News & Features
October 2020 - The Gallop: Past at Forefront of Today’s Fire Fights
Written by by Kim F Miller
Thursday, 01 October 2020 17:04
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The upside of extensive fire experience is life-saving preparedness.

by Kim F Miller

Claudia Sonder, DVM, has been at the heart of California’s evolving response to fires as they relate to horses for several years. In “normal” times, she is the partner-owner of Napa Valley Equine, but during the ever-expanding fire season, she’s command central as the Northern California Association of Equine Practitioners’ Disaster Response Committee chair.

The only upside of the state’s devastating fires in the last decade is how they served to inspire preparedness measures among community groups and individual horse owners.

 


Blazes throughout the state marked a full month of burn as California Riding Magazine went to press in mid-September. Even as more people step up to receive various levels of training to assist horses in a disaster, there are still many who believe “it can’t happen to me,” Dr. Sonder reports. Part of the problem is the lack of government-backed assistance for large animal rescue, she explains. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the PETS Act authorized the Federal Emergency Management Association to provide rescue, care, shelter and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals and to the animals themselves. There is no federal funding equivalent for large animals, the veterinarian notes.

 

Yet, remarkable strides have been made in multi-agency efforts to help large animals, often through Community Animal Response Teams (CART), that are similar to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) that exist in many counties.

California Riding Magazine editor Kim F Miller appreciated Dr. Sonder’s time in sharing the evolution of Northern California’s life-saving response to the recent and current fires. Plus, suggestions for getting involved and, most importantly, being prepared horse owners.
    

Kim: How did you get into being a point person for community efforts to help horses in disasters?
Dr. Sonder: I’ve been in the Napa area since 1997 and had experienced a few small fires and helped with some evacuations. Really, all of my knowledge and experience of how to do it came from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where I served as director of Equine Health for several years. In 2013 or 2014, we did a lot of research to write an article on preparing for and helping horses in disaster. (When Disaster Strikes, What Will You Do?) That was my first exposure to CART, an organized response to disasters.
In 2014, the Valley Fire in Lake County became my first exposure to a “run for your life” evacuation. Being in neighboring Napa County, we ended up supporting Lake County efforts and that spooled out into the CART program and the NorCal Equine Trailer.
It took that kind of fire for myself and Napa County to realize the need to plan for these kind of things. Fortunately, Napa County has forward-thinking leadership and they all saw the incredible need for large animal shelter support. We all sat down and said, “Let’s come up with a system so if this happens again, we’ll have the ability to take in hundreds of horses on short notice.”
Sure enough, in 2017, the Wine Country firestorm hit Napa. I think we evacuated 400 horses in 24 hours and, in the end, we had 800 horses sheltered in Napa County. We could do that because we had laid the foundation by pre-designating where the shelters should be and having teams ready to go.
    

Kim: I gather this involves working with various government agencies.
Dr. Sonder: Yes. In the research we did for the 2014 UC Davis Horse Report article, we learned a lot from people in Southern California, where there’d been so many fires. A top thing we learned is that their efforts were well integrated with their local government.
We get a lot of people asking about CARTs, and the first thing to do is go talk to your area’s Animal Control Department. You want a plan that is tied into the actual emergency action plan for your area.
    
Kim: What roles exist within the network of volunteers required to assist horses in a disaster?
Dr. Sonder: Plenty! Some of my best volunteers are long time horse people who know how to safely handle excited horses during an adrenalized evacuation. These are people willing to take the time to go through the training required to be safe going into a fire zone. The county requires this of volunteers heading into to help in “warm zones,” areas where a fire has burned over.
    

Kim: What’s the general time commitment to receive that training?
Dr. Sonder: The CERT training is the first step and requires 20 hours. On top of that is an additional 10 to 20 hours a year to do the different tasks related to horses. If you work on a phone hotline or dispatch, for example, you don’t need as much equine experience. If you are going to work at an equine shelter, then you need training to stay safe around those animals, to know about biosecurity measures and other things. For animal search and rescue and evacuation, you need all the training that keeps you safe in a warm zone.
Once you complete that training, the county will issue you an ID badge or, in our case, a vest, that identifies you to people working the fire line or blockade.
    
Kim: Do you have enough trained volunteers?
Dr. Sonder: In traditional fires in the past, we have had enough people to get the work done. With COVID, our volunteer base is almost cut in half because the majority of people who’ve had the training fall into that upper risk age bracket: a lot are retired. And then there is the size of the fire. In 2018, the Camp fire and right now, the North Fire in Butte County, they’re just too big.
CARTs all across California are working together to create a system for mutual aid. So, the leader in Butte County can call me and say, “I need 10 animal search and rescue volunteers.” We have the same training system, so I know exactly what she needs. That’s how we are handling these huge fires.

Kim: I understand the NCAEP’s Emergency Response Trailer is critical to successful responses. Tell us about that.
Dr. Sonder: It’s an amazing trailer. It was donated in 2018 by the West Coast Equestrian Federation affiliated with Murieta Equestrian Center, Carol Ward and from the Trailer Specialist after the Valley Fire. We realized we needed a mechanism to have a medical hub for animals at the shelters. It is supported by many of NCAEP’s educational partners, who are the big equine and livestock pharmaceutical companies. They actually donate product to fill the trailer, so we have all the emergency drugs to care for the shelter horses in the field, and without the owner ever receiving a bill for it. Member veterinarians volunteer for shifts and a great thing about the trailer is that our vets can actually work out of it, keeping records, etc. If a shelter manager is worried about a horse, they can write the number on a board and the vet on duty will go check on it.
It’s a big, 30’ trailer. We have key people that volunteer to haul it. Boehringer Ingelheim’s Brent Brown is one who drops everything to get the trailer where it needs to be.
(At press time, the Trailer had been based in Butte County for a week and counting.)

Kim: How can horse owners be better prepared?
Dr. Sonder:
•    So often we talk about disaster preparedness without talking about preparing the horse. Make sure your horse will load in the trailer -- not just with you: with someone else. Practice in circumstances you might face: in the middle of the night, in a rush, with lights, headlamps, etc.
•    Get your horse used to being in a confined space. In these last two major fie events, horses have been in 12 x 12 pens for 14 days. Get them as well socialized as you can.
•    Microchip your horses, so they are easy to track.
•    Have a picture of you and your horse together. Create an info sheet with your horse’s name, age, what he eats, allergies, vet, vaccine status, etc. Laminate it. When you come to the shelter, you can hand it over to the manager and they’ll know everything they need to about your horse.
•    Have some hay ready for your horse and bring it to the shelter. The main reason we see so many colics is because the change in feed adds to the perfect storm of conditions.
•    LEAVE EARLY!

Kim: Thank you so much for talking to me and for everything that you and your colleagues do for our horses!
Dr. Sonder: You are welcome!

Donations for the NCAEP’s Emergency Response Trailer are greatly appreciated. https://www.norcalaep.org/donate/

Claudia Sonder, DVM. Photo: ©2011 UC Regents - by Don Preisler


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 .

 
October 2020 - Smoke Coping Strategies
Written by by Nan Meek & Kim F Miller
Thursday, 01 October 2020 16:12
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fires

Minimizing exercise and maximizing hydration are keys to preventing smoke’s harmful effects.

by Nan Meek & Kim F Miller

Smoke from wildfires in the West had made its way to the East Coast of America and has hit Europe. Speculation that it will circumnavigate the globe is sadly realistic.  That smoke is as bad for horses’ health as it is for people.

Here’s a primer on smoke and tips on minimizing its effect on your horse.

 


What’s In Wildfire Smoke

Smoke comes in endless variations, depending on what is burned. In the case of wildfires that spread beyond forests and rangeland to consume homes and other structures, smoke is produced from burning wood, vegetation, plastic, building materials, furniture, vehicles and combustibles such as gas and oil.

Wildfire smoke can contain carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, among other chemicals, for example. Even the smoldering stages of a fire can be deadly – that’s when colorless, odorless carbon monoxide is produced in the greatest quantities. In high doses, carbon monoxide can be fatal.

Of greatest concern, however, is the particulate matter from wildfire smoke. Particulates are an airborne mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are very small – less than five microns in diameter, smaller than the width of a human hair. Sub-micron particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs where they can cause damage even before any signs of respiratory distress become evident.

How Horses Are Affected

Horses show signs similar to humans, with irritated eyes and respiratory systems, compromised lung function and worsened conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum that ranges from Inflammatory Airway Disease to Recurrent Airway Obstruction, aka “heaves.” Watch for signs such as coughs, nasal discharge, wheezing and other breathing distress – if such signs increase or persist, your veterinarian should be called to provide professional diagnosis and treatment.

Not as widely discussed is the effect of particulates on the immune system, but it’s high time to highlight this important fact. Particulates have been shown to alter the immune system, which reduces the lungs’ ability to remove inhaled materials such as pollen and bacteria. Because horses are continually exposed to allergens outdoors as well as in the stable, an immune system compromised by wildfire particulates is a serious matter.

How to Help Your Horse

First of all, watch for clinical or behavioral signs that your horse needs treatment and don’t hesitate to call your vet if you are concerned. You know your horse better than anyone, and your equestrian instinct can be your horse’s best defense.

Keep exercise to a minimum. Avoid activities that increase smoky airflow into your horse’s lungs. You may note your horse being less active in his field or paddock, a sign that his horse sense tells him not to exert himself when it’s more difficult to breathe. Even if his horse sense hasn’t kicked in, be his advocate and refrain from normal activity until the air clears.

After a particularly intense period of smoke inhalation, it may take four to six weeks for your horse’s airway to heal. Give your horse the gift of time to heal. Exercising too soon could aggravate the condition of your horse’s lungs, delay healing and compromise future performance. Experts familiar with the training and competition schedules of sport horses advise a return to exercise no sooner than two weeks after the atmosphere is clear of smoke.

In the meantime, water is your horse’s friend. It keeps the horse’s airways moist and helps clear inhaled particulates from the airways; dry airways encourage particulates to stay in the lungs and air passages. Because horses drink most of their water within two hours of eating hay, encourage water consumption by keeping fresh water close to where he eats.

Helpful Equipment

As an equine health company, respiratory health is one of Haygain’s primary areas of expertise. The Flexineb Portable Equine Nebulizer we distribute is on the frontlines of efforts to help smoke-threatened horses throughout the West right now.

If your horse is diagnosed with smoke-induced respiratory conditions, your veterinarian may prescribe treatments such as IV fluids, bronchodilator drugs, nebulization or other means to hydrate his airways. Nebulization, commonly known as aerosol therapy, enables medications or natural therapy liquids to be aerosolized into tiny particles small enough for your horse to inhale deep into his lungs.

The Flexineb is proven to deliver 71% of the nebulized drug deep into the horse’s lower respiratory tract, with the other 29% reaching the upper respiratory tract and trachea. Its light weight, silent operation and easy application help the horse stay calm during treatment.

Haygain’s high-temperature hay steamers also help by adding water to the diet and reducing up to 99% of the respirable particles found even in hay of good nutrient content. These are problematic every day and especially when the horse’s respiratory function is compromised from smoke inhalation.

Soaking hay is another way to add water and reduce some of the particles, however, soaking for as little as ten minutes can increase the bacteria load in hay by 150%. That’s especially hard on horses whose immune function is suppressed by respiratory distress.

While it’s usually healthier for horses to live outdoors, the opposite is true when smoke is present. Keeping the barn air clean is extra critical, especially reducing two main culprits in respiratory disease: dust from stall bedding and ammonia fumes from bacteria that proliferate in the urine collecting under conventional stall mats. Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring has built-in cushion that reduces bedding needs to only that required to absorb urine. Its top layer is sealed to the stall wall, preventing urine seepage to the stall floor.

Bottom Line: Keep exercise to a minimum and hydration to a maximum. Watch for signs your horse is not feeling normal and keep an extra watch on horses with compromised respiratory and immune systems. If in doubt, call your vet.

 
October 2020 - Fire Fall-Out
Written by by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine & The Paulick Report
Thursday, 01 October 2020 15:48
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fires

Reducing and managing the dangers of smoke inhalation.

by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine & The Paulick Report

Editor’s Note: This article was published after the 2017 fires, but is, unfortunately, still relevant.

The severe fires throughout California over the past three months have exposed humans and animals to unhealthy air containing wildfire smoke and particulates. These particulates can build up in the respiratory system, causing a number of health problems including burning eyes, runny noses and illnesses such as bronchitis. They can also aggravate heart and lung diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and asthma.

 


Because little information is available to horse owners and even equine veterinarians on the effects on horses of breathing air laden with particulates, UC Davis equine specialists are offering these suggestions to serve as a general guide.

What Is In Smoke?

Smoke is made up of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, soot, hydrocarbons and other organic substances including nitrogen oxides and trace minerals. The composition of smoke depends on what is burned; different types of wood, vegetation, plastics, house materials, and other combustibles all produce different compounds when burned. Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that is produced in the greatest quantity during the smoldering stages of the fire, can be fatal in high doses.

In general, particulate matter is the major pollutant of concern in wildfire smoke. Particulate is a general term used for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Particulates from smoke tend to be very small (less than one micron in diameter), which allows them to reach the deepest airways within the lung. Consequently, particulates in smoke are more of a health concern than the coarser particles that typically make up road dust.

How Smoke Affects Horses

The effects of smoke on horses are similar to  effects on humans: irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, aggravation of conditions like heaves (recurrent airway obstruction), and reduced lung function. High concentrations of particulates can cause persistent cough, increased nasal discharge, wheezing and increased physical effort in breathing. Particulates can also alter the immune system and reduce the ability of the lungs to remove foreign materials, such as pollen and bacteria, to which horses are normally exposed.

Assessing and Treating Smoke Inhalation in Horses

During the recent Napa area fires, UC Davis equine specialists Drs. Joie Watson and Gary Magdesian created a quick reference guide for horse owners (see sidebar) to determine potential smoke inhalation damage and a quick reference guide for veterinarians on treatment of smoke inhalation in horses.

In the height of the Napa fires, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine hosted Dr. Elizabeth Woolsey Herbert of the Adelaide (Australia) Plains Equine Clinic. She performed a wet lab on equine burn bandaging for dozens of students, and lectured to more than 100 faculty and students, presenting “Findings and Strategies for Treating Horses Injured in Open Range Fires.” Thank you to the Wiley Online Library for making the publication free online for owners and veterinarians currently dealing with horses with thermal injuries.

Protecting Horses from Air Pollution

•    Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t have your horse do activities that increase the airflow in and out of the lungs. This can trigger bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the small airways in the lungs).

•    Provide plenty of fresh water close to where your horse eats. Horses drink most of their water within two hours of eating hay, so having water close to the feeder increases water consumption. Water keeps the airways moist and facilitates clearance of inhaled particulate matter. This means the windpipe (trachea), large airways (bronchi), and small airways (bronchioles) can move the particulate material breathed in with the smoke. Dry airways make particulate matter stay in the lung and air passages.

•    Limit dust exposure by feeding dust-free hay. This reduces the particles in the dust such as mold, fungi, pollens and bacteria that may have difficulty being cleared from the lungs.

•    If your horse is coughing or having difficulty breathing, have your horse examined by a veterinarian. A veterinarian can help determine the difference between a reactive airway from smoke and dust versus a bacterial infection and bronchitis or pneumonia. If your horse has a history of having heaves or recurrent airway problems, there is a greater risk of secondary problems such as bacterial pneumonia.

•    If your horse has primary or secondary problems with smoke-induced respiratory injury, you should contact your veterinarian who can prescribe specific treatments such as intravenous fluids, bronchodilator drugs, nebulization, or other measures to facilitate hydration of the airway passages. Your veterinarian may also recommend blood tests or other tests to determine whether a secondary bacterial infection has arisen and is contributing to the current respiratory problem.

•    Give your horse ample time to recover from smoke-induced airway insult. Airway damage resulting from wildfire smoke takes 4-6 weeks to heal. Ideally, plan on giving your horse that amount of time off from the time when the air quality returns to normal. Attempting exercise may aggravate the condition, delay the healing process, and compromise your horse’s performance for many weeks or months.

While we recognize that owners and trainers of sport horses may want to return to work sooner than 4-6 weeks, Dr. Kent Pinkerton* recommends that horses return to exercise no sooner than two weeks post smoke-inhalation, following the clearance of the atmosphere of all smoke. Horses, like all other mammals, tend to have an irritation to particles, but will recover from the effects within a few days. With the devastation at San Luis Rey Downs (where 46 horses died, mostly from fire or smoke inhalation), it would be wise give the horses a break from exercise and then to gradually re-introduce them back to their routine exercise. On December 10, 2017, Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director at the UC Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory and at the California Horse Racing Board, issued an advisory on behalf of the CHRB regarding horses at the Del Mar racetrack.

•    Air quality index (AQI) is used to gauge exercise/athlete event recommendations for human athletes. It may be reasonable to use those for equine athletes as well. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association lists the following recommendations on their website: “Specifically, schools should consider removing sensitive athletes from outdoor practice or competition venues at an AQI over 100. At AQIs of over 150, all athletes should be closely monitored. All athletes should be removed from outdoor practice or competition venues at AQIs of 200 or above.” During the Napa area fires, the Napa Valley Unified School District used the AQI to determine when students should return to school. They recommended 2 weeks off based on the AQI which was over 400 and took more than 10 days to resume normalcy.

*Dr. Kent Pinkerton is a professor in both the medical and veterinary medical schools at UC Davis. His research focuses are on the health effects of inhaled environmental air pollutants to alter respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological structure and function. Special areas of interest include the interaction of gases and airborne particles to produce cellular and structural changes within site-specific regions and cells of the respiratory tract in both acute and chronic timeframes of exposure.


What Horse Owners Can Do To Monitor Horses Evacuated from Fire Areas

by Drs. Gary Magdesian and Joie Watson

Horses exposed to fire smoke can suffer respiratory injury of varying degrees, ranging from mild irritation to severe smoke inhalation-induced airway or lung damage. Knowing what is normal versus concerning can help to know whether your horse should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Respiratory rate at rest should be 12-24 breaths/minute. Horses should be examined by a veterinarian if any of the following are noted:
•    Respiratory rate is consistently greater than 30 breaths/minute at rest
•    Nostrils have obvious flaring
•    There is obvious increased effort of breathing when watching the horse’s abdomen and rib cage · There is repetitive or deep coughing,
OR
•    Abnormal nasal discharge

Horses should also be monitored for skin and tissue injury, especially for the first few days after exposure.

 

 
October 2020 - Stay A While
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 05:20
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Blackjack Farm offers a Rider’s Retreat at their new Airbnb.

As we’ve mentioned in past articles, a recurring theme at Blackjack Farm has been visitors expressing a desire to stay for a while. Well, they finally can. In August Blackjack Farm launched their onsite Airbnb and it’s been booked every weekend since.

“It’s been wonderful so far,” says Robin. “Whether a non-horsey guest just wants to come for a weekend getaway or someone is looking for a complete rider’s retreat they can find it here.” By providing a menu of options to add to your stay, a guest can enjoy as much or as little activity as they like. They host a Friday night movie night under the stars including dinner before the movie and s’mores over an open fire afterwards.

 


For riders, Robin offers a complete rider’s retreat focused on fundamentals, flatwork, and rider fitness. Guests have the option to bring their own horse or ride one of theirs. The property has everything you could want including a well-appointed gym, a running/walking track plus all your expected horse amenities. Travelers and Horse Haulers looking for layover space will find that here as well.

 

For more information on any of the services they offer please contact Robin directly or visit their website at www.blackjackfarmsandiego.com for more information.

 
October 2020 - Success!
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 05:15
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Prisma develops the first-ever functional full-body equine veterinary imaging system for a standing conscious horse.

Prisma Imaging has successfully developed a new system for equine diagnostic imaging that addresses the shortcomings of current technology. Founded in 2016, Prisma developed a system that captures CT and radiographic images of the entire anatomy of a standing, weight-bearing and conscious horse. The advanced imaging capabilities established through Prisma’s research and development is different from anything available in the marketplace. The resulting system represents a game-changer for the overall effect on equine diagnostics and horse health care.

 


Other ventures have attempted to build equine CT systems but have been unable to provide a comprehensive solution to image the horse’s entire anatomy.

Other devices are repurposed human medical CT systems. Most systems require that the horse be under anesthesia, representing a risk to their health and safety. In 2015, another venture’s attempt employed the use of robotics, but never developed a working system. 

“Miscues in the industry demonstrate a strong demand for better equine CT imaging,” said Michael Silver, Prisma’s founder and chief operating officer.

“Building next-generation imaging to benefit the veterinary industry and horse health is the core of Prisma’s mission.”

Prisma’s system is distinctly different and was developed to ensure every component meets high-performance specifications. Fully-documented, thorough testing by third-party experts have been performed on every aspect of the system.

Authorities on imaging have taken notice of the groundbreaking work of the Prisma team.

“The testing done with Prisma’s system demonstrates image quality which has eliminated the risks to achieve commercial readiness,” said Josh Star-Lack, principal scientist at Varex Imaging, author of over 100 papers and co-inventor of 27 patents.

According to Silver, their unique solution is facilitated by three major innovations:
1)    Robotics.
2)    Using two types of radiographic technologies.
3)    A motion correction system to compensate for the movement of a conscious horse.

Prisma’s system has successfully performed in vivo imaging of live horse subjects and has demonstrated the efficacy of the system’s multiple technologies. Prisma’s CT image quality has proven to be on par with the top medical-grade CT systems.

“The CT images taken with Prisma’s system revealed all of the relevant anatomy and was virtually indistinguishable from those taken with medical-grade CT systems.” said Kurt Selberg, DVM, MS, DACVR, associate professor veterinary diagnostic imaging, Colorado State University and lead imaging practitioner at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

Silver projects that commercial installations of the system will begin in mid-2021.  “Prior to purchase, Prisma will require the customer’s inspection and full satisfaction that all its capabilities are fully functional and meet or exceed the highest standards,” Silver said.

Press release provided by EQMedia. Visit www.PrismaImaging.com to learn more.

 
September 2020 - The Gallop: Shady Deals
Written by by Leone Equestrian Law
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:32
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gallop

How to spot the warning signs when horse shopping.

by Leone Equestrian Law

Q: I’m shopping for my first horse. I’ve been warned about sellers who misrepresent their sale horses—what types of situations should I be wary of during my search?


A: I’m glad that you’re being cautious during this process, because dishonest sales practices occur in the equine industry more than we care to admit.

 

Deceptive practices can occur at all levels of horse sales, and unfortunately, a first-time horse buyer can fall victim because he or she lacks experience in spotting the warning signs.

If you have not already enlisted the help of a knowledgeable professional, I highly recommend you take that step first. A trainer who knows your riding abilities and goals for your new horse can help you make a smart purchase and identify any potential red flags along the way. An experienced professional and competent trainer can help prevent first-time horse owners from letting their emotions and excitement interfere with sound decision-making when deciding upon which horse makes the smartest purchase. A professional can help you weigh the pros and cons with a potential new horse, answer your questions, and guide you into making a good decision.

As you get started with the horse-shopping process, here are a few situations that could set off alarm bells:

The Deal is Too Good to be True

You are scouting sales ads and discover what appears to be the perfect horse for you. A 16.2-hand gelding with show experience, auto changes, and a price way below your budget.

Seems like a great deal, right? It could very well be… or it could be a warning sign that maybe there is an issue with the horse that the seller is not disclosing. The horse may have a lameness issue, a behavioral problem, or be very difficult for an amateur to ride, among other things. If you are interested in trying the horse, make sure you conduct some investigation into the horse’s show record to see what the horse showed in, how the horse performed, and who rode him.

If considering a purchase of a horse with a sale price that seems too good to be true, consider obtaining the horse’s veterinary history, and have your veterinarian perform a thorough pre-purchase examination. It is possible that you have lucked out and the horse is being sold below purchase price for reasons unrelated to the horse’s quality or soundness.

Horse is Already Tacked Up When You Arrive

Since this is your first time purchasing a horse, try to arrive when the horse is taken from its stall or pasture, being groomed, and tacked up. Being present during these activities may provide a better sense of the horse’s attitude and suitability for you. If you arrive and the horse is already tacked up in the cross-ties, there is a chance the seller could be hiding a potential behavioral issue. Perhaps the horse does not want to be caught in the pasture, or kicks and bites when being groomed and tacked up.

On the other hand, a horse ready to be ridden when you arrive may not be a negative sign at all, but evidence of a motivated seller intent on having the horse properly turned out and ready for a potential buyer to ride.

If you are still interested in purchasing the horse after riding him, you can always request a second ride and arrange to be present when the horse is groomed and tacked up. If the horse is looking a bit sweaty or winded, it may be a sign that the seller lunged the horse before you arrived to “take the edge off.” If you like the horse after having tried him, observe the horse and its personality as it is being untacked and bathed or groomed.

Trouble with the Vet Check

A pre-purchase exam is a crucial part of the buying process. Typically, a buyer will hire a veterinarian who is unfamiliar with the horse, giving them the opportunity to perform an objective analysis. Try to avoid using the seller’s veterinarian to perform your pre-purchase exam. Using your own veterinarian will help ensure that the examination and evaluation are being performed by an independent professional with no pre-existing loyalty to the seller. If your veterinarian cannot perform the examination try to retain a well-qualified veterinarian that does not have any pre-existing relationship to the seller.

Also, when choosing a veterinarian for the pre-purchase exam, try to select a veterinarian that is familiar with the breed, sport, or use for which the horse is being purchased.

Providing the veterinarian with the horse’s intended use can be extremely helpful in terms of the information you can gain from the examination. It is vital to know whether the horse you want to purchase will be suitable to meet your needs.

Quick Decision-Making

Purchasing a horse, especially your first horse, should never be a rushed process. Taking your time and having your questions answered can help ensure that the horse is suitable and the right fit. Don’t let a seller try to talk you into making a quick decision. A seller may mention there is another buyer waiting to try the horse if you don’t, but they want to give you “first dibs.” Or maybe they say they have someone coming to look at the horse later that day or tomorrow, and that “this horse won’t be on the market for long!”

A seller may be pushing you to make a speedy decision to avoid having you ask for a vet check (don’t skip that!) or a second chance to try out the horse (advisable whenever possible). Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a hasty choice and buying your first horse without a veterinarian examination or a pre-purchase trial.

If you think that the horse is the right match for you, make every effort to take the horse on a short trial at your barn prior to purchase. This opportunity will enable you and your trainer to evaluate the horse in a different environment without the seller being present to control the situation. It is also advisable to enter into a written agreement before engaging in a trial period to ensure that both you and the seller clearly understand the terms of the trial. Items to consider putting into the agreement include length of the trial, responsibility for transport, limitations on what the horse may do on the trial, insurance coverage, and the timing of a pre-purchase examination if you want to purchase the horse after the trial period ends.

Key Takeaways

These are just some of the potential issues you’ll want to be aware of during your horse search—and sometimes, they can be deal breakers. The best thing you can do is enlist the help of a trusted professional or experienced horseman who can guide you along the way. Go with your instincts. If you get an unsettled feeling about a horse or a situation, it might be a sign to move on and look elsewhere. When you find a horse who seems like a great match, try to get to know the horse as well as you can before you make a decision during a trial period or a return visit to the seller’s barn. Schedule a pre-purchase exam with an objective veterinarian, and whatever you do, don’t feel rushed to make a quick decision. Best of luck!

Article provided by Leone Equestrian Law LLC. Led by Armand Leone, Jr., MD, JD, MBA, Leone Equestrian Law LLC provides legal services and consultation for equestrian professionals ranging from riders and trainers to owners and show managers in the FEI disciplines on a wide variety of issues. For more information, visit www.equestriancounsel.com.

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 .

 
September 2020 - Touchstones
Written by by Sophia Siegel
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:48
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Volunteering for Light Horse Rescue reminds young show jumper of the “whys” behind her riding.

by Sophia Siegel

I’ve spent a good portion of my life looking at the world from a horse’s back. I’ve competed across the U.S. and have strived to make a name for myself in the world of show jumping.  Yet our sport is truly unlike any other: no matter how hard we push ourselves, success is always dependent on the animal beneath us.

 


Now at the end of my junior career, I look back on my achievements with not only pride but with gratitude. As riders, we continually ask so much from our horses - to push themselves to the limits of their physical and mental capabilities, and they never stop giving.

Volunteering with the rescue horses at Into the Light Horse Rescue (ITL) in the Bay Area’s Portola Valley is my way to give back to the animals that have given me so much. Into the Light is a non-profit organization with a mission to “rescue, rehabilitate, re-home, and provide sanctuary to slaughter-bound horses.”

Horses can end up in the slaughter pipeline in any of several ways. Little J, who has now been with ITL for several years, was saved from auction after being sold from an Indian reservation in the northwestern United States. Because the U.S. has no jurisdiction in designated reservation areas, there are no laws prohibiting rounding up and selling wild horses to auction. Many Native American populations use the sale of Mustangs for auctioning as a great source of revenue. At these auctions, kill buyers are the predominant purchasers of wild horses because they can be challenging to train and work with. Although equine slaughterhouses are outlawed in the U.S., kill buyers easily truck the horses across the border to Mexico where they are legally slaughtered for meat.
    

Wisty & Prim

ITL saved four-year-olds Wisty and Prim from auction after being displaced from their wild habitats by cattle ranchers who lease large land plots from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to graze their livestock. Under these contracts, the BLM initially prohibits selling wild horses to auction, and so they are rounded up and kept in conditions considered horrific by me and many others. However, these contracts become void in a few short years, and the horses can then be sold at auction to kill buyers.

In recent years, many Mustangs have also been removed from their homes in the wild due to their populations exceeding their habitats’ carrying capacities. The increased numbers are due to a loss of predators in the area; as the population grows, it spreads onto residential and agricultural lands where the horses can legally be rounded up and sold. The ethical use of birth control shots on wild horse populations is widely debated, but animal rights activists continue to halt proceedings of this measure on a national scale.

Most rescues at ITL are adopted as weanlings or yearlings and spend years in the care of the rescue building confidence and strong foundations. They are emotionally nurtured to know they will never face abuse, neglect, or the slaughter pipeline ever again.

Adoption Is Ideal

The rescue is run by founder Reneit Opperman, who manages the day-to-day affairs of the Portola Valley location at Portola Pastures. Additionally, Trish Kusal Wilson directs the rescue in Colorado. These locations work in tandem; Wilson cares for our more senior horses whose owners gave them up for financial reasons, while Opperman takes on the newer and younger additions to the family.

By moving the young horses regularly between these two environments -- the open pastures of Colorado and the more intensive program in Portola Valley -- they are both physically and mentally groomed for adoption and lifelong partnership with a human. At ITL, matching a horse to a new owner is about love, connection, and mutual understanding between horse and rider. Potential adopters must meet the horses on-site and are encouraged to make multiple visits before a final decision is made.

Watching the horses build trust and transform into tame companions is the most gratifying experience for me. Volunteering with ITL has helped me rediscover why I ride and why I love my sport. It is a time for me to connect with the horses more profoundly and naturally. Because at the end of the day I don’t ride to win, or only to succeed in the show ring. I ride because I love the animals. My horse is my companion, my inspiration, my heart and my passion. Volunteering to me means time to spend with the horses that is pure and untinctured by competitiveness.

Author Sophia Siegel is an accomplished jumper rider. She trains with Harley and Olivia Brown and begins Stanford University this year.

 
August 2020 - Rain or Shine
Written by by Premier Equestrian
Monday, 03 August 2020 05:04
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Premier Equestrian offers arena advice for California’s wild weather.

by Premier Equestrian

California has been known to have some extreme weather. From torrential El Niño rains to persistent state-wide drought, the weather in California is a challenge when related to equestrian arena maintenance. Add to that the California water restriction laws scheduled to take effect in 2023 and the challenges arena owners face in terms of water are real, expensive, and daunting. Proper arena maintenance includes water management, whether you’re draining water away or putting water on the surface. This article will look at the challenges created from too much rain or too much shine and some strategies to handle the flood or the dry dust-choked parch.

 


For arena footing to function at its best, sufficient moisture is essential. Too much water makes the surface un-ridable, too little can leave the surface deep and dusty. Properly maintained footing complements equine biomechanics by providing shock absorption, support and stability. Keeping just the right amount of water in the surface is critical for success.

Heidi Zorn, president of Premier Equestrian, North America’s leader for equestrian surfaces, was asked about how to deal with excess water and arena drainage.

“In any horse arena it’s the base that determines and affects drainage. Options range from a simple compacted base to arena drainage mat solutions. Compacted bases drain water off to the side; it’s slow and may wash away some of the footing with it. Mat systems, like OTTO Sport, drain the water vertically into a drain layer then into pipes. This allows the arena to be used immediately after a rain event compared to the traditional compacted base that may take days to dry out.”

Riding in heavy rain is possible with OTTO Sport base mats.

OTTO Sport Base Mats

OTTO Sport makes mats that are particularly suited for California rainfall. Installing OTTO Sport base mats will create a true all-weather riding surface. Each OTTO Sport Mat, one square meter in size, is comprised of drainage holes, water cups, several heights of traction knobs and locking rings. 252 holes in each mat let excess water flow through to a drainage layer beneath, the water flows away leaving the footing saturated but still ridable. Puddles and mud will no longer be an issue, even after a heavy rain. At the same time, each mat’s water retention cups hold up to one gallon of water (1,200 gallons for a standard dressage arena), which helps to ensure that the entire arena surface remains consistently hydrated when the sun finally comes out.

“OTTO Sport mats are amazing,” says Zorn. “We installed them at Arroyo Del Mar, Steffen Peters’ farm, because they need an arena that’s available every day, rain or shine. Before, they used to tarp the arena when rain was forecast, it took hours and made the arena useless. Now, with OTTO Sport arena mats they never have to tarp, and the arena can be used even when it is raining. It’s a very effective solution for too much water.”
OTTO Sport Base Mats are so effective that last season they were installed in the International Arena at The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (WEF) located in Wellington, FL.

The Ebb & Flow system – showing the layers. Installed by Olympia Footing, LLC.

Premier Ebb & Flow Base System

Another effective solution for rain management is the Premier Ebb & Flow System. “The Ebb & Flow system is great for handling rain but is also effective for keeping water at the surface,” continues Zorn. “Our Ebb and Flow system works in rain and shine. The system maintains a reservoir of water under the footing. When it rains the system pumps the water out, keeping the footing consistent and ridable. When it is dry the reservoir hydrates the footing from below. It’s all automatic and all very effective.”

For those with a serious commitment to managing water resources efficiently, the Premier Ebb & Flow System is a unique and effective option for conserving available water, ultimately leading to greater ease of arena maintenance and lower water costs.

The Ebb & Flow system provides consistent hydration of the arena surface from below; moisture is wicked up through the sand to the surface, effectively delivering moisture on demand. An electronic control panel monitors water levels, which can be fine-tuned to the centimeter. The system automatically releases excess water (such as after a heavy rain) and draws more water in as needed.

This base system consists of a liner and a pipe array, which is connected to both a water source and the electronic control. The pipe array is then covered in sand, followed by your footing of choice. Alternatively, OTTO Sport Mats may be installed between the base and the footing, providing a true state-of-the-art riding surface.

Dust can be controlled with SlowDust.

Dust in the Wind

On the other end of the California weather spectrum is drought. The result of drought is obvious: water restrictions, high water costs, and low water flow. Water is one of the main issues when it comes to arena maintenance and performance. When arena footing is dry it loses its support, body, and traction.         

Strategies for adding and retaining moisture in an arena are in high demand. California has passed water restriction laws that will affect the supply and cost of water for all people and industries beginning in 2023.

“There are things you can do to keep water in the arena,” says Zorn. “Each one has tradeoffs. The very first thing is to look at what’s in the footing. Some sand holds water better than others. Also, adding synthetic fibers and textiles can help retain moisture. Then, there are products you can add that will help retain moisture.”

HydroKeep absorbs and retains water.

Premier Hydro-Keep

Premier Hydro-Keep is one of the products that can help to retain moisture and reduce dust in riding arenas. Hydro-Keep is a polyacrylamide crystal with tremendous absorptive qualities—it can absorb as much as 20 times its weight in water. One pound of Hydro-Keep can absorb 40 gallons of water. Polyacrylamides are more common in daily life than you might think; they make diapers absorbent and are used in agriculture. Hydro-Keep is safe for humans and horses.

When Hydro-Keep crystals get wet, they expand by absorbing the water. Over time, as the soil surrounding it dries, the crystal contracts, releasing up to 95% of the water it contains. This flow between expansion and contraction of the crystals actually helps reduce soil compaction, an added benefit. While Hydro-Keep won’t eliminate the need to apply water to an arena surface, its ability to absorb water molecules and release them over time can result in an average 50 percent reduction in water use.

Hydro-Keep is supplied in 55-pound bags, which will each cover 6,900 square feet of surface area. It is easy to apply and can be combined with other additives for enhanced water retention. Hydro-Keep may be used indoors or outdoors, where it is non-toxic for animals and the environment. On average, one application lasts about three years.

Properly hydrated footing keeps horses safe.

SlowDust    

SlowDust is another Premier Equestrian product that helps during dry times by providing dust control. This product uses a flocculation polymer to bind microscopic dust particles together. To give an example, flocculants are widely used at water purification facilities, where they attract not just particles such as sand or debris but also potentially dangerous organisms like bacteria or protozoa. When clumped together by the flocculant, these now larger particles can be readily caught by water filtration systems.

SlowDust offers a similar effect to riding arenas. All arena sand, over time, will degrade into smaller and smaller particles due to the stresses of use; these particles contribute to increased dust. Dust particles are charged to a negative state. When applied to an arena, the positively charged flocculant polymer in SlowDust binds the dust particles to create a unified particle that is too heavy to be airborne.

SlowDust application has the added benefit of improving traction through particle stabilization. Similar to Hydro-Keep, SlowDust will reduce the need for watering by about 50%. It comes in a 55-pound bag, which covers 15,000 square feet of arena surface. SlowDust is easily applied with a fertilizer spreader and is safe for use both indoors and out. The polymer will degrade more quickly in direct sun, so users should expect to reapply every one to two years for an outdoor arena and every two to three years for an indoor.

International Arena at WEF – OTTO Sport base mats installed.

Magnesium Chloride

One of the most affordable options when it comes to preserving existing moisture within footing is the application of magnesium chloride. This form of salt is readily available at most major home/garden centers or wholesale distributors and can be applied with a fertilizer spreader, then groomed into the surface. Magnesium chloride draws moisture from the air and pulls it into the footing, thereby helping with dust control. Its chemical composition also makes magnesium chloride effective at preventing the formation of ice; therefore, it is a popular choice for moisture control at facilities located in colder climates, when supplemental watering is not possible.

However, magnesium chloride does have its limitations. While magnesium chloride is less corrosive than its cousin, calcium chloride, some animals still find it irritating to the skin, particularly on the lower limb. Further, its ability to draw moisture can have a negative effect on equine hooves; owners often need to treat animals with a farrier-endorsed hoof protectant. Finally, magnesium chloride is only appropriate for use in an indoor or covered arena, as even a moderate level of rain will wash it off the surface and into the surrounding watershed.

The International Arena at WEF was updated with OTTO Sport Base Mats.

Final Thoughts

No matter your budget, there is a solution to your arena’s moisture maintenance needs. The experts at Premier Equestrian, North America’s leading supplier of high-quality footing additives, arena groomers, base mat systems and arena consultation, are here to help you determine the best fit for your facility and your wallet. Premier Equestrian products are in use from the most elite venues to private arenas all over the world, and the staff is proud to use its advanced knowledge of equine biomechanics and footing to serve their customers’ needs.

Visit www.PremierEquestrian.comor call 800-611-6109.

 
August 2020 - How Many Horses?
Written by CRM
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:51
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Varying reports regarding size of the U.S. horse population clarified by American Horse Council.

Several figures have been circulated regarding the U.S. horse population in the last few months. The American Horse Council wishes to clarify these statistics to avoid confusion and misunderstanding of the data.

There are presently three major organizations that collect and publish data regarding the U.S. horse population, albeit with different target audiences and different definitions.
 


The most comprehensive number comes from the 2017 National Economic Impact of the US Horse Population conducted by the AHC Foundation which counts 1,013,746 horse owners owning or leasing farms housing 7,246,835 horses in the U.S.

 

The USDA, National Agriculture Statistic Service (NASS) recently completed a census which counts only horses that are on working farms. This definition excludes boarding, training and riding facilities; as well as any other operation that fails to generate a minimum of $1,000 in sales of equine products, defined as “breeding fees, stud fees, semen or other”. NASS reports a total of 459,526 horse farms in the US, with an agricultural population of 2,847,289 horses.

In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) publishes a report on pets. While horses are defined as “livestock”, the AVMA study does ask owners about all types of animals in their care and thus publishes the number of horses reported. That number is 1,914,394.

The Food and Drug Administration utilized both the AVMA survey and information from USDA’s periodic surveys of farm animal populations to estimate the U.S. horse population at 3.8 million. FDA explained that population estimates are important for helping determine potential eligibility for drugs to be used for “minor uses”.
 
AHC President Julie Broadway noted “While NASS and AVMA statistics serve important purposes, only the AHC Foundation’s Study most closely reflects the total horse population in the US.” To purchase a copy of the 2017 National Economic impact Study go to www.horsecouncil.org and navigate to the 2017 Naational Economic Impact of the US Horse Population study.  

Press release provided by the American Horse Council.

 
August 2020 - Home Sweet Home
Written by photos: Joshua Nilsen Photography
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:30
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Jamie Barge and her show jumpers are happily settling into their recently completed Malibu training facility.

photos: Joshua Nilsen Photography

International show jumping rider Jamie Barge recently moved her horses into her own training facility near her home in Malibu. The new construction project was preceded by research into best design ideas and equipment. The private six-stall facility is set on two acres close to the Pacific Ocean’s cooling breezes.
Three months of shelter-in-place allowed Jamie and her horses to settle in and take full advantage of the beautiful new facility. California Riding Magazine editor Kim F Miller enjoyed catching up with Jamie about the experience.


Kim: You’d been keeping your horses at a beautiful place, El Campeon Farm in Hidden Valley. Why did you want to have your own barn?
Jamie: I loved my time at El Campeon and still go there on a weekly basis. I had so much support from the staff there, even through the building process of my own barn. Christy Reich and Mark Audenino actually came to visit during construction to make suggestions and answered many, many questions along the way! For me, it was a financial decision to start building equity in a property.

Luebbo enjoys ComfortStall padded flooring and Haygain Steamed Hay.

Kim: How long did the process take and when did you start planning?
Jamie: The actual construction of the barn itself took about two years. We’ve been saving ideas and pictures for many years. My family bought the property in 2013 and began working with a local architect.
We did a lot of research both online and asking show professionals and fellow riders. We went and saw so many barns, too. A big part of planning is just knowing what works for your horses. We were building during the Woolsey Fire in 2018, which was extremely scary but also helped as we added extra fire protection.

Kim: Did you stick with your original plan in terms of design of barns and the arenas and the equipment? Or did you learn things along the way that caused you to make mid-stream changes?
Jamie: We did stick with our original plan which was made keeping coastal California climate as key. I’ve spent most of my life in barns, so I’ve seen many. In that sense, I have learned along the way.

Steamed hay is a stable staple.



Kim: What were “must haves” versus things that you could live without if you had to?
Jamie: My must haves were good footing, turn-out, and a place for my hay steamer. I had to choose between turn-outs or a walker and felt that my horses value their alone time in the turn-out more. They get worked, turned out and hand walked on a daily basis.
I also was never really a fan of in/out stalls, mostly because the ones I was used to were pipe corrals and the idea of the horses getting cast in the metal bars always scared me.  However, with our climate, in/out stalls make so much sense. It also gives the horses more room to move around.
We have one larger “out” for two stalls so two horses share who is outside. We designed the out with vinyl-wrapped wood and as little room as possible for casting. The horses love to be outside.
At first some of them, especially Bo (Luebbo), were skeptical. Bo is used to having a stall guard at the shows so I think he was confused about whether he was allowed to walk “out” of his stall by himself! Now he knows it and loves to sunbathe.

Kim: What barn company did you work with and why were they good?
Jamie: The barn is custom built but we purchased a hay shed from Ulrich Barns. This building was designed, ordered, delivered in consultation with their staff and we are very happy with it.

Kim: What are some of the products that are key to making the barn the best for your horses?
Jamie: The ComfortStall in the horse’s stalls seem to be the biggest hit. It makes stall cleaning easier, especially between horses if you want to disinfect a stall. The biggest plus is the horses love it! They are definitely lying down and off their feet more at night.
My Haygain hay steamer is another product that I think is great in my barn. We have the big one in our hay shed so it’s easy and convenient to use. We place a whole bale inside, but we separate the flakes so the hay steams more evenly. All my horses love their steamed hay.
The arena is also a big one. The footing was the most important thing for me. I originally wanted someone from Germany to build my arena as they were well-known for arenas with good footing.
However, we then met Dave Martin, who was local to my area. I was lucky that he was also re-doing the rings at El Campeon, so I got to ride on his work before he did my ring. He did an amazing job and I absolutely love it! The footing stays great through all the micro-climates here: the wind, the marine layer, the occasional heavy rainstorm!


    
Kim: What lessons did you learn in the process that might help others have an easier time?
Jamie: Be patient. It’s practically impossible to build on a deadline. Hold out for what you want and find a way to make it work with all the building requirements. Having a contractor who was dedicated, conscientious and creative was critical. Also know that as you use the barn there will be some things you’ll have to change or adjust. That’s all a part of being in a new barn. The base board in your arena will get nicked; that’s what it’s there for!
When I first moved my horses to my barn, Rocco figured out how to open the stall doors. But he loves attention so he would wait and open the door right in front of you: kind of like “Look what I did!” Fio quickly learned Rocco’s trick but waited until he thought no one was looking. I came out of the hay shed and he was walking out of his stall! We had to go back and put carabiners on the stall doors. They also figured out how to pull the end cap off the latch and watch the spring go flying. They thought that was really fun for a few days. We ended up just taking the springs off the latches.

Kim: Are there pros and cons to living so close to the barn?
Jamie: I live less than a mile from the barn. This has been really nice as I can get there quickly if necessary. The only con I can think of is there’s not enough time to drink a cup of coffee on my commute! My barn is small enough to make sure each horse gets as much attention, training, and top-level care as needed. My barn was designed and built with the horses as a number one priority, while also being efficient for us caretakers.

Kim: Thank you, Jamie!!

 

 
October 2020 - Classics Eventing: Megan Sykes
Written by by Kim F Miller
Thursday, 01 October 2020 16:37
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Young professional is making her mark as a competitor and trainer with a budding sales business.

by Kim F Miller

Young eventing professional Megan Noelle Sykes entered 2020 with an impressive head of steam. The previous year, she and the horse she’s brought along for the last six years, Classic’s Mojah, earned two CCI3*-L top 10 finishes, at two of North American’s most challenging competitions: Rebecca Farms and Fair Hill International. Newly named to the United States Equestrian Federation’s Eventing 25 Emerging Athletes that fall, she and “Mo” completed their first Advanced level finish at Twin Rivers this past February.

 


And then COVID happened. Then a bad riding accident happened, followed by bed rest, two months of limited mobility and lots of physical therapy. Embodying the grit and grace typical of eventers, Megan didn’t let any of that dampen her enthusiasm for her budding career as a top-level competitor, trainer, sales agent and coach.

 

Her response to the riding accident that fractured her pelvis and shoulder speaks volumes about her character. On the way to the hospital, she briefly worried that everything she’d been building for in her career would go down the drain. Instead, she found a way to turn the down time into a positive. As she wrote for Jumper Nation in July, she used it to examine her horse’s training foundation and where there might be holes. She framed the accident as a way to build mental toughness and took her own physical rehabilitation as seriously as she’d take it for one of her horses.

Megan was back in the saddle faster than her doctors had predicted, and with new mental skills and horsemanship tools to tackle her big goals. Megan’s new business partners Brian and Kailynn Wallace weren’t surprised, and not because they’re long-time horse people: they’re not. Brian was Army Infantry for 10 years and both have backgrounds that enable quick recognition of “a person willing to do what it takes to be as successful as they say they want to be.”
    

Megan Sykes, head trainer and owner of Classics Eventing,riding Classics Mojah at Twin Rivers.Photo: Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography. https://marcusgreene.smugmug.com/. Follow us - Facebook: MGO Photography; Instagram: @_mgo_photography

Putting In The Work

They had witnessed Megan’s devotion to the horses at home in Texas and seeing it translate to competitive success was inspiring.  Shortly after seeing her compete at Fair Hill last fall, the Wallaces realized that Megan’s character and approach warranted an investment in her career as business partners.

“I know what hard work looks like,” Brian explains. “She’s been boot strapping herself up from a young age and we understand that philosophy.” The business is developing horses and its success will be measured in financial terms and in the Wallaces’ ability to enjoy the horses, their development and the sport itself.

As newcomers to the horse world, they don’t plan to become eventers themselves. Brian and Kailynn met Megan while learning to ride only a few years ago with her husband, Reed Sykes, a natural horsemanship trainer.

The Wallaces foresee enjoying that path themselves while delving fully into eventing as Megan’s partners. Like all equestrian sports, eventing seeks growth by getting new people interested. Megan’s role in inspiring the Wallaces to get involved is a model that any sport advocate would love to see widely replicated.

The qualities that inspired the Wallaces to support Megan have also helped her build a strong base of sponsors. They include Deco Pony, MDC Stirrups, EquiClean, The Hangry Mare, Professionals Choice and Halter Ego.    

Photo: MGO PhotograpHy

The Right Stuff

Although she’s from and is based in Midland, Texas, Megan and her business, Classics Eventing, are well known throughout the West Coast. The most formative years of Megan’s equestrian career were spent as a student of and working student for, first, Heather Morris, then Tamie Smith, at Next Level Eventing. Over the years, she has groomed for the 4* competitors and been a contender herself. First, with her NAYC horse, Ghypsy, a former broodmare Megan brought to CCI1* success, then with “Mo,” an Oldenburg who started out as a dressage horse and needed a better outlet for his athletic ability.

Megan describes Tamie and Heather as the best role models, past, present and future. These partners in Next Level Eventing in Temecula set highest standards for hard work and dedication. Like the Wallaces, they recognized the right stuff in Megan’s riding abilities and work ethic and have allowed her to earn opportunities and supported her in making the most of them.

“She has some big things coming her way,” says Tamie. “She is kind of the silent, deadly one: the one that you don’t really notice, then all of the sudden, you say, ‘Who’s that girl?’ She never stops trying and learning and she is a super hard worker and very humble.

“It’s no small feat to pick up from your home,” Tamie continues. “To travel to go learn and be away from home for weeks and months at a time. That’s the difference between somebody who is going to make it in the sport and someone that is just going to skate along.”

Megan started on a hunter/jumper path and switched to eventing at 14. She began riding at Mike Huber’s Gold Chip Stables, where she also groomed for Heather. That bond led her to Southern California when Heather returned to Temecula to partner with Tamie in Next Level Eventing.

“They have been the best influence for me with their coaching and support, and they are both bad ass women who I adore,” Megan explains. “They are prime examples that hard work will get you there.” Neither had opportunities handed to them on silver platters, and both have willed their way through professional and personal obstacles to success in the sport.

Megan has made the 18-hour drive from Texas to Southern California at least twice a year for a while now. She’s currently on the East Coast, where she had hoped to contend the American Eventing Championships. When those were cancelled due to COVID, Megan re-routed for the chance to work with Leslie Law, USEF’s Young Rider coach and run Chattahoochee Hills and other events. The plan is to conclude the season with CCI4*-L at Tyron, North Carolina in November.

Long drives are old hat for Megan, but travelling with four horses is new and a reflection of Classic’s Eventing’s growth. Now instead of “Mo” and a client or sale horse, it’s Mo; her new personal horse, the 6-year-old mare, Tennessee Whiskey, and two sale horses. It’s a new challenge in travel and horse management logistics, but one Megan welcomes as inherent to fulfilling her goals of becoming better known on the national eventing circuit and building up a sales horse business.

“My favorite part of being a professional rider is riding,” she says. “But I’ve always known that if you’re going to be in eventing or any equestrian sport, you have to have your toe in everything. Having a little sales business is a good way to sit on a ton of different horses and build things up.”
    

A Passion for Development

Developing horses is a passion she shares with her husband, natural horseman Reed Sykes.  “He brings a different awareness. As english riders, we are used to either buying a horse that’s already going under saddle or one that’s been handled by someone else for its first 60 or 90 days. Witnessing the process of how the horse gets to that point has been a big learning experience.”

That, in turn, affects her thinking on how to supplement that start in later phases of the horse’s training. “Even when a horse gets out of ‘cowboy training,’ there is still a lot of work to do, and it’s great to be able to work with the person who started the horse.” It’s a partnership that helps maintain relaxation in the horse and patience in the handler throughout all steps of training.

“In the competition world, it’s easy to get thinking that we can forget about this or that because we have a show in two weeks and we need to get something else done,” Megan reflects. “Reed’s approach has opened my eyes to the benefits of going slow: to the reality that there will always be another competition and it’s most important to get things right so it’s always a positive experience for the horse.”

Along with developing, campaigning and selling horses, Megan enjoys giving clinics whenever her schedule allows. Her frequent travels lend themselves to side trips for sessions across the country. She welcomes the chance to pass along all that she’s learning through coaching from the best and her own growing base of experience with horses and competition at all levels.
    
For more information on Megan Sykes and Classics Eventing, visit www.classicseventing.com.

 
October 2020 - After The Smoke Clears?
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 16:10
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Better safe than sorry when it comes to timing of exercise after smoke exposure.

The wildfires’ effect on horses will linger long after the smoke clears. That was the main takeaway from a September 16 livestream Zoom call with Dr. Phoebe Smith of Riviera Equine Internal Medicine and Consulting and Drs. Mark Revenaugh and Austin Rowland of Northwest Equine Performance.

Revenaugh and Rowland spoke from their practice in the Portland, OR area, where the Air Quality Index was in the “deep purple” zone of 400s, noted Dr. Revenaugh. (That’s actually maroon and on the most severe end of Airnow.com’s AQI chart).

 


Very prominent in all other aspects of equine care, the Portland vets didn’t have deep experience treating horses dealing with smoke inhalation. So, they turned to Dr. Smith to ask their own questions and address the most common inquiries of their horse owning clients.

 

In addition to being an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Smith has a mobile practice based in Central California. That has put her many times on the front lines of helping owners care for their horses through the aftereffects of California’s too frequent fires.

The following is a paraphrased recounting of this extremely helpful and important conversation. It can be found it its entirety on Northwest Equine Performance’s Facebook page.

Dr. Revenaugh: Where we are the AQI is 440. What does that mean?
Dr. Smith: The Air Quality Index is a measure of air quality that spans from 0 to 500. The numbers are derived from multiple factors that affect air quality. With the current wildfires, the most significant of these is particulate matter in the air. Up to 100, the air quality is acceptable, with the possible exception of for those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Over 300, everyone is likely to be affected and there’s a hazardous health warning for all.
Particulate matter is what we’re dealing with now. Particles above 5 microns in size can usually be filtered out of by natural defense mechanisms in the horse’s upper airway. Smaller than that, they get stuck way down deep in human and horse’s lungs.  What we’re seeing is the number “pm2.5,” meaning very tiny particles of everything that’s burning now: wood, plastics -- everything in the homes and cars, etc.
Dr. Revenaugh: The crux of this conversation is that, in addition to getting oxygen into the blood stream, the lungs function as an air filter. If you look at an air filter in your house, you know that the more air passes through it, the dirtier it gets. The horse being a living species, however, you can’t just replace the filter. It is a long process to get those particulates out of the respiratory tract.
Dr. Rowland: There are no large volume studies in equines about the impact of smoke and particulate inhalation, so we extrapolate information from studies with human athletes. What do we know from those?
Dr. Smith: We use similar AQI guidelines and recommendations as far as when it is safe to be outside, to exercise and to return to work after the smoke has cleared. Above 150, everybody is affected to some extent. Above 200, it’s not safe for anyone to exercise -- horse or human.
In humans, there is information documenting hospital admission rates during times of smokey air. In addition to respiratory distress, they’ve also found problems with blood pressure and cardiac disease. We don’t know about cardiac issues in horses related to smoke inhalation.

Dr. Rowland: What is the consensus regarding the risk of exercise to a horse when the smoke has cleared and the air quality becomes acceptable?  
Dr. Smith: That is probably the hardest question: When can you start riding? The answer is a minimum of two weeks after the smoke has cleared, and it can be up to six weeks depending on the amount of smoke in your area. Thinking of the lung as an air filter, the lungs just can’t be cleaned that quickly.
We’re talking about “respiratory rest,” the state in which the horse is not breathing hard, or fast, or deeply. The idea is to minimize the volume of air moving through the lungs.

Dr. Rowland: What are the ramifications of putting a horse back to work too soon?
Dr. Smith: At a minimum, decreased performance. It may be that your horse is not acting badly, but he is not getting maximal performance because the oxygen levels he’s getting are reduced up to 20 days after smoke exposure. So, best case, he won’t have the same level of performance, and not just in terms of speed or respiratory recovery rate. Oxygen is needed for the function of muscle, brain, tendon, limbs, etc., so it’s a decrease in performance of all the body’s systems.
The worst case scenario is that particulate matter causes inflammation that persists after the air clears. That results in broncho constriction -- a narrowing of the airways. If you work a horse with inflamed lungs hard, residual inflammation from smoke exposure could become worse than it was before the exercise.
    
Dr. Revenaugh: With horse shows coming back, everyone wants to show. How quickly can people get back to that? What are the guidelines to know if it’s a good idea to compete or to ship the horse off to a competition?
Dr. Smith: I keep hearing “Well the air quality is good where the show is.” But if your horse has been living with smoke inhalation, then he needs a minimum of two weeks after the air has cleared. That’s both for his airways and his muscles and tendons, etc. Besides considering the lungs, if you haven’t been able to ride for three weeks, are your horses’ legs ready to exercise?

Dr. Revenaugh: What about turning horses out?
Dr. Smith: That depends on local air quality, the air quality inside the barn and whether or not the horse will be wild and wooly running all around. If he’s going to walk around a little in a 12 x 12 paddock, that’s OK if the air quality is OK.
If possible, you could sprinkle the pasture to reduce the particulate matter in the air.
    
Dr. Revenaugh: If the horse is worked too hard too soon, could the end result be compared to horse with asthma or heaves? Because what we’re talking about in these conditions is particulate matter and the body’s reaction to particulate matter.
Dr. Smith: Absolutely! In fact, asthma is a sequelae (consequence) of smoke exposure. The asthma can be mild, but it could be severe asthma depending on the severity of exposure, and sensitivity of the horse’s airways. That’s what we don’t know exactly. It means that training should be put on hold so that mild asthma created by smoke inhalation is not exacerbated and put over the edge by exercise.

Dr. Revenaugh: How can we mitigate the damage from smoke inhalation?
Dr. Smith: The most basic is to try to minimize exposure. Then, ensure respiratory rest for the horse. Keep the airway moist. Provide water, keeping in mind that horses usually consume the most water within two hours of eating. You may want to wet the hay.
Dry airways are sticky; particulates tend to stay there. A moist airway is more able to remove particulates through normal defenses.

Dr. Revenaugh: What symptoms give a clue that the horse is struggling when he’s returning to work?
Dr. Smith: The obvious sign is that, if your horse was doing fine with hand walking, then started coughing at the trot. The more subtle signs are nostril flair and a higher than normal respiratory rate. Normal is 12-24 breaths per minute, and a rate above 30 can be a symptom of trouble. Also, your horse might just seem a little off.
These are among many areas where it’s so important to know what’s normal for your horse. If any of these symptoms occur, call your horse’s veterinarian. He/she is the one who can determine if the issues are coming from smoke-related respiratory inflammation or from a secondary bacterial infection.  

Editor’s Note: This wonderful discussion also touched on the pros and cons of various medications, supplements and treatments for protecting equine respiratory health during smoke exposure. Every answer began with consulting your horse’s veterinarian because of the multiple variables involved. As of Sept. 22, this discussion was posted on Northwest Equine Performance’s Facebook page and we highly recommend it. Thanks to these veterinarians for generously sharing their time and knowledge so widely.

 
October 2020 - Horse Barn Design Disasters to Avoid
Written by by Nikki Alvin-Smith, for Horizon Structures
Thursday, 01 October 2020 05:22
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A little bit of forethought goes a long way!

by Nikki Alvin-Smith, for Horizon Structures

Horse barn designs vary greatly but one thing they all have in common is the need to be functional and safe for both horses and their handlers.

If you are planning a new horse barn build, here are a few design disasters you’ll want to avoid.
 


Smelly Stalls & Dodgy Walls

 

Respiratory health in horses can be compromised by the lack of a well-ventilated environment free of ammonia odors and stale air. Even with the best passive ventilation systems such as open soffits, gable vents, ridge vents and windows, bad air can linger in the barn.

Smelly stalls that cannot be efficiently cleaned due to dirt floors and lack of drainage for hosing down and deep cleaning provide the caregiver limited options for doing a good job.

At a minimum consider preparing a level barn site with a gravel base and add a compacted stonedust layer on top. If you can afford it install a concrete base with drains in each stall, covered with rubber mats for the comfort of the horse as an easy deep clean solution. Concrete can also be added after the main build is complete if you need to spread the expense of construction over time.

Smells and dampness in stalls can also come from poor drainage around the barn. Stalls that flood periodically during heavy rains, or seasonally when the snow off the roof that has accumulated along the side of the barn in cold weather melts down as temperatures rise, can cause musty smelling floors and offer an opportunity for fungal and bacterial growth.

The addition of a French drain around the barn and/or sloping the apron of the building away from the walls can help. Ask a site contractor for advice. Soil types, site management of surrounding terrain such as hills, will all need to be considered to choose the best option for both the initial barn site and drainage needs.

Dodgy walls are an accident waiting to happen. Not all horses get along so infighting between stall occupants can quickly escalate into kicking and rearing and horses jumping up to reach each other nose to nose at the top of a dividing stall wall. A horse that becomes cast against a wall is also capable of taking down a dodgy wall, adding to a calamitous situation.

During my horse breeding career I have spent significant time working with young horses and I can attest to their abilities to do damage even when you think you have constructed a barn to be tough enough to handle their antics. One morning I was stunned to find a solid 2” x 12” dimensional lumber wall that was 10 feet tall, smashed to the ground and the two young geldings looking sheepishly at each other still in their respective boxes. The wall was well secured (or so I thought), but after this incident I nailed additional 1”x 1” wood firmly to each corner on each side of the partition walls in every stall, in addition to the metal channels that secured the boards to the exterior and front stall walls.

Other walls to worry about are the front stall walls. Open design front walls look attractive and can be beneficial for airflow throughout the barn. However, even the sanest horse can decide to jump out and walking in the barn to find your horse didn’t quite clear the door or wall and is lodged with his stifles hooked over the front wall is a sight no horse owner wants to see.

Aisleways Not Alleys

It’s important to know that horses do not see the same way we do. Their eyesight is very different and one component to consider is that when going from a bright light into a darker space or shadow, the horse can take 50 minutes to adjust his eyesight to be able to make out his environment.

Consider for instance, the hunter/jumper horse that goes from schooling outside on a sunny day to compete in an indoor ring that is not well illuminated.

His vision will not adjust to see fences with clarity right away. This is why it is important to ‘collect’ outside the ring but inside the building before your turn comes, whether you are competing in hunter/jumpers or racing barrels.

As you enter the barn when you bring a horse in from the paddock, his vision will not adjust fast enough for him to immediately see where he is going. Aisleways should be wide enough for the caregiver to lead the horse safely and kept free of any obstacles or obstructions such as chairs and tack trunks that limit access.

Horses do not like to enter confining dark alleys.
 
Narrow Doors & Tiny Stalls

A stall door should be at least 4’ wide otherwise there is likelihood the horse will hit his hip on the doorframe during passage in and out of the stall. Narrow doors are also a great method to damage blankets as the horse brushes against the frame.

If more than one horse is sharing a space such as a run-in shed, the entrance should be 10’ wide or more, and make the shed wider rather than deeper so the horses can escape from each other during arguments.

Tiny stalls provide a recipe for injury for horses becoming cast in the stall and limit the daily movement of the horse within the space, which can cause mental and physical stress. Build the stalls at least 10’ square, or larger for bigger breeds. 

Consult a barn buying guide to help determine the perfect barn for your needs.
 
Nibble. Nibble. Chew. Chew.

A student of mine built a beautiful 10-stall barn and proudly invited me to tour its wonderful fresh smelling wood interior. The construction was faultless aside from one glaring omission. The top of the 4’ high kickboard walls, windowsills and tops of the doors were all unprotected from the nibble, nibble, chew, chew of horses as there were no metal strips added to deter equine occupants from their inevitable delight in investigating the fresh wood. I hesitated to mention it, but I didn’t want to see damage done to the lovely barn so I suggested it be added before horses moved in.

Sadly, my advice went unheeded, and when I returned to the barn a month later one of the doors was chewed down over 1’ in its center and other areas had been nibbled on in various degrees. Frankly, the contractor should have suggested the metal additions but as it was not a horse barn construction expert they probably didn’t know.
 
The Evil Of Low Ceilings

Low ceilings in barns not only limit airflow and thus impede good ventilation throughout the structure, they can also cause a painful condition in horses called Poll Evil. Poll Evil is a septic bursitis of the cranial nuchal bursa at the top of the head of the horse that can be caused by infection or by an injury such as a blow to the head or neck.

Low ceilings also limit light and create a dark interior that requires more expense to illuminate.
 
Where’s The Light

It’s common though not particularly useful to run electric lights down the center of an aisleway. This placement of lights will cause shadows. When a horse is cross-tied in the aisle, it will be difficult to see much of his body except for the top of his back.

Lights installed on each side of the aisle do a much better job of providing the light needed to see properly to pick hooves and work on the side and underside of the horse.
 
Power Up

While it is tempting to skip the expense of adding electric outlets as well as light fixtures to your barn’s interior, it is prudent to think again.

No electric outlets means no fans, vacuums, vet equipment, bucket heaters, power washers etc. can be used in the barn without dragging extensions around from the house or other power source. These extensions are trip hazards and can become damaged by shod hooves or equipment and can represent a fire hazard.

Placement of a GFCI (ground fault circuit interruptor) waterproof electrical outlet by each stall safely out of the horse’s reach with all wires encased in conduit to protect them from rodent damage, nicks and tears will add safety and function to the barn. Consult a licensed electrician about the various options.

In conclusion, barn design truly matters and form and function need to be addressed. Check out an experienced barn building company and consult with their experts and don’t be shy to ask lots of questions. In today’s world there are many options and solutions for limited budgets, and a good barn that is well designed will offer many years of great service.
 
Article provided by Horizon Structures Inc. Visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more. For more information about author Nikki Alvin-Smith and the content services she offers, visit https://www.nikkialvinsmithstudio.com.

 
October 2020 - Pony Club
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 05:18
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Offers teaching resources to instructors and educators for barn, classroom & online use.

The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. has been teaching riding and horse care since 1954, and during recent years has expanded to offer more learning and membership opportunities than ever before. The Professional Membership option is available to any equestrian instructor, professor, teacher or educator who is interested in ready-to-teach educational materials for their students and clientele.

 


“We know our traditional Pony Club and Riding Center models don’t always fit the needs of those who are interested in accessing the many educational resources available through Pony Club,” said Karol Wilson, USPC Director of Member Services and Regional Administration. “Our Professional Membership option is a great way to make teaching easier and customize the educational package that is best for you and your students, with complete course curriculum for the classroom or the barn.”

 

Now more than ever, there is a demand for educational opportunities that can be tailored to different learning situations. A USPC Professional Membership offers flexible solutions for equine education with or without access to horses. Lesson plans can be modified to teach students at every skill level, with organized, easy-to-understand lesson plans.

A USPC Professional Membership includes a variety of Pony Club instructional resources: an online profile, organized lesson plans, the Pony Club IQ (an interactive, online informational tool), bi-weekly E-News, and educational webinars. In addition, Professional Members may purchase educational packages providing access to comprehensive materials to help teach basic horse care and riding skills. Packages include Achievement Badge guides and student workbooks, introductory level certification materials and complementary e-membership for students, and teaching resources for classroom use.

The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (Pony Club) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1954. Pony Club is the largest equine education organization in the world, with more than 10,000 members in the US, and over 500 clubs and riding centers nationwide. USPC is proud to provide education to youth and equestrians of all ages, with instruction and competitive opportunities in more than nine English and Western riding disciplines. Pony Club’s educational standards continue to be instrumental in curriculum development for schools, universities, equestrian professionals and organizations across the United States. Many of the nation’s top equestrians, including Olympic team members, as well as successful business professionals and government leaders, have roots in Pony Club.

For more information, visit www.ponyclub.org.

 
October 2020 - No Coughing: Less Dunking
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 05:11
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Steffen & Shannon Peters see steamed hay resolve a mysterious cough and ease a hay-dunking habit in their dressage stars.

Shannon Peters is not afraid to try something new when it comes to her horses’ health. When her Grand Prix mount of a decade ago, Flor de Selva, struggled with weak hooves and tender feet, Shannon researched natural ways to improve hoof strength and introduced the concept of barefoot trimming as an option in the high-performance dressage world.

 


Her husband, four-time dressage Olympian Steffen Peters, is a tad more conservative. He has his native Germany’s renowned tradition of horsemanship and is meticulously careful about every aspect of care.

 

Yet, they’ve both become believers in the benefits of Haygain high-temperature steamed hay. As with barefoot trimming, Shannon led the way on behalf of Flor De Selva. The Westfalen gelding contracted Lyme disease in 2009, compounding long-standing issues with a sensitive immune system. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnosis and debilitating in humans and perhaps more so in horses because it’s rare and presents as other conditions.

“Squishy” foundered five times in four years and was simply sick much of the time. Although Haygain was relatively new in the U.S. then, Shannon learned of steaming’s ability to reduce up to 99% of the dust, mold, fungi and bacteria found even in hay of good nutrient quality. She put Squishy on it to help reduce his exposure to toxins in general and found that it helped him lead a more comfortable life.
    

Shannon Peters & Disco Inferno.

Cough Cure

Shannon turned to Haygain more recently when her current Grand Prix mount, Disco Inferno, contracted a cough for no apparent reason. The Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar training base in San Diego is not a high allergy area and proximity to the California coast keeps the air clean and fresh. The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood lives outside, so indoor air could not be blamed.

Early this year, Disco Inferno developed a mild cough, only while working. No fever or runny nose, Shannon reports. It quickly accelerated to “the kind of cough that pulls the reins out of your hands.” He couldn’t be ridden and even coughed while being hand-walked. Cough medicine, soaking the hay and reluctantly administered antibiotics did not help.

With Squishy comfortably living in retirement, Shannon had recently sold her original hay steamer to a local racehorse trainer. “Of course!” she sighs.  She purchased a new Haygain and, within two days of getting steamed hay, Disco was no longer coughing.

Meanwhile in Florida, Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper earned two 80-plus scores en route to 11 wins in 11 outings at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The win streak was likely to have earned Steffen yet another Olympic experience. That was until the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed and the show world shut down because of COVID-19.

Suppenkasper, aka “Mopsie,” had no coughing, respiratory or other health issues to suggest he needed steamed hay, but the Peters opted to try it out for him when he returned to California in April.

In lieu of health challenges, Mopsie does have one bad habit steamed hay has helped reduce: he’s a notorious hay dunker. “He could have 10 buckets of water in his stall, and he’ll dunk his hay in every one of them,” Shannon relays. With dry hay, the big Dutch Warmblood would dunk each bite, making each water source gunky and unappealing and reducing his desire to drink.

Steffen & Shannon Peters. Photo: Terri Miller Steiner

Dunking Down

Mopsie loves the steamed hay, Shannon reports, and he’s dunking much less of it in his water sources. Perhaps he’s read the research that Haygain steaming quadruples the amount of water in the horse’s diet and is less concerned about hydration. Most likely he hasn’t read that, but his appetite for it corroborates studies indicating that horses prefer steamed hay to dry or soaked.

“Normally, we’d have a lot of hay left over and now he’s eating most of it and his water sources are a lot cleaner than they used to be, which is nice,” Shannon says.

Haygain high-temperature hay steaming was developed in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University in England in 2009. It has been quickly embraced by high performance eventing and show jumping competitors. On the dressage front, Debbie MacDonald was an early adopter, for her Olympic and World Cup partner Brentina.

Steffen and Shannon Peters join a growing number of top dressage professionals adding steamed hay to their horse’s routine, as both a solution to specific health challenges and for its overall benefits even for horses with no apparent issues.
    
Article provided by Haygain: www.haygain.us.

 
September 2020 - Woodside Day of the Horse Celebration
Written by by Nan Meek
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:25
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2020: Let’s Ride This Out Together!

by Nan Meek

How do you continue a 16-year tradition that includes an art show, a costume-themed trail ride, and a family fun horse fair amidst pandemic restrictions and the long-term impact of devastating wildfires?

If you are the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) you get creative with plans for the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse celebration on October 9, 10, and 11. Why – because these events have a greater purpose than simply providing equestrian entertainment.

 


The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) kicked off the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse theme of “The Roaring 20s” at the Folger Estate Stable at Wunderlich Park, with WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo and her husband Wilver; and horses owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp and her husband Peter Van Vlasselaer: Hide and Seeker, and Prime Delivery. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

An advocacy organization, the mission of WHOA! is to preserve the fundamental role of horses in maintaining the rural character of the Town of Woodside and neighboring foothill communities, to enhance opportunities for equestrian activities, and to promote the enjoyment of horses in all their various roles.

There has never been a time when this mission has been more critical. Home-bound, stressed-out families are looking for ways to share quality family time, enjoy outdoor recreation, and find new educational experiences for their children. Now, those activities are even more essential in the aftermath of unprecedented wildfires.

This year, the events that have come to define Woodside Day of the Horse will be partly online and partly in person, observing the restrictions and respecting the safety of visitors and participants alike.

This year’s theme – The Roaring 20s – gives visitors to Woodside Day of the Horse events (online and in person) license to bring the bling to their own and their horses’ attire, whether kicking up their heels dancing the Charleston or just dressing the part for fun and fantasy.

Art of the Horse exhibition. Photo: Nan Meek

Friday, Oct. 9
Art of the Horse

Last year’s Art of the Horse exhibition drew a standing room only crowd, but this year’s restrictions on the size of public gatherings meant this exhibition needed to move online, to the Day of the Horse section of the WHOA! web site.

Bay Area artists are invited to submit up to three two-dimensional or three-dimensional artworks. Visitors to the website may vote for 12 of their favorite pieces, and the winning artwork will appear on the WHOA! 2021 Calendar. Complete information can be found on the WHOA! web site at whoa94062.org on the Day of the Horse dropdown menu.

Art of the Horse celebrates the beauty of horses, provides a focus for artists and those who appreciate art, and creates a way to share that beauty beyond our barns and stables into the wider community in which our horses exist.

Nordic warrior goddesses on the trail. Photo: Nan Meek

Saturday, Oct. 10
Progressive Trail Ride

This is where creatively costumed riders come to play! It is as much fun for the spectators as it is for the riders, who travel the Town of Woodside trails dressed to fit the theme. This year, the theme is “The Roaring 20s” which could be interpreted as a flapper dress over skin tone tights, or an elaborately embroidered vintage western shirt, or a smartly tailored hacking jacket and billowing vintage breeches, to name just a few options.

This year’s ride will be socially distanced, with 6+ feet of space observed not only by trail riders but also by volunteers at ride stops. The route will be shortened, as well, to minimize its impact on local trails. Because large trailer staging areas are unavailable this year, ride organizers expect a smaller, more local group of riders than in previous years.

As well as simply enjoying one of the most beautiful trail ride locations on the map, riders take away a meaningful experience of the Woodside trails that informs the word they help spread to their friends, family, and neighbors. Call it personal networking, or free publicity, it helps maintain the community’s reputation as “Woodside is horse country”.

Farrier demo at Horse Fair. Photo: Nan Meek

Sunday, Oct. 11
Family Fun Horse Fair

Exciting plans are underway to combine a virtual Horse Fair online with a drive-through Horse Fair in person, at the Woodside Town Center where previous Horse Fairs have traditionally been held.

Online at the WHOA! web site, a variety of local equestrian organizations and businesses, which would normally have a booth at the Horse Fair, instead have a virtual Horse Fair booth in the form of videos that showcase their work.

In person, the drive-through Horse Fair takes the now-familiar graduation or birthday parade and just adds horses. Depending on the restrictions in effect on the day, Horse Fair organizers plan to feature ponies, horses, demonstrations, and photo opportunities that can be experienced from inside visitors’ vehicles.

Woodside Day of the Horse’s Family Fun Horse Fair is renowned for introducing ponies and horses to children and adults for the first time. Giving them a glimpse into the equestrian lifestyle fosters greater understanding of the role horses can and do hold in modern life, raising awareness of the benefits of horses to our community.

Funding the Future, Advancing the Mission

Donations made by WHOA! to support the equestrian community are made possible through funds raised during its iconic Woodside Day of the Horse celebration and through its generous sponsors. Donations such as the following make it possible to advance the mission of WHOA!

Wilver Chancholo with Hide and Seeker, owned by Peter Van Vlasselaer. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Fundraising for Fire Rescue and Relief

WHOA! is supporting the work of The Woodside Community Foundation with a $10,000 donation and community outreach to raise funds for large animal rescue and relief due to the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. Those who can donate, please visit https://woodsidegiving.org/what-we-fund/local-disaster-relief-fund.html to help those who have lost so much.

Central Trail Bridge Project

Woodside’s Center Trail has been used by equestrians for more than 100 years, but in 2017 the combination of torrential rains and upstream natural debris washed out the equestrian bridge over Bear Gulch Creek. Center Trail is an essential link between northern and southern segments of the Woodside trail system, so equestrian organizations and individuals stepped up to make this project happen.

WHOA! is proud to have donated $25,000 of the $200,000+ needed to construct the new clear span bridge and trail segment that reopened in July.

WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo with Prime Delivery, owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award

A deep interest in the next generation of equestrians and a commitment to helping them achieve worthwhile goals brought WHOA! and the Mounted Patrol Foundations (MPF) together to each donate $5,000 toward the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award. This is especially relevant at a time when financial assistance with education expenses is even more important to the next generation of equestrians.

Homestead High School senior Rebecca Refaee was awarded this year’s scholarship based on her equestrian involvement, academic excellence, and contribution to the community.

Community Care during COVID

Enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities is at the heart of the mission of WHOA! When the COVID pandemic turned life upside down, WHOA! took steps to support the local equestrian community by donating  $1,500 to a local equestrian program. Those funds provided a financial bridge to a more permanent solution for the economic challenges created by this pandemic.

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of our times, WHOA! pledges to stay on course to continue its mission of preserving the fundamental role of horses and enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities by promoting the enjoyment of horses in their various roles. For more information about WHOA! or to make a donation to support its mission, please visit: https://whoa94062.org/
Sincere thanks to the Town of Woodside, the Woodside Community Foundation, and WHOA! sponsors, volunteers, community members and everyone who participates in Woodside Day of the Horse. Let’s ride this out together!

 
September 2020 - Sophomore Season
Written by Photos: Cathrin Cammett Photography/Showfolio
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:34
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Desert International Horse Park set for an expanded fall and winter season.

Photos: Cathrin Cammett Photography/Showfolio

Since the acquisition of the horse park and its original circuits in August of last year, the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) management and team have been actively working towards a fun, distinctive, and easy horse show that exhibitors are excited to experience. Even though an extraordinary rainstorm created an unprecedented conclusion to Desert Circuit Week VIII in March, the 2020/21 season in the desert looks as exciting as ever.


New, Expanded Season

For those that want to spend more time in the desert, DIHP has expanded the number of circuits during the season to three: National Sunshine Series (Oct 27-Nov 8), Desert Holiday (Dec 3-20), and Desert Circuit (Jan 19-Mar 21). The newly created Desert Holiday takes place during the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and each week will feature four days of showing with a Grand Prix each Sunday. In addition to the holiday fun, PCHA has approved these shows so that PCHA points will be earned by the participants.

Highlights

Based on the feedback received during its inaugural season, DIHP aims to make each week of its season unique and packed with highlight classes for exhibitors at all levels.

National Sunshine Series:

  1. USHJA International Hunter Derby and USHJA National Hunter Derby: there will be two derbies during NSS this year, including a $30,000 USHJA International Derby in the Grand Prix Stadium during Week II.
  2. Week II $250,000 Grand Prix: Week I will feature a $75,000 Grand Prix and Week II will conclude with a $250,000 Grand Prix.
  3. R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship: NSS will host a R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship in the Grand Prix Stadium.
  4. PCHA Horsemanship Finals: DIHP will host the PCHA Jr/Am Horsemanship 2’9” Medal Finals during Week I of NSS. For this year only, they will also be hosting the PCHA Horsemanship Finals for 14 & Under, 18-34, and 35 & Over during Week II.
  5. 2’6”/2’9” Child/Adult Hunt and Go Derby and 2’/2’3” Hunter Derby
  6. NCEA Jr Medal Finals
  7. CPHA Style of Riding Jumper Championship - South

Desert Holiday:

  1. The weekend Grand Prix will be $25,000 for Week I and Week III and $40,000 for Week II.
  2. Three $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies and an additional $2,500 Rider Bonus awarded to the leading money earner from the derbies over the three weeks.
  3. Equitation Saturday highlighting big equitation classes in the Grand Prix Stadium during Week II.
  4. A Young Jumper Classic during Week III in the Grand Prix Stadium with prize money, no entry fees, and no stall fees.

 

Desert Circuit:

  1. Five weeks of FEI, including four 3* weeks and one 4* week. The 4* Week VIII will have a $250,000 Grand Prix. The pricing will be flat for all horses, regardless of whether it is the first, second, or third horse a rider enters and the flat fee has been significantly reduced.
  2. A $75,000 National Grand Prix during Weeks I, IV, and VII.
  3. Three USHJA International Hunter Derbies (Weeks II, IV, and VIII) and four USHJA National Hunter Derbies (Weeks I, III, V, and VI). The week IV and VIII Derbies will be $50,000 in the Grand Prix arena.
  4. Two weeks of WCHR during Week IV and Week VIII (To be confirmed)
  5. A new $10,000 Hunter Team Event during Week VII and a New Pro/Am Low Hunter Challenge.
  6. Returning favorites, including the Family Class, 2’3” Derby, 2’9” Derby, and Amateur/Pro Championship.

Press release provided by DIHP. For individual prize lists, COVID-19 protocols, and online entries/forms, visit the Desert International Horse Park website at www.deserthorsepark.com.

 
August 2020 - In Memoriam: Robert E. Smith
Written by by Leslie Mintz, for the US Eventing Association
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:53
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Eventing advocate leaves a cherished legacy.

by Leslie Mintz, for the US Eventing Association

Longtime USEA member and supporter Robert E. Smith has passed away following a battle with cancer. Smith was born in 1946 and grew up in Malibu, California. He started out riding on his parent’s ranch and originally competed in hunters and jumpers.

 


In 1968, Smith transitioned to eventing and began training with Hilda Gurney at the Woodland Hills Pony Club. He had two very successful horses – Malibu Lad, who competed through Intermediate, and Timber Top, who competed through Advanced, including at the famous 1977 Ledyard International. Smith then lent Timber Top to Brian Sabo, who would successfully ride him around Ledyard once again as well as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

 

Ledyard would be Smith’s last event as he decided to focus on the development of the sport in Area VI and at the national level. Smith moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work for the California Public Utilities Commission after graduating from the University of California Los Angeles with a master’s degree in Public Health.

In 1976 Smith, along with Kay Hitch, Janey Bennett, Vicky Matisi, Jackie Ahl, and Sabo, founded the Combined Training Equestrian Teams Alliance (CTETA). “His dream was to create an ‘Adult Pony Club’ to foster horsemanship as a next step beyond Pony Club,” explained his friend Sabo. “On the long drives coast to coast we had endless talks about the Combined Training Equestrian Teams Alliance (Bob loved long names!).

Eventually, CTETA became a nationwide organization, was an affiliate of the USCTA (now USEA), and had 22 “Combined Training Teams” with a similar structure to the U.S. Pony Clubs. We conducted many ratings, and with our 501 (c) designation and insurance, ran clinics across the country. Many adults were certified in ratings that included written and riding tests culminating in receiving certification from Level 1 through 4.”
    
Woodside Heritage

In 1982, CTETA, with Smith as President, secured a lease on a 272-acre piece of property owned by Stanford University and known locally as Guernsey Field and began to host a wide range of equestrian activities for a number of different disciplines including eventing, hunter/jumpers, polo, driving, and reining. CTETA hosted the USCTA Western DeBroke Championships beginning in 1996. In 1998 the facility was renamed the Horse Park at Woodside, now a hub of training and competition in several disciplines.

From 1985-1987 Smith served on the USCTA Board of Governors and he was recognized with a Governor’s Cup in 1995 due to his devotion to the sport. The winner of the Woodside CCI4*-S is given the Founder’s Cup in honor of Smith.

“Bob’s influence on the sport was immeasurable and his legacy provides our sport benefits that will continue long into the future,” said Sabo. “Of course, a book could be written on Bob and his journey. But his legacy would be the furtherance of the sport he loved, and he would be happy with that.”

In his later years Smith took up combined driving, and in 2008 he married Andrew Garcia and they lived at their Handy Horse Farm in Wilton, California.

The USEA sends its deepest condolences to all of Smith’s family, friends, and connections.

Article reprinted courtesy of US Eventing.

 
August 2020 - Senior Spotlight: Sophia Siegel
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:41
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A positive outlook on things beyond her control makes the most of an unusual junior career finalé.

by Kim F. Miller

For all its privileges and pleasures, the horse life can be humbling, too. Through three years of going out for the North American Youth Championships Zone 10 teams, Sophia Siegel knows that first-hand. She’s batting .300: good for baseball, but not so much in the horse world and especially when two of three at-bats disappeared without even getting a swing in.

 


Sophia represented the Zone 10 Junior team in 2017, and had earned a team spot for 2019 when an injury sidelined Eleganto VDL, aka “Elmo,” shortly before leaving for New York. Another top mount, Classic Verite, aka “Charlie,” also went on the injured reserve around the same time.    

 

Happily, both were ready for a return to work early this year, and a relatively green mount, Barracuda, is coming along nicely.

With Charlie, Sophia was aiming to make the NAYC Young Riders (1.45M) team this summer. This time, the pandemic put paid to the plan. Originally slated for July, the Championships were cancelled fairly early in what became three-and-half months of show cancellations.  

Sophia graduated high school in June and had high goals and hopes for what she could accomplish in her last junior year of showing. “It’s a bummer, but it’s OK,” she says. “The show season is obviously not going to be what we expected.” She sees an upside for her horses’ mental health. “I don’t think my horses have gone this long between showing. They’ve always been on the go and it’s been nice to see them take a deep breath.”

Sophia has enjoyed keeping her show horses fit, healthy and ready to return when the time comes.
    
Good Use of Extra Time

The time-off has given her more time for horsemanship pursuits beyond the show ring. One of those is a 2-year-old that lives at Branscomb Farm in Half Moon Bay. The dam is Suleika 525, Sophia’s first NAYC prospect. The sire is Grand Prix jumper and elite Belgian Warmblood Jonkheer Z, who stands at Pomponio Ranch.  

She’s also had more time to volunteer with the Into The Light Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Woodside. This rescue is a little different than others because most of its charges are young, typically between 2 and 5 or 6. Most originate from wild Mustang populations.

Highlights of her first year of helping at Into The Light include being the first person to sit on one youngster’s back and helping others progress on their paths to being re-homed as safe, sane riding horses whenever possible. “It’s not like starting a show horse,” Sophia says. “They are much more chill because of the environment in which they are raised.”

Sophia Siegel. Photo: Sophia Jain

Working with these horses helps maintain a broader perspective on the horse world, Sophia reflects. “In our sport, and especially when jumping at the high levels, it can be easy to lose touch: to view the horses as a vehicle for success.” Helping horses who might otherwise have been headed to slaughterhouses ensures that she never takes anything for granted.

These hours of hands-on horsemanship also made it easier to cope with the lack thereof during the stable shut-downs in her Peninsula area. She was grateful to be able to keep taking lessons with her coaches Harley and Olivia Brown in Portola Valley, but not a fan of showing up and going straight to the mounting block. “We had to wait outside the barn for my horse to be magically brought to me, ready to ride. That was tough because I enjoy spending time with them and grooming them. I love them like pets. But, I do consider myself lucky to have been able to ride. I know other barns were not that fortunate.”

Her observations all fit her coach Harley Brown’s description of Sophia as a horsewoman: “She is really dedicated, she works really hard and she loves the horses.” Even without Sophia able to compete at NAYC last summer, Harley Brown Equestrian had three riders on the Zone 10 silver medal winning squad. “Our barn is chock full of competitive young riders and Sophia fits right in,” Harley says. Along with riding chops, “Everybody likes her and she’s easy to train.”

Sophia started riding with Toni and Colin McIntosh, then rode with the Thomases at Willow Tree Farm before moving to the Browns about a year ago.

Good News, Too!

The disappointment of the COVID-19 show cancellations was offset with the realized dream of acceptance to Stanford University this fall. “It’s been my dream,” Sophia says. She enters as a biology major with special interest in environmental conservation and marine biology.

Having juggled high level riding and academics throughout her life, Sophia expects to keep doing the same throughout college. She lives 20 minutes away from the Stanford campus and she can keep her horses and continue riding with the Browns in Portola Valley.  Given the COVID-19 situation, her first fall will most likely be online, which makes it a little easier to juggle studies and competing.

In late June, Sophia and her horses returned to competition, trekking south to the Nilforushan Equisports Events Temecula Valley National Summer Series at Galway Downs. With her relatively green jumper, Barracuda, she was second in the High Classic during Week 1. And Elmo is coming back nicely, taking a red ribbon in a 1.2M class the same week.

“It is really refreshing to see everybody again,” Sophia says. “It seemed like everybody picked up where they left off: nobody missed a beat. It does make me appreciate the sport and the fact that it’s outside, especially as Gov. Newsom just announced the closing of indoor group activities. I think we’ve all been a bit lonely and it’s really nice to see everybody and to see them doing so well. Everyone is being team players and congratulating each other on being back and doing well.”

Sophia’s next shows were as uncertain as everybody else’s at press time, but she is sure about eventually moving up into the Grand Prix ranks. “I’m really grateful for all the horses I’ve had, but they’ve all been a little challenging.” Although she was always stepping up herself, “I had to be their guide as we moved up.”  She and the Browns are scouting for a new horse for the Grand Prix division.

Meantime, she’s happy to keep bringing out the best in the horses she owns and those she gets to work with, from her jumpers to the Into The Light steeds and her 2-year-old.

 
August 2020 - The Shows Go On!
Written by CRM
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:10
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Shuffling of dates and locations and Herculean efforts on the part of show managers got the California show circuit back on track. Kudos to the many who made these highlights and many others possible.


USHJA Gladstone Cup at Sonoma Horse Park

Presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, the USHJA Gladstone Cup took place at the Sonoma Horse Park. It was the only class featured on Friday, June 17 and drew 39 riders who competed for judges Maggie Jayne and Fran Dotoli. While the show ran in the “new normal” format, it was familiar riders in the top 4: Payton Potter took top honors, followed by Sophia Sanders, Stella Wasserman and Taylor Griffiths-Madden.

Payton Potter & Khaled. Photo: GrandPix Photography

Cassio Rivetti & Kaiser Van Het Lameroeck. Photo: TheWestEquestrian

Cammie Edwards and Idol Hour. Photo: MGO Photography



Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials
July 2-5 in Paso Robles
  • Cammie Edwards and Idol Hour topped the Senior Beginner Novice Rider division.
  • James Alliston & Paper Jam took top honors in the Open Intermediate
  • Taren Hoffos & Regalia win the Open Training.

James Alliston & Paper Jam. Photo: MGO Photography

Taren Hoffos & Regalia. Photo: MGO Photography

Zume Gallagher & Edita. Photo: McCool Photography


Temecula Valley National Summer Series
June 24-28 at Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula
  • Cassio Rivett & Kaiser Van Het Lambroeck win the $25,000 Alliant Private Client National Grand Prix.
  • Joie Gatlin & High Five were runners-up.
  • Kaitlin Campbell & Doraindo were third.

Blenheim EquiSports Summer Festival
July 15-19 in San Juan Capistrano
  • Zume Gallaher & Edita top the $25,000 1.4M Markel Insurance Grand Prix.

West Palms Events Welcome Back
July 8-19 at Del Mar Horse Park
  • Seventeen-year-old Trent McGee earned his first Grand Prix win aboard his mare, Boucheron, in the Sunshine Grand Prix staged in honor of Joe Lombardo, who passed away the same weekend. Trent is a Michael Nyuis Scholarship recipient and an awesome young horseman.
  • Julia Rossow & Goodnight Moon earned top honors in week one’s USHJA National Hunter Derby.
  • Trent McGee & Boucheron. Photo: Sara Shier Photography

    Julia Rossow & Goodnight Moon. Photo: Sara Shier Photography

 
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