fly control and grooming package worth $1,000 in Farnam products.

“I didn’t realize I was going to get so much,” she says. ‘”I’ve been in horses since I was six years old and have always used Farnam products. When I opened the prize box, I realized I used most of them already. But there were some products I’d never tried before, so that was cool.”

Of course, another big part of the win was that Maxwell would have a professional photo session so his image can be used in upcoming advertisements for Farnam’s ever-popular SuperMask® fly mask.

“I told Maxwell, ‘you’re going to be a model,’ and he is a horse who wants to have his photo taken. He has a look about him,” says Stephenie. “I’ve always loved spending time pampering and grooming him, so this is proof it’s worth it.”

“A well-cared for horse doesn’t happen overnight. We appreciate that it takes hard work, total commitment and a lot of love,” says Martha, adding that plans are in the works for the 2020 contest.

Horse-Centered Life

Stephenie has shared her life with horses ever since she was a young girl. Growing up, she team roped and was very involved in rodeo. Although reining and reined cow horse competition always appealed to her, she just didn’t have the right horse. At least, not until recently.

Four years old at the time, Electric Java, was a rich sorrel Quarter Horse gelding with a striking blaze and a kind eye. He was talented, sound and personable. Although he’d only been shown once or twice at that time, the horse had a big stop and was impressive. It didn’t take more than one ride for Stephenie to fall in love.

Electric Java goes by the barn name of “Maxwell” and the duo has been making their mark in the show world. “When you take him in the show pen, he wants you to be happy with him,” says Stephenie.

Stephenie rides as a non-pro, so their accomplishments have taken time and she gives all the credit to her “consistently amazing” horse. Maxwell has a laid-back personality and nothing seems to faze this handsome gelding. His personality endears him to everyone who meets him. An accomplished competitor, he’s definitely successful, but it’s more than that.
“He’s gentle with dogs, kids, and my minis; I have four miniature horses and he thinks he’s one of them,” laughs Stephenie. “If he could have a job of being groomed and photographed, that would be his job. He loves the attention. He’s a pet, but he’s not annoying, or at least not to me!”  

“It took a long time to find one like him,” she says happily. “I have owned enough horses to know he’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse and a dream come true!”
Article provided by Farnam. To enter this year’s SuperMask SuperModel contest, visit and submit your entry before the July 17, 2020 deadline. Only one entry allowed per person. Contest winner to be notified on or about August 21, 2020.

July 2020 - Fine Forum Addition
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:12
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Craig Stanley named as USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum faculty member.

The United States Dressage Federation™ (USDF) is pleased to announce Craig Stanley as the newest member of the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum Faculty. Craig will be joining the ranks of Willy Arts, Michael Bragdell, and Scott Hassler. This forum aims to bridge the gap between in-hand competition, and the start of a dressage horse’s under-saddle competition career, making instructor expertise in the development and training of young dressage sport horses integral. Each faculty member brings a knowledge of in-hand work, breaking, training, and development to impart on the demo riders and auditor audience members.


Craig is based in the Fresno area’s Madera.


USDF Sport Horse Committee Co-Chairs Kristi Wysocki and Natalie DiBerardinis stated, “We’re very excited to welcome Craig Stanley as a new faculty member for the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum. Like our other faculty, Craig’s experience encompasses the entire sport horse development process, from breeding to training into the FEI levels. We’ve really enjoyed watching him develop Caliente DG from the Young Horse Championships to Grand Prix, and now we see him bringing along her offspring, including Habanero CWS with whom he won both the USEF Four-Year Old & Six-Year Old National Championships. As a guest presenter during our 2020 Sport Horse Prospect Forum, Craig’s sympathetic approach to the horses resonated strongly with the riders and spectators.”

Upon being notified of his inclusion as a faculty member, Craig responded, “I am pleased and humbled to accept USDF’s offer to serve as a full member of the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum faculty and look forward to working with USDF and the other faculty members for future events!”

Press release provided by USDF. For more information about the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum, contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call 859-971-2277.

July 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 03:59
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ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

After months of being at home, I am considering showing again, but I feel pretty stressed out and overwhelmed just thinking about it. In addition to feeling out of practice, I know I won’t be going into a situation that feels at all like normal. Frankly, I’m not sure I should be showing with all that is going on in the world. Not only the health crisis, but also the civil unrest, leaves me uncertain and also makes showing seem rather unimportant.

As you can see, I feel very confused! Any advice is welcome!

M.D., Adult Amateur, San Diego

Dear M,

Thanks for reaching out. You are not alone in your feelings. We are in the middle of a very confusing, overwhelming, and frightening time. I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I will do my best to address some of your concerns.

First, I want to acknowledge your feelings and affirm that there is no right or wrong way to go about reentering the show world. I believe we all have to make decisions that feel right for us, our horses, and our lives. Some riders I work with feel really eager and ready to jump back in; others feel they want to sit out the year. For each of us it’s important to assess: do we feel safe enough to go back to the show ring? In terms of safety, I’m referring not only to COVID-19, but also to the civil unrest. If you feel unsafe, then I’d say you should seriously consider not competing yet. Unless you can feel comfortable, you won’t be able to be fully present for your horse.

My sense is that if you are uncertain, it might be worth your while to sit out the very first horse shows and instead, see how they go for others. Perhaps you’ll have the ability to accompany someone else or at least hear about your barnmates’ experiences and learn what the new procedures are. In addition, it’s my guess that as the shows go on, we’ll all get more practiced at our new routines, and things will go more smoothly.  

In terms of feeling out of practice, you are in the same boat with the rest of us! We all have to accept that it’s basically a re-start to a very odd and shortened season. I would suggest that if you decide to move forward, focus on the first show as practice rather than as a final exam. Set reasonable goals for the first few days, remembering what those first shows are like in January after your winter break. This advice will be harder to take for those who have to jump right back into Junior Hunter Finals or similar big events, but I still suggest to take a compassionate approach: give it your best and have gratitude for the ability to get back in the ring.

Regarding your comment that showing feels unimportant right now: ask yourself why. Is it because you feel guilty about what you have relative to others? Is it harder to enjoy your life when there is so much inequity in the world? Are you called to spend more time and energy focusing on other aspects of your life or your community? Allow yourself some space to think about your priorities, what has meaning for you in your life, and what you want to change. Rather than feeling stuck or paralyzed, use your feeling as motivation to create an action plan. There are many ways to generate positive change, and maybe this is the time for you to jump in and make more of an impact.

Last, but definitely not least: let’s fully acknowledge the collective stress we are under right now. The world has completely changed in so many ways since a few months ago. We will adapt, we will figure out how to move forward, but we all know we’re not going back to the old ways. It’s going to take some time, compassion, and resilience, but as competitive equestrians, we’ve all got it in us to do the necessary mental and emotional work.

Darby Bonomi, PhD is a Sport and Performance Psychologist based in San Francisco. She works with equestrians in all disciplines, as well as other athletes, to achieve optimal performance in and out of the competition. She can be reached at

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

July 2020 - The Gallop: Be The Change
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 06:18
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Amidst much talk, actions speak loudly in the effort to bring inclusion and diversity to equestrian sports. 

by Kim F. Miller

“Be the change we seek in the world.”

This paraphrase of Mahatma Gandhi’s words is an emerging response from the equestrian world to racial injustices brought brutally to new light by George Floyd’s death on May 25. As protests denouncing excessive police force and promoting Black Lives Matter continued into June, equestrians stated their cases on social media and in person in demonstrations throughout the state.

Current events also prompt a look at actions underway for many years and those poised to bring exposure, diversity, inclusion and opportunity to equestrian sports going forward. They’re not enough on their own, but they illustrate the impact of horse people deciding to be the change they seek.

Horse Power

The night before Bay Area horsewoman Brianna Noble vaulted to national fame, she saw the video of Floyd’s death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. It was the “exact same thing” that happened to Oscar Grant in 2009, she explained, referencing the first incident that prompted her to public activism.

Brianna Noble and Dapper Dan at the Oakland rally. Photo: Beth LaBerge ( Brianna challenges all to post a picture of themselves on a horse, with raised fist, and post with the hashtags: #blacklivesmatter and #humblehorsemanship

The next day, Friday May 29, Brianna hauled her horse Dapper Dan to downtown Oakland and joined a demonstration. The sight of the beautiful, black 25-year-old and the 17.1-hand horse whose haunch bore a cardboard “Black Lives Matter” sign had an immediate impact. Images and interviews spun around the globe.

Showing up on horseback was intended to “give the media something positive,” she told the New York Times. “A good bright positive image to focus on, as opposed to some of the destruction.”

Early in the ensuing explosion of media interest, Brianna recognized the chance to “be the change I want to see in my community.” She began channeling the attention toward the Humble Project, her long-held dream of a program giving disadvantaged kids exposure to and opportunities with horses.

“Horses can be life changing, but usually only for the rich,” she states. “I’m one woman on one horse and I made a difference. I want to use that to create a positive future for kids who are going to change the world -- for the next generation.”

Turning “problem” horses around to sell was Brianna’s initial method of supporting herself as an adult in the horse industry. More recently, she has focused on beginning lessons, trail horses and training as Mulatto Meadows in the Oakland area’s Briones. In early June, she launched The Humble Project and, as of June 31, had raised $44,000 toward a hoped-for $100,000. “Exposing underprivileged and marginalized communities to the horse world” is its mission.

Members of the Compton Cowboys taking part in the June 7 Compton Peace Ride. Photo: Lindsey Long

The Skin We’re In

Providing a safe and supportive environment is a big priority.  While costs keep many out of the sport, Brianna notes that “the color of the skin is a huge driving force in that as well.” Having now worked and, earlier, taken occasional lessons, at several stables in the East Bay area, she says, “I’ve probably never had one barn in my life where my skin wasn’t a topic or something that caused something bad to happen.”

Experiences range from being stared at to “people complaining and not wanting you around.” Having a person ask “Why the palms of my hand are light?” and “reach out and try to pet me” are manifestations of the deep-rooted racism she’s encountered. The insensitivity of the recent touching incident is extra offensive in this time of COVID-19 social distancing.

Accomplished young FEI dressage competitor Genay Vaughn says she hasn’t personally experienced overt racism. Yet, “I have witnessed looks of surprise when others come to find that I am a rider and not a groom at competitions.

“As a person of color, when you walk into the room, even if you walk in wearing the uniform that communicates that you’re there to compete, people will see you differently,” she continues. “This is even more so if you’re black and you’re really good, because you are defying expectations of what black people can do.” (For a fuller perspective from Genay, read her article in this issue.)

Grand Prix jumping rider Mavis Spencer in the Compton Peace Ride. Photo: Lindsey Long

“Even talking about this issue,” can be a problem for an African American trying to make it in the horse world, Brianna says. “It’s hard enough to make it as a trainer, then you lose people (clients) because everyone does not have the same belief as you do.”

Building a sense of community is a Humble Project priority. “We don’t have a support system and I want to create that for young riders coming up in the sport.”

She hopes to broaden that within the larger equestrian community. She hopes that the many professionals who’ve offered support will do things like bring their students for shared lessons or to help Humble’s entry-level equestrians. “I think we will have better horsemen if we can learn something and teach something.”

Her native East Bay Area is in need of The Humble Project, says Brianna. She cites the Compton Jr. Posse and Detroit Horse Power as good examples of how valuable inner-city youth equestrian programs can be in building healthy futures for kids of color and from tough circumstances.

Victoria Faerber and gold medal show jumper Will Simpson coaching Riders United students.

The Compton Jr. Posse

The Compton Jr. Posse was founded by Mayisha Akbar in 1988 to “keep kids on horses and off the streets.” Along with instruction on caring for and riding horses at the Posse’s Richland Farms base in Compton, Mayisha built friendships throughout the horse show industry. These connections helped create the exposure and opportunity that are considered critical to increasing diversity and inclusion in equestrian sports.

(Editor’s Note: When Mayisha retired at the end of 2018, the Posse was renamed Compton Junior Equestrian. It is affiliated with the Compton Cowboys, which includes many riders who started with the Posse. The Compton Cowboys were prominent in the June 7 Compton Peace Ride and social activism is part of their mission. When the Jr. Posse disbanded, its longtime riding director Victoria Faerber launched the non-profit Riders United to continue working with show-ready Posse students from her training bases in Calabasas.)

Olympic gold medal show jumper Will Simpson was a Jr. Posse clinician and resident BBQ master at fundraisers for years. Dale Harvey’s West Palms Events regularly provided show scholarships -- covering entry fees, stalls and lunches -- to the Posse’s show-ready riders and transported kids to the Del Mar International to watch the Grand Prix.

Dale eschews accolades. Instead, “It’s a good time to point out that there are people who give a sh@# about this issue” and to recognize the “difference between talking and doing. And, even between writing a check and doing. There are people really contributing and affecting change in a hands-on way.”

For the most part, the main goal of the Compton Jr. Posse, Horses In The Hood and similar programs is using horses to show students the wider world and its opportunities, to teach responsibility and to build confidence. Going onto an adulthood with horses is less important than going onto a healthy, purposeful life.

Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner is a Compton Jr. Posse graduate who is building a life with horses. At 12, his grandfather got him riding with the Jr. Posse. He now runs his own small hunter/jumper training program based at Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula and works with Victoria Faerber in Riders United.

Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner competing at a Nilforushan Equisports Event show.

Intentional Naiveté?

Of current events as they apply to the horse world, Nathan says, “I do believe in inclusion and that all lives matter, including black lives, and I keep a very peaceful approach to it.” He acknowledges possibly “intentional naiveté” about prejudice in his profession. “I try not to let anything blind me or make me feel like I can’t do something,” he explains. He acknowledges a sense of “having to mind my Ps & Qs” more than others in his behaviors and action, real and perceived.

Now aged out of the West Palms Events show scholarships that helped him get to this level, Nathan aspires to having a sizeable training program and to jump in the Olympics. “I’ve been blessed to work with some great people,” he notes of coaches that currently include Grand Prix jumper Susie Hutchison.  

He also hopes to help riders with backgrounds similar to his own by working with Victoria Faerber and Riders United at its Temecula branch.

Victoria has broad ambitions for Riders United. Having grown up in the Thoroughbred racing industry, she foresees partnering retired racers with inner city kids as they become more advanced equestrians. She wants to include education, arts and performance to broaden Riders United’s benefits and reach. “My dream would be to have a performance art team that tells a story, like they do in Cavalia. Some kids would ride. Some would do music, others the art.”

Horses will always be the core. “Being involved with horses does amazing things. Even if they don’t compete, riders are empowered and they learn to love and be responsible.” Many of the horses are donated, often because they have some flaw. “So, they also really bond with the horses in ways that give these horses a sense of purpose.”

She’s grateful for the ongoing competition opportunities provided by West Palms Events and Nilforushan Equisport Events and reports future possibilities with the Langer Equestrian Group shows.

“Every show is like a year of riding lessons,” Victoria explains. “They get to perform, to overcome fears and to support each other. They can learn so much. I like our kids doing the A shows. They see the strict rules and a higher bar to reach for. They see that they have to ride correctly and do things right.”

Compton Jr. Posse rider Zoie Brogdon competing at the Del Mar International. Photo: JXB Photography.

Calls To Action

“We’ve got to stop all this snooty stuff,” asserts The Humble Project’s Brianna Noble when asked what equestrians of all colors can do to increase diversity and a sense of inclusion. It starts with ensuring that barns and shows are welcoming places, where saying “hello” to a stranger is a regular occurrence rather than a suspicious rarity.

Look out for a person “who is looking for an opportunity to work and make something of themselves,” she stresses. “Somebody has to see us. Maybe give a chance to the brown kid whose family can’t afford the lessons.” Unpaid working student positions that help some riders advance aren’t options for a self-supporting rider, she notes.

She’s grateful to Marlene Fultz of A Star-Lit Farms in San Joaquin County’s Ripon for giving her both an opportunity and a reality check. “I was 19 and working as a vet tech when she took me over to her barn and let me ride some horses. She saw how hard I worked and she sat me down and said, ‘Look, I know you have Olympic goals, but you have to come from money to do that.’”

Marlene encouraged a more realistic profession with horses, Brianna says. Retraining “project horses” to be good partners for trail or beginning riders seemed like a crazy idea, she admits. Yet, proceeds from doing that enabled her to make a living as an equestrian -- and to buy her first horse trailer. Brianna liked the emphasis on horsemanship and training, expertise that can help her fill what she sees as a void in many show-focused training programs. Dapper Dan, the horse on whom she rose to fist-raised fame in Oakland, is one of those project horses.

Photo: Lindsey Long

Photo: Lindsey Long

Reactions, Discussions, Opportunities

Show organizer Dale Harvey “observed a range of reactions” to his team’s efforts to bring Compton Jr. Posse riders into the show scene. “A lot of it is positive and there have been many touching, funny moments. And some comments that were not so nice. Like ‘Where would this go for any of these kids?’ I was blown away that somebody would say that. It was discouraging. But a lot of people in our community made a point of befriending these kids and making them feel welcome.”

FEI dressage rider and para dressage coach Shayna Simon says that her mulatto and Jewish heritage “has not been a huge issue for me” in the international dressage world. “I’ve been treated very fairly.” Yet she understands how it could be an uncomfortable arena to enter for all whose skin color sets them instantly apart from the sport’s predominately white participants.  “If somebody of color says it doesn’t bother them being in an all-white world, they’re lying.”

Shayna says the best outcome of current events is more frank conversations. “I think it’s giving black people the option to speak freely about what they are uncomfortable with and that it will free up their soul to get it off their chest.” Equally, the attention is “really good because a lot of people think (racism) doesn’t occur because they are not directly involved in it. Because of what is happening, it gives people the opportunity to ask, ‘How can I support you? What can I do?’”

Such conversations are a “necessary first step to taking action,” says fellow African American FEI dressage rider Genay Vaughn. “Equestrian sports should welcome conversations like these because we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the sports world as a community that embraces diversity and provides opportunity to experience all that equine culture has to offer.”

The larger world offers ample examples of the benefits of embracing diversity and inclusion. “Our most profitable corporations and universities have recognized the value in enacting institutional change,” she notes. At the 2019 Sports Business Journal Conference, the benefits of diversity were promoted by executives in mainstream sports ranging from baseball to wrestling.

Dale Harvey says providing show scholarships and bringing Jr. Posse kids in to see the show isn’t good for his business’ bottom line. “Obviously, there’s not a financial return on that. But it’s not about the business. It’s about humanity. It’s about doing the right thing.”
The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

July 2020 - Taking A Stance on Diversity
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 06:06
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Equestrian federation states its position on diversity and inclusion and shares resources.

US Equestrian issued a letter stating its solidarity with and support of the “black members of our community.” Signed by CEO Bill Moroney, the June 9 e-mail also outlined action plans for the sport governing body. These include:


1. Educating ourselves is the first step. Going forward, every employee will be required to take Diversity and Inclusion training, as well as Unconscious Bias training, each year.


As we work to schedule these trainings, there are many resources immediately available to our entire equestrian community. We are asking our employees and encouraging our members to take some time and utilize the resources below to educate themselves on the history and importance of these issues.

Resources include:
• The Inclusion Playbook
• The Inclusion Playbook is a Sports Impact project led by a civil rights advocate and former Division 1 athlete with the goal of empowering social change agents to transform communities in and through sports.
• The Inclusion Playbook is hosting a series of free webinars this summer, beginning this week on June 11 at 2pm ET with “Olympic Impact: Emerging Issues in Sports Diversity & Inclusion.” We encourage all staff to attend. They are free: .

2. Board approval and implementation of a US Equestrian Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement and Action Plan. Over the past several months, Ashley Swift, a dedicated member of our Communications Department, has been leading this work and her recommendations will be presented to the Board of Directors at the Mid-Year Meeting. There will be opportunities for members and staff of US Equestrian to engage with and contribute to this program.

3. Increased communication to members on US Equestrian’s commitment to do its part to fight against racism. This includes providing members with educational resources – including training on Diversity and Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias – and ways to work to end racism. We know we cannot do this alone, but we can – and will – do our part.

The letter reminded fan and competing USEF members they have access 24/7 to a mental health first aid hotline at 1-800-633-3353.

For more resources provided by the USEF, visit

July 2020 - Fitness & Nutrition Routines
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:57
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Two riders explain how they made the most of the COVID-19 induced three-month show suspension.

by Kim F. Miller

Show jumper Simon McCarthy and eventer Shannon Lilley appreciated extra time for training fundamentals. They’re also ready to see how it will pay off as many competitions get back underway this month.   

Simon McCarthy & Eames M Z


Young Irish show jumper Simon McCarthy and Eames M Z knew their mission: to make a splash on the West Coast circuit on behalf of Oakland Stables’ new location in California. The high-performance competition, training and sales program is owned by international show jumpers, Darragh Kenny of Ireland and American Hardin Towell. Its new base at the Buckingham family’s Q of E Stables in the Moorpark area’s Santa Rosa Valley adds to locations in Florida and Holland.

Eames was purchased in Europe last fall. He and Simon started their partnership with one Grand Prix class in Spain before coming to America. The Christmas holidays gave them time to refine things before debuting at the Desert International Horse Park early this year.  Eames’ flashy good looks, including a striking diamond within his white blaze, drew attention even before they set foot in a $15,000 1.4M Grand Prix the first week of the circuit. Finishing fifth was the beginning of a mission accomplished.

Simon McCarthy & Eames.

Eames M Z

Simon was not immediately impressed with the 11-year-old KWPN by Van Gogh. “He didn’t really know how to jump a 2’ vertical or cavaletti,” Simon says of the horse he now considers a World Cup prospect. “I jumped four or five fences and I hated him!” That changed to “I could not walk away without buying him once the fence heights rose.

“Jumping a Grand Prix fence is just easier for him,” Simon continues. “He has a massive heart, he’s very intelligent and he loves his job.”

Combined with natural fitness and lots of blood, those qualities make relaxation a priority in Simon’s fitness plans for Eames. The COVID-19 quarantine provided ample time for Simon’s preferred training pace: slow. “It lets me stretch out his learning. My theory is that you teach them something one day and they learn it the next, rather than expecting them to know everything I’m asking right away.” That requires relaxation.

“Small fences on a circle and a figure-eight, getting Eames to land on whatever lead I wanted, and to work in a nice frame and in a soft bit,” were the priorities. Getting him to really listen to the rider is the training goal, while the small cross-rails and verticals on a turn help build hindquarter strength and push without too much wear and tear. Working on a circle prevents the horse from stiffening through the body and encourages using their back and hindquarters, Simon explains.

An advanced version of this exercise places four small fences on a clockface at 12, 3, 6, and 9. Simon typically sets the distance between the centers of each jump at a normal five-stride, then varies that up and down to fine-tune Eames’ position between his land and leg aids.

The relaxation quest is aided by Q of E’s turn-out paddocks and easily accessed trails weaving through the nearby hills. A few hours daily turn-out enables this sensitive horse to “let his mind switch off” and the trails suit his brave nature. “He loves it, going forward with his ears pricked and handling the ups and downs of ditches and drains.”

Nutrition-wise, Eames is an easy keeper. Equine Omega Complete’s beneficial fatty acids boost overall health and add dazzle the handsome bay’s coat. “I’ve really noticed a difference in his coat since we bought him: he has a massive shine and kind of a glitter in his eye.”


A yoga practice begun early this year has been “fantastic,” Simon asserts. “Even though I’m a young guy, these early mornings and riding a lot of horses does tire your muscles.” Yoga’s impact on his mindset has been even more striking. “The breathing is a fantastic help to my nerves and anxiety before going into the ring, and what I do passes onto my horse.”

Otherwise, “There’s really no substitute for riding and jumping as much as you can.” As a professional rider and coach, Simon does that daily on Oakland West’s horses and on his clients’.  “I typically ride our clients’ horses once or twice a week. I love teaching almost as much as riding. It’s nice for students to see what I do with their horses and for me to feel what they do.”

Nutrition wise, Simon admits to swinging between being “fantastically healthy and going for burgers and pizza.” Having turned 25 in mid-June, he says, “I know I’ll have to go less for the pizzas as I get older!”

Shannon Lilley & Ideal HX. Photo: Kim F. Miller

Shannon Lilley and Ideal HX

Shannon Lilley walks her talk.

“As riders it’s our responsibility to be fit,” says the professional eventer and coach whose Team Lilley Eventing is located in Santa Cruz. Course “walks” are usually “course runs” for Shannon on cross-country day at competitions. In between shows, she supplements regular saddle time with Peloton workouts, running, weight training and a little kickboxing.

“The course runs are part of my game plan, of getting into my zone,” she explains. The rest of her fitness agenda is designed to prevent repetitive wear and tear and to keep things fresh and fun.  The gym she created in her garage has had more use than usual through the COVID show closures and having more time for work-outs is an upside. Even if the couch is calling after a long day at the stable during normal times, the positive physical and mental effects get Shannon into the gym. “I’m always so happy when I do it and it puts me in a better frame of mind.”

Body awareness and control are the emphasis on Shannon’s fitness routines, for herself and those she suggests to her students when asked for advice. “When you’re riding, you need to be able to activate certain muscles, and fitness training teaches you how to do that. When I’m saying ‘Do this or do that,’ the student needs to understand what is going on in their body and what needs to happen.”

Although her resume includes a Pan Am Team gold medal, Shannon says “Riding never came naturally to me. So, I want to give myself every opportunity to be better. The stronger, the more flexible, the more coordinated I can be -- that can only make me better.”

Fitness is part of Shannon’s annual goals review with clients. As with riding instructions, she wants students to understand the whys behind the requests. If a rider says, “I do abs,” she elaborates on the larger picture of core muscles, their function and interaction.

Size is never the priority. “It’s not just about being able to flex really strong muscles. It’s about being able to release them, too.” Poor posture and tight arms are among the position weaknesses that can be addressed through specific exercises and Shannon enjoys sharing ideas and encouragement. Clients are invited to work out with her and the effort always circles back to horsemanship. “If someone is struggling halfway through a cross-country course, that’s not fair to the horse.”

Strict adherence to a paleo diet enables Shannon to effectively manage severe allergies. She started it five years ago and says, “It changed my life!” Lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are the paleo plan: no wheat or dairy.  When friends say they’re sorry she can’t enjoy other foods, “I say ‘I’m not!’ I feel great and my energy levels are good.”

Shannon brings her own food to competitions and reports happily that more events have workable food options when desired. Acknowledging that everybody is different, Shannon doesn’t push her own nutrition system on others. She’s happy to offer advice when asked.
Ideal HX

The pandemic has provided extra time to work on Ideal HX’s training fundamentals while maintaining a relatively light workload. Her partnership with the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood began last October, with a Preliminary win at Woodside.

Fingers crossed, they’ll be competing at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles this month, so he is ramping up to resume competition.  Building aerobic capacity with up to 40-minute trot sessions up and down the hills at Bonny Doon Equestrian Park have been his main work recently. Gallops sets were planned to begin as soon as summer shows are a sure thing.

He has added healthy weight since he arrived last fall. Like Shannon’s other horses, he’s added a few pounds to that -- “in full figure” -- due to the relatively light work-outs these last few months. His diet is mostly meadow grass hay, one flake of alfalfa and twice daily grain. Like most of the horses in her program, he gets Manna Pro’s Renew Gold. This is a low starch formula of high fat stabilized rice bran, CoolStance coconut meal and flax.

July 2020 - Senior Spotlight: Adele Bonomi
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:50
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Sweet and smart, fierce and fast are among the apt adjectives for Bay Area hunter/jumper rider.

by Kim F. Miller

Life at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is going to be a little different for Adele Bonomi. The San Francisco resident starts her freshman year at the prestigious school in August and is excited, even though she expects it to be four years without a major constant in her life: horses.


“Horses have always been the consistent thing throughout my life,” reflects Adele, a student of Sonoma Valley Stables in Northern California’s Petaluma. “The barn has always been a place where you can go and all your worries melt away. It’s so nice because we all live in such a fast-paced environment.”


Now 18 and competing as an amateur, Adele had high school years that were faster-paced than many.  In addition to A circuit equestrian competition, she was a star track and cross-country runner for her all-girls high school, Convent Sacred Heart.  Juggling Notre Dame-level academics, two time-consuming sports and regular thought-provoking articles for the school newspaper required fast-twitch mental skills, stamina and follow-through.

Being a genuinely nice person was not a requirement, yet that may be Adele’s most distinct trait, notes Skyler Allen. Skyler, 17, joined Sonoma Valley Stables last December and remembers Adele from well before that.

“Even when I barely knew her, she was super sweet to me,” she recalls of being about 12 and at a different barn. “I was quite shy and Adele would always invite me to sit with her group.” In group lessons and at shows, Adele offers compliments and congratulations that reflect an understanding of their goals. “She really cares about everybody at the barn.”

Adele Bonomi and Charley.

Also, “Fierce!”

Adele started riding at 8 and has been with Sonoma Valley Stables since 2015. Horses may be in her blood, thanks to her mother, the lifelong rider and performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD. Younger sister Clara is also an accomplished equestrian. Along with sharing and swapping horses over the years, Adele switched her emphasis between hunters, jumpers and equitation over that time.

Hands-on horsemanship is a constant regardless which division she’s focused on. Participating in the USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program reflects Adele’s genuine interest in the full scope of horsemanship, notes Skyler. Her knowledge of horses and willingness to share it with barnmates, along with her “beautiful riding,” make her a positive role model, Skyler adds.

Sweet. Great role model. Beautiful rider. Also, “fierce” says trainer Ned Glynn. “She is sweet and gentle with her horses and very athletic and competitive. She is a fierce competitor.

“She does her own grooming and her horses are always turned out immaculately. Above all, she always puts her horse’s welfare first and, as a rider and horsewoman, makes correct decisions based on that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her get upset with any of her horses and she always takes responsibility for how they are doing.”  

Adele recalls becoming especially passionate about horsemanship, and the thrills of the jumper division, while grooming for professional Amanda Flint at the Colorado Horse Park a few years ago. “I had just done the 3’3” Junior Hunter Finals and the Colorado show was very jumper focused. I thought it was incredible. I had a chance to hack some jumpers around and to watch all the classes and I got very interested.”

A small, fiesty jumper named Charley VDL, imported by Amanda, intensified Adele’s interest. Winning the 1.2M Classic at the Giant Steps Charity Horse Show in 2018 highlights a partnership through which she built up considerable confidence. “He was not a big horse, but he was super speedy and could make all the inside turns. He gave me a lot of confidence.”

Equitation was the main focus of Adele’s final junior year in 2019 and into 2020. That culminated in her Circuit Championship in the 18-35 Equitation division, for the second half of the Desert Circuit in Thermal. She excelled in the Hunter ring, too, finishing 7th in the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals aboard Little Wing.

Patience is a gift of all the horses she’s ridden, Adele reflects. “Horses can get hurt. Not every horse is right for you. Then when you do have the right horse, everything just clicks for you.”

Adele Bonomi.

Benefits of a Busy Life

Juggling riding with other priorities honed time and life management skills. “I think it set me up well because I learned to organize and schedule my time really well and to ask for help when I needed it. With limited time, I was forced to be really productive.”

Physically, running for the school team enabled her to maximize saddle time, typically three days a week when not competing. Leg and core strength translated to feeling secure and balanced in the saddle, especially as the fence heights rose in the jumper division. “If I hadn’t been running, I think I might have struggled more with that.”

As with everyone, nothing could prepare Adele for the radically different life caused by COVID-19. Track tournaments, International Baccalaureate exams and the spring show season were abruptly over. Hours of preparation with no place to test or express their results and milestone moments erased in favor of the unfamiliar reality of free time.

“It was really frustrating,” Adele admits. “The first thing that got cancelled was track. I was upset because I really wanted to end on a strong note. Then the IB exams got cancelled after two years of taking courses to prepare for them.”

Nothing compared, however, to the frustration of not being able to ride for two months. “That is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without riding, and it was really hard to be stuck in our house the whole time.”

But rather than focus on what’s been lost, Adele has a keen appreciation of all the opportunities behind and ahead of her. She’s grateful that Notre Dame plans to welcome students for on-campus classes, versus many schools where freshman will begin their college experience remotely.

As for opting out of horses during college, Adele says, “I want to take a little break from riding. It’s been such a privilege these last four years, along with my school activities, friends and running.” She looks forward to delving into the environment, architecture and business as possible career tracks and taking in the full college experience.

Taking a break from the sport is made easier by the likelihood that horses will always be part of her adult life. Plus, “I can steal Little Wing from my mom whenever I’m home!”

July 2020 - Senior Spotlight: Rebecca Refaee
Written by by Nan Meek
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:43
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From dressage lessons to scholarship winner.

by Nan Meek

When Rebecca Refaee began dressage lessons, she was on crutches. Complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic nervous system disorder that caused her intense knee pain, had prevented her from walking for more than two years. Those dressage lessons ignited a passion for horses that led in an unexpected direction.


Now, just five years after those first dressage lessons, Rebecca is the recipient of the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award, jointly sponsored by the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) and the Mounted Patrol Foundation (MPF) to encourage high school seniors with a strong commitment to equestrian involvement, academic excellence, and contribution to their community.


This fall, Rebecca will begin studying for her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, where she expects to major in physics and ultimately, become a scientific researcher. She will continue her riding through Stanford Equestrian, where she also has big goals and high hopes. Her track record of overcoming obstacles on her path to achievement says she will succeed.

From Hippotherapy to Team Rider

“A physical therapist recommended hippotherapy as a last-ditch effort to decrease my pain,” Rebecca explained. “After countless doctors’ visits and physical therapy sessions without relief, I was willing to try anything. That was the best decision I ever made.”

A sweet grey Arabian took the novice rider from a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale, to increasing levels of comfort and freedom. “Riding helped to distract me from the pain. Better yet, hippotherapy treated my previously chronic condition. The angles of the saddle aligned my joints in such a way that helped to minimize the stress on my knees. In addition, riding a horse at the walk stopped the vicious pain feedback loop by forcing my nerves to focus on responding to the motion of the horse rather than the pain.”

Five months after beginning dressage lessons, Rebecca had improved enough to try out for Stanford’s Athletic Equestrian League, a Stanford program for fourth- through twelfth-grade students, ages 8 to 18. Now known as the Emerging IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) team, it uses the same horses as Stanford’s collegiate team. She has qualified and competed at IEA regionals for two years, with accolades including Reserve High Point Award in her division, among others.

“I’ve made a lot of great friends through riding,” she related. “It’s great to get to talk with college students, younger kids, medical students – it’s a very welcoming community, and I feel so honored to be surrounded by so many great horse people.” She counts lessons from IEA coach Katie Steiner and Stanford assistant coach Tina Davey as highlights, and looks forward to working with Stanford head coach Vanessa Bartsch.

Rebecca is currently a novice rider for Stanford Red Barn’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team and has lettered in dressage through the United States Equestrian Federation’s High School Equestrian Athlete Program. She has volunteered at Stanford horse shows and team tryouts, and next year she hopes to ride on both their Intercollegiate Horse Show Association hunt seat team and Intercollegiate Dressage Association dressage team.

“Every day, I am amazed that I have gone from not even being able to walk, to competing as a full-fledged equestrian,” Rebecca remarked.

Rebecca has competed in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s regional finals for two years.

Focus on Academic Excellence

Rebecca recalled schoolwork as an escape from pain during middle school, but as dressage lessons and her participation in Stanford’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association improved her health and mobility, she found a different reason to love academics during her years at Homestead High School in Cupertino. “I really liked math and science, and that’s when I discovered my passion for physics,” she remembered.

A straight-A student, including advanced placement as well as college courses, Rebecca’s academic involvement included serving her high school as Vice President of the Animal Welfare Club and President of the Spanish Club, and achieving her black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Her academic awards include being named a National Merit Scholar and AP Scholar with Honor, and she has been inducted into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society, where she presented her research paper. She also received the Youth Mentorship Award at Jasper Ridge Farm.

At Stanford this fall, she will study physics and conduct research to prepare for a physics PhD program and ultimately, her dream career: scientific researcher.

Summer internships have given her practical experience as well as inspiration for her future. As a physics research intern at UC Santa Cruz, Rebecca discovered two previously unknown types of nanomagnetic lattices, which could eventually lead to the use of magnets instead of electronics in computers. As an astronautics research assistant at Stanford University, she worked to find materials that protect spacecraft from the damaging effects of hypervelocity impact plasma.

To help interest and educate other girls in STEM, Rebecca developed an app that is available in the Apple App Store, called “Anatomy Whiz”. Several schools now use her app in their coursework, and use of the app has (so far) spread to 40 countries and been translated into Spanish.

Rebecca volunteers at Jasper Ridge Farm, where she is assistant animal socializer and youth volunteer.

Volunteering with Horses Helping People

“I love volunteering at Jasper Ridge Farm,” Rebecca said. She became an assistant animal socializer and youth volunteer, helping children facing emotional and physical challenges through therapeutic interaction with animals. “Meeting new families, hearing their stories and experiences, there’s something to be learned from all of them. Seeing how brave they are makes me remember my own story and reminds me how far I’ve been able to come.”

Rebecca has also volunteered at Sunday Friends, where she helped low-income families learn English, and served as a counselor at Camp Cardinal, Stanford’s youth horse riding camp.

“I have had so many meaningful experiences with horses,” she recalled, ticking them off one by one. “Goal setting, learning from my coaches’ critiques where you learn to fix one thing, and then fix another. Learning the dedication and discipline necessary for good communication with your horse, and how to be in tune with him, especially in dressage. How to be observant, because horses are so aware of their surroundings, and to be empathetic and compassionate to horses – they are life lessons, as well as riding lessons.”

July 2020 - High Quality Hay Cubes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:24
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Six generations of California farming family leads to trusted hay supply for horses.

Here at Harlan Feed we take pride in producing, manufacturing, and supplying our customers with a consistent product from a trustworthy source. Providing a high-quality agricultural product is not only the focus of our business, it is our heritage that stems from the creation of our family farm.


Since 1852, The Harlan family has been farming in Yolo County. In 2005 we expanded our operation to meet consumer demand for a year-round, high quality hay product. As we have become more vested in the hay market, developing methods of directly marketing our hay products has become a natural complement to our business, which spurred the creation of Harlan Feed.


Harlan Feed is a premium hay cube feed supplier. Being the producers of the hay that we process has many advantages. We can directly control not only the field quality, but also the quality of product going into the mill. All hay is tested from the field for quality and adequate warehouse storage has been added to supply our customers with product year-round. As our business has seen steady successful growth, we again have expanded our production lines to enable us to meet customers’ needs, as well as to add new blended types of hay cubes.

We understand that our customers have many choices when selecting a feed source. We invite you to take a moment to review our operation and our products. On behalf of the Harlan Family, we thank you for allowing us to introduce ourselves. We look forward to working with you in the future.     

Please visit our website at Press release provided by Harlan Feed.

July 2020 - Signs of a Healthy Horse
Written by by Tom Lenz, DVM, M.S., DACT
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:35
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Ten daily minutes assessing your horse is time well spent.

by Tom Lenz, DVM, M.S., DACT

I tell veterinary students that to recognize a sick or lame horse, they need to look at a lot of healthy, sound horses. Horses vary, but there are signs of general good health that apply to all.

Attitude - Healthy horses are bright and alert, and interested in other horses, you and their surroundings. They will roll occasionally, especially after being turned out, but always shake the dust off after rolling. A horse that rolls over and over and often looks at its side might be experiencing signs of colic. Contact your veterinarian.

Appetite - The No.1 sign of an infectious disease like influenza or West Nile virus is the horse has a decreased appetite or refuses to eat. In some cases, teeth problems may prevent eating, so to differentiate, take the horse’s rectal temperature. An adult horse at rest should have a body temperature of 99 - 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that level can indicate an active infection. The normal temperature range for a foal is 99.5 - 102.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eyes and noses - Your horse’s eyes should be clear, fully open and clean, not cloudy or discolored. Any indications of an unusual discharge or a dull glazed appearance should be looked into by your veterinarian. The nostrils should be clean and free of excessive mucus. However, it is normal for a horse to have a trickle of clear liquid from the nostrils.

Weight and body condition - You should ensure that your horses maintain optimum body condition and not let them get too fat or too thin, as each presents health risks. Use the Henneke Body Condition nine-level scoring system to evaluate your horse’s body condition. A body condition score of 4-5 is ideal.

Hair coat - A shiny, glowing coat is a sign of good health that comes from meeting the horse’s nutritional requirements and frequent grooming. A dull coat can be a sign of poor nutrition, parasites or general poor health.

Vital signs - It’s important that you know your horse’s vital signs, as they are early indications of a problem. If the horse is excited or it’s a hot/humid day, heart and respiration rates can be slightly elevated:
•    Heart rate: 28-44 beats per minute depending on the horse›s size.
•    Respiration: 10-24 breaths per minute.
•    Mucous membranes: The horse›s gums should be moist and a healthy pink.
•    Capillary refill time: If you press your finger firmly against the horse›s gums, the point of pressure should return to a pink color within one to two seconds.
•    Intestinal sounds: Gurgling, gas-like growls, tinkling sounds and occasional roars are normal. No intestinal sounds or decreased intestinal sounds can be a sign of colic.

Manure and urine - A healthy horse will pass manure eight to 12 times a day. Urine should be wheat-colored and either clear or slightly cloudy.

Hydration - The average horse drinks between five and 10 gallons of water a day, depending on exercise level and weather conditions.

Legs and feet - The horse should stand squarely with its weight evenly distributed over all four feet. Slightly raising and taking the weight off a hind leg is normal, but not for a foreleg. Your horse’s legs should be free of bumps, swelling, cuts or hair loss. There should be no heat in the horse’s feet.

A quick evaluation of your horse can be done in less than 10 minutes. Check him daily so you will know what is normal and what is not.

Article provided courtesy of AAEP and AAEP Alliance Partner, AQHA. About the author: Thomas R. Lenz, DVM, M.S., Diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, is a trustee of the American Horse Council, past chairman of AQHA’s research committee and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.


July 2020 - Taking On Tack Care
Written by by Brooke Goddard • photos: USHJA, Toni Anderson, Kira Casartelli
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:16
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Toni Anderson and Kira Casartelli team up for Toni’s Tack Tips

by Brooke Goddard • photos: USHJA, Toni Anderson, Kira Casartelli

While most teenagers were watching videos on Netflix during the pandemic, Toni Anderson and Kira Casartelli teamed up to produce horsemanship videos, including a “Horsemanship 101” series for Hansen Dam Riding School. Several years ago, Toni started an Instagram page called “Toni’s Tack Tips” as a passion project where she would share her thoughts on different horse-related products. Her videos have evolved from there. “I’ve always had fun explaining things and showing people various horse products,” Toni shared.


Toni, the 2018 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (HQC) Gold Medalist, stars in the video series and shares her wealth of horsemanship knowledge with others. “As I was studying for the HQC, I started to think that there was a serious need for horsemanship resources,” she explained. “The downtime during the pandemic gave me the opportunity to finally start producing videos with the help of my friend and production manager, Kira.”


Their videos dive into depth on horsemanship-related numerous topics. “Our videos focus not only on the ‘how’ but also on the ‘why’ behind everything we do,” Toni added. “I want people to understand the importance of why we do certain things. For instance, putting water on your tack can damage it over time. I want to emphasize to people the importance of why we do what we do.”

Toni is heading into her final year of college and she has already garnered years of experience when it comes to horsemanship. As the USHJA HQC Gold Medalist, Toni got a special opportunity to intern at Spy Coast Farm, a top horse breeding and training operation in Lexington, Kentucky. Toni was also the overall winner of the 2019 LAHJA Horsemastership Scholarship, earning funds toward her degree at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. Outside of school, she works as a show groom and braider and often helps her “other mother” Marnye Langer at shows. Toni enjoys showing in the 1.0M jumpers and medals on LEGIS Light My Fire.

Toni’s family friend, Kira, is the vision and the creative mind behind their video series. “There was a lot of trial and error,” Kira explained. “We experimented a lot with camera angles and lighting. We realized that sometimes we needed to position the horse facing the back of the cross ties in order to get better lighting. We also started using a tripod with bendable legs. By wrapping the legs around the end of a broom, we could get stable shots from above the horse.”

Kira, 14-years-old, is heading to The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) in the fall to focus on her artistic passion. “I’ve always been interested in arts and architecture,” she said. “My mom has worked as a professional photographer, so I had some experience just from watching her.”

“Kira is the best,” Toni said. “She has a talent for finding great camera angles. She also rides horses but has less experience than me. Kira’s comments are helpful because she is able to tell me if I am making sense and explaining things well.”

They are hoping to grow their YouTube channel while continuing to help riders gain horsemanship knowledge. “I want to help pass knowledge down to the next generation of equestrians while creating a resource from which riders of all levels can learn,” Toni added.

Visit their YouTube channel, Toni’s Tack Tips, to learn more.

July 2020 - Gut Issues
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:04
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Colic comes in many forms and has many, often indeterminate, causes.

Colic could certainly be labeled as the most common health concern in the modern horse. In a 2017 report by Pet Plan Equine, colic was reported to be the third most common insurance claim for adult horses, superseded only by arthritis and ulcers. Combine ulcers and colic into “gut health” claims, and you will conquer the greatest insurance claim race.


To further the pain, the average cost of a colic incidence is about $2,000 and the maximum cost, with lengthy surgery and recovery, can climb up to $10,000.

But what is colic? Even though we tend to treat colic as an illness in itself, it is actually a clinical symptom. Yes, the definition of colic is “pain of the abdomen.” There is obviously a plethora of things that can cause abdominal pain so there are many types of colic. These commonly include impaction colic, displacement or entrapment, gas colic, sand colic, strangulation colic, enteritis, and idiopathic (unknown cause) colic. We can define these as follows:

Impaction colic: Impaction occurs when forage, sand, dirt or other material gets lodged in the colon, causing the horse to be unable to pass manure and putting a halt to the whole digestive system. Impaction can also be caused in some cases by enteroliths, naturally occurring mineral deposits that can reach up to 15 pounds in size.

Displacement or entrapment: This occurs when the large colon moves to an abnormal location. Often this occurs at the pelvic flexure, an area where the colon narrows and makes a sharp turn. In some cases, displacement can also lead to entrapment, where something traps the gut and can cut off blood supply.

Gas colic: Mild abdominal pain can simply be the result of gas buildup in the horse. This can be caused by a change in diet, low roughage consumption, parasites or administration of wormer.

Sand colic: Sand colic is caused by the abnormal consumption of large amounts of sand while grazing or eating off dry, sandy ground. Upward of 80 pounds of sand have been found in a colicking horse’s gut.

Strangulation colic: A twist occurring in the gut causes strangulation colic, which often cuts off blood supply and results in dying tissue. This type of colic is one of the most serious and can be fatal.

Enteritis: Abdominal pain can be caused by enteritis, the general inflammation of the gut. This inflammation is most commonly caused by colonization of the gut by pathogens (bacteria or viruses).  

Idiopathic colic: The majority of colic cases are idiopathic. This means the cause is unknown or unable to be determined.

Common General Symptoms

Most types of colic have a few general symptoms in common. These include restlessness, pawing, frequently rolling and lying down, looking back at the flank, lack of appetite, inability to pass manure, sweating, increased respiration rate, kicking at the stomach with hind legs, and overall discomfort.

If you notice a horse exhibiting these symptoms, without resolve, a veterinarian should be called. The veterinarian may ask you to walk the horse, withhold feed, or possibly administer an NSAID, such as Banamine. However, do not medicate the horse without first speaking to a veterinarian. The many faces of colic make it difficult to understand what exactly you are dealing with. The vet may be able to ask questions to determine more about the instance of colic and determine the best course of action and if a visit is required.

Prevention is ideal but challenging at best. Think about yourself; it is difficult to prevent a stomachache entirely. However, there are some things you can do to limit the chance of colic developing. This is no different than preventing a stomachache by not drinking spoiled milk or eating a whole package of cookies!

First, make sure the horse has easy access to fresh, clean water. If horses are housed individually, make mental notes on how much water the horse usually drinks in a given amount of time. This will help you determine if there is a change in water consumption, which could indicate a potential problem.

Provide good quality forage as the major component of the diet and limit the intake of grains to the smallest amount required. Also, if you plan to change the horse’s diet, make changes gradually. This will allow the microbes in the gut to adapt to the changes and help ensure proper digestion.

Try to limit the amount of stress put on the horse. Allow as much time in the pasture or paddock as feasible, and allow them to move freely, socialize and graze. Stress is likely one of the most common causes of colic. Stress causes release of the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands, which can cause colic, ulcers and diarrhea.

Lastly, providing digestive support to the horse can reduce the risk of colic. Digestive supplements can enhance gut health to improve digestion and limit interruptions of the microbes in the gut. One example is Vitalize® Equine Digest More Plus, a daily supplement with Amaferm®, BioZyme®’s proprietary prebiotic, to enhance the good gut microbes and MOS, a beta-glucan, to eliminate pathogens.

In addition to a daily supplement containing prebiotics and/or probiotics, a concentrated single-use product, like Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel, can also provide support to the gut in desperate times. Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel is designed to be used as a preventative against digestive upset from any changes in the horse’s routine, diet, or environment that cause stress. Administer Recovery Gel anytime your horse is under stress, or at the first signs of digestive upset, for a happier, healthier horse.

Article provided by BioZyme®. For more information, visit

July 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 03:45
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whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

These competitions were set to happen as of our June 19 press date. Each is complying with USEF protocols designed to keep exhibitors, staff and spectators safe from COVID-19 and operating in compliance with local regulations regarding the same. Visit the organizer’s website for information or forms you may need to complete before attending any of these events.

Temecula Valley National Summer Series: June 30 - July 4 in Temecula

Nilforushan Equisport Events not only got their National series rescheduled, they got the new two-week series rated by the USEF. The first week took place June 24-28.

Level 4 Jumpers and National Hunters becoming pointed resulted in part because each week offered over $80,000 in prize money, greater than the usual $25,000 for unrated shows.

Presented by Interactive Mortgage, the Summer Series is staged at Galway Downs Equestrian Center. The Nilforushans are offering their own economic stimulus by giving trainers a 2% rebate on the cost of their barns’ entries and stalls. “NEE hopes these funds will be helpful in allowing trainers to keep working with their clients and traveling the horse show circuit with a bit less stress,” says their press statement.

Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials: July 2-5 in Paso Robles

The much-anticipated Spring International, with a new CCI4*-L, in April was not to be, but the Baxter family and many exhibitors are happy that the Summer Horse Trials are nicely on track with Intro through Advanced divisions.

West Palms & Gold Coast: July 2-5; July 8-12; July 16-19 in Lakeview Terrace

Hunter/jumper organizers West Palms Events were sorry to leave their normal 4th of July stomping grounds, the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, this year. But when Orange County approvals lagged, they were happy to find a new host in the Hansen Dam Horse Park in the Los Angeles area’s Lakeview Terrace. The West Palms Welcome Backs #1 and #2 are USEF A rated, and the Gold Coast July is USEF B rated.

All three shows will be managed by West Palms in association with the Langer Equestrian Group. The first two weeks are highlighted by a $22,500 Grand Prix classes and the third week has a $10,000 Grand Prix.

Starr Vaughn Dressage: July 10-12; Aug. 14-15; Aug. 21-23 in Sacramento area’s Elk Grove

The first week is a qualifier for the USEF National Dressage Championships and all three shows are point-earners for the LEGIS League Dressage Series. The LEGIS Final takes place the third week, Aug. 21-23, with the added attraction of a Junior Invitational Competition.

No Show & More: July 15-19 in San Juan Capistrano

The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park got city clearance to resume equestrian competition in late June. This month, that means the popular No Show takes place on July 11, followed by the resumption of Blenheim EquiSport’s national shows series, starting with the Summer Festival Horse Show July 15-19.

Galway Downs Summer Horse Trials: July 17-19 in Temecula

Three months of no shows have enabled the Kellerhouse Presents team and Galway Downs Equestrian Center to give the venue some extra sprucing up. Clinic and schooling participants had a sneak peak at new show stabling, upgraded arena footing and new fencing. Exhibitors get their chance during the new Summer Horse Trials with Advanced-Intermediate through Introductory divisions on the docket.

Sonoma Horse Park: Starting July 17 in Petaluma

Doubts about exhibitors’ interest in returning to shows under COVID precautions evaporated with quick sell-outs for the HMI EQ Classic I and Giant Steps shows that highlight the Horse Park’s summer season. Things kick off with the Classic AA-rated competition July 17-19, which includes the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships West and the Gladstone Cup Equitation.

Rosé In May: Aug. 6-9 in Paso Robles

With two successful show already under their belt, the Paso Robles Horse Park continues its re-shuffled season with the B-rated Rosé In May Aug. 6-9. Welcome Classics originally set for spring begin Aug. 26, followed by a full slate of hunter/jumper shows through December.

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